2017 In Review

January 2017

The year starts with 6 dark, rainy hours. It’s warm enough that these hours are easy and distance comes with a smile. The second week of the month I am forced to travel to Oklahoma for work. I hate it and miss my bike. I come back depressed and tired to a winter storm that coats everything in ice, temperatures in the teens and twenties, it’s a struggle to ride and even to leave the couch. I rest and relax and come back with a 15 hour week spent exploring Mableton and the West Side of Atlanta. The month wraps up with fast, easy miles on my road bike and fast fast miles on my mountain bike. A well-fitting steel 29er is a great bike. I crash and scrape up my right leg but the injury is minor and doesn’t prevent any riding.

February 2017

I spend the first two weeks in shorts and a t-shirt. The weather is warm and distance continues to come easy. I’ve been taking creatine and it seems to help recovery. I’m resting and riding well and close out a seventeen hour week, my second in the previous six weeks and only my sixth ever. The month closes out with the Assault on Mt Currahee gravel grinder, I stop to render aid to a racer who crashes in front of me so my race ends there but I continue the route and have a great recreational ride.

March 2017

Racing season continues as I race Southern Cross and Payne’s Creek. I have a good time at both events and find I really enjoy mountain bike racing. Youtube videos are great skills builder for me as I watch and take notes.

April 2017

Every weekend is a race. It starts with the Skyway Epic, a caffeine fueled romp around east Alabama. The next week I go to Blankets Creek and have a hard, rough ride. It’s my first race on a new bike and I’m not quite settled in yet. The rest of the month is gravel, I finish in the money at Shake ‘n’ Brake and then suffer immensely at the Big Frog 65. This month exhausts me with all the racing and driving. I rode 44 hours, 20 of which was racing.

May 2017

I crash hard (mentally) from the prior month. I don’t really notice at the time but I need a mental rest. I barely make it to Fort Yargo but I manage to make the foggy, rain threatened drive and have a great race. Road riding feels extremely boring so I mainly stay in the woods and don’t venture very far. But I start hiking and fall back in love with the National Park behind my apartment. I end up hiking at least an hour a day for months on end. It helps keep me in shape and improve my on the bike posture.

June 2017

I roar into June with a mixed terrain 109 mile ride. I nail down my bike set-up and have a blast. The next weekend in a monster 151 mile ride that takes me all across West Georgia and East Alabama. I lose my mental focus again and tone down the rest of the month. Taking weekends off to spend time with my family and riding close to home during the week. I try some morning rides and am not really that enamored with them.

July 2017

A Garmin GPS makes it’s way into my inventory and my distance rides are re-invigorated this month – no more puzzled navigation piecing together mileage markers and road signs in the dark or getting lost due to lack of signs or poor marking. I manage three weekend centuries and then a magical Friday night ride to Dalton, GA. I climb Chillhowee Mountain twice, the gravel side and then the paved side. Next I take on Fort Mountain and find the climb wonderful – steep enough to make it challenge but flat enough to feel good the entire time.

August 2017

The Silver Comet reappears, I come back after a several month break and find riding it enjoyable and useful as a connector to longer riders and less trafficked roads, as I always have. Distance comes back and I start riding on the west side of Atlanta again as well as doing the Sope Creek/Big Creek double on my gravel bike. I ride around gathering muscadines for my mom to make pies and muffins and start experimenting with a front rack again.

September 2017

A mixed-terrain century starts this month. I map an enjoyable route and have a blast on the gravel near Cochran Mill. I am invigorated and the next day I follow it up with a 75 mile ride, the highest two day mileage I’ve done yet. I continue my routine of early, long Sunday rides exploring the West and Central parts of Atlanta. Mid-month I participate in a shorted Fools Gold 60 – I have a good ride but have not been maintaining my equipment and have issues descending with a low pressure fork and eating poorly. Still a good experience and a lot of fun. The next week I map a wonderful century near Douglasville. Riding at night for so long and far is invigorating. The month closes out with the Big Ring Challenge, I have some issues with my bike and nutrition directly before the race. I do ok but get crushed by sandbaggers, again.

October 2017

A fill moon century opens the month as I get more comfortable riding at night in new places. A headlamp makes all the difference when riding at night out in the country, I install one on my helmet and take it on every ride. I race at Allatoona and have a hard, unforgiving ride due to not maintaining my fork pressure and not eating or drinking enough. I feel better once I see the results but overall not a good ride for me. My year is capped by an amazing experience at the Standard Deluxe Dirt Road Century, I race well and finish strong and cherish the experience.

November 2017

I race Sac o’ Suds do well once again, I have peaked for gravel racing the previous two races. I’m not sure what I did (slept well, ate well and rode hard) but I have been riding strongly on gravel this fall. Otherwise distance comes easy and riding is a joy. I win gloves and a Jagwire cable kit at the Turkey shuffle, pushing and struggling up Windy Gap was fun and frustrating. I try the Sasquatch 125 but quit early. Riding with a social group was fun but I am used to a higher more aggressive pace so I peel off at the lunch stop and after struggling for a few miles into the wind I turn back and head for home.

December 2017

The Cohutta Death March is an amazing experience. Every time I ride there it changes me, the struggle and challenge crush me and force me to change to survive. I value the character building that comes from riding in the most remote area of the Southeast for 8+ hours at a time. The ride breaks me so much I cannot sleep and jolt from bed the next morning, riding hard for three hours is the only thing I can do and afterwards I crash into a deep sleep for most of the rest of the day. For the first time since January 2013 I take a full 7 days off. I hike I sleep, I read, I play videogames and have a good time in the snow. I come back to three weeks of 15 hours+ and cannot ride anything but longer rides. I have one week where I do three rides of at least 5 hours only. It’s warm and fair and amazing. I use a front rack to carry extra clothes and am equipped with lights and batteries to ride for hours after the sun sets.

 

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2016 In Review

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January 2016

January was ok, I get in a little riding and then take the second week off to go work in California with my brother. Come back and just kind of ride around for mid distance 3-4 hour rides. I don’t really go anywhere but its ok and fun. My cold weather gear is really nice for this year. Handwarmers on my shoes and in my gloves keep things toasty. The chainstay on my DX cracked sometime in 2015 but I don’t notice until the last week of the month. I have a Double Cross Disc frame just sitting there so it’s an ok swap. DCD takes a bit to dial in but eventually I like it ok.

February 2016

I’m just unmotivated and not feeling like much this month. I’ve signed up for Currahee and Southern Cross so I have events, just have that February drop that seems to happen every year. I have a good time riding a 1987 Le Tour I got on craiglist. It feels fast and carefree and reminds me of 2011/2012. Currahee goes ok but I do not like the DCD for gravel, it feels stiff and harsh. I resolve to ride my MTB for Southern Cross. Later I realize the carbon fork from the DX I was using does not work well with the frame, the DCD is awesome with the stock steel fork. I had planned a complicated schedule for Currahee so my girlfriend could pick me up and eat with me at the post-race meal. I have some mental breakdown issues and wipe everything out and just go by myself. She shows up anyway and we get to eat and have fun together afterward so it’s ok. I also took a wrong turn at Currahee due to marking issues but it’s no matter as I was way out of competition anyway.

March 2016

I do my first MTB rides since October or November of 2015 and am blown away by how fun it is. I feel nice and ready for Southern Cross. My mom takes me and explores Dahlonega while I race. She gets some awesome pictures and we have fun. I do a group ride on my 650b machine and find it invigorating but awkward as my bike does not fit in. I also find an iphone and return it after a funny phone call. I race 3 times in 3 weeks and the third race is the Green Gobbler. The course is rough and weather is unseasonably hot but it’s a great race. I am fit and fast and place well for myself. I also misread the timer as it was staggered for the 6 hour race and probably could have done another lap but oh well.

April 2016

I’m just riding my mountain bike and 650b bike. Anxiety about track cycling but I never go down to race. I do end up doing 3 races this month. Blankets Creek dirty thirty is very fun but a super hard course – rocky and rooty and not good for 26” tires I think. But next is Shake ‘n’ Brake and it’s a load of fun. I kick ass on my MTB but take a wrong turn AGAIN due to course marking issues and lose out on a really good placing. This turn cost me 15-25 minutes and a “podium” oh well, still fun. Final is the Raider 48 which is less race and more ride but still very fun. I break a spoke and have shitty shifting issues all day but my girlfriend comes with and we eat at 2Dog Café in Gainesville and it’s so good. A rider on the raider 48 comes by as I get to my car after the race and tells me my blog is interesting and he reads it a lot. This is cool.

May 2016

A guy in a purple/blue accord from New York acts like a dickhead. I do the Dirty Spokes 3 hours of Ft Yargo and see mountain bikers act like dickheads there too. I lose my saddlebag and everything inside of it. I am unmotivated to prepare for the adventure riding season I built up in my head. I can’t get into riding long distances when it takes so long to get to new roads. My relationship splinters into a million pieces and does not ever recover. This month is hard in every way.

June 2016

I get a 29er mountain bike and it is a blast. I convert my 26” to drop bars and it’s a blast. I sell all my excess bike junk and craigslist projects and the $600 I get is a blast. I sold all my stuff because I decided to use my employee discount and buy a diamondback gravel bike, I am very excited. I decide to drive to the Budweiser plant and ride from there it’s a blast. There are so many new roads there and places to climb, I see awesome things and stray kitty breaks my heart but it’s such a good ride and so freeing to come back to the car beat and exhausted in a parking lot full of other cyclists. I become enamored with publix sandwiches. Ultimate 5-grain double meat is the best. My crankarm breaks at 5 in the morning 8 miles into a 120+ mile ride after driving 45 minutes to the Bud plant. I go a little crazy and drive all the way to my mom’s house for the replacement crankset that’s there and then back to my apartment to install and then back to the Bud plant to ride my original route. I get two hours in and am mentally and emotionally exhausted. It’s so hot and dry I turn around and head back. It’s an ok ride by 4+ hours of driving and 4+ hours of riding is awful.

July 2016

I am destroyed. July 1st I go on the hardest ride I’ve ever done. 4 hours of fun 4 hours of terror. I walk so much, the hills of Cohutta are amazing and not passable for me at this time on the lowest gear I brought. I get giardiasis and this affects me much longer than I realize. I ride in Cohutta twice more this month and each ride is amazing and very difficult due to the giardiasis. I think I am better but the parasite saps your strength for weeks after the symptoms disappear. Regardless I think about this area often and yearn to go back. I get my new Diamondback Haanjo Comp and it’s really nice! I go on a 100 mile ride that is shockingly hard (giardiasis again) but so beautiful, more sandwiches from publix and continually worse relationship issues. I ride my fixed gear once for a short ride and it’s pretty awesome.

August 2016

I spend the first week in Arizona on vacation, it’s very fun and relaxing. The flight back is buffeted by severe turbulence and this affects me for weeks after. I ride my fixed gear a bit, my gravel bike a bit but never get into anything longer than a couple hours. Adventure ride season ended back in July I guess. I skip Savage CX and this is a smart move as I am in no way ready for this. I do race the red clay ramble, I slept poor all week and argued with my girlfriend and have the poorest race I’ve ever done. Felt totally worthless and embarrassed by my showing.

September 2016

Everything crystallizes in my mind. I decide to leave my relationship and start riding a bit better. I discover early morning riding again after I wake with my girlfriend when she has a 4am call to go to inventory for her job. I have an amazing adventure before work and ride early in the darkness several days in a row. I become enamored with sourdough pretzels and protein milkshakes (for months before too).

October 2016

I move out and live alone again. It takes a week to adjust and get back on the bike but when I do things are going great. I set up my double cross disc as a gravel racer with the HED wheelset from my Diamondback and find it to be an amazing ride. I take it to Sope Creek and have a blast. I go on a date and have a blast, I have coffee and lattes and make a mess in my apartment. I stop eating so much and relax everything. I lose a little weight and sleep poorly.

November 2016

Sac o’ Suds and Standard Deluxe are amazing events and I enjoy them immensely. I exercise poor judgment and work on my bike too much the day before each event and have issues with a slipping seatpost, still the rides are good and I learn a lot about myself. I become enamored with starbucks mocha double shots and make a choice to be more social that does not pan out. I get compliments on my strava pictures and rides. Most of my riding is on my cross bike or drop-bar MTB at Sope Creek in a v-neck t-shirt, cutoff shorts and marpat cap my mom made me. I am really happy with my riding. On Thanksgiving I put together my fixed gear conversion of a 1987 Schwinn Le Tour and have a great ride.

December 2016

December starts with rain, flat tires and hand tools from the side of the road. I relearn how to ride in the rain and have fun. I cut out the chamois from some kits and feel more comfortable on the bike, it’s easy to ride forever when you’re not hurting. Still in Sope Creek wearing v-necks and cutoffs but sometimes with a pullover. It’s starting to cool by mid-month and I like the weather this year. I have some issues with my Haanjo Comp but it’s an easy fix and kind of funny. Watch for those trash ponds! I end the year with 16 hours of night riding in a row. It’s refreshing, I nap all day and once the sun sets I am invigorated and feel like I can ride for hours. I’m fueled by Sourdough pretzels and seem much more resistant to the cold weather than years past.

2015 In Review

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2015 was a big year. I started gravel racing, I did my first 200k and overall did 10 rides of 100 miles or more and an additional 14 rides of at least 85 miles.

I spent the entire summer June-August riding for 6-10 hours every Saturday. It was amazing, I rode so far and so fast and saw so many cool things. My last two rides I woke-up at 4am and was on the road for 8:58 and 9:49 respectively. I learned how awesome it is to be 70 miles from home, riding in the summer sun without a care in the world. Distance came easy as it was routine.

Once Fall hit I started riding for at least 5 and a half hours every Friday. I’d fly home from work, change and then just blast around until I was so exhausted I would limp home. It was great, really gave me something to look forward to every week.

I converted to 650bx42 and found the tires amazing. They were fast, comfortable and agile. A really big improvement for me over the 700cx25 tires I was using previously.

Late summer I started hiking for anywhere for 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes to an hour in the evening. It made me strong and helped me lose weight and get really fit. For the my last three races from August-October.

Overall I had a good, satisfying year. Minimal race pressure and I was just really happy with how my riding went.

Races

  • Assault on Mt. Currahee
  • Southern Cross
  • Shake ‘n’ Brake
  • Red Clay Ramble
  • Samurai Hill Alleycat
  • Sac ‘o Suds 50

2014 Review

2014!

2014 Cal

This is one of my favorite functions of Veloviewer, you can chart your Strava activities by several dozen different parameters. This graph is 2014 with rides charted by distance and date. I really hit a consistent stride from mid-February to Mid-April when I was riding exactly an hour every day at lunch. This helped a bunch during my early road races but as my passion for that style of racing fizzled out so did my consistency. Overall I had a really good year, but it was pretty much all on the track and in the woods.

2014

This is a breakdown of my mountain bike riding.

  MTB

This is road cycling.

Road

This is fixed/SS, although this is not really representative as I only had a fixed gear during from the start of the year until I broke the bottom bracket at the end of October right before the Samurai Hill race. After which I only had a single speed. Still working on getting a fixed gear up and running. Not sure what was with the huge break over the summer? I think I just didn’t like the 52/20 ratio and preferred to ride my road bikes.

Fixed SS

And here’s the track. It’s funny how little I rode for the massive amount of enjoyment I got out of it.

Track

This is a summary of what I rode for the year. I’m blown away by how many bikes I got to ride and how many good deals I lucked into.

Gear Summary

Here’s a list of the races I did:

  • Georgia Gran Prix Road Race (GTR 4) March 30
  • Foothills Road Race (GTR 4) April 6
  • 3 Hours of Payne (Tequesta) April 19
  • 3 Hours of Raisin Woods (450HT) June 7
  • Dingo Days of Summer Day 1 (GTR 4) June 28
  • Outback Omnium at the DLV (Pre-Cursa) July 12
  • Georgia Games MTB Race (450HT) July 13
  • 3 Hours of Tacos (450HT) July 26
  • Georgia Cup Road Race (GTR 4) August 3
  • 3 Hours of Thunder (450HT) September 13
  • 10 Other DLV Race Days (Pre-Cursa) May-July
  • Samurai Hill Challenge October 25 (GTR 4 50×18)

2013 Review

STRAVA! After years of waiting and then purposefully ignoring I finally got a smart phone to record my rides. Pretty much the best thing ever! I’m not super into the social/competitive aspects so most of my excitement was from the fact that I was able to finally record my rides without having to manually route each ride in MapMyRide.

2013 Cal

2013

This year was kind of weird. I started off with only a fixed gear, rode 12 metric centuries with it and then at the end of April I got a road bike and rode that pretty exclusively until August when I started training with the fixed gear for the Alabama Road Race Championship.

Sometime in October or November I purchased a much too small mountain bike and ended up spending most of December in the woods. I was so floored by mountain biking I had a huge December with 52 hours!

Here’s my Road cycling for the year:

Road 13

Here’s my fixed riding for the year, I really regret that big gap as riding fixed is an excellent training tool that I just didn’t use as much as I should have:

Fixed 13

And here’s my mountain biking for the year:

MTB 13

I did a ton of races this year, I was so into being a road racer for some reason? So into having “race days” and just driving all over the goddamn Southeast for a 2-3 hour race.

05/18/2013 – Gainesville Gran Prix | CCR
05/18/2013 – Gainesville Gran Prix | ITT
05/19/2013 – Gainesville Gran Prix | RR
05/26/2013 – Southeast Regional Series: Event #1 Begin, Believe | RR | Srs
05/28/2013 – AMP Cycling Series | CRITERIUM
06/11/2013 – AMP Cycling Series | CRIT
06/15/2013 – Georgia State Championship road Race | RR | Open
06/18/2013 – AMP Cycling Series | CRIT
06/23/2013 – Southeast Regional Series: Event #2 Montgomery | RR
06/25/2013 – AMP Cycling Series | CRIT
07/06/2013 – Georgia Games | ROAD RACE
07/07/2013 – Georgia Games | CRITERIUM
07/13/2013 – Dingo Days of Summer Criterium Weekend – Flowery Branch/Oakwood | CRIT
07/14/2013 – Dingo Days of Summer Criterium Weekend – Flowery Branch/Oakwood | CCR
07/16/2013 – AMP Cycling Series | CRIT
07/20/2013 – French Broad Cycling Classic-2013 | RR
08/17/2013 – Litespeed BMW Twilight Criterium | CRITERIUM
08/24/2013 – Village Volkswagen River Gorge | RR
09/08/2013 – AL State RR Championship | Road Race
09/15/2013 – Southeast Regional Series: Event #5 Greenville | RR
09/17/2013 – AMP Cycling Series | CRIT

I raced a couple of alleycats as well. I’m still pissed they keep rescheduling the Peachtree bash and I keep missing it due to other races.

  • NHLB A Fucking Bike Race: 1st Fixed
  • Blackcat Alleycat: DNF

It’s kind of funny that these two races served as bookends to my season. I was full of fire for the first race in April and went all out for the race, took that momentum into the USAC road season and had a pretty good first year. Second race in Ocotober I DNF’d and was so completely blown in that first hour I just stopped pedaling, started texting my girlfriend to make arrangements and rode to the nearest Marta station where I changed in a bathroom and went out and got smashed.

NHLB_No_Stars_All_Stripesdck

I was so blown by the time October rolled around. I might have been over-training or over reaching but I’m not 100% sure. I guess I felt ok at the time but I was 100% out of it during the late fall/early winter.

2012 Review

Here’s a chart of my 2012 Rides. 256 rides in 366 days; it’s not broken out by bike because for most of the year I only had one. Sometime in late October I broke the bottom bracket shell on my fixed conversion and had to get a replacement frame from Nashbar. I got an employee discount so it was actually a pretty good deal.

Mileage 2012

I think this chart is really interesting in comparison to 2013 & 2014. I didn’t have a job until the start of September and I only had a fixed gear so my riding was both limited and unlimited. Riding exclusively fixed gives you a real appreciation for the hills so this year was both my most exploratory and my most researched. I was still getting used to the cycling flow of Gwinnett county so my routes always had some roads I was unfamiliar with but over time I got to the point where I would troll around Ride With GPS trying to find the longest or best (whatever that means) routes with the least climbing.

It’s funny to think this entire year was spent in either 46/18 or 46/17. I did 4 alley cat races and won one of them, which got me pretty hooked. Actually I won 2 but I’ll need to make a separate post for the Black Cat Alleycat since that deserves an asterisk.

  • Broken Hearts & Bicycle Parts 8
  • Hellcat Alleycat 2 in Jacksonville, FL
  • NHLB Peachtree Bash
  • Black Cat Alleycat

 

In_Kit_Kit_2IMG_0386hellcat-alleycat-2

Went from flat pedals with straps to clipless and upgraded from a steel frame/fork to a modern aluminum frame and carbon fork.

The two highest dots represent a failed fixed century where I bonked/under-hydrated/etc. and a completed fixed century where I succeeded in riding from my house to Athens, GA and back. Both were really good experiences.