Banner is open for DIRTY business...!

Build week #1 is going OK so far with leg lifts on Monday, 3 x 12 Zone 4 intervals on Tuesday, and Wednesday called for upper body lifts with an hour recovery spin.  I more or less had to cheat on the one hour recovery spin due to the weather hitting 76 degrees and sunshine yesterday.  After being cooped up in the basement, or in heavy clothing to ride outside with temps in the teens to 40's - I just had to strip down to my kit and get some nice dry DIRT for the first time this Spring here in Iowa.

After work finished at 4:45 PM, I loaded up the bike in the Element and headed north to one of the local stomping grounds...


It was hard to believe the nice warmth as I drove along the county roads with the window down and arrived in the parking lot at Banner.  Bob Matthews was there, Randy Aldridge was just getting suited up, and along came Christy Cooney and Maria von Ruthenberg on their bikes.  So we headed out for a lap as a group.  The trail was in great shape and after we went through the section called Extra Credit, Randy told me to go on at my own pace.  I wasn't out for a race pace, but I did feel good and started to push it a bit and pulled away as I picked up the pace.  I passed quite a few riders that were out enjoying the day and the trails that were in really good shape considering the freeze/thaw cycle was in full effect last week.  I saw about 30 or so out and about enjoying the DIRT which was good to see.  I even came across a trail runner who gave me a pretty serious look that read "what are you doing on my trails with a bike" as I passed her iPod filled ears.

I had really been looking forward to testing my conditioning on local trails where I can get more of an accurate feel, or gauge, as to how I am doing compared to riding somewhere I am not used to riding (like Swanson 2 weeks ago).  Local trails that you have memorized, be it climbs, the turns, the connector sections, how you handle grunt climbs, what gear combinations you use, and nailing certain sections is a good test when compared to riding on a trail that you don't ride enough to have that kind of local knowledge/memory to compare your conditioning.   So this was the first chance for me this year to test that after all the pavement, gravel, and trainer miles.  I had high hopes as my pavement ride on Tuesday had me best my uphill interval by 36 seconds to set a new personal record for that uphill climb (from Summerset road to the stop sign by the water tower in Indianola).

What I noticed immediately on Wednesday at Banner is that my weight loss since January 6th (12.4 pounds shed to date) really helps going up the power grunt climbs.  I was staying seated and climbing everything in the big ring easily compared to last year where I had to get out of saddle and mash/grunt up the short steeps.  I was able to stay seated and push/pull my pedals and bars to power up everything with no troubles.  In general, I was a gear or two taller yesterday compared to last year thanks to the weight work, structured training, and weight loss.  Not bad - especially since I am just now starting the build phase.  The trail was pretty dry and loose which meant staying seated was the best plan of attack with the Renegade tires to prevent losing traction on the rear wheel.  I also turned Pro Pedal off to get more comfy squish and allow the bike's suspension to dig in and do its work to keep the tires glued to the trail. 

If rain doesn't come, this year - based on the trail condition right now - could turn out to be another Nobby Nic year to handle the dry and loose.  Time will tell on that.  A lot of that could be the frost burned, dried out upper crust will settle into the usual baked clay once some Spring rains move through and the trail gets ridden in a bit.  Regardless, Banner is open for business and I highly recommend everyone get out to get some dirt before the jungle starts growing.  According to all the Facebook posts yesterday, DIRTY FUN was had by all at Center, Sycamore, Banner and wherever anyone could put on a smile and pull out a mountain bike.  Talk about your polar vortex pent up demand!!!

I got 1:18:17 in on the bike before loading up and heading to Hy-Vee to pick up spinach and a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  In spite of cheating for my recovery ride, I managed to do only 15:24 in Zone 3, the rest was in Zone 2 and Zone 1.  I'll do my scheduled Zone 5 intervals tonight after work on the pavement.  On tap are 4 x 4 Zone 5 intervals which are guarateed to be painful - especially after cheating on my recovery spin day.

Yesterday was all about sun, fun, warmth, and DIRT!!!!


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