4/22/08

3 Week In-Season Training Block...

After a nice recovery week, I entered a 3 week in-season training block yesterday. The training schedule called for SMSP intervals -- 8 reps of 4 minutes on; 4 minutes off. So I decided to take advantage of the weather and finals week at Simpson which gave me the afternoon off. I did the intervals out on the Summerset Trail and the loop around Banner Pits instead of in my basement.

Total Time on the bike was 1 1/2 hours.
Total SMSP Interval Work Time was 32 minutes.

Today called for a 2 hour mountain bike skills ride, but the monsoon thunderstorm early this morning pretty much canceled that workout. So this morning, I hit the gym for a strength training workout with the weights. I did my usual strength training reps up to 85% of maximum weight on all the big leg movers and did a standard core workout and upper body workout. I did an hour ride in the late afternoon after some work at the office. Leadout intervals and one 12 minute MSP interval followed by two SMSP 1 minute intervals at the end of my rope.

Next up on the schedule is 2 consecutive days of easy/off. I'll probably get some spring yard work done and work on organizing the garage after the winter from hell!

4/20/08

Our Taxes at Work...

According to the Council on Children and Families, this is how the US Government is dividing up our income tax dollars this year...

For every $100 in income tax we pay:

$32 goes to defense
$19 to interest on debt
$15 to supplemental programs such as TANF, child tax credits and farm subsidies
$14 to health
$6 to education, employment and social services
$4 to transportation
$2 to justice
$2 to environment/natural resources
$2 to international affairs
$1 to community development
$1 to agriculture
$1 to science/technology/space
$1 to commerce and housing fund

Way too much going to defense thanks to a totally questionable war!
Way too much going to service debt - debt we didn't have 8 years ago!

Wouldn't it be nice to see our tax dollars going to more important areas that are lower down on the list from the top two items?

Speak up to your elected officials. This is the year to vote and change the improper fiscal priorities of the past 8 years. I do not want 51% of my hard earned dollars that I pay in income taxes to my government going to defense and debt service. That's just ridiculous.

In the meantime, $513 Billion to date for the Iraq war and counting.

4/13/08

IMBCS #1 Race Report: Sylvan Island Stampede

DNF!!!! Major torn sidewall breaks my heart...

I have not had to DNF a mountain bike race in three years (outside of Ingawanis when I lost my brakes, but it ended up counting since the race was halted for everyone). Today the odds caught up to me and it was my turn as I tore a huge, gigantic slit in the sidewall of my front Racing Ralph in the middle of the third lap (of 5 for Sport). The rocks were sharp and a plenty on this course. I had read on MTBR.com that the Racing Ralphs were not East Coast or Rocky Mountain friendly. Now I know - big time - they are not Sylvan Island friendly. That's probably the course with the most jagged objects we face in the IMBCS and this is only my 2nd sidewall tear since I have been mountain biking. I tore a sidewall on a rear XR during the Dakota 50 a few years ago. However, it was a smaller tear and I was able to repair it on the course and finish the race. Not my luck at Sylvan Island as the tear was beyond repair - on or off the course.

The weather turned out to be perfect for the race. Sunshine and in the 40's. I left at 7:30 this morning and made it to Sylvan Island by 10:30. When I saw that none of the beginner class racers finishing were covered in mud and their tires had no mud on them, I couldn't believe it. So I pulled the Dos Niner out and took a pre-ride lap which confirmed the course was in great racing shape. The crew had placed two temporary wooden slat bridges covered with shingles over the mud bog problem areas and the race course had a nice, new east coast style rocky and root filled section which was fun. Kudos to the host trail crew for getting this course ready for the race. It was literally in perfect shape, well marked and well run. They do it right over there in Moline.

I went back to the car and pulled out the Sugar 293 because the Nanoraptors would have been just fine on this course and that's what I rode last year. The Nanos did fine out in the Black Hills on some sharp rock, so I knew I could trust them. The Racing Ralphs were "untested" for me in this kind of rock, but dang are they fast. I debated which bike to ride in the parking lot and was warming up by taking turns on both of them. The Dos just seemed to slice and dice better - especially with the big fat 2.4 Racing Ralph up front. So I put the Sugar back in the car (big mistake in retrospect), got dressed, grabbed my GU and Gatorade and headed to the starting line.

As usual for this race, there were what looked to be 60 - 80 lined up in sport (including the women). I know 49 finished in sport men, but quite a few did not finish due to mechanicals or blown tires such as myself. The results don't list the DNF's in sport (they do in expert by the way), so I don't know what the total number of sport men were at the line. I was in about the 4th row and sprinted down the left side to put myself in the middle of the pack going into the singletrack. Log jam. Log jam. Log jam. Log jam. Those that had the legs to win the opening sprint were pulling away and the rest of us were tire to tire for the first lap. I was able to pick off about 6 - 8 people in the first lap and only 1 was able to pass me. I picked off another half dozen in lap two, but still felt like we were being held back and we - or rather, I needed to go faster. Quite a few were pulled over with mechanicals, flat tires and several that burned too many matches in the opening lap were fading. That was cool with me as my legs felt great and I was getting faster and stronger each lap. One guy in front of me went across one of the temporary bridges and climbed a short steep hill covered with rocks and "kaboom"! His Stan's tubeless rim let go of the tire and he lost his front tire just like that. Luckily, he was going up a hill and not down something.

I hit the hammer in lap three and started picking off two riders at at time. I was flying over the bumps with the Racing Ralphs and Dos soaking up everything. I was happy I had picked the Dos for this race. I got stuck behind a group of three and could not get around them. Snacked on a GU, got a drink and waited for an opening. Finally there was an opening and I called out and went by all three. My legs felt great and I wasn't even working that hard. I liked my position at this point in the middle of the race and was ready to take it up a notch or two for lap 4 and 5. When I passed one of the course marshalls he yelled out to me that I was in the top 20 according to his count, so I knew by what I saw up ahead of me that I could finish strong. I saw Kyle Williams just up ahead of me a couple hundred yards (we were neck and neck in several races last year) and Kyle finished 16th according to the results, so I guess I was on pace. After I flew by those three I was just about to get to the open part on the backside that leads to the final run to the finish line when I turned a corner that was filled with sharp, pointed rocks and RIP went my front tire.

End of race right then and there. No tube, sealant, tire boot or miracle could salvage that damage. Tire was trashed and gee - I wasn't carrying a spare tire in my back pocket. Imagine that...

Oh man. I wanted to cuss. I wanted to heave my bike in the weeds. Instead, I calmly picked it up and hiked to the finish line to DNF. Tough luck. I should have raced the Sugar or swapped wheelsets because I know the Nanoraptors can handle the rocks. The Ralph gave up the ghost a little too easily I thought. Truth be told, I could have torn any race tire, but I don't think I hit that patch of rocks any different than any other rocks out on the course. It just happened.

Two tanks of gas, a $25 entry fee, a new $55 front tire and I've got nothing to show for it in terms of IMBCS series points outside of the 50 points one collects for a DNF. Let's hope I finish enough of the rest of the races to not have to rely on that as counting for one of my races....

Okay, well I learned my lesson about the Racing Ralphs. No rock infested courses for them in the future. My legs and lungs were working great. I liked my position in the race at that moment in the 3rd lap and I was starting to make a move right when it all suddenly was over due to a nasty sidewall tear. All dressed up and nowhere to go...

RATS!!!!

The irony: my swag last year was a Stans tubeless kit and this year was a Park Tools patch kit

4/12/08

IMBCS #1 is a go...

Well, it is official. In spite of the rain, snow, rain and more rain - the Sylvan Island Stampede is a go according to Cam's latest posting or two on the IORCA Yahoo Group.

I sorta, kinda had hoped for a weather postponement mainly because I am eyeballing that 79 degree forecast for Wednesday which doesn't have me hankering to race tomorrow in the 30's to low 40's. Oh well, I should be good to go for tomorrow's mud fest. I bring a stack of towels to clean up with after the race.

I like riding my rigid Karate Monkey on that course, but since it has V brakes, I think I better go with one of the disc brake bikes tomorrow to avoid all the maintenance issues of the rim braking surface on those delicate American Classic wheels. Metal shards start collecting in the pads with the slightest bit of mud on those rims. Great for dry conditions, but tomorrow is not going to be like last year at Sylvan Island. The course has no climbing outside of a few short sections on that course, so a bike with momentum may be a good choice for the course. I may even race the Sugar 293 tomorrow. I'll bring it and the Dos and decide after a warm-up lap.

Now.....which tire? I'll bring a wheelset with something good in slop and something good in tacky to dry. That way I'm covered.

I did a MSP session in my training block on Thursday:

2 reps of 10 minutes on; 5 minutes off

2 reps of SMSP 1 minute on; 30 seconds recovery

Friday was a light upper body workout and core workout at the gym before work. Today I'm taking off outside of a light spin and a few leg openers this afternoon for tomorrow's race.

4/9/08

MSP'ing my way along the trail...

After drooling today following the smell of Arby's French Fries which a student brought into my office this afternoon, I had to get out on the paved trail today for my scheduled intervals before eating dinner and more rain hit.

It went like this....

20 minutes warm - up

3 leadout intervals of 20 seconds on; 10 seconds off

2 reps of 12 minutes on; 5 minutes off
1 rep of 16 minutes on; umpteen minutes off

3 reps of SMSP 1 minute on, 1 minute off

I don't know how to add all of that up, but I'm mainly concerned with the MSP's which totaled 40 minutes of work time.

I rode the Karate Monkey rigid with my new Salsa MOTO ACE™ FLAT BAR 17 degree bend I picked up on eBay. Love 'em - that's all I can say.

4/8/08

Daughter wins 100 Meter!! Dad drops weight...

My daughter had her 1st 7th/8th Grade track meet yesterday. And wow! Can she ever run!

Newton, Indian Hills, Marshalltown, Fort Dodge, Waukee, Johnston, Ankeny and Indianola girls went head to last night at the Simpson Track for a meet. My daughter had the fastest times during practice the past couple of weeks in the 100, 200 and the 2nd fastest time in the 800. So the coaches put her in the first heat of the 100 meter 7th grade girls and had her run the third leg of the 800 Medley and the 4 x 400. She had practiced using the starting block, but didn't use it at the meet. And she said she didn't jump off the start as best she could because she wanted to see what the other girls did first. What? Next time just run like the wind from the gun and worry about the other girls after you cross the finish line!!!

In spite of that, she turned on her afterburners and won her heat of the 100 meter. Her time was fastest in all 4 heats giving her first place in the 100. Too bad they didn't have her run the 200 as well, but more team points up for grabs in the Medley. Had she used her starting block and jumped off the line in the 100, the meet record was within her range. Oh well - there's always next week.

This whole afterburner sprint thing just kicked in this year. She's always been pretty good at endurance, but everyone noticed this year in soccer how fast Alexa had suddenly become since last fall soccer season (where she was fast, but not like the rocket she is now). And in track practice she has been consistently turning in fast times. It was nice to see her turn in a win in the 100. It's always hard being in the shadow of your older sibling in terms of athletics, but this brought her out of the shadows and even her brother admitted he was "proud" of her. Amen! Family harmony for a few hours!

Rain. Cold. Rain. Sun. Rain. Rain. Sun. And maybe a race on Sunday if the rain doesn't wash out Sylvan Island?

Weight Loss Update


Things have been going well in the "heading for my race weight" department. I've dropped about 10 pounds in the past month and am consistently clocking in every morning in the 184 - 185 lb. range. I'm headed for the 180 - 182 morning range and should get there by the end of the month if I stick to plan. I could challenge myself and set a new goal of sub 180, but I don't want to get crazy or out of my mind (or require a new wardrobe for work). However, if my current plan does lead me to sub 180 - I'll take it. I've still got a little pinch around the mid-section so if I lose that, and not muscle weight, it could be a cheap way to lighten up my bike. ;-)

Due today for training: easy spin and light weights

4/5/08

Psycowpath #1 Race Report: Maskenthine XC Classic

I made the 4 hour drive over to Stanton, Nebraska for the Pyscowpath season opener. Any driving in an easterly or westerly direction today was a lesson in futility due to the high winds blowing from the south. It was literally an isometric exercise for my forearms, biceps, hands and legs to hold the Element on the road in that wind. Man, it just wouldn't let up. I think my Element is about as aerodynamic as a Kybo with wheels chugging down the highway. ;-)

I got there about 11 a.m. and even found checking in at the registration table in the high winds was difficult with papers flying everywhere. I paid my $20 and got my T-Shirt, water bottle, banana and bottle of water. Even though temps were in the 60's, the wind kept one from overheating which made for perfect race weather. There was an excellent turnout with a large beginner and sport field in attendance. 114 racers total. It was good to see the parking lot full with so many racers there this year. Last summer's race at Maskenthine was not so well attended (56) with the extreme heat and it being so far out there in the middle of nowhere. I warmed up for about 30 minutes finding it difficult to keep the bike on the gravel road when riding east or west due to the strong winds out of the south. I was laughing at how I was getting blown around - even when I leaned the bike to the side into the wind. After some gravel road warming up, I hopped on the first section of the singletrack to check the mud in the bottoms and to see if I had the right air pressure to soak up the bumps.

This course ate my lunch last year on the Karma 1.9's at too high of a pressure. Because of that, I had planned all along to ride my full suspension Sugar 293 this time, but the rear shock didn't make it back from PUSH Industries in time for this weekend after being rebuilt and serviced. It was due for service and it was much cheaper to send it to PUSH for the factory tuning than it was to buy a new Fox Float rear shock. I sent it in on March 14th and was told it would be serviced within 9-11 business days, but it didn't happen as planned. After I sent a couple of emails, they finally got to it this week, but not in time for Saturday's race. PUSH sent it out via 2 day FedEx and the tracking number says it will arrive Monday. Not quite in time for today's race. Oh well, timing is everything in life.

I had the Dos Niner with the big race tires on it via a Racing Ralph 2.4 up front and 2.25 in the rear. I let a little air out of each, but being that I had never ridden these tires before, I didn't go crazy comfy on them without more low psi testing. They did feel better after I aired down into the low and mid 20's. In my little 1/2 lap during warm-up, I saw we would be facing mud, sponge like sections where the mud wasn't wet, but acted like a momentum zapping sponge, plenty of dry and in general - great conditions. The trail has matured since last summer snd is well on its way to being a favorite for the scenic views, open prairie, pine trees and the challenge of the wind.

I think we had about 23 in the sport open category at the start line. Once the results are posted I can edit that.

Edit: 9th place out of the 19 finishers in Sport Open. I was a bike length or so out of 7th/8th place and didn't even try to sprint to the line. My bad. It could have meant a few points for the series.

Some photos:

Hitting the Wind

KeepingPace

Grinding



Regardless, our group at the start line had a lot more racers in sport open than most of the Psycowpath races I did from last season. This was great to see and I hope the large numbers continue. My primary goal today was to treat this as an early season race as it fell right within my final training phase of MSP Intervals. Another goal of mine was to do the entire race seated. No out of saddle climbing as I was seeking a more efficient pedal stroke and to keep the heart rate lower. I've been doing most of my training seated so far this year in preparation for the race season and I wanted to try it out on the course. My legs felt good and I was looking forward to this race allowing me to do leadouts, sprints, SMSP's, MSP's and muscle endurance intervals all wrapped up in the package of a race to pull me out of any staleness that doing nothing but MSP intervals of 8, 10, 12, 15, 20 minutes for 3 weeks puts me. There is nothing like condition specific training and it was great to be outside riding on some dirt. I almost forgot what it felt like!!!!

I was in the front row at the start and was surprised that nobody really shot off up the gravel climb. We all kind of scaled the climb as a group and hit the inevitable slinky effect as we peeled off into the singletrack. One could have spun up easily and caught up with the entire group without having burned any matches in an off the line sprint. As I expected, when we hit the bottoms with all of the mud and technical sections our slinky kicked into stop and go, off the bike, and just a crowded mess as nobody wanted to ride through the mud and cross the creek. I rolled through on my Dos Niner, but it didn't make any difference as I could have walked the section just as fast along with everyone else. Things stayed in the slinky pretty much most of the first lap. I passed a few and was passed by a few, but I wasn't in any hurry to get going being that I was focused on the training aspect. Due to the wind from the south and all of the climbs on the backside going against the wind, there was little chance for recovery. I had to even pedal pretty hard going downhill when going against the wind it was so strong. It felt like about a 2 gear wind. That is, I had to shift to two and even three gears easier when going against the wind to avoid blowing up.

There were sections of sponge/mud on the backside in the pine trees that made it feel like your tires were flat. In fact, on this first lap I kept looking down at my rear tire to see if it was flat. Nope. It was the sponge. But that was only in a few sections and the crew had done a great job to throw as many pine needles over the sponge spots to give us a little help. The course was in great shape and I really liked it this year. Proper tires, air pressure and lack of 105-108 temps will tend to do that I guess. '-]

Lap two was just about as crowded as lap one. We weren't really spreading out all that much in the midpackers. I had a lot in reserve, but didn't see the point of picking up the pace on this lap as I felt content to sit in behind somebody's wheel and just keep a nice rhythm and cadence going. Lots of climbing on this course, but none of it is the steep kind like you would find at Boone, Lewis & Clarke, Ingawanis, etc... . Climbing on the section through the trees before heading to the backside I biffed it. I thought I would get smart and pick a line around a mud bog to avoid having my wheels sucked into the ground by the sponge. So I went to the very left edge of a section and darn it - I caught my handlebar on a tree. Of course I went right down in the pile of mud and let out with a four letter word. Nothing hurt but my pride, though. The mud was like landing on a foam mattress so my shoulder was fine and the rear derailleur and hanger were fine. There was a lady there taking pictures and she said: "You'll be happy to know I didn't take a picture of your fall." I said it would have made a good shot and rode on to catch back up with the group I was keeping pace with on this lap.

Lap three was spread out enough that we were riding in groups of 2 - 5 instead of 6 - 10. One guy kept passing me on the climbs using out of saddle mashing like a crazy man technnique and then pulling over on the side while I went around him after the climb was over. I'm not sure what was up with that technique, but he eventually faded and no longer was passing me on the climbs. I just kept my seated cadence going and was happy I hadn't been out of saddle all day. I followed the guy whose wheel I had been on for most of lap two all the way to the finish line. I didn't see the point in trying to sprint to the line ahead of him, but I did check my legs to see if I had any sprint in there after nearly 2 hours on the bike. There was a little bit there in the legs, but my cardio/aerobic isn't quite ready for it yet like it will be in a few weeks. I didn't cramp up. However, the weather was perfect and without mashing away out of the saddle, I think the seated cadence spinning kept my muscles fresh and in good shape.

All in all, my goals were met as I got to do a little bit of everything in terms of intervals at race speed. I held back a few times out on the course by deciding not to pass other riders and pick up my pace, but I felt like I was working pretty hard throughout. The wind just didn't allow one let up while heading south on the course. Actually, with the wind and the sponge like parts of the course due to mud - it made for an excellent MSP traning session. I have no idea where I finished. My guess is somewhere in the good ole midpackitis - or maybe even further back. I will have collected some sort of points for the series. I'll update with the results once they are posted.

Racing Ralphs are a keeper. Great tire to run tubeless as I felt no squirm with the lower psi. I will add a mix of intervals this week in my MSP training to keep me from getting stale so that the next race I can up my effort. It's time to bump it up a notch!

Sport Men Open Results

1 Jesse Bergman Arthur, IA
2 Paul Webb Bellevue, NE
3 Tobie Harrell Sioux Falls, SD
4 Monte Bonin Omaha, NE
5 Chad Williams Omaha, NE
6 Andrew Keffer Omaha, NE
7 Brian Logan Omaha, NE
8 Brandon Harpster Lincoln, NE
9 Bruce Brown Indianola, IA
10 Ben Blomberg Sioux Falls, SD
11 Oak Williams Lincoln, NE
12 Brad Blomberg Sioux Falls, SD
13 Chris Hepburg Lincoln, NE
14 Jared Carlson Eagle, NE
15 Ted Lechnowsky Omaha, NE
16 Mike Sweum Sioux City, IA
17 Joshua Dahlback Ralston, NE
18 Brandon Vorthmann
19 Randy Hampton La Vista, NE
Jason Ott Lincoln, NE DNF
Paul Eichler Omaha, NE DNF
Jeremy Eisenhauer Firth, NE DNF
Garrett Sawyer Hickman, NE DNF

I was a bike length behind the 7th and 8th finishers as I was in no hurry to rush the finish. Oh well, as I said earlier, this was a training race and I collected what series points I could.

4/4/08

Race #1 prep...

I just finished my morning workout to open up the legs for tomorrow's race. I rode in Zone 1 for 35 minutes and did 5 reps of 1 minute on; 2 minutes off at anaerobic training pace/power. Scheduled for today was a MSP Interval day of 30 minutes interval work, but I will use tomorrow's race as a substitute for today and follow it up on Sunday with a 2nd day of MSP Intervals. That simply moves my MSP phase off by a day, but my memory of the Maskenthine Lake XC course is one that would be difficult for me tomorrow if I had done my MSP training today.

I fixed my rear Racing Ralph last night. It just needed more shaking and more laying on the bucket to seal up the sidewalls. I rushed that step the other day with only about two rounds on each side of laying on the bucket. Last night I did about 5 rounds on each side and it sealed right up and held all the air overnight.

I will pack the car up tonight since I will be heading out about 7 am for the 4 hour drive to the Psycowpath race. I didn't get my Fox rear shock back from the repair shop in time to ride the full suspension tomorrow, so I'll have to tough it out on the Dos and dial in an air pressure that will help absorb some of the bump zapping that course offers. I need to check the Reba positive/negative air pressure and make sure it's at my usual preference before loading it up tonight.

Weather looks to be great for tomorrow with a prediction of 67-70 degrees at race time. That will be a heck of a lot better than the 105-108 heat index on that course last August that cooked my goose.

4/3/08

Dialing in my weight...

I've slowly managed to trim away some of the excess pounds I gained during all the weight lifting. I peaked at about a morning weight of 193.5 pounds but knew that the body eventually "feeds" on the muscle once the endurance training kicks in for the season. Sure enough, I've whittled off 6.5 of those pounds to date in a careful manner which includes maintenance weight lifting. I've still got another 6-7 pounds to go which should be hit in another 4-5 weeks or so. It's hard being a Wookie with all that weight we have to take up the hills due to our height.

It would be easy to flush out the system for a quick 5 pound drop by drinking lots of water, limiting sodium and eating a very low carb diet - but those would not be "fat" pounds loss, but simply a water weight loss and not put me in the best condition for racing. So, I continue on the slow path to whittle away a few more pounds. I think next year during the off season I will not let myself eat everything in sight during the weight lifting phase. Yeah, right.... '-)

I'm doing an hour in Zone 2 on the bike this morning before heading in for a full day of work (12 hours today). My legs enjoyed the previous 2 days of rest and recovery.

I'm having a problem with my rear Racing Ralph holding air tubeless. Some sort of a slow leak is going on which I will have to attend to this evening or tomorrow. It's not leaking enough to lose air in the course of an hour or two, but in a 12 - 24 hour period it's dropping too much. I think that calls for a remount and second attempt at getting a better seal. The front tire is golden, but I may have to use soap and water on the rear (I cheated and used sealant to paint the bead instead of soap and water).