Thursday, May 28, 2009

28 May 2009

Wow, May is almost over and I will not make my goal of 500 miles this month. So, as consolation for myself, I thought I could at least ride more miles than last May. For some time now I have wanted to ride all the way around Lake Murray, and decided yesterday would be a good day for that. Checked the weather several times, cloudy but no rain, that's what "they" said. When I left the house, it was grey and felt like it could rain, but with my trust in the weather folks I rolled out. I got about 50 miles out and it began to come down. Not too bad, just enough to cool things off. I made my way to a C-store for Gatorade and a sandwich and as I stood there, it never quit; and neither would I. I was determined not to call the wife and have her bring the car. Back on the bike, I headed toward home, catching big spray off the log trucks rolling by. Things went pretty well till I got about 5 miles from home- then, the bottom fell out! It was, in the words of Chuck Swindoll, a real "frog-strangler!" I couldn't see with or without my glasses so I had to ease them down and peek between them and my helmet. I made it home just fine, satisfied that I had done what I set out to do. After a hot bath and a hot meal, I was good to go. But sore.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

26 May 2009

Have I ever mentioned that I love my bike? I think it's awesome, sweetest machine I have ever ridden. Just thought I'd mention that.
I wanted to ride today, but it looked like rain was coming. So, I jumped through the window I had and hammered a loop to Gilbert and back. Forgot to wear my heart monitor, said the heck with it and rolled. Tried to get a decent average speed while increasing my cadence and I think it worked out okay. Better than 16mph with an average cadence of 85rpm. Really enjoyed my ride, but it was short and I shouldn't have worried about the rain, but the heat- wow.
Be blessed, be safe.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

21 May 2009

Went out last evening to participate in the "Ride of Silence" in Columbia. It was a somber event, much like a funeral, to commemorate those killed in bike accidents on South Carolina's roads. I would venture to say there were over one hundred other riders who took to the streets under police escort (thanks CPD, WCPD, and Cayce!) at a slow pace of around 12mph and total silence. Traffic was blocked at every intersection and drivers were forced to acknowledge the presence of bikes on the road.
There were multiple events just like this one throughout the state last night, hoping to communicate to drivers that we are here and we are not going away. For me, the best part about it was riding with a new friend I made on the bus coming down from the Mt. Mitchell ride on Monday. Three years ago, this guy was hit by a car in Columbia and his neck was broken. He spent twelve days in a coma and had surgery (or surgeries) to repair the damage; this guy FINISHED Mt. Mitchell in 2008 and rode most of it in 2009! What a comeback! Just to know someone with that kind of strength and fortitude, it is my privilege and honor.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

19 May 2009

Well, in my last post I stated that "this time next week, the 2009 AOMM would be history;" and so it is. I, with about 4000 other bikers, left the Spartanburg Auditorium around 0630. The weather was cool and beautiful, an answer to my recent prayers for "optimal weather."
The event was not uneventful, however. Several things happened leading up to the ride that could have ruined it for me, but didn't. I didn't get my new cassette that I needed until the last minute so I really didn't have time to ride it and get it tuned in. My brother and I put it on Saturday morning, AFTER I had worked all night. When I left his house, I went to the ER for a chest x-ray to find out why I had been coughing for two weeks; x-ray inconclusive, doggone it.
Sunday, we took my brother's car to Marion to leave it at the campground so we'd have it after the ride, and it rained the whole afternoon/evening. Fortunately, it quit about 9pm and dried up, leaving a great day to ride. My poor brother was doing yard work several days ago and got into some poison ivy and his arms were beginning to blister. I think he could have put up with that, but turns out it also got around his eyes. He woke up in the middle of the night with both eyes swollen nearly shut! And we had just gotten to sleep, because one of our upstairs neighbors at the hotel wanted to practice his riverdance routine or something late into the evening. Then, another neighbor decided he could shut him up by banging on his ceiling. So much for a good night's rest before the big ride!
Well, when my brother woke up like that and decided he couldn't ride because the skin around his eyes was so irritated (sweat running over it would really have made his day!) we decided we'd just complete the deal and have him go to the ER in Spartanburg. Very nice looking, well-run ER and they took good care of him, though little could be done for him other than a prescription. That all put us back at the hotel about 0130 so I could get a NAP and get back up at 0445. I am not blaming my brother for anything, I was looking forward to us riding together and I am sorry he had to miss it. We had both trained a lot and prepared for the ride.
I had to ride alone (with 4000 others) but I am happy with how I did. Last year I stopped at every rest stop and consumed a lot of time without distance. This year I decided to minimize my stops, only stopping when I needed to take on supplies. I clipped in in Spartanburg and did not unclip until I got to the top of Bill's Mountain, nearly 50 miles later. Leaving there, I did not stop again until the beginning of Hwy 80 on the other side of Marion, another 25 miles, getting to Marion a full hour faster than last year.
The fact that I went past Marion is big for me too, because last year when I got to Marion, I was spent! I was still tired this year but had it in me to continue. Hwy 80 is kind of nice and flat for a couple of miles before it turns skyward. I gave it all I had and was 3 miles from the Parkway entrance when it was announced that no more riders would be allowed on the Parkway. Supposedly, it has always been a rule, but never enforced, that only 750 riders would be allowed on; is there a weight limit on mountains now? I went as far as I could and it was declared to be over for me. I could have been disappointed, (and I am, with the Park Service; the demographics conclude that cyclist are generally of a higher income, making them good contributors to the tax till that pays for the state and national parks and their rangers. Don't bite the hand that feeds you!) but I am happy with all I accomplished. I will begin in soon-coming days to prepare for next year's AOMM, and I WILL get there before they close MY gates.
Quick word about the FreeWheelers and all of the volunteers, caterers, and bus drivers: WELL DONE! Things didn't go perfect, they never do, but this event went VERY well because a lot of people did a lot of hard work and stayed pleasant even when confronted by some unpleasant and ungrateful individuals. God bless you all!
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

12 May 2009

It's on. No more training and preparing, it's time to do it. This time next week, the 2009 Assault on Mt. Mitchell will be history. I have ridden (over 1700 miles) and trained and tried to drop a few pounds (not so successful here) and now it's time to let the music play. I try to visualize the ride, try to think positive thoughts, try to see myself in my mind's eye crossing the timer pad thingee on the top of the mountain. New bike this year, new Specialized bib shorts for going the distance, studied and experimented with nutrition; I am as ready to day as I will ever be. I will not be the first to cross the line, I may be the last to cross the line, but I will cross the line. And I will be a better man for it. So help me God.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

5 May 2009

Hey, it's Cinco de Mayo! So what, we're not in Mexico! That makes it the 5th of May. Don't mean any offense to anyone, just tired of how so many are quenching our American culture out of deference to others. I will love my neighbor AS myself, not MORE THAN myself.
Anyway, hit the trainer for an hour today, had sweat rolling off like a fountain, trying to prepare for AOMM; only 13 days away! Been trying to spend time in the mountains riding, there are no hills like that around here to train on. Love the scenery up there, this bridge is near Tigerville in the SC upstate.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

2 May 2009

I will recap April in a bit, but I'll start out with my beginning of May. My brother and I, in our prepping for AOMM wanted to ride in the mountains today, hopefully the ride from Marion, NC to the top of Mt. Mitchell. Weather didn't look so good, so we instead went to Greenville, SC to work out on Paris Mountain. We'd never ridden it before, but heard alot about it from those who ride alot in the upstate. Sorta hoped to bump into Hincapie, but it was not to be. Had a great time though. Rode up to the towers and back to the bottom of Altamont Rd. and met a guy who rides PM regularly; asked him about the other side of the mountain and we were told that, in comparison, this side was like stairs, where you get a little break every so often. The other side (coming back up) was just 3 miles of incline! So, we climbed back up and down the other side we went! It was a gas going down! What a chore coming back up! I made it though, without EVER stopping to take a break. I am pleased with the rider I am slowly becoming. Two years ago, I would not have attempted or dreamed of three trips up PM. Ended up with 31+ miles and over 3600 feet of climbing. Way to go!
So, back to April. I made the mistake of not setting a goal for myself, as I had the previous three months, and I only got in 233 miles. My year was off to a great start and I did over 500 miles in the month of March. With that lesson learned, I will set a goal for May of 500 miles. That could be easy or it could be hard. I'll do AOMM on the 18th, giving me 100+ miles, but I will rest most of the week prior to and a couple of days of recovery post-ride; so I will have to be aware of my riding time.
I wanted earlier (days ago) to post some pictures of White Oak Mountain but didn't have them, so I'll put a few in now. The wife and I took a day off to spend together and I took her up to show her where I had been riding. Got some photos along the way; easier to do in a car, when I am not hacking up a lung. Enjoy!
Be blessed, be safe.