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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Doing the double - Part 2

I've done two races in one day. I've completed a 5 day stage race. I ridden many 100 mile rides. But I've never competed in an endurance mountain bike race at my limit on one day and then an epic mountain climbing road ride the next morning. I was in uncharted territory. I had no idea how my body would react. After a thrilling day of mountain bike racing that put over 3 hours at my threshold into my legs I started thinking of one thing, RECOVERY! 
Crit Racing is in Downtown Dahlonega...Finally!
If I wanted to have a good time riding with my friends I'd better eat, drink, and rest as much as possible for the next 13 hours. Not so easy when we still had to load up our tent and gear, drive to Dahlonega, prep for the ride, find food, and pack up the Lt. Governor's Century tent at the expo down town. Again my wife was unbelievable. We made it all happen and enjoyed the Crit races that evening while scarfing down a couple of burritos. Actually I scarfed, she ate like a lady. We saw a lot of friends and hung out with Star Bridges and Sean Philyaw. 
Sean raced the CAT4 race and got put out by the officials for fixing his saddle after it got bent. He hit a pot hole. "Officially" he should have ridden around to the pit area and then fixed it. OK then. 
Historic Worley Bed & Breakfast
Lisa and I stayed at the Historic Worley Bed & Breakfast. It's because of great fortune that we had this room. I waited too late to start calling about rooms and didn't think I'd get anything. Then I had my call returned by Mrs. Francis. She started the conversation by asking what kind of person I was. It seems that the same people have been reserving a room for Six Gap every year. One of those couples couldn't make it this year and she had an opening. But in order to keep her other "regulars" happy she was giving me the third degree. Happily I passed inspection so Lisa and I stayed in a super cozy B&B. The next morning I got up and had Mrs. Francis' special cinnamon oatmeal, egg and cheese casserole, bacon (no I didn't), and many other things that on any other day I'd have made myself sick eating. Lisa is not a morning person but she got up, took me to the start, and returned to relax and enjoy breakfast and coffee with the wives and other guys who were only doing 3 Gap. 

I forgot to tell you all something important. 
My cell phone crapped out on me overnight on Friday. It was to be my memory recorder for the weekend. Consequently I had nothing to take pictures with for the entire ride. I also couldn't get the calls from friends trying to find me at the start. Lisa was not happy about me not having a phone for a 7 hour ride. I made Star text her and he updated her throughout the ride. I got some nice brownie points for that. 
Here's a tid bit you can file away in your brains; Regular rubber balloons don't hold helium for two days. So the balloon I filled on Friday was entirely inadequate on Sunday morning. My friends Stephen Sisk, Benny Bohanan, and David Shabat had trouble parking and couldn't find us in time for the start. With 3,000 riders it's a wonder we ever found each other later but we did. The Lt. Governor Casey Cagle was there to start us off and we made our way toward the first major climb. I began eating and drinking. I also started my campaign to "wheel suck" as much as humanly possible. Lucky for me Star Bridges and Sean Philyaw were feeling sprightly and didn't mind pulling us along. I was worried about bonking. Normally I'm prepared and therefore very aggressive. My body was giving me good signals but it's a long day. My legs were sore but I had power. My heart rate stayed low and I felt good. I wanted to feel that way in 6 hours so I stuck to my survival plan. Eat, drink, conserve energy.


Once we made the top of Neels Gap I went for the food table like a 4 month old to the peach flavored baby food. PB&J was my goal...and some fig newtons...and they had carry on bags of trail mix, yeah baby! The kind with M&M's!! I stocked up on everything, filled my bottles, and found my comrades.

Then out of the mist came my friend and team mate David "Sharp Dressed Man" Shabat. He was so very happy to see us. I'd like to think it was because he likes us but there's something inside me that says it was more than that. His first words were, "Do you have anything to eat?" David forgot everything. He had no food of his own. He had only one bottle and it's the one we got in our podium bag the day before. We all gave him some of our stash and off we went. This was our group: Star Bridges, Sean Philyaw, David Shabat, Me, Stephen Sisk, and Clint Sanders. Six companions. We were the Fellowship of the Gaps.
OK...that's kind of corny but I'm gonna leave it.
The draft became mine and David's best friend in the whole world. The draft is such a beautiful cycling reality for people like us. If this were a 1 hour race we would have both taken pulls and done our share of the work. However, this was 7 hours and over 11,000 feet of climbing. Not even President Obama could match our conservation efforts. We shall survive!
The turn in Helen, Ga taking you to Hog Pen Gap
Once we made it to the top of Unicoi Gap we were almost half way. The soreness in my legs had grown to a dull ache that only got worse if I went above 250 watts. That's a key factor we'll discuss later. On the climbs our group would split up some. Star, Sean and Clint made their way a little faster than the rest of us. We'd all re-group at the tops. I looked forward to descending Unicoi but the climb up Hog Pen was looming. It's a monster. I'm fond of saying that climbing a mountain is like eating an elephant; one bite at a time. We followed the "draft" as far as we could, which happened to be the start of the Hog Pen climb. Once the road turned up my legs began to tell me that my pain threshold was about to be tested. Eating this elephant took almost an hour at an average of 260 watts. I was in a fog. I think there were trees and I saw some grass. Otherwise I just stared at my Garmin and settled in to my pain cave. David was in his too.

There's a theory out there in cycling that says a rider who's suffering should picture himself putting the pain in a box. Close the box and keep pedaling. It's stupid but it gives your mind something to think about. After moving ahead on the Jack's climb, Sean told David he must have put his pain in a box. David then calmly explained that he doesn't have a box. He has a large chest with gold buckles and ornate jewels on the top. Inside the chest are six drawers lined with silk. His pain on this day was so great that he'd already filled three drawers and would run out of space by the time we reached the Wolf Pen climb. His goal in moving up ahead was to steal someone else's box while they were distracted at the food table. David is a real thinker. I like him a lot. Naturally I started looking for a rider who didn't seem to need his pain box. Stupid, I know.

Star Bridges, Me, David Shabat, Stephen Sisk, Clint Sanders, Sean Philyaw. Top of Hog Pen Gap

We made it to the top of Hog Pen Gap! My legs were angry with me. Otherwise I felt pretty good and I'd say David was doing well too. Once we ate PB&HONEY sandwich's we set out to bomb down the back side of the mountain. I was feeling fortunate and didn't want to mess it up so I took it easy and followed my friend Stephen Sisk. You can't help but to go fast. If you stay on your brakes you'll heat up the rims and pop your tires. I thought we were going pretty darn fast and then a motorcycle blew past us doing about 70 MPH. Almost knocked me down with the wind as it went by. I glanced back and then moved over to see what kind of rice rocket it was and... it was David Shabat on his Motobecane! Evidently he felt there was nothing to live for or maybe his brakes stop working once the bike goes above 50 mph or perhaps his mind finally cracked and he wanted to see if he could break the sound barrier. He was out of sight in seconds.
Next up was the Wolf Pen climb which started with us all together but we split up as usual...wait...no it didn't start with us all together. We forgot Clint! He climbs like a mountain goat but turns into a little girl on the steep descents! I was so focused on survival I didn't realize he wasn't there. I think we all assumed he was already at the top of Wolf Pen waiting on us. When I got to the top I got some food, filled my bottles, and sat down for a while before the big push for home. As I'm sitting there shoving food into my mouth Clint rides up?? Basically he waited on us at the bottom of Hog Pen and then again at the turn on Hwy 180. Then he climbed Wolf Pen at the speed of light to catch us before we could leave him again. I felt bad. He's a great friend and I'm just telling you that I had no idea he wasn't there.

The final 20 miles were really good. On the road to Suches we rode up on Benny Bohanan. We hadn't seen him all day and then there he was. We rode and talked for awhile. I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was obvious that David and I were going to make it to the finish so we began pushing a little harder. Clint and Star were there with us, still on the front, keeping us in the draft. After our final stop on top of Woody's Gap we had a great descent to the Stone Pile. The last 9 miles were really hilly and rolling. David and I were with Clint and we both had the same idea. Empty the tank. Clint pushed hard up the hills and we tucked in behind him. We actually took some pulls and finished up strong. Easy to do when you've been babysat all day by good friends. Clint even let me ride through the finish first because he knew my wife was there waiting on me. I wished I had thought of him after Hog Pen as much as he was thinking of me then. It was a great and powerful finish. 
I rolled in under the tent where my wife was smiling and ready to give me a kiss. I was ready to receive it. After taking a shower in the school gym I was ready for spaghetti with my friends. Only Star, Stephen, Sean, and David stayed for lunch but it was fun to talk about the days adventures. I try to make these posts short so you guys won't have to read forever so there's no way I covered everything that happened. You'll just have to ask the remaining members of "The Fellowship" to tell you what I missed.

My plan of survival was successful. Things didn't go exactly like I planned but then nothing ever does. All my friends returned safely and I wasn't miserable all weekend. My wife proved once again that I out punted my coverage when I married her. Life is still good. Thank you God!

And thank you all for reading! Check out my blog everyday for the latest info on rides in North Georgia. Have a great week!


P.S. - There's been some really cool developments with the Lt. Governor's Century Ride. United Healthcare is bringing the team and the Health&Wellness trailer for the day. Check it out.

News Flash:
Aside from the ride that we hope you can share with your group, we would like to invite you to UnitedHealthcare's exhibit from 9am-2pm where professional cyclists will provide bike safety classes for children, bike demonstrations as well as important information on eating healthy and staying fit.  The UnitedHealthcare team will have bikes and helmets for the day's use should your child not have one and we will also raffle off a child’s bike and helmets!  Remember, the children's bike safety expo is open to everyone and anyone who wishes to come!  We also encourage you to stick around and cheer our finishers home as they make their way down the home stretch and participate in the silent auction that includes really great items!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Doing the Double - Part 1

This was going to be a great weekend. I wanted to declare to the world that 40 years of age is NOTHING! So I signed up to do a 6 Hour Mountain Bike Race with my team mate David Shabat on Saturday and then ride the 105 mile, 11,000 feet of climbing, Six Gap Century on Sunday. I've completed them both and so did my friend David. The story of this weekend is packed with greatness so I'm forced to report it in two parts. As with all things I write we'll begin in chronological order starting with...

Welcome to Hayesville!

Hayesville! That's right...my town. OK not really but it was fun to walk around in downtown Hayesville on Friday evening. I took Friday off work so my wife Lisa and I could take our time getting there and setting up. We went by the trail and left our canopy tent, I pre-rode the course, and we talked to the guy who puts on the race named Kenny. He's a great guy. I told him we had reservations at a swanky restaurant downtown named The Copper Door. As we parted ways Kenny's words were, "You kids have fun!"    I like him.

We stayed in a house on the lake offered to us by my daughter's principle Mr. Moody. It was perfect. Nice and quiet. I slept like a baby and since the trail was only 5 minutes away and the race didn't start until 10am I was very relaxed...right up until Kenny began counting down to start the race. After pre-riding the course I knew the start would be super fast. He started us about a quarter mile up a paved road and then we took a hard right into the trail. For the next 2 miles the trail was mostly flat along the ridge line beside the lake. What that means is, as usual, getting out front at the start was key.       WATCH THE RACE START
Wild Bill
As I waited at the starting line I was joined by our arch nemesis Bill from Team Gutbuster's (1st Place Overall) who was calling out a friend for riding a... CYCLOCROSS BIKE! I looked around and noticed at least two more of them. This was bad. You see cyclocross bikes are faster than all of us on pavement and even in a field. But once they get in the trails it's lights out. They are slower than the top 20% of the mountain bikers racing. Which is actually saying a lot. Those guys are good. I am truly impressed with the skill it takes to navigate a trail system on what is essentially a road bike. But not today. The goal must be to beat them into the woods. Otherwise who ever does will have a considerable advantage over the rest of us because we'd have to wait our turn to pass the CX guys on a single track trail. When the horn sounded we all found ourselves going as hard as we could and watching the CX guys ride away. They made it to the trail head and some folks got around them early. Not me. I spent the next 2 miles waiting in line. But that's racing I guess.

I had no idea where my competition was so I just went as hard as I could. David rode like a mad man too. When we finally got time to check we found out we were in 3rd. Only 1 minute down on 2nd. But the Gutbuster's were busting a gut and beating us by 2 minutes. As the day wore on we realized that our lap times were going to give us a decision to make. Usually we go fast enough that we get in 7 laps within the 6 hour time frame. Our times today were going to make it possible to get 8 laps...if David wanted to try it. As I powered through what I knew would be my last lap I thought about what I would do. If it were me...I wouldn't go for it. Only one reason: Six Gap the next day. But then what if the 2nd place guy cramps up, what if 1st place busts a gut? When I got back David was there ready to go for it. I should have known.

The minutes ticked by. Time was counting down. If you finish the lap even 1 second past 6 hours the lap does not count. 5 minutes to go. David's son Ben was pacing around the tent. 3 minutes. His wife Lenka asked me what I think. I say he can do it. 1 minute left. Oh well...he tried...what a great effort...it's been a long day. 40 seconds left... and here comes David flying around the corner of the road. He had 40 seconds to finish coming down the road, turn into the field and ride up through the finish line. It looked like a long way. David looked tired. Kenny was on the PA system counting down. We were all screaming at David to hurry. His son was trying to get the video started. I started asking Kenny if I could push him since I'm his team mate. David was slamming his weight down on the bike to get it up the hill through the field. When he got to me I ran behind him clapping and yelling "Go David Go!" I stopped running so I could watch as he passed over the finish line and see the clock.

David enjoys the moment.


We finished in 3rd Place. One of only 3 teams to get 8 laps. WHO'S... YOUR... DADDY!
That's probably not appropriate to say. My wife will not like it but I'm gonna leave it there. What a great way to finish a race! I was so proud of David. As we sat in our chairs waiting on the podium presentation I'm sure the same thought was going through each of our minds... Six Gap. But we didn't care. We'll just figure out how to get through it. Today we gave everything. No regrets...until tomorrow.

Chainbuster Jackrabbit 6 Hr Team Relay
So that's how we finished up. But there are other stories being told out there. Our newbie friend Trent Smith was on a 9 Hour 3 Person Male Relay Team and they took 1st Place!! I'm happy for you Trent!! I do however feel sorry for his wife. There will be no living with him now.

And Dustin Mealor entered the 9 Hour Solo Expert division again. This time finishing in 5th Place! Nice!

Stan White sporting the Habersham Bicycles kit and raced 6 Hr Solo Masters 50+ taking 6th Place!

One thing I especially enjoy about team racing is looking at the team names. If you're not promoting a business then you just make up a name for your team. Here's some of the better ones:

Team Trio of Woe                         Team Pot Roast
Team Wander Women                   Team Bob
Team Slow Spokes                        Team Flying Dirty Chickens
Bill Mashburn
Team Poncho & Lefty                    Team Biscuits
                                                          &    Gravy

Our good friends Bill Mashburn and Jon Frame raced together for the first time too. The wiley veteran and another young punk pulled off an 8th place finish by completing 7 laps.  Bill tells a great story of how he had completely shut down after what he thought was his last lap. "No way the Kid can get around the course in time for us to get another lap in!" Oops! Jon drilled it and caught Bill unprepared. And despite a bent chain ring Bill completed their last lap and bumped them up several places in the standings. Great job guys!

Jon Frame
The full results are on Kenny's site at Chainbuster Racing. There are also great pictures from Outdoor Event Photos.

Now let me tell you about the greatest gift ever given to a man on earth. I could write all day about my fantastic wife but since this is a cycling blog I'll just keep it to the facts from this past "cycle fest" weekend I shared with her. All you married cyclists listen up. It's my 15th Wedding Anniversary and I planned a long weekend getaway that included me racing a 6 hour mountain bike race and a 7.5 hour road ride in the mountains of North Georgia. Pretty stupid huh? Well guess who had a blast? Guess who got to relax and enjoy a little reading, a little competition, some sunshine, good friends, good food, and romance too? That would be me AND my wife, Lisa. How can this be you ask? What kind of bribery did it take? What kind of moaning and complaining did you put up with? How many times did she roll her eyes?... None! I have the most supportive, fun loving, and even competitive wife in the world. She was there for every cool thing that happened all weekend. Smiling and hugging and taking pictures. I'm sure you can all imagine how much greater the weekend was with her there genuinely having a great time with me. How blessed am I!? Lisa would probably say she was just being herself but I know the truth. The truth is it's my reward for keeping my priorities in order. It's my reward for always putting her first and making sure she believes that. I suffered a lot physically this weekend and will be stronger for it later. Lisa and I had some precious moments together that will help keep our marriage strong. I work harder on my relationship with my wife than I do at being a good cyclist. How about you?

In marriage, each partner is to be an encourager rather than a critic, a forgiver rather than a collector of hurts, an enabler rather than a reformer.

And by the way MEN... Romance is like playing Hide and Seek. Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose, but you should never quit searching for ways to romance your wife.

This is only Part 1 of my great weekend adventure. Stay tuned for more this week!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The GAP's

The Six Gap Century held every September
There's a phrase that cyclist's in North Georgia use to describe a ride in the mountains that takes them over at least three climbs and possibly six. Those mountain climbs are called "The GAP's". They are; Neels Gap, Jack's Gap, Unicoi Gap, Hog Pen Gap, Wolf Pen Gap, and Woody Gap. If you do all six you'll have covered 70+ miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. The Tour de Georgia used many of the Gap's to add tough climbing and attract the best pro riders. At the top of  Jack's Gap if you want to add the word "Epic" to the days ride you can take a turn and climb the famous Brass Town Bald Mountain. This climb will make you cry for your mommy.
Stephen and Casey get ready to climb.
I've ridden the Gap's many times and in many orders. You can start in Helen. You can start in Dahlonega. You can start at the Stone Pile or Turner's Corner. The beauty of the Gap's is that wherever you start from you can make a loop right back to it. The only thing you need to tell your buddies is where to meet. If you ride them one way this weekend you can do the same route backwards the next weekend and it's totally different. The Gap's are feared by some and revered by others. Every cyclist knows about The Gap's. But not every cyclist has ridden them. Such was the case for my friend Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.

Casey Cagle and Stephen Sisk climb Neel's Gap
He's talked to me about them on several occasions. "Do you think I can ride them?", "How hard is it?", "Do I have the right gearing for it?" The inquisition became greater after he found out he'd be starting the riders at this year's Six Gap Century. As we build up to The Lt. Governor's Century ride on October 15th things are getting very exciting. He and I have talked about what riders in Georgia like and how to make his benefit for FCA the best it can be. One thing he wanted to be able to say is that he's ridden the Gap's. So this Sunday afternoon we started from Turner's Corner and rode Neels, Wolf Pen, and Woody's.

Casey on Hwy 180 after the Wolf Pen Climb
Not knowing how he needed to pace himself was probably his biggest challenge. Neel's Gap is a 7 mile climb that took us almost an hour. I slowly paced us up while Stephen gave Casey some tips on climbing. And what a beautiful day! 78 degrees! Breezy! Sunny! Perfect for suffering. Once at the top it was time to evaluate. Do we turn around and call it a day or do we continue the journey? Reaching the top of his first "Gap" was a victory for sure but I think Casey knew he would've gone harder. There were still two unknown climbs to go and he was under some purely unintended peer pressure. He had no intention of stopping. As we got ready to leave I saw a guy coming down the stairs from the store with a goofy grin on his face. He was wearing a leather jacket like some Harley rider but was too small and gangly to make me worry. As he got closer I recognized him as my friend Stephen Dean. He was riding motor bikes with his father in law. I told him he should be on a pedal bike and he told me lies about his intentions this winter. I like Stephen Dean, he's funny.

We descended Neels and started the fun and exciting Wolf Pen Gap climb. Casey was taking it easy I could tell because he was able to carry on a conversation with us. We didn't care because we understood what he was going through. Being unsure of the obstacles ahead can drain you mentally and physically. You stay tense and end up using more energy. But Stephen and I also knew that once we got done he would be so excited. It's fun knowing how someone else is going to feel. I mean emotionally. Physically he may be telling a different story.

We rolled through Suches and up over Woody Gap and then a long fast decent down to the Stone Pile. All brand new to Casey. What a scary/thrilling ride it must have been for him. On our way back to Turner's Corner we worked on drafting. Casey rides by himself a lot so like all newbies he stayed back too far or rode outside the draft. He was uncomfortable being close behind another rider. On the way back home Stephen and I shared our thoughts on drafting in cycling.

Drafting Example

First off there's a trust between riders that is magnified on group rides. If you're drafting behind a rider you need to assume several things;
1. He knows not to hit his brakes. 2. He knows not to swerve unexpectedly. 3. He knows not to surge and slow, surge and slow. 4. He knows to tell you about dangerous objects or holes in the road and moves over slowly to avoid them.
You should assume these things until a rider demonstrates he doesn't understand his responsibility in this regard. You then have the right to correct him in a manner that reflects the danger of the situation he may have just put you in.
Beyond that, drafting is a valuable way to survive a hard ride and/or win a race. It's widely known that drafting a rider saves you 30% of your energy. In other words the guy on the front is working 30% harder to go at the same speed you are. If you aren't as strong as the guys you're with then you need to use all the draft you can. And believe me they don't mind. They'd rather you rotate off the front quickly than to blow yourself up and loose contact with the group. You can really over think the whole thing if you're not careful. Bottom line is ride in groups to get better at drafting.

Me, Stephen Sisk, Casey Cagle on top of Woody's Gap
 Well we made it. Three Gaps from Turner's Corner. Another great Gap's ride for me and Stephen and an Epic ride for Casey Cagle. Time to eat, sleep and be merry. Now I'm pumped for the Six Gap Century this weekend! Something great always happens on an epic ride like that. I'll be at the start line with a white balloon so my friends can find me. Join us for a great time in the "Gap's"!

But don't think riding in the mountains is all I did this weekend. Oh no my friends! It was time for the Dawgs to catch up with all the other, smarter schools who start their schedules by playing teams you've never heard of like Kent State or Florida Atlantic or Middle Tennessee State. This week we took on the powerhouse of Coastal Carolina! This is the type of game you can get extra tickets for so we took the kids.
 I've also spent some time painting the routes for the Lt. Governors Century for FCA on October 15th. It's going to be a great ride for a great cause. Stay tuned for some cool new announcements about the lunch after the ride!
Homer, GA is half way for the 100 mile riders.
During my birthday celebration week I garnered a lot of advice from friends and relatives. We're talking everything from "Now it's time to act your Age" to "Let the party continue..". I take all advice and give it it's due attention. For me there's advice that is battle tested and foundational. The people I trust in this world are on a very short list. I don't trust the Internet. I'm not a self help book reader. No, when it comes to getting guidance about my life there's always something solid for me in the Bible.

Titus 2:2
Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love, and in 
"Worthy of respect! What a goal for our lives whether we are men or women! Don't you want your life to reflect the character of God because our faith expresses itself in a life of self-control. This work of the Spirit in our lives happens only as we dedicate ourselves to being what he is at work trying to accomplish in us."

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you out there!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Playing With The Box

Normally I'd start my blog posting with the first notable thing that happened in my life last week. I'm a type C personality so I like things in order chronologically. But this week I'll shake things up a little bit and tell you about the last great thing.

In my 40 years of experience through marriage, having children, job, and life overall I've learned some things about, in this case, children's behavior. For instance I know that a child is just as likely to receive your expensive gift, unwrap it... and play with the box it came in more than the gift you spent your time and money on. You can't predict when this will happen either. This principle of child rearing can not be controlled or created. In other words parents, you can't just buy them a pretty box. My understanding of this phenomenon lead me some years ago to this conclusion: Let them play with the box and be happy. Your effort in gift giving paid off... just not how you expected.

Erin Grace, Thomas, Ellie
It's the same for most everything you plan with kids. Camping, biking, vacation, eating out. You make a plan so you have one but if it goes a little different just roll with it and make that fun. This was my plan for Sunday afternoon. I wanted to practice with my new cyclocross bike. I also wanted to take the kids riding. So I packed everything up and we headed to Gainesville State College to ride our bikes. That was the plan. It was me, my daughter Ellie, Erin Grace and Thomas Pattillo. EG, as we call her, was about to ride the trails for the first time ever. She's got a nice pink mountain bike and a determined attitude but I knew my currently non-existent cyclocross skills would be put to the test. For the next hour we made our way through the trail. EG is very small and I was sure she'd have a tough time holding on to the handle bars but she held on and didn't crash. The picture above is a pavilion built out over the swamp. We stopped here and my plan went from biking to baby turtle hunting. Of course the boy wasn't hunting baby turtles he was hunting snakes or wolverines or mountain lions or something.

If I hadn't been the only adult I'd have sneaked off and become a mountain lion just to see what Thomas really would do about it. Anyway, great diversion there. We rode more of the trail and eventually came out onto a nice flat wide open path where EG decided to crash monumentally. Her first serious crash on a mountain bike was on the easiest part of the trail. Perfect. When the dust settled we agreed she was OK and made our way back to the parking lot. Here's where I started making things up. There a cool ropes course down by the lake so we went down there and the kids played while I worked on my CX skills in the field.
Thomas and I rode around the lake together looking for cat fish... or was it barracuda... I don't remember but we didn't see any. The conversations where numerous and diverse. Kids have no filter when you put them in an environment like this so whatever came into their heads came out of their mouths. It reminded me of a country song "She thinks we're just fishin'" by Trace Adkins. We just hung out and let things happen. Thomas found a big stick which was so entertaining, especially for me when I watched him try to get it back to the car while riding his bike. EG and Ellie picked flowers for their Mommy's but I'm sure the Mommy's won't get them until they pull them out of the dryer. We left the College and went to Dairy Queen for some Mini Cookie Dough Blizzards. Who can beat that day!

Check out my youngest rushing the QB
As a roadie I'm in a constant state of training. There's always another event right around the corner that makes me want to train. But my priorities don't begin there. As you know I'm a type C so I need a general plan that can only vary slightly before I start rubbing my temples. Here's my order of priorities: 1. God, 2. Family, 3. Job, 4. Biking. That's not to say that I won't try to incorporate number 4 into the remaining three every chance I get. But if a choice must be made I defer to that list. The list keeps me from getting too consumed by my passion for riding. The list helps my man brain honor what God has blessed me with and keeps me from becoming too selfish. And you'd be surprised how good it actually works out.

On Saturday I got up early to hit the trail with my friends Trace Nabors and Bill Mashburn for about 3 hours. We went early because priority #2 dictated that the ball games of our children be attended. It was great to finally have to put on arm warmers! Chicopee Woods was packed with riders by the time we made our escape. We started at Gainesville State College and rode through the trail over to Chicopee. We then methodically rode every patch of trail there. I left Bill, who had more time and more energy than I did. Trails are in good shape. Thank you SORBA!!!
After flag football it was time for College Football! My wife Lisa is a UGA graduate and insane Bulldog fan. She gets in fights all the time with opposing fans. We've been thrown out of two games. They keep moving our seats every year to make her happy. I sneak chocolate in under my hat because it helps her stay calm in the face of ignorance. I'm serious fellas. Don't mess with this girl about Georgia football unless you want to be embarrassed. I just put my head phones on and pretend I can't see them begging me to call her off.
My new (to me) CycloCross bike.

All my favorite teams lost this weekend. Flag football, UGA, Falcons. Blah! I don't think I'm any better at Cyclocross either. But despite those facts it was a great weekend by any standard. Even if it were bad for me, those kids made more memories of fun and happiness. My wife and I spent fun time together. And I still rode my bike(s)...twice! I deserve some Strawberry Cake.

Benny Bohanan went and rode 103 miles in the mountains for the Tour de Gaps presented by Georgia Cup. Great job Benny! After the ride he had this to say,

"I don't know much about "Georgia Cup" but I got the feeling it is one guy, a camper, and some signs." 

 If any of you readers know Jay you'll find this quote hilarious.

 Pre-Order Pricing for the M3/Hayes/Strong Gaddy Lilly Kits are: Jersey: $35.00, Bibs: $65.00, Kits (OneJersey & One Bib): $95.00
We will take pre-orders between now and Sept 24th 2011.  So If you are interested please get your order in before the 24th. Visit www.habershambicycles.com

Well that's all I have for this edition folks. Tune in next week for who knows what. There are some great Charity Rides coming up next month so ride for a cause! What rides am I doing you ask?

September 25th - Six Gap Century
October 1st - Good News for Gainesville
October 8th - 24 Hours of Georgia Mountain Bike Race - Conyers
October 15th - Lt. Governor's Century - Chestnut Mt.
October 22nd - Nothing. Because my wife seems to think I should let her do something. Silly woman.
October 29th - Tumbling Creek 6 Hour Mountain Bike Race - Gainesville State College

Join me please! We'll have a blast!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend 2011

Typically for my family the Labor Day holiday is sort of a "on the fly" holiday. We don't usually remember it's coming to be honest. I mean it's not like Christmas or Washington's Birthday. And we don't work for the government or a bank so there’s no guarantee of a bizzilion holiday’s that we can put on the calendar every year. We tend to treat Labor Day as a bonus holiday…like icing on the cake.

This year’s Labor Day was destined to be unfamiliar. First of all, September 4th, 2010 is the day my friend TJ was killed riding a bike with me on a beautiful Saturday morning. It’s a day I’ll never forget as long as I live. It’s a day that changed my life. As I write this I’m sitting in the living room of a lake house staring at the lake as the sun rises. It’s a bit overcast and gray but the rain overnight actually brightened up the leaves and freshened things up. The lake is calm and glassy. There’s no indication of the holiday boating madness that occurred yesterday.  Not a creature is stirring in the house. It was my plan to get up early to enjoy the peace and quiet while reading my new book “ROADIE; The Mis-Understood World of a Bike Racer” by Jamie Smith but my mind is too busy organizing thought to read someone else's.  A squirrel just leaped from one tree to another. It’s cool when they do that.

The Pattillo’s are here with us this weekend; Jessica, Thomas and Erin Grace.  I figured we’d be together here for this crappy anniversary and just see what happens. Maybe we laugh, maybe cry, maybe we find some new form of peace. It was my plan to let go and let God. It was uncharted territory but I was open to whatever the weekend brought. And here’s what that was:

Molly and Thomas at Paynes Creek Trail in Hartwell, GA

I got up early on Saturday morning and took Thomas Pattillo and my oldest daughter Molly mountain biking at Paynes Creek. We had a great time especially on the “whoop-de-doo’s”. They were so fun we turned around and rode them again. 

Enlarge this pic to see the whoop-de-doos.

When we returned there was a strange foreign car in the driveway. I began unloading the bikes when Molly came out and said, “Mommy wants you to come inside.”  I have my father’s gift of being able to imagine the worst that could happen in any given situation so I immediately started thinking of possible scenarios. I settled on the “Angry Neighbor” scenario. The kids had done something so destructive that the neighbors actually drove over to tell us about it. When I finally walked in I was happy to hear “SURPRISE!!” from everyone including the foreign car driving Nabors family who drove up for my surprise birthday party. It’s the big one. 
All total five families, 11 kids, 9 adults were here to celebrate my birthday. My wife organized it all and my daughters actually didn’t blow the surprise having known about it for over a week.  We spent the rest of the day water skiing, Sea Doo-ing, and watching the kids play. Happy Birthday to me!
After a day like that I was tired. Then after we grilled hamburgers and my belly was full I was D.O.N.E., done. When Idaho scored their third touchdown I called it a night because I had a race in the morning. 

The Sunbrella Labor Day Omnium Circuit Race!
I got up on Sunday and met Star Bridges and Sean Philyaw to race a 2.5 mile course in Anderson, South Carolina for the final of the Sunbrella Omnium. It was a 9:00am circuit race of 6 laps. I’d thought a lot about this race during the week before. Since I’m a time crunched racer I know better than to plan on winning, especially a downhill sprint, but this day was special and I wanted to give a great effort. Not only a great effort physically in the race but in another way too. I wanted to honor my friend. I wanted to be bold about my faith, about his faith. So I wore the BPBC kit resplendent with bible verses and angels wings. I asked Star and Sean to pray with me at the starting line. I prayed that TJ would be a part of the race. I prayed for strong legs and safety and for every racer to race well, just not as well as me.
I’m kidding about that last part. I didn’t actually say it. But I was thinking it. So the race began with about 40 racers. The course is pretty flat with two small climbs. A three man break went away early and it included Star. I wanted to be in it and shot out of the group to bridge up. Like a dummy all I ended up doing was dragging the group up to the breakaway. Then on lap three two guys attacked and a small group of 7 got away after them. This time I didn’t immediately chase. Once the gap was big enough I shot out to the side so nobody could get on my wheel and sprinted up and around the corner until I caught the break, which by then were all together.  Star was there but Sean had gotten caught in traffic and didn’t make the break. Once Star found out I was there he started working hard on the front to keep the break away. How cool is that! He’s working for me! I suddenly understood what Mark Cavendish means when he talks about winning because his team gave everything so he could. It’s very motivational when someone else is giving their best with you in mind. I started trying to conserve energy. Hard to do when we were averaging 25 MPH. As the laps went by there were attacks and counter attacks. For the last two laps I mostly stayed near Star and waited. I was very nervous. My heart rate range is lower than most people’s with my resting HR in the 120’s and my MAX in the 170’s. I spent the entire race above 160 HR. On the final lap there was an attack by two riders. Star followed with me behind. I was unaware at the time but the guy that launched that attack had pretty much started every attack all day. He was strong. He kicked then and then kicked again with less than a mile to the finish. Star couldn’t match it and began yelling at me to go get the guy. So I sprinted like a mad man, caught the guy, passed the guy, pushed it some more and then began to fade. Looking back at my Garmin recording it looks like I pedaled at 175 HR all the way through to the finish. The last lap averaged 26+ MPH. I sprinted up to the guy at 1,110 watts and held over 350 watts for a quarter mile to the finish. The group ended up catching me and we all sprinted to the finish line with Star trying to lead me out. I was blown. My sprint had occurred a half mile earlier. But boy was I happy. I had raced and gave everything. No regrets. I emptied the tank. The guy that kept attacking ended up winning the sprint. The strongest man won.  We played our best tactics and in the end Star was 6th and I was 8th. And don’t feel too sorry for Sean Philyaw because he won the second groups field sprint and ended up 13th!

Eric Grace Pattillo shows off the Labor Day Omnium shirt
When I returned to the house everyone was playing in the water and having a great time. We all had a great day of fun. TJ Pattillo was spoken of often and in laughter and thankful remembrance. As usual my apprehension of the date was unfounded. 
Philippians 4:6-7
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

As I sit here in this recliner, legs full of lactic acid, I’m proud of the way I spent yesterday. I’m grateful for the friends that raced with me and the friends who came to celebrate my birthday with me. I’ll never give up trying just because it hurts sometimes or I’m left alone sometimes or things don’t go the way I planned. A bike race is a lot about suffering and perseverance. But it’s also fun and satisfying if you have the right attitude.  Just like life. You only need to learn how to recognize the victories.

So for the rest of this holiday weekend I plan to relax and enjoy the life God has given me.
“I’ve got my eye on the goal where God is beckoning us onward to Jesus. I’m off and running and I’m not turning back” - The Message. 

The kids are up now and asking for something to eat. I guess it’s time to get this Labor Day started. I hope you’re all encouraged and ready to do something positive today. It is a real holiday after all. 

Thanks for reading!