Mountain Bike Racing Season is officially kicked off and running...

April has arrived along with lush lawns, budding buds, leaves popping out, weeds growing, insects buzzing, taxes paid, grills grilling, and of course - the start of mountain bike racing season.


Illiniwek Abermination CAT II Start

I started the season off over at the Nebraska Psycowpath Swanson Shootout on April 9th with 3 laps of an always well attended, and well run event in Bellevue, Nebraska on the singletrack that had a few new twists and turns this year compared to past years. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the 70's, and cloud cover to keep us from overheating. I managed to claw my way through the course for a 3rd place finish in the old man's CAT II group.

Realizing I had some top end work to do after all of the endurance training, I attempted to get some higher effort intervals in over the past two weeks, but couldn't stick to my structured plan as the end of the semester hours of working during the day, and attending recitals/concerts at night dictated a cut in my training hours. However, I managed to push hard on the few rides I could get in to build some more top end. My other realization was short term weight gain following the 12 week build for endurance racing that ended in early March. I had leaned out during the 12 weeks leading up to early March, but I started chowing down in mid-March. If it wasn't nailed down - I ate it. So I have a good 5-7 pounds on the mid-section to once again shed as it will help me going up the hills to lighten the pay load.

Yesterday, April 23rd was our IMBCS season opener at Illiniwek Forest Preserve in Illionis. The race was hosted by FORC and is a joint series race with the Iowa and the Illinois series. Mike Corbin was once again the race director. He and his volunteer team of FORC members did a great job! Music, food truck, swag, atmosphere, perfectly groomed trails, spectators - which all combined for a quality event. The forest preserve and beautiful flowing trails lie along the banks of the Mississippi River and has become a favorite of mine.

I car pooled to the Quad City event with Rob Cook. We brought the Oskar Blues beer, the free entry punch cards for the 2016 Series Winners, and quickly got those delivered. I met Keith Robinson from iTuo - a new sponsor for the IMBCS series this year. It was great to see all the smiling faces around with a good turnout of everyone enjoying the sunny, beautiful weather, perfect trails, and festival atmosphere that FORC had created.

Rob raced the CAT II race that started at 11:15, and I raced the COMP race that began at 1:25.

This course is filled with dirt and wooden berms making it a really fun time on the bike.


Photo Courtesy of Karl Bengston

I hung on for dear life for all 4 laps with a creaking bike (rear pivots obviously need some immediate attention) to claim DFL (dead frickin' last) in this one. DFL is a familiar place for me in the COMP category, but I enjoy doing the extra lap, and the bumped up competition level in COMP. After I leaned too far on one corner riddled with roots and went down hard enough to make my handlebars askew, I did manage to straighten them out and try and catch back up to the two I was tailing. In doing so, I hit my highest heart rate this year on the second half of the 4th and final lap on all of the climbs as I decided to test my pain threshold a bit as I tried to catch back up.

I think I even managed to get 1/2" off the ground...


Photo Courtesy of Rob Cook

Due to the late start, and length of my race (I was out there for 1:42 and change), by the time we got packed up and on the road, I didn't get home until 7:42 pm. I showered, inhaled a big salad Tara made for me, and passed out.

With that, the 2017 mountain bike racing season is off and running - in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.


February - the Winter that Wasn't...!

Thanks to Ma Nature being about 17 inches below normal for snowfall this time of year, and record warm temperatures, my riding outside continued during the month of February. I had to shorten or skip a few planned training rides due to directing Hansel and Gretel, but managed to stay on task during the month as best I could doing the structured training plan.

Here's what this Winter - or lack of Winter - allowed me to do for the short month of February...

February 1st 8.53 Miles -- Duration 0:50:31
February 3rd 18.1 Miles -- Duration 1:00:01
February 5th 40.6 Miles -- Duration 3:05:57
February 6th 18.4 Miles -- Duration 1:13:18
February 9th 26.0 Miles -- Duration 1:30:00
February 11th 37.3 Miles -- Duration 2:33:09
February 13th 48.8 Miles -- Duration 4:00:04
February 14th 5.94 Miles -- Duration 0:31:35
February 15th 12.4 Miles -- Duration 1:05:36
February 16th 11.0 Miles -- Duration 0:59:37
February 17th 6.0 Miles -- Duration 0:32:22
February 18th 30.9 Miles --  Duration 2:14:17
February 19th 36.1 Miles -- Duration 2:25:46
February 21st 28.4 Miles -- Duration 1:48:43
February 25th 27.5 Miles -- Duration 2:04:00
February 26th 42.3 Miles -- Duration 3:02:06
February 28th 28.7 Miles -- Duration 1:50:01

February Total Miles: 426.87
February Total Duration: 30:48:02

That's a wrap for February that - like January - combined road, gravel, singletrack, and basement trainer riding to get through the month.


January Riding Recap...

January 2017 allowed for a lot of nice road riding as the weather has been beneficial with minimal ice or snow. This left the paved trails in great shape, gravel in good condition "some of the time", and even the singletrack had days where it turned cold and frozen enough for at least a few rides. I know the snow is lurking out there somewhere and will hit by Winter's end, but so far it has been lucrative riding outside due to the lack of snow.

Even with second semester work starting up, I was able to stay on target for my structured training, although last week's scheduled Rest & Recovery week found me doing less of the active recovery miles than I should have. Due to work, I wasn't able to get a 2 hour scheduled Zone 2 ride in on the weekend. The past two months of the structured training, combined with managing my calorie intake, has led to me shedding 9 pounds. In fact, I am just a few pounds away from reaching my fighting weight - which is several weeks ahead of schedule this year compared to the past few years. I'll take it!

January 1st 51.6 Miles -- Duration 4:00:09
January 3rd 10.1 Miles -- Duration 00:31:00
January 4th 11.0 Miles -- Duration 1:00:28
January 5th 17.9 Miles -- Duration 1:03:00
January 6th 9.88 Miles -- Duration 00:33:00
January 7th 15.1 Miles -- Duration 1:45:32 (MTB)
January 8th 30.8 Miles -- Duration 2:15:17
January 10th 20.5 Miles -- Duration 1:09:58
January 11th 15.8 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
January 12th 27.0 Miles -- Duration 1:30:00
January 14th 26.9 Miles -- Duration 2:31:34 (MTB)
January 15th 54.2 Miles -- Duration 3:51:02
January 17th 22.7 Miles -- Duration 1:19:58
January 18th 9.9 Miles -- Duration 1:02:18 (MTB)
January 19th 22.8 Miles -- Duration 1:15:58
January 21st 26.9 Miles -- Duration 1:29:58
January 22nd 55.4 Miles -- Duration 4:00:04 (MTB)
January 25th 18.1 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
January 29th 21.4 Miles -- Duration 1:05:00
January 31st 23.5 Miles -- Duration 1:15:00

January Total Miles: 491.48
January Total Duration: 33:39:16

That's a wrap for January that combined road, gravel, singletrack, and basement trainer riding to get through the first month of this new year. February will have me busy with the opera until the 13th, so I will try and sneak in what I can to stay on top of the structured training schedule the next two weeks.


Endurance ride with Tara & 2016 Exercise Review...

Tara suited up and braved the weather with me yesterday for New Years Day. I had a scheduled 4 hour ride to finish up two weeks of intense training before going into a rest and recovery week. Temperatures were in the 34-38 degree range on our ride, but off we went around 12 noon to see how many miles we could get in on our road bikes. Knowing that temperatures will drop this week into the teens and 20's, we figured this might be it for our Winter outside long road rides. Who knows?

I failed to follow my nutritional instructions of taking in 2 calories per pound of body weight per hour on this ride. I started with 5 gels, and Tara had some granola bars. I managed to eat only 3 gels, and one granola bar which was not enough for the pace we were going. I should have fueled up at Casey's in Carlisle while we were there earlier. Regardless, at 3 hours and 15 minutes into the ride I felt like the rug was suddenly pulled out from under me.

We stopped for a snack at Banner Pits...


We rolled back to the house with Tara going strong, and me in full survival mode trying to stay within 100 yards of her. Tara's toes were cold so she peeled off a few blocks from our house, and finished with 46 miles. I went out to the west side of town for another 5 miles to get the full 4 hours as scheduled. Thus began the 2017 riding for both of us.

Nothing another pastrami pizza couldn't take care of after a hot shower.

December Riding

December was one of my top three months for 2016 in terms of total hours and miles. Singletrack was favorable for some nice dirt riding during the first couple of weeks before round one of snow hit. It's been too warm and muddy since then, but between the road bike, the trainer in the basement, and the mountain bike on gravel and pavement - I managed to log a good month of riding to wrap up the year.

December 1st 14.1 Miles -- Duration 1:30:33
December 2nd 9.44 Miles -- Duration 00:43:48
December 3rd 17.3 Miles -- Duration 2:00:37
December 4th 21.0 Miles -- Duration 1:40:34
December 6th 7.52 Miles -- Duration 00:40:23
December 7th 11.5 Miles -- Duration 1:22:40
December 8th 9.39 Miles -- Duration 1:08:05
December 10th 21.9 Miles -- Duration 1:09:58
December 11th 19.3 Miles -- Duration 1:00:58
December 13th 16.1 Miles -- Duration 00:51:58
December 14th 9.67 Miles -- Duration 00:54:46
December 15th 12.0 Miles -- Duration 1:25:46
December 16th 21.3 Miles -- Duration 1:12:53
December 17th 22.3 Miles -- Duration 1:14:59
December 18th 28.6 Miles -- Duration 1:41:58
December 20th 30.36 Miles -- Duration 1:39:54
December 21st 18.5 Miles -- Duration 1:00:58
December 22nd 54.7 Miles -- Duration 4:01:53
December 23rd 9.01 Miles -- Duration 00:32:58
December 24th 28.5 Miles -- Duration 1:29:59
December 25th 32.1 Miles -- Duration 2:29:34
December 27th 29.0 Miles -- Duration 2:02:56
December 28th 18.9 Miles -- Duration 1:36:48
December 29th 21.1 Miles -- Duration 1:30:04
December 30th 5.77 Miles -- Duration 00:30:50
December 31st 33.4 Miles -- Duration 2:31:04

December Total Miles: 522.76
December Total Duration: 38:06:54


Looks like I averaged about 8 hours and 17 minutes per week during 2016...

Duration by Week 2016

Fitness History 2017

Full monthly hours total which includes my bike riding, weights, yoga, and walking...

2016 Exercise Hours

2016 ended up being about 50 hours less total exercise than my previous two years both were. Lots of trail work at Banner Pits, and Lake Ahquabi accounted for some of that, as did travel to California on three separate trips. In spite of that, I felt stronger on the bike in 2016 than I did in 2015.

Here's to everyone enjoying their exercise and cycling in 2017!!!


2017: Happy New Year!!!!!


Ah, yes. One of those year end wrap up posts on a blog that yada, yada, yada about what happened in 2016, and what one hopes for in 2017 yada, yada, yada. If and when I do it, it is more for an electronic journal for myself to look back on and bring up memories.

I'll sum up 2016 in two words: It was.

Enough said about that as all my blog posts pretty much covered what it was, another trip around the sun filled with fun, sadness due to loss, the full gamut of emotions when beloved family pets move on, wonderful news for our children, and life's eventful journey. I don't mean to be pessimistic about our year and not sum it up with a long blog post as it was a good year filled with wonderful trips, events, family, friendships, and transitions including saying goodbye to Tara's father. I just covered most of it in the previous posts, so no point in rehashing it all.

I'll sum up what I hope 2017 will be in three words: It will be.

Yes. It will be filled again with work, trips, reaching goals, transitions, and our attempt at enjoying it all as it comes.

Married for 27 Years

We did celebrate our 27th Wedding Anniversary yesterday with a quiet evening at home with our children. Tara had ordered a pastrami from Katz's Delicatessen in New York  City as my Christmas gift. We had a wonderful meal on Thursday night with it, and decided to take on making our own version of Speedy Romeo's pastrami pizza last night with some of the leftovers. It was so good, I believe we will make another for New Years Day. It was actually Alexa's recommendation, and the pastrami pie had been featured on Food Network. Here's a blog about the Jewish Mash-Up including links to plenty of "how to make its". There's a link to the Food Network video, and we ended up making our own version (including olives) for a romping, stomping amazing pizza!

Before going in the 425 oven...


And after 20 minutes of baking...


It's hard to portray how delicious this was, but the red kraut, olives, fontina cheese, thousand island dressing, bechamel sauce, Katz's pastrami, and the everything bagel spices just makes for a tremendous burst of flavor on everyone's favorite - pizza! It's a keeper for sure in this household.

Of course, Noel wanted to help with cleaning up and rinsing the dishes...

Noel helping with rinse

Thanks and Kudos to Rasmussen Bike Shop in Des Moines!

After spending 4 years of riding the Specialized Roubaix Big Red Fire Truck 64cm road bike on pavement, gravel, grass for some cross races, fire roads in Germany, paths and roads in California, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, Utah in Winter, Fall, Summer, Spring, rain, snow, salt, sand, humidity, my sweat dripped all over it, a few RAGBRAIs - I figured it was time for a new chain, cassette, rings, BB, brake pads, cables, housing, new tires, clean up, etc... .

It wasn't shifting so well and I knew it was time, so Matt ordered the parts last week, and I took it up this week to get the overhaul. Sure, a new bike is always at the back of one's mind, but I love this bike as it gets most of my pedaling action of all my bikes and fits me well. All the new parts and labor to spruce it up was in the $500 - $600 range which is a lot less than a new bike at $2K plus. When I picked it up and paid, Sterling said "Wow, Bruce. You've got a new bike." which is actually how it feels out on the pavement. Shifting is once again flawless, and the CGR post gobbles up enough of the cracks and bumps to make me smile on this endurance bike.

While they did it, I wanted to go from the OE white bar tape and saddle, to black which is more practical in terms of not showing dirt. The white looked cool when new, but was an eye sore the past 4 years no matter how much I tried to keep it looking clean. So I moved over the black WTB Volt and Specialized CGR post from the Dos Niner (which now has the Thudbuster and another WTB saddle on it) to the road bike, and had Rassy's put on the Lizard Skin black 3.2mm bar tape.

It went from looking like this...


To looking like this...


I'll get 2 1/2 hours out in the cold today on the bike, take a nap, then go to dinner in Des Moines tonight with Tara and friends before we all head to the Symphony Concert at 8 pm. That's our New Years Eve celebration.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!


Winter has arrived...

Fall riding and season is over as the equinox ushered in the official start of Winter this week. Winter Solstice. Shortest day of the year (in terms of daylight). My peak for off season weight gain (tacked on 6.8% of my ideal racing weight this Fall with some good eats). It also marks when I put the snow tires on the cars. In addition, Solstice brought some fond memories as it would have been my Dad's 90th birthday.

That being said - Winter is here.

We have been through an emotional transition in our families with loss, and are focused on new growth going forward. Our son adopted a dog from the AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport group out of De Soto, Iowa. Her name is Noel (as in the French word for a Christmas Carol) and she is busy carrying every shoe she can find in the house as a prize she thinks she is entitled to have.


Minimal lights and no ornaments are on the tree this year as Noel is fascinated with chewing whatever she can chew on - and she enjoys drinking the water out of the tree stand.

I think I got a record number of laps in at Banner Pits in the September - December time frame this year thanks to favorable weather, my new set of lights, and the trail having been in great riding shape.


55 degrees and a Thunderstorm on Christmas Day ought to leave our trails in muddy messy conditions, but hopefully things will dry out next week.

With the start of Winter also comes the start of my training for the 2017 season. This is week one of a 12 week plan. Monday was day one which had me doing 40 squats, 40 deadlifts, 40 bench presses, 40 hamstring curls, and 30 minutes of core work. It's taken until today for me to clear the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Ouch! Tuesday was my annual Power and Heart Rate Test to see where I am as I begin the new season training. I was surprised to find myself score a number 5 watts higher than the two previous years to start the Winter training. Small gain in terms of my starting point, but probably due to some good Fall riding I was able to enjoy that kept my FTP tuned up. Wednesday was a 60 minute recovery spin. Due to the forecast for Sunday, I swapped Sunday's scheduled workout with Thursday's and took advantage of the sunshine and 40 degrees to get my 4 hour Zone 2 ride yesterday. I was happy that my legs had 55 miles in them out in the wind and hills to knock out the ride.

Who has 4 hours to ride a bike during the work week? Well, this is all due to our semester break giving me the time to load up all the training hours that the final two weeks of December and first week of January allows. That being said, it looks like 2016 will come in about 50 hours less on the bike than 2015 and 2014. More on that later, but suffice it to say I am slogging out week one of my LWCoaching.com training plan this week.

After four years of riding the Specialized Roubaix, I decided it was time for a new chain, cassette, rings, brake pads, new tires, and a tune up. So the parts were ordered at Rasmussen's Bike Shop in Des Moines, and I will take the bike up to drop it off for the update. I'm switching from the white bar tape to black as well since white - which looks cool - is pretty impractical when it comes to dirt, and sweat.

The Roubaix sees the most miles and hours out of all of my bikes I own. It has been a great work horse the past four years. Whether it is a training ride, a fun ride, a group ride, a gravel ride, RAGBRAI, or a simple commute - the Big Red Fire Truck (size XXXL 64cm) Roubaix has served me well.


The tune up and new components ought to freshen it up.

A very Merry Christmas to all!


I am all lit up...

So much for the beautiful Fall mountain biking conditions. Anyone who missed out, really missed out this year as the conditions were beyond excellent.

Snow hit this morning and looks like it will accumulate enough to end the Fall fun I have been having out at Banner Pits. I've logged 35 laps at Summerset alone from September to now, plus Center Trails, and Lake Ahquabi saw plenty of attention from my bike as well. We had very dry singletrack this Fall all over Central Iowa coupled with a lot of perfect temperatures which kept the freeze-thaw cycle out of the equation for mountain biking. In my opinion, it has been the best conditions for Fall riding in the past 14 years. It was the 2nd warmest November on record here in Iowa, and last Friday it was 55 degrees on December 2nd as well as around 50+ on Monday, December 5th to wrap it all up. Then the mercury suddenly dropped down below freezing the next day which meant the trails were dry, frozen, and perfect goodness for this past week for anyone with cold weather riding gear to wear. Temperatures in the teens and twenty's are my favorite as long as there is no snow on the trail.

After the time change, I pulled out my old trusted Niterider MiNewts to keep the trail lit for my road biking and my mountain biking. Realizing that their combined maximum of 650 lumens wasn't really enough to allow me to go full speed on the singletrack, I decided to upgrade these 8-10 year old lights. The MiNewt XT duals on my bar put out a maximum of 300 lumens on high, and 184 lumens on low.


The MiNewt helmet light could throw out a maximum of 350 lumens on high, 200 on medium, and 125 on low. The combination was enough to keep me in business for the occasional Fall/Winter/Spring night ride, or some of the 24 hour races I did way back when I bought them. However, I figured it was time to upgrade since bike lights with lumens in the 2000 - 6000 range were easily available and the same price as my old MiNewts that served me so well.

Enter, my decision to get the ituo combination of their new XP4 for the bar, and the XP3 for the helmet. On high, the combo provides 5400 lumens!!!! Let's just say that on high and on medium, I have felt super safe as I can see everything and go at race speed with no worries. It's like having a car on the singletrack with the beams on high! I paid around $450 for the three Niterider lights at the time I bought them all those years ago. The price on the ituo combination of the XP4 and the XP3 was $459 for 8.3 times the amount of lumens!

It's a sweet time to upgrade IMO.

Here's the XP4 on my bar...

Ituo XP4

Here are my helmets side by side with the MiNewt on the left, and the new XP3 on the right...

Ituo vs minewt

The ituo USA representative, Keith Robinson, lives in the Quad City area and was kind enough to answer all of my questions and make a recommendation for me. My Niteriders have the Cool Light LED's which are great for riding on pavement where the slight blue tint works best. On singletrack, the ituo representative (Keith) told me that their lights use the NW or Natural White LED's which keep the color of what you see in the forest, and removes some of the flatness of the terrain contour. I trusted him and am glad I did.

The lights are excellent!

Lights arrived a couple of days after my order...


Small footprint for such a huge light throw...


I use a Topeak gas tank pack on my bike to hold the battery for the bar light, and I toss the helmet light battery in my jersey pocket (or Camelbak).

Here is the review that Keith did on the XP4 (and he had the XP3 on as well). Below is a video he made at Illiniwek Forest Preserve across the Mississippi River in Illinois (and also some video at Sunderbruch Park in Iowa that Keith made with a pair of XP3's). The videos helped convince me to go with the ituo lights as the terrain, foliage, and dirt at Illiniwek and Sunderbruch are very similar to what we have here in Central Iowa.

Illiniwek XP4 & XP3 combo...

Sunderbruch Park XP3 & XP3 combo...

I have two evening rides under my belt with these lights, and all I can say is they are fantastic. Run time allows me to get three laps at Banner on full power, or a lot longer if I use the medium setting. Perfect for my needs of 1 - 3 hour rides. I highly recommend ituo lights for any of you considering an upgrade.

My hope is that what little snow we do get will not completely stop my riding. I would imagine a walking lap around the singletrack with the jet pack blower would remove the white stuff.... ;-)