Sunday, May 29, 2011

Race #75: Whistling Dixie

I caught a ride with Matthew Stierwalt down to General Butler State Park in Corrolton, Kentucky. This park brings back fond memories of Bridget getting back into the sport that she loves, back in 2003 when it felt like we were just kids fresh out of college. She had raced there in the late 90s, when mountain biking was epic. Here is a BioWheels race report about Bike Butler back in the day. Matthew raced there as well back in the day, on a Bianci Forté with Look clipless pedals better served for the road and a suspension fork that would have made a better pogo stick.

I lined up and realized this was my first real race of the year. There wasn't much bumping shoulders on single track in the Death March. I was glad to shake some of the racing cobwebs off a week before Mohican. Butch, Marty, Matt and I went for a warm up lap, it was only 5 miles but there was a fair amount of mud and areas where conditions would deteriorate over the course of the race. It was funny, I found that the granny gear was the best choice for all the muddy climbing.

Lap 1:
The race started fairly fast. I was about 5th or 6th into the trail with Marty and Matt just behind. I kept gunning it and was holding Rusty's wheel so I wouldn't create a gap. I was very happy to be within 2 bike lengths of Rusty and another guy from Backwoods Racing within the first quarter lap — those guys from Louisville are freakin' fast. What I didn't realize was that I was slowly going anaerobic — with all the oxygen going to my muscles and evacuating the ole bird brain. About that time I hit a sloppy, muddy downhill going really fast. Well I ate it really hard with my head hitting the ground and my handlebars twisted backward. It took me a few seconds to pull the bars off — leaving a huge scratch on my top tube! I jumped back on and wouldn't you know it — my chain had dropped too! Marty and Matt passed me as I was getting the chain back on. I caught up to them and we formed a Cincinnati chase group. Matt was setting a steady pace as I tried to catch my breath. I was still so full of adrenaline I wanted to ride 20 mph, but I knew unless I settled down I would crash again. So we hung together in a little paceline for about half a lap. At one point I passed Marty where my poor handling must have drove him crazy! We hit an open marshy section and I decided to raise the pace and try to hunt down any Louisville rider I could. I created a gap and I wanted to see if I could beat Marty for once in my life, I thought I would take advantage of an opportunity while I had it. But Marty wasn't feeling his best that day.

Lap 2:
Still riding like a newbie. Slowing down. Fearing my comrads coming from behind. Marty's stem broke and he had to DNF. He was shouting out that I was 3rd or something. I didn't believe him, and i didn't want to get my hopes up — but then I remembered there was both a Pro AND an Expert class. Hmm... I started to get siked and dreamt of podiums and champaign.

Lap 3:
Smooth sailing! Cleaned everything! Settled down and rode like a real mountain biker, riding a tight-rope up the edges of the trail on the muddy uphills. I was so proud. The marshes were getting nasty, and I swear I could smell stagnant horse poop in the water AND IT WAS SPLASHING ON MY BOTTLES!

Lap 4:
Chain suck! I had to switch it into the middle ring and muscle it out. I passed a BikeClicks guy cramping on the ground (from all the mud) and I felt like a cramp coming on. The second half of the lap I was trying to gun it as much as I could — thinking teammate Karwash or another rider would come from behind and steal my potential podium.

So the South won this battle. Backwoods and other Louisville riders took the first four spots, I came in 5th. But I think I might have been third in the Expert class, but what I didn't know was that I was FIRST in the 30-39 age group. It feels a bit cheap but I got paid some sweet money and this is my first win since November of 2009, 44 races ago. But in all reality, getting fifth in this field and third in Expert is a major result for me.

The South also won in another way. I got the shits — I think from that nasty marsh water on my water bottles. Would this be known as General Butler's revenge?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Read The Best Bike Blog Ever's article about Death March at XXC Magazine online. That was my last race, I really need to get back out there. I feel like Marty Sheen drunk in the hotel room in Apololyspe Now!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bike 2 Work Week

At a commuter station at Coffee Emporium, meeting Element Cycles and signing up for Queen City Bike's email list (10,000 names gets them a lot of sway in City Hall).

Last week was Bike to Work week. I hit the road hard, commuting just about everyday to work and sometimes with little commutes during the day. I avoided 19 car trips and commuted about 114 miles, on top of another 235 miles of training (totaling about 26 training hours). I have to admit, I am spent. So this week is a rest week.

I led the Blue team in the 2 Mile Challenge for about a day! Some days I had 4-6 bike commutes in a day.

This week I am cutting back on commuting, using the bus to get to work. I am still commuting here and there, but mainly using the bike for workouts so I don't wear down my batteries. This week was the inaugural launch of the LPK Velo Club, a wellness program to get coworkers into cycling. My friend Stephanie and I rode around Lunken Airport from Downtown. And my other friend John and I rode to Ollie's Trolley for lunch. Cycling and eating ribs!

Check out my new "Tin Lizzy!" I bought a Huffy Sportsman 3-speed for $10 at a garage sale. Reminds me of the one my friend Stefan let me borrow in Frankfurt.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Some Epic Rides

Ride to Chilo
I love this time of year. In seeking good form you throw a leg over the saddle and just ride off with very little limits on where you can go. You have a whole day to train, just take it.

In early April Bjet and I went for a long sunny ride East. We rode through Batavia to Felicity and down to the river. We hit the river around Chilo and turned home along the river where the wind became epic. I think we rode 40 miles into a strong headwind. We stopped in Point Pleasant, Birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant, for a Coke and some jerkey. It was nice to visit New Richmond too, it looks like there is a cute coffee house and bookstore there. Like a little arts district. There riverfront main street could take you back in time (in your imagination of course, no DeLorean spotted).

Feel free to look fruity while sitting on a fence post.

Kentucky Therapy

Unfortunately in mid-April our adopted dog of 6 years died suddenly (but she was 13, so we should have saw it coming). Bjet and I couldn't bear to be at home, too much reminded us of our dog Button. So I made Bridget get on our bikes to try to forget about our loss.

Day 1 of our canine mourning was a drizzly ride to Lebanon. Gross. Day 2 was a beautifully sunny ride out past Covington up some scenic climbs, then crossing East to hit the epic StoneHouse road near Camp Spring (a village of all stone structures) out to Schabobole and then Mentor. We came back along Washington Trace, where some of the side roads were submerged in water from all the rain we have been getting.

To the Center of the Universe

This one wasn't so epic, but I finally got back down to Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. That whole KY-20 area around Petersbug is pretty nice. It reminds me a scale-model size version of South Park, Colorado.

Every time I pass a country graveyard now I can't help but feel nostalgic for the Sub-9 Death March.

Enjoy some barbecue and play fetch with the 4-legged Mayor. Rabbit Hash is starting to gain even more popularity. Now they have a B&B, a wine cantina and a new barbecue place. When I was there a "Raise the Band Stand" music festival was going on, so there were even more booths of food and people. It was so cool I wish I didn't have to ride home.

Xenia Station, Choo Choo Two

Last weekend I did one more long ride to get "speed endurance" training for Mohican. I tried to hold an 85% effort to Xenia Station and back. I got to ride with teammate Scott for a bit. Old friend Teri the MTB/CX Goddess showed up and we rode for a bit, then I went on and on and on the Little Miami Scenic path forever and alone. Actually the iPod loaded with Mashups kept me company and I ended up riding a flat 122.6 miles in 7 hours. I drank only Infinit and took a couple gels, I was testing the race nutrition and it seems to work phenomenally, I felt way better than I usually do!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Marty and a full bike coral at OTR's Park and Vine, all the local kids were lining up for thekombucha keg party from Fabulous Ferments.

I love bikes. It's going to be a busy day but I took a second to slow down and bought bread and a blueberry danish from Shadeau and had an impromptu picnic in the park. Plus it's sunny for the first time this week!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Obey Trek!

I'm kind of over Trek, Lance, Shephard Fairey, Carbon Fiber, etc.

But as a multifaceted person (designer turned racer) I love that the worlds of art and sport are merging. Teams like Leopard-Trek and Sky (and Garmin and Rock Racing) have embraced design and marketing to cut through the clutter and appeal to a younger audience — which turns that audience onto their sponsors.

Trek is also doing a great job of using their success to come up with all sorts of cool design, from revolutionary industrial design and engineering to just sweet looking bikes. I liked Levi's Tour of Cali bike from a couple years ago, the bear of Cali was perfectly cropped into the headtube area. Plus did you see Lance's sick ass haute couture Tour de France bikes? Here is a link...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Off to a late start training today, watching the Giro and sleeping in. Man, this is a fun race to watch! 2 climbs up an active volcano today.

I used to be a Bert "fan." I guess I used to feel bad for him that some guy (Lord Lance-a-Strong) came out of retirement, and started tweeting slams on Bert. Then you have all these American "cycling fans" calling Bert a jerk because he didn't "help" Lance win the Tour. Guilty or not, his climbing and attacks have always been "unbelievable." So I had mixed feelings today when Ole Spanish Beef went flying up the volcano. I was blown away that Stefano Garzelli blew up, he flicked an elbow and threw up in his mouth and started crying! I like that guy just because he's an aggressive rider, very classic looking, like he should be racing Merckx.

I heard Andy Hampsten is the current leader of the Tour of California. Him and Bob Roll came out of retirement and rode through 3 feet of snow in Tahoe. After the loss of Wouter Weylandt rider safety will be a huge concern, these guys have to turn themselves inside out for us — it would have been great to see these guys race in horrible conditions but I would hate to see someone get hurt. They should have shortened the stage to a cyclocross race around Lake Tahoe!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bike Month!

On the Right Track from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo.

This is a cool video about some bike lane experiments in Portland. I'm excited about Cincinnati adding over 100 miles of bike lanes, but when I have a bead experience with a car I wish the 2015 deadline for these lanes were sooner.

Queen City Bike is putting on a lot of great events for Bike to Work Day (and Week), it's fun to see people get excited about cycling and with the gas at over $4 a gallon this might be the perfect time to recruit new commuters. My friend Tim is creating a cool challenge for himself, commuting only by bike for 3 weeks.

I've been commuting a lot more this month, I typically ride 4-6 commutes per week. I'm excited about bike month!

Bike Month Week 1:
8 commutes for a total of 60 miles, I think I saved about $25 in gas and $14 versus the Metro Bus.

Bike Month Week 2:
11 commutes for a total of 84 miles.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hill Battle of the Networked Blogs III

Everyone was flying tonight! The weather was nice, we were feeling great, and a psychological yolk has been lifted off of us before the "big dance" at Mohican.

Since last week I rested up, been stretching and massaging my sore muscles with the Stick and a Triggerpoint foam roller. And most of all, I've been trying to get more sleep and making sure I am on top of my caloric intake. I think I was training and working so much I forgot to track my calories and I fell into a deficit for days, which ran my batteries down!

Tonight I was a bit naughty and grabbed a leftover donut from a meeting and downed it before our ride. You can see where the energy spiked and then dropped off!

6:23 (Whoa, the explosive power of the donut!)
6:37 (Still feeling donut high)
7:06 (Hurts, donut?)
3:45 (flatted),
5:19 (from flat point)

3,510ish feet of climbing on a school night, sweeeet. Just when I thought I was badass I heard Marty Sanders rode 30x up Sycamore today, proving he is a monster. I think that's like 7,000 feet of a hill that is 3x the gradient. Chapeau!

New Best Time!:
6:23, avg 15.7 mph.

I can average over 16 mph on Kuglar, I wonder if I am slower on Devou because it's harder or if it is because the road is so rough... Well, maybe the top and bottom of Devou is harder.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Date Night with the Bikes

Bjet and I had a stellar evening. Guest chefs at Fork Heart Knife made some killer comfort food, which we savored with some Yeti beer. Then a serene soul ride home. Ahhhh.

How do you train for a 100 mile mountain bike race?

I thought I new what I was doing, but I am starting to doubt myself.

Basically I have been slowly building up miles, capping off my training with an epic ride (maybe 7-8 hours, and 120 miles-ish) this weekend and maybe one next weekend. Then taking a couple weeks to recover and focus on shorter, intense rides.

I think I got this notion from training for half-marathons. Should I have been building a bigger base earlier? Or am I stressing for no reason at all?

Don't you like how I asking less than a month before the event?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Foggy commute into work. I love riding through Eden Park in the morning, it's a moment of serenity before a busy work day.

Build Up!

And anti-climax... Just kidding, I hope not.

For the past year I've used the MapMyRide membership features to track my training hours. I tried to train more by hours and less by miles. And this year I focused on using Joe Friel's Training Bible to coach myself. You can pretty clearly see my faithful progression of building 4 weeks then resting (minus one week where I think a heavy workload got the best of me).

So this is my fourth year of racing. In 2008 I caught the CX fever just as the season began, so I wasn't stewing myself in lactic acid all year. I think in 2008 I was an avid cyclist, but I wasn't psycho yet. In 2009 I felt so lucky I was asked to race for the Trek Store Cincinnati team, and the previous CX season inspired me to punish myself through the winter like never before. In 2010, I felt even luckier to race for BioWheels (aside from being my friends, they always seemed like the Yankees of the Cincy off-road teams) and with the 65 mile MTB races on my schedule I really punished myself. There is something about having a logo on my chest that made me not want to let the team down, I felt accountable to kick as much ass as I can. But last year's Mohican really whooped me, and I have a real chip on my shoulder going into this year's 100 miler.

Below you can see how I've slowly progressed over the past four years, adding about an extra 1,000 miles of riding into the first 5 months. I doubt it will be 1,000 more this month, but we'll see!

So this is my tentative training plan for May. A couple more weeks of killing myself, then I'm going to dial the volume way back and amp up some intensity. Plus some time for rest just before the big race (and a 2 week recovery break after).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hill Battle of the Networked Blogs II

Once again Tuesday night is a battle of the local blogs. Joe Biker from The Best Bike Blog Ever invited me for a whoopin on the hill up to Devou park in Covington. This time he dominated me, I had to quit after 7 repeats while Joe continued onto 10. I got about 2,400 feet of climbing in...

Score BBBE: 1, JRR DNF

Devou Hill Repeat Times (5/03/2011)
7:01 (Most of these Joe dominated a pulled 85% of the time)
6:54 (I took a few pulls on this one,)
8:16 (Legs got cold during a pee break and I blew up)
7:42 (better go home and recover)

Best time:
6:37 at about 15.1 avg mph (4/12/2011)

Devou is about 1.67 miles long with about 351 feet of elevation gain, mainly about 3% gradient with some 6% kickers. It's a really cool climb because you get wonderful views of downtown Cincinnati and Covington.

Another workout since my illness where I have fallen apart. I better make sure I rest, recover, get my antioxidents, get out The Stick and my foam roller,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Miles and Smiles

From 2009 Cycling Yearbook

I was sick all last week. I got an Easter bug and it had me wiped out, plus the constant rain here (it rained almost everyday, no kidding) forced me to take a real recovery week.

So Saturday I decided to go out like an idiot and whoop myself. I rode Route 8W and took all the side hills. It was crazy, there has been so much rain that the roads were closed because landslides were tearing away parts of the road. I rode down Amsterdam and it was like that, KY-20 was closed too. I saw Rod Vesper at a UDF (this message brought to you by...) on the top of Tanner. I forgot to buy a coke (foreshadowing?). I went down to Route 8 and was about to ride home when I saw Tony F and Pat K. I had to turn around! Plus the other direction was a tailwind!

We had a blast talking, sprinting up the rollers. But then I cracked. My climbing muscles were fatigued and I got dropped on every climb. I would have to TT on all the flat to catch back up. And then I bonked on top of the fatigue! Pat and Tony are in great shape, it was so fun to ride with them again. They were nice enough to nurse me back to the bridge. I think they gave each other a high-five and shouted "Kentucky!" when I left. Score one for Dixie.

Sunday I asked for second helpings. After watching the leaders of the Flying Pig marathon, Bjet and I met up with Joe and Rachel for another ride on Route 8W. I nearly turned around for home because I was feeling like garbage. But after a few hours of spinning and great conversation I was feeling 70% better. I was a total wanker on a climb up to Finke's Goetta and attacked. But Joe grabbed my wheel. I tried again and Joe laughed as he spanked me. Sweeeeeeet. Too bad there were no Goetta sandwhiches ready.

On the way home Bjet and I were still looking for more Mohican miles so we were going to hit the bike path. We bumped into Mike S. and he was looking fresh. Just the kickstart I needed! I love Mike (he's a new addition to BioWheels hurray!) and some more great conversation was had. We turned up Kuglar and I think I started crying once we hit the upper steep sections! I was on the ropes again and dropped. We rode Spooky Hollow and Blome too, it was great to have the challenge because I am going to have to get used to climbing with tired legs during the Mohican 100.

The photo above is an actual Holga, I was on the back of a paceline a couple years ago and couldn't resist snapping a pic...