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Mar. 6th, 2012

New Post!

I'm likely to move to a new location! I have just posted a quick rundown of the 3 200's I've ridden so far this year. Check them out here: http://randoreview.blogspot.com/2012/03/3-x-200k-report.html

Feb. 2nd, 2012

Rando-Racing

Happy 2012!

I feel in my bones, the desire to once again participate in some more epic rides. Last year, I tinkered with the idea of another series of brevets, keeping open the option of another 1,200k. The plan then was to ride a couple of 200's, a 300 or two and re-evaluate. Well, I did that, and concluded that I just didn't have the desire to do what was needed to prepare for another full series.

For the most part, my cycling in 2011 was lackluster. The move from Indy to Nashville threw me for a bit of a loop, and I flailed for a while before I felt comfortable with the new terrain, people and race team. Lackluster. And that pretty much sums up how well I performed as well!

The winter here in TN has been favorable this year to outdoor riding, and I feel like my form right now is quite a bit better than what I had last year at this time. The itch to do some longer rides, the mental shift that comes with that style of riding, and all things that come with Randonneuring sounds very appealing at this moment. Yes, yes - I'm still going to do my best to compete in some races as well. Contradicting styles of training, I know - but if Micah can do it (and do both VERY well), there is hope. I don't ride my bike for a paycheck, that's for sure.

First up - the Mountain Music 200k, in Alabama! Now.....where IS my camera?

Jul. 19th, 2011

The Volunteer State

Wow - has it really been this long since I've posted? Apparently so. So many changes in the last several months, with the largest being a relocation to middle Tennessee. Like any major life change, it requires a period of adjustment. After being here a few months, I'm starting to feel more at home here. I digress - time to the biking content!

Aside from the usual 'discovery' training loops in my area, which I'm pleased with the variety of terrain right out of my back door I've been participating in some group rides with the Harpeth Bike Club, Murfreesboro Bike Club and also some group rides leaving from the MOAB bike shop in Murfreesboro. I like the MOAB rides as I don't have much pressure with time in making it to the start, not to mention it's a fine group of riders.

I've done only one major club ride/organized ride - that that was the Harpeth River Ride. It's a major fundraiser for the club, and pretty much their signature event. Nissan is one of the sponsors of the event, and being such, pulled some strings and got a few of the Radio Shack/Nissan boys to show up and ride with us. They included Bjorn Selander, Ben King and the vaunted Lance Armstrong! Upon hearing these guys were confirmed to show and actually do the 100 mile ride with us, I pulled the trigger and signed up. Hell, who knows, maybe I'll get a glimpse of The Man himself? Not only that, but it's a good chance to meet more people, ride more roads, and blast out a century (100 mile ride).

After the usual pomp and circumstance, INCLUDING the national anthem (very happy about that!), we were off. The RS boys were riding up front with some Wounded Warriors, as well as some tandem bikes with visually impaired riders at the back, stoking. We were separated from them by a car keeping pace. I stayed right at the front to avoid the yo yo effect, and also to steal a glimpse of the true bad-asses. Around mile 15 or 20, the pace car split off and there was a big gap between us the the Lance gang. We drilled it pretty hard, and actually bridged the gap fairly quickly. EVERYONE wanted to get a chance to get even somewhat close to these guys - myself included, although I was more concerned with safety of the group than pulling out my phone and snapping pics. I was somewhat satisfied with actually riding within 20 meters of Lance.

Many in the lead pack, including Lance and gang, stopped at a rest stop, but I chose to keep rolling, pairing up and chatting with some other riders. It was during this time that I came across Bjorn Selander and we chatted a bit about the Giro, charity rides, and his hometown. He rode off on a nice hill like it was nothing. I collected a few riders but we all got split up while climbing Pulltight Hill rd, and I knew I would bridge up to other riders as they day progressed. The course was well marked, and I was comfortable with riding the next 50 miles or so nearly alone as that has happened more than once as the hammerheads are in front, and everyone else behind leaving me in the gray area. Still though, I'm finding that I'm with the 'hammerheads' now more often than not.

Well - around mile 55 or so, I noticed a group bridging up to me, so I slowed down to help it happen quicker. Guess what - it was the 'Shack boys! Omigod! They had about 15 or 20 other riders with them, and I pulled right into the middle of the pack, and we did a very unstructured rotation from about 4th wheel back, in double-file fashion. For a number of miles, I rode next to a very likeable guy from CTS (Carmichael Training Systems) and we chatted about all things training. Directly in front of him was Lance. I could sense that he was listening in to our conversation for some reason. The group thinned a bit on each rise, but I was NOT going to get dropped on this day - not with this opportunity in front of me.

Somewhere around mile 80, I found myself nearly bumping bars and shoulders with Lance Armstrong. He measured me up, and I finally blurted something random out of my mouth. My close friends can attest to the sometimes odd things that I may decide it's time to chat about. Nothing different here. Well, we had a very nice chat, Lance and I. It was not at all different than any chat I would have with any of my teammates and friends. It was a bit surreal, but at the same time was just spinning away the miles with another rider. This one just happened to be a 7 time Tour de France winner. We talked on a variety of topics, but what happens in the peloton, stays in the peloton. I SO wanted to get some pictures, but as I mentioned we were bar-to-bar, I'm not kidding. For about 15 miles we were inches apart. I felt as though I could trust his bike handling, though. haha With about 2 miles to go, I decided to peel off. I was battling some cramping, and had more than enough time with some of the best riders in the world to fill my memories. I was fortunate enough to come across a few photos that were taken by the seemingly endless procession of cars driving by with folks hanging out from car windows shooting with cameras and video - all trying to get just a shot of Lance. Thankfully, one of them I found had a clear shot of the two of us in the same frame.




Oct. 8th, 2010

CX, 'cross (not angry) or just plain craziness

Yeah - it's been a while since I've made a posting here!

Goodness, what a summer of racing it's been. I suppose I approached racing with the same fervor as I did with Randonneuring. I'm not sure how many road races, criteriums, and circuit races I did this year, but it was a BUNCH. I think after we got the season going in full swing, I took only a couple of weekends off.

A couple of highlights from the summer were the Tour of Elk Grove, and the Gateway cup - both being multiple race weekends. The tour d'Burg weekend was a good one as well. Most of my finishes were in the top third of the field, with some top 10's and a couple of top 5's. It was a summer of learning, and having fun. Now I know what I need to do to actually enjoy some success... that was the primary motivation for trying cyclocross racing.

I wanted to keep my fitness deeper into the year, and get it ignited a bit earlier next year - while NOT being on a trainer. I also knew that I could benefit from something that would enhance my handling skills, while helping me perform at the limit for the duration of a race.

Cyclocross...

It's a mix of road biking, off road riding and pure craziness. I'll not belabor the details - but check it out. The atmosphere of these races is much more relaxed than any road race or crit, the fans are rabid but supportive, terrain varies from impossible to wonderfully flowing. Conditions typically just suck. Heat, dust, rain, mud, sand, snow, ice combined with the necessity to have great bike handling, the willingness to suffer greatly, not to mention the agility required to dismount,remount, carry, push, shoulder and in general - carry your bike up and over barriers, up hills, thru sand, up a variety of 'run up's and whatever these sicko organizers come up with. It's actually wonderful fun!

I bought a VERY used Redline Conquest and with a lot of TLC, a few parts and suspending my ego on this old beast - I decided to give this a go.

I'll post again (sometime) on my first 4 races. I've had moderate success and a couple of really rough days. That's CX for ya.

Apr. 19th, 2010

Ceraland



pictured are Chris Toffolo, Chris Hill and myself

the CFW team had a good day at this venue, with 10 top ten finishes among 4 categories! oddly, i never felt in jeopardy in this race and spent more than my share of time pulling the pack around, for which a couple expressed their gratitude. Chris Hill was aggressive, attacking a few different times. John Lewis was racing his 2nd race of the day after a 3rd place finish in the CAT 5 race, and was racing smartly by staying out of the wind. Chris Toffolo was very strong and in great position to contend for a 4th place.

this is a great course, and i'm not sure why there wasn't a stacked field for this course that races more like a road race than a circuit/criterium.

the field was pretty ho-hum about things, with the pace being moderate throughout, but not content to let any sort of break get away. not too much to report, really other than on the last lap there was the obligatory crash just off of my right hip. i had determined that for our field, the place to be was on the outside in the run-up for the sprint, and that's just where i was, hoping to get a train going with the Chris' - but i had a few riders between me and Chris Hill - but picked them off in the sprint to get a 10th.

Apr. 10th, 2010

2010 Hillsboro Roubaix Race Report

Sorry folks! I've had more than one comment that I need to update this blog! So... here ya go.

First - I've had a couple of other races already in 2010, but am not sure if I'll throw those in here or not. My memory, ya know.. ;)

For those that are interested:

It was a great race today, with near perfect weather to boot! This was my first race with a field of 4’s, so I was a little more nervous than usual. I met up with Chris Hill before the race, and we did some warmup laps together. I think we did a couple too many laps, as when we decided to stage up, yeah – we were right at the back of the pack! I keep telling myself that I’ll not make that mistake again.. and again, and again. Fortunately (or not) Chris Toffolo was there as well, so we chatted and waited for our category to start.


The race was neutralized for a short distance, and our first hill came about .9 miles into the course. I knew that I would be able to thread myself thru some of the traffic on these first few hills. There was the usual brake jamming and accordion effect, which is always a mystery to what caused it all especially on those long straight downhill sections.


After the first hill, the leaders put the hammer down for a section. Not being anywhere near the front half of the pack yet, I knew that there could be a split in the field, so I buried myself and moved to the front of the saddle. Side note on the saddle: After Tuesday’s training ride, I decided to make an adjustment to the pitch of the saddle, and apparently I didn’t tighten it enough! When I was on the front of the saddle, it slipped, and pitched downward to about a 45 degree angle. Not good! I bridged the gap that was starting to form, and thought my day may not end so well, but after grabbing the nose of the saddle and pulling it up, I got it to a spot that was manageable.


Still picking off a rider here and there, and a few in each corner, the pace went varied from frenetic to manageable. The narrow county roads coupled with the ‘yellow line’ rule made for some tight quarters at times.


Each of the two laps was just under 29 miles for a total distance of about 57.6 miles. The last 2.5 miles had the biggest hill (158 feet of gain), a fast downhill onto some patchy pavement over bricks. The pavement then gave way to the brick streets with one last pitch up before making our way to the start/finish. The first section of this climb was designated as the feed zone and we were told to neutralize thru this section in the first lap. From what I witnessed, around half of the racers observed this rule and just hammered up the hill. I personally was grateful for this chance to recover, as I was spent with working to gain as much real estate as I could before the hill. About 2 miles before the climb, the group really got the speed up, and strung the pack out – it was just before this, that I saw the Chris’ and checked in with both. The climb separated us and I never saw either the rest of the day.


After the climb and brick section, the group had a major split, and was long gone by the time I made the first turn past the start finish. Riders were strung out all over, and I collected as many as I could that would work and we formed a rotating paceline and began to reel in riders and small groups. Ultimately, our small group of 5 grew to as many as 20, with many coming and going, making no effort to work with us.


The legs then were threatening to cramp around mile 40. Thankfully they never went into full lockdown, but it was very close. I wonder if the saddle position had anything to do with this? Overall, I felt pretty good, doing more than my share of work to keep this paceline together in the head and crosswinds that kept getting stronger and stronger thru the ride. I was really happy that after the race, a few of the riders that were in that group made a point to thank me for keeping it together and offering pointers to those that didn’t appear to have much experience with doing a rotating paceline.


The run-up to the last climb was just like the first lap. We shed most of the riders we picked up and really picked up the pace leading up to the hill. We were left with about 8 that charged up the hill, leaving me in the dust as the cramps were really kicking in. I limped home for a 55th place finish – I believe there were 110 that started the race. A great day, and just a bit more racing experience for this Racing Randonneur.

Oct. 5th, 2009

Randonneuring, Racing and Runnin - 2009

Coming soon, the long awaited recap of the 2009 cycling season. Mark your calendars for.. uh... whatever date you want - then check back and see if I've done my part. :)

Jul. 6th, 2009

Gold Rush 1,200

Now is the time I try to assemble all of the thoughts, feelings, events, things I saw, heard and experienced in a 1,200km (750 miles, approximately) into an understandable, interesting entry here.  Quite a tall order, but I'll do my best.

Like usual, this ride had The Freak, and The Mad Scramble, but on a scale much higher than normal.  Instead of needing to prepare for a 400 or 600km ride in Tennessee or Kentucky, I was preparing for a 1,200km ride in California.  TWELVE HUNDRED??  Twice as far as I had ridden in my training rides, and just 300km short of the entire series required to qualify to ride in this event. Oddly, it wasn't the distance that had me worried, it was the fatigue!  I had never ridden straight thru the night, and even in the 600km rides, I got plenty of sleep.  I knew for this ride that both of those circumstances would need to change.

There were many people that chipped in to help me achieve this goal, and I appreciate the generosity and willingness to help very much.  Maybe they were as interested as I to see if I could pull it off?  haha 

I'll not bore with all of the prep work in tearing the bike down for shipping, flight arrangements, etc.  If you want to know any of the logistical details - ask.  Otherwise we'll fast forward to Davis Califorina; the most bicycle friendly town in America.  No kidding!  In the space of 4 blocks was 3 bike shops.  All retail establishments had bike racks with attached cables, and the motorists were VERY friendly towards bikers, which were plentiful at all hours.

I arrived in Davis, in the late morning of Sunday, the 6th with plenty of time to get the bike ready and spend some time relaxing.  Some riders were already there, and more filtered in as the day progressed.  I could feel the nervous anticipation building, and probably looked like a kid getting ready to play in the championship game.  I went to dinner with Steve Rice, Steve Royse and Dave King - all from Louisville and instrumental in encouraging me to give this randonneuring thing a try.  Also there was Isabella, whom was to use this ride as a RAAM (Race Across America) qualifier.

The next day was more of the same, in sweating out details, and trying to kill time before picking up our packets, getting our bikes (and ourselves) inspected for safety gear, and leaving our drop bags that would be taken to three of the checkpoints farther along the route.  In the drop bags were change of riding clothes, cold weather gear, food, means to charge electronic gizmos, etc. In my haste, I got confused as to which bag was which, and switched my first and last bags, which caused some grief, but nothing too bad.

Here is Steve and I, riding up to the bike inspection, held at the start of the route which was just a couple of miles from the hotel. Since we still had three or four hours to kill, I was still in my street clothes.





There were a recumbent or two, a few tandems, and even 3 fixed gear bikes on this brevet.






Here we are: Dave King, Steve Rice, me and Steve Royse.  Trying to get everyone together for a quick photo was not the easiest of propositions.




Riders beginning to assemble just a few minutes before the 6:00 PM start time.  The organizers chose to start the ride in the evening to protect the riders from the mid-day heat of the central valley.  The previous week, temperatures were over 100 Farenheit - so I'm fully on board with a night start!

There were about 88 riders for the 1,200, and another 17 that were doing a 1,000km plus another 200km.  Same distance, I know - but there is a certain Randonneurs USA (RUSA) award that requres a 1,000km ride. 



Just minutes before the ride and Dave continues to fuel.  What is that Dave, a hard boiled egg?  I'll remember not to draft you.



Steve Phillips (in orange).  We had shared the roads of Tennessee during the TN series, and he ultimately would become my riding partner for the last 130 or so miles.



Jeff Bauer and Mary Crawley behind him.  More riders I see down in TN, and on this brevet, they will ride on tandem together.



Finally underway!  You can see the scenery behind Dave King - dry, parched, and flat.  This ride has plenty of hills, and they're all packed into the middle segment of the ride.  We would have the dry heat of the central valley, beauty of the Feather River Canyon, as well as the high desert on the east side of the Sierra's.

The actual route can be viewed here:  http://davisbikeclub.org/goldrush/grrmap.htm

It's best viewed in 'terrain mode' - after opening the map, go to the upper right hand corner and change to G. terrain.



Another Tennessee rider - Peter Lee. Peter and I have similar riding styles, and I really expected to spend some time with him.  As is often the case, when the ride starts it all sorts itself out.



Steve Phillips again.  We had a great finish together.



Jeff Bauer and Mary Crawley.



The first 100 miles had the controls (checkpoints) - two of which were 'secret' controls, to make sure that were were on course and not taking short cuts!  The pace was brisk and we had a light tailwind, which is always nice.



The sun is setting now, and I was wishing I had started with all of my lights and reflective gear on and ready.  I had to stop to put it on - and wouldn't you know it - me and another rider stopped adjacent to two rice fields.  Within seconds of stopping, I had 20-30 mosiquitoes all over my legs! 



You can see the full moon rising behind us.  Later in the night, it would be bright enough to navigate by as I rode thru the Feather River Canyon.





Steve, Dave and I made it to the first 'scheduled' control in Oroville together, which was situated at mile 101 and  I was hopeful that we would be able to ride together thru the night.  This control had plenty of food, including fresh raspberries, and they were making smoothies! 

Here are some riders in queue to have their brevet card signed and stamped, which proves they were on course, and on time.



Plenty of food at the Oroville control.



After spending 30 minutes at that control, relaxing and eating a bit, we left Oroville. Steve, Dave and I made our way out of town and then began a long climb out of the central valley, and up into the Feather River Canyon.  It quickly became apparent that the three of us were wanting to climb at different rates, which is not unusual.  I split off from the group and continued upward at my own pace, thinking I would see them at the next control, which was Tobin Resort at mile 143. 

On the way up into the canyon, there were three tunnels that I had the pleasure to ride thru.






I arrived at Tobin, which was directly adjacent to what very well may be the smallest Post Office in the world. 



I arrived at this control at the same time that Jeff Bauer and Mary Crowley did.  Perhaps we even rode together to the control?  I can't recall.  It was 3:38 AM when we arrived, and I stayed for a half hour there, eating a little bit of everything.  Jeff and Mary left a few minutes before me.  I was disappointed that I didn't see Dave and Steve before I left this control.  I believe Dave arrived a minute or two after I pulled out.





The next control was in Taylorsville, at mile 182.  For most of the climb from Tobin to Taylorsville, I was riding alone, bridging up to a rider here and there, but not matching up well with our efforts on the hills, it was easier for me to ride solo at the time. I was getting chilly about the time the sun started to come up, but I did have on arm warmers and my vest.  I still had my leg warmers to put on, but my legs didn't feel too cold at all, so I continued with the climb. There was nearly a full moon during the ride through the canyon, and for a few minutes, I turned off my headlamp and headlight, and cruised by moonlight.  It was eerily calm to ride in the cocoon of darkness.  I didn't do it for too long, as the logging trucks weren't the most pleasant to deal with, and I'm always on the lookout for critters trying to use the same space of road as I.

Here you can see a cyclist up ahead of me as I'm bridging up to them. 



There was a nice descent into Taylorsville, for the control at mile 182, but I sure was chilled!  Little did I know that the cold I had just experienced would pale by comparison to what was to come.





The Taylorsville control, where I had my first access to a bag drop.  Here I feasted on pancakes, bacon, juice and oatmeal. Thankfully, there was a real bathroom inside, and I didn't have to opt for the porta pottie. There was a shortage of parking spots available, so I just leaned my bike up against this juniper bush.












I stayed at Taylorsville for an hour, eating and chatting with some of the other riders. There was a steady stream of riders coming and going at this point.  At 9:30 I decided it was time to shove off and head to Susanville.  There was a water stop about 30 miles ahead, after some more climbing.  It was near this point that we would hit the 'Top' of the Gold Rush route, meaning we would see ho higher elevation. 






I was getting pretty close to the water stop, and you can see Antelope Lake on my GPS unit in the picture below.  This was not an official control, and they had little to offer in the way of food..  It's a WATER stop, you know?  Later in the ride, the airstream camper would become my haven.









In celebration of hitting the "Top of the Gold Rush Randonee"









I did meet up with a couple of riders along this way, and we rode together for 20 or 30 miles. Ultimately, we split off to ride our own pace, as I was eager to make my way to Susanville for a shower, some good food and maybe a quick nap, my first opportunity to sleep so far. The Susanville control is at mile 248.  My plan called for a quick nap here, and then to push on to Adin at mile 316 for more meaningful sleep.

At Susanville, I ate well, got a shower and changed clothes.  This was our 2nd bag drop location.  I didn't realize the strategic error in planning my cold weather clothing until later in the ride. The wool sweater I had brought for the cold was left in Taylorsville. I even took some time to wash out and dry the clothes I was wearing since the start of the ride.  I had a feeling I would want to change again when I came thru a second time. I laid my clothes outside on the sidewalk where they dried quickly in the dry air.



Before leaving Susanville at 6:10, Dave King came in and was getting ready for a nap.  He didn't look so good, and said he was struggling.  I implored him to not sleep long and 'just make it to Adin, Dave..  just make it to Adin' Immediatly after leaving, I hooked up with a couple of other riders, but it quickly became apparent that I wanted to ride at a quicker pace, so we bid farewell and I struck out on my own alone..  again. haha 

There are a few tasty climbs just a few miles outside of Susanville, one of which is to Antelope Summit. 





As the sun began to set on on Tuesday evening, I teamed up with Ian Shopland, the youngest rider in the GRR.  We made pleasant conversation and enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we wound around Eagle Lake, working our way to the "Grasshopper" water stop - or what I called the 'Noodle Stop'.

Even as remote as this water stop was, they still had plenty of food, drink and other necessities for us riders.  That was the case really for all of the controls and water stops.  Probably the least appointed stop would have been the water stop at Antelope Lake.





After some Cup 'O Soup (chicken), chocolate milk and chips at the Grasshopper water stop, I teamed up with John Evans, an Aussie living in the UK - the 3rd fixed gear rider.  John and I enjoyed the rolling terrain and easy pedaling down into Adin. The conversation was good, and John and I rode at a comfortable pace.  I think in this stretch, we saw two - maybe three vehicles.  From Susanville to Adin was truly remote, with nothing but sagebrush and scrubs. 

I was still on board with my very loose 'plan' of getting a quick nap in Susanville, and then getting more meaningful sleep in Adin. Yeah - well the best laid plans......... right?

John and I rolled into Adin just after midnight, and after getting the bike ready for immediate action after some sleep, I went inside and ate a big plate of pasta, some fruit and just about whatever I could get my hands on. It was now time for some MEANINGFUL sleep.




Just a couple of problems... see that linoluem floor?  Yeah, well THAT was to be my bed.  All of the cots, mats and any sort of soft surface was occupied with riders.  Not to mention that the partitions you see to the left in the below picture, created a barrier to shield the view of the sleeping riders.  Well - out of sight - out of mind.  We later called those partitions the 'screen of silence' - as we envisioned that those on the "awake" side of the partitions, must believe that it's totally silent on the other side..  after all - - -  there is the screen!  I had planned on 3 and a half hours of sleep at this stop.  I think I got ONE. When my phone alarm went off I struggled to get up, and noticed Steve Phillips, who arrived well before me, was STILL sleeping like a baby!  Something he and I would joke about later in the day.  I'll not forget, sitting and eating some more pasta before leaving - seeing Steve wake up and amble across the room to the bathroom.  I could tell that he got some great sleep, and I was jealous!  hahaha  It was at this time that my stomach first started to feel sour.



4:30 AM.  I departed Adin to head to Alturas, a little over 40 miles away.  The terrain had a few climbs, but nothing major that I can recall.



the Alturas conrol.  Arrival time here; 7:35 AM





This control was making some food to order as well.  I can't recall specifically what they were making here, but food was never an issue.  My stomach continued to feel all sour, but I was still eating well, and getting enough hydration.



I bumped into Rob at the Alturas control and we agreed to ride together. I was more than happy to ride with him, so we signed the pact and departed around 8:20, to make our way to the turnaround in Davis Creek.










the Davis Creek control.  Not much here, but still plenty of food for a hungry rider.  Rob left a few minutes ahead of me, as I told him that I would catch up on the flats back to Alturas.



After a quick stop back at Alturas, we left to make our way back to Adin, and ultimately Susanville. It was along this way that we picked up Paul Rozelle from Utah - the last fixed gear rider for me to marvel. Rob finally had a fixie friend to chat over the virtues of riding in such a pure method.  I pedaled easily behind them for a number of miles, chuckling. I have to admit, though.  I'm now fixie-curious.





Back through the Adin control where I would curse the linoleum and the screen of silence.  My body was beginning to protest in its need for sleep, and rewarded my efforts with a very sour stomach.  The nausea was never so bad that wanted to vomit, but it was just enough to chip away at my morale and will.

It was getting later in the afternoon, and the accumulated fatigue and sleep deprivation was starting to add up. I had only about 2 and a half hours of sleep at this point - and not quality sleep at that!  My biggest fear going into this ride was in how my mind and body would respond to the fatigue.  A sour stomach seemed to be the worst of it.

About 20 miles or so from Susanville, I began not to trust my vision so much.  Up the road I *thought* I could see something in the road ahead, so I pulled out my camera to snap a photo of whatever was (or wasn't) there. It turns out that my eyes weren't fooling me, it was a bale of straw that had been smashed by a vehicle.



I began to worry that the cots in Susanville would all be occupied when I arrived (my worst nightmare at this point), so I decided to ride a bit more aggressively, passing as many riders as I could before Susanville.  My stomach really felt nasty at this point, but wasn't hindering my eating too much.

Some purposeful riding yielded good results for me.  I bridged up to and passed at least 6-8 riders - all of them imaginary contestants for that last cot.  hahaha 

When I arrived at 8:30 PM - most of the cots were available!  haha  I got a good meal of lasagna, fruit, and whatever else was palatable. A shower and change of clothes (glad I did laundry the 1st time thru) had me feeling 'OK' for the lack of sleep and miles under my belt - now 512.

I did sleep a couple of hours here, but it was fitful.  I went to sleep warm, but woke up a number of times being quite cold.  Finally, I got up and stumbled around to find a blanket available, and also unfurled my space blanket from the bike and tried to get back to sleep.  I had left a wake up call for 2:30 AM, as that is when Rob and Paul thought it would be ideal to begin the nasty Janesville Grade climb. 



We left the Susanville control at just past 3:00 AM.  My stomach wasn't so bad at this point, but was still bothersome.











The climb itself wasn't so bad. There were long stretches of 10 and 11% gradient, with pitches as high s 20%.  I settled into a low gear and just ground it out, enjoying the morning twilight over Susanville as I climbed.  It was one of those magical moments of a ride.

Actually, the climb wasn't the problem, it was the descent!!  I got so chilled from being depleted and fatigued, that I began to shiver uncontrollably.  It was so bad, I went into survival mode and slowed my descent speed to no more than 10mph.  My teeth chattered an interesting rhythm, and I imagined a latin rhythm being played on a clave` to try to occupy my mind from the numbing cold.

Finally I made my way to the Boulder Creek water stop, where this other pitiful rider was suffering.  The workers took pity on us and fed us some noodles and let us sit in the Airstream for a bit.




On the way to Taylorsville, I began to warm up - and even managed half a smile.




Leaving Taylorsville, I hooked up with Steve Phillips to begin the ride thru Tobin Resort and into Oroville.  The Feather River Canyon was beautiful and I'm glad I got to see it in the daylight this time. 


















After a fairly quick stop in Tobin - we filled some tube socks with ice to drape over our neck.  What irony!  Earlier in the morning, I was freezing to death, and now we were preparing for the blast furnace of the central valley  - with temps on the road near 100.



After stopping in Oroville, we left at 6:00 PM and realized we had a very real chance of a sub 80 hour 1,200!  Here we are at a 'receipt control' where we had to get a cash register reciept to prove we were on course.



The 'secret control' to again, ensure we did not deviate from the course.  It was here that we did some math and figured we had a very comfortable time cushion to beat 80 hours. Once we got back on the road, we did another calculation an determined that with some effort, we could come in under 79:00 - so some spirited riding was done.


Our official finishing time was 78:57, three minutes to spare!!  Hooray!

On the left is Dan Shadoan, the organizer of the Gold Rush 1,200.  This event was very well managed, and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to ride a 1,200.  Hell, what do I know - it was my first!  I do know that the volunteers were top-notch and there was plenty of food, and the bag drops made the logistics even easier.  I look forward to riding in this one again.

Jun. 24th, 2009

The FREAK......

Defined in an earlier post is the Mad Scramble, which is characterized by the frantic rushing around in an attempt to get all of the last minute ride details worked out. What/how much food to take - clothing options in cooler weather - maps - electronic gizmos all charged and ready - bike maintenance and on and on the list goes.

The FREAK is defined by the thoughts and feelings all jumbled together into a big ball of ..... stuff... in the middle of my gut. Fear, doubt, uncertainty, hypothesizing, catastrophizing, anticipation, excitement and a host of a great many other feelings and thoughts all stirring around like some alien about to burst from my stomach.

I was riding with some friends over the weekend, and one asked me what I was doing in preparation for the Gold Rush 1,200 in a couple of weeks. My response? "Well, Jonas - I wake up and start freaking out, and pretty much freak out all day until I go to sleep." He got a good laugh out of that rather honest reply. hahaha I suppose when (if) I complete this, my first 1,200km brevet and hopefully others, the idea of a 1,200 will not strike fear into every fibre of my being. It reminds me of how I felt before my first brevet - the KY 200k. I think I took every tool and spare part I had available, and enough food for an army to march 100 miles. Even though a 200k is not to be overlooked, I don't suffer from the anxiety that I do before a 'new' event.

Even with all the unnecessary waste of energy in running my mind in circles, I have recently accomplished a great many things to get ready for this trip. The flight is booked. A hotel for the night before (and after) the ride has been reserved. Jimbo has loaned me his hard case in which to ship the bike to a local bike shop. The shop has been alerted and will prep the bike for riding when it arrives. Actual shipping arrangements have been made for the bike. I'm now starting to reread some of the ride reports from previous Gold Rush riders, and outlining a plan of attack on what to put in each drop bag that will be taken to controls in Taylorsville, Susanville and Adin. - - - - Still to come is my actual riding strategy.

Stay tuned for more!

Jun. 8th, 2009

Kentucky 600km Brevet

Hooray!

With the completion of the challenging Kentucky 600k brevet, I have managed to finish two full series' - the Kentucky and Tennessee series. Not a goal I had set last winter, but one that materialized in mid spring. The back-to-back 600's (neither of which were any sort of 'gimmie' ) were the most challenging part of this mindless stunt.

Yeah, yeah - I know...  Hey Steve, when are you going to update the blog from the last 600?  Well, I suppose that time has finally come.  Of course, my mind being the sieve that it is - most of the details have escaped me.

To preface:

The weekend prior, I completed the TN 600, which was quite challenging, and I had no idea how my body was going to respond to the request to push out another 600.  I'm sure the repeat 1,200 finishers are mumbling to me to just suck it up and ride... Okay - I did that.

Sleep was a precious commodity going into this ride.  The Wednesday and Thursday night before this ride, I definitely didn't get as much sleep as I wanted to. Friday night was no different - but some strong coffee at 3:00 AM help to cure that problem. I also broke with tradition of eating at the Waffle House, and opted to make some oatmeal the night before and have ready to heat up. 

The bike was all ready, I was as ready as I was going to get. 

16 riders were in queue to hammer out this brevet.  Among them were Randonneurs extraordinaire Jeff Bauer, Alex Meade, Todd Williams and Steve Rice, the KY RBA.

I had no intention of hammering out this ride, and wanted to spend some miles with Dave King, Mike Kamenish, Steve Rice and Perry Finley - riders from KY that were all instrumental in my involvement in long distance cycling.  Yeah - they're to blame!  haha  The first 400k are a repeat of the KY 400k, and the last 200k would be a new route for me; and a very challenging route at that.

Dave King, early in the ride:



Aww look - Steve's actually waving!




Everyone wants to be a comedian!




Our small pack passed Todd, Alex, and George Hiscox (whom was on his 3rd 600 in a row) as we entered Elliston, KY.  One of the riders had a flat and they stopped to repair it.  Not many miles up the road, Todd and Alex passed us..  with PURPOSE!  They were intent on making up lost time.  There was no doubt that they were going to ride straight thru the night, as did a few others.

I noticed that George wasn't tagging along with Todd and Alex, and figured I would spot him in our pack at some point.  George typically likes to latch on to the wheel of the fastest guys in the group and hold on for dear life. I suspected his legs were tired.

Dave King, Steve Rice and Chris Quirey below.  Steve is on the phone trying to figure out the whereabouts of George..  George?  Where ARE you???



On the return leg of the first 400.  This looks like a happy bunch, huh?



The first 400 came to a close without incident.  I belive I rolled in around 10:30 - with plenty of time to get some much needed food and sleep.  A shower, some Mexican food, a bit of stretching and I was ready to get the bike ready for the last 200k after a few hours of sleep.  There was a bit of confusion on the start time, I think, as some of us were ready to go at 6:30, and others had planned on a 7:00 departure.

My roomies, Dave and Steve took off pretty early.  I remember waking up as they were wheeling their bikes out to get a start in the early morning darkness - to beat the heat. I rolled back over and fell asleep again.  haha I was content with sticking with my group to the end.

Oh - not included in the 'official' starters was Perry Finley. Perry - ever the wild man, just wanted to bust out a 600...  And maybe pad his club miles? As we roll out for the last 200k, I ask Perry if he felt like hammering this out..  his response is captured below.. I think that look says it all.



Approaching a train trestle.



The obligatory iron bridge:



The Licking (I think) river on the 2nd day.



As Perry, Chris and I eased along on Sunday morning - we where hoping that Mike would catch up with us, but we wouldn't see him until the turnaround for the last 200k.  We did meet up with Alex and Todd as they were about 10 miles from the finish...  which they did in just over 27 hours.  Later on, we met Jeff Bauer, who was about 30 miles from the finish.  That was an eye-opening chat we had with him.  Two sentences resonated with Perry and I  - especially considering the source.  (RAAM finisher on FIXED GEAR, multiple 1,200's, etc)

1. "Up ahead, just a few miles.. is a WALL that you just won't believe"
2. "Try to stay hydrated.. it's going to get hot..  and the course ahead - it's, uh..........  pretty hilly!" 

Yeah, great.  And this is coming from a guy that lives in Tennessee, not some flatland area.

He was right on both accounts!  The "wall" he mentioned was a tasty hill that reminded me of a very long Robb Hill at home - but steeper.  This particular hill registered 19% grade at one point. I'm not sure Perry was appreciating my play by play going up the hill, keeping him posted on the steepness of it.  hahaha  Perry's a good sport to put up with me for 600k.  Right? 

The last 200 WAS both hot and hilly.  We took extra care to stay hydrated, by taking plenty of breaks to get ice and water. The hills were pretty much non-stop, including Devil's Backbone and other really neatly named hills.

Oddly, my legs felt better on Sunday than they did on Saturday.  I'm not so sure what that's all about, but I needed all the mojo I had available to climb up hill after hill after hill. It was like getting pecked to death by a duck!

Sadly - I don't have a rundown on all the neat things I noticed on this ride.  My focus is already locked squarely on the Gold Rush 1,200km brevet in July. 

This was a great ride.  My favorite section is still Old Carlisle Road, but that last 200k was a beautiful, and very challenging section.  We did see some deer, plenty of buzzards, turkeys and one stretch of road had more dogs than I can ever remember encountering.  OH!  I did have a fat Jack Russel Terrier chase me down and actually get his mouth on the heel of my shoe.  I was laughing so hard I thought I would crash! 

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