Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It seemed like a good idea at the time

I went against my better judgement and went out ridng when I got home from work, in spite of the weather forecast. The weather radar didn't show any rain but they were calling for thunderstorms.

Part way though my set of intervals I looked back in the direction of my house and saw that it was getting really black. It didn't take long for the raindrops to start to fall and it quickly became a downpour, the kind that hurts because it is raining so hard. And lightning was dancing around me to top it off. The back roads that I was on had muddy running water down them, and also on me. I had trouble seeing as the spray coming off my tires was covering my glasses.

Just as I got home the rain stopped and the sun was peeking from behind the clouds. I used the garden hose to rinse off both the bike and myself. The mud washed right off and I was planning on replacing the chain after this ride anyway so it wasn't too bad. I think this was the first time this year I was really caught in the rain on a training ride. And I think it's the muddiest my Rush has been since I built it this spring.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Addison Oaks recap

Rain overnight was not heavy and the wind picked up to at least give hope to decent trail conditions for today's race at Addison Oaks. I am fortunate that the race is only about 15 minutes away by car so I could sit home for a while instead of driving a few hours to get to the race. It also meant I had a good idea of the weather and how it had affected the trail.

I arrived while the Elites and Experts were out on the course and they didn't look particularly muddy coming around on each lap. Talking to a couple of them afterward though got mixed opinions, from tacky to slick and some said each lap was getting worse. I changed and did a little preride to check it out for myself. It seemed dry to me, at least the part I rode.

Staging at the start line I surveyed the number of guys in my group and counted nine. That meant to win the MMBA CPS series all I had to do was finish, no matter who won. I had enough spares back in my car to make sure I could almost rebuild the entire bike if I had to to make sure I would cross the finish line. My strategy went from winning to not doing anything stupid.

Three of went off the front together at the start, not really pushing the pace and actually joking with each other as to who would take the lead out. I ended up in the front up the hill into the singletrack with the other two right behind me. After about a half a lap I slowed a little and let the other two go by, no sense pushing it. Later in the lap I passed the second place guy and it stayed that way for the rest of the race. I ended up about 50 seconds behind first and about a minute in front of third. That stopped my consecutive CPS wins at seven. I was also about a minute and a half slower per lap this year than last.

The racing age groups puts those 50+ in a hard situation. The current structure has Experts at 40+ and most of above 50 do not want to race against someone 10 year or more younger than ourselves. Plus we no longer want to dedicate the time required to be competitive with the longer distance of the Experts. The Sport group becomes the resting place for a lot of older racers that may have been Experts when younger. This in turn causes some frustration for other racers moving out of Beginner into Sport or the older Sport racers who find it difficult to race against former Experts.

A couple of weeks ago I approached the CPS committee about adding a 50+ Expert class but at a reduced distance. Many other race series reduce the distance for the older age groups. In fact, at the World Master's Championship the time for those 50+ is only about one hour. I checked with those on the starting line today and a lot of them thought the idea was a good one. I also talked to the CPS committee chairman today and the committee seems to think it makes sense and will be discussing it further. Maybe next year I will be racing earlier in the day.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Addison mud part deux?

Tomorrow is the final CPS race of the season and it is going to be at Addison Oaks, site of the infamous 12 hour mud race earlier this year. A lot of work was put into repairing the trails after that race and they are in prime shape once again. The rain this weekend may cause them to get soft again and probably see more traffic on them than at the 12 hour.

I rode the trails both yesterday and today and after having rain on both days the trail was still in great shape, only a few mud spots. In fact, semislick tires would not have been out of the question for the race. Most of the trail was hard and fast.

It started raining a while ago though and more is predicted tonight so I doubt the trail will be as good as it was today. Unless it is a steady rain overnight I don't think the trails will turn into the quagmire it was this spring. It will be greasy though and could be dicey in some of the corners. I've got different tires mounted depending on what it looks like tomorrow. I'm even taking the SS just in case.

I looked out the front window this afternoon and thought at first a piece of branch had fallen but looked again and it was a large turtle. I don't know where it came from or where it was going but the closest wetland is some distance from our house. If it is still around tomorrow we may try to move it to the woods.

Update: The turtle moved onto our driveway and then back into the yard. My wife decided we should take it to one of the nearby wetlands so along with my son we set about getting it into a cardboard box. Did I say I thought the turtle was a snapper? Sure enough, as my son put the box down in front of it while I was prodding it, the turtle snapped at the box, extending its neck to the limit with its mouth wide open. It startled all of us, I wish we could have caught that moment on tape.

We managed to get it in the box, hissing at us like crazy, and took it to a swamp. Once out of the box it moved fairly quickly into the weeds. I hope its not a homing turtle.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I rode Saturday and Sunday at Addison Oaks to both check out the trail and to see how my knee would react to some harder riding. After an easy lap I pushed the pace a little, not all out race speed but harder than I've been riding in the past two weeks. I could feel my knee start to ache near the end of the lap so I didn't ride much more other than back to my van. I had forgotten to wear a brace on the knee and think that may be why it started to bother me. I iced it most of the evening.

Sunday I met with Pauly and a few others to do a few laps with him, he designed most of the trails at Addison and was going to show us his lines through the course. I was glad to find out that 99% of the lines I was already using were the same as his. I did pick up a few tips. I wore a strap above my knee and I didn't have any pain. I managed to crash in one gravel corner and fell on my bad knee plus bang my thumb so that I had problems holding onto the bars and shifting. The new pains may have masked the old pain but my knee hasn't bothered me the rest of the day.

The great weather really brough out the bikers in the area. I have never seen so many at Addison on a non race day. There were lots of other riders I saw on the back roads near Addison as well. The proximity to Bald Mountain trails and the Paint Creek trail brings quite a few riders out to the area.

This week will be final prep work for the Addison race and then a big question on what to do next. It looks like I'll be racing Iceman so I will keep training and maybe add in another race or two until then to stay in shape.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Knee update

I was out on the road yesterday and the trainer today. Both days have been relatively pain free on the knee but I haven't really pushed the intensity. The brace I'm wearing is causing more discomfort than the knee. I plan on riding progressively harder as the week goes on unless it starts to bother me. I think it should be Ok for next weekend's race at Addison Oaks.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Back on the bike

I got out this morning for an easy ride to test the knee. I figured I would ride over to Stony Creek to check out the XC race. Normally it is about a half hour ride but I was going so slow I was using the granny gear to climb the few hills, those for which I am normally in the big ring. I could feel a few twinges on the knee but not too bad.

I hung around and talked with some of the people I know before heading back. It didn't take too long on the return trip before the knee started feeling worse. Not as bad as up at Drummond but enough that it was bothering me. I got home and iced it and hopefully it will improve. I wore a knee brace I picked up and will continue to wear every day to give my knee some support.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

All wrapped up and no place to go

My leg has been bothering me since the Drummond Island race, it has been painful to walk and I was afraid it was my iliotibial band. Damage to this is not uncommon in cyclists and runners.

What is the iliotibial band?
Iliotibial band syndrome is due to inflammation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the leg. The iliotibial band begins at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint. The band functions in coordination with several of the thigh muscles to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint.

What is iliotibial band syndrome?
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) occurs when there is irritation to this band of fibrous tissue. The irritation usually occurs over the outside of the knee joint, at the lateral epicondyle--the end of the femur (thigh) bone. The iliotibial band crosses bone and muscle at this point; between these structures is a bursa which should facilitate a smooth gliding motion. However, when inflamed, the iliotibial band does not glide easily, and pain associated with movement is the result.

I made it in to the doctor today and he confirmed the problem. He worked on it a bit to try and loosen it up and then wrapped it. I will continue to ice it and take it easy for the next few days. He said I can try riding on it this Sunday. With the Addison race only two weeks away I don't want to stay off the bike for very long. Hopefully it will heal quickly.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Drummond Island 24 Hour Race Summary

I'm sitting here typing this with an ice bag on my knee, the result of old age and much saddle time in one sitting (literally). Several of us went up to Drummond Island for the 24 hour race put on by Fun Promotions, held at the Drummond Island Resort. The race takes about 6 hours to drive to for those of us in the Detroit area and includes a drive across the Mackinac Bridge and a ferry ride to the island. The turnout, while not big, was at slightly larger than last year which was only a 12 hour race. Many of the racers arrived Saturday morning, including Shari's sister Kallee who was flown in special by their father. No wonder she has the nickname "Princess".

We arrived Friday afternoon and after checking in had a chance to preride the course which was the same from last year. While just slightly over 6 miles in length it had a few sections filled with rocks and roots to slow you down. Or made you come to a complete stop and fall over, as I found during our Friday lap. We also rode across the driving range which presented its own problems, from flying golf balls to sprinklers at night. It was also very soft and thick turf and made it feel like you were riding on Velcro.

I was determined to keep my heart rate under control to avoid burning out early but I wanted to get through the first section of technical singletrack immediately after the start to avoid getting stuck. Fortunately it was only about 200 feet from the start to the opening in the woods so not much sprinting was required. I entered the singletrack in fourth and cruised behind those up front for a while until I passed two of them on the second lap. My heart rate was down but it seemed the power was as well. The effort seemed more than I felt it should.

As the race went on I found that I had moved into first overall, thanks in a large part to my pit crew of Robin Scurr. He had things ready for me to go whenever I made my bottle and Camelback changes. I use a three hour bottle to minimize pit stops. Later in the evening I would stop to change clothes or once to get a bowl of hot soup. The soup was the only solid food I consumed the entire race, the rest of the time was either Hammer Perpetuem or Sustained Energy. As the night went on I was able to stretch my lead as the others were either running slower laps or taking more time off the bike.

Somewhere around 1:00 in the morning my left knee began to bother me, getting progressively worse to where I could hardly walk or put much pedal pressure on it. It may have been caused by switching shoes fairly early in the race. I think I may have moved the cleats on them a while back but haven't had any really long rides on them since. Plenty of ice, Hammer Tissue Rejuvenator and Compex use have it feeling better this afternoon.

By 8:30 in the morning I was able to quit riding as I had built up my lead to nine laps and the next closest rider would not be able to complete enough laps in the remaining time to catch me. I ended up with 32 laps or about 204 miles in 19.5 hours of actual riding. That is only about a total of one hour off the bike during my time spent racing. The Rush ate up most of the rocks and roots and never had a problem the entire race.

The next race will be the Addison Oaks XC race, the last race in the CPS series. There is another endurance race the week before but I want to do well at Addison and I know it takes me a while to recover so I'll skip the 12 hour.

Again thanks to Robin for running support at all the endurance races this year, it made a big difference. And to Shari for getting out there to the races and hanging in there despite the bumps, bruises and asthma attacks. For the record she finished first in the women solo 24 hour, and should take the series win as well.

Showing off our first place awards of custom hydration packs and fleece blankets. I'm sleeping while standing.

Blue skies leading to the UP and the Mackinac Bridge

I think our ferry was playing chicken with this freighter

The rock and roots in the more technical sections.