Monday, June 29, 2009


Whew! What does a bear cub, thunderstorm with downpour, and gusty winds have in common? The answer would be the Skyline Drive ride on June 20th. The IMUSA crew all converged in a rental house near Luray for the long Skyline ride on Friday, June 19th. After dinner and some beers Friday night, we all got some sleep and left early Saturday for the long ride. We had planned on 2 out and back rides of 25 miles (that would be 25 out and back, 2x). The weather at Thorton Gap parking was cloudy, and as we started out, it began to rain a bit. The ride was hard as shit. There was a big climb up to the highest point for that stretch of the drive, beginning at around mile 4.5 and ending at around mile 11 or so. Pretty much straight up. In the now pouring, and I mean pouring rain. At the top, in the rain, my riding buds and I all kind of dreaded the downhill, as our brakes really didn't work due to the wet conditions. But off we all went. My bike goes really fast downhill as I have said, and the rain didn't make me any slower. I was bombing down the mountain, fast as shit, brakes fully engaged, and not slowing down at all. I was not the happiest I've ever been, but at that point there was nothing I could do but go. I tried to stay in the middle of the road (cars be damned) since that was the only part of the road that wasn't running water, leaned back and down on the rear wheel hoping for traction. Raindrops were pelting me in the face and something hard hit me in the chest (not a clue what it was) but I kept screaming downhill. Finally got to the bottom, realizing that it was one long downhill that would need to be climbed back up. More up and downhills ensued, with my biking buds catching me on the climbs.

Towards the end of another downhill, I was alone and saw what I thought was a bigass dog coming out of the woods on my left. I quickly realized it was a bear cub and squeezing as hard as I could came to a stop about 25 feet from it. I was freaking out, b/c I was sure Mama bear was close, so I got off my bike slowly and backed up the hill a bit, until I was about 40 feet away. I was standing there, in the rain, looking at the cub, and it was looking at me and there we stood for a few minutes. Then Lynn came down the hill and I was frantically waving at her to stop. She did, and thankfully she saw the cub as well (I didn't want another goat incident). We stood there for another minute or so, then the cub rambled across the road and into the woods on the other side. No Mama bear showed up. So, again, off we went.

Now the weather got even worse, thunder and lightening, harder rain, maybe some we kept riding towards Dickies Ridge, because at least there would be shelter. We saw most of the rest of the gang coming back up from Dickie's Ridge in the thunder and rain, as we descended further into dense fog patches. Not a ride for the faint of heart. We finished the first 27 miles and gathered ourselves for the return trip, which was harder than the first part. So, 8 miles of uninterrupted climbing back to the top, more rain, and then the wind picked up. At this point I had decided not to go all the way back to Dickie's Ridge, and was having some serious conversations whether I'd go out again at all, if the weather didn't get better. More screaming downhills, but the rain finally stopped and Lynn and I decided to go to top of the big mountain one more time, back to the start and then out for another 10 miles to get 85 miles in. We did that, with the sun finally out but with the wind gusting pretty intensely. The ride back up sucked big time, but I made it. Since the roads were now drier, the ride down was a blast. After finishing the 85, Lynn and I ran for about 30 minutes and I actually felt pretty good. Other than MyKaren, who ended up riding 107 (she is a stud), people rode between 60 and 100. Much, much, much harder than LP. I figure 85 in that terrain is worth 100 on regular land....

We all drank and ate that evening and then the few that remained did a short lake swim at Arrowhead Lake. Swimming through underwater plants is kind of weird, but once free of those, it was a nice swim. MyKaren and I booked back home, reloaded the cars for a trip to the beach for my family reunion. That was uneventful, but I did get some sun.

We did our last long run on Saturday, was supposed to be 22, I did around 18, MyKaren did around 21. We just ran from our house. I hated it and if anyone had stopped me to offer me a penny if I quit, I would have taken it. Somehow, I got myself through the hot, humid, horrible run, and now I only have the marathon at LP to worry about. I hope to get through 18 miles in 4 hours on race day, so I would have 2 hours to do the last 8; that is my current hope. But if it doesn't work out...I'll just keep moving until the end!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


One long run and 2 long bikes left! The long Blue Ridge ride 2 weeks ago was on a beautiful day, one that started way early with some serious fog in the mountains. The LP crew that went did 3 out and backs, 1st from 13-3/4 to 0 and back, then from 13-3/4 to 25 and back, and then the 13/34/ to 0 and back again. Some hardy souls then went down the Gates of Hell up to Wintergreen and back, but I was not one of those. 86 miles or so of nothing but climbing or descending was more than enough for me! Lynn and I also did a short transition run afterwards, which I thought was not bad.

What can I say about riding the Blue Ridge? It is hard as crap, I think much harder than LP since there really is never a flat or even flat-like section. The climb grades are around 4% on average, whilst the LP ones are an average of 2%. So, if I can ride BL, then I guess I can ride LP for real. The time it may take me is the thing I am worried about! The 2nd leg goes up a 3+ mile climb, which is all switchbacks and which has been a fun, but sometimes scary downhill. I had the best time on that downhill I have ever had in my life. For some reason, I just took the curves perfectly and was flying downhill with a huge grin on my face and giddy with happiness! It was a blast! As I have said in the past, my new bike loves speed, and for once, I let it go! Wow! Of course the climbing is not so much fun, but after a few stops to talk to myself, I got through it. Working on nutrition, I tried Carbo-Pro and gu on the last leg, and that seemed to work for me, so I'll do that again for the bigass Luray ride this weekend.

Last weekend MyKAren, Sharon, Lynn and I all trooped to Pocahontas for a little bike/run fun. It was kind of humid and hot, and the run was supposed to be 20 miles. We decided to have an adventure and ended up taking our shoes off and crossing the creek downstream of the dam for a 14.5 mile loop. I was losing it for the last several miles of that loop, as that section of trails is not as shady as the the Old Mill Bike trails, but we all got through it. MyKAren, Lynn and Sharon (who, let me remind you, is NOT training for anything in particular) took off to run the BBT loop for the remainder of the milage, while I went off on my own to finish via the Old Mill loop...I actually ended up doing around 19 rather than 20, but I'm ok with that. Given my state when I finished the 14 miles, I was happy with my running for the rest of the run, I had downed some gu and managed to run the majority of the last miles. Who knows what race day will bring, if I can run even 1/2 of the marathon, I'll be happy! So we all finished running, and then ate and then I had to take a nap!

We swam at the secret 50m pool location on Sunday, Lynn and I did 2.5 miles, MyKaren and Shelley did 2.75. I love the longer pool for long swims. Next up is the 100 mile Skyline Drive ride, looks really scary and hard, maybe I should add lights to my bike!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


OK, now that I am actually 50, it kind of freaks me out. I turned 50 on Saturday, and to celebrate, MyKaren, Lynn and Sharon all went to Pocahontas State Park for a little ride and a lot of run. We rode the park roads for about 45 minutes and that was very nice. The roads are not flat, and since they paved the road to the group camp ground one can get in a loop of about 13 miles. So, we road all through the park and then we had to run. Running is most definitely not my favorite thing and it is not becoming my favorite thing. But, running on the fire roads and wide trails was very, shady, challenging and not hard as hard on the body. We ran an 11 mile loop, and then a 7 mile loop for the required 18 miles. It is not an easy run, very hilly for the first 4 miles and then rolling terrain until the short hill at the very end. Very good training for Placid. I really tried to pop the Salt Stick pills and take gu every 30 minutes and drink all my fluids in an attempt to stave off kind of worked, I still felt very tired and unenergetic for some of the run, but much better afterwards so maybe I am figuring it all out.

No big birthday plans as the party was my celebration! All of us met and swam Sunday am, very early at the secret 50 m pool site, very lovely and most of us swam 2.5 miles. We love the 50 m pool! Afterwards MyKaren, Lynn and I all had a big breakfast and then went home for yard work. Not a bad birthday weekend!