Thursday, May 29, 2008

Draper ICUP Race Report

I had plans to get to the race early, get some food in me, warm up the legs, pick up my number, and not be rushed. But that didn't really happen. About mid day, a client called me from the airport stating he was in town for the day and wanted to meet at 3pm down here in Orem. After the longest 2 hour meeting of my life, I rushed him out the door and drove the 30 mins to the EQ and arrived just after 5:30.
I couldn't believe the turn out for a Wed night race (340 racers) and everyone looked fast and in shape. I felt intimidated just pulling into the parking lot.

I quickly changed into my gear which included the pink jersey and met my wife and kids who had come to support me. Rachelle is the best. It's not easy to keep 3 kids occupied for 1.5 hours and make sure they are close by but not actually on the course. I also saw a lot of my friends (I have a lot of very fast friends. More on that later). It was like a big backyard BBQ.

That feeling quickly left as soon as we lined up to start line. I found a spot in the SS class and did the leg check on everyone in my start group. I wasn't feeling super confident. SS riders are usually pretty hard core and everyone looked faster than me. I was running tubless and didn't pack a spare tube on purpose. Sometime a mechanical or flat isn't a bad thing during a race. In fact, there are times when you pray for a flat so you can end the pain.

Just after the start, I managed to position myself about mid pack. The pace was fast but not too bad. Everyone pretty much hung together until the jeep road. Adam L. and I exchanged positions a few times until he gapped me with about about 1/3 of the climb left on the 1st lap. I kept him and the main group insight as we turned off to start the Clarks downhill but was never able to close the gap. There were probably 5 or 6 SS rider behind me. I figured things would finish in this order since lap 2 was only a half lap. To my surprise, I was able to pass at least 2 other SS riders before it was all over and came in 6th or 7th. There was some confusion with the official results but they announced me in 6th place at the end. There must have been about 15 SS riders total. Mid pack sounds about right for me. I think the top 2 were Pro and a lot of Experts.

I didn't have the snap in my legs that I hoped for but overall I was pretty happy with the results. Racing is hard.

How did my friends do?

Brad K. - 1st place Expert (and on a SS)
Tony P. - 1st place Sport (35-39)
Sam (VH1) -2nd place Sport
Jamie P. - 3rd place SS
Aaron Smith - 1st place Sport (30-34)
Justin J. -4th place Sport (30-34)
Elden- 5th place Sport (40 +)
Dug - 10th place Sport (40+)
Whit 1st place
Tasha - 1st place
After that, I lost track. My friends are fast.

Monday, May 26, 2008

No Race

I didn't sleep much last night.  I was too excited/nervous about the Draper ICUP race that was scheduled for today.  Despite the wet week, I had managed to log some good road rides and felt like my legs were in good condition for race day.  

Like most cyclists, I am a weather junkie.  I check the weather several times per day online and then watch the 5 day every night.  I'm pretty sure if I ever lost my job, I could fake it as a weather man.  As it got closer to race day, I paid more attention to the forecast.  It looked like we would have temps in the mid to high 60's with scattered showers. Ideal conditions for a race.  I hate it when its too hot.  I don't do well in the heat.  

I woke up several times in the night and could hear the rain against the windows.  At times, it was coming down pretty good.  At first I was pumped.  I had registered for the SS class and a little mud didn't bother me.  I kind of looked forward to getting a little dirty.  But as the night went on, the rain didn't stop.  It got worse.  By morning, I was no longer pumped.  I knew the course would be in bad shape and the chance of racing today was slim.

I got up, checked my Blackberry and had several messages from friends.  the first message was from Dug that read "I'm not racing in this. Ick".  Sam's message was "Race? Any chance this goes off today?" And then I saw Jamie's message telling us that the race had been postponed due to too much rain.  Thanks to Jamie (and Brad P. who drove to the race site to get the update), I was able to crawl back in bed and listen the rain some more. 

Instead of MTB racing, I busted out the road bike (again) and gambled on a ride between rain showers.  I was able to climb up AF to Tibble Fork and then back up Suncrest without getting wet.  Rest day tomorrow and then a little Wed night race action.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Earlier this week I met Jamie P. and several other guys to help out with some trail maintenance in preperation for the Draper ICUP race.

The project required us to fill several wheel barrels full (or in my case, half way full) of dirt and run them up a steep pitch, around a tight corner, and up another steep pitch to a retaining wall. Dump the dirt and repeat several times.

As a cyclist, I have no upper body strength. There were several runs when I was too ambitous with the amount of dirt I thought I could carry and ended up almost pulling my Uterus (that joke never gets old) trying to clear the 1st steep pitch.

And then there was one wheel barrel that was extra big (had two wheels instead of one). Jamie tied a strap to the front of it and I would put the strap around my shoulder and run as fast as I could pulling the wheel barrel while Jamie pushed it. He only whipped me once and gave me plenty of carrots to keep me motivated.

I'm hoping karma is on my side and the trail Gods will bless me with speed and control during the Draper Race on Monday in exchange for my services.

Monday is going to be painful. Fun but very very painful.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Clarks TT

I met Dug this morning at 6:30am for a pre-work mtb ride. I had plans to take it easy and enjoy the ride, but as we dropped down to the saddle and started the climb up Jacobs, I noticed my legs felt really good. Usually that steep grunt out of the saddle is painful on a SS but this morning, I cruised right up without even trying. I started thinking that this might be the morning to try the Clarks TT. The last time I tried it was towards the end of the season last year and I posted an 11:23 or something like that.

Last week was a heavy ride week for me and then my wife went out of town so I took Sat and Sun off to hang with the kids. My legs were rested and felt very snappy.

We got the top of Jacobs and Dug started asking about the "green can" that was supposed to mark the start for the Jacob's TT. I wanted no part of this. Dug has always been much faster than me on the downhill and I knew I couldn't match his speed. But it did mean that I could now try my TT up Clarks and not feel bad about it.

Dug disappeared quickly from sight down Jacobs. It's his home court and he is one of the fastest dowhillers I know. Even on a rigid SS. It doesn't matter. He beat me by half a minute (probably more).

Clarks was next. As we approched the bridge, I got that pit in my stomach. The kind you get before a race. I knew the next 13 minutes or so was going to be painful. A quick drink, a deep breath and I was off. Dug agreed to time himself too. I was glad because having someone behind me, chasing, would help me not give up. I've started the Clarks TT many times before only to throw in the towel after a few minutes.

The first minute, I felt great. I saw Justin J. coming down the trail. He stopped to chat but I kept going. I yelled something about a TT and didn't even look back (Sorry Justin).

I've never pushed myself this hard before on a bike. I was breathing so loud that I thought anyone within a 1 mile radius could hear me. My mouth was wide open and my tongue was resting on my top tube. I wanted to stop but I knew Dug was behind me suffering just as much.
I kept waiting for the vanilla protien shake I had for breakfast to make its way up. I manged to not throw up but could taste it.

I came in at 10:57. A sub 11 time was great for me. I don't think I can go any faster than that. And to be honest, I don't plan to try it again. It's pure agony.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Race Report

The Soldier Hollow race was "A great success" (in my best Borat accent). I really like the setting of these races. Good riders, well attended, super cool course, organized yet very laid back. A lot of my friends were there. Jon, Jamie, Whitney, Brad K, Tosha, Kenny, Brad P., Chris and KC Holley, and more who I ride with on occassion.

The course was the ICUP loop (which is this Sat) and is mostly tight single track with some good climbs and fast downhill sections.

We'll have to wait for the official results to be posted but I didn't come in last. I made sure to pick out 2 or 3 of the weaker riders in the Expert class and make myself promise to not get passed by them. I've watched enough wild life shows to know how that works.
I finished near the back of the pack in the Expert class. Single speed might not have been the best bike choice for me. I don't know how Brad K, Kenny, and Jamie do it on their SS but they seem to be able to maintain their speed even on the flats or downhill. I could climb fine and was able to pass some riders whenever the trail kicked up but as soon as it turned flat or down, I lost position.

Just about half way through the race, my front wheel started making some funky noises. It didn't slow me down but it made me nervous that I was about to have a mechanical. After the race, I took my front wheel off and noticed my brake pads were worn all the way down to just a paper thin layer. Another 3 minutes of riding with no pads and I could have set off a wildfire from the sparks off my rotor.
The post race chill was the best part. We hung around for the prizes. Almost everyone got something (except Jon...sorry man). I walked away with a set of cyclo-cross tires which I plan to use on my cross bike that has been hanging in Jamies garage for the past 7 months. (I'm pretty sure after 12 months, by law, it becomes his bike). The Pillings and Pogues shared their massive bowl of pasta salad and rolls with us. So good!
Brad was true to his word and had CarboRocket and Beer for all who wanted it. It was a really fun night. The Wed night race series is the way to go.

First Race of 2008

I've been putting this off for too long. It's time to man up and spend some time in the pain cave. Tonight is the opening race of the Soldier Hollow/Sundance MTB series and I plan to be there. There will be much suffering. I'm already nervous and my stomach is on edge. I hate the pre-race feeling. It all goes away once the race starts and I'm able to settle down a bit but the entire day before the race, I never feel good.

Only 3 months until Leadville (in fact the race packet arrived at the house yesterday) and I need to get some fast training miles in. There is no way to simulate race pace unless you go out and race.

I've prepared a list of reasons (in advance) of why I didn't do well:
1) I brought my SingleSpeed and the course had too many flat sections
2) I went out hard yesterday and my legs didn't recover
3) I raced the Expert class cuz I needed the longer miles
4) I forgot my CarboRocket

These seem like solid excuses.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Planting The Seed

That's what we call it when we want to lay the ground work with the wife for getting out on a ride- "planting the seed". You can't just come out and say you are going on a ride. It's a process. And it usually starts a couple days in advance. The idea needs time to be nurtured.

After 13 years of marriage, I'm sure my wife has figured out my tactics by now but she still plays along. I tend to test the waters with some probing questions and get a better feel for the situation before I drop the question. Usually I begin with a very general question like- "Do we have anything going on after work today?", or "Have you seen what the weather is going to do this week?". I'll give her about 5 minutes or so before I start with the next round. Round two is usually several statements. Such as- "Jamie got a new set of tires. He was going to go test them out on Wed". or "I heard they finally opened Clarks for the season".

I'm fortunate that a lot of my riding buddies are either family or their wives are good friends with my wife. If I can prove that Dug, Eric, or Rob are coming along or that Jamie, Tony or Jon already got approval from their wife to ride, it helps.

The entire process can take several days but if you are good at it, obtaining a hall pass for a ride can be done within the same day and sometimes even over the phone.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Reunion Race

During the past 2 weeks, I've been exchanging emails with my best friend from high school who I haven't seen in 13 years.  I'm not into using people's real names so let's call him Chad Ambrose (not his real name).  I had heard his name pop up in conversations every now and then from other local cyclists and knew he was a good rider and a hard core endurance trail runner (as in the Wasatch 100 kind of trail running).  
After a few email exchanges, we decided to finally meet for a ride and get caught up.  Our first ride together was going to be a night ride on Thursday from the EQ in Draper.  A few days prior to meeting, I found myself Googling his name and searching for any previous race results to find out of just how fast he was.  A few searches came up but I still didn't have a good gage on his fitness.
I tried to get a few of my fast friends- Jamie and Tony to join me.  If I wasn't able to hang at least one of my friends might be able to.  But they both bailed and left me all alone to fight my fight. 
Thursday night finally arrived and I drove down to the EQ in Draper and started getting my gear on.  I noticed another ride there with baggy shorts and a heavy downhill bike.  I thought for a minute this might be Chad and I got a little excited.  It wasn't.  And just then, another biker pulled up and for the first time in over 13 years, I saw my old friend.  He rode his bike to the EQ (already a bad sign), and the first thing I noticed were his legs.  Huge quads and huge calves....Oh crap, I thought.  This is going to be painful.
We made small talk as I finished getting my bike ready.  It's important to note that I was on my SS and Chad on a full suspension geared bike.  I decided to ride the SS because I thought it would give me an advantage on the climbs.  A chance to put the hammer down and set a fast pace.   
This being a reunion AND a ride between 2 people who haven't ridden together set the stage for an all out race to establish the alpha male.  I knew it.  And Chad knew it.  We didn't talk about it.  It's just what happens in these situations.  
As we began the ride, Chad set the pace on the lower, flatter section.  Within minutes, I was redlined and pretty much unable to carry on a good conversation.  Even simple questions like "what do you do for work" left me unable to give a complete answer.  "In.....Sales....." I would mumble.  I was having serious doubts about this ride and we were only 3 minutes into it.  As we got the the base of Clarks, I pulled in front and set a much lower pace.  I knew this would give me about 10-15 minutes of recovery as we climbed up Clarks.  The problem was, I was on a SS and you really need to climb and a pretty good speed or you tip over.  That section was short lived and as we got to the road, the climb to Jacob's began.  Chad, now back in front, was setting a brutal pace.  I managed to keep his wheel and was able to stay with him better on the steep parts.  But after a bit he started to gap me. 

The entire climb I kept wondering how fast he might be on the downhill.  Would the downhill be my chance to put some distance between us? 

It was a great night for a ride.  The temp was perfect.  It was a clear night.  I was finally riding with Chad and was suffering but happy to be out on my bike. 

We got to the top of Jacob's and I led the downhill.  Chad was right on my wheel and was talking to me the entire way down.  When we got to Ghost, Chad led and was letting it go through the tight turns.  Such a fun downhill.  Especially at night. 

At the bottom, we crossed the river and climbed back up to the top of Clarks but this time, we climbed on the jeep road.   Every now and then Chad would stomp on the pedals and ratchet up the pace but for the most part, we rode together.  

At the bottom of Clarks, we split up.  I went down to the EQ and Chad back over to the jeep road (probably for another 5 or 6 laps up Clarks).  I didn't want to know.  I had survived the race and came in 2nd but was happy to have finally hooked back up with Chad.  

Next time, I'm bringing the two Brads (Keyes and Pilling), Kenny, and Jamie and am going to unleash them on Chad.   

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


My sock drawer is full of cycling socks. It's pretty much all I wear anymore. I've given up on style and have gone straight to function. Cycling socks fit better and breathe better. I wear them with suit pants, shorts, jeans and sometimes during "business time" (I think you all know what I'm talking about. If not, go watch the Flight of the Conchords clip.)

I used to wear the low cut cycling socks but lately I've really liked the higher cut. They look goofy with lycra but that's why I like them. And I really like black socks. Black socks with shorts is a fashion "No No" but I think it's a cool look. Just don't wear them with sandals.

These are my thoughts on cycling socks.

Monday, May 5, 2008


I'm starting to commute a couple days a week. Its finally warm enough and light enough that coming down Suncrest at 7am isn't bad. My commute is about 20 miles each way. Coming home is the harder ride. Its mostly uphill and ends with the climb up the South side of Suncrest.

As I was packing my gear up last night, it seemed like a lot of stuff. It's easy to forget something. Usually my employee badge or key to my locker are the two items that I forget. With the clothes and my pack, it weighed in at 7.5 lbs.

Riding in rush hour traffic can be a little sketchy but it makes the commute much more interesting. Half of my ride is on State Street in Utah County. The same road that Dug was hit and hospitalized years ago. I can see how easy it could happen. People don't realize how fast a cyclist can ride and once they pass you they forget you are there. I can't tell you how many times a car has passed me only to make a right hand turn right in front of me. Makes me want to take a cleat to their car door.