Monday, May 30, 2011

I've been Double Dared

...and I committed. I feel a slight addiction starting to develop.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend With my Lady

Heather and I finally had a weekend all to ourselves. For some reason, it seems like we've had something going on every weekend for months. On Saturday, we were finally able to start tackling the years of neglect that our yard has endured. We were out there most of the afternoon with Heather clearing the retaining wall/planter, with the exception of me cutting out a few saplings, and me trimming bushes and trees and raking out the flower beds, which were filled with a very thick layer of leaves and pine needles. I took the back seat out of the CJ7, lined it with a tarp, and we made three trips down to the community brush pile. We worked pretty hard, but have barely made a dent. The joys of home ownership.

We decided that Sunday would be the day that Heather got out on a mountain bike again. She enjoyed the road riding we did in Cincy, but the mountain biking freaked her out a bit. She said she'd like to give it another go, but start out on some tamer stuff, so we headed to DuPont to do a short loop of mainly service roads. We started out at the Guion Farms parking area, and pieced together a loop starting out on Tarkiln and coming back on Buck Forest, with stops at Wintergreen Falls and Thomas Cemetery. It was a perfect day for a ride, and Heather did great. I think she enjoyed herself, too.

A few pics from the ride:









Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Post-PMBAR Blues

I've been in a little bit of a funk the past few days. Maybe it's because I was just worn out for the first couple of days after PMBAR, or maybe it's because I have a slow work week. I don't know. Maybe it's a combination of both. When I woke up this morning, I seriously debated just drinking bourbon all day, but that seemed pathetic, and reminded me of a time in my life where things weren't good. Things are fantastic now, so that wasn't the right solution. I had a bit of work I could do, but I just wasn't feeling it. No, I needed to ride.

I headed down to my bike shop in the basement, and unpacked all of my required PMBAR gear. Today wasn't going to be an epic ride, whatever the hell that even means. Out came the compass and the emergency blanket. My blinkie was reinstalled on the road bike. My unused, pre-measured, cocaine-like bricks of half-evil endurance fuel were set aside for another time. Just clean water today, thank you. The water filter wouldn't be necessary either, 100oz. would be plenty. I didn't want to care about the time, distance, speed, elevation, or calories, so the Garmin was left on the workbench. I did, however, add the camera. Today was going to be a cruise around DuPont, my recently neglected stomping grounds. Just me, the Lazer Cat, and minimal gear.

I loaded up the Grand and headed out to the southeast side of town. I hadn't driven this way in a while, but the curves were still familiar. So was the frustration of being behind an out-of-stater not so familiar with the curves. No big deal; I'd be on the trails soon enough. On the way out, I decided to stop and see the newly opened Connestee Falls Park. This is a waterfall a very short distance off the road, that had been closed for some time while the City turned it into a park. I gotta say, I was disappointed. I was hoping the City would make the bottom of the falls safely accessible, but all they did was build a boardwalk to the top of the falls. It's a shame. This is a double waterfall, and I would love to see it from the bottom.



I eventually made it to the Fawn Lake access lot, and headed down to Reasonover Creek Trail, one of my absolute favorites. The forest was quiet, and it seemed like I was the only one there.




I made it down to Lake Julia (Gulia), and hung out for a bit, walking around taking pics of anything that interested me.





From there, it was up to the airstrip, down Airstrip Trail, and over to Bridal Veil Falls via Barn Trail. This was to be my lunch stop, and I had it all to myself. The falls were really flowing today.





From the falls, I headed up Corn Mill Shoals Trail, to Shoals Trail, to Laurel Ridge, and finished up with Mine Mountain. On my way up the tough Corn Mill Shoals climb, I stopped to talk to a couple of Brits for a few minutes. One of them was talking about how mountain biking was putting a strain on his marriage. That's just something I luckily don't understand. Riding makes me a better person at home. It centers me and keeps me sane. Heather gets that. She knows when I need to ride and why. She supports my passion, and wants to hear about each and every ride I do. That's just one of many reasons why she's my soul-dork.

After quickly telling the Brit that I would not represent him in his potential divorce, I continued on and finished my ride, cleaning two tough climbs I've never cleaned before in the process. It was a great, and much needed ride, and I couldn't believe how good I actually felt physically. It was nice to ride just to ride. Goal specific riding has its place, but that's not why I make my way back to the trailheads time and time again. For the near future, I won't be training for anything. Any riding I do will be because I love it. Just me and the Lazer Cat, sailing through the forest.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The PMBAR Experience

PMBAR was awesome. I don't know how else to put it, and the more I recap the day, the more awesome it was. That may be because the memory of the pain is starting to fade, but it was one of the best days I've spent in the woods. Yes, this was a race, but Mike and I weren't really racing, so it really was about the experience for us. Sure, we wanted to get our 4 checkpoints and finish the race, but most of all, we wanted to have a good time and push ourselves to our limits, and we achieved both of those goals. We made it to 3 checkpoints, but rode 63 miles. In looking at the results thread on mtbr, other teams rode the same distance, if not less, and got 4 checkpoints. That means I chose the wrong route. I may have known where all of the trails were, and we may have only had to look at our map a couple of times, but I learned a valuable lesson about sequencing the checkpoints. Next year, we will not be heading out to the furthest checkpoint first.

After handing in our wooden nickel, avoiding a 2 hour penalty, we headed up Thrift and Black like everyone else. Once we hit Pressley Gap, where most teams were sitting down looking at their maps, we headed down Maxwell>Clawhammer>477>276. We decided that we would go to the checkpoint at the intersection of Daniel Ridge and Farlow Gap. We hit Daniel, and followed the creek up to Farlow. At this point, we were feeling just fine about our day, and were confident we would get 4 CPs. We continued on Daniel, took the shortcut trail up to 225, over to 475B, and up to 276. We stopped at the Pink Beds picnic area and filled our water, and then headed up and down 1206 to the CP that killed our day.

The plan was to hit the mandatory CP at the Pilot Connector/Laurel Mtn intersection, head down Laurel Mtn, then down Bradley Creek to its intersection with S. Mills for that mandatory CP, then up S. Mills to Cantrell Creek, up Horse Cove to Squirrel, to its intersection with S. Mills for the final mandatory CP. From there it would be the home stretch up to Buckhorn Gap, down Clawhammer to Maxwell, up and down Black and then Thrift Cove to the finish. Well, that didn't really work out.

We headed down 1206 to Pilot, and started the 2+ mile hike-a-bike straight up. At this point we were probably at around 3000ft elevation, and the top of this trail is close to 5000ft. 2000ft of elevation gain over a little more than 2 miles makes for a steep hike. Add to that the 30'ish miles we had already ridden, and the fact that we were pushing our bikes, and you can probably see why this zapped most of our energy. My quads were cramping, and we got to the point where we were only taking 20 or so steps between rest stops.

We finally hit the CP and decided to reassess our goals. After finishing Laurel, heading down Bradley Creek would be a commitment. That trail is out there, and we would have a long way to go for the finish. We decided that we would be happy with 3 CPs, and really wanted to knock down a beer sooner than later. After heading down Laurel, we were feeling pretty good, but I assured Mike that it was a false high, and would fade as soon as we hit some climbs, so we continued on 1206 past Bradley Creek, and up to 476. From there we went up and down S. Mills to the CP at Squirrel, and then headed back up S. Mills, up Buckhorn Gap, down Clawhammer, down 477, and then took 276 back to the Finish. That part of 276 was off limits, but since we were DNF'ing anyway, we didn't care. We were just ready to be off our bikes.

Again, we rode 63 miles over ~11 hours in some of the toughest terrain around. I feel like that was a pretty darn big accomplishment, and I know that we will finish the race next year. Mike did awesome. This was really only his fourth time ever mountain biking, and he was able to do this. Unbelievable. Our first PMBAR experience was a great one. The atmosphere was the way anything involving mountain bikers should be, and the weather and trails were perfect. I also had the opportunity to ride with this guy for a bit. I didn't take the camera out at all during the race, but brado1 was there taking much better photos than I could have, and you can see his here. A big thank you to everyone involved with coordinating and carrying out this event. We'll definitely be back next year.

Some Garmin Stats:

Friday, May 6, 2011



This time tomorrow I'll be somewhere out in the middle of the mountains above with my buddy Mike G. I've done endurance rides before including the Brown County Breakdown, the Muskingum Mayhem, and a road tour from Cincy to Cleveland, but I've never been in a race. I'm excited to finally enter my first one, and I'm sure it will lead to many more. We won't really be going at any kind of racing pace, though, just hoping to finish with four checkpoints before it gets dark, so hopefully I'll pull out the camera and grab some pics for the blog.

I'll report back on Sunday. Gotta go eat a few pounds of pasta now.