Finding Adventure...

My first from-scratch project with my 3D printer

After much research on 3D printers, I settled on the $750 "CTC" one off eBay.  It's a clone of the original Makerbot Replicator, and I suspect it's made by the same factory that originally made the Replicator for Makerbot.  Makerbot has moved on to fancier and more expensive units, but in my research I just couldn't seem to justify the extra cost for the final product.  In fact, I looked at possibly spending at much as $15,000 on a printer, and yet still settled on this $750 unit.

It really seems like you have to step up to $20,000+ printers to do significantly better things than this CTC printer can do.  You would need to be running it constantly, and I'm merely a hobbyist who was looking to learn a few things and perhaps make a few things that could really be used in the real world.

I started out printing a few things I found on Thingiverse.  I'm kind of surprised more people don't just grab things from there and pay to have them printed at sites like Shapeways.  Before I bought my own printer, I did do 3D model of an enclosure I wanted and had Shapeways print it.  The service takes several days including shipping, but it's not terribly expensive and the quality is quite good.  But all it did was whet my appetite to be able to print my own things NOW.  Enter the research and the purchase of the CTC printer.

The first few prints included some mediocre iPhone cases as well as a cool little GoPro mount, seen here:

Not the most complex thing, but it actually works pretty well.  Here's one used to adapt my mountain bike headlamp to work on the GoPro mount of my bike helmet:

The material is VERY strong and fairly lightweight, too.  If there's a downside it's that the color palette is a bit limited and the time to print is pretty slow.  This little item takes about 25 minutes just to print, but setup and everything included makes it more like an hour for the first one and about 35 minutes for each one after.

 A fun thing to do is add a second video camera on the bow of the boat.  Unfortunately there's no good way to do that on these particular boats (and we've tried several different sit-on-top kayaks for surfing, and these seem to work better than most for a 200 pound adult).  So I set out to make something that would work in place of the grab handle in the front.

Here are the parts as I designed them in Sketchup:

 And assembled in place with a GoPro on the boat:

Normally the boat would have a small piece of plastic down where the string connects in this photo attached with a short screw.  I removed that and took the handle off that piece and put it on my GoPro mount.  Then I bolted everything through with a long bolt into the original hole.  It seems every bit as strong as before, except now there's a place to put a camera.  I normally use a chest cam for the best action, but a camera pointed back at the rider is a fun view, too.

There will be more almost-interesting things coming from my evil lab, but not until after the beach.

What's Wrong with College Basketball

The Big East used to be known for more a more "bruising" style of basketball.  The officials let more contact go and the league liked being known for being a little more "nasty."  Still, go back and watch tape of top Big East teams during the 80's, 90's, and even into the early 2000's.  They aren't painful to watch at all.  They did have occasional lower scoring affairs, but in general a Big East team in the NCAA tournament, where it was said to be called more traditionally and thus "tighter", could score in the 80's and 90's, too.

Fast forward to today and everyone is screaming about how low scoring the game has become.  The fix, people seem to think now, is to lower the shot clock.  I do believe that will increase scoring some, but it will still make the game more painful to watch than it is now.  You'll have even more hurried possessions resulting in low percentage shots.  But due to a noticeable increase in possessions, the scores will go up.  A little.

No, the answer is not a shorter shot clock.  24 seconds in the NBA is crazy low, but it works at that level.  35 seconds in college is plenty short enough already.  We used to score in the 80's, 90's, and even into triple digits just fine with a 35 second shot clock.

The answer is call the fouls.  Call every foul as is spelled out in the rulebook already.  Call them on the perimeter.  Call them on the blocks.  Call them in between.  Just call them.  You say "oh, but that'll slow the game down for all the free throws we'll be shooting."  Not for long it won't.  Players want to play, and players will adapt and stop fouling.  Currently it's getting to be a free-for-all where players know the refs aren't going to call much of it at all, so they do things with wild abandon now.

Guys with natural ability dribbling the ball can't turn the corner because the defender is allowed to bump them.  Offenses have adapted some, but all they can do is try more moving screens, which has actually had some success, especially if you use a moving screen in the lane to free a screener heading to the top of the key (see: Louisville in 2012-13).  In general, allowing overly physical play helps the defense way more than the offense.  And hence scoring goes down.  Let the offenses work without all the contact, and I believe scoring will go back up.

The other thing is the charge/block call.  It's here where I do feel for the officials.  It's a hard call to get right.  It always has been.  Here I'd like to see a major change that would make it easier, though.  Change the rule so that the defender has to be set (two feet planted, no significant leaning) when the offensive player picks up his dribble.  Currently the rule is when he leaves his feet, but I think that encourages help defenders to try to simply "get to the spot" before a player leaves his feet.

The point of making it when a player leaves his feet is that he's basically "out of control" at that point since he's going airborne.  I say he's all but out of control once he picks up his dribble because he can only take the two steps, almost always toward the basket at that point, and he's got to get rid of it.

Now, is this an easier call to make?  Not really.  So why do it?  Because there won't be as many charge/block calls to make at all.  It'll be too hard to try to draw a charge intentionally as a defender.  It'll only happen when an offensive player is truly out of control, and those will be obvious.  The rest of the time defenders will go back to trying to block the shot.

What will this do?  It'll let guards who are quick enough to turn a corner on their man have a better chance of finishing, rather than constantly getting scared and pulling it back out.  Again, scoring will go up.  That silly circle they put in place changed almost nothing.  I don't think we saw any fewer attempts by defenders to draw charges, and almost never did we see any inside the circle.  So maybe it did change the way players draw them a little, but not enough to matter, I don't think.

But these two changes alone would restore the scoring in the game and make it more fun to watch.  There's simply too much advantage in contact right now, and that's never been what this game was about.
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The Once A Year Punch In the Face

Ever learn your lesson the hard way?  Of course you have.  We all do.  But what lessons do you seem to have to learn the hard way regularly?

Backstory: I learned a couple years ago about the virtue of arm warmers.  In particular, I love SmartWool brand arm warmers.  And it's been "arm warmer season" now for pretty much two months.  So I've put them on quite a few times already.  But like last year and the year before, at some point, the inevitable happens....

You see, if you get in a hurry putting them on, you'll try to pull them up a little too fast.  And you're usually looking at what you're doing, and pulling them up fast once they get near the shoulder means you're likely to let it slip...and BLAM.  You punch yourself right in the nose.  Not hard enough to do damage, but in my case it seems like it's always hard enough to make my eyes water. 

So, arm warmers are awesome.  Just be careful with the installation.  The world is dangerous enough without senseless violence that could be avoided if we all just take our time putting our arm warmers on.  And by all means, if you're going to learn this lesson, try learning it just once, not every year like SOME people I know.
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Hell, and the freezing and whatnot


So I'm normally the guy that laughs at people who get stuck in the grass after it's been especially wet.  Unfortunately, today I could only laugh at myself.  Ashley had to be at church early, so me and the kids came separately.  I was "on time" for church, which means cutting it kind of close, but still, we were there in time to get inside long before the music stopped.  But it was a big day at church, and the parking lot appeared to be already bulging when I got there.  And I was in the van, which is kind of large.  So when I saw a spot where I could back in on the grass and not be in a tight parking space nor in anyone's way, I decided to jump in it right quick.  Only it was downhill just a touch and it was REALLY soft due to recent rain.  I felt it the moment I backed in, but it was too late.  Just started spinning.

Ugh.  Normally I would have not worried too much about it and just gone to services and waited until most of the parking lot was empty afterward and dealt with it then.  But today we had baseball at 2pm in Pittsboro, so we needed to be gone right when church ended to have any time to grab food at a drive-thru and get there in time for Zach to warm up.  So instead of going to services, I went and found Ashley and had her pull me out with her Pilot after services started.  By some stroke of luck I did have a tow strap in the van, but didn't have anything to attach it with.  But I used some bike rack parts on one end and random piece of metal on the other and made it work.  But it still took a good 15 minutes and my shoes were pretty gross from the mud, so we went ahead and just went and sat down to eat lunch and then went to baseball.

That's a little bad luck, but also something I should have known better to do to begin with.  Just like this past Friday night, when I took Kevin and Zach out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant.  We ordered, ate, and then when the bill came I realized I had NO MONEY.  Somehow I had forgotten my wallet.  Fortunately they were quite understanding and I was able to call them with my credit card number when I got home.  Which was also kind of dumb, since I actually do KNOW my American Express number and could have just given them that on site.  It's been a pretty mediocre weekend.

But that brings us to the hell freezing thing.  For the longest time I've said I had no urge to do a long running race, but I've found I have almost no running motivation these days, even though I really need to do it to help my mountain biking as well as for the cross training benefits.  I used to run both for those reasons and because I thought at some point I'd learn to swim and work on being a triathlete.  But I've mostly given up on the triathlon idea, which has led to less running motivation.  So I figured a good way to get some motivation back might be to run a half marathon.

Yeah, a half marathon.  You know the joke...every time someone says they ran a half marathon I think to myself "now there's someone who knows how to do things half-way."  So soon that will be me, too.  Well, "soon" is a relative term...I don't think I'm going to do a race until late January or early February, but it's time to plan it, anyway.  And thanks to Shelley, I have a time to shoot for...1:57.  That's going to be tough!
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So was it....FUN?

[ How did this blog post get so long?  Cliff Notes version: Thanks to Dad, Jonas, Alisa, Edward, and Reid.  Was it fun?  HELL YEAH.  Now if you need something to put you to sleep, read the long version. ]

First I want to thank a few more people who helped make this possible.  One is my Dad, who loaned me his trailer for the trip.  Made life a LOT better.  Plus, you know, he's my Dad...he almost taught me how to ride a bike in the first place!  (He tried one day, but we weren't seeing eye to eye on it at all, so we, uh, took a break from it.  Then apparently a neighborhood girl passing by on her bike was able to teach me quite easily.  But Dad still gets the credit for buying me that first bike as a used bike and completely restoring it to bad-ass status.  Plus he taught me about everything I know about working on things like bikes and even just about having good tools, though he claims I stole all my tools from him anyway.  That's not true.  I have never stolen one single tool from him. *ahem*) 

Another is Jonas Sahratian, my strength coach.  He doesn't really care much for long endurance sports, but he doesn't let that stop him from making sure my body is as balanced as he can possibly get it.  You see, all this bicycling is particularly efficient at strengthening very specific sets of muscles, often to the detriment of other muscles that your body needs to stay in balance.  By that I mean you can literally strengthen some parts to the point that if you aren't careful they can tear up other body parts that aren't keeping up.  Jonas makes sure that doesn't happen, all the while chewing my ass about how terrible my diet is.  One day I'll listen, too.  Maybe.  He somehow manages to make that weight room fun most of the time, though, without ever letting you take the day off.  But I definitely don't think it's luck that I've stayed so injury-free throughout this process.  Thanks, J.

And still another is my wonderful assistant and good friend, Alisa.  Strangely, thanks to our family beach trip, a vacation of hers, and this trip to Colorado, I've seen her exactly one day in something like seven weeks.  That's just not right!  She makes so much of this kind of stuff possible that it's not even funny.  And she does it all without ever a complaint or a question as to "why?"  Yeah, sometimes I get the "you're nuts", but I already knew that.  But nobody gets their job done better.  But more importantly, nobody else could put up with me and still be my friend while doing that job, too.  She's a special lady.  I miss her, but I'm sure it's a lot more than she misses me!

Last, a big shout out to Edward and Reid.  They pulled off some nice things in those last couple days of packing to make the trailer and RV situation much better for me in terms of traveling and living for a month away from home.  Reid helped out big time with some bike prep I might not have finished before leaving, too.  Thanks, fellas.  The only warning I have for you two is I came up with a LOT more modifications to the RV I want to do while sitting in it bored during rain and such!

So now that I've had a couple days to reflect on Leadville, I realize that in all my story telling about the race itself I never really said it was fun.  I used words like "epic", which is probably getting to be the most over-used word in mountain biking, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was fun.

Alan, Matt, and Leadville!
So was it?  Yes, yes, yes, and uh, no.  Or something like that.  It's really hard to say.  I had some training workouts leading up to this that I dreaded and those certainly ended up having elements that weren't fun, but overall, I'd even describe those workouts as fun.  I learned something in each one, too, and I enjoy learning.  There were parts of the trip itself I was dreading (like the several days I was by myself during the trip), but I found ways to have fun then, too.

I was dreading the time stuck in the corral before the race start.  While I can't say any of that was fun, I will say it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be.  We did a really good job of having our stuff prepared the day before, so I knew all I needed to do was get out of bed, eat, dress, and drive to the RV.  There we got bikes out, checked air pressures and put our fuel bottles in, and headed to the start line.  When we got there, it was an hour and a half of waiting, but we carved out enough space to lay the bikes down and sit on the ground, and I had a full coat and thick sweatpants as well as good gloves.  Between that and having my phone to poke at the Intertubez, I killed most of that time fine.  It wasn't nearly as cold as it could have been, which also helped.  Ashley and the kids showed up just before the start and we were able to give them our warm clothes.

I was dreading the race start, too.  Not because of nerves...which I really didn't have.  I think that was simply because we were so well prepared (a more in depth look at the preparation for this race will probably be another blog).  No, I was dreading the start because of the cold.  See, at altitude it does get very cold at night, but it also typically warms up VERY fast this time of year.  And being cold for a little while is better than getting stuck being hot and/or carrying a bunch of gear you don't need any more.  And I'm just not into trying to dispose of gear on the that meant suffer a bit.  My clothing for this race consisted of biking tights, a bike jersey (provided by Carmichael Training Systems, which was how they spotted us on course before the aid stations to have our supplies ready to restock us during the race), thin Smartwool socks and bicycle shoes, a thin headband, bicycle helmet, clear glasses, thin mountain bike gloves, and Smartwool arm warmers. 

The start of the race is at 6:30am and goes downhill for several miles before going across a pretty flat gravel road for three more miles.  So it's fast.  Which means wind.  Cold wind.  But like I said, it really wasn't as cold as it could have been, and while I wasn't toasty warm, I wasn't shivering for that entire start, either.  So that was another thing that was better than expected, if not exactly fun.  The Smartwool arm warmers are like can push them down if you get warm and pull them back up when it cools off.  Since we were changing altitude a couple thousand feet at a time, this was nice to be able to do.

The climbs were not fun, but I was prepared for them mentally, and they all lead to fast downhill which is what mountain bikers really love.  So they led to fun.  Now, not all downhill is fun...sometimes you're stuck behind people who are slower than you with no room to pass for various reasons.  That happened a lot more than I expected in the race, to be honest.  Then there was the other part I wasn't quite prepared for...the fact that I had to walk more of the climbs than I wanted because it was easier to walk than to bicycle as slow as the people walking in front of me in places where there was no room to pass.  I wasn't even walking as fast as I wanted to be walking for long stretches!  That part wasn't exactly fun, either.  But on the downhill where there was room to pass, boy did things get fun in a hurry. More than I expected, in fact.  On Powerline alone I heard a lot of "OH MY GOD" as I blew past people.  See, for most of that downhill, there's a reasonably obvious line to take, and most people seemed to think any other line was borderline insane.  Fortunately for me, I am borderline insane.  I'm sure people understood that those lines were possible, they just didn't know they were possible with that much speed.  I am speed.  Okay, so it's not all that...I'm no world cup downhiller, but compared to some of these folks I surely was.  That was fun.

The most disappointing part of the riding in the race had to be the singletrack descent in the middle of the course.  It's by far the most fun section of the course.  It's almost rollercoaster-like when you have the freedom to ride it at your own pace.  But alas, I got stuck right at the beginning of it behind someone who was a very timid rider and by the time that section ended, there were about 15 of us stacked up behind him.  It was paaaaaaainful.  But it was totally a single-lane section and no option but to follow along.

The least fun part had to be that time period of about 45 minutes that started with about an hour and a half to go.  That, I would go so far as to say, was depressing.  It was about that length of time that I was pretty sure I couldn't make it in under twelve hours.   But you know, that's what makes the success so sweet.  If we were sure we could accomplish things, actually pulling it off wouldn't be any big deal, now would it?  No, I was never sure...but I was pretty confident going in.  For 45 minutes, though, I had lost all confidence.  But for that last 45 minutes or so, as the picture began to look much brighter, everything changed.  I was dreading that final climb into town before the race even started, but as I actually approached it I knew it was mine for the taking.  I had Burt Reynolds voice in my head from Smokey and the Bandit...."Hot damn, we're gonna make it!"

And I did.  And it was crazy emotional.  And awesome.  And fulfilling.  And yes, fun.  The whole thing was fun.  Crazy hard.  At times it was "why am I doing this again?" hard.  But I never once didn't have an answer for "why?"  Because it would be fun.  And it truly was.
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Doesn't that hurt?!?

When the subject of my cycling comes up  and people find out how long I ride for (six hour training rides, occasional races or mountain riding days much longer), the topic inevitably turns to how much that saddle would hurt them if they tried that. 

Guess what?  It hurts me too. 

Okay, it no longer hurts me as much as it would hurt someone who doesn't bike a lot to go that long, I admit.  But the dirty little secret in the cycling world is that you really don't ever get to the point where it doesn't hurt past a certain point.  Well, maybe there are some people that do, but I really don't think so. 

What I think is that you get your body used to it and it will stop hurting very early in your rides after a few weeks.  Then you'll go a few months where it only starts hurting after a couple hours but you can handle an hour or so of the pain before it gets to you.  Then you kind of come to an either love to bicycle enough that you learn to ignore the pain or you don't and you never ride more than that couple hours plus maybe a tad of pain, depending on how much fun you're having with your buddies.

Guess what?  That's fine.  Contrary to what some cyclists might imply, it really is fine to make that choice.  It doesn't make you less tough, it just means you probably don't love to be on that bike quite as much as some people.  And there's nothing wrong with that.

Me?  I've found a love of being on a bicycle that let me push through that pain because I wanted to.  I sure never had to.  I don't feed my family with a bicycle.  Nobody is holding a gun to my head and making me do it.  My riding group is a little nuts, but we all have time constraints that limit riding time for whatever reason and nobody ever complains about it. 

And yes, once you make that decision that you're going to push through it, in a few months you do extend your time before it hurts some more.  To maybe four or even five hours.  And then it starts to ache here and there and you find yourself finding places to stand and pedal for a while, you fidget, you might complain to your riding buddy (which never does much good, because he's in the same boat as you, most likely), and you fight on through.  Why?  Because there's just something a bit magical about riding a bicycle.  To some more than others.

Leadville Trail 100 Race Report

Wow.  Just...WOW.

That was one epic day.  It started with getting up at 4am so we could get to the head of the corral when it opened at 5am.  That went as planned, which was good as our corral was a full half the race and that meant there were probably around 1,000 people in it!  The race started promptly at 6:30am, and it was on!

Alan and I moved through traffic down the paved hill pretty well, but man did things stack up on the first gravel road and then even worse on the first climb.  But I settled in and did my thing and Alan set sail ahead of me and I didn't see him for a long while.  Everything was going quite as planned until I got about 15 miles in and was starting to climb the back side of the famous Powerline descent.  All the sudden my bike just started to lock up...I couldn't pedal!  I jumped off, flipped the bike over (which requires removing my GPS, which I accidentally STOPPED and didn't realize it until 13 minutes later, ugh!), and started diagnosing.  Turns out the nut that holds the cassette (the big cluster of gears on the back tire) had worked loose somehow.  I've ridden THOUSANDS of miles and this has only ever happened to me TWICE.  But still, that's something I should have checked and didn't, and it cost me.

I did not have the special tool you need to tighten that, so I made due and got it as tight as I could and took off after a few minutes, scared it was just going to happen again.  But I made it to the 27 mile aid station (Pipeline outbound), where I had been smart enough to leave a complete wheelset, with the world's most awesome crew, Matt Kimel.  We swapped to my backup rear wheel in a matter of seconds, restocked the fuel, and off I went. 

Things went very well from there through the Twin Lakes outbound aid station and to the start of the Columbine Mine climb.  That's ten miles out and the climb is about 2,800 feet of elevation gain to 12,600 feet above sea level, which is well above tree line.  Let's just say that riding that after riding 40 more miles of the course did NOT go nearly as well as the training rides!  Wow, that was brutal.  I did see Alan coming down as I was still climbing, which was cool.  Somehow I missed my friend Tammy, who is a Pro and did very well today, too.  Kind of bummed about that, but I must have had my head down grinding pretty hard when she went by.  By the time I passed Alan I was up closer to the top and was walking the steep and very loose section, so I spotted him and wished him well.

Made it to the top, grabbed some Coke and a few banana pieces from the aid station, and headed back down.  Man, I must have passed 50 people on that descent!  Generally speaking, I rode the descents within my limits and fairly safely, but I still passed TONS of people on every one.  This race attracts a lot of people that really don't do much intense mountain biking, and my riding with my local group of buddies at crazy places like Pisgah National Forest has prepared me pretty well for going downhill pretty fast.  So that was fun.  It wasn't as fun watching those same people pass me back on the next climb, though.  I need to work on that!

Every climb after Columbine was pretty tough.  The legs just didn't have the power any more.  But they kept going (with some amount of walking here and there) and I slipped my time goals just a little at each station, but not too bad for the first 2/3 of the race.  It was that last third that hosed me!  But to be fair, there was a HUGE wind this afternoon that made a section of the course MUCH slower than it would have otherwise been, and was at a point where it just sapped energy like crazy.  It should have been a soft downhill to flat to soft uphill paved section that in a group would have been easily done at 18MPH or more.  But instead we were reduced to grinding more like 12MPH.  And it hurt.

Then comes the Powerline climb.  Let's just say I had to walk almost every inch of the uphill parts.  I felt like I could have ridden some of the easier parts between the steep climbs, but every time I tried I had the strangest cramps up my inner thighs.  I've never had those before, and it was like FIRE shooting up my legs.  It only happened when I tried to pedal and walking was fine, so I kept walking and hoped something good would happen, with little expectation that it actually would.

And around this time I was doing all this walking, I started running time calculations.  Oh crap, making the 12 hour time for the silver belt buckle award (and being recognized as a "finisher" at all) was looking quite unlikely.  Especially since there was still one long climb left to another descent, and then a three mile climb back into town for the finish.  I was really worried I couldn't pedal with any power due to the cramps, which meant climbing was going to be walking, and there was too much left.

But I took some more salt supplements, kept drinking fluids (water and my nutrition drink that also had electrolytes in it), and kept moving forward.  One thing I had in my favor was I had a fifteen minute descent for my legs to rest and get fluids before that next climb, and apparently that was enough.  I wasn't fast, but I was able to pedal at about twice the same speed I could have walked up that hill.  As I worked through the woods to that last descent, the math still didn't look good.  I was pretty positive for the last hour and a half that I'd never make it.  But thanks to all the support from all my friends and family and coaches and even random people from the Internet that I've never even met, I just knew that as long as my legs would pedal, I was going to keep going.  And I did.

And that descent was fast again, and there was a four mile stretch before that last climb that was probably a soft downhill, because I averaged around 20MPH for that stretch.  As I neared the end of that stretch to start the final climb, I realized I was going to make it with a few minutes to spare.  That was quite a feeling, but then my thoughts turned to my poor family, crew, and all of you following along at home.  I figured it was going to be nerve-wracking since you guys had no idea I was so close.  Sorry about that.  It wasn't much in my control after a certain point!

But I ground out that final climb, often times with power outputs that WERE very respectable (which was quite shocking to me!) and as I approached that red carpet, I couldn't help but start crying.  The amount of climbing in this race just does something to you.  You swear over and over that current climb will be over around the next bend, only to be presented with plenty more to go.  I like to make sure I know a race course ahead of time, and I really did know this course pretty well, but yet once you're racing and doing that to your body, it affects the mind as well.  So you end up back in that same space from time to time, and that kind of thing accumulates inside somehow.  Plus, I had all that time (probably an hour) when I was pretty sure I wouldn't make it.  Then to find I could, pretty much only 20 minutes from the end, meant a huge release when I finally crossed that line.  Here's a picture at the finish...more good pics to come as the various race picture folks have stuff online:

And here's where I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a lot of folks.  I've mentioned my family once, but I'll do it again...they've put up with a lot of me being gone to train for this.  Amazing support.  Then my coach, Sage Rountree, who made this possible.  Without her, there's just no way I could have done this on my own.  And then there's Tammy Sadle, who was my inspiration from the beginning.  She works at Training Peaks, the site my coach and I use for our main method of communication for workout planning.  She did this race for the first time last year, and they blogged about her effort to raise money for Team First Descents and she did great her first time out.  I followed her progress, but also made a small donation to her fund raising effort, which resulted in her being nice enough to reach out to me via social media.  Seeing how well she did made me want to try it, too.  Happy to say she's a friend now, too!

And then there was Alan Bocko.  Been friends with Alan for many years, but I was pretty sure if I signed up that he'd find a way.  And he did.  And then Matt Kimel, who was cool enough to sign on as our crew for the event, including spending several weeks here in Leadville keeping me company.  You've probably read about our motorcycle adventures already.  LOOK AT MY HANDS! And thanks to Matt's family for letting him do this.  That was a big deal for them, too.  Oh, and my Chapel Hill riding crew...riding with those guys is always fun and challenging.  That crew always has multiple people in it that kick my butt on any given day.  And Santa Cruz for making awesome bicycles!

And then there's all of you folks who donated or even just supported me online.  I owe you so many thanks.  I really didn't want to let you down, and I hope I did you proud.  I thought about every one of you at some point on this long day, I promise.  Thank you all so much for all the kind words of support.  It really means a lot to me.   More pictures and further wrap-up to come...I really should go to bed now.
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The big day is almost here!

Well, the big day is almost here.  It's kind of hard to believe, to be honest.  But it's here, and I'm excited!

It's not too late to donate to my fund raising effort if you haven't already.  I'd really like to send a few more young folks with cancer to this very special camp, so please donate to help out if you haven't already!

I feel like all the prep work is done and all that's left is to go have some fun doing some riding.  And then ride some more, and some more, and some more, and a little more.  And then maybe a lot more.  Who knows?  I just know I'm going to give it all I've got to reach the 103+ mile finish line.

If you want to follow along, the race starts at 8:30am EDT (6:30am here in Colorado) tomorrow (Saturday, Aug 11) and you can find a link for living timing at the bottom of this page.  I sort of expect to be through Pipeline 1 (or outbound, as this is an out-and-back course) around 2:30, Twin Lakes 1 (outbound) about 3:30, Twin Lakes 2 (inbound) about 6:30, and Pipeline 2 (inbound) around 7:30.  That would put me at the finish around 10:30 (or about 7pm, EDT).  These are very rough estimates, and there may be a couple more timing stations reporting than this, but I'm less sure about what those splits might be as I'm not completely sure where they are (well, one is likely at the top of Columbine assuming they can get data back from up there, and that would be about 5:45, I'd guess).

Anyway, time to get to bed and get some sleep!

More recon and a review

Took a little trip today to the middle of the LT100 race course.  This was the only part I hadn't yet seen, and is the easiest part of the course.  Took a little doing to figure out a little bit of it, but we've got it now.  There's still one tiny part I haven't ridden, but I'll get it later this week.  I am glad to have seen most of this middle part, though, because it does give me a little faith that I can get this done.

Now for a bit of reflection.  This is a fairly interesting summary:

That's a pretty good 30 days on the mountain bike.  How about my total cycling in the last year?

Holy crap on a cracker!  3,000 miles on a bicycle?  Wow, I am broken or something.  I sure did enjoy a lot of it, I know that.  And most importantly, I think it's prepared me well.  I have the best coach in the world to blame for much of this...Sage Rountree.  But I also have the best family in the entire world who would let me leave the house for a lot more than that 290 hours it took me to get the riding in.  See, it's not like all 290 hours or even most of it was near home...a lot of it required trips or driving to Raleigh or just working on bikes.  But they've helped me pursue this bucket list kind of dream of this crazy huge race in Leadville, and for that I am eternally grateful.  In just a few more days they'll be here to join me, and I can't wait!
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Just another day in ... Colorado

So today's workout was to climb Powerline again.  Yay, me!  Or, you know, not.  It's just a few miles, but it's also 1,400' of elevation gain over some of the worst terrain imaginable...huge ruts, loose sandy soil, large loose rocks, etc.  I tried to park a few miles away so I could warm up first, but I came in from the wrong direction for that as there was just nowhere I felt like I could leave my motorcycle safely.  So I parked near the bottom and just took off cold.

Wow, that stunk.  Cold starts at high altitude with large workloads are tough.  But it's not long on the Powerline climb before us mere mortals have to walk no matter what, anyway, so it wasn't too horrible of a situation.  Then it levels out to merely a horrible climb so I started pedaling.  I made it up in about ten minutes less than the first time I did it, so I'm pretty happy with that.  Here's a self-portrait of me at the top:

Then it was time to descend.  The descent is pretty dangerous on Powerline if you aren't careful.  I've been wearing sunglasses for most of my riding out here because the course is so open for the most part and the sun is pretty tough.  And I really prefer to have glasses of SOME kind on when I'm riding for the's no fun getting bugs or dirt in your eyes when you really need to see!  So I had sunglasses on even though part of this descent is in a wooded area, which meant shadows made things tough to see.  And I missed a rock that was ill-placed such that it somehow took out my rear brake disk.  I didn't crash nor even come close to it, but the best effort I could make to fix what was basically a brake disk in the shape of a taco meant that I got the rear wheel rolling again, but I had no rear brake at all.  Here's a picture of the scrapes on the disk, and trust me, it's very bent:

Now, everyone knows you do most of your braking with the front brake, but on a descent like this, particularly with someone as heavy as me, it's very important to be able to use both.  Since I couldn't, I decided to stop a couple times on the way down to cool the front brake.  Having it go out on me during this descent could be devastating, so I chose to take no chances here.  But I got through it, and got the disk swapped and things appear fine otherwise with the bike, so no worries.  I will probably switch to clear glasses for the rest of my training and the race, though.  It's just what I'm used to.

Later, Matt and I decided to do some motorcycle riding.  First we hit a local trail for some exploration that didn't take long and ended without much interesting to find, and then headed out to ride up Columbine Mine, the biggest climb of my mountain bike race.  It takes you to 12,600' and above tree line, and weather was great this afternoon, so it was a very good ride up.  Here's a picture of us and our bikes and some amazing background scenery:

It was kind of cold up top, so we didn't stick around long.  I need to check the data, but I'm pretty sure I can descend that mountain faster on my bicycle than I can on the motorcycle.  Of course, it's no contest the other way!

We headed back to town and walked over to watch some of the Leadville Boom Days! festivities.  I'm not sure how much of an overriding theme there is, but it's a crazy mix of interesting things culminating in, of all things, burro races on Sunday.  Tonight was some slow motorcycle competition stuff in the street.  What we got to see was a competition they call the "weiner bite."  That's where you have a guy driving a motorcycle with a girl on the back.  They go really slow under a hot dog hanging from a string.  The girl has to bite off as much of the hot dog as she can, but not swallow it.  Then she spits it out and they measure who bit off the most of the hot dog and that's the winner.

Yeah, that was amazing stuff, let me tell you.  But there were a ton of fair food vendors and we had some great "ribbon fries" and brisket.  Sadly, they don't allow open container alcohol even for Boom Days, so I had a sweet tea and we called it a night.  I woke up at 5am and couldn't go back to sleep this morning, so that was plenty of day for me anyway.