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.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in Cherokee and Tsali Trails

This weekend my family and I were treated to a cabin in Cherokee, NC with the Pattillo's. I say treated because Jess's Dad Mike Robb reserved it and invited us to go. Of course I was excited because I knew I'd get the chance to ride at the Tsali trails which are only about 15 mins away. More on that later because what I was really looking forward to was the kids enjoying a ride on the Polar Express! You see I happen to be "The Man". That's right, I'm The Man. I booked the Polar Express for all of us.
We left Bryson City on a real train and went to the North Pole, drank hot chocolate, ate cookies and sang carols at the top of our lungs. Santa got on board and gave each child a reindeer bell. Yes...I am The Man.
The conductor came by to punch the kids tickets. The speakers in the train car played the movie music and then read the story as the kids followed along in their books. It was worth every single penny. They haven't stopped talking about it yet.

That was on Saturday night but on Saturday morning I got up early and headed to the legendary Tsali mountain bike trails. It was a chilly 30 degrees when I left the cabin at 7:00AM and by the time I got to the trail is had warmed up significantly to 31 degrees. But I wasn't worried because I had my new LG winter mountain bike shoes.  They've been waiting on a day like this to keep my feet warm and dry. It's funny, I went biking on Thanksgiving morning with the Elam's and Dustin and Todd. The only things that bothered me were my fingers and toes. That lesson helped me decide exactly what to wear for my assault on Tsali. LG head cover, Hincapie winter bibs, sleeveless baselayer, jersey, Hincapie Wintex Jacket, LG insulated gloves and of course the shoes.

Tsali Trail Head
All week long I was conflicted. I've been to Tsali only two other times. Each of them on Saturday. That means that according to "the rules" I'm supposed to only ride the trails to the left of the lake. I wanted to ride the right side but that's restricted to horses on Saturday's. Hence my dilemma. So I decided to get there and see who all was there...like a park Ranger. To my delight the only cars anywhere were trucks with no trailers. And nary a Ranger in sight. So I decided to pay my two dollars and ride the trails I wanted to ride.
Tsali Trail System

In my wisdom I figured that if any horse riders showed up they would ride the left loop by the lake first. I have no basis for that but I wanted to ride it first and not run into any horses so I headed in and began riding along the ridge line. What a great view! The leaves are off the trees and you can see just how high up on the mountain side you are. The trail is smooth and rolling and really fun. It didn't take long before I came upon a hunter sitting on the hillside staring across the lake at the other side. My bike is really quiet and the wet trail kept the leaves soggy so I pretty much sneaked up on him. I knew better than to yell "Good Morning" or something so I just rode on by hoping he wouldn't roll off the mountain. I don't know what he did.

After about 15 minutes I decided to make a video of some of the trail. Here it is:

I stopped on one of many Lookout Points to take in the view and eat a Honey Stinger Waffle. It didn't take long before I got cold and needed to keep moving. I shot another video for you guys here:

The trail loops away from the lake and takes you into the forest. As I rode I started feeling guilty about disobeying the rules. I really didn't want to spook a horse or get in somebodies way. Besides that I was hoping to run into some other riders I could talk to. So I decided to take the main trail back to the trail head and ride on the justified side. As I made my way up the mountain that lead back I rode up on another hunter. He was tip toeing down the trail in full camo. We're talking camo baclava, gloves, boots, and even his gun was camouflage. All accept for his neon orange sock hat. I've always wondered about that. Can deer see the sock hat? If so, what's the use in being completely invisible accept for your head. I mean I could see his head glowing through the trees and across the switchbacks. Guess that's why I'm not a hunter. I can only be an expert at one hobby at a time. Anyway I quietly passed him and just put my hand up for a greeting so I wouldn't disturb his sneaky mojo.

Tsali Left Loop

On a Tsali Lookout Point
Once back at the parking lot I saw there were more riders but they were all out on the trails. So I decided to do the Thompson Loop clockwise because it looked like a workout. I had pretty much rode like Alice up to that point. I was right. Lot's of climbing to start and then switchbacks along the lake. I wrapped up a great ride by pushing through at race pace.

By the way, I love my GIANT 29er. It's the perfect bike for all things. Lock it out for speed or run it loose for comfort. It's a sturdy rocket with tubeless tires OR a lazy boy on wheels. A bike for every mood. And don't be scared of tubeless if you haven't tried it. I've had great success running Stan's NoTubes sealant in mine. If you can't take the stress then carry a tube with you. I also removed the outer chain ring and replaced the space with washers. Joe at Habersham Bicycles fixed the shifting and poof, it's a double. I hardly ever use the small ring in the front so I moved the left side shifter over out of the way so I wouldn't accidentally shift small on a rocky downhill. It all worked great all season.

On Sunday morning I decided to go run around Cherokee before breakfast. Well...I got lost. I ended up on the other side of the river from the cabin. I just knew that right around the corner there would be another bridge that would save me but it never came. My knee started hurting and before I got back I was shuffling along like a 90 year old man. I think I ran over 267 miles. I saw every shanty hut and rusty car that Cherokee had to offer. The only other signs of life were the unchained blood hounds kept at bay only by the shear inconceivableness of a grown man shuffling down their road of no return. This, dear friends, is why I like riding a bike.

The jog of death not withstanding I had a great weekend. I didn't eat healthy. I didn't use my brain all that much. I watched a lot of football. Pretty much the typical palmares of the average American male...who is also a cyclist.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! I'll be riding at Yargo on Saturday with Thomas Pattillo and the Edwards boys. Join us if you can! AND Sunday is Family Biking Day! 2:30pm at Gainesville College.

Have a great week!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011 Currahee Adventure Duathlon

This race effectively wraps up my season. Before it started I already considered 2011 a year of extreme blessings. That's a feeling I never expected to have. It's been a year I cannot explain. I mean I started the year on the lowest of lows after TJ was killed. My aspirations were gone. I expected nothing. All I wanted was to not let what happened cause me to loose my way. Too many people take a tragedy and turn it into an excuse to be a jerk. I didn't want to become bitter and loose focus on my responsibilities as a husband and father. Which to me is where everything else begins. I mean if you can be your best for your family then everything else like work and friends and even your hobbies will flow in the same direction. That's how this season of competition has been. Flowing in a good direction.

It's amazing how big of a roll your selfishness can play in life. I have always been a competitive person and for years what I wanted was to win by myself. I trained hard and used visions of winning solo to get me through some tough workouts. I flogged myself in races and did well sometimes. But this year...this year I didn't deserve anything great as far as racing goes. At least that's how I felt. I mean I wanted to keep biking and racing if only to stick it to the devil and his plan to make me a jerk. So I decided to continue the biking ministry that TJ was so excited about. I decided to race with friends instead of solo. I decided to have fun no matter what and keep my hobby in it's place. What happened after that has forever changed how I train and race. I've had more fun and won more races than ever, but all on a team. I thank God for my family, my friends, and the blessing of forgiveness. What a year! And what a blueprint for 2012!

The Map

Currahee Mountain is the historic location of the World War II training camp our military used in the 1940's. It's now part of a Georgia Wildlife Management Reserve that offers some great mountain bike and equestrian trials. For years now there's been an Adventure Duathlon there that's put on to benefit FCA. I've entered it many times with many friends. It's always a challenge for me because there's so much trail running. And I don't run. But I often read about cyclist's having a problem with bone density because of the low impact sport we choose so I try and use this event to motivate me to run. But I don't run. It hurts. My legs are so sore right now that I have to back down stairs because walking down them normally is killing me. And do you know why...because I don't run!

Running. I don't like running.
A month ago I mixed running into my workouts. As I stood at the starting line for the 2011 CAD I somehow new it wouldn't be enough. My team mates were Craig Tinsley and Boston Marathoner David Shabat. The only thing I new for sure was that Craig and I would be chasing David for three hours. And I was right. I also thought I was prepared for it but here's the thing; My treadmill doesn't help me practice running "down hill". You use completely different muscles running down hill. It became painfully obvious as the race wore on that my life was headed...down hill.
Craig Tinsley.
David Shabat likes to run.

Here's how an adventure duathlon works. Every team is given a card with 12 boxes drawn on it. This is called your "passport". The object of the race is to find the whole punchers hanging from orange banners in different locations in the Reserve. And yes the punchers punch different numbers. In order to find them you need a map. You can get the map only after running down a dirt road to volunteers who sign your passport and then running back to the start/finish to receive your map and get on your bike. The map also tells you which trails you can ride your bike and which trails you must run. Once we got our hands on the map we had to make decisions on which punches to go get and in what order. I took responsibility for planning our route...it's another "C" personality thing. We gave David the passport. We sort of knew he'd be first to most of the punch flags.

David and I were talking at the start. We agreed to take it easy and try to ramp up to a good strong pace. Then the gun went off and CRAIG went crazy! He took off like a mad man and left us no choice but to chase him down. He told us he wanted to start with a lead and try to hold it. He inspired David who shifted gears and left us both gasping for oxygen. By the time we made it back to get the map Craig and I were maxed out. And we'd only been running for about 15 minutes. It's sad really.

Of course one of the punches we needed is always located at the top of Currahee Mountain. This year the map said we could ride it. Hallelujah!  Here's how the Currahee climb went.

Once we rode back from the top of the Currahee there was a lot more trail running to do. My team mates had chosen to change shoes between each discipline so that gave me some time to solidify my plan for getting us back to the finish faster than anyone else. This is where knowing the trails became invaluable.

Eat, Drink, and keep moving. Our recipe for success.
Special Tests - Here's the reason it's called an Adventure Duathlon. You may run or ride up to the next punch flag but before you can punch your passport you may have to complete a test.

I'm handing the camera to Clint so he can film our finish.
I remember one time a couple of years ago we had to get a car tire somehow over the top of a telephone pole. This year it wasn't all that difficult. Just a board walk and some pull-ups.
Solo Racers doing the repel off the mountain.
Our last hour of racing was perfect for me. After the last run we had a large amount of biking to do in order to get all the way out to the last punch. It was a tough, steep road with lots of big gravel covered by leaves. I fully expected a special test at the punch location but to my delight there wasn't one. There was however another team there. They were all staring at their passport. As we rode away I heard David expressing his condolences, they had missed punch #7. We tore out for the finish, they headed back to get their missing punch. I felt bad for them...sort of. Here's The FINISH!

At the finish we were not sure if another team had beaten us. We stayed in "race mode" for the final ascension over the military net. Once we finished and celebrated a little I began to smell a sweet aroma. A fine southern delicacy was being cooked for us by the FCA volunteers. It's the one thing every man craves. Hamburgers! I had two. There were some nice baked goodies for desert too. We changed clothes and ate burgers while watching the other teams come in and try to get over the net. Great fun!

1st Place Team - Craig Tinsley, David Shabat, Chad Hayes

Special thanks to Clint Sanders for organizing another fine back woods adventure. Visit Sanders Drugs in Toccoa, GA where they have a ton of endurance fuels, bars, mixes, and supplies for we who feel the need to punish ourselves in events like this one. 

Also thank you to Rob Attaway for taking some great pictures of us. He's a great guy with a big heart!

Have a very happy Thanksgiving everyone! This weekend I'm heading to Tsali mountain bike trails with my family and the Pattillo's. See ya real soon!


Monday, November 14, 2011

A Brutal Surprise at Oak Park, AL

So here's the thing about mountain bike racing in a place you've never been. It's nerve wracking. But just like anything in life there's pressure put on you and pressure you put on yourself. I tend to put pressure on myself and probably always will until I'm just too old to have a chance at winning. And on top of that I choose really fast team mates who put additional pressure on me. What am I thinking!

Race#1 Heritage Park in February 2011
Here's what I was thinking at the beginning of the year about the Chainbuster 6hr Mountain Bike Race Series; Have fun, be competitive, don't make racing an endurance mtb race a new miserable experience. The best way to do all of those things was to NOT RACE SOLO! I did it the year before and was miserable (which obviously breaks rule number three). So this year it was important to find a team mate who shared my vision of how to race a mountain bike. David Shabat was willing and very excited. All year we've raced together. He trained hard and got better as the year went on. I'm really proud of what he accomplished this year as far as mountain bike skills go. We managed several podium places and scored enough points during the season to take 1st Place for the entire 6 race series. That's something neither of us thought was possible back in February when we started. To be completely honest the door was opened for our overall victory by two things; the rules and the absence. Let's start with the latter of the two.
All year long we've been chasing the "Gutbusters" Bill Lanzilotta and Alex Hagiano, and Team "Engine" Matt Hammond and Dave Chen. We've never beaten them. They are faster than we are and it's a fact. When they showed up we knew we were in for a long hard day. We might be ahead one hour and behind the next. The key to winning the overall as it turns out has a lot to do with showing up. Dave and Matt missed a race earlier in the year and the Gutbuster's didn't come to the last race in Alabama (a double points race). This becomes important later on in the story.
The rules. Let me see if I can sum it up for you. The key sentence in the rules is: At the end of the series if you have raced a minimum of 5 out of 6 races to qualify for the series we will then drop your worst scored race. The key point here is that the dropping of the worst score is mandatory. A team cannot decide to keep that lowest score. So I'll just let you do the math and look at the results. I say all this not because I think we shouldn't have won the overall. We earned it. We worked our tails off all year. But I have to recognize the fact that those guys ride like lightning. And it paid off with 1st place finishes in several races including Matt and Dave taking the top spot in our final race. However, they didn't show up at Tribble Mill and then had to drop their lowest finish. Hence we win by being the most consistent for 6 races. And the Gutbuster's? They just flat blew it by not showing up at the last "double points" race. So, the reality is that we are not the fastest riders...just the most consistent. Which according to Chainbuster Racing is exactly what the points system is designed to do. Reward the most consistent team or solo riders.

Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham Alabama
The Course

I was prepared for bitter cold that did not happen. When David and I arrived at the park we thought it would be much colder than it was. No wind. No frost. The sun was coming up bright in the sky. It was 39 degrees but warming up quickly. Soon after we set up camp there came the arrival or our friends Dustin Mealor, Trent Smith, and Todd Fisher (Team Spare Parts) and family. These guys were ready to have some fun. Having them there was a great relief. We were in enemy territory and needed some friends.
Team Spare Parts encampment.
I got ready and went out to scout the first few miles of the course. This ended up doing me absolutely no good for two reasons: 1. The start was a 1.5 mile parade lap on paved roads that basically cut off half the section I scouted. 2. The most difficult part of the trail was on the back side of the course about 4 miles in.
You can see in the 2nd video that I went out way too hard. I pulled the lead group up the road and then promptly found a place to crash! This gave me an idea. Slow down a little bit since you don't know the course. Duh!
I tried to chill out and ramp back up slowly. During that process Dustin caught me. He drilled it to catch up with the lead group and soon went on by me. I stayed with him until the time came to not stay with him. That time would be when the trail became something more like a moon crater. Or maybe the "lake" side of a dam. You know the rocks they use to keep the waves from eroding. That's what we rode across for half a mile.
One of many. But not my knee.
Up and down. Around the trees. Every turn was an "endoh" waiting to happen. There were people camped out up there. Waiting to see the carnage. Oh sure they rang cow bells and cheered for you when you made it down the drop offs without losing teeth. They stood ready to help in case you need life flight. But let's be honest. They were NASCAR fans. They were there to see the crashes. Only this part of the trail was a guaranteed crash fest. They didn't need to hope. They just needed to be patient.
Rollers are fun.
And so...I gave them what they wanted. I only crashed 4 times during the race. The first three on the first lap. Twice I washed out in the loose corners. But twice I found the rocky surface of this section too hard to navigate. It hurt my feelings and made me want to curse Alabama. If you can believe it I managed to catch Dustin after that and started talking myself into being happy. I noticed he had his cool video camera on the back of his bike and now I was the star. We were killing it over some big rollers and I just knew I was looking super cool in the video. Right up until I washed out in a corner and slid off the mountain. Nice.
The first lap was over and now I had to deal with the fact that the race wasn't. The course was in a word "brutal".  My mind was swirling with doubt. My legs hurt. I kept drinking and eating. By the time David made it back I was ready to take on Oak Mountain without incident. I wanted to disappoint the NASCAR fans. I wanted some revenge.

After that successful lap I felt much better about the race. I took time while David was on course to look at where we stood. At that time we were in second. I was very surprised. The course was so bad I just knew we were behind a lot of locals who knew how to navigate the bad sections. But there we were, in the mix. As I stood and waited for David to come in Dave Chen (Team Engine) rode in and couldn't find his team mate. He had to go out again for two in a row. I didn't realize this until I caught Dave on the trail. He was suffering but working hard. I passed him on the climb and then managed to complete the rocky section without a problem. Once on the rollers and heading back to the start it started to sink in that we were in the lead. I handed of to David but he had a big problem, a well rested Matt Hammond took over for Team Engine and was flying after him. Matt not only passed my team mate somewhere during that lap but pulled a double. He did two laps and got the second one in with only 4 seconds of time left in the race. Very cool. I told you those guys were fast. Great job Matt!

Oak Mt. Podium
By the time the Series Podium happened it was too dark to take pictures of it. I've got some great audio though with a black picture. If anyone out there has a picture I'd love to get one.

Team Spare Parts fought valiantly and settled for 4th Place by a mere 50 seconds. They were not happy but had a great time none the less. Great job guys!

Todd, Trent, Me
David and I finished up an unbelievable year in great fashion. We celebrated by eating at Cracker Barrel. That's right, Cracker Barrel. I had Mamma's Pancake Breakfast with bacon and extra syrup. David had French Toast. We both drank caffeinated coffee and took a to-go cup for the road. 4 hours to get home. 5 for David.

Another good thing about being in Alabama this weekend was the look on all the Auburn fans faces as the afternoon wore on. We had a radio and listened to the Georgia Bulldogs whoop up on the War Eagles...I meant Tigers. Sorry. It was great to be a Georgia Bulldog!

This coming Saturday I'll be racing the Currahee Adventure Duathlon with David and Craig Tinsley. That should be a great story. Last year I competed with Craig and a team mate at the last minute, David Park. We raced for 5 hours and it came down to the last 3 miles. That's a story for another day but if you ask Craig to tell you about the finish make sure you have some time to kill. It was epic!
Craig Tinsley, Me, David Park at 2010 Currahee Duathlon
Thanks for reading! See you all out there soon!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winter Riding in North Georgia

NEW YEARS DAY RIDE - Gainesville, Georgia

It's getting colder in North Georgia these days. October was pretty tame but now I fear old man winter will be striking a blow to our cycling adventures really soon. But I'm confident that we all shall persevere. I say this because I can recall countless times over the years when the elements only served to fuel my childish desire to go beyond acceptable norms. I also say this because if one of my friends decides to ride in the snow...I'll probably go with him. I have the gear, why not use it? And here's the thing...I'm not alone! There are more than a few crazy people here in N. GA. that only need a small window, a tiny push, a double dog dare to do something on a Saturday morning that defies logic. You know who you are.

How's this for a list of things we've all done in the dead of winter:
1. Shoved off from the garage at the house and already can't feel your fingers.
2. Riding across "crunchy" grass and frozen mud.
3. Can't drink because your camel bak is frozen solid.
4. Peeing on your rear derailleur. (Crude, but true)
5. Fine in the sun, then ride into a valley and it's like "The Day After Tomorrow"
6. It's so cold my eyes won't stop watering!
7. Two sets of gloves means I can't make a fist. Can't grip the bar. Don't really care.
8. Have to suck on a Clif Bar to loosen it up to chew.
9. Pinky toe is just...gone. Other toes are dropping like flies.
10. Eskimo jokes. Lots of Eskimo jokes.

Feel free to ad to this list.

Winter Riding - Lance Carpenter, Gary McCarthy, Stephen Sisk
One of my favorite stories happened one winter Saturday morning on a road ride with Trace Nabors. It had snowed on Friday but not enough to stick to the roads. There was snow on the ground though and that gave me an idea. How about a GAP's ride with snow? Trace was all about it. So we met at Lumpkin County High School at 7:00AM and started our 45 mile ride in the mountains. It was 22 degrees. I had everything I owned on my body. Baclava and a skull cap. 2 pair wool socks and booties. I was not going to be cold...boy was I wrong. I lost my fingers and my toes before we ever made the top of blood mountain. The decent nearly killed me. I couldn't tell if I was gripping or not so I just pushed the hooks of my thumbs into the bar. If you know anything about the turn onto Hwy 180/Wolf Pen Gap you'll understand how scared I was at not being able to grab my brakes because my hands were so cold. I almost decided to blow on past it and turn around.
Trace Nabors and Me - Frozen Lake Winfield Scott
On the climb up Wolf Pen I realized that my pain was not shared. My partner on this journey was actually enjoying the ride. I thought, "I must find out what magical garments he has on." "Can you feel you're hands?", I asked. "Yeah!, they're good.", Trace answered. "How about your toes? How many do you still have?" I said as the pain felt like spikes through my feet. "Toes are good too." "How is that possible?" I asked. Trace answered, "I have warming packets from Wal-Mart in my gloves and on top of my shoes."
If he had been a guy I just met I would've taken him down, robbed him of his toasty phalangie saving packets and left him for dead. As it was I just didn't speak to him for the rest of the ride. Especially after he told me he had extra's...back at the truck! I'm just kidding about not speaking. Trace can't help it if he's smarter than me. I was mad at myself.
We had to stop and get a picture with the frozen Lake Winfield Scott behind us. Proving once and for all that we...are...stupid.
That's a lesson I learned and have never forgotten. Now I keep some of those warming packets in my wallet. You know, just in case.

This weekend many of my friends participated in the Tour de Tugaloo in Toccoa, Georgia.  I missed it this year to my regret because the weather was great. My friend David Shabat and his wife and son enjoyed a great time together that morning so I asked him to tell me about it.

David and Ben Shabat
David writes...
We showed up at the Tour de Tugaloo start, at Yonah Dam, in full gear for the chilly, sub 50 degree weather.  Packet pickup was a breeze as the sun started burning the dew off the grass, Toccoa Spinner - Sharon Mahon, led some of the cyclists through some pre-ride stretching.  We got a little warmed up, hit the restrooms one last time, and hit the pavement right at 10 AM.  It was a swarm as cyclists took up both sides of Yonah Dam Road, perhaps thinking this was a closed road for the day.  So, I bumped my pace sky high and continually shouted out to keep to the right, as cars and trucks were coming right at us from the opposite lane of this narrow, windy road. 

After about 3 and a half miles, the crowds started to thin.  I waited on my party to join me.  We climbed the first hill of the day and made it over to Old Church (Riverdale) Road and took our first turn.  A few miles later, we were at the first SAG at Traveler’s Rest.  Then onto a very busy Rt 123 until we reached River Road, in the unincorporated area of Westminster SC.  We passed under the train tracks and were finally starting to warm up, as we climbed Jarrett Bridge Rd and made our way to Horseshoe Bridge Rd, Jenkins Bridge Rd, and onward through Westminster and Walhalla, South Carolina.  The hills were rolling and pleasant as we blew through the miles, but never took off much gear due to heat (since it remained cool).

We SAGged  at Jenkins Bridge Rd at 123 and carried on.  The hills weren’t bad at all and we enjoyed riding past many farms, not unlike rides we’ve taken in Habersham and Hall Counties in Georgia.  We made it back from Walhalla to Westminster, at about mile 40, my wife decided she’d had enough.  Our good friend and Toccoa Spinner, Kim Turpin, was right there with a vehicle to load Lenka’s bike while Ben and I pressed on.  Oh yah, did I mention my 12 year old son was riding this 100Km (62 mile) course?  So, we continued onto Cobb Bridge Rd, and that’s where the fun began…

Climbs, climbs, and more climbs.  People were groaning that the course was like some hidden away Three Gap.  Ben and I just smiled as we passed them and offered a cheerful “good afternoon”.  Some people smiled back.  When I told them they’ll make it fine because my 12 year old was doing fine, they got an extra burst of “shamergy”… yes, that’s the shame-energy you get when you can’t believe you’re complaining and get passed by someone who should be complaining…  So, a lot of shamergy on Cobb Bridge and then after we turned onto Unity Church Rd.

Unity is like a piece of Unicoi on the downhills.  Turn, turn, turn, turn, turn… Unfortunately, some vehicles took the turns wide and we played some last second shoulder hugging games, but I used good cycling hand signals for Ben to know when to slow down and when to move from one side of our lane to the other, to avoid potholes at high speeds.  Once we made it back to 184, we took Old Liberty to River, finished River Rd, and SAGged at the River Rd 184 corner.  There were about 25,000 bees on a few hollowed out decaying logs, RIGHT BEHIND THE SAG area!  Needless to say we were scared into leaving sooner than Ben wanted.  But, off we went, with just a few miles to go.

Ben was a total trooper, making it the 62 miles and screaming “Wooo Hooo!” as we crossed the finish line for what was a chilly, challenging, but very exciting and fun ride.  Ben can’t wait until next year, when he plans to make his poor old dad suffer…


Another edition of Chad's News is coming next week as I blow you guys away with news of our trip to the netherworld. Our foray into the abyss. Our incursion into the savage wasteland known as...Alabama.
David and I are joining forces once again to try and hold our podium position in the Chainbuster 6 Hr MTB Series Final. And then we plan to attack the trails the next day in a Dirty Spokes Duathlon. Stay tuned for the story of pain and agony. Woe...indeed.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 Tumbling Creek

I have a new reason to call this race Tumbling Creek. It's because I went tumbling in a big way during the race. More on that later. This race is put on by Gainesville SORBA at Gainesville State College trails every year. They have a great time doing it. I know this because all over the course there are creepy reminders that it's Halloween time. We're talking tomb stones with creative writing on them, spider webs overhead, warning signs about impending danger, and my personal favorite was a snake hanging from a downed tree overhead. This snake was dangling a cow bell. If you were so inclined you could smack it as you rode under the tree. Or if you sit tall in the saddle you'll ring the bell with the top of your helmet. How fun!

Kid's Race - Megan & Anna Nabors, Molly Hayes, Thomas Pattillo
This race is basically in my back yard. The College is only 5 miles from my house and I know the trail like the back of my hand. So does my teammate Trace Nabors. We entered the 2 Person Male Division against 12 other teams. However the only team that ended up really challenging us was the team of Dustin Mealor and Rob Butler. They were ready to drill it all day long and unfortunately for us that's just what they did.

The Friday before the race it rained. That made some places a little soupy but overall the course was only made faster. Especially as the race went on. The course was about 6 miles long and we figured our laps could be done in less than 30 minutes. We were right. We also decided to do the laps in the same order we did them last year, when we won this race. I'd start and do one lap and then we'd do two laps each until the last two laps when we'd do one each. You may want to read that sentence again. Last year it took 12 laps to win. This year it took 13.

Trace Nabors in the Field of Doom
To start the race they decided on a short run to the bikes and then we followed an ATV for a 2+ mile parade lap. My plan was to go out super fast and give us a lead. Unfortunately that was Rob Butler's plan too. He got to his bike and went full blast. All I could do was hold his wheel. I was about to pop and we hadn't even finished the parade lap! And I knew then that the first lap would contain TWO trips across the Field of Doom! Rob led the race until a wash out cost him his place in line. But he stayed with me so I knew it was GAME ON! As the race wore on each team worked through it's share of misfortunes. I lost about 30 seconds of time to Rob because of some uncooperative lap traffic and basically because I couldn't keep up with him. Dustin and Trace worked like dogs to keep it close. When I look at the results I can see just how hard Dustin and Rob were pushing.
Things took a strange turn during the 9th lap. I had just completed my first of two laps and was suffering badly. After exiting a horseshoe drop and powering up to speed I caught a large tree root with my pedal. The jolt to the side combined with the speed I was traveling on a slight downhill caused me to hop around like a bull rider. We're talkin' feet in the air, no steering control, cry out to Mommy type of crashing. I hit the ground and covered my head because I just knew my bike was going to come flying out of the air and hit me. I was knocked out of breath. I slowly got up, found my bike, put the chain back on and began my own personal pep talk. It went something like this: "The knee is fine keep pedaling." "Keep breathing deep." "Come on, Chad, be smooth and fast." "Just hold on to 2nd Place."  I also prayed a little bit... although I'm sure God doesn't care if we win a bike race I'm just like any of you...I instinctively include Him in every desperate situation I face.

I've found that saying stuff to myself when things get really tough helps me stay positive. I first started doing it in a road race years ago. It was the toughest race I'd ever been in at the time but I found myself in the final group with an uphill sprint looming at the finish in 5 miles. Things calmed down in the peloton as everyone was trying to conserve before the hard finish. I started telling myself "I don't care how bad this hurts I'm going to keep sprinting!" I ended up finishing second. My first podium ever. I've talked myself up ever since.
My first Podium.

So I kept pedaling and consoling myself. I ran up on some lap traffic and was traveling behind them when we passed a rider using his hand pump to inflate his front tire. It was Rob! As you might expect I was energized. I shifted down and passed the lapped riders. I tried to remain calm and stay smooth because I knew he'd be coming. I managed to get back and hand off the timing chip to Trace with a lead of only 30 seconds. Dustin exchanged with Rob and gave chase. The race was still very close. Turns out Rob's tire was punctured and the Stan's glue sealed it but not until the tire had leaked out enough air to make it dangerous. So Rob picked a good spot to stop and put air back into his tire. That's the way it goes in endurance mountain bike racing.

When I jumped off my bike and ran through timing I was forced to remember my crash. My bruised knee reminded me. I went to our tent and started trying to get ready for a final lap. All season I've done the same thing before the final lap. 3 ibuprofen, 1 double caffeine gel. Works like a charm. Unless you bruise your knee. Plus I was more tired than usual thanks to Dustin and Rob. I was not looking forward to the last lap. Even if it was only going to take less than 30 minutes.

Trace put together two great laps and kept us in 1st but still by only 30-40 seconds. Dustin was mashing his head off to keep them in contention. When I headed out for my last lap I was determined. Determined not to let Rob catch me. Determined to give my teammate a bigger lead. Determined to ignore my knee. I could tell it was a bruise and I happen to know that while a bruise hurts...you can't do irreparable damage by continuing to use a bruised limb. It's just gonna hurt. My drugs and gel did the trick and I handed Trace over a minute lead for his last lap. To be honest, I think Rob went too hard in the beginning and then did the last two laps of the day. Besides that, he not only had to chase me but he continued to chase Trace on the final lap. He's the man! And he's a really nice guy too.

Trace finishes to his cheering family.

Trace brought it home for us. Dustin and Rob got 2nd. And my good friends Todd Fisher and Trent Smith took 3rd. What a memorable race! A true battle. I would have taken more pictures of the course decorations but I couldn't think about anything accept racing my tail off. You can blame Team Maverick and the Goose for that!

Our families were back from softball/flag football games and were cheering for all of us. You can hear the kids in the videos. I can't say enough about how great it is to have their support. We stood at the lake and cheered for the riders as they came through on their last laps. What a great day!


6 HR Solo Male - 1st Chad Edwards, 2nd Robert Rentz, 3rd Stephen Dean

Other notable finishes were my friends Chad Edward and Stephen Dean. They both competed in the 6 HR Solo Male category. I really thought Stephen would take 1st but a late flat tire cost him. Chad Edwards remained steady and strong throughout the race and it paid off in the end with him taking the top spot on the podium. Great job both of you!!! 
2 Person Male Podium
 I was DONE. I began looking forward to getting home, getting unpacked, and getting a shower. Then our plan was to watch the DVR'd Georgia vs Florida football game. My wife Lisa had been avoiding her phone and other update giving things all afternoon. Our goal was to get busy being lazy... and yell at the TV. My other goal was to get some serious food into my body.

Team Hayes Automotive Wins!

The next day after Church I cut wood for 4 hours with my Dad. When I was growing up my brother and I spent our winter Sunday's following my Dad around in the woods sawing up trees. This was relaxing and gratifying to him. My Dad worked 6 days a week and I couldn't understand working one more at home back then but I do now. It's the same mindless, stress free type of thing we all do. Fishing, hunting, riding a bike, watching TV. Men need that time to decompress. Of course some of us take it to extremes and end up forgetting our real responsibilities. Some of us actually never "compress" (Occupy Atlanta?). I enjoyed cutting wood with my Dad on Sunday. We talked a little and laughed a little and just hung out while still doing something productive. Very satisfying I'll have to admit. And now I have enough fire wood to keep my girls warm and cozy all winter. Nice.

I hope you all enjoyed another installment of Chad's News.  Stay tuned because this weekend is FAMILY BIKING DAY!!! Join us at the College for a wild time with the kids and then a few "Daddy" laps.
Then the next weekend my team mate David Shabat and I are headed to Oak Park, Alabama for the final race in the Chainbuster Series. We're going to try and hold our podium spot in the overall. And we're considering staying the night and racing in the Dirty Spokes Duathlon the next morning. It's a tough call knowing that the very next weekend is the Currahee Adventure Duathlon. Can you say "Glutton's for Punishment!"

Have a great weekend!!!