Monday, September 29, 2008

And before you know it...

SMASH you are on the ground!

More about that later though.

Saturday I did some exploring on the road bike. I would like to find some new routes to ride and it is easier to explore without Allison (she has no patience for my route finding). So I ventured west on Rancho California into De Luz, very nice riding up there. I wasn't sure how to connect the route I wanted to and couldn't find the right road on the GPS screen, but now I know how to connect up a nice 2hr ride with some good climbing. There is really some great road riding up there and I can't wait to tap into it some more. I also found some dirt roads that make me really want a cross bike! Anyway I got a nice 2+ hrs. ride in.

Sunday morning I started my ride in Palm Desert (we stayed the night at my mother in-law's house) and rode over to Palm Springs. It was a very pleasant ride and I pushed my pace pretty hard for most of the 2+ hrs. It was really nice riding over there in the shadow of the big mountain. I couldn't help but look up at the rocky slopes and craggy peaks and imagine the trails that could be built up there and accessed by the tram. It is a damn shame we don't operate more like Europe and Canada!

My muscles were very sore today so I wanted to do a short 1hr ride after work to loosen up a bit and get the blood flowing before dinner. I once again was scouting new routes and checked out yet another cool dirt road that led up onto the plateau (with more than one dirt road I can now piece together a nice bit of riding, almost enough to warrant taking out the MTB). I stopped and spoke to a mountain biker for a bit about my routes before getting back on the asphalt. I was quite pleased with the beautiful evening ride and thinking about the new route possibilities, I was also scouting out a new connector through the back of Murrieta, as I made a right turn onto a street.

BAM! Before I knew what was happening I was literally skidding on my head. As I was making the right turn I ran through a rivulet of water on a concrete gutter. It must have been slicker than puppy shit on a linoleum floor because my front tire was gone before it registered in my brain. My right knee must have smashed onto the ground with great force as it is sore and unstable feeling, and the road rash is pretty deep in two spots (front and outside of the knee). I didn't even look at my beautiful carbon Felt bike other than straightening out my now scarred Dura-Ace levers. There is some cosmetic damage to my Giro Atmos helmet from sliding on it, and some road rash on my right hand, arm, and shoulder. I am also doing my best to ignore a pain that is eminating from my back, it is probably just some muscle spasms...

So now my training plan for the week is up in the air. I had it all figured out so that I would get my intensity early in the week and taper for the race this weekend. Now I am just hoping my knee feels better. Training on the road is supposed to keep me from hurting myself on my mountain bike! Ridiculous!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Over heated and blown up!

Today I went for a lunch ride with the local fast guys. Bruce and Sergio are a pair of managers from here at work that have done a bunch of Iron Man races, Xterra races, La Ruta, BC Stage Race, and countless other races. Needless to say these guys are serious motors!

I went out with the goal of getting a high intensity workout. I should have gone out with the idea of just hanging onto their wheels. They were happy to let me go on the front any time I wanted on the way out to the real hills. There was a pretty stiff headwind and I probably should not have pulled at all.

(Begin aside)

Why is it that when I ride with someone faster than me I for some reason feel like a total slacker idiot if I just sit on? I mean really, I can't keep up with these guys with a rocket pack shoved up my ass! Yet there I go, pulling on a slight incline with a stiff headwind with two of the biggest cardiovascular monsters in a 30 mile radius on my tail! WTF was I thinking? I am the dumbest person to ever wear SPD shoes!

(Back to the story)

We got out to the hills and Bruce pulls up next to me and says, "Now do your intervals, we have four hills up ahead." I put my head down and cranked hard. I think I made it over the first two hills OK. My memory is a little fuzzy now though because it was almost 100 degrees out there and I cooked myself big time! By the time I got to the top of the fourth hill I could no longer see the two of them up ahead. I had goose bumps all over, was shivering a little, and had maxed out my HR twice, maybe three times. I was tapped! Cooked! Blown the eff up!

Bruce and Serg waited for me on a side street, and then they expected me to tuck in behind them on the flats. I couldn't even hold on. I dumped some water on my head and was able to hang within 30 yards or so... they wound up waiting up again to let me catch back on. The rest of the ride I did my best not to hold them up, but I felt like crap.

Anyway, it was really cool to see what real cyclists can do. I have a long way to go to even hold on to the wheels of real riders. After the ride in the locker room I did ask if they were going to come out and try DH racing. :) I think it is only fair, right? :) Not sure if I will ever have a big enough motor to hang onto the likes of those guys on their turf, but we all have our strengths.

Tomorrow I hope to get a nice long ride in. Should be different to be out there riding by myself for a change. Not sure how I will feel after blowing up today, but I definitely need the hours on the bike to prepare for the upcoming races. I hope the wife is ready to get back on the bike soon. I miss riding with her!

Maybe next week I will get bored at some point and do another installment of my gear selection stuff.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gear Selection Part I

“I am bored I got nothing to do. I’m gonna take a retard to the zoo!” - The Dead Milkmen

Not that I am an expert by any means, I figured that maybe I should document the loads of crap that I have purchased as I stumbled my way to what works for me. In order to give some sort of order to this, I will start with my head and move downward.

Helmets – Since a helmet goes on top of your head it falls first on my list. I have had the pleasure (?) of owning several helmets and breaking a few. Most helmets available will “get the job done” most of the time. The helmet’s job is to sacrifice it’s life in hopes of reducing the grade of your concussion during a crash. Helmet fit and fashion is a very personal topic. What works for one person may not work for others.

For trail riding my helmet of choice has been the Giro Xen. It has nice vents for cooling and fits my head well. I have owned a few of these helmets and they have protected my head well. The adjustable visor is handy but tends to fall down at times (read during extremely bumpy fast descents). The retention system is good, but I have had some issues with the “snap” where the plastic attaches to the helmet. When the helmet is tight they can pop loose. Being someone with a receding hair line (no not quite as bad as Leipheimer) I have had the problem of “vent spots”. These are dark spots that correlate with the location of vents in my helmet, they can be embarrassing and are probably the most conspicuous tan lines one could have. I have also purchased a Specialized Decibel helmet for my wife. She seems to like the helmet. It has a removable visor so you can look like a roadie if you like. Her biggest complaint about this helmet, and most helmets for that matter, is that her sunglasses don’t seem to fit quite right with the helmet on. Her complaint has something to do with the earpiece/helmet/strap interface. The only reason I mention this is because it is aggravating for me when I want to ride and it seems like she is messing with her glasses/helmet for like forever! (or 4 minutes, I am so impatient!)

For playing around or jumping I had purchased a 661 Dirt Lid. This helmet seemed to fit like shoes that are 4 sizes too big. It wasn’t very comfortable and flopped around on my head. It is a strange coincidence that I only wore it once to go to the local BMX track. I crashed on a big table top and my head slammed on the ground. The foam inside compressed and did it’s job. I don’t think I will buy another one to replace it.

For DH racing I have a Giro Remedy. I guess I own this helmet for a pretty dumb reason. It was cheap. Lots of my racing friends have Troy Lee helmets and claim that an expensive helmet will protect their heads better. I don’t know if that is true, but if it is I should have a Troy Lee also, but I have a hard time spending money on something you throw away after one good crash. I also owned one of the early Specialized Deviant helmets. It didn’t last very long as I crashed in a practice run at one of my first DH races and broke it. I suffered a pretty good concussion so I don’t rate that helmet very high.

There are several items that we have worn under (or over) our helmets for one reason or another.
-Halo makes a sweat band that is designed to direct sweat away from the front of your head to keep it from going in your eyes. I have found that they work, but can be ineffective if you sweat like crazy (me).
-I have also made some makeshift head/neck covers to aid in reducing sunburn. What I have done was to cut an old T-shirt so that the sleeve would fit over my head, while a portion of the front or back of the shirt would drape over my neck/ears. I call it a “Fake Mullet” and it works but looks funny (kind of like a real mullet).
-During the summer when the flies are really bad we have used bug nets (purchased at the local camping store) placed over the helmet/head to keep from having the bugs drive us mad. There is nothing worse than suffering up some ridiculous climb in the heat of summer and having 1,000 flies swarming your face and ears. We almost always have bug nets in our packs during the summer!
-In the winter on really cold or wet days I have used a shower cap placed over my helmet to reduce the chill. This can be quite effective although it does look funny.
-Another cold weather must have is a Pearl Izumi Skull Cap (don’t know if that is what they call them but I will call it what I want in my blog). These little items can really save your head and ears on long cold descents in the winter.

I have also seen cyclists using hats under their helmets. I am guessing that they do this to eliminate sun burn through the vents and on their noses, but I just can’t wrap my head around wearing a hat under a helmet. It seems to me that it would completely negate the effectiveness of vents in your helmet?

To round off this blog I will discuss eyewear. In my opinion eyewear is an absolute must have for riding. On the trail there are all sorts of sticks and objects that could get into your eye, which is painful but most likely less so than the high speed crash that would most likely follow! On the road there is always some sand or gravel being kicked up from wheels in front of you and once again the ensuing crash is worse than the grain of sand that got in your eye. So for most of my riding I have a pair of Specialized sunglasses. They work well and were cheap. For night rides I like to have the cheapo glasses with interchangeable lenses. I also have a pair of regular clear safety glasses that I can use at night. For DH racing I usually use goggles (although sometimes I wear sunglasses because they are more comfortable). Goggles seem to be pretty much the same across the board, but having tinted lenses is usually a plus, as is having the ability to run tear-offs for muddy conditions.

So that about covers the head stuff I think.

Monday, September 22, 2008


So the big weekend has come and gone and neither of us came home with a new jersey.

What happened? After blowing up early and making a dumb mistake, I fought my way back to second and then blew it. I was pushing too hard on the descent, riding my XC bike like a DH bike and double flatted. With only one spare tube I didn't even stop, I rode the last bit of the race with two flats and held onto third. Honestly third felt like last. It sucked horribly.

I waited around for a long time at the finish line, hacking and coughing my brains out, waiting for Allison to finish. After watching all the girls I knew she was in front of come through the finish line, and asking everyone I saw if they saw someone wearing a green argyle jersey, I found out that she had flatted. Whew! I thought maybe she crashed.

Turns out she had a really hard time trying to fix the flat rear tire and spent about 40 minutes on the course working on it/begging for help. It sucks pretty bad because when I passed her earlier in the race she had dropped every other expert woman and was not far behind the Pro women. Kudos to her for sticking it out though, no DNF for her. She was the last participant to cross the line and I am proud of her for that.

Now what? Nothing changes. We train and prepare for the next race. Like a machine with no emotion we will continue on despite the loss. We have a few more races before the season is over and each one of them counts. After that? You guessed it, training and preparing for next year! Who needs down time? Harden the fuck up!

Friday, September 19, 2008

My blogs have sucked lately...

And I figured out why. NO PICTURES! :)

From this last weekend's race...

From The Vacations...

Ahhh... Thats better. What a good summer! Fall is upon us!

So you think you can keep up?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hooked up!

So it looks like I got helped out in a major way. Intense is going to be giving me new front and rear triangles for my Socom! I am pretty excited over the whole deal! This gives me several options which I will have to weigh pretty heavily, but I can guarantee you one thing... I want to stay with racing on Intense frames! One of the guys at the factory today was like, "Hey man, I can see you ride the hell out of this thing. Thanks for racing and riding our frames!" That was pretty cool.

Tonight is a rest night (ahhh, do we ever really REST much?) so no riding. I have a ton of bike maintenance to do for the race this weekend. I want the bikes to be in perfect condition.

I think I will force Allison to ride the Canzo tomorrow night so that I don't have to go through her race bike twice!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


So things have really heated up in my world. Aside from all the crazy stuff in my personal life, my biking world is now officially hectic.

Broken DH bike... I am stressed out about it. I need something to race on! I have my fingers crossed that I get hooked up.

New jersey... I had a good weekend racing this past weekend! Won another race and a nice California Golden State Champion jersey. I like it alot.

New class... I will now be racing in Expert for DH. This is very stressful. I liked the guys in my class. Now things get more serious. I need to try to not get run over in practice!

XC bikes... I need to get the XC bikes ready for State Champs in Big Bear this weekend. Lots of cleaning and wrenching and lubricating to do!

Training... Lots of races on the schedule and pressure for Allison to perform means that we are training our butts off. It doesn't seem like we ever get enough hours in, or stretch enough, or do enough ab workouts.

Race Schedule... What races are worth going to? Which ones are more important? Which ones will Allison most likely win? Which ones are fun?

I think I could keep going all night, but I am tired and need to do some manscaping. I am sure my one reader gets the point, I am stressed out!

In typical form, at my worst of moments I will find the energy to cheer on a friend...

"Go LUKE!" :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Do YOU think the dust has settled?

Who cares? Eff the haters!

Allison approached me tonight to discuss the state of our training and fitness. I feel like we are in great shape and maybe our training is tapering a bit. I certainly don't think that we have lost fitness. I think she is in a slump. I don't know exactly what to do to motivate her, but I need her to go into her big XC race with a better attitude!

I guess I need to inject something new into the equation to fire her up. Don't know what that will be, but I gotta do it soon!

I have not posted since we went on vacation. Man was it incredible. The Tang Niner worked flawlessly. Colorado never disappoints. New Mexico was not as good, if I were to do the vacation over I would hit New Mexico first. Colorado is like a giant spoiler for XC riding, very similar to Whistler in the DH arena.

The other vacation to Utah was awesome as well. Big bikes are big fun!

So this weekend I have my first DH race since the horrible race at Fontana where I crashed with wreckless abandon. I am going to try a more conservative approach this weekend. We will see where that gets me...