Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Holidays!

What a Blog slacker I am! A belated Merry Christmas to everyone!

Time flies when riding, pushing, skiing, skating, and spending time with friends.

We took our snow bikes for long walks before Christmas

Christmas Day at the Ghee, our first resort day of the season, was excellent!

Skate Skiing has been great and Teton Canyon has become our "go to" skate since it is only 10 minutes away

I am going to try and get a big ride in tomorrow regardless of the weather but I may have to get creative and include some snow packed road riding to do it. I do worry about cars not being able to avoid me when I am on snowy roads.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Army Training, Sir!

Near the end of the ride, as Jay and I were intermittently pushing our bikes throught the sugary snow, I had a flash back to the eighties. Bill Murray's voice popped into my head and I could hear him say to Seargent Hulka, "Army Training, Sir"!

Last year when I rode this loop conditions were better, but not great, and it took me 4:25:00. Yesterday, tough snow conditions turned the ride into an epic slog that took 6:25:00 (moving time). With brief stops to change air pressures, adjust layers, test boots in the icy creek, and eat, we were out there for a total time of 7:12:00.

Exposed areas were windblown and especially tough to ride.

Jay decided to test his boots in the overflow. He's crazy like that.

Jay and I guessed that we pushed our bikes 2-2.5 hours of the 6.5 hours of moving time. From a training standpoint, this ride was a great learning experience and hard effort. Several aches and pains popped up after pushing my bike for that long and now I can work on fixing them.

We rode the loop counter-clockwise yesterday and we both agreed that clockwise is a better direction.

Random post-ride thoughts:

1) The 25-mile loop version of the Togwotee Winter Classic was intended to be fun but challenging. Due to the tough conditions, most folks would probably not consider yesterday's ride fun.
2) When planning you calories for a snow bike ride, double what you think you will need.
3) Snow conditions dictate the speed. A combination of consistently cold, cloudy weather, a bit of wind, and minimal early season grooming left the trails sugary and unconsolidated. It was challenging to pick rideable lines in the wide trail all day.
4) Fig Newtons went down pretty well and are not too affected by the temps.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Lunch Ride

Friday's lunch ride with Rick was a good reminder of a few key snow biking rules:

#1 - Bring extra layers, especially for the head
#2 - Drink early and often and carry a backup bottle
#3 - Pack plenty of warm clothes for the drive home

Turnaround spot at the end of Darby Canyon

Rick and his new Pugsley...we actually rode from Rick's house! He is stoked.

So my Camelbak hose froze right out of the gate despite me blowing into the valve after each drink. Let's just say I didn't drink nearly enough for a two hour ride. My feet were noticeably colder after only two hours and I believe the dehydration was a big factor. Dumb. These are all good lessons to learn on short rides close to home.

Big ride planned for Sunday!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thoughts on elevation

Friday's snow bike ride with JayP was part training, part exploration, and part experiment. In addition to checking out part of the Togowotee Winter Classic 100-mile course, I wanted to capture some ride data and compare the results using the tools that I have. The main number I was interested in was elevation gain.

On the handlebars I had my trusty Polar 720i HR monitor as well as my Garmin eTrex Vista HCX to capture a track log. Both will capture elevation gain.

Step #1 - download file from Polar 720i into the Polar Performance Software. Elevation gain = 2,119'

Polar Performance Software Graph

Step #2 - Upload the file from the Polar into Training Peaks. Elevation Gain = 2,700'

Training Peaks Graph from Polar 720i file

Step #3 - Download file from Garmin eTrex HCX to National Geographic TOPO!. Choose "build profile" option from Route. Elevation Gain = 1,474'

National Geographic TOPO! Map & Profile

Step #4 - Download the same track file directly from the Garmin into Garmin's MapSource Software. Track is created but no elevation gain number is created.

Step #5 - Using MapSource, take .GDB file that was created when I downloaded the track, then save the track file as a .GPX file and upload to MotionBased. File can be viewed here. Elevation gain = 2,866'.

I used two tools to capture the data and four tools to look at the data. This resulted in four different elevation gain numbers. Arghh!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A new focus

With the Susitna 100 only ten weeks away, I have a new focus and part of my plan to be ready to rock on Feb 16th is some high intensity work on the trainer which began this past Tuesday.

I haven't done many high intensity efforts since October and after this morning's session I am feeling it. In addition, the PowerTap does not lie and I don't really like what its telling me.

When I hopped on the trainer, both Tuesday and this morning, I had a preconceived idea of what my power numbers "should" look like. Granted, I have no historical data because I haven't been using the PT very long and never for trainer intervals. So it was really just a guess. Regardless, I was mad at that little yellow glob of plastic sitting on my handlebars by the time I was done today. I thought "you f'n liar..I am sending you back for recalibration!" Ha! Maybe it was the Metallica I had on the iPod but I was a bit grumpy after I had grunted and snorted my way to my final "lack of" power numbers. At least there is a lot of room for improvement!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Awesome winter weekend

This weekend finally "felt" like winter. We don't have a ton of snow yet below 8000' but it was 18F-25F most of the weekend and a bit more of the white stuff came down.

We started off Saturday morning with a group skate ski up at the 'Ghee, followed by a big 'ole breakfast at our house. Then the group rallied for a snow hike in gorgeous conditions with big flakes falling straight down the entire time.

Michelle was itching to get out for her first snow bike ride of the season so we hit Teton Canyon Sunday AM with Kenai and had a nice 90 minute ride.

Riding conditions are perfect right now since the canyon is still open to vehicles and the road base is firm.

Sunday afternoon I met JayP and T-Race back up at the Ghee for more skate skiing. Those two make the steep hills look easy and I had to resort to my "flailing crab" technique a couple of times near the end. I think my skating made some progress this weekend though because my glutes are sore today and I did have a few moments where I felt pretty good. Learning to skate ski on a track with lots of hills is good & bad. I am getting an incredible workout but I know I am working much harder than I need to because my technique is not great yet. If I can learn to ski well at the Ghee I will be flying when the flatter tracks open up. I also need to learn the step turn for the fast downhills. I had a spectacular wreck on a fast downhill trying to simply power-slide around the corner. Ha!

I am officially entered in the Susitna 100 , Michelle is entered in the Little Su, and plane tickets are purchased. Woohoo!