Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring is Rising

Ah spring. The grass is growing, the days are longer, the time change has occurred, and the Gravel Rouser is in the books.  I'll first back up a couple weeks.

One of my favorite back roads to ride is called Buzzard Den road. Slightly wider than a single lane, it is lined by old coal mine owned land and until last year, acres of pine (Mead paper company just logged it), and only a couple of homes. Within the last few years one of these homes and farm has started to grow. They now have over 50 in their herd of katahdin sheep and another 50+ laying hens. To manage the farm and to keep the occasional mountain biker from steeling sheep they also have two Great Pyrenees and two Shepards.  Find A Way Farm as it is called (http://www.findawayfarm.com/) was nice enough to show Brock and I around. After Brock finished terrorizing the sheep, chasing the chickens, and playing catch with Kira (one of the Shepards) we purchased a couple dozen fresh eggs and headed home. If you are interested in any cuts of lamb or fresh eggs, I encourage you to check with them.

Herding (chasing) the sheep.
Literally just a few hours old.
That brings us up to one of my favorite bike events of the year, the Gravel Rouser. This four day stage event is only slightly competitive and sure to put the hurt on the legs. I again committed myself to be a Wolfman (completing all 4 events) as well as volunteering wherever needed. The first event was a circuit road race. We would complete a total of three laps on some county and township roads with one screaming downhill on a dry-weather only road. I decided to ride my Redline Monocog 29er Flight that I have set up with dirt drops and 34:17 gearing. The back side of the circuit has a long climb with the steepest part (average 8%, peaks around 11%) is about a half mile long. On the first lap, I managed to mash my way up the hill staying in eyesight of the leaders (who brought out the skinny tired road bikes). Following the big climb is several rollers with short, steep shots. By the time I got around the first lap I was tasting blood and had to pull out my asthma inhaler.  The bike was the right choice for the downhill though taking it comfortably but the climb is where it was won. By the second time around, I was hurting and even walked a few yards as my lungs burned.  Finished mid to back of the pack but still had a good time.

The second event was a single track time trial which I was the starting timer (so no official time for me). The trails were in great shape except for a giant mud hole about mid course. As usual, a couple of young and super fast riders took the podium among a largish turnout, but also as usual, the rest of the riders were largely there for fun anyway.

After two days of riding in near perfect March weather, it all changed. Saturday turned to cold with rain and even a bit of snow for the Classic event, a round trip back road ride to Lake Hope from Eclipse Co. Town with a little single track XC time trial in the middle. After helping with registration, I rode sweep on the course out to the lake, again on the SS. Weather was in the upper 30's and cloudy with periods of rain. While moving, it wasn't too bad.  Once I arrived at the lake I moved in to position to help with the TT timing. This equated to standing in the woods, in the rain for about an hour while all my muscles got cold. It was a long ride back to Athens. Kind of a blast, kind of a miserable day on the bike.

Sunday morning was the Grab & Git, a scavenger hunt by bike in the City of Athens followed by lots of coffee (from Ridge Runner Coffee) and donuts. I was making really good time until I realized I skipped a checkpoint and had to make a large detour, finally finishing mid pack. But coffee and donuts, so who cared!

Smiling before the rain really turned on and I got really cold.
The aftermath of the Classic.
This guy showed up just for the donuts.
Event buttons including the Wolfman Award.
And more photos at the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau photo site.

That gets things up to Easter. Ethan is finishing his driving portion of AAA school, so Shelly and he were gone most of the day Saturday. We then had to drive back to Pomeroy after Ethan left his jacket in the instructors car, but we made the most of it with a stop at the Court Street Bar and Grill for burgers and fried catfish. Easter Sunday started early as I prepped to get to church for sound checks then off to Shelly's grandparents for Easter lunch, then to my parents for Easter dinner (I did manage to ride from one to the other though, so at least there was some 11 odd miles in there), then back home over 12 hours later.

All the best bars have church pews, right?
Enjoy!

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