Harrisburg Short Track – Wednesday Night XC Series

This event is right down the street from my house, so you know I had to go. I knew it was going to be fast as hell and the climb at the S/F was going to be rough. Also knowing Tsui was going to be involved it was going to be a showdown. We hit the first lap hard, and kind of roll a hard tempo the rest of the race. After 4/5 laps, I take the lead and try and see what is going to happen. Hard to really get away on this course and on the singlespeed for that matter. With each pass of traffic, we made sure the other person came along too.

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It came down to one lap, the last one. Since it is a short lap, it’s easy to watch:

 

I know back home, people would kill for a legit Wednesday night series with races within 40 minutes from your house. It’s a great way to get some efforts in you normally wouldn’t by yourself. Rich is a great rider and a awesome competitor to be around.

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Coca-Cola 600 and Jimmie Johnson Fit Fest 4 Hour MTB Race

Weekend was cool, Tailgated at the NASCAR race, total America pride going on in these parts.

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“Saw” Lynyrd Skynyrd perform before the race. It was weird because you could hear them live and with the sound over the loudspeakers around the track, it was kind of weird.

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Bojangles for dinner. The lady forgot to charge me for something. Not shocking.

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Weather was great until it started to pour. Had this during the rain delay. Probably hour thirty to dry the track? So I ate this as a post dinner snack. Tater tots with cheese and guacamole.

Man those cars are loud AF. Watching the restarts was awesome. Got home around 1AM and was complety wired.

So for this race? Who knows. Lets just do how I normal do’s it.

First two laps I hit it really hard, XC hard. This place felt like Stewart except you were climbing on single track more than on the gravel roads, which was betterer?

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Third lap I noticed I was dying but felt my seatpost was slipping. it slipped so I pulled over and took 30 seconds to raise it back up. Maybe I needed the rest. I died and stopped at the pit as I planned to swap camelbaks, had a coke and some food, and it totally woke me up.

Four and five I’m actually passing people that were zombies that are super strong normally, so I was kind of shocked in that sense. I felt like I was going faster, but the lap times were close. One of the last victims I came across a cramping Jimmie Johnson. Said he got to bed at 2am. Ouch.

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I ended up 15th (FIRST PAGER, or not-needing-to-scroll-on-iPhoner) out of 49 in Open.

Sometimes you just need to ride your bike…

No idea where this will go, but after todays lunch ride and how awesome I felt after I unclipped post ride, I wanted to write it out for myself.

Middle of last week it was apparent that the weather was going to be atrocious in Pisgah for the race I got lost at last year, the 55.5k. All year I was looking forward to redeeming myself, buying a dropper post JUST for this event (still not sure I’m sold on it for all my riding, but we will try), swapping over bigger tires and a wider bar, blah blah. I cleaned my camelbak, I had my garmin and camera charged, I was beyond stoked to do this. Then Thursday I realized, it isn’t going to happen. A race I was hoping to finish in 5:30-6:00 with way better fitness and dry conditions, now with my current fitness and torrential rain? I wouldn’t say I was depressed because that is a really heavy word, but I was really really bummed. Like, what am I going to do now? I have the freaking cue sheet from last year on my desk and I think about all the descents, the climbs, the river crossings, everything. I made sure I was super rested so that everything was going to go swell. Now, nothing.

The good news was that the big Morrow Mountain ride was that same Saturday. They call everything “assaults on” down here, not sure why, it’s kind of malarky. Assault on Chipotle, Five Guys? I check in with some of my buddies and they are all doing it, so fuck it, lets do it.

Over 250 people were at this ride, $2 entry fee, can’t beat it.
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Theres about 50 people in front of me too.

I did this ride almost a year ago and again, much different Peez. I still wanted to ride with the front group. Theres a hill called Chicken Shit Hill that is a half mile long but steep, and I was hoping to be in the way front when we hit this hill. In the first 30 minutes I find myself being my old self and in a 3 person break at the front. WTF? We climb Chicken Shit (or so I thought) and drift back as I always do into the main group of 40 or so people. I soon realize that this was not the hill I thought it was. I was pretty cooked. I try my technique again but this time I cannot latch back onto the front group, and a small group of 20 forms that is more just tempo’ing things out. Sort of a bummer but either way.

Ride climbs up to Mount Morrow which isn’t steep but has one killer switchback in it and feels like climbing Harriman but way shorter. As we are coming up, the front group is coming down. At the top a fine volunteer a cooler with fig newtons, Gatorade, water and soda.

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View from the top. Pretty damn good for only being ~1 hour from home.

Refill a couple of bottles after 33 miles and 1:38 of pedaling. Chat for a little and see some people I know, but I try not to hang around too much. I chat with Jerry (picture Mitch/Iggy/Frank all in one person) and he says he is waiting for another one of our friends, but I decide I cannot wait any longer, otherwise I will just shut down and not GAF. I chat too much and get on my horse about 30 seconds after my group left, but with the descent down the mountain I’m sure I will catch them.

I don’t. I’m riding by myself. For about an hour. It’s hot, I have no motivation. How is this possible? Time by myself and I just think WTF I’m doing. I hate riding the road by myself. I should be ripping some sweet Pisgah ST right now, but mother nature sucks the big one. At some point a group of TWO riders come up behind and we chat a tad and roll in. I don’t feel that this was a waste of my time, and any time you can get 60 miles in before 11:30, it’s going to be a good day.

The front of the group is a legit road race, Cat 1 dudes, not sure how I hung last time we did this. The last time we finished in 2:38, this time, 3:03. I should have waited and rolled with a group, but I’m stubborn and think that I’m still the same person I was last year. Woops. Pick up some mulch from Home Depot and shit.

Sunday I snuck out for a solo MTB ride while Mandi went to Target or something. I ran into two people I’ve met through cross in the parking lot, which made the ride that much better. We chatted, I learned one did the tour divide at least twice, which is pretty badass “did you know” fact. Faster than I thought we would go, but faster with company versus riding solo and slower is cool. I’m cooked now and look forward to relaxing the rest of the day with the famalam.

I come home text Jeremy and Utah asking if they won, and heard SSaP was a total shit show. And to top it off, Utah decided to go tree surfing. Ugh. Felt super bad and hate seeing your homies hurting. Not sure what came over me, but I really questioned the whole racing thing. A combination of skipping my Pisgah race because I didn’t want to die, getting dropped at Morrow because I’m not as fit as I was and hearing Utahs arm looks like bait was a strange combination of emotion and feelings.

I didn’t ride Monday because Jackie boy had his 6 month check up (only gained 1 pound since his 4 month and grew 2 inches, guess he trying to watch his figure) and Tuesday it rained. It was probably the first time I seriously though about the fact I need a new hobby. Not being able to ride made me realize how much time fitness takes up and missing two days (granted I really wasn’t going to ride Monday) made me feel like I was missing something and losing fitness. I also think, what I’m calling “The Southern Winter”, is preparing to have an impact on me. Last week it was getting borderline uncomfortable in the high 80s/low 90s, and it was only May. June and July, hell even August could just be scorchers. After the 4 Hour race this coming Monday, I really have nothing circled on my cycling calendar. I think this was factoring into my feelings too.

Being home all day solo leaves too much time to think of things. New hobbies, selling bikes, maybe I could pick up knitting, growing a bonsai tree, etc. What the hell am I doing? Seriously?

It was sprinkling this morning and scattered rain showers all over. I got all my shit together out of habit for a lunch ride and as I opened the garage door, I saw some more sprinkles. Really? Is this how it’s going to be today? I didn’t look at the radar and it was cloudy, but man…. I head back in, grab a sandwich bag for my cell phone and say fuck it. I’ll just go through the motions and if I get rained on, Kevin will think I’m badass and I can just jet home if it gets bad.

It never rains, it’s overcast, and the temperatures are perfect. I felt great. I needed this. I wasn’t ripping it but just riding, and I was happy. I enjoyed my ride. My mind didn’t drift into negative spaces, but positive ones. By the time I got home, I felt normal again. I think the lesson I learned was that you cannot make decisions that could effect your hobby based on a week of experiences. The last 4 days was super bummer, but either I forgot how bummed out I was, or I’m back on the upswing of things. Or I’m just tired and realize after Monday the pool opens and I can work on my tan game more.

6 Hours of Lake Norman – Singlespeed

I started this race like every other endurance race, hard AF. but on the singlespeed, you can only go so hard. I always try to be Audi 5000 so people forget about me. I see the leader of our class and stick with him for the first half of the lap until I feel super strong and decide to let it all hang out and make a move in this big group we are sitting in on a downhill fire road. Most of the gear people pass me after we almost miss the turn to dump back on the road, but I do not see the other SSer at all. Cool. Blow through laps 1 and 2 without stopping since I’m rolling with my camelbak and things feel good. I’m riding smooth and keeping a decent pace. The main problem is I’m by myself, yo-yo’ing with a couple of the team racers as they pass the pits, but finding myself in that zone and talking to myself. Maybe I can win? I wonder what I’ll have for dinner, that kind of thing. I keep peeking back but still, nobody. I must be going fast enough?

Towards the end of the 4th lap (10 miles per lap) I’m caught by 2nd and 3rd in my category. How rare. That is where a bulk of the video I uploaded will be, mostly because I don’t want to edit too much of it. Ahmet and Jeff. They connect and we chat, and I can only go as fast as I’m going now. Hard to tell if the wheels are coming off or I was just bored, but this sparks some new interest. Ahmet comes around and decides to roll with the lead, and keeps a pace I can deal with. It was fun to be rolling with people again. We dump out onto the road where we coast downhill and right before I get to the road, my chain falls off. WTF? I think a combo of a strange bump/pedal/oval ring made a bizzare situation where it came off. This kind of sucked.

I jump off and throw it back on without checking it, knowing the pits are up ahead. These dudes are all heavier than me and I have no shot in closing a gap on a downhill road. So I just relax and regain my shit. I can join back up in the pits.

I don’t see Jeff but I see Ahmet, and I goto my cooler and grab a waffle. I made the stupid mistake of not tearing all of my stuff I was going to eat before hand, so I’m sitting here with riding gloves trying to tear a package open. Not good. Probably takes 20-30 seconds for me to figure it out and get this rolling. In that time I see Ahmet pass by me and he’s off to the races. I jump back on and see if I can catch back on before the fire road, but I don’t see him. He’s gone. My motivation drops to an all time low and I can just hope to see them keeping the pace I have left. I roll around and after 48 minutes, I see nobody.

The part I raced and felt good: https://www.strava.com/activities/973830867

I come into the pit after this 5th lap and I’m kind of defeated. I debate bagging it and realizing those guys are OUT. What am I going to go back out for? I mosey around the pits, have a soda, Clif bar, and check the live results that get posted. I’m in third by a good mark. Not good enough to call it quits, but enough that if I go out for another lap, I will be good. I gear myself back up, grab a bottle and roll out. I have no intentions on going fast here, just keep moving forward.

I stop at one point and take a nature break and make sure the group thats coming up behind me all have gears. The weird part about this trail is minus a few downhills and rocks, it’s hard to remember where the F you are. No landmarks or anything.

I dump out onto the road and coast into the finish and see Mandi and Jackson at the finish, so that was a nice surprised. Sadly I was calling it quits and I wouldn’t go back out, so we hung out and watched the finish of our SS race.

Zombie Lap – https://www.strava.com/activities/973906248

The races work differently here than other lap races, you have to finish by the 6th hour. That means if you go out for a lap and come across at 6:00:01, it doesn’t count.

We see Jeff come across after his 7th lap with 5:08, and after running a last lap of 46m, calls it quits. Ahmet comes in a minute later and we expect him to call it quits but he blows right past and is going for it. Talk about drama. Jeff is already a beer in and we shoot the shit. Does he really have the desire to finish the 8th lap?

Well, he did, with 4 minutes to spare, winning our group. It was pretty damn impressive.

Me? I’m happy with how I felt. Wheels fell off around 3:30 of “racing” and while I wasn’t completely cooked, this is the devil of lap races. If I was in the middle of the woods I would have kept going to survive, but to torture myself on the same loop over and over again, ugh. This ride made me feel better about the Pisgah race in two weeks.

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WEEEEEEE

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team peezys

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I stood on a box with my kid again and I got a mug and $25.

 

Charlotte Summer Series #1 – Whitewater Center

I remember a while back when Norm said you would reply to your own blog post, things are getting stale/lame. Oh well, let’s keep on it.

I got a text at 11am asking if I was racing tonight. I didn’t really think about it, but an hour later I some how wiggle my way into child hand off and suddenly i’m registered to race single speed mountain bikes on a Wednesday night. It was pure “single speed-like” attitude. Completely like “fuck it, lets do it”. I had no idea of how I would feel, if my bike was good to go, anything like that. Straight winging it. Last time I raced here at the Whitewater Center (the place with the brain eating amoeba (didn’t spell that right on the first try btw)) I was completely gutted and man, this was a hard race. I look back and thing it may have been I was completely shelled from Pisgah the day before. But whatever. The trails are the most “NJ-like” in terms of shorter climbs, some rooty sections. Maybe a flatter Hartshorne with some CR White Trail stuff? I was hoping to have a full video of the race, but I botched that with a full SD card. The are usually pretty buff and smooth since they are on private property and close when it’s crappy. Today it was a little greasy so I figured it woudl be slower.

I show up sort of early and I’m able to skip around for a pre-ride lap. I know the course from last time, so I just take note of the slippery sections. This was also the first time with my new Ibis 740mm handlebar, which I was worried if it was too wide. Feel pretty good and line up. Run into all my new singlespeed friends, Chase who’s been busy racing track bikes, Rich who just came back from a Eurotrip-like vacation, Charles who doesn’t want to pay the parking fee and parks at a school and rides in. Seems like it will be a fun ride.

Theres about 10 of us or so, so knowing half the field is always fun. We are let off and its apparent Rich has a larger gear, Chase slightly larger than me. In typical SS fashion, I just rolled 33×18 and said “fuck it”. It should be okay enough.

I’m immediately gapped in the parking lot start into the single track. You can only spin so fast. I stay on it as hard as I can. Rich is out and we can only hope that his type in Belgium will catch up with him and he will completely bonk. Chase is my race. I would say I’m about 3-4 seconds behind him. Far enough that when he passes someone, I can’t just say “me too!”. So each time he passes someone I have to take some risks to make up the time I just lost. It was a interesting game. The corners were wet in some spots and with some wooden bridges, you wanted to play it extra safe, but at the same time, didn’t want to eat shit over a bridge.

With all the leap frogging over the geared riders the gap is staying pretty much the same. We head to the biggest climb, Goat Hill, which is pretty steep on a geared bike, and very much a balancing act on the singlespeed. I didn’t pre-ride this so I was going in blind but was able to balance my way up to it, and all the way to Chase’s wheel. He asks if I want to go by but know that it isn’t the time. I roll with him down the descent. Sadly it is the only good part of the race I was able to capture:

He is faster with his 27.5+ with fork on the descents and flats, but on the uphills and single track I’m able to make up time. We head into a trail called Toilet Bowl as it as a toilet bowl in it. very narrow with tons of growth and greasy. A couple times we get crossed up and lose traction on some of the wet roots and have to jog a little. We roll the rest of the lap together.

At this point I know my only hope is to put in a effort on Goat Hill and get out of sight. I just need to stick with him all the way to that point. I’m happy I wore my Camelbak because it’s impossible to drink. I can’t tell if Chase is dying or just saving his energy. I feel a little more relaxed the second lap, maybe because I feel confident at single speed race pace on this stuff now. Right as we hit the climb to Goat, Chase asks if I want to come by. Well, that was easy. I give it all I got and make the climb, and I have a gap. Unsure if it is enough, I bury myself on the descent and the next short, false flat climb. I’m by myself here.

I kind of go into safe mode and make sure I do not make any mistakes, a game plan that pays off in greasy races. If you can stay on the bike and make no mistakes, it’s usually pretty hard to get caught. Through Toilet Bowl I’m not losing my rear wheel and make all the sections I didn’t make on the first lap. I peak back and think I see someone who is a geared rider, but it is actually someone in my class. Rut roh.

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As soon as I see him I turn off safe mode and let a little more hang out on each rooty climb. As soon as I do this, I hear a tire slip and I can only imagine it being the rider who was chasing me taking a risk on the wet roots. I can only spin 33×18 so fast, but I do not see him as I get out of the trail into the last section of single track. Come up on some more geared riders who are battling for a position and just as I get comfy to sit in and watch this battle on the last stretch of double track, the dude breaks his chain, ouch. Thankfully I was far enough back on the steep uphill to not get hung up. Safely roll through the last section of tight trees with the wide bars and cross the line in second place.

Rich ended up rolling in at 58:21, and I finished in 1:01. It looks like he hit the deck once but it didn’t matter, between the tango of 2nd/3rd, he was able to push that bigger gear on the flats and it seemed to make the difference. As always, you can second guess your gear choice but I don’t think I would have made the Goat climb with a harder gear.

The most interesting part of this race is that I was faster on the rigid bike on some of the longer segments. I mean sure, I may be forced to climb faster on it, but I didn’t think the up hill gains would balance out to be faster with the downhill ones. Other segments, the Scalpel or my fitness was much much better. Also the fact that my heart rate averaged 185bpm for an hour, with 197 max. I haven’t seen a max that high in a while. I guess that is what one gear does to you.

And instead of Monday morning bike hangovers, it’s Thursday. Strange.

Uwharrie State Forest

First time out to Uwharrie with Buddy and Charles, now I’m mad this is the first time I’ve ever been here. Place is super fast and a hoot. Amazing that this is as rocky as it gets for the Charlotte Metro area, but the machine cut trails and whoops just scream fun. I can see how after a nice rain this place would be rippin fast. I had way too much video to cut through, so I made this quickly.