Sunday, March 21, 2010

Off The Beaten Path

I have been racing for 10 years now. And yes, it has been great!  I have pushed myself to my limits, been on top of the podium, and have travelled to places I probably would not have, had it not been for the bike.  It has been pretty much about me.

For 2010, I wanted to try something different.  I wanted to do a race, a big race, and use it as a platform to raise money for a cause.  There are oodles of charitable causes.  I based my choice on three things.  I wanted it to be local, I wanted it to be educational, and I wanted to hit a sector of the population that cycling needs desperately.

My race was easy enough:  24 Hour Nationals at Big Bear.  My kind of trail system in my neck of the woods and a pit crew who was available that weekend.  But after Granny Gear cancelled my great idea, I had to scramble for a new venue and new pit crew. 

I am excited to be going back to The Burn 24 Hour.  This is where I did my first 24 hour solo and got spanked by Danielle.  My Mom, stepdad, and Zeke are going to be my crew.  Mom and Doug will do an awesome job, as they suffered through the worse weather conditions at TransRockies last year.  And Zeke is like having three crew members.

I am going to be raising money for my daughter's school as well as the other K-3rd school in my town.  The money I raise (goal of $6000) will be put towards their physical education programs and playground equipment.  I will be giving a series of educational presentations to the children.  Topics included will be cycling, of course, but also health, nutrition, and physical fitness.  Last year when I talked to Carly's after school program, the kids were so interested in seeing my bikes and cycling gear!

Sadly, my county has the distinction of being one of the top 10 most obese in Tennessee.  And Tennesse is in the top 3 fattest states!  Woe is me!  My goal is to enable these kids, even if it is only just a few, to get off the couch and get outside and play.  Did you know that 1 in 3 children are at risk for diabetes?  And diseases that we typically see in adults, i.e. high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and depression, are on the rise in children.

I am also going to have a contest for the kids.  I got the idea from Pua at last year's 24 Hour Natz.  The top 3 boys/girls in each school who are closest to guessing the number of laps and my overall mileage at the 24 hour mark will win prizes.  I am working with The Outdoor Store and Specialized to secure bikes for first place.

I want to challenge all my family, friends, and cycling acquaintances to make a small pledge per lap.  In 2006 I completed 25 laps.  Under the right conditions, I hope to better that this year.  After making some calculations, I need $200-$240 per lap to accomplish my goal. 

I would rather have pledges per lap as opposed to a flat donation.  I figure that this will inspire me a bit more to churn out lap after lap knowing that each one completed brings "X" amount of dollars.  I am not asking for much.  All that I need from you is to forego one lunch at a fast food joint or a couple of bottled beers at your favorite brewery.  That would equate to roughly $.25/lap.

So start turning over your couch cushions and looking under your automobile seats.  Just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment if you would like to give.  At this point I am not going to be using Paypal or any other sort of on-line method of contributing.  I want 100% of contributions to go to the kids so I am doing it the old-fashioned way.  I will be accepting pledges/donations through Memorial Day weekend and will collect the monies during the month of June.

Thanks for your support,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Snake Creek Gap TT Race Report



I could have titled this post, "Why do I need 27 gears?"  Racing it SS was suggested by Coach, as I was ending as I was finishing up a pretty good block of training and she said I would be disappointed racing it geared. 

Zeke and I self-shuttled, putting the "kids," Lisa and Paula, in the backseat.  It was a great way for me to start.  The parking lot was empty and I was able to just get on my bike and start racing.  I love the every 15 second TT format.

Having selected a 32 x 22 gearing, the first flat section to the big creek crossing was a lot of spin, spin, spin, coast, coast, spin, spin, spin.  But that turned out to be a good thing because it gave me a good warm up prior to the doubletrack climb.

I passed Shanna on this section and she was even "spinnier" than I.  All smiles, that girl!  I must mention that I run her cogs and they are sweet!

I was quickly reminded of how much climbing there is in the first section.  Not as technical, but looong climbs.  I spent much of the time out of the saddle and looked forward to the short downhill sections for recovery.  Solo, the name I have given to my Specialized Stumpjumper SS, handled quite well.  I did have to get used to the rear wheel getting kicked around a bit by the rocks on the descent, but other than that, she fared well on such rocky terrain.

Coming into the halfway point, I glanced down at my speedo and saw a time of 1:33.  Could that be?  No way, I thought briefly!  That was the same split I had last year when I raced gears.  Crazy!  The volunteers at the SAG were on their game.  They handed off my hydration pack to me and I rolled on.
Now the climb up Mill Creek Mtn was tough.  My quads were on fire!  But I was NOT GETTING OFF.  Amazing what the body CAN do when it doesn't want to do the other.  So I settled, sitting briefly when I had the chance.  Once on top, I was able to get on the gas more.  I came upon a Motor Mile SS'r and he was riding well, so I paced off of him.  He got a stick caught in his wheel on the descent so I lost my buddy there, but was able to pick up another Motor Mile SS'r on the fireroad climb up to the last 7 mile technical ridge section.

A lot of racers dread this last section, but I embrace it.  I always seem to be able to save a little for the end.  Or perhaps it is that here I can smell the barn.  I love the rocks!  I pushed it pretty hard here because I knew I had a chance to win and set a PR!  I must say that I did run (read walk fast) more sections on my SS, but there is no shame in that.

At about 4 miles from the finish, I felt  twinges in my medial hamstrings when I was grinding up some steep climbs.  Oh, crap!  Not wanting to cramp, I slowed it down just a bit.  Leaving the singletrack, I tucked into an aero position.  Darn headwind slowed me down, but I managed to cross the finish line with a time of 3:27:51.  That is only 1:16 slower than 2009's time.  I could not believe it.  Those who had been racing SS for awhile had told me that SS are really no slower than geared, but I did not believe it.

Kudos to Lisa, my TransRockies partner, for 2nd place and setting a PR.  Mamas rock and rolled the Snake this year!

Once again, NWGA Sorba did an outstanding job with marshalling, swag, food, and prizes.  Special thanks to Ginni and Diane of Mulberry Gap to providing a HUGE mound of delicious oatmeal cookies!

No Swiftwick bounty for me this year.  I wonder how I would have done had I raced it geared this year.  Oh well, there is always next year.  

I love my SS.  It brings back childhood memories of me and my many one-geared bikes!