Monday, July 31, 2006

Rest Day

The title sez it all, don't ya think?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Guess this Tapering Stuff Works

I raced at Loomis Park in Fort Dodge today. It was hot. Not “I think I need another lemonade” hot. It was more like, “My skin is melting” hot.

Dave rode to the race up with Christy and I. He had called the night before wondering if we had room a 4th bike, announcing that he had a surprise ride. Sunday morning he showed up with a Gary Fisher 29”er demo from Bike World. Dave and I were both excited to try it out, and Dave was going to race it. So we took off with my Fuel and 8500, and his Giant NRS and GF 29”er.

When we got to Loomis Park about 10:30, there was a sign-up table, and Nick and Aaron were there, but that was about it. Shortly after we got there, Cam arrived. OK, we must be in the right place.

There was a spot of bother regarding start times. The race organizers were considering starting the Sport Class at 1:30 after the Experts were finished (WTF? Why make us wait until the heat of the day?). In the end, we went off in the normal fashion (Experts with Sport trailing by seconds).

Having done a full taper for this race, I hoped to do well. I went off fast, in the back of the lead group. I fell early on an uphill switch back and got passed by a few riders while getting back up. I passed most of them back later in the race. I rode for much of the race with Taylor Webb of Irwin's / Toyota and Jacob Naumann of Rasmussen Bike Shop. At around lap three or four Thad dropped back from the front and paced me right up to Taylor, then lead me out past Taylor in the grassy section. It really helped me, but I didn’t have the stamina to make the pass stick. It was cool to ride up there with those guys for a while. Around lap five I starting getting the chills on the down hill sections. I knew that wasn’t good, so I slowed down a little, drank a little more water and held my position to the finish.

I finished 6th of 16 in the Sport class, and 2nd in my age group. For the IMBCS Series, I got 1st place points the +45 Sport class. I am doing everything I can to hang on the points lead on that class. Although it was a very hard effort (I had an average heart rate for the race of 165 - pretty good for an old guy), I was happy with the result, and that made it all worth while.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ready for Race Day

On Friday I ordered a couple of WTB Rocket V seats at Bike World to replace those broken during the carnage earlier. I'm hoping a more durable seat will solve my problems. I've also been experimenting with moving the seat forward in the rails, and raising the seat height to 1/4" to 30.5". After some IT band trouble this winter I lowered my seat position to the standard 0.883*inseam (0.883*34.25" = 30.25”). It seemed to solve the IT band soreness, but I always felt like my seat was a little low, so I compensated by moving it back in the rails some. The result - broken seat rails (OK - Ti rails didn't help). We will see how the WTBs hold up.

I was thinking about going up to Fort Dodge today to pre-ride tomorrow's race course. I had ridden the course last Sunday, so the ROI would be minimal. Besides, it was stinking hot today! So, I went out for a quick spin (1.5 hours) on the Madone. I rode for a while with a female tri-athlete that was training for an Iron man in Wisconsin in September. She was doing a 100 mile day. I turned back at McCallsburg, where she still had about 80 miles to go. Wow! Good for her!

Tomorrow is Fort Dodge. I have done a full taper for this race, so I plan on putting it all out there. It will be hot, but heat does not bother me. I have a well-tested hydration and nutrition plan. I plan on riding the Fuel, but will take the 8500 just in case. The course suits me well. It should be fun.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tapering is Hard

I think I have figured out where I am with my training. It took a trip to Boone to do it (Boone does a good job of clearing one’s head). I started up at the campground. By the time I got to the bottom and started up the base climb was feeling really strong. I was clearing things in a higher gear and feeling good doing it. Maybe my training peak wasn’t lost after all. Mid-ride I decided to take it easy, and save some for Sunday at Fort Dodge.

I rode the whole course on the middle ring. I know that doesn’t sound too impressive for a welterweight, but for me, (46 years old, 195 pounds – down from 230 last fall, and a newby to mountain bike racing) it was pretty cool – all without overexerting myself. It’s nice see some good results from training. I hope to see the same on Sunday.

I think that my time on the Rig also has something to do with my increased climbing ability. I have noticed an increase in both strength, and standing climbing ability (which I was lacking).

For my race taper, I’ll take Wednesday off, and I’m going to skip the Bike World group ride on Thursday. With the pace of that ride, nothing good can come from it. I’ll go for an easy spin at Peterson’s on Thursday, take Friday off (tapering is hard), and maybe drive up to Fort Dodge on Saturday for a few laps to get the course dialed in.

I put some Michelin XCR A/Ts on the 8500, so, heaven forbid; now I have a mud bike.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Broke Seat Mountain

Went out yesterday on the 8500 at Peterson’s and broke another seat! It was an old Bontrager seat that I put on after the seat carnage weekend at Sockum Ridge (where I broke two Serfas seats in one weekend – good thing I had a spare bike, and the Andy was nice enough to let me use it). Does anybody have a good recommendation on a durable, lightweight, and cheap seat (I know, two out of three). I’m in the market for about three of them. I’m leaning towards WTB.

Today I drove up to Loomis park in Fort Dodge to pre-ride the course for next weekend. I stopped in Webster City to pick up teammates Nick and Aaron. We had had a great time and rode about 5-6 laps. It was good to go up and get the first lap jitters out of my system. By the end of the last lap we were flying much faster than when we started.

I’ve kind of lost track of where I am at with my training. At the beginning of the year I had scheduled a training peak for the NORBA state championship and Iowa Games. Those both turned into washouts (one was held in the mud and probably should not have been, one was cancelled and should not have been). I suppose I should regroup and start another build period and try to plan a peak for the Boone stage race in September.

I know I promised pictures of the Madone and the new Team Kits, but I’m tired, and the tour beckons (we are several days behind, so no spoilers).

Friday, July 21, 2006

Thursday Night Group Ride

I went out last night with the Bike World Thursday night group ride. I’m not much of a roadie, but I’m trying to learn. I’ve read that if you want to get faster on a mountain bike, ride with roadies. It was a good group, with 10-12 guys. The CICC guys were there, along Belgium Paul, and a couple of guys I didn’t know. Belgium Paul (BP) just got back from Belgium (hence the name) where he was racing with the U23 program, and had some great stories to tell. That guy has some serious speed.

We headed towards Nevada on Lincoln way, and then turned north. It was a fast pace, averaging 23-25 mph into the wind, and then we turned west towards Roland. As we were approaching Roland, I expected the usual “Stop Ahead” sign Sprint, so when Mel broke out, I jumped on his wheel. Nobody else was close, so when Mel slowed a little bit, I jumped. I then realized why Mel had slowed down. We had been sprinting for a teeter-totter sign. BP says you get points taken away for sprinting to the wrong kind of sign. I stayed off the front until the real Stop Ahead sign, and then waiting for the pack at the Casey’s. Because of that effort, I got dropped going up the Skunk River hill, but one of the guys was nice enough to come back and pull me back on.

Turning south on the county line road we averaged an incredible 30-32 mph, with BP leading a single line much of the way. Damn, that guy is fast. It was pretty to watch from the back.

Ride Stats:
55.1 miles
22.0 mph average speed
2.5 hours on the bike

Steve let me have the Madone today. Sweet! I’ll put pictures of it and the new Team 14 kit up later.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Single Speeding Again

I took the Rig out again last night. Lately I’ve been riding the Rig more, because I was going to go single speed in the Iowa Game MTB race. But as I ride it more, and improve my single speed skills, it’s become more fun to ride. Last night I worked on a slow cadence climbing technique that I read about in a single speed article in Mountain Bike Action. The technique helps you get past the dead spot at the top of the pedal stroke. As you move through power part of the stroke, slowly move your body away from the bars. Then when you get to the dead spot at the top of the stroke, throw your upper body towards the bars. This adds enough forward momentum to get you back to the meat of the stroke (all this while rocking the bike with the Ergon bar ends). It sounds funny (and probably looks even funnier), but it does work. I also now remember seeing Squirrel doing the same thing it (although he’s such a natural talent, he probably doesn’t even know he’s doing it). Once I figured it out, it feels very natural. I made it up a few short, steep climbs last night that had previously given me some trouble. I hope some of this transfers back to the Fuel, making me a better climber on a geared bike.

I rode at Peterson’s and on the Bear Creek trail that I cleaned up last night. It sure takes a lot longer to navigate a trail with a weed whacker than it does with a bike

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

No body out tonight

Went out tonight and did 3.5 hours of trail work at Bear Creek down by where they found a body a few years ago (insert scary music here). I only found scary heat and humidity, and scary infestations of Stinging Nettle and Poison Ivy. Good to have the trail cleared. I hope somebody (not another dead one) notices.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Iowa Games Road Race

Christy and I went to the Iowa Games road race today. We were just going to hang out for a little while, but it turned in fun time with lots of Team 14 guys racing, so we stayed until the end. Thad also had the new team kits for us today – they are very cool.

We hung out with Sean, Bruce, Chris’ girlfriend (never got her name) and handed up bottles to the Team 14 guys in the feed zone. It was a good time helping out.

Several people asked me “Where’s your bike? How come you aren’t racing today?” I guess it’s time I get over this irrational fear of road racing (although after watching the Tour tonight, and watching Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis), David Cañada (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile). and go over a guardrail, maybe it’s not so irrational).

The Iowa Games road race was a bit of a death march because of the heat and humidity. After the race we gave Cory and Matt a ride back to Ames. They both rode from Ames to the race planning on riding home afterwards. I really admire those endurance guys. I don’t know how they do it. I think they are both going to do Guitar Ted’s Death March in August. Today was probably good training for that.

Self portrait for the profile

Keaton and me.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lets Get This Party Started

I've been putting this off blogging thing for a while. It seems like most of the people that I know that ride bikes (at least the fast ones) have blogs. Does blogging make you faster?

Because I have put this off for a while, some of the stories from the road have been lost. Others will be recalled as time permits. I'm sure the good stuff will surface over time.

The Iowa Games MTB race was postponed because of the rain on Monday and Thursday this week. Sadly, I rode the course at Peterson’s this afternoon and it was perfect. It was only wet in the usual places (North trail between East and West sides). I understand why they did what they did, because it was pretty sloppy on Friday morning. Aside from perfect trail conditions, it was 90+ degrees, and I drank 4 bottles in two hours, but I had the trails to myself.

While I was at Peterson’s, I also talked with one of the Park Rangers about putting in some trail work so I can earn extra IMBCS point. She was cool with that. I’m doing the work anyway. I might as well get credit for it. I’ve got some cool ideas for switchbacks up the rest area creek hill at Sopher’s, but I’ll probably start with some weed whacking down by Bear Creek.

Christy and I are going over to Boone to watch the Iowa Games Road Race tomorrow morning. We’ve been watching the tour non-stop since it started, and its sounds like fun to go watch a real road race (especially since I know several of the racers).

Best Tour joke of the day - The Discovery Channel team has had a change in sponsorship, to the History Channel.