Monday, November 26, 2018

SSWC18 BendOR! Part 1

When I heard the Singlespeed World Championships were in the US this year I knew I had to go.  Being in a not so busy time of year and in a location where a lifelong friend had relocated didn't hurt either.

Although I'd be competing just for fun and the experience, my season had been focused on endurance events in the latter part of the race calendar.  I had pretty good form.  With The Coney LTD in transit to Bend, I was on Mi Putita Roja for the first time in almost 2 years; a great bike as well but with vastly different geometry than it's successor.  All I had to do was stay healthy...
Crashing over the bars was not in the plan.

Crashes-smashes, I'll get over it.  I've got a whole week to recover. 
The following Tuesday, 2 days before flying to Bend, I wake up with chills.  Maybe skipping the morning ride would be wise?

This time of year, I'm usually still in shorts, but instead I'm wearing every layer I can find at work.  When I get home, Christine tells me I have a fever, should take some ibuprofen and go to bed.

The next morning is the same.  We are driving to Boston that evening to stay at an AirBnB close to the airport and I'm burning up, or so I'm told; I'm freezing!

Ibuprofen  keeps it at bay for 6 or 7 hours, but it comes back with a vengeance.  On the plane, I'm borrowing layers from Christine to keep the shivers at bay until the next dose kicks in.

The warm high desert of Bend is welcome relief.

After another night of chills/fever/sweats/repeat Christine strongly suggests we stop at the walk in clinic to get me checked out.

Lungs, ears, throat, are clear.  Blood pressure normal.  The doctor is checking off boxes and is perplexed.  "I don't know why you have a fever"  she exclaims. 

Christine interjects "show her your chest".  The doctor examines the wound and thinks it's healing well.

"Show her the picture of when it happened"
"Eww!!"  she exclaimed. 

I think that's doctor talk.

She begins to probe it again.  "Hm, that does feel a little soft, maybe an xray is in order"?

When the xray comes back, she thinks she sees something but wants to hear from radiology first.  When they come back with "everything looks normal" she calls them back to ask for a second look as she see something right under where the wound is.

"It doesn't seem to be viral, so go home and when I hear back from radiology, I'll call in an antibiotic for you, but I want to hear from them so I know how aggressive to go".

We go back to Chuck's.  I build Christine's bike so she can go for a ride while I rest waiting for the doctor's call.  On the way home we bought a thermometer.

After a few hours, I take my temperature; 102F.  I call the pharmacy to see if the prescription is ready. 

Nope, hasn't been called in.

I call the clinic, radiology hasn't called back. I tell the doctor my temperature, she says "Jesus".

More of that fancy doctor talk.

I build my bike.

At 6:50, 10 minutes before the doctor's shift ends, I call back.  They still haven't heard back so they just called something in.

15 hours before the race I take my first dose of  antibiotics.

A case for outside

With the early snow and unusually cold temperature this past week Winter training is brought to mind.

I am a big fan of outside.

Even with the advent of such impressive tools as smart trainers, and interactive websites, there is great value to riding outdoors in the Winter for mountain bikers.

Riding outdoors in the Winter improves your handling and balance.  Riding on frozen leaves, snow, and ice can be unpredictable.  You need to adapt to the unexpected becoming acutely tuned to the pressure you are applying precisely to your bike and it to the ground.  Rock gardens become that much more challenging when you add in an ice flow.  Riding across glare is possible without studs if you are balanced and smooth.

You learn to use momentum.  If there are leaves or unpacked snow, you need to carry every bit of momentum you can or you'll be walking that next hill.  Have fun when your cleats and pedals are packed with snow and you can't clip in. That glare ice too; if you can roll across it  without pedaling you have that much better of a chance of staying upright.

Winter riding recruit more and different muscles.  You'll be using your whole body to keep moving let alone keep momentum. You thought you were utilizing your glutes and quads to their full potential before!

Strengthens core.  See above.  A strong core is essential to mountain biking, for control and endurance. Winter is the perfect time to concentrate and build on that whole body strength.

Finally, it's just fun.  What can be better than building strength, skills, and base while playing in the snow?!  That's what it's all about; fun (or maybe the hokey pokey).

Sunday, November 25, 2018

VT50 2017, scratch that, 2018: Goals

"They" say you should set goals.  For personal achievement you should have a scale of goals; The seemingly unattainable, the stretch, and the what should be attainable.  For The 25th annual Vermont 50 Mountain Bike Race those were, in that order, win the singlespeed race, podium in the singlespeed race, finish in under 5 hours.

It was a remarkably warm morning for this year’s addition.  No thought to layers was necessary .  Lights were charged, New tires with fresh with sealant; ready as I'll ever be.

After the mandatory 5:00 AM check in, and 5:30 rider's meeting we were lining up.  At two minutes to go I pulled the old "Hold my bike" on Jordan.  There was some audible cue and we're off.

Bottom of the hill, leaving the resort and the lead rider heads right...ignoring the State Trooper and course markers pointing "go left".

First real climb of the course the young guys power off the front. I summon my inner geezer inspirational speaker, and tell myself they're going out too hard and will be back.

Yo-yoing with Scott Livingston, almost a contemporary, I finally begin to pull away. The youngsters with giant quads are out of sight to the front, and Scott's light is fading in the distance.

I was alone.

Maybe it was when I was fiddleing with the switch turning off my light, maybe I was deep in  concentration, but all of a sudden I was at a major intersection (for VT), and there wasn't a course marshall, or markers.  How do I know to go left or right?  Wait a second...


(I didn't say fudge ripple)

Time to backtrack and reassess some goals.

I started writing this over a year ago and lost interest or was distracted or something.
But I enjoy writing and sometimes miss it so maybe for my own head, it was time to dust off the old blawg.

Goals was going to be the title of this year's VT50 recount, but low and behold it was already in use.

So goals.  It's good to have them.
The Ultimate, the stretch, and the attainable.

For the 2018 edition of the VT50 the were as follows:
The best I had done at the VT50 was 4th, and there was a pretty solid gap to that bottom step of the podium.  Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger.
Sub 4:40
What I think I would have been able to do last year without the detour
Sub 5 hour
The two edition finished had been as such

According to Garmin, the temperature at the start was a balmy 36 *F.  In true XC racer douche style no knee or leg warmers were worn.

Corralled at the start, I'm contemplating doing the old "hold my bike" and going pee, but the new starting area did not provide easy access to the woods, so I convinced myself I really didn't have to go that bad.

The whistle/gun/horn, I don't remember how they started us but somehow they did, goes off, and at the bottom of the hill, everyone goes the right direction!

Praying for the first climb in the sub40 temps, trying to not loose too much ground to geared riders, to only inevitably end up yoyo-ing with for the next hour up and down the hills, until there are some flatter (for VT) dirt roads for them to get away on.

On the first climb, I'm able to hold Dave pedal stroke for pedal stroke, on the second climb youthful exuberance carried him and an anonymous rider from NY away from me (ie. Dave and Shane were stronger and faster than yours truly).

I went with an easier gear this year, but it somehow seemed harder.  Not only did it not seem easier, there was a greater futility with every passing geared rider on the open road.

The yoyo-ing.  Ah the yoyo-ing.  Clusters of riders coming and going, passing and getting passed.  Hauling ass past me on the open flats (for Vermont), being caught when things got steeper or in the more technical (VT50 is anything but technical).

One such case was on the way to Margaritaville, an uplifting party of a rest stop at the top of a big climb where they crank classic rock and hand out ice cold beer.  I've never stopped there but it always lifts my spirits.  A  rider on a Salsa hardtail who flew in from out West for the race has been playing the game with me and was up ahead.  As we ascended he caught a buddy who had also traveled from afar to come and race.  Spinning little gears up the twisty singletrack chatting it up as I churned slowly behind them with no place to pass.  Glancing back I see the next singlespeeder, Skip Thomas, closing in.  He is in striking distance with the ability to shatter my number one goal.  As we reach the top Salsa guy's buddy want to stop for a beer. I explain my urgency and plead for the easy pass.

Permission granted.

From Margaritaville the race gets more funnerer.  More singletrack, more descents.  With Skip hot on my tail (does he know this?) I need to summon my limited technical ability and try and get out of sight.

Being chased is a great motivator in it's nerve wrecking way.  Constantly peaking over your shoulder, not letting up, you know, BECAUSE HE'S RIGHT THERE!

Your mind plays tricks on you; is that him, maybe a teammate, is he closer, are my tires soft, do these shorts make my butt look big?

They added more singletrack to the second half of the race (yay!), looking at my computer and where I am on the course, the B Goal is in jeopardy.

I think if I can make it to the top of the 1 Mile Climb, a zigzag up an open hay field about 2 miles from the finish, with any kind of gap I can hold him off.  Again, is that him or a teammate?

It is uphill so if I don't blow up or have a mechanical or get attacked by wolverines, I think I've got this.  What I don't have is my C Goal as the 5 hour mark is quickly approaching.

But who cares about C and B Goals when you've got A?

Entering the woods at the top, confidence is growing, doubt is waning.  I keep on the gas crossing the mountain, pushing up the last few punchy climbs.

The final descent down the ski hill.  Feelings of elation start to seep in.  I've got this.  Age group riders fueled by their own personal goals and ego are passing me in the grassy switchbacks.  I don't care.  I've finally made the podium at the Vermont 50.

Well, I actually didn't reach the podium.  I was back at the condo eating candy when they had the podium ceremony, so Mike Sliverman just handed me my bottle of syrup.

This year the Vermont was actually 50 miles with the additional singletrack (yay!).