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!