Saturday, May 31, 2008


Part Three - The Race

Remember the last movie you saw that totally surprised you? The one where you thought that you knew what to expect because you'd seen the previews? That was the Burn 24 Hour Race.

I have been racing in cross country mountain bike events for about five years. I've done some epics, a whole bunch of short, fast races and even some mountain bike time trials. I had nothing in my data banks to compare this event to since I've never tried anything like it. Being a 24 hour race rookie, my approach was to go in with one goal in mind - have fun. Let me tell ya, this is the event for that! My goal meshed well with the goal of our team (We called ourselves the D-List) which was to ride hard, have a good time, and hang out in the gooch RV. (See previous three posts) It was a blast from start to finish.

And much like a regular XC race, the starting line was packed full of nervous competitors, all with high hopes and a stomach full of butterflies. For some unexplained reason, I wasn't jittery. I felt relaxed because I knew that a steady pace and keeping our wits about us would be more beneficial than trying to win in the first lap.

The race was unique in that each team had a choice of how they would like to handle the Le Mans start. You could choose a designated runner (which we did) or place your bike in a transition area and run to it, pick it up and ride from there. Obviously, the solo guys and gals had to do the latter of the two.

Once we were rolling on the trail, I started picking off traffic that thought that they could win the race in the first lap. Although the trails were not very technical, riders were crashing everywhere due to impatience and traffic. Luckily, most didn't get hurt due to the fact that the cluster kept the speeds pretty low. By about mile number two, I was in a line with 3 or 4 guys riding a conservative, steady pace. In chatting with them I discovered that a couple were solo racers. My hat goes off to anyone with the kahunas to ride 24 solo. The "steady pace" was a bit quicker than I thought. My lap time for my first lap was 20th fastest overall for the entire event. Total for all racers for the entire event was somewhere about 2400 laps. I'm happy with that. I guess being relaxed helped.

As the day progressed and through many transitions, I concentrated on staying fueled and hydrated. Our team strategy was for each member to do one lap at a time until about midnight. Then we would let Pookie pull herself out of the night rotation and Skippy and I would do at least two laps per turn. The plan worked pretty well. We were all staying relatively fresh and maintaining good lap times. Sleep was pretty good thanks to the unfair advantage.

Morning was tough. I slept well from about 2 to 3:30am, but just didn't feel like I could do a lap when it was close to my turn. I felt really sluggish and a bit nauseous. I felt a little like you feel at 5:50 of a hard six hour ride. Pookie, after her planned refrain from doing night laps, emerged energized from her bunk already in her cycling clothes. "I'll go". Thank God. I needed to get some fuel in the system and get some blood flowing. I am a slow-waker. I can't jump out of bed in the morning and hit the ground running. I need to ease into the day. So, this sluggishness was normal for my body. After 30 minutes or so, I was back to my normal self and ready to get at it again.
Laps rolled by uneventfully. The trails became familiar and easy to navigate. I knew where to ease up and where to hammer. I could anticipate the turns and technical areas and ride accordingly. All in all, it was pretty easy for our first attempt at a 24 hour race. And because we were relaxed and having fun (and because we had creature comforts beyond compare) Team D-List pulled out an 8th place finish out of 23 teams. We finished 21st overall out of 115 entrants. It was a total surprise to me. Not only how well we did, but how different this event was. I'm not really sure what I expected before hand, but what I know as 24 hour racing now I really like.
Eddie O, the race promoter, should be commended for the fine job he did with this event. It ran smoothly, was well organized and a total blast. The folks at The Brushy Mountain Cycling Club have done an outstanding job of constructing an absolutely awesome network of trails. Every inch of singletrack is a ton of fun to ride. Thanks to everyone who was involved with making the Burn 24 Hour Challenge a huge success! Ya'll rock.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some pics from the Burn 24 Hour Challenge

I promise that part three of the race report is coming soon. Here are 7 pictures, each work 1000 words, but with captions (more words) thrown in for good measure. I figure this post is worth 7045 words - in case you're counting.

Me and the Rev at the start.

Yard sale.

Pookie rockets out of the woods near the end of her first lap.

I'm all smiles heading into the sunset.

Gotta hula.

Gitta hula, part two-la.

Me finishing off our last lap of the event.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008



Part Two - The Unfair Advantage

The rules for racing in a 24 hour mountain bike event are pretty simple; race as many laps as you can as a solo or a team (with anywhere from 2 to 5 members) in 24 hours. You can use any type of bicycle you want, you can be any level of racer, you can even use a unicycle if you think it will give you an advantage. But nowhere does it state that you must sleep in a tent. Nowhere does it require you to be uncomfortable for those 24 hours. You are completely within the rules if you stay at a posh, 5-star hotel with room service and a mini-bar. Trouble is, most 24 hour venues aren't anywhere near civilization. Well, at least not close enough to race a lap or two, travel back to your snooty, high-dollar hotel for some shut-eye, then travel back for your next turn. Just isn't practical.

But, there isn't any reason that you couldn't bring the hotel to the race venue!

On the Wednesday before the weekend of the big Burn 24 Hour Challenge, Pookie and I were busy packing tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, camp stoves, etc. for the upcoming adventure. Having camped the night before a race on a couple prior occasions, I knew the time off the bike was gonna suck. Camping is great. Racing is great. Camping and racing together suck. You don't get a good night's sleep because the ground is hard, you get cold, you get hot, you get hungry, it's loud in the majority of camp grounds, and it usually smells funny. Skunks love camp grounds.
I was up for it because it was a new challenge. I've never attempted anything like this before and wanted to see just how tough it would be. I mentally prepared myself for the suckiness.

And then Skippy calls me Thursday at work. I vividly remember the voicemail he left me. "You're not going to believe this." Then a long pause. My mind raced, full of worst-case scenarios. Did the event get cancelled? Was Skippy arrested and thrown in jail for indecent exposure? Did Chris run off to Thailand? WHAT?

"Adam got a 36 foot RV for us to use this weekend. I'm not kidding either. This is for real." Holy box of chocolate cover ants! An RV? It was like a giant weight was lifted from my shoulders. I could sleep inside and race? The whole 24 hour experience just got 900 times better, and it hadn't even started yet!

You see, Adam, his brother, and his dad own a company that does interiors and such for custom coaches. You know, tour buses for country singers. Nice RVs. One of their good customers who owns these coaches to rent out to people recently sent them this one for some work. Adam asked, and they were gracious enough to let us live in it for 24 hours.

It was like a dream come true. No hard ground. No barking dogs. No cows on a nearby farm that sounded like there were being mutilated by aliens. (Happened to us in WV - no lie)
The coach would be our base camp, our sanctuary, our hide-away from the noise and bustle that was the Burn 24 hour camp ground.

The thing was ginourmous. It took up an entire corner of the grassy parking area at the entrance to the event. I know if I had rolled in there and seen the thing, I would have immediately thought "I wonder what pro team that belongs to?" I'm sure most folks were confused as hell when they saw the banners hung on the outside. The Roanoke Cycling Organization banner is rather nice and unpretentious. The Team D-List banner that said "Press Pass Required" was the icing on the cake. It was meant as a joke, but no one ever came over to say hi the entire weekend. I think we scared 'em. Not in a "I bet they're really good" way, but more of a "I bet they're a bunch of snobby, euro-pro, high-dollar, someone get me a latte" kinda way. Sorry. Didn't mean to be snobbish. Our intent was to be comfortable, and it worked.

Team D-List, brought to you by El Toreo and Mail-It Plus would like to thank Star City Coachworks and Music City Coach for supporting us in this event. Having this incredible vehicle at our disposal made it possible for us to refuel, revive and rest after each of our stints on the race course. I sincerely believe that our results would not have been nearly as good had we been operating Team D-List from a tent. Thank you!!

The only problem now is that our impression of 24 hour events is skewed. We lived in an RV as nice as my house while most others stayed in tents and slept in their cars and trucks. We are now spoiled rotten - and loved every minute of those 24 hours!
Stay tuned!

Monday, May 26, 2008


Part One - The Team

The phone rang a couple months ago. I answered with the usual "Hey Dude" when the caller I.D. told me that it's Skippy on the other end. I don't remember the exact words from the conversation, but it was pretty close to "Hey man, what do you think about putting together a team for the Burn 24 hour race in May?" Having never raced in any type of event other than cross-country, I was a bit skeptical, yet still interested and intrigued. "Do you mean a team to try and win, or a team to just go have fun?" was my question to him. "Just to go have fun. I want to do a co-ed with you and Pookie on the team. Would you guys be up for it?" Since Pookie was listening in on the conversation (it was on speaker phone), she gave it the ole shoulder shrug and raised lip expression that almost 13 years of marriage has taught me to interpret as "Sure, I'll try it".

Skippy stepped up to be our team leader and point man for the organization and implementation of our plan to take over the world...well, something like that. He took charge of collecting our entry fees, getting us pre-registered and recruiting the other two racers who would round out our co-ed 5-person team. He also supplied the team with a name; The D-List. When you're a superstar, you're on the A-List. When you do commercials and occasionally get recognized in public, your B-List. When nobody knows who you are, you're C-List. Then, there's the D-List. That's us. We fly way under the radar.

Here's the D-List roster:

Skippy - Age 30 - Expert MTB Racer. Team Leader. You'd be amazed how fast he can go downhill on a hardtail. I've seen him whoop up on a big singlespeed field at the Poor Farm Cup in Ashland, VA a couple years back. I've seen him break more bike parts in a single season than I own at any one time. He's also one of the easiest people to strike up a conversation with that I've ever met.

Chris - Age 39 - Sport MTB Racer. I've known Chris for about four years and have seen go from a pure beginner to a very strong rider and racer in a very short time. He seems like he's always in a good mood, even when he's not. I heard him tell a story once about being so mad he wanted to rip some one's head off, but had to laugh because he smiled the whole time he told it. (Remember the hardwood floors in your house Chris?) He'd also go out of his way to help anyone at the drop of a hat. One quality individual.

Adam - Age 27 - Clydesdale MTB Racer. Adam is the quiet, unassuming type - until you really get to know him. Then he's the quiet, unassuming type with quick wit and a mastery of cut-ups. He can also hammer pretty good on a bike. He's been beating up the competition in Clydesdale class in SW Virginia this season. And, he is the man when it comes to finding us an almost unfair advantage for this 24 hour race. (More on that in a future post)

Pookie - Age 19 (Hah! You'll have to guess her real age) - Expert/Singlespeed Chicky. We put her on the team because she has boobs. So does Adam, but his are fake. She also races on a singlespeed and routinely beats all the other women on geared bikes over the same course. I married up. She would be our secret weapon. Girls aren't supposed to ride singlespeeds as fast as she does.

Me - Age 39 13/16 - Expert/Singlespeed racer. I was just along for the experience. I wanted to see how hard I could push myself, and how well I could recover. I never had a problem leading up to a race, but seemed to habitually do the wrong things after a race. This was my chance to test some things I had been doing differently s0 far this season. I am also the token Italian guy on the team.

The Other Secret Weapons:

Moe - Skippy's wife. Official team timekeeper, peace keeper, care-giver, cheerleader and commander of the racer rotation board.

Angelia - The glue that would hold it all together. She could tell you where anything or anyone was when asked...unless she was sleeping.

So team D-List was set. Coming up next, the unfair advantage. Stay tuned!

Please remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation. If you see a soldier, thank them for what they do. They could someday lay their lives down to so you don't have to.

Friday, May 23, 2008

All nighter

Saturday at noon it begins. Our team of 5 goes round and round and round the Dark Mountain trails in NC. Many reports and photos when we return. Wish us luck...we'll need it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


So you want to learn CPR? Better get it right or one of the sponsors of the Red Cross class (look closely at the Dummy's T-shirt) will get some more business.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The Rig now sports a White Brothers Rock Solid carbon fork that I will be reviewing for the folks over at 29 inches dot comerino. I'll be putting her through her paces at this weekend's Burn 24 Hour Challenge in Wilksboro, NC, and perhaps the following weekend at the Derailer #3 in Lynchburg, VA.

Stay tuned for the complete, thorough review in a couple weeks.

Monday, May 19, 2008

RACE REPORT: VA Derailer Race #2 - Fat Tire Frenzy

The trails at Falling Creek Park in Bedford have become one of my favorite places to ride. What they lack in quantity (there are less than 10 miles of trail total), they certainly make up for in quality. Each section of the park has unique features that make for an enjoyable ride - or race.

The newly named Fat Tire Frenzy drew over 100 racers this year and was blessed with absolutely perfect weather. Pookie and I rolled into the park at about 9:30am and the temperature was a pleasant 62 degrees. We were greeted by a fuller-than-usual parking lot. Kenny Palmer, race director extraordinaire and all-around good guy, has worked tirelessly on building the park's network of trails and promoting this and other events at Falling Creek. It's nice to see his hard work paying off! We changed into out Team El Toreo kits, grabbed some pre-race refreshment and sped off to warm up.

We found the trails to be in great shape, despite of the recent heavy rains. They were just wet and tacky enough for good grip, and not at all dusty. There's nothing worse than getting behind someone in a race on a dusty trail. Cough, cough!! None of that today, thankfully!

I could tell that my hardware and software were in good working order. My legs didn't feel too heavy or tight, I was pedaling well in the saddle and while standing. My recent crash at Danville was 99% healed - only a slight scab remained. My brain was full of happy thoughts. The birds were singing and I was one with the trail. I even remembered to hit my inhaler 20 minutes prior to the race start. Bonus!

So this week the Singlespeeds were all lumped in with the Sport class riders at the start. There were 47 riders starting at once. I don't think any of us in SS were thrilled about that. No biggie, I'd just have to hit it harder at the start to get in front of all the traffic before entering the singletrack. This course is loaded with places to pass. The first half mile or so is a wide-open, uphill grassy road that leads to a paved bike path. I know why the race is called the "frenzy" now; the start was a ferocious pedaling frenzy on a singlespeed! Try out-gunning an entire group of gung-ho geared Sport guys all aiming for the same patch of limited singletrack real estate. It was pretty crazy.

I hit the single track in or around 6th place. The G-man was two positions up on me (I think). We were all bunched up for the first half mile of twisty, you-can't-pass-here trail. Then at the first uphill doubletrack, G-Man got ahead of all the Sports and I worked into a spot right behind him. We were within about 100 feet for the next mile or so. But, around each bend I could see him getting a bigger and bigger gap on me. He's very strong and half my age, but I'll catch him some day! (Probably when he gets a flat)

Through the rest of the race I battled with jet lag, but not any other SS racers. At one point Chip (who has been riding waaaay strong) was fairly close to being on my tail. I hit the after burners for about 3 minutes and was able to open up a gap that would stick for the rest of the race. Turns out the Allen Campbell had worked his way past Chip in the 2nd lap to take over third place.

And that's how we ended up on the podium;
1st - Gordon W. Wadsworth
2nd - Me
3rd - Allen Campbell

Thanks to KP for all of the hard work putting on this event! Excellent, excellent job! And congrats to all of the racers and friends who brought home the swag.

Yenski - 1st Expert 36-49
Pookie - 1st Singlespeed Women
Jen - 1st Sport Women 18-35
Adam - 1st Clydesdale

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Racing with, and against, jet lag

Lucky for me, I don't have to travel much for business these days. A few years back my wife referred to frequent flyer miles as "friggin' flyer miles". I was always jetting from one city to another. She was always supportive, even though I could tell she wasn't thrilled that I was away. Times have changed and I can travel alot less. I'm happy with being home alot. Air travel has become pretty cumbersome and unattractive. Still there are times when I must. (In order to make the cash that supports my bike habit).

Duty called me to the biggest little city on Earth, Reno, NV. It's a quirky place. The Sierra Nevadas provide a scenic backdrop, but the city itself isn't much to look at. No offense if you like Reno (or any other city in the desert for that matter) I just like lush, green mountains and trees and grass...

So on Wednesday at 6am I boarded a plane in Roanoke bound for Charlotte, NC. Then Phoenix, AZ. Then Reno. You see, you can't get there from here. It's the same story coming back; Reno-Denver-Charlotte-Roanoke. Traveling is hard. Especially when you're trying to be prepared for a race the weekend of your return.

I think I did some things right, for a change. First of all, I stayed on East Coast time. I went to bed when it was 7pm in Reno and got up at 3:30am for the couple days I was there. I tried to keep my eating schedule consistent with my sleep schedule, and for the most part did fairly well at it. The second thing I did was stay hydrated. I drank lots (but not too much) water and ate a good deal of fruit.

So when I rolled up to the line at Falling Creek Park for the Fat Tire Frenzy mountain bike race, I wasn't sure what my body would give me after the shortest long-distance business trip I think I've ever been on. I didn't feel jet lagged. At least not yet. The only effect that was obvious was that my brain wasn't working correctly. I never forget the camera on race day. I forgot the camera on race day. Thus, crappy photos on this post. I'll see if I can steel some from other bloggers from the event.

The field this year was the largest this venue had ever seen. Over 100 racers flocked to this little gem of a park in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Surprisingly, only five racers total showed up to race on singlespeeds. My wife was the only singlespeed chicky.
I remembered my inhaler this time and things went alot better. I took 2nd in SS men, and Pookie took 1st is SS women.
Stay tuned for a full race report soon!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


My wife is my hero. Despite her old age, she's kicking every one's butt on her singlespeed this year. Riding over, through and up things that would make most men whimper in wimpiness, she continues to improve her riding and golf game. Not to mention that she's a hottie.

She brings home the majority of the race swag as she dominates the chicky ranks with ease. She could probably place pretty well racing against the men quite honestly.

She's the Chuck Norris of chickys. I am a lucky man, indeed!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


It looks bad, but it's feeling better. I still think it was an ambush by Bigfoot. What else could it have been?

Monday, May 05, 2008

RACE REPORT: VA Derailer Series #1 - The Southside Scrable - Danville, VA

Scene 1 - The racers of Team El Toreo assemble and prepare to do battle on the twisty, undulating singletrack of Anglers Park in Danville. Both Schimizzis were back after last year's absence.
Scene 2 - The race is off to a quick start and I get into the singletrack in second position. The lead man crashes hard in front of me in the first 200 yards and I slip into 1st.
As soon as the trail ends and the gravel road begins, the plot thickens for yours truly. My lungs are on fire with the usual (yet still somehow unexpected) mid-spring allergies. Therefore the legs are not getting the oxygen needed to keep up with the G man (your eventual race winner) and a host of others that slip by before the next singletrack section begins.
Across a creek and through a few steep switchbacks...blah blah blah. The entire race is a series of twists, turns, grunts, drops, and more turns, and then more turns...a blur of fast, fun racing.
Scene 3 - What stands out for me happened next, at about mile number 2 of 15. BAM! I hit the ground hard. It wasn't a particularly technical section, or an off-camber turn. In fact, I don't have a clue what actually happened. All I know is that I crashed hard, jumped up as fast as I could and tried to get back to race pace. When I looked down at my left leg I got a bit worried. A big scrape/gash was oozing blood. If it was gushing, I would have stopped, but oozing I could handle. And it stung...bad. I never stopped, but tried to take a mental inventory of the rest of my body to make sure nothing else hurt. Nope, just the leg. Cool. I decided that I was going to live and started getting back to the business of finishing this race. I wasn't sure what position that I was in or if I could catch anyone, but I was gonna try.
The shot of adrenaline from the crash made me forget about my searing lungs. They would soon remind me of their less than perfect working order. After about 5 miles or so, I realized that part of my pre-race ritual had been forgotten; the inhaler. And I never bring it with me in my jersey pocket either. Dumb move. Note to self - bring your damn inhaler.
Oh well, you win some, you lose some. At this point I was content just to finish. I knew I would be last and didn't are. The goals for the day were to have fun and to finish, and I could still do both.
Scene 4 - I rolled on up to the finish line hardly able to straighten my left leg. The bleeding stopped along time ago, but the knot at the top of the abrasion had gotten tighter and tighter as the race wore on. I couldn't stand to pedal, and I couldn't muster any power while seated. I guess I was out of options. I could only go about 5 mph for the last three miles. It hurt then and still hurts now, but I'll heal.

Epilog - As it turns out, I didn't do as terrible as I thought. I rolled up to the line in 6th out of 9. There will be better days ahead for me.

The gash will heal and I'll get another crack at this awesome course next year. Perhaps I'll make the trip for the Southern Classic race in June. Maybe I can find what it was that crashed me. My theory is that it was a Bigfoot, or an elf with a blow dart.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

So, how was your race?

Before moving on to any of the other pictures, look closely at the first one. Full race report will follow soon...

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Conflicted again. Vet Expert or Singlespeed in this year’s VA Derailer Series? I ain't skeered of the length. It would be good for me when SMT100 rolls around. I just don't like rolling into a race without a prayer of placing in the top 1/4 of finishers. I am strong enough to compete against other singlespeeders over the Expert-length courses, but against geared guys I am doubting my ability to hang on. Several courses have sections that a big ring beats 32x19 every time. And in some cases these sections are at the very end where a SS could lose one or two minutes.

So my solution is to race SS class against the 20 year olds. So what if I'm twice their age. The opportunity to race against Experts will come in the Dirty Dawg in June and the Carvins Cove Cross Country in July. If I get shelled, it's only one race. I may venture over to WV to race in the WVMBA SS class, which is the same length as the Experts. Maybe SS Expert class will emerge in Virginia next season.