Mountain Bike Racing Season is officially kicked off and running...

April has arrived along with lush lawns, budding buds, leaves popping out, weeds growing, insects buzzing, taxes paid, grills grilling, and of course - the start of mountain bike racing season.


Illiniwek Abermination CAT II Start

I started the season off over at the Nebraska Psycowpath Swanson Shootout on April 9th with 3 laps of an always well attended, and well run event in Bellevue, Nebraska on the singletrack that had a few new twists and turns this year compared to past years. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the 70's, and cloud cover to keep us from overheating. I managed to claw my way through the course for a 3rd place finish in the old man's CAT II group.

Realizing I had some top end work to do after all of the endurance training, I attempted to get some higher effort intervals in over the past two weeks, but couldn't stick to my structured plan as the end of the semester hours of working during the day, and attending recitals/concerts at night dictated a cut in my training hours. However, I managed to push hard on the few rides I could get in to build some more top end. My other realization was short term weight gain following the 12 week build for endurance racing that ended in early March. I had leaned out during the 12 weeks leading up to early March, but I started chowing down in mid-March. If it wasn't nailed down - I ate it. So I have a good 5-7 pounds on the mid-section to once again shed as it will help me going up the hills to lighten the pay load.

Yesterday, April 23rd was our IMBCS season opener at Illiniwek Forest Preserve in Illionis. The race was hosted by FORC and is a joint series race with the Iowa and the Illinois series. Mike Corbin was once again the race director. He and his volunteer team of FORC members did a great job! Music, food truck, swag, atmosphere, perfectly groomed trails, spectators - which all combined for a quality event. The forest preserve and beautiful flowing trails lie along the banks of the Mississippi River and has become a favorite of mine.

I car pooled to the Quad City event with Rob Cook. We brought the Oskar Blues beer, the free entry punch cards for the 2016 Series Winners, and quickly got those delivered. I met Keith Robinson from iTuo - a new sponsor for the IMBCS series this year. It was great to see all the smiling faces around with a good turnout of everyone enjoying the sunny, beautiful weather, perfect trails, and festival atmosphere that FORC had created.

Rob raced the CAT II race that started at 11:15, and I raced the COMP race that began at 1:25.

This course is filled with dirt and wooden berms making it a really fun time on the bike.


Photo Courtesy of Karl Bengston

I hung on for dear life for all 4 laps with a creaking bike (rear pivots obviously need some immediate attention) to claim DFL (dead frickin' last) in this one. DFL is a familiar place for me in the COMP category, but I enjoy doing the extra lap, and the bumped up competition level in COMP. After I leaned too far on one corner riddled with roots and went down hard enough to make my handlebars askew, I did manage to straighten them out and try and catch back up to the two I was tailing. In doing so, I hit my highest heart rate this year on the second half of the 4th and final lap on all of the climbs as I decided to test my pain threshold a bit as I tried to catch back up.

I think I even managed to get 1/2" off the ground...


Photo Courtesy of Rob Cook

Due to the late start, and length of my race (I was out there for 1:42 and change), by the time we got packed up and on the road, I didn't get home until 7:42 pm. I showered, inhaled a big salad Tara made for me, and passed out.

With that, the 2017 mountain bike racing season is off and running - in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.


February - the Winter that Wasn't...!

Thanks to Ma Nature being about 17 inches below normal for snowfall this time of year, and record warm temperatures, my riding outside continued during the month of February. I had to shorten or skip a few planned training rides due to directing Hansel and Gretel, but managed to stay on task during the month as best I could doing the structured training plan.

Here's what this Winter - or lack of Winter - allowed me to do for the short month of February...

February 1st 8.53 Miles -- Duration 0:50:31
February 3rd 18.1 Miles -- Duration 1:00:01
February 5th 40.6 Miles -- Duration 3:05:57
February 6th 18.4 Miles -- Duration 1:13:18
February 9th 26.0 Miles -- Duration 1:30:00
February 11th 37.3 Miles -- Duration 2:33:09
February 13th 48.8 Miles -- Duration 4:00:04
February 14th 5.94 Miles -- Duration 0:31:35
February 15th 12.4 Miles -- Duration 1:05:36
February 16th 11.0 Miles -- Duration 0:59:37
February 17th 6.0 Miles -- Duration 0:32:22
February 18th 30.9 Miles --  Duration 2:14:17
February 19th 36.1 Miles -- Duration 2:25:46
February 21st 28.4 Miles -- Duration 1:48:43
February 25th 27.5 Miles -- Duration 2:04:00
February 26th 42.3 Miles -- Duration 3:02:06
February 28th 28.7 Miles -- Duration 1:50:01

February Total Miles: 426.87
February Total Duration: 30:48:02

That's a wrap for February that - like January - combined road, gravel, singletrack, and basement trainer riding to get through the month.


January Riding Recap...

January 2017 allowed for a lot of nice road riding as the weather has been beneficial with minimal ice or snow. This left the paved trails in great shape, gravel in good condition "some of the time", and even the singletrack had days where it turned cold and frozen enough for at least a few rides. I know the snow is lurking out there somewhere and will hit by Winter's end, but so far it has been lucrative riding outside due to the lack of snow.

Even with second semester work starting up, I was able to stay on target for my structured training, although last week's scheduled Rest & Recovery week found me doing less of the active recovery miles than I should have. Due to work, I wasn't able to get a 2 hour scheduled Zone 2 ride in on the weekend. The past two months of the structured training, combined with managing my calorie intake, has led to me shedding 9 pounds. In fact, I am just a few pounds away from reaching my fighting weight - which is several weeks ahead of schedule this year compared to the past few years. I'll take it!

January 1st 51.6 Miles -- Duration 4:00:09
January 3rd 10.1 Miles -- Duration 00:31:00
January 4th 11.0 Miles -- Duration 1:00:28
January 5th 17.9 Miles -- Duration 1:03:00
January 6th 9.88 Miles -- Duration 00:33:00
January 7th 15.1 Miles -- Duration 1:45:32 (MTB)
January 8th 30.8 Miles -- Duration 2:15:17
January 10th 20.5 Miles -- Duration 1:09:58
January 11th 15.8 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
January 12th 27.0 Miles -- Duration 1:30:00
January 14th 26.9 Miles -- Duration 2:31:34 (MTB)
January 15th 54.2 Miles -- Duration 3:51:02
January 17th 22.7 Miles -- Duration 1:19:58
January 18th 9.9 Miles -- Duration 1:02:18 (MTB)
January 19th 22.8 Miles -- Duration 1:15:58
January 21st 26.9 Miles -- Duration 1:29:58
January 22nd 55.4 Miles -- Duration 4:00:04 (MTB)
January 25th 18.1 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
January 29th 21.4 Miles -- Duration 1:05:00
January 31st 23.5 Miles -- Duration 1:15:00

January Total Miles: 491.48
January Total Duration: 33:39:16

That's a wrap for January that combined road, gravel, singletrack, and basement trainer riding to get through the first month of this new year. February will have me busy with the opera until the 13th, so I will try and sneak in what I can to stay on top of the structured training schedule the next two weeks.


Endurance ride with Tara & 2016 Exercise Review...

Tara suited up and braved the weather with me yesterday for New Years Day. I had a scheduled 4 hour ride to finish up two weeks of intense training before going into a rest and recovery week. Temperatures were in the 34-38 degree range on our ride, but off we went around 12 noon to see how many miles we could get in on our road bikes. Knowing that temperatures will drop this week into the teens and 20's, we figured this might be it for our Winter outside long road rides. Who knows?

I failed to follow my nutritional instructions of taking in 2 calories per pound of body weight per hour on this ride. I started with 5 gels, and Tara had some granola bars. I managed to eat only 3 gels, and one granola bar which was not enough for the pace we were going. I should have fueled up at Casey's in Carlisle while we were there earlier. Regardless, at 3 hours and 15 minutes into the ride I felt like the rug was suddenly pulled out from under me.

We stopped for a snack at Banner Pits...


We rolled back to the house with Tara going strong, and me in full survival mode trying to stay within 100 yards of her. Tara's toes were cold so she peeled off a few blocks from our house, and finished with 46 miles. I went out to the west side of town for another 5 miles to get the full 4 hours as scheduled. Thus began the 2017 riding for both of us.

Nothing another pastrami pizza couldn't take care of after a hot shower.

December Riding

December was one of my top three months for 2016 in terms of total hours and miles. Singletrack was favorable for some nice dirt riding during the first couple of weeks before round one of snow hit. It's been too warm and muddy since then, but between the road bike, the trainer in the basement, and the mountain bike on gravel and pavement - I managed to log a good month of riding to wrap up the year.

December 1st 14.1 Miles -- Duration 1:30:33
December 2nd 9.44 Miles -- Duration 00:43:48
December 3rd 17.3 Miles -- Duration 2:00:37
December 4th 21.0 Miles -- Duration 1:40:34
December 6th 7.52 Miles -- Duration 00:40:23
December 7th 11.5 Miles -- Duration 1:22:40
December 8th 9.39 Miles -- Duration 1:08:05
December 10th 21.9 Miles -- Duration 1:09:58
December 11th 19.3 Miles -- Duration 1:00:58
December 13th 16.1 Miles -- Duration 00:51:58
December 14th 9.67 Miles -- Duration 00:54:46
December 15th 12.0 Miles -- Duration 1:25:46
December 16th 21.3 Miles -- Duration 1:12:53
December 17th 22.3 Miles -- Duration 1:14:59
December 18th 28.6 Miles -- Duration 1:41:58
December 20th 30.36 Miles -- Duration 1:39:54
December 21st 18.5 Miles -- Duration 1:00:58
December 22nd 54.7 Miles -- Duration 4:01:53
December 23rd 9.01 Miles -- Duration 00:32:58
December 24th 28.5 Miles -- Duration 1:29:59
December 25th 32.1 Miles -- Duration 2:29:34
December 27th 29.0 Miles -- Duration 2:02:56
December 28th 18.9 Miles -- Duration 1:36:48
December 29th 21.1 Miles -- Duration 1:30:04
December 30th 5.77 Miles -- Duration 00:30:50
December 31st 33.4 Miles -- Duration 2:31:04

December Total Miles: 522.76
December Total Duration: 38:06:54


Looks like I averaged about 8 hours and 17 minutes per week during 2016...

Duration by Week 2016

Fitness History 2017

Full monthly hours total which includes my bike riding, weights, yoga, and walking...

2016 Exercise Hours

2016 ended up being about 50 hours less total exercise than my previous two years both were. Lots of trail work at Banner Pits, and Lake Ahquabi accounted for some of that, as did travel to California on three separate trips. In spite of that, I felt stronger on the bike in 2016 than I did in 2015.

Here's to everyone enjoying their exercise and cycling in 2017!!!