Thursday, February 28, 2008

More pics from MXFCP#1



Pain. (but still fun.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

...and I was right!

Start time: 5:45pm
Start temperature: 32 degrees
Finish time: 7:50pm
Finish temperature: 25 degrees
Sustained winds: 20mph
Gusts: 50mph

I still can't feel my toes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm gonna miss the beard tomorrow.

A month ago I was grizzly. When I shaved it off I thought we'd seen the last of the cold weather for this year.

I was planning on riding a couple hours tonight, but the rain changed my plans for me. I could have ridden an hour on the trainer in the basement, but I would rather stab myself in the eye with a skewer.

So, I'll do a couple hours tomorrow night - when it's 30 degrees with 50 mph winds. Man, I wish I still had the beard. It's gonna be cold out there.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Don't miss mountaincross #2!

This is Chad.
Mountaincross#1 at Falling Creek Park was Chad's first race ever.
Chad is a Pittsburgh Steeler fan.
Chad had fun at Mountaincross#1.
Chad smiled the entire race.
Mountaincross#2 will by held Saturday, March 8th.
You should race Mountaincross#2.
You will have fun like Chad.

Go here to learn more.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Up on the mountain again.

I'm uuuup on the mountain again. I'm uuuuuuup! (To the tune of Aerosmith's Back in the Saddle.) It's only February, and this is about the 10th ride I've put in up on Mill Mountain Park. It's within easy riding distance from my front door (4 miles to the trailhead) and offers some pretty challenging terrain for something so close to downtown Roanoke. The mountain is proving to be a fabulous training ground.

Pookie and I headed up there today to put in a couple hours of moderate singlespeeding. The climbs are making her stronger indeed. She cleared a especially tricky section of Woodthrush this morning for the very first time. The picture looks pretty tame, but if you've ever ridden this section, you know that beneath the slippery leaves lies a minefield of softball sized rocks. It's no easy climb when you're standing up mashing the pedals on a SS - and you're a girl. She's turning into a tough little singlespeeder.

Some other trails presented more technical challenges. The leaves are crazy up on the mountain right now on some of the lesser-traveled trails.

We tagged along with Wes from East Coasters (you know, flamed out mini-van with 22" wheels Wes) on his slick GF 69er. It was great to have a bit of company on our ride.

After about two hours, we had to get home in hurry. My phone rang and someone wanted to look at out house. It has been on the market a couple weeks and we've been getting a good bit of activity. Trouble is, we have to be ready to show it at the drop of a hat - just like today. Another good reason to put in some training rides close by on Mill Mountain.
It's a pretty silly thing, but I always try to keep my team gear visible in the basement when someone is going to view the house. Our sponsors are generous enough to support our racing habit, the least I can do is get them as much visibility as possible!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Falling Creek Park Mountaincross - Race Report

Falling Creek Park in Bedford is becoming one of my favorite places to ride. Every time I go there I see newly built trails. Kenny Palmer at Bedford County is doing an incredible job at building fun locations for a day on the bike.

When he posted on his site that a Mountaincross (part MTB race, part cyclocross race) race was soon to go down, I was in from the very moment I found out. Kenny does a great job at running these events. He alway picks fun and challenging courses - today was no exception.

The Blue Ridge School MTB bus was a pretty cool thing to see. What an awesome idea and a great advertisement for promoting phyical fitness and mountain biking to the young 'uns. These guys were super nice and very good riders. It's always nice to run across folks who have as much fun at the races as I do.

Low and behold, T. Roberts was frolicing about with his trusty doggie sidekick. He did a quick Rig inspection to ensure all was in order. (This was not an official capacity, more like "Hey Todd, check out my cool bike.") He tells me he'll be time trialing again this spring. Go get 'em, Todd! (The dude is a former VA state road racing champ - and faster than greased moose poop.)

I did a pretty long warmup. Almost an hour. Legs felt good, bike felt good, I felt good. That's good. Good is always better than not good.

The crowd assembled, and riders started by order of ability from Beginner to Expert. The Equalizer format is pretty cool. The more inexperienced a racer you are, the more of a head start you get. The beginners went off about 15 minutes before those of us who lined up in Expert class. I was in the company of Mike Coco and Calub Walton, so I knew the race would hurt. One of the fellas from Blue Ridge School was also racing Expert. Luckily I am in the geezer (Vet) Expert class and got a 30 second head start on them.

I tried to ride as hard as I could for as long as I could. I knew I would have some fast company coming up from behind.

One other racer decided to line up on a Rig. Another of the Blue Ridge School group. He rode strong and held his own again all the other geared folks.

About 3/4 of a lap in, I was surpried to still be all alone. I kept hitting it as hard as I could. There were a few sections of downhill in an open field that I expected the other Experts to catch me. They all brought geared bikes to the party.

I wasn't until the end of my 2nd lap when I saw Calub about 200 yards behind me. I kicked it a bit more, looked back a couple minutes later but never saw him again.

Lap 3 goes by, then I reach the start/finish area where Kenny tells me I have 1 more. I start lap four and get passed shortly into it by the Expert dude from Blue Ridge School. He was way smooth. It was fun to watch him ride. It looked almost effortless. I guess it would be easier if I went back in time and started riding and racing when I was 16. I expected to see Coco next, but somehow he never passed me. I found out later that Calub DNF'd due to not feeling well.

In the end, after the Equalizer equalized everyone, I finished 5th overall. I had an awesome time and really enjoyed the course. Kenny is talking about possibly having another MX in March...I certainly hope he does. I'll be there if it goes down. You should be too - it's short, hard as crap, but loads of fun!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Yo Wes, I gots some ideas, yo...

Wes should flame it out and roll on some dub-dubs. Dat van would be the forshiznizdizzledrizzle!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Purple Power

Race season #3 together. Last year I raced another bike. Last year sucked. I am again one with The Purple People Eater.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The night the lights went out in Roanoke

Two Hour Tuesdays. During my three week training blocks I do a two hour ride every tuesday night. I can be rolling out my door by 5:45. It gets dark around 6:30, so I have to take some illumination with me until the time changes in March. Tonight I set off to ride my usual loop around Mill Mountain. Four miles from my door to the trailhead. Sweet.

So far this year the wind has been relentless. Tonight was no different. 20 mph+. Trails are either scoured clean of all debris, or axle deep in leaves. Most of Mill Mountain's Woodthrush trail was buried in leaves that are dry, yet still slippery.

About an hour and a half in, my HID dims. I know what's coming next. Darkness. I try to make it to the park's signature star before calling Pookie for an auto rescue, but the light dies while I'm still working through the last quarter mile of single track. What an adventure that is! Here's how you can experience it yourself; ride down any trail at regular speed, now close your eyes.

At least I could better appreciate the city lights below. The moon was almost bright enough to ride by. Perhaps if I was riding on the road, but the trails were just too dark. I about wrapped myself around more than one tree, but I arrived at the visitor center unharmed and awaited my rescue.
This Two Hour Tuesday was cut a little short. Bummer. I gotta go charge my battery now...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Anyone? Anyone?

Everyone is chickening out on me. The City of Bedford is hosting a mountaincross race this Saturday at Falling Creek Park, but as far as I know I'm the only one from Team El Toreo that will be there. I'd like some company. Even my lovely wife is wishy-washy on this one. I know it's only February, but I'm ready to RACE!

Just in case you're interested, this mountaincross event isn't like the four cross, semi-downhill stuff you see on the Jeep adventure whatchamacallit program on TV. This is basically a cyclocross race on a mountain bike. You can use a 'cross bike if you want, but the trails at this park are definatley more fat tire friendly.

The race format is also pretty unique. From what I can gather, everyone is racing against everyone else. No classes. However, the higher your skill level, the more time you are held back at the start. The object is to complete as many of the short laps as you can in your allotted time. For example, the beginners have 55 minutes, but I'll have only 38 1/2 minutes in the Expert Vet class to try to do more laps than the beginners who started before me. Think of the handicap system in golf. Instead of getting strokes taken off of your round, you get to add time to do more laps. Whoever has the most laps wins.

Here's the link. Please come out and race. It will be fun. I promise.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday Feb. Whatever, 2008

Morning: 60 miles on the 'cross bike. Lots of climbing.
Afternoon: Clouds rolled in (in spectacular fashion).

Evening: Good friends helped to welcome home our good buddy after he fought fires in Iraq for a year. It's good to have you back Todd!

But wait, there's more....

*Our house is on the market. Fear not, we're not planning on moving out of Roanoke. Our goal is a larger home more suited for entertaining. We've had 7 different people look at our house in the first week that we've had it on the market, so signs are good that it will move quickly. We've found a house we love, but the owner refused our initial offer, and our counter offer. It isn't really overpriced, we're just cheap. We low-balled it because the property is vacant and has been on the market six months. Once we've sold ours, we'll hit them up again - probably still lower than what they want, but it can't hurt to try!
*I'm buying a set of new golf clubs. The anticipation is overwhelming! It's like buying a new bike. Will I be faster just by haveing some new bits of metal beneath me? Will I finally be able to keep up with (insert fast rider's name here)? And then when you finally get it, you realize that you have to work just as hard as you always did. You may feel more comfortable riding it, but in the end you still feel the pain.I wonder what my game will be like with these new, high-tech, graphite, super-gooch sticks. Probably about the same as it was before, but more expensive when I get boiling mad and wrap one around a frickin' tree!

*I finally got a flat using Stan's. I'm not sure what happened, but after my last ride on the Rig, the front tire went completely flat. Some detective work is in order...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where is it?

Identify this trail's location. (Skip, Adam, Brian -aka Snuggletruck, Chris and Pookie are not eligible to answer this trivia question.)

Grand prize for the correct answer: Absolutely nothing - but the satisfaction of knowing where you can go ride this mega-cool trail furiture.

Rules: One entry per household. Must be a US resident of legal drinking age with valid NASA Astronaut in Training membership, or eqivilent.

Deadline for submissions: Now!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A strong start for Roanoke Valley Greenways in 2008

Yesterday I attended the annual breakfast retreat for Pathfinders for Greenways, the organization here in Roanoke that recuits volunteers for trailwork and greenway maintenance. I have served on the board of directors for the past couple years. I'm proud to be part of helping to expand our greenway system.

We kick off 2008 with some high expectations, lofty goals and excitment to what the new year brings. Our organization is mainly responsible for the construction of class "C" greenways, otherwise known as trails or footpaths. Singletrack, my fellow mountain bikers. There will be many opportunities to volunteer your time this spring and summer to help build new trail, and I will post details here as they are available. The best thing you can do (if you haven't already) is go to and sign up to receive the email alerts that will be sent out every time a trail work day is scheduled. Stay in the loop, yo.

A very exciting project continues to move forward; The Roanoke River Greenway is now growing from both ends! If you visit Green Hill Park in Salem, you'll notice that construction is underway on the ribbon of blacktop that stretches from there all the way to Vinton! (Well, right to the edge of Vinton I guess) Many of you already know how awesome the newest section of the RRG is that runs from Wasena Park to 13th street along the bench cuts for the ongoing Corps of Engineers flood reduction project. When complete, the RRG will stretch over 12 miles and become the backbone of the entire Roanoke Valley Greenways system. Good stuff.

Stay tuned for more!!