Thursday, March 29, 2007

The fat lady is warming up...

...but she is not singing yet. There is still good snow biking to be had if you time it right. At 6:30am this moring the temp at my house was 24F so I knew Teton Canyon was a go.

The xc ski grooming program is done for the season so that meant zero people on the trail and the 2-4" of wet, heavy snow provided plenty of resistance. I regret not getting up earlier to start my ride though because I only had time for one lap before work.

Snow biking is so cool because a seemingly flat trail can provide lots of challenges. Frozen moose tracks are like riding a rocky trail in the summertime, heavy snow is like climbing a long gradual fire road, and slushy snow is kind of like riding in sand.

I may have to get over to the Big Holes early tomorrow morning to check out the trails there.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Time to get creative

The weather gods are going to make it challenging to log serious saddle time this week but I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Option #1 - If the temps drop down to 32 degrees or below I am SO riding the FatBike

Option #2 - Rollers + fan on high + ipod shuffle

Option #3 - If 45 degrees or warmer, ride outside whether it rains or not. I don't do 38 degrees and raining unless I am caught out in it and have to make it home.

With a 90 minute roller ride this morning I already feel ahead. Bring it on! My indoor trainer music recommendation of the day is Metallica "S&M". The combination of Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony just works.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Reality Check

Saturday’s plan was to do a 5 hour road ride at a high aerobic pace, with minimal stops, and get the body used to being in the saddle for that long.
I wish I could say that I felt great, finished strong, and left a swath of scorched pavement in my wake but that just isn’t how it went down. The reality is that this ride hurt and that a 5 hour road ride is “a speck on a gnat’s ass” compared to the effort that the KTR will require. The next six weeks are going to hurt a bit.

The positives:
I did manage to ride 94 miles in 5:06:00 but the last 40 minutes were not pretty. This is the earliest in the year I have done a ride this long at this pace and I felt it but I wanted to get over the mental hurdle of knocking out a nice big ride.

The negatives:
Will the aliens please return my comfortable saddle? All of my bikes have the exact same saddle, a Terry Fly Ti, because it is the most comfortable I have found at an acceptable weight. How is it that over the course of one off-season my saddle feels like an instrument of torture? I am not patient and my first instinct is to start trying new saddles but I am going to hold tight and see if it is merely early season discomfort or something a small change in tilt will fix.

I could have done a better job of fueling and I know better. At the 4:40:00 mark I was dangerously close to a bonk so I pulled over and took two big hits of Espresso Hammer Gel, a couple of big swigs of water, and had a short but direct conversation with myself. Sometimes stopping for just two minutes can make a big difference.

While I was in my own little world Saturday, a handful of hardy soles lined up for the Rim Ride and the word on the street is that it was as hard as predicted. Congrats to everyone who lined up for this early season test.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A little KTR planning

Thanks to a very helpful thread over on MTBR I have pulled together a few pieces of gear that will allow me to execute my hydration strategy during the Kokopelli Trail Race: Drink early, drink often.
I will use the 6 liter bladder so that I can carry 200 oz. of water during the middle sections of the race. Nothing like 13+ pounds of water on your back to help you go fast!

Camelbak makes a quick-release filter adapter that will greatly speed up the filtering process.

I have had the Pro Hiker filter for a couple of years now and love how fast it pumps. There are smaller and lighter filters out there but 3-4 oz. less is not going to help me survive KTR.
The next logical step is to load up the pack and ride around with that big hog on my back for a few hours and see if I can stand it. The forecast is looking good for this Sat so I am planning a 5 hour road ride as part of my build towards KTR on May 19th. That date is going to be here fast.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dual Road Rides and Irish Stout

This has pretty much been the perfect weekend. Let’s start with the festivities. When your local bike shop is owned by a guy named Fitzgerald, and the cycling team’s biggest sponsor is a brewery, St. Patrick’s Day is going to be a good time. This year the planets aligned and St. Patty’s Day fell on a Saturday AND we had incredible weather to enjoy the party that spilled out onto the deck at Snake River Brewing Company. It gets better. In honor of the holiday, the Brew Pub created a special beer just for the occasion; Fitzgerald’s Irish Stout. Yum! It was very tough to balance the desire to ride both days with the desire to consume a lot of Fitzy’s Irish Stout but I was strong and managed to limit myself to only a few. It was great to see all of the people I lose touch with when its not cycling season.

Saturday was the first ride on pavement of 2007 for me and one of the earliest road rides I have been able to do here. Michelle was fired up to ride too so I threw the semi-slicks on my Flux and tried to keep with Michelle on her road bike for 54 miles. Three hours later I was whooped and ready to relax for a while at the Brew Pub. I hadn’t been on the Flux since last September and it felt great to get some time on it.

Sunday morning I was feeling the affects of Saturday’s ride and a few Irish Stouts but I rallied for a ride on my road bike. You never know how long the “weather window” will stay open so I wanted to get outside while I still can. It was a tights & wind vest day but still very comfortable. My big toes are feeling the effects of the frostbite I got back in January and even cool temps bother them. I didn’t have a lot of snap today on the hills but I logged 60 miles at the high end of my aerobic range and am now officially tired. Perfect.

More snow is in the forecast for mid week but I wouldn't mind another couple of rides on the snow bike so bring it on!

Friday, March 16, 2007

One Hit Wonder?

According to their website, "The 2007 Rocky Mountain Ultra Schedule is being finalized and will be released by March 15th".

Can I get a time check please?

Yup, its March 16th and we have no announcement of the 2007 Rocky Mountain Ultra Series.

I thought this series would gain momentum after the buzz it generated during its first year. I know that many folks I talked to told me they were at specific events last year because the events were part of this series. Selfishly, I love the idea of having a series of great endurance events within a 12 hour drive of my home. I should have a pretty firm race plan by this point but I really want to see if the RMU is going to happen for 2007 so I still feel as if I am in limbo. I am hoping they announce a bigger and better series with more race choices, promises of regular series standings updates, and something for the winners at the end of the year.

The big news here is riding outside...on a road bike! The roadside snow banks are melting fast and leaving us with dry roads and temps in the mid 40s to a possible 50F this weekend. I see a big road in my near future.

Monday, March 12, 2007

New Recruits

When our friends Rick & Joanne saw pics of our snow bikes back in January they expressed an interest in trying it out. These two helped get Michelle and I into mountain biking when we moved to Teton Valley so it only seemed right that we return the favor and introduce them to snow biking.

I was able to borrow a couple of Pugsleys for the day, thanks to Chris and Fitzy, and we met up with Rick & Joanne Sunday morning for a ride in the Big Holes. With forecasted highs in the mid forties we were a bit worried about slushy trails but timed it perfectly. It got down into the mid twenties the night before so the trail was firm and fast at the beginning and gradually softened up as the day went on. The last ½ mile was full of comedy as we all fishtailed down the slushy trail back to the trucks.

Outside of Alaska, most people think of the Pugsley as novelty or a bike that will get ridden a few times per year. In Teton Valley, ID / Jackson, WY, one can argue that the Pugs will see more trail time than a regular mountain bike. Most years we will be riding the snow bikes from Dec 1st through the end of March. We would be lucky to get four full months of dirt riding here due to the spring runoff and then early snows in the fall.

So what did they think? Five minutes into the ride Joanne said “I’m buying one Monday!” and Rick had a big grin every time I looked over. I think they are hooked.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Wilma's getting a makeover

Last summer when I was researching bike lights I knew that I wanted to put my money into LED technology because they are more durable, bulbs have a longer life span, and burn times are typically longer. The downside had always been brightness. The 12W Lupine Wilma was the brightest “off the shelf” LED I could find but also the most expensive. However, Lupine is the only light company I am aware of that builds their lights with upgrades in mind and this helped justify the cost.

Lupine just announced an upgrade for the Wilma that nearly doubles the lumens while not reducing burn time…and I can do the upgrade myself! Woohoo! The new Wilma will put out 830 lumens which is very close to their high-end HID light, the Edison, which puts out 900 lumens and has been the brightest HID around for a long time. Here are a few beam shots that I “borrowed” from the Lupine site:

12W Wilma LED old (420 Lumens)
15W Wilma LED new (830 Lumens)
16W Edison HID (900 Lumens)
I see the HID light market taking a swift kick to the crotch this year as other companies are releasing some very bright LEDs as well.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Riding indoors, grinding, and planning

The Fitzy's 07 Indoor Cycling Center season has come to an end. Let's have a moment of silence...ok, that's enough. I enjoy the guaranteed workout plus the social aspect of riding the Computrainers two nights a week and I am sorry it had to end so early this year. The reality is that the shop is getting busier every year and the Computrainer setup takes up valuable floor space. I will fill in the gaps with solo roller sessions or more snow bike rides depending on what the weather does.

We are entering that "in between" season here in Teton Valley where one day you might be able to ride out on the road and the next day you are watching it snow sideways through the front window while riding the rollers. Between now and the end of May it will be hit or miss but I am hoping for a bit more snow and then an abrupt end to winter so I can get out on the road bike.

I can't stop thinking about next year's snow bike races and I will continue to plan throughout the summer even as I am racing on the dirt. I keep thinking about footwear and the guys at 40below have some interesting options that I will be exploring.

This is the new 40below Light Energy Overboot. Being able to layer underneath this lightweight overboot to match the conditions is appealing and they are willing to do some custom work like adding a thicker sole to stand up to platform pedals.

I spent some quality time with a dremel tool and a drill in an effort to make a better mounting bracket for my Old Man Mountain Sherpa front rack. I don't like axle-based mounting system because it complicates transport and changing a tire on the trail. The new bracket keeps the rack as close to the tire as possible and doesn't interfere with removing the tire. Now that i have the basic design figured out I can clean it up a bit.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

20 degrees and cloudy

Perfect snow biking weather! Michelle, Kenai, and I headed north to try a new piece of trail beginning at the Warm River Campground and linking up with the Mesa Falls trail. The new trail is great and follows the Warm River for about 3.5 miles as it gradually climbs to Bear Gulch. Even on a Saturday afternoon we had this trail all to ourselves.

The grade was nice and gradual and the temps were perfect. With all the snow we got this past week some spots were soft and slow but everything was rideable. Once we linked up to the Mesa Falls trail there was a bit more snowmobile traffic but it wasn't too bad and the trail gets wider. Several snowmobilers flipped quick u-turns to stop and check out our bikes and commented that snow biking looked cool. We even had one guy break out his video camera so he could show his buddies back in Salt Lake City what snow biking was all about. It was nice to have the positive interaction since snowmobiling is so big in this area.

We ended up doing a pretty big ride and were out for 3:40:00. The soft conditions made us earn every mile and my legs are feeling it today. The new trail along the Warm River was definitely the highlight and I had to snap a pic of this crazy sign.

The alpine skis are feeling neglected so we are off to the Ghee for some turns this afternoon.