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.