Friday, March 30, 2007

The most important aspect of MTB racing

Most of the other racers in my circle of friends are thinking about getting their bikes ready for this Sunday's Dirty Dawg race at Mountain Lake. Tire pressure is being contemplated, suspensions adjusted, drive trains tuned...I've spent time on all of these things as well.

Others are keeping close tabs on themselves; diet, rest, recovery, soreness, etc.

But, the most important piece of the puzzle is being tested on my commute to and from work (by car, gotta save my legs for Sunday).

I'm talking about the playlist. What makes a race more fun than some excellent music? I've recently spent some time online downloading some up-tempo alternative for my "Race" playlist like Nine Black Alps, Thirsty Merc and We Are Scientists. The "Warm-up" playlist is pure power - enough to propel me into a frenzy that not even the strongest cup of morning coffee could equal. It contains Hatebreed, Static-X and Slipknot. Ear bleeding at it's best.

I can't listen to death metal while I'm actually racing. It just puts me too far over the top. But, for warming up there's nothing better. The consistant rythms of modern alternantive keep me at a perfect tempo throughout an entire event without getting too slow, or too fast. Yes, it is possible to listen to music that's is too fast for racing. Too much audio adreneline can cause you to go into turns too hot or blow up your legs on a long climb.

Rock on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rain outside, intervals inside





Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Adam hates us"

Park, suit up and climb. Dragons Backhits you hard. You climb forever. Once you reach the ridge and think it's going to flatten out, you still have to climb some more. Adam (center) had never ridden the Dragon. He was totally unaware of the hell yet to come!

I think I can, I think I can...five attempts later, I still couldn't.

The climb to the ridge top was brutal. Downed trees were everywhere and the leaves were three feet thick in places...

...but the payoff is a million dollar view!

Sweeeeeet rock gardens are everywhere on the back of this Dragon!

Chip is one happy Camper on his new GF 29er.

Pookie is riding strong on her new fancy Kona full suspension bike. Nice face.

Left to right
Adam: "You call this fun?"

Alan: "First I almost lose my Garmin, then I bust up my derailleur on my new bike...I'm not riding with you people anymore!"

Yours truly: "I need a haircut."

Chip was going camping, we broke Alan's new bike, and Adam wanted to kill us for dragging him up and down this God-forsaken mountain. Thus the group dwindled to two, so Pookie and I rode The Ring of Fire a couple times.

Actually, I think everyone had a good time. This is one incredible place to ride.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

UPDATED: The season ahead....

Had a couple of incorrect dates. Thanks Ashwin!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Scales of the fire breathing dragon

Wanna slay the beast? Feeling feisty? Come on out this Saturday March 24th to ride Dragon's Back race course. We will be meeting at 9am at the gas station/store on RT311 near the the Dragon's Tooth parking lot. We'll caravan to the trail head on Wildlife Rd. (This is a National Forest road, so bring your SUV or Subaru) The ride will be at least 18 miles and requires good fitness and technical skill. We'll be climbing up on to the back of the dragon twice, so your singlespeed isn't the best choice. (I've done it - I wouldn't do it again.)

Please RSVP to

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Two weeks from today!

Hard to believe that it's almost time to start racing again! My season is kicking off almost a month earlier than last year, when my first race was the April 28th Poor Farm Cup in Richmond, VA. The first competitive pedal stroke will be April 1st at Mountain Lake in Giles County.

I've ridden there on a few occasions, and although several races have been held there, I've never participated in any. I think I know what to expect, but I have been wrong before. Like every other race, my #1 goal is to have have fun. I have a secondary goal of finishing, but that's usually up to the bike to decide. I'd love to place well, but you never know who going to show up and hand you your buttocks. Ned Overend might be in town for some reason and roll up to the line to destroy the Expert Vet class.
With a race venue situated at about 4000 feet above sea level, the weather could turn out to be a factor as well. In 1999 (or 2000 perhaps, I really can't remember) I went to Mountain Lake to watch a friend race in early October. Although it was about 50 degrees here in Roanoke, the race was snowy and cold.(The photo isn't from that race, but it looked just like this!)
I've been training differently than I ever have in the past. Most winters were spent beating myself to a pulp every ride on my singlespeed. This year I've used a much more methodical approach. I've used a heart rate monitor religiously, concentrated on building a strong base, I've not treated every ride like a race so my legs should be fresher, I've done more stretching and core strengthening than ever before, and I've been smarter about recovery. My goal is to be very fast by the NORBA national at Sugar Mountain, NC in July. Mountain Lake will be a really good test to see if any of this is working.

Mountain Lake will be fun for sure, but you never know what will happen!!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Time change, time to change.

So the time is here again...although earlier than normal. I'm talking about daylight savings time. Thanks to some new Government initiative to save energy, we've now got some more daylight to take advantage of in the evening - bonus.! It also means that it's darker later in the morning - points off. I have to use a headlight when biking to work again, just like in the dead of winter.

So riding the usual Thursday evening Explore Park loop without needing artificial illumination for the first time in six months is always a blast. Since everyone sees the trail better in the daylight, the group goes out fast after the time change, and this was no exception.

The skies threatened rain all afternoon, but could muster no more than a few sprinkles. The smell of spring showers was everywhere. It felt like May more than March, but I'm not complaining!
Upon arrival, everyone got to check out Pookie's new King Kikapu full suspension, Skippy's new Land Rover/Cannondale team kit and Adam's new ultra-hooked-up King/Stans Arch 355 wheelset for his 29er that hasn't arrived yet.

It was neat that former European Pro road racer and good buddy Todd Roberts came with us. Todd is strong, but mountain biking is new to him so he takes it pretty easy.

That was great for me since this ride falls in the midst of an easy training week and I really didn't want to hammer. It was hard not chasing Skippy (who already has a NORBA AMBC race under his belt) because it's so much fun to fly through Explore's singletrack.
We all settled into a more manageable pace just as the rains arrived to liven things up. It wasn't hard enough to make things muddy, but did make the abundant roots slicker than we're all used to. Everyone had fun getting sideways, but no major catastrophes.

It's now the time of year that we leave Explore Park behind and switch the Thursday-nighter to Carvins Cove. I probably won't ride here again for the next six months, until the time changes again. With all the trail improvements that are going on at the Cove, we'll have many more loop options to choose from so each week's ride can be different. Very cool.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Backroads and farm animals

Full effect.

Another ride into a headwind!

Bradshaw Rd., heading toward Ironto.

Smooth, new, silky blacktop.

Most excellent stonework.

Goat, it's what's for dinner.

Seneca Valley Rd.

You bet your ass it was a good ride!

Pookie getting the evil eye from behind.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Please clarify...

The Blue Ridge Bicycle Club has publicly declared support for the building of the Rockledge Inn on Mill Mountain. Can anyone give me three reasons how this project promotes, supports or enhances cycling specifically?