Saturday, March 31, 2012

Busy week....zero training

This week has been one of those weeks that people like to forget about. If this week is not forgotten is it added to the "remember how terrible" file. My poor wife was finally feeling better from her wisdom teeth removal when we went to have some surgery for our youngest. She has terrible sinus pressure so she had her sinus cavities under her eyes ballooned on Tuesday. Surgery went well, but three solid days of rest and recovery for her was on tap. She is doing better now, but will not be 100% for at least another week. Spring break is gonna be fun for her....NOT.

Move to Thursday....Zack wakes up....throws up.....goes back to bed. Izzy has a small cough and is not feeling well. Megan is exhausted. My allergies are flaring up. Thursday night....Meg has dance....and struggles to make it through...sleeps in Friday and eventually goes to school. Izzy stays home with a fever after missing her spring performance Thursday night. Zack goes to school. My allergies are in full affect and I am miserable all day. Chelle, starts to slide Thursday night as well....and was miserable all day Friday. We need a "quarantine" sign on our door.

Add onto this the potential job change for me and it has been a long week. I only missed one workout as this was a light training week, but with Yankee Springs looming only a few weeks away one day can make the difference. No use trying to make up the time....just gotta press forward and make sure I get some mileage in today and tomorrow.

With soccer firing up this week our schedule is jam packed every night of the week. I don't think I would have it any other way.....makes the weekends get here faster. Time does fly....for sure. In all of this week I have had high stress and no exercise...added to allergy attacks......but I have been eating fairly well. I should see another loss this week...even if it is small. I will take a .25 pound loss over a gain any week....especially when my weeks are like this one has been.

Hope everyone is doing well.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Best Recovery Ride EVER!

Ready to RIDE!!!!!
With major soreness in my legs from Barry Roubaix, I need a recovery ride on Sunday. Everyone was sorta scattered family wise. Isabel has been bugging me since last fall about when we will go riding together and I thought Sunday would be a perfect day. We loaded up the bikes and headed down to Kal-Haven Trail for a little ride. She has never ridden very far...and this test was going to be 9 miles of flat peat gravel rail trail for this little soon to be 8 year old.

Kal-Haven Trail
We headed down the trail and she was cruising right along. I was spinning an easy gear and I appreciated a rider I could keep up with. She kept making comments about falling into the water because some of the areas had higher levels from the rain, but she never did...she just kept riding.
Single speeder!
Her little engine cruised for almost 3 miles before she needed a break. Her only complaint...my seat makes my butt hurt. She didn't even want to sit on the bench. She took a sip and we hit the trail again...with about 1.5 miles to Bloomingdale for the ice cream pit stop!

Time for a rest!
We made it...and the ice cream place was CLOSED? Lucky for us there was a gas station right there as well that had some ice cream so she was very happy.....but she never sat....she stood right there and ate!

Time for a snack

After the snack we headed back to the car. She took a break part of the way back and had a drink. After a while she started complaining that she was getting tired. I told her we could take a break but she just kept going. Then we could see the building by the parking lot. The little snot sped up....feeling the end being near. She looked at me and said "I will see you at the car" in the sweetest voice ever and off she pedaled as fast as she could go. She made it to the car and collapsed into the front seat.


I am done!

I rewarded her with Subway for dinner. So proud of this little girl to get on a bike and ride 9 miles on her first go. That brings me to the title of the post. I am proud of my kids for everything that they do. From reading a book to making a healthy choice to their own endeavors. I was able to spend time yesterday with a kid that loves sports. I just cruised and listened to her talk about what she was seeing or asking about the chipmunk holes in the trail. Relaxed. Next time she wants to go further.....push to 10 miles. I will take her gladly and have Zack along to. It won't be long until these two will be leaving me behind on the road and trail while I try desperately to hold on. I thank my family for loving what I love and for supporting me at the races. I am super happy that they want to ride too.....and I am excited to see what happens!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Barry Roubaix 2012

This years edition of the Killer gravel road race was a lot different than the 2011 edition. Last year the start boasted temps in the low 20's. Today it was warmer....low 50's at the start. It rained all day Friday and I am not sure when it stopped...but the roads were wet. I was hoping for the best considering the 35 miles I was going to ride today were mostly gravel roads.

The race started just like I thought it would.....BOOM. I was trying to hold onto a wheel but the speed was just too intense. I rode with a group, but not really in a group if that makes sense. Gun Lake Road was very fast. I was really just finding my groove and my own pace. We made the turn onto Hastings Point and there was a few people on the side of the road. A racer was holding her shoulder. I hope she was okay. I was getting caught and passed by the wave that started after me at this point....and I knew Sager Road was going to be a parking lot......it was.

When I made the turn onto Sager I cleared the first climb.....and the rest...well....lets just say that the traffic jam was rough. I had to walk a little bit....the ride some more....then walk some more. When I hit the final climb there was some separation and I was able to hit the corner full speed. I took about 20 places back on that section....and lost about 40 in the next mile. Around mile 7 there is a nasty downhill left. A guy on a cross bike and I were flying over the rollers and I screamed at him "HARD LEFT HARD LEFT" as we crested the hill. Good thing too....he would have taken me out because the downhill was all chattered up. We made it safely around the corner and I burned a match on that section because it is so fast. The problem....there is a super steep climb at the end of that section.

Around mile 15 I started feeling twinges.....and I was drinking enough so I am not sure what was going on. I was forced to back off and just finish. It was still a lot of fun....torture....but fun. Stayed with pretty much the same people for miles 20-30. Finally the new section.....Sager to Shaw road. I rode as far as I could and then I had to hike. I hiked until I got to a peak and I climbed back on. The downhill was so sandy.....I was saying out loud "I AM LITE LIKE A FEATHER....LITE LIKE A FEATHER!!!!!" and making a few guys laugh. It was brutal, but I had to keep going. I made it out to Gun Lake Road and I used what power I had left to get home. I was surprised that I could still hit speeds of 16 and 17 after how I was feeling, but I got home in 2:54. 123 out of 129 in my class. Finished.

Missed my goal by a long time, but I am still fairly positive about things. I really only have 3 months of training in my legs. After not riding for the second half of 2011 I am thankful my time was that fast. I got to see a bunch of friends, teammates, and awesome riders in general. What a way to kick off the season!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The quiet before the storm

The internet has been all aflutter with topics like "Barry Roubaix" and "race season". You would think that the first race of the season is this weekend or something. Wait....it is this weekend? Oh, that is what I have been training for....in the snow....and on that damn stationary trainer. Time to see if the training has paid off.

Before I get into the BR pre-race coverage...I need to talk about my ride Sunday. The weather was beautiful. Way too beautiful for March, but I will never complain about mid 70's and sunny when we could potentially still have snow on the ground. I had ridden Barry Roubaix on Saturday so I was looking for a nice easy pace on flat ground. Dan has some broken ribs and was wanting to ride so I figured a ride with me would be just the "easy" pace that he needed. Jay showed up to for some extra miles and off we went down Kal-Haven Trail. This is an old rail trail that has been converted into a multi-use trail for walkers, runners, cyclists, and snow mobiles in the winter. Nice and easy. Not. I knew it was going to be a rough ride when we were cruising over 16 mph in the first few miles. I am not quite that strong yet...but getting stronger. I drafted off of those two all the way to Gobles...about 13 miles or so. We turned around and headed back. I gave it all I could give until my legs just would not go anymore. Jay had to take off and head home so that left Dan and I. The injured guy...and the slow guy. There was nothing tactical about my ride....I was sucking his wheel as hard as I could but I was just out of gas. Not used to the pace...and no recovery because the trail is flat. With a few miles to go Dan told me he was going to burn it out and he would meet me at the car. It jolted me a little because I did finish rather strong considering...but I was still a few minutes behind him. Overall, 27 miles of beautiful sunshine that I didn't get to enjoy....ROFL.

A solid two days of riding netted me 63 miles in two days. I cannot complain a bit, but I am really glad Monday was a rest day!

Now....Barry Roubaix is in 4 days. I am almost ready, but I do have a few more training rides to complete first.  I have set a goal that I really want to hit. 2 hours and 35 minutes. Steep for me, but it was pointed out to me that I have the potential to achieve the goal....I just need to believe in myself. I am ready. Ready to push my heart rate to the max and hold it there for two and a half hours. I have been getting some advice on tactics for this race too. I never imagined that I would need any sort of tactic to help my time, but I assure you...I will need a few trick in order to reach my goal time. All I know is this.....I will race my ass off wearing my Custer Cyclery kit and I will cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

Thanks to my friends that give me the encouragement to race my bike. Thank you to my beautiful wife and my awesome kids for giving me the support to train. I might post again before the race.....but if not. Good luck to my teammates. Everyone be safe. See you at the finish line.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Last Barry Roubaix training ride...

Surprisingly enough.....there were not very many people at the campground this morning. With temps in the mid 50's and the race next weekend I figured that there would be a ton of people. When I pulled into Yankee Springs Recreation Area Jay was already there along with a couple of guys. Empty? At 8am? So.....the Long Lake Center must be packed!

Well....it was just Jay and I....so off we went not knowing what the roads would have in store for us. It rained all night in this area....so we figured we would test the roads and if it was nasty the just ride the pavement. The road into the campground was wet....but I was surprised when we hit the first dirt road that it was dry. Perfect in fact. The rain beat down the grating that the county did last week. The Long Lake center......a few cars. Strange.

The ride was going pretty good. We were making pretty good time. Jay would ride away up the hills and wait for me then we would press on. I was still expecting to see a ton of people catching and passing us....but there were only a few. Three of the guys that passed were from the Priority Health team...and those guys are crazy fast. They pass like I am standing on the side of the road. When they passed a kid walked out and asked if the race was today. I told him the race is next weekend and he said "see you then". I am not sure if I should take that a token of good faith...or an ominous warning. Perhaps he will be waiting with a glass of water.....or a stick to ram into my spokes.......a nice pb &J, or his leashed dog ready to release for an attack. I guess we will find out next week.

The rest of the ride was pretty solid....until Sager Road on the return trip. Jay and I blasted straight into Sager Road and and into the sand. Jay cleared the first section, but I was too tired...and too heavy to make it through. Only problem we had....we missed our turn off. Here is a video of the new section....our wrong turn was about 42 seconds in. The route that we rode was purely uphill....and basically unrideable. I would describe it as miserable.

Once we got thru we made the turn north and finally reached Gun Lake Road. 5 miles to go and all pavement. I was slow on the road back. I was in cruise control....but had zero power. I think walking for a long distance up those hills on Sager...and my legs were shot. I rolled to the car with 35 miles on my computer....and just under 3 hours on my watch. Slow....but promising.

The race is next week.....and I have a steep goal of 2:35 for a finishing time. That means I need to shave a staggering 25 minutes off my time from today. I believe I lost around 15 minutes due to our wrong turn. At race pace.....the goal is still steep.....but I need to shoot for it. Shoot for the stars....if you fall short....at least you made it to the moon.....




Friday, March 16, 2012

Sweat

I missed an opportunity to ride outside Thursday evening. My daughter has dance for nearly 2 hours and I was going to throw the bike on the car and ride while she was dancing. The weather was beautiful as Southwest Michigan was setting record highs for the second day in a row. It didn't work out for me to bring my bike, other business needed to be attended to.....but I plan to take it next week.

So....I tortured myself on the trainer yet again. It was nice though to have the windows open. The smell of the fresh air and the sounds of the neighbors fighting, along with Iceman playing on the television made the ride feel like I was outside....without the wind, dogs, drivers, and potholes.

My first race of the season, Barry Roubaix, is in 8 days. We have one more weekend of training and then a mixed bag of riding during the week leading up to the race. I am majorly refocused and following a training schedule for the first time ever. Two weeks now I have followed the program and have noticed some improvements. I have also been watching what I eat closer and have managed to drop some weight in the last two weeks. This week is shaping up to be another solid loss. Which brings me to the title of the post....Sweat.

Last night on the trainer I could feel my core temperature rise very quickly. With temps outside in the mid 70's the house was definitely warmer. Even with a fan I was sweating earlier in the ride....which is great for the weight loss aspect of things. The funny thing was....nearly 20 minutes after my ride and after my shower I was getting ready to lay down to sleep and I was still sweating. Normally once I get out of the shower I feel relaxed and my core temperature is down to normal. Last night was different....maybe my metabolism is finally getting revved up and working harder towards my goals.

I hope so......I have some major carrots to chase in the next few weeks......

Monday, March 12, 2012

Long weekend

As always this early in the season I ride outside when I can. This weekend offered up two days for me to ride outside. A group of 7 of us hit Barry Roubaix on Saturday morning. Temps were in the 20's again, but the sun was out and temps were going to approach 60. Unfortunately, I still had to dress warm....double layer of socks, toe covers, pants, under armor, and wool jersey along with a set of ear warmers and dual layered gloves. Yuk. At any rate, we headed out for 31 miles of torture. Jody, Dwight, Charles, Eric, J.J., Jay and I headed out.

Conditions were awesome. It may sound dumb, but the torture this course dishes out brings a smile to my face. I see the hills and just think "what the hell am I doing". I was feeling pretty good. Our groups kept breaking into fractions of riders stringing out for a mile or so at a time. Dwight and Jay led the charge. Jody and I rode together, then Eric and I, and then solo again. It was musical riders! lol. We plugged on and would regroup at the intersections.

I started to think about the race. How will the pace be? What will the weather be like? What the hell am I doing? I just kept plugging along and looking at the hills. Making mental notes of mileage, what kind of hill, what is to come.....Damn it's windy. I got to the last turn before the pavement ride to the finish and I stopped to make sure the rest of the group was coming. Once they caught up I hit the pedals again for the remaining 5 miles. Pavement....finally. The home stretch where I proved to myself what kind of rider I want to be nearly a year ago. I don't feel like I have the power I had last year, or maybe it is just because I am heavier, but it felt good to get on the pavement and push the pace. The long long climb is just brutal. I feel like I am spinning forever to reach the top. Finally the peak, and time for a descent. Just a week ago this descent was pretty hairy. Blinding snow made the descent seem short, but the sun on Saturday was making it just awesome. I flew up to the stop sign, rolled the intersection and powered to the Long Lake Outdoor center to finish. Just over 3 hours. Not super fast, but faster than last week. I was left hopeful that I can eclipse my time from last year and make a nearly 10 minute improvement.

Sunday temps were supposed to be in the 60's and I could not pass up another opportunity to ride. Dan and I got to Yankee Springs around 11 and headed down the warm up loop to wait for the rest of the group. It felt pretty good to be riding in shorts....considering how many layers I had on just 24 hours earlier. When we got back to the trail head Paul, Summer and Jody were there getting ready. Off we went! I was feeling okay but I could tell I was riding sloppy. I was bouncing around and barely staying on the trail for the simple fact that I was worn out from riding Saturday. I was feeling okay until the trench climb. Legs just went....blah. I just dropped into granny and spun until I got to the top. I will keep riding....but I am gonna be slow. The group was waiting for me...and off we went yet again.

The rest of the ride was brutal. Legs had no umph. What I did do was tell them to shut up and keep going. I only missed two climbs...and it wasn't by very much....one of them was because of sloppy handling skills. When the mat climb presented itself Dan said "go" and even though I was 100% ready to throw in the towel and walk, I rode up that damn hill for only about the 4th time ever. Made it. Now can I stop? Nope...still 5 miles to go.

I finished by myself. Back of the pack. Done. 13 more miles. Today was a rest day...thankfully. I am feeling it from two days of hard riding. I will be stronger tomorrow. I am stronger today. I told my legs they were dumb pistons...and they were not allowed to stop.....I overpowered my legs with my mind. One more step on the long road that I am on. Slowly....but surely....I will get there......

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weakness leaving the body....

It is said that weakness is pain leaving the body. After my ride on Saturday morning I have determined that I must have a lot of weakness in my body.....but I got rid of about three hours of it. Jay B., Dan S. and I headed out to get some Barry Roubaix training Saturday morning. A high wind advisory ended at 7am, but it was still super windy. Temps were in the low 30's and snow was in the forecast.

I got to the meeting spot at 7:50 and Jay was already there. It has snowed some, but the roads were not slippery. The wind was making the trees sway and make eerie sounds. Once we got started I thought I was having issues with my bike, but it was just the trees making strange noises.

The ride started innocently enough....pavement for a few miles. The problem is....there is not really any flat ground on the Barry course. Either rolling hills or BIG hills. After about 5 miles I was still not feeling warmed up so I stopped at the top of a hill. Jay and Dan were out of sight over the next hill, but I had to try to get my heart rate under control. I stopped, took a gel, and gained some composure back. I was hurting 5 miles into a 30 mile ride. Legs were just heavy. Not really hurting.....just felt like I had no energy. Press on.

The snow was falling off and on for the next two hours. It would fall heavier when the wind would get really blowing, but it wasn't terrible....until later. I soldiered on. Long climb, steep climb, long climb, long climb. Legs wanting to quit after every pedal stroke. I started to feel a twinge in my left knee....on the back of the leg. As the title of this post state....I considered it to be weakness leaving the body. Pressing onward and upward I was feeling better. The middle part of the ride was not too bad. I just rode my pace and figured I would catch Dan and Jay whenever they needed a rest. I would see their blinky lights off and on....then nothing for periods of time.

The ground was mostly frozen, but there were those times where it felt like someone threw out an anchor. The ground would be just soft enough to grab the tires. It felt like we were riding through pudding, or peanut butter. Blah. On one stretch I realized I was approaching my little donkey friend. Last year on a training ride I was with Jon and said "what are you looking at....jackass" when we passed this farm that has a little donkey. Very funny at the time.....but I think it was a "you had to be there" moment. Anyway, in the snow this little guy looked so sad. He was just standing there looking at me with a sad face......kinda like Eeyore. I just couldn't call him a jackass....but I nodded hello to him.

The last few miles were awful. Strangely enough....it was kinda fun too. This stretch of pavement has a few long climbs and a few medium climbs. Tough enough on their own...but then add in a huge headwind and blinding snow.....weakness has no place here. I was climbing the longest hill out there....out of gas....in a blizzard. It was snowing so hard that I could not see Jay and Dan's tracks anymore....and they were only a few minutes ahead of me. I had the thought about weakness at this very moment. I was slogging up a climb, blinding snow, trying to get my glasses back on. By the time I got to the top of the hill I had snow built up on my arms and bike. It was like riding slow enough to get bitten by a mosquito......slow. The thing is....I kept going.

I may be fat. I may be slow. But I was out there Saturday in terrible conditions doing what I love. Just ride man. I had a lot of weakness leave my body Saturday.....but there is still some in there. Eventually I will get rid of as much of it as I can. The problem is......it doesn't get any easier.......I just go faster.......