Friday, June 24, 2016

Ramming Speed Friday: Doldrums of Summer Edition

I tried to do some trail work in Flat Hollow yesterday.  I managed to get the weedeating done, but by the time I got to the furthest section of the Fire on the Mountain reroute with a prybar and Rogue hoe I could hardly manage a respectable whack at the dry duff that needs to be peeled back to expose the trail underneath. 
The prybar is for working in the short rock garden section that bars progress currently.  I’m excited about constructing through there, but I really need more help to do it.  For one because I’m old and for two because I want other sets of eyes to make it a great section of trail.  Anyway, I bailed on the trail work, headed home, and then listened to the pounding rain on the roof for a while last night.
I keep saying I need to be riding and running more.  I have no intention of going back to the intensity of running that I was at last year until I’m in phenomenal shape, but I should be out riding more often and working up my endurance to longer miles.  I’m not.
We went rock climbing last weekend but only managed a paltry short 5.3 trad route.  I’m too far out of mental shape to dive back in even on routes that I once had great familiarity with.  It’s going to be a long road back.  And with the heat and humidity of July fast approaching it’s going to be a slow road as well.
One thing that’s contributing to my malaise is a lack of some race/ride/run event to shoot for.  I’m not “training” for anything.  There is no pressure to perform.  Of course the flip side of that is I’d be bemoaning my injuries and lack of fitness if I were.  Go figure.
After the Mohican this year I decided if I’m going back next year that I definitely should race and not just spectate.  But that’s almost a year out.  Then there’s the Fool’s Gold race this fall.  Reportedly if you take a volunteer your registration is free.  I need to look into that a little more.  Or find something relatively close to home to train for.  The KY Point Series just didn’t do it for me.  There were too many races I wanted to do that I just couldn’t make.  I need a singular event. 
But all this is mental acrobatics.  It does nothing to strengthen my body or even really condition my mind.  Its speculation and fantasy.  I need real action.
I won’t make any bold proclamations in this post.  I need to figure out my future fitness goals and find a reasonable target to aim for.  More on that next week maybe…

Contemplating balance

Monday, June 20, 2016

More, Not Less

“I need to start riding more.”

“We need to ride.”

“I’m so out of shape; I need to get on the bike more.”





I’ve been bemoaning my lack of velocitude lately.  My mountain bikes have gotten intermittent action, but my road bike has been wearing a hole in the basement wall where it leans.  A few weeks ago I did a 22 mile loop with a big climb in the middle. 

Life keeps throwing too many distractions lately.  My big boy job is making me act like a…big boy. 
On Father’s Day I went out for another ride.  Maybe my second road ride in 2016.  Definitely my second of any consequence. 

The night before Mandy and I watched the film The Program. It’s the feature flick about Lance Armstrong.  Ben Foster was perfectly cast as Lance.  At first I didn’t think he’d pull it off, but as the movie developed he became more and more Lance-like.

Watching all those cycling scenes made it hard for me to not want to ride.  I got the bike ready and was ready to go the next morning.

I set out for Nada Tunnel intending to do the thirty-four mile loop from home, but halfway up the river from Stanton I realized I had forgotten to bring my light.  And while I have a special tactic for getting through the tunnel sans illumination (wait for a car to head in and follow behind) I also realized a thirty-four mile ride was a bit more than my body would respond to positively.

The shorter option was to cut across the valley at Bowen and pick up North Bend.  It was an easy decision to make.  I paused on the bridge to check out the river.  It’s low.  Then I continued on my ride.  The non-climb from the river up to the intersection felt like a wall, but as I turned my wheel west I felt a little stronger and was able to turn the cranks pretty hard and nudged my speed up over twenty miles an hour. 

There was a distinct difference in my fitness level and the power I was able to exert on the pedals compared to even a year ago.  I just don’t ride as much as I used to.  I was ten miles in before my legs seemed to loosen up and I was able to open it up.  The second half of the ride felt great.  I was breaking no records (nor claiming any Strava KOMs), but I really enjoyed the ride from that point on.  Of course I went from a busy road to a much less busy road. 

There was a short jog on 213 to get to Paint Creek and I managed to hit it during a lull and got onto the quieter road without getting stressed out. I love, love, love the short section of Paint Creek between 213 and Tharp Ridge.  Heck, I love Tharp Ridge.  The whole second half of my ride was on some of my favorite local roads.  Made for a great ride.

Didn’t see any cars on my traverse of Tharp (though I watched a fox pace me up the climb about a hundred feet off in the woods), but I did daydream about building mountain bike trails along both sides of the road on the ridge. The dreams flitted quickly into the clear blue sky as I descended the steep hill past the “water church” to Maple Street where I flew across the broad river valley, crossing the Red for the final time on my ride.

I turned up Halls Lane heading for the main road feeling good.  I shortcut through the high school parking lot to come out on KY 11/15 at the top of the hill.  I was preparing to turn west heading for home and when I looked left I saw four teenagers on touring bikes come cruising past.  I slipped in behind them, but they never acknowledged me.  As we descended toward Hatton Creek I geared up and stood on the pedals as they were not moving along at a Sporty Sport Bike speed.

I passed them, pulled far ahead, and prepared to make my left turn at the end of the straightaway before Turkey Knob.  At a mile from home I encountered the one and only motoring jackass on my ride.  A guy hardly got over as he drove past me.  I just shook my head, gave my left turn signal, and was on my home road. 

One last little punchy climb and I settled into the last gearing configuration of the day as I pedaled along, crossing the Mountain Parkway and rolling into a tunnel of sun and shadows dappled across the road.

It was a nice ride.  I do need to do that more.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ramming Speed Friday: Overcompensation Edition

The gun debate.  Every time I post something on Facebook that is remotely gun related I get a $#!+ storm of comments and arguments.  People get fired up if you suggest that maybe someone should have their dangerous toy taken away.  I just don’t understand. 

One friend made the point that if you are (legitimately) on a “no fly” list then you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.  Or if you have a history of violence, mental health issues, or make comments indicating that you’re planning to shoot up the Piggly Wiggly.  And he marvels that this is a point of contention.  I agree.  Guns aren’t so sacred that we can’t even discuss that maybe some people shouldn’t have ready access to them.  In my estimation a lot of people shouldn’t have ready access to them.  Or cars.  Or sharp knives.  A lot.

Anyway, another friend tries to play devil’s advocate by asking “what if your life was threatened every day?”  I replied, but a later reply from the first friend was: “it wouldn't change my conviction that crazy people and suspected terrorists shouldn't have legal access to guns.”  Again, I agree with him 100%.  My earlier reply to the advocation of demonic slant was: “In 42 years I've never felt like I needed a gun for protection. Not one single minute of one single day.”

Maybe my life has been charmed.  But I think the reality is that I have a clear perspective on the matter.  Guns won’t solve any of my problems in life.  I avoid situations where I might feel threatened, and I’ve never needed a gun to prove a point.  I also feel comfortable with the size of my penis.  To go slightly down that rabbit hole…that’s also why I’m comfortable driving a Honda Civic and not a diesel pickup truck with chrome wheels and fake nards hanging off the bumper.

But I digress.

I think it’s time we grew up as a nation.  I think it’s time we stopped letting the teeny-peckered elite dictate what’s best for the nation.  We can keep kicking this ball back and forth long after its deflated and ripped to shreds and everyone is bored.  But in the meantime more people will be killed in places where they didn’t expect to die.  Like schools.  Like grocery stores.  Like nightclubs.  Like churches.  

So we can keep bickering back and forth while people die and never admit that the answer is easy and the answer is already right before us.  We just need to look at the nations with the lowest gun violence fewest mass shootings and ask them how they did it.

I bet they stopped worrying about the size of their dicks and moved on to grown up things like paying bills and mowing the lawn.  At least that’s what reasonable and mature people would do.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Exploring Amongst the Stars

As I mentioned in my last post we were whooped from out paddling excursion on Saturday.  Mandy and I discussed options for Sunday afternoon, but nothing sounded too appealing to me except eating, sleeping and watching TV.  I’m getting old I guess.
Finally we settled upon an easy family bike ride.  It took a few minutes but I had my epiphany and we loaded up.  Well, it took a little while, but finally we loaded up.  Boone was somewhere in the wilds of Furnace Mountain so it was again just the three of us.
As an intermittent life-long Powell County resident I’ve traveled most of the roads in the county at some point.  There are few places accessible by car or bike that I haven’t been.  And in these days of Google Earth and publicly available high resolution aerial imagery I’ve “explored” a lot of other places as well. 
One place I have wanted to go is to check out the end of Star Gap Road.  Star Gap Road turns off of Manning Road.  Listen, you don’t know where any of these places are.  I was going to describe them, but let’s just cut the crap.  Powell County is not one of those places with a lot of cyclists or runners and well developed routes for people to use as recreational and health oriented facilities.
Anyway, I had only been on Star Gap Road once like twenty years ago or when I was in high school.  I knew the road went a lot farther than the private campground I could see from North Fork Road across the river, but I didn’t know exactly how far.  Old maps showed it going all the way through the Skidmore farm to the old ford near Schoolhouse Branch.  I didn’t think it made that connection all the way through anymore though.
Some time back I took off from home on the road bike and rode over Sizemore Mountain on Manning Road to the end of the pavement on the other side and rode back.  It was a climbing exercise more than anything, and I had no intention of taking the road bike out the gravel road beyond.  But since then I’ve kept that trip in the back of my mind.  It’s just far enough from home that the thought of riding the mountain bike out the front door to do it just didn’t get me jazzed.
But if we were going to load up the bikes and drive across the county anyway…
We stopped at Red River Campground to inquire about parking there but no one was at the office.  So we continued on until we found a pulloff in Forest Service territory and parked there.  Lil’ took off with her iPod blaring.  We both laughed, indulging her because we weren’t likely to run into anyone else, and then pedaled after. 

There was one burly little hill and descent at a big bend in the river but otherwise the ride was fairly mellow.  The road parallels the river and sits below towering cliffs above.  One in particular is the climbing area Jailhouse Rock.  It struck me that I have no explored this area and definitely should.  It also struck me that the area would be fantastic for a five or six mile mountain bike trail.  Got to explore that idea with the Trails Specialist at the FS.
We rode past the gate onto private property.  I was comfortable doing so because I know the land beyond the gate turns from National Forest to the Skidmore farm at some point.  Henry was one of my teachers in high school and a friend of my dad when they were in high school and for a brief stint at Morehead State before dad dropped out and was subsequently drafted into the army.
I’ve worked on that farm putting up tobacco and have eaten a meal with the elderly Skidmore parents.  I felt comfortable pushing on a little farther despite the “No Trespassing” signs.  In the future I’ll have asked to ride through and be certain.
But we came across an old uninhabited house that piqued my interest.  In the book Past Titan Rock the author, Ellesa Clay High, describes living in a house on a dirt road on that side of the river which was owned or taken care of by one of the Skidmores.  I wondered if that was not the house.  It is just as likely that there were other houses along that road that are now gone, but I have a strong feeling that it was the house she stayed in while writing the book.

Finally we turned back toward the van.  We were 1.7 miles out and ended up riding 3.4 miles.  It was nice and col along the river and in the shade of the north-facing slopes of the end of Tunnel Ridge and its fingers.  The forecast was for a sweltering day, but we enjoyed our ride in the cool of the woods.  On the way home I talked about mowing and weedeating that afternoon, but when I got out of the AC at home I changed my mind quick.
Star Gap Road is a fun family ride or as a destination on a bikepacking or gravel grinding excursion.  I strongly recommend it for those looking to get away from everything.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Season of the Kayak: An Easy Return to the Middle Gorge

Nineties: an okay decade; but a sweltering temperature.  That was the forecast for Saturday.  The Chainring fambly decided to paddle the Middle Gorge in our kayaks.  Mandy hadn’t been in hers since we bought them back around Mother’s Day.  The Gorge trip was her idea.  She invited a few other locals along.  And before you knew it we were deep in logistical troubles trying to figure out how to get our five or six or seven boats (borrowed and otherwise) from the Chainring Holdings on Ha[ppy] Creek to the put-in a few dozen miles away.

Mr. Councilman in Clay City offered us his enclosed trailer.  We’ve been planning on putting a hitch on the SAG Van for a hitch mount bike rack and possibly for trailer use, but we’ve not pulled the trigger on that yet.  However, the family beater ‘Ru had a receiver, so early Saturday morning I found myself scrambling back and forth across the county to wrangle kids to a central location, obtain a ball and hitch for the receiver, install the bumitch, and pick up the trailer.  Of course then I had to load up eight boats before we pointed our grills toward the Gorge.

We left our teenager behind due to rotten attitude but ended up on the riverbank with a crowd of eight. Bean rode in a borrowed pink kayak and within a half mile of the put in I hitched her up for a seven mile tow down the trickle of the Red River.

The temperature was actually very nice despite the apocalyptic forecast earlier in the week.  In the shade the air was downright intoxicating.  And even in the sun it was pleasant and we didn’t feel the need to hide our pale bodies in the water much.  They only stayed pale a short time before pastiness gave way to pink gave way to red like the river.  Well, the river isn’t really red.  But our legs and shoulders became a nice fire engine shade.

Our group trucked along kinda spread out until we reached the mouth of Gladie Creek.  There we stopped for lunch, water, and to jump off a rock at the confluence.  We had a blast jumping off the little guy into the six foot deep pool below riffles there in the shadow of Jewel Pinnacle.

I fiddled around and found a great little boulder problem right out of the water, but had to accept defeat due to old age, stiff ligaments, and general fatness.  I will return though!

Don't look, Ethel! She's going to jump!
We pushed on toward the “jumping rock” below Chimney Top.  What we found there was both terrible and amazing.  We estimated at least a hundred people congregated on both sides of the stream, on top of the rock, and sitting pee-side down in the water.  We could hardly paddle through the throng.  Of course the teenagers still wanted to jump off the rock so we obliged them. But after a few minutes of watching a drunk tattooed guy skipping rocks through the crowd of swimmers I’d had enough.  I was either going to call the guy out and start a fight with him and his buddies or watch him cause a completely unnecessary alcohol related injury to a stranger.

I was glad to be paddling away from the circus that was the jumping rock.  I’ve seen the place crowded but that was ridiculous. 

Circus at the Rock
As we continued downstream toward our takeout at the steel bridge (Arn Bridge in local vernacular) we encountered quite a few people paddling upstream.  It took a few minutes but I finally realized that Red River Adventures is renting boats and sending people upstream to the jumping rock and then they paddle back down to RRA’s takeout at Dunkan Branch.  And there were a lot of them clogging up the river.

That explained why we felt we had the river to ourselves until we reached the rock.  Despite all the road traffic and the paucity of parking at the upper end most of the river traffic was concentrated between RRA and the rock.  And most of the garbage.  Most of the poor decision making going on.  Most of the beer bottles and meandering tourons.

Yeah, maybe I’m a little bitter.  I don’t begrudge the folks at RRA wanting to do well with their business, but I feel like they’re contributing to and maybe promoting an unsustainable situation.  When my family operated a boat rental business on the river we did not want to contribute to garbage and injurious ruin on the water.  Both Mandy and I wondered where the US Forest Service rangers were while all the shenanigans were going on.

After passing RRA’s takeout it seemed like the trip dragged on.  My memory of the last section of that run has always been flawed.  Every time I ran the river in the past I imagine a shorter paddle after Dunkan Branch than actual is.  On and on we paddled.  Deeper and deeper burned our skin.
Finally we reached the takeout and began the tedious process of dragging the boats up the steep and slick bank through a carpet of stinging nettles.  Mandy and I rushed to run the final shuttle while the rest of the group loaded the boats into the trailer.

As I drove back toward the Arn Bridge from the put in at the Concrete Bridge I couldn’t help but smile as nostalgia washed over me.  Many a day I ran those roads hauling canoe trailers and scanning the river from the road looking for wayward boaters, dodging drunk tourons in the SUVs, loud pickups, and Priuses who weave all over the narrow and curvy road. 

I have to confess I miss my old lifestyle.  I didn’t have any money, but I spent my days helping other people enjoy the outdoors in the Red River Gorge while daydreaming about my own forthcoming adventures.  I could look up as I sped along KY 715 and name al of the towering rock formations and crags I saw.  I took satisfaction in being able to answer every question thrown at me by the Gorge Rats I encountered on a daily basis.  In short I was living the life and didn’t even know it.  Hindsight is 20/20. 

I can’t say I regret the path I’ve taken to return to this place.  The journey has been incredible and continues to be incredible.  I can say I don’t want to ignore my opportunities of proximity to this amazing place I’ve inhabited and pined over for so long.

It's interesting to me that these days the kayak seems to be the craft of choice on the Red.  There was a time you only saw whitewater boats on the Red, and those appearances were rare and limited to the Upper Gorge.  I know that these flat water versions have become more affordable and accessible in the past few years and that has led to an increase in their popularity.  But I also know from long ago experience that kayaks are better suited to the Red because of their maneuverability and low draft.  The Red River is fiercely seasonal and finicky.  It likes to drop trees across its stream with regularity and it pushes the boater into winding courses.  It dries up just as summer chokes the land.  When you want to be on the Red it soaks into the sandy soils and withholds its navigability.  And so the kayak extends the benefit of this unique river beyond its normal season.  

Sunday we were going to go rock climbing but when we woke up with sore shoulders and backs and a general lassitude it seemed prudent not to engage in some activity which would further tax our weary bodies.  We took the Bean and rode our bikes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lone Mountain Biker of the Apocalypse

Brian Schworm from Morehead placed second at this year's 100 mile Mohican mountain bike race.  There always seems to be a good showing of riders from Central Kentucky and Brian.  We always see a few we know.
This year's weather was pretty darn good. It sprinkled some, but it wasn't a hot day and it was late before the rain really moved in.  The trails were in the best shape I've seen them in four years.  The locals have done a lot of maintenance work.
It was all enough to make me want to sign up again next year and get a number placard.  I don't know for sure if I will or if I would only attempt the 100k, but after two years of sitting out the official event I'm getting antsy.
Don't get me wrong, I've had fun these past two years.  Last year I proofed and managed to salvage a section that had been vandalized.  But I also lost a derailer along the way which was a huge bummer.
This year I didn't race and I didn't volunteer in an official capacity.  I was on the fence about volunteering but ultimately decided to be untethered and just take photos.  That turned out to be a really good decision.
Saturday morning I took off from our room at the Mohican Lodge and rode across the dam at Pleasant Hill Lake before picking up the 24 mile mountain bike loop at its northwest corner.  I was eight miles into the loop and four miles from the lodge. 
It was early in the morning and cool.  I was running with my NiteRider 750 lumen LED but I hardly needed it.  I kept it on for comfort at first.  The corridor was right and dim.
After a few dozen pedal strokes I was on my game.  The road ride over to the trails had warmed my legs and mind to the task at hand.  My goal was to ride the loop all the way around to the vicinity of Aid Station 5 and grab lots of photos and wait for the rest of the crew to get to 5.  The race was to start at 7:00 and it was hardly 6:00 when I turned into the woods.
There was no fear of the leaders overtaking me as long as I kept moving.  I reached Aid Station 1 at 7:00.  I finally stopped, ate some chews, downed some water, and moved on.  I was truly enjoying the ride for the ride’s sake.  I absolutely love the section after Aid Station 1.  It was the only section of the race I enjoyed in 2013 after my migraine started to subside.  It was bittersweet.  As I rode through beams of sunlight and waist high ferns I knew my ride that year was over.  I just wanted to get a little closer to town before I deviated from the course.
This year I had no stress.  There was no potential disappointment if I were to bail onto the road.  But I had no reason to bail.  I was riding well.  I was enjoying the Mohican Mountain Bike Trail.  I had nothing to do with the Mohican 100 mountain bike race.  Everything was cake.
I’d not ridden so far on my mountain bike in a long time.  I was out beyond my usual threshold and still cranking.  I was climbing strong despite my 1x10 gearing and flabby legs.  Now, I wasn’t going fast, mind you, but I was riding strong and steady.
Sure, I walked a few hills.  I had to dab a foot from time to time.  But it didn’t matter, and I didn’t care.  I was having a great ride.  Finally I got to the point where I knew the next descent would put me in the back of the campground.  And it was getting on 8:00.  I wanted to find a good spot to wait for the leaders for their close-ups.
The rocky knob rolled up under my wheels.  It’s a techy section with a boulder field not too far from where the course leaves the loop.  I stashed my bike and scouted out a likely spot to catch the leaders when they reached me and settled in.
And I waited.
I guess I miscalculated how far into the race I had stationed myself.  I figured I was about 18 to 20 miles in.  If the leaders were throwing down a 13 to 15 mph pace through the toughest section of the course then they should be there right at…well, darn it!  I just can’t do math in my head.
It was nearly 9:00 before they finally rolled up to me.  I incurred a series of itchy bug bites and worried about each threatening sprinkle of rain.  Four trail runners came through and I refrained from snapping pics of them.  But finally I heard voice and off through the trees saw fast moving bodies.
I stood between two trees where the tread split around them so I was able to get some great close-ups of the leaders.  Unfortunately the first three weren’t in focus, but after that I got a whole slew of good pics.  I had to doctor them up later and boost the brightness as all of my pics for the day were dark.

I moved around from the top of the knob down through the boulders and back up shooting images and video for probably an hour.  I stood on top of boulders and shot down.  I laid on the ground and shot up.  In short, it was a great spot to be shooting photos of mountain bikers that day.

Finally I decided I needed to move on toward Aid Station 5.  I waited for a long lull in traffic and merged back onto the trail.  Of course as I rode I kept coming across great spots for more photos so I stopped a few times.  It probably took me an hour to cover the last mile of riding along the course before I split off and dropped down to the aid station.
I was fortunate to catch the 100k leaders coming through 5 around 11:00, but I didn’t get a ton of shots there and they weren’t great.  When I finally met up with Mandy I was done riding and shooting for the day.
Interestingly enough, Jeaph was done for the day when he reached Aid Station three right after us.  I had intended to shoot more as we hung out at Aid 5 waiting for him to come through, but after his DNF we rolled back to the lodge to chill and swim before coming back to the finish late in the day to eat and watch the spectacle.
It was a good trip.  If we go back next year I’m definitely racing.  Two years off is enough. I either need to get motivated or let the Mohican go.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ramming Speed Friday: Deerflies on the Wind Edition

Them kids.
Sorry, those kids.  I’m originally from Eastern Kentucky if you couldn’t tell.
Over Memorial Day weekend we took Bean and the boys back to the Dawkins Trail near Salyersville.  We were better prepared for spending the day.  We had a better plan after scouting the trail a few days before.  But we didn’t anticipate the car sickness.
We should have.
No one hurled in the SAG Wagon.  But as we started up toward Gun Creek Tunnel from Royalton Boone looked pale and complained of a messy stomach.  I lagged with him and bade the other three to go on.  He assured me he was having fun and that the trail was cool, but he just didn’t feel good.
If Boone assures you he’s having a good time and an activity is fun you can trust him.  Believe me, that kid won’t hold back if he’s miserable.

Four years ago protesting a mountain bike ride in Vedauwoo, Wyoming

We soldiered on with frequent rest stops.  For me it was nice because I had to force myself to slow down and just be in the moment.  Most of the time my mind is twenty miles ahead of where my body is.  I hated that he was queasy, but we had a good conversation as we pedaled slowly toward the tunnel.
In all fairness it was a warm day too.  The humidity of summer has finally settled in for the long haul and the sun was out that day.  That couldn’t have helped Boone’s nausea.
We caught up with Mandy, Ty and Lily at the tunnel.  The other two kids were racing back and forth through the 600’+ passageway with abandon.  Boone sat down in the cool shade by the support timbers and watched.
Gun Creek Tunnel was our turnaround that day.  We cruised back to Royalton with intentions to go west beyond, but once we got back to the van none of the kids wanted to ride anymore.  It was too hot to leave them locked inside, so we loaded up and headed home.
Fun was had by all, and that’s all that matters.
Otherwise we had a fairly low key holiday weekend.  I did a little trail work in Flat Hollow and rode only 1.5 miles.  It was too darn hot to do much else.  And now the deerflies seem to have descended upon the world from their alien attack platform in space.  The season is over. 
What season?  Trail building.  Trail riding.  Climbing.  Bouldering.  Hiking.  Duck.  Trail running. Wabbit.  Swimming.  Fishing.  Boating.  Sleeping.  Eating.  Living.
Deerflies suck.  S. U. C. K. Suck.
Ugh, I’m out of shape.  I’ve managed to ride at Veterans, CVP, and Skullbuster recently and in all cases have been slower than average.  And now it's Mohican time.  No, no, I’m not racing this year.  Actually I’m not even volunteering.  I’m going along for the spectacle of it.  I’ll take the camera.  I’ll ride my bike on the trails.  But I’m not participating in the event whatsoever.
I think next year might be the time for me to get back into the swing of mtb racing.  I’ll try to get into Leadville.  I’ll do the 100k Mohican.  And maybe I’ll do a few more of the KY Point Series races.  I do plan on trying to do a few more of those this year.  But for 2017 I want to formulate a training plan that will put me over the finish at Leadville in under twelve hours.  Heck, maybe under ten!
My body seems to be telling me it wants to run again too.  But for me, at this time, no more plans to run competitively or for speed.  I think in 2016 I’ll focus on a PR at the Iron Horse and maybe giving the Rough Trail 25k another shot.  That’ll give me plenty of time to ease back into it without pressure to go fast and hard all the time.  And after that I firmly intend to run only as a training tool until I’ve been running long enough to decide if I want to take it further.  For me I have to design fun into running and I can’t do that with competitive pressures.  All internal of course, but pressure all the same.
I have the tools at my disposal to get back into shape.  Of course I am disproportionately distracted by life and absolutely fail at having a workout regime.  I don’t mean to digress into whining about my lack of activity.  In fact, my health issues are more diet related than to activity or lack thereof. 
And deerflies…as if I didn’t need any more barriers in my life.