Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back in the saddle

Life after Leadville has had it's ups and downs. I picked up an upper respiratory and sinus cold at the race and was off my bike 7 full days. When I tried to get back at it I rode for 2 days and knocked myself down a couple more pegs. Not good. I took more time off and decided I was better and hopped back on my road bike last weekend. Last Sunday I rode and out and back from East Canyon Store to Lost Creek Reservior and felt strong, for the most part. My riding mate, Dave Knoop, is the kind of guy that picks up the tempo as the road pitches upward - he loves to climb and mash the gears. I held his wheel on all the climbs, and even lead him up a few, until we hit the long climb back from Henefer, which I love. After about 5 minutes of over-the-top tempo, I fell apart. I had no go juice and had to back it down. After summiting I was strong on the ride back to the store. I was encouraged.

On Tuesday I rode Emigration Canyon and felt like crap and was discouraged. I surmised my legs had not recovered from Leadville and the lack of riding was catching up to me. I took Wednesday off and hit Emigration again on Thursday with the hope that I could push through my lack of energy and get back in the grove. I couldn't believe it. My legs felt strong and snappy for the first time since June! I don't know what happened, but all is good now. If only I could have felt like this for Leadville. But, being a life long Cubs fan, I'm used to "wait until next year"!

I rode with Bill Dark and Dwight Hibdon yesterday as they prepare for LoToJa next Saturday and put in a solid 87 miles in heavy winds and high temps. I rode real well for the most part and took several strong pulls into the wind. I had good zip, until Brown's Canyon where the wind, lack of water and a poor choice of fuel started to catch up to me. I was experitmenting with a different type of fuel and it did not work out so well. And I was way behind on water, like always.

So, I'm feeling better and back in the saddle. I'm going to give the Single Speed Challenge at Sundance a go next Saturday with a goal of finishing and not being DFL. Believe me, that is a formidable challenge. I'll be riding my 29er Rig and look forward to my full conversion to the 29er family. More on that later.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cyclist Intentionally Rundown

My fellow Mad Dog teammate Bill Dark has penned an excellent cycling awareness article that appeared in the Opinion section in the Sunday, August 24th edition of the Salt Lake Tribune. If you haven't read it, please click here, read it and give me some feedback. I want to write a follow up letter to the editor and am interested in your thoughts - if anybody is out there ;-)

I want to take a work together attitude, like Bill has, and not attack. I have a few ideas but could use a few more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Leadville - 1 week after

The Leadville split times are in and it looks like I was on pace for a 9:50, if I could duplicate my final leg time from 2007. I ran out of gas and rode 25 minutes slower. I've looked at my data and it looks like dehydration may have gotten the best of me. I could not get my HR out of zone 1 (!) during that leg and had no zip whatsoever. After the race when I checked my Camelback that I filled at Twin Lakes and carried to the finish, only a few ounces were gone! I'm one of those unfortunates guys that does not get thirsty, so Camelbacks are not a good choice. I've got to go back to bottles so I can see what I'm (not) drinking. Given my splits, I'm encouraged for next year and I still think 9:30 - 9:45 is possible.

I've taken the entire last week off and hopped on my single speed yesterday for my 1st ride since the race. I have mixed feelings about my ride because I felt good for about 45 minutes, then I tanked. For one thing, the SS is a different animal and I worked much harder than I anticipated. The other issue is my lungs. Seems I must have picked up something no-so-good at Leadville and catching my breath and coughing has been a challenge all week. Hopefully things will clear up soon and I can get back at it. This may be stupid but I think I'll ride Emigration Canyon later today.

Someone asked me if I thought the IHE sessions I've done this year made a difference. Without a blood test to determine my hematocrit levels before and after the sessions, it's hard to tell if there was an actual physiological improvement. I did "feel" stronger though. It may have had a placebo effect because I really felt much better hiking Cloumbine this year than in 07. That said, my 08 time was only 2 minutes faster! On the other end, I rode the entire race about 8 minutes slower and I tanked during the last 30% of the race where I'm typically stronger. So, my answer is probably, but I'm not sure. Would I do it again - yes, why not?

So, now I can sit on my butt, guilt free, and watch the Olympics. Heck, if I can't breath, I can't ride, so I might as well get fat...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Leadville, 2 days after

Lance and Dave heading up Columbine. Photo by

I just remembered that I met my 2nd goal for the race which was to not end up in the oxygen tent afterwards. That felt really good, and it's far less embarassing.

Check out this cool video of the race. It's better than reading what follows.

So the race started at 6:30 and we staged our bikes at 5:45 which was too late. It took KC and me 30+ seconds to get to the start line after the gun went off. The 1st 4 miles is neutral and exciting because of the huge group of riders and all the cheering people along 6th Street. The race offically begins at the dirt road, but for KC and me it stopped because of the "people jam" at the turn. The pace picked up along the flat dirt road to the St. Kevins climb and I passed quite a few riders before beginning the climb. I passed a bunch more guys on the climb and kept near KC and Stuart Edgerly (he's a 10 time Leadville finisher and 24 hours of Moab teammate) for motivation and speed. After topping out on St. Kevin's I exited the single track and hit the pavement just behind KC and quickly found a bunch of speed. My speed toped out at 41.4 mph and it felt sooo good. 40+ is real sweet on fat tires. Once the road pitched upward, KC blew past me and set a target for me to follow. That was a mistake on my part. As we climbed up Sugarloaf I got occasional glimpses of KC so I knew my pace was aggressive, maybe to much so. Since I wasn't to far behind her at the top of Sugarloaf, I thought I might be able to catch her on the descent down the Pipline Trail. Not a chance - she was gone! I never saw her again until she came down from Columbine Mine.

By this time I knew I was pushing past my comfort zone but thought I'd keep it up to see what I was made of. Well, it turns out I'm made of mush.

After the Powerline descent we hit the pavement for a few miles of road work to the Pipeline feed zone. One group of about 6 guys passed me and I was not able to hang on. I knew right then that it was going to be a tough day. I eventually caught a tandem with 4 or 5 other riders and followed them into the Pipeline FZ which I bypassed and headed off to Twin Lakes about 50 minutes away. Shortly after the PL FZ I saw a rider on the ground with a bleeding head being attended to by 4-5 riders. I don't know what the outcome was but I'm sure his day was done. The Pipeline to Twin Lakes leg is pretty bland with nothing exciting or challenging so getting through it is no big deal.

Twin Lakes is real exciting with hundreds of people, a dam that only the riders can cross, and the it's the gateway to the 3,200 foot 10 mile Columbine Mine climb to the 12,600 foot high point of the race. I made a quick stop for water bottles and Blocs and headed out for what turned out to be a better experience than last year. I kept a steady pace up the gravel road and began walking at the cable car tower. I kept up with a chick that was riding so I knew I was doing OK. She crapped out and I walked past her and probably 20 other people! Wow, what a difference a year makes. Last year this was a death march, this year it was a hard effort, but it never brought me to a stop or got the best of me. Well, that's not exactly true. I did start to cramp just after the 3rd hike-a-bike and stopped for a minute or two to take 2 e-lytes and water, and I was back on my way and road to the Columbine FZ without any further issues. I made a quick grab of food and water at the FZ and headed back down in real short order. The objective was to get off the summit as fast as possible and get down to thicker air. Mission accomplished.

I almost forgot to mention Lance and Dave Weins were coming down the Columbine road at breakneck speed at 10:25 am while I was still climbing and probably 1:15 from topping out! Later I found out they stayed on their bikes and climbed the last 1.5 miles to the summit. Most mortals do 2 to 3 long hike-a-bikes going up to 12,600. Amazing!

Back to me. My descent down Columbine was controlled, but fast, and I passed several riders on the way back to the flat road. Here's where the doubt started to creep back in again. Two guys I blew by on the descent passed me and I couldn't hang with them. That was not the case last year - I was passing people at this point. But this time, I had no go juice. Crap! I made it back to Twin Lakes and fueled up and headed out to Pipeline 2. This section starts with a road climb that gets your attention right away, especially if you stopped at the FZ and let your legs cool down. About half way into this leg are two more killer hike-a-bikes, even for Lance and Dave. A guy passed me on the trail just before the 2nd climb and started pushing his bike up the hill. After just a few steps he just sat down in the dirt - he was cooked! I didn't look back to see if he got up cuz I didn't want to know. I finished the leg and stopped at Pipeline 2 for a Red Bull and fuel for the final 2:45 (I hoped) back to the finish line.

This leg begins with a asphalt/gravel road ride into the wind, past the Fish Hatchery, across a shallow creek and on to the vaunted Powerline climb. This is the part I was dreading most, especially since my mojo was not flowing. It went well cuz I walked the steep section and, to my surprise, I cleaned the rest of the climb. I have to admit there were 3 or 4 times I almost got off my bike and pushed, but a little voice in my head said kept saying stay on the bike and salvage some sense of honor. As I topped out on Sugarloaf it began to drizzle. By the time I hit the dirt road it was coming down steadily. I kept pushing on but it got colder when the small hale got mixed in with the rain. By the time I hit the asphalt it was an aggressive downpour that forced me to stop under a tree to begin my fight with a rain bag that was to fit over my torso. The yellow plastic bag (call it the big target, or better yet, the parachute) was all stuck together and I couldn't tell where the holes were or how to put it on. It was actually quite comical and I'm glad nobody was their to witness the mess. The bag was marginally effective, but it did keep my core warm until the last 20 minutes, so it did do it's job.

I pressed on as the pavement headed up and the rain kept coming down. I got passed by quite a few guys who looked real fresh. The bummer with this section is this is where I was blowing by people last year! Damn, that was discouraging. I finally reached the neutral aid station and hooked up with Mike whom I had been changing leads with since 30 minutes before the Pipeline FZ. We got some food from the volunteers and I said to him we weren't going to make it under 10 hours. He said lets just have fun and enjoy the trail. SO, we headed up to St. Kevin's with rain pelting my yellow baggie, muddy water running down the trail dodging large water puddles that did not reveal their depth until it was too late. The going was slow but we kept the pedal down and descended in one piece. Mike was actually way ahead of me at this point so I expected to come in by myself. Two guys caught me on the flat road and wanted to work with me, but I had nothing left so I said go on without me. They did and to my surprise, I caught them at the last rocky climb at the start of the Boulevard, and I saw Mike in the near distance. It took me a few miles but I caught Mike just before the pavement and lead him to the finish line where he sprinted past me. Good for him, he rode strong and deserved the win.

At the finish I was given my finishers medal and headed to the aid tent for soda, brownies, soup and cookies instead of oxygen and doctors like last year. Ellen, Rob, Ryan, Lia, Chris and KC greeted me at the finish putting a nice touch on a challenging day.

In spite of the challenges, I already looking forward to next year and going after the 10 year finishers buckle in 2016.

Next year I'll make my time goal more realistic, I'll ride my pace, I'll drink a lot more water and I'll finish strong - the opposite of this year. This is a great race and an exciting challenge that hits my fun button and I don't want it to stop. I hope I get in again so I can continue to push myself, get faster and solidify my place in the Leadville family.

I'll put some comparison numbers to together in another shorter post.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Leadville #2 Finished

I just got home from the long weekend and will post more later.

Briefly, I finished the race and exorcised the ghost of Columbine Mine, but Saturday was not my day. I struggled from the get-go, never found my mojo and battled the whole day. My bike setup was perfect and I had no mechanical issues at all. I could not have gone any faster and gave it my best shot, but I fell well short of my 9:30 goal at 10:10:48. Overall I was 227th and 28th in my age group. I can do better in the future. The course was fast and packed, the weather was cool, but comfortable, and it began raining at 3:00 until the end.

As a reward for finishing Chris, KC and I enjoyed an excellent burger and fries lunch in Leadville at Rosies before hiting the road and driving 8 hours back to SLC.

Here's a link to a Velo News video of the race. I've got to finish unpacking. More later.