Saturday, April 30, 2005

Willy wiggin'

Well no need to worry about getting worked up about the race. All day today the nervousness has been building into an utter frenzy. And the kids have just been at my constantly. Making for perfect flip your wig conditions. (Which just reminds me of this album...)

Didn't get my pre-race warm up ride till just now. 8pm. Legs felt dead as to be expected, but 20mins in I started the 5x1min on 2off routine. Cranked the cadence up and rolled through 380W, 390W, 390W, 400W and the last one I just kept slowly adding 10w till I bogged at 420W. The high cadence sort of throws off any accuracy, but it's a nice confidence boost because my normal 1x were 320W a few months ago.

Been eating ALL day. Constantly. I'm so worried about the distance and time I'll be out there. Scared of bonking, scared of cramping. The memories of last time are haunting. I keep checking the results from 2004 and 2003 looking at the times. Vet sports were 2:45 and up. Experts were 2:00 and up. That is a long time to be going full bore. Well for me at least.

I can't remember much of the race course. Just small parts. Can't remember if it is middle ring climb if there are granny parts. I remember part of the first downhill was a rocket run. And part of the last downhill had some sharp switchbacks. But all in all, I think the course is a good rhythm course where you can get into a groove. Unlike Massanutten or similar courses where there are thousands of transitions and short technical sections and long tech rock gardens making it impossible to keep any consistency going.

Well you'll hear about it regardless what happens. Time to go eat some more.


Friday, April 29, 2005

Peaking for a race

Everyone has their own little way of peaking for a special event. I just wanted to share my method for others who are looking for something to try out. It is based on the peaking method outlined in Eddie B's classic book on road cycling training with some insight from Dave Morris

That is a pretty good book. Though dated on things such as nutrition. But I really like his philosphy on climbing strategies and this peaking strategy.


2weeks before a race
-Hard ride race pace the race distance or even longer
-Race pace less than 100% of the distance, like 70% or something
-if you can do it, race pace but cut duration again
- as long as it takes you. Go easy keep the legs spinning but realize that it is going to take some time to get your legs back under you
-Then start ramping up. Bring back the intensity but keep durations short.
You should be at the point were you are chomping at the bit and have to hold back
-2 days before the race, really easy or even off
-Day before the race, 1hr easy + 5x1min at high wattage.
-Day of the race, good warmup, some really hard efforts, sprints, get the legs pumped and sweating

I've tried this many times and it usually works pretty well for me. I've seen it take almost 10 full days to get my legs back after doing a 3 day peaking over reach.

Anyway, this strategy works for me, your mileage may vary. But it is something to think about to play around with to see what may help you get that little extra oompf for a special event.

No chance to even get nervous

Geez how am I supposed to get ready for a race, if I can't even get a chance to get all worked up and in a tizzy getting nervous and scared? Big meeting to get ready for today, so most of Thursday and from 5-am this morning 100% go time till like 3. Thankfully went better than I could have imagined. Then 1hr down time then coaching soccer.

Rough night tonight. Kids were crazy. Then straight to Target to shop for b-days presents and then through the drive through and eating back home at 8pm. That is what time we usually get the kids ready for bed.

Then wouldn't you know it. Batman's jammie bottoms were in the wash. Then he wants to read one more book, and then I am practically falling over tired and searching through some toy box for some flashlight. Gave it a good 'ol 2 second effort then told him I'm off the clock and he can go look for it himself and then get back in bed. Amazinigly he did just that.

Have not even had a chance to get nervous about this race. That worries me. Cause that nervousness and the butterflies as much as I hate it is a necessary step in getting all systems to to def con 4. I'm not even that scared yet. And this is a course to be scared about. As the WHO said. Fear is the key. Fear is a good motivator for me. Fear of not knowing something, gets me to learn what I need. Fear gets me motivated.

I think tomorrow as things settle down a little, and I start packing the bag, and prepping the bike up I'll start to get more butterflies. I'm looking forward to not racing for a little while though. There is just too much going on sometimes to have the races over my head. A few months of just solid hard training will be nice. Not worrying about being all tapped out because that is the point of training.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Welcome to Fantasy Island

Trainer ride this morning.
Somes times even if there is time to ride outside during the day, it is still such a production that it is easier to just do it in the basement. Got to round up all the gear, helmet, shoes, water, gloves, glasses, tools, pump, food, etc.. rack the bike, un rack it, shower at work,

Busy day, got presentation to do, field work, get to Lowes to get materials for fireplace mantle, possibly need to watch kids, too much to then think about getting stuff together for a ride. Doesn't bug me too much. Makes those nice outdoor rides all the more special.

On the trainer today, combo of SMSP/MSP intervals One minute at SMSP power (320) one minute at MSP (270) alternate for 8 minutes. The plan called for 10 mins + 5x2on 2off at SMSP, but I am just trying to keep the legs primed for the race on Sun. Do no damage, but keep the blood rolling. I could have done higher wattages or longer durations, but didn't. After this race I won't be racing for a little while so I won't mind running myself into the ground and putting nails in the coffin. But not today.

Welcome to Fantasy Island
On the trainer it's easy to go to special places. If you've been riding for any length of time than you know what a good ride feels like and how it feels compared to a not so good ride. And if you've been at it for a few years you also know what Really really good ride feels like.

The whole idea behind periodization is to get those really really good rides to coincide with a race. If that happens, than that's about the best you can hope for. That's what I was trying to imagine on the trainer. That really really good ride. You know that feeling, you've been there. Where you are pushing a hard gear yet it feels easy. Where each pedal stroke leads you into the next one and your momemtum keeps you moving at a high pace even though you don't feel like you're working hard. Where your breathing is heavy, and your HR is high, but it isn't hurting. But it is hurting, that good sweet kind of hurt. The kind that feeds you, fuels the fire and you feel like you could go forever like this.

If Tatoo and Mr. Rourke could give that to me on Sunday that would be all I need. If I were to ask Mr. Rourke for a podium I'd probably end up being hunted for sport or some other crazy thing that always happens to guests on Fantasy Island for choosing a fantasy that is wrong.

Da plane
Da plane


Tuesday, April 26, 2005


cool post at Nat Pellman's BLOG

about battling inner demons the ability to push yourself beyond your defined limits.

Now I've never met Nat and I bet we're pretty different, in age, location, where we are in life. Yet I echo his sentiments whole heartedly. The bike and our desire to push and to fight inner demons are common ground that many can relate to. But if I ever came home with a tatoo like that my wife would Believe me right into the dog house and we don't even have a dog.

Too many racers think in terms of their finishing spot and getting on the podium as their main focus. I'm not saying that isn't important but it should be on a different plane of focus than what is really more important. And that is pushing yourself the best you can in the given moment in time.

Pat Benatar said it best, it's a battelfield.

Thankfully mountain biking is also hell-of fun.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Legs are back

Welcome back legs.
Good ride today.
below 40, and it is almost May. Snow showers / hail, wind. Makes for some crazy kids cooped up in the house and unhappy parents.

Rode at pond with John. Off roading isn't so bad in this kind of weather, except for me feet. Rode real well. Legs feeling good. Walking around this morning I could tell they were feeling better. Middle ringed the Sidewinder climb. Walked some of the switchbacks, but never felt overgeared. Did middle before here, but that was the low cadence , grinding Muscle Endurance type work. Today it was a middle ring spin. That just rules.

Handling was pretty good, but my air chambers in the fork seem to be losing air. Need to figure that out. Went down the wrong downhill. Was looking for the super tight twisty one. Ended up on the really really steep one with drop offs on it. The one I endoed on real good a couple of years ago. Surprisingly smooth and easy until I hit the last steep section. Lost nerve and did the wimpy endo to single foot on ground, sapling in hand.

Saw some guys from the shop at the parking lot. They were saying that Douthat might not happen. No call backs from promoter to anyone. May be going to Winterplace, WV this Sunday. This will be the last race for some time. Will give it a little rest, and rearrange the training to minimize impact on weekends.

Parenting tips

1) If you can't deal with vomit and poop than you are in the wrong business

2) Bribery, Extorition, and Because I said so! are all legitimate forms of getting your kids to do something. 2-3 peas are equivilant to getting ice cream.

3) Daddy tax can be enforced at anytime and is equivilant to QTY: 1-3 pieces of whatver candy the children have.

4) No matter how much you think you are in control, you are never in control and you started losing control the day you got married, and lost any semblance of control the day you had kids.

5) Kids are not allowed to stick their fingers in moving wheels when working with you on the bikes

6) It's not good form to let your kids clean your chain then run around with greasy fingers all over the house

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Nothing on Friday. Soccer even got cancelled because of thunderstorms. I guess hundreds of little kids on an open field with thunder and lightning around isn't a good idea. Sat morning 8:30 rode two hills. Pearman was first and that is just a a rude hill. It hurt and the legs just didn't want to turn. Then I went down the front side of this development and came back up Preston Forest.

Legs are just feel fatigued even though I haven't been doing diddly squat lately. Wed: intervals and didn't feel the best on those, Thurs: just a few quick laps and didn't even do a full dirt crit, Fri:0, and then 1:30 on Sat.

I am hoping that it means that I am just still not recovered from my block on the the past weekend. Sort of like my own Tour De France stage race. All of two days! It is important to put things in perspective here. Last weekend I broke a PR on a technical singletrack climb, middle ringed a grunt I'd only grannied before, and was riding strong 2hrs into a 2:45 ride. The next day, did a road ride at almost 1mph higher average speed (with some wind) and rode the final climb in 1-2gears higher than normal. Not bad considering 4-6hrs saddle time a week. So it is not surprising that I'm still tired.

Gotta accept that you can't be ON all the time. It's nice to know though that when you are ON you can go to 11

I've done this plenty of times before and sometimes it has taken 10 days before I feel ready to rock again. So I'm not too worried as this week I'll follow the same general plan but cut duration but keep intensity high. It can be a little disconcertinig not having good legs right now with a race a week away, but I think I'll be going good by mid this week, and will be trying to hold back.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Stan's NoTubes Pictorial Tutorial and Review

Stan's NoTubes is one of the few tubeless conversion kits available today to convert regular rims/tires to tubeless. Some others include the Eclipse kit and I think Bontrager has something.

I must say that switching over to Stan's No Tubes has been one of the most significant changes I've ever made to my bike. It has allowed me to cut some serious rotational weight, and allowed me to run tires down to a much lower pressure. This has provided much better traction and handling. The lower tire pressure provides instant suspension, traction for cornering and traction for climbing. The whole debate over rolling resistance from high pressure vs low pressure can go on forever and won't be discussed here too much.

Now that being said, IMHO Stan's is a real pain in the butt to get set up. Once set up it pretty much takes care of itself until you need to add sealant again and need to clean the valve. But if you are the type of person that does not like to tinker, does not like to get frustrated, expects things to work right out of the box, does not want to get messy, does not like to follow directions, does not want to get soapy water everywhere, expects this to work with a few pumps of a floor pump, and expects this to work with every rim/tire combo then :
THIS IS NOT THE PRODUCT FOR YOU. Run away now, and do not use this product and then turn around and Slam it.

Otay. The Stan's kit includes a some strapping tape to tape over the spoke holes, a custom rim strip, and Stan's custom latex sealant. There are several DIY recipes for sealant that you can find online at I have not messed around with them so far, and don't mind getting his sealant just because I know it works.

Step 0
Go to the No Tubes web page and read all the tutorials and watch all the videos and read all the suggested tire /rim combos listed. I have used Mythos XC, Serac, and a Ritchey tire succesfully with Cane creek velocity rims, and Mavic 517, and an old Sun rim and old Araya rim.

Step 1:
Drill out your valve stem hole to a larger size to accomodate the rim strip. A regular cordless or corded drill works fine. Be careful of the metal chips that are created. It's a good idea to use a magnet to pick them up and keep them out of the rim.

Step 2:
Install the strapping tape. Try to cover all the spoke holes and pull it tight. Pressing down with your finger to smooth it out.


Your valve hole will be covered by the tape and you need to cut it open. Use a knife, scissors whatever

Step 3:
Get your soap solution ready. Don't be stingy with the soap. Others have used Armor all or Tioga Bead wax. I tried armor all and it didn't work too well for me.


Step 4:
Install the rim strip. I lay down some soap onto the insides of the rim to help get the strip seated.

You want the tension on the strip even all the way around the rim

Use a tire lever or something similar to help push it down under the rim hook

The hardest area is at the valve stem. The bulge of the valve makes it real hard to get the strip seated under the hook here.

Step 5:
Soap it up. Now the fun starts. You soap up the tire bead to help lubricate it so that it can seat under the hook of the rim. Once soaped up you can supposedly air it up. NOT! This is where the frustration lies for me. It takes me many many times of soaping/airing soaping/airing to get a new tire to air up. I use an air compressor. How in the world people can do this with a floor pump is beyond me. Every time I do this on a new tire/rim I get pissed off and want to quit and go back to tubes, but eventually the tire does air up. Use lots of soap to water, and I found that sort of banging the tire on the ground while putting air in helped it seal. Oh and my lower back usually is killing by this time from the constant stooped over soaping/airing position.

If you are like me soapy water will be everywhere, but it will hold air. It is the coolest feeling to finally air this thing up and to see it holding air knowing there is NO tube in there.

You can see all the bubble where air was leaking out. I usually air it to like 40psi. Don't go too high because you can stretch the kevlar bead.

Step 6:
Adding sealant. Ok ALL that trouble to air it up and now we're going to remove all that air. Huh? Well the good news is that once it has held air it usually airs up easier the next times. Take off one bead and add sealant. Shake up the bottle, and pour the recommended amount in.


Step 7:
Air it back up. Put the tire back on fully, soap again, and re-air it back to 40psi or so. Then put soap all over the side walls. There will be little micro holes in the sidewalls that need to get sealed up with the latex. Once sealed there should be minimal air loss. If you don't seal them you'll lose air over a couple of days. The soap on the sidewalls helps find those little air holes


Step 8:
Seal any leaks. You need to slosh the sealant up into the sidewalls. Just spinning the tire won't do it. Hold it at the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions with the area you want to seal at the bottom, and then rotate the tire around where your hands are. This will slosh the sealant up into the side wall. Rotate, wait a sec for the sealant to get down to the bottom and repeat. It might take a few days to find all the little leaks, but once found the tire should hold air for quite some time.

Rub down the rim braking surface with alchohol to clean off the soap residue

How I use it:
I'm 135lbs and used to have to run 50psi to keep from pinch flatting. Now I run 35psi. Many run lower but I don't like that feeling of the tire rolling off the rim in the rear. Even though it isn't rolling off it feels like it to me.

The sealant lasts I don't know how long. I do know that it does start to harden and if you open it up after a couple of months you may find no sealant but these little latex balls also known as Stan's boogers. Also the sealant dries all over the rim strip and the tire bead. Making it harder to air up the next time. It takes lots of water and scrubbing to remove the old sealant. So you need to check up on it and put new sealant in before it is all dried up. Because it is the sealant that keeps your tires aired up when a thorn or puncture cuts the tire.

You will need check up on the valve and any dried latex that gets stuck in there. It pretty easy to remove it and take it apart. But in case you don't want to perform micro surgery on the valve on your kitchen island and risk using your wife's good dish towel (don't ask me how I know this) you can always by replacement valves for 2$ or so.

** Addendum.
I just watched the latest video at on installation. He's got a much more indepth video. Additional tips
-remove the valve core during airing. lets more air in making air up easier
-smack the tire every 5 inches or so around the entire diameter to help give it some shape
-lay tire down flat (on top of a bucket) to help get sealant to go to bead area.


I love it even though it is a pain to get set up and maintain. If you change tires often it can be a pain. But I think the advantages of weight, traction, and handling improvement outweight the negatives. Knock on wood, have not gotten a flat since using it, and my handling and climbing traction have improved noticeably.

My favorite gear

No matter what bike I am riding be it road, mountain, or cross I always find my favorite gearing to be Big ring up front and next to biggest in the back


I know full well that this is not the best gear to be in. It is one less than being fully cross chained. There is definitely some stiction caused by the angle of the chain and the extension of the der. cage. And whatever the gear ratio may be it can be duplicated with the middle ring and a smaller cog.

But it doesn't matter, I just love to be in this gear. Often times when big ringing it, I'll even go into full cross chain (Big/Big) for a little bit just to hold my MO and get over a hump.

I read one time about Tinker or Ned or one of those icons of the sport who cross chained a lot. And a new mechanic had set up their bike with a chain that was too short to fully cross chain. Sure enough the guy cross chains it in a NORBA national and the drivetrain locks up and they had to break the chain to get going again.

So even though you're not supposed to cross chain, it is best to set your chain long enough to accomodate it because when you are in the red line you might totally forget that you're in the big ring when you downshift.

And I will continue to wear out my drivetrains prematurely

Dirt crit a bust

Sort of a bust at the dirt crit. The thunderheads were rolling in all day and driving out there the wind was picking up. Got their early to warmp up some. My for was topping out. Just rebuilt it and not enough air in the SPV chamber.

Brian and a new guy John showed up. John had a beat up old cross/touring bike. It started to sprinkle some and we heard some thunder, but said we'd go do it till we got poured on. John had a slow leak in his super thin crosser tires and said he'd ride a couple laps until it went flat.

We rolled out on the track from the parking lot which isn't ultra buff, has some rocks etc. I have a hardail w/ fork , Brian has a fuel and John has this crosser. Rolling down the track, I was moving pretty good, trying to get into the flow. I hear the rattle of a bike behind me and glance back and it's John on that crosser.

I am thinking man that dude is either going to have us for lunch or he's going to get pounded. Unfortunately he pinched on the last rocky section before Poverty Creek trail. So it was just Brian an me. We scouted the track and did a couple of laps where we towed each other then just hung out and talked. We only got sprinkled on a little and it never poured buckets like they said.

It is so lame sometimes the way you can just live your life day to day in a cocoon. I haven't seen or talked to Brian in over 8 months. We live in the same small town. When you have a family esp with small kids, your life just goes at ultra speed. And you tend to do things with other people that have kids, and just spend most of your time within your nuclear family. I need to make a better attempt at keeping in touch with friends.

Bri locked is keys in his truck so I drove him home to get a spare. No spare so the lock/key guy met us out there. Literally less than 45 seconds of touching the vehicle he has the door open. Amazing.

It was nice to catch up and chit chat. I'll make that exception to my current MO of ride hard and fast, then go home, for long time friends!

The few laps we did do were fun. Once the legs got primed up it felt pretty good. Things happen much faster when you are riding over your head. Was blasting through some sections as fast as I could. Not turning soon enough around a tree, ending up hitting it wide. The timing changes a lot when your speed increases just a little over what you normally ride a section.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

All I want is redemption

May 1 is the Douthat State Park Race also known as Middle Mountain Momma

This is one of the most pristine places in all the east, some say the entire country, to ride. Some sweet sweet single track. The race course is really tough.
mommatopotop There is 5000' feet of off road climbing in this one. Makes my back cringe just thinking of it.

The last time I raced here was in 1998. Here is the excerpt from my log:

First 1.5 hr, rode strong, climbed well
wrong turn, shut down after that- dizzy
no power, cramping so bad in tears
crashed at very end-never hurt so hard
more emotional than physical

I remember some parts clearly. Like the start. Big ring single file flying. I'd been thinking that I should be more aggressive in races, and opted to try out that tact and tried to pass on the outside. My front wheel dropped off the side and I cartwheeled. By the time I picked myself up and knocked the cobwebs loose the women and beginners were cruising by. Waited an eternity to get back on.

Towards the end, the skies opened up and it started to rain, at least I think it was raining my memory is hazy in spots which is why I'm probably considering doing the race again, just like childbirth there is built in short term memory loss in mountain biking.

I started to cramp so bad. Inner thigh, total utter lock up. Choices are spin granny or hobble. I hit the paved road and had just a little loop to get back to the start. The cramps would come in waves, They would hit, then I'd spin then they'd go away and I could get back to riding. They were so painful I was in tears. Streaming down my dirty face. When they'd hit I was practically screaming, NOOO not again. I remember this one guy ahead of me looking back at me expecting to see a Bear mauling me or something.

Then there was one last little drop to the finish area. And my front wheel washed. Either the wheel slipped on something wet or my grips came off I can't remember. And I yard saled it right there before the finish. Slowly rolled on in. Just devastated.

Physically drained, but more so emotionally. I was just so bummed and pissed off. Ego invested. And the rest of the day I was sullen and hardly talked to anyone. And regret it to this day.

Perfect location, grass roots racing at it's best, nice people, hanging out, and my attitiude was so wrong. Not that I ruined it for anyone else but myself. But these things are so few and far between it's like I burned one of the few matches in the collection.

I don't give a whatever about my placing. All I want to do is ride hard, ride strong, ride well, and go the distance.

He's going the distance,
He's going for speed.

Times last year for vet sport were 2:45 and up. That is a long time to be hossing it. Longest mtb ride I've done this year has been 2:45 and a fair amount was cruising. The race at Pipestem was 1:55 and I came across on empty, this is another 50 minutes. Yeah boy!

Chain suck sage knowledge

Here is a web page that I came across at Mike T.s Chain Pages

It has more info than you care to know about chain suck.
Chain Suck in a Nutshell by Johnathan Levy

I'll let you read it for yourself but there was one bit of advice that saved my hide one time. I was doing a shakedown ride before a race and found that my granny gear was chain sucking all by itself. I tried filing down any burrs but in looking at the granny you could visibly see the hooking of the teeth

It was getting to be later Saturday, bike shop closed, race the next day, I was starting to willy wig. Not sure what to do, almost called a buddy to swap out the entire BB and crankset with his. But that is just asking for trouble due to front Der. issues and other trouble shooting that you don't want to be doing in a race.

One of the fixes off that chain suck web page was that some granny rings are symmetrical and they can be flipped around. So you don't have the hooking going in the same direction. I couldn't believe that such a simple thing would work, but in desparation I tried it.

ta da

chain suck gone, able to race w/o issue.

Granny rings are one of those weight weenie / durability toss ups. The weight saving between an alloy and steel 22t ring are significant, and the cost difference is also not a ton which makes the gram/$ savings a good ratio. There is the durability issue though. It is not the greatest idea to be flipping your alloy granny ring over though because it is still alloy and it will wear on the opposite side just as fast. But again, in a pinch it will get you through.

The other tidbit of info was what happens when you put a new chain on worn chainrings. Watch out !

Anyway. Check it out

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Easy E earling in the parking lot....

My poor older son. He was up at 4am this morning throwing up. Looks like a stomach virus. We just gave him a towel and went back to bed...NOT When it rains it pours. Nothing but a thang, just another day in the life....

It's funny when the older one gets sick he gets all lovey dovey, when the younger one gets sick he grows horns. And today he had a pointy tail and his head was spining 360s

Intervals on the trainer this morning. 1x8 min at MSP with every other minute at SMSP. Went ok except around min 6 I had to back off for a little bit. This was followed by 5x2min on 2off. couldn't do # 5. Will take some time to work up to being able to handle the longer rides leading up to this workout.

I've become a wierdo. Was going to get a ride in at lunch yesterday, but it didn't work out, so came home after work and was going to ride b4 dinner. Instead of riding outside for an hour in the 70 degree sunshine, I opted to stay home and ride the trainer. I dunno, I just didn't feel like dealing with cars, or even feel like thinking about looking where I was going. Sometimes it is almost theraputic to put some music on and just spin it out in the cool basement. Like I said, I'm turning into a loon. In years past I'd have been bent to not get a ride in such nice weather. But since I've gotten some kicking rides in the past weekend it just didn't bother me. And the kids are sick and just didn't feel like being far from base.

My current in-season plan is sort of
Hard off road long
Hard ride road long
Zone 2 1hr
Intervals combo MSP/SMSP
Hard-road or offroad short

Then every 3rd week a recovery week.

Yesterday was the Zone 2 1 hr. Like always it hurt. The combo of being sore from the previous 2 hard rides + a day off for rigor mortis to set in makes these zone 2 days hurt as much as the hard rides. But the zone 2 is necessary to get ready for the next day. If I just lolly gagged it, then I'd be hating the intervals,but I like to just spin it sometimes on the trainer focusing on good form, high cadence 110-120rpm and punk out to the music.

I read a post at RBR about the Tacx and the innacuracy of the FLOW but when you put the Imagic upgrade kit on it then it tracks an SRM really close. So all you people in awe of my power #s are going to be disappointed to know that I'm not as studly as the #s indicate.

cross your fingers it doesn't rain tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Rebirth of the Dirt Crits

Dirt Crit is on
Thursday April 21
5:45 rolling out of Pandapas Pond parking lot.

Years ago when mtn bike racing was strong in this area, our team held these informal dirt crits. They are sort of like Short track races, but borrowed the format from a Motocross event. The format is a short lap course where you go for 20 minutes + 2 laps of the course.

I wish it was just 20mins because that is a definite point in time to aim for. But with this +2 laps thing it is OOOOOH man, I gotta do this 2 more times. AAAck.

So wherever you are at 20mins you finish that lap and then go 2 more laps. When you describe it to people they get this funny look on their face. Like how is it fun to go round and round for 20 mins on the same fairly non-technical loop? Don't know how to describe it but it is SOOOO much fun. Pure and utter devastation. It is a really good way to get riders of all abilities together in one place. In a typical XC race you see the experts go off and that is the end of it. And you either have the ability to ride with others your caliber or more often than not you are in no man's land racing the course and your private demons.

With this short loop every one stays together. And even if you are a beginner for a fleeting moment you can try and jump on someone's wheel, and use any body in the distance to give you motivation to catch them. You get practice passing and being passed, and can test out things like your new gel flask holder or how to drink when you are seeing spots..

It allows you to ride over your head a little bit and try new lines on corners and get comfortable enough to push the envelope.

When you read the BLOGs of pro mtb racers they describe the event in road race like terms often: Attacks, breaks, bridging gaps, etc. This is very foreign to me because my mtb racing is more about just surviving than strageny. In this kind of off road criterium there is the possibility of more strategy and tactics due to the format. Like you can mark someone who is your own ability and try and stay with them and then possibly attack when you sense weakness.

But there is really only one way to do these kinds of things. Many ways to describe the same philosophy:

Go to eleven

Peg it

Pin it

Slam it

Throw down

Red line it

On the rivet

Fasten your seatbelts put your tray in the upright position and take note of the barf bag in the seat pocket in front of you.

Pay the ferry man, and get on the pain train traversing all 7 levels of hell and do not pass go until the spots turn purple before your eyes.

I'm already getting nervous about it, and it's just a local thingy. But if you can't go to the races, bring the races to you. It's really cool that there is some excitement about these. There might not be that many people at this first one, but I think when the word gets out more they may get to be pretty regular.

You can race other people, but the truth is that it is about you going toe to toe with yourself and pushing it to the limit. Everyone else around you is there to help you fight the good fight.


It's just a matter of time till I get sick. There was a time before kids where I did everything in my power to not get sick. But now it is a foregone conclusion. It's not a matter of if it is when.

Like a time bomb

One child sick with double ear infection
Other child sick with bad cold
Wife feeling sick
Sleep depravation

I'm wondering if I actually already got it, as I felt a little something the past few days. This week is fine to get sick, I just don't want to go into the May 1 race sick.

Review: Nashbar Gel Flask Holder

This is a review for the Nashbar Gel Flask holder

It was all of $4.00. Other gel flask holders will do essentially the same thing. My main reason for trying it is that I usually keep my gel flask in a jersey pocket. Reaching around to get it out and put back can be difficult while racing. And it got my pockets all sticky and lint all over the cap. And individual packets are pain in a race, messy and lead to litter.

-It attaches with two velcro straps. It takes a little effort, but you can get these straps on tight and it won't rotate around
-It has compression cords for tightening down the grip on the flask
-it comes with a flask that has finger grips on it

Initial observations
-the cap on the flask sucks big time. I put gel in it and opened it up and none came out. I squeezed HARD too.
-I tried using a Hammer Gel flask that comes with a bottle of the gel, but is larger than the Nashbar flask so it didn't fit into the holder as well as the original flask, and I was worried about it falling out
-Took a cap off a Hammer flask and put it on this flask. The threading wasn't exactly right, but it did go on there.
-Thread it on TIGHT otherwise it will leak
-Now it worked good in terms of releasing gel
-Learned later to Dilute the gel with some water to make it flow easier. Now I easily use up a whole bottle on a 2:30 hr ride whereas before I wouldn't just because it was so slow for the gel to flow I wasn't going to hang out with one arm on the bar and the flask held high for very long.

-Right now I've got it on the seat tube. Had it on the down tube which I think is a better place as a crud catcher can help keep junk off it. But my SRAM front der made it harder to put a cage on the seat tube so I switched locations. One should try different locations. Tried the stem first but didn't realize just how much you actually grab your stem when loading the bike, putting on front wheel, etc. Was a just in the way there.

-It does get dirty. Just like a water bottle would but even worse because it is placed with the cap on the bottom. So if you are worried about La-Guardia or don't like taking in a little dirt it may not be for you. I wipe it on my jersey to help clean it off.

-So far I have not lost it on a downhill (knock on wood)

-After some practice it is fairly easy to get out and put back in with one hand.

-one problem with it is the bottle does not have a flat bottom, so you can't just set it down anywhere for filling. And you can't store it upright.

So far I like it now that I've got the dillution down better it will work great for races. I think I'll take an extra flask in a jersey just in case it does get lost.

Lost the gel flask on the Beast last week. Takinig holder off. Thumbs down.

Parental guilt

When you take your kids home from the hospital when they are born they give you a care package. It includes things like a little hat, blanket, some formula, diapers, etc. But when you are busy strapping the kid in the car seat they stick something extra in your trunk when you are not looking. You only find out about it later.

One is about the size of a 55gallon drum and it is labeled MOMMY GUILT. The other is about the size of a peanut butter jar and labeled DADDY GUILT

I just took a heaping tablespoon and my wife just stuck her head under the spigot of her hers. Youngest one has been a royal PIA for the past several days. Today was no exception, even the babysitter left all pissed off. About 11pm he wakes up crying holding his ear. I knew it, just knew it. We've been through this going on 20 times. 2 sets of tubes. Ear infection.

We feel so bad because we've been so PO'd with him and his behaviour and he's probably had the infection for a few days and only now got so painful.

To top it off the older one is sick too. They are both up right now having a snack and watching Scooby Doo. 3am in the morning. Just enjoying the ride.


Monday, April 18, 2005

Chinese water torture

Sometimes life's little micro stresses add up like Chinese Water torture. Must be thankful that we don't have any major stresses like a devastating illness or death in the family, the kind of thing that sucker punches you in the gut. But life MWC, FTJ is pretty tough sometimes, and one cannot understimate the toll that it takes on your energy and training racing have to be put into that mix with a grain of salt.

Just seems like that last few months have been crazy hectic. But isn't it supposed to get easier with the kids getting older? It is not like they are both in diapers. My theory is it doesn't matter what the situation is. One's stress level always seem to gravitate towards just a hair more than you want. Just like money. You always change your spending habits to accomodate your salary. And you're always just a little short. So it doesn't matter if you are a trustafarian with no kids and you can't figure out if you want a Latte with Soy or double half cap with cream, or if you've got no kids, one kid, or 5 kids, babies in diapers, or teenagers, or are on welfare, or make a mint. It's tough all over.

Lukie spit at me
There's mulch in my shoe
There's wet on my shirt
I have to work this weekend
Coaching Soccer on Friday
Lucas has another ear infection
Rain gutter is busted
Shelves to build, mantle to build
Toy parts all over the house

Some stress is are in your face, others are on the periphery, like the keep up with the Joneses pressure. seems much more prevalant among people with kids too. Especially things like birthday parties, mom's trying to one up each other. Not a thing with Dad's as we would just have a keg and chips at our kid's birthday party. Family vacations, kids activities.. Always some kid down the street who is phemon in sports, or another who's a concert violinist.

I'm riding at my best and it's hard to enjoy it sometimes with the craziness. My wife tolerates the training/racing but it's not like she is on the edge of her seat waiting to hear about my awesome ride or race. Can't blame her one bit. She has got to deal with so much. Taking care of two boys, one with kid neurotics that go to 11 sometimes, working part time, volunteering at school, cooking, cleaning, laundry, working out, etc. etc. etc. And then she has to deal with me. Compared to a 1950s father or today's golfing fathers I'm awesome and I help as best I can. But I'd turn every white piece of clothing pink given a chance, don't know how to load the dishwasher properly, can't be trusted at the grocery store unless I've got the exact name of the item and the bar code, don't know how too cook, and await a medal ceremony every time I vacuum and clean the cat litter.

So I'm living proof that no genetic talent (NGT) can be overcome with good training and focus. But the rest of life....

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Poetry slam

First two day block of outdoor rides. Got 1:45 from my house, down Tabor to Gravel Hill back up Harding. Running on fumes towards the end of the day. Slammed it though.

Was up on my feet from midnight to 3:30 am making scrambled eggs for drunk fraternity/sorority kids. I know I know not your typical community service. Church thing, pastor thought up free breakfast after partying would be a good way to reach out to college community. 300 breakfasts last time they did it, slow night last night 150-200.

Guy down the street sort of cornered me into helping out. Just couldn't say no. Totally exhausted by 9pm. Thinking what the hell am I doing. I hated the typical frat / sorority people when I was in school and find them to be even worse now. Way more sense of entitlement, fostered by their parent's wealth yada yada yada. Anyway last thing I wanted to do was stay up all night doing that.

But it actually was a lot of fun. The joint was jumping, 4 burners going for eggs, cooking, cracking eggs, waffles, biscuits, bacon. Some funny drunk people, lots of thanks. I was cooking whole time which was probably better than having to seat people and take orders.

Anyway, didn't get to bed till 4am. And was fried after that mtn bike ride. Wife was good to me and let me sleep in and had coffee waiting. Got out at for my ride after the bike path with the kids.

Wife said to have a good ride. But what she really meant to say was
Yeah, you go enjoy your ride on this awesome spring day. While I slave here on this god forsaken mulch pile. I hope you get chased by dogs and that a freak rain storm pours in your general direction. And that you get gel all over your fingers and shifters

I didn't get chased or rained on, but I did get rasberry Hammer gel all over my fingers and brake levers.

Was trying to haul it from the get go. Legs didn't want to cooperate. I could get to that sustainable zone, but when going over the redline it hurt bad. Hard to honk it up hills. Saw a guy that said hi and my name. But didn't turn around to stop. Had to get a move on, time's a wasting. I'm pretty anti social on the bike these days. Don't know how to do a group ride anymore esp on the mtn bike with all the waiting.

Just like Jesse the Body. "I ain't got time to bleed" Ain't got time to chit chat.

Man it was hurting, Just trying to move and keep the speed going. Made it to the bottom of Harding with Average of 18.1mph. That is real good for me. The climb up was agony. My back had been hurting the whole ride, sitting standing whatever I could do to get to the top. Came up on a guy in the S turns. Threw a bungee around him mentally and reeled him and past. Quick greeting and apology for not hanging around. I had to get to the top ASAP to stop the pain.

made it home in 1:44 with ave of16.7 for the ride. Not bad.
This is a good way to set up a mini peak for the May 1 ride. 1 third day of 1hr of balls out would be better, but the sleep depravation is going to hit like bricks tomorrow. Better quite while I'm ahead.


Bow to me underlings

Bask in the glory of the power emanating from legs. Beware the mighty force of their devastation.
There was the creaky noise around my BB. Couldn't figure it out. Wasn't sure if it was the front der scraping the chain. Actually the front der was scraping the middle ring when in the big ring. Let's see 70-100 rpm over the course of 2:45hr ride with a fair amount in the big ring. That's a lot of stiction.

But I digress. Changed the chain, creak still there. Removed the saddle, greased everything..creak still there. Hmm. Look close at the crank, was just about to pull it and the BB when I notice marks on the chainring bolts. Thought it was dirt, but nah, it was different.

3 of the 5 bolts were cracked. Yes sir E bob. All 133 lbs 5'4.5" of pure raging power devastated these weight weenie bolts. Not sure if I over torqued them or if it was my hugeness that did them in. Another part bites the dust. It's funny. I'm fairly light and small, and somewhat smooth on the bike. But I have broken almost every parrt of a bike over the course of my riding career. Frames, seatposts, saddles, cranks, pedals, BB axles, rims, levers, stems, now crank bolts.

I shoulda been a product tester like H-ball or Thomasberg.

I think I've got some around to swap out. Well at least my chain is still good and now I've got two to rotate around like are supposed to.

Bike snobbery

I usually abhor bike snobs who turn their nose up at regular joes out riding. But one area where I am as bad a bike snob as anyone is kid's bikes. It is down right deplorable the kind of crap they pawn off to parents at the department stores for kid's bikes. 50lbs of junk. More often than not utterly unsafe. The brakes can't stop worth a crap.

Kid down the street pulls the Fred Flinstone when he needs to stop. Real safe. Other kids have gone through three wal-mart specials. We did the right thing and went to the LBS for our kids. Hurt the pocket book a little but so worth it. First bike was a little GT dyno. Made it through one kid, and the second, still good as the first day. Heavy as all hell but solid.

I can't get over all that full suspension stuff they push down kid's throats. Extra 30lbs of springs that do nothing.

Bought another Trek for the oldest used from a friend's son. Even these LBS kid's bikes can still be quite lacking in brakes. The brakes took a lot of effort to use for me. Can't imagine a little kid's hands trying to stop. So I, being the good bike geek, and good father put a set of Avid single digit's on the front and some Cane Creek's on the rear. New cables, new housing.

Now we are talking.


Bike Path carnage

Sunday, nice weather. Bike path is not the place for serious cyclists. Yet what did we see when we took the kids out. Group of 6 French riders, with three Giant Carbons, One Specialized Carbon, and another Cannondale top of the line. Interesting contrast of them with the other little kids and other Huffys out there.

30 mins + of loading bikes on the rack and into the back, 20 mins of rounding up helmets, water bottles, food, etc. All for a 10 minute drive to the path and 30mins of riding.

Priceless. We upgraded the oldest bike and handed down his Trek Jet to the little one. Put the training wheels on it and rotated the bars back so he could reach better. Worked pretty well except when there was a hill. He'd come to a complete stop right before the hill starts. Then start to cry when he couldn't ride up it.

And he'd ride in the middle or the far left. Over and over
Lucas get over to the right.

Then he'd look back behind him and then ride towards the edge of the trail. Luckily no accidents for him. But this poor girl was riding toward us in one spot. Wobbling all over then right off the trail and into a creek. She was ok just embarassed.

Speed Thresholds

Coming off recovery week. Friday 1:15 on the road bike. Dropped down into Ellet valley. Felt half great half sluggish. Sometimes pushing 17-18mph into the wind like it was nothing, other times sluggish legs trying to get up to speed on a hill. Normal for coming off some easy days.

Sat: 2:45 on Brush again. From home up Old Farm
NEW PR: up Old Farm
16:30 from first creek crossing too the top. Didn't even come close to cleaning it, but a PR is a PR. At the top I was into the red zone so bad I weaved into this little tiny sapling that grabbed my bars and stopped me cold. Ran the last 10yards to the top.

Previous PR was 16:50 and that didn't include this stump crossing at the very bottom that hung me up a little. And I'm so close, to making a another jump I can taste it. I'm knocking on the door of breaking another speed threshold.

Speed Thresholds with regard to mtb. This is how I think of them. There was this great article in MBA many years ago. Discussing why it is that pros and experts are and just look so FAST on the trails. Not just downhills but everywhere. The reason is that they've passed the speed thresholds. These are distinct levels of speed at which once you reach them it is actually easier to stay at that velocity than being just a little below it. All based on momentum of course.

You know this feeling when you hit some rock gardens and you're floating over them rather than getting sucked down in to them. In the former the effort required to maintain your threshold velocity is less through the course of the section because once you have your speed it's easier to hold it. Bodies in motion like to stay in motion, bodies at rest like to stay at rest. In the latter even though you are going slower which at first glance seems like you wouldn't be working as hard, you are now having to fight for every pedal stroke as your wheels hit rocks and get sucked into the gaps.

Last year I broke this PR by 1 minute. That is a huge huge increase. It was because I broke some speed thresholds along the route and carried more speed over a large part of the climb.

Yesterday there were several times that I backed off in an effort to bring my HR and breathing under control and fell below a speed threshold and slowed way down as I got bogged down in a section. If I just had a little bit more oomph to hang onto to the velocity to stay about the ST I could have rolled through the section with a lot more overall speed. That's where the huge gains in time come from and that's why pros/experts look so effortless as they just scream by.

The rest of the ride went real well. It's like a brave new world out there for me on these trails that I've ridden for over 10 years. Still trying to figure out how much punishment my legs can take. Was 1:30 into it taking the gap trails back the harder direction. Middle ring up this creek sort of bed lots of rocks, and into this really steep grinder grunt. Always granny gear down, and hover over the tip of the saddle and just try to keep the front wheel from wandering into the trees.

Entered the bottom in the middle and said what the hell, let's see how far I can make it in the middle. Cleaned it. Sure it hurt but no more than usual. In fact not gasping as usualy becase of slower cadence. Pretty surprised about it and stoked.

Later middle ringed through some rock fields. Not just super slow cadence grind, but almost spun through them. Done that before with fresh legs, but not after 1:45 into a hard ride. It's fun to discover again

Trying to work on my skills at the same time, applying some concepts from the new book Mountain Bike Skills. Information overload...tried to just focus on one or two things. Like braking and trying to hold the bar with a lighter grip. It was working sometimes, other times not. But over all getting better. My blister from last week is now 50% bigger.

Might be a chance of getting a coaching clinic here from Gene Hamilton at Better Ride. That would just be so incredible. I'm so happy to be riding strong, but at the same time not having as much fun as I used to on the trails. Wishing for a downhill to be over so that I can get back to climbing just is NOT right. That is like blasphemy. I'm not a bad rider, and can hold my own in most XC terrain, but I want to not be scared so much, and flow and fly again. But trying to coordinate something like that is tough 2-3days on a weekend.

When I got home felt like I'd been through the grinder. Brush is not an easy place to ride. It is pretty relentless with little buffed trail to cruise on. And when you're trying to push it the whole way I just get pounded.

Acheing bad as I rolled in. Ibuprofen, recovery drink..Wanted to roll out the legs with the rolling pin but go the kybosh on that because dirty sweaty legs are not allowed on the rolling pin used on food! Less than 1hr later at the park with little one. You know that saying about recovering from rides:
don't stand when you can sit, don't sit when you can lay down, and if you can lay down...sleep.

I hate that saying. Because it is so far from my reality that it pisses me off.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Dear Style Guy......

Dear Style Guy,

I had a meeting today and wore my dress clothes. I forgot to bring my cycling socks for a lunch time ride and only had my dress socks.

Can I wear dress socks with Euro Pro shoes, have hairy legs with dry skin and wear a helmet with a visor and still be cool?


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Something's Happening...something wonderful

Rest week this week. Nothing yesterday. Today, spinning on the trainer with 5x1min x 2 min off. First one at 350, second at 360, third at 370, fourth at 380. Uh.. that's pretty good considering that I was doing sets of 1bys at 320W a few months ago. Granted I didn't calibrate it this morning and there is a different tire on there than when I started. But wow. I should try and do a retest of what my MSPO is. Last time I did it was right before starting the SMSP phase and it came out to be around 270W. (on this machine with my bike with my body) Too many people get all into the # but it is really meaningless. Relative change is where it's at.

Hoping to slam it Sat and Sun, but gotta work some again

Monday, April 11, 2005

Ride much?

Can you tell that I don't ride that much:

Got this after a 2:45 tour on Brush Mtn.

Road from home up Old Farm. Phil from the shop was stopped on the trail adjusting his seat post, and I rode up with him. He'd done a triatholon the day before as his excuse. I had none. Ground the middle ring to keep the heart rate from exploding, and for the first time cleaned this newish rock staircase. Only way to do it is in middle ring. That was nice. Phil took off home and I went down the Beast. At bottom the regular creek crossing was like 3' deep and 15' across. Didn't feel like wading through it so turned around and rode back up.

Felt great, riding at least a cog higher than normal.

At the top went down Sidewinder then up Grizzly to the Gap side. Over to the Old Gap trails than back up the mtn. Series of rollers back to the top of Old Farm. I swear they add another roller everytime I ride that ridge.

Down OF back home.

Felt really strong the whole ride. Didn't really peg it but just tried to ride consistently. Bike handling was ok. Just not used to the speed these days.

Had hammer gel in flask diluted to make it flow better, a balance bar and some power bar recovery drink.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Crazy weekend

Wonderful weather this weekend. Bright, sunny, and I had work most of it. Feel a little cheated. Saw lots of riders and bikes on top of cars. Oh well there will be more.

Sat. I rode the trainer in the morning. Not wise to tell wife that I'll be working all day Sat, and oh by the way, I'm going to ride right when I get back. Actually was nice to do a good workout, since I felt that I've accomplished nothing on the bike since the race. There is something a little comforting about the trainer. You can do a hard workout but it isn't as mentally hard to push yourself like when you're outside. With the ergo trainer you set the power and put your head down and go.
2x8 mins, with first 2 at Zone 5 and last 6 at high zone 4 (did 330w/280w, and 320w/280)

Not as nice as JRA, and I know that I haven't been doing enough of those lately.

Sun watched kids while wife rode, worked at home then went into work. Actually everything at work went perfect. At home rode around neighborhood on the mtn bike for a little bit. Felt awesome. Bike is working well. changed all housings, it's all cleaned up. Need to do the fork and re-do my Stan's b4 the next race

Tomorrow will be day off from work to do taxes and get a good ride in.

Got my copy of Mastering Mountain Bike Skills from Lee at Lee Likes bikes.

Just skimming it, but so far looks INCREDIBLE. Way better than anything I've seen before. Lee and Brian Lopes even signed the inside cover, and sent some stickers.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Nuclear melt down averted

Wife was babysitting kids across the street, I'm putting both kids down for bed. Little one has to have certain toy. Playmobile bicycle. Yeah it's pretty cool his fav toy of the millisecond is a bicycle, but that bike was getting ready to find it's way into the In-sink-er-a-tor.


He had all the parts but the LEEEEEEtle handlebars. You can just see the orange blinking lights start to go off that we have on the walls.

The overhead lights begin to flicker and the EXIT signs and emergency low level lighting come on.

Nuclear meltdown imminent.

Being the trained Nuclear safety engineer that I am having watched my share of Simpsons episodes, I clear my mind and act fast. Found this 1" part within minutes and saved the day.

Never a dull moment.

Sometimes you have to say Uncle

Sometimes you just have to say Uncle and forget about a workout and concentrate on making it to tomorrow. Worked till midnight last night than up with the kids. Stressful frustrating day. Everything I did last night, I think I did wrong. It's a gift. If it can be done wrong or put in backwards I can do it. I am the perfect product tester.

Brought the bike and gear to go for a quick spin, but forgot tools and tube. Might have risked it but the last I needed was to be 10 miles out with a flat. Rain came anyway.

Got home from work and tried to ride in basement while family was having dinner. Skipped any food in order to ride. What a mistake. I should have known better. Hadn't eaten right through the day for an evening workout. Was tired. Got a little guilt from trying to ignore the kids and try and ride. Made it all of about 2 reps on some leadout intervals, and just said screw it. Head was hurting, legs didn't want to turn.

Went upstairs got a little food and just sat with the family. It was like taking your kids to a fancy restaurant or coffee house with a 45min wait while they are hungry and tired and expecting it to go well. Like you are really going to be a cosmo couple sipping on your wine or latte' while the kids draw pleasantly or sit on their hands. Sure it MIGHT work, but chances are you're just setting yourself up to get pissed off. This only works for some parents of girls (like my sister :) )

It's one thing to have goals. Goals are like a compass, they give you direction. But it is another thing to have expectations. Expectations are like the destination that you haven't reached yet and never will. The times I've gotten most upset with my kids are when I've had expectations of how things are going to go and they don't go that way.

Best I can hope for this week is to try and do enough to not lose any fitness but not try to do anything major. I so want to slam some rides after having such a good race, but better just let it go for now. Next race is May 1. So 2 weeks before is when I really want to hit it hard.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Great tip for gel flasks

At my last race I put Hammer gel in a flask. Like all gel it is thick stuff. When I pulled the flask to suck it up, it got kinda sketchy:
Holding handlebar with left hand only, sitting up with gel flask held high, waiting for the gel flow. Holding only the front brake. Accident waiting to happen.

From a post at mtbr:
mtbr post

A why didn't I think of that suggestion:

DILUTE THE STUFF a little! It helps a lot to get it down when it's not super thick, like some of the Clif Shots and the PowerBar gels I like. Typically I'll put 3-4 packets in, then a bit of water, use a chopstick like device to mix it all up, then when it's a little stirred - it's "shakeable".

Will definitely try that out

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Busy day. will be back in to work tonight and all weekend. What can you say, it's a great job just sometimes things happen all at once. Besides job is better than no job. Need to take some time off during the week to spend time with family.

Only coffee and bagel for breakfast. Stomach growling at parent/teacher conference at pre-school. Hope she didn't hear it.

Choice, go get lunch, then wait 1 hr+ to ride, but will be tired and knee deep into work, or go straight to ride, deal with bonk, then go eat. Opted to steal away and get 2 hill reps in. Thankfully had some Hammer gels stowed away in the car.

Hill reps up Oilwell. Love this hill. Several steps in it. Couple steep spots. First time up, was jazzed, got my breathing into that gasping labored I'm drowning zone.

10:18 (from first telephone pole to telephone pole by radio towers)

Ever see that documentary where they are studying what's going on when you are drowning. Where they took Navy Seals and put weights on them and measured their brainwaves, and heartrate when they put them in the water. Sent shivers up my spine. Now these guys are fully trained special forces. And the look of sheer panic on their faces as they started to sink was incredible. I felt a little like that.

You know how when you crest a ledge you are supposed to grab a gear or two. I knew I should do that, but just didn't have it in me to grab a cog and stand. 2nd time up didn't have the zip to drown again. 11:34.

Still messing with my fit. I must have stopped and rotated the bars a mm this way and a mm that way 4 or 5 times. The power to the pedals is definitely better. My shoulder tightness is still there some after the ride and my triceps feel soar. My elbows are bent now when on the hoods and in the drops so I don't think I'm supporting my weight with my arms like I used to. I wonder if with the longer stem when I stand out of the saddle on the hoods, if I'm pushing more. I really like standing honking it with the hands on the hoods with this longer stem. Read somewhere how climbing specialists like long stems for the leverage during out of the saddle climbing. Wonder if my triceps will look like Jamie Paolinetti's in the hard road. Maybe I should do some pushups.

Back to work

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

When it rains it pours

Why oh why is it that when it rains it pours. All of a sudden it is just hitting the fan.

-Taxes are due and I haven't started
-New deadline at work all of a sudden
-Mountain bike is totally in shambles
-Preschool conference
-And the praying contractors need to know how low to run the drywall. (more on this below)

It is so hard to think about training when everything else is going on sometimes. Problem is with my personality. It's 100% on or nothing. So often times I'll bag on the training, cause I just can't get into the mode to go do it with other things weighing on my mind. I need to get back into it after being off from the race. Hopefully I can grab an hour and do some hill repeats or something and then get back
to other matters. It's hard to compartmentalize life sometimes.

Back to the praying contractors. We are having a direct vent fireplace put in our family room.


It's pretty straight forward construction, some framing, running a gas line, slide in an insert, vent to the outside, drywall it in, and then some simple shelving on either side of the pop out. I had visions of doing it all myself and saving a bundle. But the older I get the wiser I get and also had visions of our family room in shambles for about 4 months while I figured out how to do it. I've got a knack. If it can be done wrong I can do it wrong not once but twice.

So we decided to hire a contractor to do some of the work. They do all the framing/drywall/plumbing and put the fireplace in, and I'll build the mantle and the built in shelving. That way I can save some dough but at least the major part of it will actually get done correctly and in a reasonable amount of time.

Contractors are hard to come by these days and we found one finally. The nicest guys in the world. But it's been a little uncomfortable cause I don't think he's ever put in a direct vent fireplace before. And because I'm doing some of the work they are looking to me for some answers on dimensions, which I really had no clue on cause I was going to do the mantle/shelving when the pop out and fireplace was completed. And I'm looking to them to know how to put the thing in properly. Sort of the blind leading the blind.

We are all set to do the job and he comes over with the main framing guys and we are going over details making sure we are all on the same page, and then he says "Ok let's pray". Talk about one of the most awkward twilight zone feelings. We bow our heads and he says a prayer about doing a good job, making us happy and being safe..... I wasn't sure if I should be worried about this or be happy to have God on the jobsite.

I must say that so far they've been a pleasure to deal with, meticulous, and nice, and do good work.

Just wish I had a clue about what the design of the mantle and shelving should be. You know what the trait of a good craftsman is? How well they can hide their mistakes....That's what caulk is for, right?

Love ya honey

My wife just informed me that she read my Blog for the first time today. Shame on her, doesn't she know that this is private and that only a select few billion with access to the Internet worldwide can read it?

Better watch what I say.

Love ya hon!

Gotta be the tights

Rode the road bike in to work this morning. Spectacular sunny morning, crisp but where you know it is going to be warm later. There were even swarms of bugs by the fields forcing you to breathe through your nose and keep your lips pursed tight. Legs felt amazingly good. Not sure if it is just being on the road bike after being on the cross bike yesterday or what. But the legs were just ticking over as Phil says.

I think it is the tights. I love these things and wish I'd worn them at the race. They are super thin Lemond training tights, that were dirt cheap. The kind of thin stretchy material that countours to the quad muscles and makes you stand duck footed in front of the mirror to pose.
(Ouch that hurt to flex like that)

Parenting tips

There is no instruction manual for parenting. OJT (on the job training) Everyone thinks their way is best, no one knows jack (except me of course)

Just a few tips.

1) Always be prepared to have superheroes over for breakfast. This morning we had Batman in cape and all.

2) There are only 3 words that any parent needs to really get down for going out in public.


Just imagine me with two boys in the Dairy Queen bathroom. I think you could take 10 fathers from 10 different countries and put them in a public restroom and a linguist could create a Rosetta stone for translating one language to another. Because every dad would be yelling to their kids not to touch anything.

Monday, April 04, 2005


1hr50 mins of fun. I bet it will take 2 weeks to get my bike running again. Need all new cables, pads, fork rebuild, headset repack. There will be dirt between my toes from the mud in the shoes for months.

Left the car at work and rode home. Legs are hurting pretty good, nice knee twinge in the left knee from the middle ring grinds. Iced it and took some ibuprofen when I got home. Strength training was in December, and it is times like yesterday where its true effects come into play.

Riding home I felt like I was bonking, and it was a slow journey. Sometimes after a hard effort I can go hard again but for not as a long, ala stage race training. Not today. Which is good I guess cause it means that I left everything but some pocket change on the course. I read somewhere that Allison Dunlap does tempo intervals on the day after races. But then again Jason Sager and Todd Wells ride lap after lap before and the day of races.

Thanks to all for the congratulations. I hope this win doesn't come across as bragging, it's just that in the context of my life it's a big deal.

Mountain bike racing has brought more low points to my life than something that is such a joy should ever do. And it's been no one's fault but my own. My friend calls it ego investment. At work I was always the mountain biker. Everything revolved around it. It was what I did. Of course I loved to ride, but I was never a natural competitor like some people are. And races for the most part became reality checks where the reality wasn't as pretty as the version in my head. If I was THE mountain biker why did races suck so much. Pretty much brought back all the memories of growning up getting picked last for flag football teams....You know that guy.. Every play, just go long.

But my return to racing last after a long hiatus has brought new perspective and new focus, realistic goals, and an efficient training program, that while it may not be as fun as rockin' the single track is getting me fit and fast(relatively) on very limited time. And it is a lot of fun to be in a class where you can actually be competitive.

Cycling is cool like that where you have an age group and an ability bracket. Sandbaggers aside it makes for more fun racing. In 5ks or other running races with only age brackets it sucks. Cause there is always a bunch of people who were college all stars or almost Olympic qualifiers and more often than not it is more about your time than your placing.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

16 years in the making - My first WIN

Did my first race in 1989. Today I got my first win ever.

(There are only 4 names, but you can pretend that there are bunch more)

Pipestem Challenge

Last night was a nightmare (read the previous post for info on part of it). My nose was completely stuffed up and I think I had some sleep apnea because of it. Cause I woke up like 15 times, and each time had vivid recollection of the previous dream. In the morning I was in a baaaad mood. Sulking and stomping around cause of being so wishy washy on the race pretty much having decided in the middle of the night to bag it.

Finally my wife said some magic words.
I think you should go. What's the worst that can happen, you'll have to drop out.

And with that, I was all of a sudden in race mode and 100% focused. Finished packing and was on my way. Have give deep appreciation to my wife for understanding me and knowing that I needed a some encouragement to go and would feel better for going.

With the bike and wheel racked on the roof it is like having a sail. Wind gusts were in the 50+MPH and I was blown around the highway on the trip up. With each gust wondering what have I gotten myself into. There was just a dusting of snow on the ground..UNTIL I got up to Princeton to get onto 77. All of a sudden there is like 4+inches of snow. Wet soggy snow. Made it up to Pipestem and pulled into the lot. walking over to registration, the wind is howling, there is snow all over that is quickly melting. Some guys coming off the course from pre-riding were soaked and muddy.

Paid my fee, and proceeded to get dresed. Not sure what to wear. don't want to freeze out there, but don't want to overheat which is easy to do on the mtn bike with slower speeds and being out of the wind. After warming up some ended up with thick long underwear(similar to under Armour), jersey, and vest. Thick tights and booties. Mistake on the thick tights and booties as we'll soon see.

Waiting for the start is the absolute worst part for me. Hate it. butterflies going round and round. Listening to others chatter. Argh worst part. Once the horn goes, then all is well.

The start was partway down this fire road. A couple of big huge puddles and deep mud, and rivulets of water running down the road. Experts started in one wave, then sport then beginner. No clue how many in Vet sport class. Start was ok, you know that feeling of going harder than you are ready for. Need to get a better warm up routine. Passed a bunch early on then settled in to a rhythm. Top out, cross the main road, then paved road down to the little lake. B4 you get to the lake you head onto some single track. Flat for a short stretch than down to the lake. Muddy, mostly thin watery mud but several thick bogs. Hard to go fast cause of overriding the brakes. Short muddy grass hump to a fire road climb.

Pretty sloppy everywhere. Needed very light touch on the bars, lots of body english to keep going where you wanted too. Really stoked that my skills came back to me as I've been on the mtn bike all of 3 or 4 times in the past several months. I also remembered some tips from riding in the mud from the muddy years at 24 hrs of Canaan. Ride where the water is. Water doesn't find the easiest way for nothing. Under the running water is usually the hardest ground with the best traction. Lot of people were looking for the deep ruts to ride through and ended up boggin down or running their front tire into the rut.

It was sogggy, wet. Soaked on the front pretty quick. Booties were pointless, as the first big puddle my shoes are soaked inside anyway. Just ended up adding big weight. Thick tights also weighed down. And since I was gonna get cold and wet anyway the thick tights were just dead weight like the booties.

We started climbing out from the lake and turned onto this steep really muddy fire road. Granny grinder until you spun out, than hike a bike. My granny started to chain suck here. And I never went back to the granny the rest of the race for fear of total lock up. Actually turned out to be sort of a blessing in disguise. There were pleny of places where I could have used a granny, but opted to grind slow cadence in the middle ring. This actually gave me better traction on some wet rocks, as the granny would have put too much impulse power to the wheels and spun out. So I ended up cleaning several tough sections that others dismounted on.

The climb left the safety of the trees and entered this grassy field. Still climbing with the wet muddy grass sucking every bit of energy. Wind gusts were screaming across this field perpenidcular to the riders. One gust blew me right off the trail forcing me to unclip. We cross over the main road again and to a single track downhill that lead to a fire road downhill. These downhills were really sketchy with the wet rocks. My brake levers were to the bars on these. Which also turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I could only slow down to a speed that was a faster than my normal comfort level, but wasn't so bad that I ever felt in fear for my life. And we all know that speed=stability. So I ended up rolling through stuff where normally I'd be going too slow and endo, or stick the front wheel forcing a dismount.

This downhill turned into the very same fireroad we started and back up we go.

All the way, I tried my hardest to focus on the present. My current song of choice to go over in my head is from the Who Tommy: Christmas. Normally I listen to fast pop punk during intervals but during a real ride, a slower song fits better with the real cadence or riding. Just trying to sing the song in my mind. Parts of the below verses over and over.

Did you ever see the faces of the children,
They get so excited
Waking up on Christmas morning
Hours before the winter sun's ignited.
They believe in dreams and all they mean
Including heaven's generosity.
Peeping round the door
To see what parcels are for free
In curiosity.

And Tommy dosen't know what day it is.
He dosen't know who Jesus was
Or what praying is.
How can he be saved
From the eternal grave?

Surrounded by his friends
He sits so silently
And unaware of everything.
Playing poxy pinball,
Picks his nose and smiles and
Pokes his tongue at everything.
I believe in love
But how can men who've never seen
Light be enlightened.
Only if he's cured
Will his spirits future level ever heighten.

And Tommy dosen't know what day it is.
He dosen't know who Jesus was
Or what praying is.
How can he be saved
From the eternal grave?

It worked pretty well. I'd catch myself thinking of being done or how I'd place many times but tried to get back into the moment. When I knew I was on the final climb, I changed to mantras from Rocky III

I had Carl Weathers yelling at me:
There is no Tomorrow.
There is no Tomorrow.

Over and over with each pedal stroke. Then I wasn't sure if I was Rocky and the course was Clubber Lang or the other way around but said over and over

You ain't so bad.
Is that all you got?
My mother hits harder than that?
Come on chump!

Part way up I started to feel the twinge of a leg cramp. Leg cramps have been the bane of my racing forever. Total lockup of the inner thigh and quads. Forcing granny gear spin or dismount and hobble. I wanted so bad to go up a higher gear, and I think I could have, but a quick strategic meeting in the war room decided to stick with the biggest cog in the middle ring. If I were to push to hard and cramp, then I'd have to drop to the granny to spin out the cramp. But if I did that I'd probably chain suck and lock it up and have to dismount, which would mean stiff legged hobbling up the road.

Topped out on the climb and rode to the finish. As I am stopped for them to remove my tag, my left leg completely locks up in cramps spasms. And I hobble away. No idea how I finished, just so happy to be done. Grabbed my recovery drink and spun around the parking lot till finished with it. The wind was howling, and I realized that I couldn't feel my shins, when I dropped my bike on my feet and the chainrings brushed my shins. I spent like 5 minutes in the cold wind trying to get the zippers undone on my booties. Almost pulled a knife out and cut them off. Quick hot shower and I felt great.

NOW I could start daydreaming of how I finished. Took my RC cola and bag of potato chips to the board and there it was. My tag first in the Vet sport column. First time ever with a win. Yeah boy. 1:51. Experts did 3 laps, first place was 2:09. WOW. Couldn't even imagine going out again. The singlespeeders were considered expert and also did 3 laps, brutal. At the finish line everyone was covered head to toe in mud.

Bike before/after

Lessons Learned:
Nothing ventured nothing gained
Almost didn't go to the race. May never win another race again in my life, but I've got this one to keep

Figure out why I'm doing this
I gotta figure out what is my motivation. Should not have needed someone to tell me to go to the race. It's not for fame/fortune cause who the hell is going to care about the result from a small regional race in Vet sport. It's not for my wife or my family, not for my coach. Gotta be for me.

thick tights/booties were a mistake. Goretex socks don't do a whole lot but should have gone with that, and thin tights. Up top was fine with the thick long underwear and jersey/vest

Lemming syndrome
Fell into lemming trap a couple times where you just adjust your speed to the people around you, but a few times was able to break out and gap some riders, and close the gap on others.

Standing up
Gotta figure out this standing up thing. One trait of experts/pros is that they are always out of the saddle powering away. I tried it a couple times, and my legs were just screaming. Tried standing on some long climbs to use some different muscles, and it just seemed to tire me out and take me over redline than doing any good.

ate and drank pretty well. Had a flask of gel and camelback. Camelbak was still pretty heavy when I finished, so took too much water. Gel flask is hard to get to sometimes, will bring small bottle of energy drink to make it easier to intake quicker.

Whew. Pretty soar all over. No matter how I try, I can never seem to train as hard as I race. This was tough and awesome and will provide much motivation for those basement torture sessions.

I can say for a fact that my training program is working. I've been really worried that I'd be able to do a 2hr race with the really low hours in the saddle. We are talking 4-6hrs/week the last few weeks. Most sport riders do 10+ and experts 12+.


sick and sad

Woke up Fri feeling the crud. Achey running nose. Tired. Pissed off for being sick. It's not a real bad one, but how can I be sick I haven't been doing anything for riding. How can my immune system be depressed so much. I can understand it after doing a hard block of 3 days or something. Than it is ok to get sick. you earned getting sick. This is just like a stab in the back.

I've been planning on racing up until a little while ago. It's 3am right now. The cold is keeping me up, that and the smell of dog poop waifting through the air...I'll get to that in a minute.

Fri night herded cats (coached K soccer) for an hour in the cold wind. Earlier today planing on racing. Packing the bag, changed workout to my traditional pre-race Sat workout:
On the trainer 1hr easy with a set of 5x1min on 1 min off
Really enjoy doing this pre-pre race warmup on the trainer. Tunes going, lots of visualization of pushing hard, being aggressive, thinking of the pain. And the 1bys give a good indicator of the legs, and help get the blood moving.

Last year the 1-bys were done at 300W, Earlier this year been doing them at 320W. Yesterday I did them at 340 and 350W. Say What! Now you can't go by the actual number but have to go by relative change. This is a 10% difference . It could be training effect, and my position has been pretty tweaked from the bike fit, and I've got a different rear tire on there, but calibration is the same. So my legs seem there, but the rest of me isn't mind and body.

Not a whole lot of support from home either more tension than Hey Ho You go get em.
Every hour the weather degrades. Snow advisory, temps in the sub 40s with High wind advisories putting wind chills at 30. Wind at 20+mph with gusts of 55mph plus. We get the same weather here and just lost this entry with a power outtage. Wind is howling at like 30mph with gusts into the 50s

Got a comment in an entry from two days ago. Got chastised for being a wuss. I appreciate the kick in the pants there. Was getting me psyched again. Like he said, weather shouldn't be a factor. And I think if I wasn't sick then it wouldn't be and I'd be 100% for it. But this half achy stuffed up soar throat thing makes it hard to commit fully. Just like downhilling, w/o commitment you usually stack it.

Back to the poop. Went out to Brother in laws to feed his girlfriends dog that he is watching while she moves. Cold wet in the 40s with high wind. Poor dog is visibly shivering. We can't leave her there. She is a sweetheart dog. So what can you do we bring her home.

Of course we take her outside and try to get her to do her business but nothing. It hadn't looked liked she'd eaten either. She proceeds to take a dump in my son's bedroom and pee. Clean that up, pull out the shampooer, etc.

Tried taking her outside several times, nothing. About 3am I hear her shuffling around, come downstairs to find another calling card in the family room. The lovely oder of dog poop helping to clear my sinuses. Sweet dog but dumb as a door stop. Apologies to all you out there, but Im just not a dog lover. For the most part, they chase me while riding, scare my kids, poop all over the place, and bark and keep me awake. Of course the dog loving qualities such as loyalty, unconditional love, and following you around do appeal to me quite a bit. That's why I love my cat so much. I hate most cats too, you know the hissy, haughty cats. But she is a Manx. Manx's are known as the dog lover's cat, in that their personality is the closest to a dog of any cat. Loyal, follow you around, protect the house, talk to you, protective. Kinda cool.

Well gonna try to get back to bed. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. Hopefully no more special surprises on the carpet.

Here's to self pitty and sulking! Cheers.

Friday, April 01, 2005

By the Power of Greyskull, I have the Power

With a race on the horizon, a little discussion of goals.

Last year I raced the best ever over my 16 years of racing. Structured training of course helped immensely, but I credit a change in goals and better focus for the lion's share of the improvement.

The discussion of goals in Dave Morris' book Performance Cycling is one of the simplest yet best treatise on the subject that has hit home with me. A key element is what can be controlled and what cannot be controlled.

A typical goal and one that rears its ugly head all the time is to win or podium in a race. I constantly catch myself pre-writing race reports or pre-writing emails about winning or podiuming in a race. Lately (mostly due to this BLOG) I find my mind wandering constantly thinking of subjects to write about and dreaming of awesome BLOG entries of races won.

As Dave points out, this is not a good goal. Why? Because it is totally out of your control how you place. How can that be. I train hard, I should place well? But you really have NO control at all who your competition is going to be. Every hotshot sandbagger in the area could be there. And when you don't meet your goals it is like a small hole in a baloon. You start losing your enthusiasm slowly over time. I just get deflated.

So what can I control in a race. Here's my list. Meet these goals, and I have had a successful race. Regardless of placement. The cool thing is that good results have followed this mindset change.

-It is totally within your control to focus your mind on the task at hand. So many times over the years I've started to think about the training I should have done or the training I'm going to do during a race. The result: the bodies self preservation instinct takes over while your mind is in pity mode and you slow down. It is so easy to go into lemming mode. When you come up on a group and slow down to match their speed. It still hurts, but it's hard to break out of the mold and go faster.

The goal: Maintain focus. Sing a theme song, keep a mantra going. Focus with the pain become part of it.

-Again, totally within your control to drink properly and often, and to intake energy.

The goal: drink, eat, do not bonk or dehydrate

-This one is a little sticky because somethings are out of your control, but for the most part taking care of your gear and prepping your bike properly is going to keep you out of trouble. Also your riding style affects how many flats you get

the goal-No mechanicals, no flats

Dosage of effort
It is within my control how easy or how hard I go out. Too hard and you blow. Too easy and you finish with energy that should have been left on the course. Very hard thing to do. I'm still a long way off on figuring this one out.

the goal-Don't blow up, let it all hang out by the time you've finished.

This is sticky too. Riding within your comfort zone during a race, and you're going to lose time. But riding way above your head, and you're gonna crash. I'm not sure if you lose more time crashing or if you gain more time riding above your head. I think the former esp. if you break something on the bike or body. There's a sweet spot in there where your laying it on the line but you're not OOC (out of control)

the goal: Don't be a wuss but don't be an idiot either.

Bottom line: Do the best you can in the given moment in time.

Other cardinal rules to live by in mountain bike racing:

-Thank spectators and volunteers. Even with your tongue on the ground, smile and thank them for clapping for you, pointing you in the right direction or handing out water. A cheer for a lowly vet sport rider means a hell of a lot when you're hurting.

-Encourage your competitors
A " good job" when passing or being passed goes a long way. We're all on the same course and even though we are racing against each other we're all going through the same thing

Thank the promoter
Putting a race on is a hard and thankless job. While we may bitch about promoters bending us over for $ the bottom line is w/o them we wouldn't have anything to race for.