Sunday, August 30, 2009


Looking over the training log it seems that I've jumped over the 4000 mile season total. I'm a little taken back at that number. It kinda surprised me knowing that last season I rode 3300 miles ALL season long and there's still 3 solid months left. Of course the increase is due partially to the renewed confidence in my road bike. Last year I had some issues so I stayed away and this year I'd say 60% of my training has been on the road bike. Partially since it's been so dang rainy. I'm curious to see what the future holds and how I hold up till the end of the season.

Mechanicsville VA Ride

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Untitled

Shared via AddThis

Went down to Mechanicsville VA this weekend for a little family party of my girlfriends and of course had to find a way to get a nice ride in. I packed up my Lemond and crammed it into the back of her Tiburon and headed off for the weekend. Nice flat ride with a bunch of nice rolling undulations and lots of 18 wheelers trying to run me off the road. Actually there was one farm tractor that scared the crap out of me as it rolled up next to me at 20 mph and I looked over and the top of the wheel was above my head. Actually the bottom of the tractor was taller than me - it could have actually driven over me and not touched me it was so tall. Pretty entertaining to see it on the road. Got some good intervals in although I wasn't feeling so fresh. I took it easy for the remainder of the time knowing I'll unleash whatever I have next week at the Shenandoah 100. It's almost here...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SM100 on the horizon

Lets see - only 11 days left until I head into the George Washington National Forest and feel the lactic acid start building in my legs. The SS was a possibility for this race but at this point I think that would be a big mistake. Especially since I haven't done an SS ride this year - or ever - over 20 miles. I think that was the main reason I've decided against it. The other reason is that I really would like some redemption from last years poor effort. I remember it being a little greasy but nothing that would have made me finish in my time of 10:39. That was the longest 100 miler(timewise)by 3 minutes that I have ever completed. And at that point I was lucky just to have completed it.

I remember last year thinking that the race should be pretty manageable but I didn't realize the recovery I would need for a race like this. I pre-rode the course last year two weeks prior and bonked hard and that would not set me up terribly well to perform in the SM100. This year I'm coming off of a good race at the Fools Gold 100 and a nice 3 week span until the SM100. This gives great recovery time and should help me have some juice to take a nice bite out of the time it took to finish last year.

Admittedly I knew that last year that I could be pretty cooked at that point in the season and looking back I was. I came off the 4th climb in BAD shape. Actually once I crested the top of the climb I was so shaky on the descent that I actively had to dodge trees and stop myself from blacking out. One of the photographers got a great shot of me rolling out of the next aid station with my face flushed and my eyes practically rolling back in my head as I start the 18 mile climb. Not the shape I want to attempt any race in.

So as the early prediction I am hoping to complete the SM100 in 9:15 or quicker. There's too many races under my belt this season to hope for a sub 9 - although that would be a treat. So that's my call for now and I'm going to see what the weather brings and how reachable that goal is. Either way I've already had a great season and I'm just looking forward to besting my PR and putting back a few cold ones after wrapping up my NUE experience for 2009.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Miles of Uninterupted Rides Lead to Today's Mishaps

Went out for a local group ride with a group of 6 people in West Milford today. The group has a little hill climb competition and I just thought I'd show up and get in the mix. I knew full well there were some solid climbers there so I know I'd have some fun. The group was supposed to be as large as 10 but with the dreary start only 5 showed initially and one more was picked up later in the ride.

We went into the first hill about 5 miles or so in the ride and hit this 1/2 mile wall which my legs and heart were not ready for. I tagged onto the lead 2 and let up as it was just too early to push that hard. Down the other side and perfect...flat tire. Stopped to replace the tube and we were off and regrouped to aim for climb #2. This climb was a little better as it was longer and more gradual. Perfect. The usual group of 3 took off and soon it was only me and 1 other. We punched it up a steep section and I pulled ahead thinking I was at the top of the climb...nope. So I let up knowing I did the hard part of the climb and started to chat with my competition which was doing a chill pace. We rode a social pace letting the other climber catch up and we rolled to the actual finish together. I was happy to put down a nice effort even though it's only been a week since my last 100 miler. It felt good. Hard but good.

Shortly after I had to hit my tire again with C02...great. Down the next down. More C02. Into climb #3 the leadout was going well and then I stood up and felt the pavement through each pedal stroke. Great. Tube #2 was done. CO2 #3 was done. aggravating. So once my tire was inflated again i eeked my way up the climb and rejoined the group. All that lie ahead was an easy cruise to my buddy's place where I had parked.

Once there we replaced my tire and tube #3 and I set out with a new setup that should be unproblematic. "Should" be. I then headed out with only 1 buddy on an extension of the previous ride. I did the next section of the ride and just before I got to the end of this part of the ride I picked up a huge piece of steel that shredded my tire. SONOFAB*TCH!!! This really wasn't my day. What was next? Were the stars aligning against me? So my buddy rode the few miles home and grabbed his truck to help get me back to my car since the tire was shredded with a 5/8" slice in my tire and there was no fixing this one. Back to my car and I drove home with 58 miles and 3:30 ride time. I wasn't happy with that. I wanted over 60 miles and 4 hours of ride time.

Arriving back at my apartment I dropped off my cursed Madone and opted for my Lemond Reno backup roadie. Quick pedal change, water stop, and throw a little food down and I was out again. This time doing a little loop around Parsippany and into Boonton to cap off my ride. Picked a nice route and went easier just to spin out the legs and finally it went as planned. No mechanicals, no flying pigs, just a normal ride. So I put on an extra 1:23 and an extra 22 miles.

So all in all I guess it was a frustrating ride but a good one nonetheless. 80 miles in 4:53 with 5300' of vert. One of these days I'm actually going to have to complete a road century. Is it normal to have completed 9 dirt centuries but have not completed a road century yet? Plenty of 70 + 80 mile rides but no 100's. Maybe this fall.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Holy Miles Batman!

Just perusing my training log from last year to this year and I know that I'm doing better this year but I don't really know how I'd quantify it. Well here's the numbers.

Last year as of today's date: 235 hours and 2205 miles

This year as of today's date: 324 hours and 3774 miles

Not a bad jump in training. Plus there's another huge detail - this year's riding has been very disciplined and structured. Last year was not. So with that said it's looking like a pretty solid year. When I saw those numbers I kinda surprised myself - that's pretty cool!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fools Gold 100 Race Recap

Who is that handsome guy on the far left????? Photo courtesy of my awesome girl De!

I arrived late Thursday night in Dahlonega Georgia to get ready for my first new race of the NUE series. Admittedly I wanted to try this race for the new venue as well as the anticipated small starting field to help my chances in the NUE series overall. Since there were only 46 people registered I had my sights set on a top 20 or maybe even a very slight chance of top 15 knowing well that the top 12 or so would be full on pros.

Feeling pretty decent after a nice preride on Friday I knew the end of the course wouldn't be bad and it could help with the mental aspect of the race. It would already be a tough course since it was two 50 mile laps and would be rough heading out for lap 2. I was hoping to keep a good pace and pass whatever aid stations I could as it was around 10 miles between aid stations. The main battle would be keeping off the cramps in the muggy august heat in GA.

At 7 am sharp the race was on and into the 10 mile fireroad climb we went. As I looked ahead I saw Eatough driving the pace and a LARGE group of singlespeeders mixed in with the likes of Tanguy, Lichtenwalner, and hanging onto the back of the group of 20 or I knew the initial climb was about 4-5 miles so I just wanted to hang on as long as I could. Through the climb I was with them for the first two miles or so and then I had to start easing back as did some of the rest. I kept hammering with a group of 3 singlespeeders that got shot off the lead group and we just paced each other and kept on it. We marked each other on the climbs and really pulled hard through the 10 mile climb. On the downhill though I was very confident and pulled away taking chances on the hard loose turns. I wouldn't see anybody else for a while until the second singletrack 10 mile climb where these same guys started to catch up again. We cruised through the climb and on the next descent I dropped them. This was working well until I hit a slow section of singletrack where I heard the voices sneaking up on me.

I hit a section of really fast smooth singletrack carving through a pine forest. I kept standing and putting the power down and then in one turn my bike disappeared from underneath me. In the attempt to add some extra speed I must have let my front wheel drift a little off the edge of the trail or caught a root or something. All I know was the wheel was gone and I was doing a 20+ mph summersault over the bars and into a sharp piney tree with my name written all over it. When I stopped I was basically doing a headstand at the base of the tree with my bibs torn and caught on the tree and my bike using me for an air bag. Luckily I came out virtually unscathed. I checked to make sure my junk (and my bike)was still in one piece and kept on it.

Then the next problem started to arise. On each fire road I would reach down and flip my lever on the fork to lock it out so I could stand and grind out the climbs. Well each time I did this there was less and less movement of the lever until you guessed it...the lever would not come off the lockout. I now had a rigid fork for the remainder of the 60 miles. This was ok since I could deal with it but just be a little slower than I needed to on the downhills.

The one thing that seemed to go right thankfully was my nutrition and hydration. That was on. Every 50 minutes to an hour I ate, drank, and took my endurolytes and there were NO signs of ANY cramping. Thank goodness. I didn't want to deal with that monster on top of my other troubles. Then bad luck comes in threes, so my front derailleur stopped working. I had to start yanking on the cable with my hand and start shifting all over the place and it started to work...somewhat. It was never really right.

So with all the problems I was lucky to be alive after my near death experience and started to just relax and finish the lap. 4 hours and 24 minutes later I crossed the start/finish for lap two and got a cold powerade thanks to my cold cooler waiting for me, and started the 10 mile climb again. It was going to be a long day at this point. I checked my GPS and the climb took me 1:13 when it only took me 0:53 the first time around. Yikes... I started to go into reserve mode. The realization set in that I might not be recovered from the Wilderness 101 two weeks ago. So I thought to myself to take it easy and just enjoy the rest of the race.

Well that didn't last long. I got to the next aid station and the volunteer so graciously told me that was in 10th place in my class. WTF??? are you serious? Great now I actually had to race again. So I took off down the next descent and rode the remaining 40 miles looking over my shoulder to see when that guy would take the 10th place away from me. Grinding away I still didn't see any riders coming up. Finally I took the last few turns and realized 10th was mine. 10th place in 9:39 in a long hard fought day when a lot went wrong. I could have been much worse and it could have been much better. I am just grateful I got to finish and make some nice lemonade with the pile of sh*t that was handed to me ;-)

Photo courtesy of mattisonbarne's picasa album.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Progress and Relief

With the passing of this years Wilderness 101 I can officially say that my two premier events(Mohican 100 being the other) have passed and I am completely satisfied with my performance of each. They were completely different and both very satisfying. All of my work this season has paid off and it's been really nice to see the progress that I've been making.

So with that said I think it's time to enjoy the rest of my season and not worry too much about making certain time goals and riding myself into oblivion. Even as I type that though I know I'm still going to dig too deep and meet whatever new goals I make up in my head so take it with a grain of salt. Once this competitive vibe sets in is there really a way to decrease it? Doubtful...

For the remainder of my season it's 6 races. 2 hundies, 3 local H2H races, and a Halloween night TT. Next up is the Fools Gold 100 which will be a first for me as the humidity in mid August in Georgia has seemed overwhelming but I'm going to take a stab at it. It's two 50 mile laps and hopefully some really sweet singletrack. I know there's a ton of elevation involved which is fine as long as there's not 40 miles of super techy slow singletrack. That would make for a really long day. From what I've read and heard I shouldn't be disappointed. Looking forward to it in only 11 days. I'm not exactly sure how the recovery game will play out but hopefully I'll have some game on race day.

The next big race will be the Shenandoah 100. This is one beautiful area and an amazing course. I've been to this race last year and also prerode it before the race so it'll be my third time on the course. Of all the 100's I know this one the best. It'll be nice since it'll be towards the end of the season and with a decent race at the Fools Gold it should hold no bearing on my finish in the NUE series. Since I'll have the 4 finishes SM100 will be my fifth and unless I have a jet pack strapped to my bike I doubt that I'd come any where near my other finishes since the entire east coast seems to attend the Shenandoah race, and they are all faster than me.

The debate is already starting for Shenandoah though. Since it will be a race that personally will be more fun, do I try to enjoy besting my horrid time of 10:39 last year with the gears, or do I try and finish the race on my SS. The debate will linger on in my head any way. It may depend on how badly I want to treat my body or actually have some juice left to race the remainder of the H2H races.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Successful W101 Strategy

Since 2009 was my third attempt at the 101 I felt I knew the course well enough to actually set time goals for each aid station.

They went as follows assuming good dry conditions(which conditions weren't):

Aid 1(19 miles) 1:15
Aid 2(40 miles) 2:30
Aid 3(60 miles) 4:30
Aid 4(74 miles) 6:00
Aid 5(89 miles) 7:30
Finish 8:30

My actual times through each aid station
Aid 1 1:13 -2
Aid 2 2:40 +10
Aid 3 4:27 -3
Aid 4 6:04 +4
Aid 5 ??? GPS Died
Finish 8:48 +18

A pretty successful tactic which I will definitely use in the future.

Wilderness 101 Race Report 2009

Well in the tradition of the east coast races so far this season, the entire day before the race it poured. I got into Coburn park Friday morning and parked by the biggest tree I could find to pitch my tent under some cover. The rivers that I passed getting there looked like class 5 rapids. Not a great sign - but I was optimistic. It was slick and greasy. I tried to downplay it for the mental advantage. As the course went on it was just grinding through semi sloppy trails that were just draining energy with every pedal stroke. After a while it started to add up. There was a lot of haze in the first 40 miles but then the sun came out and started to help dry the course. Also with all the rain and then the sun on race day it started to bake everything and REALLY kick up the humidity. So not only was it slick from the previous rain but then the rocks were sweating too. Great recipe for 101 miles.

Anyway I went out hot and held onto the lead group up most of the first climb and then just couldn't hold onto the pace. I started to slip back and myself and a bunch of others in the same predicament formed group #2. We were pace-lining and killing it for a while but somewhere around 18 miles in I got spit off the back and just paced myself on my own. I rolled through Aid #1 in great shape and passed it up and kept rolling up the fire road climb. Down the fast descent and back to the fast gravel roads I kept on the pace knowing there were short climbs but generally fast terrain into Aid #2. I grabbed water and kept on flying solo.

Since I was now alone and probably would be for the rest of the race it was just me and my memories of the previous years to do battle. The first big climb after aid 2 was my nemesis last year and this year I rode it solidly. I saved a little bit coming into it and just rode it consistently. I alternated sitting and standing to keep a decent pace and having the length of the climbs listed on my top tube was key. That climb was 4 miles and just as I got to where mile 4 should be on my GPS it was over. PERFECT!!! Down the backside the descent was rugged as usual but when I hit the gravel roads the battle turned to nutrition and hydration. Up the next 2.5 mile climb I had a lot of confidence but my GPS went on the fritz. I had the distance figured out on my GPS but then the mileage started counting down backwards?!?!?! WTF? So I had to keep on and use the previous knowlede to gauge where the top of the climb was. I misjudged it several times and got to the top steady but not as strong as I'd hoped. I didn't feel overly powerful.

I think the big block of riding I did last weekend or just the season in general was wearing on me. But I stayed consistent and had no bonking. All I used was my flasks of gel, bananas, and endurolytes and thats all that I needed. I did have my bouts of cramps which tried to knock me down but I pushed through them and kept on it. My timer on my GPS was set for every 50 minutes and shortly after it alarmed I ate, drank and took my endurolytes.

On to Aid #3 where the next battle took place. I topped my water off, grabbed two cups of cold coke and attacked the singletrack climb. Tipping steeply upwards at first and then slowly giving up the grade the climb wore on and on. Grimy and slippery I kept on it and got through the second big battle of the day. But then the fun came. After the Sassafras climb comes the fast twisty then off camber loose steep descent. This then leads to the shaley off camber descent. It was a little sketchy but fun as hell. Dropping to the bottom is where it hits a gravel road and you turn left to hit a short but fairly steep climb. On the top of the climb there's a right turn onto the singletrack where the rocky techy ridge is. Major fun here! Once it's done it gives up and rolls down to Aid #4.

Under the overpass and into Aid #4 I once again topped off just water and rolled out to hit the next two climbs. The first one is the pain where it's eroded fire road and then turns to the grassy but rocky climb. This is pretty relentless it seems with the fatigue factor but once the top is gained the work is really over. Down the backside on a couple of fast doubletracks and climbing the beatup fire road that gives way to the gravel climb is where the climbing almost ends. It's a relief just to get here. Once the last bigger climb was done the trail tilts downward as to tease you that Aid #5 is still a little too far away. A fast singletrack descent starts but then there are a couple steep bursts around a fenceline that pop up. I blieve 3 or 4 total. This then returns back to the gravel road but only to enter the last horrible, and painfully annoying section of slight downhill rugged madness. Here's where you fly around the mud holes and grind slowly down hill until the trail gets thinner and not well traveled. Banging downhill on lots of rocks and shaley sections just gets annoying. The only saving grace is knowing that Aid #5 is really close by. It finally gives up and you hit the gravel road with about 2 miles to ride before the aid.

Aid #5 was a quick one again as I hit the water and warm coke...blah. On to the rail bed. Here's where I tried to put down some power as I knew the 8 hour finish was getting late and I wanted to beat that 9 hour mark. Constantly standing to accelerate I pushed the pace alone. It turned to road and I kept the same pace. All the time knowing the last climb was coming. I made the hard left onto the last gravel climb and it was on. Being longer than I remembered I used the motivation of a fellow rider Bill Nagel to help me out. We had seen each other in a few spots and were just trying to finish the best I could. We finally made the top and descended side by side. We hit the fisherman's trail and both dismounted and hiked through only to mount up and hit the rail trail. We hit the rail and worked together. I didn't have much leg power left so Bill volunteered to pull and I gladly accepted. He did most of the work although I did a few pulls into the final stretch with the bridge and tunnel. We made it out the other side and killed the final road section pretty quickly. We rode in side by side and I bowed down at the line as he did most of the work getting to the finish line.

All the places I've fallen apart in the previous races I stayed strong and really had a solid race. I was hoping to break 9 hours and I got my goal. Race finish was 8:48 and I finished 45th overall of 300? and 32nd in the geared division. Last year's time was 9:51, 91st overall and 59th in geared division on a course in much better shape, so I'm very happy with the results given the conditions and with how I felt in general. With a dry course I bet that time would have been 15-20 minutes faster. Great day, great workout, and now time for some great recovery since I'm doing it all over again in Georgia in 2 weeks. It was great to see the familiar faces out there and meet some new ones that helped motivate me over the course. Great work to all!