Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Thoughts

Yesterday I waited until AFTER the rain to ride, unlike the day before. I rode the SS again and got in almost three hours. It was strange that my legs didn't feel particularly strong but I could see by the bike computer that I was travelling about 2 mph faster than normal for the same route and heart range.

Today was a light ride and I felt just the opposite of yesterday. Even at an easy pace the legs felt heavy and slow. I think a lot of it has to do with my diet of the last 18 hours. We cooked up some traditional holiday fare which was OK but we also had ice cream in the house. This a weakness of mine so I try to avoid it by not buying any.

Between yesterday and today the simple sugars in the ice cream were causing me problems and lack of energy. Not that I eat a 100% healthy or organic diet but I have pretty much eliminated most sugars. I think my body was having a hard time processing what I was putting in it. It really made me see the connection between diet and performance. At least I've got a little time to get it out of my body before the next race.

While riding through my neighborhood this afternoon I noticed that very few houses had the US flag displayed. There might have been one for every 30-40 houses. Growing up everyone had flags flying on the holidays. It is a shame that most people seem to view today as just another day off work.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Timing is everything

They say timing is everything, today then I had nothing. I had planned for a long ride today but last night they were calling for rain. When I woke up I went to the weather site, hoping for good news and to see if there was and update. Almost as soon as the site came up the rain started to fall.

I delayed my ride for a few hours hoping it would stop. I planned on riding the pavement on the SS rather than trash a drivetrain on a geared bike so I dropped a tooth on the back to 42x16. Once the rain let up I put on my rain gear and headed out the door.

About 15 minutes into my ride it started to rain harder and soon my rain gear was functioning more like a wetsuit. I was wet underneath but it was stopping the wind so my body was keeping the wet clothing warm. After another 30 minutes the rain seemed to stop but it was the proverbial calm before the storm.

It soon started raining so hard that I could barely see. Fortunately at this point I was riding laps around the Chrysler complex where I work so there wasn't much traffic. I wasn't too concerned until I heard the thunder. I don't think bicycle tires will protect me too much from a lightning strike.

I considered pulling into a parking garage and calling my wife to pick me up but since I wasn't hearing any more thunder, I decided to keep riding. When I got home I found out my wife had tried calling ME to see if I wanted a ride. I couldn't hear my cell phone though. Usually my wife jokes about not coming to get me if I am stupid enough to be out riding in bad weather so the storm must have been worse than I thought if she made the call.

When I got home I took off most of my garments in the garage and formed big puddles when I rung out my gloves and socks. And of course the rain had about stopped by then and here it is six hours later and it still hasn't rained again. Timing is everything.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Feeling stronger

After doing a preride of Addison Oaks with a couple of my team mates and feeling a little fatigued in the legs I was beginning to wonder if my legs were ever going to recover from racing the past few weeks. It has been a long time since I really felt good on the bike, way before the Cohutta 100.

Since I wasn't racing on Saturday I planned on doing a long ride instead and catch some of the race. Once I got out of my subdivision and onto the dirt roads I felt completely different from the day before. My legs had the snap in them that had been missing and my HR was where it should be as well, quickly moving up and down depending on the effort.

I did a lap of Addison before the race started and then went to the start area to cheer on those I knew, especially my team mate Shari Scurr. Watching everyone take off at the start made me wish I was racing, especially since I was feeling so good. I had to keep telling myself to remember the races coming up. No sense racing only to have to try and recover for an even bigger effort in two weeks.

After waiting for Shari to complete her first lap I rode over to Stony Creek and did a lap there before riding back to Addison for a race update. Joel was there with a mini camera, we had arranged to video a lap of the course. Robin got ready and was the "rabbit" while I rode behind him with the camera on my bike. Robin set a pretty good pace and we were soon passing some of the racers. Of course we were careful to not interfere with their racing.

The video was a little jumpy but looked pretty good from what I saw. Hopefully it will be able to be put up on the web site. We are experimenting with the best way to mount the camera and may have two cameras, one on the bike looking at the lead rider and another on the lead rider pointing back. We are going to try and video a lot of the trails in the area once we figure out the best way to do it.

I don't know the official results of the race but I understand that Shari finished 2nd, and was able to finish a little early after riding for 11.5 hours since the third place women would not be able to catch her. Amazing considering Shari had knee surgery not too long ago. My friend Chris W got his first win in the 12 hour SS class. Congratulations, I understand a tattoo is in the works?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Change in race plans

I decided the other day to not race the Addison Oaks 6/12 hour race. Since the Mohican 100 is only two weeks after Addison and the Lumberjack 100 two weeks after that, it would not be wise to attempt to do all three races in a 4 week period. It takes me longer to recover from hard efforts as I get older and I want to do well in the national series so it is better to prepare for those.

I would really like to race at Addison since it is my home course, only 15 minutes away and I ride there quite often. It would be nice to race where I don't have to drive three hours or overnight to get there. I plan on racing the fall XC race there so I will have one nearby race. And the Stony time trial later this summer is also close.

I will ride out and watch part of the race as my team mate Shari will be racing. Good luck to everyone racing there, the weather looks better than last year's mudfest.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Weekly update

Last week was non-exciting during the week, just riding and preparing for the Addison Oaks race this weekend. Same for this week, just not as much riding or as hard.

I rode a few laps at Island Lake on Saturday, a trail I have rarely ridden since it is over on the western side of the city and I rarely venture to that side because I have so many great areas to ride out my front door. The trail is relatively flat and has a nice flow to it but it is all big ring, and mostly flat. The trail attracts a lot of riders due to it's location and the fact that is a good place to learn to mountain bike.

The main reason I was at Island Lake was that there was a bike demo day at the park. Many of the dealers in the metro area had demo bikes available and our team was there to support the Cannondale brand. Cannondale was unable to get one of their factory trucks with demo bikes available so we helped one of the local Cannondale bike shops. We also got to hang out with our Cannondale area sales rep, it's always a plus to see and talk to him.

After church on Sunday ( a rarity for me) the family went to brunch to enjoy Mother's day. in spite of eating too much I went out for a four hour ride later in the afternoon. I did a lap at Addison Oaks so I could compare lap times with the Scalpel I was on vs. laps I had done earlier in the week on the 29'er. I felt a lot faster on the Scalpel but the lap time was only marginally faster and it was a lot drier on Sunday. Maybe I was more efficient on the 29'er so it didn't feel as fast.

I rode over to Stony to do a lap there as well. They had done a reroute on one section of the trail that had become badly eroded. The managed to increase the trail length slightly but I didn't care for the new section. It doesn't have the same flow to it that the rest of that section has and the trail construction makes me wonder how long it will hold up. Much of the trail is built on an off-camber including some of the corners. I think it will start to break down after a while and have to be redone.

It looks like we should have a dry Addison Oaks race. Last year's race turned into a mud bath that also ruined the trail. Many hours were spent to get the trail back in shape. We have added some new trail so that the course will be a little longer this year and have more climbing. I'm only doing the 6 hour race, not the whole 12 hour race. I don't want to completely ruin my legs two weeks before the Mohican 100 miler.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ft. Custer in the books

Photo from our team web site

Today was a day of a few firsts; the first xc race of the year, the first race in Michigan this year and my first race as Expert. I was not sure what to expect other than it would hurt, especially after racing in Tennessee the past two weekends. I haven't done much high intensity training so I planned on using this race more for training; I figured the pain would be over with a lot sooner than the previous weeks so at least I could look forward to that.

They created a new class in the Expert category for us old guys, 50+. Many racers were dropping out or moving back to Sport rather than race the old 40+ Expert class. It would be nice to have a few more move up as the Sport class was pretty big today and some of those guys could have raced with us instead.

When the gun went off our class seemed to move out pretty slow, certainly slower than the Sport class last year. It didn't take too long for the pace to pick up though and starting in 5th I slowly worked my way up to 3rd until we passed the first place guy who had gone out hard and then started to fade.

I stayed on the new 1st place guy's wheel pretty much for the first two laps when he started to open a gap and pull away. I could see him sometimes but my legs were starting to protest whenever the trail turned uphill. I guess the previous two weeks were starting to catch up to me.

I eventually lost sight of him about half way through the third and final lap so I put it in cruise mode just trying to make it to the finish and not give up 2nd place. I ended up holding on to 2nd , about a minute and a half back but almost cruised too much as third was only 24 seconds behind me. Overall I am happy with my first Expert race and think the results might have been different with a fresher set of legs. I can't say enough good things about the Cannondale F29 that I used today. The bike handled great and the larger wheels rolled over the log piles with no problems and tracked straight through all the sand.

Ft. Custer is probably one of the most fun trails to ride or race on in the lower part of Michigan. The weather was perfect and the race turnout was huge.

Next up is the 12 Hours of Addison Oaks on May 18. It will be nice to have a race only 20 minutes away.