Sunday, March 28, 2010

Headed back to Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Race Day is June 27th...

Ironman Coeur d'Alene: The Sequel.

This time I will be far more prepared than ever before, in every way, to go much faster.

I cannot wait until June 27th to lay it all out on the course...let the chips fall where they may.

13 more weeks to prepare.

A fire inside is STOKED! I will be ready.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

VQ (not so) Quick and Dirty

Here are the notes I wrote in my personal training log for the 2010 Vision Quest MTB Race.

Woke up this a.m. went into the garage and rear tire was flat. Took it off, wiped out the Stans and put in a tube.
Converting back to tubeless 2 days before a race is a bad idea. Especially with "loose" Michelin tires. Can't wait for
my new Schwalbes to show up.

When I got to the race, it was flat again. No visible thorns or anything in the tire. Put in Another tube (rear wheel)...
it held and was fine the whole race.

Taper for this race: 20 bike hours and 300+ road/mtb miles in the preceding 7 days.

Made it to the start line and had a good position as we headed up the climb. Kept an eye on the HR and kept it at or preferably under 160bpm. It felt pretty easy, but I knew that my threshold was mid 160s... Stayed in the second pack, as the first contained Jeremiah Bishop, Tinker Juarez, Manny Prado...

Climbed Blackstar Gate to Gate in 48:29, and golfball in 53', holding HR in 150s, well below threshold. It was at 160-162 for maybe half of the climb, but that felt like a threshold effort that I knew I could maintain for over an hour with no problem and still recover well on the way to Motorway. My best time to the golfball ever is just over 50 flat, but that was a few years ago when I had much less training in the legs so that was a good sign...surprised I had the discipline to keep it under control. Just focused on my M.O. for the day: staying under threshold and letting the competition blow up all around me...just be efficient.

Blackstar Gate to Golfball: 4:44 at 162 bpm Elapsed: 53:13

Golfball to Motorway: 50:38 at 154 Elapsed: 1:43:51

Arrived top of Motorway in 15th (including several racers from the shorter distance Counting Coup race), feeling good and warming up. Plan was to "not crash" on Motorway descent and pass more people on Maple-Santiago.

Descended Motorway in 14:52 at 127 super cautious..overly cautious. Elapsed: 1:58:43
3 guys passed me on Motoway, and I hit Aid 1 in 18th place.

Starting up Maple Springs, Front wheel started spraying stans everywhere. Begin/Continue Nightmare scenario!

A thorn made a tiny hole but apparently big enough to start a geyser of Stan's. I stopped about 1 mile up the climb and went through the process again. Wiped it out, put in a tube, inflated. BUT the tube or valve was faulty and the air did not hold. Tear in tube next to valve. WTF. So now I am on my last tube and have no more C02s. Some Team SHO-AIR teammates and a guy from Troupe Racing stopped to help me and shared C02 and nozzle. Thought maybe my nozzle was bad? I have only done this 5 thousand times. After filling with a co2 and pumping with a borrowed mini-pump forever, i was able to get enough air in... Eventually after 14 minutes and 13 seconds I'm off, albeit with 25psi or so in the front tire. It actually held the rest of the way. Crazy. I put more air in at Aid Station 2 a couple hrs later and the pressure gauge said 25psi. At 178lbs plus gear, that was pure luck I didn't pinch flat on Holy Jim.

Split for Maple Springs including the 2 flats was 1:11:15 at 145. Elapsed at 4 Corners: 3:10

Maple Springs climb (aid-4 corners) Excluding the flat was 57:02.
Felt like I was going way too easy up Maple, lost All mojo for a while.

4 corners to Santiago Peak was 36:02 at 153 Elapsed: 3:47
(including a minute at the aid station for water. Didn't get water at Aid 1 like an idiot. That would have saved my race...change tire and get water at Aid 1)

Surprisingly caught James who had also had a flat tire catastrophe-sidewall tear-just after Santiago Peak. We wound up riding together to Upper Holy Jim and all the way to the bottom basically until WHT.

Peak-Holy Jim top was 4:08 at 132? Elapsed 3:51

HJ descent was 36:59 at 131 6.46 miles. Elapsed at Aid 2: 4:28

Aid 2/HJ station to top of WHT Hike a bike Hell (dehydrated since I screwed up and took 2 bottles of just Vitargo instead of two bottles of water/nuun and two flasks at Aid 2) 1:11 at 149 Dehydration=Mojo-Zapper. At the bbq aid station Stopped and drank several cups of water and even cytomax. dehydrated but felt ok. Elapsed at Top of Hike a Bike: 5:39

Top of WHT/Aid station to Trabuco: 20:16 at 139..dogging it? . Elapsed 5:59

HRM strap came loose somewhere around this time.

Trabuco hellacious descent to the finish 40:58. Finish: 6:40

Hands were hurting on way down Trabuco, could barely hold bars.

Fell/crashed 2x earlier and landed on left hand both times. Just a bruise but annoying. Pressure in tires after getting pumped up at Aid 2 was 38-40psi....wayyyyy to high. Even on a Turner Flux it was bone-rattling. Felt like I was moving in slow-mo from Aid 2 until final trabuco road sprint to finish.

Finish Time: 6hrs40min13sec
Ride Time w/o flat but including all aid stops: 6:25:xx.

Even if I had not flatted, I'd still be 30' off my goal. On pace until the flats then lost mojo and just rode. Didn't "race" up Maple to and after Aid 2 realized sub6 was out of reach and lost mojo. Mental weakness/dehydration.

Need to ride the MTB more often and have it in working order if I am going do this race again. Certainly a wake-up-call for Park City Point to Point.

Pre-riding the back half technical sections would have helped enormously.

For a C race, though I am not disappointed. Great to see everyone out there and had a great day. Energy all day was awesome with Vitargo and Fein, but blew it on the hydration by skipping Aid Station 1 bottom of Maple and not taking water at Aid Station 2. Over 6 hours and 40 minutes probably drank 3-4 plain water bottles in addition to my fueling bottles, 3 of those...poor execution. Last few hours were warm.

Jeremiah Bishop destroyed the course, new CR Tinker Juarez 15' behind, then Brenneman and other VQ pros. Manny DNF'd due to mechanical.

knee was good the whole race. both were aching by the end, but of course that is normal!!
was super careful on hike a bike and technical sections with left foot/ankle but it was fine during and after. Icing anyway.

Banking constant 20+ hour/3-4-500 mile bike weeks means my engine is strong, but for my next MTB ultra races this year I need to actually get on the MTB!!! Without a car since December I have only done a few MTB rides here and there with friends when they can pick me up or easy rides with LIsa.... No excuses! Lost massive amounts of time on the downhills and technical sections compared to the pros...Free time that I will get next time by pre-riding.


Awesome to see James, Ryan, Keevin, Heidi, Kim and many other friends out on the course!

Fun day!!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vision Quest

On March 20th I will line up at the mouth of Blackstar Canyon on my Turner Flux for the 2010 Vision Quest mountain bike race. "VQ" offers racers 56 miles and over 11,000 feet of climbing in the Santa Ana mountains. The last time I did this race was in 2008 (race report here), capping off my Baja Travesia training. I wore a Gregory adventure racing backpack with all of my water and food for the race and just wanted the longest, hardest ride I could find. Vision Quest fits the bill! I finished that race in 7 hours and 8 minutes, a bit behind friends and heavy hitters Slater Fletcher Keevin Blue and James Walsh. (James, you dropped me on the hike-a-bike! Very embarassing for a so-called adventure racer!)

There are many other endurance mountain bike races around the country. Some are longer, higher, or more technical...and some have LANCE but few share the history of Vision Quest or have the same amount of climbing per mile. While other races have grown, Vision Quest has remained small with a limited field and a loyal following among California's mountain bike racing crowd. There is no doubt that VQ is one of the toughest mountain bike races in the USA and a fantastic benchmark for climbing and descending skills.

This year I have a few weeks of good mileage under my belt, in the 400-500+ mile range, over 22hrs/week, so my goal is to pace and fuel intelligently and let the chips fall where they may. (Hopefully over an hour faster than 2008). My race fuel is dialed-in as it has been since 2008. Vitargo + nuun.

In addition to the usual Vitargo + nuun, I have a been testing a special secret go-fast ingredient in my bottles for the last several months that only my training partners know about...FEIN. FEIN is caffeine citrate. It is marketed to drinkers at bars, but works exactly like a can of red bull and can be added in powder form to any beverage with almost zero taste. Vitargo + nuun + FEIN = Rocket Fuel. Now you know. And no, they don't pay me a cent.

No matter what my finishing time ends up being, this will certainly be the toughest ride of the year so far and a solid building block for longer and harder races this summer. One of the best parts of Vision Quest is racing alongside some friends on our "home turf". These friends and I can all agree that the VERY best part will be clinking and drinking some well-earned ice-cold Green Flash or Stone IPAs after the race.

Running concurrently, there is a shorter event on the first 3/4 of the course called the "Counting Coup", which basically eliminates a gnarly scree switchback hike-a-bike and rocky downhill from the end of the Vision Quest course.

I was able to find an amazing YouTube video of the Counting Coup course from last year's race. Apparently the racer/videographer had a handlebar-mounted camera and took a few minutes of footage at a time of some of the course's highlights. The long fireroad climbs, ridgeline traverses and singletrack descents are worth a look if you have ever wondered what the riding is like in Orange County.

Bike Magazine has a list of "The 10 toughest races in the world".

Vision Quest made the list.

Vision Quest
Orange County, California

Southern California locals know: Vision Quest packs more pain per mle than most any race. The stats tell part of the story, but not all: Racers climb 11,000 feet in 56.5 miles. "It takes most people at least hours to finish," Says semi-pro Jason First. Named after Native Amerian ritual that involved wilderness journeys, personal growth and hallucinogens, the race crushes competitors with steep climbs and rough, shaley descents. "It's hard to get through without at least one thing going wrong", First says. Near the end, on the precipitous upward slopes of the West Horsthief trail, severe exhaustion is known to produce stranger visions than any peace pipe ever could.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Building a Bigger Engine...

February went by in a flash!

The month started slowly, as I had family visitors in town, a nagging cold and ankle injury from NGAR that "ix-nayed" my running and limited my bike training to 200-220 miles/week. With the ankle injury, I opted to withdraw from Ironman 70.3 California to focus on healing my ankle and building my bike engine larger than ever before. Although I have had a couple decent results so far this year such as Fiesta Island, I am certain that I am capable of much more on the bike and look forward to proving that to myself in races this year.

The last two weeks were another story, as I banked 503 and 416 miles on the bike with some decent climbing in the mix and some great 100+ milers with Slater Fletcher and other friends. My ankle (peroneal tendon) is still healing, so while running has been put aside I have focused on building my engine on the bike alone this winter. I am very much looking forward to competing in more road races, crits and circuit races this year in addition to the Southern California and Fiesta Island Time Trial series races.

In other news my new rocket, a Cannondale Super Six High Mod with Dura Ace 7900 and Ksyrium Premium wheels is an addition to the stable, and is the stiffest, fastest, most comfortable bike I have ridden. It's scary fast and I like it. 10 seconds into my first ride on this bike, I had a devilish chuckle and thought "this is what it's SUPPPOSED to feel like"...Getting used to the Dura Ace shifters after a few years on Campagnolo takes some getting used to. My thumbs keep trying to shift phantom levers! I also switched from Speedplay to Time pedals to see if that would help my gimpy ankle in any way. I have been a passionate cyclist for 20 years, but I am enjoying riding more than ever. That's what it's all about! It's easy to keep the fire stoked when you are blessed to live somewhere like Southern California.

Lastly I have done a couple photo shoots for FRS Healthy Energy drinks that are popping up online as banner ads on and other places. As someone who drinks way to much coffee, FRS (Low Calorie) has been a healthier option for me over the last few years. It's a mid-day energy boost that won't stain my teeth or give me funky breath!

March 6th looms ominously on the calendar for my underground DREAM CRUSHERS team. Friends and training partners Slater Fletcher, James Walsh, Ryan Weeger and possibly others are headed up to my favorite riding spot, the Santa Monica Mountains. We'll ride most of the classic climbs and descents that Lance Armstrong and other ProTour cyclists have used to prepare for the Tour de France.

The DreamCrusher route will be somewhere between 100 and 120 miles, which is more than enough if you have ever ridden in the Santa Monicas. 4-6 mile long climbs and descents, all day. Cycling Paradise. My most memorable rides have all been in the Santa Monicas and I look forward to showing my OC and San Diego friends one of the greatest "secret" training spots in the country. Its' going to be hard, there might be bonking, and there might be puking. We are STOKED! True to our name, we plan on crushing our own dreams.

Last, but certainly not least, I leave you with SERGIO!!!!