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Showing posts from July, 2011

My nephews know how to climb Grandfather Mountain

It's rather hard to capture hard ascent and descent in photos...but take my word for it, this was a tough uphill section en route to the top of Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC.

My nephews and their parents were visiting from Wisconsin, so I had to come up with something epic that would stick in the brain boxes of those kids.  I'm one to push outdoor activity, so we set out as a family unit up Profile Trail and then onto another climb to the east, which got us up and over the top.

That's David in the lead, then Joe (soon headed to Madison as a college freshman) and old master man pulling up the rear.  I told them to pump a fist as the photo was taken, to demonstrate victory over what the mountain had to throw at us.

These boys don't waste a lot of words...they just work hard, clean the sections, and chuckle like Bevis and  Butthead.  That's OK because it's more important to get effort into one's legs instead of pumping up the jaw muscle.

One difficult…

Riding in TN + pitbull attack

Humor me for a second.  Go to, click "images" and type "white pitbull" into the search heading.

You'll get hundreds of images, 99% of them depicting cute little bundles of canine joy.

Just let me say the little SOB that came out after us on this past Saturday's bike ride was something completely different.

I'm not a pitbull fan, so if you have one, we'll debate vigorously on this topic.  My experience with these nasty little creatures are that they are born and bred to attack.  Most other dogs wag their tales as we roll by, but pitbulls are looking for a  mark and I seemed to be in the crosshairs.

I did what I usually do with dogs - shout at them defiantly to determine authority.  Pit bulls seem to take that challenge and come on even harder.  I hammered the crank and got a bit ahead of the vicious animal, so instead the demon turned on my riding buddy Terry.

In one controlled motion, Terry clipped out of the pedal and at the opportune mo…

Rest in peace, Charlie Robinson

One of the best parts of mountain cycling in NC is the characters you meet along the way.  I love to be part of the action, with so many personalities in play.

One rider who joined us on occasion was Charlie Robinson.  Charlie liked the mountain life in NC, where he spent half his time...the other half was working in his law practice in PA.

I took special note of Charlie because he rode a steel frame Waterford...that's a fine piece of equipment made in Wisconsin.  Guess my home state pride got the best of me.

Last Thursday, Charlie made our Valle Crucis ride.  We had a good time, passed and re-passed each other, and drafted the downhills.  During our final catch-up point, I pulled up shoulder to shoulder with Charlie; it was typical bike rider chit chat.  We climbed up the last big hill, then coasted in to finish the loop.

This Tuesday, Charlie was on another group ride out of Banner Elk.  From what doctors could piece together, he suffered a massive stroke, which in turn caused a…

A kid's report on the Angeles Crest 100...well done!

Here's a young guy who's headed to the network news...Nick Garner hosts a piece on the Angeles Crest 100 mile in California.  Thanks to for promoting this fine work...enjoy!

My Shimano 105: I'm not cool

As much as I talk about being settled into my current endurance sport abilities, I continue to struggle with how I fit into the groups I train with.

One example is my "new" Specialized Roubaix.  It's a 2010 model, which features the former-generation Shimano 105 shifters.  This unit has the external shifter cable, while the new Shimano components have all cables integrated internally, then routed under the handlebar tape.

I must admit that this shouldn't matter, but it does.  I'm not fast enough to be anything special, yet hold some perception of who's on the latest equipment.  I'm not.

Another cosmetic issue that popped up was the fact I always run a frame mounted tire pump on my bikes.  But when I bought the Specialized, I opted to get the new CO2 canisters for tire inflation.  Why? It's not cool to run a pump on your frame.  Not the look of fast dudes.

But over time, I had a change of heart and mind.  I'm not fast and won't be able to get …

Motocross: Chad Reed's epic crash

I've been hanging around motocross tracks for around 40 years.  And this past weekend's AMA pro national in Millville, MN delivered some great racing.  Former MX champion Chad Reed masterfully won moto one, but in moto two chaos broke loose.  Reed was making a high speed approach to the face of a jump, when his Honda violently snapped sideways, catapulting him 50 feet in the air!

Check out the video; it's almost beyond belief.  Reed hit hard, but regrouped to pass over 20 riders to finish 14th.  He stated that the crash was the scariest of his entire career, but that championships are won on bad days, as well as good.

I'm no longer connected to the sport, but as I watch from afar through race telecasts, I'm becoming a big Chad Reed fan.  This Aussie remains hungry to win at every race.  He's now racing for his own team (not a factory effort) and is also a family man with kids.

Any form of racing has its risks.  This event will keep us sober minded regarding the…

Guest profile: Doug Hildebrandt

Had some great comments posted on the blog from Doug Hildebrandt, a master competitor who shares a deep love for the sport, despite the setbacks of age.

"I started running competitively in high school doing cross country and track.  I soon learned that my gift was distance running, not track and field," stated Doug about his impending endurance sport lifestyle.  

"After racing in the Whisky Row half marathon I was hooked on the longer distances.  I trained for many marathons by running canals, trails and mountains.  Stress fractures, plantar, torn meniscus, achilles, and a IT were all part of the years of running injuries. 

"I started to run alone, as many of my former running partners were getting slow.  I decided to get a dog as a running partner and got my first Vizsla.  I knew this was the right dog for running when the research I did said that this breed needs an hour of exercise a day, and this didn't mean walking.  My first Vizsla proved to be a very worthy…

Lake Norman Excursion, aka big ring rampage

Made a day of it and drove down off the mountain to Mooresville, NC.  I lived in Mooresville in 1983-84 when I was starting my sports marketing career.  So I went back to the scene of my business origin, to Lowe's corporate headquarters for this American Red Cross fundraiser.

I chose the 68 mile loop (there was also a 40 and a chip-timed 100 mile).  We rolled out around 8:15 and made our way towards the lake.

As I am finding in all one seems to tour.  This ride went out fast and stayed that way.  If you weren't on the big chain ring for about 90% of the course, you were dropped off the back.

Here's a quick brain dump of memories:
Got into a cat-and-mouse early in the ride with three female triathletes. They'd hammer by me on the downhills, then I'd climb back past them a gear or two higher on the climbs.  Guess I'd rather have the upper hand ascending vs. descending.  Funny and fun.Came into an early aid station.  As I was leaving, heard that terrible…

Master man featured in TrailRunner mag e-newsletter

Thanks to the great folks at TrailRunner magazine, I've been able to preach the master man philosophy through their e-newsletter "Inside Dirt."

Click through to the link and then scroll down to "Master's Voice."

All part of growing the sport and enticing "mature" runners to embrace the ultra endurance lifestyle.


The prayer tower: Someone cut it down

I'd like to craft a witty headline that would spike traffic off the search engines, but that's not my mood today.

I'm sad and rather empty inside.

Went out on my normal campus trail loop run this morning, and when about halfway through, took the left turn that takes me down to the prayer tower for my morning time with God.

I was initially surprised to find someone had cleared the trail; logs and brush were put aside.  But when I came to the end, there was...nothing.

Someone cut down my prayer tower.

It didn't seem to be vandal's work, as all the related lumber had been removed.  I have no idea why someone would want the old structure to be no more, but in my world  it was a tremendous loss.

You'll find me at my place of worship each Sunday, but I believe the prayer tower had become the best "church" I had been in (on) in years.  It's where my most fervent discussions with my Lord took place.  It's where I prayed for friends in trouble.  It'…

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead: Guys who go on the juice

If you'd enjoy a warm and fuzzy flick that gets the eyes a bit misty, I'd suggest this 2010 documentary. It's about an Aussie financier who gets wealthy and fat, then decides to do the 40+ life turnaround.

The solution?  Come to the USA and do a 60-day juice fast. He spends the first 30 days in New York City, then the second 30 days driving across the country.

En route, the documentarian meets an overweight truck driver who has the same skin malady.  The film then incorporates the radical turn of events for both individuals.

The end result is good.  Life becomes more of an avocation as the juicers profess their transformation to others and get bring a healthy option to family and friends.

It would be interesting to push hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables through one's body.  I'm sure the outcome would be advantageous.  Even if I don't buy on to the entire ritual, think I'll take two bananas to school today instead of just one.

You can find the webs…

Bee sting ride revisited

Have no idea how he got my mobile number...but took a call today from Frank, the man who jockeyed me to the hospital yesterday.

Frank was checking in to see how I was.  As if that's not enough, he gave directions as to where he lives in that riding area and offered his tools and workshop if we ever need to repair our equipment along the way.

No more needs to be said.  At a time when it's difficult to be optimistic in the USA, I am assured that good, righteous people exist in and around me.

And no matter what state this country is in, good people will always be at the core.

Bike ride + bee sting = lights out

What started as a glorious day in the mountains ended with a strange and wild twist.

And it only took one tiny drop of wasp venom.

I was out with top-shelf ride leader Steve and two other talented crank-churners...Paul and Randy.  These boys are a level above master man and I was considering pulling the pin about 10 miles into our ride, a journey out to Glendale Spring and an alternate return, total 65 miles.

Being the group promoter that he is, Steve dropped back and was encouraging me up the big hills.  Our halfway stop allowed me to woof a diet Mt. Dew, two electrolyte tabs and an Aleve. I was feeling locked and loaded for the second half.

Soon after that a wasp got me on the right ear.  The sting started to burn but I put it out of mind and attempted to sum that pain in with the other hurts I was incurring.  But within a couple of miles, it was system shut down.  I barely made it off the road and sprawled onto the grass.  My breathing was labored, heart was racing and my vision we…

Federal agent attacked by wild dogs

I'm sure this headline will catch a few hits off the search engines...but it's true.

You may be interested in a former army soldier who cut the cigs and Burger King cold turkey, dropped 60 pounds in six months, then became a federal agent who shipped off to Iraq. Mark T. Jackson is a master storyteller; I'll let him explain how he'd get chased by wild swamp dogs and on occasion take direct fire while running.  And I thought my trail loop was hard!

Listen to the report at:

This was a special day for me.  Came upon a $20 bill while running through the park this morning.  I've been a dime and quarter man for most of the 28 years I've been jogging, but this find was over the top.  Guess some unknown benefactor partially sponsored my Raptor Ride 60 mile tour tomorrow.

Gotta love that ROI from being a runner.

"Frozen Head" Ed Furtaw: The ultrarunning ambassador

Ultrarunning historian and statistician Ed Furtaw responded to my Cantrell/Barkley post.  Ed is pivotal in the promotion of the Barkley and is a long-standing ambassador for the sport.  He commented:

1. Jim King was a top ultrarunner, from California, back in the 1980s. As I recall, he won Western States multiple times back when WS was inadvertently only about 93 mile long.

2. Steve Warshawer was another top ultrarunner back in the 1980s. I remember one string of about four ultras he won in the 1986-87 Southern Ultra Grand Prix Series, in which he ran three course records. Today, in his 50s, he lives on a ranch in New Mexico and still runs the occasional ultra, still at the top of his age group.
3. Unlike Matt Mahoney, I wasn't there when Ann Trason and the Tarahumara raced at Leadville. However, that story is well-told in Born To Run. The Tarahumara seemed to regard Ann as a female witch. The fastest among the Tarahumara won the race against Ann in a course-record time that stood fo…

Barefoot running: The statistic you'll want to know

Just listened to two (2) really well done and definitive podcasts that overview the barefoot running craze.

Michael Sandler, author of "Barefoot Running"

Chris McDougall, author of "Born to Run"

These podcasts offer some of the best content on the subject I've heard.  Great summaries about why barefoot running works and makes sense.  But I just couldn't leave it alone from there.  Follow along with me as I unpack my latest thoughts from the trail:

I was thinking about the deliberate, well intentioned footstrike that is mandatory with barefoot running.  Carefully, calculated steps that test the terrain with each impact. Now, I think of my own abilities and the fatigue that sets in during long training runs and races.  As the miles go by my feet are shuffling closer to the ground.

Matt Mahoney: 13 Barkley attempts for the man who won't quit

Ultrarunner  extraordinaire Matt Mahoney dropped a comment in regard to my Gary Cantrell/Barkley post.  His response to my Ann Trason historical question was:

"Ann Trason was in the lead when I saw her at the bottom of Hope Pass coming into Twin Lakes in 1994. Later the first of 6 Tarahumara passed her and won, but I didn't see it happen because I was getting a ride back from Winfield, unable to make the return climb over Hope Pass because my lungs were full of water."

Among an impressive list of ultras, Matt notes that he has made 13 Barkley attempts...with no official finishes. You have to learn more about Mahoney to see what makes this man tick. A PhD with a focus on data compression and artificial intelligence?  Check out his personal website:

Then, click to the pictorial report of his 2010 Barkley Marathons attempt, inclusive of images where James Earl Ray jumped the fence at Brushy Mountain State Prison:…

Survey says: Master Competitor at Pinhoti 100?

The vast universe of master competitor readers have spoken.  An overwhelming number of voters (5) suggested I should put my wide butt on the line for the Pinhoti, while another smaller but substantial segment (3) said pull the pin and run 50k's.

If I was Bill Clinton or any other well meaning politician, this is where I'd jump on the poll data and expound a long statement about how 100 mile racing is my future and that 100 miles is the distance to complete me in 2011.

However, I'm not there yet.  Found the courage to hit the scales after my two month odyssey, upon completing my bike ride yesterday.  I ballooned up to 167.5, so there's plenty of work to do this summer.  Have to get light and strong(er) but also need to work on that muscle just north of my neck...the brain.

Something inside has me in a state of contentment, where I am satisfied with life as it exists and thank the Lord for where He allowed me to land.  I'm not hungry for 100 miles.  Don't know i…

Watauga County High School: The track is off limits to everyone

Things didn't come together for today's club ride, so I opted to prep the old commuter bike and wander around town on a leisurely spin.

One of my city loops includes a visit to the new, state-of-the-art Watauga County High School, which recently opened on a wonderful setting just east of town.  One aspect of the school that I enjoy when I run in that direction is the cushy surface of the competition track.  But today, I received a shock when I arrived at the gate.

What the?  No one is allowed on the track?  If not, why did we spend tax dollars to build it?  Does this enforce a new rule where students are not allowed to use their own facility for sport?

I'm sure this sign is simply poorly worded, and instead is targeted at folks like me - local taxpayers who are not students, but nonetheless enjoy using the track when school activities are not underway.

I'm not feeling the love from Watauga County on this one.  I'd suggest they might reconsider usage protocols, the…

Barkley Marathons: "A colonoscopy gone wrong"

Like the quote? That was a lead-in from a 2010 runner at the Barkley Marathons, arguably the nation's toughest ultra.  Long time Barkley race promoter and UltraRunning magazine feature writer Gary Cantrell was a guest on and it was laughs and giggles all the way.

The show hosts seemed a bit intimidated by Cantrell's style.  For instance, when they asked him where runners might find information about entering his event, Cantrell replied, "ask around."  At the end of the show, the hosts ask each guest about their favorite beer.  Some may comment about pale ale or a specific brand.  Cantrell only paused and stated "cold."

You can listen to the podcast for additional entertainment.  But the episode did surprise me, as the hosts of had not heard of Cantrell, or the Barkley Marathons, prior to the podcast.  Maybe that's a California thing, but it begs the question:  Does the historical aspect of our sport have meaning?