Whiteface Symmetry

When last we were at the Wilmington Whiteface 100k, I was crossing the finish line, wet, muddy and riding a bike that sounded like it came from a “big box store”.

Wilmington 2016 finish2a

There was a lot of symmetry in this race and the Wilmington Whiteface 100k race I did. It rained in both. I was slow in both (ho humm). And……


There was a copper coin waiting for me at the end. And in a weird symmetry way. I was racer 34,  who won entry 43. (I also note that my overall finish place was 234. Weird.)

So, I am officially a liar, because there will be a rematch.

A Little Gift I Have or How Was Your Father’s Day Weekend Doug?

My super power is the ability to pack. I can always find room for more. But this post isn’t really about my super power. It IS about a littler gift I have. The gift is the ability to state the totally obvious. Like this, after I finished Leadville I said “it was hard”. Ok news flash.

I used my gift Saturday night when I looked at Coreen and said, “well this isn’t how I expected to be spending my Saturday night.” OK, so that’s not super obvious without some context. I mean really maybe we ended up at a concert by chance that was awesome.

Nope the context here is REALLY important. I told Coreen this while we were in the local ER and I was the patient. With that context in mind it was a fantastically stupidly obvious thing to say. I mean who plans to spend a Saturday night in the ER?

This is my long winded way of saying that I missed writing a post last week well because I was having a medical issue. Namely I had some swelling in my face along my right jaw that was getting worse and worse. I violated my most important RULE about DOCTORS several times (there were no bones sticking out and there was no blood) and saw a couple of doctors (a friend who is a ER doc Thursday night, my regular doctor Friday morning, the official ER doctor Saturday night and a ENT doctor in a different state sometime early Sunday morning).

All that got in the way of my riding (well the second head I was growing also got in the way my helmet making biking something of an interesting act) and writing and generally having a good time this weekend. I’d post a picture but some things are better left unseen.

Now the good news in all of this is that we found out what was causing the swelling, removed the sources, and we think things are getting back to normal. Just a hint, I’m not all the way done with Whiteface story for this year yet.

Wilmington Whiteface 100k: “Noah’s Ark Edition”

It’s rare that you get a weather forecast that predicts a 100% chance of rain. It seams like even when a hurricane is bearing down on you there is only something like a 80% chance on rain. So the weather forecast for Wilmington (100%) was pretty bold.

I figured there were a couple of good things about having rain in the forecast: 1. Not everybody would show up (thereby increasing my chances of getting a Leadeville spot); and, 2. Not everybody would finish (thereby increasing my chances of getting a Leadville spot). The only real drawback was having to ride in the rain and mud. The temps were forecast in the mid 50’s. I hate biking in a rain coat if I can avoid it, so I went long sleeve jersey, no rain coat. (BTW, that FC long sleeve jersey is the BEST long sleeve jersey I own. It was warm, even when wet.)

Wilmington 2016 Clean a

The gun went off at 7 am sharp. The rain started (literally) when the gun went off. I have documented the race course before. Say here for example. So I’m not really going to talk a lot about the course. But….. there are 4 major climbs in this race. The first was a dream (good). The rain tamped the sand and dust down. The road was tacky and the traction was good. The second was also in great shape. 1:30 into the race and the rain was a non factor.

Wilmington 2016 cant see

And then we got to the top of the second climb and the a very different dream came into focus. I rode the first half of the course a couple of weeks ago and knew that this section was rough. It was still rough, except that now it was also a muddy mess. This transitioned into the downhill, and that folks is where the wheels became….. completely unnecessary.

The road had deep ruts and now those ruts were filled will rivers of mud. The line you took down the descent was largely dictated by which mud river rut your wheel was in. In a lot of ways it was like being on luge run. Steering? Completely ineffective. OK, to be fair it wasn’t like a luge run. You can steer a luge sled. It was like a bobsled run (you cannot steer a bobsled🙂 ). When I got to the bottom I looked at the guy next to me.

“I wonder if my face looks like yours.”

“Don’t know, all I see is mud.”

On the back side of Jay Mountain the roads were soft with a 1″ layer of mud. The net effect was that going downhill felt like biking on a flat, going on a flat felt like biking uphill. The turn around is a 3 mile section of “single track” that was really a muddy swamp. Then back up the river of mud.

Wilmington 2016 smile a

(Yes I AM smiling in the pictures from this race.)

Bike started to get really upset at this point. Every pedal stroke was accompanied by grinding (on my NEW cranks, NEW chain and NEW rear cassette). Shifting was a 3 step process: Index down, index up lightly (to release the cable so it could actually index down) and then index down again. I was in good shape though, I still had brakes (which many people lost).

The course “firmed” back up once we got back over Jay Mountain. My time wasn’t great but I was feeling good. Down the Jay Mountain descent back into Wilmington. Up over the last major climb. Into the Hardy Road “Trails” (i.e. mud pits). Then back to Whiteface to finish the day. We ride a set of trails called the Flume Trail. I was wondering if that one would be cut out of the race. It parallels a river and is ALWAYS wet/muddy, even when the world is dry. Those trails ended up being the best single track we rode during the day.

The final section is on Whiteface. Every year it seams like they change the end, never really finding the right mix. This year they carved a bit of trail that went up, down and then up the lower portion of the ski mountain. I rode it on Saturday to see what it was like. Like? Steep, loose, rocky and tight. Fun in the right conditions. A day of rain? Not the right conditions…. As I rode onto the mountain I realized they bypassed this new little section (yeah!) and I entered the final single track right before the finish.

That section, well it sucks in dry conditions. It is deeply rooted with a really soft surface. In wet conditions it was a nightmare. I did wrap myself around a small tree in a slow motion crash. Nothing serious. I went conservative and walked some. Only bad things would happen at that point.

And then onto the finish.

Wilmington 2016 finish2a

Wilmington 2016 finish1a

See, I got a medal and everything…

Wilmington 2016 finished

And that is where the real adventure BEGINS (and this episode ends……)

5 Hours in 7 Springs

Remarkably there are not a lot of bike races in my neck of the woods. That’s remarkable because we have some awesome trails. It seams like we should have more races.

My dream is to have a endurance lap race on one of our trail systems. I’ve been thinking and plotting about what a perfect loop would be. Something that takes “an hour” so that if you ride fast enough you get an extra lap. If you ride a little too slow you don’t. Something that has challenging climbs. Something that has “buff” single track. And if possible something that has really flowy downhills.

One of our trail systems up here has all the elements of that dream in it. Elements. But its going to take some work.

Last week I needed to put in a 5 hour ride to prep for the Whiteface race (this Sunday, Yikes!) and I decided to take that opportunity to try out one idea I have for the endurance race lap. The day started off with a little jaunt on the road to the local hill climb. You know, something to warm the legs up. This was followed up by 5 laps.

Here is the profile (ignore the first 17 miles to warm the legs up):


The race lap starts with a steep climb on a two track trail lovingly called “The Climber”. This is a rocky two track that has a couple of really deep puddles on it pretty much 365 days a year. Bike Eating Puddles. The Climber also has a couple of really really steep pitched, baby head sections. You need to look up the trail, pick and line and keep your pedals turning. Nice and technical.

The lap then transitions to “Charlie’s Trail”. Charlie’s is my favorite trail right now. It’s what I would call a intermediate/advanced trail. It has a couple of technical pitches, some flowy sections, and beautiful sites. It’s  a trail that is fun to ride and would be fun to race. The loop then dumps out onto some dirt roads. Its a fast return to the start line with a short but very sketchy downhill section.

I did the lap 5 times. The good parts: The Climber got harder each time. Nice. Charlies run stayed fun each time. Double nice. The bad: The course is too short. It took me about 42 minutes to run, at a fun but not race pace. Too short.

What I really want to do is this: At the end of Charlies is a trail called Kenny’s Climb. That trail parallels Charlies and can be taken back up to the top of the mountain. Its a good trail but it has some pretty technical moves on it and some I am not sure are rideable by anything but a pro-rider (I could be wrong, but I’m not seeing most people bunny hopping up a 2.5 ft ledge).It also has a “skinny” on it that I detest. It’s too skinny (about 4 inches wide) and it’s not straight. Hey in theory I’m all for some challenging bits. And I know that the skinny hate I have is emotional. But asking me to look forward on a skinny and turn my bike is one step too far. Frankly I think there is a good chance someone would be hurt on this going at race pace. So Kenny’s is going to require some work.

Let’s assume you can get back up Kenny’s now you are back at the top of the hill. Did I mention this particular hill is an old ski hill? A small one, but a ski hill none the less. Clarkson owns the hill and the Clarkson Mountain Bike Club has trails on there. They have what they are calling a “flow trail” on it. Only its not really a flow trail. It’s not the kind of trail that you can take your fingers off the brakes and ride the banked, bearmed, buff trail to the bottom. But it could be (and the MTB club wants it to be). That trail dumps back off  into the start/finish line in my dream.

THAT loop would take about an hour. It would have a challenging climb, fun single track and a killer downhill run. Yeah. That’s my dream. And something that would be so worth spending say 8 hours riding in.

The road ahead

I promised to tell you about the next 24-36 months and why I am excited.


2016 has two races on the schedule right now. First is the Willmington Whiteface 100k, my annual local endurance race. I’m excited to get back and ride again after last years disappointment. I’m less excited about carrying my Zombie Apocalypse “energy reserves” through 9000 ft of elevation change, but it’s a yard stick of sorts. That’s June 4. My second scheduled race is the Hampshire 100 on August 21. Two things about this race. I did it last year and it was the most physical race I have ever done. Lots and lots of rocky gnarly single track. I’m not well suited for this race. It’s the race that I cut the course on (along with lots of other people). The prize for cutting the course (it was poorly marked and easy to cut) was free entry into this years race. I’m signed up for the 100 mile race. Why not right?

The last thing in 2016 is I am trying to see if I can get a group together for the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow. This race is done on the day we “Fall Back” and so IS the longest singe day race in existence. I know people who have done it and its supposed to be a lot of fun. I hoping to get a 4 person team together for this. We will see.


So 2017 is a year I am aiming for. There will be the Willmington Whiteface 100k, as usual. Then the A race for the year will be Leadville. Yeah, I want to go back. There are a number of reasons. First I have a friend who we are hoping will have a chance to do something really special that year, and I want to be there to support him in that. Second, the finish line of the race and I have some unfinished business to attend to. Yeah, I finished. Yeah, I met my goal time. Still I didn’t get to enjoy the finish. I have a plan and a goal for this race, but I’m keeping that close until I see how things go this year.


Right now I am looking at 2018 as an idea. I really want to do the Tour Divide. There are a lot of questions right now about that. (Like would my body hold up😉) And more importantly real concerns from my family. Those definitely need to be worked out. But yeah, I want to do this.

I look at this list and laugh (cry) a little. Leadville is the highest mountain bike race. Frog Hollow is the longest single day race. And Tour Divide is the longest single stage race. I’m definitely stupid.

So I’m back in official training. Team Bohl has again teamed up with Coach Drew for another go at it. The goals for this training are to increase my “forever” pace………. I’m sure I’ll have something to talk about on Monday with a 5 hour ride (and a “idea” on what I want to do for that one) on tap for Sunday…….

Sand (papering)

I had a chance to go down to Florida a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t really a “fun” trip so when my brother said he could arrange a low cost bike rental for my stay I jumped at the stress releasing opportunity.

I’ve biked in Florida before, but it was road biking. This was my first mountain bike opportunity. Let’s get the “there’s no mountain in Florida so how can you mountain bike” comments out of the way. It is correct, there are no mountains in Florida. In fact there are no hills in the part of Florida I was in (Ft. Lauderdale). One of the rides we did (a “Levee Ride”) had ZERO elevation gain over 30 miles. But that isn’t what makes Florida unique from a biking perspective.

Up where I live we have a lot of space. It’s relatively easy to put 10 or so miles of trails into a 100 acre area. It’s more of a trick to do something like that in a 20 acre area. Southern Florida is pretty developed and space is a premium. Both of the places we rode (Markham Park and Virginia Key) are artificial areas that were created from material dredged. Because the areas are small and there isn’t a lot of natural texture, you have to engineer trails.

The end result is that riding these trails is kind of like riding in the equivalent of a skate park. They are fun but in a different way than I am used to (Also there were actual people using them. Sharing trails? Where’s my solitude?)

Now, let’s recap here a little bit. Trails. Florida. Made from dredged material. Dredged…Florida. The trails are primarily either sand or sand stone. Really they were not too loose, so lets go with the sandstone idea. There is the set-up. OK, so I’m riding along, and my front tire washed out. Now I’ll freely admit I wasn’t super comfortable on a strange (loose) bike and on new trails with a different kind of flow than I am used to. But that had nothing to do with this fall. There was a rut in the trail that my tire went into and then washed out. It was a rather undramatic crash. Definitely not GoPro material in any way. Except for the pain and blood. You see when you fall and slide on sand stone you are doing the equivalent of sand papering your skin (40 grit by my professional estimation).

I followed my SOP. Don’t look at it, it won’t help. But I knew there were issues on my leg and arm. Dave and I rode for a little while longer (after I MacGyvered my broken shift control back onto the handlebar)  and then split up for a bit. When I finished riding I went to the trail head to wait. That’s when my arm started to burn. There was blood but also a fair bit of “foreign material” lodged in my arm. My brother’s advice was to make sure I got it all out in the shower.

I’m not sure if you have ever had to remove foreign debris from an abrasion but it sucks. (Quick author’s aside: this point came up last week in the class I was taking. Don’t rely on someone to adequately clean a wound like that on themselves. They won’t. Turns out people don’t like hurting themselves when cleaning ouchies🙂 ). My shower was a grit your teeth event. In the end I was missing skin from my lower right leg up past my arm. I’m really not sure why it is that my least dramatic crashes end up causing the most interesting marks. Four weeks later and the scabs are finally gone leaving only the permanent memories of that trip. (The knee particularly sucked in that a knee is always actuating, especially when you ride. So it was a slow healing process for that appendage.)

In the end, my advice: don’t crash and slide on sandstone.

Author’s Funny Aside: While my brother was riding I was helping a new biker on a little skills course at the trail head. At some point the irony of me talking to him about mountain biking skills while bleeding did in fact cross my mind.