Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dang that was a lot

of driving. Shay and I just got back from the boy only road trip. Three days 1,000+ miles, five national parks (plus a state park), small motels and bad coffee.

Shay is now officially a junior ranger at 9 national parks (including monuments etc). Who would have guessed that eastern Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota would allow us to see so much in such a short period of time. We left Denver at 7:00 am Friday, went to Scotts Bluff NM and Fort Laramie NHS on Friday (plus driving the rest of the way to SD). Saturday was a long loop with tours and Wind Cave NP. A sweet cave to tour plus bison all around. A drive through Custer State Park (and hundreds of bison and donkey on the road) too bad no Junior Ranger program. Final stop of the the day was Mount Rushmore. It may be a little Disney Land like (gift shops, avenue of flags etc.) but the actual stone work is impressive and worth the effort to get there.

Sunday was long, up early to hike around and take a cave tour and Jewel Cave NM and then a 6 hour drive back to Denver.

The best part of the trip, three days chilling with Seamus being boys. I'd rather have better food and good coffee (hell this morning I didn't even have coffee since no place was open in Custer) but the quality time was worth the bad provisions.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

South Dakota

Racing season ends and the blog slows down. Tomorrow morning I head out on a road trip to Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota. Why you may ask, and the answer is National Parks. Scotts Bluff, Fort Laramie, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave and Mount Rushmore.

This road trip is boys only. Me and Seamus on the road, checking out some new terrain.

Maybe a report or two from the road, maybe not.

Friday, August 21, 2009

August 21

is my favorite day of the year. Thanks Seamus. No racing this weekend, haven't raced since Laramie and training has been off an on. The last race of the year is next Saturday, August 29. After that a few weeks off, train for Texas, a few weeks off, train for 2010.

Man racing seasons go fast. School's started. It is cold when riding in the morning, in another two weeks it will still be black when I leave the house to ride.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Vacation



Me and Shay at Delicate Arch.

The last week has been full of adventure, some of it fit to print, some of it that will not make the blog (ever). We took a family vacation, hitting the vacation Mecca’s of Moab and Salt Lake. Seamus has been on a quest to visit National Parks and Moab offers two of the best with Arches and Canyonlands. Throw in a visit to Timpanogos Cave near Salt Lake and you can bag three Junior Ranger badges, visit the mother in law and…well like I said not all adventures will be printed.
The Junior Ranger badge is a cool little thing the NPS has going to get kids (and parents) to learn about the parks they are visiting. Seamus has a few now and is really becoming a great outdoorsman. We did a sundown hike to Delicate Arch, hiked to a few locations in Canyonlands and did the Timpanogos Cave tour. For an eight year old kid I was impressed with Seamus, he’ll hike all day, never complain and want to lead the way the entire time. He is also paying attention. I taught him about Cairns at Delicate Arch last Friday night and the next day in Canyonlands he was leading us on hikes by following the Cairns.



Shay Chilling on the way up to Timpanogos Cave (1.5 miles 1500 vertical feet)

It is fun as a parent to kick back and watch your kid learn and grow, embrace nature and enjoy the scenery. Seamus loves taking the time to look at the animal tracks, the Indian dwellings, the trees and the natural landscape. It was a great way to spend the last full week of summer vacation.


Shay and Ade at Delicate Arch, sorry about the grafitee in the background, I guess there are some people who don't respect our National Parks, a real bummer.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Laramie Enduro, The Full Version

I never would have thought the jump from a 50 mile race to a 72 mile race would be so dramatically different. After completing the Firecracker 50 earlier this year I figured I’d be well prepared for the Laramie Enduro, which is variously listed as 111km, 70.5 miles or 72.5 miles. As I’ve learned with these longer mountain bike races the exact distance may not be what is advertised, but you can be assured a long day on the bike will follow.
The basics are I finished the LE in 7:24, slower than any time I expected but after I lost all power around mile 60 I’m pleased with finishing. The LE is a fun course, mixing some great single track, lots of climbing and fast forest service roads. There is plenty of time to go fast and unfortunately the tough climbing and single-track at the end gives you plenty of time to go slow. An early start at 7:00 and a lot of people rushing into the first section of single-track left me wondering if I had made a crazy choice signing up. The legs felt sore at the start and it seemed like I could see people for miles in front of me after finishing the first single-track section. After about 40 minutes and hitting a service road the legs started to come around and I was getting into the race. Feed zone 1 came and went quickly, as there were a lot of people I only filled one bottle and kept going. I sat in with a group from feed zone 1 until the next big section of single-track. I quickly went down twice and decided to let a little air out of the tires. I had started the day with 32 psi in both, but wasn’t aware of the roots on some of the single-track, nor had I accounted for the rain overnight. Dropping the pressure seemed to help as my only problem through the rest of the day on single-track was lack of power. At feed zone 2 I filled my three bottles, ate a banana and got back own it.
The trails between feed zones 2-4 all seemed to blend together for me. Service road climb, single-track, riding through cow pasture, repeat. I was feeling good and approached feed zone 4 at 54 miles in at 4:50. Filling my bottles and eating another banana I was off. Shortly after zone 4 we started climbing then a descent near a lake and all the sudden no power in my legs. I had been eating and drinking well (I actually took 2 nature breaks so hydration didn’t seem to be the issue) but the climb in the middle between feed zones 4-5 was upon me as I lost all power. I quickly shifted into the little ring and focused on pedaling and keeping food and fluids coming. This section seemed to go on forever, climbing, twisting, short downhill, climbing, walking, muddy grass area etc. By the time I hit feed zone 5 at 63 miles I had been 1:30 for 9 miles (a total race time of 6:20ish). With another 8ish miles to go and the climb up to Headquarters to go I started to ponder if I would really be out for 8 hours. The climb to Headquarters was hard, not because of the trail, but because of the lack of energy. Technical sections that would be easy 10 miles into a ride were nearly impossible at this point. Strangely though I was coming around a little. The shade and knowing I had to finish made me gear it up a little. At one point after cresting the climb I looked out and saw I-80 off in the horizon. This site was good and bad, good because I knew where I needed to get to, bad because it seemed far off. The downhill to the finish was tough, again because of being tired, but went quickly.
Upon reaching the road to the finish I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. I had no energy and as Ade said my expression didn’t even change when crossing the finish line and seeing her and Seamus. I guess when you have nothing left, even smiling is impossible.
A few other notes on the race, the Laramie Enduro staff of volunteers is great. Check-in took seconds. The folks at the aid stations were helpful, cheerful and encouraging. I tried to thank as many as I could at each stop because they were taking such good care of all the racers, the only problem was there were too many to thank. Rich Vincent and his crew put together a great race, one of the best if not the best I’ve seen in 12+ years of doing this.
Second, as many of you know I’ve been raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation this year to support Eldon “Fatty” Nelson. I wore my Fatty clothing in the race yesterday and talked with more racers who new Fatty, new the story, are impacted by Fatty and Susan’s lives then I could imagine. The common themes I picked up about Fatty are: if people know him they confirmed what I’ve read and picked up on, he is a great guy; those of us who don’t know him personally feel a bound because of how Fatty has shared. Fatty is going through something none of us would want in our own lives, Fatty is going through his families fight with cancer in a very public way but helping us all understand the importance of fighting cancer. Fatty has a band of friends out there on bikes every day, helping to fight cancer and supporting him and his family. It was cool to see and hear some of the ways Fatty has touched and improved so many lives.
As for the LE, again I learned a lot about endurance racing. I need to train longer to race longer. I need to push harder at the end of long training rides to be ready for late in the race. Nutrition was good, though a little more “real” food may help. Last year I set a goal to finish the Front Range 50, the Firecracker 50 and the Laramie Enduro this year. I’ve now completed all three and have had a blast in the longer races. I see plenty of room for improvement and can promise I’ll be back next year, only faster.

Laramie Enduro

Laramie Enduro is in the books. A hard 70 miles of racing and the lights going out around mile 60 made for a tough day, but crossing the line felt good.

A full write-up of the day soon. Right now riding in the car on I-25 heading home.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rock Climbing

Riding a bike is pure fun, but as Seamus gets old am and frequently presented with opportunities to try new activities, have fun in different ways. Recently we have been spending a lot of time at a rock climbing wall. Nothing big, but skills and strength are required. The way the wall is built we can climb up to the top and then using the hand and foot holds try to circle the entire wall. This seemingly easy activity can be (and frequently is) very difficult. A simple missed hand or foot placement and all chances for making it around the wall are done.
The rock climbing is fun, physically demanding and in many ways mentally challenging. Participating in a sport you are not use to makes the mind work in new ways. Sounds like it is time to go right now, maybe I’ll try to take a few pictures tonight.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Service

This week has been very successful in terms of donations for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The Jeans Week at work has brought in nearly $700 and I am very close to crossing the $1,000 threshold. This is good for Fat Cyclist as well as cancer survivors on a grand level. If you haven’t done so yet, please consider a small donation, even five dollars helps. Go to THIS SITE to make a donation. I’ll match 20% of any donation through the 19th up to $500 in total donations to help the LAF.

This week I bought a new hat, not really a big deal right. But I bought a hat from the guys at Twin Six (http://www.twinsix.com/). Not only do these guys make fashionable and comfortable gear, they donate a ton of money to LAF on Fatty’s behalf (www.fatcyclist.com). I’ve now got socks, shorts, jersey, arm warmers (all Fatty) and hat from the Twin Six guys. It is all the top quality and stylish looks we want. But for me the real issue is these guys really care. I’d sacrifice a little quality (though I don’t need to) in order to support their business. It is great to find a company that cares for its customers and society.
Time to chill, two hours in the morning before work.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jeans Week and a Race Report

Note: As many of you know this year I am riding with team Fat Cyclist at the Austin LiveStrong ride to help raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The week of July 13-17 my work is letting staff wear jeans to work for a $5.00 per day donation to the LAF on my behalf. Now there is no way I can let your work let you wear jeans, but in recognition of my companies efforts please consider donating, any amount helps. Go HERE AND DONATE ,thanks.

Race number 3 in the Winter Park series was yesterday and the course had a new twist on what is an old classic. Starting in the ski area and riding some of the funniest singletrack in the area you end in Frasier, this year the crew at WP added about 5 miles to the old course, most of those extra miles were uphill. The WP series is fitting in to my schedule this year in an odd way; I’m not really there to race. I’m using the series as my only form of high-end/interval work this year and it shows. When I started the shift to longer races (50+ miles) I knew the first year would require more time working on endurance to ensure I could finish the races and I wouldn’t be able to worry about intervals, shorter races or even results. Thus far the new training is paying off as I’ve finished both 50’s I’ve entered and am now prepping for the Laramie Enduro (about 70) in three weeks.
The race at WP slotted in well for training, a week after the Firecracker and not on a weekend with a long training ride scheduled. I got to WP early and did a long ride to warm up, more than an hour prior to the start. Once the race started I was going pretty good and felt like I was climbing well. I slotted into the middle of the pack for about 45 minutes, then on a downhill I hit a root and went down. Head first with a nice roll on my right side. I got back up and kept racing, but lost all power and ability to focus. I kept on racing and finished the ride, tired, thirsty and with a pounding headache. I assumed the headache was a result of lack of hydration but after taking some electrolyte pills, water, Gatorade and eating lunch the head still hurt. This morning I checked my head (ok Ade did) and there is a pretty good bump on the right side. I’m too lazy to go to the doctor and not overly worried but I don’t think going down hard did me any good for racing.
I still got in a good ride/effort (just about 3.5 hours on the day) and am not overly sore from the crash. This week will be big hours for prepping for Laramie. No more races until Laramie, but lots of time and maybe, just maybe a few intervals.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Crash Course

I raced today. Full race report later. I crashed. I think I have a concusion.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Firecracker 50 Recap

The Firecracker 50 took place last Saturday, fortunately this time I finished. I was planning on a time of 5-6 hours, knowing that a steady pace would be key to finishing and the time not nearly as important to me as going the distance. At 50 miles and with 10,800 vertical feet of climbing (all above 9,500 feet and much above 11,000) the Firecracker 50 is a hard day of riding. I managed to finish in 5:34, a good time but not great.

The race is always a blast, riding down Main Street in Breckenridge with literally thousands of people cheering and watching, as the race starts the 4th of July parade. Given the fact most races have a few dozen spectators, all of whom know racers it is a great feeling to have people who have never seen a race before in their lives cheering you on. I tried to ride a steady and somewhat conservative first lap (25 miles) knowing that the hard part of the race would be the second lap. I tried to draft on the open sections and follow others lines on the technical sections of the course to save energy and pick good lines. The flume trail coming down from Little French was a blast, fast singletrack and the ability to just ride. Coming to the end of the first lap I crashed on the last downhill, misjudging the gap between two trees. It wasn’t a bad crash, but enough to delay me a few minutes. I finished the first lap in 2:34, feeling good and knowing I had fueled well the entire first lap.

Lap 2 was tough, from the top of the climb up to the Iowa Mill I felt like I was maintaining a similar pace, but when I started up Little French for the second time my speed went from slow to really slow. At this point in the race 3:30-4:00 into the race my mind started playing tricks on me and I think the mental aspect slowed me as much if not more than being physically tired. I had to keep refocusing my attention on the positive, stop thinking about how hard the race was, how bad I felt, how a nap on the side of the trail sounded good. After the downhill leading to the third feed zone I knew I’d be able to finish and rode steady and probably faster again up to Sallie Barber Mine. From there it was all downhill and my mind switched from dwelling on the negative to knowing I’d finish.

During the race I followed my nutrition plan perfectly, eating gels, energy bars and Clif Blocks (a new favorite) through the race. I’m not sure of the total food I took in but somewhere in the range of 8-10 gels, 2 bars and 3 Clif Blocks. In addition to the food I went through 10-12 bottles of water or Gatorade (probably a 50/50 split) and 8 Endurolyte pills to keep the electrolytes up in the race. I did start to feel like eating something “real” would be nice about 4:30 into the race so will have to figure something out for a more substantial bite for Laramie.

Now that I know I can physically handle a 5-6 hour race as hard as the Firecracker 50 I hope the mental game gets easier. One of the reasons I race is the challenges I face getting ready for races and in races. Breaking the barrier on the Firecracker 50 was a huge win for me as there are many points where the mind tries to overcome the body and tell you to stop, get off the bike and go home. Saturday I pushed through those thoughts and am more ready than ever to push forward with racing and embrace the challenges and learn from the challenges.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Chilling

At the rockies game. Very unlike me. Maybe a new sport. Laramie enduro training start tomorrow.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Firecracker 50

Raced the Firecracker 50 up in Breckenridge today. 50 miles 10,800 vertical feet of climbing. A long day on the bike but finished which was the main goal for the day 5:31 on the bike.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's all about choices

and my choices have been to stay away from the blog. I've been putting in big miles getting ready for the Firecracker 50, lots of work, some unexpected travel for work and home life.

I'm also trying to focus on resting as with all the miles I've been putting in rest is much needed. Winter Park last weekend went good, rode the climb twice (once to warm up/train and once to race). It felt good to get in some high end work. Single track was open for the way down (unusual for this early up at WP) and I was having a great time riding it until I crashed. Nothing bad but hitting the deck is never fun. Showing up at the base area as the only guy bleeding in a race that was essentially a road climb is tough to explain.

Good rest this week, long ride today. Chill on the couch the rest of the day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Catch up

A week of rest. I’ve heard a lot of coaches and local racers say at this level (meaning a local amateur) it is impossible to be overtrained, just under rested. Well this week I’m working on getting rested. After a big block of training last week the body needs some R&R; Monday off but a massage, Tuesday easy with yoga, Wednesday easy and a NAP, Thursday seems like another good rest day and Friday we’ll see. Not riding hard is tough, spinning along at a slow pace, short rides and napping don't fit my normal schedule but I've been riding a lot more miles and time this year and can tell the body needs to recover, so I'll take it easy and wait until the body is ready to go hard again.

Saturday brings another race, but I’m riding it for training only, the Winter Park Hill Climb is 40ish minutes of climbing. I plan to get there early ride the climb once at a good tempo pace and then push it again in the race. The day should total 20 miles with about 5,000 feet of climbing and should make for good training.

I just picked up the mountain bike after getting it worked on, after some hard rides recently she needed a little TLC. I’ll ride her Friday to make sure everything is dialed for racing (nothing like waiting until the last minute) but hey that’s when I’ll have a chance.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Relaxing

After the road trip to Durango a little relaxation has been in order. Early morning rides, followed by work, home and early to bed. Vacation can be tough. This weekend I'm planning a 6 hour ride to keep the prep going for the Firecracker 50 and Laramie Enduro.

Sunday morning will start early with the goal to be home by noon...that means up by 4:30.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Durango

A weekend away from town was a great way to recharge. Time was spent doing things that would not occur on a normal weekend and I still managed to get in some sweet riding. We headed out on Thursday morning for a family vacation in Durango. The weekend offered some time to relax, though honestly not much as we were busy, time to enjoy family and the beauty of Colorado and the amazing trail of Horse Gulch just minutes from Durango let me ride.
Mesa Verde is a place I remember fondly from childhood and when my parents mentioned they were heading to Mesa Verde we decided to go too. Fate prevented us from going with my parents as Ade starts school and couldn’t go the week they booked, but we met up with Grandma L and a friend of hers and through a twist of fate Uncle Eric, Aunt Sue and Cousin Z wound up in Durango the same weekend. Mesa Verde was as incredible as I remembered and Seamus loved the place. Checking out the ruins, climbing ladders, meeting Rangers made for a great day. To be honest you could spend a lot more time there then we did, but it was well worth the trip just to see the ruins. Also, if you go take the time to talk to the Rangers, every one we talked with was excited to share their knowledge, nice and made the trip even better. I’m not sure if Rangers at all National Parks are like this, but damn they were good in Mesa Verde.
Saturday turned into a day for chilling in Durango and just relaxing. The town is full of cell phone hippies who clearly go to college, smoke weed, hula hoop and hang out. A great place to do it, but not exactly fun.
Sunday was supposed to be the thrill seeker day, a rafting trip. The trip was fun and though the river was flowing pretty slow there were still some big sections of rapids and for a bunch of beginners (Ade being the only one in our group to have gone before) it was a good first trip. Seamus spent every second in the rapids laughing and hoping people would get drenched (which we did). Not sure if he had more fun rafting or at Mesa Verde but both were highlights it seemed.
Now many of you may know Durango hosted the first Mountain Bike World Championships and the trails are still worthy. I got in rides on three days and had a blast. Getting on new trails forced me to try new things and not having the “mental block” of normal trails caused me to clear stuff I may never have tried on a trail I’d ridden many times. Uncle Eric and Aunt Sue showed why they use to be Pros, as even with full time work, new parenthood and little (if any) riding they were strong. For the first time ever I was able to climb with Eric, until we hit really technical sections, where his ability and skills more than made up for lack of fitness. On the downhill’s it is hard to keep up with a guy who has race the World Cup so I didn’t see much of him but still had fun.
Now it is time to get back to work.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Vacation

A quick family vacation starts tomorrow, going down to Durango for a few days to show Seamus a new part of the state. I can’t wait, I remember going to Mesa Verde around his age and loving it, I just hope he finds it as cool as I did. The ruins in the cliff dwellings are impressive.
After a few very busy weeks, including a week spent in Minnesota and a quick day trip to Chicago travel doesn’t seem fun, but Durango will be different, the pace set by us, car travel and no places to be at any time. I’m taking the mountain bike and will get in some rides on the trails down there. I haven’t been to Durango in nine years so it will be like riding in a new place. The best part of the trip is no work. Way too much stress there recently (if you know me well enough to know the purpose of the Chicago trip yesterday you’d understand the stress) so getting away from Denver will be nice.
My new sign-off is going to be…Please Donate to LAF , Lance is doing some serious work and chances are you or someone very close to you is going to benefit from his foundations work (up to 33% of Americans get one form of cancer or another). I’m trying to raise $2,500 and have $2,200 to go, please donate what you can.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Big Weekend

I decided that if I'm going to pay the entry fee for the Firecracker 50 yet again that I'd damn well better finish it this year. That means big mile training to get ready for the race. I'm hoping that by getting in three rides of 6 hours per ride for the endurance training should help. In addition I'm focusing a lot of time and attention during other training on tempo work, since this is the fastest zone that is actually possible to ride in for hours on end.

Saturday was a two hour ride with seven tempo efforts of seven minutes each. A good effort, but not too much with a long ride scheduled for Sunday. Sunday started early, with an effort to replicate pre-race eating and getting out of the house by 7:00 to be home at a reasonable hour. I headed out on the mountain bike and spent a lot of the early ride on the road, due to rain the night before. Finally about 3 hours in I hit the dirt on a downhill from Mt. Falcon. From that point on for the next 90 minutes it was a lot of dirt, mixed with road time from trail to trail. At about 4:30 into the ride it became road time again in order to get home. On a totally unplanned route I managed to ride for 5:58 when I arrived at my door. Perfect timing for the ride, though more dirt would have been nice.

Usually after a ride of that time I’m dead, but yesterday I felt pretty solid, even managing a little yard work after resting for an hour or so. This morning I headed out for a ride and still felt surprisingly fresh so I added in a 30 minute tempo effort to the ride and got in 2:00 total. A three day total of 10:00 hours and a lot of hard tempo work and climbing should do the body good. This week I’ll focus less on total time and more on tempo work, and I think the long time/high tempo alternate weeks will be the plan through the Firecracker 50 and right on to the Laramie Enduro. I’m looking forward to a good night sleep tonight, a wake-up call at 4:00 to catch a flight at 6:00 in the morning then a late night home before riding again Wednesday.

After this trip I should be able to hang out at home until after Laramie and focus on training and life. I just need to not get sick tomorrow and I’ll be ready to get the final preparation for racing started.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Here I am

I’ve been missing for two weeks, but at some points that is how it goes. After the Front Range 50 I took off for the week to Minnesota for work. Very little down time, minimal working out and strangely no time to even surf the internet much less write any. After playing catch-up this week with work and life I’ll finally carve out a few minutes to blog, not much time though as life stays busy.
Minnesota was actually really good from a work perspective, a weeklong training where I actually learned a lot and some time away from riding, needed after the long race and not even having time to worry about not training. Taking time off from riding is frequently tough at home because I have to find things to replace my normal riding time. When I was gone, things were so busy and I was not in my normal flow that not riding didn’t even hit me.
I did register for the Firecracker 50, my next big race of the year. We’ll see how it goes as I’ve tried it twice with no finishes. This year, after already completing a 50 miler and getting ready for Laramie which is less than a month after the Firecracker I plan to do better. Tomorrow is scheduled for 6 hours to get the endurance riding in for both the Firecracker and Laramie. Tuesday is a quick trip to Chicago (in and out the same day) before heading out on a family vacation on Thursday. Sooner or later I’ll get a chance to relax.
A final note, I’m working to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation this year. The LAF does a tremendous amount for cancer survivors and their families. Unfortunately for me this has taken on a far more personal concern recently as a very close relative is just beginning to fight his battle with cancer. I’d ask anyone who reads this blog to take a few moments to donate, any amount helps far more then you could imagine. Please visit MY PAGE to make a donation.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Front Range 50

The first race of the year is now in the books and given that yesterday was a big goal for me for the season it was tough to have the Front Range 50 as my first race. Had I been able to sneak in a race, either on the road or mountain bike prior it would have been nice. I clearly have no speed right now and the competitive juices have been laying low for a long time, but getting out and racing felt good.
Late last year I made a decision to focus on endurance races more so then cross country. Races in the 50+ range (and hopefully at some point a good 100 miler) are where I want to really race. Part of this is from years of racing and knowing I lack the fast twitch muscles that are needed in shorter races. I just don’t tend to have the top end speed needed, but I’ve always had solid endurance, though prior to yesterday I’d never finished an endurance race (two previous attempts). Over the winter I focused on time on the bike, nutrition while riding and getting comfortable with long days riding. Early on I put an X on the Front Range 50, it is a race close to home, early in the season and as far as the local endurance races go an “easy course” since there are no long climbs. I figured it would be a perfect race to build confidence in the longer distances, practice nutrition in a race and learn.
With five laps of a 10 mile course feeding was easy, I set up a cooler with the masses of others and planned to stop for a brief period each lap to take on water or energy drink and if needed extra food. In the end I went through three bottles of water, three bottles of Gatorade, nine gels and four Hammer Endurolytes in the race. Looking back I need to increase the Endurolytes but overall my nutrition plan seemed to work. My goal for the race was to ride steady and complete all five laps in equal time splits. Based on previous results on the course in cross country races I wanted to finish in 4:00 hours, equating to 48 minute laps or so. I knew steady would be the key to finishing and that was the main concern.
The first lap of the race was crazy, with 200 or so racers, lots of single-track and various skill levels the course was tough. I settled into a nice pace, tried to drink every 10 minutes or so and made sure to eat 1 gel in the first lap. Coming through I finished my first bottle of water, stopped to pick up another and saw I had ridden a 44 minute lap. This was faster than planned and given the traffic pretty good, also I didn’t feel I had over-extended myself. On lap 2 I stayed with a group most of the time, focusing again on eating and drinking and keeping the effort steady and 5-10 beats below my threshold level. Lap 2 was completed in 42 minutes with about a minute spent pitting for more drink. At this point I was well ahead of the pace I had planned but still feeling good. I started to think a time of 3:45 was realistic, this was kind of my best case scenario time and now I was thinking it would happen. Lap 3 was again steady; I was making good time on the single-track, riding the climbs well and not getting dropped too bad on the downhills. At the pit on the third lap my race time was 2:11 for the first 30 miles. Last year in the 30 mile cross country race on the same course my time was 2:15, yet this year I wasn’t feeling near as bad. I took a longer break after three laps, dipped into the Endurolytes for the first time (I should have been steadier with eating them and taken a few earlier) and switched glasses. My first pair were so sweat covered I couldn’t see anymore so I was glad I had put an extra pair with my food.
Lap 4 is where the mental game began; I was moving into new ground on distance in a race and needed to remain steady. The climbs were tougher at this point, moving down a gear or two from the first three laps. I was still riding well on the single-track and felt I had maintained a consistent pace for the race thus far. At the end of four laps I grabbed a last bottle and glanced at my heart-rate monitor 2:58. Four laps down and all in the 42-45 minute range, well above my targeted pace. Lap five started with a cruel reality, the cross country race for the pros and experts had just started and I was soon being passed by some of the fastest racers in the world (JHK, Georgia Gould and others) starting their race of 30 miles while I was slogging along in the 40+ mile range of mine. While thoughts of glory came to mind, like trying to stick with my peers in the expert category as they passed I knew that would kill me so I kept riding and let people pass, though some of those who passed me on the single-track were soon passed back on the one major climb up Mt. Carbon. Even with 45 miles in me I was riding strong and was able to repass a few racers from the Expert group. Coming down from the second climb I knew that 3:45 was possible if I didn’t let up. On the last steep climb I could feel my energy leaving and I struggled over the top, shifting to the big ring and pedaling all the way down the descent. A mile or two of rollers and the clock was nearing the 3:45 time, as I jumped out of the last corner I saw my clock at 3:44, sprinting as hard as I could to the finish line I crossed at 3:45:26.
I learned a lot in the race, especially about pacing and eating. I still have a lot to learn in endurance racing but it was fun, a far different challenge from cross country. Right now I’ll take a few days off then start to train and focus for the other races I have planned later this year.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Front Range 50

Sitting in the car relaxing after the race. Finished in 3:45, good day of racing with consistent lap times. Full race report later.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Racing Starts in...

Just over 13 hours until the season kicks off for me. Fifty miles of pain on the mountain bike at Bear Creek. The course is riding fast right now, but very tough with lots of short steep climbs and flats that let you power.

I went out today to pre-ride again. I'm home now working on resting and drinking. Hopefully I can finally finish one of these long races.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Getting Ready

The first race of the year for me is a week away, the Front Range 50. Today I went out to the course and ripped a couple of laps to get the feel for the course. Given this is one of the few races all year that is really close to Denver (about 20 minutes from my house) it is tough. There are no big climbs, no super technical downhills, no endless miles of twisty singletrack, just a mixture of it all on a course with no shade.

Today is was cool, cloudy and the lack of trees was not a factor; however, I've raced here in the past in 90 degree weather and been left helpless because of the heat. For me today was about getting use to the few technical sections, practicing what kind of pace is reasonable on the course (while estimating 5 laps versus the 2 I did today) and just trying to feel comfortable on the course.

The first lap I took easy and was just making sure I was paying attention. The second lap I put in a few good efforts and tried to rip through with a good lap time. I didn't sustain a race pace for the entire lap, but at times went hard and tried to ride the technical stuff at speed. I felt good, though the rear suspension was a little stiff and am looking forward to next week.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Another Double Header

Another double post, though this one is much shorter than the one last week. Got on a team for 2009, really late and kind of unexpected, but a few things fell into place in the last few days so I’m set. My big focus for 2009 is endurance racing (front range 50 and Laramie for sure maybe 1-2 more) so I didn’t really know what else I would do. Winter Park seems to fit in with my schedule (less the Laramie weekend) and the racing is always good so when the chance to race for Grand Sports came along last week I took it. I’ll get to ride with two guys from last year (Jason and Dan) and a few others I’ll soon meet. It’s always nice to have a few teammates out there so I’m looking forward to the team.
Second, as many people know, I’m trying to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation this year. It started out to help support another cyclist/blogger Fatty and have a fun event in Austin to hit up. Recently it has turned a bit personal. Let me just say that the LAF has a tremendous amount of information and resources available to family and survivors of cancer. I hope the only reason you need to visit the site is to donate money, but if not be glad that Lance Armstrong has put so much effort into cancer advocacy. I’m sure over the next few months especially this will be a favorite site of mine. The person I know very well who has been impacted is lucky to have the family and finances to fight this battle and find resources, but even so efforts like LAF need support. Please consider donating, even a little, in my name for the Austin ride or on your own accord. You may appreciate it down the road.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two Posts in One

It is now late April and I haven’t raced my bike yet this year. For me this is a pretty slow start to the season as I usually do a few road races in March and April to prep for the season. In many years there is also a mountain bike race or two to be had by this point (actually I guess the races have been there just not me). Right now it is looking like the first race will be the Front Range 50 on May 9th. I had hoped to sneak in another mountain bike race prior; just to get the legs going but the drive to Nathrop next Saturday is seeming less and less appealing so I’ll probably just spend time training.
The Front Range 50 will be the first of the ultra races I’m planning to do this year, though I think it will be on the short side with a fairly untechnical track and no real huge climbs it will be fast, hopefully 4 hours or less. I do think it will be a good race to get my feet wet for the longer distances and see if the practice I’ve been doing with on the bike fueling pays off in a race.

On a totally separate note, Earth Day was earlier this week, April 22. Keeping in mind the original focus of this blog, environmental awareness, and a big step was undertaken at my work. For years (at least the 11 I’ve worked there) the company has bought and supplied paper plates, bowls and cups in addition to plastic silverware for all employees. There have always been a few people who bring in their own reusable products, but mostly people have relied on company provided one use products. We recently started a stewardship committee in the office to try and improve our corporate image, impact etc. Well our first big effort was launched on Earth Day. We got rid of all paper and plastic kitchen products and bought every employee in the Denver office their own reusable plates, bowls, silverware and mugs. While there has been some grumbling about the change I was very surprised with the amount of positive feedback. Thinking back on all the energy used to create the products used in our kitchen only one time then put in the trash is scary. This change will clearly limit our trash output and long-term reduce our environmental impact. I think it is a pretty good step to being a business that compares about more than the bottom line and am glad I was able to be very involved in getting the change made.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Strong, Light, Cheap. Pick Two

Bikes and the components associated with them can create a love hate relationship. When your gear is running good it is a love relationship, though I must say a love you don’t talk about a lot. It is a long term relationship, where you know what to expect, know the person (or part) is going to be there. You know exactly what needs to be done to get the relationship to work. Most of the time I don’t really think about the components on my bikes, if they are working there isn’t much thought process involved. Yea, I know to shift into the big ring on my road bike I need to ease up just that little bit on the pedaling. I know on the mountain bike one side of my drive train side pedal feels better than the other, so no matter what I’ll unclip and flip the pedal if I need to. But really most of the time I don’t think about my parts.
I’m long past buying inexpensive parts because they are inexpensive. At this point in my life and cycling career, I’ll spend the extra money upfront and get parts I expect will perform well in all conditions for a long period of time. I ride around 7,000 miles a year, split about 65%, 30% and 5% between road, mountain and cross bikes. I expect the mountain bike to last about 2-3 years, the road bike 3-5 and the cross bike should survive a nuclear holocaust. Sure I need to spend money over time on upkeep so the bikes will last but overall I expect the key components to last and handle riding in all weather conditions, time spent on the trainer and race efforts. So it was with great frustration today I found out my crank on the road bike had seen its last day.
I bought the bike early last April, just over a year of riding, probably 6,000 miles on the bike. I’ve had two “professional” tune-ups on it in that time, plus my normal maintenance (cables, washing, adjusting gears etc). Yet today on my ride I noticed the crank felt strange. I washed the bike and noticed the left crank arm wasn’t tight. I took it off to check, no apparent misuse, no metal shavings, no damage to the spindles. I cleaned everything and tried to tighten back on, still a looseness that wouldn’t go away. I took it to the shop and found out that the metal piece inside the carbon crank arm was not holding. The metal piece that houses the spindles have somehow come unglued (I assume) from the carbon arm, causing the looseness. Upon further investigation the same issue was occurring with the pedal spindles too.
I know I ride hard and I tend to believe that light and cutting edge isn’t always the best choice. Why do I have carbon cranks? Well they came with the bike. I can assure you stronger riders, putting in more miles than I have ridden these cranks, but still I’ve had the problem. If the warranty doesn’t come through I can guarantee that the new crank will not be a composite. One material all the way through designed to last, not be light. As Keith Bontrager has said “strong, light, cheap. Pick two.” Is clearly a factual statement. I’d venture to say FSA would say strong and light are how their components are designed. Today I’d say light. Carbon? Not sure why we came up with that for bikes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Passion

I’ve recently gained a new training partner for my cycling, for me this is a big deal. Most of the time I train alone. I like riding alone, no time schedules, no routes picked by others, no meandering conversations. Sure there are times riding with someone is good, it is nice to chat on the bike some, have someone force you to push the pace etc. but I’m not the kind of person who wants somebody to ride with daily.
All that has changed in the past few days really, I’ve found someone who is gaining the same passion I have for riding. Somebody who has the same meaningless thoughts I do and is fun to ride with any time, Seamus is taking to riding like a mad man. I’ve never forced him to ride, never forced him to ride without training wheels or anything like that. I’ve always wanted him to like riding because he enjoys it, not because I do. Recently we got him off training wheels and now there is no stopping him. Friday night a family ride, a little over a mile. Saturday a ride with me and him, probably two miles. Sunday in the pouring rain he rode for 30 minutes, crashed a few times and was smiling every second. Today he rode four miles with Ade, then he and I rode another 2-3 miles. He wants to ride across the street to friends, is planning tomorrow’s ride already and wants to do a big ride both days this weekend.
The joys of riding like a kid are what keep me going through days at work many times, now I have a kid to share the fun of riding with.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pedestrian Ride

Some rides are designed to increase endurance, some days speed, and some day’s technical skills as a racer these are some of the components critical to making racing fun. But some days riding takes a more pedestrian approach to its purpose.
Yesterday, before work I had put in a solid workout on the bike 30 minute tempo effort and 1:15 total on the bike (remember this is all prior to 7:00am). As I left work I pondered another tempo effort on the way home, maybe 15-20 minutes for that little extra work. After making it out of downtown I decided to skip the harder work and just spin home. The pack was full, a computer, notebook, some files for work, not to mention my headlamp and clothes from a day in the office. The pack was pushing maximum capacity at this point, I’d guess close to 15 pounds and the idea of trying to ride the bike fast with this extra weight didn’t sound fun.
About half way home I decided to stop and get some wine (cause I like it) and some cupcakes (cause Ade and Shay like them). The good thing for me is there is a cupcake shop and wine shop about three doors from each other on my way home, with about 3 miles of riding still to go. With the pack full and cupcakes fragile it became a no-hand/one-handed ride home for the last few miles (I stuffed the wine in the pack somehow) and my pace slowed. Even when I take it easy I usually ride at what most people consider a fast pace. Yet on my way home yesterday with all the stuff in my pack, cupcakes and a mental desire to relax after a long week of travel I took a more pedestrian pace. Those last three miles were fun. I noticed things that normally I pass by without a glance. I was passed by other riders, looking slightly silly with a full kit on and all my extra luggage but I didn’t mind. The ride was another simple reminder of why riding is so enjoyable for me.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A humdrum Sunday afternoon

I was thinking about writing some sort of long post today, especially since my March write-up basically sucked. The problem is there really weren’t any great rides to talk about, the weather has been too bad for that, I worked too much this week so that kept the fun level pretty low and the only thing I really should be doing right now is packing for a trip to Springfield, MA.
Instead though I’m hacking out a blog entry, watching the Tour of Flanders and pondering should I really do yoga today even though I don’t really feel like it. I may have to get on the floor and start yoga though, since I already entered it into my training log for the day. Taking the time to go and delete it may be a bigger annoyance to me right now then actually doing yoga.
I guess it is just one of those days, after snow and cold, a long ride this week of only 2 hours and knowing I have to leave the house by 6:00 tomorrow to fly out, it all kind of makes you not motivated.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March

March ended with a whimper, two days off the bike. The days weren’t really planned off, just kind of happened because of other things. The weather and travel over the next two weeks isn’t really going to help my cycling fitness out much either, so these days off probably don’t come at the best time. I’m already planning on going to bed early tonight so I can ride an hour on the rollers in the morning. I may even try a mini stage race type training, Wednesday through Sunday with good intensity but low time/miles. Next week starts off with a trip to the East coast, home for the end of the week and weekend, then another East coast trip the middle of the week of April 13.
Two trips in 10 days to with full days of travel due to connections is always rough, but I’ll manage and with some forethought should be able to ride enough not to lose fitness, the problem is I need to be gaining fitness now, getting in a few 6 hour rides.
March was another solid month of training though, 630 miles (bring the total for the year to 1876) and a few big rides including a 4 hour mountain bike ride. My first race is going to be the Front Range 50, so the long rides and time in the dirt are going to be key to doing well in that race. I also started the first intervals of the year, and while painful, they do seem to be paying off some. Now if the weather in Colorado would stop trying to trick us into thinking it is the heart of winter I’d be happy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Riding Alone

Most of my riding is done alone, frequently at what many perceive to be strange hours. This riding alone and at strange times allows me to fit in my riding and still be involved in a normal life: wife, son, job etc. For the past few years, until very recently, that riding time has been accompanied by music, the IPod, a cyclist’s best friend. Somehow though, I’ve managed to lose my IPod.
For those who know me this isn’t a huge surprise. There is rarely a day that passes where I haven’t lost something. Whether it be a leg warmer, glove, lunch bag or shirt I want to wear I am always frantically searching for a lost item. My desk at work has such a reputation that recently there was a bet related to how long I could keep it organized. I must add I won the bet (four or five weeks), but mostly because the money on the line was going to LAF. Usually things turn up at some point in the future, though not when I am looking for a specific item. Take today for example, an undershirt (for cycling) I hadn’t found in 2-3 months appeared again, how I’m not sure but I do have it. The good news for me is that as much as I ride it is easy to justify multiple articles of clothing. Of course to justify this I use the cover of not wanting to wear smelly clothes, though most of the time I wear arm warmers, tights, leg warmers multiple times before putting in the wash. Why? Well it is simply because I can’t find any other sets to wear.
But an IPod is different. It is relatively expensive, doesn’t get dirty and isn’t easy to justify having multiples on hand “just in case”. Plus the music being replicated wouldn’t make sense. And now the real horror, much of the music I’ve lost is not easily duplicated. I copy music from others at any chance. I hear a song and download from somebody else. To replace all my lost music would take months and thousands of miles of travel.
I’ve literally been a cyclist for decades. I started riding at 8, racing at 12. That’s 30 years of riding, three years, the most recent three, with an IPod accompanying me on most rides. Now I somehow feel lost without music to join me on my rides. Music makes the long rides a little less lonely. But I’ve also noticed something else, music also takes away some of the connection one gets with riding. Earbuds act as a windshield to the cyclist. Blocking out the noise and direct connection to the environment we pedal through.
In college, the only period I didn’t race, riding was still central to my life. I’d go out for rides and draft papers, write poems and disengage from the pressure of classes, roommates and whatever else stresses a 20 year old.
To ride alone, while many of us do it, to really enjoy it and prefer to ride alone takes a special person. I’ve always enjoyed riding alone more than with others. Sure there is the practical, no delayed start times, waiting for others mechanical issues, no issues of pace, and no debate over routes. The practical side of riding alone lets you leave the house at dawn do the exact ride you wanted or need to do and be home exactly when planned (less the odd flat tire that occurs). This is highly important when other commitments of life call. The practical side of riding alone lets the cyclist live the other parts of their life.
However, the philosophical beauty of riding alone, without music, is the opportunity to think. Riding without music these past few weeks has brought me back to a lot of the reasons I’ve loved cycling so long. The freedom of riding, hearing cars, birds, other cyclists, gears shifting, and heavy breathing of the efforts I put forth clears my senses.
Cycling has always allowed me, and many others, the chance to enjoy solitary life, ask questions, discuss answers and come up with creative solutions to life.
When I was young, before IPods, hell before walkmen, if you wanted music while riding you had to memorize songs and sing them to yourself. I can still tell you all the lyrics to “Born to Run”, “Allentown”’ and “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday”. The way a mind can and will jump during a 6 hour ride is amazing. Riding without music encourages one to use their mind more. To think about life, politics, religion with no interruption is the joy of riding. Music, while fun and enjoyable, on a ride is truly an interruption. The interruption is not why I love cycling. Alone, the freedom, the polar opposite of what an IPod brings to a ride is why I love cycling. The reason I have ridden for 30 years 90% of that time without music is because it has allowed me to use my mind in new ways. It has made me think and debate for hours on end. No easy way out of a debate, no simple solution. While I’ll lament the loss of my IPod, more importantly I’ve been reminded of my cycling roots and plan to continue to engage in cycling not just for my body but for my mind.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Ride

Nearly four hours of playing in the dirt today, a great way to get ready for the planned endurance races this summer. We started out in Morrison, hit up Mt Falcon, Lair of the Bear, rode the road across Grapevine to Lookout, down Enchanted Forest, up Sluice box and home via Red Rocks. All told we think it was a little less than 40 miles of riding, but who knows because nobody riding had a computer. Today was all about putting in the big time and miles, but not worrying about how much. No need to brag about the distance and vertical, the true proof of the ride is the fact I’ve been dragging ass since.
We contemplated adding in part of Green Mountain, but with the near 80 degree weather the trails kept getting more and more packed. Coming out of Apex it was stop and go traffic, a normal 3-5 minute ride down to the parking area took nearly 10 minutes because of all the other riders and hikers. Green Mountain would have been far too painful at Noon with literally 100’s of people to fight through.
No pictures, nothing fun like that, just hard miles and a tired body. In a couple weeks we’ll be doing another long course Front Range ride, adding in at least one more area of trails and pushing the mileage above 50. If anybody has the perfect Front Range loop (no duplicate trails, no back tracking which essentially leaves White Ranch out) let me know. I’m trying to figure out how to add in three sisters to make the day really hard, I just don’t know how it would work. Lair of the Bear up to Three Sisters would be a lot of road miles and getting down is the real creative part. There has got to be a trail, I just don’t know where or what it is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10%

I’ve now raised over 10% of my goal for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the LiveStrong ride I’ll be doing in Austin later this year. It’s a little early to get overly excited about the ride, and I honestly haven’t started a big fund raising push (which I’ll need to if I’m going to raise another $2,200) but hitting the 10% mark is cool.

The LAF goal is to help fight cancer globally through three main 1. Together we will end the stigma of cancer and turn cancer victims into cancer survivors. 2. Together we will build an international grassroots movement that will take cancer from isolation to collaboration 3. Together with world leaders, we will transform cancer from obscurity to priority.

Since his comeback to racing Lance Armstrong and his foundation have utilize his fame and presence at races to raise awareness of cancer and secure government funding for cancer research worldwide. Huge announcements in Australia, Mexico and California were made this year in part because of the efforts of LAF, please consider a DONATION.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nothing Fancy

Just the facts: it was 12 degrees when I left the house this morning. it was dark when I left the house this morning. it was snowing when I left the house this morning. there was ice on the road when I left the house this morning. my wife offered to drive me in to work.

I had on the thermal tights, rain pants, thermal jacket and rain jacket.

It was the perfect day for a commute by bike.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Week 16



Early Sunday Morning, Dakota Ridge looking out towards Red Rocks, you can almost hear the music.


Sunday morning after the time change is a great day for heading out early and hitting the trails. Given the minimal precipitation in Colorado this winter all the foothill trails are fine for riding so another day on the mountain bike was in order. I left the house by 7:30, which considering the time change felt more like 6:30 to get out in the dirt. Clearly the animals that live at Mathews Winters Park had not been made aware of the time change as I saw deer and rabbits by the dozens. Each taking care of their morning breakfast routines with me only slightly altering their courses.
I decided to string together a new route today, Mathews, part of Dakota, Green Mountain (for the climbing), Zorro, and more of Dakota. While the ride was good and the trails fun my route wasn’t as perfect as I’d hoped. I wanted the perfect two hour ride, not trails being repeated, minimal roads etc. Instead, today, I got a few too many miles on the road, a route that was short and caused two sections towards the end to be repeated to hit my time and a feeling that better mountain bike surely was at hand. Part of the problem may have been my route, starting on Mathews and climbing Zorro/Dakota at the end. The trail I went up is far better the other direction; my concern was the steep climb to start, so I took the less fun overall route. I did manage to get in a good ride, felt really strong on the climbs and felt as if I was riding well on the technical sections. I think there may be a better (and longer) route that can be created by including Bear Creek, but that will have to wait for another week.




Dakota Ridge looking west to Mathews



Dakota Ridge looking east to Green Mountain
On a side note, I’m feeling I took the weekend too easy. By Friday I already had 100+ miles and with a 35 mile ride Saturday a 200 mile week was easily within grasp; however, as a mountain biker I went for the mountain bike ride Sunday and even at that a short one. A total of 155 for the week, 9:50 of riding, with another 2:00 of riding it would have been a big week of training, as it stands a solid week but nothing special.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Museum of Contemporary Art - Denver

On weekends I always make sure Seamus and I have time alone together, just the boys hanging out. Strangely we don’t do normal boy stuff like watch sports or play sports, we tend to spend our time enjoying Denver’s cultural attractions. Fortunately for us we are members of the Zoo and Museum of Nature and Science, this makes regular visits to both places easy and now with Ade not working free. Today we ventured to a new (for us) place, the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. The first Saturday of every month you can get in for one penny.
We cruised around for a while there. The exhibits and overall museum was small, but very well put together. Seamus really enjoyed it; I think the “contemporary art” is really intriguing for kids, because in a lot of ways it is similar to what kids make when doing art. There was one exhibit that was very colorful and cartoonish that we both really enjoyed.


Seamus checking out the art.

Perhaps even better then the art itself was the building. The location is a new building and (I believe) was designed for the museum. Lots of wide open spaces, cool lines between the galleries, an outdoor deck/patio on the roof all made the building very interactive and artistic as well.


Me and Seamus on the roof.

I sure hope this museum can stay around and really make a place for itself in Denver. It recently merged with another local arts organization and hired a new executive director. Small(ish) non profits have a tough go of it any time, but especially in an economic environment like this. Not sure our two cents today will help them survive but it was money well spent.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Eat Green

So here is an article I just found after yesterday's post, eating green is good for you and the environment. Time magizine has an article on eating less red meat, a product that is very high i methane, one of the three major sources of greenhouse gases.

I'm the first to admit that red meat is tasty, and could never become a person who never partakes in red meat, but reducing the intake has benefits for the environment and more importantly health. Racing Green was originally created to show how the bicycle can/could benefit the environment and personal health. That is still my primary interest day to day (hence the reason for participating in the Lance Armstrong Foundation event this year, see the link to the left). Do yourself and the environment a favor and try to change a dinner menu from meat to chicken.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Environment

Well, I’m willing to accept the challenge of my friendly “anonymous” poster and revive (at least on some levels) the social and environmental focus of the blog. In some ways I don’t know that I’ve ever really gotten away from it, just shifted focus as I see fit. Clearly in the lead up to the Presidential election in November I voiced my opinion on the candidates (and issues) in a public manner. In my mind, Fu&& the theory that you don’t discuss politics or religion in public. If you can’t voice your thoughts then why bother. I supported (now President) Obama in large part because of his environmental policies. Prior to Obama I supported a guy now known as Vice-President Biden. I liked his cap and trade ideas on carbon output; I liked his thinking in general. Truth be told, I may have been the only person in America actually happy and excited by the original announcement of Biden as the VP choice.
Do I always agree with these guys? No way. I think the recent economic stimulus package should have mandated that all vehicles that are purchased through the program be hybrid (or natural gas at a minimum). I think less focus should have been on roads and infrastructure and more focus on renewable energy, but I’ll take what I can get. The legislation has key components to help the US focus on renewable and sustainable energy use. You can see more at http://environment.about.com/od/environmentallawpolicy/a/econ_stimulus.htm.
But is governmental legislation enough to reduce our (collective) dependence on non-renewable energy? Hell no. Each of us must take time to lessen our impact. Each of us must make focused choices to change our lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprint. Each of us has to determine where we can start, make a change, have the change become second nature and then make another change. You can’t change a habit overnight. It takes weeks, even months to change habits so collectively as a country it will take years to change our driving habits, our heating habits, our habits with how we carry groceries, how we pack our lunch, but change those habits we must.
I listed a few minor and easy changes I’ve made recently in a post last week. I challenge each of you to find a change you can make that minimally impacts your life, but has significant environmental impact. A few ideas: adjust the temperature in your house, 2 degrees cooler in the winter/warmer in the summer; use renewable cloth bags for grocery shopping, ride your bike or take public transportation to work, buy organic, eat less red meat (the veggie lifestyle is far more sustainable due to the methane from cow waste), change light bulbs to energy efficient. Take a few moments to consider some choices and commit to one change for a month. Make that change become second nature. Make that change benefit the environment, then make another change and repeat the steps.

Sunday, March 01, 2009



White Ranch early on Sunday morning. It was still pretty cold out when I was riding and nobody else was out on the trails.

So, should I do a wrap up of the week or the month for this update? I hate when the month and the week end on the same day, it takes away a post idea. Given how challenged I can be with posting any changes can confuse me.

For February I had another pretty solid month of riding. Starting off with a long 95 mile ride the first week to really work to challenge myself. The highlight in some ways of the month was the ride last Sunday with Kelly where I was finally able to hang. February ended with a total of 576 miles. Given the 95 I put in on one ride alone it seems a little light for a total but I did fit in a week with essentially no training during the week for some much needed rest. Total for the year is 1,246 (though this is kind of a false number since for me “the year” of training started in November, the problem being I wasn’t paying attention to my miles then) is a solid start for the year. I’m still on pace for a big mile year with 7,400+ looking pretty realistic. If I ever put in a big ride or two during the week an 8,000 mile year may happen.



The views from White Ranch are pretty sweet of the city, this is actually a herd of deer. There were a ton of deer out today and just me on the trails.

For the week I put in a few good efforts, though nothing crazy. I spent a lot of time working on tempo rides (just below threshold, a level that can be ridden at for extended periods of time). Two of my weekday rides were tempo focused and my ride yesterday was tempo plus a super hard effort on Lookout Mountain. I rode Lookout in 24 minutes flat. This is the fastest time of the year, but still not great from a perspective of what is fast on Lookout. I think the time will drop pretty quickly over the next few weeks as I start to add some intensity to the riding. I spent this morning on a quick mountain bike ride at White Ranch. It is crazy how nice the trails are now. Prime riding except for a couple of patches of ice. I was riding without an Ipod today (very unusual for me) and had Danny’s Song by Kenny Loggins stuck in my head…”…Pisces, Virgo rising is a very good sign…”. Certainly not my normal riding music, but fit the ride pretty good today and made the climbs less painful. I really never got into a grove on the climbs, mostly I think I was fried from yesterday, up early riding and cold makes it tough to feel great.



White Ranch looking east toward Denver.

Overall though I'm feeling like the training is moving in the right direction. There are still a lot of weeks to go before the first race so the speed and intensity can be brought along at a slower pace.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Random Thoughts

Random thoughts. A few years back when I started this blog thing one of the reasons was to raise awareness about global warming and give people tips and ideas how they could take and inexpensive steps to help protect the environment. Clearly I’ve moved away from that focus, though the concern is still one I’m concerned and passionate about.

Recently I’ve made two changes to my lifestyle to lessen my impact even more. The first is I brought in silverware and dishes from home to the office. I eat breakfast nearly every day at work after riding before coming to the office. Necessitating items like spoons, bowls, forks etc. Up until about four weeks ago I used the disposable stuff at the office. The second change is with my lunches. Again, I pack a lunch nearly every day and had dutifully utilized a plastic bag to carry a sandwich for years. I’m sure many of you do the same. Recently I’ve been packing the sandwich in a Tupperware container allowing me to continually use the same package and lessen my impact. I really don’t know why it’s taken me so long to make these minor and easy changes but give it a try.

Second set of random thoughts. As a parent I’m sure many of us wonder if we are doing things right. Daily I face the challenge of trying to get Seamus to eat fruit (don’t even bring up vegetables there is no chance he’d touch those), take a shower, brush his teeth etc. When these daily distractions occur you wonder, “Am I doing this right?” Then every once in a while you get the glimpse that even though he doesn’t eat right the kid is on the right track. Last weekend we went to the Museum of Nature and Science to see the new natural disaster exhibit. There is a great section on Hurricane Katrina, including a section with recordings of people displaced by Katrina telling their stories. For an eight year old boy to sit and intently listen and show concern for these people is amazing. When Seamus shows this concern for other people who have been so tragically impacted, I know as parents Ade and I are doing something right. Good thing tonight isn’t “an apple night” at dinner.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Week 15 - A Breakthrough

Sunday was a big day in the week 15 training; we covered 70+ miles with the famed climb over Grapevine being the peak of the ride. Grapevine starts about 4 miles west of Morrison, meaning there is 4 miles of steady climbing up the canyon before turning off the main road onto Grapevine. Grapevine itself is about 3 miles of climbing with the last two being on a dirt road. The bottom of the climb is very steep in parts, causing serious pain even when in a 25 tooth cog. Prior to hitting the climb out of Morrison/Grapevine there are already 2 minor climbs of 1-2 miles to start to wear the energy level (this after 30 miles on the flats to get to the foothills).

After reaching the top a quick descent (again partially on dirt) followed by another climb of about 3 miles to the top of Lookout Mountain. This is one of my all time favorite rides as it is long, has a few really solid climbs (and you can easily add in a few more 1-1.5 mile climbs and end up with an 80-90 mile day) and the dirt road climb up Grapevine gives you a true sense of accomplishment as it is a long, tough ride. Sunday I did this ride with Kelly, for those of you who race Winter Park he’s won Expert 35-39 overall in 2007 and 2008, which normally for me means a lot of watching him pedal away. Usually for Kelly it means a lot of waiting at the top or soft pedaling waiting for me. Either way I get a great workout because I’m chasing him so hard I push myself way beyond the normal boundaries of training. On Sunday though something strange happened, on the first smaller climb I stayed right on his wheel the whole time. On the second small climb, again on the wheel and feeling good. On the road from Morrison to Idealdale (where you turnoff for Grapevine) I managed to stay right with Kelly the entire 4 miles. At this point I knew something strange was happening as I’ve never managed to hang on that long. This motivated me enough to think, ponder even, how long can I stay with Kelly on Grapevine. Right away I figured I’d hit my limit. The steep pitches at the start don’t suite my riding style and I feel off a little, but only a little and then I quickly caught back on. Once we hit the dirt we rode side by side up to a set of hairpins where I actually pushed ahead (only for a moment but still) and lead on the climb. Now by this point I thought death was near and looking over Kelly still seemed at relative ease, but even with my breathing scaring wildlife for miles around I’d never been able to stick with Kelly that long on a climb. For my ego (I admit it) I pushed hard at the top to win the imaginary KOM.

The quick descent down gave me a chance to get the heart rate down from god knows what to a reasonable 170 bpm. Upon starting the climb to the top of Lookout I figured the distance and multiple climbs would finally catch up and I’d fall back, but still be pleased with the improvement. Strangely, on this climb I again managed to stay with Kelly and again even push it a little at times. I don’t know why I’m able to hang on the climbs this year. Maybe Kelly is in worse shape, maybe I’m in better (this is what I hope), but after a few years riding and chasing somebody it is nice to finally be able to stay with them on the climbs. Rising to the challenges, even if it takes years to accomplish a seemingly minor goal is what makes cycling fun. Now if I could only descend as well as Kelly does.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Week 14, Really Late

Week 14 was a slow week for me, a rest week. I undertook very little riding, thus the late update on the week. Coming off the rest week I’ve feeling mentally and physically motivated to get on with the season. This week starts a little more intensity to build the engine for races.

I’ve started to transition my training this week as the winter is long and riding the rollers can become a little mind numbing. Since Ade isn’t working I’ve found it easier to get out of the house and ride in the morning outside. While it may be dark and cold the miles are always easier outside. With no rush to get three people out the door (and two to work on time), only one lunch to make and a little more light in the morning this transition seems smart. The other reason for riding outside now is given how mild this winter has been I know that soon days will be coming when riding outside just isn’t possible. It seems whenever Denver starts out with a mild winter in December through February that the month of March brings with it brutal conditions. When the blizzard I expect to hit comes in March I’ll still have a little mental freshness and be able to spend some time on the rollers, if I didn’t venture outside now there would be no way I could handle riding in the basement in March.

Now I’m sitting around and getting ready for big rides this weekend. Sunday is set to be 80 miles of riding with lots of hills, dirt and energy spent chasing fast guys. I can’t wait.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's All About Choices

I often tell people “it’s all about choices”. This arises frequently when people ask how I can fit in so much time and energy for riding and racing, but the reality is it deals with all aspects of life. Many times for me it deals with another glass of red or waking up early for a long ride. A week ago the choices became a little more real, a little more important then another glass of wine or not.

I’ve talked about politics, I’ve talked about my stance on government spending to stimulate the economy and I’ve talked about the current “depression”. As one reader responded a few weeks ago the difference between recession and depression is when it happens to you it is a depression. Well then welcome to the depression. Last Friday Ade was laid off. Actually they used some term that sounds way better then that, but the fact is she isn’t working anymore and for the entire family it’s all about choices. We’ve been making hard choices this week, but the reality is, for us at least right now those choices aren’t as hard as many others in this country are needing to make right now.

We are in a good position, a decent severance package, I’m still employed and even on one income the real life expenses (mortgage, food, insurance) can be covered with a cautious eye. Some of our choices were easy, no more before school care for Seamus when mom is around. No more Starbucks everyday. Checking more books out at the library and not buying any for the time being. Other choices, while still easy aren’t as clear cut. All natural versus organic can save $10-$15 a week on food, but is it as healthy? Buying none natural even saves another $5-$10. Well for now I’ll stick to natural. Some may say that is a luxury anyway, though I’d say eating healthy is not a luxury just a smart choice. Medical insurance is on my company anyway so no change there. Yea we’re making choices but not whether to pay the mortgage or food or credit card so in that sense we’re lucky.

It’s all about choices, fewer bike races, less coffee, whatever it may be. Today we all went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to check out the new exhibit on Nature Unleashed. Our choices are easy compared to those who survived Katrina. Our choices are easy compared to those who survived the tsunami in Sri Lanka and India. Our choice today to not spend money but to spend time as a family makes this all a little easier. I can still ride my bike, ride it as fast as I want, I just won’t spend much on entry fees this year. That’s another choice I can live with.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No Leadville, Laramie Here I Come

So I got the rejection letter from Leadville yesterday, along with my voided check. While I would have loved to ride the Leadville 100 I'm not heart broken, there are plenty of other races out there to race and have fun, no mention of the cost. I've always had the back-up in mind, the Laramie Enduro. Laramie is 70+ miles (111 km) of tough rolling to climbing terrain, probably a lot of wind and something Leadville doesn't have, singletrack.

Registration for Laramie opens on Friday the 13th (cool I guess), no lottery or anything, just first come first served. Given how boring of a life I lead I might be the first person to register.

I'm still mulling over the "big news", but I know I'll post on it, just want it to be worded correctly, maybe this week, more likely the weekend.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Week 13 (I think)

The first week of February turned into a pretty crazy one, but for today I’m just going to cover the riding. The other, bigger news of the week can wait. I need to digest it, ponder it, determine if it is blog material and then, if it is blog material, write something that does it justice. Right now I don’t know how to do the material justice, so it will sit.

Early week training was mellow and light, knowing that Friday would be the biggest day of the year thus far. With the nice weather predicted and my approaching (now past) birthday taking off from work to log big miles seemed like the right thing to do. My quest for Leadville (which now looks unrealistic) spurred me on to go for 100 miles, so when I left the house at 7:30 that was the plan. 5:30 minutes later I returned home, 7 miles shy of the 100 but feeling good about the ride. After putting in that long of a day I’m not sure 100 mile rides are possible solo. The energy expended on a solo ride of that distance, not to mention the mind tricks are tough. I had a varied route with flats, climbs, dirt roads and bike path time, but still my mind was going a bit crazy toward the end (little did I know how crazy my mind would soon turn).

I did learn a lot about nutrition on the ride. I started eating 1 hour in and was downing about 200-250 calories of food/drink per hour. A lot of ultra endurance racers say that number needs to be more like 300+ calories per hour, which should be possible just something that needs to be practiced. I was fine food wise until about 4:40 in when no matter what I did I wasn’t able to keep the force up on the bike. In the last hour I ate about 400 calories, just too late to really help. Lessoned learned to eat more early to keep the energy topped off for the entire ride.

Saturday I was spent, the thought of a ride was there early but it never happened. Good thing the weather men on TV were wrong yet again, as I woke up Sunday to a cool/cold day but no rain or snow as promised. That made the riding choice easy and I put in 2:00 on the dirt at Green Mountain. I’ve been riding a time trail there through the winter and today knocked 30 seconds off my fastest time so the fitness continues to improve. With no Leadville on the schedule (I assume) I’ve got some time to figure out racing, fitness and training. I’ll try to get that all figured out this week.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Friday

I took yesterday off work, busted out a 90+ mile ride on the bike. Riding that long alone is hard. Put in a lot of good efforts with climbing five significant climbs. No news on Leadville, leading me to believe I didn't get in, oh well more important things to consider/worry about anyway.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Week 12 - One Month in to 2009

A recap of the first month of 2009 seems in order for the weekly training update. For January I put in 670 miles, including two long mountain bike rides (January 1st for one of them) and a lot of miles on the road. Clearly the weather this January wasn’t as bad as it could have been which made getting in the big miles pretty easy.

Each weekend of the month I did a ride of at least 4:00, which put me well over 20 hours just from long rides and the miles from those rides totaled over about 310 miles (I don’t keep great track of per ride miles, just monthly totals). In addition I put in some solid work building the body for later races, including a good amount of tempo work and a little higher end efforts on long rides while climbing. Yesterday I climbed Lookout Mountain in sub 24 minutes, which while not fast, is a good pace for this time of the year, especially given half the climb was in zone 3. The legs seem to be responding well to the training and the time up Lookout proves that.

I’ve got two more weeks of base training then I’ll move into the build process (more intensity to get ready for racing) and start to see how the body responds to the more intense efforts. Hopefully the steady work of November through January (ok mid February) will make the harder efforts faster (not easier, cause it never gets easier you just get faster). If I keep up at this pace I’ll be over 8,000 miles for the year. That may be a little extreme, but a 7,500 mile year should be realistic and that will top 2008’s 7,000.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bachelor Living and the Current Depression

I could describe a great road ride today, but maybe that should wait for the weekly report. I could respond to a comment on the blog from a couple of days ago, about the economic situation , thought I’m not sure how to respond. In a great many ways I agree, this situation seems to be more then normal. More then a recession, at least the level any of us are use to remembering. My grandma H use to talk about the depression, as a teen and young woman. She didn’t know how bad it was because she was young, taken care of, falling in love with my grandpa. I’m sure my great-grand parents, whom I never met, worried. I know I do, as a parent it is all you can do when there is uncertainty or risk that may impact your child.

It’s a bachelor pad at my house this weekend, Ade gone to see our new nephew Zeke, and her mom and sister. Seamus and I living the way bachelor’s do, eating out, sleeping where we want (we built a tent last night in the living room). The partying is mellow though, mostly ice cream with a little wine mixed in for me. Grandma and Grandpa watched Shay this morning so I could ride. I picked him up and we went to the zoo. A beautiful afternoon to walk around and have ice cream while enjoying the animals. We ran into my aunt Jeanine, just a few minutes of conversation, but I learned a lot from her today. Her and my uncle Marty volunteer at the zoo, and today we (Shay and I) learned from her how birds can stay on branches while sleeping . We then ended up spending over an hour in Bird World (not my favorite place, but if we’re learning it must be good).

How does a comment on the blog and an afternoon at the zoo tie together? Well the end of the comment was “I hope this is a transition period where we care less about materialistic things, and more about just enjoying the little things and leaving an imprint on this world other than buying a new Rolex.” Somehow I hope learning about birds is more important then the economic crisis, or even how we respond or how long it goes on. As a parent I can worry about money and taking care of my family constantly these days. More important though, as a parent, is to remember that kids don’t remember the struggles for money they remember the love their parents gave them. My grandma H told me about her recollection of the “great depression” when I was young, now I know the importance of what she was telling me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Scary Thought on the Economy

In a recent discussion on the economy and recession I was confronted with an opinion that while vastly different to mine made so much sense I finally realized we are screwed. I’ve held out hope that the worst part of the global economic crisis is at hand now and soon we will start to see companies recover. Maybe no economic boom, but certainly no depression.

Unemployment is higher then in years, savings at historic lows, ARMs still adjusting people out of homes, credit card debt high, there is no way it could get worse. But then the comment, all these people getting laid off are living off already taxed credit cards and soon, with no “extra” money to pay off debt and current living costs they will have little choice but to file for bankruptcy. This will only cause a recession to fall into a depression.

I was at a party recently and the question of how to tell when a recession becomes a depression came up. The best answer I heard, “when your mother-in-law moves in”. Well, I hope she likes the unfinished basement because there isn’t enough money around to get it finished right now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Week 11

Saturday was one of the coldest rides I’ve ever done. I was out for over four hours, stopping twice to get hot water to melt my frozen water bottles. Days like that aren’t fun at the time, reaching down for a drink at two hours in to a ride on a climb only to find there is no liquid left. Then the real bad news strikes, at least twenty minutes of riding remain until there is a place to get water.


This is the climb where I realized I had no water or Gatorade to drink, bummer.

Add a few places with ice that altered my planned route and my long ride turned into a slow march home with lots of stops, cold feet, cold hands, cold face and not nearly the miles I had wanted. The strange thing about my ride on Saturday was how tired I felt later. Last week I rode for five hours with lots of climbing. Saturday was four hours with climbing, but much less (probably 1,200 vertical less at a minimum). Yet I was dead later in the day. I could barely stay awake to watch a movie and even this morning I’m feeling a little tired. The good news is tomorrow is a rest day and seems well earned at this point.

Two weeks from tomorrow and I should know if I get into the Leadville 100. After that I can finalize my schedule for the season. Right now I know the Lance Armstrong Foundation LiveStrong ride in late October (you can DONATE TO HELP TOO). Beyond that I’m not sure, though the Front Range 50 on May 9th seems pretty firm. Colorado’s road schedule is just out so I’ll probably figure some of those out soon and after finding out about Leadville finalize plans for the mountain bike season.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Racing Green 2009 Season Goal - Helping to Fight Cancer

As my faithful readers know (thanks to the three of you), over the past few years I’ve tried to incorporate into my cycling something more significant than just riding and racing for the fun of it. In 2007 I raised money for the Environmental Defense Fund in an effort to promote awareness about global warming. Last year I organized a team and promoted some rides to get people out on their bikes for the health and environmental benefits. So what for 2009? Well to be honest, until a few days ago, I didn’t know and wasn’t even sure I would do anything this season. But I was recently inspired by Fatty of Fat Cyclist fame to take up a new cause.

Have you ever read the blog Fat Cyclist? If you haven’t I ask that you check it out. If you are only going to read one post, make it this one-- Dandelion Seeds. Next you should READ THIS ONE(yea I know I said if you only read one, but after Like Dandelion Seeds you’ll read one more) and you’ll get an idea what I’m doing this year.

It is a long way until the LiveStrong ride in Austin (October 23-25) but it is time to sign up and start thinking about donating. Why LiveStrong and why Team Fatty? Well we all have some experience with cancer and its devastating effects, not only on the person with cancer, but also the entire family. I count myself lucky, when my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer at 88 she didn’t suffer, had lived a long life, full of love, family, and enjoyment. Others aren’t so lucky, having pain and suffering for years. So yea, cancer pretty much sucks and anything that can be done to find cures, ease pain and suffering and offer hope to all those afflicted is a good thing and that is what the Lance Armstrong Foundation is around for. Why Fatty? I don’t know the guy at all. He’s from Utah and so is Ade, but no real connection with him. If he walked by me today I wouldn’t know it. I’ve read his blog for a while and what has always struck me is how much he is like me (or really any of us).

Elden (Fatty) loves his bike, but he loves his wife and family more. He has busted his ass to take care of Susan and his family. If I was in the same position could I do as much as he has? Probably not even close. Taking care of Ade as he has taken care of Susan I would accept and try; being driven to go beyond his personal suffering is what has inspired me to join Team Fatty. Fatty is fighting not just for his wife, he is fighting for everyone afflicted by cancer while at the same time caring for his wife and family. I don’t know anybody with that kind of dedication which is why I’ve been inspired to try to make a small difference. I’ll head to Austin in the fall and ride. Hopefully I’ll actually meet Fatty. I do know we’ll reach the goal of $1,000,000 raised for LAF and fighting cancer. To all my friends and family please link to MY FUND RAISING PAGE and help me raise my portion of the $1,000,000. My personal goal is $2,500 and I am officially 1% of the way there. Any amount helps so please donate a little if you can.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week 10

An early morning climb at Red Rocks, just me and my shadow



Go big or go home was the thought process for the week. With great weather on tap for the weekend I looked forward all week to a big ride on the weekend. Any other week in January with weather like the past few days I would have put in two huge rides, but I had a Field Test scheduled for Saturday and felt it was important to get that in for hard data on how training is going. Sunday though, still beautiful and lots of miles.

I headed out early (7:00am) to get in a five hour ride. It was still cold but not terrible for January when I left. I went from my house to Morrison, over Red Rocks, to the I-70 side of Lookout Mountain. A good long day with lots of long climbs and even more punchy rollers to keep me going. I rolled out for a total of 4:40 and felt pretty fresh still when I got home. I really tried to focus on eating during the ride, as nutrition has always been an issue for me and if I get into the Leadville 100 I can’t risk not being use to on the bike fueling. I started eating 30 minutes in and made sure to consume something, either a gel or nutrition bar, every 30 minutes. At times this was hard to remember and force down but I never felt my energy lagging during the ride and wasn’t dead when I got home so I think the effort helped. During a race it will be a little harder to eat, as the effort makes fueling tough, but if I keep training nutrition it should be less of an issue then in past years.



Red Rocks again, it is a short climb in the park, but tough.



Climbing Lookout Mountain from the I-70 side, this leads to the Buffalo Overlook exit off I-70, from there a quick turn to Buffalo Bill's Grave and a fast downhill to food and drink in Golden.


I did skimp a little during the week and only did yoga two times. I’ve been trying to get in at least three sessions a week as it helps me stay fresh and pain free riding. On long rides the stress and pressure on the back and shoulders can be pretty bad and the yoga makes the stress far less. Even yesterday after the nearly five hours I didn’t feel sore at all so the yoga is paying off in my mind. This week I’ll make sure to get in all my sessions.