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


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: