Sunday, May 31, 2009

Richland Balsam - 053109

This morning Andy and I met Neal and Barry at the Pinnacle Ridge overlook to take a leisurely recovery ride up to Richland Balsam on the BRP.

Very nice morning! Temps were in the mid 60's when we started around 9-9:30am...

Despite having some serious butt pain yesterday, I did ok today. Andy changed the saddle on the Ruby to something he had laying around and it was ok...I think I just need to get the butt used to this saddle. Either that or find a seatpost with more setback so I can use the Bontrager saddle.

Anyways....Seems I always start out leading....I did this time, but I made sure that I took it fairly easy, even though I was leading the guys. Barry caught up to me in no time; we rode together for a little bit, then he just dropped me "like that". I didn't even attempt to keep up with him. I might have been able to for a little bit, but it was an 8mi climb and I wasn't going to blow up, so I let him go.

Waited around for Andy and Neal, then the 3 of us rode together to the top. It was pretty windy too and as we climbed higher, it got a bit more cooler. Not cool enough for warmers or anything, but I would not have wanted to stand around for long...

Made a couple of stops at overlooks for Andy to adjust his bike some. I needed no adjustments....just another saddle or butt. I felt really good this morning....determined to not use the 28 cog either. I was always in at least 2 lower. Felt good in that gear too. For a change.

At the last stop Andy made, when we left, ole Neal just passed me like I was standing still...I let him stay ahead of me, not chasing. Yet. I gradually closed on him and when I passed the water spring, I turned it up a bit, as I knew how much farther I had to go. Closed that gap and passed him. Damn. That felt great because I'm never the first one to reach any summit with these 2. They always drop me. Barry was already there, had been for quite a while, not sure of the time 'cause he had no watch or computer.

Took a few pics up there; Andy talked to everyone up there, motorcyclists and the Park Ranger. He knows everyone. Since it was a bit chilly with the winds, we finally told him that we were headed back down. I set off, and just freakin' bombed down that mtn!!! OMG. That bike is awesome. It takes the curves very well. I only touched the brakes at one curve, where a truck/travel trailer was over center a bit. Otherwise, it was "go as fast as you can". I let one car pass me, but about over took them as I started descending again. Gawd, that bike is awesome!!!! No computer, but I bet I hit, minimum 45mph on the descent. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Here's some pics from the ride:
Barry & Neal

of course....the calves

General pics along the ride

Neal says this was an 8% grade per his garmin

The Ruby Ride

Up here in WNC this weekend to ride the Ruby Ride with Andy & Neal...

This was a very good ride, great route/scenery/support/weather, etc! Got to the start around 8am because all 3 of us had to register. Got that done, bikes ready to go, talked with a couple of people from BF and some of the local people that Andy knew. Met one of his friends, Robin, who ended up riding with us for the majority of the ride.

All 4 of us started off before the actual ride started....we saw cyclists heading out and Mr.-I-Haven't-Ridden-In-A-Month said maybe we should head on out too. Anyways, we do go ahead and leave shortly before the 9am start. I was feeling really good on this new bike. Turns out later to be feeling not so good.

The route covered one of my favorites up there, Burningtown, which has some nice rollers, nothing too terribly hard. Too bad for me...I was setting a blistering pace for the first 25-30mi...that dang bike just wouldn't slow down! I don't know how fast we were going or what pace I was setting because I didn't have a computer on the bike. Need to fix that....

We reached the first rest stop, which was well stocked, and met our friend Barry. How'd he get there before us since we left before the official start??? We've yet to figure that one out. I did miss a couple of turns, but we always turned around very shortly and no one came through or passed us on the way to the rest stop.

Gotta say, this bike handles great! There's one section of Burningtown, that I've totally missed the curve and had to go up a driveway or crash. It's been the driveway the last couple of times on the route...but, yesterday - I made the turn. Just awesome!!

Anyways, we leave with Barry and the pace is still hot. I do ok until we get closer into Franklin....hit some hills, I get dropped and I just can't catch back up. Used my legs all up in that first 30mi or so. I never did catch up to them until the 2nd rest stop at the top of our first "real" climb - Skeena. That climb wasn't really all that bad, even with out of gas/cramping legs.

At the top, I refilled the bottles and ate a pb & banana sandwich, back on the bike for the awesomely fast descent down the other side of Skeena. Coming up next was a climb that was "almost" as hard as the Allison Watts climb. Damn, the road just turned up, probably in the range of 15%, but no garmin, so I don't really know. I managed to make it up that climb, then there was another one shortly after that. Up that one too. Then, it was just rolling terrain back to town.

I missed another turn....I turned in town when I should've gone straight...added maybe 2miles to the ride. Finally made it back, where we had some lunch and then I headed back to the house for a shower and nap while Andy went to his daughter's gymnastic thing.

Very good ride....not sure on the ride stats...~65mi/4hr & change?/~5000' climbing.

Pics from teh ride:

Andy & Neal

me (the serious, blistering pace setting face on. )

Andy, Robin, Neal

the Silly One

and, i would be remiss if i didn't include the calves that i enjoy looking (when i can keep up with Mr. I-H-R-I-A-M.

Barry and the others


on the Skeena climb

this was the hardest climb on the doesn't look like it in this pic, but this was the only one i could get before starting the climb. no way to take a pic and climb at the same time....the grade went UP.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paris Mountain

This past Saturday/Sunday, I went down to Greenville, SC to see a friend (Hank) and, of course, I brought my bike with me (I think it lives in the backseat of my car now). Hank suggested that I go give Paris Mountain a try Sunday afternoon before I left for home....So I did...

We started on the "easier climb" side, up, over & down the "hard climb" side in the car so I could get a feel for the climb. Saw a couple other cyclist climbing as we went down to the start. Parked the car, got the bike out, rode down the road for, maybe a minute, then started the climb. Hank followed me in the car, telling me how I was doing and encouraging me along the way.

Of course, Start Fast To Finish Slow wolfpack did just that. *roll eyes* I knew I was starting too fast, but I felt good and it wasn't extremely hard at the beginning. If I *knew* I was starting too fast, why did I not change the way I was climbing? Who knows? Anyways, there were some great views on the climb, wish I had had the camera, but Hank had it taking pictures of me as i rode. There were a couple sections before the crest that were hard, but I pushed on through. Then towards the end, Hank drove on up ahead to wait on me and tell me to keep going - that I was doing great.

It's a good thing he did because this last little section was a bit hard. IIRC, the garmin had 12-16% grades for that last section. Finally made it to the top - 18min later. I guess not a bad time considering how I started and the first time doing the climb. Set a new PR for 20min power (well, guess it's actually 18min, but I could've went for another 2min to get an actual 20min power) - it was 224/218w. Took a little rest time once at the top, then a screaming descent!

It was an awesome climb, even awesomer descent - garmin shows a max speed of 51mph! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :)

A couple of pictures of me before, during, after the climb. (hmmm, seems i can't add the photos while at work...will do this evening...)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Assault On Mt Mitchell

I left Sunday (5/17) morning around 10:30am, headed towards Marion, to meet up with a few other people to take a chartered bus from Marion to Spartanburg with bikes included. It rained on me pretty much the whole way to Marion, IIRC, and once in Marion, it was a lot cooler than when I left Clayton.

Parked the car at Tom Johnson's, loaded up my bike and bag and then waited for, probably half an hour on 2 other guys, who got lost. *roll eyes* Finally rolled out of Marion around 3pm, arriving at the Marriott in Spartanburg around 4:45-5pm....after the driver got lost 2x. How do you get lost??? Especially when you are using a GPS??? Whatever. Unloaded and went to my room then to pick up my registration stuff.

Wow!! The bike expo was very lacking, compared to last year's expo. Very. And, I paid for a t-shirt, which was no where to be found and all sold out. I did get a refund though. It appears that you can purchase the t-shirts online now through I'll probably get one. My friend Neal also rode the bus down, but was staying at the Days Inn down the street. We met for supper, which consisted of penne or bowtie pasta with either alfredo or meat sauce, bread and salad. It was ok, but I sure couldn't eat $15 worth of pasta. Dessert was a banana bread pudding and cookies....chocolate chip cookies. Those cookies were Great!!

After dinner, everyone (the 2 late guys, Neal and I) said our good nights and I went on up to my room. Slept from 9:30-11pm, then up for a little while and back to sleep around 12-12:30am. I set 3 alarms for the next morning. I always have this fear that I'm going to sleep through the alarm and miss my ride! But, I woke up prior to the alarm going off - got a shower, dressed and then had to figure out how to carry everything I wanted to take with me or leave stuff behind in my bag.

Temps on Monday morning were in the high 40s to low 50s, so I opted for the light wool base layer (no vest then) and arm warmers. Packed the knee warmers, vest, hat in the bag. Now - how to carry all 7 baggies of Perpetuem, a bottle of gel, pills, camera, & phone. Should've just left the camera cause I never really had a chance to use it except right at the beginning. I managed to stuff all that stuff in the 3 pockets, headed down to check out and go wait for my wave to head out...

I started in the last wave of riders, at 6:35am or so. There was this cute little guy in a Columbia/High Roads kit...we didn't really talk too much prior to the start, but I decided that I would hold his wheel as long as I could without jeapordizing my plans for my MM ride. I did well at the start - did not "jack-rabbit" out and try to keep up with everyone...just rode easily, getting the legs warmed up good because of no warmers and because that's what Andy would tell me I should do. *smiley* I don't know how far into the ride, but I found High Road and let him know I was there.

We were now in a group of about 40-50 cyclists! And, surprisingly, the group rode well. None of that slowing/accelerating that happened at Burnsville. We were hauling the mail! Blew right by the first rest stop at 22mi in less than an hour. I kept High Roads wheel until sometime around 36-38mi, when we hit the first little hill. Knowing that Marion was NOT my ride, Mitchell was my ride, I had to let everyone go. Hard, but I had to remain focused. You guys (Andy, VV, skiffrun, et al) should be very proud of me! I did it. I Started Slow To Finish Fast. Hell Yes. So, yes, I got dropped around 38mi, but, I didn't let that deter me. Skipped the 2nd rest stop, as I had enough left in 1 bottle to get me to the top of Bill's Hill.

Turned onto the road that leads to BH's, riding solo for a short time, until I hear "on your left". Hearing that, I kicked it up a gear and proceeded to jump onto the back of a 4man paceline that pulled me all the way to the turn up to BH's. It's amazing what a year's worth of riding will do for you and all hte climbing I've done in that year. Last year, I had to stop shortly after starting the climb because I was already starting to get cramps. That climb was hard - last year. This year - meh. Nothing to it. Damn. Do you believe I just wrote that???? Well, it's true!!! It was easy, ok, well, not easy, but not nearly as hard as the prior year. Nor was it anything like CMR, Ellijay, etc...

Stopped at the rest stop to refill bottles. Neal was already there, so I asked how long he'd been there to guage my climb. He said he'd been there only 3-4minutes. So, I guess I'm not really climbing all that bad. Maybe it's just all in my head now. *rolleyes* Neal and I left together, but he soon dropped me. No big deal. Not part of my plan to try and keep up to him. Around 50mi into the ride (where I cramped severly last year), I just went up that climb like it was nothing. How's that??? I hate to keep saying it, but these climbs were just not all that difficult to me....

Rode solo for a while and then, again, hooked up with 3-4 more guys, strong guys. I let them pull as long as they would. I did take a couple turns at the front, but not for long - keeping in mind what Andy told me - let the others do the work for me and get me to Marion....Stopped at the 4th rest stop for my one and only pee break for the day. Neal and I set out, again, hooking up with different groups to help us get to Marion.

I don't know if the guys (or other women) feel this way, but when you realize that you are making the turn that result in you riding 75mi from Spartanburg to Marion - it's emotional. For me at least. I can't's just, uh, I get a lump in my throat, a tear in my eye, at what I've done. It's awesome!

To Marion:

Last year: 4:59:11hr/15.1avg

So, I made it to Marion, keeping The Plan intact. I'm so damn proud of me!!! See - Andy - I can do it...I can listen when it truly matters.

Stopped at the 5th rest stop and filled up only 1 bottle. I was the 500th rider to go past this stop. I sorta left Neal....I was ready to go and he wasn't, so I left him...knowing he'd eventually catch and pass me. I took it sorta easy, spinning the legs out, trying to get a tiny bit of recovery before the climbing on Hwy80 started. I'm so glad that Andy and I went up over Easter weekend and rode 80/brp to MM entrance. It helped somewhat....

I did fine going up & over Lake Tahoma dam, letting more people pass me. I had my own agenda to follow and no one else's. I reached the turn where Hwy80 turns Up...a brief stop to take the arm warmers off, as they were bunched all up around my wrists and seriously getting on my nerves. That was my only stop on Hwy80. Andy had told me, when we did the ride, to not stop at #6 because a lot of people don't make it any further when they stop there. Rode right on by that one.

Oh boy...the last 3 miles up to the BRP were friggin miserable...I seriously had doubts about being able to finish the ride. I was in a world of hurt. I wanted to call someone/anyone/Andy/VV/G'ville guy...I needed some words of encouragement...I needed someone to tell me I could do this, that I could finish the ride. I didn't see how I was going to be able to finish another 15-16mi. I had thoughts of just giving in once I reached the BRP. But, no. THERE IS NO QUIT IN ME.  I dug deep and found out that I'm stronger than I think sometimes. My right knee hurt like hell, as did my hamstrings. The hell with them is what I thought. The half miles ticked off...eventually, I came to one of the last hair pin curves and a nice lady was standing there - she told me I didn't have far to turn....there it is....BRP Next Exit or something to that effect.

I made it to the BRP. I stopped for a little bit, ate, probably 2-3 oranges, tried to call Andy, but no service. Tried to call G'ville guy. No service. I made it that far, but I still needed those encouraging words...well, I didn't have them. So, I climbed back on my bike and proceeded to climb the BRP. That was difficult too, but not as hard as I thought it would be. The oranges were kicking in I think. I climbed and climbed and climbed. Eventually, I reached the crest, where RS #8 was located. Legs were still in a world of hurt.

I got off the bike, removed the helmet and just lay on the ground for a while. Oh man, I was so friggin tired. More oranges - probably 3-4 this time. Tried calling everyone again. No luck. 10mi or so to're not quitting now!!! A fast and fun 2.5mi descent then hte last climb to the entrance to MM. Stopped at RS #9 - more oranges. Lots of oranges.
Finally, just get on the damn bike and finish!!!!

Started the MM climb and it was as hard as I thought it was gonna be after 95+ miles in my legs. Reach the sign that tells me the summit is 3.9 (?) miles further. I finally reach the Visitor's Center, skip that last RS cause you ride a false flat for a ways, till just past the restaurant, then it's back to the real climbing. I finally see people sitting at the parking lot, shift up, and give it everything I have left, which wasn't much, but I stood out of the saddle and finished strong.

Damn. What a great feeling that is!!! I did it!!!! Hell Yes. I crossed the line and stopped where the lady was tagging bikes. Got my patch, handed over my trusty steed, found my bag and changed my clothes. Didn't even get the soup. Didn't want any either. I just wanted out of those clothes and to sit down. Damn. Writing all of this just brings all those emotions back. I damn well did it. Wooooooooooo-Hoooooooooooo I got changed and went straight to a bus. Propped my bag up, laid my head on it, and I think I was out -->| |<-- like that!! Next thing I remember is waking up somewhere headed down the BRP. We took the long route down, not down Hwy80, and didn't get back to Tom Johnson's till a bit after 5pm. I went for food. Two plates of spaghetti. Damn. That was the best 'sghetti I've had in a while! Then, it was the wait on the bikes. Rumors circulated that the bikes were going to Spartanburg!!!!! No Way!!! Eventually, that rumor was squashed, but it still took FOREVER to get my bike. Did not get it till after 8pm. Grrrrrrr. I had a motel for the night in Marion, so after getting my bike, I went straight there and the rest is history..... Marion to Mt Mitchell:

Total (per Powertap):

Mitchell "Official" Time:

Damn. Would ya look-it that!!!! I had a negative split!!!! Hell Yes Again!!!

Now....would I do it again? As I stood around waiting on my bike, my answer was HELL NO. But, today, two days later, the answer is HELL YES. I have a goal - I have to see if I can beat that time next year. *roll eyes* even if it means waiting on my bike again.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Additions To The Bike Stable

Yes, I am adding to the stable. I have a friend on bikeforums who had a Rossin frame/fork for sale and I bought that off of him last week. It should be arriving sometime next week. Postal service between the US and Canada for large packages is a bit slow. My plan is to put some vintage Campy on it, but I don't have any parts yet. Watching ebay for those things.

In the meantime, while waiting on this bike, I've been wanting to build up a fixed gear/single speed bike for the longest time. One of my friends at work, who also rides, told me that Ed at CycleLogic had some road frames that he had cut the road dropouts out and replaced with horizontal dropouts. Great price too - $150. So, late yesterday afternoon, I took off for the LBS with the intent of purchasing the frame/fork and other parts for a build. Left with the frame/fork and everything needed to build it up. I got busy last night and was doing well until I cut the chain 1 link short. Damn. Measure twice, cut once. I obviously didn't measure twice. And, ran into another stem is for OS bars and the bars I have are skinny. Will head over to Performance a little later this morning to see if I can get a shim for the stem and a link put back into the chain. I should be done this afternoon and will just take it for a ride up/down my street a few times.

The work in progress:

I'm Such A.....

Slacker. I haven't written anything here since Tour de Cashiers. I've been riding, but I haven't done any real training since the week before TdC. So, what have I been doing you ask? Mostly working and getting a few rides in during the week and some longer rides on the weekends.

Week after TdC I took 4 days off the bike - 2 of those days were due to rain, if I remember correctly, and the other 2 days I had other things I needed to get done around the house, so I didn't ride. But, let me tell you...I think that was the longest 4 days off the bike I've had in a while. Thursday after TdC, my friend Dallas called to tell me he was riding and to come on over after work and we'd go for a ride. It was just he and I to start with and we then met up with another friend, Jason, unplanned, about 3-4 miles into the ride. Chose a route that was pretty darn flat - rode for right under 2hr and 38 miles. When we got back to his house, both of us felt like we could have ridden another 38mi. I felt absolutely GREAT!

Friday off, then met another friend, Martin, at the butt-crack of dawn in North Raleigh for a 75 +/- mile ride to Mt. Tirzah. There were about 8 of us (I think - don't remember exactly) and once again, I was feeling really good & strong. Martin has a write-up about the ride - check out the Irregulars blog I'm PT had a distance of 75.5mi in 4:30hr...right at a 17mph pace. I felt fine with that pace, could've probably ridden it a little faster but it was a group ride and I couldn't ride off and leave anyone...especially since I had no idea where I was!! I did have a cue sheet though.

Off on Sunday & Monday.

Tuesday - hmmmmm, called Dallas to see about riding. Met at his house - had a newguy riding with us...4 of us riding and when we leave his house, we always go down Covered Bridge Rd and I will pull out, tuck in low and bomb down the hill. Guess newguy took that as a challenge. I pulled the guys up the other side and to Thanksgiving Rd. Once on T, newguy took the lead and was hauling it - the pace was TOO hot!!! 24-25mph and me on the back hanging on for dear life! I was not happy. I did not want to ride that hard during the week prior to AoMM. Anyways, I made it clear to the newguy and Dallas that the pace was gonna slow or I was peeling off and doing my own thing.

Poor newguy....writing checks he couldn't cash at the end of the about 18 miles into the ride - he was in some hurtin'. We put the hurt on him for trying to start us out so damn hard.
By 31 miles, he was dropped. I was the nice one (usually with the Hammers, if you get dropped on a ride, tough stuff, they (we) don't wait) and waited on him to get up to me and then I pulled him back to Dallas & Russell. Dallas then proceeded to crank it up again headed down Thanksgiving towards Covered Bridge. He held on to that point, but then he pretty much just coasted in. We were finished about 10min when he finally showed up. LOL. Those checks bounced. 36mi/1:45hr/20.5mph pace! Hot, Hot, Hot.">

Took Wednesday off for rest after that Hammerfest. It's really amazing how far along I've come since this time last year. Last year, had I tried to ride with the guys at that pace, I would've been dropped within 7-8 miles most likely. I would have never thought that I would be able to ride with The Hammers and do a ride with a pace of 20-21mph average. I can this year though. Tuesdays will be our Hammer ride, going at that kind of pace - getting stronger & faster as the summer progresses. Thursdays will be our easy ride, knocking the pace down to 18 or 19mph. Damn. I can't believe I'm writing that...last year, 18-19mph would have been about as hard/fast as I could have done.

Thursday - called Dallas to see if he wanted to ride because we were getting some brief showers in the afternoon. Ride on. Randall rode with us on his new bike...a pretty orange & white Project One Trek. Very nice bike. I told Dallas this needed to be an easy ride - 18mph average or so. And, it was there 'bouts that...only 28mi/1:30hr.

Now, we are up-to-date....AoMM is now 2 days away and I planned on taking the 3 days off prior to the ride, so I didn't ride on Friday and I won't be riding this weekend any at all.

See the next post for more...