Monday, June 28, 2010

Early Mornings - Rocks First, Then Sand

In a small way I envy the few who can plan a whole day around the optimal time to get some training in.  Admittedly, many of these people are also professional athletes and have much more pressure to perform well in a race situation than I do.  They are tasked with intense training regimens created by talented coaches all designed to produce the best performance possible.

As for me (a 30 something father of 4 kids under 8yrs with a full-time IT career)?  I am in the pursuit of the fantastic more than anything.  I realize I will never go pro racing mountain bikes but still I dream that it might someday be a possibility and train as if it is a reality.  I get up early and ride like I am going to win.  Like many others in my shoes, I enjoy the competition and am not satisfied by just doing well:  I want to crush all of the 30-39 non-pro riders I can in every race (I want to crush the pro riders as well but all I see are clouds of dust in the distance).  It is the competitive spirit and the euphoria that comes from training hard, doing your best, and succeeding that drives many of us to suit up and race.

When I decided to start up a more than casual training and racing routine, I promised myself and my wife, that I would follow one important rule: rocks first, then sand.

 There is a popular demonstration using rocks, sand, and a glass jar that illustrates the point.  The goal of the demonstration is to try to fill the jar with a carefully measured pile of rocks and sand without overfilling.  The volume of the rocks + sand is equal to the volume in the glass jar.  Placing the rocks in the jar first allows room for the sand to fill in the small voids between the rocks without overfilling.

Putting the sand in first is another story.  I'll let you try that one out.

This analogy can be made for various aspects of life.  For me it applies to life balance and priority. Some of my rocks in this instance include: family, service, church, career, etc.  My sand? Pretty much everything else training, riding, racing included.  Invariably my rocks seems to take up the optimal time slots in the day leaving the fringes of daylight hours for training.  Over time I have learned to enjoy early morning and late evening rides.  There is something about greeting the sunrise or sunset in the saddle that can't be explained, just experienced.  I find the same satisfaction spending time with family during the times when I should be there for them.  Things seems to balance out nicely when one puts first things first.

For now, I'll continue to fill my jar with rocks first and get up early to fill in the sand...

Friday, June 25, 2010

An Afternoon In Indian Creek

Some of my most memorable riding experiences have been pedaling through the winding and relatively remote trails of Indian Creek.  It was here 4 years ago with encouragement from friends I entered world of mountain biking again after close to a 5-year hiatus. Unlike many of the more common and well traveled trails in Douglas and Jefferson County (Deer Creek, Mount Falcon, Apex, Green Mountain, Chimney, White Ranch), Indian Creek provides a level of solitude and most importantly to me yesterday - shade.  It was 93 F in the car on my drive to the trailhead!

One of the draws to these trails is the challenging terrain: winding climbs with roots and rocks that seem to go straight up at times.  Tight and fast singletrack with huge rises that force both tires into flight.  It is  impossible to ride these trails without getting a good workout.

There are a number of stream crossings to navigate on the trail.  During the fall these dry up but today they were flowing with clear water. Some of them have bridges in various forms while others require one to splash on through.  I usually walk across this one because I'm a wussy and don't want to get wet.  I know someone that will pay 5 bones for video proof of a wheelie over it though (Danny MacAskill you are excluded).

Did I mention singletrack?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back In The Saddle - Ride To Work Day

Today marks the first day I've saddled up on a bike since The Bailey Hundo 100 mile race last Saturday.     It seemed to be a good time to start up the training again for the Breckenridge 100 next month.  Another good reason to get back on the bike is because it was Bike to Work Day here in the  Front Range.  I usually ride in a few times a week so this is no big change to my routine, just a nudge to get rolling again.

As usual, in addition to my regular cycling attire I was hauling a 14 pound backpack with a small laptop, lunch, and work clothes to change into.  It's not exactly fun to haul this extra stuff on a bike but I took advantage of the extra weight to test out the legs on a few hills during my 10 mile ride in.  Surprisingly things felt good considering the punishment my body took less than 4 days ago.  I plan to hit the trails tomorrow afternoon for 2-3 hours and start in earnest to train for success next month (finishing the Breck 100 is considered success in my book).

Oh, and one more thing... When you ride to work it is important to plan for a change of shoes.  I had to roll like this all day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

2010: The Bailey Hundo

Last Saturday I took to the singletrack with 150 others to take on 100 miles of terrain outside of Bailey, Colorado for the  Inaugural Bailey HUNDO.  The field was stacked with the likes of Dave Wiens and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and a host of riders that would finish the race, have a long shower, and a good meal before I pushed rubber across the finish line.

A week prior to the race I took some time to ride the first 25 miles of the course which did not dissapoint.

The course map and elevation profile.

The race started at 6:00AM with a shotgun blast.

We were then off screaming down a short section of pavement and on to a few miles of dirt road with a number of good climbs to get the blood pumping.  I started in the middle of the pack but quickly jumped up to the back of the lead group of riders (you know just to see what it's like to be a real mountainbike racer).  About 9 miles in we cut left onto the colorado trail and started a healthy dose of some fine singletrack.

The singletrack rolled through the Buffalo Creek trail system and parts of the Colorado Trail eventually dropping us out at Platte River Road some 60+ miles later.  After a quick swap at the aide station there (one of 10 along the course) to grab fresh bottles and gel flasks, it was back on the bike for some road riding.

I managed to pass a lot of riders in the previous 60+ miles and was feeling the effects of that effort.  A few of the riders I had overtaken previously rode strong to pass as I suffered a low point in the race.  I spent this time refueling and watching the knobs on my front tire as I spun along in the big ring.  The people floating down the Platte river in tubes drinking cold beverages didn't help much.

After way too much pavement, the course took a left onto some dirt road which immediately started climbing.  For some reason hitting dirt got the blood pumping back again and I started digging in.  The road kept climbing though and didn't offer any relief until just prior to Wellington Lake.  It was here 1 last rider passed me and disappeared over the next hill.  I followed catching a glimpse of him over the next few miles but lost him a few miles from Bailey.

Finally my front tire hit pavement again which marked the last mile of road back into Bailey.  I was happy it was going to be an easy coast back into town and the finish.  Wrong!  Just before I hit town there was a corner marshall and an arrow to the right leading a bumpy dirt road down the river.  Not too bad I though an easy coast down the dirt road to the finish.  Wrong again!  A mile or so in, another right turn ending at a steep winding hill.  Surprise!!! I dropped into granny gear, closed my eyes, ignored the cramps, and rode to the top.  It was there that I saw the yellow tape, a bunch of cars, and yes, the FINISH BABY!  My first 100 in the books.

I learned shortly after that I was the first one in my category (30-45) to finish the race placing me 25th overall with a time of 8 hours 16 min.  Sweet bonus points!  Perhaps the coolest part of the whole race was meeting new people.  Dave Wiens was kind enough to sit down and chat with us post-race... An amazingly cool guy.

Shown below is the little award I received for pulling off a 1st place in the 30-45 classification.  Also some signatures on my race number from Dave Wiens and JHK.

The Bailey Hundo - MountainFlyer Magazine
Another Day with JHK: Going Long -