Monday, July 26, 2010

Bike The Bruce

Not much to say about this one

I guess it's just the way road racing goes, the break got a good gap early on but it got shut down quick, next thing I knew the group was split and I watched them pedal away a minute down the road with a good 10-12 guys. I knew if the gap got any bigger it would make it because they would be working well together. We had about 3-4 guys working in our group and they had a 12-man break with 11 of them sharing the work. Much more effecient than our group because there were still attacks and I was never able to make the bridge alone. Had nothing left for the sprint at the end, cramps got the best of me. I was running out of water with 3 laps to go so I drank very conservatively for the next lap (considering the heat) and finished off the bottles with a gel with 2 to go.

I don't think extra fluids would have helped, I was cramping a bit from the start but nothing painful enough to ease the effort. It was all those accelerations and slowing back down to allow the lactic acid to build up. Guess I gotta get on some intervals soon.

I think I'm a bit too tired coming in to the weekends, I guess I'm not at a high intensity, low volume point of my season. Going to take it easy for the next couple weeks and see what I can muster up for provincials. I'll most likely be taking a month off of racing even if that means missing the amazing U-Cup series as well as Paul's, but I think it will be a smart choice to properly prepare for a race and try to attain my last goal of the season at the Squeezer. If all goes well it should give me a good confidence booster going into cross where I'll be able to take high intensity and low volume for those one hour shit shows.

Solid rides De Cal and Max, and big thanks to De Cal for the feed and driving and whatnot.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big draft, but it has a tailpipe

Yesterday I had the day off work and it went pretty similar to Monday but with a little more pain going up and down the stairs to get to the fridge. I knew I had to take 'er easy after Tuesday's effort following a nice big week.

That feeling in my legs carried over to this morning when I was playing with the dog at 6am, I knew work was going to be tough. The birds leave tomorow and I'm missing the first two days of barn cleaning because I'll be heading to Wiarton on Saturday to save a 4h drive the morning of the race. The unwritten rule is that to show you're sorry for leaving when there is so much work to do is, of course, to do work, lots of work. Cut some grass, pulled some weeds, cleaned some feed bins and ate some delicious food right from the property from 9-4. The best part about pulling weeds today was that it was the row right beside the green peppers so every now and then I'd pluck one off for fuel and keep on going, beauty.

As I was leaving the farm I did a quick acceleration on my mtb and my legs had absolutely nothing. I had some oat meal, grains and a banana and headed out for the ITT. It was the annual old school TT so no aero stuff was allowed, Rick took it one step further and sported his 1970's bowling shoes (it's what they look like) on his bianci 7 speed with dt shifters and all so he gets big props for that. He was my minute man and he held me off until under 3k to go, I saved a bit too much for the end because I was feeling somewhat good at the pace I was going and didn't want to start feeling bad again. I put the hammer down and caught my 2, 3 and 4 minute man before sprinting in my 53-11 on the slight downhill finish that makes you feel very fast. Lost to Max by 33sec for the title but I was happy and surprised I had some power despite feeling so brutal for 2 days.

Max's dad motorpaced us on the way home with his truck, I was not expecting this but how can you turn down a free 50km/h draft? I cracked before he did but we made it pretty far considering we used alot of fuel just 10 minutes before that. I was considering hopping on the mtb tomorow and heading South for a lap of the CDMBR course that I was too cooked to do Wednesday, we'll see what the legs say. I need some points so I've got to be nice to them for the next couple of days. I'll defenitely be watching the stage tomorow, haven't seen one in a week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pavement is overrated anyways

Heading out to Sunday's group ride I found another nice stretch of road that got chewed up, at this rate the cyclocross training in the fall will be prime. Going super fast on gravel sounds awesome on some knobby tires, not so much on 23C bald ones. Well, I guess it is fun, but the only thing I keep thinking of is grit getting in to where it shouldn't and the rocks chewing up my tires that I will soon not have the funds to replace. Every ride I've gone on for the past 2 weeks I've seen at least one new stretch of road that got chewed up, some much worse than others.

Sunday's ride was good, I considered the mtb but I knew I wouldn't have the punch for the short/steep climbs at the Hood. The course requires barely any fitness but you'd have to pack a good punch on the climbs to get away if you can't do so in the ST, come to think of it, they're much too short to actually get away so it all comes down to skills in the ST haha. I'll post up a better description of this year's course tomorow if I don't have to work. Anyways, Sunday's ride, good pace through Wainfleet/Canborough and good echelon on the way back. A good 4 hours to top off a 22ish hour week, the hours weren't extremely high but it was all about the time spent at/above threshold.

Yesterday was pretty much a blur, my boss thankfully had too much paper work to do to get any work done outside so I had the day off. I was up early with the dog but after that I slept/ate then it was today. I slept through the whole stage yesterday and woke up just in time to see bbox guy on the podium then I think I fell back alseep. Would have been a good stage to see, as well as today's, going to get updated on what happened right after I post this. I think I read something in the paper about Pelham resurfacing a bunch of roads but I can't remember, maybe it was a dream.

Today's workout was pretty tough, just over 3 hours (100km) with plenty of sprints on the way to the club race. The pace was pretty high but still not where it should be but considering the cadets, Max and myself were pretty cooked from the week before I guess we did alright. There were so many attacks just nothing that would stick and the pace was a tad slow to sit in for too long but it was a bit too hard to stay off the front for a while. Wolfgang rode crazy strong again this time showing his TT skills out front. Sprint was alright, I started a bit late and by the time I got in my 53-11 it was too late and I didn't have enough ground to get up to the top guys or, even better, out front. I was tempted to just keep going to try and see how fast I can go even past the imaginary line but it was a little too tight to open it up. Oh well, I had a good wheel going in to the sprint just started a bit too late, one step at a time I guess.

My biggest weeks are now behind me and I'll be focusing on intensity until the xc provincials, gotta get some top end and sustainable power to race 150km with the big boys at Elliott Lake and if I want to even think about a top 5 in mountain biking, oh yeah, some trail skills would help too. Okay, so technical skills and intensity it is for the next 4 weeks or so then some big volume weeks before my next big chunk of racing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shut Up Legs!

Laying in bed right now, extremely tired, might fall asleep before I finish writting this. When I wake up I'll make my way over to Liberty! to pick up the rear wheel and drop off the front, going tubeless now with Stan's ZTR 355's.

Quick recap of my training during this week off work, complete day off Monday, somehow I still slept in Tuesday and had to get some stuff done before heading out in the afternoon. I rode for an hour and a half before the club race working on my sprint, 15 or so full out efforts and a grind up Saylor's and it was time to start the workout. Chown, Holtzman, Noah and the cadets were absent so Csikos, Wolfgang and myself attacked and attacked until everyone was looking a little cross eyed and we got in the workout we wanted. I don't really remember riding home but I sure remember getting an awesome night's sleep.

Wednesday's recovery spin went a little longer than planned when I took a few roads that I ride all the time in the off-season and had a total brain fart on Four Mile Creek rd. when I had no idea which direction I was heading. For some reason I didn't think I was going the right way but after a few side road turn arounds I stayed on that road and eventually ended up on York right on track. Easy(ish) 3:15 spin with Tuesday's 3.5, the heat was really getting to me.

I don't even want to remember Thursday's ride, you see, when you go out and do tempo and hill reps with De Cal it hurts, alot. Csikos and I met De Cal at the top of DeCew and formed a mini echelon holding 35 in the headwind (reading Max's computer) until Smithville. De Cal showed us how to sprint then we eased up a bit and headed North, met up with Stan Ambus who was considering doing Woolverton, but doubted it and we managed to get a Woolverton climb and 2 Fifty climbs out of him. After 2 Woolverton climbs we had to fill up our bottles and headed back up for the third. By the time we climbed Fifty and McNeilly 3 times each we had to refill again. It was brutally hot, I must have wiped my lenses 30 times. Single file this time and with more of a crosswind we held 40 (38-44 sais Max) along the bottom of the escarpement. The only downfall coming home along the bottom is that to get home you have to go back up again. We took DeCew and had to stop at the Mill to refill again. Nearly 8 tallys of water to get through that 5h ride.

Yesterday I headed out for a mountain bike ride with the coach, we rode for about 2.5hrs around some trails in Thorold and Brock, my legs were yelling at me to stop but the fun-factor of mountain biking was enough to keep the pedals turning until I got home. I didn't think I would have enough gas for today but I felt surprisingly good on the climbs, I "worked like a dog" as Max put it. Had nothing left for a blue sign sprint which is a good thing because I wanted to leave it all out on the climbs. I'm still awake but just barely, my legs are very angry and after 18 hours this week so far they are going to have to listen to me for one more day before I can shut 'er down. I don't think they'll listen if I ask them to take me through a pre-ride of the CDMBR course with the youth club Monday night even though I don't work that day either but for tomorow they are just going to have to shut up as Jens would say.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Let's speak of suffering

What seperates the break from the peloton, the podium finishers from those, well, not on the podium? Sure, strength, tactics, blah blah blah comes into play, but you won't win a big race unless you are willing to suffer. Suffering itslef might not be the hardest part of suffering, but preparing yourself mentally, telling yourself that pretty soon I will be pushing my limits and it's going to be everything but fun and enjoyable. Suffering is not fun, I don't care who you are, if you're having fun then you're not suffering. The feeling you get after suffering, however, can only be explained by those that suffered. It's an accomplishement, sure, but there's this weird feeling you get mentally afterwards that is very hard to explain. You made it over that hump, the work is done, it's time to ride home and eat some food and try and stay awake long enough to see the sun go down so you can get a good night's sleep. There's also some stretching and foam rolling to do if you're commited enough and not lazy, I am going to commit myself to a stretching regime starting today and a foam rolling regime as soon as I get one.

Don't get me wrong, a race is not won by who can suffer the most. By that I mean Cavendish's pace at "suffering" while climbing is much slower than that of Contador's, so even if Cav is suffering more than Contador he'll still be way way back. However, if Contador is not willing to suffer himself then he won't come out on top, no matter how fast you are you're going to have to suffer.

How do we know if we're suffering and not just putting in a hard, hard effort? Well, in my opinion, there is a fine line between a hard effort and suffering, only to be crossed when the effort is no longer fun. When you're pushing your body further than your mind is willing to go and you have to keep telling yourself "don't quit, this is good for me, keep going" to keep the effort and hope that you make it across that imaginary line before you collapse whether it be on top of a hill or to the "blue sign". Either way, it isn't until the effort is over that you're happy, there is nothing to smile about when you're trully suffering.

Some days you just can't suffer, you're not there whether it be physically or mentally or both and you can't get into that "zone" that elite athletes often talk about. Sometimes suffering is forced upon you from an involuntary bonk, you find yourself completely tapped out 15km from home and have no choice but to endure that awful feeling until you get home. No matter what the pace, as long as those pedals are turning then you're suffering. Are they the same kind of suffering? Maybe, just in one case you're going faster than the other?

Suffering can be brought on by yourself or by others, why is it that when suffering is brought on by others it's always so much more intense and you went even harder than you thought you could go because such an effort was never achieved alone? Is there a level of pain higher than suffering? I believe it's called racing. Agaisnt the clock (TT) or others you are no longer "suffering" but "racing", no one has to say they suffered in a race report, of course you did, it was a race. It's just understood, but we say it anyways because that's the one word that best describes a pseudo-death effort whether it be to hold on to the top spot on the podium or just finishing the race. I think that's why I sleep the whole way home from a race but have no problem holding a conversation for the entire drive if I just went to a venue to ride, even if I rode so much more during the ride than the race. You don't even realise how much you're gutting yourself during a race because you're in that racing "zone" that doesn't wear off until a good 30min after the race is done.

Maybe I'll look back at this in a few years as an Elite racer (hopefully!) and realise I was way off, but that's one of the best parts of having a blog, you can look back at things you wrote when you were younger and less experienced and see how your perspective on certain things has changed over the years. Anyways, time to cut the lawn in 30 degree weather, yay.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

O-Cup #5 Buckwallow

The week leading up to the race was pretty good, some swimming, fishing, resting, waking up somewhere in the range of 2-4am every night to bring Molson out to play and do his business. Oh yeah, I rode my bike too, Tuesday we were way too far behind schedule to make it to the course in time to ride before it got dark. Wednesday I did 5 full laps and rode a few trails multiple times, I went through about 3L of fluids during the ride. Thurday I headed over there in the afternoon to get a couple laps in and do the weekly race series there. Conlon, Kerton, and myself got hustled by a "firt timer", the race itself was alright, start was much faster than my wave on Sunday. I was sitting in fifth and closed the gap to fourth, I went to pass on a rooty climb and I dropped my chain, lost 2 spots. Tried to pass a little bit later but dropped my chain again and that was it, stuck in no-man's-land. I dropped it one more time before the end, I checked out the limits on the derailleurs and everything seemed fine.

It didn't happen on Saturday's pre-ride with De Cal but my crankarm was suddenly touching my derailleur cage, she was crooked. I didn't feel good at all on Saturday but riding there is always fun so I didn't really mind the lack of power.

Now, onto the race. The start was pretty slow so I tried to make my way up from the very back, the leaders were in sight for quite sometime. I was riding conservatively for the first bit to same some quick bursts for the climbs and steep rock-ups. I was about to make a quick sprint to get on the next guy's wheel as we entered a trail when my pedal popped out and I smashed into a tree with my shoulder and head. I got up, a train of guys went by and I started the chase. Next thing I knew my derailleur was completely bent again, I tried to push it in with my foot but no luck. I rode the rest of the lap in the small ring and realised it wasn't bad at all. The big ring would have been nice for more hammering in the doubletrack and a quick sprint before the downhills but whatever. I passed a few more guys as the laps passed but I guess they were all Masters because my position didn't change at all from the first lap. Trev came by on lap 3 I think so I must have only passed one guy since the wipeout that was in my cat.

I can't say I didn't feel good, I was pushing hard the whole time, am I just a top 20 senior expert rider? No matter how I've felt or what I've done the week before I've been 17th at best. Am I just in denial that I'm not cut out for the post-ride brew, wider-tired-bikes-with-suspension dirt scene? I like the pavement but venturing off-road has always been a part of me, maybe just not on wheels? Whatever, mountain biking is alot of fun, I've never been one to give something up just because I'm having a hard time with it.

I've gotta say that I was super-pumped when De Cal was coming by me on my last lap sitting in 5th spot, I knew he would catch the guy in fourth but to "loose" in a sprint for second, siiiiiiick.

Huge thanks to Liberty! for loaning me a wheel for the race, now that De Cal got his new rims in I'll be running tubeless. Maybe I can top him by running single-digit psi for Kelso.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pre-trip ramblage

Great Tour stage today, too bad some guys are willing to deal with the conditions while others are complaining about it. Come on, to race in a race like that you must have ridden more hours in the rain in a week then I've ridden this year, when the road is wet it's slippery. Maybe I'm missing something but there's no possible way a protest can be supported by the argument that "we crashed because we were ripping down a slippery road at Mach 10 on skinny bald tires and had no idea where the front group was". Anyways, it was good to see a Frenchman race such an amazing race to take the win and claim the yellow jersey with a gap big enough for at least a couple of days.

So I'm sitting in my room now, after a much needed stop at Liberty!, and I'm procrastinating about packing enough stuff to go up North for the rest of the week. This trip was supposed to be for 2 reasons, family time (of course) and to be very close to Buckwallow so I can do my training as quick as possible to leave more time for family bonding. Well, paps decides to book a place 1h20min away haha, we'll see how this pans out. I'll be bringing my laptop up to see if I can get some wifi somewhere to post up about the course and ramble on about a few things that I can't ramble about with the family.

Brought my dad's new whip home today from the shop, a Specialized Allez, surprised him with a receipt indicating paid in full. Hopefully that softens him up a bit to let me take his truck to the course, he cares way too much about that thing, if anything in the back box is moved out of place he gives me shit for driving like an animal because if things moved then that means I took my corners too fast or I was too heavy on the accelerator.

Anyways, I wrote a bit too much for a day that I didn't even ride. Better start packing so I can get to bed soon, the dog will make sure it's an early morning. I'm good with that, the earlier the morning the sooner I'm riding some amazing trails just a little ways North of here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Need water... and sugar!

I've been looking forward to a weekend off for quite some time now so I can put in two solid rides back to back with none other than the St.CCC. And two solid days it was.

Yesterday was climbing, we held a tamed pace until Quarry rd. and I decided to test my legs early on so I launched at the first steep chute, I wasn't feeling too good but I got a good gap fast and held a quick pace until a fellow member bridged, it didn't take too long for us to get caught and I thought I would loose the leaders completely but by the top I made my way back to the front, Perry was gone though. Mountainview and Park are great climbs and it always helps to be in a strong group pushing a good pace with attacks to top it off. I was riding clean in the echelon but started to feel the dizziness that I would feel at the top of the climbs, I knew I was dehydrated. How dehydrated? Well, I drank about 3L of water when I got home and my pee was still dark yellow. I had some munch and passed out on my bed still wearing the see-through Handlebars CC kit and all, minus the riding shoes. I woke up three hours later feeling like I had a hangover but I knew I was in need of some calories.

Eat, drink, sleep and before I knew it it was 6:15am and the dog was up waiting to be taken outside. Can you believe he's only 6 weeks old and he has yet to pee or poo in the house? I made a good effort to get some fluids and calories in me before heading out.

The pace was good heading out to Wainfleet and the pack split in half with the A's heading as far west as Abigdon. I was still feeling the effects of dehydration but not nearly as severe. The echelon was quick but some didn't realise how far we had left to go, everyone worked hard, I saw David Jack attack on the left so I took the gravel shoulder on the right and dug deep to bridge the gap he quickly created. By the time I caught back on to him the group was swallowing us up, amazing how hard you have to work to catch a TTist. Chown shielded me from the wind for a while so I can attack and give it a good go, and that's what I did, I would have liked to drag a few with me because there are no breaks when you're solo. I was caught and shelled and faught hard to latch back on, I had nothing in me for the sprint. You didn't even have to ask how the group felt once we got to Tim's, the look on Rob Visser's face explained it pretty well, cooked.

I was in need of some sugar fast, to be taken care of by a large ice cap. I had mine with choco milk despite my intolerance, there is barely a gulp in there though. How much lactose do you think there is in an ice cap? I guess I'll find out in a couple hours...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

CHIN Picnic

An early rise of 5:30 had me not so eager to race, coffee changed that. I'm lucky I even woke up, set my alarm for 5:15pm instead of am, somehow I woke up at 5:30. 20$ to park at race site, ouch, I've gotta start showing up a bit earlier to races so I can cruise the streets nearby and find somewhere to park for 20$ less.

I took my time getting ready because for the first time in a while I was there on schedule, an hour early, by the time I was done it was 8:18, 12 minutes to warm up and line up. It wasn't so bad, the start was delayed a bit so I had a bit more time to ride around. Shot the shit with Holtzman and Csikos before lining up. I was hoping for a win today.

In hindsight, I did race the perfect race to have enough in me for a sprint, for the first time ever I just sat it. I wasn't feeling good at all let me tell you, it wasn't cramps, tired, stomach or anything like that. I just couldn't go fast. I was hoping my legs would come around because everytime we came by under that banner before the S-bend I knew we were one lap closer to the innevitable group sprint. I made my way up a few times but just didn't have the power to hold my spot so I'd soon find myself near the back. The group was taking the corners brutally slow and some people had a really hard time holding their line. No big crashes though, so that's always good when you're at the back.

So sitting in the pack all day you'd think I would at least have enough in me for a good sprint, not at all. I made my way up to 5th or 6th wheel but as soon as I got there I started loosing ground, fast. By the end of the sweeping left bend I was sprinting at the back, I almost felt alone. The good part about this race is that I know I can, at the very least, stay in the pack on a bad day even on a course that doesn't suit me very well. I guess 12th isn't a poor result, but I'm in need of some upgrade points.

Big ups to Etzl and Perry for their 1-3 in cadet (couldn't sweep the podium again boys? come on...), Holtzman had a solid race after driving the pace and leading everybody out at the end but still managing to get on the box, Visser must have a good sprint because he took his first race as an M2 and from looking at the results it seems De Cal fits in just fine with the big boys, I knew he would. Paps didn't want to stick around afterwards so unfortunately I didn't do any spectating. Leaving for Gravenhurst early Tuesday so I can get in a good ride of the course after getting settled in at Honey Harbour.