30 June, 2009

(Lack of) Preparing for the Firecracker 50

So as a father of three very energetic, intelligent kids and husband to a rather kick-ass wife I don't have as much time as I'd like to prepare for racing (if you're a parent you can switch the word racing with a noun/gerund you're passionate about). My training rides come in spurts, interspersed with camping, swim/soccer practice, recreation time with them and the other sundry, prosaic routines of being a Cycling Dad. Some weeks I get in 7 hours, some: none. Like preparing for a test in University, I'm cramming for the Firecracker 50. I'll try and ride off-road as much as possible until Thursday then I'll chill for recovery purposes (read: too lazy to train). The actual race is Saturday. Let me reiterate again we do 2 laps of 25 miles with 5400 feet of climbing/lap. I don't get the six-week training cycle of tapering so I get what I can get.
Here's the course profile (Y-axis starts at 9k feet with 500' increments; X-axis starts at 0 miles with 2 mile increments):

The racers' are also part of the 4th of July ceremonies:

There's an option where you and a partner each do 25 miles. The calves are marked in such a way you can tell the age of the competitor and if they're in a partnership. Whenever one half of a duo passes me (a visual cue is that their kit is clean) on my second and final lap I secretly beam extra-powerful, super-saturated hate rays out of my eyes focused exclusively on them.
Yesterday rode with Kenny and he slew. By the way, yesterday was my third time on the mountain bike. I'da gotten more off-road miles in but my fork died and I was procrastinating searching/installing it. My first time on a mountain bike was doing the Front Range 50. Another 50 mile mountain bike race where my body said quit at mile 30 but my pride said save face so your buds won't razz you. The second time was with my boys Billy and Alec and this was my fork's fateful day of decrepitude/morbidity. Today, I went and rode this place near my house called Pine Valley. It's rather hot nowadays in Colorado so what was supposed to be a sub-2 H ride turned into a nearly three hour death march.
The ride with Kenny had my legs in some serious pain with my left leg hamstring cramping. So today I was just going to ride tempo. I had a slow leak in my rear tire and after three episodes of pumping it up I finally changed it. It was a microscopic thorn in-between the nobs. By that time Mr. Sun was raging and my body didn't take in enough calories after yesterday's ride to punch me through to the sunny finish today. To make matters worse, I did a bonehead move and got lost. No worries though, I found the trail some .5H later and it was all downhill from there. The new fork's maximum travel is 135mm and I like it there with a pure downhill with minimum turns but after it gets serpentine my bike (which was designed to run at a hundred millimeters) starts to behave like a poorly designed chopper circa the 1970s. I can change travel on-the-fly but it's kinda dangerous. I was in survival mode from here because Mr. Bonks hitched a ride on my handlebars 'til I got to my car.
The huge obstacles of endurance mountain biking are:
1) the mental and physical pain of sitting on a bike for 5+ hours and having the fortitude to deal/blank-out the pain that settles on your arse contact points with the saddle (I think I hate my saddle), the shoulders, the spinal cord, and the forearm strength fade dealing with heavy braking. and
2) becoming a proficient fighter pilot with the bike being able to negotiate tricky turns and technical bits with nary a brake, mostly pedalling, and mostly with body english.
The verdict is still out on the above two for me; but then again, I rarely get the time to prepare for this mountain biking event that I'm satisfied with. I'm slowly getting there and I've already pre-registered so I'm going to do it whether pretty or not.
Total riding time after two days of mountain biking is 5.5h. Sadly, that's close to my Firecracker 50 time. The Firecracker's also the U.S. National Marathon Mountain Biking Championship(s) so all manner of genetic mutants come out to play and try to win the Stars and Stripes jersey for National Chump(s).
Wednesday's going to be a new day. I may have to ride the road bike though to keep it mentally fresh. My bike is a hardtail Yeti F.R.O. with cable-actuated front and rear discs. XT-XTR spec'd. I hate my saddle (or it might could be my fat arse). 5year-old frame but still kickin'(kinda like its 42 year-old owner)! Anybody out there willing to loan a dual suspension bike for me this Saturday (like a Yeti 575 or sumpin'?) There are people who do this nonsense on a singlespeed. I keep telling my boys Billy and Kevin to partner up and do it as a team. They'd love it.
My bowels are gettin' all nervous just thinking about Saturday...

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