Big time change is on the horizon. First, please make note that this will be the last blog entry on this web address. The new caveman website is up and running. I haven’t had time to tweak it, just to set it up, so don’t expect any razzle dazzle. The new web address is http://www.gregcavemanparham.com.
Now that housekeeping is out of the way, time for the serious news. The past few weeks have been absolutely debilitating to me. I have been working hard on a big remodel to my rental and the effort has drained my time, energy, and finances. The work is done and it will rent soon, hopefully, but it took a heavy toll on me mentally and physically. Things were really compounded when I found out my marriage was failing. I won’t go into detail, but things have gotten to a point with Colleen and I that she asked for some time on her own. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but I am going to give her the time and space she needs to get things sorted out.
It has been a very tough year for me so far, marked by failure and setbacks. I quit the 12 hour race at Warda back in February for reasons still unknown. I started a TMBRA season in an exciting new category I felt I could excel in with a lackluster 4th place. Shortly thereafter, my season was over from a serious accident resulting in a dislocated shoulder. I’ve lost work, income, sanity, and much more from this unfortunate circumstance. It was also about this time that I noticed things not going well with my marriage. My real estate business has gone virtually nowhere. The Paleo blog I put a ton of work into hasn’t made a single dime. Other business ventures have also failed.
I’m packing my bags slightly heavy and leaving Texas to start the next chapter in my life. I’m looking for adventure, but I’m also looking for a little solitude and reflection. I’m looking to put this years failures and setbacks behind me and start anew. Don’t know where I’m going yet, but I do know there will be fresh mountain air, rivers running wild, daytime highs that don’t flirt with 100 degrees each day, night time lows below 75, new faces, and mile upon mile of awesome singletrack. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. Could be 2 months, could be 2 years. At the moment, there isn’t a whole lot tying me down to Austin. I love Austin, and I’m sure I’ll miss it, but there are a lot of things I won’t miss, particularly the traffic and the heat. It’s just not the same town I came to 11 years ago.My heart really beckons for something a little slower pace, yet a lot more wild.
Wherever life finds me, I know I will be happy and I will be free, the two most important things in life. Aside from leaving my beloved wife, leaving my dog Ladybird is going to be the hardest thing to leave behind. The greenbelt will always be there, as will the Colorado river and vibrant Austin skyline. Lost time with my best workout buddy, that’s a different story. I hope she gets to run and play as much as a Blue Lacy needs to.
I am posting this Monday night, I will be out of Austin by Tuesday afternoon. I plan on doing one last greenbelt ride early AM, finish tying up all my loose ends, finish packing, and hitting the road. Please bookmark/subscribe/check in every now and then the new web address for updates on where I’m at and how things are going. It’s been a grand journey so far, but the best is always yet to come. Thanks for following my adventures so far.
To my Cupcake, I miss you already and hope that our time apart fulfills its purpose and we can enjoy each other’s company once more. I love you.
The weekend went according to plan and I did make it to Warda to participate in the Blazing Saddles 6 hour race on Saturday. Ladybird and I made it out to the ranch around 4pm and started setting up. Former NRC/Pedalmasher head honcho James Webb showed up about a half hour later and started setting up his gear next to mine, as we had coordinated earlier in the week. Both of us would be racing completely self supported, other than having each others tools/food/water to share. Having Colleen at these long races has really spoiled me, but I’m no stranger to self supported racing and this go round it was actually kind of nice. I wasn’t out to win this one, and not having to squeeze every single second out of my feed zone times helped reinforce this mentality.
The Solo Open Men took off at 6pm followed by the Solo Men 1 minute later, and then 2 person teams and women (the open class is more competitive and has higher payout, it is what I race). The Texas summer did not disappoint this day. Race start was probably around 98 degrees (at least it wasn’t 106 like we’ve hit in the past few weeks) but this was still plenty hot to punish any who dare forsake it. I mentioned in my last post that heat tolerance was one of the only advantages I had going for me. While I can do low intensity work all day in the heat, racing in it is a different story.It still zapped me and forced me to stay below my threshold. I felt like I had the legs, just not the conditioning needed to fuel the legs at this temperature. So, I let lots of people pass and told myself I am a second half racer-when these hot heads are spent after a few laps I’ll still be consistent and cruise on by.
I was racing Long Tall Sally 2.0 for the first time. Mike of YBS bikes had dropped it off Wednesday that week and I hurried to get her built and dialed in before the race. I normally would never do anything like this since it is asking for mechanical and bike fit issues, but since I wasn’t planning on being super competitive for this race, I saw it as a great chance to break her in. Also, before the frame came in, I was debating which bike to race-Proud Mary the light fast snappy hardtail, or Big Tex the heavier but much more comfortable full suspension. Having limited ride time the past few weeks, I didn’t know If I could handle 6 hours on an alloy hardtail. A steel hardtail was a good compromise. Heavier than the Kona Kula (only about 1.5 lbs), but lighter than the fully, with the supple riding quality of steel!
I had my only mechanical on the first lap. I washed out in a sandy turn and had to put my foot down. The chain jumped off the big ring onto the crank arm. I was using an old bent front derailleur that my sponsor shop had lying in the scrap box in the back ( the frame clearances are a little weird on this bike and this was the only one we found that was compatible). It wasn’t an ideal setup, but after that little flop I didn’t have one single problem with the bike the rest of the race. I loved the 2×9 gearing with 40/27 up front and 34/11 in the rear. I am going to see about going to a 36 or 38 ring instead of a 40 so I can stay in the big ring more often and spin a little faster.
The evening wore on and after 4 laps it was getting dark. Threw the lights on and started out for lap 5. The heat had taken its toll on just about everybody at this point. Riders were dropping like flies. I was feeling ok though, and kept chugging along. Just as predicted, I began passing riders and building my confidence. I felt my second wind coming on and the pace picked up. My legs had reached that point of fatigue where the pain somehow feels good and you get a sense that you can ride forever. My biggest concern coming into the race, whether or not my butt would hold up from saddle soreness, didn’t seem to be an issue. All of a sudden, the race demon came out, sort of.
I knew the lead was out of the question ( the winner, Tristan Uhl would actually lap me at the end of this lap), but, I figured If i pushed hard and made up 5 minutes a lap, I could catch anyone within 20 minutes. Maybe I could get a podium spot. I kept the pace high.
After a short break back at camp, I started on the 7th lap. I could tell my motor skills were fading even though my muscles felt fine. I’ve dealt with failing motor skills in the middle of 24 hour races at 2:30am, but never at a 6 hour at 10:30pm. This started a bit sloppy and just got worse until I smacked a tree with my left handlebar. My right shoulder is the one recovering from dislocation, but the impact was kind of an action-reaction sequence and jerked my right shoulder forward unexpectedly. It wasn’t excruciating pain, maybe 7 out of 10, but it gave me a pretty good scare. With 10,000 more trees between me and the finish line, I decided to play it safe, slow down, and call it a day after this lap. I rolled in at 11:06pm, a little bummed I didn’t go the full 6 hours, but pleased nonetheless with the effort and really, really excited that the race demon had paid me a visit.
There is a 6 hour race at Warda this weekend that I plan on competing in. It will be the 2nd race I’ve attempted since recovering (mostly) from the accident March 16. It will be the first endurance event I’ve attempted since then. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even done anything over about 3 hours. This relentless Texas summer promises to make this one a scorcher. It will start at 6pm and last til midnight. I bet at midnight, the temp will still be around 85 degrees, hot enough for bike parks in Canada to issue heat advisories. Ha! 85 is pleasant to a tried and true Texan this time of year. My heat tolerance is about the only thing I have going for me since I’ve been working a lot on my rental without any AC. I have been riding more, but not really enough to be competitive.
My last two experiences at Warda have been less than satisfactory. The strange withdrawal at the 12 hour, and the 4th place finish at the XC race a few weeks later. This time will be different though, because I have no expectations, other than to get some ride time in and have some fun. If for some reason I accomplish neither of these, then at that point I might be a little upset. Otherwise, I aim to keep it chill and attempt to finish.
About the bike pics. This is Long Tall Sally 2.0. If you recall, YBS Bikes agreed to build me a custom steel 29er for way cheap as a prize for winning the 2010 24 Hours of Rocky Hill. The frame they built was cool, but they left off a few details, so I sent it back to get tweaked and this time they got it right. Excellent customer service! I do really enjoy single speed riding, but I also enjoy what gears can bring to the table! With a derailleur hanger and some cable stops, the frame is now ready to accept gears! I threw on my trusty 2×9 middleburn DUO setup and also added a brand spanking new FOX F29 fork (which YBS also gave me a great deal on) and I look forward to trying out this setup at Warda this weekend. As it stands, Colleen will be out of the country for work and I haven’t found anyone to man the caveman pit, but I’m ok going unsupported for this one. Sometimes its more fun this way.
I woke around 7:30am this morning. Somehow the low 80’s temp felt cool. I’ve been doing LOTS of physical labor throughout these 100 degree days in central Texas. Water seems to sweat right out as soon as I drink it. BUT, I’m becoming very tolerant to the heat once more. When you’re used to 100, 83 does indeed feel pretty cool. So cool in fact, that I was inspired to hit the trail with Big Tex (bike) and Ladybird (pooch). We quickly packed up and headed off for the 360 trailhead before the mercury climbed back to 100. It’s been about 2 weeks since I’ve got to mountain bike and it was just an absolute blast.
After clearing the middle grounds and riding past an empty twin falls, we decided to hop on Rudy’s loop. The heat of the day was starting to show itself by the time we ascended to the top. On the way down, I spooked a doe and nearly slammed her at a pretty good clip. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to hitting a deer, but a good grip of the brakes avoided catastrophe and we made it back down to the main trail safely. At the bottom of the hill of life was enough water for the dog to get a good sip and cool off in.
Having felt Ladybird was refreshed, we took off for the ultimate Greenbelt achievement, something I can’t remember the last time I attempted: climbing the Hill of Life without stopping. I hadn’t attempted this in a while because I’m usually on a a Singlespeed and just don’t have the gears or legs needed to crest this very steep and technical climb. Today I had 27 gears and 100mm of suspension front and rear with the biggest nobbiest tires I own. I didn’t know if I had the fitness, but I was going to find out. I actually only dabbed once on the toughest ledge to clear, but still felt very proud upon reaching the top.
I dusted the dog on the way back down and we made our way back to the car. I probably pushed her a little too hard since she was gasping horribly for air, but the Max A/C along with more water to her back got her feeling better just in time for breakfast at Maria’s taco express. Three migas tacos and I was set for the rest of the day. I still think I’ll be doing some sort of racing come fall, but right now, I’m just riding for the fun of it, which is the best kind of riding there is. Maybe the kindle can wait til daily highs get back below 90 degrees🙂
If you haven’t seen the update on Paleo Diet and Living yet, the big news of the day is that an interview by Paleo Cookbooks has been published with me as the featured guest. It’s an easy and informative read about how the paleo diet has helped me as an athlete. Check it out when you get a moment.
Good Lord Almighty. Following the progress I’ve been having with my shoulder-slow, but steady- I decided in the eleventh hour that the last TMBRA race of the season would be a good morale booster. I was even hopeful that I could still hang with the big boys in the Singlespeed Open category. It is always important to separate your hopes from your expectations! ESPECIALLY after 9 weeks off the bike. Especially when you decide to restart your racing career riding a rigid singlespeed on the course I had to ride Sunday with the weather that ensued.
New for the Rocky Hill race this year was a Euro style short 4 mile loop. The Pros had to do 5 laps, and singlespeeders got a “break” only having to do 4 laps. I parenthesize “break”, because the course was not very singlespeed friendly. A lot of new trail had been cut connecting some of the hillier parts of the course making it a constant up or down slug through the woods. The new cuts weren’t broken in yet either, making for a bumpy ride. Either that, or I’ve just become extremely wussified. I think had it not been around 95 degrees with 75% humidity it would have been a little more tolerable. Instead, it turned out to be one of the worst suffer fests I’ve ever endured. Thank God it only lasted 1 hour and 49 minutes.
But still, I’m usually able to excel in difficult weather conditions. It is blatantly obvious to me how important conditioning is to overcoming such obstacles. My body was working double overtime trying to hang with the field, and that effort, compounded with the heat, nearly put in me in heat exhaustion. I thought about throwing in the towel mid way through lap two. This thought was reinforced when I came across Jeff Campbell, a super tough singlespeeder catching his breath at the top of the worst climb on the whole course. He was cussing the heat and saying how he was going to quit when he reached the finish. Must have changed his mind, because after I changed my mind to keep going I saw him taking off for the third lap. That third had me questioning whether my decision to continue was a good one. At this point I was forced to walk the tougher climbs.
On the last lap, I was starting to feel cold shivers and could feel things starting to shut down. Luckily, there was a beer party sponsored by Shiner hanging out at the top of “The Wall”. I desperately needed something cold, and this place had my answer. With a simple left arm reaching towards the masses, a cold pint of Shiner Bock beer magically appeared in my hand. The frosty beverage was downed in one fell swoop, and after paying my respect to the hecklers I was off again. It was just what I needed to make it to the finish line.
I spent some time at the Bicycle Sport Shop tent (my wife’s team, she raced earlier in the morning) cooling down with ice and more beer. There didn’t seem to be any shortage of beer at this race and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t about to enjoy it after that hell hole of a bike ride. I ended up 5th of 8, only because 3 riders Did Not Finish ( I think the heat took its toll on them too). The price for my “moral victory” was quite steep. Heat exhaustion is no laughing matter. But in the end, I’m glad I went out and gave it a go. The support from fellow racers and spectators who were happy to see me back out doing what I love was very encouraging. Thanks to everyone who passed along kind words or pats on the back.
From here I start doing what I should have done prior to this race, gradually get back in shape, and who know maybe I’ll find some odd races to do in the summer but Fall will remain my main focus. That day long race at the end of October is still kind of on my mind too🙂 Hope everyone has a fun and safe memorial day weekend and enjoys the start to another summer!
Here is a little less painful looking picture on the first lap when I still had a little zip in me!
It was about two weeks ago I remember picking up my slingshot to see if I could still draw it. I couldn’t. It was a bit demoralizing. Things are starting to change though. Sunday, I felt it was time to hit the trail once more. I grabbed Big Tex and the dog and we made a trip to the holiest of places in Austin, the Greenbelt. We started out pretty chill, and I tried my best to keep it this way. The shoulder felt fine. The legs and lungs surprisingly felt fine. My technical skills hadn’t diminished one single bit, in fact, they almost seemed better because I was riding at such a chill pace. I wasn’t planning on hitting up any backtrails since they are more technical than the main trail and fewer people use them, meaning I could be in trouble if I took a spill, but after Bird and I got to the dam and swam, we decided that it was just too nice a day to go home so soon. So we pushed deeper into no man’s land hitting up woodchip hill and then Travis Country. There is a nice little spot atop a bluff where you can stop and overlook the valley below, so we stopped for a little sunbath and to give thanks to the Creator for the beautiful day and many blessings bestowed upon us. I don’t know how, but I cleared that entire section of trail all the way to the power line. It was like my skills had gotten better with the time off the bike. We took the powerline trail all the way back to the creek before heading back to the 360 parking lot. It was about a 3 hour trip including stops, and surprisingly enough, the shoulder felt ok.
My first physical therapy (PT) session had occurred the Friday before, and I had noticed some improvement, which spurred me to go for the ride. Although there wasn’t a lot of pain, the ride sort of cinched things up and we had to work it back out with my Monday session. I don’t have regrets for doing the ride, and besides, you don’t know how an organism responds to a stimulus without testing it out. The Monday PT session wasn’t as promising and much more painful, to the point that I came close to blacking out again, but these things take time.
Today, Tuesday, something happened that inspired me to see if I could draw my hunting bow. I took it out and tried and nada. It was set at the maximum 60 lb draw weight from when I was healthy. So I took out my allen wrench and backed off the weight some. Don’t know what it is, maybe 35 or 40 lbs, but I can draw it! First shot I tried to take and my string peep exploded and the arrow just fell to the ground. Nock must have slipped causing a “dry fire”. So now I’ve got sight pins, but no sight peep. The pins are pretty much worthless without a peep, so I take the pins off and I now all I have is my instinct. I’m also having to shoot with a finger tab since my trigger release glove has made my draw length too long (I think because I let so much weight off). Shooting a modern compound bow with old school techniques is interesting. But you know what, after a few shots of learning where the arrow went relative to my reference point, I nailed the target!
After that got a little tiring, I decided to play with the slingshot, which had demoralized me in the first place. I found a nice round rock, and happen to notice an ugly bird staring at my tomato plant which has some nice green tomatoes on it at the moment. I draw, take aim, and BAM! Rock hits the ground about 1″ away from the bird. A non-lethal shot, but effective, nonetheless.
So, all these things are small victories for me. Not as exciting as winning a 24 hour race, but the journey to success starts with a single footstep. What footsteps are you needing to take? Thanks for reading.
It has been almost 8 weeks since the accident that dislocated my right shoulder. It’s been a little over 2 weeks since I launched the new website. Time flies. It seems like yesterday I was laying on the couch watching movies on netflix with my arm in a sling. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to do the things I loved ever again. The body is a resilient thing though, especially when you follow the Paleo Diet and and live like a Caveman!
I’m happy to report that I can do push ups and pull ups, cut down trees, work on the house, run , and you guessed it, ride a bike. Now just because I can do these things doesn’t mean I am, at least not in any intensity that leads me to believe I might pop my humerus back out of the shoulder joint. Riding my commuter around town doesn’t hurt at all so at least I can get places without having to drive. Driving sucks.
I have hopped on some fat tires to take the dog for a run in some neighborhood parks and trails.It feels alright as long as I take it easy. Big bumps and roots hurt. My desire to be racing again by the fall shouldn’t be a problem. While I never enjoy injury, I do enjoy bouncing back from it and coming back a little stronger. I long to be doing classic greenbelt rides so badly, but they will have to wait and I have full confidence I could sustain a fall without re-injury.
I start rehab this week and hopefully the doc can help break up all that scar tissue and restore my range of motion. Currently, any motion with my arm raised above my shoulder is painful or just not possible. Swimming might be something I won’t make a full comeback at, but I’m not going to say never!
I’ve been thinking a little bit about what to do with this blog. Now that the other heavy duty Paleo site is up, I won’t be posting anymore articles about the Caveman diet, workouts, or lifestyle on this blog. Those will all be on the new site. I will, however, continue to post race reports and personal insights that I feel worthy of sharing. I might even revamp this blog so that I own it and wordpress doesn’t. This will give me some flexibility that the free wordpress platform doesn’t (plus my own domain name!) No hurry though. If that day comes I will certainly announce it on this site.
Hope everyone is enjoying this lovely spring weather. Summer is right around the corner!