Thursday, February 27, 2014

BTS - That’s how we roll

Last night Todd and I were getting ready to head out for some chilly laps at west creek.

I was almost all geared up and realized I had left my knee/leg covers at home. Dang!
I was wearing full calf socks, but that still left my knees and about 1/3 of my upper legs exposed... So I desperately was trying to figure out how to repurpose any other gear I had. It was not looking good.

Todd rolled up and I explained my plight. Todd offered to go back to his house and get his spare warmers and I tried to decide if I could make the extra gear I had work. Todd realized my attempts would not work well and talked me into the idea of him driving back to his house and getting his extra warmers.

What a team mate! Todd made a round trip to his house and got his knee warmers and I got to ride in relative comfort. We knocked out several laps until both of us got really cold.

It's awesome to have such a great team mate and riding partner!

That’s how we roll on the Design Physics Racing team.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuesday's Poor Farm BTS

I keep hoping to be surprised and see someone on the team show up at the parking lot, but alas, the lot was empty.  I admit as usual I did not want to ride at lunch, 37 degrees and gray, it just felt cold.  But also as usual, after I warmed up I had a fun time and was glad I did it.  Got in exactly an hour of riding.  The trails were in great condition except the bottoms which are still a very soggy mess and so were avoided.  I had to go look at the river though.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The KID holding you down...

Felt bad for Plassmido & Toddy G so I only took away 1 point for each mile Mason rode last week.  For this week I will limit it to to only the top placed rider in the BTS...

Got out again with Roger on Thursday and had another great ride.  Sweet 25 mile loop with a nasty headwind had us limping home.  I did save enough to attack on the last hill up into Rocketts.  Good times!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

BTS#21 Is it spring yet?

Todd and I met up at West Creek and it was uncharacteristically pleasant... No ice, no snow (on the road) and temps about 60F!

I reflected on how much easier it was to get ready for a ride when you don't have to put on layer after layer. No toe warmers to fuss with and I did not mind getting dressed outside of the car. It's been a while since I could basically just get on my bike and go, and that felt great!

The weather was nice enough that bats were out and one in particular seemed to be following just overhead of me. That's weird because bats usually fly around like huge moths on crack darting around nonexistent light posts. This one was odd, flying basically in a straight line with me. Maybe it's the high pitch squeals and noises emanating from my neglected derailleur pulleys...

West creek had it's typical pockets of warm and cold air and it felt nice to work up a sweat.

I pulled us around and played a little cat and mouse with a fellow rolling on a time trail bike. We caught up with him for a bit, and then he lit it up and pulled out sight. Seemed like he got on 288!

Towards the end of lap five I had some good burn going on in my quads and we finished out a solid set of laps. Back at the cars I noticed how the parking area was still surrounded by gravel encrusted icebergs left by snow plows almost a week ago.

Is it spring yet?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Weekly Poor Farm BTS

The woods in Ashland are still covered with snow, so to protect the trails today's BTS ride was again a Hanover Country road ride.  I did a 24 mile loop, but this time routed it through some major hills.  Included were Fire Training Hill (on Winston Road, which borders Poor Farm Park), and one of the 3 sisters (the notorious 3 big hills just leaving Ashland on Blunts Bridge Road).

Well it wasn't below freezing today, but the wind was incredible!  In a cross wind I had to lean to the side to prevent from being blown over.  I (luckily) started out in a headwind so could finish in a tailwind.  It's interesting how psychological training/riding is- in the headwind I was feeling dark thoughts about Monster Cross this weekend, wondering if I am ready, why do I race, etc., then in the tailwind I felt so strong I had thoughts of "Man, I should have registered for the full 50 miles instead of the 22 mile Mini-Monster".

The point-requisite photo below.  Yes, I'm hiding behind my Jeep- I didn't want the Town of Ashland employees next door to think I'm vain...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Miami - the race that almost did not happen

Back in late fall I found out I had to go to Miami for a work related conference on Presidents day weekend. Planning out the 2014 season I saw the first race for Xterra state side was that weekend. So we decided to do a weekend in Miami and include the race and see if i could muster some early season points. Xterra makes you gather points in your age group to qualify for US Nationals in September.

All looked good on paper...

Conference went without a hitch at the Fountainblue in Miami Beach. If you have ever watched TV or heard about the Miami scene this is the epicenter. Not the most ideal pre - race week, but made due with long nights and long days on the feet.

Then things got interesting..I shipped my bike via FedEx two day ground on Monday which was half the cost of bringing it on the plane which again was good on paper; however, mother nature was conspiring against me. By Friday the bike was still in NC due to the storm. FedEx got the bike on a plane and was fairly confident it would be in Miami by Saturday. Saturday was less then 24hrs before race time the bike did make it to Miami but never made it to Saturday delivery. FedEx informed me the bike was at a facitliy in north western Miami and I could drive to get it. I was then informed that that facilitiy was closed on weekends. Great, now in Miami with no bike. A rep at FedEx was able to get someone on the phone at the facility at 10AM and let me know if I could get to the security gate by 3PM they MIGHT let me get the bike. So, I got the directions and took off from Key Biscayne to a fedex site to talk them into getting me my bike. Four hours later and a super cool secruity guard and a more super cool fedex dude who had to unload a truck to get my bike did....I had my bike in hand! Its 3:30pm now and to preride some of the course I had to be off the grounds by 5:30. I booked back to the bike shop and assembled the bike in an alley behind the shop because they were so busy with the race. 4:15 done, off to the course. I get one loop in of the most technical single track but was not able to preview the run or swim. Gonna half to wing this one. As I am leaving the parking lot to go back to hotel, my neck was starting to tingle. I had gotten bit by a spider or insect on the cheek and now I was swelling up on the face. Great, off to CVS for some benydril cream... What a day......

Good night with the family, catching up on their day at the  hotel. They had a blast with a ton of kid activities and my daughter ended up making a ton of new friends. Good news was...i was not missed on Saturday.

The next day proved that the race gods were on my side. I must have done enough begging and pleading the day before that karma was on my side. The weather was perfect and the sunrise at the race site was amazing.
In Fisher fashion we were first to rack our bikes and get a prime location in transition. Warmed up, got on my race suit and speed swim suit and headed a half mile up the beach for the swim start and a warm up swim. Todays race was going to be 500m swim, 10mile mountain bike, 4 mile trail run with one mass wave start.

Great shot of Maddie and I at sunrise.

Pre-swam out and noticed a very strong current from right to left. Looked like the tide was coming in and we had to swim straight to a bouy then make a right up 1/2 mile to transition. As I pre swam i noticed the sea grass a the bottom was moving  hard left. Getting some fast feet to follow was going to make or break this swim. I knew if I had any chance to place in the top 10 I had to be with the lead pack in the swim. Warm up done....gun goes off and I sprint hard the first 200 m to make the break. Once out to the first turn i make the pack and swim right in the middle of  five guys. Perfect spot.
Kate said the current was so hard that the back half of the field got pulled way left. Glad to have made the break. I swam 70% in the draft but the effort to get around was so hard with the current. I decided after two attempts to stick on the feet and save some in the tank..Got out of the water and Kate yelled I was in 11th overall. some work to do.

Hit a fast transition and out on the bike.

The bike was 1 mile of road to 2 loops of 4 miles of super twisty technical single track. Not much different then back home in Freedom. A lot of man made features that keep a big smile on my face.  By the second loop i was jonesing for more course and felt like i was flying. The bike was awesome. 1x11 on the 29r was perfect and I could not believe the acceleration the bike had. Could not have been happier on this amazing racing rig.

Picked off two guys but got passed by one in the traffic on the second loop. This course did not allow you to peg it the whole way so I was interested to see how much was in the tank for the 4 mile run. Super fast into transition 2 to feet on the shoes with a dude right in front. This was gonna be one heck of a run with four of us within 45 sec of each other. They say you ride for show but run for dough. Did I have enough dough in the bank...

Came out of transition in 10th with another fella ahead. The first mile was all sand running to the first WATER crossing.

I usually struggle on the run, but today felt different. After the 1st water crossing at mile 1 the legs were coming around and I was able to start pushing the pace in the solid 6:30's we picked up another runner and now the three of u were shoulder to shoulder. We came into a field and saw 6th and 7th. I took it up a notch and decided to hunt down 6th and 7th with thoughts that maybe a top 5 was possible. After a long fire road false flat climb I heard the other two fade off and I was on my own. We hit along road straight away and i saw the other two 30sec by my count. I had two miles left and knew I had to make up 15 sec per mile and started digging. We hit another sand section out and back and it was down to 10sec with 1 mile to go. Then I hit the final water crossing...

I came out of the trail on the far side middle of this pic and said holy &*^. Dove in and started to swim the channel. The current was incredible. I swimming as hard as I could and felt like I was not moving with two wet racing flats on my feet that felt like concrete. I made it across and could not see the two in front. Scrabbled to the trail and saw them at 15 sec again. I gassed in for a half mile but came up short by 10 sec. What a race.....

Ended up 8th overall and 1st in my age group which gave me some solid points in the hunt for a US champ spot.

Great course, and fun competing not knowing a soul. I would do this race again in heartbeat. My daughters ride to airport summed up the day....

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Training with fat tires on the road and cobbles

Today’s ride looked a little bleak at 11:00am. There was still a fair amount of rain rolling through and it felt pretty chilly outside.

A quick check of the radar showed the system blowing out of town so I geared up and headed for Dogwood Dell. No one else from the team joined me by the bark park, so I headed across the nickel bridge to meet up with David Reid, Denelle, and Joe Fish.

When I got to Denelle’s I realized Brandy was there for the ride rocking out  proper Design Physics race kit. Now we had a solid crew together.

The 1st two hours of the ride was spent heading out on Riverside Dr. to Cherokee and finally Old Gun. We turned around at Robious Rd. and made an out and back climb detour on Cheyenne.

There was still a lot of snow on the ground and the roads were sandy with potholes and lots of snow melt run-off. As we made our way back to Forest Hill Park, the call of Crossroads coffee lured us in for a nice break from the cold and some much needed comfort food.

Joe, David, and me split off to ride another hour or so through the city including the flood wall and a climb up the cobbles next to Poe’s Pub.

We finished up riding through the canal walk and Browns Island and took the Manchester bride back to Riverside to finish things up.

It was a great day for a training ride and the sun made it out just towards the end of it.

I’m glad I stayed off the trained and got to spend the day making the best of conditions with friends.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fresh Tracks

SnowRide BTS points?   I was headed to the library anyways so.....

I dusted off the sled and headed out to get some fresh tracks.
The slopes were a little crowded at Meadow and Cary despite the heavy precip.

But Floyd Avenue was nicely groomed and I had the whole run to myself, straight to Cabell Library where they were letting it snow inside for some reason.

I dug into some seismic structural design for a few hours until they shut the place down.
On the way back to my hood the groomers were getting a little tracked out and icy so I practiced my long distance skids and then hit the alleys in search of untouched powder stashes.

Conditions were all time as I traversed over to Byrd Park for some off trail powder shredding.

After a few laps my feet were feeling the chill so I headed back to the house for a footwear change and the dog.  We went back out for more laps around the lake and stayed out until snow changed to ice around midnight.

Good snow times, and the most saddle time I've gotten in a while. 


Sublime night snow ride in the RVA

Riding around Richmond in the snow last night was sublime.

I left the house about 8:00pm thinking I would roll around the hood and finish up on the trainer. Turned out I was having so much fun that I just kept riding and ended up over at Forest Hill park after riding some single track at Dogwood Dell.

There was not much traffic, save for the occasional snow plow I had to dodge.
Carytown looked very nice and the store lights contrasted very well with the snow.

I was really glad I had on proper kit, and later would find out that bringing the goggles was a solid move.

As made my way to the Carillon tower it was nice to see how many people were enjoying the snow. I admired how cool the tower looked back lit by the spotlights in a winter storm background.

I switched on my lights and knocked out some Dogwood Dell single track, err… snowpath. I was amazed at the silence, except when I used my brake.

As I crossed the nickel bridge I noticed how cool the James river looked with it’s rock outcrops iced in snow against a cold black river.

I saw people walking in the middle of the bridge and said “Hi”. That’s when I realized it was closed.

Next I spent some time wandering through Westover Hills and made my way over Coqui Cyclery. All those sweet Giant bikes inside a warm dry store looked like a Christmas card!

I rode back through some sections of Forest Hill park and ten crossed back over the nickel bridge. There was a news truck at the top waiting to broadcast more hype and fear. I was glad to be out embracing the beauty.

Just before I got to the toll both on the other side, a train came barreling under the bridge. Man that was an awesome scene from above in the snow.

I started my way back home and the snow and wind had really kicked up. Now I had an adventure!

My glasses iced over.

OK, so now I donned my goggles and sub par eyesight. Thank goodness for those goggles!

The rest of the ride home got a bit colder as the snow grew deeper and I was riding into the wind and snow. Now my goggles started fogging. I was glad there was little traffic as I was riding blind. After another 15 minutes of slippery riding dodging more snow plows I finally arrived home to a somewhat worried wife.

What an awesome ride that turned out to be!

Snow ride or no ride??!!

I do believe I'll take the snow ride. I started out the day Wednesday pretty determined to ride at Westcreek but things don't always go as planned. Jeffro had expressed some concern for the impending  doom of snowmageddon and let me know that he wouldn't be there to pull me around this week. Shucks!!!

My oldest son River got off the bus coughing telling me how awful he felt. He's been coughing a little since Monday, but today it sounded a little tighter. He was looking kind of pale so I felt his forehead hmm kind of warm. A thermometer confirmed. We called the pediatrician "sorry we're closing early" WTF??? OK kidmed(patient 1st for kids) here we come. No wait sweet! Might just make the six o'clock ride time after all. Tests came back positive for strep!!! We head to walgreens for the drugs. It seems there was a mad rush for drugs!!! We had to wait quite a while. Finally we were heading back to Manakin from Shortpump. Driving conditions were declining rapidly!!! Getting off the Westcreek exit at approx. 6:10 the place was total chaos!!! Cars backed up as far as the eye could see to get on 288 south. I started questioning my plan to ride there at this point. I only live about 3 miles from there so the driving to get there didn't really worry me.  Competing with that many inexperienced snow drivers on a bicycle did!!!(car vs. bicycle no contest)
Anyway upon walking in the door I got a friendly call from walgreens to let me know they forgot some of his prescriptions. BAM, back on the road to Shortpump. Uhhgg!!!(Did I mention I kind of loathe the area?) Dejavu slow drive from Manakin to Shortpump and back.At least River wasn't in the car w/ me on this trek.  Made it home safely by 8!!!

Time for a snow ride!!! I suited up, got my lights and out the door I went. There are a couple miles of walking trails and horse trails in neighboring communities that were fun to ride all snow covered at night!!!

It wasn't exactly what I planned but it was a lot of fun, a heck of a lot safer and destressed me after a pretty stressful afternoon! Hey when life hands you lemons... well I'm sure you know the rest...
Look at that smile, totally destressed

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Poor Farm BTS

Tuesday's lunchtime Poor Farm Ride was similar to the previous week, if it weren't for BTS I wouldn't have gotten out there!  It was cold.  They said it was 28 (evidence below), but it felt colder than that.  I had forgotten my booties but Tom had a good idea of using plastic bags between my socks and shoes, it worked great!  Fingers, even with what I call my "lobster claw" gloves, were still cold though. 
The trails were in good condition in the upper sections, I avoided the lowlands as they were still mucky.  Very pretty day- bright and sunny, and saw two deer.  Seeing deer at Poor Farm has become an every-ride occurrence almost. 
Again, I was alone, just me and my bike, the beast, below.  (Industry Nine wheels taking a break waiting for race season.)  Have I said I love my Giant?

Tuesday at Powhite Park

Unexpectedly I had some free time and decided I would head out for a Ride at Powhite Park.  I started in the light of day and got in a couple of laps before the sun went down.  As the darkness set in the my anxiety level ramped up, this was my first time riding at night since I broke my hand.
 It felt good to get back out at Powhite and get some good night laps in.  Jason was right, the trails were in great shape considering the winter we are having.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


It looks like the KID had a heavier winter load than normal leading up to her power test week...  Doing some damage to our leaders Plassmido & Toddy G.  Mason logged 95 miles which took the leaders down 190 points.  Currently on a light week with only three days on the bike but look out for the following week, looks like she is riding six days! 
Plassmido & Toddy G are going DOWN!!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 Pantani Ride was a knock out!

34 F and overcast at the start... perfect Pantani weather

After the usual pleasantries and pre ride accolades we rolled out at a nice civil pace on Markwood Rd.

Photo: Charlottesville Racing Club pb Blue Ridge Cyclery
Pretty soon we made the left onto Davis Shop Rd. and Bam! The hammer drops and the pace heats way up at the front. I dig just enough to decide I’ll save some for later.

Plassmido's point of view

The riders were spreading out and then some jerk in a station wagon starts bearing down on the us and is not driving safe at all, trying to bully his way past. The driver was waving his or her hands in disbelief and rage. Hey but nugget, it's a back country road, you need to chill before you hurt someone.

Toddy G.  mentions to me that we are probably at the tail end of the lead group… I said “Yeah, but we are at the front end of the fun group”.

We got further into the gravel back roads and hit the first real climb that leads to a fire road descent. We were greeted by the very enthusiastic cheer squad, one guy wearing just a jock strap (mind you it's about freezing).

After cresting the climb and recovering from the image of a nearly naked man I started bombing down the fire road turns. I noticed a guy on a blue pivot passing me and taking the corners pretty fast, I sped up a bit to keep him in range. The gravel was pretty dicey, a bit slick with moisture and some sections loose pebble like top cover. I backed off and watched the other rider bombing into nearly blind corners on the inside line, a bit to risky for my tastes.

Then we turned onto Browns Gap Turnpike and I mentally put it back into high gear and started pounding the pavement... looking to catch a fast train. After working with a few groups, a pretty solid pace line developed and moved out towards mission home. We picked up Tom Haines and kept it moving.
Now that's a Rook, checkmate
We got to the mission home climb and I was surprised how quickly we arrived at the top, lots of momentum from that train. Then a crackin fire road descent.

We turned left onto the major climb up Simmons Gap. I was having trouble getting my water bottle into my jacket pocket and luckily got a hand from a fellow rider. My jacket was stuffed full of bottles, extra gloves, food…

I fell off the back of the group a bit on this climb as I struggled to much down on a cliff bar. Later, as I finally worked my way to the top of the climb, I was glad I had got the extra energy I needed from the brick of nutrition.

As I neared the top I fumbled with my jacket zipper. Lack of hand dexterity can be so frustrating when your claws are dumbed down by clown gloves.

I opened up suspension, dropped into the fire road descent, and at the 1st major turn... Drama! A rider who was running back up the hill flagged me down, I saw why in a moment as I came up to where another rider had tossed it and was laying nearly motionless on the ground.

I quickly tried to assess his condition:
Was there any blood? Not really.
Any body parts pointing the wrong way? Nope.
I told him to keep calm and just stay where he is...
Next I make sure his bike was off the road, hey it's that blue pivot from before...

Alright, I start asking him concussion questions:
What day is it... “Saturday”.. Nope
Who's the president... “Where are we?” Pantani ride, easy just relax...
“Are we in a race?”... Pantani ride. Dude, I think you got Knocked out
OK help is arriving... I tell the help that it looks like he got a concussion...

Ok, so we have the unofficial winner of the Pantani KTFO

Soon I was back on the bike and taking the descent with a bit more in reserve than before. Dropping down the descent was super cold and stripped almost all warmth from my body. On the connecting paved road section between the bottom and Broken Back Mountain road I was freezing, My hands burned from the cold. I tried to stay as aero as I can to keep the cold from getting into my core. I took some relief knowing that clawing my way up Broken Back Mountain would heat me up like a stove.

The climb up broken back is always steeper and longer than I remember. I guess you block those things out of your good memories of a ride. Then, finally it eases up. There is  slight reprieve before you face a gravel wall on the way back up to the top of Simmons Gap.

Sweet! There's a PBR hand up at the top, it's never tasted so good!

Next up was the loooong fast descent all the way down back down Simmons Gap Rd. and the completion of the lollipop.

I met up with a rider at the intersection who needed confirmation on which way to turn. We worked together and traded pulls all the way back to Markwood Rd.

I popped off the back just a bit on Markwood, but still managed to keep the other rider in my sights, maybe 30 seconds back the rest of the way back to Allen Dr.

When I rolled in I found Tom H. and Joe Fish recovering in Tom’s Honda Pilot and I jump into the warmth. Chocolate milk followed by a peanut butter banana sandwich. Then the icing on the cake, a nice strong IPA. Awesome ride!

As usual, my body was pretty tired and I was left hungry… hungry for the next big ride!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

BTS - Saturday Double

BTS option #2 for Saturday included Jimmy Fisher, Roger Sattler, Mason & myself.  We were all meeting on the road as we were making our way over to Powhite Park.  Somehow Mason & I missed Jimmy as we were starting off expecting a head on meeting.  We were on one side of the flood wall and Jimmy was on the other.  That put us at Tredegar and Jim at our house...  Meanwhile, Roger was making his way over to our second meeting point The Richmond Waldorf School.  A quick call to Roger sent him to Forest Hill to meet up with the three of us.  We took our time and Roger headed back to the school...  Once we finally all met up, it was smooth sailing.  This was one hour into what should have been a 20 minutes trek to meet up.  We did take a quick break as Mason passed out some French toast cakes.  Then we hit the road to Powhite.  It was a simple spin over there and then we were on the dirt, the crazy dry dirt that is Powhite.  The trails were in such great shape, totally opposite of downtown.  We followed Mason all over the park and decided to head home about 2:20 into the ride.  Dropped Roger at Westover Hills and then Jim at Tredegar before heading home with the KID.  She was cooked as we were out over three hours and she was not prepared for that.  She was wishing she had been less generous with the French toast cakes...  Another great BTS ride for sure.  10 bonus points for the OG factor, 10 demerit points for Jimmy as he was out of kit.  20 bonus points for Jim as he ran after our 3 hour ride!
Checking out Roger's sweet Breezer.  Don't overlook Jimmy's sweet new Giant Advanced SL 29er.

Great team BTS ride

What a great early morning BTS ride!

Rolling into the parking lot I saw more team jerseys than I had planned on. Tom F. was the only confirmed rider, and Jason B. was a maybe. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Tom, Jason, and Dave H. suiting up and getting for a chilly ride.

We rolled out and within a few hundred feet we witnessed the carnage from other people riding the fire roads that were obviously to muddy. In some spots it looked like a roller derby with baby carriages had blown through! That’s what happens when a bunch of cross bikes roll through inch deep mud.

This morning the roads were much drier and we got bounced around by all the grooves left from what I’m guessing was last Sunday’s muddy Sunday. We skipped the Bright Hope / Horse side of trails because I suspected they would be too muddy.

The four of us knocked out a solid 23 miles and then Tom and I went out for a second helping to get a total of 38 miles in.

I felt much better as I finished off my Red Eye from Starbucks and headed home for the days chores.

It was great to have a good team presence and I’m glad we all got to ride together.

Next up… Pantani!