Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WTF - The Short Of It

In February Walla Walla was positioned to be my A race. Power was up. Confidence was up. Weight was down.  I am coming to the realization that there is no way to prioritize racing. A races are those you absolutely crush, B races are those you hang on, and C races are those you are just thankful to have survived. Walla Walla was the latter. I finished but it wasn't easy.

Day 1: Hung tough until I cramped and dropped on the final big climb.
Day 2 AM: Put down respectable TT but not top 10 as I expected.
Day 2 PM: Broken spoke in crit.
Day 3: Held on until third time up big climb.

Day 4, 5, and 6: Male Cankles.

What are those you ask? An encyclopedia on the internets gives the following description:

A leg or legs with much flesh on it, usually wobbling, that has no shapely definition.

Here is an illustration:

It was a tough weekend and this injury has kept me off the bike for the past three days. Hopefully this will pass in time for Saturday's TT.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Steps Back

Every work day we have a mobile food vendor that comes to our office at 11am to sell premade sandwiches and pasta dishes. She's a closer. Wednesday's new addition: The Chicken Caesar Wrap. I was a little hesitant since earlier in the month I watched Food, Inc., which shows the art of raising, butchering, and eating a dirty little chicken all within 49 days. On one hand, I cut PETA a little slack for their action against Obama killing flies, and on the other, I wondered how many flies were once on my juicy Chicken Caesar Wrap.


After three days of sickness and a few additional days of dreaded fatigue, I am back on the mend. And it appears the illness was more likely the stomach flu than vendor food poisoning. Good news for her.

Walla Walla is this weekend and I have a lot of strength and confidence to get back before the four day event kicks off on Friday. Hopefully my form will come back around...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Double Days

Just because you think about it doesn't mean you get it. The inherent flaw in positive thinking was highlighted this weekend as I came home both days without landing in the right break.

Tour de Dung 1: On Saturday, Elizabeth and I headed out to Sequim. Elizabeth took the roles of Buckley's substitute aunt, team photographer, and corner seven motivator.

All of the heavy hitters showed up including McKissick and Hegyvary. I rolled up with Olivier, Lyle, Aaron, and Kauper. As a second year team, I was excited to field five guys in the Pro/1/2 field. Progress. I was ready to a fault - despite 72 miles to look forward to, I was on the trainer warming up 70 minutes before the start of the race.

After an early break in last week's Mason Lake, the pack was conscious in not letting anything get away and marking Hegyvary and McKissick from the beginning. I was up front for the first lap covering any big moves that had potential to get away. With so many strong riders in the field it seemed like anything could go. Luck favors the prepared but not the overzealous. After a lap of this I needed a breather, drifted back, and Kauper rotated to the front and fortunately landed in the winning break.

It must have been hell up there as Kauper wasn't able to keep up with the pace and found himself back in the peloton. Elizabeth caught his expression rounding corner seven and it clearly wasn't his day. I had that same fate last weekend.

When I saw Kauper drifting back to the peloton I went off the front hoping others would come with me. They didn't. So it was nothing more than that solo flyer where you question the very move you just made. Futile.
For the remainder of the race, teams unrepresented in the break continued to rotate to the front and by the finish the break was down to a couple hundred meters. They measured their effort perfectly.

Mason Lake 2: I am beginning to notice a pattern. Riders are attacking from the gun this year and in this case during the rollout so the pack was neutralized after a spirited jump by HB. It is, after all, the Mason Lake World Championships.

In the pack Olivier, Aaron, Lyle, and I represented on a course with conditions similar to Sequim. Mild rollers, wind, and a 12 mile loop six times over.

My legs felt spirited despite suffering from cramps the day before. I took to the front and covered every attack during the first lap or two. As I drifted back Olivier rolled up and made it into the eventual winning break with two HBs, Wes of Lenovo, Nate of First Rate, and Richter of HSP - at least those are made it to the line. Olivier would make it to the line and take sixth in his second P/1/2 race ever. Excellent work.

In the pack Cucina brought six guys to the front to rotate and attempt to bring back the break. Garage, especially Hitchcock, also put in big dips but the gap remained at one minute for the remainder of the race. It was nice just sitting in. Plenty of time for food, water, and massage.

With a half lap to go Hone of Lenovo and Lang of HB attacked and gapped the field. I wanted to go with them but I also wanted to save something for the sprint and thought they would be a carrot for the rest of the pack. They stayed away.

At the final turn the world turned against me and I had a flat tire that put me on the rim if I turned on the gas. I coasted in behind Aaron and Lyle in the pack.

Next week: repeat with a different result.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Murphy's Law

Epigrams annoy me.

After a hard two days of racing last weekend, I almost took the elevator up the two floors to get to my office. To put this into perspective, this elevator is clearly reserved for the smokers who labor over the filter of their cigarette as opposed to the effort it takes to make it to their destination. They annoy me but I probably annoy them too. What point am I trying to make here? That I need to be on my knees to get in order to get on that damn elevator. I almost got there on Monday.

Monday and Tuesday this week my coach prescribed rest days. A rest day is exactly that - not doing a damn thing except complain about how sore you are from the previous workload. Sometimes if I feel rested I will go for an easy spin on the rollers or hit up yoga class at The Ashram.

My training for the week consisted of two short stints on the inside ride rollers. On Wednesday I did 2 x 20s at sweetspot/low threshold, Thursday was lost to happenstance, and this morning I did a ramp up ride in preparation for two long hard race days this weekend.

Yes. Only two hours of training for the week and this is where the epigram, Anything That Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong, comes into play. The tornado that ensued at the office this week brought with it a lot of mental stress. Stress, regardless of its form, needs to be aggregated and taken into play when training. With time against me, I need to pay attention to the quality of my recovery just as I do with the quality of my training.

Tomorrow is Tour de Dung out in Sequim. I go in a little rusty but hope to still put a nail in the coffin with an podium finish. We sure as hell deserve it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two Pounds Per Inch

It is believed that true climbers weigh two pounds for every inch in height. Not me. That is why I eat my fiancee's lasagna.

Serving 1 of 2

Yes, I am lighter than last year. Yes, I am still looking to shed another eight pounds. But not at the expense of letting good food spoil.

Unfortunately lots of quality food doesn't always bring with it enough nutrients. Anemia has been an issue for me this year so I have upped my intake of red meats and other iron rich foods. I also finally found an iron supplement (thanks Justin) that doesn't bring frustration to the bathroom - Floradix. He also recommended blackstrap molasses - an acquired taste for sure. 

It has been nearly a month since I started taking this supplement and plan on retesting my iron levels at the end of March.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


The twenty ten road race season began today at Mason Lake.  Some call it the world championships and others call it little more than a training ride. For me, this was vindication. After a tough 2009 season where I had my ass handed to me in the pro/1/2 field I wanted to reset the expectation for myself with a solid placing today.

The course is 72 miles aggregated by six 12 mile loops on good pavement and chip seal. On the backside there is a nasty headwind where breaks will typical set up.  The remainder of the course rolls and winds through tall timber allowing for even a 30 second gap to disappear.

Typically the weather at Mason consists of cold pissing rain and with a new system moving in overnight we expected a repeat today. Fortunately, the rains held off until after our race and temperatures stayed around 50 degrees for most of the afternoon.

At 1pm we started our neutral rollout up until we took a right turn and began to ease into the throttle. I was near the back of the pack and wanted to work my way up so I didn't get caught with my shorts down on the opening move. Moving up after only a few miles into the race some would consider premature since we still had seventy miles to go. But if there is one thing I have learned in bike racing it is this: expect the unexpected.

At mile five of seventy two I was full throttle and driving a break alongside Fleischhauer and Richter of HSP, and Hitchcock of Garage.  Soon we were joined by McKissick of Lenovo and Stangeland of Keller Rohrback. We had a large gap that increased to two minutes after one lap. We were flying and I was wondering when this onslaught was going to ease up. I was on the rivet. After two laps I was asking myself the same question. By the third lap we had a three minute lead on the pack and it appeared that we were going to stay away. My legs were beginning to sieze up and I increased the cadence to lessen the load but it was two laps too late - I was fried and any attacks out of this group would likely put my tail between my legs.

Suffering in the break.
It was only after the fourth lap that we eased up on the pace, which in hindsight is where we went wrong. On the backstretch McKissick attacked the break while I was on the back and a gap formed putting me back into the wind and I couldn't find a wheel. So I transitioned from the winning break to a dark desolate place. Stuck between the break and the pack it has the feel of Siberia without the threat of polar bears. It only took the pack a half lap to catch me and I was ashen, beaten, and silent.

I finished in the pack today after 50+ miles in what would be the winning albeit fractured break (Ian soloed in for the win after dropping Stangeland and Richter took third). While I didn't podium today I did learn a couple things today that were well worth the effort:
  1. Luck favors the prepared.
  2. I can finally swing the axe.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Round Two: Icebreaker Time Trial

Sunday was third place. Today I was going for the win.

Over the last week, I spent eighty percent of my bike time on the P3 to get more comfortable in the position and to hopefully bring my wattage within five percent of what I can throw down on the SL2. The aero component will only change once my improvement in wattage begins to stall. It looks like I am nearly there.

No prerace ritual passes without a little self induced stress. And there is no stress like running late. In business, I am always on time. In play, I am always on the rivet. My warmup was short today and I was a little concerned with how heavy my legs felt, especially compared to yesterday. Had it been a road race I would have written it off and assumed my legs would come around later on in the day. Since today's race was only ten miles, I decided to suffer.

The course was flat and meandering with no technical sections except for a couple uneven vehicles and a cone at the turnaround at least one or two riders overcooked today. Kyle wasn't my thirty second man this week and I again opted to leave power, speed, and heart rate in the car. I didn't need any limiters to look at today. I only needed to pick off one rider after another to keep me motivated enough to tell my body what to do.

Last year I ran this course in 22:31. Today I came across the line in 21:08. Good enough for second place and another HUGE mental victory.