Thursday, December 16, 2021

How can I convince you its me I don’t like

As the year is nearing the end, this is typically the season that I look forward to doing pre Gravel Grovel rides to prepare for my favorite race of the year. But, this year....or I guess I really should say these last 2 years have really been strange for me. My riding has really fallen off and I am way out of shape from where I was. I signed up for the GG in hopes that it would help motivate me to get out on the bike more than I had been, but it didn't work. I did ride some, but not near enough to make up for a year of loosing fitness. As the weekend was getting closer, I was really considering not going. There were some talks about a fun ride that day, but the plans were pretty loose and kept changing. I was not feeling fast enough to keep up anyway. I made the decision to just go anyway and get a good ride in even if I would not be "racing". I really didn't want to miss since I have yet to miss one. 

Then out of what seemed like nowhere a shining light appeared. Misty was talking about the race and we came up with the plan to ride together. The last time the race done she completed the route but finished outside the time cut off and was not an official finisher. I wanted to help change that. There were worries on both sides that we would be too slow for the other. I was not worried about going fast since I am not what I would call fast anymore. I really figured she would be waiting on me and I didn't want that to happen. I never know what legs will show up. Some days they do a lot better than others. A 60+ mile day is not a good day for them not to show up. 

We started the race off toward the back half of the pack. Things were rolling along pretty well. The first big climb had me hurting already, but I expected that. As we rolled in to Nebo I was having a blast. That section is so much more fun than climbing up the other side. There were some harry sections that I was really missing my suspension, but I was just happy to be in the woods. Back on the road the legs were acting like it was going to be a hard day. I kept rolling and moving as good as possible. Misty and me stayed together pretty well all day. There were times we got a little apart, but that would not last too long.

As the day went on the hills hurt more and more. We just needed to keep moving. I could not help myself and grabbed a beer at the Hickory Ridge rest stop. It was so good and was ready to call it a day, but I knew we needed to finish. The rest of the route seemed to be a blur with good times and painful times. I know I was fading in and out of a dark place but not sure if Misty was or not. I do know that the chatting seemed to slow down. I'm sure we both were ready to be done. It didn't really help much when we hit the end of blue creek and the mud was soft and took a lot of energy to keep rolling. Eventually we hopped back on the road and I knew we were on the home stretch. 

I kept trying to keep the pace up the best I could but also didn't want to make Misty go harder than she should. Before we started she made a comment about hoping to finish in 7 hours. I told her I thought 6 was more reasonable. I'm pretty sure she thought I was crazy, but when we rolled across the line with a time of 6:15, she was very happy. To make things even better she ended up finishing in 2nd place for the Women's MTB class. Awesome job Misty!!! I figure if I didn't have the beer that made us stay at the rest stop longer than I normally would have, we just might have hit that 6 hour mark. Sorry :-)

I can't believe how long it has been since I have posted something here. I have thought about things to post, but I just never seemed to have the motivation to put it down and after a few days of not posting it, the thought would fade away. So many things I wanted to say, but not really sure how to say it all. I am a mess of a rider. I am so far from where I was at the end of 2019. It is very sad to think about where I was and where I am. My mileage has dropped way off. I have filled my time with other things than riding. Not all of these bad, but not as conductive to riding fast. I have helped do several home projects, deck builds and roofing projects with friends. I have completely loved this time, but it came with eating habits that were not good and also came with a lot more drinking. This has me being back to a weight that I was probably 5-6 years ago or more. 

I thought my miles were way down for 2020. Not that they weren't compared to previous years, but in 2020 I put in around 2,700 miles and 2021 I have dropped that down to 1,600. I have to look back to 2012 to find similar mileage totals for the year. I have had a lot of mental blocks that have been the issue. I developed a severe anxiety about riding on the road. I can't even explain how I feel. There are times I feel like I can't even move and I can't force myself to get out the door. The convenience of riding from the house is huge and really puts a damper on my miles. It even has effected me enough that I just don't have the motivation to load up the jeep and head to the trail or a gravel road that I am more comfortable with riding on.

I have done some very fun rides with some good friends. This guy above put up with me trying to do PMBAR and wanting to quit at the top of the first climb. I made my first trip to Bentonville to ride a bunch of fun stuff there. All of my rides have been slower, shorter and more laid back, but I have still had some fun. I am really trying to get myself out of this funk and back to being healthier and happier. I am at my happiest when I am getting enough time behind the bars to keep thoughts from getting out of control. I can't say thank you enough for everyone that has stuck with me and put up with me whining about being slow. You don't know how much it really means to me. 

I know that the only way to get stronger/faster is to ride, but it is hard to commit to riding with people when I feel like I can't do their pace. I know most of the time they don't care, but I also know that when you have to wait a lot it is not as fun. So, here is to kicking this year to the curb and getting back to track for 2022. Not sure where I'm going, but I sure hope it involves a lot more hours and miles riding a bike. Here is a little photo dump for all the posts that I should have done this year. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

2020 BT pandEpic


Sorry, this would have been posted a while back but I have been waiting on the other pictures to be posted. I'm sure as soon as I post, they will show up. 

This year has been an odd one. Lots of things getting moved and/or cancelled. I had signed up for this race a while back since it typically sells out in the same day that it opens. I had a lot of fun last year and wanted to go back. Most of my schedule has been a mess and when they said they were still having the race, I had a cabin reserved and someone to share the trip with I figured why not. I was unsure how comfortable I would be with a lot of people racing this event and one big draw is the after party is normally off the hook. Those are all things I have been avoiding for several months now. But, I knew that there was plenty of opportunity for me to race the event and still be able to slide off to the side and find a situation that I felt comfortable with. 

I came in to this race not up to the level that I wanted to be in or that I would normally be in. I signed up in the 40-49 class and brought several more gears than last year and a lot more suspension travel. Not only have I not touched my road bike since February but for some reason I have lost my loving feeling for my SS. I still love the whole idea of it and the bikes are beautiful, but I just don't really have the desire to ride one. I haven not really been training or worried about going fast and the full suspension has been a blast to ride. I also figured that being out of shape the gears would be a welcomed addition. I have been thinking that I need a post to cover some of the thinks that have changed in my cycling world, but no one really needs to know what all goes on inside there.

The trip out with E2 was nice. Thankfully when we got there we were able to check in to the cabin. We got unloaded and then headed out to ride the last section of trail. Lots of leaves and super dry corners that were slick. It was a good ride, but I was a little worried about how the legs were feeling. I didn't over think it since my whole plan was to just have a good day in the woods. As we finished the loop we headed over to registration. The line was long, but overall they were doing a good job of keeping it moving. People were staying spaced out and everyone was wearing a mask.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Pisgah just for fun


This trip was originally scheduled as a race weekend. The race was eventually cancelled after being moved once already. The idea to still go and make it more of a couples weekend sounded like a great idea. I have always wanted to get my wife down here to see this beautiful place. It should be a little less hard core rides and a little more relaxing stuff. There is a lot of things I would like to see here, but most of the time is spent turning pedals over for very long days followed by drinking and eating. Not that I'm complaining about that. Sorry, but this will not be like most race recaps and maybe a little more of just a photo show and some highlights.

As the weekend was getting closer old Sally in the gulf was trying to ruin some plans. Thankfully as the weekend got closer, the weather improved. We had some rain on Thursday for the drive down. It messed up the activities planned for that day, but it ended up not really mattering. After the almost 8 hour drive I pulled up to the house and started to unload. It turns out that somehow a spoke decided to break on my back wheel. It was not broke when I loaded. This left me with once again a bike that was not fully functional in a place you need everything to work correctly or you could end up with a very long hike out. 

After unloading everything, I checked to make sure Squatch Bikes and Brews would still be open and able to work on my wheel. Thankfully they said it would be no problem and since they also serve beer, everyone decided to tag along. They saved my weekend twice in the same year. We hung out a little, had a beer or so and did a little shopping before heading back to the house to figure out what was for dinner and maybe drink another beer.

Friday's plan was to do Laurel/Pilot with some Slate loop. The ladies not riding were going to do a hike and Pinkbeds was decided on. With that being where it is, it helped us shuttle up to the Slate parking area to start our ride. I rode all of this loop better than I have done in the last several times trying. I still crashed pretty hard on Pilot right before the big rock stopping spot. This had me a little tentative on all the switchbacks and that was not all bad with how slick the roots and rocks were. Some of us were wearing out and decided to take the shuttle van that was parked there down the hill. The other riders were going to ride down. Everyone met back up at the Hub for a drink and some food. The ladies were already there and then Lexington group showed up. After last call we headed back to the house for more food and beer. 

Saturday's plan was Turkey Pen, Squirrel, Avery Creek and Bennett. The ladies were doing a nice ride at DuPont.  We shuttled out to a very full parking lot for cars, but an empty lot for horse trailers. It seemed like the horse to bike/hike parking area was a little too heavy toward the horses. I actually don't see how any of the horse trailers make it all the way to the parking lot. It is not the best road to travel. 

Right out of the lot is a ripping down hill to the bottom and then we start climbing. I rode way more technical little sections on Squirrel than I ever have. I contribute to having a full suspension bike and more than one gear for allowing me to ride stuff that I never would have made on the SS. After all the climbing and then hanging on for Avery Creek, I was cooked. I made the decision to skip Bennett and just ride on back to the Hub. I was glad that no one gave me any crap or tried to twist my arm because I would have ended up going and would have been even more blown out and maybe even crashed. The only thing I know is I was the first one with a beer in hand. 

We ended up hanging out at the Hub again for a little while. The Lexington group joined us and we were having a lot of fun. I'm not sure if it was last call again or what, but next thing I know I was back on my bike, not in my riding shoes and riding to the house. After slipping off the pedals and almost crashing I decided to settle down a little and just ride with out any wheelies or silly stuff. We ordered more food, drank more beer and had a great rest of the evening. I am so glad that a couple of the Lexington group stopped by. 

The next morning I was moving a little slow. Everyone was up and moving to hit the road or at least the ones who were leaving. I decided to take a little more scenic route back home and went up 276. This road was a nice change from the interstate. We stopped at Looking Glass Falls and we also made roadside stop for a breakfast picnic. Sometime I'll look at heading out the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I thought that would add too much time to the drive. 

It was a very fun weekend away. We did a good job of being socially distant overall and was only close contact with people that I have been with here in Indiana. We ordered take out every night and at at the house. I consider the trip a success since Becky had a great time and wants to go back. We just need to stay a little longer sometime and do all those tourist things I never really get around to doing. The group of people also make the trip fun even with all the verbal abuse. Now I just have to wait until we can do it all again.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

AES - 2020 The 45

This page has been pretty quiet for the last few months. There has been a lot of things going on in my head since my last post. I have tossed around ideas how to try and explain it all, but so far it has not made it in to this page yet. Maybe some day I will try to explain, maybe I won't. I have had a couple weekends that were worth putting posts up, but those too just didn't seem to make it. Last weekend I finally did something that made me want to post on here. I am hoping this trend will continue.

Friday afternoon we headed down to Sheltowee Camp to check in to our home for the weekend. This is a great place and owners go above and beyond trying to make their guests enjoy themselves. We had a blast last year, so it was a no brainer when it was time to make a reservation for this years race. Now granted, this race was supposed to be several months ago, but we were ready to be here. There was a lot of rain in the forecast earlier in the week, but it was looking like it might be better than expected.

We drove through some rain on the way, but it was scattered all over the place. Pouring rain one minute and sunny the next. As we were getting closer it looked like a cloud was over the camping area. It turned out that they did have a little shower before we got there, but was looking good at the moment. We ate and set up camp. By then it was almost time we could check in, so I waited to ride until after that. My plan was to do a trail ride with my wife, but we got there a little later than planned and with the cloudy skies the woods were darker than normal. She told me to get the ride I needed with out her.

I headed out on the trail section. The trail was in really good shape for it just having a little shower. The only issue I had was that it was so muggy that I was completely soaked in no time and was having trouble seeing through my glasses for most of the ride. I was still getting used to a few of the changes I had made to this bike, but overall it was riding well and I was having fun. I popped out at the boat ramp and figured I better take a look at the map before going farther. I had a fair amount of distance to get back to camp and it looked like I would have even more if I kept going on the trail. It was going to get dark quickly. I had a head light, but still didn't want to be out there as long it could have ended up.

I went about getting as much stuff ready for the next morning as I could. It started raining and being lovely. When we finally went to bed it had seemed like it was cooled off and should have been ok. Well that was far from reality. It was so hot and humid in the tent that we really struggled to be comfortable and get to sleep. I adjusted the vents as much as I could with out letting the rain come in. Eventually it was better and I fell asleep, but this was far from ideal. I woke up several times and my legs had a little hints of cramping through the night. I tried to hydrate and rest as much as I could. Eventually I could no longer lay there and got up and getting ready. It was earlier than I wanted to and I was way more tired that I would have liked to have been, but not much I could do about that now.

I had to get my Christopher Bean Coffee going so I could really get moving. I felt like I ate a good breakfast and finished getting my bike and stuff ready. It was kind of raining on and off, but I could not tell if it was from the trees or actually raining. It was nice relaxing a little before the race. I always feel like I am running around trying to get all the last minute stuff taken care of before it is time to line up. I still felt like I was a little last minute, but maybe that was because I was not riding around warming up like a lot of people were. I was not that worried about it. I knew it was already going to be a long day and with the road ride down to the start and then the start climb, I figured I didn't need any more riding.


I felt like I was moving better than the previous year, but Strava disagrees. Maybe it was because I was riding gears this year and was not working as hard as normal. I know I sure was breathing better than last year. I hit the trail and it seemed pretty spaced out. There was a couple that made a mistake or so and I got by. I was holding a good pace and followed some people going about where I needed to hold. Toward the end where the steeper climb is, it felt like it hurt more than it should have. After that I was not quite as strong as I felt I should have been. I didn't ride too bad on the road, but I was definitely not as strong as I expected to be.

As the gravel started showing up, I could already tell I was not as strong as I was hoping. I didn't plan on stopping at the rest stop the first time, but I was not expecting to see it where it was. I think it was not set up at the correct intersection. The climb up on the first part of the gravel loop was really hard. I was climbing everything, but the pace was much slower than I was hoping I would be able to hold. At least the views were good and I was enjoying the pain. We eventually rolled up to the turn off for the mud road known as Middle Ridge. This year it was supposed to be less muddy than before. I am not sure how bad that section was, but this section was pretty similar to what I expected after last year. The only thing I know for sure was missing was the tech downhill in to the rock overhang. I didn't miss the down hill and last year I was working so hard to just stay standing that I didn't really get to enjoy looking at the rock features.

I must have been riding the mud section pretty well since most of the people that I was riding with were no longer to be seen. I don't like the deep mud holes, but I have done my share of riding this exact kind of road. So many trails had very similar sections, you know, BITD. lol. I did ended up sinking my back wheel in one of the holes. My shifting instantly sounded horrible. I figured it was just more bad juju that this bike was giving me for putting gears on it. It has not been kind so far. I started to have issues shifting out of the the big ring in the back. At one point I had to actually stop and help it shift off of the big ring. From that point on I just tried to keep it a cog farther down. 

As I rolled in to the rest stop that was where I expected it to be (and was not there earlier) I stopped to get my drop bag. I didn't really need most of it since I had not been eating enough, but I wanted to put some more CarboRocket Half Evil in my bottle. The issue was they were pretty much out of water. The one lady had part of a bottle and said there was another area farther down that had more water. I took part of a bottle and saved the rest for someone else and took off. I was feeling pretty rough threw this part and was way behind of what I needed to be eating or drinking. I was looking forward to the road section thinking it would help me spin and start to feel better, but I just could not get my pace up very much.

I finally made it across the dam and could get more water. I had already been fighting cramps in both legs since leaving the rest stop. Not too bad and I could ride threw it, but they kept getting worse. In the trail section I had to walk any of the steep technical climbs. I just could not put the power down needed to climb it. Eventually I rolled up to the last little part and the final climb to the finish area. It was something else having Becky cheering me on at the finish and being there to catch me if I fell over. I made my way back to camp, but was moving pretty slow. It took me a little while, but eventually I got my kit off and finally remembering where I was. Normally I am ready to have a beer, but today I could not even drink a beer right away. I am glad to say that eventually that passed and I forced myself to have a recovery beer or so.

The rest of the night was spent eating, relaxing and trying to stay awake. I saw the fire in the big circle getting kicked up. This brought be back to life a little and we headed over to watch the fire and enjoy some good conversation with the Durkee's. After a while it was time to try to go to bed. It was later than I expected I would last. Tonight I took our canopy and put it over the tent and completely removed the rain fly. I slept a lot better that night. I'm not sure if it was just because it was cooler or the fact that I completely destroyed myself on the pedals again. It doesn't matter to me, it just felt good.

I ended up in 11th place for the 40-49 class and 46th place overall. It ended up taking me about a half an hour longer to finish the race this year. I was hoping to be faster especially with having gears. I know easier gears are slower but bigger gears also go faster on the road and gravel sections. I am happy with my bike choice for the weekend. It would have hurt a lot more if I would have only had 1 gear to push. I do hate my bike not being a SS, but I sure like not having to work quite as hard all the time.

Sunday morning there was talk about a ride or a hike. My bike was completely trashed, so a ride was not really a good option. We decided to head down to see Cumberland Falls. I have been thinking about checking it out sometime and after the rain we had I figured why not. I was wishing I had my jeep as I took the back way there. I took a lot of the race loop to let Becky see the rock overhangs, huge climbs and steep drop offs. It took us a little longer to get there, but it was more about the trip than the time.

The falls were raging and it seems like we just beat the crowd. We took a little extended hike on the Moonbow trail to check out another waterfall and just enjoy nature. I always enjoy seeing places like this no matter if I am on the bike or not. I also makes it even better to be able to share the experience with Becky. I know she does not mind me going on all by biking adventures, but there is nothing wrong with her being able to go too.

I know he already has next years race scheduled for 5/8/21. Hopefully the next race will not need to be rescheduled again. This is a great race to attend. It is a very easy going feeling with a variety of racers. Some will be out there for a while and have a great time. There is also some very fast riders there. There is not easy podium in the open class. This race pulls in some heavy hitters that are typically fighting for NUE steps. The second part of this is to please camp or just hang out. There is a huge fire pit plenty of dry wood to burn. There are gas grills and lot of other amenities there to make the experience even better. Hope to see you there. You know where to find me. Thanks for all the hard work Keith and all the volunteers. You always go above and beyond to make everything go smooth.