Monday, February 23, 2009

Hard Week

So I had a pretty tough week all around last week.

Taxes, work, training... STRESS!

No big deal. Life goes on.

Training is going okay. I am not where I should be speed wise due to time off, and it is pretty discouraging when Allison passes me on a climb. I keep thinking that if I can't go faster than her up a hill that there is no way I will be able to compete with the Cat1 men...

In any case I have been training hard and despite the setbacks I am easily in the best shape of my life.

Thursday night we got our Team Weins kits.

I had set up the camera and sprinted to get over there, looks like I was trying to snuggle up with poor Luke! :)

Saturday's training ride was good and hard. I was stoked to finally get to do the route that I have been daydreaming about for a long time! The views on this route are stellar!

It is so hard to get the camera out and snap a pic when you are going hard on a training ride!

We stopped when we got to 74 and took a break.

Sunday we did a fast ride at Daley Ranch with Coach Zippy. It was fun and fast and then I crashed. Dumb Justin.

Then we went to see the start of the ToC in RB. I got Floyd to sign two ToC golden jerseys from 2006 (the year he won).

When we finished up there we headed over to Lake Hodges. We were pretty spent and Allison was quite surly...

I was enjoying myself, but I also hadn't had two solid weeks of Build.

After the ride we went and caught the end of the ToC in Escondido. Allison snapped some photos. I am a much bigger fan of Christian Van de Velde now. He told me he really liked my Division 26 shirt when we asked if we could get a photo of him with Allison.

After the finish we jetted over to Chipotle to get some grub and see what riders showed up for the meet and greet. Tyler Farrar was very friendly and down to earth. We got a Chipotle shirt signed by the guys and then headed home...

So now we have a regen week with the first big race of the year this weekend. Should be fun. I hope I don't come in last!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hangin on for dear life...

Today we headed out for a loop on Rice and Couser. It was a beautiful day. I was a bit over dressed for the weather, I was really stoked that my Deflect jacket converts to a vest!

The ride was a tough one for me. I found that more often than not I was sucking Allison's wheel, almost desperate to stay in contact. I didn't want to ruin her workout by falling off the back and making her wait for me!!

Like I said the weather was great and it was awesome being out with the wife for a ride.

There was one hitch. We had been on the road for 50+ miles and were coming back through Temecula to get home. We safely crossed a few lanes of traffic to turn left down Jefferson (headed East on Winchester after riding past the Intense factory) and cruised up to the red light. We had just seen a guy in a mini van blast through the red light, he was frustrated because he had to slow down momentarily when we crossed the lanes to get to the left turn lane. A guy in a Jaguar pulls up and rolls down his window and proceeds to tell me that I should be using the cross walk to cross the street. I calmly explained to him that he is indeed not correct, that cyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road just like a motor vehicle and that it is his responsibility to drive safely. This fat slob then proceeds to start railing me about how I am unsafe, I am going to cause an accident, I almost killed someone... The conversation ended when the light for us turned green and I said I was sorry but he is full of shit.

It left me frustrated and sad that the people of our community are so crappy. Allison and I laughed at the notion of us "killing people in their cars" and joked that it was not us but the people in cars text messaging and smoking and drinking coffee all at the same time that kill people.

Not far down the street we saw another guy in a BMW laying on his horn because an old lady was driving too slow for his liking. He had been held up for less than 5 seconds!

Please everyone, take a deep breath, ease up on the people around you. Sure lots of people are stressed from the financial crap (lots of people are suffering that shouldn't be, the irresponsible people's problems are now mine too!) but there is no excuse for treating other people like this for basically no reason at all. Go outside and get some fresh air tomorrow. Life is short. Stop effing up and live it instead of being jerks. I mean really, it was VALENTINES DAY!

Live, Life, Love... RIDE!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Not really back...

I can't tell you how nice it was to ride my bike with the wife last night!

We took off after work to go climb ITT for our Thursday Night Ride. We expected cold and tried to prepare...

We started out and at first I wasn't really feeling it. My legs were slow to get going after a week and a half of no riding. Allison started up the first pitch and I verbalized my weakness by telling her to have a good ride and get her training in.

I fully expected to have her drop the hammer and leave me, but my legs started to come alive and the roles were reversed! Soon I was a ways out front and cruising up the hill. Man it felt so fabulous to be back on the bike!

At this point I must qualify that statement. I am not really back. My left arm is really useless. I can't really control my bike the way I am used to, and every little bump could send me into tears... so yeah I am NOT back.

Around 3/4 of the way to Main Divide we started seeing patches of snow. By the time we got to the top we occasionally saw patches of dirt! It was really cold (Allison's little thermometer read in the low 20's!) up at the top.

We put on every item of clothing we had with us and turned around to ride back down. The descent was pretty brutal. We were cold, our hands and feet were totally frozen, and I was descending like a pansy. It seemed to take forever for us to get to the bottom but eventually we did. I was very grateful to have the heater in the truck to warm up with!!!!!!!

Since my arm is in such bad shape I will try to restrict my riding to the road bike, but last night really brought home to me how much I truly appreciate riding my bike with my wife. I had hoped to see what I could do in Cat1 XC this year but am not really worried about that anymore. I just want to be able to ride with her, share her training and watch her race. I am proud of her. She is graceful and beautiful on a bike...


Before we start you can see the majestic Santa Ana's to the West.

The ride starts with an easy spin up the road, it was very welcome to get a chance to re-acquaint myself with my bike.

I am really stoked on my new Specialized Deflect Jacket/Vest.

As we climbed, the sun descended...

Allison wore the backpack loaded with extra clothes which we hoped would help us guard against the cold night on the way back down.

Nothing like a nice ride with the wife... this picture doesn't show how bitter cold it was. We were fairly warm still from the climbing effort.

You can see the silhouette of Santiago Peak in the distance. It was almost two weeks ago that I was descending from there and hurt my shoulder on Upper Holy Jim.

Riding on the snow was fun. It was really nice and crusty, the ice crystals crunched as we pedaled along and our tires stayed on top of the snow for the most part. It was a little slick in a few spots. Allison teased me that her Specialized Sworks Captain was awesome and my Kenda Small Block 8 sucked.

The gate at the top of ITT was closed. We stopped just long enough to warm our hands and don our extra gear for the descent.

'Till next time, ride on!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Enjoying the down time?

On occasion things at work get slow and when they do it is inevitable for someone to tell you, "Enjoy the down time!"

I hate hearing that phrase, but it captures what my weekend was like.

Saturday we headed up to SRC for a little racing action. Allison needs all the wet weather racing she can get to prepare her for stuff she might see at Sea Otter.

The new bike got a little wet on the way there, but it is a mountain bike after all right?

The last few races have had a couple girls in Cat1 (or is it Expert? VV!) and we hoped that there would be some talent for Allison to measure her fitness.

On the line the girls look fast even standing still!

Allison and I have been discussing race strategy and tactics for her to use this year. After being beat last year at Sea Otter by a superior tactition, we are hoping that we have learned some lessons. Allison was holding true to her tactics that we discussed on the first single track section...

It was really tough to see the awesome conditions and not be racing myself. I figured since I was out there I might as well make the most of it and shoot some pictures of the racing action!

So I am walking around taking pics and what do I see?

Jon is a pro DH racer!! Nice to see I am not the only DH racer that likes to hit up the XC action. I might have a shot at beating the kid in XC, but can only dream of being as fast as him in DH!

While some racers were out shooting for their best personal time, or just having a blast in the perfect conditions, there was a very serious battle taking place in the Pro race. Robert Herber was sucking wheel like Cadel Evans (and I shouted that at him as he went by!)

It is cool to see the tactics play out amongst such incredible atheletes. These guys were really moving!

Not far back from the battle taking place between the top Pro men was Krista Park. She was lighting the course on fire! I have to say that after watching her pump the terrain and attack the course, Allison has some ground to make up before she can hang with the top US Pro women. I have my work cut out for me! (Anyone know of a good pump track in Temecula?)

I really enjoyed watching some of our race buddies ripping up the course. Taking some pictures may be as close as I can get to the action for quite some time...

Of course I was anxiously awaiting the Expert (or Cat1) women to see where Allison was.

She came through in first on lap one. What happened to the tactics?? Oh well, that is my girl. As she rode by she yelled out something about not wanting to be behind anyone on the single track. I guess since she descends pretty good it isn't a bad idea to go for a gap on the single track.

Steve came through looking like pro stripping off his matching jacket. I couldn't just let him throw that pretty jacket on the ground so I grabbed it from him and told him he better hurry because Allison was about to pass him up!!

Grrr, ready to bite the head off the competition.

Poor Steve didn't stand a chance...

Always good to see some buds out having a good time. I just couldn't help but snap photos of the action.

Our buddy Robert Herber had sucked wheel long enough and put a move in to take the lead from Eric Bierman. It is very exciting watching these guys race. They are top level atheletes and watching them duke it out is lots of fun!

Krista was still flying around the course like a woman possessed...

Abby and Nick looked super fast as well! We wound up talking to them after the race at the awards ceremony. Very cool people! I hope we get to ride with them some time...

Eddie Arnet from MBA is always out racing. Man does that Titus look sweet! Funny story about Eddie, whenever I see him I cheer for him, "Go Eddie!" and whether he is racing XC, SuperD, or even DH he yells back, "Thanks!" I am sure Eddie doesn't know who I am, but I am definitely a fan of his. He was even rocking his '08 SRC Champion jersey!

Girls! Girls! Girls! (yes I am dating myself, I grew up listening to hair bands)

After three laps I was near the finish line to watch Allison hammer home. First race on the new bike, first win of the season! Unfortunately the other girls didn't stick around for the podium shot...

Saturday was a huge success. The new bike was great, Allison was great, but I was still injured. So what to do while Allison goes on a wet training ride with Luke on San Juan Trail? Why not hike Los Pinos? :)

I have never ridden Los Pinos on my bike, so I figured I would scout out some of the trail for a future adventure and get some exercise (and try not to stress my injured shoulder). I wasn't quite sure exactly where the lower terminus of the trail was, but it wasn't too hard to find. It starts out with some stairs of all things!

On the way up the bottom of the trail the religious types from the Lazy W have taken it upon themselves to decorate the trail with signs. I started singing to myself "Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs..." but this one caught my attention and I sort of liked it.

As I hiked I thought about lots of stuff. None of it will change the world though, so I won't bother to post about it. Let it suffice to say that a day hiking in the rain by myself was starting to feel like a good thing.

The stairs were providing me with a decent workout. I was very grateful for the effort.

The trail gains altitude pretty fast and I was afforded a decent view of where I had just been...

I also could see across the valley, to where the San Juan Trail ascends the mountains. I was thinking of Allison and hoping that she was getting a good workout in despite the conditions.

Soon the stairs were no more and the steep trail took on a more natural look.

I really do like this aesthetic better, and I was daydreaming of riding down this trail on my Lenz as I hiked up. I was picking lines and riding them in my head. I guess you can take the mountain biker off of his bike, but...

So after about 3.5 miles and some text messages back and forth with the other team (the ones traveling by bike) I decided that I would stop on one of the ridgeline peaks, have a bit of hot coffee, and head back down.

YUM! So tasty and warm... A very welcome thing on a chilly rainy day in Socal.

The hike back down was great. There were even a few times that the sun poked through the clouds. Some of the bench cut on the trail looked pretty sketchy for bike riding...

Yes there is a trail there! (but you have to look hard to make it out)

Man does the ridgeline descent look like it would be a blast!

I knew that Allison and company were descending down from Cocktail Rock by now and that they would probably beat me to the truck...

So I kept moving right along. I didn't have a song in my head anymore, just lots of stuff bouncing around...

I took pause to record a little video, I thought it captured the moment for me.

Untitled from Justin Mann on Vimeo

As I descended I thought of how trails converge and diverge and how that was a good analogy for things in life. How sometimes you can see other trails from the one you are on. Lots of good stuff to think about as I saw the physical reality to the metaphor.

On the way back down after so much introspection, some of the signs that the preacher folk put up took on a different light for me.

I had a good little solo hike. Yeah I would have rather been on my bike, but I had fun and the time alone was nice. Near the bottom the rain started coming down pretty good but it didn't dampen my spirits any. I was having a great day!

There were even some North Shore style skinnies for me to enjoy as I criss crossed the stream in the bottom of the canyon.

I was really anxious to get back to the truck though. I wanted to see how Allison's ride had gone. I really missed not spending the time with her, I miss riding with her. It is kind of crazy how much riding bikes has brought to our lives.

As the truck came into sight through the trees Allison spotted my bright garb and came running to greet me! Damn is she CUTE!

I am sure very few people are paying any attention to this post this far down so I will end it here. I would like to say that being injured sucks, but you just gotta make the best of it. I actually had a great weekend despite being off the bike! As the Dr. said to me not that long ago, "Sometimes life just hands you a shit sandwich." I am doing my best to eat mine with a smile.