Riding This Week


Chainbuster MTB Racing Series - Georgia's friendliest MTB racing. 6 & 9 Hour Endurance racing for solo or teams.

Dirty Spokes - Duathlon and Trail running series. Love these guys. First class events.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chainbuster 6/9 Hr Mountain Bike Race

Carter, Molly, Thomas, Parker are ready to race!
Tribble Mill Park is a great place just outside of Lawrenceville, Georgia to take the whole family. You can bike, hike, fish, swim (not recommended), picnic, play on the playground, visit the water wheel and just plain have a great time. This Saturday morning I loaded up my daughter Molly and Thomas Pattillo and we headed there for a Chainbuster Race. The kid's race was really fun for them and I especially enjoyed watching Parker Mashburn race his bike for the first time. Everyone gets a medal from Hayes Automotive. To see him finish and then walk around with that medal and just smile was priceless. Think about being that age and racing around the course with all those adult racers cheering, clapping, and celebrating for you. They spent the rest of the day playing all over the park. I love those kids.

After setting up the canopy tent and what not I began preparing for the race. My team mate David Shabat arrived and we formulated our plan. Here was our plan: Ride Hard. Other than a good start it's really the only thing you can do in a 6 hour mountain bike race. Speaking of the start, here's how that went. Kenny (who's race this is) had us start in an open field. Across the field was the opening to a trail that lead us straight thru the Start/Finish line and out on course. If you wanted to be the first into the trail then obviously you need to be the first one across the field. Are you looking at the picture? It wasn't pretty. Why is it important to be in the trail first if the race lasts 6 hours? Well, if you are super mega competitive it doesn't take but one race to figure out that having to pass a lot of slower people on the first lap can put you behind on time. That's time I myself am not strong enough to make up on the other super mega competitive guys that went into the trail ahead of everyone else. Plus, if you're in the single track and someone in front crashes it stops up the whole trail. So, when it came time to cross the field I hurried. I managed to enter the trail in about 5th. During the first lap I heard three crashes somewhere behind and the leader off the front took a wrong turn and gave up his position. The pine straw and loose sandy corners made the first lap scary. Once I got a good start I new I had

to dose my effort because it was already 90 degrees. Unless I want to fade terribly at the end I need to be smart about what I do right now. I tried to keep my heart rate from spiking by not mashing a hard gear on the inclines. I shifted a lot more than I usually do. I drank Hammer Perpetuem exclusively during the whole race. I took in 12 Hammer Enduralites, used 1 bag of ice and 2.5 gallons of ice water. Each lap I poured a bottle of Perpetuem and ice into my Camel Bak. When David was on course I dropped ice down the back of my jersey and kept an ice cold "Frog" on my head. (Frog: a chamois that stays cold, popular with golfers) I continually sipped Perpetuem. Oh, after each lap I would pour ice water on my head and wash the dust off my face. Before the last lap I took two Advil, ate a caffeine gel and prayed.

As is my custom I totally underestimated my partners speed. He came in after his first lap to find no team mate waiting on him. I hate myself sometimes. We lost at least a minute because I'm an idiot. And I pride myself on being prepared. If I loose I want it to be because I got beat by a person. I don't want to loose because I didn't drink enough, or my bike wasn't ready, or I didn't know the course, or I forgot to watch the clock! David was good about it and as it turns out it wouldn't have made a difference but at the time it gave me some extra motivation.

The carnage on the trail increased as the day wore on. During one lap I was navigating the switch backs and kept hearing riders ahead of me in the trail say, "Are you OK?" I soon learned who they were talking to when I rode past a man, jersey off, leaning on a tree, puking his guys out. It wasn't long after that I passed a guy laying on the ground with his hands behind his head and his foot on a tree. At first glance I thought he was relaxing, and he was, as he stretched out his cramping legs. Because of the heat everyone was in survival mode. My friend Dustin Mealor tried his luck in the 9 Hour Solo Category. He would say Pain is temporary, Glory last forever. I say stupid is as stupid does. But Dustin has a strong will and usually backs it up. On this day he did with a strong 5th Place in the Expert division. He's a cyborg. I'm just sayin.

Trent Smith and Bill Mashburn - 5th Place
Two good friends of mine teamed up to race their first mountain bike race. 20 something Trent Smith and 40 something Bill Mashburn. They did incredibly well. I was very impressed how each man fought through his own personal battles during the race to come away with 5th Place. What a great last minute team they made.

No, I'm not praying, I'm exhausted.

David and I gave everything we had out there. It was stupid hot. But we knew it would be and were highly motivated. My family was there, David's parents were there and we had a lot of friends in the race. Our friends the Pattillo's were there too. Last year before TJ Pattillo was called home he entered this race. He'd been riding about a month. Although ignorance is bliss I felt it was my duty as his friend to convince him that a 6 hour Solo mountain bike race may not be the best way to get his feet wet. Jumping in head first was his style believe me. Instead we raced Tribble Mill as a team last year. It's hard to say how I felt being back out there. After TJ was killed, Kenny the owner of Chainbuster's, who'd only met TJ once, decided he wanted to raise money for his children. Many of these very same racers gave what they could for the rest of the season last year and blessed the Pattillo's with that gift. It was one of many moments that kept all of us faithful. TJ had strength of character. He was a man of integrity who I'm sure would have approved when we all continued to follow our hearts and God's plan for our lives. I for one feel like I honor him when I forge ahead, when I make my family and his smile, when I choose righteous over easy. The future is bright and I've got things to do before I see my friend again. We all do. So keep at it people. Don't waste your time on pity or selfishness, anger or bitterness.

We took 3rd Place and moved into Second for the series. Curse those Gutbusters (Alex and Bill). We had a blast and can't wait for Jack Rabbit Trail in North Carolina next month!
BTW - I'll be celebrating my 40th Birthday by racing Jack Rabbit on Sept 24th and then riding the Six Gap Century the next day. If anyone wants to join me (help me make it through) for Six Gap you'll find me at the start holding a balloon. I will NOT be trying to set any records. It will be a hanging out with friends day. Star Bridges has volunteered to tow me and David up Hog Pen. Clint Sanders will be doing it on a single speed.

Thanks for reading! Finish well!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grant Park Pain

60+ Ready to hammer for the crowd at Grant Park, Atlanta
I've found a new way to torcher myself on a bike...it's called the Grant Park Criterium. Held every year at Historic Grant Park in Atlanta Georgia this race is a little bit later on the calender and brings out the best riders who by this time are in the best shape of the season. I'll tell you first hand how I saw the event and why I'll be back every year.
Star Bridges pins on his number in the shade.

As is my custom I began early last week trying to talk people into going to the crit with me. It was easy to talk Sean Philyaw into it because he's infected with the cycling bug. More on that another time. When I told Star Bridges about it he actually offered to pick me up. Yes! You see Mr. Bridges is a veteran of the Georgia cycling community and has done this crit several times. He knows right where to park and likes to arrive really early. This is why I like him. We arrived with almost two hours till race time and headed to registration. As we walked, Star began laying out the course for me and we talked strategy. I was really excited and then I wasn't. The course was on some pretty terrible pavement. There were patches of sand where someone tried to save our lives by filling in the pot holes. As this area of Atlanta was very old there were a lot of trees close to the road with branches hanging right where you don't want them to be. During the race if you're not paying attention you'll be doing a little pruning with your head. The back side of the course was... bumpy. Like our own personal Paris Roubaix. The top half of the course where the finish was is up hill and the bottom half is down hill. Basically you have about 20 seconds to recover on each lap. That's the bad.

The Start; see notes in picture.
 The good is relative to your fitness and your attitude. I'll just tell you the good from my point of view and it could be better or worse depending on who your friends are. I felt pretty good after pre-riding the course. At the start I got clipped in nicely and was able to hold my position near the front. Attacks started from the start and continued all during the race with special thanks to our sponsors and their prime lap prizes. Within the first three laps I watched Mr. Bridges take a flyer off the front and I thought "Cool, I'll play the team mate and try to slow the chase." Then I saw him stand up and look back with that "this was a bad idea" face. So as we came through the Start/Finish I tried a little dig of my own. Chad was strong, Chad was powerful. I flew away from the field and bombed the back side. I was in the drops, off the front, bouncing over the "cobble stones". The fences were whizzing by as I focused on putting as much distance as I could on my competitors. Then a familiar voice spoke to me from behind the spectator fence. It said, "Get off the front, Chad!".

That's me on the right in a combo kit from two different years.

It was Dustin Mealor. I hadn't looked back since my attack began but after the voice spoke I turned to see the peloton, in their drops, right behind me in a long thin line. Crap! I began to re-think my tactics. Perhaps I wasn't the strongest man here. Perhaps many others felt good today as well. I had just wasted several bullets and needed to recover so I backed off. Recovering was a good idea but it wasn't to be. The pace was high if you wanted to remain near the front. To fully recover I'd have lost the front and been at risk of being pulled by the USA Cycling Officials on the motos. That's what happened to Sean and more than half the field. Once the head of the race begins to reach riders off the back they get pulled. It's safer and I'm ok with it but if I just paid $40 for a DNF I can see why guys get mad. So, there I was, heart racing, looking for some help from God, then I saw my friends Robert Loomis and Star Bridges. They were all around me. I had new life. Robert is a young 21 year old punk kid. He's super strong because he plays soccer for a college but it was his first race. Here's how strong he is; Robert tried several attacks off the front to no avail, Robert wouldn't stay in the draft because he wasn't comfortable in a pack so he raced almost the whole time out in the wind, Robert still ended up 13th. At one point Star actually grabbed Roberts jersey and pulled him over behind the riders in front of us. The kid is green but the kid is powerful. Like all people who are half my age he could recover in half the time and kick again. He just didn't know how to race.
Robert Loomis...in the wind...attacking again!
I basically survived the remainder of the race by watching the Star and Robert show. I've raced enough to know that with 2 laps to go you must move to the front because the pace in a crit gets wicked fast on the last lap and advancing is impossible by then if you want anything left for the sprint. We got separated on a turn and I had planned to advance during the hard uphill section before the last lap began. Before I could swing out there was a line of riders flying up the side where I wanted to be. All I could do was get behind them. By then the race was on and I was stuck. If I weren't so skinny I could have powered my way to a better finish but the men left were strong and all I could do was hold my place. Star and Robert were very well placed for the final lap and did great.

The field is strung out. Robert is there again. In the wind.
I was happy to have survived. I'm sure as usual no ones plan worked out. Over half the field were dropped. If you look closely at the picture above, right behind Robert, that's a Junior racer. Probably 14 years old. Maybe the next big star? Anyway, the race ended and we rode around the course releasing excess testosterone and expounding about blown tactics. Dustin scolded me some more as he rolled toward his car to prepare for his race.

One to go!

Sprint Finish! Look at the size of those guys!
We met up with Sean and everyone else again and began telling "fish stories". The race that got away. Star and I left our perfect parking spot to some other lucky rider and headed for Chipotle! Nothing like a burrito crammed with beans and rice to make you feel warm all over. And a Coke. And some home made cookies from his wife. Thanks Mrs. Bridges!

I can't remember every little thing we all talked about. I wish I could because there are moments when men are together that need recording. Spontaneous stuff you can't recreate. Every guy needs times like these to just relax and be a guy. It was a great time with friends at a well organized event. I wish the hills were steeper or that I was bigger and 20 years younger but you can't have it all. Next up is the Chainbuster Tribble Mill Mountain Bike race in Grayson, Georgia. This time I'm taking the whole family for a day of fun in the sun!

Thanks for reading! Get out and exercise! Ride in groups! Be safe and I'll see you out there soon!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Eric Saxton Benefit Ride

Eric Saxton enjoys a moment with friends.
I've said it before that riding my bike with friends is what it's all about but riding with friends while knowing your helping a family in need takes it to a whole new level. This Saturday I was up before the trees to go find Dawson Co. High School and participate in a 100 mile benefit ride for Eric Saxton. He has cancer. He is loved by many. So... many showed up to pay to ride...buy raffle tickets...and hang out with Eric. I got there so early that I began to wonder how it would have felt to sleep a bit more. It wasn't long before my friend and team mate David Shabat drove up. I'm always glad to see David but on this day I waited with anticipation because he had done something special for Eric and I wanted to be there when he gave it. The day before the ride he challenged his co-workers by asking all who wanted to donate an amount of money based on his average MPH for a 1 hour trainer ride he would do in the "office" that day. He raised $600.00!! He was walking on air! David floated over to the registration table and humbly gave what his co-workers donated. SUPER COOL! Nothing else compared to that for the rest of the day. David is the MAN!

David Shabat raises $600

Needless to say after that everything else that happened that day was gravy or icing or whatever your favorite topping is. We rode out together with a ton of fellow cyclists and headed for the days adventures. Our route was destined to be a brutal assault on our legs. We headed north toward Dahlonega and beyond. See if you can follow this; Yahoola Valley - R-Ranch - Stone Pile - Woodies Gap - Wolf Pen Gap - Neels Gap - Turners Corner - Stone Pile, Left - Right before Dahlonega - Past Lumpkin Co. High - Rolling back to Dawsonville. Hurt me very much. It was a pleasure riding with the ISI Cycling guys. They are great. Very supportive of each other and the group. One neat thing they do is to hold the bottle out so everyone knows they're drinking. That way the other riders are on alert in case he drops the bottle.
ISI Cycling - Iron Sharpens Iron
David and Benny
Another good friend was there named Benny Bohanan. I like Benny a lot. He restores old trucks for a living. How cool is that! I first met Benny a couple of years ago when he noticed the "BPBC" course markings on the roads near his home in Gillsville and used Goggle to find out about our ride that year. Since then we stay in touch and he pops up all over the place with his bike and a smile. This time he was playing it smart and not pushing too hard. It was 100 miles don't cha know. I believe he thought that being in the yellow jersey would help. No Benny, it doesn't.
The route took us over hill and dale onto one lane roads that I'm quite sure were only paved this year. As we rode I couldn't shake the feeling I'd been on these roads before. There were no lines painted. No open stretches for you to see around the corners. Just curvy little jungle road surrounded by mountains. Then I saw the first sign for Montaluce Winery. I raced here for two days a few years ago. It was hard! I suddenly knew the meaning of the phrase Ignorance is Bliss. We were in for a really hard ride and now I really new it.
Another person I enjoyed seeing was Kelly Parham; the Man, the Myth, the Legend. He drove the SAG vehicle and looked out for us 100 milers. Kelly didn't have a bell to ring for us on the climbs so he just jingled his keys. At the top of each climb he had food and water. Well, not just water but Accelerade Sports Drink and I loved it! He also had gels and bars but what I especially enjoyed were the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies! I couldn't resist them! And they are so bad for you!? What was I thinking? I dared not read the box. Anyway, we made it around the GAP's and after stopping on top of Blood Mountain we headed down for a great smooth and fast decent to Turner's Corner. By the time we made our way from there to Dahlonega I was feeling the effects of 5 hours in the saddle and decided to eat one of the two double caffeine gels I'd put in my jersey before we left the parking lot. That pepped me up but at the same time I started to become aware of the small cramps coming into the back of my legs. My time was running out. It was 95 degrees by then. So I went into damage control mode. We stopped at a convenience store in Dahlonega where my old high school friend Tim Evans, of Hall Co. Chamber of Commerce fame, suggested we buy a gallon of water and some sports drink and split it. I had my trusty Polar bottles and filled one with water and the other with orange drink. My plan was to drink the orange and spray the water on my head and neck. And a lovely plan it turned out to be.

We came across another SAG with 9 miles to go and I did the same thing. After leaving the SAG there was a climb that normally wouldn't be to bad. My legs began to cramp. Then my mind flashed back to the Giro d' Italia where I remembered seeing a rider spray water from his bottle directly on his legs. As I rode I thought about trying it. I thought, "What if it makes my legs seize up?", "What if the cold water freaks out my knees?", "What if my legs turn to dust and I'm left just sitting here coming to a slow stop and then falling over?" Man, when you're tired your mind can really wander. Anyway, I did it. It felt great! Very refreshing. And it lasted a long while before I felt the effects go away. So damage control included spraying my legs as well.

My good friend David, who was just as tired but wasn't cramping, took up the lead, lowered his head, and hammered out 9 miles of hills. He kept me in the draft and brought me home. My friend...David Shabat.

We rolled triumphantly into the parking lot amidst the cheers and adoration of the ten or so volunteers sitting under a canopy tent. Eric was one of those people. He looked tired. Suddenly I didn't feel so tired. I felt...impacted.

Events over the last year have caused me to take a look at myself and the life I lead. What's my purpose? Who am I supposed to be? What is God's plan for me?
I don't have that answer. And I'll be 40 years old next month. But what I do have is a guide and a foundation. I may not know what to do all the time but at least I know what not to do. I've been forced to realize that I can't control every aspect of my life. I can't lean on my own understanding. Bad things happen to good people. It sucks. So...I can either choose to be a jerk about life...or I can punch the devil in the face with my faith.

Thanks for reading and if you were a part of this or any other charity event I'd like to say in my most southern voice "Bless your heart." It was a wonderful time for a great cause and you just can't beat that with a stick!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Riding Alone? Why?

I'm the type of rider who needs other riders with me. I've never enjoyed riding by myself. I've done it a lot when there's training to be done for a race but it wasn't because I didn't call everyone I knew to see if they could ride. Those corny Road ID "Bobke" commercials where he pops in on famous cycling people to ask if they want to go for a ride remind me of me. I want company. It's a big reason I started this blog if you want the truth. I want to get riders together. Every guy I know likes to "hang out" and be, well, a guy. And nothing stirs up the testosterone like physical activity. There's probably a medical explanation for the great feeling I get from joking, harassing, embellishing, and possibly competing with friends while riding a bike. Now don't get me wrong, a nice fall day ride by yourself for an hour can be more relaxing than the best Lazy Boy ever made and I've enjoyed those types of rides. But those ride seem to happen for me at the last minute. If I'm looking forward all week to a ride it's always because I know there will be a big group of friends going as well.

Me, Trace, Trent, Bill, Kelley - Fort Yargo Park, Winder, GA

Bill Mashburn
Such was the case this weekend when I joined a group at Fort Yargo in Winder. I try and talk one good friend into riding at a certain time and once I have his commitment I become a salesman selling a new product. "Hey, Trace Nabors and I are riding at Yargo on Saturday, don't you want to join us?" It's not as subtle as pulling the shower curtain open on them but it works pretty well. My networking skills help me out quite a bit also. So on Saturday morning it was me, Trace, Kelley Edwards, Stan White, Trent Smith, and Bill "Mashman" Mashburn. Notable: Bill was riding his new (to him) Specialized 29er Hard Tail, his first new bike in 16 years, and he was only a few weeks from being released to ride after breaking his collar bone (on his old bike). Kelley, sporting the new BPBC kit, hasn't been riding at all and proved it. More on that later. Trent has toned down his aggressive riding style after crashing hard a few hundred times and being told by his doctor that despite his hairy chin and strong frame he is not "Wolverine". But he still disputes that. 
Trent Smith
Stan White
Since Bill told me he was still getting his fitness back and since he was on a new bike I suggested we let him lead. It's the whole "we'll go as slow as the slowest guy" rule. Well, Bill took off like his hair was on fire! We chased him for 2 miles before I suggested we regroup. It's my belief that this is where the damage was done for Kelley. When you haven't ridden fast in a while you not only have trouble with the legs and lungs but with the skills required to negotiate the trail. You use a massive amount of energy just avoiding the trees. Thus Kelley was mentally and physically stunned right from the start. I told Bill he was setting too hard of a pace and he said, "That's all I had, I'm done anyway." It was then that we made the best decision of the day...we asked Stan to lead. Stan White is...older. But let me tell you that Stan is a skilled and steady rider who set a perfect pace for the rest of the morning. That allowed Kelley to enjoy the ride which he valiantly rode the entire time. We laughed and told stories and picked on each other and laughed some more. There was only one crash and it was Kelley. I wasn't there at the time but I'm told it scored an 8.2 and put a dent in his frame. He was still smiling and in the last two miles of our ride he came to life (2X Caffeine Gel) and brought the pain. I for one was very impressed.

Kelley Edwards

Afterwards we all had a great lunch at FireHouse Subs. Some of the things I learned at lunch: Bill showed us how to wash your hair when you have a broken collar bone, Trent explained how he shrank from being the Incredible Hulk to be the bike hobbit he is today, and I regaled the listening audience with my story of Kelley and I in his first Adventure Race ("I hate you!"). That's a story for another day. All in all it was another fantastic ride with friends. Which of course is exactly what I wanted.

So if you think that is your kind of riding and your kind of fun then watch my blog and I'll tell you about every ride I know about. I do also know that I'm not the only one having these great rides. I talk to a ton of guys and gals having the time of their lives out there. So maybe this is just my way of extending the joy for those of us who get to experience these things and give those who don't a peak at what they're missing.

 The Horseshoe Drop at Yargo is AWESOME!!! This thing drops you into a riven and then shots you out. Just one more great thing about our ride on Saturday at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia.

I hope you all have a great week and stay safe. Ride in groups. 
Join our Biking Ministry at Blackshear Place as we start our Wednesday Night Life Groups on August 17th!

Visit BPBC.com

The Lt. Governors Century is getting better. New raffle items: George Hincapie signed USA Champion BMC Jersey, UGA Memorabilia, Falcon Memorabilia, and more!

Visit my Centuries and Supported Rides page on the right of this page.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Riding on Vacation

Java in St. Simon's Island
Where do you go on vacation? The beach? The mountains? Disney? My family loves the beach. We take a week and go to a beach every year. Usually it's Myrtle Beach because my wife grew up going there but this year we went to St. Simon's Island. Of course the beach and pools were great but this is a biking blog so I'll share the stuff we did on the bike. First let me tell you guys that St. Simon's is no place for cycling. They have a bike path on every main street but unless you are on a beach cruiser it's useless to a roadie. Between runners, walkers, dog walkers, and the beach cruiser bikes you'll feel more like you're in a crit than on an endurance ride.  If you do get on the road you'd better go at the crack of dawn because the roads are busy all day long and there's little shoulder. For casual biking however it's the bomb! There are shops and piers and beach homes to envy. We toured the light house and had ice cream. I stopped for coffee in town after my second adventure. I risked my life twice during the week before finding a new friend named Brooks who rides out of Atlanta Cycling. He's been coming to St. Simon's for 25 years and suggested we ride to Jekyll Island. It was the best ride all week. We left out at 6:30am and rode over a bunch of bridges. Along the way we met other cyclists who evidently already knew what it took me a week to learn. Get off the island. Jekyll is much better for cycling. They also have bike paths but there's little traffic and riding the roads early in the morning is like having the island to yourself. We enjoyed a tough morning ride that was awesome and made it back in time for breakfast with the family. 48 miles, 19.5 MPH Avg, 85 Avg Cad.
Biking at Jekyll Island

During the week my family and I went over to Jekyll and rented bikes. There's not as many shops but the path from the Historical District to the camp ground is right along the water line. It's a great shaded, freshly paved path that's taylor made for tootling along with kids. You can pick up a burger at the pool house in the Historical District (cash only). We had a blast!

I'm a fan of former President Bush. Once when he was giving an interview he was asked about his position on sexual education for kids and teens. He explained that he believed in promoting abstinence as the best solution with other solutions like contraception being less than perfect. The interviewer questioned his view as naive. President Bush said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that we should all strive for perfection in everything we do. If you fall short of perfection wouldn't that be ok. So if he's going to set the bar for kids or any group for that matter, why wouldn't he aim for perfection. He believed that as Americans we set the bar at mediocre sometimes. I think about that when I'm working on something or teaching my kids. Don't be scared to reach for the ultimate.
I was sent this link from a good friend that reminded me even more of why I like George W. Bush. Enjoy!
Commander in Chief still leading!

The remainder of 2011 is going to be great! With rides like the ones listed above and then Six Gap, Lt. Governor's Century, Currahee Duathlon, Tour de Tugaloo, Chainbuster Racing, oh my! I hope you are all working toward something and I pray it goes great!

Now if we can just get out of this heat. Stupid global warming.