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.