Monday, March 30, 2009

One for the wife..

My wife loves Bon Jovi and I have to disagree with her choice of music but loved this video.

No Posts in a While...

So its been a while since I last posted. A lot has gone on as well. There has been a lot of singletrack riding. Lets see. Where did I leave off in my life before not posting for a while. Oh yeah, I've done a couple of races lately. Some good, some not so impressive.

For starters, I did the 6 Hours of Heritage race that was put on by Dirty Spokes Productions. The course was pretty rad. The race was hosted at the Oconee Heritage Park which is located outside of Athens. That weekend consisted of pretty dreary conditions. When we showed up to the event, it was in the mid-30's with light mist rain. It stayed this way throughout the entire day and never got any better. If you've ever rode these trails, you know that Heritage Park is full of roots. This made for some fun climbs and decents. Overall, I enjoyed it. I'm still suffering after the 3 hour mark during these 6 hour races. I wouldn't call my level quite racing though. Its more or less about going out and riding as long as I can. I was able to turn 3 laps and then called it a day. Good times though.

So the following week consisted of as much riding as I could fit in my schedule. I had to get my mind and body ready for the kick off of the Georgia Series Championship at East Macon Park. This was the first race of an 8 race series throughout the state of Georgia. Luckily the first race is in my backyard and I had the convienance of riding the course everday for over a week. By race day, I was ready. But come race day, I wasn't the only one ready. Turns out a buddy of mine from one of the shops here in town showed up to race and entered the base class with me. Now this guy has been riding strong for a while now. I think base class qualified him as a sandbagger but hey, it was his first race. Once the horn blew, he was gone and I didn't see him for the rest of the race.

The East Macon race started out by hitting a lap on the BMX track and then we entered the woods for 6 miles of sandy singletrack racing. The BMX track threw in a pretty cool mix. I about went over the bars on the first jump but gathered my bearings and cranked out a strong lap. Once we hit the woods I was about 5th place. The guy infront of me was laying it down pretty good but he wasnt pushing as hard as I wanted to go. There was one point where the course came out of the woods and into a short field that allowed for some passing opportunities. So I took advantage of this spot and passed the 4th place guy. After that, he stuck right onto my wheel and held with me. We were pushing pretty hard when we came up to the steepest hill on the course. This hill is about 200 ft long and pretty steep. There is only one good line up the hill which zigs and zags back and forth up to the top. About half way up, the guy behind me shouts that he is going to pass right. I replied that there is only one line and at that point I'm heading towards the right side of the trail so I don't quit pedaling due to the steep grade. The other guy then runs off the trail and into some thick leaves. Next thing I hear are some explicit words. Obviously he's pissed. About a mile later, he catches me on a flat section where my single speed gearing spins out. I decide to hold back for a bit and to let him wear down a little. At this point, I still can't find 1st and 2nd or 3rd. I'm sitting back in 5th getting some recovery back into my legs. Once we finish our first lap, I get a brief glimpse of the 2nd place guy and see that I've gained on 3rd and 4th. About halfway through the 2nd lap, I pass a the 4th place guy and catch up to the previous rider who is mad at me. I'm trailing right on his rear wheel for about 5 minutes trying to pass him. I shout out my intentions and he just isn't letting me around. I try to the left, he blocks. I try to the right, he blocks again. So I start rubbing his rear tire. Then I start grunting to get on his nerves. I can hear him grumbling something but can't make out any words. I then realize we are approaching a really sandy turn and prepare to make my move. He hits the turn and his bike drifts to the right. At that point, I make my move and hit it to the left. Now I've passed him with about a 1/4 lap to go. I'm gone. There was no letting up for me. I knew I'd pissed the other guy off and I had to ride hard to seperate us in order to hold my 3rd place position. I also was trying to focus on possibly catching 2nd. The last 1 1/2 mile is the toughest at this course. It includes 2 sustained climbs and one short sprint climb. There was nothing holding me back. On the last climb, I exited the woods and into the field. Right before the finish line, the course directs you through a volleyball pit. I plowed right through and finished in 3rd. I was about 45 seconds behind 2nd. What a great race. It was actually eventful. I got to pass a couple of guys and raced hard.

So after the race, I just rode the commuter bike casually for about a week. This was last week. Also, last week, I was offered a part time gig at Bike Tech. I'm working as needed a little here and there. Its a pretty good gig. I'm still working at Geico as my full time deal. So if you get a chance, come in and visit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

First Tuesday Night Road Bike Group Ride of The Year..

Tonight was the first Tuesday night road bike group ride of the year and man did everyone who owns a bike show up. We all started out as one huge group of 30-40 + riders and headed out at a moderate pace. After about 8-10 miles, we hit the hills and dropped quite a few people. By the time we were done with the hills, I was starting to bonk out. I lost sight of the "A" group but was never caught by the "B" group. Since this was the first time I rode on the weekly group ride, I didn't really know the route. With that said, I decided to head back to the car when I lost sight of everyone at an intersection. Logged in 26 miles for the evening and felt great! There is also a ride on Thursday nights that I'll ride but I think I'm gonna find out the route this time.

Keep the Rubber Side Down!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

3 Day Weekends Are Great!!

I love when I can take a 3 day weekend. Lately, it seems like its becoming the norm. I have been using some vacation to take the occasional Friday off. This makes for a longer weekend so I can take a cool trip somewhere. I've been bitten by the travel bug lately. I am constantly thinking about what my next trip is going to be. My A.D.D. just kicks in and I get all these cool ideas of places to go visit. Lately, I've tried to plan trips that aren't too far away so I can stay within my 3 day weekend.

The most recent trip I took was this previous weekend. The wife and I packed out packs and headed Southeast to Cumberland Island for some backpacking. We've heard pretty good things about the island and figured we'd take some time to check it out.

Around 5am on Friday morning, we put the packs in the car and headed off for the 4 1/2 hour car ride to St. Mary's, GA. When we arrived, sat along the river bank waiting for the ferry to arrive to take us across the Cumberland Sound to the island. This is one of the cool things about this place. To get on the island you have to take a ferry. The public isn't allowed to bring cars on the island. There are a few residents that live on the island and have access to vehicles but its nice to not have to worry about traffic and RV's tearing apart the integrity of this coastal haven.

After a 45 minute ferry ride, we were at the steps of the Cumberland Island National Seashore ranger station. We got our backcountry permits and filled our water bottles for our tropical adventure. While hanging around the ranger station, it was quite entertaining seeing the people who were heading to Sea Camp for the weekend. You see, at Sea Camp, the Park Service provides wheel barrows to transport as much camping gear as you'd like to your designated camp site. These aren't backcountry campsites. These sites have bathrooms and showers. Its funny seeing people transport 100 pound of gear for an overnight camping trip. Then they bring the coolers, steaks and kitchen sink. You begin to loose the whole experience of the natural solitude when you bring all the comforts of home into the woods.

After our brief entertainment, we hit the trails for our backcountry experience. This place was truly beautiful. Like I said before, there were no cars roaring around and it was nice to have this solitude. Along the trail I saw some armadillos for the first time. These little creatures are intriguing. Did you know that humans and armadillos are the only mammals who have the capability of carrying leprosy? The armadillos were everywhere. They would run across the trail with their noses deep into the ground rutting around for some dinner. Along the trail we also saw some wild horses. These horses were truly wild animals. The Park Service warns you about the horses on the island. Apparently many people have been hurt by them in the past. The horses were in no way scared to approach you and show who's boss. We tried to keep our distance.

After our afternoon's worth of hiking, we arrived at our campsite. We setup the tent and decided to head to the Plum Orchard Mansion for water. This historic mansion was about 1 mile from our campsite but it had fresh water that didn't need to be treated. When we got to the mansion, it was quite an eerie feeling being out in the middle of nowhere and seeing this huge plantation home surrounded by live oaks and Spanish moss. It was an experience you'd think was in some kind of thriller film. Once back in camp, we cooked our gourmet meal of chicken pasta Parmesan. Anything you eat in the woods tastes amazing. After our delicious meal, we got in the tent for some evening reading and to avoid the evening bugs. Unfortunately the park doesn't allow backcountry campfires so we chilled out in the tent to avoid the bugs. Soon thereafter, the sun was set and we decided to get some shut eye.

Friday night had to be the longest night I have ever slept in the woods. Without the experience of a campfire, its hard to keep yourself awake in the dark woods with nothing to really do. Camping with the wife definitely warrants sleeping in a bit as well. After debating getting out of the sleeping bag, we packed our gear and began our trek back towards the ferry docks. Saturday's hike was along some of the same trails until we had a run in with some horses that didn't want us crossing their path. After this run in, we backtracked a little to a dirt road that headed towards the beach. Once at the beach, we had some lunch and just enjoyed our time together. Its nice to have this kind of quality time with my wife. Its these experience that we'll remember for the ages.

Instead of hiking back on the trails, we made our trek back on the beach. We hiked about 5 miles along the shore. The Cumberland Island shores are so pristine. There was hardly anyone out there and better yet, no trash. This island certainly has kept its natural beauty by not allowing developments and controlling the number of people on the island at one time.

The overall experience was great. When we got back to the ferry docks, we sat on the ranger station porch rocking in the rocking chairs. We again got another dose of entertainment by watching the folks unload off the ferry with tons of gear for their overnight camping experience. Another 4 1/2 hour car ride back and we were home, tired and sore.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Rock (Muddy) Road Rash Hash....

The weekend was wet. That sentence can pretty well summarize anything I type about in this post. Well, then you have the added bonus of the fact that the weekend included booze. Plus there was snow, in Georgia. Then there's the fact that it was cold. Ok, so there was a lot of interesting facts that made up my weekend.

Saturday was warm and wet. I woke up later than usual on Saturday. That was a nice bonus to the start of the weekend. For the past few weeks, I've been getting up earlier on Saturdays than I do during the work week. So catching some extra z's played out nicely. I just lounged around the house all morning with the wife and watched a few movies. The whole time it there was a nice downpour outside. A couple of tornado watches later, I was on the bike. I mean, how can I contain myself. I'm not gonna let any rain keep me off the bike.

I haven't hopped on the commuter in a while. Recently I decked it out with some full rain fenders and a rack with panniers for some light touring/commuting. With those fenders on the bike, I figured this was the chance to finally test them. The roads were soaked and there was hardly anyone on the roads. What a perfect setting for a mid day ride. I stopped by the bike shop for a brief chat and decided to get a cup of joe down at Jittery Joes. After the coffee, I strolled around downtown for a little while then hit the liquor store and a buddy's house for dinner. So my saturated Saturday turned out pretty good.

Sunday was pretty awesome too. I didn't sleep too well Saturday night because I left the bedroom window cracked and heard rain all night. Normally rain is pretty soothing but it was the thoughts that went into my half asleep mind. I kept thinking that the Rocky Road Rash Hash was gonna either get canceled or the conditions would be too rough for me to even want to ride. So after a few cat naps, I woke up, got my gear together and headed out in the truck for an epic ride.

When I got to Juliette, GA (set of "Fried Green Tomatos") the rain was getting harder and the temps were dropping faster. How is it normal for the high temp of the day to be at 6:30am? Along the edge of the gravel parking area, the Ocmulgee River was breaching its banks and overflowing into the parking lot. There were a couple of guys in the parking area and Monte had a fire pit out with a few logs burning. Will showed up shortly after with a pop up canopy to keep us dry for a short time. Mike and Maria showed up with some warm coffee and donuts. Then Tim showed up with some off the shoulder jokes. By 9am we had a bigger group than I ever imagined would show up for an event in these conditions. Not only that, everyone was pretty pumped about riding.

The rain continued to pound harder and the waters continued to rise on the edge of the river while we all stood around the fire. Collectively, we decided to ditch the idea of a 50 mile hash. Instead, we opted for a 15 mile mud ride. This was the shortest of the loops we could ride but turned out to be harder than we ever expected. As we started out on River Road, we were soon to hit some sticky mud. The road is normally hard packed clay but the rain has turned it into a muddy swamp. There were a couple times that the mud just sucked my tires deeper and just about sucked the life out of my calfs. Normally I would consider quiting in these conditions. But that thought never crossed my mind. This was actually fun.

The hills actually felt shorter than normal because that was not where my focus was. I was focused on keeping my bike moving forward through these conditions. I finally breached the steepest climb and met up with the faster riders. As a group we all headed out for the next intersection. After we got off River Rd., the forest roads were a bit better. The temperatures continued to drop though.

About 10 miles into the ride, we stopped at the favorite creek crossing and took a short break. We all celebrated our ride with some cold beers and PB&J. The creek is normally low enough to ride/walk across. This time it was about a class 2/3 rapids. Right as we downed our beers, the rain started turning into sleet/snow. This was what we all wanted. We were experiencing the worst conditions that we could possibly face in Middle Georgia. The only thing that could have made the weather worse would have been a torndo. But we were still stoked.

Another 4 miles later we all made it back to the cars soaked from head to toe. The fire was still smouldering and we got it going again. Everyone got changed into some dry clothes and we continued to hang out in the now drizzling rain/sleet and drank a few more beers. The day couldn't have been more memorable. This ride proved to the select few of us that nasty weather doesn't alway mean you can't ride. Its what you make out of it that makes the experience.

So I'm glad I didn't bail on this one. I'm looking forward to the next event that can build memories like the Rocky Road Rash Hash did.

Keep the Rubber Side Down!!