Saturday, March 23, 2013

AFC Sugar Hill and a dismal 5th

This will be a very short entry because I am not real happy about my performance. In a nutshell, I had the most miserable race ever-and I knew it right from the start. No power and lower back spasms near the end of the race; not a good sign. I struggled through the entire race and worse yet, there was nothing I could do about it. How I managed to nab the 5th spot is a miracle. Either everyone else felt as bad as I did, or they all had pity on my 45 year old haggard body. I finished six minutes slower than last year, which in all honesty really surprised me; I thought it was slower than that. Strangely enough, everybody's times were way off from last year as well; I guess everyone was feeling blah.

So, I am glad that this one is in the books and I am going to get in the tub and sulk a bit.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

No Race, but a day of fun with the kids

Well, the AFC Sugar Hill Race was postponed for a chance of rain which never occurred. It really sucks because this was my taper week for this race now it is sort of screwed up. I was ready and looked to claim another podium spot. I was really dying to ride today, so I gave the kids a choice of a hike or bike; they chose wisely!

We headed out to Gunpowder to check out the trails and take some pics. It is the first time this year I have had them both on the trails together. I figured this would add some competition to the ride-I am so sneaky. It is funny to watch these two together; they are very competitive with each other, especially when I praise one. Before I get a chance to praise the other, they try to out do the others' praise-hilarious.

Gunpowder is a great place to take kids to ride. It is nice rolling doubletrack and singletrack. It does have rocks and roots in spots, so you have to be careful. I have to say, I wasnt expecting them to do as well as they did, but they rocked that trail today. I was really proud of both of them. I never forget to tell them either-they eat it up.

We ended up doing 8 miles in 1hr and 11 minutes-not to bad. What was most important was they had fun and we spent another great day outside (not in front of a computer or tv).

Note to parents-it is never too late to get out with your kids. They will grow up before you know it and you dont want to be that parent that says "I wish...".

I love the fact that like to ride. Not just ride, but ride the trails and see how much fun it is. We take a lot of breaks to check out the scenery (something I dont get a chance to do on my training rides) and learn a little bit about each other too.

So, race cancelled, but it couldnt have been a better day. A day with the Bug and P-zero; yeah, nicknames-dont ask. I have 3 kids, but one is all growed up and bike riding is not on her to do list, but thats ok-she is still a super cool artistic kid. One day I will get her out there. I will have to play the guilt trip on her or something.

It really doesnt get any better than this now does it?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sugar Hill Pre Game Show

Thats right folks, it's time for the 5th annual AFC Sugar Hill Race. Where fun is had for all (unless you consider redlining in the first 5 minutes fun)! We will see great displays of courage (pride) and determination (cutthroat tactics) on the trails on saturday (unless it rains). Yes folks, with 3000ft of elevation and 22.3 miles, this should be a doozy.

Yes, I have been doing this race since its inception. I love to hate this race. Why? One; it is early in the season and two; it is early in the season and the waterbars climb has your heart rate in zone 9z at the very beginning and there is not alot of places to kick back and relax; climbing is on the menu for today.

I have progressively gotten better here every year. In 2009, I finished 8th well behind first place-to be fair, I really didnt train in 2009, I just went out and rode till I puked. In 2010, I finished 7th with a better showing and 3 minutes faster. 2011, I had my best race thus far. I was actually in the lead for the first two laps and just couldnt hold on at the end and ended up 3rd. This was the first year it was run in the opposite direction which had 3x's the climbing. Last year was pretty good. I finished six minutes faster than 2011 and ended up 4th. Though my placement was one place lower, my time is what I was super pleased with. I really noticed a big improvement in my overall fitness level. This year I feel I am in the best shape ever. My goal is to finish sub 2 hour (2:02 last year). I think it is doable being that I have 58,000 more feet of climbing and have done a boat load of endurance miles to boot.

I feel pretty tight right now and this week I have been doing E2 riding. Last year I made a crucial error and 3 days before the race, went out and hammered the course for 3 laps and then some. It was fun I have to admit, though.

The forecast is showing rain, so we shall see how this whole thing plays out.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just some perspective, maam

Well, last year at this time on was on my way to what I thought was going to be a pretty good season; I dare say even my best. Then things happened and the wheel fell off the cart so to speak.

It is funny how certain things matter more to someone; even things that arent that important in the grand scheme of things. I mean, I could lose my job, and yet it wouldnt be as bad as not finishing a race as well as expected. Sure, it would suck for a bit, but you move on. Now you may say that my priorities are outta wack; maybe so, but to me a job can be had at anytime, maybe not one that you would consider palatable, but a job none the less. Cycling is what makes up who most of us are-at least cyclists anyway...duh. I mean, every january you cant wait to get going and start training and pushing your body beyond what you ever thought was possible. You dont get up monday morning and treat your job the same way you would approach your cycling goals for that same day-be honest. We live to ride... literally. I am fortunate enough to work doing the thing I love to do outside of work.

There are days were I sit and think long and hard about racing and what it means to me and is it worth the effort every year to push myself to get better even as I get older. Yes. Do the jitters every go away as I line up with guys that are younger and faster than me? No. Is it worth it to go out at every race and try to hang with these guys knowing that some are in better shape than myself and push even harder than I should? Yes. Is it worth it at the end of every race knowing I raced a great race and proved I can still do this and do it reasonably well? Most definitely. Is it worth it to go and push myself against guys half my age and beat most if not all of them? Hell yes!

I dont like to lose...period, but even finishing 3rd or 5th is not losing; you finished-and trust me, some races you win if you do just that. I see mountain bike racing differently than most do I think, though. When I go to race, I dont ever go with the assumption of winning. I know, "Why the hell do you go then" you say. Here is my take. Mountain bikers are unique in the fact that, unlike most roadies, it isnt about cut throat tactics that are meant to demoralize ones efforts. It isnt about how expensive your ride is or even what you wear. Mountain bike racing is about pushing yourself to the limits of pain you cant imagine. When you pass someone or get passed, they hurt as much if not more than you do. It comes down to who can tolerate the pain longer.

When I race, I go to beat me...thats it. I dont care what anyone else is doing or has done, I go knowing I trained hard and if I did everything right, I will place in my usual top 3-5 (with a win sprinkled in here and there). I have learned in the past the hard way that if you spend too much time wondering and scoping out the competition, you end up going down a long path of disappointments. I am fortunate to have a wife that digs me but doesnt care for racing-but she is there every race and that makes all the difference in how I race most of the time.

Now, I am not saying that you should ignore what everyone else is doing, you have to peak in every once in a while, but dont get caught up in the logistic stuff; worry about you and everything will be fine. My goals at every race are to exceed my times from the previous year. So far, I have done that and more. I know at some point in my life, that aint gonna happen as much, but I will ride the fun coaster until it derails.

So, somehow that went more to the racing aspect of riding than I originally planned, but its my blog. In a nutshell, get out and ride and sometimes ride hard and if Joe Hammertime shows you up, thats ok. Just ride your ride.