Monday, May 21, 2012

Block 1 and a trip to Anniston

Well, training for this year got off to a flying start.  Besides getting on the bike about 2 weeks earlier than I had thought, I was actually able to stay pretty consistent with my days.  I knew this year I wanted to put in about 50-60hrs of base miles (something I really didn’t do last year) with some good Tempo, Hill work, and group rides.  Just trying to apply as many layers of base paint as I could, to develop the strength I didn’t get last year. 

Things went pretty well, despite a head cold that took out half of my third week.  After the first three weeks, it was time for a rest week that was leading in to my first race of the season; the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, AL (Masters B).  This would be a return of sorts for me as I last raced here as a Cat 2 in 1994 (I believe, hard to remember that far back).  So we packed up the car and started the long drive from Idaho to Alabama where we would be splitting the next two or so weeks between my mother’s house in Dothan, and my bother-in-laws fishing camp in Georgia.  

The drive went well, and finding myself just outside Kansas City, MO on Wed., I decided to get out on the bike to stretch my legs.  It was a great day to ride and would be the first ride of the year in shorts and a short sleeve jersey (time to work on the tan!).  The riding in Missouri is good; decent roads, well behaved motorists, and good weather, but after an hour of riding I felt like I was at a catholic wedding…stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down…repeat!  I’m not sure there is any flat ground in the whole state.  I remember reading about Christian Vandevelde being super frustrated one day at the Tour of Missouri due to the endless little hills; I get what he means.  The other exciting thing about riding in Missouri (and everywhere in the South I would learn) are the dogs.  On practically every ride I did after that, I would end up trying to out run or squirt one of our rabid four-legged friends.  It got a bit comical after a week or two as I was basically bringing three water bottles with me on rides; one to spray the dogs, one to spray on me, and one to drink.

On the morning of Anniston, things were moving along smoothly.  My race wasn’t until 1.20p, so we met up with some old friends of Mel’s that lived in the area during the morning and let Zoe play in the Kids's Zone area.  Anniston is an NRC race and the beginning of Speedweek, which is the biggest batch of races for Criterium riders all season.

The course is a 1k rectangle of slightly dusty, older, bumpy cement, that rises 33 feet on the front stretch and back down on the back side.  I had prepared myself and warmed up well, but looking around at all the tanned and very fit legs, I wasn't sure this was going to be a pleasant return to big time crit racing for me.  

And I was right. 

The gun went off, and I got a good start...then immediately went on the limit.   I was a bit timid as we screamed down the backstretch and I lost a few places, beginning the climb in around tenth place.  This where I deployed a age old tactic used by heavier riders when confronted with a hill...The Fat-Man Fade.  The idea being to bomb the decent to gain places, starting the climb at the front and gradually slide back to the back of the field by the top of the climb, still within contact, and repeat.

This worked for a few laps, but due to the fact I was still a bit rusty on my pack surfing, I wasn't able to get to the front at one point and once I had to start the climb from the back, it was all over.  So, I started training, instead of racing.  I don't like to pull out of crits unless they pull me, so I sat up, waited till they came back around, and got back on.

I would repeat this process 2 more times, eventually finishing at the tail end of he field.  Not the most glamours start to the season, but necessary.  I need these shocks to the system to get it ready for the real racing that lies ahead.  My time will come.  

It was really cool to line up at a big race, feel the flow, and begin to fell that I belong a bit.
Gonna be a good season folks, I can feel it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Back to the 'Base'ics

Sorry for the delays.  It was a very busy season for us at the mountain, requiring a lot of finish work to get everything done before the closing and vacation.  Ended up being the busiest year ever for F&B, even with less than stellar snow this winter.

Oh, and the less than stellar snow?  Well that's the other reason I haven't been writing...I've actually been riding.  As you saw on my last post, we were able to start riding the roads up here March 5th and were able to keep riding pretty much all spring.  Now, that doesn't mean its all tulips and hummingbirds.  It means the roads aren't frozen, and that's about it.  You still look like the Michelin Man due to the absurd amount of clothes you are wearing; it still snows on you while your riding; and 50F is a nice warm ride.

Despite all the un-comforts, I still managed to get 18+ hours of training in March and 27+hours of training in April.  All for the most part base miles and lower LT type work, but riding none the less.  My approach this year is a bit more patient than last year, and I will be posting my Training Blocks with these posts.  Everything has been going to plan so far, minus a few missed days with a cold in the beginning of April.

Two things giving me a lot of motivation lately are Strava and the Fitzy Group Rides.  We got our first group ride going on March 11th and things have been rolling from there.  The group rides have been great way to get to know the rest of the team as we have a lot of new faces this year (me included).

And then there was Strava...  This little gadget is awesome.  And even better, its free.  All you have to do is go to the website, have a smart phone or Garmin device, and your off and running.  Now, I've never been a real nerd when it came to bike stuff.  To me, if the wheels were round, I couldn't break it, and I could go reasonable fast; I would ride it.  Strava however, has me totally geeking out over my data.  It lets me look at what I've done and get a look at everyone else as well.  Kinda cool.  If you don't have it, check it out.  So that's enough for today.  I will be getting my Anniston Race Report out next.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Things I've learned from my dog...

Karma is a supreme being.

Doesn't sound much like me, huh?  I know by now, you are used to my cinical way of looking at things (mainly myself), and talk of karma and supreme beings isn't really jivving with the nature of these posts.

Karma is my German Shepard.  The most tenacious, ferice, loyal creature to roam the earth.  This dog would follow me to the ends of the earth and back if meant he could stay by my side.  Whether it be hiking, mtn biking, canoeing...whatever, he would turn himself inside out to keep up.

 It used to scare me sometimes.  I remember him collapsing under a tree after a paticularly fast decent of the Putt-Putt trail in Cache Creek one time.  Or the time he swam half of Slide Lake and nearly drown, simply because I was in a canoe without him.  One time I even hiked to the top of Mt. Taylor with him, giving him two peanut butter sandwiches and the rest of my water at the top for fear he would run out of gas.  This dog one time locked himself in our truck and proceeded to try to eat his way out, cause he was on the inside, and we on the out.

This dog simply has no fear, and a total disregard for himself when it comes to something he wants. 

God, I envy him.

Unfortunatly, it isn't until now I realize the things he has taught me.  I want nothing more than to be fearless to the point of stupidity.  I want nothing more to be tenacious in the face of futility.  I want nothing more than to attack everything I do with the ferocity of my dog Karma.

Karma died this morning.

After 11 years together, I have finally learned the lesson he was trying to teach me all this time.

Karma suffered through 2 months of discomfort and 2 days of relenless pain...all cause he wouldn't let go.

I took my first ride of the new year outdoors today.  It was a beautifully sunny, 47F degree day.  I  rode for 1:20, all the while thinking about what I had learned.

This year...I wanna be like Karma.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Yup...little sore

Hello Kids and Kittens,

Yup, I'm back.  I realize my last post for 2011 was a bit hasty, but that's kinda how the season ended for me.  I finished that epic race in Rexburg in the cold and snow, and got right back to my real job as a cook getting ready for the ski season.  I have only recently been able to come up for air to try to get some workouts in.

So looking forward, the good news is...

  1. I'm super amped for next season.
  2. I'm back with the boys in green and orange, flying the Fitzgerald's Bicycles colors for the 2012.
  3. I haven't really gained too much winter weight and stand at a reasonable 232lbs.
  4. I've already started training for next season indoors with the rest of the team at Fitzy's new Headquarters here in Victor, ID, while also getting in some strength training and hockey each week.
  5. I've mapped out my training program (pending approval of Jedi Master Dave Byers) for the year that should be a bit more realistic for a guy like me.
Bad news is...
  1. I still weigh 232lbs...
  2. I really didn't get started on any off-season training until Jan 18th
  3. After each workout, I can barely get out of bed in the morning.
The first indoor training session (which is way cool by the way), didn't go as well as I had hoped.  I was so far behind the leaders, I ended up not finishing our 17.34 mile simulated time trial for fear the rest of the guys would have to wait late into the night for me to finish.

The second night went better, as I was able to finish only a few minutes behind the next to last finisher in a respectable 1:07 with a good bit of hills.  The Computrainer System at Fitzy's is actually really cool and provides a very realistic ride, regardless of how much I may not like the results.  After you put in your weight and calibrate the machine, it gives you some great feedback by way of wattage, rpm, average speed, calories burned, etc.  I have another 8 sessions over the next 8 weeks before I should be able to get out on the road for some base training.  With this I will be doing 2hrs of Hockey and a Strength Training routine each week till the end of March.  Already alot more than I did last year, so hopefully we will see some gains before April.

I'm really hoping I can improve upon the gains of last season and keep moving forward.

Cause remember...If your not moving forward, your going backward...and that sucks!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Racing Re-cap

Been a long month.  I finally kicked that nasty bug that popped up after Moosecross, but only after nearly 3 weeks.  Since my shortcomings at Spooky cross, I really wanted to put something together for the last half of the season. 

First up was Cube Cross #1 in Rexburg.  The guys in Rexburg have this great park with narrow paved paths, lots of grass, some good run-up opportunites, and some tight little singletrack in which to lay out an ever-changing array of courses.  And they don't dissapoint.  This race had some super technical stuff with some off-camber singletrack that ran about 6 feet above a pond, a steep downhill that should probably be a run-up, and some tricky corners (made hard by wet dead leaves). 

I got off to a good start and made sure I was in good position going into the singletrack the first time around.  It was a pretty big group with the Men's Advanced and Men's Beginner racing together, but things started to get sorted out pretty fast after a lap and I found myself sitting in 6th positon and dueling with another guy for 5th.  I finally got the best of him on the barriers and stretched it out all the way to the finish.  Notched a soild 5th place in the Men's Beginner class picking up 21pts for the overall.

The next weekend it was off to Boise for a family weekend where I got to sneak in a cross race over in Nampa.  I knew this was going to be a big race (stop #4 of the SICX series), but didn't really put much stock in a good result considering I was coming "off the couch" for these last races.  I'd done very little training in the weeks since Spooky cross due to some very inclimate weather and lack of daylight.

A field of 40 (Mens 4, Masters 45+) or so lined up at the start and thinking I was really not in contention for much, I lined up at the back.  The course was really just a grass road race, not one dismount, so wasn't going to suit me in any way.  About the only thing I had going for me was the weather.  It was a cool 31F at the start, only warming up to about 35F by the time we finished.  After a chaotic start, I again rode on the back of the second group for the first lap, before finally letting them go.  I dueled with a young guy for the next two laps before he got the better of me on the long hill.  I set my sights on another rider we had been closing in on and finally caught him with one to go.  I rode on that guy for half a lap or so and dispatched him on a steep hill in the middle of the course.  I held him off to take 20th on the day.  Not too bad, and I kinda felt like a chump for not taking things alittle more serious.

One week later was round 3 of the Cube Series.  I knew I wasn't going to be in contention for the overall having missed a race, but after waking up that morning to 3 inches of fresh snow, I knew it was going to be epic race.  I could not have done a worse job preparing myself for the race; hungover from a party the night before, missing breakfast cause I was racing around trying to find my stuff, getting to the race only 40mins before the start due to winter driving, etc., etc.  Funny thing was, I felt good.  I was layered up well and ready to go by the time we started.  Again we had a solidly technical course with good single track, a steep run up (the one we came down before), and lots of corners into barriers to make it hard. 

And if all that wasn't enough...then came the weather. 

When we started, it was cold an windy, but not much moisture to speak of.  The course had some wet spots, but nothing to really worry about.  20 mins. into the race, the first bits of hail started to spit from the sky.  5 min later, the gropple was blowing sideways, stinging the face and making it hard to look up to see where you were going.

I had been battling with a guy in front of me for the first half the race, and now found myself trying to hold off a challenge from behind me.  I put in one big effort into the headwind and got the gap I needed to hold onto my postion.  With two laps to go, the snow went nuclear.  With one lap to go, the snow had collected a good three inches making the course a thick soup of slushy water. 

Once I finished, I rode straight by the officals not even checking on my placing, and climbed into the back of the van.  My feet were compeletly numb, but everything else was good.  It took me a few minutes to get settled down and changed, but once I climbed back outside to retrive my bike, It was already covered with an inch of falling snow.  I'm still not sure where I finished, but think I was probably about 7th or 8th overall.  I'll have to call tomorrow.

One thing is for sure, I felt like a complete badass after that one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

'A Hot Mess!'

A "hot mess" is a term used in the Couloir kitchen to describe someone who, despite their best efforts, keeps screwing something up.  This does not mean you are a "clusterf*#k".  That would imply a permenant condition.  Being a "hot mess" is usually a temporary issue, but can lead to being a "clusterf*#k".

This would best describe my current state.  Toward the end of my vacation, I came down with a cold brought home by either my mother (sorry mom), or my daughter Zoe (probably more likely).  Despite my best attempts to alieve the situation, and a rest week from hard riding, I was unable to shake it before Spooky Cross.  We had a great turnout for Spooky, lots of riders and a great stoke in the air, but I was in it deep.  I had gone for a quick ride on Friday night to sort things out, and quickly found out I couldn't breath without coughing up the lung butter.  This should have been the tell tale sign to sleep in and just spectate Saturday's race.  But after running into Fitzy and J.P. doing recon on J.P.'s new rig, I thought; "Stop being such a wanker!"

So come Saturday morning I lined up with 25 or so other cats looking for the hole shot.  After the first lap, I was slowly getting the message things weren't going to go in my favor.  After holding on to the tale end of the second group, I started losing ground to them when I had to sit up and cough it out.  After dropping back to the last guy and realizing I could ride with him pretty easily, I thought maybe I'll just cruise around with this guy for a few laps.

Wasn't going to happen.  Again, a severe coughing attack caused me to sit up...this time for good.  I figured this wasn't the best thing I could be doing for myself, so I pulled into the Start/Finish and put some warm clothes on.  I really hated quiting a race put on by my shop, and in front of the whole team, but figured descretion was the better part of valor.

So come Sunday, and getting alittle antsy cause I hadn't really ridden all week except for Friday's re-con and Saturday's warm-up and 15min of racing, I thought maybe I could go out for an easy spin in the evening.

And back to the locker you go...

I woke up on Monday feeling worse than I did Friday, setting myself up for an interesting problem.  I haven't really done much training in a week, I have a race in Rexburg this Saturday, and I'm not completely on top of my health.  Hence the fact I'm a Hot Mess.  What to do?  Seriously, if anyone has any suggestions, please comment.  I would love to hear.  I'm skipped today's ride, but figure I might try to ride a bit tomorrow, take a day off, and do openers on Friday and hope for the best.

Anybody got a Z-pack...hook a brother up!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

R and R

Rest and Relaxtion are underrated if you ask me.  I'm coming to the end of a 12 day vacation and just finished the last of my really hard training for the year, and to say the least, I have enjoyed slowing down.  Luckily for me, work won't get too stressful for another month or so, so I can enjoy this for a bit longer.

Funny thing is, you don't really realize how wound up you are until you relax a bit.

I also didn't even realize it was time work in some rest from the bike until I got a head cold last week and started doing some reading online about training and such.  Knowing I needed to nurse the cold away before this weekends racing, I started to look at the past few weeks of training, and realized every ride I had done for the past 4-5 weeks had either been intervals, openers, or racing.

I've also decided, the days of above LT intervals are done.  With the racing I've done, and all the racing still to come over the next 5 weeks, I'm going to cut back on the intensity during the week in order to stay fresh for the weekends.  This is not say I'm gonna kick it on the couch eating Cheetos only getting up for a race on Saturday.  I will be taking Mondays off.  Tues will be 1.5 to 2hrs easy with some sprints thrown in.  Wed. will be my only real hard day with 2x20min sub-LT intervals on the cross course.  Thursday will be off, and Friday openers to get ready for Saturday's racing.

Sundays will be my day.  My day to just enjoy riding a bike.  No structure.  Just me, a mountain pass and some music.  Last Sunday, I did a half hour warm up before tackling Pine Creek Pass for some LT work.  After topping out, 20 min and 1000' vertical later, I looked to my left and remembered a co-worker talking about how the Forest Service just regraded the dirt road at the top.  So took the left and keep climbing.  With the fall colors on the trees and 360 degree views all around, this became one of those epic rides you remember for years.  So I'm going to look for more of these before its time to rack the bike for the winter.

Well, this cold has now moved into my chest and I've been coughing up lung butter for the past few days.  I'm going to do a quick spin tonight and see if racing is even a possibility for tomorrow.  I'm a bit worried about trying to race with a chest cold considering I usually feel like I'm going to cough up a lung in a race when I'm healthy!!  We will see.  But needless to say I will be at the race one way or another.