Thursday, September 10, 2009

A look at Grease Monkey Wipes

Grease Monkey Wipes are single-use individually packaged moist degreasing wipes that actually work! The idea for the wipes came about because of a flat tire on a long road ride and the resulting greasy hands (well known to anyone who rides a bike) and have come to be the best (and only) all-natural portable wipe for anyone who gets dirty (and doesn't want to stay that way).
Personally, I have really enjoyed my Grease Monkey Wipes. They are convenient, easy to carry and they really work. I have found that even if I am in close proximity to a sink and soap (which I rarely am), a Grease Monkey Wipe actually works better to remove grease and bike gunk from my hands. So, not only are they great on the trail, but also if you do any kind of wrenching or tinkering on your own bike.
Here's an example of how well they remove road gunk (I know that's what the black stuff was because I had just changed a tire on my road bike). They work just as well on grease!
Pre Grease Monkey Wipe

Post Grease Monkey Wipe

Best ways to use them:
  • Keep in your saddle bag or hydration pack for post-emergency trailside maintenance
  • Keep in your toolbox to use after tinkering with your bike
  • Keep in your car in case you have to change a car tire
  • Keep in your purse/backpack in case you need to clean your hands and don't have a bathroom or instant hand sanitizer around (I never do)
  • Use them as a chain degreaser - it actually works!
Finally, the thing that really seals the deal for me is how they smell. It's just like wiping an orange all over your hands. My only suggestion is to resist the temptation to walk around with your fingers in your nose. Most people don't realize what you're doing and you get some weird looks...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Racing and a break...

Wow, it has been way too long since I last posted. I apologize for my silence, but will now update you all on what I've been up to for the last couple of months...

First, I should mention National Championships. I was hoping to win. I had been racing well and was hoping to get to duke it out with Colin Cares at the front for the all-expense-paid trip to World Championships, but it wasn't meant to be. I ended up starting good and strong and rode the first lap (of 5) with Colin, but after that, I just didn't feel it. My legs felt sluggish and slow and I didn't have the intensity that I should have for that time of year. I ended up finishing 4th (still on the podium - see photo below) after Colin Cares, Robbie Squire, and Stephen Ettinger. I want to congratulate all three of them on a stellar race and I'm just bummed that I wasn't able to give them a bit more competition.After Nationals, I decided to go to the World Cup race in Bromont, Canada because Marc Gullickson, who works for USA Cycling, told me that going to Bromont would improve my chances of getting a spot on the World Championships team, which has been my goal since the beginning of this year.

So I headed home for about a week, then headed to the East Coast for a 3 week cycling adventure (Bromont, Mt. Snow, and then Windham). At the Bromont World Cup (my first World Cup ever and my first time racing in Canada) I finished 80th of 120 or so starters. I was called up almost dead last, so I was pleased with my result because it meant that I passed 30 or so people! The race was completely chaotic because it was raining and muddy, but I had a great time and enjoyed seeing some of my Chilean friends that I had met during my time in South America last winter. After Bromont, I raced the final two US Pro XC Tour races in Mt. Snow, VT and Windham, NY and I finished 30th and 33rd, respectively, in the Pro field. Certainly not up to par with my earlier results, but still top half.

It was during this 3 weeks on the road that I realized how tired I was. My legs never felt good and I didn't have the intensity or power that I had had earlier in the season. It took me a while to figure it out, but I eventually realized that it was simply due to having had such a long season. For the first time since I had started racing, I had trained seriously through the winter and my first races were a stage race in January and then Continental Championships in March. So I had been racing for almost 7 months!

I also found out around this time that I had not been chosen for the U23 World Championships team. I was (and still am) disappointed, but I worked my hardest to be chosen, and when I spoke to USA Cycling, I was told that I was next on the list. I understand that USA Cycling does their best to choose racers who they think have a good chance of doing well, but they chose to only bring three (3) U23 racers of the seven (7) they were allowed to bring! Seems like a bad idea to me, but what could I do????

So now I have decided to take a break from cycling for a bit. When I got back to NM, I brought my girlfriend, Victoria Henry, to school and am now back in Taos with my family. I have about a week to hang out with them and then I head back to Middlebury College for another 2 years of school. Once I get back to school I am planning to start preparing for the collegiate mountain bike season and for CYCLOCROSS, which I am REALLY excited for!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

getting lost and breaking bikes

After a day off and a quick spin on the new singlespeed on tuesday I got back to some solid riding yesterday. The plan was to start at the Sourdough Trailhead near the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station. Instead of riding my normal route on the sourdough north towards Brainard Lake and Camp Dick I headed Northwest up to the Niwot Ridge Trail, the goal, ride up and over Niwot Ridge (the highest trail in the immediate front range of Boulder) and then drop down and back via the Sourdough. After climbing for nearly 1.5 hours the retention spring in my brake broke and started sticking into my rotor making an awful sound.

I hopped off the bike at somewhere near 12,000 ft above sea level with no tree cover and clouds rolling in. Pulled the front wheel and pulled the brake pads out with the hope to mend the retention spring. Sadly it wasn't to be. After sitting there for a considerably amount of time and getting very cold (I eventually put on a fleece jersey, leg warmers, and a hat) I figured it would probably make more sense to keep going and come back on sourdough still as this would be less continuous steep descending without a front brake.

Turns out I missed the turn and ended up at the top of some mountain by a research building for CU. Ah well, guess I have to try and flow my way down the mountain with only a rear brake.

Overall the descent for the first bit wasn't that bad as the alpine tundra covered in Granite does not lend to a huge amount of speed. Then, the fast fire road came. It is seriously scary trying to descend steep, fast, and loose fire roads without a speed control mechanism and only a bike control mechanism. In the end I definitely wimped out and walked a few of the steeper pitches in order to avoid barrelling over the side of the trail into the creek beds.

Overall it was a sweet ride to get up so high in altitude and work on pushing the pedals without much oxygen especially over technical terrain.

Till next time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

National Championships Recap

I have always had a love-hate relationship with the national championships and this year did not disappoint. The weekend started off on Friday for me this year with a short day trip up to Sol Vista Ski Basin to pre-ride the course and watch Macky's U23 race. After pre-riding and wishing I had a dual suspension I quickly grabbed my bag and started on the recovery process while watching some awesome racing action.

Unfortunately for Macky it was not quite the race he was hoping for. The climb turned out to be a little long for him and he wasn't able to hold the blistering pace that Robbie Squire and Colin Cares had set.

Back at the car and on my way I was feeling good, though a little tired. I made it home, relaxed with my feet up for the evening and made it an early night for bed.

Saturday morning, up, watching the tour, eating and then loading up the car for the quick drive to Sol Vista. 2 pm start for me today, making it easy to sleep at home in the comfort of my own bed. After spending the morning trying to get my stomach to stop acting up on me I finally got on my bike for a warm up. Even with the stomach being queesy I was feeling good. The legs were light and felt ready to fly. Apparently this was not the case. The 18% starting grade in a mass bunch was quite problematic for my last roll call up. Bars hooked, foot down, and I was only half way up the first pitch. After this I kept trying to push it and really hit the climb hard but the legs were not turning around the way they should have been or were the week before in Winter Park. And then the descent....

I absolutely love my new Yeti A.R.C. It is by far the best hard tail I have ever ridden. Super smooth, super stiff, and spot on geometry for fast mountain bike riding. Unfortunately there are courses out there that prefer dual suspensions in order to ride fast. With moon dust filled braking ruts all the way down the mountain the hard tail was not in the mood to ride downhills fast and was honestly a little frustrating, but that is bike racing.

After racing for 3 laps in an embarassing fashion I was pulled and was able to go sit and watch the rest of the pro men's field continue their rides around the 4 mile course.

Made it back home Saturday evening. Ate some delicious food and then went to bed. Sunday morning rolled around and I was ramped up to race Short Track (odd since I am not a big fan of short tracks ever!). The legs weren't even remotely sore (probably due to only having to race for 3 laps). Only problem was my stomach was worse than the day before. Fortunately I had a left over bottle of coke from Saturday and set about drinking it as Shannon drove up Berthoud Pass.

Feeling better and spinning around for my warm up things were looking good. The course was exceptionally difficult with a LONG climb, something that absolutely suits me in Short Track races. Threw down a few laps, tried riding Adam Craig's wheel down the descent (doesn't work so hot when he is by far one of the best bike handler's in the world and I am still young in bike racing/riding years).

Once again I had a last row call up, but was able to find a wonderful spot on the outside in order to move up quickly. Well the gun goes and all you can say about Short Track is OUCH! Fortunately though I was feeling smoking and was railing up the climbs and riding the descents as smoothly and quickly as possible it is to do on the side of a bumpy ski slope.

Nationals has come and gone once again and now it is time to get back to training and a big trip back east to see how my year at altitude will affect my ability to ride fast at sea level up Mount Snow and up Windham.

Till then.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The First Yeti Build

Yesterday at 2:30 in the afternoon I pulled into 600 Corporate Circle, Golden, CO 80401 - the home of Yeti Cycles. After speaking with Bubba for a few moments I spent the next couple of minutes ogling the history of Yeti Cycles hanging in the lobby. Yeti has always made amazing bikes and in my opinion always will from their Downhill rock eaters to their stiff and compliant aluminum hard tails.

My new Yeti A.R.C. frame was handed off and I booked it back to Longmont for a headset install and then home for an afternoon of building. But first I weighed it with our sweet scale from Feedback Sports, a slight 3.76 lbs. This is not quite the uber light carbon fiber hard tail that many cross country racers ride, however, I have gone that route and have found that maybe it isn't the best.

Here are some pics from the build process:

Here is the weight with headset of the frame I replaced with the A.R.C.
And now the A.R.C. weight!Checkout the amazing attention to detail with a stamped Yeti on the replaceable derailleur hanger!


Though the weight is not quite what many racers are riding or even close to what I started my season out on, however, with some new components (handlebars, crankset, brakes, cassette) I can easily have it down to 21 or 22. Just need some time.

I still have not been able to set up my new set of Power Cordz as I am waiting for my trusted teammate to give me a hand on this process, since he has had experience doing it on his bike. Stay tuned for a ride report and race report as I break in this turquoise and white beauty.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Winter Park Series Race #3 Report

Yesterday was my second adventure at the low key and super fun Winter Park Race Series for this season. Like 2 weeks ago a few big names decided to show up and show us where it's at with Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski blasting to the win 2 minutes ahead of Michael Broderick. Those guys were cruising!

My race went amazingly well and I was surprised at the legs I had, especially during the first hour. The whole race I was blasting up the climbs and attacking riders on their dual suspensions as they bobbed up the mountains. The legs were light and all they wanted to do was rocket, it was working perfectly.

About half way through the race there is this amazingly fast fire road descent that is super sketchy, with monster jumps and one corner that is rutted out from rain water and four wheel drive vehicles coming up in the wet and muddy conditions. I took a huge digger on this corner and lost my position in a solid and strong group that would have carried me to finish inside the top 30.

After regrouping I was back on and hammering forward. Surprisingly my confidence wasn't shaken but sitting in no man's land I was having trouble pushing as hard as I needed to. Fortunately someone came around me and after a minute of riding his pace I got tired of it and just blasted by him on the next semi sustained climb (my playground). This continued for the remainder of the race. If the trail went up I was flying climbing many climbs in my big ring and attacking out of the saddle. I have honestly never felt so strong on my bike.

Unfortunately with my rear tire a little low from semi-burping it during my first crash I had to take it easy during the technical descents so as not to blow it off the rim. Every time I felt the rim hit I cringed. But I was able to ride smooth and not lose too much time on the best singletrack of the race.

Popped out of the bottom attacked up the next climb and just kept hammering. From the 1 hour 30 mark all the way until the finish at 1 hour 50 I rode my big ring no matter what it looked like. I felt like I was riding possessed! And then, I crashed again. Unfortunately I couldn't get up as fast this time as my right leg cramped up and I spent 2 minutes laying on the ground just trying stand up. It was brutal.

Back on the bike and a minute of spinning and I was back to being possessed. Ripping past people and making on final move to finish 44th out of 55 riders only 20 minutes down.

Maybe not my best race on paper, but based on how I was feeling and riding I know I could have been close to 15 places higher and almost 5 minutes faster without the crashes.

One thing that I was exceptionally impressed with this weekend was how awesome wide riser bars are for control and for climbing. For the past 2 years I have been a narrow flat bar rider with a 1 inch drop from saddle to bars. After some thought on my strengths and weaknesses as a rider I convinced myself that some wide riser bars were the way to go. Just this week I put on a set of Easton low rise bars that are 685 mm wide. They are awesome! Sweet leverage when climbing, lungs are held open for comfortable breathing, and so much better for cornering. I think I am a convert and will be riding the wide riser bars even on my race hard tail.

A good solid weekend of training and now to rest up for Nationals. That race is going to be brutal, but fortunately suits me with it's alpine course nature (long climb, long descent, rinse repeat).

Look for a build report of my Yeti A.R.C. in the coming days. I will be picking the frame up at the Yeti Factory in Golden early this week and then spending time to get it dialed for awesomeness at Sol Vista Ski Basin.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Squirt Lube Skinsuits

We received skinsuits from Squirt Lube a while ago (just after Crested Butte). I'd never worn a skinsuit, so I had to try it on and take some pictures. What do you think? They're pretty sweet, huh?????


We've also been working on our OWN kits! Finally. They should be pretty sweet, but I don't want to give away too many details because we want to surprise everyone when we finally get to wear them. Many thanks to Dave Griebling (our Rooly guy) and Pioneer S&M for helping us get the kits going and for having such a good turn-around time (just over 2 weeks).
That's all for now, just getting ready for National Championships so I can get my auto-qualification for World Championships. Wish me luck!

Pre-Race Prep

Another week another race looming on the horizon. This weekend is a split weekend for the Transparent Racing Squad. I will be racing the third edition of the Winter Park Series while Macky will be racing at the New Mexico Off Road Series in Albuquerque.

This weekend will be pretty sweet for me as the Winter Park Series is more about having fun while riding your bike fast on sweet trails in the Fraser Valley. Instead of the traditional 5 or 6 lap race around some track we will be competing on a 24 mile point to point course starting at the Winter Park Ski Resort and finishing up just outside of Fraser, CO.

Macky will be competing in a much more traditional style XC race, however, it will be an epic battle. Damien Calvert, a fast pro from New Mexico, has eluded Macky every single match-up they have had. Macky is really gunning for him this weekend and barring any mechanical problems I believe he will overtake him for the W.

Watch for updates as the weekend progresses and if you are in the area come out and cheer for us!

Happy riding and racing this weekend.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yeti

We're proud to introduce our newest sponsor: Yeti Cycles!
We are planning to get our frames soon, so look for us to be riding the Yeti ARC in the very near future.

If you've never checked out Yeti's bikes, give then a good look. They have some really cool technologies (notice the rear triangle of the ARC above) and you can't help but ogle the Carbon ASR (check out the integrated seat post).
More updates soon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Putting in the Miles

Last week was my final week of serious training before the 2009 US Mountain Bike National Championships. This meant a huge week of time on the bike and lots of painful intervals, but also some good fun.

Between my race last weekend and then along endurance ride I was ready for some rest time. Monday was a day to sit around and let my body except the punishment I gave it over the weekend while recovering for the week of training.

Tuesday - Hill attacks. This means find a short hill and sprint up it for 30 seconds recover for a minute. Rinse Repeat. I did 3 sets of 4 attacks with 5 minutes of recovery between each set of 4. Legs felt awesome, though my bike was feeling weird as I put my narrow flat bars back on in order to fix many fit issues I was having, the first and foremost was my cockpit length and the only shorter stem I had was not the same size as my riser bars (ugh!)

Wednesday - Climbing Repeats with Hill attacks every 2 minutes. These hurt. All you do is go long and hard with even harder efforts throughout. To make matters worse these workouts always come with a total time of 3 hours at a minimum, I did 4.

Thursday - Endurance Ride. In order to prepare for nationals at my best I took the 2.5 hour trek up to Sol Vista Ski Basin to ride a few easy laps on the Nationals Course. All I can say is: Sol Vista you guys need to get your act together. Though I haven't seen the DH course or Super D course the XC course is rather sad and not worthy of being the course that determines the American National Champions. The climb is all well and good but as soon as you reach the descent you essentially ride down a "trail" that is marked out and has been ridden but not actually built like a real trail ought to be. To make matters slightly worse half way down the descent there is a short power climb that is over a section of the mountain that has been clear cut and then the trees were sent through a chipper. You ride over these wood chips with no way of understanding where the course is. Finally, near the top of the course there is a section of trail that IMBA would cry at. It shoots straight down the side of the mountain without a sign of even thinking about sustainability. Nor is it actually built. Imagine grabbing your mountain bike and then just riding down the side of a hill straight, hmmmm.....

Friday - Recovery. I needed some good recovery after those past 3 days to get ready for a big weekend.

Saturday - More Climbing Repeats with hill attacks. Went back out for the same workout as wednesday and did not feel it. Did my first interval and after not being able to get my heart rate up to where it needed to be consistently I bailed on the workout. Sometimes it is better to just ride and recover than really over do it.

Sunday - Another Endurance ride. With the plan being to head to Winter Park again this coming weekend for another Winter Park Series race I thought let's go to Winter Park ride some epic trails and check out the course. After talking to the guys at the Trestle Bike Park Shop about the area a little bit I suited up and headed out. All I can say is the mountain biking in Winter Park is truly epic. Amazingly built trails that are so much fun to ride. I smiled for 4 hours and never got tired.

Now it is time to taper off and let my body really get the best out of that last week while keeping the engine finely tuned with some short hard efforts this week and a race this weekend.

Hope to see you out there in Winter Park enjoying the epicness that is the Fraser Valley in Grand County, CO.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Winter Park Series # 2 Race Report

This morning I woke up bright and early (5:30) to load up the car and drive to Winter Park, Colorado. If you have never been to Winter Park to ride your mountain bike I highly suggest it. There are hundreds of miles of beautiful singletrack ranging from crazy technical to fast and flowy.

The Winter Park Series is a low key fun series that has about 8 or 9 races over the course of the summer highlighting the trails and sweet riding in Winter Park. Today's event XC Super Loop. In many ways this course was a Super Loop in that it was a blast! During the race I had a hard time separating myself from the fact that I was racing and the fact that these trails were ripping fast. Fortunately because of how much fun the trails were it made me want to hammer it in the big ring for the 1 h and 37 minutes of race time I had.

Overall I am happy with the race and finally excited to be racing again. Though I felt average at first after about 15 minutes I found my mojo and just kept flying. Maybe that past week of goofing off and not being serious for 7 days really helped me. Even riding a 3 pound heavier bike than I have since March I still had my best finish of the season with a 35th place finish only 18 minutes down on the winning time posted by JHK. All the better that at least 2 big guns showed up (JHK and Colin Cares) as well as a couple of fast pro roadies that have some sick mountain bike skills (Scott Tietzel - DLP Pro Cycling).

All in all a good day. Now time to rest up and put in another solid ride tomorrow before I continue my final build phase leading up to Nationals.

Pictures to come as soon as I can locate them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Building the Form Back Up

After my mental recovery week I thought it was high time to get back to actual bike practices and give the whole serious training thing a shot again with the hope of not being completely destroyed by the time Nationals rolls around in 3 weeks.

In my hopes of building form back I did what has been on of the most successful training rides of my career as a cyclist based on my results the past couple of years: long and hard. When I say "long and hard" I don't mean I go out and hammer for 5 hours at a harsh 165+ average heart rate. No, no, no.... That means I spend about 2 hours riding at a fun and consistent endurance pace and then light it up for a solid hour of intervals and then spend the next 2 hours back in the endurance zone.

By the time I got off work in the morning and made my way home I was on the bike by about 12:30 in the afternoon. The skies were looking good and I was pedaling a pretty good pace towards Boulder Canyon from Longmont (a solid 1.5-2 hour ride at Endurance pace depending on the direction of the wind). During this first part of the ride I was feeling pretty good but definitely noticed that it was really hot, I'm talking in the 90's and there are no groves of trees to protect you out on the plains, so I was baking pretty good.

I reached Boulder Canyon and almost immediately started out my first 15 minute interval with 30 second attacks every 2 minutes. "Man I am feeling good, heart rate is controllable, it is in the right place, and I can really ramp it up during those attacks, 200 here I come" were my thoughts. After finishing the first interval I dropped into a seriously easy gear for Boulder Canyon and recovered for a bit till I reached Magnolia road and then put my bike in the granny gear for the first time in God only knows how long so I could continue my recovery process.

Next interval showed up and after about five minutes of suffering up one of the steepest climbs in the world (I swear this hill is nuts!) I started to notice that I was not feeling so hot. My stomach wasn't happy, I wasn't able to control my bike, or even really keep my heart rate down in my climbing zones. Then I realized, uh-oh, my old nemesis has returned: heat exhaustion.

Last year I had two weekends in a row where I battled heat exhaustion in the middle of the summer and after those two events I very quickly learned that one does not continue on when feeling like this. Didn't finish my second interval and it was time to go home. Instead of doing my planned ride all the way to Nederland and then wandering on dirt roads and trails back towards Left Hand Canyon and finally home I just booked it down Magnolia road and went home the way I came at a comfortable and sustainable pace considering how I was feeling.

4 hours 45 minutes later I had covered 60 miles (almost a metric century!) and burned about 4,000 calories.

Now time to recover...

This weekend Transparent Racing will be up at the Winter Park Series Race #2 - The XC Super Loop, so if you are from Colorado and enjoy epic mountain biking at it's best come on up, say hi, and rip some of the best trails in Colorado.

Here are some photo's from last weeks exploits for your viewing pleasure:


See you out there.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back to Basics

After a hard weekend both mentally and physically I decided I really needed a mental break from living life as a professional mountain bike racer.

Colorado Springs greeted me with a bruised up left side of the body and the possibility of cracked ribs (Shannon, my fiancee, keeps telling me this. I refuse to believe her) as well as a cracked carbon mountain bike. After spending my sunday rebuilding up my old aluminum hard tail from the winter I finally got back out for a ride again on Monday and did something I haven't done for awhile, I just rode. The heart rate monitor though present was not on the handlebars for the first time on a training ride in over 3 years and I didn't look at it at all except to hit start and stop at the beginning and end of my ride.

This view of training has been following me all week. Tuesday I went out for a bit longer than the 45 minutes the day before and did one of the best loops from my house out to Heil Ranch and home through Lyons, solid 3 hours at a comfortable pace. Wednesday I didn't have the mojo to ride, so I didn't! Then by Thursday I suited up a for a quick morning spin into Lyons and up to Hall Ranch. By the time I got to the Antelope trail I was feeling pretty antsy and pinned it all the way to the top, man that felt good to just hammer on some dirt.

Well after getting in a sweet 32 mile ride at Hall I had to take a super fast shower and then get ready for a weekend down at Sea Level. This past weekend while Macky was killing it at Crested Butte I was living the life down in Houston, TX.

As a mountain bike racer/rider one would think that my options for actual singletrack would be quite limited in Houston, wrong! At both Memorial Park and Terry-Hershey Park (both a 25-30 minute road spin from where I stay) there is some sweet true singletrack unlike any I have ever experienced. The trails are tight, twisty, rooty, and above all a blast to just put in the big ring and hammer. It felt so good to spend the weekend not worrying about what intervals I should be doing and just enjoying riding my bike again, something that I think will benefit the rest of my season exceptionally well.

Next up, Winter Park Series number 2 this weekend on the XC Super Loop, can't wait!

Monday, June 22, 2009

BigAir, Squirt lube, and a little rain

This past Saturday was Mt. Crested Butte's annual mountain bike race, the Wildflower Rush. In my seven years of racing, I have raced it 5 times (the only one I've raced more is the Angel Fire Chile Challenge, which I have raced EVERY single year, for a total of 7). Back in 2004, this was the race that my coaches guessed would get me hooked, or get me to quit mountain bike racing. As you may have noticed, it got me hooked.
I raced it as my second ever mountain bike race, and I had just moved from Junior Beginner to Junior Expert (there was no Junior Sport at the time). For those of you who have raced this race in years past, you probably remember the course: 10 miles with 1800 or so feet of climbing per lap. And I had to ride 3 laps (the same number of laps I later rode as a Pro). And I had barely ridden and had only raced one other race. I survived it. That's about all I can say. That, and that I finished 3rd, only because I was one of the few racers who didn't quit.
The race start
Now that you know my history with this race, let me tell you a bit about this year's race. First of all, they completely changed the course. And I wasn't quite sure what to think of it. Of the new 7.5 mile course, only 0.5 miles were the same as the old course, and quite a bit of it was brand-new singletrack. As much as I enjoy new singletrack, it is important to note that it is rarely smooth. It takes hundreds of riders riding it for it to get buffed out and I could very easily tell that hundreds of riders HAD NOT ridden it yet. Fortunately, the Cat 1s, 2s, and 3s all raced before the Pros, so they smoothed it out quite nicely for us.
The race started off fast. I was able to get myself a front row start (finally) so I was in the mix right from the gun. After about 10 minutes, I had moved into 2nd place behind Andy Schultz, and was jockeying for position with Cameron Brenneman. When we hit the descent, I was able to put some time on Cameron, but then I hit a rock and partially rolled my front tire. Luckily, it had not punctured, so I was able to pull it back onto the wheel and inflate it with a BigAir, but I lost 3 places in the process. I caught back up to the guys who had passed me, but had to stop at the tech zone to get a now CO2 (I thought that I had used most of the BigAir) and to close my valve (I had forgotten to in the frenzy of re-inflating my tire). At that point, I was starting my 2nd lap of 3 and was in 5th place.
I remember very little of the 2nd lap except that it started raining and I was able to catch up to a few of the guys ahead of me on the muddy descent. As we started our last lap, I had moved up 2 spots (into 3rd) and was in a group with Jay Henry, Travis (not sure of his last name), and Cameron Brenneman, working to catch Andy Schultz, the race leader.
Jay Henry passed me part way through the third lap and put a bit of a gap on me, but once we hit the descent, I was able to catch him, and together we caught Andy.
The rest of the descent reminded me more of a cyclocross race than a mountain bike race. The descent was so muddy that all three of us had to run with our bikes on certain sections and ended up completely coated in mud. Fortunately, my Squirt lube held up beautifully in the inclement weather and my shifting stayed for the whole race.
Post-race mud (and COLD)
As we neared the bottom, Andy was able to put a slight gap on Jay Henry and myself, and I realized that I would be fighting Jay for 2nd place. As we popped out of the singletrack onto the final dirt road climb to the finish, Jay went to clip back in (he'd been using his foot for stability on the muddy singletrack) and missed his pedal. I was able to take advantage of his minor slip up and attacked with 100 feet to the finish and beat him in the sprint! It was a great finish to a miserably fun race.
Poor bike!
Post-race shower

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hunting...

I went hunting today on my hour recovery ride for the little spring that holds AVID disc brake pads apart. Thanks to John Dawson at SRAM, I got a few sets of pads, but when I tried to install them on my Giant Anthem today I realized that I didn't have the spring I needed. So, I rode without a front brake (I've done this quite a few times recently) and went by all 2 bike shops in Taos looking for the spring. At Taos Cyclery, they couldn't find a used one for me because Doug, the owner, wasn't there. And Gearing Up was closed. So I rode without a front brake and just played around easy.
A few other things to note:
We received our first shipment of Grease Monkey Wipes today. Thanks guys! I can't wait to go out and get dirty so I can try them out...
We also received a stand, truing stand, scale, and tool tray from Feedback Sports. Can't wait to try them out as well (and get an accurate reading on how much my bike weighs)!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sandcreek Classic race report

This past weekend (June 12-13th) was the 4th stop of the US Pro XC Tour in Colorado Springs, CO. There was a good turnout, the courses were fun, and I felt good about my results!
The short track was Friday and the course was great...well, it would have been great if I hadn't wanted to pass. It was about 90% singletrack which is exactly what I love to ride when I'm going out for a training ride or a fun ride, but not what I want when I'm racing, especially after getting a terrible call up. But regardless, it was a FUN course, just not a very good one for passing.
As I mentioned, I got a terrible call up. Actually, I didn't really get a call up. They did the short track call ups based on the Sea Otter short track which I didn't do well at, so I ended up toward the back of the pack and had to spend the entire race passing people until I finally ended up in 10th place (2nd under-23). I felt good though and was riding well, which was encouraging.

The cross country went pretty well too. Once again, there were some call up issues (I ended up at the back again because of the "parade lap" we were forced to do), but I was able to fight my way into 20th (2nd under-23 again) out of 90 or so starters and almost caught Colin Cares at the finish. And when I say almost, I mean that I was only 0.1 second behind him!

The course was one of the most interesting cross country courses I had ever raced; wide, smooth, gravel-covered singletrack for the first third, then steep, rocky, and trail. It wasn't the best for passing, but was really fun! I would love to go out there and ride it for fun some time. My WTB Nano Raptor tires were great and perfect for the course!
Overall, it was a successful weekend for me. I had a blast, raced well, and, who knows, I might even get a call up next time!
(I also got to watch my dad and younger brother race, which is always fun.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Teva Mountain Games

This past weekend was the Teva Mountain Games in Vail. If you have not heard of this event or know anything about this event, well, you should. It is the most amazing outdoor sporting event I have ever been to, which is quite a few over the past few years. The whole village of Vail is packed with Vendors, athletes, spectators, and good vibes.

Friday morning Seamus, an old friend from New York who is staying out in Colorado with me for the next couple of weeks, and I got up packed the car and hauled off to Vail to pre-ride the course and hand out some Action Wipes. We made a B-line for registration and found the best swag bags we've ever seen at any event. A sweet T-Shirt, nalgene bottle, dog food, powdered drink mix, and various other goodies in a sweet reusable bag. Definitely all good things.

Next move was to get dressed hit up what was going to be a sweet course. To say the least this was the perfect ski resort course. The race never made you head all the way to the netherlands of Vail mountain, where I am sure there is some amazing singletrack to be had, but for racing, not the best idea if people want to watch the race. Because of that the climbs were fairly short and allowed you to experience a few short and super hard but super fun technical descents.

During the pre-ride I cased it pretty hard here trying to be fancy and ride the left line instead of the right line:
Heading up the second of two long climbs. This was the more brutal of the two, steep, rocky, with slick mud sections:
One of the corners on the descent. Leads into an awesome root drop off:
A view of the start line. This is facing the opposite direction the course goes, but it is an epic photo:
2nd of the two climbs up some singletrack:
Preride done, now time to get food and hand out action wipes.

Saturday came along and Seamus and I once again woke up early to drive back to Vail, race day was here! Showed up at Vail with plenty of time to spare. Got ready and started heading around to warm up and find a possible feed. After about 15 minutes of searching we were starting to get a little worried as prospects were looking kind of sketchy and then Dave Griebling from Rooly popped out in front of me. Dave is awesome and I can't thank him enough for not only supporting us with the best shades I have ever worn but for feeding us at Sea Otter and now Teva.

Then it was race time. Without call ups actually taking place but with a field stacked like it was a US Pro XCT event I made sure to get to the start line early enough to not be stuck at the back. Mission # 1 was accomplished with a 3rd of about 10 row start position. Unfortunatley Mission 2, get a good start, didn't quite go to plan. As I went to go the person in the row behind me decided it was a good idea to get his wheel caught on my derailleur and then cause a crash. Luckily I wasn't involved in the crash but I was not able to get going for an extra 3 or 4 seconds after the gun went off. Within a few minutes though I was off to a flying pace and feeling super good, too good in fact.

Lap 1 was 32 minutes, man was I feeling smoking. Lap 2 was 33 minutes, consistent still feeling strong and then my legs decided they were a little upset with me for forgetting my recoverite, endurolytes, and endurance aminos the day before and were going to start hurting. This made Lap 3 36 minutes and then Lap 4 37 minutes.

All in all it was not a horrible day. I finished 41st out of 43 finishers but well over 60 starters (huge field) and was only 30 minutes down on the winning time. I'll take that for my first year as a pro against guys who have been doing this for over 10 years and regularly race on the world cup circuit.

Next on tap is the US Pro XCT at Colorado Springs this weekend, should be a good weekend, look for pics of the course as I will be heading down there once or twice this week to get some training days in on the course at Cheyenne Mountain Park.

Until then.....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Swimming in patch kits

I had a really funny thing happen to me yesterday. I received 2 large boxes from Genuine Innovations. That in itself wasn't all the surprising, but the contents were not quite what I was expecting...
According to the packing slip and my order, I was supposed to receive 1 Legend Pump and 20 BigAirs. Although I did receive the pump, instead of 20 BigAirs, I found 20 BOXES of patch kits. Each box had 36 patch kits, so I received 1 pump and 720 patch kits!
While I have flatted many times, I'm not sure if I have flatted quite THAT many times, so I was a bit confused. Eventually, I figured out that whoever had packed the boxes had simply misread the order and had read "boxes of patch kits" instead of "BigAirs". It was hilarious, so I decided to document it:

I let the guys at Genuine Innovations know, and FedEx is coming to pick up the patch kits tomorrow, but man, it really made my day!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back to Training

After returning home from the Angel Fire Mountain States Cup at the end of May I knew I had a solid 2 weeks to get prepared for my next high altitude adventure, the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, CO. This meant lots of big hours and hard intervals over the past week and this week some resting with some short efforts to keep the legs fresh.

On most of my training rides I end up heading up towards Ward, CO in some form or fashion. Ward is a popular destination for the Boulder cycling community as it sits atop a solid 16 mile climb from the base of the Foothills. Living with a fairly close proximity to Left Hand Canyon (the route to Ward) I often spend my time riding in that general direction during training rides. Fortunately for me there are a number of four wheel drive roads and trails that enter and exit through Left Hand Canyon and James Creek Canyon adding to much excitement in my everyday training routine.

One of my more recent discovery's was Rowena Road. I've often noticed it on my map of the area and seen it quite often on my way up the canyon but never really took much note of it as I was not sure what it was (it's not posted on the road). Recently I took a venture and explored a little, discovering what is more of a trail than a road that takes you from Left Hand Canyon Drive to Sunshine Canyon Drive, what a great connecting route for all kinds of mountain exploring in the Boulder foothills!

In addition to using Rowena Rd often to traverse the mountains I have also begun to move higher into the mountains again, as the snow is quickly melting out of the high country, and start riding trails like the James Creek Trail. This trail is pretty much awesome. There is very little traffic on it so it is peaceful and winds it's way up the James Creek Canyon all the way to Gold Lake Resort. There are 2 solid hike a bike sections, one where the creek has invaded the trail and the other where the trail crosses the creek, however, they are absolutely worth it if one considers the connection they make. Once reaching Gold Lake you are only a few miles away from the Peak to Peak highway right above Ward, meaning you are only a few miles away from the Sourdough Trail, Brainard Lake Trails, Switzerland Trail, many dirt road connections to the trails in Nederland, and other trail connections to trails North of Ward. Hours of epic fun.

I am still waiting for the whole of the Sourdough Trail to melt out as much of it is above 10,000 ft and in the trees making for a long and slow thaw process, but once it does, the high country epic rides must continue.

Here are some photos so you may see some of the riding I have been doing lately:


The view down Rowena Rd about half way up:
My bike relaxing on a tree with some new riser bars. Loving the added width:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bumpin' and Grindin'

Today was the Alabama Bump n' Grind Pro XC Tour cross country race. It was hot and humid and close to sea level...Let's just say that I'm not real used to any of those conditions, especially the sea level or humidity!
The race started off fast on a paved road and I was able to get a decent spot as we hit the 1st singletrack. At that point, I pulled back just a bit so that I wouldn't over-do it and crack and just settled in to race. I lost a few places because I was being cautious, but going into the 4th lap (of 5) I started moving up again. Unfortunately, half way through my 4th lap, I noticed that my rear tire was going flat so I stopped to inflate it (thanks Genuine Innovations for the BigAir!). After catching the guy who had passed me when I was re-inflating my tire, I had to stop a second time to add some more air. And then a 3rd time and a 4th time. At which point I was out of air (pretty good for 1 BigAir though, huh?). Then my tire went completely flat and started falling off the rim, so I was forced to stop riding. At that point I was about 4 KM from the finish and had to walk the rest of the way or be counted as DNF ("Did Not Finish"), so I chose to walk. It took me about 30 minutes, but I did finish even though I got passed by every other person who hadn't been pulled from being lapped. I lost more than 20 spots because of the flat (I finished 49th), but that's bike racing...
Overall, it was a successful race and I had a blast, but I wish I hadn't flatted.
Here is a video of me packing my bike back up (23 minutes, even faster than unpacking):

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bump n' Grind pre-ride

I woke up this morning and put my bike together in 25 minutes. Here's the video - don't worry, it's at 900% speed:

Then I went out to pre-ride the Bump n' Grind course. I had a hard time finding it at first, but eventually did find and met up with Greg. We decided to ride together, but after waiting for 30 or 45 minutes while a mechanic looked at his wheel, we realized that his wheel was not in any kind of shape to take a ride, so I went by myself.
I really enjoyed the course. It is a 6.3 mile loop, but my guess is that the fastest guys tomorrow will be doing each lap in about 21 or 22 minutes. There are no extended climbs, everything is rolling, and it's FUN! There are some roots and a few rocks, but for the most part it is a smooth course of smooth, fast dirt. Here is a short clip of part of one of the descents:

Unfortunately, while pre-riding I got pretty confused about the course. I ended up backtracking a bit, turning around, and asking people until I finally figured it out, but it didn't help that the 1st lap (of 5) starts differently than the other 4 and that the Elite lap is partially the same as the non-Elite lap, but backwards, so people kept coming AT me instead of going with me...Oh well, after 2 laps I think I now know what it looks like. Should be fun!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Alabama, here I come!

Fortunately, my trip to Alabama was NOT an adventure. I ran slightly late getting to the airport, but my bags and I made it onto the plane and I was able to take advantage of the NOT ANCIENT battery in my new MacBook Pro and get some work done while flying. I took a brief nap in Dallas and then used my computer again to continue learning PHP until I landed in Alabama.
Unfortunately, when I landed I found out that Seamus Powell, a friend who I was planning to share hotel costs with, had decided not to come because of multiple delays at the Albany airport. Not only was I hoping to get to hang out with him, but now I have to figure out how to pay for a hotel room that was supposed to be split by 3 people (Kat also couldn't come because of finances). Oh well, I guess now I don't have to share my king sized bed and pull out couch.
The huge hotel room that I have all to myself...
In Alabama, I ran into Georgia Gould and Lea Davison in the airport, chatted for a bit, then set about getting to my hotel. Here is where things got less easy. First of all, the taxi driver I spoke to estimated that the trip to my hotel would be about $50. Not only was that expensive, but the hotel website had quoted the trip at about $35...I wasn't real happy, to say the least. I spoke to him for a bit, asked about alternate modes or transportation, and finally, he offered to take me for 20% off what the total came to. I accepted and made it to the Hampton in Pelham for $41.
For dinner I headed to "Krystal", a fast food restaurant 100 yards from the hotel, because I wanted something cheap and didn't want to deal with the crowds at the "Margarita Grill", another restaurant 100 yards away that had live music and tons of people. Here's a shot of my tasty dinner (kinda):

Now I'm off to bed so that I'm rested for pre-riding the course tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Photo Update

So I promised some photos from my second dumb epic of the year and here they are:

A view of the mountains as we finally were making it back to the car, getting dark, uh oh!


Me hiking my way up the Colorado Trail. We eventually put our leg warmers on for protection. Builds Character!
While the Singletrack was still Colorado Epic, so much fun!

It continues to be beautiful and fun. This section was super sick and fast coming down!
From the top of our first climb.

Now it is time to prepare for the Teva Mountain Games in two weeks where the racing is going to be epic in the high country of Colorado, can't wait.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Another weekend of racing...I LOVE IT!

Yesterday was the 2nd day of the 2009 Angel Fire Chile Challenge. Both Kat and I raced the Pro Men's XC and boy, was it a tough course. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been racing this course for a long time and knew what to expect, but for some reason, I still chose to race on my hardtail (XTC Alliance Advanced). That was not a smart idea. Although the Chile Challenge course is fine to ride on a hardtail when you aren't racing, it really slows you down and beats you up during a race. I should have known this, but I am so used to racing on my hardtail that I wouldn't admit that the Anthem Advanced was the way to go.
Macky racing
Between my bike choice, my dead-last start (because I arrived at the start with 2 minutes to race time), and a bit of fatigue from my STXC win, I admit that I didn't have as good a race as I was hoping. I still ended up 5th, but had been hoping for a top 3 finish.
Kat had a pretty good race. He felt strong until the top of the 3rd, and final, lap when both of his calf muscles cramped. At this point, he lost 4 places and ended up 33rd. When we were swapping stories post-race, he mentioned that he also felt slow on his hardtail and wished that he had been on a bike that was a bit more forgiving...At least we both know for next time!
Macky and Kat post-race
I forgot to mention that I received and installed my Bike Pure headset spacer just before the STXC on Saturday. It looks sweet on my bike because of all the blue!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chile Challenging

Today was the 2009 Chile Challenge Short Track. And it was a blast! Kat chose not to race (to stay fresh for the Cross Country tomorrow), but was there, along with quite a few friends of mine, to cheer me on. Coming from Taos, Angel Fire is the closest thing to a home-town course that I have. It was my first ever mountain bike race (7 or so years ago) and I've raced there almost every year since (sometimes more than once).
Today was a great day for me. After coming back from my hand injury and having a good weekend at Santa Fe, I was ready to test myself against the bigger Mountain States Cup (MSC) fields.
The race started off pretty fast, but I was able to get into a decent position (7th or so) despite my not-so-great start position (2nd row, of 3, right in the middle). From there, I moved up for a couple of laps until I was in 4th, then we dropped one racer and it was myself, Jay Henry, and Colin Cares alone at the front. Colin led for a while, then Jay took the lead, and finally, they both slowed a bit to force me to pull. I pulled for part of a lap then took off on the uphill and put a good gap between myself and them. For the rest of the race, I worked to keep them from bridging back up and worked on making up time on the descents (so that I could make up time without working too hard). I ran 2 WTB Nano Raptors and they were great on Angel Fire's terrain (mixed firm and loose dirt, and some gravel). I was able to finish with a comfortable lead, but unfortunately, no one (that I know) got any pictures of the finish, or even of the race.
So, instead, I am leaving you with a video from the day before when I was pre-riding the Cross Country course.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WEAR YOUR HELMET!


This is a frustration and thought I have had lingering for a very long time. Particularly in the world of professional cycling we often see racers out training without their helmets on. This is never the case during competition due to strict rules by the various governing bodies, but very often out of competition this is the case.

In Spain there is a law requiring all cyclists to wear a helmet, punishable by fine, except for professional racers. So if you can show that you are a professional racer once you've been pulled over for not wearing a helmet (e.g. ride around with your racing license in your pocket) then you are fine. Doesn't it seem a little ridiculous that you would take the time to not only explain to the police officer that you are a professional cyclist, but also to carry your racing license around while training rather than putting on a helmet and not even having to think about it??

There are millions of reasons to wear a helmet no matter what kind of riding you are doing, cruising along the boardwalk, out on an epic 100 mile training ride, or just goofing off in the parking lot with some friends.

The most forthcoming reason not to, heat, is actually a false one. Yes, it might feel cooler to be cruising without a helmet on on a hot day, it actually isn't. Helmet technology is well beyond the years of those leather hat like things that would clearly make one sweat and warm up profusely. They are well vented, designed to handle hot days and sweat. Just think as you watch the Tour de France as the climb up the Alps or the Pyrenees, they are all wearing their helmets and it doesn't seemed to have effected the sport that much in the end, now has it!?!

I implore all cyclists out there to wear their helmets! It could save your life! It is worth every second you put it on your head.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Saddle Sore Prevention

Saddle Sore (adj): A state of soreness from riding more than one is used to or from riding after taking significant time off of the bike.
Saddle Sore (n): A skin ailment on the buttocks due to, or exacerbated by, riding on a bicycle saddle.
The former is something that happens to anyone who starts riding more than they are used to and usually goes away once your tender behind gets accustomed to riding. My only advice here is that you should NEVER increase your time one the bike too dramatically in too short a time period. Instead, slowly increase the duration and frequency of your rides and make sure to give yourself lots of recovery time.
Unfortunately, I have significantly more experience with the latter type of saddle sore. Saddle sores are a cyclists nightmare. They are somewhat similar to facial acne (they are basically a pimple), but in a more tender (and less seen) area. And they are VERY painful to sit on. There are thousands of suggestions out there about how to prevent and cure saddle sores, but here is what I do that has helped me immensely:
  • Clean shorts: Never reuse cycling shorts without washing them. One of the biggest factors in whether or not you get saddle sores is how clean you are. And riding in a sweaty, day-old chamois does not count as clean.

  • Lube: Hopefully, you lube your chain to increase your drivetrain life and decrease friction. Some goes for your backside. I apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to my chamois before every ride to help cut down on the amount of rub on my bum. There are more expensive products out there, but petroleum jelly does the trick (and is REALLY cheap).

  • Get out of your chamois: As soon as possible after your ride, get out of your chamois and clean up. If you are near a shower, take one. If not, I suggest ActionWipes post ride to clean up your backside. I posted about ActionWipes a while ago and highly recommend them.
While this may not be the answer for everyone, it will certainly decrease your chance of getting saddle sores. Good luck!
Wipe your bum after you ride!

Dumb Epic # 2 of the Season

Yesterday I went out for what was supposed to be an amazing high country epic in the Colorado mountains. On word from the mtbr forums I heard that Kenosha Pass was clear of snow all the way up towards Georgia Pass. So good friend from the ECCC Chuck D'Hemecourt and I loaded up, dropped a car in Breckenridge and drove to the Rock Creek Trail Head of the Colorado Trail. Hopped on the trail and were ripping. The Colorado Trail is one of the best trails in Colorado by far. Epic views, amazing well built singletrack and awesome history.

We made it to Kenosha and kept heading up. Trails were dry and beautiful. After we made it 6 miles past Kenosha Pass (meaning we were 6 miles from Georgia Pass) we found that the trail was a running stream, huh!?! Well a mile later the trail was a mix of snow fields. With the conditions we had seen so far that day and what the mountains looked like as we drove around Breckenridge we kept our hopes up, pulled on our leg warmers for protection, threw our bikes on our backs and started hiking. After a little while the snow seemed to be thinning out and it looked like if we could just get out of the trees we would be good. BAD MOVE!

We definitely hiked for awhile, probably 3 hours worth (total). After we were sufficiently wet and cold we decided that we should just pull the plug. Nothing was forcing us to get to Breckenridge as we still had one car where we started. Hiked back out of the snow and then rocked it back.

Well we made the car finally after 7 hours in the woods, my longest day on a bike ever (even though only 4 hours were actual riding time). I was amazed that during the last two hours I was able to really put the hammer down. Often after long rides those last couple of climbs are just gruelling slogs, but I was killing it.

Pictures to come!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Many Different Applications of Squirt Lube

Since our trip out to Sea Otter I have been hooked on Squirt Lube. For the western dry conditions I live in it is amazing. Handles the dust amazingly well, deals with water from snow melt on the trails well, and man is a quite chain wonderful. I have also absolutely noticed the difference between my chain dry and my chain with a fresh coating of Squirt Lube in shifting performance.

But it has always seemed to me that a chain lube or bicycle lube ought to be multi-functional. In the past I have been a proud supporter of Pro Link due to it's consistent lubrication, great use in deseizing various parts of a bicycle, as well as a good use when trying to get the most mileage out of one's shifting.

My teammate, Macky, has already shown his views on Squirt here: http://uncoiled.blogspot.com/2008/12/squirt-lube-lube-of-legends.html and in so doing presented a second good use for the product.

Just this week I found a 3rd use beyond the typical chain and quick release applications. In your derailleur housing. This is a common trick for many chain lubes when your housing tends to get a little sticky and often makes the shifting performance feel better, but still not as good as say brand new cables and housing. Well after my wet and slightly, but not particularly, muddy ride this past weekend I lost my rear shifting. The derailleur was not seized, it was quite happy to move freely, but the cable was getting stuck in the last section of housing before the derailleur. I proceeded to take the cable out and carefully inject Squirt into the housing, hoping it would at least lubricate the system somewhat. This took a lot of care due to Squirt's thickness, but after some finesse (one drop at a time and then softly blowing air into the housing ends) I was able to get this done. Then I headed out for my ride.

I have often used tricks like this to save the life of my cables and housing and most of the time I would say it feels good but not great afterwards, doesn't have that same feel you really are looking for. Well the wax based formula of Squirt gives it that feel. In fact prior to resetting my cables I felt the resistance difference between the final piece of housing and the first piece of housing and man was the final piece (where I placed Squirt) smoother.

Since then I have put in roughly 15 hours on the bike and my shifting has felt great the whole time. Smooth and seamless.

This weekend is a huge training weekend with 7 hours of saddle time 4+ of which will be on a grand expedition from the Rock Creek Trail head of the Colorado Trail all the way to Breckenridge, so check back for the forthcoming reports.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Record breaking

I'm not sure exactly when, but back in the day, Todd Gogulski set a record from the bottom of the Taos Ski Valley (TSV) road to the top of 26:32. That's 7.53 miles and 1680 feet of climbing in 26:32. Starting at 7650 ft. And apparently, shortly after setting this record, he went Pro and raced for the Coors Light and Subaru-Montgomery Pro teams on the road. Since then, no one has broken this record. I'm planning to.
Starting last summer, Team FITaos began putting on a few (semi) official hill climb time trials each summer, and yesterday was the first of this year...
Last summer, I had hoped to break the record, but hadn't been able to. The closest I came was just under 29 minutes (2.5 minutes off of the record). I admit that I never really trained for the climb and focused on real races instead, but I raced 2 of them and tried during those 2 to come as close as possible.
This was me racing last year (I don't have any from this year yet)
This year, things will be different. I still plan to focus MUCH more on my real races, but I am determined to break the record and believe I can. Yesterday, I finished the climb in 28:01 (1.5 minutes off the record) which was almost a full minute faster than my best last year. It is also early season and I plan to get faster. So, cheer me on and if you have any extra road componentry lying around, send them to me so that my bike will be lighter and I won't have to work as hard!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Getting some Free Time Back

Often in the life of a professional cyclist, particularly on the mountain bike racing side of the sport, we have to juggle family, training, work, and whatever else is thrown our way. Resulting in limited free time to do anything other than sleep and eat. The past couple of days have been like that. With the training hours jumping up in intensity and volume to prepare for my next big string of racing the time has dwindled. Since my last post I have done some great rides covering lots of miles and exploring some new places to ride. Here are some photos from these ventures.

This is from the "top" of Heil Ranch overlooking the canyon that leads in Lyons, CO. Pretty sweet view! and well worth the technical climb to get there.

Here I am attempting to take a photo from the top of the climb of myself. Pretty hard when you are trying to get the background in a bit too with a cell phone camera! Notice the green. CO won't look like this for much longer, sadly!


My ride today was an epic adventure from my house in Longmont, CO to Left Hand Canyon via a few dirt back roads that are much more enjoyable to ride on the knobbies than the paved ones. Up Left Hand with a brutal head wind and then following the Switzerland Trail to Gold Hill. Down Sunshine Canyon to Rowena Rd (which turns into a crazy road!) Into Lefthand and home. 65 miles all in all, what a blast! Here is some of the singletrack I found that definitely is typical Colorado meadow singletrack, (sadly it ends at a private property fence about 2 minutes past this):
Cheers and happy riding as summer is coming quicker than ever!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rest Weekin'

I finally got a rest week after a few weeks of hard riding and racing. It has been great, but I find that I frequently start feeling a bit sick whenever a rest week rolls around. I have yet to figure out why exactly this is, but my guess is that it is because during non-rest weeks I push myself HARD and fight off any potential sicknesses, so when a rest week comes around, I'm pretty shot and my body doesn't have the energy to fight off any more sickness.
I admit that it hasn't helped that I am just getting settled here in Taos (I'm working and just moved into a nice little house and am getting settled). Nor did it help that Victoria came down with pretty severe flu symptoms (no vomiting, but fever and aches) the night before last and we had to take her to the ER because she had been exposed to H1N1 (Swine Flu). Fortunately, she DOES NOT have H1N1, but I am still hoping to keep from catching her sickness.
I also have not been getting enough sleep because it seems like I have too many things to do and not enough time to do them, but I'm working on that, and took today off (instead of doing a 2 hour endurance ride) to fight of a minor sore throat. Fortunately, I'm feeling better and think that I should be good to go when the training time and intensity increases next week.
Just a short update, but overall, things are going well.
Eat well, sleep LOTS, and take care of yourself...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Best Training Ride of the Year!

Since Macky gets all the fun posts I think I will have to one up a little bit with my training ride from yesterday.

Here was the plan: 3.5 hours, 3 by 15 minute Climbing Repeat Intervals with a 15 second attack every 2 minutes, 10 minutes recovery between each interval.

Here's the best part: I started the ride at the Left Hand Valley Trailhead about half way between Boulder and Longmont. Cruised into Boulder on some fast and flowy singletrack and then followed the Foot Hills Trail around till I ran out of trail/bike path. Eventually I wandered over to 9th street until I got to Mapleton Avenue. Mapleton Avenue, if you head west starts the long climb up Sunshine Canyon to Gold Hill. Intervals GO!!!!! As I hammered up the climb, suffering every step of the way I kept hoping for some cold breezes. This was one of the hottest days I have had in 2009 in CO and man did my body show it. I was taking endurolytes and endurance aminos like there was no tomorrow the whole ride. Sunshine Canyon is paved for about half of it but then it becomes a dirt road into Gold Hill. The road had just been graveled over after the winter damage so it was pretty tough to get up, at least for a dirt road on a mountain bike. After I reached Gold Hill, a common stop for Boulder Cyclists, I kept heading west to Switzerland Trail. After a fast and scary descent I hopped on some of the switzerland trail singletrack and then kept cruising along the narrow jeep road. Switzerland Trail eventually has a point where there is a sign saying that it is a dead end, this is a lie, but for anyone on an ATV of any sort this is true. Here is where it gets good. Switzerland Trail used to be the route where they would transport goods between Ward and Gold Hill, two old mining communities, so it is a very narrow rough road cut of the side of the mountain overlooking Left Hand Canyon. Pretty awesome. THEN a MOOSE!!!! The moose was just chilling and then started to trot down the trail the way I was heading. Game On moose, I'm going to get you! Actually I failed the moose got through the rocks faster than I could and was able to get up the only hike a bike section back to the road much faster than I was able to, unfortunately. Initially when I had planned out my ride I was going to then head up and ride the South Sourdough trail from Brainard Lake towards the CU research station. Unfortunately I was running out of time and the amount of snow on the side of Switzerland Trail made me think twice about trying a trail with more shade and at a higher elevation than Switzerland. Maybe in another week I will be able to get up there. So the rest of the ride was just a fast descent down Left Hand Canyon and then a quick jaun along some dirt roads back to the car.

This was definitely an awesome ride, so much fun, and super challenging with hard climbs and fun trails. I look forward to many more high country explorations this summer along these trails as they are so much more fun than the front range stuff I have been riding all winter out of necessity.

Due to me having too much fun I did not pull my camera out during this one, I wish I did though!!!

As a final note, if anyone knows of an internet program like MapMyRide.com that can do both roads and trails in order to map out mountain bike routes leave a comment with that info. This is something I would love to see as many others would to as not everyone can afford a Garmin 705!