31 May 2007
There are a couple of minor side-effects of this strategy. After 2-3 days, you start to feel a little bloated. Time slows to a crawl. You think you feel tired, but it's mostly in your head. Your body feels vaguely achey. Every sneeze is a source of worry that you're about to get sick. And you have more energy than you know what to do with -- all of it unfocused -- which leads to what my running group calls "taper-nuttiness."
Which is what I'm feeling, a full-on case, at this very moment.
Because of the way this season breaks down, I targeted this time as a sort of mini-peak, with the focus being this weekend's first-ever WORS marathon. Last weekend's WEMS race fit in perfectly, as does the 12-hour next week, with this Sunday as the centerpiece. I knew as soon as I saw the schedule that Rudy Rack was for me!
So I'm tapering, then racing, then taking 3 weeks off from racing. Which is why I'm sitting here in a mental fog, absolutely buzzing -- it's a cruel irony that I have a ton of energy but absolutely no ability to focus it on any one thing for very long. Even this blog entry is too much -- I've stopped and started again three times already. I'm hungry, but I can't eat, I'm tired but not really, and I feel like I could jump out of my skin at any moment.
Thankfully, with the right balance, that means I'll be more than ready to go come Sunday. Bring on the nuts!
Solo support is still the plan, but if you want to hang out with a really fun and cool group of people for half a day, let me know!
30 May 2007
Only in Italy: Check out Mary McConneloug (#158) at the number plate ceremony at a race in Italy. Just what is it that she's looking at?
Looking for a legacy: President Bush just pledged $30 billion to fight AIDS in Africa. About damn time.
29 May 2007
- Most children look like plucked chickens when they're first born. Not so, Katie and Pat. Dang, Joe, they're so adorable!
- Photos posted from Saturday here. It's a little blurry, but check out the one on the top of page 4 -- yes, that's a smile on my face, it was so much fun out there!
- Got some great advice and feedback on my race on Saturday. Thank you!
- Looks like Lee from the 6-hour and I on the same schedule: my recovery was 3 hours at Kettle yesterday. But it was so much fun!
- Sometimes dealing with coworkers is like pulling teeth. Unfortunately for her, sometimes it's reality too. Good luck today!
Sorry about the cryptic post yesterday morning -- it was super-early, and my mind just would not shut off. Must have been the Diet Coke I drank at a party on Sunday night, too much caffene.
28 May 2007
27 May 2007
Second, HUGE kudos to Kim, who provided the absolute best feeds on the course, and made the race for me!
In the leadup to the 12 Hours of GEARS, I had a couple of decisions to make. Do I do it? (If the weather is OK.) Do I do 3 or 6 hour? (Intensity vs. length.) Will I finally make the jump to the longer-distance stuff I've been talking about for so long?
Some of the questions were answered ... and more were created. Thanks to some very sage advice >from her, I opted for quantity -- going up against the likes of this guy in the 3-hour one week before the marathon may have been a bit too intense for me. I'm a distance sort of guy, really getting my groove on after a couple of hours in the saddle ...
Instead, I line up with a sponsored rider from Van Dessel and a bunch of veteran 6+-hour guys -- and me with no idea what I was getting myself into. We blast from the gun -- our first lap was faster than the first lap of the 3-hour! A couple of us traded the lead for the first three laps, before Lee from Van Dessel blew past me and another guy coming out of the super-slow tree section. The guy I was dogging declared that "I'm riding for second place now" ... which I knew, that early in the race, meant I had to go now or never. And this was only on lap 4!!
A strong vet from Michael's Cycles was coming strong, but Lee and I kept the fire going. Well, Lee led on his singlespeed, as he was much more technically apt than I, and had to keep the pressure on up the climbs because of the one gear. I was feeling good, though, and we were both flying. When someone like Lee, who has done many, many 100+ mile MTB races, says we're going fast, you take him at his word!
Then, disaster struck -- Lee dropped his chain for the second time, coming out of the pines just before the roots. I sat up for a second, asked him if I should wait ... but then I knew Michael's guy was coming hard, so I didn't have any time to waste. Instead, I put my head down and hammered the two hills that followed, big-ringing it and putting as much distance as I could. Mind you, we hadn't even hit the 3-hour mark yet, which Lee had said was the point at which you start to feel "good" ...
So without the benefit of a pacing strategy, and without really knowing what the distance would do to me, I rode on. Lee had said these races are won and lost in the pits, so I decided that as long as my bladder could hold out, I wasn't going to stop. I worked my way into the 3-hour traffic, grabbing a few draftees and pounding out lap after lap with them following as the count went up and the time went down. Kim was awesome, over and over providing me exactly what I needed, when I needed it. I only managed to get a time split once, at about 3 laps to go ... and by then it was all over save the finish.
And ... I won! My mindless pedaling managed to put 1/2 lap into 2nd place and lap the 2nd place duo team, and my first-half lap times would have put me in 2nd place for the 3-hour. My second half would have put me in about 6th, which includes two laps that I rode pretty conservatively, once I knew it was over. I managed to go sub-23 minutes for 14 of the 16 laps -- and completed the 76.8 miles in just on 5 hours, 45 minutes!
Even better, I spent the whole time with a HUGE smile on my face. The intensity of the first laps scared me a bit, but once I settled in and started turning the gears, I was on. At one point I requested duck flambe and french fries as I came through the pits ... no such luck, just water and a Clif Shot, but it would have to do. Seriously, though, the energy at the WEMS races was awesome, and it was so much fun to be out there on such a great course, turning lap after lap and just enjoying it. The intensity of a WORS race is so different, even though they both have great atmospheres, and I really think I've found what I was meant to do on a bike: go long.
So, that is the question that crops up. What's next for me? John Muir is a possibility, and I love the trails at Kettle, but that's also the day of Spring Prairie, which is a race our team is targeting. But it's a tough call -- I'm not good on the SP road course, so would I just be filling space? Time will tell ...
26 May 2007
Giro TV coverage catches affair in action
According to Reuters, a man visiting the beach with his mistress made a mistake in attracting the attention of a helicopter TV crew covering the Giro d'Italia. Making an unanticipated appearance on national TV, he was inadvertently discovered by his wife. The man waved at the passing camera crew, which zoomed in. The man's brother-in-law saw the coverage and called his sister, the man's wife, who he thought he saw with the man on the beach. Instead of reaching his sister on the beach, she was home, where her husband, upon returning from his excursion, would have to do some accounting for himself.
Off to GEARS!!
25 May 2007
... and so tomorrow we see if I'm ready to put my money where my mouth is. Unless we have some sort of catastrophic weather event, tomorrow will be my first long-distance endurance event: 6 of the 12 hours of GEARS in Kewaskum. I've been enthralled with the idea of a 12-hour or 24-hour race for a very long time, and let's face it, the Rush isn't exactly a featherweight X-C machine (which I knew when I bought it, for this very reason!), so tomorrow I'll at least get a taste of what it's like to do lap after lap after lap on the same course for as many laps as I can, within a set time limit. Hmmmm ... that just make this crit, right?
Kim has graciously agreed to be Steve Letarte to my Jeff Gordon ... or is it more like Lucius Washington? You know, we've stayed away from tandems because we're afraid of what it will do to our relationship, I can only hope that this isn't somehow worse ...
24 May 2007
Walter Godefroot, head of powerhouse Team Telekom in the mid-90s, says this yesterday in regards to a tell-all book that details EPO use in the team:
"Dietz [a rider who admitted to EPO on German television in light of the book] was paid to say that. If Erik Zabel said something like that, it would be a different matter."Um ... guess who came clean today?
This is all getting so pathetic.
22 May 2007
And just to prove that it wasn't only the mud that made this course tough, check out the X-rays from her husband ... from Saturday's pre-ride! That's just one of many pre-race "mishaps" I heard about or saw photos of ... yes, it was that nutty out there, made worse by the mud!
We'll see how I feel tomorrow and Thursday, and what the weather looks like -- I'm still holding out hope for my first 3-hour race in Kewaskum this Saturday. My eyes are on the marathon the following week, so we'll see how I feel. I've been reading a lot about the course at GEARS, though, and it sounds like Brittany has put in a ton of work ...
Photos are making their way around, check it out, thanks Rusty!
If there's one thing this job has given me this year, it's the courage to ride the rocks thanks to my time in Virginia ...
Except, of course, when it's pissing down rain and I can't see for all the mud in my eyes! Big thanks to Dead runner Ian for catching my glasses, and getting them to a MARStian on the side of the trail ...
I rode the garden four out of the five times, which I'll consider a HUGE improvement over what I would have done a couple of months ago. At least I didn't end up like him!
Awesome. Fun day at work!
21 May 2007
As we warmed up yesterday for TREAD Fest at Grand Geneva (WORS No. 2), and I saw the caliber of competition, I set two goals for myself: don't get lapped, and don't get girled. Up against the likes of Schouten, Matter, Ettmayer, Peariso, and of course the Lalondes, it was going to be tough to stay on the lead lap ... and no, I'm not being chauvanistic about staying ahead of the women's field, it just served as motivation ...
The callup for staging saw me in line at the porta potties, so the day was starting rough right off the bat. Start wasn't great, not climbing all that well, and then halfway through the first lap I had to stop to fix my shifter, which had come loose. I was pretty much dead last, and by that point Abby Strigel, the lead woman, had caught and passed me. So I had my work cut out for me ... and then it started to rain.
Abby had a mechanical, so I passed her as the conditions deteriorated. The course was ridable on the second lap, but by the third we were slipping and sliding our way through tight singletrack, trying to find traction anywhere we could. Like most people, I had taken the spikes out of my shoes when it appeared we'd have a dry race, so I was scrambling to get up the steep slopes and over and around the crazy corners. D'oh!
I lost count how many times I slid out, wrapping myself around trees, sliding backwards down slopes, and riding my legs outrigger style in a vain effort to stay upright. The best was the high-speed rollercoaster mid-course, which I took WAY too hot, and slid ... first sideways, then on my face with my bike beside me, in this awesome slip-n-slide move for 75 meters or so. Crazy!
The course started to dry out, the line through the rock garden solidified, and before I knew it, I managed to pick a few guys off in the closing laps. My bike was a mess, the lockout was stuck, my chain wanted to explode, but I kept at it, plugging along and hoping I wouldn't have to run too much more. I got passed about 2/3 of the way through lap 4, I know for sure by the top 3, maybe the top 5, and at that point I couldn't imagine riding another full lap and almost pulled the plug. But it's a long season, and you never know when and where you can pick up an experience like that ...
BIG CONGRATS to new dad Joe Doyle and his wife Stacey -- the proud parents of twins, born on Friday. May 18 is a pretty cool day, huh?! (And Joe even managed to get a ride in before the big event!)
Congrats too! Shout-out to Mike Sherer of MetLife/Pony Shop, who took home the comp win in style, passing me somewhere in lap 3 ... and they started several minutes behind us!
Happy b-day: I'm a couple of days late on this, but happy birthday wishes to Lou Kuhn, owner of The Pony Shop. Hope it was a great one!
18 May 2007
17 May 2007
Day started at 4, met up with coworkers at Howard Street parking garage at 4:45. Best moment: some dude whips his Honda Civic into the garage, distracted by us, and hops the curb hard, blowing off a hubcap and then accelerating up the ramp. Very strange, very surreal at that time of the morning.
Then it was off to Wauwatosa for the Bone Ride -- 250km round trip to downtown Madison and back. Nasty NW headwind all the way out, beautiful weather in Madison, the NW tailwind to start ... until the last 2 hours, which were a block headwind from the east! Welcome to the Midwest, baby!
Ride time was something like 7 hours, 45 minutes. (Yes, that's 6 hours of headwind for those keeping score.) I saw this guy in Madison, and her husband did the "Full Bone" with us, but I think most WORS racers took the lead from this guy and skipped it to get ready for Geneva. (Besides, who wants to hang out with roadies for 8 hours? :-) )The ride itself was pretty fun, rolling along between 30 and 40kph, two abreast, taking pulls then dropping back into the pack. We started with 90 people, picked up 60 more or so in Pewaukee, split into groups, and then our group rolled with about 25 or 30 on the way back.
I've done long days like this before, usually starting the day with a group ride and then finishing solo -- most often, out in the desert when visiting Kelli and the gang in Phoenix. Big difference, though, in Wisconsin -- because of the wind, and the lack of elevation change, you're pedaling the whole time. At least in Arizona I had the benefit of 5-10-15 minute descents (even one 30-minute monster) to recover a bit. All day yesterday, even in the draft, you're turning over the pedals, and the most you can do is find a slight downhill to stand up, stretch the back, and rest the crotch. Otherwise, it's butt in the saddle, turning and churning ...
Overall, I felt pretty good, burning a match early for a bio break that had me chasing back, and then finding myself in the draft both times we motorpaced for a stretch. Then, somehow, I happened to be on the front both times we were instructed to close the gap to the group in front of us ... my legs were a bit heavy coming out of Madison, and it took a while to get them moving again ... it didn't help I was pared with a guy training for TT Natz ... Best pull was between 6:58 and 7:15 in the ride, does this mean I should be thinking about 12-hour races?
R&R today and tomorrow, massage and test the new setup at Palos on Saturday, work an event Saturday night, then it's GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-time on Sunday ...
15 May 2007
It's funny -- I'm finally in a place in my life where I can do this ride, and I'm looking forward to it, but for the first time I'm not so sure it's the right thing for me to be doing. Sunday looms large in my mind (I had nightmares last night about dropping off the front face of "Hot Dog Mountain," which was the name of the ski hill at Grand Geneva once upon a time), Kim is sick and coughing up a lung at about 3:30 every morning, and I haven't done a road ride over 2 hours in ... um ... uh ... two months? Thankfully I've had some long MTB rides in there, but it's not quite the same. It'll be pretty cool to roll out with my coworkers tomorrow, though, a whole lot of red and white taking up a good chunk of the peloton ...
Darn it all: Seems someone in California or Germany didn't consult with Don regarding the WORS schedule. Seems the Sea Donkey is changing its dates, looking for better weather ...
14 May 2007
So I skipped the Monsters of the Midway Midwest Criterium Championships once again. And I missed out on Muskego. Instead, I did an awesome group ride down at Palos with a bunch of SRAM folk (the trails are in great shape, except where they're working on them), and another MTB ride on Sunday. In between, we spent Saturday afternoon with Kari and Kaylie (Kari and I both got our hair cut, and Kaylie and I fell asleep watching The Muppet Show DVDs), Kim treated me to dinner on Saturday night at Jackie's Bistro in Evanston, and Sunday morning we had brunch with my family. Sunday night was fun, with a turkey brat and grilled veggie cookout at Kim's aunt's house.
B-day was good, new shoes and some other stuff from my parents to replace the ones I'm killing every time I ride and a new "racing" Camelbak from Tim and Les that's lighter than the all-purpose one I've been sporting. Kim travels this weekend, so it'll be my first race without feeds ... gotta' be ready! OH! And Kim's mom came through again in the clutch with another great gift -- a campfire percolator coffee maker. It'll go great with our new camp stove we got at Christmas, perfect for those early morning WORS days!
10 May 2007
Let's face it, there are really only two reasons guys go to the lakefront in the evenings, especially on a bike. It's crowded, it's goofy, and it all comes down to the scenery. What I've realized since starting to ride downtown again, is that I've got a new appreciation for butts.
Now, this isn't an entirely prurient interest. See, when you're cruising along, even at an easy pace, you need to be on constant lookout for the errant runner (with headphones), the crazy rollerblader, the clueless cyclist. And in a trick borrowed from my days playing defense, I keep my eyes glued to the sea of rear ends ahead of me -- often it's the hips that will first broadcast a sudden movement into your safety zone. Only by becoming an ass man have I been able to save myself and prevent some catastrophic crashes.
So next time you see me on the path, give a shout. I'm the Assman!
Training update: Just who are the people in your neighborhood? Yesterday was crazy, I saw two people from work and about 5 others on the way in whom I know, all on the path. Today I started with the early morning group ride, then cruised down the path again, this time not seeing anyone. I'm done with the efforts for the week -- tomorrow is a well-earned easy day, then it's back at it for the weekend with back-to-back hard days. No racing: I don't race Mother's Day weekend. But next week will make up for it, with Wednesday being my first assault on the Bone Ride ...
Sound off: I've said it before, I get flak just because I wear lycra. Damn all the idiots out there doing their TT workouts in the evenings. Be smart.
09 May 2007
(This is not to say I don't have easy days, by the way, but I'm very careful to make sure those easy days are super, super easy. 23kph? No problem! And doing my big block in early May vs. early February seems to suit my mental state just fine, thank you!)
Kim and I hit the Riv last night for the Arctic Monkeys show -- we weren't the oldest people there, but we were close. It was a good gig -- this tour seems to be reshaping the way they present themselves, as they came out with a stellar light show blazing and didn't rely on crowd participation quite as much as in the past. Unfortunately, the lads seemed a bit more interested in talking amongst themselves and staring at (and singing to, and pointing out, and making reference to) the four women in the "royal box" than in really getting into it with the rest of the crowd. The music and lyrics were spot-on, though, and Matt Helders was absolutely awesome on drums and backing vocals. All in all, a lot of fun ... and being an all-ages show, we were home and asleep by 10:30!
08 May 2007
Specifically, it was Graham Watson's column. Publishing deadlines being what they are, he was writing just a few days after May 23 ...
And what a sad commentary one year later.
"I spotted it as soon as stage one [of the Dauphiné] began, the way many cyclists were riding two or three abreast, their shoulders in gentle contact and their heads turned in for some earnest conversation. ... Nearly all the talk was in Spanish or emanating from Spaniards who could speak English or French with their captivated colleagues ... The subject of these conversations was abundantly clear -- the situation in Spain and, specifically, had any more names been released.
The news from Madrid came in that evening and would completely smother Ivan Basso's performance [in the Giro] on Monte Bondone the very next day.
Factor in the Spanish armada here [at the Dauphiné]-- those that we assume are going to be able to ride in the Tour -- and you'll see what a great race this is. ... But let's not forget the Italian influence in cycling ...
Ivan Basso scorched the Giro d'Italia with his pristine, almost serene class. He never put a foot wrong, never had a hair out of place, never ever let a rival get his wheel in front of him. ... Basso trounced what little opposition there was. He made mincemeat of Simoni, Cunego, and Savoldelli, and turned that nasty last week into a one-man demonstration of supremacy. ... throw Basso's name into the conversation and the conversation will just stop -- he looks that good. ...
And July cannot come quickly enough for me: Basso versus Ullrich versus Vinokourov. What a welcome prospect in these troubled times!"
07 May 2007
Just check the headlines from the past year. 50 weeks of hell if you're a fan. This just sucks:
The bad: My second lap ... I think I forgot to unlock my fork after the wall the second time, and kept ditching the front wheel and couldn't figure out why (it wasn't responding the way I thought it would ... obviously!) ... the worst was when I buried it in the sand with John Gatto and Aaron right on my wheel ... John told me to relax and "sit back in the turns" ... I know he was being helpful, but it was really embarassing ... stupid rookie mistake ...
The ugly: Got back from my morning spin to find the camper next to us sporting some very serious plumber's crack for Kim ... and then as he was breaking camp he started blasting The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock ... ("Don't need nothin'/But a good time ...") thankfully he pulled his trailer out before "Fallen Angel" started ... and I experienced a bit of ugliness on the trail on the last lap from another racer ... I really hope it was just the lactic acid talking ...
05 May 2007
Slept well last night. Feeling pretty OK. First load of camping gear is already downstairs. Cycling gear packed, just need to get street clothes together. Bike is dialed, mostly. Wow. We're ready to go.
04 May 2007
This week is really weird -- I haven't been off the bike for more than 11 hours since Monday morning. Riding to work, doing workouts on the way, then riding home, it's been fantastic to get this much riding in. My real objectives are down the road, so I consider this just a big building base week -- perfect for coming to form later in the summer. At the same time, though, my legs felt great on this morning's easy spin, and I'm getting enough sleep.
I'm also getting ahead of the game: since I've used my commute to get my rides and workouts in, I've had plenty of time in the evenings to chill out. Kim and I worked our way through Thank You For Smoking early this week, and now we're about halfway through Boogie Nights. Plus, I've worked on the Rush a little bit at a time, which means all I have left to get ready for this weekend is to pack clothing and grab the camping gear. And since we're not leaving until 10 or so tomorrow morning, that mean's I'm WAY ahead of schedule!
It's a good feeling, but it also leads to "hang time" -- trying to keep busy without using any energy, while all my thoughts are focused on the race. Not an easy place to be, and I know it drives Kim nuts ... I just need to chill out, enjoy the day, and relax for Sunday. Let's get it started!
03 May 2007
For those of you not from around here, here's the deal: every runner (seriously) has headphones on. So do all the rollerbladers. And about half the bike riders. Everyone thinks they have the right-of-way. Runners and 'bladers turn across the path without looking. Triathletes go flying by in their aerobars at 23mph, weaving precariously through crowds. Large people walk four abreast, effectively reducing the path width to about 2 feet. And someone -- if I ever find out who, I will kill them -- introduced double-wide, four-person "pedal buggies" to the busiest part of the path near Navy Pier.
For the most part, though, mornings aren't too crowded, and are pretty awesome when the sun is just coming up over Lake Michigan. I've been able to do some pretty effective workouts out there with minimal interruptions -- intervals at speed, sprint workouts, other fun and painful ways to pass the time. Which makes this morning's events all the more strange.
I rolled down the path, no workout other than to ride, thankful not to have a headwind. With the crosswind off the lake, things weren't too bad ... rolling along in team kit, big chainring, just cruising, not going hard at all. I roll through Belmont, over the bridge, drop down, along the lake, and then, as we come to the very narrow corner by the old convalescent home, there's traffic. I pull in behind a guy and lightly tap the brakes, waiting for my chance to pass once the path opens up. (Heck, even the pavement says "SLOW AREA" in big yellow letters -- this area has been under construction for about 2 years.)
All of a sudden, this guy is looking over his shoulder, juking wide right around a poor runner in the path, and screaming at me! "TELL ME YOU'RE ON MY LEFT," he shouts. "I wasn't going left, I was waiting for my chance to pass," I say. "WELL YOU WERE BEHIND ME, YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME YOU WERE THERE." "I was waiting until traffic cleared, you were fine where you were." "WELL OBVIOUSLY I WASN'T COMFORTABLE WITH YOU THERE." Then, because I had to have the last word, I yelled over my shoulder as I rode away, "Next time, just chill out and stay on your line, and everything will be fine."
This was just too weird. If I had said something, he would have freaked and gone straight into oncoming traffic. But there I am, probably 10-15 feet behind him and very much in control, waiting my turn and getting slammed for it! I hate to tell this guy, but if he's not comfortable with people coming up behind him, he's going to have a hard time on the path this summer. You just have to be constantly aware, assume the other guy is going to kill you, and hope for the best -- but let's not be shouting at each other for it!
(For those of you who are path regulars, consider this: we have quite a conundrum developing. Gas prices are on the rise. More people are riding their bikes to work, often taking the path. At the same time, a very visible, very stupid minority is using the path as their own private workout space. Thus, any of us in team kit are labeled as dangerous, even if we're going slower than the guy on his $200 hybrid. Where is the breaking point? I worry ...)
02 May 2007
... that all ended yesterday. For the next several weeks, I'm full-on "in training:" intervals, rest, recovery, repeat. Yesterday was a very rude shock to the system, with several 1-minute submax efforts in a row ... by the time I rolled into work, I could barely walk. But that's what it's all about, right?
This morning was no different -- I fought with Stan's again last evening, losing the battle this time (I think this set of tires doesn't have a strong enough bead), so my recovery was a bit compromised. I set out today for a series of above-TT, 5-minute repeats ... ouch! Truthfully, going with the wind (south) was a lot of fun, pushing 50kph in 53x12 as I blasted by all the runners on the path was pretty wild. But coming back, into the wind, going all of 20kph, well above threshold ... what is with this damn wind?!
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: Results have been posted for Sunday's race. Yes, Brian and Jesse blew everyone away. I managed 11th overall, just 9 seconds out of a top-10 spot. Damn! I still got absolutely shelled ... the next three competitors were 2 minutes, 4 minutes and 5 minutes ahead. There's a lot of work to be done!
Check out the photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/john.wrycza/DoTheRock2007RockCutStateParkRCTrailCrewOrg/photo#5059028461385921602