Monday, April 30, 2007

Even more Kleenex please

Ok, I guess there is never a good time to get sick but this timing really sucks. I really thought I was on top of this crud and that I would knock it out before it latched onto me but I have felt progressively worse each day since Friday and I spent the entire weekend in bed or shuffling around the house. Did I mention that the weather in Teton Valley was the nicest yet for 2007? This one has turned out to be a whopper. Not much work is getting done and today marks the 8th day in row that I have not ridden a bike.

I may have to rethink my approach to KTR now depending on how long it takes me to shake this crud. Instead of truly trying to peak for the race, I might train through the race with mini-taper the week before and use it as a build up to the 12/24 Hours of Steamboat on June 9th. There is a big hole in my June race calendar and the 9th works nicely for a race. I am leaning towards the 12 hour solo at this point.

Congrats to everyone who got after it this past weekend whether it was a solo mission, TI v3, or DSG. My box of Kleenex and I were living vicariously through your adventures.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Please pass the Kleenex

As I was driving home from Fruita on Monday I was thinking about how to build on the block of training I had just completed in order to show up at KTR as ready as possible. A few days off made a lot of sense since I had just ridden 17.5 hours in three days and I have a tendency to overtrain.

My plan was to spin very easy Wed, do a moderate hill climb on Thursday and see how the legs felt, take Fri off, and then uncork a big ride on Saturday.

Well, late Wed afternoon I start to get this strange scratch in the back of my throat and feel a little low on energy so I bag the recovery ride and start taking Airborne every three hours. Thursday morning I still have the sore throat with a little sniffle and I am not 100%. F'ack! I can't remember the last time I was sick but so far I have managed to keep this crud from turning into a full-blown cold and the symptoms are completely above the shoulders at this point.

I really hate the idea of losing fitness while I recover from this minor cold. On one hand, some say you can train through a cold if the symptoms are above the shoulders. On the other hand, if I lay low a couple more days I might be able to knock it out completely and then put in one more huge week before tapering for KTR. What to do?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kokopelli Recon, Day 3 – Dewey to Moab

Before I jump into the gory details of the ride I have to say how great it was to spend time with Lynda, her family, and Dave Harris over the course of three days. I stayed in Fruita solo but I met up with them in the mornings to ride. After spending Sunday with the two of them it is easy to see why they make such a great race team. Between the hilarious smack talk and the way they feed off of each other during big efforts, the chemistry between them is obvious. These two are going to rock the BC Bike Race.

So Lynda and Dave invited me to join them for the big ride from Dewy to Moab on Sunday which is 64 miles and about 10,000’ of climbing. I think I was more nervous about this particular ride than for any race I did all last season. All of the pressure was self-imposed but I respect the fact that they were there to recon for KTR as well and I did not want to hose it up. We agreed that if I was slowing them down they would ride ahead and we would meet up in Moab where Lynda’s truck was parked but I really didn’t want to impact their ride or make them wait. I was never the first one to the top of a climb but at least they weren’t having a picnic when I got there.

I think every truly memorable ride includes a low moment where I question whether I can continue and during Sunday’s ride I had two of them. Both of them came at surprising times. I knew about the big climb on dirt up to Beaver Mesa. So in my brain, once I knocked this motha’ out I was home free…I was so wrong. I knew we had another big climb but it is on friggin pavement. How hard can that be? Ha! If you add a brutal headwind, snow (I am not kidding), and the fact that you have been riding for a very long time already, you have the ingredients for my little personal purgatory. At one point I could see Lynda and Dave in the distance happily spinning along and I was killing myself to pedal DOWNHILL, in my middle chain ring, on pavement. As I looked up the road a bit I could see the pavement continue to climb way, way up the mountain and that was low moment #1. I didn’t want to climb anymore. I had a little talk with myself, called my self a few names out loud that I won’t repeat, took in some calories, and all of this seemed to help. Once we finally crested the paved climb we turned off onto the dirt descent into Moab. I love descending…when I can feel my hands. My fingerless gloves were not so sweet in the snow and wind and my fingers were about useless for braking and steering. Instead of enjoying the rocky downhill I just wanted to get warm and I almost pulled over and built a fire. That was low moment #2.

This was the most scenic day by far and I could have looked around a bit more but, as David Byrne says, “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around.” There is so much to think about before the KTR regarding water, lights, pacing, clothing, etc. I am sure I will have more thoughts once the past three day’s events have sunk in a bit. Right now I need to go find more food.

Dave hates a squeaky brake

You thought I was kidding about the snow?

The end.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kokopelli recon, Day 2 - Westwater to Dewey Bridge

I met up with Lynda at the Westwater Campground to begin my second day of Kokopelli recon. The legs felt a bit heavy going up and down stairs at the motel this morning so I was hoping they would loosen up a bit once we got started. The weather was looking a bit ominous on the drive from Fruita and within an hour we were getting rained on but at least it wasn't "soaked to the nickers" rain as Lynda says. The rain definitely helped pack down parts of the otherwise sandy trail and kept the temps cool. I knew those shoe covers and leg warmers would come in handy.

I really enjoyed the section of the trail we rode today for the variety of terrain and for the scenery. In the back of my mind today was the big ride we have planned for tomorrow - Dewey to Moab. I didn't want to slow Lynda down but I also didn't want to burn up the legs either. Here are a few more pics from the day's ride and I am off to bed shortly so I can recover for the BIG one tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Kokopelli recon - Loma to Westwater

I was excited and nervous about my first day down here in Fruita. Riding the snow bike and doing a few road rides is not like riding singletrack so I knew I would be rusty. Lynda was gracious enough to invite me to ride with her today and the last thing I wanted was to be an anchor. Everytime I have seen Lynda on a racecourse she was passing me like I was going backwards.

Luckily for me, I was feeling pretty good AND Lynda was fine going at a moderate (for her) pace. That combination of factors made it a great ride. This post will be short so I can get to bed early and get up to do it all over again tomorrow. Woohoo!

The beginning of Troy's Loop

Confusing Intersection on Troy's

Castle Rock

See that trail way down in the bottom of the valley? yeah, we were there and climbed up to this point.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Road trip baby!

Tomorrow I am heading down to Fruita, CO for some binge riding and Kokopelli Trail scouting and I cannot wait. Today will be a scramble to get some work done, rebuild the Flux from its current bare-frame state, run some errands, and pack for the trip.

I have never been to Fruita or Moab and the thought of riding on dry dirt in short sleeves in two days seems almost like a dream. The forecast here in Driggs is for rain and snow through Sunday...perfect timing.

My hopes for this trip are simple.

#1 - Come home very sore
#2 - See as much of the Kokopelli Trail as possible in three days
#3 - Avoid 3rd degree sunburn on my milk-toast legs
#4 - Have a good time

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mental Toughness

During a conversation about race strategy last summer, a very talented racer & coach told me “The mind will tire before the body”. Her advice was to keep the mind fresh and the body will follow. After yesterday’s training ride I think I need to have this quote engraved into my stem so that I never forget it.

I could invent a number of reasons why yesterday’s ride was hard but the bottom line is that I simply wasn’t mentally “into it” from the beginning. This was to be my big ride for the week and I had planned on a solo 6 ½ hour road bike ride at a steady aerobic pace. I did end up riding 5:45:00 and a little over 100 miles but it required way more mental effort than it should have and I basically “survived” the ride.

On one hand, I am pissed that I didn’t complete my planned ride and struggled to finish a ride of this length when I already have several big rides under my belt this season. On the other hand, I am happy that I was able to salvage the day and complete a decent ride when I really wanted to pack it in early. Knowing myself, had I turned around at the two-hour mark when I really wanted to I would be very grumpy today.

I wish I could say that mental toughness was one of my biggest assets but the reality is that I often fight with my inner demons during a long ride or event. Hopefully as I gain experience and confidence I will be able to rely more on my mental toughness as a strength.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Yellowstone Winter Use - Public Comment Period Open

I would like to encourage you to submit a public comment in support of cycling (snow biking) in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park during the winter season. Cycling is currently not allowed in either park during the winter because the current Winter Use Plan states “During the winter, all park roads are closed to wheeled vehicular traffic…” It appears that the National Park Service (NPS) treats bicycles the same as automobiles instead of treating bicycles the same as other non-motorized forms of travel such as cross-country skiing. I encourage you to request that cycling be included as an acceptable form of non-motorized winter travel.

Just like cross-country skiing, cycling is an appropriate, low-impact, muscle-powered activity that provides visitors a safe, healthy way to enjoy Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Winter cycling, or snow biking, is a rapidly growing aspect of cycling that is perfectly suited to groomed snow surfaces. Both parks have miles of roads currently groomed for snow coaches, snow mobiles, and skiers. It is appropriate to give cyclists the opportunity to share this existing resource in the wintertime as well.

Snow Biking Quick Facts
1) 4” wide snow bike tires provide float and result in less groomed trail impact than a skate skier
2) Snow bikes work great on any groomed/packed snow surface
3) Over 500 snow bikes have been sold nationally in the last two years
4) Snow bike use is limited to groomed surfaces or packed roads because they will sink in un-packed snow

Please use the links below to learn more about the proposed winter use plans and to submit your public comment electronically. I am rookie when it comes to cycling advocacy but I am passionate about snow biking and feel strongly that cycling should be allowed year-round in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Please forward this to anyone who might be inspired to submit a public comment in support of winter cycling in YNP and GTNP.

Winter Use Plans Draft Environmental Impact Statement (three large PDFs)

Electronic Public Comment Form - Public Comment Period Ends May 31, 2007

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Around the block with JayP

There is a local training ride called "around the block" which typically starts and finishes in Jackson, WY and involves a climb over Teton Pass. For some reason I had never done this ride and I wanted to give it a shot. I had planned to take a half day off on Friday and the weather was perfect so I was committed.

I met Jay in Wilson, WY, at the foot of Teton Pass, and we began the ride with the big climb right out the gate. I knew I was in for a long day when I asked Jay what his heart rate was about 1/2 way up the pass and it was 25 bpm lower than mine.

I believe that if you want to improve at something it helps to train/compete with people who are better than you. Jay is on a far different level than I am so riding with Jay yesterday definitely forced me to "raise my game" and put out a big effort over the entire length of the ride. This was exactly what I was hoping for. From a training standpoint, I am sure I benefitted more from the ride than Jay did and I really appreciate him riding with me when he might have benefitted more from riding solo.

Ride Note: How is it that while doing a giant loop we had a freakin' headwind the entire ride? We laughed about this once we finished but it wasn't so funny at mile 100 when I was killing myself to go 14 mph!

The gear conversations are always a highlight of our rides. We talked about ultralight bike camping strategies, next year's snow bike races in AK, his Great Divide Race this year, and outfitting the ultimate 29er.

Thanks for a great ride Jay!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

My KTR secret weapon

Since I will show up to the KTR without any sort of acclimatization to the heat I figured I need some sort of edge and I think I may have found it:
I considered a handlebar mounted misting-fan but that might result in the inadvertent misting of a fellow racer and the rules of KTR clearly state that "no outside support should be accepted". I would hate to be DQ'd for inadvetent misting.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Tues Night Ride and a little tech

Last year was the first year I attended a group road ride of any type and at first it was a bit intimidating but I got more comfortable as the season went on. I seemed to frequently end up in "no man's land" in between the lead pack the chase group. My main goal was always to ride smoothe and not cause anyone else to wreck.

The Tues Night Ride kicked off the 07 season last night at 6pm and was well attended despite the cool temps. It felt good to be cruising along in the pack at 24-28 mph on the flats and I was able to hold my position all night. Sweet! In a few weeks when the group decides it is time to get serious I am sure I am in for a world of hurt but last night was good for the confidence and good interval training. Piker even talked me into attacking on the last hill which resulted in the highest heart rate I have seen since last summer.

The upgrade kit for my Lupine Wilma LED light showed up yesterday. I give Lupine two thumbs up for allowing customers to perform this upgrade at home. The instructions were simple and it took me all of 5 minutes to do it. Holy Flamethrower Batman! This upgrade increases the lumens from 420 to 750. I suck at photgraphy so there will be no before and after beam shots but the difference is very noticeable in the daylight.

I am looking forward to riding the Mary's/Lions/Troy's singletrack at night to see how much, or how little, light I can get away with for KTR. Even with no moon, I am betting that I can run this light at 50% brightness most of the ride and supplement it with a 3W on the helmet. That will give me plenty of runtime.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Springtime in the mountains

I looked out my office window at 12:15pm to see if a quick road ride at lunch was a go and it was sunny and 38F. I got changed, filled up a couple of bottles, and looked out the window 5 minutes later to see it snowing sideways. Doh!

Plan B is to let is snow a bit and then grab the snow bike for a Teton Canyon lap.

This past weekend's weather was much of the same but I was able to get in one good ride regardless. I tested out the MSR DromLite bladder filled with 200oz of water to get a feel for what it would be like to ride with that much weight on my shoulders. Yeah, it sucked. But the alternative during the KTR is severe dehydration so I may just have to suck it up. After I pre ride the course a bit I will finalize my filtering / water carrying strategy. Since my goal is simply to finish this thing I may opt for carrying a 100oz bladder + a 24oz bottle and stopping three times to filter.

The 2007 Tuesday Night World Championships officially begin tomorrow night over in Jackson. I enjoy getting absolutely throttled by this group of fast roadies and seeing my heart rate hit all-time highs so I will attend these rides most weeks as long as it is not a race week or a recovery week. I have learned that I don't fully recover from them for a few days.