English Mountain Challenge. The short version is this: it’s about 110 miles with lots of climbing, scary descents, gravel in odd places, cars that DO NOT want you on “their” roads, 22% grades of climbing around the 87 mile-marker, more hills, lots of wind and at the end, pizza. Go figure. We pay $40 bucks for a ride with a cheap tee shirt and pizza at the end.
Were we supposed to obtain something “good” out of this? Much like the Tour de Blount and the Smokey Mountain Wheelman’s “Fall Century” the overall ride value is MI$$ing. Look at the dwindling numbers in each event.
Summary of the event: there were a few “bike Nazi’s” at the beginning … riders who “thought” they were in a race. Can someone explain this to me???? Especially one fellow in a Liquigas pro kit. LOL (many times over). What’s up with riders who wear pro kits???? They obviously don’t realize how pathetic they look.
Mr. “Liquigas” rides off the front about a mile from the start. It was hilarious – seriously. Somewhere at mile 5 we settled into our pace … and passed the “pro” rider. HA. After the first climb and scary descent I looked around and there were 7 of us total. No one else was in eye sight and I strained looking back on several long stretches of road.
In the lead group — ahh — mo-fo “Adam” had it in his brain we were supposed to ride 110 miles at or near race-pace. At one point the punk mo-fo who was leading the painful pace on our “ride” had daggers aimed at his back. Somewhere at mile-marker 40, four of us sat up and said (collectively) – “we’ve had enough. IT’S A RIDE – NOT A RACE.”
Ok – Ok. So we pulled our collective attitudes together and pacelined back to the three guys in front and stayed with them until English Mountain. At which point I sat up and did the sensible thing – I rode easy.
There is NO money to be earned at the finish line. And NO NOTHING to be earned by making the ride (emphasis “ride”) more painful than required.
Three of us rode the last 15 miles together – with the punk mo-fo leading his own brigade, followed by another loner – followed by a pair – followed by three of us who said, “20mph is enough when the wind is blowing 20mph.”
We completed 109.46 miles in 5:38 with two stops along the way. At the end I drank 3 Cokes and ate three pieces of pizza followed by two bottles of water and Chick-Fil-a sandwich and another bottle of water. Two hours later I ate a ham-wrap and cheese with more Cytomax. I finally peed about 2 hours later. I have no idea how much we climbed – I’m guessing it was over 6,000 feet but I’ll check on the total this week. EMC – ride. on.
Three years ago I found a website with lots of fixed gear bikes – so many that if you get started, you’ll spend a few hours browsing the images. Bike porn as I call it. Fun. Beautiful. Creative. Eye-opening. Certainly inspiring. More as I build it. Ride on. The site: Fixed Gear Gallery.
For two years I looked among the bikes at yard sales and garage sales for a “find.” Last Saturday, I found a workable and usable frame for FREE – just 1.8 miles from my house. The “find” (aka the bike) a “Panasonic DX2000,” made in 1981. It’s a double-butted frame made of Cro-Ml, crappy Shimano gears (12 speed) but mighty nice in terms of sizing. The bike was never really ridden as evident with the chain rings looking ‘new’ and unworn. The mileage (my guess) was well less than 1,000 miles total. It cost $250 new in 1981 – which was expensive for recreational bikes but cheap compared to racing bicycles. The “free” price tag was pretty kewl.
Today, the nomenclature “DX2000” is used for a Panasonic fax machine.
The love of bikes is obvious, but the yearning for a single speed, fixed gear bike is overwhelming. I’ll work on it – and get back to you. The image is DX2000. The link is a NICE PANASONIC fixie.
I visited some of my clients in Gatlinburg today – which was very nice. Afterward, I drove back toward Townsend in hopes of riding from Metcalf Bottoms over to Wears Valley. Well, I did – and I enjoyed the ride a lot. When I returned I traveled back toward Gatlinburg along “River Road” – to extend the ride and snag a little climbing.
Training on a different road – at a different time of the day – with nice weather makes for an enjoyable experience. Ample rest helped as well. Thursday was full of interesting ‘finds’ – like NO power when I came home. Oh well, I missed the bill somehow and the fine folks in the City elected to turn it off. Thank goodness for the BGE, and for her flexibility in letting me ‘just show up.’ Ahh. I got a warm shower, ate some tasty vittles and watched the ending of the “Bee Movie” with the kids. This was a solid ending to Thursday.
When the “A” ride rolled last night a few of us were tired from the weekend’s activities. Me? I was tired. My Saturday road race activities resulted in a 13th place finish (5th place in 40+). I wasn’t comfortable mixing it up on the front end of the peloton and thus sprinted from the back of the field. My sprint propelled me past 10 riders but 13th was all I could muster. Keeping in mind that 4 guys were already “in” because they broke away earlier in the race.
We covered 58 miles at an average pace of 24.1 MPH with LOTS of slow pace along the way. Average heart rate was 141 – not bad considering all the horses – and their crap in the way etc. etc. Later in the day we completed a 20K time trial. Once again I was LATE! I live close to the start point (closer than any one else) and was LATE~! Prior to my start, a junior came up and asked to borrow some chain/freewheel tools and I responded with … “I need to go.” I helped him anyway.
Um, I “thought” the start of the TT was at the “normal” spot. BUT NO!!!!!!!!!! IT was 3 f&#@* miles up the road. With just 7 minutes to my 5:37 start time, I had to time trial to the real start point. BLAH. No warm up, just hitting it hard from the get-go. My time reflected the “mistake” … Funny, several ‘competitors’ commented about how they beat me. HA. I defeated myself by not warming up properly, by being late, and by not knowing the location of the start gate. Last time I assure you. Mistakes are what separate us. Summary – 30:13 (with a :15 delay start) – I covered the first 3 miles (warming up) in 5:40 (Damn!~) – Average heart rate – 158.
Sunday-Sunday-Sunday: Crits are it and when you’re fit you’re fit. I started in my usual last place and moved up to 9th at the finish. Good enough. Summary: 7th place in the Omnium and 4th place in the Masters 40+.
I feel better now. Ride on.
So many hills, so many dogs, so many horses and so many folks sputtering along the rural roads of our neck of the woods. Yes, I ride because of the hills, to avoid dogs (when possible), watch the horses and pass sputterers. I ride because there are so many miles to cover – so many roads.
Think about how many people who would love to ride a bike. Think about it for a moment. I think about it everyday. With many friends in the disability community, it’s so very easy to be reminded of why I ride: because so many cannot. When I’m around a friend with a visual impairment or a mobility impairment, my heart reaches out to say – “if only.” It’s the very reason I don’t talk about bicycle racing nor riding – unless they bring it up. Then and only then do I discuss it. And when I do talk about my “hobby” I am sharing the experience in a heart-felt genuine way. So – if you can ride – get on the bike and ride … on.
The “century” mark — a hundred miles — is for many cyclists a huge barometer of their commitment to riding a bicycle. Whatever. 100 miles via a camel is a commitment to insanity. 100 miles via a bike is “a ride.” Last Saturday I completed another century with some 200+ riders. With several thousand feet of climbing, I completed the 100 miles in under 5 hours. Only 10 of us did that. 100 miles is an accomplishment. Time to set a new bar: 150 in a day — and later this year it shall be done. Ride – and ride a long way.
It seems that an opacity filter is looming in my CSS which translates to photos that appear to be “washed out” or “faded.” This is one obvious reason that some folks look at my images and say, “uh, that’s ‘ok.'” Thus, my homeboy Toe is checking out the HTML code to locate the opacity rule. Should we find it, we’ll push it to ‘o.’
The Duchess and I visited Tremont early this morning. Enjoying the quiet roadways, parkway and Mecca itself. Very few cars were moving – and even fewer toward the National Park. The access road to Gatlinburg is closed for a few days and thus car traffic was minimal. I visited Tremont just after the rain finished and captured these shots. Click to enlarge. Enjoy.
Just a few shots of lush forest, cool running streams and the inner-sanctum I call Mecca. Tremont is a hidden jewel within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. If you have the opportunity to visit – do so. Click on the photo to see a 1250 pixel width version. Enjoy.
The churches of downtown Fayetteville are beautiful – and abundant. The three photos stitched together provide a segmented view of the bell tower, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. St. Paul’s was founded in 1848, but stands in its current location from 1888. The first Episcopal Church in Fayetteville was organized in May, 1848, by The Rev W.C. Stout and a small group, who met in private homes for about six years. Then, in October, 1854, a frame church building at the corner of what is now College and Meadow was dedicated by Bishop Freeman. During the early stages of the Civil War, the church was struck by lightning and destroyed. Whoa. Today this church has modernized itself … with its own podcast! Worship on.
Around the Crit Course at the Joe Martin Stage Race beautiful sights abound. Downtown Fayetteville is wonderful – lots of older restored homes with nice lawns and flowers. Churches are equally abundant and beautiful as well.
Imagine hundreds of bicyclists speeding by so much beauty and never noticing it. I was one of those “hundreds” who didn’t have time to notice … well … while on the bike. After my race I walked around the Crit Course and captured racer images and some scenic shots along the way. Who says cyclists don’t stop and smell the flowers once and a while.
The Joe Martin Stage Race took place May 8th – 11th, 2008 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Renamed after Martin’s death in 1988, the race has become one of the premier events on the National Race Calendar. The NRC is the pro and elite amateur cycling tour of USA Cycling. The JMSR is only one of two events in Arkansas on the NRC.
This year, as I did last year, I registered and raced in the Masters 45+ category. The field was mixed with Masters 55+ which made the entire event even more competitive.
Saturdays’ Road Race:
The weather was cool to start but warmed quickly. Most of the arm warmers were shed early – even prior to the start. Like most Masters’ races, the jumps and attacks were frequent and aplenty from the start.
In 2007 Bruce Tanner got off the front and completed the entire road race solo. I had an entire year to ponder why I was unwilling to bridge the gap to him. This year – my thought – if he goes, “I go.” More than enough impetus to jump when he jumped.
Ahh. He jumped. I jumped. And we were away. However, the field had another thing in mind. They jumped too. And the process began again. And again.
When we settled into a semi-pace line, three guys rolled off the front and no one chased. Then another rolled off the front and no one chased. Then another. Naturally we “looked” as if they were going to chase the five down – but no one wanted to chase.
On the first climb we pushed the pace and most of the field went into OD (oxygen debt) quickly. I rode with four other guys away from the pack and kept climbing. We crested the first climb and descended … only to have the pack rejoin. I jumped again and that was my first mistake. I forgot that another climb was coming – and it was longer and steeper. Ooops. My heart rate maxed quickly and I rode in second gear hoping to recover. I didn’t. And we went hard again.
I kept pushing through the pain – suffering was expected. Our smaller group began working together and slowly bridged the gap to the riders who were off the front. Within four miles we regrouped and what was left of the field (25 riders) rode together. Mindless attacks and jumps kept coming and going from that point onward. The wind was blowing so hard (25-30), it would be insane to consider rolling away from the field. Ergo no one did.
With five miles to go, jumps were more frequent and I thought that several of us had gapped the field … but they rejoined us. Then a final attack (which I doubted would survive) left us and stayed just 15 seconds in front. Because we were just two miles from the finish it would have been a huge gamble to bridge the gap – so I sat up.
Approaching the downhill finish the peloton began a surge and the pace increased dramatically. The faster we moved the bigger the gear we pushed and at 500 meters two guys jumped but were quickly passed as they ran out of steam. Around 250 meters I stood up and gave my best – finishing 9th across the line.
SUMMARY: 45 miles – average heart rate 151 – maxed twice – average speed 23.1 – 9th place finish (improved from 17th place in 2007)
Time Trail – the afternoon Day One
The TT for the Joe Martin Stage Race is held at Devil’s Den State Park. An uphill time-trial pushed all athletes to test their abilities and mental fortitude to overcome pain. Racers started every 30 seconds to race the 2.5-mile climb out of Devil’s Den State Park on Highway 170.
This is a race of truth – because it determines what you can do without a team or the peloton.
I arrived in time to warm up but with a light rain shower in the area, I elected to use the Cyclops tented area versus setting up my personal version. This proved to be mistake number two. While positioning my bike on the trainer, my front wheel turned to the left (slightly) and brushed the rear wheel of a guy in front of me (spinning on a trainer). Within a millisecond my front wheel deflated from a pretty incision on the sidewall.
“Bad, that’s really bad,” were the only words I could offer up. I just smiled and hung my head. The double oops was (and my third mistake) that I did NOT bring a set of backup wheels (from the hotel). My mind went out of control and I literally freaked out … but my outward appearance was cool, collected and calm. I felt like yelling “WTF!!” I didn’t.
Thankfully another rider loaned me a wheel. Ironically (!), it was an exact duplicate of what I use: a Reynolds DV. Exactly. I completed the warm up with the borrowed wheel, suited up, and pulled up to the line. Now we get to mistake number four: I took off like the TT was flat! I reached max heart rate just as the climb kicked up and I was cooked.
Naturally I had to slow down. BLAH. Once my heart rate dropped below 92% of max, I kicked again and pushed hard on my pedals. I passed two riders on the way up and felt painfully good all the way to the line. When I crossed the line at 11:16, I had bested my 2007 time by 32 seconds. Although a dramatic improvement, it was not fast enough to place me in the top five.
I finished 8th overall.
Ok then. Four mistakes and growing. Let’s review the others: I forgot a backup cassette for my crit wheels (mistake five), and the trainer wheel for the trainer (mistake six). WTF x 6. Interestingly, races like the Joe Martin are often won because you make very few mistakes (on or off the bike) – and six wasn’t a number I particularly like thinking about … or remembering.
DAY TWO – The Crit – Sunday, May 11th.
The field lined up with anticipation of the coming storm. The storm is what I affectionately call the first few laps of a crit – – fast paced, jumpy, borderline OD, and certainly danger in the corners as riders establish position.
Within five laps I was midfield and maintaining.
With four to go I was near the back of the field (what was left of it).
With one lap to go I didn’t move up – lazy I guess – or fearful of going into a corner four deep!
The seventh mistake: not moving up.
When I crossed the line I was 13th and the position slotted me in the GC (Grand Classification) at 13th overall. Good weekend, but the same exact placing as 2007. Except this year I improved my RR and TT finishes.
From Friday to Sunday I was a photo hound who captured images via my Canon 400d. I snapped 1600+ photos and that left me feeling pretty good. Mostly because the images are nice reminders of why I’m in this sport called bicycle racing.
I’m looking forward to 2009. I’ll be back in Fayetteville for the 32nd Joe Martin Stage Race, and I’ll stay in Arkansas another week to participate in the Tour of Arkansas the following weekend. Yeah.
NOTE: There are LOTS of photos in my bank of images from the weekend. I was able to capture mostly Elite Men and Pro Women along with Men 1-2. There are 1600 images total. The Men 1-2 CRIT photos will be posted later today. If you see an image – use it and use my name to recognize its use. Other than that – mine are FREE. If you want a particular image (larger file), just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org – I’ll do my best to find it.
Within the last month I’ve met two Commissaires. First, I met Ellen Dorsey at the Tour de Ephrata and now, Dot Abbott at the Joe Martin/2008. Ms. Abbott is an international Commissaire – – which basically means she is qualified for UCI events domestically and abroad. And that translates to queen of the event hands down. Shall we bow? Seriously, she’s super nice and all about business. When asked how she manages such a large event (Joe Martin), Abbott said, “it’s just management … people are people and in this case the volunteers help make it much easier.”
Within eyesight there were at least three dozen volunteers helping make the 2008 Joe Martin a successful event. Here are a few candid photos of folks doing their thing – making it easier, safer and much smoother to enjoy for all the athletes. Thanks.
The photos are few in number because the pros were moving … as if they didn’t (!) ascend the 9 miles to Mount Gaylor. They came up on us very quickly – jumped by us quickly – and were GONE.
After a brief ride on my bike this morning, I took a quick shower, ate some lunch and visited Wal-Mart. Yeah. I bought the Canon EF f/4.5 70-300mm lens for my 400d. Alas, most of today’s photos resulted from my purchase. I’m certainly no professional – but I do enjoy capturing what I see. These are from the top of Mount Gaylor – from what’s left of the tourist stop on Highway 71. Prior to I-540, this was a stopping point for lots of travelers …. today it feels like a ghost town.
The 31st edition of the Joe Martin Stage Race kicked off today, May 8th in Fayetteville, Arkansas and will continue through Sunday, May 11th. More of “this” please.
When the late Joe Martin began the Fayetteville Spring Classic cycle race in 1978, he might not have realized it would become one of the longest and continually held races in the country. Renamed after Martin’s death in 1988, the race has become one of the premier events on the National Race Calendar.
The NRC is the pro and elite amateur cycling tour of USA Cycling. The JMSR is only one of two events in Arkansas on the NRC. The three-day, four-stage race will offer more than $55,000 in cash and merchandise to competitors across 11 categories. This year event planners are expecting 700 riders with approximately 1,000 support personnel for the three-day event. From the front lines tomorrow many cameras will snap the action and follow the peloton throughout the 110 mile road race for Elite men and Pro Women. It’s time.
News just in — Betsey Funky’s brother was lost in the desert – because he (Jocko) wanted to be a formal member in the band, “Desert Monkey.” I’m surprised that the fake photo was routed around the family by email. Who took the photo???? Good (!) question.
Just this week, Betsey and Bob Funky adopted a monkey from Boise (of all places). Seen here, the little guy is cradled up and looking healthy. His name, Roscoe, seems appropriate as he’s already escaped the crib four times in the last four hours. Go figure. Must be the banana bunch in the kitchen. Congrats to the Funky Monkey family.
The attached is a historic poster that I’ve recently captured via a search for vintage bicycle photos. How much time was dedicated to creating this piece of art? What artistic method was employed to create the overall composition? By hand. Certainly. Use of a computer. Certainly not. The imagery suggests a day when riders consumed wine and smoked en route to the Alps or Pyrenees. Imagine, we’re just seven weeks from the greatest race in bicycle-dom: The Tour de France. Let’s hope Astana has a shot.
This past Sunday I traveled to the Foothills Parkway and enjoyed the mountain air, the scenic views and some climbing. Getting there was a challenge due to the line of cars backed up from the “open house” on the north side of the Foothills Parkway. I’m not certain what was served at the open house, but I suspect it was either money or alcohol (due to the number of cars – ha). The attached photo is just a Pentax snapshot of spring – springing in Great Smoky Mountains. I enjoyed it – a lot.
The search is on … for a righteous tattoo and I’ve landed in a couple of places. Number one, it’s going to be a Hawaiian-style but I’ll get inked here on the mainland. Due to issues with wetness, sun and such – a tattoo must be cared for in the first two weeks or you’ve got a problem. So, on my vacation isn’t the time … but when we hit the mainland … ink-on.
Jojo’s cousins sent this photo to us – taken at a recent luau they enjoyed while staying in Hawaii. From the left is Mickey, Sissy, Betsey and Bob Funky (the Funky Monkey family). The kids are drinking non-alcoholic beverages while Betsey and Bob are consuming Volcano Lava (12 shots of alcohol each drink!). Looks like they had yummy pork on a plate with some fresh pineapple to finish the meal. Mickey tried surfing and was sorta Ok according to Betsey who took the photo. She sent us an email and said they were enjoying the ‘free’ bananas (ha).
His form is lacking but he’s getting into it. We’ll see more from the Funky Monkey family and their adventures on Hawaii. Aloha and mahalo for the photo.
With a four-day work-week behind me, I made time to consider the great state of Aloha. Ergo, I’ve developed my Top 10 reasons to visit the great state of Aloha … aka, Hawaii.
The Top 10
10. It’s Hawaii, do I REALLY need to enumerate the reasons? It’s far enough away that you feel far enough away.
9. Sun. Plenty of it and no industry to pollute the air.
8. No snakes.
7. You can enjoy a sunrise and sunset on the same day without flying.
6. The temperature is highly stable. Average high temperature in Hawaii in August: 88. Average low temperature in Hawaii in January: 75.
5. Great fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, sailing and boating opportunities all around.
4. Beautiful wahines in tiny bikinis. NOTE: a wahine is a woman and when you pronounce it, it rhymes with bikini. Yes, now you get it.
3. Some of the world’s best beaches and scenic mountains are within sight of one another.
2. Almost no mosquitoes or flies. Well, there are mosquitoes, but few.
1. Laid-back lifestyle. The laid-back lifestyle and attitude makes Southern “front porch sittin’” seem stressful and hurried by comparison.