I feel weird. I think this season will mark my fewest races ever in my career -- so far, I've only done 3-1/2 and will only have one more before mid-July. While that (hopefully) means I'll have fresher legs going into 9 Mile and especially Moab, it also means I have a clearer head and more time to fret about the races I do have scheduled -- usually, I'm bouncing from race to race each week with logistics, training, etc. Now, I'm planning for stuff that's 2 months away. Weird.
First off, big thanks to all the folks who emailed/texted/facebooked/messaged/phoned/asked me about my previous post. I guess I should have been more clear: "screwed up" referred to my head, not the situation -- sometimes opportunities present themselves when least expected, and I had to do some major thinking about what I want to get out of life in the next few years.
Thanks to some timely perspective when least expected, from far away and out of my past, the thoughts are mostly resolved and my head is screwed back on straight. It says a lot about a person when you befriend them, then treat them like crap, then they forgive you, and you become better friends after than before. And then they give you advice/perspective that helps you through a jam. That's the kind of person I want to be! Danke schön!
So with 17 days, 00 hours, 58 minutes and 07 seconds to go, my head is fully back in the game and I've had two awesome days of training to make up for Saturday's disappointment. Recovery tomorrow, a big-ish, super-fun block this weekend, and then T-W-Th workouts next week before the taper ... holy cow, is it really this close?
Sometimes life puts stuff in front of you that is completely unexpected: All of a sudden, I kind of have to really think about what I want to be when (if?) I grow up. It's been 4 days now, and I'm still not sure. Add to that a disappointing race on Saturday, and a distinct lack of sleep in the past few days, and it's a perfect storm of nerves, jumbled thoughts and serious doubt.
We're only 3 weeks from Big Bear -- this is my last week of training with next week taper + bike building -- and I really need to get my head screwed back on straight. But ...
Thanks to everyone for their well wishes, and mad props to the folks who gutted it out ... Brad and I decided to head home when, halfway through lap 10, the skies opened and the new-cut trail became treacherous. I hear it dried out (eventually), but after the barrel roll I took as I finished the lap, the thought of switching tires and following a huge(!) crowd of 3-hour racers through off-camber turns leading to trees, slick rocks and roots just wasn't appealing. Big Bear is too close.
Charly and I beat the crap out of each other for three laps, until Chris Schotz sneaked through as I was pitting at the end of lap 4 to take the lead for good. I eventually passed Charly after he crashed to take over 2nd place, but Chris has these rough courses dialed (imagine Blue Mound without the sharp rocks -- just rounded ones), and I wasn't catching him even in the dry. Oh, well, live to fight another day, my 12-hour turned into 6-1/2. At least I got to sleep in my own bed, and Bike the Drive was a huge success today!
Wow, three posts in one day. Seriously, I'm way busy right now. But I had to share these observations from reading today's Trib online:
Mayor Daley takes blame for parking meter problems. Dude is a master strategist. First he outmaneuvers the City Council in the fois gras debate, now he 'takes blame' for something that is essentially his responsbility but that the media has played up as an incompetent vendor for long enough that we all blame the privatization company, not him.
New Whole Foods store opens on North Side. Holy crap, the THIRD LARGEST Whole Foods in the WORLD just opened about 200 meters from SRAM's back door. And, oh yeah, it's across the street from the VIP's strip club. But wait ... they make their own gelato!
1940 massacre of Poles remains potent issue. It's scary how a government can step in and re-create history. Just speculation, but should a right-wing agenda prevail in, say, 50 years, what will they say about our previous administration?
I thought things would "quiet" down (relatively speaking) this week. Well ... nope. Holy cow.
Fantastic weekend for the family -- Kate's first trip to Kettle was SO much fun. Check it:
Let's see what else ... big shipment of clothes in for SRAM folk, the new World Bicycle Relief-SRAM jerseys are awesome. Check 'em out on the Bone Ride tomorrow ... sorry I won't be there, it's looking like awesome weather!
Big birthday shout-out to Lou, "The Man" -- I think I'm older than you?
Also a big shipment of parts, now I just need the frame ... oh yeah!
21st Century Breakdown dropped on Friday, we picked it up Sunday in Kenosha (can you say 5.5% sales tax? Holy crap!) and I think I've listened to it about 15 times since then. Wow -- it's the only way they could have followed up American Idiot. Kim and I talked about it on the way to Kettle -- Billy, Tre and Mike are just a year or two older than me, and a step ahead on the life curve, so it's pretty cool to "grow up" with them and be feeling the same feelings, same dreams at the same points in our lives ...
Kim sent this photo from Mother's Day -- she's so hip!
And what else ... I can't wait to hit Greenbush this weekend -- I have every faith that Brittany and the crew have built another fantastic "destination" location -- it's going to be awesome!
Um, I think that's it ... can you believe it's been 24 weeks?
Results are in. First lap was +20 minutes due to a late start. I feel pretty good about my consistency for once -- you can tell where I pitted longer, but the lap times stayed pretty solid throughout. And thanks to that "other guy," finished with a bang!
Holy cow, though, check out Mark's times -- crazy strong. I think Lee once told me these things are won and lost in the pits, and it's clear he was roll-and-go the whole time. Gonna' have to stay on my toes at the Kettles next weekend.
Other random thoughts:
The low-gluten diet VeloNews detailed for CVV works. I thought I was allergic to gluten, so I switched over at the beginning of this season -- simple stuff, like corn tortillas instead of wheat-bread sandwiches for lunch. Sunflower butter. Rice instead of pasta. Tons of fresh fruits and veggies. Still tons of carbs, but better choices -- and of course the occasional burger and cookie. When I stepped on the scale this morning, I almost fell over: I'm running 20 pounds lighter than 2 years ago, 10 pounds under last year, while eating more, producing more power and feeling better overall. Sure, I'm a freak about what I eat, but if you're interested let me know and I can email you details. Oh, and Chipotle still qualifies!
Brendan is my hero. It's gonna' be tight, but looks like the "Birthday Bike" is going to make it here in time for Big Bear. We've got BIG PLANS for it ... it's gonna' be sweeeeet. Oh, and there's other news about Big Bear, but I'll let my teammate tell you about that ...
My other teammate has been kidding me about being in "mid-season form." I realized today -- holy crap, it is mid-season! I've been training for 5 months, and Moab is 5 months from now. Just one more race between now and Big Bear, then one or two in July before 9 Mile, and then we're in the last third of the season. Can it really be going that fast?!
OK, I need to run. Presenting to Rotarians on the north side in two hours, still not prepared. Yikes!
Quick update: Stump Farm went perfectly, no mechanicals and no problems equals my first 12-hour solo win! Huge thanks to Brendan for building the Best. Bike. Ever! and to all the folks who helped me clean up my pit area afterward -- this was a true "solo" effort as Kim and Kate weren't able to attend. I guess the 5th time's the charm after two 4th places in 2007 and two 2nds last year ...
Rain the night before and rain at the start meant wet sand and some pretty nasty mud in places, but those trails are fantastic and really handled it well. The course wasn't quite what I was expecting, as the organizers opted to run more double track instead of the singletrack loop, which meant more short climbs in the middle of the race. Third into the singletrack and then took the lead of the race through the first four laps, until the first team guy caught me with fresher legs ... Short pits for drinks every other lap, longer pits for food and lube every four ... all alone for a very long time, until Mark caught up to me after a long pit -- on his singlespeed! That guy is an animal, holy cow. I got away at the end of that lap on a pedal section, but I knew he was back there ...
Managed 16 laps, with Mark a few minutes behind me. I could see him through the trees here and there, and once when I was leaving the pit as he was pulling in. Definitely a motivator, even if we weren't technically racing against each other ... Scary moment on the last lap, when this guy comes flying by me with less than 15 minutes left. "You a team guy?" I ask. "No, solo!" he shouts. WTF? Who the hell are you? I dug in and grabbed his wheel through the singletrack, and asked him how many laps he had. "13 or 14" he says ... um, yeah, I've been here before. Not leaving anything to chance, I buckle down as soon as we hit the gravel and was able to ride away ... turns out, he wasn't lying, as Mark was the only solo to finish on the same lap ... but there was always that chance ...
All in all, a great race, and that cookie (and the two burritos and the hamburger) on the drive home was a delicious treat!
Am I the only one who fears my mother's wrath? Nam reports that, quote "EVERYONE" is heading down to DSG this weekend. Heck, even JB will be there for his first 12. So that's everyone -- but not me. When I was a roadie, I had a rule against racing Mother's Day weekend (which also happens to be right around my birthday!), lest I crash and end up in the hospital. (Don't laugh, it happened on Father's Day one year, and my mom has never forgiven me for being late to dinner with the family.) At the very least, I would never get away with driving 12 hours to a race and being away from home this weekend. Especially for Kim's first Mother's Day!
But I'm not bummed. Stump Farm is one of my all-time favorite courses, and I have yet to win a 12-hour event. Oh yeah ... bring it on!
I'm a writer and rider, racing on the road, mountain bike and cyclo-cross. Believing in yourself and the difference you can make is the most important thing you can do. Feel free to contact me: scstrout [at] yahoo.com.