Sunday, February 26, 2006



Saturday, February 25, 2006


Arcadia. Ah, Arcadia. All hail Arcadia! Where the hell is Arcadia? It's a secret. Well, not really. You could find it pretty easily by driving North on I-81 out of Roanoke about 35 miles. Not much in Arcadia: a church, a couple houses, an old general store (most recently some sort of outdoor outfitter) that is now dormant. Not much there at all - unless you're looking for a place to ride your mountain bike.

I'm not going to suggest any routes or trails or epic rides to you. I don't really want anyone else to go ride up there. Unless you come with me, of course. Then it would be OK. I want to keep Arcadia just like it was this past Saturday - desolate. Not a soul around. Just the way we like it. That's one of the reasons why this place is my favorite riding destination.

Now don't get me wrong: I have nothing against Carvins Cove or Explore Park or Pandapas Pond. Those places get all the press, and rightly so. Everybody rides there because of the location and the fine quality singletrack. But Arcadia, and the rest of the vast region of Jefferson National Forest that stretches from the James River to Blue Ridge, is much different. Primitive. The trails aren't as groomed as those you'd find at the other area hot spots. You'll be pushing in some spots that are just plain un-ridable. Lots of downed trees and limbs and such. Much more primitive. The biggest difference is how vast the area is. Hundreds of miles of forest road, doubletrack and singletrack trails to keep you route finding for months. Trust me. I haven't done the same loop twice in the 3 seasons I've been exploring the area by bike. I've been lost a ton of times - even with the National Forest map. This is not the place to go for an hour ride. This is the place to go for a six hour ride. Every glorious minute of a six hour ride.

It's not for the faint of heart either. Try being five hours into your ride, you've used up all of your food and water, you have no legs left, you're running out of daylight, and you have no idea how far you have to go to get to where you started. It happened to Pookie and I on more than one occasion. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Speed Racer Reighley, Skippy, Pookie and I set out Saturday morning for some frolicking in the forest near Arcadia. We managed to fit in a three hour tour of some stuff none of us had ridden before. Undiscovered treasures of dirt, rock, water, and trees. Fabulous stuff. Lots of climbing. I don't dare even try to guess how much. Let's say there was more up than down, and leave it at that.

The point here is that there is a marvelous jewel nestled in between the unrelenting bustle of I-81 and route 460 that is almost too good to be true. If you do venture up there, do your homework so you make it out in one piece and treat the area like it's the only spot like it left on Earth. All hail Arcadia!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

You light up my life

Holy crap. I took my fancy new Light & Motion ARC HID out for our weekly spin at Explore Park. Good Lord. That's some bright light.

I knew I would be impressed with how bright this thing is from riding with folks who have them, but I was equally impressed by how wide the light pattern is as well.

Quality stuff. Highly recommended.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A little bit more

I'm really starting to like the looks of the trail being built at Carvins Cove to connect the Bennett Springs Parking lot to the 1000ft climb. The trail will provide about three more miles of awesome singletrack for all to enjoy, bringing the total to about 35 miles. Both ends are creeping toward each other thanks to some awesome work by trail volunteers...but we need your help!
This is my plea for anyone within the Southwestern Virginia area that enjoys riding at the Cove to come on out to lend a hand so the trail can be finished by late spring.

This past Saturday, seven folks braved the elements to help move what will most likely be know as Four Gorge Trail closer to completion. Honestly, the weather was perfect for trail work. A light dusting of snow helped to loosen the soil a tad, and the temperature was a comfy (especially when your diggin' trail) 35 degrees.

Trail work days will no doubt become more frequent as we're all excited about getting "The Four" finished. If you're interested in lending a hand, hit the comment link at the bottom of this post to leave your email address. We'll plug you into the database to be notified of our next trail work day.

The trail needs you!

Monday, February 13, 2006

No Thursday Explore Park ride this week!!!!


Because of the (very important) Roanoke Valley Conceptual Greenway Plan Update meeting being held this Thursday Feb 16th at the Roanoke Civic Center, the Explore Park Night Ride will be cancelled. We will resume our (ab)normal Thursday nighter next week.

Hope to see lot's of you at the meeting!!

Here's some linkage:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow, wind and sun

Pookie and I had so much fun riding in the snow and slush and crud yesterday that we decided that we'd get out again today. Since the sun was out and the snow was fluffier, the riding was a lot more fun.

Besides, Skip was chomping at the bit to get out on his new Orbea 29er. Sweet bike. Big wheels roll on.

We had lots of fun, as usual. Only a few crashes, lots of attempts to ride over stuff we shouldn't have been trying, only minor bruises, and lots of smiles.

Riding in the snow helps make you better when it's warm and dry. At least that's my theory for getting out there in the cold when everyone else is at home.

My $#!t still works!

It's been an entire week. I can't believe I haven't ridden for that long. I had to get out there! It's been a tough week, with a Thursday trip to the emergency room, the stress of work, etc. I needed to see if my body was back to normal yet.

I spent most of my day Friday tinkering with some new parts for my commuter/cyclocross machine. New Cane Creek Crosstop levers, SCX-5 cantilever brakes, and some trusty old Shimano 600 shifters completed the conversion from commuter to 'cross.

I'm amazed at how much I ride this bike. When I first built it up, I was using it to get back & forth to work. Then I added cyclocross tires to take it off road a bit, and to handle the tree branches and leaves and such that cover the bike paths during the fall and winter. I think with the added hand positions that the drop bar offers I'll be riding this thing even more. I think it's the perfect bike for putting on winter base miles.

Anyway, my legs and lungs and heart still work fine. I felt awesome! Maybe it's because I've been drinking gallons of water and Hammer Nutrition's HEED to stay ultra-hydrated, and have gotten tons of rest.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Let's go racing!

The 2006 VA Derailer Series schedule has been released! Check it out at

If you've never raced any of the races in this series let me say that they are a blast. Each race had lots of friendly faces to assist racers with everything from registration to directions while on course. The courses are fast and fun (with the exception of the Poor Mountain Hill Climb) and best of all, within about an hour and a half of each other.

Since the first race isn't until August, you have lots of time to train to be in top form!

Thursday, February 09, 2006


So I thought I had rehydrated...

In my last post I mentioned that I collapsed in a heap this past weekend and that I was going to take it easy and let my body recover. I was pretty sure that I was suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. I was right, but I had underestimated the effect of other stresses on my body too.

I have an extremely stressful situation in a temporary (thank God) assignment at work that is beating me to a pulp. I figured if I got some sleep and took a few days off the bike that I'd bounce back quickly. I was wrong. A few short hours into my (stressful) day, I started feeling a tad light-headed again. Not quite as bad as Saturday, but enough to scare the hell out of me.

It's a real uneasy feeling when you know you take care of yourself the best you know how, and something still gets your system out of whack. So, I decided the best course of action was to visit an emergency room. I was sure that this feeling would pass, but to have similar episodes in the same week warranted a little extra concern. I wanted to get checked out.

As you can tell by the fact that I'm resting comfortably on my couch hunting and pecking on my blog, nothing major turned up at the hospital. After blood work, heart tests, EKGs, and a couple IV bags, I started to feel like myself again. The Doc said I was extremely dehydrated and suffering from too much stress. I'll be taking a few days off from work and drinking lots of water, juice, HEED (from Hammer Nutrition) milk, etc... Fortunately, I wasn't put on any restrictions for physical activity, just from the stresses of my job. Now THAT's a smart doctor!

Monday, February 06, 2006

And just like that, it was over.

This past Saturday, which was my consecutive day number 35, arrived in a nasty manner. Rain and wind and cold. No thanks. I'll get creative and stay indoors.

I spent a half hour spinning on the cross bike bolted to the trainer, then a half hour rolling ever-so-slowly through a tight, twisty obstacle course I set up in my basement. Personally, I love practicing balance stuff. Track stands, hops, tight slow-motion turns, all quality stuff.

I couldn't help feel that something wasn't quite right. I didn't realize how not-right until later that same evening.

After my daily hour on the bike, I took the doggie for her daily neighborhood stroll, but felt like I had to go to the bathroom as soon as I got a block from the house. Problem was, I went just before I left home. I made it through our walk, but then it was frequent trips to the little boy's room for the next few hours. I was losing fluids fast, but thought little of it. I just thought I had a bit too much fluid during the day.

Because I felt a little off-balance while rolling around in the basement, I took a Clarinex to help clear out my head. Oooh, more stuff in my system.

We had a party to go too later in the evening, so after I had a beer with dinner, I made myself a nice strong cup of coffee so I would be nice and lively at the shindig. Later at the party, more beers and more strong coffee. Mooooore stuff in my system. Then it hit me...hard. While visiting the mens room at the party for the 900th time, my body finally gave out. Down I went in a heep. Bump on my head and everything.

OK, I come to and realize that I have been pushing my body waaay too hard, and it pushed back. Here's what my life has looked like since Jan 1.

  1. Ride everyday, at least an hour, no matter what.
  2. Work in a very stressful (but thankfully temporary) environment for at least 10 hours a day.
  3. Lift weights (strength phase - heavy weight, low reps) Mondays and Wednesdays.
  4. Sleep about 6 hours a night - at best.
  5. Hit the road or trail for 3 hours every Saturday or Sunday.
  6. Live the rest of your life

Yes, I was very tired. I didn't realize how tired until I slept all day Sunday. It was awesome. But, easy come, easy go. The consecutive day streak ends at 35. I don't think I'll be starting that again.

Lesson learned: REST. No matter how hard you train, you're body will get weaker unless you give it a chance to rest. Just glad it happened in February, not in the middle of race season.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Tales of the unexplained

I'm not sure what happened last night on our weekly Explore Park Night ride. It was weird. Granted, with the cast of characters that we haul into the woods every week, it's alway pretty weird, but last night was way more

For some stupid reason, I decided to take my 'cross bike. Now get this: I've been working 50+ hours every week for the last month,bustin' my tail. I'm also in the Max Strength phase of my weight training program to prepare for the upcoming mountain bike season. So, I'm tired to say the least. One the stupidest things I could do is wrestle my 'cross bike through the roots and ruts that make up a large park of our normal Thursday jaunt - but I did.

Not far into our ride, everyone (but me) decided that it would be fun to pretend they had BMX bikes and try several times each to catch some air, dude. Skippy almost killed himself, Pookie got about 3 inches off the ground, Ron landed hard with a clunk that adversely affected his rear wheel's ability to operate within normal parameters. Chris pulled off the smoothest, least-scary-looking jump. Good job, Mr. Clark.

The weather was also pretty goofy. It was starting to rain as we all headed out of the parking lot. It let up for a good bit, then started to rain hard enough to turn the group around about a half mile into the final lollipop of our normal loop. We retreated to the paved road that would be the quickest way back to our vehicles from our current, soggy location in the park only to have the rain let up again. We decided to hold our ride to an hour and head back on the pavement anyway.

A mile or so up the gradual climb, a possum scurried across the road and down a leaf-covered embankment. Ron does his best cyclocross dismount to chase the critter down on foot. I'm not sure why. When he caught up to the ugly lil sucker, it snapped and hissed at him. Again - weird.

Once we all got back to the lot, we noticed that we needed about seven more minutes to get our (daily) hour in on the bike. So, a little urban obstacle practice through the Visitor Center complex was in order. We found a set of whisky-barrel planters set in a row across the width of a wide sidewalk to keep vehicular traffic out. This was the perfect place to practice tight turns by zig-zagging between them. As Ron and I criss-crossed, he fell over only to land butt-first in one of the planters. In the process he knocked me down to the concrete in slow-motion. I have a big bruise on my right hip.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Thirty One...

...days and counting. I had talked to Ron Glowczynski about the fifty day challenge (part of his winter training ritual - ride every day for at least one hour for 50 consecutive days) and was willing to give it a shot. After 31 days in the bag, and I'm ready to move my goal up to 60.

I've been working 50+ hours every week for the last 4 weeks, lifting weights every Monday and Wednesday, and have still been able to squeeze in an hour a day. Why not set the sights a little higher? I feel awesome. I feel stronger.

Some days I ride very, very easy. Some days I ride for three hours or more. Some days for an hour and a half at race pace. I ride my singlespeed MTB one day, then my road bike on the trainer, then outside at night on the road, then my 'cross bike through the alleys of Roanoke. Variety, that's the secret to keeping the streak alive.

So, Ron is on day 136, or something ridiculous like that...