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


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.