Sunday, August 22, 2010

2nd Riding Vacation.

My second riding vacation actually included two races: the Metamora 4x50 on-road and the Leadville 100 offroad bike races. I'll post about those seperately. This post will just be related to the travels and travails of the last two weeks.

Trisha, Katelyn and I took off for Metamora, IL in the hairless mammoth pulling the bike trailer on Thursday morning, August 5th. This would be Katelyn's last trip for the summer as she had to start school down in Natchitoches on the 14th. Allen and Rachel were burned out on traveling on the last road trip to NY. Their loss.

The first day we drove up to Perryville, MO. There is a nice RV Park right near the interstate on the way to St. Louis. We stopped in and got a great spot that allowed us to power both the van and trailer which meant Katy had the trailer to herself and didn't have to use the small bed in the van. It also meant Trish and I got the camper all to ourselves.

The next morning I got in a little ride on the frontage road on the interstate and we jumped in the RV so we could get to Van City RV when they opened. The new RV had a couple of warranty issues and they were able to knock them out quickly. Then we went to Walmart to get some last minute items and emerged a half hour later after spending well over $200. We had decided to pickup a small portable printer to hook up to the computer and some movies to watch in the RV along with other spur of the moment items.

We headed out toward Metamora around 10:00. It was a nice day (first day below 100 in a month) so we stopped at a wayside to eat some lunch then finished the drive up to Peoria and checked into the hotel. After getting everything situated at the hotel we drove over to Metamora to find the race site and to predrive the course. This turned out to be more of a challenge than I had hoped. After getting to the race site we headed north on the course. Less than 1/2 mile into the race - fresh chip seal. I mean, put down that mornng fresh. So we continued on, but missed the first turn. There is no place for turning the hairless mammoth with trailer around on IL farming roads, so it was up to the next interestion then back to the route, almost. We missed the turn back onto the route because the road was called something different. So we went back almost to the start and did it again.

By the time we got back on route we decided that we should try to find the 2nd support location which was supposed to be on road 1800. So we continued on 1800 road east. Oops, Road Closed. We drove a mile south to 1700 road. Road Closed. Down to 1600 Road. Same thing, but now we head to 1600 west and it was only gravel. Oh well, so much for preriding the course and finding the support location. It was time to drive to the host hotel and register. At least this went well. No roads were closed and the hotel had a good parking spot for the beast.

Registration started at 5 and was quick and painless. Joe got Trisha a route around the construction so she could get to the 2nd support location. We cooled our heels in the lobby chatting with racers as they came and went, waiting for the pre race dinner at a chain Italian restaurant and pizzaria. The food was much better than we were led to believe and the conversation was excellent.

Saturday, August 7th, Race Day - Finished 5th overall. Larry Ide didn't race but came down after the race and Trish and I went with Larry and John and Jay for dinner and talked about long races and how to finish them - something that I was very interested in with the Tejas 500 looming in the back of my mind.

Sunday was a travel day and was pretty much an unevenful crossing of Iowa and 1/2 of Nebraska as we came to rest at Ft Kearny State Park around 4 in the afternoon. Once we got to camp things got more interesting. Trish and Katy took off shoping while I stayed back at the site and did some bike maintenance.

My bike maintenance consisted of lubing up the the chain and cleaning off all of the road grime from the road bike and putting on a new chain on my mountain bike. Cleaning and lubing the road bike went fine. Then I removed the old chain from the mtn bike and cut the new chain to the same length and put in on the MTB. This process went fine, but the bike had a tremendous amount of chainsuck. I shifted into BIG/BIG and oops - it wouldn't shift back out. The chain was too small. The only way to fix the problem was to break a link and put the old chain back on. After putting the chain back on I did some spinning around the campsite and down a local trail and waited for the women to return.

Their shopping experience wasn't as smooth as the wanted it to be, but they returned with the essentials for camping in the park. Beer, Burgers, Buns, Bug Spray, Charcoal, and Lighter Fluid? Nope, no lighter fluid. This posed a small problem - how to light charcoal without lighter fluid. We gather some small twigs and paper to try to get the fire going, but no luck. Then Katy said - "Dad, the bug spray says its extremely flamable". Don't try this at home, but Off bug spray pretty much works like a torch. We got the paper and sticks to light and then applied THE TORCH. After awhile we had the charcoal lit and were grilling some burgers.

Our goal for Monday was to get to Oscar's home around 6 in the evening so that meant we had a little time to kill in Kearny. I woke up and did a quiet 20 mile road ride to the south of the park and then came back and cooked up some breakfast for everyone. We had a slight problem at the campsite. The showers took quarters and we only had enough for Katy to get a shower. After Katy was all cleaned up we headed to a mountain bike trail on the northwest side of the city, where Trish dropped me off at the trail head and took Katy to the washateria to start a couple loads of laundry and pickup quarters so we could go back and shower. I rode for about an hour then Trish and I headed back to the campsite and cleaned up, packed up and picked up Katelyn and headed for Denver.

We arrived at Oscar and Hala's place around 5:30 and proceeded to dinner at Pappadeaux Restaurant. The have some of the best canjun foods in or out of Louisiana. After dinner we headed back to the house to smoke a hookah. The hookah, or what I would have called an extremely fancy bong back in college, was from Lebanon where Hala was born. We had some apple flavored concoction which was ok but??? Then it was off to bed.

The goal for Tuesday was to preride the first section of the Leadville course and get a feel for riding at about 10,000 ft elevation. After Oscar and Hala headed off to work we made the two hour drive up the mountain to Leadville. I broke out my bike and headed off for a 3 hour tour, while Katy and Trisha explored the city. The ride was ok, missed a turned and had to climb back up the mountain on the road but all was good. I got back to the van and the girls were napping inside so we packed up and headed back down the mountain. I think Trish was suffering a little from the altitude and maybe some bad chili, but we made it back down to Oscars at around 5.

My BIL (Brother-In-Law) Ralph, or Skip as he is also known, met us at about 5:30 with Trisha's Car. Trish and Katy were headed home on Wednesday and Skip was going to be my crew for Leadville and then we were going to do some riding on the way back. We moved stuff between the car and van and got ready to out to Hala's brother's Lebanese restaurant. I couldn't tell you anything that I ate, but it was all delicious.

Wednesday morning saw Trisha and Katy heading home and Skip and I on a bike tour of southern Denver. Denver has one of the greatest bike trail systems I've ever seen - only rivalled by Anchorage, AK. We started out our exploration by picking up the trail about 1/2 mile from Oscars house in Centennial and heading north. We rode the Canal trail in Cherry Creek until it dead ended at a golf course. If you ever want to go on a tour of homes by bike this would be the way to go. Many multi-million dollar properties along the route. Once the trail dead eneded, we back tracked to Quincy Avenue and rode the bike path east.

We stopped around 10:00 in the morning at Subway for some breakfast and then continued east to Cherry Creek state park and rode there until noonish. We started our trek back and found the bar that was in the same shopping center as Subway. It was good for a couple of pints and burger and fries. Then it was time for the ride home. Ralph was pretty much done - we had gotten in 44 miles which was about 10 miles further than he had ever ridden so it was a good day for him and fun day for me. We had about 5 hours until Oscar was going to be home so we started sampling the beers that were in the cooler and chilaxing at the house. We celebrated Ralph's long ride by going out for sushi. Lava Rolls are a spicy shrimp, cream cheese deep fried sushi and they are the best sushi ever.

Thursday morning was the day we headed up to Dillon to stage for the Leadville race, but first Oscar wanted us to try a Denver Delicacy. Santiagos breakfast burritos. So we drove with Oscar to Santiago on our way out of town and his way to work. We picked up a couple of burritos and some coffee. The burritos were good, but a little spicy.

We arrived in Dillon at about 10:30 and parked at the hotel and broke out the bikes. Today we were going to be riding the bike path around Lake Dillon. We found that this was not an easy ride. It starts off nice and easy in Dillon at around 9000', but once you make your way to the south side of the lake you must climb over a pretty good mountain at about 9600' to get to the west side and Frisco.

Frisco is a great place and has a nice brew pub called the Back Country Brewery which has an awesome beer called Switchback Amber. I know this because after we climbed over the mountain and started making our way back to Dillon we decided to stop for lunch. The BCB is on the 2nd story and has a back deck that looks out over the mountains. Since the temp was in the 70's it was definitely the place to be. We sat outside and enjoyed the cuisine and brew and talked with a couple of frisbee golfers from Illinois that were out for the week. Ask me later about one guy's stories about Amsterdam. After lunch we spun back to the hotel.

Friday was Leadville check in and racer briefing. The check in was at 8 and went smoothly and the racer briefing wasn't until 11:00 so we had time to drive out to the two aid stations so that Ralph could figure out where he would park and do hands-ups. There wasn't very good information or markings for either but I had a general idea of where he would be so we were set and headed back for the briefing. This was both a joke and pain in the ass. The briefing was set to begin at 11:00 so, after wandering the town, we meandered over to the location at 10:40 and found a line 3 blocks long. We walked to the end of the line and ran into Mike F from Little Rock. The line got longer and finally started moving at about 11. I finally got to the door at about 11:10 and they said that the auditorium was full, but it didn't matter because they weren't taking attendance. Afterward I was told it was nothing but a pep rally. It annoyed me to stand around for nothing, so Skip and I headed down to a local watering hole for some lunch and beverages.

To get from Leadville to Dillon you travel on CO 91 which is about 20 miles long and crosses the continental divide at the headwaters of the Arkansas River. It meets I70 at Cooper Mountain which is about 7 miles west of Frisco and it's all downhill. There is a bike trail that runs along I70 from Vail to Dillon. I jumped on the trail at Cooper Mountain and raced Ralph down to Back Country Brewery. He won, but only by a couple of minutes. We grabbed another Switchback Amber at the bar. We were going to buy a pig of it (mini keg) but they wanted a 16 dollar deposit so we just bought a 12 pack of 22 ouncers for the rest of trip.

I rode back into Dillon and met Skip at the hotel where we got on the bikes and headed out to find another pub. This might not have been the greatest race prep but it was fun. We stopped and played a game of pool and drank a beer at a hole-in-the-wall bar then meandered back to the hotel to clean up for dinner. We stopped at the Araphoe Cafe. I ordered a full rack of ribs because I thought I was hungry and I thought I knew how big a full rack of ribs was. I was wrong. I was hungry, but their full rack of ribs was cut in half and both halves covered the plate. I've been getting ripped off at most rib places, especially at Chili's. Speaking of Chili's, skip it unless it the only restaurant in town. Most everything is over priced, undersized and accompanied with poor service. Okay. that's just Chili's in North Little Rock.

Saturday was Leadville: 10:36 minutes. 3rd Arkansan to Finish and 474th out of 1022 that actually finished out of 1600+ that started. Details in the Leadville Blog.

Sunday was Leadville Adwards Ceremony. This was another cluster like the pre-race breifing. It was held in the same auditorium so you know there wasn't room for everyone. It started at 8:30 and was nothing but an over-priced waste of time (much like most Ironman Awards Breakfasts). But they have you captive if you want to pickup your finishers belt buckle and sweatshirt - both of which are cool. Levi Leipheimer scored big with the fans by being too lazy to show up for the ceremonies. Nice - win the race, but snub everyone by being an hour late to the ceremony. Problem was the promoter made a big deal of him showing up and gave him the mike to speak. Solution to everyone that does Leadville. If you want to claim your awards, skip the first hour of the ceremony then divide your position by 10 to figure out when to show to collect your award. Since I was 474th, I could have been an hour and 47 minute late and still been there in time. Enough bitching about the awards.

After the award ceremony we went back Frisco to hook up the trailer and drive to Grand Junction for the next couple of days. We had a coupon for Smash Burger so we stopped in - they are goooood. The drive put us in Grand Junction around 5:00 with the temps back around 100 degrees... so long to the mountains and 70's for highs. We hit the grocery store and bought burgers, other stuff and lighter fluid so that we could cook us some good burgers and have a great meal.

Monday was Moab. Skip had been mountain biking in WY during the summer and somebody told him Moab was the place to go. While we were at Smash Burger a rider said that if we were there for a day we need to hit Slick Rock because it was like noplace else on earth so we got up at 4:30 on Monday and made the 2 hour drive to Moab and Slick Rock.

We unloaded the bikes and away we went. Slick Rock really is like no place I've ever ridden before. It's nothing but barren rock with a white dotted line painted on the ground to tell you where to ride. Sometimes it up the side of big rock, in which case I dismount and push, and sometimes it's down the same rock which is much more fun. After two miles of the trail Ralph decided that he had bit off a little more that he could chew so we turned around and headed back to the trail head.

I told Ralph "No worries". I know there is much better riding than Moab and that's Fruita, CO which was only 30 minutes from where we were camping. So we drove back to the Kokopeli trail head in Fruita and got in some good riding before the T-Storm hit. We drove into Fruita for lunch then came back out and put in some more time on the trails until another storm hit. It was only about two oclock so we headed up to the Colorado National Monument for some site seeing.

Coming back off the mountain into Grand Junction we could tell that there had been some significant rain for the area and some of the roads were closed due to flash floods. We meandered back to the RV Park, picking up some steaks to cook on the grill for dinner. Only problem was we had to cook in the rain. The steaks kept the charcoal dry enough once we got it started.

Tuesday morning we began our drive home. We decided to take the scenic route to Colorado Springs using US50 via Gunnison. This was a cool drive back over the continental divide. We got into Colorado Springs around 2 in the afternoon and rode up Red Rocks Canyon for our last MTB session of the Trip. This was by far Skip's favorite place to ride and I have always liked it. After the ride we continued driving thru Southeast Colorado. This is one of the most desolate places on earth. We got gas just outside of CO Springs and it's a good thing we did because we didn't see another gas station for over 100 miles. We ended up spending the night in Garden City, KS.

The reason we stopped in Garden City was that the bike map we had for KS showed a good route starting there, running south and turning east on US160. I got up in the morning and the place was fogged in so Skip and I caught some breakfast and loaded up and drove till about 7:15. The fog had finally lifted so I jumped out on 160 and got my century training ride in by 12:00. It was a fast ride.

The rest is just a drive home and I'm tired of typing so bye.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Riding Vacation.

I originally setup this blog to be able to chronicle my rides during the elite tour in May and June, but I was unable to do the elite tour and turned the blog into my race reports. Well, after the Saratoga 12 hour race I did a tour of sorts and found that it wouldn't have been practical to try to keep up the blog while doing the elite anyway. It takes more time and energy to write about what you did than to do what you did.

My plan was to try to integrate a family vacation and bike riding tour into one event. This plan had some epic fails and epic successes along the way, but mostly was a success and mostly due to Trisha keeping everything going.

To begin the epic journey to the northeast, we needed transportation and accommodations. Here is where all of my planning and energy were devoted for the week leading up to trip. I purchased a RoadTrek 210 which could carry up to 5 people and sleep Trish and I and Allen. I also recently purchased an Ultra Light Toy Hauler Trailer that would act as a bike hauler and could be transformed to sleep Katelyn and Rachel at night.

Day 1 of the Trip, (Wednesday), was traveling from Sheridan To Louisville with a stay at the KOA Campground. Here is where my daughters say my first Epic Fail of the trip occured. Basically I had two campers requiring 2 power plugs, but most campsites only have one place to plug in a 30 amp connection. We arrived at the campground around 9 at night just as it was getting dark. The temps were in the 90s so we decided to run the A/C in the Ultralite first and get it cold then switch it over to the RoadTrek for the night. My daughters were not happy by the time the morning rolled around.

Day 2 was a pretty uneventful travel day - during which time we stayed at a hotel for the night.

On Day 3 we arrived at the Schuyler Yacht Basin at noon on Friday. The husband and wife that owned the yatch basin were able to help me with my dilema regarding the power. They had a 50 amp to two 30 amp conversion cable so we had A/C in both units. The Yatch basin was a really cool place to camp.

Day 4 is covered in the race report is in a seperate blog post.

Day 5 was a travel day up to Ticonderoga to start section 11 of the Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier which runs from Ticonderoga, NY to Bar Habor, ME. After catching breakfast with the race director, we headed north for the 2 hour drive to Ticonderoga. Upon arriving in Ticonderoga we found that you had to cross to VT by Ferry and that the Ferry only operated from 8-5. Since I wanted to start riding by 6 in morning I decided that I needed to start on VT side of the water, so we drove to Middlebury and checked into a hotel around 3pm. I got my touring bike out and decided to go for a little ride around Middlebury and back to the State line.

The warmup ride from hell. I headed out of the hotel parking lot with the intention of riding the alternate route around Middlebury. I started out by missing the first turn on the map and got in about 5 bonus miles before getting back to my turn. Using the Adventure Cycle maps was going to prove to be a challenge, because the print is far too small to read without stopping. I'm used to using route sheets that are readable as you ride. After getting back on course for about 6 miles I missed another turn and hit a gravel road. I knew I was off course again so I turned around, but too late. I had flatted. This was not going to prove to be any ordinary flat changing experince. This was special. Tube 1 - I pumped up the tube with my frame pump and had it just about hard enought when, SNAP. I broke off the stem. Tube 2 - Ok, I'm going to use the inflator. Tube is changed, tire is pumped up and back on bike and I'm loading up the detritus. POP....the tube blows. TUBE 3- my last tube. I didn't know if there was a problem with the tire so I put on a new tire, put in the new tube and hand pump it up gently, because I'm out of inflators and tubes. It holds and I start riding back to the hotel. But the tire feels flat so I stop and pump in more air. Finally I make it back to the hotel. 17.2 miles.

Day 6 was the first long ride of the vacation. Trish and the kids were headed back to the Fort at Ticonderoga and I was up before 6 and headed to NH. Right out of the box I started with a 1600' climb upto Breadloaf and the SnowBowl which are at 2000'. This was a long steady steep climb topping out at 15% some places but usually 6 to 8% for about 10 miles. BreadLoaf is a really cool kind of resort with all of the buildings painted the same color. It was cool enough that I stopped and took pictures. After the SnowBowl was a 5 mile super fast down hill where I was topping 40 a couple of times but staying about 30 for the complete descent. The rest of the morning was a great ride into New Hamshire. A point of note would be Royalton which was neat and had the VT Law School. I had one other long climb in the morning at mile 55 to 60. Once I crossed the Connecticut River into New Hamshire I got the pleasure of riding some dirt back roads with covered bridges. The plan was that I would call Trisha when I got to North Haverhill, NH to see about stopping for the day. The only problem was that my phone was dead so my daughter gave me her phone to use. She neglected to give me the unlock code. Around 11:00 I stopped at an ice cream stand to get some ice cream. They were also kind enough to let me use their phone to call Trish. Problem - Trish didn't answer so I had to leave a message that I was continuing on and that I didn't have the unlock code for the phone. So I'm headed out of North Haverhill climbing away from the Connecticut river valley into white mtns. About 30 minutes outside of town my phone beeps at me telling me I have a message. I can't read the message, but since I got the message I know that my family is trying to contact me. I stopped at a greenhouse alongside the rode and they let me use the phone to call and get the unlock code. Back onto the bike and back to climbing. I climb past the appalachian trail and back up 2000'. Then I get a nice 5 mile descent into Lincoln. Its 2:30 in the afternoon and I have 118.6 miles and 10,000 climb done. With Kancamangus Pass in front of me I decide Lincoln is great place to stop for the night. I grab two rooms at the Comfort Inn and wait for Trish and the kids to show. They had some GPS difficulties which led to some gravel roads driving thru the mountains with the RV. Not Fun.

Day 7's plan was for Trish and Kids to play some adventure golf then catch up with me some where in Maine. My day started off pretty much like the day before with a long extended climb over Kancamangus Pass. It was a 2000' climb over 15 miles. It was steady and not as steep as yesterdays climb and peaked out at 2800'. After reaching the summit I had a nice screaming down hill for 5 miles then a 20 mile long downhill ride into Conway. This section of the road was really great. The rest of the day was spent doing hill repeats to Brunswick, ME. Never anything over 200' at a time and usually only 50' but over 40 10% climbs and 5 15% climbs. Once I got to Brunswick I dropped onto a bike path along the river for awhile and continued on to Bath. 134.3 miles and 10800 climbing. We stayed at a Holiday Inn at Bath that had a resturaunt (The Bounty I think) attached. The resturaunt had a menu item called the Maine Shore Dinner - Clam Chowder, Salad, Lobster, Corn, Bread, and Pie which I enjoyed immensely with 4 of the local brews.

Day 8 started out in the rain. I left the hotel headed north to Bar Harbor. This was another death by a 1000 paper cuts day. Lots of up and down. Most of this ride was done on US1 and for the most part sucked. Too much Traffic and not very good road. The only parts of it that were nice were when you got off 1. For the most part it was a good ride, but I was glad when I arrived at the Bar Harbor Campground and Trish and the kids had camp setup. I finished the day with 127.2 miles and 9800' of climb. It was cool enought to camp without A/C. Campgrounds are always better than hotels. You get to meet cool peeps. We were parked next to a group of girls that were part of a bike tour/camp. One of the people working for the group was a MTB'er riding for NC - Jeremy. Jeremy saw my bike setup and came over and we spent a bunch of time talking.

Day 9 was hiking/site seeing/travel/recovery ride day. At 5 in the morning we were up with the sun to start our climb up Cadillac Mountain - the highest point on the eastern seaboard. The early start was Rachel's idea because she wanted to do the climb before it got hot. Trish jumped out of the RV and back into the trailer for some more sleep while the rest of us took off for the base of the mountain. We started our climb up the mountain about 6am. The climb was great. It felt good to be doing something not on a bike and the views from the trail looking out over the bay to the north were fantastic. The climb was very decieving, with alot of false tops as you are looking up. That was probably a good thing. The higher you climbed the better the views got. It took us over an hour to make the 2.2 mile 1500' climb up the mountain. Allen, Rachel and I left Katelyn at the top and hiked back down to the RV. Then we had to drive around the whole island (1 way road) to get back to where you can drive to the top of the mountain and pick up Katelyn. The views were great so we decided we needed to go back to camp and take Trish on the quickee island tour and up to the top of mountain in the afternoon. After being tourist for the afternoon we started the drive back to Brunswick. I wasn't a fan of riding hwy 1 back to there so they dropped me at Wiscasset on the way back and I did an early evening 23 mile recovery ride back to the hotel.

The plan for day 10 was that Trisha and the kids would go rope climbing and zip lining while I rode down to Derry NH. This was a much better ride than the ride up to Bar Harbor and got to do a little Seaside riding on the way. It was a long day with 150 miles and 11,500 of climbing.

Day 11 was my day to attempt a Boston Excursion. I did about 30 miles before I got to the Boston Extension, so I turned east and headed toward the city. It was Saturday and there were alot of riders out riding so I thought that I must be in a really good area to ride. It turned out that I was riding against the flow of the Mass MS100 ride. I continued east riding toward town. At about 11:00 I talked with Trish and decided there was too much traffic so I'd head back out to Concord to meet her and the kids for lunch. Epic Success. We ate at the Concord Grill and the food was awesome. After lunch I had to finish my ride down to Marlborough Mass. It was hot and took way too long, but I finished the day with 105.3 and 7800 climb.

Day 12 was the day I tried to do too much. I started out early - I had made a detour in the route so I could ride in Rhode Island and then get to Connecticut. The ride thru Massachusets and Rhode Island was pleasant with gentler sloping hills. More like my type of riding. Then I hit Connecticut and had 25 miles of serious climbing and descending. The ride ended with about 15 miles of gently sloping downhill to the Connecticut river and a finish around noon with 100.7 miles and 8600 climb. Then we loaded up in the RV and headed for Philly. I wanted to get a ride in NJ in the early evening and then hit 3 states (PA, DE, MD) the next day. On the trip to Philly we drove thru NYC. Not a place I'd ever want to stop. Timing for getting a ride didn't happen and by the time I got to my room I was exhausted.

Day 13 turned into a travel day. We had thought about riding and site seeing, but decided against it when it started to rain in the morning. So we drove 800 miles from Philly to Nashville.

Day 14 the last day. We had picked the hotel in Brentwood so that I could ride over to the Natchez Trace and then ride down to Alabama. I started out about 5:30 and rode to the trace. The Natchez Trace is probably one of the nicest places to ride you can find, but bring support. There is limited water supplies and no food on the trace. I rode down to HWY 72 in AL. 150.9 miles and 8800' climb. Then we drove home.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saratoga 12 Hour.

Well, I'm sitting here at a picnic table the Schuyler Yacht Basin trying to recall exactly how the race went yesterday.

I prerode the Saratoga 12 or Hudson River Ramble course on Friday and knew that it was a fast 32.5 mile loop with 4 good hill climbs. Two of the climbs required dropping to the little chain ring after lap 4 and two rollers that you could get half way up with momentum. I also knew that the weather was supposed to be overcast with a high near 80 and light winds. The final piece of knowledge I had was that the record to beat was 251.1 miles. So, if I was going to set a course record, Saratoga was my best bet.

The morning started out rainy, but the rain stopped by 7:00 so we were just dealing with overcast skies for the start of the race at 8:00. Since this was a non-drafting event, I wanted to start off in the front so I wouldn't have to worry about getting caught behind other riders. John Schlitter, who has been resting his postierior, decided that he would come along for the ride. We rode to the base of the first hill climb at mile 2. Since John was on his recumbent, I was able to out climb him to the top of the hill. John, however, was feeling his wheaties and came around me at mile five and I used him to pace me around the course. He got caught by the light at mile 13 and I was able to get around him, but he sprinted to the 1st checkpoint to clock in first.

The next section was very bent friendly and John left me behind until mile 23 when he came riding backwards thinking he missed a turn. He got turned back around and led me back in to finish the first lap. Lap Time 1:28

My crew of Trisha, Rachel and Allen was setup right before the lap counter. I pulled in and was gone again in less than 10 seconds. The crew did an excellent job. I was off the bike for less than 6 minutes for the entire race. 2 of those minutes were at stop 6 when I had to pee and 2 at stop 7 when I got in before they were ready for me.

Lap 2 was alot like lap 3, but I was pretty much pushing John a little hard and passing him more often. I did get the aid of the stop light again to catch him. Lap Time was 1:28.

Lap 3 was another strong lap I caught John by the top of the big climb again and we traded places until mile 8 when John said it was time for me to ride on my own. He was idling it back a little. So I took off and finished the lap on my own. Lap Time was 1:28.

Lap 4 was ridden all by my lonesone and it was starting to get warm so my lap time dropped to 1:35 which was still better than 20 but not the 22 that I was turning on the the first 3 laps.

On Lap 5 was caught by Oyler at mile 12. He told me to shift up and spin more. With the heat and exertion, I had sort of fallen into a funk and was pedalling the sames gears I was using when I was hammering the first 3 laps. It seemed to help for awhile. I finished that lap with a 1:36.

Lap six is when my shot at the record went to hell. The sun came out and the temp got into the upper 80's so it was getting warm. I did a 1:47, which was down in the 18's. I came in and decided I needed to actually get off the bike for a minute. I got off the bike and went into the RV to take a leak, then came back out and got a starbucks coffee instead of a boost. Then I got back on the bike. Total time off the bike: 2 minutes.

Lap seven was much better. I turned another 1:36. The problem with that was that I had told my crew to expect another 1:45 so they weren't ready with everything like they had been all day. So I had another 2 minute break.

I was down to less than an hour to ride and wanted another 20 miles, so I took off pushing as hard as I could go. I caught up with a 12 hour night racer. We passed each other back and forth and chatted a little as we did. I was able to cross checkpoint 19 just before 8:00 so they give you credit to the next point. So I ended up with 7 laps plus 20 miles or 247.5 miles.

After putting myself over 4 miles down at lap 6 I worked my way back, but fell 3 miles short of both the win and the new couse record. It was a great ride with great support.

Now I'm on to my next adventure. Going to ride the Northern Tier Route section from Ticonderoga to Bar Harbor and the Eastern Route from Bar Harbour down to Connecticutt. Should be about 800 miles in 6 riding days with possibly a rest day in Bar Harbor .

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Comparison ride Titus VS Giant.

Yesterday I did a fast 100 mile loop on my Titus Vuelo averaging just over 19. So today since the weather was suppose to be close to yesterday I went out I my Giant TCR Advanced and did the exact same 100 mile course to see how much faster my race bike is than my touring bike.

The combatants:

My Titus Vuelo is my touring bike. It weighs in at 26.2 lbs, which includes everything but the water bottles. Its a titanium bike with carbon fork and krysium elite wheelset. What makes this my touring bike is the fact that it has a circlular seat post that can accept the rack and bag that I carry off the back. This bag carries 3 space tubes, 1 spare tire, 90% of the tools you need to run a bike shop, 12 hours of food, enough free storage to carry shed clothes and TP. This is the bike I take when I go off I my own for a 12 hour ride.

My Giant TCR Advanced is my race bike. It weighs in at 22 lbs, with lights, food bag, and seat post bag. Its a full carbon bike with Rolf Vigor Wheelset with carbon bearings. I think that Rolf's are the best wheelset you can race regardless of the $ you want to spend. The Giant is also much stiffer that Titus. This is the bike I race when I have support.

The results.
Titus 5:14 - or 19.1 MPH
Giant 4:55 - or 20.3 MPH

I also have two different Garmin 705's that I was testing out. The difference between the two was .2 miles over the 100 mile difference. I think one is set to record data every second and the other is when ever the device feels like it. The big difference though was in the amount of climb that the two devices recorded. Yesterday I did 5800 feet of climbing today I did 2500 feet of climbing. Maybe if climb over them faster it doesn't record as much. Don't trust your garmin for climb data.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Arkansas State Time Trials.

I am both happy with the result and a little disappointed with my time at the Arkansas State Time Trials. I finally won my age group after finishing 2nd the last two times I did this race. This was kind of bittersweet since the time I posted was the slowest of my 3 attempts.

The first year I did the TT I posted a 58:58, then last year I was 1:00:10. This year I posted a 1:01:40. I was hoping that my long distance training would just carry me throught the time trial and it pretty much did. I rode nice and easy at 24+ MPH. I wasn't tired and I didn't hurt, in fact I rode another 70+ miles after the race. The problem was that I could not longer push myself to get almost aerobic and ride at 26+.

I rode just like I have been training to ride for the last 8 months: Strong and consistant. So I guess I just shut up and be happy with my win and maybe throw some more TT training days into my ride schedule to work on speed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My first 24 hour Race.

Well, it was time to tackle my first 24 hour race. On Thursday morning, my family and I packed up the van and the trailer and headed off to Middleville, MI. My first 24 hour would be the National 24 Hour Challenge, which is one of the largest 24 hour events in the US. This meant I knew that there would be some pretty stiff competition. But, I was headed there to win. That was what I put on the entry form when answering, "Why are you doing this race?".

The trip up to MI was a chore in itself. I had planned on taking an easy day and a half to get there. The road construction and stopping every 2 hours to gas up (the van only got 10 MPG while towing), turned into a long day and half. We made Champaign IL about 8 pm on Thursday and were ready to get started again at 7 on Friday, but we had to wait out the tornado warnings.

We finally made it up to Middleville about 1:00pm and began the setup process. N24HC has a special place for people with trailers - about 1/2 mile away from where everyone else gets to setup. So we dropped the trailer in the parking lot and started mixing the bottles, assembling the bikes, and all the other little prep stuff necessary to the race. Number pickup wasn't until 5:30 so we took off to pre-drive the course. I had heard that the road conditions weren't the greatest and wanted to visually verify the status of the course. We found some fresh chipseal near mile 15 and one section just after the 2nd checkpoint that weren't great but other than that the course was pretty nice.

We got back to Middleville at around 5:45 - timed perfectly so that the line was nice and small - and went thru packet pickup. Then we loaded up and headed to Grand Rapids and my favorite prerace meal at Outback: Rack of lamb with mashed potatos and 2 loaves of their great bread and two big blokes of Fosters to complete my carb loading.

Saturday started out too early with a wake up call at 4:30 - Me and the first shift of the support crew, Trisha and Allen, were up and headed out to the race site by 5:30 and at the trailer way before 6:00. I had the bike loaded with food/drink and the van loaded up with everything Trish would need by 6:30. Oops, race doesn't start until 8:00. This is a bad habit that I picked up from racing tri's - always get there early to get the prime TA.

Since I was ready to race with more than an hour to spare, it became social hour. I talked with Jim Hlvaka (from PAC Tours), Paul Danhaus (Big Dogs), and Bryan Kortness (Facebook) and just did a little riding around to loosen up. Trish and Allen hit the Crew prerace meeting at 7:30 and were on the frontline to start the race at 8:00.

We started at 8:00 straight up with no delays and I was off the front to lead the pack out. I know that Larry told me to draft, draft, draft and when you get tired of drafting to suck wheel, but I still like to lead the race out :-). The first section of the race was rather uneventful with a group of about 35 or 40 riders in the pack and about 8 -10 of us doing all of the pulls. At about mile 10 we hit a couple of hills and 2 riders went off the front, but the group, at the urging of Chris Ragsdale, (last year's winner), sort of let them stay about 1/8 mile ahead of the group. They rode out there for about 10 miles when I decided that it would be fun to break away from the group and ride them down. You got to play games or it gets boring. So I rode them down and the group caught up and we rode off toward checkpoint 1 were they had 4 lanes for you to get punched.

Once we hit checkpoint 1 the fun ended. We turned south into a 15+ mph wind from the southwest which would be with us all day. The group rode together down to checkpoint 2 with the same 8-10 people doing most of the work. As we were pulling into checkpoint 2, the group started attacking hard. This checkpoint only had 2 lanes to get punched, so it was a big cluster and I was the last person thru the station, but Trish and Allen were there with everything I needed so as soon as I got punched I was ready to head down the road. I was afraid this cluster in the checkpoint had cost me the main group, but I was wrong. Just after stop 2 is the unofficial Pee break. So the only thing that I lost was a chance to take a leak.

We cruised on toward checkpoint 3, riding the the roughest section of the road and dodging a lot of tree debris that had been blow down from the storm the previous night. At mile 80 the debris caught me, or I caught it, and the front tire made the s's's's's sound as air was escaping. I knew it was my wheel, but it was funny to watch all the other rider's start looking a their bikes to see if they had a problem.

Time for a quick tire change. The race had just been lost. There was no way I could win without riding with the lead group into the wind. Oh well, I had a new goal. How many of the 30+ rides could I catch and pass riding on my own? Someone had said that there was often a 2nd group that forms and works together, but I never saw them. I just rode my own pace, pushing as hard as felt good, and made it back to the finish of the big loop in just over 5:30 for 121.6 miles.

I had talked with Larry Graham before the race and he said that you wanted to do as many middle loops as you could before getting put on the short course at 7:15. I started pushing hard because I wanted to make sure I completed at least 5 middle (23.7) loops. This part of the ride was rather uneventful until the 5th lap. During the laps 1 thru 4, I would ride by people but never was passed. My support crew kept me flying around the track giving me bottles and food every lap, but I was waiting for the fast group to catch me and put me 23.7 miles down. About 1/2 way around lap 5 I was flying down a downhill section at about 25 when a car passed me and started to make a right turn in front me. I screamed F!!!!!! Thankfully, they stopped and I didn't become imbedded in the side door of their car.

About 5 minutes later, a group of 5 riders including Charles Knott came by me. So, I jumped on with them and started chatting with them. They said they were the second part of the fast group with the fastest 6 riders riding in a group ahead of them. This sort of confused me because nobody had passed me. Then I found out that I had passed these guys in transition. I had worked my way up to a top ten spot by mile 240. They were also impressed that I had ridden alone and was in front of them.

Charles, one other rider and I rode away from the rest of the group to finish up our last middle loop with 240.1 miles and start riding the 5.5 loop. As I transitioned to the short loop, my night crew showed up for work. Trish had taken Allen back to the hotel and picked up Rachel and Katelyn to work the night shift. Support on the night section of the race wasn't nearly as set as the day section. When I wanted something, I would tell my crew the lap before that I would stop and what I needed.

Night riding was mostly a mind game of setting a goal of the number of laps to do and counting down while continuously riding hard. My goal when I started was to get 40 laps. So I just kept counting down and riding. I switched from Boost at the stops to Starbucks coffee and my food went from sausage to a slice of pizza, but only one - it didn't settle all that well. I also downed a bag a frito's.

I was passed once during the night by Chris Ragsdale (494.8) and Chris Gottwald (483.8) and jumped on and rode with them for 3 laps before they stop to refuel. I hadn't told my crew I was stopping so I kept riding, then on the next lap I told them I was stopping. Just as I was pulling in to stop, the Chrises caught me so I lost the fast group again.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. Just riding and getting a little slower. Once the sun came out a lot of the riders that had stopped to sleep came back on the course, so there were more people again. I got together with Charles Knott a little after 6:15. He was on mile 399.6, about 16.5 miles behind me. He said his goal was to set the new 55-59 record and he needed to do 5 more laps, so he and I started working hard and pushed. Charles had the record with 20 minutes to spare. We took the last lap pretty easy, (20 minutes), and we came in with 20 minutes left. I decided to go out for one more lap. I time trialed the last lap in under 16 minutes, which was probably my fastest of the day, to end up with 449.1 - 38 short laps - 2 short of what I had set for my goal about 12 hours before.

I had come to win or at least challenge for the win. A pretty lofty goal for a first time 24 hour race. That went out the door with the flat. I set my new goal and passed all but 4 of the racers

ending up as 5th overall finisher and 1st in 45-49.

The Competition was pretty good.

1st - Chris Ragsdale, (494.8), Furnace Creek 508 Winner

2nd - Chris Gottwald, (483.8), Solo RAAM Finisher 2009

3rd - Bryce Walsh (460.1) Solo RAAM 2006

4th - Dennis Delong (454.6) RAAM Qualified

After the race is pretty hazy. We waited around for awards until 9:00 - then went to pack up the trailer to head back to the hotel, but we couldn't find a key for the trailer hitch. After searching high and low, Trisha found it in her shirt pocket. We were all really tired. We finished hooking up everything and drove back to the hotel at about 11:00. I went to the front desk and said I needed a wake up call for 1:30 and she looked at me like I was crazy. I explained the reason for late check out, (it's good to be a member of their club), and crashed for a couple of hours.

At 2 o'clock we were on the road heading for Ludington and the Ferry to WI. We had a 3 hour drive up to Ludington during which I slept again. We had enough time to have a picnic with KFC at the park then drove up to the dunes north of town and walked on the beach. We got on the ferry at 8:00pm and I walked back to the state room and slept until we reached Manitowoc around 11:00pm . I then drove 1 mile to the nearest hotel and fell back asleep again :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hobbs Mountain Bike Race.

I needed a change of pace from my ultra distance riding and the Hobbs MTB Race just happened to be the right thing to do at the right time for a number of reasons. It fell the weekend before National 24 Hour Challenge so I'm tapering and I won't feel guilty about only getting in 4 hours of riding this weekend instead of 16. I hadn't seen all my MTB Racing friends since last November and need the comraderie and it was also a great race for my son, Allen, to ride in because the course is sweeeet.

Since I hadn't been on my MTB since the fall, I added a couple of MTB sessions to my training schedule so I could try to get back some of the handing skills that you lose if you don't use. Allen and I put on about 40 miles of short track laps in the week leading up to the race and I was able to hit Burns Park for one lap. This would prove to be enough training for a Junior 12 and under racer, but not enough for Cat 1 40-49.

Trish, Allen and I loaded up Saturday morning and headed north to race. I just got a new Van with a built in GPS so I let it guide me up to Hobbs. This proved both to be good and bad at the same time. The route it took us on brought us up from the south through War Eagle so we got to see the old mill and bridge. Pretty cool. The problem was that when we got to Hwy 12 it had me turn east instead of west. So we added a few extra miles to the route.

Once we were up at Hobbs, I took Allen for a preride of the Junior course and we worked on some of his biking skills. Then I took off and did a warmup lap around my course. The people putting on the race had done an excellent job of trail maintenance - the course was fast. Maybe even a little too fast. After the preride we drove back into Bentonville to the hotel for a shower and then on to Phat tire to register. Phat tire is a cool little bike shop in downtown Bentonville and you should stop by if you get the chance.

Once we left the bike shop we used the GPS to take us to the Outback for my standard pre race meal. The only problem is the GPS couldn't find the Outback. The Outback in Rogers is hidden behind some hotels with an address that the GPS wouldn't even let you enter. So we went to O'Charleys instead. Good dinner, but not my normal meal. We saw the Outback sign as we were headed back to the hotel.

Race morning started out well with us back out to Hobbs at about 7:45. This gave us a decent parking spot and plenty of time to get setup for Allen's race which started out at 8:30. During the preride we had determined that Allen's brake levers were tipped too far down for him to reach them easily, so we adjusted them and we bled a little air of his tires to give him a little better traction.

Allen took off on his 2 lap race at about 8:40 and did a kick butt job finishing up about an hour later with his first MTB win. He has been doing races on and off for about 3 years and this was his first win so he was happy. The race timing worked out well because it gave me time to watch him start and finish and still get to my race on time.

Cat 1 - 40-49 went off at about 10:05 in the moring with the temp already up to 90. It was going to be a hot one. The race started out with a 500 yard sprint to the trail entrace on a gravel road. I took off down the road and led the sprint to the trail head, but Richard decided that he was in such a hurry that he cut me off going into the trail head. Good move on his part because he is so much faster on the trail. I was on the trail 2nd and being pushed really hard by the group. The trail starts out pretty twisty and windy and I was riding faster than I could corner so less than 1 minute into the trail I had my first crash as my front tire slid out from in front of me. The bike slid left and I jumped right and everyone sort of rode between me and the bike.

I get back to the bike and have to get the chain back on and get back on the trail. I've gone from 2nd back to 9th and a minute behind the lead group with my confidence already shaken. Back on the bike I go. Next we hit the quick downhill and across the bridge to the 1st climb. I can see 3 riders - Scott Dollar, Bob Ocken, and Scott Shoals, ahead me on the climb so I keep working to catch them. After making the climb, you get into a set of rollers along the west side of the course that is very fun and very fast and I rip through this section working my way back up to 6th place. I can see Eli just ahead of me so I try to catch him and get very close while we are on the top, but then we hit the downhill on the back side of the course and he disappeared again.

The downhills on the course are very sketchy in the turns. I love this course and if I lived near Rogers I'm pretty sure that I would have the lines thru them to make the downhill as fast as the rest of the course, but it was my weakest point of the race. After the downhill you cross a bridge and hit the hard climb of the race. Eli was on a single speed so I was able to catch him at the top of climb and he followed me into the fast and flowing last section of the trail and passed me back just at I was getting my hand off from Trish at the feed zone.

The 2nd lap wasn't a great lap either. I caught Eli again on the 1st climb this time, but he caught me back on the downhills on the back side. Then I crashed again on the downhills. This crash was alot harder that my first crash so I resolved that I was now riding to not crash with my 24 hour race coming up next week. The 2nd time up the big climb I got off and pushed the hard section and was working on keeping my head up and looking ahead and was getting faster on the sweeping parts of the course. I was creeping on the downhills though and the climbs were eating me alive. To give you an idea, my garmin was turning off and back on. (3mph threshold).

I worked my way around the 3rd lap with no incidents and feeling pretty good. I finished the race in 6th place and had a great workout - probably much more effort than I would have put into a century ride.

After the race we hung with the ACF crew - (Dan is actually building a good race team) and the Bell and Company Crew, (thanks for the food!), for about an hour then head back south to recover. I will probably do an easy century ride on Tuesday, then start driving up to MI for an 8:00am Saturday morning start for a little 24 hour ride.

Congrats to Allen on his first win and to the whole ACF team - I'm pretty sure we scored the team win yesterday.

What I've learned from the race. 1 - Follow your prerace feed schedule do not vary it - ask Scott Penrod about bad food choices. 2 - If you're going to do a MTB Race you need to train on a mountain bike.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tour De Hoot.

I caught a blurb about the Tour De Hoot on facebook yesterday, so I decided that instead of a long day of riding by myselft I would opt for a more high-intensity workout with a group. So this morning I jumped in the van and headed for McGehee.

The drive down was rather uneventful and arrived at the start at about 7:30. I had plenty of time go get registered and get everything ready for the start. Especially since the race director was giving out road ID packages and the ride started 10 minutes late.

We left out of McGehee headed east with me pulling the group for the first 4 miles. We countinued on toward the first rest station at between 22 and 24 miles per hour and the group quickly broke down to 5 people in the lead group. We pulled into Arkansas City and the first stop at mile 12. This is where the road markings were very iffy.

Note to promoter - Don't mark the stops with arrows leaving the route - just put up signs. We weren't stopping but couldn't figure out where to go. I was entering the rest area to turn around, but the rest of the group continued down the road. So, against my better judgement, I followed them for 3 block to where we had to turn. I turned, went a block and turned back toward where I knew hwy 4 was located and took off.

I got out ahead of the group and decided that I wanted to be the rabbit so I put myself in TT mode and started to hammer north toward Dumas. After about 5 miles, I couldn't see the group of 4 anymore, so I kept pushing. I hit Dumas at mile 50 with a 22.5 MPH average. This is where things got a little more interesting.

I tried to shift and to my dismay - nothing happened. I had broken the head off the shifter cable so I was down to 2 gears (53x11 or 39x11). This was ok since on the way out I had a tail wind and rode 53x11 to the turn around at Arkansas Post at mile 65. Then I switched to 39x11 for the return trip. If I had to break a shifter cable, I was lucky it was on this ride because there was only 997 feet of climb.

The turn around for the ride was at Arkansas Post at mile 65. Up to this point I was still over 22.5 miles per hour, but it was about to start dropping on the return. The return trip was from Arkansas Post to Dumas then down to McGehee. This section was extremely tiring since it was into a 10mph head wind and could only use 1 gear so I couldn't change up the resistance while standing, sitting or aero. So I stayed areo and pushed back.

I ended the ride with 101.2 miles in 4:40:51 for a 21.6 mile average. Pretty fast day, fast enough to be able to catch a shower and drink my recovery mix and jump in the car without seeing the next finisher. The Rabbit Won :-).

On the way home I continued to push the speed and had to take a time out in Gould for doing 78 in 65. OOPS.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

My First Ultra Cup Win.

This is my race write up for the Balltown Double. Thanks Joe and Dave for putting on a fun event.

The race weekend started with a road trip with my daughters, Katelyn and Rachel. We drove up to St Louis on Thursday before the race. We got into town about 7 and stopped to see the arch up close and personal. Rachel decided that she really needed to go to the top of the arch so we grabbed a close hotel for the night. We returned first thing Friday morning and took the trolley ride to the top and then headed on our way to De Witt - via Monmouth to visit college.

We got to De Witt about 4:00 on Friday which gave me enough time to do a 11 mile leg stretch in the early afternoon to recover from two days in the car. I rode out with Wendel Hyink and got a chance to talk with him about his riding. After this quick preride, I took a quick shower then we were off to "Happy Joes" for a group dinner which was quite enjoyable. I was hanging with Larry, but also met Steve Wartenburg who is writing a book about ultra racing.

The race started off at 5:30. It was already light enough that we did not need our lights so it was a great time of the morning to ride. The temp was in the low 60's but wouldn't stay that way for long. We headed east thru town and then turned north. I pulled the group out for about the first 5 miles then started working in a group with Steph M and a couple of others. For about the first 35 miles I did about 1/2 the pulls and Steph did about 1/4 with everyone else working in as they were able.

At mile 37, I decided to go it on my own. We had hit a couple of hills and I got out in front of the group, so I decided that now was the time to go. We had a couple of more hills and I was completely away from group. The first stop was around mile 50 when Katy and Rach had me all set and I was in and out of the stop in less than 2 minutes.

I continued to cruise along until mile 80, where a pot hole met my rear wheel. I just had a feeling that I would be flat in the next mile and, as predicted, I was on the side of the road changing my tire in 1/2 a mile. Since nobody caught up to me during the tube change, I decided that I really had a chance to win the race. I got on the bike and kept pushing hard, keeping a 20+ MPH average.

At about mile 90 we hit a road detour and had to take a gravel road. That would have been just fine, but a farmer had just oiled the part of the road that went past his house so we had a 300 foot stretch of road full of fresh oil. Time to suck it up and ride thru it and keep going. The 2nd stop was at about mile 105 and the girls were ready again. This stop was going to take a little longer though because I needed to pump up my rear tire, get a new tube and inflator, and completely reload my camel back and food stash for the return trip.

Just as I was leaving the 2nd station, a group of 5 riders pulled in including Paul C and Steph M. As they were pulling in, Steph said this is probably the only time we'll see you and she was right. I was thru the first 105 miles in just over 5 hours but the return trip was going to be much harder.

The return trip was much harder due to two factors - wind and heat. When we left in the morning the wind was from the north east, but had switched around to the east during the ride up and now was from the south east for the return trip. It also went from 5 to 15 mph. The day had started out mild and was supposed to stay in the low 80's but had reach 90 in the early afternoon. Both of these factors made the return trip much harder and take longer.

At around mile 107 we hit the steepest climbs of the day, which hit around 15%. The biggest problem was that after the climb the downhill section that followed was kind of sketchy. This meant you couldn't get aero and fly down the hill. You had to stand and maneuver around the pot holes. As I was standing and weaving - I took a direct hit from a bee/wasp (some stingy son of a b. about 2" from dead center). This made the downhill so much more interesting.

We had a couple more testy climbs in the next 10 miles, then the course leveled out to rollers again so I was just fighting the wind, the heat and a new enemy - the black birds. Somewhere between mile 125 and 130 I had the not-so-pleasant experience of having a bird hit my helmet. The first time it happened I really wasn't sure what hit me. The second time, the bird tried to lift the helmet off my head. So if you need a reason to wear a helmet - it's for protection from crazed starlings.

The race proceeded from here as more of a test of survival than a race. My average speed kept dropping as the wind speed and temperature kept increasing. Stop 3 at mile 150 was another good stop by the sisters - who had done a great job in keeping me going. At about mile 170 Joe passed me on the way in and asked if there was anying I needed. I justed wanted to know if anyone was close. He said everyone was quite aways back. This made me feel pretty good and I kept pushing on and looking back every 5 miles or so. Don't know what I would have done if I had seen someone, because I don't think I had any more to give.

I finished in 11:06, about 1 hour more than I thought it should have taken, but 40 minutes ahead of the next finishers.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Arkansas State Record Attempt

The alarm went off at 2:00 am. I got up and grabbed a frozen omelet and pancakes while packing everything in the van. We started rolling down Stateline in Texarakana to the Courthouse with two missions to accomplish. First, to break the existing West to East record for the state - this meant covering the 190 miles in less than 10:38. The 2nd mission was to turn around and ride the same 190 miles backward for a total of 380 miles in under 24 hours.

Mission 1.
On the way, we stopped at EZ mart so my morning Crew, (Big Ralph and Little Ralph and the official Lanie), could grab some large coffees for the road. I was sitting in the car and could see them in the EZ mart joking with the clerk. When they came out, they said they told the clerk what we were doing and the clerk asked if he could have some of whatever I was smoking. I'm guessin' alot of people would have that reaction.

We rolled over to the courthouse and finished setting up and got all of the paraphenalia on the van and ready to start. 3am rolls around and Me and My Giant headed east down U.S. 82. The first 10 miles out of Texarkana are gradual rolls that drop you down the red river basin. Just as we are coming out to the flats, the van starts flashing it's lights at me and we have to pull over. The flashing lights on the rear of the van had stopped working. Here it is, not 30 minutes into the ride and I'm thinking that the attempt is toast because the Honda has an electrical problem. Nope, it is just that the splitter cable is slipping out of the connection. The crew fixes the problem and we are off again.

Once we dropped down into the flats, I started to feel the NE wind that will be the bane of the Eastward attempt. We countinued cruising east through Lewisville, Stamps and Magnolia, mostly a flat ride. The 3rd bottle exchange and first food exchange was set at the junction of 96 and 82. I pulled off the side of the road and looked to my crew to get my bottles and food to keep going. Little Ralph, who was in charge, was smoking a cirgarette. 3 hours was a little much to go without. I asked him for my supplies and he said, "Oops", refocused, and got the stuff and I was back on the road.

After stop 3 the sun had come up so the follow vehicle could now leap in front of me. This meant that Lanie and Ralph had time catch a smoke break every two hours or so on the bottle exchanges and even in between. Life was much easier on the crew when they didn't have to follow me down the road, but riding at night was so much easier with a crew vehicle, with its brights on, lighting up the road.

The section from Magnolia to Stamps is the hilliest by far with continuous rollers, but the wind wasn't too bad because you're mostly in pine forests and on a East-South-Easterly heading. During this section I was able to keep up a 19+ mph average.

At Stamps, we turned almost due east and the wind speed picked up to over 10. My pace decreased slightly, but enough for Lanie to comment about it. By our 6th checkpont, just west of Crosset, my average speed had decreased to 19. When Lanie commented about me needing to pickup the pace, I did the math in my head. I knew we had to maintain an 18 mph average to beat the record by 8 minutes. So, at the turn in Crosset, I calculated that I had 26 minute cushion built up and I was going to need it.

At Crosset, you turn North East to head to Lake Village, you also leave the pine forests and enter the delta, which means you lose most of the wind break effect. We made the turn around 10am and the wind began to pickup to over 15 mph and really made me work my butt off. About 10 miles outside of Lake Village, Ralph pulled the van up and said that Trish was in place with the 2nd bike.

2nd Bike? Why a 2nd bike? Thanks to the Arkansas Highway Department, the last 10 miles of this run were under serious construction. They had grooved the main pavement and completely removed the shoulders of the road. I had scouted the route on Monday and found no way around the construction. I decided then that it would be best if I rode this section on my Gary Fisher MTB with cyclocross tires.

Checkpoint 8. I lifted the road bike into the back of the Jungle Pickup and grabbed the MTB. I gave Trish my order for some real food (chocolate shake and sub) and I took off across the demolished road to finish the West East leg of the Journey. After a long and bumpy 10 miles, I crossed the state line on the MS river bridge and set the record for the West-East crossing at 10:16, beating the old record by 22 minutes with an 18.35 average speed.

After riding off the bridge and talking with the crew in the Casino parking lot, we got ready for the start of the East-West Crossing.

Mission 2.
The East to West crossing record wasn't supposed to be as hard since we weren't under time pressure. I just had to ride another 190 miles. The only problem is that I have never ridden more than 14 hours or 250 miles in one day so this was new territory for me.

I cruised back to the welcome center and met Trisha and Rachel who were taking over the afternoon crew duties. I grabbed half my sandwitch and the chocolate shake and laid down under a shade tree in the grass for a couple of minutes just eating and talking, while the crew restocked the van and filled it up with gas. Then it was time to get back on the Giant and hit the road again for the last 180 miles.

I was cruising along just fine doing 20 miles per hour on that same road I was having a hard time doing 17mph on just 2 hours before. I was just past Montrose, around mile 35 of the return trip, when I flatted. The crew had leap frogged in front of me so I rode on the flat tire up to the back of the van, but they started to drive away. I was yelling at them and they pulled back over. Trisha opened the lift gate and I grabbed a spare wheel out of the back and quickly mounted it on the bike and was headed back down the road.

Here is where it started to get hard. I felt like I was working my butt off and not making any speed and my right achilles started to ache. I could no longer stand up to pedal because it hurt too much. I talked with the crew, I could eat sugars and was stopping every hour taking 2 Ibuprofen, a piece of meat and a starbuck coffee from stop 2 to stop 5. We had been going through the flats without much climbing and with a tail wind and I had only been able to keep a 16 mph average. I was wondering if I was out of my league. Should I just stick to 12 hour races? Had I worked so hard on the first half that I was too tired to do the 2nd half? At the stop at hour 5, I told Lanie and Trish that if the med didn't stop the pain by hour 6 I was going to have to call it a day. I couldn't walk and had been unable to eat anything sugary for the last 3 hours and it just wasn't fun anymore.

At mile 85 my Ipod stopped and I started to hear this scraping noise on the bike. So I got off the bike and was bending over to see what was making the awful racket. Trish had been about a 100 yards ahead and whipped a U turn because she thought I was getting sick. After inspecting the bike, I found that I had knocked the rear brake out of alignment when I changed the tire at mile 35. I had been riding with the brake on for the last 3+ hours. I got back on the bike and was instantly 3-4 miles per hour faster and it didn't hurt the ankle to pedal. I still couldn't stand because the damage was done but it didn't hurt to pedal. My outlook changed from, If we stop now I can sleep in my own bed, to how fast can I finish this thing.

I had cost myself 45-60 minutes and a messed up achilles because I was in such a hurry to get back on the bike, but I was jubilant. I went from a DNF to we got this in the bag. I had kept myself going during the time that hurt so bad by thinking that it was just a beautiful day to be outside on the bike and now it was a great day on the bike.

The next part of the ride was great but uneventful - just riding into the night watching the sky slowly change colors with a beautiful pink-red-orange sunset. The problem was that I still had 4 hours to go when we stopped at mile 65 to put back on arm warmers and wind vest. Temps were already colder than they had been that morning but I rode on.

The 2nd to last stop of the day was around 11:00pm in Stamps. We pulled into the convenience store so the crew could smoke and use the bathrooms. (which they close at nights???) There was a small crowd outside and they asked what we were doing. After chatting for awhile we started to head out and one of the guys commented "You must be a pedaling fool". I'm guessing he is correct.

From Stamps to Texarkana is about 35 miles of mostly flat until you get within 10 miles of town. Then you get to the rollers that climb back into the city. At 1 in the morning, 10 miles of rolling climbs weren't my friend. You climb one and then see the headlights of a car on the next one ahead. Slowly going up and up and thinking will I ever be done? Sort of like you reading this and wondering if I'll ever finish :-)

Well, I did finish. 1:09am, I believe, was the official time. So the East West Time was 11:49 and the record for the total was 22:09. Which is around 17.5 mph round trip.

Thanks to:
Lanie Smith, UMCA Official.
J Ralph Huneycutt, Morning Crew
Ralph M Huneycutt, Morning Crew
Trish Searvogel, Evening Crew
Rachel Searvogel, Evening Crew

Crew Notes:
Yep, what he said.
A huge "Thank You" to Lanie for all the advice and humorous commentary during the trip. He talked me through changing out my first tube. I'm sure it was truly comical to watch and I'm thankful Kurt didn't need to use that wheel since it certainly wasn't an expert job!
The closer we got to the end goal the more hilarious everything appeared. The grinding noise made by the rear flashers, (or as one of the onlookers in Stamps named them, "Cool, they even got strobes!"), the clickety-click of the van flashers and the constant flashing green lights on the dash were all fodder for jokes. This was a tiring, (I was on the road at 9am and finished at the hotel at 1:30am), nerve-wracking, (it's difficult to drive within a car's length behind someone riding a bicycle), fun experience that I won't ever forget. Kurt, we love ya! :)
Trish Searvogel

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tarzan may not ride.

If our friends at Fedex don't get their shit straight Tarzan may not ride accross the country.

I shipped my touring bike with Fedex last friday before I left for Calvins Challenge. It was on its way to San Deigo for the start of the tour. It made it as far as Pheonix before the package had some problems. Evidently the box had sustainted some sort of damage and the shipping label had been ripped off. Can't wait to see the inside of the package. :(

Here is where it gets interesting. The label underneath the shipping label had the box going to Arkansas Cycling and Fitness - the place that packaged my bike for me. The box had contained a Trek delivered to the store a month ago.

So I get a call this morning from Eric at ACF saying that Fedex Delivered my bike to him. Eric packed the bike so he would know whose bike it was, but when they called Fedex they wouldn't beleive Teresa our shipping clerk.

We are trying to get the bike picked up from the shop today and back on its way to California. It needs to be there by next Friday.

I think it would have been easier to collect the $6000 insurance on the bike and by one when I got to San Diego. I'm pretty sure this will be the last time I ship my bike anywhere and I already don't fly my bike anywhere. So I'll be restricted to races I can drive to.

Now on too better news. We are less than 36 hours away from the start of my Arkansas West-East-West crossing Record Attempt. With have all of the paperwork filed with the UMCA we have our Official Lanie Smith coming from Texas. I have my crew Trisha, Skip, Rachel, and Big Ralph ready for me to make this 380 mile trip in under 24 hours. We will be leaving from Texarkana where US-82 crosses the state line somewhere between midnight and 6 am depending on the weather and wind forcasts. We hope to make the West to east run in under 10 hours. We will be turning around on the US82 bridge at the MS line and probably take 12 hours for the return trip.

Tonight its time to make all of the cytomax bottles and get the cooler ready. Will leave around 10:30 tomorrow to check the route from Magnolia to Texarkana and meet with Lanie at the hotel for vehicle inspection and then off dinner and an early bed time.

Thats all for now

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The First Post.

Welcome to Tarzan Rides

Many people believe that riding my bike is all I do. Some days riding is all that I do, but most days I balance out my riding with managing Applied Computer Solutions and try to keep up with my family.

With the PAC Tours - Elite Cross Country tour fast approaching, a number of people have asked if I will have somewhere that they can read about the tour and what I'm doing to during my training or racing season this. So I started this blog to record where I'm riding and what is going on in my little corner of the world.