Sunday, February 25, 2007

Nice to Ice

Saturday was the perfect day for getting out on the roads and the trails. The snow melt left the trails still packed from the snowmobiles and I was able to travel almost as fast as when they are dirt. Some of the corners were a little slick and icy but otherwise the trails were the fastest they have been all winter since the snow came.

The plan for the day called for big gear intervals so after a short trip around the trails I exited onto the roads for some slow cadence, big gear work. The roads were mostly dirt but in some places you could see the ice peeking through. I tried to stay in the big ring/small cog as much as possible and stayed seated for all of the efforts. I eventually wound my way over to Chris's where I joined him and two more for a couple hours on the roads. I rode most of the ride in a big gear to keep up the strength work. Not many big hills around here and the first race in Tennessee is only 8 weeks away.

We headed back toward my place so they could ride the trails before they got too soft. The surface was slightly soft but I didn't have any problems with the wider tires I was using. By the time I finished the day I had almost 5 hours in. My legs felt pretty good in spite of the workout and I would have ridden longer but I had promised to be home by a certain time.

Today it was spitting rain, sleet and snow off and on. The side streets were covered and looked slick so I opted for the SS with the studded tires. Once rolling out the driveway I could tell I made the right choice in tires. No need for a repeat of last weekend.

After I was out for awhile the sleet started up again and the glasses became useless. Then it turned to rain and back to harder sleet that stung. I didn't get to ride as long as I wanted to but at least I was riding outside.

On a work related note people have been wondering what has been going on with my company, DaimlerChrysler. They announced over a week ago a turn around plan (again) and subsequent staff reductions. The most ominous part was the comment that they were considering all options to make the company profitable.

Most took that to mean a potential sale of Chrysler. A lot of press was generated and it looks like there is some interest from potential buyers. Everyone at work is just waiting to see what is going to happen. We don't know anymore than what we have read in the papers.

As far as reductions go we should be OK due to the announced buyout packages reducing the employees to the required number. I am not eligible for a package and I imagine a lot who are will take it. I know I would look at it pretty hard given the uncertainty of a sale.

Stay tuned for more info as it happens but you will probably read about it in the papers before we know anything.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

First road rash of the year

I managed to earn my first road rash of the year today. And actually on the road. The weather has remained cold with occasional snow which means the back roads have been snow and/or ice covered for several weeks. I don't remember them being frozen for so long, the snow just hasn't melted off of them. But that could change next week.

But back to today's ride. I got out mid morning to get in a couple of hours on the SS after doing a 4 hour ride yesterday while grinding out some big gear intervals. I planned on taking it easy and checking out Bald Mountain South to see if the trails were rideable. I thought the snowmobiles should have it packed down but I got in to the trail all of about 50 feet before turning around and continuing down the road.

It started snowing fairly hard while I was out but then the clouds gave way to sunny skies but it was still only in the teens. I was enjoying the ride, being careful whenever I came to a downhill corner to avoid sliding. I would slip at times when going uphill and even when just cruising on the flats if I got into an off camber groove.

I was coasting down a grade leading to a stop sign when the next thing I knew I was sliding on my left side. I hit on my shoulder and hip and my head bounced off the ground. I got up quickly and brushed myself off, not really hurt but more surprised. It reminded me of my days road racing motorcycles, except no leathers or full face helmet. I do have a nice bruise on my shoulder and a little broken skin. I was only doing about 15 mph and hadn't touched my brakes. It looked like I had gotten into an icy stretch caused by cars hitting their brakes as they approached the stop sign.

So last week I fall trying to stand while going up a hill. This week I fall while riding down a hill. I'm afraid of what will happen next week.

In fact, next week the weather is supposed to start warming up which is both good and bad. it brings about a transition time when the roads start to get muddy during the day and freeze overnight. The trails may set up nice and firm though provided you get out on them early in the morning. I ratchet up the intensity a notch so it may be easier on most days to do the intervals on the trainer, and safer too.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Team meeting, MMBA annual meeting

This weekend was set aside for annual meetings. First our Cannondale Midwest Racing team meeting and dinner held Saturday night and then the MMBA meeting and swap meet on Sunday.
I didn't get a chance to do any riding on Sunday but I did get in a 3.5 hour ride on Saturday morning. The back roads for the most part were still snow covered but worn down, even icy in spots. On one hill that seemed to be mostly ice I lost traction on the way up and when I put my foot down it had no traction either so I fell over standing still. In fact I had trouble even walking up the remaining portion of the hill.

Saturday evening most of the team gathered over at the Scurr's for our annual team meeting where we get a chance to see all the old team mates as well as greet new members. We also go over the various sponsorship requirements and place some initial orders for parts. This year we are changing uniform colors and logo for the first time in 4 years so everyone got a preview of what the new uniforms will look like. I think they will be pretty sharp. A lot of the work for the layout and design was done by team member Joel Miller.

Sunday's MMBA annual meeting and swap meet brought together mountain bikers from all over the state to check out the swap meet and the vendor expo area. I set up the Hammer tent and sold product and answered questions on their product. Robin and Shari Scurr along with Chris Werth assisted me in handling the crowd. There was a good turnout as bike enthusiast use the event to kick off the season, or at least help get rid of some of the cabin fever for those who haven't been riding much yet. Sort of like the boat and camper shows that are also going on this time of year.
I met the guys for Team Sandbag that will be putting on Nutrition Seminar in March that I will be helping them with. They had flyer's to help advertise the event that were pretty impressive. But for the record I don't work for Hammer, just help out at some of the shows and events.

The MMBA annual meeting usually has an interesting guest speaker every year and this year it was none other than Gary Fisher, considered one of the founding fathers of mountain biking and also the manufacturer of his own bran of bikes. Gary is known for his unusual attire and today was no exception, he wore a purple leather suit.
One of the final event of the day was the awarding of the race series awards from the last season. The top three winners of each category were given a trophy. Cannondale Midwest Racing was well represented, the first six winners in a row were all from the team. I received my award for 1st place in the Sport 50+ class. This year I will be moving up to the new Expert 50+ class. I don't expect quite the same results this year as last, plus I may not do enough races to qualify for the series.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ok, now it's cold out

People are always asking me how I can ride in the cold. It's no different than when it's warm, just a lot more clothes or at least clothes of a different type.
For example, today it was 3 degrees so I added the snowboard helmet, goggles and neoprene face mask to avoid exposed skin. I have poor circulation but even in today's cold I was fairly comfortable for an hour and a half ride. If it's warmer, say in the teens or 20's I just have a head covering under a regular helmet and glasses.
I use handlebar gauntlets and change the type of glove I wear based on the temperature. For the feet I wear two pair of socks, a base wool layer and then a fleece sock over it. If it's below freezing I add a chemical warmer. I also use winter mtb shoes which helps.
I have winter tights with a windproof front that eliminates the need for extra knee or leg warmers plus keeps the legs dry if you hit the slush. The upper body doesn't need as much so it's usually a long sleeve jersey and then a light or heavy jacket. On colder days like today I add a short sleeve technical type shirt under the jersey.
I would have ridden yesterday but the wind was blowing pretty good. I decided to get out the xc skis instead. This was my first time out this year but it didn't take long to get back into the rhythm. I had the woods to myself and managed about two hours on the trails, most of it out of the wind.
I got started xc skiing about 40 years ago, back when wood skis were the only kind available and everyone had to wax their skis. It was kind of an art to read the snow conditions and pick the proper wax. You always carried extra waxes with you in case the conditions changed. It was really a pain if you went from soft snow to harder, colder conditions since the wax for cold temps is also harder and tough to apply over the softer waxes used for warm conditions. I picked up a set of newer wax type skis a few years ago but haven't used them much.
Next weekend is the MMBA expo, swap meet and awards presentation. Quite a few of our team will be picking up CPS awards. I'll be there in the Hammer Nutrition tent so if you are going be sure to stop by.
Now it's time to get ready to flop on the couch and watch the Super Bowl. Hopefully one of my squares will win me some money this year, I came really close last year. Looking back my first blog post was one year ago. So Happy Anniversary to my blog.