Thursday, June 30, 2011

Training Again

I started up my training again this week. It's been a little bit of a shock to the system. I'm a bit sore from my strength workouts earlier this week.

I did a hard ride on the trainer last night. I didn't feel too bad, but I didn't feel too good either. I think I should come around pretty quickly though, I didn't take that much time off...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Betterride Camp - Michigan

Two years ago, I drove down to Richmond, VA to take a mountain bike skills camp. Since then, I've definitely improved a lot, but I feel like I could still get a lot better. When I saw that Betterride was offering a camp in metro-Detroit, I jumped on it.

In the end, I would say that the second camp was way better than the first. At the first camp, I learned enough that I got pretty good at the core elements in a controlled setting (ie- the parking lot), but I still went back to a lot of old habits on the trail. I definitely did improve on the trail between then and now, but maybe not as much as I had hoped. At this camp, I had the drills pretty well down in the parking lot (I did make some small, but significant, corrections). Where I really made a lot of progress this time was on the trail.

Some of the key things I learned:

- Get low, low, low. I did one ride with my saddle dropped, and I put my Gravity Dropper on for another ride. The difference in control is huge with that saddle out of the way. When I did the whole ride with the saddle dropped, I couldn't believe how fast I ripped through some of those corners (I still can't)!

- I need to change the way I practice. Like I said before, I got pretty good at the things that I was practicing, but I didn't really progress. So, I think I need to keep working on new things, and I also need to occasionally spend some time really practicing on the trail. If I mess up a corner, instead of just going on, I should go back and do it a few times and get it right.

- I'm a better rider than I give myself credit for.

So, the Gravity Dropper thing. For now, it's back on my bike. I used it a bit at the beginning of the year and some last year, but after several rides I took it off. The problem was that I was only using it 2-3 times per ride, and I didn't feel like that justified having it on. It also seemed like the transition between the low and high positions took too long; it wasn't the movement of the seatpost that was the problem, but the time it took for me to get ready to pedal in the proper gear. I worked on that aspect a little at the camp, and it got much better. Basically, I sort of "get" how to use the Gravity Dropper now. We'll see how it goes now when I'm back to riding on my own and pedaling a bit harder between technical sections.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting Hungry

I've been off the bike since the Ft Custer race, and I'm getting hungry to start riding again. That's a good thing...

Aside from getting a cold, I've had a good little break. I spent most of last weekend cleaning and staining the kids' swingset. Thanks to the crummy weather we've had this week, it's still not done! The riding lawn mower I just bought also has a problem, so I've had to deal with that.

I'm going to a Betterride camp this weekend. I probably wouldn't have gone this year, except this camp is local (unlike last time, when I went to Richmond!), so I felt like I couldn't pass it up.

Next week I'll resume my training. I'm going to change up my training plan a bit for the second half of the season. For the first half, I followed a program by James Wilson. From a strength training standpoint, I was completely satisfied with my progress. From a racing fitness standpoint, not so much. Near the end, I felt like I was going reasonably well, but it was pretty clear that my power was just not where it needed to be.

I'm going to keep James's strength workouts, but I'm going back to a riding plan that's a bit closer to what I've done it past years. The first step will be to re-build / expand my base...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mid-season Break

So, I decided to start my mid-season break this week. Originally, I'd planned to go a few more weeks before a break, but I've had nearly zero motivation to train since Ft Custer, so it seems like a good time. Turns out that both kids caught colds this week, so I may be fighting something off too.

I'm not sure about how I'm going to proceed when I resume my training. It seemed like things were starting to come together in the last month or so; on the other hand, even at Ft Custer I was still off the pace. I think missing so much riding last year due to injuries hurt me a lot more than I originally thought...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ft Custer TT - 2011

Or, how not to let a bad result ruin a good race...

I raced the Fort Custer TT this weekend for the first time. The weather was perfect for bike racing: sunny, maybe 65 degrees, minimal wind.

The guy that started with me took off like a shot and I never saw him again (he ended up 2nd in my class). I got surprised at the start of the race a little. We rode along a road for a while, which was fine, but when we dove into the singletrack, it was a piece of trail that I hadn't seen before. There wasn't anything difficult about it, but I was going fast enough that it would have been nice to know where I was going

Brad, Shawn and one other guy that started just behind me passed me early, but for most of the race, I felt really good, easily the best I've felt at a race this year. I was able to push hard on the pedals, I was riding well, no one else was passing me. I started thinking I might be doing pretty well in the race. At the end of the Amusement Park, I could see a couple guys creeping up on me, but I was able to maintain my gap over them for a long time.

It wasn't until about halfway through the Green loop (maybe about 10-15 minutes to go in the race?) that I started fading. My legs started getting tired and maybe I lost focus a little. A few guys got by me, and then a bunch right before we finished the singletrack. Still, I finished pretty strong, and it didn't seem like that many people had passed me, so I thought I'd done OK.

Then I checked the results. Last! Dammit! It sucks when you have a good race and get nothing to show for it. Goes to show how good the Expert field is though.

Crunching through the times later, I saw that I did improve relative to my peers from the time trials earlier this year. At least there's some hard evidence of improvement. Andrea also got a pretty good picture of me from early in the race. At least I look like a bike racer...

I'm not going to stay too down about the race. I felt really good and showed some measureable improvement. It was interesting that I'd say my weakness this time was just not being able to put down the power.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Highland, Finally...

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I've lived in Waterford for 7 years, but I've never ridden at Highland (about 15 minutes away)... until yesterday. I think, because there are no races there, I've never had a specific reason to go.

Anyway, I went yesterday and really enjoyed it. It's definitely a different type of mountain biking than you find on most of the other trails around here. The trail is almost always climbing or falling, and rarely does it go straight up or down, and often those ups and downs are narrow and full of rocks and roots. It was hard for me to find a rhythm at times, but it was fun.

Otherwise, my training has been going well. I never ended up getting strep throat, and I've had a bunch of good rides since my last post. My next race is at Ft Custer next weekend; I'm looking forward to it. My fitness should be the best it's been so far this year, but I don't know the trail at the Fort really well, so it will be interesting to see how I do.