Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Our St. George weekend didn't go exactly as planned

The pic that is mising from this post is of Michelle and/or her bike after the True GRIT race had been called off and Michelle was covered in mud and shivering at the finish line. With Michelle borderline hypothermic, it didn't seem like a great time to break out the camera for a Blog pic. Let's just say that I have never seen so much mud stuck to a bike.

You can read the full scoop on the True Grit race over at MTBRaceNews.com.

It was a frustrating weekend on two fronts: Michelle didn't get to finish the race and my head cold morphed into a sinus infection.

Michelle was riding well and actually dressed appropriately for the weather but the sticky red clay-like mud was just too much. She said that at one point she was literally dragging her bike because the wheels wouldn't turn and it was too heavy for her to lift. Yikes!

I was hoping to rebound from my cold and get some quality riding in. After a short 1.5 hour ride on Friday (I felt pretty good), I woke up Saturday feeling worse and things went downhill from there. Today is Day 12 of being sick and I think I have at least a couple days to go before I can think about training again. The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde on May 7th officially has gone from an "A" race to a training race for me.

Michelle on Zen Friday before the race. Photo cred to Dave Harris.

Me with a little body English on Zen. Photo cred to Dave Harris.

The storm was already building Friday and we finished our pre-ride just in time.

Dave Harris was rockin' the Milk Money with us on the Zen Trail Friday morning.

Lynda, being the wily veteran that she is, stole DH's down vest to stay warm before the start.

Look how clean and happy everyone is. Yeah, that lasted about 30 minutes and then Mother Nature threw a tantrum.

Monday, March 21, 2011

So there I was...

A)...lost in the Congo.

B)...shredding slickrock in Moab.

C)...riding the Teton Valley back roads in 36F rain/snow mix while heavily embrocated.

D)...huddled under a blanket within arm’s reach of Kleenex all weekend.

While Option A would have made for an excellent Blog post, I was definitely day-dreaming about Option B, and I had planned on back-to-back four hour rides fulfilling Option C, but in the end I was relegated to a sniffling & grumpy version of Option D.

Is it just me, or do all cyclists feel as if they are getting fatter and slower by the minute while lying around with a cold?

I have a couple more days before I start to get nervous about the longevity of my uninvited viral guest. We are heading to St George this coming weekend where M will race the True Grit 50 and I plan on simply riding glorious dry dirt in the sunshine.

Oh well, nothing epic to read here today, just move along to Adam’s or Scott’s Blog. Ha!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Togwotee Winter Classic, Race #2 Report

...fast forward to mile 29 of the 35 mile race. I was roughly 3 ½ hours into my race and as the CD Trail climbed up to its intersection with the V trail I got a glimpse of 2nd place. I hadn’t seen Bryan since the opening few miles of the race but I had closed the gap to 400 yards with 6 miles to go. I kept my pace steady and began strategizing my final attack. The term “attack” is relative on a snow bike since we are barely going 5-6 mph uphill despite being redlined. Bryan was not slowing down so it took me 5 miles to close the gap down to 25 yards and I didn’t have much left in the tank as we turned onto the final straight along the highway towards Togwotee Lodge. I tried to slow my breathing and recover for just a minute before making my final move. With 100 yards to go before crossing the highway I dropped two cogs and closed the gap down to five yards but Bryan responded and had enough juice left to burst ahead and ride into the lodge two seconds ahead of me. It was an excellent finish to a great race. I haven’t pushed that hard for that long in a while and it felt good.

And they're off!

I was excited for this race for a few reasons. I was coming into the race somewhat rested since my race at Old Pueblo only lasted 9 hours instead of 24, and I was anxious to see how my lower back would feel after a couple weeks of focused stretching & some yoga.

As usually, the early pace was fast and it took me about ten minutes to settle down and get into a groove. I also stopped early to let some air out of my tires for improved traction on the climbs. Our local fast-guy, Carey Smith, set a blistering pace and was soon out of sight. Strung out behind Carey were Bryan Safarik from SLC, Hamilton, and Bergy, followed by me at distance. Bergy and I passed Hamilton before the V Trail and traded positions early on the K Trail until I stopped again to let more air out of my tires. Every time the trail straightened out I could see Bergy ahead hammering in classic Bergy time-trialing style but I was determined to catch him. Near the end of the K Trail I finally caught up and we rode together for quite a while until I was able to pull ahead on a sustained climb.

My fueling was perfect. I mixed 8 scoops (800 calories) of Carbo Rocket 333 with 75 oz of water in my Osprey bladder and I took in roughly 400 calories of EFS Gel. I drained my pack with 20 minutes to go.

In their first real test, the 100mm rims rode great. However, I have some more work to do to gain the use of my 34T cog in the back but the additional float and stability with the 100s is probably worth it. I only had the use of five out of six cogs in the rear for the race and it would have been nice to have more gears. I’ll have more on the 100mm rim project later this week.

My average HR for the 4:15:00 race was 159 and I spent a lot of time above 170!

Full results and pics are posted on the Togwotee Winter Classic website.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The 100mm experiment

Snow bikes were invented to provide more floatation than a standard mountain bike. It stands to reason that the wider the rim, the more floatation you will achieve as long as you have a tire that will take advantage of the rim width. My first snow bike, the Wildfire, had 65mm Large Marge rims. My Fatback came with 80mm rims. In my quest for more float, I just had Fitzy's lace up a set of 100mm FlatTop rims.

The old 80mm rims next to the new 100mm rims

The project is not quite as simple as relacing the hubs to new rims which is why I call this an experiment. The 100mm rims take up a lot of real estate in the rear of the bike and I am going to lose a couple of gears in the process. I am hoping to keep 7 gears but I may end up with 6 in the rear to go with my triple in the front. The FlatTop rims themselves are very average in quality so I am not sure about longevity. I will post more on the experiment once I dial things in a bit more.

Fat wheels bolted to a Fat fork. Phat!

Today was my first ride on the 100s and they are very stable. The additional width and change to the tire profile is noticeable. We were relegated to backroads but we did ride through 6-8" of fresh snow on the unplowed section of Stateline Rd and I broke trail easily. Sweet!

I really wish my Endomorphs would last more than one season. Running them at 4 PSI wears out the sidewalls long before the tread.

We had a great ride on Teton Valley backroads and were stocked that the precip remained frozen and didn't turn to snain...or worse. :)

This guy didn't wave back or smile when we said hello so we will call him 'Crusty' from now on. He did have a cool snowblower tractor though.

M wasn't having any fun at all.

Riding & Smiling

Even more smiling...

Yeah, we still have a LOT of snow here Teton Valley.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


After the marathon two-day drive home from Tucson, AZ and the subsequent cleaning/unpacking of gear, it was time to address my back issue. My approach to fixing my back will be no different than researching a new piece of bike gear. I will gather as much info as possible, obsess over the pros & cons (there might be a spreadsheet involved), and then move forward with confidence.

Step #1 – Gathering Information
I took the first step before leaving Tucson when I made a Thursday afternoon appointment with Jen Fisher of Teton Therapeutic Massage. Jen has worked on me occasionally for a few years now and knows my normal hotspots. My visits to Jen are often “rewards” to myself after an endurance race and therefore she is used to seeing me sore. However, on the Thursday following Old Pueblo Jen bluntly said “you are a mess”. She was referring to my overly tight hamstrings and the lack of natural curve in my lower back. At the end of the session Jen handed me a Yoga schedule and told me directly “you need Yoga in your life”. Jen is by far the best massage therapist I have even been to and I respect her advice.

The Flat Back posture is often caused by muscle imbalance and/or tightness

Step #2 - Yoga
In a strange bit of fate, the Yoga Tejas studio in Driggs was offering a Beginner Intensive 5-night class starting the following Sunday night. I took it as a sign. My resistance to doing Yoga was due in part to feeling like I didn’t know how to do the poses correctly and therefore I felt like I was wasting my time. A bad first impression of Yoga was also lingering in my brain. I took my first Yoga class in Jackson last summer and walked out of it feeling like Yoga was way too hippy-dippy for me. A 5-night class would either get me on the right track or would prove once and for all that Yoga is not for me. After only 2 of 5 classes I already see the benefit. I really like the teaching style of Bridget Lyons and the pace of the class is quick and athletic.

Step #3 – A.R.T.The morning after Old Pueblo I received an email from my friend and pro cyclist Amanda Carey urging me to go see a woman in Jackson who practices A.R.T. Amanda had received several A.R.T. treatments for a back issue as well and recommended Josie highly. Josie works out of One to One Wellness and after a lengthy follow-up conversation with Amanda I made an appointment to see Josie on Monday. The One to One Wellness facility oozes energy and I immediately felt comfortable there. My first treatment was, well, intense. I almost launched off of the table several times when Josie dug into a problem area. Ironically, Josie was the second woman in less than a week to tell me “you are a mess”.

One of the best explanations of A.R.T. I have found is HERE.

This week is less about the bike and more about rebuilding my body so that I can begin training again without pain. I have plenty of time to ramp it back up before the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde in early May.