3/31/12

The old question - which bike to race?

Reviewing my reports from the 2 races at Swanson in Bellevue from last year, I see that I enjoyed having full suspension both at the April race and again later in the season. I've raced my Dos Niner there in previous years as well, so since all three bikes are ready to go - Dos Niner, JET 9 and RIP 9, which one to take?

The Dos is snappy on climbs and out of corners and is currently running pretty well (no squeaks, creaks or odd noises):

Dos Nics profile

Dos Nics Front

I did an awful lot of training on this bike throughout the winter, both on pavement and on dirt/gravel. The girth and volume of the Nobby Nic 2.35's give me plenty of cushion to sort of tame the shock of the hits - so I'm sure it would be fine in a short duration race.

The JET has been recently totally overhauled (fork, pedals, new cranks, new rings, swapped the White Industries BB to the shorter spindle RaceFace BB to narrow the Q factor 11mm and push the envelope of how close I can get those rings to the yoke/chainstay area):

JET ready to RACE for 2012

As can see, there was more than enough room for the chain with the longer spindle BB I was using with the 27/40 rings:

Clearance with 25/38 Rotor Q's

Dropping from the 121mm spindle to a 110mm spindle got my rings in nice and tight for perfect 2 x 9 shifting where I can cross chain and use all gears without any hassle or odd noises.

Worried about a bike with new bits on it that have not been tested to work any kinks out, I took the JET on a 110 minute shakedown ride this afternoon. It worked flawlessly, so it might get the nod if I want the cushion tomorrow.

Or take the burly trail bike? The RIP has the monster truck tires on it at the moment as well, but I could easily swap the Roval wheels to all three bikes - so that's not a dilemma.

Ah...decisions. I'll sleep on it and see what mood I am in tomorrow morning while packing up the gear.

Tonight brings this fun evening:

The Simpson College Chamber Singers and College Choir join forces with a festival orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Timothy A. McMillin, to present Ralph Vaughan Williams' masterwork, Dona Nobis Pacem and one of the most popular pieces of music ever written: Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

3/29/12

80's this weekend!!!

Looks like it will be around 88 degrees on Sunday for the first Psycowpath XC race over in Bellevue. That's about what it was last year - perfect!

I took some time after work today to get the JET 9 up to date for the race season. Rassy's rebuilt my REBA XX which had some oil/air leak which needed repair as the fork was getting about 1" of travel. I dropped it off on Monday and picked it up Thursday after work.

The bike needed cleaning and while at it I put new rings and a chain on and made sure everything was in fine working order. I overhauled the Xpedo Ti/Ti pedals and installed a new pair of 180mm RaceFace Turbine cranks I had sitting in the parts bin that I picked up on eBay last year. They simply replace another pair of 180mm Turbines that are due for some cosmetic color reconditioning. Those were originally yellow and I stripped them down to silver, but never added a clear coat. So some oxidation has taken place to the metal and they are in need of some work. This time I will add a clear coat. With the White Industries 162g BB or Race Face Taperlock Ti 166g BB, the old style square taper Race Face Turbine cranks/BB/Ring combo are so dang light - it's nice for an XC race bike.

New Race Face Vintage Turbines and Rotor Q Rings

I thought about new disc brake pads, but it looks like I've still got some mileage left in the pair on the bike - so I'll wait on that.

I put new tires on for the race season and went with the highly touted and rated 'all-grounder' Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25's front and rear for the JET. They are not that much lighter than the 2.35's, but the 2.25's are big enough and have the same casing width as my worn out Ralphs. Plenty more grip - that's for sure - but they roll like the wind which makes for a nice fast tire that can be leaned over hard in corners.

JET profile 2012

I downsized from my Rotor Q rings 27/40 to the new 25/38's. The bike is ready to go.

JET ready to RACE for 2012

Yesterday was a rest day, and today will be an easy effort/recovery ride.

Three former students are meeting with me today. Annie Reser, home on spring break from the University of Oregon; Bethany Hickman, home on break from the University of Wisconsin; and lunch with Jesse Stock who is in town to sing the baritone solos in Orff's Carmina Burana this weekend at Simpson. It will be nice to catch up with all of them and hear them sing after all of that graduate schooling.

3/24/12

Spring has Sprung!

And for those of us with allergies - oy! I am sneezing my head off about a month ahead of schedule.

SNEEZE

The base building period on the bike has ended and I have entered a build phase which has increased the intensity. Racing starts this coming weekend on April 1 at Swanson. Here's a shot from years ago on that course...

Starting the 4th Lap

Last week was limited due to our trip to Boulder, so I used the end of last week and the beginning of this week as a rest/recovery 5 day period. I managed to get 8:50 on the bike after that this week and will ride again tomorrow (singletrack intensity) before taking Monday as a rest day.


December Weeks (hours on the bike)

1 - 3:20
2 - 5:10
3 - 4:00
4 - 8:15*

January Weeks

1 - 9:25*
2 - 6:25*
3 - 4:45
4 - 1:50

February Weeks

1 - 7:40*
2 - 3:40
3 - 7:10*
4 - 4:35
5 - 10:40*

March Weeks

1 - 11:50*
2 - 4:25
3 - 8:50*
4 - 8:30*

'Tis recital season and I am on my way to one of my student's junior recital tonight. Then off to a belated St. Patty's Day celebration over at Chuck and Gayla's with the full gang (in kilts nonetheless!!!).

3/19/12

Final Day of Winter!

Well, who'd of thunk it? The final day of this warm winter hit 85 degrees here in Indianola.

I suppose that 85 degrees is a very fitting end to what has been a rather warm, excellent biking winter. Spring 2012 officially begins early in the morning while we are all asleep in our nests.

I began day 1 of my XC race training today following my November - middle of March Base Training and the 4 day rest week while visiting Colorado. The intervals and tempo work today felt good as day one was not too bad compared to what is coming up in the schedule. I felt strong at the end of the workout and had full energy all day at work. Both are very welcome! The first race is 2 weeks away and will obviously not be a "peak form" race, but I feel better now that the tide is turning to building for the XC racing.

I picked up all the goodies needed to rebuild a REBA XX and a FOX F29 out in Boulder at a very cool bike shop. They had over 100 29"ers on the display floor including all models from Salsa, Specialized and a few others. I really loved the carbon FSR Stumpjumper from Specialized. 26.x pounds for a size XL full suspension 130mm full suspension bike. They wanted $9000 for it. That will involve winning the Lotto for me, so no go on that sweet piece of bike. This bike is HAWT!

$9K Stumpjumper

Anyway, I will rebuild my forks in the next week or two depending on my work/training schedule. The REBA XX needs attention first.

3/18/12

Eighty on 80...

...or something like that when it comes to our drive home today.

After spending a great morning in Boulder yesterday, we headed up to Ft. Collins taking the scenic route via the front range road (36) which was lined on both sides with cyclists out for their weekend rides. Boulder and Ft. Collins are filled with cyclists as it is a part of the lifestyle, so it was great to see so many out and about on their bikes.

We stayed at the Hilton next to the CSU Campus which turned out to be 4 blocks from my cousin's house. My cousin, Joan, was working until 3:30 or 4 (she trains horses), so while we waited we decided to go and hike at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. Mountain bikes, horses and hikers have plenty of choices between the 29 miles of trails. We headed out for about 90 minutes of hiking which was enough to get the blood flowing and work up an appetite for dinner. The sun was blazing, temps were in the 70's and the altitude and terrain reminded me a lot of the "front range" of the Black Hills.

Horsetooth

We headed back to the Hilton, got showered and dressed and went to pick up Joan. She took us out to where she works to show us her 6 horses. Hey, she even had one named Max and one named Zoey (our Labs)! The stables were beautiful and so were all of the horses. I liked the one named Bear because he was 17+ hands high and looked like a good size XL which I would probably hop aboard for a ride.

We did a tour of Ft. Collins and then headed to a place called Cafe Vino. They serve a Tapas Menu where you order lots of items and share them. We had bacon wrapped dates, duck confit, mushroom pate, hummus, and a few other items along with some fine vintage and lots of conversation. We stopped by Joan's house when we dropped her off to meet Collin and a friend of his that were just getting back from skiing at Steamboat Springs. We visited for another hour, said our good-byes and headed back to the Hilton for a good night's sleep. It was good to touch base and catch up with Joan. She looks great and is in phenomenal shape. It's hard to believe a horse stepped on her and crushed part of her pelvis just 4 years ago. She seems really happy with the horse training and lessons she is giving.

We drove up I-25 to Cheyenne and headed east on 80 all the way home. I pretty much kept it on 80 for the entire time I was driving (hence my Eighty on 80 title). The wind was howling from the south which made it difficult driving thanks to the box shape of the Element. We played tag team driving switching off every now and then to keep a fresh driver behind the wheel until the arms had tired from fighting the box in the wind. I only did about 5 hours of the driving coming home (did 8 on the way out).

Alexa really likes Boulder and the University. She thanked us for taking her. For the kind of an investment a college education is, the trip was well worth it to help her in the decision making process.

Time for bed and back to work tomorrow...

3/17/12

Beautiful Boulder!!

Day 3 in Boulder is like day one and two were in terms of the weather - 75 to 78 degrees, sunny and beautiful. The food, people, views - it's all really stunning. Everyone is so nice and we have enjoyed this college visit.

We toured the Leeds School of Business yesterday at the end of our full day on campus with hundreds of other prospective students and parents. The day began at 8 am with our introduction meeting and then we divided up into groups to tour the campus. We sat in on a Physics lecture before reassembling to get more instructions on the rest of the day. We had a great Persian lunch in one of the dining facilities (had a choice of 12 different restaurants), saw a model (and clean) dorm room, and then divided up into a parent group and a student group for panel discussions with students and admissions. Finally, we toured individual schools within the university to learn more about their programs. Alexa is interested in marketing and P.R., so we headed over to the Leeds building for that tour...

Here is the business school building on the east side of campus...

Leeds School of Business

Another view on campus...

CU Campus

Overview of Boulder shot...

boulder

Number one asked question: "Why is it called CU if it is the University of Colorado?" Seems like the only answer everyone could provide was to avoid any conflict with the University of California (UC). Oh well, traditions always have an odd beginning...

Will Alexa become a Buff?

Buffs

We shall see. The application process was explained to us with all of the stats. Early consideration status is due this December 1st for the fall of 2013. They had 20,000 applications this year for the 5000+ or so freshmen slots (total school is 25K undergrads and 5K grads). The majority come from Colorado, California, and Texas. However, every state is represented at CU in each freshman class. The 2011-12 freshmen class has 9 students from Iowa in their class.

We hit the Sink on Thursday night for dinner. Last night we ate on Pearl Street in the walking section at a place called Salt. Both were excellent meals. The facilities at UC Boulder (or CU as they call it) were impressive and Alexa feels really good about the campus, the people and the "vibe".

Today we will have breakfast on Pearl Street, do a little more shopping, drive around town a bit more and then head north to Ft. Collins for a bike ride or hike, have dinner with my cousin Joan and stay overnight.

3/14/12

Mired in Committee Work...

'Tis the busy season for committee work which seems to be draining me of a lot of energy. Miles to go today on a project. On top of that, I'm busy trying to figure out some forms with regard to required embedded skills in a class I will be teaching this fall on the Holocaust. I found myself literally staring blankly at some forms the past 48 hours...but I did manage to get one finished yesterday and will start the other one today.

I mounted up another Nobby Nic 2.35 on the rear of the RIP for some blasting through trails. At least on pavement testing in the neighborhood, it seems to roll as fast and easily as the 2.4 Ralph back there. Not a bad weight for the pair as the lightest was Nic came in at 720g. The Ralph 2.4 (640g) just doesn't hold sealant well (have to add it far too often as the sidewalls are so thin). Hoping the Nic does what I need in the rear.

Nics

Heading to Boulder tomorrow with Alexa for a campus visit. Hmmmm....I wonder what the trails are like in the Boulder area at the moment........

In the meantime, it's going to hit 84 today (not bad for a winter day in Iowa). I'm heading out for a 2 hour pre-work ride to calm my nerves and keep my training on task.

Update: What a great ride!!! 2:15 with lots of dirt...

3/11/12

Spring Break ends....

Now that spring is here with temperatures in the mid 60's to 70's, my official spring break from Simpson is ending this evening. I can't say that I didn't enjoy my week of endless puttering, eating, bike riding, working on some paperwork, fixing things, etc... . I enjoyed it and the lack of need for any brain power. It was nice to just shut down for a bit and recharge the mental batteries. But now, I have to jump back in full bore this afternoon getting ready for the work week (preparation for a meeting, two applications for a new course to prepare, schedules to adjust, rehearsals to organize, etc...).

I managed to get in 2 solid weeks of base building where my legs had a cumulative effect of fatigue at the end of each week. 10:40 on the bike in the previous week, and yesterday ended the past week with 11:50 on the bike. Both weeks, although part of the final block of base building for me, ramped up with the introduction of some intensity and additional volume to push myself out of any plateau I was stuck in from the prior block. I know I pushed myself this week because I broke out with a cold sore yesterday which usually happens when I hit my upper limits of training.

Yesterday, my riding week ended with a group ride at Banner Pits to hit the dirt which was in primo condition after drying out all week long. 8 or 9 of us met up at 11 a.m. for a pair of laps at Banner. I took the RIP with the big meat on it (Nobby Nic 2.35 up front and Ralph 2.4 in the rear) since my REBA XX on the JET is not working and needs some work (not getting full travel and the thing is as stiff as a board which means full overhaul time).

RIP with NIC/Ralph combo

Squirrel, Matt, Bob and T.J. blasted off the front and I latched on for the leg burn. T.J. dropped his water bottle and Bob stopped to pick it up. I cranked it up to latch on to Matt and couldn't believe how well I was doing considering my legs were pretty fried from all the volume the past 2 weeks. The good news is that all the base has me feeling very prepared and the body was responding in kind even though I was pushing around the big RIP with the fat tires. Finally, I had to dial it back and let the 3 in front of me go as I was about to blow a gasket. I hooked up with T.J. at the end of lap one while Matt and Squirrel dove in for their 2nd lap. T.J. and I waited for everyone else to do a 2nd lap which was done at a more relaxed tempo (although now I was warmed up and itching to push it). Beers and discussion followed the laps and fun was had by all as we stood there in the 25 mph warm winds.

I got home and my new helmet to match the team kit had arrived.

It's the Bell Volt with Jimbo Phillips Eyeballs. I got a 27% discount online which meant the price was not as ridiculous as my initial reaction to the $175 sticker shock. I ran a cheap Giro last year, so figured I was do for a better helmet this year. I've used Bell helmets in the past and love their sizing and comfort, so this one looks to be good to go...

P1010003

Voltness...

Volt rear

I'm taking the day off from exercise outside of some recovery and working on paperwork. The legs need the recovery before beginning my final week of this last base building 3 week block. I'll taper the volume in this week, but add intensity. It's nice that the weather will co-operate. 73, 72, 75, 73, etc... for this coming week. Sweet....!

3/8/12

Banner Pits Loop!!

Temperatures only hit about 48-50 today for a high with sunshine and the wind out of the north. I decided to wait and do my training ride in the afternoon, rather than morning, to give Banner Pits time to dry out from yesterday's rain and let the wind do its magic blowing from the north.

I dressed up in layers and the ride to Banner was downhill and against the wind which made for a nice warm-up. I turned into the singletrack starting with Riverside and was pleasantly surprised to find it even drier than earlier this week. I stopped here and there to use my favorite golf club (the foot wedge) to move limbs and branches off of the trail. I hit the north side and found my stride as I was making my way around the loop with improved fitness from all these weeks of base training. I saw Bob Matthews and Elaine Kaye removing a fallen tree and stopped to visit with them. They were both on their fat bikes. I put my Sinatra back in my ears with the iPod and headed off to finish the loop. Riverside, northside, Corner Pocket were all in good dirt shape. Tacky would be the word and ready to ride. Nude Beach was just like plastilina clay and although it is good to ride, it's going to take some warm weather, sunshine and wind to dry that out a bit more.

I will hit Banner again tomorrow and Saturday (group ride planned at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Banner) before the rain hits on Sunday. Temperatures climbing into the 70's next week as we head into the final week of "official winter".

It feels good to be out on the dirt again with the mountain bike! 9+ hours this week so far and I have started to ramp up the intensity to force more of the training effect to make sure I am not stuck in a plateau and build for the XC racing that is coming. The loop itself at Banner adds all of those power climbs which helped, as did the tacky conditions which meant more power was required to keep moving. I did various intervals on the way home to round out my 2:20 on the bike. Legs are starting to feel cooked which is good - I want fatigue build up by the end of the week to let me know I am not stuck in a plateau. I'll probably take Sunday off and hit it hard again Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Boulder, CO on Thursday.

I just finished watching my college roomate's son play in the Class 2A semi-final basketball game (Clarinda vs. St. Edmond). Clarinda tied the game with 3 seconds to go in the 4th quarter which forced an overtime. Unfortunately for Clarinda, St. Edmond took control in OT and won by 14 points to advance to the finals against Mt. Vernon. Well done to Brandon Sweet and his team on making it to the semi-finals and for a good season!

Now, off to Des Moines to meet up with Tara and Alexa for dinner...

3/7/12

From 67 degrees to 40 just like that...

As the post title says, the temperatures climbed to 67 this morning, so I hopped on the bike for my 2 hour zone 2/3 ride. The wind was howling and literally blew me to Carlisle. How strong was the wind? I was in my big chainring (42T) upfront and my 11T cog in the rear for the trip northward with the wind blowing me there. I pulled off at Banner Pits to do a loop on the singletrack as the wind had been blowing and dried things out even more than they were yesterday. It felt sweet to be riding dirt again! Then on to Carlisle out in the open prairie. Wow! Was the wind ever strong. I knew coming back south and uphill against the wind would be a helluva grind, but I was prepared to sit and spin it out.

I made the turn at Carlisle and headed back south to Indy. The wind was fierce, but I was determined to keep the chain on the big ring up front and spin it out. Then, like the snap of a finger, the temperature dropped so quickly I was suddenly very cold in my short sleeve jersey. It started to rain and I wondered how damaged my iPod and cellphone was going to get without any protection. I thought about spinning to Banner Pits and taking shelter in the bathroom while I called my son to come and pick me up. But that would be too soft, right? I spun south when suddenly, the rain stopped. The wind stopped. And I could make some forward progress at a good clip. The temperature was still cold, but with the wind dying down, I wasn't so cold. My spirits improved and my cadence was a nice top end zone 2 flying up the hill from Banner to Indianola. All in all, I arrived at home not tuckered out and the day's training balanced out in a very nice manner to achieve the ride's goal. I should have checked the weather and had another layer with me, but I just assumed the cold temps were coming in the evening. My bad. At least I got my volume in as base training winds down this week. The 1st XC race of the season for me is 25 days away, so after this week ends I will start to ramp up the intensity.

Tara, Alexa and I met with the food service/catering people at Simpson today to talk about the post double bat mitzvah celebration on Cinco de Mayo. We came up with an excellent menu, layout and plan for the event.

3/6/12

76 degrees and 2+ Hours outside including DIRT!!!

14 more days of "winter" and we hit 76 today. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The wind was strong enough yesterday and today to dry out the top surface of the land which meant I could hit some dirt at Banner Pits this afternoon. I got a full loop in at Banner even though I was the first to lay tracks over the deer track damage from the past month or so. It needs another day or two of winds and warm weather without freezing at night to make it dry and be even faster, but it was DIRT. And we all know how much fun it is to ride dirt...

The pastrami smoke was excellent. 8 hours on the Big Green Egg (2 tips and 2 flats), sauerkraut, home-made rye bread, dill pickles, succotash, chocolate cake, wine and friends made for a pleasant evening's meal.

I managed to get Alexa's mini-van fixed today (had a belt squeaking, a power steering line leaking, a burned out turn indicator light), tinkered with 2 of my bikes, cleaned the garage, did a 2:20 ride to Banner and back with a full loop at Banner, gave Zack a voice lesson, and cooked the evening's meal. Productive day indeed.

Tomorrow looks to be 65, but rain is coming. So we shall see what that does for training time on the bike...

3/5/12

Coffee woes...

I started my spring break off by dumping an entire cup of hot coffee on my Mac laptop. Toasted most of the contact points for the keyboard and the computer is history. I am currently using my Simpson laptop and probably just going to move all my data over to it and become a laptop commuter.

Coffee woes continue today...

Tara was washing the glass carafe last night from our coffee maker and it cracked in the sink. It was our backup carafe as the original had broken 2 weeks ago. So no coffee this morning. I'll be going to the store to get a couple more today (after a stop at Uncommon Grounds).

Spring Break Day 3 today and the sun is shining. I am hitting the to do list today and tomorrow to take advantage of the sunny weather and warm temperatures. Some repair work on the Mercury Villager van, some garage cleaning, some gardening, some messing around with bikes in the garage, and it's time to smoke some meat for my annual pastrami smoke.

My bike training weeks are Sunday to Saturday, so the first week of March just started for me yesterday (Sunday). The plan for this past week and this week was to notch up the base miles before moving into more serious intensity (although I've already been moving into intensity to create more training effect). Did I meet the goal of notching up the volume? Yup. 10:40 on the bike for last week! I can say that 10:40 on the bike last week followed by 2:15 on the bike yesterday drained my tank. I had to dig deep yesterday to complete the ride. I'll take today off the bike and work on my to do list while the legs find themselves and recover.

November Weeks (hours on the bike)

1 - 4:20
2 - 7:15*
3 - 3:30
4 - 2:00

December Weeks

1 - 3:20
2 - 5:10
3 - 4:00
4 - 8:15*

January Weeks

1 - 9:25*
2 - 6:25*
3 - 4:45
4 - 1:50

February Weeks

1 - 7:40*
2 - 3:40
3 - 7:10*
4 - 4:35
5 - 10:40*

March Weeks

1 - 11:50*

The asterisk * marks the weeks where I hit my volume goals of at least 6 hours on the bike. Although only hitting it 8 weeks in base training looks bad, it's a new record for me to get that much volume in during the off-season. A lot of that has to do with the weather and organizing my schedule as best I could.

I found this cool Bell helmet that looks like it would mate well with our new kits...

Possibility?

Looks like it would pair well with the kits...

jersey revision for team

3/3/12

Spring Break!!

Enough said.

Started the break off by going to bed at 8:45 last night. Yoohoo! Most of that had to do with a very busy work week combined with 9 hours on the bike which had me running on fumes Friday afternoon. Today, I'll shoot for a final 2 hours outside on the bike to round out my next to last week of base training.

3/1/12

March is HERE!!!!

Every November I always think March seems miles away as fall wraps up and winter rolls in during Decembe while the temperatures drop. This year has been a stellar "winter" in terms of the winter that was not, so the wait didn't seem too bad at all moving through December, January and February with all of the 50's and 60's we saw for temperatures. In spite of that, March is now here. The official start of spring is only 20 days away...

Happy birthday to big sis Becky today who turns 52! Wow! Talk about time flying...

I managed to get in 2:10 before work yesterday in winds that were gusting 50-60 mph. Going to Carlisle with the wind, I was spun out most of the time on my JET 9. I knew that meant coming back against the wind was going to be a torture. It was - at least in terms of the time it took to pedal the 13 miles back. The windchill was so cold (even with a temp around 40), that for the first time this "winter", my toes got chilly in my Shimano shoes. They were good for the first 90 minutes, but coming back against winds that strong the feet got chilly due to me only wearing a thin dress sock. My bad.

Today is sunny, not windy, and will hit 55. I hope to get at least a 60 minute recovery ride in this morning before work or this afternoon after work due to the forecast for rain on Friday. It's supposed to climb up to the mid 60's by Tuesday - perfect for Spring Break!!! Still can't get on the trails after 9 am due to the freeze thaw cycle. So it continues to be bike trail, gravel and pavement base miles.

Yesterday was a delight at work and is a reminder to pinch myself every now and then. Delibes, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, Ravel, Poulenc, Faure, Milhaud, Korngold, Finzi, Weatherly, Donaudy, etc... all day long in my voice studio with the students. I finished off the leap year February 29th day attending a piano concert at Simpson featuring alum Bryan Stanley playing Couperin, Mozart, Chopin and his own recent compositions about Maui. And had a piece of homemade cheesecake (from Zach's birthday) to boot. Not a bad day at all...