Monday, May 31, 2010

Around the Block

The "Around the Block" loop is a classic Jackson road ride. Two good climbs, over a hundred miles, and guaranteed headwind at some point make it a solid effort.

JayP, Bergy, and I banged it out on Sunday and miraculously avoided getting rained on. After Saturday's ride, I was VERY happy about this. I even strapped a small handlebar bag to my road bike (definitely a hardcore roadie faux pax) to carry a real rain jacket and neoprene gloves in addition to all of the other layers I was carrying. Nice work fellas, I am feeling it today.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

37F, Rain, and Frozen Stumps

How ironic that on the same day the 2010 Giro raced over the Gavia I would experience conditions similar to what Andy Hampsten experienced on the Gavia in 1988 when he heroically took the pink jersey and became the first American to win the Giro. Andy Hampsten descended the Gavia in a blizzard, with only Vaseline covering his bare legs, to take the Giro lead on a day when most would drop out. Today I was not Andy Hampsten.

Today's Giro stage went over the Gavia in cool, dry conditions

Andy Hampsten was BMF on this day in 1988

A steady 37F rain turned to a rain/snow mix when I reached the top of Teton Pass and turned around to descend back down into Victor, ID. Despite adding all of my layers, I was frozen by the time I was halfway down and my hands were suffering the most. I was comfortable, even sweating a bit, while climbing but I ran out of mountain and as my effort level decreased the cold set in for good.

I own many, many pairs of gloves that I have accumulated for skiing, snow biking, cycling, etc. However, it is evident that I don't own the proper hand wear for 37F and raining. Not being able to shift, brake, or reach for a gel is little disconcerting. I found myself riding with my hands balled up into fists and resting on top of my bars which is not the safest thing while riding a road bike in the rain. I told myself to just pedal harder, which I did, but the deep cold had settled in for good. After a little more than three hours I was done. Crap.

Neoprene Bar Mitts might have helped today

NRS makes a kayak glove that might also prove valuable in steady rain

There is also a little item by Mountain Laurel that I plan to test shortly thanks to JayP.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pacing Drill

How many times have you simply survived an interval workout? You talk to yourself, you turn your iPod up louder, you dream of the bacon cheeseburger you will consume as a reward, and you watch the seconds tick by like cold molasses.

Today's interval session certainly had some fitness benefits but it also included a learning objective. What is your body telling you at different outputs? The goal was to train myself to *know* what power I am producing by observing perceived exertion signals.

My completed homework assignment

Interval #1 - 20' right smack in the middle of Zone 3 (Tempo)
This is my happy place. I felt like I could ride for a long time at this level.
Pedal Force - there is noticeable force on the pedals but not the kind of force that feels like it is doing muscle damage.
Breathing - controlled breathing, could talk if I needed to
Drool Level - 2 out of 10, controllable and socially acceptable

Interval #2 - 20' at the low end of Zone 4 (Threshold)
This level still felt good but a few warning signs crept in.
Pedal Force - just shy of the kind of force that you feel deep in the muscle.
Breathing - still controlled but a bit more labored. Could talk but couldn't carry on a conversation at this level.
Drool Level - 4 out of 10, socially acceptable among fellow cyclists but a little drool certainly hit the top tube.

Interval #3 - 20' Pin it. (Goal of maximizing my 20' average watts)
I knew this would hurt and it did. Specifically, the legs begin to really burn about 10' into it and I have to block out all thoughts other than "keep pedaling".
Pedal Force - um, yeah. This is a deep slow burn but it is different than a sprint finish at the Tues Night Worlds.
Breathing - CTB! (stands for Can't Talk, Breathing) No conversation going on here. I might be able to manage a grunt...but probably not. HR is pretty close to max for the last few minutes of the interval.
Drool Level - 9.5 out of 10, absolutely socially unacceptable and passing cars were probably horrified by the sight me spewing saliva and grunting my way up Teton Pass.

This was a solid workout AND I learned a bunch by paying attention. Thanks Coach.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Boise 9 to 5

I have decided to try a new event and plan to race the Boise 9 to 5 on June 12th.

Roughly 1,000' of climbing per lap should feel very Targhee-like

Here are my "Top Ten" reasons for racing the Boise 9 to 5
10. I have never ridden in Boise, ID and this is a great excuse
9. Boise is only 5 hours away
8. It is the perfect occasion to bust out the new Fitzgerald’s Bicycles Team
EZ-Up tent
7. Odds are good that I won’t go off course since it is a only a 9-mile lap
instead of a 100-mile race
6. The 9am start time is a very civilized way to start a race
5. I like to support first-year endurance events
4. The new singlespeed is dying to go to a race, even if it will be the “B” bike
3. We get to visit TK, Chellie, and future Cyclocross Junior National Champ, Henry
2. An 8 hour solo effort will be great training for the Cream Puff
1. Temps should be warmer than here in the “icebox” also known as Teton Valley, ID

Friday, May 21, 2010

I see fenders and shoe covers in my future

Mother Nature is testing the resolve of cyclists in our region again.

Five hours in the saddle planned for Sat means one thing:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Short Sleeves, Dry Dirt, and a Singlespeed

Teton Valley, ID finally has a little dry dirt to ride...thank god! I took the singlespeed out for its maiden singletrack voyage and enjoyed an hour and a half of dry dirt and sunshine. Greatness. I rode for an hour and a half because that is all the dry dirt there is at the moment. Ha!

For the locals, I parked at the end of Horseshoe and started on the Choo Choo connector trail, climbed Bovine, rode Southbound out and back, descended Bovine, and then back to the parking lot on the Choo Choo connector.

The singlespeed was super fun (fun might be an understatement) and a nice change of pace. The 32x20 was a good choice for the Bovine climb. More thoughts later once I have a little more time in the singlespeed saddle.

Southbound is totall dry except for the one section that is in the trees

Good views on Southbound

Bovine is SO fun to rip downhill

Don't even think about riding anything in the trees yet

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Single and Sexy Baby!

After what might have been the most drawn-out bike build in the history of bike builds, I finally finished building up my new Niner One9 singlespeed. Quite a while back I sold my Salsa La Cruz to fund this project but our weather just wasn't inspiring me to get this thing built up. A recovery week provided the perfect bike building window.

I really like the way my Niner Air9 fits and rides so when I decided to build a singlespeed it was no-brainer to buy the One9 which has the exact same geometry. Plus, the scandium Niner hardtails are reasonably priced compared to the new carbon offerings so it didn't sting too bad.

The Build - 22lbs
Niner One9 Frame - Large, Raw finish
Fox F29 Fit RLC with Remote Lockout & 15mm Quick Release*
Stans 355 Rims laced to DT 240 Hubs
Thomson Masterpiece seatpost & Thomson stem
Edge Composites Mountain Sweep Flat Bar - 700mm
Ergon GR2 Carbon grips
King headset & bottom bracket
XTR M970 crankset with Blackspire 32T ring
Magura Marta SL Mag brakes with Jagwire housing for a little extra bling
Schwalbe Racing Ralphs with Snake Skin sidewalls

*I find it interesting that Fox only offers the F29 with a remote lockout on a fork with a 15mm axle given that a remote lockout is a "racer" feature. The 15mm axle adds weight to the fork and I personally haven't felt as if I needed it.

I am a singlespeed noob so I have no idea where I should have placed the EBB. I also not sure how tight the chain should be so I took a guess and pedaled around the driveway...the chain stayed on so that is a good start. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

12 Hours of Mesa Verde Race Report

The fact that I DNF’d this race last year definitely added to my pre-race nerves. I re-read my notes from last year’s race and knew there was a lot of room for improvement.

My plan was to average 1:45:00 laps, including pit stops, and do seven laps. It looks so simple on paper. The looming question was whether I would have any drama along the way. 12 hours is a long time to ride non-stop and odds are pretty good that something will go sideways during that time. Would my “Hot Foot” issues from last year resurface? Would dehydration be a factor this year? Could I avoid a time-sucking mechanical?

Git' sum!

Let’s light this candle!
I lined up on the front row for the Lemans start and planned to “pin it”. Now let’s be clear about this; “pinning it” during the run is relative. Damn, some of those boyz can run fast. When the gun went off and the thundering herd lurched forward, I channeled my inner Bo Jackson and rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled as fast as I could around the barn to my strategically placed (thanks LW) bike so I could begin riding as soon as possible. I was in the front 20% of the race when we hit the race track so my mission was accomplished. Phew! I wanted to go fast, but not too fast on the opening lap.

Everyone is fast in the beginning
When you pick up your packet at Mesa Verde they give the solo racers an orange ribbon to put on your saddle so that everyone knows who the solos are. Whenever I got passed early in the race by an orange ribbon I would make a mental note and ask myself “can he keep it up?” Mesa Verde attracts a deep field in all categories so there is very little “fluff” floating around the course. This is especially true during the first two laps when everyone thinks they have a shot at the title and their espresso hasn’t worn off yet.

The 16.4 mile course at Mesa Verde has a way of slowly, almost sneakily, beating you down. I learned this the hard way last year. Much of the course is sinewy, buffed singetrack but a few sections, like Green Lizard and Tuffy’s Rim, take their toll on your body. All of a sudden that hardtail isn’t feeling as good as it did on the first lap is it? In contrast, I can’t think of a better lap-race course anywhere. Even after the late-race pains had set in I was smiling through the Vertebrae and Rib Cage sections. You can pull some serious “Gs” through the Rib Cage if you dare. By about the 4th lap, the course noticeabley thins out and you can tell that some folks are taking longer breaks in their pit.

Mr. Blue Jersey
My race was ticking along nicely through four laps and I was right on schedule. Yeah, my lower back hurt, I had a few twinges of hot foot, and my hands were getting a little sore. Experience told me that every little pain has its moment and will eventually pass. Somewhere in the middle of my 5th lap I got passed by a solo racer in a blue jersey. He passed me easily but never quite rode away. I could always see him ahead, a few corners up the trail. Of course I wondered “can he keep it up?” He was now my rabbit. Mr. Blue Jersey was a fit looking fellow and was riding solidly. Not too “bursty” on the climbs and steady downhill…a worthy adversary indeed. My pit stop between laps 5 & 6 was quick and I unkowingly passed Mr. Blue Jersey but before long he was back. He passed me again about halfway around lap 6 but this time the gap would stay much smaller and I consciously tried to keep it that way. The great thing about a mini “race within the race” is that you inadvertently pass other racers along the way as well. Mr. Blue Jersey and I passed several solos during lap 6 before coming into the timing tent wheel-to-wheel.

Last Lap
There was no way I could finish lap 7 before the 6:30 pm cutoff time so I knew this was going to be it and there was no reason to leave anything in the tank. Michelle had finished her race and helped me make a quick pit stop and get right back back out there. Based on how strong he was the previous two laps, I just knew that I would battle Mr. Blue Jersey til’ the bitter end and I was already calculating my options for a glorious last-lap attack. But it was not to be. Just before entering the singletrack on the last lap I saw him straddling his bike, drinking from his water bottle, and his body language told me that he was not going to chase me. I still looked over my shoulder every few minutes throughout the lap but there would be no drama. My last lap was one of my best despite puncturing my rear tire with four miles to go. The Stans goo did its job but I lost too much air and a squirmy rear tire was dangerous on this course. I quickly hit it with a CO2 and finished the lap without having to add a tube. I finished my last lap with a total time of 11:49:00 which means that I missed the cuttoff to go out for a final lap by 20 minutes.

The Stats

Being consistent and finishing strong always feels good as does executing a race plan.

Lingering Thought
Do you need to blow up spectacularly once in a while in order to learn how fast you can truly go?

The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde is a great, great race! I felt lucky to be racing on such incredible singletrack and the organizers do a great job. Oh yeah, I will be back next year looking for those 20 minutes...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sweet Revenge - 12 Hours of Mesa Verde Quick Post

Last year the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde chewed me up and spit me out. I DNF'd after 9+ hours with sever foot pain and I really, really hate to DNF. This year I focused on the process, stayed positive throughout, and banged out seven consistent laps. Unofficially, I ended up 10th male solo.

Seeing no major dips in the red line makes me happy

Monday, May 3, 2010

Skinny tires and cold hands

The reality of living at 6,200' is that spring shows up a bit later than in most places. Every year I go through this. I think that flipping the calendar to May will magically bring warm temps and dry dirt. Not so fast my friends. We woke up to 2" of fresh snow in the yard Sunday morning but luckily the roads melted off pretty quickly and we enjoyed a great ride to Targhee with JayP and T-Race.

The climb to Targhee is still very wintry

Saturday's ride was a combination of specific efforts and dodging snow squalls

A nice sunset off the front deck Sunday evening

This week is all about getting ready for the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. I have fork seals to replace, a brake to bleed, and pit stuff to a little riding to stay loose. I just hope its warm in Cortez, CO next weekend!