4/28/10

Adios mi Dos!!!!

Yesterday was an interesting day in terms of things going "boink" on my bike. I was airing up a tubeless tire on my Blunt front wheel and "PING!" went a spoke. Turns out it was a brass nipple that had broken. So I headed up to Rasmussen's in Des Moines where Squirrel took it on and fixed it for me. I got it home, aired up and all was well.

After dinner, Tara and Zack headed up to Des Moines to get Zack a new suit for the weekend trip to Seattle. I headed out for a training ride on the Dos Niner. About 3 blocks from home on the first semi-steep climb I got out of saddle and was cranking up the hill. I heard another "PING!" or "BOINK!" or something (not really sure since the iPod was blasting out Beethoven). At the top of the hill, I noticed it was really hard to pedal and I looked down to see the rear wheel rubbing against the chainstay. So I stopped, loosened the rear QR and then tightened it all up again. Off I sent and 10 feet later the wheel was rubbing again. Okay, stop and look closer.

Well, here's what I found....

Bye-bye!

Broke clean through the weld...

Addios Dos!

Gee, that was almost too much for one day's excitement to have a wheel go bad and then a frame several hours later. When it rains....

Regardless, I got 4 full seasons of training and racing on the Dos Niner in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and had done one race on it this season (Sylvan Island Stampede). I bought it 2nd hand in 2006, so I had no warranty and even if I did - Salsa Cycles warranty does not cover frames used in competition. It lasted a good long time and sure was a fun bike for me to have.

I guess I'll be racing the RIP 9 or Sugar 293 while I wait for my new JET 9 to possibly arrive next month. I'll miss the Dos, that's for sure.

R.I.P. Dos Niner.....

4/19/10

Bone Bender Race Report...

First of all - congratulations to the entire crew at Bone Bender for hosting a great event. Last year's inaugural event didn't have the weather wanting to cooperate. This year it sure did. And what a great race! The course was in primo, perfect condition. Fast and fun. I pulled the plug last year after walking for about 2 1/2 hours in the mud which included carrying my bike until my shoulders were numb and I was spent and out of beverage/fuel, so I had never seen the entire loop. This year - I got to see it all.

The turnout (I don't know the exact number yet, but have heard about 266 total) was great to see. That marks 2 weekends in a row of huge turnouts we can call record numbers and is really nice to see. That continues the trend seen last year at races in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa. Numbers seem to be growing again for XC mountain biking events. I think we'll see good numbers all season long as long as the weather plays nice.

I had a good training week getting in 9 hours of bike time and felt ready for the distance at the Bone Bender. Last week was a wake-up call as my training had not gotten me up to actual race pace and effort, so I used that race and this week to turn the screws a bit and reacquaint my body with the pain and suffering required. ;-)

I had pre-registered for the 3 hour version online as I didn't have time for the 6 hour since I needed to be back in Indianola by 5 pm for the evening's concerts. My goal for this type of duration/distance was simply to finish the event this time around and ride at a higher spin rate and effort than last week to get in some good training time. Most XC races I do are anywhere from 1:15 to 2:15 in terms of duration for the CAT 2 distance. I didn't have any illusions of maintaining a typical CAT 2 XC race pace for 3 plus hours, but I wasn't racing just to patsy pedal either. I was going to give it what I could for the entire duration. So pacing was in my mind to be able to finish strong. I figured the RIP with the 120mm of travel up front and rear would be the weapon of choice to keep my back and body fresh for this duration. Sure, it weighed 28 pounds, but this was not a course with climbing so I figured I would be fine. Especially after noting how well it climbed in the Black Hills with the massive Ardents and tubes on it.

I packed everything up in the Element on Saturday night but forgot one important thing. About 30 minutes away from Indianola and going through the mental checklist, I realized my cycling shoes were on the garage floor. So, I turned around and raced back to get them. I lost quite a bit of time and had planned my trip just about right to include a warm-up. That was now lost and I drove illegally (in terms of my speed) just to be able to arrive a few minutes before the start. I couldn't find a parking spot due to the huge turnout, but finally squeezed in between 2 trucks. I got the bike out of the Element, loaded up my pockets with gels, took my cooler over to the feed zone and went to the registration desk. I got my number plate on just as the rider meeting ended and everyone headed down to the start line. Whew! I made it. No time for any warm-up, but I made it.

Weather was around 60 degrees, sunny and the mood was chipper because of it. I placed my bike somewhere and headed down to the Le Mans style start (where everyone runs for a bit to their bikes in hopes of spreading out the field a bit). I chatted with Rassy riders Mike Lebeda and Courtney. Mike and his son were teaming up for the 6 hour event which was cool to hear about. I did't have time to visit or even look around to see anybody else (I spied Julie Vardaman a few rows up and over from where I was standing). There were more rows in front of me than behind me due to my very late arrival, but c'est la vie.

At the appointed time, we were off and running.

BoneBenderLeMans

We took off in a massive group run through thick wet grass, through beach sand and finally up a hill and to the bikes. Dang! I couldn't remember where I dropped my bike! I had run too far and had to turn around and do a search for it. I finally found it and hopped on for the mass traffic jam ride to the singletrack where it was a stop and wait situation quite a bit in the first part of lap one as we entered each singletrack and technical section. Not a problem as I was getting warmed up and my goal for this race was to finish. Once on the singletrack, I started passing and working my way through what I could, when I could in the crowd. This meant being patient and waiting.

Lap one took longer than I expected due to the crowds and slinky-snake effect where some of the technical challenges of the rocks, ledges and logs and less experienced riders participated in some hike-a-bike sections. I was seeing a lot of flat tires. As I sat on my big cushion 4.7" travel 29"er and followed various riders, I could see how the trail tossed riders around that were in front of me. My back cringed thinking about riding this course on my Dos Niner. Ouch!! I was glad to be on the RIP. It didn't matter if they were on 29"er wheels or 26"er wheels. Those rocks and roots were back eaters. I hardly felt a thing on the RIP outfitted with the Flow rims and the big cushion/velcro Raven 2.2's run at low pressure. My bike and tires were eating everything up. But I was careful to pick good lines in the graveyard rock sections as there were a lot of flat tires out there. As I had suspected, there wasn't any climbing outside of a few short little ups and gradual serpentine ups. Middle and big ring racing the entire time with no need for a granny.

Sportin' the new BikeIowa.com kit...

Rear

Photo Courtesy of Lanterne Rougeici

Hammer Nutrition had a tent, so I filled up the water bottle after lap 1, got a gel and went on my way. Lap two was faster and the crowd had thinned out enough to really ride at a race pace. I kept passing people and probably due to starting so far back in the pack, I only recall 2 riders passing me during the race that actually managed to stay ahead of me. Some passed me, but I ended up passing them later. I got more confident in the rocks on this lap and went through them much quicker than during lap 1. Somewhere near the end of this lap, I saw Courtney standing and leaning up against a tree. Not sure what happened to cause him to rest. I knew he was doing the 6 hour version of the race, so figured he had plenty of time to collect himself and get going again. I was feeling really fresh and stopped at Hammer Nutrition again after lap 2.

Front

Photo Courtesy of Lanterne Rougeici

Lap 3 was similar to lap 2 and I had finally worked my way up to groups of some faster good riders. Again, I kept working on passing when I could. We were hitting lapped traffic, but kept moving forward. I had enough in my legs to pick up the tempo and really gave it the gas in the last 5 miles to spend whatever I had left. I didn't stand and crank out of saddle one time during this race. Mainly because it was a relatively flat course and the RIP isn't exactly a stand and hammer sort of bike. ;-] Near the end, I noticed my left grip was a bit loose and without even thinking, I gave it a smack (or a big whack) on the end to push it back on which turned out to be a mistake. The sort of mistake you make when oxygen deprived and not thinking clearly. I was going full tilt at the time on an open section in a cow trail rut and I smacked the bar hard enough to knock me out of balance where my pedal caught the side of the rut and down I went at full tilt. Imagine my surprise when I didn't hurt anything on the bike or on my body with that crazy fall at that speed. Pretty amazing, actually. It felt about the same as a big fall while snow skiing so I must have tucked and fallen in good fashion. The guy behind me asked if I was alright and I said I was fine and uttered a four letter word of encouragement to myself as I hopped on the bike and tracked him down to pass him back a few hundred yards later. That was the only mishap I had during the entire race and it was entirely my own fault. I'll put a bit of masking tape under the grip and hairspray it on again to hold next time.

I crossed the line somewhere around 3:21 and change (not sure really as I forgot to look and really make note of the time on my watch). I headed back to the Element and got everything loaded up. I used the restroom and washed my face before climbing in the car and driving back. I wanted to stay a bit, but I had a full evening of events to attend. So I had to vamoose ASAP. I got home about 4:20 or so (actually drove the speed limit) and unloaded the car.

Here's a post race picture from last year to show you the mud (this is Brandon's bike):

Bone Bender Mud 2009

No mud this year. Just fast and fun dry singletrack. The RIP is a bit dusty, but in good shape:

Ripster After Bone Bender

Rip dusty and tired after Bone Bender

Update: Until the official final results are divided up into various age groups and categories, it looks like I was 37th out of the 127 overall that finished the 3 hour version of the race. My time was 3:21:47. There were an additional 12 DNF's in the 3 Hour race. So it looks like a total of 139 started for the 3 hour portion, 89 started for the 6 hour version and 19 teams (or 38 racers) started for the 6 hour Duo.

I feel really refreshed today which is odd considering 3 1/2 hours of XC racing. I have to say the RIP did a lot of the work and is a very nice endurance bike indeed. Hmmmm....

4/16/10

Could this weekend be any more stacked?

Lists of way too many things to attend, participate in and do this weekend.

2 recitals Friday night while Tara is singing at Shabbat, Zack is working and Alexa is babysitting. Solo/ensemble music contest Saturday morning (have to have Alexa at Des Moines Lincoln for warm-up at 8:15 am as she sings at 8:30), Zack's baseball game at noon, two recitals Saturday, AC/DC concert, Sunday Bone Bender, Zack's baseball game at noon, choir concert in the afternoon, 2 recitals and who knows what else? Monday/Tuesday is even more stacked with events. Track meet, recitals, prospective student/parent visit, Colorado trip parents' meeting.....

I lost 3 pounds this week I was so busy. Can't find time to sit down and eat. I did manage to get the dishwasher fixed today after work as the replacement latch and handle arrived. It was not fun doing all the dishes by hand this week!! In spite of the hectic schedule, I did squeeze in 7 hours on the bike (tomorrow will make it 8+) this week. How? I don't know.

No rest until June - maybe.

4/12/10

IMBCS #1 Race Report...

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day with sunshine and temperatures in the 60's. I had an easy drive over to Moline, Illinois for the first IMBCS race of the year. I say, easy because I had packed everything the night before and I even set the coffee maker on automatic so the brew was ready when I got up.

I was really looking forward to this race for a few reasons. Number one, I was itching to race and see how everything felt at this point in the season. Number two, I wanted to give the new wheels and tire combination a try to see if I could slay the Sylvan Island course that ate my Racing Ralph and caused a DNF the last time I raced there back in 2008. Number three, who doesn't want to be hammering away on singletrack on the weekend with a bunch of other Lycra-clad minded individuals? ;-]

I arrived about 10 a.m. just in time to see the Novice Category race start. I immediately noticed they were running the race in a clockwise direction which was the opposite direction from the last 2 times I raced there. I also noticed that the starting field was HUGE!! Actually, the number was 94 men and 10 women that went flying by. Wow! That's a great showing!!!

I got registered, watched a bit of the Novice race, said hello to Cam and Julie (Cam's mom was out there racing - a big thumb's up to that - and Cam and Julie were cheering her on) and went back to the car to get suited up. After warming up on the pavement, the course was open for Sport Class to take a test loop. I went on the Dos Niner. The bike felt good and the course was in perfect shape. It was a big ring only course so I threw the chain onto the outer ring.

I managed to get in about the third row at the starting line not realizing there were 87 guys and 25 gals lined up. To alleviate some of the congestion, they sent the 25 women out 3 minutes ahead of the guys, but no other waves. It was a mass start for the men. One guy in front of me went sideways and down which resulted in a quick compensatory move that we all mustered to not run over him and get around safely.

StartSIS

Of course, all that hard work to fly down the gravel path only to find a complete bottleneck at the singletrack entrance. But, that's racing. Unless you are in the first 10 or so guys off the line - and I sure don't fit into that category for this kind of race - you get stuck in the traffic jams. The slinky effect lasted quite a bit during lap one and I was really wanting to get going, but there was no where to go. It was tire to tire for as far as you could see in front of you and behind you. It took most of lap one and all of the open stretches to get things spread out a bit. I felt fine at this point.

Lap two had me turn the lap 1 minute, 12 seconds quicker than the first lap thanks to fewer bottlenecks and bumping my effort up a notch. In the middle of lap 3, I started to feel some fatigue and the reality of running out of steam. So goal number one of doing this race was to see what I could do at this point of the year. The Dos is a great climbing XC race course bike, but there were no climbs on this course outside of a few short 10 footers here and there. Sitting and spinning on a full suspension would have been the ticket, but the JET isn't due to arrive for another month or two. Regardless, it wasn't the Dos that slowed me down. It was my stamina and body giving into the fatigue. And it showed in me turning lap 3 about 43 seconds slower than lap two. Gone was the drool and higher heart rate - both replaced by a spent body that felt like I was riding a bucking bronco.

I thought I recovered a wee tiny bit in lap 4 to keep pushing along, but was only 6 seconds faster than lap 3 which proves I've got some stamina to work on as I move into the 2nd build phase and try to get myself to sustain a higher effort for a longer duration. I was riding along with a group of 4 that grew to 5 or 6 as we neared the end and somehow, in a cross eyed manner, made - or at least started to make - a wrong turn as I confused some yellow tape and a segment of singletrack that branched off of the main trail we were racing. I had to stop, turn the bike around and try to catch up to the group I was hanging with. That one cost me, as I could not reel them back in after that in the remainder of the lap we had and I finished a few seconds behind them after the final sprint on the chipped gravel to the line. I rolled across the line in 42nd place with a time of 1:29:15. Ah...42nd out of 87 on the line. Right in the heart of my old friend - midpackitis.

To be honest, I was happy to be out there racing after shoveling all of that snow this winter. After two DNF"s and missing a month while in France in the 2009 early season, I didn't get an XC race in last year that I completed until June 7th. If all goes well with the weather, work and travel - I might be able to get in a 1/2 dozen races this season before June 7th. We shall see...

Kudos to F.O.R.C. and all the volunteers for hosting a well run race where fun was had by all. I loaded up and had a nice surprise driving home as I was with the wind all the way and got some incredible gas mileage. I got home, showered, ate some nice salmon and rice for dinner, and went to two student recitals in the evening.

4/9/10

Racing season begins...

After all the months of lifting weights, base building, intervals, weight loss, bike component/gear selections, an actual bike fitting and new position, etc... it is finally time to throw on the new race kit and start the engine this weekend. On tap....IMBCS#1 at Sylvan Island.

I've joined the BikeIowa.com Team this year and my kit arrived yesterday. The Dos Niner is primed and ready to race:

Dos profile

I swapped out the XTR FD for a Dura Ace and the bike with the new Crest wheels is sitting at 23.43 pounds.

After the build phase I just completed last week, I finished a 5 day R & R week Wednesday - a la Friel. I took the rested legs and body out for a workout last night when I got home from teaching. It's always so hard for me to make it through one of those R & R weeks because I want to give it the gas and train, but this time I was careful to let all of that recovery take place in a proper manner. I know the period after allows me to go to the next level, but it is still hard to hold off during the R & R with good weather and singletrack staring at you!!!

I did my uphill interval test yesterday after warming up for 50 minutes (which included shorter duration and various intervals). Everything felt good in the legs, so I wanted to see if I could best my record on a particular 13 minute paved hill climb that I routinely do an interval on to check my fitness. I guess the good news is that interval used to take me 15 minutes a couple of seasons ago going full tilt. I jumped out of my shoes and remained as cross-eyed as I wanted to, yet maintained a manageable pace while I hammered up the hill drooling like a starving labrador waiting for table scraps. I've got a symphonic number from Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saens and the first movement of Beethoven's 5th on the iPod that I use to ride this particular interval. I turned them on and noted the time on the cellphone as I started the interval. Sunshine, cool temperatures, good music, fresh legs and a nice climb. It was a good recipe no matter what the time result would be.

End result - I tied my record which pleased me because it's only the start of the season and that record was set in the height of a peak from last year. I knew I had a bit more to give as I didn't blow all of the cobwebs out during this particular interval. I held a wee-little bit in reserve. Not a lot, but enough to encourage further time shaving for my next check. Regardless, it felt good to know where I have trained myself to this point in the season. Last year I was way behind at this point and then ended up going to Europe where I lost three weeks of training. I finished up the ride home and ended with 80 minutes of training volume. The legs felt so good and primed, I actually had trouble sleeping last night.

Alexa was injured in her first track meet of the season this year and was misdiagnosed as having a quad pull. Turns out it was not her quad, but her hip. A lot of core work has been done the past few weeks. The coach pushed her too hard and told her to suck up the pain before a thorough and correct diagnosis was made. Unbelievable!!! If a young teengage girl is complaining of severe pain and wimpering do you tell them to 'suck it up'?

After the physical therapist did a thorough examination and made the correct diagnosis, the trainer took over and let the coach have it (as did the parents). The trainer has her on a good program to get her back into competitive form and she's up to 80% and looks to be getting ready for full out sprinting next week. Alexa was in Acceleration Iowa all winter long up in Waukee and was in good form. Her times had built back up to her old form before the knee dislocation that happened playing ball in the neighborhood kept her out of last season. I did, however, keep emphasizing the importance for her to do core work all winter long. Did my teenage daughter listen to me? ;-] Okay, to be fair, she did the exercises a couple of times. But not enough to stick. Maybe now she will take the core work more seriously as her genetic coding for the ball/hip joint is going to require it if she wants to run. Oh well, we'll see what happens.

4/3/10

Home Run, Training Week and Easter Eggs....

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Baseball

Spring baseball started and what does Zack do during his first at bat against Newton today? He was batting third in the line up and with one runner on first, Zack stepped in the batter's box, planted his feet and on the first pitch he hits a home run over the left center field fence.

Hey, it's just like riding a bike, right? '-)

He was 3 for 4 at the plate today, but didn't pitch so well during the 2 innings he was on the mound. Regardless, I think we won 18-4 or so. And Zack did his usual post game routine of coming home, setting up the batting net and smacking balls for a couple hours to warm-down and work on his swing mechanics. He has good discipline at the plate and his work ethic for batting pays handsome dividends.

Bike Training

I just finished my training week at 7 p.m. this evening. Oy! The legs are tired. I rode from home to Banner Pits with Tara on the bike path pushing a very fast tempo with the wind behind us. It took 15 minutes less time than usual - that's how strong the wind was blowing to the north. She did one loop on Riverside and headed home to make some guacamole dip to go with our Spatchcock chicken. Since the trails had dried very nicely from Friday's thunderstorm, I stayed to do some intensity and loop the entire Banner trails.

I was surprised I had some power left in the legs and this bike has a 32T middle ring which I was hammering up the power climbs like it was a 29T. The bike felt well balanced and light. I got a little cocky with my speed and took too much into a corner hoping to take some speed into the base of one of the steeper power climbs. Those wide Salsa handlebars caught a tree on the right edge of the trail and stopped me in my tracks as I had to lay the bike down. Right hand foam grip is trashed as the tree ripped it right down to the handlebar. I grabbed the tree with my right arm and stayed upright as the bike went down below me. I guess that's why foam grips are disposable and I keep the Bontrager Race foams in stock in the parts bin. I finished the north section of the lap and decided to stop and pick up as many limbs and branches on the southern Riverside loop that I could. I'd like to walk it one time with the clippers and a rake to trim back some dry stuff that gets in the face and get some stuff off the trail before everything greens up and the forest takes off. Actually, I need to do it very soon before the mosquitoes emerge!!! The trails are in pretty good shape out there as it is now. The only thing I noticed today and all week is the Hee-Haw/Trailer Trash/High School Drinking/Fishing While Intoxicated crowd has been out there breaking beer bottles on the trail. I removed a lot of glass, but there is still a lot to be picked up.

I managed to get in 10 hours and 20 minutes this week as I completed this particular build phase.

The past 5 weeks of my build were as follows in terms of total volume:

1st Week of March (2/28 - 3/6): 3:40 hours
2nd Week of March (3/7 - 3/13): 5:20 hours
3rd Week of March (3/14 - 3/20): 7:30 hours
4th Week of March (3/21 - 3/27): 7:10 hours
5th Week of March (3/28 - 4/3): 10:20 hours

Add at least an hour or two to each of those weeks for my daily morning "walk the dogs" ride which is always 15 - 25 minutes per day. Those are simple recovery and get the blood flowing rides, so I don't count them as training per se, but they are time on the bike making pedal revolutions.

This week is a scheduled 5 day R&R week with one weight training session, and some recovery riding before moving on to the next phase. My first scheduled race is next Sunday at my nemesis course - Sylvan Island. I tore a Racing Ralph there last year and had to DNF. That's sort of ironic considering the prize I won at the swag table in 2008 at Sylvan Island was a Stans NoTubes tubeless conversion kit. So using the kit, a year later, I tear a sidewall and am out of the event where I won the conversion kit. This year, I have a plan to run some rubber that I can depend on to cross the finish line. Let's hope the weather and tires cooperate.

While waiting for my Niner JET 9 recall frame to be painted in Taiwan and get shipped to the US, I had to pull out the 2004 Sugar 293 to suit it up for XC racing. My back and body are getting to old to survive the full out efforts on the Dos Niner when flying on the trail at XC race speed for rough courses. I feel like I'm on a bucking bronco on the rear end at times in the rough stuff. I tried the Dos in training simulations this week and man, my back was stinging all day after the ride. Granted, on more forgiving courses and courses with lots of climbing it will be fine. The Sugar is all "funked" out with a 130mm Bontrager stem and the Salsa Pro Moto 17 degree bend handlebars. It's riding sweet and fast, though at just a hair under 26 pounds. So it should be good to go for the first few races of the season. The RIP may be good to go for some XC racing as well with the right wheels/tires. I tested it out all week long in terms of times and effort on some laps. No doubt, I can move the thing pretty fast in spite of the heavier bike and the heavier Flow/I9 Enduro wheels which all require me to put out more wattage to get the same times. The question is, can I sustain that extra effort for the duration of an XC race?

I'm doing an Easter weekend experiment of mounting up some tires on my Blunts tubeless using yellow tape and valves only for racing...

I think my JET is scheduled to arrive in May at some point (or early June).

Easter Eggs...

This Big Green one, in particular, is working overtime this weekend.

BigGreenEggOutdoors

It's doing Spatchcock Simon & Garfunkle chicken as I type this for tonight's late meal with hickory chips. Tomorrow, it will be apple and cherry wood chips smoking for 4 - 6 hours for Easter ribs that we are looking forward to eating.

Tara and I will split up where we go to services tomorrow. I think she is doing the sunrise breakfast and service at the Lutheran Church and I'll be heading to the Assembly of God church to hear one of my former students, Highway Sigadi, sing at the Easter service. Then I'll come home and get the ribs smoking.

Happy Easter to all. We're watching "The Ten Commandments" as I type this. It seems they play it every year and it has become tradition for us to sit down and watch it.