Monday, October 25, 2010

Mountain Biking and An Antelope Among the Cheetahs

Even though I promised to publish at least weekly blog posts for my 2 dedicated readers (my wife and my mom) it has been over a week and a half and the blog has been silent . Well I have to admit, after the excitement of the Antelope World Cup, I needed a refractory period to recover. Had there been an internet when I was teenager, I am sure I would have been able to blog several times a day. I was literally bursting with content. As a young man I could have easily blogged once a day. Now, as I approach my middle years, the refractory times between blogs seems to grow ever longer. In fact I am lucky if I can blog twice a week.

I realize there are other guys who are my age but can still blog every day. I totally respect these guys who  must have an extraordinary level of...content. Not everyone is blessed with high levels of content and we just have to make do. Of course it is well known that most women can easily blog about 26 days in a row, and, if they choose could blog several times a day. Most women, however, choose not to blog as much as they are physically able, preferring to blog only if they have some really good content.

Despite my refractory period, I have managed to keep riding regularly and had a great cycling weekend.  Like many avid cyclists, I go “both ways.” Yes, in addition to being a roadie, I mountain bike.  In October, the call of the single track becomes overwhelming, so when a buddy suggested a trip to Western North Carolina- I was ready to go.  I had all the ingredients for a perfect mountain bike weekend: 4.5 inches of suspension front and back (this is my minimum for even a sidewalk), beautiful weather, and a biking buddy with predilection for strippers and  beer. My buddy, who for confidentiality’s sake let’s just call "Haun" has his family and work colleagues fooled into thinking he is a mild mannered, somewhat geeky, and dedicated family man. But get him up in the mountains away from the diapers with some knobby tires and his inner beast erupts.

Single track ,strippers, and Beer, Bring it On!

For those roadies who wonder about mountain biking, you can find an indispensable guide from a talented blogger by clicking here.  The riding and the scenery was beautiful. Here is a view from one of Tsali’s look over points.

Hardly anyone falls off the side of the mountain into that lake. The trails are pretty and fast and mellow actually.

 At night it was a bit nippy and the strippers kept complaining they were cold so we built a roaring fire.

Fires burn upside down in NC

Because I am deeply dedicated to my relationship with MHW (“My Hot Wife”) I was a good boy and neither looked at the strippers below the neck or touched any part of them.  So I am unable to provide any pictures.   From my friend Haun’s description, however, they were true HillBilly beauties. Here is an artist's rendering of them:
You fellers want a lap dance?

Although I can’t provide any pictures of the strippers I can show you a naked and racey  up shot of my mountain bike, from the rear:
Over 4 inches of travel and ready to ride

Three days of mountain biking proved to be great training for the real challenge of the season, preparing to be the last Antelope dropped at the Winter Bike League rides. This past weekend I decided to go to the “Day After Ride” which is the Sunday ride following Single File Saturday (the summer WBL) so I could begin getting used to riding with the Cheetahs. I wanted to make a good impression on the local Cheetahs, so in order to prepare I visited my special advice web site:

I learned that wardrobe is key if you want credibility in fast pelotons.   So I made sure that my high viz, Nashbar jersey was clean. I found that I had other important equipment that would mark me as a fast guy worthy of respect including an adjustable stem, hairy legs, and non-bib shorts. I was looking and feelin fast!

Whose the Fred now baby! Let's ride!
I was a bit nervous in the Jittery Joe’s  parking lot. At first it looked like the ride wasn’t going to happen-- only one other rider was there but he informed me that cheetah rides don’t start until 15 minutes after the posted time and that most cheetahs don’t show up until 14 minutes after. Also cheetahs almost always ride to the start of a ride. I was really learning a lot. Sure enough at 9:14, the head cheetah arrived.

Good morning gentlemen.

He was actually a very nice fellow. I did notice later during the ride that he seemed to have some sort of lower leg deformity. There were lumps growing out of his calves.  I didn’t get a picture while we were riding but they looked kind of like this:

I was worried that this deformity might affect the poor guy’s speed and decided if he had any troubles I would go back and pull him to the group. It turns out those leg lumps are actually muscles and they really help pedal a bike.   I wondered if they were the result of some of those experiments I read about on the internet where someone injects their body with stem cells. If that’s the case, I hope he is being careful. I heard there have been some really bad results with stem cell injections. For example, here is a picture of a woman, who as a young girl had anal stem cells injected in an area above the shoulders:

Overall, I was quite relieved when only 6 people showed for the ride and everyone was over 40. I figured maybe the pace would be mellow. We started out a reasonable pace but the head cheetah really hammers no matter who is in the group. So I grabbed a wheel and prayed for flat terrain. Another interesting thing I learned was that Cheetahs don’t need to eat or drink on rides.  I have to drink a ton, as I am what is known as a “heavy sweater.” Here is a picture of me during a typical winter work day.

So I have had to develop a special system for hydration since I require a gallon bottle of water per hour I ride. Here is my special concept design bottle cage, which I refer to as my "hydration system":

Anyway, with my hi viz jersey, adjustable stem, and gallon jugs nothing could stop me from riding in top form.  It was a beautiful fall morning and with the Cheetah King pulling us through the wind we did 40 miles at a 20 mph average.  Despite a couple of iffy moments, when I cried quietly to myself  , I managed to stay with the pride the whole time.

So I plan to keep on training. Next Saturday the Cheetahs are doing the Jittery Joe’s Fall Classic, an ideal time to try and grab hold of some cheetah wheels and see if Ican do a metric in a 3 hours (saddle time that is, gotta get a banana and a refill at the midway sag). Any antelopes want to join me?

Pedal Hard

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Dateline Watkinsville:
Jeff Y. aka "Jeffy" dominated the final stage of the Antelope Fall Classic. This is only the latest installment in the story of Jeffy, one that I know most of us have been following in the Sunday funnies for decades:

Even at a young age Jeffy was known for really getting around, a wanderlust that would later be translated into cycling

 Yes Jeffy’s OCD would lead him to strange behaviors such as interval training with a heart rate monitor and soon it is alleged that he will be training with a power meter. But none of these things prepared the Antelope herd on Wednesday for Jeffy’s completely new take on sheer elegance.

Do these shorts make the back of my thighs look fast?

Approximately 15 riders got to appreciate the back of Jeffy’s thighs during Wednesday’s  final stage of the 2010 edition of the Antelope Fall Classic. Coming into the final stage BenG and Jeffy were knotted up in 24 to 24 point tie after BenG failed to sign in at last week’s race. Ben was claiming illness.

Dude, seriously I'm just too sick to ride today, Jeffy can have the points

Would it have mattered anyway? On Elder Mill BenG, Jeffy, BenS, and the spring Antelope King, Spinmaster Shiver began gapping the field at the sharp incline on the first climb. Crying for mercy, I was once again almost able to catch the last wheel of the breakaway  group. Then,  10 feet from the top of the hill, I was watching the gap grow and as the breakaway took off without me.

Missed it by that much!
BenG   (let’s call him Benjie, like the fluffy dog from the movies) was marking Jeffy’s back wheel like a lion in new territory or my angry cat on a sweaty jersey left on the floor by the litter box. As they hit the first roller, Benjie launched a blistering attack and when Jeffy countered, Benjie dropped his chain, yelling "wait, wait, your supposed to wait for the yellow jersey!" But Jeffie was gone, following the attacking wheels of BenS and Spin.

The cycling world was immediately abuzz as riders stopped to post to twitter. Should Jeffy have waited? Will the Hide Jersey be tainted by a breach of etiquette? Will it matter if Jeffy’s shorts are found by the UCI to be Lewd and Performance Disturbing Apparel  (LAPDA) resulting in disqualification and a 2 year ban from attending pole dancing class?

As the breakaway rounded the bend to the uphill finish, Jeffy stamped his authority on the peloton with a mighty hoof, taking the line with ease.  With double points he was now 6 points ahead of Benjie.

Damn chain

Back in the pack with the normal humans, Bethany who had been secretly training in the gaps knew she was too far down in the queen competition, but she did have one more chance to assert her dominance over the Antelope Commissioner.   While I was desperately and despondently watching the gap between me and the breakaway grow larger with every wheeze, Bethany came spinning by.

Is that you wheezing Steve? Do you need an inhaler?
Feeling every testicle in my body (unlike other males I have 7) shrivel with the sight, I summoned my last remaining fast twitch muscle fiber to get out of the saddle and grab her wheel.   With 50 yards of flat I was able catch my breath and when there was short downhill I had my chance to use my one awesomely superior trait (I am at least 70 pounds heavier than Bethany) to pass her and establish my own gap. Of course I played it cool.

 Oh hi Bethany, I didn’t know that was you ahead of me, nice ride huh?

Once again I locked up 7th place on the elder Mill sprint. Bethany took the queen of the mountain double sprint points (2).After regrouping on Saxon, the herd picked up speed and sped down Astondale into a pink sunset. The chill in the air, speeding along to beat the sunset, every antelope had that special feeling only cyclists can understand.

(to the tune of Lucy in the Sky) Picture yourself, on a bike on some tarmac…
The GC contenders stayed tight at the front turning on to Bishop and the pace accelerated for the final sprint of the season. I’m sure it was very exciting up at the front but after about .5k at 28mph I had several testicles shrink again and was unable to view the finish. After locking up 7th place once again I was informed that Jeffy  took his 2nd sprint of the day, 6 more points and the coveted hide jersey of the Antelope competition.

After an early attack by Kathleen which  took too much out of her, Karen claimed the woman’s sprint points but Kathleen, coming into today’s stage well ahead in the Queen competition  was ready for her coronation.

After a quick stop in the parking lot we “herded” over to Chops and Hops, a restaurant so cool we’re still trying to figure out how it could actually be in Watkinsville. Over beer and burgers we saw the passing of the crowns as Old royalty passed the torch on to new royalty. Here is the old antelope king, Spinmaster, anointing Jeffy who had changed out of his special shorts lest he get molested by one of the waitresses:

I dub thee King of the Herd!

Long live the King!
This tear inducing ceremony was soon followed by the Queenly coronation of Kathleen by Bethany.

Notable riders included Benjie in second place, Marky in third, and TonyG in fourth. Reverend Lenny contested every stage as kid Valoree and Kathleen. A host of plucky antelopes were honored with “Distinguished Herd Member” medals (cannot be sold on ebay) for their participation.

I know we are all filled with both a sense of afterglow and just a bit sadness now that this journey has ended. But this is really just a beginning.  Over 50 riders, average age in the mid 40's participated in the Classic, many of whom had never averaged 20mph on a ride. Week after week almost everyone came in together in rides that always averaged at least 19.5 and hit as high 20.3. This just proves that wherever an antelope heart beats, there will be the clank of poorly adjusted derailleurs, the hum of hubs spinning down country roads, and the determined wheeze of a rider who is going to get up that grade faster than last week.  This month Antelopes will continue to gather on Wednesdays, they will ride the Sowhatchet Century with the Band of Bostwick Bad Boys (Oct 23), guzzle Terrapin Rye after hammering the Jittery Joe’s Fall Classic, and most importantly continue training for this winter's Survivor: Antelope. Throughout the winter I will report survival rates as Distinguished Herd Members  suck wheel with Athens cycling elite on the Sat WBL rides.

In the meantime check the Antelope Athens Blog for at least once per week posts on the exploits of the Antelopes on roads near you.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Antelope Fall Classic Stage 6: Rushing towards the climax

Few words describe the end of a competitive group ride or even more so, the end of a series of competitive group rides like the two syllable semiotic gem: climax.

Now there are all kinds of climaxes in cycling, some of which should be avoided.

What do you expect me to do when I don't get to compete in the Antelope Fall Classic?

Others may be unexpected though of dubious safety.

"This feels just like a Stage  of the Antelope Classic"

 Some people will equip their bikes just to experience a climax

Official Seat Post of Antelopes Everywhere

Like all great climaxes, the excitement has been building now for nearly two months. Next week, it will all be over. It seems like just yesterday when ErikS, intrepid investigative reporter for the Oconee Enterprise wrote his dynamic expose on the Antelope phenomenon. Thanks to artful scanning, the full text is now available right here (I will also try to post it somehow on the standing pages at the top of the blog).

So what happened on the penultimate stage of the Antelope Fall Classic?

20 riders gathered in the perfect weather to contest an abbreviated course, designed to beat the shortening days. Four new riders joined the herd, old friends Karen T and Alan B as well as new friends Michael K and BradE.  Notably, BradE was young enough to be the offspring of 70% of the riders. Quite a mouth on that kid...

Hey Daddio, gonna crack you like an egg
The big news, however, was the mysterious absence of GC leader BenG. Evidently, there is some gossip that BenG may have consumed some tainted beef, making him temporarily ineligible to participate.

Nooooo, I'll lose my lead on the GC

Second place antelope JeffY saw  an opportunity for glory and MarkY determined to continue his chase for the top of the podium. Both seemed unsurprised by BenG's absence.
Jeff: "Did you get to his meat?" Mark: "Hee hee hee"

We took off from the courthouse and skipped Old Bishop, flying down Colham Ferry for nearly 10 miles at a 20 mph average. Elder Mill played out with a now familiar script, BenS, JeffY, and MarkY took on off their own leaving the peloton in the dust. KarenT flew up the hill and found herself in the chase 1 group eventually taking the Antelope Queen of the Mountain Sprint Point.
Way to go Karen!

Friendly Cheetah John R, the mild mannered though speedy Cat 4, hung back looking for stray chasers to pull into the wind of the long uphill finish. Cleverly, John managed to find the point-giver and tow his fat buttocks down the road a spell.

Far up the road, without BenG it was a three man race. At the tape:
1st BenS   3 points
2nd Jeff     2 ponts
3rd  Marky 1 point

Dusk began to settle as the herd regrouped on Saxon and sped towards town. The pace was high from the start of the Bishop sprint with final speeds exceeding 38mph!  Once again JohnR took a power pull, slinging the pack over the mid point roller at 25 mph. As tired antelopes began to crack, Tony took over with a tense attack with Mark on his wheel. At the line, Mark came around for the victory.

1st  Marky   3 points
2nd  Tony   2 points
3rd  Jeff     1 point

Kathleen, furious over her crushing defeat on Elder Mill,  grabbed a handful of Karen's hair 10m behind the line, catapulting herself into a Queen of the Herd Sprint point.

Average speed over 23 miles? 20mph. To date, 52 riders have contested stages of the Antelope Fall Classic. With a 4 point performance, JeffY ties BenG for the GC lead going into the final stage next Wednesday. With a 5 point performance, Marky is now just 3 points behind.

Who will be the Antelope King? Next week the competition will be fierce as Antelopes leave it all on the road before the long winter takes our evening rides away. We will further abridge the route, going out directly on Colham Ferry and turning left on Jerusalem which will take us to Watson Springs.  Of course the full sprints will still be there.

SPECIAL NEWS: Next Wednesday, the final stage will offer double points for both participation and sprint podia. You won't want to miss this one. After the ride we will gather at Chops and Hops, one block from the courthouse in the center of Watkinsville, to toast the winners and distribute, Antelope Bling

You know you want me!

We will recognize, First, Second, and Third in the overall GC, Queen of the Herd, and 11 Distinguished Herd Member participants. All antelopes that medal must agree not to sell their hardware on ebay.
Cannot be sold on Ebay for any price
What will happen to the antelope blog after the series is over?
Good question, glad I asked myself. The blog will live on with at least once a week Antelope posts including Antelope training rides as we prepare for our assault on the WBL. I definitely plan to report on relative survival rates among the Antelope Herd as we ride with the Athens Elite.

This Saturday (tomorrow) join us at the Courthouse at a new time: 9:30AM for 62 miles at about 18mph. We will go out to Rutledge and then wind around towards Monroe and come back on New High Shoals. Cue sheets will be available.

Bike hard and don't forget to come in ride next Wednesday at 6 for the final stage.