Tuesday, April 26, 2011

things are getting a bit racy

It seems to be a trend lately, a lack of fitness that is. I've been hearing that lately and it actually makes me feel a bit better. I'm in the same boat, life in general has caused my riding to take a bit of a backseat. I am finally getting caught back up on some of the work that's been pending at our house for some time. I hope this weekend things will turn around and I'll get back out on the bike. I really need to that's for sure especially with 2 more races just around the corner.

Next on tap for GRT Racing is the 12 Hours of Tsali, I missed this one last year due to the Night Owl race which I placed a respective 3rd place in my class. Originally I planned another solo attempt for Tsali but Andy and Abby were looking to put together a 4 man team so Anthony and I decided to go for it. The entry fee this year seems to be a bit cheaper than I remember @ $40 and that includes a t-shirt surprisingly. I wonder if the folks from Gone Riding realized they needed to give a little back in order to keep racers coming back.

The cool thing about doing the 4 man team is I'll have more time to hang out with Melinda and the dogs during the race and I won't be as physically spent the following day. Due to my lack of riding in the past couple of weeks this may be a good thing, I'm not sure I'm ready for a 12 hour solo attempt.

Also on tap, the H8R, the 2nd race in the TN Cup Endurance racing series. Coming up in June B-Rad and I will be heading to Haw Ridge in Knoxville for this one. We're not strangers to this course nor podium finishes there either so hopefully we can continue with good finishes and stay on top.

Speaking of good finishes I was looking over the lap times for the Ocho and I realized that we did out run the 2nd place Open Team which consisted of 4 racers. That may have been what we heard at the award ceremony. Mine and B-Rad's time were pretty close during the entire race just dropping a minute or two after each lap but we consistently stayed around the 1 hour mark. Brad's last lap was one of his best times during the race, right before he went out for his fourth lap he asked me if I thought we could get 8 laps. I told him to haul ass because I expected to get in a 4th as well and he did just that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the before and after

The other day my Dad posted up a couple of pictures on Facebox of the transformation of "Brownie" into the "Ghost of Brownie". I never really took a good before and after pic which I should have and when I saw these it was really cool to look back at the old version and compare the differences.


The Ghost of Brownie

Don't let the before picture fool you, that photo made Brownie look alot better than she did in person. The tires were in such bad shape I'm not sure how they didn't blow out on my Dad. I was a little afraid to ride on them.

After the disappointing award ceremony at the Ocho I guess Brad had heard enough of my complaining. He volunteered to contact the promoter and ask if we should stay in the Sport catagory or move up to Open. I guess it depends on if our points will transfer, not that we would really stand a chance against the other Open teams but who knows. Some teams may only show for one or two races giving us a better shot at the overall.
I had originally thought we did more laps than the Open class 2nd place team. After looking at the posted results I realized that was not the case. I think the promoter had tapped into the post race beverages a little too early when he began calling out the winners and their acheivements.

The past couple of months I've been riding in some pretty nasty weather, mud, rain more mud and.... oh yeah, two races with muddy laps. Why do you ask am I talking about this again? Well I never got around to purchasing one of those BackCountry Awesome Straps like I had planned. I did run across a seatbag, a brand who's name I cannot recall right now but it's design was almost identical to the old seatbag I used for so many years without fail. I've been swapping it back and forth between the JET and AIR9, really putting the velcro to the test. The brand is not one I am that familar with so I really didn't expect it to live through this spring's nasty weather. I've been proven wrong so far, this new, no name seatbag has taken quite a beating and is still hanging in there without the slightest bit of a slip. I'm really surprised at how well it has performed and am curious to see what else it can take.

Speaking of gear and accesories, I've been on a bit of a tire purchasing spree. Ever since Bontrager did away with the Jones ACX I have been on the hunt for a suitable replacement. After the recent Conti trial I ordered the Bontrager 29-4's which proved to be a bit more beefy than I wanted on my hardtail so I ordered another set, the 29-2's, which I've yet to receive. While waiting on them to return I ran across another deal on a set of the XDX's that I could not pass up. Now I have more tires than I know what to do with but plenty of options to keep me entertained for the summer. Hopefully I won't spend more time mounting up tubeless tires than riding.

Monday, April 18, 2011

the 8 hours of lake Ocho

The week leading up to the Ocho, the 1st race of the TN Cup Endurance series, we had plans to camp for the weekend. Mother Nature had other plans and we decided rather than camp in the rain we stayed home, saved precious vacation days and made it a daytrip on Sunday since the drive was just barely over an hour.

As soon as we arrived Sunday morning I knew we had made the right choice. Despite the sunny skies and warm weather in middle of the field where we were supposed to camp was a swamp of standing water. It was kind of hard to tell at first because of the grass but as soon as I felt the rear tires give way I threw in it four wheel drive rather than tear up anything. We roamed aimlessly around the field in search of a place to set up our pit until we finally headed for higher ground and dry land.

Unfortunately the start/finish line as well as the course leading in and out took you right through the middle of lake Ocho. For the next hour while we set up we were entertained as several two wheeled drive vehicles attempted to cross the flooded area, slinging brown water all over the sides of their cars.

Originally I had planned to do this one solo but got an offer from B-Rad to join him in a duo attack so I took him up on the offer knowing he would lead us through the first lap strong arming weaker riders off the trail as he charged through the field.

I wasn't counting the number of riders that came through the pits after the first lap, I think because we were more worried about the fact that half of them had lost their # plates all together or had something resembling a # plate just barely hanging on. The promoter handed us a brown marker ironically and Eric D. and I took turns writing our #'s on our legs. When Eric wrote mine on my leg what was supposed to be 69 turned into 62 but I didn't realize it until several hours later. Luckily my # plate made it through the entire race but just barely.

When Brad came in off his first lap he was earlier than I expected somewhere in the top 10. Excited at our chances I took off determined not to get passed by any other team riders on my lap.

The course for the most part was dry as a bone all except for one section. The most technical section on the entire course, so technical in fact that bridges had to be built a few years ago just to make it rideable. It was like a night and day difference once I hit the mud, it was nasty slick and an energy sucking vampire, just to stay upright and moving forward took alot of time and skill. Several places I found my self riding somewhat sideways as my rear tire found some traction and started coming around as my front tire just slid around aimlessly. I rode as smooth as I could which wasn't long until I hit the rock garden. It didn't take long before my bike slide out from under me and rather than waste energy and take the chance of a nasty crash and ruining the race for myself I opted to just run it out. Running through the mud was definitely more efficient and made my chances of finishing the lap unscathed much better. Not expecting to catch any rider being so far up in the field I was surprised when I caught a glimpse of two riders ahead through the trees. I stomped on the gas hoping to improve our standings only to realize it was two off-road unicyclists still on their first lap. I'm amazed at what those guys did on their unicycles finishing two laps without a scratch.

My goal for the race was 4 laps a piece for Brad and I, 8 laps in 8 hours. The cut off for the last lap was at 4:15 with the finish time of 5:00. I knew as long as we kept our lap times right at the hour mark we would have a good chance of pulling it off. Our first lap Brad and I both came in at just under an hour. After that I added a minute or two to each lap as fatigue and the pain set in.

Race fuel???

Throughout the course I would stay fairly clean and dry but as soon as I would enter the pit area and cross lake Ocho, it was all over. As the day wore on it got worse and worse. Coming off a fast decent into the finish our tires were slinging brown water everywhere. By lap 3 and 4 the brown water turned into mud. The shiny silver polished finish of my AIR9 was converted to a nice shade of brown.

As Brad went out for his fourth lap I told him to finish strong and hurry up, I had plans for a 4th as well and as long as his lap went smoothly we should be good for me to go out before the cut off. As I waited for Brad to return I tried not to pay much attention to the teams all around us that had called it a day, tempted by the free flowing beer. To make matters worse the promoters rolled in was a massive pile of pizza. I lined up on the line waiting for Brad and joked around with the other racers who were stuffing they're faces to save me some.

My last lap went well, I felt surprisingly stronger than the previous lap. The nasty section that had challenged me all day while still nasty in spots looked a bit drier. Not wanting to have been a pansy and run it every lap I gave it my best effort and rode the entire section with only a couple of slips.

I finished my last lap strong and headed straight for the beer and pizza. I grabbed a cup off the keg properly chosen for the occasion, Red Hook's "Mud Slinger" and a couple cold bottles of Yazoo's finest, Pale Ale.

As we waited for the final racers to come in Brad and I learned that we had victoriously finished 1st in the Sport division but because of the low numbers across the team categories we had been grouped together with the Open guys. Our overall placing was still good in 6th finishing with 8 laps only one lap shy of the team with the most overall.

We stuck around for the awards ceremony hoping to receive some sort of prize for our efforts. In the Open category 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams all received swag bags, for 1st place in the Sport division Brad and I each received a bottle of champagne from some local winery. I was kind of disappointed in the winnings but the swag we received just for showing up helped some. Every racer received a t-shirt, pint glass and water bottle not to mention post race pizza and all the free beer you could drink. I made sure I got my money's worth and came home with a cooler full of Yazoo. It was the least I could do so the promoters weren't over burdened by a bunch of stuff to haul home.

I'm not sure if I'll actually get around to drinking this stuff or not, maybe I'll hold onto to it until B-Rad and I get together for the 2nd race, the H8R in Knoxville at Haw Ridge.

Monday, April 11, 2011

bringing the pain......... on myself

Man am I tired, I feel like I've been riding hard everyday since the 6HWC but actually I've only been on the bike twice. Our local club has taken on the task of building another trail at Bays Mountain in an effort to make the park more mountain biker friendly. When I first started riding there it was all fireroads and well fireroads. I take that back there was one doubletrack trail that also serves double duty as a small creek during rain storms but now it's starting to take shape of a mini version of the Grand Canyon. I think I've put in close to 15 hours this week of trail work which is huge for me. Normally I miss most workdays due to my job but I finally decided I'm going to just go out on my own and work by myself if I want to show any support. Trails are an awesome thing and I can't stop thinking about how cool it's going to be when this one is done I should have been resting this week because this weekend is the 1st race of the TN Cup Endurance series, The Ocho, at Panther Creek State Park is one of three 8 hour races B-Rad and I are competing in this summer as a duo. I have never competed in a series before so I'm pretty excited. I just hope that I can keep up with the terror B-Rad is going to lay down on the race course. I'm afraid all of my efforts off the bike might be leaving me feeling a little used up this weekend when the flag drops. In an effort to re-energize I'm only going to put in only one workday this week at Bays, I shouldn't but I can't help myself, I'm a bit obsessed with building this trail for some reason right now. I'm sorry there is no new videos to watch, I've yet to look at any of the footage from the 6HWC race last weekend, maybe next week. I did finally mount up my new tires today, the Bontrager 29-4's, they're a little on the beefy side of things but I'm going to give them a whirl this weekend and maybe order another more racier set for the summer. All the tubeless tire swapping I've done lately has improved my skills a bit and maybe having two different sets of tires to run is doable for me. So I'm at the crossroads of what to do about the JET9 again. I rode a lap at Warrior Creek with Melinda and had an absolute blast on it. The sections that chattered my teeth on the AIR9 Saturday disappeared underneath all of that squish. It is still up for sale but I ain't letting it go cheap, like I said before I'm in no hurry to sell it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

yes more 6HWC but also the Ghost of Brownie and some rogue hoes

I guess apparently there is something wrong with blogger, my last two posts have been posted as one giant freaking paragraph and that's not the way I originally constructed them. I've tried several things to remedy the situation but nothing seems to help so far. There has always been some sort of spacing issue with blogger especially when it comes to posting photos. You never really know if there will be spaces between your text and the photos uploaded. I usually put at least 2 spaces between each and sometimes I get none, 2, 3 or 6, I guess it all just depends on what kind of mood blogger is in that particular day. Do I still have more to talk about from the 6HWC? Why yes I do, have you heard enough about it? Of course you haven't! When I learned that this year the after party/awards/swag give away was going to be at the Warrior Creek campground and we didn't have to drive down the road I was pumped. What I didn't think about was the fact that alcohol is not allowed so there would be no free beer served with the post race meal. I didn't say there were no post race beverages consumed or there were no last lap beer hand-ups and I'm pretty sure no one almost spilled their beer hand up on one of the race organizers. There just wasn't a Boone Brewing beer truck there this year. I have to say having the post race festivities in the same location of the race was indeed nice but the lack of free libation did suck but I'm still on the fence as to which was better. The post race meal was still the best I have ever had at ANY race I've attended, BBQ pork, chicken, beans, slaw, pasta & cornbread, it was awesome. The swag give away was also one of the best I've ever seen, for 3 years in a row I've walked away with swag. Not the cheap crap you get in a swag bag for registering, stuff you can actually use. I hate swag bags that are nothing but advertisements for crap I'll never use. This year I walked away with a Bell Slant helmet and I actually got to pick my size, very nice indeed! I have to hand it to the BMCC folks they put on one of the best races, if you've missed this one or chose to do the Knobscorcher for some reason, wise up folks and put the 6HWC on your calendar for next year. I can tell you from personal experience, this race out ranks the SERC crap any day. If your a Facebox friend of mine you may have noticed the pics of Brownie I posted the other day upon it's final completion. The parts have been in for a while I was just finally able to go and picked them up Monday. Speaking of "Brownie" a buddy of mine came up with what I think is an excellent name for the new ride, "The Ghost of Brownie". With all the white going on I think the name fits it well. I think now that it's finally finished it looks better and more complete, the white grips are definitely something that's going to bug me, especially when it comes to getting them dirty but they should clean up easily. I went ahead and replaced the black seat with a white one I had in my bin of old seats and I think the white one looks much better. Probably one of my favorite additions is the Topeak Alien head blinky. Short post today, I've got a date with a rogue hoe up at Bays Mountain, we're going to build some trail together.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

6 Hours of Warrior Creek re-cap: part 2

I'm sorry about the jumbled mess that was my post yesterday for some reason blogger refused to cooperate with me and everything posted as one large paragraph. Not sure what happened or why but everything I tried was a failure, maybe today blogger will cooperate maybe it won't. Anyway, once we finally got moving Saturday morning the sun came out and started warming things up. I really wasn't too worried about the rain the night before, I've ridden Warrior Creek in the rain and while it was slick in spots everything held up well. Andy, Chris and a few others left early that morning to secure us a spot while I hung back at the campsite with Melinda and the dogs. We rolled into our pits around 9am with plenty of time to get everything squared away and get in line. This year the start finish line was situated on the other side of the pit area for what reason I'm not sure. I'm sure they explained why in the racer's meeting but I was too busy fiddling with my Go Pro to pay attention. As usual most of the NTMBA/GRT crew line up close to the back of the pack, we never really get too carried away with the start, it's usually a cluster anyway. This year the start was worse than I had ever seen it. The normal road section at first did it's job of spreading the pack out somewhat but when we rounded the corner 200 yards before the entrance to the woods there was a line of racers standing........ yes standing, waiting to go in. I was really surprised and confused at what had us held up. As we walked closer to the beginning of the trail it became clear as to what the hold up was, mud, slick and nasty. I couldn't believe it was so bad already. In the first 50 feet there was a climb and the traffic was bad, one person spinning out was causing everyone to dismount and walk. We were off walking or standing more than riding the first 20 minutes of the race. I got irritated quickly and lost my patience, once we started rolling I just couldn't bring myself to stop again. Unfortunately the line came to a halt again but my impatience took over and I rolled past 5 or so people on the side of the trail which of course got me fussed at. The people I passed were not too pleased with me. I realized how stupid that was and immediately apologized. I felt bad for about a half a minute and then thought to myself hey this is a race not a line at the amusement park. As things rolled on the group thinned out and passing became easier. Someone would go down in front, two or three would pile up behind them and I would pass on the outside. I don't know how I managed to stay up right the entire first lap but I did. The whole course was slick and nasty and never got any better. The whole time I was thinking if this gets any worse I'll be lucky to get two laps in. I finally settled into a groove with a couple of guys for a while until someone would slide out and get passed. I lost count of how many corners I came through Dukes of Hazard style but after a while it seemed to be the norm. The first lap I ran the Go Pro but no matter how much I tried I kept missing all of the good wipe outs. Everytime I would think it was about to get boring and switched off the camera, someone would eat it hard. I should have just left it running the entire lap. I thought it was never going to end and I lost site of all my crew as I worked my way through the field but I knew we would re group in the pits. It took over an hour and a half to finish the first lap, most folk's second lap was their fastest. When we rolled into the pits I immediately began working on my bike trying to free up the drive train from mud, everything was a mess and just before we arrived a water line had busted leaving us with no spare water to use, all I had was what was in my bottles. After refueling a bit and getting my bike running properly we regrouped and went out for a second lap. Immediately we noticed the conditions were vastly different on the trail. Everything was drying up faster than I had every seen it. It was as if the NASCAR track drying trucks had gone out after us and dried off the course. I kept thinking things would get bad again but they didn't, they just kept getting better and better. My second lap was much faster and smoother than the first. After rolling in the pits again I chilled out for a bit stretching out my back and neck. I felt really stiff but refused to sit down for long afraid that I might not get back up. As we hung out I noticed Chris never once sat down or changed he just stood under the EZ-UP and looked as if he was hurting. I think he was playing possum because once I sat down and asked him what his plan was he announced he was going back out now to get it over with. I really wasn't ready but I got up and moving anyway. I started looking for my water as Chris rode off and I realized I had left my last bottle back in the truck. I searched around until I found one of Melinda's and dumped it into my mud covered bottle. By the time I got ready Chris had probably a 10 - 15 minute head start and I figured there was no way of catching him. I asked around to see who else was ready to go and got the same answer all around, they were done for the day. Damn, I guess I'm on my own for the rest of the race. Not really thinking there was enough time for a fourth lap I just sat back and tried to enjoy the ride. I stopped every once in a while to stretch and let the faster guys pass convinced I would not see Chris until the finish line. What amazed me was the amount of 29ers out on the course, I swear 70% or more of the bikes in this race were 29er's and Niner seemed to be the most popular. Another thing I noticed was how fresh so many of the fast guys looked. Several of them had clean bikes and kits as if this was their first lap and I went ahead and let myself believe it to be the case since they were so much faster than me, they had to be on fresh legs. My bike and kit looked as if we had run through a gauntlet of people throwing buckets of mud at us. About 3/4 of the way through the course the wind really picked up. I had already seen some downed trees but had never felt in any danger. At one point the wind was roaring with such force behind me I keep waiting to be engulfed by a twister. Tree limbs were being snapped off left and right and flying through the air all around me. I really was surprised a tree didn't come down right in front of me. At mile 12 probably the section with the most climbing I saw a red and black bike ahead with a rider wearing a green jersey, I couldn't believe it but it was Chris. Seeing him actually lifted my spirits a bit and gave me enough gas to finish out the lap a little stronger. I gave him a friendly yell startling him a bit I think as I passed and spent the rest of what I had left in the tank putting a gap on him just in case he was playing possum. I rolled into the pit area and crossed the finish line relieved to be done and happy with my finish, not only did I achieve my goal of three laps but I had a clear head the entire time. Had I been in fifteen minutes earlier I would have pondered going out and suffering through another lap but I was more than satisfied with my performance. This year I think I redeemed myself for my porr performance last year. I did get some Go Pro footage but as usual I've yet to look at it. More to come and hopefully a video in the next few days.

Monday, April 4, 2011

6 Hours of Warrior Creek re-cap: part 1

Oh man what an awesome weekend, not only did the weather cooperate with us, so did my allergies. I felt great all weekend and not once did I feel like dead people were trying to communicate. I'm not gonna lie I wasn't feeling that positive about the weather when we left Friday morning for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, not only did we get a weather warning call from the weather Mama but as soon as we rolled into Boone we hit snow. Luckily I was dressed for the occasion in shorts and a t-shirt. As we rolled down the mountain into Wilkesboro the snowed stopped, the sun came out and the temps began to rise. It wasn't really warm or cold but as long as the sun was shining I was happy. Not wanting to get burned by an unsuspecting rain shower like last weekend, Melinda and I decided to hit the trail early. Andy rolled into camp fresh from the Niner demo at the Warrior Creek trails and reported back that there were no SIR9's in attendance so we opted to hit the OVT which started just up the road from our campsite. The OVT was in great shape, smooth fast and bermy, Melinda's skills have really began to improve as she is riding over stuff she walked last year and she is really beginning to pick up the pace. Back at camp more and more peeps rolled in, the campfire was lit and beverages began being comsumed. I never really realized how sneaky Chris Dillow can be when it comes to racing. While we were preparing dinner he walked up to me and handed me a brown bag, the kind you only get from a liquor store and said Happy Birthday. All night he talked and talked about drinking Jim Beam but he never poured one drop he just sipped his beer with a funny smile on his face that I sear looked like he was holding back an evil laugh. Brad has been telling me for a while about his newest hobby, playing the ukulele but I had yet to see him perform. As we were all relaxing around the campfire he broke it out and handed me the lyrics sheet and asked me to sing. I'm not much of a singer but pour a little Jim Beam in my cup and I'll sing all night. I've yet to review the Flip cam footage of our campfire concert but I'd say it will be entertaining. We sang a little Johnny Cash, Coldplay and some Old Crow Medicine Show. It was good times indeed, maybe if we practice enough we can take our show on the road and make enough to pay for our race fees. If you missed this one the next show will be April 16th at Panther Creek. Not wanting to ruin a good day of racing and realizing Chris was up to something I swapped out my drink for water and I swear Chris's evil grin turned into a frown. As expected a rain storm did show up but only after we called it a night and were in bed. It was brief but was followed by another just before dawn waking me up early. Just coming off of my early day shift schedule at work I never went back to sleep. I tossed and turned for about 2 hours thinking about what the conditions would be for the race while trying to remain positive. Enough for now I've got a ton of things to do today around the house including an interview with one of the local newspapers about mountain biking in Northeast TN. To be continued......