Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving Report

Like most, I look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with all the eating and hanging around the table with my family. In recent years, a couple new traditions have developed for our Thanksgiving celebration:
1. The men go play golf on Thursday morning
2. I take my niece(s) for a mountain bike ride.

One is not neccessarliy as fun as the other. Golf, for example, is not my idea of a super fun time. I've played a grand total of 36 holes of golf in my entire life, both on Thanksgiving Day. Now, I don't mind the driving range and I don't really dislike the game of golf. I respect those who can play it well because I understand the difficulty of hitting that darn round ball and doing so with finesse. For most of the round, I was hitting the ball straight down the fairway. My tee shots were typically long and in the fairway, but my 2nd shots sucked! I almost always topped the ball and couldn't get under the thing, so although it would still go straight, it would only go about 20-50 yards. Then if I did get under it, I'd launch it past the green about 15 yards. My putts got better as the day progressed, but the greens were so fast, we might as well as been putting on plywood.

Taking my niece(s) for a mountain bike ride -- now THAT's fun! I have 3 nieces and a nephew who are all into different things. The oldest niece, Catie, loves riding her bike and I'll be darned if I won't support that! I started this new tradition last year by offering the choice of some present from a department store for her birthday or going out for a ride. She much prefers and anticipates our rides. This time, her sister, Becky (second oldest) wanted to tag along. So on Friday afternoon, off we went. Bikes loaded, brakes adjusted, Camelbak full. For Thanksgiving, our family usually hangs at my parent's house in Macon, GA. Now, I can't stand riding in Macon because the trails are only 4-5 mile loops and they're just neverending technical puzzles that afford no opportunity for the REAL fun of opening up the throttle and letting loose. I've gotten so spoiled with the mountains of North GA, TN and NC that I just don't like the trails in Macon. But my nieces, well, they don't know any better and a 4-5 mile loop is a good ride for them.

We rode for about an hour, but started by playing around on some dirt jumps that OMBA (Macon chapter of SORBA) has built in the field at the Thomson trails. You'll recognize that name, Thomson, because it's likely on your seatpost or handlebar stem! Interestingly, when I lived in Macon and was working for an industrial supply house after high school, LH Thomson Company was a customer of mine. When I discovered that they made these really sweet bike components, it was nice to have something to be proud of come from Macon! The dirt jumps were fun for the girls and I showed them how to roll over them. They kept wanting me to jump them, but given my last jumping incident that resulted in a titanium rod in my right arm, I played it safe and just gave them a quick bunny hop over a large log. That quieted the requests for jumps and off we went to the trailhead.

Here are some pictures from our ride:
1. Catie & Becky preride
2. Catie on the dirt jump
3. Becky on the dirt jump
4. Catie on trail
5. Becky post ride

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Double Dare Report

The quick and dirty review: I raced with Kirstin Reff, adventure racer who was outta shape this time around -- bad girl! That's okay, she got her fair share of the big hurt. Truth be told, Kirstin's a tough rider who (for some reason) has taken the last couple of months off from mountain biking and has just been on her road bike. Great training, but not for Pisgah. Our game plan: enjoy the ride! Use this for training going into the winter months. I'm planning to do my first off road century in April and I just wanted two good days in Pisgah.

Day 1: Mandatory CP at Farlow Gap. We took off from White Pines and headed to Fish Hatchery where we picked up Cat Gap Loop (yes, we hiked it) and took that to Butter Gap. Butter Gap to Long Branch to Glouchester Gap to Farlow Gap. I was having chain issues and my only climbing gear was 2-1 so I was turning a 34-34. Not bad for the Farlow climb, but I had to fix that little problem before Day 2. We found out on the way up to Farlow Gap that there was a bear hunt in progress with dogs on the run. Since the informant didn't advise of any danger to us after having advised him of our potential route, we rode on not giving it another thought. Besides, we had a headwind up to Farlow that was our main concern at that moment.

Once at Farlow, we refueled the bodies and took off down FS140A. At the bottom, Kirstin took a swim in a little pool of VERY muddy water. That's what ya get when you don't stop in time! We gave a group of bear hunters something funny to break up their day. We found out that the bear was about 400 pounds and coming around the ridge not far behind us - now they tell us! After a brief attempt to get the CP at Courthouse Falls, we decided things were getting sketchy with hunters and bears and ensuing nightfall so we turned our trusty bikes towards FS 5003 back to Glouchester Gap. At the intersection of 140A and 5003, we picked up a dog that had been left and since we knew there were hunters on the other side of the ridge, where we were headed, we took the ol' boy with us, hoping to find one of the hunters rounding up their lost ones. We got to Glouchester and got ol' boy a ride home after which we turned our wheels towards White Pines. Downhill all the way!

Day 1 total: 3 CP's, ~40 miles and about 10 hours of riding.

Day 2: Up for the rider meeting and to get the passport for the day, then it was back to the tent to review the day in my head. Kirstin was a bit difficult to get stirring but I made the most of the morning by getting some hot oatmeal and stretching the legs a bit. We left camp about 9:40am with the plan to get the mandatory CP at Turkeypen Gap swinging bridge, while obtaining the CP at the intersection of Black Mtn trail with Turkeypen Gap trail on the way. This was not our best day at all, but we made the most of it.

Day 2 total: 2 CP's, ~25 miles and about 7 hours on the bike.

Here are the pictures: Day 1
Kirstin's handstand at Butter Gap
Kisrtin @ Butter Gap Long Branch Intersect

Me at Farlow Gap (finally)!
Charles @ Farlow Gap

Kirstin, just after her swim in this muddle
Kirstin Posing for Her Swim

Me at the intersection of FS 140A and FS 5003, on our way back to Glouchester Gap
Charles @ FS140A - FS5003

Day 2 Photos

A couple from the intersection of Black Mtn Trail and Turkeypen Gap Trail
Bags on the post, Black Mtn Trail
Charles & Kirstin @ Black Mtn

Here's the WaltWorks trailside on Turkeypen Gap Trail
Turkeypen Gap Trail
Leaf in Derailleur

And here we are at the swinging bridge near Turkeypen Gap. We were a little drained!
Charles & Kirstin at Turkeypen Gap Bridge

Again, a great weekend even if we weren't in the running. It was nice to meet Mike Brown and it was good to see folks like Brado, Zach, MUM, Peter, and Eric again.

Thanks again, Eric, for putting on a great race that is atypical and by far, not the norm! Each race of yours reminds me why I really got into mountain biking in the first place.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Tree Shaker 12 hour MTB challenge. Hmmm, that's what Neal Boyd called his new little race at Renaissance Park in Charlotte but while I rode the course over the 12 hour timeframe, I came up with a few other names:

12 Rooty Rounds of Reni
12 Hours of Root

I cannot remember the others now, but hopefully you get the picture: the course was pretty darn rooty! I had forgotten just how rooty the trails at Reni Park are. Did that take away from the fun? Nope! I had probably my best race ever this past weekend. My objective, as stated before, was to ride hard until I dropped. Secretly I wanted 100 miles. I wanted to spend more time riding this race than I have in the past. As you may know doing any one thing for 12 hours takes a lot of physical and mental effort. Think about your work day -- do you stay focused on work for 8 or 10 hours? Nope. Same applies to riding a bike. In the past, when I got to my rest stops, I would take more time than I really needed because I was fighting the mental battle. I’d think I need to give my body more rest when in actuality I really didn’t need to stop riding.

The course
Two loop configuration which I call the front 9 and back 9, each with about 4 miles of trail. The front 9 is tight and twisty with rolling terrain. The back 9 is more open and has better flow. The back 9 also has a couple good downhill runs and some nice jumps which break up the monotony. There are several bridges on the course but the Tarheel Trailblazers do a great job with ensuring that entry and exit from their bridges is straight and you don’t have to worry about sliding off because you enter the bridge on a turn (a lesson we could employ here in GA).

SUCCESS! I rode hard – not flat out – and rode constantly. My stops were brief and limited to eating, drinking, and bike repairs. The race started at 9am and my early lap times were in the 45 minutes range. Everything was going well until I snapped a spoke at the beginning of lap 6. No real worries, just cut it off and went riding. Well, about ½ mile into the front 9, my chain snapped. Again, no worries because I carry a multi-tool which has a chain tool on it. I ran the bike out of that section where it would be safe to work on the bike while not impeding the progress of other riders. I got the chain fixed and took off on my ride. I didn’t get a mile before the chain snapped again. Well, at this point I decided anymore time spent trailside was wasted. I had a backup bike at my pit so I took off running with the now broken bike. Once at my pit, I transferred pedals from the Walt Works 29er to my 26” wheeled backup and took off.

Now, I’ve been riding big boy wheels (29”, aka 29er) since April and haven’t been on a 26” wheeled bike since. My friend Tucker helped me build up the backup 26er with some parts that I had laying around. The backup bike is a $120 Access frame from Supergo (before they merged with PBS) and the components are a mix of Race Face, SRAM X.0, X.9, American Classic, Ritchey carbon OS bar with WCS stem and Avid BB-5 disc brakes. When I got on this bike in a race situation, I didn’t know what to expect. I did expect it to be fast and twitchy – it delivered. However, the bike actually felt better than my custom Walt. Of course, that got my brain thinking about other things during the latter hours of the race and of changes that need to be made to the Walt. I digress….

Night was approaching as was the finishing time of 9pm. I stopped to ask the race director about when lights were required and when the last lap was and started to review my status vs. what I wanted. After my bike swap, I realized that I wouldn’t make 100 miles so I decided that I’d be happy with 80 (8 laps) but really wanted 12 laps (96 miles). When I was on my 10th lap, I came up on two other riders and we got to talking about the remaining time we had. I said something about wanting two more laps and they said I didn’t have time. They had understood they last lap time to mean that you had to be back at the finish by 8:30 (the established last lap time). I argued that 8:30pm was when we could START the last lap. I lost the battle and since the current time was 7:45pm, I told myself that 10 was my magic number for the race. I picked up the pace and decided finish strong since I wouldn’t be doing another lap. After I handed in my timing chip, I realized that I could go out for another lap because the last lap time of 8:30pm WAS, in fact, when you could start the lap.

By this time, it was too late but I was happy with 80 miles. I was sitting in 5th place and another lap wouldn’t have changed the results as 4th place was two laps up on me. I broke camp and hung out with friends while cheering other riders onto the finish.

A big congratulations to Peter Rajcani, who finished in 6th place, also with 10 laps. The Rank Riders showed up with two teams in the duo categories – one team in single speed (SS) and another geared. Fatboy and Slim (Mark and John) took 2nd in the Duo SS which is great considering Mark had only ridden a SS once before! My friend Bill snapped the Walt Works fork on his rigid SS and we spoke briefly about how well Walt would take care of him on the replacement.

This coming weekend is the Double Dare in Pisgah, NC. The forecast includes rain for Friday and chance of showers on Saturday. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid 30’s. The race format is 2-days with 12 hour time limits. Each team is two people that must stay together and we have a list of mandatory gear to carry. We’ll be given 10 checkpoints (CP) to locate each day with at least one mandatory CP each day. Saturday we’ll be riding noon to midnight then 6am to 6pm on Sunday.

Don’t forget the time change this weekend!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Here are some pictures from the 24 HOA race at Conyers, GA this last weekend. I had the pleasure of racing with 3 guys from Mississippi and we made a 3rd place finish in the 4-man category. It was good training for the Tree Shaker 12 hr in Charlotte in two weeks. I'll be racing solo there and am planning a little different strategy than I have before. It's the end of the season so why not blow it out? Yup, that's right - I'm just gonna ride hard till I fall over and see how far I get.

Now onto the pictures....

WSC Solo Finishers L to R: Sean Sullivan (Team IF) and Rich Dillon (aka Team Dicky). Rich won the SS class with 21 laps (I think) -- on a RIGID bike with 1 gear! That's the same number of laps my team did. Geez that guy is a machine!

Gavin Rossouw, South African Champ and a new friend. That smile was still on his face at midnight when he stopped by for pizza and Red Bull while we swapped his crankset for one with a granny gear; Gavin sheered his off sometime around 9pm and was losing time.

4-man podium, Team 206 to the far right (I'm in the pink Dirt Rag shirt)

Proof that attendance was low for the 2006 24 HOA in Conyers. In years past, this field was filled to capacity.

Team 206 from L to R: Ty, Jeff, Cliff, Charles

Mike Harris - ATL local - smiling as he passes our pit. Mike's a great friend and mechanic and lays it on the line at these races. Way to go Mike!

Jono Senk - ATL local - finishing strong. Jono's an intense fella who loves the thrill of pushing his body. Must be something in the blood of mtn bikers! Great job Jono!

I didn't get a picture of my friend Peter Rajcani but here's a little something I wrote on the mtbr.com forum for him. Peter's a great guy and a solid rider with a pace you can set your watch by.

"Many of you know Peter (aka PRAJC) and know that he does way too many 24 hour races to be as old as he is! Well, chalk another one up for him b/c this weekend he was at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin Solo World Championships in Conyers, GA and he delivered again with a 7th place finish out of 10 competitors in his class.

Last year at the same course, Peter's goal was 15 laps and he rode 15, but only got counted for 14 b/c he finished #15 just minutes AFTER the 1:00pm cut off.

This year his goal was to complete 16 laps on the brutal course and he did -- all of them before 12:00 noon! He looked strong throughout the night and kept his head about him (would you expect less?). The guy that was wrenching for me said after the first lap that Peter looked a bit ragg-ed, but I assured him that was just Peter getting in his zone!

Next time you see him, give 'em a big hollar! GO PEET-AAAA!!!!!!"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ready to Race!

Last weekend I joined a few friends for the annual Fall Gathering in Pisgah, NC and had a great time. It seems this time of year everyone is just having fun; I'm not sure if it's because it's Fall or the end of the race season or because new bikes are being shown at Interbike -- who knows? Who really cares? The weather is perfect for mountain biking in the South so that's what we do!

Here's a picture of my friend Eric Wever and I with our Walt Works bikes on Sunday. I had just completed a little 10 mile jaunt before breakfast and Eric was just heading out. Eric's actually the person that introduced me to WW's and I cannot be happier with the purchase.

This coming weekend is the 24 Hours of Adrenalin race at the GA International Horse Park in Conyers, GA. 2006 marks the 10th anniversery of mountain biking in the Olympics and it all started at Conyers. Thus, the race director decided to move the 24 hour solo World Championships to Conyers from Whistler, British Columbia. It should be a great weekend to race or spectate with riders coming in from all over the world to compete for the podium and world rankings.

I'll be sitting the solo race out and joining some friends from Mississippi on a 4-man team. From what I gather from Ty, Jeff, and Cliff I could end up pulling some extra laps because apparently Cliff typically has bike issues, someone else gets stomach cramps, and the other decides he needs his beauty rest. Oh well, we'll have a good time nonetheless! I'll post a report next week, hopefully with some pictures.

On another note, keep your browser pointed toward the Bike Fellowship for a complete listing of GA trails. This listing includes:

1. Lat / long for all you GPS users
2. Physical address for all Google Maps / Mapquest users
3. Website for the trail map if available
4. Contact info for Wildlife Mgmt Areas (WMA's) and USFS trails
5. Link to directions

It is our hope that this will be a single point of reference to direct folks to MTB trails in our state. And since folks are likely to browse the site to see what else we have to offer, they will likely get to see some of the information we have on braking, hydration, bike repair, and a Gospel presentation.

Now quit reading and go ride!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Kenda ad in Dirt Rag

So I was at the local REI on Saturday picking up some new hiking shoes and grabbed the latest issue of Dirt Rag Magazine. When I got home and got to looking at it, I noticed a couple things: (1)they review the Voodoo Dambala 29er -- a frameset I'm considering, (2) there's a picture of my friend Eric in "The Rider's Eye" section, and (3) I'm mentioned in the Kenda ad on the inside back cover! How cool is that? My name is tucked in between David Wiens and Team Norco...to the bottom left of the word "Discriminating"...to the bottom right of the main picture...and you can read my last name just in front of the handlbars of the bike.

I've been sponsored by Kenda for three (3) years now and really love the tires, but the customer service is great. I get to see Jim Wannamaker at Conyers every year because Kenda sponsors the 24 HOA series and Jim's always there. It's great to see the industry folks hanging out at 3am just as tired as the rest of us, but there to support you when you need it.

Thanks for the sponsorship, Jim, and for the mention in the ad!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Here's a few pictures from my collection.
1. The Walt Works 29er on trail at Stanley Gap in May 2006

2. Me riding a granite section of the Conyers course at the 24 Hours of Conyers by Granny Gear in May 2006

3. Riding up a short but steep climb at the same race

4. This picture was taken at the 2004 version of Southern Lights 24-7, where a teammate and I finished 1st in the 2-man category

Monday, September 18, 2006

Getting ready for Fall

Well, the days are getting shorter, the night breezes cooler and that means my favorite season is drawing near. I love everything about Fall but especially two things: (1) getting to wear fleece and (2) mountain biking. I have a couple of events forthcoming that I'm also excited about. They are: the Firewater 50 on 9-16-06, the Fall Pisgah Gathering on the last weekend of September, the 24 Hours of Adrenalin the following weekend, the Double Dare and the Swank 65 -- both in Pisgah, NC. The Double Dare is not really a race by many folks' standards, but it not a race for most folks. It's two days, back to back in Pisgah. The race director picks 10 checkpoints each day and you and a teammate (required) have 12 hours to go find them, in any order.

This past Saturday was the Firewater 50 - a ride in celebration of a guy named Barry's birthday. It all started about 13 years ago on his 30th birthday with 6 of his closest friends going out for a Cohutta Epic. This year there were 87 folks who rode 50 miles of very tough terrain on the southern border of the Cohutta Wilderness in north GA.

The route was Windy Gap > Milma > Tibbs > Potato Patch > Mountaintown Creek > Bear Creek > Potato Patch > Windy Gap. Until Saturday, I had not ridden about half of this route so the climbing was expected, I just didn't know how much.

Stats on the day:
48 miles, ~7700 ft climbing
6:21 ride time, 7:38 total time including SAG's (I gotta work on this!)
146 avg HR, 184 max HR
7.9 mph avg speed, 38 mph max speed

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bio / Racing Resume

Here's a little about me and my riding history....

Age: 33

Hometown: Marietta, GA

Walt Works 29er
K2 Zed 4.0
K2 Beast
K2 900 Evo
Nishiki Beta
Abici Vader

Favorite Trail(s):
Trumbull Valley, CT
Stanley Gap, GA


Captain / Manager Team Ride Eat Sleep Repeat
3-man Division, 12 Hours of Razorback, Reddick, FL
Solo Class, Baker’s Dozen 13 hour race, Modoc, SC
Pisgah MTB Adventure Race, Pisgah, NC
Solo Class, Southern Lights 24-7, Athens, GA
Off-Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell, Old Fort, NC
MS 150, Conyers, GA
Support for Raging Russell Adventure Race, 3-person team
Support for 24 Hours of Adrenalin, (4) solo racers

Captain / Manager Team Ride Eat Sleep Repeat
1st Place, 2-man Division, Southern Lights 24-7
Top 10 Men’s Solo Cowbell Classic 12 Hour
15th Place, 5-person Coed 24 Hours of Adrenalin, Conyers, GA

11th Place, Cat 5 Dilworth Criterium
1st Place, 4-man Division, Southern Lights 24-7
24 Hours of Booty, Fundraising event participant
8th Place, Solo Class, Cowbell Classic 12 Hour Mountain Bike Race
4th Place, 4-man Division 24 Hours of Adrenalin, Conyers, GA
Attended IMBA Trail School, Charlotte, NC

11th Place, 4-man Division, 24 Hours of Adrenalin, Conyers, GA
5th Place, 2-man Division Browbeater 12 Hour Mountain Bike Race

2006 Goals:
1. To complete at least 30 hours of trail work
2. To compete as a solo competitor in three (3) 24- hour endurance events and finish in the top of 25% of the field
3. To promote the growth of cycling in a positive and influential manner in our community through being a ride leader, helping with bike rodeos, and trail advocacy

Member of SORBA, IMBA, Tarheel Trailblazers

Current Sponsors
Terrapin Beer Company, Kenda Tires & Tubes, Rudy Project, Trujillo Construction

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

YTD Summary

Here it is, the end of July and I've managed to get in a whopping three (3) races this year -- Granny Gear 24 Hours of Conyers, Cowbell Challenge 12 hour, and the 12 Hours of Dauset. Typically I'd have about 6 or 7 by now but not this year. Somehow I've also pulled off building up my first full custom bike -- a Walt Works 29er! What a machine. I've been riding now for 16 years and have been drooling over other folk's new custom bikes and now I have my own! I originally built it up as a full rigid bike thinking that most of my friends and competitors ride rigid, so why can't I? Well, after breaking the rigid fork I decided that having a suspension (sussy) fork ain't all that bad!

Looking ahead to the Fall months, I am excited about riding and whatever else the good Lord has in store for me! The Woodstock Mountain Bike Fellowship has some great events planned. Some east coast boys from BOMB International are planning a Pisgah Gathering. There's a couple really great enduros coming up -- including the Double Dare in Pisgah, where I broke a bike frame last year 20 miles from nowhere. My church choir has a trip to Israel in 2007 that we're starting to plan for.

Mountain biking ain't all of life, but it works well to clear the mind and keep the body fit. I like the enduro stuff because mostly it's about finishing, not neccessarily about making the podium. You have good rides / races and you have bad ones. This year I've been blessed to be able to ride when I can and spend time with family and friends when I cannot. My 7 yr old nephew recently had severe surgery on his brain stem and was in a medical induced coma for about 3 weeks. My (3) nieces got to spend (6) weeks with my folks for summer vacation. I have two friends that have been unemployed since late last year and have been given life changing reasons why. Sure, it's good to ride but sometimes the "other stuff" is just too important to ignore and those (3) races I've done have been great opportunities to get out and see more friends! There's an Irish saying that I learned a few years back that really defines "friend". It says, "Friends are the family that you choose." There's definitely truth in that.

This blog thing is new to me so bear with me as I figure out how to link stuff and add pictures and make it all professional looking. For now, here are links to some of the referenced stuff in this posting:

Woodstock MTB Fellowship www.bikefellowship.org
BOMB International www.ridedirt.com
Pisgah Productions (Double Dare promoter) www.pisgahproductions.com
Walt Works www.waltworks.com
Granny Gear Productions www.grannygear.com
Cowbell Challenge www.cowbellchallenge.org
Gone Riding (12 hours of Dauset promoter) www.goneriding.com