Tag road biking

Upchuck Adventure Run, TBARC Bike Nav

So it’s a lazy Thanksgiving Day, so I thought I’d catch up on a few posts before braving the chilly temps & wind for a run or bike – trying to wait till it warms up a tad, but I don’t think it’s going to get much better (cloudy & 50 degrees, winds around 10-25mph, and pretty wet out after over an inch of rain yesterday).

The Upchuck Adventure Run was an “event” put on by the Boonies 2 weeks ago on the Cumberland Trail. A few run distances were available. Matt & Chad ran the whole thing, starting at Hotwater Road and running the 11 mile Soddy segment, followed by the Possum Creek Gorge and Rock Creek segments (20 miles). Another Matt joined them for the first segment, then Natalie, Kathy and I ran the last ones together…although we didn’t time our start right and had to wait on the guys for about 45 min at the end. (or maybe we just ran that fast??! :) ) Big thanks to Chad for the pizza and beer at the end and the warm blanket from Nat since I forgot to leave a drop bag at the end.

Natalie & Kathy

the two (k)cathi(y)s

Last weekend was the local TrailBlazers‘ end of year party, consisting of a bike navigation event and mystery beer party. Jim put together a fun course that showcased our lovely townships to the north (Soddy Daisy, Bakewell, Sale Creek). Since my road bike is still not here, I borrowed my old one from Michelle and hit the course solo style. It was another beautiful day to be out. I nabbed all the points in around 4 hrs. Carol and Cecilia beat my time by a little bit to sneak in the win… but having someone to ride with in the wind definitely gave them the advantage :)

After the ride, I jetted downtown quick to see some friends that were in town riding Raccoon. Then I showered and headed back to the Farmer casa to chill in the backyard with cold beer & a hot bonfire (and s’mores). Oh, the mystery part of the beer was that the hosts handed you random stuff – you didn’t get to choose what you got. But I did sneak my own stuff…Denver IPA from the Great Divide Brewing Company. It had a great label :)

The Omnium

I had been waffling about doing the Omnium… the weekend was busy enough as it was. The River Gorge Road Race would certainly whoop me – 37 miles, finishing with a 3.5 mile climb straight up Raccoon Mtn. Then the 4 mile time trial that afternoon – in the middle of the afternoon. I’d be spent. Then, to try a criterium the next morning? I had no experience in this type of sufferfest. I polled my friends… “You’ll love it!” “OMG, they scare me!” I ended up going for it, figuring since the event was here in town, I wouldn’t be spending extra money on traveling and hotel expenses… so why not spend it on an extra race?!

The fun started Friday night with a Cowboy Mouth concert – my fav band, so I couldn’t say no. I did however slide out early… luckily Rebecca was with me, so the peer pressure helped with our self-imposed curfew of midnight. Unfortunately that gave us only 45 minutes of show time, but it still made me happy – and helped me fall asleep quick :)

Saturday morning we had an 8:50am start from Tiftonia. The women’s field was large, but I saw several familiar faces. We had a neutral start then most of us stayed together for a few more miles. A hill around mile 8 sadly spit me off the back with a group of others. 6 of us worked together for the next hour. I was the only Vixen, but recognized Marsha and Nancy from other races. Once we hit Whiteside, we were on the familiar roads of spring’s Raccoon Mtn Road Race. The stairsteps came around mile 20 and again I fell back a bit. The weather today was much more humid than it had been for the last 2 weeks and I didn’t want my asthma to blow up. Once at the top, it really didn’t take much effort to catch up to the 4 gals ahead (1 never caught back up to us). We worked together through the backside of 41. Once we we made the left turn onto the road that would lead us up the mtn, things split up. Again, I played it conservatively so that I would actually make it up. I had only done this climb once on a mountain bike (and in the rain), so I was a bit nervous (and mad at myself for not ever coming out to practice it). The 3.5 miles seemed to last forever. Half of it was in the shade; the other half had the sun beating on me. About halfway up, David Meek drove by and cheered me on. Once we were through the gates, I caught up with Marsha… and then the pro guys caught up with us. While it sorta sucked (because they rode much further than we did and literally flew by), I have to admit they pepped me up a bit :) I ended up finishing in 9th place in the Cat 4 division (out of 18).

marsha & i heading up the mountain… speedy guys creeping up behind…

me making a weird face & rebecca at the overlook, finally done!

Of course now that we were at the top, we had to ride back down to our cars – it was actually a nice cool down. I grabbed a sandwich and headed home for bit, although I was scared to relax too much. I went back up the mountain at 2:30 to get ready for the afternoon time trial. My start time was 3:53pm. We started at the entrance to the East Overlook and followed the reservoir counter clockwise. There would be 1 pretty good size climb, but mostly downhill from here. Reba and I did ride it a few times the week before, so I felt somewhat prepared. What wasn’t ideal is that I had the 2 fastest Cat4 girls starting right behind me… at a mere 30/60 seconds. I joked about “seeing them soon”…. and yeah, I did. Nicole passed on the climb and Andrea when we were on the dam. After making the sharp turn into Laurel Point, we had a fast downhill…. unfortunately there was a gradual ascent before hitting the finish line. I was spent and out of oxygen. Sure, I’m not used to doing these “speed workouts”, but I’m sure my asthma is playing a role in how I feel, as it’s usually my lungs stopping me before my legs. I didn’t do so hot here… finishing 10th/13.

at the start line… and me smiling big (to cover the nerves)

Saturday night was lazy… just rented a movie and hit the sack early. (partially because I thought I rented a comedy and it was more like a tearjerker.) Sunday was the big day – my first crit. I headed downtown early to warm up and watch a few races before ours (at 11:50am). Inbetween races I was able to take a spin around and get a feel for the road. I also watched the guys go around each corner to try to figure out where I should be. Honestly, I was clueless about the whole thing, but hey, why not dive in. At the start, 40 women gathered which was apparently pretty large for a women’s field. We tried to split up – it’s not that enticing for us beginners to hang with the pro/1/2/3 chicks (and they don’t want us newbies around either); but the officials kept us together. The actual start was ok… I was with the pack in the first turn. Then the 2nd turn came… then all of a sudden on the back I was alone. WTF?? I rode hard trying to catch up to the gals in front of me, but couldn’t quite make it. Soon I realized I wasn’t just alone, I was last. wow. I actually have never been in this position before and it was weird. unsettling. And the worst part was being in Chattanooga… with people I knew all rooting me on. I was hoping they wouldn’t recognize me, but alas, the did. sigh. After 3-4 laps I finally caught up to 2 girls in front, then we got another. We worked together for the rest of the 30 minutes. Yes, the main pack did lap us (but only once). Luckily we were not pulled from the course, which happens in most crits. Finally we were on the last corner. I really tried to sprint to the finish, but I had nothing. absolutely nothing. I think I sounded like I was about to keel over, as Monica asked me if I was OK. (yeah, you know, just can’t breathe.) Thankfully I did sneak past a few girls, finishing 12th/14.

I ended up with an 8th place finish in the omnium. Nothing fabulous, but hey, something new and different for sure. It was tough. And I’m not sure if I can call the crit fun. It was pure pain. (but oh yeah, I like that sometimes.) If I do another, I’ll have to definitely get some practice in. On the bright side, I did notice my cornering improve 150% during the course of the event.

BMW of Chattanooga Downtown Criterium

Since I’ve been slacking on writing about this, I can at least post the link to the pictures.

A few to check out from the pro/1/2/3 men’s race:

record temps

i swear i’ve never experienced temperatues this high this much ever. i think this is the 3rd week of 100+ degree readings – today was a record at 105. !!! it is not easy (and entirely safe) to be training in this heat. i’ve been getting up in the mornings to do a little bit to supplement shortened evening sessions.

this weekend is the bmw of chattanooga omnium. i bit the bullet and signed up for the whole thing: river gorge road race (37 miles, including a final climb all the way to the top of raccoon mountain. i hope i make it!), river gorge time trial (4.11 miles, around the reservoir on raccoon), then the downtown criterium – 30 minutes of maximum effort. this will be my first crit and i am nervous!! i figured since it is here, at home, why not… it’s a fairly short, non-technical race so it seems to be a good introduction. my goals are: 1, not to crash; 2, not get lapped and pulled from the course. i really have no idea what to expect – wish me luck!

Allanti Cycling Classic

Last weekend was the Allanti Cycling Classic, in Leiper’s Fork, TN (just south of Nashville). I headed up there with Michelle, where we met several other Velo Vixens for a day of road bike racing. The cat 4 women’s race started at 9am (with the Masters 50+ men) and would be 40 miles of rolling and flat roads with a few short climbs. The rollout is always interesting, as you don’t know what riders have up their sleeves. At the Raccoon Mtn race, it was slow and easy. At Avery Trace, the break started right away. Today we stuck together for 20 minutes before the first hill broke things up. At this point, I was spit off the back but joined up with Cecelia and Beth to work together for much of the race. It was really quite uneventful. It was a hot hot day and drinking alot was essential. I really had wished someone was at the feed zone with bottles for us. I had to ration what I had, but made it to the end with 1 sip to spare. The finish was a 200m sprint that I wasn’t entirely ready for. Fellow teammate Beth edged me out by a half wheel, finishing 6th in my division.

We then chilled for a few hours, seeking refuge in the a/c of a cute deli in Franklin while we had some lunch. The time trial began at 3pm, right in the worst heat of the day. This was my first time doing one of these and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The heat had tired me out, giving me a slight headache. My body was beat from the morning race. I was 4th person out – so at least I’d get it over with quick! At the line, I was clipped in while race officials held my bike up and gave me the countdown. Go! What I failed to remember was to adjust my gearing for a proper start. I was in too hard of a gear and without much of a push, barely stayed upright. (but thankfully did!) From the first pedal stroke, it was all business. The course was 5 miles with small uphill grade nearly the entire way. wow. This was TOUGH. I was hot, hurting, thirsty and my calf was all but cramping. I don’t have a computer on my bike so I really had no idea how far I’d gone, and how much was left. Finally someone on the side shouts 1k left. yeah! but…. how far is 1k? I really don’t have that concept of distance yet. Finally at the top of a hill I see what looks like official tents, so I crank up the pace one final time. I felt like I crept over the finish line – certainly nothing like some of the juniors I saw crossing at full throttle. impressive stuff! I finished in 16m51s, good enough for 4th. (not bad for being whooped, not having a tri bike or aero bars, and using my old mountain bike shoes still!)

At the time I thought I didn’t want to do any more multi-event road races, but now that a week has gone by, I’m considering…. There is an omnium coming to Raccoon Mtn / Downtown Chatt at the end of the month that I’m toying with…. def will do the RR & TT… but the crit has me curious. I know nothing about them, but… since it’s right here…. I’m considering :)

steppin up the training

so with the Montana race around the corner (in exactly 2 months we’ll be done with it!), i really need to log a lot of miles and elevation. this past weekend, i joined star & lisa (both training for the Leadville 100 mtn bike race) for two days of biking. on saturday we headed back to the ocoee for a 5hr ride (about 4 hrs on forest service roads and 1 hr on singletrack). then on sunday when our legs were nice & tired, we hit the road for a 5hr ride from red bank to graysville (79 miles). while i took today off, i decided to register for the Cherohala Challenge, a 115-mile road ride in the Smoky Mountains in 2 weeks.

Here’s what they say about it:
THE Challenge: 115-Miles
The Dragon: US129 with its famous 318 curves in 11 miles.
Cherohala Skyway: a road with the highest average elevation of any road its length east of the Mississippi.

These legendry ribbons of pavement are joined by scenic, rolling, country roads in Tennessee and North Carolina and together create an unforgettable epic ride.

The 115-mile loop begins/ends in Tellico Plains at an elevation of 900 feet. The route twists through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests and climbs to 5,300 feet with over 9,000 feet of elevation gain. Enjoy some long descents after reaching the top, but before you coast into town, you will contend with “the sawteeth”, over a dozen 0.5-1 mile rollers.

And check out this profile – ouch!!

playing hookie

amanda (my colorado cousin) got into town on tuesday morning for her whirlwind trip thru tennessee. after some coffee, we headed up to lookout mountain for some hiking. i’m not too familiar with the area and wasn’t sure how to get us to sunset rock. finally we found the incline and parked there, depositing all the quarters we had (1hr, 45min). we walked down to point park, but not wanting to pay the entry fee (yeah, we’re cheap), we walked 30min along west brow road (gorgeous homes!) and finally got to sunset rock.

from there, we hiked along the bluff trail and went in the back way to point park. by now we were running low on meter time and hightailed it… but alas, the evil meter maids had left me a nice lil present. (luckily only a $5 fine). then we hit the Y for a swim (first time i’ve been in the water since last summer’s xterra!).

on wednesday we hit the road and headed east to asheville. we stopped at the ocoee to check out the whitewater center (site of the 96 olympics). the water was down on the upper section, but still cool to look around.

next, we headed up the nantahala gorge. after a late lunch at the River’s End restaurant (using a gift cert I won at last year’s tsali challenge), we hit the trails for some mountain biking. i got the old tre8k in working order for amanda to use. even though she usually rides a full suspension, she rode strong. we did both the left & right loops plus the overlook, for a total of about 20 miles.

after, we snuck a quick shower at the campgrounds and headed to asheville. we stopped in at my friends’ house for a bit (chilton had just gotten a new rope swing in the tree and was having a ball!). then on to see amanda’s old roommate sara, whom we stayed with.

thursday, after a lazy breakfast at the early girl eatery (my fav there), we headed to out for some more mtn biking at nearby bent creek. this was my first time here and sara led us on a great 2+hr ride. these gals love their downhill! (greens lick trail nearly licked me!) after a late lunch and shower, i headed back to chatty.


i knew it was going to happen soon but of all weeks, this was not the one for my clutch to decide to all but die. but it did, so you just gotta roll with it. i dropped it off today and after a ride back to my office, i am embarking on a few days of self-imposed bike commuting. sure, i’ve had many generous offers to drive me around, but i’m actually looking forward to this. i have a few friends that bike to work 3-5 times per week, and they have further to ride than i do (approx 5 miles, mostly downhill from home… which means coming home is quite a workout). sure, i’ve biked to work a few times, but honestly not as much as i want to or should. mostly, it is my beloved laptop that prevents me from doing so – i usually work at home a few hours (ok, work/goof off, etc) at night, so i always take it home from the studio. and yes, 95% of the time i use it. but i am not about to put that laptop in a bag on my back to bike in – it’s just too expensive and invaluable to take that risk. so, i drive.

not having my work computer at home for a few nights has been refreshing. (ok yeah, i am on one now, but this old laptop doesn’t have all my work stuff on it to keep me busy)… last night, i worked in the yard, cleaned the house, started reading a new book, and went to bed at a reasonable hour. tonight has been relaxing as well. tomorrow night i may start going thru withdrawal, but i’ll manage.

i hope i can really make this more of a habit… start with maybe 2 days a week where i can leave the computer at work and make sure i don’t schedule any client appts out of the studio (that gets tricky). i have a bit to learn though; tips are appreciated!
- how to stash what i need into 1 bag (clothes to change into, lunch + my running clothes & shoes)
- how to keep fresh when your office doesn’t have a shower (a stash of Wet Ones are helpful I’ve heard… and i think a baseball cap may be mandatory)
- do i always change into cycling clothes, or do go more commuter casual? (certainly not as comfy so i’m not planningon testing this one yet….)

Quote from the Tues Night Ride

“You were pulling like a freight train…”
- Ted

uhh, Ted, is that supposed to flatter the ladies?

Finally, back on track…

I had a great weekend of training! The last few months have been a bit weird… sure, I’ve been “training” and racing, but my intensity has been lacking. This was proven recently when my VO2 max tests at ATS came back with dismal numbers. (ok, not dismal.. I topped out at 55, which is still pretty damn good, but not even comparable to the 62 I had last time). The graphs that the machine/program spit out did not hide anything… Coach Tony explained the numbers (aerobic & lactate threshold, recovery heart rate, etc) and why he thought things had dropped: lack of intensity in my workouts had caused my body to reclaim the extra blood vessels it had created in my legs, thereby reducing how much oxygen my body was utilizing. It does make sense – all winter I ran long, collecting basemiles for my ultra adventures. There was no speed work, no tempo work, no intervals. Gosh, I sound like a slacker….

Anyways, my challenge lately has been to add this intensity into my weekly training schedule. With so many group trainings, it’s difficult sometimes to make them hard. I guess I need to take some of the socialness out of the workouts? (without making it seem like I’m ignoring my friends). Hmm… it will be an effort in progress… The speedwork on Thursdays will be a good addition. Then if I can incorporate a ride like I did this past weekend, improvements will come!

Saturday, I met Dreama out in Soddy for a road ride. 4 SCV guys came out as well. Oh boy, the pace just went up! All I knew about this ride was to expect about 60 miles, and about 3.5/4 hours. Things started off ok…. a bit cool in the morning, but knowing it would heat up, opted for short sleeves + arm warmers. We wound all through Soddy, Sale Creek & Graysville, before starting our first climb up Brayton Mountain. Up on top, we were amazed at how long we rode on flat/rolling terrain – yet we were on top of a mountain! Then came our descent on Pitts Gap Road. I have one word – YIKES! I don’t like descents to begin with, but this has got to be the worst I’ve had to suffer through. The views of the valley on the west side were amazing, which did nothing to calm my fears. I even stopped once because my hands hurt from braking so much. (I reallly gotta improve on this soon. somehow. please send me tips!) Once I caught up to everyone (who kindly waited for me), we battled some wind as we headed south towards our next ascent – something very special apparently: Henson Gap Road. It had some killer switchbacks where you had to stand and really muscle over them. Something easier said than done when you’re already tired! Once on top, my water bottles were nearly drained. I rationed the last few ounces, but still had about 20 minutes of nothing. This section was pretty exposed to both wind and sun (oops, really should have put more sunscreen on since the arm warmers were now off!). Finally we hit a mini mart and fueled up on ice cold drinks. After a decent on Hotwater Road, we were done. Yeah!!

It was a hard workout and I chased them the whole time… but it was nice to do that and not just go out for a casual ride. I really appreciated everyone helping me out and (seemingly) not get frustrated by having a slower person along for the ride. It’s rides like this that will help me get better.

Check out the map here… this is my first attempt at creating a map on Google.. pretty cool stuff! (although not quite as handy and detailed as those rockin’ Garmin 305s.)

Sunday was no rest! The running crew hit the Cumberland Trail for a point-to-point run of the Possum Creek Gorge Segment – the absolute hardest 10 miles of trail to run I’ve ever been on. And yes, on tired legs, they seemed nearly impossible at times. It took us about 2hrs 50min, including a break at the waterfall where most of the guys actually jumped in (they said it was like ice!) Dreama and I had stashed our bikes in Joey’s car at the end and worked out the lactic acid with an “easy” 15 mile ride back to our cars… easy, except for the killer, long, exposed climb up 111. A brutal way to end the weekend!

Here are some more pictures…