Monday, February 23, 2009

Mountain Madness on Palomar!

Sunday was the best riding day of my life.

This weekend, I joined some good friends for back-to-back days following the Tour of California cycing stage race right in our backyards. The race just happened to cover some of our usual training grounds (Mt. Wilson, Mt. Palomar...), so the chance to ride the course just before the peloton, combined with the opportunity to see Lance, Levi, and the peloton in action was too good to pass up.

A day after riding from the Rose Bowl up to the top of Mt. Wilson (the top 5 miles through slush and ice!), a ride that packed 6,000' of gain in under 60 miles,
Kurt, Cyril and I set out once again for another big climbing day following the tour. Sunday's ride would have closer to 8,000' of gain in only 75 miles. We rode from Escondido along the course (backwards) to the base of Palomar, ascended the south grade. Thousands of spectators had already lined the climb.

Although we were maybe 2 hours ahead of the peloton, the crowd had already chalked the road, (which was closed to non-race traffic by now), and everyone was cheering us on. Cowbells blaring, screaming, taking photos, asking for wheelies... just like we were in the race. Of course we climbed Palomar a few minutes faster than our planned "steady" (yeah, right) pace. I have done some races known for enthusiastic crowds lining steep hilly sections such as Ironman Wisconsin, Vineman 70.3(chalk hill), those crowds were nothing compared to the utter pandemonium we witnessed on Mt. Palomar.

After topping out at Mother's Market atop the mountain, we slammed some $5.00 breakfast burritos and descended the East Grade. We rode back around to South Grade, ascended up to the 4th or 5th switchback and dismounted to wait for the peloton. After about 15 minutes the helicoptors showed up, giving us a bit of warning to finish our Vitargo drinks and get the digital cameras ready.

The lead vehicle conveniently had a PA system, so anyone within a mile could hear the continuously repeated live updates. That was cool. Minutes later the break emerged, and only a minute behind the peloton followed, lead by the Astana boys. Kurt, Cyril and I ran alongside Lance & Levi, shouting "encouragement"...we made the Versus coverage! And we didn't have to wear speedos, lucha libre masks, capes, or Borat man-kinis!

After the peloton passed, we jammed back down to the finish line area in Escondido in about an hour, and just managed to catch the finish. The jumbotrons set up for fans showed the race following the same roads we had just taken. It felt like we were hammering on the way back, but watching Schleck risk it all at 50mph on the curvy descents was humbling. The crowd of over 50,000 made it difficult to actually see the finish line, so the jumbotrons were a nice touch.

Overall the best cycling day of my life. Just FUN, and motivating. And, combined with Saturday's ride up Mt. Wilson we fit in a respectable 15,000' of climbing for the weekend!

I highly recommend a day like this to anyone passionate about cycling.

Now every time I ride Palomar for the rest of my life I will have that extra edge, remembering this day, from the perspective of the athlete and the fan.

This experience definitely has given me some extra HOO YAH to achieve my 2009 goals.

In Adventure,


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tour of California

This morning I am headed up to Pasadena for a long ride up to Mt. Wilson with Kurt Gensheimer and Cyril Jay Rayon, with about 5,500' of climbing. After descending, the plan is to pack up the bikes and walk over to the Rose Bowl where the peloton will do 5 laps before the finish of today's stage. I will try to post photos here later, and on FB in "real time".

Catch the coverage right HERE

It certainly looks like Levi Leipheimer just has to keep the rubber side down to secure the three-peat. Levi's form has been unbelievable so far, and having Lance Armstrong (among others) as your domestique doesn't exactly hurt.

On Sunday I will also drive down to Escondido for a long ride that will include and ascent of Mt. Palomar (another 5-6,000' of climbing). Atop Palomar we will hopefully
catch the peloton on their way up...another photo opportunity! We will then descend the west grade back down to our cars in the valley and TRY to make it to the finish before the peloton...

Quick Training Update:
Going VERY well...body feels fantastic, and I am absorbing some good volume right now. 300 miles on the bike this week, around 10k swimming, and the running is just a couple weeks away from "normal". So far so good!

Quick shout-out to my friend and teammate Ryan VanGorder who tore up his ankle playing basketball and will be out for a while. RVG was about to head down to Costa Rica for a coast-to-coast adventure race with his wife, racer Jen. Heal up fast my brother of another mother!

Lots of Action!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Janes Addiction and Nine Inch Nails to tour Summer 09


According to Trent Reznor (, Nine Inch Nails will shut down after touring this year with a newly reunited Janes Addiction.

20 years after Nine Inch Nails' seminal groundbreaking Pretty Hate Machine was released, coinciding with the zenith of Janes Addiction's juggernaut, Trent is putting NIN on the backburner indefinitely. With no strings attached and ZERO corporate involvement, the shows are sure to be raw, unadulterated Rock experiences in much more intimate settings than past years' elaborate productions.

More info soon: (Dave Navarro)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rolling Hard...Training Update

With less than 8 weeks to Ironman 70.3 California, my first "BIG" race of the 2009 season, training is finally moving at full-steam. The nagging injuries to my right ankle and left tibialis tendon are resolved and I am ramping up my training. Currently I am back to rolling 20 hour training weeks. 90% of that volume is at "steady" or "easy" pace at this time of year.

As long as I continue to improve my aerobic capacity and drop my pace per mile on the run at "steady", there is no reason to add structured threshold or Vo2 sessions at this point. One thing I tell new endurance athletes (and try to remind myself) is "Frequency>Volume>Intensity". Athletes vary genetically and morphologically, but I seem to make large gains after a layoff simply by ramping up the volume and accruing hours at "Steady" pace, or sub-LT exertion, just above that "first deepening of breath" you feel when running, riding, paddling, etc.

At this point I am nailing the frequency by riding every day and ramping up my run and swim sessions. The volume on the bike is there (13-18hrs/week)and I am still increasing on the run as I am cautiously coming back from injury. I believe that I will continue to improve my runnning economy (pace per mile at "steady/AeT") weekly for at least another month. Last year my pace per mile at Steady dropped to 7:10 per mile without any speedwork, only harder efforts on hilly mountain runs. This year my goal is to drop down under 6:50 per mile. Sustained efforts at or over LT
will only come after the "magical plateau". An added benefit of this protocol is reduced risk of injury. Combining massive volume with sharply increased intensity is usually a recipe for disaster. Just ask my hamstrings.

My training philosophy is very similar to Mark Allen, Gordo Byrn, Kevin Purcell, et al. If you want to reach your full potential over time in the endurance game, you have to be able to BACK IT UP day-by-day over the long term to achieve your goals. One mega-volume week does not a season make!

I have updated my 2009 Race Schedule on the of this page. Some races are predicated on my performance at Ironman 70.3 California (qualifyer for Ironman Couer d'Alene or Ironman Canada if I do well). I would love to get another crack at a fast Ironman this year, hopefully fast enough to qualify for the BIG SHOW in Kona.

I am still working with my Team Adventure Racing teammates on which adventure races we will enter this year. One of the perks of winning the USA Adventure Racing National Championship is free entry to all of the regional qualifying races around the country. Serendipitous timing given the economy, wouldn't you say?

On February 28th, some of my Seattle adventure racing teammates will fly into L.A. for a weekend training camp in the Santa Monica mountains. Cyril Jay Rayon, RVG, JVG, and Aaron Rinn will be in town for some long trail miles and I can't wait to catch up with my adventure racing family!

That's all for now. Off to work! If any of you are shopping for supplements, check out Right now nuun is 50% off until Valentines Day. Several other brands also are running deep discounts.

Keep the rubber side down,