Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Just a quick "Thank you" for all the people that come out and support us racing. We really appreciate the people that yell their heads off and ring bells and take photos... and all the other various things that people do at the races. Racing wouldn't be the same without the "atmosphere" that occurs when you have people cheering for their favorites, or just drinking beer and taking it all in.

As a racer I always do my best to stick around to cheer for my fellow racers, friends, and the awesome athletes that make it onto the podium. I was lucky enough to make the podium this past weekend but couldn't be there as I was doing race support for Allison while the Cat1 awards were going on.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. Racing wouldn't be the same without you!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Law of Fives...

Wow what a week! The plan was to do a mini-taper for Fontana which was a B priority race. This would provide some contrast to Bonelli where we put in a huge day the day before the race (C priority).

Tuesday I hit the monster intervals. 5 minutes at 175BPM with 5 minutes of recovery, 5 times. I hit them hard and made them count. The whole time I was visualizing my competition, reeling them in, passing them, attacking them. I think the visualization was effective, it contrasts to my usual visualization which was plagued by fear, fear of not going hard enough, not being fast enough. Positive imagery is used by top athletes, so maybe I can use it too.

Wednesday I did some speed work on the mountain bike. I went after work and climbed up Slaughterhouse and then did a loop on the trails at Santa Rosa Plateau before racing sunset back down Slaughterhouse. The purpose of this ride was to go fast on the new bike. Fast uphills, fast downhills, fast on the flats, just fast. The workout went great and I hit my goals. I was pumped up! Unfortunately Slaughterhouse is overflowing with my arch nemesis: Poison Oak. By Friday I had rashes on both arms, both legs, and other places... HORRIBLE!!!!

Thursday I did a Regen ride from work at lunch. Just an easy spin with a buddy of mine. Quite a lot different than our usual Thursday night rides hammering the hills with Bad Luck Weins, but it was what my plan called for and I needed it.

Friday we took off from work early, packed up the race bikes and headed up to Fontana for course recon. We did two laps on the course with some hard efforts and checked out all the new stuff. The course has lots of climbing in a small distance at the beginning of the lap, then descending and flats. Brutal! We picked up our race packets and my Law of Fives continued, my race number was 195!!!

Saturday the plan was to go easy, make a few hard short efforts to open up the legs, and other than that just cruise around on the bikes. As my readers already know, I had a little too much fun. Right at the end of the ride I hit a small table top at speed and on the landing my front tire blew off the rim. I slammed to the ground gashing my knee and slamming my left hip on a rock. Not good pre-race preparation. I spent most of the rest of the day Saturday icing my injuries and trying to steel my resolve to race the following day. I did manage to do full race prep on the bikes despite my knee leaking all over the place and my hip throbbing.

No that is not a tennis ball in my shorts, the swelling on my hip was really crazy! Someone informed me that the technical name is Traumatic Bursitis. I kept icing it and used a lot of direct pressure to try to get the swelling to spread out.

Sunday we got up before the sun. Allison made us hearty breakfasts and we headed to Fontana. I was moving pretty slow and took a bit of extra time to warm up before the race, then they moved our race start back by half an hour. This totally sucked, I had performed an extra long warmup already!

After warming on the trainer, switching rear wheels, getting Allison's road bike on the trainer and generally rushing about I headed over to ride the Start and Finish sections of the course. It started out uneventful, I felt strong and the bike was perfect. Coming through the finish chicane though I over-cooked the last turn (left), my damaged hip didn't swing my leg like it should (no surprise), and I slammed to the ground landing on my left side (AGAIN!?!?!). Someone was kind enough to remind me that I can't win practice. Thanks for that. :/

We lined up and were out of the gate soon afterward.

The pace at the start was frenetic. I didn't get great positioning, but people were really jostling trying to get position for the "Ladder Climb". I had a horrible first lap. My bike handling skills were just off. I was panicked and wasting energy everywhere. I dropped my bottle without getting more than a half of a sip.

Allison did a great job supporting me, as did many people on course cheering and doing what they could to support. Everyone that was there is very much appreciated. I am sorry I was too deep in my Pain Cave to give individual acknowledgements.

On the second lap I was able to settle down some. I found myself in a group of three with Umberto Castro and Matt Perry, both riders who kicked my butt at Bonelli. The three of us have different strengths and we swapped positions constantly for three laps. It was some of the best racing I have ever been a part of! At one point I had some issues and fell off the back only to catch Matt looking totally worked on the flats. As I motored by I yelled at him to tag on and I pulled him back onto Umberto. It was awesome! Although we were racing against each other, I felt that if we kept the group together I could use my "Boat Anchors" to win the finishing sprint. Unfortunately for Matt he had some cramping issues on the last lap and took what looked like a bad fall. Umberto then yeilded to me at the top of the descent, what a show of sportsmanship! He tagged onto my rear wheel and then I proceeded to take a horrible off course excursion! DAMN! Umberto descended in front and I am pretty sure Matt closed the gap. We were all very tired and I know I was sloppy. It was probably way safer to have Umberto to keep the speeds reasonable!

Once we reached the bottom of the descent I turned on the power. The "Boat Anchors" had some life left in them! I worked at making a holding a gap. On the final steep climb my legs started to cramp! I willed them to keep going. I was pumping the terrain, trying to save my legs, hoping they would last. Just before the last couple of corners I caught and passed a female rider. It was a very tense moment, I passed off in the grass just before the corner and worried about crashing or having her crash us both. On the finish straight I stood and sprinted, someone on the side said "He is going to catch you!". My right quad cramped painfully right at the finish line and I yelped loudly.

I had finished in FIFTH!!!! Ecstatic! Law of Fives comes through, prediction comes true!

No sooner did I finish my race but I was rushing to take care of Allison. Her Pro debut was a big deal and I wanted to support her to my best ability. She was already on the trainer and Ryan and Sharon were hleping her out. I went over her bike and made last minute adjustments. I wanted everything to work perfectly.

Before I knew it she was off. Due to being a brand new Pro she had to start from the back and earn every inch. These women are no joke, with National and World titles!

I sprung into action handing off bottles and taking pictures. Not the best recovery, but I couldn't have sat still if you paid me! Allison was battling with the big guns!!! I was cheering on a lot of the competitors. One of my favorites is Emily Batty. :)

When the dust had settled Allison had battled her way to 10th place. All 9 women in front of her have had National or World titles. She was about 1 minute back from Pua and half that behind Mellanie McQuaid. AWESOME!

I was very proud and very sore.

Happy Monday everyone! I am loading up on Vitamin I and preparing for more punishment. :) See you racers at Sagebrush!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Learning experience...



Lessons learned today:

1. Kenda Karma is not a good tire for Justin.

2. I need to make sure that in the future my day-before-race activity needs to ensure that I keep all my flesh attached.

Hip and knee are both pretty well trashed.

Just a guess, but I think this will have a negative impact on my race tomorrow AM... I still plan on giving it a go! :)

Best of luck to all!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fontucky Pre Ride

Just got back from Fontana. 2 laps on the course. The first climb is going to suck bad... I almost wish I had raced 'Cross to train for running with my bike and jumping back on full stride. :)

I still think the course is awesome and will make for some great racing!

My trend of five continues. My racing number 19FIVE!!!!!

That is right. 195. Good omen? Only time will tell!

Good luck racers!!!!!

Ride Stoke...

It might be a slow week in blog land... mostly because everyone is flying on the DL before the first BIG race.

If you are anything like me, it is nice to get a good ride stoke going while at work on Friday before a big race weekend and today cyclingdirt.org is hooking me up! Awesome race coverage and cool interviews with people like Emily Batty!!! Check it out and get your stoke on!

Happy weekend and good luck!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A day of fives...

Sometimes things seem to fall into place a certain way. Today was one of those days, and a day of fives.

Five trips up the hill.

Five minutes each trip.

Heart rate of 175 plus or minus 2.5 beats per minute.

Five minutes of recovery between each trip up.

Recovery heart rate target of 125.

Times I puked in my mouth, 1.5 :)

I wonder what my prediction is for this weekend... :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Doubt no more...

This weekend went well.

Saturday I was bummed that they seem to have lowered Palomar Mtn. for the pro peleton and forgot to put it back afterward. :)

Today I got the new whip dirty, really dirty, as in like covered in mud. Don't worry though, it didn't hinder the performance. This bike is a freaking rocket.

One week. The anxiety is building already...

Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The power of self doubt...

I don't know if other athletes are like me (I think I can consider myself an athlete now). When I am on regen week it kills me. I want to get out and feel the speed, I want to work hard. I think most of all I fear going slow. I fear not having my legs respond.

I know, it is necessary to let the body heal. It is necessary to go slow, to go easy. I am new to this stuff, but try to be fairly well educated. I understand the science, the principles. Regen, recovery, it has to happen.

I also understand that psychology plays a HUGE role in sports. My performance is directly related to my brain's capacity to endure. Not only that, but the central nervous system is responsible for many more things in the body... all the mind over matter stuff and hormones.

Here is where things get harder, my fears are mostly warranted. I am pretty new to XC racing yet I find myself squared up against serious competition in CAT 1. In DH racing I could fake it, ride over my head, pedal my brains out for a short sprint. In XC racing there is no faking it. It is daunting for me to imagine that three years ago I weighed more than two or three of my competitors combined!

So now to the title. Does the self doubt during regen hurt the athlete? Would regen work better for me if I put in a few efforts to remind myself that I can still go fast, but am going slow for a REASON? That I won't have to worry about not being able to go hard, to go fast after a week of holding back...

I guess if it were easy to be an athlete, to train hard, to go fast, that everyone would do it. I am stoked at where I am, even if I can't hang with the big dogs.

Life is good. Gotta keep my head up and don't let the self doubt bring me down!

Happy weekend! (Wish me luck on unleashing the legs and suffering!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wasted and Ready?

This title is fitting for several reasons, but it is stolen.

We just finished Build 2 and that warrants the WASTED. READY refers to the process of sharpening the weapon in preparation for battle, I copied Allison and had Mike fit me on Sworks Lite.

Now that the title is explained, I would like to expound on it. Wasted is a relative term that seems to be redefined often in our household. Previously when I felt like I was "wasted" from an effort I felt tired or beat down. What happened last week was a different animal all together!

Allison and I both pushed ourselves a little too hard and wound up flailing... We were not hitting the mark on our workouts and worse we were at each other's throats! Thankfully we were both able to sit down and figure out what was going on and we have learned a whole bunch. We have a few very knowledgable people around us and I am very appreciative of their input and assistance!

How did it all go down? Thursday night things came to a head. We were out on our typical Thursday night ride and Luke had just broken off to head home. Allison and I had already had some friction about training details and some other stuff. We started climbing up a gradual double track and I decided to cruise with Allison and chat about things. By the top of the climb we were both yelling at each other and I decided to call it a night. You see we were both not acting rationally. The stress level had risen too high. At the time I blamed it all on Allison, but that was unwarranted and I too was over stressed. When we got home instead of sitting down and relaxing I made matters worse for myself by taking off on my Niner and doing a solo ride.

I realized I was over-cooked on Friday's regen ride. We had already determined that Allison was over-cooked so we were looking at the "Last Chance Workout" for Build 2 and wondering what to do. We decided to try to stick to our plan for the weekend.

Saturday, after not getting enough rest or sleep and driving too much, I had my bike fit done. Allison covered the details of the process in her blog post, suffice it to say that Mike is very thorough and he makes sure the fit is good.

After being fitted I picked up Allison and we headed out to get some time in on the race bikes. We climbed up from Cathedral City to Dunn Rd. when Allison noticed a "clunking" when she pedaled. At first I was frustrated, she had just dropped the chain off the inside of her cassette and we were stopping and the workout wasn't going well, and then I realized that her cranks were loose! I was really stoked that she noticed before the splines were damaged any more!!

We went back to the truck to fix the issue and then decided to go for a "redo".

The second time around things went better. It was getting hot and I put both my efforts and my temper in check.

The fire road climb is uneventful, but there are some decent views along the way.

Looking back at these photos I realize that we are really pretty damn lucky to have these conditions to train in! We climbed up to "The Art Smith Trail" trail head and took some photos.

And with my razor sharp weapon front and center...

Then we hit up the Hahn Buena Vista Trail for some single track goodness!

I am still getting used to the new whip...

Climbing is different due to wheel diameter and geometry, something else I am getting used to...

Somewhere the ride changed from a failed attempt at training to a fun outing on the race bikes. The single track took our minds off training goals and we started enjoying the day!

By the end of the ride we were tapped out and it was time to get indoors out of the sun and prepare for the next day's ride!

Sunday we did a 50+ mile ride from Palm Dessert to Palm Springs, up to the Tramway, then back to Palm Dessert. I felt horrible at the start but once I warmed up everything fell into place.

The climb was tough but I got up it pretty quickly. Allison was surprisingly close behind.

Once up top we took a few photos...

and then flew back down the hill.

The descent was a little hairy with the crosswind and speeds (we were doing over 40mph with over 20mph crosswinds) but we made it down safely and then rode back. As soon as we got back I hit the shower and the foam roller!

Basically what this all boils down to is that we are now on a much deserved (and thankfully, appropriately scheduled) regen week.

Also something to note is that I got a chance to weigh the new bike.

Pretty light huh? It will soon be under 19lbs! So excited!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What’s going on?!

So I posted a spy shot and have not had a chance to update since. The new bike arrived, it didn’t get here in time for the Bonelli race but that is okay. I don’t know if everyone goes through the same thing with new bikes (specifically race bikes, I am sure everyone feels the excitement!) but I wind up tearing the bike down to the frame and then going through every little piece. I am pretty meticulous about this process and I think it gives good results but it takes a lot of time.

So while all of this is going on we are also working and training which is why I haven’t had a spare minute to post anything more than the teaser shot!

Last weeks training went pretty well. The week started out as usual with Monday off, then Tuesday and Wednesday’s hard workouts. Thursday I was feeling pretty good but Allison bonked hard on the ride and we called it early. The poor girl just needs to figure out how to eat more. (She has since bonked on another ride and we are working on her nutrition to get things squared away.)

Saturday we wouldn’t be participating in the VQ or CC which is a break from the last two years. Both of the last two years saw me coaxing Allison forward toward the finish line (it certainly wouldn’t be like that any more!) but we decided that this year things were going to be more focused (if you haven’t figured it out yet, that means XC racing). This focus has brought new heights to both our fitness levels and we have learned so much… I do miss DH racing but with any luck it will still be there when I get the Gravity itch.

In any case since we weren’t participating Allison came up with a plan to cheer for some of our friends while we got a training ride in. It worked out awesome! We climbed up SJT and then up to Trabuco. We stopped at Bluejay to snap a shot of us in our new Lucca kits. :)

After seeing the second place rider pass by we traversed Main Divide over to the top of WHT.

On the way there we saw Slater who was absolutely DESTROYING the course. That guy is crazy fast (he better be with muscles bulging everywhere and veins sticking out!). We hung out up top and cheered for the riders. Luke came through looking very fresh and definitely looked like he was just out for a Saturday ride which is crazy considering he was in the top 20 or so riders in an event like this. Way to go Luke! We hiked down a little ways on the trail to snap some photos and cheer.

The view of the peak was great. I longed for a telescope to see the riders coming down but settled for a nice pose from the wife.

We got to see our buddy Mark Scheetz cranking along happily. Although Allison was anxious to get back to our training ride I convinced her to wait a bit longer to cheer on our co-worker Bruce Wilson. He wasn’t having such a good day but I ran after him TdF style in hopes of motivating him.

After he went by we jumped on the bikes and rode back down to SJT and back to the truck. Climbing is cool and all, but I really live for the descents!

Technical climbing is also something I really embrace. Too bad you don't get bonus time in a XC race for not dabbing. :)

I even disrupted my own "flow" on one of my favorite descents to snap a few shots of the wife! :)

Who says I can't be an engineer AND and artist!? :)

Post ride we figured since we were already in the OC we would run some errands. We went to Rock ‘N’ Road and I got a new jersey along with some smaller items. They have a really nice shop and atmosphere there. We then traveled over to The Path to say “Hi” and I picked up some grips for my new steed (pictures to follow). I was starving so we drove down the street to Chipotle and I happily destroyed a burrito.

(Avoid the bonk!)

REI was next on our hit list and we managed to spend way more than our annual dividend (no surprise!).

Sunday we rode a really hard route through the local hills on the road bikes.

It was cold in the morning so even though I wanted to show off my new jersey (that I absolutely LOVE) I was sporting my new Specialized Deflect Jacket/Vest (it is convertible which makes it versatile - LOVE IT!)

Before too long we got to the goods! STEEP!!!!


Here is a shot of my LRF WC jersey. :)

Onto the really good stuff that you have all been waiting for!!!!!

The new bike was ready to go and the time change has provided us with an opportunity to ride after work so who could refuse?

Hope we never get rear ended...

The bike was 19.5 lbs out of the box without pedals, I am not sure what it weighs now but it is LIGHT and FAST.

The Brain fork works great. I am still tweaking the settings but even without being fully dialed in it works awesome.

The frame is extremely stiff. No flex in this puppy. When I stand up this thing ACCELERATES. I am sure that the new wheels are also part of this equation as they are quite stiff for being so light (we will see about durability!)

The handling is quite crisp on this thing. I can certainly see how it might amplify any mistakes made due to fatigue or inattention. I am still working out tire selection, pressures, the detail stuff.

One thing that stands out in my mind is that the 26” wheels seem to be much more prone to problems in sand. Washing out in a corner or slugging through deep sand in a straight line is definitely not a strong point of 26ers.

I feel that it bears mentioning again that this bike is LIGHT! When in the air it is like not even having a bike under me. The same effort to do a small whip on the 29er yields a “Whoa did I do THAT!” on this bike.

The overall impression so far is that this bike does everything faster, tighter, quicker than my Niner. On the other hand those that know me and my riding are wondering what the hell I am thinking with a full carbon frame. I don’t have an answer to that except that I am hoping to tone down my riding a bit for many reasons. I can’t place well in a race if I am getting flats because I was having too much fun.

Bottom line is time will tell, but this bike seems to be the ultimate weapon for me to do battle with the likes of James. Hopefully I can come up with the goods and pass him on course saying something like, “Your skinny ass isn’t going so fast today!” (Lets be real folks, this only happens in my dreams.)

Happy weekend!