Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chamois Butt'r's Little Brother and Sister

Everyone knows about world's best chamois cream, but Paceline Products and the Chamois Butt'r line also have a couple other good products as well.  After a solid year of putting them through the works, I can now lavish them with some words of praise.

The Sports Wash is a great addition to the post ride/race clean up protocol.  No water around?  Needing to remove the embrocation?  No worries, just spray liberally to skin and wipe off with a rag or paper towel. With Sports Wash, you have no excuse climbing aboard the podium a dirty mess. It works extremely well at removing embrocation, COMPLETELY, so that you don't have that intense burning sensation on your legs, ALL ... THE ... WAY ... HOME.

Sports Wash contains green tea extract, aloe vera gel, and peppermint. It has a nice fragrance and is non irritating on intact skin.  I would caution its use if you have any road rash or open wounds.

Sports Kit Wash is the go-to cleaner for your high end cycling kits or swimsuits.  It is recommended for handwashing your items, but I have also used it in my washing machine on the delicate cycle.  It does a nice job of removing any Chamois Butt'r residue.  I have also used it as a pre wash, soaking my dirty kits in it, when I didn't have the opportunity of washing them immediately post ride/race.  It won't get heavy mud (think red clay) stains out.  For that, I recommend Progold Degreaser + Wash!  Where I have really noticed its effectiveness is with my swimsuit.  Frequent washing with it has increased the life of my suit; no more "saggy bottom" after a season's use.

So, there you go.  Two more awesome "Made in the USA" products by Paceline Products!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cholesterol: What the Drug Companies Don't Want You to Know

I want to write about something that is near and dear to my heart.  Last January, after completing my Whole 30, I went to my doctor for my annual exam and bloodwork.  I had just finished reading Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution and I asked my doc if he could some additional tests.  Instead of just the basic cholesterol profile (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides), I wanted the full monty (breaks down HDL and LDL into small dense and large fluffy particles, C reactive protein, homocysteine, A1C, and tons of other useful info).

Highly recommend reading this.

After giving what seemed like a liter of blood, I anxiously awaited the results.  Three weeks later, I had a 6 page report in my hand.  My doctor said my total cholesterol was high and suggested I go on a statin drug.  What the heck?  I had just finished up the best "diet" ever, was feeling awesome, was staying on a Paleo diet at this point, and my total cholesterol was 267!  Sure, my HDL was at a very healthy 129, but my LDL was 112.  The report did have a lot more info such as Apo A-1, Apo B, Lp(a), etc., but to me, this was Greek!

The last time I listened to a doctor's recommendation, I had my gall bladder unneccesarily removed and prescribed a pill for inflammatory bowel disease.  So I politely declined the statin script and vowed to learn Greek.  I poured over the web searching for truthful info, but kept striking out.  It seemed like every site supported the use of statin drugs.

Eight months later, I found The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra while Carly and I were in Books A Million.

A must read, if you value your life.

After reading this book, almost non-stop, I finally could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  My first thought was, "F--- you drug companies and your statin drugs!"  The sentence that immediately captured my attention was, "When the National Cholesterol Education Program lowered the 'optimal' cholesterol levels in 2004, eight out of nine people on the panel had financial ties to the pharmaceutical company."  Nice!

After reading the book, I now understood my test report and all those letters and numbers made sense.  Here are a few key take home points from the book.

The easiest way to know if you are at risk for cardiovascular disease is to walk (shoulders/back straight, chest out) towards a wall.  If your belly hits the wall before any other body part, you are probably at risk.  Pregnant women are the exemption :)

Not all HDL's are good, and not all LDL's are bad.  They can be broken down into the bad small, dense particles and the good large, fluffy particles.  Needless to say I had a ratio of small dense to large fluffies of 0.27.  I got an A+ on that test!

The most important colesterol particle of all, which conventional tests do not focus on, is Lp(a).  Lp(a) is a very small, highly inflammatory particle that is thrombogenic (blood clotting). It is the foundation of plaque.  Once again, I received an A+, as mine was 17 (optimal levels are <30 p="">
Saturated fat raises cholesterol, but it raises the overall HDLcholesterol and the good part of LDL cholesterol far more than it raises the bad part of LDL.  And that would go along with my increase in numbers since I had become Paleo.

As far as conventional cholesterol tests go, the triglycerides are the most important risk factor for heart disease.  And it is sugar and processed carbohydrates that raise triglyceride levels.  My triglycerides went from 84 (pre-Paleo) to 46.  A+ once again, as optimal levels are less than 150. If your insurance only covers the conventional cholesterol testing, then the better way to predict heart disease is to calculate the ratio of your triglycerides to your HDL.  For example mine is 46/129 = 0.36.  If you have a ratio < 2, you ought to be happy, regardless of what your total cholesterol is.  Just to make a point, my husband's total cholesterol is 188, but his ratio is 3.6.  Anything > 5 is problematic.  I really need to talk to him about his convenience store eating habits.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a marker for inflammation.  Optimally you want to be < 0.8.  Mine was 0.3.

Homocysteine is an amino acid by product that causes your body to lay down sticky platelets in blood vessels.  Normal is < 11; mine was 7.  If this number is high, taking folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6.

You can change your LDL levels; it is not all genetic.

Lowering cholesterol has a very limited benefit in populations other than middle aged men with a history of heart disease.

Cholesterol levels are poor predictors of heart attacks.  Cholesterol is the buiding block of sex hormones.  It is needed to make Vitamin D.  It is used to make bile acids needed for digestion.  Brain cells need cholesterol to communicate.  Cholesterol is used to fight infection.  And the list of good things that cholesterol does goes on ...

Cholesterol is not the bad guy:  SUGAR is.  Inflammation is at the "heart" of heart disease.  Sugar is highly inflammatory.  Factor in chronic stress and you have a recipe for disaster.

So, after deciphering my lab work, I now feel comfortable with my "high" total cholesterol.  I will continue to eat grass fed red meat, grass fed clarified butter, pastured bacon, and and free range eggs.  I will continue to stay the hell away from food in a box and sugar!  After all, I have no family history of cardiovascular disease; the Williams clan does have pretty good tickers!

And no, I will not be taking any statin drugs just to lower a number that is insignificant to begin with.  Just in case you do not know, statin drugs can cause muscle pain, memory loss, liver failure, and deplete your body's stores of CoQ10 (which is vital to muscle function, including your heart!).  The drug companies will tell you how statins reduce your risk of heart attacks, but what they don't tell you is that it is relative risk and not absolute risk.  Absolute risk is the true reduction in risk whereas relative risk is a big smokescreen that obscures what you really want to know.  It is their way of making their numbers sound really good.  And remember, most drug companies fund their own studies. Fuzzy math, I tell ya!

So maybe these authors are just full of crap, have some vendetta against the drug companies or are wanting to make a buck or two off their book.  Well, I don't think so.  They have a 14 page bibliography of research articles that are not linked to drug companies.

I encourage you to think long and hard before taking any drug.  You have got to be pro active about your health.  A number is just a number; you must factor in history, genetics, environment, and clinical signs.  Unfortunately today, too many doctors just want to focus on numbers.  And drug companies will concoct pills to "fix" those numbers, regardless of what additional problems those drugs will cause.

Screw you Lipitor!  Food is my medicine.

A good website to go to that discusses advanced testing is Health Diagnostic Laboratory.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Double Dare Race Report: Day 2

Total Time:  9:30
Moving Time:  7:35
Mileage:  60
Elevation Gain:  8500ft
Hi Temp:  65
Lo Temp:  21
Food Consumed:  4 strips bacon, 5 Larabars, 4 dates
Fluid Intake:  150 ounces Scratch, 1 5 Hour Energy

5 am came quickly.  After a few hours of fitful sleep, I slowly wormed my way out of the sleeping bag, started the engine, and began the arduous task of putting cold clothes on.  At least I was in my vehicle and within 10 minutes, I was quite toasty.  The advantage to only getting 3 hours sleep was that my body did not have enough time to seize up.

Breakfast consisted of 2 hard boiled eggs, a sweet potato, and a Red Bull.  Then I stumbled out of the car, and grabbed my Camelbak (damn, it seemed to have gotten heavier overnite) and bike, and made my way to the fire.  At 6 am, Eric told us to ride up to Pilot Mountain (Farlow Gap).  There we would receive our passports.  However, teams would be sent off every 30 seconds in reverse order of how they placed on Day 1.  Kym's and Kaysee's team started ahead of us; good to know as I was unsure of where we were after the first day.

As we began our journey up FS 475, my legs woke up surprisingly well.  I had started out in a heavy base layer, jersey, rain jacket, and winter tights.  Halfway up I shed my jacket.  As we approached the top, we noticed bikes without riders.  The volunteer instructed us to ditch our bikes and hike up to the shelter where we would receive our passports.  Legs were NOT happy about that; they wanted to keep spinning.  Mountain goat Lisa went on ahead while I argued with my feet.  By the time I got there she had the passport and map opened.  I love this part of the game.  It is like opening up a Christmas gift from your best friend.  You have a general idea of what you might be getting, but then SURPRISE!

I wanted a smile, but got a "Just take the damn picture," from the Princess.

After 10 minutes, we had the first half of our route dialed in.  We went back to our bikes and then back tracked to the intersection of Farlow Gap and the FS 229 for our first CP.  Then we turned back around to head down the gravel roads to Daniel Ridge.  On our way back up FS 229 (we were climbing), we had to yield to more than I care to count downhill riders.  Ahem, but I DON'T think that is proper trail etiquette.  Any other day, it would have not irritated me so much, but after 85 miles, ???? feet of climbing, and at 7:30 am, my blood began to boil.

Going back down the gravel roads, I made the mistake of not putting my jacket back on.  By the time we turned off to begin the climb up to the intersection of Daniel Ridge and Farlow, I was a popsicle.  Rookie mistake.  It took me 30 minutes to thaw out and made even the flattish section of Daniel Ridge miserable.

The Queen of time management at CP #2.

Warm again, we motored down to the fish hatchery.  We did an out and back on Cat Gap to Butter to gain our third CP at the intersection of Long Branch and Butter.  It was the climb up Butter that my legs died.  I did not even have the power to lift the front end over the water bars and so had to push most of it.  This was about 3 hours into our journey.

My legs were happy to see this CP!

The ride back down to the fish hatchery was fast and furious.  This was a much needed break for my thrashed legs.  We locked our bikes at the hatchery and ran up to John Rock to get our 2 CP bonus.  Run is a relative term.  I started out that way, but then digressed to a shuffle, walk, crawl, and even a hobble.  My foot neuropathy reared its ugly head in the form of electrical type pain in my left foot and then my right IT band joined in the "pain-fest."  Chris Brown, his team mate, and Garth caught up to us.  They did not want to take the lead, so this forced me to keep the pace up ... which was a good thing.

John Rock ... the fish hatchery is right where my left elbow is, 1500 feet straight down!

Lisa and I let the guys go on the way back down.  After what seemed like an eternity, we were back at our bikes, rummaging around for food, when somebody said to us, "Do we know you?"  It was Andrew and Kate ... of Mulberry Gap fame!  They were on their honeymoon and just happened to stroll into the parking lot.  That was cool!  We chatted a bit while changing shoes and base layers, eating, and filling Camelbaks at the fountain (which, BTW, is not near as good tasting as the creek at the bottom of Pilot).

The ride up Hwy 276 to Pink Beds was my low point of the day.  This was, by far, the hardest part of the journery for me.  My batteries were at 5% and Lisa had to slow down as I kept popping off her wheel.  I used this time to eat and drink some more.  I did note that we were at the 6 hour mark and from the days of my racing "hundies,"  I would always seem to have a lull around 6 hours in.

The Pink Beds Trail was new to me and my legs welcomed the flats.  This was the mandatory CP and our 6th CP (including the 2 point John Rock bonus).  We had the opportunity to earn an additional 1/2 CP by hitting a target with a BB gun or each eating 2  pickled eggs or sausages.


Either shoot a piece of shit and hope Lady Luck is on my side ... or die a slow, horrible death.  I took the BB gun.

Maybe if I was cross-eyed, I could have hit the target.

Needless to say, I failed the special test.  However, while I was taking a 5 Hour Energy shot, Lisa tried her hand at the BB gun ... and failed miserably, too.   The section of Pink Beds over to South Mills was tight, twisty, and rooty.  That was NOT what the map said.  It was rather slow-going and arduous ... for a flat trail.  However, while I was negotiating the twists and turns, little did I know that the 5 Hour was slowly rekindling the fire in my legs.  By the time we hit South Mills, I was "go-go gadget" legs!  I flew up South Mills and Buckhorn.  Lisa said it was all she could do to hang on!  Red Bull may give you wings, but 5 Hour Energy gives you rocket engines!

CP #7:  Buckhorn Gap shelter

After grabbing CP #7, Lisa was all about hiking over the Black Mountain Trail to Pressley Gap.  Whoa, Nellie!  I had to reign her in; I told her that would take us AT LEAST 1:15.  I don't think she believed me.  At this point in the game, I was done with pushing my bike.  My left ankle was killing me and my feet were about to go on strike.  Lisa finally relented and we began to make our way down Clawhammer and up Maxwell Cove.  Whoo hoo!  The forest service had recently graded these fire roads and they were uber fast!  I was smiling so much my face almost cramped.  It was here we hooked up with Brad and Matt and rode their wheels up to CP #8 at Pressley Gap on the Black Mountain Trail.  Total time to this CP was 42 minutes

Pressley Gap, 26 hours into our adventure.

We flew down to the horse stables and made our way over to the Bennett Gap Trail. The climb up Bennett was tougher than I had imagined.  Not only was I dealing with a sore ankle, heavy legs, and water bars, but we had to dodge a couple groups of downhillers that were bombing down the trail at breakneck speeds on their big travel bikes.  I don't even think they saw us, and if they did, probably thought we were a mirage.  Who would push their bikes up Bennett anyway?

We grabbed our final CP, #9, at the intersection of Bennett and Coontree.  Once again, we descended Coontree, this time during daylight, and were able to make much better time.  As we began heading back up Hwy 276 to FS 475 to Cove Creek campground, I began doing the math in my head.  We might, just might, be able to go back up and snag the CP at the top of Butter.  A little battle in my mind began to play out:  the competitve side said "hell yea!" while the rational, tired side said "hell, no, I wanna eat the 16 ounce T-Bone that awaits!"

We actually stopped at the entrance to Cove Creek, pulled out the map, and spent a few minutes comtemplating.  The rational side won.  Lisa gave me the biggest hug ever!  And we pedaled up the gravel to complete our soul lifting journey.

17 CP's in 20:30 netted us a 10th place and secured my Queen of Pisgah title.

Smiles, not grimaces!

It took 5 years and plenty of heckling from certain individuals who will be nameless, to get me to compete in this huge undertaking.  My excuse:  I had to wait for the right partner.  This was, by far, my favorite race of the season.  The weather did play a big role, but it was a combination of my fitness, the terrain, the adversity, Eric's evil scheme, and team mate that made for an epic journey.  After 7 days, I am still riding a high.  And looking forward to P36, I think.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Double Dare Race Report, Day 1

Total time:  10:40
Moving time:  8:44
Mileage:  75
Elevation gain:  11,000 ft
Hi temp:  55
Lo temp:  30
Food consumed:  4 strips bacon, 5 Larabars, 4 dates, 1 gel
Fluid intake:  130 ounces Scratch, orange flavor + 1/2 can Red Bull
Creek crossings (wet feet):  0
CP's:  8

Lisa looking at the map one last time before the start.

I worried myself into a mental mess in the two weeks leading up to this final race in the King/Queen of Pisgah series.  The biggest fear, especially after the Wilkes 100K was getting miserably cold ... and wet.  After that it was fretting about the fears of bike mechanicals and not meeting my partner's expectations.  Lisa Randall is the queen of adventure racing.  I knew she would see me through, but I did not want to be a burden to her.  We have been team mates before (2008 TransRockies and 2013 PMBAR), but this was a 30 hour race in what could be brutal conditions.

Saturday morning we rolled into the Cove Creek campground with plenty of time to get ready.  The weather could not have been better ... for Pisgah in November.  Yes, it was cold, but dry.  We readied our gear, checked in, and then prepared our vehicles for the overnighter.

At 11:50am, the soul crushing Eric Wever, began the pre-race meeting.  At 11:57 am, he said that our passports would be awaiting us at Bent Creek Gap.  My mind tried to figure out where that was in the forest.  And then it hit me!  That was at the other end of the map!  Then Eric said that this was a time trial and the first 3 teams would get time bonuses.  We immediately knew we were not in the running.

At noon, the race commenced.  As we began pedaling out of the campground, a bunch of front runners took the Cove Creek trail.  For a moment I contemplated turning around and heading that way, but decided that FS475 to Hwy 276 would be about the same time and a much easier warm up for the long day.

As we began our journey, Lisa casually asked how long was this time trial (read:  slog) going to be.  Oh, about 25 miles.  I wish I could have seen the look on her face!  We hooked up with Kym and Jason and rode their coattails up to FS 1206.  I will take a free pull any day.  Kym was currently 2nd in the Queen of Pisgah; this time spent behind her allowed me a chance to assess their strengths and weaknesses (if any).  As we passed the intersection of Hwy 276 and FS 475B, we saw Sam Koerber and Zack Morrey turning onto the pavement.  I was much reassured as I had picked the most efficient route.

Once on FS 1206, we decided to let Kym and Jason go, as their pace was unsustainable for an all day adventure.  No sense blowing up in the first couple hours of a 30 hour race.  It took us 2:12 to ride up to the gap.  Sam Evans and David Wood made it up in 1:42.  It was great to see Shanna's face as she handed up the passport.

Within 12 minutes and without too much disagreement, we had a general idea of our route.  Lisa had visions of grabbing 6-7 (not including the special tests).  Being a little more familiar with the forest, I was realistic with 5.

1st CP:  intersection of Spencer Gap and Trace Ridge Trails

We both put our rain jackets on for the chilly descent back down FS 5000.  The climb up to our first CP went by pretty quickly and we were off to our next.  We went back down FS 5000 to FS 5001.  We had to dismount and walk our bikes past a group of horses.  Dodging poop piles we made our way up to our second CP.  Lisa gets an A+ on time management.  Every time we stopped she was whipping out the map and plotting, even if it was for only a minute or two.

2nd CP:  intersection of FS 5001 and Bear Branch Trail

Back down FS 5001, we had to bushwhack around the horses.  I managed to get a small pine limb wrapped around my rear derailleur pulleys.  Had it not been for Lisa mentioning this danger, our day could have ended there, 4 hours in.

From there, we decided to go hit the mandatory.  The leaves were thick on Laurel Mountain Trail, making the hike a bike sections very slippery.  Dry leaves + rocks + cycling shoes = potential ankle/knee buster.  This section took us about 1:15 to reach the checkpoint (intersection of Laurel Mountain and Pilot Rock connector).  With darkness approaching it made Special Test #1 quite entertaining.  We chose the hackey sack over eating the jalepeno.

We made the hackey sack toss on the fifth and final try ... at dusk.  We also made the video:  see our 5 seconds of fame around the 2 minute mark.  I am glad we opted NOT to eat the jalapeno, as we had only 12 ounces of water between us.

We opted to do Special Test # 2 as well.  This consisted of running up to Mount Pisgah, 2 miles up, 2 miles down, with a elevation gain of 1700 feet.  The last mile I will call "stairway to heaven."  I felt like I was on a stairmaster; nothing but rock ledge after rock ledge.  However, it was pretty cool to be doing this in the dark.  At the top, I quickly snapped a picture of the tower, as the winds were heinous.  Including the time to change into and out of our running shoes, it took us about 2 hours to grab this bonus.  It wasn't until the end of this run that my feet started to get painful

Mt. Pisgah:  worth 2 CP's

On the way back down, I developed a pretty serious headache, most likely from dehydration.  Luckily, Lisa had some Vitamin I in her first aid kit.  I forgot I had stashed a Red Bull in my pack, so Lisa and I split that little burst of energy.  At this point we were completely out of water, but figured we could fill up at the creek at the bottom of Pilot.  Once I was back on the bike, my foot pain subsided.

Descending Pilot is difficult enough during the day, but take away light and add a ton of leaves and it gets quite interesting.  I checked my ego at the top; after 8 hours and 50+ miles of racing, now was not the time to make a mistake.  Once at the bottom, we took a break to eat and refill our Camelbaks from the creek.  Damn, that was some great tasting water!

It was now 8:30.  Time to buckle down and grab 2 more CP's before heading back to camp.  The ride along FS 1206 went by quickly.  Lisa had let me borrow one of her Lupine Piko's.  What with 1200 lumens, 4+ hour burn time, and ultra light weight, I was really enjoying the night riding.

While on this stretch of gravel, I was able to reflect upon how blessed I was to be able to do what I love to do, despite the hiccups in my path the last few years.  This is what life is about:  living, not just existing.  Fulfilling the passion, testing the mind, pushing the body.  Being able to share the adventure with Lisa just takes it to the next level.  We fed off each other's positive energy.  And when one of us was having a tough moment, the other was able to step up and be that "crutch" to lean upon.

CP # 4:  intersection of Club Gap and Black Mountain Trail

The push up Club Gap was definitely more pushing than riding.  The leaves were DEEP and with all the loose cat head rocks, we both kept spinning out.  Better to conserve energy by walking; this also allowed us an opportunity to eat again.  From there we set out on Buckwheat Knob.  I had not ridden this trail since the inaugural Pisgah Stage Race, but I did not forget the gnarly descent.  By this time I was so tired of walking, I just wanted to let it go on the descent.  Luckily my brain was still functioning and won the battle.  Back to walking ...  Slowly but surely we made our way over to the next CP.

CP # 5:  Saddle Gap on the Bennet Gap Trail

Notice that there is a theme to our checkpoint acquisitions.  I take the pictures while Lisa stuffs her face with food.  Her hummingbird metabolism was having a hard time keeping up with our efforts.  Towards the end she had a hard time taking in enough calories.  I was doing very well with my nutrition.  I am pretty sure that being Paleo while off the bike has allowed me to utilize the diesel (fat-burning) engine to a greater extent so that during hard efforts, I still burn more fat than carbs.  In years' past, when I was a carb junkie, I had to maintain 250 calories/hour to maintain, but this year I have noticed I can race just as hard on 175-200 calories/hour.

Once we acquired our 5th CP, we headed down Coontree and back to Cove Creek camp.  We arrived to cheers and bells and a warm campfire.  After checking in, we headed back to our vehicles to eat and get ready for the midnight special test and Day 2.

This last special test was worth a 1/2 CP.  It involved a 1 mile race around the campground.  All we had to do was participate.  While I was waiting for midnight to roll around, I changed clothing and managed to eat an 8 ounce hamburger, a banana, a sweet potato, and a 1/2 bag of potato chips.  I chased it down with 16 ounces of chocolate almond milk.  Where did it all go?  It did not hamper me one bit during the midnight race.

I managed to get to bed at 1 am for a few fitful hours of sleep.

The weak choose not to suffer. The strong choose pain, trading it as currency for moments of exquisite conquest.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sponsor Highlight: Cane Creek

Whenever we get a new bike, it is always the wheels, suspension, cranks, brakes, etc. that gets talked about.  No one ever mentions the poor little headset.  This little beast of burden takes alot of torture:  it is in a direct line of fire from everything that gets thrown off the front wheel and are subject to regular jet wash abuse.

Cane Creek invented the threadless head set.

I have been a Cane Creek user since the beginning of my weekend warrior bike racing passion.  My shop told me Cane Creek is the best, this is what I need, and I said o.k.  As the years have gone by, I have seen it first hand:  I would buy a complete bike with a non Cane Creek headset, and within a few months, I would have to replace it ... with a Cane Creek.

The quality is immeasurable, the warranty is unbelievable, and the feel is buttery smooth.  Yep, the bearings do need replacement, but with much less frequency than the other brand I have used.  The company is located in Fletcher, NC

Proof I have them on my other bikes, too.

I am very thankful that Cane Creek is on board for all my head set needs in 2014.  I am using the 110 series in my Cysco single speed and "soon to be" CX gravel grinder.

Cane Creek's engineers were tasked with developing a no-compromise, best-in-class premium headset.  With the introduction of our 110-Series, they did just that — choosing optimal materials, engineering the most effective internals and designing the best aesthetics available in a headset.
The 110-Series offers the widest array of configurations available in a premium headset. With the flexibility to purchase complete assemblies or separate Tops and Bottoms, the 110-Series offers a premium solution for nearly all straight and tapered configurations on the market today. From Integrated (IS) Tops to External Cup (EC) Conversion Bottoms and everything in between, you can mix and match your headset purchase to best meet your needs.
Cane Creek ensures that whatever your headset requirement, we have a premium solution for you, backed by our 110-year warranty. 

Nevermind the 110 year warranty,  you can get them in super cool colors:  blue, red, silver, and black.

I chose silver.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wilkes 100K Race Report

This was the inaugural race that showcased the trail systems of Wilkesboro, NC.  From the fast flowy nature of Warrior Creek and the Overmountain Victory Trail to the punchy, rooty ups and downs of Dark Mountain, this race was all about laying down the hammer.  The trails were interconnected with short bits of pavement and gravel.

NC 268 --> OVT --> Dark Mountain --> OVT --> NC 268 --> Warrior Creek = 57 miles and 6500 feet of climbing.

The Saturday morning wake up call came early.  I had been in Asheville acquiring my 20 hours of continuing education in veterinary medicine.  I decided to play hookey on Saturday to journey up to Wilkesboro and ride some kick ass trails.  But when I woke up tired and looked at a temperature of 26 degrees, I knew it was going to be a tough day in the saddle.

Driving up to the venue, the sun rose up over the mountains, but the temperature did not change much.  It was 28 frickin' degrees at the start.

This kept my legs happy, at least on the outside.

130 riders lined up for a neutral start.  A little too neutral for me.  We were escorted by the sheriff for the initial 4 miles on the pavement.  After the first mile, I noticed that my front wheel was wobbling ... really bad. Was  the wheel coming loose?  I finally recognized the problem.  I was shivering uncontrollably!  Please speed up Mr. Policeman, so that I can get warm!

Once we were directed off the highway and onto Jess Walsh Road, it was game on!  Although my hands and feet were blocks of ice, at least now my core was warm.  And then, about 40 of us were suddenly slamming on our brakes as we were being funneled into the OVT.  It spread out pretty quickly, however, and soon I was in my own bubble of pain.  For some reason, I felt like I was just not firing on all cylinders.  It was probably a combination of the cold + late season + unfamiliarty with the trail.  As I was cursing the cold, Kip came up suddenly behind me on his SS.  He politely stated, "Hey, its Carey.  We must be getting close to the front, " and "That's a really good looking bike," referring to my Niner Air 9 RDO.  But what I think he meant was, "Are you having a problem with your bike?  Why are you going so slow?"  I let him and his friend on by, and they blew past me hammering up a short hill.  They were on fire and looking so strong.

Even though I was not feeling my best, I must say that the OVT, with the new Berry Mountain loop and all its tight, twisty bermy trail, was really fun.  It flowed so well I found myself not needing to use my brakes so much, which was a blessing since I could not feel my hands at all on this trail.

People joke about there being 50,000 of these.  I would say at least 500.

Once on the Dark Mountain trails, I began to feel a little better.  Guess the diesel had finally engaged.  That was good as there was more extended climbing here.  The trails were also alot more eroded than when I had done the Burn 24 Hour race in 2010.  I could not imagine doing 27 laps here now!  As I worked my way through the roots, rocks, and leaves, I caught up to Mark.  He had decided to race today just the day before; his way of getting an extended training ride.  We rode together for awhile, but then he got some grass wrapped around his derailleur pulley and had to stop.

Back on the OVT, I slowly but surely began picking my way up through the ranks.  Those who had buzzed past me earlier were now feeling the effects of their efforts.  Although these trails are not hard, they require you to be constantly on the gas.  Towards the end of the OVT, I caught up to Tom from Richmond, Virginia.  This was his first experience on these trails and he was a tickled as a kid in a candy store.  Together, we worked to try to make short effort of the paved section back to Warrior Creek.  The HEADWIND did not help!

Warrior Creek was ridden clockwise (opposite of the 6 hour race).  I am not sure if it was the direction or the fact that it was at the end of the race, but that lap seemed to go on FOREVER.  I swear the BMCC added an extra 5 miles somehow.  Oh, and throwing in that nasty pavement climb of 20 % was brutal!  The Headwaters Trail was new to me.  The perfectly placed pedal striking tombstone rocks made me wish I had those instant engagement Industry Nine wheels on my steed.  I managed to fumble slowly through this section.

I did manage a giddy smile as two guys who were following just a little too close on the uphill rock garden, toppled over behind me as I slowly picked my way though the rocks.  Don't ride "up my butt" guys!  This 105 pound "half-pint" doesn't have the torque to power through but rather relies on slow speed skill to pick her way through technical sections such as these.

Normally for me, during the last miles of any race, I get into the "barn-smelling" mode and am able to finish with a little kick.  Not today.  There was no gas left in the tank.  Those last two miles  hurt!  I still managed the win, though, with a finishing time of 5:00:44.

Later, when I totally up my nutrition, I realized I had not drank enough.  55 ounces over 5 hours when it should have been at least 80-90 ounces.  Total calorie count was adequate but hydration status was not.  As long as I have been doing this, you would think I would have nutrition down pat.

Still, it was a great day to be in the woods.  Jason, Paul, and Co. put on another wonderful event.  They felt bad that the podium schwag was subpar compared to 6WC, so they gave everyone cash instead!  And the T shirt was dedicated to one of their club members who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The cyclist is a collage of pink ribbons.

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 Points 50 Race Report

Taking place atop Lookout Mountain, Tn/Ga, this race was a Jeckyl and Hyde kind of course.  Race director, Michael Long, did his homework well when laying out this course.  It had a little bit of everything, from pavement to smooth flowy fast trail to tight, twisty rooty trail to rock gardens to creek crossings.  The further you got into the race the harder it became ... at almost an exponential level.

I had just come off a much needed rest week, especially since I had raced the 3 weekends before.  I hadn't done that in a long time, and it hurt!  This aging body needs more time in between efforts to recoup and it wasn't until the Thursday before the race that I started feeling good again.

The starting temperature of 49 degrees was perfect.  There is nothing like uncontrollable shivering at the start to keep my mind sharp and focused.  Once the race started, I was on the gas and forgot the cold.  The lead out on the pavement was only neutral until the first hill.  And then I was digging deep to stay with the lead group.  My goal was to hang with Paula and any other women on the road, even if I had to burn a match or two.  I fell off the lead group but managed to stay with the second group and slowly bridged back up to Paula who had been in no man's land for a while.

Closing in on the 5 Points single track, it was Paula, Elizabeth, Namrita, and I.  With less than 100 yards to go, I knew it was imperative to get the hole shot, so I surged ahead of Elizabeth and Namrita and rode Paula's wheel into the woods.  We were on the connector leading to the climb up Fugget Lift when I shifted into my little ring up front ... and the chain decided to wrap itself around my bottom bracket.  Crap!  Off the bike, looking upside down at this ridiculousness, and trying to unravel this mess, my heartrate shot up as racer after racer passed me.  Monty was kind enough to stop and offer assistance, but by that time (it seemed like many minutes later) I had fixed the mechanical.

For the next 30 minutes I played catch up.  I shifted minimally for fear of a repeat and so spent the most of the 5 Points trail system in my big ring, grinding my Jet9 RDO up the climbs like it was a single speed (that would come back and bite me later).  My full suspension rig was a little overkill on the sweet flowy 5 Points trail system, but would later be to my advantage.  I enjoyed the flow and slowly bridged back up to Paula and Elizabeth.  I was able to make a pass as Elizabeth overcooked a turn and ride Paula's wheel through the CapRock section.

Upon entering the Ascalon trailhead I took the lead, did not take a feed, and rode the short pavement section to the newly cut single track.  It rolled fairly well, but was off camber in a lot of sections and strewn with loose small rock.  As I entered the rock garden, Paula was on my wheel.  I pushed just a little harder.  When I heard Paula falter, I drilled it for a few minutes, trying to shake her off my wheel.  Mission accomplished, I caught up to two guys.  They were riding a good pace so I used them to focus on keeping my tempo up through these 5 miles.

Coming through the Ascalon trailhead a second time, I felt my Camelbak, and knew I could make it to the final aid station before needing a feed.  It was on the Tailing's Run trail that I felt the first signs of fatigue.  This tight, twisty trail with its short punchy ups and downs was working on my hamstrings and quads.  I was glad to finally be on the CCT and racing back to Lula Lake Land Trust.

The CCT was fast!  I really enjoyed the full suspension here as it was chunky in places with lots of loose cathead rocks.  I came upon Shane who was attempting to fix a double sidewall flat (a 9 penny nail had gone through both sidewalls!).  I stopped for about 30 seconds, massaged a CO2 out of my saddle bag for him, and told him that he had better catch me.

I really enjoyed the 2 mile section off the CCT.  It was primitive single track  ... I think some old hiking trails. In some areas, had it not been for the orange flags, I would have lost the trail.  It felt like I was deep in the forest, miles from civilization.  The creek crossings were challenging, but rideable.  This was the second section that I saved precious seconds by having full suspension.  The last crossing had a short hike a bike and this was where Shane caught me.  He was riding like a bat out of hell!  Popping out onto a high end subdivision, I rode past multi million dollar mini-farms and stopped at the aid station.  I opted to drop my Camelbak and pick up a bottle for the final 12 mile push.

And a long push that was going to be!  There was a 1 mile section of mostly uphill pavement to get to some private property that would lead to the Lula Lake Land Trust section.  When I tried to go a bit harder, I felt a twinge in my right hamstring.  Not good!  I immediately slowed up, trying to avoid a full on cramp.  It worked, but this was the first time that I got worried about the competition behind me.

The section of ATV roads leading to Lula Lake was like riding the spine of a stegosaurus:  long steep ups and downs.  Luckily my bike was behaving and the granny was put to use ... alot.  Finally I was onto the trust property and was introduced to some kick ass trails!  The one trail I remember is the B Trail, aka the Jedi Trail.  A gently rolling smooth flowing trail, it weaved through the trees.  I had my groove again.  This section was laid out so that you would climb on double track and descend on single track.

At one point, I saw the start/finish area through the trees and across Rock Creek.  I crossed the creek on foot allowing the cool water to soothe my feet and calves.  Then it was onto a gravel road climb, followed shortly by a steep section of single track that was so tightly woven amongst the pine trees, I had to slow considerably just to get my handle bars through.  After about 3/4 mile, I was directed out onto the pavement for a 2 mile rolling climb to the final section of single track.

It was here that my engine died.  That rolling pavement did my legs in ... and that reoccurring twinge in my right leg reminded me how close I was to completely blowing up.  The racers in front of me appeared as tiny ants.  Finally I was at the left hand turn.  A short bit of pavement, somebody's private drive, and then I was directed right ... up THE POWERLINE CLIMB.

I cracked!  Off the bike pushing and suffering.  Suddenly I heard a rider come up behind me and then pass me like I was standing still, which I pretty much was at this point.  It was Elizabeth!  She had seen me on the pavement, smelled blood, and charged!

As she pedaled away, up the powerline climb, I did a little soul searching.  Was I satisfied with second?  Did I even have a chance of vying for first?  Would I be caught by third? While I was thinking about what happened and what could be, I pushed just a little harder, hopped on the bike, and pedaled a little harder.  After a few minutes, I could still see her.  I dug a little deeper; I got a little closer.  The gap was closing!  When she turned around to see where I was, I knew then I had a chance of vying for first!  I caught her on a descent.

With about 3- 3 1/2 miles left and the single track being tight, I had to wait for her to make a mistake.  At one point, I tried passing during a log hop, but she surged ahead and we almost locked bars.  I backed off, not wanting to take us both out doing something stupid.  I laughed and she said something like, "This is a real race!"  We came to a descent and I was right on her wheel; the trail veered sharply to the right.  Elizabeth was carrying too much speed and went straight.  I made my move!

I turned myself inside out over the last 2 miles.  I had never seen my heart rate that high so late in a race!  I suppose I can now rule out any sort of heart condition, as that was a true test of its performance.  And it was over this last section I was at an advantage on a full suspension.  The trail was pretty technical both on the ups as well as downs, with large rocks and roots to climb over, and some pretty good ledgy drops on the final descent leading back to the pavement.

I never looked back, even on the short pavement section back to the gravel drive that led down to the finish.  I buried myself in my machine, turning the pedals over as fast as I could ... hoping that my legs would not seize up.  I rolled through the finish line in 4:27.  Elizabeth came in 2 minutes later.

I had asked of my body what I thought was possible, but not probable.  Now knowing what I am capable of, I can never just "let her go," which will make future races all the more interesting.

Pain cave, I have entered you not knowing, and have exited with the excitement of knowing that I can push my body to its limits, and not only survive, but succeed!

Epic trails + happy volunteers + organized aid stations + equal pay outs + tons of usable schwag + a great post race meal (watermelon!) = MUST DO NEXT YEAR.  But be forewarned, the course will test your limits.  The last 12 miles are brutally fun.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Bike Sponsor

19.1 pounds of fury (frame weight = 3.5 pounds)

Back in May, I received a phone call from Richie Moore, owner/builder of Cysco Cycles.  He offered me a deal I could not refuse.  The past couple years I had been noticing these Ti bikes popping up at races.  I have also known Richie for some time as we used to train and race together back in the day.  Bruce, my mechanic, had a Cysco steel hardtail and John, a local riding buddy, had a Cysco Ti SS.  Every Cysco owner that I talked to had nothing by good things to say about their bike. So when Richie offered to sponsor me for 2014, I jumped on board ... especially since he was cool with me continuing to ride my Niner geared bikes.

I worked with Chris, Richie's partner, in creating the frame.  Chris has an amazing wealth of knowledge about how angles and different tube measurements will affect the handling and compliance.  He was very patient with me in designing my SS frame.  I basically started with my Niner SS geometry and tweaked it a bit here and there.  After 3 weeks of talking back and forth and looking at ALOT of drafts, I settled on version 6.0.

From bits and pieces ...

From there it was all Richie.  Based on my weight and how I wanted the bike to "feel," he selected the tubing size and shape.  Once he had the materials in hand, it took him about 2 weeks to build it.  He would send me pics of the process and I would oogle over them, wanting the bike NOW.  But I patiently waited as I knew Richie treated each build like a piece of art.

The stars definitely "tried" Richie's patience, but turned out beautifully!

Instead of putting decals on his frames, he blasts the Cysco name on ... not as easy process!  With my frame he also went to extra lengths by blasting on stars on the seat tube to represent my SS National Championship.  There is also one more piece of  uniqueness about my frame that, should it ever be stolen, I can use to identify it.

After riding it several times and getting one race on her, I can definitely say this bike was built for me.  The first time I clipped in, it just felt right.  Like an Avatar, the frame is an extension of my body.  The build is the same as my Niner SS, save for the Industry 9 Wheels; I have Stan's Race Golds on my Niner.   It is more compliant than my Niner A9C SS.  I am really digging the Paragon rockers with the 142 x 12 rear.  With no CYB and quick release, my drive train is silent.  Mind you, my Niner CYB can be silenced, but it takes grease ... both the elbow and ProGold EPX kind!

Love the thru axle stiffness.

Just look at the welds and you will realize that Richie is a damn good welder.  He has been building Cyscos for 4 years now and prior to that he worked at both Litespeed and Lynskey for 10+ years.

The curved seat stays help to improve bump compliance.  That paired with a 27.2 mm Niner RDO seatpost make for a most comfortable ride.

Yes, custom frames can be expensive.  A Cysco starts at $3400.  But it is not "cookie cutter," it is handmade in the USA!  And you get the helpful expertise of Chris when designing your frame.  And yes, titanium can be light and lively.  I cannot wait to get to know mine even better over the next few months.

Bike # 273

Addendum:  Richie's bike come with a LIFETIME warranty on materials and workmanship ... to the original owner.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

ChainBuster 6 Hour Race Report

Last weekend I was treated to perfect trail conditions for the JackRabbit 6 Hour Race in Hayesville, NC.  I was racing coed with the fast and furious Tyler Murch.  The whole SuperSport team, save for Mark Dee, was there.

Hanging out with the team.

Tyler elected to go first ... so thankfully I did not have to race down that looooong stretch of pavement on my SS, carrying a cadence of 160+!  Tyler said that he was gonna take it easy on the first lap and "feel out" the trail and competition.  Good idea, as he had never ridden these trails.

Tyler came out of the woods first, but it was not MY Tyler.  Our team had another duo racing, Tyler and Mary.  So as Mary went out on her first lap, I anxiously awaited my Tyler.  What a nail biter!  After several anxious minutes, Tyler arrived.  I had so much energy balled up, I fumbled around with the timing chip, losing precious seconds.

My first lap I was the greyhound chasing the rabbits.  Even though I went with a harder gear (32/18) this year as opposed to last year (32/19) when I raced solo, I still felt undergeared.  I also had not ridden JackRabbit since back in the winter, so I was pretty squirrelly in the turns.  I caught up to the 3rd place coed team about a 1/3 of the way through and the 2nd place coed team about 2/3 of the way through my lap.  I was really wanting to see Mary before I hit the pavement that would carry me back to the transition area, but Mary is one heck of an athlete (only 2nd year racing MTB's) and as I was spinning furiously on the pavement, I saw the other Tyler coming the other way.  I figured I had cut into their lead by at least 2 minutes.

The timing chip exchange went smoother this lap.  Tyler looked determined to amp it up this lap.  While he was racing, I headed over to the pits to do a little fueling.  As I grabbed my bottle to refill it, I realized I had not drank a drop.  So right then I decided that all further laps would be "bottle-less."  No need to carry an extra 2 pounds!  After a handful of dates and the bottle of Heed I had drug around on lap 1, I was ready to get back to business.

Tyler roared back in after his second lap.  I took off knowing Mary was just 2 minutes ahead.  Having got the flow of the course in my mind and legs, this lap was much smoother and more efficient than the first.  My Cysco, with its custom geometry and my Industry 9 wheels, with their instant engagement, allowed me carve the turns and hammer the short climbs, like a cheetah after a gazelle.  I finished the lap, yet again bringing the gap down to 30 seconds.

Tyler smelled blood and took off after Tyler like mad.  I knew that it was gonna be tight this lap, but when I saw both Tylers hammering down the pavement back to us, I could not believe it.  My Tyler had turned himself inside out and caught Mary's Tyler!  Game on!  As they rolled in to the transition, Tyler yelled out to Mary and I, "No pressure!"

I led Mary out.  I expected her to come around since she had gears, but she was content to let me lead.  She later told me that she wanted to learn my lines.  I was honored by this statement.  We were on fire and passing racer after racer after racer.  After a couple miles, Mary dropped off my wheel.  I later learned that a dude from behind ran into her and crashed.  She stopped to see if he was alright as he was screaming.  He was.  She was frustrated as his ineptitude cost her precious moments.  

I rolled into the transition with another hot lap:  funny, my lap times were within 25 seconds of each other.  I told Tyler to keep the rubber side down and don't get squirrelly.  His 4th and final lap was his fastest!  Talk about negative splits!  He smashed it!  So proud of him.  We ended up coming from behind to take the win.

Tyler and Mary finished second.  The rest of the SuperSport team had great finishes as well.

Proud to be a member.

Next up is the ChainBuster 6 Hour at Oak Mountain in a few weeks.  Once again, Tyler and I will have our work cut out for us.  Besides our teammates Mary and Tyler, we will also be up against Lisa Randall and her "secret weapon."  Let's just say this "beardy" fellow has a National Championship under his belt  and races for Jamis.  But I have confidence in Tyler and my abilities ... this will be an epic race!

Gotta love Randall!  He is the "Si" of the team!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Southern Single Speed Championship

Last weekend, I mosied over to the Payne Creek Trail System on Lake Hartwell along the Georgia/South Carolina border.  A "new to me" trail system, it was 9 miles of well maintained fast, flowy hardpack trail.  I did not do the omnium but rather chose to pre ride on Saturday before the monsoon hit.  This would be my fourth ride/first race aboard the Cysco.

Whoop!  Whoop!

About an hour before the race Saturday morning, I found a partial sidewall tear on my rear tire.  Oh, crap!  I muddled over the possibilities:  ride it, ride my Niner, throw a tube in it.  Five minutes later, I decided to just go for it.  If I flatted, well, then I could practice my flat fixing skilz.

A testament to Specialized tires and Stan's Sealant -- it held!

After a good long warm up, I rolled up to the second row.  I just happened to glance down at my front wheel and what did I see?  A flattened "road kill" frog that was stuck on my tread!  I thought about the significance of that for a moment.  The Faster Mustache crew were in force, one dude yelled "Go!", I clipped in on the first pedal stroke (small victory), and the field set a blistering pace up the pavement.  The big gear mashers pulled away and I was in the second group to enter the single track.

I was amazed.  Hero dirt!  Even with the deluge the night before, the trails were perfect.  There was plenty of traction in the corners and I fell into a nice rhythm carving  the turns.  Ursula and Lisa were right on my tail through the Heartbreak Ridge section, but I was able to pull away during the beginning of the main trail.  Last year there was a beer short cut on the second lap:  drink 16 ounces and you did not have to ride the 1/2 mile lollipop.  Not knowing if the short cut was going to be there this year, I kept the pace up to try and buy as much time as possible.  Last year, Lisa chose the beer ... and probably would again, since Chris would be able to make the drive home.  I timed the lollipop:  3:30.  Pretty big penalty!  Go go gadget legs!

Finishing up the first lap, I swapped bottles.  The legs were still happy, so I continued at my pace.  I must have been fatiguing a little, as I banged my rear tire on a couple of roots/stobs and heard that loud popping noise when the tread is temporarily "stuck" on the obstable.  That got my adrenalin to kick in, for sure.  I settled a bit after that.  I came upon the  lollipop loop ... and no beer short cut.  Whew!

I finished the two lap race in 1:34, good enough for first.  Ursula came in second a few minutes later and then Lisa in third.  I do believe she was still carrying some TNGA fatigue as she stated she like the descents better than the climbs.  Monster!

Overall, the Faster Mustache crew put on a good event.  They rallied through the rains to ensure the short track/cross race occurred and worked with Jud and crew on the trails to create a furiously fast trail for the xc event.  My only complaint would be the prizing and that would have to be on Maxxis.  A 26" tire/tube for first.  Really?  Second place was the place to earn, for they got an Endless Cog!  Having said that, the trophies for the omnium were pretty cool and unique.  I do believe Zach created those works of art:  sort of a cross between a chia pet and a lamp.  (Sorry for no pics!)

As far as my steed, she is most amazing!  I love the feel of titanium.  And the custom cockpit has me becoming one with the bike.  I leave it at that, for now.  She is due a post all her own ... soon.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pisgah Monster Cross Race Report

This start/finish line scare me ... in an exciting kind of way.

This was stop #4 in the King/Queen of Pisgah series.  A 71 mile gravel grinder; this was the "easy" one on the docket.  "Easy" being relative.  When I arrived in "The Forest,"  I questioned if I was in Pisgah because it was sunny and warm.  After a brief spin to remind the legs of what tomorrow was going to bring, Zeke and I went to our "home away from home" Sunset Motel, and I prepared our typical pre race meal of chicken, potatoes, and brussel sprouts, microwave style.

Race morning was crisp and cool.  As riders milled around awaiting the 8 am start, I nervously looked around for my competition.  With no racers' list, I had no idea who was going to show up.  Trish "soft-core" Stevenson faced that she was toeing the line and Kim Schifino, currently sitting 1 point behind me, would be here as well.  I saw plenty of women, but none that I recognized.

Seeing smiling Shanna, I knew I was indeed in Pisgah!

The course was going clockwise this year, opposite of last year.  When the gun went off, there was no need to go anerobic, as we had a police escort all the way up Hwy 276.  It was a nice start to what was eventually going to be hammerfest.  Once we turned off onto the Fish Hatchery road, the race really began.  My legs were quite happy climbing up to Gloucester Gap, but so were everyone else's.  Immediately 3 women passed me at warp speed.  I had to let them go, knowing that I could not sustain that kind of pace.  I eventually caught up to two of them just as we crested the climb.

The descent off Gloucester was tricky technical as it was riddled with stutter bumps.  Bottles were being "yard saled" right and left.  Fortunately, mine stayed put.  I passed one woman as we crested the climb and another on the descent, but then got passed back by one.  I knew then that this was not going to be an easy race.

Towards the end of this descent, I spotted Mr. I-9 himself, Jacob.  After reading about his bad luck at ORAMM (not carrying enough tubes/CO2/hand pump), I figured he had ample supply this race, and passed right by him.  After the race, I talked to him about his bad luck.  And no, he did not learn his lesson.  It took about 70 racers passing him before he was able to fix the flat.  Whoops!  Being an I-9 sponsored rider now, I hope that did not hurt my relationship.  It shouldn't; Dicky "dicked" him at ORAMM and is still on good terms.

The three of us along with a handful of guys eventually regrouped on the 10 mile climb up Hwy 215.  Within the first two miles of this climb, the pack broke apart as the road kicked up.  One woman pulled away from me. This was Trish but I had no idea at the time that it was her.  I could tell by her posture and cadence that she was uber strong.  I tried to pick up my pace to match hers but just did not have enough umphh.  I had to let her go, hoping that my happy legs would come back.

I was riding a friend's Cannondale Super X with a 46/36 front and 11/28 cassette.  I am by nature a spinner and the 36/28 was making my legs feel like concrete blocks.  About 1/2 way up the climb I was sitting in 3rd place as I was able to drop the fourth place woman.  I had no idea where 1st was and could only hope that she would crack at some point.

I was able to pull a good group of guys up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This race is not only about fitness, but about tactics as well.  More of a road race than MTB race, you need to be able to find a group that you can hang with, sit in the draft, take pulls, and thereby conserve energy.  The wind is your enemy and if you get caught on the BRP all by your lonesome (happened to me last year), you will eventually wilt.  Unless you are Jens Voight or Sam Koerber.

I did not stop at the first aid station as I was lucky enough to be in a good group on this 24 mile stretch.  By no means was it easy-peasy, but it did allow me to recover from the climb.  I still had to get on the gas ... on the descents!  In some of the steepest parts, the guys were coasting and pulling away from me, even though I was spinning my hardest gear at 120 rpm+!

Descending the BRP.  Photo credit Brad O Allen

I popped off their wheels a couple times on the steeper descents and had to reel them back in on the climbs.  On one of the last climbs, my right hamstring decided my effort was a bit too much and began to cramp.  I let off the gas, grannied down, and it went away pretty quickly.  Assessing my nutrition, I realized I was not drinking enough.  So over the next 15 minutes I killed a bottle.  

Just before the last aid station at the intersection of the BRP and FS 5000, there is a 6-7 mile descent with just a couple of short ups.  It was here that I started shivering.  As much as I like carving the turns, I was ready to done with this section and eagerly looking forward to the Yellow Gap climb.  However, I still had to descend FS 5000.  

I was able to catch up with the 1st place woman, Jane (who was now 2nd as Trish had passed her on the BRP).  I had to stop at the final aid station for a bottle swap; she did not.  I was still cold, but now that I had spotted a "carrot,"  I forgot about my goosebumps.  FS 5000 is mostly down, with a few false flats.  It was so bumpy that my eyeballs were bouncing around in my skull, making it difficult for me to see the roadbed.  After a couple squirrely moments, I had to slow down in order to focus.

Finally I was on the short bit of pavement that led down to North Mills River campground.  And then the Yellow Gap climb began.  Yes!!  After flushing the lactic out of my legs in the beginning mile, I was able to ramp it up and make short work of this 3 mile climb.  I spied Jane and reeled her in.  I felt like I was flying up this climb.  And sooner than realized, I was at the top; now to make short work of FS 1206, an 11 mile stretch of rolling gravel.

Halfway through, I spotted a figure in a ProGold jersey.  Could it be 1st place?  I kicked it up a notch and slowly rode up to this elusive racer.  As I pulled alongside and made eye contact, I suddenly realized that who I had been chasing for 57 miles was THE Trish Stevenson ... of  TransRockies, GDR, NUE fame.  She is one of a handful of talented ladies who I have looked up to for years and sought guidance when I first got into endurance racing.  

Photo Credit Brad O Allen

I spoke to her briefly as I passed and then raced like a "scalded dog," hoping she would not hang onto my wheel, as she has a big engine.  I was afraid to look back, but after a few minutes took a glance and saw her in the distance.  I did not let up, but hunkered down and treated the last 12 miles like a TT.

On the final gravel climb up FS 477, I was fortunate to hook up with Ian, who was smelling the barn.  He pulled, I pushed, and together we made short work of this 2 mile climb.  We were able to enjoy the last descent and "whoo-hoo'd" most of the way.

I rolled under the finish line in a time of 4:36.  Although this was the "easiest" of Eric Weaver's events, it was the hardest win of the season for me.  The last time I "chased" this long was the 2007 Cohutta 100 where I chased Danielle for 99 miles and ended up coming in second by a wheel.

Once again, I must commend all the volunteer efforts as this race was well organized.  NASCAR style aid stations are what I like and that is what I received!

4 down, 1 to go.  It will be my first Double Dare.  I wonder what the evil mastermind has in store for us fools.  All I know is that the mental game will be as hard as the physical one.  Bring it, Mr. Weaver!  For I have the baddest adventure racer/mountain biker east of the Mississippi as my partner.  And she loves to suffer! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Black Bear Rampage Race Report

Semi sparkly today

After a few years' absence, the stars aligned and I was able to race in my "backyard."  Due to the tremendous trail work effort by Henry Trent and Scott's Bike Shop, racers were treated to a blazing fast course on Sunday.

Leading up to this one, I was dealing with a disrupted GI tract.  Four weeks ago, I decided to try some home made banana bread I had made for the family.  It had rice flour in it.  I had been rice free for 8 months, so I decided to try a second time to reintroduce it.  BIG MISTAKE.  Two days later, I was suffering from its ill effects on my ever so delicate small bowel.  After two weeks, the inflammatory effects resolved, but then something else "disemboweled" me.  I felt "glutened," but not to the degree that I usually feel.  The only thing I could think of was I cross contaminated myself when making my family some sandwiches or that I may have a GI bug of some sort.

Come race day, I was beginning to feel a bit better.  Perhaps it was the excitement of racing, but I was ready to rumble!  With their being no other Pro Women, it was just me and my shadow.  So I jumped in with the "big boys" and raced with the Pro/Expert Men.

The start was fast and furious! I wasn't 30 seconds into it when some guy locked his handlebars with mine.  Really!?!  We had a whole lane of pavement and it was not that crowded.  That was a scary 3 seconds.  (He later came up to me and apologized.)

I settled into a leg warming spin up the 2 mile climb and got a fairly decent jump into the Brush Creek single track.  I soon caught up to two single speeders, making me wish I was on my Cysco.  But alas, she was just built 2 days ago and I figured I did not need to make her first ride this race.  Patience, grasshopper!

Brush Creek, Boyd Gap, and Old Copper Road went by quickly and soon I was climbing up Bear Paw.  This is when the race got a little frustrating for me.  I was feeling pretty good now and had my climbing legs on and wanted to go, go, go!  But it seemed the guys I was with thought that this was some sort of Enduro race.  You know, lolligagging on the climbs and killing it on the descents.  I wanted to kill it on the climbs as well so I bided my time and passed when I could.

Soon I was on the climb on FS 45 and made short work of several guys.  And then I was mostly alone to rail West Fork, the Quartz Loop, Bypass, and Riverview.  After dealing with my GI issues for the past 4 weeks, I was pleasantly surprised that I had the engine that I did today.  I flew down Riverview, grabbed one last bottle from Jay at the last aid station, and then did the TT of my life back up Old Copper Road, Boyd Gap, and Brush Creek.  I had energy to burn and a time I wanted to beat, 3:15.  The climb up Boyd Gap was tougher than I had expected, but once I crested the top, it was mostly downhill from there.  With nobody to impede my speed on Brush Creek, I flew to the finish.

I rolled across in 3:18.  With the sun's help I was able to beat my shadow and I placed 21 out of about 300 racers.  The best thing about finishing was the ice cold fresh watermelon, pineapple, grapes, and cantaloupe that was right across the finish line.  REAL FOOD!  Oh my God, fruit never tasted so good!

Despite Mr. Gluten's best efforts to take me out, I ended up dragging his GMO ass all over the Cherokee National Forest.  Next time he wants to screw with me he better bring back up!