Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Progress on Montebello

Went up in 43:18 today, 3 minutes quicker than my previous best. Form is better but I also scoped out the route a bit and figured out a better way to ride it. I rode hard the first two, rode quick but recovered the flat part, and rode hard the last part. Nice to arrive ahead of schedule.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts on Boston 2009 from the US Perspective

i finally finished watching the 2009 marathon race today. Wow, that was certainly one for the ages on the women's side. On the men's side, it was nearly a classic, but at the end of the day the smartest runner took it. Hall went out way too fast, if not for that he might have had a real chance. To go out that fast and still finish third says a lot about his strength and fitness. I have to say, what a knucklehead move. He tried to go Prefontaine, running a pace that would've put him at the half at 1:01:30... this in a race that is usually won in the 2:09 range. Still he showed a lot of guts in the second half, and he makes me think we'll see more of him as he figures the race out.

The Women's side was unbelievable. Goucher really threw everything she had at the two other leaders. Proof of that was the total collapse of Tune just 1 step after the finish. I don't see how she could have run any better tactically, but the other two were just strong enough and clearly they showed that will at the end.

Great race and exciting to see US runners perform so well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Primavera - hot day on a beautiful course

A short preamble: detailed memory of events has never been my strong suit. I have friends from high school who can remember details of basketball or soccer games we played it, for me I can't even remember the final scores. My mind seizes on certain events, plays, scenery, etc but I don't as a rule record the event in my mind. I note this only because I've read some blogs and talked to some people who do this very well. I suppose it just isn't my style.

Anyway, I finally I got a chance to ride the hills that I've driven past for most of my life. Whenever I head up 680 I'm always impressed with the scenery around Sunol and Livermore, and Justine has been telling me for awhile how nice it is. Well, she was right, it's really nice. The trick of course, is riding there before it gets super hot. Yesterday was borderline.

Here are some highlights: I headed out with a group of about 6 - my friend Loren and a group of riders from Western Wheelers, including Laura, who I rode with last summer at the "Kiss of Death" cycling camp (I like to call it a camp, sounds cooler). Both are strong riders (Laura was second in the Everest Challenge last year), so I could only hope to catch them on the descents. Thank goodness for rest stops where I could hook up with the group.

The climbing on this ride isn't crazy if you're used to riding the Santa Cruz mountains, it's just long, hot and windy. The ascents included the following: "The Wall", up past Ed Levin County Park (one rider called it a "National Park"... uh, not quite). This one came early, and was a nice long grind, broken up by a rest stop. Not too bad; Altamont Pass, which was windy and exposed. We probably hit that one around 10 or 10:30. I unhooked from the group on this one and just stayed in my saddle, climbing slow and steady; and finally Palomares, from the Livermore side back over to Union City. Again, not too too bad, a bit steep at the end, but I felt pretty strong since we were re-integrating with the shorter course riders at this point and I was passing folks going uphill for a change!

The highlights of the day for me were the pacelines and trains on the flats. We had a great 10 person line going through the ugliest section of the day (Stanley Blvd.), which was a blast. Coming down next to 580 I tucked behind another small group and we averaged well over 32 for about 3-4 miles. Descents were also pretty fun, it was nice to hit 43MPH after Altamont and feel no wobbles at all. I think that flipping my stem has given me a little more stability as well as comfort. Nice!

Calaveras was quite nice also, saw a fox out hunting, and then spied the Bald Eagle nest and one of the eagles (I didn't take this picture)

Food was fine, support was great, temperature was hot but not July hot. Just unexpectedly hot.

Riding with the group was a good time. They're all good riders, and you have to focus and pay attention. I have taken to thinking of Laura as the "Matron", the one who keeps order in the Peloton. Pretty funny to hear her scolding riders, etc. I was on the sharp end of it in Markleeville once or twice, glad it isn't just me! She's great to ride with though, damn strong. One guy whose name I never caught just kept taking monster pulls. Probably pulled 4 miles through Livermore in the mid 20s. Riding a steel Lemond from probably the late 80s?? When did 1 inch threaded headsets go from standard to obsolete? Any bike historians care to comment?

Right before Palomares, some kids had set up a lemonade stand. I think I was about the only one who stopped in all day, and they were so darn excited that I got a little adrenaline boost for the climb. I pulled in and said "hope you guys have some change" and they assured me: "No, it's all free!" Lemonade, water, strawberries... total race support was awesome.

Lowlights? Loren ending up in a bush was a little unnerving. I think he was looking back waiting for me to catch up, and when he looked forward again there was a dead raccoon and a sewer grate in his path. He went down in slow motion, his fall broken by some significant shrubbery on the side of the road. I think he's OK, save some ripped shorts. Without the shrubs it would've been bad, it was a steep embankment. The raccoon though... still dead.

Besides that, great day. I felt pretty strong, and though I need to keep working on climbing I felt better overall than my only century last year. Not sure what the next one will be.

The bike was great also. I put on the aero bars to give me a few more positions, and while I wasn't in them a lot they were very handy in the windy sections and when leading the pull. and like I said, the flipped stem is both more comfortable and more stable...

Totals (approximate)

102 miles

16.5 MPH average

43.3 Top

4.0 Low

~6,000 feet climbed

~ 168 ounces of fluid consumed

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Residual Speed

My training this week has been half-hearted in volume, but I am experiencing the after-affects of marathon training, tapering and running: residual speed. Monday at the track I was running 400 repeats with my fastest at 1:24 (during training I was running 1:35s). Saturday I did 6 miles with a few of them at 7:15/7:30 and feeling just fine thank you very much. It's a tough after affect of running a marathon: I've lost the running motivation, I've changed my goals, but I'm fit and as fast as I've been in awhile and wondering if I'm just gonna waste it... so the goal will remain: 20 miles of running per week on top of my cycling, with the miles being quality (tempo, track, 10 mile longs...) until late summer when I'll re-dedicate myself to running.

For the time being though, more cycling, more hills, more miles....

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I flipped over my stem for today's ride. I've been having some neck/shoulder pains and I wanted to see whether being slightly more upright would reduce that. It ended up working great - I did 63 miles, riding in a slightly higher position, and my neck feels just fine. I planned today's route to spend a fair bit of time on the bike and not kill myself on the 10+% grades, and it worked out great. Old Santa Cruz highway to summit, down summit to Soquel, and then across and back up via Eureka Canyon, a 9+ mile, 2000 foot climb; not a killer, just long and sustained. The best part of the ride was coming back down Old SC highway, trying to chase down a heavy guy in a Cafe de Colombia jersey (nothing like the throwback kits). That descent is very enjoyable, windy but not so technical that you can't get a good pace going. Ended up with 63 miles and 4000 feet of climbing to bring my annual riding total to 488 so far.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fractious Horses

I'm still around, I'm just having training confusion as I try to up the bike miles and move away from running. My rough plan as it's shaping up is to train for the Death Ride in July by upping the cycling and doing some supported and unsupported centuries starting with Primavera in a couple weeks. Should be challenging. After July I'll get back to running more seriously, training for a fast fall marathon. I'm hopeful that I can figure out a way to keep some running fitness, at least two days a week, one fast, while I ramp up the cycling, but I haven't figured that out yet.

I liked this quote from Wilbur Wright, from the book: "To Conquer the Air", a book I'm finding very enjoyable despite taking my sweet time getting through it:

"There are two ways of learning how to ride a fractious horse. One is to get on him and learn by actual practice how each motion and trick may be best met; the other is to sit on a fence and watch the beast a while, and then retire to the house and at leisure figure out the best way of overcoming his jumps and kicks. The latter system is the safest; but the former, on the whole, turns out the larger proportion of good riders. It is very much the same in learning to ride a flying machine; if you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial."