Monday, July 18, 2011

Colorado High Country 1200K.

The Colorado High Country 1200K was my last planned long ride for the year. After DNF'ing the Texas Rando Stampede and DNS'ing RAW because of my crash I needed a good ride to get my mind-set back into the ultra.

Preride training: Two weeks before the start of the CHC I rode the Antlers 400K in Texas which included the Talamena Parkway and 14000' climb. I finished in 16 1/2 hours with a better than 15 mph ride average. During that week I put in a couple more century rides. Then the weekend before the start I rode back to back 200 milers with pretty good climbing, about 14000', for the two days. After that I had 8 days of small rides with the longest being a two 30 milers the Saturday and Sunday before the start.

Prerace Drive: The drive to Colorado was mostly a nice one if you consider 110 degrees crossing KS nice. We drove up to Hays, KS the day before the event and Sara Kay recommended a nice restaurant and a good route for a morning ride on Sunday. The morning ride took me by the Cathedral on the plains which is an impressive building in the middle of Victoria, KS otherwise known as nowhere. After the morning ride we continued on toward Louisville. The Sprinter started acting funny and threw a check engine light. We read the book and kept driving since it seemed to be an emissions problem and we weren't going to be able to get it looked at in the middle of KS on a Sunday. But the light meant that I wouldn't have my support crew for Monday morning because Trish would be at a dealership.

Prerace Festivities: We got to the hotel at around 2:00, checked in and got moved into the hotel just as a big storm cell moved thru with 60mph winds and hail. These storms, and avoiding them, would be a recurring theme for the 1200K. After the storm passed I called Larry Ide to get his current location. Just as I was telling him about the storm - he drove into it and had to drop his phone just to drive thru it. Larry got to the hotel about 15 minutes later and we went to registration together. Then Larry, Trish and I went off for a nice dinner at Outback and early turn-in to get ready for the 4:00am start.

Ride start: What happens when ultra racers have tapered for a week? You get a hammerfest. The ride started out at 4:00am with a front pack of between 12 and 15 riders and we took off at a pretty good clip. This may have been my fault since I was out front alot and would go off the front if the person pulling at the time wasn't keeping a 20+ pace. The pace was fast enough that if JLE hadn't thrown in a secret checkpoint on the ride to the first checkpoint, we would have gotten to the store before it opened.

The climb up Poudre Canyon: I left out from the store first and began my assault on the canyon. I was immediately caught up by the Nebraska Kid and shortly by the Colorado Climber. I give everyone nicknames because I can't remember names too well. Vernon (CC) and Ashton (NK) decide that they want to ride the climb at a more relaxed pace so I continue on alone up the climb. About 5 miles later my friend Larry Ide comes climbing up the canyon with two other riders in tow: The Young Canadian who spoke no English and Wet Warrior who was from Seattle and sported fenders. As we continued up the climb we dropped Wet Warrior so that left Larry and I to chat back and forth all the way to the 2nd stop at Rustic.

We made pretty quick work of the stop at Rustic and I began spinning up the mountain waiting for Larry and Michel Tardiff. After about a mile we were all together and started the harder part of the climb. At the bottom the climb was mostly < 3% with 2000' in 35 miles. From Rustic on we had 3000' to climb in under 26 miles. Larry had been riding real strong up the climb, even sprinting ahead to take a picture of us as we crossed under the tunnel, but after the stop he went into full tourist mode so that left me to follow a very skinny climber to the top. This was good because it made me work to keep him in sight.

Once we reached the top I stopped to put clothing on because it was chilly and the descent was going to be long and fast. Michel didn't stop at the top so away he went. He didn't stay gone for long though. Less than two miles down the descent he was on the side of the road putting on more clothes. That was the last time I rode with anyone for the rest of the 1200k. I was pretty much off the front to Walden which was very uneventful after the descent. As I was checking in at Walden my Sprinter drove up and I had my Trish Bear back as support crew. She said that the Check Engine light went off before she made it to the dealership so they couldn't tell her anything. Just as I was leaving Walden for Saratoga, Michel and Vernon were pulling in.

The next section from Walden to Saratoga was all in the high plains. When crossing the high plains you see mountains all around you and see the road unfold for miles and miles in front of you. Sometimes this can be good and sometimes it can be a little disheartening - especially when you see a descent into a valley followed by a long steep climb back out. The other thing you notice about the high plains is that roads are in pretty bad shape from freeze cracks. Most of the way to Saratoga wasn't bad, but when we turned due west and headed downhill into Riverside I could only muster 15mph. The headwind made me feel like I was suffering from some rare disease that zapped my strength. Once we turned north for the last 20 or so into Saratago, life was better.

I got to Saratoga at 5:45. Trish had everything ready: recovery drink, shower, and beer. She said that my request for pizza had been denied because both of the local pizza places in town were closed on Monday. We walked over to the store and I bought a 12 inches pastrami sub to supplement the soup and sandwiches that the support people had at the hotel. The people at the hotel did a wonderful job. My roommate for the night, the imfamous Larry Ide, rolled in at about 7:00 just as I was getting ready to sleep, so we chatted a little before I could finally rest.

Day 1 Totals: Miles 222.49 Climb: 10,865 On Bike: 13:06 or 17mph Ave.

Day 2 Started out around 1:45 with a great breakfast burrito and some coffee as I made my bike preparations. I left from Saratogo headed toward the Snowy Mountains and the pass 36 miles away. Three other riders had left earlier, a Recumbent and two REAL bikes :-). I caught the real bikes before we made the turn to the Snowy Range, but never could catch up to the recumbent ridden by Chris Kaiser. The climb up the mountains was hard, slow, and cold. At about the 3 hour/30 mile point I was ready to pack it in. I was thinking that as soon as I got to Laramie I was done. Another hour of riding with the sun coming up and the beautiful peaks and lakes at the top of the mountain as well as a great descent down the mountain and I was in a much better mood and ready to ride.

After the major descent you have a long gradual descent all the way to Laramie across the high plains again. I made a stop about 20 miles from Laramie to take off a layer of clothing and discovered why Tim "Foon" Feldman had recommended that you carry bug spray. I was swarmed with mosquitoes and had bites all up and down my legs. Now I was itchy and unhappy but I kept riding and the itching finally went away.

Laramie was a great stop. Trish had setup at McDonalds and had me some breakfast biscuits and coffee and there weren't any bugs. I told her that I felt slow today and asked her when Larry left. She said that she was going to wait for Larry at the stop and see if I was slow or if it was the terrain. Off I went for Walden again.

The ride from Laramie to Walden starts off as an extremely flat 20 where you are riding straight at the mountains. The only thing that broke up my riding southwest was an 8 penny nail that when through the tire and the tube, and then stuck in the rim strip. After a quick tube and tire change I was back on my way toward Woods Landing. They have an historical marker for a Dance Hall at Woods Landing, but it was the wrong time of day to stop off to have a beer and checkout the dancing girls so I began my climb up to Mountain Home. The was the 2nd of 4 climbs for the day. The climb just sort of kept going and going but eventually I popped out on top. The descent to Walden wasn't steep but was long and sweet.

I made Walden at 12:20 and Trish had everything ready to go. We had to grab another tire, tube and inflator for the stash and I was able to grab some left-over pizza from the control. Trish said that Larry took about as long as I did to climb the mountains so I wasn't slow it was just hard. I never did catch Chris on the Recumbent. He had made a wrong turn out of the hotel in the morning :(. I left out of the control headed for Steamboat Springs at about 12:30 and I told Trish that if I could get there before 5:00 we would go on to Kremmling and skip the overnight.

The ride to Steamboat was mostly uneventful for the first 2 hours, but then I got caught in my first rain of the day. It was time to pull out my brand new Showers Pass rain jacket and give it a try. The problem was that it would rain on and off so I would stop, put on the jacket, then it would stop raining. I could never seem to tell where the weather was coming from. By the time I got to the junction with US40 and the climb to the Rabbit Ears passes the rain was behind me and I had a nice climb or two. After the morning's climbs this one was a piece of cake and the ride between the two passes was fast rollers so I was making great time. Then came the 7 mile, 7%, drop to Steamboat. FAST and FASTER.

I got into the hotel at Steamboat at 4:15 and found my friend Kay manning the station. They slapped me together a pannini and out the door I went for my 4th climb pf the day up to Kremmling. Kay gave Trish a briefing on Kremmling about hotels and the like. I DZ'd up and was back on the road headed west toward Oak Creek.

I was a little confused when I looked at the direction on my GPS - it said I was headed west. I was pretty sure that Kremmling was south-east, but I was on the right road. In CO sometimes you have to go 10 miles west to get south east. The first 10 miles toward Oak Creek were relatively flat, which was okay, but I knew that Steamboat Springs was in a hole and that I would be climbing at least another 2500' to get over Gore Pass.

After the first 10 miles the road narrows and the pitch starts to kick up and so did the thunderstorms. The climb up to Oak Creek was very cool because you overlook the railroad as it climbs out but, unlike the railroad, you climb and drop and climb and drop while it just takes this nice gentle climb. All the while it was climbing and dropping it was pouring rain with lightning to make the ride just a little more exciting. As I was entering Oak Creek, I was thinking that I should look for shelter. Then I hit a blue hole. Perfectly clear skies and no rain. So on I went. The rest of the ride down to Topenas was pretty fast, because the strom had brought in a pretty strong wind from the northwest. Along the way is a Giant Domino stuck in the ground, at least thats what it looked like to me as I road by.

The turn at Topenas changed my speed drastically. The gentle climb with a tailwind morphed into a steeper climb with a head to cross wind. Pretty much as soon as you make the turn you start a very significant climb for 5 miles but then it dumps you down in to a very beautiful valley so you get to do most of the climbing again when you actually get to Gore Pass. It was great climbing the pass just before dusk, there were dozens of big deer along the road and almost no traffic. The nice end to my long day was about to change. As I reached the top of Gore Pass at around 8:30 or so the rain started again. All I could think was I did all that climbing and now I have to go slow down the other side. Slow was a realative term. I did get a 9 mile almost unbroken descent at about 30. It was dark and raining so I held way back on the speed. By the time that I hit US40 it was full dark and the rain started to come down hard. So the last 7 miles into town was a killer - I was shaking and chattering and riding as hard as I could to get to town and the hotel.

Trish was on her way out of town to find me so she could show me the route to the motel and caught me about 1 mile before the city. I followed the taillights to a really old 1800's maybe hotel. The main hotel in town was booked up due to some biker event. We got the bike put in the van because the staircases in the hotel were too narrow for me to carry the bike up and then I was up into the room and a hot shower. I think I was under the hot water for 15 minutes. When I came out I crawled under the sheets and just sort of shook for another 15 minutes. Trish had found me some pizza from the bar next door so it was pizza, recovery drink and I don't even think I had a beer I was so cold and tired. Pretty sure I got in around 19:45 and was asleep by 10:30

Day 2 Totals Miles: 264.94 Climb: 15257 On Bike: 17:54

Day 3 - The last day started with a run up to Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. I hit the road around 4:20 in the morning with a cool but dry start to the day. The ride through the gorge with the Colorado River was neat and we kept following the river all the way up to the turn for Hwy 34 and Grand Lake. The road to Grand Lake has a couple of good climbs and is rather picturesque with the Lakes and the sun peeking thru the clouds. Again the ride in the morning felt pretty slow, but I'm guessing it's because it was just one continuous climb. When I got to the Citgo, TBear had some breakfast burritos from a local bakery and I tried them, but my stomach wasn't quite right. Trish said she thought it might have been the pizza since it didn't agree with her either.

Then it was back on the road and headed back to US-40 again around 7:15. The trip back to 40 was much faster, but once I made the turn onto 125 the climbing began again. This was also a very pretty climb all the way to the top. Just windy and not all that steep. I got passed by a girl about 5 miles into the climb and was going to try to chase her, but I had to take off my jacket because it was getting warm. By the time I changed she was too far ahead to catch. Then I saw her again coming back toward me about 5 miles later. About 2 miles before the summit another rider passed me. We rode together for a bit and talked, but I let him go. He was a little fresher that me since he had only been on his bike for about 10 miles. I stopped at the top and talked with him and another guy coming up the other way. They were asking questions about the 1200K and about the storms.

The descent down from the pass was not a continuous decent like some but had lots of oops - you need to climb this ridge so you can go down some more - points. It was kinda pretty until we dumped out onto the high plain and had to deal with broken pavement for the last 20 miles to my 3rd and final Walden stop. The only thing that broke up the monotony of that 20 was another flat. This time I think it was all the thumpa-thumpa of the road. I decided to pull out a new tire and make a complete switch out. Again, in the High Plains the mosquitos are thirsty and if you stop you will be their new watering hole.

I made it into Walden at about 12:15 and talked with Tim Foon Feldman for a moment about his mosquitoes and everything else to do with the brevet as I mentally began calculating how long it would take me to climb back up to the top of Cameron Pass and get my reward of a 60 mile descent. I told Trish that I should be to the top in less than 3 hours and to meet me there, (not for illegal support, just as a meeting place where I should be). So at 12:30 I headed out for the last climb of the brevet.

I made good speed on the way to the base of the mountains, keeping an average of about 16. Once I got past the base of the climb my speed reduced to less than 10 mph. I was beset by a new challenge. Biting Flies. They were really big enough to be called horse flies, but they dogged me all the way up the climb. I would be riding with one hand and swatting flies with the other. The climb went by rather quickly, but I couldn't stop to take in the view with the flies all around. I reached the top around 3:00 where I met Trish and said I should be able to cover the 26 miles to Rustic in an hour - it would be a fast downhill.

The downhill started out fast near the top. As I went to start braking, I found that I had forgotten to the tighten the rear brake after making the tire change. So I was sort of out of control on the descent. I used the front brake and the back brake all the way to the bars to stop, made the adjustment and down the hill I went again. Something was wrong though. I wasn't going as fast as I should be. This is when I discovered, to my dismay, that my 60 mile downhill was into a 15mph headwind. :(.

I got to Rustic in about an hour and 5 minutes and Trish had me a sandwich and gardettos and iced coffee and we even shared an ice cream cone. That was a very relaxing and pleasant stop. Then it was down the mountain into the headwind and on to Vern's. As I descended I watched the kayakers and fishermen and mostly just floated down the mountain with only a little effort to keep the speed up. Sometimes I would look up to see how high the canyon walls were. It was mostly a relaxing trip down the canyon.

When I got to Vern's at around 6:15 I went into the store to buy a chocolate milk and get my card stamped. The guy at the counter before me was talking about the T-Storms that were coming again tonight. I thought, no way - it's perfect blue skies, but in the back of my mind I was like - Okay, time to ride like hell to beat the storms.

I headed out south with a goal of being done by 10 o'clock. As I head south I passed by a Fire truck on the other side of the road that was stopped with a downed biker. It looked like a recreational biker had crashed and there were other bikers around him on comfort bikes. I tried not to think about crashing and kept riding south. Two miles down the road there was a car on the other side of the road with someone just sitting in it. I looked around and saw a herd of big deer and I kept pedaling south. I could see the thunderheads developing as I neared Loveland. I could see what appeared to be two distinct storms cells. I wanted to split them and make it thru so I was cruising at 20+ all the way to Loveland.

Just as I got to the turn on First Street in Loveland the storm really started to get strong so I made a quick u-turn and headed back two blocks to a firehouse that I had seen as I was coming to the corner. There were two people outside as I pulled up. I asked if I could hang around under the overhang while the storm went thru, they said sure and invited me into the firehouse and gave me a bottle of water. They pulled up weather on the computer and we watched the storms for about 20 minutes. Then I got back on the road again and headed south and west and south and west. South was fast, but the turns west were into the wind and slow.

As nightfall approached I could see a storm that seemed to be parked over Louisville. I was 30 miles out, then 20 miles out, and the storm didn't seem to move off to the east. After making the turn onto 95th street you climb up to the top of a hill and have a good view. The lightning was flashing, but still no rain, so I kept pressing on to Louisville. About 1 mile before Louisville the wind direction changed and started blowing into my face. I knew that wasn't good. Just as I got into town around 10:10 the rain started so I made a quick exit to the left and got under cover at the 7-11. Less than 2 minutes later the storm let go with a wicked amount of hail and lightning. I was glad I had made it under cover. To get hailed out less than 5 miles before the end would have sucked hard.

After leaving the 7-11 I crossed Base-Line Road and entered the construction zone. Next you make the turn onto South Boulder and you think - I'm home now. Then I get stopped by a freight train running thru the middle of town at 10:20 at night. So now I'm at the train crossing with all the cars backed up. There is no bike lane and the curb is full of running water. Oh well, the cars will just have to go around me. I hope.

I make it up South Boulder with a turn on A-V way and think now I'm done, right - wrong. The storm has dropped a bunch of tree debris in the bike lane and there is a car right beside me. Well, since I'm writing this, you know that I cleared the debris and kept riding to the finish where Trish met me at the front door and ushered in one very wet and tired puppy.

Day 3 Totals: Miles: 259.07 Climb 10319 On Bike: 16:30

Totals Miles 746.50 Climb: 36,441 On Bike: 47:30 Total 66:40 Riding Average 15.7

Post Ride: To show how much Trish knows me better than I know myselft, the van had a recall on it so she scheduled an appointment for 10:00am on Thrudsay. She knew I was riding this in 3 days before I knew I was riding this in 3 days. After we got the recall on the van fixed, Trish and I had some Mexican food for dinner and we went out to find Larry so I could ride in with him. We caught up with Larry's group about 10 miles outside of the finish and I got a nice easy ride in with Julie, Carl, and Ann. Then Larry and I took off for a loop of the Baseline Reservoir in Boulder.

After the Post Ride ride it was time for the after party. Since, when I ride I generally ride solo, it was nice to get to talk to so many people at the hotel. I talked with George Hiscox from Jackson, TN which is probably the closest rider to where I live and to James Solanick who knows good wheels and tires. Also Micheal, Mark, The Petty's, Ken, Vincent, Hamid, Chris, and many others and some whose name I can't remember. Please find me on FB if you want to chat or keep up - I'm the only Kurt Searvogel on Facebook because my son goes by Allen :-)

I hope everyone that rode has interesting stories to tell even if the event didn't end like you wanted. Enjoy Life and Ride On.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Changing Directions.

Well I thought this next blog was going to be about Calvins Challenge and the lessons I learned from that race, but a 1" bobble at less than 15 mph changed my trajectory for the moment and for most of the summer.

First I will cover Calvins Challenge by highlighting the 3 things that I relearned at Calvins Challenge. Nutrition, Pace, and Perseverance.

Nutrition isn't a race day or race weekend thing. Its an all week thing. I came into Calvins after a week of eating poorly and drinking too much. Which meant that by race day I was 5 lbs over my target weight. I pretty much did my prerace and race day nutrition exactly as was needed, but carrying that extra weight contributed to my not winning.

I went into Calvins Challenge with a goal of winning the Race and setting the course record which meant keeping an average of better than 22 mph. I knew that we needed to keep pushing the pace and get the first lap in around 2:10 and follow with it with laps of around 2:15, 2:20, 2:25 if we were going to have a chance. We hit the target on the first lap of 2:09, but we had too few workers and too many riders. I pushed myself too much during that section and the next 15 miles of the 2nd lap so that when the HPV came around us and started pulling into the wind at 21 I could no longer hold with the group. So, persuing my time goal guaranteed I would not win the race. This should have been learned from my experience at Sebring but I'm evidently a slow learner.

I also relearned that perseverance pays. I went off the back at 68 miles into the race which left a pack of an HPV, 2 bents and 3 diamond frames in front. I knew that I could no longer win the race, but I also knew that I was probably the strongest person riding on the course (J.S and Bryce probably don't agree) and that if I kept pushing I would come back. I did keep pushing into the ugly head wind and was able to come back to finish ahead of everyone except John Schlitter and Bryce Walsh - HPV's don't count :).

After a long trip back from Ohio that involved 12 hours of driving through storms, changing flats and watching lots of flood waters, I was ready to get back to my training and nutrition plan and put into practice what I had learned and resolved to do.

Tuesday was my day to swim in the morning and do an upperbody workout in the afternoon with my son, Allen. We finished up the lifting session and went out for an easy spin on our bikes along with Ralph. We rode out to Hurricane Creek to check out how flooded everything was and were on our way back to the house. We played bike tag and were generally messing around as we rode.

I had ridden up to Allen and we were talking when suddenly we were too close. Not a problem. I had taught Allen how to ride shoulder to shoulder on MTB's. Problem - we weren't on MTB's. Allen was on his road bike in the areo bars and I was on my bike-polo bike with supper narrow bars. I'm not sure exactly what happened, just remember my bike stopping and me flying.

Being an ex-wrestler and MTB'er, I've become very good at rolling thru crashes - this is probably the reason I don't have a broken collar bone right now. What I do have is a messed up shoulder.

I was able to get out and do a century ride on Friday and keep my streak of at least 1 double a week alive on Saturday, so the pain is something I can ride with, but it has caused me to make some changes in my plans for the summer. All of which will probably lead to a much happier and stress free me.

I have decided to remove RAW from my competition plans. I'm going to need to modify my training plans to take into consideration rehab time for the shoulder. If I'm not training to win the race, I'm not going to spend the $5,000+ plus it takes, plus jump thru all of the hoops that Raw requires just to ride 800 miles. I can do that for next to free any time I want.

When you combine that with the fact that Allen, my 13 year old, wants to go hiking the Rockies this summer you can see where I would much rather allocate my time.

Not training for RAW will also allow me to do Texas Rando Stampede as a much more leisurely and laid back ride. I think these changes will make life much more enjoyable for both Trish and I.

Happy Mother's Day, Trisha Bear.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Heart of the South 200 - Take 2.

Last year I raced the Heart of the South 200 and finished 2nd with a time of 10:46. I had finished 11 minutes behind Ed Walker, who had won the race the year earlier and held the course record at 10:24. I had led that race to the 150 mile point when I flatted. I flatted a second time, which made up most of the difference in the race. This year I was returning with two goals: to win and to set the course record.

As fate would have it, I ran into Ed at race registration and he asked, "Aren't you the guy that finished 2nd last year?" - My snarky reply was, "Yep, but I won't finish 2nd this year. I'll win". Guess that sort of set the tone for the race the next morning.

The Heart Of South 200 begins with a nice 2 mile downhill then a quick pop of a climb - I ran the climb and Ed and his friend Matt Murrell were the only ones to come with me so after 2 miles it turned into a 3 person race.

I set the pace for the first 70 miles of the race, doing most of the pulling - I would pull for 4 miles then rest for a mile with Ed pulling and occasionally Matt would take a pull, but we pretty much rode as a group. At mile 70 we had a little climb into Jacksonville. Ed turned the corner just before a truck and that put the truck between me and Matt. This was a problem because we got stuck behind the truck at a stop sign and Ed was able to put some distance between us.

I went into chase mode coming out of Jacksonville for the next 20 miles. I didn't see Ed for about 30 minutes, but finally caught sight of him as he was topping the climb out of the hollow. Then he was gone again until the flats leading to the Pac and Sak at CP 2. I passed Ed just as he stopped to refuel, but my stop was another 2 miles down the road at the bottom of the climbs, and Ed went by me as I got bottles and food.

I chased Ed up the first mountain climb and was gaining. As we got to the first top, I rode by him as he stopped to blow chunks. I thought, cool I can back off now because he's done. Wrong. Less than 2 miles down the road he came back around me and the battle was joined again. We suffered together for the next 8 miles riding up multiple long 20% grade climbs. Somewhere around mile 110 we hit a downhill with a quick climb out the other side that I was able to run up and put a gap on him. That was the last time we were together, but not the last time that he kept me pushing hard.

During the 3 mile climb to Cheaha, the highest point in Alabama, I thought I saw him behind me again, so I kicked it a little harder. I knew if he caught me he could ride my wheel, but if he didn't he couldn't catch me on the flats. So I pushed over the top of the mountain with a 2 minute or so lead.

After Cheaha, you have a long descent toward Talladega where the last official stop was. At the rest stop I was 3 minutes up. Trisha, my super excellent support crew, caught up to me about 10 miles past Talladega and said that Ed was 3 minutes back as of the Walmart in Talladega. I decided to kick it up a gear and had her wait and give me a status report. He had dropped to 4 minutes back. So I had her wait again and he had dropped to 9 minutes back.

I kept pushing hard through the last two ridge climbs and had Trish wait again at the top, about 20 miles from the end, to see how far back Ed had dropped. As I was riding in to the finish, the race support crew of Tanya and Josh came by me and told me that race record was 10:24 and that I should be able to beat it easily if I kept my pace. I stepped it up a little more.

Trish caught up to me about 5 miles from the finish and said Ed was 15 back as of the Top of the Ridge so I stopped pushing so hard. I knew I had the record and that Ed wasn't going to catch me. I cruised in with a 10:08 finish for the 197 miles and 12000' climb and set the new course record with a 19.4 average speed. I was off the bike for less than 4 minutes the entire race, which included stops and lights so obviously my crew did a great job!

Ed came in at 10:22 so he had ridden a personal best for the course, beating his record from 2 years ago and Matt finished in 10:29.

CREW notes:
Kurt said I'm supposed to write about the crew exploits. In this case, me, myself, and I were the crew. First you must understand that I have absolutely NO sense of direction. Please bear this in mind while reading the post as it has a definite bearing on the performance of my duties.
I got up at 3am. This is extraordinary in and of itself. I never knew for sure that the world actually existed at this time of morning. I had previously just taken it on faith. After I saw the racers off, I plugged in the computer and began charging Kurt's ipod so he could use it later in the race. Then I set off to gas up the van and catch up to Kurt. I took off in the wrong direction and turned around about 5 miles down the road. I backtracked and tried again. I finally caught up to the end of the racers and started the slow process of passing them. I found a station with diesel and started refueling while I went inside to get some coffee. I got stuck behind a person who was paying with nickels and dimes. Argh! Finally got back outside and realised that I had the slowest pump ever. The pump had only put in 4 gallons of gas. I gave up, got in the van, and set off again. Yep, I was at the end of the line again. Pass, pass, pass. I went by a group of 4 with one of them in black and white and thought, "Yay, I finally caught up with him". I went another 3 miles down the road, parked, and waited with a bottle. It wasn't him. Back in the van again and pass, pass, pass. I get to the first CP and 2 guys are there in black & white. They see me and start waving me on down the road. Still not Kurt. I finally catch up to him, go down the road a few miles and set up for a full restock. Everything goes well and I start patting myself on the back as I put the supplies away. This is when I slip in the gravel and do a belly flop in the parking lot of the church. It's no fair to hurt yourself at a church because you just can't say all the things you're thinking!

Okay, now all the bad stuff is out of the way and it will be smooth sailing. I mean, I finally found Kurt so it was all good, right? The oil light comes on. Oh, boy. I am about as good with vehicles as I am with directions. I am fairly certain, however, that this is not a good thing. I begin leapfrogging and turn the motor off while I wait. Eureka! The light didn't come back on. Life is good again.

We make it to the top of the mountain and I am quite brave and turn around and go to Talladega via real highways. Or maybe it wasn't bravery but cowardice. Last year I drove the road the racers were going down and it scared me witless. Uh, uh, no way was I going down those roads if there was an alternative.

Relief! I made it to the Walmart before Kurt. I also made it there before anyone from the race did either. This was a bit problematic because I had a drop bag from Peggy that I needed to leave there with the race people. Kurt left completely restocked and Ed came by about 3 minutes later. Tanya and Josh, part of the HOS crew, drove in just as I was looking up the number for the race HQ to find out what to do with the bag. Yay! Now I can go back to following my favorite biker. A plug here for Tanya and Josh. They were absolutely great. They were always willing to go the extra mile for any of the racers or crew members. Thanks!!

The rest of the race was fairly routine leapfrogging. Go ahead 2 miles on climbs or 3 to 4 miles in relatively flat areas, get out and stand by the road to be able to hear Kurt tell me what he needs, if anything. Or stand by the road with a bottle in hand and retrieve/refill the one he slings toward me. The entire time I'm driving I'm watching the road like a madwoman for the little white arrows telling me when I need to turn. Remember, it's the directionally challenged person driving here.
The last stop I make is at a little, abandoned, I thought, gas station. There is a hand-made sign stapled to the light pole saying they buy junk cars. Lovely. I make a hand-off and Kurt tells me to wait for Ed so he knows how close Ed is to him. A few minutes later a really old and rusted truck pulls up. A guy that would be an excellent advertisement for a hill-billy, complete with spit cup, climbs out and goes into the store. Eek! Guess it's not abandoned, it just looks like it. I exercise fortitude and wait for almost 15 minutes. I decided that was long enough and start to get into the van when Ed comes by. He says he is okay, just tired and I go into zoom, zoom mode trying to get past Kurt to the finish line.

I make it to finish in time to hear a lady asking directions from Tanya. She is supposed to meet her husband 25 miles from the finish to give him supplies. She then tells about missing him on one of their agreed upon stops because she saw a sign for fresh strawberries and went to buy some. Her husband went by and she can't find him again so she is going to drive the route backwards. I feel better about all the snafu's during the day after hearing that one.

Woo-hoo! Kurt makes it in 10:08. Ed comes in faster than his previous best and Matt, Ed's teammate, does really well too. It's a good day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tarzan Trains.

After completing the Texas Hill Country 600K it was time for me to do two solid weeks of training at Texas Hell Week and PAC Tours Century Week. My goal was to put in 600+ miles in 5 days at Hell Week - drive to Arizona and put in 700+ miles in 6 days at Century Week.

I had been recruited by George Thomas to drive Marko back to Fredricksburg with me on Sunday night after awards presentation for THC. We made it back to Fred somewhere around 8 pm. I dropped him off and headed to the Sunset hotel to meet my new roommate, Greg Gross.

Hell week rides.
Monday started off with what Marko and I were calling our recovery 200k. It was a 130 mile ride with lots of climbing. I think we finished in around 7 hours - not a super speedy ride but a good day on the bike.

Tuesday was going to be a 1/2 recovery day. I started out fast, playing the rabbit. Marko and Tom Rodgers rode me down about 10 miles outside of town. We rode together for the next 20 miles until Sisterdale where we turned for Kendalia. I had hated this road in the middle of the night on Saturday and hated it again as I chased Marko and Tom up and down for 15 miles. When we hit Kendalia I decided the rest of the day was a recovery ride. 100 miles

Wednesday was the Comfort Ride with the steepest climbs of the week. Marko and I rode pretty steady and fast for most of the ride with Marko climbing away from me on the big climbs on Sky Line Drive. We had ridden down to Comfort into the wind so once we got back to Old San Antonio Road we were able to fly north and fly we did, doing multiple 5-10 minute TT's at 35-40. 100 miles.

Thursday's ride was the whole enchilada. It took us down to Luckenback then up thru Willow and down this fantastic scenic descent. The only problem with the descent was that we now had a 1000 feet of climb into a head wind to get home. I had started the day with Marko and Tom, but after the descent I went into recovery ride mode to get ready for Friday's double. 100 miles.

Friday is 300K which is actually 201 miles with about 9000' climb. Last year I had done the route in 12:09 to set the course record. This year I was riding with Marko so I hoped to better it. The ride started out in the dark at 6 am, which meant that Marko followed me for the first 25 miles, because his light was useless (only met the specs for night riding with follow vehicle). Once it got light Marko and I worked together to the first stop about 5 minutes ahead of last years rate. From CP 1 we had to head south to CP 2 with some climbing so Marko and I rode our own paces and met at the CP. We were about 15 minutes up on last years time. This was pretty much the case back to CP1 which was also CP 3 for the route. I caught up after some flats and we rode a little together then we hit a large climb and Marko was off again. We were about 25 minutes ahead when we left CP3. Marco stayed out in front of me for the rest of the ride, leaving the CP's as I was coming in. I beat my time by 40 minutes, but Marco came in 10 minutes ahead of me.

The Roommate:
I got my room for Hell Week from Dan Driscoll, who couldn't use it because of conflicts. The room was a double queen room so I posted on the LSR website that I needed a roommate. Greg, who I didn't know before, said that his roommate had bailed and he would be intersted. He was doing the 200 mile THC and so we met there and then drove down to Fred. I got very lucky. Greg is easy going and knew lots of the people that I knew. He also helped me program my Garmin so I could use preset courses and didn't need the cue sheets.

The Routine.
Pretty much every day I get up, do my yoga and head out the door for my ride. Then once Greg got in, I would drive us over to Marko's and we would go in search of food. We ended up with some pretty good meals at the Rathskeller, Andy's Steak and Seafood Grill, Fredricksbug Pizza and the best was the Cotton Gin Village - go there if you are in Fredricksburg. We also stopped by the Fredricksburg Brewing Company.

Hellweek was great. I had a great roommate, a great training partner, and great food all the while getting in over 640 miles in 5 days.

I woke up at 4:00am on Saturday for an 11+ hour drive to Tucson to start my next week of training. Got in just before 2:00 MST and began the process of getting ready for 6 days of century rides and trying to figure out when to do my double for the week. I had moved everything into one Pac Tours bag, one supplies box and my computer bag from the haphazardly packed van. After an hour I was organized and ready to go. I met lots of old friends at the rider's meeting, then it was off to dinner with my new roommate, Stuart Levy, Terry Gooch and her daughter Amelia. We went to Morgans, which had changed its menu to just bar food. Disappointment.

PAC Tour Rides.
The Sunday ride down to Sierra Vista from Tucson was a harbinger of things to come. We started off the morning into an unfriendly head wind for the climb up to Sierra Vista. I rode for most of the morning with Mark Mandel who is training for a perimeter ride around AZ. We skipped the first stop and met Susan at the 2nd stop and found out we were way off the front. So we decided to add 20 miles before heading to lunch. After lunch I decided to ride the last 30 into SV alone.

Monday was the wind day from Hell. When we got on the bikes at 7:30 the wind was blowing from the south at 35 gusting to 50. Many riders, including my roomie Stuart, opted out of riding. I rode the first 15 with Mark and John, but they decided to do the short route while I turned and did the climb to the Coranado Monument. Then it was on to Bisbee, where I missed the lunch truck, then over to Tucson and finally back to Seirra Vista. It took me 7+ hours riding time to do just over 100 miles.

Tuesday was a great day to ride. We headed north, mostly downhill, into a slight head wind toward Benson. I saw a shadow jump on my wheel just after the stoplight in SV, so I kept bumping up my speed to see if they would hang. Started out at 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 - so I let up to see that Jay Torburg had jumped on my wheel. Jay and I had spent the better part of two weeks following each other around in Alaska back in 2006. Jay said that was all he had so I continued on down the road with a goal to not let anyone or any group catch me. Out of SV to Benson I rode to the 2nd Stop and turned around to meet the next riders and rode back with them into the Sag. I was about 4 miles up. Out of the Sag I took off chasing Joe Webster and caught him about 3 miles down the road. Joe and I stayed together for about 10 miles but he dropped off on a climb so I continued on to Tombstone alone. I got to Tombstone about 15 minutes before lunch was scheduled to open so I rode past the town for two miles then came back to lunch. I now was 8 miles up for the ride so I wouldn't have to look for extra miles when I got back to SV. Joe left lunch with me and we rode pretty much up to the Bisbee turn off together. Not sure exactly when he went off the back, but I finished up the day in 4:55 for just over 100.

Lon had convinced me to do my double century on Wednesday, because of how lunch was going to be done. We would leave on the exact same route as the rest of the group but extend our turn around point to Nogales which would give us an extra 40 miles, but we would still be back in time to make lunch. Then after lunch we turned north and did the Tuesday route to get us 203 miles. Mark said he'd go with me, but I had to not drop him out on the route. That didn't turn out to be much of a problem. Mark was able to suck wheel great and get out and pull some too. The ride started out slow going across the fort and we were only averaging 16 for the first 2 hours thru the hills. By the time we had hit lunch at 107 miles we had the average up to 18 and had pushed it over 19 by the time we hit Benson. The winds caught up to us as we started to climb into Tucson and it was a struggle to keep the average at 18.6 for the whole ride. We were able to meet our goals of a sub 11 ride time and no more than 30 minutes off the bike.

Thursday was a recovery ride with my roommate Stuart. He said he'd buy me a cookie if I pulled him around for the day. I thought that was a pretty good deal, so we headed out at a pretty brisk pace towards Bisbee. We rode together to Mule Pass, then we climbed the pass at our own pace. On the climb I passed by Megan and caught David at the turn, where we waited for Megan and Stuart. We then climbed up over the pass and down to Bisbee for coffee and my cookie. After relaxing in the sun for awhile, Stuart, Joe and I took off on a screaming downhill section. Stuart and I did some serious sling shot drafting pulls down the hill while Joe decided to ride behind us because we were just a little too crazy for his liking. We waited for Joe at the turn and rode the next 20 miles into the rest stop together. There we met up with Mark and John and headed off together. I went off the front to do an interval and part of the group chased, so I went back and picked up Stuart who didn't chase and we rode most of the route to Tombstone. About 3 miles outside of Tombstone, Stuart said he wanted to ride easy into lunch so I took off for another TT into lunch. After lunch Stuart and I rode back to Moson road where I detoured off the route to get my 100+ in for the day.

Friday was the ride back from Sierra Vista to Tucson. Since the route was only 80 miles I decided to go thru the Fort and turn south and do the ride to Parker Canyon Lake. Riding thru the fort is a pretty good climb with 1500' in the 20 miles, but the climb to Parker Canyon is another 11 miles with 1200' climb. The climb consists of about 800 feet of almost steady climb up a ridge line with great vistas for 6 miles. Then 4 miles of going up and down and up and down until you get to the lake. The views and the ride were well worth the climb. The ride to the lake added another degree of difficulty to the ride, because as I was going the wrong way the wind was shifting so that the rest of my ride was going to be into a north west wind. I made it to lunch just as they were closing up the lunch wagon. It was still 15 minutes before closing so they made me a great big ham sandwitch and I was on my way again. I finished up the last 15 miles of ride pulling Terri Gooch into the finish.

The Roommate.
My roommate for this tour was Stuart Levy. Stuart is an all around great guy and great roommate. Stuart used to be an ultra racer like myself until lyme disease sidelined him and now he is dealing with RA. He is working himself back into shape. Stuart and I had never met before, but we had 15+ facebook friends in common, so we had lots of common groups to deal with. Stuart also bought me a cookie, washed my jersey's on Monday when he didn't ride, and donated 1/2 hour massage time on Monday since he didn't ride.

PAC Tour Meals.
When I ride I'm there to ride - so meal time and the time by the pool are more important social events than the rides. The first night at Morgans had been a good chance to get to know my roommate Stuart and Terri Gooch and Amelia, which carried over into Sunday afternoon at the pool, where I became Amelia's new best friend. The pool was too cold for any serious swimming and the hot tub was just ok - so I didn't spend much time there this year.

Sunday night dinner was at Texas Roadhouse. Stuart and I were headed out and we picked up Stuart's friend David Solomen and David's Friend Megan Mebberson and started the trek. On the way out we picked up Veronica Beagan, Susan Reed, Mark Mandel and Mark's roommate Glen. We picked out our Ribeyes on the way into the restaurant and headed for a big table. It turned out to be a great meal with lots of good conversation and Lone Star Dark Beer.

Monday night was Applebees. I was on my own Monday night, because Stuart was off visiting a friend that had crashed his bike the day before. I went to Applebees to get their 2 for 20 special with an appetizer and two entrees for $20 and to drink me some Blue Moon. As I was waiting for my food I slid back in my booth and noticed that Mark and John were in the Booth next to me and David and Megan were in the Booth behind them. When my food came, David said that I couldn't eat alone and grabbed one of my plates and I grabbed the other and my beer and jumped tables. David and Megan are Aussie's and I enjoyed their company immensely. I especially like their straight forward manner. David and Megan had done a Tequilla shot and asked me if I wanted to join them. About 3 shots later David said he was done for the night.

Tuesday night was My Big Fat Greek Restaurant and I had two Gyro Dinners, one with a Salad and one with Fries. I was preloading for Wednesday's big ride. Good Restaurant for a chain.

Wednesday night Mark and I headed accross the street to celebrate the 200 miler with some pizza and beer at Vinny's. I definitely recommend Vinny's Pizza.

Thurday after the ride I had a meeting with Jay Torburg, who is the GM of Bike Tires Direct, about sponsoring me for the 2011 Ultra Race season and for RAAM Quest 2012. Jay offered me a great deal and is also trying to get me setup with a wheel sponsor (to be named later).

After the meeting I headed back to the Texas Roadhouse with Stuart, David, Megan, Jay and his roommate. Again we picked out some awesome steaks as we entered, then proceeded to have a great dinner. Warning - if you are looking for a good wine, don't go to Texas Roadhouse. Since Stuart has RA he is on a gluten free diet and can't have beer so I tried to buy him a bottle of wine and Jay also bought a bottle of wine. Neither were overly impressive. Good people, good food, and a shot of tequilla made for a great evening.

The last supper was at ?????? Grill with Stuart, David and Megan. David ordered a bottle of champagne. I had a taste and said I would stick with a red wine. The food was ok, but it was a great night because of the people I was with.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to: Micheal Kantner for loaning me a spare tire to carry with me on the 200, friends Robin and Gerhard, Lon and Susan, crew Doug and Susie Slack, and Gladys. There were many others I met in AZ, but I'm horrible with names - it was great time.

The last piece of training was a 1300 mile, 17 hour drive home with no more than 30 minutes of break time. Just like doing a long race.

Best of all: two weeks of eating and drinking anything I wanted and I didn't gain a pound. Just think how much I could have lost if I would have stuck to my diet.
2nd Best: I met my training goals with 375 miles in the race 640 miles at Hell Week and 720 miles at Century Week. Time to taper for HOS 200 on Saturday.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Texas Hill Country 600k

We started out for the Texas Hill Country 600K on Thursday afternoon by driving to Shreveport. I drove my minivan because I was heading to Hell Week after the race. Trish and Ralph drove the Race RV and Katelyn drove her car because she needed to return ro Natchitoches after the race. I got down to Shreveport about 5 and put in some speed work on the river trail then met my crew at the Horseshoe Casino.

Trish was just checking us in when I got there, so we headed to the room to unpack and then to the buffet for some dinner. After dinner I gave my crew each $100 to go play with, so Big Ralph and Trisha headed off to the casino while Katy and I headed up to the room to catch some AI results for Trish.

After about an hour I went back down to the casino and found Trish. She had made over $200 on video poker so I made her buy me a drink at the Crossroads bar. The band was loud and just ok - so I went back to the room and she headed back to the casino. Ralph got up to the room not much after me and he had also been very successful and pocketed over $1000.

We were up early Friday morning, and after a quick stop at I-Hop down the road we were off. I drove with Trish in the minivan and Ralph and Katy were in the Race RV. After about 3 hours we switched vehicles and drivers. This time Katy is driving the lead vehicle and we come to a point where we turn west and Katy doesn't make the turn. I call and talk to Ralph and he said the GPS in the van says go straight. I told them ok, keep following the GPS. But I was a little worried. I have Internet in the RV so I got on Google maps and could not figure out why their GPS was taking them to College Station, so I called back and asked them where the next turn was. They said the GPS didn't have a next turn. Rut-Roh - the GPS was just on map viewer and not headed anywhere. They were now 30 minutes down the road in the wrong direction.

Plan B - Instead of all of us heading to the hotel - Trisha and I diverted to the race course and drove the last 35 miles from Kendalia back to the Tri-shop (race start/finish) while Ralph and Katy navigated to the hotel.

We finally got back together around 4 and headed to an early dinner at the Outback Steak house, wjere I ate one of my standard prerace meals: Rack of Lamb with Garlic mashed potatos, loads of bread and topped it off with an excellent dessert. Then over to the Tri Shop for the pre race briefing. We got our race numbers and some instruction and then back to hotel we went.

Rise and Shine at 4:30, at least for Ralph and I in the Guys Room. A nice yoga session, breakfast, bike loading, 2nd breakfast and we were on the road to the start by 6:10.

I finally get to the race after a page of previews - what type of write up is this? I'm guessing it is my type of write up, because the race is about the before and after as well as the during. Now for the Race details.

We started out with a neutral roll out at 7:00 - George led us out and onto the main hwy to head out of Helotes. Once on the main highway I went to the front of the group to sort of move the nuetral roll along at a faster pace to keep warm. Bryan M on the B-Bike rolled up and we chatted until the go Line.

Someone always needs to be the race rabbit and I like the job so I got the race started out right, by taking off up the first slight incline and into the rollers. I was doing a good job of pushing the pace for the first 5 miles or so until we caught a steeper grade. This is when Chris, Marko, and Bryce all rode by me. Once we top the hill - we had a nice downhill section and I rode back to the front of the pack. This went on for a couple of more hilly sections, but finally Chris and Marko established a good lead and with the aid of stoplights were able to clear Bryce and I. There was a third rider that was with us for a couple of miles on a tri bike with aero helment, but I didn't know him and didn't see him after the first 20.

As we were leaving Banderas I got caught at a light and Bryce timed it right and rode thru as it turned green. So I played follow-the-Bryce for the next 50 miles or so all the way thru Vanderpool and most of the way to Leaky. I caught him on a climb into town and that was the last time I saw Bryce during the Race. After Leaky we still had some big climbs to Camp Wood then we turned north with the tailwind toward Rock Springs.

In Rock Springs my crew told me I was only 5 minutes behind Chris, which I thought was amazing because I had figured he and Marko were up the road a good ways. With the tailwind behind me - I started my serious chase to catch Chris and hopefully Marko. It took me all the way to Junction to catch Chris and it didn't last for long. I had a planned 2 minute stop at hour 9 which ended up being a few miles past Junction.

My crew did their stuff while I did mine and I was back on the bike and chasing again. This time it only took me 15 minutes to catch back up and this time I rode with Chris for a minute as passing him to see if he knew how far ahead Marko was. He said about 15 minutes so I set off to chase Marko and Chris decided to use me as a pace dog.

After the race Chris said he would watch me ride away on the downhill and flats then catch me back on the climb on the other side of the valleys. Typical - picking on the big guy that can't climb.

This kept on until Mason when we actually saw Marko's Crew who had waited for us so they could let Marko know how close we were. I think that was the closest we had gotten to Marko - we were 11 hours into the race averaging 21 miles per hour with over 10,000 climb done and we were still about 12 minutes back.

We pushed on to Llano with Chris following close behind. I didn't know how close he was until I stopped at 6:45 for lights and I came out of the van and he and his support crew were doing the exact same thing 50 feet behind me. Time to get a move on. We powered into Llano and made the turn South and into a very stiff head wind.

This is when Chris decided to say goodbye. He passed me and we never saw anything but taillights on the climb uphill and into the wind to Fredricksburg. I made an unscheduled stop because it felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. That's when Katy piped up - don't worry Dad - it's not you - it's just uphill all the way to Fredericksburg. Ok, that was great news. I'm back on the bike and grinding to Fred.

Once we popped up on 87 the wind was more of a quatering headwind and I think most of the climb was over so we made our 15 hours stop (we had planned stops every 3 hours). The next part of the ride was fairly uneventful with the ride down to Sisterdale not being too bad. Then we hit my own personal "I don't like this" moment. From Sisterdale to Kendalia is big roller country - you are either going up a hill or down a hill and not little hills and they just keep coming at you. I had to just stop about half way thru and take a 2 minute time out to drink some pedialyte. It think is was probably near my 18 break anyway.

After Kendalia we got on a back country road that I liked and had predriven. As we were riding toward San Antonio you could see a red orange glow in the distance. I was thinking city lights but as we got close we found a grass/forest fire on the course. The firemen were cool and waved us thru, but it was a quite a sight at 2 in the morning or somewhere around there. Sort of lost track of time.

The major problem at Kendalia was that we turned south again into the wind. You get kinda disheartened when your crusing speed has dropped from 20+ to 15-18 to 12-15. About 20 miles from the finish there is a school with a big wide shoulder and I decided to just stop. This is when my wife got out and played crew chief all over my ass. It went something like this.

Trish - What do you need?
Me - Just to Rest.
Trish - You can't stop to just rest. If don't need something you have to keep going.
Me - Ok give me an iced coffe.
Trish - 10 seconds later - Here's the coffee.
Me - Two Chugs later - handed Trish the coffee and down the road I went to the finish.

Finish Time was 20:25 and 3rd place. A race handicapper who shall go unnamed told me I'd do 22 and finish in 4th. I knew that he was predicting both Marko and Chris would beat me but he didn't tell me if he thought Bryce or Thomas would be 3rd.

This is not the end of the story. We return to the hotel and crash. Somewhere in the next 1-2 hours some dumb ass sets the fire alarm off in the hotel. I can attest to the fact that the fire alarm is loud and obnoxious.

That's the end of this tale. Stay tuned for Texas Hell Week.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A short Bio.

I was asked to write a short bio for a race I was entering. The first copy I emailed the race director wasn't even proofed, but after writing it I thought that it would make an interesting Blog Post.

Enclosed are the highlights of my 48 years on Earth as they apply to ultra racing. They are almost in chronological order although some are continuous and can't be put at any one place on the list.

1st - I was a Paper Boy back in Waupun, WI. I believe every great ultra racer starts as a paperboy in the North. Riding your bike everyday in all types of weather is a good beginning for a 12-15 year kid. It kinda makes you tough.

2nd - I was a wrestler. As a sport, wrestling is probably the most demanding. I was also a very determined wrestler, placing 2nd in the WI High School State Championship and winning the AAU Championship in 1981. This was at a weight of 155 lbs. This is the same weight of many of my current ultra racing competitors. I grew up in college and was a Division 3 All American at 177 lbs. A weight I still wish I was. Most ultra athletes were involved in some sort of athletics before moving to long distance.

3rd – I was a soldier and a Military Officer – My short and varied military career began in 1982. I ran out of mony to go to college after my freshman year so I signed up for ROTC. However, it was so late in the year that all of the Army Boot Camps were full. My only recourse was Marine Corps Boot. MCRD San Diego will kinda change your mind set. I completed Marine Boot and was transferred into the National Guard where I was commissioned after two years. Officer Basic Course also had an impact on my life. It led to my relocation to Arkansas and taught me the very important saying, "What, are they going to do take away your birthday?". Once you understand that concept you free yourself.

4th - I am the first Computer Science major from Ripon College. It took me 6 years with a couple of semesters in other places as I made enough money to finish up, but I was the first Computer Science major at the Liberal Arts School. I wrote the major, and I think they wanted me to leave so much that they let me count any class I took toward the major.

5th – I am the owner of Applied Computer Solutions, Inc. Building a company into a very successful and profitable venture requires the ability to plan and execute as well as learning that recurring revenues are much more important than one-time sales. Owning the company also provides the needed income that is required to travel all over the USA to compete in ultracycling events.

6th – I am married to Trish. Trish is what keeps me going in the right direction. If you have met Trish, then you already understand. If you haven't, then when you do meet her you will understand.

7th – I am the father of three kids. Katelyn, Rachel and Allen. The girls are high school senior and crew members. My son Allen is 13 and is my weight lift and yoga buddy as well as my spin riding buddy. Raising kids teaches you patience and, in my case, it brought me back from being a workaholic business owner that was 60 lbs overweight to being the inner competitor that I am. About 10 years ago my daughters wanted to play soccer and they needed a coach. It got me off my ass and turned me into a coach and an adult soccer player. Next, they wanted to do a kids tri which got me into triathlons and mountain biking.

8th – I decided to become a Mtn Bike Champion. The year I did my first Tri I also did a MTB Race as a Clydesdale. It hurt bad. It was on the hilliest course in Arkansas and I almost walked away. Instead, I set my goal for the following year on becoming the AMBCS Clydesdale Champion. To do this, I built a training plan that included attending PAC tours coaching week. That year I went on to win most of the races in the Clydesdale division and win the champsionship. I've met many great people and learned lots in MTB Racing. I’ve continued to race MTB’s over the years and even won my first Cat 1 Race in ‘09.

9th – I am the 2007 USAT Long Course National Champion in the old fat man (clydesdale masters) category. I had done a number of tris in 2005 and in 2006 I set my goal as completing IM Wisconsion. 2007 was my year to train for 30 days with PAC tours on the northern Transcontinental in preparation for Nationals. Triathlon has taught me balance in my training. This now includes swimming, yoga, weight lifting and, of course, cycling. I’ve had toe and ankle injuries that have really curtailed my running, but hopefully after surgery last year my toe will heal enough for me to start running again and make a run at a National Championship in the 50-54 age group.

10 – I am a PAC Tours veteran with almost 10,000 miles with Lon and Susan. I’ve done numerous desert camps, Alaska which was summer prep for IM Wisconsin, and a Northern Transcontinental which was my summer training for USAT Championships. Living in Arkansas isn’t great for cycling in the summer so I like to join PAC when I can for a summer outing.

11. I am the 2010 Ultra Cup Champion. An epic fail at the 2009 Tejas 500 showed me that I was a great 12 hour racer. So in 2010 I decided to see how good I could be competing at that type of race. I raced Sebring, HOS, Calvins, Balltown, Saratoga, Metamora and Ultra Midwest. I finished five times in the top 2 with 3rd and 4th in the other two races. I also tried a 24 hour race in Michigan with 449 miles, set cross state records in Arkansas and went back to Tejas to finish the 500. This was not a super fast time, but I only had to finish to win the ultra so I took a 6 hour nap.

With my exposure to Lon and Susan for more than 6 years now and my ultra cup background, I had thought about making a run at RAAM in 2011 and have been training with that as my goal. I haven’t been able to put together a crew that I think would get me across the US, but have decided that a better test for 2011 than the ultra will be to do many more longer races and two 1200k multiday events. The year started out with an attempt to break Chris Ragsdale's 502 mark down in Sebring 24 hour drafting race, but mechanical problems and the lack of drafting partners left me with a 473.

Now I have somehow been coerced into racing the Texas Hill Country 600k against some of the top ultra riders in the world on a course that will highlight the fact that gravity is a harsh reality. Both my wife and my friend, Larry Ide, said that I need to see where I’m at and that I do belong racing against these people. We’ll see.

Lonestar Randoneurs 400K.

The Lonestar Rando Group is a great bunch of people and one of the treats of a ride is the pre-race dinner on longer rides, or the post-race dinner on short ones - if you can find enough people. I was sad this time. Putting out fires at work kept me from making it to the pre-race meal.

The morning started out a little cooler than predicted and I was happy that I had brought my jacket. This ride started fast with Bryan McKenney and two other riders. Bryan and I started fast, working at 24+ and we were down to 3 riders by the 5 mile point. Byran was using this as his last training ride before Texas Hill Country so he was hammering all day long. I was hammering because that is how I ride. The third rider, who I didn't know, was doing the 200k and sat in for the first 30 but dropped when it got hilly.

I dropped off Byran's wheel at about mile 40 but caught him just as we got to the first control at 62 miles. We averaged just over 20 with better than 2500' climb. I was in and out a little quicker than him so I rode alone for about 6 miles until he caught me. Then we rode together for another 10 then he out clmbed me on his bent and I chased him into the next control at mile 101.

When I got off my bike, I found that I had lost a bolt on my cleat and had to rip my foot out which turned my cleat sideways. I was in and out of the control fast, but stopped about 1 mile down the road to fix the cleat. I couldn't find my tool and Bryan stopped and loaned me his. He said he would drop me on the hills if I couldn't keep up, but wouldn't leave me behind due to mechanical problems. I straightened the cleat and got clipped in and Byran and I rode to the turn around at mile 126 together.

When we got to the turn around I had to step off the bike with one foot and loosen the straps on the shoe so I could pull my foot out. I walked into the store with one sock and one shoe, got some drinks and headed back to the bike. Getting off the bike proved easier than remounting the bike though. It was rather comical. We were out of the turn around in 6:45 with over 5000' climb and we were at the low point of the ride so we had the hills to do backward plus we were climbing up hill.

Byran again dropped me on the way back and I didn't see him at CP 4, which was CP 2 in reverse, but I caught him as we came up to CP5 at 5:30pm or 10 1/2 hours into the ride with 190 miles down. He said he thought he had dropped me for good. I told him I get stronger as the day goes on. The truth be told, I think I may fade less. We got our food and put on our reflective gear and lights and left out of the last control and rode together for about 10 miles.

This time I left him on the hills and headed toward the finish just as it was getting full dark. I rode on my own until Mineola, which was easy because we were on a 22 mile section with no turns, but once we got there I needed to try to read the cue sheet. This proved to be hard since my glasses were fogged and I was permanently clipped in unless I wanted to take my foot out the shoe. I stopped once in town to read the sheet to see that I needed to go 6 miles to the next turn. Then as I was riding I realized the glasses were so bad that I couldn't read the garmin. So I stopped again and tried to do a back bend to get to my bag and find something to clean them. I gave up and relied on my seeing the road signs and my fading memory for the turns.

Also, somewhere during this stretch, I tweaked my hamstring and had no power up the hills without standing. So, with all of my faffing around and my slower pace, Bryan caught back up to me. He had his garmin preprogrammed so I let him do the navigating and pressed as hard as I could with my messed up leg. Byran had a target of 14:30 to finish so we pushed as hard as we could with 14 hours of hard riding already on us. We pulled into the Walmart parking lot at 9:28 with 252+ miles.

Next time you see Bryan ask him about sleep riding.

Garmin total was 252.72 back to the car with a total time of 14:30 and a riding time of 13:50. Total average was 17.5 with a riding average of 18.3. Not a bad day.

My apologies to Gary and crew that rode again on Sunday for not making the 200k permanent, but with the messed up cleat and the tweaked hamstring I decided to call it a rest day and came home and go bowling with the family.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sebring 24.

Trish and I left for Sebring in the Sprinter on Thursday morning. The weather had finally turned from winter to spring and it looked like it was going to be a great weekend to be riding a bike. We stopped on the way down and caught a quick 30 minute ride on the long-leaf trace in Mississippi before stopping for the night in Tallahasse.

This was our first trip with the Sprinter as the race support vehicle so everything had to find a new storage spot for everything we wanted to carry. The van travelled extremely well and it was great being able to go in the back and jump on the internet or make a sandwich while travelling. Overall, I think the Sprinter will be a great race van. I just have to convince race directors that their rules need to be written so Sprinters are allowed as a follow vehicle, or I just won't worry about those races. Also, everyone at the race seemed to want to get a look at the Sprinter and see how it packed. Had a couple of offers, but it's hard to find a low mileage Sprinter at a decent price and I'm not ready to part with mine just yet.

Friday's drive from Tallahasse to Sebring was a tale of two citys or actually two drives. I drove the first part down to the rest stop at Gainesville and since we were flowing on interstate we cruised along just fine. The second half of the trip was more like dying a death of a 1000 cuts at every stop light on hwy 27. Based on the GPS estimate of when we should get there versus when we finally arrived - we had burned an hour waiting on lights. I was lucky because for most of that section I was in the back working on the computer when not being bounced by the bumps, but Trish kept us going and we finally arrived at the race site around 2.

Once we got to the hotel, I started to setup the bikes and get ready for a hot lap around the middle loop while the Tbear checked us into the hotel. We parked next to the b-boys and I talked with John S, Sara K, Jackie and Jay Yost for a while as I was unpacking. After about 30 minutes of B.S. and prep I headed out for a fast lap around the middle loop. I was able to push better than a 23 average for the 11 miles without working too hard and I was feeling great. I had come with a goal of beating Chris Ragsdale's 502 mark and this seemed like a good omen.

After cleaning up and moving all of the bikes and luggage to the room we headed off to Publix for some last minute purchases and then to Ouback for one of my standard prerace dinners. Every time I eat at Outback before a race I get the New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Cabernette sauce with Garlic Mashed Potato, Black Bread (lots of Bread) and a Stella. A balanced loading of carbs/fats and proteins. As Mr T would say, "I Pity The Fool" that carb loads eating only cheap pasta that doesn't give you the balance that you need in your prerace meal. Enough Preaching.

As usual my dinner was excellent and as I had talked Trish into ordering a Steak at Outback, hers sucked. Outback sucks at steaks and Trish never orders them, but they had a special Tucson ribeye that waitress said was "so good" that I talked trish into trying it. Bad Choice. Medium, came out rare on one side and medium rare on the other with a crappy cut of meat. Thing is that Outback is good about not wanting you to pay for food you don't like so Trisha's steak was free so it was a cheap date.

As we were walking out I was able to add to my carb loading and do my good deed for the day by buying two boxes of Girl Scout cookies. I got the berry flavored one and Trish got the thin mints. They were a great dessert.

Once we got back to the hotel it was time for check-in and more B.S. with people, then up to the room for last minute preparations and a bottle of pedialyte. The forecast was for highs in the 80's so I knew it was going to be a day I needed to prehydrate and prefeed correctly.

Well, we finally made it to race morning. It's 4:30 and time for me to do my morning yoga then it was time to take the bike down to the race van and cook my first omelette. Back up to the room and another trip to the van to get everything laid out and cook my second omelette. Then after some more Faffin' around I got on my Race bike and rode to the timing mat to check the chip and pick my spot at the start.

Sometimes when you line up at the front of the pack you get some posers but, as it would play out, the people that got up front Saturday morning knew where they wanted to be and why. To the left of me was Brett Walker, the top RAAM Race Finisher at the event and to the right of me were two of the top 12 racers who stuck with the group for the 100 miles. As we took off Brett sprinted off the line and led everyone out. I was close behind, but since he was a RAAM racer I let him go and didn't see him again until mile 40. The group was content to hang behind me for the first lap, but then I was able to drop into a rotation with Wes and Jeff and a couple of other 12 hour riders.

Our group set a fast pace on the way out to the turn around with an average 23.5 mph. We caught and dueled with Brett for about 4 miles and finally were able to put him back after 3 stong pulls in a row. The turn around at the race was a mess. It wasn't marked well and didn't have a cone to signify where to turn just a couple of buckets on the side of the road to throw the chips. So we all came to a screaching stop and threw our chips and headed back. The ride back was even faster than the way out and we had gotten our average up to 23.7.

Mile 84 is where things started to come apart on my run at 502. My shifter cable broke and I was left with 53x11 or 39x11 which isn't that bad a deal when you're in Florida, but will get old after 24 hours. As we cruised back into the turn around at the 100 mile point our group had dropped down to 8 people and we formulated our stop strategy to allow for a quick bathroom break and the shedding of clothes and picking up some bottles.

Some people stuck with the plan and some didn't. We left the first stop with 3 in our group and two in front of the group and the other 3 nowhere to be seen. Our group of 3 caught the two that didn't stop within the first two miles and one of the riders jumped on so we were a group of 4 for about 1/2 a lap until the one that didn't stop decided he now needed a pee break and we were a group of 3 again.

On the next lap I had to stop to change bikes to my backup bike. This is a change because you have to move the timing chip from the front fork of one bike to the other. The change only took me two minutes, but the two guys I was riding with decided they couldn't wait for me. This toasted both them and my 502 run. So after mile 112 I went from a drafting race to non drafting race. I rode alone for the next lap and 1/2 until I caught my two riding buddies, but by then they were fading and only rode with me for another lap and 1/2.

While I was out riding in the 80+ heat Trish had been trying to get a new shifter cable put on my bike so I could switch back to my race bike. Finally, she got it back after having 3 different people work on the bike. So I came in with 216 miles in the books, switched the bike chip again and jumped on the race bike. Then I started to really get mad. Somebody, claiming to be a bike mechanic had completely toasted my shifters. I could only shift up not back down. I got it to work for a while, but then I had to jump off the bike and undo the bike cable and go back to riding 53x11 or 39x11 for the next lap.

Back in at mile 228 to switch bikes and this time pedals also because the cleat had broken on the backup bike. So I was finaly back out on the road. During the heat I hadn't eaten much so I was starting to get slow with my lap times dropping from 32-35 range to the 39 range and I was finally caught at mile 239 by John, Jacquie and either Troy or Kent, so I jumped on as we headed into the track for the rest of the night. I finished up the 12 hour with the B-Boys with 256ish miles and kept riding.

Once I got to the track the temps started dropping and I got into a pretty good rhythm turning 12 minute laps and getting down a pretty good feeding and drinking schedule. For most of the night I would have a cheese sandwich on the even hours and a starbucks coffee and ibuprofen on the odd hours with cytomax to drink along the way.

As the night progressed the wind kept changing directions - for a while it was from the east then swung back to the west. That's when the racers were treated to a rare south Florida treat - the bog fire. About 2 miles west of the track was a bog fire backlit by the lights from Sebring. So when you would make the turn west on the long back straighaway you could see what looked light a volcano of smoke billowing into the sky. The problem was temperature inversion which brought the smoke back down on the track, which meant we were treated to a large dose of second hand smoke during the last few hours of the race.

Overall it was a good race for me finishing up with 473.3 miles. The race could have been much better but if it weren't for the Bear keeping me going I could have just quit and walked away after all the bike B.S. So a large thanks to my TBear.

The best part of the race was how I felt after the race. After I finished, I turned in the chip, got in the van and went back to the hotel for a quick shower then back for awards. While waiting for the awards a person told me that it wasn't fair because I looked like I wasn't even tired and the thing was that I wasn't I could have kept riding and riding at the pace I had set up.

After awards I did go back to the hotel and Trish said it was like I just passed out as she posted the last race report on F.B. But I was up in two hours and packed the van while the bear slept. So, I'm happy with this race and now it's on to the Texas Hill Country 600K.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No RAAM This Year.

It looks like RAAM isn't going to happen in 2011, and it may never happen because the logistical demands of RAAM and putting together the requisite crew is a nightmare.

After I started my "lets do RAAM" dance in January, I was told that you need to start planning for RAAM at least 12 months before the race start to have everyone and everything ready for the race. I now believe this person was right. I wish RAAM was run like it was back in 80's, when you could get by with smaller crews and you didn't need to be a lawyer to be able to read and comply with all the race rules.

A Big "Thank you" to the people that have offered to help in many different ways. I'm glad I have people that I know I can call on if I need help.

I'm at peace with the fact that RAAM may not be in my future.

Stay tuned for the new plan to be announced shortly.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

To RAAM or to Ramp it up?

I haven't posted on the blog in quite a while. Maybe I'll go back and catch up on the events that I missed at the end of last season, but for now it is time to plan a new season. I know that lots of cyclists have contemplated doing RAAM, few have tried and even fewer have succeeded. I'm not talking team RAAM, because that isn't RAAM, that's a way for the race to be profitable. I'm talking about the Solo race across America.

I've been thinking about doing RAAM since my first Pac Tour training camp back in 2005. Since that time I've ridden many miles and done many races. In 2005 thru 2008 I focused on triathlons, mountain biking and adventure racing. In 2009 I made my first foray in ultra cycling and last year I set my goal as winning the Ultra Cup.

I was able to accomplish this goal thanks to a great training plan, the advice of many people and the loyal support of my family who provided me with a great crew for many of the events. This year it is time to take it to the next level. Time to increase the distance and difficulty of the events and to maybe reach for the top of ultra racing. RAAM.

The difference between the ultra races and RAAM is not night and day, but it is large. This year I have the finances and time to do the training to complete RAAM, but I do lack one very important ingredient, a crew that can take me across the US. I have 4 people committed to my crew right now and need to recruit 4 more. I specifically need a bike mechanic and nurse/doctor, (someone that can give I.V.'s), and at least two other people.

Right now I'm ramping up everything. I've developed a training and racing plan that includes a 24 hour race, a brevet series, 600K race , a 500 miler, a 12 hour race and 1200K. This will at least double and maybe triple the number of 20+ hour rides I have done. Yep, to date I've only done three 20 plus hour rides so I definitely need some seasoning and this training plan has at least four 20+ hour rides and 3 days straight of riding 250 miles on the 1200K.

I've also updated my site with all of the information regarding RAAM-Quest 2011. Please visit the site and check it out. If you're an English major, email me with any incorrect grammar. If you're a bike mechanic, email me with your resume. If you own a company, email me with a sponsorship offer.

So, right now I'm ramping it up and hoping to get the crew I need to be able to do RAAM. Next up is a 300K in Texas and then the 24 hour at Sebring. I hope to see alot of you at Sebring. By then, I should have a definite plan to accomplish my new goal.