Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mannimal's Memorial Weekend Wrapup

I can tell you one thing for sure, I was dying for a free day off work! Our holiday calendar is void of days off before Memorial Day and it sucks!

I have been feeling really good lately though and am stoked to be back to Build, beating myself up and working hard on the bike is painful yet gratifying. I have to appologize in advance for a distinct lack of photos. Between hard training and enjoying the company of great friends we managed to neglect our digital cameras...

Saturday morning we hit up a hard lap at Daley Ranch. It was a really beautiful day with perfect temps and great trail conditions. We were joined by Steph and Dan and I have to say again that it is great having them out there with us! I have been helping Steph with her training and she is making big gains in speed and endurance. It is really cool seeing her tear it up, and on a 30 lbs. AM bike no less! Allison is also doing great and on the climbs that suited her she definitely stayed right on my wheel. Considering that I don't think I have slowed down any, that means she is FAST! After ripping the first lap to shreds Allison and Steph did an organized ride with some other women that was organized by Shalyn Gates. Shalyn has been really tearing things up on the local endurance scene lately, winning the Julian Death March and finishing right behind some of the fast Pro women at Idylwild Spring Challenge, she also finished right behind Allison in both of her 12hrs of Temecula wins last year. While they were tooling about, Dan and I did some more hard climbing and took a few of the faster women for a quick loop on the North side of the park. It was a great day of riding!

After the ride we drove out to Palm Desert and I cooked up a nice dinner on the BBQ. I BBQ'd veggies and then the salmon while Allison and company made a big pot of quinoa inside. YUMM!


Sunday morning we got up a little later and the four of us piled into the Max for a quick drive up to Hurkey Creek. The plan was for Allison and I to do race pace laps while Steph did a bunch of endurance pace stuff in preparation for 12hrs. The weather was once again perfect, the trails were a tad sandy/loose which is fine by me! Unfortunately it appeared others had been struggling a bit as there were many corners that had been blown out by riders that overcooked 'em. The first lap was an endurance paced lap to warm up with Steph and Dan, and Allison snapped a couple of photos...

Sporting the always fashionable Wiens Winery jersey...

On the second lap I rode Allison's wheel. I was hoping that my presence would help her push her own pace. It was a pretty fast lap at around 44 minutes or so. Unfortunately in the process of trying to help her out my communication caused her some frustration, so on lap 3 I decided to run my own race pace lap. I dropped her early on the Keen Camp climb and never looked back turning a sub 43 minute lap. After the hard effort I was pretty tapped out and when Allison said she was going to go easy I thought it sounded pretty good! I think we were in the low 50 minute range but I had waited for a while for her to catch up a few times. When we got back to the truck I took off my jersey and HR strap and downed my portion of our recovery drink before Steph announced she was going out on lap 5 and wanted some company... Of course I cannot refuse some bonus goater! Out we went for lap 5. I took it nice and easy and just rode Steph's wheel. Riding her wheel seemed to do the trick because her 5th lap was her fastest of the day! So stoked that her pacing is that good that she didn't slow down at all and had plenty left in the tank!

After the ride it was back to Palm Desert for another BBQ session. Everybody loves my meat!

I had put in a really hard weekend of work, so I enjoyed a Midas Touch while I was grilling the burgers. That brew is just so perfect! Dinner was great and we are very thankfull for our hosts Susan and Tom for making all of us feel at home! Thanks!

Monday was so relaxing! I think I can let the photos describe the action for me...


Monday, May 18, 2009

Base with the Mannimals

After all the racing in March and April we felt like taking a bit of a break, but it seemed imprudent to do so with big races in June and July so instead of time off the bike we decided to work on some aerobic base fitness.

So with that in mind we set out for some long days in the saddle and maximized the time by riding with friends (which we hadn't ridden with in a long time due to training requirements).

Last Saturday we rode Noble...

So much fun! It was an amazing day!

I hadn't ridden my Lenz in a long time. It had sat in pieces in the garage due to my frustration with the fork. Lack of options on longer travel 29er forks really reduces this bike's appeal.

It was a lot of fun to play on some obstacles and challenge myself technically again. I don't do that often on the Sworks HT, on that bike it is all about picking the fastest, smoothest lines.

Although I don't have many pictures of me riding on logs and rocks and stuff, I do have a picture just after one of my crashes. Since I haven't been challenging myself technically I seem to have gone quite a long ways toward perfecting the art of crashing...

No worries though, a few crashes can't deter me from having fun!

On Sunday we were riding the Double Traverse on Palomar and I was glad! My body was feeling the effects of the previous day's crashes and the crappy Lenz derailer hanger was bent and causing shifting issues. I really need to get one made out of steel or something, the aluminum is soft like butter and is poorly designed with a huge stress riser and very little support. Maxle on the rear is good, hanger design not so good.

Palomar is a great climb and it was a beautiful day. Steph and Dan got a head start on us at the bottom as we headed up to South Grade.

But it all came together for a short period before Allison went off the front.

Allison was kind enough to stand around at the top and take a picture of my KOM sprint.

After refilling our water bottles we headed down the East Grade and then U-turned to climb back up. East Grade starts out steeper and then levels off some.

I spend a lot of time looking at this view, but can you blame me?? :)

I put in some hard efforts on the second trip up the mountain so I figured I earned myself a brownie and some milk. SO GOOD!!!

Just a quick break between weekends, but I felt it necessary to mention that it was National Bike to Work week and we participated on Friday.

So what does one do to follow that up? Another great weekend!!!!!

This past weekend we hit up a great ride on SART. I used my derailer hanger straightener on the Lenz so that I could ride it again. I am actually leaning toward using this bike in Downieville. I just can't justify building another bike and since the Canzo is trash it would cost a bunch of money to get a new frame up and running. At first I had some hope of someone offering up a "one race" sponsorship where I would race their bike and write about the experience but it doesn't look like it is going to work out.

The bugs were out on the climbs, but I have a very effective way of combating that...

It was a spectacular day though!

There were quite a few downed trees across the trail, but it was a great day for a long ride with good friends. Everyone rode really strong!

Due to some uncertainty for the coming months of training and racing it was decided that we would set aside the XTR drivetrain that came on my Sworks HT as spares while they are still fairly fresh. Luckily we had the funds earlier this year to purchase some SRAM components and I was able to slap those on my bike.

I also went by Rock N Road and bought a sweet new handlebar.

I didn't quite like the way my trusty Ergon grips felt with the gripshift so I am trying out the ESI Chunky grips with them.

Sunday we rode up at Cuyamaca. I wanted to try out my new setup and make sure I start getting used to the changes so I rode the Sworks.

After doing a bunch of riding on the Lenz it was quite a shock at how fast the Sworks is! It was a lot of fun blasting up hills and zipping along on the trail!

The last time we had ridden in this area was right after it burned. It is quite a lot greener now but still sad to see all the burned and dead trees. We took a group photo by a burned out tree and I am pretty sure we took a similar photo three years ago. :)

I am stoked on so many fronts right now. My fitness is great, my bike is great, life is really good! Time to rest for a few days before slamming myself with intensity in preparation for the races in June and July...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good news and bad news.

The good news is coming first.

Idyllwild Spring Challenge was awesome. I bailed out of the XC race due to illness (bronchitis) but raced the SuperD and had a blast! My race run went pretty well, slid out at the very bottom of the course but remounted and lost maybe 6 seconds. Even with one major bobble I won CAT1 30-40 and laid down the third fastest time overall. Stoked!!!

Now for the bad news.

My next big race is the Downieville All Mountain World Championships. I am super stoked to be racing the all mountain category that I have dreamed about racing for a couple years now. I will be in the best shape of my life when we get up there to race and I will be 100% ready to give it my all. There is one major snag. I don't have the right bike for the job. The ideal bike would be a 4" travel cross country race machine with beefy tires, but I don't own one (Allison will be racing on her Sworks Epic).

I don't have money in the budget to buy and build a new FS rig.

Can this really be happening?! I am entered in the perfect race, I will be in perfect shape, and I will wind up having to run either a bike that has too much travel to do well in the XC stage or a HT that will be a major detractor on the DH stage.

What to do???