Sunday, April 22, 2018

Barry Roubaix 2018 - 62 mile report- did okay, not great

The second race of my season is now in the bag- the Barry Roubaix 62-mile.  I had a goal of under four hours, but this year that was not to be due to various factors.

I had not got quite enough miles on the bike the last few weeks as I'd like, but initially felt confident due to my improved performance at the Southern Cross in Georgia.  However, in the last week preceding the Barry Roubaix I developed a painful knot in my neck as well as came down with a head cold.  Popping zinc tablets to ward off the head cold I had two sessions at the massage outlet in the Woodland Mall where the Chinese masseuses worked on my upper back, shoulders and neck and alleviated the knot about 75-80%.

I felt well enough then on Saturday morning, maintained my usual pre-race schedule and routine with regards to eating and beverages and by the time we got to Hastings I felt moderately confident of a decent ride. 

Roll out at a bit after 10am and the race was on.  I was able to hang in the groups for most of the first 20 miles though never enough to really get in paceline and draft. Consequently I rode quite a bit into any wind on my own.  However, about mile 44 I was feeling like I'd hit my peak was down to little energy levels.  I am not sure what that was about but by mile 50 I seemed to get a second wind, and even though my legs were screaming on every climb or attempt to push power to pedals I picked up the pace for the last 12 miles.  I had two bouts of near cramping first in the left thigh, then the right thigh but popped a couple of endurolytes and the cramps went away.

In any event I finished at 4:14 this year.  Acceptable given the circumstances in my view.

This time of year is particularly difficult trying to train for bike races in addition to the Riverbank Run 25K at which my goal is to try to beat two hours- a heavy lift I think.
The early season schedule be seen just below.  Yankee Springs mountain bike time trial is this coming Saturday and I will be doing only biking, hopefully on the trail a couple times, before that event.  No running this week.  After Yankee I will NOT ride the bike for the next 14 days and instead concentrate on running in preparation for the Riverbank Run.  THEN, after Riverbank Run I won't do any running because I then have 35 days until the Lumberjack-100 mountain bike race.  I am planning on riding the MSU Fondo on June 23rd and that settles the season down for a while.  On the bike, other than a commitment to Iceman, we may go up to Ore-to-Shore and I might go to Pontiac Lake for a mountain bike race but that is the extent of the season.  No running events until the 5Ks start up again in September. Whew!

Southern Cross     March  4 2018  Time 4:18, 45th of 62 in 50-59 age group
Barry Roubaix      April 21 2018  Time 4:14, 94 of 125 Master's Men
Yankee Springs     April 28 2018  Target less than 1:54
Riverbank Run 25K  May   12 2018  Target 2 hours
Lumberjack-100     June  16 2018  Target: under 9 hours

Monday, March 05, 2018

Southern Cross Race Report

Southern Cross Race Report

So much adventure and change for this event  this year it's difficult to know where to start.  I will touch on lodging, meals and the race itself, however, in case anyone plans to go in the future.

I first did the Southern Cross (which is now in its tenth season) last year 2017.  I'd  been to Dahlonega, Georgia and the Montaluce Winery area in 2012 for the Fool's Gold 100 mountain bike race and wanted to check out the gravel road event.  This early in the season is a real tell-tale as to how in shape one is, for sure!   My adventure last year had a couple mishaps which caused me to have a 5:02 finish for the 55 mile race.  This year, the five mile singletrack was eliminated due to rain the week before so the race was now strictly on gravel roads for 50 miles.  My target then was to beat 4-1/2 hours.

The course for me is a tough course as you can see from the profile with the long climbs twice in the course followed by super fast gravel downhill sections!

In 2012, I stayed at the Hiker Hostel for $15/night which included breakfast. Other bike racers stayed there for the Fool's Gold event as were numerous hikers heading out to the Appalachian Trail.  Last year, 2017, was no exception except the rate had gone to $18/night.  However, in preparation for this trip, I called them and they changed their business model, becoming more like an upscale B&B and were charging $48/night.  Since the hostel is located outside of Dahlonega on the opposite side of town from the race start as well as the fact that my wife decided to join me this year for the trip, we opted for a Day's Inn which was not much more expensive than the B&B and was only 15 minutes from the race.   But should anyone go, there are numerous places to stay.

The Dahlonega area has numerous dining options.  I ate at Shenanigans last year.  However, due to an intestinal issue during my race last year I decided to be very careful with my diet.  The Montaluce Winery has a rather fine dining restaurant so we decided to treat ourselves.  The prices are moderately expensive, but if you want a treat don't let that put you off- the food is fantastic!

Joni had roast Springer chicken with risotto.  The risotta was excellent and not too rich- a complaint she has often with risottos at American restaurants ever since she got hooked on it in Rome.  The chicken, we found out from the waiter, was raised 27 miles away at a local organic farm.  It was cooked perfectly for her.    I had the vegetarian alfredo dish.  Now, I usually shy from alfredo dishes as too creamy or milky which upsets my stomach and would especially not eat such a dish before a race the next day.  I toyed with the idea of asking them to merely make me a primavera style (pasta and vegetables with olive oil) instead, but took the plunge for the alfredo... and was NOT disappointed.  It was superb!  The alfredo was not overly milky or creamy and simply clung to the noodles.  As I was eating I told Joni that the noodles tasted fresh- from scratch- not boxed noodles, a fact that the waiter verified.  Additionally, he said they don't keep a vat of alfredo sauce on, but rather, make up just the needed portion for each meal as it is ordered!  WOW.   We both felt our meals were one of the best we'd ever had- literally. 

We each had one glass of wine.  Last year I obtained a bottle of their cabernet franc to bring home as well as a sweet white for Joni and a dessert wine for her.  They were out of the franc, but had a Risatta available. It is a red blend and I had that with dinner and liked it enough to get a bottle to bring home.  Joni had the Dolce, but opted to buy another bottle of the dessert wine to bring home.

I used my Cannondale Cyclocross-6 bike again equipped with the Panaracer Gravel King 35mm tires.  Last year, my hands and wrists were really beat up from the downhill washboard gravel roads (and I wore cyclocross gloves with little padding).  So this year I made a couple changes. First, I added gel pads to the handlebars and wrapped it with a cushioning Salsa bar tape.  Then, due to an advertisement from Barry Roubaix, I took a chance and ordered the Red Shift Sports shock stem.  With your hands on the hoods, you can experience about 3/4ths  to 1 inch of shock travel on the stem.  I installed it with the elastomers that came already in place- the softest ones.   But my experience from the race is that even riding on the flats, which I tend to do especially on technical descents, the shock stem does a great job of dampening vibrations.  I may even get one for my road bike.

The Race:
The race started at 10am following a rider meeting at 930am.  There was about  350 racers including Christian Vandervelde and George Hincapie who were back again, though no Lance Armstrong this year.  Spoiler alert- they beat me.

As my teammates know, I hate to be cold!  I had arm-warmers, leg-warmers, long finger gloves, base layer, jersey and windbreaker.   On the first long climb (see next paragraph) I did begin to regret the added layer and unzipped my windbreaker. However, once over the top and speeding downhill in the shade at 27-30mph I was once again completely comfortable with my attire.

The race rolls out on the paved road of the winery property and then on to the public roadway for approximately two miles under a neutral-ish roll out then turns left off the pavement and on to the gravel. The course hits short grades of 6-9% for the first 13.5 miles followed by a fast 1/2 mile downhill which hits +12% in spots after which the real climbing begins!  Ugh!   Grades up to nearly 14%  to mile 17.5 during which I did walk about 1/10th of a mile on the steepest section as I was grinding in my easiest gear possible at about 1-1/2 mph. Upon reaching a slightly flatter section I got back on and didn't put feet down until near the end of the race where two forced dismounts were in place.  Reaching that peak followed by another 1/2 fast descent and another climb to mile marker 19.6 marked the end of hard climbing for more than a dozen miles. The next ten miles were mostly all descents with my speeds reaching 30mph at times. Fortunately, most of my downhill riding was with no other riders around me, or on occasion a single rider here and there making passing safe and easier.

There were a few people with mechanical issues though I surprisingly saw no flat tire issues.  One guy passing me on the first long climb had an issue with his rear derailleur because it kept jumping every few pedal strokes.  Later I saw him on the side of the road with his chain jammed between the big rear cassette cog and the spokes.  I saw another rider rear derailleur issue, a woman with front derailleur problems and one guy 30 miles in walking the climb carrying his bike though I don't know what his problem was.  Luckily he had only a couple miles to go to the 32 mile aid station.

Note- the climbs are even listed in Strava as categories!  This event has 2s, 3s and even 4s!

The second half of the course isn't quite as hard as the first though still challenging in a similar fashion.  All bike racers will be familiar with the fact that once an event starts you often see the same riders again and again. Someone will be a bit faster in some section than you, then you catch them and pass them and so on.  As usual for me, people would pass me on the climbs and provided I got to the top soon enough after them I'd pass them on the downhill.  I really pushed it the last couple climbs to keep a few people in view and was indeed able to pass them on the last downhills and not be passed again before the finish.

All in all I consider the event a success.  No crashes and iven the difficulty of  some of the grades and only having to walk 1/10th of a mile in a location where numerous other riders walked.  With the single track removed and the course shorter the only apples-to-apples comparison I can garner is overall average speed between last year and this.
     For last year's 55 mile event my average speed was 10.92 mph overall.
     For this year's 50 mile race  my average speed  was  11.63mph overall.

Up next is Barry-Roubaix with a target to break the four hour mark to beat my previous 4:05 result  which means at least 15mph average over 62 miles!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Thoughts regarding gun regulations

Arguments against additional gun laws or changes to gun laws always rest upon several arguments (and the arguments change in order to keep from actually rationally discussing them).
Such as gun laws won't prevent people from killing other people with guns, -or- different laws would not have prevented this particular crime- or I have a 2A right to have whatever gun I want - or criminals will still get guns, you are just making it harder for law abiding people. or- look at Chicago with strict gun laws and worst gun violence day to day.

First, no law will ever stop ALL crimes of any sort. Murder is against the law but people commit murder. Should we get rid of all laws against murder? Of course not. Laws don't just proscribe something, they also provide a framework for punishment.

Second, many gun crimes are committed by people that got the guns from someone else - either through strawman purchases, or taken from family members. One study said most of the guns used in crimes in New York were sold to people in Virginia and transported and sold later illegally! I suspect guns in Chicago have similar origins. To address this we can 
1. implement a national database of who buys what, when and where so we can (see item #2)
2. restrict how many guns a person can buy within a given period
3. require gun owners to regularly (every six months for example) have to show their gun possession to regulators/police or whatever agency to ensure they actually POSSESS the guns they bought
4. Implement severe penalties if someone's gun is used in a crime and they did not even know it was missing- no more "I had it in this drawer" crap
5. Require strict maintenance of control of the gun to prevent theft and unauthorized use. (the Sandy Hook shooter took his mom's gun, killed her then went to the school- if she had controlled her arsenal he would not have had access.)
6. encourage smart gun technology
7. Place a deposit on shells like we do soda and beer bottles. If you purchase 100 rounds of ammo the deposit could be a dollar per round. After your target shooting and plinking you clean up your brass and when you go to purchase more shells, the brass can be used as deposit on the next 100
8. ban any weapon that can be modified to go fully automatic
9. Ban magazines that hold more than 5-6 rounds and ban magazines that can be modified as to do this (this prevents gun makers from simply putting in a "stopper" in the magazine to make it hold only six bullets but can easily be removed to be what it originally was 10 or more).
10 Restrict how much ammunition can be purchased at a time within a window of time via database (see #1 above) and deposits (see #7 above).
11. Require anyone transporting guns across state lines report their transit to required authorities in given states

Also, amend or repeal parts of 
Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA)

Friday, February 02, 2018

Garmin Foot pod

If some of you are like me, I really dislike running outside in the coldest of weather.  It's tough on the lungs as well as having risky footing which could cause injury.  So I run indoors on a track at the Y.  I've done this now for several years, but my most annoying problem is the inability to keep track of laps.  I simply forget which lap I am on.  I could just run for time but I want to keep track of both my running time and mileage as this helps me know my pace.   My Garmin GPS watch however does not work indoors.  I have the Garmin Forerunner-15.  

Then I saw an ad for the Garmin Foot Pod.  I finally bought one of these a couple weeks ago for running at the Y track. If you run indoors it is a very useful addition.

[quote] Monitor your distance and cadence when indoors, such as on a treadmill or a track at the gym, or when out of GPS range with your wrist-worn device with this foot pod.
Small enough to attach to your shoelaces or fit in the mid-sole pocket of compatible shoes, the foot pod is always ready to use. A small, replaceable watch battery powers the foot pod for a year of training.
Unlike simple pedometers, this foot pod uses advanced MEMS inertial-sensor technology to analyze your movements and is responsive to stride-length changes to achieve 98 percent accuracy for speed and distance. [endquote]

I have checked it at the track downtown Y and it is, as said, about 95-98% accurate. The Y says the track is 7 laps to a mile though it varies exactly of course by some amount depending on whether one is running on the inside of the track, outside or in the center lane. But it's accurate enough for training indoors and eliminating the necessity of counting laps to verify mileage if one has a mileage goal in mind -and I always forget which lap I am on after a while. LOL

The link is to Garmin but Gazelle Sports in Grand Rapids carries it too. Check your wrist device for compatibility, but as said, I have one lower model GPS units- Garmin Forerunner-15 and it works with it. Just press the button like you would to activate your watch then press the other button to escape GPS-mode and the watch detects the foodpod and starts functioning as soon as you press the "start" button on your watch

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Not enough miles !

EDIT- updated January 2, 2018

Not counting what I may ride or run the next 2 weeks- my 2017 data
Mileage on the bike 2017
Races (9) 273 miles
Rides 2941 miles
total 3214 miles
Climbing 76188 feet
Running miles
Races(6) 15.4 miles
Training runs 162.7 miles
Total 178
Not nearly enough of either!

Stolen Sign

So this!
Joni and I got one of those blue "Hate has no home here" signs from Mary Valentine in August and staked in the front yard of our house on Burton to which we'd moved July 24th. A couple weeks later I came home from work and the sign was on the front porch. Odd, but I thought Joni must have moved it for some reason but when she got home she said she had not. Shortly after the next door neighbor, Paul, knocked on the door and told me he'd tossed on the porch claiming that if we left it in the yard the kids walking by would trash it into the street.

So, he had the balls to come into our yard and toss it on the porch. If it was a concern he thought we should have wouldn't he have knocked first and advised us rather than taken it upon himself to toss it on the porch?

Anyway I told him I'd move it closer to the house to which he replied "it won't matter." But I did just that.

Came home a couple days later and the sign was gone. I then saw it laying in the turn lane on Burton, though the wire stake was now completely missing. Dammit.

So I put it in our front window on the porch where it's been now for a couple of months. This morning when putting a tree on the porch I noticed the sign was gone. Again I asked Joni if she'd moved it perhaps in preparation for the tree? NOPE! Someone had the temerity to come up on our porch, walk the 12-14 feet across the porch and steal the sign!

Joni all along thought Paul the neighbor did it. I now think so too. A couple of weeks ago we found out he and his family were moving and there are now PODS in his driveway. Thursday there was a boatload of old furniture and trash on his terrace for disposal. I now strongly suspect my sign has been put into that trash which was all removed sometime Friday.

Interestingly enough, when we first moved in, I had two brothers-in-law over working on the house with me- Suburbans and power equipment in the driveway, I pulled onto the front lawn to unload the screen doors I had purchased to install and left my car there a couple hours as we worked on the house. Next thing I know a GRPD officer was walking down the driveway as we were using power tools on the shed door and asked whose car- which I replied was mine. "Can't it be on the front lawn?" Nope, city ordinance. So I moved it and all was good. Apparently a neighbor had called and complained which was the reason for the officer's visit. A couple days later I mentioned this to Paul across the backyard fence as I was letting the puppy out and he asked if I got a ticket? No, I replied, but I couldn't believe one of our neighbors would have called on it since it wasn't a habit. We just did it that one time while working on the house and hauling stuff. He proceeded to tell me about which neighbors might have and which not and that he, as a landlord, had gotten the $125 ticket himself when working on one of his properties. Hmmm.

Good riddance to him. I have already lost count of the number of times I've had to pick up cans, bottles, other trash not to mention balls which his kids have tossed over the fence into our yard. He apparently sold his house to a woman veteran. We are looking forward to that veteran moving in.

Monday, November 27, 2017

2017 Re-cap, assessment and goal setting for 2018 Running & Biking

2017 Re-cap, assessment and goal setting for 2018 Running & Biking

Now that all the biking and running races are done for the year, I have to assess the past season and ascertain what my goals are for 2018.

It was, frankly, a mediocre year both on the bike and in the running shoes.  Mostly I focus on my TIME goals, rather than my position in the standings.  In hindsight, 215 was a peak year.  The 2016 political campaign and buying a house this past summer in 2017 took away quite a bit of training time and focus.  Hopefully we can have all that settle down in 2018.

In regards to standings in the running events, I did quite well with the end-of-season 5Ks, getting first or second place as well as a personal high placement at the GRPS Thanksgiving race of 4th place -a race in which I'd never broken higher than 6th before. But in terms of TIME my best was just under 23 minutes for a 22:56 time.  This is two minutes slower than previous times in the 21-1/2 minute range of a couple seasons ago. The big one- 25K Riverbank Run- was also middling this year with a 2:18 time, not really close to my 2015 finish of 2:08 and breaking two hours there is still my target.

Biking this year was also not overly successful.  An intestinal issue and a crash in at Southern Cross kept me from a 4-1/2 hour goal. Breaking the four hour mark at Barry-Roubaix remains a gaol with my best time two years ago at 4:05.  Breaking nine hours at Lumberjack also not met due to broken fork this year at mile 41. My previous best was 9:04. I did better at Yankee, beating previous best times but Iceman two hour goal also remains elusive- and perhaps impossible.

Barry Roubaix has a new 100 mile event which is appealing, but I think I will pass on it for 2018 in order to focus on my finish goal for the 62-miler.

Southern Cross 65 mile gravel road race- Dalhonega GA:  Finish time   5:02
Barry-Roubaix 62-mile:  DNF
Yankee Springs Time Trial mountain Bike race  Time 1:54 (3 minutes faster than 2016)       
Lumberjack 100 - DNF- broken fork
MSU Fondo  80 MILE OVERALL 109 of 475 / Gender Place  101 of 402 / Time 03:47:22 / Pace  21.11 mph
Pando mountain bike race    8th of 9 races 50+ age group
Iceman 2017 Pro Cat  Time 2:20, 79th of 79 Pro/Cat1 Men, 1510 of 3275 men overall, 1588 of 3609 all racers

Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K: Finish time 2:18,
LMCU Bridge Run 5K Time 23:56 - 2nd of men 55-59
Run Thru the Rapids 5K  Time 22:56 - 1st of men 55-59
Alger Hts 5K  Time 23:13 - 2nd of 13 Men 50-59
WMU Turkey Trot 5K  Time 23:15 - 1st of 20 men 50-59
GRPS Thanksgiving 5K  Time 23:20 - 4th of 99 Men 50-59

Looking ahead to 2018
Southern Cross  Target 4-1/2 hours
Barry Roubaix   Target 4-00  hours
Yankee Springs  Target less than 1:54 (continuous improvement).
Lumberjack-100 Target less than 9 hours
Iceman    Target two hours
Riverbank Run Target under two hours
5Ks Get back to under 22 minutes.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Iceman ends the bike race season with a dud

Bicycle racing season came to an end last weekend with the annual Iceman Cometh race from Kalkaska to Traverse City.  My finish time was a bit disappointing in my second and likely last effort in the pro class race.

The morning started early because Joni was racing her first Iceman event, the 8 mile Slush Cup which we had pre-rode the previous Sunday.  For some reason we thought she raced at 8am and got to Timber Ridge really early only to realize we had over an hour to wait.  But eventually she got in the start chute and rode the course. When we rode last Sunday we did it in one hour so I got a bit anxious when she was not coming through at that time.  She eventually showed up at Icebreaker Hill.  I found out she and another woman stopped to help a youth rider whose chain had jumped off the back cassette and jammed between the small cog and the frame.  They both lost a good amount of time during that assist, but she finished strong on the bike after walking the hill!

I stopped at Bob Evans for some scrambled eggs and potatos to go and ate in the hotel before taking a half hour nap, then getting dressed to go to Kalkaska.  Again, we got there well over an hour before so we relaxed in the car and waited.  About a half hour before the race's 2:30 start time I got out and started riding around then made my way to the chute.

As expected, when the gun went off the field shot away and I was 50 yards off the back.  I could see the last rider in that pack on occasion as the trail straightened out, but soon lost all sight of them.

The trail conditions actually were not that bad.  Some of the single track in the early half of the race were a bit greasy with that black dirt surface. The two-track was mostly wet and packed down.  Singletrack in the second half was more of a sandy surface and drained well and packed despite the sleet that came down about 3:00pm during the race.

I did dress with four layers.  Base layer, jersey, windbreaker and thermal jacket as well as armwarmers and leg warmers.  I'd just gotten new low temperature cycling boots that week but on a test ride the previous Tuesday at 37 degrees my feet still got cold. So I bought some boot-toe covers as a windscreen. This worked well.  My toes got a bit cold but not uncomfortably so.  I had my heavier gloves on during the warmup but opted for the lighter cyclocross gloves for the race. This also worked well since all the wind was a tailwind out of the east!

At approximately five miles in, the leading women's field passed me led by Katerina Nash. A bit later another group of three passed me.  And eventually, another woman.

Early in the race, I reached to my back pocket to get some Endurolytes and as I opened the canister *BUMP* I hit a bump and ALL the tablets flew to the ground.  This would cost me this day because the last four miles with some of the more difficult hills caused my thighs to cramp in both legs.  I ended up walking two of the hills during the course.  Icebreaker Hill was rideable but I wasn't given the opportunity to grind up it as so many of my teammates were there and decided to give me a push.

Into the final chutes, winding toward the finish.  I ended up with a mildly disappointing 2:26:02. time and 79th (and last) in the pro category.

I had had high hopes early on even as I was dropped by the main group.  Looking at my computer I had been holding a 15-16 mph average. This soon dropped drastically across the course as evidenced by the timing mat checks on the course:

Dockery 16.65 mi/hr
Williamsburg 12.56 mi/hr
Zebra 11.68 mi/hr
5min 12.11 mi/hr
Finish 12.12 mi/hr

My theory has now been debunked.  Racing in the wave groups, I usually get passed by faster riders on the open track and then the whole line gets stalled in the singletrack sections of the course.  My theory was that in the pro class, at which I will of course never be competitive, the main group would be gone and I would have an open course to blast through the technical sections as fast as I could with no interference.  But after two tries in the Pro cat to validate this, it seems to not be applicable.

2017  Time 2:20  (Strava Link)
2016  Did not race
2015  Time 2:17
2014  Time 2:54 (mud year)
2013  Time 2:17
2012  Time 2:28
2011  Time 2:26
2010  Time 2:31

In general I have gotten faster. My best times were 2013 and 2015 and I consider 2015 my peak riding year.  The last two years of 2016-2017 were totally taken up with life events (election campaign in 2016 and buying a house in 2017) which definitely cut into training time.  I still think with proper training I can break that elusive two hour goal.

All in all it has been a mediocre race season for me. 

Next up are two 5K's and then I begin planning for 2018.  We will have to see how training goes in 2018.

WMU Turkey Trot 5K   -November 18th
GRPS Thanksgiving 5K -November 23rd