winter time funk

I can tell by the lack of posts just how much has been going on in my bike world or should I say the amount of effort I’m putting in to my bike world. I’m not saying I have done nothing but with very little motivation to push me, I have not done near enough.

I don’t know why I get this way. I had big hopes for riding better this year. I made some big improvements last year and though that would carry the motivation through the winter. I didn’t start out too bad other than eating too much for the holiday’s. Then the body started its aching and the motivation fades. It makes me not want to do anything. All the aching and on top of that moving hurts. One of my comforts is eating and that does not help with my weight or improving any of the other issues.

I made the spring training trip to Florida but have done very little since then. I didn’t even feel like posting about the trip yet. That should say just how motivated I have been to do things. It took me weeks just to put the riding gear in the wash. I have yet to clean the bike and it really needs it. I have a lot of bike work that needs done. The only thing I actually completed was fixing the cross bike from its last ride.

I did find myself one day trying to ride the bike in the back yard. The snow was too deep and with the top layer covered in ice, it didn’t work out too well. I thought if I went back and forth over the same area it would get better and I would be able to ride it.  That didn’t really happen and eventually gave up. I did get a good work out, but not exactly what I was thinking.

I started this post several days ago and just never finished it enough to post. After passing on some great weather on Sunday way too easy as it has been, I find myself rushing out of work to get a few things done and try to get my trashed bike rolling good enough to join a 6:00 ride. I knew there were going to be a few people there and even more showed up that I thought. For a change I was feeling excited to get out on my bike. There were 16 riders that showed up.

The excitement didn’t last too long when the group took off like it was last fall. I am very aware that I have some big down falls in my riding. One of them being that if I start too hard, I am screwed. The level of too hard may very depending on how good of shape that I am in, but right now that does not take too much to reach that point. The group took off a little over 20 and my heart rate was out the roof. I might have had a chance to settle down and hang on with a group that size, but there was a long enough hill right at the start. I didn’t do too bad at first, then they all pulled away. I tried to bridge the gap, but they didn’t slow down and I just dug a deeper hole.

There ended up being 3 of us that were spit out the back. We ended up realizing that none of us were going to catch the group and just rode together. I was a good ride and we put in a nice loop. It was good to have a couple guys to ride with. If I would have been alone, I am not sure how far I would have gone. In fact I even thought about taking a left very early in the ride. I am glad that I didn’t think about that too long.

Right now I am happy that my body aches for a good reason. That is much better than the normal reasons that it hurts. I just hope that tomorrow is even more of an issue than normal. That will not be good for the motivation to try and do more. I do have a little more motivation to get back in to shape so I can hang with the big boys. The problem is that it is also not motivational to think about how much of a gap that is to try and close up. It is also not the best that as hard as it was to get out of the house, it will be that much harder to talk myself in to doing it the next time. I just have to keep thinking about how much I enjoyed riding a bike again and continue to build on that. Maybe someday the speed will come back.

Yea I know at lease one of my friends is calling me Eeyore. Maybe that is a good name for me, but I do struggle with some mental demons on some things that I just can’t seem to shake long term. I have moments that everything is all good, but there is always a shelf life on that feeling. I will just keep fighting that fight and try to make the good times out weigh the bad times. I am also working some making some changes that I hope will help with all the pain.

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Starting another year

Sorry updates have been few and far between. I have been busy and there has not been as many good things that I feel I need to put down. The end of 2014 was not too exciting. I did get a few rides in, but not near enough and I made up for that with eating way more than I should. The weight is up from where I thought I would be right now, but not too much. I am trying to keep it down, but so far all I am doing is keeping it in a holding pattern. Up a few pounds and then down a few. I just can’t keep the trend moving down, but I am not giving up. The more I can hold it now the easier it will be to start the season out in a better position than last year.

I have been working out more than normal, but not as much as I would like. I have been trying to increase that since I have my winter training camp coming up. Camp is supposed to be a kick start to the season, but I can’t just wing it. It will not be easy and the better shape I am in, the more fun it will be. I just hope the weather is what it should be.

The Misfit SS is back rolling again and will be put to use. The Fuji CX bike is almost healed up and ready for more fun. I still have some more bike work to get in, but a little at a time is better than nothing.

The race schedule for 2015 is looking like there will be a lot of chances to get in some good racing with out traveling as far as some years. That is a good thing for me since this will be the most traveling we have done so far for soccer. I just hope that there is not as much overlap as last year. Either way, I am sure it will be another busy year.

Make sure and head over to https://teamadventuresmtb.wordpress.com/ and check out the Team’s new blog page. You will find most of my posts over there, but you will also find some other good info and interesting stories. Speaking of the team, here is the current team sponsor list for this year.

Main Sponsor-
Adventures Recreation & Gear, Jasper
adventuresrecreation.com

Secondary Sponsors-

Amerifirst.com Ask for- Craig Thompson
themillhouserestaurant.com
basketcasebeer.com
uebelhortv.com
evansvillechiro.com
williamsnyderphotography.com
tricountyymca.org
sks-usa.com
honeystinger.com
elevatedlegs.com
swiftwick.com
scottstrailer.net
Klem Signs, Fulda IN
sram.com
scott-sports.com
fujibikes.com

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Gravel Grovel – so can I?

No…..

Well that would be the short answer. I am sad to say that I did not finish in under 5 hours. But, I kind of figured that no sooner than I asked the question. I really did not do myself any favors heading up to this years event. I thought I was doing the right thing, but I think I misunderstood. I keep hearing people talk about tapering for big races. I had been pretty run down from work and stuff and figured I could use a good taper to rest up. Where I think I fell short is that I didn’t taper long enough. I did ride for 3 weeks before and was still tired. Maybe I need to try 4 weeks next year.

Yes, I am quite aware that 4 weeks will not help me either, but it is probably more realistic as to what I really need to be doing. I had done a lot of things right this year to lead me up to being ready for my best time. The biggest problem was that I could not ride much at the end of the year. When the weather was prime, I was busy doing something else. Not at all good for staying in shape. I did have my bike in good condition and ready to go, so I did have that going for me or well it should have been going for me.

This year I changed to riding a cross bike. I had figured that there was a lot of places out there that I would be faster on a cross bike over the mtb. This year they decided to add more trail sections and took out a long road section to the course, so I am not sure how much benefit the cross bike gave me. Add the fact that it warmed up quicker than it was supposed to and the roads and trail were soft in a lot of places. I know there were some complaints about how muddy it was and my bike sure looked like it agreed, but I felt it was better than I would have expected.

At the start the pace was a little faster than I wanted it to be, but it didn’t feel too bad. We were going faster, but I didn’t feel like I was putting in too much extra effort to stay there. I did back off some after a little bit and shortly after we hit the first climb. I didn’t seem to climb too bad, but I could tell the legs were not going to be as strong as I had hoped. I tried to maintain as strong of pace as I could, but who I was hoping on spending the day with had pulled away and were no longer in sight. I had to ride with who ever was around. No one seemed to last very long. We would ride together for a little bit, but sooner or later one of us would pull away.

photo credit to Kiersta

There were several climbs that made me wish I had more gears to choose from. I don’t know how much difference more gears would have made, but I do know that I would have used them. I knew how big some of those climbs were, but for some reason I keep thinking that they are smaller. I am sure it is the brains way of taking a memory and changing it so it does not seem so ridiculous. But, they really are that big.

One part that I would have thought the cross bike would be a problem was the trails. I actually rode the trail sections pretty well. There were a few times that got a little harry on the decents, but some how held on. So, I don’t think I could say it really slowed me down a lot. I am sure some, but not as much as for some. I do know that the cross bike was faster on a lot of the road sections. If I could maintain some momentum, I was cruising along.

I tried to not stop at too many of the rest stops. I know how much time stopping can add to my ride. I was feeling good enough and had plenty of inventory so I didn’t need to stop anyway. I did stop at the 3rd one or so just to top off the bottle. I grabbed some food and took off as quickly as I could. I did this at two other stops. I would like to think this made me faster, but it is hard to really know. There are times that just getting off the bike for a minute and walking around at the stop can motivate me to ride harder in the next section. For now I will lean toward not stopping or doing so as little as possible.

photo credit to Kiersta

I did try to eat and drink often to keep my power up. I probably could have done better, but I know for sure that I have done a lot worse at it. For one, I turned down all of the beer I was offered. This is very rare for me and maybe lets me know just how hard I was being on my body. I felt like I really did a lot of good things to be able to put in a good time. I guess overall it was not a terrible time, just not what I was hoping for. I don’t know what my official time is yet, but my computer had me out there for 6:08. It also had me with a ride time of 5:38. I really don’t think that I stopped for that long, but anything is possible. I figure it also added some stopped time to thee total from the few times that I did have to walk. I am not happy to admit that, but yes I had to walk a couple of hills. There was some that I could have done more of, but just didn’t feel it was worth it to ride it over walking.

Now for the big question, is sub 5 really possible for me. The easy answer is yes. I truly feel that I could be sub 5 if I would just do what I know I need to do. There are a lot of things that could be different. The roads could be harder, the trails could be dryer and the wind would be a whole lot nicer. Those things would make a huge difference in my time. It would make a difference in everyone’s time. The one thing that kind of scares me about sub 5 is that the person I was going to try to hang on to came up a little short of the sub 5. It was close enough that I would have been very happy with the time, but still not faster than 5 hours. To think that I need to be as strong as he is and then still have some things work out to be even faster does not sound good to me. I know the body could get there if I let it, but it sounds like I am a lot farther than I should be.

Thanks to Kiersta for the picture

There is always should of, could of and lots of other things that could be different. The only thing that I know wont be different is where I will be next year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I have been to every Gravel Grovel so far and not planning on changing that any time soon. I would like to thank Sub 9 and all of the sponsors and volunteers that helped put this race on. Everyone does such a great job!! This is the race of the year that I look the most forward too every year. Hope to see you there next year and maybe I will finally do enough to allow myself to put in a faster time.

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Can I go sub 5

I have been thinking a lot about if it is going to be possible for me to finish the Gravel grovel in less than 5 hours. I know a lot of people do it but not sure I have done the work to be one of them.

Earlier this year I would have thought it would not be a problem. I have slacked off the riding some lately and been eating way too much. The legs show some promise when I do ride but it will still not be easy. The last big ride I did was a 45 mile gravel route there was not as many hills as there there needed to be and I felt like I didn’t have a lot left in the legs. The time it took to complete leaves me thinking it will not be possible.

I know there are a lot of things that will be different race day but not all of them will be a good thing. The main reason I think it should be doable is that in 2011 I finished in 5:21. I was on my ss and was way out of shape. 2012 I also rode my ss but that year I put cross tires on to help be faster. It didn’t work. I finished in 5:45 and ended up walking the last 3 miles or so because of a flat tire. It was near the end and it was more hassle to change than I felt like putting in at that point. 2013 I rode a geared bike in hopes of beating 5 hours but ended up just over 6.

Putting in my fastest time even though I don’t look like I could

There are a lot of things I can do differently but will they be enough to take off 40-50 min.? Maybe my legs have that much time in them. I am also going to ride a cross bike. I think this will make some sections a lot faster. But at the same time it could make some sections slower. I am fairly good at bike handling so I feel like I can ride it on the off road sections well enough to warrant the increased speed in the road sections. The only things I am really concerned about with this bike is the climbing and flat tires.

The new ride

I will be changing my gearing some to help but it will not be the same as my mtb. Most of the time I think it will be fine because my fastest times were on  ss bikes with a lot bigger gear then I will have available. Flats are always possible. I had one the year I rode with cross tires. I do have some bigger tire options than what I have used in the past but there are some issues with using them too. I still have not decided on what tires will be used. All I really know is no matter what I use, it should be a good time.

It took me a little while to post this and now the route has been posted. It has a few changes that could make some things interesting. There is a section that I don’t really have much time on and not sure what to expect. The good thing is that it is more off road and less on road, so it should be for the better. With all the changes I am not sure what this will do with the actual finish times. If I make my time cut off, I will always wonder how it would have compared to previous years. I know I can see what the fast times are and it should give me an idea but not exact. All I can hope for is to ride well enough to be happy with the effort. Hope to see you next weekend!! There is still time to sign up!!

Posted in Bikes, Brown County, Gravel, gravel, hills, racing, Sub 9, Team Adventures, Ultracross | 1 Comment

Going out with a bang

I have been wanting to get back to posting more often. It has not been easy with how much stuff has been going on. I am going to give this site another try just because it should be easier to share with the new team site that is being put together. I just need to try to put a little more effort to getting a few more posts done. I can’t believe how long it has been since I have last posted. I was talking about the end of the season, but I still have one more big race to go. This is a race that I have done since it started. I had no idea what I was in for and was in no shape to actually sign up for it, but I have found a love/hate relationship that I just can’t walk away from.

Sub 9 had taken over the Gravel Grovel a few years ago. This race has grown a lot since the first time I lined up in the parking lot just out side the Story Inn. But, I have changed a lot since then too. I have put in more miles each year and continue to get back in to the riding shape that I once was. This year I have put in more volume of miles and I really hope that it pays off come Thanksgiving weekend. I have not put in near the time on the mtb, but I have  have put in some great rides on the road bike. I am hoping that this will put me some place in the middle of where I have been in past years.

I started the year off riding really good and felt the best I have ever done for the Death March. I fell off thee wagon a little after that, but jumped back on and put in some good efforts. I did a few races, but not near what I would have done in past years. I was feeling pretty good with myself near the end of the season, but once again things started to get in the way and I have recently not put in the miles that I need too. I have still been getting out some, but the weight is going up and the miles are going down. I try to make up for the lack of rides by putting good ones in when I do go, but I am not sure if it will be enough.

I have also added a bike to the stables just for this race and this type of riding. I have wanted a cross bike for a few years and the stars just aligned enough and next thing I knew there was one in my possession. The first ride didn’t work out as planned, but with a few tweaks I figured there is still a chance. I have put a few more rides in on it and it just keeps getting better. I just hope the legs are working as good as the bike is. I can see where some benefits will be, but also where some negative things can be.

This bike rolls much faster than the mtb. This also make the traction less and more sketchy on the down hills. I have since put some bigger tires on it and that made a huge difference. The gearing is also higher and all the big climbs will b harder, but from what I learned on the SS bike is if I can climb them I will be faster since it is in a bigger gear. I just hope I don’t have to walk anything or at least too many hills.

My goal has been to put in a sub 5 hour ride. At one point I figured it was very doable, but I am not so sure anymore. Last weekend we went out and did a nice 45 mile route that was not flat, but not as hilly as the Gravel Grovel. It got down to where I needed to put in the last 20 miles in a time that seemed hard to do. This makes me really wonder if I can do it. I know there was some time stopped trying to figure out if we were making the correct turns, but I am sure I will stop at a rest stop or two. I just have to not stay too long. I will find out in a little over 2 weeks. I am going to give it a good try and see what happens.

Posted in Gravel | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

2014 Season – more of a false negative than a season

Is it possible to write about the season and it is just the end of August? Well, I guess so since most of the races are done for the year. It is hard to say the year has been a disappointment, but in some cases it really has been. The biggest thing that was not good was the amount of time I have rode my mtb this year. I have not raced too many times and that is almost the only times that I have been on my mtb. Not that I didn’t want to, but I guess I didn’t want to bad enough. I had planned on doing more races, but like I stated earlier, this was the year of conflicts. So many things overlapped and I could not be everywhere.

Other times I could do what I wanted, but the weather did not work out. It has been such a crazy year that I am not sure I even know how many races I did or how many time I rode in the woods. The only thing I am sure about is that it was not very many. I would say it is fairly to say that I have only rode my mtb with fat tires 5 times this year. I know the good mountain biking season is still coming so I hope to do a little better on this number. One of the downers to the year was the fact that I didn’t make a single KPS race. I really do enjoy racing the Kentucky series and like a lot of the people, but it just didn’t work out.

The year was not a complete loss as I have put in a lot of miles. Probably the most that I have ever done in a year. The only down fall with this is that it has all been done on the road bike. The road bike is not all bad and I did have a lot of fun. It sure helps having a group of people that you enjoy riding with. If I was heading out by myself all year, I would have never done it. That is obvious by the fact that I should have rode today, but just didn’t have the motivation. The other good thing about all the road miles is that it is an easy way to put in some good hours on the seat with little worries about driving to the trail head, muddy trails or ticks. I also had some minor success with some crit races again this year. I did the burning Quad and had so much fun that I ended up doing the New Albany crit the next weekend. I really enjoyed them and hope to get a few more of those put on the schedule. I know that just makes even more things over lap.

The real shocker of the year was the amount of weight I lost putting in the rides that I did do. I just wonder what I would do if I ever put in the effort to really try and train. I just might be able to get fast. When I was still putting the miles in, I was getting pretty fast. I missed the last Southern 5 and Dino race of the season. I was really looking forward to seeing how well I would do with all the miles in my legs. I know I could not believe how I rode at Ferdinand and I was not real consistent with the miles at that time or climbing well at all.

The problem is that I am sure that it all goes away quicker than you gain it. I just hope it comes back quickly. The last couple of weeks I have not put in many miles at all. Work has been even more stressful than the rest of the year and with school starting, soccer practice and games, the schedule has been pretty full. It is now getting dark earlier, so it will be harder to put in those long rides. The other option would be to finally hit up those night rides that I have wanted to do all year.

I really need to get back on the wagon and try to step it up even more that I was. The weight it up a little and I hope to be able to put in my best Gravel Grove to date. I am not sure what bike I will ride, but I will be there no matter what. I have done it every year so far and it is one of my favorite races to do. I would like to work out a cross bike to give that a try since I have done it on a SS several times and a mtb the other times. I would really love to put in a sub 5 hour ride. I know I can do it if I put in the effort. Averaging 13 mph does not sound too crazy to me. Maybe if I ride my SS it might not be so easy, but I know people that do it.

I will probably end up riding the niner with my rigid fork and the 44c tires that I picked up another gravel race. If I end up getting a new mtb for next year, I plan on turning the niner in to a monster cross bike. I really think I could excel at those races and if I put in the effort I could have a lot of fun. It is not as much fun when I am out of shape and it takes way too long to finish. It is more of a death march that a race.

Just to restate just how crazy the year has been and how much I am not doing even though I have put some hours in on the bike. My SS has had a flat tire since a ride in the back yard in the snow. I don’t think it was even this year. I know it is easy to fix the tire, but I need to also change the brakes and I don’t know how to bleed disc brakes. That has put a damper in getting it rolling. My old mtb needs to have a lot of work done to it so that my wife can ride it. Most of the work is not that hard, but I need to actually work on it to do it. The Surly 1×1 is sort of ready, but the last time I tried to hop on it, I noticed that the brakes were messed up. I think I stole the brakes off of it and traded them for the new pair of hydraulic brakes that I plan on putting on the SS. Now my new road bike needs to be torn down and cleaned up since the cranks are starting to creek I am sure it was from the crit race in the rain.

So, hard to say the year was a negative year. It was just not what I normally think of a year being. I can only hope to combine this year and what I really wanted this year to be and end up with something in the middle. This would get me in great shape, loose weight, race crits and be able to compete in the mtb races that I do race. I would love to be fighting for a podium spot some day. Another thing that would improve is the fact that I would actually put more posts together. I have had several rides that I wanted to put a post together on or different topics that I wanted to make comments on, but just didn’t have the time or energy to make it work and then the thought passed.

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New Albany Crit – The NAC

Well, I guess I had enough fun last weekend at the Burning Quad that I found myself signed up for another crit race over the weekend. This was was in New Albany and the layout was different than what I have done before. With out the hill, I was not sure how the pace would go. The other issue was that we had a ton of rain on Saturday night and there was a chance for rain on Sunday. Thankfully I pre-registered and also had a passenger to share the ride down with me. If it was not for those two things, I probably would have just stayed home. I am nervous enough about crashing in a crit race and didn’t need to add to the issue with all the rain.

It was not raining when we left and had a little hope that maybe it would miss us and everything would stay dry. They were working on clearing and drying the course when we got there, but shorty after the canopy was set up, the rain decided to come down and it was coming down pretty hard for a little bit. This held up the start since they didn’t get the start/finish set up as quickly. I was fine with that since the rain let up and looked like it might have been done for a while. The second race was cheap enough and like a fool, I signed up for two races again. I secretly figured that if the weather got too bad, I would just do the first race and be done with it.

I took some warm up laps and tried to find all the spots to keep an eye out for and where the slick spots might be. I didn’t feel like I warmed up as good as I needed to and hoped it was enough. Soon enough thee race started and we were off. There was some accelerations on a couple straights that I tried to not get too excited about. When I was tapping the brakes at the end of the straight anyway. I had the same plan to try and stay as protected as I could for most of the race. There was a good head wind on a few sections and figured to try and use as little energy as possible. This worked out pretty well for most of the race. I felt like I was riding a smart race. I was getting worried about where I was in the pack and made a move forward in some corners. I ended up a little farther than I wanted and in 3rd place, but the rain was starting to come down again and as we rolled past the start/finish they said 2 laps to go. They were cutting the race short for the rain and I believe some lightning was in the area.

Right as the guy in the front pulled off, the guy in second made a jump. It looked like a good jump and one that was going to stick. I was a second late in making my decision, but tried to jump on his wheel. I was gaining some ground, but the right hand corner in the middle was tricky and I was not ready when I got there. I ended up taking the corner way wide as I was worried about sliding out and was going too fast for where I was. I thought for sure that I was going to wipe out. Some how I held on and got back on the gas, but this let too big of a gap open up and I could not make the connection. At this point my heart rate was out the roof from almost wrecking and trying to bridge the gap. My legs lost power and I sat up and waited for the pack. As they came by, I jumped in the middle and tried to minimize my losses. I held my own and made a good effort at the end, but could only manage to finish in 9th place. Not bad for another pack finish, but not where I could have been.

I feel like I made the right decision, but it was just a little late. I could have just stayed where I was and hoped to sprint for second, but I would have been in the front of the pack and not where I would have wanted to be hard telling where I would have ended up. Even though I am not happy with the result, I am happy with the thought. Can’t win if you don’t take any risks.

Blowing myself up in the cat 5 race was not good for my chances in the 4/5 race. I didn’t even want to get on the line the way my legs felt but I already paid and you just never know. The pace at the start was pretty fast. There were some good accelerations out of the corners. I was feeling pretty good for the first few laps but then the legs started to go. I just could not keep up with the surges and eventually fell off. It was way quicker than last week and I was not too happy about it. I did see a rider up ahead of me and I tried to catch up to him. After a few laps of not gaining ground I decided to pull the plug. 
I could have stayed out there but I would have just been in the way when the pack came around. I had nothing left to prove for the day. I think I need to keep it to one race for a while. The thing I need to decide is if I want to do the Cat 5 race or the 4/5 race where it is safer, but also faster. I think the crit season is winding down, so I have till next year to figure that out.

Even though I didn’t fair too well in the 4/5 race I will say that my teammates looked really good. They did a lot of work up front and made a good move late in the race, but it didn’t hold up. I hope to get my legs in a little better shape to help them out better next time. It is just hard to believe the I am doing some crit races and actually looking forward to some more. I just don’t want to turn into a full time roadie. I know I am still a mountain biker at heart, it just depends on timing and conflicts as to what I can do more often. This year just turns out to be road riding.

Posted in Bikes, crit, crit racing, IN/KY series, NAC, racing, Team Adventures | Leave a comment