Monday, August 12, 2013

Stuff I've been doing lately

Gee, it's been awhile since I posted here. I held off writing a recap of the last race because I saw photographers and wanted a picture or two first. Anyway, it went alright. I need to get a little faster though.

Since then I've been mostly just riding for fun although I should come up with a training schedule to get ready for next year pretty soon. I also got this:

It's FAST. Scary fast.  Last thursday I took it on a big ride with TNR up to Stuart peak. You can't ride all the way to the top because it is in the rattlesnake wilderness area, so we went up spring gulch to the boundary and then hiked the last 1.5 miles. Here are some pictures I took at the top:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cow Country race report

Well, after winning my first two races I suppose I had this coming. The Cow Country classic road race was last weekend and I sucked it up: couldn't hang on the first hill, gave it everything trying to catch back up for 20+ miles solo, didn't eat or drink enough, and was done with 15 miles left. I think I ended up 4th, but it wasn't even a race.

Like any good racer, I have an excuse: I went on a big hike the week before and did some trail running, which my legs are just not used to. Could barely walk for two days and while I was feeling better at the race I just wasn't 100%. Going up the first hill the legs wouldn't do what I expected of them, and I watched the break, which contained one other cat 5, pull away from me. Then another 5 passed me before the top. Shit.

Over the crest I was in catch back up time trail mode and rode really hard on my own for almost an hour. Unfortunately all I did was temporarily catch one guy while blowing out what was left of my legs.. Another guy (master a) caught us and we worked together on the hills on highway 200, then one more 5 caught up and they dropped me on another hill at about mile 30 (out of 50). By then I had not eaten anything or even finished my first bottle. Not good. Three more guys in other categories caught up soon after and we worked together most of the way to the finish. Thankfully no one else passed me.

I was feeling really bad by the end and had to lay down in my back seat for awhile before I drove home. I'm giving myself a few days off this weekend and hope to be back in good form for the state championship race in phillipsburg. So far I'm not there. Yesterday I did a pretty hard ride with a teammate and I had nothing on the hills and sprints.

On the other hand, I can't be too hard on myself or expect too much because of how new I am to this. I've only been riding seriously for two years and have not done any structured training, so I have a long way to go. I picked up a good book yesterday -the cyclist's training bible- and I'm already feeling better about myself after a few chapters. It takes 7-10 years of real training to reach your full potential, while I had started to worry that I wasn't going to get much faster. I'm looking forward to starting a real training program and picking up some new helpful gadgets down the line.

Here's the strava, which I was surprised by. Until I get power and heart rate monitors it's about the best training tool I have since while riding all I can do is go by feel.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My recent outdoor activities

Yeah, that's right, outdoor activities, as in I actually did more than ride bikes. The other day I went hiking down in the bitterroots. It did start raining way up there so I did get a little damp. And we ran into snow before we could get to the lakes up canyon creek. Really cool waterfall up there that goes a couple hundred feet down a rock face. I took a picture:

I should probably do a little more hiking and running and such because my legs are hurting quite a bit from that. Stairs kind of suck and I went on a short ride earlier that wasn't so great.

We've also had a lot of rain lately so I haven't been riding as much. I did get a few good rides in last week, with about 50mi Monday that included a couple hills, 30mi on the mountain bike up the rattlesnake corridor to the wilderness boundary, and a tough group ride Saturday. I'd never been all the way to the boundary and it was a pretty cool ride. Very wet and rocky though, with some sections where we were riding through 6" of water. A good full suspension ride would have been nice. Here are a few pictures from that one:

Saturday's ride was with other road racers and pretty fast paced. Every little hill seemed to turn into a sprint and the paceline was going 25-26 for awhile. Total mileage for me was 70, and I actually worked harder than in my last few races so I'll have to keep showing up for that one.

Next race for me is Cow Country in Wolf Creek this coming Sunday. Then I might do a time trial in Polson and the State Road Road race championship is June 15th in Phillipsburg. More info and updates can be found here. If they go as well as the last two races I'm going to see if they will let me move up to cat 4. There aren't that many races in Montana and you are supposed to do 10 before you can upgrade, so it would be like two years otherwise.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday night mountain bike ride

Every Thursday evening Aaron puts on a group mountain bike ride and so far this year the turnouts have been huge, with an average of about 15 riders. Last night we went up mt Sentinel and it was really nice out and I took a few pictures:

I went down the "chopsticks" descent faster than I have ever gone and got a rear pinch flat at the end, likely due to hitting a sharp rock at high speed. According to gps I was going nearly 25mph when it happened so that was a little scary. I thought I was okay on pressure with about 38-40psi in the rear but I guess I need to go back up a few psi. Either that or I need a new bike with tubeless 29" wheels.

If you're interested in coming out to a TNR, the rides are posted on the website

And here's the strava link

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Eden road race report

I raced my bicycle again today, this time in Great Falls, MT. My dad was nice enough to come with to go play golf with a friend so I didn't have to drive or pay for gas. Score! The course was also fully paved, it was sunny and 70, and there was barely any wind, which is rare for that part of the country.

The field was a little smaller and they grouped the cat 4s and 5s together, which meant I was racing with more people and faster riders. Scores were still calculated separately so it would not have mattered if every cat 4 had just ridden ahead of every cat 5, but obviously we all wanted to hang with the group so it made the racing harder, and more fun.

The pace picked up at about mile 10 (out of 45) when two cat 4s made a break for it. I was hanging out in the middle of the pack not really paying attention, but still tried to go with. It didn't quite work out and I ended up in no-man's land for a couple miles before I decided I was better off letting the 3 guys behind me catch up so we could work together. That was two other 5s and a 4 who was trying to get us all to bridge the gap. We did make up ground for awhile, but I didn't really have a lot of motivation to kill myself trying to catch those two 4s and we were comfortably ahead of everyone else.

The course was out and back and out and back again, which started with a gradual climb up 1200ft over 10 miles. Then we went down a steep hill, turned around and climbed back up 500ft, went down the other side, turned around and did it again. By the time we hit the top the 2nd time for the home stretch it was three of us and the other two guys were pretty far ahead. Then at about mile 37 I found myself with a small gap on them going up a roller and decided to go for it.

My initial thought was "gee, this is stupid, you'll never stay out front all the way back," but I got down low in the drops, stuck my head down and kept going. Lots of doubt those first few miles but then I looked back to see I was pulling away, and I still felt good with something like 5 to go. I kept at it, and finished pretty far ahead. That race was about the hardest I've ever worked and by the end my sunglasses were so covered in dried sweat that I could barely see out of them.

So I won another race and ended up 3rd overall in the 4/5 pack. Unfortunately I got no prizes. And didn't take any pictures. Here's the strava:

And here's elevation, speed, and cadence for the last 10 miles. You can see where it turned into a time trial:

Friday, May 3, 2013

This week in riding

Was pretty lazy this week and drank a lot of beer. Monday I tried to go on a mountain bike ride but we were turned back by wind and rain. Ended up at the Kettlehouse for a beer instead. I made up for it though at the Missoula Bicycle Works evening road ride. It was Jesse's first ride on his Kona red zone and we broke it in by cranking up a few hills in the rattlesnake so at least I got a bit of a workout.

Tuesday it was cold, windy, and snowed so I took the day off.

Wednesday I was pretty busy. Built Lego with my cousin's son, got a hair cut, and got in a short road ride. My plan was to do either two repeats up pattee canyon or 4-5 trips up the steep neighborhood across from my house but I didn't have time to do quite that much because I had to be at my friend Rachel's house by 5 to go on a mountain ride. We did a short loop up sawmill gulch and the fenceline trail, which still worked out to like 17 miles since we started in town. Then we went to the Kettlehouse again and got tacos afterward.

Even after that I was feeling a little lazy going into the Thursday Night Mountain ride at blue mountain. Thankfully we ended up doing a ton of climbing. The last part of this section up to hayes point is ridiculously steep and I was very glad for the triple crank and 26" wheels. I was not happy about how much the mountain bike weighs that I have been borrowing from dad. Descent from the top had a cool rocky and steep technical section and then we hit the motorcycle trail which had smooth banked turns. Then we went to The Bridge for dinner where I had a few beers. Not content, I picked up a completely unneccessary 6-pack and bag of chips on the way home.

That brings us to today. Went out to lunch (again), drank an iced tea loaded with sugar, and ate some cheetos. ugh. Did get another mountain ride in with Rachel -20 miles with almost 2000 vertical feet- but at the same time I never really felt like I was working. Then went to Kettlehouse again, then went to The Bridge again, and now I'm drinking more beer again. Oh, and I saw Sam Schultz at the bridge which was pretty cool.

Tomorrow is the brewfest, and this whole week has been craft beer week so I guess that counts as an excuse for all the drinking I've been doing lately. Sunday is the Eden road race in Great Falls though so I have to take it easy on the beers. Really looking forward to that although it looks like I'm going to be solo again. The only other cat 5 racer on the team is going to spokane for the bloomsday run and I don't know if anyone else is even going. My plan is to make a break for it going over the hill for the second time but I have no idea if that will work.

Also, I got asked to race 24 hours of Rapelje as part of a 3 person team. That will certainly be interesting.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rocky mountain roubaix 2013

Just did my first ever official race, the Rocky Mountain Roubaix (My actual first race was a couple weeks ago but it wasn't sanctioned or categorized or anything). Being Montana, "road race" does not mean fully paved, and there were a couple sections of dirt on this one. For us cat 5s it was 31 miles where we went out, did a loop, and then came back, with about 8mi on dirt. The higher categories had to do extra loops for either 40, 50, or 60mi. It was a very cool course with not too much climbing, good scenery, and finished with a climb just north of Frenchtown.

We had about 15 guys in cat 5, and things did not get off to a very good start. 2.5 miles in we had a two person crash that I don't even know how happened. There were 3 guys on the university team at the front and I was a couple spots back from there, when all of the sudden one of the U guys goes down into the ditch and another guy goes right over the top of him, right next to me. They both got up, no damage, nothing hurt, and we slowed down a bit to let them catch up. The U guy did have to ride the rest of the race with a really crooked saddle though. Then we turned up the first little climb and the road turned to dirt. After the "race" I did a couple weeks ago that was all sorts of dirt, rocks, and loose gravel I wasn't phased at all but everyone else seemed to slow up. I was not there for an easy Sunday ride and also didn't want a big group at the finish so I headed to the front and picked up the pace. Then at mile 7.5 my GPS fell the bike and I kind of sat up and said "shit, I just lost my gps," the UM dude behind me (not the guy that crashed) yells "we're in a break keep going!" I looked back to see 4-5 guys and a gap to the field, and pushed a little harder until we took a left and headed back downhill onto pavement. At that point I eased up a bit hoping one of the other guys would take over, but they all stuck behind me and a few people caught up before we hit the bottom and turned back up onto ninemile road.

From there we had 8-9 and just after we turned onto ninemile road the UM guy tried to make a break for it at about mile 12 on a small hill. I felt like it was a little early and didn't want to expend the energy sprinting up the hill to go with. I did pick up the pace over the crest and reeled him back in within a mile or two. At that point I was kind of getting sick of doing all the work, but felt fine, and slowed down a bit. I let myself slip toward the back of our group but then we hit the dirt again and climbed up to the highest point of the race. People kept falling off as the leaders charged up the rollers and I just made sure to stay with them. By the time we hit the descent back to pavement there were only three: me, a really young guy, and that university rider from before.

It was about 5 miles with a tailwind back into town and we worked together to stay ahead of everyone else, although with the strong tailwind leading and drafting felt pretty similar. The finish was at the top of a 1k climb that went up about 200ft. All three of us turned the corner up the hill and into the wind at basically the same time- younger guy was a bit back, me and the U rider were next to each other. I turned up the hill, got into the little ring, and the U rider pulled into my draft which was probably pretty nice. About halfway up the first steep section I heard him going for it and he pulled even with my back wheel so I had to stand up too. I put a little space on him and sat back down. I had checked out the course the day before and knew that where it leveled off for a little I could probably get back into the big ring and hammer to the finish, but I didn't know exactly where the line was going to be and wanted to conserve as much energy as possible before then. Plus I was a little worried about making that shift under load at a slow cadence. I glanced back to find I was comfortably ahead at that point so I just dropped a couple of gears and kept pedaling. Then I came around the last corner, saw a 10m marker,  looked up, and the line was right there. Such a great feeling to roll across that line first and with all three of us going into the last stretch it actually seemed a little anti-climactic.

I got some prizes. The winners of the masters categories got beer, and they were announced before us, so I was pretty disappointed to not get a 12 pack when I went up there.

Did get some bread, flowers, a fat tire jersey, and some drink mix, and had a full growler of summer honey waiting in the fridge:

And here's the podium:

photo by Tom Robinson via

And also I drove up the course and found the garmin later. Looking forward to the Eden road race in Great Falls next weekend.