February 26, 2008

IF frame raffle

IF Racing is raffling off a steel IF frame. The winner gets a full-custom steel IF frame of their choice, with the opportunity to upgrade to ti or carbon for an upcharge.

Clickety-click. It could be the best $10 you've ever spent.

New look

I've brought my blog into 2008. My race schedule is now over on the right, along with reports from 2007. Blogger links have been updated with many of the cool people I met in my '07 travels. Florida bloggers have exploded recently, so they get their own section. The colors are staying green because, well, I like it, and I'm just not visual or patient enough to mess with it.

The team kit gets a crisp, new look. I'm pumped about the move to Giordana. I've always loved their stuff and it will be great putting it to the test this year. I hope my taint likes it too.

I noticed when I was creating my '08 race schedule sidebar that I have a string of 5 enduros spaced 2 weeks apart, starting with the Cohutta 100 in April and ending with the Lumberjack 100 in June. That's a pretty big chunk to bite off. I think back to last year when I strung ORAMM, W101, Fool's Gold and SM100 together 2 weeks apart, followed by the 12 Hours of Dauset 3 weeks later. Those went well except for the W101 hiccup and Cohutta-DSG-Tsali-Mohican-Lumberjack isn't much bigger of a bite. Coming off a 12-hour into back-to-back 6-hour races the next 2 weekends should tell me whether I'm being over ambitious.

Speaking of ambitious, I'm looking forward to throwing down with Team McCarty and Pacer this weekend in their own back yard at the Hospice 100K. I hope that coral rock doesn't bite too hard.

February 19, 2008


Or maybe "the power of positive thinking".

After the 6 Hours of El Lagarto answered many questions about my fitness and quelled some doubts I had about how things were coming along this year, I started to believe it.

I was going to win the 12 Hours of Santos.

It was a tough decision after the loss of Razorback put the future of this race in doubt. I thought about going to Texas and jumping into the USAC series, but staying home and saving a buttload of cash to do a race that's 3 times as long sounded more appealing. I also wanted to support Dave's efforts to keep a prestigious 12 hour race in Florida.

Then the race became a late addition to the USAC series and people started to take notice. There were some big names on the pre-registration list. Whenever doubts started to creep in, I'd chase them away by thinking "I'm going to win this race. No matter who shows, they're coming to my house."

It became my mantra for 3 weeks.

I took Friday off to ensure a stress-free day. Since it was so close to home, Lauren and I decided to sleep at home so we headed up Friday morning to set up my pit and check out the course. I snagged prime real estate for my pit and rode 2 laps. I rode 1 lap easy to feel out the course, then headed out for a 2nd lap with some openers. Max really wanted to go with me and he can hang through my short hard efforts, so we headed out, with Lauren hanging back a few minutes with Fontana so I could get a gap.

2 minutes later, Fontana was with me. That dog has a mind of his own and he will run with whomever he damn well pleases, thank you very much. It didn't really matter because my attempts to crank out some openers were feeble at best. I was pretty tired from the previous 3 weeks' riding. I didn't stress about it and just cruised with the dogs.

We were back plenty early Saturday morning, but with signing in, preparing my pit and bikes and getting my bike to the corral, I was on the line with zero warm-up. Even for a long race, I like to loosen the legs up a bit before the fun begins. So with no warm-up, the horn went off, we started the run, and my quads immediately started screaming "What the hell are you doing to us??? That hurts! Stop!!!". I ignored them and ran faster. I got to my bike and got into the second group that formed. Aaron Snyder was in this group. I knew he'd be a guy to watch. Chris was off the front with the expert team guys, setting a blistering pace.

Within a few laps, Chris and Aaron had built 3+ minute leads, but I didn't worry. They'd come back. Sure enough, I started catching glimpses of Chris ahead in the woods. He was coming back. I caught him and rode behind him for a while, chatting and getting a feel for the race situation. Aaron and another solo rider were ahead. Chris said they were going way too hard and he let them go. We got to the technical end of the course and Chris started doing multiple downshifts to get up the short steep climbs instead of punching up them. I was running into his wheel and knew it was time to go. As soon as it opened up I passed him and drilled it through scoring and kept going through the technical first part of the course before backing off.

I was in the zone all day and night. I was smiling all the time, chatting it up with the racers and spectators, and having a general blast. I never felt bad or wanted to quit. I loved every single minute I was out there. People told me after the race that I looked so calm and focused. I had lots of positive energy coming out of me, and it seemed it was going out to the crowd and coming back to me tenfold. I was an amazing experience.

While finishing my 6th lap, I saw Aaron heading out for his 7th. He was close and I had been bringing him back for a while, but it wasn't time to go for it yet. Rolling through scoring, I picked up Tim Cornelius, a local who puts in a ton of time working at Loyce Harpe, and all-around nice guy. He rode behind me through the technical stuff, then since he was on a team I let him pass once it opened up. He picked it up, but not too much, so I jumped on his wheel. The pace was high, but I figured I could catch Aaron easily this way. Sure enough, within a couple of mintes we blasted past him and I was in 2nd. I kept with Tim for the entire lap, picking up some serious time.

I never saw when I passed the 1st place rider, but after looking at the results it was somewhere during the 9th lap. Lauren and Chris' mechanic thought I was ahead earlier, then weren't sure, then thought I was ahead. Racer #16 was very elusive. Typical lap race chaos.

I finished my 15th lap 3 minutes before cutoff. Everybody in the pit was sure that I didn't need to go out again, but I didn't want to risk it. Lauren went to scoring to figure out the situation and look out for #16. I'd check in with her from a vantage point above scoring that was about 5 minutes into the course. Nobody really knew and I was through the toughest part of the course. After 135 miles, another 7 easy miles was nothing to seal the victory, so I rolled a victory lap.

I have to thank my wonderful wife Lauren for taking to day to tend to pit duties. She was awesome, allowing me to pit with machine-like efficiency. I was off the bike 3 times: Once to switch to my backup bike so Kurt could prep my bike for the night laps, once to get back on my main bike, and once to change batteries.

Then there was Kurt, who hooked up my lights, cleaned my bike, rode 2 laps with me after I passed him on a night lap, gave me an update on my chaser during my 15th lap, had half my pit torn down and even cooked my buffalo burger after I finished. Kurt kept me motivated and re-kindled the fire in my belly when I started getting complacent. Thanks Kurt, I'm lucky to have friends like you.

There were racers like Tim, who pulled me around my entire 7th lap, and the unknown racer on the 2nd place sport team. After Kurt told me my chaser was only 5 minutes back on my 15th lap, I was having trouble getting motivated to really push it again. This guy came around me and I jumped on his wheel. He got me to pick up the pace and pulled me around the rest of the lap.

Last but not least, a huge shout-out goes to Bruno at IF Racing and the entire crew at Independent Fabrication for continuing to believe that this old fart still has a few matches left to burn.

February 06, 2008


I guess a 2008 preview post is a little late since my first race is in the books, but better late than never, no?

I will be racing for Independent Fabrication again this year. I don't race for them because they give me free shit (they don't). I race for them because I love their bikes. I bought my first steel Deluxe in 1998, when it was just the "Deluxe". Steel was the only material they worked with and the employee-owners were the original crew that rose from the Fat City ashes. The next few years brought the migration of many Merlin employees to IF, including Matty B and Tyler, which led to their getting into titanium. In 2002 I got the chance to upgrade and went for it. I still have a steel Deluxe and a steel Crown Jewel in my garage, but my ti Deluxe is now my go-to bike.

Why all the love? There's many reasons, but the ones that stick out are that they've taken care of me and they treat their business like a business. I've had some warranty issues over the years, and many non-warranty issues, and they've always gone the extra mile to take care of me and get me rolling again. That's a breath of fresh air in a bike world filled with big companies who look for reasons not to honor warranty claims. And while the guys at IF are all craftsmen/women who are very passionate about what they do, they still run a business and treat it as such. As a person who busts his ass in the business world, it can be frustrating dealing with hobbyists who try to turn their hobby into a business. With IF, you get the best of both worlds: A small company that's focused on exquisite craftsmanship and busts its ass to take care of its customers.

My race season is going to look something like this:

Jan. 26: 6 Hours of El Lagarto, Lakeland FL. Finished 2nd solo. I love this local race.

Feb. 16: 12 Hours of Santos, Ocala FL. With the demise of Razorback, the race that had gained so much stature was in jeopardy. With a late addition to the USAC ultra-endurance calendar, it looks like the tradition will continue.

Mar. 2: Hospice 100K, Sunrise FL. 10 laps around the best course in south Florida in a benefit race for HospiceCare of Southeast Florida. I had a blast last year and I'm going back.

Mar. 8: Squiggy Classic 6 hour, Tampa FL. I won this race its first 2 years and skipped it last year in pursuit of XC glory. Since I've forgotten what XC is, I'll be back at the race that's 25 minutes from my driveway.

Mar. 14-16: OMBA Spring Break FTF, Ocala FL. After all those winter/early spring races, I'll be ready for a break. Hanging out at Santos, riding for fun and drinking lots of beer will be just the ticket.

Apr. 19: Cohutta 100, Ducktown TN. Stop #1 in the NUE series, which I'll be focusing on again this year.

May 3: Dirt, Sweat & Gears, Fayetteville TN. I heard lots of good things about last year's race and have to check it out for myself.

May 31: Mohican 100, Ohio. Stop #2 in the NUE series. Gotta love that course and last year's race was awesome.

June 14: Lumberjack 100, Michigan. NUE #3. It's a long way to go to ride something that's not mountainous, but I did really well there 2 years ago. The course suits my flatlander riding style and hopefully I'll have a repeat performance.

July 27: ORAMM, North Carolina. This is the race where I got bit with the enduro bug. I can't think of a better way to spend a day than pounding out 65 miles in Pisgah.

Aug. 16: Fool's Gold 100, Georgia. I turned in one of my better performances last year there. The talent should be a bit deeper now that it's on the NUE schedule. Bring it!

Aug. 31: Shenandoah 100, Virginia. I think I'll have to be dead to miss this race anytime soon.

Sep. 20: 12 Hours of Dauset, Georgia. Things are winding down, but it's an enduro a half day's drive from home.

Oct. 11: Dirty Spokes 12 Hour, Conyers GA. This will be my first opportunity to experience the pounding of Conyers granite for 12 hours straight.

There's some other races on my radar, most notably the Tahoe-Sierra 100. I've never been to Tahoe and this could be my chance, if getting from Virginia to California via Florida in 6 days doesn't prove to be too much of a logistical and financial challenge.

The next step in graduating to 2008 is updating the sidebars on this blog. There's tons of really cool bloggers I met last year that need inclusion on my list, new team sponsors and a new race schedule. Maybe I'll even put a picture in my header.

February 04, 2008


...keeps on ticking, and next thing you know it's been almost a month since I've posted anything to this blog. It's not that there hasn't been anything going, but quite the opposite. Life has been busy and this "creative endeavour" is the first thing that gets neglected.

So, what's happening? Since my last entry I've not only survived commuting in peak snowbird season. I also:

- Rode the Tour de Felasco on Jan. 12. I've always loved the San Felasco trails. They're a bit of a hike for a day ride, so this is my annual opportunity. The ride has always been great, but I could do without the sandy horsey doubletracks used to make the 50 mile ride. This year my prayers were answered with copious amounts of singletrack and minimal doubletrack, and none of the equestrian variety.

- Spent many, many hours at Croom. I've been the route coordinator for the Croom 50 for a few years and I take my job seriously. I rode the entire course at least twice leading up to the ride. I wasn't training. I was checking out the course and mileage splits. I even went out for more one day after riding the 50 mile course. I wasn't training. It takes a big effort to get the course marked the weekend before the ride, but I always get a big volunteer turnout that makes the job easy.

- Kicked off my 2008 season with the 6 Hours of El Lagarto. The results are here. I placed 2nd solo again, this time to the Ryno himself. I was happy with my effort. I was able to peg it XC-style for a couple of laps then settle into a consistent pace.

It was good to get back to racing again...

...but this guy stole the show.