Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Denelle changed the name after the event to this one. I have to agree, what a course. Lots of fast, fast, fast sections made for a really nerve addled trip around the course everylap. For the first time I felt like I was actually overriding my HID light beam......and that takes some serious speed. My bar clock recorded 35 mph at one point going downhill through the trees and berms......fast.
Gotime, suited up in the new Trek team kit, sunscreened, fed, lubed up (chamois), and itching to ride after a few days of taper.
Typical Lemans style start, run, run, run. The team riders were allowed to tag off at their bikes, so they could use a runner in tennis shoes to sprint ahead and tag off to the guy in cycling garb to open up the bike leg full bore. I took a solid jog to the bikes about 300 yards away, mounted up and headed off on the first lap. The first lap used the old course and bypassed the newly built section, so first lap times were way faster than every post-ceding trip. Things opened up pretty quick. No backups, no stumbling beginners to contend with....awesome.
Lap one down
Lap one finished quick, I grabbed a bottle from Dave and Jason in the pit, cruised out again for lap two. The legs were saying, "go, go, go." but the mind knew I had to hold back as I had 23.5 more hours of this fun to survive. So I sat back, and tried to entertain myself on the mind numbing parts by drinking and eating.....cytomax and cytogel, powerbars, plants....whatever.
lap 4 down
4 laps in, still feeling solid. Riding the climbs in the middle ring still, eating big: gels, powerbars, more cytomax....yum.
Lap 6 down
Time to acknowledge that it is gonna start getting dark, and I have an entire night of sufferage ahead. I decide to commit to the granny ring for climbing in hopes of staving off muscle failure until morning. Gotta save something for the race for placings that will occur in the final 4 hours of the event.
Lap 10 down.
Nausea. While the idea of eating big may seem good, it should not be only on machine made foods and drinks. My gut is loaded....I want to just pull the trigger and puke, but that will ruin everything. I stop in the pit for a change of clothes, Jason takes care of my bike, Dave helps hand me clean stuff to wear and double checks my light set up.
More nausea. As I pit I try a coke, and some plain water. Seems to work. I take plain water on the trail with me for the ride. that and a shredded Turkey Sandwich in a cup. I munch and sip as I go. I start to feel better.
After 15 minutes off the bike in the pit, my strength has returned. My body has managed to move the large gut ball of powerbar, gel and such through and all the nutrients are starting to absorb as the plain water dilutes them. I pit, take in some electrolytes, and more coke....and roll.
Lap ? +1
More coke, more PB and J. Ride your bike you fool.
Lap 21- come in, pit crew is doing math, trying to figure out what I need to do. I have climbed from 8th place to 5th now. The guy in 4th is 1 lap plus 10 minutes up on me. They have set up the Top Fuel SL- go time. Speed it is.
I manage to catch number 4 on the next lap. David Holmes, a Fisher 29er Crew rider. I had just put in two really hard laps. I try to ride with him, but instead we go head to head for a short time....he is a small guy with climbing abilities....and puts them to use on me.....I am shamed into backing off quickly. Man that Superfly Carbon can climb with that guy as the engine.
Pit crew tells me that I need to do one more to secure 5th place, I need to go.
In to pit, they tell me that David Holmes has done some math work at 22 hours into the race, and thinks I can't catch him. I am down one lap and need to do that plus one to get 4th place. I am off, Pushing middle ring again, pulling time on 4th!!!
Dave rides with me for moral support and to see if I fall apart....like watching a train wreck at that point I guess....or Britney...either way.
Speed...sort of. I am actually pulling faster laps now than all of the top 3 riders.
Cruise control time, push the middle ring on the climbs, flow the downhills, ignore the crying muscles.....you can recover later.
In to the finish line 24hours 23 minutes of riding.....26 laps at 7.5 miles and 900 feet of climbing per lap.
4th place it is. I am pleased.....and learned a bunch from this one.....
Denelle won the women's field in her normal style....make it look easy while the competition falls apart around you. At one point I swear I saw her opponent clinging to a tree on the course like it might help her along.
Nicely done, 14 laps is a solid ride, just over a 100 miles I guess she figured.
Giant Thanks to Jason and Dave, they were awesome support through this whole thing. They kept me and my bikes rolling. Thanks guys!!!!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Oh yes, fixin' to get on the road to The Burn 24 with a truckload of goons and our trusty trailer. Shawn is racing solo. He seems strangely relaxed right now, which is probably a good start.
But what do I know, I can barely finish 12 hours. I'll stick to what I'm good with this weekend: the grill and the cooler.
...And a little Modest Mouse again, lest you mistake this for a bike blog or something. Trailer Trash. Be patient with this one, like a 24 hour race, the finish is huge.
This trailer is heading south in 27 hours.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Bike related action, K29er and I rocked some hill repeats at 7 AM at Ohill. 1 broken chain and two flats, all before the 8 AM bell. I had to do it though. 9ers been on this early morning training kick, and I can't handle the idea that while I'm sleeping he's getting stronger.
...and on to the music: Ocean Breathes Salty.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Ken putting the hammer down!!!
What a weekend of racing it was.
Saturday saw a great day for the team at the Second Camp Hilbert Race of the year.
We fielded a large field of riders and put Jason and my Dad in the pit zone to work on bikes....and boy am I glad we did. Jason ended up having to recable one of mine during the event as I raced.
The Enduro Field started at 930 am with the normal hard start up the dirt gravel and out onto the Single Track. A couple of guys poured it in early including Kevin Cox. I went out hard, and watched the two of them from a short distance before deciding to tackle them and go off the front. To start with Kevin M. and I rode together, K watching my wheel while I set pace. we set a quick 32 minute plus pace through on the first lap, all the while realizing that the rear fender I had put on the bike was a bad idea....it kept rubbing the tire as the suspension actuated....I guess I needed to set it higher than I did....live and learn. As Kevin M. and I came through the transition and went out for lap two, I grabbed another bike from my Brother who was helping in the pit before his race and made the hasty request to yank the fenders. On a Fresh Top Fuel, and feeling good, I decided it was time to launch my attack and try to take the race. Mostly this was gonna be an experiment. I knew my fitness was good, as I am aiming to peak in 2 weeks for the BURN 24, but I did not know how good. What I did know, Endorphins John Rittling and Chris Reynolds were within site behind us, and I wanted to provide a challenge to them and have some fun in the process. I picked up the pace and drilled it pretty solid. Kevin Murray stayed back to help pick up the pieces when I blew up. As I attacked I quickly caught Kevin Cox. Kevin quickly was behind me, giving his normal words of encouragement....he has got to be one of the nicest racers out there. No matter what is going on, he will cheer for you. We need more people like that.
The second guy is sponsored by Vicious cycles and seemed interested in putting on a bit more of a fight. He surged a little, and I quickly nailed it on the up-hills. He was on a 29 inch wheeled bike that went down hill and through corners like they weren't there, but seemed to suffer a small penalty going up hill....so I took advantage of this and made that my area to go. Soon enough I was on my own. Lap 2 was done and I kept the steam on for Lap 3 and Lap 4. I was putting down 31 minute lap times and feeling strong, but knowing that I would pay for this later in the race. As the laps ticked away I realized I was still holding steady. I even took the Hard Tail out for a lap, spun that one in 35 minutes....one of my slower laps. By this time, I had a fair gap to the field, except for Kevin Murray from my own team. He was 5 minutes back and the rest of the racers were at least 5 or 6 minutes off of him. I slowed up a bit, and he surged forward at the 4 hour mark and we rode together for the last lap and a half. We discussed about how to finish...race it out, or ride it solid but together and take the 1/2 placing as a team. We decided that we should not beat up on each other, and we would just aim to keep Rittling off of our wheel. Bike Factory Racing would have the 1/2 slots in the Enduro Race. That last lap we rode solidly, it was about a 33 minute lap time. Kevin would work harder than me on the uphills and I would work harder than him through the corners and downhills. All the time we continued to put more time on the field. In the end we came across the line together in a tie. Our closest competitor would finish about 14 minutes later. An awesome ride for all of us.
The rest of the team did great as well.
Shannon-in her first race EVER took 10th in the beginner women, but would have been much higher if she was not dropping chains off of an old JAMIS hardtail....we gotta get her on a Trek or Fisher product....and soon.
Christy won the women's Sport
Denelle won the women's Enduro (made it look easy)
Ken took 2nd in the Vet Sport
Jeremy Took 3rd in the Expert Pro (on a rigid SS against the geared guys)
Dave finished mid pack in the Expert Pro-solid ride, but damn that was a fast crowd
HUGE thanks to Dad and Jason for the Pit crew....we needed and used them the whole race.
Walnut Creek Chimney Chase
Great race too. The weather held off until the very end. Dave and Jeremy rode in the Expert/Pro race, Jason rode in the Sport race, and I raced Clydesdale.....yup clydesdale. IN order to qualify for Clydes, I had to tow a BOB trailer loaded with medical gear....as I was the medic for the event as well.
Race went great. Matt Bailey showed up and threw down a commanding performance to take 1st, Jeremy was cruising to 2nd place in front of Bob Anderson before he crashed and ended up in 3rd place. Dave came in for a solid 4th place finish at the event. Jason ended up beating his target time for the event, which is the most important thing. I am not sure what his placing ended up being. James and CRC put on an incredible event....nice job guys.
Shawn with BOB trailer
Thanks to Sean Gallagher for the pics!!!
Friday, May 9, 2008
Last weekend (Yeah, I'm a bit late posting about this race) was the Middle Mountain Momma. For those of us silly enough to sign up for the XXC, race start was at 9:30am. Roll from home by 6am to get there and ready in time. Got there, unloaded, changed, bike prepped, double checked, set up my camelback with Accelerade. I jumped on the bike and went to preview the start/finish as a semi-warmup and get comfortable on the bike. (I know, warming up for a 6 hour race isn't always the norm, but in this case the course starts with some major climbing and I felt like 10-15 min on the bike would save me 10-15 min on that climb.)
Warmup finished right on time, make my way to the rider meeting/start line. Felt confident and ready to ROCK. In no time, it was go time. I could have gone with the big dogs for the singletrack , but with 6 hours of trail ahead of me, I figured I'd catch who I'd catch. The first mini-uphill was a mess. Wet, rocky, rooty, super technical. Lots of people were off their bikes. I managed to avoid all the mess and stayed on the bike, no easy feat considering the trail and the carnage. The turn off the first mini-climb to the first mini-downhill put me in good position for the race. I was feeling great and rolling nicely.
Then came the first major climb. A few people slowly crept by, but not until towards the top, and I was confident that I'd catch/pass/drop them on the downhill. I always make my time on the downhills.
Then it happened. Switchback, no problem, except some chain skip. Skip. Skip. Skip. Pow. No chain. No problem, I've got stuff to deal with this, it'll cost a few minutes but that's how it has to be. Check my camelback; oh, that's right.. i used those supplies last week and didn't get them replaced. Let people by. At least my trusty chain tool was still there. Let more people by. Push out chain pin, toss broken link into the camelback, Let people by, reassemble chain, watch the chain's side plate bow. DOH. Let people by, sigh. Find hammer stone and anvil stone to straighten the link. Pound on it. Pound on it. No luck. Let people by. Push out pins on newly broken links, carefully reassemble. Repack camelbak. Note that no one has come by in a LONG time now.
Twenty minutes later, FINALLY remount the bike with a prayer that things will hold. Decide not to baby it and start giving it some power. Note that my legs are cold from such a long break and try to chill and let them warm back up. Finally, 20-30 minutes longer than I'd hoped for, top the first hill. Now, it's time to catch some people. I'm rollin', rollin' fast. 25mph, 28mph. Rocks, roots, air, turns, speed. Unfortunately, I'm feeling bad. I pushed too hard up the first hill to try to make up that chain time.
Luckily, downhills are my thing, so I'm moving fast and recovering at the same time. Drink, eat, roll. Second climb. Legs still warm, now I'm catching people. A few steep spots force me off the bike, but only for a bit, and I'm back on, moving. Had hoped to catch a few folks by the top of this, but no such luck. Feeling disheartened about that, wondering now if or when I'll catch anyone. 20 minutes is a long deficit to make up, and all that. But, I start the 2nd major downhill.. and there it is. The first of my many rabbits. The one that indicates that not only catch I make up that deficit, but I can start working my way up the field. As I said, downhills are my thing, and I catch that person fast. I pass fast, and I'm out of sight fast. Next mini-climb. Middle-ring, cranking time. I make quick work of this, and catch some folks who've stopped in the shade for a snack. Man, that sandwich looked good, but my camelbak fed me energy with every sip, so my energy was through the roof. Nope, no stopping for something tasty here. Top the hill, no one in sight in front or behind me, but I'm bombing it, and know in my heart that I'm making time on my next place. So, it's now time to wade through the stream for the 2nd time, and a short downhill back to the road and the 3rd major climb. Quick break to add some chain lube.. the stream took it all away and things sounded horrible down there.
I know this climb. It's gravel and not that steep. I passed 4 people here last year, so I know this is another place for me to make my time. I grab some solid food while i'm stopped, remount and ride. Pocket the food while I'm getting settled into my climbing rhythm. This climb goes quick, I focus on spinning, keeping my legs fresh while making time on people. Food goes down well, water goes down well, gravel road is over quick. Finally feeling good on the bike. But i'm careful..I know at the top of the gravel is a major hike-a-bike. Last time, I hit the gravel too hard and was beat for the hiking. This time, the gravel went fast, but I stayed fresh and hammered the hiking.
Then, it's my downhill time, and I'm feeling good. 28, 29mph on narrow singletrack. This goes fast. I love this downhill and I just let it roll. This chunk of trail builds confidence, and I was already feeling good. I'm back on the XC course now, so I lost a bit of count to who was in my category and who wasn't, but I know I passed a number of people. Water stop, one bottle in the camelback, one bottle on my head. I know what's coming.
Last major climb, and it's a doozey. Its long, and steep the entire time, but I've still got my legs and still feeling like I can catch people. Granny gear, crank, crank crank. Steep section, crank harder. crank, crank, crank, crank, grind.. staying on the bike though, so I know I'm making time, people hike these sections. I know the trail, and I know we're getting close to the first of 2 peaks. Legs start to go, though, I've cranked hard for a long time now. But I push on, keep cranking, and suddenly it's the first peak. Over faster than I thought. Short downhill, the one that messes with your mind.."Are we over the last peak? it's going down further than I remember. We've got to be over the last peak? It can't be yet, there's another short climb". Meanwhile, I'm passing people. I think this is the tail end of the sport class though. Ah, there it is.. the climb to the last peak.
Legs recovered nicely on that short downhill, so it's time to crank again. Elevation gain is nearly over, so this is where you spend any legs you've got left. I push. Then, the part of the course I always remember and the thing that makes me love it so much. The views. The switchback has such a great view, that they've built a bench. I slowed down long enough to savor natures beauty before I push on. And push I did, pushed hard and topped the rest quick. Now, it's time for some SERIOUS downhill, 2000ft or more of it. Again, confidence building single track. Tearing up corners, berming switchbacks.. whoa! Missed that corner, had to back up. 30mph.. 31mph, fast as I can go. Rocks, roots, streams, trees, I'm going too fast to see them anyhow, so we'll let the bike eat them up. Go Shatner (Did I mention I call my bike "Shatner?" because it's a trek-ky?) Down the hill, suspension bridge, cross the street. Oh yeah, one last mini-climb before the finish mini-downhill. Luckily, the legs found some strength on that downhill, and it was time to crank to the finish line. Crank, crank. Ooh, more people to pass, and these are definitely XXCers. Last mini-rocky-technical-challenging downhill to the finish. One more pass.
In the end, I'd made 13 places to claw my way from dead last to 31st. The broken chain caused me a lot of time, some to actually fix the bike, some to let my legs warm back up, and some to mentally recover from the insanity of it all, but in the end, the bike kept together under some severe climbing, darned fast downhills, and some tough course. However, I was happy with my ride, that my legs held up well to the punishment I'd put to them, and how beautiful the day was.
The team overall did very well. Everyone else at the race found a podium spot; Michele took 2nd in women's XXC while fighting off the tail end of a cold, Christy took 3rd in Sport, Luther took 2rd in Sport Vet, while Ken placed a solid 3rd in a big Sport Masters class.
Overall, everyone I talked to was bushed. The elevation gain on the XC course was over 4,000 ft in 21 miles, and the XXC course ranked in at 8,200ft in 44 miles. I think it's safe to say that the course spanked us all yet again this year. I can't wait for next year's beating at the Middle Mountain Momma.
Monday, May 5, 2008
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF www.PBASE.COM Thanks a ton!!!
So, Maybe they should have called this a battle, not a race....because that is what I feel like I went through.
The idea of starting a bike race at Midnight is an interesting one to me. It seems that the idea would be to race through all the worst hours of a 24 hour race this way, and indeed, I think that is what we did.
Preparation for this race was big from an equipment standpoints, lots of stuff, lots of people. The idea of supporting 6 solo racers through an event of this magnitude can become too full of "What-ifs". So for almost a week I what-ifed the trailer into shape. We scheduled to depart at noon on Saturday in order to get to the venue and setup the Bike Factory Racing Compound (as it has been affectionately named). We departed on time, hit Chipotle in F-burg and then got to the race venue by about 2:30 or so. Setup went smooth and John C. showed up with the Smoker to cook some carcass. After getting the compound fortified, I went out to hit a lap on the course as a preview of what was to come. I set up the Elite 9.9 Hard Tail and went off, one thing was decided early for me....suspension was key, it was gonna be a Top Fuel type of night....this course was custom made for a Fuel!!!!
The course was full of ups and downs and twists and turns. I think there were more 150-180 degree turns on that course than on any other that I have ever been on. And they were not the type of turn that supported momentum or speed very well, many required braking and then accelerating to navigate. One almost required a track stand!! The dirt was hard pack in many areas, there were lots of roots and some areas of dark boggy soil and loose sandy gravel...it was all here it seemed, other than large rocks....and maybe I am just mentally blocking those at this moment.
I tried to lay down for a nap at about 8pm or so, but Konrad had hired a live band to entertain the crowd, and they were right across from our compound....and the compound was not soundproof...I knew I messed something up. After tossing and turning until about 10:30 I gave up on sleep and got up to finish fiddling with my bike and lights....that and get a last minute snack and some coffee.
At the start line, my body was already in revolt.....It was weird to toe a line doubting your ability to digest food and complete the race, this added a sense of adventure to it all though.
Roll out was at a few minutes after midnight....a "paced" start of all the riders up a dirt gravel path and then a sharp turn onto single track. It was the normal chaos, tires rubbing, people stumbling and nearly falling. The back end of the field apparently got separated from the "pace" bike and made a wrong turn even.
The race paraded back through the start finish at the neutral pace and then game on!!
Steve Schwartz and Justin Riddle went early off the front...or so I heard. I had already resigned myself that in my current condition, it was "PACE, PACE, PACE!!!" or I would be a certain DNF and not just a probable DNF. Kevin M. was on a single speed and went early, he had a score to settle and a title to defend here. Dave "the old man" was here to race and Kevin was gonna milk the rivalry for all it was worth. As Kevin rode off, "The Old Man" sat patiently back and watched him go. The first lap went quick, as did the second. Then GI happiness set in. I will spare the details....but Bib Shorts are not your friends at such times...and probably added to the 30-40 minutes of time I lost between laps checking out the Special "high-volume" porta-potties that FREDEVENTS had rented for the night....nice touch on the advertising.
through the night laps my riding was steady, I used the granny gear liberally to save some pop in the legs for the morning if I made it there. My lights were perfect and other than laying the bike down in a corner once and slipping a cable housing funny, things were mechanically great. Come 5:45 the morning light was starting to come up and the realization was hitting, "we are not even half way through yet."
At sun up I was into the pit again, Dad and Shannon had laid down for a rest, John C. was up and on duty. He handed me some water and Electrolyte pills, I ate a pop tart and debated stalling long enough to not have to carry lights on the next lap....but realized that would be too long. On that last night lap, I was feeling reasonable. The stomach seemed to like the pop-tart and water combo better than the Cytomax that has always been my staple. So come the next lap I was carrying an extra bottle of plain water in a jersey pocket in addition to the standard Cytomax mix bottle. At about 7:30 I checked in at the table and asked placing. I was seriously tanked....Konrad was there, and said, "Get out there, you are in 5th place man."
What??? how had that happened...I felt sure I was in the teens....turns out that through the night the course had taken out plenty of people. It looked like the night had secretly claimed its victims on the super tough course. I rolled out of the transition area and to my pit....heartened that I was solidly placed, but disheartened that I had hours of hard work ahead. I grabbed another bottle of water, some Electrolyte pills, and a pop-tart...off I went. I decided I would try to use some of the energy I was saving all night. I put on a little surge and soon enough saw the guy in 4th place. He let me by on a short climb and I held steady ahead of him and soon could not see him behind anymore. I soon caught my brother, Dave (the young man) on the course....he was doing this to celebrate his 30th birthday...what a party. I chatted briefly with him, but knew I needed to keep going if I was gonna pull 3rd place back and leave 4th place behind me. Through the transition I was told that my 24 minute deficit to 3rd had been cut way down. I continued to push along, leaving it a gear or two higher than normal on the climbs, and pushing power through the flats rather than cruising along easy. It was feeling almost good. Soon enough I came though the pit again, I had done it 3rd place was mine. I put in one more lap and then was able to cash out my chips. 4th place was not chasing, and 5th was too far back to pull me in. so at 11:15 I handed over my bracelet to the timers table and left the course in 3rd place...10 laps done. the winner would ride until the end...doing 12. Second place finished his 11th lap just after I finished my 10th.
The Single speed race went pretty hard. Kevin had a mental and physical stomping moment.....the most painful introspective type of pain you can undergo in these races and avert physical injury. I have been there.....I am sure he blamed everything he could, bike, coach, tires, shoes...whatever....but in the end....you come back to yourself, and fall asleep quietly in a chair and hope that you did enough to be in the points at the end. He rode solidly, but his pack of matches only had so many sparks, and they all blew out before the fire was complete. Dave "the old man" patiently went on to win the battle, he put in 12 laps...riding up until the end. Ted G. chased him, albeit from a distance and came in with 11 laps at about 11:55 into the race....he could have gone again....but why? He was solidly the 2nd place finisher of a well fought battle. Dave T. took 5th in the Men's Solo. Denelle G. won the Women's Solo field handily with a 2 lap lead by the end.....and I think she even squeezed in a nap there somewhere.....she makes this sport look so elegant and easy.
A huge thanks to Shannon, "The Old Man's" young Wife, John, and Dad. Without you guys this would have fallen apart way earlier than it did.
Nice job team, I am proud of us all....we did a really solid race at probably the hardest lap endurance course I have been on.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Last weekend Denelle, Christy, Dave and I all journeyed down to Richmond to ride the National Championship Off Road Duathlon. The Run course was a 5k loop that you ran a total of 3 times. To Start you did it twice, then you got on your bike, did 30 K of riding, and came back in for another lap on the run course. The Run started fast, a runner from Virginia Tech was off like a shot and managed to drag a bunch of the elite field with him. The initial pace those guys were setting was in the high 4 minute to low 5 minute per mile range. I played it smart and held my pace, let those guys go and knew I would see some of them again during my part of the race....the bike leg. On completing the second lap I was into the transition to grab my bike and gear up to rock the Richmond James River Trail system. I had elected to use my Carbon 9.9 Hardtail for this course....proved to be a good choice.....fast fire road type sections broken up by single track that had lots of hard brake and then acceleration corners. I was able to really pop it hard coming out of those corners and even through the rocks and roots that were on the course, the carbon of the Hardtail took out the sting and kept traction for me both up and down.
The bike leg was FAST. I averaged right at 14 mph for the course and completed the 30K in 1:20. During the course of the ride I pulled back a bunch of the awesome runners and they got to watch my backside for a short time until I pulled away....of course in that final 5 k run I got to see some of them again....I guess I should do some running to train for these things at some point.
Overall the Team did well,
Denelle took 2nd overall for women and 1st in here age group.
Christy Won the Women's Sport Race (had shorter run, ride and run distances.....really appealed to me after the fact)
Dave took 14th overall in the Men's Race and 3rd in his age group.
I took 10th overall in Men's and 2nd in my age group.
This weekend is the LODI 12 hour race. The team has been busy gearing up for this one. Lights are charged, bikes are tuned, Trailer is 75% prepped to go. We are gonna field a powerful team for this one, all in Solo categories.
Jeremy, Ted, and Kevin are all gonna race single speed solo
Denelle, Dave, and I are all gonna race Geared solo.
Support is gonna be provided by Shannon, Dad, and John Cox.
The Bike Factory Racing Compound will be ready to rally......even if the weather turns south on us.