Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Saturday, Team Ed began its 2009 campaign of the NUE hundred-mile mountain bike race series in what is as local as it gets for this series with the race being held at the Ocoee Whitewater Center. For those that don't know, the big single loop (which is the best format ever because it really makes you commit to the full distance) starts with a run up the highway, then Brush Creek, down Boyd Gap, Old Copper Rd back to the WWC, up Bear Paw, Riverview, then this crazy gravel/dirt road extravaganza that takes you into Georgia for awhile or a long while, up to near the top of the Cohutta mountains, back into TN, in from the backside (the best way) to the WWC trails, up West Fork, Quartz loop, Bypass, Chestnut Mtn., back over and down Thunder Rock, up the highway to finish-WHEW indeed.

The week before started well enough for me and Ed, he was still riding some, bike was in great shape, I chose to put a bunch of new parts on (usually a bad idea right before a big event) new fancy, stupid-light wheels which required new tires (of course) and going tubeless for the first time. New chain, chainring and cog (it was time), new BB (it was way past time) and I chose to not really ride feeling like rest was important. As the weekend got closer I started thinking about accommodations because you basically had to be there the night before anyway to pick up race packets and thought camping-would have to get there early Friday cause Thunder Rock would fill up fast or cabin or Ocoee Inn. Luckily I found Stephen on knoxvillecycling message board and his plan was to attend Cohutta and get there early on Friday. He called and said it would be no problem to have myself and if anyone else showed up hang out at his campsite. This was good as everything seemed to be falling into place for a good day-lighter, blingier bike, needed rest (still waiting to get busy at work), lodging, and most important the weather was looking perfect-no rain, maybe gonna be hot by the afternoon but after this winter and riding at temps below 20 more than once, heat is a good thing!

Left work early Friday and got to the campground, met Stephen, watched an installment of the Redneck Summer Games- ropeless rock climbing, and the best event "how big of a fire can we build that escapes the fire ring an threatens to scorch the whole campground" impressive stuff and luckily no lives were lost. Daughter of ED and DHolmes showed next and were happy to find us and have a place to pitch a tent. Ed got there a little after 9 and is always perfectly happy to sleep in the back of the Element.

Did some reading, trying to relax, slept good.

More later.............

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Winner, winner chicken dinner!!

As mentioned the other day, Ed texted "I won!" and finally at work on Monday we got to hear the rest of the story AND see the hardware. In classic Ed fashion it rained 3 inches the day before the race-think last year-but it sounded like the trails were good except for some mud holes here and there. Fun, fast flowing singletrack without any major big climbs made for a fast course said Ed-its so hard not to go all Dr. Seuss-and by doing 6 laps over the 9 something mile course faster than all of the other 50+ guys he got to bring home this:

Good stuff for sure, hell Ed's time would have been good for 3rd in the 19-29 class! Sounds like a quality event with good organization and post-ride meal included with entry fee. D. Holmes went with Ed and looks to have had a great ride as well finishing 4th and of course going up against the fastest of the fast.

BTW the trophy needed some modifications expertly handled by Harkleroadster to make it more personal:

Oh yeah, Cohutta is just around the corner. Looks like Ed is firing on all cylinders for sure and is going to kick some serious boot-tay!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tale of the Dragon's Tale Part 3

Up the singletrack climb for a second time, actually felt better than the first which is probably due to the fact of having seen it already and knowing what to expect. Left on the top of the ridge this time and I'm thinkin okay, ridge top goodness that may be tech but maybe some "free" miles of twisty, flowy trail. Not exactly. The trail was super fun but pretty rocky and definitely up and down. It was amazing how high off of the valley floor the trail was and that it follow the top of a ridge and still had that much climbing. Every now and then the trail would drop a little then go right back up without many switchbacks. On and off the bike but the sun was out and just kept moving at a quick pace. It was refreshing in a way to not know a trail, not have a watch on, and not have a bike computer-no real sense of mileage, time-just ride hard until this thing was over. Finally passed the EMT-type guy who we had been told at the start was the only person on the ridge section we would see because there was only one way off the ridge (about halfway) and that he would have a phone. Smiled, waved kept truckin and for the first time started to think about the water situation. I was traveling light with one bottle and for the distance of the race and two rest stops, one seemed to be the way to go-plus I don't drink alot. However this trail was proving to be relatively slow going and I wondered if I was going to screw myself. Also, it was becoming clear that the little ups were not the "soul crushers" for sure and that there was still some riding to do. Rolled along, finally crossed a power line cut that was in the photos we saw pre-race and then started to descend a decent amount. Looked ahead across a saddle in the ridge and saw the first of the "soul crushers". I had actually tagged on with a guy that I had seen with flats earlier and he had caught me and we were doing the leapfrog thing. Walking steady up, calves were beginning to protest, water almost gone this is truly an epic course so far and there was still probably 10 miles left. Along the ridge, another big walk and just when I was about to really start cursing the arrows pointed left and that meant DOWN!! Finally some real downhill and just like earlier the downhill was super fast not technical and crazy narrow! Down, down and finally rest stop #2.

Drank water, ate fig newtons, ate pringles and was glad to just stop for a minute. As one of the fine folks at the rest stop was checking numbers I heard "we have only had 16 through" and with two others standing there with me I thought I must be on a good pace still. Someone also mentioned it was 2:30 and I quickly realized that I had just done the hardest 32 miles ever, and still had 8 to go. Back on the bike and immediately the singletrack went up and if fresh would have been a great climb-smooth, not crazy steep but at this point walking was the option for alot of it. Got on top of another ridge and the trail was like the other ridgetop-rocky, up and down just not as long. Downhill came pretty quick and was an awesome dirt ribbon with tighter switchbacks than the King and dropped down into this little valley and followed a creek for awhile. Up one more time, then down and the trail started to open up, get really smooth and fast then finally dumped out onto gravel and I knew the end was coming soon. Gravel turned to pavement and rolled around to the backside of New Castle. I pedaled my ass off because I still could and I was close to the finish. Rolled in with a total time of 5 hours and 16 minutes for 13th place so I was very happy. I stood in my riding clothes for many minutes and opened a beer and realized that was the hardest race I've ever done. The course was brutal with no free miles and you had better know how to ride or you could get seriously injured. I called Sweet Mama next to let her know that I was alive and then I really started thinking about Larry. He had definitely crossed my mind several time during the day and I was just hoping that he was enjoying the trail. I knew he would be fine because he can ride the hell out of a mountain bike and has seen and ridden every type of trail, I was just hoping he wasn't cussing me because of how long this thing really was taking. I also thought of Ed and that I was really glad he didn't come because this was not his favorite type of trail for sure. He could have done it but he probably wouldn't have enjoyed himself. About the time I was sort of feeling normal again a car pulled up and Larry and some others got out. I was glad to see him and see that he wasn't hurt and began telling me about just having hydration issues and generally a bad feeling, luckily enough where the EMT guy was which gave him an opportunity to get off the ridge. It sounded like this alternate trail-the Turkey trail-has been used in previous versions of this race and that it ended up being a super fun downhill, like the others, that took him down to the road that we had started on. There he hooked up with some fine folks that we from nearby and they gave him a lift back to the start/finish area. I knew he really was feeling bad when he didn't want a beer at first-he came around pretty quick though-and we enjoyed some food and good conversation with some other folks from Asheville and eventually got on the road. Its always fun talking about the trails and emotions after the fact and I'm truly grateful to have someone like Larry as a friend and his ride, after not doing alot of riding for a few week, is the most impressive of the day. Believe that this is the hardest course of its kind out there-harder than the Swank by a long shot. It took pro-boy winner 4 hours!!!!

BTW we killed the hell out of some Cracker Barrel breakfast food for dinner near the VA/TN border and it was so good.

Also, while we were on uber adventure silliness, others from Team Ed were at Tsali XC racing some singlespeeds. Keith "more beautiful than Derek" D. brought home best honors with a 5th place finish! The Hammer had some chain issues or he would have been in the mix as well. Maybe I need to do an XC cause if me, the Hammer, and K.D. were racing each other no one else would have a chance- and that's everyone, especially anyone else from K-town.

Late note-ED texted me Saturday evening from the finish at the 6 hour race he did near Charlotte that simply said: "I won!" Way to go ED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tale of the Dragon's Tale Part 2

So, Sunday morning started great-killed some La Quinta continental breakfast type food then drove down the street to the Starbucks for some real coffee, loaded up our crap and headed to the race start which was about 20 minutes from the interstate. Drove up over a ridge and down the valley to New Castle all the while looking at the various ridges trying to figure out which was the one we would be riding later. Big mountains of WVA off in the distance, lots of sunshine, super-chilled out for a "race" was making this day look really good. We had heard there would be a neutral start behind a car so as to keep everything together until everyone was in the woods which seemed good since we were on singlespeeds and we had gotten killed on the flat, smooth pavement. The race meeting also included a statement that kinda went in one ear and out the other. "The ridge section (10 miles) is super-tech, unforgiving, exposed (no leaves on the trees yet). Be careful, because extraction from the ridge would be very difficult. There will be someone with a cell phone about halfway, where there is the only trail off of the ridge." Sure, ridge riding, probably like Walden no big deal just pedal.

Finally started at 10am and rolled down the road behind the truck, and who was in front but me and Larry giving Team Ed Racing some serious camera time. Another guy was up there with us who was a local and riding a SS stumpy too and seemed like a nice enough guy who talked alot but again something he said I didn't really pay attention to but later seemed relavent to the day. "I did this last year, but I didn't finish. Its pretty tough." Its only 40 miles with a 4ish mile neutral road start, how hard could it be.......

We turned off the road and it went gravel and pretty soon the real players went to the front-one pro-boy from Trek/VW fame that is a local and has won all kinds of hundies. A group of 5 or so was gone pretty quick (big chainrings!!) and the advertised creek crossings started in earnest. We had heard 2, but there were 6 and all were knee or BB deep for those attempting to ride them, with the last one deep enough for a little soggy chamois action. Gravel turned to legit forest service type road that rolled up and down with a little more up each time but nothing steep at all. Finally, got to the turn off for the first singletrack, which was supposed to climb the ridge, right on top, back around, up this again then left on top to begin the 10 mile ridge-top section. Well, this first climb started with a rocky surface then started to mellow and climb steep enough to walk some, ride some given the unknown yet to come there was no sense in wasting a bunch of energy trying to ride the whole thing. Top of the ridge came and it proved to be very much like Walden ridge back home-super rocky, up and down ridge riding. Got to the first downhill off the ridge and it proved to be quite a hoot-fast, pine-needly in places, rocks every now and then but by far the narrowest trail I, and Larry was in agreement, have ever been on. It wasn't hard, but there was no margin for error because of the width. Got down safe, did a short but really fun loop on the other side of the forest road and looped back to Aid station #1.
Was offered PB and J's by the kids of the station workers, filled up on water, and asked the guy there (he had a Shenandoah 100 shirt on so I figured he might know the trail) how far to the next Aid station-to be located after the ridge ride and he said 15 miles. I thought my one bottle should get me there even though I knew I was getting ready to go back up the 2 mile singletrack we had already done just to get to the top of the ridge, then ride this ridge which he offered had 2 "soul-crushing" hike-a-bikes when you got to the far end. I thought well I have already been walking some since I'm on a singlespeed, they probably won't be that bad.......

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tale of the Dragon's Tale Part One

This idea seemed like a really good one about 6 weeks ago, when I found that mountain touring (of Shenandoah 100 fame) was putting on a 40 mile race near Roanoke, VA the first weekend of April. First plus is that its these guys-quality courses, unbelievably well-run and secondly, Sunday races are good for bike shop guys!!!!!! Anyway, Larry said it sounded good, as did Ed but as it got closer Ed must have had a premonition and when they put a more detailed description and photos of the course on the website, Ed called Chris (organizer, creator, nut-job extrodonaire) to see what it was really gonna be like. It took a few days, but he called and said "Yeah, Ed you've done the 100 a bunch of times.....sometimes you've finished well and sometimes, well, oh, not as fast. You might not like it." That did it for Ed, and had it not been for the Tsali XC race the same day I might have talked some others into going. Anyway, Larry was still super fired up, we registered Wednesday before the race, got a hotel in nearby Salem and then just plowed through a few more days of work before our Saturday after the shop closed departure.

Left the shop at 10 after 5 on Saturday and headed north on I-81 with bikes, black jerseys, and two coolers of New Belgium Mighty Arrow. Drive was good and we made it far enough to just wait and eat dinner near where we were staying. Hotel was right off of the interstate, so we drove into historic downtown Salem to find a local, sit-down type place. Found a place called Macadoo's which apparently has other locations-Boone, NC, etc.-and has a menu filled with 800 different sandwiches. Interesting place because someone loaded the jukebox with the "best of hairbands" mix and when one of the other patrons was lip-synching Dead or Alive while eating we just had to giggle. That combined with our cute, but dumb as a rock waitress-Bless Her Heart-and Jerry Garcia watching us eat made an ordinary meal very entertaining. Luckily they had giant TVs and the final four was on.

Headed to the Team hotel-La Quinta- watched b-ball drank a beer or two and then rested up for the big race. We had no idea.............

Monday, April 6, 2009

Back In Black

My first round of non-blogging happened and all I can say is "I'm sorry, it was all my fault, it will NEVER happen again." This sentence works really well if you are in trouble with your significant other, but you have to mean it.

Anyway, stuff's been happening, rides have come and gone, baseball has started for A.J., my key blogging time has been interrupted by some home improvements going on and blah, blah, blah.

Two Tuesdays ago, huge group ride at Hastie, B Hann's, Forks-"Dirty South" 25 people for an after work ride-incredible!! Ed raced the road TT in Rutledge put on by SCO in full TEAM ED racing kit, on his fixed-gear cross bike complete with clip on aerobars!! (wish there was a photo). He finished the 40K course in 1 hour and 8 min. beating many with "real" road bikes and I'm sure many with aero wheels. Done a couple of fixie rides myself as I was truly inspired by Ed's race and realized what better way to really work if you are only riding for two hours than to never coast.

True race season has finally started for many of the Team Ed faithful. Sure Ed's ahead with a 6 hour race and the TT under his belt, me and the Hammer contested some cyclocross, but this weekend it has begun in full-force. What is also evident is the far reaching nature of our small but strong team. The true sign of a race team is that several members can be in different places and still cause trouble. Ed previewed the gravel road section of the Cohutta 100 course on Saturday (ended up with 80 miles in the woods!) The Hammer, Keith D, Phillip B went to the SERC cross-country style SS race at Tsali Sunday, and me and Larry went to Virginia for the Dragon's Tale 40 put on by the good folks at Mountain Touring. Everyone has stories yet to hear and mine alone about yesterday is long enough for another day........