A Year?

When I was in Leadville I rode with Chris (who lives at the Pavements Edge). Chris asked me what I was going to do about this blog. (See even if Leadville is a haze in my mind, I still do remember things, here is proof.) You see the name “A Year of Living….” kind of dictates a time limit.

I don’t really feel like I am finished yet. I think I am going to take this thing one year at a time. It’s looking like the summer of 2014 may actually be more challenging and dangerous exciting than 2013 was. Leadville was hard and challenging but that is because of the length and altitude. The actual course itself isn’t too too bad.

I think next years moment is going to come at ORAAM. Here is the profile for ORAAM

ORAMM-Elevation

That’s about 12,000 ft of climbing packed into a 63 mile course. Distance? No worries there. The climbs are mostly dirt or paved roads. No worries there either. I can do that. Nope the exciting thing are the downhills.

My coach was in NC a little while ago training near the ORAAM course. He posted a video on how to do rocky sections of single track

This was the exchange that occurred after that:

Doug: Drew is that pretty typical of what I will see at ORAMM next year?

Drew: ORAMM will be tougher then that…..it’s not flat like that. It’s super steep, scary technical stuff at ORAMM. Either that or a 2 hour climb on fireroad! That technical terrain at Syllamos is more “flowy” type…..ORAMM is up or down most of the time, steeper, faster, bigger drops. Less finesse required at ORAMM and more guts.

BTW. I don’t really feel like I am trying to one-up anything. ORAAM is just the next thing I am doing.

So with luge season coming up in a couple of weeks and ORAAM on the horizon, I am going to declare 2014 a “Year of Living Dangerously”.

Picture of the Day

doug at nationals

“Relaxed?”

Biking Rule #12

While we are on the topic of biking rules, one of THE most important rules is Biking Rule #12. All bikers are away of this rule. Rule #12 states:

Rule #12

“The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.

While is minimum number of bikes one should own is 3, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner”

Things are a little out of hand in my garage right now. Here take a look.

garage_bikes-1

That’s a mighty fine view. I do note for the record that the newest bike in the stable is not mine, but rather Coreen’s. Coreen has made some noise about wanting to do some sprint tri’s next summer and so she needed a better bike than she currently has (a hybrid hand-me-down from, well me) A friend was selling a road bike she was no longer using. The price was right, so we bought it. I also note that one of the bikes in that picture (the pink/blue Orbea) belongs to a guest who is staying in our basement.

But here is the problem. There is no room in that garage for Coreen’s car.

Coreen puts up with a lot about my biking “hobby” thing. She comes out in the cold to see me start

leadville_race_morning1-1

She even helps when things don’t go totally according to the plan

leadville_drained1-1

(Hey I have seen those pictures before…Shut up Yeti, Coreen is awesome and if I want to say nice things about her and show pictures as examples of her awesomeness I will!)

Anyway, the one line that my biking cannot cross is taking up the space in the garage for her car when winter comes. She really doesn’t like scraping ice or snow off of her windshield.

This is all a long way of saying I am officially in the caveat section of Biking Rule #12 (the s-1 part).

And so its decision time. The old MTB Worm, is for sale. We know that he needs to go so that I will no longer be in debt for the new bike. The hybrid bike will likely winter with us and then go up for sale in the spring. Its a good college kid bike, and hey I work at a college.  Noah’s old bike (the 20″ he rode in his race last summer) is currently being “tested” by the daughter of a colleague. While it is the wrong color (blue is NOT a girls bike color), I think it has found a new home. That leaves me with 3 bikes, Coreen with 1 bike and each of the kids with a bike. Kind of manageable.

But here is the thing. One of my bikes is Truck. He is a touring bike. He has fenders, a rack, and paniers. He was the bike I bought when I first moved up here and I used him to commute into work. As my biking has progressed I have used him less. My training has become more formal and I haven’t been bike commuting. And over the past year I have ridden him outside only once. He has been relegated to winter service on the trainer. He is clearly under utilized.

In many ways the new bike Aistaer has replaced him in the stable. I had thought about bike touring with Truck, but that has shifted to bikepacking. I thought about biking across the US but that has shifted from an East/West route on roads to a North/South route on trails. I could commute on Aestair. He is rack ready (something I will ultimately need for the cross country bike ride race ride race). But he is not really set up for road touring. He has some pretty stout MTB tires on him. Great for gripping corners on dirt, not so great for rolling on pavement.

My LBS owner has offered to take Worm on trade for a set of wheels. These wheels would go onto Aestair and fit something like a, oh I don’t know, 38 mm slick tire. Something that would be good for commuting (as opposed to my fat mtb tires). (Would these wheels would also fit a CX tire? Shut up Yeti, I have enough problems already).

It is decision time. Is it time for 3 to become 2?

Rule Number 9

I hereby invoke biking Rule Number 9. What is Rule 9 you are asking yourself. Well here it is:

Biking Rule #9 States:
“If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.”

(The complete list of rules is here.)

I try not to exaggerate my training here or be mellow dramatic. Yeah sometimes it happens, but really I try not to. Ha! (shut up Yeti)

My ride Sunday was terrible from the time I got onto my bike till I walked back into my house 4 hours later. Why? Well because it was a combination of three of the best things on a training ride: Rainy, cold, and windy. Oh, yeah and it was long.

Friday I did zone 4-5 intervals. They were fun in a strange way. Going hard, going fast. The weather was perfect. I enjoyed that ride.

Sunday’s weather forecast kept getting worse. It started good and kept deteriorating. (I kind of expected this, Saturday the weather was supposed to be bad, but ended up being perfect.) When I woke up it was raining and windy and cold. But I had to fit it in and it was time to go. So I geared up. 15 minutes later I was wet and my feet and fingers were numb. There was still 3:45 left in the ride. My legs never woke up. They were tight and tired from start to finish. I wondered why I was doing what I was doing. I suffered from start to end. But I did the full 4 hours. (I could have cut it off, but I have a personal policy of NOT cutting time or intensity on a training ride.)

And so I now invoke rule 9. I am also asking for new shoe covers for Christmas. (And to answer my wife’s question of when I will tone down the training intensity: not for a long long time. I clearly got nothing out of my system this year. Don’t even start with me Yeti.)

Motivation and Adrenaline

Yesterday my training plan called for a 2:45 endurance ride. “Ride how you feel. If you feel good include zones 3-4. If not keep it zones 1-2.” I geared up to head out. I knew it was going to be chilly (around 40F) and so I put on a base layer under my short sleeved jersey and headed out to the garage. Then I headed back in the house and put on a long sleeve jersey. Then I added shoe covers. Then I added full gloves. Then I added a second glove. Heck it felt cold. Riding on my road bike, into the mountains, compounded the coldness of the ride. (Work forced me to go out in the morning. It was 70 by mid afternoon, when I was in meetings and meeting with students…)

At the start of Leadville it was around 32 F (we had frost on the car windows when we went to the race). I had on a short sleeved jersey with arm warmers. No shoe covers. One set of full gloves. I didn’t feel cold.

The difference? Motivation and Adrenaline. It didn’t matter that it was cold. Motivation and Adrenaline make up for a lot.

Right now there is nothing on my race schedule. Yes I have ORAMM and Wilmington Whiteface on the schedule (look to the right, the count down timers are there), but those are for next year and they are just plans right now. They don’t feel real. There is a whole season of luge between me and then (with its associated bumps and bruises, a much MUCH more immediate threat!).

I usually get like this in the fall. Right now I have 3900 miles and 300 hours of riding on my legs this year (not counting indoor training time and distance). And its harder to get motivated to go out and suffer. Riding feels a little more like work. (Drew if you are reading this, don’t worry, have no mercy. I’m not burnt out ;))

It will be OK. This is just the normal days are getting shorter cycling cycle.

Picture of the Day

fall window-1

“Fall Sunrise”

That’s the view from my office window, it doesn’t suck.

 

XC in Pictures

Quickie today. A Clarkson Student, Ashley, was at the race on Saturday taking pictures. (She promised to not take any pictures of me with my wheels not pointed down.)

doug cu xc2-1

Coming back on the hiking trail. Getting ready for some more single track.

doug cu xc smile-1

Yes, I really do smile (periodically) when I am racing…..

doug cu xc tasty-1

Some “tasty” single track (I never ate it during this race 😉 )

These trails are really nice and flowy. Nothing really technical. Just a nice trail in the woods to get into the single track frame of mind. I am very very luck to have these behind my office. I can just throw on a jersey, grab my bike, and do an hour during the day when I have a chance.

Here is the start courtesy of Brendan (Clarkson Cycling Club President). He did a great job organizing this event.

clarkson xc start

Do you see the 44 year old lurking at the start? (What the heck am I doing racing these “kids” anyway????)

And the Picture of the Day

doug cu xc1-1

Apprentice Journeyman Mountain Biker” (Bike leaned, shoulders turned, head looking into the turn)

Thanks Ashley!

Clarkson Univeristy XC Race Report

Dear Fatty,

In response to the Open Letter you wrote to me a couple of weeks ago on your blog (I mean it was written to me right? Because clearly you are hugely interested in my racing career. I mean we HAVE ridden together in one race and I know it was a pivotal moment in your life! Love the blog BTW. Did you know you are a talented writer? I hope people read your blog. It could really be something big. You could definitely become beloved with something like that.) I am here to tell you about how my race this weekend went.

In case you forgot (or just have been out training for some 400 mile road race or something and missed it), I did my first XC mountain bike race. I did in fact list four reasons why this race was going to be a blood bath. Let me just say, it was a blood bath. This race was an intercollegiate race that allowed for non-college students to race in the “open” category. The open riders were placed in the Group A class. What’s group A you may be asking yourself. Well in the USAC world this would be equivalent to the CAT 1 mountain bikers. Yeah somewhere along the way USAC changed the mountain bike classifications from something sensible to CAT 1, 2, 3. In REAL terms, I was in the “pro/expert” class. Yes that’s right, in my very first XC mountain bike race ever I was placed with the pro/experts. (Uh, yes there were pros in the race. The race organizers had apparently heard of my exploits at Leadville this year and decided to promote me). Did I mention that I was the only person over 25 in the race? I mean whats 20-25 years difference between competitors right? Clearly they were impressed with my pink FC kit and overlooked all the rest of the details about me.

How’d I finish you are asking? DFL. (If you don’t know what DFL means I would bet you could search on Google. This is a family blog and so I cannot spell it out.)

How’d my race go? Well there was a bunch sprint at the start to the single track. It was during that bunch sprint that I realized I was an old and slow person on a bike who was totally out of his league. We got into the single track and I did my best to keep up. But they were just too fast and I was dropped. Halfway into the first lap (we did 4 laps, about 30 minutes per lap) I was pretty much alone on the course. With about 1:45 of racing left to go I needed a new game. Something to keep my head involved in the ride. So I invented some new goals.

Goal number 1: No one from the “B” group would pass me on my first lap. The “B”, I mean “Sport”, class started 3 minutes after the “A” class. I knew there were a couple of fast guys in there too. I did not want to be passed on the first lap by one of them.

Goal number 2: No one from the “A” group would lap me. Given how fast they went out, with 4 laps in the race I considered this to be a real possibility. I would not let that happen.

Goal number 3: I would pass someone before the race was over.

With these new goals in mind I rode on. At the end of my first lap I noticed two things. My GPS was never turned on. CRAP. On it went. (I continue to prove that if there is no GPS record then the ride really did happen. No one seemed interested in restarting the race. Well there was no one around to ask.) And no one had passed me. Check on Goal 1. (It would not be until half way through lap 2 that someone from Group B would pass me.)

I kept going on lap 2 and finished it. When I looked at my GPS my average speed was 9.6 mph. That number is about 1 mph faster than my fastest lap speed ever on that trail. I had lowered my best lap time by 3-4 minutes (its a little hard to say exactly because the course was not exactly the same as what I normally run).

On to lap 3. Still going strong. I knew that if no one from group A passed me on lap 3 then I was home free on Goal 2. Out of the woods and onto the two track back to the start/finish line. Not passed. Check on goal number 2. Into the woods for lap for lap 4. Now I needed to hunt someone down. I got past the middle of the lap and saw someone heading back in. My rabbit! I picked it up and hunted him down. He was clearly suffering greatly (I think he picked up his pace when he heard me, but almost ran into a tree. Then he let me pass.) Off I went. I assume he wasn’t a group “A” guy but a “B” guy I lapped. Either way I call it a victory. When I got almost to the finish line I saw another rabbit. I accelerated and ran that person down. It was a girl from the another group behind me (one of the “A” women). I didn’t care it was a girl (I totally “guyed” her) and flew past her on a small climb. Over the finish line.

I asked the guy who was running the race if I got age adjusted time. He smiled and said yes of course. (Somehow they forgot to adjust my time on the sheet. I am sure they will fix that at some point.)

I made it. I finished my first true XC race. I didn’t crash. But this race is really hard for me to figure out.

In an absolute sense, I finished last. By a lot. I finished far back from the group I was in.

OK. Deep breath. I did the best that I could. In fact I did better on a single track than I ever did before. I had good flow. I didn’t crash. I had a good pace. I was passed by 4 or 5 of the group B riders. I would have finished somewhere around 6th (out of 25) if I had raced in group B. I would have won the group C (“novice”) race. I ended up 3rd in the “open” class. (Yes, Yetti I know there were only 3 open riders. Be quiet.) And I won the age 40-45 expert class.

Still it wasn’t fun. Let me tell you watching the guys you are supposed to be racing motor away from you (even if it is totally expected) sucks. It hurts. Guess there is more work to do….

BTW. Do you have anything to get me back to being 25 years old? Do you think a pair of Assos cycling shorts would have helped? I hear you are a big fan of Assos clothing.

Thanks,

Doug

Road versus MTB

When you have a problem the first step is realizing that you have a problem. Then you can start working on fixing the problem.

This week I started to figure out how to ride my mountain bike. Yeah, I’ve been riding it for a couple of years, and yes most of the races I have been in have been mtb races. But really I am a roadie pretending to ride a mtb. I had a couple of things crystallize in my brain that have helped. They also helped me figure out why it is harder for a roadie to go mountain than a mtb’er to go road.

Here is what I figured out (and am still dealing with). For me its all a bike handling issue. When you ride a road bike you don’t really every want your tires to leave the ground or slide. Those things generally lead to road rash or worse. On a MTB, on a real mtb trail, your tires leave the ground, and more importantly they slide. And that, after years of road biking is disturbing.

On a mtb the knobby tires they may slip but if your weight is right that’s not bad. You want to lean the bike and weight the tires in the corners. That digs the knobs into the ground, gives you traction and gets you around the corner. Leaning the bike and weighting the tires is a skill.

Once you develop that skill what you have to develop on a mtb is trust. Trust in your bike. Trust in your position. Trust that when the tire slips in a corner that it is going to grab before you wash out. As a roadie its hard to not get worried when a tire starts to slide. I find I still tense up a little bit when the tires start to slip. Then I start looking down at my tires (instead of ahead of the bike, really anything you might be looking down at is too close to do anything about). And sometimes if I tense too much I grab some brake (a REALLY exciting thing to do in a corner). Then the whole riding a mtb thing becomes harder. (Relaxed, looking ahead = easy; tense, looking down = hard)

I feel like I am pretty good right now on dry or tacky ground. On wet and muddy ground I am still working on trust.

Right now its raining like mad. The XC course will likely be muddy Saturday for the race. (Thanks for the opportunity universe.)