Friday, March 27, 2009

3 foot law

I've been fairly lucky so far, riding on TN roads. I usually get lots of space but I'm constantly yelled at by cars full of young people telling me to get on the sidewalk. These individuals clearly need to be re-tested.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hobby Park Race Report

Cross season's only been over for 8 weeks, should still be in the transition/base/cross-training phase of my year. I should be doing long slow road rides, long slow runs, lots of yoga/pilates. I should be keeping my heart rate in check and I should be staying off the bike. Should be, but I'm not. Got the itch to race again (already) and took a chance on a race at Hobby Park out in Winston-Salem, NC. The band had shows on Friday and Saturday in Spartanburg and Charlotte so Saturday I took a detour up to Winston to check out the course. When I arrived I parked next to a guy who was one of the organizers and course markers. He gave me the skinny then I took two laps to try to learn the course. Hobby park is another one of these Eastern mountain bike parks where a group has taken a small chunk of land and absolutely packed it with trails. Lots of turns. Ok, like a million freaking turns and most of them are the well designed type where you only need to brake about half as much as you think you do. I was concerned the locals would have them all dialed in and I'd be over-braking and over-accelerating all day so I took my time trying to figure out the various sections.

After the pre-ride I checked into a hotel and headed to the gig at the Visulite in Charlotte. The gig was kick ass, I ate a ton of food (including most of what was left of several band-mates dinners), the band rocked it then I beat it for my hotel, arriving at 1:15am. Beer and quick yoga session and my head hit the pillow about 2am.

7:30 alarm. Dragged myself to the shower, got some coffee, made a peanut butter sandwich, grabbed a banana and made haste. Generally I like at least an hour to settle in and warm up, but the race director had vastly underestimated the popularity of the race and despite my pre-registration status, I waited in line for 30 minutes to get my number. Short warm-up, line-up with 9 or 10 other dudes. Start line was on pavement and it started down a gentle downhill then up a super steep paved section (soap-box derby hills are seriously steep). In regular, short mountain bike races, my strategy is always the same: get to the twisty stuff first, drop hammer, don't look back. I got on the trail first and within' 3 minutes I was catching the Women's Cat 2 group. Fortunately they were all still close together and for the most part very polite and I was able to work through them in less than a half mile. (This is also a large part of my strategy, putting slower individuals between me and my pursuers.) I had a little room to myself then and tried to flow and not blow it too hard.

By the second half of the first lap I was making my way through some of the different age groups of the Cat 3 men. With one exception they were all very nice and accommodating and let me by pretty much as soon as I caught them (and I must have caught 25 guys over the course of the race). The one exception was this complete douche who, in spite of my polite explaination that I was not in his class, was in fact, leading mine and wanted around him, insisted that I "earn it." I'd asked several times when there were places he could move over, and finally when he yelled at me to "earn it" (direct quote) I gave him what he wanted and stuffed him in a tight corner. Several of my fellow SS riders were familiar with this guys tactics and had been forced to "earn it" as well. If you're the Earn It guy, and you stumble upon this blog, kill self.

Second lap I was just hammering, picking off riders, trying to stay in the flow. The course was relentless with tight turns, steep climbs, lots of ups and downs, constant braking and accelerating. Basically it was perfect for a single track junkie like myself. I came across the line 62 minutes after I started. Second place was 14 minutes behind. I was really stoked but felt like maybe I should have just raced with the Cat 2's. The next weekend I can race is April 11th. Having a hard time finding any races locally, but there's a 6 hour race over in Charlotte. I have half a mind to head over there for it. I'm torn right now between trying to extend myself a little and train for and race the longer marathon and 100 mile and 6 hour and 12 hour races, or to just stick with the shorter races. I don't have the luxury of consistent training or long hours to spend on the bike and Cross season is still the focus but I'm tempted to try to get in shape for the long one's or at least just start doing 3 laps with the 2's.

This week is the first Biker's Choice Wednesday night Lock 4 ride/Time Trial/Night Ride. I'm "organizing" the session (buying the beer) so I'll be out there all night. 5pm slow lap/mark course. 6pm TT on abbreviated course. 7:30 night ride, 2 or 3 laps. We're planning to do a ride out there every week, possibly only set up the timer every other week or once a month. If you live in the Nashville area and want a gauge of your skills/fitness, this is a great way to do it. You can email me with any questions:

Today's Music: Fleet Foxes. I know that it's not very original or cutting edge of me to be into the Fleet Foxes, but that was the record that really kicked my ass on the ride home last night so I'm spreading it around.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's been a long two weeks

Bike free for day number 11. One more day in the van and it's back to the routine I prefer: wake, eat, kiss wife, ride bike, eat, play music, clean kitchen, eat again, kiss wife, sleep, repeat. In spite of the lack of wheels, it's been a good trip. We spent four nights in Stonington, CT and on our way into town I noticed a trailhead. It was definitely one of those eureka moments. 1.5 miles from the house we were staying in was this super cool two-loop trail in the new england woods. It was maybe 2 miles at most, but there were downed trees, boulders, creek crossings, and all kinds of side trails. Every morning I ran the 1.5 miles of road, then bounded through the woods imagining I was on my bike (Imagination Land). Definitely better than pounding asphalt. Usually I spend an entire tour on a treadmill or plodding along on unfamiliar pavement but the Stonington Trail and the river trail I found in Sellersville both broke up the monotony. Once I stopped doing 3-5 beers a night after the first week, I actually started to firm up again, might even come off the road fitter than I went on it (could it be true?)

To make up for all this running nonsense, I've planned a nice little weekend of riding. My amazing, beautiful, supportive, wonderful wife's headed down to SXSW (South By Southwest) on Wednesday so I've got a free pass. The band's in SC and NC this weekend and I've tracked down a little local race in Winston-Salem (got to race the one's you can when you only get 8 weekends off a year) so Thursday I'm headed out for some riding, camping, work (what I do for $$ is not work, but I call it that because it's slightly ironic and also because if I didn't call it work than I would have nothing to call work, and thus would be "out of work" and I don't want that) and driving. Thursday I'll ride at Panther Creek, a little gem I accidentally discovered hiking with my wife. That night I'll camp at Watauga Lake assuming the campground is open (if not, I'll go find a dirty, cheap, run-down motel). Friday a little pre-ride and some BBQ at Little Richard's BBQ in Winston-Salem (my wife's from Winston-Salem so she gave me the lowdown on this lowdown, dirty BBQ joint) followed by an Infamous Stringdusters show down in Spartanburg. The next morning we only have to drive an hour and a half to the next gig at the Visulite in Charlotte so I'm heading to Cane Creek for a few miles of easy spinning. After the show I'll try to get as much sleep as possible in preparation for my season debut in Winston. 4 days of riding, hope the weather holds. Expect some fresh photos from this little solo excursion.

Not really sure if I've got the legs for racing. My quads definitely look more like runner's quads than SS quads, lots of slow twitch muscle fibers in there, but there's only one way to fix it. I'll just stay out of the saddle. The power may not be there but the lungs are definitely ready for whatever. If anyone reading this has any advice regarding my intended riding locations (Panther Creek and Cane Creek specifically) and can recommend another better ride nearby, please let me know. I'm basically just following my instincts on this one and they've occasionally let me down.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


On the road again. Two weeks off the bike. Two weeks of running. I might as well just call myself a frickin' runner as much time as I'm spending pounding through neighborhoods waving at the locals. I was able to run with my shirt off today (not good, sorry locals). One advantage to always running in a different neighborhood is that a lack of modesty can't develop into the entire community thinking your a freak. When I pass the same people in my neighborhood everyday, white skin flapping in the wind, I start to get some strange looks, but on the road, they only see me once and I'm gone.

The more I run, the more I like it (not that I have a choice, it's either that or sit around). Once I hit the 20 minute mark the euphoria kicks in and I'm good for another 20-30 minutes of steady pace running without much thought. Even after 6 beers, moonshine and two shots of tequila, I hopped out of bed, popped two Excedrin (endorse me please) and ran 60 minutes steady, no problem. Could not have done that a month ago.

Contemplating a cleanse next week. Don't know if I'm willing to trade 3-4 good training/riding days for starvation but I really want to get some enematic results and a completely empty stomach is the way to do it (too much information?).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ski Tour Episode 3

Episode 3 of our Ski Tour Epic. This one's actually got some skiing in it...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Judicata/Grand Ole Opry

Judicata, as described by Wikipedia, is Latin for a matter already judged. Or to say it another way, "a case in which there has been a final judgment and is no longer subject to appeal." In my case, yesterday's race really was a judicata of sorts as there was no appeal, I was up, at 7:55, about to run 9.6 miles as fast as I could and there was no backing out. I'd already announced it to everyone within' earshot (or facebook shot) in the days prior and I'm not one to back down from an endurance challenge, even if I know it's going to kick my ass.

Woke at 6:30, coffee, light yoga, food, drive to race. Pouring rain. Absolutely pouring rain. 8am start line. Gun goes off and I'm running in my first running event. What am I doing? First race is only a 5k, so I'm planning to take it easy, first split has me running a 7:30 mile, not exactly easy by my standards. Next mile is uphill, 8:00 flat, last mile is almost all downhill, right around 7:00. total time for the 5k: 23:00. Walk to car, in the rain, change clothes, sit, feel sick, drink Heed with an excedrin in it. Take picture out the front window of the car at the dismal scene, also take picture of myself feeling haggard as seen here. Walz cap was perfect, love it, wet wool smells nice.

Rain sort of stops, walk/jog up to the start line, more serious runners for the 10k. Gun goes off, start working my way through the pack, up one hill, down another, up another, down another. At mile 3 I look at my watch and find I'm doing 8 minute miles. Initially I was hoping for a sub 1:00:00 time for the 10k, but halfway through I decided I could likely keep my pace up and possibly come in sub 50:00. Stomach starts to get nasty toward the end. At about mile 4.8 we hit this steep hill by the golf course, I knew it was coming and when we hit it everyone around me slowed to a crawl. I had been climbing well all day so I hit the gas and pushed the last 1.5 miles to the finish coming in at 48:30. It's so easy to set "personal records" when you've never done something before.

About this time the stomach starts to get really really angry and I spent the rest of the day trying not to puke. I usually feel this was for a little while after cyclo-cross races but this was more severe and it lasted right up until bedtime, unfortunately, because the evening was spent at the Ryman for a special edition of the Grand Ole Opry. Del McCoury, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, Charlie Haden and Jack Black were on hand. Our dobro player Andy Hall played with Charlie and Jack and we got some great footage that Chris Pandolfi compiled into a YouTube clip that I'll post here as soon as it's finished. (p.s. Turns out most of his footage is illegal since the Opry doesn't allow recording. Guess we'll just be keeping that one for the archives...)

Running hard is hard. I was starting to enjoy running, not so sure how I feel about it now. It kinda hurts, a lot. I'm going to ride my bike, today to the store, tomorrow to the gym and the next day around and around in circles at Montgomery Bell. Save the running for when I don't have ANY other options. 15k (9.3 miles) is not really that far compared to what a lot of runners are capable of. It's all relative, though and it's the new high mark for me. Maybe I'll feel better about running next spring and try to do something longer (half marathon?) or maybe I'll just stick to the bike.