Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spring time in PA.

It's been an interesting year so far.  I started out by doing almost no riding the first couple months.  A few mtb and road rides here and there, but nothing on the order of the mileage that I used to do in the winter.  I got to Southern Cross at the end of February with only about 800 miles.  I've also done the 'Just say no' when it came to the trainer.  I have found there is nothing more mind numbing than sitting on the trainer in the basement grinding away at it with the exception of maybe watching television shows like American Idol or any of the other countless reality or competition type shows.

My main activity this past winter was cross country skiing.  This year, I logged in more than 500 miles on the sticks.  My fitness level was definitely there but the main lesson learned was that it didn't translate well to the bike initially.  My running was way up there though.  By early April I was hitting a 7 minute mile average over 8 miles.  This would be decent for me if running was the main focus.  But, the bike beckoned and in late February, Southern Cross loomed large.  I'd gotten a decent start but the lack of miles played up way sooner than I'd imagined and I was having leg cramping issues as the demands I was trying to place on them proved too much for what they were ready for.  I fell way off the pace and in comparison to my 3Peaks result last September, it was an embarrassment.  Oh well, back to the drawing board. 

March was just a depressing time of the year as it was just cold gray suck here in PA.  I used to live for these kind of conditions but not being able to get outside everyday as I'd used to be able to (thanks real life).  My first road race in March was a disappointment again but it showed my leg strength was there and things were improving.  Each day when  I got on the bike, I was feeling stronger.  I came up that little bit short at the Morgantown Road Race but could tell things were going well.  Another cold rainy race in Salisbury, PA the following week built a bit more character and then it was time for the Clarksburg Criterium which also served as the West Virginia State Championships.  I had two goals at the race.  Help my teammate Ted win a state title and get one of us over the line in first place overall.  The field was a bit on the small side but we rolled out.  It was a combined field of 40+ and 50+ riders.   Within a few laps, local legend Gunnar Shogren took a flyer and got a good gap on us.  Skip Rodgers took up the challenge to chase him down and once he got clear and no one else went, I thought to myself, this looks good.  They're both strong and 50+ and if I got across, they wouldn't be sitting up.  I launched it across to Skip and we slowly drew Gunnar back.  At a point, he wisely pulled up and we linked up and it was a 3 rider group.  The riders in the pack were already thinking 'Thanks for coming folks' at that point.   Several strong laps later, we caught sight of the tail end of the field.  Now I usually feel that lapping the field just to show you can is usually an ego thing and for a moment, I was thinking 'keep the group small'.  Then I remembered, I still had a second job to do which was help my teammate get his title.  I'd already got the 40+ race in the bag so I could afford to go be the helper for Ted.  We caught with around 8 or 9 laps to go and I quickly positioned myself up with Ted and after a couple flurries of attacks from Gunnar and JR, we went into the final couple laps.  Several of the other riders were reminding me that I didn't have to sprint.  Well, that didn't mean my job was done. I pushed to get Ted up to JR in the final and gave a wind up but unfortunately, things didn't work out as planned and Ted had to brake in one of the final turns.  I hollered at him to keep pushing to the line. He did catch up to JR but that was it.  He was happy with the silver though.  It was a good race overall for us. 

Each week I've been seeing a bigger jump in my form and a couple weeks later, things came good at the Greene County road race.  After an eventful evening the day before and the following morning concerning an old relationship which saw my personal balance a bit upset, I got on  with the day.  Because of the previous days events, I'd forgotten my lightweight carbon wheels and had to make due with a set of 95 Campy Ventos with a set of training tires.  Crap!  This wasn't going to be fun.  As it turned out, those wheels climbed pretty well.  While they certainly weren't light(I gave up about 2.5lbs or more in wheel weight to most people there), they were very responsive to each push of the pedals.  I also got a good break on the downhills and flats as these wheels just keep on rolling once up to speed.  I'd made it thru to the final climb and was with the leaders and my lack of cleaning my chain caught up with me. A bad shift and a dropped chain that wrapped around the crank bad stopped me a few miles out.  I was looking at a win there for the 40+ group but now I had grimy hands and was hoping not to get caught out and lose 3rd.  In the end, I had several minutes to spare but I'm still kicking myself for that one.  Onward and upward!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


It's a new year!  Starting out the year is always easy in the PA region.  I have usually raced up into mid December and then took a break til the day after Christmas.  The last couple years the body told me to start the break at the start of December.  So I started training a few days before Christmas.  I usually have a goal of 150 hours on the bike from Dec 26th til the end of March.  I've been changing that up some and will probably get close to that but I'll have augmented the training with about 4 or 5 hours of running as well as several hours of xc skiing.  I really like the skiing but the season can be pretty unpredictable in our parts.

My main goal is to get the body down near to race weight early before starting any specialized training. The past couple years has seen my sprint disappear.  This year changes that.  Since I won't have as many issues to deal with dealing with weight and I'm now climbing as well as I ever have(and that will only get better), I can focus a bit more on being able to hit that really high end at the finish of a race.  I spent so many years as a crit rider so my sprint was the only area where I could shine in a race. Since I changed targets on my racing in these past two years, my speed has definitely been blunted.  This ends now. 

You can expect to see me in just about every discipline out there this year but the focus will be on winning, not just decent results.  The UltraCross series will be one of the targets as well as the PA BAR races.  I also look to do well in our local ABRA road race series as the crit series which I'd won the past two years has disappeared for the year since there is only 3 races.   The main target for the year though is the Dirty Kanza 200.  Despite the issues I'd had with equipment in that race, I am going back to win it.  2nd place will only piss me off. 

To augment my bike racing, I've also been doing trail running races as well as a couple triathlons to give myself a bit of variety.  The trail races have treated me fairly well and my goal is to do a 1:55 in a half this year which I don't think is out of the question for me.  The first test will be in another week.  If the weather clears up and the snow is off the course, this can be an achievable goal.  From there, I have to break my bad luck in triathlons.  My first one last year, I had a nightmare issue as I got to the venue late and had enough time to get my stuff on, walk into the water and have the gun go off for my wave.  Then a flat on the disc wheel, I'm convinced someone might have messed with it as it held fine the night before as well as the day after.  In getting all that taken care of I wasted way too much time and acted like a bike racer for the rest of the race which absolutely does not work in triathlons.  I think I annoyed a few people with my whining about it as my time was still faster than most of the people there.  My second tri was the Savageman Half.  This again, was a tough learning experience and I arrived at the start line poorly prepared.  I did race intelligently after experiencing some severe cramping in the calves halfway thru the swim.  I'd held things together til the second half of the run at which point the legs were really pissed with me.  The only thing that got me going again was several cokes.  When in doubt, go with sugar when you're having a tough time.  Probably not the best advice for others but it worked for me.   My time was 45 minutes slower than I know I can do so that commits me to returning there this year. 

So there you have it.  Aiming the guns in several different directions shouldn't prove to be a difficult thing, right?