Seeking New Mountain Bike Trails

Near my home are ample roads for cycling. There isn’t a lot traffic here in the “sticks.” So, cycling, riding on roads, is a real treat. There are also, as yet not completely explored, off road trails and paths that exit the paved, gravel, and dirt roads here in Perquimans County. About once a week or so, rather than riding a road bike, I head out on my mountain bike with the intention of discovering what lays down those paths and trails that lead away from more substantial thoroughfares.IMG_5405

After my morning junket with River, she likes to run before it gets too hot, I gathered my mountain bike, cell phone and water bottle. I mixed TriFuel for the water bottle before I headed out to where I wanted a closer look.

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Along the way I found an abandon pier that led over a dried-up swamp. Typically, there would be water under the pier. We’ve had so little rain here during the past month the wetlands aren’t as wet as normal.

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Most of the trails I followed led nowhere. There were a lot of dead ends. Many of them terminated at creeks or swamps. What I’d like to have is a nice 6 to 10 mile off road loop. I have smaller loops, 1 to 3 miles, but after awhile they begin to feel like the minor circles they are.

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Even though I didn’t find an ideal loop I did get a fairly nice 8-mile out and back. It was a break from riding around in circles that can easily be double or tripled to make the ride worthwhile.

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You can now subscribe to “Putting It On The Line”

Over the past couple of years this website has become one of the most visited active sites on the Internet. It averages 10,000 visits per month. Yes, it is a shock to me as well.

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During a competition in North Carolina an archer asked me how to subscribe to the site. Honestly, I did not know. Although I provide content the site was set-up by a friend of my wife who runs a consulting company, Mertaugh Consulting, in Maryland.

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I asked her for help adding a method to subscribe. She fixed it so that you can now subscribe to the site. There’s an icon on the right column of each page that once clicked and you can sign up. This way you’ll know when new posts are created.

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Thanks for reading – David

A, B and C Events

In cycling, running and triathlon there were events that I entered with specific goals, other than winning, in mind. The races were categorized as: A, B, or C competitions.

Really, I can’t tell you how exactly many races/athletic events I’ve done. There are 516 where I have some medal/trophy or other memorabilia to help with the count.  I know that at one point I had a goal of one race per month for as long as I could go until something ended the streak. That streak lasted 7 years. It was stopped when I jumped out of my boat and landed on a piece of steel that skewered my leg. But, that was only a seven-year period. Prior to that, I didn’t record those data.

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These were earned during my 7-year steak

I did specific races with a method of training aiming toward a specific event. Some races were smaller local events. These were races I’d try new things, be extra careful and learn as much as possible about my form and fitness. These were considered level C events.

Level B were races where a high finish, top 10, was important. There we’d test tactics that would get me to a top 10 finish during international competition. Primarily, this was in cycling during the 70’s – 90’s. Later, level B become those events were a high finished was sought, but it was more important to get a feel for the race or distances.

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I can’t recall this event, but I was clearly there. The grey in my beard suggests it was recent.

Then there were the A level events. These were the events where everything was put on the line. A win was important anything less than top 3 was a failure. We geared a season around the level A events.

Archery is a lot the same. At this point, it isn’t as much a categorization for an eventual win rather a strategy to gauge development. Nevertheless, this year, one where I made a lot of changes, has revolved around training to meet goals for specific A, B, and C events.

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As the archery competitive season nears an end for 2016 I am already making plans for 2017. Among them there are A, B and C events being considered.

It’s a Matter of Fitness

At nearly all archery competitions people are talking about their health. Some talk about injuries, others mention medical aliments, still more complain about their excess weight. At one outdoor competition, a 50-meter event, the archer on the line next to me said, “I’ve never shot more than 30 arrows in one day.” We had 72 arrows to shoot and we’d had 24 shots for warm-up. Plus, the guy’s weight was a tad on the excessive side. I knew this guy was in for a rough day. I wasn’t mistaken.

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Days on the range can be long, hot, and require a lot of standing around

Once I heard a bit of braggadocio that went like this, “In practice, if I shoot 10 good shots I quit.” That may be fine if the bulk of the tournaments were 10 arrows or less. Ten shots will not prepare anyone for a 100 shot day.

Another time, a self-proclaimed expert said, “I shoot 30 arrows 3 to 4 times a week.” On the range during 3D tournaments I’ve heard this several time, “I haven’t practiced all week.” Before too long that same individual is whining because he’s making poor shots.

I make a lot of bad shots. Prior to this season, there’s not been a year when I didn’t miss a 3D target entirely. Heck, during my first year of shooting, on an indoor range no less, I put arrows into the ceiling on more than one occasion. This past weekend, I shot all 12’s and 10’s with two exceptions, an 8 and (hanging my head) a 5. (Amazingly, I still won – I just knew that 5 if not the 8 were going to blow it for me.)

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Archery is a sport and it takes a great deal of physical effort. That effort isn’t a major cardio workout. At the last 3D tournament we walked 1.36 miles over the course in about 2 hours. Not a grueling pace. Yet, there were people who seemed totally wasted from the effort. (I ran further than that before the tournament.)

You do not need to be a marathoner to shoot archery. But, you should be in shape to perform to your highest level. The better fitness you process the more time you can spend training. In that regard, I consider fitness training part of my archery training. Aside from archery specific training, I spend nearly 1000 additional hours a year on general fitness training.

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I can’t shoot well more than about 4 hours per day broken into two practice sessions, morning and afternoon. Nearly every morning, before archery practice I run. Not far, never more than 6 miles, and not too fast. Between archery practices is when I do more fitness training.

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I understand most of you work during the day. As such, you probably do most of your archery practice in the evenings and on weekends. That still leaves early mornings for addition fitness training.

When I worked at my medical career I trained (not archery) before work, after work and at times (when I was not traveling) during my lunch break. That pattern began when I was 17 and would train for cycling before school and after school. The pattern still rules today – 44 years later.

Being fit doesn’t mean I need to be able to run a marathon or do an Ironman. It also doesn’t mean I won’t do another of each. What it does mean is that I am in better condition for the rigors of archery.

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Getting our on my bike or running offers some great views

I don’t focus on the number of arrows I shoot per day. Some days it’s a few as 30 (tapering or active recover) or as many as 240. To help prevent should injury I only pull 52 pounds and lift weights year round. My mid-day workouts are critical to my ongoing development as an archer. Mid-day I swim, ride a bike and/or weight lift.

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Not everyone shares this view of archery. That’s obvious by the phenotypes I see in the sport. Regardless of opinion, being healthy and fit are beneficial. Find a plan, create a plan, do what you can for your health. You’ll appreciate when you’re in your 60s.

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Concentrated Practice

The mean distance was 41.8 yards. Seven of the targets were 45 yards or greater, there were 20 targets total. The shortest shot was 35 yards, the longest 50. I ended up shooting 189.

What I learned from the practice is that I needed more work on a bear and a turkey at distance. I was also not doing so great on a buck deer at greater than 45 yards.

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These notes helped me determine where I needed to concentrate my next practice
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Shoot more than one arrow at the same point on a target and this is bound to happen

An effort to improve meant concentration on the turkey, deer, and bear. Rather than rely on a range finder or my judgment I took a tape measure and staked yardage from 20 to 50 yards on each. Then I shot 4 arrows at distances of 20, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 yards for each target. To break things up I also shot my bobcat and mountain lion. The mountain lion had bright rays of light streaming over it – too tempting to pass. The bobcat was completely shadowed. To difficult to pass without some practice.

Seventy-five percent of the shots were 10s. It helped knowing the distance. The others were a mix of 11s, 8s, and 5s. Tomorrow, I’ll do another long yardage practice in the morning to see of this exercise paid off.

A Little Rain During Long Shot Practice

There was a little rain today adding to the challenge of long shot practice. It wasn’t a hard rain and practice wasn’t halted. Archery is shot rain or shine. In the event of severe weather, such as thunderstorms, the range is closed. But, a little rain or even a lot of rain doesn’t stop tournaments.

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At 38-yards, straight in, and unobstructed, this isn’t a really difficult shot.
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Shooting this pig at an angle was a bit tough from 42-yards

So, practice continued and things got a little wet. Not bad. With the rain there was some cooling of the heat we’ve been experiencing. The cooler temperatures seemed agreeable to the critters in the woods. There was a lot of movement in the trees and underbrush. Aside from squirrels and a rabbit the live animals remained hidden.

There was one snake that venture into my path, but it was harmless and we parted ways injury free.

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No problem for either snake or archer

Roanoke Archers, Down East Coalition 3D Tournament in Plymouth

The Down East Archery Coalition’s 3D point season is nearly completed. I won’t make the next point shoot which will be held in Elizabeth City, NC. The Elizabeth City shoot is on the same weekend as the IBO World Championship in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. It won’t be the only competition in their series I’ve missed. Travel to tournaments outside the state have, at times, infringed on the Coalition’s events.

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A group on the first side of the course. Targets 1 – 8 were pretty easy, nothing over 35 yards. Targets 9 – 20 , well things did get long.

The Roanoke Archers in Plymouth, North Carolina is one of their closer ranges to my home. The drive is only an hour away. I got to the range early. Arriving early often means getting onto the range before the slower groups. For this event, I got lucky.

I was able to team up with a small group and we were allowed on the range a few minutes before the posted start time. We weren’t the first with others hoping to get off the range before the temperatures soared.

It’s been hot here over the past few week with 3 digit heat indices a common occurrence. This day would fit that trend. By target nine there wasn’t a dry shirt on the course. A good friend of mine, Willis, was soaked in sweat.

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Willis’ shirt is soaked with sweat which is why it appears to be two shades of blue.

Willis is 74 and retired. He mentioned he’s not real happy with his recent retirement in that he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Obviously, he’s been filling his days with archery – his shooting was spot on until the heat began to take a toll. His shots scores began to drop as his sweat began to drop into his eyes clouding his vision.

Two other activities, aside from archery, he mentioned are now doing on his weekly agenda are running and weight lifting. At 74 years of age, Willis, aside from his complaint that he doesn’t know what to do with himself, seems to have the active schedule of a 30 year old. In fact, it seemed to me he was handling the adverse temperature better than most.

It’s easy to admire anyone that decides to take on a fitness and training program. Willis is a great example that age is no barrier to sports performance and conditioning training.

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There’s one more Down East Archery Coalition shoot that I might be able to manage, in Jacksonville, NC on August 30th. That’s far enough away it becomes an overnight trip. Maybe I’ll load up the Winnebago and give it a shot.

Diverted to the NC ASA State Championships

The Sage Creek Archery Club was the host of the 2016 North Carolina ASA State Championship. I’d planned on skipping this event. Plans changed and we headed north from Georgia rather that south toward Alabama.

The original plan called for a trip from North Carolina, to Georgia, then Alabama where I’d shoot in Georgia and then at the USA Outdoor Nationals in Decatur, Alabama. The one-day, 72-arrow contest in Madison, Georgia was enough to divert my drive back north.

On this adventure, 22 days in total, Brenda, our two dogs and I were stopping along the way at campsites making use of our Winnebago. The Madison, Georgia tournament was a warm-up for the Nationals. The problem arose after the event in Georgia. It was a matter of timing.

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Not a bad place to wait – but not to wait all day

The one-day 72-arrow tournament took 7.5 hours to finish. This was too long to expect Brenda to stay at a campground, in Decatur. The 7.5 hours did not include travel time (to and from the Winnebago to the competition). If the Nationals were going to have any resemblance of the Georgia shoot it was going to need to wait until 2017. In 2017, Brenda said, she would not come on the trip. I could hardly blame her.

I’ve competed in some long sports events, but 7.5 hours for 72 arrows? Heck, I can nearly complete an Ironman in that much time, certainly less time is needed for a 70.3 Ironman. When I consider I can swim 2.4 miles, complete a 112 mile bike ride, and be running a marathon (running it not finished with it) in less time than shooting 72 arrows – well time to change the agenda. The agenda change was to head north to Mt. Airy, North Carolina and shoot in the ASA State Championship.

Prior to that change I had not looked at a foam animal in weeks. Still, lack of preparation has newer been an issue for me. I’d go do my best and be thankful I had an alternative to the Outdoor Nationals.

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You can take it to the bank – this guy is showing up at a 3D shoot.

At Mt. Airy the range amazed me. Sage Creek is a very difficult but not unreasonable course. It seemed each target was thoughtfully arranged to make shots a challenge, yet they were shots that seemed realistic.

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Large crowds for all start times at the NC ASA State Championship (My friend Randy in the foreground)

Another bonus from the Sage Creek shoot was the speed with which it ran. The tournament was conducted so that archers needed to shoot twice. The morning shoot was over in around two hours. There was a short break and for those people shooting at the second start time, of which I was included, we were done by 2:30 PM. One of the best-organized events (all sports) were I’ve competed.

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Yep, there’s a target in from of the eventual winner of my class

The guys in the group I shot with were really Top Guns. Among them they held multiple World Championships and Shooter of the Year Titles. It also contained the eventual winner of this State Championship (as well and second place and 5th place.)

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You never know what you’ll end up seeing at a campground

It was a little disappointing to not shoot at the Outdoor Nationals. But, as a family event, unless it’s an archery-centric group, all day (like that of Madison) is a non-starter. I’ve done a lot of sports over the decades. I recall a USA Masters National Indoor Track and Field race where my start time was delayed three times. Still it was not as bad the experience in Georgia that ended up being the action that led me to Mt. Airy. But, Mt. Airy proved to be one of the best-run sports events where I’ve been a competitor.

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Some of the scenery at Sage Creek Archery

Trail Riding in the Heat

I can’t shoot all day long.  I shoot a lot, several hours a day on most days. When I’m taking a break from archery I don’t sit around – there’s too much adventure to be had. Between archery sessions today I headed out on my mountain bike for some trail riding excitement.

Riding my mountain bike in the heat of the day was a blast – of heat.  I didn’t get into the woods until 2:30 PM.  It was a warm 97 degrees.

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I loaded my bike at home and drove it 26 miles away to the “hunting” property.  There are logging trails throughout the 879 acres. Excellent for off road cycling.

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The scenery this time of the year is vastly different from the fall and winter. These woods were at times thick and dark.  Other parts of the woods were bright and sunny.

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The Georgia red clay, ubiquitous here, was hard and cracking under the heat. Small puddles were surrounded by tracks of the locals trying to get a sip or dip.

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The paths led from hard red clay to thick underbrush.

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Some of the tracks I passed showed me that there is a new crop of fawns growing in these woods.

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Riding down the main path I approached “Buzzard Tower.”  In the fall buzzards hang out there, I didn’t see one in this heat.

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Occasionally the trails were overgrown and plowing ahead provided a few scrapes and cuts.

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Despite the heat, it was a great few hours of trail riding.

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