Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

I've been really stoked lately to be riding my bike as much as I have been able too. Fitness is coming back slowly, and although not a lot yet - the weight is coming off. I forgot how hard it was to train 6 days a week. It's not an issue when I don't have other outdoor activities to do. When we get a bunch of rain and the rivers and creeks start bumping up with a lot of water, or a good size snowfall comes through and the snowboarding looks good then I run into problems. For instance, the whitewater kayaking is looking real good right now.

The problem this time of year is it's creeking season. Why is it creeking season? Well, mostly because the temps are lower, and we get more rain. This allows the rivers and creeks to be at optimum or above optimum levels to run. Your saying, "that's great, get your 190 pounds in the boat and paddle then!" Just hold the phones a minute there kimosabe. First off it's cold. How cold your asking? Colder then a well diggers ass. You know how it feels when it's 38 degrees, cloudy and the wind's blowing? Now go jump in a river for 3 hours. You getting the picture? Luckily, they make these cool things called drysuits. It keeps you mostly dry, but the neck gaskets choke you out and you still feel the icy cold water when you get flipped over.

Tough to get these things on or off, and they do cut the blood supply off

Once you get all geared up and talk some of your paddling buddies (who are either a.) as stupid as you or b.) as stoked as you - it's a really fine line between them) into going with you it's usually not as bad as it sounds. I feel like getting geared up while it's cold is the hardest part. After that, you warm up as you are working your way down river. Your probably still asking yourself why it's a problem that this time of year is creeking season since the cold weather doesn't deter me much. Well, the real problem is in my head. I want to be preparing for the upcoming mountain bike race season, but I also want to progress as a paddler. Makes it tough to focus on either thing intently. So I end up playing this back and forth game in my head. All the while looking at the weather forecast and the boating beta page that measures the volume of water in all the creeks and rivers in the Southeast. Check it out:

This year, 2012, it seems like kayaking won a lot more then biking. Good news is that I became a much stronger paddler. The other side of the coin is that I gained weight, lost a lot of fitness, and didn't race at all on the bike in 2012. I'm hoping to be able to better balance out the two this year as I have goals on the bike and in the boat. Either way I figure that at least I'm outside enjoying our planet and doing something I love!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Doing Things a Little Differently This Year

Well, 2013 is just around the corner and in an effort to keep it fresh and clean I decided to switch things up. I want to race this upcoming year, but I wanted to keep things on the fun side and not get too serious about it. Don't get me wrong, I'm gonna go to work and train hard. I want to be competitive, but gone are the days of doing things in my training that I don't like to do.
First order of business was to sell the road bike. That's right, it's gone. I know, I know, training on the road helps get you strong - which is why I'll ride on the road, but on one of the mountain bikes. This way I can ride on rougher roads, sidewalks, grass, way right in the shoulder - in other words, away from cars and congested roads. I was either going to pull someone out of the car one of these days or at the very least grab the phone out of their hand and smash it on the ground. Seems I had an incident almost every time out. Since it's hard to train from jail I figured I should get myself off a road bike and away from putting my life in someone else's hands.

Now that the road bike was out of the way, I had to think about what else I wanted to change. I have always been a spinner when it came to choosing a cadence. I have a really efficient rotation of the cranks, which is great, but I have always lacked power. I wanted to get rid of my little girls's legs and build some trail crushing power. I could do a 12 week long training block geared towards building power, but that just sounds like a job and not much fun. What to do, what to do? Oh I know, me, over here, I know, me, me, over here. So what did I tell myself to do? Go ride the shit out of my single speed bike. It's gonna build power, and I have a blast riding it. Problem solved - well actually not yet, but it will be. I'm even going to try and race as many of the Winter Short Track series races in the SS class that I can make it too.

I'll get worked a little as I'll be training through the races (usually will be riding a 3 hour endurance ride the day before) and it's an open class so there will be some stronger CAT 1 guys in the race. Looking forward to it though - should be fun. A big plus is that maybe my little guy can come race his strider in the kids race and hopefully stay around to cheer me on. The course here is very spectator friendly as it's only about 4-5 minutes per lap.

Once the short track is over I've got my sights set on some of the Southern Classic races. My thought right now is to keep on keeping on with the SS bike and race the SS class in these races too.
As of the moment I'm thinking I'll race Tsali, Riverfront, Uwharrie, and then see how I feel about the rest of the summer. More about the Tsali trip later - hoping for a mini-vacation with some riding and paddling. 

 The plan right now is to ride enough to lose weight, gain some race fitness, and hopefully be competitive. I do however have other goals not involving riding. They involve a kayak, whitewater, and more adrenaline then Travis Pastrana can jam into a red bull can! More about that later, as well as an epic vacation this summer to California and Oregon where Mrs. Jonnynails and I will be riding bikes for 3 weeks. I'll update my race schedule as events unfold. Look for race reports to start rolling in the third week in January!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's that time of year

Fall has finally arrived and for me it signals the start of trail riding season! Yeah, I ride my bike all year long, but when fall gets here there is just something about it.

What about it? I'm not sure, but it triggers the desire in me to ride for fun. Just go out and do fun trail rides until I'm jelly legged. Go to hot into turns and drift the rear wheel through the leaves. Session a jump line. Maybe even build some new features behind the house? During the winter I'm usually putting in lots of miles getting ready for endurance and cross country races. On top of that I try and get some time out on the snowboard. Spring and summer bring races, high intensity training, lots of whitewater kayaking, and eventually burnout on training at some point. That's what is great about the fall. It's like a renewal for riding. I don't really need to "train". As long as I'm out riding it's all good. The weather is perfect, the trails turn into hero dirt, and I'm stoked on mountain biking all over again. I usually get up into the mountains more this time of year then any other. Which reminds me, there is a new spot in Boone, NC called Rocky Knob mountain bike park. Rocks, jumps, drops, and steep mountains. What else you want? Hitting it soon for sure.

Fall is also the time of year when the new goodies start finding there way into my garage. What kind of goodies you ask? Next year goodies that are releasing early. It's good to be in the bike industry! First up this year is a perfect bike for Fall riding. Why? Because it puts the "T" in trail riding. I'll give you a hint, it has something to do with a beer can......give up? Ok, here is a pic

Photo taken from MTBR.COM

That's right a 2013 Santa Cruz Tallboy is on the way. What made me make such a decision your asking? All you have to do is ride one and it sells itself. Super playful bike that is very snappy in the corners. I have never cornered a 29er like this bike. I'd say it corners better then a lot of 26 inch wheeled bikes. Looking forward to destroying some NC singletrack on this bad boy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

ORAMM in the house

ORAMM went off this past weekend. For those of you who don't know what ORAMM is, it stands for the Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell. Still scratching your head? Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the Eastern US at 6,683 feet. The mountain is in North Carolina smack dab in the middle of the Appalachians.

This race uses mountain bike trails and fire roads to go up the backside of the mountain. When you (or should I say "if you") finish ORAMM you will have raced for 63 miles and climbed over 11,000 feet. You also will have descended some technical western North Carolina singletrack. ORAMM includes such trails as the famous Kitsuma, as well as star gap, heart break ridge and climbs up Curtis Creek rd. The climb up Curtis Creek is miserable. It seems to go on forever (9 grueling miles) as it takes you to the Blue Ridge Parkway with 5-9% grades, which means you are grinding at a snails pace. This elevation profile is no joke!

I did not get to do ORAMM this year. I just haven't gotten the time in on the bike. I'm hoping to saddle up next year and check it off the list. If you have been reading my blog you know I signed up for the Swank 65 this November. It is my hope that in training for that race I'll "jump start" my return to racing and be able to get back in top form for 2013. I would like to congratulate my friend Bruce Stauffer for getting 6th at ORAMM this year with a time of 5 hrs 41 minutes! Nice job.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

So annoying

Every time I try and get ready to start training for a race over the past year I either A). get sick or B). break something. Over the last 12 months I've:

1. had a surgery to repair a hernia
2. hyper extended my back
3. tore a muscle in my chest
4. stomach flu
5. 3 head colds
6. 1 sinus infection
7. broke a couple ribs

I'm trying not to complain, because even with these aliments I still have it pretty good compared to a lot of folks. It just pisses me off is all. I'd really like to be riding my bike more and getting in better fitness to get back to racing. Instead it seems I'm assuming the position:

Signed up for a big race, the Swank 65, and even got a week's worth of riding in. Then my main man (my son) get's sick and of course I'm next in line. Now the whole family is sick. Feel bad enough right now that this will probably keep me off the bike a week or two?

I keep reading about my friends out at races doing very well. I'm super stoked for them and at the same time want to be out there racing with them. I guess all this stuff is suppose to make you stronger? The old proverb "that which doesn't kill you" kinda thing. I'm still waiting to see how that plays out. Meanwhile I'll just keep blowing my nose until I look like this guy:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So I went ahead and bit the bullet

That's right folks, I actually committed to racing my mountain bike again! How you ask? Well I went ahead and signed up for the Swank 65. The race isn't until November 11th, giving me plenty of preparation time. I really love being up in the NC mountains, especially in the fall.

Nevermind the evil temptress in the picture, this is a bicycle race really deep in woods of the Appalachian Mountains. Just like the temptress in the picture, the woods in this area known as Pisgah National Forest invite you in with it's singletrack. Once your committed it then delivers a "mama said knock you out" punch. I mean with 7,000 feet of climbing in 38 miles, what do you expect. Check out the famed climb up to Farlow gap at mile 20 on the elevation profile! This climb is over 3 miles of pain up an 18% grade.

What this elevation profile doesn't tell you is the extreme difficulty of the trails here. Deep stream crossings, log foot bridges, baby head rocks everywhere, boulder gardens that would make a pro downhiller cry, and steep hang on for dear life technical singletrack where at times you cannot miss a turn or your gonna fall off the mountain. It deserves, and will get all of your attention and focus.

Cove Creek foot/ride bridge (yeah it's skinny)

Farlow Gap (one of the easy sections)

more Farlow Gap (what line you taking?)

With all the technical riding here it puts me in a dilemma. Would be great to ride the longer travel bike for the descents, but the XC race rig would climb way better, and there is a ton of climbing. It would be tough lugging the longer travel bike up the climbs as it's heavier - but going down would be a blast! My guess is (actually I'm certain) that the lighter XC rig is going to be faster overall. I guess I could just get one of these and have the best of both worlds:

Yes, that is a 2013 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29er that only weighs 25 lbs and has 5 inches of travel. Crazy perfect bike for this race and for trail riding in general. What are the odds that one of these is in Jonnynails garage soon as they become available?

I'll keep the blog updated with some pics of my training rides up in Pisgah between now and race time. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finally stoked to get racing again

I've actually been riding and training a good bit lately. I decided to register for the Rivers Edge 50 miler, which is held at The Wood Run Trail System in Uwharrie National Forest on August 25th.

Check out the site here: then click the "Rivers Edge" tab

This race consists of five 10 mile laps on some fun NC singletrack. 50 miles is a chunk to bite off for my first big race back in a while, but for some reason it just didn't sound hard enough. So I decided that I'll race it on my singlespeed bike. Lucky for me they have a singlespeed class - too bad for me that most of the guys in that class have this kinda determination:

Should be fun though. I've been riding the snot outta my SS (singlespeed bike) lately and really enjoying it. I'll be on my race rocket, a Niner Air 9 carbon SS with Industry Nine wheels. The bike impresses me more and more every time I ride it. I'm always shocked at how well it gets through rough sections and rock gardens. Super stiff and holds a line like a roller coaster. Better then my old Trek Superfly 100 full suspension 29er! Stay tuned as I'll talk more on that when I do a full review on it in the very near future.

The name of my beastly bike you ask?

I like to call it Orange Crush
You draw your own conclusions as to why it got it's name

Most of you probably think I'm nuts for riding a SS bike. Your saying to yourself, why would you just want one gear when you could have a whole bunch? Truth be told I also like the geared bike, but SS'ing is fun because.....
- it's a challenge (try it and see)
-it's simple (no gears to shift - no mechanical issues regarding shifting)
-I feel like a kid again (my BMX bikes had one gear)
-I can only rely on my own power (see above-no gears to shift to make it easier)
- I feel like I'm on my moto (gotta hold momentum and pin it thru corners and tech sections)
-sense of achievment (again, it's a challenge and not for the faint of heart - or in this case the weak of legs)
- the reaction of my friends when they try and keep up with me on it (lots of cursing in my general direction)
- the look on the guys face with 27 gears as I motor by up a hill and disappear

So, I have 8 weeks to get ready for the 50 mile race. I just hope that I can stay healthy and injury free. Some of you know this has been difficult over the last 12 months. I feel like I have a chance to get a podium spot if things go right between now and then. Check back later for more updates along the way and to see my review on Orange Crush.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blah, blah, blah

I feel like I've been talking to much about getting back into race fitness and not doing enough about it this Spring/Summer. As such I'll keep this post short and to the point so I can prepare for tonight's training session at Anne Springs - it's gonna be a beast! I finally have the itch and have started scratching it by signing up for races and training. I'm going to do a couple xc (meaning shorter distances = roughly 14-18 miles) races in July - first one is next week on July 4th at Anne Springs. The series usually has really good turnouts with a lot of racers.

After a few of the shorter races I'll be looking to do the 50 miler at Uwharrie. It fits right in with my training, which is directed to get me in peak fitness for the 6 Hour Grind race in early October. I have no illusions of winning my class in the Grind as I go up against some monsters. Speaking of monsters, I'll also be doing the Pisgah Monster Cross in September.

Just like the Uwharrie race, it fits in nicely with my training plan to get ready for the Grind. The Monster Cross is 70 miles on gravel and paved roads in Brevard/Asheville with some riding along the blue ridge. Most of the studs will be on cross bikes(road bikes with skinny knobby tires), but I'll be riding my Niner Air 9 carbon mountain bike. Yeah, I'll be at a disadvantage, but the purpose is to get the time in on the bike and have fun doing it - not to challenge for the win. I think this will serve all of those purposes. In October comes the Grind - 6 hours of racing and probably 63 or so miles on technical mountain bike trails. I'm hoping for a top 5 at the Grind. It would be nice if I could scare the leaders for a while too!!!

After the Grind I'll take a week off with no riding. Following that I'll do all speed work to prepare for the Warrior Creek point to point race and then the Swank 65k in Pisgah. I'm setting a goal of podium for the Warrior Creek race and top 5 for the Swank. More on those as the time gets closer. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Worm has begun turning

So I've been very non-committal as it relates to racing my bike this season. With my bad luck over the last year I just haven't gotten my body back in shape enough to handle racing, both mentally and physically. I trained pretty hard in April, but then let things slide in May. I kept riding the bike, but didn't have any structure and certainly didn't ride hard at all. Somewhere along the way my motivation faded too.

I stuck my butt in my whitewater kayak more instead. Which is great - I love paddling and I'm gonna keep doing it quite often as long as my body allows it. Seems my lower back at my "advanced" age doesn't really like the kayaking though. Even with all the strength/core work, yoga, biking, stretching, and prescription medicine I still have to deal with moderate to advanced pain everyday. Oh well, welcome to getting old - won't stop me, might slow me down a little, but not much.

I have finally gotten the itch to get back to racing, which means back to training as well. This is great news as the training is what keeps me managing my weight. When I'm training, I'm also watching what I eat. The added exercise helps too, but I've learned that it's 80% diet. Heck, in May I decided that I wasn't going to worry about what I would eat - 8 pounds later here I am. So the long and short of my return to racing is this: I have decided to race at the Tree Shaker race in 3 weeks. It's a four hour race, and I'll probably do between 36-45 miles on my mountain bike depending on how fast I'm going. My guess is 36 miles as I'm just not gonna be in top shape in only 3 weeks from now. In this race you do as many 9 mile laps on a fairly technical course as you can in 4 hours. At least it's on a course that I ride all the time - I know every single root, rock, and line around that course. You can check out the race flyer here:

So we'll see how it goes. I don't expect to be on any podiums at this race, but I gotta start somehwere. My hope is that by the Fall this year I'll be in good shape and flying - I can worry about podium finishes then.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Getting After It

So far this year I've been riding my bikes a lot, but have been more into paddling whitewater then racing my mountain bike. I keep waiting to get the itch to race, but it just hasn't grabbed me yet. I'm training like I'm racing, just without the racing. So in the meantime I've filled my time up with paddling at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. I've said it before, it's a great place to build skills. I even bought a new boat.

Looks mean doesn't it? The model is called a Stomper - only time will tell if I'll be stomping lines in the river. It's what is classified as a creek boat, which means it's meant for big rapids, and technical lines/drops through rivers and big creeks. Hopefully in time my skills will get me to this point - big water on the Tallulah.

I have some big goals to get much better this summer. Unfortunately I didn't paddle for six months from September to April so some of the skills I gained last year have been rusty. I've been struggling with my combat roll (how you right yourself in whitewater after you get flipped upside down) this year. My flatwater roll is fine, which just means it is all mental and I'm probably rushing my set-up. You can always self rescue, which is where you pull the cord and can get out of the boat and to the surface. Not ideal situation though as now your swimming in the rapids, your boat is filling with water and along with your paddle is hauling ass down the river without you. Not a big deal at the whitewater center, but on a river can be a more dangerous situation - not to mention you can lose all your shit. So I'll be doing drills and getting a little more instruction over the next month to help get my combat roll more consistent.

Once the roll gets better "bombproofed" then it's a matter of continuing to work on peeling into and out of eddies. Again, the whitewater center is a great place for this skill. For those that don't know what an eddy is; very simply, it is the calm spots on the river that sit just outside the main current. Most are near the sides of the river bank or behind a rock or boulder. It becomes an important skill to learn how to get into and out of eddies. They give you a break, chance to catch your breathe, sometimes allow you to scout the next rapid, and offer a safe place to discuss your next move. Your saying, that's great this whole kayaking thing sounds really easy. Wrong. You have the main current in the river, which depending on how strong a class of river your running (class I thru V with Class I =easiest, Class V = most difficult) could be very strong with surging water. Then just on the other side of the current is the eddy line with a current moving in the opposite direction. If you don't use your edges right peeling into or out of the eddy then you will very quickly learn a term we like to call "window shaded". You can always get Taco'ed in the main current as well. These little things called hydraulics that recirculate water back at you and create a "hole". They are known as keepers, because they hold you in place and beat yo ass. Check 1:39 in this video for an example of being window shaded and being stuck in a hole.

So, as you are learning, it pays to keep cool, calm, and not panic in all situations on the river. This is a another skill set you need to learn as a whitewater kayaker - the mental game is possibly the biggest part of it all. It separates the good from the best and if your gonna run big, pushy, class V water then you had better have it locked down. Hell, you even need it in class III and definitively class IV as well. I believe a lot comes with practice and experience. Why we are so lucky here in Charlotte to have the Whitewater Center.

I've got a little work ahead of me over the next month as I plan on the possibility of running some big water rivers by my birthday in June. In case your wondering what the progression of rivers is in my area (western NC/Northern GA/Eastern TN) it goes a little something like this:

Lower Green River (class I/II)
Tuck (class II)
Nantahala (class II/III)
French Broad River section 9 (class II/III)
Chattooga section 3 (class II/III)
Upper Green River (class II/III/)
Nolichicky River (class III/ one long class IV)
Pigeon River (class III)
Ocoee River (class III/IV)
Wilson's Creek (class IV)
New River (class IV)
Chattooga section 4 (class IV)
Cheoah (class IV/V)
Tallulah (Class V)
Green Narrows (class V)
Gauley (class V)

This is not a complete list, but covers the majority. Lot's of people do these in their own order depending on how comfortable they are with the current set of skills each paddler has. The whitewater center basically prepares folks to start somewhere around the Pigeon. The eddies at the whitewater center are much more difficult due to the facility being man-made. The eddies become big whirlpools with very strong currents, whereas in a river the current is much calmer in the eddy. I see me spending a lot of time on the Chattooga, Nolichucky, and Pigeon with a possible trip to the Ocoee before summers end. When the cool temps and rain comes back in the fall and the rivers start running at decent levels I'll be hitting Wilson's Creek, The New, Tallulah Fest, Green Narrows and maybe the Gauley depending on how comfortable I am. 

I'll be trying my best to document some of my river experiences with you on here as I just bought a new gopro hero. Look for some point of view sickness in the coming months.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trying to get back on the horse

Haven't posted much in a few weeks. I've been all over the place - literally and mentally! Wifey and I went to Canada at the end of March for a little winter getaway and a whole lot of snowboarding. Epic trip, something I'll remember forever. Lots of powder, amazing scenery, great people, and the company wasn't bad either - lol. Here's a shot of where we stayed, downtown Banff:

Like I said, amazing scenery:

 I got to get frosty on some nice steep and deep terrain(I'm the tiny red dot):

Once we got back from Banff I got serious as a heart attack on the bike. Race season was fast approaching and I had a lot of work to do. I've been able to put the work in, but somewhere along the line I just lost my desire to go out and race a bunch. I turned to whitewater kayaking a little more lately. I've got some paddling goals this year as well as mountain bike goals. I'll go over the paddling goals in another post later.

In April, I changed jobs as well. No longer at the Trek Store, I now work at Carolina Bicycle Company in Pineville, NC. They sell Specialized, Giant, Santa Cruz, and Merckx. Was a good move for me as I'm 10 minutes from home - previously I was about 35-40 minutes from work. Stop in and check them out sometime.

Just the other day I felt like racing again finally. I decided I would go for a fairly big event as my first in more then a year. I'm going to race the Tree Shaker Endurance race in late June. It's part of the Turn and Burn Endurance race series. You can check it out here: Figured it would be a good one to get back into as it's at my local trails 5 minutes down the road. I'm going to prepare from now until then in hopes of doing well - goal as always is a podium. Race is going to shake out around 45 miles and probably slightly over 4 hours of pedaling without a break. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Monday, March 12, 2012

To Pedal or to Paddle....

Last weekend little man, Mrs. Jonnynails and I went to the Whitewater center to let little guy climb some rocks. It was also the opening weekend for water releases for the season. Got my interest peaked again to do some paddling as I was watching the kayaking going down on the rapids.

US Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC

I love going to the Whitewater Center, both to mountain bike and especially to paddle. The pic above shows the lagoon area, pumps that move the water, and the entrance to the main channel where the rapids are. There is a lot to do here: 12.5 miles of great mountain biking trails, two rock climbing walls, zip lines, adventure courses, rafting, kayaking, flat water paddling on the Catawba River, and there is even a really good restaurant that gives you a view of the whitewater - bonus, they serve all kinds of beer. Feel free to get your drink on and come heckle me while I Kayak. The center is a great place to learn kayaking skills and get in the water anytime you want to paddle. The consequences are not as bad as a real river as there are not any places you can get pinned and no undercut rocks. Just as I was getting river stoke again, we had some friends over this week. My friend is a good paddler, far better then me. He mentioned going to Tennessee this summer to run the Ocoee river. That's all I needed to hear, now I'm all about it! I can work on some skills at the Whitewater Center beforehand. Here's a little preview of the goods in the below video of the Ocoee:

Best I can tell, it looks like a giant playground with mostly Class III and an occasional Class IV rapid. I believe this video is an easier part of the river - there are some bigger rapids further down river that you can see HERE. The video quality is better as well. Pumped to go run a couple rivers this summer, including this one. Of course this all means I'll need to work on some of my paddling skills. I can do a combat roll, but it's not bombproof yet. That'll be job #1. A combat roll for those that don't know is where you right yourself after getting flipped upside down in the water. You do so while staying in your Kayak. It's a technique kinda thing and you need to take your time and set up properly - if you rush it, your gonna miss your roll and be back in the water upside down again. Your doing all of this blind, without air, and while getting thrashed around in a rapid maybe smacking rocks. There is a little bit of a panic involved, but to do the combat roll successfully and consistently you need to learn to be really calm and fight off your survival instincts that are telling you to get to the surface as quick as you can. Here's the technique of a roll:

I'm fairly comfortable in Class III water as I paddle it at the Whitewater Center, which is suppose to be harder water then an actual river due to the whirlpooling eddies that really swirl due to the man made construction. However, I can work on catching all the eddies at the Center. This helps you learn great handling skills as you peel out of eddies, ferry across rapids, and learn to use your edges. If it's harder then the real thing, then I should be able to handle the river.

Another spot I'd like to hit in the mountains is on the Tuckasgee River. This river is in western NC and has a really fun "play" spot called Eternity Hole. It's a great spot to work on tricks and playboat moves as it's nice and deep so when you mess it up your at least in more then 1 foot of water like some other spots. Video of Eternity Hole:

Of course all this paddling is good news for you folks I race mountain bikes against. I should be nice and tired, plus not on the bike as much. Fine by me if I'm not the fastest guy out there. Balance is what this summer is going to be about. Riding the all mountain bike in the mountains with the wifey, hitting the jump lines in the backyard with my homies, teaching little guy to ride a bike and swim, do some XC racing, maybe a enduro or dual slalom race, lots of kayaking, chillaxing and BBQ'ing at the crib, Camping with the Fam, and hell - maybe I'll even play some golf. Pumped for Spring/Summer like never before, it's gonna be a good year.

So my thought as I roll out of bed in the morning?

Should I pedal or paddle.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Can you eat The Whole Enchilada

Enduro racing has started gaining a lot of popularity in the last few years. What is enduro racing? That's a good question. Best I can answer is it's a mountain bike race on a mountain where you race against the clock on a specified course. The course is usually mostly downhill on singletrack with a little bit of climbing and some flat sections thrown in for good measure. Actually these climbs and flat sections just get you to the next downhill. These races fall into the "all mountain" category of riding and most people ride 5-6 inch travel suspension bikes.  Courses tend to be technical in features with rocks, roots, steep hills, gap jumps, and drops. Not as gnar as a DH course, but tons of fun.

New for 2012 Bigfoot Productions in Colorado is putting on  new series of 3 races. See it HERE. The season final in this series is in Moab, UT on a trail called The Whole Enchilada. There is a SICK video of the trail right HERE. This trail starts in an alpine forest at 11,200 feet and descends over 7,000 vertical feet all the way down to the desert and the Colorado River. It's steep, rocky, rooty, has tight switchbacks, gap jumps, slick rock, drops, and behaves this way for 26 miles! Who wouldn't want to do this race?

one of the easier parts

Unfortunately for all of us on the right coast, most of the enduro racing is on the West coast. It would be great if this type of racing gains popularity and finds it way here. I mean we have a great training ground in Pisgah for it. There is an enduro race in Demo Forest which is in Santa Cruz, CA. I've ridden/got lost there with Mrs. Jonnynails. It's the week before sea otter. Wait, that's 15 minutes from my wife's parents house -hmmmmm. Downieville Classic near Tahoe is only a few hours away from them as well. The Downieville race will be the All Mountain World Championships this year - you can read about it HERE. That one is definitively on my list!  Maybe I'll get my enduro on this year?? I'm sure the grandparents would love to see their grandson, daughter and favorite (only) son-n-law!

As usual, the U.S. is way behind Europe in cycling. Read more about US Enduro racing HERE. Oregon has a 4 race series, Cali has the two I mentioned above, Colorado and Utah have the new 3 race series, and Canada has a few in British Columbia. Best I can hope for in my area of the country are some super-d style races, which is a much shorter version of an enduro race. There is a new rumor going around that there will be a 3 race super-d series in Wilkesboro, NC at the trails in and around Scott Kerr Dam this year. Should be fun. The course there is a blast with jumps, rocks, and berms - it's just really short. Speaking of berms, who wouldn't wanna shred some on a "all mountain" bike? Here is a pic of my buddy Cecil doing just that.

photo credit Jay Schultz

That picture just makes me want to ride. It was taken at Clemson this past weekend, where Cecil got 2nd in the Pro/Expert class. Clemson is another really fun course. It's officially a DH event, but I think most DH racers will tell you it's really more of an all mountain type of course. I don't mean to take anything away from the place - super fun with some good sized table tops, a road gap jump, one of the best wall rides I've ever been on, and a fun "north shore" style stunt/drop at the end to finish off the run. The only reason I say it's more "all mountain" vs DH is that there's a lot of pedaling throughout the course (especially at the top) and it's not very steep. Clemson folks did an amazing job with what they had to work with though. Looking forward to riding there soon and maybe doing the next race they put on. Most people run it on a short travel (5-6 inches of suspension travel) but people also bring full on DH bikes and even hardtails! It's all about the fun level, and fun is something I'm wanting to get back to on a bike. Training for XC is great and all, but I find myself wanting to just go out and have fun on the bike way more. Speaking of fun and since I'm pimping my friends out on my blog today - Here's a shot I took of Action Jackson while we were riding Cove Creek, Daniel Ridge and Farlow Gap trails in pisgah. It was enduro training at it's best!

You can't see it in this shot, but the trail goes 180 degrees in the other direction and if you miss the turn you roll all the way down the mountain. So, you better make it. Fun isn't it. Do you think he made it? My simple advice to you today is to go find what kind of riding gives you the most fun, and repeat.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My favorite race series

Charlotte Sports Cycling, which is the local XC race series here in Charlotte has set their schedule for 2012. This series is one of my favorites and is better known locally as the "summer series". You get to know a lot of the local mountain bikers and it's friendly, yet really competitive racing. Neal Boyd, the owner of Charlotte Sports Cycling does a great job putting on this series and lots of other events in the area. We are lucky to have him and all that he does for the sport here in Charlotte. Thanks Neal! You can check out his events here:
This year the series is changing it's format. Anne Springs, which is probably my favorite trail in the area is being added to the schedule. This is great news for me as I live 5 minutes away and know every single root, rock, and line at that place. It's got a lot of technical sections, which I love. I've been riding it about 100 days a year for 7 years now, so I 'd say I know how to go fast there if the "motor" is cooperating that day. Knowing and doing as it turns out can be two different things completely.

Don't let the name fool you, this is no greenway. I really like this trail mostly because it has a little bit of everything trailwise. There are plenty of roots and rooty sections to pick lines thru, some rocks, creek crossings, tons of twisty tight singletrack, flowy parts, some fun short down hills, tunnels that take you under the road, and even suspension bridges that move side to side and up and down as you go over them.

This bridge has dumped lots of riders in the creek and if your bars are not super narrow your gonna scrap those posts on the way in. For Charlotte area Anne Springs has decent climbing as well. Per lap the place has 805 ft of climbing and is roughly 9 miles long. Like I said, lots to like. This picture makes the tunnel look spooky, but I assure you it's only about 50 feet long and not a big deal - it's great to be able to go back and forth under the road.

Obviously I'm really excited about the addition of Anne Springs to the race schedule. April 18th will be the first race of the series and it'll be at Anne Springs so come out to race or to cheer on the all of us who choose to suffer. I'm hoping to do well, but there are some monsters in my class and I have no idea what sort of shape I'll be in come April? Here is the rest of the schedule for the summer.

Anne Springs Close Greenway
April 18
May 30
July 11
Fisher Farm Park
May 9
June 20
August 1
North Meck Park
April 25
June 6
July 18
Reniassance Park
May 2
June 13
July 25
May 16
June 27
August 8

As you can see the summer series rotates between five different trail systems that are located in and around Charlotte. You already know how I feel about Anne Springs, but I also really like USNWC which is better known as the US National Whitewater Center. Check it out  - HERE. While you are there you can do some  whitewater kayaking. Here's a shot of me last summer tearing up M-Wave:

I use one of my friends lines here - It's bigger then it looks in the picture. That's actually a good sized class III rapid. At any rate, back to mountain biking - I'll talk a little more about whitewater this summer when it's warmer. The trails at USNWC are really fun. There is some climbing out there that separates the men from the boys. You also get to watch the rafting disasters

Tune in later this week and I'll dive deeper into the summer series schedule to include a breakdown on the other 3 courses.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hoping to Survive

That's gonna sum up my race plans for the first race of the season. Just gotta survive it. After all it's 6 hours of riding a 13 mile loop over and over. Unfortunately for me, being on the injured reserve list so much the last 9 months has resulted in a huge loss of fitness. I'm not going to let it stop me from racing, but it will lower my expectations some in an endurance race. The course for this race is super fun. It's 13 miles, has a shit ton of berms, and a few big leg crushing climbs. There is a section that is like a giant pump track that seems to go on forever, it's miles long - super flowy. I'm going to enjoy riding it multiple times. There are not many technical features to the course so he who has the most fitness wins. I suspect that the light guys will be on the podium considering the climbs. It is definitively a big field:

On top of not being in shape, I signed up to race in the SS class. There are some studs in this class. Podium for me. Pffff, yeah right. Here are the results from 2011:

PosNo.NameLapsTotal timeDiffBest timeIn lapBest speed

Class Singlespeed Male
115Tim Finkel55:31:58.0211:06:28.030510.652
2217Luke Sagur55:39:33.6437:35.6221:06:53.956210.583
38Tim Anderson55:41:43.7999:45.7781:07:52.679210.430
413Rich Dillen55:44:24.48712:26.4661:06:51.738210.589
526Kelly Klett56:02:05.74830:07.7271:12:13.09439.804
625Noel Kirila56:04:27.65932:29.6381:08:25.029210.348
719Eric Hagerty56:11:55.84139:57.8201:14:09.60129.547
833Mark Sackett56:14:22.00642:23.9851:12:06.15359.819
914Ross Dowswell56:22:01.85750:03.8361:15:34.46039.368
1034Eric Sauer56:41:56.3921:09:58.3711:15:47.33529.342
1131Joe Pelton56:42:59.8581:11:01.8371:17:19.68929.156
127Mike Albert56:47:18.3821:15:20.3611:18:01.94829.073
1324Rich Kidd45:16:53.5731 Lap1:16:30.22849.254
1416Scott George45:34:29.97717:36.4041:13:05.21829.687
15244TJ Thomas45:44:41.87427:48.3011:17:02.17239.190
1623Matt Kicklighter45:56:06.56939:12.9961:23:16.51528.502
1728Daniel Lenis45:57:36.53640:42.9631:25:09.56028.314
1843Zeke Lilly46:08:11.27151:17.6981:25:46.88228.254
1941Joel Watson46:18:39.2661:01:45.6931:31:02.83627.776
2017Tony Greiner46:41:10.4181:24:16.8451:37:25.79627.267
2118Togie Gwyn46:45:57.3881:29:03.8151:43:15.99446.856
22247Chad McKenzie46:58:30.1281:41:36.5551:44:49.61226.754
2332James Pennington34:31:32.0882 Laps1:29:06.53227.945
2421Frank Hodel34:31:55.86923.7811:28:56.15127.961
2529Jay Lundi34:33:59.5082:27.4201:25:02.10228.326
2635Corey Scheip34:58:09.78126:37.6931:37:13.77127.282
2737Zachary Slaybaugh35:13:14.37041:42.2821:43:09.04826.864
2822Craig Hoyt36:17:21.4121:45:49.3242:06:56.15225.578
2912Fred Cothren36:38:04.7872:06:32.6991:59:35.04025.921
3010Jon Carmack23:00:30.1673 Laps1:29:50.43827.881
3111Matt Carroll23:44:31.26344:01.0961:54:58.22326.158
3227Scott Lee24:14:30.0581:13:59.8912:35:01.69924.567
339Jeff Blaser11:48:06.7924 Laps--:--:--.---1-
3430Mark Mitchell0--:--:--.-----:--:--.---0-
3536Lance Shelley0--:--:--.-----:--:--.---0-
3638Guy Spiher0--:--:--.-----:--:--.---0-
3739Mike Stanley0--:--:--.-----:--:--.---0-
3842Darrell Watts0--:--:--.-----:--:--.---0-

I suspect the fast guys will do 5 or maybe 6 laps this year - last year it was super muddy so the laps were a little slower then dry lap times. That's 65-78 miles in less then 6 hours. Not me, I'm thinking I'll shoot for 4 laps at 52 miles. That would be a win for me, and maybe put me in the top 15 or so - we'll see if I can keep the leg cramps away. There are a couple climbs that are gonna hurt on lap 2, 3, and especially lap 4. There are three good length climbs and one big one called "K2". The route looks like the pic below, just without the snow.

Maybe it's not that bad, but I bet on lap 4 it's gonna feel like it though! This is where the whole power to weight ratio comes into play. On the hills it makes such a big difference. I won't give away my weight - rather have the guys I race against regularly be surprised this spring. I will tell you that I've lost 15 pounds since Thanksgiving and I'm already below my lowest weight from last season. I'm on a role and I'm gonna keep it going. By June this year I'll be flying!

These long races are all about two things. 1.) pacing yourself and 2.) keep eating. The first is harder then it sounds. It's a race so in the start it's tough to go out slow on purpose. Your instincts tell you to hunt and chase people. There are other racers doing this race as part of a team so they will be taking turns and pinning it. You don't want to try and keep up with them if your riding solo or your gonna pay for it later, maybe not finish.  As for the eating, you need to also learn how many calories and in what form those calories come in during your training rides as well. Get either of these wrong and your in trouble. Of course, I may be tempted at the end of lap 3 to get an early start on the beer. One of these is gonna sound really good after 39 miles:

Of course I could just take a really casual view of the whole race and start drinking from the beginning. This system should allow me to stay hydrated during the race.

Reminds me of a joke I heard, something along the lines of "you know your a redneck when". In the meantime I'll keep trying to log some long rides in on the SS bike.