the end

Well, this just might be the end of this blog. I have tried Tumblr in the past and didn’t get the results that I wanted. The biggest thing that I want this blog to do is list the blogs I follow by last updated. I have asked and received no replies. I am sad to say I feel like I am  selling out to the man, but sometimes being the man is a good thing.

The post I have prepared for today can be found over on the man’s site http://bentcrank.blogspot.com/

If you wish to continue to follow my ramblings, please update your links or subscribe to my post over there. I hope to see you on the other side.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A surprise encounter with an old friend

With baseball practice cancelled, this had Aj going to bowling. My plan was to work in some elliptical or trainer time. With a call saying that I didn’t need to pick him up, all plans were off. I went down stairs and did a quick once over with the Surly 1×1. It had been a long time since I have been on her and with all the rain we have had, I knew it was time for her to come off of the bench and get in the game.  I just hoped that every thing was working good enough and I had all the tools needed to fix most problems on the road side if needed.

The first thing I did was head toward the closest gravel I could find. My old faithful roads did not let me down. Well, they did keep it interesting with several sections flooded over. I only passed on one section because it looked kind of deep. I am sure I could have road it, but with another option right there, I just went the longer route. It also didn’t take me long to remember that riding 42×20 gear on some of those climbs can really hurt. I cleaned all but one. I was disappointed by having to get off, but I made up with it by climbing the next one that I usually have trouble cleaning. The wind was brutal in some sections and even worse when I was climbing a steep hill into the wind.

It was not a huge ride, but hurt none the less. Between the wind and the climbing, it was a good workout and still made it home before dark. I tried to push the hills to work on my climbing at speed. Sometimes it seemed to work and others it didn’t. It felt colder outside than the thermometer said it was. The wind was on the cool side. I probably over dressed to be safe, but overall it was just about right. I was cold at times and warm  others. I was drenched when I got home which is not the best, but it does help with trying to loose weight. It was just great to get outside and ride on a day that I figured I would be training indoors or end up not training at all. I know the rest of the week will be hard to get out if the weather cooperates and this weekend we will be indoors. I hope to get a work out in or so, but I am not holding my breath. I just hope the weather works out that I can get a ride in on Monday.

Posted in Bikes, Gravel | Leave a comment

Some Friday night fun

I received a notice that there was a group of guys riding on Friday after work. There was a few things that were going on, but with the weather and schedule for the weekend, I knew I needed to attend. Plans were made to cover everything and my time slot was figured out. I packed up my gear before work hoping the weather was as good as it was supposed to be as I didn’t really pack much stuff if it ended up on the cooler side. I was not sure how well I would ride. I had not been on a bike since the Death March and only limited indoor exercise. My legs were sluggish most of the week and I did not get enough sleep as the week went on. I felt like my blood pressure was high all week and was not feeling the best. I ended up eating too much on Friday at lunch and it didn’t help how I was feeling. Still, I loaded up and showed up early to the meeting area. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not, since I easily could have taken a nap before everyone got there.

Once everyone showed up, it did not take long to head out. Soon enough the pace was running on the quick side. I didn’t feel too bad at this point, but that was before the first climb. Once we hit the first climb the heart rate ran on the high side and I was feeling the power fading. I fell off the back over the next couple of climbs, but they were nice and held up and waited for me to get back on. There was a stretch of time that I was really struggling just to stay in the pace line. I am supposed to be recovering while sitting in line, but it was everything I had to stay there. I was really not shocked when I looked down and saw we were sustaining around 24 mph. It was just too early in the ride for me to be doing this. Anytime the road went up, I was spit out the back quicker than a week old piece of gum. I was thinking about telling everyone to go ahead. I was just not feeling it and didn’t want to hold them up anymore, but the time never really worked out that I could tell them.

I was trying hard to get myself calmed down and recover as quickly as possible. I was really wishing I had remembered to put on my heart rate strap. I would have liked to known where I was during the sections I was struggling. I don’t know if it would have helped me bring it down, but I might have held back sooner and not ended up where I was. As I kept chugging on, I finally started to feel a little better and could hold the wheel in front of me. This helped me get myself under control and start to feel better. I was still not climbing as fast as I would like, but did much better on some of the hills.

Somewhere in this time I started to come around even more. I was even ready to take my turn up front, but then a good sized hill came along and messed up that thought. Even though I was feeling better, I was not real happy when I figured out where we were, but then turned the wrong way. I was so ready to head back toward the car, but we went the opposite way and farther away. I was reminded that there was only one more real hill and I should be fine. There was some traffic when we hit the hill, so we stayed in a pace line while climbing. It kept the group together and everyone else climbing slower and I could keep up. We then had a little break waiting to cross the highway.

This was just enough to help me get ready for the last leg of the ride home. After we crossed, I was in a good place to take over at the front and finally put in some help. I really don’t like not doing my share at the front, but sometimes you have to do what is needed to hang. I was really feeling good at this point and put in a real good pull. Way better than what I figured I could have done after the way the ride started. I pulled longer than I should have and tore my legs up, but I felt like I owed everyone that much. I just hoped I didn’t go too far and not be able to grab the last wheel. I jumped on and held on the best I could, but it was hurting again. The legs loosened back up and thing were rolling better.

As we started getting back in to town, the pace tends to slow with the different intersections. This also is good for my legs to rest. I guess it was good enough that when we hit the climb toward the end that everyone tries to get some king of the mountain points on, I was feeling ready to give it a go. I was in great position and tried to be the first to jump. I had everyone by surprise and was thinking I might have a chance. Well, I guess I surprised my pedal too as it decided to un-clip. When this happened it blew all the element of surprise away and others jumped too. I clipped in as fast as I could and jumped, but I was already behind. I made up some ground, but not enough to roll over the top first.

I was not expecting to be up there first at all, hell I was not even sure I would still be in the group by then. I am very happy with how the ride turned out, but not happy at all at how it started. I need to figure out how to warm up faster if I am going to have any chance racing XC. Maybe I am more ready for the 6 hour race series. I have some time before the races really start, but with the limited time in the schedule, I am not sure where I will be when the time comes.

There was 6 of us that headed out for the ride. It was great riding in a big group. It is so much more fun riding with friends. We ended up with around 34 miles and had an rolling average of 19.4. Not too bad overall, but if I would have been stronger at the start, I am sure the average would have been higher. Thanks to all the guys for waiting on me at the beginning of the ride. I would have never ended up with such a good ride if I would have pealed off the back. I hope you can keep waiting on me as I continue to get stronger and maybe I can continue to keep up as the weather get’s better.

Posted in Bikes, Road Biking | Leave a comment

Here we go again

I am really starting to dislike this time of year. The weather keeps teasing that winter is over then slaps another cold spell on us. Then add the overlap of winter events and summer events to keep it interesting.

Then we try to get our kids to their correct meetings or practices. There ends up with a lot of conflicts and at times more than two. Be it scouts, soccer, bowling, religion or baseball. This leaves not near enough time to be getting the riding in that I need or any way to relieve the stress of all the schedule conflicts.

Free days are hard to work in and most of the time the weather sucks on those days. If there is real nice weather, I usually have one or two places I need to be. The neighbors start to get their yard looking good. Mine not so much. Right now I am just happy to have had time to get the lights off of the house from Christmas. Our tree is still in the stand, but sitting outside on the deck.

I am not happy with my winter training, but I do feel like I am ahead of the last several years. I just need to find some creative ways to work in some good training and even step it up a notch before the race schedule comes in full force. I hope to have enough desire to make me find that extra little time and continue to improve.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

2013 Death March

As most of you know, last weekend was the Sub 9 Death March. If you were not there, then you missed out on another great event put on by Sub 9. I would not have asked for better weather. With the way the weather keeps changing, it could have been a whole lot worse. I headed up Friday to get signed in and enjoy one of the very fine cabin on the Midwest Trail riders grounds. The last minute changes in the construction plans, had the bridge out. Everyone was worried that crossing the creek was going to be an issue. Turns out it was not the issue at all.

My teammate this year was Lyle and the plan was to hit the mandatory check points and as many others that we could get too with out digging in too deep or riding all day. I slept good in the cabin and was up plenty early. The water was boiled and the coffee actually did not taste too bad. It was not the best that I have ever had, but it was drinkable. I even had some more. The stove was put in to double duty as the neighbors 2 cabins down needed some water boiled. I was more than happy to help them out.

Choosing what to wear was not as easy of a task as I would have liked. It was supposed to be fairly cool when we start, but warm up as the day went on. The warmest part of the day was not going to be until we planned on being back or close to it. The previous day was warmer than what it was supposed to be, so I was not sure just how warm the day would be. I took a chance and went with it. Overall I was very happy with my choice. I was cool at times and hot at others, but overall it was just about right.

Great weather to enjoy a day on the bike

We had a plan that we were going to stick with no matter if it was the best route or not. The extra check points went along with our plan with out going too far out of the way. We went different route than the masses, but we were not the only ones. We decided to skip the creek and head up trail 80. That climb was a good warm up. We cruised down the trail faster than the time we scouted it and soon enough we were on the road heading toward the first check point.

Next we were going to head toward Callahan. I was riding strong and had to keep telling myself to slow down and pace myself. I was happy with myself when I cleaned the switch back climb on trail 15. We ran in a friend who’s partner had some back luck with his chain. Having the right tools I agreed to help him out. It did not go as smooth as it should have. It took a little longer than I would have liked, but he was on his way rolling again and so were we. A quick stop at the check point and we kept moving on.

Nothing like turning the corner to have a road covered in snow

This was our virtual half way point

Next we made our way toward Elkinsville with a few stops on the way. That was a bit of a haul out Combs road with it being wet and soft in areas, but it was actually not as wet as I thought it would be. From there we were going to head back on part of Nebo and over to Berry Ridge rd. It was nice and down hill for a while once we hit the road. We did a little out and back to pick up two more check points. After looking at the map, I think we should have picked up Thomson while we were there too, but the thought was there was a good sized hill. The map has it on the other side of the check point. Oh well. If we would have gone that way, we might have missed the best stop of the day. Jonathan and Charles were on the corner passing out goodies. I had to enjoy myself a beer to get me the rest of the way back home.

We tried not to spend too much time there and headed down the road. It was a longer road than what I was thinking. Maybe it was just because it was late in the day. Eventually we rolled across the bridge and was getting closer to the car. We picked up Robertson and kept rolling. At this point I think we were both ready to be back at the car and all we could do is just keep moving. We didn’t stop at the fire tower. I figured it would be that much harder to leave again. After what seemed like hours, we finally rolled around the corner to see the turn in for Todd. After a quick stop and a short scare that we might have to push a stuck car, we were rolling toward 446. It felt great to roll up to 446. At this point I was pedaling harder and had to keep slowing up to wait on Lyle. I have a hard time keeping my pace when I can smell the car. All I wanted to do was get off the bike.

The correct cemetery. Several Teams stopped at the wrong Hillenburg.

We made the trip over to pick up the correct Hillenburg-Stephenson check point. We did it as an out an back and did not worry about the other two check points that would have included more climbing. Soon enough we were back on 446 and we could see a couple of teams heading up the hill. I would have to guess that they realized they had the wrong check point and going to get the correct one. There were a few teams that did that. It is very important to do your homework for events like this. It was easy to think that was the correct one and maybe we would have done the same if we didn’t scout that area out first.

I think Lyle would have been just fine taking the right and heading toward the MTR parking lot, but I stayed just ahead of him and rolled toward Mitchell. I figured we were there and it was not that far down the road. I do not know what pushed me to go for another one, but I am glad I did. It was not very far, and not much climbing. Soon after we were getting our feet wet crossing the creek and excited to be done. Races/rides like this one are a blast and I can’t wait to do it again, but after a good day on the bike, I am just ready to get off and take a break. I was starving, so after a quick change we headed over to get some food. The Qdoba bar was picked over, but there was enough stuff left to get plenty to eat.

I turned our pictures in and checked the door prizes. We both won a big jug of Heed and a Dirt Rag water bottle. I guess now I can try that stuff out and see if I like it. If not, I know a few people that would be interested. As the results are in, we ended up just fine. The route we took put us right at 56 miles. We did it in 6:54 total time with more like 5:35 actual ride time and picked up 12 check points. When they do all the math, we ended up in 41st place for the Men’s division and 57th place overall. With out the chain fixing, I think it would have only put us up a couple of places, so not really a big game changer to not help someone out.

I want to thanks Sub 9 and all the volunteers for working so hard to put on another great event!! Thanks to the Midwest Trail Ride for letting us invade your place for the weekend. Thanks to all the companies who sponsored this event! Your support is greatly appreciated  I am looking forward to the Gravel Grovel.

Posted in Bikes, Gravel, Racing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gravel goodness

The temps have dropped again this week, but they didn’t drop enough to make everything frozen. Top that with some rain earlier in the week, and you are left with some very soft trails. The only option was to hit the road or some gravel. After a little twisting of my arm by Dean to ride, I loaded up my gear and headed out to enjoy some gravel. It was hard to be motivated to head out when the highs were supposed to be 35 degrees. It was snowing on and off over the last two days.

Next weekend is the Death March. I need to ride as much as I can before than, so it was not as hard to walk out the door. I have swapped the 3×9 set up for a 2×9 set up. There was too much slack in the chain for my liking and I really didn’t need the 44t chain ring. Maybe if I was running cross tires or something, but this is a mtb and not a cross bike. I didn’t want to loose all of my upper gearing by going back to the 32t. I also was not liking how little the 22t cog seemed. So, I decided to try my luck with a 24-36 combo. It did not go on the bike as easy as I thought it would, but eventually worked. I needed to get out and give it a good test before I ever think about riding it for 60-75 miles.

We decided to head out on the longer version of the loop. It didn’t end up as long as I figured it would, but we didn’t take the last few miles the way I was thinking. Overall the ride was great. The gravel roads were in great shape and not nearly as wet as I thought they might be. The one fire lane section we needed to take had a few spots that were softer than I would have liked. I have some small tread on the tires since I will be riding road/gravel. That section and a few soft road sections were the only places that were messy. The bike ended up dirtier than I had hoped it would, but I got over it. As usual for the Ferdinand area, there was a good bit of climbing to be had too.

It was a cold ride in some sections. The scenery made it even better than it could have been. There was snow on and off for the whole ride. We ended up putting in a good 17 miles and climbed a little over 1,500 ft. of elevation. The bike rode well and I think the gearing just might work for me. That is until I can get a 1×10 or 1×11 set up, but that might have to wait until next year. I also had the joys of washing the bike off while it was snowing on me. Not something I do very often. I even had to let the bike sit in the garage a little while for the mud to thaw out enough that I could get it to wash off.

Thankfully the Pro Gold extreme had the chain rolling good for the ride. But, now I will have to take a few things apart and really clean it up to get things rolling good for the weekend. I will try out some Pro Gold bike wash to try and really make it look good. If I am not fast at least I will look good doing it. I have also heard that the bridge is out for the start/finish area. This is going to make it hard to get the car close to the cabin. The Outback has a little more clearance than cars, but not sure I will want to try and cross the creek. I will have to see how steep the banks are before I will make that decision. If I don’t, I will either be walking a bit or trying to thumb a ride on someones truck. Maybe I will see you there!!

Posted in Bikes, Gravel | Leave a comment

More Road riding

Even though I should have been out scouting and training for the Death March, I kept it close to home and put in a nice road ride. At least my teammate was out double checking some check points and letting me know that my plan of attack was a stupid idea. I guess better him to find out than me. That just means that we no longer have a plan of attack, but to just pick something and run with it. I still have options rolling around in my head, but before a true final decision can be made, it will have to wait until we here what the final two check points will be.

I did think about joining him for another good gravel ride, but my bike was still a mess from last weekends gravel fun. I could have (I actually did) cleaned the mtb on Saturday and had it ready for Sunday. That would have worked, but I also have some changes I would like to make to the bike. After the last ride I was already not happy with my gears. So, I am replacing the 3 rings up front with a double ring and a bash guard. I will be running 36, 24 up front with the 9 in the back that I had. I hope this selection will still give me the options that I am looking for, but with a shorter chain for less slap.

I am still tossing the idea around about using my rigid fork, but I really would hate to take off the King headset just because it is not playing well with my aluminum steer tube on the fork. I will just have to deal with it and go on.

I did get a new toy since my last ride. I am looking forward to seeing if it can make a difference for me or not. I rode well yesterday, but I don’t know if the toy had anything to do with it. What I picked up was a heart rate strap to use with the Garmin Edge 500. I normally have not messed with using a heart rate monitor much at all. I did years ago, but then I was less serious and didn’t want to mess with putting on the strap. I do understand training in different zones, but the main reason I got one is to see where I am while riding. I know if my heart rate gets too high for too long, I really tank it and it takes way too long to recover. The plan is to keep an eye out on the numbers and adjust my effort accordingly.

Sunday’s weather changed by the morning. It was no longer going to get up in to the 50’s. It looks like 45 degree was the high. This was still alright with me since the sun was going to be out, but not was warm as I had hoped it would be. I made some last minute changes in my wardrobe and off I was to the meeting place. When I got there the Garmin still needed set up to accept the heart rate signal. That did not take too long, but what I didn’t expect was my warm long sleeve jersey to have a wardrobe malfunction and refuse to zip up. Not wanting the front to be unzipped all day, I made another change in the planned gear choice and tried to get ready as fast as possible. I was ready, but still setting the Garmin. It was noticed that everyone was waiting on me, so I stopped messing with it and off we were.

There was a good group of riders as 7 of use started the ride. I was happy to see a fixie join the group. I was wondering how this would work with the group, but if he was who I thought. I had heard he could ride well enough to not be a problem and he was not at all. There was a little yo-yo ing for him when we had the hills, but he could jump right back in and roll with everyone.

The pace was a little slower than I expected from this group, but it was not what I would call slow. I figured after a little warm up, the speed would increase. I think it actually did, but it was not as noticeable as I thought. A few gaps were created on some hills that required some rejoining, but the group still rolled together nicely.

At a decision intersection, 3 of the guys decided to head back toward the cars and the other 4 decided to tackle some more hills and go longer. I was on the fence for what way I wanted to go and who was going, but asking one rider if we would wait for me on the hills, we both decided to go the long route. I tried to climb as fast as I could. At times not nearly as fast as I want, but other times not too bad. A little after the Duff hills, one rider decided to drop back and told us to go on. This lasted for a few miles and a second rider said he was going to do the same.

So, it cam down to Kurt, the guy I asked to wait for me and myself. I was feeling tired and we were heading in to a head wind, but after everyone else was gone, I could not back off. I had to see what was left. We both were pulling slower, but still moving at a good pace for this late in the day. With the group that started, I never imagined being in the last group with that many other riders backing off. If anything, I figure I would have been one of the guys holding everyone up.

I have been trying to figure out why I was riding as good as I was. I can not really put a finger on it and may never be able to. I think was was better rested than my last ride. We also did not go as hard as some of the previous rides even if it was not that much slower. Maybe the training is starting to pay off and the legs are actually a little stronger. I also had my heart rate that I monitored for the ride. I would like to think it had some effect on the ride, but I am not sure how much.

If I take the old rule of thumb and do the 220 math, It says my max heart rate should be 179. I really don’t know if this is true or not, but it does make sense with what I was seeing.  I determined that once I hit 168 or higher, I could not stay there long and had to back off. The longer I was there, the slower I would pull and the worse I felt. Once the heart rate settled back down to the lower 160’s or even in the 150’s, I was back to feeling strong. I really don’t know if those are good numbers to have or not, but right now they are the only numbers I have to work with. I am going to continue monitoring that and see how the rides go. Hopefully I can either go harder with a lesser heart rate or increase my number that I have to worry about before backing off.

Two weeks till the Death March and then a few weeks till the next race after that. I hope to keep getting stronger and lighter as the time goes.

Posted in Bikes, Road Biking | Leave a comment