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.




Tuesday, March 24, 2020

People's Pre-Apocalypse Pisgah Trip

This year's People's Pisgah trip was a little different than the last several years. The group was a little smaller, I was on a full suspension bike with gears and there was this little virus thing just getting talked about.The weather had been going back and forth about how much rain there was going to be. The forecast kept getting better as the week went on and I had high hopes. Most of us met up in Lexington to help split the drive up. The next morning we got a decent breakfast and hit the road.

On the way down it was determined that someone had forgotten their water bottles. This is probably something they should have thought about when packing. I had done a very rookie thing and didn't get my dropper post put on my bike until the night before we left. As normal, I had a couple issues on getting it all set up correctly. I got it to where I figured I was ok ish to ride. I mentioned that when we stopped it would be great to get my bike fixed. After a bunch of flack, I kind of figured I would have to ask about it and take my bike back later. But when we got to the shop everyone else was nice enough to tell me to take my bike in and see if they had time. 

I really did a rookie move by making such a big change the day before a big trip, but I just knew it needed to be done. I had some issues getting it working correctly. As it turns out, they guy at Squach bikes had a little issue getting it working too. Part of me was happy that it was not an easy fix that I just messed up, but the other part of me hated that it was taking so long for it to get working. Eventually the everyone else got restless and took the car to the house. Shortly after they left, my bike ended up being ready to go.

I rode up to the house since we were not very far away. I finished getting unloaded and we got ready to ride. We all got ready and headed out to the Ranger station. The route took us up 477 to ride Bennett. Then we headed over to Clawhammer to Maxwell and then did lower Black. At the bottom we took a left and did the short Sycamore loop to finish out the day. I was happy that my dropper was working in some areas. I could not believe how much difference it made on the technical sections.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Dirty South Roubaix 2020

Last weekend was my first race of the year. I headed down to Alto Pass, IL for the Dirty South Roubaix. I have been to this race every year and it just keeps getting better. The course is a nice mix of surface with some good climbs and down hills to keep it interesting. The weather was better than last year and it really helped make the day even more enjoyable.

We headed over Friday after work and made a stop at St. Nicholas Brewing for packet pick up and a bite to eat. The food was great and the beer was even better. After hanging out a little while and getting our packets, we headed to our home base for the evening. We stayed in one of the cabins at Giant City State Park. These are nice little cabins and not too far from the race. I got most of my things ready and hung out a little while before crashing. I actually slept pretty well and was up fairly easy. Ate breakfast and got things ready to go. It seemed like I was going to run a little late, but somehow everything came together at the right time and we rolled out just when we wanted.
This got us to the start area a little earlier than needed, but that was all good. I finished getting ready and did a little warm up.

photo credit: Antino Martinez
I also got to say hi to a few friends I don’t see very often. There were a lot more people that I would have liked to see, but we were all spread out a little with different parking areas. It was getting time to head toward the start. I took my jacket off and any final adjustments and headed toward the start area. I loaded the route into my computer and didn’t plan on taking my phone with me. I ended up sitting around long enough before the start that my computer turned off. I had time to turn it back on, but my route was no longer active. All I could hope for is a well-marked route since I didn’t have time to get it loaded on my computer.
photo credit: Antino Martinez
There was a little bottle necking going on right off from the start. It took a little bit before the while group was rolling. I moved up some but didn’t want to put in a lot of effort and figured I had time to move up. The neutral truck still had a way to go before pulling off. Looking up ahead there seemed to be a big gap from the front group already. I kept leap frogging on the back wheel of all the riders moving forward. I was trying to move as far forward in the group as I could but still using as little energy as I can. There was a fast downhill right after the truck pulled off and the race was actually on. We came flying around a corner and there was a big dump truck pulled over heading the other way. It looked like at least one rider slid off the road trying to miss him. There were a couple people there with them and they didn’t look seriously hurt so I kept going. That is not what you want to see, but hopefully everyone was ok.

Photo credit: Janzow photography
I tried to stick with good groups, but still move up as far as I could. I knew there was a good sized hill coming that I didn’t want to have wore out legs for. I had not been climbing very strong so far this year, but I can not complain at all on my climbing this day. I kept moving fairly well up the first climb and happy with how I was feeling. I kept finding good groups and people to ride with. I found myself with similar company on and off all day as everyone would move forward or fall back.
I ended up with a big group as we hit the levee. This helped keep me moving for this part, but also makes it a little sketchy with line choice.

We were moving well, but some of the group was not wanting to rotate or push the pace. There was some splitting of the group. A couple of us were bridging a gap to a next group right as we finished the levee section. The next section was a little more relaxed probably waiting for the loose climb. Part of the way up the first section it got loose and steep. I ended up spinning out and having to walk. As it flattened out I got back on and could finish the rest of the climb. This effort had my legs really hurting. I just kept moving forward the best I could and tried to pick good lines. As I rolled on to the paved section here, my legs were coming back to life and I was turning the pedals over better. I ended up pulling some riders back in that I lost on the climb.
photo credit: Ted Carr
This section was moving along ok, but the legs were feeling heavy. I knew I had another big hill coming up and hoped I didn’t burn all my matches already. The climb into the Trail of Tears hurt but seemed shorter than previous years. I kept pushing the pedals the best that I could for this section. I was happy with the legs and let it hang out some on the sketchy down hill and caught up with Jeremy at the bottom. It was good to have some more help. There was 3 of us rolling along for this part pretty well. The group made a quick stop at the last rest area. I got my bottle filled up and took off. As I rolled out I remembered the group and looked around to see where they were. Jeremy was not far behind me so I let up a little for him to catch on. I figured he would have caught me by then so I looked back and he was gone. There was another rider bridging up to me that I had been riding with at times all day.

photo credit: Matt Carey
This section of gravel seemed to me to be the chunkiest section out of the whole day. It was hard to keep momentum and with weak legs was putting a hurting on me. It was good to have some company to let the legs recover even if it was only a little bit. At some point after hitting the pavement again I looked back and noticed she was no longer on my wheel. I'm not sure where she fell off. Only thing left to do was keep moving toward the finish line. I was wore out and very ready to be done. I ended up climbing the last climb better than I thought I would and rolled it on home.
photo credit: Antino Martinez
I ended up with a finishing time of 3:52 and in 40th place. I have no complaints at all for my day on the bike. My only real goal was to finish in under 4 hours. I had been close the last couple years. My legs did way better than I thought they would and did everything I asked them to do. I still have a ways to go to be competitive in my current class. Hopefully I can keep getting closer to where I need to be. I want to thank all of the people that helped make this race run so smoothly. Sounds like they are increasing the number of racers allowed for next year. Hope to see you there.