Fool’s Gold 100 Race Report- Part 1

Sure, it’s been a minute since I posted last, but the taper week before a race is, well, boring. I had a “tune-up” of sorts scheduled for Wednesday, but I woke up feeling pretty off, so I called it and went for an easy ride that afternoon after work.

Everything else leading up to race time went nice & smooth- Thursday, I got a jump on the 7.5 hour trip by leaving around noon to go to Nashville, where I rode the Montgomery Bell trail and crashed at Marsha’s house (I also dropped the geared A9C off with her so she could try her 1st 29er). Friday, I arrived a little early at the Hiker Hostel (favorite race lodging ever). After settling in, I went up to Montaluce Winery (new race headquarters) to pre-ride a little of the race start and pick up my number.

Breakfast at the hostel was excellent as always.

Unlike the last two years when the race began at Camp Wahsega (located at the base of the first major climb of the race), the start this year was from a winery located about 5 miles from the race loop. The race began with a 3.5 neutral rollout- nice for the singlespeeders since the majority of that section was rolling/downhill.

Time for another beer and some dinner…

The High Side

While last Sunday was a very zen battle with heat and the will to continue riding. Wednesday and today were the flipside-  repeated, leg-searing ramp intervals.

The workout goes like this:

8 minutes- starting in zone 3 (about 200 watts for me)
every minute, increase wattage
last minute should be a maximal effort (by this time, my goal is to stay over 300 watts)
rest 10 minutes, repeat 3 more times

Because of the need for a steady wattage for short periods of time, it’s best done on a perfectly flat road. My favorite is the river road in Shelby Forest- a gorgeous gem of a State Park that a lot of Memphians have no idea exists or are afraid to visit because you have to drive through Frayser to get there. The 5 miles of totally flat road lies at the bottom of the two largest hills in the county. This, along with the low traffic, heavy tree canopy, and other steep large-ish hills, make the park a haven for training. The singletrack in the park is foot-traffic only, but the terrain is similar, so it’s equally as much a haven to trail runners.

I digress.

Wednesday, I headed out to the park with Matt. He’d never tried the ramp workout, so he opted to sit on my wheel and yell at me if I slowed down. Motivation comes in many forms. My internal dialog normally ranges anywhere from “this last minute is what makes you stronger” to “you’re fat, slow, and you’ll never make it.” I told him to go totally drill sergeant on me. It was very helpful except for the part when he got dropped.

Once I was home, I took a look at my power file. My average wattage for that particular workout have generally been inconsistent. I’ll have one strong interval followed by a drop in the other intervals. This time, my first and last intervals were very close to each other with a dip in the middle.

Yesterday was the same workout, except solo. I finally felt the improvement. Each time I’d get to the hardest part, I found I was able to dig deep and pound out the extra few watts to keep going. Somewhere amidst the drool and snot, I almost smiled. The result? The average watts for all 4 intervals increased a tiny bit each time.


It’s nice to feel top end & top end endurance improving before Fool’s Gold next weekend. Hopefully it’ll get me up the climbs a little faster.

The art of appreciation- AKA, how to make your woman happy

Since I’m generally surrounded by men at both work and home, I’ve been contemplating a post like this lately, and a recent thread in the MTBR Singlespeed forum sparked me to actually do it- Since I’ve got a captive audience of guys who read here, I thought I’d write a little advice here about taking care of your woman (of course, I know there are plenty of ladies that read here, too. You’re all welcome/encouraged to chime in on the comments section).

Ask or show a guy how to take care of his bike, and he’s golden. Ask a guy how to keep his woman happy, and he’ll usually reply with some sort of confused analogy like this:


Yes, you are at least half correct. Men are simple and vile creatures (note the multiple definitions for “simple”). This alone is proof that homosexuality is not a conscious choice, otherwise we’d live in a world where most women were lesbians.

Spoiler alert- men, we really aren’t that complicated.

What women are really looking for is your attention. Any form of it. This is including, but not limited to: compliments, back rubs, expressions of your feelings on days other than feb 14th, your thanks/appreciation…

All of those are important, but that last one is a biggie. A lack of this is where so many problems can start- your woman does a small task to help you, and that goes seemingly unnoticed (either you didn’t notice or you did and thought, “well, that’s no big deal, I have no reason to make mention of it”). She won’t stop doing it. In an attempt to get your attention, she might even do it more. However, each time her help goes unnoticed, she makes a mental note. She will probably drop hints that your lack of notice is bothering her. Then, one day, you have an argument over how you always leave the toilet seat up, and she slaps you in the face with, “you don’t appreciate anything I do for you.”  You’re blindsided and confused.

Women are wired to take care of other warm-blooded beings- It’s that whole “mother instinct” thing. Remember- the same instinct that stimulates our desire to cook you dinner and do your laundry is the same instinct that will make a momma bear rip your arms off for looking at her cubs the wrong way. So, when we express our desire to take care of you, you’d best take notice.  Estrogen is a helluva drug.

We aren’t shallow (well, most of us, anyway). I’m not saying you have to shower us with gifts and cowtow to us in appreciation. A simple “thanks” and pat on the butt to show that you are pleased that you have clean underwear is plenty. Compliment us on something. Anything. Make it a goal to give your woman one honest compliment a day and see what happens.

So, no, we aren’t a single switch operation like you are. However, I just gave you the short & easy of what switches you need to flip to keep the machine from malfunctioning and causing a meltdown.




Heat? Psh.

Sunday, the entire mid-south was still under an “excessive heat warning” from the National Weather Service. I had 6 hours of riding on my schedule, and the temp would probably be over 100 by noon. If I wanted to avoid heat issues like the previous weekend, I needed a plan of attack for this one.

The strategy?

I have a 2hr loop to Arlington from my house. As boring as it sounds, I decided I’d fill the fridge with water bottles and make 3 laps of the same route with a stop at the house between laps. In doing this, I could have cold water and air conditioning- both very helpful in keeping body temperature down.

Lap 1 was easy. My pit stop at the house was short since all I needed to do was drink some ice water and swap out bottles.

Lap 2 was a little tougher. It contained the first of 2 ten-minute Z4 intervals. The challenge was to budget my energy and fueling properly during the entire ride so that my heart rate could actually come back down following the intervals. The powermeter & heart rate monitor are an integral part of pacing, and lots of experience and experimentation have gone into knowing what keeps me going on a ride like this.

My fueling strategy includes 3 bottles on each lap- 2 with blueberry pomegranate Gu Brew and 1 water. I also had a gel flask full of a mix of EFS gel and Gu Roctane gel (the EFS is very thin and contains a lot of electrolytes, so I like to mix it in to make the other gel flow easier and to get some extra salt). As I discussed in a couple of previous posts, the EFS drink mix doesn’t agree with me, so I’m not using it anymore. With the Gu Brew/gel, I can easily put down (per hour) a 24oz bottle containing 140 calories, ~150 calories of gel, and 100-200 calories of powerbar without getting a heavy feeling in my stomach.

Back at the house before lap 3, things were starting to heat up. I took a longer break and downed some ice water, an electrolyte pill (I like the Elete brand), and a Hanson’s cherry vanilla soda (made with real cane sugar!). That, along with the 15 or so minutes in the air conditioning was successful in bringing my body temperature down some before the final lap.

The final lap was very hot. I had to do one more interval, and just after it, I finished off of my fluids except for a few ounces of water. I still had about 30 minutes before I’d get home, so I decided to watch for a place to refill a bottle. Luckily, part of my route takes me through an RV/Trailer park. There was a guy filling his cooler with ice outside his RV, and I stopped to ask if I could steal some from him. He was happy to oblige, and I was on my way. The hot water inside the bottle melted the ice just enough that I had a good quantity of ice water that kept me going all the way back.

I finished in six hours, two minutes with 110 miles on the Garmin. Tired, but not absolutely dead like the last attempt. Epic layaround and meals followed… complete with lots of TV watching and a trip to Yogurt Mountain (the feather in the cap of any long-ass training week).

Singlespeed Gravel Grinding

The workout prescription for Saturday called for 5 hours singlespeed MTB riding with an intensity of Z4-5 on the climbs. When I read this, I realized that A) There’s no place in Memphis where I want to ride offroad for 5 hours, and B) there are no climbs in Memphis.

Luckily,the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains are not far away. I made plans to drive over to Lake Sylvia after work on Friday so I could get up early and complete most of my ride before the raging heat of the day was upon us (we’re in the middle of a heat wave- complete with daily triple digit temps by noon-ish). I called up Todd the Antique Gun Show, and we planned to meet at the lake around 6am.

When I arrived, Todd was already there on his bike- he’d parked 20something miles away at the Ouachita trail trailhead on highway 7 and ridden over. We started out of the lake area when Frank Webber John Karrasch passed us on his way in. We turned back to pick him up and headed back out.

Side note- Why did I think that was John Karrasch? For some reason, when Frank passed us, I though Todd said, “There’s Josh.” Then “Josh” turned into “John” in my head during the ride. John Karrasch has a beard, Frank has a beard, and in my head, they turned into the same person. I’m bad with names. Usually not that bad, though.

We headed west towards highway 7 on Brown’s Creek Road up and down a few small climbs until we finally reached Forest Road 124. It was a little bit of a beast of a climb with some grades over 15% and some slippery gravel that made SSing somewhat difficult. Once we were up most of it, we reached the intersection of FR 132 where Frank turned off to go back to his car. I continued on with Todd back to his truck to get a little more time and some cold water.

After the refill, I went back up the hill solo to take FS 132 back to my car. While none of the climbs back were incredibly long, there were plenty of steep spots that tested my will to stay on my bike rather get off an push. Two hours later, I was back at my car- final numbers? 5:15 ride time, 65 miles, and just over 6,000ft of climbing. Got some nice photos of the scenery, too, but since I’m laying around in a post-ride near-coma, I’m using my netbook, and the photos are on the other computer.

Come back tomorrow…

Edit: Photos…

Tough Choices

As some of my face-friends/fellow ORAMM racers noticed, The new, updated Outdoors, Inc. kit has made it’s debut…

(photo courtesy of Lightbox Productions)

Being the fashion-conscious individual I am, I am bothered by the prospect of wearing a black helmet with blue kit. After some searching (and Tour watching), I found that the company BBB makes a couple of nice, dark blue helmets, though I’m not sure which one I like better: the plain blue Falcon, or the Falcon “team” worn by the Euro-Pro Vacansoleil Team…

I’m not usually one to wear “team” apparel (from other teams), but I know from watching hours of Tour footage that it’s going to match my new kit. Also, I can channel thoughts of Johnny Hoogerland… the newest “tough man” of the peloton, who (in case you vacationed under a rock during The Tour) was knocked into a barbed wire fence when a media car hit his breakaway partner:


Of course, advice is what you ask for when you’ve already made up your mind. It’s always fun to ask the readers, though…


Interval Days

Yesterday (short interval day) started with a small breakfast, coffee, and Ryan telling me “your legs are starting to look less fat”  (like most men, he’s got quite the way with words).

I headed out around 6:15 for a half hour warmup before looping back to my pain cave- Lenow Rd. It’s not far from my house, and for this workout, is the best place I’ve got around here other than the long, flat river road in Shelby Forest (a solid 45 minute drive from my house). The workout is one I’ve written about on here before- 3 repeats of an 8 minute interval that starts in zone 3 and ends in zone 5. Despite my struggle to recover from heat exhaustion and dehydration on Sunday, I was feeling pretty froggy.

I generally felt great and seemed to be hitting my usual power numbers pretty easily, but once I was back home looking at Training Peaks, it seemed I hadn’t done quite as well as in the past. I also didn’t feel nearly as tired as I usually do. Not really sure what happened there, but coach & I ended up revising the day so that my second ride included some 1 min all-out efforts.

Me Gusta.

Today, the intervals were longer- two 20 min race pace efforts on the single speed. I took to the Tour D’ Wolf Trail since it’s got just enough small roller hills to keep the heart rate up.

Side note: a lot of locals HATE the TDW trail. It’s in the middle of a huge public park, and the trails are overused/abused on a regular basis. They’re rutted, mudholed, and re-routed enough times to be 10 feet wide in a lot of areas. However, I like things that are historically significant to the things that interest me. That trail was once the site for one of the biggest MTB races in the US. Some of the fastest mountain bikers from that era (the last TDW race was in 2001) have touched their tires upon that ground. Knowing that adds motivation to my ride.

I felt great again. Now I’ve got an afternoon spin and two recovery rides before the next two days of long distance heat torture this weekend.

Rough Start

Sunday, I kicked off the killer training week with 6 hours riding the MTB (mostly) on the road. It was hot. I’m not one to complain about heat, and, well, I’m still not complaining, I’m just making the general statement that, during the course of my ride, it went from  “hot” to “really fucking hot.”

There was nothing special about the route- I rode through Arlington, Gallaway, Lambert, Oakland, once around Herb Parson’s Lake, and then back home through Germantown. Sometime before hour 3, I realized that I was overheating, and the EFS powder in my camelbak was not sitting well. I stopped at a church and tried diluting it more and hosing myself down, but it never really improved. I’d thought before that I’d just mixed it too strong, but I’ve come to realize that it just doesn’t agree with me.

I also realized at the Herb Parson’s Lake trail that riding a rigid fork over the root beds after 3.5 hours of road riding sucks pretty bad and spent most of the lap dreaming about my first ride on the RDO. Before hitting the road again, I hosed myself down once more and was off to finish the last hour & a half of the ride. I knew soon after that I was pretty far past being able to cool off, and that my only hope was a dark rain cloud in front of me, but I seemed to be tailing it by a few minutes.

The last hour was pretty brutal. My brain was boiling inside my skull, so I was feeling incredibly loopy. I thought about calling for a ride home, but wasn’t about to admit defeat. Looking back, I’m surprised I was able to find my way home. I did, though. When I walked through the door, I immediately went to take a cold shower. Me = 1, Heat = 0… I think.

I felt bad the rest of the day. I felt bad most of Monday. I’m also stoked that I gutted it out. Whatever doesn’t kill you & whatnot…

The remainder of the day was spent mostly laying around in compression tights drinking ice water, eating the lasagna that Ryan made, and taking photos with random large objects brought over by one of Ryan’s teammates who is getting ready to move to Germany. He took the gun back, but left us with an interesting object he’d found on the side of the road during a ride…



Next on the schedule?

Monday- recovery/chiropractor
Tuesday- short intervals
Wednesday- long intervals



Training Rabbit Hole

After botching ORAMM, I was tempted to disappear into the woods of Pisgah NF with my bike, live off of insects and berries, and not emerge until I was the most fierce off-road cyclist in existence- somewhat like Beatrix Kiddo shipping off to train with Pai Mei in Kill Bill. Seeing that I don’t like the taste of insects, and I’m not sure whether or not a Kung Fu master of any sort lives in the forest, I resolved myself to driving home and discussing my lofty training wishes with my coach. After a few recovery days, he finally sent me the message, “Your Dojo is ready ;-)”

So, starting with 6 hours tomorrow, my next 8 days in Training Peaks totals up to 26 hours of riding.

I’ve churned out some tough weeks this season- including some 14-16-18 sets of 3, and everything has generally gone well. This will be a test, but I’m confident it’s one I can ace with plenty of food, rest, and maybe a trip to Lake Sylvia for some forest roads next weekend.



RDO Update

I’m accumulating a large number of parts at the shop, and, as of Tuesday, the only thing I lack is a headset, which I’d ordered a couple of weeks ago from Chris King through their employee purchase program. Sometimes manufacturers sit on EP orders a little while, so I haven’t been in too much of a rush for parts since my frame currently looks like this:

However, I figured yesterday that I should call and check in on it just to make sure the fax didn’t get lost or rolled into a large joint and smoked by the employees of the King company. Turns out, they didn’t have the shop address I’d put on my form listed as an Outdoors, Inc location (we have a main warehouse, which they did have on file), so they just didn’t process it. No call, email, or other attempt to contact…

It’s straight now. My headset should be shipping today.

Other than being severely over budget, this is going to be the most awesome build I’ve done to date.