Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mother Nature has a funny sense of humor

All day today the sun was shining, the air was warm, people eating outside at lunch, etc. I figured I would sneak out of work about 15 minutes early to get a head start on my planned ride. I pull out of the parking garage and see dark skies in the direction I'm heading. Maybe it will pass by.

Five minutes later as I'm on the freeway I see the brake lights and what looks like a wall of water as we drive into a down pour. Another mile up the road and it's completely dry, no rain had fallen. I run into a light rain again but nothing at my house.

I got out of the car and looked at the ominous clouds heading my way and still think that maybe I can get the ride in. And then I hear the thunder. And see the lightning.

So off to the basement and on the trainer. Real funny Mother Nature, get our hopes up all day and wait until we leave before you start to rain.

Monday, March 26, 2007

76 and sunny (and windy)

Two days in March above 70 is amazing. I had to get out today and enjoy the shorts weather. Since today was a recovery day it was perfect to just cruise along, as long as you weren't riding into the wind which was crazy strong. But I stayed out of the wind as much as possible. On the way home I stopped and helped two turtles cross the road to get to the swamp. And the spring peepers are deafening.

The back roads had dried a lot since yesterday but the rain coming in will change all that. It may be a wet weekend as well. I don't know if I'll have my 29'er done but if everything is muddy I wouldn't be riding it anyway.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Weekend hurt

The warmer weather and rains have made riding the back roads a real challenge. They may be fine one day and a total mess the next. Or they may change within a ride as parts of them dry out. I think the ruts and holes this year are bigger than I have seen for a while, I don't know how vehicles can get down some roads. Even on a bike you are constantly switching course to try and find a line through the holes. Yesterday I almost went over the bars when I rode into one hole that was deeper than it looked.

I did what I thought was my hard ride yesterday, 50+ miles on the SS and on my hill route. I felt pretty good climbing and had a slightly faster time at my checkpoints than last week when I was riding the FS. But last week I did the route the day after my strength workout, this week it WAS my strength workout so my legs were a little fresher.

I had issued an invitation to my team mates to join me for a casual pace 50 mile ride today, up in horse country and on a route that wouldn't have a lot of big hills but still have some climbing. The only one who was able to make it was Bernie and he brought his SS for a little extra workout. I took a geared bike so I could ride a little easier.

The back roads were in way worse shape than yesterday, many of the roads were muddy or soft, robbing you of energy. It turns out the route I chose also had more climbing than my normal hill route. With the wind in our face for much of the return leg plus the soft roads made it feel like we were on a death march, just trying to survive. So much for an easy ride. But it made for good training. By the end I felt like I do at the end of a long race, every little hill hurt.

I think I will take it easy for a few days and allow my legs to recover. The weather for the next few days calls for rain so I may do easy spinning on the trainer or stay off the bike altogether. But the recovery process is essential to rebuild the legs even stronger.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Nothing new

Not much really new to report, the cold weather came back and I don't want to ride outside. I spent most of the week on the trainer or in spin class and on Saturday I was busy most of the day so I did intervals on the trainer.

Today I go out early, temps in the 20's which meant all bundled up again. I wanted to spend my time riding a little harder on the hills but I could tell my legs were spent from the previous day's efforts. I only managed 50 miles and half my planned route but I figured it was best to regroup and recover. Sometimes I tend to push too hard and then have a hard time recovering for a few days. I think it is harder the older I get.

More parts for the 29'er build have come in, now it's time to build the back wheel while waiting for the front hub. I'm still hoping to have the bike built by the end of the month but it will be close.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

70+ and sunny on March 13!!!!!!!!

The first ride of the year in just shorts and short sleeves. And I had to put on sunblock to avoid a burn. It's amazing how much faster you feel without all the extra clothing.

I had to wait and put the SS back together before heading out to enjoy the weather. I switched back to the 42 tooth front ring for a better workout on the roads. I was surprised that the roads were in a lot better shape than I expected. There were some areas of standing water,thick mud, tacky soil or even dusty gravel, sometimes all within a mile stretch. The SS is the perfect bike for these conditions since I don't have to worry about all the drivetrain parts getting messed up.

If we had a few more days like today the roads would be in great shape, other than the potholes. It doesn't look like the weather will cooperate though.

I received a bunch of parts for my 29'er build tonight but nothing so that I can really start to put the bike together. I'm waiting on the rims which should be here on Thursday and the front hub and fork. I also have a few parts showing up in a week or so. We are taking all the team's drivetrain parts to a sponsor, Future Technology Services, that does metal treating. It is a process that hardens the metal and makes it last longer. I hope to have the bike pretty much together before the end of the month so I can have a few weeks on it before the Cohutta race.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


The weather finally broke with warmer temps starting on Friday and it is supposed to continue through Tuesday before turning colder again. Probably every cyclist who has a blog will be writing the same thing, it sure is nice to feel the sun and warmer temperatures. The switch to daylight savings time came at the right time.

The warmer weather meant the snow melt and thawing roads turned the back road into something better left for mud boggers. I stuck to the pavement to avoid totally trashing the bike. I felt like I had wings, the pavement seemed to make the miles fly by on the mtb, at least compared to what I had been riding on all winter.

Friday was an easy ride and I ended up riding with a few other guys I know for part of it. Saturday was strength building doing big gear intervals for a total 3:15 ride time and 52 miles.

Today was my endurance day so I wanted to start early and get in around a 6 hour ride. I couldn't start as early as I wanted because I had to wait for the ice on the roads to start to melt. The melting snow from the previous day had formed frozen puddles or sheets of ice where the water running across the roads had frozen.

Even when I did finally start out I had to be careful since it was still below freezing but the sun was out, melting the ice. I did multiple laps at an industrial park, Chrysler HQ, and Oakland University before riding over to Stony Creek. There were a lot of cyclists out at Stony taking advantage of the weather. I managed to hold off some of the roadies but others just flew by me on their skinny tire bikes. I ran into some of our team members as well that were just getting started.

I ended up the day with right at 6 hours and 96 miles, averaging 16 mph. Not too bad for a fat tired, full suspension bike. Maybe not a lot of elevation change but the idea was to get the saddle time in. I know the last hour was the slowest as it was more up hill and into the wind. Of course, save the worst for last.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Out and about

I spent part of Saturday at the Bicycle and Fitness Barn in Port Huron where I gave an informational talk on sports nutrition and race fueling strategies for Hammer Nutrition. I was invited by Team Sandbag and the shop to get the team and the general public ready for the race season. The event was well attended and the store owner told me as I was leaving that he had sold enough product that day that he was going to have to reorder, and he had just gotten in his shipment that morning!

Getting home late in the afternoon it was too warm to ride outside. Sounds strange but sunny skies cause the back roads to become a mess of mud and slush. I had planned on doing some big gear strength sessions so I opted to spend three hours on the trainer grinding them out instead of on the roads.

I made sure to get out early this morning while the roads were still frozen, having switched my studded tires over to the geared bike. I'm glad I did since the roads were very icy and the potholes and frozen ruts would surely have caused me to fall on more than one occasion if not for the studs.

I was also glad that I decided on a full suspension bike due to the poor conditions of sections of the dirt roads. Twice I was able to pass vehicles that were crawling along, trying unsuccessfully to dodge the holes. I got a kick out of sailing past an expensive SUV that was negotiating the craters. I could pick a line around most of the holes or sometimes right through them without too much problem.

I rode the first half of my hill training route, not so much for hill strength but to use them to practice getting into a rhythm with out putting out maximum effort. My time for the route was much slower than the last time I rode it in the fall but I attribute that to several factors, heavier bike, resistance and weight of the studded tires, winter clothing, and the poor road conditions. The very first hill on my route was through the state park on an unplowed road that had me down to walking speed while riding most of the length of the road and the hill. It was good training though for Tennessee.

Here is the text from the nutrition seminar advertisement.

Sports Nutrition, Hydration & Electrolytes Seminar Presented By Hammer Nutrition, The Bicycle & Fitness Barn, and Team Sandbag

When: Saturday, March 3rd What time: 11:00am to 1:00pm

Where: Bicycle & Fitness Barn, Port Huron, MI

Steve Kinley with Hammer Nutrition will be presenting on the role of hydration, fueling (prior to, during, and after exercise) and electrolytes. Additionally he will discuss how Hammer Nutrition products can help you maximize performance and minimize problems like dehydration, bonking, and other conditions that not only ruin your day, but are also hazardous to your health.

Steve is an avid racer who has used Hammer products exclusively to win the CPS series the past two years as well as finishing first in the 2005 Fun Promotion Endurance series. Last year he also finished second in the Master's class in both the Mohican and Lumberjack100's.

There is no cost to attend so please join us and bring a friend. The program will be beneficial for everyone from the avid racer to the recreational enthusiast. Free snacks and beverages / Hammer Nutrition samples / Discounts on Hammer products / Prize Drawings

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A new year, a new bike.

And so it begins again. For the 2007 racing season I will have another weapon to choose from in my Cannondale lineup. I am hopping on the 29 inch wheel bandwagon and building a Caffeine 29'er from the frame up. I rode the stock version at the Iceman race and liked the way the 29" wheel bikes handled the sand and the singletrack. In stock form as a complete bike it is a little heavy for serious racing so I will add my own parts to suit my preferences.
I will be using some parts from the hardtail it replaces such as Marta brakes and XT cranks but I will have to get a new Lefty for this one, the old bike used a Headshok that will not work with the larger wheels. I will stick with SRAM XO shifters and rear derailleur with an XTR front.
The wheels are the second largest investment and will be using the new Stans Arch rims with the Hope Pro II hub in the back and Lefty hub in the front. Not the lightest build available but I want these to last as I plan on using the bike in several of the 100 mile races. No place to stop and swap wheels in these races.
Cannondale has been great to our team, and they build some outstanding bikes. Now I can choose from the new 29'er, the Scalpel for a little rougher trail and the Rush for all out comfort. All three bikes have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of race and terrain. I am lucky to be able to pick from multiple bikes.
No doubts that this is a 29'er frame
Made in the USA