Monday, April 29, 2013

Rest and Proper Gear... Pontiac XC

I was pretty blown out after the Yankee TT… maybe before it!  The plan for the week in-between Yankee and Pontiac included lots of rest which was greatly needed.  Although getting things going after rest days is always rough as your body shuts down and tightens up.  Brad and I had a good ride on Thursday and then pre-rode Pontiac on Saturday.  I put my normal SS gearing back on the Quiring which felt good and so did I… we may have actually had too much fun on Saturday!!

I surprised myself and actually had everything ready and packed in the car the night before, which is a rare occurrence for me.  I was up and on the road in short order Sunday morning.  I was worried the night before as I would have no excuse for the race as I know the course, I have put in the saddle time, I have the right gearing and I am rested.  Bike racers are full of excuse on why they don’t perform, but I really had nothing to fall back on if I didn't do well. (I did however find that as thin as I am, I have 10-20 lbs on the other guys!  Maybe I could play the fat card?! LOL!!)  I grabbed my number and got everything ready and warmed up.  I tried to warm-up with the team, but they were going faster than my legs wanted to go, which wasn't confidence inspiring.  I just rolled on my own and was ready to go.  Joe Seidl dominated the Yankee SS race which put a target on his back… even if he is on the same team.  There was a good turnout for the race with about 7-8 guys on the line and all were more than accomplished SS MTB racers.  They started us behind all the expert and elite men, which I figured would be an issue, but also a possible advantage as getting around people is an art.  The art of passing and putting people between you and your competitors can be good… but you need to be at the front.   So goal number one was to get towards the front and stay there.  They also changed the start/finish layout for the race to bring everyone out into the spectator area more.  One observation was that there was a tight right hand corner at the finish and if things came down to a sprint position would be everything.
The final Sprint... Arianna caught me with a weird expression!
Joe took off at the gun at a blistering pace with me in second trying to close the gap.  I knew his plan was to make us all suffer on the climbs and he did a good job of it.  I was running second wheel and he would gap me on the steeper climbs and I would reel him back in on the down hills and flats.  We caught a lot of traffic on the first lap… not sure exactly how many, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25.  It seemed like we were constantly passing.  It made the lap harder than it needed to be at some points by forcing track stands on climbs, but easier in other areas due to a slower pace.  Joe was relentless and at one point I let him go a bit and Patrick Russell went around me.  I dug in a bit and stayed on Patrick’s wheel and eventually Joe let up and we regrouped.  Joe led the first 3 miles or so of the second lap and then just let Patrick and I go.  I was hoping he was just going to jump on our wheel and recover, but we never saw him again.  I knew from last year that Patrick liked to be in front, so I let him stay there and I followed.  The pace was hard, but manageable.  He would put in some digs on the climbs and I would have to close the gap now and then on the flats.  Pete Thompson, who was racing Expert 40-49, had a flat and then caught and passed us near the end of the lap.  Patrick latched on to that train and we were moving pretty good.  We were catching some guys at the last climb and Patrick pulled a slick move to put him between us at a less than opportune time for me and I had to make a risky move to get around him and latch back on before the final flat section.  Patrick was still on Pete’s wheel, so I had to spin like made to catch up!  We rolled into the start finish area together and I attacked just before the right hand turn, took the inside line and held on for the win.  This was a great race as the competition was good and the trail is one of my favorites!!

Team KLM had a great SS showing with Todd Greene getting 3rd and Joe Seidl finishing in 4th!!  Mad props to Brad Lako for a dominate performance in Expert 30-39 taking the win!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ramblings and Yankee TT

Quiring back together!
Early season races can be good and bad… They are a time to test your winter training and to try new things.  The problem is that sometimes the new things don’t work and depending on where the race falls relative to your training plan you may or may not be at your best.  Due to the time commitment involve with any endurance sport, the challenge during training is just as much mental as physical.   A good result is motivating and a mediocre or poor result can send you into a spin.  Also the longer you are in the game, the harder it is to see gains.  You need to always keep the big picture in mind and work hard knowing that in the long run the work will pay off when you want it too.  Everyone wants to be “fast”… but “fast” is always a relative term.   Faster than last year, faster than your buddy, faster than the guys in your current class, fastest guy in the state, the country or the world?!  We always joke that “every ride is a race”… because any time a couple guys get together, it is always a test to see who can push who to the point that they crack.  Whether you are the one turning the screw or the one that cracked… it motivates you to work harder.  Today… you don’t even need to be riding with someone as you can race virtually with .  Not sure why we torture ourselves for any of this?  It’s tiring and sometimes painful… but the chemical rush that our body provides gives us a high that’s hard to get any other way.  It must be this high… as it would be a lot easier to sit on the couch and watch TV or take up bowling or golf.

This winter/spring has been a bit rough as the weather has not been very cooperative at times with high winds, cold and snow/rain.   Motivation to stick to the plan and get outside for me has come in the form of Brad Lako.  Somehow we both seem to drag each other out in the elements to get our riding in, although there have been a few rides where I was questioning our sanity!  This has helped to minimize trainer time which in turn minimizes the mental side of things.  Being an engineer and a numbers guy, having a power meter and trainingpeaks PMC (Training log with fitness and form calculations) turns training into a video game for me which gives me short and long term goals to keep the motivation high.  The harder you work the better your score, but this also has to be balanced with rest to maintain form.  (see chart above)   The chart has 3 parts… ATL (Acute Training Load/Short term stress), CTL (Chronic Training Load/Long Term Stress) and TSB (Training Stress Balance/Form).  Call me weird, but working with the numbers and watching how your body responds is almost as much fun as racing!  The Human body is an amazing machine.
Jack Kunnen Photography: Yankee Springs TT 2013 &emdash; IMG_3335-2Jack Kunnen Photography: Yankee Springs TT 2013 &emdash; IMG_3152-2Sorry for the rambling… My original intent was to post about Yankee, but listening to my friends talk about their results got me thinking about mine and all of the above.  Which brings me back to Yankee!  Mary Ann and I woke up early, picked up Brad and Joe Seidl and headed to Yankee.  I had thrown my SS back together late in the week and decided to try out a bigger gear than I would normally have run to see how it would work.  I am still a bit new to the SS thing and haven’t had a lot of time to experiment, so now seemed to be as good of a time as any.  I did a quick warm-up and then rolled the non-race portion of the trail and everything seemed OK and rolled to the start.  Terry Sensiba started 20s ahead of me and he always does well on this trail, so I figured if I could catch him, it would be a good day.  I passed a few people in the first few miles, but Terry was long gone.  I kept pushing, but could tell that the legs weren’t sharp and the gear felt heavy.  I had to run the conveyor belt climb both laps which was a good indicator that the gear was too big and I never really was spun out on the flats.  Live and learn.  I have also been pushing the limits with training and this race fell at the end of my second training block.   Since Yankee is just a single fun race for me, my training plan just absorbed it as a hard day of training.   My pace on the second lap was really starting to reflect the 3 big weeks of training proceeding this race .  About half way through the second lap, Joe (who started a minute or so behind me) caught and pass me.  I was excited for him as I knew he was having a stellar race!  I pushed hard to the end and rolled in for 7th.  Not a bad finish all things considered.  The best part of the day was seeing Joe get the win and Brad in 3rd.   They have both been working hard and the results show it!! 
Joe and Brad Representing!
With a good week of rest and changing my gearing back to my norm, I am looking forward to warmer weather and Pontiac this weekend!!