Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Bank of Pain And Suffering

To steal one from Bobke: I have made some hefty deposits lately. Bonksville, population me.

Jen is preparing to make the mother of all deposits soon....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

I am so confusing now....

As one of my good Asian friends said to me one morning, "Brendan, I am so confusing now."

Is anyone else so confusing about this?
http://singletrack.competitor.com/2009/12/news/usa-cycling-forging-on-with-pro-xct-series_4925

IMO, this is probably why grass roots /local racing and endurance mtbk racing has become more popular here in the US. I am not complaining at all because I love the way our local series (WORS and MNSCS specifically) and one day races are run in the Midwest. Maybe this is how mtbk racing is supposed to be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Closure Thoughts

My season is over and has been for a while. After racing with a cold/flu at 24 of Moab I got really sick, and I just didn't feel the desire to race much when I recovered. Mind you, I did not stop riding=) In fact between riding and hockey, I end up with more "hours" in this time of year that I do during the season. I hesitate to call what I do (ever) as training...sometimes I ride hard, really hard, and sometimes I don't. I always play hockey hard, but that is the nature of the sport. Either way, I am excited every day I get to ride my bike!

This past season I had much more success than I expected, and I felt pretty strong and stayed fit most of the year. I was pumped to win the MNSCS again, and the only real downer was not winning in Moab. I can think of a few reasons why things went well: less structured riding, more rest, better equipment, more lax attitude. However, most of what drove me was the loss of my son Ty. I dedicated and will continue to dedicate every race to him, as he never had the chance to experience the thrill of racing. Any time I was really suffering, he was there giving me an extra little push... I look forward to more of those little angel nudges next year=)

Friday, October 23, 2009

MNSCS Awards

To the MNSCS community:
Please do not take my absence at this years awards as me blowing them off. We have had a family camping trip planned for months (prior to the awards date being picked) otherwise I would be there. The MNSCS had a fantastic year of growth and was the best yet in my years of racing. Thanks to all who made the series what it was this year!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

24 Hours of Moab

Short Version:
I was hoping to end the season donning the stars and bars, but it wasn't to be. However, the overall experience in Moab was fantastic!
Today I am home with no voice and about 1/2 of my lung capacity looking out the window at SNOW????
Long Version with pics:
Last Wed I met my dad and uncle down in Des Moines where we boarded is 41 foot bus style RV=) From there we (and be we I mean my dad and uncle) drove straight through to Moab. I moved between a leather couch, a lazy boy, and a queen bed during that time. By far the easiest travel out to the mountains ever!
Upon arrival in Moab, we roughed through the 3 mile jeep road that lead back to the venue. This venue literally rises out of the desert about 10 miles South of Moab. So cool. We set up camp an I got out for my first lap Thursday evening. Ben Portilla and Ben my brother arrived a little later that evening with Max Taam following the next day.
We spent Friday getting bikes ready, relaxing, registering, setting up camp, and smashing one of our faces in.... yep, Max had a spill on one of the hundred or so rock drops during a pre-ride. He came back with a swollen face, but following a sneeze, his eye just closed up! Luckily Ben P's dad is a ENT Doc so he could diagnose it as air build up in the eye lid/sinus tissues..nothing serious. There was a CHANCE it would open up in the next day, and we had about 14 hours until the start. To add to this, I could barely swallow with a sore throat and chest cold, and Max was suffering from a similar disease (we both came down with it ~2 days before the race).
Oh, the course, the course was a 15 mile mix of slick rock (so sweet), rock gardens (awesome), sand (grrr), and jeep roads (aahhh, whatever). The altitude was 5500-6000 feet. Overall it was very challenging with probably 1/2 of the 1200 feet of climbing on slickrock or rock gardens.
At noon, with perfect weather Ben P lead us out and with Max's eye still shut we planned a 3 man rotation. He came in a couple minutes behind the leaders, and I started out hard like I normally would. I reeled in the leaders w/out too much trouble but found myself very short of breath on the first extended slick rock power climb. Between altitude and my chest cold, I knew IT wasn't there. I slowed down a little with my legs feeling fine but throat and lungs burning. I finished frustrated with a mediocre lap time. Ben followed with a strong lap, and we were with the top teams when Ben P went back out. We fully expected a lead when Ben P came back but instead found ourselves 10 minutes behind. He flatted, twice.
We continued the 123123 rotation until Max's eye was about 1/4 open. At that point, he went out and was able to ride the smooth sections quickly, but had to be careful (limited depth perception) on anything technical. Our plan was to try to avoid night laps for Max, so Ben and Ben did a little rotation giving them 3 night laps each; then I picked it up w/ Max giving me 3 night laps and only leaving him ~1 night lap.
For me, my first night lap was a blast! I took it easy as my cough was getting unmanageable, and I just rode like I was on vacation...SO FUN=) My last 2 night laps were rough. After a long break during the Ben rotation, I just felt horrible and bonked on both laps. Luckily Linda, Max's massage therapist showed up to see how we were doing, so I got massage between laps. That was heavenly.We finished the race with a Max heavy rotation as his eye was almost 1/2 open by morning.
The race finished reasonably close given the circumstances. We finished 3rd in the entire race with 20 laps. The 1st place team did 20 laps ~30 minutes faster and the 2nd place team was ~10 minutes faster.
Once again, we couldn't have done the race w/out our support staff. Thanks Tegan, Dad, Portillas, Lisa, Becca, Sydney, Linda, and my Wife (for supporting me in going).
Overall, given the adversity our team performed admirably. Given a healthy crew and 3 less flats...who knows, but as I always say, "That is part of the game."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just One...

I gave single speeding a try this past Saturday at the SS State Championship. It came to me Wednesday (I had a week off and time to think between jobs - left Seagate for Beckman Coulter in Chaska). A quick stop in to see Hollywood, and I was on my way to single speed heaven: a Top Fuel single speed. Yep that bike hit one more rung of XC racing. Saturday was my 3rd or so time on a single speed, but the first time in a couple years and first time on this bike so I had no idea what to expect. I got lucky (with Tyson's help=) and chose close to the right gear with a 42-18 combo...I could have gone a little taller, but I would have needed a stiffer suspension setup. Anyway, the State Championship win has me excited to try some more single speeding next year. I don't know when or what courses, but the Fuel SS will make another appearance.
After a 1:10 SS race, I found myslef at the starting line of the elite race - with gears. It turned out to be a fun but grueling 2:20+ added on to my earlier race. About 1:30 into my second race I pretty much popped. My legs were ok, but my lower back from all that SS'n was blown. I stumbled home in 4th. SamO was riding awesome as were Eric and Luke.

So finally 24 Hours of Moab is on the horizon - in 1.5 weeks! The main reason I skipped Chequamegon this year was to save body and motivation for this race. I will be racing with my brother Ben and a duo from the Trek/Honeystinger team of out CO, Ben Portilla and Max Taam. My bro is coming on strong with a recent win out east, Ben P got 4th Overall in the Pro division of the Mt States cup, and Max is coming off a solo win at 12 hours of Snowmass. I hope I can keep up with these speed demons! The competition will be tough and exciting, and every lap is sure to be a nail-biter.

Until then, I may find myself at a couple starting lines....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

29er or 26er

The data is compelling, but maybe equally effective in changing things are scare tactics.

Monday, September 14, 2009

#29

29 down, 2 races left to go....the final MNSCS in St. Cloud and 24 Hours of Moab (team).

My 29th mountain bike race of the year felt just like it sounds, tiring. I had what I term "crappy" legs all week since Maplelag. I was sore/tire later into the week than I remember being all year, but there was no way that was going to stop me from making a trip with Chris and Jen Fisher up to Spirit Mt in Duluth on Sunday. The course is like a transplant of Mt Snow (or other NE style trails) in the Minnesota: by far the rockiest, rootiest trail I have done in the Midwest. It was a 2 lap epic, which is always welcome change after some of our 5-6 lap races we do. More than half-a-dozen elite riders flatted and at least that many more had big crashes. I managed to avoid both but did doink my carbon Bonti XXX lite rims on several rocks (knock on wood but they are still very solid).
All that said, I felt more like a pin ball than a proficient singletrack rider on Sunday. In talking to Scott Kylander-Johnson after the race, he claims that there are good lines through it all....I just didn't find some of them=) Beyond that it was a tough race. Off the start I got a good gap, but ScottKJ pulled the OBros back to me by the bottom of the hill on the first lap. Over the next 700 feet of nearly continuous technical climbing I was able to drop Eric and Scott and gap SamO by ~20 seconds. It was a relief to not see Scott with SamO because they surely would have closed that on the ensuing downhill. I rode a lot smoother on the second lap even though it rained for a bit making the roots and rocks a little slick. I ended up with the win and a little over a minute on SamO. Michael McBurney, a rising XC bike and run (or so I learned in talking to him after the race), star put in an awesome performance to round out the podium. He is another one to watch out for in the future!

Next up is a REST weekend (no Cheq for me this year). I need to save body and motivation for our charge in Moab.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Soaking in the legs in Little Sugarbush Lake was Heavenly...

Maplelag is my family's favorite biking weekend of the year and this year it came with a cherry on top: perfect weather.
The racing action was hot and had TJ beating me in the XC and overall by 11 seconds, but let me start from the top.
One of my goals coming into the weekend was to set the course record for the TT that Doug set the prior year. Well, Doug, TJ and I all set the record, but I was just a little faster...1 second faster than TJ at 9:36 for the 3 mile course=) So things were off to a good start, but I was wondering how long the legs would hold out after the 2-4 last weekend....
The STXC is a super fun course that saw a group of about 5 of us getting away. You can see TJ and I were excited about it (not sure what I was doing=)!
I didn't want to try to sprint Doug so I attacked on the second to last lap, but slipped a little on a loose turn. At that point, I caught back on and just rode it out, as Doug put in a last lap attack and got a little gap on us. Again, it was a tight finish w/ Doug, TJ and I finishing within 1 second of each other.

That left the XC, and it was on like donkey kong! With some "All about Performance" pumping us up and a very well done singing of the National Anthem by Jack Richards, we were ready to go. I felt fine at the start and decided to see if everyone was awake so I turned it up a little, which left TJ, Doug, myself and SamO just off the back. I knew at this point that my power on the climbs and doubletracks was not there, but I continued to have a blast railing the rocky, rooty, twisty singletrack that is Maplelag (built by mountain bikers - for mountain bikers). For the next couple laps, the lead would change several times, but eventually I was able to gap TJ and SamO in the singletrack.. at least it was a gap that wasn't immediately pulled back as I crawled along the double track sections. Going in to the last lap, things started to fall apart. My legs were cramping even though I was hydrating well...it was the muscle fatigue from Afton finally setting in. I had to sit up a little so my legs wouldn't seize; it was PAINFUL. TJ caught and passed me on suicide hill as I soft pedaled up the big steep climb. I kept focused and continued to dangle off his wheel for the remainder of the race. I could see him the whole time, but when requested more power from the engine room, all I got was more cramps. TJ and I met at the finish line both with smiles on our faces however because it was an epic 2 day, 3 race battle that came down to the very end. Awesome.
Pics are from Bruce at Skinnyski.
I should note that the my 8 day marathon of 24 hour race, a TT, a STXC, and XC were all done on the same bike...my Top Fuel(s). The only tweaks I made were to the lockout/propedal and tires. I have never owned a bike that is the exact right tool for ALL those jobs with no compromises. All I can say, is that if you get a chance to demo one this Fall or in the Spring, do it...
Enough writing for now. Spirit Mt this weekend.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Guest Blog: Mr Dan Dittmer

Dan is a friend, teammate, co-worker, and repeat winner at 24 Hours of Afton. Here is his race recap:

It was another perfect weekend for the Salsa 2-4 Fest. The forecast was calling for a chance of rain, evening temps dropping into the 40's and 20 mph winds but none of these things materialized. There were over 50 entrants in the solo category including Sean Nelson and my Velo Rochester teammate Charly Tri who I knew would be serious contenders for the win.
The race started with a le mans start. I went out hard enough to avoid the traffic but didn't make any attempts to keep the race leaders in site. I kept a close eye on my Garmin heartrate monitor and tried to keep my heartrate below 165.
Charly had a sizeable lead for the first couple laps but I slowly reeled him back into sight. We exchanged the lead several times. We continued like this for the first seven laps...always staying within a minute of each other. I found that he would always pull away from me on the singletrack and I would usually catch back up on the climbs.
Each lap I was drinking a half bottle of Hammer Heed/Perpetuem, bottle of Gatorade (from my camelbak), and a handful of Sport Beans and Skittles. At the end of each lap I would swallow down most of a can of Mt. Dew and maybe eat a chocolate chip cookie or two. Most people would expect to have bad stomach issues with a diet like that but this crazy combination of sports nutrition and junk food usually works really well for me.
My stomach started getting a little off on lap 8 which made it hard to ingest enough calories. Allie scrounged around camp to find some food alternatives and eventually we discovered that I could stomach Coke and Pringles. I didn't eat much while I was riding on laps 8 through 11 but I forced myself to keep getting fluids down. At the end of each lap I ate Pringles and sipped on Coke. Just before lap 11, Mike (Allie's dad) made me some chicken noodle soup. Over the course of the next hour that soup seemed to get my stomach functioning again.
Charly had opened up a 15 minute lead while I was working through my stomach issues. His lap times had barely even slowed down since the start of the race. Knowing how strong Charly is I wasn't sure I'd be able to catch back up but I reminded myself that I still had something like 15 hours of race left so anything was possible.
Much to my surprise I found Charly sitting in camp after lap 12. He decided to take a little break and fill up on food before heading out again. He suggested that I should take a break as well which was very tempting since the sleep monster had been creeping up on me during the last lap. Since my stomach was finally feeling good I figured that I better keep moving. I drank a Red Bull and had some more Pringles and soup and took off on another lap.
Those hours from 3am until sunrise are always the toughest. There are fewer riders out on the course and most of the time you are completely by yourself. The extent of your world is the bubble of light given off by your headlamp. In other years this is when I get clumsy and start bouncing off trees and rocks. This year the Red Bull worked its magic and I actually was able to maintain a respectable pace all night. Each time I rode through camp I was informed that Charly was still resting so by sunrise I had a 3 lap lead.
Things get much easier when the sun comes back up. The light makes it easier to ride faster and I could shed the 5 lbs. of lights and batteries I had been carrying all night. The sun also brought warmth which felt really good on my achy muscles.
Charly had fallen into third place at this point but he turned in a 47 minute lap when he started riding again. I figured he would reel in second place really quick at that pace but he came down with some GI issues that forced him out of the race.
A steady stream of friends met me at camp though out the morning. It felt really good to have so many supporters out there. Every 3 or 4 laps I would also get some well wishes from my other Velo Rochester teammates that were racing on a 4 person team as they lapped me yet again.
At this point I had a healthy lead so my mind started turning to how many more laps I needed to do before I secure the win and stop riding. My support crew gave me the stats on the top 5 riders each time I completed a lap. The told me that the race for 3rd and 4th was really tight which meant the second place rider would likely be pressured to keep riding which ultimately meant I had to keep riding. Finally after 21 laps they informed me that if I did one more lap it would be mathmatically impossible for anybody to beat me. As a bonus my friend Tim who was doing the 8 hour race had waited for me at camp and offered to ride the last lap with me. I wasn't exactly feeling fresh but it was fun to have somebody to ride with. I could tell that Tim wasn't having to work very hard despite the fact that he had already done 4 laps in his race. Even though my whole body was hurting I found myself really getting into the single track and really
enjoying what I hoped was my victory lap.
It felt really good to cross that finish line and know that I was done riding. I was completely exhausted. My total ride time was 21:13:28. I had stopped for a few minutes between each lap but I had never stopped long enough to sleep like I had done last year. Jeffrey Austin-Phillips crossed the line just a few minutes after me having completed his 18th lap which was good enough to secure 2nd place. Tim Hayes had to keep riding for the full 24 hours to secure 3rd place (even more impressive considering he was riding a single speed).

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

32K = Monkey Butt

For the second year running, my Velo Rochester teammate "Dirty" Dan Dittmer rocked out a solo win at 24 hours of Afton. He won by an astounding 4 laps climbing 32120 feet over 165 miles. I am awaiting an email from him and will post a guest blog when I get it...for now, I can tell you that he is still walking funny this morning (he is a co-worker too).

Paul sums up how the team felt after the race. We each did 9 hot laps (a less impressive 13500 feet or climbing each=) winning the race by about 2 laps. For some reason my legs felt stale prior to the race, but I pulled out the "race" bike - the other laps were done on my backup bike -and did a ~33.5 minute first lap (hottest lap of the race dispite what peaktimings fastest lap link says). When I came in, I would have predicted a 40 minute lap based on how I felt out there. Jack "Kid Slapshot" Hinkens put in the second hottest, a 34.5 minute lap, on Saturday morning...impressive for a 24 hour first timer.
I also got some bike experimenting in. I left it in the big ring for the first 2 laps to see if a 1x9 setup makes sense for me. It really wasn't that bad. In statistical nerd speak, I can't disprove my null hypothesis that a 1x9 with 42 tooth chainring is reasonable;)

Hopefully I can recover enough to have some gusto at Maplelag this weekend. I am not sure right now...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pleasure and Relaxation

If all goes as planned, 4 of us - Chris, Paul, SamO and I - will be riding the rough stuff for 295 miles while climbing 56,500 feet (combined) between 5 pm Friday and 5pm Saturday....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zen and the Art of Passing

Sunday was a pretty packed day for the family...play date, race, and flight.
Jen and Tegan headed out to a play date early and took the day "off" of racing. Tegan still managed to skirt a nap...grr.
I headed over to the WORS race in River Falls to do battle with the great group of guys over there. It was a nice hard start that sorted things out, which saw a group of 6 of us off the front. Soon after, Nathan Guerrera had a flat leaving 5 of us: Mark, Jesse, Mike, TJ, and myself. We rode together for most of the rest of the race. The MO was to hammer in any of the labeled "passing sections" and then take it easy in the singletrack. We all had each other marked and the one small climb on the course was taken seriously each time. Laps 3 and 4 were passing fests... for the most part, people were great about it, but it is no fun for us or them when 5 of us have to sneak by. On the final lap, I thought I was holding the right cards. To that point, I had been under very little pressure, but TJ put in a ferocious attack...it was pretty sweet except for the fact that I just barely couldn't hang on. Mark was the only one to match him, with Jesse popping and Mike holding my wheel. I knew that if TJ and Mark got lapped riders between us it would be almost impossible to real them in....with a 5-10 second gap in that first field, it happened. After an a comp racer endod in front of us on one of the bridges and a few other rough passes, I told Mike that they were gone. We went fast from then on but didn't have the advantage of yelling "race leaders" coming, which garners a little more respect. I didn't know what to yell..."chasers" ?? =) Mike put in a nice little move about a minute from the finish line that put 5 seconds on me..he claims that Matter did it to him the year prior. I am getting someone with that next year! The finishing shoot was a dangerous S-bend so I don't think a sprint would have been a good idea anyway.
The race was what I expected and I had fun. My constructive criticism would be to run the experts and comps at different times with fields that large and laps that short (maybe elites on Sat afternoon)...or be sure that the laps are longer. With 4 or better yet 3 longer laps, the passing is much more reasonable.
I couldn't stay for awards, as I had to hurry home, catch a shower, and head to MSP for a flight out to Longmont CO. If I was a "real" pro, I would be coming out here to ride, but I am out here on business deploying a new metrology for hard drives. I would tell you what the metrology does but then I would have to ....make sure you don't tell Western Digital=)

Thanks to the WORS organizers and volunteers for inviting us over. You guys and girls do a bang up job. Maybe we can return the favor next year at Afton=)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ankle socks and khaki sorts

I had the night open (Jen & Tegan at her parents) so I headed up to an area the world knows as a golf mecca....while I like golf, it is really a mtbking hot spot, the elusive Mammoth trail. Geez, I forgot how raw and challenging the singletrack is there, or maybe I am just out of "mammoth shape."
The Goodyear blimp seemed to be following me the whole time. Hopefully they didn't get any shots of me dabbing=)

Its all about performance...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn29DvMITu4

Monday, August 10, 2009

Intensity

Busy week.....
First, Ben (my bro) and Jake (Richards) hit up the National at Mt.Snow on Saturday (I was a little jealous). Ben scored a 35th place after a back row call up...awesome! Jake won his age group and took 6th overall in Juniors...awesomer!

It was busy for me too, as I did a 3 short but intense races: TT at Murphy Hanrehan on Wed, Buck Hill Thurs Series, and Buck Bump on Sunday. Whew! It felt good to lay on the couch and watch James Bond last night.
The TT went well and I bested my time from last year by over a minute.
Buck Thurs was fantastic...not my racing, but the fact that 230+ racers showed up for a mid-week race. There were probably 50-70 kid racers on top of that. Tegan wrapped up his season with a strong performance .. he only cut the course once (trying to follow me inside the cones) and got 2 piece of candy for his effort (vs. the typical 1). =)
Buck Bump, MNSCS #7, was to be a laps 71-76 for me out at Buck Hill this summer by my calculations. Needless to say, I have seen enough of that course for a while. I knew it would be a short race even though it was six laps. Several of the "usual suspects" weren't there due to Ore to Shore, a National, and Leadville preparation. I decide the best plan would be to get in front and punch it from the start so things could sort out before the lapped traffic began. I ended up putting time into the chasing duo of Jesse and Eric T each lap and finished with the win in a little over 1:10. Charly Tri, one of Velo Rochester's endurance specialists, had a really strong performance posting 4th...he will be one to watch for 24 of Afton in the solo division.
Next up is another TT Wednesday and a WORS race this weekend. Maybe next year we will do the combo WORS/MNSCS race on a MN style course like Afton=)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Absurd Commuting

While an R3 SL w/ Aeolus 6.5s is not a necessary piece of equipment for commuting, it is definitely entertaining:

Note: The wheels are a borrowed item from Penn... Tyson told me to give em a whirl, which I plan to on our lunch ride today. I know my co-workers are excited.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Punchy

Yeah, if you weren't up for ~1000 accelerations per lap, you probably had a rough one out there on Sunday. The Elk River course is a new and welcome addition to the MNSCS, and while the biggest climb out there is probably 40 feet of elevation gain, Rich's GPS says that there is still 1000 feet total per lap. After racing it, I wouldn't argue w/ that figure...either way, it was a little piece of singletrack heaven.

From the gun, Devin Curran opened up the throttle on his single speed...nice! I managed past him on the only doubletrack climb (part of the lap but included in the prologue, which helped sort things out). As I pulled back onto the road for the remainder of the prologue I looked back an I had a good gap. I didn't feel like being a carrot from the start so I let up a little and Jeff Hall caught me. After catching me, we started chatting and I told him to go first into the single track...he wasn't eager though. Basically, on a course like this, I knew he would be the one to beat. Our conversation lasted a little too long and a charging field caught us. I made a quick acceleration getting into the next first bottleneck 4th wheel, and before exiting the prologue I was 3rd wheel behind Justin Reinhart and Jeff. Justin was putting down a solid pace so I just waited as the engine began to warm up. It is a often easier following the first bit for me especially on more technical courses like this one. When we came upon a "technical section" with a bypass, Justin and Jeff took the bypass, I went straight down the pile of gorilla-head-size rocks and skirted into the lead. From there, I just rode the singletrack as fast as I could without being inefficient. I was able to steadily open the gap up to 2 minutes by then end...I suffered some doing so, but it was still fun cruising the singletrack=)
The only big mistake I made was that I forgot to have a Gu on board, and my energy levels were hovering around E for the last 40-50 minutes of the race. However, the Gu2O was JUST enough to keep me going until the finish.
I will be out at Buck this week and will follow that up with a weekend at the Fisher family cabin. Chris is going to let me try his new Jet 4 road wheels...I am pumped!
I will post some pics when I find some...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Last night at Buck went better that I expected... after fair amount of fun riding last weekend, a heart stopping Tuesday, a solo lunch ride on Wednesday (too nice to ride slow), and that uh-oh-bad-legs feeling in warm ups, I wasn't sure that I belonged on the front line. However, I was pretty sure the ensuing laps would have me on the red line.
Doug Swanson showed up to make things interesting, but after a hot first lap I was able to gap he and SamO. My legs were too close to locking up so I couldn't put in another big surge. The gap to SamO grew slowly, and the first two laps were very painful. I finally found a maintainable groove for the last two and was able to cruise in alone.

Equipment setup update: I tried a new fork setup last night that seemed to work well...for those that know Rock Shox, I locked my fork out but turned the "floodgate" almost all the way off (one click in). Then I lowered the fork pressure. This left me with a fork that feels kind of like the old Fox inertia valves except it can be preloaded and never gets "confused" (those that rode the FX forks know what I mean). I am going to give it a few more rides before I commit to this, but it definitely felt stiffer sprinting out of corners while still being compliant over the bumpy stuff.

Cheers.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Flat Goosebumps

Ok, the flat and the misfunctioning air can I can take... thats part of the game (thanks to the neutral support for getting me going again after I had given up and was walking back to my car).
Being cold at a starting line on July 16th...I cannot=(

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Breezy Point - Memorial - Breezy Point

Last Friday, we cruised up to Breezy Point, MN for family vaca... however, that was not going to stop my dad and I from cruising down Sunday to Red Wing for a race that I have missed several years in a row.
This is another MNSCS destination where, simply put, if you don't like the Red Wing course, you probably don't like mountain biking. The course was a little longer this year, but with cooler temps, I don't think anyone was complaining about an extended Sunday ride.
I made a mistake on Sunday leading out the race. Beyond the first "whoop" section, I didn't remember anything about the course and given the twisty track, knowing where you are going is imperative for efficient riding. I dropped the field in the section of course that I knew, but some of them pulled me back when I overshot a couple corners later on. SamO was riding the strongest and he led Jack and I around until the start of the third lap. BTW, after a double-flat-bonk WORS race last weekend, Jack came back really strong. It shows mental toughness to recover from something like that to race well.
Going in to the third lap, I was FINALLY getting in the singletrack groove, and I took a couple Roctane's after the 2nd and 3rd laps that were starting kick in. SamO and I gapped Jack, and other that the climbing, I was having a blast (my legs were not very good on the climbs). In the "prologue" part of the last lap, SamO told me to keep it hot (or did he say consistent, I can't remember=) through the single track to get more of a gap on Jack. I did keep it hot and was able to put some time on him. From there, I suffered through the last time up the "Stairway" climb to claim the victory.
Again, we had another great MNSCS turn out. Lets all keep it rolling!
I have a couple days left up here at Breezy Point before returning to reality. I am sure Jen will have some updates on our activities up here, but suffice it to say, we are enjoying ourselves.

Monday, June 29, 2009

'Kato Klimbing

Sunday proved to be perfect in just about every way for a bike race. The temperature, competition (another big MNSCS turnout, AWESOME!), spectators, and course conditions couldn't have been better. That said, I didn't get the result I wanted.
Off the start, Jason Sager, a Jamis team rider from Utah, lead us up the ski hill and into the singletrack. He was going hard, but I was hanging on just fine. About mid way through the lap he punched it up a climb and got a gap that I couldn't close. Jesse and Cam were chasing, but the order didn't change for the rest of the race.
I am not disappointed with the result, as I was not the strongest rider out there on Sunday. My legs were mediocre, but I did really enjoy the flowing course at Mt Kato.
Oh, one thing that was not cool on Sunday...reverse call ups. Don't you usually go 1st-10th not 10th-1st? Strange.

This week I am off work (Seagate furlough) so Jen, Tegan and I are headed to the Dells for a couple days sans bike. After that, we will be back for a day and then head down to my Grandparents place in Des Moines for the 4th. I am sure I will squeeze some riding in somewhere=)

Happy 4th Everyone!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Relaxation and Fun...what summer is all about

Jen recapped Tegan and I's camping Friday through Saturday morning, so there is no need to add anything other than that we had a blast=)

After returning home Saturday I mowed a couple lawns (our neighbor is out of town and I didn't want his pregnant wife to be out suffering in this heat), and accidentally managed a wicked sunburn. Ouch!
I was feeling a little tired after that given the little and light sleep from the night before so I took a nice long nap...no riding Saturday, but I got some LONG overdue maintenance done on the bikes that afternoon. Dang, before kids/house/wife/demanding job, my bikes were maintained with so much more care! I guess I will just have to keep refreshing them at a rapid rate because they usually work well when they are new. Hehe.
Sunday, Jen told me I could do whatever I wanted. Thus, I got out for one of those great summer rides that reminded me why I started biking in the first place. My plan was to go until I got tired, but after 5 laps at Leb I decide to call it due to time and not being tired. I took a Gu packet every lap with some water and the legs just kept going. I was only rolling 43 minute laps so I wasn't killing it or anything, but man was it fun.
This week looks to bring hot temps and hot racing at Buck and Kato. I figured it would be getting hot soon w/ Kato coming=)
Cheers

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spankin'

The Dirt Spanker Classic pushes you to the limit from the very start. If you have raced it, you know exactly what I mean....bottom to top of the ski hill right from the starting line. It generally does not feel good to do that whether walking, back country skiing, or biking. Sunday was no exception.
My right leg was on probation Sunday, at least for the start, as I had two bad starts in a row at Buck with it. The left leg got me off the line quick enough, but I had no intention of trying to lead it up the hill, because if you would have asked me in warm ups how I would do, I would have told you last place. I just was feeling sluggish, and it was tough leaving with my dad for the race because Tegan begged me "Daddy don't go" (he would have been fine if he was coming - he LOVES bike races). This is a tangent, but I am often asked why I don't do more national races, for Daddy's I need not say more.
Anyway, Jack led us into the single track, and after wrapping himself around a tree I took the lead. I rode reasonably hard through the first lap, which put Jesse yo-yoing off the back of SamO, Jack, and I. Up the bottom-to-top climb I took it "easy". I still wasn't feeling snappy so I dropped it down a few gears and rode tempo. The funny part is that the hill gets so steep that the front wheel starts lifting off if you don't lay on the downtube...i.e "easy" is relative.
I think Sam sensed weakness because he punched it over the top and took us down the 50 foot deep whoop (IMBA would NOT approve=) into the singletrack the second time. I wasn't necessarily bluffing at this point, I just was still playing 'em face down. About 1/2 way through that lap I was riding well below the anaerobic zone when Jack pulled a Superman. I got by and chased down Sam. I fully expected Sam to drop me on the next ascent, but he didn't and near the top, I looked over to see him suffering pretty badly. I took my turn leading into the singletrack and quickly formed a gap. I was riding like I was out at Mammoth cruising alone in the woods... nothing fancy, nothing overly aggressive, just riding singletrack.
To my surprise, I continued to pull away and rode it home alone for the W. SamO and Jack followed me in.
Summary: racing on some of what I consider to be the best singletrack in the Midwest (ranks right up there w/ Mammoth, Spirit Mt, Maplelag, Chequamegon Forest to name a few) makes those long nasty climbs totally worth it.
Dana supplied the amazing pics above.
This weekend I won't be racing, as I plan to take Tegan on his first camping trip. He is excited and so am I!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Oooooops

I took third last night at Buck....I deserved the thrashing Jack and Sam gave me. My start was atrocious for the second week in a row. I couldn't clip in, got stuck rubbing tires in the middle of the peleton, and had to pass ~30 people in the first couple hundred yards by going through the weeds (new course route had very limited passing so getting to the front at the start was imperative). I redlined and my legs filled w/ lactic acid doing this. I never was able to flush them, and after two laps I had to let Sam and Jack go, as they were riding better than I. Oh well, they can't all be good days=)
The new course was great but needs a few more passing areas. Knowing the Penn guys they have something up their sleeve for that.

Du Lac this weekend. I love the course...well except for the start;)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Fuel and Fueling....

Since I last described my ride this year a few things have changed...some have made the bike weight less and some made it gain a few. After all the mods, the bike settled in at a svelte 21.5 lbs.
Mods/updates:
1. I picked up a second Top Fuel 9.9so I can have one strictly for racing. Being able to race and ride/train on the same bike is extremely helpful. Thanks Trek and Rochester Cycling and Fitness!
2. I have settled in on a Rocket Ron 2.25 front tire and a Racing Ralph 2.1 rear tire. So far these tires have handled all the conditions, especially the sandboxes, really well.
3. The DT swiss carbon shock was swapped out for an RP23....imperative for racing this bike in my opinion.
4. MOST notable is the change from i9 wheels to the new Bontrager Race XXX lite carbon wheels. This was a tough decision because the bike gained over 1/3lb with these wheels. That said, I have never been one to compromise durability and performance for weight. The XXX aren't heavy by any means at 1420g w/out tubeless rim strips, but they aren't a 1325g wheelset like the i9s.
5. Switched back to XTR rotors because the new wheels are centerlock, and I wasn't happy with the breaking power of the hope floating rotor.
6. I pulled my front lockout of the bike. I almost never used it so I figured why keep it on there=)

Fuel:
This bike is simply amazing. A teammate of mine, Dan (won 24 of afton solo last year), test ride the bike and he described it is as "cheating". He know is the proud owner of one. I don't know if I would take it that far, but ... =) To be perfectly honest, I was pursuing a hardtail as a second race bike but after riding and racing a few times on this speedster, I though better of it and doubled my pleasure.
Probably the two main things I notice over other bikes I have ridden (from various manufacturers) are the resistance to pedal induced lateral flex and the ability of the rear suspension to track the ground when braking. With the platform off it is almost impossible skid.
The wheel choice may seem odd to some given the weight "gain", but I think stiffness and robustness are more important than a few grams. The descending performance of the XXX lites is the best I have ridden, and on a course like Afton being able to rail corners with the bike is imperative. The wheels are also supposed to be pretty tough....I will evaluate that when the season is over, but so far so good=)

Fueling:
This doesn't seem to be a hot topic on blogs, but it is definitely a key piece to the racing puzzle. Pre-race, I take Sport Leggs electrolyte pills 1 hour before the race. I have found that these keep the lactic acid down from the ferocious starts of mtbk races. I follow the is with a Gu brand energy gel (that the only brand I use) about 10-15 minutes later, and then again near the end of my warm up 15 minutes before the race start. I prefer the Gu with caffine for that little extra kick! During my warm up I drink Gu2O to stay hydrated and get a few more calories. I have tried other drink mixes but the light taste of the Gu2O is very easy on the stomach and provides just as many calories as more sugary drinks like gatorade.
During a typical 30 minute lap in a race (I have to adjust for courses w/ short laps like MNSCS #1) I try to get at least 1 bottle down per lap. However, I the fluid in the race bottles is not just Gu2O. I combine 1 electrolyte pill with 2 scoops of Gu2O in each bottle. This gets me a little calcium, which I have found is very key to keeping the cramping pings away. If you are a salty sweater like me, you may consider this mix. I also will take 1-2 Gu gels depending on how I am feeling..I use this to supplement the nearly 400 calories in Gu2O.
Finally, after the race, I am usually not hungry, but some amount of recovery calories are necessary. Velonews got me on to this, but I drink about 2 servings of chocolate milk. This goes down pretty easy, tastes great, is high calorie, and contains everything most of the recovery drink mixes do.
So that is it...all nutrition my secrets revealed=)

Next up racing wise is Buck Hill and the MNSCS #3, the Dirt Spanker.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Super Bad

If any race in the midwest were worthy of a McLovin' related title it would be the second MNSCS stop, the Afton Avalanche. Jeez, the thing has more climbing than any race in the midwest and boasts a climb that for the first time this year forced me not only out of my big ring, but into my granny on the 2x9. The technical nature of the trail's descending (and some of the climbing) makes it worth every cramp and lactic acid spike.
I still ended up being sick for the race. It wasn't as bad as at Buck Hill on Thursday, but I couldn't take in deep breaths and my nose was like faucet. I think this showed a little in my lackluster first lap where I didn't necessarly attack, but I did try to push it. Yes, I left it in the big ring on Shady Lane=) Jack Hinkens, who continues to impress me, and Jesse, who has always been a great cyclist, followed close behind for two laps when I started to get an "out of sight" gap. After lap 3, I was getting the cramping pings. I didn't hydrate well the first lap, but other than that I think it is mostly due to my race-into-fitness plan. I really haven't hammered/raced for over 1.5 hours this year. Either way, I spun lap 4 with reasonable speed and closed out the win in MNSCS #2. The only thing I would change about the day is the fact that, unbeknounced to me, I lost 15 seconds per lap to Jesse and Jack by taking the long way around one of the two spots where the trail offered a technical section split/ride-around. I am not one to shy away from fun technical features, but all the sign said was "trail splits" not "technical short cut". I went straight each lap with no one to show me otherwise; I should have gone left.
In the end, I think this picture from skinnyski.com (pic above from there too) of a Freewheel rider sums up afton:

Next up will be Buck Thurs and no racing this weekend as I am heading to Janesville Wisco=)



Friday, May 29, 2009

Rookie

Tegan broke into the bike racing scene last night at Buck Hill. His 1 minute 35 second race was very grueling, but in a post race interview he said that the large Air Head taffy payout made it well worth the effort.
Tegan also said that he has at least 6 more races on the schedule this year. Most will be around 100 yards long and in preparation he plans to do some hard training intervals playing choo-choos and going down slides.
Sorry no pics for the debut.

I too raced last night with a chest cold still dragging me down. After a couple race pace laps, I turned it down a bit on the last two laps but was still able to hang on for the win. I hope this darn cough is gone by Afton on Sunday. That is the last thing I need if it is indeed the full 24 hours of Afton course 4 times ...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memooreial Fest

Almost my entire family was able to make it back for memorial day with the only exception being my brother-in-law Joe who was stuck managing his Famous Dave's in Janesville WI.
That amounts to 12 of us inundating my parents home in Rochester and makes for a grand ole time.
After running, screaming, biking, and gardening the weekend away, I think Tegan was left with no gas in the tank because he slept 11 hours last night=)
I too came out of the weekend somewhat damaged with a cold. I hope it subsides in time for Afton!
I did get out on a couple rides - one with each brother. My younger brother Brad and I went out for what we intended to be an hour and a half stroll. However, I wanted him to "experience" the Oxenburg climb (25% grade) so it ended up just shy of 3 hours... a little long for a guy who just got his first road bike a month ago=) Either way his bonk was awesome and catastrophic.
And who can forget Ben? Who needs a race when you have Ben? We went out and suffered together on Sunday for just about the equivalent of a xc race. My intention was NOT to hammer (cold was coming on), I promise, but when I was forced into my biggest gear going UP the first hill, I knew that an easy ride was not what Ben had in mind. For those that have ridden with us (mostly Fisher), you have experienced this display brotherly love=)

For now, I will work on getting better and keeping my lawn from dying.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Number 2

Buck hill races never get easier...going fast or not, you suffer out there. Last night the construction curve ball was a lumpy loose climb added to the start. I think I at least made contact with the pitch=)

I took the lead from the gun and set what I considered a reasonable pace up to the pavement climb where I went ahead and put the meat down. This gave me a gap, and I didn't let up much from there. I finished with Jack chasing (again) followed by Jesse who is coming on strong.

After several races now I am ready to review this year's gear, so look for that soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hard week...but a payoff

After a very hard week at work (I still have my job, but many friends were affected) and the added stress 3 races in 8 days, I was elated to finish on top this Sunday.
I have come to accept and enjoy the atypical MNSCS course that we start our series with. There are no big climbs, no, rock gardens and barely any roots, but there are wicked corners and you have to be on the gas the whole time.
My plan this year has been to race into fitness, so the race Sunday was to be my longest continuous "hard" effort of the year (previous races only ~1 hour). I just am not that motivated to go out and hammer by myself very often and with ~30 races on the schedule, I shouldn't need to.

There was no prologue loop this year (??) so the hole shot was pretty key. I went for it and got it. From there, Doug and I started to separate from the field. On one of the twisties I slipped out, and he took the lead for the rest of the first lap. Starting the second lap, he slowed down letting me know it was my turn to pull=) The challenge of the day was to see who could lay it over in the loose sandy corners the farthest without going down.
Before kicking off lap 3, I turned to him to ask him if he wanted "it" (the lead), but he didn't so I pushed it through he tight and twisty portion of the course. A gap started to open and it grew over the next 3 laps. I was able to roll home solo for the win with the legs still feeling pretty good. At the finish, Tegan was glad to see Daddy, but even more happy that I had some "juice", aka sport drink, left in my bottle=)
The pics above are all from Skinnyski.com...they do a great job of capturing the action!
Thanks for reading.
-b

Friday, May 15, 2009

$1 Hill

Buck hill started last night with a bang. The turnout was ~150 and people were ready to rock the hill again!
After a pedal slip at the start I gained control and raced up the hill. With no north woods (that flowy singletrack will be greatly miss...at least by me), it is now pretty much a continuous climb from the lowest to the highest point out there.
Jack Hinkins, a new young high school stud, chased me around the first lap in impressive form. After I punched it on the second pavement climb, he dropped out of sight. From, there it was autopilot race mode.
The only problem I had was that my seat position was to high and too far back. I almost pulled a hamstring on the first climb. I did the subsequent climbs on the nose of the saddle and felt much better.
The bike rocked and so did the new wheels. I will give a proper equipment "review" after a few more races.
See you all Sunday!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Here Mr Gopher...

Busy weekend:
Saturday we all headed up to Elk River with 2 bikes (one for Tegan and one for daddy) and a dump truck (race time entertainment). The race was a low key even that many of us used for an early season tune up. Off the gun I didn't go for the hole shot because there was a new "prologue" lap and I had no idea where I was going. Near the end of the prologue I did take the lead and built a sizable gap 45 second gap over the next 1/2 lap. Then my front tire started to loose air. I don't know why and never found a leak, but that is racing. Anyway, I rode the tire until i was having to crawl around corners at which point I stopped and aired it up. SamO went by me as I was hitting it with air. I remounted and was able to chase him down in about 5 minutes. We rode it out together, as there is no where to pass at Elk River and sprinted the short 100 foot straight at the finish. It was too close to call without a photo, so we called it a tie=) See picture 179 here: http://www.skinnyski.com/tools/photoviewer.asp?Id=15945. In the end, I felt fine...not great, not horrible. The legs will get that snap back once the warm weather returns.
Sunday, mothers day, we started with the normal Church, eat out, and get home for Tegans nap. In the afternoon, I mowed the lawn, Jen did some gardening, we washed cars, I finished building my new race bike (yes another Fuel 9.9=), and I got to have a little fun Caddyshack style. We have some ground rodents that need to relocate or face my wrath...


Monday, April 20, 2009

TT Time

Jen, Tegan and I cruised down to Madison for the weekend, and I hopped on over to Platteville Saturday for a TT run by the UW Platteville cycling club. I have done this in the past as my season opener and it is a great course...much like the Mammoth trail or like Maplelag. There is some flow to the course, but it also has a fair number of switchbacks and fairly technical descending to keep riders on their toes.
All in all, I felt ok and came away with the win. I went pretty hard the first lap and a little less hard on the second, but didn't have that extra gear yet and no one was really pushing me. I am kind of "trying" to take the preparation a little slower this year. However, warm weather always makes me want to hammer...

It looks like a good group of Midwesterners found some time off to head down to the Sea Otter. Nice work to all of you. Geez, Sauser made easy work of the mens field...4 min+ victory!?!? Those top several World Cup guys are just amazing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mammoth proportions

  • Finally hit some dirt last night with the my new ride
  • Scary fast especially w/ the race wheels; had to be spot on w/ handling due to the speed
  • Full-on for a lap before my body started to whine a little.
  • Turned it down a bit for another lap and let the bike do the work.
  • 2hours and 25 minutes of sweet sweet singletrack on a sweet sweet bike.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Heavenly...

That is the only word that can describe my ride around the NW side of Maui. Lots of climbing, lots of wind, but by far the most amazingly senic road ride I have ever done. I found some pics of the road I was on (I didn't carry my camera) ...it was like this with 1-1.5 lanes for nearly 30 of the 75 miles. With a rainforest to my left and sea cliffs to the right, it was hard not to be distracted. You can see below that some of the grades were fierce!

....more proof that Maui is a a destination where you can really explore on 2 wheels.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

44 Switchbacks

I rode Haleakala yesterday, and I had to dig deep. I took a different route this time that found me on cracked pavement with grades of ~15% (not in pic..at lower elevation). Needless to say my 39-23 was used (extensively) for the first time on the Cervelo. Over 5.5 hours later, I stumbled into the condo. I couldn't move very much, but I didn't have to.
Today, I think the plan is an easy ride, some snorkelling, and some Maui Brewing Co beer.
I heard it was raining all day at home...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rocketship

I have been meaning to do this for some time, so here goes:
This years rig:The frame and most of the components from a stock Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL. Thanks Maury!
The changes/upgrades from stock include
Wheels: I9 wheels with NoTubes Race rims laced on...Thanks I9! This has to be the stiffest 1325 gram wheelset out there.
Shock: I will probably end up running the set it and forget it RP23. The bike comes with the DT Swiss pictured and a remote lockout (not pictured). I guess I would rather concentrate on going fast than worrying about 1 more control on my handlebar.
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Gelflow XC...been on this one for a couple years and use it on every bike now, even the roady
Handlebar: Bonti riser...the one it came with was just too T-rex-arms skinny
Rotors: Hope Floater rear and Alligator front
Pedals: Old standby beater twin ti's (SST spindles). I know too many people who have snapped the ti spindles
Tires: last and most importantly, I will be running a combination of Schwalbe tires this year. I am not sponsored by them, but the advantage of being a paying pro is that I can ride what I deem the best out there. I will be using RoRo's (rocket rons) FuFu's (furious freds) and RaRas (racing ralphs). I will endorse no more than that until Schwalbe gets me some free ones=)

Finally:
Weight = 20.75-21 lbs depending on tires


On the training front things are going well. As a part of my training last week, I rode my mountain bike to Rochester (~95 miles). It took me 4.75 hours with some semi-slick tires on, and I figured it would take me 5.5 on the knobbies, so I guess things are coming along! I am basically done with base training now, although I am not super structured in my approach. The next "phase" is when I start to do some hard rides. I don't do intervals...I hate them...I do ride hard until my body quits, and then I ride less hard until my body really quits. That is how I race, so I figure that is how I should train.

The only other thing of note is that this weekend Jen and I are going to heading out to Maui (one of our favorite destinations).
It is kind of a last minute thing, but we need it. I am bringing the road bike so I can tour the island and climb that 10000 foot pile of ash again. Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Going Fast?

The other day I was riding my hardtail on the road. I felt like I had a tail wind the whole time...I was only using 2 tiny cogs. Then I realized it felt this way because I wasn't pedaling a 36 lb bike through the snow! =)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tough Days

This is going to be short and sweet...Jen and I lost our son Ty Gary Moore who was born yesterday. His heart had stopped sometime on Jan 26th and the causes are unknown at this point.
For all you bikers...just know that there is know an extra biker-angel up there watching over us now.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

-20 F Really?

That was the temp at my house this morning....Dang, that is COLD!
I know it has been a long hiatus for my blog, but I am keeping busy and having fun. I even had 2 weeks off at Christmas to play with Tegan, ride, nap, eat (a lot), and hang with Jen.
The past two weekends have seen a couple group rides come and go. Among the bonkers were Fisher, Ben, and Paul...I couldn't tell with Wenk, as he was struggling with skinny cross tires. As Paul said, "My first bonk and the year is only 5 days old!"
Needless to say winter riding has been a blast this year not only because of the pug but because of the snowy trail conditions. This past weekend Ben and I did 3 full laps on Pugs at Leb in 3 hours...that is a testament to the good conditions. Either way, I have only been on the trainer a few times which almost makes spinning inside enjoyable.
A note on the trainer: several years back I came to the conclusion that the trainer wasn't cutting it for my winter training... this based on my burning out sort of feelings and the fact that all the fast mtbk guys like Hall, Hanson, and the Swansons were outside. Looking back, I think this change made a significant difference in my early season fitness.
Today - Thursday: I probably won't ride much...with windchills of -20 and below, this is below my fun/safe factor for long outside rides.
Anyway, after this week I start my "official" training. What that means is pretty nebulous with me, as I go a lot of my past records and how I feel. Basically, I will be doing some base miles. I definitely feel more motivated than in previous years (sometimes I felt a bit frustrated about dealing with base miles in cold and snow)...blame it on the pug=)

-b