Sunday, July 22, 2007
I spent a lot of time waiting around at my station before and in the middle of the race. My diversions included a little running of my own (before the race started), juggling rocks and balancing on a log.
One of the things they gave away in our swag bags was a sample of a product called Power Blast. It's a powder you mix in with water and it makes an "energy drink". I tried it on my ride this afternoon, and I can't say I was too impressed. First, it was very sweet and almost felt like it added carbonation to the water; maybe I didn't use enough water, but I don't think so. I also felt like it made me edgy rather than giving me real energy. A look at the ingredients seems to explain this, there are only 4 calories (all labeled as "other carbohydrates") and the rest is vitamins, minerals and caffeine. Not necessarily bad, but it's not what I'm looking for in an energy drink.
I see Rasmussen is still in yellow. Hopefully Contador, Evans or somebody else can beat him before they get to Paris. The Tour doesn't need another controversial winner again this year.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
A nice quote I stumbled across recently. I'm usually pretty optimistic in the morning, especially if it's a nice summer day. I feel fortunate if that feeling doesn't get completely beaten out of me during the work day though. ;-)
The real point of this post is to talk about mountain biking fundamentals (really, the fundamentals apply to almost any type of cycling). I started by coming up with a list of what are probably "higher level" skills, these would include things like: climbing, cornering, riding over obstacles, etc. From this list, I boiled the skills down to three fundamentals:
1. Balance / Body Position
Of these three, Balance / Body Position is the most important. Basically every higher level skill is built off of good balance and correct body position.
So, I've been spending some time working on these fundamentals. I've dropped the saddle on my singlespeed and have been doing a bunch of different drills in my backyard. I haven't done too many sessions yet, and I haven't been out to the trail recently, so I can't say if this is really helping much, but it can't hurt and it's pretty fun. The most interesting thing I've found so far is that I actually can lift the rear wheel off the ground on a bike with flat pedals (leading eventually to a bunny hop). I'm just not very consistent with it yet.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
We passed the scene of what appeared to be a car/bicycle accident very early in the ride. I looked for some news on that this morning, but I didn't find anything; hopefully everything was OK there. The ride was otherwise pretty uneventful. I was pretty achey in a number of spots by the time we were finished, but I'm feeling pretty good today.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
On Sunday, I was up and out early again. This time, I rode my bike first. I attempted a run again and my IT band flared up within 6 or 7 minutes, so I stopped. I'll rest and stretch and ice today and try again tomorrow. After my aborted run, I ate a quick lunch and then Sarah and I met up with some friends to canoe for a couple hours. We had a pretty good time; we saw some interesting locals (many were short a few teeth) at a "swimmin' hole" along the river. After that, we went to visit Sean and Stacie and their new baby. Stacie made me a birthday cake, which was a nice surprise. July 8 is definitely the earliest I've celebrated my birthday in a long time, maybe ever.
The IT band thing is pretty disappointing. It probably means I won't have the opportunity to be ready for the trail race, but I guess it was a long shot anyway. I'm going to keep trying to resolve it though and we'll see what happens.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
So, I'm doing a little riding to stay ready for the century ride I'm doing with my dad next weekend, but I'm planning to keep my riding to a minimum until I get back from Alaska. This should be a nice break and I'll be fired up to ride again in August. I've still got a lot of racing left to do this year.
Even though I'm not riding much, I'm not just sitting around. I've been doing some running instead. I'd really like to get my legs prepared to run the last race in the "Bump 'n Run" trail running series that my wife is doing. This one is going to be 5 miles, and I'm not sure I'll be able to get ready in time. I'll give it a shot though. My left knee, which is the one that has given me trouble the past couple years, has felt great during and after my runs. Unfortunately, I'm having some IT band issues with my right knee after about 15 minutes of running. I've been diligent about stopping once it starts hurting, stretching it, icing it, etc so hopefully it will clear up pretty soon.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
The picture of Brien getting over the log is also good. Notice how low his chest is, and how he's got his rear tire in the air already. I'm sure his bike didn't touch that log.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Final results from the Marathon race are up. I finished 8th out 11 in my class, but the last guy DNF'd. It was interesting to look at the times from this year's race compared to last year. In general, this year's race was noticeably faster than last year's; this is a little surprising since the course should have been a little longer and a little slower with the addition of the new section in the Roller Coaster. I don't exactly remember what the weather was like last year, it might have been pretty hot last year, and maybe that was the difference.
Even in a race like this, my biggest weakness is still speed in the singletrack. I came up with a new way to think about it this morning, whether it's useful or not. I realized that what I'm after is not so much speed but efficiency. The seeds of this idea were planted in the Bloomer race. The singletrack there is tight and tends to follow a rolling profile, so I was able to stay on a wheel by outclimbing the racer who'd just opened a gap on the descent and the corner. (It may be that I'm at less of a disadvantage in tight singletrack where everyone has to slow down than I am in more open singletrack where I'm considerably slower than the faster guys.) This is obviously an inefficient way to stay on a wheel. I'd be better off using less energy to stay there by maintaining my momentum down the hill and through the corner; or, better yet, using the same energy level, but, having maintained my momentum, make the pass on the climb (easier said than done at Bloomer, but the principle is right).
I had plenty of time to think about this at the Marathon race, as I'd lose a position in the singletrack and then gain it back out on the two-track. I got to thinking about how every time I hit my brakes in the singletrack, it amounted to a bigger gap that I had to close on the two-track. Over the course of a 40-mile race, all of those extra brake touches really add up.
The other thing that occured to me before the race on Saturday was that I think most of the guys I race against have been riding their mountain bikes a lot longer than me. I keep a log of my races, and when I put the Marathon race in, I looked back at my first race, a MTB time trial, also at Stony Creek (end of July 2005). In that race, I averaged 10.2mph over 13 miles. Saturday, I averaged 11.5 mph over the 40 miles (the trails used in both races were basically the same). That's a pretty big difference. So, sometimes I just need to remember that getting faster takes time. It takes time to build fitness, and it takes time to build confidence in bike handling skills.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
I did a very short, easy warmup. I figured that the race was long enough that I didn't need to warmup much ahead of time. They started us in waves... with the Expert/Elites going first (they raced 6 laps!), followed by groups of Sport racers. My wave included Sport men from 19 to 40 I think. Nobody seemed to be pushing too hard from the start, and I stayed with my group until we hit the Pines. At that point, guys who were a little quicker in the singletrack started passing me. I held my own out on the two-track, but was getting consistently passed in the singletrack. By the end of the first lap, I was last in my group (which I thought meant I was last in my wave), so I was a little discouraged at that point.
I felt a little better near the beginning of the second lap. On a "two-way" section of the course, I saw some guys with number plates for my class still finishing their first lap. So, I wasn't last in my wave, just the last of the first sepatation. There was a long climbing section near the beginning of the lap (individually, the climbs aren't long, but there are a bunch of them strung together), and I passed about 5 guys at once on the last climb. So, that perked me up a bit, even though most of the guys got by me again later in the lap.
Before the race, I had expected the third lap to be the hardest. I was pretty fatigued at the beginning of the lap, but that had also happened at the beginning of the second lap. It was a combination of things, the laps ended with a long slightly uphill ride through the grass, which was an energy-sucker. The gels also weren't kicking in until a little later in the lap. As with the second lap, I felt better a little further into the lap. For most of the third lap, I was riding with guys who rode more like I did in the singletrack, and I was also picking off a few riders who were starting to fade. Some of the faster Expert/Elite riders also started lapping me on the third lap... those guys were pretty impressive. By the end of the third lap, I was really starting to drag. I took my gel at the end of the lap as usual and waited for it to kick in.
I started the fourth lap pretty fatigued, as seemed to be the trend. This time though, the boost I got from the gel was short-lived. By the time I finished the first climbing section, I could feel my energy level dropping and a bonk coming on. I ate my "safety" gel, and it seemed to help. On that climbing section, I made my last pass on a guy I'd been swapping spots with all day. I told him we'd probably see each other again, but we didn't. I also started having some pain in my left foot early in the lap; it turns out that I got a little blister, but it didn't bother me too much. The singletrack sections were a little dicey the last time through; I didn't have any problems, but I wasn't as focused as I should have been. Anyway, I got through the lap and finished and was happy to get off my bike.
I finished in just under 3.5 hours, which I was pretty happy with. The preliminary results showed that I finished 8th out of 11; although, there might have been a few racers still on the course. I'd hoped to place a little higher, but that's how it goes; I'm not sure what I would have done differently to improve my position.
Despite eating and drinking a lot after the race yesterday, this morning I weighed 4 pounds less than I did yesterday morning.
A squirrel sleeping on the tree outside the bedroom window.
5th anniversary picture. Suzie wasn't too cooperative.
Our regular crew of Mountain Rhinos at Bloomer.
Steve Balogh's picture of me at the Hines Park TT.