Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Takes A Lickin' and Keeps On Tickin'

That would be me, not the bike. This is how it unfolded ...

Today was supposed to be a "ride how you feel" day. I was feeling pretty good and with temps in the low 60's, I was not about to pass up a good day on the road. My legs were light and springy; I would say I was riding "without a chain."

Coming back home I was heading North on Cedar Springs Rd. The white Grand Am was heading South. I saw him and the red pick up behind him (as I always try to be aware of vehicles near me). Without warning (no turn signal), the Grand Am turns left into my path.

Not even a chance to brake! All I remember is the initial impact. The next thing I know is I am staring down at my broken bike. Adrenalin and anger boiling inside me, I rush the car, ready to do battle. What do I see in the driver's seat, but a little old man with an oxygen line running to his nose.

Man! I was so mad, all I wanted to do was hit this person ... but how could I strike an 87 year old man who can't see or breathe? He was pretty upset and kept asking if I was o.k. Shaking his head, he said, "I never saw you." A pretty typical response when cyclists get hit by vehicles. Now I was worried about him; I didn't need him stroking out or having a heart attack. I told him to just stay in his vehicle until the police came. He said he would probably lose his license over this to which I replied, "That's probably a good thing. You could have killed me!"

The two men in the red pick up stopped and offered their help and also to stay and give their eye report to the police. I asked them if they saw the whole thing and they did. Since I did not remember anything except the thud of my body against the vehicle, I asked them for their account. The younger man said that when I hit the right front quarter panel, I catapulted over the hood and landed on the opposite side of the car. Then I immediately sprung up and went running after the white car as it slowly came to a stop about 15 yards from the point of impact.

What I cannot figure out is how I landed. Nothing above my waist was damaged, body nor clothing. From my power file, I was going 20mph at point of impact. Did I land on my feet? If I had landed any other way, I am sure I would have had some abrasions or torn clothing. Thank goodness for that as I was wearing my new Specialized kit.

So, I have a large bruise on my right quad, bruises all over my left lower leg, and a deep cut on my right lower leg. Other than that, I am o.k. Thank God!

My bike was not so lucky: broken fork, cracked frame, and two taco'd wheels. Not sure about the PowerTap. Fortunately, the driver's insurance is through State Farm, who sponsored our team a few years ago. My Dad said, "Just had to take the hard way to get a new bike for Christmas, didn't you?"

What really sucks is that I rode as safe as I could and did everything right. Lights both front and back and wore a light colored kit. Now I will have no power files for my coach for a couple weeks and I am going to be sore for the next few days. This person has really inconvenienced me and that is what is really frustrating. He license should have never been renewed; he even told me he was not allowed to drive on the interstate.

I am very thankful to be alive. I just hope that Charlie allows me to go back out on the road again. Now that the adrenalin rush is over, I do not need a drink ... I wanna get back out and RIDE!!!!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The rest of the story

Zeke here : Most folks know Carey as the fast,yet sweet red haired girl . HA ! She is devilish ! On the snake ride we checked out a creek crossing,so as to find the best line,which we did . On the way back Carey( as always ) got a big gap on me . She went up stream and walked across the creek . THEN she submerged a log right at the exit of our line ! You can guess the rest !!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Are You Ready?

After 3 hard days of interval training on the road in less than ideal conditions, today Coach had me take it to the trail for a race-pace session. With the Snake just 2 weeks away, I headed down to Dalton and did an out-and-back on the first half.
Surprisingly enough, my legs felt pretty darn good right off the bat. The warm-up was a bit tough as the Pinhoti does not really have any flat spots, but after 30 minutes I gradually opened it up and then went full-bore for 90 minutes. I guess Coach really does know what she is talking about as I felt great even on the steepest of climbs.
The only thing that was slowing me down was the hundreds of thousands of hickory nuts scattered ALL OVER the trail. Add some wet leaves to the mix and it makes for a bit of "ice-skating" on the descents. Come on squirrels, let's get to work!

Mark your calenders as January 3 is the first of three TT's. This is one race that is not to be missed! Point-to-point, tons of climbing, rocks, awesome schwag, and equal payouts!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

6 Random Things

...about myself that you may not know. I got tagged by Namrita, so here I go:

  1. I wanted to become a veterinarian since I was old enough to pronounce the word. I think I was 4. Guess what Carly wants to become? Let's see if she changes her mind over the next 17 years.
  2. I am a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. I was proud to serve my country for 8 years, with a 6 month stint in Saudi Arabia/Iraq as a heavy equipment operator (dozers, pans, graders, front end loaders). Yeah, I am a Tonka fanatic. My unit built roads and runways while dodging "scuds."
  3. While in college, I tried out for "American Gladiators." I passed the first two tests, 50 push-ups in 60 seconds followed by 12 pull-ups in 60 seconds. However, I got "pummelled" in the pummel stick fighting and was sent home.
  4. When I was in 3rd grade, I "threw" a class spelling bee. I did not want to win because then I would have had to participate in the school-wide bee up on stage in front of students and parents. To this day, I still have stage fright!
  5. Charlie and I were married on Andrews Bald in the Smoky Mountains. I was surprised that about 25 people endured a rocky technical hike (4 miles round trip). It drizzled lightly that morning. I have heard it is good luck to have rain on your wedding day.
  6. I almost died of anaphalaxis during Basic Training at Fort Jackson. During hand-to-hand combat, I was bitten numerous times by fire ants. My drill sergeant thought I was wimping out of training, but I guess when I collapsed at his feet, he realized that both he and I were in deep sh!t. I am very thankful that the hospital was only 1/4 mile away.

Tag! You're it: Zeke, Lisa, Mallie, Julia, Sue, and Brigette.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rock Climbing

After 3 days of threshold training on the road, I was rewarded with 3 hours of mountain biking bliss on The Snake. I did not care that it was 31 degrees and I could not see half the trail for the fallen leaves. I was happy that I was on dirt and rock and could control my own pace.
Zeke and I decided to get some practice on the techy rock-strewn section of the Pinhoti that we will be time-trialing come January. We did an out and back from Dug Gap. My legs felt pretty good, considering the block of training I had just finished.
If you have yet to check this race out, you need to. It is a point to point on some of the best trails North Georgia has to offer. It is one of my favorites:
I am just sorry I am going to miss out on the official pre-ride tomorrow. I wonder if Mr. Wheaties is going to be there.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Better Than Chocolate

How much of a good thing is too much? Kim got me started on pomegranates a couple weeks ago at the Swank and now I cannot get enough of them. No longer a pom virgin, I crave these sweet succulent fruits all the time. Even Carly loves them.

They are a bit pricey, but I do not care. I could easily eat several a day, but I hold out until Carly comes home from school so as to share the heavenly experience. I do not know what is going to happen when they go out of season. Probably go into shock, denial, mourning, then acceptance.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A 5K Trail Run ...

... with my bike on my back. That was not my intention. But 2 1/2 hours into a 3 hour planned ride turned ugly when, once again, a babyhead rock leaped into my rear derailleur, slamming it into my wheel and snapping the hanger in two.

Enraged, I came this close (hold up right hand and place thumb and index finger 1 cm apart from each other) to throwing Pinky down the hill. Rather than try the singlespeed thing again, I focused my anger into running. Throwing Pinky over my back, I began to run/jog/shuffle.

I endured the first 15 minutes purely on anger and frustration. The second 15 minutes I made it on damn stubbornness. I never once stopped and rested. I even passed two hikers, who probably thought I was a lunatic. I did slow down long enough to explain why my bike was "riding me."

TransRockies '09, here I come!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Swank

This past Sunday was the 10th running of the Swank 65 in Pisgah National Forest. I had heard about this race over the years as being one of the toughest, given the technical terrain and potentially wicked weather. I was so glad that I was able to finally put this one on my calender.

Thankfully the weather was not wicked. Yes, it was cold ... but dry. Temps started out in the 20's, but with sunny skies, it topped out in the low 50's. Even though I was pretty much through with my season, the butterflies were still flying about in my stomach. After a poor showing at Black Bear, I needed redemption and some positive feedback from my new training schedule and nutrition overhaul.
It was a Lemans start. The run, about 1/4 mile in length, was mostly on singletrack. I started conservatively, as I did not need a twisted ankle or knee to end my day. After retrieving my gel flask which flew out of my jersey, I hopped on the bike and immediately began a 2 mile climb up Cove Creek Trail.

I caught the leading ladies as we all popped out onto a forest service road. I passed immediately and made a little surge to see what they would do. Not much, so after a bit I settled in. The next bit of singletrack was a descent, which I hit hard and fast. At an intersection I went right. Within a couple minutes, I had an "uh-oh" feeling as I was not seeing orange tape. My "uh-oh" turned into an "Oh, sh!t!" when I came upon some racers coming in the opposite direction. So now I had to climb the technical trail I just descended.

Just when I noticed where I made the wrong turn, the 1st and 2nd place women blazed on by. Well, I had to play catch up. Thankfully, I was faster on the descent and caught up to them and passed them just before the superfast and technical Daniel Ridge descent. The leaf cover made it a little sketchy as I could not see the baby-head boulders. Luckily, I managed to stay rubber side up. One racer passed me and managed to kick up a large stick that broke two of his spokes. He was very apologetic to me, fearing that he had thrown part of that stick into my bike.

I blew by the first aid station and began the forest service road climb up to Gloucester Gap. I was feeling good on this 8-10% grade. I looked back a couple times to see if my competition was in view, but never saw them. The gravel road turned into doubletrack, then into a smooth singletrack climb. Just before descending down Butter Gap, I saw Kim and she informed me that I was in first. Always good to know, because with mass starts I am never too sure where I stand.

Butter Gap was fun! A swooping descent with some creek crossings. Unfortunately, I did not get to the part where you could catch some air as I had to make a hard left onto LongBranch. This was a wicked steep singletrack climb back up to Gloucester Gap.

At aid station 2, I swapped Camelbaks. From here, I began the TransRockies style forest service road to doubletrack climb up to Farlow Gap. I made sure to eat and drink while climbing the 15-18% grade in misery. At times, it felt like I was going backwards. This was a 3 mile grunt!

After what seemed like an eternity, I made it to Farlow Gap. Just when I thought the hard part was over, I see all these guys on 8-inch travel bikes with full-face helmets and pads. And they say to me and several other racers, "You guys are crazy!" (Hmmm, what's wrong with this picture.)

What was super-tricky last month when I pre-rode Farlow with no leaf cover, was now "the insane downhill of doom" with several inches of leaves on the trail. I managed to ride more than I thought I could (but still less than I had last month). I am no dummy. I know my limits ... I also know I like all my bones and organs intact. I did not feel so bad when I saw other racers hike-a-biking.

I have mad hike-a-bike skills now and I put them to good use. I was able to pass several guys on foot, both descending and climbing. (Thank you, Lisa and TransRockies)

There was one short but scary section on Farlow where part of the trail had given in a recent landslide. All that was left were a few roots and about 3 inches of width. If you made a mistake or if the remainder of the trail gave way, you would be falling for 50 feet. Man, did it look unstable ... about as scary as the La Ruta trestles. I carried my bike and took short, deliberate steps. Whew!

I had to ride the log again. I was not planning on it, but a racer was fixing a flat right on the trail where I could have bypassed the log. I hit it a little faster than I planned, but made it with no slippage.

After Farlow, there was the other section of Daniel Ridge that I got to descend. I rolled on past aid station 3 and began the last forest service road (#475B) climb. Knowing there was only 8 miles left, I pushed it a bit harder. I was so looking forward to the Cove Creek descent! A couple times I was having difficulty seeing the orange tape due to the sun's glare and began wondering if I made a wrong turn again. Ughh! I hate that sinking feeling.

I rolled across the finish line in first place with a time of 4:32. I was spent but not exhausted. I was happy with my result, but already thinking about next year and knocking some time off!

I rode Stumpy and she performed well. With her 5 inches of travel and light weight, I felt one with the trail ... well, all but some of Farlow! What amazes me is that there are guys and gals out there on hardtails, nailing those technical sections. Kudos to them! I wonder if some downhill instruction would help me out. Or is it that thinking about having to work and take care of my family wisely slows me down?

The main thing is that I had fun ... a blast, as a matter of fact. Zeke had a good race, too. I think it pretty cool that Todd recognized him as the oldest racer out there.
This was a good ending to a wonderful season. I am eager to continue my training for '09.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

She's Here!

Ruby made it to the Outdoor Store today. I am anxious to build her up with some smokin' wheels, a superslick drivetrain, and sweet controls. I guess I will just have to rob a bank, mortgage the house, or put it on Carly's Santa list. Do you think she will notice? Oh, yeah, she is reading 3rd and 4th grade books.

That leaves me with no other option than to work harder and save for a while. I will just keep telling myself ... patience is a virtue. So Ruby can rest for awhile, probably until the spring thaw.

Thanks, Specialized, for a mouth-watering module. I cannot wait for her big sis' to arrive! She will be complete and RTR right out of the box!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Mother's Pride

Most of you who read my entries know that I am not boastful about my results or accomplishments. (At least I think I am not.) I just lay out the facts and let you be the judge.

Well, I may have to boast a little ... but it is not about me. Earlier this week, we met with Mrs. Johnson for a parent-teacher conference. She blew our socks off when she said that Carly was doing exceptionally well and had already mastered her sight word list ... for the whole year. Mrs. Johnson said that Carly is reading on the 3rd-4th grade level and her comprehension is on the 3rd grade level.

She is going to place Carly in the Advanced Reading program and that it will be a challenge to keep her from getting bored the rest of the year. But it is a challenge she will relish.

I say these things because it makes me so proud to have her as my daughter. I have never pushed her to do anything, only encouraged and praised her for what she wanted to do and for what she has done. I have never, in her presence, compared her to others, for I believe that competition at this level (1st grade) is only counter-productive.

She loves to read and Mrs. Johnson says she is helping some of her classmates to read as well. I am happy to see her excelling in school and I hope that this continues up into her college years.

Now, the only question is, how do I get Carly to gravitate some of this love of learning over to the bike!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

HOT 12 Hour

Although Taylor's event, the National Mountainbike Oktoberfest, was this weekend, I chose to race my local 12 hour, the Hill Of Truth. Location, fun factor, and weather all played into it. And I am glad I did. What a blast!

I was concerned about the course conditions since it rained on Friday. Haw Ridge can be slicker 'n snot when wet. 50 degree temps and partly sunny skies greeted me Saturday morning. Perfect!

Zeke was my one man pit crewin' machine. He even sported an official Specialized touk. I think he learned a few things while watching Scott support Danielle at Tsali earlier this year. Pre-race I did not have to a thing, except supervise.

The race started off with the traditional canon blast. I started off fast, but not too fast. The first lap was wet and slick and a lot of racers were fumbling all over the climbs. I managed to skillfully negotiate the cluster. Perhaps I should have started like a greyhound, but I was trying to stay out of the redzone to see how this might help for future laps. I got caught behind a guy on a Kona Jake. He was doing pretty good (probably much better than I could have on a CX bike), but was still slowing me down. I managed to get around him when the trail opened up.

After 2 laps, I swapped a muddy Crash for Stumpy. By the third lap, the trail had dried up considerably. I noticed how much better Stumpy handled the descents, but Crash outperfomed her in the tight, twisty singletrack. Today, riding two different bikes, I noticed considerable differences in their handling. From short, power grunt climbs to long, technical climbs, from tight, twisty singletrack to wide open fast singletrack, this course had it all. The descents were technical with roots and rocks galore. Just guessing, I think there was probably 1000 feet of climbing per 7.7 mile lap.

The laps seemed to go by fast. My legs felt pretty good all day. By lap 9, the hills were beginning to hurt. Red Hill was a short, but steep grunt (20% grade). This year was the first time I did not think the Powerline climb was the hardest. The East Ridge trail climb was just mean! It came right after the Hill of Truth (powerline). After the HOT, there was a technical descent so you had to be on your toes. Then you immediately began the loose East Ridge climb. Ouch. Although my quads were o.k., my hamstrings were screaming! Afterwards, you were rewarded with the fun Kaboom! descent.

I was impressed with Zeke's skills. He managed to keep my bikes spotless, kept me fed and hydrated, took down lap times, and told me where I was in regards to the other solo riders. I give him an 8/10. On one lap I managed to head out without my Camelbak. I had just put my lights on and had the super-heavy Moab battery in my jersey pocket. So with that weight back there I guess I thought I had my Camelbak on. It wasn't until the first climb when I reached for my bite valve that I realized I had ridden off without it. But I don't think it hurt me much as I had been well hydrated all day (I even had to stop and pee at the 5th hour which is unusual for me). A couple laps, he let me linger a bit longer than what I probably needed to. Therefore, 8/10.

By the 11th lap, I had a 3 lap lead on the second place woman (Emily Parker, 15 years old, Way to go!) and I was in 4th place O/A, so I went out for one more. On the 12th lap, after having to yield to a family of skunks and 2 deer, I decided that it was time to call it quits and give the trail back to the critters. All I needed was for a deer to take me out on some crazy fast descent! My left medial hamstring tendon was also hurting and I did not need to aggravate that any further.

So I completed 12 laps, 94 miles, 12,000 feet in 10 hours 30 minutes. The good thing about this race is that I felt much better than when I raced the Black Bear.

One person who I was most impressed with was Sophie. I met her initially on the Kaboom descent as she was giving up her line for a rider behind her. When we finally hit the pavement, I pulled alongside her. Holy cow! She looks so young. She told me she was 13 and racing solo. OMG! I gave her some advice about holding her line and told her what an amazing job she was doing. If you could only see how technical the Kaboom descent was and here was this 13 year old cleaning it, while moving off the easy line; man, her Mom and Dad must be proud.

I am not sure how many laps she did, but that does not really matter. What matters is that she solo'd it and had fun! I am excited to see what she will be doing in a few years if she keeps it up. And I am sure she will as she has strong family support.

Kudos to John and Kent for another fun-filled race!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Funny, how a lot of athletes (including me) tend to overlook this ... one of the most important aspects of ultra-endurance racing. I thought I was a pretty good eater until I had Namrita and then Lynda analyze my eats and treats. (More on that later.)

We will go to amazing ... and costly lengths to shave as many grams as we can off our bikes, thinking that it will make us faster! Sometimes that shaving equates to $100's or even $1000 of dollars per pound.

But when we go grocery shopping, we try to save every penny and usually end up with a cart full of processed foods (or GARBAGE as Lynda calls it). We downgrade our choices in order to save 50 cents. Or we elect to purchase the pre-made meals because we think we don't have enough time to cook fresh.

Ultimately, we end up with a sub-22 pound race bike and a subpar racing engine. And then we wonder why we don't perform up to our expectations. Hmmm! Could it be because we are eating garbage? No, it must be something wrong with the bike ... incorrect tire choice, suspension not set up right, yada yada yada.

Back to Namrita. Earlier this year she analyzed my daily eating habits and gave me some advice. I followed it, eliminating Little Debbies as ride food and increasing my vegie intake. I also slowed down on the nightly ice cream habit. I will blame this on Carly. She loves Mayfield's Extreme Moosetracks. I started eating salads for dinner, sometimes adding chicken on top.

Then a few weeks ago, I hired Lynda as my coach. I did not realize she would also help with my nutrition. I thought I would impress her with my food choices. She knocked me off my pedestal pretty quickly. She said not enough protein, fruits, and vegies. Too much bad fat. I was pretty much deficient in every vitamin/mineral you can think of. I guess she wondered how I managed to race at all. (Must have been my 23 pound bike!)

Yesterday I went shopping and made my selections based on this principle: If the food item is not going to go bad in 1 - 2 weeks, don't buy it! So Carly and I spent most of our shopping time in the produce and refrigerated sections of Ingles. Yes, the food bill was more expensive than usual, but heck! This is my body and I want to be able to function at the highest level for as long as possible!

So, combining Namrita's and Lynda's knowledge, I am now trying to eat high quality protein, 5 fruits, and 5 vegies each and every day. I tell you, it is hard to do as I am full all the time. But the good news is, I don't have the desire to eat chocolate and sweets, my Achilles heel.

But it has not stemmed my appetite for a sub-22 pound full suspension bike!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Deep in the heart of western North Carolina lies paradise. Pisgah National Forest has close to 200 miles of singletrack and hundreds more of fireroads. I had heard that it was where you needed to go to hone your technical skills. So last Friday, Zeke and I headed out to discover and rediscover (Zeke had been there before) the daunting terrain of some of the East Coast's finest.

True to Pisgah we arrived in Brevard and were greeted with fog and drizzle. O.K. by me! I was here to ride my brains out over the next 2 days. We hooked up with the Flyin' Phenoms Trish and Sam at the hatchery parking lot. The next 3 hours were bliss. Trails such as Long Branch, Cove Creek, and Butter Gap gave me a permagrin! At one point while getting some air over the multiple water bars on Butter Gap, I started giggling hysterically. I was like Carly with her Pokemon trading cards ... totally immersed in my own little world of pleasure.

I stayed on Trish's wheel for most of the descents as the fallen leaves were covering a bit of the trail and I knew she would take the best lines. At one point, she shouted back, this rock you are about to see is rideable ... not slippery at all. As I approached this slab of rock in a creekbed at an incredibly steep angle, I held my breath and hit it hard and fast. True to her word, I cleaned it with nary a slip.

Zeke had set up his bike with a Stan's Raven on the front, thinking that all he needed for Pisgah was just a bit more side knob. He soon discovered that to tackle these trails properly, he was going to need a tire with a bit more! Even Sam chuckled a bit when he saw what Zeke was riding. After the ride, we stopped at Sycamore Cycles and Zeke had them mount a Captain. I secretly enjoyed the whole transaction, knowing that it was killing "weight-weanie" Zeke to have to add a few more grams (100-150) to his bike.

We thoroughly enjoyed Trish and Sam's company and parted ways after a post-ride meal. I hope to be able to ride with her more as she is a kamikaze on the descents!

Saturday we were on our own. We wanted to see what Farlow Gap was all about so I pulled out the map and took us up a fireroad climb to where I was sure we would find the Farlow Gap trailhead. This is where I wish I had Lisa's skillful map-reading prowess as we came to a board nailed to a tree. To the left was Shuler Tr. and to the right was Bypass Tr., neither of which was on the map. Not wanting to become practice fodder for the National Forest Search and Rescue Team, we decided to head back down the fireroad. (Did I mention this was a leisurely 1 1/2 hour climb!)

We then found Daniel Ridge Tr. and from there hooked up to Farlow Gap. We are probably one of a select few who do this as an out and back. But I am glad we did as I got some training in hike-a-biking. Actually it wasn't too bad and I enjoyed the last 1/4 mile hike-a-bike push to the top. Lisa would be proud!

Coming down was SO FUN! Granted, there were several places where I graciously and smartly dismounted and slid down the trail, but the rideable sections were a blast. I even managed to clean a log crossing over a ditch ... three times as I was trying to get Zeke to take a non-blurry picture for proof. Oh, well time to get a camera that can take action shots.

We then finished the day by riding the rest of the Daniel Ridge loop. I loved this trail as much for its technical ascents as well as the descents.

After nearly 70 miles of riding, we just hit the tip of the iceberg. Shame on Zeke for waiting so long to get me here. (He has known me for about 4 years now.) I want to come back when I don't have any constraints and can put together 4 to 5 days of epic riding.

I am looking forward to the Swank in a few weeks. I just hope the trail conditions are as good. Even though it rained hard the night before we rode, the trails were not slick at all. I know I will have to deal with all the leaves, but I would rather they be dry.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sorella Hookey Day

Last Thursday, I went down to Mulberry Gap and caught up with a bunch of great women. We had a casual ride on Bear Creek and Pinhoti 1, 2, and 3. Weather was good, trails in top shape, company was fantastic, and of course the post-ride meal was awesome.

I got to hang with the likes of Krista, Loretta, and Aimee and also got to meet the authors of some of the blogs I have read: Chris, Bridgette, and Chocolate Girl (whose name MUST be kept secret). Riding with the girls is just SO MUCH FUN.

The smell of autumn was in the air and the crinkle, crackle of wheels on fallen leaves was music to my ears. It was good to soft pedal up the climbs and peg the downhills. I was given instructions today to have an easy to moderate ride and practice skills ... so I did. What a blast!

Chocolate girl wow'd us with her trackstanding skills and blazing downhill speed. If you ever decide to hold a skills camp, sign me up!

Gale did take quite a spill on a whoop-dee-doo on the Pinhoti. I do hope that she is recovering well.

The post-ride meal consisted of vegetable soup, homemade hummus, and chicken salad. Thank you, once again, Ginni.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My A$$ is Covered for '09

Paceline Products is sponsoring me next year. Today I received a care package in the mail. Eddie got me hooked on this product earlier this year. I absolutely love it! The other product I used worked o.k. but it was twice as expensive and turned to liquid in the heat. Chamois Butt'r holds up much better and longer.

I met Steve Mathews at Interbike this year. Let me tell you, he made me feel like what I had to say was the most important thing he was going to hear that day. This was my first time at Interbike and I was nervous. I knew all these companies would be bombarded with athletes and probably the last thing they wanted to do was to give away product/services.

Steve was very laid back, and in 5 minutes, I felt like I was talking to a good friend. I appreciate his company believing in me. I hope I can live up to their expectations.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

TransRockies vs. Canadian Goose Hunt

Charlie is in Canada this week along with several of his buddies. They are hunting geese and duck. If you do not know, Charlie works for Ducks Unlimited and his passion is hunting.

Since we both spent time in Canada following our passion, I thought I would run a comparison.


  1. Duration = 7 days
  2. Distance = 350 miles
  3. Vertical Feet = 55,000
  4. Average HR = 156
  5. Calories burned = 49,000
  6. Calories taken in = 35,000
  7. Post-ride alcoholic recovery drinks = 0
  8. Risks = exposure, bears, broken bones
  9. Wake-up call = 6am
  10. Suffer factor = 9/10
  11. Fun factor = 10/10


  1. Duration = 6 days
  2. Distance = 0
  3. Vertical feet = 0
  4. Average HR = 90
  5. Calories burned = 21,000
  6. Calories taken in = 35,000
  7. Post-hunt alcoholic recovery drinks = 18-?
  8. Risks = falling asleep in the blind and missing an opportunity, getting shot by your buddy
  9. Wake-up call = 4am
  10. Suffer factor = 2/10
  11. Fun factor = 10/10

Seriously, though, what really matters when all is said and done is #11. We both had a great time doing what we love. And this is what living is about.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Virginia Creeper

On Saturday, we did the family thing as I drug Carly and Charlie along the 34 mile rail-trail. Nah, it wasn't that bad. They both did very well, although they both developed a mild case of "raw crotch." Luckily it was almost all downhill and we stopped several times along the way.

The weather was perfect. Mid 50's to mid 70's and sunny. We stayed in Abingdon on Friday night. Carly, being excited about Saturday's adventure, got us both up before the sun came up, around 6 am. I had been looking forward to sleeping in.

We arrived at the Virgina Creeper Trail Bike Shop and loaded our bikes on the shuttle. After about an hour ride, we arrived at Whitetop Station, the beginning of the trail. There were about a hundred other people getting started, too. It would make for a treacherous start. Within the first 10 minutes of the ride, we witnessed two crashes. Other than some bruises and blood spillage, the people involved would live to crash again.

We happened upon Bruce, Pam, Will, and Morgan at one of the 47 trestles. We rode with them to Damascus, stopping to eat lunch at the Creeper Trail Cafe, home to the world famous chocolate cake. Although the cake was pretty darn good, it was no match for my sour cream chocolate cake.

The first half of the trail is all downhill, on a 2-4% grade. We travelled through some lush forest and beautiful farmlands. Much of the trail is on private property. From Damascus to Abingdon, the view opens up considerably as you pass through many farms, sharing the trail with cows. Along this section, there are several gates we passed through. The grade was level until the last 8 miles, then it began to slowly climb at 1-2%.

Pam, Bruce, and the kids stopped in Damascus. Their journey was done. At this point, I was a bit concerned about how my troops would do, but we continued on ... Abingdon or bust. Carly had lots of energy left as every time Charlie would try to pass us, she would start mashin' and propel our tandem forward.

With about 8 miles left, I could see that Charlie was struggling. The all to telltale signs: moving the butt around on the saddle, standing up and repositioning, and spending a bit more time coasting. I was a good girl, however, and Carly and I slowed and let him take the lead.

Poor guy! After 1 1/2 years of not riding, I take him on a 34 mile ride. Actually, he was the one who offered to come, after my girlfriends bailed. He managed to suffer through. I think the last 8 miles took us about 1:20 to finish. But finish we did.

Carly did amazingly well. She pedalled the whole way on her Trail-A-Bike. She never fussed a bit, except for the time she got debris flung up in her eye from my tire. After that incident, I let her wear my glasses for the duration.

I had to keep Carly in check for the first 10 miles as she was wanting to pass everyone in front of her ... at high speed! That's my girl! No fear she had. Me, I feared the "flying incompetents," so used the brakes quite a bit.

All in all, it was a good day. Rail Trails are enjoyed a heck of a lot better when not in the middle of a hundie!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

City Park Walk-A-Thon

Today Carly participated in a fundraiser for her school. The goal was to get pledges/donations beforehand and then to see how many 0.1 mile laps you could run/walk in 30 minutes.

This is Carly's race report from her mom's view. Three hours before her start time, I had her fuel up on CoCo Puffs and 2% milk. Her gym teacher had all the kids doing with 5 minutes of Movement Prep.

Carly started off smart. She walked a half a lap before she broke off into a "cheetah-like" run. She stayed pretty consistent throughout her 23 laps, alternating between running and walking. Her lap times stayed about 71 seconds.

She pitted 4 times for a 1 minute pit average. (Next year I am going to ask if I can "feed" her as I think I can get her pit times down to 5-10 seconds.) The reason she had long pit times was: she had to find her bottle in a group of 19, unscrew the cap, drink, screw the cap, and then put it back down.

Noah, her friend who is a boy, but IS NOT her boyfriend (so she says) also slowed her down as he began to tire earlier than she. I may have to work on his endurance for next year.

With better attire, i.e. appropriate running shoes, Swiftwick socks, and snug-fitting clothing for aerodynamics, she should be able to shave 3-4 seconds per lap. 5% faster, right?
No, I am not living my life through my child. If I was, she would be riding a bike!
Granddad Jack, perhaps next year you will make a flat donation rather than a pledge per lap!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Black Bear Rampage

Whew! That was a tough one. This race covered all the singletrack at The Whitewater Center, including a 2 mile paved climb and a 1 mile fireroad climb. It was approximately 40 miles. I wasn't sure how my legs would be, but I found out pretty quick as I missed my starting wave by 30 seconds. I pulled an Ursula on that one (inside joke). Jumping from a HR of 110 to 180 hurts! Anyway, I immediately knew that would be counterproductive, so I settled into my own rhythm, knowing that I had the whole race to reel my competition back in.
So as I watched the field ahead of me slowly pulling away, I noticed a few began popping off, including a rather tall guy on a Fisher. Not good for the Fisher team, especially since Mr. Gary Fisher himself was here for this race. I reeled him in and latched on. He pulled me to the singletrack where he graciously allowed me to get in front. Nice guy, I thought. (More on this story later).
I felt like I was a Super D racer today. The legs felt good on the downhills and short power ups, but any sustained climb was just brutal. I was like a 3-legged moutain goat, struggling to maintain an even pace on the climbs.
Finally during the last 10 miles, I began to feel good again. But it was too little too late. I ended up third, 2 minutes off 2nd place.
The best part was having Carly there saying, "Go Mommy, go!" Zeke and her were my pit crew today, handing me bottles along various sections of the course. Even though I was having a bad day, Carly made me smile. She was so cute in her little Castelli cycling cap.
While reliving the race with Zeke and Carly, Zeke asked if I knew who pulled me up the paved climb. I said some poor Fisher guy who popped off the front. Zeke said, "That poor guy was Gary Fisher!" Oops! Oh well, everyone looks the same when in their racing kit.
Congrats to my inspiration, Loretta Simpson, for winning the Expert class. And kudos to Susie Council for her first race back from a broken leg, to Nancy Fields for a personal best and to Cathi Cannon for finishing strong. All the women out there looked strong! Good job, ladies!
And thanks to Zeke. Carly said she enjoyed her "piggyback" rides.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interbike and CrossVegas

Who knew that two days of walking the floors of the Sands Convention Center would be harder than a hundie? My shins are sore, my feet are going numb, and my back hurts.
I managed to meet up with quite a few companies. I have good vibes after talking to their marketing/sponsorship directors. Zeke "pimped" me up. I am anxious to see what happens for '09. I think it was good for them to meet me so that they can put a face with my proposal. And with Zeke's storytelling capabilities, they should not forget me!
CrossVegas was my first time spectating a cyclocross race. To me, it's like a short-track race on road bikes. Their was only two barriers on the whole 3-4K course. It was not technical; more of a power course. It was amazing to see how quickly the lead group broke free of the pack. And stayed this way until the very end. Lance showed up and raced ... he seems to be doing it all these days. I think he managed to get a top 10 or 15. I did not stay for the men's finish as it had been a long day for me and I wanted to escape the mass exodus.
It was good to see friends that I have not seen in a while: Krista, Danielle, Tim, and Rebecca to name a few.
One more day; I cannot wait. For this country girl, Vegas is just too much for me. It is sad that people have to come here to have fun. I want to see the beautiful green mountains of Tennessee. When I get home, I think I will need to shower in Clorox!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

12 Hours of Dauset

Never give up! After 12 hours of racing, it came down to the last lap. Throughout the day, we had been sitting 2 to 9 minutes down on Team Monkey Butt. There guys were just a bit faster than us, cranking out the day laps 1-3 minutes faster. We were able to always reel them back in when they sent their woman out, as she was much slower than us. However, she did only 2 laps, so by the time night fell we were back in the hole, about 5 minutes back.

I went out on the second to the last lap. Lisa came in on her final lap quicker than I expected and I had not seen Monkey Butt's man go out just a few minutes prior to Lisa's arrival, so I thought that we were in the lead. And the plan was that if I was ahead on my lap, I would pull a double. So I hammered that lap. With two HID's blazing away, I was able to maintain my speed.

I was thinking that whole lap that I was going to have to race the final lap as well, so I was in the consevation mode, trying to carry my momentum through each and every little twist, turn, and descent. I came through the transition area just two minutes slower than my day laps.

But then I saw Kim all geared up and ready to go. Suddenly I was confused, but handed off the baton to her. Lisa was there and then I learned that we were still 5 minutes behind.

Oh, well. It was then I settled for a 2nd place. You always have those thoughts of, "What if the opposition was to have a mechanical or crash? It could happen." But it rarely does. I got cleaned up and packed up. Then we went to the finish to wait on Kim.

After Kim had been out on the course for 50 minutes and Monkey Butt for 55 minutes, we began to fidget and wonder. The minutes kept rolling by and no sign of our competition. Oh, sh!t, could they have had some problems. We began to have a slight glimmer of hope that 1st place might be within our reach.

But Kim was late as well. She should have turned a 55 minute lap, but there was no sign of Kim. Then Lisa said that if Monkey Butt was having trouble out on the trail, she hoped that Kim had not stopped to help.

Talk about nerves. Lisa was chewing her nails and keeping close tabs on the minutes ticking by. I was straining my eyeballs as each rider approached, hoping that it was Kim. Julia's heartrate was probably higher than it had been out on the trail.

Then a rider came through with just a handlebar light. It couldn't have been Kim, as she had both a helmet and handlebar. But wait! It was Kim! Holy cow! We won! We sounded like a bunch of 14 year old cheerleaders hootin' and hollerin' as we rushed over and gave Kim a big hug.

Monkey Butt had double flatted and Kim had passed him on the last lap. Then her helmet light died so she had to slow up quite a bit to see the trail.

Sweet victory!

Just 5% faster was all it took!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mulberry Gap Women Only MTB Weekend

What a fun and relaxing weekend! Riding with women that have the same passion as I. I met some new friends, had a great time on the trail, and ate the best food ... EVER!

We were able to ride out our cabin door and even had a good warm up on the fire roads before hitting some sweet singletrack. We rode Bear Creek, and Pinhoti 1,2, and 3 over the course of 2 days and 3 rides. We covered 53 miles.

Our hostesses, Diane and Ginni, treated us like family. I have never felt as comfortable and as at home as I did at Mulberry Gap. No TV, no phone, no radio, no internet, just nature at its best! And Ginni is the best chef, one who loves to cook and make people smile the minute they take a bite! The trails were great, but I was always excited to get back to camp and see what Ginni and Diane had prepared.

My food favorites were the chicken salad, pita crisps, and the berry cobbler! I am going to give it a go at the grilled peaches sometime this week ... if I can find some decent ones.

Thanks to Debbie, Sarah, Nancy, Beth, Tina, and Namrita for such a good time. We need to do this again!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

As Close to Transrockies As It Gets

Since there will be no "unofficial FireWater 50 ride/race" this year, Zeke and I decided to tackle the course yesterday. I had ridden every trail on the course save for Mountaintown. From the stories I had heard, it wasn't going to be pretty.

From the get-go, it was straight up for a mile or so on the lower section on Windy Gap. This immediately brought back memories of the "3 Bitches" from Day 6 of TransRockies. You know, the kind of climbing where you really have to lean over the front of your bike to keep the tire in contact with the ground.

Milma was no biggie. Tibbs, on the other hand, was an uphill rocky grunt of two miles. I had ridden this once last year and walked several areas. But this time I was determined to clean it all ... and I did. With the heat and humidity soaring, I had a steady drip of sweat from my nose. I even had to take my glasses off as the flow of sweat overran my eyebrows and started running down my lenses. Nice!

From there we took the fireroads over to Mountaintown. Now, from what people have told me, it was a slick, gnarly, rocky, multiple creek crossing kind of trail. At least it was mostly downhill. I enjoyed the hell out of it! I think most people tended to blow this way out of proportion. Or maybe it was due to the fact that the creek was low, but most (80% for me) of it was rideable. I did have some dabs, falls, and walked the "slicker than snot" algae covered rocky creek crossings of which I do believe there were two.

What I do believe has happened is that my perspective for riding in Tennesse and Georgia has changed since TransRockies. After riding, slip-sliding, and hike-a-biking Canada's singletrack, the trails here are a lot more doable.

After Mountaintown, it was then on to Bear Creek and Pinhoti, relatively smooth and flowy. Then the grunt back up Potato Patch. Definitely hurting here; probably due to the fluid outflow exceeding the fluid intake.

Finishing off the ride was the descent down Windy Gap. Whoo Hoo with a pucker factor of 9.5! I was able to clean all of this save for one dab and one short walk through two large boulders. I just could not find a line that would spare my derailleur and tibia. The pucker factor occurred where the trail started moving underneath you on a pitch of about 15%. Lots of loose cat-head rocks that were trying to slowly push you off into the ravine.

We ended up with 50 miles and 7500ft of climbing. Now that's TransRockies style of riding!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Windrock 100

If you have any legs left after a long season, you need to check this "hundie" out. This one is being put on by the guys at The Bike Zoo. So if you want to suffer some more, climb on board.

As for me, I have an excuse. I will be riding the Virginia Creeper trail with my daughter and a few girlfriends.

Hmmm ... perhaps next year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Marvelous Mallie

I'm so excited ... and I just can't hide it! Mallie is going to design my up and coming webpage. You see, I won this wonderful gift by contributing to Mallie's efforts during the 24 Hours of Booty. I have had some sneak peeks into Danielle's and Namrita's websites and they are FREAKIN' AWESOME!

As you are all well aware of, my blog (content notwithstanding) is blah. It definitely needs some TLC. Now, I will not have to buy the book Blogging for Dummies.

Hopefully, my new website will be up and running in time for Interbike. I am going to try this ol' sponsorship begging thing this year.

Is it true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? If so, watch out Sin City because here I come!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thanks Lisa

Last fall, I was approached by Kim, a friend and adventure racing partner of Lisa's. She said that Lisa was interested in doing TransRockies with me. At first, I was a bit unsure as I knew that Lisa was a tough competitor with a strong personality (as in, she could get in your sh!t pretty quick). But then I also knew that this was a chance of a lifetime and my best possibility of getting on the TR podium.

And so began our adventure. We did not get to train much together as we both had hectic off the bike lives and lived 2 1/2 hours apart. Most of our communication was via e-mail.

As we started started the first stage, I was praying that we would be pretty equal on the bike. I had heard the horror stories of TR partners having fights on the trail or DNF'ing because of personality conflicts.

Let me tell you, Lisa was a tremendously strong partner. My hardest day was Stage 6. My legs just felt crapped out that day and I had a bad case of "PP," Pulverized Perineum. Lisa stayed strong and pulled my a$$ all the way from the first control station to the finish in Blairmore. She even shoved Cliff Shots into my mouth as she grabbed my bike and hiked it up the rest of the mountain.

Lisa, this was the race of my life! Nothing else can compare to the time I spent on the bike and racing with you! Thanks for an awesome week and an outstanding victory!

And no, I am not interested in doing an adventure race ... yet.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Priceless Moments of TransRockies

1. Collapsing at the end of each stage knowing that our bikes would be taken care of by our awesome support team.
2. Eating two pounds of spaghetti and 5 pieces of garlic bread with never a thought of how many calories I was consuming.
3. The look on my face the moment I realized I (along with 100 others) had just hike-a-biked an extra 700 vertical feet on Stage 2.
4. Regaining the lead on Stage 2 as we passed the 2nd place team on the final climb. (They were far enough in the back and so did not do the extra hike-a-bike.)
5. Watching the full moon rise over the Rockies.
6. On Stage 4 (2nd place was just a couple minutes behind us) hearing a long-ass train come down the tracks just moments after we (but not they) had crossed the tracks.
7. Watching a male racer endo into a 2 foot deep mud bog after I had let him pass me because he was rubbing my rear tire.
8. Fists in the air as we crossed the final finish line in Fernie!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Canada Bound

Hopefully, there will be no "white-knuckling" the airline seat ... just a smooth ride to the wild blue yonder.

You can keep tabs on Lisa and I at

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Wing and a Prayer

Dear God,

I pray for a safe and speedy passage to Canada. Safe ... as in arriving in the same number of pieces that I was boxed up in and speedy ... as in arriving on the same plane as my rider.

I understand that the airport gorillas oftentimes have a thankless job, but I seek their mercy as they load/unload me onto the plane. Please show them the righteous path. Let them know that my rider is appreciative of them working all hours and in all types of conditions to ensure their luggage (and me) is reunited with them upon their arrival.

And if I do have the misfortune of falling off the airplane onto the tarmac, I pray that #1 I am noticed and #2 that my layer of foam padding, two layers of bubble wrap and two blankets offer me a protective cocoon.

If I am given protection under your angels' wings, I will do my best to be strong for my rider and propel her to victory.


-- Pinky

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Color Should Zeke Get?

After much contemplation over the past month, I am pretty sure Zeke is going to trade in his Ford pickup for a Ford Edge. It does make sense as he is a family of one and Big Red likes to guzzle the gas.

So he called me up today to get my input on the color. Well, it is no surprise that little 'ol me from Tennessee would choose the Blazing Copper, aka orange! Other reasons include: easier for stupid drivers to spot, hides dirt well, and would look good with a House Divided novelty plate on the front (Tn/Ga).

What about the other colors?

Creme Brulee: need I say more? Zeke likes women.

Black: would look great with a big Specialized "S" on the rear gate or side, another good color for the House Divided novelty plate.

Light Ice Blue: once again, just too feminine.

Pacific Ink Blue: would look great with Specialized D4W graphics.

Vapor Silver: looks too military

Red Fire: Nope, not THE GEORGIA BULLDOG red.

White Sand: easy to see and keep clean, just not sure Zeke is a white kind of guy.

So let me know what color Zeke would look good in.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wilderness 101 Race Report

The weather could not have been better: the first dry hundy, yeah! Chris Scott woke us up with the customary gong at 5:30 am. The temp was in the low 60's. Instead of my normal pre-race PopTart, I tried a PB&J. I carried my 50 ounce Camelbak with Glacier Mist Rapidade and a flask of Gu.
The first 3 miles was a neutral start on pavement. That was nice and allowed for a bit more warm-up. Once we turned onto dirt, the road turned up and the race was on. I was up against the powerful Pennsylvannia natives, Cheryl and Michelle. Cheryl slowly pulled away from Michelle and I on the first 2 mile climb. I was feeling pretty good, but remembering the disaster at Mohican, I kept some in reserve and rode with Michelle. We hooked up with a train of people that, at first, did not seem to want to work together, but after a bit, found a good rhythm.
Doug (on an Ericksson bike?) was in this group. Every hundy I have done this year, we have been there right together for the first few hours.
From Aid Station 1 began a doubletrack climb followed by a wickedly fast descent. Superfun! After more gravel road, the next bit of singletrack (Longberger Path) was relatively flat and flowy. Towards the end were a series of 3 bridges that got progressively narrower and then a 20 yard rock garden. This year I knew it was coming up, so got in a good position and was able to clean it.
I made it to Aid Station 2 (40 miles) in 2h31m, 29 minutes faster than last year. But this year I knew the most difficult was yet to come. Michelle and I pulled in together just as Cheryl was leaving. We left together and decided to try to reel Cheryl back in.
The next 20 miles had the 3 most difficult climbs. The first started immediately leaving the Aid Station and climbed 1400 feet in 3 miles. Michelle was just too strong; I popped off her wheel about halfway up the climb. She looked like she was going to catch Cheryl. At this point, I settled into a rhythm and rode based on HR and RPE. Although I was disappointed I could not hang with Michelle, I was happy to be feeling good.
The descents off these brutal climbs were steep and technical and brutal on your palms and balls of your feet. Wallace Trail was a descent through a dry creekbed. I saw no lines through this, so I made my own. One mistake, however, and your bike or your body would pay. With TransRockies just around the corner, I decided to play it safe, and so stayed well within my abilities. Stumpy was a bit addled, as she wanted to fly down the trail, no brakes! Sorry, Stumpy, your day will come.
At the 50 mile mark, I was still 10 minutes ahead of last year's pace. After grabbing a bottle at Aid Station 3 (54 miles), I began the 2 mile singletrack climb up Spencer Trail. From there was a short section of fireroad, followed by Sassafras Trail. This has got to be one of the rockiest in the race. Bone-jarring for me and then some pain in my left knee began to flare up whenever I would try to stand and mash. So I sat and spun. Towards the end of this trail, I think, was a loose and sketchy descent with a sharp right turn that I overcooked last year. Well, I about made the same mistake, but managed to stay upright and on the trail.
Beautiful Trail was a scary descent on a steep slope of what looked to have been a landslide a long time ago. Scary as in rocks following you down as you rode over them and one bad bobble and you would be taking a tumble down into the rocky ravine. The trail eventually levelled out (becoming No Name Trail) into kind of a boggy area with wet roots and rotten wood bridge crossings. The old growth forest was breathtaking and the smells of wet leaves and rich soils was captivating: one of many reasons why I love to ride singletrack.
Aid Station 4 (74 miles) was under a bridge. Since I was the only rider in I was treated like royalty. I practically did not have to do anything. They held my bike, filled my Camelbak, and helped me exchange my gel flask. I was off within a minute.
Stillhouse road was a 2 mile climb on a washed out "jeep trail." It reminded me of the ORV roads up in Tellico Plains. Then came the Sand Mountain Trail followed by the Little Poe Trail which had several mud puddles (Stumpy was clean up until this point).
The course finished up with 2 Rail-Trails separated by one long steep climb and one fisherman's trail. I had to TT this last 11 miles as there was no one in sight. I had been hoping to hook up with a train as my quads felt like they were going to explode.
I finished up in 8:59, only a bit faster than last year. I heard that Michelle and Cheryl had a battle for quite a while until Cheryl was able to pull away once and for all.
Other Notables:
1. Thursday night before the race after searching for a vacant hotel we finally found a Microtel that was practically empty. It may have had something to do with the fact that it was right across the street from a federal penitentiary.
2. Where was Aid Station 2B (B as in Beer) this year?
3. Betsy Shogren riding a singlespeed (not by choice) due to a thumb injury. A definite Bad Lass!
4. Cheryl's inexperience with popping champagne which led me to having an earful of alcohol. Just you wait, Cheryl ... payback will be coming!
5. Swiftwick socks are the bomb. No sand, dirt, grit could make its way through to my "toesies."
6. 150 ounces of fluid (120 Rapidade, 30 water) and 14 Gu's consumed.
7. No more PB&J's as a pre-race meal. Even though consumed 2 hours prior to racing, it sat like a rock in my stomach for the first 40 miles.
All in all, a good day in the woods.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Camp Poppy

This weekend was a huge success. I do not know who is more tired: the adults or the children. Even though the adults outnumbered the kids, I think we were no match for their energy.
We met up with Zeke and his son's family (John, Ann Michelle, Mia, and Gunner) Friday night at the Whitewater Center for a night hike. The kids had fun using their headlamps to light the way and fry our eyeballs!
That night the kids (Carly, Mia, and Gunner) got to "camp out" on the screened in porch with Poppy, aka Zeke. Gunner lasted about 5 minutes once the lights went out. Then he ran back into the house to sleep with his mom. It may have had something to do with Poppy telling them a ghost story.
Saturday morning we headed to Lake McKamie on top of Chilhowee Mountain. We first stopped at the Whitewater Center and watched as the water was released into the Ocoee. The kids thought that was pretty fascinating.
Carly and Mia formed teamed up early on to find newts. They were successful and caught one pretty quickly. But he escaped from "the moat" as the girls were off looking for more to catch. Gunner enjoyed making sand castles with Poppy.
Then they all got on the turtle float and enjoyed being towed around the lake. However, once Poppy and I began the game of flipping them off the turtle, Gunner decided he wanted no part and got off. The girls enjoyed face-planting into the water. When they came up sputtering and coughing, they screamed, "Again, again, Poppy!"
John took it upon himself to be the cook. While we were busy having fun in the water, he was sweating over the grill and fighting off yellow jackets. But he cooked up some mean burgers and dogs!
Each of the adults did manage to slip off for an hour. John and Ann Michelle ran the trail and then Zeke and I rode some singletrack. The kids also brought their bikes and pedaled around the lake perimeter.
After dinner at Good Fella's, we went back to Poppy's house. Even though he has only one bathroom, the 7 of us managed to get cleaned up in less than 2 hours ... and with hot water. We managed to get the kids to bed a bit earlier, which was a blessing for us. This is supposed to be an off week for me, but man was I pooped.
Today we headed over to the Hiwassee Outfitters for a trip down the river. We all had "duckies" except for Poppy, who brought his flatwater kayak. Kim also joined us in her kayak. John was worried about Gunner being frightened by the rapids, but as he soon found out, Gunner enjoyed the fast water.
Ann Michelle will probably be the sorest tomorrow as she managed to find every rock in the river and got stuck numerous times. Kim was the "river angel" of the day as she was able to manuever in her boat and get the stranded ones back to higher water.
Poppy stayed the coolest today as he managed to capsize twice. I now know why he invited Kim. She was the one to catch his kayak and bail the water out.
Carly seemed to get a bit bored this time. After all, this is her third year in a row. She was the happiest when hitting the rapids, but did not like the slow-moving water. She is ready for more Class III rapids.
After the trip, Kim was kind enough to give the girls some lessons in her kayak. Now Carly was all about that. She liked Kim's tiny little kayak and did very well paddling from Daddy to me and back again. Looks like I will be taking lessons next year alongside Carly. Now to just find a purple Jackson kayak!
After the float trip, we all went our separate ways. I really enjoyed this weekend. The kids had a blast and wanted to know when the next Camp Poppy was going to be. We will have our work cut out for us next year to top this one!