Friday, March 30, 2007

Sweet Redemption...for a Moment

What a weekend! Fasten your seat belts for this will be a bumpy ride! This was my big 2 race weekend! Starting with the finals in Fontucky...I mean Fontana, on Saturday! I had trained very hard for the two weeks leading up to race day, but took the last two days off for a little rest!
Thursday night on my way home from work at the bike shop I pulled into Taco Bell and one of my car tires flatted! What a bummer! $130 later on Friday, I had two new ones. Saturday as I was exiting the freeway in Fontana(about 80 miles from home) I blew one of my rear tires! Unbelievable! I managed to get to the parking lot and decided to wait until later to put on the spare!
I started to warm up and felt a little stiff. I worried that two days off after 12 days of hard riding may not have been the best idea! I decided to try to warm up thru it and felt good by the start of the race. When the horn sounded, I decided to shoot out ahead! I felt good climbing the first ridge and took a peek over my shoulder as we hit the paved road climb! I saw Rory coming and decided to push harder. This is usually the area I feel really cold, but I felt decent. I managed to pass a lot of the slower traffic that held us up in the last race. When I hit the first decent, I knew that Rory was not far back. I quickly caught up to a slower rider but could not pass as we were in the tight singletrack. At a 2 foot rock face drop, the guy ahead of me freaked and went over the handlebars! I was then able to pass and put a little room between Rory and I. Then came the sand! Fontana has always had its sandy sections, but this was unbelievable! There were sections that had to be 2 feet deep! You had to point the wheel and hope for the best! I definitely did not make it look graceful! I weaved thru even more slow traffic before hitting the tough climb on the backside! Rory was gaining again and yelling out the occasional "Here I come!" I decided to hammer the last 1/4 of the climb which was not easy, but I knew I could recover on the decent! That push really hurt me on the next climb though! It really bonked me for 4-6 minutes!
As we hit the switchbacks I screamed for Rory to pick it up! I could see him every time the switchback turned around! We really started to have fun yelling back and forth! As I hit the flats I pushed with all I had in me! I knew I was pushing my fastest lap, and hoped for a last wind. I felt as if I was flying and took the occasional peek over my shoulder. As I came to the last short climb, I jumped off to run up and I heard Rory scream something. I decided not to turn and a guy sitting at the top of the run-up said "here he comes buddy" as I passed. I freaked out and pedaled as fast as I could! As I came across the finish I screamed out "Redemption!" As I turned around I saw Rory come across about 30 seconds back! Freaking awesome! 43 minutes and 11 seconds! 16 minutes faster than my first race! I was so stoked! Even more stoked that Rory had made my race so memorable!
To top off the race finish, they presented the overall trophies for the whole Winter Series! I had managed to get 1st! I cannot explain the payoff I felt for the hard work! Pure joy!

On the way home, after spending another $150 on two rear tires, I stopped at Bonelli Park to register and pre ride the course. I rode it decently slow, but was super stoked on the terrain! It was 100% different from Fontana. Lot's of fast flat sections, and the hardest climbs came near the end of the lap!
Sunday came and I felt really good and rested! People started showing up and it was a lot of people! Super cool scene! I enjoyed watching all the different teams show up and warm up together! As the race approached I started to feel a little nervous! After all I had registered in the next class up, Sport! That meant tougher competition and two laps! I was way excited! I decided that since it was getting hot, I would wear my camelback during the race. I had my Camelback, two bottles of Hammer Heed, a flask of Hammer Perpetuem, and some Hammer Gel. When my class, Sport Clydesdale 34&under lined up, we were also lined up with 35&over as well as expert singlespeeders! So we had about 35 guys in our group! The buzzer sounded and I was off! I took it easy yet seemed to have jumped out ahead of everyone.
On the first bit of incline, some s/s passed, as this would happen a lot over the next long bit of time! I managed to stay in top three of all geared riders that started in our group! I felt really good and managed to pull away from everyone else until I missed a turn and over-rode about 300 yards! It did not look like anyone had passed me, but the two that I had been sticking with disappeared! I then settled into a cadence and pushed along. When we hit the last two climbs, I felt pretty good all the way up! No one was passing me, and that was a good feeling! As I flew down the descent to the lap point I got a small recovery!
As I passed through the lap point I somehow dropped my chain. Quickly I put it on and started the first climb again. About 1 mile into the second lap the pros started to lap me! They started 17 minutes ahead of my group if that gives you any inclination as to how fast they were moving! When we would hit a descent I was able to hang on a pros tire, but if we were on the flats or any sort of climb, they were gone! They really travelled in packs of 3-5 and used each other like roadies do! It was cool to watch. I was starting to feel it a little yet kept pushing hard knowing that I was leading my class.
As I hit about the 16Th of 20 miles, I started up the second to last climb, and that is where my life changed! 5 or 6 peddle strokes up the hill, my whole lower body seized! Maybe seized is the wrong word? Imagine a bungee cord(as my lower body), now imagine that cord stretched tight. If you were to take a sharp knife and just barely cut into the cord, imagine the layers of cord fraying! My muscles felt as if they had snapped and then frayed off into a billion pieces! I instantly fell to the side of the track and started to writhe in pain! As I layed there and stretched I saw rider after rider pass me! I sucked down every single bit of liquid that I had left on me! I believe that I was there for about seven minutes. When I finally loosened up enough to get back on my bike, I had to peddle standing up in order not to re-cramp. I made it up the rest of the climb that way and started the next descent which gave me time to recover a little more. Then we started up the last long climb. I was a 1/4 of the way up when I cramped again and had to spend another 3-4 minutes strengthen! I worried about not being able to finish but managed to get back on and climb the rest of the hill! I hammered as hard as I could all the way through the finish! They called out my name twice as I came thru which was exciting, but all I had on my mind was some sort of liquid! I fell into the grass and rested for a moment before rising to take a swig of some nasty Gatorade!
When they posted the results, I had finished 4 minutes behind 1st place for a second! Very bittersweet my friends! Definitely a learning experience! I am so stoked for the future! I hope to get Rory into this class and have some crazy battles! Even better, it would be nice to have someone to help thru the laps and battle it out at the end! Team Big Bear put on an amazing race and I look forward to the rest of the series with them!
My legs were so thrashed that I had a hard time standing or sitting for the next few days! If it helps you understand how much pain I was in, I finally rode my bike today, Friday, 5 days after the race! I did not even take that much time off when I was sick this winter! Baby, baby, baby! Today's ride was a little painful to both my legs and my ego! The hardest part is that every twinge I feel scares me that it will turn into a cramp! Hope you enjoyed my friends! I will be riding with my friend Mike on Saturday, and Rory an Sunday, so I will let you know what kind of fun that we find!
I also have some big news coming next week! Remember to "Keep on Livin!" and I will hit back soon this next time!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Crash & Burn

Well it was a pretty crazy day of racing! Not my best. We had the biggest division of the year with 10 guys in our class. I tried to not get to excited as we waited to start! A couple of dudes took off like rockets but like always, they fizzled within the first 4 minutes. One of the new guys took a pretty good lead on the paved road climb. We very quickly caught slower traffic and that was the beginning of the end for me! I passed as many as I could before the first descent, but three of us Clydesdales were riding the rear wheels of two brake happy old guys! As we started down the first steep sandy drop I chose the quicker line behind Rory and all of a sudden I hear him screaming at the guy in front of him! It surprised me enough to look up and when I did I spilled over the bars but landed on my feet. As I was picking up my bike I heard him actually apologize to the guy! It was classic. I quickly caught back up and made the mistake of deciding to follow them up the big backside climb.
I should have passed them here but I did not. This will probably be my biggest learning experience as of yet! As I followed them down the quick single-track I newwhere I would pass if all worked out. I also knew that if I passed right before the switchback climbs, I would be able to pull away and stomp towards my 43 minute lap!
Well my friends, as we made the final descent between the two large trees, they went left, I went right....right over my handlebars head first into the ground! I remember my right foot coming out of the peddle as I was somersaulting down the hill connected to my bike. As I came to a stop I felt like there was going to be no skin left on my legs and right arm. With the initial glance, it didn't look to bad, so I quickly turned my attention to my bike. The chain had come off the outside and even out of the rear derailleur. I got it on as fast as possible and jumped back in the saddle. I tried not to look down at my body but rather focused my attention ahead to where my class had gone. I do not know how long I was down, but I saw Rory and another rider starting the descent after the switchbacks. I thought that I may be able to catch them and powered up the switchbacks as hard as I could. I had to pass a couple slower guys as I descended but I thought I was making up ground.
As I crossed the finish line in fourth place every bit of fear, emotion, and pain hit me like a Mac Truck! I kid you not that my first thought was, I have to wait two freaking weeks to race again! Phooey! Then I felt some pain in my wrists, shoulder and head. My legs looked like rarely cooked hamburger! My wife would later tell me that she wondered if I crashed or got in a fight with a razor! Rory and Jen were great moral support as I tried to think thru the crash. I still am not exactly sure what caused me to go down, but it was the same descent that Josh Smith had knocked himself out on two weeks prior.(detailed in last race report)
So did I learn anything? I definitely should have passed as early as possible. Wanting to take it a little easier on the climbs forced me to ride at their pace which was much slower in a couple of key areas. I think that I have figured out that my body has more, even when it is telling me that it needs a rest. I also thought that I had a great week training, yet not riding on Friday may have kept me a little too stiff.
I have been pounding away the miles this week. I tried to ride thru the stiffness Sunday-Tuesday. It was a little rough, but come Wednesday, I was feeling pretty good. Today (Thursday 15Th March) I took a great road ride! I rode from my house down Kanan past the freeway and continued on Kanan towards the beach. I rode up Kanan until I turned right on Muhlholland, took Muhlholland to Decker Canyon, down Decker into Westlake. I then took two loops around the lake on Triunfo Canyon, then down Agoura Road to Chesebro. Chesebro back to Kanan, and up Kanan to home! Whew! 37.5 miles in around 2 and a half hours. Climbing Kanan to Muhlholland was a grind. I think it was about a good five mile climb. Not the steepest, but long steady climbing. I finished the ride averaging about 15 MPH which I was somewhat happy with!
I was using my Hammer Sustained Energy, and 1 packet of Hammer Gel, with plenty of water. I went thru one bottle of Sustained Energy and I can tell the difference very much. I could have used two bottles, but I was out! Bummer is, my new delivery was dropped off while I was gone! I know that their Recoverite is helping me recover very quickly. I have been truly amazed with this system. Their information and resources on their site has been invaluable as well! I recommend checking it out! Let me know what you find, I would love to hear any thoughts.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Ready to Race

Well it has been an interesting two weeks! I have been training pretty freaking hard. After bonking so quickly in the last race, I have been working on my nutrition and fueling regemins. I would like to tell you that I found a way to cut out sugar but that would be a big white sugar lie! But I am working on cutting some out! Before my last race I thought that it would be a great idea to consume a couple different types of energy gel along with a couple of bottles of water.
Let's just say that I quickly learned that that was not the best idea! After doing some research, I have decided to give Hammer Nutritional products a shot. Hammer uses no simple sugars in their products. So using them as a system really should pay off. I have been using Heed, Sustained Energy, Perpetuem, Hammer Gel, Endurolytes and Recoverite in different combos depending on the length and intensity of my workout. I was pretty impressed by the results this week. They have a load of information on their website including a section on "The pre-race Meal." I will let you know how that info works after the race.
My goal for this race is to break under 42 minutes. My stretch goal is to break thru the 40 minute mark. I know that it is possibleif a few things go my way. Along with needing to not bonk, I hope that they start us with the large group again as this will keep us from encountering mass slower traffic. That alone could help me hit the 42 minute lap mark! It is supposed to be pretty hot, and that may play a part. Wish me long and strong legs my friends!

Friday, March 2, 2007

New Job!

I love the end of a work week! Walking out of my store after five long days of making coffee is a great feeling! Today was a little different though! Last Sunday I started working part time at my bike shop, Westlake Cyclery. I realized that Starbucks alone was not getting me to a new bike! So the shop asked if I wanted to put in some time. I worked three times this week and it was pretty cool! I sold a bike my first day and started to learn some new things. Everyone there has been great in coaching me. I spend a lot of time listening as they sell and discuss different things. I feel pretty solid when it comes to mountain bikes, yet road bikes are another story. I just need to spend some time in the product manuals and I will figure it out!
The new job has put a small dent into my riding. Between making sure that my lovely gets my attention and work and exhuastion, I have only ridden every other day this week. I've had a few great rides though! Sunday I put in a very cold 30 road miles, Tuesday another 30 road miles in some pretty stiff wind and then a great mountain ride in Chesebro canyon yesterday.
It was hard to get out yesterday but once I hit the trailhead I was feeling pretty good. I pushed pretty hard for the first 20 miles. I started to hit the wall about an hour and 45 minutes in. I pushed thru and had a fun descent down dead cow on the way home! I ended up at 28.5 miles and about 2 hours and twenty minutes! It was a great ride with great weather! I love those days!
I am going down to Laguna Niguel to the Grand Opening of the newest Rock N Road Cyclery Specialized concept store. They are doing a morning ride with some of the team and all kinds of give-aways. Carmichael Training is also going to be there! I hope to learn a few training tips and possibly win a prize or two?! I will also be riding with my friend Mike Mahoney on Sunday morning. He is always good at blasting my legs to death! It will be fun!