B&B - Butterflies and Bikes

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

As a journalist once criticized Damien Hirst for his "Horrific Barbarity" over a bike that was ridden last year in Le Tour featuring wings removed from various varieties butterflies of, my encounter with butterflies and my bike last week is slightly less controversial.

The controversial bike in question.
Photo from TrekBikes.com

Last Thursday I was planning to go out for an easy in preparation for the weekends upcoming mountain bike race when I realized my back tire on my Madone was shot. I decided to dust off the cross bike and take it for a quick ride around town, after all cross season is quickly approaching. I followed my usual procedure of filling a bottle and putting my license and insurance card in my back pocket and set my bike outside while I went back in for my glasses. When I returned I found a huge butterfly enjoying my bike. Instead of removing it's wings I decided to grab my phone from my pocket and grab a few pictures. This isn't a plug but this was my first encounter with my iPhone4 that I really tested my camera and I was amazed by the results, have a look for yourself.

The guy/ or gal (w/e) was practially giving me a photoshoot.

Ya ya, I know bottles don't go on cross bikes but this was just a relaxing ride.

Eventually after procrastinating for about 10 minutes I finally got on my bike and pedaled on my way...without removing the wings from the butterfly Mr. Hirst!

I told you I rode, I just didn't say how hard or long.


Fools Gold 50 - Miserable. - 8000 ft. Ascent.

I don't even know where to begin with this post; possibly the horrendous conditions that led to the 100 mile race being cut short and the pro's asking the race director to cut it short, or maybe the average speed one can push a bike up a mud pie hill, oh wait...how about the fact that of the record 300 starters for this weekends Fools Gold mountain bike race 120 DNF'd, over 1/3 of the field!

As my first mountain bike race I must admit I had higher hopes then what occurred on Saturday. I mean I wasn't expecting to podium or anything but I believe everyone will agree that nothing could have prepared me for what I endured.

Race weekend routine, laying out all of the gear.

We arrived in Dahlonega, GA the site of the race around 5PM EST, since we lose an hour coming from central time in Fort Payne, AL. We picked up our race bags with free samples of stuff (nothing special) and without race T-shirts, that is a separate post all together. We checked into our hotel and then began the search for dinner, I mean for a 100 mtb. race we need proper race fuel after all. Moe's Southwest seemed like a logical choice, where else do you get nearly 2000 calories of southwest deliciousness for only $5.69 (+25 cents apparently now for ranch dressing).

On a side note this was Shane and Tim's first time to Moe's; Greg and I were both familiar with Moe's and the menu. A Moe's custom is to welcome all of its customers with a warm "Welcome to Moe's" (which we didn't get) but I informed the guys about and mentioned now tomorrow during the race when this burrito hits you and you have to go...WELCOME TO MOE'S!!!

We returned to the hotel and got a proper nights sleep. After a sleepless night of wicked thunderstorms and possibly the loudest thunder I've ever head we rose at 4:30 to get ready for the race. A breakfast including a banana, PB&N sandwich (peanut butter and Nutella), and some coffee and we got on the road. When we arrived at the race it was still dark and remained that way until about 10 minutes before the 100 milers went off at 7AM sharp. I fastened my number and got ready and mentally prepared myself that I could handle a 50 mtb. race no problem!

The morning began by flashlight including numbers and checking tire pressure.

Filled with butterflies and Nutella I snagged one picture of the guys before we were off and began the long 10 mile sustained climb from the start.

The field at the start.

The guys. Tim, Greg, and Shane from left to right.

I was feeling really good, talking and chatting with other riders including a VT alumni and another guy from my future home Florida. It began to rain and then poured but all the time I still had a smile on my face. After nearly dying on the descent down (don't want to elaborate but basically ate it off the side of the road barely grabbing onto a tree, with about a 30 foot drop below a 60 degree inclined slope, seriously if you looked off the side of the road you saw tree tops....IT WAS BAD! Thanks to the two guys who slammed on their brakes and came back up the hill to make sure I was alive, they were shocked to say the least).

When the volunteer indicating the first left onto the single track said "watch out it's muddy down there" it was the biggest understatement of her life. What followed in the ensuing hours was a lot of pushing my bike up slopes and aiming my front wheel downhill on death defying downhill with little to no brakes by mile 30.

Mud at the 2/3 SAG stop.
Photo courtesy of Russell Sandidge via cycling news.

Literally the toughest day of my life on a bike...and one that I will never forget. I finished and that all I want to say.....cough cough...pathetic (9:39:22 - 0:16:00 from the 100 start = 9:23:22) Ouch! Over 8000 ft. of climbing!

"Look Ma, I made CyclingNews.com" Only 4:49:34 behind the leader.

This really downplays the amount of mud during the race. This was right after the finish where we crossed a foot and half deep creek cleaning most of the gunk from our bikes.

Throughout the day trying to make be positive about the day the phrase was coined "Making Memories" and as I was told by the end of the day "I'm tired of making memories, and just made 50 I want to forget!"

My battered and bruised legs after the race.

Below are links to numerous articles discussing the horrendous conditions and lack of brakes!


Stitches - Weren't part of the days agenda.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In preparation for next weekends Fools Gold 50, I decided to get a 40 mile Mtb. ride in on Saturday morning, a week before the race to see how 40 miles on the mtb. would feel. Last summer I rode just over 4000 miles cross country, so whats 40 miles on a mountain bike? My longest ride to date was in the neighborhood of 15 miles. Granted they were technical and tough miles but not a long duration in the saddle.

I grabbed a good breakfast including cereal, a banana, and a PB&J to start the day off right. Greg showed up around 7:30AM and after a few quick adjustments on his bike we were on the road. I had planned a ride that included about 11 miles of flat road out to a nice long sustained climb and a 5 mile ride atop the ride before entering Desoto State park where I've been riding recently. The loop in the park is just over 11 miles putting us at 30 before the 10 mile ride home.

The first 18 miles went really smooth and took just over an hour and a half. We got into the park and I was super pumped to be out and riding and getting in a long ride before my weekend in Nashville. Michelle and I were headed to Nashville as soon as I got home, hopefully getting on the road not later than noon.

The trails were going really well finishing almost the entire loop in just over an hour which is a great time. Right after the hill that is appropriately name Nothin' there are a few technical sections that include some hard off camber 90 degree turns. I wound up eating it about 500 feet from the trail head with the blunt of my fall being caught by my left elbow. A few expletives later I pushed my bike to the trail head and headed down to a campground with running water. I rinsed out my elbow to hopefully get any grit and dirt out. After cleaning it up I noticed that my elbow was pretty bad and I may need to get it looked at. Not before I snapped a quick pic though:

I was more bummed that I wasn't going to get the full 40 miles in then about my elbow!

I decided that I didn't want to blow our weekend in Nashville so I called Michelle to come pick me up without notifying her about why I needed a ride. Fast forward about 20 minutes and Michelle showed up and I loaded my bike in the car and calmly said that we should make a pit stop on the way home...the E.R.

After explaining what happened we figured if we had any shot at making Nashville we should find an urgent care and avoid the E.R. at all cost! 2 urgent cares later and I was seeing a doctor within 10 minutes, getting cleaned up and.....STITCHED. The following is what ensued...

Michelle documented...

Cleaned up, looking rough!

Iodine and sterile!

The Novocaine shot was the only part that hurt.

Getting stitched up, feeling better once the Novocaine kicked in.

Thanks Doc! All stitched up!

All in all, the stitches weren't part of the day. And we did make it to Nashville for the weekend, just got on the road about 2 hours late. To add insult to injury my Garmin was dead so I didn't get any ride data. Last I checked with Greg though we hit 29.8, so while short of the planned 40 miles it was still a decent ride on the mountain bike.


Beckley, WV to Blacksburg, VA 2010 JOH Ride Along

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Last Friday after working an extra hour for the first four days of the week I took at half day and started my long...very long drive north to Beckley, WV. Eight hours later (7+1 hour loss to EST) I arrived in Beckley at the United Methodist Temple where this years Trans-America Journey of Hope team was staying. When I arrived most of the team was out and about for the evening (Starbucks, movie theater, etc.) and the epicness that was the dirt track racing extravaganza! I hoped on my bike and met some of the guys down at Starbucks who were catching up on their blogs and emails.

When Danny and Matt arrived we hoped in the car headed out for our traditional pre-century ride ice-cream binge. After fulfilling that necessity we headed back to the church by which time most of the team had returned from their evening festivities. After a long and sleepless night the next morning began as an morning does on the Journey; we awoke to music blaring and the buzz of gymnasium fluorescent lights warming up. Most things seem so to be moving by you at 100MPH as you stand still but in 30 minutes I managed to pack up my sleeping bag and pad, get dressed, fill my bottles, freshen up in the men's room, and get my bike and bags out the front door. After a binge eating breakfast, a dedication for the day (Ride for 32), and prayer we hoped on the bikes and the 5 Virginia Tech guys headed South towards Blacksburg.

I miss riding as the sun is rising and in the crisp mountain air, having an opportunity to relive the experience of the Journey makes me wonder when or if I'll ever get to ride it again. The day went smoothly with a few rollers out of town and a few "Hey team discovery could you ease up on the hills?" later we were at lunch. We told Kenny he was pulling for the first 25 miles. We were kidding. He was not. He pulled for the first 30!

A typical crew stop on the Journey of Hope. Our paceline didn't see another all day except for lunch!

The day cleared up as we went but started our pretty chilly and hazy.

The route differed tremendously from last years with most of the ride cutting through the valleys instead of going over the mountains. The reason for the different route was a sponsored lunch in Peterstown, the team indulged on homemade chili and sloppy Joes.

The team refueling over lunch.

Right after lunch we crossed into Virginia, the last state line crossing of the trip until the team heads into D.C. This marks the beginning of the end for the guys and some of my favorite days of the trip biking through my home state.

Schmidt, Danny, and myself at a different Welcome to Virginia sign than last year.

The rest of the abbreviated ride was on Rt. 460, an interstate with no shoulder and 55+MPH traffic on it. To say the least we were not happy about the route and wouldn't ride it again in hindsight.

What would a day on the Journey be without a Road Side. Danny armed with TP headed for cover!

Once we finally arrived at the town limits Kenny and Fred posed with the Tech flag, Finally home!

All in all the numbers for the day weren't too bad including just over 6600 ft. gained and 87 miles on the day. It doesn't really compare to last years but I'll let you look at the numbers yourself.

The longest ride I've ever done with the PowerTap

2009 Elevation map

2010 Elevation map

Finally at the end of the day I had earned the reason why I ride...a Burrito...

The soon to be Blacksburg Chipotle!

....Unfortunately Chipotle hasn't opened yet, so I had to resort to Moe's...Drats!

Moe's, my reason to ride!


Journey of Hope - Beckley, WV to Blacksburg, VA

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This Saturday last year I was completing one of my toughest days on a bike ever, if not the toughest day for me. I was 63 days into a cross country trip to raise awareness and fund for people with disabilities. Over 3000 miles into the ride, the team was entering my college town and and Home of the Hokies, Blacksburg, Virginia.

The schedule 105 mile ride took us just over 6 hours on the bike with 7000+ ft. of elevation gain for the day, it was brutal. Running on adrenaline we charged up the last climb of the day, a climb I had done quite often in training regime leading up the my journey. This Saturday I'll be reliving that pain and hopefully charging up that last hill, or at least make it up that last hill as I ride along with the 2010 Trans-America Journey of Hope team.

Don't believe me? Here's the numbers with the Garmin elevation correction enabled.

I wrote a blog while biking cross country, that inspired me to continue to ride about my cycling adventures. Here's entry from that day:

BLACKSBURG, man oh man did it feel good to be in a familiar place. Today was a homecoming for me and it was tough, exhausting, and it felt amazing!

We had been told that today could be the toughest day on bike and with over 100 miles to go and a really hard day yesterday I was a little apprehensive about how the day would go. I was excited to get the day on the road and with a wonderful cooked breakfast we were ready to tackle the difficult day that we had ahead. Fitting for the day our crew chief played "Enter Sandman" by Metallica as we prepared to hit the road. The topography for the day looked like a heartbeat, up and down all day with what appeared to be a lot of climbing hitting the high point at 16 miles into the ride.

My legs hurt, physically drained and as if there was nothing left in them; the worrying feeling that I had gone too hard the day before into Beckley was proving to be true. At mile 16 I was cooked and right as I pulled my paceline including the other two tech boys over the summit I felt as if I was going to have to rack into my home town and wouldn't be able to complete one of the most important days on the trip.

Today the teammate aspect of the trip really showed through as my teammates pulled me through 40 of the toughest miles of the trip. As we began to draw closer to Virginia and I began seeing roads I recognized and see mileages for towns I found my second wind and finally was ready to ride hard and fast to Blacksburg. The hills continued all day and we topped our total ascent in a day for the trip by over 1800 feet!

The roads today were awesome including huge descents and gorgeous winding roads under tree cover that formed a canopy shading us from the sun. Not only was the day 103 miles to begin with but the crew missing a turn and letting us go 3 miles before they recognized we were missing added 6 miles to our day and a trip back up a very steep hill after blowing past the Virginia state line sign on the way down we added another 2 miles making the day 111 miles.

We went back up a hill to take this photo

We were so excited as we rode into campus that we almost left the last two members of our paceline but waited to finish the day as a team the way we started.

Today was also special for me because my girlfriend Michelle drove to see us, it was the first familiar face I've seen all trip and really made my day. We showered quickly and headed to Steppin' Out, the downtown Blacksburg street fair that happens the first weekend of August every summer. The town mayor came and recognized us and declared today as Push America day in Blacksburg.

Our welcoming party at stepping out and some of my chapter brothers

We had dinner together and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing and enjoying the festivities Blacksburg had to offer.


Finally a day off

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I've been trying to resist the ride ride ride urge understanding that recovery is just as important as riding.

After an awesome get together with the Fort Payne cycling club Friday night, I decided I would drive to Chattanooga in the morning and make the Suck Creek cycle "Standing Ride." Standing ride means it always takes place and is a reliable, dependable, did I mention ALWAYS happens ride.

Chattanooga is on EST and Fort Payne is on CDT, an hour behind the East Coast. In order to make the 8:30AM departure, I'd have to leave by 6AM my time to make the hour commute and lose an hour to the time change. I made it out the door a few minutes after six and to Chattanooga by 8 AM (EST). After waiting around in the parking lot for 20 minutes, no one had showed I figured it was a lost cause, I hoped on my phone enjoying the 3G that I can get in Chattanooga that isn't present in Fort Payne and found a group ride about 15 minutes away. Made the short drive there and missed that ride as well.

It wasn't a total loss, I stopped by Rembrandts coffee shop and drowned my sorrow's over coffee and french toast.

Delicious baguette french toast and iced latte at Rembrandts!

I drove home to Fort Payne discouraged and debating whether I was going to ride, but found energy to get out for a ride and got 41 in before the afternoon storms rolled in.

At the top of Tutwhiler Gap, before a long narly descent

Although it was a hazy day, it was still a nice view from the top.

The power file from my Saturday ride.

On Sunday around 2PM a group of us left for Big River Grill in Chattanooga; a brewery at the end of 50 mile ride the served as motivation. It was without a doubt my hardest day ever on a bike. A record heat index made the ride nearly impossible for me, I cramped at 40 mile worse then I've ever cramped. After rolling around in someone front yard for nearly 10 minutes and two people stopping to ask if I was alright (thinking I had been hit by a car, and using lots of expletives) with both of my legs completely locked, I managed to get on the bike and coast down the hill into the city.

Power file from Sunday's incredibly hard ride.

The group that left, not even half braved the whole ride, only 6 made it to Chattanooga.

The hill that ruined Sunday's for me. Burkhalter used to be in the tour of Georgia.

The heat just proved to be too much for me, hopefully this isn't an indication as to how my ride this week from Beckley, WV to Blacksburg, VA. The suds at Big River Grill were totally worth it though!

Monday after my horrendous Sunday I went out for an easy recovery. I think it was the first time I've actually stayed at a recovery effort and stayed in my recovery heart rate zone.

An actual recovery ride for once.

Tuesdays ride didn't go much better than Sunday's. I've decided to never eat Mexican again the same day I intend to go for a ride. The amount of grease and heavy food in my ride almost made me vomit twice, I cut the evening short and relaxed at home.

Tuesdays group ride that I cut short.

In other news I joined a gym today in hopes to begin doing core exercises and minimal lifting to try to trim off some excess weight and record my weight. I'm toying with the idea of doing this Omnium in just over a month, may give me something to work towards.

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