Riding This Week


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

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Velcro Therapy and Chicopee Woods

I've got a problem. I injured my neck muscles acting like a middle schooler this weekend. It was a lot of fun until I got up the next morning and discovered that my 40 year old body doesn't react well when multiple attempts are made to flip upside down in a Velcro suit. Our church put on a "Winter Weekend" for the youth and we were a host home. We kept nine middle school girls at our house. Yep. Sure did. And during that time we fed them, held Bible studies, and shuttled them to the events planned by the church.
Velcro Therapy
Blackshear Place Baptist Church is a pretty big church. With that size comes the ability to compete. When you think about all the things that compete for our kids today it would seem impossible for a parent to control it. Especially with teenagers. Especially teenagers with smart phones. So our church takes the approach that whatever we do for the youth we do it with the same quality that the world does. It's evident in the facilities, the music, and even the events. If you don't have kids you won't understand how big a deal it is. Everything changes when you have kids. A person's view of how and why to live a principled life changes as you pass through stages in life. Crawl, walk, teenager, high school, move out, college, get a real job, get married... raise children. Notice I said "raise" and not "have children". One of my favorite quotes, "Any fool can make a baby but it takes a real man to raise a child." - Chris Young

Molly and I are serious about winning.
So when you finally have the responsibility of leading a child through this world it changes your perspective on everything. You take a greater interest in where the world is heading. What kind of people is it creating? What do they base their decisions on? Who's at the wheel trying to force a direction on you and yours? Suddenly you have a reason to fight for the principles you believe will result in a better future for someone you love. A child who will be here long after you and your wife are gone. We all say we care about other people but until you have a child your burden for world change is moderate. You fight for things that ultimately don't effect you much which clouds your judgement. But when you have your own child out there and their innocence is at stake. Well. Your opinions change. Unless your children aren't your first priority in which case I feel sorry for you.

This weekend I got to see, yet again, how hundreds of children with like minded parents have real fun. My faith and reasoning were reaffirmed. We are blessed to live in a country that allows parents to choose what they believe and pass it on to their children. A country that allows us to fight for and promote the principles we believe in. I'm also glad there's still a vast majority of folks who believe God's Word is the way to live your life.

Chicopee Woods Trails, Oakwood, Georgia

A few good men joined me at the trails on Sunday afternoon for what can only be described as a power packed 3 hours of fun and endurance. And we were not alone. The parking lot was full of great spirited riders from all over North Georgia. I met Trace Nabors at Gainesville College and we speculated on who would show up for our ride because of it's declared value of 3+ hours. Who would be up for it? Hmm.

Trace Nabors and Chad Hayes
We left out around 2:10pm with Dustin Mealor, Craig Tinsley, Chad Edwards, Bill Mashburn, and Matt Williams. Don't ask me why we like to ride from there over to Chicopee Woods but we do. I guess it puts a little twist on what are otherwise the same old trails.

Chicopee Woods Trails, Oakwood Georgia

L-R Chad Edwards, Matt Williams,Bill Mashburn, Dustin Mealor

We hammered our way through the Red Tail Loop before I even thought about eating anything. Cliff Bars are so much more tasty on the trail. A few equipment notes for you: I was on my GIANT Anthem 29, Trace was on his Gary Fisher 29er, Bill and Matt were riding Specialized 29er's, Dustin was on a GIANT Anthem 29, and Chad and Craig were riding GIANT Full Suspension 26 inch bikes. It was a chilly 52 degrees and the wind was blowing. We kept a nice fast endurance pace and everyone stayed pretty much together. Tales of woe were shared and plans for more woe were drafted.

After Red Tail we rode White Tail and took the dreaded Copperhead Gap. This was formerly known as ZigZag. It's the most brutal section of trail out there. Our group held together well until then. Craig decided he'd had enough and once we reached Flying Squirrel he had decided to shortcut onto White Tail and climb back to the parking lot. We all kept riding the Squirrel to it's end and then picked up White Tail.

The intersection of Copperhead and Flying Squirrel

The final climb back to the parking lot is a famous one. There's a large creek crossing and a short rocky section before the gravel road climb actually starts. It takes some skill to navigate without putting your foot down. My goal has always been to traverse the water and then climb the slick rock to the bench without stopping. It's tough enough without wet tires. I think the thought of going down on those rocks scares most people into not taking the risk. I tried...and failed...again. The only bike I've ever consistently made this section on was my Jeep All Wheel Drive. Seriously, it's a mountain bike with built in spider gears that allow you to push both wheels when you pedal. I'll show it to you guys in a post some other time.

Chad Edwards
Matt Williams and Trace Nabors
We climbed out of Chicopee Woods and after 3 hours made our way back to the cars. Everyone was tired. Accept Trace. He had plenty of energy. What a beast. It was a great day to ride with friends. I'm especially impressed with Matt who is kind of a newbie. He had some cool new glasses on anyway.

After the ride I went home to wash the stinky off. And then right on time I was whisked away in the back of a children filled SUV to eat at Mellow Mushroom in Gainesville. The Hayes and Pattillo's... at it again. Boy was I ready for that. I really like that place. It's got real ambiance. Even some panache. And the food is good too.

While we waited on our food we talked and laughed and carried on like families do. But I guess not all families as evidenced by the photo below which has been doctored so I don't get sued. In case you can't tell, the kid is watching a DVD with headphones while his parents ignore each other. Totally unbelievable.

Family Time

Well, that's what I did this weekend. My life is not all that impressive but it's not all that uncommon either. I hope each of you have a great week!

A Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish, which trumps Did Not Start.

Chad Hayes

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What to ride in 2012

I've been asked by my friends what I plan to race and ride this year. What are my goals? Will my training change any? So I thought I'd go throw a list of events I hope to do this year and maybe comment on them a little bit.

Before I do that I'll tell you what I did this weekend. It's nothing as exciting as say, riding in the rain, but I believe it will inspire you guys or at least make you feel better about your mental stability. On Saturday morning I got up at 5:00AM to go to Road Atlanta and help my daughters school. It was the WLA Run Road Atlanta (World Language Academy).

Long sleeve shirt for WLA Run Road Atlanta
Let me set the scene. It was 48 degrees and raining. It was foggy. If there was ever a morning for sleeping in and making up a sad excuse this was it. I didn't think anyone would come out and run in the rain. I was miserable just standing in the parking lot waiting for nobody. But I was wrong. It turns out runners are every bit as crazy about their hobby as we are.

There was a 10K run which began at 8:00AM and then a 5K run at 9:30AM. My wife Lisa helped at registration. It stopped raining for the 10K start which was led out by the Road Atlanta Corvette. I thought that was really cool. It's a 2.5 mile course by the way and as they rounded the back side of it the bottom fell out. I stood under the pavilion roof watching and waiting for the nearly 100 runners to come sloshing down the hill onto pit road. I don't like running but I felt a sort of kinship with these guys. I've been in races in some miserable weather too so I started yelling words of encouragement to them as they ran by.

Running in the rain at Road Atlanta
Many of them started waving and smiling. Others were either concentrating really hard or were angry at the situation they had placed themselves in and therefore had no reaction to my encouragement. So I decided to look around at the expo. There were two different dentists promoting oral hygiene, odd but OK. The Safe Kids folks were giving away bike helmets. I love those guys. FRS was there giving away drinks and my favorite chews. I asked the FRS guys where Tim Tebow was and one guy said "who?" Come on dude, he's your spokesman!
The run was a great success even with the downpours and thunder. Heck if it were a bike race the weather would just make it that much more epic so I guess it's no different if you ran it. Some folks finished and walked around in the rain laughing and talking about the one piece of clothing they should have brought. Others, who had one thing in common...cotton, walked straight to their cars and drove home. You see...cotton, while a perfectly comfortable material around the house, is the worst thing you can wear while competing. It holds your sweat and gets heavy. When it's cold outside it makes you colder. And a soaked cotton shirt sticks to your belly. As you run it creates an indention where your belly button is. Imagine running in the rain and trying to keep your 10 pound cotton shorts up. Pretty funny stuff from the pavilion I just have to say. But my hats off to all those guys. They all finished what I know was a tough course. The awards on this day were definitely earned. Great job runners! And great job WLA!


Before I make this list I need to give you guys a disclaimer in case you show up at one of the events and I'm not there. It's basically a wish list. I hope to do everything on the list but life happens. My list of priorities is short and my love for my family is BIG! Thankfully they love me too and I usually get to race a whole bunch during the year. So here's my list of things to do as it stands right now.

  • Feb 11th - Winter Bike League from Athens to Baxter's Multisport in Gainesville (and back).
  • Feb 18th - Chainbuster 6/9 Hour MTB Race at Tribble Mill Park in Lawrenceville, GA.
  • Feb 25th - Hincapie Training Series Weekend #2 in Greenville, SC. Road race Saturday, Crit Sunday morning at the BMW Test Track.
  • March 10th - Dirty Spokes Duathlon at Ft. Yargo Park, Winder, GA. with my daughter!
  • March 17th - Chainbuster 6/9 Hour MTB Race at Conyers Horse Park.
  • April 14th - State Crit Championships - Macon, GA (this is a big fat maybe)
  • April 22nd - Gone Riding XC Race #1 at Conyers Horse Park (another big fat maybe, Sunday)
  • April 28th - Athens Twilight Crit, Athens GA - my 3rd attempt to qualify for the evening race.
  • May 5th - Chainbuster 6/9 Hour MTB Race at Fort Yargo, Winder, GA.
  • May 12-13 - LAP Century and Gainesville Omnium. Ride Saturday morning, Race in the evening.
  • May 26-28 - National Road Race Championships in Greenville, SC. Planning Hotel stay w/ family.
  • OR May 27 - Hartwell Challenge of the Century
  • July 7th - State Road Race Championships Fairmount, GA
  • July 21-22 - Brenau College Omnium, Gainesville, GA
  • July 25-29 - Georgia Gran Prix. 4 day stage race beginning at Road Atlanta.
  • Aug 18th - Chainbuster 6/9 Hour MTB Race at Paynes Creek Trails, Hartwell, GA.
I'd better stop there. The list looks so big to this point I feel I'll be in trouble since it doesn't include any Century rides that may pop up. There's a beach vacation in there somewhere and we'll be putting on a BPBC Spring Ride again which has a tentative date of May 19th, 2012.

I'm also swayed by my friends. Just like anybody else I have a certain group of friends that I'll jump off a bridge with so if any one of them is dying to do a particular event I try to do it too. There are roadies who like the solitary ride and roadies who need people with them. I'm the latter. I mean who's gonna back up my "fish" stories.

'11 Hincapie Training Series, SeanP, StephenS, Me, DavidS
Let me tell you a little bit about the Hincapie Training Series. Way back when I was a child my first race was at this series. As you can imagine I was scared to death. I'd been riding with groups of around 15 people and then got to the starting line here with 50+ racers. It was a scary feeling let me tell you. I got 4th place that day on the heals of a CAT5 crash caused by some goofball who crossed the yellow line to move ahead with less than 1 mile to go. The others in the peloton were so distracted by him speeding up the outside that they crossed all into each other. It was like the crash happened all around me. I found myself sprinting with a few others at the head of the race and took 4th. My first race convinced me that I needed to hurry up and get out of Category 5. Here's a video from last year. It's a preem sprint I lost. :(

Here's a picture of the BMW Test Track race. It's really a great race because the track is wide open. Plenty of room to dodge catastrophe or advance at will. I blow up every time on the back stretch on the last lap. The draft plays a big role in this one. If you pull out to early the head wind will make you pay.

2010 Hincapie Training Series BMW Test Track
I hope to see a bunch of great friends there this year. It's a great way to start the season in a big way.

Thanks for reading! See you all out there soon!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When is it too cold to ride a bicycle?

Joe Elam breaks his 40 degree rule. Ben Eavenson is blissfully ignorant.
Here in North Georgia we rarely get cold enough weather to really ever make riding outside completely out of the question. A serious roadie will always give the proper consideration to any ride in any temperature if the right people are committed to being there. Some don't even need other people to be there. Some roadies actually like the solitude that cycling provides. For you non-cycling males it's like the solitude derived from mowing the grass (riding mower) on a nice autumn day. You can just settle down in your "nothing box" and ride. The difference being that we roadies actually get some exercise.

This weekend temperatures were going to start out in the 20's. Who wants to ride a bicycle when it's 27 degrees and blowing? Plenty...here's the list: Joe Elam, Ben Eavenson, David Latty, Stephen Sisk, Trace Nabors, Benny Bohanan and many more. I sarcastically dubbed us the "Real Men of Genius".

David Latty the organizer/route man.
When you're standing outside the car, wrapped up in your winter cycling apparel, everything seems completely sane. "It's just a little cold but we'll warm up after we get started." Joe prayed for us and we shoved off. Within 100 meters we began descending the first hill. HOLY SNOW CONE, BATMAN! My joints started hurting. My forehead was stinging. My chin was...missing. Has your face ever been so cold that when you talk it sounds like you're drunk? "No zir, Mizzter Ovvizzer, I haven bin drinking." That's how it was for the next hour. We actually looked forward to the hills because at least then we could generate some heat and ease the wind. We made it to Lula where Ben had a mechanical problem with his bike. I think his bike was trying to bail him out of this ridiculous polar excursion but it didn't know that we bring along our own bike mechanic. Silly bike.

Joe reattaches a broken cable in Lula, GA.
We pressed on as the sun came up higher in the sky. As we passed houses on one open rural road I could see smoke coming from some chimneys. I thought about how warm it must be in there. I thought about how warm it must be back in my bed at home. I thought about hot chocolate and warm biscuits and soft fleecy clothes. I thought about how great it would be if I could feel my pinkie fingers. My thoughts were interrupted when a sweet old lady swung open her front door and yelled, "Y'all can come in here if ya need too!"

After about an hour of torture we all began to warm up and have friendly conversation. Subjects vary on a ride like this. Trace and I debated the effects of frostbite and questioned the actual need for pinkie fingers. I argued the merits of the pinkie fingers and further stated that given the choice I'd rather loose my pinkie toes. The fact is who would know...if you have no toes.

In the end the ride was a success. The frost bitten Real Men of Genius made it home with all appendages in tact. I'm glad Joe broke his 40 degree rule but I doubt he'll do it again. Hey Joe, we finished in 40 degrees, does that work?

On Sunday it was 55 degrees at 2:30pm so I called a Family Biking Day!

Family Biking!!

Thomas and Jessica Pattillo

Parker and Jill Mashburn
 I ran the trail in pursuit of Erin Grace who is getting better and better at negotiating the roots. Then I took on the trail myself for a "Daddy Lap" on which I was taken down by some slippery leaves in a corner. My helmet saved my cranium but did little to stop the impact on my shoulder. So after trail running/pushing the girl for an hour and then my crash and burn I was done. A trip to my favorite burger joint Cheeseburger Bobby's was all I needed. The weekend was complete and my body was shutting down for the evening.

Family biking is not ALL about the biking.
And now here's a little message for the loser's who did this to the bridge at Gainesville College:
Stupid is as stupid does.
My Dad once told me that I could have fun as long as I didn't destroy anything. Especially if it didn't belong to me. Whoever did this and spray painted the dock evidently has no Dad. At least not one that's worth anything. Whoever did this probably needs a hand up...after they get a back hand. Whoever did this should have to stand and watch something they enjoy broken to pieces and then made to earn a new one. Whoever did this should stop believing popular society's lie that loser's are rebels and rebels are cool. Whoever did this should take control of their life and strive to be a winner. They could start by fixing this sad act of vandalism and keep fixing things until they've created a new, winning pattern for their lives. Whoever did this is on a wide road to nowhere. What a stupid thing you did. I hope it haunts you unless or until you make it right. My children and I are very disappointed in you.

January 21st is the WLA Run Road Atlanta! I'll be helping the folks there put on a 5K, 10K, and Fun Run at the famous Road Atlanta race track. It's not cycling, but it's going to be fun!

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

An Extraction Distraction

My riding plan for this weekend was in question all week. I eventually settled on a mountain bike ride with my friend and teammate Trace Nabors. On Thursday it was still good to go. On Friday I had an appointment with my dentist, Stephanie Greene, to check out my back tooth. It was becoming increasingly sensitive to cold and heat. When I got there I was all smiles and giggles. When I left there, on my way to the oral surgeon, I was... not. Just to be clear, my mouth is in pretty good shape. I brush'em twice a day whether they need it or not.  But here's a little nugget of truth you can file away; if there's a cavity under a crown it won't show up on the xray. My thought was to get to the dentist before a little sensitivity became a real costly problem. Oh well. Under that crown was evidently some toxic waste because she had to leave for a minute to clear her head. When she came back she sat next to me and delivered the bad news. My next stop was to have my tooth extracted in preparation for an implant. Yippee.
This little adventure was about to ruin my day. But at least it gives me some material to blog about.

Waiting for the bad news.
I arrived at the oral surgeon's office to find two sweet ladies smiling and laughing. I was their last patient for the rest of the day. It was 12:45pm. I filled out all the forms in triplicate and they called me back. The nurse hooked me up to the "system" which promptly started beeping at her. It monitored my heart rate. She stared at the noise maker for a few seconds and then walked over, tapped a button to shut it up and looked at me. "You must be a runner." she said. "Your heart rate is so low the machine thinks it's a problem." I told her I'm a competitive cyclist which my wife will tell you sometimes is a problem. The Doctor came in and began to look at the xrays from Stephanie's office. "You want me to pull that thing out now or schedule a time for us to put you to sleep?"  I decided that since I was still numb from having the crown cut off earlier and since he could enact some compound numbing AND hook me up with some HAPPY GAS that I'd let him jerk that rotten sucker out now. They both smiled and began happily preparing to commit an act of piracy on my mouth.

The Doctor couldn't believe it when I withdrew my phone for a picture.
Here's where things get a little cloudy. He numbed the entire left side of my face. Bill Cosby comes to mind for some reason. His nurse put the gas hose on my nose and I started to not really care. That gas is some amazing stuff. I closed my eyes and didn't mind at all that he was standing on my chest ripping the tooth from my skull. I could hear the grinding and smell the blood but hey...we're floating around the room...cool. It was like having an out of body experience.

Looking back on it I'm a little uncomfortable. I mean he could have pulled all the teeth out of my head to make a necklace and I'd have kept on floating.  Anyway, he sewed up the hole in my mouth, I paid him to do it and left them there to laugh about whatever I said while under the happy gas. Then I did what any other red blooded American would do...I went to work. The way I figured it I had at least 3 hours before the Novocain wore off, I'm in accounting which doesn't require me to talk with the gauze in my mouth and finally...I'm a guy. I can take it.

I lasted more than 3 hours before finally succumbing to the pain and constant bleeding. I went home and slept as if I just won the battle to save middle earth. My weekend was then filled with salt rinses and playoff football. I did manage to get on my trainer and spin out 5 hours of endurance though. So... I didn't loose a single bit of fitness. If you are reading this and don't think that last sentence was ridiculous then you are as addicted as I am. Admit it.

IWBMATTKYT - If you know what it means you're an addict too.
Ceramic Bearings

For two years now I've periodically logged onto VCRC Ceramic Bearings Facebook page and asked when they plan to make a Ceramic Bottom Bracket for my Giant TCR Advanced SL. I became addicted to ceramic bearings early in my cycling career when I read about how all the pros use them. Ceramic bearings are harder, rounder, lighter and smoother than steel bearings of even the best quality. My first purchase was a bottom bracket for a Litespeed Vortex I wish I still owned. It's the only thing besides wheels that I've ever bought that I could actually feel the difference. So I wanted them on my race bike.

One month ago I received a message from VCRC that they wanted me to test their prototype SRAM bottom bracket. Umm...Yeah! And this weekend that bottom bracket actually showed up at my house!

VCRC Ceramic Bottom Bracket for GIANT road bike.
I called Joe Elam to tell him and we installed it on Monday. This will be a great test for many reasons. Since purchasing the Giant I've also discovered training with a power meter. I've become so addicted to it that I can almost tell you what my power output is without looking at my Garmin. I'm very interested to see if my power output changes based on the "ceramic factor". It may also be a placebo but if it really works can you actually call it that? I mean if you go faster because of physics OR because you think you're better than you are I say it's a positive investment. Although in this case there is no investment, but you know what I mean. 

On with the NEW HOTNESS!
This weekend I hoping to test it at the Winter Bike League ride in Athens. Hopefully it will help me get through 80 miles in freezing temperatures. Otherwise I may call one of you from someones house near Homer, GA to come pick me up.

Have a great weekend my friends!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 New Years Ride

Usually on New Years Day there's a ride out of Gainesville that's become a favorite for local old school roadies. When I got the word that it was not happening this year I decided to put together my own New Years ride. I put the word out and hoped for the best and well...the best showed up.

Top of Woody Gap
I decided to start the ride at 8:00AM from Turner's Corner General Store. I reasoned that if we met early we could get back by lunch and have the rest of the day to spend with family. However the weather once we returned made my plan seem...wrong. I mean when was the last time it was 64 degrees on December 31st??? Instead of starting in 32 degrees we could have waited two hours and started in 45 degrees. But it didn't matter. The guys who showed up were ready for the weather and ready to have a great time on the bike.

Dustin Mealor's wheel change.

I brought left over stuff from 2011 to give anyone that came so if you didn't brave the cold you didn't get the swag. There were goodie bags from the Lt. Governor's ride, t-shirts from the BPBC Spring Ride, and Joe Elam gave everyone a Habersham Bicycles water bottle. I also brought all my cold weather clothing in case someone needed it. And a big bag of medical supplies...in case someone needed it.

Mike Mahalic is a newbie who actually did something newbie's seldom do. He bought a good bike. Newbie's almost always start out on the cheapest, heaviest, poorest shifting bike they can find. It puts them at a considerable disadvantage right from the start. Plus if they actually catch the cycling bug they end up loosing all that money because they figure out what they have isn't what they need. They end up selling their first bike to another poor newbie. It's a vicious cycle. (pun intended).

Mike walked up to me and asked what kind of vests I had. I gave him my wintex Hincapie vest which later proved to be his new best friend. Another newbie in attendance was Trent Smith. He's an experienced mountain biker but was joining us on what was only his second foray on the road. He was riding a "newbie" bike. I basically had to completely redress him. He was layered up like an 80's teen idol. I gave him a thermal long sleeve base layer to go over his regular short sleeve base layer and then he wore a Hincapie wintex jacket. He did have some newly purchased LG lobster claw gloves on though.

Top of Neels Gap aka Blood Mountain
 I opted for my new LG winter bibs and my trusty Hincapie cycling coat. It only seemed like too much during the climb on Wolf Pen when Robert "Young Punk" Loomis drove the pace up until my eyeballs popped out. Otherwise it was perfect.

We set out and climbed our first of three main obstacles for the day Neels Gap or as it's locally known Blood Mountain. This is a long climb. Although not super steep the time spent going up gets in your head. I could feel the nervous energy coming from our two first timers. Trent is a twenty something and a bit kamikaze so it was no surprise to see him powering along with the lead group. Mike however is more cautious. He was trying to pace himself in the face of the unknown. I give him 5 points for being willing to take on the GAP's. Trent gets no credit. He'd jump off the mountain if you told him it would be fun.

Joe Elam is the owner of Habersham Bicycles. He's a great friend and a good Christian man. I'm impressed so much with his integrity that I don't mind constantly shamelessly promoting his shop. Lately he's admitted to being a bit lazy and not riding much so I knew he'd be suffering as well. I've ridden with Joe many times and I can always tell when he's operating at his limit. His breathing becomes more like an epic battle of bodily forces. It's like his mind is saying "keep going", his legs are saying "you can do this", but his lungs are saying "this air is terrible!" He sounds like a sneezing horse. Like his body is rejected the quality of the oxygen in the air. It's very funny. He would say his body is rejecting the quantity of oxygen in the air. I like Joe a lot. Joe gets 5 points for breathing technique.

A good friend of mine once told me that riding in the mountains will teach you all the physics you need to know. A man who weighs 160 pounds may use less energy to get to the top than a 200 pound man but the heavier guy will  use absolutely no energy getting to the bottom and do it faster. Keep in mind I'm talking in the context of group riding, not racing. My example in this case is David Latty. He was the heaviest one of us. But what a heart and what a strong rider. When we started the decent from the top of Blood Mtn. I got passed by him and had to pedal like crazy just to stay close. David did nothing but touch his brakes to scrub speed in the sharp corners. David scores 5 points for being fearless in pursuit of victory over the mountains. The other David (Mr. Shabat) scores points for sporting the new team kit seen here and resplendent with Hayes Automotive. Double points...because they're mine to give.

Top of Wolf Pen Gap
Our next and most testing obstacle (hmm...if that were a compound word what would it be) was Wolf Pen Gap. With pitches up to 13 percent and unending switchbacks this climb seems to never end. I have to say that Wolf Pen is my favorite climb of all the GAP's. There's no traffic, lots to see, and it's a better climb mentally. My favorite phrase when climbing is "It's like eating an elephant...one bite at a time!" If I'm climbing and hanging out it doesn't matter but if I'm resolved to climb fast I need to focus on taking steps up the climb and not just "where's the top!"  So on Wolf Pen it's easy...go to the next switchback...then go to the next one...don't let your mind wonder where the top is. Concentrate only on getting to the next switchback. For me climbing is mental. Or...maybe I'm mental.

Anyway, we all rode together for a while and then like a big dummy I pushed the pace to see who wanted to hammer. Unfortunately Robert Loomis was all about it. He went to the front and shredded us all. Robert losses 10 points for beating up an old man. When I got to the top I turned around and went back down to film and check on everyone. I followed Mike Mahalic with the camera as he made the top.

On the way down the final climb we were moving at the speed of sound when I heard a most disagreeable one. It was the sound of a cell phone smashing onto the pavement. All I saw was the back of someones Smart Phone sliding by my wheel. Once we stopped at the bottom, also known as the Stone Pile, I learned it was Robert Loomis' phone. Not good. He turned around and rode back up to look for the pieces. We all said a little prayer for him and headed on back to the General Store. Our beloved SAG Driver Ralph Atkinson followed him.

We returned to Turner's Corner General Store to find Seth (the Owner) ready to make us some cheeseburgers. When Ralph drove up and I changed clothes I went inside and bought a cream soda and a Zero bar. Don't ask me why, I just wanted it. Robert showed up with a fully functional, snapped back together smart phone and a smile on his face. Each rider found me to say thanks. We all stood around for some time enjoying the sunshine and talking about our journey. It was a nice morning on the bike for some and an epic undertaking for others but we all enjoyed the ride.

On the way home Stephen Sisk and I reminisced about some crazy weather we've ridden in. We've been caught in the snow 24 miles from home. We've seen the effects of 110 degrees on tires. The Gap's always produce a story. Maybe not for us today but I'm sure our friends made great memories. Above all we remained safe. Thanks for coming guys! 10 points for everyone!