Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm not complaining...

Just saying.

Can anyone explain to me why it is that when I feel I am reaching new heights in physical fitness I seem to always wind up with a new ache or pain? It really is bothersome.

The knee is still not 100%, it is quite painful to crouch down or kneel and it still feels a bit "loose" when moving about. I don't know if it is related or not, but now my Achilles on the same leg is inflamed, swollen, and painful. I hate taking pills and just did a Vitamin I regimen for the knee, so I am not going to do more of that. I so wanted a nice race at Mt. SAC, as redemption for the last couple of races, and now it looks like I will be plagued with pain. I am most worried about that horrid hike-a-bike and how my Achilles is going to feel on that section. On the bright side it is hard to imagine it being much worse than the cramps I suffered through on the last lap last year. I am so displeased.

On a positive note, this week has been nice with a hard effort on the lunch ride on Tuesday, and a nice easy ride yesterday at lunch. Best of all, tonight is the night I look forward to all week, I get to play in the dirt. So Happy It's Thursday! I will try to restrain myself this evening though, I really don't want to aggravate my injuries more.

As though I didn't already complain enough in this post...

My manager is trying to ruin my Thursday happiness. He scheduled a meeting until 4:30pm today. I usually try to leave between 4 and 4:15 so that we can get over to the trail head by 5pm. CRAPPY!! Doesn't he know that I won't be any good in a "Brainstorming" meeting when my brain is occupied with images of lizards and kangaroo rats scurrying in front of my HID? meh.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Weekend recap

Saturday we ventured south and east to go ride Noble Canyon (plus some other trails). It has been quite a while since we rode there which sucks because it is a fabulous place to ride. Luke rode down with us in The Max and we met up with Alex at the trailhead.

We had the pleasant surprise of running into Mark in the parking lot. He is really a great guy to ride with, and he is a great companion on road trips as well. We also saw Steve who is less of a fan of us than we are of him. No worries here though. I don’t spend any time worrying about the haters. 

I wish my Lunchbox was in good working order, but it isn’t so this was the maiden voyage for my XC race bike on Noble. I had previously ridden the SIR9 with 80 and 100mm of travel so I had an idea of what I was in for. The AIR9 with 80mm of travel would never be the first bike I would choose for this ride, in fact riding it was a bad idea as you will find out shortly.

The day was pretty much perfect. Trail conditions were great compared to Idyllwild. In all honesty Socal really needs rain, but all things considered the trails in and around Noble were quite nice. At first I was taking my time and chatting with Mark but when we hit the asphalt climb I poured on some coal to see how the motor would respond. The pedals ticked over quickly the whole way up. I was first to the tree so I dropped back down past Allison and then climbed the top section again with her.

Shortly after this is where my day started to go awry.

On the descent towards Indian Creek Trail my bottle popped out of the cage. My King cages have never failed me before. This was a first and now I will be nervous during races! I didn’t notice the missing bottle, but luckily Allison saw it and picked it up.

As we started climbing up Indian Creek I noticed a strange sensation, it seemed like maybe my cleat was moving around a lot on the pedal. I made a mental note to check it out at the top of the climb, but things went pear shaped before I got there. Just after clearing a rocky section the trail kicked up and I turned up the pedal pressure… SNAP! My left crank arm popped free and rotated. WTF?!?! So after some time screwing around it turns out that the bolt that holds the left crank arm on my new XTR cranks had worked free and now I had sheared off a portion of the splines. Major bummer. I got it all back together (good enough for now) and finished off the climb.

At the top we all regrouped and then started down “Pinball”. I took up the last spot, dumb move. I wound up flatting near the bottom. By the time I got it fixed I was quite a ways behind the rest of the group.

We refilled our water up at Penny Pines and then continued up Agua Dulce after Big Laguna. When we started down Middle Earth I rode over a rock and my butt contacted the saddle on the landing… POP!!!! My Easton EC70 seat post had snapped. Good thing most of the climbing was already out of the way! I slammed the post into the seat tube and continued on (not something that is good for my knee, but what could I do?).

Now it was time for some quality descending. We headed down Noble Canyon and the fun meter was pegged. I stopped to chat with a rider that had taken a hard fall and hurt his arm. He was looking for a bail out and I gave him directions. Back to pegging the fun meter until…
Yeah you guessed it, another pinch flat for me. Good thing I had three spare tubes with me!

Descending Noble Canyon is a blast especially when you add the challenge of doing it on a little bike. I didn’t have any further problems descending. The straw that broke the camel’s back happened while climbing. I was climbing up Organ Donor and was right near the top when I managed to get my front tire hung up and my weight all wrong. I went over the bars (yes you read that right, OTB on a CLIMB). Granted Organ Donor is pretty chunky and technical, but I wasn’t expecting to crash going uphill! In the tumble I managed to put a big gouge in the lowers of my pretty white Fox F29 fork, and bent the RD hanger enough to put my RD into the spokes. CRAP!

For the rest of the ride I didn’t push my luck. I kept the pedal pressure light and walked the uphills. I still managed to ride the steep switchback and Stairway to Hell, but bailed out shortly afterward to ride down the asphalt to the parking lot. I wanted to ride Whore and Extra Credit, but they are always there for next time.

After completing the ride we were cleaning up and I talked to the riding partner of the guy who had fallen and hurt his arm. He didn’t have a key to the car so I drove up the road and picked up his fallen friend. They were both very thankful, I just figured after the day I had I needed to try and get some good Karma!

Sunday Allison and I rode at Daley Ranch. It was a great ride and I was so proud to see her clean Cardiac and all the other really steep pitches.

What a great weekend of riding with the wife and friends. This is what life is all about!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lights, Trails, Action?

Last night was a typical Thursday night. The bikes were on the truck and we rolled from work headed to Vail for our rendezvous with Luke and some dusty fire roads and single track.

We arrived in the parking lot and started to prepare for the ride. I was feverishly mounting lights and batteries on the bikes. We were getting dressed and hurrying around. After a bit of time Allison went to take her bike off the rack and asked me to get the keys to open the lock.

The keys weren’t in the door of the truck. Uh oh. They weren’t in the middle compartment. Increasing concern. They weren’t in the back seat. On the verge of panic. They weren’t in the gear bags. Panic sets in.

When did I have them last? Did I leave them on the bumper (I had done this and destroyed a set of keys two years ago on our way to a training ride)? Are they gone for good? That cluster of keys is so important! It has my only set of keys for the Utah house, for our home, for the mailbox, for my mom’s house… AND FOR THE LOCK TO GET THE DAMN BIKES OFF THE TRUCK!

So after cursing myself for a minute, we leave to drive across town and see if dumb Justin has lost the keys for good, or if they are simply sitting in some innocuous location at home.

Don’t worry faithful readers, all was not lost. The keys were indeed left in the garage and what would have been a horrible night, turned out to just be an inconvenient delay in our evening ride.

So when we finally made it back over to start our ride the lights were required. We turned them on and headed out to get a bit of riding in before Luke had to head home (he had been riding for quite a while already).

Allison found that she was really struggling with her vision. It seems that although she can get around during the day, and ride quite well under well lit conditions, at night she becomes the female equivalent to Mr. Magoo.

I was riding with a single HID, she was riding with an HID plus a Halogen. Her pace while descending was pretty painful so when we dropped Luke off at the cars to head out on solo lap I swapped my HID with Allison’s Halogen. This swap seemed to help some, but she still wasn’t feeling comfortable so we didn’t ride the race course and stuck to mostly fire road. I am concerned though, I don’t think we can do much better than the two HID setup for night time racing.

In any case, I was having a blast out there! I was going fast uphill and down when riding with the HID, and then after dropping Luke off decided that I would ride with the Halogen off as much as possible. It was great fun! Allison had the equivalent of the Sun shining in front of her, so even with my light off I could still see pretty well. I felt really good and it had been a long time since we rode after dark. It was a beautiful night and I had a fabulous ride! You just can’t beat mountain biking with good friends.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weekday Road Riding

This has been a pretty good week so far! I often take Mondays off, this week was no different. A recovery day after a bunch of mountain biking on the weekend is a good thing.

Tuesday I did a nice easy lunch ride with the wife and one of the guys from work. The pace was very casual as I held back and chatted with George. Actually, to be completely honest, he wasn’t chatting so much as gasping. Today he told me that his brain didn’t process most of what I said due to oxygen debt. In any case, I was at conversational pace. It was a nice ride, the weather was great. I do wish that our air quality would pick up. The smog has been kind of nasty lately.

Today I decided that Allison and I would ride the same route but I would hit it hard. I went all in a few times and was left waiting for Allison at the top of every climb. My legs feel strong and my cardiovascular system was keeping up nicely. Just another beautiful day in Socal.

I have been debating whether or not I should race Mt. SAC. I really want to go race and test my fitness, Bonelli was such a huge disappointment. At the same I don’t want to spend the money on the entry fee. Money isn’t super tight for us right now, but every bit I save is money that can be put toward Allison’s “XC Assault ‘09”. I think maybe I will just go and drink a beer and cheer for her. I need to get used to doing that!

So Happy It’s Thursday tomorrow! Looking forward to using the lights!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Long day, just what the doctor ordered!

“You can't always get what you want,
no you can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes,
you just might find,
you get what you need.”

-The Rolling Stones

Sunday we started riding nice and early. Brian, Luke, Allison and I set out from Hurkey Creek campground for a long day in the saddle.

As it turns out, Dave Turner was doing a demo day and was setting up his wares as we took off. I stopped to say “Hi” on our way out of the parking lot.

The route:
We rode up Keen Camp, through the Meadow, up the fire road to Buena Vista, down that all the way to the crappy HAB, up to Lower Southridge, up that to May Valley Road, down Sunset Trail, up to Ernie Maxwell, out and back on that, up to “Cherry on the Top”, down Southridge, down Snake Skin, up to Tres Hombres, down that, down the 24hr course and back to the cars.

So the totals for the day were around 30 miles and 4500ft of climbing. I have to say that I am totally wiped out from chasing the two skinny guys all day. Luke and Brian are both over 20lbs lighter than I am and trying to keep up with them on the climbs really takes a toll on me.

I tried for most of the day to push my pace and hold onto their wheels, but more often than not I wound up in no-manns land between them and Allison.

I did notice that all the climbs seemed shorter than the last time I rode them. That is a good thing, as I figure it reflects directly on my fitness level.

The trails were in horrible shape. There has apparently been a ton of horse traffic, and nearly every trail up there has had the trail tread pulverized into deep sand. The added difficulty of riding in 4” deep sand all day is an inconvenience, the real tragedy is that the sand makes it impossible to ride the fun technical stuff while climbing.

I managed to ride a few things, but was saddened at the shape of the trails. It seems that without some rain, a Pugsley will be the bike of choice for the trails up there.

While out riding we did have one major problem. On Lower Southridge there was a fallen pine tree across the trail. As we started to pick our way through the broken branches we realized there were horses on the other side.

I guess the horsemen had decided that since a tree had fallen in the trail they were going to blaze a new trail around it. They set about cutting a huge swath for their beasts of burden through a forest of living Manzanita. Seeing as how the huge group (more than 20 horses) was blocking the single track, we were forced to stand and watch as they hacked and sawed through living Manzanita trees. Finally after standing around for 10 or 15 minutes the horses stomped through the new path and we were able to move on.

It crazes me to think of the irony, the fact that people on horses have so many more legal places to ride in the designated “Wilderness” areas, yet their impact on the environment is so much more severe.

In any case, I got exactly what I needed. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vail preview and Items for sale...

Today we did around 20 miles in the dirt. It was great getting out there with some friends! Luke, Zippy, and Eric joined Allison and I for two laps of the 12hr of Temecula course and some extra credit stuff at the end. Allison is trying hard to tune back up for another solo attempt. She doesn't have the volume of training for this one that she had for the last one. I know she can rock it though, I just hope she figures out that she can!

It was a bit hot out there, but all in all I felt great on the bike. I was really railing on a few sections. I haven't felt that in tune with my bike for a while. Those moments when you really get in the flow are pretty special!

My knee didn't hurt too much, although this evening it has been a little uncomfortable.

I love riding my mountain bike. Tomorrow will be a long day in the saddle with good friends. I am looking forward to it! Maybe I will bring along the camera for a change, my blog could really use some nice pics!

By the way, if you know anyone that needs an Intense Socom, a Camelbak, or any R/C stuff check out my stuff that I have posted on Ebay. I need to sell this stuff off to help pay for Allison's 2009 race bike.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vitamin I to the rescue!

So the other day I was discussing my knee problem with one of the mega atheletes here at work. He informed me that his regimen to work through pain similar to what I have been having is to take three Ibuprofen three times a day.

I guess that to maximize the anti-inflamatory response that is the necessary dosage. So I set about taking the pills. If you know anything about me, I hate taking pills. I dislike most things like that: doctor visits, vitamins, bandages, medication. It seems to me that humans evolved without such things, therefore I don't need them.

We will see how this all turns out. The pain in my knee is gone due to the Vitamin I. On last night's ride I went hard on the first lap. I stayed on Luke's wheel for the entire first climb. He wasn't feeling too hot and a few times I thought about passing him, but I was getting a good enough workout. On the second lap I just rode with Allison so the pace was much more human.

This morning the knee didn't hurt, despite yesterday's efforts. Good stuff. Hopefully in a week or so I will be able to stop taking the Vitamin I and have my knee be good as new!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


So Monday, after a good ride on Sunday, my knee felt crappy again. It felt so good to go on that ride. My legs have that familiar feel to them, I know I worked hard, but my knee hurts when I flex/extend my leg. Monday night I tried to ride after work but pulled the plug prematurely. Yesterday I didn't even try, I just set about working in the garage and doing the things I couldn't do when my knee was hurting worse. Did I mention I hate not being able to ride?

So next year it just so happens that the race I felt would be the most important race of the year for me, conflicts with the race that Allison felt would be one of the most important for her. I have been wanting to race Downieville for two years now, Allison thinks she can really tear it up at the Marathon Nationals. I think her racing priority trumps mine. I don't think it matters much that she would probably really kick butt at D-ville, the Marathon Nationals is on the USAC calendar. On the bright side Marathon Nationals is in Colorado. I really love Colorado. Also it is doubtful that we would actually be able to sign up for the All Mountain at D-ville since it fills up in like .5 seconds. Maybe next year...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Feel the burn!

Last night my buddy talked me into doing a road ride with the Cal Pools team this morning. I was aprehensive because of my lack of riding and recent injuries, but Brian and I have always had a "healthy competitive" relationship and it wasn't hard for him to talk me into it. My knee had hurt pretty good yesterday on my solo flat ride so I made arrangements with the spousal unit pick me up if I had to bail out mid-ride.

The temps this morning were really low, when we started riding I think it was down around 40F. I had selected the right clothing thankfully, but it was still really cold.

My knee held out fine despite the fact that the ride had some pretty crazy hills. According to my Garmin we had a few climbs around the 15% range and a few descents that neared 20%. It was really great riding with new people and seeing some new places. The route was awesome and went through some really great rural roads and even a few orchards. I am glad for the Garmin though, I would never be able to find the route again without having the GPS!

Riding in a pack like that makes me pretty uncomfortable. I think I have decent bike handling skills, but it is unnerving to rely on others to make the right decisions. Twice during the ride people in front hit the brakes without warning and I was okay, but people behind me nearly crashed into me despite the fact that I yelled "Brakes".

Despite my lack of fitness I was able to hang on or near the front which was pretty nice. This isn't to say that there weren't guys in the group that could have dropped me in a heartbeat, but they didn't so that was good!

I returned home expecting Allison to be icing her knee, I come in the house and hear the whirring of the trainer! She had the trainer set up in front of the TV so she could spin while watching football. Crazy girl. There is no stopping her. What an animal. If she stays healthy this winter next year will be very interesting!

Friday, October 10, 2008


The wife and I sitting on the couch, both of us with ice on our knees. Last night's ride definitely left my knee more sore today. Maybe I can get a few miles this weekend, but there will be no big rides.

If you see something on the news about an athelete couple in Murrieta that strangled each other for no apparent reason, it isn't only my fault. We both need to be heavily sedated to be this inactive!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Good and Bad.

Oh man, the joy of being back on my bike was overwhelming! It was great to go out and ride with a few friends, no matter how slow my knee forced me to ride. I did test it a little and it let me know that I shouldn't be testing it! Anyway the ride was short and slow, but it was great to be out there.

In life there are many times where bad news accompanies good news.

Allison had a horrible high speed crash tonight. She managed to not break any bones, but has very big areas of abrasion, a big knot on her head, both of her knees are probably as bad as my knee, and various other aches and pains (I am sure they will be worse tomorrow). According to her GPS log she was traveling around 28mph when she crashed, the high speed crash was the result of picking a bad line at speed and hitting a few large loose rocks on a fairly easy fire road descent. She laughed it off by saying that she "was due for a good crash". I am proud of her as she pedaled all the way back to the truck and never shed a single tear, TOUGHNESS. Man I hate to see her hurt so bad.

Good news and bad news. Life goes on.

Time off the bike.

So I have not been on the bike at all since I messed up my knee last weekend. In some respects I probably needed some time off the bike, at the same time I would have preferred to be more mobile to get other stuff done. I have forced myself to sit and watch TV with ice on my knee, so the spousal unit has been doing intervals on the trainer. It may sound crazy, but even the whirring of the trainer in the next room makes me wish I was DOING something... even if that something is as sucky as riding on a damned trainer!

Today I saw this quote from a VeloNews interview with Tyler Hamilton:

"... Your friends are your friends, and your acquaintances are your acquaintances ... A lot of acquaintances are there in the good times, and not there in the bad times, but you know, that’s normal, that’s life. I’m not bitter about it, and I’m not bitter towards anyone, but tomorrow I’m probably not going to be going to dinner with them, either."

I consider myself lucky to have a few friends. It is interesting to note that it is often the stupid things in life (like a drunken joke, for instance) that causes someone to dislike you. While your friends either don't care or will laugh at what you did in a 3 minute window while intoxicated on vacation, your acquaintances might act like it's some huge scandal. Add to that the fact that often people make dumb assumptions based on second hand information and some silly thing can really snowball! I would be willing to bet that the individuals who are the best at blowing up and pointing out someone elses mistake have themselves made much bigger mistakes (especially when intoxicated!).

You know what the coolest thing is though? All that crap, all the lame people, all the stupid problems, it all goes away when I am out there on my bike. The things that really matter come to the forefront and the joy, the freedom, of riding my bike is all that matters. It is like pressing the reset button. So cool.

Fuck the haters! They can suck it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Injured reserve...

Yesterday's race was not so good. I wound up breaking my chain and smashing my knee up on the first lap and took my first DNF. Plain old bad luck has struck me twice in the past two races. Hopefully this cloud will now go away and hang over someone else.

My right knee is trashed. As if the fall on the road bike last week wasn't bad enough (twisted knee, ligament pain, bruising, road rash) with damage to the outside of the knee, yesterday's chain snappage damaged the other side. The point of impact on the fork crown was just to the inside of the kneecap for maximum soft tissue damage. Last night my knee was ubber swollen even after icing it. Luckily it didn't need stitches, I hate those damn waiting rooms. Scraping a chunk of flesh off the adjuster on the top of the fork crown is now one of my least favorite pieces of bike maintenance.

So I will be off the bike for a few days. It totally sucks not being able to ride. Things that normally frustrate me become unbearable, people that bother me suddenly look like punching bags. Hopefully I will be able to ride later this week. More frustration, I could have used time off the bike to clean the garage. It really needs it as I have not re-organized since we returned from Colorado! Unfortunately I can't even do that. Knee and back injuries can now be classified as worse than shoulder or arm injuries in my book.

To try and distract me from the agony that is not riding, I checked into the viewers of my blog. I was quite surprised at who was checking it out. For those of you that don't know much about the interweb, the service that gives me that neat little counter at the bottom of the page also records a bunch of data. It records the IP address of those that are viewing the page, where they came from, where they went afterward, where they live(or work if you view from work), their ISP, what operating system they are using, their screen resolution, how many times a day they look at the page, etc. Anyway, I was surprised to see who was following my adventures. Enjoy! ;)

Maybe I will go through all our pictures later and find some of my favorite shots to post up. I am hoping to talk the spousal unit into going to the movies (we have free tickets) but neither of us care much for the aggravation. Just need to waste time till I can ride again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Not 100% but not bad!

So today on our mountain bike ride I went pretty hard on the climbs, it is really nice to have someone fast to try to keep up with! It had been far too long since I had gone on a ride with anyone other than the spousal unit. I push myself pretty hard when I ride alone, but nothing is quite like that competitive spark to drive me to dig a little deeper and today really drove that home with me.

Unfortunately I had spent most of the day standing at work and my knee was sore before the ride. After the ride my knee is pretty swollen and quite sore. My goal on Saturday is to go out and have fun, it would suck if the fun is dampened by pain eminating from my knee!


I don't normally clog up my blog posts with stuff about work but today something happened that I want to record, something to look back on.

Lately at work things have been pretty crappy. I have been coming up with good ideas and in the past year or so quite a few of them have been ripped off. Even when they aren't ripped off, others have taken credit for my success, you wouldn't believe how blatant it has been! I have run the gammut of negative thought and emotion regarding this issue, lately I have just been angry.

Today a world famous person came to our work as a key note speaker for an internal technological exposition. At this exposition one of the ideas that I had generated won someone else an award (both recognition and cash). Needless to say I was feeling pretty bitter.

So after this famous innovator gives his speech it had been arranged for me to meet with him regarding some possible collaboration between his company and ours for the project I am working on. Lots of people have glommed onto this guy, we have very high profile people following him around like love sick puppies! It is rather disgusting because this guy was talking over all their heads and they just stand there and nod and hope that somehow being close to him they will suck up some of his power. At first I was pushed into the back row of the meeting (it was taking place in a laboratory) but eventually I pushed my way through the bobble heading managers and had quite a good technical discussion of the problem with this famous inventor. In any case as the meeting is coming to a close he looks at a Director and motions toward me, "We need to get your smart people with my smart people to work out the details." For some reason having that guy acknowledge me in that way made my head spin. It was the coolest proffessional thing that has ever happened to me. Anyway, for the first time that I can remember I walked out of work with a real smile and a feeling of accomplishment, not that I don't accomplish things, but that someone acknoledged me for excellence in my field. In any case, it felt great. Then I went out and rode my mountain bike. Can't beat that for a good day!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Testing, One, Two...

Tonight I decided I wanted to know if my knee would hold up for the race this weekend. Went on a nice 1 hr. flat ride but stood up and hammered a little to see how everything would hold up. Other than a little soreness I think I will be fine. My plans for the week as far as rides is all messed up, but tomorrow we do the last dirt ride before the race. Should be fun, this will be the first ride we bring lights on in a long time!

Wish me luck!