Jay Challenge

The ramblings of Team Weak and Feeble (Sven Cole, Dennis Morgan, Josh Mac, Nick Lebel, and Abe Wrobleski) as we prepare for the Jay Challenge mountain bike race.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Five Years Ago

How is it possible that it has been five years since we took on the Jay Challenge Mountain Bike Race? Since then a lot of miles have been ridden, a lot of races raced, a lot of skin and blood left on the trails and pavement, jobs changed, children born, and so much more. However the spirit and comradery of Team Weak and Feeble has remained.

Ride on.

Our current adventures can be followed over on the Team Weak and Feeble blog.


Friday, August 04, 2006


ok the Jay Challenge is over so we're now over at
  • TWAF Blog

  • I hope you keep reading, 'cuz we'll keep on babbling!

    TEAM Weak and Feeble

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    A good read

    In light of all that's going on at the upper level of our sport it is good to read somethign that reminds us of who the true "heros" are in the world of cycling. I was lucky to be surrounds by a whole field of them this past weekend and will again at the 24 Hours of Great Glen. Give this a read. http://epicriding.blogspot.com/2006/07/to-everyman.html

    Dr. Evil

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Good times

    So it's over. The course, well DEA and JJ covered it pretty well in there recaps. I'll only add that there was some of the nastiest singletrack I've ever seen. Probably why I went over the bars three times in about a mile span. Would I do it again, yeah I think so. Goal was to finish and I did, 12 hours 6 minutes 40 seconds. If you'd said the day before I'd finish in just over 12 hours I would have said you were crazy, that's a long time on a bike.It definately lived up to the hype.

    I figured out the nutrition: beef jerky, dried fruit and trail mix and actually felt good most of the ride except for the verge of cramping from mile 30 on.

    Thanks TWAF for the ride and company. 24 Hours of Great Glen is next. Then what. Shenandoah 100? Any suggestions? I'm in. That was fun.


    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    and another thing...

    I forgot about the climb up Uncle Toms f*&%ing hill that sucked and the supposed "singltrack" after that. I think that was the "swearing section" Dan warned us about. I must have been repressing memories when I did my previous post. Who knows what other terrible things will surface over the coming days.

    DEA, Pamela and Tommy Lee will not let you do that race again!


    DEA babble

    Ahhh, clearer head. Amazing what about 36 hours can do to help you feel human again. The Jay Challenge Mountain Bike Race is behind us and over half a year of training, dreaming, fearing, and dreading the event is now behind us.

    I posted right after I got home on Monday, and my head was still a bit funky at that point. I was saying there was no way I would do it again, and maybe I should think back to why I was saying that before I put these next words down in writing, but I’m gonna through caution to the wind and say it- I very well might do this race again. There I said it, but I took the politicians slant giving myself an out.

    JJ put it down pretty well what the course was like. I was fortunate that I didn’t really have any stomach issues for most of the day. I did enjoy six hours of cramping of my thighs but I seemed to figure out ways to continue to move forward, just not at the pace that I had hoped to “ride”. That’s part of it, how does your body react to the stress of an event of this nature. I’m not totally satisfied with the way my body reacted but I did learn a great deal and have a plan on how I might deal with it- in fact A1 can “pay me back” for getting my into cycling as I’m going to “let him” teach me about weight training. (That may be news to him!)

    My bike ran well, and when it was having issues it seemed that a touch of lube on the drive train seemed to solve the issue- so take note (self included) bring a small bottle of lube! I was lucky to have a support person at station 7 hook me up with lube and then a guy from FirstTrax at station 9 not only provided the lube but actually applied it for me (thanks!).

    Mentally I felt pretty good up to station 10, at that point my ability to stay positive began to wane. I’ve always been pretty good about staying positive but this event pushed me to the point of negativity more than anything else in my life. I think I managed to stay positive but there were times when I felt like I was looking at the world through Sadam’s eyes- kinda scary. Of course having gone through that would be an advantage next year as you know to not ask and to not ever allow yourself to think you are near the end. If you can do that then you can be pleasantly surprised when you do finally see the finish.

    The terrain was amazing, not sure if Vermont has a thing for building crazy roads that just reach for the sky for no apparent reason- it certainly appears so. Dan is a sick man, but he tells you that up front. He’s the most honest promoter I’ve ever come across- and don’t ever think he’s just trying to scare you- he’s telling you the truth about how tough his course is going to be. When he says he’s going to take you over every peak he can find he’s not kidding. You can tell he comes from the adventure racing world and not the mountain bike world as much of the course had no flow and at times the trail seemed to take the least rideable line there was. Then again he warned us!

    I need to say right here and now that I bow down to those Challenger racers who do the 3 day- I have no idea how you do it. I talked with a few of you and saw how you were walking BEFORE the start of the mtb race- the fact that you started, much less finished (and much faster then me I might add) the mtb portion is truly amazing!

    I’m proud as hell of my teammates. Everyone put out a fantastic effort and we had three members make it to the finish. Despite losing NK (mechanical) and PJ (needs a new back) on the course we had a great time riding with them while they were on course and NK was huge in cheering us on in the end and helping us out once we finished, including going to get the pizza- I’m not sure if I said thank you for that, so THANK YOU NK!

    I’m not sure what it means that the race is now behind us. Will we continue to train? I hope so. We have the 24 Hours of Great Glen coming up and then there are lots of other races in the fall. Maybe I can convince some of these guys to ski Great Glen to Bretton Woods this winter (a 50km xc ski race that starts on one side of Mt. Washington and finishes on the other). Maybe they can convince me to do something stupid- we shall see.

    A huge thank you to my wife and kids for helping me through this. Karen being at aid station 2 and 5 was a huge boost. A huge thank you to all those who have been following the blog and who gave us support while we were out on course- that was pretty cool. And thank you to my TWAF teammates, the last 9 months have been pretty cool- let’s keep it rolling!

    Is it over or is it just starting? Hmm that’s the big question.

    See you on the trails-


    Well its over, even the crying (sorta long)

    We set our alarms for 5AM to get up and get ready to head to the start line. I did not sleep well Saturday night. When I woke up I did not feel great or refreshed. I showered and went to get some breakfast in the kitchen. As I sat down to eat, I couldn’t really get much down. I was only able to finish about half of my oatmeal. I downed a drinkable yogurt and a Red Bull and hoped I wasn’t going to have stomach issues all day.

    After breakfast we all got our gear ready and headed up to the Base of Jay where the Start/Finish area is. We were all ready for the 7:00AM start. Then the race director hopped up on a picnic table and said the race start was going to be delayed by 30 minutes. About 45 minuted later the race got underway. As we headed out of the gate it was pretty cool. Spirits were good and I think we were all looking forward to a good day of riding.

    As we started the initial approach to climb Jay Peak, I started dropping through my gears. Once I was on my smallest ring up front I worked closer and closer to my granny gear in the back. The trail started to pitch up and some folks were already off their bikes pushing them. I dropped to my granny gear and as my chain went over the cog it kept going, right into the spokes of the wheel. After some swearing I got off and pulled the chain out and trier to get it on the granny gear. After putting it on I remounted my bike and as I put power to my pedals it went over the top again. I got off once more and looked at the deraileur and deraileur hanger. It didn’t look right. My hanger was bent. I realized at that moment, a mere 5 minutes into the race that I did not have my granny gear. So between my stomach and my gear I was losing ground on my TWAF teammates. I pushed my bike with some nice folks as we made our way to the top of Jay. I couldn’t see anyone I knew anymore as they had put some distance on me. The climb to the top took about an hour and 10 minutes. It was tough but I felt OK as I got to the top and the unloading station for the tram. I took about 45 secs to grab a gatorade and a cup of water. I had heard the trip down was very hairy. I figured it was my only chance to catch my TWAF crew was to go down as fast as possible. About a third of the way down I caught NK who was riding some stuff that was just nuts. I continued on and soon met up with A1. We continued in to Aid Station#2 where we found DEA and PJ had arrived a few seconds before. DEA’s wife Karen met us there and we reloaded on supplies and were off.

    We rode as a group to Aid Station #3, some of it on an access road at Jay and then on to some pavement. We made a 3 minute pit stop at AS#3 and reloaded. Upon leaving we found some nice singletrack riding and continued climbing. About 3-4 miles later we were at the next Aid Station. A1 had some issues staying on his bike as he went over the bars 3 times. The trail was wet in places and slick here and there, but overall it was rideable. AS#4, another pit stop and we were then onto AS#5.

    Not much between AS#4 & 5 but after there it was a long 17 mile stretch to AS#6. A lot of this was on dirt roads and some pavement. It was a relatively fast section of the race and I think we were all still feeling pretty descent, except PJ. His back was starting to seize up on him and when we met Karen at AS#6 we didn’t see PJ before we left again. He decided upon arriving that he had enough and had Karen taxi him back to the condo, day over for PJ.

    We made out way up the road a bit and into a field where we found another AS and then were told there was a small climb and some sweet singletrack and a great descent. We started the climb and it went on for a while. About half the way up NK was in front of me and as he was crossing a ditch I heard the sound of e bolt snapping in half. NK’s seat was no longer attached. Metal pieces were on the ground. I knew from experience that his day was over. NK still held out some hope and said he would break out his tools at the top of the climb and fix it. I knew otherwise. This was the last we saw of NK on the trail. The singletrack was very good. Something I would like to ride again. The descent was a blast with some pretty cool features as well. We came out of the woods and were at AS#7. We had about 36 miles in 5 ½ hours and it was 1:18 in the afternoon. We refueled and then began the ride towards AS# 8. I think we all felt pretty good at this point. Sun was out, but it was not hot, no humidity. I was still not eating well, except for the Accel Gels. I was downing one of those every 45 minutes along with lots of fluids.

    The ride to AS#8 was almost our undoing. Sadly enough most of it was on paved roads. We went about 8 miles in just under 2 hours. It was terrible. Not the steepest road, but it was demoralizing. We got off our bikes on pavement and started walking. We made it to the AS at just a few minutes after 3PM, The awards ceremony was happening now. We were only 44 miles in. We thought we still had about 21 miles to go. We took about 6 ½ minutes to drink and reload supplies and rolled down a short hill and back onto Jay property. We rode up the access road we descended earlier and once we hit the top of that bunny slope we cruised down through the Base area where we were cheered on by NK and Gerry Hunt, the PR director for the event. A great guy. It was cool blowing through thinking you were closing in on AS #9 down in the Town of Jay. The lack of the granny gear was now taking its toll on me as I was having trouble hanging with A1 and DEA. There was a lot of climbing in this section that just didn’t have a gear for, so I walked and walked. Finally it started down and there was some nice riding to be had. I finally made it to AS#9 and saw that DEA was there but getting ready to head out. I took me an hour and 32 minutes to go 10 miles. He asked if I wanted him to wait and I thought about it as it would be nice to have someone to ride with again. I didn’t think it was fair to have him wait on me as I was getting pretty spent. It was ___PM, I made the cutoff, no automatic DNF. It took 10 minutes to get back on the road. We were told it was 13 miles to the finish. I could do that. I was all up hill I figured, but I could do it.

    So I started riding to AS #10, this was now a point to point ride. Make it to the next Aid Station and reassess. It was up hill. First on pavement, then a dirt road, then the Catamount Ski trail. It was up and up, about 1,000 feet of climbing and I decided that it was getting somewhat difficult to continue. My stomach was not good, I was starting to play mind games with myself and I was doing an awful lot of walking. I was alone on the trail, no one was around. Was I the last one? Great I am DFL I thought!! My pace was slipping and the sun was getting lower in the sky. When I finally got to AS#10 I was happy to see a couple other racers. We chatted and one of them recognized my jersey and the blog. He actually enjoyed it. Hearing that helped me a lot. Sort of gave me some extra energy. We headed out at the same time together and basically rode together on most of this section. It was terrible. The volunteer at the AS said it was about 3 miles and didn’t really have any elevation gain. Silly me I thought that meant no climbing. 58.5 miles, figured I had 7 or so to go. Three to AS#11 and 4 to the line. I was thinking it was possible to finish at this point.

    We started to AS#11 and all we did was climb, or should I say walk. It was steep, uneven, if there was a hill or ramp we went up it, if there was a ridge we went along it, if there was a peak we went over it. As we got to the top I was cursing the volunteer who told me it was 3 miles. No way I thought. At the top there was a pile of rocks and we went over that as well. I thought on the way down I could recover some and have something left for the finish. Wow was I wrong. It went down, but much of it was not rideable. I had to walk very carefully down quite a bit of it. I doubt it would be rideable even with fresh legs. Once I got off that mountain I was on a paved road and coasted into AS#11, the last aid station. 64 miles into the race that was billed to be 65 miles. I had already climbed 11,500 feet. I was no where near the finish. The volunteer at the Aid Station said I was past the DNF cutoff so all I had to do was make it to the line to finish and I would get my Finisher’s Medal. He said it was 3-5 miles. With about half climbing fire roads and half climbing in the woods. It was about 6:45 PM. The sun was starting to be hidden by the mountains. I started the climb and it wasn’t long before I was walking again. No granny gear. I was resigned to walking the last part of this. I was with the guy I had met at AS#10 and we climbed and walked. There was a downhill section that was sketchy and I decided I was tired of walking so I rode it, I made it but the guy I was with got off his bike as it was not a safe descent. We were going along and it was getting darker. I had put my sunglasses away a while before as they were too dark for the woods. We crossed the road the goes to Jay and the Sheriff said it was 2 miles tot he line. I had decided that meant 10 miles as no one had been accurate yet today.

    We went across the road and I saw that I was about 100 yards from our condo. Hmm, I could coast down hill to my bed. Very tempting. We made it to the woods and it was muddy, wet and sloppy, 2 miles of this would take at least another hour or so. I dried up some but there was still very little riding and a lot of bike pushing. Finally we could see the golf course and thought we were close, but no the trail turned away from Jay. We followed the river bank and then crossed it next to a perfectly good bridge. After that crossing we hiked through some more woods until we got to the last dirt road that led to the Jay parking lot. You could hear the PA system and people and saw cars and live humans. I decided that I wanted to see if I had anything left in the tank at all and pushed as big a gear as I could and was able to finish a couple of seconds ahead of the guy I was riding with.

    Not sure of the exact time as my GPS died at AS#11, but I was told it was 12 hours and 34 minutes. 72 miles or so. The last 3-5 miles was 8. A1 was first to arrive with DEA not far behind. I brought up the TWAF rear so to speak.

    Gerry from Jay sent us an email this morning telling us that:

    To put your performance in perspective, here are a couple of facts:

    1) I believe the starting number was about 182 riders

    2) As of the time you finished, there were about 30 DNF's (including 2 that were taken away in ambulances!)

    3) As of the time I left (shortly after Dennis came in), there were still some 20+ bikers out on the course.

    So it appears, no matter how you slice it, there were over 50 behind you....you guys finished in the top two thirds of all starters.

    An accomplishment yes, fun, not sure.

    Hopefully we'll have official results and some pics soon. Thanks to all for all the support. We needed it for sure.


    Monday, July 31, 2006


    It's over. JJ, A1, and I made it to the finish line. NK and PJ both had issues, on being mechanical and the other his back so they had to drop, but up to that point we pretty much road as a group.

    I'm not sure what to say. It took a long time (over 12 hours), I walked a lot, I had to urge myself to just keep moving, and I was happy but not euphoric when I finished.

    Will I do it again? Most likely not. This was an epic event, but it was epic in its adventure status- not in an epic ride way. If you want to do something that is an adventure and you don't care if you walk as much as you ride then this event is for you. If you want to do an epic mountan bike ride with mostly single track that has great flow then this isn't for you. I'm glad I did it, but not in a rush to do it again! NK and PJ of course have to go back next year to get their medals! Dare I say I would consider running the 1/2 marathon up there before I ride it again.

    I'll write more once my head is working, but right now I'm gonna go chuck my nasty kit in the wash and take a nap. Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way, it was cool to talk to and hear from people at the event who were down with TWAF.

    Keep riding and smiling, next up 24 Hours of Great Glen!



    Sunday, July 30, 2006

    let's hear it for the boys

    hi. this is a very dejected, yet satisfied nK reporting on the saga of TWAF - we've reached the culmination of nine months of blood, sweat and tears, if anyone's man enough to admit shedding them.

    i just about did. i say that because the race is still going on around me (A1, JJ and DEA are still on course; PJ didn't make it either), and i'm in the VIP tent, posting this.

    so, just in case anyone wonders what happened to ol' korea slim, let me tell you the story: the climb up jay was, for racers kickass and amateur, mostly a hike-a-bike. it was just too damned steep and those steeps were too damned sustained to possibly kick any kind of gear up it, so there was a bataan death march of riders pushing their metal up to the peak. and you know what? all of us finished the march in the top quarter, so we felt pretty good. the ride down? faaaaaaaaaaaast. we saw the aftermath of one pretty gnarly wreck, and hit the bottom for aid station #2, where we saw DEA's lovely wife karen who wished us well and made back for north conway.

    after leaving the jay base area, we hit pavement for a while, which lead to a nasty climb up to an amazing set of singletrack (where A1 went over the bars an impressive three, count 'em, three times), and the riding felt GOOD. i felt GREAT! this was what we'd trained for, and we were nailing it! ah, sweet payoff! so, out of the singletrack and onto some logging and residential dirt roads for some hurtful quick climbs and some brisk, brisk descents. from aid station 4 (the end of the singletrack) to station 5 (the end of the dirt roads) was a quick, quick 15 miles or so, putting us at roughly 30 miles, where all was going excellent (although we suspect this is where PJ left us, but we'll get back to you on that - nK's unofficial guess is the back from hell gave him some pressure).

    so, we climbed a quick, steep hill and then rode through someone's pasture, where we ducked into some SWEET singletrack. this was where things went terrible. we hit a waterbar, and i heard a huge bang, and realized that i was no longer sitting on a seat. instead, my ass was introduced to the seatpost... not in that way, but it could have at least bought me a drink.

    but, that's OK! i was sure i could get through that section and manage to get to the next aid station where i could fix the problem. so, i sent everyone else off, and i did some hike-a-bike once again, trying to get to a downhill section where i could actually ride. well, i found some, and as i went over a log pyramid, i heard another weird noise, and as i did that, came to a complete stop. that'll happen when your back wheel POPS OFF and you can't get it back on!!

    the bike went on my back, my day over. three busted spokes on the wheel taco'ed it like a bad mexican nightmare, and i had to hike about three miles out of the woods, on course of course, to get to the aid station. AAAAAAARGH.

    this kills me, because we were riding together, i felt great, and i knew i had it in me to finish, after i was convinced i'd be bagging it early on. 34 or so miles into it, i felt like a million bucks.

    all i can say is, there's always next year. check in later for the finisher's reports, and wish them the best. dammit, dammit, dammit.

    i gave it my all and got bit by the worst possible bug: gremlins in the equipment. total system failure makes it hard to use your tools. at least it wasn't my body giving out. that'll be tonight, as i drink myself into an absolute and horrific stupor.

    with tears staining the keyboard,
    north Korea slim