Monday, April 30, 2007

Greenbrier race and camp

I spent the last 3 days at Greenbrier for the race. I was there Friday helping mark the course, then took Oliver and his cousin Tiffany camping there Sat. night, and then raced the SS class yesterday afternoon. Was a fun weekend, but one crowded with other events I had to miss, like the big TravFest, a Buzzard Rocks/Veach Gap ride, and a family visit with an uncle I rarely see. I committed to the Greenbrier thing months ago, so I just stuck to the original plan.

The Greenbrier type course is hardly my forte, but it was cool seeing everyone again, and PVC does a great job putting on this race for such a small club. This year, with it being a UCI event for Olympic athletes, Jim was under enormous pressures and rules, and has been working on this event for a full year. He did a great job. An NBC news truck was out there, as well as reporters from the Hagerstown paper. Wonder how it will turn out for next year? And I wonder if fishermen will be allowed inside the ropes again for a UCI Elite race? How many World Cup mountain bike races can you think of where the pros are sharing a 2' wide lakeside trail with fishermen?

Here's Anne, mother of 2 little-uns, and co-owner of the Bike Lane, smiling in the middle of her Marathon race. Her 5-year-old boy had some tough comp. in the Kid's Race with that Levi kid, and those McClain boys.

My race was nice and uneventful, and slower than usual. I was a little hoarse, sunburned, and wore out from all the pre-race socializing (and climbing those parking lot hills). I rode a 32x22, 3 gears lower than the last 2 years, and it naturally made me slower. Not that I minded, I don't think I ever was at a spot where I thought "gee, I wish I had a harder gear right now..." I can't think of many 7-mile laps that can hurt as much as that course can. Even the rocky singletrack downhills, which usually are more my forte, were hard, and I often couldn't wait to get back climbing again. Yea, seriously. Somehow I think Michaux-50 is going to hurt less than that. Yeah, right, something's wrong with me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

sometimes I like Mondays

Sometimes I'm glad I have a job just so I can have some forced recovery. Otherwise, I'd be on trails every day, and would be whipped and sore every day instead of just a few days a week. And this is just the beginning of the season. It's now Tuesday night, and I finally feel relaxed, if not recovered.

I got out for an unexpected short Saturday exploratory ride when a friend offered to take Oliver and her boy to that famous restaurant/arcade. When I got home from riding, Kim and Lee Ann were chilling on the back porch, so it was "top off the boys" time for a couple more hours of riding and skootering the alleys and neighborhood, trying to drain the last energy out of the 4 and 5 year olds.

Sunday was a special treat ride. A place, everyone has described as "actually fun to ride", unlike what we're used to I guess. Tomi and Shawn planned a Rattling Creek ride and invited me along. The trails were fun. The premiere ridge trail of the system reminded me of the type of trail/terrain like Massanutten West, but without the big climb to get there. There was hardly any climbing of the sort we're used to. Nothing even close to a hike-a-bike. We rode about 22-25 miles (I'm guessing) on GW-like trails, with Schaeffer-like climbs. OK, probably tougher climbs than Schaeffer, but I can't think of a similar place., I kept waiting for the ride to get harder, but it never really did. I started over-riding everything, trying to bust moves on sections that didn't require any move. So, I was frequently landing off the trail or on a bad line, and dabbing very unnecessarily. I felt like an idiot putting a foot down anywhere on these trails. 'Twas also a good day for many breaks, and lounging in the sun at an overlook. The kind of peaceful rest that rarely comes on a Michaux ride.

When I got home from Tomi's, my excess energy was put to the test. Oliver and Kim had just woken up from napping, and it was time to play wear out the kid again. I didn't even put the bike away, just took it off the roof, gathered Oliver and 2 neighbor kids, and off we went on a ride around Wilson College, down to the fishing creek, down the dirt road, back thru the alleys, back to the house, back down the alleys again, home again, a little soccer, more kids join, more riding, more balls in the yard. Finally Oliver was coaxed into the neighbors picnic with a group of other kids, and I sat down for the first time, and finally downed some food in the garage, about 3 hours after getting home. Whipped good.

Was glad yesterday was a Monday.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

gearin' back down

There's a lot of new signage in the western part of Michaux, though only on the drivable roads. Can anyone guess where this is?

I discovered that being out near Mt Cydonia sand quarry, the far point of the course, with 2 bottom to top climbs remaining, is no place to be without my lowest gear.

A group of us set out to scout the western part of the Monster loop yesterday. It'd be all the stuff after Dead Woman's Hollow and before 3-Mile Trail. We were 100% positive that we started off down the right road, Three Turn Rd. We had some discussion on whether we found Long Mountain Rd or not. We took it anyways, and stopped at an unmarked fork a little ways in. Two maps, one compass, five opinions, one flat, and a safety check later, we picked a course. Another turn or two finally led us onto terrain familiar to some, and a woods climb that most instantly recalled. We hit a "T" junction with what we thought was Tobacco Patch Trail, so we did what we were supposed to do at Tobacco Patch, turn left. Problem was, that wasn't Tobacco Patch, and was just some other un-mapped trail that took us right back to the base of that recognizable climb. No one was jumpin' at the bit to repeat that climb so we decided to take the roads and get back on course on Hogshead Rd.

Out of the woods we rolled, past the trailer homes, past the sand quarry, got a positive fix thanks to a street sign, and then immediately made another wrong decision. Seems the actual roads on the ground near the CCC dam, Big Pond Rd, Lane Rd, and Hogshead don't exactly match the map. So, up the wrong road we go, and not figuring that out until we hit Red's Trail, which we should've been coming down. So, we gave up on backtracking down the mountain (some not without a fight), and decided to just go ride the familiar fun stuff, 3-Mile, Rattlesnake, Lewis Rocks and call it a day. We missed Tobacco Patch, Buzzard Rocks, Hairy Springs, and Reds Trail. Bummer, mission not accomplished.

We rode 25 miles someone said, and took about 4 hours with our stops. Four hours?? And that was with a long road descent, and road climbs? Just how long is this 50 going to take? Those road climbs hurt! I thought I was going to have to walk the last bit of Big Pond Rd. Yikes, I don't want to be walkin' any road climbs, in any race. If that starts to happen, maybe I'll have to re-think this single-speed experiment. Back to the 32x22 for me!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

50 miler

The first Michaux 50-miler looms a few weeks away.
The crew have done several rides there since the snow gave way. We've done 15, 20, 25 mile loops. These have taken at the very least, 3 hours. Everyone is talkin' about how long 50 miles is gonna take. I'm figuring about 3/4 of my Shen. Mtn 100 time (somewhere around 8 hours?). I hope it's not more than 3/4.

Bummer that's it's the same day as the 12-Hour Lodi race, I know a lot of Virginian friends won't be making the trip up for Michaux.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Buzzard Rocks pics

Nick Daniels, Nov 2004

Here are a couple shots from Buzzard Rocks Trail, GWNF near Front Royal. Been talking it up so much around here that I thought I better put up something. I got these 2 published in The Riders Eye. My first and only photos published any where. This trail is so photogenic, and under-ridden, that they'll probably publish any shot from there.

Barry O'Melinn, May 2005