Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Training in Decorah

Earlier in the year, Ben Shockey put together plans for a weekend of long hard rides in the Decorah area. Since I wasn't going to Tuscon this year, I thought that this would be a good way to kick up my training for this year's endurance calendar. I sent an email off to Ben and reserved a space for the weekend. Out of the eight or ten takers, only three ended up making the trip: Drew Wilson, Kent Carlson, and me. Kent and I drove up on Thursday morning and arrived at Ben's early in the afternoon. After a quick trip to Decorah bikes to pick up a replacement head and taillights, we headed off to T-Bocks for some pre-ride food. We saw Drew cruise by the bar around 5 PM so we rode the two blocks back to Ben's to meet him.

Local rider Gunner showed up on his Fargo and we headed out from Ben's at 6PM for what turned out to be a 30-35 mile ride. There were a couple of decent sized hills along the way, but for the most part, it was a mellow affair with total of about 2.5 hours of ride time. We got back, headed out to get some stuff for Friday's breakfast, spent some time just BS-ing, and then headed to bed.

Friday morning came and I awoke to the sounds of Ben banging pans full of bacon, hash browns and sausage on the stove. A good way to start the morning. After a breakfast we loaded up and met Gunner downstairs and headed out for a gravel metric to Harmony, MN. The first few miles were an easy pavement warm up and then we hit the first of many miles of wet, but still somewhat firm gravel. Ben threw in some beautiful scenery and gently rolling hills along the Upper Iowa river as well as a couple of brutal climbs to make sure that we remembered where we were at. The final few miles going out were spent cruising through Minnesota Amish country, including a couple of passing buggys, and plenty of wheel tracks along the side of the road. After a quick food stop, we headed back along the same route. The east wind had shifted to the south during our ride and was now our companion for remainder of the day. Big downhills became slow grinds on the way back, with one hill in particular possessing a dreadful combination of steepness and fresh loose gravel. Kent, Ben and Drew were machines on their single speeds and trying to match their pace was causing me to burn a lot of matches both physically and mentally. It didn't take me long to let them ride off and settle into a more comfortable pace and "ride my ride". My mood improved dramatically after that. The rest of my ride included some stops for photos and a lot of taking in the sights more so than having my nose to the grindstone. I finished the ride alone, but maybe only 30 minutes after everyone else. After a shower and a quick bite to eat, we hung out for a bit and then went out for more food and a couple of beers. A huge plate of pasta hit the spot and soon we were back at Ben's and prepping for Saturday's 100 mile suffer fest.

We got up early on Saturday morning for breakfast so we could leave at 7 AM sharp. We headed north from Ben's place, across the river and right up the wall known as Quarry Hill road. I let the fast guys ride off ahead and settled into a comfortable pace up the hill. At the top, we were greeted with a stiff north wind and blowing rain. I could tell this was gonna be a long day as my back had already had a couple of small spasms on the way up Quarry hill. About 15 miles in I decided to pull the plug. The route was only going to get steeper and it was obvious that my back wasn't going to handle the workout for the day. I ended up following some random roads back into town (some of them I'm sure were on TI v4) and spending the rest of the day hanging out in the bike and coffee shops around town. I went out with Ben's wife to meet the guys around mile 85 at a convenience store and waited for them to finish the ride up. After they returned we hit up the local bars and restaurants for food and drinks to celebrate the weekend of fun.

The decision to go up for the weekend of riding was a good one. The Decorah area is beautiful and challenging to ride in. Having like minded folks that are also strong riders made for a challenging weekend too. We're hoping we can get back for another shot at the century course on a nicer day later this year. Have to see how the schedule works out.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

22.3 @ 16.8

Met up with Blackford, Squirrel and Reagan at Rasmussen's for some Moffit Lake loop action this morning. Only the four of us showed up so we headed out south of town on 63rd. It took about 2 miles for me to figure out that I was gonna get put in the hurt locker. Squirrel and Regan on 23c's and Rick just being Rick this year. Everyone but me on the big ring from the start. I was OTB by the time we hit Park and I stayed there the rest of the day. Once my heart and respiration rates came down out of the stratosphere, I managed to at least keep them in site on the south side of the loop. I looked up to see the three of them passing the turn off and heading out to Moffit Lake. I opted for two loops on my "big" ring and then rode back to the shop. Some guys can go right from the gun and I am not one of them. I really didn't get settled in until the first turn north on the loop. Not a lot I can do about it other than train my body to go harder from the start, or HTFU and play the hand I've been dealt. At least the fenders worked.

Nod to Epon for the post title.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Out with the "old" (and in with the new). IE - FOR SALE

I'm clearing some bikes out of my house. Not because they're broken, or in poor shape, but because these bikes don't fit into the riding I'm discovering that I really enjoy. The first is being sold because it's a size too small for me. If it wasn't for that, I'd probably hang onto it. Due to the size issue, I don't enjoy riding it. The second bike is being sold because it's being replaced with something a little more off-road worthy. It's a solid bike with some nice upgrades and has been well taken care of.

If you fit either of these bikes, leave a comment and lets see if we can make a deal.

1990 Schwinn Paramount
56cm frame
Waterford hand built OS steel frame
Silver and red
Chris King Headset
Dura Ace Brakes
9 Speed Dura Ace drivetrain w Campy ergo shifters
Selle Italia Flite Saddle
American Classic seatpost
Shimano 105 SPD-SL pedals
Weight - 20 lbs
(Photo is with older set of pedals and tires)

Asking $1100. Open to a reasonable offer.

Olive Green Surly Long Haul Trucker

The LHT has been SOLD to a good home.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

CIRREM 2010...a day of Devastation

The tagline for the second running of CIRREM was Hesitation is Devastation. It turned out to be quite appropriate.

I and my house guest, rochester resident Drew Wilson, headed out to the Cumming Tap around 8 AM. We signed in, snagged a plate full of breakfast and socialized before the race started. It was great to see and talk to some folks in person for the first time in almost a year. After a bit of time, I realized that I left both of my water bottles at home. Another racer offered me one of his spare bottles, so I opted to start with one instead of driving back home. The 10 AM start time was nice, if a bit unusual. Typically these events start between 6 and 8 AM. As we were standing around and talking, the little voice in the back of my mind kept saying "You're wasting time. Get out there and ride." The temps were in the mid teens at when arrived, and were slowly climbing every minute that we stood around, making it more and more likely that we were going to end up in some slop along the route.

After some pre-race announcements and thank you's, we took off around 10. I planned to use this race as an early season fitness test, so I opted to stay near the front as long as possible. I pushed it a bit harder than I should have early on, despite knowing that it takes about 8-10 miles of riding for my body to adjust and settle in. I managed to hang with the lead group for the first 5 miles until I decided that I needed to slow down if I expected to finish. I spent the next couple of hours just checking out the scenery and the roads. I had a general idea where we were riding, but I hadn't actually been on any of the roads before. Nothing too eventful, other than spotting Jed a C02 cartridge at the top of one hill. There is a lot of good scenery and roads in this part of the state. Both deserve some additional exploring later this year. After 30 miles of riding, I found my bearings as we rode by near Cedar Bridge County Park north of Winterset. Turning north, I looked at the cue sheet and knew that the toughest part of the ride was about to hit us. Despite that, I shouted out my number as I approached the half way checkpoint and kept riding on.

A mile or so beyond the checkpoint the route started to work it's way up, and my decision to not stop was haunting me. As I climbed out of the saddle, my quads cramped, forcing me back into the saddle to continue the climb. At the top of the first hill, I decided to stop and eat. I realized that I hadn't taken in any food for the first half of the race and it was catching up with me. The food that I had brought with me was either frozen solid or extremely thick. For anyone wondering, Clif Shot Bloks take 10 minutes to go from frozen to chewable once they are in your mouth. By this time a number of the riders I had passed at the checkpoint were also starting to pass me back, so I soldiered on, walking the big hills on both North River Trail and Old Portland Road to give my legs a break. I had a brief exchange with a fellow La Cruz rider that that read my DK 200 account from last year. My 15 minutes of fame I guess.

As we turned back east, the roads were quickly becoming softer and it was obvious that I needed to switch over to survival mode to finish the race. I was out of water as of mile 45 and starting to have issues with changing gears. I finally looked down and noticed the thick layer of frozen crud that had built up on my top tube and seized up my deraileur cables. Stopping briefly to chip that off, I managed to reset my odometer. This wasn't a huge deal as I was on relatively familiar roads by now. The stretch of riding from mile 45 to 54 was agonizing. I couldn't generate any power on the east/west flats to make up time and the sloppy north/south roads were sapping any power I might have had. After what seemed like hours, I finally emerged onto the familiar south half of the Booneville loop. I was finally able to cruise comfortably along this stretch. At mile 60, I saw the rider in front of me continue east. I looked at my cue sheet, and the color of the arrow painted on the snow, and opted to follow the cue sheet and turn south. This turned out to be the right choice as someone not involved with the race had painted an arrow in the snow to mess with the riders. The final 3 miles were spent just hoping the race would end. Jed and Kent did a good job of keeping the finish line in sight, but out of reach for this stretch. I finally arrived back in Cumming 5 hours and 15 minutes after the start, stumbling through the bar to record my arrival. I quickly made my way to the food table and snagged a plate full of beans, chips and a pork loin sandwich in order to fill the deep pit I had dug during the race. After a plate full of food and a couple of beers, I was feeling a lot more human.

The day's suffering was a direct result of my (lack of) nutrition and fluid intake. Had I managed those better, I likely would have felt and performed better. The positive spin was that I made those mistakes early in the race season, and in a shorter race that was closer to home. The price for making the same errors later in the year will be a lot higher.

I have to give a big shout out to Jed and Kent for organizing the event. The location and the route were great, as were the awards, food and swag. Big thank you to The Cumming Tap for everything they did to support the event as well. An extra special thank you to the volunteers at both The Tap and the checkpoint. Events like this only go off with the help of a number of people. The volunteers were top notch and extremely helpful.

On the equipment front, my Salsa La Cruz was solid for the entire event. No mechanicals, no flats and extremely comfortable. My Oakley sunglasses worked great. The new Hydrophobic lenses are everything they claim to be. Thanks, as always, to Rasmussen Bike Shop. They order in the weird stuff I request with no question and never fail to do a great job supporting me, despite the fact that I'm not entering mainstream events.

I'm headed off to Decorah for some training on the 11th - 13th of March. My next event will be TransIowa v6. I have a lot of preparations to complete between now and then if I expect to finish TI.