29 May, 2010

An Hour Off!

This will be my first 10 hour cycling week if I can get an hour ride in tomorrow. Yea! It seemed like work for sure but there's a reason for it: riding cleanses the soul (and allows a doughnut or two every now and again). Riding for cleansing runs the whole spectrum. For some it's just getting out there and feeling the wind in your hair as you're barreling down a paved bike trail but for the competitive cyclist the cleansing comes in the form of pain. Not the joint pain or the pain of crashing (hell yeah that hurts when you hit the deck!) but the pain the greets you when you enter or go pass your physiological boundaries. Albeit it's fleeting but afterwards it sure is therapeutic. Going LT isn't a hoot, or doing 3 minute intervals either, but when you're done your brain is thanking you. It might be due to the adrenalin release. You need more adrenalin the next time to satiate your reptilian brainstem.

Mixed it up pretty good too. Some mountain biking and road biking this week to avoid the monotony. My knees are diggin' it. Don't know when my next race will be. More than likely it'll be a crit. I used to hate doing them but now it's tolerable. Not very cost effective traveling and paying to do 'em though being that I live in the boonies. Maybe this week I can do a group ride sos I can get my speedwork in and to see how far back my fitness from the bell curve of the pack is.
I also have this malingering headcold. Nothing too disastrous, just a long-ish term low grade symptoms of hacking mucous, annoying cough, and when the body loses its inertia it's like being in absolute zero: nothing vibrates nor moves. The body just wants to become part of the couch or the rocking chair or the bed.

The end of next week, I'm taking my daughters to Texas. I miss my folks so whenever the opportunity is there, I'll take it. Not looking forward to the particularly long and boring drive but eventually I'll get there. It shakes out to 800 miles of unadulterated boosheeyat.

Things that will be cool to do in Texas:
-eating Blueberry Ice cream.
-hanging out with my folks.
-hanging out with me brah and sis in-law.
-visiting Austin (home of me alma mater).
-group road rides.
-listening to my boy Colin perform.
-hanging out with Ruby.
-playing with my daughters.
-hearing a genuine southern accent again.
-watching mindless TV (we don't have cable nor a dish currently in our house).
-taste testing new beers from Whole Foods (ooops, I'm sponsored by Vitamin Cottage).
-hanging out with Jimmy and his familia.
-wearing a big a$$ belt buckle-NOT!
-eating at Que Huong.
-sleeping in.

Things that will not be cool in Texas:
-the heat.
-the heat.
-the heat.
-the heat.
-oh, and did I mention the heat?
-the heat.
-missing the remainder of team M back in Colorado.

24 May, 2010

Pop Goes the Weasel

I'm shifting gears and in some pain apparently...

Yesterday was the third in the Front Range Mountain Bike series because the weather finally held and the grounds were dry enough to ride. Wish I could say the same about me. Got a wee bit of a headcold from one of my students on the last day of school and this was my souvenir to start the summer break and number three on the race series.
Right when I become unglued, physiologically I feel it building up like a pot of water about to boil in the tea kettle. It slowly builds to a crescendo then BLAM! I completely come unhinged. Yesterday's race was a bit like that. It was a 50 minute, short track XC event and for some reason not a whole lot of people showed up in any category which is unfortunate because the sponsor who runs the event is good people.
When Eric counts us down and we take off, I'm sitting sixth in the singletrack. Best start so far. The weather's pretty warm and this is my first race where I'm not wearing any leg warmers/arm warmers, booties...etc. I'm starting to bake, when internally I hear the "Pop goes the Weasel" song. It's an English nursery rhyme. I figure good, the race is about over. I look at my watch and only 30 minutes have gone by! Not a good sign.
When verse two of "Pop goes the Weasel" is going through, that's when I Pop! The remainder of my group passes me on the one of the three gruntish climbs on the course. I concentrate to get my bearing back and in the remainder of the course I pass four of 'em back.
Good enough for 12th. My head's about to explode from the race when it's done.
Okay, this outcome is fuel for motivation to get my a$$ back into some form of race fitness (minus the headcold) now that school's over and I can get more than 5 hours in a week as a Colorado bike racer.

10 May, 2010


Finally did it. After a one (or was it a two?) year hiatus, the homey trinity busts a move to Moab. We left on a Friday night after work and got in 2300h at the Amasa Back overflow camping area. Our goal was three rides in two days.

Even though I brought a camera, I didn't capture the beautiful views of what we woke up to at the Amasa Back Canyons.

Our cheapness decided the type of riding we were to do in the morning. The cashier at Poison Spider bikes said this one particular shuttle was going up to Porcupine for $20 a pop. Damn y'all, that's way too expensive. So we decided to ride our bikes up to the Watertanks that is the landmark beginning of Porcupine Rim. It probably tacked on 10 miles to the 20 miles from Porcupine back to town. Here I am trying to find some Double A batteries from the group that was beginning to ride.The ride up to the trailhead was fat burning pace but it was all uphill so it was taxing even before the "real" climb up to the Porcupine lookout. At the watertanks, there were some young 'uns starting up too and eventually they caught up to us. Testosterone is a bad thing y'all. As soon as they caught up to us it kind of turned into an uphill race. I picked it up a bit and I could hear them behind us. Then it was just me and the young 'uns. They were following my lead and I could hear them not cleaning the obstacles comprising the difficulty of the climb. When I heard the clipless pedal sound of the "unclick" I pushed a little harder on the pedals to open up the gap. I never looked back because that's the Y-chromosome sign of I'm coming unglued so I just persevered and hammered away at the little lead I established. Soon enough the uphill vista's around the bend and I pretty much shot my reserves.

My semimembranosus muscles were starting to catch and that's my telltale sign of Mr. Cramps is just around the corner. At the top we eat and I try and stretch out the backs of my legs.

The downhill's hell on wheels and the spinal cord for owners of hardtails. Yup, that's me. My boys have an Ibis Mojo and a Yeti 575. A Cadillac ride anyway you slice it. I don't mind downhill technical because you can kind of pick your lines through but Porcupine-even on the flats-have some pretty obtuse rock obstacles where you have to pedal through to avoid endo-ing. Porcupine has long, technical downhills and these technical flat spots. After 2.5 hours of this after an hour ride up my 43 year-old self was getting tired! In fact, I had to walk out the cramps that decided to set up camp in all imaginable sites on my lower and upper legs. I was so depleted that the muscles below my calf was even cramping. Nuh-tee.

The lower third was spent following Mr. Clean aka Hez-Chilly aka Billy. Again I had to take a break because I needed to shake out the cramps. There was one point where a bad-ass blasted by us with some major downhilling skill and this inspired Billy to follow with spirit. I couldn't hang on the hardtail flowing through the tight singletrack with the two to three feet ledges/drop-offs and I had to slow it down in order to not lose any teeth or skin and to avoid slamming my spine any more.

They waited for me at the end of ride and it was a nice 8 miles on the road back to the Riverside Inn ($80/night oh yeah!!). This is where my roady muscle memory kicked in and in no time I had a nice, high cadence spin to begin the choo-choo o' mountain bikers back to town. We passed a couple of pacelines of other mountain bikers but we had to be careful on the pass because this road had no shoulder. We tucked ourselves into one group, drafted, rested, and I rolled up to the front to take a pull. Right when I was in pole position a group of 4 roadies passed us in a paceline too. I locked out the front fork, sprinted out of the saddle and tucked myself in behind them with Billy in tow. As we rolled the left hander into town there was a slight increase in pace and since I was riding tailgunner I noticed the gal in front of me was starting to fade. Once the gap was about half a car length I did the roady move, where I half-wheeled accelerated and pushed her back into the draft, where I settled myself once more. Our hotel's in sight and I thank 'em for the draft back to town. This is at the 4.5h mark and I am spent. I didn't parcel my energy for a second ride this afternoon after lunch and the hottub. Great first ride in Moab!

The second ride was either Flat Pass or Moab Rim Trail. We decided the Moab Rim would be closer, with higher climbing intensity but not as long time-wise. We rode out to Amasa Back and the sun was blazing! No wonder my boy's name's Billy because he was billygoating up the climb. Kevin and I were walking the steepness and complaining on how close we were to losing our lunch. Mmmmm, bile. This is the actual trail that started back down by the Colorado River.

Billy says, the ride doesn't get any easier so we decided to bail and it would still add another two hours to our 4.5. Once we're on the road, a sponsored girl mountain biker cruises past us and Billy and Kevin file in behind her. My lateralus' start to cramp and I'm banging them with my fists to stave off the cramps.
I glue onto Billy and he attacks me road-style (this is how we roll as competitive, close friends). Opens up a three car lead and I dig into my reserves to close the gap. It was awesome fun and just what we were looking for for quality miles in Moab. At the CityMarket, I am three sheets in the wind. Billy takes this picture of me as I drift in and out of consciousness while the remaining Homey Trinity purchase our Dinner by the pound. We eat our dinner at the newly erected Moab Rec center and enjoy the shade, the A.D.D.-ness of a local describing the sweet trails, and each others' company while we replace the 3,000 or so kilocalories we combusted earlier.

Sunday: Sovereign Trail

We link up the Sovereign Trail spurs before we head back to Denver. Billy and Kevin are doing their Mr. Clean impression while I'm suffering on the insufferable moon rock formations they have out here. On the return trip we kick it up a notch as an icing on the cake deal for our last cycling hurrah for the weekend. Here's Billy and Kevin bustin' a move...

Oooweee kids, that was fun!

02 May, 2010

Hillbilly Workout

It's May and most people in the northern hemisphere think the bulk of snowfall(ing) has stopped and pretty much that's true. Although, up here at 8k'+ (2500m for my metric friends), Old Man Winter's malingering. I call it the protracted-cold-as-hell-part-of-Spring-that-pretty-much-sucks. Down the hill it's nice but up here we still need a reserve of firewood. This time though, I can use the ATV instead of using the Rocky vs. Ivan Drago winter workout to bring up the posts from the bottom of our yard.
Here's my sweety-pie riding figurehead on the ATV.

I probably sectioned and quartered three weeks worth of wood if we don't have to burn through an entire evening. Just enough burning to take the edge off when we get home and the coals will radiate enough heat during our sleepytime. Every now and again (like today), I smack/quarter the thick chunks of wood so hard with the splitting maul it eventually splits the trunk. Oh well, that'll eventually make its way to the firebox too...

Maura, my middle daughter helped me out tremendously. She helped pack and stack the firewood and kindling. She moved three wheelbarrow's worth of firewood to the side of the house. What a great help she was!

No riding today up here, it's hovering around freezing so later it's hello, "Mr. Rollers, could you please make my ding-a-ling go numb (again)? Oh and while you're at it could you please round off my rear tire too? Thank-you..."

After Maura and I stack the wood loot, I treat myself to one of the beers I acquired from the party the day before.

An interesting note about the bottle opener:
when I was stationed in Germany my buds and I road tripped to Munich and the bordering Austria to check out the sights and to continue with our "beers around the world" tour. A souvenir from München was this lovely bottle opener from the Hacker-Pschorr Bräu. I loved Germany. What an experience for an eighteen year-old. The handle is a purple anodized, non-drive side Cook Bros. Racing crankarm, 177 cm length back when racing was my life. Racing on a steel, hardtail mountain bike...

Here she is again proud of her vegetable cutting skills as we're preparing our Vegetable Jambalaya dinner. Notice her Longhorn beanie kids!

01 May, 2010

A Whole Lot of Nothing Going On

Friday was funk day. It was the end of a protracted work week (even though I had no students on Wednesday) and when my kids filed in for class the energy level wasn't there. We're getting ready for finals and it's about as much fun as watching paint dry. Our district gives us a standardized test and the week to assess them is coming to a close. So, I'm reviewing and giving them new stuff. Needless to say, I was like the jockey smacking a horse that doesn't want to be in the race. Afterwork we had a going away party for our student teacher and for one of our colleagues who had to be reassigned due to budget cuts in our district. Brought the Paulaner Oktoberfest. It has a great bock(y) taste and a clean finish. It almost reminded me of my own Shiner Bock (brewed in Texas) hill country experiences where I received my undergrad in Austin.

The weather too has been a biscuit. Beautiful all work week but come weekend there's always a chance of snow-if not just flat out snowing-and the wind still makes it feel sub-freezing. That translates to barely any riding. The only hours I got in for this past week was three hours on the roller (not at one time). I think I'm the only one riding rollers indoors on sunny, rideable days. It's boosheet. Oh yeah, I had to change out my leaking, front shock and that was an awfully long, very physical job. That was Sunday. 7 hours of trying to cram a coilover shock in the lower arm with my brother and father in-law. So yeah, no riding, and my students are getting a case of senioritis and our house is in its usual state of turmoil. I might be going through a second round of mid-life crisis. Not enough therapy on the bike makes for a grouchy and non-responsive father, husband, and teacher. Not enough cleansing through self-torture on a climb or duking it out in a pack. Not good.

Fired off a couple of hours this morning though and finished it off with a climb up Highgrade with me trying to politely stick to other riders' wheels that were knocking off a pretty fierce pace. I used to be a good rider but work and fatherhood's currently kicking my ass!

Tomorrow, I'm going to collect some more posts sos I can section and half (or quarter) them with the axe/splitting maul. Our firewood's getting low again. I'll do it early so if it warms up and Melissa can watch the kids I can get another couple hours so I can be pack fodder this year...

My XC short track event has been canceled for tomorrow due to all the precipitation we've been receiving. The sponsors don't want to tear up the grass and give cycling a bad rap. Was looking forward to it. I swear...