Monday, March 30, 2009

Carbon fiber crystal ball

I am going to make a prediction. Yeah, I know, stop the presses! Look at this:

This 'spy shot' of what looks to be a composite Specialized 29er hardtail will be making its way around the net I imagine. It looks poised to join the GF version of the same approach.

I would not be surprised if the Specy is a more durable frame then the carbon Gary Fishers have been, but that is just a speculation on my part. It seems like the Big S designs a bit more to the sturdy side of things and it would be smart to let the battle of the grams scale go to Gary F. and win the war of durability and trust among riders. But that is not the prediction I mentioned.

I predict that over time, carbon frames will be what most serious riders want to pedal. Cost will come down to the point to where a nice aluminum frame is now. Ti will still be the king of bling and longevity, but it will not come close to the performance of carbon. Neither will aluminum and certainly not steel.

Why? Look at the shape of the tubes on that frame. Now add in the ability to go way beyond what can be done with a metal tube/shape, such as butting or hydroforming. The way the layers of fiber can be constructed to provide a certain pedaling and ride performance seems to be such an advantage that I cannot see metal getting there without costing a great deal, if it can be done at all.

I have never really considered a carbon frame for off road riding. I imagined them too fragile, too chi chi, too odd. Then I rode a couple of nice carbon bikes for a little bit. The pedaling performance was amazing. Stiff BB, fast response. Light bike. Look what it has done for road bikes. Why would I want to buy a non carbon road bike other than some bow toward the 'steel is real' emotion or the cache of Ti? An aluminum road bike? Do they still make those?

I imagine cheap carbon is like any other cheap bike...not so great. But the potential of carbon seems so wide open that it has to be a matter of time before I will be shopping for the next 29er. A carbon fiber one.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

For Gary.

I first met Gary when I was trying new classes at church. He was a long time member and I was new there. We were about the same age, but he looked a bit frail and I learned that he had been fighting a long battle with cancer.

Every so often, if he was doing well, he would stop by the class but I never spoke to him. I had that odd feeling that one can get when you are around a very ill person where it just feels awkward to sit and talk to them. What do you say to someone like that when you first meet them? Sorry? Hope you feel better? I will pray for you? All that is fine, but it just feels inadequate so I avoided the moment and I knew that I was running away.

One night in class we were assigned to sit with someone we did not know. I ended up with Gary. No running away now. He looked pretty beat, a bit gaunt, but his voice was strong, and with a twinkle in his eye, he looked at me and said, "I hear you ride bikes?"

What followed was an hour of talking about all things bike. Gary was an avid cyclist. A road rider mostly, he seldom got into the dirt. But Gary was a serious rider, doing centuries, doubles, club rides, races, whatever. We talked about great routes we knew of. We talked about equipment and what made a bike special, what made it sing. He talked about when he could ride again and when he got his strength back, what bike he always wanted to buy but never did.

And when he spoke of the great thing that riding a bike is, the simple pleasure of the wheel in motion, the passion of the pursuit, the pain of attaining a summit and the thrill of the descent, he was transformed. His body was weak and limited but his mind and spirit were pedaling smooth circles, lightly gripping the hoods, looking ahead for the next bend in the road. Only God can transform a soul but cycling can transform the spirit, even if the body is not able, and right then in that padded, cheap steel chair, Gary was riding again.

Gary turned that last bend the other day as he passed away into the waiting arms of a God he loved and served willingly. He worked hard the last year of his life preparing his family, his wife, and setting his life in order. He was working to begin a hospice care at a local mission camp for terminal patients so they could have a place to be with dignity. He was, to the end, a living example of selflessness and the love of Christ to a messed up world.

And he was one more thing. He was a cyclist.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Unlikely Week

It began last week with the news of a friend of my wife having some potential of breast cancer. In the middle of that, the womans brother was electrocuted in a freak accident and is being treated for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degree burns. I have never heard of 4th degree burns. Talking to the doctors assistant who patched up my boo boos, he had seen plenty 4th degree burns when he worked for the county coroner. Oh, but never on someone who was still alive. Todd faces a long, difficult recovery.

Then there was the sudden death of Ken Brown from Fluid.

Yesterday I heard that a long time professional acquaintance, a guy named Joe, died in his sleep from heart failure. He was younger than I am.

What a week. Nothing is certain my friends, other than death and that taxes thing and I hear you can get around the taxes deal if ya' wanna be all slippery and such. But death is all tied up with a slip proof knot and in between are all kinds of changes and trials in life. If the young man had been wearing his hard hat when the high voltage line fell on him, how would that have changed things? What if I had gone on my road ride instead of changing my mind and riding a course a rarely do? I don't know. But he was not wearing that hat and I did not do the road ride. Both Ken and Joe figured they would get up the next day and finish their lives.

Life is only revealed to us a bit at a time and we best make the most of what time God allows us.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Adventure awaits.

That small box brings some really cool stuff to my cycling world. For more info, stay tuned or....go here and get ready to do what the little character on the box says. "Go further".

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pride goes before the fall

As I rode over a rise in the trail, I recognized the spot from some recent pics on-line. This rutted section, steep and loose, was called out as a dastardly section to prove ones mettle against. Hah. As I scooted down it on my hardtail SS with V brakes, I was feeling pretty superior. "So THAT is the killer spot?" Phhhtt.

Not 100 yards later I was calling some friends who were riding nearby to help me get my bike and body together and get out to the road. Bad crash. Worst I have had in over 20 years of riding. It happened pretty fast. Down the trail from the spot I recognized, I was threading the needle down a steep and wide section, dancing between the rain ruts hidden in the new grass until I felt like I had a clear run out to the bottom. I let off the brakes, picked up speed really quickly, alarmingly so...OK, focus, relax, look ahead, then BANG..BANG. A double hit to both rims. Must have been hidden in the grass. Whatever it was de-beaded the front tire, blew the tube in half and nearly unseated the rear tire too. It unseated me as well.

Total superman into the ground. What a mess.

So today I am all wrapped up like the mummy. Missing skin. Typical road rash. My left hand/wrist took a huge impact. No broken things yet, but I am waiting on a second opinion from the sawbones. A nice brace safely encapsulates my barely functioning hand. This may take a while.

So, moral: You ain't that special after all, pal. Pride sucks, as well do snakes hidden in the grass.

Monday, March 23, 2009

In Memory of Ken

If you read my blog often enough, you will hear me mention how much I enjoy using Fluid Recovery drink mix. Part of that is because it simply works great. But another reason is that the folks behind Fluid are great people. They typify the small business owning, entrepreneurial family, the kind that for generations has made America the best place to reach for the brass ring of your dreams. When I buy Fluid, I am buying from, not some huge corporation that makes breakfast cereal in the building next to the recovery drink kitchens, but a small team of excited people working together to create something great for themselves by helping me be a better athlete.

Sadly, the Fluid team has lost a key member. Last week, after a sudden illness, Ken W. Brown, the company president, passed away. I only briefly met him, but I have talked many times with his wife Jan and, of course, his son David, the founder of Fluid. Jan has a way of always making you feel welcome and special. David as well, is a very cool guy and I cannot help but think that Ken was quite a guy too.

My prayers to all the family and friends and my best wishes and heartfelt sorrow over your loss.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekend wrap-up: Campin', buildin', ridin'

I took Friday off of work and spent Thursday night camping up in the local mountains. No bikes, just me, the boy, chile, a campfire, and a tent. Excellent. We had the place all to ourselves. I do forget what stars look like anymore and the quiet was deafening.

Friday morning we came back home to get back to the day's schedule and I spent a few hours putting his new (to him) bike together. He had been riding a GT that I had assembled from 2 bikes the neighbor had given me plus good stuff like XTR hubbed wheels and 9 speed Gripshift from my parts box.

What I was moving him into was an Action Tec Curtlo that I always liked, but now was just hanging around the rafters. It is really a size too big, but with a short stem and some reliance on his youthful flexibility, I think we will be good to go and he has room to grow into it.

Saturday was ride day. I had sent out a ride invite to do Golden Eagle trail, a long section of basically buff singletrack preceded by a 6 mile climb. We began in heavy, wet clouds and climbed above the cloud layer into bright, blue skies and warm weather. All in all an excellent day. To read more on the trail from another's perspective, here is a link to the writeup and great pics from jeffj.

Pics, some mine, some pirated from his write-up. I saw the B-17, but I was not fast enough with the camera. That was cool!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is steel really real?

So this year I have been riding the SS a lot. And, the most likely change in bikes this year will be a different SS frame. I am in no hurry, but it will happen at some point. I am a real fan of steel as a material for a hardtail frame. Nice steel at least. And frankly, I had not even considered aluminum as a material for the new SS.

But now, I am wondering if that was a mistake. This is why.

  • Other than a track frame, I can't think of another type of bike that so requires good energy transfer from pedal to ground. Now I know that all bikes need that, but how often to you sit down and pedal an SS up a long and difficult climb? Not in my part of the world. Or how about short power bursts? I do a lot of them on a normal ride, pulling hard on the bars, pushing down hard on one pedal, pulling up hard on the other pedal, power bursts.
  • If that premise is at least mostly true, than it seems reasonable that stiffness at the bottom bracket, pedaling response, etc, is key on a single speed.
  • 29ers are naturally smooth over rough terrain and hold momentum well, so although a smoother ride is always welcome off road, is it still as critical on a 29er that we look for that smoothness in the frame construction?
  • Is aluminum really that much harsher than steel? Scandium sure seems like it has a lot to offer. I keep thinking GT Zaskar/Klein harshness of old. Perhaps a new paradigm is upon me?
  • How much can a rigid frame flex (as far as bump compliance) anyway? Can we not get more comfyness out of a larger, lower pressure tire (within reason, of course)? If a 2.3 tire can deform 1/4" more than a 2.1 tire when it rolls over something, what does it take to get a frame to absorb that 1/4 inch of bumpiness?
  • How much of this is all horse feathers?
Could be most of it, I don't know. But I am sure curious about finding out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bikepacking on the Horizon

A while ago I decided to get back into bike mounted camping trips. I had a ton of experience doing this in the past. Well, actually, one overnighter, but I absolutely loved it.

It was three of us that made the journey. We began by dropping a truck off at Lions Camp where we would come out after 2 days of riding. We drove to the top of a local mountain, Mt Pinos in the Los Padres Natl Forest (8000' or so) and began from there. I was riding my Schwinn Paramountain, a full rigid 26er cuz that was all there was back then. It had front and rear Blackburn racks and very cool Jandd saddlebags. The trail began with a couple miles of dirt road climbing and I remember being surprised at how much I noticed the extra weight on the bike. It was definitely not zippy.

The real surprise came later when, on the long and steep singletrack descent off the backside of Mt Pinos, I ran out of brakes big time. It was kinda hectic...waaay off the back of the saddle, brake levers back to the bars, eyes wide open until the barely controlled drop down the trail finally ended with me (mostly) intact. It was kinda cool in that the extra weight was almost a motorcycle experience in the way that the bike rolled over and through all kinds of stuff I could not steer around. But it was only kinda cool, the rest was just scary. The panniers hit things trailside and even my heels if I used a lot of english or had to hop off the bike quickly.

With cooled off brakepads, we dropped out onto the pavement at the Boy Scout camp and made our way back to dirt past Mutah Flats and down to the Sespe Creek by way of the Johnson Motorway. The next day we rode out to Lions Camp and the waiting truck. It was a great trip. Hot springs, stars, bikes, and blackberry brandy.

That trip is now only a memory as the greenie weenies had that area of the country designated wilderness quite a few years ago. But, that leaves a lot of territory to ride bikes in and I plan on camping off the bike once more. This time I will have a different approach. How does no racks and no panniers sound? How about a bike that still feels like a mountain bike on singletrack, not a pregnant Yak wallowing along? How about a lighter, sleeker way of getting into the backcountry on a bike and loving it?

Welcome to the world of Bikepacking. A while ago I came across this guy and it got me thinking about a better way of setting up a bike for off road travel. No racks to break, panniers to catch on branches or over laden bikes that can barely be portaged, much less swoop down a singletrack with grace and balance.

Check this out...

Now tell me THAT does not look like an adventure machine? Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for a lot more on this. I am expecting the first of the bags to get to me in the next couple of weeks, then it will be time to put it all into play.

Very cool, eh?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Magic Mountain..finally

No, not the amusement park version. This is the real mountain. Along the Santa Clara Divide Rd, which runs a long ways across the San Gabriel Mtns, there is a prominent peak adorned with the typical array of antennas, microwave dishes, etc. All last year I had planned on riding to it by extending a very popular hillclimb, riding past the typical summit and continuing east for another couple of hours.

I never made that ride. It bugged me. It felt like an un-done thing left hanging, a dangling carrot if you will.

So, one week after VQ, I figured I would chase the carrot a bit. And, since I had no good reason not to, I decided to take the SS. Ever since I had begun riding single speed, the first part of this ride, a 1800' climb up from San Fernando Rd, had teased me as an SS-able challenge. I takes me an hour on the geared bike, give or take a few minutes depending on how I am feeling that day. This day it took me an hour, just a bit less, actually, so once again I find the SS is very comparable to riding the geary time wise. Effort wise, it was harder. I walked a few places rather than put the hurt on my legs/knees, but rode most of it. The thing about climbing on an SS is this: if you are moving well, actually close to or on top of the gear, you are moving pretty fast. Faster than a typical rider spinning a much smaller gear. Not too many guys ride that hill in a 32/20 combo. But, if you are under the gear or walking, you are moving pretty slowly. For me, it averages out as I usually have a blend of both. I can see how a very strong rider can really crush it on a light SS.

Looking west, the fog was laying heavy over the San Fernando Valley.

Anyway, I continued on past the first summit, past the second summit, and continued to the third summit, the highest point of the day. Magic Mountain is no place you would go out of your way to be, but I sure enjoyed that carrot I had been chasing. The arrow in the one pic shows the second summit way back in the distance.

From here I retraced my steps and ended up with five hours of riding, 35 miles under the wheels and 6200' feet of climbing. It got me thinking that this was approx 2/3s of what VQ was in both mileage and elevation gain. Based on today, could I do VQ SS? Well, I was pretty blasted in the last climbs as I worked my way back over the second summit section. I could not have done a full VQ distance this day. Maybe a 32/21 combo and a lot of training would do it. Not sure. It is a year away and who knows?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring, nearly.

A camera, a bike, and a leisurely ride/walk into the beginnings of Spring.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Final thoughts on VQ...maybe.

Hey, since nothing else is going on right now, more thoughts on Vision Quest seem appropriate.

What worked:
  • Having a plan several months in advance. I am waaay to old to just wander in without any training and make that kind of effort. Things like CL 2.0 kept me on track and gave me a good gauge of my fitness. I rode with a purpose. There were many times I rode alone to get the miles in at the right time. I skipped a lot of local fun rides that were not enough to build upon.
  • I rode the SS a lot. Likely 2:1 over the geared bike. I kept taking it on progressively harder and longer rides which was not only good training, it was eye opening as what can be done on an single geared bike.
  • I had figured out my diet by then. I found out that Snickers bars work just as good as Power Bars and are a lot cheaper (and tastier). I used Accelerade in a water bottle, water in the Camelbak, and that worked very well. Fluid recovery drink is awesome. It made the day after a much better place to be. I used S caps for cramping prevention. I only used Gus on VQ itself.
  • I changed nothing, tried nothing new. All my clothing, bike set-up, tire choice, etc was all proven.
  • I had a good grasp on my pace. I did not go out too fast, too early and I knew what I could sustain.
What did not work:

Well, not much, really. I would have liked more long rides in the training program. It would have added to the overall speed of the ride and my confidence level going into it. Besides that, it was all I could have asked for.

Postscript...there actually was one thing that did not work. Peanut butter. How does anyone eat that stuff? I was at one of the aid stops and there were a few PBJs on the table. Now I hate peanut butter and I have never had a PBJ before, but I figured it was worth the yucky taste to get some good calories. I grabbed one, took a bite and my mouth seized up. It was like eating a scoop of wood putty. I expected it to taste bad, but I was not prepared for the consistency. No wonder dogs lick that stuff off of the roof of their mouths for hours. I feel their pain and I would never do that to a dog after this. Cruel and inhuman, I tell ya. Peanut is NOT what is for dinner.

PPS: Here are a couple of pics I caught from this post on SCTR:

The near fatal PBJ encounter happened at this aid station. That is me...#46, blue gray jersey. Ain't I good lookin' though?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoughts on a Vision Quest

"!" I heard those words shouted over the PA system (well, just a bull horn really), from the 'throne' of one of those plastic potties behind the starting line of the Vision Quest. It was still dark, my flashlight I had strapped to my helmet had the lumens output of a pair of excited fireflies, I was missing the start of the race, and as I hurried to re-assemble my clothing post-nature call, my windbreaker unzipped from the bottom up. Nice. Great start (or non-start, as if were).

KT, Rich, and Ron, the guys I came up here with, were long gone.

So, I had about 135 riders ahead of me as I began my quest. Nowhere to go but up in the ranks! And up it was. The ride began easily along Blackstar Rd. The climbing started soon enough and as the morning sky broke into dawn, we topped out on the first ascent. The fast guys were off the front, so I was passing slower folks all along the way and I felt quite good. I was riding pretty conservatively since I did not want to burn the candle too brightly, too early, but my pace felt in control and smooth.

The previous night while setting up camp, I was regretting not running the Edge carbon wheelset with some of the Fastrak LK tires. It certainly would have been fast. I had passed on that for a couple of reasons: not being able to go tubeless and thinking I might have wanted a bigger tire for the rougher sections of trail. What made me feel better was counting 12 riders alongside the road repairing flat tires before the Main Divide Rd. Why so many flats? Dunno. Thorns on a fireroad that sees all kinds of vehicle traffic? Unlikely. Pinch flats on a fireroad climb? Never heard of that. Whatever it was, I never felt like the Hope/Flows/2.2 Captain Control combo was an issue. They rolled well and absolutely shined in the techy, rocky trails in the race. Next time I would possibly downsize to a slightly smaller tire, but I would not give up tubeless for the world.

I hit the top of the first climb, peeled out of the windbreaker, spun up the Ipod and pushed shuffle-all songs. On the virtual turntable: Third Day...'Cry Out To Jesus'. That may happen any time now.

A lot more climbing followed on the Main Divide Rd and it was still cold. Frost on the ground attested to that, but it was going to be a beautiful day. I was glad I had the long sleeve jersey on. Brrr. Each climb was followed by a quick drop and it was chilly up there.

Now I had picked a somewhat arbitrary goal of eight hours as a finishing time. Honestly, I expected to be a nine hour finisher, but better to aim high. I also decided to leave the camera in the camper and stop as little as possible at any aid station, etc. This really paid off as I will see later on.

More climbing...Ipod rockin' to the Soundtrack from Madagascar: 'I Like To Move It, Move It'.

It took me three hours to get to Maple Springs Aid Station #1. That was one hour before the cut off time. I thought that was a bit slow, but if I could hold a one hour cushion to each cutoff point, I would be OK. I fueled up at Maple Springs and rolled out on the paved road. About 100 yards out, I had a big old leg cramp, right leg, inner thigh, knee to crotch. WHAAaaa? Three hours!!!! I did not even feel all that bad otherwise. I got off of the bike and tried to stretch it out but the cramp just got worse. So, I got back on the bike to see if I could pedal. I could, so off I went, but I was very concerned and I was really trying to soft pedal for a while. I could see cramps at eight hours, but three? Not a good sign. Oddly enough, I never had another cramp all day. The paved road was deceptively steep. It kinda hurt. But as soon as the road turned to dirt, the pace picked up and I felt better. I had a feeling that we were headed to some serious elevation gains and every so often I could see a peak with antennas, etc. I figured this: If it was high, had a road on it, and was in the direction of travel, we were heading up it. I accepted that and smiled. Let's go.

Tune of the moment...'I Play Chicken With The Train', Cowboy Troy.

Modjeska Peak, Santiago Peak...first one then the other. Excellent views. It felt like we climbed forever, but it had an end at last. There were a few patches of ice and snow on the North side as we began the descent.

Pink was 'Gettin' The Party Started' on the Ipod and promising to "kick my ***". Motivating, indeed.

Upper Holy Jim trail began the singletrack section and it was chock full of something I truly suck at: switchbacks. Toss in a bunch of rock steps to drop off of and add fatigue and I was not happy. I am glad that Lenzsport bends that top tube as I tested the clearance once in a painful way. Every so often the 29er feels a little big and awkward and this was one of them, but really I was just riding like a beginner...all brakes, no balance, no flow. I let one rider pass and he just danced by. Crap! OK, self, time to get your act together. It got better from there...relax, look ahead, less brakes, more faith in your bike. Lower Holy Jim was very fun. By then I was riding like I had a clue again. The trail crossed the creek many times and it was just beautiful in there although I was not looking around much.

James Taylor was talkin' 'bout 'Mexico'.

One rider asked when the cutoff time was and I said 12:30. Oops. Sorry dude. I got that wrong as I was soon to discover.

I hit the go/no-go cutoff point at aid station #2. If you do not beat the cutoff time, you are denied continuing on the Vision Quest course and you are directed to the Counting Coup finish. When I rolled up, someone shouted, "You better hurry, you have seven minutes till the cut-off time!" WHAAAATTTT!!!!???? I stuffed my face with an orange slice, filled up my water needs and ran past the checkpoint like I was escaping East Berlin before the wall went up.

Seven minutes. Seven. Seven minutes nearly separated me from that feather. That was about ten pictures worth of time if I had brought the camera. One flat tire. Maybe two or three minutes here or there to look at the views or stretch my legs. If I had not set a goal of eight hours, I would have been way less focused on moving along. So even though eight hours was not realistic, it made nine hours possible and for that I was glad. I did not come that far to take the lesser path.

From here, I rode/pushed/rode up Trabuco to the beginning of Horse Thief trail. I had expected the hike-a-bike. It was pretty heinous from what I had heard and it was. Still, I knew that there was an end to it. A top to the mountain. And all I had to do to get there was to keep moving. I could do that. I would push for a few minutes and rest for a few seconds, but I was a happy man. I was going to make it. The Ipod spit out songs at random and they all flowed into some surreal mix: Casting Crowns, Soul Control, Shakira, & Phillips, Craig and Dean.

There were a lot of riders below me that had made the cutoff too. Surprising. Forty Five minutes later I topped out on the hike-a-bike and I knew I had it in the bag. That feather was mine. I took a bit more time here at the aid station. I had earned it. At this point I was fighting for 110th position or whatever, but as long as I did not crash or get lost, I was a finisher and that, after all, was my ultimate goal.

I really enjoyed the trail down Trabuco. That is some sweet stuff. Fast, wide, under the

Michael Buble stepped up to the mic as the scene blurred by...: "When marimba rhythms start to play..." Somehow it seemed like a good time to dance.

From there it was just a matter of head down and hammer to the end. Why hammer? I dunno, cuz I could, I guess. I felt pretty good so I just flew and crossed the line five minutes before 03:00. Someone was shouting "Rider number 100!". I am not sure if that is significant, but they seemed excited. More than likely they shouted that when rider number 1 and 10 and 32 and 65 and 72 and 125 came across the line. I took the finisher's badge of honor; the feather.

Fifty six point five miles, 11,000+' of climbing, 9.5 hours. Six Gu's, two Snickers bars, one Payday, ten electrolyte capsules, three bottles of Accelerade, lots of songs played. Where did the day go?

I filled up a couple of bottles of Fluid recovery drink and sat for a minute, still buzzing from the whole thing. It was time for a shower, food, and swapping stories among the group. I hung the feather on the edge of my gear bag and walked away a tired, happy man. Next goal? Well, I have some ideas.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A feather in my cap

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:30-31

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One day to go

The rain soaked things pretty good on Wednesday, but the storms have rolled out and the weather looks clear for Vision Quest. It looks like I have the option of camping in a motor home instead of a tent so that is a cool deal. The group has a pasta dinner planned the night before. I will bring the tent anyway just in case I feel the need to slip away and find a quiet place.

The race begins in the dark, but within 30 minutes tops we will be in the light of dawn. I am not going to haul my lights around the whole day for that, so I am going to strap an LED flashlight to my helmet and creep along till the sun wakes up.

The bug that seemed to be trying to get me has lost the battle for now. Thank goodness for carrot juice and KM (an herbal drink). Just in case that was too healthy I made sure I was sampling chocolate chip cookies and brownies too. Ya can't be too careful.

Tonite I will spin around on the Lev to make sure it is happy and then I will pack up for the race. Getting up to race at 04:00AM really sounds fun. Yay.

I am really looking forward to the race. I am going to adjust my focus a little bit as well. Instead of treating it like a big, supported ride, I am looking to travel lighter and faster. I have no chance of hitting the podium...if there even is one...but my mindset is a bit more toward racing than just surviving. I am hoping that this will keep me ahead of the cut-off times and keep me from napping at the rest stops, etc. Maybe more head game than reality, but if it gets me to keep moving and hit my goal of 8 hours, then bully for me.

8 hours. Hah. I have no idea if that is even realistic. But as the saying goes, "If you aim at nothing, you will surely hit it."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weekend report

Well, it was the last couple of days that I could add any significant saddle time to the bank account pre-VQ. I was on the leash for work, so I could not go far from home. Luckily my home town has quite a bit of surrounding roads and trails, not world class, but they will do in a pinch. I strung together 3 loops and ended up with 5 hours of riding time, likely 35 miles and quite a bit of climbing. I would have pushed to 6 hours, but I ran out of water at 4 hours and that was enough for me.

So, how do I feel about VQ? Well, I would feel a lot better if I had gotten more 6 hour rides in, but I was not at all feeling like I wanted to stop climbing or riding at 5 hours, so if I can feed myself well and avoid pushing too hard early on and cramping, I feel pretty good about crossing the tape. But, anything can happen. I have finished rides that had begun to truly suck a couple of hours before they were supposed to, so unless I run out of time or feel like I am doing myself harm, I will keep moving forward.

The weather, however, may have other plans. Rain is in the forecast for most of the week, not heavy rain, but rain nonetheless. I would love to race under cloudy skies. Even light rain could be OK. I did hold off mounting the tires for the race. I am thinking of the Mtn Kings as a moist conditions tire, not as fast as the Crossmark in the smooth stuff, but waaaaay better in overall traction.

Significant blogging and pretty pics will be off track till I get past this hurdle, a 50+ mile, 11,000' foot hurdle.