Thursday, August 30, 2012

Farewell Ye MTB Season

(FYI: I had this written and thought I had posted it earlier this week. Apparently I didn't hit 'post.' Sorry to my loyal reader[s?])
This past weekend was the finale' of the DINO MTB cross country races. As I mentioned last post it was at a venue I had never been to before (Southwestway Park on Indy's south/west side). The trails were really well made and I liked the course. It had a bit of everything: tight twisty tech stuff, open flowy fast stuff, flat straight hammer sections and a legit climb. I had heard talk of "Mann Hill" at SWW, but I though 'how bad can this climb be, it's in an Indy park?' I have to say, it's totally legit. Below is a pic of me on it, suffer face and all. Our race was 4 laps, and it was getting difficult toward the last of those laps. 

 The course also has several log jumps/crossings on it. No huge deal in-and-of itself, but when you're on a course you don't know, logs can throw you for a loop. And one about threw me over my bars. In the first lap I was leading a group of 8or so guys through one of the wide opened 20+mph sections. Just after this head-down hammer section there's a tree down that, in the center of the trail, is probably ~3' high. However, if you move left it is only about 10"-12" high and totally jumpable. Well not knowing that I came into this tree head down, full gas. I looked up and about shit myself with no time to react I had to dismount and jump it cyclocross style. That works fine in a CX race, but when everyone else knew the line over it I was passed by like 6 guys. I was able to slot back in the middle of the group, but I didn't want to be that far back. When we hit the climb on the first lap, I passed them all back and only one guy stayed with me. (pic'd above). 

Eventually I dropped him as well and caught some ahead. My friend Will, pic'd above, had a great start and was ahead of me. I caught him and we duked it out for the rest of the race. It was a good race between us, but his front wheel came out from under him in the final single track section and he crashed. He got back up and finished just behind me.  We were 4th and 5th Cat1's. It was a good race.   

(The start was close to a mile open gravel double track. Seems ideal for passing and what-not, but it was fairly loose, so you had to be very careful to not slide out)

Otherwise the training is coming along and things are pretty normal. Getting in my intervals, riding some CX, working the core/rest of the body and taking my easy days. First CX race is 2 weeks away. Hard to believe, but that's what the calendars say.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The bumpy season ahead

This week, among other things, we started out weekly Wednesday evening cyclocross practice rides. I've been on the CX bike plenty in the past few weeks, but not on grass. And the ground here is extremely hard right now and that makes for some bumpy riding (hence the post title, get it?). It was cool to do some off road cornering, barrier hoping, etc. Things are starting to roll toward the CX season.
With that in mind I also continued ramping up the intervals this week. Still not over-the-top major stuff, but getting there. Working. Building. You know.
Sunday there was a group riding gravel from Story, like we did a few weeks ago, but I opted to just stay here and ride road form home. I wanted to do this one ride I like, but haven't done this year (that I can remember at least). It goes up Catholic Cemetery Road into Morgan Monroe State Forest from the east. Cath Cem is a really tough climb no matter what, but the road has been seriously degrading over the past couple of years and I don't think it is being maintained any more. So it goes from really gnarly pavement, to gravel, to gravel with chunks out of the sub layer, back to nasty pavement, over and over making it exceptionally difficult. I like it. It was a super nice day and I probably should have ridden more, but I wanted to get home to catch the Moto GP race live from Indianapolis. 

the rest of my afternoon
So I only rode a bit over two hours. It was a totally solid ride though. Good power, etc.
In (more) uninteresting news: I also mowed the yard this week. It's been awhile.This drought is bad news for sure, but I usually have to mow once a week throughout the summer (and could mow more than that), but this summer I've gone 5-7week stretches w/out starting the mower. I dig that. Although my neighbor gives me $20 to mow her yard every time I mow mine so that's quite a bit a scratch I'm missing out on, but whatever. Mowing sucks.
With CX season looming there is one MTB race left that I have been on-the-fence about doing. I am leaning toward doing it at this point. It's less than an hour drive, it's at a trail I've never ridden and surely I can use the racing. I have to admit though: the thought of racing on a course I've never ridden is kind of weird to me. I don't mean this in a bad way, but the DINO series uses the same courses year after year so I know most of them very well; I know the corners, what's around the corners, where the logs are, etc. it will be weird to be a "new" course. But kind of cool too.
So that's how things are looking!        

Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting stuck, Going home, MTB Racing..

If you're a regular reader you may remember that June 16 (day of the DINO race at French Lick) I woke up with a blown out back. Well to be honest, it never really got (much) better. I've been training, racing, working, living, etc in a fair amount of discomfort for nearly 2months. I have a friend who does acupuncture and I decided this past week to try it. It helped. A lot. My back has bothered me to varying degrees for years, and it's not like it's magically 100% well after being poked, but I had been operating at probably 40-60% for a long time and I'm feeling much better now. I need to keep up with posture and core work to keep this thing in check though.
Also on Tuesday my leg really began to swell from the sting I had gotten last Sunday. I took Benadryl and it is under control at this point (over a week later), but I was a little worried there Tuesday. 
On the subject of bike riding, I started back up with some intervals on the bike last week. Nothing major, just some efforts to get back into the groove of structured stuff. I'm keeping on the core workouts as well, so that means two-a-day workouts a few days/week. It's no huge thing, but when you work 40+hrs/week, and "have" to work out before and after work, it gets tiring.
I wanted to race MTB's at the DINO Logansport race this past Sunday. It's a lengthy drive from Bloomington, and Lindsay didn't want to go anyway, so I went to my parent's house Saturday night to stay. They live ~1hr from Logansport, so it cut the drive way down. When I got there they were Skyping w/ Ramona (my niece/their granddaughter), as it was her actual birthday (even though we celebrated it the previous weekend). I got in on the video chat action and it was nice. She was more interested in the playdough that she had than any actual "chatting" but whatever. It was nice to be home and hang w/ the fam for a bit.
Sunday I got up to head to the race. I felt pretty good, but it was chilly outside; a feeling I was not used to at all. It was perfect weather for racing, but as hot as it has been here, I wasn't sure how things would be. But we got going and I went straight to the front. I spent the entire race never further back than 3rd or 4th place, sometimes in first, mostly in 2nd or 3rd.

I was in a group of 2-5 for the entire race. It felt really good to be really racing, rather just stuck in no-man's land hammering away. One guy got off the front and was not seen again. He won. The guy 3 back in the photo, in blue, got 2nd and I was 3rd. It was a really good race and I felt really good the whole time (for the most part, this course has a very steep, very long run up that started to make my calves cramp after the 3rd time up it, but that kind of stuff is bound to happen). Plus I rode well, didn't make too many mistakes and had fun.
It was a fun day. A lot of friends were there so we convoyed out and all ate in Kokomo. What a shit town.
There is 1 MTB race left and I'm not sure if I will do it or not. We'll see. I'm starting to shift focus to CX, so I'll just play it by ear and see what the weekend of the race looks like. It may be nice to have another race in, but other things may be happening. Not sure.        


Monday, August 06, 2012

Partying, bike riding, you know how we do

This weekend we went to my brother's in-law's house on Heritage Lake in Putnam county for a 2yr birthday bash for our niece, Ramona. It's always a fun time at their place and this time was no exception because Ramona was in full party mode.  

 We had a great day and a lot of fun. We had various types of tacos from a home-made make your own taco bar and of course the above pictured cake which was rainbow colored inside. Killer.
This week I continued on with core strength routine and got some good riding in as well. I'm still off intervals, but I did a good hard gravel ride Tuesday which included the McGowan hill which I've mentioned in the past. I made it up it once more making me 3/3. I'm getting pretty confident about it now, but I don't want to get cocky, because I feel that there is no guarantee that I will make it up that hill (riding) on any given day. it's hard.
I also went out and did some MTB riding Wednesday. I just went and busted out some laps at Wapahani park here in town. By the time Thursday came I hadn't ridden the road bike all week (or since the previous Friday actually). I've been taking a new guy out on Thursdays and showing him some routes. It's a good way for me to do an endurance ride and a good way for him to learn more routes and it gives someone to ride with. So we went out and did a route w/ Shilo Rd, which is one of my favorite roads for climbing around here. We did a fairly climb heavy 30-35miles. Pretty good ride.
Sunday I wanted to get a longer ride in but couldn't really decide what route. I used to ride over to Spencer fairly regularly, but I haven't for a couple years. It's a nice rolling ~2hrs straight over and back, but you can add some stuff onto the end to make it longer, which I did.    

I always thought the giant chicken at the park in Spencer was funny. I was glad to see it was still there. I haven't done this ride since I've had a "smart phone," so I was able to get a pic of it.
Though I got rained on and stung by something (that I think was bigger than your run-of-the-mill bee), I still had a good ride. I wanted 3hrs and got just under that. Good day. 
 I'm going to start introducing some intervals this week. Nothing crazy, just some stuff to get back into the swing of it. 
Our old computer started loosing drivers last week so I decided to pull the band aid and gt a new one. I'm not opposed to new stuff, but the old computer has years of data on it that has to be dealt with. Some of it won't transfer over. I have used Polar's training software for over 10yrs and have all of that data on that machine. I knew it wouldn't transfer over, and that's why I've been hesitant to replace the old machine. But I knew it was going to happen sometime (the old PC is from 2001!), so I just did it and cut my losses. I'm going to switch to Training Peaks to store my data now so it's online and not tethered to a machine. I've used TP before when I had a coach, so I'm somewhat familiar w/ it. So far it seems to be working out pretty well. I'm still working on getting some other things switched over (pictures, music, etc) but it's going pretty smoothly. I just knew it was time...attitude is (pretty much) everything.   
Finally, I think I am going to have my first exp w/ acupuncture this week. My back/hips have been bothering me badly for a few weeks now (and bothering me in general for years), but I think I need to do something more than my normal stretching routine and the strength routine I've been at for a few weeks. I have heard good things about acupuncture and I have a friend who does it, so I'm going to give it a go. Hopefully it helps.