Archive for February 2011
This weekend was very productive. I had no idea how I’d feel going into Worlds. Would I still feel some residual fatigue in my legs from the voluminous NM training camp? Superficially, I have to admit I felt pretty good going into the weekend. I took Monday through Wednesday completely off the bike. Got a massage on Wednesday. Then spun it nice and easy on the trainer before work Thursday and Friday. A good solid rest week for sure.
Thankfully, I was fairly refreshed when I got on my bike at 7:45am Saturday morning to head down to Bang. We had a pretty good turnout at the Bucks, with about a dozen or so guys ready to head down to the start of Worlds. We were smacked with wind as we made our way down to Deer Creek. It was really howling. After having dealt with 4 days of monster wind in New Mexico, I felt right at home. We met up with everyone by 10 at the mouth of Deer Creek and we rolled out into a strong head/cross wind. Nick was there, so I knew he’d animate the race with some suicidal attacks into the wind. Sure enough, he made a bunch of moves into the wind, but nothing stuck. I surged a bunch with some of the moves in order to keep my position and try to stay out of the wind. I think I did a pretty good job of staying hidden in the bunch. As we made our way towards the climb, I found myself in good position on that long stretch of uphill before Roxborough. I was sort of on the front, on the left side as we climbed up and up before the downhill into Roxborough. I was in a really good rhythm, pushing around 300 rather comfortably. I felt so locked in, I made no attempt to get off the front and out of the wind. I just went with it. Hindsight, this might have been a bad idea, but it felt right at the time.
I recovered as best I could on the downhill into the right turn onto the climb. For the first time this year, a car was attempting to hit the climb at the same time we were. It honked, noticeably frustrated with seeing 15 or so spandex clad guys hammering cross-eyed with their tongues out. However, this was no time to be courteous, this was all out war. I made it to the bottom of the climb in the front group with Nick, Hanna, and a couple others ahead of me killing it. All of the sudden, Lance (the Nelson) came by me. What a bastard. That’s not supposed to happen. He’s a super fit strong man, not a little climber. All I could do was struggle the rest of the way up. I think I got 6th or something. It was difficult to tell because a car was trying to make its way through the finish while we were. In any case, it was a great finish.
Inevitably, I was blown out the back halfway through the race back to Chatfield. This is a weakness. I find that I have only 4 or 5 good surges in my legs after all the effort I make on the first half of the race up the climb. So I use them up keeping my position on the big rollers coming back to Chatfield. After those rollers we make a right turn and it’s there where I really struggle to stay with the bunch. If I can manage to hang on after the surge coming out of the turn, I usually get popped when we make the left onto the road going into the park. I’ve only been able to hang the entire time back once this whole year. I realize that if I didn’t try at all on the way out to Roxborough, hanging onto the bunch to Chatfield wouldn’t be a problem. But I’m not going to do that. I need to be able to do both at full speed. I need to improve this weakness.
After regrouping at the base of Deer Creek, a bunch of us decided to climb High Grade. This was difficult. We battled a headwind basically the entire 11 miles up Deer Creek. Ouch. Regardless, Jordo and Bachik killed it on upper part of High Grade. We decided to just turn around at the top and head down the way we came. The descent was super fast thanks to the tailwind. I don’t think I’ve ever had to break so much coming down High Grade like that. We backtracked our way up to Denver and Bachick, Cameron, and I hit up a really awesome sandwich shop on 6th ave. called Mr. Lucky’s Sandwiches. Soooo good.
Saturday finally ended up being 6 hours and 102 miles. I realized after going through the data last night that I set several new records. First, I set a new KJ record at 3,543 total KJs, and for the first time ever I did 700 KJs per hour. I also set a new TSS record at 336. Additionally, I set new average power records from 1 hour 45 minutes all the way out to 4 hours. I did 202 watts for an hour 45 minutes and 184 watts for 4 hours. It’s always nice setting new power records, even though these are long term averages. It means I did a lot of work out in the wind for a very long time. Which explains the high TSS and KJs.
In other news, Bailey showed the world how much of a beast he is by getting 2nd overall at the Callville Bay Classic stage race out in Nevada. How’d he get 2nd overall after 4 days of racing against Cat 2′s? Well, he won the 80 mile road race stage yesterday. In typical hardman Bailey style, he solo’d the last 15 miles for the victory. He finished around a minute ahead of the field. Sick. This was after he got 6th in the TT the day before. That all equals a solid 2nd overall finish in the race. Great work Brian! We are all super pumped for you.
Now that I’ve had time to unwind a bit and let my legs settle down, I’m ready to write a little synopsis of training camp in New Mexico. Last Wednesday, Joe Pa, Nick Cressey, and I headed down to Santa Fe for the start of a 4 day camp. The plan was to ride two days in Santa Fe and two days in Taos. We would eat, ride, eat some more, then sleep.
My initial thought about going down to New Mexico when Joe first mentioned it was, “the climate isn’t any different down there than it is here.” I double checked the weather data and sure enough, their average temps down there are nearly identical to ours. Despite the similar dry climate, Joe’s idea made a lot of sense. During winter training here around Denver, we generally ride the same routes over and over again. In order to inject some variety and experience a nice change of scenery, we’d go down to NM and explore their best rides. And that was it. I was sold.
New Mexico here we come.
The drive down to Santa Fe went super quick. We were amped to get down there and put some work in. We had a celebratory dinner on the first night and toasted to better fitness. The following day we rode a popular route called the Santa Fe century. The winds were howling outside from the very start of the ride. Good. More Gila preparation for me. Nick also provided some Gila preparation by attacking us early and often. If there was a headwind, Nick would surge into it. If there was a crosswind, Nick would put in a massive surge that would put me on the rivet. From mile marker 3 to mile marker 101, we surged over and over into the wind. I know I was not the only one to notice these efforts. Even Joe called the first day “race simulation” when entering the data into his WKO software. It was probably the best race prep I’ve had all year. (Despite the fact that I won’t ever do a 100 mile road race). With the high pace and constant attacks, we were able to pull the Fred-tastic 100 miles in 5 hours goal. I felt really great the whole day. My legs had endless amounts of pop in them and I had the mental strength to dig deep 1,000 times to go with the surges. All in all it was a successful first day.
Day 2: On day two, we had to check out of our hotel in Santa Fe and drive 15 minutes up to Espanola to start our route. This day was going to be a few less miles, but many more feet of climbing. We did sort of an out and back with a loop in between the start and finish. There was one major climb in the middle that we’d hit from both sides and would take us over 9,000 feet in elevation. I had really bad legs this day. I’m not sure what the deal was. I ate well (Joe would disagree with that) the day before, I napped for 25 minutes after the first day’s ride, and slept okay the night before. Something just didn’t click and my legs hurt like hell. I could immediately tell it wasn’t going to be a great day when going with the early morning surges was becoming nearly impossible. By the time we got to the main climb I was struggling to stay in zone 3. I managed to limp my way up the climb finally, but was disappointed that I didn’t have the ability to really go after it like I’d wanted to. We continued onward after regrouping at the top and somewhere along the line I lost those two again. I decided to go my own pace and do what I could. I worked on staying upright in the wind and dealing with fatigued legs. (something that would come in handy the following day).
On the way back to the car, we found ourselves descending on a freeway really fast. I looked down and saw 45, 46, 47 miles an hour. All of the sudden, my rear wheel started fishtailing like crazy. It felt like a flat. It also felt like sheer terror. I was doing nearly 50 mph in the middle of a highway fishtailing out of control on what I thought was a flat rear tire. As I attempted to slow down, I thought to myself, “If I fall, I’ve got to fall to the right – away from the left lane and towards the shoulder. If I crash over the yellow line, I’m going to go into oncoming traffic and die.” I somehow managed to slow myself, stay upright, and get over to the shoulder. I was still wildly bouncing up and down and side to side by the time I came to a complete stop. I hopped off my bike and felt my back tire. No flat. What the… No flat? How is that possible? What just happened? I didn’t know, but what I did know was that I did not want to stand there in the shoulder for too long. I jumped back on my bike and went much slower back down the descent. Joe ended up getting scared when he looked behind and suddenly I wasn’t there. He waited up for me and we both rode the tailwind back to the car. Oddly enough, upon getting the bikes in the car and beginning our drive up to Taos, Nick noticed that I did indeed have a flat rear tire. I guess my tire was nice enough to wait until after the ride to go flat on me. We did 92 miles and around 9,000 feet of climbing that day. *My Garmin says we did 8,000 feet of climbing. Joe’s Garmin says 8,500 feet. The Training Peaks software says 9,900. Therefore, I say we did around 9,000 feet.*
After checking into our hotel in Taos, we hit up and amazing Mexican food place in a hotel up the street. We got an incredible amount of food for super cheap. I thought for sure all this food would give me a stomach ache and a great ride the next day. Wrong.
Day 3: Terrible. Night. Sleep. I barely slept a wink the whole night before day three. I started the Taos century with horribly tired legs. Fortunately, this day would prove to be the most scenic of the whole trip. The views on this day were gorgeous and enough to keep me motivated and pressing forward. At around the 44 mile mark, I let Joe and Nick go to ride my own pace the rest of the route. I just didn’t have it in me to climb hard or go with the surges anymore. I did however climb probably the coolest climb I’ve done in my life. It was a really narrow road with no yellow line on it. The grade was mild for much of it, but shot up to 12 and 15% at a few points. It even topped out at 9,500 feet of elevation at the end. It was the cherry on top of a beautiful route. I kinda got lost on my way back to the hotel and went the wrong direction into town. That put me over 108 miles on the day with around 8,000 feet of climbing. Not too shabby considering I pushed through tremendous fatigue the whole day.
Day 4: I slept much better going into day four, however I still wasn’t sure how I’d feel this final day. The route planned was a loop involving US Hill. It would be 60 miles and around 5,000 feet of climbing. As soon as I got on the bike, my legs felt better than they had since day one. We braved the cold and wet on the ride out to US Hill. Once again it was a vicious headwind on our way out. At mile 22, we turned left onto the climb. After making a few efforts on the way out and feeling the climb roll underneath me after the left turn, I knew it was time to jump ship, turn around, and ride the tailwind home. At mile marker 24, I turned around and rode the tailwind back to the hotel. I felt okay. Sort of a false sense of good legs because of the tailwind. I was happy to clock 50 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing to cap off the trip. I sipped bad coffee and watched the news for 25 minutes as I waited for Joe and Nick to return.
Overall the trip was a success. I only wish I knew then what I know now about day one. I ended up digging myself into a hole on day one that I was never able to recover from (literally). Maybe I didn’t eat enough after that first day. Maybe I didn’t sleep well enough on the subsequent nights. Whatever it was, it did not allow me to fully go after the climbs the rest of the trip. If I had to do it over again, would I sacrifice decent days two through four for a great day one? Probably not. But I’m glad I had a great day one.
Trip totals: 4 days. 350 miles. 19.5 hours ride time. Around 25,000 feet climbed. 1 near death experience.
How come the night before Worlds, two things inevitably happen? 1. I eat too much and 2. I sleep very little. The eating I can explain. We normally go over a friend’s house to eat lots or friends come here and we eats lots. Okay, that makes sense. The sleeping thing not so much. I think it’s a combination of excitement for Worlds, going over different race scenarios in my head, and knowing that I’ve got to get up early. Those three things are a deadly combination for a good night’s sleep.
In any case, I woke this morning with way too little sleep under my belt. Enter espresso maker, stage right. It was 6:30am and already 40 degrees outside, so at least that was promising. I watched the first half of the Manchester derby and left knowing that Man U was up 1-0. (I watched the second half of the game when I got home and caught this wonder strike). Fast forward to the start of Worlds. It took around 3 minutes before the attacks started flying. It was the usual suspects. I had the misfortune of going with nearly every break. And none of them stuck. I must have burned a good 6 matches going with attacks that fizzled out. Hanna made a good point about it. He said that there was a lot of parity out there today. Lots of really decent riders willing to close the gaps and bring back all the moves. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the climb before the final climb, I was pretty cooked. I had already used my matchbook and had nothing but smoldering embers left. It was just pure pain for the last 10 minutes. Turning into the final climb meant I only had a minute or so of pain left. But before I could even process that thought, Bailey flew by me. What the…. Last I saw him, he was trying to recover from one of his monster pulls into the wind. He looked finished. I should have known better. Dude is a beast. Jordo and I found each other side by side on the way up. (A prelude to the action that would come later). He was half-panting and I was sort of drooling all over myself while seeing cross-eyed. It was neck and neck but I think I eeked out 7th by the top. Not too bad. Hanna locked up his second W in a row. Joe Pa looked strong as well and came in 4th I believe.
With all the snow and ice on and around Chatfield, no one wanted to chance it so we turned around and went back the way we came. I tried to rebuild my matchbook on the ride back to Deer Creek.
We took Willow Springs back to Morrison per the usual, but this time, it was an adventure as we rode over ice and snow. It was nasty. I actually tipped over at one point. From Morrison we all decided to climb our way out and up to Golden. The plan was to hit the backside of Lookout, get 45 minutes climbing in, turn around and come home. The ride blew up on the climb and never came back together. When we made the left turn after climbing out of Morrison, I hit the light first and started making my way up to Mt. Vernon. I was alone for a little bit, then Jordo caught and passed me. Bailey caught me soon after and I started riding with him. I mentioned that my legs were shit. He said me too. We puttered along keeping Jordo in our sights. I did no work. When we got to one of the flatter sections, Bailey told me to stay on his wheel and he ramped up the speed. As he pulled me along, my cassette made some awful noise because I was in my little ring – 11 combo. Oops. He swung off and told me to go bridge to Jordo.
I felt compelled to do so. I had to. He did all that work, I couldn’t let it go to waste.
At first I found it nearly impossible bridging to Jordo. I tried to just up my tempo and slowly work my way to him. That was not working. Then I found more success getting out of the saddle and giving it a few big time efforts. It took 3 big efforts to get there. I got there. Jordo looked back and saw me. Instead of slowing down for a chat, he glared. His facial expression told me he was going to shake me off his wheel. I knew that was not going to happen. I wasn’t going to waste both Bailey’s and my effort like that. What ensued was an epic battle. Ok, maybe not. But it was epic in my mind. Jordo and I battled all the way to the top. He would dig in and try to drop me. I stayed. He would get out of the saddle and attack me. I followed. He would try to put me in the wind. I moved over. I stay glued to his wheel. He did all the work. I had no other strategy to employ being the weaker rider. Finally when we neared Mt. Vernon, the road turned up even steeper. It was within the final 1k. I gave it one big effort with 200 meters to go and Jordo couldn’t follow. He had done too much already.
We savored the moment at the top. It was great. Lungs searing, intermittent coughing, snot dripping, and a battle won and lost. Epic. That is what riding a bike is about.
I’m going to switch gears a little bit and talk music for this post. I don’t think I’ve even written about music yet. Crazy huh? Anyway, I was on quite the hip hop kick the last couple months due to the new Kanye West record and the mix tape that accompanies it. I got the G.O.O.D. FRIDAYS mix tape from Ben awhile back and it is very good. It has several of the same tracks that are on his new album, just different verses and artists – aka RE-MIX! So I got into the mix tape and then transitioned smoothly into his new record, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I’m not sure which record I like more. Of course the studio album is more cohesive, but the mix tape has some pretty amazing stand alone tracks and a ton of great cameos. Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Common, Lupe, Kid Cudi, and John Legend just to name a few. Plus, the version of Power on the mix tape features Jay-Z prominently, which equals awesomeness. Unlike a lot of remixes, Kanye does a great job of making his remixes nearly as good (and sometimes better) than his original tracks. In the end, I’d say it’s a wash. Get both the studio album and the mix tape.
Since coming off my hip hop kick, I’ve been on a monster pop-punk kick. I think it was seeing Chris Conley live that did it for me. That show conjured up a lot of old pop-punk feelings, plus I’ve been talking pop-punk history with Applebottom a lot lately. This translates to many listens of Saves the Day, Two Tongues, The Wonder Years, and the Saves the Day acoustic stuff. I still think STD’s Through Being Cool is a top 5 album for life.
Who is this Two Tongues you speak of Justin? Glad you asked. Two Tongues is a side project from Chris Conley and Max Bemis (of Say Anything). They’ve come out with one s/t record so far and I must admit, it’s pretty good. And “pretty good” is about as good as it gets for inter-band side projects. You can definitely hear the influence of both STD and Say Anything throughout it. They also do a good job of trading off vocals.
Another pop-punk band I’d highly recommend that I haven’t mentioned yet is Hit The Lights. Another band I really enjoy thanks to Ben. As Ben says, they’ve mastered the halftime catchy chorus. I’d start with Skip School, Start Fights and then work backwards through their discography. You will love it, unless you hate really catchy music.
Addendum: I just got the newish Cee Lo Green. Holy. Awesome. Am I now going to be on a neo-soul kick??
I’ve been on a little bit of a break the past week; ever since I pushed the limits of fatigue in my tiny little toothpick legs. By break, I don’t mean time completely off the bike, I mean a few days of full rest followed by some trainer time. I took Monday and Tuesday off and then spun zone 1 on Wednesday before starting my TEMPO intervals back up again on Thursday. My legs feel fully re-charged but my knee is throbbing at the moment. Let me explain.
Since the weather has been complete garbage here the past week, Worlds was canceled this morning. Instead, Bailey and I headed over to Jordo’s house for some group trainer time. I wanted to do 2.5 hours with a 2 x 20min, 1 x 15min TEMPO work. Unfortunately, after completing my second block of 20min at TEMPO, I hopped off my bike and grabbed a Cliff bar. I tried to jump back on quickly, as to not let my legs settle for too long. In the process of jumping back on, I swing my leg over the top tube and unknowingly, swung my knee cap straight into the corner of the basement wall. Pointy corner, meet my knee cap. OUCH.
This was painful for two distinct reasons. One, my legs were not recovered from my last 20 min effort and needed to be spun out badly. Second, my knee cap was in agonizing pain. I tried to limp around and walk it off, but that wasn’t as effective as simply sitting on the stairs holding it while it throbbed. It was a really strange pain too. Not a sharp pain, but more of a nauseating, queasy pain feeling. It’s something I’ve never felt before. I attempted to get back on my bike and spin it out, but my knee cap was having none of it. Every pedal stroke agitated it. My day was done.
On the bright side, at least it happened after my second 20min effort. Not a complete waste of a day. Hopefully I will be fully recovered for tomorrow’s trainer session at Joe’s new house. I am really looking forward to seeing his new digs and watching a flick.