Thursday, June 29, 2006

Recovery week

This week has been just riding and getting the legs back after a few hard weekends in a row. My legs feel a lot better than they were last week at this time. I think one of the reasons is that I have increased the amount of Recoverite I use after each ride. The extra protein helps to rebuild the muscles. Most racers seem to concentrate on carbohydrates and may be deficient in their protein intake. I have looked at mine and I am probably on the border, I do eat red meats which helps but may end up adding some extra protein into the diet in the form of Hammer whey or soy supplements.

There is still a chance I may make it to Colorado for the Breckenridge race. A couple of other guys are trying to decide if they will go and we could carpool to save money. Especially with gas over $3 a gallon today! Check out Alex and Robert's blogs to see what they decide.

The National series now has it's own page that includes current standings, discussion board, and links to the races in the series. Much improved over their initial web offering. You can see it here.

My Lefty Terralogic fork finally came in and I will be getting it tonight to replace the Lefty DLR I had borrowed from my team mate Joel. Thanks to his generosity I was able to build my Rush and race in the initial two races of the series. It will remain to be seen how well I like the new fork, it is supposed to be plusher but does not have a lockout which I'm used to using once the trail or road turns smooth. The new Fox internals are supposed to help with the bobbing so maybe the lockout won't be missed too much. That's the theory anyway.

A four day holiday coming up and I plan on riding and spending some time with the family. My youngest son turned 23 today and we will celebrate that this weekend. My wife says she will have a list of things for me to do around the house during this time as well. That 4 hour ride might turn into an all day ride now.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pando - two races in one

I knew going into the Pando 8 hour race that I would be in trouble. As I get older it takes me more time to recover from hard efforts and the Lumberjack last weekend would certainly qualify as one of the harder efforts I've done. While my legs didn't feel too bad riding during the past week I knew they would run out of power over a sustained effort.

Pando is a deceptively hard course because while it is short at just under four miles in length it does have over 400 feet of climbing per lap plus some tight singletrack sections. The warm temperatures and sunshine made the race a little tougher when in the open but it felt a lot better than last weekend.

The race always starts up one of the ski slopes, what better way to get the heart rate going for the next eight hours? I felt pretty good initially but could tell that the power wasn't there on any type of climb. After struggling for three hours and eight laps I decided to call it a day, figuring I would save my legs for the Boyne marathon race in two weeks. I changed and sat in the pits helping my team mates and friends where I could. It was very pleasant sitting in the shade with a cooling breeze watching the racers out in the bright sunshine struggling to hang on.

After sitting in the pits for over 2.5 hours the competitiveness in me kicked in and I decided to go back out. Changing back into riding clothes I decided to do a few more laps since there were less that 2.5 hours left in the race. I ended up doing seven more laps, all but one quicker than the ones I had done in the morning, finishing with a total of 15 laps. Maybe a new strategy? I was still four laps short of my team mate Peter Colan who finished third.

I'm not sure why I was faster in the afternoon, maybe the Recoverite I had after the first time out combined with the Compex helped restore my legs enough to allow me to ride some more. While I was in the pits I didn't eat any solid food but continued to drink my Sustained Energy. I also did the second set of laps on my Scalpel and I think it may have been a little faster for this course. The morning laps were on the Rush.

I have to mention my other team mate Shari Scurr who battled all day long for first but eventually fell one lap back. During the race she was setting goals for the number of laps she wanted to do only to find that every time she stopped she was still in a battle for first and kept going back out despite wanting to stop and also falling and getting bruised. I think she may have surprised herself in the ability to "endure". We are all proud of her.

I traveled to the race with a few of my friends, Chris Werth and Jay "Old Man" Jones who battled each other in the single speed class. Both finished with the same number of laps but Jay was ahead of Chris. Jay was complaining after the race that he couldn't open his fingers where Chris and I didn't have any problems, we both are using the Ergon grip which before the race Jay had called "old man" grips. We'll see what he puts on his bike for the next endurance race.

Two weeks until the Boyne marathon which is reported to be on a tougher course that the XC races in the past. For me it will be about 42 miles and it will be strange to do a shorter race. I may actually be at a disadvantage since I've been doing so much of the longer distance, lower heart rate efforts. Maybe it will be in the 90's and I will have a slight advantage from dealing with the heat already this year.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Difficult decision

I think most people make decisions and then rationalize why they made them even if they know in the back of their minds that they made the wrong choice. I'm no different. I've been thinking about doing the rest of the national endurance series yet that little voice kept telling me it's too expensive, maybe some other time.

After talking it over with my wife I've decided not to go to Colorado or the other national races even though I'm currently in second place. I hate it when she's right, which is probably most of the time but don't tell her that. It's just not something in the budget for now. If they hadn't had the western race requirement I would have been able to continue.

I will do the Michigan endurance series again this year and maybe next year look at doing some of the national races again. I will have a hard time finishing in the top three in my class for the local series since I didn't do the double points race and the points difference is hard to overcome. I won my class last year which is why I was going to do other races.

My team contract calls for me to do two series and I had originally planned on doing the Michigan series again anyway since the national series hadn't been announced. Then I thought I would see how I did in the first two races of the national series before deciding to continue. Next year I shouldn't have the same stipulation so I will be more open to choosing what races to do.

I'm glad I did the two I did, I found that I like the longer loop format of the 100 milers a lot better than the round and round of the multi-hour formats. For instance this weekend's 8 hour race is on a course a little over 4 miles in length. It gets kind of boring after a while. The 100 milers will take anywhere from 8-12 hours but you rarely see the same section twice. I don't really plan on contesting much this weekend, more of a long training ride since my legs aren't 100% recovered from Lumberjack.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lumberjack article and photos

Thanks goodness it's over. Photo by Monica

Coming around the last corner to the finish banner Photo by Monica

Photo from Alex Dolpp as I'm starting on my 4th and final lap

An article on the race appeared on the Cyclingnews website

I still haven't decided about Colorado but I think I'll race this weekend at the 8 hours of Pando in case I decide to stay home this summer and finish the local series. I don't think I'll be racing if it's raining, I've done that at Pando before and it's not fun. Looking at the weather radar I sure hope all this dries up by Saturday.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

162 started, 62 finished

That was the final tally at the Lumberjack 100 this past Saturday. I was one of those who finished but the warm weather took its toll on everyone, except maybe prerace favorite Chris Eatough who won and broke the course record. I wound up 31st overall but finished 2nd again by 17 minutes to the guy who beat me at the Mohican. I think I might have been able to do better if I hadn’t gone as hard as I did last weekend. Lesson learned.

It was hot which I think got to a lot of people plus this race attracted quite a few who were trying something like this for the first time and were not prepared. I started feeling the effect of the heat more on the third and fourth lap but pushed through it. On the last lap I came through the pit area at about the 8 mile mark and saw the second place guy in his pit ( I didn’t know then if he was 1st or 2nd) and he saw me but didn’t jump up and get on his bike. He is an Expert racer that has always beaten me before. I kept looking for him to catch me and finally with about 6 miles to go as I was climbing a hill I could see him down below. I ended up having to up the tempo for the last five miles in case he would catch me. Not what I wanted to do at the end of a 100 mile race but I ended up beating him by a good margin in the end. I was taking with the winner in my class who has won quite a few 100's including the Wilderness and the Shenandoah races and he said he had never done one like this before where you had to pedal almost all the time. He was used to races with more climbing where you had chances to recover. Welcome to racing in Michigan! I would say he still managed OK though.

Once again the Cannondale Rush was fantastic. It allowed me the comfort to finish, offering superb handling in the singletrack (98% of the race) as well as being able to bomb down the bumpy hills and power through the undulating trail.

My team mate Robin Scurr did an incredible 75 miles on his SS and made the cutoff to go back out for his final lap but elected not to. I'm glad I had the gear to crawl up some of the climbs later in the day. A special thanks to Robin's wife Shari for doing pit duties for not only Robin and myself but it seemed like half of the other racers as well. Must have been something about having the Hammer Nutrition tent right there that brought them in. Thanks also to Marty for helping in the pits. I guess our pit was quite the place to catch the action.

I may be biased but the Hammer products did an incredible job of getting me through the race, both in pre-race prep and nutrition as well as out on the course. I know others who did well with it including Danielle Musto who finished 1st female SS as well as 3rd female overall. She beat me too but I wouldn't have expected otherwise. I see or hear what other racers are doing in terms of nutrition and I can only shake my head.

Now I have to figure what I’m going to do, continue with the national series where I’ve got a good hold on 2nd overall or stay here and do the Michigan races again. If I stay the Pando 8 hour is next week but I don’t know how effective I will be.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ready to go?

This past week I've been trying to find my leg strength. My legs have been tired after this weekend, I probably overdid it by not allowing them to completely recover from the Mohican. As you get older it takes longer. Plus I tend to overdo things anyway so I have no excuses.

Each day the legs are returning to normal and yesterday my heart rate and leg strength seemed to almost match up. When you train with a heart rate monitor you can usually have a good idea how you are feeling by watching it go up in relation to how you are feeling. My HR had not been high compared to the perceived effort in my legs but they feel better now. I don't normally look at a HR monitor during a short XC race but in the longer events I try to regulate my efforts by staying within a certain range.

This race will be well attended with at least 170 riders so far including some big names. The weather will be warm and they are calling for a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Hopefully all the hydrating I'm doing will help with the heat.

Cyclingnews has an article today about the race and also includes the currrent standings for the Ultra Endurance MTB series. They use a factor of the winner's total time and the margin to each finisher to determine the points, the lower the points the better. The shorter the race the more the time difference hurts.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Weekend update

This weekend went pretty much as planned. Spent Saturday morning at the Dexter Crit as a course marshall before heading over to the Poto with some of the team members. I did one lap with the team while riding the Scalpel and then rode another lap by myself using the Rush. It had been a few years since I had ridden this trail and on the second lap at least I knew some of the lines to take. The Rush really made the downhills a lot more fun. My legs were pretty well spent by the time I finished, I pushed a little harder the second lap.

Today I went out for a 4.5 hour ride on the back roads and ended up at Bloomer to check in on the XC race. It was hard tell how many were there for the race since the parking lot was pretty full due to picnics and a dog show going on. In downtown Rochester I caught the end of the local Soap Box Derby that used one of the side streets near the Paint Creek Trail. It was cold enough this morning that I started out with a jacket and knee warmers but it warmed up enough during the ride that I could take them off. My legs still felt slow but this week's riding schedule is pretty light so hopefully the legs will rebound in time for the Lumberjack this Saturday.

The weather forecast is still calling for a chance of rain at the race but if it's not too bad it may help keep the sand packed. I imagine the humidity and mosquitos may be worse. All the more reason to keep moving during the race.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mohican recap on the 'net

Here is an article with a few pictures of the Mohican 100 as found on Cyclingnews.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Recovery week

I got back on the bike Monday for a two hour easy ride. I used a differnt bike than the one I raced on Saturday so the pressure points were slightly different. I was surprised though that I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be but the legs were definitely tired if medium effort was required. Yesterday I upped the intensity slightly and today more so but the rain might mean it wil be on the trainer. I always have more difficulty keeping up any hard effort on the trainer.

After a couple of easier days leading to the weekend I plan on helping out at the Dexter Crit, sponsored by our shop, Dexter Bike and Sport. I'm not racing but our team will be out to support the race and do what we can. Later we plan on riding the Poto. Sunday I hope to get in a long ride, maybe swing by Bloomer to catch some of the XC race that will be going on there. Again, not racing but just observing.

Next week is final prep for the Lumberjack 100 so nothing major but a few hard efforts to keep the legs tuned up. I've heard that Chris Eatough will be racing and I'm sure that has a few of the local guys nervous. For me I'll see him at the start and that's it. Maybe again if/when he laps me. I did manage to beat him at the World's 24 hour a few years ago, beat him through the scoring area anyway as I ran faster than him but I think he was probably lapping me for about the 10th time or so :-)

Early forecast for the Lumberjack looks like rain. So what else is new?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mohican 100, or I have to go up what?

Jason and I raced the Mohican 100 yesterday in Loudonville, Ohio. The weather leading up to the race was calling for rain but we didn't know how much they had actually received. It was raining on Friday as we approached the general area and after getting off the interstate and driving through the small towns we could see that the rivers and streams had flooded. We could only imagine what the trails must be like. It finally stopped raining about 6:00 pm that evening and all we could do was wait.

The next morning the race started about 7:15 with a rolling start out of the resort on to some more roads before hitting the first singletrack. We were immediately soaked with mud and had very slippery conditions. Having wet shorts in the first 15 minutes of a 100 mile race is not a pleasant condition. Eventually the shorts become more like sandpaper as the mud works its way inside the shorts.

It probably took us about two hours to go the first 15 miles and we were starting to wonder if we would even make the last checkpoint before the cutoff time. Fortunately there were some roads where we could make up time. At least those roads that weren't going straight uphill where it was almost as fast to walk as it was to ride.

Speaking of walking there were at least three or four hills that I don't think anyone could ride. They were on the trails and were so steep and long that they became conga lines of people pushing their bikes. Once we pushed to the top of one only to go down the other side and immediatley be met with another hill similar to the one we had just walked up. Probably the cruelest was about 4-5 miles from the finish where we came out of a trail that had been following a river only to have it end at the base of a dam. Yup, now we had to hike our bikes up the backside of the dam(n) to the road.

Looking from the top of the dam back down the trail we had to climb. The trail came in by the river near the center of the picture.

Jason commented that between being on a SS and the trail conditions he probably had to push the bike about five miles or more in total during the race. There were some spots along one of the bigger rivers where the trail was almost washed away and you had to be carefull not to slip and fall in. I heard of at least one racer who did and found that his bike actually floated.

For the record I finished 2nd in my class and not only won $100 but a free entry to next year's race. Jason finished 5th or 6th in the SS class and beat me by about 45 minutes to an hour. Unfortunately I made a wrong turn near the end and spent about 15 minutes climbing up a road before a car passed me and told me I was going the wrong way. I still wouldn't have won but it would have looked better on the results :-) A big congratulations to Michigan racer Dan Jansen who took 3rd overall on a SS.

I can't say enough good things about the Rush, it soaked up the rocks and roots and never malfunctioned the whole race. Of course the Hammer nutrition products were the only thing I used for the entire 12 hours on the bike. Thank goodness for Endurolytes which would stop any cramps I started to get. The Wingnut pack I used kept the weight low and the fatigue off my shoulders. Jason used one also and the only thing we did notice is that the roofs of our mouths were sore, we think it may have been from the Wingnut valves.

Overall the race was very well run, quick check-in and results, well stocked aid stations and helpfull staff at each one. There were some problems with some directional signs plus they were very small and could easily be missed, especially when coming down a road and you had to turn onto a trail. The scoring updates were neat, each aid station would periodically call in a list of racers that had checked in and back at the start area they had a big board with magnets for each racer which they would then move to show which aid station you had made. It was easy for those back at the start to follow the progess of the racers.

In two weeks is the Lumberjack 100 here in Michigan where I know the person who beat me at the Mohican will be racing as well. Plus there are a few local fast guys signed up. Depending on how I do at Lumberjack I will decide if I will continue to try the other races in the national series.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ready for Mohican

This week I've been riding a little with Jason, just getting ready for the Mohican 100 this Saturday. I see some other Michigan racers have signed up at the last minute so we should be well represented.

I took the past couple of days off while Jason has been here and in addition to riding we even got in a little golf along with my other son. I was a little sore the next morning. I used to be good at that game until I started biking. Now I may play once or twice a year instead of 3-4 times a week. I think biking still costs more per year though.