Thursday, June 30, 2011

Riding like a King

It's not everyday that a boy from Ohio gets to ride up the side of a mountain and touch the clouds. The King's-Castle trail was also nearby to our vacation home. It's a 7 mile trail where you meander up the side of the mountain, check out the view from the top and fly back down all within a beautiful old-growth forest!

Checking out the view just of another mountain. Little did we know we were just below the cloud line ourselves. I wish we rode on a clear day — I read there are views of the 3 Sisters (mountains) from the top.

Bjet taking a Senior Picture style portrait on our way up. She had a tough day, she forgot her mountain bike shoes and was stuck with the platform pedals on the rental Nishiki. I was lucky and had a blast climbing up the mountain. I was daydreaming that if I lived there I would timetrial to the top and down all the time!

Unfortunately we had to wake up early and ride before we returned the bikes. We did not get up early enough and were forced to turn around on a fire road before the summit. I hate not reaching the summit, but the early birds get the worm and get to munch it down on top a mountain like a beaked version of Julie Andrews... Follow?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Soul Riding along the McKenzie River

Between Eugene and Bend there is a paradise land called the McKenzie River. It is in the Willamette National Forest. It is pure and vast. And it is home to a 26 mile off-road trail that features long, flowy sections guiding you to Oregon's Wonders — waterfalls, lava fields, 100 ft tall pine trees and a vast rolling river flowing with pure water from the tips of the Cascade mountains. Whomever designed this trail was a genius.

Unfortunately our appreciation of the trail was limited to the junker bikes we rented nearby. I had a Nishiki and Bjet had a Mongoose, but they were probably entry level bikes with a spring rear suspension and components made from lead. The Nishiki looked like it went through a war, fortunately I could get clipless pedals on the Mongoose for Bjet.

The trail was super fast and flowy through a beautiful forest next to the rolling rapids of the river. It was great to ride for an hour, then have a quick Clifbar picnic next to the river.

The one downside is that the trail features many bridges. The upside is they make you stop and appreciate the views, but they really aren't ridable unless you are one of those downhiller supermen with no fear. Most of them only have a railing on one side and steps lead up into most of the bridges making it difficult to ride onto the bridge (probably so people don't try to ride and fall off into the water). I kind of wished half of them were easier to ride, because sometimes you had to dismount 3-4 times within a mile.

Overlooking the TrailBridge Reservoir. Unfortunately my foot slipped off the crappy platform pedal while climbing, and I nearly lost my balance and slid down a 100 foot dirt hill! I preferred the view from the trail... We had to turn around just past the reservoir to head back and be with the family. I was surprised at how slow we were, we had to stop and keep checking out the spectacular views and we didn't even get to see the best parts!

I hope to get back there again someday, I found myself wanting to just get lost out there for an entire day riding the whole trail back and forth.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Going to Oregon!

I love Oregon!

Anyplace where I could be gainfully employed bike-delivering handmade local vegan organic gluten-free food from food trucks must be a place I want to be — but actually Pho Lang Thang in Cincy does have a bike messenger so we are catching up).

Our day in Portland:
Saying at the Ace Hotel which will hopefully offer free bikes to get around on
Go to Awesome Cone at 32nd and Division
Unfortunately no bike sharing at the moment, but maybe a pedicab: ((503) 329-2575)

Guides/Pages to Mountain Biking

Bike Rentals:
It's best to go to Bend to rent bikes, Eugene has no mountain bike rentals
Hutch's seems to rent a variety of bikes, including mountain bikes:

Bike Tours:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another day in Chicago. Only had time for a quick 2 hour ride along the shore. There was still a bit of fog and haze but the harbor looked lovely.

I found a cool installation of Shephard Fairey murals under an overpass, they were in the style of album covers. I really liked the simplicity of the circular device within a repeating square — it was interesting to see diverse messaging and imagery treated in a uniform fashion.

I also noticed some new school rental bikes at a docking station, cool! They are
part of a bike share program called Chicago B Cycle — which is expanding bike share programs across the country.

Once I got back up north i noticed a cool fence in my sister's neighborhood — it was made of bike frames!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Seeing my sister in Chicago. It was a nice riding along the lake shore. My legs felt great, I was really flying but I had to slow often because there were several running events happening along the Lake Front Trail. This girl was about the same speed as me, so we rode together for awhile. I love that about cycling, I can travel along and meet a complete stranger and pass the time having a chat. She was pretty fast — she was keeping up with me despite flat pedals and a vintage steel frame with wide tires. We rode down to Soldier Field when my rear tire exploded, I think I rolled over some glass.

Then I rode back up through the city, Dearborn to Clark. I was motorpacing in traffic and having a great time hauling ass getting some race fitness when I hit a mean pothole and flatted a second time. Conveniently it was close to a Swedish bakery where I refueled and met some other cyclists who directed me to Johnny Sprockets. The other cyclists were really nice guys and offered a ton of route suggestions.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Retro jersey day! What a perfect night for a trail ride - it's sunny, cool and the trails are in great shape. We have our dog Kona with us, and we're hanging with our friends.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recovery makes you stronger!

Sometimes I get so caught up in my training, sometimes I'm just having loads of fun, but I can really wear myself down. This happened for the second straight year just before Mohican.

I guess May arrived, the sun came out, it was Bike Month and I started bike commuting like crazy. I was having fun. I felt good. Until I didn't. I made sure I was eating a ton and sleeping but sometimes too much is just too much!

I feel the need for speed so I have to start working on some intervals getting ready for the cross country mountain bike races. I'm going to keep up the cross training with some running, weights and core but I will make sure I fully rest 1-2 days a week. I'll have a little ADD because some of the cross training is for Cyclocross, and I will also have to keep an eye on my miles with the late summer Endurance races in mind.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Couldn't resist taking the Tin Lizzy for a spin and a lunch picnic on the river.

I bought my "Tin Lizzy" Huffy Sportsmen 3-Speed for $10 at a garage sale. I just wanted something to kick around on, maybe leave at work or use for chill commutes to dinner dates.

Well it turns out that it was a 2-for-1 sale. My Tin Lizzy is also an Ant Farm. Evidently ants have made a colony inside the handlebars, crawling through the little holes in the grips! I'm riding to the bus stop this morning and look down to see over 20 ants crawling all over my hand! Some carrying their eggs. I was pretty uncool about it and waved my hand like crazy. I least I didn't smash them, and I was cool enough NOT to scream.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mohican Post Game Analysis

This year I felt 1000 times better than last year's race in the mud. But there were a few things I felt could have made me a smidge better:

1. Running Hills: Calves got a bit sore even though I've been running. So I would walk flat-footed up the hills to stretch the calf muscles. Next year perhaps do more hill sprints or extended hikes up steep grades.

2. Practice pits: Took a bit long (sometimes socializing) at the aid stations. Next year I could practice my routine: 1. filling bottles (then topping off with a squirt of the Infinit concentrate), 2. pop some Enduralites, 3. lube chain, 4. quick stretch.

3. THE SECRET WEAPON BOTTLE! I borrowed an idea from my teammate Brian. He creates a bottle of thick Infinit "gel". I did it this year but here's how I could execute this idea better: after measuring the quantity of servings I need in the bottle, use a marker and some math to make tick marks on the side of the CLEAR bottle so I can see how much I am squirting out.

4. Even more core work. I felt strong this year, but I think I could have used even more all-around strength.

5. Recover more! Too much rising going into the event tapped me out.

How I fared physically:
Core & Back: My back did not get sore until about the 8th hour, the Pilates and weight I did helped. Although I feel I could have done more, I felt a smidge hunched over and would prefer to keep less weight off the hands.

Neck: Sore, was it from the wreck? Looking up?

Arms: Triceps got a little tired late in the race, need to beef up the guns!

Feet: New shoes really helped, worked on my pedal stroke (I could have worked a bit more on it) to keep me from mashing.

Hands: I should have bought some gloves, although my hands felt way better than last year. A sore started to develop on top of my palms. Using Ritchie grips, I've tried Ergons and either my hands go numb or they don't—it doesn't matter what kind of grip. Weird huh?

1 bottle of Infinit (custom mix) per hour, 1 gel every 2 hours (GU Chocolate Mint and Blueberry Pomegranate Roctanes), Hammer Anti-Fatigue caps and extra water at Aid Stations. The Secret Weapon Bottle had 5 servings of Infinit in it, I could put even more in next year.

Aid Station 1: Refilled my 2 bottles with the gel bottle, Gu shot, Anti-Fatigue caps, stretched and lubed...

Aid Station 2: Spent way too much time trying to find a bandage, but I got a lot of water and made sure I topped off my nutrition.

Aid Station 3: Refilled all three bottles, the gel bottle had just enough to serve as a third bottle for the 28 miles between the Aid Stations. Really socialized waaaay too long.

• We got some extra Gatoraid at the top of a climb in the woods

Aid Station 4: 3 baggies of Infinit and a couple more gels were waiting for me. Mixed up the last of my bottles. I was sure this would last me the rest of my race and it did!

Aid Station 5: Filled 1 bottle with water for insurance, but it wasn't needed...

Aid Station 6: Skipped it!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Post-Mohican recovery break... A little golf with the family. I am terrible! Actually I was getting a little peeved I was so bad — I was passable as a golfer in high school. Well, no practice makes you pretty bad!

Between the golf and walking the dog, I've still got a lot of active time under the sun.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The hubby-wife mtb train came back tonight at the E-I mtb tt. I think we got the same time! Did someone say new sunglasses?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Race #76: Stubbornness is a Virtue

Photos by Jen Farmer

An epic tale of my first 100 mile mountain bike race in the scenic Mohican 100, where I endured the longest ride of my life (so far).

Thursday night I went to Norwood Chiropractic, where Dr. Yost worked out a huge knot in my right quad! Overall my legs were fried from my muddy race win the weekend before. This is the second time they have rescued my from the disable list and got me back to the start line.

On Friday, Bridget, Joe and I reconned the first 8 miles. It's critical to know what's coming at you, and how to react as you weave your way through the early traffic of a mountain bike race. I went for a second warmup ride later with Mark, I wanted to keep the blood running through my legs, repairing the damage.

Teammate Kris "Karwash," the 100 miler veteran, gave me a great pep talk where he told me to keep my chin up and never give up. He said I would want to quit 5 times, but not to listen to that voice because coming over the finish line is so rewarding. He also said to stay within yourself and only start really racing at the end — something I was glad to hear because I was worried all week my legs wouldn't make it to the end.

We had to wake up at 5:30 for the 7am start! I ate some rolled oats and flax, drank a sip of coffee and downed a gel — threw the leg over the saddle and headed to the startline. My legs were still feeling a bit stiff but it takes a while to warm up the engine some days. It was a 10 minute ride to the start and I added a few sprints at the end to get ready for the start.

I modeled some sexy poses at the startline and tried to relax, this may be the toughest day of my life (on a bike). The gun went off, but I kept it conservative waiting for my legs to come around. The beginning of these races is always a mess with tons of traffic as hundreds of riders find themselves gridlocked on what most would call a single-track hiking trail.

I stayed relaxed and eventually found myself with some good riders with similar abilities and matching speed. My legs were warmed up and the trail was so fun. Actually, my legs felt really great! The massage from Dr. Yost worked miracles!

If you like to mountain bike and haven't been there, the Mohican State Forest offers some lovely riding with beautiful scenery and some fun roller coaster trails that allow you to go really fast on a bike (thus not allowing you to enjoy the scenery). My average speed with all the hills was 10.7 mph. I couldn't wait to hit the road sections and really beat my target time of 10 hours. I was on the back of the group of riders and feeling really great when it happened...

My chain snapped! I was going around a corner with a steep uphill when suddenly my feet were spinning without resistance. At first I thought it just dropped. But upon further inspection I realized that was the key component of my drive train dragging behind my bike!

That was when I remembered I did not have and extra chain pin or a Sram Quick Link... That was a bit stupid of me! Was my day over? I had two options: 1. act like a total baby and throw my bike down a hill and have a complete meltdown or 2. put on my big boy panties and behave like an adult and calmly solve the problem. I must admit that many times I have chosen option 1, but for some reason I was really calm. Kris's pep talk was working!

Somehow I fixed it (I am a horrible mechanic). I kept channeling a calm energy and patiently went about removing a couple links and re-smashing a pin back into place. I watched as the end of my race passed, then the leaders of the 100 kilometer race began to pass. I think I lost 10 minutes or so.

I rolled out of the aid station about 15 minutes off my targeted time. That was when I saw teammate Karwash crushing it. Dude was weaving through people like a pro so I jumped on his wheel for a moment. He got past a few people and I got stuck behind a guy who took 10 years to get over a log (it's called cyclocross buddy, look it up). I refilled my bottle with Infinit, lubed my chain to prevent more chain suck/breakage and did a security stretch of my legs.

I sped up again hoping to catch my teammate and get back on track with my target time. I was flying down a downhill when suddenly I became aware that my hand was no longer on my handbars and...

I had a high speed Endo (end-over or when you go flying headfirst over the handlebars). It was so fast. When my hand came loose (I have no clue if I relaxed it for a second or some liquid — possibly pee — on my grip made it slippery).

My head hit the ground, my neck twisted and my knee felt like it was on fire. I started screaming curses and bloody murder! I thought I broke my neck, then I realized I could move it. I was seeing millions on little green, blue, yellow and purple dots. "I must have a concussion." Then I looked at my knee. My chain ring, that thing that looks like a saw blade, ripped a hole on the inside of my right knee. The would was already sticking out a few inches and white. "How long have I been on the ground? Did I black out?" Looking at it I started screaming bloody murder even more. "Did I just tear my ACL? Do I need knee surgery?" Someone could hear the crash and the screams and yelled if I was okay. I yelled yes... I don't know why.

My day must be over. It was only 1 mile back to Aid Station 1, I could just turn around and DNF. My teammate Joe passed me and asked if I was okay. I said yes again. I then gently lifted myself back on my bike and pointed it towards Aid Station 2. I could pedal this off right? Kris's pep talk now became my mantra.

I caught up with Joe and we rolled together for awhile. It was nice to have his wheel on the downhills, otherwise I would have been prone to feel scared and lay on the brakes.

I rolled in and a couple volunteers at the Buckhaven Hunting Lodge were really helpful as we washed out and applied a bandage to my knee. I was joking about duct tape, but we actually used camo duct tape to keep the bandage on! All my teammates came past and checked in on me. I took forever to get back on the bike, but I didn't want to rush out of there too quickly and cause another disaster.

Well, I was back at it and feeling pretty good. I was riding with some really cool people (one was a father-to-be from Cleveland who rode for ChamoisButter, another 100 miler veteran) and making up some time on the roads. I was still riding pretty conservative, using the granny gear on all the uphills. I just crested a hill and was on a flat when...

Chain break number 2! I was an idiot and was trying to go fast — forgetting that I was still in the granny and I was cross-chaining! Oops!

At this point some of the zen I was feeling disappeared. I was a little pissed, I didn't want to go back home and face people telling them I did not complete what I had set out to do. I knew how to fix it so I did it again. The only question, how many more times was it going to break? How many hours would it take me to complete the race? Did I have enough food?

I was kind of thinking how lucky the Pros in the Tour de France are, with a car full of brand new bikes that follow them and they instantly get service when their bike breaks. That kind of reminded me of Eugène Christophe and how he lost the 1913 Tour de France spending hours repairing bis bike, acting as a blacksmith repairing his own steel fork because it was illegal in those days to ask for assistance. How lucky the current guys are! And wow, we are kind of like these men of yesteryear.

I caught Joe again going into the Aid Station. He was flying before but now he looked like steam was coming out of his radiator. My heart was breaking for him, he looked incredible going into this race and I was really hoping he was going to set a personal record for himself. He ended up not finishing because he had pushed himself too hard for too long.

I took waaaaay too long at this aid station. But seeing my friends, other racers as well as their wives who were helping at the aid station, was really therapeutic. It was nice to share a laugh for a second. I saw Bridget as she came in, and I told her about my terrible day and for her not to worry — that this may take awhile!

It was 26 miles between Aid Stations 3 and 4. Anything could go wrong and I could run out of food, water and energy. But I was lucky. The miles flew by. And so did the bandage on my knee. It came off and the would was left exposed to mud and dirt, blood covering my top tube. A volunteer at the Aid Station provided me with iodine and a clean bandage. I was so happy to have it cleaned out.

The rest of the day was so easy. My nutrition was perfectly planned and my hydration was spot on with the help of all the volunteers. My legs felt great due to training, diligent nutrition leading up to the event and Dr. Yost's miracle massage. I was thankful for the 100 mile time trials I did, and the stubborn 6:30 hilly ride I forced myself to complete in the pouring rain. I was training my capacity to endure pain.

I settled in and enjoyed the scenery. It was so hilly and scenic. I passed farms, oil wells, horses playing with donkeys (funny), Amish kids playing while watching the race. At one point a raced an Amish buggy and won. I went through the campground at Mohican Wilderness and this kid asked me if I was winning. I said no. I should have said yes because he was really hoping I was the winner!

My head still felt a bit sore from the impact, and my knee almost stopped bleeding. I felt great, still really fresh, until I hit the final single track. My back finally started to get sore, my arm muscles fatigued too. I think I stopped drinking my fuel to hurry to the end and I came across the line a little out of steam.

I was really far behind my target time at Aid Station 3. But I really rallied in the final 54 miles and I ended up finishing in 10 hours and 35 minutes. Only 35 minutes past my target time. I wonder how I would have done without the disasters? I could have also pushed myself too hard and blown up. Having the disasters allowed me to relax.

It was so great to see all my friends again! I grabbed some grub and water. I even ate a second meal, then I had a Great Lakes beer with my friends before crashing in bed. Kris was right, it was all worth it. I am so glad I finished.

I want to say thank you to all the volunteers: the police officers that ensure our safe crossing of busy roads, the volunteers that save us at aid stations — and Ryan the race promoter, he might be a bit of a sadist but he reveals our full potential with an incredible course!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My first Mohican 100 miler: Finish line photo

Photo by Joe Bellante

Done! 2 broken chains and a major crash — my knee has a chain ring incision in it! But not too bad, I rode a 10:35.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Super Saturday Preview

In some ways Saturday's 100 mile Mohican Mountain Bike race is like my Super Bowl (maybe it's this race, then I get a second Super Bowl with the final double-points CX race). A month ago I was having mini panic attacks just thinking about it. Memories of last year's muddy epic where I physically and mentally fell apart still haunt me. This will be my third NUE event. But I still feel like pretty new and not like I have everything figured out.

So something snapped a month ago and I realized I just have to chill. Go out and have a fun time and just pedal the bike. I was feeling better. I got my nutrition worked out with Infinit — I was totally dialed in!

But Murphy's Law happened. I pulled a muscle in my right quad at last week's race. And my bike has been chain-sucking like crazy. And I might be running low on Infinit because I forgot to reorder. It will probably all be fine — life is never perfect. That's why we race, because a life without obstacles is not worth living.

If you are reading this there is a good possibility that you are my homie and I will see you up there. I hope everything going great and I can't wait to see you at the finish!

Goal Times:

Grade A+++
9:00, 11.11 mph avg (This would be if Mohican was as "easy" as Cohutta)

Grade A
9:30, 10.53 mph avg

Grade A - (This is my target time)
10:00, 10 mph avg

Grade B
10:30; 9.5 avg
11:00, 9mph avg (just a tad faster than last week's muddy Butler MTB race)
11:40, 8.57 mph avg (same as last year's pace)
12:00 There's a very real possibility that I could be out there that long!

Grade D
DNF: Hopefully the quad heals and my bike stays in one piece!

Aid Station Times for Target Time of 10 Hours:

Aid Station 1 (20mi): 2:00:00
Aid Station 2 (34mi): 3:24:00
Aid Station 3 (46mi): 4:36:00 (better load up here with an extra bottle)
Aid Station 4 (72mi): 7:12:00
Aid Station 3 again (80mi): 8:00:00
Aid Station 5 (92mi): 9:10:00 (hopefully a top off of water if needed)

I'm planning to stretch my legs, maybe lube the chain and mix up 2 bottles Infinit at each aid station (hopefully this won't take too long). Since it will probably be hot I might have an extra water/heed bottle in my back pocket). I'm hoping to have some security Gels, about 1 per hour if needed (12-ish).

The good news is, according to a GPS file the race is only 95 miles with 8,500 feet of climbing. I thought it was 100 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing. That makes it waaaaaay easier!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Last weekend's race at General Butler park brought back a lot of old memories. I followed Bridget around in 2003, watching all the races and trail running a bit to get better pictures in the woods.

Actually I pulled out Rilo Kiley's "Take Offs and Landings" album a couple weeks ago and it also brought back memories of driving to Tower Park in 2002, where my fat ass would endo downhill on all the switchbacks!

I love how cycling can connect us to our friends, and to nature and sometimes to society. I'm so thankful for all the wonderful things I've seen from a bike seat.