Time to rest and race. Can't say I feel 'ready', but I certainly feel 'ready' to have a little more free time and a little less time on the bike during the week. 5 endurance events in the next 7 weeks, some of which are quite long. Time to find out how prepared I have made myself.
Pictures are from yesterday. It was brutally windy and hilly out there (both were significantly more so than the Ragnarok, my 101 miles was devastatingly hard. Felt like the morning day 3 of spring break in Mexico when I got off my bike. KFC double-down does not equal good dinner before a ride of such magnitude and difficulty, but I shouldn't be making excuses.
Had a great time down there! Things certainly could have gone differently with the weather (and my getting sick this month), but I'm 100% glad I made the choice to do this instead of TI this year. Huge props to everyone who did take the line though... and particularly those who were still riding when it was "called". I'm sure I would not have made it that far.
Just about everything about this weekend is worth writing about- but I'm still not even unpacked. What stood out for me was how well the format/course worked for a wide range of riders, the great time that everyone seemed to be having (even when suffering in the sandy crap or the wind), the cabins and the fire we had Saturday night, how freaking amazing the blue mounds mountain bike course is and of course the 60-90 minutes I spent fixing flats due to trying to ride on a bald hutchinson pirhana which kept picking up sharp gravel.
I'll hopefully be able to steal some pictures that someone else took. I never took my camera out for some reason.
For now I need to get unpacked and to sleep. I'm feeling pretty good for going over 200 miles the last 3 days and am hoping to do some recovering out at Eastwood tomorrow. I know I've got a long ways to go bike-handling wise if I want to be competitive out there in the "50".
Feeling hugely better after a weekend of riding the Kona on the road around Rochester and the Mamasita at Memorial and Battle Creek. The antibiotics surely did their thing, as I began feeling great within 40 or 50 hrs of my first dose.
Saturday was a ~65 mile road ride with a great group of guys. I was able to keep up on the Snake, but was still feeling a bit tired. However, by Sunday morning I was feeling great and I was able to try to push myself a little bit and got a good workout in (which felt amazing after being sick). Bob G. is looking very strong for the Almanzo and his mountain bike season. Sunday's ride was going to be a 2 hr recovery ride and wound up being a 4 hr 75 mile hill fest. I rode with my 2 litre water bladder and my mountain feed bag in order to get used to using both.
The Kona did great all weekend. My initial concerns with the "funky" fit were quickly forgotten after I dialed things in a bit more. I have ordered a new seatpost, but other than that I think it's spot on. The woodchipper bars are awesome for my needs. One thing I am still uncertain of is the IRD 11-34 cassette- it just doesn't shift that smoothly. Of course, riding on the road (never left my 50t ring either) isn't exactly the reason i have it... I'm thinking I can put up with it if need be, but for on the road I will probably try to pick up an 11-23 to run on the Ultegra/open pro wheelset that came with the Kona. Crap, I suppose I will also wind up dropping $ on real road tires then too. All in all, the bike is going to work out and I dig the handling and ride characteristics.
I also threw the suspension fork on the Mamasita- thinking I will want to get used to it a bit here because I will definitely want it for the Sandwich 50 and Cheq 100. Rode 90 minutes with it at Memorial Sunday night (some of it with Jacob Huot) and another 90 minutes or so at Battle Creek this morning. Damn is mountain biking ever fun!
I've got a big week ahead of me-
Unfixocogging the fixocog and readying it for sale as a more or less stock bike and buying some groceries early in the week here.
Thursday I have a "late start" to work and will likely get out for some seat time on the Mamasita.
Friday I have entirely off from work and will probably do some more mountain biking n(blue mound state park???? or Lacrosse?) on my way down to-
which I plan to ride fully loaded. They do have a car driving out to the camping location too, but I'm thinking that all I'm going to send along in the car is beer and maybe an extra sleeping bag/large tent in case of rain (no real reason to suffer any more than necessary). I will certainly have as much or more gear strapped to my bike for this thing than I will need for the trans-wisonsin race, or at least that's the plan. Heck, seeing as how I don't even own half the gear I probably "need" for trans-wisconsin maybe I'll just pack that beer on my bike to get the weight up to the right amount.
antibiotics seem to be working, may actually be able to ride this weekend and not suck! If I recover here quickly now that I've finally got on something I will regret not convincing them I was really sick sooner, but that's how the Mayo clinic rolls... super conservative with medecine.
lay back post is flipped forward and seat is way back in the rails... not exactly ideal, but it's in the "right" spot now for my knees. I will need a different stem asap as well with a touch more rise and 10mm longer. Will have a better idea of the bike after the group ride tomorrow.
Not sure why I'm still up, but it's probably because I bought a new bike today and I was super excited to get started toward building it up the way I wanted...
More to come on that soon.
Took 3 hrs off of work in the middle of the day today such that I could ride in the local race at Eastwood. Extremely glad that I did. What an awesome turnout and great time! Thanks to everyone. Wish I could have gone a little faster and made more of a race of the SS class, but I was tired and my gear was hard. Next time.
The Marin was sorely in need of some new handlebars and a new rear wheel.
I ordered some bars from Taiwan ebay 3 weeks ago and they showed up today. They look great!
I got tired of looking for deals on the internet so far as cheap wheels go and dropped into Bicycle Sports today. I left with a Deore disc hub laced to a Sun Rhyno Lite rim... just about what the bike needed and instant gratification is always nice.
Both ways work, no sense being fanatical about only supporting the local places in my experience- they've all given me great deals once or twice and burned me on some other things. However, in the end I do think it's important to make sure they keep on keeping on.
Had a long conversation last night with a friend and was really reminded of why I ride and why I write this blog....
It's all about the escape it provides and I race because the faster I go the further away I get. Too bad Rochester sucks so much, but maybe it will help me get faster too, eh? All I know is that it's amazing how far away from Rochester you get with only an hr or two of riding- it's a different world out there.
Wish I had done this race last year! Incredible course and organization etc.. Things were run very smoothly and the course was superb. I WILL make a point to go and ride some of it again and again (glad I brought my new gps and "mapped" it as I rode too btw). It was also cool to see so many great people out for this. The top end of the field was STACKED compared to any of the endurance races I've been in yet- which was pretty cool to see. I wish I'd been able to keep up a little better just to see the moves that would serve to separate that group out...
So far as my performance- mostly frustrating with some embarassing mixed in and not much more to say, but I'll do my best to make it sound interesting.
I got sick ten days ago and kept pushing too hard down in Decorah and over last weekend. I wound up taking the entire week off from work and seeing doctors twice- more or less desperate to get enough rest/medecine/whatever to at least be able to finish ok in this race.
Luckily, by the end of the week and race day I was feeling well enough that I thought I could give it an excellent "go" (I've still got some congestion, but that's about it. The actual lingering effects on my power/endurance are anyone's guess). The race started ok, but I quickly saw that I wouldn't be able to make the real selection that took place around mile 25. A group of 10-12 were "gone". I fell back and into my own pace. I almost caught a (the?) large group around mile 35 or so? but bent a couple chain links at the top of one of the "king of the mountain" climbs and had to stop for a moment to fix it. Jim Palmer came by and was very nice about asking if I needed any help, thanks man! Soon found a rhythm again and got back into things- the race wasn't going as planned (obviously I'd wanted to be with the lead) but it was still going well and within my expectations and reasonable goals. I passed a couple people and then passed Mr. Palmer tinkering with something on his bike (he didn't need help).
At this point I began riding with Heath Weisbrod which was really excellent. I was working too hard most of the time to talk much, but I enjoyed the company and riding with someone I have a lot of respect for.
I badly wanted to keep my pace "up" and to see if I (we) could possibly catch a legitimate chase group and I pushed too hard through a corner and went down. I was immediately up and after banging my handlebars and bar ends back into place I was continuing. At the time I knew I had hit pretty hard and slid on my hip, but the adrenaline was going and all I knew was that my hip was a bit sore.
Heath and I rode on and pretty hard until about mile 51 where we saw a group in front and he put the hammer down hard to catch them. I knew I didn't intend to stop at the 55 mile checkpoint (other than to get maps) and decided to let him go figuring that I'd latch on regardless. This was true- I latched on with him leaving the checkpoint, but the other riders were still there when we left town.
I was feeling good at that point and probably put down the most effort of the entire race for the next 12-15 miles. I passed the 62 mile mark just under 3:40 elapsed time- an excellent mark for me riding hilly gravel roads mostly without the benefit of a draft. Heath and I never really worked together consistently for most of the 30ish miles we rode together, but he certainly did help me some when we got up on top and had to battle the winds (I hope I helped him too). Around mile 70 another fellow caught up to us and we caught up to another guy as well.
We now had a group of 4 and I figured it was time to rest and plan some sort of an attack. I probably should have been thinking how nice it was to have a group to share the task of battling the wind with and how we still had a lot of miles left... I was was also finding myself struggling from time to time with my positioning on the bike and the growing tightness in my hip.
I rested for a while and only took short turns at the front, then I took the lead up one short climb around mile 75 and accidentally broke the group apart. It was me and the guy who had caught us from behind (Jason Stukel I think) and when I glanced back we had opened up a surprisingly large gap. I got excited and worked with him for 3-4 minutes and we were able to get "out of site" after going down a very long downhill. Of course this was the RAGNAROK so we immediately had to climb all that vertical right back. The climb went fine energy/power wise (I let him take the lead and kept my energy level down as much as possible), but I knew by the time I got over the top and "cooled down" a little that I was in trouble. I simply couldn't make a comfortable smooth pedal stroke due to my left hip and the right side of my back and neck all getting tight.
I pedaled on quite a bit further, but the discomfort didn't go away and neither did the nagging thoughts that I should quit so that I didn't make it harder to get back to riding after the day was over. I remembered the nagging back pain that I'd had for 4 or 5 weeks after that day back in January when my seat had slide backwards on the post.
I gave in at mile 89.xx
I feel like an idiot for not finishing I feel like an idiot for attacking Heath and the other rider and then quitting so soon thereafter I feel like an idiot for not assessing the situation better and just quitting back at mile 40 when I fell (if I was gonna quit) I feel like an idiot for having so many damn excuses
I'm looking forward to getting back to training and the upcoming races on my schedule.
So far as my injuries go- I was surprised to find that I'd bled all over my bibs and also from my right forearm and elbow. My clothing hadn't torn much so I had assumed I wasn't cut up. My hip is pretty gouged, but more importantly is very swollen. It is still flexible and I think I will be able to at least commute to work tomorrow. I've been icing it a lot and taking advil etc.. My back and neck are a bigger question mark. I had some trouble getting out of bed this morning and all day with flexibility. Regardless, I will be fine sooner rather than later and other than the lingering effects of my cold I'm feeling pretty motivated to get out and ride.
Taking it easy right now because I feel a little sick so I figured I'd post up about a couple of my recent rides.
Rode Eastwood a couple times early in the week and came away very impressed with the trail condition. I cleaned up a few things and double-checked some of the 'stunts' that Mike and I built last year, but a large crew had obviously done a great job last weekend. Eastwood was also surprisingly fun, but that might just be the allure of riding bikes in the woods.
Rode 4 hrs or so at Decorah on Thursday. Crazy (82 and sunny) conditions for this early in the year. It was the first week of being able to ride dirt trail ride of the year and it felt like mid-summer. The only thing missing was my fitness. I averaged over 155 bpm for the entire 4 hrs of riding and I know I was well over 200 a few times on climbs. I made 3 "laps" on the Mamasita and the last on the Marin 69er. It was pretty clear that 42x20 is a serious gear for such a hilly trail... pretty sure I got the heart rate well over 200 a couple times.
I took it easy playing golf and working on my cars on Saturday. The plan is to get out on the golf course 1-2x per week this year as relaxation/recovery between rides. Laura is excited about golf too, and I want to help her learn.
Sunday I rode out to Stagecoach on the Marin to ride and hang out with Neil. Couldn't have been better! Beautiful conditions and the trails are just amazing! There is no substitute anywhere for this kind of riding. As much as I like racing and the riding the major "developed" trails, riding these "barely there" trails through the woods like this with absolutely no one else around etc. etc. just seems so pure... I'll try to let the pictures speak for me because I don't know how to describe it properly.
The bike is working great too! Love the simplicity of the rigid singlespeed now that I can ride it more or less successfully. I'm awaiting the arrival of some even wider bars for it, but am loving it otherwise. The 42x20 magic gear seems as though it will work out pretty well for Stagecoach, I only had to walk a couple sections. I ended up at almost 40 miles at 9.6 mph average.