Category Archives: Cycling

Introducing: The Nashville Dirty Birds #24HOP #Beercamp2020


24 Hours of Old Pueblo happened

#24HOP.

I’ll get to that momentarily, but first, #Beercamp

A collection of close friends who vacation from Nashville’s stubborn winter, always with bikes; road bikes, mountain bikes, hiking shoes, sometimes with the chilns, sometimes with Fievel.

Historically, #beercamps happen following a bike ride and with the requisite post-ride recovery drink beer. A conversation usually finds its way to adventuring and doing epic shit. If when the Tequila Fairy materializes, she sprinkles her magic agave dust throughout the room. The results are impressive.

Wars have been won (the domestic kind) and children consummated because of a little magic agave dust. The Tequila Fairy is both revered and scowled (Cooper) in the same room.

Great moments in #Beercamp history include,

  • the Fig in Santa Barbara,  playground for the climbers as two heavyweights grappled back and forth and Uncle Rico’s benadryl cocktail.
  • There was the Big Sassy dehydrated death march in the borrego desert
  • and most recently, the infamous 2018 #Breckepic, where Fievel’s shoes exploded at elevation.

So it seems fitting that this #Beercamp edition would take us back to Tucson, where it all kinda started (scratches head).

Before I blow thru this sucka, the back story on the 24 HOP and the Nashville Dirty Birds….this is also a long one, so, if you’re looking for something to do while sheltering, you my friend are in luck!

Let us begin:

I do remember, this one did not start with a visit from the Tequila Fairy. Actually, about as far along on the other end of the spectrum as you could imagine. No alcohol involved (truth). This was pure spontaneous creativity, probably some donuts.

I recall being in a hotel somewhere for work, Boston, I think. Oct. 1st, 2019 was the date. I know this from the registration (and Outlook calendar says I was at the Boston waterfront Marriott for work)…it was very early in the morning…early even for my old ass.

My phone rang.

Answers: “……why are you calling me this early, Shitass?”

On the other end, I could hear the sound of donuts being wiped away from his face, and in a very serious tone, Lord Muffintop, covertly whispered:

“Registration opens in 1hr”

And in that beautiful, frantic, spontaneous moment, our registration was confirmed for what is known as the burning man of mountain biking events, the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.

And thus, the Nashville Dirty Birds were born.

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Some of my non-cycling friends (5) might be wondering what in the hell exactly is 24 Hours of Old Pueblo, or 24 Hour Town.

24HOP is billed as the longest-running 24-hour mountain bike event in America, filling to capacity within minutes of registration opening, and attracting more than 3,500 participants annually to the Sonoran Desert northwest of Tuscon, Arizona. Considered the ‘Burning Man of Bike Races’, the 24 Hours has become as much a colourful celebration of community as it is an endurance mountain bike event. 

and for those visual learners, from the cockpit of pro shredder, Josh Tostado, who smashed this year’s event with 20 laps in 24 hours!

Back to the Dirty Birds…because this is important funny context you need.

We registered our team without any of our friends knowing, or, rather asking them….LOL.

And now we were gonna have to inform our friends, who had no clue, that they were registered for a 24hr mtb team relay (tbh this wasn’t even on my radar that morning).

There might would be significant blowback.

The rest is a partially true, loose recreation of what happened next.

Real time as the drama unfolded:

Lord Muffintop mumbling calling out names, “yeah yeah yeah, put his fatass in there, he’ll go” followed by what sounded like an apparition hissing thru the phone. A single ghostly howl, like a shrieking banshee in the dark:

Shorty“nooooooooooo, you shitassss, I AM NOT IN!”

Followed by what sounded like something crashing against a wall.

A door slammed, loudly.

I’ll be honest with you. I gotta give it to ‘Ol Saddlebag Lovehandles, he shook off Shorty’s weak attempt to frag his ass with a coffee cup-grenade and immediately returned to his barely audible covert whisper:

“its cool, Man…she gone, she had to get these chillns to school…

(sound of slurping coffee)….register her ass, she can do all the night laps”.

Un-wavered in his vision of assembling an elite team of spandex clad beer drinking micro-watt bombers, Lord Muffintop handled it like a world tour pro. Shorty was just collateral damage.

Halfway across the country and just a few hours later, via a Boston phone call to the mothership, SWG, was not digesting the news much better.

I tried to casually drop it in the morning discussion, “how’s the pig, she sleep well?, oh, by the way, we’re registered for 24 Hours of Old Pueblo with the rest of the crew…”

Immediately, I knew I was screwed, that this had not gone as smoothly as I had hoped.

Quite the opposite in fact, and I could now sense real heat on my ass now.

SWG made it clear that she needed to be part of these decisions. I did make an honest effort to explain it away, that thousands of people signed up and that registration closed in a record 54 minutes, and that thousands more didn’t get in; this was the Burning Man of Mountain Biking, for Pete’s sake. Looking back, I should have never tried having this conversation in the morning (duh).

There were some loud words coming in over the phone. NO Huuuuney. More strong language from the Skinny White Girl, language that should not be repeated here, this is, after all, a story to share with families.

My mind racing, I waited for the moment when she would have re-load her lungs with precious oxygen before the next sonic wave, then I sprung into action.

Like Pan with his flute, I dangled the sweet carrots of Feb. mtb rides in balmy desert temperatures while singing the magical song of all you could eat tacos, and all you can drink margaritas. 

67% of the time, works every time. Slightly charred, smoke coming off my ass, I had survived. SWG (Skinny White Girl) was in.

Back in Nashville, and what was probably many weeks later,Captain Destructo chose arguably the most effective way of informing his aforementioned Tequila Fairy.

He didn’t.

Worked great, and for a really long time too, and then when the shit did hit the fan he executed his second best option, masterfully:

He blamed it on Lord Muffintop.

Stable genius.

*Sadly, the wheels fell off his magic carpet ride before it ever got started.

Evidently you can not tell your wife and survive, but you can not not tell your employer.

Ratfart.

**We did our best impressions of Lord Fupa and the TequilaFairy, trying to invoke their spirit daily, shredding the gnar and chugging copious margaritas in the desert. Sadly, the absence of breaking random bike stuff was a void we just could not fill.

Your absence was most notable in that Big Sassy actually stayed hydrated.

One final person to inform of registration.

Bateman, our resident vakay partner.

I think I called him sometime after the rest. TBH, I don’t recall a reaction at all, really. Some modest, cool, comment, about an opportunity to beta his current side hustle, an endurance training book he has been working on for years now:

“Couch to doing Epic Shit, by Eric Bateman”.

He was in.

And there you have it, that’s how to register friends for a 24 hour mtb event,  and the creation of the world’s most dysfunctional #24HOP relay team, the Nashville Dirty Birds.

All that remains now is a collage of bad photos, a few ride descriptions, and mostly made up stuff about Big Sassy.

I would recommend leaving now if you have to get back to work, or, just close your browser, the writing only gets worse from here (sips beer).

Welcome to the #24HOP and #Beercamp2020  

The following are some of the highlights.

Arrivals:

The trip out went smooth. We landed, immediately consuming 54 tacos and 17 margaritas before heading off to pick-up our mtb rentals and the ghetto cruiser that would serve as base camp at 24HOP.

We rented mtbs from a company called Spartan Rides.  and can’t recommend them enough, great rates, better customer service and solid bikes (Niner Jet-rkt, Evil super-tank for Coop). They also delivered the bikes, meeting us in nearby Mesa, AZ, where SWG got to see her Aunt and Lord Muffintop was collecting his luxurious rental vehicle.

Introducing: Lord Muffintop’s Millennium Falcon.

“She’s a real beaut, Clark”

The trick, would be getting this fine piece of equipment up into 24 Hour Town, at night.

Challenge Accepted! If it has a steering wheel, Lord Muffintop can drive it. X1tQZ9mZTqucrYtsSRft6A

24 Hour Town at sunrise.

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That’s us in the center of this photo with the blue tent (that’s where I slept). Jena bailed on me after Friday night and opted to sleep thru her 3rd lap in the luxurious GMC Seqouia rental truck (bottom right). Muffintop and Shorty took the presidential sweet and Bateman went full roost in the loft of the Falcon. Everyone was snug as a bug. Tri-tip steak sammys and methane kept me from freezing my ass off in that damn blue tent.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the #Beercamp spectrum, Thunderass and Sassy were settling in for some Netflix and chill. Deedah and Ash were in tow, doing their best to translate the good energy into the world from buttchugging all the sun.

The cool thing about being bi-coastal for rental homes (camper/air bnb) is you get to drop shit everywhere and ride all the bikes.

We went to the rental house after we dropped the Falcon. Folks showered, took down some more hydration and after a long day tucked in for some zzzs.

Friday morning, we hit up a quick greenway spin with Lord Thunderass, Big Sassy & a time machine blast from the past, our old team mate, Baaaaaawwwwett. 

To the best of my recollection, SWG and I cut the greenway ride short to head back to the house. 24 hour town was close, maybe an hour’s drive and the Dirty Birds were intent on heading out to the desert Friday afternoon for a last minute preview of the course.

This also afforded us the precious opportunity to get settled, relax, rest, to prepare properly for a 24 mtb race.

Which, naturally, went out the door as we proceeded to drink 3 days of beer in the next 6 hours. The conversation was full of laughs. Freebird air guitars were out, followed by some wicked beer drinking game to the tune of ACDC’s Thunderstruck (drink!). All of which had us spiraling toward the late evening abyss known as the Goat Show.

I’m not 100% on this but I think it was Shorty who called out “let’s go to the show!”

The Goat Show is a couple of dudes who’ve been collecting interesting and fun items along their journey on this ball of dirt.

You can’t miss them as you’re coming into 24 Hour Town, they’ve set up mannequin bar tables and post up the coolest green neon cactus in front of their rigs. Complete with fitness center, they even have repurposed a trailer with sides that roll open up to present a stripper pole, for those who need their early morning calisthenics.

Dudes like to have a hella good time.

The price to enter the goat show:  free (oh, but there’s always a price).

Anyone can enter as long as you are (a)ready to have fun, (b) are respective of the 24 Hour Town neighbors and (c) really important requirement here, you have to sign their door before you enter.

SWG left our indelible mark.

They also do stamp tattoos of the Goat Show that are kinda cool, I dunno, I mean, if you’re into stamps.

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Right – let’s move on from this part of the story.. We managed to find our way back to camp. No clue what time.

Everyone woke-up, mildy hungover.

Even though we slept in our jackets and clothes and in a cold weather bag, SWG and I froze our asses of in the tent.  I swear she was shivering all night. Amazing she didn’t get in the truck (that was Sat. night).

Sat, 8:30am. Groggy and looking for coffee, we found our way down to the 24 Hour town center for breakfast burritos and fresh coffee. We knew there was a decision to make but food and coffee first.

The race started at noon, so as we ate and sat around sipping coffee, there was a general feeling of folks conspiring to see who would do the stressful first lap, or at least, first 20 minute of the first lap. “You wanna go first, that’s cool if you do” type of talk.

The original plan was to send Captain Destructo out first. We figured this strategic move was bomb-proof for the crazy LeMans start:

(1)his giant self would have enough in his tank to get out in front of the horde of cyclists and (2) no one was gonna try to pass that big bastard unless he collapsed his bike folding it like a lawn chair, or, pulled over to eat at mile 2.

Sadly, that plan went to pot when his shifts weren’t covered at the ER.

Bugger.

Plan B.

Shorty wasn’t interested, Muffinstuffer was hungover af and not making eye contact with anyone other than his breakfast burrito, and no way was Jena gonna do it. I gave it some serious consideration and got everyone to agree,

send Bateman out.

Worked like a charm too, Duder straight off the couch went out and smashed a 1:24!

Oh too be young and fearless.

The Whiskey Tree

One important ordinance not posted in 24 Hour Town, was the requirement of the patron to pull their vehicle over to the right and come to a complete stop before accepting the gift of whiskey.

Whiskey Tree

You can imagine the ire of the whiskey magistrate when MLP executed to perfection the traditional cross hand-up – speed into the corner, recognized the offering, took the foot off gas pedal and coasted with speed while extending a hand for a textbook hand-up of liquid gold. A perfect 3/4 swig followed by the off-hand extension of the offering back to the magistrate.

One teeeny problem. He expected me to stop. At this point, I could only hear the poor sot behind me somewhere huffing “slow down slow down” and finally screaming out “just drop it, Man”.

Which I did, and then proceed to smashing the gas pedal again.

This was a serious offense, recorded by chance, from the innocent by standing SWG, who conveniently and immediately turned into a desert cactus as the whiskey magistrate and his minions fumed over such an offensive traffic violation (overheard: “why’d he do that, Man, that’s not cool“). Oops.

Meanwhile, Pony took that rocket fuel to fire off a 1:19:51 lap. Now, for my tanksass, that’s smoking fast, and even though it was early in the 24 hours,I had put down a good solid effort for the fastest lap of the day for the birds.

Sadly, I didn’t get to bask in any glory as Muffinnibbler immediately went out and teabagged my effort posting a 1:19:45. 

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I mean, GAWDMMYT. If I hadn’t taken that hand-up. LOL

Following Bateman, SWG went out for her first lap in the afternoon sun and with the exception of punching a cholla cactus, was a fairly vanilla lap. I’ll come back to her 3rd lap in a moment (which was anything but).

Shorty, bless her heart. Damn. I’m not sure what time she went out, around 10:30pm or so. We had created a list of laps/times etc, and then after recovery beers, starting exchanging laps (naturally). I think SWG and I switched times, and maybe Chunky Brewster, I honestly cannot recall who and when.

What I do recall is being in the tent, trying to catch some zs, freezing my ass off. I knew Shorty was out there. It occurred to me that she was probably really cold…at some point I heard some tires roll up and some teeth chattering. I mumbled out in the dark “you okay??” and heard back something to the effect of “yeah, just freezing”.

I was not inspired to get up for my 4:30am lap…but I did. I staggered down to 24 Hour town for a breakfast burrito and coffee and quickly returned to get ready. It was really cold, the desert sky at night be beautiful but damn it’s colder than a well digger’s ass.

As I left, I could see SWG ferreting around her makeshift GMC Seqouia campground, she would be after me, the 7am dawn patrol lap. I gave her the other half of my breakfast burrito and reminded her to start getting her stuff ready.

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Bateman calls this: “Hobo eating breakfast burrito in the desert at 4am”

My 3rd lap, was understandably slower. A combination of cold, tired, and the words of encouragement from the team, if we slowed our times, there might not have to be a 4th lap.

I rolled into the exchange tent with a chilly 1:34. SWG was not in the staging area. The official asked me where my teammate was…”one moment”

I dug my phone out of my pack, and cold fingers tapping thru, dialed

SWG answers: “CUSS WORDS! Be right there”

The official laughed and offered me some coffee.

SWG showed up for her 3rd lap 20 min later…

and then went off, ripping off a sunrise 1:24.

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Shorty closed us out, we celebrated properly, wrapping up her final lap at the whiskey tree. We encouraged her (read: instructed her) to wait outside the main tent until high noon, ensuring that no one would have to go out for a 4th lap #EUROPROAF

The rest is semantics.

We said goodbye to Captain Teabag, drank some more beer, ate one more tri-tip sammy and then packed up camp. Thunderass, Big Sassy and Mt. Lemmon were waiting for the back half of #BeerCamp2020. {That chapter is stuck in editing and may take a bit longer}.

It was time to head back to the mothership for much needed showers and sleep.

Wrapping-up.

We had an amazing time in 24 Hour Town. A lot has happened in the world since that early Feb. weekend…as such, I tried to make up as much of this as possible to help pass the rona-time. I hope you enjoyed the adventure.

I do know this for a certainty, we cannot wait for 24 Hours in Old Pueblo, 2021. Elite squad, tbd.

Thanks for reading, MLP

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#NashvilleDirtyBirds #24HOP #24HoursOldPueblo #CaptainTeabag #KittySong #LordMuffintop #Shorty #SWG #Nashvilleontherocks #MLP #CaptainDestructo #LordFupa #LordThunderass #BigSassy #DeedahwithaH

 

 

Epilogue. BreckEpic, 1 week later.


The drive home was not bad.

Surprisingly.

We made it home on Beau Jo’s pizza, coffee/diet cokes, and listening to some of the creepiest HLN murder mystery radio (we missed you Eric!).

To help pass the time Sunday morning, I time capsuled myself back to the early ’70s & jammed to some concerts.

*sidenote, my 3 favorite:

  1. Black Sabbath, 1970 Live Paris
  2. Zep – Dazed & Confused, 1972 LA Forum
  3. Traffic – Low spark of high heeled boys, 1971

On with it then. Some parting thoughts & photos as I say goodbye to the 2018 #BreckEpic.

BTW, #3, above is really good, it pairs well with wine and these musings.

7 days ago we finished the 6 day #BreckEpic. This is by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done on a bike.

Individually, each single day seems relatively manageable, like a normal epic ride kind of feeling.

But two days in a row, at elevation. Oof.

Three days? Cuss words. 3 hurt, bad.

We would have been happy to stop at 3 days. (and this was when Jena and I asked ourselves, wtf did we sign up for 6).

4 days. Numb. Everything numb. Can’t eat enough. Losing weight. Beer consumption at all time low.

5 days…Day 5 was the worst. Wheeler’s {expletive} Pass.

Jena and I both agree, if it weren’t for 5 hours of hiking our bikes over 12’k feet, we would probably sign-up for 2019 right now.

Wheeler, to simply put it, was like getting kicked in the junk. For 5 hours.

Dirt and tears after day 5. That kind of stage.

6th day.

aaaaaaahhhhhhh.

That was fun.

Smell the barn kinda ride, and for 3.5 hours, we smiled and laughed (minus the 12 miles of 4% climbing). But mostly we romped thru some sweet sweet flow and let the big dog eat coming in.

Beer and taco consumption at all time high!

Life is good. We survived.

Thinking back. There were times where the focus was so tight. That gawdman belt buckle.

One step in front of the other, breathe. Repeat. For hours. 

hike a bike

Yeah, this was fun, but in a sick kind of way. Hanging out at elevation for 6 days at 9500′ is no easy task. The first couple of nights, folks in our group stated that they were laying in bed with a hummingbird in their chest. My resting HR the first night was 140.

ONE FORTY. lol

Damn Flatlanders.

Riding  Pushing a mountain bike up gnarly single track for 5-6 hours a day, over 11 or 12k’ for 6 consecutive days, well that’s a physical effort that requires more mental grit that physical fitness.

Earlier in the week, I touched on the dark places the mind will take you when the body goes well past fatigue. We all went there. Some stayed longer than others, but we all went to the badlands in the corners of our mind.

That’s where a good dose of love comes in, and how I’ll wrap this adventure up.

The community in Breckenridge is amazing. The entire community comes out and supports this event. The mayor rides and kicked off the week, stating how proud he is that the promoter passed on the bid from Ironman. The passion they share, for their little town and amazing network of trails, is difficult to comprehend. Smiling faces at every aid station, no matter how remote, isolated (and exhausted) we felt, there were local folk sharing their love to help each of us get complete our respective races.

Three particular volunteers, who (IMHO) exemplified the soul of this community. Each, on the course everyday, and in a personal way to me made a lasting impression.

1. Mike the SRAM mechanic. Evidently Captain Destructo rode my bike and broke my new SRAM Eagle cassette. Mike was kind enough to replace my cassette and get me up and going before the continental divide shoe debacle that was stage 3.

2. Keep Pedaling Chloe. She was at every aid station, best I can remember, on every stage. Her ears always perked, she would give a hard look of encouragement and her being there was a pleasant distraction from the pain emanating from my legs. Her human was pretty nice too.

3. And then there was Ava.

Sweet Mrs.- “I make the best damn train-wreck samiches on the planet” – Ava.

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@MathenyEndurance recommended we ask for the “Jamie Driscoll”, which was basically everything from the feed table, crammed onto two slices of bread, skittles bananas waffles goo, eeeeeeeverything. 

I passed. I did however, inhale at least 3 or 4 of the Ava Classic, white bread, miracle whip, pickles & potato chips. Kind of like those tiny little burgers from White Castles, but better.

SO DAMN GOOD.

There are so many other volunteers that make up the soul of BreckEpic. The 3 listed above were my favorite though.

The most important love though, that came from the knuckleheads that got us into this in the first place, and equally important, the friendships we forged with fellow sickos, while out on the mountain each day.

Thanks Friends, old and new, for helping Jena and I survive. We love ya’ll and want you to know we’re not doing this again. Nope.

Until the next post-ride this Fall or Winter, where we drink tequila again and someone breaks out a laptop.

You can do it off the couch someone will say….

…..

…….

Shitballs.

Thanks for the memories. Enjoy the pics.

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#BreckEpic18 #DonateLife #BeTheGift #TeamTransplant#TeamSweetPigQueenofthePotRoasts #HattieBsRacing #LittleHarpethBrewing #MathenyEndurance #888wordcount

 

 

 

 

#BreckEpic Day 6. Gold Dust Woman


Mission accomplished. Beer intake is at a weekly high and belt buckle has been secured.

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Short work of this tonight.

We survived.

I slept really well, with the help of some benadryl and melatonin, and a beer.

Nerves over breakfast. Aid bags? Tire pressure?

We rolled to the start line at the local ice rink parking lot.

8:56, wave 27 (the really slow wave).

Team B was ready.

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Today’s finishing stage, 30 miles and ~3500 miles of climbing, a pittance of what we had endured this week.

WE BLOWED TODAY UP.

Well, comparatively speaking, that is.

The first few miles was pretty easy, twisty single track out of the parking lot, only had to climb for 3 miles and Jena only had to wait for a minute or so…

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Some sweet flow back down and then some more single track that dumped us into a another 3 mile gravel road climb,  Boreas – Tank to top that rolled into the first aid station at mile 10. (that’s 6 miles of climbing if you’re counting like I was).

@MethaneyEndurance was there with our aid bags. Jena and I made short work and we were off.

We dropped back into the woods and hit the famous Gold Dust flume trails, cruisey-fun single track, where Jena proceeded to put the hammer down. {FWIW – this was really fun and we only almost crashed balls three times}.

Rocketing out of gold dust, we were spit out onto a gravel road that turned into another damn 6.5 mile climb.

IMG_2845Jena cracked the whip and put me into the pain cave for the next hour. A gradual 4% over the next 6 miles. I looked like a rabid dog as we rolled into the aid station at mile 22. Drooling all over my top tube and wheezing like I had smoked a pack or two.

We had a quick bottle swap. The volunteers told us it was 99% downhill to the finish.

I didn’t share dude’s enthusiasm, given the leg-beating-climbs we endured this week.

The next 10 was downhill though.

And it was so much fun. A little bony, but we just let the big dogs eat.

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From here in, it was probably the most fun single track we rode all week.

More sweet single track. Flying downhill like a scalded dog.

We rolled across the finish line, hand in hand and I yelled out with tears running down my dust-marred faced, “YEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHH!”

We finished with our fastest time of the week, just under 3:50.

Big smiles on our face.

We hugged, and cried. We screamed out loud in exclamation that we had done it.

The feeling was surreal, and as I type this, I have goosebumps (as I reach for my recover beer).

Comparatively speaking, today’s stage was a softball.  I don’t think I hiked my bike for more than a minute or two.

Which is a damn miracle.

{One day I’ll insert a professional photo here that the event photographer snapped, until then, this is a crappy photo of Jena and I, and said photographer.}

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I need to cash out for now. We’ve had a big day, week. There’s a lot of emotions swirling and I’m still processing what we accomplished this week.

For now, I’d like to leave a simple statement with you, as well as some photos.

BreckEpic is legit.

However.

Epic is in the eye of the beholder.

This is my opinion only, but I think there’s plenty of stoke out there, it’s not necessary to gut yourself over six days for a damn belt buckle to say you did some epic shit.

Crit racing.

Epic.

Trail running.

Epic.

Family of 3, getting-up at 6am and doing the local hammer ride. Yeah, that’s epic, for sure.

I’ll stop for now. I do plan on posting a deeper dive into this experience and all the folks that were part of it, later.

For now, I’ll leave this with you.

……

….

We got that damn belt buckle.

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#BreckEpic18 #DonateLife #BeTheGift #TeamTransplant#TeamSweetPigQueenofthePotRoasts #HattieBsRacing #LittleHarpethBrewing #MathenyEndurance #653wordcount

edit: great video of today’s stage

 

 

#Breck Epic Day 5, Wheeler’s Pass


Roots Rated describes today’s route over Wheeler’s Pass, “The Wheeler National Recreation Trail is one of the best places in the White River National Forest to hang out with wildlife and get a slice of alpine glory all to yourself. Following the ridgeline of the Tenmile Range, this steep, high-mountain route in the Colorado Rockies has breathtaking views of both Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. Despite being a mixed use trail open to mountain bikers, equestrians, and even the occasional trail runner, it’s more likely that you’ll pass a marmot up there than another human.”….

Unless you’re one of the 600 dumb bastards who paid to drag a mountain bike up and over 3 Wheeler passes today.

Today’s stage was ridiculously hard. That’s putting it lightly.

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I’m going to try and keep this short. Lot’s of pics kind of entry, because, well to be honest, we’re beat and could use a visit from the ether bunny tonight.

I did manage to choke a beer down following today’s stage, in case you were wondering. More a result of missing the second aid station and doing my best to make weight for tomorrow’s stage. I’d have drank a cup of warm pee I was so thirsty.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s rewind and go from the start, photo collage style to hopefully keep this short.

6:30am we’re trying to figure out how to make the hike-a-bike more tolerable.

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If you haven’t been following this circus, you may wonder about why we’re stuffing trail shoes in our camelbacks. This will help.  but mostly, because pushing a bike at elevation for hours on end, kinda sucks in mtb shoes. Cliff notes:this worked well.

IMG_2660This morning’s start was time trial mode. Waves of 10 people, sent out every 10 seconds. Our friends Brian and Alicia were 8:21, our group was 5 min behind, at 8:26. The weather was dry, and it was sunny, low 50s.

We were still smiling.

We hit the road. Evidently BreckEpic made note of my recent snarky comment about a 60sec warmup followed by climbing, and put us straight into some singletrack climb, literally right out of the parking lot. I watched Coop and Destructo roll away and within half a mile heard Jena ask “take a log off?”

Of course, the single track eased right into the photo below,

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Which is just the tip of the ‘ol hike your bike for hours iceberg, and today’s theme.

This was mile TWO.

The first aid station was at mile FOUR.

FML.

Reminder. Today’s stage sent us directly upto and over 12’k to Wheeler’s Pass, where we would spend the majority of the day.

Of course, getting to the first summit, that’s the trick.

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Following the first aid station, our form dialed-in from a week of hiking our bikes, we set off.

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The great thing about walking at 0.025mph, at elevation, if that you have plenty of time to take photos while you’re gasping for air.

IMG_2704This is the hike your bike face for 2 hours to the first ascent, Wheeler pass.

IMG_2729The slog to the second summit. Was a bear.

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EuroProAF form.

I have to give a shout out to our coach @mathenyendurance, over the last 6 months, he’s been great in getting us as prepared as possible. Some things you can’t prepare for though, like not having brake pads after 4 days of choke-holding the brakes when flying in from 12k’.

I discovered early this morning as we hit the start line that my pads were shot. We were about to roll and the event mechanic was like, “you’ve got half a mm or so”, followed by, “I wouldn’t do today’s descent on those”…

Daniel saved my ride. There were not Shimano pads to be found. Of course, I did bring some, but they were in my toolbox back at the house, 1/4 mile away.

Daniel was running sweeper today, so he offered to goto the house and grab the pads, and then ride-up Wheeler and try to catch me before the descent.

And then he did.

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He caught me just as I was changing shoes and getting ready to drop down Wheeler to CO trail. He swapped my pads and bled my brakes in like 3 minutes, gave me some tips on the descent, a bonk-breaker, and off he went, back to sweeping.

Amazing.

I think the dude is probably one of the nicest human beings I have ever met, and an amazing athlete, coach, and Father.

If you need a coach- click thru and check him out. 

But enough about that spider monkey, I’ve got to get to bed!

The hike-a-bike went on for nearly FIVE HOURS.

I ran out of water before the final summit.

Badlands trail. Super rocky.

The darkness started creeping in.

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Third pass. Mile 10. Time to head down.

Except for one tiny problem.

We’re not pro mountain bikers. The drop in and first few miles were SKETCH AF.

I crashed balls within 3 minutes.

We walked with our bikes some more.

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The total dive in was a little over 6 miles. Super steep, blown out and dry. We were able to ride a mile or two closer to the bottom.

Then unknowingly, we missed our 2nd aid station at mile 19.

We ended up riding thru a section of the course and ended-up adding a little of our own.

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^^^this is not the course you are supposed to be riding on.

We rolled into the finish just a hair under 7 hours. Dehydrated, hungry, sore everything.

We explained to the officials what had happened. We followed the arrows and at a fork in the trail there were multiple markings. We followed the ribbons.

I guzzled two bottles of water. We offered to go back out, just don’t take us out of the buckle. We are so gawdamn close.

Their response was surprising. We would not be going back out. We had met the expectation for stage 5.

The emotions came out.

I had a beer.

One more day, Ya’ll. Pray for us.

Nite

#BreckEpic18 #DonateLife #BeTheGift #TeamTransplant#TeamSweetPigQueenofthePotRoasts #HattieBsRacing #LittleHarpethBrewing #MathenyEndurance #1000wordcount

edit: you can view today’s stage over Wheeler’s pass here

 

 

#BreckEpic Day 4. Dark Place, 80424


But you gotta hike your bike first.

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Following stage 3, we were in a bad place. I had one beer, and did not finish it last night, that kind of bad.

We were sore. Pushing your bike for 3-4 hours will do that. Riding a mtb for 3 days in a row has a similar effect. Folks are tired. Our bodies are starting to feel beat down. The mental challenge has begun, “why are we doing this?”, followed by “how are we going to do three more days of this?”. 

Thankfully, we slept okay. Some with ear plugs, some with ambien. Some, with both.

6am this morning, folks were guzzling coffee and busy making preparations for another 40 mile 6500 day.  A silver lining, would be that we would stay below 11k for the better part of the day.

8:30 am. Our little group from Nashville set-off on their respective #BreckEpic day 4 start.

The standard in Breckinridge is that if you’re going to ride bikes, you get a 60 second warm-up before the climbing begins. Mass start. Up a paved road for a mile or so. Surprisingly Jena was not in launch mode (yet).

We hit the first stretch of double track at mile 2 or so, a Strava segment titled pavement to Glen’s house says this little bugger averaged 16% for .6 miles.

Crammed in like a sardine, surrounded by everyone from the back of the start line, we crawled upwards for the next 4 miles or so. Jena was gone.

I was not hiking my bike.

A moral victory.

The next 5 miles were pretty enjoyable. Sweet single track, some modest climbs. We made the first aid station, mile 10, in an hour an change.

We ate some waffles and took some water. A quick note to share. We’re riding our mountain bikes in great open spaces around Breckinridge. In some cases, at the highest elevation. Every day, we’ve been blessed with amazing people who volunteer their time to make that as each of us arrives at each aid station, that we have our drop bags, food, and hydration. The volunteers have been amazing this week, a standard for all events to follow.

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We set off with lighter spirits, Jena making a remark that I was “climbing well, must of brought my rally legs”….we all know that’s a load of baloney, but, I smiled knowing that I had only hiked my bike for a moment today.

That would change.

The next 10 miles were similar to the first 10, some fun single track, some fun descents and one awful climb.

Following a really fun descent, that bombed down into what appeared to spit us out of the woods, there were course arrows pointing to the right and volunteers shouting “hard right hander, off-camber climb.”

Vomit Hill.

A goat path of a road. No, that’s not fair to the goats. This was actually a water runoff I think.

Strava says it’s called King Fisher Lane, a not so friendly, 1.3 mile climb at 12%.

The photo at the top of this entry, shows Jena, hiking her bike up Vomit Hill.

We hiked for 30 minutes or so.

Then another sweet ride down into the ranch aqueduct, the flattest 2 miles of single track that we have ridden this week, likely in all of Breckenridge.

It was at this point that Jena tried to ride me off her wheel here.

Tempo she said.

Moving on (read: I need to get to sleep).

Throughout this week, we’ve been surrounded by crazy like-minded people, out here suffering on their mountain bikes. A common theme among the suffering, regardless of where a person is from, or what type of fitness they may have, there is one common place the folks talk about avoiding.

The dark place.

Climbs. Bonks. Descents. Mechanicals. Sore legs and tired fannies. The aggregate of riding in the mountains for 6 days, at elevation.

I’ve heard stories of surgeries, work responsibilities, travel and sickness.

Trying to do something as ridiculous as a 6-day mountain bike race, with various challenges, will, at some point, take you right into this dark place.

Everyone has one. No one wants to go there.

Positive words are bandied around each day, “look up at the beauty“, “you’re not in the office” and my favorite “shitballs”

Well, okay, that last one might be mine, but it seems to bring a smile when I see someone with the pain face as we start to hike bikes up another ridiculous climb.

The spirit of this race is pretty cool. People offering good vibes to bring a person back.

There was a lot more climbing today, the last beast was an exposed 7 miler that dumped into some more single track. Then a ride across a saddle of the mountain, some more sucky climbs, and then the drop in home.Talladega Burms. Those were memorable on the dive back into town.

We’ve a big day tomorrow.

The Queen stage. Wheeler Pass. We’ll ride our bikes push our bikes for 3 hours, up over 12k’.

Time Trial start tomorrow.

8:21 Sugarbear & WonderWoman

8:26 Megatron, 2.1, Tankass & SWG.

My money’s on Jena.

From dark places, there will come light.

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And yes, looking up does help.

Thanks for reading. Nite folks.

#BreckEpic18 #DonateLife #BeTheGift #TeamTransplant#TeamSweetPigQueenofthePotRoasts #HattieBsRacing #LittleHarpethBrewing #MathenyEndurance #863wordcount <<<yikes. Sorry!

 

 

#BreckEpic Day3, The Death March.


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Breck Epic stage 3 took us up over the continental divide, twice, today.

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We found out the hard way. The elevator was broken.

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So we walked our bikes.

A lot.

40 miles and 6600′ of climbing. I’d wager that more than half was spent in hike-a-bike mode.

Going up over 12k’ was pretty special. Doing it twice in one ride, was kind of mean.

We pushed our bikes today.

A lot.

From the parking lot, we managed a reasonable pace. We did the first 5.5 mile climb in an hour. I was only partially anaerobic trying to hold Jena’s wheel, as we entered the first section of rocky  doubletrack.

I only walked for a few minutes on this stretch, and considered this a major victory.

Then we hit the base of the French Pass trail, or what will be referred to from here on in our inner circles, as the trail that destroyed Ben’s shoes.

base of clmb

The French Pass trail gains ~2500′ in a little over 2 miles.  Look at the photo above. That behemoth is what we rode our bikes into. Well, we were riding at the base.

Co tinental divide pass

It gets steep, quickly. Too steep to ride. Not much oxygen to breathe. The trail is more like a rut with grass high walls. Nearly impossible to ride for us mere dirt mortals.

We spent the next 1:25 crawling with our bikes up to the summit. Our strategy became to take 15 steps pushing the bike. Then take 15 seconds to recover. Then repeat.

The reward was worth it though, as we scrambled to get a rain jacket on before the plunge back down.

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The dive down from the French Pass summit was one of those descents that is equally invigorating and terrifying. Sorry, no pics, but a good case of jelly arms from the rattle of the rough drop in.

Michigan Creek road to Colorado Trail. Another beautiful summit, preceded by a God awful 5 miles double track climb. Yes, there was more hike-a-bike here.

Which brings me back to the mention of Ben’s shoes…

IMG_2584Evidently, the mountain was too much of a burden for his shoes to bear. The sole separated from the shoe on the hike up thru the French Pass, or, it might have been the hiking up to the Colorado Trail….it might have been the hiking at the start of the ride.

Too be honest, we’re not sure when, but it was clear that his little piggies were ready to break out. Fortunately someone at the aid station had some duct tape, and violà, instant shoe repair.

Back in action.

We summited the Georgia Pass, 11,598′.

The reward for climbing over Georgia Pass, the 4 mile descent. Pretty sweet. Thankfully the ground was okay after Ben assaulted it after hooking a small pine.

Unfortunately his other shoe could not say the same.

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Look at those glorious dancing shoes. I mean, you can’t make this up. The sole from the other shoe came part.  Thankfully there were some hikers at the bottom of the Georgia Pass descent that had, yup, you guessed it, some more duct tape (black this time, matchy matchy).

It’s getting late here, so I’m going to fast forward thru the rest of the awesome suffering.

more climbs,

more hike-a-bike,

some sweet exposed single track.

and what seemed like the longest 2 mile finishing stretch.

We survived day 3, barely.

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Sidenote: two of our friends are wrapping-up their BreckEpic 3-day race today. Jena and I were glad to spend a little time with both Eric and Ben this week. We’ll miss you guys these last three stages.

BreckEpic Stage 4 is on tap in less than 12 hours. Aqueduct.

Pray for us.

Nite.

 

 

ps – check out this video recap of day 3! 

#BreckEpic18 #DonateLife #BeTheGift #TeamTransplant#TeamSweetPigQueenofthePotRoasts #HattieBsRacing #LittleHarpethBrewing #MathenyEndurance #613wordcount

 

#BreckEpic Day 2. Everybody suffers.


“Behind every thing beautiful, there is some kind of pain”, Bob Dylan. 

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‘Ol Bob probably never thought his lyrics would crossover to mountain biking. Definitely applies here.

Breck Day#2. Ride Report.

Breakfast with the crew. We rolled out for our 8:30am start. The Sun was out. We were smiling and anxious for the day’s ride.

That would all change pretty quickly.

Mass start. ~600 or so mountain bikers starting at the same time, uphill. At least the road was paved road for the first mile or so. Some folks were in launch mode from the go. We were anxious but we were chatting. Spirits were good.

I made it onto the opening stretch of single track. A section of double track that was tight given there were lots of folks packed-in.

I bumped wheels with a fellow and had to put a foot down. Bums.

I made it 1.25 miles and then had to walk. Sounds about right. There were so many people on the trail, it was not possible to do anything other than smile and cheer folks on as they rode up this relatively easy section. Probably for the best now that I thing back.

Then the real climbs came.

BreckEpic Day2 Heinhous hill

The above photo was taken at mile 2 or 3, after climbing from the start. Gold Run Gulch road is the official name of this stretch of road, just under mile, averages 16%.

More climbs.

Sawmill Road followed the gulch at around mile 5. The locals also call this section Heinous Hill.  Yeah, that seems about right. I’m certain I was using some special language of my own to describe this one.

I walked a good bit of that one. We took a hike-a-bike selfie with a Pam, a teacher from Chicago.

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Lots of hike-a-bike.

We made lots of friends today. That’s the spirit of BreckEpic.

Mile 5.5 to 10ish, we finally got some descending in.

Kind of fuzzy for awhile. We road thru an area called Galena Ditch, which was a really narrow section of singletrack that (if I remember correctly) was part of a reservoir.

An aid station at mile 13. SNACKS. The volunteers were amazing.

A little more climbing, up out of the basin then at mile 15 (or so) that dropped into another section of twisty fun single track. Everyone was smiling again. There was a section of shutes, evidently where an old mine water runoff was, that was too good to not stop and ride again. Emily Magli was commandeered to take this cheeseball photo

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Then the climb of the day, Colorado Trail climb. 2 miles at 10%. Oof. The entire climb was  nearly 4miles and averaged 5%. The climb topped out at around 11,200′.

That one hurt.

Jena was on fire. She climbed like she had wings on her shoulders. Fatass here, took his sweet ass time, talking to basically anyone that was on the trail.

The Summit provided views that were amazing. It was a little chilly. We put our wind vests on, took one photo, and then off we went, 7 mile descent on-tap!

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Moving this along. Aid station at mile 30 provided much needed food & water. We had been on the bikes for ~6 hours and were getting precariously close to missing our time cutoff.

*sidenote: finishers of the 6-day BreckEpic get a sweet belt buckle, this is our goal. Somehow finish, even if we have to crawl to day 6

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You can see the motivation now. #BMF.

Jena and I decided to pick it up a notch, roll mode (LOL) for the last 10 miles.

About those last 10 miles…they hurt. More than half was climbing. Every time we thought we were done climbing, yes, more climbing.

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We kept it together, and finished, just a hair under 8 hours. I have to give Jena credit, she managed to tow my ass in over those last 10 miles in a little over an hour. Surprisingly, we averaged close to 7.5mph for the remaining 8.5 miles or so.

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Belt Buckle preserved.

We hustled back from the finish. Got a 12min creek dip in, during which time I ordered take out from a local mex joint. All the tacos, nachos, and quesadillas. We want them all.

Breck Epic Stage 3 is in 12 hours. Mt. Guyot. We go over the continental divide twice, 40+ miles with 5500′ of elevation gain.

Thanks for reading. Send us good vibes, we’ll need them.

Time for sleep.

#BreckEpic18 #DonateLife #BeTheGift #TeamTransplant#TeamSweetPigQueenofthePotRoasts #HattieBsRacing #LittleHarpethBrewing #MathenyEndurance #716wordcount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BreckEpic Day 1. Legs gently weep.


Well, that was pretty amazing, and equally hard.

The cliff notes. Foul weather rolled in early morning, 2am. Sounded like the Gods were angry.

6:30am our crew was drinking coffee and listening to it rain. The weather said it was 46 but felt like 38. Our group busied themselves adding extra dry socks and kit into the aid bags that would be available at mile 11 and 25.

Then, Mother Nature relented. The 50mi system, would blow thru by ~9:00am. The community of Breckenridge cherishes their trail system and they made the right decision, to delay the start by 2 hours and in doing so, cut the route in half. *note: this was a monumental decision by the community to do what would be best for everyone, most importantly, to protect the trails.

We didn’t mind.

I had some more bacon.

The new route was now 17miles, rollout was at 10am, sharp. Sweet! LOL

Our group made it to the start line coral and lined-up waiting for our wave call-up. The Pros went out. Jeremiah Bishop looked amped at the front (not a spoiler: he won).

The Sun came out. We took one last photo of today’s group before the duo-co-ed and 50/50 groups went off.

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{A quick side note. Jena and I have been blessed with some amazing friends. We’re fortunate to share our adventures in this crazy life, with this tribe. This week we’re surrounded by close friends and their families who we love very much….and there’s not question we’ll lean on each other as the week’s miles and elevation add up and weigh on  our spirits. }

Back to the race start. And then we were off….

And now, for the #BreckEpic Day 1 race report, which kind of goes like this:

Ow. {cuss words}

:Elevation punched ‘ol Tank Ass in the Soul. Otherwise, I Survived, and more importantly, Jena did great (and we’re still talking). 

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The above photo was my view for the day. Jena was flying up the single track ramps, which in many places were in the high teens for incline. Meanwhile, yours truly felt like he was breathing thru a wet sock and sounded like I had smoked a carton of Newports before today’s ride.

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I’m fairly certain my HR was >170 for the first 90minutes, then my HR strap started acting wonky and just stopped….that or the ticker just quit, which wouldn’t surprise me.

Jena rode masterfully up all the “grunty” single track. She made it look like it was easy. Tank Ass here rode the struggle bus and eventually did some hike-a-bike to try and keep my heart from exploding.

We made the aid station at mile 14. I realized I hadn’t eaten. That probably didn’t help.

I ate some waffles and took some fluids. Then I ate a few more, just for good measure, and off we went.

I felt  human again and we hit the final descent of the day. Jena was kind and let me take the lead. 3 miles from the finish, with a nice twisty stretch of glorious single track and gravel road to finish.

Afterwards, our crew met up at the city center, to soak our tired legs in the creek and enjoy a beer.

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We survived day one, an abbreviated version of day one at that. Tomorrow will be quite a bit harder. We hit the Colorado Trail with 42 miles and 6500′ of climbing.

But for now, sleep.

#BreckEpic18 #DonateLife #BeTheGift #TeamTransplant#TeamSweetPigQueenofthePotRoasts #HattieBsRacing #LittleHarpethBrewing #MathenyEndurance #571wordcount

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve done some dumb stuff in my life


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No question, when it comes to adventuring & outdoor activities…usually involving the bike almost always some like-minded equally questionable friends, mmmhmmm I am def not the brightest bulb.

Notable foolishness on my bike

  • Riding in Maui, up a volcano Haleakala, sea level to >11k’, on a bike
  • Riding a 130 mile ride around said volcano with my equally crazy friend Eric
  • Coming home and riding the 11 mi loop thru Nashville’s Percy Warner Park, nine times, gaining over 1k’ elevation gain, per lap. This level of silliness would provide an elevation gain of 10k’ (and also >100mi) and is what I lovingly refer to as the Hillbilly Haleaka

Yep, that kind of DUMB.

In fairness, my knack for finding fringe adventure has not been limited to the bike, and on occasion has spilled into trail running i.e. the Hushpuppy 50k, OW….or that time we went back to Maui, and spontaneously ran, trotted, crawled, half a marathon inside that stupid volcano, at 11k’, forever known as, the Crater Run.Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.29.18 PM

My most recent moment of brilliance, however, involves an evening during the 2017 holidays with some friends, especially fine añejo (fancy tequilas) Christmas margaritas. The result: registering for the 6-day mountain bike stage race known as The BreckEpic .

This youtube video below accurately depicts how screwed I really am: 2018 Breck Epic – https://youtu.be/VGTUSjggGBM

The details:
Aug. 5th – 10th, in Breckenridge, CO, my better half (Jena) & I, along with the biggest collection of smack-talking, bike-riding, beer drinking best friends a dude could ever ask for, together, we will be competing surviving in a week-long mountain bike event known as the Breck-Epic (commonly referred to as the “breck”). The Breck, is a grueling 6-day mountain bike stage race that tests the body and spirit, as participants ride up & over the surrounding Breckenridge mountain passes, for 6 consecutive days. Did I mention that we’re at 9500′ and will be riding up over 12 each day?
Good Lord this is gonna hurt. 
Well, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve no doubt concluded that I’m adventurous and also dumb as a rock. However, it did occur to me that maybe I can do something good, something meaningful with this adventure.  
I traded some messages with an old friend and cyclist from Nashville, Marsha Williams who works with the Tennessee Donor Services group. I asked her if it would be okay to guest ride on behalf of Tennessee Donor Services and try to help raise awareness for the work they do, and in some small way, support Tennessee Team Transplant as they begin a week full of multi-sport events in Salt Lake City this week. If you’re not familiar with the transplant games, you can check them out here .

The Donate Life Transplant Games is a multi-sport festival event produced by the Transplant Life Foundation for individuals who have undergone life-saving transplant surgeries. Competition events are open to living donors, organ transplant recipients, bone marrow, corneal and tissue transplant recipients. More than an athletic event, the Donate Life Transplant Games highlight the critical importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation, while celebrating the lives of organ donors and recipients. 
Marsha was also kind enough to introduce me to a new social media campaign that Tennessee Donor Services has just launched,  it’s called #BeTheGift and you can check it out here. 
Back to tomorrow, right.
My 6-day torture session begins tomorrow. BreckEpic Stage One. 33 miles of grueling single track “grunty” climbs with over 5k’ of elevation gain. Oof.
9686′ unto 11,273′
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Okay, tomorrow’s a big day and I should try to sleep. I’ll try to post a stage one recap tomorrow evening.
One last thought as I sign off, one of my favorites:

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”, Jack Kerouac

#BreckEpic18 #DonateLife #BeTheGift #TeamTransplant #TeamSweetPigQueenofthePotRoasts #HattieBsRacing #LittleHarpethBrewing #641wordcount

 

Hillbilly Haleakala


Haleakala (Hahl-E-ock-Ala).

Haleakala is a volcano on the island of Maui. I’ve had the fortune of riding this beast twice. The volcano ride as some call it, is a pretty special climb. Starting at sea level you dip your toes in the warm waters of the Pacific  then up you go, ascending above the clouds and beyond 10’k in 36 miles. Amazing views of the island turn into even more amazing views of the surrounding ocean. Haleakala is also the World’s Longest Paved Climb, and there’s this really cool race- Cycle to the Sun .
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   July 2012 was the first time I was able to do this ride. Not fully understanding what I was doing, I just settled in and enjoyed the ride, taking in views, snapping photos etc, that was a really long day in the saddle.
July 2013 was my second trip to the island of Maui, and I made a point to train a little leading into the visit; this fat kid had a goal of sub-5hr (WTH was I thinking).  Fortunately on that Sunny day in Maui, the weather was great and I was able to ride with arm warmers only (and a LS jacket stuffed neatly away for good measure). The temps were almost too warm and eventually it did get HOT (conversely in July’12 I nearly froze going up to 10’k, go figure) . I rode on thru the heat & eventually Mr. cramps (hamstring) caught-up with me at 7k’.
Oh that sucked.
I nearly wreck the bike as my right hammy grabbed. Normally cramps on this kind of a ride would have ended my day, but I was able to get a good long stretch in and sucked down the last of bottle #4 (another challenge is finding water up there). A brief moment of tourettes and miraculously the hammy loosened  just enough to get back to motoring(?). What’s even more befuddling is that I finished my ascent in just under 5 hours, beating my initial time in ’12 by >20m and reaching my sub 5hr goal.
*Please note. Anytime I can drag all this fupa up a volcano and finish a 36mi/10k’ climb in under 5 hours, yes, we call that motoring.
The nuts:
Haleakala is a 36 mile climb w/10k’ elevation gain, and some really amazing views (this blog’s profile photo is from atop the volcano).
Getting on with this. Aug. 2012.
A month of so after returning from paradise I found myself craving a long climb like the volcano somewhere around Nashville. First of all there are very few climbs on the planet that long, and secondly, you know when the fat kid starts yearning for long climbs there’s something’s wrong with the universe; people gonna be munching on heads moaning BRAIIIINS.
  There  aren’t many, are no, long climbs around Nashville, so I was gonna have to get creative if I wanted to try and duplicate an effort like Haleakala in Tennessee. The smokies have some great climbs, notably the 20 miler to Clingman’s Dome from Sugarland’s visitor center, which takes you up to 5500′ feet. That’s one that I love to do a good one for sure. The shorter version to Newfound Gap is a bit less at 13 miles and one of the most beautiful climbs I’ve ever done.  I love the twists and turns and mountain views from the NFG climb but damn the Smokies are a  major hassle with tourism; traffic make it near impossible to ride, unless it’s in the dead of Winter.
Other riding  options were to goto Sewanee or Chattanooga, not bad I suppose, but the idea of doing a huge effort and then climbing in the car afterwards for a 2-3 hr drive home sounded worse than the climb.  All arrows pointed to somehow duplicating my own volcano ride right here in Middle Tennessee.
Enter Percy Warner Park (PWP) – August 2012 Percy Warner Park is a wonderful endowment left to the city of Nashville by the Warners. Named after one of Nashville’s earliest pioneers, Percy Warner  was  a successful utilities and railroad man form the early 20th century.
I actually live very close to PWP, it’s a beautiful park with a paved road that winds and twists it’s way over 2 climbs and 11 miles.  Both climbs are around a mile or less and moderately steep. The first climb at mile 3, a half mile climb that averages 6%, and the 2nd climb which is 6/10 of a mile also averaging 6%. Those are the two significant climbs if you will, there are a number of bumps scattered throughout that add to the bottom line and this is what you a cyclist ends up with:  1 lap thru the park is 11mi & gains right at 1200′ in elevation gain.
EUREKA! 9-laps = my own volcano ride!
Even better, the double double, a century AND 10’k feet of climbing, on the same ride!
So there you have it. The rest came naturally after only 7-8 beers,  and that’s how Hillbilly Haleakala was born.
1st Hillbilly Haleakala, August 2012.
Fortunately there’s plenty of scenery in a 11 mile park, with lots of natural areas that as an avid local cyclist I probably never notice on a quick lap thru. In August there’s also a high amount of activity in the Summer months (read:half necked runners). A fella gets bored riding for that long you know..
I learned a lot about myself that hot August day. Physically I was good, I had tons of miles in my legs that year, and having ridden Haleakala just weeks earlier, some solid foundation to start with. Mentally I was okay as I listened to a ton of podcasts on various topics,  there was also the occasional friendly cyclist that popped on for a lap or so; just enough stimulation to make it thru a 9 hour day in the saddle(WTF is wrong with me?!).  
Staying hydrated was a challenge due to the heat and humidity but fortunately there is a water fountain at the entrance of the park, so each lap I was able to refill my bottles. I must have guzzled 10 bottles that day!
Following the ride,  I had just enough left in the tank to noodle home from the park (another 5 miles).  A cold beer never tasted so good, followed by a lot of food, and then some more beer, then quickly followed by my own induced coma.
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*first Hillbilly Haleakala
Fast forward to Dec. ’13
I’ve been climbing a bit more this Winter.  An impromptu run up to Newfound Gap  (Smoky Mts park) with the old goat last Dec.,  the rare Dec. day with temps in the high 50’s that made this possible and we weren’t going to miss this golden opportunity to ride in the smokes!  the old goat, hmmm…I should pause here for a moment and provide a quick explanation.  Childishly, I tend to annoint my closest asstard friends with some goofy nickname. These names are generally off color, inappropriate, and most times pretty close to home. For the sake of confidentiality however,  I’ll never out them or connect them to this nickname, my immature and childish moniker for them.  Some of ya’ll may know these personalities, many of you probably don’t. Simply goofball guy stuff that adds to the allure of my sad pathetic stories I suppose, at the very least it does keep me entertained.
Okay there’s that explanation,right, back to the story.
  The old goat. Dude is an old billy goat climbing sunova gun that I love to ride with. He goes by many names,  Mapquest being another one that some of us often will call him (cause he used to always want to look at the map).  Actually, it’s not uncommon for me to call him two or three different names on the same ride(not all of them out of affection I promise you). Moving on , the old goat and I loaded up the car and hauled it to the smokes early one morning for a great day of climbing.  We really had it rolling that day as we steamed up to Newfound Gap.  Point of reference. I’m a fat kid. The goat is not. I’ve done this climb many many times and normally he just floats away on the early and steepish ramps to NFG. However,  on this particularly balmy Dec. morning, this was the first time I was able to hold the wheel of the wiry codger as we hit the early slopes at a pretty good clip. *It’s highly possible that he was just entertaining hisself that day by letting me hang around…sometimes I think he does this to amuse himself…likes to watch me suffer on the longer climbs, then when he gets bored he’ll just flick out out of the saddle and float off like a feather in the wind, fella really is a pigfucker great climber.
Sadly the weather that day turned south of cheese in a hurry as Mother Nature decided to take a giant crap on us halfway-up the climb. To this day I am convinced that’s the only way I was able to set a new PR on the climb to NFG that day.
More December climbing
Spent the holidays in Vegas. There’s actually a fair amount of climbing in North Vegas, which I’ve never done before. New roads new climbs. One really long one in particular, in what is likely the worst climb I’ve ever done, the run-up to the Mt. Charleston ski lodge or, Satan’s glory hole.
Good grief that was an awful day on the bike. One long straight road for 13 miles, a steady 4% without a single turn, awful chip seal pavement and no shoulder, then you turn.  Continue for another 13 miles at a steady 4% with you guessed it, no turns.  If this could possibly be any more fun, there’s absolutely no shoulder AND on this, the day of our Lord, 25th of December the year 2013, there was a seemingly  never-ending metric ass-ton of traffic. Turns out the Vegas locals were stoked to get up there and try out their new Christmas presents (skis/snowboards) on Mt. Charleston’s heavy powder, which in total,  equalled right at 1/4″ of snow, remnants. Seriously. I’d upload a photo but you’d be like “snow?”, right.
God that day sucked.
That aside(?), it was great to get out on Christmas morning and ride, something I never get to do. So I finished right at 4 hours, by noon, quickly showered and then proceeded spend the day eating and singing Christmas carols with the family, and happily drinking all my sister’s ipa’s.
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*world’s most awful climb, Mt. Charleston
Jan 2014. Happy New Year!
Most recently was a  jaunt up some of the longer climbs near Suwanee, with Lizardo and Ace. Not much to report here except that it’s more climbing, local ‘ish, a short 1hr drive.  Sunny but very cold that day, I blew up not once, but twice, I guess because somehow I thought I was a “climber” . Thankfully it wasn’t a long day the bike, and it was a nice escape from the routine of Nashville riding. Sadly the long anaerobic efforts(dumb) in the cold probably just enough or  the tipping point if you will, and two days later I was down with the ebola, or a really bad head cold, at the time I wasn’t sure there was a difference. I spent the next 8 days snarfing sudafed like skittles and snotted more than that big bug in those famous alien movies  #yuck
Saturday, Jan. 18th. Hillbilly Haleakala 2.0 
New year brought in new hopes and dreams & lots of resolutions, most of which are likely to fold under by Feb 1st.
My top 3 resolutions: (1). Stop cursing (2). Create/stick to a budget, (3)Buy a house
Update: I’m currently on a budget and serious about house shopping (pre-approved/working w/agent).  It’s that 3rd resolution that’s giving me fits…that’s a work in progress and old habits die hard I realize this now.I’ve progressed and have had a good run of days…substituting less colorful words as fudge, crap, shoot, and my personal favorite, ratfart.  Sadly there’s some event that triggers my tourettes, usually involves 2 buttsniffing cats, and usually results in really bad fucking days. Working on that. Please take my cats.
Moving on.
Having more fun on the bike is also an ongoing resolution. Work/life balance and training to race bikes can leave a fella somewhat drained at times.  The Winter months, or offseason, give some of us the opportunity to (a)drink lots of beer and act like a fairly normal human being (b) drinks lots of scotch and act like a fairly normal human being and (c)gain 20 lbs of blubber or fupa insulate. Sometimes it’s good to try different things, mountain biking for example, great way to have fun on the bike with friends and drink beer LOL.
 Sometime earlier this month (Jan.), I was stewing over the polar vortex (1.0)  and having a beer with Ace & Gary, or The Ambiguously Gay Duo – who the hell wants to ride in this crap weather for 3 -4 hours, cold, wet, windy, ugh. I am no Belgian Hardman I say.  *Gary  invokes the Hillbilly Haleakala ride. and honestly we couldn’t think of a better time to do this ride; great base miles at an endurance pace, lots of climbing, protected from the elements and wind inside the safe confines of the wooded park, PERFECT!
Friday, Jan. 17th. Planning the ride.
(*if you made it this far you obviously lead a very boring life, but we’re  nearly done)
 A few concerns:
Ice
The forecast for the morning of  Sat. Jan. 18th was awful; 9am would be a balmy 20 degrees, and in the shaded areas of the park, it might be half that.  A legitimate concern for any ice, the result of any run-off from the week’s warmer temps… did that dry up? or would there be ice on some of the park’s corners (read: descents)?
probability of ice/crash/broken hip/freeze to death: 20%
Endurance.
Time in saddle. This concern was also voiced by my coach, as we both mulled over the implications of an 8+ hour ride. For the last three months, my longest ride was like 55 miles or so, maybe 4 hours. He wasn’t thrilled, especially since I was only a week or so off the ebola. Concerned (secretly I was also mildly concerned, but way too dumb to listen to reason).
Took some work on my part to get buy-in with the coach, but I promised to quit if I was super cold/wet and then I thru in some additional resolutions for good measure.
probability of failing resolutions to coach: 97%
probability of developing heinous saddle sore:110%
Experience
Doing a couple of 10k’ ride does help to understand what physical and mental challenges a person’s gonna face. I’ve done a fair # of really long climbs, some recently, all of which helps, but nothing over 4 hours in the last 3 months hurst. My coach and I discussed the limiters (60% LT goal/NP) and how important nutrition/hydration would be (more on that in a moment).
probability of having the endurance given the training  ok, have to be honest here, I haven’t been training specifically for a 100 mile 10k’ ride. No one in their right mind does this unless their going to ride up the real volcano.
Probability of endurance to complete: ? At the time and given the cold I gave myself 70% chance.
Probability of intestinal fortitude to achieve last 30%: 100%. That’s what I was banking on. Get me to lap 7 or 8 and I was relatively certain I would finish, even if I had to crawl.
My biggest concern. The cold. 
I hate the cold. Hate it hate it hate it. Tennessee can have some awful miserable cold days in the Winter, and Saturday looked like a doozy. The challenge here was to dress warm enough to keep from freezing but not too warm as to start sweating on some of park climbs. There aren’t any long descents within the park, there’s not much sunshine either and a sweat soaked base layer can feel like an ice vest on a quick descent…and aside from making your body work harder to keep you warm, a sweaty ice base shirt can really kill any morale when you’re spending 7-8 hours in those kinds of conditions.
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Given these conditions, I chose to drive over from my house (versus a short 5 mile ride). I packed a number of cold weather clothing options, dry base layers, extra gloves and shoe covers. Since it was below 30 when I started with a blanket of clouds and a small 5mph breeze, I started with my warmest riding ensemble. LS thermal shirt, jersey, 2 shoe covers with hot hands in-between, lobster craws, and my trusty Fugujack. http://www.assos.com/en/19/singleProduct.aspx?tag=Winter_Plus&prod=141
People scoff at the price of these types of technical gear…hell, I scoff at them! However, years ago, I had found someone fatter than me that was selling this ninja outfit. I was in need of a cold weather jacket and made the decision to take dude up on his offer. $100 bucks. Like new. I thought I would never test the limits of this jacket as it’s smoking hot to wear.
Probability of freezing to death on ride: 5%
Last concern, somewhat related to the cold – Nutrition. 
How the heck was I going to consume 100-200 cal and 1/2 water bottle per lap, when it’s 30 degrees out?? Jeesh, this was gonna be tough. Giving this much consideration. I went with an old snack that I used to make for our Winter team rides some years ago, the Belgian delight; Peanut butter, banana and honey. I also packed a breakfast power sandwich from panera bread, egg white, Vermont cheddar w/smoked turkey on toasted whole wheat bread. The folks at PB were kind enough to dbl-wrap this tasty samich in aluminum foil, which I then wrapped in a hand towel and placed inside a small insulated cooler with some power bars and bananas. My hope was that the food would stay warm enough to consume during each lap.
I ate a hearty breakfast about 3 hours before the ride consisting of a large bowl of oatmeal w/bananas,strawberries, as well as a breakfast power sandwich and a large glass of milk (and two waters).
This could have been my biggest mistake.
Probability of bonking given the extremely cold conditions and skimpy breakfast: 70%
Saturday, Jan. 18th, 2014. GO TIME
9:15am
Rolled into the park for my 1st lap.
GOOD LORD it was cold, 30 degrees if I was lucky, really felt much colder as I shivered leaving the car at the entrance and began the slight incline into the dark boding mouth of the park. To be honest, that first few minutes was so extremely cold!  A dark blanket of clouds had rolled in, there wasn’t a single person in sight; eerily silent and feeling of being alone, doubt began to creep into my mind,  “would there be ice?” I wondered. “Can I eat/drink enough? Am I going to freeze?”. I bit my lower lip and turned the mental Hardman dial to level 7, thumbing my earphone wire and cranking some old school Steve Wonder http://www.last.fm/music/Stevie+Wonder/_/Living+For+The+City
Real Design/Momentum Wheel Builder Phil Martindale joined me not long after the start, popping in at DeepWell Bottoms (mile 2 or so). I followed his wheel as we both pushed the tempo a little to keep warm. Actually, looking back this confirms my initial fears, as at the time it felt like we were going out a little harder than I would have like on this the first lap, after looking down and seeing that I was big-ringing 3 mile hill, my internal “What the hell are you doing” bell gave a little jingle… after which I made a conscious decision to pull my head out of my ass and settle down; big-ringing climbs have never ever ever ever been my foray, and starting today, on lap one, was probably the dumbest thing I could do.
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*I’m sure my coach was like – you #!#%@! bonehead.
*Hey Kool-Aid joined us at the start of the 2nd lap.
This was especially nice because I got to ask him about his recent foray into the wonderful world of brewing beer. I had the chance over the holidays to get a sneak peek into his mad laboratory, his chocolate stout surprisingly hoppy and really a frothy goodness of black bubbling crude that tasted so surprisingly good. Naturally, over the course of the next 11 miles or so I asked basic questions like, “how’d you do that?” and, “do you have anymore??”,  listening intently for his invitation to return, like that golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s wonderful beer factory. I made mental notes as he methodically went over the basics of brewing beer (come over Sat), boiling barley for the sugar (come over Sun) and dropping hops and the various ways to then carbonate. Eureka. Magic ticket in hand, we agreed to reconvene in his basement for some important deep review of the umpa lumpas orange hair and quality control the product. He may also be my new beer supplier for the 2014 Keep Calm Race Cross. 
*Lizardo showed up at the tail end of the 2nd lap. 
He strategically rolled counterclockwise on the park roads and caught us just before reaching the backside of 9 mile. Going into and thru lap 4, his company definitely helped raise my spirits as we exchanged silly quotes about our favorite musician from Jackson Heights http://youtu.be/KzANAr1V82c . That random chatter had us both bursting out loud about putting the hands together for Mister Randy Watson!  lol that definitely helped laps 3 and 4!
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*hmm, still a little stronger than I would like and still very cold.
Lap 3. 
As Hey Kool-Aid, The Tapper and I rolled up for lap 3, Ace was waiting by the park entrance and looked as if he was holding back some shivers and ready to ride (read:get warm). Evidently the other half of the ambiguously Gay Duo, Gary had some difficulties disengaging from ROLLMODE and blew out his liver the night before. Turns out Ace actually rode over earlier in the morning, trying to catch us at the start, but slightly miscalculated the cold temps (read:human popsicle). Remarkably he rode home, put some warmer clothes on, heavier gloves and a balaclava, and then CAME BACK. Now that’s dedication for you. There is no doubt had I gone home for some warmer clothes, I would have stayed home. It was that cold. That’s a teammate for you. Ace rode with us for the next 4 laps or so stopping only once to snarf down some food and drop some hot hands inside his shoe covers.
Ace thinks he saw *Hushpuppy’s Subaru parked as we roll off.
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*warmed by nearly 10 degrees! settling into 60% LT groove or dangerously close to bonking?
Lap 4. 
30+ miles into the ride I felt a little ping in my gut and realized I hadn’t eaten. I wasn’t hungry per se, but nearly mistook the sensation as I reached into my back pocket for a banana. I was shocked to find a frozen power bar in its place,  “Oh you stupid bastard” I thought to myself. Lemme tell you, that bar was like a block of ice. Problematic as I took a little nibble of the frozen bar and immediately felt a sharper hunger pain. Quietly I spent the next 15 minutes of so thawing the bar in my mouth and then chewing and swallowing. I was more than a little embarrassed that I hadn’t eaten and mumbled to Toetapper that I think I set a new record for the longest time to consume a power bar. Fortunately we were not setting the world on fire and I was able to get it down -crisis averted.  I finished that lap went straight to the car and inhaled 1/2 the PB&J and took a banana with me, which was consumed shortly thereafter.  For good measure, I also forced myself to drink an entire bottle of water on lap 3.
*Pops confirms Hushpuppy vehicle adding that it has two baby seats an empty six pack of Teabagging Dragon and one large tub of cocoa butter.
Lap 5 
My favorite hill climber/riding buddy and close personal friend, *The Old Goat Farter, arrived at the start of lap 5. Little known factoid about the old goat farter, he started riding with Methuselah back in the pre-JC days, and is always full of colorful colloquialisms, such as “if frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump their ass when they jumped” or “Daddy told me 3 things. Never pass up an opportunity to pee, never trust a fart. never waste an ….“. My personal favorite was this gem he unloaded on the rider formally known as Der Kaiser, “Keep riding with me there, Fatboy, you’ll have diamonds the size of horse turds”…. I don’t know what the hell that means, but hearing with him say this makes me LOL and is worth at least  10 degrees warmth.
Point being, I was more than relieved to see my old friend at the start of lap 5. We’ve ridden thru a lot together and I figured I might actually have a chance now. 
2 important changes in the weather.
1. In some areas of the park, like the ridge after 3 mile and near Steeplechase you could feel the whip of the wind.The forecast called for strong winds with some reports upwards of 20mph. I was very thankful for the protection the park was providing given the colder temps. Rare for me to say this, but on this day, I definitely felt like the decision to climb all day was much better than a few hours out fighting Mother Nature’s bone-chilling wind.
2. The Sunball popped out and was warming up nicely on the South side of the park near the Steeplechase entrance,  so as we rolled out of the shade there was a noticeable sense of warmth for about a mile or so before the road drops back in towards 9 mile. Yes, there was also an occassional gust of wind, but just seeing the Sun had a warming effect. The day was improving.
I ate the other half of the PB&J. Drank some more water and off we went. Pops, Totapper & Ace; Hey Kool-Aid and Martindale had bugged out a lap earlier.
*Still no sign of Hushpuppy. I checked my phone. MommaHushpuppy had called and left a message, “taking kiddos to pool”. hmmm. WTH is that fat bastard?
Lap 6 
Oof. I was getting sweaty. Then cold. Legs were definitely getting tired. 5 laps in. 55 miles, 6k’ elevation gain. We ran into JoeB somewhere on the back side, he was rolling and eventually Ace chased him down. We chatted a little about Jake and then he asked if I was gonna do 20 laps next week. (I guess this is a little excessive I mumbled).
The park bumps felt like climbs now. 3 mile and 9 mile climbs felt much longer. I ate some more and became more than a little concerned when Ace asked what time it was (1:30’ish), followed by “are you still thinking of doing the whole monty? “…of course” I replied. At that moment, Pops told the story of the time I raced Roan Groan with a broken jaw, wired shut from a pretty awful crash earlier in the year (I’ll save that for some other blog entry). I winced at the memory of that stupidity. How crazy do you have to be to race ride up Roan Mt with your jaw wired shut?! Pops was obviously  doing his best to keep my spirits high as he bellowed “true hardman“….doubt no less began to creep into my mind. “Do we have enough time I wondered.”
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Rolling out of lap 6, Rippypoo rolled up in his swanky new SUV. What a great team-mate. He of the new baby couldn’t get away to ride but but he wanted to help out, ’cause he’s a good guy that way., and so he brought some food and drinks. I was stoked!
Water, Gatorade” he yelled from his car.
I smiled and rode up to his car – “aw thanks!” happily taking a bottle of green Gatorade, which I immediately noticed, was chock full of ice cubes. LOL
I peered inside his sultry new ride and eyed a Starbucks coffee cup as I politely handed his ice bottle back to him “oooooooooh, can I have a sip of your coffee”  of course *Rippypoo says “sorry man, I just finished that” :/
*Poohster also confirms *Hushpuppy sighting. I would spend the next 3 laps peering into the woods for the sasquatch otherwise known as Hushpuppy.
Wolfed down the Breakfast power sandwich, thanked Ripstah for the bottle, and off we rode.
Lap 7. 
I was pleased to make it to #7. Optimistically, I felt like I could will myself to the finish now. Only 3 more laps! I was aware of the time. 2:00pm. 3 laps. I would have to hold my 55m lap times to get in by 5pm (Sunset was 4:59). Dang.
There was a nice tail wind on the back side of the park and Pops was doing his best to pace me on the climbs and the flats. Ace popped out at Steeplechase. I was bummed to see him go,  he had been a champ braving the elements for most of the day. We agreed to have a beer later.
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Total stop time between lap 7 and 8 was less than 2 minutes.
*Hushpuppy vehicle is now gone. Saddened and bewildered we crack on.
Lap 8. 
Whatever optimism I enjoyed during lap 7 evaporated faster than Captain Poopypants can kill a silo of Natty Light. *for the record, that’s really fast.
8400′ elevation gain and 77 miles in and I was hurting. Bad.
We had less than two hours. I finished off my 5th water bottle and wolfed down another banana. Pops called home to the Mothership to give notice that he was almost done; 2 more laps and then I would drive him home. He made a brief mention of the time and noted the setting sun as we rode on,  I barked back, “you better go home now, I don’t want you getting into trouble”. This remark brought out a loud bellow of a laugh as my faithful friend said something like “crack on then by God you crazy SOB“…or something of that nature…honestly, I’m not sure what he said as I put my head down and tried to ignore the pain in my hamstrings and hip flexors.
*I nearly cried on 3 mile forcing myself to say, only 1 more time.
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*fastest lap since lap 2.
Now I’m not gonna lie about this. 1/2 way thru lap 8 the sun was going down, fast. I wasn’t sure there would be enough light to penetrate the wooded park. I began going over different options all of them ridiculous. (1)Pops could follow me in my car on the last lap. (2) I could walk. We were so close.
Pops put his head down and put in some solid efforts and as we reached 9 mile and my pace slowed to a crawl. I looked over and saw a snail go trucking by…okay, not really, but I’m pretty sure I was going about as slow as I ever had. We began to revisit my calculations. 1 lap= 11 miles and approximately 1200′ elevation gain. It was just after 4pm and we still had 1 last lap. Sunset at 5pm, but it felt like it was only moments away. Earlier in the day Lizardo had cut out at the top of 3 mile,  which for those of you not familiar with the park is the first really long climb at mile 3; 9 mile is the only other really long climb with a number of punchy rollers in between (sorry, I guess I should have described some elements of the park). Anyways, cutting over at 3 mile drops you in immediately after the 9 mile climb, basically a short cut to get out of the park quicker. The question was would we get enough elevation gain by only doing 3 mile on the last lap?
Finishing-up lap 8 I realized the debate helped make lap 8 one of the fastest laps of the day. What I didn’t realize it was the 3rd fastest lap of the day and that probably saved us. 
Lap 9. Homestretch.
At the end of lap 8, Pops busted it on ahead to stop and make a quick call to Ace, who is quickly becoming our research guru. We asked him to run some #’s on  http://ridewithgps.com/routes/new
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* a full lap
Cutting over at 3 mile might have gotten it done, but Pops was afraid we just might come up a little short, by a 100′ or so, and we definitely would not get the 100 miles. Although Pops and I both agreed the 10’k elevation gain was what we were worried about, that and getting it done in the next 40 minutes or so!
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We landed on this plan:
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We would still do 3 mile but instead of going up the longish 9 mile, we would cut out of the park at the Chickering entrance. A straight shot back down Chickering rd toward the park entrance. We decided to skip taking  a left on Page rd as it’s a dark road to begin with, and just go a little further and take Brookfield back to the head of the park.
I  limped on ahead as Lyle and Ace sorted this plan out. Lyle caught up to me and relayed the plan. Last lap. Approximately 45 minutes of twilight left. The temps were dropping and and noticed it was significantly colder as we ascended 3 mile for the 9th and last time that day. We pushed the pace as hard, and I followed as best I could, keeping a high cadence and spinning as quickly as I could  to get over what felt like an ascent up an epic Italian Alpine.
As we crested 3 mile, I dropped her into the big ring and as we began to drop into park again  we were rewarded with the most remarkable Sunset. It was so beautiful, as if the cycling Gods were smiling upon our personal sacrifice and had cleared the skies of the blanketed clouds that had been there all day. In their place, small lines of poofy white remnants and the most amazing colorful hues of red and yellow blending into wicked violets, surrounding what appeared to be a giant orange Sun ball, which was rapidly going down behind the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee.
I nearly cried that moment.
I wanted to take a photo but I knew there was no time for that, so I just stared off into the Sunset as we did our best to motor thru the Steeplechase section, big ringing the flatish section and then down into the road that leads around into the golf course sprint.
At this point I was running on pure adrenaline, and had a modest tailwind. We hit the base of the golf course sprint with a little speed and I went as hard as I could, Pops laughed out loud,  easily keeping pace with me as I left it all out there on that little bugger of a hill, hitting it hard all the way to the top.
Breathing hard and my legs felt like they were on fire I kept the modest effort going, dropping back into the big ring. As we turned out of the park and onto Chickering road I said a final goodbye to the park, looked at the 1% of Sun that was barely peaking over the horizon and yelled at Pops “Let’s get this over with!”
God I love that old codger, he put his head down and put in a solid 5 minute effort to bring us down to Brookfield road. I was dangling as we reached the turn. We busted out one last effort on Brookfield and let out a loud WHOOHOO! as we hit Belle Meade Blvd and turned the dial one last time and rolled into the park entrance.
We were done, and it was darker than a coal bucket.

Screen Shot 2014-01-19 at 6.01.56 PM Frozen, hungry, sore ass, I struggled to get Pops home and then myself. I crawled into my house, immediately wolfed down a hot turkey sandwich as I poured half a pound of epson salt into a scalding hot tub. Beer in hand I soaked for a good hour, reminiscing the day and in mild shock from the accomplishment and those that helped. RESULTS: 100.2 miles, 10410′ climbing@7:32m.   I’m happy to report no Heinous saddle sore! I used a half a tub of bag balm applying generous amounts on the chamois. I also have this great new Fizik saddle (Antares with a channel) that purchased late last year from our team bike shop sponsor RB’s Cylery in Franklin. WINNER Endurance was good, and I had friends and team mates with me throughout the cold day. Now there’s a lot that happens over the course of an 8 hour 100 mile 10k’ ride. I’m certain to have forgotten many things and possibly even someone. For this I do apologize. I do want to thank all my great teammates and friends that came out to ride in these awful conditions. I rode every lap with one or more of you,  and for that I am grateful. I’m also grateful for my #1 riding buddy, without you I certainly wouldn’t have finished this. WINNER Food was challenging given the cold. Bars were frozen. Banannas were okay. Water was slushy. Overall I managed to get it down. WINNER (barely) No ice. WINNER. Cold was very close to intolerable at 9am. Fortunately it warmed just enough, probably high 30’s to make this ride possible. Winds were never a factor. WINNER If you’ve read this far, you are hardcore and probably should start planing your own Hillbilly Haleakala!  To date this is by far the most difficult ride I have ever done. Thanks for reading! *Epilogue.  After freezing for 8 hours that cold windy Saturday, I  feel much better as I post this photo from a surgical conference I’m attending this week. Thank You for the Vitamin D, South Beach. I apologize for drinking all of your scotch. Cheers- MLP 1780864_10202477543756536_1997563034_n