Monday, March 27, 2006

Back roads in the spring

One of the pleasures? of living where I do is the multitude of back roads, usually dirt, that I can take from my house and ride for hours and have very little traffic. When I moved to Michigan it seemed that every time you turned off a major highway the road turned to dirt within a half mile. Of course dirt roads aren't so great when they are wet. Or dusty. Or full of potholes.

Today was a recovery ride and I figured I would take an easy jaunt around some of the dirt roads that were damp yesterday, thinking they would be fine today. They were dry all right, the county had gone through today and graded the few roads I planned on riding. Grading brings a whole new set of problems. The road was now loose with numerous rocks, branches and who knows what else that had been turned over and brought to the surface. Plus the piles of loose dirt that formed in ridges along the edge of the grader blade. Riding all this on a skinny tire cyclocross bike did not make for a very relaxing recovery ride. I'll count it as training for the Paris Ancaster race in two weeks but I hope their back roads are in better shape or it's going to be a long race.

Tomorrow it's back to VO2 intervals as my coach continues to try and get my motor humming at higher speeds. With the warmer weather coming in I may make it out to the west side to ride some real singletrack this weekend.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hills and Bocce

I rode the first part of a 100 mile hill loop I had put together on paper to see what it was like. I had tried to string together most of the bigger hills in the area, big being a relative term. I use a bike with a single 48t ring up front to make the hills a little more of a workout. I did about the first half and found that there was one stretch that was just a bunch of rollers since you have to travel from one hilly area to the next.

There is a point where I could turn around and reverse the loop to get in 70 miles and get to go up the hills I had come down previously. Plus I would never be more than 15 miles from home. I think this would condense the climbing into a smaller route, more bang for the buck. My HR monitor with altimeter comes back tomorrow after getting the battery changed so I can get an actual read on total elevation gain.

My team had our bocce party today at a facilty near me that has indoor courts, a bar and a restaurant. It holds international tournaments there as well. I've never played the game indoors before, always in someone's yard. This was like bowling on a putting green, it didn't take much effort to roll the ball clear past the target. It was fun and a chance for the team to get together before the racing starts in a few weeks.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Snow again

Woke up this morning to snow covering the ground and more coming down. Spring has felt more like winter so far. My schedule called for more of the high intensity VO2 intervals today and I had planned on doing them on the trainer anyway. And I hate them, it's hard to sit there and go as hard as you can and not get anywhere. It's easier to control the variables on the trainer but not as much fun as doing them outside. Probably safer though because I can get dizzy after doing one. If the weather improves tomorrow I'll try to ride outside before our team bocce party at the nearby Palazzo di Bocce. Should be fun, next we'll have to try curling, eh?

I also submitted my orders for our team's sponsored parts. I am building up a Cannondale Rush and am going to try the new Terralogic Lefty fork. This bike will be used for the longer races relegating the Scalpel to backup bike in the endurance races but still the primary weapon for the shorter XC races. Pictures to be posted once the parts start coming in.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Finally riding some trails

One of the local parks by me has finally dried to the point that I could get off the road and onto the trails. Even though the trails aren't much from a technical point it was still nice to be riding on something other than roads or the trainer. I had done a fairly intense workout yesterday so my legs didn't have a lot of zip in them. Maybe I should blame it on the softer ground and sand I was riding in. Yeah, that's it.

Yesterday I mentioned the new endurance series that incorporated six races around the country. I had considered doing the four in the eastern part of the country since you only had to do four. I read yesterday afternoon on the series web site that one of your four has to be a western race, meaning Colorado or Utah. As the Honda mower commercial says, this changes everything. I don't know about doing the series now.

I understand they want to make it a national series but how many people will really be able to afford the time and money to race all over the country? It will be interesting to see how many people actually qualify for this series. I may do the first two since they are the closest and see how it goes before deciding to do any others. The problem though is that some of the races have a registration limit so it is a gamble if there will be any openings by the time I make a decision.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New Endurance series announced

I read this morning on that there is a new endurance series that combines six races from around the country and awards an overall champion. And they have a Master's category that is 50+, that's me! One of the races in the series is Michigan's own Lumberjack race which I've signed up for. I would love to do the series but the cost would be prohibitive on my own. Anybody else interested in joining up?

Here is the information off of Cyclingnews:

Six times the challenge in new US endurance series
By Steve Medcroft

Five 100-mile mountain-bike race promoters announced the formation of a U.S. ultra-endurance national series this week. Comprising the Mohican 100 (Ohio), the Lumberjack 100 (Michigan), the Breckenridge 100 (CO), the Wilderness 101 (PA), the Endurance 100 (Utah) and the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (Virginia), the National MTB Ultra Endurance Series runs from June 3rd to September 3rd of 2006 and will be awarding National Series Championships in Open Men, Open Women, Singlespeed and Masters 50-plus categories. As presenting media partner to the series, Cyclingnews will be providing reports and results from each race.

Formed, promoters say, to fill the void in national-level competition for ultra-endurance athletes, contenders for the series will face some of the most challenging and popular 100-mile courses in the country. "Ultra endurance needs to be represented on the national stage,” says Ryan O’Dell, promoter of the Mohican 100, the first race in the series. “And although most of the participants in these events aren't trying to win but simply to finish, there is a whole class of athletes - like Garth Prosser, Jeremiah Bishop, Chris Eatough, Tinker Juarez and Mark Hendershot among others - who have a unique talent to push themselves over greater distances. They deserve a national series as a way to recognize their talent."

“Ultimately,” O’Dell says, “it’s my hope that this form of racing will be elevated to the Olympic stage and that the U.S. will have a ladder of competition in place to develop more ultra-endurance athletes that can compete at the Olympic level."

A rider accumulates points toward the series championship by racing the solo male or female, singlespeed or master’ s (50-plus) categories at each race. The points are an accounting of the number of seconds behind that race’s winner in their category. For example, if the winner of the men’s Breckenridge 100 finishes in 10:30:10, a rider who finishes in 10:50:10 would earn 1200 points towards the series (the number of seconds in 20 minutes). The winner, of course, earns zero points.

The concept is that the rider with the lowest overall points in four of the six races will be declared the National MTB Ultra Endurance Series Champion at the final event of the season (the Shenandoah Mountain Touring 100 in Harrisonburg, Virginia). "Anyone who races the eligible categories at any of the six races is eligible to be considered for the series championship," says Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah Mountain 100 promoter Chris Scott. "The only pre-requisite is that they race at any four of the six events and at least attend the Harrisonburg, Virginia finale (you only need attend the ceremony, not race the final if you have enough points to win) to be crowned champion."

The group of promoters have yet to release final details on the cash and merchandise prize package for the overall series competition (attempts to secure a naming sponsor are ongoing) but with the help of sponsors Kenda, Independent Fabrication, Thompson Seat Posts, Hammer Gel and Cannondale, the prize pool is already growing. Series contenders are, of course, eligible for the cash, product and trophy prizes available at each of the individual events.

For more information, including links to each individual race Web site and registration information, please visit

The races
1. Mohican MTB 100 (Ohio, June 3) - The 2006 National MTB Ultra Endurance Series opens Saturday June 3 at 7am at the Mohican MTB 100. Based out of the Mohican State Lodge near Loudonville, the first race winds through Ohio's Walhonding Valley.
Because it’s held in Ohio, racers might expect a flat and fast course but instead get 350-meter steep and rolling climbs. "This is a one-lap race held almost entirely in the 5,000 acre Mohican State Park,” says Team Cannondale’s Garth Prosser, who helped design the original racecourse with promoter Ryan O’Dell. “We have stream sections reminiscent of La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica (with the Crocodiles, giardia, E.Coli and bike thieves left out), the chance to ride some "off limits / no bikes allowed" trails (opened to us for just the one day) and sections along tree-canopied Amish buggy trails that wind through pristine old growth forests.”
The Mohican 100 has a field limit of 250 participants and fills up early so riders with Ultra MTB National Series aspirations should get registered as soon as possible. The 100-mile record was set by Trek/VW pro mountain biker Jeremiah Bishop (8:05:50).

2. Founder’s Lumberjack 100 (Michigan, June 17) - Two weeks later (June 17th at 7am), the series moves to the Manistee National Forest around Wellston, Michigan. "My race differs from all the others in the series in that it is four laps of a 25-mile circuit,” says promoter Rick Plite. “The course is also 99% singletrack and peppered with short climbs. Riders have to always be on the gas. It is a very demanding and tiring course.”
The course record (7:27:38) was set in the inaugural run of the event by Scott Quiring. Due to National Forest regulations, the Lumberjack 100 is also limited to a 250-rider field.

3. Breckenridge 100 (Colorado, July 15) - The series heads to Colorado for it’s third stop. The Breckenridge 100 course is built out of three distinct cloverleaf trails. Headquartered in downtown Breckenridge at Carter Park, the course loops through the epic backcountry terrain over surrounding ski resorts. Hometown epic racer Josh Tostado won the first running of the high-altitude race with a time of 9:13:19; ahead of Gary Fisher pro Nat Ross.

4. Wilderness 101 (Pennsylvania, July 29) - Stop four returns east; to State College, Pennsylvania for the Wilderness 101. Launching from Coburn Park at 7:00 am and run on a network of rocky State College-area trails, the Wilderness 101 promises to be one of the most technical races in the series. “The course is fast at the start until racers get past aid station 2,” says promoter Chris Scott. “Then there’s a section of bigger climbs and the downhills start to get a bit rougher as the race stretches on.”
First run in 2000, The Wilderness 101 is one of the older races in the series. “The 101 was one of the first endurance races of this genre,” says Scott. “And therefore also has a high probability of an early sell out.” Six-time 24 Hours of Adrenalin Solo World Champion Chris Eatough set a blistering course record in 2005. “It is unlikely that anyone will break Eatough's 6:59:48 finishing time,” Scott says.

5. The Endurance 100 (Utah, August 26) - After an almost month-long break, the series returns west for the 100-mile stage of the three-race E-100 series in Park City, Utah. Starting at 6am at The Canyons Resort, the E-100 climbs through Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, the Deer Crest Development and portions of Park City's municipal trail system before returning to the finish area at The Canyons. Along the way, riders will have climbed a total of 18,627ft; all at altitude.
Capped at 499 riders, the course record for the E-100 (10:13:32) was set by non-other than ultra-endurance legend David “Tinker” Juarez.

6. Shenandoah 100 (Virginia, September 3) - The final race in the series, the Shenandoah Mountain 100, is held in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Rolling out at 6am from Stokeville Park, the event is a mixture of riding tests. “The highlights are the off-camber singletrack and the dark deep feel of the Eastern hardwood forest,” say promoter Chris Scott.
Multi time event winner Jeremiah Bishop (current course record holder at 7:23:36) has said he believes a sub seven-hour finish is possible in the SMT100.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Better yet

I felt pretty good yesterday but wondered how I would feel today with some big gear intervals and a longer ride on the schedule. I did the intervals on the trainer and they didn't seem too bad, I wanted to get them done before several of my team mates came over to ride the back roads. I finished shortly before they showed up.

Robin and Shari Scurr, Joel Miller and John Burt came out to join me on a tour of some of the back roads around my house. We ended up with a little over 40 miles and all but about three miles of that was dirt. The route I took them on wound its way through (and up and over) some of the horse country north of me. For some of my team mates it was the longest they had ridden this year but everyone did great. Kudo's to John for doing the route on his SS with a rigid fork. Some of the roads were pretty bumpy and I'm sure his arms and back are probably feeling it. Hopefully we can do it again and I can show them some more of the countryside.

Tomorrow is a recovery ride and then it's back at it again.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Good ride today

This morning's workout called for two 40 minute intervals at just below race pace. I met Chris and Jay at 7:30 with the temperature at 20 degrees and the wind starting to pick up. I planned to be mainly on the pavement and rail trail for the intervals since you have to work harder to keep the HR up on the smooth stuff than on the mtb trails. Most of the trails around here aren't ready to ride anyway.

I was able to keep both intervals at just below or slightly above my upper HR target and felt really good while doing them. Chris and Jay were on their SS's so they were spinning away like mad. Especially Jay since Chris had switched his to a bigger gear he was trying out for the Paris Ancaster race. We got in about 3.5 hours. Tomorrow I'll see how I feel since it's some big gear intervals and a 4 hour scheduled ride. Robin and Shari Scurr are supposed to join me along with a few others.

Thursday I wrote about Kent State playing in the NCAA championships, well they played last night and got smoked. Oh well, at least as a consolation the Girl Scouts showed up at my door today to deliver the cookies we ordered a month ago.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Go Golden Flashes!

My alma mater, Kent State University, has made it to the NCAA tournament again this year and will be playing their first round game tomorrow at the Palace which is only three miles down the road from me. Unfortunately ticket prices are fairly expensive but driving home past the Palace after work today I noticed their sign said that practices today were free to the public.

After doing a recovery ride I checked the internet for the practice schedule and found out that Kent was scheduled to practice in about 45 minutes. I took a drive down there to check them out. There wasn't a big crowd but you could get down almost next to the floor and I was able to personally wish each player good luck in the tournament as they were leaving the court. Go KSU.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Much better

My knee felt better this morning and on the bike this afternoon I was able to complete my scheduled training without any problem. I iced my knee anyway as a precaution. I think one of the things that helped it out was taking a few extra Tissue Rejuvenator capsules from Hammer Nutrition.

From their website:
Reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling
Increase joint integrity and mobility
Allow decreased NSAID use
Promote more rapid healing and return to normal training post-injury
Extra Benefits: Tumeric, one of the components in Tissue Rejuvenator, in addition to being a powerful anti-inflammatory, is also a well-known antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic agent.

I ran across this article on another blog about an endurance racer from Slovenia that makes most of the rest of us look normal. I found it a facinating insight into not only the individual but athletic endurance in general.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Knee problem

During my recovery ride yesteday I could feel that the back of my right knee seemed a little tender but thought it may have just been from someting I did on Sunday's ride. During today's training though I could still feel it and it seemed a little worse so I cut my training short. I've iced it and hopefully it is nothing serious. I've never had any knee pain before while riding so this is new.

I've been searching for possible causes but it's difficult. Conventional theory is that pain in the back of the knee is from a seat too high or too far back. Nothing has changed in the saddle on the bike, other than instead of being on the trainer I rode outside. I did change stems but to one that is slightly more upright and with less reach. I also used a different pair of shoes that I hadn't worn since last fall. The search continues......

On a positive note I tried a different chamois cream that seems to do well. In the past two years my time in the saddle has greatly increased forcing me find something to help cut the friction. I had been using Bag Balm and it seemed to do the trick but began to notice that my shorts were starting to lose their stretch in the seat, becoming very baggy. Some research has led me to believe that the Bag Balm may be partly responsible since it is a petroleum product and can potentially damage the synthetic fibers.

I bought a jar of Assos chamois cream and have used it for the past two rides. It definitely gives the old tush a tingle. I had read reviews on the creams "properties" and now having tried it I can attest they are true. One of the ingredients is menthol which seems to both burn and cool at the same time. Makes you forget the saddle pain. Some of the other ingredients are of medicinal value and after only one use it seemed to help with some saddle sores that had started to develop.

Hopefully tomorrow the knee will be better and I can get back to the normal training schedule.

24 Hours of Adrenaline has announced that this year's 24 Hour World Solo Championships will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on October 6th, 7th, and 8th. A new venue and date may mean an increase in attendance over last year's race in Whistler, BC but I'm sure it will still be overpriced. At least it's closer to Michigan this time.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

26 vs. 29

Those who follow the mtb world know that there is a controversy about which is better, the standard 26" or the newer 29"wheel size. Arguments have been made for each and I'm sure each has its place. I've never ridden a 29" mtb yet so I can't comment on actual experience. I did do a comparison of sorts today though between my 26" wheel mtb with slicks and a cross bike with a wheel size equivalent to a 29".

Today's weather was even better than yesterday after the overnight rain left the area. I rode my cross bike on the exact same route I took yesterday to see how much of a difference it made. Mind you that yesterday I had two 25 minute intervals at a higher pace and today the only intensity was a series of 10 second big gear intervals. The wind for both days was about the same but some of the rail trail was a little drier today. For a 62 mile ride I was 20 minutes faster on the cross bike yet my average HR was 6 bpm lower. And after doing the intervals today early on I could feel fatigue in my legs so the last hour or so felt harder than yesterday. If I had done yesterday's workout on the cross bike I'm sure the difference would have been even higher.

The route I was on was probably 75% pavement so I figured I would be faster on the cross bike. I was surprised though that I was just as fast if not faster on the rough sections of rail trail, although certainly not as comfortable on it as on the mtb. I think I will end up using the cross bike for the Paris Ancaster race next month but I need to order some new chain rings. The mtb and big ring was a fun experiment and maybe I'll try it in a spring training road race just to see how I do.

This photo was take at the Dodge Tour de Georgia two years ago. I spent the week following the race as well as riding the roads and trails.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sunny and warm(er)

The weather forecast was actually correct for today, sunny skies and warmer temperatures. I waited until later in the day to ride, normally I try to be on the bike by 8:00 am but today I waited until 10:00 to allow it to warm up some. The wind was a little stronger than predicted and riding solo and mainly on the roads meant I had nowhere to hide. Makes you stronger though right?

I figured the back roads would probably be messy (C-Dub confirmed it later on his ride) so I kept mainly to the pavement and rail trails. The Detroit area is not the best place to ride the main roads, after all it is the motor city, so you have to be creative. I did loops at a local industrial park, Oakland University, and the Chrysler Tech center (where I work) before heading out to Stony Creek Metropark for a lap there. I found this cool free software that lets you plot a route and it gives you mileage along the way and also includes an elevation profile. Here is today's ride, my mileage was a little higher than shown because I did an extra loop at one spot. I would say it's pretty accurate though.

I had a chance to try out my mtb with slicks running a 1x8 and a 48t up front. This is a possible bike for the Paris Ancaster race next month. It seemed OK but the chain popped off the front once in spite of a derailleur rigged up as a chain guide. I'm going to try and come up with an alternative guide. If the weather clears up tomorrow I may do the same ride on the 'cross bike for a comparison.

The warmer weather sure brought a lot of people out to enjoy the sunshine. I have to wonder though about all the bikers riding with bare knees. I think the high may have reached 52 but out at Stony the lake is still frozen so the temperatures are usually cooler. I try to keep my knees covered when the tempratures are in the 50's or below. A lot of coaches recommend keeping them covered below 60. Some even say below 65! Maybe it just a part of getting older or banging my knees so many times from playing softball but I know they will ache if they get cold.

The Trillium aren't out yet but one of the trails near my house is always covered with them each spring.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Spinner or masher?

Today's intervals were of the high cadence variety. I had to do several of them of moderate length and keep the cadence above 120 rpm's. These bothered me more than doing the hill climb or strength intervals. I guess I'm one of those who prefers bigger gears.

Tonight six of us went to a township meeting to discuss recreational opportunities in preparation for a survey they will be putting out to find out how the taxpayers feel about the parks and recreation in the township. We split into groups to discuss various topics and raise our issues. Our group of six bikers were evenly split into the two groups but somehow both groups came up with the same ideas that there needed to be more bike paths and trails and better maintenance of those that exist. I would say we kind of stacked the deck but most of the others in attendance voted on these issues as top priorities also. Hopefull we will see some action based on our participation.

Looking from the trail on Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana. Whitefish is where my son lives and also the home of Hammer Nutrition.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Easy day

Not much new today, just an easy spin on the trainer. My legs were a little heavy until about half way through. Back to the harder stuff tomorrow.

My campsite on Drummond Island the night before the 12 hour race. This year the race will be a 12/24 hour and held over Labor Day.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Another beautiful day

I met up early this morning with Chris and Todd for an easy four hour ride. We were trying to keep our HR's to a reasonable level. We managed to ride most of the time without getting too muddy, the roads we were on were a lot drier than the ones I was on yesterday.

I was surprised that once on the bike my legs felt pretty good. Walking around this morning they were feeling the effect of yesterday's ride. Today though I felt like I had about the same amount of power at the end of the ride as I did at the start. Maybe the Compex workouts are paying off.

We were talking about the benefits of riding early in the day, especially this time of year. It can be a pain putting on all the warm clothing to get out at first light but the roads are firmer plus when you get done you have the rest of the day to do whatever, including recovering on the couch. I try to follow the same pattern pretty much all year on the weekends. This week is supposed to get warmer with a predicted high of close to 60! Unfortunately rain is also coming but we can deal with that.

This picture is of Robin and Shari Scurr getting ready for the Addison Oaks 12 Hour race. This year the race is in May

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Blue skies

I got out early this morning to take advantage of the frozen roads, knowing they would soften later in the day. Although it was in the teens when I left the beautiful blue skies and sunshine made it feel a little warmer. After about three hours though the roads were turning muddy causing me to search for pavement for the rest of the ride.

I am fortunate to have miles of back roads to ride and trails close by. Today's ride took me up north through the Metamora area which is horse country. The horses seemed curious about me and watched warily as I rode by. At other farms they were galloping around the pastures, enjoying the sunshine as well. I need to take a camera with me to capture some of the scenery.

On today's ride I had a couple of longer intervals of medium intensity prescribed by my coach. One interval became an all out sprint as I got chased by a dog. My heart rate shot up 20 bpm's over target for a few minutes. I think I'll skip that road for a while. Tomorrow is another long but low intensity ride with a couple of friends, including Chris W. With warmer temperatures predicted we will have to plan our route to avoid the back roads later in the day.

Another photo from Glacier National Park.

Friday, March 03, 2006

We're in

C-Dub and I have registered for the Paris Ancaster race in Ontario next month. It turns out I was wrong yesterday about the mtb vs. 'cross bike thing. Most of the fast guys are on 'crossers since the course is pretty tame. Only a few hills but some mud in spots. Of course April in Canada could mean snow too. I'm trying to decide what bike to use, I've got a cross bike but don't know if I want to spend 2.5 hours racing it or use the hard tail with some skinny tires and road gearing. I'll probably end up with the mtb since that's what I'm used to riding. I'm going to take the 'cross bike out for a few longer spins though to see how it feels.

The "warm" picture for the day, C-dub racing on a much warmer day at Addison Oaks.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Follow-up from yesterday

Yesterday I mentioned that I had been going to the doctor for skin cancer related to too much exposure to the sun. I have received a lot of responses from friends which I appreciate. I should have included a link to this website for more information.

Today I was following some old links for races that I might do some day and ran across this one in Canada. It is a point to point race in April that has a mix of everything in it, road, trail, etc. Last year our local fast guy Mike Simonson won it using a cyclocross bike but it looks most people are using mountain bikes. I hope to make it this year and share the ride with a few others.

I know we are all looking forward to warmer weather so I thought I would start adding pictures from when we weren't all bundled up as a reminder that Spring is right around the corner. The first one is from Glacier National Park after Jason and I had ridden through it on the Going-to-the-Sun road.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sugar and spice

The Spice Girls. This is for a friend who says I need to spice up my blog. How's this C-Dub?

On a more serious note I had another doctor appointment today with the dermatologist. I've been seeing her regularly for the past year for skin cancer. Fortunately it was caught early enough that spots could be frozen and I use a lotion that basically burns you skin in the bad areas but makes the areas look like hell. Then you stop with the ointment and use a steroid cream to heal it. Then you start the process all over again. I don't have to go back until August or if I notice something unusual on my skin.

Growing up I was always outside getting sunburned, even blistering and peeling. We always thought that it was normal. Heck, I even had it happen a few years ago. My Scandinavian heritage doesn't allow me to tan, unlike my wife who can turn brown after an hour in the sun. I just turn darker red. Turns out my brother and dad both developed skin cancer which prompted me to go. Now I try to put on the sunscreen and always wear a hat. I've gone to wearing a covering under the helmet. Nothing like burning a helmet pattern into a balding head.

So to everyone I urge you to take proper precautions whenever you go out. We spend a lot of time outside and want to continue to be able to do so.

On a training related note I got a three week plan from my coach. Looks like a lot of on-bike drills including strength and tempo training before we move into the really hard stuff. There is still over seven weeks to the first real race.