Tuff Guy, Oxford

I only thought that it was time for the weather to start being not-as-ishtty. I know, it’s only February, but I was hoping that at least the overnight lows in the teens were in the past and daytime temps would be drifting up into the 40s and 50s instead of being stuck at 20 something. Alas… it’s 14, and there’s ice on the road right now. The whole city is shut down, so it’s likely that I’ll have photos of making my own fun today. We already talked about trying to start the scooter…

Anyway- I’ve been dealing with it. The motivation of having a good race two weeks ago fed in to the training I’ve done since then. I managed a 4 hour ride in the 30s, and some intervals in in the 40s. As an aside, before you comment about how cold it is where you live, just know that A)Ryan’s mom, who is from the U.P. of Michigan, and spends most of her days outdoors in all of her region’s weather, commented about how she couldn’t stay warm in the 40s here because of the humidity, and B) I’m cold here, so how cold you are in Minnesota doesn’t matter to me.

I digress. It was actually really nice on Saturday for a group ride (contrary to what some people put on social media, it was not a race) in Oxford, MS. Ryan went to Arkansas with his team for the Crosswinds Classic road race (I had a disappointing experience at that one last year). I had a long ride on my schedule for the day (a great follow-up to the 4 hours on Wednesday and 20 minute intervals on Friday), so Matt and I packed up early and drove down to the Clear Creek trails for the “Tuff Guy” ride- a 60 miler that left from the Clear Creek system, took roads/bike paths out to the Taylor Trail system, back on roads, then a lap of Clear Creek to finish.

Like I said, the weather was really nice- in the low 60s and sunny most of the day. When the ride started, it pretty quickly turned in to hammer time up the rollers between Clear Creek and the city of Oxford. Matt and I didn’t go totally apeshit like some people, and ended up somewhere behind two specific groups- the people going out hard and knowing that was ok for their abilities, and the people going out hard who were either going to make extended stops ahead/who were due to fall apart on the road back to Clear Creek. The latter of those two contained a few sketchballs (see footnote), so we didn’t mind backing off a bit as we were navigating the bike paths/streets of Oxford.

About an hour later, we reached the Taylor Trails. A lot of the group ahead of us had stopped at the trailhead, and were eating, changing, resting, etc. Matt and I rolled straight through since we had eaten/changed clothes on the way there. The next hour and a half were an exercise in not losing our minds looking for the end of what had to be the twistiest and most convoluted trail I’ve ever ridden for that length of time. I did my best to stay positive with happy thoughts about the view of the lake we passed a couple of times and how nice it was that we could play in the woods at almost any time because we don’t have any kids.

Eventually, the insanity was over, and we were back to the road to Clear Creek. We had to do some reverse-navigation, because the only signs out were the ones we’d used to get to where we’d already been. We did miss one turn and ended in a spot we knew from the drive in, so it wasn’t too hard to navigate back on to the correct route. The road back to Clear Creek is a long, straight drag. I kind of wanted to get it over with, so I pushed Matt to keep the pace strong and steady, and we traded pulls most of the way in. The result was passing by a lot of people who were not as motivated.

After a quick stop at the car, we went out for our Clear Creek lap to finish the course. It’s got a few nice, flowy sections, so it was a nice change of pace from the previous trail. About an hour in, someplace within a mile or two of the end of the course, we reached a “T” intersection where all the markings were torn down. In the woods to our left was a “Wrong Way” sign. My gut feeling was that we should go that way, but the sign on the ground in that general direction made me doubt myself. The trail to the right looked more broken in, and both directions were covered in tire tracks, so we were stumped. What I WAS pretty sure of was if we chose the wrong direction, that we’d end up riding backwards towards an intersection we’d passed miles before, and would add an unwanted chunk of miles to the ride. So, we bushwhacked a short distance up the nearby ridge to the road and went back to the car (later I found that my hunches were both correct).

It’s ok, I got my 5 hours worth of riding, and was ready to eat and get back to the house and lay on the recliner the rest of the day. As an added bonus, I picked up a few extra freckles and a decent start to my tan lines.
Five hours closer to being a little faster.

 

Footnote- sketchballs are a very general term to cover the handful of riders who scare, vex, or otherwise annoy anyone who is well-versed in riding with a group. Symptoms include excessive swerving (like, the act of breathing makes you swerve  several inches left and right, while something more involved, like grabbing a water bottle, results in several feet of lateral displacement), inability to maintain a steady effort (including, but not limited to, hammering halfway into a hill, realizing he/she is over his head, then suddenly dumping into an easy gear), passing in a dangerous manner (either over the yellow line or off the pavement on the right side of the road (saw both of those at this ride), overlapping wheels, etc.

Another Love

Since I’m still a little sick, there’s not a lot of excitement going on for blogging purposes. I feel the need to take this time to profess my love of something else besides bikes, punching stuff, and my dogs… Cooking. Alongside various cartoons and the “drama” of  WWF shows, I used to watch all of the PBS cooking programs when I was a kid, and when a Blockbuster opened near me, I probably rented the same Julia Child cooking video at least 20 times. So, without really knowing it, I learned the basics at an early age.

I’ll start by letting you in on a really great recipe I’ve cooked at least 3 times in the last month. It’s braised beef short ribs, and it is one of the greatest combinations of flavor and texture in all of my culinary experiences. I found this recipe on a page called the Pioneer Woman Cooks a few weeks ago when I somewhat spontaneously decided that I wanted to expand my cooking expertise to slightly less obvious cuts of meat: Braised Beef Short Ribs.  Out of all the ones I looked at, this one seemed incredibly simple (from ingredients out to putting it in the oven is ~30 minutes), and used just a few ingredients, all readily available at most grocery stores (I stick to grass fed beef and nitrate-free bacon or pancetta, so I end up buying those things at Whole Foods). Oh yeah, I also leave out the “roll the ribs in flour” step, and I don’t think they’re any worse for it…

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(No, smartass, the ant trap in the background isn’t grass-fed)

Last night I cooked up a mess of those and tried rainbow chard for the first time

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In sticking with my “simple” motto, I just chopped it up and sauteed it with butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. It was OK, but I’m gonna try something else next time… according to Matt, the stems taste too much like beets.

Here’s a typical breakfast frittata that is excellent following a hard morning workout:

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It’s simple, too… just saute whatever you want in your frittata, then pour it in to three scrambled up eggs with salt & pepper. Let it cook on the stove for a minute, then pop it in the over under the broiler for a minute to cook the top.

If you’re looking for the Ronda Rousey of fiber-containing dishes, try this: kale salad

Here’s something else I want to try to make, if only for the name…

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I’m always looking for something new to cook… especially in the “slightly less popular cuts of meat” and “greens & vegetables” categories. So, if anyone out there has suggestions (or if you want to come over for dinner sometime), drop a comment below.

Season Opener

While I’m still somewhat early in my spring training, I decided that the Iron Mountain MTB Marathon would make a nice season opener. At 42 miles, it wasn’t crazy long, and, from what I’d heard, the course was a lot of fun (as opposed to something like Ouachita or Syllamo, where the course is billed as “challenging” and/or “soul crushing”). It also helps that it was “only” a 3.5 hour drive from Memphis.

Matt and I left Saturday morning (Ryan was at a Homebrewer’s competition and ended up winning the “oak aged” category with his Turbo Porter). During the drive over, I noticed that my throat was pretty sore, but I totally ignored it, hoping that I’d just been breathing funny or something. As is customary for driving through Arkansas to a bike race, there was rapping.

The nice people at Holiday Inn Express let us check in early, and we unloaded some stuff out of the car, had a snack, then made the short drive to the race course. The course wasn’t too hard to follow based on the website map/instructions, so we were able to ride the “start loop” and part of the first lap. The course was exciting- lots of flowy/bermy stuff, and some rocks mixed in for fun. It really keeps you on your toes, because some of the berms end a little earlier than you expect, and some of the blind corners lead you into loose over hard rocky turns. Definitely a good one to pre-ride before going race-pace.

As the day/night progressed, my throat got more sore, and my nose started getting stuffy. Luckily, Sunday morning, my cold seemed to still be isolated to my nose/throat, and, unlike my previous illness, I wasn’t getting a fever. We checked out of the hotel and went to the race course.

After about half an hour of warming up, I lined up and tried to eyeball the ladies in the group of around 170 people. I didn’t really know anyone except for Laureen Coffelt, who I’ve raced many times in the past. She’s a 24 hour racer, and, historically, a little slower than me, but incredibly steady- always someone to look out for.

Being somewhat early in the year, I knew I couldn’t go balls-out from the start (the course began with a 2 mile, double-roller climb on pavement before turning on to singletrack). So, I paced myself a little more than usual. Once I arrived at singletrack, I wasn’t sure how far behind the next woman was. From there, the course turned downhill for a while. It was a fast, flowy/rocky decent where you could definitely carry enough speed to end yourself if you weren’t on your toes. At the bottom, I backed off of my pace a little at a time in order to find a comfortable yet not-too-slow race speed as I passed through the start/finish area at the end of the start loop and started up a long-ish climb to begin the first of two laps.

I may have been a little too comfortable, because a few miles later, Laureen caught up to me (we were about 16 miles in to 42). She asked in her cheery Canadian-nice voice if she could get by, and I was happy to oblige. She’s so smooth everywhere, I knew that, even if she was riding a little faster than the pace I wanted, that I’d likely be able to stick with it. So, that’s exactly what I did.

For the remainder of the first lap, and up the first climb of the second lap, everything was pretty chill. There was a dude behind us the whole time who seemed to be happy to sit back and spectate (we asked a couple of times if he wanted to get by, and he said no, he liked the pace). It was very comfortable- Laureen would sit up and spin a bit up the hills then let it fly going downhill. I started to formulate a plan… initially, I thought, “I’ll just stay here and sprint the final 2-300 meters.” I paid very close attention to our trip though the start/finish at the transition from lap 1 to lap 2 in order to scope out where to start and what line looked smoothest.

Then, we got to the top of the first climb of the second lap, where there were a bunch of embedded rocks without a clear line through them. She, on her full suspension, started to pick up the pace a bit. I had to fight a little and mmuscle my way through to stay on her wheel. There was a brief respite as we crossed a road and started on the next section of trail. However, soon enough, she began turning the screws again. It was very subtle, because, without looking like she was working any harder, would pedal about one gear harder on all of the flats/false flats, and stay off the brakes a tiny bit more going downhill. The guy who’d been cruising with us was gone within minutes. I held on hard and concentrated on staying off the brakes and getting calories every time I could- I typically keep a very concentrated bottle of Roctane drink on my bike when I race just in case the terrain or competition doesn’t allow for me to get to my gel flask. It definitely came in handy on the 2nd lap.

The attacks left me dangling a few times- enough to make me re-evaluate my race-finish strategy since she could potentially open a gap in the last mile that would make me work so hard, I wouldn’t have a good sprint for the finish. The only place I felt like I was really stronger was on the climbs. So, my new plan was to keep on being a bulldog until the final 1/4 mile-ish section of road before the final 1.5-ish mile section of trail… which included a climb that started as a false flat, crossed a creek, then got steep and turned up a piece of wide doubletrack with one good line. Being in front going in to that climb was ideal, because there was one good line, and anyone wanting to pass would need to take the chunky/loose line on either side of it.

Implementing this strategy wasn’t without risk- it was very close to the finish, and there was a straightforward, yet significant downhill immediately following the climb where I wanted to get away. She’d been killing it on the descents (making me uncomfortable more than a couple of times), so if I didn’t create a large enough gap, it was possible she’d close it back if I didn’t also go all-out down the hill.
When we reached the road, I sat on her wheel a second before going full-roadie-apeshit and sprinting off towards the last section of singletrack. Once I was in, I backed off and caught my breath. She caught up to me during that time, but I wasn’t worried since I was in control of the trail/pace. We made it though the false flat to the creek crossing where the climb really started. The crossing was super sketch, and, if I hadn’t kept cool, I definitely could have screwed up and put a foot down, leaving the door open to get passed back.

I made it, though, and let loose again with the ground & pound- hammering up and over the final climb and down the hill after it. As I exited the trail, I looked back and saw that my strategy had worked. I was alone with only a hammer to the finish ahead of me.

It was a nice change of pace (literally & figuratively) to race head-to-head with Laureen. I don’t think that I’ve ever had to use strategy during a mountain bike race- either I’m ahead and alone or my competition is ahead of me, and I’m alone. It took all of my patience and self control to not pass any of the times she offered to let me by on a climb earlier in the race. With my springtime fitness still in “build mode,” I knew that if I was setting the pace that I may not be able to shake her, or that I’d possibly go too hard in my attacks without the legs to back them up, leaving her with time to catch back. Waiting ’til the end really was my best chance…

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Spring Fever

I have to say… since I arrived home from Florida, it feels like Spring training has been turned up to 11. That week ended up being a 17 hour training week, punctuated by a power test on Sunday. That went well, and, after a single recovery day, was followed up with some 10 minute intervals that were way better than anything I’d done this year and a 4 hour mountain bike ride the following day, during which my best hour was the last.

I know I said not long ago that I felt out of shape… I think I was just cold.

The one lingering issue I’ve got is the ongoing hamstring pain/foot numbness on my left side. If you remember from my last post about it, the doctor ordered an MRI of my back to check for a disc issue that could be putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. That wasn’t the case, so he wanted to try physical therapy to the hamstring at the origin of the pain. Therapy included electrical stimulation, ultrasound, nerve glides, and, at first, seemed as though it may have worked.

Unfortunately, in Florida, the pain came back. So, the doctor ordered another round of diagnostics, including an arterial Doppler and another MRI- this time of the pelvis. (He actually requested pelvis and hamstring, but my insurance will only approve one area at a time… you know, because they obviously know more about this problem than my doctor does. Maybe I need to be seeing the “expert” at my insurance company instead.)

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It’s a little discouraging, especially since I feel pretty strong right now. However, I trust the expertise of Dr. Martinez and Kevin the PT, and I think they’re both highly motivated to help me succeed.

Health issues aside, I’m super excited for the first race of the season this weekend- Iron Mountain. It’s “only” 42 miles, so I don’t foresee having too much of a problem with my leg/foot. Matt and I plan on driving down to Arkadelphia tomorrow morning in order to leave plenty of time for a little pre-riding and settling in (Ryan is staying in town to attend a Homebrew Competition).

Today is bike checkover and recovery day. Technically, yesterday was a recovery day as well, though I ended up starting and ending the day at UFK with their weight training class followed by MMA class in the evening, and staying really busy in between. My schedule today is much more laid back. I’ll basically tinker with my bike a little, run to the grocery store, go for an easy ride, do some laundry, and generally relax and build excitement to get the season kicked off on Sunday.

Santos #3

I didn’t have an exact plan for my third and final day in Ocala, other than start the day with breakfast from the same place I’d been going to…

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The shop across the street from the trail (Greenway Bikes) has a Wednesday night group ride, and I’d brought my lights, so I was tentatively planning on that. However, once I looked at the weather forecast, I decided I’d better ride earlier since rain would be moving through later in the day. I ended up riding part of the loop I’d done on Monday with some deviations onto the “red” trails that I hadn’t ridden yet. This time, since I (sort of) knew where I was going, I did it with fewer stops along the way and started taking advantage of the general “carviness” of the trails. There’s one trail out there aptly named “Bunny,” which repeatedly dares you to lean your bike over until you feel like you’re about to drag a knee. As an added “I love Florida” bonus, I also saw a dude riding in tights, a windbreaker, and a balaclava (it was a colder-than-normal 55 degrees and cloudy).

There’s also this thing, just randomly placed along another one of the trails…

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I giggled my way though a few laps of it before heading back to the trailhead with time to spare to play around in the skills area…

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I managed to ride the super skinny one about half the time I tried it, and was even more successful at the other one… even doing it in the “backwards” direction that required a pop-up on to the raised end. Considering my general phobia of riding skinny, elevated things, I was pretty proud of myself. It was a great wrap-up to the many hours of training.

That afternoon, I packed the bikes and whatever I could into the Element to prepare for the afternoon rain and early morning departure. As predicted, it started pouring around 4:00. I stopped back by Greenway Bikes and bought a beer. I could get used to a shop like that…

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The remainder of the afternoon was spent lounging in the giant tent, listening to the rain.

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Later on, I went back to Chipotle for dinner, but not until after I’d found a huge liquor store and gone on a beer hunt for Ryan. Liquor store employees are really friendly when you walk through the door and immediately grab a shopping cart.

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The next day, I was up, packed, and out of the campground by 7:00am. I’ve decided that winter training in Florida is a great thing, and I’m definitely going back next time the weather turns foul in Memphis. Speaking of… I made it back to Memphis just in time for the weather to be nicer here. It seems as if winter is finally losing its grip on the city (though, there are a few cold days in the forecast next week). Hopefully, the worst is over.

Santos #2

Tuesday, my training schedule was split in half. After getting up and going to breakfast, I came back and went out for an easy-ish ride. I decided I’d go over to the Vortex/Freeride area of the trail system and ride the “black diamond” loop then gawk/take photos at all the crazy stuff I’d only dream of riding during a nightmare. It didn’t disappoint…

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I did giggle my way through these two:

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What you DON’T see, either in the photo or actually standing at the top of that first one is that right where the rocks are a little ways down the trail, there’s another really steep drop-off. I’m proud to say, though, I handled it without panic or feeling as if it were a “close call” of any sort. I liked the black diamond trail a lot… it was very reminiscent of some Arkansas rockiness.
Fun side story of the day- the Black Diamond/Freeride area has a “qualifier” obstacle at both the front and back entrances (defined by IMBA as a high-skill-level, low-consequence obstacle that demonstrates the difficulty of the upcoming trail or trail feature). I came in through the back, where the qualifier is a rock… I was like, “hell yeah! I love rocks!” And, I popped right over it. I rode the loop, took my photos, then was headed out the front entrance, when I arrived at its qualifier… a tall, skinny ramp/bridge. I got off and walked, garnering all sorts of weird looks from the 2-3 carloads of dudes in the parking lot. Whatevs… rocks > man-made stuff

Once I was back at the tent, I cleaned up, snacked, and kicked back for a little while to figure out where I’d go for the 20 minute intervals I was supposed to do that afternoon:

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The selfie was mandatory since it was warm enough for shorts and a tank top.

I wasn’t familiar with the roads in the area, and the ones I’d driven on were all super traffic-y. So, I decided I’d drive out to the westernmost point I’d reached the day before and ride the open doubletrack paths in that area. It ended up working well- there’s just enough up/down grade to force you to shift & chance cadence occasionally, so it was perfect for long intervals.

Once I was done, I drove back and repeated the previous night’s snack/cleanup/dinner at Chipotle routine. Why mess with a good thing, right?

Santos #1

Sorry for not posting about my trip right away, but getting back home from a good road trip is sort of like jumping on to a running treadmill.

I left town Sunday morning to start the 11ish hour drive down to Santos.

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It could be a little shorter if I were in super kickass get-someplace mode, but, I figured if I were going to be getting to the campground after dark, I might as well take an afternoon driving break in Tallahassee to visit the Whole Foods salad bar (road trip staple).

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The drive left me with lots of time to think about all the shit I’d left at home… like a pad to sleep on and a hydration pack. I ended up going to the Ocala Walmart on my way through town and picking up an air mattress. I didn’t get a pump because I had a floor pump. In case anyone is ever wondering, a floor pump isn’t really made for inflating an air mattress.

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Once I was settled (also, in case you were ever wondering, an 8-person dome tent is marvelous if you’re car-camping/living in it for a few days), I had a snack and went to sleep.

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The first night, I also realized I’d forgotten earplugs. The Santos campground is very nice with the exception of the nearby highway and train noise. I’d picked what was probably the best site, though. I’m not giving away the number, because it’s the one I’ll reserve any time I go back.

In the morning, I searched the internet for breakfast and found a place called First Watch. It appears to be a regional chain, but it was exactly the sort of food I wanted to fuel a day of riding- hearty eggs & whatnot without being greasy at all. I ended up eating there every morning…

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After breakfast, I needed to find a hydration pack. I went to a local shop and picked up a Camelbak Lobo that could eventually replace the clapped out Hydrapack that Ryan used. I’d done plenty of internet research ahead of time and decided that my ride plan was to try and get to the Gulf of Mexico via trails and road.

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The route shown in the map above is the IMBA-designated “Epic.” A large portion of it is marked with green OMBA stickers to help you find the way out and back. Like this:

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They aren’t on the entire trail, though, so there were a few stops along the way to figure out where to go and to take some photos of the gorgeous, moss-covered live oak trees, as well as the “landbridge” over Interstate 75.

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The map above doesn’t show it, but once you get to the Ross Prairie Trailhead/Hwy 200, there is a trail that continues on to the Pruitt Trailhead. I totally lucked out in finding it, though. I saw on the map that the Limerock road kept going west from 200, so I rode north up the shoulder of hwy200 looking for it. I missed it, but happened to catch a glimpse of some orange flagging and followed that into the woods to find singletrack that was marked with more orange flags. It was a little slow-going because it was a lot newer and less groomed than the trail I’d been riding. In some spots, if it weren’t for the orange flags, I probably would have lost it into the woods.

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At the end of that trail, I realized that I was out of time to continue heading west. I wanted to find the limerock road I’d been looking for earlier, but ended up on a different road further south. It still took me back east, but I ended up in some pretty sandy spots, and I had to duck some barbed wire to get back across Hwy 200 and back into the mapped trail system. Yay, Adventure!

The fun thing about the Epic ride is that on the way back, the trails seem all downhill (a relative term, because there aren’t very many hills there). The ride back is about half an hour faster than the ride out. Lucky for me, too, because I was cutting it close on daylight.

Six hours from when I started, I pulled back into camp with just enough light to see my post-ride snack… a kinda gross-looking, but super tasty mix of rice/blueberry/chocolate/egg bar, some peanut butter, and a little granola

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Later, I went to town to my permanent dinner spot for the week and tapped out before finishing a massive burrito…

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Road Trip Time!

First off, if you aren’t already a personal friend or a “liker” of  Brickhouse Racing on Facebook, you can use the link over on the right to go to my page. I’m trying to help Poolboy Matt find a home for a puppy that was dumped with her momma and littermates in the parking lot outside his workplace. There are photos and more info on the FB page, so check it out if you’re looking for a new friend.

Now, for the good news… I’m going to Florida next week!

Let me start by saying that yes, I realize that it’s probably colder where you are than it is in Memphis. I generally deal with it pretty well and refrain from whining throughout December and January. However, it’s been colder than usual, and it seems like I haven’t seen the sun since last week sometime. Monday pushed me off the deep end… it was 33 and raining all day. Pouring, buckets of rain… All. Day. Long. The roads are falling apart with all the water, so there’s no telling what the trails are going to look like. The sun hasn’t been out since then, and the high won’t be over freezing until Saturday…

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I need to be training to race 200 miles at the end of May, and I haven’t done over a 3.5 hour ride in longer than I can remember.

So, it’s time to GTFO for a mini-training camp at the Santos trails in Ocala, Florida. Exact details TBD… but I will say that I’m missing the next batch of ice and 33 degree rain that’s scheduled to come through town next week. Daytime highs in that part of Florida are slated to be in the 70’s.

I can deal with that. I plan on riding until I’m sunburnt.

 

IMBA’s Weekend at Syllamo

This weekend, the IMBA Trail Care Crew came to Mountain View to give their presentation to the crowd who’d gathered from all over Arkansas and Missouri (and Memphis) to learn about trail building and maintenance and to lend a hand in the restoration effort for the trail itself. The “crew” is actually a couple- Jesse and Lori, from Springfield, MO. They ended up staying at the cabin (along with their friend, Mark, who’d originally planned to camp before the weather turned to cold/rain) in order to avoid crowded conditions at the USFS-provided housing.

Friday, the group worked on clearing the Red Trail. I really like doing that sort of work, but I needed to get in a training ride. So, we rode a pavement/gravel/horse trail training loop that hit some of the bigger climbs in the area. (Click the link below to see the route)

http://www.strava.com/activities/110892655

It was close to 2:30 before we were finished, and by the time we’d cleaned up and eaten lunch, the work day was wrapping up, and I was becoming one with the recliner.

Saturday started with a trailbuilding class, courtesy of Jesse and Lori. Here are a few of the high points that, from my experience, seem to be often overlooked…

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Once we were finished with class, we headed off to lunch and the hands-on part of the day. We re-routed a section of the yellow trail from an eroded, 20-25% grade, to a contour trail that hit exactly within the specifications for sustainable trail. It was amazing to watch… in the space of about two hours, a new trail was born, and the old trail was tilled and covered. It’s really cool to see what’s possible when 40-50 people put that sort of effort into the building process…

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That evening, we had a couple of drinks and grilled some steak back at the cabin to celebrate a successful work day…

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Yes, of course the only photos I took are of people cuddling with dogs.

Sunday morning, the weather was quickly turning foul. Freezing rain and snow moved in to the area around 9:00, so Matt and I GTFO’d without riding. It was a good move, because the delineation between ice and rain on the radar prettymuch trailed our route back to Memphis by about 2 hours. Jesse and Mark decided to ride a little (Lori stuck around at the warm/dry cabin), and were loading up to do so about the time we were leaving. They called from the cabin as they were leaving, and according to Mark, about 4 inches of snow had fallen between 9:30 and 2:00.

It was great to see such a huge effort and outpouring from the local community. Realistically, the Red and Yellow trails alone need at least a couple more intense weekends of work before Syllamo’s Revenge in May. However, this weekend was a great start in the rehab process.

 

Adventures in Old Dog-dom

Old Lady Turbo is 12 now (two years behind Indy, who turns 14 in May). She’s been slowly losing her hearing, and, in the past two days, I can say, in my unprofessional opinion, she’s almost all the way deaf. Normal speaking/yelling/noises get no reaction from her, though she’s still twitching her ears around a little when there’s a lot of incidental noise going on around the house… without really honing in on anything, though.

turbo

I’d like to teach her to come when “called,” but I haven’t been able to find an appropriate training collar yet. I need one with a vibrate function (really, it could only have a vibrate function), but all of the ones I’ve found go in to “sleep” mode when the dog is inactive. She does a fair amount of sleeping/laying around staring into space, so ideally, there’s a collar out there that will still buzz even if she’s doing old dog stuff.

t2

She’ll be going to board at the vet’s office for the weekend since I’m heading off to Syllamo with Matt for the IMBA Trail Care weekend, and Ryan is going to the Marx-Bensdorf team party camp. She’s due for a yearly checkup, anyway, so I’m going to talk to the doc about whether her deafness is just age, or if there’s a possible underlying cause. She’s otherwise in good shape for an old lady…

t3