Tuesday, May 25, 2010

City Park Elementary School Mountain Bike Presentation

This past Friday, Zeke, Bruce, and I gave a presentation/show-n-tell at my daughter's school.  It went off without a hitch, especially since it was basically a repeat.  Bruce was able to reinforce the importance of wearing a helmet.  He crashed last week on his road bike when the tube blew apart at the seam, blowing the tire off the rim and sending him headfirst into the pavement at 20mph.  Except for a cracked helmet and abrasions down the left side of his body, he was o.k.  His bike was another story ... about $1500 in damage.  So he was able to use his body as show-n-tell.  I think he really got through to the kids!  At least I hope so, since when I asked a number of them if they had a helmet to go with their bikes, they said no.

Zeke incorporated life lessons in to his mountain bike stories.  Things like always be prepared, be humble, respect others, don't be told you can't do anything because you are a girl, and man up.  Zeke also talked me up quite a bit, but what he did not know was that while he was doing that, I was talking him up just right across the hall.  Those kids definitely know now that neither gender nor age can come between you and your dreams.

I talked about nutrition and tried to get down on their level by taking a couple characters from the movie Cars.  Simply put, if you want to be fast and endure like Lightning McQueen, then you need to incorporate lots of fresh fruits, vegies, and lean meats into your diet.  But if you indulge in too many fatty foods and sugary snacks, then you will end up slow and broke down like Mater.  I told them to get their parents to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store and don't make too many trips down the aisles.  We also had a quiz where I held up two foods and they told me which one was healthier.  These kids know ... they got it right every time!  They just need their parents to set a good example and help them stick to the right food choices.

At the end, Mrs. Johnson's class presented me with a big poster wishing me good luck in the Burn.  A lot of other kids also made individual cards for me.  Carly and I thought that was awesome!

I wonder if I made an impact on these kids.  I did not have to wonder long.  On Sunday when I was in Ingles shopping in the produce section, a lady towing 2 kids and a husband, ran up to me and asked if I was the one who had given a presentation at City Park the other day.  Before I could say yes, she was graciously thanking me and telling me that I did make an impression on her daughter.  Instead of buying the usual cookies and chips, today they were purchasing lots of fruits and vegetables.  Wow!  I was amazed.  I told Nicole how proud I was and that her food choices would make her smarter and stronger.

I can only hope that I influenced more like Nicole.  Looks like I will be going back to the schools next year!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


My sponsors have been gracious enough to send some goodies to me to help with my Burn 24 Hour fundraiser. 


So come find my pit area when you arrive.  Make a minimum donation ($10) and guess how many miles I will cover in 24 hours.  The closest will win the schwag above.  And that is not all of it ... there will be more to come.

As of now, I am up to $133/lap.  Pretty good, but I can do better.

Today is a 2 hour road ride followed by more packing ...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gearing Up

In a few hours, I, along with Zeke and Bruce, will be giving our presentation/show and tell to the kids of City Park Elementary School.  Carly seemed to be excited; she dressed in cycling apparel this morning.  Hopefully we can get a few kids excited about being on the bike this summer!

Here is a clip from the 2009 Burn 24 Hour:

Burn 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race from Eric Crews on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

T Minus 9 Days

The Burn 24 Hour will soon be upon me.  Coach has gotten my body dialed in.  Last weekend I went over to the course in Wilkesboro and did an 8 hour dress rehearsal.  10 laps later, I was feeling great and confident that I could reach my goal of 25-30 laps.  Amazing what I can do if I just listen to my coach and keep the power in L2, unlike the previous 8 hour test I did at Raccoon Mountain.

Stumpy ('08 SJ) will be my primary bike.  With the extra inch of travel and relaxed geometry, this bike will keep me as comfortable as one can be racing for 24 hours.  I rode her last weekend and was pleasantly surprised at how well my body felt afterward.

The cockpit has all the necessary items.  A picture of Carly to keep me going when the going gets tough.  I will be racing with the PowerTap as this is my "security blanket."  And it will keep me honest.  Yeah, it is a bit heavier, but I will gladly take the weight penalty. The hardest part will be watching everyone ride away on those first couple laps.

The Ergon GR2 Leichtbau carbon grips will keep my hands happy.  The bar ends I will use not for "out of the saddle" mashing, but for additional hand positions.

Indy ('09 Era) will be on deck.  She will get her chance at a few laps when Stumpy needs a little TLC or lights fitted for the night.  Don't get me wrong; I love this bike.  But for me, it is more suited for XC or short endurance events.

Crash ('06 Epic)  will be on stand-by.  Hopefully, Ol' Faithful will not be needed.

With regards to my fundraiser, I still have a ways to go to reach my goal.  Pledges are continuing to come in, albeit a bit slower.  Thanks to my sponsors (The Outdoor Store, Chamois Butt'r, and Ergon), I am going to have a little on-site contest to try to raise a little more money for City Park and Ingleside schools.  For a minimum $10 donation, you can guess the number of miles I will complete in 24 hours.  The closest will win a bag of schwag.  So please stop by my tent Friday and Saturday (up until 5pm race day) and take your best guess!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ingleside Elementary School Mountain Bike Presentation

When you love what you are talking about and you care about the audience, it is amazing how easy it is.  That is coming from one who used to have horrible GI issues prior to giving speeches.  I think the kids were pretty excited today and most seemed to be paying attention.  Zeke, Bruce, and I had the kids rotate through several show-and-tell stations after I gave an opening presentation.  Coach Davis did an awesome job making sure the groups moved quickly and smoothly through.  We began promptly at 9am and ended right at 10:55am, so we did not interfere with the lunchroom schedule.

I talked about the importance of exercise and nutrition.  Zeke discussed 24 hour racing and how the boys need to properly treat and respect the girls.  I even think he mentioned a paddle.  Bruce talked about bikes and safety.  Coach Davis manned the fourth station which showed a DVD of the 2009 TransRockies.  Amazingly, the kids got into that and did not want to leave when their time was up.

The funniest question/discussion was with an 8 year old girl.  It went like this:
  • Girl:  How old are you?
  • Me:  41
  • Girl:  Oh my God, you are older that my mamaw! (Southern for grandmother).
  • Me:  Really?
  • Girl:  No offense.
  • Me:  None taken.  (This whole time I was doing the math.)
The hardest question to answer:  Do you like being a veterinarian or a mountain bike racer?  I took Carly's way out and said both.  And of course there were the usual ones.  How many broken bones?  How many bikes do you have?  What is the furthest you raced?

If I was able to reach just a small percentage of these kids, my mission is accomplished.  Hopefully, the next time one goes grocery shopping with their Mom, he/she will say, "You know Mom, the healthiest food is on the perimeter of the store."  Or, "Dad, please come outside and play with me.  Dr. Lowery says I need at least 60 minutes of outdoor activity per day."  Or, "Pass the broccoli please."

I will be going to City Park next week.  In the meantime, I need to pound the pavement pretty hard as I am still well short of my monetary goal.

In other news, I did get the Specialized grant for some bikes, helmets, and gloves to give as prizes for the Guess How Miles I Will Ride in 24 Hours contest.  Thanks to the gracious donations from Citizen's National Bank, Athens Federal Bank, Southeast United Bank, and Jackson and Runyan C.P.A.'s, I will be able to purchase the remainder of the prizes needed.  Thank you everyone!

Friday, May 7, 2010

22 Days and Counting

The Burn 24 Hour MTB Challenge will soon be upon me.  Since I decided to do this, I have been told more times than I can remember how crazy I am.  Yep!  Go ahead and certify me.  All I wish is to do the best I can and have my feet survive.  The last 24 hour I did, my feet went numb for a month.  Well, Eddie of Wobble-naught fame has since improved upon my cleat placement so I am hoping that will do the trick.

Coach has got my body dialed in.  Too bad I couldn't pay her to do all the rest of the crap that is necessary when racing solo for 24 hours.

This past week has been pretty busy in preparation.  I can so far check these off the list:
  1. Bikes dialed in.
  2. Burn times for lights established.  (Coach loaned me lots of batteries!)
  3. Pit tent waterproofed.
  4. T-shirts for pit crew acquired.
  5. Lodging reserved.
  6. First draft of nutrition plan complete.
Unfortunately, the list of what I have yet to do seems 4 times as long.  No worries, tho', as I am sure everything will fall in place in due time.

Next week I am headed over to the Dark Mountain Trail to do another 8 hour dress rehearsal.  Then I am going to hook up with Kip and Co. and ride the other trails in that area.  I have heard numerous times that they are da' bomb!

Also happening next week is my presentation to the student body of Ingleside School.  Some talking followed by some show-and-telling should keep the kids interested!

I dialed Stumpy today in on the Haw Ridge trails.  They were in superb shape; a lot of maintenance and bridge building has been going on since the last time I was there.  Check out the Friends of Haw Ridge on Facebook!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Kitten With a Contract

A couple months ago, I decided it was time for another cat.  Carly had been wanting one since Angel had died last year.  With spring upon us, I figured now was as good time as any and there would be a bigger selection.  I had not been fervently searching, but just waited for one to "fall in my lap."  For me, those are the ones that turn out wonderful.  It is hard to really know what you are getting into when picking a kitten and I did not want to get stuck with a "demon from hell."

So last week, Carly spent the night with Stefanie while I was racing Syllamo.  I asked her if she would check her barn loft for any kittens as I knew that "old broken leg" was residing there and it was kitten season.  Amazingly, when they did check, they found four 5 week old kittens that did not hiss, spit, and run away, but came right up to them unafraid.  Now that was a sign!  There were 2 tabbies, 1 torti, and 1 orange.  Another sign as our favorite cat color is orange.

We picked Sunshine on Tuesday night.  Using my amazing motherly powers, I was able to get Carly to change his name to Sully -- he he!  He is currently residing in Carly's bathtub while we transition him to the litter box and solid food.

It has been since 1988 since I have had a kitten.  A kitten is a lot of work and responsibility, especially if you want them to turn out right.  So I made Carly sign a contract.

No, not cruel and unusual, but responsible.  Although, as I was writing this up, I was thinking, "And I thought my parents were hard on me!"  I think I just one-upped them.  This has already gotten Carly off on the right foot.  She has been an excellent mother, going to bed just a wee bit later and getting up a wee bit earlier to take care of Sully.  She is doing all of the above and then some.  She has even been wiping his bottom after he eats to stimulate him to pee and poop.  It has made me very proud to see her in action. (Don't tell Carly, but I have already gotten attached to the little bugger, so he won't be going anywhere.)

I have also decided to apply this whole virtual pet Webkinz thing to the real world.  Sully will be Carly's financial responsibility as well.  I purchased the first bag of food, litter pan, litter, and toy.  But from now on, she will buy what he needs.  She will be able to earn money by doing chores around the house, i.e., vacuum, dust, unload dishwasher, weed the flower beds, etc.  Charlie wanted lawn mowing and washing/waxing his truck, but I do think she is a bit young for that.  Sorry, Charlie!

I guess I will see how this experiment unfolds.  Should be exciting!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Syllamo's Revenge Race Report

The night before the race did not go quite as planned.  Zeke and I invited Lindsey over to our motel room for dinner.  We had the most wonderful time getting to know her.  Then Todd called and told us to turn on the TV.  When I did, there were three tornadoes heading our way.  And then the tornado sirens started.  Wow!  Never heard that before.  Needless to say, the three of us spent an hour in the bathtub with a mattress over our heads.  Poor Zeke, in the shower with two women, at the same time, but with clothes on!

A few more wicked storms blew through during the night, but on race day, it, was pleasant outside.  Thankfully, the front that was supposed to stall on us bringing more rain Saturday moved on over to Nashville and then stalled.

The start is crucial.  A mile double track climb at 10% gradient and then the single track begins which is very tight and difficult to pass.  I did a 30 minute warm up so that I would be ready for a fast start.  Last year I entered the single track in poor position.  This year I wanted to be up with the leaders.

When I lined up, I thought I was on the first row.  But racers kept stacking up in front of me and pretty soon, the start was 30 yards up the road.  There are no call ups for this grassroots race:  every man for himself. Ready, set, go!  350 racers headed towards 50 miles of single track bliss.  I treated the start as a 10 minute TT.  I slowly weaved amongst the crowd and made it into the single track in the top 20.  Zeke also had a good start and won his own little race, which was to beat me to the single track.  However, he was wise enough to pull to the side and let me enter first.

The Yellow Loop (Jack's Branch Tr.) was in amazingly good shape, considering the 2" of rainfall the night before.  I opted to put the mudfender on and was glad as this kept my line of sight crystal clear.  Toward the end of this loop, I ran into a group of guys who I will collectively refer to as "The Bumbles."  I am sure they are at every race, but just more prominent here on the technical rocky trails of the Ozarks.  The Bumbles raced to get around me, some of which nearly hit my front tire as they cut back in front of me.  Then they proceeded to go no faster, essentially clogging my field of view.  Now a couple Bumbles did manage to slowly ride off the front.

As we turned onto the Blue Loop (Scrappy Mountain Tr.), the single track became much more technical with lots of mud, rock gardens, and large slabs of flat rocks just slightly off-camber, which when wet were super slick.  At this point I smartly backed off the Bumble train.  One by one, over the course of this trail, they flailed about on the rocks, doing spectacular endos, face plants, and smack downs.  Quite entertaining!  I maneuvered around the carnage.

I stopped at the first aid station only long enough to have my number plate marked.  Then I was off to enjoy the Green Loop (White River Bluff Tr.) and the Orange Loop (Bald Scrappy Tr.).  These are the most technical of the race. The Green is like the last ridge line section of the Snake but only half the length.  A lot more rideable this year and a joy to do battle with a couple more guys on this one.  The beginning of the Orange has a 1 mile steep descent then slowly climbs back up with a few short, steep pitches separated by false flats.  But all of it is like riding in a rocky creek bed with a few large rooty areas to negotiate.  I was lucky enough to ride behind Zdenek, a gentleman from the Czech Republic who now resides in Missouri.  "Z" had great lines and I could not have descended any faster than that.  I distinctly remember last year that there was water flowing down this descent.

The climb back up to the Blue was easy as I was still quite "sparkly."  I was able to stand and mash when needed and sit and speedily spin as well.  Once on the Blue, I encountered the first creek crossing, about 20 yards long, knee deep, and refreshing.  I missed the left hand turn onto the single track that paralleled the creek, but was able to bushwack back down to it after pedaling 50 yards on a gravel road and knowing that this was not right.  Some guys weren't so lucky and had to back track much further.

I rolled into Aid Station 2 (25 miles in) at the 3 hour mark.  Todd was there and I swapped out Camelbaks and gel flasks.  Thanks, Todd!  From there it was back onto the blue and another creek crossing, which was ride-able.  Then the heinous climb of death, about 1 1/2 miles of ascending back up the bluff.  Lots of wet, slick rocks, switchbacks, and finally the Stairway to Heaven.  This is a series of flat rocks in stair step fashion that takeyou up through a rocky crevasse and back on top of the mountain.  I was thankful for the running Coach has been having me doing, because it made the hike-a-bikes so much easier.

On this last section of the Blue, I finally caught up to the last Bumble.  I could see him about 50 yards ahead on some of the rideable sections of this climb ... well, at least for me.  It appeared that he was fighting his bike more than riding it.  After going down hard a few times, I finally caught up to him.  And this is what he said,  "I'm not so good on the technical sections, but I will probably catch you on the flats."  As I passed him, I replied, "Just let me know when you want around."  And I never saw him again.  Well, I did briefly, as the trail came out onto a logging road which was about 0.3 miles long and climbed slightly before jumping back onto more single track.  He was about 40 yards back on this "flat" section.  I put the final nail in his coffin when I dropped it into a slightly bigger gear and disappeared from his field of view.  I mean, really, would he have said what he said if I had been a guy?

At this point, there were 18 miles left and most was pretty buff.  Feeling frisky, I kicked it up a notch and settled into a rhythm of hammering the flats, railing the curves, and using my friend momentum to crest the small hills.  I flew through the last aid station.  14 more miles!  Unlike last year on the Red Loop (Bad Branch Tr.) where I was riding on a bed of sticks and having to yank them out of my spokes and derailleur every few miles, this year it was in perfect shape.  The Red had very little elevation change so I continued to hammer.  However, at miles 37-42, I think I paid for my earlier efforts.  I seemed to stall and a couple guys came around me.  Even the small hills hurt.  I sucked down the remaining gel in my flask, drank some fluids and waited.  30 minutes later, I started to come around and was able to pick it back up for the remaining 4 miles.

Finishing up the Red, I was directed onto the Yellow and the volunteers shouted, "Two to go!"  How I loved to hear those words.  I dug deep and hammered up the final climb, popped out onto the double track where just a little over 5 hours ago I was time-trialling up.  Screaming down this road at 35 mph was much more fun!  I rolled under the finish banner in 5:16, first woman, and good enough for 8th overall.

A wonderful day to race, with blue skies, finishing temperature of 75 degrees, a Specialized Era that kicked trail, and a body that was at its best.

Unfortunately Zeke had a day of troubles:  two flats and two knockdowns.  I guess he did not escape the Bumbles.  As he was not having fun anymore, he pulled the plug at Aid Station 2.

Thanks to Steve and crew for putting on an awesome event with the coolest trophy ever, weighing in at 36 pounds!