Monday, June 27, 2011

Quantico Recap and training does get results

This is just a simple entry on how training can really make a difference. Oh, the RIGHT training. Not my half a#! attempt in 2010, but my new half a#! for 2011! Last year at Quantico, I thought I felt pretty good, turning in 1:11:50, 58:25, 1:03:41, 1:04:54 and 1:05:51. I was really hoping to get more sub hours than that, but at the time I thought this was great. It was good enough for 2nd place in the duo male 80+ cat. We did 10 laps last year in 11:11:32.

This year I took a different approach and teamed up with my 17 year old friend Will. This of course moved us to the duo male open-no more old folks class. This years times were beyond what I envisioned. 49:53, 52:43, 55:11, 58:08, 1:00:07 and 1:05:31. We also completed 12 laps in 11:17-2 more laps in just 6 minutes. All told 1st place.

So my training, although not geared toward endurance racing has really shown me that gettin older doesnt mean you aint gonna get faster. If you guys and gals are in your 40's find a plan that works and stick to it, you will improve.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

12 Hours of Quantico and a Win for the Crew

Ok, I found out 2 things about myself today; one, you cannot train 6-8 hours a week and call yourself an endurance racer and two, starting off like the race is only 2 hours long, is stupid. That being said, my friend Will, who is 17 and I who is 43, hmmm odd couple indeed, did a male duo for this event. We both have the same view on racing and how it is so hard to pace yourself at a 12 hour race-uhhh, lets go all out in the beginning and see if we can hold that impossible pace. Now, it is rare that this method ever works, but today it did. We were in 1st from lap 1, and by lap 2, we had a 10 minute lead on 2nd. We had built a 26 minute lead at one point, but we were getting tired and they werent. We ended up finishing with 12 laps in 11:17, 17 minutes ahead. I kind of liken it to scoring 6 runs in the 1st inning and winning 6-5, not ideal, but a win none the less. Last year, my fastest lap time was 58:07, this year was a best for 9th overall 49:51 on the Superfly SS. In fact all my laps, except the last were all far better than last years.

Quantico is a pretty difficult course 1600ft of climbing per lap-ouch! Nothing is flat and nothing is smooth. Each climb is a 20% grade and even the fire roads were just plain evil. Jim Harman and the EX2 staff are just great. They still know how to throw down a grassroots race venue.

My last 2 laps were nothing less than dismal. Not from going out too fast, but not keeping the nutrition in the body. Just the thought of food made me ill. Dont quite know what to make of it. I am not to bothered by this because endurance races arent my thing anyway. HR reached 160, but the legs were non existent. I even tried to encourage them, but they said "we are fine, so beat it pal." I wasnt out of breathe as well.

I did do something that I never do, though; I ran the Superfly HT for 4 of the 6 laps. The other 2 were done on the Superfly and the Big Pink Rig. Of course this would not be possible without Jon Rogers and Brandonian Buth. These guys are the reason I am where I am with my race results.

I did have a difficult time with the handling, not because of the bike  itself, but because I am used to jamming out of the saddle on the SS. It was hard for me to sit and spin, so I couldnt seem to get my bearings. That being said, the bike was amazing on this rock infested, pock marked and endless climbing course on the Marine Corps base. I was running a 44/29 up front and a 12/27 in the back. What I really want to make mention of is the Bontrager Evoke 3 saddle and carbon versions. 2 words AMAZ-ING! If you like the way your broken in saddle feels, than you will love this even more. Full padding on a carbon railed saddle and 130 grams. The Ti version is 186 g's. Very flexy and super comfy. Comes in 3 widths as well to fit your hind quarters.

Overall, I was pleased of the 1st place result, but not super overjoyed with how we had to maintain it, but again, it is still a win. I did surpass last years effort with my first 5 laps in comparison to last year, so I will call it a pretty good day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day to all and to all a good ride!

I decided to spend a part of my day with my son Alex-the two girls didnt want to get dirty ridin'. A nice little ride about 6 miles long on the Little Gunpowder. He is really coming along as a rider. Takes a little more chances and riding a little faster. I think he really enjoys himself, too. I dont push him, but I do encourage and try to get him to try some new techniques, although being 7, it is kinda hard sometimes. Anyway, enjoy the day and spend some time with the kids, after all it wouldnt be your day if you didnt have any! The video is not the best quality, but it is something.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Road Shoes

That's right...Road Shoes! My rep Jon Rogers was very kind to send me a pair of Bontrager RXL shoes today. I have been using the RXL mountain version for a year now, so these babies will feel exactly the same, which is a good thing. I will post a more detailed report later when I get some ride time. If any of you arent or havent tried any of the Bontrager offerings, you should really give them a go. Not just the shoes, but anything he offers. It is truly world class stuff. Light and durable; just great stuff. If anyone knows where my last 3 blogs disappeared to, let me know. I dont like writing this stuff as it, maybe a little.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gunpowder Ride

Today was by far and away the best I have felt all year. Even during the 10 minute downpour. I was a little concerned with the fatigue I have been feeling as of late. I was almost thinking I have been over training. My legs just havent felt all that great.

Today dispelled all of that. Climbs didnt feel like climbs at all. It was the "sweet spot" of cycling. Like hitting a baseball in just the right spot on the bat where it feels as if you didnt hit anything; thats the feeling on the bike. I felt as if I had much more power in the reserves, but never had to use it. HR reached a mere 185, and that was at the very beginning up a pretty long and technical climb. After that, it settled in at around 165-170's. This is a very good sign. Power without elevated HR-good thing. Funny, after riding the 24.5lb Sawyer, my Superfly felt amazing. After 2years on this thing, I am still amazed how it performs.

By comparison, here is almost the same exact loop (minus the warm up). HR was 198 with an average of 160. 20 minutes faster with 4 extra miles and a 1 mph increase in speed. The moving speed is a bit off due to my Garmin 305 not being cooperative. So if you think a little extra hard riding doesnt do anything, here is proof. Old guys can get faster!

Anyway, I hope this feeling continues for 12 hours of Quantico on the 25th.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Trek Sawyer-First Impressions Part 2

Now we are talkin'
Ok, I had my first "epic" 20 miler on the Sawyer on wednesday. My fork finally arrived and I have to say Hoo Rah. That is just what the docta ordered. It just looks the part now. Comes in at 24lbs and 9 oz. I have some more goodies to throw on it, but for the sake of an accurate review, I have decide to keep it on the heavy side.

So, for those of you interested, my second ride on the Sawyer started on a high note as opposed to the "I dont want to ride this lead sled" attitude on the first outing. I rode the full Loch Raven loop at race pace-ish or so to get a true feel of how this bike handles.
Dont know the purpose, but it looks cool.

Now this isnt going to make sense to those of you riding a suspension fork, but those of us that choose to use "arm-leg absorbers and a rigid, it will make perfect sense. This bike handles much better with the rigid fork that it did with the Reba. The Reba is a great fork, but not for me. It soaked up smaller bumps very well and handled the larger stuff too. I felt very comfortable and in control on this bike on this longer ride. As I stated before, this bike is very plush for a rigid ride. The fork seemed to bring it all together and worked in a harmonious concerto with just the right tempo. Yeah, that's right-I like classical music! There are a few steep climbs that I could feel a little burn, but again it is 5lbs heavier than what I am used to riding. That being said, it climbed very well. A nice balanced feel. No bouncy front end and good traction. The fork is of the G2 variety, meaning it has a 51mm offset as opposed to the traditional 46. This means in theory it will handle like a 26er in the tight stuff. Does it work? I will say it does feel a little quicker than a traditional 29er in the tight singletrack.

I have to say that I really enjoy this bike. I will keep you posted as I have fun upgrading this puppy. So for now, go to your local Trek dealer a give one a ride. It does come as geared only, but if you like to visit the pain cave and let your freak flag fly, go single. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I like being old, even if it means getting older

Ok, maybe 43 isnt old to most, but in the SS mountain bike world, it aint a spring chicken either.  But there is something very cool about lining up with guys that can be your sons for peat sake! There is a mutual respect, though between us old guys and the youngins'. I never hear-man, your too old to be doing this or see you at the finish grandpa. The mountain bike scene just isnt like that. Eh, they dont think I am 43 either.

Young guys keep me motivated and moving. Who wants to lose to a 25 year old? Not me. This last race, I had a 30 and 27 year old pass me early on. I caught one 3 miles later and the other took a little longer, but I was able to reel him in and take him by 2 minutes and 21 seconds. Not that I gloat over that stuff-it isnt about that at all, but it does make this old guy feel good when it happens.

I have about 6-9 hours a week to train, not alot in the grand scheme of things, but its the quality sometimes, not the quantity. So if your old like me, you can still give to those young kids and still learn a bit from them completely destroying their will to compete and being a dream squasher and letting them know this is a 40 year olds world I got a little carried away there. Just go out and have fun and dont be afraid to push it sometimes, you just might surprise yourself, grandpa! Oh Yeah, go ahead and shave those legs, too. There is nothing more disturbing than a pair of sticks that look like air filters that have never been cleaned.

First real workout in a while and just plain bantering

Today I finally decided that it was a good idea to get back to the training plan. After sunday's nice 3rd place podium spot at Iron Hill, Delaware, I took yesterday off and got into standing hill repeats tonight on the trainer. I keep the 53/11 combo with the trainer set on high. I do 2 sets of 3 reps of 3 minutes on and 3 minutes easy with 8 minutes rest between sets. I dont have a power meter, so I use cadence as a benchmark. I try to keep between 61-65 rpms. If you want to try these, keep in mind that if you start to see a 10% decline in power, you should stop the intervals. You really wont gain any jumps in your fitness by pushing on, just wearing yourself down. Are morons allowed to give advice? What do I care, I'm a moron!

At the race, I started off fast, which is not normally my thing and by the third lap, my thighs were a little tight. I hadnt done any real interval work in the 2 weeks leading up to the race, so I figure-being a moron that I am-that was expected.

Anyway, this year has been going extremely well; with training and racing 2 podiums so far. I have definitely seen major improvements in my overall fitness level and maintaining power during races and training rides. My road riding has been, do I dare I have been hitting a 15 mile loop around work in the mornings and never using the 39t ring. Being a singlespeed moron, I have found that staying in the 53/15 (I have a 11-21 cluster in the rear) and standing on the climbs has really improved my monocog climbing abilities.

So that is it for now. 12 hours of Quantico is coming up in 2 weeks, so I guess I should keep training. Oh, almost forgot; I now have my rigid fork for my Sawyer, so I will be taking it out this week. I am wringing my hands together like a mad scientist right now, but you cant see me because I cant type in video...yet!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Iron Hill Challenge and a Tale of 2 3rd's

Get off the tracks, the trains comin through!
There is something about having kids that makes you feel like you are doing something right on this crazy orb we call home. My son Alex is that kind of kid. I have 3 in total, but Alex is the one who loves his bike and loves to impress the Dad.

Today at the Iron Hill Challenge in Delaware-which is far from flat-my son entered his first "mountain bike race." He rode around the course 11 times before the race. He told me he was watching me warm up, so he had better do the same; makes my heart all a flutter! He lined up with the other 7 year olds with his "race modified" Gary Fisher ss and looked at me with that goofy smirk of his as if to say, "look Dad, I am just like you." Hopefully the bike riding thing is all he mimics. Ready...set...go! around turn one, Ohhh man down! Alex scoots around him and takes off in pursuit of the others. Tight turn..."stand up and attack that hill", he does and rides by me with the game face. Lap 2, a little slow to get going but regains his mindset. Come on...Come on! Alex pulls in with a nice 3rd. To see the look on his face that he "won" 3rd, awesome. I though for sure he would be disappointed that he didnt win, but he was happy. For his efforts-a water bottle filled with candy! Race promoters take note.

Now my turn. I mounted Pinky today for the SS expert class. Uh...ok. I have never raced at Iron Hill, so wasnt quit sure what to expect. I dont like racing blind either. We lined up and off the line I took up first, I hate that strategy. Of course that is never my strategy to boot, but it happened. The course was marked poorly at the start, so we did an extra 1.2 miles-aaarrrgghh! This course is very technical and riddle with rocks-nasty sharp rocks. I had settled in to what I thought was a groove, but still felt a little uncomfortable, not sure from what. My legs just didnt feel 100%. There are a few longish climbs, not steep, but littered with baggage. Some very cool pump track style whoop de doo's were around too. I just couldnt find my rhythm. The Rig felt pretty good throughout, even for aluminum.

My second lap was pretty good, I ended up re-passing the guy who passed me earlier, which gave me a little extra uumph. Sitting in 2nd with about 1.5 miles to go and who sneaks up from behind, for the 2nd race in a row? Mr. Houghton. AAAAHHHH!!!! I ended up 20 seconds behind him and a solid 3rd. My legs were the worst they have felt in a while. I usually have plenty of power up the climbs, even at the end, but today they felt solid as a rock. The weird thing was my max HR reached only 186, and that was early on, never got above 182 after that. My average was 172. Not quite sure what to make of it. My last little climb was lead filled, but only reached 180? I havent stuck to the plan for the last 2 weeks either-I am a certified moron.

So like father, like so we both settled for 3rd and a very poorly unorganized podium spot (no need to go into details) for me and the Crew. On to Quantico.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ride with Alex and tomorrow's Iron Hill Challenge

Wanna Piece of Me?
Singlespeeders Unite!
Today, my son Alex and I decided to head for a great day of riding. He doesnt look as excited as me, though. Loch Raven, oops did I say a dirty word? Yeah, if you don't know, a few clowns in power in the city have decided that mountain biking at the Loch is having adverse affects on the water supply and it is also a "homeland security" issue-WHATEVER! Anyway, we rode anyway. He has really progressed as a rider. 7 years old and he can climb like a mountain goat. Downhills-eh, another story; like father like son. We ended up with 6 miles and 776 feet of climbing. He loves his Fisher Precaliber SS and it loves him.

Tomorrow is the Iron Hill Challenge in Newark Delaware, so today was a nice departure from the norm. Never been there so could be interesting.