April 30, 2009

DRTT Recap

The Deschutes River Timetrial Festival was held last weekend in Maupin, Oregon. In its fourth year, this three stages in two days is put on by George and Terry, the founders of the Race Across Oregon and the Ring of Fire (12 and 24 hour timetrial held in September). The headquarters for the race and the staging/start area for all three stages is at the Imperial River Company, a beautiful and quiet lodge lying along the banks of the Deschutes River. Check out www.raceacrossoregon/drtt.com for details.
I have done the race every year and had high hopes for 2009. Alas, due to continued unemployment and several bouts of sickness in March I was not as prepared as I had hoped to be. In any event I went last weekend and had a very enjoyable trip, even if my times were the slowest ever. The first race was a rolling 26 mile course. I have clocked slower times each year since 2006, and 2009 was no exception. I came in 15 minutes slower than my goal, mainly due to the extreme wind that came through. It was a constant battle of either a direct headwind or severe crosswind. I have never felt so exhausted on a bike. The afternoon course was an 8 mile hillclimb, and I did clock a time in the top half of the field. Try climbing at 45 degrees. My time was 8 minutes off my goal. The descent was the scariest of my life with gale force winds with gusts. I did get blown off the road just a mile into the descent, and went over the bars after hitting a very soft shoulder. The bike and I slid down an embankment a few feet, and it was a struggle climbing back up. No real harm as it was super soft. My descent was as fast (or slow)as the climb. The wind did die down for Sunday's 47 mile out and back course, but even so we battled a good cross wind for the entire route. My time was 8 minutes off my goal. I was just happy to fnish given my mental state and the conditions.
As usual I did get to spread the word about 53x11 coffee as my kit attracted attention. I always like to spread the word to the masses. I do hope to retrun to Maupin in 2010 for the 5th running of the DRTT.
Until then I will continue to enjoy the ride.

April 26, 2009

Greenbrier AMBC XC Challenge

Greenbrier 2007 was my very first MTB race. I remember it well. I entered the beginner men's 40-49 race. It was cool and damp. I remember doing a lot of walking because there was one fairly steep climb with logs to go up and over and another really rocky climb. I also remember riding the campground descent with a white knuckle grip and being thankful I only had to do one lap. I recall I finished seventh out of 19 and was happy.

Greenbrier 2008 was one of many MTB races in which I would participate in that year. I remember it well. I entered the beginner men's 40-49 race. It was stormy the morning of the race but the storms had passed by race time. The first races of the day were very wet. I remember walking more than I thought I should because of the one fairly steep climb with logs to go up and over and the other really rocky climb. I also remember that the campground descent wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was the year before and I recall being thankful that I only had to to one lap. I also remember I was about 3 1/2 minutes faster than my time from 2007 and that I finished seventh again.

Enter Greenbrier 2009, my fifth MTB race this year. I entered the men's cat. 2 45-49 race along with ~25 other racers. The weather was uncharacteristically hot, humid, and sunny with not a lot of rain in the days leading up to the race making for a fast course. I predicted the race would start fast and it was as I entered the woods in last place. I believe I was in last place right up to the point after the stream crossing where you hit the first climb. That is where I started overtaking some folks. Then we hit the steep climb and there were a lot of folks walking, which was expected, because it is steep with logs to go up and over. So I walked up to the middle point where I got back on a rode to the top. I then proceeded to get to and ride up the rocky climb I had never successfully ridden up before. Then I hit the campground descent and did not have any issues so I finished the first lap in ~35, about three minutes faster than last year's one lap, except I had two more to do. This is not as onerous as it seems because I was feeling very good. I skipped the feed zone and entered the woods for my second lap. Near the end of the descent with the logs a man was giving warning of a crashed rider ahead and to keep left. As I rode by slowly, there was a guy that had crashed and was being attended to by a volunteer. I sure hope he was OK and my thoughts go out to him because it looked like he could have been seriously injured. Anyway, I got across the stream and up to the steep climb where I rode almost all the way to the top except for the very last log where I spun out on a rock. Of course I thought I would ride all the way up it on my last lap. I did make it up the rocky climb a second time, however, riding down the campground descent I got a rear tire flat about 2/3's of the way down and since I wasn't carrying a spare, my race was over. I was walking with the bike rolling and the tire and tube popped off and was binding on the frame so I had to carry the bike. I was disappointed with another DNF although there were a large number of other racers who had flats out there. I had a nice conversation with a lady spectator who was walking with me to the finish area, so it was not all bad. I had one little fall that was inconsequential and my shoulder held up excellently so I am not disappointed. Maybe next year!

April 21, 2009

Bike Line Fair Hill XC Race Report

The Bike Line Fair Hill Spring XC Mid-Atlantic Super Series Opening XC Race was held in Elkton, MD this past Sunday, April 19, 2009. It was a great weather day, thus a great day for racing. Over 400 folks had pre-registered for the races so there were going to be some crowded trails. The course description stated that the course was mostly non-technical with very few climbs and not many roots. The description was accurate. It was a fast course! There was a fire road climb to start followed by a long FR descent to a wide stream crossing and a short climb where the single track began. The single track was very fast flowing with just a few roots here and there and some field and stream crossings.

There were 23 pre-registered for the Sport Male Masters I race for men 45-49. We were about the sixth or seventh group to take off in two-minute intervals starting at 10:30. I was hoping to finish in the top of half of my race given that there are so many fast guys in this area and age group. One thing that was interesting is there were no body markings. The organizers wrote your category on your number on the lower right side which was good to see where to stand at the start but not so good for seeing if you were racing against someone on the course. The race timing was done by Prolog Timing Systems so we wore chips on our ankles. Anyway, after the start I was working hard and felt that I was in the middle of the pack. I was passing some folks on the uphill parts and they would pass me back on the down hills and field crossings. At the end of the first lap I was feeling good and felt that I could maintain the pace I had been riding.

On the second lap I was passing a few folks and had a conversation with a guy who was trying to talk me into getting a 29er. So things were going well and I caught and passed a guy I saw at the start just before a field crossing. So when I get to the field I decide to have a drink so I reach down for my waterbottle with my left hand leaving my right hand on the handlebars. This is important because this is the side with my injured shoulder. So I take a drink and I'm leaning forward to place my waterbottle back into the cage when I veered off the trail about six inches and hit a little rut. Since my body weight was shifted forward I started to pitch in that direction. Since I knew I didn't want to endo I threw my weight back hoping that my backside would hit the seat. It did but on the very back end so instead of catching myself I slipped off the back of the seat and laid out completely. At least my pedals unclipped and I landed on my left buttock so no harm was done. I looked around quickly to see if anyone had seen me crash on a totally flat field crossing piece of trail but there was no one in sight. I got going fairly quickly only to find that I had no front brakes (the cable clip had popped off in my crash) so I had to stop again to re-attach the cable. I got hung up in one rooty section near the end of the race but it was just a foot touch down. The rest of the race after that was fairly unremarkable.

I saw in the results today that I was 14th out of 33. I was happy with the result and happy that my shoulder seems to be getting better every day even after hiking out and hitting the deck.

April 16, 2009

The racing economy

I know we see headlines that corporate sponsors are pulling out from sports advertising, even the golf Masters is not immune. Bike teams have always had to fight for a good sponsorship anyhow.

But the races themselves? Has anyone else seen damage to the number of available races around them? The 3 big races I wanted to start with this spring have all been canceled or never rescheduled. The story is the same: we can no longer, do not have the time, can not afford, etc.
Even the Kickstand Cyclery web comic is on break.

I knew I lived in a little bit of a hole, as far as the local bike racing seemed. But now, most races are nearly 3 hours away. There are a few closer TT and crits, but they are on weeknights, start before I get out of work, and still 60-90 minutes away. I'd have to get out of work early, drive, then do a 12mile TT? I know it's that thinking that leads to smaller crowds, and less resources for the promoters.

I think it's time I start planning on hosting my own events on this side of the state for once. You would think Des Moines and Omaha would have enough riders to support something. We don't all have to go to Eastern Iowa. Omaha has a few races, but not too many. There might be an opportunity here.

Any thoughts? Anyone else see local races suffering? Any advice on planning?

April 15, 2009

2 Down

Saddledancer here again. I was able to do my 2nd race of the season last night at the Tuesday night series out at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA. We really have had a wet 2009, even for the Pacific Northwest, with 45 days of measurable rain or snow to date. I will gladly train in the wet and have ridden in horrible conditions, but I draw the line with racing. No need to risk crashing, especially now that Iam unemployed and without real insurance (story for another time).
Anyway, I did my second race of 2009 last night. The 4/5 field was smaller than last week with around 30 or so riders. We went down what is called the Escape Route, which is about a 300 meter long straight steep descent followed by several uphill rollers. The total course is just over 2 miles long.
We only raced for 37 minutes which was a bit disappointing, but I couldn't complain as I had a free entry due to an earlier cancelled race (due to weather). It was a very slow pedestrian start and we were caught by the 1/2/3s on the second lap, definitely a first. No real racing occurred for the entire time and each lap was a series of yo-yos. We did lose some riders off the back due to conditioning but the field remained relatively whole til the finish. We were not allowed to preview the course since there was a women's racing clinic before our race, so I had no idea what condition the escape route was in. It has had several unrepaired potholes and this year is no exception. I wanted a clean line so dropped off the back each lap as we entered the escape route (bad crash in 2006 when I hit a pothole). I then dragged my rear up to the group during the subsequent uphill rollers. Each lap was pretty much the same and I finished around halfway through the group. I was bit disapppointed in myself for not attacking when the group slowed, but I was happy to get another safe and fun workout in. I also talked to a couple of riders about 53x11 coffee which was quite cool. I am the sole rep out here but do not feel alone. I also hope to get out to the Cycle House some day soon.
Enough for now. The weather has improved and so have my spirits. Be safe and keep the runner side down!
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

April 9, 2009


Well I finally got to race this year. I had high aspirations at the end of 2008 for a race and fun filled campaign in 2009. However, due to several bouts of illness in late February and early March I missed my first two races. Then horrendous weather stopped me from competing in my next 3 races. I didn't train much in March and finally started feeling "normal" a few weeks back so did a race last Tuesday out at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA. It is a Tuesday night weekly series held through August with 5 different courses on a closed car racing venue. We raced the flast, an approximately 2 mile oval for 41 minutes. It was by far the largest group of 4/5s ever to assemble out there (75). It was good to get my racing legs back and to get the feel of the peloton back in my bones. I hung in the back for most of it and socialized a bit and proudly wore the team colors. I made one move down the home stretch with 3 laps to go for my girlfriend (really for her video camera:), but I ran out of steam after passing 60 riders:).
We had 3.5 days of summer weather over the weekend allowing me to do several long rides with my training buddies. I feel much better for the Deschutes River TT Festival in Maupin, OR to be held over the last weekend in April.
I so enjoyed reading Kris' Tour of Flanders account. I watched here in the U.S. and can't wait for Paris Roubaix. I so want to go and ride the Muir. Thanks for the commentary Kris and say hi to Eddy for me will ya?
I also want to welcome all the new riders and to wish them and the old gang a very good 2009.
More later from the Pacific Northwest.
Ty (aka Saddledancer)

April 5, 2009

Devolder the Destoyer part Deux

Devolder the Destroyer part Deux

What a beautiful day for a bike race. Earlier in the year I anticipated the beauty of today, but only because last year’s race was a weather disaster. Today’s crowds were enormous and the atmosphere was contagious.

Congratulations to Stijn Devolder for another magnificent performance in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen or Tour of Flanders.

We arrived at the Kapelmuur in Geraardsbergen at about 1145 and took up a nice cozy spot diagonally across from the chapelle right on the corner as the Muur crests. We managed a spot right on the fence, a perfect location as all of the riders the crested the hill were within arm’s reach as they passed. Apparently the Kapelmuur is now a haven for tourists and non-Belgians as nearly all of the crowd specific to my cornered location were either Italian, British, American, or Spanish.

Watching the race on Belgian TV is fun, but it certainly isn’t as much fun as waiting for four hours to get a glimpse of the break, the chase, the peleton, and the trail. There was plenty of excitement to be had before the Elite men crossed my gaze, as several groups managed to punish (or sometime humiliate) themselves up the Kapelmuur. It started at right about noon as a combined randonnee of children and adults wound their way through downtown Geraardsbergen and focused their efforts in climbing out of Geraardsbergen towards the Muur.
I’m completely certain that Belgium has the market when it comes to training children to be elite cyclists. I saw no less than fifty 7 – 9 year olds climb their way up the Muur as the crowd enthusiastically cheered them on. Unfortunately all of the children were not successful as I personally witnessed a saddened girl cry because she had to get off of her bike and push up the 19.8% grade. Kid, you did well.

Following the youngsters were bunches of 12-15 year olds on Princes, Look 595s, Trek Madones, and Steel lugged classics hammering up and over the Muur like they were late for Christmas.

Following the teens were the Elite women, and yes they were elite. I’ve ridden the Muur twice and felt I was successful both times having cleared it on a 39x18 and a 39x21. These women used the same gearing, but they were as fast as hoodlums chasing a beer truck. I couldn’t believe how fast and determined they were, it was utterly nuts. And, for some reason I constantly watched them as they rode away instead of when they were approaching, I don’t get it.

The pre-race highlight was certainly seeing Eddy Merckx crest the Muur, twice. Not only did he crest the Muur he did it on a steel lugged beauty while dressed old school. Eddy still is the “Cannibal” but today he ate the cobbles and the sincere appreciation of all of the fans. It was an absolutely thrilling experience, second only to nearly being run over by Alejandro Valverde after the Paris finish of last year’s TdF.

Quick Step was on fire today, five of the top 20 over the Muur were Quick Step riders. When Devolder cleared the Muur there was a resounding “Looks like he’ll win again,” even with Boonen in 4th and Quinziato in 2nd. My hope for the day was Big George. He was about 15 riders back after the Muur and was the 2nd Columbia rider to crest. The determination in their eyes, the salt stained jerseys, the hardened steel that is their legs, and the dancing that is their feet on the pedals, it’s an endless ice cream sundae.

See all of the photos at flickr

I’m headed to Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday and Paris-Roubaix next Sunday. I’ll blog a short report and add pictures you wouldn’t likely see on cyclingnews.com.

Check out my flickr account here – www.flickr.com/photos/37081268@N08/ follow my race within a race at twitter – www.twitter.com/cyclopathic

Oh, 7 weeks after major back surgery I’ve been given the clear to put in some road miles. It’s looking more and more like I’ll make the Etape on Mont Ventoux for this year’s TdF.

Until Wednesday,

April 4, 2009

Camp Hilbert #1 MTB XC race report

Today was a beautiful day down in Maidens, VA at Camp Hilbert. After all the rain on Friday, one would think that any trail would be too muddy to ride on but this was just not the case at Camp Hilbert. The trails were perfect except for one 30-40' section about halfway through the course. There was a large amount of water and mud there but you could not ask for a trail in better shape than the rest of the course. That being said, I was racing in the Sport Master 45+ race which was starting at 12:10. I was the only geezer signed up for this race on Bikereg for the longest time but at the very end I believe there were seven of us pre-registered. When I checked in today it looked like there were about 10 folks on the list including race day registrations. I was liking my chances for the win when I was the only one signed up but as folks joined in my chances were getting pretty slim. Especially when one of the guys raced with me at Blue Ridge School who was ~4 minutes ahead of me after the first lap. I am sure he would have finished farther ahead of me if I hadn't DNF'd with my shoulder injury. Speaking of my injury, I was feeling quite uneasy about the shoulder for a couple of reasons. Obviously I didn't want to crash and further injure it and I was worried about being able to lift the front wheel in the few technical parts of Camp Hilbert.

Anyway, at the start, the Sport Masters 45+ men were the second to the last group scheduled to start. While we were lining up there were only four of us and two Clydesdale ready to start behind us. Mark, the promoter, asked the Clydesdales if they wanted to start with us and they said yes so there were six of us on the line. Of course, I'm thinking I like my chances of being on the podium because all I have to do is finish ahead of one of these other three guys. I didn't think I had a chance against the guy who was thrashing me at BRS but I knew nothing about the other two so I thought maybe. My chances dropped pretty quickly after the start when all three of the other guys in my race and the two Clydesdales took off leaving me in sixth place. Now I'm not the fastest starter needless to say. My strength is my stamina. I know I can throw out three pretty much equal laps and I won't fade much at the end. The trick is to stay close enough to pass someone before the end. BTW, I tested the shoulder in my pre-ride popping some wheels and it was good so the shoulder was not the problem. So the guy in fifth place is the guy that was thrashing me two weeks ago at BRS so I thinking top three is probably not going to happen this week, but maybe fourth? So I decided I would try to keep him in my sight and see if he could hold his pace. The first lap I did fairly well in this regard. He was about fifty feet ahead of me the entire lap. I was getting closer to him on the climbs but he would power away from me on the descents. Camp Hilbert doesn't have anything really steep or long in the way of climbs and descents. It is mostly fast, a true power course. Early in the first lap, I came up on a female enduro rider and asked her very politely if I could pass. I think I said "I would like to pass, please, if you don't mind" or something like She said sure and then proceeded to stay right in the middle of the trail. I stayed patient and surveyed the trail ahead and then said "How about just after that big tree on the left?" She went off on me yelling something about that she knows I want to pass, etc. Right after the tree I accelerated and went by her on the left as she did not slow down or move over at all. As I went by her I said "You don't have to get upset, I was only trying to tell you when and where." To which she replied, "I've been out here since 9:30." I was thinking that if racing your bike for two and a half hours is going to turn you into the wicked witch of the west maybe you should consider the XC race instead, but of course I didn't say anything.

Right at the end of the first lap I clipped out on a rooted climb and lost sight of the guy I was hoping to keep in sight. That was when I thought, I guess its fourth but I was hoping to press harder and get him in sight again. I was encountering and passing a lot of the Sport 35-45 folks who started two minutes ahead of us so that was making it harder to catch up. I kept looking ahead but didn't see the guy I was looking for. In the last quarter of the lap I saw him in the distance. He was in an area that I had gotten real close to him on the first lap so that gave me the incentive to push harder. I was hoping to get close and take my chances on the last lap. He was riding up the same rooted climb that I had unclipped on in the first lap as I reached the bottom. I saw him clip out just as I got to his wheel. He said, "I'm sorry" as I hopped off my bike and starting running up the hill past him. I told him "it's OK" but I could tell he was in a world of hurt. So I hopped back on my bike and tried to create as big a gap as possible. As I crossed the finish line I looked back and he was about one hundred fifty feet behind me. I was thinking that the only way I wouldn't finish third is if I crashed or had a mechanical. But I rode a clean third lap and was cautious where I needed to be. So I finished in third place. Not long after I crossed the line the awards were being handed out. I won a $15 gift certificate to 3Sports. Sorry Evan, usually this race has podium pictures but today there was nothing. The shoulder was fine. There was one place where my weight got too far forward and I had to muscle down to get back and that hurt. That was the only time during the race I felt my injury. It hurt more after the race when I was changing clothes. Allez, Mike

April 3, 2009

Injury Update

I went to see the Doctor last Monday, the day after the race/injury. I got an appointment to see Dr. Owens at 4:15 p.m. She examined the shoulder had me move it and/or moved it all around and was impressed with the range of motion. She didn't think it was anything too serious but sent me to get a x-ray just to be sure. She also gave me a prescription for 800 mg of ibuprofen for good measure. So Tuesday I got the x-rays. They actually took four because the tech cut off the top of my clavicle on the first two. She didn't see anything out of the ordinary so she let me go. I spent the rest of the week in pain barely able to move my right arm without greater pain. Saturday morning I got a call from my doctor at around 8:30 a.m. She told me she was looking at the films and wanted to know if I knew I had a broken arm. Having woken up not too long ago I wasn't sure I heard her right so I asked her which bone was broken. She said it was the humerus up near the shoulder. My brain finally kicked in and I said that I knew I had broken my arm there about 33 years ago. She said it was good because the x-ray tech hadn't written anything about on the films. She then told me to give it another week and if it was still bothering me she would refer me to an ortho.

One week after the injury I saw improvement but nothing extraordinary. I still felt pain when I moved the arm, mostly around the outer part of my upper arm. I did not feel pain constantly though. That stopped yesterday. I rode my MT bike on Thursday and the arm did not bother me at all, although I rode on the road. I could not stand and pedal, it was too painful. I rode the trainer last night and that was mostly pain free. There might have been a circulatory issue because my arm started getting numb toward the end of the hour. I tried to ride outside on my road bike last Sunday but my saddle bolt stripped out and my saddle dropped about eight minutes into the ride. Fun! Actually, I was lucky it happened early in the ride. I didn't get to ride Monday but I did a road route on Tuesday that I hadn't done all year on my MT bike. I had never broke 1:20 on this ride and I finished it in less than 1:17. Again, I couldn't stand up and pedal due to discomfort in my shoulder but, then again, I didn't need to. I rode the trainer again Wednesday night and again started feeling numbness in my right arm toward the end.

Yesterday was Thursday, April 2, and I woke up and immediately stretched. I didn't realize I had stretched my right arm up and over my head until I felt just a little discomfort in the shoulder. I then noticed when getting dressed that I lifted my arm up to shoulder height without discomfort. Then I actually combed my hair with my right arm! Sweet!! I ran at lunch and felt a little soreness immediately after the run, but not too much. I would not be able to play ping pong yet but I think I'm track to be able to race this weekend. Today is a day off and tomorrow is Camp Hilbert #1 XC race. Wish me luck!

April 1, 2009

Need for Electrolytes

Hi everyone,  This is Evan here. I just wanted to share a couple tips on fueling with electrolytes. I think most riders really ignore the need for electrolytes, including myself at times. Here's a little story for ya.  When I was training and racing full time, I paid attention to every little detail regarding fueling. Now that I've backed it off a little and I'm not training 4-5 days a week, I have slacked off when it comes to paying attention to little things like electrolytes. I figure I'm not training and racing at the pro level any longer, and I don't have a set schedule, so I really don't need electrolytes like I once had. 
 So here's my weekly schedule. I go for 1 to 1.5 hr runs 2-3 times a week. I surf hard 2-3 times a week for periods of 1 to 1.5 hrs a day. I do yoga 2 times a week. I eat healthy, recover with protein and good carbs, but over the past two months my body has been very sore, my muscles have been tender, my joints not feeling so good. 
  It's been hard to take. I figured it's just a part of getting older, just turned 34. I decided to take a good hard look at my recovery after every activity. The one key thing missing was additional Electrolytes. How could I have over looked this. I guess I figured I just wasn't going hard enough to need any. I was way off. 
 So, the next surf session I popped a couple endurolytes before and after. The same with my runs and yoga. Within a few days I felt 100% better. How could I have let this happen? I of all people shouldn't have had to go through sore muscles for 2 months before figuring it out. I guess we all make mistakes. I'm back on track now. I just don't want any of you to miss a key element in your recovery.  
  This is a message to all of you training and racing. Anyone who is experiencing muscle soreness and fatigue. Anyone who is cramping when training or in racing. I recommend adding supplemental electrolytes to your program. Hammer Nutrition makes the highest quality electrolytes on the market as far as I'm concerned.  Take 1-3 pill per hour. It comes in a powder as well. You can put this straight into your water bottles. Let me know if anyone has any questions regarding this. 
Hope this helps, Evan
P.S If you are a first time customer of Hammer Nutrition, you can get 15% off by mentioning you are part of team 53x11coffee and my name. Hope this helps.