5/31/08

No Race Means Weights and Road Bike...

I took an hour spin with my wife today on the road bikes to "see nature" and do an easy Zone 1 ride. Following that, I hit the maintenance weights for an hour to work the muscles that didn't get worked in today's canceled race.

3 sets of 10 reps each that included a circuit involving

Legs: hamstring curls, dead lifts, lunges, leg press
Upper Body: curls, lat pulls, chest press, inclined press, triceps
Core: crunches, back extensions

I got home and was immediately hit by a salesman who stopped by trying to sell me a case or two of Perfect Water. I took the free sample and listened to his Spiel, but I didn't pony up $47 for a 24 pack case. Good grief, gas is cheaper than that. Although I'm not sure drinking unleaded would be my hydration beverage of choice. Maybe that should be my new benchmark - "if it's not cheaper than gas, I won't drink it". Now you know why I drink Diet-Rite. I can get a little more than a gallon of that stuff in a 12 pack that costs me $2.66. I'm not up to paying $1.95 for one bottle of "Perfect Water". That's $15.60 a gallon for water. Thank goodness the city of Indianola doesn't charge me that much for my tap water per gallon...

Going to a pool and BBQ party tonight. I hope it's warm enough to swim...

5/30/08

Manawa gets the Axe!!!

Too much rain and flooding so says THOR. Lake Manawa got canceled for tomorrow and as usual, I didn't bother to check the news until after I had the entire Honda Element packed and ready to go for Saturday morning's drive over to Omaha. Actually, I checked the Nebraska Cycling site in the morning and there was no notice - so I packed up the Element as if things were still good to go.

That's 2x this year a Psycowpath has been postponed. I just hope they don't reschedule it on some weekend when we already have a IMBCS race on a Sunday. 2 consecutive races is too much for this aging guy...

I guess the Farmer's Market makes the list tomorrow along with some "honey-do list items".

I'd still rather be racing tomorrow as planned....

5/29/08

SMSP Tune-Up...

This critter does not lie:

C7i

I skipped my scheduled Wednesday interval session because I was too pooped still from the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival. So today I hit the SMSP interval session on the C7i because I can't hide when I am on that thing. Either I make the power or not as it reports instant feedback.

I did 2 sets of 4 reps of 4 minutes on; 4 minutes off with a 8 minute rest between sets. Total SMSP Interval Work Time was 32 minutes. I held my power through all, but I was in the pain bag on a few of them as I targeted a power level that took my heart rate right up where it needed to be for drooling and lactate production/clearance: 166 - 171 for me. I say pain bag, because it shows I've been dogging it a bit too much while out on the bike and not producing the kind of power I should be. The C7i told the truth.

After the "tune-up", I felt pretty good and mowed the lawn. I'll take tomorrow off and do an easy spin later in the day. Hopefully, the rain will not destroy Saturday's planned race at Lake Manawa, but the radar looks nasty over in the Omaha area at the moment. Lots of red and yellow (heavy rain) going on at the moment. And it's coming our way in central Iowa later tonight.

Off to a baseball game to watch junior...

5/27/08

Black Hills Fat Tire Festival and Podium...

I got the green light here at the home front to head out to Rapid City for the 2nd Annual Black Hills Fat Tire Festival May 23-26. Well, you can't turn down an offer from the wife like that! So I headed out to enjoy a few days of riding in the mountains as well as to compete in the XC race.

I drove out on Thursday and pretty much hit the monsoon rains in western South Dakota that continued all night on Thursday and tapered off to mist and light rain on Friday morning. 3+ inches fell in less than 24 hours. Another 2 inches fell Friday night. What a mess and this, according to the locals, was unheard off, record breaking, totally unexpected, blah, blah, blah... . Well, after spending all that money on gas - I wasn't about to give up. Nor were all the other 160+ riders that showed up for the festival.

Group rides went off as planned on Thursday and Friday as the Black Hills were in such need of rain that the water got soaked up pretty quickly. I pre-rode the XC race course on Friday afternoon once the rain had subsided. Organizers said that once past the opening climb fire road section that the singletrack was fine and dandy. I was the first one to pre-ride after the rain and the organizers were right. The opening climb on the fire road was mud pie city. Within the first 200 yards it was a total drivetrain wrecker. My 700 gram Fire XC Pros quickly became 4000 gram monster truck tires. Chainsuck. Clogged chain and the mud was collecting on the seat stays by the tire. Mud everywhere was to be expected. I forged the Sugar 293 on as I was also told Saturday morning's XC race would not be canceled. So I figured I better dial in the course with the mud as it was bound to be just as muddy on Saturday morning. Once I got to the singletrack, things improved. But by then, my drivetrain was beyond operating normally and I had to talk it through the course and use whatever rings and cogs that the drivetrain would allow me to use.

This was one hell of a tough course. It opened with a 4 mile climb. Yes - 4 miles of going up, and up, and up and just when you thought it was steep, there was a flagged out climb near what I thought was the top that I said to myself "you gotta be kiddin' me". I had to walk that section as I don't think it was doable at the end of climbing 4 miles even with a 20T/34T combination. I completed the first lap and came back down to the starting line area where I sank up to my hubs in mud on the fire road. Hmmmm.....it took $6 in quarters at the car wash to recognize my bike again. I headed out in the afternoon to ride Storm Mountain under much better conditions. In fact, I only saw about 2 muddy spots in the 10 miles of trail I rode.

I debated whether or not to do the race after those conditions on a very difficult course, but decided to stick with my plans. So I carbed up and got all my gear ready for the 8 am check-in at the registration table on Saturday morning. While at Starbucks getting a Venti cup of java, another racer told me that the race had been canceled and rescheduled for Sunday morning. Well, that was somewhat good news as my legs and lungs were trying to recover from Friday's efforts during the pre-ride and the Storm Mountain loop.

I hooked up with Tim and Tim from Minnesota at the bagel shop and decided to meet them at Storm Mountain for a loop at 1:30 pm. I needed some higher altitude riding to educate my body on the pain it was about to go through during the race at these heights. We had a great ride and I took the Dos Niner with the Nanoraptors on this ride. It proved to be the perfect ticket for the conditions and I decided to race it on Sunday even though I would miss having a granny ring for those steep, steep sections of the XC course. The Sugar was overkill with the Fire XC Pros for the XC course as it was not littered with roots and big bumps. Just a lot of very narrow, technical singletrack that climbed forever.

Sunday morning I was up at 6 am downing my Grape Nuts, fruit and coffee. The sun was shining and the temps were upper 60's, low 70's - PERFECT!!!

Race day weather had us all smiling in the parking lot...

Fat Tire Festival HQ Parking

I warmed up and did a pre-ride of the starting 1/2 mile. It was still muddy, but there were some lines I could take to get through the opening section with my drivetrain still intact. I lined up in the back for the mass start with 50+ racers and really had nothing to lose, so I was pretty relaxed. With an opening climb of 4 miles and plenty of places to pass in the first 1 1/2 miles, I was in no hurry to blow off at the gun.

On the first two fire road sections, I picked my lines and passed about 20 or so. Then there was a big gradual climb in an open meadow that was very deceptive as it didn't look steep, but it never let up. I was drooling and on the edge already and we hadn't even hit the big climb stuff. I passed about three more and settled in behind a guy for the steep climbs. Lots of switchbacks and technical climbing through rocks and narrow (6 - 8 inch wide singletrack). One guy lost his balance after a switchback and rolled down the side of the hill. He seemed okay as we all asked him. Finally, after what seemed like 20 - 25 minutes, we neared the top of the climb and I passed the two riders in front of me that I had followed up the climb. I grabbed a glass of water from one of the volunteers. Whoops! My epiglottis got confused as to whether I was sucking air at that altitude or water. Choke. Cough. I got passed by the two racers I had just passed 200 yards earlier as I got everything back to normal in my throat. They were locals and knew the trail, so I latched on to their wheels for the big descent. Lots of fish-tailing with the Nanoraptors and the guy in the lead of our group of three started to pull away as the rider in front of me was being pretty cautious. There was no where to pass, so I had to stay content. At the bottom of the descent and rounding the starting line, I passed the rider and heard a volunteer tell me I was in 5th place. Cool.

200 yards later 3th and 4th were pulled over to the side. One was fixing a flat, the other was just standing there. When I went by, he hopped back on his back and latched on to my wheel for the 4 mile climb. I was sitting in 3rd and the guy in front of me was now only 20 feet in front of me. I had followed him up on the 1st climb to know I could outclimb him, but he was lightening fast on the descent. The 2nd lap had a different descent that I had not been able to pre-ride, so I was stuck in me vs. the local if it came down to it at that point. The first place rider was out of reach as we saw him way up the hill on the 4 mile climb. So the battle was now for 2nd, 3rd and 4th. About 1/2 way up the 4 mile climb, we opened up a big gap on the guy behind me in 4th place. I was about 20 feet behind and after a switchback, I didn't quite negotiate the Dos Niner over a jagged rock and had to unclip to keep from falling down the cliff. It wasn't easy getting clipped back in and going again, but I probably lost about 10 seconds right there as the guy in front of me opened up a gap. I got going again and left nothing in the tank to finish out the climb. Volunteers at the top directed us to turn for the finishing descent on the trail I hadn't seen. They told me I was in 3rd place and that 2nd place was within reach. It was downhill from here and what a technical and fast downhill it was. This was a 3 mile descent on the Super-D race course. Wow! Was it a gas, but the local guy in front of me had the edge as he knew the course. I did pretty well through it and only lost my line one time which had me pause for a few more seconds.

I finally flew out of the woods and saw the turn for the finish line. It was about a 600 - 700 yard open grass flat sprint to the finish line. He had me by about 200 yards and I mashed it into the big ring, got out of saddle and had at the sprint. Whoops! Way too early for such a sprint effort. He didn't know I was that close behind him, but I shot my wad and had to recover a little bit. I had nothing left in the tank and at the end, had to settle for crossing the line 12 seconds behind him for 3rd place overall, and 1st place in my age category.

So I made the podium!!! Yippie! I got a medal and a nice bottle of wine as my prize. Actually, it was more than a nice bottle of wine. It was a bottle of the 2007 Seyval Blanc from Prairie Berry that got best of show and a double gold medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. You can't even buy the stuff it is that rare. So all in all, it was an excellent prize!!!!

Post race:

PostRace#2

Finish line area with a grandstand! How cool is that?

XC Finish Line

The starting line is behind those trees and the opening fire road climb went up through the side hill of those rocks.

Starting Line Climb

Post race, I took a demo loop on the Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29"er. The usual demo vans and gear from Specialized, Trek, Fisher, Giant, Kona, etc... were there...

Fat Tire Festival HQ Tents

I grabbed some lunch and decided to do one of the group rides on Sunday afternoon. There were shuttle vans with our tour guides that left the HQ every 1/2 hour that took loads of us up into the Black Hills for various rides. Each ride was either $10 or $20 for the shuttle and tour guide. I chose to go on a portion of the Centennial Trail with Tim and Tim from Minnesota along with a van full. Here are some shots from that trip...

Loading up:

Centennial Trail Shuttle

Grooving some sweet singletrack while trying to take a picture (not recommended!!):

Tim Climbing

Weather was perfect and we were all smiling:

Daddy-O-Smiling

Break time and shooting the shit:

Group Rest

We headed back to HQ in time for the BBQ and Awards Ceremony. I got my medal and wine. The Fat Tire Festival continued on Memorial Day, but my legs were shot after 3 straight days of riding and racing at that altitude. So I got up early on Monday morning and drove back to Iowa in time for Brats with the family on the deck.

The trip out was totally worth it and I had a blast. It's hard to participate in all of the events, but there are group rides all over the Black Hills (leave every 1/2 hour from HQ), there was a hill climb, a Super-D downhill race, the XC race, movies at night (mountain biking movies), a social on Friday night, etc... and plenty of things to see and do in Rapid City and the Black Hills. If you are going to attend a mountain biking festival, what better way to do it than to attend one that is actually in the mountains? Unbelievable riding, scenery and terrain for all levels in the Black Hills. The XC race course was the most challenging I have ever raced. That Cowboy Hill 4 mile climb is not to be missed and the 3 mile descent on the Super-D race course still has me biting my nails 2 days later!!!

I'm going to put next year's festival on my calendar and start working on the wife to get the green light so I can go again. ;-)

5/18/08

This is over...

....recovery week, that is. It was supposed to go like this:

RecoveryWeek

I managed to take Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday totally off. I was busy at work doing 12 hour days with the opera workshop. Thursday I got in an hour in Zone 2 with 6 SMSP 1 minute on; 1 minute off intervals and some leadout intervals of 15 seconds in duration. Then I hit the upper body weights until I was pooped. I took Friday and Saturday totally off as well, but did a bunch of yard work by planting a tree, weeding, mowing, etc... .

Today, I took the Karate Monkey out for 1 hour and 15 minutes of fun. MSP interval speed for 20 minutes, then I rode the Riverside Trail at Banner Pits a few times to rail the Monkey in the tight singletrack. CITA had been out and cleared the big fallen trees and limbs from the December ice storm. I would have done it myself if I owned a chainsaw, but I don't. Trails were fast and fun. The weeds are already approaching knee to waist height, so it's a fun visual to be flying through the Riverside Trail right now. Hopefully tomorrow's rain will be short and sweet so the trails don't become muddy. After Riverside, I cruised the 11 miles back to Indianola at MSP pace and was about to hit the gym for some weights when I realized that I could do the weights tomorrow since rain is predicted. So I went home for Mexican food.

I have a Simpson College Faculty meeting on Monday morning - then it's summer vacation time (for the most part) for me. I think I'll sleep in on Tuesday if the wife and dogs will allow it. I've got a huge project list for the summer, so I'll be hitting that hard ASAP.

My recovery week allowed me to do a little more trimming on my Sugar. She's at 25.41 lbs. right now:

P1010051

At least that's what the meat hook is saying...

Crows

Here's once sucker that helped me get there as I went from my XT cassette that weighs 294 grams to the Ti Cassette at 187 grams:

Nino'sTiCassette

I also picked up a pair of new X.0 shifters on eBay that came off of a new Superfly as the owner wanted a full XTR build...

P1010065

The bike was cleaned up, lubed and ready to roll today for the Psycowpath 6 Hour Marathon at Platte River State Park, but my daughter had her final soccer game for the season. It wasn't fair for me to take off for the day - especially since I am heading out to the Black Hills later this week to visit my Dad and attend the Fat Tire Festival. So I stayed home, did some house cleaning, gardening and Sunday shopping trip to Costco for the week's supplies. Wise move, too, as staying home once again probably saved my marriage. ;-)

Here's the Sugar looking svelte at the new weight...

P1010059

P1010058

If money grew on trees, with a few mouseclicks I would order the parts to get it down to 24 pounds which is almost unheard of for a XL sized full suspension 29"er. I know Hope Mono Mini Pros, SRAM Twist X.0 shifters, a new X.0 rear derailleur, an Extralite stem, seatpost clamp, headset and skewers all added together would cut another 500 grams and get me down to 24.3 pounds. However, that shaving of 1.1 pounds would cost at least $1200 to accomplish. Much cheaper if I just lose another 1.1 pounds or more from my midsection. I am down to 177 by the way with my target area in the 172 - 175 area. The Mexican food did not help this evening, so I'll have to work hard at the gym tomorrow and get a good hour or more of Zone 1 riding in after the faculty meeting.

5/11/08

Daughter captures 2nd at State in the 100 meter...

I was fortunate to have been able to attend the State Track Meet for Middle School girls in Ankeny on May 3. My daughter qualified in the 100 meter dash and 4 x 200 Medley. During the regular season, she won the 100 Meter several times, got 2nd a pair of times, a 3rd and even a 4th. Her 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 Medley teams had captured a lot of 1st places at various meets.

Alexa ran a personal best in the prelim round at the State Meet where they began with 72 7th Grade girls running 9 heats of 8 runners. Although she was seeded 7th out of the 72 going into the prelimaries, she managed to have the 3rd best time in the prelimary round in the morning at the State Meet.

Here she is on her way to 3rd in the prelimary round...

100 Meter Preliminaries at State

In the afternoon, they passed on 16 of the 72 girls to the final round in the 100 Meter Dash. Alexa ran her best and grabbed 2nd Place out of the 16 finalists!!! Way to go, girl. Here she is smiling after the finals when I told her she came in 2nd...

Alexa at State

Her 4 x 200 didn't do their very best and grabbed 3rd Place at State. All in all, a great end to a wonderful track season for my 7th Grade Sprinting Daughter.

5/5/08

IMBCS #2 Race Report...

I kept my fingers crossed to see if I could finish an IMBCS race this year without tearing a tire or having a mechanical. It must have worked as made it to the end without any mishaps. I rolled in across the finish line in 6th place for Sport Open.

The weather was perfect and the guys had done a great job of laying out a fun XC course that presented some nice challenges of roots, off camber trail, sand, one super steep short section with a log crossing at the top, plenty of climbing and speed. My mental game beat me as my physical was fine. I just need to push harder sooner and often rather than settling in behind a rider because I happen to "like" their pace and listen to a lax mental game. It was hard to see ahead on the course to see if there was a gap worthy of closing up to another rider, so my mental game went slack and allowed me to kind of get stuck on auto a few too many times when I could have been emptying the fuel tank. I opened it up on the final gravel climb and push into the finish line and told myself I should have been pushing that kind of pace more often earlier in the race.

Well, that proves there is always something to work on for each individual racer. That's what keeps us coming back for more. In spite of that, I was happy how my bike handling went yesterday (no falls) and my equipment was in tip-top shape. I ran the lightweight semi-click Crows from NoTubes in a tubeless configuration on my American Classic wheels to get my boat anchor Sugar 293 down to 26 pounds. I've got all the goodies in my garage to make this bike about 25.5 lbs which is not too shabby for an XL sized full suspension 29"er. Regardless, a 1/2 lb or 1 lb difference isn't going to make or break my engine. I still need to turn the cranks over and deliver the power.

At the start we all scrambled up the opening climb to arrive at singletrack entrance and do the hurry up and wait routine. It took a good portion of the first lap to get us strung out enough that some passing could begin. I loved the switchback series of climbs. Especially with the tacky conditions. It gave the legs a nice "gotcha" reminder as we powered up those climbs. That's good prep for the Boone course. I got behind a SS'er and pretty much rode lap 2 and lap 3 behind him. From the result times, it looks like I must have been following Nick Soboenski. We admitted to each other that neither of us had done a pre-ride of the loop, but we had pretty similar paces and although Nick asked me if I wanted by a couple of times, I just hung out behind him. I should have taken him up on the first offer because my mind was in a lull and needed to get pushed out of it. Funny how that works when your are at or near your lactate threshold.

It was pretty much an uneventful race for me in terms of close calls or excitement. It was pretty much me following Nick for 2/3's of the race. I did hop off and walk the rock garden each lap simply because with my Crows and tubeless - I didn't want a DNF like I had at Sylvan from tearing a sidewall on the rocks. Had it not been a race, I would have given 'em a go to see if NoTubes Crows were up for the challenge.

I rolled the full suspension sled and sat on the saddle for all but the last gravel climb...

SugarPostIngawanis

The semi-slicks did fine by me and didn't wash out thanks to staying seated, weighting the front in turns and running a nice mid 20's psi...

CrowPostRace

The Crows get dicey at Boone when it is dry, so they are not a "works on all courses and conditions" type of a tire.

It was nice to see everyone out of hybernation and enjoying the event. I think Jeremy Bidwell said there were a total of 65 racers. It was a well run event and we couldn't have asked for a nicer day weather wise for an XC race.

5/2/08

All dressed up and nowhere to go....

I did my Zone 2 and SMSP interval prep for tomorrow's Psycowpath race and this just in....

Swanson MTB Postponed to Sunday May 4
Psycowpath Series
Written by Ryan Feagan
Friday, 02 May 2008

At 7pm Friday May 2, THOR and race volunteers completed an assessment of trail conditions. While a muddy race *might* be possible Saturday, a dry race Sunday is way more fun. Current trail conditions are damp enough such that any more rain would make the Saturday race miserable. The race has been postponed to Sunday May 4: Beginner races will start at NOON, Sport & Expert races will start at 2pm.

Rest assured that the course is draining water quite quickly, and even if we get more rain Saturday early morning, conditions should be great by Sunday.


Now I have to choose which race to ride on Sunday, the Psycowpath or the IMBCS at Ingawanis....

Race Ready...

Weather is toying with us again thanks to the rain, but hopefully the Psycowpath and IMBCS races can go off without a hitch this weekend.

I just finished the 2nd week of my 3 week in-season block and will do about an hour in Zone 2 with 5 reps of SMSP intervals today to prime the legs for Saturday and Sunday's race. My weight has whittled down to 180 with all the training and watching my diet. All I need is for my bike to not have a mechanical during the race!!! Actually, my bottom bracket of the Sugar 293 blew out on Wednesday. I got about 5 years out of that Octalink BB which is not too shabby. I had 2 new ones in the parts bin drawer, so I installed a new one Wednesday night and everything is back in working order. Keeping my fingers crossed with regard to tires...

It should be a nice challenge to do back to back XC races this weekend. Ha! They're still calling Swanson a "flat" course. ;-) I've got my root eating full suspension dialed in to handle the roots and the climbing. I'm not sure what bike and tires I'll run at Ingawanis. I'm waiting to get more weather reports and see how much rain falls today and tomorrow first.

Off to the tulip festival in Pella this afternoon with my wife after work.