9/7/10

Laddies Loppet 2010 Race Report....

Tara and I loaded up the Element and headed way up north to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota on Saturday for the final summer getaway on Labor Day Weekend. Laddies Loppet was #10 on the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series and it is a stage race weekend event. I couldn't make the Saturday races since Zack had a football game against Valley on Friday night and Alexa had a cross country meet in Pella on Saturday that we wanted to attend. However, it was the cross country race on Sunday that I was most interested in racing.

We made the trip last year and parked ourselves at the The Lodge right on Detroit Lake itself. We decided to stay there again this time around. This year, however, the temperatures were about 20 degrees cooler. I had studied the forecast so we were prepared with the proper clothing. And like last year, Tara brought her bike along for some nice riding around Detroit Lake itself.

I arrived at the Maplelag Resort on Sunday morning about an hour before my 11:00 a.m. event. I checked in and put the timing chip on my left ankle as instructed. I hopped on the bike and headed out to warm up on the gravel roads and a couple of the cross country ski trails to get an idea of what the soil was like. Following my warm up, Tara got the camera bug going to catch me ready to race...

I'm ready

The JET was a bit dirty, but ready to race...

JET is ready

My group (40 - 49 year olds) was the 3rd wave to start and we headed off at 11:04...

And we're off....

Last year we did 2 full laps which proved to be pretty grueling with all of the roots, power climbs and heat. This year, the distance for CAT II's was shortened to 1 1/2 laps (one lap on the CAT I course, and one lap on the Sport/Comp/Expert lap). This meant that times would be all out fast with everybody gunning for the hour finish time.

The 1/2 lap was quick and mostly cross country ski trail with a bit of singletrack mixed in, then we hit the "real lap" which began with the traditional lakeside drop and climb section where the spectators gather for drama...

Lakeside drops and climbs

The lap was just as grueling as last year, but I had the full suspension this year to take on the roots. I managed to tumble down one lakeside drop when my wheel slid out in some mud. I hugged a tree and stayed upright which didn't cost me too much time. The singletrack was hard to really get a smooth groove on in terms of speed since it was so technical throughout. The open XC ski trail sections called for the big ring and was where you could fly until the next singletrack section. It's a fun and challenging technical course that the JET ate up really well. One of my pedals didn't fare so well. I don't recall striking it on anything at all during the race, but noticed this after the ride was over...

Eggbeater Cage is broken

Before I knew it, the race was over. Tara did a good job of catching me as I was flying by and heading into the finish line mashing on the big ring...

Ripping into the finish line

I went through the chute. Got my chip removed from my ankle by a gal, shook hands with a couple guys that I was battling with in the full lap and rolled down the hill to the gravel to meet Tara. That's when I glanced at my wrist watch which said 12:10 p.m. So, from the finish line to the gravel and a couple of visits, I figured my time was sub 1:06. A minute or two later, I saw the timer post up a sheet so I went to check the results. In my category, he only had the top 5 finishers and my name wasn't on it. Hmmmmm....the guy in #5 had a time of 1:07 and change and I thought that was odd since my wrist watch had me at sub 1:06. Of course, I didn't make a mental note of when we actually started, but figured it was at 11:04 as originally planned. I figured I must have been in the group after the first 5 in my category. So I went back to the car, got my recovery drink, changed clothes, loaded up the bike, went to the bathroom and took a look at the lunch fare to see if I wanted to eat there or go back into Detroit Lakes.

I checked the results a few more times hoping more results would be posted, but the same sheet was up there with only the first 5 guys in my division. Tara was itching to head back into Detroit Lakes to hop on her bike and get some riding in, so we left. I napped a bit in the car while she drove, we grabbed some lunch and then headed back to the motel. She suited up and we headed out for two very windy 45 minute each laps around the lake. It was a nice warm-down for me and my legs felt pretty good thanks to the XC race only being an hour and minimal change.

We got back to the motel and I checked the online results and was surprised/shocked/stunned to not see my name any where on the results list. I double checked, tripled checked and reality set in that something must have happened. I called the race director, Jay Richards and he told me to call the timer from Peak Timing, Greg Blasko. I was informed that the rules state you have to stick around post race to make sure the results are accurate. In my case - I had no results and explained why I had left. Lesson learned. Both Jay and Greg were very cool about it and did some research. It turns out I was given the "wrong chip" at registration and Greg was able to piece things together and find my time which was 1:04 and change which put into a 5th place finish. Kudos to Jay and Greg for helping me out and I promise not to leave a race early ever again until I check to make sure my name gets posted. Those are the rules and any protests are supposed to be before the awards ceremony.

We had a nice dinner at the Fireside restaurant which was walking distance from the motel. Walleye, salmon, earth apples, salad, wine and we even split a small sweet treat at the end of the meal. We drove home Monday and stopped at the outlet malls between St. Cloud and Minneapolis. The crowds were too overwhelming, so we headed home after a minimal amount of shopping.

9/3/10

6 Weeks Post-Tornado Update...

Today marks the 6 week point since the tornado swept through our neighborhood on July 23rd. Gayla continues to progress with her rehab work in the hospital. Last week she was walking 200 feet with the walker, tooling around in her wheelchair under her own power, typing on a computer keyboard, using the bathroom and maintaining a very busy daily schedule of therapy sessions. I believe she will be released from the hospital by the end of this month - at least that is the plan. Therapy/rehab will continue for many months following her release, but the direction she is headed is a good one.

The majority of repair work on the home has been completed (new shingles, new shed, new garage door, new basement, new exterior house painting, etc....). There are a few more things to do like get the new fence, finish painting the shed, strip, caulk and paint around the new garage door, get the new AC unit, possibly a new kitchen window pane and a few other tidbits. But all in all, the vast majority of arranging to have everything done, doing the paperwork, signing checks, paying contractors and what not is just about completed. One always wishes they could just have everything back like it was, but when damage occurs and repair work is done, it's really hard to get back to exactly what it was like before.

Below are some photographs of the process.


The white marks you see on the siding is from the repair work done to the siding where debris in the tornado hit the house and caused damage. Some of them small gouges and dents, some of them just a surface cosmetic blemish.

debris hits in rear

debris hits

The front, obviously, didn't get as hard as the back where the tornado was...

debris hits on front

front side debris hit marks

We pretty much had some contractors truck or more out in front of the house for 4-5 weeks as each phase was completed. Basement and shingles were first phase. Shed was the third phase. Painting and plumbing was the fourth phase. Garage door was the 5th phase. And now the AC and fencing will be the final phases in September.

workers in action

The shed arrived from Omaha and the 2 guys from Tuff Shed are installing it.

Tuff Shed guys building the shed

Funny, on the day after the tornado as we were all picking up the debris, several of us got a good laugh as we located part of our shed and read the brand name of it - Tuff Shed. I found it worthy of a photo at the time as we all enjoyed the comic relief...

Tuff Shed?  Ha!!!!

It's "Tuff", but not "Tuff" enough for this...

Indianola Tornado 7/23/2010

We opted to go to a different exterior color. One that would cover in one coat painting to make sure it was covered under the insurance. The color is a darker shade of a very nice green that I found at Mennards. It's called "grey heron".

painting underway

And from the street on the first day of painting...

painting underway

A tree flew against the side of the house, dented things up, knocked the AC over the fence and scratched the kitchen window in the process. I just discovered this the other day and am trying to decide what to do. It may or may not need replacing.

scratched windon from the flying tree

Shed is done (it's painted to match the house now, I just don't have a picture yet).

new shed

Our old one was 8 x 10. This new one is 10 x 16 and we paid the difference in price. Once you get beyond 10 x 15, the city code requires a building permit and special anchors to secure the building into the ground with approval. It was all worth it for the extra storage space. I built all kinds of shelving inside (no pictures yet) which took me a few days at the rate I overbuild.

new shed arrives

So here are 6 weeks hence and things are getting back to normal. I feel like it was "the lost summer" as many things we had planned got shelved. RAGBRAI, a trip to Wisconsin, some other projects I had planned in the garage and basement, and getting prepared for the school year got put on hold. I'll see if I can catch up now...

9/1/10

IMBCS #9 Sugar Bottom Race Report - HEAT Zapped!

Sunday was IMBCS #9 XC race at the Sugar Bottom Recreation Area which is always a very fun race that I look forward to each season. It's where I did my first ever XC race way back when in 2004 after we moved to the states. It was my only race that season as I wanted to give it a try in my effort to stay in shape and drop weight. I had to DNF that first attempt because it was raining and my wheels were packing up with so much mud, I couldn't pedal or keep it on the trail.

The next year, in 2005, I suffered an ankle sprain getting the bike off the top of the van the day before the race when setting up camp in the campground. I picked up an ankle brace at a Walgreen's and decided to race in spite of it. Then I did a huge endo during the race and got a pretty decent concussion - but I finished the race dazed and delirious. 2006, 2007 and 2008 races were much kinder to me and I had a blast racing on the course. Last year, due to the weather conditions, the race was canceled. So it was nice that with all of the rain this summer, things dried out and were in shape for Sunday's race to go on as planned.

The two weeks leading up to the race, summer heat and humidity had tapered off enough that it was pleasant to train and ride. I was doing a lot of work around the house (painting, shelf building, setting up the shed, etc...) and trying to finish up what needed to be finished up before the academic year started at Simpson. I felt rested and ready to go as the final races of the season approach. The weather forecast was for upper 80's to low 90's which didn't scare me as I've been racing in plenty of heat and humidity all summer long with no ill effects.

On the way to race, I took my Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes, drank water and listened to some good music. I arrived at Sugar Bottom an hour before the 12:10 start, got registered, suited up and did my warm up. Everything felt good. I set a bottle at the lap turn to have for the second 10 mile lap, rather than carry it. I knew this race would be longer (around 2 hours) for me based on previous years. I had been in a few races of this length in the season, but most have been shorter. This 20 miler would be the same distance as the Comp Category races in Minnesota and Wisconsin (the category between Sport and Expert). I guess they call it the Glorified Sport Class for those looking for more of a challenge. Knowing the distance and duration would be longer, I didn't have any big plans to really jump off the line at the start, but work my way into the race as it unfolded.

When the whistle blew, we took off much faster than I had anticipated. I quickly found myself fighting the opening gravel climb and fighting myself, but did manage to make it to the singletrack in one piece. Something felt off, but had not made the connection with heat - yet. I recovered in the line and followed along. I was behind two guys for quite a bit hoping they would pick up the pace, but finally passed them to try and bridge up to the group ahead. That left me riding alone for most of lap one trying to catch up. After moving into the north section of the trails in lap one and about 45 minutes into the race, the climbs suddenly seemed daunting. My breathing was labored, heart rate high, and each hill's effort took me right at or into the red zone. Ouch! Thoughts of DNF actually entered my mind as now I could tell the heat and pace had zapped me. I went into survival mode as I approached the turn into lap 2, stopped for my bottle and headed up the gravel climb again. It was much more painful on this lap even though I was going slower. And my stomach did not feel good at all. Whether it was the heat, the GU, the drink mix - or all of them, I had not felt this bad in the stomach all season long.

Lap 2 really was a survival mode and a goal of finishing the race. Because of the high heart rate, any power climb or climb littered with roots would cause me to jump right into "no man's land" as far as heart rate. It became impossible to recover from these efforts, but I forged on. I found myself as the 2nd person in a group of three that were riding with our wheels a few inches from each other. I figured I would just hang with this group and go for a sprint at the line. That plan failed as we came down a sharp hill left turn combination onto one of the wooden bridges. My front tire washed out on the bridge and I fought to stay upright. I over compensated and went off the bridge to the left for a soft, yet upright landing. By the time I got back up on the bridge, clipped in and moving again - the other two guys were too far ahead of me for any real chance of catching back up before the finish line. I tried, but was too spent from the heat and duration of the race. I rolled across the line at 2:08 and change for a disappointing 22nd place out of the 32 of us that started in the CAT 2 Open race. No midpack finish this time, just bringing up the rear. Three guys within a minute's time finished ahead of me, so it would have been nice to not have slipped on that bridge - but that's racing.

I was begging for water afterward and sat down on a picnic table in the shade to try and gather my wits. I saw guys wandering around all smiles having a beer post race, but I couldn't relate. My stomach hurt. I was cooked. I went back to the car, got changed and loaded up the bike. I usually am hungry post race, but my stomach was in too much turmoil to even think about eating. So I drank some fluids and headed on home with the AC on full blast. I was feeling better by 8 p.m., but the whole experience left me thinking and trying to figure out why the heat zapped me so much. I've done plenty of riding in hotter temperatures, plenty of longer duration training rides, plenty of races in the heat this season, but this one zapped me. Live to fight another day is pretty much my conclusion. I started a thread over at MTBR.com about it and have received some good feedback and reports from others who also felt the heat.

Lessons learned....

1. Dump water on my head and body to keep core cooler
2. Pacing in the heat is going to be different, so pay attention
3. Check out Hammer Nutrition Products for their gels and drink mixes
4. Train out in the heat to acclimate (was hard to do the 2 weeks leading up to this since temperatures and humidity were very pleasant)
5. Get over it and move on for the next race ;-]

Tara and I will head to Callaway, MN for the Laddies Loppet XC race where the forecast is for a high of 65 on Saturday and 73 on Sunday. Somehow, I think heat will not be an issue this weekend. ;-}

Now I just need to recover from Sunday's heated effort...