3/30/14

Psycowpath #1 Swanson Shoot Out race report...

Welcome to the Nebraska Lottery Psycowpath Mountain Bike Trail and Running Series!!!

Those are the words that greeted us loud and clear by series director, Ryan Feagan as he jawboned his way through the day on the wireless microphone as the ever entertaining up to date announcer an all matters racing.  Many of us had to keep pinching ourselves that we were actually crawling out of hibernation from a long winter and about to race our mountain bikes - even though many of us had not ridden on dirt since last November.

I drove over and arrived about 11:15 AM in time to register.  Nebraska, like Minnesota, made the decision to not go with USA Cycling this year - so that made registration easy and less costly for everyone involved.  After I got my number plate on the bars, and the timing chip secured to the leg of my fork, I headed out for 20 or so minutes of warm up in temperatures that were still nippy enough to require pants and my cycling coat with full finger gloves.

The sun was shining and I saw a lot of smiles as people were happy to be out racing to kick the season off.  I don't know the full count, but I think they had over 200+ racers there which is very encouraging.  We actually had enough guys in each age group to do start waves with my group getting our own start.  There were 11 of us pre-registered for the 50+ group...

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Once we were off, the opening sprint had me tailing along in 4th...

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That's Tom, Jerry, Mark, and myself.  Tom won everything last year in Nebraska, so he was the marker.  Jerry and I have traded spots off and on for a few years now.  And he's looking svelte and trim again this year which means he's ready to race!!!  And Mark had me at the line last year at Swanson and has beaten me at Ida Grove - so it was going to be a fun day.  There was a pretty big group of riders out on the course doing the Marathon and since our group was the last in the start waves, we caught up to a lot of slower riders from groups that had started in front of us.  Sterling recently rebuilt my REBA XX fork as it was shot.  I noticed immediately what a huge difference it made to have a functioning fork with nice squish up front.  Wow!  It felt great!!! 

Tom and Mark moved around Jerry at some point in the first part of lap 1, and I followed suit to move into 3rd place with Jerry settling in behind me.  I hung with Tom and Mark for a good part of lap 1 and kept getting stuck behind riders they were passing.  Often, there is time for 1 or 2 guys to pass in a section, but not always enough time or space for a 3rd guy to also go around.  So, I kept being the odd man left out on the passes.  Little gaps started to open up between the lead two and myself, and after I finally would pass a rider or group of riders I would work hard to close that gap hoping to hang on for as long as I possible.  After we crossed the road and headed up into the northeast section of the course, the traffic was really heavy and Tom and Mark pulled away on the climb as I got stuck behind a half dozen or so.  The deeply rutted berm turns and section coming up made it difficult to pass and I had to be content to see them open up a pretty big gap on me. 

I settled into my rhythm and felt pretty good.  I knew there was a lot of race left and I would wait to see what unfolded.  I was surprised that my bike handling was just as good as ever in spite of not having any time on dirt outside of last weekends frozen dirt Banner loops.  As I mentioned above, the fork was like new and felt wonderful.  My new lighter body weight seemed beneficial on the climbs as I kept it in my big ring (38T) for the entire race with no issues.  The course was really fun as enough new little tweaks and features had been added since last year to make it really fun and IMO - an improvement.  Just little things like some logovers were fixed so you could take them at a higher speed, a couple of corners had received some new love and it had nice flow.  Unfortunately, somebody had been out on portions of the trail with horses which causes a lot of damage and some bumps, but the crew had done a great job whipping the course into shape after the long winter.  Kudos to the THOR (Trails Have Our Respect) for all of their excellent work.

By the middle of lap 2, traffic was not as much of a problem and I was usually able to pass pretty quickly anybody I came up behind.  I was pushing pretty good for this point in the season and saw no sign of Tom and Mark.  I didn't even hear Ryan mention their names when I was in earshot of the finish line.  So that told me they were quite a bit out in front of me.  Everything went pretty well for me and lap 3 was just fine, although I did feel a few twinges in the right leg on this lap as if my right leg was thinking about cramping.  We'd been out nearly 90 minutes and I wasn't really hydrating like I should have been.  Nevertheless, I crossed the line good enough for third place and a couple of minutes later Jerry Hoff came rolling in for 4th.  It was a few more minutes before 5th and beyond crossed the line.

Congrats to Mark Sullivan and Tom Jeffreys who took 1st and 2nd respectively...

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Mark powered in for 1st place just 2 seconds ahead of Tom - so they are riding strong and should make for a nice competitive series this year.  They had me by nearly 4 minutes - which is an eternity in a 90 minute mountain bike race.  I'll have to dig really deep to make up that kind of a gap!!

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I came home with a little bacon to start the year off on a good foot...

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You can see Ryan chatting up the crowd with the microphone over on the right as the old men enjoy their limelight on the podium...

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I had a burger after the race, then I went to use the Kybo and was shocked to see what I thought was blood in my urine!!!!  I freaked out and probably chewed everyone's ear off about it.  Turns out, I had a huge salad with pickled beets in it on Friday night and the "pink" in my urine was from the beets.  No blood, thank goodness.  It was nice chatting with Matt Gersib, Tom Winfield, Jerry Hoff, TJ Fort, Kevin Betters, Andre Rethman, Rob Cook, Katherine Roccasecca, Ryan VanHouweling, and a few others before I crawled in the Element for the 2 hour drive home.

A big thanks to Ryan and Roxy Feagen, Mark Herbst, and the entire crew for doing it right!  It's no wonder that many of us from Iowa enjoy driving over to race in the events that we can in the Psycowpath Series because they are done really well, the courses are great and it's not that far away for those of us in Central Iowa.

I got home, took the dogs for a walk, fed them and made a pizza just in time for Zack and Tara to pull in from the Schubert Club Finals.  We shared our stories, had the pizza and fell fast asleep...

3/28/14

Racing time!!!!

Tomorrow is the 1st mountain bike race of the year for me.  I will be heading to Swanson Park in Bellevue for the first of the Nebraska Psycowpath Series races this season.  Temperatures are forecast to be mostly sunny with highs in the 58-60 degree range (Sunday will be 77 and sunny!!!).  Race time should be about 50 degrees, so no worries about overheating.  In fact, I will want to choose appropriate clothing that keeps me warm, but not too warm.

The month of March, as reported in my previous post, has been the third month of my planned slow march south in the loss of weight.  Today's weigh-in was 174.8 pounds.  That's down from 180.2 on March 1st for a loss of 5.4 pounds or 1.35 pounds per week which is within reason for my cautious and calculated weight drop to not hinder training performance (1 to 1.5 pounds per week).  And it is down from 187 on January 6th when base training began.  The belt has moved in two whole notches as the waist has gone from 34 to 32 inches.  I still have a little bit of "skinny fat" that should be coming off - and as Tom Anderson suggested in the comment section of my previous post, 170 might be a good target area that I will certainly feel out on the trail when it comes to climbing.   

The past 12 weeks of my structured base training plan has used the set up in the basement of the LeMond trainer and the weights more than previous years due to the severity of this winter keeping me from riding outside more than but a few times.  I believe the secret to indoor riding is a comfortable set up that includes entertainment (big screen television), industrial floor fans blowing on me (and ceiling fans) to keep me cool, and equipment that you trust and are comfortable riding.

A picture that is a bit blurry due to my pedal stroke, but shows the view while on the LeMond at least includes some mindless entertainment...

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It's been a real gathering place in the evenings for my wife and I (and son) as we work out, watch sports or the Food Network, the news - or mindless episodes/movies.

Update on the Challenger Alamanzo tire...

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It took a few emails and photographs, but Challenger has agreed to replace my faulty tire.  Here is what they said...

Though not common, it is possible that someone touched the glue during production and it held long enough for the tire to make it through quality control. That tire is definitely covered by our warranty and should be replaced.  

That's good news, and I now have printed out the return labels and information to ship the tire back.  I'll have to use an alternative for the Rengegade Gents Race next Saturday as I doubt the new one will be here in time as there is not enough turn around time without going for Express Mail which ups the $$.  Too bad, as that is the main reason I bought the tires.  I could run the one Alamanzo that is fine on the rear, and pick up a Michelin JET 700x30c cyclocross tire up front - although the reviews I have read for that tire have not been very favorable for performance on gravel.  I'll get something figured out over the next week.

The Des Moines Register did a nice story and also had a video online that talked a bit about bike riding events on gravel here...



On tap for the weekend...

One of my senior students has her senior recital tonight at 8:15.  I will get to watch much of the Cyclones game before the recital since it starts at 6:27 this evening.  Zack heads to St. Paul tomorrow for the Schubert Club finals and I will head to Bellevue.  The Simpson College Madrigal Singers have their Spring Concert at 3 PM on Sunday.  In addition, Sunday promises a nice long gravel/pavement ride to work out the kinks from the race and take advantage of our first somewhat warm temperatures of the year.

Memories abound on important dates for all of us.  Today being my late mother's birthday...

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3/25/14

Was the wait worth the weight?

Weight and wait - both weighed in on me for Monday, 2014.

One being the step up onto the scale in the bathroom routine each morning for my "weigh-in".  I began the year with a goal of dropping weight.  The goal of how much moved around, but I had my sights set on 177 which I reached.  Whether that is, was, or will be my ideal race weight - I don't know yet.  I've been racing at 180-185 the past few years.  I'm keeping the calorie deficit game on for now to see what happens and have subsequently already moved below 177 on my way perhaps to a more ideal weight.  One that I had when running endurance races perhaps.  Who knows?

Regardless - I am now at the lowest weight I have been since arriving back in the US in the summer of 2003!!!  I now have shed this since January 6th....

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12 pounds may not seem like much when you look at it in the form of a hand held weight.  It is even less impressive when you actually pick it up.  In fact, after lifting weights the past several months - 12 pounds seems almost laughable and downright measly when held in your hand.   On paper it was 6.4% of my body weight which still doesn't seem like that much.  However, the actual discipline and time it takes to drop 12 pounds for me has taken a full 11 weeks. 



What about that wait?

11 weeks is a bit of a wait.  But it pales in comparison to other milestones such as 10 years.  Although I am about to finish my 11th year teaching at Simpson College in another month or two, I was honored on Monday along with others for our milestone years of service.  For me, I was in the group that was honored for 10 years which is the first milestone faculty and staff are recognized.  There was a reception in the Matthew Simpson room and the awards were handed out as we went up to the front of the room when our name was called and shook the hand of our new President, Jay Simmons.

My prize for 10 years of service was a glass paperweight...

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That's right -  a 10 year wait for the weight...

Speaking of weight and wait, I think it won't be long that our wait for Spring is finally finished.  Temperatures are due to soar up to 70 this Sunday!!!

3/24/14

Was that singletrack this weekend?

The weekend was stacked with a lot more than it should have been to make for a relaxing weekend, but c'est la vie.  It began with a Saturday morning singletrack ride - first for the year - to capture the dirt while it was still frozen with temperatures in the low 20's.  Yup.  This was my first chance to get out on the dirt due to the long and harsh winter that included snow pack and ice pack on the trails.  I don't recall a previous winter where I wasn't able to get out on frozen dirt a few times.

I was quickly reminded that in spite of all the work I have been doing on the LeMond trainer and on the road bike, producing the power needed for the short power climbs in singletrack is always an eye opening experience the first time you are laying down 170 - 180 bpm of the old ticker with the legs and lungs screaming back in pain.  In short, I have a ways to go to come into shape for this racing season!!!!  And it all starts this weekend in Omaha...

Needless to say, I worked up a sweat even though the temperature was 23 degrees.  I finished just as the trails were starting to get soft from the from the sun hitting patches and melting the freeze/frost.  The window of opportunity to ride on the weekend was created by temperatures getting so cold over night and providing frozen ground with early morning hours perfect conditions.  But that window shut quickly at about 10 AM as the sun started to melt the surface.

The Dos Niner was starting to get some mud splattered on it, so I pulled off the trail...

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There were several others out as well taking advantage of the small window of early morning opportunity.  I encouraged one rider that the window had closed and not to enter the Riverside trail.

I rushed home from the ride to take a quick shower before driving up with Tara to Des Moines for a luncheon meeting to talk about singing in the High Holy Days this fall.  After the lunch meeting, we drove right back to Indianola for meeting number one with the H&R Block tax office.  That meeting didn't allow us to get everything done in one hour as we had some issues to take care of with the 2012 return.  We had to leave after an hour due to another client and set up a Monday evening meeting.  The good news is an adjustment in what I paid for 2012 got cut way back to us only owing $27 to the IRS which is a way less than I paid.  So a refund is coming for 2012 from the IRS and the state of Iowa.  2013 will be decided tonight after we run all of the numbers.  After the tax meeting, we buzzed over to Hy-Vee for shopping.

When we got home, I got on the fire truck red Roubaix for a 2nd ride of the day on gravel to get my miles and duration in and to work out the legs from the singletrack eye opener.  The legs were cooked, but I worked out the kinks and got a good 50 minutes of gravel in before getting out of the cold, blustery wind.  After delicious kebabs for dinner, I don't really recall too much outside of watching some movies and falling asleep from the day's grind.

Sunday involved a very early morning frozen bike ride (18 degrees) again on singletrack to adjust to the reality of pushing myself harder off road and complete the 2 week training block of stressing my system.  I was pleased with the dramatic improvement from 24 hours earlier, and once again got my miles in before things started to turn soft on the trail.  I finished up with 30+ more minutes on gravel where some idiot in a white car approached me from head-on, and as he got close to me - he purposefully swerved way over to try and graze me even though I was riding on the edge on my side of the road.  WTF!!!!  That was a close call for me and a reminder there are crazies/idiots out there no matter where you are - pavement, or gravel.  Between that and the dogs wanting to chase me, it was more of an event than I wanted.  I buzzed back over to the car, loaded up and drove home contemplating what I had just experienced.

The RIP 9 got a bit of mud on it, but it was so cold the frozen chunks on the frame easily popped off when touched.

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I was done before breakfast, and then we took Alexa back to Iowa City since her Spring Break was finished.  I-80 was bumper to bumper as usual on a nice sunshine filled day.  We caught the Iowa State vs. North Carolina game and enjoyed the dramatic win.  Exhausted, I simply fell in bed again wiped out from the weekend.  And I didn't even get several things done over the weekend that I was hoping to get done. 

3/22/14

Gravel Tire Test...

The Challenger Alamanzo tires arrived on Thursday and of course I got them mounted up on my Roubaix as soon as I got home from work so I could see if they would even fit on my bike...

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They fit perfectly!!!!  

Unfortunately, one of them right out of the package and after I mounted it up, appeared to have a 1" - 1 1/2" section of tread separating from the casing which you can see in this picture...

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It seems the tread is attached to the casing in these tires much like an 18 wheeler retread tire.  I don't know if they use a glue to attach the tread or what the process is, but I assume that area shown in the photo above will just continue to work itself loose.

Who knows?

Needless to say, I was disappointed with the above tire, so a phone call was made.  I was directed to enter a claim process via their online connections.  That led to an entire email process ensuing with the company where I bought the tires involving me having to send pictures.  Final result from the company where I bought them, since they had nothing to do with the faulty product, is that they determined it was not their issue, and the issue has now moved on to Challenger directly for me to deal with them.  And of course, no response from them before the weekend started - so I will wait to see what happens.  I much prefer it when a store takes ownership, gives you a replacement and takes the faulty one back.  Oh well.

In the meantime on Friday morning before going to work, I did a 33 minute test on gravel with the tires figuring the one with the tread issue is going to end up as toast anyway whether I ride it or not.  So I went off for a nice little spin where I hit untouched by a grader winter hard baked in gravel, freshly graded gravel, a spot or two where new gravel was being dumped, and even one spot where the grader was working on some new gravel at an intersection crossing a county highway.  I hit some washboard bumps, loose gravel, chunky gravel, and pretty much all possible conditions I would face with regard to dry conditions.  I did two large hills to test handling at speeds over 25 mph and have to say - they are very capable and comfortable tires that are perfect for my needs to use the Roubaix on gravel and in a couple of events.  I ran the psi about 60 rear/55 front and lowered that a bit mid-ride. 

Here's a little video of me out and about on Friday morning testing out the Alamanzo tires on some Warren County gravel roads...



The bike after returning home from the test ride on Friday morning...

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I hope I can get a resolution next week with Challenger and get a tire that is not faulty to have in time for the Gent's Renegade Race.

3/20/14

Spring has sprung!

At least according to the equinox, today is the 1st day of Spring.  We're due for temperatures to hit 60 degrees this afternoon with sunny skies.  It could be a nice day for a bike ride after work!!  On tap for today is 5 x 8 Zone 4 intervals which, if you remember from my post below, that's the feel bad hard training zone.  Today is the inauguration of our new Simpson College President, Jay Simmons at 2 PM at the First United Methodist Church in Indianola.  Faculty will robe and be in attendance for the event while all afternoon classes are canceled.  There is a reception following at the Kent Campus Center - so it should be a nice day for this important event.  I'll take my ride following as the warmer temperatures should be around 5 PM.

Looks like the nice day we will have today as well as the favorable temperatures tomorrow will yield back to winter like weather for the weekend and most of next week as the mercury goes back into the 30's for highs.  More time on the trainer in the basement, so no problem here.  Ah...I won't put the snowblower away for the season just yet...

My gravel tires should arrive today and I look forward to seeing if they fit, and if so - how they perform compared to what I have been using.  I've been hitting some nice miles on my 25mm road tires due to the gravel still being in primo winter condition (as in they have not been out to grade or dump gravel to mess things up yet).  Before that, I had the Continental Twister Pros on which were not as "soft", but did offer the side knobs for a bit more sure footing.  The current gravel conditions will all change soon as the party gets spoiled and the ice cube size chunks get dumped and the graders come out to turn hard pack into drift and pray pack.

I guess I have not really worried too much about what kind of bike to ride on the gravel around here.  My mountain bikes work as does my Roubaix road bike.  I've blogged before that I learned to ride a bike in the 1960's on gravel only as I lived in a small South Dakota town that had all gravel streets.  Only the county highway that passed through town was paved - and we did not ride on that.  So my childhood riding knew nothing but gravel.  We all had bikes which were our main mode of transportation for a small town and getting around as a kid.  I rode to school, to friend's houses, "downtown", to piano lessons, out into the country to check my gopher traps on a daily basis.  I would be hard pressed to say that any of us worried about what we were riding.  We just rode.  And rode.

The next portion of my life that involved a lot of gravel riding was in Austria for the better part of a decade.  We lived just 2 blocks from the top of this picture.  The gravel roads/walking paths that went through the vineyards allowed us to enjoy going on foot or on bikes daily it seems like...

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Going in the other direction from our house and up the hills and deep into the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald) was an amazing network of gravel doubletrack called Fortstrasse(n)...

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This is where I spent a lot of time including doing rehab on my first torn knee from playing basketball.  The gravel roads led me to discover singletrack and thus began my interest in mountain biking.  The Vienna Woods are haunting, beautiful, and provided endless kilometers of gravel as well as singletrack for me...

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People rode whatever bike they had on the gravel paths/roads throughout the Vienna vineyards and woods.  Hybrids, road bikes, mountain bikes, kids bikes, it was all golden.  I had a rigid fork Trek bike with hybrid tires on it as well as a Trek 8000 XC hardtail bike that I would use for going up into the woods to hit the singletrack.  The XC bike got hundreds of hours climbing and descending those wonderful, and scenic Forstrassen.

We have some nice hills here in Warren County, but nothing like the Vienna Woods where there were 20 - 40 minute sustained climbs with the rewarding descents where speeds and length of the descents required me to run 185mm rotors front and rear on my Avid Mechanical Disc Brakes.  No such need here in Iowa for such powerful braking.

I do enjoy riding three prime things here in Iowa.  The paved bike paths because it removes the danger element of interfacing with cars/trucks (except at road crossings).  Singletrack/doubletrack.  And the gravel roads - again for the scenery and relatively safer element than riding on paved roads where there are so many cars and trucks.  To coin a phrase from Brian Pottorff - "run whatcha brung" - is my motto for riding around here and I don't worry too much about which bike I reach for to do a ride (unless it is an XC race).  However, all of that being said, I am curious how these new tires will feel and perform on the Roubaix for gravel riding due to the current conditions on gravel not lasting once the graders and dump trucks hit them.

Happy Spring Everyone!!!!

3/17/14

Suriving Spring Break on a diet of Zone 2 and my annual St. Patty's Day Smoke!!

It's back to work for me today as Spring Break 2014 has come to a conclusion.  Spring Break is just starting for my wife and daughter as I picked up Alexa from the University of Iowa Friday afternoon and brought her home for the week.

Two traditions continued for me during break...

The first is to get as much mileage outside on the bike as possible to celebrate coming out of winter and from all of those hours on the basement trainer.   The second annual tradition is to smoke some corned beef after soaking it in a bucket of water for 12-24 hours to get the salty brine rinsed out of it so it becomes pastrami.  Boiling corned beef in water with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, etc... is the method to draw the salt out of the meat in the traditional sense.  I like my method as it adds the wonderful taste of smoke to it for a traditional pastrami.

The first tradition had me doing consecutive 2 hour rides on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  Although Zone 2 is a non-racing power and heart rate zone, the cummulative effect of doing many hours of it in a row and on consecutive days provides plenty of training stress to hopefully put some base in your tank and boost your FTP a little bit.  It would be nice to have the time and weather to do multiple weeks (say 2 or 3) in a row, but Iowa did not provide that this year and it's a bit of a sidetrack from the structured plan I am following, but I do like to at least get a week of it in during my breaks.

By Wednesday, I felt the cummulative effect start to take hold.  I felt good enough to take the day off the bike and hit the basement gym to combine my upper and lower body work all into one mega session which gave me plenty of muscle soreness to pedal through on Thursday and Friday.

The promised temperatures of the low 60's did not materialize on Saturday as we all had hoped, but I did get out for my final and big ride of the week with the goal of knocking out 40-50 miles.  The prescribed ride called for a warm-up, then an hour in Zone 2, a half hour in Zone 3, and to finish in Zone 2.  The training stress of the entire week certainly made that Zone 3 effort against the wind going to Carlisle test my mettle.  However, in the middle of it I really settled into it and actually had to pull back a bit as I crossed over into Zone 4 for a few minutes.  I managed to get 35 minutes in the tempo and then dropped back to Zone 2 for the remainder of the ride back to the house for a nearly 200 mile week.  I now enter into my final 2 weeks of the base building period which will lead me into the first scheduled mountain bike race, and the Bike Iowa Renegade Gent's gravel race/ride.

The second tradition started early on the morning of the final long mile ride that Saturday provided.  I was up very early to start the fire, make the onion/garlic paste rub and load the brisket and pastrami into the smoker.

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I mopped it a few times before heading out on my ride...

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The meat was looking good at the 4 1/2 hour point before I left on my bike ride...

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We had guests coming over for Saturday night dinner to celebrate St. Patty's day a bit early, and I was a bit in fear I would need a huge nap when I got home from the ride after being up so early, walking the dogs, getting the fire going, preparing the food, etc... .  However, the 35 minutes spent in the 165-171 heart rate zone had the opposite effect on me.  It energized me, woke me up, and I was brimming with energy which lasted until about 9:30 PM and surprised me.

My colleague Bernard and his wife Susie came over for dinner, and I did final preparations between 4 and 6 which included vacuuming, making the baked fries, setting the table, getting the meat in foil and in the warmer to braise, and all the what not one does when company is coming over for dinner.

We warmed up with smoked salmon spread, crackers and wine...

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The fries were done, so I got up to get the meat sliced and the buffet all set up.   The meat looked spectacular.  Brisket on the left, pastrami on the right...

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And the spread was laid out and ready for consumption...

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It was a fun evening of socializing, enjoying the spoils of a 10-11 hour smoke, and unwinding before heading back to work for the 2nd half of the semester.

All in all, my two annual traditions for this time of year were upheld thanks to favorable weather/trail conditions to get out on the road bike and the opportunity to smoke some nice meat and enjoy it with others.

Zack spent the weekend in Lawrence, KS and in Kansas City where he saw Street Scene, La Boheme, a recital, and rehearsed with his accompanist Kyle for April 12th's Winterreise they are doing at Simpson.  Tara, Alexa and I went to Jordan Creek to shop on Sunday afternoon where I scored a new 11 x 17" non-stick baking pan on sale for 1/2 price at Younkers and a great cookbook from Barnes & Noble.  We met up with Zack at the Cheesecake Factory for a weekend ending family get together which was really nice.  They are great kids and Mom and Dad couldn't be more proud of both of them.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!  We have enough of the smoked meat leftover to celebrate a bit more this evening....  ;-)


3/13/14

Gravel Grinder tires on the way...

After stopping in at Rassy's, spending a lot of time last night reading reviews and products online, I decided to order a pair of the Challenger Alamanzo gravel race tires that are sized in 700 x 30c to have a go at an event or two and some gravel riding on the bike.  These tires are named after a gravel event in southern Minnesota.  Quite a few Iowa riders get on the roster and ride the event and one of them had recommended the tire to me.  Hopefully they will fit, and based on my luck with the Twister Pro 1.3's fitting fine in my Roubaix - I think I'll be okay.  If not, well the exercise will have been a learning experience.

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I've got plenty of Thudbusters (ST and LT) sitting around to soften up the ride if need be.  No worries there.  I rode some gravel today on my fourth 30 miler of the week (2 more to go) and of course the gravel is perfect right now in terms of fast and not chunky because they have not graded it or added new chunk as the snow and ice just melted this week.  Even my 25mm's did fine and I was flying for a few miles until I started eating dust from a bunch of cars and trucks going into Carlisle.  My go to gravel bike has always been my Dos Niner, but the Roubaix is a nice do all weapon and adds the advantage of tucking down in the drops when the prairie wind is howling.  If I can't get the tires sorted out, I'll just ride my Dos Niner.

What happened to Spring Break?!!!

Spring Break is flying by as usual.  I pick up Alexa tomorrow late afternoon from the University of Iowa for her Spring Break.  It will be nice to have her home for the week to catch up.

The good news for this week is that I have been getting a lot of outside riding in.  Nothing against all of the training I've been having to do inside this year due to the weather constraints, but it is really nice to get out on the actual bike and work the glutes/quads/calfs/core, etc... .  I have been maintaining my weight at 178 which involves a lot of eating to recover and fuel myself for the daily 2 hour rides I've been doing.  I did take yesterday off from a bike ride and did a full body weight lifting session that had me run out of steam at the 65 minute mark.  I also did 40 minutes of walking after that with the dogs which had me wake up today with the standard delayed onset muscle soreness. 

I worked on taxes a bit, met Cam Kirkpatrick for lunch up in Des Moines, and then headed out for my 5th outdoor ride of the year in 62-64 degree weather.  A lot of people were out enjoying the late afternoon and that was good to see.

Smart Phone App

Being new to smart phones and apps, I downloaded the usual suspects to try them out before figuring out what I like and need.  Well, need is a very loose term since I've had no trouble riding in the previous 52 years without any apps or phones.  Do I really need an app and smart phone?  It's fun to toy around with it for the moment.  I tried out my new Wahoo Fitness Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor today with my iPhone and the excellent Wahoo Fitness App.

Having the screen on full time with the MapMyRide App drained the battery pretty well of my iPhone on a 2 hour ride.  However, having the screen on full time with the Wahoo App for the same 2 hour ride still left 54% of my battery life.  Now that's perfect for my usual needs.  Otherwise, I could pick up the Wahoo RFLKT computer for $99 which allows it to communicate with your iPhone while it is asleep so your battery lige is not zapped.  The other alternative is to get an extra iPhone external battery to add 3-4 more hours of battery life.  However, my iPhone seems to be working fine as is for a cycling computer to meet my current needs. 

The screen shot is really easy to follow...

WahooApp

And the sharing works with Training Peaks and myfitnesspal along with plenty of others...

WahooSharing


I will consider myself set for the moment.  Whether or not I need all of that information remains to be seen.  For now, I will enjoy the novelty of having it all displayed on the iPhone (mounted on the stem with the Rockform) to view as I am riding the road bike.

Making my numbers...

I didn't quite make my numbers in February on the bike due to the flu knocking me off the bike that one week and slowly getting back into it (and skipping the long weekend sessions).

February 1 - rode 29.8 miles for a duration of 91 minutes
February 2 - rode 47.2 miles for a duration of 150 minutes
February 3 - rode for 30 minutes recovery spin
February 4 - rode for 19 miiles for a duration of 60 minutes
February 5 - rode for 10.1 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
February 6 - rode for 29.6 miles for a duration of 90 minutes
February 8 - rode for 28.4 miles for a duration of 90 minutes
February 9 - rode for 40 miles for a duration of 120 minutes
February 10 - rode for 3 miles for a duration of 10 minutes
February 11 - rode for 18.6 miles for a duration of 60 minutes
February 12 - rode for 10.4 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
February 15 - rode for 28.2 miles for a duration of 90 minutes
February 16 - rode for 8.6 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
February 17 - 21 - Got SICK!!! Took 5 days off the bike!
February 22 - rode for 9.9 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
February 23 - rode 22 miles for a duration of 60 minutes
February 25 - rode 20.1 miles for a duration of 60 minutes
February 26 - rode 10.1 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
February 27 - rode 23.6 miles for a duration of 75 minutes

Total for month of February: 358.5 miles/18:25 hours 


This month is going fine and hopefully I will be able to make my goals.  I need a big ride in there either tomorrow or Saturday to get me up over 50 miles. 

March miles to date...

March 1 - rode 28.6 miles for a duration of 90 minutes
March 4 - rode 9.8 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
March 5 - rode 9.3 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
March 6 - rode 19.6 miles for a duration of 60 minutes
March 7 - rode 10.1 miles for a duration of 30 minutes
March 9 - rode 28.97 miles for a duration of 2:03:49
March 10 - rode 31.61 miles for a duration of 2:06:11
March 11 - rode 29.28 miles for a duration of 2:04:15
March 13 - rode 33.9 miles for a duration of 2:00:59

Total for month of March: 201.16 miles/12:15:14 hours 



Factoring in 2 more weeks remaining come Monday, if I add in all of the weights, dog walks, and 9 pounds of weight loss, I feel that this base period has been pretty good to me.  I've been careful to try and maintain the weight where it is for a bit to see how it feels on the bike and for my energy levels. 

It's all in the Hand...

Tara made progress today at the dinner table doing her exercises for her hand.  She takes the splint off to do the exercises and for the first time, she was able to straighten out her hand.  It's going to take time, but the small steps along the way - especially just a week after getting the pin out - are nice to enjoy.

3/12/14

Training Zones explained...

Keith Wilson, the husband of Canadian professional mountain biker Catharine Pendrel participates on the MTBR.com XC racing forum and posted a funny, yet practical explanation of Coggan's 6 training zones in a discussion yesterday.

Catharine is a great rider and it's fun to hear what her husband Keith - who goes by the name of LMN on the message boards - has to say about competitive mountain bike racing and training.

Catharine...

CP

Rather than heart rate, watts, etc..., LMN said it narrows down to this...

1. Old lady pace
2. Chatty pace
3. Feel good hard
4. Feel bad hard
5. I am going to die
6. Flat out

Now that's some funny, but rather good stuff!!!   Especially when riding by perceived effort.

In addition to riding and racing on an amateur level himself, he also coaches a lot of athletes.  I always enjoy reading what he has to say with regard to racing and training.   Regardless, the simplified version of the 6 training zones has descriptions all of us that cycle, train, and race can relate to on some level.

Looks like I might get a pretty nice block of Zone 2 rides in this week after all.  Tuesday was day three of consecutive 2 hour rides and had me out in an absolutely crazy high wind where it was hard to keep the bike upright.  It's one of the strongest winds I've ever been out riding in with gusts in the 45-52 mph range.  Yup, I'm nuts.  I know.  Needless to say, I didn't see any other bikers out on the trail due to the conditions.  Imagine that...

How bad was the wind?  Branches were blown down all over town and along the tree lined Summerset Trail.  Out on the open flats I could barely maintain 10-12 mph even when pushing Zone 3 going the 15 miles to Carlisle.  Once I made the turn back south, I hardly had to pedal and I was buzzing along at 24-27 mph.  Talk about a nice prize earned after going straight into those mega-gusts for the first half of the trip!!!

Below is the ride summary followed by a short video clip as I looped through the pavement at Summerset State Park on the way back from Carlisle.  It's pretty much pointless to watch as you'll hear, but I just wanted you to hear the 45 - 52mph gusts which overwhelmed the iPhone's microphone.  And that was in the partially sheltered by the tree section of the ride!  I nearly blew over more than a few times on today's ride, but I got my 2:04:15 in for 29.28 miles no matter what the wind threw at me. 

TuesdayRide

Anyway here's the video with the wind totally overwhelming my chat (and me)....



What a wind!!!!

For whatever reason, I am wide awake at 5 AM this morning.  I've already made the coffee, chopped the kale and spinach, chopped the green pepper, chopped the onions, and chopped the mushrooms for this morning's eggs which Tara usually makes around 6:30.  I fell asleep at 9:30 last night, so that led to me waking up so early.

Time for my first cup of French Roast...

3/11/14

Big Zone 2 Week continues...

I am taking advantage of what Ma Nature is giving me this week.  I skipped my weight lifting session yesterday to ride in the 65-67 degree temperatures for another 2 hour ride primarily in Zone 2.  I'll switch things around this week to adjust for the weather.  Tomorrow will be cold, so I can do weights inside on that day.

Here was yesterday's first ride of the year in shorts!!!

MondayRide

Hard to imagine it was 5 degrees a week ago.  All snow is now gone, but the forecast says we might get an inch this evening.

Being Spring Break, it was a Simpson Faculty Day out on the Summerset Trail Monday.  I saw no less than 6 colleagues out doing the ride to Carlisle and back - plus one was running the route.  I ran into Ron Albrecht on his new recumbent as I was coming into Carlisle.  I told him I would catch up to him after I made the turn.  About 10 minutes later I caught up to Ron and we rode back to Summerset State Park and did a loop in the park.  Coming out of the park I saw Bob Matthews pulled over on the trail with his FAT BIKE talking to an avid walker.  He was in his shorts as well!!!  The glare from our legs required Oakley's to survive!  I said toodles to Ron and stopped to chat with Bob and Lisa.  Bob was out getting 30 miles in and enjoying the weather.  After 10 minutes of chit chat I figured I had better continue on up the hill to Indianola as I needed to get home to fire up the EGG to smoke the evening's meal.

By the way, according to Zack and Tara I outdid myself this time creating championship quality chicken.  Although I'm not a fan of using Mesquite wood on poultry - I did this time along with an herb rub of olive oil, garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper with a bit of paprika to top it off.  Yum!  Big time yum as these 2 organic birds locked in all the juices and after resting for 20 minutes in a foil tent following the 2 1/2 hour smoke - the treat was fantastic.  The taste was a big, bold Texas Mesquite smoke that brought back a lot of memories.  Reminds me that I want to do my next brisket with mesquite so I can have some nice Texas flavor.

We had one of the birds last night, and the 2nd bird we'll have in a salad tonight.  The weather looks favorable for a ride (46 and windy) at the moment, so I'm heading out for another 2 hour Zone 2 session.  I hope to get one in on Thursday (will include my Zone 4 work), Friday, and Saturday as well to take advantage of the upper 40's and low 50's that Ma Nature is throwing at us with sunshine this week.  That means, I will be moving my workouts around a bit and shifting things from the normal schedule to get what I can this week.

On the road again...


3/10/14

Schubert, Bronchitis, March, Spring Break, Biking Outside!!!....

Talk about a conglomerated blog post title!


Schubert

Zack entered the Schubert Club competition in St. Paul.  The first round was on Saturday, March 8th, so we drove up on Friday night after school/work was out and arrived at our motel around 10 PM.  We had dinner and hit the hay.  He sang on Saturday morning at 10:07 and was allowed a 5 minute time slot to sing as much of his two numbers that he could.  He sang all of Schubert's Die Taubenpost, and started the Count's aria from Le Nozze di Figaro in the middle in hopes of getting the final presto section done within in the 5 minute time limit.  The judges stopped him right before the last phrase with the top F#!!!  Oh well...I guess we timed that out incorrectly.

The good news is, that he got an email when we got home that he had made the finals (11 singers made the finals in the advanced division).  Since he just turned 21 on February 28th, he's the youngest in that division.  Nonetheless, it's exciting he made the finals and returns to sing again (without a time limit) both of his numbers on Saturday, March 29th.  Another former student of mine who is in graduate school at the University of Minnesota also made the finals.  So that's exciting.


Spring Break, March

This is the Simpson Spring Break week, so I get to do taxes, ride my bike, cook, work on Winterreise with Zack and recharge my batteries to combat this bronchitis I have.

I pretty much have to pay my respects to all my fellow Minnesota cyclists on the severity of the winter they have endured.  True, I've complained along with everybody else down here in southern Iowa about the winter we have gone through, but it pales in comparison to what they have had up in Minnesota.  There is still about 3 feet of snow and ice on the ground in that area and temperatures are still low enough not to melt any of it.  It looks like the tundra and will be quite a bit of time before it all melts and folks can get out to ride "safely".  We stopped at REI on the way out of town and they haven't even started to set up the bike stuff yet (like they already have in Des Moines in stores like Scheel's) as the REI is still set up for snowboarding and skiing.  Buck Hill was full of skiers and boarders enjoying the Saturday temperatures of 20 degrees and nice amount of snow.


Biking Outside

In spite of March being here, we are officially still in winter until Spring hits on March 20th.  Yesterday and today are giving us a nice taste of Spring, but a storm with snow will move in tomorrow for a couple of days.  Looks to warm up into the 50's again by the end of the week. 

Lots of snow still in the fields and ditches from Ames on north up to the border.  We are pretty fortunate down south of Des Moines as we are pretty much 95% melted and experiencing some Spring like weather for a few days.  Yesterday hit 57 and today will hit 65.

I took my 2nd outside pavement ride of the year yesterday for a nice 2 hour Zone 2 ride in howling winds.  It's hard to imagine I have been riding in the basement on the LeMond for 3 months, but welcome to winter 2013/14!!!  I hope this week is the turning point for much more outdoor riding.  The first mountain bike race is scheduled 3 weeks from now in Omaha provided things dry out enough in time.  So it's time to get some outdoor pavement miles.  As good as riding indoors is to build my base, outside is a bit of a different ball of wax.

Here's an attempt at a video to show the conditions of the Summerset Trail that runs from Indianola to Carlisle....





I met my 2 hour goal pretty well and enjoyed riding outside.  The wind made it a nice grind home from Carlisle as I was riding dead into it.


Summerset


I saw a lot of walkers out yesterday - especially near Indianola and Carlisle.  I didn't see very many cyclists out enjoying the conditions.  Perhaps many don't know that the trail is clear of snow and ice (except for one spot in the Summerset State Park area).  That should all be melted by the end of Monday just in time for more snow (1 - 2") falls.  It's not my favorite time of year to ride a road bike outside as the streets are covered with the sand and grit they dump on the streets all winter long.  It seems like they don't clean that off of the streets until later and later every year, so it's here for another month or two making bike maintenance a key priority to keep the grit from lessening performance.  It's one of the main reasons I really wanted a road bike with disc brakes, but they just weren't really available in my size last year when I purchased the Roubaix.  This year, there are plenty of Roubaix models with disc brakes to choose from (along with other brands and models as well), but I already have my bike.  So, rim and brake pad maintenance will remain routine maintenance for me to ride outside this time of year.

Here's the date from yesterday's jaunt...

Summerset2


I got home, showered and we headed up to Des Moines to celebrate Zack's 21st birthday as we didn't have time to do that last weekend during the opera.  He wanted to go to Splash, but they were closed.  So we hit up Exile and had a great time.


Spring Break Continues....

More on tap for today in terms of riding the bike.  The wind is calmer today and if temperatures hit 65, I might be able to even ride with bare legs and arms!!!!   I'll probably use a long sleeve jersey or arm warmers though.  And I am diving head first into the taxes to get things all spread out on a few tables and start organizing it all - painful that it is...

On tap for tonight - smoking 2 organic birds on the Big Green EGG!!!! 


3/5/14

Winter is dwindling down...

.....or is it?  That is the question!

Today found me doing my usual 2 dog walks.

The first was this morning and it really didn't feel that cold outside as we cruised through our walk.  It seems - as I mentioned before - that nearly everyone in my neighborhood has given up and tossed in the towel when it comes to shoveling their sidewalks.  That's unfortunate for me and for the kids who walk to school.  In fact, it is a bit dangerous walking out there for those of us who must plod on through the winter no matter what.  I slipped 2 times today on the ice and crud underneath the freshly fallen snow, but didn't go down this time.  However, the 2nd time I fought it so hard (not to fall) I yanked my hip flexor big time and hobbled back home to take some Ibuprofen.   It may have been easier just to fall as I really pulled something in there!!!!!

The evening walk after work was on a route that had me off of ice and snow covered sidewalks.  It was really cold thanks to a wind chill in the single digits.  I headed over to the fields just south of us for a nice romp with the dogs.  Looking at the forecast and knowing where we are in the calendar - it may have been the last really, really cold walk of the winter.

Or at least I hope so....

I managed to get Max and Zoey to both sit long enough for me to snap a picture of them out in the field behind the elementary school near our house where we walked this evening about 5:20 PM.

image

As you can see, there is very little snow left on the ground and tomorrow's 40 degree temps along with Sunday and Monday's 50+ degree temps should melt what is remaining.  That's not to say more is not on the way, because it is.  But it feels like winter has got to start winding down here in the next couple of weeks.

Tara got her pin pulled out of her hand this morning and now has her hand in a small splint.  She will return next week for hand therapy.  After a few weeks of therapy, she sees the doctor in 5 weeks as a follow up.  It could take a full 6 months before her hand and arm are back to full strength which is just about in time for RAGBRAI!!!!

I am dealing with bronchitis.  I sound like a cross between a Model T horn and an angry German Shepherd every time I cough (which is pretty much non-stop it seems).  Mucinex DM, the Nebulizer, an inhalor, cough medicine at night, hot herbal tea, steam, etc...is the routine I am using to try and keep things as comfortable as possible.  It could be a few to quite a few weeks before it subsides.  Lovely!

In spite of that, my base training plods along day by day.  Today was a major upper body workout followed by a 30 minute recovery spin.  That helped work up a hunger for a lovely dinner.  I made a big vat of 15 bean stew in the crock pot with ham hocks, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, BBQ sauce, diced tomatoes, a fresh jalapeno and a few herbs.  It stewed for 10 hours and was a nice smokey treat for dinner.  Probably one of the best I have done this season.

Bike racing starts 3 weeks from Saturday if all goes according to plan with the Nebraska Psycowpath season opener with the Swanson Shoot Out.  The BikeIowa.com Renegade Gent's Gravel Race is the Saturday following that, so all the miles and hours I have been doing in the basement are about to be put to test.  I am looking forward to riding outside this Sunday and Monday as temperatures hit the 50's just in time for the start of my Spring Break!!!


3/1/14

March arrives....

....with 7" of snow along with 8 degrees and a howling wind.

Picture of the day is about how Tara and I feel at this point...

MarchGardening

Too funny for sure, but I think we can all relate even though in truth Spring 2014 is just around the bend.  We sure did need the moisture, so all of the snow has been very welcome for that.  Everyone is just up in arms because this is the worst winter since 1979.  C'est la vie....winter is winter when you live in a continental climate.  We got pretty spoiled with a couple of mild ones recently.


Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday to my son who turned 21 yesterday!!!  We had cheesecake to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to my sister Becky who is .......#% years old today!!! ;-)

Happy Birthday to Deb Hade today as well!!!!


Street Scene Opera Weekend

Last night was the opening night of Street Scene for Simpson College Opera and it was a huge success.  Zack was unable to sing due to having caught my flu/cold/bug.  Hopefully he can sing either tonight or tomorrow as he is getting better each day, but time will tell....

This is another prospective student weekend, so auditions and sample lessons mixed in with the performances will keep me busy today and tomorrow.

Alexa is here for the weekend visiting to see the opera, celebrate her brother's birthday and visit the home front.  She helped me pull out the treadmill from the storage room yesterday and get it set up in the basement gym.  I decided to do a 30 minute jog on it last night after work before the opera instead of my scheduled 30 minute recovery ride.  It felt pretty good and gave me a chance to try out my new running shoes.  I finished up with a spinach salad, turkey, veggies and a beer to round out my eating day with a bit too much of a caloric deficit than is wise. 

End result, I weighed in this morning at 178 to go sub 180 for the first time this year!!!!  A few more pounds and I should be at my target weight to switch to maintenance.
 
Yes, March is here, but winter is in full force today.  We are just hoping the 7" of snow will not prevent the orchestra from making it to play the show tonight!  We need the ticket sales and the show to go on....!!!!!!!