Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ups and Downs of Summer '13 ...



When last we left our hero ...

Sorry folks. Again. It's been over a month since my last post. That's a personal drought record for me, I think. But unlike last time, I actually have a pretty good reason this time -- I've actually been out doing a lot of stuff this past month, and I just haven't had the time to sit down and write any of it up. Typically, most of my posts are written later at night. Lately, that hasn't been a option because I've had to get to sleep earlier. For the last few years, I've pretty much focused exclusively on riding for fitness from spring through late autumn. This summer, I'm doing something a little different. Back in November, I started swimming in the mornings as part of my regular winter workouts. I stopped for a while in early spring, but given the way this season has played out, I decided I needed something different just to put the focus back on fitness for a while. I still opt for a ride over the gym or yoga just about any time, but I'm trying to keep a more consistent level of fitness and that means time in the gym and pool whenever I can fit it in. And, four days a week, that means five in the morning. Since I would also like to maintain my sanity at the same time, I usually try to get to sleep around 10 p.m.  So on a typical weekday, at the time when I might throw down a few ideas in this space I'm now out cold so I can get up and hit the gym and pool first thing in the morning.

Gym workouts aren't all I've been up to. I'm still riding a lot. My knee is almost 100% recovered now, so I've had some pretty good rides.

And a few bad ones.

Trying to hold it together at the Stewart Six Pack

The Stewart Six Pack - the race I was heading into just after my last post - didn't go as planned. I felt pretty good early on, and kept as best I could to my game plan of keeping it steady and not getting caught up in a runout or anything. But I knew I was already behind the eight ball given the rough months that came before it, and by the third lap I was hurting. I was cramping up by the end of that lap, but I decided to keep going (my only reason was that the course was a lot of fun -- it was hot as hell and the promised rain just wasn't coming at all, but I love riding Stewart, and I decided to keep on rolling.) The fourth lap was a little tough, but at the start of the fifth, I was feeling a little better and started to think about doing that sixth lap. That was really my goal given the course (which was about a mile longer than the previous year.) And things were going alright right up to the last rocky section before the finish line. I had over ten minutes to finish the last mile, but I hit the last short steep climb and my right leg just locked up. I mean, I couldn't unbend it. What was worse was that every movement I made led to another cramp somewhere else. My body was shutting down. I ended up having to sit in the side of the trail for over 20 minutes in a ton of pain before I could get up and part-ride/part-walk the rest of the course to the finish line. Epic fail. And to top it off, I ended up with a little bit of rhabdo that kept me on the couch for the next week or so.

So that was the bad. There was some good, too. A few weeks ago, I combined two of my favorite things -- bikes and beers -- for a Friday night at the Stoudt's Night Time TT. It was pouring the whole time and the lap was really short, but it was great to get out there and I even had a special guest with me! Joanna made it out for a race for the first time in a few years! She stayed in the beer garden during my run because of the rain, but just the fact that she came to one of these made my night! I ended up fourth overall with an 8 minute run, but that was totally secondary -- it was just a great night by the gang from JB!

And from a racing standpoint, I had one other pretty solid ride: I took the win in the SS class at Midnight at Marsh Creek this past weekend. That was a fun race, and possibly the fastest course I've ever ridden. I don't have a license to race Cat 1, which is required in the MASS races, because I have only raced endurance events for several years now. Apparently, USA Cycling doesn't put any value on endurance results, so I'd have to petition for a Cat 1 license without any results. Since I barely ever do any regular XC races, I just never bothered to do it. So I lined up with the Cat 2 class, which is probably appropriate anyway. In this race, I had a really good start and felt really good early on. After the first mile or so, there were three of us who kind of escaped the rest of the field. I was sitting third wheel and feeling very comfortable. The guy on the front looked like he was working too hard, and ultimately that seemed to be the case as he kind of blew up on the first longer climb. The second place rider went around him and I jumped on his wheel and went with him. I kept thinking that he could have put me away on the flats if he wanted, but for some reason he only seemed to push harder on the climbs, which worked to my advantage since I think I was running an easier gear than he was. Every time he'd attack, I had to do very little to hold his wheel. And then a bit later, he banged his wheel on a tree going around a corner and hopped off to check it. When he did, I jumped and took off. I spent the rest of the race trying to stay steady and looking over my shoulder for lights coming behind me. Aside from a few geared guys, no one ever came. And I was able to use a few more of the geared riders ahead of me as rabbits to keep my effort up. With about a mile left, I could see enough of the section behind me to know I was in the clear and put it on cruise control the rest of the way. Ultimately, I crossed the line about a minute ahead of second place. It was nice to get a good result during what has been a tough season and I was pretty psyched!

Official results

Celebrating in style thanks to Sean K at the Guy's Racing Team tent


Aside from that, I've had a pretty busy July, topped off by a trip to NYC with Joanna, her mom and her niece who was visiting from Spokane, WA. We saw the Lego exhibit at the Discovery Zone, which is really cool and worth the trip on its own. It's pretty amazing what can be done with just little plastic bricks!






Just a few of the very cool pieces at the Lego Exhibits

So while I've been neglecting this blog a bit of late, it's been for exactly the reason I should be: I've been out there doing some new things, having some fun on the bike, and getting back into some semblance of shape. Still more to do, but then again, summer isn't over yet!

Have fun out there, and see you on the trails!


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