Back home again...

We had a whirlwind ten day trip to Vienna, Krakow, and Berlin to round out our 4 months in Germany.

Highlights: Thomas Hampson recital; Schloss Schönbrunn and the Tiergarten, the Belvedere; Prater; Naschmarkt; the coffee; biking in Berlin, Auschwitz; food in all 3 cities; great weather; seeing my daughter; seeing old friends.

These two old looking guys have sung over 100 performances together of numerous operas (Boheme, Zar und Zimmermann, Die Lustige Weiber von Windsor, Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Boris, and on and on...). It was nice to sit down and have dinner with Janusz Monarcha to catch up...


Our day at the Belvedere...


Good weather makes for good trips...


This critter was very curious about all of us...


I enjoyed the trip as did the students. Final farewells and tears were shared back in Schorndorf before we all departed on April 29th.

I got home in time for Zack's graduation on Saturday from Simpson College, and a visit from Dad/Grandpa to attend the event as well...

Then I jumped right into IMBCS Directing duties as we had our 2nd race of the season at Beverly Park in Cedar Rapids. Some of our new banners...


The usual first week of dealing with jet lag, having so much on the to do list you don't know where to start (grades, gardening, final reports, refrigerator shopping, IMBCS stuff) and of course, reconnecting with family and friends.

Beverly Park Race Report

The only dirt I was able to ride the past 4 months was during the Easter Week Spring Break at Banner Pits and Lake Ahquabi, and I tried out the new Center Trails last week to map our the Time Trail course for August 8th. In spite of that, this past week was week 12 of my base training plan and felt pretty good outside of taking 7 days off during our 10 day trip. I finally rented a bike in Berlin to get two days of riding in, but should have done that in Vienna as well to keep the legs and lungs on the up and up. A 7 day layoff is going to require a few weeks to get back to where I was and beyond, and I'm certainly attacking it now.

Sunday I was out the door at 7 am to head to Beverly Park with our new banners, my bike, and the Hammer Nutrition sponsorship drinks, goodie bags, and gels. The forecast was good with an early morning sprinkle that was supposed to give way to sunshine for the rest of the day. Suffice it to say, that once the Marathon, CAT III, and Junior races got underway at 10 am, a small green blurp on the radar suddenly mushroomed into a full fledged thunderstorm that went right over the race course. Torrential rain, lightening and thunder. We had to stop the marathon race and send everyone for shelter until it blew over. Luckily, the Kids Race, the CAT III, and the JUNIOR races were all completed before the thunder and lightening hit.

Decisions then had to be made once the storm had blown over following our options in the rules/guidelines. It's always tough, frustrating, and requires patience to work through the options and come up with the best decisions for the majority. However, that's what we did. We decided to have a 2 hour delay to let the sun and wind do its work, and restart the marathon at that time with the other XC races remaining - CAT I, COMP, and CAT II. Not everyone was pleased, but that's why we have rules and guidelines in an organization to follow. It's obvious that frustration swayed some people's choices which included leaving, not racing at all, or even making public comments about how it was all handled. I can understand that, as it is more on the rare side of things that an event has to be stopped in progress due to weather safety issues, or an injury.

Regardless, in working with the Race Director Noel Kehrt, his trail managers, the timer and his software, we were able to stick to the rules and guidelines that included weighing several options (using a rain date, using a rain delay, altering the course, canceling a race, restarting a race, etc...). In my opinion, all of the right decisions were made as after the 2 hour delay and a slight course alteration, those that remained were treated to perfect racing conditions as the water had absorbed into the dirt, the trails were dry, and the sun was shining. Tacky, hero dirt was what we faced at that point, unlike those that had raced in the morning during the sprinkles that turned to torrential downpour.

The group that was impacted the most was our new Marathon Category (we had 19 in that group out of the 105 racers who toed the line). That's unfortunate as I really want this category to take off. Many chose not to restart even with the suggestion that they had time to go to the laundry mat, wash and dry their racing outfits, and be back still with plenty of time to restart the race. I had to do that at a race in Wisconsin last year after a rain shower and a delay. A few quarters later, and I had a fresh, dry kit to wear. Some had bike issues which is understandable from the rain and mud. Anyway, all the women bailed as a group and only about 1/2 the men decided not to restart. Those that remained, under the rules/guidelines, received full points for their final placings.

I think we have an option to make it all work out for the season with an additional event, and changing the rules to one's best 3 scores count for the series award, and a bonus for participating in the 4th event that is fair at the end of the season in the Marathon Category. I would hate to see Sunday's stopping and restarting due to severe weather, and wet trails deter those who were there participating to not come out for our other upcoming marathon events this season. I will make sure to work around Ma Nature to salvage the Marathon Category season with that slight rule alteration.

I raced my first COMP race as I upgraded this year. It's one more lap than what I have been used to, but I have been training for this distance since last fall. No surprise, and as usual, I was maxed out HR wise during lap one. I hit my highest HR during the opening 10 minutes, recovered and had better 2nd and 3rd laps than my first once my legs kicked in and I got into a better flow. No falls. The trail was in great shape and really fun. My average HR was higher than any race I've ever done in the past, but that could be due to where I am in my training cycle, the heat/humidity - or a combination of all that with me trying to push myself to keep up with the better competition in this category.

Suffice it to say, I've got work to do to compete at this new level. I started the race off in 5th place overall, and ended up in what I think was 7th place overall. Two riders in COMP were within reach in front of me on the final lap, but I just couldn't catch them. I haven't seen the full results yet, but my main goal was to finish strong for where I am in my training cycle, which I did.


Photo Courtesy of Eric Roccasecca

After using Monday for scheduled maintenance weight training, I took to the pavement on Tuesday for my Zone 4 Intervals (duration increased to 12 minutes in this training block). I dumped my chain to the inside on my Roubaix a few minutes from the house which is going to involve taking the crankset off to get things unstuck. After a walk back home pushing the bike, I used Zack's Tarmac yesterday which is a real rocket!!!


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