How to mess up your rear wheel the day before a race...

I was warming up this morning in front of my house before heading out to do a pre-race lap at Banner Pits on my Dos Niner and did my normal pre-race check to see if I could clip in and out okay with my shoes. I wanted to make sure there was no mud in there and the big klutz that I am somehow got my left heel over far enough to get stuck in the rear wheel. Rear wheel locked up and I left a 10 foot rubber mark on the pavement. I almost took a tumble, but salvaged it. I'm fortunate I didn't hurt myself!!!

Well, the rear wheel is now knocked so far out of alignment that it's going to require an afternoon with the spoke wrench and some patience. I don't have patience today, so I just took it as a sign to race my JET 9. I took the JET out to Banner for a lap to check the course. Either bike is good to go as a race bike of choice for Banner Pits, so the JET gets the nod tomorrow thanks to my clumsy left foot.

By the way, the course was in perfect shape today. Just tacky enough in spots to keep one from sliding out and with all the riding everyone has been doing on it this week getting ready for the race, this new trail is now become a lot easier as it beds in. I couldn't believe how much easier it is running from say 2 weeks ago. I also had the perfect psi in the rear tire to get traction on the power climbs (wet or dry). Forecast calls for a high of 86-87 tomorrow, so it should be a nice late spring race.


Banner Race Course set...

I've been curious which route Sunday's race would take at Banner and now I know.

Here it is...

Banner Race Course


Race season starts...

Due to work taking me out of the country for 3 weeks and other commitments here at home, I have only been able to make it to one race thus far this season. That was the Bone Bender mudfest bust in April which turned out to be much ado about nothing for me due to the mud build up on the tires, wheels and frame forcing me to walk 1/2 of one lap before bagging it. Outside of 10 minutes of riding in that race, I was unable to benefit from any early season racing this year.

In spite of that, training continued and was built around preparing for the season which now has 4 straight weekends of racing on deck for me beginning this weekend. Yesterday was an off day in terms of any on the bike training. Today had me doing about a 50 minute session focused on intensity aboard the C7i in the basement as well as my maintenance weights. I cleaned the race bike up for this weekend and got everything lubed and checked so that is out of the way. I headed into work after that to teach some summer lessons. Rain is forecast for tomorrow as well, so my scheduled workout is an easy session which I can do in the basement on the C7i before going in for some more summer lessons. Forecast is for sunshine on Thursday and all the way through the weekend, so trails should dry out and be in good shape.

I will take my daughter in at 8 am to have her braces taken off (after 3 years of wearing them!!!!). I know she is ├╝ber-excited to get them off and I don't blame her.


Banner Pits trimmed and ready...

Being a rest day for me after yesterday's 4 laps at Banner in a race simulation training ride, I decided to do some trail work today. I took advantage of the cooler temperatures by dressing in long pants, long sleeve shirt, hat, my hiking boots and covering myself with insect repellent to hit the last section of trail I had not yet trimmed at Summerset State Park. The mosquitoes still attacked me, but the repellent and long clothes fended off most of them.

I started at 10 am and finally walked out of the woods at 3 pm exhausted, thirsty, hungry and with my back hurting from all the trimming, bending over, reaching up, etc... . I saw a grand total of 9 mountain bikers hitting the trail during that time frame (Squirrel and his wife being 2 of them). I thought I would see more riders out there being a holiday and all. The trail is really getting broken in and looking sweet for the weekend's race. Trail signs go up this week - according to Squirrel as he tried to help one guy get turned around who was riding the north side backwards.

I now have walked the entire trail system at Banner and trimmed about 90 - 95% of it along with others who are out trimming, sawing roots that are sticking up, mowing and getting things ready for the grand opening. The trimming will need to be an ongoing maintenance thing as some of the species out there are fast growers and will need to be kept at bay. I will be happy to put in some time every now and then to help keep the growth maintained - especially since I live so close.


Trail Work...

...I put in about 5 hours of trail work at Banner Pits today. The "Shootout" XC race will be held on May 31st at Summerset State Park and I have always been busy at Simpson or out of town on trail work days. We finished on Monday at Simpson, so I had some time to do some work. I trimmed the upper canopy on Riverside trail and did some shovel work to fill in some washed out gully areas with sand and dirt. I'll probably put in some more time on the north side working on the upper canopy to get things out of the faces of riders. Things are growing like it's a jungle with this rain and heat.

I brought the Dos Niner and put in 3 full laps (13.5 miles) of the race course. Race day will be 4 laps for the Cat 2 racers, so I will give that a whirl next time out to get a feel for the pacing of 4 laps and how it pans out on all the power climbs. It's a very unique and diverse trail well worthy of trying out for those who have not yet had a chance to ride these new trails. Balance, power and a little bit of luck seem to be required on the north side trails. The crew did a marvelous job designing and building these trails. I don't think there is anything like it that I have ridden in the midwest. This is a totally unique layout since it is built on an old abandoned coal strip mine. I saw a lot of snakes out sunning themselves on the north side. The south side has a ton of mosquitoes. Sand, banked curves, jumps, logs, bridges, steep short climbs, steep descents, off camber galore, switchbacks, tight and twisty, never a dull moment... Wildlife everywhere and the challenge is worth it.

After clipping, shoveling and riding - I headed back to town and taught two voice lessons before calling it a day. Tomorrow will have me getting a dog fence put back in for our front yard. Max is getting bold and challenging anyone who walks in front of our house, so it is time to zap him with the electronic fence which I will bury underground tomorrow. This started with him about a month ago which is odd since he has always been so gentle with people. I guess that territorial instinct is taking hold....

Trail work update: Today, Friday, was the third day in a row of doing some work out at Banner Pits. I've just about made it all the way around the trail trimming the upper canopy to get things out of rider's faces. The mosquitoes are relentless and at about 3:45 pm today I walked out of the woods tired of being bitten. My face had huge welts on it and my neck looked like I had a disease. On the good side of things, I must be immune to poison ivy because I've been walking through it the past few days with no adverse reaction. My grandfather was the same way. I'll take the weekend off of doing any work and just ride, but next time I go I will lather up with repellent.


Almost bonked...

Of course I added a couple of pounds while in Europe, so I've been busy on the bike getting back into race shape and whittling those 3 pounds off. Saturday, May 9th, and Monday/Wednesday/Friday of last week I did 2 - 2 1/2 hours each of those days to get back into the groove. I usually always carry a gel, I just never use it.

I went for a quick and hard 1 1/2 hours last night with SMSP Intervals and a 20 minute muscle endurance interval. I had a nice recovery dinner and decided today after a full day of faculty meetings and workshops to head out for some kind of a training ride. May 31st is the first race at Banner Pits (6 1/2 miles north of my house) and the bike path goes right there, so I've been riding to the Pits and getting acquainted with these tough new trails that just opened.

I headed off without a gel today assuming I would be back under the 2 hour window which is about what I am trained for this year - nothing longer in terms of maximum effort. I haven't used a gel yet on this trip, so I figured I would not bring one today since I wouldn't use it anyway.


The wind was howling and I rode with the wind for the first 30 minutes noting that the return trip home would be uphill and against a very strong wind. I rode to Banner Pits and did 2 full laps of the expert trail at race speed and 1 full lap of the beginner/intermediate trail before turning the bike back south and dead into the wind for the 6 1/2 miles uphill. I decided to taper back to a recovery pace for the trip home. What I didn't realize is that I was already over 2 hours on the bike and I had not eaten since 8 am. I had no gel and I was running on afternoon fumes. So to avoid the much dreaded and dangerous bonk, I hunkered down and kept a steady recovery pace all the way home. The wind forced me to gear down and slow my pace. I was in survival mode to avoid going too far over the edge and into a bonk. That's something I always want to avoid at all costs as a bonk is very serious and dangerous. One thing about riding in this condition is that it feels harder than going full out even though I was crawling. I needed fuel, but had nothing but water with me. And I needed to keep burning fuel to climb that 6 mile hill.

The slower pace helped me accomplish the mission of getting home without any serious issues. I arrived home after 3:35 on the bike (about an hour longer than my long race training rides have been this year to date). I think if I had a gel or I had eaten 3 hours before the ride I would have been okay, but I was way beyond 5 hours since I had food and that was too long for the effort I gave on the way to Banner and on the mountain bike trails at race pace. Oh well....

Nothing chips/salsa and a salad with chicken couldn't fix once I got home.

Lesson learned: always make sure I have that gel or two in my pocket just in case!!!

Two days in a row and I will probably take tomorrow completely off the bike to recover.


Back in Central Time Zone and on the bike again...

...jet lag is over and both Monday and Tuesday night I was able to sleep through the night my normal number of hours.

I climbed on the bike Saturday for 2 1/2 hours of reacquainting myself to the novel of idea of riding. I did the same on Monday for 2 1/4 hours of faster riding with intervals mixed in as I got the blood flowing and checked my condition. It felt good. Today was 1 1/2 hours which included MSP and SMSP intervals. I think I should be back on track by the weekend.

Here are a couple of photos from Europe.

Waiting for an outdoor table in Brugge, Belgium....

Waiting for a table...

Ten of my voice students teaching me the finer points of consuming beer in France... (not to worry, we all made it back to the hotel without any problems)

Teaching 10 of my voice students...


Back Home from Europe...

I got home Friday night around 8 pm from my trip to Europe. The trip was a blast and we actually had decent spring weather the entire time we were there. All 7 concerts were well attended.

I was only able to ride a bike one day while in Brugge, Belgium. I rented a bike and rode for 4 hours around the city's bike paths and streets. I couldn't get the city bike rental bikes in Paris to take my credit card without purchasing a one year subscription (49 Euros), so I just skipped riding in Paris and walked about 10 miles a day. I figured my training loss wasn't going to be any different by riding around Paris on a 3 speed or not.

Places where we stayed:


We visited Amboise, Vilandry, Chambord and Chenonceaux castles in the Loire Valley and of course went to Omaha Beach, Notre Dame, Monet's Gardens, Mont-St-Michel, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, the Louvre, Rodin Museum, Da Vinci's home and museum in France, the Rijksmuseum, the Eiffel Tower, took many city guided walking tours, boat tours in canals/rivers, saw 2 Verdi operas at the Bastille (one had 2 of my good friends in the cast) and a lot of things that escape me at the moment. Plenty of good food and drink was enjoyed by all. I had mussels, rabbit, pigeon, goose, duck, lamb, pork, chicken, mystery meat and way too much fresh bread. The food in France is delicious.

It will take me a few days to get back on central time zone (especially since I caught a cold the last day in Paris before flying home).

I opted not to do the Psycowpath XC bike race yesterday in Nebraska since I only slept a few hours and had not been on a bike except one time in the past 2 weeks. So I went to Pella, Iowa with my wife and daughter for the Tulip Festival on Saturday. Considering I had just come from Holland - it was odd to be in the middle of conservative Pella, Iowa celebrating their old fashioned heritage. The weather and timing just didn't work too well this year in Pella as the tulips had passed their peak. Regardless, we had a good time seeing the sights, the parade and having some Dutch "junk food".

Time to get the kids up and prepare the Mother's Day breakfast...