Friday, February 27, 2009

Running around in the rain..

I spent the better part of the morning running all over town and picking up stuff for the upcoming Blankets Creek Dirty the rain nonetheless. What fun it is to lug boxes out to your car in a downpour!

There must be something going around as well, because I've had quite a few people contact me for refunds due to various injuries and ailments...which is quite a hassle, as it requires extra work on my part...and since I'm working for absolutely nothing, the prospect of extra work is quite unappealing. I think everyone who races should put on one race a year, just to see what a ginormous amount of work it takes to pull an event off.

In light of these cancellations, I think I can squeeze in 5 more entrants or so. SOOOO...if you want to do this race and you actually read this blog (which I'm pretty sure only my mom reads it), you can email me with your contact info and I can add you to the list IF you are one of the first 5, AND you PROMISE to mail me a check in the next couple days. So that's lisa dot randall24 at gmail dot com if you're interested. Hurry this offer expires on Monday March 2nd...or whenever I say so since I am, afterall, the supreme ruler (a.k.a the biggest sucker) of this event.

Wanted: Chainsaw and BOB Trailer

Wednesday brought us fair temperatures so a long ride was in order. Kim and I headed back to Pine Log for a ride we hadn't done since the fall. On the up side, my skills are really improving and my balance and confidence are better than they have ever been. Sections that were tricky before have become easy and casual. I don't think it is all the new bike, rather a new mindset I attained after riding a section of trail with Chris that scared me and gave me a HUGE adreanaline rush. I LIKED, no LOVED, that feeling...the elated sense of accomplishment and knowing that I was in control. Perhaps my brain chemistry is just messed up right now, but I'll take it.

On the down side, the trail across Hanging Mountain was in the worst shape I've ever seen it. LOTS of new trees down, including one that was right in the middle of my favorite rock garden. Talk about a let down..I had big plans of cleaning it first try and not being the least bit scared about it. It seemed every few minutes our downhill flow was interrupted by a fallen pine tree - the kind complete with impaler branches, so you can't ride over it unless you want a sucking chest wound. Argh... I'm thinking an "unofficial" work party is in order to go clear some of that out. One day with about 5 people would make that section of trail killer...and if it starts seeing more use, it will only stay in better shape as trees and large branches fall.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Had a nice ride Saturday at Pine was sunny and warm and no bulky layers were required to maintain a pleasant level of comfort.

Sunday...not so much! I've decided I really don't like the thermometer in my car. It just demoralizes me as I drive up to a ride and have to watch the temperature drop one degree at a time. At least when we got up to Dukes Creek (near Helen), it was above freezing. Chris ran in the O-meet that was going on, while Kim, Mike and I went for a MTB ride up Trey Mountain and down the Hickory Nut Trail. The first few miles of pavement were chilly, but we warmed up pretty fast once we started the 8.5 mile climb to Trey Gap. Approaching 3800', we made it above the snow line.

It was miserably windy up at the Gap so we ducked behind a car, put on our jackets and proceeded to bomb downhill. The rugged FS road was really fun, although I think I enjoy it better in the summer when I can actually feel my fingers and confirm that I really am holding onto my handlebar. The final section was on the Hickory Nut Trail, which is very Pine Loggy in my opinion...gets relatively little use, has lots of leaves covering a bunch of rocks, random deadfall and wheel raping sticks a-plenty. Super fun though and technical enough to keep you on your toes.

Once we returned I helped pick up orienteering bags at Dukes Creek. Big Mistake. Holy rhodo and briar least where I had to go. I can't imagine how bad it gets there in the summer! I was glad to have skipped this one, but didn't make it out without tearing the hell out of what I was wearing. Argh!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pine Loggin'

Kim and I headed out for a late afternoon exploratory ride at Pine Log. Funny, she asked me if she should bring lights and I was thinking... you really have to ask?

We rode the usual stuff until we hit a newer logging road spur. It used to dead end and then you could pick up an ATV trail that takes you south towards the powerline. Of course they have since torn the shit out of what used to be a lovely trail and now it is a chunky, rutted, abomination of a fireroad. It was good skills practice to try to avoid sliding into one of the knee deep ruts, but the landscape was pretty desolate due to the logging.

Then we hit some woodsy ATV trails that were a little easier on the eyes...

Eventually we came out on the powerline, which was either straight up or straight down, and full of lines of varying difficulty, some of which involved waist deep ruts. I'll most definitely be back with Chris, since he's all about riding down stuff you can't walk up.

Dude, it ate my bike!

Lots of fun stuff to ride down and then...argh...BRIARS!!!! Evasive maneuver required!

We ended with about two hours of riding, and saw some new trails, so it was a good afternoon ride.

Magic Shoes

Well, I finally won a red course at an Orienteering Meet..and the typical fast people showed up, so I don't think I just got lucky. I'm going to attribute it to my new shoes, but it was probably the fact that I didn't screw up or over-run anything since I was moving a bit slower than usual. Chris might have been able to beat me if he didn't have a buddy in tow...(after all, HE DIDN'T DO A 5 HOUR WORKOUT THE DAY BEFORE!!!!)...but who knows for sure. Maybe he would have run himeself to the point of exhaustion and puked all over himself...yes..I think that's what would have happened.

Finishing up some work and then later today we're headed to Pine Log for some riding.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gold Branch O-Meet

So today I tried out my third pair of orienteering shoes. I hadn't found a pair I really liked yet, so I decided to give the Inov-8 Mudclaw 340 O+ shoes a try. The tread is very knobby and there are 10 metal spikes on each shoe. While the spikes are longer than on my other shoes and they are a bit annoying on pavement, they excel in the woods. The grip was superb and they fit pretty trim, so I felt sure of my foot placements and didn't trip over anything. One thing that they could improve is to make the heel cup deeper, like they do with their ultra-running shoes. This would give some extra ankle support, but I still found them pretty comfortable. The shoes are pretty narrow, so they might not fit those with wider feet...which is a bit of an issue, since you can pretty much only mail order them.

So with happy feet, I had a pretty good run. One minor mis-step that realistically only cost me about 2-3 minutes. Any other time lost was due to me not moving uphill fast enough. I got to chase down Chris and one of his coworkers, but they were moving pretty fast so I only seemed to see them at the last couple of controls.

Back to work tomorrow, and back to cold temps this week. Major Booo...I liked being able to wear shorts and short sleeve jerseys!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fort Mountain Training Day

The TrailBlazers AR club hosted a "training" event today up at Fort Mountain State Park. About 30 minutes before my alarm went off (4:45 am to be exact..) I awoke to the sound of thunder as a storm rolled on through. Great... When my alarm went off at 5:15 am, I could still hear drips and rain outside and I strongly contemplated just going back to bed. Knowing I'd never motivate myself to go ride locally, I dragged myself out of bed, got ready, and headed up to Fort Mountain. It was foggy and misting, so we decided to do a running section first. The navigation wasn't very tough and you couldn't see 10 feet from the overlooks, but I just wanted to run on some nice trails. We finished that section in a little over 2 hours and then headed out on our bikes to ride the East-West Loop.

Normally I wouldn't choose East-West for a rainy-day ride, but it sounded better than going down the Pinhoti connector and riding the likely sloppy ATV trails down by the Lake. I was a bit worried that the powerline descent would be slick and nasty, but it actually seemed easier than Thursday, and I was much more relaxed. The trail ended up being in good shape and our bikes were hardly muddy by the time we started the long climb out. The climb was tougher this time around, as I didn't stop on the way up, and my legs were feeling it a bit. I was trying to keep my HR low-ish, which is a bit of a challenge on a 20% grade!

Once we finished that trail we decided to ride halfway down the Pinhoti connector to pick up another checkpoint. The trail was a bit chewed up and muddy and I was NOT looking forward to the ride back out. Once we hit the CP, I had decided to call it a day and just ride back up the hill back to the park. Jay pulled out his maps and was contemplating going for a few more checkpoints... The ride back up wasn't as bad as I had anticipated and I only had to push my bike on two short sections...mostly due to the mud. I've dialed in my steep climbing technique on the S-Works, so I was able to climb some horrifically steep pitches. By the time I returned to my car, it was still misty and still much for AM showers...but I guess Fort Mountain has its own micro-climate being situated at the top of a mountain and all. Anyways, it was a good day and it was nice to feel good on the bike.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fort Mountain Ride

After being stuck at the office until 10:30 last night, I took most of today off and headed up to Fort Mountain State Park for a ride with Chris. We hit the East-West Loop - probably one of the toughest 15 mile rides around. My objective was to test out the S-works on some steep downhills and my goal for the day was to make it down the big "powerline" downhill without any dabs, crashes, whining or other signs of weakness.

I was shocked after one of the tougher pitches when I stopped on a flat section and looked at my heart rate monitor and it said 151. I wasn't even pedalling!! Probably hadn't been for a good 2 minutes at least - so it must have been the adrenaline factor. I made it down without any issues, although it sure seemed easier than I remember. Next we hit a couple of miles of rollers and then it was granny gear time, with about 3 miles of TR style climbing. We found some orienteering bags on the way, hung for an upcoming TrailBlazer training day. The sneaky, evil side of me briefly contemplated moving one that was in a creekbed about 50' away to the top of a prominent rock prow. I reconsidered when I realized what a pain it would have been to scramble up there in bike shoes. The weather was great and even if I had crashed 6 times, had 3 flats and a broken chain, it STILL would have been WAY better than being stuck at the office.

Some pics:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Playing Hookey

It's 8:45 pm and I'm still at work preparing a proposal that is due tomorrow. Boo to that... Conveniently enough, it is for Cherokee County. Once I deliver it in the morning, the hubby and I are ditching our respective corporate cages to head up to Fort Mountain for some riding. Yea to that! I'm excited to ride the East-West Loop after a couple years and hope that I do the S-works proud! If not, we'll be sure to take pictures of any carnage.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Ride

S-Works - 1, Pine Log Lava Rock - 0

Saturday, February 7, 2009

So nice when things actually work like they're supposed to...

Finally got out on a mostly dry trail to really test out the S-works on some rocky downhills. I chose the Flat Creek Trail in Blue Ridge, because it has a pretty rough downhill section that is tame enough such that I can still carry a lot of speed through the rocks. I ride the loop counter-clockwise, so that I climb the gravel road portion. Once I hit the top and started the first easy descents I noticed how smooth things felt. As I got into the rockier sections and started picking up speed, my brain kind of went into sensory overload - trying to process EVERYTHING I was rolling over until I snapped myself out if it and thought to myself...just let the bike do the have're a cheetah...smooth, smooth...blah blah. As I pounded through some of the rockiest sections, I realized I wasn't even picking a line...I couldn' was too leafy....yet the bike handled beautifully and I never once got jacked. After that first run, things must have really clicked because I felt so smooth the second time down. I focused on not scrubbing so much speed as I hit the rock sections and just rolling through them and it worked like a charm. The difference between the S-works and my hardtail on that trail was like night and day. As I hit a tighter, more singletracky section that had a mixture of loose rocks, mud and roots, I just railed right through it and it felt GOOD. likey. Canadian Rockies - consider yourself warned - I'm coming for you!

I pondered doing another lap, but I convinced myself that I was getting over confident and that my endorphins were going to get me into trouble, so I headed over to Green Mountain instead.

Next test....Fort Mountain East West Loop. Its been probably 2 years since I rode there and probably 3 years since I've been able to clean that big downhill without dabbing, crashing, whining or wimping out. Last time I was there it had about a 2' deep erosion gully system snaking its way down one of the steeper pitches. Maybe they've done some maintenance out there...or maybe not...we'll have to see. I'm taking Chris with me, so if I don't put in a good effort or if I make any noises that give the slightest hint of fear, I will most certainly be booed.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Goldrush: Consider yourself warned!

I've been talking with Toby B. of the YMCA and will be helping him with the course design for the 2009 Goldrush Adventure Race. I figure that even though I won't be racing, I can still ensure that I am not forgotten by coming up with a tough course that will have even the strongest teams cursing me at times. We did some scouting on Wednesday at an undisclosed area and found some great don't be surprised should any checkpoints end up in slightly undesirable locations...

On another positive note, it is supposed to warm up this weekend - so hopefully I can muster the energy to get out on my mountain bike. I've been dying to try to the S-works on a rough, yet DRY trail, so I may head up to the Blue Ridge Area to giver her a whirl.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bumper Sticker of the Month

We were driving through downtown Woodstock the other day and saw quite a unique bumper sticker on a beat to hell pickup truck... It said:

"I'd rather be shooting Yankees!"

Being a Yankee...well, technically a DAMN Yankee since I decided to stay in GA, I find this just a bit unsettling. Only in the South can one get away with such things...and like they say, the $hit only flows downhill. I'm sure my Infiniti would not last long were I to put a bumper sticker on it that said "I'd rather be shooting uneducated and ignorant redneck hicks." Meh.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Slow Week

Thank goodness this week is over! I didn't feel very good this week so it's been hard to get off the couch, let alone do any meaningful training. Of course it was rainy on Wednesday, so I wasn't terribly motivated to get outside. After kicking myself out the door, my body decided it didn't really want to go for a run, so I had to cut it short and hike back to the house in the rain.

Things started to get better for the weekend and I managed an easy road ride with Chris on Saturday and an Orienteering Meet on Sunday. Chris suggested that I not use my compass to get better at reading the terrain and the details on the map. I gave it a try and it seemed to work well as I always knew where I was on the map. Granted, the park we were at had a ton of terrain to work with, so it was pretty obvious where you were in most places. The course setters were a little nasty and put one of the points on the opposite side of a creek/river - which I just stumbled through, not even trying to stay dry. A family was trying to cross and I heard a guy say "well, don't go where she's going" as I trudged through mid-thigh deep water.

Overall, I had a pretty good run on the course. I could have physically gone a bit faster, especially running the downhills, but I was a bit ginger with my foot placements and I haven't found a pair of orienteering shoes that I REALLY like. The ones I wore today - ICEBugs - are just so wide in the toebox that I feel like Bozo the Clown and they don't dry out quickly. I have another pair of Sarvas that I think might be good if I add some extra padding to them. I HAVE decided that the spikes make a major difference, especially in the leaves and off camber runs.

It appears it won't snow in the 'burbs this coming week, but as usual, the temperature will drop by Wednesday so that any mid-week riding is a fairly miserable experience. Perhaps I can find some snow on top of our favorite peaks..assuming I can get my butt up there!