Archive for April, 2012

Big Frog 65 report

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , on April 30, 2012 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley


I went ahead and got up at 5:45am on Friday to get in a quick road ride…not so much for fitness but actually to help make me sleep good later that night.  Upon waking up I noticed that the strap on my Timex Global Trainer GPS watch was broken.  This would be the first of several things that didn’t go my way that day.  We’ll just call that #1.

#2:  All morning my stomach felt bloated and squeamish.  Then at lunch, I had to immediately get up from the table and head to the restroom after just a few bites of salad.  A wave of nausea came over me so hard and so fast that it was like nothing I had felt before.  After splashing water on my face, I went ahead and left the restaurant in a hurry out of fear that I might vomit if I didn’t make a quick exit.  I texted my coworkers from the parking lot to let them know where I was, and to also tell them that they almost were victims of a projectile vomiting episode which would have been a little embarrassing for all of us.

Driving up to TN was long and torturous, having to pull over several times to dry heave or douse my face with ice water.  After finally making it to the race check-in, I went to my hotel to try to rest and to go ahead and throw up what was in my system.  (As well as some bad stuff from the other end of my body).

#3:  T-shirts were not yet available for race participants, so they will have to be mailed at a later date.  Somehow I’m sure I’ll get screwed by this and my shirt will never arrive….always seems to happen like that.

#4:  The lever on my hotel door turned out to be broken, meaning I lost precious minutes waiting on someone to fix it while I was just dying to get inside to use the toilet.  The temporary solution involved duct tape of course.  At least the deadbolt still worked.

#5:  No freaking AC in the hotel room….somehow I got the room with the broken window unit.  To top things off, this was definitely not a non-smoking room.  Ever been sick to your stomach and been forced to breathe second-hand smoke?  Not fun.

#6:  Let the nosebleeding begin.  Not sure why, but that night my nose would start bleeding.

I managed to eat a Snicker’s bar for a late afternoon lunch, along with a small Coke Icee.  Then a few hours later I picked up some spaghetti from a nearby restaurant but could only manage to eat maybe half of it until my stomach started retching again.  Having burned around 700 calories that morning while on my road ride, and having only an apple, a Snicker’s bar, a Coke Icee, and a little spaghetti being the only calories I took back all day, I knew that my energy would be low come race time.  But, after paying my entry fee and checking into the hotel, I knew I was determined to go ahead with my plans to show up to ride.

(Incidentally – the stomach issues turned out to be food poisoning from the best I can tell….several other folks who ate at Moe’s SW Grill on Thursday night had stomach problems on Friday.  One of them, Tim Cotton, was supposed to race in the Big Frog but was up all night Friday and had to bail out).


I woke up rather early (i.e. 3:30am) with another nosebleed and just laid in bed until around 5:30.  Then I got dressed and ate a banana and a piece of wheat bread.  It was really all I could handle at the moment, with my stomach still being fairly sensitive.  I had hoped to store away more calories, but would have to settle for just the minimums.  While waiting for the race to begin I was able to consume some EFS drink mix and a few twizzlers, so not all was lost.

The race started out with the usual 3 miles of pavement to break up the pack…the first two of which were uphill.  I started near the back of the pack since I was unsure of how I would feel, but worked my way up past probably 50 people by the time we hit singletrack.  I took it fairly easy on the first 15 or so miles, not so much because I wanted to but mostly due to slower traffic ahead of me.  It always frustrates me how so many people will gun it from the start, only to hit singletrack and then stink up the joint.  But sitting in the 20-person slow train of riders there wasn’t much I could do until we got a few openings to pass.

After the obligatory photo op, I stashed my arm warmers away and downed a gel.  Then it was another few miles of trail until crossing the suspension bridge for several more miles.  I hit Aid Station #1 (maybe 23 miles in) behind schedule, but actually feeling pretty good.  I wolfed down a few pretzel sticks and then began the long nasty gravel climbs of the day.

The first stop at the Big Frog Aid Station arrived not a moment too soon, as I really was in need of some fresh water.  My rear derailleur was really jumping gears by now, but the mechanic had his hands full so I just decided to ride through it.  After grabbing half of a PBJ sandwich I began the worst 15 miles of the race….seemingly all uphill on never-ending gravel roads.  Granted, I know it wasn’t all uphill because I ended up at the same aid station again, but it sure seemed like it.

Having been too tired on Friday to remember to submit a drop bag, I had to rely on a banana, gel, and a few sips of Coke to get going again.  By now I was really starting to cramp bad and had to take it extremely easy on the long steep climbs to come.  Due to having to drop down to my granny gear to avoid cramping at even the slightest of hills, I undoubtedly lost 20 to 30 minutes of time when I should have been grinding away on my 32-tooth chainring with a cog or two to spare.  As a matter of fact, some guys from Kentucky that I had passed early on the trail (i.e. after the slow trail train) reeled me in and ended up finished 30 minutes faster than me.  These guys were not more fit than me, and definitely not faster, but they didn’t suffer through the cramping and lack of nutrition that began to take its toll on me.

Getting to the final 7 or 8 miles of singletrack gave me a real boost of energy.  Just going from the bland gravel roads to some really sweet trail was enough to bring some life back to my legs.  I finished strong on the Thunder Rock Express and managed to pass a number of folks in the process.  When I began the race, my main objective was to finish it.  After a couple of hours I changed my goal to become a sub-8-hour finish.  In the end, I finished in 7:13 so I was happy with the results considering the circumstance.  I’m looking forward to next year when I will hopefully knock it down to 6:30 to 6:45.  Hopefully some of the team members will be there for the camaraderie as well.

Next stop for me is getting my gears smooth again and then hitting another 65 miles in the Skyway Epic race in May.


Ebsco property trail exploring

Posted in ride reports on April 3, 2012 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

This past Saturday I was able to duck out (by myself unfortunately) for a couple of hours on the trails and forest roads in the Ebsco property along Double Oak Mountain.  Being one of only a handful of permit holders, I usually have the trails all to myself.  Such would be the case today.

Riding alone is nothing new to me, though when I decide to look for new trails or roads to explore like on this ride, I tend to ride a little more cautiously than I might while at Oak Mountain State Park or some other higher-trafficked trail spot.

Starting from my house in Mt Laurel, I took Hwy 41 to the Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail.  From near the trailhead, it was straight up the mountain until I intersected with one of the dirt roads (which happens to lead down to the backside of Jones Valley Urban Farm).  Then along the ridge, ultimately picking up the paved Double Oak Way for a couple of miles.  Basically just the same ride start that I typically do when up there.

Rather than picking up the gravel road shortly before the cell phone tower, which leads to both of the ridges and ultimately past several power line crossings, I elected to take the first downhill dirt forest road on the right.  I had been on this road a few times before several years ago, but had never seen it in its entirety.  Having ridden enough of the trails and roads on this property in the past, I figured it would lead me down to Hwy 43.

It turned out to be a great downhill ride, at one point intersecting with a small creek (maybe 10 to 12 feet wide).  Actually, before I had to cross the creek, I could have taken a small doubletrack trail back uphill to the left.  See photo below of this doubletrack trail which I decided not to take….need to explore it next time.

After turning around and getting back on the main downhill road, I crossed the creek and eventually reached the end of the trail at a power line easement.  I could see Hwy 43 through the trees and simply took a right at the power lines until there was a clearing through the woods.  This put me at Ebsco Gate 2 across Hwy 43, which lead to a maze of forest service roads.  There was even some singletrack and doubletrack to be found.  I could have explored the roads for many miles, but time was limited and I figured it would also be more fun to come back with some of the guys.  On the second map below you will see several places where I took a road and turned around.  This was not due to the road ending, but rather I just decided to turn around and see what else there was to explore.  I can’t wait to come back and do some more in-depth riding in this area.

After a few miles of messing around on the roads and trails, I ended up intersecting with Hwy 43 again.  I turned right (northeast) and made my way to Ebsco Gate 5.  I’ve ridden up from Gate 5 numerous times, usually having to hop off of my bike on a couple of very steep, but short, sections.  This time however, I was able to ride the entire distance….the rainfall of the previous night made the trail just tacky enough to provide optimum grip on the uphills.  I still had to somehow lean forward for leverage while also leaning back to keep my weight on the seat.  Probably looked like some sort of time trialing rubber chicken stretched out along the top of my bike.

After a right-hand turn near the top of the Gate 5 climb, and then a left turn at the top of the final crazy steep section, I ended up at the cell tower.  From there it was a few miles of pavement as I worked my way down Double Oak Way to Hwy 41 and back home.  All told over 20 miles of fun riding.  Not exactly a great training ride due to me taking my time and exploring, but with Big Frog 65 coming up I could still find some benefit from 2+ hours in the saddle.

overall ride map

Gate 2 ride area

Gate 5 ride area

there were miles of this on the south side of Gate 2

near the top of the Gate 5 climb

muddy legs + muddy bottom bracket = fun ride