Friday, December 28, 2007

Snow Tubing! Yippie!

Let it Snow!

Well the snow has finally arrived! After a week of mild weather, we're finally getting some snow. Hopefully we will get enough snow to go snow-tubing later today. I got in a decent ride yesterday, but today its looking like running will be the preferred activity. Tomorrow we head to my parents house and they don't have internet (gasp!), so I doubt I'll be able to blog anything after tomorrow morning. Its still raining in Georgia, so I doubt I'm missing out on much.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Heat Wave

Yes, it was 43 and sunny today so it was BEAUTIFUL. I managed to get out on a borrowed bike for a 1.5 hour spin around the Lake Forest area. I hear its raining in GA, so I'm thankful that we at least have had clear and sunny weather for the past few days. I bought some new cold weather gear before heading up here, so I haven't been cold on any of my outdoor workouts. Its hard to believe I whine and complain about riding when it gets down in the 30's and 40's in GA, especially since I've been doing relatively well up here dealing with the cooler temps. Tomorrow I'm going to try a bike/run brick in the morning before perhaps doing some shopping later in the day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Up North

Merry Christmas to all! We have been in Illinois since Saturday night celebrating the holidays and eating lots of Christmas cookies. It hasn't snowed yet, so we're hoping for some tomorrow. I'm bikeless, but not going too crazy as I've been doing a good bit of running in preparation for the upcoming Georgia Navigator Cup in mid January. The weather has been good by Chicago standards - mid 20's to 30's and sunny. I might go for a ride tomorrow on a borrowed bike, as I'm not used to this much running and my hamstrings are really feeling it. I need to find a trail though, as I've been running on pavement and I think I've seen all there is to see in the Lake Forest neighborhoods. Lake Michigan is nice and frozen, and I can't help but laughing at all the "No Beach Parking" signs that I've seen in the neighborhoods. At least I'll be used to the cold for the first Snake Creek Gap Time Trial!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One More Day...

That's right..only one more day until I get to officially relax for 12 days. No dealing with work, no thinking of work, and best of all... no work...period. With all the drama at the office lately, this comes just in time as I really need a break from it all. Unfortunately we are headed to the land of snow and ice, (Chicago) which means no riding for me. I might be able to get on the trainer on someone else's bike, but that is never the same. The first Snake Creek Gap time trial might be a rough one for me, seeing as I'll be coming out of base and I haven't done any quality technical riding in two months. At least its best out of three, so I'll have plenty of time to get my act together. I'm looking forward to my 12 days off so that I can catch up with family, the husband, and our three cats.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why it's good to be a MTB'er who runs...

This is why...

Yes, that is FREAKING ICE on those trees!! It was a pretty miserable day for riding..temps in the 30's and a 20-30 mph Neal, Jon B, and I headed up to Suches to do a trail run from Woody Gap to Neels Gap and back. The entire trip was 21.2 miles and took us just under 5 hours. I'm still in base mode, so I had to keep the HR under control on the uphills. We did see some poor unfortunate souls riding their road bikes at Neels Gap. I was shivering just thinking about those descents and the wind gusts. Brrr! Trail running is SO MUCH BETTER than riding when the temps are in the 30's.

I'm not quite sure what Neal was doing with this must have been the cold affecting his brain. We did see some peeps camped out in a tent on one of the rock outcrops atop Blood Mtn. I'm pretty sure they stayed in their sleeping bags all day. Ok, time to get the hell outta here before I freeze. Hot chocolate awaits at the store at Neels Gap.

Notice that TEENY TINY ray of sunshine off in the distance? That didn't actually shine on us until the last 5 minutes of the run when we were a half mile from the car. And all those trees in the background? Looks like an excellent place for an O-course in the next Berwald adventure race...wink wink. The run went well and I'm not sore YET. I carried my usual pack with extra useless weight for extra added suffering. (I will be a huge Spartan beast and carrying Neal's pack in races when I am done with all this training!) Despite the cold temps and blistering wind, I wasn't cold except for 15 minutes after the store stop. Normally store stops violate one of my rules of cold weather training (no fires, no store stops, no whining), but the guys were going in, so I figured a cup of hot chocolate wasn't a bad idea.
I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning bikes, swapping tires, and converting my IF into a singlespeed, so I'll likely be taking it to Blankets for a spin sometime this week. I'll have to wait until I'm out of base before I think about taking it up to North Georgia. We're heading to Illinois for the Holidays, so hopefully I'll be able to get some decent rides in before we leave on Saturday. I'm not taking a bike, so I'll be spending a lot of time running.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Scott Scale 15 Test Ride

I FINALLY had a chance to ride my new Scott Scale 15 today. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with just about everything about this bike. It handled remarkably well and had nice quick steering. The fatty 2.25" Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires corner like nothing else and are so cushy that I don't even notice that I'm riding a hardtail. The front end is really light, so it rolls nicely over most obstacles without much effort. In fact, this bike is so light that I may be blown off the trail given a strong enough wind. Acceleration??? Yeah, we got that too. This bike is way more efficient than my full suspension. I even tried out a new saddle and it seemed to be pretty comfy. The only thing that needs tweaking are the grips and the handlebar. The Scott geometry seems to agree with my proportions a bit better than the Turner, so I may have a new favorite bike. Tomorrow I'll actually hit the dirt before it gets dark, so I'll test it out on some rougher, steeper terrain and see how it does. Once it gets dark I'll meet up with the OutSpokin' crew for a night ride.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Orienteering Meet - Done

Whoo hoo! We are finally done with our orienteering meet. It was a success with beautiful weather and challenging courses. The turnout was great and there were no major issues. No gear was lost or stolen and we raised a bunch of awareness about the Orienteering Club based on our presence at such a busy park. Thanks to Neal, Julia, and Andreas for helping set up and pick up bags. The courses were fairly physical and featured some great sights as well as some unruly thickets. Most serious competitors came back scratched up and bloody. The weekend hikers thought there was some kind of flesh sacrificing ritual going on after seeing all the battered bodies.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bull Mtn Mock Race

Today I spent the day running around in the woods with Julia and Bill Fletcher at the TrailBlazer's Bull Mountain Mock Race. We started off on foot with a 5 point orienteering course. Julia wanted to get more exposed to navigation so I gave her our map and we headed out on foot. The O-course was mostly bushwhacking, so it was a fairly tough exercise for someone just learning. We had a few bumps along the way, but nothing too severe. Julia learned about what land features look like on a map and that those really tight contours are generally a no-no. The highlight of this section was when we did some ridiculous traverse/scramble along a cliffline that I was just thinking wow..I'd probably break a leg if I fell from up here... We then had to find a way down so we used a crooked old rhodo tree as a rope to lower ourselves low enough to then stand on Bill's shoulder for a step as the damn cliff was undercut. Leave it to us to make a walk in the woods full of danger and adventure!

The next section was a bike-o along the Bull Mtn trail. All of these checkpoints were right along the trail so this section went pretty quickly for us. The biggest challenge was clearing the steep uphill sections. The combination of wet roots, rocks, and leaves made some sections a lot more challenging than usual. Julia took a huge pile of mud right in the face, which probably didn't do much to help her see where she was going.

Our final section was a combination bike/hike that was mostly along the Turner Creek trail system. Most of the points only required a short hike, but the attack points off the trail were key. The toughest point on this section physically was one way at the top some bigazz mountain. We started hiking up, and up, and up some more. It seemed like it took forever to get to the top. After that little jaunt in our bike shoes, I was glad to be back on my bike once we returned to the bottom.

We finished the event about 3:35 and promptly loaded up the car and headed home. I managed to leave my shoes there, as I had stashed them under the car. I heard the tires run something over when I backed up, but I still didn't make the connection. Perhaps I need to install an undercarriage camera to go with the back up camera. One on the roof would be good too, as I couldn't even tell you how many gloves and shirts I've lost from driving off with them still on the roof.

Tomorrow is our big O-meet. I hope it all goes smoothly and that no one steals any of our E-punch bags.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

This is pretty impressive... How much inflatable crap can you possibly have in your front yard??? I think there are 9 of them! Then we have the driveway lined with light-up candy canes (which you can't see very well) and Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus..and he's on my neighbors roof complete with a full size sleigh. But where's Rudolf?? Oh wait, it's deer season and people like to shoot anything with antlers in these parts. It is even more impressive at night. I wanted to get a pic but all the lights were out today...I'm waiting for the entire neighborhood to go dark when the transformer blows from all the juice this guy needs to power his light display.

Well if that wasn't enough to get you into the Christmas spirit, then how about this...

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME! Finally, my new Scott Scale 15 Hardtail has arrived! I can't wait to take it for a spin.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Blankets Creek Dirty Duathlon

Yes, you heard it here first...Registration for the Blankets Creek Dirty Duathlon is officially open! This will be the first ever competitive event held at the Blankets Creek Trail System. All proceeds will go towards the trail building costs associated with the new North Loop Trail, which may be complete as early as March if the weather holds up this winter. What does this mean to you???? 3.7 more miles of built and maintained singletrack with easy access to about 5 more miles of 4-wheeler trails around Lake Allatoona.
Race information and registration forms can be found on the official race blog. Check it out!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Recovery Week Here I Come!

Whew! I just finished my third week of base/strength training. I logged 18 hours of bike, run, weights, and swim this week which was a bit above what my training plan called for. The weather has been great and I was able to get outside almost every day this week.

This coming week I'm taking a Triathlon Swimming class at the YMCA in an attempt to isolate and hopefully fix some of my stroke deficiencies. I don't spend a lot of time on my swimming, but I like to get in the pool twice a week because I feel it helps my overall fitness. Its a five night class so hopefully it will help me improve my technique.

Chris and I are also finishing up our planning and mapping for the Orienteering Meet we are directing next weekend for the Georgia Orienteering Club at Vickery Creek in Roswell, GA. The park has some interesting features including a cool "trail" that traverses a cliff over the river as well as some fairly unforgiving vegetation. The venue hasn't been used for a while, so hopefully everything will run smoothly.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tired of Blankets?

Yup, I sure am. I've been putting in more hours than usual on the bike lately, and to do that I've had to do a lot of riding in the dark. So where do I go?? Ugh..Blankets...ugh! Yes, its safe, conducive to base rides, and within riding distance, but I swear I'm going to go crazy very soon. I don't know how those 4-5 times a week Blankets "regulars" haven't given up riding all together. Don't they know there's a bright, big world outside of Blankets? I'm counting the days until I can get my heartrate high enough to get back out to Pine Log and Pinhoti. Oh ridiculously steep, rocky pitches, how I miss thee...

Instead of dealing with the masses on the usual trails, I rode the new not-officially-open-yet North Loop, which took me over to the Goldmine Area where I did some nice powerslides down the steep pitches, thanks to six inches of leaf cover. I saw some dirt bike guys out there so I'm hoping they roughed in some new lines. I then headed out into the lake bed where I rode for several miles along the shore. It was actually a pretty good workout since there are plenty of rocks to work the balance. If you're tired of the usual trails, the lakebed is a great option...there is plenty of real estate and no worries about getting shot for trespassing either.

For the evening's workout, Neal and I jogged from my house over to Tony Berwald's place for a little night navigation practice. The jog involved crossing Lake Allatoona, which was no big deal, since all that remains is a small trickle from the Lake's tributaries. When we started the Night-O, we couldn't find the first checkpoint. Either it had been stolen or we were just completely incompetent. No one else we talked to found it either, so perhaps we're just all incompetent. The verdict will come tomorrow when Tony goes out to pick up the checkpoints. The rest of the course involved a lot of muddy lake crossings and a maze of 4-wheeler trails that I generally tried to avoid, since taking random trails is the best way to get off course quickly. We found the rest of the checkpoints and finished up the course in a little over 2 hours. Tony had a cooler of beer waiting at the end, but all I wanted was a coke.

I'm now mulling over where to ride tomorrow. Its most likely going to be road as all my usual mtb ride buddies are either out of town or broken. One more day and then I'm onto a recovery week..hooray!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Night Rides

That's what most of my riding has been lately. I'm only able to get about an hour in during daylight, then its time to turn on the NiteRider. The weather has been good lately so the rides have been fairly pleasant. Since I'm in my base training phase, I spend most of my time riding alone, so I guess its good that I'm not afraid of the dark. Riding at night is somewhat refreshing to me and I enjoy the fact that there aren't as many folks out on the trail. I enjoy the crisp air and the feeling of making the most of the day.

I've been spending a lot of time lately working on getting the Blankets Creek Duathlon race info together so I can create the race website. Look for the official announcement to come out in the next week or so!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

40's and Raining

Yep, that's how it was today. Julia and I set out to do a ride on the Silver Comet. It wasn't all bad, as we only got rained on for the last 20 miles, but my road bike is caked in leaf crap and looks like this...

Maybe I should have stayed home and done this all day...I think these cats are way smarter than me.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Climbing Trip

We decided to leave the bikes in the garage today and instead head out to Sandrock, AL for some rock climbing. About 10 years ago I was fairly passionate about climbing until I got into mountain bike racing. Once I started racing, climbing was put on hold indefinitely as my bike racing training didn't leave much time to hit the crags. Since then, I can probably count the number of times I've been out climbing on one hand. Despite being way out of climbing shape, we had a good time. My only complaint is that my fingers are pretty sore right now from a combination of rock abrasion and dessication from my climbing chalk.

Chris on Misty...5.10A/B? He just danced right up this. I, on the other hand, had the pleasure of my fingers going numb from the cold rock and was not able to feel anything I was grabbing onto for the second half of the climb. It was somewhat disconcerting and apparently I was grunting a lot too. I'll blame that on it being the first climb of the day.

Scoping out the way on a juggy 5.9 route. This climb was pretty fun, mostly big holds with a couple of slopers thrown in.

Further up on the same route.

Julia works the same route.

Chris on a 5.10D. This climb had some crimpy moves and dicey footwork about half way up that I struggled with. The pebbly rock was somewhat painful too on my unconditioned fingers so I didn't feel terribly motivated to keep working this one.

Although it was a bit chilly at times, we had a good day of climbing and I'd like to think I'll do it again in less than another 10 years. Tomorrow is back to business as, run, weights, swim, and more bike!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Care Package from DeFeet

Hooray! I just received a package of goodies from DeFeet. I'll be trying out these new Merino Wool Blaze socks tomorrow on my ride and I'll try the white Cloud 9 socks on my run on Thursday. DeFeet was good enough to hook me up with a variety of socks and accessories for the 2008 season. I can't wait for the wool knee warmers to arrive as I love the wool arm warmers that they sent.

I also tested out my new Polar Heart F11 Rate Monitor. It seemed to work well, as I've been having some issues with my 625x even after sending it back to Polar for maintenance.

Tomorrow I'm working from home so I am going to try to get a decent ride in before it gets dark since it is supposed to rain on Thursday. I haven't had to clean my bike in the past 2 months and I certainly don't want to start now : )

Sunday, November 18, 2007

One Week Down

Whew..I just finished my final workout for the week. All my workouts this week went well and I'm feeling good. I've been taking my vitamins and eating a bit better than usual. I decided to give up drinking soft drinks and sweet tea too unless I do a ride over 3 hours. I also managed to get up early every day this week to get to work before 7 am so I could maximize my time and actually get some work done.

This is how my week went:

Weekly Total: 16:12 (whoo hoo!)

Next week should be fairly relaxing as I have 2 days off and we are staying home for Thankgiving. This will give me plenty of time to get my workouts in, and hopefully get some work done on the logo design for the upcoming Blankets Creek Duathlon. More to come on that later...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lights Out!

Yesterday I went and did an off-road base ride at Blankets. I rode some of the new trail that they are in the process of building and was amazed at the progress they have made. The trail has a good number of switchbacks and some long (well, long by Blankets Creek standards) uphills and downhills. It was hard to tell how the trail flowed since I was trying to keep my heart rate low. Luckily no one was out there to see me poking along at a snails pace. Next, I headed over to the Dwelling Loop to do some night laps. About halfway through my first lap, I pulled out my NiteRider Moab and was shocked to find that it wasn't working. In the two years that I've had it, I've never had any problems with this light, but it finally decided to flake out on me. While I'm messing around with the cords, some guy comes along and asks if I'm ok. I say I'm fine and then he continues to stand there and watch me jiggle the cords, push buttons, and curse under my breath. "I'm really ok, you can go ahead" I say to him, as him standing there watching me is getting me more annoyed. He finally leaves and shortly thereafter, my light comes on. Hooray! Time to roll! I was very careful (meaning slow) on the downhills for fear my light would go out and send me hurling off into oblivion or some broken off trees that I could impale myself on. Against my better judgement, I rode two more laps with the jacked up light and sure enough it did go out halfway through my third lap. Luckily I was going uphill at the time, so no carnage. I jiggled the cord some more and it came back on. After that, I figured I'd better call it a night and I headed home. When I got home and disconnected the light, the whole plug ripped out of the lamp, exposing wires and otherwise rendering the $600 light system useless. I contacted NiteRider and was pleasantly surprised that they said to just send the whole system back and they would warranty it. Apparently, a lot of other folks have had similar problems since the rep knew exactly what I was talking about. Since the light is technically out of warranty, I expected to pay for the repair, so kudos to NiteRider for recognizing that the systems have a design flaw and doing what is necessary to remedy the problem. Its nice to know customer service isn't completely dead. A big thanks also to Kevin of OutSpokin' Bicycles for letting me borrow his NiteRider Flight system while mine is being repaired.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Doin' the "Horrible"

Yes, in February I will be doing the Horrible with fellow endurance athlete Neal Radford...The Most Horrible Thing Ever that is. The Most Horrible Thing Ever is a 36 hour non-stop mountain bike race in the Pisgah National Forest in mid February. I raced the Pisgah MTB Adventure a few years back and was thoroughly cooked by the time we were done, and that was only after 9 hours. Oh and did I mention this race begins on Friday at Midnight? If 36 straight hours of Pisgah style riding wasn't bad enough, add a couple of days of sleep deprivation to get the ultimate character building experience. Check out this great logo...the race is no frills, no entry fee, and no prizes, but I really hope they get some shirts made to sell. This is one I gotta have.

No Swim for You

Well, I hit the gym today with plans to do my swim and then lift weights. Of course, when I get to the gym I find that the pool is closed because someone um.."had an accident." So I had a decent lifting workout but now I'm going to have to get up extra early tomorrow to get my swim in before work. I like my sleep so hopefully I can drag myself out of bed...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Here we go Again...

Well, today is my last day of lounging around and being lazy. Its time to dust off the heart rate monitor, get back on the wagon and start base training. I used to do my base training exclusively on the road bike, but this year I'm going to mix in about 50% off road riding and just keep myself under control. I've had somewhat of a breakthrough lately as far as my technical riding goes, so I don't want to lose that over the winter. I will also be running 2x a week, as well as swimming and lifting 2x per week. My schedule at work is flexible enough so that I can do some of my workouts during 11 am -2 pm when it is nice and warm. It means staying at the office until it gets dark, but at least I can get my workouts in before the chill sets in.

The OutSpokin' bike demo yesterday was a great success. We had approximately 35 people come out and demo a bike or two. The most popular ride was the Specialized Stumpjumper Expert, which is a 5" travel all-trail bike. I test rode the women's specific version, the Specialized Safire Expert. The Safire was very cushy and a comfortable ride. It featured an upright riding position and handled the decents with ease. While the bike is not an agressive race machine, it is well suited to recreational riders who are looking for comfort and high end componentry.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We have a Winner!

Just got back from a short night ride at Blankets so Chris could try out the new Spark. He was officially impressed with the bike. His words "I'm gonna be so much faster now."

Great..just great. As if I already didn't have a hard enough time keeping up on the descents. Keep an eye out on the trail for the new and improved faster Chris.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bike Demo

Join OutSpokin' Bicycles this Saturday from 10 till 4 for a bike demo at Blankets Creek. We will have a full size run of WOMEN's Specialized bikes, as well as medium and large frame sizes in the Specialized Stumpjumper, Turners, Ellsworths, Niner Singlespeed, Vicious Cycles, and Titus Motolites. Come check it out and meet the OutSpokin' crew.

Chris will be on hand to show off his new Scott Spark 15 (see photo below), which wasn't supposed to arrive until January. Surprise! Its here already and smokin' fast. Hopefully my Scale will come in soon so I can convert my Titanium IF to a singlespeed.


In August of 2008, this is where I will be.

Yup, after many years of hmming and hawing about how cool this race looked I finally found myself a partner and we signed up. I'm looking forward to doing more MTB racing next year and this will be the culmination of my season. I'm racing with local endurance star, Carey Lowrey, who dominated the endurance circuit this year. We are currently accepting applications for male groupies.

If a 7 day MTB stage race in the Canadian Rockies isn't motivation to get in shape, I don't know what is. I start base training next week, so look for me on the trail with a "SLOW MOVING VEHICLE" sign on my back.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Adventure Race National Championships

We just returned from the Adventure Racing National Championships in Potosi, Missouri. Our official placing was 19th, which was not what we were hoping for, but you never know what you're going to get with adventure racing. Our lackluster performance wasn't due to lack of preparation or fitness, rather it was all due to some poor decisions I made as the team navigator. On the upside, the course was really fun, had some great mountain biking, and we didn't have to work nearly as hard once we were "out of the hunt."

We were given maps and directions at 5 am the morning of the race so I had to quickly plot and come up with our route. There was no time for excessive strategizing or putting distances on the map. I finished the map work well enough, was happy with our o-course strategy, so we bundled up and headed to the start.

The race started off with a short prologue where one team member had to run and pick up the passport while the other two paddled the canoe to the far end of the lake where we would pick up our runner and then complete a 1.5-2 mile lake paddle. The boat pick up was complete chaos..there was a row of 25 canoes stacked 3 high. People were grabbing boats and pulling them down on top of each other. James grabbed a canoe, and I grabbed pfd's and we made a pretty fast getaway to go meet Bo. This whole section was kind of evil as it was 25 degrees outside and the gunwales and paddles had ice on them. We were in the top 5-6 teams to pick up our runner and somewhere in all that chaos, I managed to lose my paddle so we only had the two guys paddling. It didn't seem to matter, as we held our position and were in the top 5 coming off the water.

Next was the o-course, which I opted to do counter-clockwise to save about a half mile of running. The attack points weren't as good, but I was confident I could get us through. We hit the first few points no problem and then disaster struck. I did not take a careful enough bearing as we whacked to a CP and we ended up on the wrong spur. There was a really good road at the top of the spur which looked like it just had to be the one on the map so I was completely assured we were in the correct location. I was so confident that I didn't take my compass out and check the direction of the road. We headed into an overgrown reentrant and spent a considerable amount of time looking for CP with no luck. After about 30 minutes we decide to reattack from a nearby hilltop. I knew where the hilltop was on the map, and it even had a "YOU ARE HERE" idiot-proof sign, so I was confident with the location and all we had to do was pace count 200 m to our reentrant and attack again. I was still so sure that I knew exactly where I was that I didn't verify the road direction with the compass. We pacecount and end up in the same reentrant. This time we walked all the way down it and then back up another until we were back on the hilltop. At this point my head is spinning and Bo and James had me convinced that I was looking at the wrong hilltop, despite the big "YOU ARE HERE" sign. Finally up at the hilltop again, I pull my compass out and throw it down on the map. Suddenly our mistake becomes crystal clear. The road we assumed was the one on the map was actually not shown and we were attacking from the completely wrong road. I still can't belive I made such a stupid mistake but the pressure of racing seems to have that effect on me. So after about two hours of running in circles, we FINALLY found the point and moved on. We hadn't seen anyone else in over an hour, and I expected our bikes to be the only ones left at the TA when we arrived back there.

Ours weren't the ONLY bikes still there, but there weren't very many...maybe 10 or 15 teams worth. I think they said we were in 65th place and over two hours in the hole. The wind was officially out of my sails but I was excited that we were going to ride the Berryman Trail, and you never know what will happen in AR, so we headed off on our bikes in decent spirits. We passed 30 or so teams on this section, and thoroughly enjoyed the sweet singletrack. By far the best biking I've done in an AR. We completed this section with no issues in 3.5 hours, which was the same pace as the top two finishing teams. We then headed out on a 8-10 mile straightforward trail run on the pretty Ozark Trail, where we reeled in a few more teams.

At a little before 5 pm we arrived at the canoe put in for the "river" paddling section. When we finally get to the "river" it looks like the teeny-tiny spring fed creek in my backyard. It was less than 10 feet wide and had brush and logs strewn everywhere, with an average depth of about 4 inches. This section was a real test of patience for us, as we were riding low since we are a fairly heavy team. We were out of the boat every hundred yards it seemed dragging or hitting some god forsaken log. The level of frustration was high and there was lots of grumbling, yelling, and throwing of paddles. This went on for a while..paddle, scrape, push, srape, push, bail water, push, scrape (notice not much paddling), until we finally reached the first and only CP along the river. It was just getting dark and all these cows were crossing the river and mooing at us. It was fairly creepy. We knew the CP was at a "wire bridge" that was near a powerline. I looked around for the CP for several minutes while the guys put on their waterproof gear. The cows were looking more menacing up close, especially with their glowing eyes from my HID. I'm looking here and looking CP..WTF???? Then I look up at the heavens and wonder why the hell I do these crazy races and THERE IT WAS!!! The CP was hung about 20' up on the wire bridge pole. We get the punch, bail the boat, pack up and head out. This was probably a 20 minute stop (something we'd never do in "game-on" mode), but we didn't see anyone so we were content to lollygag. After another 5 miles on scraping, paddling and pushing, we finally get off the river. Once we stop paddling, everyone gets really cold and we do something else we NEVER do, which was go and sit by the fire. Any good A-racer can tell you that a campfire is the first step to a DNF..NEVER, EVER, EVER sit by a fire if you intend to finish a race. Its warm and toasty for a few minutes, but then you freeze the minute you walk away from it. Fortunately, after a very lengthy TA, we were able to pull ourselves away and head out on the second running section of about 10 miles. We warmed up quickly and the nav was pretty easy. We were slowly still picking off teams, but I never really saw anyone. This section started nice an clean but then I made BIG MISTAKE #2 when we were looking for CP 20. Instead of playing it smart and following a bearing through the woods from a KNOWN attack point, we ran along this ridge trail like a bunch of lemmings, not paying attention to the fact that it very slowly broke off to the northwest and put us on the wrong ridgeline. We ran around in circles here for over an hour until I finally figured out my error and we headed into the correct reentrant. We then whacked back to the campground to pick up our bikes for the final bike section.

We started out with a few more miles of singletrack, which was still fun, but we were all becoming a little less coordinated, so we weren't as fast as during the daylight. We completed the final bike section cleanly and arrived back at the finish a little bit before 6 am.

All in all, I thought the course was pretty fun although it definitely wasn't as physically challenging as an NGAR, Overmountain, or CPZ race. I thrive on misery, and this race didn't seem to have any of that, other than our self-inflicted running in circles because I had my compass up my arse. For the most part, I'd say the navigation was pretty easy. I'm pretty confident my mistake on the O-course wouldn't have happened if we chose to go clockwise, since even if I still wasn't thinking straight, there would have been enough teams running around to make me think to stop and take out the compass. CP 20 was tricky, but that was really the only place where I think many teams had real issues.

As a team we raced well, and stayed pretty positive the whole race, mainly due to the "fun" nature of the course design. Congrats to all those that landed on the podium, and also all those that finished. See everyone at CPZ - I'll have my compass glued to my hand.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coming Soon...

I can't January we will be getting these. The guys at OutSpokin' Bicycles hooked us up with these sweet new Scott rides. I will be riding the Scale 15 hardtail and Chris will be sporting the Spark 15 full suspension. I needed a new hardtail for adventure races and shorter rides, as my Turner is a bit overkill for the typical forest service road riding that is common in most adventure races. The Scale 15 was the answer and will weigh in at near 20 lbs once I swap out some components.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

4 Days and Counting

Yup, 4 days until we leave for Potosi, Missouri to attend the Adventure Race National Championships. Gotta start packing and organizing gear. The race is unsupported so I don't have any need to pack my usual 5 pairs of running shoes and 14 midweight baselayers. My OutSpokin'-Enduraventure teammates and I are ready for this race, so I hope we represent well. Are there swamps and mosquitos in the Ozarks? I sure hope not...

I bailed on the cross race today and instead did a 3 hour "adventure ride" at Blankets Creek and Lake Allatoona. The lake is empty (as usual in the winter) so you can pretty much ride wherever. I like to follow the four-wheeler tracks, as they generally make pretty good bike trails. I'm trying to come up with a decent off-road loop to help me keep my sanity during base riding.


FINALLY...a decent showing at the Georgia Orienteering Club's annual Night-O at Cochran Mill Park. The last two years Chris and I have run the course together and it was completely fubar both times. This year we each went alone and despite my initial worries about running around in the woods by myself at night, I did pretty well and ran the course fairly smoothly. I used every second of allotted time and had less than 5 minutes to cover the final 3/4 mile to the finish. I barely beat the buzzer, but was ready to see my dinner again by the time I got there...not the best way to have to finish, but at least I didn't trip and fall in the last 100 meters!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pine Log Exploration

We did a little exporation at Pine Log this morning on foot. Unfortunately, we had to scrap our original plan of checking out some old trails further up the mountain due to the gate being locked and us not having bikes. We weren't prepared for such a long hike in and out, so we checked out some trails closer to the parking area. Hopefully all this running around will result in a good trail map of the area.

Stamp Creek - along a fishing trail on the east side of the creek. This was a pretty trail, fairly distinct for around a mile, although not great for biking since it gets very indistinct and overgrown towards the end.

Hmm..unfortunately this is what a lot of Pine Log looks like thanks to logging. Over-seeded pines that even the deer have trouble finding their way through. Not exactly bike-friendly.

Chris inside a cool old stone furnace. This is a neat side trip that is worth checking out if you haven't ever seen one of these. There used to be hundreds of them in this region and many are still intact along the banks of the Etowah River and its tributaries.

This furnace is one of the more intact ones - primarily due to its hidden location in the middle of about a billion small pine trees. The last I was here was in an adventure race in the dark. Needless to say it was dark and we didn't know where the trails were so we had to claw our way through the pines.

View of a piney roadbed as we left the stone furnace.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Singletrack Cyclocross

I'm tossing around the idea of heading to the Ft. Yargo Cyclocross race this Sunday so I figured I'd better dust the cobwebs off the cross bike and take it out for a spin. I rode over to Blankets and did a couple of laps on the Dwelling Loop. While the Dwelling Loop isn't exactly a challenging trail, I found new appreciation for fat tires and front suspension. Gears too, since its pretty challenging to shift while your hands are constantly on the top mount brake levers. Unfortunately I got a blister on my right hand from all the bouncing around...maybe I'm just getting old.