Category Archives: Comfort Zone

The New Biker Experience at Camp Tuscazoar

New biker

 

I bought a new bike! Meet Hellga, from Specialized.

Hellga

I’d been curious about fat bikes. Or rather “fat tire bikes” for some time. I wanted a bike to ride in the winter, on my back roads around here, when my hybrid bike is up on the trainer. I had done some reading, and decided to just bite the bullet, and buy a bike.

The fat tire experience is different than my hybrid bike. The tires do “float” over objects,  like gravel. I would have never even thought about taking my hybrid into one of our pastures to ride there.

I was excited to be off work Monday and I headed to Camp Tuscazoar at 8 am! I’ve blogged about many experiences at Camp Tuscazoar. There has been many improvements to the trails there over the last few years.

East Side Trails

East Side Trails Camp Tuscazoar

On the East Side of the camp, there are newly built mountain bike trails. These are for the beginner rider. I helped out in the spring doing some trail maintenance.

 

Skills and Thrills

The trails are very well marked and signed. I was going to stay away from the “Skills and Thrills” until I read the description. It was for the youth and total beginner! That’s me!

You start off with a downhill (gulp) but it levels out. The trail is wide and there are no big ups or downs.

At the skills section, you can ignore all the skills and just ride through. Or you can practice going over a log; rocks; hopping off a bridge, both wide and narrow; biking on a log. I did just the very basic skills. I hopped off the little bridge, rode the bridge with the little hill. I did not try anything like biking on a log or trying to go over two logs at the same time.

This route is about 0.6 miles long. I think I rode it about five times before I ventured to the next upgrade, Hilltop Trail.

Hilltop Trail

This had many more ups and downs than the Skills Trail! I used my brake quite a bit on this. I am a total newby mountain biker.

I rode this trail again, then decided to add the North Slope. This trail had big switchbacks and berms!  There was much braking on this trail. I had to hop off Hellga and push her in a few places. I don’t have gearing quite mastered yet for this new bike.

After this, I rode the Skills Trail again and called it a day. I was tired! Hopefully I won’t be too sore tomorrow. These are excellent mountain bike trails for a newby!

Try Five New Things This Summer

Try something different in July!

Paint Your Nails

Paint Your Nails a Color You Normally Would Not. Try…blue? Green?   paint your nailsIf you are a guy, paint your toenails. I dare you.

Eat a Vegetable You Hate

Eat a vegetable you hate. See if you still hate it. Maybe you don’t!!

Read a Book

Books on my Reading List

Read a book in a different genre that you normally select. Read a mystery? Read a romance? Read a non fiction book?

Drive a different route to work

new route

Drive to work-or drive home-on a route you normally don’t drive if you can. So it takes you longer. Big deal. See some landscape that you normally don’t see.

Go out of town

happiness

Go out of your town and spend a day in a town that you really haven’t visited in your state. (We’re visiting Dayton!)

Do something different for the fleeting month of July and report back here!

Climb Up Out of Your Comfort Zone Spend a Night in a Fire Tower

Climb Up Out of Your Comfort Zone-spend the night in a fire tower

Climb Up Out of Your Comfort Zone

Thorny Mountain Fire Tower, located in Seneca State Forest in West Virginia, was constructed in 1935 by the CCC. It was styled after western fire towers, with a larger living quarter at the top. The fire tower was renovated in 2015 and began taking reservations for overnight stays.

It’s All Old School

fire tower

You have to phone for a reservation. There is no electricity or wi-fi at the fire tower. There are no bathrooms at the fire tower living quarters-but there is a pit toilet, picnic table, and fire pit available on the ground level.

Climb to the Top

You do have to climb up three flights of fire tower steps to get to the tower. These are nice sturdy planks, with roof shingles affixed, for good footing. fire tower steps There is also wire fencing on each side, so you really can’t fall off.  It is still a steep climb of 69 steps to the top.

Fear of Heights

About one week before the solstice, the husband surprises me and says he is coming along. Despite being a former paratrooper, he is afraid of heights.  I hedge bets by putting a tent and air mattress in the vehicle.  It’s both for him -and actually for me, in case there is inclement weather. I don’t really know protocol about lightning storms in fire towers.

Stairs

We arrive in the mid afternoon. I start up  with a armful of stuff and the keys.  Not fond of steep fire tower steps, I deposit my bedding on the first landing in order to have my hands free to  be able to be able to unlock the pop up gate. The  husband is right on my heels. And I can’t figure out how to get this gate.  The husband finally gasps out, just push it up, and it goes! Now we are out the top and I quickly unlock the fire tower room.

At The Top

The room is solid, windows on all sides.  living quarters fire tower It is very cool.  The husband comes into the room. He stands around for a minute or two. I don’t’ say anything to him.  He says “nope, I can’t do it.”  He will sleep on the ground tonight.  (He thought he was getting a handle on his fear, as we had ridden a ski lift in Rotorua New Zealand that he had almost enjoyed.)  I feel bad. 

Living Quarters

There are two cots, with mattresses, about twin bed size. There are four chairs and two tiny night stands.  There is no electricity and no lighting, you will need a light source-no combustibles in the fire tower.  


door to fire tower room
There is a catwalk around the whole room, very secure, where you can also lounge and take photos from.

cat walk fire tower

view from fire tower

Dinner

The husband cooks up a great meal on the fire ring, despite me forgetting to bring our stove.

steaks

I have also forgotten the air mattress pump, and now the husband is going to sleep in our vehicle rather than on the ground!

Gloaming

My adventure has changed a bit for me, I had envisioned sitting alone, in my fire tower, writing, enjoying the view as the day wore down. kim on the fire tower

I stayed on the ground until almost twilight so my husband is not all by himself.  I climb up before it gets totally dark and enjoy the gloaming.

Night Alone

I woke up several times in the night to look at the stars. The wind would kick up now and then, but I never felt the fire tower move. (My husband said it did.)  I did have many disjointed dream fractures as I woke up countless times. I can’t say I got quality sleep, but I have never slept in the air before.

Sunrise

sunrise fire tower

The  sunrise woke me early. I  got up and peered outside several times to take pictures, as the early pinks and oranges got stronger as the dawn progressed. pinks of fire tower As soon as it was safely possible, I climbed down to join my husband for breakfast.

Husband Adventure

He has his own adventure. Getting out  of the vehicle for a bathroom break, he startled “some large animal” which crashed away from him. But the animal didn’t leave! It stayed in the edge of the woods, right past his perimeter of the light source, making noise at him.  He slept with the windows the most of the way up the rest of the night!

Can You Step out of Your Comfort Zone and Sleep in the Air?

The fire tower is a great place to have an adventure. I would imagine the fire tower in the late days of October would have to be lovely with the fall leave colors. It is extremely sturdy, there is no reason to be fearful in the room.   fire tower roomThe steps are well maintained and there is protective fencing on each side. However, you still have to climb up AND down these steps, which I will not lie, I held onto the sides and carefully climbed up and down, one step at a time.

view from fire tower

It’s a great place to have an adventure!

Celebrate the Summer Solstice Spend a Night in a Fire Tower

 

fire tower

 

I am celebrating Summer 2017 by spending the night in a fire tower.

Why? Because it’s there. It sounds cool. A cool adventure indeed.

This fire tower is located at Seneca State Forest in West Virginia. It is patterned after a western style fire tower. It was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 to provide better coverage of the Greenbrier River Valley. It stands at 53 feet with 69 steps to get to the 14′ X 14′ living quarters.  This is at 3445 feet above sea level, one of the highest standing towers in West Virginia.

There is no bathroom or electricity on the tower. There is a toilet and fire ring at the bottom of the tower, on the ground. I guess I will make sure I will have taken care of *everything* when I climb up for the night!

Stay tuned for the night in the clouds report!

 

Barkley Interviews and Reports

Post Barkley 2017 Interviews

Barkley Interviews and Reports

Just in case you did not get enough of #BM100 this year, the interviews and reports have begun trickling out of tired runners everywhere.

Audio and Video

Guillame Arthus Video of his Loop One

Jamil Coury Video of his 2017 Barkley

CBC Radio with Gary Robbins

Ultrarunner Podcast with John Kelly

Bob Babbitt chats with John Kelly

The Intelligent Racer Podcast with John Kelly

John Kelly on Sports Center!

Barkley Interview with John Kelly on Pacers Running

Talk Ultra chats  with Mike Wardian
Canadian Running Magazine talks with John Kelly on the Shake Out Podcast. The next two episodes of the Shakeout Podcast are with Gary Robbins.

East Coast Trail Runner Podcast with John Kelly

Amazing 8 minutes, all in French, but watch it!

Ginger Runner  Live with John Kelly

Citius Mag Podcast with Jamil Coury and Mike Wardian experiences

Southeastern Trail Runner Podcast talks with John Kelly

Bad Boy Running Podcast with John Kelly interview

The Printed Word

Race Report by Brandon Staponovich

Race Report  by Mikael Heerman

Print interview with John Kelly by Run Washington

A short note from Benoit  Laval

Kat’s Loop One

John Kelly’s own report on I Run Far

Crew Report from Joe Kelly!

Seth Wolpin’s Race Report

Arthus Guillame’s Report

Any others posted out there? Let me know, I would like to add to my list!

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Things I Don’t Understand About Biking

Things I Don't Understand About my Bike

This could be a long laundry list of things I don’t understand about  bikes and biking. Where to begin?

How to install water bottle and bike kit? Where do I carry the tire inflator and spare stuff? I don’t see how this fits on the bike.

What is the best way to fix a flat? I’ve only changed the tires twice. Both at home, not on the road.

How often do I need to clean my bike and oil the chain?

When do I need to replace the brake pads? Am I breaking too much going downhills?

What is a power meter and do I need one? Is a power meter the same thing as a bike computer? Do I need a bike computer? How will it help me?

How do I know what kind of brakes I  have? When do I need to replace the brake lines?

Why do my brakes squeak? Should they squeak?

How often should you replace your helmet? I do know to replace after a crash. I haven’t crashed. I think my helmet is about five years old.

Got any answers for me?

 

 

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Five For Friday: Five Reasons Why You Won’t Finish the Barkley Marathons

Five Reasons You Won't Finish the Barkley Marathons

1. You’re Not Lucky Enough

Luck plays a factor. It was unlucky that the New River was unpassable in 2000 when  Blake Wood had a good chance at finishing Loop Five. It was lucky that it was cold enough in 2017 that the cold temperatures woke up John Kelly from an unplanned nap and he finished five loops. It was bad luck that sleep deprivation led to a wrong turn for Gary Robbins.

2.You’re Not Fast Enough

Don’t worry, most runners are not fast enough. You may have won marathons, finished Nolans 14, set FKTs-the course terrain is so difficult that it is hard to get in within the time constraints on a loop.

3. You cannot Use a Compass and Map

It has been said that there is no course at the Barkley which is false. There is a course you must follow. The course is not marked, hence the course description and the master map. You do get to take your own map that you copied.  A compass might help you in the fog and dark. You have no map or compass skills? You fail.
You didn’t do your homework

In many emails on the Barkley List, finishers and veterans have given the advice to read race reports. Read Frozen Ed’s book.  Study the map. (The map is available to all from the Frozen Head State Park .) Memorize the map.  One Barker this year was impressive. She had done extensive studying of the map and potential places for the books. That is a confidence builder!

4. You didn’t look up the term hubris

Hubris: excessive pride or self confidence; (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.  Sophie Spiedel wrote a nice blog post about the Barkley and hubris. What is the fine line of confidence versus over confidence at The Barkley?

5. Just kidding nobody is supposed to finish the Barkley Marathons

bottom line on barkley;
it is not reasonable.
but if you are in this thing to find your limits….
they are to be found “out there”.
probably not nearly as far “out there’ as you would like to think.

-laz

 

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