Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year in Review - A year of a few firsts and many thirds

This year started off the same year as every other has, at Rays Mountain Bike park in Cleaveland, Ohio.  Only 10 days after I fractured my wrist(hairline) and separated my shoulder there, I returned with my dad and friends for the annual Rays MTB trip. It was a little rough riding with a brace on my wrist and my shoulder in some pain, but I made it through and it was a great time.  The day at Rays always ends at the Cici’s Pizza Buffet, a place where my exhaustion causes extreme amounts of laughter at the most ordinary things. My friends and I stuff ourselves with food and then sleep the whole way home.
Me: struggling to breath and crying of laughter. What is wrong with me?
This year was my first year of training, which sucks. Throughout the winter i spend countless hours on the trainer doing intervals of all sorts. But I just kept telling myself it would pay off when the season came around and I was fast. Spring eventually came and I was able to do my workouts outside and sanity was restored.

The beautiful view for winter

My first race as a member of the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team Powered by Pathfinder was the the Mountaineer Classic criterium in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Well, it was actually the Tour of Battenkill but that was terrible so we can just pretend that never happened. I won the Mountaineer Classic with the help of my great teammates; this was a great start to the season.

First race and first win on the team
It was four months between the Mountaineer Classic and USAC Mountain Bike National Championships, at Bear Creek Resort in Pennsylvania. Boy did those four months fly. Before I knew it I was on the start line at Nationals and all my training was about to pay off. I took third place here and that was more than enough to make me happy. If you haven’t already read about my nationals experience, I wrote a blog on that a few months ago.

You might think people at nationals are classy enough to wear full kits on the podium, but no.
After Nationals I pretty much stopped training so that I could have some more free time to relax for what little was left of my summer. I wasn’t done racing though. Around the middle of August I was racing the Cat 2 race at the Windham World Cup. I got third here as well, again, more than enough to make me happy. If you wish to read more about the Windham WC, I wrote a blog about it a few months ago as well. After Windham the only big race I had left was the Appalachia Visited Road Race in Rowlesburg, West Virginia. This race didn’t go too well either, I got dropped about halfway through and rode the rest of it pretty much alone, I don’t really like hilly road races.

Windham Podium

After Windham and Appalachia Visited, just about the only races I had left were the Month of Mud races and the ABRA cyclocross races. The MoM Series went well, but nothing super noteworthy happened. Pretty much just normal mountain bike races. Cyclocross, however, was very noteworthy. I had never raced cyclocross before so it was a new experience for me, and a good one! My first cross race was the Franklin Cyclocross race. Conditions were perfect here: sunny, dry, and fast — my favorite. I got 10th place here. My second cyclocross race was Marilla Park Cyclocross, where conditions were dark and muddy — my least favorite. It’s not that I don’t like mud, it’s just that I like to go fast and mud is not fast. I got 10th place again here, so I was being consistent. My last cyclocross race and also my last race of the season was the White Park Cyclocross race. Conditions here were awesome again: super dry and super fast. The great conditions as well as my greater experience at cyclocross now that I had 2 races under my belt contributed to my first podium finish in a CX race. Another third place! Is anybody else seeing this trend?

First CX Podium
Sometime soon after white park I got my first car. A blue Subaru Legacy GT Wagon with a 5 speed. This car is perfect! It’s quick, stealthy, somewhat uncommon, and I can fit my bike in the back no problem. It has a few problems but nothing that a little TLC and elbow grease can’t fix.
A pic I took after a ride at north Park

Artsy pic of my new car
After White Park CX I actually had no races left but I still rode every once and a while. A 50ish mile road ride with teammates Jim and Ej. A few mountain bike rides here and there. And most notably, JR’s Birthday ride. The best part of this ride, other than that it was JR’s birthday, was that after the 45 miles of up and down, I was able to justify eating pounds of food. The worst part of this ride was the saddle sores. But thanks to my teammates and their wonderful advice on how to soothe the saddle sores, I was walking normal again in about 48 hours.

Mini team ride
Now it’s December 31st, 2014. The year is coming to an end rather quickly and as much as I like going fast, I really wish time would slow down. Maybe this year I’ll go slow and take in the surroundings. On second thought, I won’t do that; going fast is too much fun.

Thanks to all the sponsors that make this great team possible. Nalini for some great kits. Swiftwick for the best socks in existence. ProGold for the best cleaners and lubes. Pathfinder for having everything I could ever need for my bicycle. And of course Kenda for the BEST tires EVER!

Most importantly, thanks each and every teammate who has made this year a great one. I can't wait to see what fun 2015 brings! Happy New Year, everybody!

Such a jolly team

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Flash Forward

I didn't realize just how long it had been since I last shared a blog with you, until I just went back and read my last entry.  Wow, time has flown by. I can't believe that the entire cyclocross season has come and gone and I didn't have a single story to share.  But the truth of the matter is that I haven't ridden much this past fall. I aggravated a knee injury (running with my nephew in Maine) and it never really healed just right until well into November. But in the weeks since I started slacking, I did manage 1 personal victory... the prestigious Eastern Ohio 40+ Time Trial Series Championship.  On this occasion, I went into the final race with a comfortable lead and finished off the podium for the first time in 6 races. However, I was able to hold onto the top overall spot by only a few points.  The best part of the experience was getting to share it with Teammate and Confidante, Billy Slutz and his daughter Addie (who bagged their own series championships as well)
3 for 3 in series championships!  30+, stoker, & 40+

Fast forward to the present and I'm starting to prep for  the coming season. I believe Albert Einstein is credited with saying that "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  Thinking about that, I realize that I am insane.  I keep putting forth the same efforts, hoping to get a better end result, but I keep ending up with mediocrity.  Well, not this year. I have decided to take a step to get to where I want to be.  I have finally bit the bullet and signed up with Performance Coaching Services for the 2015 season. I've toyed with the idea in the past, but always put it off until I got a little fitter to make best use of the financial expenditure. But inevitably I never reached THAT point, and therefore, never signed up for the service. Not this year. No more insanity.  No more excuse. BAM! Check is in the mail!

Thanks to Mom and Dad and Amber for theChristmas Gifts that made this possible!

And the insanity isn't just ending with that.  I am also committing to (I fear using the words Lifestyle Change as it conjours up images of me dressed in drag) "caloric restructuring".  What that means is I am going back to the 90/10 Nutrition program.  I did this once before with good results but got tripped up with a week long trip to Savannah and slowly got away from it. Its not a diet, but rather a change in the foods that I get to eat. I was surprised at how effective it was, and how easy it was to stick to the program.  I tried it again last year and dropped some weight, but my life got complicated and I made excuses.  But no more excuses this year. I am moving "all in" this year and recommitting myself to my goal of being called a sandbagger.  I realize that is an odd goal, but when I was doing my preliminary interview with Coach Rob, that's really all I want in 2015.

So there you are... caught up to where I am headed as the year comes to a close and we start preparing for the new year.  Stay tuned to follow my progress and keep up to date with whats going on with the rest of the team.   Hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

All We Want for Christmas is .......

Dear Santa,

For Christmas the only thing that the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team powered by Pathfinder would like is all new Cannondale bicycles for each team member.  If you are unable to make these in your workshop then you could always pick them up at Pathfinder in Morgantown, WV.  Please make sure that all bikes come with Kenda tires.  Also, please fill our stockings with ProGold products so we can keep our new bikes nice and shiny and well lubed.  We will be sure to set out some fine brews from Morgantown Brewing Company and Apothecary Ale House & CafĂ©.  Along with the fine brews we will also set out some delicious goodies from Patti's Pasticceria

Also Santa, I would recommend you picking up a new bike for yourself to shed some of that excess weight that you are currently carrying around.  I am assuming that you currently have no cycling gear so I will recommend Red Rose Imports - Europe's Finest Cycling Products!

Thanks Santa!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Base 1-Ama Dablam Uncensored

While the Tinkoff-Saxo team was thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro my wife and I were already in Kathmandu preparing for our own 16000ft+ adventure. The journey was 23 days long and the terrain was difficult but the experience was life changing. We learned so much about ourselves in those days and cold nights. We learned new limits and that what was thought to be our personal breaking points were in reality not close to what we could actually endure. We learned about a culture of beautiful people that no amount of writing could ever describe. We learned, most importantly in my eyes, to live in the moment again and appreciate what you have in front of you. 

Our journey covered many parts of Nepal which were vastly different. Each area taught us new lessons and brought together unique people from all over the globe. Some of these people will be friends forever! Lets take a little journey from Kathmandu through Lukla to Ama Dablam high in the Himalayan region of Khumjung...

It all began in Bhaktapur World Heritage Village on the outskirts of Kathmandu. We chose this area to begin so that the craziness of Kathmandu would allow for a more calm preparation period before flying to Lukla. 
Enter the limits of Bhaktapur

Not shown here is the blood stained streets. This is a culture of many Gods. The week before we arrived animal sacrifices were performed all over the city. They were offered to the gods and all parts of the animals were used but the blood remained. It sounds so barbaric but even my vegetarian wife felt that it seemed "normal" for the time and place. I'm not sure we  could have been able to stand seeing it first hand but it truly is a cultural phenomenon westerners only read about.

Streets of Bhaktapur

Streets of Bhaktapur

The local story says that the youth were often married and had children by the age of 12. Since they did not know the actions which lead to conception this temple was "Erected" to teach them. All the pillars are hand carved Wood...

After a day of planning our route we headed out to Lukla. Meet the trekking crew.

Devin Corboy, USA

Caito Amorose, USA

Dan Clements, UK-lives in Singapore-I'm still convinced he is Australian!

Ram Shakya, Nepal

The flight into Lukla is awesome! The mountain views are spectacular but the landing strip is the topper. 100 yards of an obscene grade so the planes can stop before crashing into the rock face. On departure the planes get good speed before dropping off the cliff before getting lift. It's terrifying and awesome at the same time!
Loading up in Kathmandu before going to Lukla

Yes they actually have to fly these planes. Our pilot had on a bomber jacket and aviators! 

Now that's a short runway...

There were many prayer sites in route. You would always keep these on your right when passing. It made it pretty hard when they were positioned on a cliff. That's when Ram would say a prayer for us!
Keep it to your right and spin the wheel. I always prayed for the Gods to allow Caito to make the full trip. She had plantar fasciitis pretty bad from the start. 

"Please make my foot stop hurting." I think that's what she must have been saying. I tried not to bring it up.

Dan and Ram in route to Phakding

After 4 hours of Nepal Flat Terrain we made it to the first village. Time to relax and acclimate.

Phakding-Stop 1 on the Glacier river. It ain't warm...

Glacier River

The views were began to get more incredible as we made our way into the high mountains. These next photos are from the route between Phakding and Nomche Bazaar.

"I can do it-I'm wearing Swiftwick Socks"

The high mountains begin to show themselves

One of the many suspension bridges-This was not a reassuring site as the bottom bridge was broken. We opted for the high road...

Welcome to Nomche Bazaar

View as we climbed out of Nomche

The trail was getting more difficult to climb but the views were getting even better. This is where we got our first views of Mt. Everest.

Our first good view of Mt. Everest! Its the small snow peak on the far left-The peak in the center of the photo is Ama Dablam

Have Mercy

I was able to zoom in on Mt. Everest for the first time!

Ama Dablam (the first ever 8000m summit)-The ice ridge in the middle is really a mouth saying, "Devin-You can't climb me punk." Yeah-we will just see about that...

 We climbed for days into the high mountains. After 14,000ft I think your pretty high. Walking uphill is challenging but Dan and I made it a point to take some of the steep sections full gas just to see what it would feel like. Well-it hurt and I will guarantee I was hypoxic since I was seeing stars.

Ama Dablam

Views to left of the Ama Dablam Summit Ridge

Over 15,000ft and every ridge you cross is challenging. This is where Caito started talking about Greg Brady. That's when we knew she was sicker than she led us to believe.

Caito pushed on. Here she is praying that she doesn't get cerebral edema. Well-if she wasn't she should have been...

We made base camp that day and my wife was alive. It's the first time she ever asked for a Snickers Bar. She was struggling big time...

Me taking some time to converse with the mountain. She asks, "do you really want to come up here?" I reply, "I'm not totally sure, but I'm pretty damn sure!"

What goes up must come down! Unfortunately this is were we realized the true meaning of Nepal Flat! 

Up and Down no matter where you are. Never an easy trail

Caito and Ram heading back down the mountain, So we ask why we are always going up hill. It's Nepal Flat

Looking back on what we had accomplished

Caito says goodbye to Everest and Ama

I'll be back

Days later we finish up our time in the Everest region. It is marked by this threshold and Caito's much needed glacier water foot soak.

I made it back to Lukla!


Thank you Nepal

Things are always seen clear in hindsight. When I look back now I am still overhhelmed by beauity of this place. I'm in awe of the teamwork necessary to make expeditions happen. It reminds me that without support many of the things we love would either not happen or would not be nearly as enjoyable. 
None of this would happen without the support of my wife. She is the glue that makes all the crazyness stick together. I'm happy to have had her on this adventure and am so impressed she could make it in spite of her injuries. If you have someone who glues your craziness together, don't forget to let them know. 

Take time to enjoy the scenery! I do...