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.