January 28, 2008

Weekend

Just another perfect weekend in the OC. . . The day was SUPER clear, warm and perfect for exploring out little world in company of the best of friends. We are blessed beyond measure and we often pull off weekends that have little plans but fall into place like magic. I would not have/could not have planned a better weekend...

We stayed w/ M&M and in the morning headed out for a ride through some backroads and trails in and around Dana Point, Laguna and even made some trails of our own. The cross bikes were a match made right on these trails. You could see for MILES and even some snow in the mountains close by...

The view across Aliso Woods park

the secret M&M route with an ocean view

Coffee on the go!

Our new cyclocross track?

Making trails in Aliso


The other M&M

When the sun began to set it was on to hang with more friends and we had a perfect celebration to see my best of friends Jordan for his big BDAY! Jordan is one of the most amazing people that I have ever met and I have always looked up to him. He is so mellow, caring and packed with tallent...He got everyone together on his BDAY for some rock climbing and hang out time. It was so nice for Monique and I to be able to see so many old friends. Old friends that we have not seen or hung out with in a long time and just plain getting old... Let the climbing begin.



After a little climb session we were off to hang out at Joe and Tiffanys house and met their "challenged" dog... Super funny watching Tiff get all worked up over a 3lb dog! We really miss all of that crew and the long summer days surfing, BBQing . . . I love to eat and I love those guys.

January 23, 2008

Keys to recovery

What better way to recover after a race than to get back out on the trail with some friends, the love of your life and your dog... (not to be confused). The day after the Rio Bravo and we decided to head to high country and ride the keyesville track and get lost on and off the trail.



We took out Nacho or Harold as his new owners like to call him and he was the MVP of the day... Or MVD I guess. HE IS FAST!!! Downhill, uphill and slideways proved that four legs are better than two and maybe even better than two wheels?? He loved it and we really need to take him out more.



Shortly after some time on the trail we decided to get lost and ended up doing some sort of adventure race type scouting. Brings back good memories of being lost and tired dragging our bikes through all kinds of terrain. I miss AR



Marius had a good idea to get out to a trail "Just Outstanding" that we could shuttle near to the top of the mountain so we packed up and drove north. Up and up we drove until we realized that there was just so much snow it was too late in the day to risk an epic decent while we tried to find the trail through the snow.



There were some killer roads we took on the "backway" home that would be perfect for some long climbing rides. I think we only saw a hand full of cars in MILES of road and LOTS of climbing... The road drops right into town and we rode some of them on our new years ride. There are a few 100+ mile loops that would be nice to climb/camp on the way with our bikes loaded up. hmmmm.... Future trip fo sho.

Heading back we were all pooped and our MVD was dropping air poops for our guests too. We still love him and will be back on the trail with him again soon!



January 22, 2008

Rio Bravo Rumble ! ! !


It was time to get out in the cold again and start the year off right with a race early in the season. It was time to Rumble! 10K trail run through the rolling hills and a 16 mile mountain bike extravaganza that was fast and full of unique views.


The Rio Bravo Rumble continues to be one of my favorite races for several big reasons. The course is awesome, challenging and because it is on a private ranch it is the only time you can get after it... Very well marked course that is almost impossible to get lost on with superb support through the event. The SSFTA again goes above and beyond with the support and even tons of free food after the event. Follow that up with a super friendly crowd and kids races and it is bound to be a favorite every year.


ready to run / ready to bike

Last years race was a big surprise to me and this year would prove to be another new experience physically and mentally. Monique was at it again after she blew out her tire last year and we had Marius and Mandy staying with us for the weekend so we knew we could count on two things for sure, LOTS of riding and LOTS of fun.


In all of my racing the last few years there are only a hand full of races that I have done more than once. Xterra Snow valley, Scout Challenge, Pacific Coast tri… I think that is it. The Rio Bravo is the only race that I have done three times now and it continues to be so unique at every attempt. The first year I competed I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into… Pleasantly pushing at an “easy” pace, I was happy to finish and the exhilaration of the off road had again attracted me back to the trail in search from more off road adventures. Last year, I pushed through some pain and ended up winning first place overall. A mental learning lesson for me and the excitement fueled my 2007 season with a desire to push, push, push. This year, I had pressure. I set a bar and felt it from myself, against myself and I had a goal that I had to go after now…. Why did I have to go and do that?

The Run

We are off running on the 10K and I already knew in the first couple of miles that I was moving a too fast when I am pacing next to Jeff Moffit. Jeff is the Phys/Ed professor at Cal State who was conducting the cycle research project and has completed some Ironman distance races and is a fast runner... I remembered that he posted a 38-somthing min 10K last year at the race so that was my sign to slow it down! My best 10K to date was a about 45min so I was way off... Unfortunately, by the time my adrenaline kicking body actually started to let go and slow down we were about halfway through the run and I already lost sight of Jeff so it made the decision easy.

I was holding back for the last big climb too. I ended up walking a few steps here and there so I wouldn’t explode and then it was all downhill to the transition again. I knew I came in fast…faster that I should have been pushing but I was not out in front and it was hard to hold a pace that I knew I should have. I struggled mentally with trying to remember "how I felt last time" and was I running too fast/slow, was I going to beat that time again?? I had to remind myself again and again that I had to enjoy the trail and race my race...run my pace. The last downhill I counted five runners in a pack about 500 yards ahead of me. I knew that a couple must have been team runners but I felt behind, slow and I was fighting with myself to “run my race” and “keep my pace”.

Back at the transition while I am sucking air and trying to get my shoes on without falling over, M&M are talking to me. They were encouraging me but I couldn't understand all what they were saying, expect that I was a few minutes behind. I wanted to sit down...I wanted a flat! I wanted the easy way out because I did not want to explain why I was slower than last year...Why I felt like I just couldnt push harder or maybe didnt want it as much... Strange feelings.


The Bike

Although it was a cold morning start the run got things warmed up in a hurry and the cool air was welcomed on the bike. The wind also meant forward progress at speed and it was much more welcomed after a run than the other way around. . . The triathlon mix of running on tired legs at such a slower pace than the bike is much harder on the mind.

(Monique finishing up her first lap on the bike)

Monique was soon finishing up her run and would make a record time 10K for herself and joined me on the bike course also. Mandy and Marius started after their 1hr 30min hold off and were blasting across the course. So fast…so fun. Mandy ended up in 2nd place for the women even with her time delay for the run. Dang that girl is fast. She beat my time on the bike too!

(Mandy Eakins - As fast as she is humble)

After a few turns into the first road I saw the lead “solo” rider and slowly paced behind him for about three minutes. Did I want to pass? There is a long loop still to go! Did I want to be in front? Pressure… I got run down at the turkey tri and I didn’t want to blow up… Was I ready to pass or was I just trying to keep up. I passed with one mantra. “out of sight, out of mind”. I needed some distance between us and a buffer for insurance if I was going to bonk. I sucked down some espresso love gu and started hammering. My legs were screaming but my lungs felt so much better than they did on the run. Two turns, three turns and I cannot see anyone looking back. So funny looking back. I was mumbling to myself and laughing at how lame I must have looked hunched over cranking away. Ha!! This is fun?


(beat - but I beat myself and thats what counts ;-)

The bike had MUCH more of a first climb than I remember… I passed a couple more team riders and stood on the last climb with all I had to crest it and start the downhill. Freedom!!! Free movement, no brakes, no fear just letting it go… I needed a rest. I crashed. I laughed. I realized this is fun and sometimes it is just beyond that last little hill.

(Monique's Polar download of the elevation)

Coming in for one more lap I was done. I was going to beat my time and I would pass one more team rider on the 10K loop. I enjoyed that last loop although I couldn’t push much more but I had broken through a new mental and physical realm...not sure what I would call it but it got me out of my comfort zone for sure. “be comfortable being uncomfortable” Ha ha I realized that there are only a few races a year that I can race this hard and its a big difference mentally and physically at that level.

Monique finished this year, got a 1st place for her age group AND still beat her run time from last year! Mandy got 2nd place despite a 1:30 handicap for the run and had one of the fastest bike splits of the day. Marius was ready to ride the course all day long and could have held his same blazing speed for hours on end. I ended up beating my time again and got first overall but so stoked that I beat my time. I didnt even wear a watch because I just didn’t want to know ;-)

We watched the kids races, ate some food and then did what M & M always get us to do . . . ride some more! I was planning on a killer loop through our local hills but we realized that we were just too far gone, hungry and out of water so we headed back after a short ride for some grub and hang out. Good times!


Pics posted over here:

http://slater.smugmug.com/gallery/4222100#246906712

http://www.ssportsman.com/wordpress/wp-gallery2.php?g2_itemId=5718

http://pipbak.dyndns.org/ssfta/2008_Gallery/Rumble_08.html


Progress...


January 18, 2008

puttin on the breaks

You shouldnt change "things" the day before or day of your race. . . as a general rule. Some of those things can be the food or other "stuff" you put into your body or the gear you are using. I pounded 24inches of turkey on wheat bread from Subway today but that was somewhat a normal lunch. My bike, however, has been taking a pounding lately and change is inevitable for some of the parts.

Last night I was going to take it out for a spin on my new wheels and I had just installed a new crank... I didnt need a new crank but thought what the heck... it was the only thing that I have not replace yet and the new one is carbon ;-) I was totally stoked to get my new derailleur hanger in time and got that on too. Just when I was going to take it out I noticed my rear brake was gone. Lever to the grip and wheel spinning gone. Crap! I had to go up to Fresno today for some meetings and had no time to get it fixed and the Magura brakes are not easy to even find a shop to work on them. To make a long story (and it is long) short I was able to find the coolest shop today that not only fixed my brake but they actually switched out my entire rear break with a new one and are going to send the old one back to Magura for me. So cool! Thank you Sierra Bicycle Werks!!! That prayer of desperation worked this morning. I was able to drop it off on the way up and pick it up on the way back with ease. Why do I wait until desperation for prayer??

Monique and I have cleaned up the house and just took a little spin around the block. My bike didnt break and I am so stoked that I got all the parts just in time. We are beat after a week of stress, travel and training but so looking forward to spending the weekend with Marius and Mandy who are on their way driving up now. M&M time!!

January 16, 2008

Nap session

Just as we finished up our last session for today around the Cisco Data Center 3.0 we got out right before lunch and about 3hours before my complementary massage at the spa(I LOVE MY JOB!). That was just enough time for me to run out to some vineyards and try to pick up some goods to bring home as I finished my last run before the race this weekend.

I have had issues with my butt lately. My left butt actually. I did some reading and confirmation today that I have strained my hamstring. No warmups, chronic stress with no stretching. . . yeah it was my butt or something else that was going to give first. Lesson learned(again). Warmup. Stretch. Cooldown. Stretch.

I found a fun little hill loop and after a nice long warmup felt super smooth on my run. I went out about 5min at 80% and then easy for 2min. . . repeat for just over 40min total. Complete focus on form and efficiency and my hams felt great. I checked out a few vineyards, a church and some shops and finished my run with a cooldown and some stretches that lead me right into a nice massage at the spa. Why can't all days be this productive ;-)

January 15, 2008

Napa Time

I have spent the last couple of days up in Napa Valley for my works 2008 kick-off meetings and the location is perfect with the Napa Valley Bike Tours literally a walk across the street. I had rented a bike but with the festivities wrapping around the clock here it was challenging to get in a ride. Not that its a problem but I have been on a good roll with building a base and I need to get the miles in early this week so I can have some rest before Saturdays race.

A few jobs ago I spent over three months in the valley for some networking projects and although it was over eight years ago the place looks exactly the same. I love it. Please don't change it. There is so much to explore outside of the normal wine stops and shops and it just feels so safe in the woods here. We have to make some plans to get out here more often.


I ended up going for a 4am ride in the BLACK of night and the THICK of the fog. So crazy. So cold. Good thing I brought my light with me. Pushing into the darkness and the quite of the night is a unique experience for sure. Little towns and neighborhoods with NO light between and the fog so thick it felt like I was pushing through a tunnel. My mind began to wander and my fears began to rise. I had no idea where I was going (normal procedures) but the mounting cold would make for a nasty situation if I got lost or I couldn't keep moving . . . I had over three hours until the sun would break through the night fog. No worries. I was on the road and just needed to take it one turn at a time.

(Getting out of the hotel...and into the fog just before 4am)

I rode up to the Silverado Trail that passes many wineries and heads to the hills to Oakville and eventually Calistoga. Super safe six foot bike lane that is manageable to stay in after a few stops along the way for wine tasting or an evening ride in the fog. I emailed Dave about some nice routes but didn't see his email until I got back from the ride...The Silverado trails was one on the list and I am sure the view would be insane in the day. It also connects with some routes around Lake Berryessa where they host a Half Ironman later in the year. I was just about two turns away from one of the roads but I wouldn't have been able to see a thing anyways...I was on a cold trainer in a closet.

(my smooth rental with the view of the hills that the Silverado trail traverses)

Before I returned the bike I just had to head back to see the vineyards I was riding through. What a view...perfect road...If I only could see some of these rolling hills from top. I am hoping to get one more rental (in the light) and head out to part of the half iron course or just to load up at a winery.


Tomorrow is our last day here and I am going to try and sneak in a run before we head home. It is just too nice to go away without some time here in the sun

January 12, 2008

Live More

"Far better it is to dare mighty dreams, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take the ranks with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat!" Theodore Roosevelt

the tragedy continues

Monique and I slept in this morning and missed the annual fog run. No big deal. It was so nice to cook some big ol breakfast and make espresso all morning. I will be up north again the first part of next week so it was one last ride on the Alma before we had our race on Saturday and things performed as expected. Problems again.

I just got a new wheelset because my hub was falling apart and my disc mounts were a bit jacked but I didnt expect to find a lighter/stiffer pair...and at a good price too. What I ended up with was a pair of 29er American Classics that dropped almost 2lbs of my ride. Sweet! I mounted my tubeless kit and took them out on the ride today. Super smooth, stiff and no problems.


The problem was AGAIN with the Alma or maybe it was intended design. While we were waiting for the group to reform at one stop I decided to try a little hill climb. I ended up in a zig zag off the the trail until I dropped the bike off my right side. A little dump going sub .4mph. What I got was another derailleur hanger bent so bad my chain was on the inside of my spokes. What? This is number three! I dont have a spare and I was lucky enough to bend it back without a snap but my shifting is all off and the rest of the ride was like being on my single speed. Hopefully, I can get another hanger before the Rio bravo on Saturday.

Then to add to my issues, I tried to give myself a little trim before our company kick-off party and things just headed down hill. One clipper size to another and the sides got shorter and shorter. . . I think it was fine until Monique was going to finish up trimming the back of my neck. I handed her the clippers (with NO attachment) and after that first race up the back of my head I understood she did not understand my "back of the neck" explanation and I understood that there was only one thing to do at this point. I was going to our kick-off as a bald man.


January 11, 2008

Another day. . . Another Bike

I know. . . I have issues. a cross is just such the perfect bike and today I got to prove it to myself again and again. On road, off road, painful single speed big gear pushing force. It has it all.




I was driving home after just picking up my new Bianchi Axis and stopped by Castic to check out some of the trails. I didn't race the Xterra last year due to my leg injury but we made our way through some of the hills during our adventure race and I knew where to find the bike leg of the Xterra course so I headed out. Big hills... Steep... Not made for a cross bike but so fun in the mud.



I rode into the dark and was just a little scared of the animals after all these deep tracks in the mud...but I made it out alive and the bond between me and the cross bike is even stronger now.

January 08, 2008

OC Marathon

Well this week... this year has started off with a blast. Aside from the crashes and problems with my bike/body I have started a good build already and will need all I can get if I will get to Ironman at the end of the year. My ribs have been killing me from my blowout crash but I did a small run through the back bay on Friday and was the first time I could run with little pain. I was ready for the run on Sunday.

We had signed up for the full marathon but after the lack of miles/time/discipline through the holidays we decided to run the half and use it as a training run. Was Monique ready? Oh yeah!! After our ride on Saturday in the mud she was all pumped up getting her play lists ready for her ipod run...


video
(playtime with playlists)

The 2008 Orange County Marathon with over 13,000 people... What were we thinking? Mass, mass people and even a picture of the bathroom line before the race never gets old to me. This race just reinforced the desire for me to get out on the trail in solitude or with a few hundred at most good folks running along.


(its pee pee time before the race)

The sound and feel of thousands of feet pounding the pavement around you is such a unique experience. From where we were starting (somewhere in the middle of the pack) we could just make out the starting banners but it took us over 5min just to cross the starting line. Crazy crowds and ALL walks of life.



We decided to run along together with the crowd and when I got anxious I would break out into some intervals and stretch and wait. Nothing much exciting on the road besides watching people with strange running styles and clothes...

I wanted to do a review post on Mondays with miles, etc to track my build and goals for the week but this week it was simple. . . We got a big start with the New Years ride and I got three bikes, three runs and a weight training session in. I just wanted to get through the half w/out injury and mix in some intervals. I ran anywhere between 6min miles and over 10min miles but somehow I finished feeling like I ran them all at 6min. I was beat but we both made it to the finish before the rain started and we were stoked to get some post-race food and blankets to hold in our heat for the bus ride back.


(get me a Cappuccino!!!)

Monique got a PR from the last half we ran (about two years ago) with about the same level of training and I think she could have done the full without too much more work. She also did more miles than ever before in one week (over 80) from the bike/run workouts and we are on track for our half ironman mid year.


(ready to get warm and rest it up)

Next week I am in San Fran again and it is a rest week for us. . . The following week we get ready to RUMBLE!! at the Rio Bravo. So looking forward to that weekend.

.

January 05, 2008

mud tested, kid approved

It’s the mud that makes the rare opportunity in sunny SoCal a priority to get on the trail . . . but it is the kid in me that makes the cold and wet so much fun, it is worth the price of bike clean up or risking a cold. It is raining, the day before our half marathon and we cannot resist the urge to get out into the rain and have some fun on the trails. Most of the riding areas are closed today not only from the recent fires but the lightest drizzle and tickets are all you risk heading into El Moro, O’Neil, Aliso or any other high profile trails. Our idea was to head out to the south end of Tijeras Creek for a mid day ride. Let the mud slingin’ begin!

We parked at our old apartments where we first moved after we got married… funny that we were just surfing then and never even knew these trails were right out our window! The Tijeras creek area is one of our favorite little valleys already because of the “out of this country” type of feel through the jungle parts of the trail. The tight turns around the loose earth and falling branches just made for a more interesting ride and much to our surprise, we were not alone. Glad to find others enjoying the mud. Here is a snap of part of the trail.


video


Although the sun was hiding around the clouds and we were wet it was surprisingly warm. Maybe the clouds were keeping in the warmth? Getting back to carrying our bikes over logs and finding new ways through the trees made me miss adventure racing. It adds so much to being on the trail when you have to negotiate creek crossings and look beyond the 20 feet in front of you.


(Monique practices her "AR" river crossing)

The mud was only really bad in a few spots but it was enough to give our bikes and our abilities a good test. This was the first ride on the 29er in the mud and testing was in progress. Not that I needed to test the Alma at this point. . . my last four rides have ended in something going wrong with my bike!! Last Wednesday on our night group ride I heard a loud grinding from the rear… I have been having trouble with my rear hub getting all loose so I just thought I was losing the bearings. It got louder and stranger as the night went on but it was dark (that is my excuse) so I didn’t really look into it. After we rode down “Oh Yeah” and I came to a sliding stop. Uh, sorry guys. My bolts from my rear disc brake were all gone except for one that stopped me on its way out by wedging itself between the frame and the rotor. Nice marks on the carbon frame. How did I grind all of the other bolts away so fast? After a short stop, a pair of pliers and some help, I finished the ride with no back break but was happy I didn’t have a crash on the way. Last weekend I “barrel rolled” my chain heading down Toads Wild Ride when I swung my rear derailleur into a rock. What’s a “barrel rolled” chain? Something I didn’t know could happen until I did it and someone enlightened me to the term. My chain fully rolled inside out kind of… Basically broken. That day ended with Monique’s extended workout of towing me back to the car with a couple of tubes for a towline. Good training!


(the good, the bad and the mud)

So how did the Alma do in the mud? Well, I consider it kind of like a race car now. It’s fast and looks pretty but is probably best saved for the race track. I did a lot of research before I jumped from the Epic (which was proficient performance for everything) and I realize that the Alma is for cross country and Xterra type racing. That is why I went with the hardtail and carbon bling too. I read online about the rear end being tight (2.1 is the widest clearance wheel) but most races would not need much more room. However, today’s ride and this blog are all about learning so here we go. Mud pile up is expected on any frame but due to the tight end and cross bar for V-brakes my pile up was exceptional. It was so bad a few times I was stopped in my tracks…Other times because of fear from the noise and fear from that pretty carbon getting grinded away. How about Monique’s ride? . . . the Yeti ASR SL pink machine with a sexy engine? It was flinging mud like a water buffalo jumping from the clutches of a crocodile! Okay, I have been watching the Planet Earth DVD's around the clock, but her frame rocks. . . beautiful design and I am continuously impressed by the thought behind the frame. 

Although the Alma performance was not set back too much by the mud that pretty carbon will never look the same. Shifting was decent until my rear got so clogged on a climb that I stomped on it and SNAP! goes my rear derailleur hanger FOR THE SECOND TIME! Dang… Walking in the mud is not as fun as riding but we were almost back at the apartments and there was just enough light and downhill to coast to the car safety.


(the Alma after a second defeated derailleur hanger...)

Luckily, I have another derailleur hanger that Marius got for me but I am ordering a few more for backup and next time it will be me on the single speed when the mud is calling. Lesson learned. Now it’s time to put the bike aside and get ready to run our buns off tomorrow morning at the OC Marathon… rain or shine.

January 01, 2008

Round Mountain

The new year came upon us so fast... 9:12am and Monique wakes me up and says "I think that new years ride starts at 10am today" Aghh... Lets go!

I check the website to see where everyone is meeting and Monique pops in some bagels to get toasty. We are running back and forth with one eye open but we have had extensible experience at this type of packing. Clothes off...riding clothes on...I grab the bikes...Monique starts to pack the helmets, fill water bottles and before we get both eyes open we are driving to our destination. Rushing off to the hospital to deliver a baby will be like old hat when that day comes.

It was a good thing the park was just down the street and when we arrived we found more than 100 (150 someone said?) eager riders ready to head out.



After we got a short warm-up on the bike path we were off to China Grade Loop for a long steady climb and new territory up on round mountain road. Beautiful hills and we learned a lot about the area on the ride up. The hills we were riding through were once under the ocean water and now people dig for shark teeth in the area. Crazy stuff!

The ride had its unique highlights as all rides do but for me the big bull running stands out . . . After we started our decent and had a nice pace line BEHIND Tim and Melissa on the tandem bike we had about a half mile riding next to some fenced in cattle. One of these big ol cows started running along the fence pacing Enrique who was just about 50 yards in front of the pack. I was watching out of the corner of my eye when all of a sudden the fence disapeared and the cow was making its way onto the street. My mind saw a big tandem t-bone on its way and massive pileup about to happen... You never know when things will change just like that. It was Tims quick thinking or rather loud yell that stopped the cow and saved the day. Too bad I already made myself a cow patty in my pants at that point.

On the way back we realized that we had been riding for a couple hours already so I asked, "How long is this ride anyways?" 40+ something miles... Good thing I told Monique it would be a nice 12miler when we were heading out the door. No complaints. The weather was perfect and it was nice to chat it up with some friends and start out the new year with such a fun ride.