Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happiness and Heckling

The weekend was packed full of fun and frivolity. I kicked off with Friday night spent enjoying the arts festival with Miranda and Corley before heading down to the longest yard to enjoy some food and beverage with the shop guys as a thanks for working the triathlon. Saturday found us up and at 'em for a quick stop at Gray's lake to enjoy story time with the family before heading off to my prescribed volunteerism at the tri. Fuller and I worked the wheel pit for the pro athletes races setting up on 35th and Grand at the far end turn around. After a bit of convincing the various police and volunteers that we really were supposed to be there, we finally got things set up and began the afternoon of waiting around. Luckily we had a few additional revelers stop by to keep things lively.

It was pretty awesome watching the various packs of pro men and women fly by us as we cheered them all on. Trading a few hours of easy work was well worth the front row access we had. About the only regret is that the single request for help we fielded (a woman needing a 4mm allen wrench) had to be left unanswered as we had only brought wheels and no tools. From then, it was time to pack up and hopefully get some relaxation in before the evening activities commenced.

Rumors about a gravel overnighter started flying around a week or two back. It seems the loose plan was to start around 10 in the evening, ride enough gravel to last through the night and then end up heckling the tri people somewhere on course. Sounds like a great plan to me.
Kyle Sedore, Oakley Rob, Kurt Benson, Fuller, Joe from BW West, and myself took off from Legends on 60th and Ashworth and the crack of dark Saturday night which equates to roughly 10:20 PM after some food and liquid fueling. Heading west on EP True we went baja style riding through the dead end past Jordan Creek and eventually worked our way down to Booneville road and over to Booneville proper by 11. We briefly debated the first beer stop of the evening, but eventually bypassed the Waveland in favor of heading to the Cumming Tap for our first round of the evening. We hit the tap somewhere need midnight and split a pitcher between us while Kurt also thought it was necessary to bolster our spirits with a round of Red Bulls as well. Most everyone chugged theirs down, but I wisely packed away that gem for a later pick me up.

From Cumming we decided to try for last call in Martensdale. A mile or so out of town we had our first flat of the evening on Joe’s trusty La Cruz. Now here’s how you can tell you’re in Iowa. Here we were at 1ish in the morning, a group of 6 guys standing around working on a bike and 2 separate cars happened to roll by, both checking to make sure we were good to go and offering to shine their headlights on the situation to help. We got the flat repaired in time to make last call.

After another pitcher split, we headed back from whence we came. Somewhere about halfway back to Cumming we decided to stop and break out some food. I think we were all feeling a bit punchy at the time as the stop also included a rousing game of duck-duck goose played in the midst of the gravel road in the wee hours of Sunday morning. We wound our way back through the Booneville loop and made our final break at the Waveland west where we enjoyed their great hospitality. Of course they weren’t actually open at 4 in the morning (who knew?), but we did find the patio furniture to be quite inviting. After a bit more snacking on processed meat sticks aka Slim Jim’s, we headed back towards town only to stop for the 2nd flat of the evening.

Rather than run through the bigger rollers on Booneville road, we opted to head back out to Grand and roll it double file paceline style clear down to Raccoon River Park to let the heckling and shenanigans begin for the Hy-Vee Tri. We actually started off with some varying congratulations to friends at the swim start where roughly 1 billion people were milling about.
From there we headed up to heckler's hill which ended up being just west of 35th street going up Grand. We scoped out our spot in time to head off to Kum and Go/McD's for food and supplies aka beer. Apparently there is some conspiracy going on to keep people from thoroughly enjoying themselves on Sunday mornings as beer sales don't start until 8 AM. Alas, we were relegated to various energy drinks which, at that point, probably wasn't a bad call. When we got back to our spot, Kyle showed us all how to properly get in the spirit of heckling.
All told, I showed 68 miles and change with 3000’ of climbing for our overnighter along with more laughing, fun, and folly than I can remember having for a long time. One punctuation to the evening was experiencing flying down the various hills at 25+ mph in the pitch of night which was thrilling and terrifying at the same time. I finally rolled back home and to bed around 10:30 after having eclipsed the 26th hour of awake time before dropping like a ton of bricks for a few hours nap.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tire changing in the dark

Kyle changing a flat on Booneville gravel at 4:30 am. So far so good for the overnighter. Lots of slim jims and shenanigans.

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Gravel in the dark

Made the final call in Martensdale. Got another 3 hours of riding in before breakfast and heckling the tri people.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rain, rain, f*%k off!

I've been really hoping to get back on the dirt lately. My focus for the year was to get mostly into dirt racing and shy away from all but a few crits and road races. That surely hasn't been happening with the rainfall pattern of dry for a couple days then rain and repeat for the past couple months. I snuck out last Monday for a couple hours of playing around the north side of Summerset and that's been pretty much it other than an out of town excursion to FDR which happened to be dry enough to ride.

I've been supplementing with plenty of road riding which is great for keeping up fitness, but surely doesn't help much with any technical skill. Eyeing the forecast for this week, I saw the heat and thought for sure we'd dry the trails out in time to do a taco ride tonight. Unless you've got flotation devices and a way to magically avoid mud, that's not gonna happen. I'd venture to say that even if it stays hot and dry, we'll be pushed off the trails until sometime Sunday at the earliest and even then it will be muddy in spots. Maybe this weekend will call for some gravel grinding instead.

I'm working the Hy-Vee tri wheel pit for the shop on Saturday during the elite race which should be pretty cool. I hear that's the gig to have as far as being easy and able to enjoy the racing. Sunday morning I might try to make my way out to the Fuller hill on Grand to help with some heckling/cheering on of the not-so-elite athletes. Good luck to all competing!

Tonight and tomorrow I'll be hanging with the PRC ladies for the Papajohn ride tonight and Race Like a Girl tomorrow night. Both are great events and beginner friendly if you're looking to come out and play for a bit. Beyond that, it looks like the next event on the calendar is the BBQ and Blues weekend in Clear Lake. With my schedule full for the 4th weekend, I won't be able to make the jaunt over to Cedar Rapids for the state crit race.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Green days race recap

In retrospect, I was a bit worried with Pete giving me cornering lessons for the race. However, all went well though with me sitting in roughly 4th wheel the entire race and letting the DMOS guys wear themselves out. Herb from A9Y got a small gap with roughly 5 laps left after a prime and the pack seemed pretty intent on letting him set out there. I had the crazy idea of bridging up and trying to make a two man break stick since he only had one other rider in the pack the same as I surrounded by the DMOS guys out in full force. I hit the gas into the corner and thought I opened it up a bit after the corner and started pulling him back in. Alas, my breakaway horsepower is a bit... lacking. I succeeded in dragging the full pack back up with me, oops.

Pete giving me pointers on where to be and something about staying off the front...

With 1 to go I was still in good position and thought I'd try hammering the corners again as I had noted most everyone was a bit lax in charging into the corners letting me come up the outside, late brake, and get a small lead. I looked great for about a 1/4 of a lap and then had plenty of people with me going into the last corner. I took too wide of a line and had a couple guys all ready in front of me heading towards the finish. As mentioned previously, my sprint is nothing short of mediocre and another 3 guys slipped past before we made the line. 6th place out of 17ish riders at the line. With my crit/road racing experience amounting to last year's Green Days and a couple Race like a girl nights, I was pretty happy with the outcome. Thanks to Pete for yelling out the instructions and the rest of the men in black sticking around to cheer on the 5's.
In comparison to last year, I can definitely tell I'm a much stronger rider. It was relatively easy to stay up front, I "think" I possibly had the power to make a break had I truly hammered it and sprinted up to speed versus sitting and trying to pound out the power in my 1 attempt to bridge up. Last year I sat much further back in the pack just trying to hold on and not get tangled up with anyone. I yo-yoed pretty constantly in that attempt and a late race crash pretty much helped me crack the top 10. I feel like I earned the placing this year rather than circumstance dictating as much. I think I probably left too much on the table in regards to effort as once I finished the last lap I still felt pretty fresh even after sprinting up to the middle of zone 5 (193 bpm for me) at the finish line. In the pack I was sitting pretty much in the middle of zone 4 or a little less and feeling like I wasn't making much of an effort other than spinning it back up out of every corner. I've still got a lot to learn and a lot of work to do on my short term explosive power.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

No apologies dads day part 2

As I said, no apologies for enjoying myself thoroughly today. I put my bad influence on Squirrel (though it didn't take much arm twisting) and we grabbed a couple tall boys mid ride on our black label putt putt. Had a nice little roll out towards Clive and back for an hour and a half. Headed down to the farm for some fishing and such this afternoon and hanging with my dad.

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Happy father's day!

Happy father's day to all. My plans for the day are a no apologies day. I started off with a shopping trip to the store for biscuits, sausage, beer, muffins, and some fruit pies. I may well be following up today with cardiologist Monday, but no apologies! Hope everyone enjoys their day as thoroughly as I plan to.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FDR Park!

Fdr park in Dubuque kicked all sorts of ass. Wild mix of easy to expert type stuff with a lot of mossy rocks and roots interspersed with buttery smooth singletrack. Definitely a good amount of climbing, but nothing too gnarly that I found anyway. And ya I rode the "skinny" more rickety than anything else.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

The next Punk Rock Girl?

PRC training on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Like an old friend..

That you owe money to and is waiting around every corner to sucker punch you, until its fully repaid. What can I say, its bittersweet being back on the road bike, by choice or by happenstance. With a severe dearth of pavement training miles and really no structure ever since I moved from the trainer onto pavement, I wasn't expecting much and rightfully, didn't get a whole lot either. Friday I met up with a few of the guys for some time spent at Center since we'd sadly been beaten back from them due to the rain sporadically hosing down our plans. I got in a nice 2 hour relaxed pace ride and pretty much hit everything twice. I even managed to ride a bit with Keely from PRC who was reacquainting herself with some dirt lovin fun.

The weekend found me logged in to work and off the bike for the most part. a good chunk of Saturday I was able to get my enclosed trailer back into shape after the shellacking it took on one CITA work day last fall. The concrete buggies we rented had no problem going straight through the rotted wood on the tailgate and consequently also tore off part of the metal exterior of the gate. Team Cow and I made a pretty excellent deal that he'd buy the necessary repair materials and help do the work in exchange for a couple weeks use of the trailer during the summer.

I hit TNWC for the first time in a few weeks. I just about lost the pack before we even were off Morningstar Drive and knew it probably wouldn't be much fun beyond that. I made my way up to the front for a bit drafting as much as possible, but the same old song was playing. As soon as the pace cranked up north of Ankeny I was straight out the back. About the only difference is I happened to be 4th or 5th wheel when the pace cranked up so I got the pleasure of the entire pack passing me. Shortly thereafter I saw the B group form up about a 1/4 mile up the road, but I couldn't bridge the gap and decided not to chase them up to Slater opting for the turn back towards Polk City. By the end of the ride, I was so far off the back, it appeared I was off the front as the lead riders pulled within eyesight after I turned on Meredith past the Perkins and they were cooling down at that point so I still made it back to the cars first/last.

Wednesday I was in charge of little one for the evening and she'd been dying to go for a ride so in lieu of attempting the feat of dragging her along on the PRC ride, I opted for Kim's Dogtown Cruiser night leaving from the Drake Farmer's Market and cruising through the various neighborhoods in the area. Kim and I were the only takers so we very leisurely paced our way around town for about 45 minutes before heading off to BBQ at Jethro's. I think eating there 2 nights in a row, may have been a bit much, but at least my BBQ appetite has been quenched for a bit. A word of warning though for those that may be interested in hitting it up- the beer prices are f'ing ridiculous. $4.50 for a pint or $13 for a pitcher of Fat Tire is just highway robbery in my book.

On to Thursday and I steeled myself for my wildly varying TT effort in the form of the Elkhart TT series. My whole goal was to break 20 minutes which hadn't happened in my 3 previous attempts. I assumed I'd be able to break it handily with the bit of training I'd had this year and at least feeling like I'm faster than previous years. The wind was pretty calm, but still felt like a slap in the face on the turnaround portion. In retrospect I could've stood to warm up a bit longer and hit the starting line a little closer to my time rather than waiting in line. My legs didn't feel like they were really going well until almost 2 miles into the course. As the finish cone finally came into site, I was setting right at 19 minutes. I had to hustle pretty good to meet my goal, but luckily the clock showed 19:43 as I crossed the line. At least I made one of my goals this week.

Kris inquired as to whether or not I'd be hitting the coffee ride this morning and I decided I may as well hit it since the rain looks to be moving in for various parts of the weekend. The reports I've heard on this ride vary greatly on what the pace is. Some say it's a nice relatively easy paced hour long ride and others call it the coffee crit. Being this is the only time I've ridden it, my experience was of the crit variety with a few decent sprint points thrown in and a lot of high paced paceline riding going on along with a pretty high end (for me) pace being averaged. I hung on (with some help of the stop lights) until roughly 3/4 through the ride where I got gapped as we turned on to Westown parkway. I finished a few minutes back, but was pretty happy that my legs felt decent for the majority of the ride. I'm even contemplating the "shootout" tomorrow AM to cap off a week of getting reacquainted with the road bike.

So, in all, it was a good week back on the bike. The new road bike (I still need to find a name) has been pretty kick ass even if it really hasn't made me any better of a rider. I finally changed out the seat last night to my original (Fizik Alliante) in lieu of the ass hatchet that came on the bike. The Toupe that came with the bike feels great for about 20 miles and then I get various nasty pains shooting from my backside down through my legs. Tuesday night I got to a point where I wondered if I was going to have to stop and call for a ride it was so painful. This morning I felt great with the new saddle. I'm hoping a longer ride will prove the same.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

That not so fresh feeling

I jumped on the new bike this morning (I gotta come up with a better name soon!) and headed off on my commute. Obviously this brand new ultra-light wonderbike should have pedalled itself, but I couldn't figure out how to activate that option. Alas, I was resigned to pedal my own ass to work. At least the ass I'm pedalling is less substantial thanks to the bikes.

But, I digress, as soon as the pedals started cranking over, I was hit by the oh so familiar, yet not exactly welcome, not so fresh feeling of the legs. Yup, sure I raced Sunday, plus am sporting a softball sized bruise on one quad, but the legs definitely didn't have a whole lotta zip in them. I wasn't necessarily surprised by this fact, but it got me to thinking. When was the last time I really felt like my legs were "fresh" and ready to rock.

Strangely enough, I can't quite pin down that time. Oh sure, some days they feel decent and don't hurt as much as others, but I was having a hard time really nailing down when they felt like I would define fresh and full of energy. I'm beginning to think it may have to do with my training structure or more accurately my lack thereof. Riding 5-10 hours per week on average really isn't much in the way of training, but its what I've got. As such, I haven't bothered to put together any type of training regimen other than hit the gas and hang on as long as I can typically somewhere in a zone 4 average for the ride.

It actually felt good in somewhat of a twisted way to get my heart cranked up for this weekend's race. I kept an average of 184 for almost 90 minutes and it felt like I'd blown the cobwebs out pretty well once I got done wheezing and gasping after the finish. I'm beginning to suspect that I'm hitting that NO zone during my riding. No really hard efforts, no really easy efforts, and sitting in no man's land. This would also explain my legs never really feeling like they're ready to go. I just push them, take a day or two off, and repeat. They really never get the chance to do active recovery and never get over stressed to the point where I can feel the difference when backing down.

Anyone else sitting in the no zone, when it comes to "training"?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Race Report- Summerset Shootout

CITA put on the Summerset Shootout just north of Indianola this weekend. The race that was supposed to go down last summer, but had to be postponed due to flooding of epic proportions was well worth the wait. I think the trail crew put the extra year to great use extending and dialing in many sections on the north end and while some trail was lost on the south, I don't think too many people noticed through the haze of pounding hearts.

Quick Stats:
Placing- 8th Men's Cat 2 (9th overall)
Time: 1:23:26
Avg Heart Rate: 184 (max seen 195)

Must be early in the race since I'm still smiling

With the rainy mud race at Sylvan Island and a rainout postponement for Ingawanis, I was predicting a pretty heavy turnout for IMBCS #3 if the sunshine held as predicted. It turned out to be a beautiful day and the racers turned out in what appeared to be excellent numbers as well. Considering I'd ridden a whopping 3 beginner races and the Dirty Du to round out my impressive racing resume, I wasn't quite sure what to expect moving up to the sport class aka "Cat 2" this year. I'm not sure if I made a faux-pas or not, but I wandered my way to the front row as everyone lined up. Having ridden at least a few laps at Summerset, I knew the key was going to be a holeshot into the first section and then work it out from there. Obviously this was a loosely guarded secret as most of the field went for the holeshot.

Woohoo, downhilling

And then locking up the rear

I decided it was best that I not contest for a top spot going into the woods and drifted back somewhere mid-pack as I entered the singletrack. As I expected the first section of the north side was hurry up and wait. I passed a couple people that were having issues with the technical terrain and were kind enough to pull off. I also passed one guy on a run up that I'm not too sure he was entirely happy about as I squeezed him as the trail came back to one, but I never saw him again. After that it was concentrate on trying to keep as much flow going as possible without running over the guys in front of me. I know I went down at least a couple times on the first lap and donated some skin and blood from my elbow on once occasion, but I really couldn't tell you where as I was mostly concentrating on the line and listening to my heart pound in my ears.

Fullers Drop (the easy way)

As the trail opened up to the first section of double track, I put the hammer down and rounded 2 or 3 riders. I also gained another spot from Bruce Brown on the 2nd section of the north side and then promptly fell down a couple more times so I let him have it back. I waited for further passing until we hit the pavement and then hightailed it past another rider or two as I hustled towards Riverside. I really wasn't that worried about Riverside, but in hindsight, I probably should have ridden it one more time before the race. I nearly went down on the first sandy corner and narrowly avoided a stabbing hazard as I started into the sand. At the first deep spot my wheel sank in to a sudden stop and tried to throw me over the bars. Thus far the "easy" section was handling me about as roughly as the north side. I managed to find my way out though and hit the gas again once we were back on the tarmac.

Throughout the 2nd lap I started passing more riders that appeared to have gone out a bit hard and were losing steam. I fell a few more times, let a few riders both in my class and single speeders by, and got my flow a bit more. At the end of the 2nd lap I tossed one empty bottle only to have it wound a spectator as it slid across the grass and bounced off her foot. Sorry! I was starting to feel some signs of cramping on the 3rd lap, but knew it would be over soon enough. I finally managed to not slide off the trail in a spot that had been plaguing me, but still had to run several of the loose rocky climbs after stalling out.

Somewhere in the bikini beach section (I think)

As I hit the next to last section of pavement I had a rider bridge up to me only to set up in my draft. I told him to go ahead and pass, but he said he was a single speed so it didn't matter. It actually turned out to be Matt from down Creston way. I gave him the lead as we hit Riverside and figured he'd be gone. I tailed him all the way through the trail and actually picked up the pace from previous laps on that section. We both pushed each other to race this section rather than using it as recovery. Once we hit the final stretch of pavement I put it in the big ring and gave it all I had left. I was gassed as I shot across the line and happy we weren't doing 4 laps.

Photos stolen from Courtney, Jared, and possibly some others in the flickr pool.