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!