Sunday, February 25, 2007

Day of Disaster---Almost!

Southridge! The day started off a little jumbled! I got going just a bit later than usual, which was most likely for the best as you will read! I made it almost to the Ontario airport when traffic stopped...dead! After sitting for what seemed like 15 hours(about 5 minutes) we moved about 10 feet! I finally heard the report on the radio that there was a SIG alert about 1 mile away. Well race fans, it took me about 35 minutes to travel 1and1/2 miles! I started to freak out a bit, than realized that I had plenty of time to drive the remaining 7 miles to Southridge. I thought that if I had left on time that I may have been involved in the large pile-up. One car had even caught on fire and burned out.
When I arrived at the park it was stinking cold! No worries though beacuase there was no wind and that was a plus! We received a decent amount of rain the two days prior to the event and the dirt looked great! I rode a bit of the track and it was fast and tacky! I thought it was going to be a great day!
As I wrote in my last post, I had not had the greatest two weeks of training. The rain spoiled a few days of the week, so I never really found my legs. As I warmed up for the race I was feeling great which excited me. It really started to warm up and the vibe was good! As we lined up my buddy Rory and I quickly realized that there were some tuff and lean looking fellas in our class! As good as I was doing controlling the pre-race jitters, I started to get a little crazy! They decided to let us start with a pretty large group of about 30 people of various classes. That turned out to be a great decision because most of the slower traffic that has been slowing me down would now be starting with us!
As the siren rung I took off at a decent pace feeling pretty well. A couple of older sandbaggers took the lead which was fine with me! I was in front of the 5 in my class but I noticed that up the blacktop they were pushing me pretty hard. I felt fine until about 3/4 of the way up the hill and I felt as if my legs bonked! This was a scary feeling because I had about 6 miles left! I completely struggled up the climbs before the first descent. I started to freak out that I was not going to win this race! I was having problems with my chain and cranks. I couldn't seem to keep it in the big ring, which kept me unbalanced every time it jumped or dropped.
During the first descent I had a guy I was trying to pass, and when he finally crashed, I cranked to get around him and dropped my chain for the 1st of 4 times! The singletrack was amazing! If it was loose and dusty like normal, I may have went down a lot! With my chain dropping, I couldn't seem to get my balance or a rhythm at all. When we hit the second long climb, I hit the wall! As I started at the base of the hill I dropped my chain again and spun out! This sucked a ton of juice out of me and I found myself walking about 50 yards up the hill. As I got back in the saddle, I gave it all I had to get to the top of the hill. I stayed in my middle ring on the next descent as to not drop my chain again. As I hit the switchback climb on the backside I caught some of the Open class women which inspired me to painstakingly push as hard as I freaking could so I would not get caught up in the quickest singletrack. I was able to pass them, but paid the price with my body! My lower back started to throb and I felt as if I had nothing left! I was so unbalanced thru all the baby heads(rocks the size of baby heads) that I almost crashed numerous times and even ran myself off the track twice.
After dropping down the concrete chute, I did not even have the energy to push hard thru the flats. I made up so much time in this area in the last race, I started to mentally freak out. Once I started the steady climb back towards the last descent my legs seemed to gain new life. I had actually caught up with the group ahead and I wanted more than anything to pass this guy that had been winning his class! As I flew by him, I screamed, let's go baby! You should have seen his face when he realized that it was me! I had given up all hope of breaking the 45 minute goal that I had set. I was so bummed because the condtions were so great! After I came across, Rory and Thomas came in neck to neck! They were only about two minutes behind which was a huge improvement for them! Bravo! I think they both improved their time by 4-6 minutes.
When they posted the times, I was absolutely floored that I had improvrd my time by close to 1 min! 45 minutes and 11 seconds. I could not believe with the way I raced and the slow riding that I had done, that I won let alone beat my last time! If I felt as good as the last race, I may have put in a 42-43 minute lap! Who knows?! I will not make excuses!
After the race Rory checked out my bike and dropped the news that my crank bottom bracket was shot! Yippee! I thought that I had it bad until I waited for one of my racing inspirations to come across the finish! I asked Bernice from Team Sho-Air (my dream team!)if Josh Smith had come thru yet and she said no with a tidbit of worry in her eyes. About 5 minutes later he rolled up bloody and shaken, got off his bike, said he needed medical attention, and kind of collapsed to the ground. Turns out that about half way thru his 3rd and final lap, he drilled his head into the ground hard enough to knock himself out! They seem to think that he may have been out for a minute or so! When he came too, he proceeded to finish the rest of the 3 miles he had left. He later said that he saw black spots all the way in. He also had a large gash on his leg and a bloodied elbow! I felt bad that his young daughter was there and seemed to be a little worried at first, but quickly seemed to act as if this had happened before! I am just glad that he is OK! On the lighter side, he still won the freaking race! And he races in one of the most competetive classes! Kudos dude! I hope you heal up this week since you have the insane Vision Quest this Saturday! This race is 58.5 miles with over 11,000 feet in elevation gain! I hope to do this race next year! It sells out months prior, and you have to be able to keep up and make certin checkpoints by certain times! What's the purpose of racing if you can't keep up though!
I know I have my work cut out for me for the next two weeks with my training! I need to figure out why I bonked so hard! Thanks for reading my friends!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tired as a Dog

I think I may have hit a wall this week?! I seemed to start my week off strong with a couple of road rides, yet once aboard my mountain bike, my legs were bonked. Hoping that today would be better I did not get the chance to check them as it was POURING rain when I got off work. I will try to do some stretching tonight before bed and hopefully it will be dry enough to hit a light dirt ride tomorrow. Saturday is race day and I need to sart projecting some positive thoughts as I know that will ready me to fly!
Keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer as I have the goal of breaking 45 minutes this week! I have been working on my strength and breathing and believe that I can shave a couple minutes if I attack the course in a couple of key areas. Slower traffic in the singletrack will also play a part. I kind of hope that the recent storms keep some away, so that I can get a better feel as to what I can put down without slower groups ahead of me?! We will see?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Birthday Week!

It is truely amazing how much two days of different types of foods affect your body! My wonderful wife took me to Disneyland for my birthday last Sunday and Monday, and needless to say, we ate what we wanted! I am not on a specific healthy diet, but I have tried to cut out most junk food. I think the 2 days of yummies set me back a few in my training! It also seems to make me hungrier than usual, and I do not fill up as fast as normal.
I spent a lot of time on my road bike this week. I friend that I met racing in Fontana, passed me down a road bike last week. It's an old GT that seems to be getting the job done. I have definately been feeling pain in areas that haven't hurt before. I rode over 80 miles and spent a good 4 hours+ in the saddle. I averaged about 15.5 MPH each ride. I alternated days on my mountain bike, and I was definately feeling it each day on the dirt! I have been leary to ride my MTB to much because I am still waiting for my wheel to come in. The last thing I want is to be way up some hill in the middle of nowhere and have my hub grenade! Walking a broken bike sucks!
March and April will be great months full of racing! I can't wait! If I can continue to train hard, I plan on moving up to the sport class for all races other than the Southridge winter series. That will step things up to a whole new level! It has been nice getting first place but I definately want a bigger challenge! Longer distances, faster times, and much stronger competitors! Game on!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ode to my Bike

I thought that I would take this day to give some praise where praise is due! I will start with my wonderful bike shop, Westlake Cyclery. From the moment I walked in over two years ago, they treated me right! Bill gave me some information and steered me towards the bike he thought was right for me and the money I had to spend. He didn't over-sell me, and he got me the most for my buck! Thanks Bill. The shop has been there every step of the way with advice, mechanical help, training tips, and more than I could ever ask for. So thank you, Kim, Bill, Sean, Kevin, Tony, and Mike! You have all contributed to my growth and excitement in this new way of life.
My ailing bike is next! Mad props to Specialized! A little less than two years ago I purchased a Hardrock Comp. I had about $500 to spend and Specialized offered a lot for the money! When you subtract the 9 months off the bike because of my illness, I have rode the heck out of my Hardrock for about 28 weeks! I have logged over 3000 miles in those 28 weeks, and my Specialized has held up like the Hardrock it was designed to be! As of late though, I have had to replace part after part, as I have rode it to death...literally! My desire to ride Specialized into the future is bigger than my wallet at the moment! They have the best race bike on the market in my opinion. I have my eyes and heart set on a Specialized Epic. I would love a Marathon model but would gladly take an Expert! Of the 5 million bikes on the market, there is just not a better made race bike! Almost all of Team Sho-Air(my favorites!) win on their Epics week after week!
I have spoken with some great people at Specialized! They just do things right and for the right reason! The only complaint I have about them is that they passed me over for sponsorship this year! Why would they pass me up? If I had my sponsorship application to do over again with what I know now, there is a lot I would change! It's all a learning experience? I guess?!
I have also met some amazing people in this industry that I would like to thank! At my first race last year I met Matt Dashiell from Shimano North America. He raced in my class and was a great guy offering advice and tips both before and after the race. As we waited for results and awards that day he shared some of his amazing story with me! Thanks for being so open and cool! We have continued to stay in touch since November and he always has great racing advice and cool things to share! Matt was hit by a car awhile ago when riding and suffered some injuries that are still bothering him to this day. The injuries have been keeping him off the saddle for a while and I ask that any of all you prayer warriors that may be reading, offer up some prayers of healing for this awesome cat! You are in our thoughts buddy! Thanks again for your friendship! I look forward to riding with you again!
Specialized, will you be my valentine? I promise to make you proud!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Race Day 2/10/07

What a glorious day! 2 weeks of hard work definitely started to pay out today! I put in a lot of time on the saddle over the last two weeks, trying some new training approaches, and I could see a difference as the race progressed! Talking to some of the Sho-Air riders at the last race, they had told me that they put in a lot of time road riding to increase stamina. Josh Smith is an endurance racer (12 and 24 hour racing) so taking his advice is pretty easy! Over the last two weeks I logged about 200 miles! Out of those two hundred, 125 were road miles. I can feel my body getting stronger as well. One of the guys I have been racing with, Rory Arp, handed me down a road bike this week! I look forward to using it in the coming days and beyond!
My race day started out better than I could ever imagine! As I started to warm up I ran into Johnny O'Mara.(past motocross legend) Just this week I had read a letter that he wrote to MBA. about going thru Eppstein Barr Virus over the 7 months. I had the opportunity to talk with him about my similar story of the sickness, but also warm up with him! I was stoked! He is a freaking animal! I think that he put in the fastest time of the day!
As we lined up, there were 5 people in our class again! 3 of the same and two new guys. As we took off in a large group with other classes, I weaved thru all but one, whom took off like a rocket! I thought holy crap, how am I going to catch this guy! I get so full of nerves once we take off that I definitely feel it in my legs. I need to learn how to relax my mind for the first few minutes!
By the first small climb I had caught up with the other guy and was feeling better. But when we hit the water tank paved climb he passed me on the way up! I threw it into the middle ring and stood up for 2/3 of the climb. He said afterwards that he thought I would bonk at the top of the hill, but was surprised when I did not! I have to admit though, I was feeling it! That is the hardest part of the loop for me, because there are all these little leg burners followed by one last, longish, steep climb before you start the first descent! I was so excited to hit the first downhill that I grabbed my front brake a little stiff and almost went over the bars! I saved it and started to fly! I tried to never look back! I was able to pick off rider after rider and sail through the 1st half of singletrack without being held up!
As I got to the switchbacks I caught up to a large group of riders. They kept me focused and pushing hard as we climbed. I wanted to get ahead of many as possible, as to not get stuck behind them as we entered the 2nd bit of singletrack! I actually caught up to my nemesis! I couldn't freaking believe it! He had started 1 or two groups ahead of me! I was so stoked and motivated by that point, my grin must have reached ear to ear! As we hit the singletrack I got stuck behind 3 older guys! I was so frustrated because there was no way to pass at all! When we got to the concrete chute, they all stopped! I couldn't believe it! I started yelling, Go, Go, Go! One moved aside and the other two dropped in. When we hit the bottom, I got a bit of speed, threw it into the big ring, stood up and hammered past about 6 or 7 guys! It really didn't take much out of me either! I thought I would have needed some recovery, but I was feeling good and kept pushing!
As soon as I ran up the sandy hill I felt a rush of wind pass me and noticed Ty Kady flying by! The Team Sho-Air semi-pro rider was moving! I kept up for about 2 seconds then he flew out of my sight! I navigated the humps really well and pulled into the finishing section. On the last turn before the finish line I almost caught my bars on the construction fencing! Momentary freak out! As I came across the line, I looked down at my computer and saw it! 45 minute lap time! I was so stoked! That was my goal for the race and I had done it!
More joy came when they posted the times and I realized that I had beat my nemesis by 2 and a half minutes! He came up to me and congratulated me and that felt amazing!
My goal for the remaining races is to drop my time another 3-5 minutes. I know there is a a lot of things that I can do to get there! A better bike would help immensely as well, but the fundage is still lacking!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Weekend Rides

I think that it turned to summer this weekend! My Saturday ride was in the 70's and Sunday morning was in the high 80's! Crazy SoCal! After a week of spending a lot of time in the saddle, my friend Mike Mahoney from Honey Skateboards, ( ) wanted to take me out and kill me as usual! I love riding with this guy because he yearns for technical climbs, which translates to good training for me. I think my legs bonked a mile into the trail. We started from his house in Simi Valley, and rode to the Chumash trailhead. Climbing Chumash was rough because of my legs, but we made it! We continued over the top to Rocky Peak then started the great fire road descent to Hummingbird trail. Humming bird is a crazy singletrack descent with tight switchbacks, huge rock faces and some bumpy rutted out trail! You definately have to stay sharp on the way down! Instead of taking the road back, he made me hit one more climb before heading home. Always good fun, and I felt great after finishing!
Superbowl Sunday was a superb day! I think it was in the mid 70's when I left for my ride. I thought I would do an easy spin up Chesebro Canyon since my legs had done their diligence for the week! I drove to the parking lot which was over full as usual for a nice weekend day! Usually even with the lot full, you see few people on the trail....not today! This turned out to be a big confidence builder as I got going. I could tell as soon as I started spinning that my legs were feeling good, so I decided to see how fast I could push my 10 mile loop. As I got going, I would spot riders up ahead, and start pushing harder! One by one I passed them! Other than a race, I don't think that I ever had the opportunity to pass so many people! When I finished up, I was a little over 50 minutes! That was about 8 minutes faster than any other times I did that same loop! I felt great at the finish! Very great weekend! All except the news I got from the bike shop Friday.
Riding in Sycamore canyon Friday I broke a spoke?! I stopped by the shop on my way home and they fixed it. But then they came out and gave me the bad news. The owners words were something like...."yeah, I think it's time for a new bike!" I asked why and he stated that I had about ridden my bike to death. He commended me for taking the bike to it's limit, but said that I was on the verge of grenading my back wheel, and other parts were starting to fall apart as well. I have been in a huge funk since, scared to death that my racing future is going to be put on a long hold. Being a Starbucks manager is not the most lucrative postion in the world, so I am already struggling to keep up. Having to replace expensive parts will take away any hopes as to saving towards a new bike.
A better bike would eliminate alot of these issues. The bike I have now was just not designed or equipped for the amount of riding that I am doing. I am rounding the 3000 mile mark in the last year, so you can imagine the use it's been put to!
I guess I need to pray for a miracle! My shop has a great bike for me. They actually have a 2006 Specialized Epic that they will give me for a great deal! I just need to come up with some dough! I thought I would maybe hold a weekend carwash to make some money?! We'll see. Maybe Team Sho-Air will call? What I would give to make that team! Scott Tedro is the man! I have much respect for what he has done for himself and the sport of Mountain Biking! Above all that, he has put together an amazing team of super nice people. When you see them at races they are always so cool and interested in everything and everyone around them. As someone new to the scene, I appreciate that so much! Keep it up Sho-Air, and good luck! Maybe I can make the roster if I keep on pace with my goals?!

Friday, February 2, 2007

How Sweet It Is

Race #2 Southridge Winter Series. Fontana Ca. 1/27/07

I don't think I have been able to wipe the smile off my face since I crossed the finish line! I love the feeling of winning! It gives me such a drive to train to do even better!

There is always a Beginning

I tried to start a politically charged blog last spring only to realize that posting to it only made me angrier! I know that was the whole idea of the blog in the first place, Stand Up and Speak Out, I just quickly lost interest. I thought sharing about the activity that has changed my life would maybe keep my, and your interest a little longer!
So let me start with my story! I bought a mountain bike a little over a year ago in order to lose the weight that I had put on after getting back into retail. We had bought my wife a cruiser, and I got myself a bike a couple of weeks later so that we could ride around together. I quickly fell in love with riding around and started to ride further and further. Just as I was starting to make a little 10 mile loop on the road, I started to feel as if I was coming down with some sort of virus. I kept riding 3-4 days a week anyways, but never seemed to get sick or feel better.
After a month, I decided to go see my doctor. After some tests, he informed me that I had the Epstein Barr Virus. Mono. It became all I could do is go to work. The doctor prescribed me a medication to give me enough energy to make it thru my work day. A side effect of this medication was hunger! In the 7 months that I was sick, I managed to put on about 60 pounds. As I stated above, I was into my seventh month of sickness when my doctor and I decided that was enough. There is something about your doctor saying, "you too fat, you need to lose weight" It's like thanks doc, you put me on the meds that made me like this! Bottom line though, he was right! I was way to fat! So I decided to do what it would take to change.
That is when my bike changed my life! I started to hit the trails. It wasn't easy. I road and puked, I rode and walked, and I rode and felt like dying! I always rode alone at that point, so there wasn't much to compare my lack of strength to! Occasionally a rider would blast past me and make me feel he burn though! I started to ride 6-7 days a week! I was enjoying it that much. I had a couple local hills that I made to a goal to make it up without stopping. After a while the pounds were melting away, easy. I started to climb bigger hills, fly faster on my descents and accomplish the goals that I set.
I quickly realized that I wanted to race. So I entered my first race in November 2006. I had lost 55+ pounds and was riding an average of 15 dirt miles a day. I raced the winter classic at Southridge in Fontana Ca. I entered the 200 lbs.+ division. After a protest from one of the riders in my class, I ended up with 2nd place hardware! What a sweet day! I had so much fun! I also had my work cut out for me! I learned a huge amount on that day! I didn't know how I was going to make it to the Winter Series that started Jan. 2007!
I continued to train and learn. I registered for the 200+ class for the season and raced my the first race 1/13/07. What a day! There were snow flurries at the track the day before the race, and arriving to the park early Saturday morning, the temperature was a freezing 28 degrees! On top of that the Santa Ana winds were blowing 40-60 mph! I managed to get warmed up but as soon as they lined us up for the race, we waited for a good 20-25 minutes in the freezing cold wind. By the time the whistle blew, everyone of us was shaking violently! It took me a good five minutes into the race to start to warm up! There was a group that took off like mad, but we quickly caught up to them as traffic slowed the pace. I managed to get into the lead but was caught behind some slower kids from another class as we started into the 1st descent. During one of the sandy drops, I somehow dropped my chain. That allowed 2 people from my class to pass me up. I quickly caught and passed both but was passed in the flats by one again. I finished 10 minutes quicker than my November time and about a minute behind 1st place.
I was stoked! I can't believe how much fun this is! I have met some great people at these races and look forward to each coming challenge! I competed in the second race of the season last Saturday the 17th. 1st place baby! I made plenty of mistakes and have a lot of known areas that I know I can improve, so the challenge gets that much more exciting!
I hope to race 20+ races this season if things fall into place! That is a hefty schedule but I hope to be ready to race in the Sport class by the end of this season! I will follow up as much as possible including pictures, links, training, and anything else that may interest others?!