I'm continuing to avoid many, many foods. At this point I believe the two most likely culprits are certain sugars and gluten. The list that I will continue to avoid is long though and I'm not sure when I will feel ready or comfortable to begin trying to re-diversity my diet. I've gotten stronger every day I've been on my bike since beginning the new diet.
The weather folks were calling for a good sized snow storm late last week, and Iowa started calling my name. I got into a great 5 man team for the Gent's ride down in Des Moines Saturday. We rode 68 miles at a comfortable pace with plenty of conversation and even a couple of sit down stops. It feels pretty good after a long winter to be able to sit down on your butt mid ride in the gravel and just take in the world. Here are a couple of pictures from the Gent's 'race'.
Almost immediately after the Gent's race I took off. I wish I had been able to stick around and see a lot of people there and hang out in the bar. The problem was that I knew I needed to get some food in me asap after 5+ hours on the bike and to do that effectively meant finding something I could eat! Burger's without buns are potentially on my menu, but I've yet to go that route. It just sounds terrible for some reason. Plus I can't eat most steak sauce, BBQ etc.. Anyways, we took off and found some food I could eat and then made our way to Iowa City.
We went for a hike at Sugar Bottoms. I try to make it out there every time I am in the area and it never disappoints. The dogs had a lot of fun running there too! I also learned some interesting history about Ding Darling. As a kid we used to go to Sanibel Island almost every year and I never had any idea there was a link between Sugar Bottoms and Ding Darling. He is quite interesting.
Late dinner at Monica's was a no-brainer as it was within walking distance of our hotel and they are very conscious of what they put in their food. The gluten free cheesecake and dinner rolls made my night. About half way through dinner we noticed flashing lights down the street. After dinner I wanted to go get some snacks at Walgreen's so we walked down that way to find this!
It was nice to be able to sleep in before one of the Iowa Spring Classic races rather than having to wake up at 6:30 to get to a noon race start. Two of my friends had come down from Rochester too and I was really looking forward to the race. Then I started looking around at all the fast guys I knew and noticing how many of them had on matching kits. I told Lew it was going to be a tough day out there, very fast at the least! Especially for this time of year. I won on this course last year and, of course, I wanted to try to win again! I think that mentally having won previously gave me a bit of an edge. It freed me to make an aggressive plan and to not worry about the potential consequences of riding very hard on new found "fitness" (fitness isn't the right word- but there isn't really a word for 'lack of poisoning or something which allows one to attempt to compete hard'). Anyways, I knew I would have to ride very aggressively and I was able to do so. It felt really, really good to be able to do so after so many cx races last fall, Triple D, CIRREM etc. etc. where it just wasn't there. Heck, where I was unable to feel like I was even pushing myself and competing for more than 2-3 minutes a lot of the time.
Here is my bike. There were some other pictures taken at the race but I don't have permission to post them. Plus I'm pretty much drafting as many people as possible in all of them, heh. Note my 'gravel' seatpost (google gravel seatpost if you don't find that funny).
Yesterday, though, the miles and laps piled on and a combination of my attacks, people flatting out and luck reduced the size of the group quickly. About halfway through the race there were 6 people in a lead group with 4 of them being riders from the same team. They sent a very strong/big guy up the road on the flat, paved, downwind section of the course. I tried to jump across to him and just wound up dangling 100 yards back and 200 yards in front of the remaining 4. Eventually he rode away and I accepted my fate. I sat in for a while and waited. Figuring the one guy was gone and that the remaining teammates would make it hard to compete for second. I attacked them hoping to split them up before they could make it harder for me and only managed to drop the one remaining rider not from their team. This worked out really well because then they took some pulls and we rotated as they wanted to keep that guy out of the race. Partly due to their help though we were only about 45 seconds down on the solo leader with 1.5 laps to go and I could see he was struggling on the hills. I went all in on the last climb of the lap, caught the solo leader within about 2 miles on the back stretch of the course where he had ridden away from me previously and then pressed on with him on my wheel. I knew he would be a passenger and just rode tempo to try to make sure the other people couldn't come across, then repeated the same attack on the very last climb and jumped cleanly away. It was emotional for me to ride that back stretch knowing that I was going to win a bike race. My friends have been saying all along that I would be fine, but I have definitely faced the possibility of never feeling that strong on the bike again and it wasn't a feeling I wanted to make peace with.
List of Postcards - In the interest of letting folks know that I received their card (without the hassle of emailing each and every one of you... not that it is too much work....
2 days ago