Monday, January 26, 2009

The day after.

What do you do the day after riding your mountain bike for almost 92 miles?

You go out and ride your mountain bike some more!

I was pretty sore, especially my legs, arms, neck, and lower back... but I chased Allison and Luke around for an hour and 15 minutes. Of course I had no problems buzzing their back tires on the descents, climbs were another story. My HR wasn't responding to efforts at all and my legs were more like low grade ground beef than Grade A Prime Steaks.

I was super stoked to see Allison riding her new bike. I am really looking forward to seeing what she can do on that bike when she gets into Build Phase. I might have to step up my own training to keep up!

I had the camera so that I could take a few pictures of Allison on the new bike. When I got dropped on a (very slight incline) climb I turned the camera on myself in Sonya Looney fashion! Here are the results. :) No I am no where near as hot as she is.

What does one consume on a weekend like this? Lets see, In-N-Out Double Double with Grilled Onions, Pizza and Stout at BJ's... not such a good weekend for me nutritionally. :)

Thanks to Luke and Charessa for joining us on Sunday!!!!!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Harder than imagined.

So I have completed my first 12hr race. I actually struggle with saying I "completed it". I didn't meet my goal of 12 laps, and I quit when I still could have done at least one more lap.

The week before this race was horrible. I couldn't have had more stress from more angles. Work, wife, life... you name it. Allison had overtrained and was in beesh mode through Tuesday. Work was really hectic all week with a bunch of stress from a project and I was on my feet more than usual machining parts and running around. On top of that preparation was hard because I needed to get the bikes ready, but we rode them Thursday night leaving only Friday night for prep. I put a lot of pressure on myself to have the bikes in perfect shape for races.

Friday evening after work we checked in and set up our EZ Up and table. I went to work on the bikes and Allison did the majority of the packing. We got to bed around maybe 10:30pm.

Saturday morning we were up before the sun, eating and packing the truck. We arrived at Vail sometime around 7am. I was really stoked that more than one person helped us schlep our stuff from the parking lot to our canopy. It was a long walk and we had a hard day ahead of us. After carrying all the crap I was already tired! Once we got everything set up I did small prep tasks and waited to get my kit on till the last possible moment.

When we rode over to line up I decided I didn't want to be at the back of the pack. I slid forward in the crowd, then spotted Luke and slid farther forward. :) Luckily no one got pissy with me for crowding in. Then the race started, I hit the start button on my Garmin and tried to stay calm. Luke was going fast so I tried to hold onto him. All of lap one went something like this. I kept telling myself that I was going too hard, but then either someone was right in front of me and I would feel compelled to draft or pass, or someone would be right behind me and I would want to hold position. I got to ride with Mary for a little bit which was cool. Every time I looked ahead a ways I would see Luke and think that it was cool that I was holding steady relative to him.

I also noted that there was a guy in my class with giant Pearl Izumi letters on his back. He was climbing strong, but I would pull away on the descents. For the first three laps we would swap positions at least 4 times. I hope he did well in the race, I am sure if he held that pace he was on the podium.

The first three laps went by really fast. Every time I would pull into the pits Luke was just pulling out. Things were going well for me.

Lap 4 things took a bad turn.

I was going strong and really enjoying the descents and passing lots of other riders on the DH sections. Then on the Ridgeline descent I pinch flatted the rear tire. I thought, "shit... no I can take care of this and get going quick. not a major problem."


I replace the tube and start inflating with my one and only CO2 that I had with me. I had used probably half of the CO2 when I discovered that the tire had popped off the bead on the other side (the one I wasn't paying attention to) and the tube was in danger of going pop. I quickly deflated the tube (only carried one per lap) and re-seated the bead. I emptied the rest of my only CO2 into the tire to find that I had maybe 20psi in the tire.

There was no way I could finish this lap without flatting again with that little pressure. Now things were bad. I started asking people passing me for a CO2. Most didn't stop. When Jens came along he stopped and offered his CO2, but it didn't fit my inflator! Sorry for holding you up Jens, but thanks bro. The next rider along was a girl I had met in the shuttle line at Fontana. She stopped too and offered a CO2, again it didn't fit. I was getting desperate though and this stop was nearing 10 minutes so I asked to use her inflator. She gave it to me and I was unfamiliar with the way it worked. I was trying to get it to work and nothing, nothing... The CO2 that was in it had been spent! So she gave me her other cartridge and I loaded it and filled my tire. I didn't get her name but want to thank her and tell her that I owe her big time!!!!!

Back on track. I finished the descent and caught the girl near the bottom. I rode with her for a while and we chatted. She was the only girl on a 4 man team so I joked that I would look out for the 3 angry guys that wanted to beat me up for slowing down their team mate. :)

I was kind of pissed that I had lost so much time with a flat. I decided that if I worked hard I could maybe get back to where I should be. I kept thinking of getting to the "pointy end of the race". I thought of the race as a spear and I wanted to be closer to the front than the back.

I almost left the pits without a new tube and TWO CO2 cartridges, but grabbed them and was off. Lap 5 was going good. I was still turning a decent pace and felt pretty strong. I was passing some people and being passed by some, but it seemed that nobody around me was going my pace. It was strange this feeling of being in no-man's land. I had fallen back from the leaders, and guessed that I was ahead of the slower riders. I didn't get to ride with anyone around my speed.

On Ridgeline I was descending strong and thinking about making up time from the flat tire the lap before. At the bottom of Ridgeline the trail makes a right hand turn onto a fire road and I was blazing down the trail. I missed my line and went a bit wide and slightly into the grass. I don't know if there was something in the grass, or if I had damaged my tube farther up and it waited to let go with the stress of a hard corner, but as I leaned the bike through that corner I heard the all too familiar hiss of air rushing out of my back tire. I screamed, "FUCK NOT AGAIN!"

I was close enough to the aid station that I rolled over to it and started working on my tire. Jason Ranoa's dad was there and he said he heard me yelling. I was quite litterally deflated, in more ways than one. I asked if he had a floor pump but he didn't. This fix went much smoother than the last but I did burn both my CO2s and lost probably another 5 minutes or so.

Once I got rolling again I struggled. Mentally I was broken. Physically I was feeling crappy. I had expected to have Allison pass me but she never did. I would have been really happy for her company. I knew then and there that my race was over and that I wouldn't be able to get near the front after two flats. It was very depressing. I wanted to quit, but remembering Allison's blog post earlier in the week I resolved to not give up. Manns are not quitters.

Lap 6 I forgot to get a new tube and CO2. I realized this part way up the Marine Corps climb. I decided that I had to dial it back on the DH sections. I was afraid if I flatted without a way to fix it, I would totally break. I decided to make up for it by rallying on the easier portions. I was cranking hard and decided that I was out of the race, but was now just racing myself, my own demons in my head. I would put in hard efforts on slight inclines or declines to make up for slowing down on the high speed descents.

Then I started cramping. The first cramps came on the steep sections of Bridges and came back every time I put in a hard effort.

Lap 7 the cramps were moving all around on my quads, on the bright side I remembered to get a tube and CO2s. I was thinking that sooner or later more of the muscle was going to cramp than I would be able to work through. The cramps seemed to only hit localized spots though and I would will myself to work through it and keep pedaling.

Lap 7 marked another milestone. I got off and walked up a steep pitch for the first time. I hate walking my bike. For the first 6 laps I managed to not dab on course at all. Not once. I was proud of that and it was about all I had. When this happened it was like a spear had found a chink in my armor. My cramps seemed to get worse when I walked. My spirits were low, but I kept telling myself that Allison wouldn't quit.

When I came into the pits Allison was off her bike and getting changed. She had quit. I knew when I saw her standing in the pits that I wouldn't make my goal of 12 laps. I needed something to lean on mentally.

I stopped briefly in the pits and then headed out. I checked in at the finish line and then straddled my bike and started pedaling. I couldn't get my left foot in the pedal. As I rode past a few friends they were heckling me to start pedaling. I was laughing because I wanted to pedal but couldn't get my damn foot clipped in. Finally I rolled to a stop across from our pit area and got off the bike. What I saw was that my XTR pedal had grenaded. Awesome. Never had that problem with Crank Brothers. I walked my bike over to the pits and Luke donated his pedal to me from his bike. I was stoked to have it, thanks Luke!

On Lap 8 I decided that Allison quitting was a good thing for her. What I could lean on was the fact that she didn't quit in June or November. She had endured then, and I could endure now.

I was being passed more often. My pace had slowed down to a crawl. My HR was no longer responding to hard efforts. My legs were responding to hard efforts though, with streaks of cramps! I was walking up steep spots with regularity. I was no longer hydrating properly, or eating much on course.

Before I went out on Lap 9 Luke and Allison put my light on my bike for me. Night riding is sort of a novel thing for us. We ride at Vail at night one night a week. I am at ease with riding at night. Once it got dark on Lap 9 I decided that the novelty of night riding was over rated. I was sloppy on the bike and things were jumping out at me. I just wanted it all to end. Interestingly enough I stopped cramping for the most part.

When I got back to the pits after Lap 9 I told Allison I was only doing one more. I was broken. At this point there was still around 3 hours left to race. I was pussing out.

Lap 10 was the absolute worst. It was the first time I didn't make it up the steep hill across from the pit area. I was broken and riding by myself. I walked a lot more than before. I knew it was my last lap and that I was quitting early. I was giving up. Several times in the lap I thought that I could maybe just go out for one more. I had plenty of time. Even if I walked most of the course I had enough time. I was hurting though. The waves of cramps had given way to a horrible ache in my shoulders and neck. My legs hurt horribly and seemed to stop responding. My chest felt like I could no longer take a full breath. My arms were shaky and I was afraid they weren't going to hold up to another Ridgeline descent.

On the climb up Ambulance I caught up with Troy. He was broken as well and was finishing his 8th and final lap. For the first time I rode with someone else for more than a minute or two. It was nice to talk to someone on course. When we got to the top of Tunnel I let another rider pass before descending. I immediately found that it was a mistake because I was riding his rear wheel the whole way. It sucked to not rail my favorite portion of the course on the last lap. On the way up Vicks I caught up with a pair of women that were finishing up as well. They were on lap 7 or 8 and were totally done. I chatted with them some. It was nice to have people to talk to.

When I got to BMX I caught another solo rider. I decided that my race was over but that I could beat this one guy to the finish line. It would be a tiny victory for me. I dug deep. I pedaled hard. Tucked down behind my bars I was racing again. It was invigorating to have something to race for after so many laps of just beating myself up for the sake of beating myself up. It was close. I was right behind him through the jumps. Around the berm under the tree I was riding in his dust. When we hit the asphault I shifted to my big ring and tucked down. I could feel the gap closing. Turning left off the asphault I was right on him. I hit all my shift points and was on his wheel when we came off the sand and onto the grass. I shifted again and powered past him through the pits. I beat him to the line.

It was a small victory and he probably went out for another lap, but I had had enough and shut off my light and my Garmin. Allison met me at the finish line. It probably took me 45 minutes to change.

Much respect to those that compete in these events successfully. I wouldn't call what I did successful, but I learned some things and through experiencing it have a different perspective. From now on I will be happy to be the pit bitch and do my best to support the real endurance riders.

Some thoughts during the race:

-The people that invented packaging need to go back to the drawing board. The evil that is done to an endurance racer via packaging is horrible. Someone please make edible packaging. Thanks.

-Every now and then when suffering up a climb I would think to myself, "It has been a long time since I got lapped by Tinker." That guy is not human.

-A DH racer on a HT XC bike does not make a good Endurance racer. Especially if you throw in a few fast chunky descents for him to break parts and flat tires on.

-If you think a tire is too wimpy it probably is. I should have stuck with some decent meats on the bike.

-No matter how fast you descend you cannot win an endurance race without climbing fast, for a really effing long time, without slowing down.

-Quitting isn't the worst part. The day after riding my MTB for 92 miles is worse.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Still not 100%

After 8 days off the bike I decided that “rest and recovery” was not going to get me any farther with this whole illness thing.

Saturday we planned to hit up an IE Bikes team ride in Palm Desert. Since Allison had an appointment with Max Performance Bike Fit on Sunday we decided to make a mini training camp weekend in the desert.

Friday night after a 30 min Z1 spin on the trainer we packed up the truck and headed to the desert. The trip out was uneventful but we stayed up later than we planned. I always have a hard time unwinding after driving like that.

Saturday morning we showed up right on time to find a bunch of team mates milling about. We got a nice surprise when we found out that Monique “Pua” Sawicki would be out with us for the day.

It was a perfect day for a nice long ride. We put in 96 miles.

Some of the road surfaces were a little less than ideal, and I had brand new shorts on that I am not sure about yet, which left me a little raw on the posterior.

Other than that the day went very smoothly.

The views were spectacular (the entire women’s team had assembled for the ride) and the geology of the desert always makes a nice backdrop. ;)

Sunday the two of us put in some excellent Z2 work. The area around Palm Desert is just so perfect for base training.

After a quick 36 miles we headed over to meet up with Mike and get Allison fitted.

I feel that the money spent on the fitting was well worth it. Mike not only performed a very thorough fit, he also ran some power and efficiency tests on her.

Using the data from the tests and her physiology he gave some suggestions on how to improve.

So being sick didn’t seem to slow me down much over the weekend. I don’t really FEEL sick, but my nose is continuously hemorrhaging snot with a little blood in it and in the morning I have lots of multi-colored blobs coming from my facial orifices. I guess I will give it another few days and then head back to the doctor if things don’t get better.

It looks like next weekend’s plans have changed significantly. Allison and I will both be doing solo efforts at the 12 hrs of Temecula. We both love riding at Vail and look forward to a great event! Since it will be my first solo 12 hrs attempt I will be riding pretty conservatively. I don’t expect to place well, but I will be having some fun out there!

We have a sticker, but no green grips yet. :(

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cool news, not so cool news.

Bad news first. I am still sick. I am okay with being sick for one more day, and then I think I am going to really freak out.

Since I am sick I feel it is my duty to suck up some bandwidth on the interweb, so on to the good news (good news keeps my post from being all "downer cow").

Allison picked up another sponsor! So now the list goes something like: Ergon, SRAM, Scrub Components, IE Bikes, and Division26. Since I am a major benefactor of anyone that helps Allison's racing, I figured I could post a little about each sponsor and what they mean to me.

I will do so in the order that they enter my cranium.

IE Bikes is the closest bike shop to our home. We have purchased almost every one of Allison's bikes there (and mine too). Honestly Allison probably belongs in a Specialized commercial with her stable and that is in large part due to the fact that Matt is a Specialized dealer. IE Bikes is a great full service shop that deals in everything from BMX to tricked out Tri bikes. Without the help of Matt, Allison would likely not have been able to get such an incredible race steed as her Sworks Epic.

Ergon makes those awesome grips that relieve the hand and arm pain that Allison experiences with regular grips. This year she will get to use "Team Green" Ergon grips on her race bike and she is very stoked about it. Allison has used Ergon grips since before she started racing and they have helped her keep control of her bike and her hand pain for some heinous endurance stuff as well as XC racing. I don't get to ride with "Team Green" grips but it means that I don't have to listen to her complain about pain in her hands and maybe I will get to hang out with Jeff Kerkove or his hot girlfriend Sonya Looney some time.

One of the sponsorships that I am most excited about is SRAM. Since I do all the wrenching on the bikes it helps to have the best components out there and I personally think that means having SRAM components. Nearly every bike in our stable has Avid brakes, SRAM drivetrains, and RockShox forks. Not because we were sponsored, because we weren't before now, but because they make top notch stuff. Needless to say I am really happy that Allison is going to be representing on their grassroots program.

The latest addition to her sponsor list for '09 is Scrub Components. We have yet to receive their brake products, but I am very excited about them! I know a bit about engineering materials and I think that they are onto something big. It is very important to me that Allison's bike be light and durable and I am anxious to try out these rotors on her bike!

Allison carried one sponsorship over from last year with Division26 clothing. Of course they don't make stuff that she wears during races, but when she is done battling with the other women on course she likes to throw on her Division26 apparel while she waits to step onto the podium.

She is also hoping to continue representing for Crank Brothers , a sponsorship she had last year, but we have not finalized the details. Regardless of whether or not she is sponsored by them she will be using their pedals because she likes the way they work and I like the simplicity and weight!

We are training hard (at least she is, I hope to join her if I can get healthy) and looking forward to a great 2009 season so stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sick and Sidelined

Being sick sucks. I guess I am grateful that my sickness happens to coincide with Allison's regen week. I miss out on less awesome rides that way!

I have been doing some research and found some cool new products. Since it appears that Stans No-Tubes isn't making AL rotors anymore, the metal matrix rotors at are the next best thing. As a mechanical engineer it is nice to see yet another aerospace technology leak over to mountain biking. I bet they are using Ceramet from Carpenter Technologies. There was a Formula SAE team that was sponsored by Carpenter that used this stuff liberally on their car. It gave them such a huge weight advantage that the next year a rule was instituted for a "maximum value" for the cars. With the cost of Ceramet and the amount that they used, the car was worth a fortune!

In any case I hope to get a set of those rotors for Allison's "Pimp Bike 09".

I have done a lot of examining of the bike and there are a few more places for me to cut weight, but nothing dramatic. I am going to see if I can obtain a second FD so that I can mill some weight off one without disassembling the bike.

I need to borrow a good scale and get a weight on the bike. It is pretty light right now. The tires aren't the lightest and the bike is under 22lbs with pedals.

According to her blog, the suspension works great. I am looking forward to the first race in about 6 weeks to see how the two of them perform. Lets hope she has some competition in Expert since USA Cycling denied her access to the Pro ranks. (those bastards!)

On the training front, things are going really well. I am down to 165lbs and would be doing better IF I WASN'T SICK! Allison is doing great and sticking to her regimen. I have put together a training analysis tool in Excel to track a bunch of parameters as she trains. Hopefully it helps us make changes for the future when we can connect the dots between training and race performance. It would be totally awesome to have power numbers to plug in there, but funding for a Powertap just isn't in the account. :(

So nice that while I am sick I can still geek out on training stuff and bike parts...

Monday, January 12, 2009


So being sick took me out of the action all weekend. Allison is still going strong so it makes it doubly tough to not be out training.

I didn't even get to go on the maiden ride of the Sworks. :( So sad.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ridin and Wrenchin

So life has been pretty hectic.

I have been working (duh), analyzing piles of training data, riding, and wrenching on Allison's new race bike.

Is it just me or does it seem like I shouldn't be having to spend a ton of time wrenching on a brand new bike out of the box? The cool thing is that the bike is wicked light, and feels mega fast.

Some things still need changed/modified before she can race it, but at 22lbs with pedals and bottle cage I am very happy.

The suspension is amazing on this thing. The range of adjustablity on the "Brain" is huge, from full on plush to rigid. I think having suspension that locks when it should and opens up when you hit stuff should make it easier on Allison to just worry about pedaling hard and killing the competition. I also hope that having some cush helps her go as fast as the HT crowd. We will see how it all works out.

Special thanks to Matt and IE Bikes for helping us out! IE Bikes is a great little shop and if you have the opportunity, stop in and say "Hi" to Matt and his gang. Make sure you give Ben, the tattoo'd kid, some solid harassment.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Lately I have been such an E-slacker, but I have been riding the shit out of my bikes!

Since my last post I have put in just over 30hrs of saddle time. No Luke, if you are reading this, Allison didn't do all of that with me. :)


Rode a 3/4 century that included descending to Borrego Springs and climbing back out Montezuma Grade. That was quite a day.

Rode ITT-Trabuco-Holy Jim and beat the hell out of myself.

Rode SJT twice, had a blast, and cleaned the Matterhorn for the first time.

Spent some time with my family (mom and sister)!

So I am feeling really strong and 2009 is off to a great start. Hope everyone else is having a great start to their year as well!