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...


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


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...


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...


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!!!


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!!!!!!


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...


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!!!!



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


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!


Sunday's Gravel Ride...

Rob Versteegh posted up on Facebook the following message Saturday...

TEAM, official invite to ride bikes tomorrow morning if you wanna ride long(ish). WWP bridge at 7:30. roll gravel to cummings, over around booneville and back to WWP by 11-11:30 timeframe. mostly gravel. cross bike is weapon of choice. not break-neck pace, but we'll be rolling. GO!

I thought better of joining the ride due to only 15 hours of recovery since the race on Saturday.  I did have plans to get a long gravel ride in later in the day after I had slept in and recovered at least 24 hours from Saturday's race.  My thought had been to ride from 4 - 7:30 PM or so going into the weekend until I learned of Rob's organized grinder.  In spite of only recovering for 15 hours, I got up and headed to Des Moines to join the group for the gravel ride.  It was to be a nice test of the Roubaix and Challenger Alamanzo tires to get some hours in on various gravel roads.

Not break-neck pace, but we'll be rolling?  Well, we were rolling right off the bat as everyone had ridden their bikes to the meeting point and were already warmed up.  I had to drive being from out of town.  That pace didn't really let up for the first hour.  I was seeing the same heart rates on the high end on the climbs as I had hit the day before during the mountain bike race.  I was hanging on, but knew that I couldn't hammer the hills like that and keep the pace for multiple hours.  A couple of stops for Maharry to fix a flat and then Rich Wince went down hard doing a sprint to a stop sign with Rick Blackford.  He got dusted off, fixed his bike and showed off the blood on his wounds from the fall.

Later on, we all stopped at an intersection about 1:05 into the ride so the entire group could gather and decide if we would head out to Booneville, or turn the other way to Martensdale.  Martensdale it was since there was a convenience store there where we could get water and some fuel.  I had it in the back of my mind to just take the Great Western Trail back into Des Moines to my car as that would be about 3 hours for me which was plenty on the day after a race - or so it seemed with the way I was starting to feel after the opening hour's pace.

Luckily, Kurt Benson was willing to roll back with me on the Great Western at more of a not break-neck pace - our style.   We visited and rolled back north to Des Moines for the hour+ and I got to the Element right at 40 miles for the day which was plenty for me with only 15 measly hours of recovery in the bank.  Kurt and I parted, and I headed home for some grub and a short nap before showering and heading off to the Simpson College Madrigal Singers excellent concert in Smith Chapel.

The bike and the tires were perfect, although this combination is only good on dry gravel as there is no room in the rear for mud to collect without scraping the frame.  Interesting, my wife's size small Ruby (the female version of the Roubaix) has much more clearance in the rear at the chainstay.  Enough to run quite a large tire compared to mine - maybe even a 34 to 38mm.  I imagine that has to do with the size HUGE 64cm frame squeezing about everything they could to keep it shorter than an 18 wheel rig.  

Regardless, the weather forecast is for rain and snow the next 3 days leading up to the Gent's Race, so my bike choice will be determined on conditions we face Saturday morning.  I'll get one of the mountain bikes ready just in case.  I hope it is minimal rain that is easily absorbed after the past two days of 70's and high winds - plus today is sunny and windy with temps around 50. That should really dry things out so much that the gravel could absorb some moisture leading up to Saturday.

I did manage to recover by Monday night to hit my 4 x 6 weight work on the legs (the big plates are loaded on the bar now, so it's good strength grunt work).  I'll do a 60 minute recovery spin this morning before work to flush things out a bit before a very busy 9 hour work day.

March miles and duration on the bike recap...

March 1 - rode 28.6 miles for a duration of 90 minutes
March 4 - rode 9.8 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
March 5 - rode 9.3 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
March 6 - rode 19.6 miles for a duration of 60 minutes
March 7 - rode 10.1 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
March 9 - rode 28.97 miles for a duration of 2:03:49
March 10 - rode 31.61 miles for a duration of 2:06:11
March 11 - rode 29.28 miles for a duration of 2:04:15
March 13 - rode 33.9 miles for a duration of 2:00:59
March 14 - rode 26.4 miles for a duration of 1:44:27
March 15 - rode 40.1 miles for a duration of 2:31:40
March 18 - rode 19.8 miles for a duration of 60 minutes
March 20 - rode 28.9 miles for a duration of 1:42:32
March 21 - rode 6.53 miles for a duration of 33:01
March 22 - rode 14 miles for a duration of 1:38:41
March 23 - rode 17.48 miles for a duration of 1:26:11
March 25 - rode 13.5 miles for a duration of 45 minutes
March 26 - rode 9.12 miles for a duration of 55:33
March 27 - rode 20.1 miles for a duration of 60 minutes
March 28 - rode 5.4 miles for a duration of 33:25
March 29 - rode 17.3 miles for a duration of 1:44:29 (First mountain bike race of the season)
March 30 - rode 40.98 miles for a duration of 2:47:14 (gravel ride with Bike Team)

Total for month of March: 460.77 miles/30:37:27 hours 


Psycowpath #1 Swanson Shoot Out race report...

Welcome to the Nebraska Lottery Psycowpath Mountain Bike Trail and Running Series!!!

Those are the words that greeted us loud and clear by series director, Ryan Feagan as he jawboned his way through the day on the wireless microphone as the ever entertaining up to date announcer an all matters racing.  Many of us had to keep pinching ourselves that we were actually crawling out of hibernation from a long winter and about to race our mountain bikes - even though many of us had not ridden on dirt since last November.

I drove over and arrived about 11:15 AM in time to register.  Nebraska, like Minnesota, made the decision to not go with USA Cycling this year - so that made registration easy and less costly for everyone involved.  After I got my number plate on the bars, and the timing chip secured to the leg of my fork, I headed out for 20 or so minutes of warm up in temperatures that were still nippy enough to require pants and my cycling coat with full finger gloves.

The sun was shining and I saw a lot of smiles as people were happy to be out racing to kick the season off.  I don't know the full count, but I think they had over 200+ racers there which is very encouraging.  We actually had enough guys in each age group to do start waves with my group getting our own start.  There were 11 of us pre-registered for the 50+ group...


Once we were off, the opening sprint had me tailing along in 4th...


That's Tom, Jerry, Mark, and myself.  Tom won everything last year in Nebraska, so he was the marker.  Jerry and I have traded spots off and on for a few years now.  And he's looking svelte and trim again this year which means he's ready to race!!!  And Mark had me at the line last year at Swanson and has beaten me at Ida Grove - so it was going to be a fun day.  There was a pretty big group of riders out on the course doing the Marathon and since our group was the last in the start waves, we caught up to a lot of slower riders from groups that had started in front of us.  Sterling recently rebuilt my REBA XX fork as it was shot.  I noticed immediately what a huge difference it made to have a functioning fork with nice squish up front.  Wow!  It felt great!!! 

Tom and Mark moved around Jerry at some point in the first part of lap 1, and I followed suit to move into 3rd place with Jerry settling in behind me.  I hung with Tom and Mark for a good part of lap 1 and kept getting stuck behind riders they were passing.  Often, there is time for 1 or 2 guys to pass in a section, but not always enough time or space for a 3rd guy to also go around.  So, I kept being the odd man left out on the passes.  Little gaps started to open up between the lead two and myself, and after I finally would pass a rider or group of riders I would work hard to close that gap hoping to hang on for as long as I possible.  After we crossed the road and headed up into the northeast section of the course, the traffic was really heavy and Tom and Mark pulled away on the climb as I got stuck behind a half dozen or so.  The deeply rutted berm turns and section coming up made it difficult to pass and I had to be content to see them open up a pretty big gap on me. 

I settled into my rhythm and felt pretty good.  I knew there was a lot of race left and I would wait to see what unfolded.  I was surprised that my bike handling was just as good as ever in spite of not having any time on dirt outside of last weekends frozen dirt Banner loops.  As I mentioned above, the fork was like new and felt wonderful.  My new lighter body weight seemed beneficial on the climbs as I kept it in my big ring (38T) for the entire race with no issues.  The course was really fun as enough new little tweaks and features had been added since last year to make it really fun and IMO - an improvement.  Just little things like some logovers were fixed so you could take them at a higher speed, a couple of corners had received some new love and it had nice flow.  Unfortunately, somebody had been out on portions of the trail with horses which causes a lot of damage and some bumps, but the crew had done a great job whipping the course into shape after the long winter.  Kudos to the THOR (Trails Have Our Respect) for all of their excellent work.

By the middle of lap 2, traffic was not as much of a problem and I was usually able to pass pretty quickly anybody I came up behind.  I was pushing pretty good for this point in the season and saw no sign of Tom and Mark.  I didn't even hear Ryan mention their names when I was in earshot of the finish line.  So that told me they were quite a bit out in front of me.  Everything went pretty well for me and lap 3 was just fine, although I did feel a few twinges in the right leg on this lap as if my right leg was thinking about cramping.  We'd been out nearly 90 minutes and I wasn't really hydrating like I should have been.  Nevertheless, I crossed the line good enough for third place and a couple of minutes later Jerry Hoff came rolling in for 4th.  It was a few more minutes before 5th and beyond crossed the line.

Congrats to Mark Sullivan and Tom Jeffreys who took 1st and 2nd respectively...


Mark powered in for 1st place just 2 seconds ahead of Tom - so they are riding strong and should make for a nice competitive series this year.  They had me by nearly 4 minutes - which is an eternity in a 90 minute mountain bike race.  I'll have to dig really deep to make up that kind of a gap!!


I came home with a little bacon to start the year off on a good foot...


You can see Ryan chatting up the crowd with the microphone over on the right as the old men enjoy their limelight on the podium...


I had a burger after the race, then I went to use the Kybo and was shocked to see what I thought was blood in my urine!!!!  I freaked out and probably chewed everyone's ear off about it.  Turns out, I had a huge salad with pickled beets in it on Friday night and the "pink" in my urine was from the beets.  No blood, thank goodness.  It was nice chatting with Matt Gersib, Tom Winfield, Jerry Hoff, TJ Fort, Kevin Betters, Andre Rethman, Rob Cook, Katherine Roccasecca, Ryan VanHouweling, and a few others before I crawled in the Element for the 2 hour drive home.

A big thanks to Ryan and Roxy Feagen, Mark Herbst, and the entire crew for doing it right!  It's no wonder that many of us from Iowa enjoy driving over to race in the events that we can in the Psycowpath Series because they are done really well, the courses are great and it's not that far away for those of us in Central Iowa.

I got home, took the dogs for a walk, fed them and made a pizza just in time for Zack and Tara to pull in from the Schubert Club Finals.  We shared our stories, had the pizza and fell fast asleep...