I was warned…..

Before Whiteface Drew and I talked about that race and the lead up to ORAMM. The conversation went something like this….

“I would normally give you a recovery week after the race but since you are busy around the 4th I am not going to do that. So next week is going to be hard. Do the best you can.”

“Uh, ok…..”

And with that I launched into Whiteface and then into my non-recovery, recovery week.

Whiteface was good. Then I had a day off. Yeah!

Then the non-recovery week started.

Tuesday: 1 hour, Zone 1-2 Endurance  (over half time in Zone 2)

Wednesday: 1:20 Zone 1-2 Endurance (over half time in Zone 2)

Thursday: 1:40 Openers (these are short intense sprints to loosen or open up your legs for the rest of the week)

Friday: 3:30 Ride how you feel on the trails

Saturday: 1:40 Zone 1-2 Endurance (over half time in Zone 2)

Sunday: 2:00 Zone 2-3 Endurance

Monday: 2:00 2×20 minute zone 3-4 cross intervals. Which was today.

I made a fundamental mistake this week. My legs felt really good on Tuesday, so I rode all 60 minutes in Zone 2. Wednesday I also felt really good so I rode all 1:20 in Zone 2. Zone 2 is a pretty good tempo pace. It’s where I like to run races on flats and downhill sections. And the result of Tuesday and Wednesday was to basically take what I had left in my legs and burn them out…. before the fun really began.

Thursday I learned I made that critical mistake. The “openers” were tougher than they should have been.

My Friday ride was really fun. I rode a smart pace (well I thought it was a smart pace) and decided to to some exploring. My plan was to link up a bunch of single track rides with as much dirt as I could find. I knew there were some connectors (dirt roads, back country trails, etc.) and so I went looking. Did a pretty fair job. But I was tired. I did manage to throw down my fastest time on the Clarkson trails this year, and only about 30 seconds off my race time from last fall. I had good flow, but I probably pushed more than I should have.

Saturday sucked. Sunday was even worse. I never hit my target zones. I just could not get the effort up to where I wanted.

I did not upload my Sunday ride before today’s ride because I was so dissapointed. I didn’t want my active brain to have any numbers on how tired my legs were to go with the feelings.  I was determined to ride today’s LT Cross intervals with everything I had. I was going to hit my zones and stay there. I even heard Yoda in my mind:

yoda

I was going to do.

And so I went out to ride this morning, knowing that I had a suckfest in front of me. And it was. But I kept going and tried to stay positive. Each 2 minutes during the intervals was a victory.

This is where training by HR is a real problem and deceptive. When I loaded my Sunday ride up to STRAVA this morning I saw something startling. (I purposely did NOT load up Sunday and look at it yesterday. I did not want to know how “bad” it was.) I did a loop that I made a private segment for. (I have a couple of these rides that I use as yardsticks on how I am doing.)  I beat my fastest time ever on this loop Sunday. So while I felt like I had no legs, and I did not come close to my HR target goals, I was apparently riding a pretty fast pace. I wish I had a power meter. Hearts are funny things, especially when you are tired. That makes me wonder what I can do on fresh legs with that loop.

That also makes me feel good about the rest of this week. I have 3 more days till I get a rest day. But I know I can push through them.

I am still looking forward to my rest later this week, and being off my bike for a couple of days (hoping to get some  hiking in, and maybe a nice trail ride with my brother).

Wilmington Whiteface 100k, 2014: The Finish

The last climb of the Wilmington Whiteface race is the most unpleasant. It is not a rhythm climb. It goes steeply up for a bit, then down a little, then up, then down, then up. You get the idea. It’s a net 800 ft climb that takes you more like 1000-1100 ft to actually get up. I dislike this climb every time I ride it.

As I got into that climb my stomach got progressively worse. My legs started to go and I slowed down. The group that I was with pulled ahead. I tried to ignore what was going on with me, did my best, and eventually I got to the top. Then I started to do math again in my head. I realized that was unhelpful and distracting and forced myself to stop. After the descent you ride on paved roads for about 3 miles till you get to the Hardy Rd single track segment.

About half way to the Hardy Rd the turning point came.

I decided that I needed to do something about my stomach or I would not be able to finish in any sort of a reasonable way. So I hunted along side the road. It’s a semi populated section of road, but eventually I found what I was looking for. A nice thick wooded section with no houses around it.

It was at this time that I feel I truly became worthy of being a Fat Cyclist sponsored rider. The eating thing? Oh yeah, I got that. I make a mean guacamole. Brats? I was born in Northern Wisconsin. We know brats. My specialty? Slow cooked pulled pork tacos. Add to that homemade corn tortillas with my new tortilla press. Oh yeah, I totally have the eating thing down. Nope, there is one important thing that I had yet to experience while racing my bike. Time for a baptism.

I stopped my bike and marched into the woods. One explosive decompression later I marched out of the woods and got back onto my bike.

(Author’s Note: When I was writing this report I checked the Fat Cyclist blog and searched “poop” and “vomit”. Poop returns 206 hits. Vomit over 100. Impressive.)

Remarkably Thankfully Amazingly, I felt A LOT better. My legs got stronger and my pace picked back up. Onto the Hardy Rd. I passed Dave as he was coming out of the single track. In I went. My legs held up well and I flowed through the trails. As I exited the trails I saw the most amazing site. They set up a new neutral aid station outside of those trails! “Water, coke, snacks, gels!” was the call from the volunteers. I screeched to a halt. (More back brake was applied here than at any other point of the race!) I needed something back in my stomach to keep my sugar level up, a high glycemic index drink with caffeine was totally called for.

“Coke!” Down the hatch.

Back onto the road with a good pace toward the finish. Only 9 miles to go.

The race ends at Whiteface Mountain where you start. But you have to do a little bit of single track along a river to get to the mountain. During the road transition to that stretch of single track my front derailleur final decided it was time to be done. I tried to shift up and could not find the magic back gear to make it go. The chain dumped over the cranks and got twisted between the crank arm and the chain ring. I had to stop and untwist it. Another decision time.

I knew that the last bit of the course had a lot of climbing and technical pieces to it and so I decided to put the chain on the 22 tooth ring. For the remainder of the race I would be a 1×10 with the “1” being a 22. Not optimal, but the best I could manage at that moment.

I saw an inordinate number of people with mechanical failures during this race. I passed at least 3 people walking with rear derailleurs hanging off their bikes. Oh, and there was a guy on a cross bike who I biked back and forth with for first half of the race. The last time I passed him his bike had exploded. I saw pedals (yes, he was picking up a pedal) and other parts on the ground next to him. Not sure if he crashed or what. But it was an impressive array of bike parts not on a bike. My bike had started to make new noises and it wasn’t shifting the front rings anymore, but the wheels were still turning. “Please hold up!”

I came out of the Flume trails to a loud cry of “There is my rider!” Coreen and the kids at the final crew station.

wilmington_2014_bailey_cori

wilmington_2014_mayah_hailey

Was I in a zone then?

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You bet.

“I need a coke and a bottle of plain water.”

Coreen dumped the Carbo Rocket (Sorry Brad!) from my bottle and refilled it with water. Off I went.

I learned the first time that I raced this course that there is a difference between skiing on a slope and biking on the same slope. The course runs through the “Kids Campus” at Whiteface. A series of ski trails that are so “flat” that I refused to take my kids on them when they were 6. They feel a whole lot steeper on a bike, going up, like 15-20%. Which remarkably is what they are.

You can tell that this race is physically tough on this last section. Everyone’s pace slowed way down. People were not talking. It was a grind to go up the hill. Then a rapid descent into the course’s really technical section of single track. I got through the “cleanly”. (My feet did touch the ground, but I did not eject myself from my bike into a tree. I call it victory.) The pre-ride the day before was super helpful as I knew the good lines to be taking in this technical section.

The bonus of the Whiteface race is that you get to do this final section twice before you finish. There is one really steep loose section that you need to ride in order to get back onto final lap. Last year I walked this part. On the pre-ride I decided I wanted to try it fresh. It’s the kind of steep that creates an exercise in keeping your weight perfectly balanced so your front tire doesn’t bounce or wander. On the pre-ride I cleaned the climb. I decided to go for it in the race. Up I went. Up the last climb on the Kids Campus. I joined a rider doing her first loop.

“Are we near the top yet?”

“Just around that corner.”

“Thank God.”

“Good luck! Be careful on the descent!”

I went down the sketchy gravel “road” and through the technical root single track. I was passed at the end of the single track by a woman. When we got out and headed to the finish I didn’t have the gearing to catch her and finished about 3 seconds behind her. (I didn’t know it at the time but this was Jim Murphy’s friend. A elite level CX rider from NH. I accept being “chicked” here.) Coreen was there and grabbed my bike.

“You are not going to believe this. Rainbow socks was behind you. She came across the finish line while you were on your second loop. But she forgot to do her second lap and had to go back out.”

“That sucks!”

“She has a following. I heard people saying ‘the girl with the rainbow socks is here.'”

Amanda (rainbow socks) crossed the finish line about 15 minutes later while I was talking with Coreen.

“I heard you got to finish twice.”

She looked up and flashed a big smile.

A race like this is about riding with people who are or become your friends (or who happen to be your real brother). This is what I like about long mountain bike races. It’s so much more individual that the other people are your competition, but not so seriously that you don’t help, support, and bond with people.

When I was looking for a place to decompress I was passed by three riders. One of them grabbed my saddle and gave my a push up the hill. He looked back, smiled and  then said “OK now its my turn.”

Dave ended up finishing in 5:30, right exactly at his goal time, ahead of me. He rode a great race.

I road with this guy back and forth all day long.

wilmington_2014_old_dude

It’s totally worth saying that this picture was taken after 65 miles of riding. He was an absolute beast on the climbs and would constantly pass me.

“How you feeling young guy?”

“Great. Man you are a strong climber.”

“Thanks!”

Then I would pass him on the descents.

“How you feeling old man?”

“I wish I could be more fearless on the descents like you.” (It was actually quite bizarre, being complimented for “fearless” descending. Love the Ti Salsa El Mariachi 29’er. So dang stable. Salsa you rock!)

It was a total unexpected hoot to ride with Amanda again. I swear that girl must smile all the time. Clearly she was having fun! Turns out Amanda lives kind of in my neck of the woods. About 2 hours south of Lake Placid. Small world.

wilmington_2014_doug and socks

And all of you people who said “Hi I read your blog.” So very cool to meet you all, even if for a short time. Chris, good luck in Leadville! Ride strong and smart.

Me? Well I finished in 5:52. 10 minutes ahead of my pace from last year.

wilmington_2014_doug_finished

I looked at the STRAVA record of this race. My climbs were either as fast as or a little bit faster than what I did last year, with one big exception. The last climb, when my stomach went south, was significantly slower. My descents and single track sections were all WAY faster than what I had previously done.

There are two ways to look at what happened. My time is my time. 5:52. It was about 20 minute slower than what my goal time was (5:30 like Dave’s). Those are the numbers. That’s the first way to see the race. Given the fact that I came into the race wounded and had a few “technical difficulties” it was a good ride. I rode a solid tempo all day long. When things got tough, well I listened to my body and did what I “needed to”. I figure the stomach and gear issues cost me about 10-15 minutes. Even with all that happened I still shaved 10 minutes off my time from last year.

(But Doug you know that little bit of “what would have happened if” leaves you thinking about next year, right? Yes Yeti, it does.)

Wilmington Whiteface 100k, 2014: The Race

Author’s Note: My crew for this race was made up of my super crew: Coreen, Bailey and Noah, plus three extra additions: My two nieces and Jim Murphy of the ADK Luge Club. Jim had some friends from his home who were racing and wanted to come up to bike and watch the race. Jim brought his camera and so all of the pictures in here are from him. Thanks for coming and photographing the event Jim! Jim’s bonus for his trip was discovering that Lake Placid is an awesome place in the summer (even when the ice is off the luge track).

I like to get to the race early to get a little spinning and a little personal hygiene in. Dave and I were delayed just a little bit because of breakfast and so we were a little late getting to the mountain. Nothing serious as we were still able to take care of all of our needs, but it was a little rushed and I didn’t spin as much as I would have normally before a race.

We lined up with 450 or so of our friends to get the race underway.

wilmington_2014_start

The start of this race is paved and downhill (well the actual start is 200 yards up hill, but it then goes into a 5 mile descent to the first climb) and so it is very very fast. I like to be on the outside. Riding with a bunch of mountain bikers in a large pack makes me nervous. I like to have an escape route. Turned out to be a good thing as the people in the pack decided to slow rapidly whenever there was a little climb or turn. But to my knowledge no one went down there.

The first climb is a 3 mile dirt climb. Here I got my first surprise of the day. I was climbing and saw a familiar rider in front of me. Here does she look familiar?

wilmington_2014_socks1

No? How about this?

wilmington_2014_socks

And here, if you still don’t see, from a little race I did last summer…….

peter_leadville_columbine1

“Rainbow socks” (aka Amanda) from Leadville!

I pulled up next to her and said: “Hey Leadville, 10:20 right?”

She looked over, smiled and laughed.

“You are famous with my friends. They all loved you in my write-up of the race.” I didn’t tell her I had requests for her phone number. (And gentlemen, she’s married so be nice! 🙂 )

“One of my friends saw your blog and told me I had to read it.”

“Have a great race and be safe!” Off I went.

I felt pretty good on that climb, topped it and started to descend. Historically I have been slow on the descents. I tend to use my brakes too much. This time I let it rip. Modulating just a little bit here and there to stay in control. The trail was really loose. Dry, but really loose. For once I was passing people going down. That is followed by about a 2 mile paved transition to the second climb.

The second climb starts with what Dave Weins described the day before to the new riders as the steepest paved road he has even been on. Up we went. I was feeling good.

I checked my heart rate monitor a little more this race than I had before. Never really “using it” but using it as a sanity check. My plan was to stay high zone 2 or low zone 3 on the “flat” stuff. Zone 3-4 on the climbs. I knew from my last long ride I could sustain that kind of effort for this distance and I wanted to make sure my tempo was good.

The super crew was waiting at the first station.

Dave got there first. He started hard. I wanted to race my race and so I didn’t try to go with him.

wilmington_2014_dave1

I got there second.

wilmington_2014_aid1_doug

I didn’t ask about Dave. I didn’t want to know.

The second half of the Jay Mountain climb comes right after the crew station. This is a climb I really like. Actually I like both directions on Jay Mountain. Those climbs are the kind that you can settle into and get a really good rhythm going. You just find a comfortable gear and spin away. 20 ish minutes later I was at the top.

I was, again, really fast on the descent down the back side of the mountain.

This race is an out and back, mostly. At the end of the “out” you do a loop of single track before returning. Historically I see the leaders going back well before I get to the single track. I passed the point where I have seen the leaders and wondered if I would get into the single track and NOT see them this year. Well I got close to the single track before the leaders passed by. I was doing pretty good.

The Blueberry Hill single track section has a really steep climb to start it off. The first two years I walked that climb. This year I rode up. There was a woman hiking down talking to the riders. “Walking is OK, don’t worry. Sometimes its just as fast!” I was riding in line behind someone who was walking. Case in point. I flashed her a grin. “Riding is sometimes more fun though!” She smiled back. Then you do a fast steep descent. Again I was feeling good. For the first time I was passing and gapping people on a descent. Then…….

A second very steep climb.

“Damn, I do NOT remember doing this second climb before.” I heard laughter behind me. ” Me either.” Said another rider.

Steep decent, back onto the pavement and ready for the longest climb of the day up Jay Mountain.

wilmington_2014_blueberry_doug

On Strava the climb back over Jay Mountain is called “The Never Ending Climb”. It fits.

(Author’s Note: I met a couple more people on that climb who commented on reading this blog. Funny. Sorry I didn’t chat more, but I was busy)

I continued to feel good on the climb and passed people going on. I was in a good zone mentally and physically.

It was about this time that I started to do math in my head. I don’t know if you all have experienced this but I start to project finish times. OK I have this far to go, this is my time right now, this is my average speed, there is this much climbing left to do, etc. It never really works out very good for me. I tend to round and estimate and there is so much fluf in that, that my estimates give a broad range, which is completely unhelpful. I gave up trying to do math about 3/4 of the way up the climb.

Bomb down the back side of Jay mountain and into the crew station for the second time. 1 coke, 2 bottles, some gels.

“Do I even want to know how far in front of me he is?”

“12 minutes.” OK, not too bad.

I headed out.

The reward for going up the “steepest paved road” is going down the steepest paved road. I hit 43 mph on the pavement, on my mtb! I actually like that better on my mountain bike than I do on my road bike. The beefy tires make me trust them more. Something about trusting a tire that is 23 mm wide makes me pause at high speeds. I never worry about blowing out a mtb tire.

My front derailleur had been working OK so far. I had to be careful shifting into the big ring but it was workable. My neck was OK. My lower back was a little sore. But nothing that I could not handle.

On the transition between the last two big climbs my stomach started to rumble.

 

Wilmington Whiteface 100k, 2014

The thing about races, even races that you know really well, is that things rarely go the way you think they will.

My brother and I got up to Wilmington Saturday morning so that we could do the pre-ride with Rebecca Rush and Dave Weins. Its a great time to ride with a couple of pros who are really just very cool people. We unpacked our bikes from the rack at Whiteface and kitted up. I put on my orange FC jersey and zipped it up. This doesn’t feel right. Why is the bottom of this not fitting me right? Crap that’s Coreen’s jersey. Good thing I packed two jersey’s. Into the Neapolitan, race day, FC jersey.

I did a little bit of spinning to warm the legs some. Up a hill. Down shift into the little chain ring…….. Down shift into the little chain ring……..DOWNSHIFT INTO THE LITTLE CHAIN RING….. WTF????

My bike, which had been working just fine when I left home, was not shifting down into the little chain ring. Crap. Well here come Rebecca and Dave. No time to worry now. Off we went onto the course pre-ride. We do the opening 4 or so miles of the course, then the return 7 miles. It contains most of the start and most of the single track for the race (and the most technical single track on the course) so its nice to see both of those before the race.

This event introduced me in just a tiny way to the world of Elden (aka Fatty) Nelson. I had a comment on here a couple of days ago from a guy in PA named Chris who was going to race Wilmington. He found me at the pre-ride and we introduced ourselves to each other. Kind of cool. Then during the pre-ride another rider came up to me and asked if I was Doug. He said he read this little corner of the internet too. Wow, I am not just writing things down that no one sees. There are at least two people who read this 😉

When we hit the singletrack I tried once again to down shift my front ring. Nothing. Dave (my brother, not the other Dave) asked what was up. Ugh. No time to worry now. We were out riding with friends.

Later I was behind Rebecca on the singletrack.

“Hey Rebecca, I’m a sponsored rider now.”

….Laughter…”Really?”

“Yeah, Elden is paying me $5 to wear the FC kit!”

The last part of the pre ride was a little 1/4 mile section of single track that is a technical piece of work. It is in the woods and heavily rooted. That’s where I hooked my handlebar last year and tried to break my ribs. I got through that section nicely. Even around the guy who endo’d in front of me going down some root steps. I am really pleased with how my bike handling is coming along.

I had a picture snapped with me and Rebecca for my sponsor to use in promotional material.

“Did Elden really send you $5?”

wilmington_2014_doug_and_rebecca

“I told him to donate it to WBR.”

“Perfect!”

If you ever have a chance to ride with either Dave or Rebecca DO IT! They are great fun. I think they like riding with other people too.

The good news from the pre-ride was that my neck held up OK. The massage and other treatments seamed to help a lot. Drop the worry down on that a couple of notches.

Now it was time to see what was up with my bike. I put it up on the bike rack and inspected it. The front derailleur was clean and moving freely. It just wasn’t shifting. I did decided to try the limit switch to see if I could get it to go down. OK, that worked. Now back up to the big ring. The chain when right past the ring and off. Crap. I did a little more adjusting on the limit switch.  But could not get it to work properly.

“Dave we have to go to the bike shop. I cannot fix this.”

So off we went to Placid Planet. One of the bike shops in town. I had taken my other bike there last year before this race and the guys there remembered me.

“You were riding that Ti Basso last year right?”

“Yeah, my son is using it now.”

“Leave your bike. We will take care of it.”

So with my bike in the hospital, we went and walked around Lake Placid. I needed Sport Beans. They are my cramp solution. And I always cramp at some point. Then cheese from Temptations, the cheese shop (they know me and Noah personally!).

At 5pm I walked over to the bike shop.

“Doug, we are struggling with what to charge you for this. There is a problem.” (Oh boy!) “The cage on your front derailleur was all bent up. We do not have a compatible replacement. So we straightened it out as best as we could. Its way better than it was. We can get it to switch from the big ring to the little ring reliably. But you can only go from the little to the big when you are in 1 or 2 specific gears in the back. If you are in a bigger ring in the back it will not go up. If you are in too small of a ring in the back it shifts past the ring in the front and binds in the cranks. We have it set for what we think is the best we can do. I am sorry. I wish I had a replacement.”

“Just appreciate that you guys worked on it. I will make do. Thanks for the help.”

As near as I can tell, my bike must have rotated on the rack (the bikes are held by the top tube on my rack) while we were driving up and banged into Dave’s pedal. There are scratch marks on the crank consistent with that. Like I say it was in perfect condition when we left home.

I biked around a little bit and got used to my new reality.

A Wounded Fatty

I had a great post all lined up in my head for today about ritual.

I love the week leading up to a race and the ritual that goes into race prep. Rituals make me feel relaxed and calm. Cleaning and lubing my bike. Checking my tires. Tuning the shifting. Checking the brakes. Making sure I have everything I need in my saddle bag (tube, tire tools, multi tool, CO2 inflator, CO2 charges, master chain link, dollar bill). The act of caring for my bike is calming and it puts me in a good space.

Then there is the riding. Tuesday off. Wednesday race prep intervals (4x 90 second sprints, 1×10 minute race pace, rest easy), Thursday mellow, Friday off (though I was planning on cheating that a little bit to ride with my brother today), Saturday easy spin with 4×90 second sprints, Sunday warm up (20 minutes)……. Race. I love riding with fresh legs. Races are almost like gifts. A ride with fresh legs? Yeah love it.

That was going to be my post today, but with more detail. Right until I woke up this morning…. with an intense pain in my neck.

There are days when getting old really sucks. Those days when you wake up with some muscle all bunch up because of something you did yesterday, or something you did while sleeping, or for no particular reason at all.

I have had this neck problem a couple of times before. I must sleep funny on my shoulder periodically. When it happens I wake up I cannot rotate my head. It hurts. And it usually lasts for a few days. And right now it is a serious problem as I am supposed to be doing a MTB race in two days. Mountain biking….. The bike discipline that requires upper body movement and strength. The sport that requires you to look ahead on a trail to pick lines on curving twisting stuff. Not being able to turn your head is a problem if you are planning on going mountain biking.

As soon as I woke up I knew I had a problem and what it was. I took two Advil (skipping right to the full dose) and got out the heating pad. When the drug store opens I am buying some Icy Hot. All of these help.

As luck would have it, my supper awesome wife scheduled a pre-race massage for me today. The person we get massages from is awesome. I was looking forward to getting my legs all loosened up and supercharged. Now I am hoping she can get the knot in my neck/shoulder to soften a little bit.

This is NOT a part of my race week ritual.

What experience has shown me is that I need 3 or 4 days to start feeling better. What I am trying to do is do what I can and stay relaxed (still looking forward to caring for my bike this afternoon! Probably skipping the ride with my brother.)  so that I can heal and hopefully be able to ride Sunday morning.

I am a Jeep….. so I need a jeep race

If we go with the premiss from my last post that I am not fast, but I can bike a long time, well there really is only one race for me….. Tour Divide.

This, by the way, should not be a shock to anyone who has talked to me. I’ve talked and joked about it before.

If you are unfamiliar with Tour Divide it is a mountain bike race that goes from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. It is a self supported mountain bike race that runs along the continental divide (hence the name). The course is 2745 miles long and there is approximately 200,000 ft of climbing. There is a really excellent movie about the race “Ride the Divide”. (The best way to watch the movie is on a big screen with good sound, but in a pinch the YouTube link will work too!) Jill Homer also wrote a book about this race: “Be Brave Be Strong”. Its a really good read and according to Amazon $2.95 for the Kindle Version. A steal!

So what is this race all about? It’s a single stage race meaning that the clock starts running when you start and doesn’t end until you finish. You set your own pace and bike as much as you can. (Slow people will average 110 miles a day and take 25-30 days to do the race. Faster people are more in the 160 miles/day range.)  It’s self supported which means that, well you are on your own. You can sleep in any publicly allowed place (i.e. hotels, motels, hostels, the woods, etc.) but you may not arrange for private lodging. It must be available to all people. You may not get outside support, so no one can drive behind you with supplies and you cannot meet up with people for resupply. You can utilize any services you need along the way (including bike shops) to purchase equipment or supplies. But you need to get yourself from Banff to Antelope Wells, on your own.

Why? Well when I started biking I thought that at some point I would like to ride across the US on a bike. My original thought was a traditional road bike trip West Coast to East Coast. Then I got a mountain bike. Then I learned about Tour Divide. I knew then that my route would be North to South. (Fewer cars, better scenery. Yeah, there are bears, but that’s OK.)

Tour Divide is all about pacing and endurance. It’s about pushing yourself not for hours, but for days. It’s about finding you limit and riding right there. Its about the forever speed. It’s about finding flow. And it’s intensely personal.

Something like RAAM doesn’t really appeal to me. I don’t want to do this with people in a car pushing me, telling me when to get on the bike, when to sleep, when to eat, forcing me to continue. I want to do this myself.

Coach Drew and I have talked about this. There is a lot that has to go into it. Training, prepping, the actual ride. On the training side, well it depends on what your goal is. Winning requires a lot of training like anything. Being able to complete the route in a “competitive time” requires less. This is right now where my goal is. Training on that level is really not going to be a whole lot different from what I am doing right now (I have started to research this). It’s about the forever speed.

Coreen and I have also started to talk about this race. There is a lot that has to go into it. 🙂 Family being the most important. I am luck with work that I pretty easily fit it in. But with family time away is a big deal. My goal is to find the balance. Balance between my relationship with Coreen, being with my kids (who are growing up and will too soon be big enough to move out), and working on me. There is also the balance between doing this while I can and not knowing what will happen down the road. I want to do this right.

The “penciled” in time in my brain is 3 summers from now, but that is still being discussed. That gives me time to get some more experience biking, racing distance etc. I want to do some longer races (maybe a 24 hour race and/or a mtb stage race). I also want to do some bike packing. You know silly stuff like that.

Knowing…….deep down…….

I’ve been feeling a little philosophical about my bike racing and riding. It’s been going on for a couple of months. I’ve been enjoying this year and am looking forward to racing Whiteface on Saturday and ORAMM in July. (Though truthfully I am freaking out  a little about ORAMM.) But really this year has lacked the inner intensity that last year did getting ready for Leadville. It doesn’t have that “‘F’ it the weather is crap for training and I LOVE it” intensity.

Whiteface is a fun race. I know the course. I know what to expect. But it’s getting to be predictable, so has lost the “can I do this” gloss. (Second climb: 4 hard 20% grade stretches, two right away, a false flat, a 3rd 20% grade, a longer false flat, don’t relax you are not there yet, one last really steep section, a long flat section, first aid station, 30 more minutes of grind it 6-10% grade, a final 100 yard 24% grade to the top. Long fast downhill. Yeah I got that.)

I am also excited (and nervous) about ORAMM. In someways its a good race for me. Long, lots of steep climbing. And in someways it’s not a good race for me. Lots of steep technical downhill.

I am decidedly not “fast”. (And I smile and feel funny about saying that since it is so subjective.) There is a very real reason why that is true and it’s not likely to change. It has to deal with the cards I have been dealt physically and at some point I will/may reveal why that is. (Though it may take a couple of beers to write that post.) I am racing with my brother at both Wilmington and ORAMM this year. I beat him last year at Wilmington. At some point he will probably become faster than me, though I will do everything I can to not let that happen this year! He will likely beat me at ORAMM as he is a better technical rider than I am. But there is enough uphill there that we will have to see. In all honesty, I doubt I will ever be anything more than a midpack racer, even in endurance races. Shorter XC races? Ugh. It’s just not a place where I can excel physically. (Well except when I race down 🙂 ) This doesn’t make these races “unfun”, it just means I am racing a different race.

So I sit here and deep in my heart I know what I really want to do next with my biking. I know where I am taking this whole experience. Yeti knows and we have been talking. Coreen knows too, but we are going to have to figure some things out to make it happen.