4/22/14

Rest and Recovery Week Arrives!!!

Sunday ended my 2nd week of the 12 week build, peak, and race structured plan I am following.  Due to favorable weather - and the opportunity presenting itself for some garden and lawn work - the recovery week arrives just in time for me to recover from all of the additional work I added on top of the training this weekend.

Hauling 1000 pounds of dirt and manure on Saturday as well as lifting the tiller in and out of the car, over the garden fence, and manhandling it for a good hour or more all took a toll on the muscles.  Sunday was a scheduled 2 hour Zone 2 road ride which included a pretty nice wind out there, but I managed to complete the ride as prescribed without any issues.

When I got home from the ride, I decided to rake up all of the leftover leaves that had blown into the yard, corners of the fence, along the deck, in the bushes, etc...and bag them up.  After I finished that, I mowed for the first time this year.  I did it more for mulching any leftover leaves than to trim the grass.  However, I did notice the grass was growing on about 60% of the lawn and at it was worth it to even it all out until the rest of the lawn that is still dormant wakes up this week.  Tara planted some appropriate things for this time of year in our garden, but I think she jumped the gun a bit with some tomatoes.  We usually wait until the 2nd week of May to do that and I always consult online sources such as this:  http://www.theiowagardener.com/Planting_Calendar_for_Iowa.html

However, she wanted to try an experiment to get a few planted early and has a little "housing" over them to protect them from the cold and bad weather.  If they survive - fine.  If not, well we have the seedlings in the house that will be ready for the 2nd round, and eventual 3rd round as she staggers our tomato plantings so we have a fresh crop longer.

Monday was all about recovery for me.  Simpson didn't have school on Monday as it is a traditional day off to allow for travel when the students go home for Easter weekend.  After Alexa headed back to Iowa City, I got showered and headed to the mall as my pants, jeans, and shorts are all too big now that I have lost weight.  The new shorts I bought just last summer at 182 pounds were falling off of me while I was gardening.  Rather than buy new shorts, I think I am going to get all of them altered.  My 34" waisted Levi jeans are so baggy I look like I am swimming in them and the belt has to cinch them together to hold them up.  Since January 5th, my waist has dropped down to 31" and change along with my weight being at 173 right now, so I picked up two new pairs of jeans.  I only have one more week of the semester, so I will swim in my suits and dress pants this week and figure out what can be altered this summer and what needs to be purchased new if I keep this weight.

The sun poked out about 4 PM and my wife wanted to go for a 90 minute bike ride.  I decided, since I was still sore from the gardening work on Saturday, to flip flop my Monday (weight lifting for the lower body) with my Tuesday (recovery Zone 1 ride) training.

I pulled out the Roubaix....

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...and put a big bottle of water on it for the ride to Banner Pits and back with Tara.  We were against the wind going downhill to Banner and it was tough to maintain any sort of pace the gusts were up to 30 mph.  Coming home, we were literally blown back up the hill to Indianola and we rolled into the driveway with 1:29:05 in the bank and 18.48 miles logged.  Tara made a big salad and put in the leftover smoked leg of lamb which tasted really good.  Then I went to work memorizing and practicing.  My allergies are in hypermode at the moment with the gardening, lawn work and combination of tree/grass pollen making for a rousing round of sneezing several times a day.  Not to mention the need to rub the eyes all the time - and that's all with medication to control it!!!

Tonight at 6:15 is my Second Studio Recital and I hope everyone is healthy and able to perform.  After that, I will come home and do my lower body weight lifting and dive into more memorizing (my mind doesn't work like it used to when doing memory work!!!!).

4/20/14

Banner Bunny Ride followed by Garden Prep...

The beautiful weather on Saturday morning had Summerset State Park full of fishermen, cyclists, walkers, and mountain bikers.  I rolled in to the park right at 9 AM following closely behind the tail end of Al Boone's pickup.  In the Summerset State Park front entry parking lot just off of Highway 65/69, there were about a half a dozen guys getting their mountain bikes unloaded off of the car racks and getting ready to hit the trails.  Great to see everyone grabbing some dirt after the long winter!!!

Al and I rolled our trucks on back to the east side dirt parking lot where we traditionally do the post ride bacon, eggs, pancakes, etc... cooking and drinking.

The DNR recently added rock to the shoreline.  They also added some gravel chips on top of the dirt parking lot next to the new shoreline, and placed one picnic table on top of the gravel this Spring.  They built some nice platform/overlooks for fishing and the park is taking good shape this year with these minor changes.  This is a park that is getting a lot of public use due to the location.  So we put a few of our items on the table to reserve it before heading out on the ride.

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I wanted to mention the excellent work that Bob Matthews and Jeff did on Friday (they put in about a 12 hour shift) painting bikes in the bike lane every 100 feet using a stencil Bob had hand made from a picture.

Painting

Bob purchased all of the supplies to do this himself as the DNR probably does not have the funds or the manpower to do this, but gave him permission to do this.  The flooding over the past couple of years had washed away all the original stencil paintings of bikes.  This created an unsafe situation where park users no longer had any idea where to drive or where to ride making it unsafe for cylists and motorists alike.  Bob to the rescue - BIG TIME!!!  Thank him when you see him and consider making a donation to help cover the costs.  He spent about a hundred or so he said on the supplies, so I am going to donate at least $20 if not more to the cause.

These new stencils will inform park users who should be in what lane and remove a lot of confusion...

BannerBikeLaneStencil

Considering the mountain biking trails use the pavement to connect from section to section, it is nice to have the stencils on the road again so cars will keep in their lane and not play chicken with us.

Back to the Saturday Bunny Ride...

Al Boone, Garrett Byers, and myself headed off for hot lap #1.  On tap for me - training wise - was a 2 1/2 hour tech skills development day, so I was glad to be riding with Al as there is no slow riding with him.  He likes to scramble from the get go and takes everything at speed which is just what I needed.  The handlebars are 40cm narrower on my RIP 9 than the ones I use on my JET 9, but the HT angle is very close to the same with only about a 1/2 a degree difference.  Still, these are two different handling bikes and I have to fight not to lean in so much on the RIP.  That's actually good as it forces me to turn with proper technique.

We got separated before heading into NewEd Beach, and I finished the first lap just behind the group that took off from the main parking lot.  I dropped my jacket off at the car, and went back to hook up with Al and Garrett again.  I saw quite a few out on their mountain bikes, but didn't recognize anyone.

Lap 2 was a bit faster with Al and I trading off who was leading.  We worked a bit on the bunny hopping technique of logs as Al wanted to know how I hopped over them.  I told him how to preload his full suspension bike and jump/fly over the logs at speed.  I'm sure he'll master it once he is not afraid to come at a log at full speed.  We also wanted to try a couple of new lines on some corners.  One in particular is going to be very beneficial for a faster corner after taking a different line all these years that is much slower and sucks your flow.  So, I was happy working on these tech skills and trying a few new things (like really pumping the sections that could be pumped) which were all making this lap very useful.

The dirt that was so baked in and fast on Thursday was now getting rather loose and making me wish I had a front tire with larger knobs.  I almost biffed it once when I let the RIP go way too fast on a tricky little descent.  It was one of those moments where your mind starts looking for a crash, but the body takes over and saves you from crashing.  I run the 2.3 Renegades front and rear which are plenty fast and if treated well, offer plenty of grip.  However, I'm not sure if this year turns into a drought year that they will be the best choice for Banner's loose and dry...

RenegadeRIPTread

The Ikon 2.35 may be the better ticket up front on the RIP for more aggressive, yet still XC worthy singletrack bashing...

IkonFrontTestToo

If rain dosn't come that much this year and things remain loose and dry, I have the Nobby Nics waiting for deployment.  I would probably start with my Ikon 2.35 up front with a Renegade in the rear to see if that is enough.  If not, well some more knobs on the rear would be the next step.

We finished the lap and rolled back to bacon camp to begin the cooking and drinking festivities.  We saw even more out on their mountain bikes hitting the trails at this point as it was nearly 11 AM.

The dirt parking lot had a few of us congregating for the Bunny Ride...

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We had pancake batter, juice, beer, eggs - but no bacon!!!  Bob was bringing the bacon and sausage, but due to his long painting hours the day before had not arrived.  So I had no grease or butter to put in the cast iron skillet.  This meant pancake and egg sandwiches as we had no syrup either.  Bananas, apples, dry pancakes, eggs, and beer were the Bunny Brunch of choice this time around.

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After a few beers and plenty of chat, we were visiting about what we were all doing for Easter weekend.  Garrett said he was going to get his mower running and ready for use.  That inspired me to say I was going to go home and put the snowblower in the shed, and maybe rent a tiller for the weekend from the hardware store to till up the garden (which is usually done by now, but the weather has prevented it).  Al said I could borrow his tiller and before you knew it, I was packing up and headimh over to Al's house to pick up his tiller!  Just like that.

I cleaned up the picnic area, packed up and rolled out about 12:15.  Guess who was entering the park just as we were all leaving?  Bob with the bacon and sausage!!!  I stopped and talked to him about the painting and he said he was exhausted from it all. 

I stopped by Al's and loaded up his tiller and headed home.  My son and daughter were just about to leave and go play golf.  I rolled the snowblower to the shed, and then I pushed the tiller to the backyard where our garden plot is.  I came back around to the front of the house and the kids had closed the garage door and left me locked out of the house!!!  I went next door and used my neighbor's phone to call them and of course, nobody answered their phone so I left a message.  I filled the time hooking up the garden hoses, getting a rake and gloves ready for tilling from the shed, and what not.  Finally, they pulled back in the driveway and apologized as they opened the garage door for me.  I changed out of my cycling clothes and into my gardening clothes.

Before the garden can get like this...

TaraPicking

You have to till up the garden, and haul in about 1000 pounds of manure, compost, and soil conditioner, and work it all into the ground.  It struck me that the casual conversation out at Banner post-ride had led me to hauling 1000 pounds of bags on a day I really had not planned to do this.  But the weather was perfect to take it on now and get it done.  This inolved loading the 24 bags of poop, compost, and conditioner up in the car, unloading them and carrying them to the backyard, and tossing them over the fence into the garden.  This was quite a workout for my core, upper, and lower body all built into one heave ho session.  I knew my back was going to pay for it.

Here are all of the bags before I ripped them open, dumped their contents and raked them into a nice mix for the final till...

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I finished the garden work, cleaned up Al's tiller, and took it back over to his house about 5 PM.  Then I came home, showered, had dinner, and went to Wal-Mart with Tara to get a few things for my leg of lamb that I needed to marinate overnight for our Easter dinner.  I got the marinade paste made and rubbed into the lamb, cleaned up the kitchen and hit the hay where I slept 9 hours!!!

Today will include a myriad of things going on at our house for Easter.  Tara is helping serve dinner at a shelter in Des Moines (actually doing the prep work for the dinner), I will be smoking the lamb this afternoon, memorizing music for the gala concert that is next Saturday, and planting some of the early garden things that one can plant here in Iowa (onions, beans, etc...).   

I'm glad to have Monday off from work to recover...

4/18/14

Blasting through the singletrack...

Spring riding has been great the 2nd half of this week.  I'm in week #2 of my 12 week build period, so I have been sticking closely to the structured rides and training.  Monday's snow was fine as I was inside lifting weights, Tuesday had me inside before work on the LeMond pounding out 4 x 12 Zone 4 intervals (that fired up the metabolism for the day!!!), Wednesday had me do a 2 hour recovery ride on the road bike out in the crazy 40 mph wind....

Thursday called for Zone 5 intervals, but the singletrack dried out and came calling big time yesterday.  I took the RIP 9 with the 1 x 9 drivetrain to smash and blast through the Banner Pits trail system...

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I figured I would manage to get some Zone 5 work in the bank by riding out on the singletrack.  Maybe not the structured 4 x 4 intervals with an exact 3 minutes of rest between each like I would be able to monitor closely on the LeMond or my road bike, but enough to qualify. 

Sort of....

It almost worked!  I managed to bank 13 minutes and change in Zone 5, but fell short of the 16 minute goal.  Oh well, the fun of blasting through the singletrack for 3 loops at Banner was well worth it yesterday.  Especially since riding outside - and especially riding singletrack - was so elusive all Polar Vortex Winter long.  The singletrack at Banner is running fast and firm at the moment after the wind and sun baked in the clay dirt to super fast surface conditions.   I did 2 of those laps with Al Boone who always claims he's not in shape to go fast, yada, yada, yada....and then makes me work like a dog as if we were in a race the entire time.  Al, your bluff is no longer being listened to by me.  You're ready to race!

Kudos to trail master Bob Matthews, and to Joe Short, as well as Garrett for banking some TLC hours at Banner.  I spent 45 minutes in the AM picking up limbs, small trees, and spoke/derailleur destroying fodder at Banner before work due to the high winds on Wednesday and the post DNR controlled burn of the park.  I went back after work to do a bit more and found that Bob, Joe, and Garrett had plucked and groomed the entire trail system!!!!   Wow!   That allowed Al and I to blast through the singletrack.  I lost my front tire on one turn where I got a bit excited trying to pull away from Al and I leaned a bit too much (bad technique) on a sharp curve covered with leaves.  No biggie, I had to put a foot down and then clip back in as Al caught back up to me. 

We finished our blasting through the singletrack loops and I had to run off to shower, eat and get to school for the first Studio Recital of my students that began at 8:30.  I thought they all did a very fine job as it featured one freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and one senior.  Next Tuesday is my second Studio Recital where 8 more of my students will sing.

Speaking of blasting through.....I am about to blast down and through the 173 pound barrier!!!!  I was at 173.2 pounds this morning which means I am circling in on and about to pounce on my target of 170.  I am amazed at how this is helping me on the climbs, walking up hills, general energy, and realization that I have been carrying around a spare tire that I was a bit in a boat on the river DeNial over the past decade.  Now I am back to my fighting weight that I kept most of my singing career where I stayed between 167 and 174.  Well, up until about 2001/2 that is before I started packing it on and leads me to the entire decade just ending.  But more on all of that with the reasoning, and results later once I reach my goal weight in about 2 or 3 more weeks....

The three day Easter weekend begins tonight at 5:15 when I walk out of the office to head home after my last lesson of the week.  Banner Bunny Ride at 9 AM on Saturday to get in some more excellent singeltrack with like minded riders before the rain hits on Saturday evening and Sunday.  We've ordered a leg of lamb for Easter.  Alexa arrives home late tonight (10 PM or so) after her last exam that starts at 8 PM on a Friday night!  What is that all about?  Who schedules an exam on a Friday night at 8 PM at a University on Easter weekend?  I need to personally drive over to Iowa City and examine that professor's noggin'...

Ride your bike.  Clear some trail.  Build a trail.  Enjoy your family.  Worship.  Praise.  And enjoy the Spring weather that we are scheduled to have (in the mid 70's here in Indianola all weekend).

Have a great weekend

4/11/14

First ride of the year for somebody, and a first Winterreise for another...

Thursday was about 10 degrees cooler than Wednesday, but Tara wanted to go out for her first ride of the year.  Since breaking her right hand on January 15th, she has been healing up nicely and the OT gave her the green light to try an outside bike ride this week.

After work, I took her bike off of the CycleOps trainer in the basement, aired up the tires and made sure it was good to go on the road.  We headed down to Banner Pits on the road bikes, did a loop or two within the park and stopped for a picture as a balloon was about to launch...

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We've gotten pretty used to all of the hot air balloons in and around Indianola, but they are always fun to see at launch and in the sky thanks to the vivid colors.

Tara has trimmed down to 112 pounds, and I'm down to 175.  We have both noticed we feel "colder" due to having shed our excess.  As optimistic as we were by dressing in our cycling shorts - we both felt chilly on the ride.  Luckily, the 70's, 80's, and temperatures in the 90's are coming and will be welcomed by us.

I don't know who invented "Sibling Day" (outside of checking the always accurate source - Wikipedia about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siblings_Day), but evidently yesterday was it!  My cousin Marilyn Naden posted an oldie of Becky and I on the front steps of our house way back in the 1960's.  Looks like we are dressed to go to church on a Spring Sunday morning...

BruceBecky

So, hey - "Happy Sibling's Day" to you Becky!!!

Speaking of family and siblings...

Alexa arrives home from school for the weekend today at 4:30 so she can attend Zack's Junior Recital on Saturday at 3 PM in Lekberg Hall.  Zack has really put some great work into preparing this wonderful piece over the past 7 or 8 months.  IMO, he is ready to tackle the piece.  I've enjoyed working through it with him and am pround of his dedicated work to give it his first go. Kyle is an amazing pianist from Johnston who is currently studying at the University of Kansas.  Kyle has been working on it with Martin Katz via some private coachings and I have to say, Kyle's playing is stunning.  Their dress rehearsal went very well and this will be an excellent collaboration between these two young talented musicians.  They hope to perform it again in the future. 

The blurb:

Baritone Zack Brown, and guest pianist Kyle Naig present the Romantic Period's quintessentail song cycle:  Franz Schubert's Masterpiece tomorrow at 3 PM in Lekberg Hall!!!

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All are invited and a reception follows in the Lobby of Lekberg.  It's the first time a student has ever sung the entire cycle at Simpson College.

This has been an excellent music history week at Simpson due to last night's performance of the first ever song cycle written.  Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte which Joe Farrand took on for part of his senior recital.  Schubert worshipped Beethoven and through Schubert's two cycles of Die Schöne Müllerin and the pinnacle of song cycles to date - Winterreise - has become known as the Grandfather of the song cycle.  We also get to hear a Dvorak and a Jake Heggie song cycle tonight!!!!  What a week at Simpson for the song cycle!!!!!!

4/10/14

Banner is open for DIRTY business...!

Build week #1 is going OK so far with leg lifts on Monday, 3 x 12 Zone 4 intervals on Tuesday, and Wednesday called for upper body lifts with an hour recovery spin.  I more or less had to cheat on the one hour recovery spin due to the weather hitting 76 degrees and sunshine yesterday.  After being cooped up in the basement, or in heavy clothing to ride outside with temps in the teens to 40's - I just had to strip down to my kit and get some nice dry DIRT for the first time this Spring here in Iowa.

After work finished at 4:45 PM, I loaded up the bike in the Element and headed north to one of the local stomping grounds...

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It was hard to believe the nice warmth as I drove along the county roads with the window down and arrived in the parking lot at Banner.  Bob Matthews was there, Randy Aldridge was just getting suited up, and along came Christy Cooney and Maria von Ruthenberg on their bikes.  So we headed out for a lap as a group.  The trail was in great shape and after we went through the section called Extra Credit, Randy told me to go on at my own pace.  I wasn't out for a race pace, but I did feel good and started to push it a bit and pulled away as I picked up the pace.  I passed quite a few riders that were out enjoying the day and the trails that were in really good shape considering the freeze/thaw cycle was in full effect last week.  I saw about 30 or so out and about enjoying the DIRT which was good to see.  I even came across a trail runner who gave me a pretty serious look that read "what are you doing on my trails with a bike" as I passed her iPod filled ears.

I had really been looking forward to testing my conditioning on local trails where I can get more of an accurate feel, or gauge, as to how I am doing compared to riding somewhere I am not used to riding (like Swanson 2 weeks ago).  Local trails that you have memorized, be it climbs, the turns, the connector sections, how you handle grunt climbs, what gear combinations you use, and nailing certain sections is a good test when compared to riding on a trail that you don't ride enough to have that kind of local knowledge/memory to compare your conditioning.   So this was the first chance for me this year to test that after all the pavement, gravel, and trainer miles.  I had high hopes as my pavement ride on Tuesday had me best my uphill interval by 36 seconds to set a new personal record for that uphill climb (from Summerset road to the stop sign by the water tower in Indianola).

What I noticed immediately on Wednesday at Banner is that my weight loss since January 6th (12.4 pounds shed to date) really helps going up the power grunt climbs.  I was staying seated and climbing everything in the big ring easily compared to last year where I had to get out of saddle and mash/grunt up the short steeps.  I was able to stay seated and push/pull my pedals and bars to power up everything with no troubles.  In general, I was a gear or two taller yesterday compared to last year thanks to the weight work, structured training, and weight loss.  Not bad - especially since I am just now starting the build phase.  The trail was pretty dry and loose which meant staying seated was the best plan of attack with the Renegade tires to prevent losing traction on the rear wheel.  I also turned Pro Pedal off to get more comfy squish and allow the bike's suspension to dig in and do its work to keep the tires glued to the trail. 

If rain doesn't come, this year - based on the trail condition right now - could turn out to be another Nobby Nic year to handle the dry and loose.  Time will tell on that.  A lot of that could be the frost burned, dried out upper crust will settle into the usual baked clay once some Spring rains move through and the trail gets ridden in a bit.  Regardless, Banner is open for business and I highly recommend everyone get out to get some dirt before the jungle starts growing.  According to all the Facebook posts yesterday, DIRTY FUN was had by all at Center, Sycamore, Banner and wherever anyone could put on a smile and pull out a mountain bike.  Talk about your polar vortex pent up demand!!!

I got 1:18:17 in on the bike before loading up and heading to Hy-Vee to pick up spinach and a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  In spite of cheating for my recovery ride, I managed to do only 15:24 in Zone 3, the rest was in Zone 2 and Zone 1.  I'll do my scheduled Zone 5 intervals tonight after work on the pavement.  On tap are 4 x 4 Zone 5 intervals which are guarateed to be painful - especially after cheating on my recovery spin day.

Yesterday was all about sun, fun, warmth, and DIRT!!!!

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4/8/14

Base is over, build begins...

I completed the 12 week base training phase that I began in early January.  Last week was sort of a filler week where I repeated another week of base that culminated in the Gent's Race on Saturday.  I took Sunday off the bike and began a 12 week build, peak, and race training phase on Monday with an hour weight lifting session (leg work).

Between all of that on Sunday and Monday, I helped Tara out turning 150 pounds of IBP meat into 1320 kebabs which are now frozen and awaiting a Food Festival Event in May.  Needless to say, my hands, hair, and body smell like onion, garlic, cumin, parsley, and beef.  We have another weekend of that to go for the second round, but that will be later this month.

This month is all about singing.  Student recitals.  Rehearsals.  Run-throughs.  Voice Classes.  Zack is singing Schubert's Winterreise on Saturday at 3 PM in Lekberg Hall and we are in final preparations for that (he's ready), but I've got to pick up the refreshments and organize the reception.  My studio has their recital on April 17th and April 22nd.  I'm singing at the Simpson Gala on April 25th.  And we are preparing our opera workshop course for the month of May which involves a few hours of planning each week on top of our normal load.  Luckily, the weather has made a turn for the better to support everyone's mood coming out of the long hibernation period and it's nice not having to bundle up.

It looks like the dirt should be good to ride this week with the freeze/thaw cycle having stopped and things have dried out enough to allow riding on singletrack.  I'll try and work some of that into my training after today provided my work schedule allows it.

Now, off for my 90 minute before work ride to drill 3 x 12 Zone 4 intervals and record it all for TrainingPeaks....

Bike Mount from Rokform


4/6/14

Renegade Gent's Race V4 Race Report...

Ma Nature certainly rewarded the BikeIowa.com crew and all 225 racers with perfect weather conditions of blue sky, minimal wind, and comfortable temperatures that were not too cold, and not too warm for the 4th running of the Renegade Gent's Race that takes place on the gravel roads north of Ankeny, Iowa.  Kudos to my teammates for doing such a wonderful job of organizing and running this great event:  Kyle Sedore, Rob Versteegh, and Bruce Reese!!!  Hats off to the other team members for helping out with registration, bag drop, 1/2 way point, cue cards (Brian Portttorff - great job!!!), etc... .

In 4 short years, this has quickly become thee premiere gravel event for us here in Central Iowa.  The format of it being a 5 person team time trial, the time of year it is held, and the reality that all types of cyclists can ride in this event on whatever bike they want to ride it on, etc.... makes the Gent's Race such an accessible event for everyone and obviously speaks volumes to the growth in numbers it has experienced since the inception...

This year we had yet another cute Cue Card which we got at registration to either keep in our jersey pocket or strap to our stem with a zip tie.  Brian did a great job and I'm keeping mine as a cool momento.  The front side looked like this...





And the flip side had the the detailed turning directions...





I was riding this year with fellow teammates Scott Sumpter, Andy Zeiner, Matt DenHartog, and Jared Morford.  Our start time was slotted for a 9:16 AM start.  I arrived at Kyle's Bikes about 8:45, got my tires pumped up, water bottles loaded, drop bag sorted out and hooked with with our quintet.  No need to warm-up for a such an event, so the ride from the parking lot over to the starting line was all that was needed as my official warm up.  Each group of 5 on a team started off time trial style with several minutes between each group.  The group in front of us was not at their appointed starting time, but they came along just about a minute before our time and were told to just ride on out since they were late and had missed their 9:12 start.  Regardless, off we went at 9:16 and settled into a pace that involved no warm-up as my heart rate jumped up in the 160's.  Wow!  I guess we were racing...or at the very least starting right off in tempo/threshold to warm up!!!!

The main rule to follow for the event is the team of 5 must start together and must finish together.  Jared mentioned to me he was worried about the distance as he had not been out on any rides this year longer than 20 miles, although he had been commuting all year.  I said I had not done anything longer than a 40 miler, but I had lots of Zone 2 in my legs over the course of the past 3 months to make the distance without any worries.  I was more worried about the pace we started with as now the heart rate was tipping into the 170's as we flew up the climbs and kept the screws on the pace.  Andy and Scott were flying and we did our best to keep the group of 5 together.  It turned out fine for me as we spent most of the day in my Zone 3 (first 1/2 of the race) and Zone 2 - with only about a quarter hour spent in Zone 4 according to my exercise profile in Training Peaks. 

We were usually together in a tight group of 5, but here's Scott and I out in front by 50-100 feet or so from the other 3 which happened every now and then during the race as we visited along the way...




Photo by Corcoran

It was usually Scott and Andy who ventured ahead of us, but we all took turns pushing the pace and getting our groove on when it felt good.  I wore my BikeIowa kit underneath, double chamois, a pair of wool long johns, my Pearl Izumi cool weather pants (good for temps in the 30's - 50's), Pearl Izumi gloves designed for the same temps, a Pearl Izumi thermal long sleeve base layer, my BikeIowa jacket, warm wool socks, and a light cap with a sweat band under the helmet to stay comfy, but not too warm.  I had debated about wearing my winter cycling Shimano shoes/boots, but went with the normal shoes instead.  My toes were the only thing that got cold all day, but it wasn't bad enough to really complain about as it didn't bother me.

Scott, Matt, and I got out ahead coming into the 1/2 way point stop in Slater where our drop bags were and the check point was.  I downed my PB&J along with a banana and a Cliff bar.  I stocked up again with 2 fresh water bottles (one loaded with Perpetuem), used the facilities and we were off again for the 2nd half of the race.  Many like to pop a beer or other alcholic beverage at the 1/2 way point, but I don't do well drinking while riding so I always try to avoid it until after a ride or event is completed.  Otherwise, I'd be ready for a nap along the side of the road in a food coma topped off with a sugar low after a drink.  For others, it doesn't seem to stifle their ride as I saw a few even pulling out 12 packs and cases of beer for their teams to consume at lunch!!!

As usual, my best part of endurance riding is in the 2-4 hour point when my body "wakes up" and gets in a groove.  And it happened again this year - like clock work - during that time frame where everything was efficient, felt great and was easy during the 2-4 hour point.  The last 25 minutes I could feel the legs were torn down, and the right knee was talking back at me, but I pushed through it.

We had been riding primarily with a tailwind (when heading north) and some crosswinds (when heading east or west) up to this point, but knew the final 15 mile or so leg when we turned by the Ames airport south back to Ankeny would be against the winds that were blowing out of the south.  The wind was pretty mild this year and once we made the turn, it wasn't that bad - at least compared to what I've been out riding in this Spring with howling winds and gusts in the 30's and 40mph range.  This felt like something in the 8-11 mph range which was very manageable.  However, we had 50 miles under out belt and the legs and lungs still need to dig deep to face a headwind like that.  Jared was struggling, but Matt - in a really selfless display of support - would ride alongside Jared and give him a push every now and then to keep him in the middle of our group and sheltered by the wind.  I rode over on the side where the wind was blowing from to create a wind block for Jared as much as I could so he could tuck in and stay with us without having to put out as much power.  We kept together for the 15 mile headwind section and our pace, and effort was quite a bit less than the first half of the race, but we kept passing slower teams and making our way back to the finish line.

We finally saw the Ankeny water tower in the distance and had about 5 miles to go.  We hit the 60 mile point at a time of 3:56 of bike riding time.  The last couple of miles were on pavement, and I rolled with Jared and chatted with him.  The final hill up to the finish line had me out of saddle thinking I could muster up a full out sprint up the hill.  Ha!!!  That lasted for only about 200 yards until my legs said - enough of that for today!!  Our group separated with Andy, Scott, and Matt crossing the line together, me about 50 yards back, and Jared finally got up the hill and crossed the line for our total riding time of 4:23:55.  When I rode it 2 years ago in Version 2, my team had fallen apart and only 2 of us finished with a time of 5:37, so this was about an hour shorter thanks to the pace we maintained, the weather, and the excellent condition of the gravel.

Without the handicap system, our time was 17th best out of the 43 teams that started.  With the handicap system, we were ranked as 20th across the line.  The main thing, however, was the fun of the ride and getting out to enjoy such a great day with like minded cyclists.

Now the bad news: my front tire's tread started to peel off the carcass just as the rear had done out of the bag when I bought them!!  That means both Challenger Alamanzo tires are toast.  Too bad, as they roll great and are very supple which opens up the Roubaix as the perfect gravel bike for me.  We'll see if the replacement pair last any longer - or if this brand is simply dead in the water for me.  The size is perfect at 30mm width to fit in my frame, provide clearance and provide squish on the rough gravel surface.

I rolled back to the Element, changed clothes, loaded up the bike and listened to Act IV of La Boheme on XM satellite radio live from the MET.  Inspired by Puccini, I took a few minutes nap and decided to wait for Bob, Al, Andy, Phil, and Nick to roll in on their FAT Bikes and head over to On the Rocks with them to visit and have a few beers.  They rolled in with Andy a bit ticked off with endurance riding in general and commentary on what in the world was he thinking listening to all the nuts that had convinced him he needed to buy a FAT Bike in the first place.  I guess we could replace the same "type" of nuts who spout on about how a rigid singlespeed bike is the purest form of mountain biking yada, yada, yada, by substituting - or maybe at least adding - the Fat Bike yada, yada to the list, Andy.  Oh, but wait Andy!  Don't you have a rigid singlespeed?  ;-) The rest of the FAT 5 crew were all chipper and full of smiles from the day.  

We headed over to On the Rocks and I enjoyed a few Fat Tires and some nice pork shanks cooked ossa buco style, with nice sauteed zucchini, and potatoes - which I inhaled along with a salad.  After a good hour or two of chit-chat, it was off to Indianola for a shower and a nap.  Since I had burned over 4000 calories on the ride, I still had more to eat to make up for my spend and had some more food at home visiting with Tara.  I still ended up about 100 calories short for the day. 

Today - we're heading off to make 1200 kebabs at the Temple!!!!  Then a concert at Simpson at 3.  My legs feel worked today, but it was really fun yesterday and always a good test of Spring endurance.  The weather looks like we will all be able to ride dirt by next weekend here in Central Iowa.  Thumbs up if that happens!