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!

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