Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back to the Wilderness

First off I want to give a shout out to Roger who has just started his own blog Dirt and Gears make sure to check it out. Secondly, I gotta start remembering to take pictures. It's just hard to remember to take pictures on a training ride. It's just so hard to break the flow to stage a photo.

Friday, I woke up late and my plans to hit Reagan park were foiled right off the back. I wanted to get something in so I jumped on my road bike with my trusty garmin in hand and set off to do a quick interval set. If you haven't used a garmin or haven't found this feature yet, the programmable interval work outs are a nice feature to have. It comes with a bunch that are more tailored for running but with some simple tweaks, like changing some of the intervals and lengthen some. Most are usable right out of the box. All you have to do is pick the one you want to do and little pop up windows pop up to tell you what to do. Anyway, Friday I decided to try out a new one I had programmed in, the Dirty Thirty. There's many variations but the idea is max effort for short periods of time and short recoveries, back to back. I choose to do 10 second max effort, 10 rest, 15 second max, 15 rest, 30 second max then 30 seconds rest, with a couple 2 minute recoveries thrown in. I did this set six times. The 10 and 15 second efforts I did as full on sprints in a hard gear, while the 30 second one I sprinted for the first 10-15 seconds and then kept up the effort seated. The idea is to simulate mountain bike race pace with hard efforts with little time to recover. It should help my racing pace if I keep doing it.

Saturday I met my friend Mike (Bionic Knee) for a ride at Vultures Knob. I felt in good form and my new fork and rear Derailleur finally made my Full suspension Pro-caliber not feel like a sluggish off. The new fork took at least two pounds off the bike which made a huge difference in it's corner. This and my good form made for a good ride for me, hitting all the technical sections with ease. It wasn't a horribly fast session but it was still a blast. It was also a big step for me since Mike was the rider I chased all last season, barely hanging onto his wheel and this year I was leading with ease and pulling away at times.

Sunday I met my friend Roger (mentioned above, have you checked his blog yet? No? Well go check it out and then finish reading mine!) met up at Mohican Wilderness. We did two whole laps with 2500 feet of pure off road climbing and my legs are begging for mercy. Bike worked perfectly again, but I remember it being a lot smoother the last time around. My hard tail gave me a beating on some of the fast descents. Roger is a strong rider and put me through my paces today. It was a good ride, I completed all the climbs and all the rock gardens. Thanks Rays indoor mountain bike park for the that!

This week is still up in the air. Either Monday or Tuesday will be a recovery day (depending on which day it's going to rain) and Wednesday hopefully the weather will hold out for another CAMBA group ride. Thursday will be a day off then it's off the Blue Knob State Park for the CAMBA summer campout, three days of riding. I'll be in heaven. I'll promise to take pictures on that one.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My little experiment (Vultures Knob Race)

I was lucky enough to have today off for a "training race" at Vultures Knob. Since it wasn't a ombc race I decided to have a go at the next class up, Sport. Since no series points where at stake I had nothing to lose.

I was really excited to step up and see what I could do in the sport class. Off the line I grabbed the holeshot. They had changed the prologue to a more flat section that stayed away from the twisty technical section that gave everyone so much trouble last time. This was a welcome change as it strung out the field much better. I got out in front and let into the single track, I looked over my shoulder to see where everyone was and heard a familiar voice, "Don't worry, we got a good gap on them." It was my good friend Roger. Knowing that I was pacing a friend up front made me push even harder. I peaked above 180 4 times in the mile and a half. This took it's toll on me and the chase group finally caught up to me and passed me. Roger kept going on and ended his day with a second place, congrats to him as he rode a great race.

Soon, the second chase group caught me and passed me. I just couldn't go any faster, my heart rate was pegged above 170 for the first two miles and I finally couldn't push harder. I settled into my own pace and just hung on off the back of the pack. I was still pushing hard and when I hit the gravity jump I went full speed and had my entire body compress because of the G-force. My chin almost touched the bars I fell so low. I trudged on until mile seven where I clipped a tree with my handlebar at about 15 mph. I flew over the bars, dislodging my seatpost and handlebars and ripping the helmet from my head. I don't remember much of it.I remember hitting the tree and then moaning to the rider, Julie Sroka, behind me as she asked if I was ok. It must have been a sight to see from her vantage point, and it took me a while to move out from under my bike. Surveyed the damage, my bike looked fine, but the retention system on my helmet was done. So I decided that I was done. Rode back out to the start and dnf'ed for the first time.

Overall, I'm glad I went up a class. I know I'm a strong novice rider and now I know that I'm not quite ready for sport. This is a learning year for me, and I learned a lot today. By the end of the summer I'm sure I'll be able to hang with the sport riders but I'm not quite there yet. I also learned that my Kenda Karma's, while good in damp to muddy/wet, don't handle as well in dry conditions. The deep and far apart knobs just didn't grip in the dry and loose conditions but a pair of Kenda Small Block 8's would have been perfect, which I will be picking up soon. I now have some time off between races to get back into training and come back stronger.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Group ride and other things.

Sorry for no pictures.

This week marked the opening of West Branch and Medina and also the start of the summer group ride schedule. So it's been a pretty busy week for me on the bike. Before I worked the dinner shift at work on Monday I went through and overhauled my drivetrain. Got xt derailleurs (front and rear) and shifter and all new cables. It was a longer task than I expected mainly because while everything was off the bike I figured it was the perfect time to give the bike a thorough cleaning. Monday was the official opening of West Branch so I had to go out there Tuesday.

I have very mixed feelings about West Branch. It's the closest longer trail to my house and it's a decent trail, but for some reason I don't get excited about it. It has roots and rocks and hills and descents and some tricky technical stuff but I never come away excited about the ride like I do at other trails. I also tend to hurt myself on that trail. So I went out there Tuesday to give it another go, maybe with my endurance and skills progressing over the winter I might enjoy it more.

I get out there and within a half mile I misjudge a descent and end up in a tree. This gives me an incredible Charley horse on the inside of my thigh. I finish lakeside and I'm feeling good so I head over to Rock Gorge. I'm doing well and clearing stuff I didn't clear last year, still can't get up the hill after the river crossing but still feeling good about it. I'm cruising along a flat section and clip a tree with my handlebars which sends me over the bars. I get up and soldier on. Still feeling good I head over to Bit O' Honey. Why I don't know. Last year towards the end of August I fell on this trail and hurt myself pretty badly. Today was no different, in fact where I fell is where I had fallen on that ride last year. Once again I banged up my knee which I've been icing since then and is healing nicely.

Wednesday was the return of my favorite group ride. CAMBA holds a group ride every Wednesday at Reagan Park. Almost always a good turnout and it's a great course. Last year I was a solid mid-to front of the B group. I had debated what ride to do before hand because of the knee injury so I arrived early and did a lap of the Huffman Park Trail. I felt great, no knee pain and I had energy. So I decided on the A group. Nancy Desmond led the A group and played sweeper and I took the front to set the pace. I set out a little below race pace, I wasn't sure of the tempo so I figured a little below would work. Hit the first climb at Huffman and looked behind me and no one was there.I had gapped the A group, the group on the one ride that I was off the back of and barely held on last year, and today I was pulling away from them, this would be how the entire evening went.

I kept having to set up and cool my tempo. I'm not saying I was faster than the people in the A group, because I know there are fast riders in there, Johnny P, Robert Shroka, Mike Farley, Nancy Desmond, all riders who are fast and quick. It was just that day I was feeling great. I know the course better than any course, my bike was in the best condition and lightest it's been. I don't know what it was but I just never tired and did the entire 10 miles in the big ring.

Today I went to West Branch for another CAMBA group ride. And boy did I not feel good. Three days of hard riding had down it's damage. I hung onto the A group for the entire Lake Side loop. Towards the end I ran into my team mate Mike and we rode the Lake Side loop backwards. He was flying and my tired legs felt like lead.

This weekend I will be doing the Vultures Knob race, and either Mohican State Park or The Valley Death Ride.

Monday, May 18, 2009

West Branch Group Ride

West Branch is finally open so I will be out there Sunday to ride the trail. Meet me at ten o'clock at the trail head. I'll be in my CAMBA Jersey.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Wild. OMBC race #4

Well today the cycling gods did not have me in their favor. I shouldn't have raced today and all week I had switched back and forth about going or not. I had two hard efforts in my legs right before the race and had to work the day before so I never got a chance to recover.I don't regret going to the race today, and I'm not mad or let down. I'm neutral over the whole affair. I know bad days will happen and the hands of god will dictate when a part will decide to go, and when planning my race schedule I added extra races for days like these. Truthfully, I've been somewhat lucky, two of the first three races were done in extreme conditions with lots of mud. Everything worked perfectly and I got two wins in bad conditions. 

But what can I say, today was not to be. Off the line I slotted into second position. I had burned a few matches and I was happy to sit there until I got my second wind. About 4 guys slotted in behind me. One rider said after the race that he had done so to pace himself as he figured I would have been near the front. I only got two miles in and my head was clogged, I felt like I was about to puke. I guess I have a slight cold which was made worse by my hard effort so I let the four riders go by, no reason to kill myself. I knew I was working hard because my heart rate was pegged close to 190. I settled down to a decent pace and tried to not lose any more places. My legs felt fine but my body had no energy to give. Because I was not feeling good it was hard to stay focused and I made some stupid mistakes and have a couple scrapes to show for it.

I was soon swallowed up by the expert class riders, and shortly after by the sport riders. My friend John Proppe came through and we chatted for a brief second as I explained how my body was rebelling against me. Right after John came my teammate Mike and finally Rusty. Both were pushing hard and looking good. 

Right after they went by, and around halfway my derailleur hanger got bent, sucking my derailleur towards my spokes. The deraileur looked fine but I will be getting a new one later this week. I knew it was to far to bend back so I took it off and tried to make it a single speed, wrapping the now defunct cable around my top tube. This is easier said then done when you mind is cloudy and you are on an adrenaline rush. I thought it got it onto a reasonable gear setting to make it back but I was soon proved wrong as a pin in my chain gave. Went down to a smaller cog in the back and redid it and I was off again. Low and behold the chain broke again. I had used my two connector pins I had with me and by this time the chain had grown so small that going single speed again wouldn't work. I had no choice but to push my bike the last 2 miles of the course. I finished the race nonetheless feet before another novice rider who had also come to the same fate.  After the race I went straight to the car and sat down, John was kind enough to bring over some pasta and I sat there for a good bit getting my wits about me. 

I want to thank Bike Authority, Kenda, Crank Brothers and Rudy Project for their support. All of their products performed flawlessly. Finally, a thanks to my teammates who gave kind words and helped me out today.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Back to Medina and 1,000 miles

Yesterday I happened to get called off because a big party canceled, and since it was so beautiful out I decided to go for a ride. I hadn't been on my road bike for a long time and I decided I needed to return to valley and get some hill climbs in. I had also checked my total mileage for the year and I thought I had 50 to go to hit 1,000 miles, so that was my goal for yesterday. I went out and did a revised version of the big boy route. I added on Boston Mills east and Truxell road climbs on to the end. I did my ride and had 10 miles to go so I called my mom and told her to meet me out to eat in Hudson and finished my last ten miles around Hudson and Stow. When I got home I plugged in the Garmin and checked my total miles for the year and I was three short! Below is the map of the route

Finally, today I missed the Trek Demo because of work but was able to get a lap in at the Reagan Park trails. I got 12 miles in today and my legs felt dead from yesterdays ride so I wasn't pushing to hard. The new reroutes and mud kept my speed down since I didn't know what was coming around each corner. I ran into Emily who I had met at a trail day in January. She is back from school and is pretty fast. It was great to see her again. So his week I reached my goal and I'm planning on racing the wilds this week end so hopefully I can have another post of another race win on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reclaimng OECR

Yesterday I had the day off and decided to drive up to the CAMBA Monthly meeting. It was a neat experience and it was good to be part of the behind the scenes action. A nice bit was when Brian was asked for a report on our race team. Brain answered "where racing" which was about true. Brett (el presidente) commented that we seemed to have a lot of podiums at the races, to which Brian said "Yep, and we are going to have a state champion" while nodding at me. After the meeting, we all went out to ride around the OECR (Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation) trail. Which John aptly described as a more intense Quails Hollow. We splintered pretty quickly as some where just leisurely riding and others where going fast. I fell towards the faster category. Truthfully, I didn't feel it was a good ride for me, but when I looked back at my numbers from my Garmin I realized I had kept a steady pace and a steady heartrate. I was pushing hard but wasn't over doing it.

Today was supposed to be a ride with Johnny P at Mohican State Park. I got to his house and he remembered he had left his shoes at his moms house in North Royalton, a 40 minute drive in the opposite direction. Kinda bummed but his moms house happened to be a mere 12 miles from OECR so we decided to go there again.

We arrived there about 2ish and set out after getting ready. The first lap I led to point out some trouble spots, those pesky blind decreasing radius turns that can shoot you towards a pretty nasty slope. He seemed to like the course so the second lap we stopped and took some photos, which are posted here.

After this we decided to do four laps at race pace. I wanted to see where I stood against him and it would be good training. I led off the line trying to burn some of his energy, I had gears so I know that the lead up on the parking lot would be my best chance to get ahead and maybe put some hurt into him. If I could lead into the single track I was hoping to push the pace on the climbs to wear him down. To my dismay on a short double track section right before the start of the trail he got around me. I kept him in my sights for the majority of the lap. During the lap I noticed my chain skipping. Towards the bottom of the ravine there's switch back with two lines, one carves to the inside of a small tree, the other to the outside. The inside line is safer but slower, the outside lane is faster but puts you in between a tree and a log on the outside. To be fast you have to stay to the inside of the outside and get as close to the tree as you can. The last two days I had done this, the lap before I leaned in and caught my shoulder on the tree. Not enough to do damage but enough to remind me it was there. This lap I forgot, and my hip barreled into the tree at full speed, hitting right on my pelvic bone. I stayed on the bike but was in immense pain, after analyzing the situation and making sure nothing was broke, I pedaled lightly back to the car. I fixed my chain and got bored waiting for John so I set out on another lap.

I kept an easy pace and turned an easy gear. Since nothing was broken I knew that the pain was from my muscles tightening and the best thing to do is stretch it out. John caught me towards the end of the trail and we rode out to the car together. I urged him to finish last lap as I would sit this one out and gain my wits about me. A little accident in a training ride can really take the drive out of you. There's no adrenaline rush you get at a race to mask the pain, so it's best to sit out the lap and regroup.

John finished his last lap and went over the bars and hurt his shoulder so both of us knew the end of the ride had come. So we were tooling around in the parking lot. John popping some mad wheelies and I practicing my skinny riding skills on the berms of the parking lot. Did about two until my front wheel slid into a gap between the curb and the grass, as my rear wheel slid off the curb in the opposite direction. My front wheel was stuck and my weight was leaning towards the pavement which is where I ended up landing on the same hip I had just injured, DOH! That officially ended my ride.

Over all it was a fun ride, good pace and good practice at cornering and learning where I need to be to be competitive as a sport racer. Tomorrow, is either Quails Hollow or a road ride depending on how the hip feels.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I'm back

This week I took a semi planned week off from riding. I had expected a couple days off and some light rides but my body and mind told me I needed a break. So I took it's advice and enjoyed some much needed rest.

Today I did my normal house route, a little over 9 miles and it took my body a while to get back into things, plus I had a killer headwind for the first half. But the second half my legs opened up and I started to feel good again. Monday, I'm attending the CAMBA meeting and group ride, and Tuesday I have off so I will probably heading to Vultures Knob. My new Bontrager Race lite wheels for my Piranha are at the shop getting Stans sealant put in to go tubeless, so I will be interested in getting those back and seeing the benefits of tubeless. So it should turn out to be a good week.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

While it was sunny here...

it was wet and rainy in West Virginia. I never planned to be in West Virginia for this race. Mainly it was a monetary reason. Two hour drive plus entry fee and the cash starts flying out of my pockets. Luckily, Brian Lennon e-mailed me the week before and was trying to get carpooling together. I thought, "Well since we can spread the gas around I can afford to go down. So I requested off work and changed my training plan to be ready for the race.

Brian had to back out at the last minute, and I can't blame him as I too debated whether it was worth the drive. Luckily, Johnny P called me right after saying that he wanted to go. So that was that and I was going to Mountwood.

As we got closer the rain become heavier and we know that we'd be in for another mud Fest. Got down there with enough to warm up but not enough to pre-ride the course. I knew nothing off the course other than it's known for being muddy and that a hardtail would be adequate. Lined up for the start along the left side feeling pretty good.

We started last and I got the hole shot on the half mile road up to the single track. The trail immediately started to climb and my legs really started to hurt. I lost some places, I think I dropped to fifth place. The first 5-8 riders stayed close together, wheel to wheel, with the leader never being out of my sight. I started slowly picking off riders on the climbs until I was back up to second place. I was happy to follow him for a little bit and rest my legs from the hard effort to get back up to him. I stayed on his tail for a mile and half or so until on a short uphill he spun his tire on a root and had to put a foot down. I knew this was my time to attack and go off the front. I passed him as he was putting his foot down and crested to hill and put it in the big ring and went off the front. No one answered this move and no one could match my pace for the remaining miles. My Kenda Karmas worked perfectly for these conditions, I barely slipped on the uphills and they stuck in the turns and my Crank Brother Eggbeaters shed mud perfectly and always clipped in perfectly. I crossed the finish line first of any rider feeling good.

Camba had another good day on the trail with Mike coming in first in Sport class and Rusty coming in 4th in Open Vet. It was also good for Northeast Ohio as Johnny P. finished second in the sport class (1st sport senior). It was looking good for a 1-2-3 in the sport class for Northeast with Darren in third for the first 4 miles but a mechanical ended his race early. Off the line it was John, Mike and Darren leading the pack into the first turn. Great Job to all the CAMBA riders that showed up.

Thanks to Bike Authority, Crank Brothers, Kenda, and Rudy Project for the support.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New tires!

I got in a set of Kenda Karmas today. Can't wait to try them out this weekend at the Mountwood Challenge. From the looks of them they should grip well and our similar enough to my last tire of choice that they should be easy to get used to.

Did two laps at Quails Hollow before rain stopped me today. I am impressed at the conditions so far this year. Even with the rain, Quail has held up nicely. Mad Props to the CAMBA Trail crew! Today's ride my legs finally felt good for the first time in a while. Hopefully I can get out on the trail tomorrow if not I'll do a road ride to keep the legs fresh and then it's of to West Virginia for a mud fest. Should be fun.