Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Santa Ynez quick update...

Best finish of the year so far from Santa Ynez with a 4th place. The race was interesting in that it was my first race where I had a poor first lap and then came around and moved up in subsequent laps. The last lap was great with a massive battle for 4th place between three of us. Tons of attacks and passing and the whole time I expected my legs to completely lock up. They never did though, and earned 4th place within the final 200 meters or so! Very exciting racing!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sea Otter XC Craziness...

Wow, today I am back at work and can't believe I have been gone for 5 days. Did I even sleep???

We changed plans at the last minute and took all of Thursday off work. The original plan was to work at least a half day, but I was up wrenching on bikes 'till well after midnight on Wednesday and wanted to get some sleep instead of having to wake up mega early to drive from Santa Barbara to Monterey on Friday AM.

Thursday morning we got up and packed the truck and got rolling. We stopped in at Rock N' Road on the way out and picked up a few items. Great shop! After that we wound up caravaning most of the way with the Assistant Manager, Chuck. The traffic was horrible and it was great to drive behind him and drool on his beautiful bikes! (super sick V-10 and Roubaix Sworks). After what seemed like an eternity we arrived at Laguna Seca and just made it in time to check in. We were stoked to be there! We then proceeded to hook up with Nancy, Roger, Chuck and Mark for dinner. I ate too much! Allison and I had to drive back from Monterey to Salinas for the night so we hit the road. Our hotel in Salinas was pretty nice and I slept pretty good.

Friday we got up and ate some breakfast at the hotel before heading out. I will interrupt my story here and say that the people with trailers and support save themselves a ton of work every day by not having to cart their bikes and gear up stairs and stuff every day. I am super jealous! :) After strapping all four bikes on the back of The Max we headed over to the venue. We got a great parking spot in the paddock and then started exploring. Our plan was to check out the vendor area 'till the Pro rider's meeting and then hit up our pre-ride. That plan didn't work out in our favor. We spent too much time rolling around and enjoying all the great people and products! Our pre-ride started much later than we wanted, but it was very enjoyable as we rode with Mrs. Turner. It was great chatting and snapping pics of both of my "girls" on the ride. We finished up later than planned. After the ride we headed out to dinner with Nancy, Roger and Chuck again. It was a great time!

Saturday we decided that it would be nice to spend more time meeting people and rolling around at the venue. The Sho-Air guys welcomed us with open arms and invited us to store some of our gear at their incredible RV for race day. We were very happy to have a "Base Camp" at the venue! I did have my work cut out for me though. After getting a short workout in and riding around by the start and finish of the race course I had to prep the bikes. I set up a pit area in the parking lot by the heli-pad and went to work. With my sandwich in one hand and a wrech and rag in the other I made sure both our bikes were in perfect race condition. It takes time, but it is very much worth it to me to make sure everything is perfect for race day. I wrench for a pro racer now, no messing around!!!! Once the bikes were squared away I took Allison back to the hotel, she made our bottles and helped organize food for the day while I went through gear bags and set up number plates and stuff. I then loaded the road bikes (for warm up) and all the gear into the truck and took them back to the venue. It was tough to transport all that stuff from the parking lot to the RV, but well worth the effort so that we didn't have to stress about it on race day! Another note, I am very jealous of all the people that get special parking. Being able to park close and not lug your crap for miles has to save a bunch of energy! Sam J. helped me stow the gear, what a great guy he is!!! After taking care of the gear it was off to dinner. Allison and I hit up a great little resturant on the warf before heading back to the hotel and sacking out.

Sunday it was go time. We were both up around 5am and making breakfast. We were out of the room with the race bikes by 6am and I was ready to warm up some time shortly after 7am. I got on the trainer and instantly started sweating bullets! It was going to be a rough day! After my warmup I headed over and spun around with the boys some. Chatted with Matt and Umberto a bit and then we were off to the line. I was well positioned at the start and just tried to conserve. The pace was really fast after we hit the dirt. I made a small mistake at the start of the first single track, it is a tricky corner, but had caught back onto the tail end of the lead group well before the bottom. I knew the pace was too high to sustain in the heat but figured that everyone would fade some and that I would maybe fade less...

On the first sandy descent I got onto a really bumpy line and my only bottle ejected from the cage. I decided that I would pick up a bottle at the nuetral feed station and it would be fine. Matt and I were working together and holding a great pace. When we were coming up on the nuetral feed I emptied a gel into my mouth anticipating some much needed hydration. I was also looking for Ryan Weeger as I was told on the start line that he would be there with a bottle for me. As I rolled through feed I was looking for a full bottle, but all of them were mostly empty!!!! All I got was a few sips of water!!!!!! UN-Friggin-BELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!! I drank what I had and latched back onto Matt's wheel. I held on until the last climb where he started to pull away. I was suffering horribly from dehydration with almost no water in the first 19 mile lap. Allison said that I rolled through the Start/Finish feed zone looking good in 5th.

The second lap things went downhill fast. The legs were giving me signs that they weren't going to last on every climb. At the bottom of the first single track climb I sat up and went into conservation mode. Very soon afterward Trevor caught me, I said that my legs were gone and let him go around. I was still very much in the race mentally and I held onto his wheel for a bit. On a short steep climb I tried to shift to my biggest cog in the back and my chain shifted into the spokes. I must have damaged my RD when I laid my bike down to avoid running over a rider that crashed in front of me!!!! DAMN IT! I lost touch with Trevor and I am pretty sure another rider slipped by while I was fixing the chain. Not long afterward it happened again and I now could no longer use my 27T cog on the 12-27 Dura Ace cassette. BUMMER! This of course complicated things with the cramping...

Not long after the nuetral-not-going-to-give-you-hydration-feed zone I got passed by James. He gave me some encouraging words like "Lets go Mann!" and then stood up and accelerated away from me as I wimpered "Go get 'em James". I was in so much pain. I tried desperately to keep James in sight and put the final nail in that coffin on the asphalt climb. I hit the asphalt knowing it is the perfect grade for my power to weight ratio... Started pedaling and my legs completely locked. Both calves, both quads, both hamstrings. Nothing was working. Reduced to a hobbled walk while writhing in pain. I still wanted to race! I wasn't going to give up. After about 30 seconds of walking I gingerly got back on and pedaled. It was very hard and my legs were constantly cramping. I just kept moving. Things got a bit better for me but not much before the end of the race. I finished (2:58) and just wanted to curl into a ball and die. My legs were cramping so bad I could hardly get off the bike, then I couldn't do much else other than lay on the ground. Every time I tried to move a different muscle would cramp.

After about 15 minutes or so of self massage, my recovery drink, and some hydration... I started to come around. I got out of my kit and put on some regular clothes, and no sooner did I do that then I shot into action. With a sandwich in one hand I went to work on wheels and tires for the team. Once all the spare wheels were set up I looked over Allison's bike one last time and then had a little pre-race chat with her. I then packed up some small tools and about 12 bottles into my Oakley backpack and headed out for the distant feed zone. On the way there I took a wrong turn and wound up adding a bunch more miles and climbing to my already long day. (Dumb Justin!)

Life in a distant feed zone sucks. There was poison oak all over the place so I was very afraid to sit anywhere in the shade. The other guys there were mostly race mechanics and all knew each other. I recognized Emily Batty's dad and struck up a conversation with him. At one point I walked up to nuetral feed to harass the guys there about giving out mostly empty bottles, they claimed someone told them not to waste water by filling them! Eventually the guys came through and we managed to totally screw up the bottles. I couldn't identify the guys in the pack and they were flying... probably somewhere around 20mph! A while later the first women came through and there was a little gap back to Allison. Her feed went well but she hadn't been hydrating, she dropped a mostly full bottle! Then it was back to waiting. Some time later (around an hour) the guys came through again and the feed got messed up again. Sid flew past John (holding Sid's bottle) and then snapped Max's bottle from my hand right before Max got there. I felt horrible, like I had screwed up majorly... but mostly I felt horrible from my race. We waited for a while and then Manny came through, but no sign of Sam. We waited for probably another hour before finding out Sam had "broken his crank" and then we started the hard climb back out.

I was dead by the time I got back to the RV, then it was time to get the gear back into the truck and pack up. SHIT! I managed to hold myself together and get the truck packed. We rolled back to the motel and I had a snack and some beer. Before I knew it we were at the Sho-Air team dinner having fun and toasting to the excellent day of racing! It was great to be in the company of such accomplished racers! Of course I was pretty spent and after a brief stop at a Karaoke bar we headed back for some sleep.

Monday we took our time, had some breakfast in Monterey before heading down "1". It was a great drive and we stopped and had a picnic lunch by the beach. What a great way to end the weekend!

My garage is a mess and we are still unpacking, but need to get ready for this weekend's race at Santa Ynez! CRAZINESS! Lots of lessons learned this weekend.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Michael Darter Photography...

Got some pictures from a real artist that was out at Sagebrush. Amazing stuff! Visit his site at MichaelDarter.com!

It is quite humbling to note that although I occasionally snap a halfway decent photo with the digital camera, I really have no skill or talent. It is also humbling to note that someone so amazingly skilled with the camera can also out ride me on the bike any day of the week, and does the best bottle handoffs on the planet! Some people just have it all!!!! :)

Thanks Darter!!!!! You are the man!!!!! How may I serve thee? :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Training, Fueling...

I don't think I do anything else!

Saturday's plan was to pre-ride the Idyllwild Spring Challenge course. The weather put the smack down on us though. It was cold and raining (38 degrees with scattered showers/drizzle) with snow on the ground and we were frozen 1hr into the ride. It was a huge disappointment to call the ride. We were very bummed out.

Luckily I drove down to Beyond Bikes with Luke to check out their Spring event (free food and drink!), pick up his replacement for the broken Kona, and then slip in a hard workout before heading home. It was awesome! I got an opportunity to talk to Jason First (Crankbrothers) and then hammer with Luke. We were positively FLYING out there and the conditions were PERFECT! Funny, afterward we realized that I had never ridden with Luke solo. Allison was always there. I guess I ride a bit differently when she isn't around. :)

Sunday Allison and I went back to Daley Ranch for another fast paced ride before doing the BBQ thing.



and as if a Turkey Buck Burger wasn't enough...

what a great dessert!

Is it wrong that I am already on the edge of my seat anticipating Sea Otter this weekend? :)

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 10, 2009


I know, lots of people have already posted this link...

But you GOTTA check it out! Very high quality stuff! Even though I am biased (they have pics taken by Allison when we checked out Vision Quest) Jason did some really good work!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pictures and stuff...

I usually like to build my blog posts around the pictures that go with it. That didn't happen this last time, but I figured I could post some up post blog post. (redundancy, kinda like this post!)

A couple pics of my bike from the Recon Ride on Saturday with Steph and Dan...

I tried out the new Crankbrothers wheels for the first time. They worked great, and looked spectacular on my bike!

This was also the first ride with my new Oakley presription sunglasses! They are so much better than my normal glasses in so many ways!!!

We hadn't traveled very far before Dan and I decided to help the foliage with a little irrigation...

The trails were awesome! They had everything from small technical challenges to big berms and jumps! I was having a blast and it was so awesome to be riding with the Mannimals again!

Before the race started I was feeling pretty good! I rolled around the parking area looking for familiar faces, it wasn't the best venue for socializing...

If you read my previous post my race didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked, but these guys are awesome competitors and I am really glad to have them to race with!

Of course I was more than elated that Allison had pulled off a 2nd place in her 2nd race as a Pro!

(Both photos above courtesy of the great Shud, thanks for the shots man!)

After a weekend of racing I just couldn't drive past Rita's on the way home. I used to eat here all the time and have been going there since I was like 15 yrs old!!! They need to open a store in Temecula, El Cajon is too far to drive!

Now for the "stuff", Allison has worked super hard and all that hard work is materializing into great results. It seems that some people have taken notice as she is now on a new team...

I will still be representing IE Bikes and appreciate all the help that Matt has given us!

So Happy It's Thursday!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

On Safari...

OR Great weekend! Bad race for me!

Last week sucked. I was not recovering well from my injuries or my efforts at Fontana. My body still has Poison Oak all over it and my hip is quite painful.

Thursday night I rode with Luke, Allison, and Ben at Santa Rosa Plateau. After taking almost the whole week off to recover I had something to prove to myself so I put in some all out efforts. It was great to be out going fast with my friends!

Friday night was busy! Went to dinner with Allison, her dad, and a family friend from the Bay Area. I must say that Penfold's Cattle Co. has the best meat I have ever tasted. Amazing meal! After dinner I had my work cut out for me and was up past 11pm working on bikes and packing for the Safari.

Saturday morning we lagged a bit leaving the house, but made good time to meet up with Steph and Dan for a course pre-ride. It has been far too long since we last rode with them! I missed my Mannimals very very much!

The ride was awesome! The course was so much fun!

After the ride we all went to my mom's house, she doesn't live too far from the venue, and I made somewhat quick work of my bike chores before cooking dinner for everyone. Dinner was superb! We had ahi (thanks to Steph and Dan), salmon, rice, and salad. Perfect pre-race meal!

Sunday we were up and at the venue with plenty of time to check the festivities. It is awesome that Scott Tedro has put so much effort into bringing us a race series and all his hard work is surely evident! I must take pause to thank Business Darter for all he did for us! Micheal took care of our bottle handoffs while photographing the event. I am so glad that he is on my side!

Allison and I headed up the road to do our warmup and my legs were feeling the efforts from Saturday. Such is the feeling on the morning a "C priority race"...
All too soon it was time to line up and then I was watching Allison zoom off in a cloud of dust with the other Pro women.

The start of my race was pretty hectic. The guys figured since we were on asphalt that they would do roadie tactics. Silly boys. I am pretty sure that most of the guys that were throwing down attacks blew up before the top of the first climb. I kept a nice steady pace and was probably sitting in around 5th when we hit the first single track section.

I was right behind Matt Perry down the descent. We were absolutely FLYING! That is until my driveside pedal unthreaded itself and I very nearly crashed my brains out! It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened and then was running backwards on the course to find my pedal in the dirt as riders zoomed by. I assessed the damaged threads but didn't have an 8mm allen wrench... MAJOR BUMMER! I was semi successful in overcoming the resistance of the damaged threads and had the pedal half-way on when Ryan came along and saved my day! Ryan is a very selfless competitor and I greatly appreciate him sacrificing time/positions to get me rolling again!

At first when I got rolling again I was in a bit of a daze. I had all but given up on my race and was mentally not really racing anymore. As I sped downhill I reminded myself of the pact that Allison and I have, "Never give up, never quit!" I put my head down and the severity of my effort put my legs on the verge of cramping. I caught Ryan on the HAB, gave him his multi-tool back and offered to shoulder his bike for him. He refused the gesture and told me to "Go man go!" I kept a pretty solid pace and was soon faced with the massive climb over Los Pinos Mtn. I kept telling myself that I could catch back on the tail end of my AG and not be DFL. I rode for a while with John, an SS racer for Troupe. After what seemed like an eternity I crested the mountain and headed down the fire road. I soon passed a few Pro women and knew I was making good time! That is when my race ended for the second time...

I was pushing hard on the descent. Everything was clicking! I was in full BMX mode pumping and doubling up bumps. My Specialized Sworks Stumpjumper HT was on FIRE! I was passing quite a few people and came upon a group of three that obviously had a slow guy not letting people pass. I yelled up that he had three people back and needed to let everyone pass. Shortly afterward he graciously pulled aside and the pace came back up some. I was starting to think that it would be best not to pass and just stay where I was at as we were nearing the bottom of the descent when the guy at the front made some sort of mistake at very high speed.

The guy in front of me speed checked, swerved to miss the downed rider's bike and sped off. I braked hard and asked if he was alright, he replied that he was... for some reason I hesitated for an extra second and he turned to face me and said calmly, "I think I broke my arm." I had only seen one other compound fracture, but there was no mistaking that he had broken his arm!!!!

I dropped my bike and ran back to help. I made sure he could walk and then sent him walking in front of me while I pushed both bikes. Another rider came up from behind and helped to slow down traffic. Once we got to the road I looked both directions and saw a truck coming up the road through race traffic. I flagged him down and let him know what the situation was and that we needed help. The driver of the truck was extremely helpfull and we got Jeff into the back and tried to help make him comfortable. The drove off up the road in search of aid while I pedaled my bike up the hill, pushing Jeff's Kona.

Some distance up the hill the race officials had dispatched paramedics in a Rhino and they met the truck and were working on Jeff. They asked to take his bike and I was glad to no longer be riding two bikes! :) My legs were almost as toasted as my mental state after the ordeal.

I continued on and stopped for a few minutes at the Feed Zone. I was really glad I did because soon Heidi came along and gave me a new reason to be riding! I jumped in behind her on the final descent and proceeded to yell encouragement all the way to the line! It was so much fun!!!!

What a day! I was second to last in the results but feel like I had a great day. The trails were awesome and I was able to help a fallen comrade. Icing on the cake was when Allison placed 2nd in Pro Women... So cool.