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.