Friday, November 27, 2009

12 Hours of Temecula 1/24/2009

Written January 24, 2009

I have no idea why I am even awake right now…. I just got off my bike a little over eight hours ago after completing the 12 Hours of Temecula January edition down at Vail Lake Resort just outside of Temecula, CA. It’s about a 7-8 hour drive from Norcal, but I have done the event twice, once in June and now in January and the race course has been super fun (and different) both times. Quite a few Socal companies show up with test bikes and new product for a big raffle, the race organizers are really nice people, and there are tons of familiar faces from the endurance race scene present to tear it up! All of this is well and good, but there is still no reason for me to be awake right now…

I always really enjoy the first couple of races of the season because I get to see all the people that I only see because of bike racing once again. It’s sorta like coming back to school after summer break, only I don’t have to study! No, instead of books and pencils, it’s time for some good ol’ fashioned suffering aboard the glorious creation we call a mountain bike. I get extremely nervous before races until deep into the season and Temecula was no exception, I was definitely shaking with excitement/nervous energy at the start yesterday morning. I was just happy to be there though, the odds were a bit stacked against the race effort last week so I was excited that I was able to be there at all.

I only just put my Mtn bike together on thursday night using a borrowed set of wheels (had to sell mine to pay rent last month…) and I was very hesitant about the idea of racing my Mtn bike for 12 hours when I hadn’t even ridden it in over a month! I figured I’d remember how to handle the bike at some point during the day and that I could pick up the rest of the pieces as I went. The other issue was the cost of the race, but I lucked out and the owner of the shop I am working at down here (San Diego) agreed to pay my entry fees if I wore his jersey. Okay! So I had a bike, and I was registered. All the other race prep was going well until I tested my light out on friday night and found that my battery wasn’t working…. Oh no! I scrambled to put together a spare light system and by about 10:30pm on friday night, I was feeling about as ready as I was ever going to be.

I am only living about an hour and fifteen minutes from where the race takes place in Temecula, so I slept at home and drove up on race morning. Lots of familiar faces were present to kick off the season. They don’t have too many awesome endurance races down in Socal, a lot of the faces belonged to racers whom I’ve met or seen at one of our top notch Norcal events. We’re so lucky to have such a play ground in our back yards up there! I was only able to throw my single speed together, which was well enough because Tinker was supposed to show up and destroy everyone and I didn’t really feel like trying to take on Tink when I hadn’t been on the bike for so long…. I entered the ss class and looked forward to a day of racing with a couple of tough guys whom I competed with in the past. It was looking like it was going to be a long day.

Race started at 9am sharp and quickly moved skyward into the desert hills. The course was 9 miles and change with about 1300′ vertical per lap…. Hmmm, sounds a little like Humboldt. Humboldt hurt pretty bad and I was sure this race was about to do the same. Tink and company shot off the front of the field as I fought with first lap traffic and tried to find my legs. The weather looked like it was going to be pretty nice for racing, not too hot and not too cold. By the second lap I had scoped out just who my competition was going to be and had resigned myself to racing only my race instead of trying to catch all the gear heads on my ss.

The course didn’t really have any long climbs, just short STEEP little punchy ones that suited big powerful riders quite well. I am not a big powerful rider and by the eighth lap I was definitely feeling it in my upper body as I dragged myself to the top of these steep pitches. I was relieved to see that my handling capability came up to a reasonable level within the first two laps. This was not a super technical course, but there are some super fast descents and definitely a couple of tricky sections. Nearly all the descending is done on these cool singletrack ridgeline trails so there are consequences (did you bring your parachute?) if you don’t stick you line.

I had figured that the top guys might do something like 16 laps of the course as laps were being ticked off quite quickly throughout the morning and into the afternoon. I was pitting with the Navy bike team (a lot of the riders are customers at the shop) and the wives of a couple of the guys were helping out with water and pb&j duties. I didn’t worry them with trying to check results and get lap times and what not. It was kinda nice not knowing who, what, when, where. I just went out and rode my bike! I didn’t even look at my watch until 4:30pm and I only started keeping track of lap times on my last 3 laps.

I knew I was riding well when I caught up to a couple of Norcal hammerheads who were racing gears and who I thought had a good chance of giving Tink a run for his money. Caught, dropped, moving on. I had a flat on lap 10 which was my only mechanical and which cost me a few minutes. As I didn’t have any idea where the other racers were, I was very worried about those few minutes lost, but things turned out alright. Everything was going well and feeling good as the night approached. Riding in the desert at night is hard. Everything is the same color but some ground is hard, some is soft, some rocky, some smooth, etc. Oh, and there are these little ridges that develop in the hardpack sand that will catch your wheel and send you flying if you’re not careful. It was like riding a brand new course on my first night lap. I haven’t checked the results, but that must’ve been my slowest lap.

My first night lap was also the lap that I decided I was going to do 15 laps at this race. No one was going to get 16, but I hadn’t been lapped by Tink and I wanted to keep it that way. I love trying to figure out lap times and what I need to do to reach my goals toward the end of a race. My first night lap was slow, my last three were not super fast, but I felt great and they got the job done. I was pedaling my little heart out but I was forced to walk a few of the steeper sections of a climb. Walking is okay on a ss if you can walk as fast as you would be climbing anyway…

I cut it a bit close and skipped my last pit to bring it home at 8:55pm. 11 hrs and 55mins raced out of 12 hours total. Not bad! I made my 15 lap goal and won the single speed class. I was very excited to see that I also would have secured 3rd in the pro men class. I was only 10 minutes off the 2nd place rider and about 23 minutes off of Tinker! I was one of only 3 racers to complete 15 laps, the other two being the top two finishers in the pro class…. Oh, What?!

So then, why can’t I go to sleep?? I am very tired, no doubt about that, but I’ve been a little twitchy with race energy since falling into bed around midnight. Nothing is quite right after one of these events and perhaps I pushed a little harder than I realized. I felt so great during the latter part of the race that I just kept pouring on the speed and I think my body is arguing with me now… Oh well, sundays are good days for naps. Right?

All in all, it was a great day. Good friends, good course, good competition. I’m glad I was able to go and test out the old legs. I am also glad though, that I don’t really plan on racing for another couple of months! The season is long, and there is no rush. Slow and steady wins the race…

DEZ SEZ

Written Jan. 1, 2009

Well,

First off let me apologize for going so long without an update of any sort. Lots has been happening with the holidays and such and it seems like I just haven’t had a good little chunk of time to sit down and make this thing happen. So, sorry. It’s all good though, with things settling down and so much time having gone by since the last post, I’ve got a stock pile of good stuff to talk about.

First off though, I had a comment asking me to reveal all my my dark racing secrets. Well… Okay, why not? So let’s talk about wheels. I have recently put together a 29 inch wheeled MTB and the initial rides upon the new steed were pretty impressive. I took her out to Auburn for my normal Wednesday afternoon ride and at one point during the ride I actually caught myself thinking, “I can’t race this bike. I won’t get any satisfaction out of winning if I’m riding this thing. It’s like Cheating!”. Yeah, no joke.

I’m going to jump off topic real quick here as Wednesdays are worth mentioning in greater detail. So just about every Wednesday after school (school’s over now, so all bets are off) I jump in my little Subaru and floor it up to Russel Rd. just off 80 and go for a little spin in the dirt. The normal route goes something like this: descend stagecoach or manzanita to confluence, cross the bridge, stay right and ride up the rocky trail by the river that most everyone descends, cross the road to mammoth bar, cruise up the fire road to the big turn out by the road, ride up the road about a 1/4 mile and hop over a fence to get on some cool moto trails, stay right and keep following the roads and trails until you eventually pop out on the forest hill divide loop. Do three laps of the divide loop, I usually do two one direction and then one the opposite way. Then, take connector back over to the three boulders, ride the tunnel trail back down to mammoth bar and hop back on the confluence trail. Ride your tired ass back up stagecoach to your car and fall over. Depending on the timing, I’ll add pieces of trail here and there, or do stagecoach a couple of times for a little longer ride. All depends on the day and the legs… So that’s the Wednesday “Loop”

Okay, back to 29ers. The first time I rode the 29er in Auburn, I was so stoked that I was sure I would never ever ride a 26 inch wheeled bike again. Ever. However, I have started to pick up on some of the disadvantages of big wheeled riding since that first magical voyage. First off, it’s a huge bike! There is just a lot of bike going on with a 29er, perhaps more than little Dezzi can handle? I do see the advantages of a 29er in terms of it’s momentum carrying capabilities as far out weighing it’s sluggish slow speed handling disadvantage but I’ve definitely begun to feel as though the bike is taking me for a ride rather than the other way around and I’m not sure if I like that feeling.

Having ridden the 29er quite a few times now, I’m starting to miss the snappy responsiveness of my trusty 26 inch bike. It’s unlikely that you’ll see me on big wheels this season…. I feel like my particular distate for 29 inch wheels is a matter of circumstance though. My bars are basically level with my saddle even with a -20 degree stem. What this means is that when I stand up to climb a hill, my arms are already bent at the elbow so far that I can’t get any leverage by pullng on the handlebars, I feel like I’m on a comfort bike! Here’s the break down

29er Advantages:

Rolls over everything!

Super stable, you never feel like you’re going to tip over or wash out while cornering

Smooooth….

Disadvantages:

Feels sluggish as hell on steep climbs

High bars put you in an awkward position for out of the saddle climbing

Weight (mine’s respectable at 21.7 w/ a 1×9)

I don’t know, as I said before, I think there are a couple of circumstances preventing me from taking advantage of big wheels. It’s a rider vs particular bike issue. A 29er would destroy Prairie City. It would be pretty killer on a course like Downieville XC too since the climb is steady and gradual. Anything with uber steep pitches is going to work you super quick though. Once that momentum leaves you, you’re not getting it back while going up hill.

As far as air pressure was concerned, I was told that running lower psi was the way to go. Seems to be true. I was using different tires than what I normally run on my 26 inch though and the 29er tires were not UST, so they rode much softer to begin with. As this was the case, I found that I only ran about 2-3psi less in my big wheels than in my standard wheels. It takes some playing around.

Overall, I feel like if you’re 6′+ a 29er will probably feel pretty natural to you. If you’re shorter than about 5′9″ or so, It may just feel like a little more bike than you can handle. Does for me anyway. I was also asked about a 29er hardtail vs a 26 FS. Hardtail all the way. Most of the descending capabilities without the same type of power loss. If you can keep the wheels rolling, you’re not going any slower up most hills on a 29er, but there’s always lost power on a FS. Depends on your riding style too. If you can spin a super smooth seated cadence, then there are some suspension designs which will climb like mountain goats. I suck at that sort of climbing, so I’ll always lean towards a solid rear end that doesn’t move when I’m clawing my way up a climb out of the saddle. So many things to consider!

So those are my latest thoughts on wheel size.

Now for the secrets…

Q:What sort of tires did I run at Cool/Tahoe Sierra? Did I flat?

A:I ran Michelin XCR Dry2 26×2.0 UST tires at Cool, front and rear. I always run the rear tire in reverse direction for added traction. I ran the same tire on the back at Tahoe Sierra, but ran a Michelin XCR AT UST 26×2.0 on the front. This tire became my go to for a front tire midway through the season, it’s a little more aggressive and you can notice the difference while cornering. I try my best not to flat, lucked out and didn’t flat at either race. It’s all about tire sealant and UST tires.

Q:Tubeless or tubed tires? Do you use sealant? Why?

A: See above.

Q:How do you do so many laps at a 24hr race? What do you eat & drink? What type of lights do you use, and how do they work? Handlebar & helmet? How long do your batteries last? What do you wear? How do you keep warm? What are the things on your checkoff list to bring. Chain lube?

A: I don’t think about the laps. I break a 24 hour race down into smaller peices. I can’t think about the whole thing, the idea of riding your bike for that long is crazy. It’s too big, too daunting. I just try to ride until dark, then until midnight(when I allow myself to put on music), then focus on riding until sunrise when things don’t seem so bad any more, and then I just try to have some fun and let it all hang out until noon. As crazy as it may sound, I look forward to the way I feel after a 24 hour race. I enjoy the exhaustion beyond comprehension, that feeling of pushing myself further than I should. I’m a creature of habit too, and by racing laps, I can make a little routine out of things. Eat at this stump, always drink here, switch bottles at the top of this climb, always stop to pee on that bush, etc. I guess it helps.

I eat food and drink water. Real food mostly, cereal, bread, fig newtons, granola bars, soup, pb&j, and some gus and candy bars towards the end when my system is saying ‘no’ to eating anything more. I have started using some salene stuff in my water too for hot races. Not sure if I notice the difference, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt. I would say eat whatever you can, really doesn’t matter what it is after a certain point, just so long as food is coming into the system. My food has come a long way since my first Coolest in 2007(I can’t believe my first solo 24 was only that long ago!); I kid you not, I ate half a loaf of bread, 10oz baked tofu, half a jar of Peanut Butter(the big one), an entire jar of jelly, three bananas, 4 cups pasta, 2 cup o noodles, 20 clif bars, 4 packs of oatmeal, seems like some eggs for breakfast, a bag and a half of fun size snickers candy bars, and downed about seven gallons of water. Nutty.

I use a Niterider Trinewt handlebar light.(Please note that that I have since made the switch to Lupine Lighting systems and I couldn't be happier! The Betty system is far brighter [1500 lumens!] than a Trinewt and far more reliable. Extremely lightweight and did I mention it's super bright?!) I can’t see for beans in the dark and it’s very bright and the battery lasts up to seven hours on low. Pretty dang good. I usually have two batteries, I don’t run them till near dead, I switch every three or four hours and charge them up so that I don’t go dark. I think Coolest this year was the only 24 I’ve ever done where I didn’t have a light go out on me during a lap. I always carry a little cateye light so I can limp back to the pit if things go dark.

I don’t stay warm. In fact I get very, very, very cold. I find that after about twelve hours on a bike that everything else hurts so bad that I don’t seem to notice the cold as much as I would otherwise though. I suspect that something similar to a fever is going on by the middle of the night too, nothing is working quite normally after so long with all systems set to ‘kill’. Still, I count on my hands and feet being numb for hours and hours and hours during a race. Just makes sunrise all that much more enjoyable.

Packing for a 24 is easy. I just bring everything. Anything can happen, so I’d rather pack everything and have the perfect pair of gloves or booties for the unexpected sub freezing night time temps(24 hours of adrenalin Hurkey Creek 2008) than listen to the weather report and pack for the conditions called for. You need something to heat food with. That’s super important. Hot food makes you feel good in the middle of the night. Bring stuff to fix your bike too. Figure out how many hours you ride your mtb in a month and think about the normal amount of work you do to your bike in a month. Say you ride your mtb 30hours in a month, give or take. So, bring enough stuff for a month’s worth of mainainance for just this race. Extra chain, chainrings, cogs, pedals, saddles, seatpost, handlebars, grips, tires, wheels, spokes, so on and so forth. Oh, and I bring a spare bike most of the time too…

Dumonde Tech is the only lube on the market worth purchasing. Period.

Q:Training in the rain - doesn’t it wreak your bikes with all the road and trail grit - Do you have a beater bike just for rain training?

A: Yep. Rain sucks. It makes your bikes work like total butt and it makes you hate riding. Oh, and it’s dangerous and cold. It’s pretty much all bad. Much to the frustration of the guy who keeps my bikes tuned up, I don’t have a rain bike. I can’t train and race on different bikes. My body picks up on the slightest little changes and differences and doesn’t adapt quickly to new crap so I just ride the heck out of my race bike, which is why the thing always looks a little hagard. It’s like your favorite pair of jeans. Ugly, beat down, threadbare and a little worn out with patches on the knees and a finicky zipper, but the world is just so right when you wear those beat up old denims. Same thing with my ridden through the rain beat down well worn in mtb. It just fits so right.

Phew! I’m all typed out. I’ve got more exciting epic rides to tell y’all about soon though. Keep your eyes out.

Dez

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DEZ SEZ
Well,

First off let me apologize for going so long without an update of any sort. Lots has been happening with the holidays and such and it seems like I just haven’t had a good little chunk of time to sit down and make this thing happen. So, sorry. It’s all good though, with things settling down and so much time having gone by since the last post, I’ve got a stock pile of good stuff to talk about.

First off though, I had a comment asking me to reveal all my my dark racing secrets. Well… Okay, why not? So let’s talk about wheels. I have recently put together a 29 inch wheeled MTB and the initial rides upon the new steed were pretty impressive. I took her out to Auburn for my normal Wednesday afternoon ride and at one point during the ride I actually caught myself thinking, “I can’t race this bike. I won’t get any satisfaction out of winning if I’m riding this thing. It’s like Cheating!”. Yeah, no joke.

I’m going to jump off topic real quick here as Wednesdays are worth mentioning in greater detail. So just about every Wednesday after school (school’s over now, so all bets are off) I jump in my little Subaru and floor it up to Russel Rd. just off 80 and go for a little spin in the dirt. The normal route goes something like this: descend stagecoach or manzanita to confluence, cross the bridge, stay right and ride up the rocky trail by the river that most everyone descends, cross the road to mammoth bar, cruise up the fire road to the big turn out by the road, ride up the road about a 1/4 mile and hop over a fence to get on some cool moto trails, stay right and keep following the roads and trails until you eventually pop out on the forest hill divide loop. Do three laps of the divide loop, I usually do two one direction and then one the opposite way. Then, take connector back over to the three boulders, ride the tunnel trail back down to mammoth bar and hop back on the confluence trail. Ride your tired ass back up stagecoach to your car and fall over. Depending on the timing, I’ll add pieces of trail here and there, or do stagecoach a couple of times for a little longer ride. All depends on the day and the legs… So that’s the Wednesday “Loop”

Okay, back to 29ers. The first time I rode the 29er in Auburn, I was so stoked that I was sure I would never ever ride a 26 inch wheeled bike again. Ever. However, I have started to pick up on some of the disadvantages of big wheeled riding since that first magical voyage. First off, it’s a huge bike! There is just a lot of bike going on with a 29er, perhaps more than little Dezzi can handle? I do see the advantages of a 29er in terms of it’s momentum carrying capabilities as far out weighing it’s sluggish slow speed handling disadvantage but I’ve definitely begun to feel as though the bike is taking me for a ride rather than the other way around and I’m not sure if I like that feeling.

Having ridden the 29er quite a few times now, I’m starting to miss the snappy responsiveness of my trusty 26 inch bike. It’s unlikely that you’ll see me on big wheels this season…. I feel like my particular distate for 29 inch wheels is a matter of circumstance though. Cdale doesn’t make a size small 29in frame, nor can they run super short head tubes like the ones found on most every other big wheeled bike on the market. This makes my postion on the bike super goofy. My bars are basically level with my saddle even with a -20 degree stem. What this means is that when I stand up to climb a hill, my arms are already bent at the elbow so far that I can’t get any leverage by pullng on the handlebars, I feel like I’m on a comfort bike! Here’s the break down

29er Advantages:

Rolls over everything!

Super stable, you never feel like you’re going to tip over or wash out while cornering

Smooooth….

Disadvantages:

Feels sluggish as hell on steep climbs

High bars put you in an awkward position for out of the saddle climbing

Weight (mine’s respectable at 21.7 w/ a 1×9)

I don’t know, as I said before, I think there are a couple of circumstances preventing me from taking advantage of big wheels. It’s a rider vs particular bike issue, but since I don’t have many options regarding which 29er I’m going to ride, it looks like it’s just not in the cards for me. Not right now at least. I will say that if I had the option to go buy any bike I wanted (like most of you do), I would not be looking at one with 26inch wheels…. ride a properly set up 29er in the correct size and I bet you won’t ever look back. A 29er would destroy Prairie City. It would be pretty killer on a course like Downieville XC too since the climb is steady and gradual. Anything with uber steep pitches is going to work you super quick though. Once that momentum leaves you, you’re not getting it back while going up hill.

As far as air pressure was concerned, I was told that running lower psi was the way to go. Seems to be true. I was using different tires than what I normally run on my 26 inch though and the 29er tires were not UST, so they rode much softer to begin with. As this was the case, I found that I only ran about 2-3psi less in my big wheels than in my standard wheels. It takes some playing around. I think Stan’s has got to be the way to go for 29er wheels. They rock. Period.

Overall, I feel like if you’re 6′+ a 29er will probably feel pretty natural to you. If you’re shorter than about 5′9″ or so, It may just feel like a little more bike than you can handle. Does for me anyway. I was also asked about a 29er hardtail vs a 26 FS. Hardtail all the way. Most of the descending capabilities without the same type of power loss. If you can keep the wheels rolling, you’re not going any slower up most hills on a 29er, but there’s always lost power on a FS. Depends on your riding style too. If you can spin a super smooth seated cadence, then there are some suspension designs which will climb like mountain goats. I suck at that sort of climbing, so I’ll always lean towards a solid rear end that doesn’t move when I’m clawing my way up a climb out of the saddle. So many things to consider!

So those are my latest thoughts on wheel size.

Now for the secrets…

Q:What sort of tires did I run at Cool/Tahoe Sierra? Did I flat?

A:I ran Michelin XCR Dry2 26×2.0 UST tires at Cool, front and rear. I always run the rear tire in reverse direction for added traction. I ran the same tire on the back at Tahoe Sierra, but ran a Michelin XCR AT UST 26×2.0 on the front. This tire became my go to for a front tire midway through the season, it’s a little more aggressive and you can notice the difference while cornering. I try my best not to flat, lucked out and didn’t flat at either race. It’s all about tire sealant and UST tires.

Q:Tubeless or tubed tires? Do you use sealant? Why?

A: See above.

Q:How do you do so many laps at a 24hr race? What do you eat & drink? What type of lights do you use, and how do they work? Handlebar & helmet? How long do your batteries last? What do you wear? How do you keep warm? What are the things on your checkoff list to bring. Chain lube?

A: I don’t think about the laps. I break a 24 hour race down into smaller peices. I can’t think about the whole thing, the idea of riding your bike for that long is crazy. It’s too big, too daunting. I just try to ride until dark, then until midnight(when I allow myself to put on music), then focus on riding until sunrise when things don’t seem so bad any more, and then I just try to have some fun and let it all hang out until noon. As crazy as it may sound, I look forward to the way I feel after a 24 hour race. I enjoy the exhaustion beyond comprehension, that feeling of pushing myself further than I should. I’m a creature of habit too, and by racing laps, I can make a little routine out of things. Eat at this stump, always drink here, switch bottles at the top of this climb, always stop to pee on that bush, etc. I guess it helps.

I eat food and drink water. Real food mostly, cereal, bread, fig newtons, granola bars, soup, pb&j, and some gus and candy bars towards the end when my system is saying ‘no’ to eating anything more. I have started using some salene stuff in my water too for hot races. Not sure if I notice the difference, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt. I would say eat whatever you can, really doesn’t matter what it is after a certain point, just so long as food is coming into the system. My food has come a long way since my first Coolest in 2007(I can’t believe my first solo 24 was only that long ago!); I kid you not, I ate half a loaf of bread, 10oz baked tofu, half a jar of Peanut Butter(the big one), an entire jar of jelly, three bananas, 4 cups pasta, 2 cup o noodles, 20 clif bars, 4 packs of oatmeal, seems like some eggs for breakfast, a bag and a half of fun size snickers candy bars, and downed about seven gallons of water. Nutty.

I use a Niterider Trinewt handlebar light. I can’t see for beans in the dark and it’s very bright and the battery lasts up to seven hours on low. Pretty dang good. I usually have two batteries, I don’t run them till near dead, I switch every three or four hours and charge them up so that I don’t go dark. I think Coolest this year was the only 24 I’ve ever done where I didn’t have a light go out on me during a lap. I always carry a little cateye light so I can limp back to the pit when things go dark.

I don’t stay warm. In fact I get very, very, very cold. I find that after about twelve hours on a bike that everything else hurts so bad that I don’t seem to notice the cold as much as I would otherwise though. I suspect that something similar to a fever is going on by the middle of the night too, nothing is working quite normally after so long with all systems set to ‘kill’. Still, I count on my hands and feet being numb for hours and hours and hours during a race. Just makes sunrise all that much more enjoyable.

Packing for a 24 is easy. I just bring everything. Anything can happen, so I’d rather pack everything and have the perfect pair of gloves or booties for the unexpected sub freezing night time temps(24 hours of adrenalin Hurkey Creek 2008) than listen to the weather report and pack for the conditions called for. You need something to heat food with. That’s super important. Hot food makes you feel good in the middle of the night. Bring stuff to fix your bike too. Figure out how many hours you ride your mtb in a month and think about the normal amount of work you do to your bike in a month. Say you ride your mtb 30hours in a month, give or take. So, bring enough stuff for a month’s worth of mainainance for just this race. Extra chain, chainrings, cogs, pedals, saddles, seatpost, handlebars, grips, tires, wheels, spokes, so on and so forth. Oh, and I bring a spare bike most of the time too…

Dumonde Tech is the only lube on the market worth purchasing.

Q:Training in the rain - doesn’t it wreak your bikes with all the road and trail grit - Do you have a beater bike just for rain training?

A: Yep. Rain sucks. It makes your bikes work like total but and it makes you hate riding. Oh, and it’s dangerous and cold. It’s pretty much all bad. Much to the frustration of the guy who keeps my bikes tuned up, I don’t have a rain bike. I can’t train and race on different bikes. My body picks up on the slightest little changes and differences and doesn’t adapt quickly to new crap so I just ride the heck out of my race bike, which is why the thing always looks a little hagard. It’s like your favorite pair of jeans. Ugly, beat down, threadbare and a little worn out with patches on the knees and a finicky zipper, but the world is just so right when you wear those beat up old denims. Same thing with my ridden through the rain beat down well worn in mtb. It just fits so right.

Phew! I’m all typed out. I’ve got more exciting epic rides to tell y’all about soon though. Keep your eyes out.

Written Dec. 2008

The weather report called for evening showers. Every source I checked online showed patchy overcast skies on the radar image, but it looked to me as though my afternoon ride would be dry with a light drizzle towards the end… Better ride the MTB, just in case.

I finally got my 29er put together and I’d been using the cruddy weather as an opportunity to ride the new rig (not a Gary Fisher…) on days which I’d normally want to be out on the road bike. I usually go for a mostly flat road ride on mondays to recover a little from weekends spent in the foothills. I decided that a few laps around Granite Bay on the new 29er might be a fun recovery ride alternative to the usual road ride.

I have been living part time in Roseville, so Granite Bay is within riding distance of the casa. Of course, Granite Bay is within riding distance of a lot of places, but it’s within realistic riding distance of my Roseville digs. I used to ride out to Granite Bay on my cross bike when I lived in Carmichael by way of the Arden Way bike path entrance. But in that scenario, Granite Bay is really the turn around point rather than the spot where you’ll be riding… In any case, I hopped on my new Cannondale F29 and pedaled off towards the sandy little six and some odd mile Granite Bay loop around 1:30 pm (after sitting in class all morning under ominous, but dry, rain clouds) having just listened to an encouraging weather report which assured me that there would be some light showers, but “nothing like we saw on Saturday. We’re expecting just a sprinkle with rainfall totals less than 1/4″ throughout the night…” Sweet.Being the ‘glass is half full’ sort of fellow that I am, I decided against bringing a rain jacket, or a jacket of any sort actually and set out in my arm/leg warmers, vest, and toe covers for a pleasant afternoon spin. My feet go numb if someone mentions the word ‘cold’ and so I did pack some full neoprene booties and figured I’d be alright in the event of the light showers the weather man called for. I think the only reason that I come to races so well prepared is because I spend the entire off season doing training rides hopelessly underdressed and under supplied and the early winter rides are always the worst as I haven’t yet figured out that the weather is going to be crappy. Period, hands down, no gray area open to interpretation. My ride at Granite Bay was my first cold wet slap in the face this winter.

The wind was at my back as I headed towards Folsom Lake and I felt like I was tearing along on my new uber fast big wheeler. I’m not 100% sold on this big wheel idea just yet, but dang I’m close…. The thing is just dumb fast and I can ride over everything, it’s kinda like cheating. I actually found myself thinking that I didn’t want to race the new bike because it would take the challenge out of racing. I have since realized that 29ers do have their drawbacks and I’ll feel okay racing the new bike afterall. Back to the ride. The rain held off for a while and I completed my first lap of the classic Granite Bay loop in relative comfort. I was really patting myself on the back for dressing properly for the conditions and feeling pretty stoked that I wasn’t hauling around a ton of un-needed clothing. Then, rather abruptly, my ‘glass is half full’ attitude got poured all over my head…

The heavens opened up and I went from feeling the stoke to wishing that the ride was over quicker than you can say “light drizzle”. I had planned on getting back to the homestead around 5:30pm and jumping on the road bike so I could ride to Folsom for another bike fit session (look out, Dez is about to be super comfy on his bike next season…), but after about half an hour in the rain, it became clear that I was going to need to be home a little sooner in order to change/add clothing and/or change so that I could drive to Folsom instead. I don’t think that I think clearly while riding my bike because I decided a sort while later that instead of getting home early and driving to Folsom, I would get home at the original time, change shoes and get on the road bike. I was already sopping wet, what would a little more time on the bike hurt?

Conditions continued to deteriorate at Granite Bay and by the time I left the park and headed back home, I was thouroughly soaked and extremely cold. Then, I left the tree cover and I may as well have just jumped in the lake! I was cursing the weather report as I rode down Douglas Blvd in a down pour, but I didn’t let the gnarly weather change my plan to ride to Folsom. I just said to myself, “I’ll bring dry clothes to the bike fit and this will clear up in no time, it’s only supposed to be a drizzle. No way it can rain like this for too long.”

It wasn’t dumping when I left on my road bike en route to Folsom, in the dark. With the dry clothes I’d thrown on at the house and a new helmet mounted light set up I’d won a few weeks ago at a 24 in socal, I was feeling totally confident that my decision to ride to Folsom instead of driving was the correct decision afterall. I changed my mind about five minutes later.

The rain came back with a vengance and I got absolutely dumped on the entire way to Folsom. It was one of those situations where you aren’t bummed or angry so much as you are just unable to believe what’s happening. I couldn’t believe how hard it was raining, I couldn’t believe that it was dark, I couldn’t believe how wet I was, and most of all I couldn’t believe how entirely stupid I was for being in this situation at all. I have a car! I even had money to put gas in it at that point. I could have been dry and warm upon arriving in Folsom, but was I going to be now? Nooooooo…. After weaving through some “Yes On 8″ picketers at Auburn Folsom and Greenback, I arrived at my bike fitting; soaked to the bone, and late. But, feeling rather bad ass none the less.

I learned a few things from this little adventure, among them are: Winter sucks, and it will always suck. The weather is the thing that makes winter suck, and one must plan accordingly. My new lights are extremely water proof. My booties are not. 29ers rock and roll as much in the rain as they do in the dry. Bontrager road tires handle suprisingly well in a down pour in the middle of the night (no flats!). And most importantly, Weather Men are not to be trusted.

In case I needed any more reminding of this last point, just as I started to think that I was going to make it back home after the fit in relative dry comfort, the sky opened up one last time and gave me everything that it had left. Right on! I totally wanted to wash and dry every single piece of cycling clothing that I own tonight…. he he he, yeah right.

More soon…

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

12 Hours of Temecula November Edition

Last weekend was the last 12 hour race of the season down in Temecula. Jason and his crew put on another awesome event and pieced together a fun and challenging course with some pretty techy sections and some tough climbs.

I drove down south on Friday before the race and about the time I was in the grapevine I realized I had forgotten my waterbottles in the dishwasher... Well, no turning back now, I would just have to buy some when I got to Temecula. Between the grapevine and Temecula, I did the math on how much my little mistake was going to cost me and if I planned on buying enough bottles so that I could run the race without a pit crew(as I planned on doing), I was looking at like $60 just for bottles- Dang it!I decided to buy four bottles instead of a dozen and just hoped that I could find someone at the race who would be willing to fill them up every few laps.

The drive was pretty smooth, didn't really hit traffic in LA which is great and I actually got to Temecula while the sun was still out and with plenty of time to find some dinner and hit up the local bike shop, where my sob story failed in getting me any kind of discount on water bottles. Oh well, they're nice bottles. I was feeling amazing considering I had just driven for seven plus hours, the new 2XU compression clothing was certainly doing its job! After a quick dinner ($5 footlongs!) I went out to Vail Lake where the race was taking place the next morning and I was greeted by freezing cold temps and a fee to camp.

It was now dark, but certainly not late enough to think about going to bed, so I jumped back in the car and got back on the freeway and headed south for San Diego where I knew I could find a warm place to sleep as I had a few good friends in the area. I figured it would be well worth the extra hour of driving in the morning to get back to the race venue if I could get a good nights sleep in the peace and quiet of someones house. I found a house, but it was somewhat less than quiet. My buddy lives in the landing flight path of the SD international airport... So about every 7-10 minutes the roar of jet engines would shake the tiny apartment as I tried to get some rest. I shoved some cotton balls in my ears and called it good.

Highway 15 north between SD and Temecula should be known as the freeway of no facilities. I thought I was going to miss the race because I spent so long trying to find a freakin bathroom on the way to Temecula. I stopped for gas, no restroom, I went down the street to BK, someone is using the restroom (in hindsight I should have just waited), and I eventually wound up back on the freeway and never found a bathroom until I was actually in Temecula.... Three stops are always better than one when you're trying to get somewhere on time!

I hooked up with a couple of Steve Kwait's buddys who had driven out to the race in the Cdale truck with a few demo bikes. They were racing a two man team and agreed to help me out with the water bottle filling situation. I made all of my food in advance and laid everything out on a little camp table before the race, but apparently I took a little too long in my preparations and I missed the start by a few seconds. It was a rolling start through the camp ground and I was probably a couple hundred riders back by the time we hit the dirt. Oh well, I was just here to have a good time, I had no idea who was in my class or what they looked like, I figured I would just ride my bike all day and see what happened. I didn't have a crew to keep track of time gaps and results, so worrying about where I was in relation to everyone else would have done me little good anyway.

There was tons of room to pass on the course, lots of fireroad climbs separated by super sweet, often dangerous ridgeline singletrack descents. I have raced here four times now and Jason always puts together a new loop using different bits and pieces of the different trail networks so you always get to do a new course, but it always has some familiar pieces as well. The infamous Dam(n) Climb was included in this course and it was as tough as ever. Also included were the gnarly little rock obstacle at the top, the sandy switch backs, the roller coaster drop and the three bitches towards the end of the loop. It was a tough course, but it was the fun kind of tough.

I was having a great time, I've cut back my riding to about 14 hrs a week, so I hadn't really done anything long since my last race at the beginning of October. It's fun to ride when you feel well rested though, I felt like I was moving pretty quickly, but I was still having little chats with other riders and just genuinely enjoying my day. There were a couple of tough laps when I considered walking a section of the Dam(n) Climb that was getting super loose and steeper (for real) as the day went on, but I pushed through the tough times and finally made it to that point you get to if your lucky where the pain seems to melt away and you're just flowing over the course like water over river rocks. You become smooth and fluid and you start to feel as though you could flow forever so long as nothing stops you from moving.

The sun dropped behind the horizon and the temperature dropped right along with it. I didn't notice too much, but my feet certainly got cold. I decided to put on full leg and arm warmers when I stopped to put on my lights. I was good for the most part as far as temperature went for the rest of the race and I was able to keep flowing over the course through the darkness. My new Lupine lighting system was phenomenal. I felt bad for any rider that I came up behind because I knew that no matter what they were running for lights, all they were able to see while I was behind them was their own shadow cast out before them. I had programmed my new light to burn at 40% on low and ran it on that setting until the last half of my last lap.

I finished my 11th lap and for the first time that day, I asked the time keeper what time it was. I needed to know how long my next lap took so that I could figure out if I would have time for a 13th lap or not. I'm not sure if his watch was off but I was told it was 6:53 pm when I embarked on my 12th lap and when I came back in, it was 7:57 pm. I had one hour and three minutes to complete my 13th lap of the day. I didn't think about it, I just went. I didn't pit, didn't grab food or water, I just tore off into the darkness with the cheers of the pits all around me.

I pushed it pretty hard on the Dam(n) Climb and told myself that it was smooth sailing from there. This was mostly true. I had cased just about every technical section of the course on my 12th lap and I knew that more crashing meant a slower lap so I switched the light to 100% and cleared all of the tricky sections on the course. It's like riding with the sun tied to your handlebars when the Betty is on full blast. I tore through the rest of the course, passing riders who had set out on their last lap well before I did and wondering if they knew how close they were cutting it, how close we were all cutting it.

I finished the 13th lap of the day at 8:52 pm, eight minutes to spare. Guess it wasn't so close after all. I felt like I had wings on that last lap though, it was awesome. My race day buddy Tom, who I'd ridden with for 3 laps earlier in the day and who had taken 2nd place at the 24hrs of Hurkey Creek race, missed the time cutoff by 48 seconds after trying to complete his 12th lap of the race. So close, and yet, so far!

About two minutes after Tom crossed the line, I realized something; it was freakin freezing! My hands, feet, face, ears, all numb, and not just a little bit, no they were painfully numb. My casual clothes had been sitting outside of course, so they didn't help matters much when I put them on, but after a few minutes in the bathroom playing in the sink (warm water, modern camping kicks ass!) I was able to feel my face and fingers once more and I went back out into the cold to finish packing up camp.

I had one thing on my mind after the race, actually I had one thing on my mind for like the last half of the race, a burrito from my favorite 24 hour taco stand down in San Diego. After awards, I hightailed it back down the 15 toward the border for some artery clogging, gut busting, good ol' fashioned mexican food. As I sat beneath the socal stars outside of Sun Tacos just before midnight, meticulously enjoying every succulent bight of my pollo asada burrito (Chicken, beans, lettuce, guac, rice, salsa verde, and sour cream - heck yeah!), I realized that I was enjoying what was most definitely the greatest post race meal of my entire life and that Northern California is in serious need of some good mexican food.

All in all, it was a great race and a wonderful interruption to my off season. I certainly had my doubts about racing for 12 hrs when I was supposed to be resting up for 2010, but I have not a single regret. Well, actually I regret getting another burrito for breakfast the next morning on my way back home as I drove through Santa Ana, it ws a little too much for my Norcal stomach to handle apparently; but other than that, I'm pretty stoked on the way the weekend turned out.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! I won the race, Pro Solo. I think that some of the four man teams got one more lap than I did, but I'm pretty sure I was right there with most of the three man teams, that's a good day! Thanks again to Cannondale for putting me on the fastest bike on the race course, to my new sponsors: Lupine for allowing me to go fast when the suns not around, and to 2XU compression clothing for getting me to the race feeling fresh, and of course to the rest of my wonderful sponsors for all of your continued support.