Camp Beagle

It’s weird how you do things completely the opposite of what you have been doing all along, and things wind up turning out just fine, even better sometimes. You start off by drinking and going out more. You then have a horrible, hot, hangover ride the weekend before…one that you have to cut short. You then get sick, leave work on Monday, and don’t come in on Tuesday. Get meds from the doctor on Wednesday. Ride for 30 tempo minutes on Thursday. Pre-ride saturday for 1.5 hours, going pretty damn hard. Then drink a beer that night. It was all-natural though.

Maybe that's the formula made for a win at Camp Eagle. Granted the big 3 from the spring season weren’t there (wally cat’d up to open class), but screw that, that's just the haters talking. A win is a win. :P

Lined up in the 2nd row at the start. Camp Eagle start is excellent, because there’s enough space and plenty of climbing to thin out the stampede before reaching the single track. It’s not as nervous, as high-speed, and as important to get a great start as say, a Waco, Double Lake, or Huntsville. Gun went off and I didn’t need to take too many chances to pass a few ppl before the start. And it’s a testament to each of my fellow racers’ skills that I can actually overlap wheels (if I actually find myself needing to, had to do that w/Sisk as 4 of us shared 2 grooves in the fire road), and/or ride inches from someone’s rear tire and not have them swerve like drunks or touch their brakes like sissy drivers who slow down when a plane passes overhead.

Anyway, I got to the base of the climb in the top 10 or so. There were 2 lines that could be taken, and I did my best to not expend too much energy trying to jump around ppl, crossing over the loose stuff into the other groove. I did it when I needed to, but I had to fight the urge a couple of other times, especially when I got to 3rd and was on turner’s wheel. Jimmy had gotten to the bottom of the climb first, and had proceeded to just start gapping the field. The guy in 4th tried to accelerate around Turner and me by riding over the rough stuff into the right-hand groove, but the problem was we were already going pretty hard and he had to go around 2 racers. I was about to do the impulsive thing and follow him, but I knew I didn’t have to get to the top of the climb first, because if you’re feeling good, you can always go around at the top as you accelerate over the hill and it opens up pretty wide. Anyway, he petererd out and wasn’t able to go around both of us, and hit a rough patch in that line. Got to the top, kept up the hard effort, and accelerated to get around turner.

Made it to the single track in 2nd, and closed the gap to 1st by the end of the first downhill section. We started catching expert 19-29s by the time we got to the 1st creek bed. Camp Eagle is one of those hot, technical races (think old Kelly Creek, Flat Creek) where rider differences (legs and skills) are exposed big time. It sometimes becomes a race of survival, and the time gaps get big.

Anyway, as soon as we got to over the bridge, and especially on the open field, jimmy pretty much rode away from me. I saw that I had gotten a good gap on the rest of the field so I knew the form was good, so I just settled into my own pace and rhythm. It had been a long time I had been in a top 3 position so I just kept it steady through the remainder of the 1st lap, trying to protect my position.

It wasn’t until the start of the 2nd lap and I got to the base of the long fireroad climb that I saw Jimmy again. He was about ¾ of the way up, as I started the climb. Up and over, descended, then caught Quintana on the technical climb back up. That’s when he let me know I was pretty close to 1st, even though I thought I was still a minute back. It wasn’t until further down the trail on a turnaround that I saw I was only about 10 seconds behind him. Caught him on the descent to the creek bed, and passed him without too much trouble and rode away from him during the creek bed section.

At that point, I thought I was sitting pretty for the rest of the race, judging by how I had closed the gap in a relatively short distance. However, as soon as I got out, and over the suspension bridge, I noticed the legs tightening up and wanting to cramp. Granted this was only about 1:30 into the race, and I still had close to an hour to keep racing. I wound up having to back off, and I downed 2 endurolytes I was carrying, and the rest of my water. I was drinking a lot of water, but it wasn’t enough…not sure what was up with that. It was hot, but I was still surprised.

As soon as I got to the field, I tried to shake the legs loose, but the cramps really wouldn’t go away, but they were not completely taking over, which was a good thing. I saw Jimmy was closing back up, and was worried he would see me cramping. So I did my best to just pedal in a manner that wouldn’t show anything. Tried standing out the pedals, and cramps stuck around. They were weird though, it was just like the muscles stayed at a constant tension, but weren’t rolling up completely into a ball, which isn't how it's worked out for me before.

Jimmy caught me out in the open field so not wanting to pull him along, and wanting to hide my condition, I eased up ever so slightly, trying to goad him into passing me, which he did. I just did my best to stay right on his wheel at that point. I expected him to just completely ride away from me at that point and through the feed zone. But he must have not been feeling too great either, since he was never able to stick it to me. But it didn’t do much good, cuz I couldn’t stick it to him either. From that point on, every single effort I made had to be very measured.

Stayed on his wheel, through the feed zone, down the jump, and to duck trail. I finally went around him as we rode along the rough and rocky river bank, where it opens up, but just did it to do some share of the work, and since I was feeling a bit better after pouring a whole bottle of water all over my head, back, and legs. Muscle cramps subsided a bit since we were mostly on the flats, and had just finished descending, but I felt in my head that he was easily going to ride away from me when we crossed the road and started the switchback climbs.

But it never happened. He would stay steady with me on the steeper stuff, but then I’d gap him slightly over the crests, and the short rolling downhills. That’s when I realized I still had a chance…so I concentrated as hard as I could on squeezing every slight bit of momentum I could out of every downhill and subsequent flat section. I took leaps of faith into every downhill corner, fighting the urge to grab brakes, and just trusted physics and my bike. I have to hand it to the bike setup, i haven’t felt that in tune with a bike and that good technically ever. (thanks for “goading” me into the new bike, Cody! which was also the catalyst for me getting the new SID as well.)

Every uphill still hurt my legs like a mutha, and by this time my right hand had also started cramping, as well as my right calf occasionally. You just basically squirm around, sit, stand, shake a leg, find any different motion/position that your leg muscles agree with. I was confident that if I could make it to the top of the “texas” in 1st, I would ride away from him on the rolling and downhill sections.

I put about 15-20 seconds on him after the first set of climbs and subsequent downhill, but he then caught me at the turn off up “texas”, as I had to dismount and immediately cramped up my right calf. You know when you’re a little kid and you’re in all this pain, and you want to cry like a baby, and you want to tell everyone, “it hurts, it hurts! wahhhh!”, but your dad tells you to suck it up, and you just make this really pathetic face trying to hold it all in? Well I’m pretty sure that’s the face I made as I turned around the switchback to face him as he was riding what I had just walked.

Luckily things flattened ever so slightly, but stayed technical, so I put a few seconds back on my lead. That’s until I saw poor Noel fixing a flat by the side of the trail. I have no idea what I said to him, I think I expressed my condolences or something, but I honestly can’t remember since I wasn’t in my right mind. Anyway, did that sharp turnaround, saw Jimmy about 5 seconds behind me. I was almost to the flatter, technical sections of the top of “texas”, and I just had one more uphill ledge section to get up. I rode it all, did the switchback and saw Jimmy walking.

Took one last endurolyte with my last sip of water on the last steady climb up to the top of “texas.”

From then on, it was just pedal pedal, but not too hard, and keep momentum going. Accelerate before ledges and get up them without having to torque the legs. During the off-camber descending section, I started to catch a lot of sport riders, and was a little worried about traffic slowing me down, but everyone was extremely accommodating, even though my “on your left” calls were a little more urgent that usual. “race leader” works amazingly well. I need to use that more often, even when I’m in 13th place.

After the off-camber sections I ran out of water (again), rolled through the rolling downhills, but every rise in the trail got more painful. I wasn’t able to pedal very hard, but was very lucky that it was mostly downhill or flat.

Finally made it back to the screen shelter area, and that’s when I started thinking I might actually win this thing. Was VERY careful through all that stuff, going down was the last thing I wanted to do at this point. Made it through the dirt jumps, turned around and couldn’t see anyone. Had the biggest smile and goose bumps (that was probably the onset of heat stroke though) as I rode my legs out through the finishing section and through the final turn.

courtesy of www.bobcat13.smugmug.com

I wound up only winning by 11 seconds. I felt as bad after this race as any other race I’ve had. Kept hacking up crap, and couldn’t eat for about an hour after race. I was able to drink 2 beers first though.

Sorry Cody, I couldn’t find my Team Hammerhead Bikes shirt. But I at least wore a shirt, unlike Dirty D.


p.s. missing 4th place, jeff turner, who broke his hand. Jordan Cheney, who he rode in the same car with him, dislocated his shoulder. can you believe that?!


Sea Dragon Splash and Dash

I just hit up the chinese lunch buffet a couple of hours ago. I'm upping the ante though. Doing the Splash and Dash swim/run race at Pure Austin Quarry Lake.

We'll see how bouyant egg drop soup, beef brisket pho, fried rice, sesame chicken, general tso's chicken, lo-mein, savory beef potato, and fortune cookies are. Call it an experiment...or a stress-test of my digestive system.



It was actually more fun that I thought it would be, and by that I mean I actually enjoyed the racing instead of suffering through it, since most of these 2+ hour multi-sport things I’ve done have been suffer fests for me, cuz of that stupid run. it’s probably because I try to kill the bike a little too much, and don’t leave enough for the run.

I “think of” the bike as my strong point, but I’m starting to realize that I’m channeling too much of that thought onto the bike leg, and I go out on it trying to slaughter everyone. This comes at the expense of the “traditionally hardest” part of the event, the run. Either way, I need to get it through my thick skull, that I still never have the fastest bike split anyway.

the swim isn’t hard, once you learn how you’re supposed to swim, it’s just really uncomfortable. Everyone’s in your f’ing personal space, you’re gasping for air, swallowing water, faster swimmers swim up your ass and over you, unless you kick them in the face, it’s just an unpleasant experience. And I’m sure someone has probably pissed in my face too, w/o me realizing it, I’ll just accept that. Before I started doing tri’s I used to think swimming was fun and that I was good at it, then I started doing tri’s, and realized swimming sucked, and that I really sucked at it. I think I’ve progressed to fast midpacker, but it’s still not where my bike and run are at, and I’m not sure if I will ever get it there.

anyway the Austin xterra swim in lake Austin was “unpleasant”, mostly because my wave was about 50-strong with a very tight channel to swim through. for the first time ever (surprised it hadn’t happened before), I had my goggles punched off (another variation is to have them kicked off). Everyone sprinted out of the gate and I was run over and crowded in, even though I lined up towards the outside of start line. I got the goggles back on and was able to keep going, but in no way was I able to establish a rhythm at this point, since I’m not fast enough to sprint ahead of everyone and get out of the traffic. The first 500 meters were very shallow and walkable for about 200 meters. I decided to move over to the 2-foot deep section and just swim instead of walk, since I wasn’t walking any faster and it was tiring to my legs. After the turn-around things opened up much better, and I was able to get in my rhythm. I think I passed about 30 ppl on the way back, since a lot of ppl had spent themselves on the way out.

Finally made it out onto the beach, in fast mid-packer time, and went through transition. I’ve finally accepted the fact that my wetsuit will not get over my ankles unless I sit my ass down, so I sat my ass down as soon as I got to my bike. Still struggled with it a bit, but nothing too bad.

Ran out of transition with my bike, mounted, and sprinted out-of-the-saddle to get up to speed. I’m sure I impressed everyone, “Check out that dude, he’s slaughtering everyone. He’s going the wrong way, but he’s dropping that guy that’s following him!” I make it about 75 meters, look back and see flags down the middle of the grassy field with ppl riding it. I also noticed the poor dude that chased me out of transition and followed me the wrong way. Oh well, I jumped the curb, and got back on course.

Rode up the road climb out of Emma Long park (lake Austin), trying to keep my HR down. I always have a hard time pulling the reins back at the start of the bike leg, and I’m usually in the red for a good 5 minutes or so. Enough that I make myself want to puke. I’ve come close a few times. I’m sure it doesn’t help that my stomach is full of water (and god knows what else), my body is now up right, sort of, and my HR is 189.

The bike leg was actually rather uneventful, which is not a bad thing necessarily. I passed a lot of ppl on the road, then more on the first double-track section of the dirt. But mostly tried to pace myself as much as possible, in contrast to what I’ve done in the past. The first quarter of the course was on the turkey creek (whatever) side of city park road, and through the archery range, with the middle half on the city part motorcycle trails we all know and love and hate, and the last quarter back on the archery range side, doubling-back through a few of the sections. it was a cool course, even though I had it in the back of my mind that I might get an arrow through the thigh every time I saw a deer, hog, lion decoy littered with arrow markings. Starting on the City Park side of the course, I pretty much rode on my own the rest of the way. I think maybe I passed 3-4 more riders, but that was it. I passed everyone in my wave (30-39), except the other Barron (that’s double RR), and everyone in the 20-29 class that had started 5 minutes ahead, except for about 3-4 of them.

Towards the end of the lap, I saw Diamond Dave, and he’s like “You like my ramp?” Ramps had been built and setup for about 4 of the knarlier sections, like it or not.

Crossed back over to the archery side, tore up the downhill road and nearly decapitated myself on a telephone pole anchor at the bottom of the road. This would be right where we got back on to the grass. I don’t know what it is, but every time I see a course marshal motioning me to slow down, I take it as a challenge to go faster. It’s probably the same psychological thing in my head that drives me to speed up, to see how fast I can get up to, whenever I see one of those “Your Speed Is” signs/guns out on the road. Anyway, I kept my head, rode through the infield (correctly this time), and swerved around the ambulances that got to transition at the same time that I arrived (for a completely unrelated reason to the race, or me).

Made it in and out of transition quickly with no hitches, and headed out on the run. I hear someone call my name, and see Mr. Moya riding up to me. He rides next to me for maybe 75-100 meters, if even that, letting me know how far ahead the leaders are (I hadn’t seen another racer going the same direction I was in about 20 minutes, and I was sure I was going the right way). Anyway, we hear a honk coming from the road and some official is yelling at us (really at hector), “You can’t ride next to him, he can be disqualified for that!”, or something to that effect. So we say our goodbyes and that’s that.

I knew the run course was going to be really hard, so I just settled into a tempo run. After about 800 meters we have to climb up this stupid-steep cliff-side. there’s a trail there, but you literally had to get on all fours to climb up some of the stuff. Lots of ppl snapping pics there of the climbing fools. I complain, but I liked it. Got to the top and most of the first mile and half of the course is very twisty and I can’t settle into a good running rhythm. Finally get out on some of the open stuff and settle into a good pace. There were 4 water/aid stations, which was great, I made a point to pour water over my head at everyone of them, since it was getting a lot hotter. I basically run the whole thing on my own, but I keep thinking that I’m gonna blow up, since I’ve recently been exploding during my runs in the last couple of tri’s I have done. Either way, it’s mostly downhill on the way back, and I was able to pick up the pace a bit. Navigating was a bit confusing, since the trail wasn’t necessarily “cut” in certain sections, it was only flagged. I did go straight through the woods at one point, and had to come back to find out where I was supposed to go, but it didn’t cost me much more than 30 seconds or so. From that point on, I just made it a point to look very closely for the red flags.

As I got back to the cliff, I initially missed it, but a course marshal was close by and alerted me to it. It was kind of cool, because they had it roped off, with a rope down the middle that you could use to semi-rappel down it.

Made it all the way down, back into park, and was feeling really good at this time, so basically ran/sprinted in the last 300 meters or so. I knew I was racing against guys that had started ahead of me, so I gave it everything.

Wound up 4th overall, 2nd in my wave, and 1st in my age group, so I was happy. There was also pizza and beer at the finish pavilion, neither of which I had had in over a month (since my last Thumper Thursday). It was good. To top it off, the awards were English pint glasses (that’s 20 ounces!), which I happily filled. Damned enablers.

It was a really well run event, kudos to Mike Carter and Doug H. and everyone of their volunteers. There’s actually some hope (slim chance, but it’s there) that we’ll get to keep some of the new trails, but that’s a very big maybe since it’s on golden-cheeked warbler nesting grounds.


The Broken Spoke

Rode from Sunspot to Timberon and back. Just couldn't get enough of that descent.

About a mile after turning around, I broke a rear spoke on my paired spoke wheel. That means the wheel starts rubbing the chainstay. Gave Kathy the keys and told her to go on without me, and come back for me if I wasn't able to fix it or catch her. Had to MacGyver the spokes with my chain/spoke tool, since my nipples are special and the spoke tool didn't fit it. Managed to loosen 3 spokes enough so no more rubbing happened. Loosened the rear brake (won't need that going uphill) and took off. Had to ignore the bump in my wheel, since my wheel was no longer perfectly round.

Eventually caught up to Kathy an hour later.

Snuck up on her.

I don't think I scared her.




Over the Hump

5000 feet of climbing. I was at 4980 when i got back to the motel, so i went up a hill just for what i needed.

After getting to Sunspot, got to descend for half an hour. Probably not good to take pictures in this situation.

Got to Timberon, turned around for the 32 mile ride home. First 15 miles meant i had to get over and above that thing in the distance.
The Hump

Day before on the 4th, we went for a run and to Ruidoso in the afternoon.

White Sands in the distance.
A couple of minutes after this picture was taken, i look over my right shoulder to see some dude on the curb pointing at Paquito. I look at Paquito and he's perched with all 4 legs on the window.



Legs really are starting to feel it now. I'm hoping day 4 at altitude is the hump for me and I can start going down that hump. Unfortunately, for every sweet downhill out here, is a nasty uphill. But it actually reminds me of one of my favorite things I've learned mountain biking...you climb so you can descend.

But well, Cloudcroft is the high point around here...you wind up descending so you can climb. That's messed up.





Wanna buy a house???

I would love to do the whole 16 miles downhill, but well, that means i gotta climb back up. And well, it's steep and it's long, i think that's the point their trying to make.


I bet I could go this fast:


Run Forest Run!

The forest is open!


Another storm is a brewin'

We got pea-sized hail when we got back to the motel.

I set a land-speed record going down hill.


Warm Apple Pie

Our Altimeters acutally showed 3800 feet climbed, oh well. Longer ride than yesterday, but more gradual climbs, except for one bitch of a hump to climb to get over to Weed.

Started with a 17 mile downhill in sunny weather all the way to Mayhill. Took the right turn onto 130, which basically started some false flats and rollers.

Kathy was feeling really strong early on. She decided to give me "The Look."
The Look

Got to the turnoff to do the 10 mile out-and-back to Weed, who can resist?
Weed Sign

This dude from McAllen saw us on the road and decided to join us. I think he said he was the 2001 TMBRA state champ. He was strong, and he proceeded to repeatedly tell us how much the next climb was gonna suck. And after that climb, he told us the next climb really sucked. And on and on.
This is gonna suck

Well it did suck indeed, not horrible, but it was steep and long all right. Steepest, longest climb we've done, so far. We had to get up and over that ridge.
Weed is on the other side

But then there was another ridge on the other side. Anyway, here are some pics.
Lower Slopes
More Climbing
Going There
Going There 2

We were down there. No, not there, way over to the right, way to the bottom.
We Come From Down There

And it was still gonna suck.
We Go Up There

Anyway, we made it down the nice descent into Weed. I don't know what it was about that town, but it gave us the munchies. So we went to the Post Office/Convenience Store/Weed Cafe and each had a slice of warm apple pie.

Climb back on over. The descent was nice, and was over really quick.

Here we are back at the bottom, and the climb up and over (and back up and over) Denny Hill (that's what the people of Weed called it), getting ready to ride back to Cloudcroft. By this point, we're over 2 hours into the ride, and we've gone past Kathy's limit. But we've got another 20 miles and 2000 feet to go past that limit. Notice the clouds in the distance. It had been really nice earlier, and now it was pretty hot down at 6300 feet, but it was getting ready to get colder.
Storm's a Brewin'

It was pretty damn cool though, it was like the damn tour...camera's getting too close to the riders as usual.
Camera Too Close

The camera loves us. I almost pulled a Virenque, or that other french dude that plays to the camera, and started to wag my tongue.
Turn The Screw

Peace Out Mofos!
Peace Out Mofos

p.s. Started thundering later, and rained hard enough to pull out the baggies for our camera, phones, ipod, fax machine, and had to pull on the vests and arm warmers. Left the rain jacket behind, to make room for the camera. It was worth it. This time at least.