Monday, September 24, 2007

8 Solo Hours at the 24 Hours of Hurkey Creek

I did it! I have yet to come down from the amazing high that this race set me off on! I hope to have some pictures to share soon! I cannot not even explain how scared I was the couple days leading up to this race that the weather was going to be terrible! We heard everything from non-stop rain to snow, to hail and thunderstorms! I am very happy to report that the weather was close to perfect for the eight hours that I was on the course! We had a few quick bouts of rain but nothing that soaked in to the bone! It was also rather cold but that kept my body temperature just about right!
I drove up to Idyllwild on Friday after doing a quick spin up Rock Store in the morning. It was supposed to be pouring rain up there by afternoon so I figured that I would not get to pre-ride the course. Other than some wind and scary looking clouds, the weather was great. I found my friends the Langins' and sat down to relax. They had arrived early and pre-rode the course. They shared all the good info with me and we kicked it for the rest of the afternoon.
Sleeping in an RV is THE WAY TO GO! With the threat of thunderstorms overnight, the Langins' offered a spot inside! Race day came quick and the morning hours seemed to fly by. Jr. was doing a rain dance and I was sure that it was working considering that the clouds came in like the mouth of a monster..all foamy and scary! It started to drizzle and I started to cry! J/K. The sky changed from sun to scary clouds on and off leading up to the start.
I went to check in, put my bike in the transition area and head to the start line. As I placed my bike on the rack I tried to turn on my heart rate monitor only to find that it would not work! This was devastating as I was heavily relying on this to help control my pace! I swallowed hard and proceeded to the start. The race starts with a Leman's style run about 1/4 of a mile long. This is not my best area as I am not much of the runner especially in cycling shoes! The energy was amazing as there were hundreds of people screaming and ringing cowbells! I was about mid pack when I hit my bike.
The first lap was excruciatingly slow! Most of the course was singletrack so there was no room to pass on the opening two mile climb! This worked OK for me as I was able to find a steady opening pace and just kind of stick with it. I wasn't out to win this race so it worked well. The course was freaking amazing! Some of the best trail that I have ever ridden! Perfect race course! First lap I felt great and as I came through the finish decided not to stop at all.
Second lap was completely different! Wide open with few people holding you up. This is where I made a slight mistake as I started to push it pretty hard not having many in front of me. This course just begs to be ridden fast and I had a good time throwing down a quicker lap! When I came through the pit area I hoped that someone would be around to help refuel me. I had layed out a couple bottles already and since there was no one around I swapped out and took off.
Lap three brought some pain! About 1 mile into the 2 mile climb my left hamstring snapped like a stretched rubber band! I jumped off my bike and quickly stretched. I sucked down a Hammer Gel and a huge portion of my Hammer Heed with Endurolytes powder. This lap saw me off the bike about 8-10 times to stretch out the cramps. As I came through the start/finish I realized I had made pretty good time even with the cramps. As I was approaching the end of the lap there was a medical helicopter landing on the course to airlift out an injures rider. I guess that they actually held up riders behind me which affected my friends team and final race outcome.
I hit my pits and grabbed my Camelback. I also ate a banana and drank 6 pills worth of Endurolytes. This really helped as the cramps never became a huge issue again. I was doing really well at the beginning of lap 4. I motored up the climb at a comfortable pace and hit the top ready to fly into the meadow. As I started the descent disaster struck in the form of a rear tire flat?! After my horrible flat experience at Big Bear two weeks prior I took my time and changed out the tube carefully airing up the new tube! Back on my bike I noticed about a mile later that my rear gears were not working properly. After five minutes of fumbling on the side of the trail I was up and running again.
Lap five was a steady grind that was cold and just OK. I had been going back and forth with a woman that was also doing the solo 8 hour for the first time. I would hang with her through the meadow and up the backside climb then drop her on the descents. She must have been rolling through her pits because I would often catch her at the beginning of the meadow every lap. She stated that she wasn't going to do a 6th lap and I tried to convince her to push on. She thought about it but I never saw her again. Mad props to her though as she battled out 5 tough laps!
Lap 6 was in the dark and I was ready for a night lap! I love riding during the night because the laps just seem shorter! The hills are great to because you can't see how long they look! This was definitely not my easiest lap as my legs were on the verge of cramping again and my arms were feeling it to! Once I got up the climb on out of the meadow I was so stoked! 2 tiny climbs left then the pump track section and the finish line! I rolled through at 7:58 and had a smile on my face like I had just won! A quick jaunt by the standings table revealed the results!
13th out of 31 riders! Way better than I ever expected! I was so happy!
The only thing I could have done better is had race support. I am confident that if I had not needed to stop and mix drinks and stuff between laps that I would have had time to do a 7th lap! That would have put me in the top ten close to 6th or 7th! This race definitely taught me so much and I look forward to the 12 Hours of Temecula in October!
I want to congratulate my friends Pedal Mullisha for 2nd place in the 5 person co-ed division. Also Mary Collier 1st place 8 hour solo women's who busted out an amazing 8 laps! Todd Carpenter 24 Hour Solo winner! And Kenny Gioeli the winner of the men's solo 8 hour race who did 9 laps in 8 hours! Freaking amazing!
My legs are finally getting better! Yesterday they felt as if someone had beat them with baseball bats for a day and a half! This was an amazing experience that has only deepened my desire to ride my bike for longer and longer and longer!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Could Use Some Sunshine

Where do I start! I am a ball of positivity at the moment...I woke up last Friday not feeling well at all. A cold has been running rampant through work and family. I started with heavy doses of vitamin c and plenty of water and zinc. As hard as it was I did not ride Friday or Saturday. I went to a 2008 Gary Fisher and Trek demo on Sunday and rode 8 or so new bikes. I felt better but tried not to over do it. I got up early Monday and rode in the cold. Legs were not feeling great but pushed out some miles anyhow. Tuesday slept in. This morning got up early and layered the clothes heavily as it was freezing out! Hit Rock Store and the legs were very tight. I am getting a little worried about my body performing Saturday. That is my body woes...I am also having bike woes!
I had a pair of Avid Juicy Seven's given to my last week by Kim and we installed them Saturday. I rode it after the demo on Sunday only to realize that the rear break had air in the line and therefor did not work. They have been trying to bleed them all week at the shop with no resolve! I am about to go crazy! This is all compounded by the fact that it may be thunder storming for most of my race on Saturday! Brutal! I could use all the prayers and good thoughts any and all you could send my way!
Bright spot in all this? I can't wait for the race...Rain, bike, health, I am going to ride my heart, body and soul out!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Double Down

Well I decided that since I took two rest days, that I would double down on my riding on Wed. I started with a freezing cold morning road ride up and over Mulholland to Encinal. There is a part of Encinal that you drop down about 1 mile at a speed of 45-50 mph! Once you get to the bottom I think my nipples fell off from the change in temperature! I climbed out of the canyon over to Decker and dropped back down into Westlake. My legs were really not firing like I hoped that they would be after two days off! I guess my race effort was a little much! That makes me happy though, thinking I gave all that I had! Recovery has been slow this week.
After work I was able to get out on the trail! My wife was working late so I jumped on the opportunity to ride late. I headed over to Los Robles Trail for some climb intensive laps. There is a 3.5 mile loop on this hill that has 500 ft. of elevation gain per lap. It reminds me a lot of some of the courses that I race with just a little shorter of a distance. Knowing that my climbing needs to improve, I fought with whether I could handle 3 or 4 laps in the hot sun. I also wanted to work on pacing myself with the 8 hour race coming up. The first lap was tough, I always want to go hard when I feel I have the energy, and then I blow-up needing a couple minutes of recovery. By the second lap I was doing a little better finding a pace, although it was a little slower than my brain wanted me to go. I finished the second lap about 30 seconds behind the first. Third lap was in the pain cave but I felt that I kept a steady pace for all of the climbing. That lap was about 30 seconds slower than number 2. I took two fun side laps on Rollercoaster for a little break after lap 3. This is a fun 1 mile descent that is like a rollercoaster if you hadn't put that together already. At that point I decided not to pedal back to the car but take one more lap through the loop! I had a couple rough spots on the climb but pushed through and rolled back to my car!
I had every intention of getting up at 5:20 this morning to catch the Amgen Road ride....yeah...didn't happen. Rough night of sleep and could not convince myself that riding would feel good! Took the dogs for a walk and climbed back in bed for an extra hour of sleep! I always feel a little bummed when I do that! I really wanted to ride...Could of, would of , should of!
Fast Friday tomorrow morning! Maybe a 15 minute Rockstore climb is in the air?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

State Champion!

I cannot even describe how good it felt to receive the State Champion's Jersey! Right before they gave them out, every conceivable doubt went through my head! Then when the jersey and plaque was handed to me, I felt a stream of emotion run through my body like a river in the middle of a flash flood! I had worked so hard all season to accomplish this goal...and though I did not always have the toughest competition in my class, I pushed on and trained harder.
As I wrote in earlier blogs, I really wanted to finish out the State series with a strong race. I was a little unsure how I would do in the altitude of Big Bear but I was determined to give it my all. I was also a little worried that I was going to be standing on my feet the two days prior to the race helping a friend represent his brand at the Action Sports Retailer show. I rode hard Friday morning before leaving for San Diego and had a Long Board Skate session in a 7 story parking garage that night! I climbed the staircase over and over to give my legs the workout and planned on using Saturday as a rest day.
Early Sunday morning I left San Diego and headed up to the mountains. I felt a little stiff when I arrived so I checked in and started spinning my pedals. Fortunately the weather was perfect! Low 70's and the sun was in and out of the clouds. The last race at Big Bear was in the upper 90's! That and the altitude hammered me. Race time came and all the usual suspects were there. I had Brett in my class which was nice and he was on a new bike ready to race! The 35 and over guys were staring each other down as the championship would be decided by this final race! These guys have always been a little faster than me and my goal was to beat them! As we started one guy took off like a semi-pro and the rest of us settled in for the 3 mile climb. We quickly dropped two of the guys and the other 5or6 of us hung pretty much together. 2 of the guys pulled away at about 2 miles and I did not see them again until we started descending again. It was nice to see them and gave me something to chase as we rode on rolling terrain.
After months of road riding I finally saw some payoff by the way I was really able to push a much higher pace on the flat and rolling terrain. I was actually catching and passing some guys that were always faster than me. It gave me an extra bit of confidence that pushed me harder and harder. I was doing really well sitting in 3rd with the group I started with. I continued to keep a steady pace only slowing for some of the grinding climbs. I unfortunately got caught up behind a bad descender on the really fun single-track descent in the middle of the course which allowed 4th and 5th to catch my wheel. As we started to climb out of the valley 4th passed me and took off as 5th latched on to my wheel and wouldn't let go. Nice of him to let me do all the work up front. At mile 13 I felt as if I was popping. My heart was beating out of my chest and I was feeling the effects of the altitude. For the first time in the race I dropped my chain to the granny ring and slowed my pace. My follower did not seem to mind and continued to take up the rear. As we reached the top of the climb I started to feel a little better and picked up the pace.
At this point we had hit Fall Line and it was now hold tight and don't crash. This downhill single-track is some of the most technical trail in all the series. It's just plain scary downhill! I did fine on it last race but you do not want to find yourself behind someone that does not descend well! At about 14.5 miles in and half way down Fall Line I blew my back tire! I was so pissed as I was having a great race and this was my first ever race flat! I crazily ripped off my back wheel and proceeded to replace the tube as rider after rider flew by. I frantically aired the new tube up once I put it in the tire only to see it pop out of the rim and blow like a fourth of July firework! My heart sank as I reached into my saddlebag for another tube. I made sure to make sure this one sat inside before airing it up. Once I got it on and aired up I placed the rim back onto my bike only to here the tube blow again! Well that was it..I was ten minutes into this mechanical and I had no more tubes. I tightened down my rim and decided to take off on a flat and finish the race. I had close to two miles to go and it was the rockier than I ever remember! I would very often have to pull off the trail to let other riders pass always hoping that it would not be Brett. I had to stand and pedal the whole way, running a couple of short steep hills. As I approached the finish line all the riders that had already finished were there cheering us on. As they heard my broke down pile come through you could hear everybody groaning with pain. I love my fellow competitors...this sport is just so great!
As I crossed the line I was really angry with my result even though I had no control over it! Much to my surprise Brett came in 1 minute later! I could not believe that I had so much time on him! I ended up finishing about 20 minutes back from the 35 and over guys which really burned since I was hanging with them!!! Any suggestions on altitude training? Is it possible to acclimate in any way?
Anyways, this was an amazing XC series and I am stoked I finished as State Champion! I think that I have 2 more XC races scheduled for the end of the year, but all concentration now goes to the 8 Hour race in two weeks and the 12 hour race in November! I will put up a picture of the jersey and plaque in the next couple of days!
Live Free_

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dear God..Can You Please Turn On the A/C?

Wow! I was so excited for the long weekend! I had a whole plan of a ton of riding. Yeah, not so much. We endured 5 days at 105+ heat! Two days we hit over 110! I have mad respect for those who competed at the 24 Hour World Championships this last weekend. Some friends had some great finishes. Josh Smith from Team Sho-Air pulled an amazing 2nd place in his age group! Bernice also from Sho-Air battled through what she says was her hardest race ever, to pull off 6th place in the womens ELITE field which was stacked with the worlds best! Tinker Juarez who won the mens elite put down a 1:02 minute lap on his 18th of 19 laps! That was the second fastest lap of the race! Unbelievable! Congrats to all those who competed! Mad respect!
I started my weekend by deciding I was ready for an epic. I had no one to ride with so I took off on my road bike at about 615am and it was around 75 degrees! I climbed Rock Store and headed down Encinal towards Zuma Beach. When I hit the coast the weather was so nice I decided to ride up and down Pacific Coast Highway for a bit. I stopped at Starbucks to refill my bottles and headed towards Yerba Buena. When I started up the canyon I was pleasantly surprised with how cool it was. I made it up about 6 miles before I hit the exposed sun and that's when I rode into the pain locker. The next 6 miles of climbing was done in about 112 degree heat. I was at about 52 miles when I got back into town and still had to climb another 8 miles to get home. With about 3 miles left I seriously considered calling someone for a ride! I couldn't take the shame of that thought and pushed my overheated self all the way home. I finished the day with 61 miles and 5500 feet of climbing in just under 4 hours.
Sunday I did a short recovery ride on the mountain bike early in the morning. We headed out to the beach and I surfed for a couple hours after that. Monday morning came very quickly as we went out Sunday night and I ended up with only about 3 hours of sleep. I hit the road again with Kim from the shop and we later met up with some of the guys from the team. We rode up and over Decker Canyon to the beach and then turned up Mulholland. We were 1/4 of the way up when these two guys passed Kim at a good pace. I had slowed to let her catch up and when she did she was all pissed that these guys had blown by her than slowed considerably. She stated that if you are going to pass someone you better make sure that you can keep your pace. She told me that I should chase them down and put the hurt on and if I did, she would follow. I took that as a friendly challenge and my legs were feeling pretty good so I hit it. I blew by them as if they were standing still and never looked back for the next 5 miles. About 2 miles from the top I decided to turn and look and when I did no one was behind me! I waited about three minutes until Kim came around the corner. As she got closer she said, "GO"! I quickly got up to speed and she was bent on keeping her pace to the top! She held it really nice until we reached the top and when all was said and done, Kim put about 2 minutes on them! I think I could have had 6 or so on them if I kept going! Feels great!
I took a rest day on tuesday which was much needed. Wed. I hit Chesebro on the mountain bike and did a race ride. 2 laps at race pace! I actually dropped over a minute off my 2nd lap! That stoked me because I have n=been working on my endurance and the ability to pick up the pace as the ride progresses. I followed up that ride with a climb up Dead Cow this morning and a fast pace down Chesebro and up Palo Comado.
I will do the Fast Friday road ride in the morning and then I am off to the ASR show in San Diego. Saturday will be a short spin in the morning to shake the legs and Sunday I have the Ca. State Finals in Big Bear! I hope to finish strong!