Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sherwood Forest

Cross Crusade Race #3 Sherwood Forest from Burk Webb on Vimeo.

Junk Drawer

As you can tell, I'm somewhat captive from my procedure Friday, so it's another day of laying low, and in my obvious case, burning up time in front of the monitor (How I'm ready for a ride, perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday).


  • After my first visit to the electrician (good blog found here- Dr. John M), I started curbing the junk and trying to slim up, knowing that this all wasn't going in a good direction. A side I started using regularly is MyPlate out of the Livestrong platform. I really like the site because it has a substantial database of foods. You enter your food (brand or fresh), doctor the quantity as needed, and post to meal. It maintains total calories, macronutrients, fluids, exercise calorie-burned totals and gives you a ballpark "how much under/over" in a given day. I really, really like that going into dinner, you can see how much excess or not you're willing tolerate by the end of the day. I'm down about 10lbs in two weeks- yes, too much too quickly- ,but it will level off to a good rate. For life.
  • Another site I've taken a look at is the Dr.Oz phenom. He who was lauded by O now has his own show, which I've never watched, but what he does have is a "Just 10 Challenge". I think it's great that instead of focusing on LIFE-LONG CHANGES!!!!!, you have an attainable goal for someone struggling. It's like in a teacher situation. You always encourage students to organize their studies into more bite-sized chunks instead of in all 20 chapters; too much is overwhelming.  "Just 10" also have some simple tenets to live by.
**Cut out Soda
**Don't eat after 8.00 p.m. (or 3 hours before bedtime)
**Move 10min a day
**Don't eat snacks larger than your fist
**Track your weight every day

It's interesting because some of these are obvious, but for me, the snack issue is the strongest. I binge. I'll eat well for lunch, get hungry, and dive into something at 3.00 that I know isn't good. Interesting too is the lack of mention of portion control. We went to a pizza place before my test Friday so I could have a "last meal" and so Z could carbo load for his race Saturday. I swear the serving of pasta and breaksticks would feed you 3x. What did I do? I ate it all. Somewhere in these 5 I would have to add portion control. Also is the mention of daily weight. I rarely see this. Usually it's "once a week" or something.


Through a generous benefactor, I picked up a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS6. It's only available through Costco and other big box stores. After drowning my Canon S90, I've been looking for something new like the Panasonic LX5. I wanted something point-and-shoot, something of quality, and something relatively easy to use. I'm not a camera nerd. I don't know what all the settings are for and prolly won't learn them all just yet. But I do like imagine quality and I do use them, obviously, for bike rides and al aire libre. Reviews suggest that this is a solid camera with a good zoom and good imaging. The complaint I've seen is that it's not too good in indoor or low light situations, but I usually use them outside, so that's good enough for me. I'll give it a thorough work up and report in the future, hopefully mated with a nice 2-wheel adventure.

BSF Camping

This post is for myself as much as it is for other people.  I have little experience camping, but I like to do so and always want to do more when I do so. Here are some observations from our BSF trip. Ironically, not one of us took a pic of the campsite. I think we were so intent on getting calories shoveled in that we just forgot. I'm going to "red" the items I need to pay attention to next time, for me as much for you.


  • I forgot underwear. I rode down in cycling-ready bottoms, but once finished, I didn't have anything for under my pants. Going commando was doable but unsatisfactory.
  • Extra camp clothes. I didn't actually take any 'change-into' clothes, only those I wore down in the morning and those for riding. I really, really missed comfy warm clothes after a long day. That goes double on the drive home, when I wore a scratchy wool T when a soft cotton would've been blissful.
  • Change of shoes. My fault, not an oversight. I do many long days in Keen sandals. I brought wool socks for the sandals, but had to go with my newish  New Balance runner/hikers. They did better than expected, but like the clothes, a different feel would've been great.
  • I brought lots of snacks: almonds, clif bars, hostess devil food cakes, other food bars. I also brought peanut butter and bread. Much like the clothes, by the end of a hard day, none of that would have sufficed. I needed FOOD. Michael brought a larger campstove, so he made some pasta which completely bailed us out. Otherwise it would've been chocking down PB.
  • Raman. leaving the house I saw some Raman and thought how gross that would be. When we finished, I would've eat 4 packages of that crap.  While something like raman or the dehydrated eggs had too much salt for a normal meal, for 8 hours of bike time salt would be our friend and savior, so more raman next time.
  • For breakfast I ate a MountainHouse egg product. It was adequate and didn't really taste too bad, but Man, was it salty! I would eat it again, though, after a strenuous day. Mountain House has lots of products, so I might try something of theirs again for a S24O.
  • I used my Esbit portable stove for the first time. Once Michael tinkered with the fuel source it did fine. After it didn't light so great on the first attempt, he scored the top of the tablet as "kindling" and it went right after that. A tab was enough to do water for the eggs and certainly for the instant coffee.
  • The Esbit was fine, but it does need a Windscreen. I'm going to research that before I use it again. I didn't really need one in BSF, but it was super calm.
  • I used one of Michael's Starsux instant coffee tubes with my water. Dave and Michael drank some camp coffee Dave had percolated on the bigger stove. I found the camp coffee perfectly fine for one morning's worth.
  • Need to get a camp mug.
  • I was pleased here. I got the tent up easily, helped by the pebble tent pad at the campground. It made stakes going in easy. The bag did its job and the tent fly kept most of the wind out.  I did notice that the tent fly doesn't go completely to the ground around my head area, so I can imagine so rain spray splashing up, but it was dry as a bone for us, so no probs.
  • The tent pad, on the other hand, left to be desired. I had purchased one of those ultra-light foldable sleeping pads. This was car camping, though, so no need for ultra-light. In fact, I was pretty freakin' uncomfortable all night. If I were to car camp again, I would double up my sleeping pads and see about a smidge more comfort, maybe even for a S24O with the right bike.
  • Pillow. Take a real pillow. Really.
That about does it. It's interesting because I packed more for a bike camping trip, with lower weight and functionality as though I was on the bike. Instead, we car camped, and with that you have so much more space.  I think it was good for me, though, to practice more like conditions of a S24O, b/c if I'm going to bike camp, that's the way I'll pack for such a trip.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

State of the Nation

I actually posted the messages below yesterday, or tried to post, but it didn't do so, so I post it this morning with the follow-up.  It's funny that I can post information on here sent out to the world about content that I don't even tell some of my co-workers or family members, but I'm detached from the audience here a least one step, at least from most.  And the readers with whom I interact regularly are ones with whom I've spent mile after mile discussing health, weight, mortality, suffering, physical renaissance and such, so I don't mind.

I had my heart cath yesterday based on the "positive" stress test last week. To my strong benefit, no plumbing work was needed. I didn't have anything blocked or clogged, so no stents, or "plastys".  What I did get was a stern talking-to by my cardiodoc. The gist was, first that my AFib- the previous heart condition which worried the bedevil out of me- was a back-burner issue.  He immediately took me off my med for that and we will deal with that in the future. Interesting. Secondly, he stated that given my age and the conditions in my plumbing, I'm ripe for a future heart attack (at a young age), if I don't get my shit together. Specifically, I have plaque built up, apparently in my primary artery (aorta or one of the feeder ones?), the one that takes 80% to the heart. I'm going to clarify, but it seems that he said that the buildup wasn't in a good spot, so future stents and such aren't necessarily viable; I have to verify that observation.  Now I've gone from 2 meds- AFib and aspirin- to 4: aspirin still, beta-blocker, statin and fish oil pill.  I've read mixed reviews on the statin and beta-blocker, so more research is needed.

What is really needed, above all, is to get my health back. Doc stated upon leaving, "With the miles you ride, there's no reason you're as big as you are."  And he's right. He's a cyclist too, so he gets it. He knows what it is to put in 3000m on the year (probably double that). And still I'm really, really big. I see pics of myself from the gravel rides and it's pretty shocking, the ability to move that bulk up and down the hills we climb.  I suppose that underneath all the fat is a set of strong legs and an adequate engine, but I carry 30lbs more than Dave (and he's much taller) and who knows how many more than Michael, just as an example.

My food issues are now coming to a head. I'm about to be 41 with 2 kids getting older. I want to experience their college years, their weddings, their kids- well, my wife does mostly.=)  I myself want to travel more, bike more, photo more, listen to more, live a more satisfying life than the one that has bedeviled me for the first 40. I'm both resolved and resigned that somewhere I have  to become "the poster boy for beating heart disease" like Doc said. Let the games begin.


I'm going under the knife, or at least, tubing this morning. My exhaustion from BSF may be just miles of climbs lacking fitness, but my stress test the Friday (day) before showed something, so maybe I just missed a massive heart attack while climbing a massive 15% grade.  Time will tell.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BSF Sunday

Interestingly I don't have any pics of the campsite. I have a feeling I was too wiped on Saturday for pics and Sunday I guess I was wondering whether I could outlast the 2nd storm.

If Saturday's course was hills, hills and more hills, Sunday's profile showed a massive climb to reach a plateau, a very long segment of rollers and a dive back to the campground. We would see in the long run whether our eyes deceived us.

We again had our mild 5-mile warm-up leaving the campground, and I needed all the flatness I could find. All the previous night and the morning of I approached Sunday with much trepidation. Saturday had put me at the bitter edge of my abilities and honestly I didn't know if I could get through another day's worth.  After a bit of warm-up, though, the body started to wake up, and throughout the course of the day I was resolute to climb at my own pace and save the legs for the long haul.

We took a left onto Rock Creek Rd., which we found to our amazement as a flat run along the same creek as the campground is on. Great! Flat! Shortly after our turn, and a map discussion, we came through a bizarre ghost town of shacks and house, mostly all right next to the road. It reminded me of the many images of Europe where the houses are right on top of the road instead of offset. I called it 'Hobbiton' because of its overgrown, forlorn nature.  Behind it somewhere is the Bell Farm Horse Camp, so these may have been cabins at one point, but certainly not now.  From there Rock Creek Rd. ventured on, nice and flat. We encountered a few horses (where we dismounted) and generally had a more extended warm-up, just what I needed.

Our turn onto 1363 brought us to our next stage, using that "major" road as a link up to yonder obscure destinations. Again we had a map discussion b/c Michael's GPS wasn't agreeing with my cue sheet, even though they came from the same source. We eventually turned right onto to Beech Grove Rd. and found our first obstacle of the day, ostensibly the big one of the day at 1+ mile with lots of double digit inclines (and a top of 15.9%).

At some point, Beech Grove turned into what we were searching for, the rough stuff. My reading suggested that Beech Grove/Devil'sCreek/Peter'sMountain/DivideRd. is a 20-mile continuous mountain road along a ridge in the middle of BSF. It offered no amenities, no homes, no civilization.  The KY portion we encountered first was a mixed of heavy gravel, rocks and dirt. It was one of the worst "gravel" surfaces I've ridden and we rode it for miles.  Ironically, I was worried for Dave and Michael with their 700c wheels but I had the flat.  Unsurprisingly, we made slow time and we found roller after roller, but in this case steep, double-digit rollers and terrible road surface. Over time it took its toll.

By the time we reached the state line, I was done, just like Saturday, cooked. At this point I actually actually consulted the map and found a walking trail cut through that would have substantially cut our trip. I began to hate the ride, hate the road and hate my exhaustion.  That said, it was a completely gorgeous stretch of road and I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

Once we turned onto the paved road I began to feel...worse. At one point I even began to feel stick to my stomach and light-headed. I told Michael and backed off from there for a bit. They had refilled their water supplies and seemed a little more frisky, but we were 20 miles from camp and I didn't know if I could finish. Ick!

We had a great run on the TN state road with its sweeping descents and steep climbs, and smooth roads. =) We finally turned onto Parker Mt Rd., our final leg before our 5m warm-down road. From here interestingly I began to feel better. Whether it was refreshment from the food and water or the "horse to the barn" quotient, I was able to push a pace I hadn't in hours.  If you told me in the middle of the Divide Rd. that I could do a steady 15mph on our last gravel I might have died right there. Instead, we finished steady and strong in the impeding darkness.

Aside Michael's unfortunate spill coming down the 18% grade of Parker's Mtn almost in the dark, we finished well.  I think all of us felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, however tired we were.  From there we piled in the SUV, stopped at Wendy's for salty, carbo goodness and headed home, arriving at 12.00 midnight. Poor Michael had to return the remaining 2hr to Bloomington.  I have a few more comments about the camping experience, but the bike experience was simply epic and unforgettable.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Big South Fork Day #1

This past weekend, for me, was a series of firsts: my first bike-centered camping, my first "buddy" camping trip, my first trip to BSF and my first destination bike trip.  I had spent hours researching and scouring, google maps, the KY Transportation site, and and my Trails Illustrated BSF map. I've developed a real passion for Vitamin G. I think that riding gravel opens up something primal and something young about riding a bike. We know that (paved) roads are full of pissed-off cagers and that the trails are often daunting for those who don't want to incur injury. In turn, gravel provides the perfect balance of "freedom" between road and trail disciplines. In the modern age, gravel is also found in the outoftheway places which cars rarely visit. I don't know. I just feel good when I take to the rough stuff.

Our weekend consisted of two days of bike-centered activity. We drove down *early* Saturday to claim a camp site and to put in one day of riding, in this case on the FreedomChurch/RattlesnakeRidge route. Saturday night we camped at Great Meadow campground in BSF Recreation area, and Sunday we rose to take on the Divide Rd. in a long loop down into TN.  I've done long rides. I've done long gravel rides. But I've never taken on two heavy days such as this, so the plan was a bit of a crapshoot, but damn well I had my maps planned.

Apertome joined us from Bloomington, staying at FatGuy's house Friday night. I was involved with family plans, so I stayed out of their preparations. I did show at 6.00a.m. Saturday to load up and hit the road for the 4-ish hr drive.  We found GreatMeadow pretty easily and decided on the 2nd campground, which only had 1 other site occupied. From there it was preparation time. One *huge* benefit of these campgrounds was the availability of water. Remember that.

As you can see from the pics, we left in glorious weather, maybe 70F and full sun. Could it be any better? The first portion of our ride took us out Rock Creek Rd., which followed Rock Creek- which is known for trout fishing- downstream to our first junction. I can't imagine a better intro, with an easy grade, smooth or even hardpack conditions, 5 miles to wake the legs up and no traffic to speak of. RockCreekRd. joined Parker Mt. Rd. with a nice, no, spectacular cemetery on a hilltop overlooking the creek valley. (Hopefully somebody else got the name). One could also take this- the specter of death- symbolically, because what we found shortly thereafter was decidedly macabre.
Leaving Great Meadow campgroun on Rock Creek Rd. Nice morning, eh?

Rock Creek and Rock Creek Rd.

rather patriotic cemetery near Bell Farm Rd. junction. Nice, eh?
We left the rough stuff and joined 1363/Bell Farm-Yamacraw Rd. The picture below barely contains the misery: 1.9m, maximum pitch of 17%, and a nasty little pitch at the top of 14%. I'm personally glad I encountered this early in the weekend, because it was a real killer.  We made our way to the top and turned onto Skullbone Tower Rd.  The maps all suggest this was a long graveled road, but we found adequate surfaces. What it lacked in texture it made up for with really nice views, especially to the west.  I would say SkullboneTower had a really nice flow to it as well, lacking the vicious climbs we found elsewhere during the day.

Climbing 1363/Bell Farm Rd., here around 17%

East McCreary Fire Department has looked better

Skullbone Tower Rd. decay. Notice the satellite dish.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Skullbone Tower power lines
We met KY-92 and made our short way to Jones Hollow Rd., diving down into the valley at speeds I wasn't real comfortable with. After a bombing descent, Jones Hollow became a really, really nice valley road which skirted hillsides and hollers. Fact is, it might have been our flattest road of the day. We had an especially nice moment meeting a family on a big horse-drawn cart. They were as, or more, surprised to see us down there as we were to see them.

Dave in Jones Hollow

Jones Hollow Rd. Very nice.
Our turn onto Ritner Rd. brought our first pleasant surprise of the day, excluding the great warmup and brutal 1363 climb. Ritner Rd. proved inconclusive on various maps as to whether it actually joined in the middle of a creek bed or not. Without complete confidence we dove down the road and found something almost magical, at least for us city slickers. Ritner crossed right in the middle of a fork of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Confused? Once we turned onto Ritner, we immediately ran into 2 trucks coming up, so we knew we could cross. It was a bucolic scene, replete with a footbridge for high water and generally was devoid of trash. The pics do a better job than I, but we did stay here for several minutes while we ate a snack. Great Stuff! From the creek we climbed steadily out of the valley, where we found a more manageable exit after the difficulty of 1363. This section of Ritner and Upper Turkey was paved and very reasonable.

The Three LHT's at Ritner crossing

Ritner footbridge

Obvious, isn't it?

Ritner crossing in low water. We saw three vehicles besides ourselves during out time here. 

Michael gives it a try.

So does Dave, sans shoes

Notice the truck and the incline, supposedly 13% here. It certainly felt like it going down.

Up Ritner Rd. Brilliant!

Oldness at the top of Ritner Rd. after nearly 2 miles of climbing.

Looking across the valley of Denny Turkey Creek Rd.
At mile 23.5 we descended a quick hill down to a one-lane bridge and by the cross road of Brammer Hill Ridge. The next portion of our trip transitioned quickly and became perhaps the most amazing 8 miles of the weekend. Upper Turkey turned to gravel and viciously climbed for a while (max at 20%). I don't think anyone realized that we had climbed most of a mile; I sure didn't until looking at stats later. From the top we began our descent onto Freedom Rd., a graveled backroad that I personally found magical. Really. It had all the elements of great gravel, including a good surface, fun flow, descent (or even ascent) but not one too vicious, farms, scenic valley views and even a church near the bottom.  We stopped for a bit and soaked it in before heading towards the bottom, in this case in search of Water.  If you remember, I mentioned free water earlier, and at this point it became an issue. Temps reached 80F with earlier heavy sun. Michael was running out  and Dave wasn't too far behind. In such difficult and remote areas, it was going to become an "issue". At Freedom Baptist Church we found a spigot, but there was evident construction so to no avail for us.

Wow!  We missed this one! Careful study would show Freedom Rd. ascending for a mile, but with the first .3m no lower than 10% and topping out at 20%!  Sneakily brutal.

We earned the pleasant descent.

The Three LHTs resting along fence on Freedom Rd. This valley was one of my favorites of the weekend.

Looking north along Freedom Rd.
Michael and Dave bombing the chicane down Freedom Rd.

We found our return crossing at the bottom of Freedom Rd. We messed around a bit and began to climb, and climb, and climb. Freedom Rd. provided us almost 2 miles of climbing with heavy gravel, dirt and rocks and pitches up to 15%. It was simply amazing as a cycling experience. I still felt quite good here and made solid, steady progress, at least until a short chicane at the top where I could hold an rear tire exposure. It was my first walk of the day.
Add caption

Freedom Rd. at crossing

Not so ridable this time.

The early pitches of Freedom Rd.

In honor of the Duke. If I were more ambitious, I would research what it is, but I'm not. 

Michael somewhere along Freedom Church Rd. Notice the sketchy surface.

Dave chugging up as well.

My pictures become a little more rare after the Freedom Church experience. The road flowed directly into Cowhorn Rd., which I enjoyed very much. It was more gravel including a really long downhill during which we met some ATV riders coming up. Dave used an inventive descending technique where he would intentionally skid his rear wheel to help curb speed. At one point Michael made a leaping dismount off his bike in heavy gravel. I bareknuckled it to the bottom and we steadily plowed Cowhorn, working our way back towards 92. I was surprised just now to learn that one of our climbs on Cowhorn was a half-mile long with gradients up to nearly 18%. That would make a top-10 list here in Louisville. Instead it was just another short climb on the day.  My legs started to feel it.

rock formations along Cowhorn Rd.
We revisited 92 via another 2 miles of climbing (ughh!) and found water at a fire station. Michael and Dave were both ecstatic to rehydrate b/c they were out and we had several miles to still ride. From there we bombed down the 92 hill before making a hard right onto Wolf Creek Rd. We saw some classic Appalachian scenes along this portion, including one gentleman who invited me to kill his pack of dogs in front of his house. Sometimes you gotta learn to jaw with the locals.  On Wolf Creek we found *another* 1-mile climb (hitting 15% again) and at the top of this I was done. Done. I made it nearly 40 miles over so many climbs, all of them putting my head down and getting to work in the stump-puller, but once we met Rattlesnake Ridge I was done. Done. 

church at junction of Rattlesnake Ridge Rd., getting closer to our destination.
I crawled along Rattlesnake Ridge, knowing that we still had 13 miles to put in, but I was empty. I'm sure we were all tired, but I just couldn't manage, exhausted and spent in every way. I even walked on some incredibly minor hills b/c I just couldn't turn the legs over any more. I don't remember much of anything else here except suffering.  We finally descended 1363 and met our flat- but less flat than this morning- Rock Creek Rd. It was getting dark and we made tempo on the 5 miles home and made it back to Great Meadows in one piece.

For me at least, it was truly an epic ride, and I couldn't imagine pushing myself any more.

FS Bridgestone RB-1-DONATED

*Donated to a young bike-hungry friend. Good luck!* And to acquaint yourself with the Cult of the RB-1: