Monday, May 29, 2006

Training Log

Deer Lakes Loop 4.76 miles - interval training

5-29-06 41 minutes (3 rests)

ridetime: 35 min.

avg speed 7.8

6-7-063 36:51 (3 rests)

ridetime: 32

avg speed 6.59

6-13-06 34:27 (1 rest)

other details not available

7-27-06 30 min. approx. (1 brief rest) - all middle chain ring!!

ridetime 24:49

avg. speed 6.72

8-17-06 32:45 (2 brief rest)

ridetime 31:43

avg. speed 9.25

32 minutes

30 minutes (actually timed with a real stopwatch for a change, done with dos niner)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

WVMBA - Tour de Lake

The Tour de Lake race was in Spencer, W.V. It was a 3.5 hour drive down, but I listened to Harry Potter, and it went quickly. Arrived about an hour and a half early. Pre-rode about 4 miles of the trail to warm up. Trail seemed fairly dry in spite of the rain the last several days. The race would be 18 miles. I knew this was about 6 miles more than I was used to, and with the hills in West Virginia, I knew I was in for a challenge.

We all lined up on the dirt road near the parking lot. The experts in front, sport next, and beginners behind us. Experts went off, and then two minutes later we went. The race started on an old paved road and quickly went up a twisting very steep climb. Because of the pre-ride, I actually passed a few people up this climb as I knew which gear was good for me. The road then leveled out as it went through another parking lot. I then took a hard right and went up another steep climb, not on dirt. Many people were off their bike immediately. But I got right behind another rider and we both rode 3/4 of the hill, passing many people. I was feeling really good and quite impressed with myslef - this would be shortlived. Pushed the bike for a little bit, then jumped back on.

The trail went through some fields before diving back into the woods for some single track. Again the preride paid off as there were a number of logs and small bridge/ramps to go over. I got through this section pretty quickly and had a nice pace going. And then... down I went. Trying to ride over some roots that slanted from right to left down the incline of the hill, my bike just slid right off. I jumped back up, but about four people rode past me. Back on the bike, I continued on.

Unfortuantely I slipped about a half dozen more times, each time falling and letting racers go past me. I was hoping that I would be able to pass some riders soon. Then I saw a rider off his bike. He was in one of the "gulley" that we had to ride through. These gulleys basically went down steep into where small streams were coming off the hilltops. We then had to make a sharp turn and quickly back up a short steep climb. Many peope were mis-negotiating the gulley, myself included. As I passed the rider, I asked if he was ok. He said his day was one, he had broken his seatpost. He was stading there with seat in hand. I thought what a horrible thing, just start your race and within the first five miles your race day was done. Later in the race, I would wish that I could've been that guy.

The good news: with my new stem my back problems were rather minimal. The bad news: I continued to slip, slide, and wreck on the slippery roots. Each time, riders would go by. The first lap was about 10-12 miles long, but it was feeling as if it were 50 miles. The single track just kept going and going. About mile 7, I had an epiphany. The reason I was slipping so much was probably because I had too much air in my tires. The high pressure was allowing me to ride faster on the smooth fast sections, but unfortunately there weren't a lot of those sections. I pulled over and let some air out of the tires. The roots were not much of a problem after that. Hard lesson learned.

As the race continued, I rarely saw a rider. Luckily that meant no one was passing me, but I was not catching up to anyone. Finally I head downhill into a clearing and see the boy scouts there with water. I didn't really need the water as I had pre-hydrated the last two days, but it at least looked as if the scouts weren't packing up to leave, so I knew I wasn't the last one to go through.

Quickly the trail headed back into the woods and up a very steep hill. Exhausted, I pushed my bike to the top. I then jumped back on my bike and continued on. The trail continued to go on forever. Occasionally I thought I had gotten on the wrong trail, but I'd see the markers and realize I was still on track. Several times I had to get off my bike to push over logs or up steep inclines. Twice I got really light-headed from the exertion that the course demanded.

Finally! I caught up to another rider. I had seen him way off in the distance, and finally passed him. He looked as if he were about to collapse. I knew exactly how he felt.

I started seeing people on the race course watching for riders. I knew I must be at the end of the first lap. I descended a little technical section which dumped me on the finish line chute. I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, I should've ended up back near the original parking lot to do my second lap. I rode to the finish line and told one of the judges. He looked at his watch. I'm not sure you have time to do the second lap, he informed me. I checked my stopwatch. It had take my 1:45 to do the first 10 miles. I had 8 more miles to go, which would've taken me another hour and a half (perhaps two hours as my pace had dropped significantly). With the advice of the race official, I decided to end my race right there.

I was somewhat disappointed that I didn't complete the race, but there were many factors: my pace had dropped quite a bit (I realized later this was due to all of the early wrecks, they had taken so much out of me, but I hadn't realized it), it was starting to rain, it was getting late in the afternoon and I still had a long ride home, and I had gotten lightheaded twice. I think it was the smart choice, but it didn't prevent me from being disappointed.

Lessons learned. I need to get a new floor pump so that I can tell what my tire pressure is. On slick days I need to run lower pressure to increase my tire traction. Wrecks take a lot out of you, physically. Even though I never really got hurt from the spills, my energy had been sapped. I need to ride more intervals. I have the endurance to ride the miles, but I don't have the leg power to keep a fast pace. I really belong in beginner division, but I am glad I'm in sport, it's forcing me to ride harder than I would no my own.

My real goal are the races coming in the fall. So I need to take all of these early lessons, and apply them to the month of mud series.

Anyway, the race series in W.V. has been a blast. Very nice people, races are well-organized and run efficiently, and I have learned a tremendous amount.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

WVMBA - Tomlinson Run

This week's race was at Tomlinson Run State Park. Not far from where I used to work, Linsly Outdoor Center.

Picked my bike up from the shop on the Saturday before the race. They had to fix my rear pivot, dang bike is a lot of problems. Good news, Gary Fisher will be sending me a new rear triangle! Anyway, had to test out pivot and shifting, did a quick five miles around North Park. All seemed to be good, but I was going slow. Found out they had "adjusted" my rear disc brake; it had been rubbing the whole ride. Adjusted it, all good.

Sunday morning out of the house by around 8:30 and arrived at Tomlinson around 9:30. Registered and then noticed that the race director was an old client from the outdoor center. Small world. Warmed up a little bit, went to pre-race meeting, and then to starting line.

The premise: sport riders would have 75 minutes to complete as many laps as possible. If you crossed the line at 74 minutes, you could go ahead and do another lap. If you crossed at 75.01, you were done.

Experts started, and then we sport riders were released one minute later. The start was about a 400 yard spring on pavement before going uphill into some single track. As we approached the single track an expert rider went down hard, blowing out his front tire. What a horrible start for him.

We all got jammed into the single track, and we were off our bikes pushing already. The first part of the race was a gradual 1/2 mile uphill. I rode most of it, but had to get off occasionally for traffic jams and muddy conditions. Trail leveled off and then shortly went uphill again.

Huff, huff, off pushing the bike up some steep muddy hills. Some people passing me, and me passing some people. Lots of people taking spills. I was now happy that I had put on my mud tires. They were heavy, but I had no problem with traction on the downhills. A lot of the spills were from people who had left their race tires on.

Some nice descents, not very technical, and not much room to pass. Dump on to a paved road, and then back up hill into the woods. Over some homemade bridges. Not too slick, surprisingly. Another good downhill and then onto a longer stretch of pavement.

That's when it hit me. My back was not hurting (well not too much)! I had raised my handlebars a bit and moved my saddle up. What a nice surprise. Back into single track along a creek. I knew we were coming to the finish line soon. Short steep uphill, and then to the finish line. I crossed and looked at my watch. Grrr, my stopwatch had accidentally been stopped.

I estimated that I did the first lap in 37 minutes. To be able to do a third lap, I would have to finish my second lap in 38 minutes, I think. I decided to push it as hard as I could.

The start of the second lap went pretty well. Made it up some hills I hadn't been able to the first lap. But I was tired!! Pushing the bike up the steep hills was taking a toll. About half way through the experts began passing me. One expert rode beside me for a while. A couple of logs came. I pulled up my front wheel, and then my rear wheel, losing a little bit of speed. The expert had instead just jumped his whole bike over the logs in one "hop," losing no time at all. I stayed with him on the descent, and the he easily pulled away on the next hill. I'm getting better, but I don't have close to enough power.

Halfway through an older rider passed me, a short bit later I passed him. It went on this way for miles. We had similar pace, so we stayed together most of the second lap. We dumped out on the second stretch of road and I pulled away from him. Quickly though, he passed me easily. I found out later he was 65, and an avid road rider. What an inspiration.

Toward the last two miles I saw a rider ahead of me. I worked hard over the next half mile to catch him. One mile to go, and I was right on his tail. I had been overtaking people on the descents, and I knew one was coming up. We passed a picnic grove moved into the trees and then suddenly he did a U turn. He missed the trail, and I had been so focused on staying with him, I missed it also. Grrrr.

Back into the woods and up the short steep hill to the finish. Finished right behind the "lost" rider. But then they told me to pull over, I had just missed the 75 minute cut-off. I really knew it would be hard to do the second lap as quickly as needed. But I felt good that I had given it my all. And after all it is only May.

Hung out at the finish line and talked with a bunch of people. Talked with the winners of the sport class and vet sport class (my class). Very cool guys, and gave me some good insight. They were both road riders that had moved into mountain biking. Also talked to the older rider. I hope at that age I can still be racing. Everyone was talking about the snake on the trail that had been coiled to strike. Ironically, I never saw it.

Still waiting for the official results to be posted. I really am interested to see how close I was to making the cut-off.

Monday, May 1, 2006

WVMBA - Big Bear

First mountain bike race of the season. I'd only done a handful of races last season, didn't have a lot of prior training, just riding a bunch of trails in the area. This winter was an easy one, so I was able to ride my road or mountain bike at least twice a week throughout the winter. Didn't really follow any plan, just tried to ride as much and as far as I could depending on the weather and my initiative. I lost about 15 pounds last year, and was able to keep it off during the winter. Also, I'm 43 and you know, that weight just like to come off as easily.

My goals for racing: to try and stay in shape, not get hurt, have fun, and not finish last.

Back to my first race of the season. Woke up early Sunday morning, had some oatmeal and started on the drive to West Virgina. About two hours later I arrived at the second race of the WVMBA series held at Big Bear Lake. I signed up for the sport 35+ vet category. Last year I raced as a beginner. Most of those races were about 10 miles long. This race would be 14.7 miles long with much faster racers.

I took a pre-ride to warm up some, something I never did last year. Did some stretching, and then sat around way too long for the start of the race, they had moved back the start time by 30 minutes, grr.

Lined up at the starting line, there were about 175 people in all categories, all waiting to start. Experts went off first, then sport category went off about a minute later. We started with about a mile and a half of road. This helped us spread out some, but as soon as we entered into the woods, we plunged into single-track riding and abruptly came to a screeching stop. Some of the less-experienced riders got bogged down at some "technical" areas. After about a mile things cleared up a bit. Mostly because there was a really steep hill (I did say we were in West Virginia) and I quickly got off my bike and started pushing. I noticed last year that it took me about 4-5 miles to warm up, and today was no exception. At least I wasn't alone pushing my bike, most of the sport riders were pushing.

I hooked up with a group of riders about my ability. I was able to hang with them for a while, until my right lower back started cramping up. It was a problem I had last year on these longer rides, but I thought I had stretched and strengthened enough this winter. But alas, I think it's that I need to tweak my bike set-up some more.

Anyway, my back was cramping bad, tried to stretch it while on the bike but it wasn't enough. So I had to dismount and stretch my back out. Probably lost at least a minute doing this. Meanwhile, my small group of riders continued on. I thought I'd catch them, but couldn't close the gap. About 2 miles later had to get off and stretch again.

About half way into the race I got in to a nice pace (except for my back problem) I had a decent speed going. Legs were tired but the lungs felt pretty good. I wasn't passing anyone, but the good news, no one was passing me either.

The trail at the top of the climb had some rolling hills, and I crossed over an old airstrip by going over a very odd looking "bridge." Half way up the bridge, I hoped that I was really supposed to be on it, as it's rickety state did not provide me with any confidence.

Back into the woods, and then down the backside of the mountain. About a mile's worth of downhill awaited me. There were a bunch of rocks, but my new bike cruised right through it. I have five inches of travel in the front and back, compared to the 2.5 inches I had last year. The new travel allowed me to just pick a line and go and not really have to worry much, what a great feeling. I felt like perhaps I was gaining on the racers in front of me, making good time. When I reached the bottom of the hill I took a bad line and ended up in a mud bog and had to dismount. Worse, one of the women riders went flying by me. Well so much for me thinking I had made great time down the hill.

Back to some uphill sections, made most of them but had to get off occasionally to stretch, losing more time, grrrr. Hit the top of another "hill" and saw a rider not too far in front. I pushed it for about a half mile and saw a water station. The rider was off his bike drinking some water. He looked like he was exhausted. I finally passed someone! I left the fire road and entered into some beautiful pines with "bank" turns. What a great section. Then I headed downhill.

This downhill must have been over a mile long, and rocky!!!! But once again my bike proved up to the task. I was in a groove, just cleaning the downhill rocky sections with no problems. I ended up passing two other riders who had to pull over due to the technical aspect. Well into the downhill I experienced something new. My arms were actually getting tired from such a long descent. I had done a lot of weights over the winter, thankfully!! But still my arms were wasted. The downhill section dumped into an old creekbed. Not much water in it, but a lot more bigger rocks. Got through most of it, barely and onto a fire road.

I heard a rider gaining on me a little bit into the fire road. He yelled up that he wasn't racing, just going from one monitor station to another.

"How are you doing?" he inquired

"Well , I'm still riding, so I guess I'm ok, " I replied.

"What category are you racing? Clydesdales?"

Arghhhhhhhhhhhh, the clydesdales. It's the category for riders over 200 pounds. I guess I look heavier when compared to the anorexic expert racers, but not THAT heavy.

After I let the rider pass, I tried to get past that traumatic experience and finish the race. I figured I had about 2 miles left. I tried to push it as much as I could, but had to get off a couple more times to stretch the back. Got back in a groove and pedaled hard around the dam and back into the woods. Suddenly in front of me I saw that the trail was to cross a creek bed. There were a lot of long thick branches stacked in the bottom of it to act as a bridge. There was about a foot drop off that I barely saw as I got close, not enough time to pull of the front end so I just rode through it. Bang! Wow, I hit the bridge hard, surprised that I rode out of it without breaking the bike or myself. Passed a judge shortly and mentioned to him that I hit that bridge hard. "I know, I could hear you from here."

Felt someone behind me, saw the finish line. I pushed to the end and kept the rider behind me. Realizing it was a woman that wouldn't have been in my category anyway. Ah well.

Post race. My legs were exhausted!! My lungs felt not too bad. My back was screaming, my arms were very tired (never experienced that before) and my neck was starting to tighten. I ended up in 30th place in my division - last place except from the riders who did not finish. Had I not had to get off my bike to stretch my back I think I would've finished about 5-8 places better. As it was I finished in a time of 2:11.07.

Lessons learned: I need to train more, lose more weight, or both. I need to adjust my bike setup so that I don't have the back problem (didn't have this problem with my old bike). My carb packing pre race was good, the oatmeal was a good breakfast. I had 3 gel packs in the 14.7 miles, that was about right.

Overall, I really enjoyed the loop, the people were friendly, weather was great, and if I can get rid of the back pain, I'll really be looking forward to the next race.