6/29/08

Weekend of trail maintenance...

My wife and I - along with the dogs - spent several hours working one of the backwoods sections at Lake Ahquabi yesterday. Between the ice storm, high winds damage, water run off and honeysuckle removal, the trail was a total mess. Armed with rakes, clippers and gloves we had at it. We ran out of steam after about 3 hours and headed back into town for lunch. However, we managed to clean a large portion of that loop.

I went back out in the afternoon by myself to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and got a good chunk of the loop coming off the stair climb cleaned and raked. There are so many trees, limbs and debris to remove that the going is slow in these backwoods sections. One of the rake handles gave up the ghost which forced me to stop my work at about 5:30 pm. I was tired by that point, so I didn't mind.

My wife and kids are coming today so we can finish that one particular backwoods loop. I don't think it has been raked or maintained in years, so it is really looking nice (and fast!!!!). Once we finish that loop, we'll start in on the other major backwoods loop that needs just as much tender loving care. After that is done, the full race loop can finally be ridden at Lake Ahquabi for the first time this year.

6/22/08

Psycowpath #4 Ponca's Revenge State Championship Race Report...

Yesterday was the Nebraska State Championship XC Mountain Bike Race at Ponca State Park in Nebraska. I had never been to Ponca before, but was looking forward to it from the reviews I had read online. It didn't sound like too bumpy of a course, so I took the Dos Niner for the race which turned out to be just fine.

I carpooled over in the Element with Cam Kirkpatrick and our bikes. We had a nice visit up and back as 7 hours total travel time in the car allows for that. I really enjoyed getting to know him a little better and discussing our various career paths. Cam has a real inner peace and discipline to be admired. But what really struck me was how thankful he is with life and the things he has done. Not only that, but he takes time to smell the flowers. Anyway, I enjoyed the visit with Cam.

We rolled into Ponca State Park about 10 am. The weather was perfect and seemed to be in the 80 - 83 degree range with a slight breeze to keep us cool. Ponca State Park is a beautiful area in rolling hills overlooking the Missouri River. The park looked immaculate and the trail system was sweet. The Sport Open class was slated to do 3 laps so I did a pre-ride lap about 11 am to check out the course. It looked to be about a 30 minute lap or so for my abilities, so I figured on an hour and a half race time. There was plenty of climbing and I was worried by the third lap that without a granny I would be grunting a climb or two with my 2 x 9 (29/42T) Duo chainrings. Not a problem as I decided I would just get out of the saddle and power up what I needed to by the end of the race as the pain set in of extended race effort.

The turnout has been nearly record breaking for the Psycowpath XC Race Series up to this point in the season. However, not as many showed up for Ponca's Revenge. Distance? Date? Location? Course difficulty? Who knows? Instead of 20 - 25 lining up for Sport Open, we only had 12 line up. I guess that surprised me since it was the State Championship. Last year at Swanson there was a larger number who turned out for most of the categories at the State Championship. Again, maybe that was because Swanson is in the Omaha area and Ponca is up by Sioux City. Regardless, they had each group (Expert, Expert Masters, Singlespeed, Sport Open, Sport 35+, Sport 45+, etc...) starting 30 seconds apart. We got the whistle and hit the opening pavement climb. I hung with the group and went into the singletrack in 5th position.

Opening gun...

OffWeGo

We didn't get any log jams which was nice, but the passing started once we hit the first series of climbs. The speedsters (and eventual winners) from the 35+ and 45+ Sport categories made their move on this series of climbs and I quickly lost count of who was in my group or where I sat. It didn't matter because by the end of the 1st lap, I was totally on my own the rest of the race.

Cruising down the chute...

TheChute

Nobody behind me or in front of me for the next 2 laps until Cam Kirkpatrick and Kent McNeil came whizzing by in their dogfight for top spot in Expert. All those who have ever been passed by these guys can relate to the feeling of pumping along at maximum or near maximum wattage and heart rate only to watch them blow by you and on up the trail at a lower heart rate and pumping out much more wattage. Ah....genetics. ;-) However, I have to admit it is really exciting to see such talent perform and realize how special it is. Cam was the eventual Expert winner coming off his best finish ever in a WORS event the prior week. He's having the season of his riding career this year and it is fun to witness.

Flying down a descent somewhere out on the course...

FlyingDown

I made the final climb of lap three standing and grinding my 29T ring to get across the finish line in 1:29 which was about what I expected based on the pre-ride lap.

Grinding the final climb to the finish line...

GrindingUp

No woulda, shoulda, coulda's for this race. It was totally me against myself and my training. It felt like I ran out of gas on the third lap which surprised me since I felt so strong in lap 1 and thought I had enough in reserve for the 3 laps. I just didn't feel like I had the power to grind out the climbs in lap 3 as well as I did in lap 1 and 2. Maybe I did and it was just mental exhaustion because I was using the same gear on each lap and cleaned all the climbs. Who knows? End result: 6th place - same as last year's Nebraska State Championship. The old midpackitis of 6th out of 12. 5 full minutes between myself and the guy who finished in front of me which tells me I've got plenty of room for improvement. My legs feel today like I did some major squats, leg presses, lunges, and dead lifts yesterday. I guess that tells me what the climbing was like. I'm spent.

I had to lay down in the shade on the grass in my MOB kit breathing hard for a few minutes post race to calm down the heart rate to a point there were no cardiologists flying overhead (or were those buzzards). I was pooped for sure, but I have no regrets.

Tom Winfield took all of these photos and he caught me laying in the grass trying to figure out what my name was following the effort...

PostRaceExhaustion

I chowed down on a bagel and drank some recovery drink as I chatted with some of the sport racers as we shared stories of the climbs and effort we just went through. All in all, everyone had big smiles on their faces because this was a great course and it is fun to test your condition on such a course. I only saw one mechanical out on the course (a racer lost some chainring bolts), but I talked to him after the race and he was able to finish the race by just using a 1 x 9.

Hats off to Sioux City Velo and Jay Chesterman for throwing down a great event. Fun was had by all and I'll be back to ride at Ponca again.

Photos coming...

6/18/08

Lake Ahquabi coming back..

I spent 4 hours doing some trail work out at Lake Ahquabi yesterday. The DNR was out with their chainsaws finishing up removing all of the fallen trees while I was mostly raking the trail to get rid of the rear derailleur destroyers and picking up the smaller limbs and branches. I want this race to be a super fast challenge and there is just way too much debris all over the trail at this point. But it is getting better day by day as I chip away at the fallen limbs, branches and all the small sticks and twigs that the water has washed onto the trail. All of the roots and ruts will make it a more challenging mountain bike race when picking lines, but it will still be a very fast race.

There is still a lot of work to be done to get it primed and ready for the August 10th race, but I now am confident it will be in good shape. Most of the tire damage from the big equipment that was used to remove all of the Honeysuckles has been either filled in by the DNR with new dirt or was eroded by the amount of rain as mother nature seeks to smooth things out on the trail. There are a lot of new ruts and exposed roots from all the rain and runoff this year, but all in all, the trail is bouncing back into riding shape. I wouldn't recommend it yet due to the mud and amount of debris on the trial, but it will be ready very soon. There is still a 30+ foot section mud bog that will take several weeks to dry out. It's impassable at the moment - either on foot or on the bike.

I'll bring my camera along to start taking some photos to show various sections of the trail and show the things I'm working on to get it ready for August. The two storms that passed through Lake Ahquabi last week with the tornado warnings and high winds blew a lot of stuff down out in the woods. Outside from that, with the removal of the Honeysuckles and the plush growth due to all the rain - it is absolutely beautiful out at Lake Ahquabi this year.

6/15/08

Recovery Week is Over

I'm doing in-season 3 week training blocks with a week of recovery between each block. Today is my final day of a 7 day recovery week which went like this:

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: 1 Hour in Zone 2
Thursday: 6 reps of 1 minute on; 1 minute off SMSP Intervals and then 1 Hour in Zone 2
Friday: Off
Saturday: 1 Hour in Zone 2 and 3 sets of upper body weights 10 reps on each lift
Sunday: Off

Up this week is preparation for Saturday's race: Psycowpath #4 - Ponca's Revenge. The weather looks good all week long which should help dry some trails out for off road riding.

6/14/08

Worst Disaster in Iowa - EVER!!!!

Worse than 1993. Worse than 1851. Yup - it's in the record books as the worst mess in Iowa ever. Hmmmmmm...global warming? If so, it is going to be chalking up a lot of "worst evers" going forward if this year has been any indication. Odd droughts in some areas of the country and odd amounts of storms and rainfall in others. It wouldn't surprise me at all if climate change continues to cause changes in the coming years with the weather and the migration of insects/animals not native to the area.

I have several students from the Cedar Falls area and certainly hope they are enduring the devastation in their home town. I hope their homes are out of the flooded areas and their families are safe and sound.

Daughter Update: She was released from Blank Children's Hospital this afternoon and is home resting following yesterday's surgery. Come to find out, there is a family history on my wife's side of appendicitis. So, I guess it was "in the genes" for Alexa to end up in the hospital yesterday. Her color is looking better, she is laughing and she is hungry - all good signs she is on the mend.

6/13/08

13th Birthday on Friday the 13th...

My daughter turned into a teenager today as she celebrated her 13th birthday on Friday, the 13th.

Is anybody superstitious about that date? Or does anyone think it is unlucky? Or why was a 1993 study published in the British Medical Journal provocatively titled, "Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?" There are even those who have Paraskevidekatriaphobia - fear of Friday the 13th. It may be the most widespread superstition in the United States. Some people won't go to work on Friday the 13th. Some won't eat in restaurants. Many wouldn't even think of setting a wedding on the date.

Guess what happened to my daughter on Friday the 13th? This was the day she was supposed to be celebrating her 13th birthday with a big party planned for 5 pm, but it was not to be.

She woke up with terrible abdominal pains this morning and had to be rushed to Des Moines via ambulance where she ended up having her appendix removed due to acute appendicitis.

Now what are the odds of that? You turn 13 on Friday the 13th and end up spending the day (and the night of the 13th) in the hospital. Why not the 12th? Or the 14th? Hmmmm.....all the Paraskevidekatriaphobics — people afflicted with the morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th - are shaking their heads collectively saying "you see, it is an unlucky day". What are the odds....

Well, whatever it is or was - thank goodness my daughter detected the pain early and we acted upon it ASAP. The surgery went well and she is resting comfortably this evening at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. We will "reschedule" her birthday party for another day and try to make the rest of her teenage days much better than the first day of teenhood turned out to be.

6/12/08

Yes, we're okay...

We've been receiving a high volume of phone calls from concerned friends and family members since Iowa is in the news with the flooding. It's nice to know that everyone is concerned, but just in case you see this blog and are wondering...

To all: Yes, we are okay.

Indianola is not flooding as it sits high enough out of any flood plain. And our house sits on the absolute highest point in Indianola. If flood water reached us at our height, Noah's Ark better be ready to go as millions of homes would be under water. ;-)

Six miles north of us is about as close as any flood waters get at the Middle River. No tornado has been closer than 4-5 miles this year and we are going about our normal daily business of summer gardening, lawn work, baseball, bike riding, dog walking, house painting, etc... . So no need to worry about us at the moment. But thanks for the concern.

However, there are thousands and thousands in Iowa that do deserve the concern. Our thoughts and prayers are with those that have been hit by a tornado or by flooding. It's been since 1993 that the weather was this bad in Iowa with this severity of flooding.

Good News: After tonight, it looks like a week of mostly sunshine and very little rain is in the forecast.

6/10/08

Deprived of sleep...

Okay. I've lost count of how many nights in a row the big storm has rolled in and kept me awake. Last night was about 11:30 or 12:00 and I was fighting to stay awake during Letterman and Conan to watch the radar. I finally dozed off and BOOM!!! it sounded like the thunder was directly over my head by about 10 feet. Another dump of rain and high winds to blow everything to heck. That's about 4 or 5 nights this week with a maximum of 5 or maybe 6 hours of sleep. Not good for this tired old body, so I skipped my race simulation effort and went straight into a recovery week.

More storms headed our way Wednesday/Thursday evenings. Yippie!

Flooding is very bad and things don't look good for the next few days as rivers crest and more rain hits. I haven't been out to Lake Ahquabi this week, but with all the rain and flooding down in the Banner Pits area - it wouldn't surprise me to see a cancel coming up for the end of the month race. The Middle River has just swamped the area. Maybe Lake Ahquabi has time to dry out before August 10th and allow some trail work to be done.

Gee, who needed to train for this season with all the terrible flooding and rain going on....?

6/9/08

The Blare of the Tornado Siren...

We got the siren not once, but twice yesterday making the weekend finish with some drama. Rotation at Lake Ahquabi caused the 2nd siren, while more rotation just east of town at Milo caused the 1st. Like troopers, we went to the basement to watch it unfold on the television. The Tornado Warning was lifted at 6 pm and we emerged from the basement for ribs.

Gobs and gobs of rain. Each day tries to top the previous day in the amount of rain, but yesterday was the most we've had thus far. I fear the flooding this is causing is not going to be going away anytime soon. More rain is scheduled for today.

I did upper body weights yesterday followed by an hour on the exercise bike with 5 reps of 1:1 SMSP seated intervals. I had wanted to do a race effort simulation ride, but it was raining outside all day. I'll see if I can do a race effort ride today before kicking into a recovery week. The Summerset Trail is closed in the lowlands due to all the flooding down at Banner. I'll just ride the first 1/2 over and over to get the effort in the books.

6/7/08

Tornado Sirens, Rain, Rain, and more Rain...

Looks like we are under tornado watch yet again tonight. Tornado sirens have blasted us awake twice this week. Who knows if tonight will be the third siren barrage or not. I do know the county is under water so I don't know how the Banner Pits trail day will go tomorrow. The parking lot was under water yesterday as the Middle River is way over the banks and flooding the area. Hopefully it won't rain too much tonight - even better not at all. Baseball games were canceled on Thursday and Friday due to the fields being too wet at noon to play the double headers.

I took yesterday off and did a easy spin today along with a ton of yard work, gardening, painting, cleaning and summer chores. I forgot sun block and a shirt today, so my back is paying for it right now as I got royally toasted in the hot, humid day. I've got a lot of painting left to do, so I will lather up tomorrow.

Weather permitting tomorrow, I'll do a race effort simulation before taking a recovery week. I think I'll lift weights again tomorrow after the ride to totally trash myself so that my recovery week rebuilds and strengthens.

Scale said 178 this morning, so I'm holding the 177-180 area pretty well. It would be nice to break through to 175, but I'm in the "rut" at the moment. Probably won't happen this weekend as tonight is Mexican Fiesta night and Sunday night is rib night at our house (with guests coming over to join us).

Stay away tornado and rain...

6/5/08

Rain, baseball, in-season training, weights...

Uggggh! Rain. Hail. Tornado warnings and watches. I always love May/June in Iowa for this - not. Lots of flooding in the area and tonight's storm system ought to set everything over the top. Banner Pits looks pretty flooded today and should get worse over night. That whole area is turning into a lake and a raging river. I had to turn around today on my training ride as the Summerset Trail was closed beyond Banner Pits towards Carlisle. It's a lake now.

We had pebble and marble size hail last night as the storm blew through. We ended up with 2.89 inches of rain in Indianola. More rain coming tonight. Due to last night's rain, my son's double header with Johnston was canceled today. Tomorrow's double header with Des Moines Lincoln is not looking much better if it rains tonight. It's just too difficult to get the field ready for a 12 noon game without sunshine, drying time and a field crew working the field. They won both games of their double header against Urbandale on Wednesday, so they stand 3-0 at the moment.

I did manage to get in my 4 reps of 8 minutes on; 4 minutes off MSP intervals on the bike today. It was very humid and I was dripping wet from all the sweat. The only good news is that at the speed one does MSP intervals, the wind keeps you cool. I hit the weights after the ride for 2 sets of 10 reps of everything (upper body and lower body) since I don't have a race for a couple of weeks. Next week is a recovery week and it has been a bit of a mental challenge to stick to the training schedule due to all the bike race cancellations. It hasn't actually been that hard, but it's nice to have the dates on the calendar coming up to look forward to so I can stay on task. My body is looking forward to next week for the recovery. I worked it hard the past 3 weeks with the in-season training plan and the Fat Tire Festival.

Baseball games just about every day this month (when it isn't raining). Zack hit a nice 2 run homer during his opening at bat the other day. That's his first for the year, but there are plenty of games coming up. He had a nice opposite field fly ball to the fence against Urbandale and a nice rip over the shortstop's head for his 2nd at bat. So his hitting is in the zone at the moment. Hopefully it holds...

Time for game #1 of the NBA Championship...

6/2/08

50 miles on the road...

Yup. I did 50 miles on the road with my wife this weekend. We did 20 on Saturday and 30 on Sunday. Since it was my wife's first time out this year on the upright, we took it easy distance wise to allow her backside to get acquainted with the upright bike again. She's fine for the recumbent, but we all know the "getting to know you" warm up period between the nether regions and a saddle. ;-)

She let me "fly" yesterday and I put about one hour of race like conditions in giving it the all or nothing effort with SMSP, MSP, leadouts, sprints, out of saddle mashing and everything I could throw at myself since there was no weekend race for Psycowpath. Today was a rest/recovery day with me going to the office and teaching some private lessons, doing some summer office work and puttering around the house and garage today.

Off to a baseball game to watch junior...

In fact, after tonight, he has double headers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That ought to give me enough fill for the week.