Thursday, February 22, 2007

Riding. Cold, Not so cold.

The weather in boone can be the wierdest thing. Sunday morning I went out for a mountain bike ride in the snow. It was 17 degrees. Monday night I went snowboarding. Wednesday I went for a bike ride and it was between 40 and 50 degrees the whole time!! Nice and warm.

Sunday I was hoping to drive off the mountain and get in a hour and a half in the national forest which is much warmer than in boone. Well, I got to Blowing Rock and none of the roads had been scraped, and I didn't feel like sliding off the road into a 100 feet deep canyon. So I parked in town and settled on riding down, and then back up the steepest gravel road in North Carolina. It's called Globe Rd. Its about 5 miles long and drops roughly 2000 feet. I only descended as long as my feet could handle; its cold at 35 mph in 17 degrees! Turning around and climbing just for a mile and a half, I gained about 950 feet. The average grade climbing was 16%. The maximum was 25%. Needless to say, I just spun in my granny gear and kept the heart rate low, with an average of 139 for my short ride. Some pictures as proof that I went out:

If anyone is interested in more details, check it out here.

Moving onto the much more interesting ride... Wednesday is almost always my day off so when the local weather guy forcasted 51 degrees and sunny, the 30% chance of rain did not bother me a bit. I am trying to get in 8 hours on my bike this week, i got 6 last week (10 next week, 12 the next, restart). So I wanted a big ride. I opted to go for a similar start as my last big road ride, and added a descent into another valley, and followed it with two very incredible climbs. I changed up the beginning of the ride, per the suggestion of Megan Carmody (eat Black Cat!!) and rode out the parkway and Brownwood road to get to the railroad grade rd. Got a refill of water at the friendly Todd Mercantile:

On the way up Three Top Rd. I stopped for this view:

Then i followed a route similar to last week to get to us-421, and climbed it back into North Carolina (from Tennesee)

and descended old 421. This is a very welcome 35 mph coast for the most part, except for the great dane that was waiting half way. Following the usual route, I crossed us-321 and turned and climbed Mast Gap Rd. Crossing Mast Gap and descending into Valle Crucis I took a break and got a Diet Cheerwine (on credit, forgot my wallet!) and chatted it up with the women working. We discussed our mutual distaste for out-of-towners and the Jersey accent. Rolling down Broadstone, riding the worst road in the high country (Hwy 105) and turning onto Old Shull's Mill Rd got me to the best point on my ride: Shull's Mill Rd. It snakes up the side of a hill, all the way from Hwy 105 (elev. 2700) to us-221 and the parkway in Blowing Rock (elev. 3900). I snagged a picture of the twisty road ahead:

Reaching the top of Shull's Mill, I did the dumbest thing for the day (aside from forgetting my wallet) and turned on Flannery Fork Rd. Its an awesome dirt and gravel road that gets you quickly back to Boone, but not the best idea after snow has melted. I cruised down the pavement that follows, and got back to boone bike around 5 o clock. Just about 6 hours after I started. With a ride time of 5:30 that means I only rested 30 minutes during the day. I'm okay with that. Just a couple more pictures, my bike and my Garmin Edge showing numbers and the elevation:

For more details click here.

Well, if anyone actually reads this, I'll be amazed. Thanks, if you are reading it. More next time. Hoping for a big mountain ride sunday, maybe some good pictures.


Monday, February 12, 2007

bike riding. brr. cold. yep. mm huh.

so the final short track event in charlotte was yesterday but in lieu of my bike breaking, my legs feeling the 9 hours of riding from just a few days before, and well, general excitement about having a new road bike, i decided to stay in boone and test out the road bike and its sram shifting!!

my new road bike (still gotta pay for it though) is a 07 specialized roubaix expert with sram. its got the rival ie cheaper version, but its supposed to work as well as the force just without the fancy carbon and lighter weight. its got ksryium elite wheels. i would like to do something unique in the wheel department, i just haven't figured out what yet.

so, my route consisted of leaving boone on 321 to deerfield to the steady climb known as wilson ridge road. i turned left on bamboo and then crossed 421 to get on brookshire rd. after navigating the gravelly crossbike friendly section of brookshire i turned right on 194 then right on castleford. this was my first experience with the famous castleford rd and i liked it. nice and rolly, not too hard, but nothing like the road following it. finishing castleford let me out onto railroad grade road and that was a relief, though it was windy. oh yeah, and between 20 and 45 degrees the whole day. it may not have even made it into the 40's. dont know exactly. so railroad grade in the drops moving right along found me stopping at the store across from the floridiot owned todd general store. the lady there was a local and wasn't afraid to have her store open during the colder winter months. i stayed there way too long, but the crackers and diet coke and new supply of reeses and salted peanuts was keeping me there. we talked about possible routes to get back to boone. i was planning on using 194 to get me back into boone at 421, but i realized that would only be about a two hour ride. i wanted four hours.

remembering a ride we'd done in the summer that continued on three top rd and then some highway 88 i verifired with the nice lady, owner of the todd mercantile, that my mental map was correct and headed out on three top rd. after just a short rolly section i crested "the divide" as the lady called it, and it got much colder. i wore my fleecy windproof bib tights, matching jacket, fleecy long sleeve jersey and ridiculous almost snow-worthy cycling gloves. i was still cold on this stretch. once i reached nc-88 i felt much better as i was in and out of the shade, not consistently in it. i stopped and peed in some person's yard on 88 because there were no wooded sections to hide in. this was the scariest point on the ride. second only to descending into tennessee and facing crosswinds from hell. speaking of tennessee, the climb to the state line was only really the second or third climb to deal with. and an easy grade. thanks for 34 teeth. compact wussy. anyways, reaching 421 and turning uphill, i mean left, was the only thing left and i would be home. i marveled in mabel at the view of beech mountain, AND sugar mountain AND sugar top. and grandfather mountain. and the hawks bill down in the linville gorge. seeing things in plain view that are twenty to thirty miles away reminded me why we are so lucky to ride in the high country.

blah blah blah. i sound like a tourist. so 421 wasn't entirely uphill like i thought. i'd never been on the stretch between old 421 and the tater hill area, at one point i was in my 50-11t spinning, i imagine thats around the 40mph mark, for probably a mile. that was a relief. and then into vilas and back to the other end of my gearing. 34-26t back up to the 105 bypass, then left on 105 and left on 321 found me back at boone bike. i forgot to take my camera for pictures, but i did steal and modify a map from Google Maps:

that's all for now. i'm excited about training and getting fit and faster. hopefully i can score some top tens and maybe a top five at a SERC race this year. i'd like to be consistent enough to be forced to upgrade to expert, but if it takes another year for that, well, so be it.

thanks for reading.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

updates. me and racing. snow. sports.

alrighty, i'm back to my posting once a month if that often pattern. at the request of someone with no life, i'm putting new stuff.

i've been running a little bit. got a membership to the wellness center aka too fancy gym for the cool people in boone to hang out and for a very few people to work out at. i got a little routine for weights and some running and some work on the abs (currently in hiding). its been frigidly cold outside. yesterday was the coldest day in recent history. we have highs sometimes below 20 deg. and lows in the upper single digits or low teens. snow hasn't really made a showing like in past years, some say its el nino, some say its all the expeditions and tahoe's and escalades and hummers.... but thats debatable, oh wait, no its not. the UN just declared global warming is because of humans... oh well. i should get back to interesting stuff. umm..

things are going well between my girlfriend (darcy) and i. she got a really nice set of skis and boots and the like a few weeks ago. we've only been out together once since she got that stuff. i've gone out once since then with the mechanic from boone bike. andy is pretty much a freak of nature. he hasn't been snowboarding in five years, but he does like two runs and is flawless after that. i'm doing okay with snowboarding. its fun. i'm still not going super fast, but i can put together multiple runs from the top of sugar mountain to the bottom without falling and with a little bit of grace. darcy is better than i am still. although she won't admit it. anyways... we're going on 8 months together in a week or so. its been a very enjoyable 8 months. hopefully there will be many more.

so bicycling... steve murray told me i finished the year very high ranked in men's xc sport 19-24. i don't remember the exact number, but top 10 i think. i just checked currently i'm ranked #16 in the nation for men's sport xc 19-29. i'm listed #2 for men's sport xc 19-29 in north carolina. i guess thats good. i've done two events this year that haven't shown up yet on usacycling. short track series in charlotte, nc. did january 27th or whatever day that sunday was. 10th out of 15. raced on feb 3rd and got 8th of 10. not super duper results, but its re-assuring knowing i can post em like that without riding or training other than running and gym stuff. i want to get in some spin classes. that should help. but basically all of the people are from the charlotte area or south carolina. yep, they are training year round. i'm looking at snow on the ground.

ASU is doing a cycling study which i'm taking part in. they have been giving us a special gatorade with a supplement called beta glucan. i heard that we're the first group of humans to ever be studied with this supplement. hopefully we won't die. basically, other than drinking that stuff, we have given blood, ridden two days (so far) on the trainer at 57% and 50% of our maximum wattage. tomorrow i'll be back in for another day at 57%. it hurt really bad. but they're paying us, so thats nice.

otherwise, things are great. just working, running, riding a little, racing again this weekend. i'm trying to plan my year as well. i hope to just start doing long slow rides soon, and logging lots of base miles. my next race is probably going to be:
april 1 - tsali (SERC)
april 15 - athens, ga (SERC)
may 6 - ocoee white water center (ducktown, tn) (SERC)
may 19 - 12 hours of tsali (okay, maybe just the 6 hours)
may 27 - dauset (SERC)
june 17 - fontana dam (SERC)
june 24 - good ole columbus, ga. (SERC make-up)
july 1 - clemson, sc (SERC) (maybe)
july 15 - anniston, al (SERC finale) (maybe)
july 28 - banner elk, nc (NORBA nationals)
sept 22 - 12 hours of dauset

alrighty. i don't know what else i might do. i want to fit in a hiking trip in august. then come back and train for the 12 hour race at dauset. thanks for reading if anyone actually does. later!!