Thursday, May 31, 2007

After Work Century

On Memorial Day the weather was pretty crappy...40's and rain all day. So I ended up spending an hour and a half on the trainer. I really don't like riding a trainer at all.

Tuesday I had a rest day planned, but ended up riding about two hours, but mostly just riding around town doing errands.

Last night I left work at 4:30 and rode to Nenana and back. That's a great ride. It's a little over 100 miles with really good pavement and shoulders, not much traffic on weeknights, and a lot of long'ish hills. Last night was pretty windy and (of course) it rained several times. But the ride took just under 6 hours and I felt pretty good and fresh the whole time.

Not much to take pictures of on my last two rides so I'm posting a couple of my favorites from this years Iditarod Trail Invitational.

This is Rocky with a bottle of vodka we found on the trail between Nicolai and McGrath. It had been about -40 F, but was probably closer to -20 F when the picture was taken. But the Vodka is still almost completely frozen.

This is my favorite picture from the 2007 race. We are on the South Fork of the Kuskokwim River, maybe 5 or 7 miles from the Rohn checkpoint. It was probably -10F and the wind was absolutely screaming. We'd been going straight into it for the last 25 or so miles. We were being pelted with snow and sand from the exposed gravel bars. We couldn't ever seem to stay on the trail for more than about a quarter mile, and were constantly hitting open leads and "new" ice that is not that much fun to cross. It was brutal. When the picture was taken Rocky was trying to shelter himself from the wind enough to eat...and it just wasn't working.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend - lots o' pics

After a ridiculously light week of riding I was ready to ramp back up over the three day weekend. Our friends Luke & Emily and Bob had planned to ride their mountain bikes across the Denali Highway over the long weekend. Its a beautiful 130 mile dirt road through the Alaska Range. Heather wanted to do that ride too, so we figured that I could ride from Fairbanks to Paxson (about 190 miles), meet them there, help shuttle cars and do some camping and fishing while they rode their mtn bikes, and then I could ride back to Fairbanks from Cantwell on Monday.
There are a lot of things that I really like about having Rocky & Gail as our neighbors. Rocky is probably the most insane-hardcore athlete around here and Gail is about the same, except that she's a lot more sane...and that even when she's skiing the Iditarod Trail, or something like that, she'd probably rather be working in her garden. One of the best things about having them as neighbors is that no matter what ride I ask Rocky if he wants to do his answer is going to be either "Sure" or "Let me talk to Gail about it". So Rocky was up for the weekend trip too.
We left Fairbanks at 6:30am on Saturday morning. It was 54 degrees, warm for that time of day, and mostly sunny with a little wind out of the south. Because it was so warm already we didn't take a lot of extra clothing. I took a lightweight windbreaker and rocky had arm warmers and a lightweight windbreaker too.

Captain Bianchi taking a break

About 40 miles out of Fairbanks we rode through a smoky area. The first significant fire of the year was burning in the Tanana Flats south of the Richardson Highway. The ride the rest of the way to Delta Junction (mile 100) was pretty easy and uneventful. We had a slight crosswind and averaged about 20 mph.

Rocky riding along the Tanana River near Shaw Creek

Me crossing the Tanana River at Big Delta w/ pipeline in the background

In Delta we stopped at the IGA (grocery store) for some food and drink. A family was sitting at a table eating and the father started ask us where we rode from, where we were going, how much we rode, how much our bikes cost, all that stuff. He was really nice and super enthusiastic and eventually he asked us "If we could race in the Tour De France?" We laughed and said "no", and tried to explain how much faster those guys are than we are, but I'm guessing that he didn't really get it. Its hard to understand how fast professional cyclist are (in this country let alone in Europe, which is a step above the domestic level) without actually seeing it in person and trying to race with them. But the family was really nice and its always fun to have a real interaction with a non-cyclist that doesn't involve getting honked at and yelled at.

Rocky climbing towards the Alaska Range into a nasty headwind

We left Delta heading south into a strong headwind. Our easy riding was over. For the next 60 miles we bucked a big wind, probably averaging 15 mph. On top of that, there is no place to get food or drink in the 90 miles between Delta and Paxson, so I had to start rationing my fluids which is something that I really don't like to do.

By the time we were in the heart of the Alaska Range I had run out of cytomax and gummy bears, the wind was even stronger and it was very obviously about to start raining. Oh yeah, and the temperature had dropped from 70 degrees to 45 degrees. Once it started raining we knew we were going to have trouble making it to Paxson, which was still about 30 miles away. It was just too cold for the clothing we had with us.
Putting on my only piece of spare clothing...rookie mistake
Riding near Phelan Creek with the pipeline in the background again

Summit Lake is a 10 mile long lake that runs north and south at the head of the Gulkana River. Its at about 3300 ft elevation and is still completely covered with ice. When we got to Summit Lake we were riding in a 45 degree (steady) rain along the exposed lake shore into a ridiculous headwind (coming across the ice covered lake) was seriously cold. We knew we were about 10 miles from Paxson and a lodge/gas station/restaurant, but weren't sure we wanted to do the final descent in those hands were already starting to get dysfunctional. We stopped briefly so that Rocky could put a plastic trash bag he found on the side of the road inside of his jersey to block the wind a little better and talked about the descent into Paxson and how much it was going to suck. Rocky said that he saw a light on in a cabin a quarter mile back. We knew that meant somebody was there because there is no electricity in that area. It took us about 5 seconds to decide to go back and see if they'd mind us warming up in there cabin.

The owner, Dan from Fairbanks, met us on the porch and welcomed us in. He said he'd saw us ride by and thought we must be "hardcore". We told him we were just a bit stuck in the weather without the proper gear. Dan was there with his son, Shane. They came down for the weekend to do some target shooting and have some some fun. Dan fixed us some coffee and hot chocolate and we warmed up quite a bit before we saw Heather drive down there road an hour later (we had propped our bike by the side of the road so she would see us).

When she got there we loaded up the bikes and hopped in the car and drove to the Tangle River Lodge for dinner. By the time we finished dinner it was 41 degrees and raining harder. The forecast for Sunday was for more of the same weather. Heather knew she wouldn't want to ride a dirt road in those conditions and we decided rather than camp in the rain we'd just head back to FBKS so that we could enjoy the nice weather there on Sunday.

Our ride was 180 miles in about 10.5 hours of ride time.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Technical Mtn Biking in Alaska

Not much to report. I've been riding an hour or so a day. Wednesday I did an hour and a half. Bigger plans for the upcoming weekend.

I've also been told to get more pictures up, so I'll try to do that soon.

Here is a story about mountain biking in Alaska you guys should read...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Hard Part

This is the part of training that I hate and have really blown in the past, but not usually before big races. I hate trying to taper to get the rest my body needs. I know that I need the rest and time off the bike to recover and get to near-peak condition for the start. But mentally its hard for me to go from riding 4-11 hours every day to riding 1 hour a day, without feeling like I'm not doing enough. I get bored. I really like riding and I almost always want to ride more, not less. It sucks.

I've ridden 4.5 hours in the last 4 days (including a race) and feel like I haven't ridden in about a week...

On the plus side my sleep patterns, which were getting pretty bad as I got closer to being "over trained", have gotten a lot better.


I checked the RAAM roster and saw that both Wolfgang Fasching and Jure Robic are now signed up for the race. I'd heard that Wolgang was going to be there but that Jure would not be. That'll be exciting. They are probably the two most accomplished ultracyclists in the world and have a slew of RAAM wins and top 2 or 3 finished between them. That puts three previous RAAM winners (Daniel Wyss, who won last years race, and is on the same level as Wolfgang and Jure) in the race this year. This years roster might lack the marque names (Tinker Jaurez and Jock Boyer) that were in last years race, but will have as much or more strength at the front.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

RAAM Lead-up

So I'm trying to keep what seem like logically separate things in different posts to make this thing more user friendly than a bunch or random thoughts...we'll see if it helps.

My RAAM training is pretty much over at this point. I just need to recover and feel fresh and motivated when I get to Oceanside in early June...barely over two weeks away. I'll still be riding, but my hours will be cut way back, especially this coming week. I probably won't ride more than an hour a day all week. Next weekend I'll probably do one ride in the 150-200 mile range. I'll do a few more short rides with a little intensity, probably in the form of some steep climbs, in the days leading up to my departure. Cutting back the hours works well because I've got a lot of off-the-bike things to get ready before we leave and I'll probably be working quite a bit too.

I'll also try to do a couple 1-2 hour rides on my trainer in our shop with the heaters running to get a taste of extreme heat. I think I can get the shop up to about 95 or 100 degrees. Riding in that with no wind will be oppressive...Other than that it should be a pretty low-key couple weeks.

Skiers Win

I took two more days off completely after I got back to Alaska and then did a race today. It was a pretty interesting new road race called the Three Hill Race. Its really just one hill done three times on three different roads. Each climb has at least one section of +10%. They all climb about 700 ft. In 9 miles there is about 2000 feet of climbing (and 1400 feet of descending). The finish is at the top.

Tyson Flaherty, a phenomenal X-country skier and super strong cyclist, easily won the race. There isn't anybody around here that can come close to Tyson, especially when it comes to climbing. Reese Henneman came in second. Reese is about 17 years old, and another strong cross country skier, he's got huge potential on the bike too. He's starting to figure out how strong he is. Rocky finished third a dozen seconds behind Reese and about a minute in front of me. I felt a lot better than I did in Colorado, making me think that at least part of my problem there was elevation. But I wouldn't say that I felt fresh yet. I'll get some more rest this week and see how I feel next weekend.

Its really good to be back in Alaska. I'm a bit tired of traveling right now. I won't mind the next trip though.

Colorado Wrap Up

After the rides out of Ft Collins I spent most of my time between my brother's house in Big Elk Meadows and my friend Whitney's house in Boulder. I did one ride from Boulder up Lefthand Canyon to Ward, along the Peak-to-Peak Highway to Nederland, and then down Boulder Canyon back to Boulder. This is a really great of the better mid-distance rides in the area...lots of climbing to start; 4000 ft in the first 16 miles. Then a pretty scenic ride on the Peak-to-Peak, and Boulder canyon is one of the better descents around the front range. So its a fun ride, but the first time I did it (Monday, 7/14) my legs still felt really heavy.

I took a day off and then did the same loop again and felt a bit better. When I returned to Boulder on this ride I met Kraig and we did a ride back up Lefthand to Jamestown and then back over Lee Hill back to Boulder. We mostly rode easy and talked. I think this was close to 80 miles and probably a little under 8000 ft of climbing.

My last ride was out of Lakewood, CO with my friend Doug Bittle. We left his house at 8:30 am and rode up Lookout mountain, connected to Highway 40 along Highway 70, and then came back through Red Rocks into Lakewood. This is a really nice ride, especially considering that its right on the edge of such a major metro area. There is very little traffic on the lookout climb and its not super steep or hard, but still goes up over 2000 ft. We rode really easy, got passed by about everybody, and had a good ride.

In the end I got about 8-10 hours less than I had hoped the first week of the trip. Mostly because I made the trip from CO to IA a lot faster than I expected, so no complaints about that. The second week I was too tired to get the hours in I had hoped to. At least I was smart enough to cut the hours and try to rest more. There were times in the past when I buried myself trying to stick to a too-ambitious training plan. Other than it was a good trip, although I would really have liked to have gotten into some really hot weather...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A day in Big Elk Meadows

I spent all day today doing next to nothing at my Brother's house. All I did was update this blog, play with my niece, sleep, and eat. It was really nice. Tomorrow I'm back on the bike.

Colorado riding

I don't figure to get a ton of physical benefit from the training that I'm doing in CO. I think any acclimatization to the altitude that occurs will be lost by the time I get back to CO during the race. Plus I'm a little tired from the Iowa ride and probably need some time to recover physically. But the long climbs are something I haven't gotten much of in the last 7 or so years since I moved from CO to Alaska, and mentally I think there will be a lot of benefit to doing this riding. And living at about 450 feet above sea level I know the 10,000+ ft passes are going to hurt and I want to feel that burning now so I don't freak during the race.

But I've already decided to shorten my trip up by three days and am taking a couple days off in between the harder rides I'm doing.

I got back to CO on Thursday (5/10). Spent all day friday getting things ready in the van, putting a roof rack on it, shopping for some of the supplies I need, etc.

Friday night Tim and I did an easy 1.5 hour ride over the Horsetooth dams. It was a really nice and scenic ride. Probably one of the better 1.5 hour rides anybody has from their front door. Had I not spent a big chunk of the day trying to drive around Ft Collins in ridiculous traffic and getting in peoples way at the Mega-low-Mart I would have probably been thinking "man, we should move to ft collins."

On saturday Roslyn and I rode from Ft Collins to Carter Lake to meet my Friend Kraig and his friend Scott. Kraig is an uber-athlete and loves to climb and we were planning on going up into the mountains a bit. It was a lot further from Tim & Ros' to Carter Lake than we thought so we were a bit late getting there. But Kraig & Scott found us pretty quickly. From Carter we went up to Pinewood Reservoir. Which was really pretty, but not much as reservoirs go. Then came back down to HWY 34 and went up the Big Thompson Canyon, which is easily the flattest canyon ride around here. At Drake we turned off HWY 34 and went up through Glen Haven. This is a little steeper and features two pairs of the tightest switchbacks around during a 1 mile 12 to 14% section. It tops out at nearly 8000 ft just above Estes Park.

Kraig and I had talked about going longer, but my legs were really not feeling good and we had a good ways to get back to Ft Collins, so Ros and I went down HWY 34 and Kraig and Scott went out the Peak-to-Peak HWY to take Lefthand Canyon home.

Ros and I fought a headwind all the way down Big Thompson. I think I decided I don't like that canyon much. I don't mind working hard going up a canyon, but working hard to go down is ridiculous...

After a little drama involving me thinking I'd lost my credit card (only to find it in my wallet back at the house) we got home. The ride was 6.75 hours, 110 miles, and had 7000 feet of climbing. I felt pretty bad for almost all of it. Probably partly from having tired legs and partly from the elevation.

We'll see.

Fauna of the Central US

Since I was riding across a section of the country, and since riding that sort of terrain doesn't require a lot of attention (although a couple times my near complete lack of attention almost cost me) I had time to do some studying.

The most obvious thing to study was the street-crossing skills of the various species of wildlife common to the central US. This is what I think I learned...

1) Possums are not good at crossing streets. I don't know how many possums there may be, but their street-crossing success rate can't be any higher than 50%.

2) Whitetail deer are not very good either. But I think they outnumber possums by about 10 or even 20 to 1. So I'm going to put their success rate at 95 to 97.5%. That still makes for a damn lot of dead deer.

3) After that it gets a little less clear cut. Raccoons seem to be marginally successful...probably around 99% success rate. I also think they stink worse than most other unsuccessfull street-crossers...with the obvious exception of skunks.

4) For the purpose of this study rabbits are a sub-category of raccoons with similar success rates. Although I personally believe rabbits cross roads for the shear excitement of it and sometimes they intentionally cut it pretty close, so the numbers belie there true street-crossing talent. Rabbits are the Mountain Dew drinkers of the animal kingdom. They are X-treme.

5) Rattlesnakes...this is a tough one. There aren't a lot of rattlesnakes in Iowa, but I saw two dead on the road. This could very well be a 100% failure rate. Or maybe not.

6) I'm going to lump all birds into one category and call that category "birds". I saw a lot of dead birds, but I saw a lot of birds on the roadway. I also personally witnessed thousands (literally) of birds cross the road successfully. I think they have a high success rate. Probably over 99.9%. Part of the high success rate may be attributed to their ability to travel above the height of most traffic.

A final thing, since I want this blog to be educational as well as informative, did you all realize that the bird known as the Oriole is really called the "Baltimore Oriole"?? Me neither. I thought it was just the Oriole, and the baseball team from Baltimore is called the Baltimore Orioles. But I looked it up and the bird is called the Baltimore Oriole. I saw a dead one in Nebraska.

Iowa Mini RAAM

The ride from Ft Collins to Davenport was intended to do two things 1) get me to Iowa to pick up the minivan that we will be using as a follow vehicle during the race, and 2) let me get some consecutive long days of riding in to see how my body would respond and how my diet would work during some pretty long, but not RAAM-long days. The picture below is me and my bike loaded and getting ready to leave Ft. Collins during a brief break in the rain.

The ride was 900 miles long. My ride time was 44.25 hours. I did it in five days; so just over 20 mph average speed (for actual ride time, clock time was probably 6-8 hours longer). The ride was four long days to start and a really short day to finish. The weather was really bad for the first three days, but I felt pretty good, even after 4 consecutive 200 mile days, and didn't have any major problems.

Day 1: I had hoped to leave by 8am but it was 42 degrees and raining so I decided to wait a bit. By 10:00am it had stopped raining and Tim and I were ready to leave. Tim had planned to ride about 30 or 40 miles east with me and then turn back for home. 5 miles out of Ft Collins it started raining again. The picture below is Tim putting on his raincoat. In the next 10 miles it got a LOT worse than this...

Ault, CO is about 15 miles from Ft Collins. By the time we got to Ault the temperature had dropped to the high 30's, it was pouring rain, and we had a huge headwind...basically it sucked. Oh yeah, and there was lightning...just for fun. But 15 minutes after Ault we were through the storm and it was sunny and near 50 degrees. That's pretty much the way the day went. I rode through five different thunderstorms of varying degrees of intensity and scariness. If I could get out of the storms into a store or whatever I did, but sometimes on the high plains there just isn't a lot of options...except pedaling really hard. I raced one storm at 30 mph for an hour. That was a one hour TT 6.5 hours into a ride. Not really what I wanted to do, but seemed better than getting struck by lightning or sent to Oz by a tornado. The race went to the storm as it beat me to the grocery store in Haxton, CO by about 5 minutes.

I had hoped to ride through the first night, but about an hour and a half after dark another storm came with wind, rain, and lightning and I stopped in Imperial, Nebraska for the night. I was a little disappointed at having to stop the ride short, but when I got into the motel room I turned on the Weather Channel and felt pretty lucky about getting that far. There were reports of tornadoes all over the place and some ridiculous number of lightning strikes. A tornado had touched down near Sterling, CO about an hour and a half after I rode through there. The forecast for the next day didn't look much better. I'd ridden 197 miles in 9.5 hours (ride time).

Day 2: It was cloudy and cool when I started riding, but at least it wasn't raining. I had a steady tailwind and covered the first 100 miles in 4 hrs 8 minutes. I'm pretty sure that was the fastest 100 I've ever ridden. Over the next couple hours the weather changed a lot the wind moved from due west to due east and it started pouring. I heard thunder, but never saw any lightning. The last 60 miles took longer than the first 100. I got to Hastings, NE right at dark and never considered going any further in that kind of rain. I didn't realize how cold I was until I stopped riding. I stayed in a nice & clean $30/night motel and ordered a pizza for delivery. I'd ridden 209 miles in 10.25 hours.

Day3: I got up at 7am and looked out and it was raining so I went back to sleep. Got up again at 8am and it was still raining but I decided to start riding anyways. It rained lightly but steadily for the first 7 hours. Around Crete, NE so much dirt had been washed onto the road that I had to stop several times and get water from a puddle with one of my water bottles to hose down my drivetrain because it sounded like I was grinding parts with all the grit and sand in there. There had been a huge amount of rain in the area.

As I crossed into Iowa on HWY 2 it cleared up and got pretty nice for the first time. I had decided to take HWY 2 instead of HWY 34 because I didn't feel like fighting more crosswinds to go north to get on 34. This turned out to be a minor mistake. I got almost to Shanendoah,IA and HWY 2 was closed due a roadway being under water at the Nishnabotna River...something like that. I talked to a couple other people about possible re-routes and they only knew of a way that was going to go south into Kansas and I didn't want to go that far south. I back-tracked to Sidney, IA and (eventually) ended up at the Sheriff's office where they told me that they thought I could get through to the east on HWY 34, but weren't too sure because that was out of their county. Anyhow, I headed north and got to Red Oak, IA right at twilight to see a road closed sign. Disheartening for a minute, but as I was approaching I saw that there was a detour to another bridge only a mile or so south. Here is the approach to Red Oak, IA...
It turns out the Town of Red Oak had some serious flooding and there were a lot of people forced out of there homes. A couple of them were in the hotel I stayed at. I felt bad about thinking that the rain and flooding had caused me problems when there were people flooded out of there homes. I'd ridden 218 miles in 11 hours.

The only thing close to a problem that I had happened on this trip. Riding through the rain and all the road grime resulted in a lot of sand and grit getting into my clothing, especially in my shorts. this caused a slightly painfull rash at a lot of the seams. I washed the clothing pretty good that night and things got better the next day.

There was a BBQ place right next to the hotel which I saw as another data point. The people were really nice and friendly, but the BBQ was...not so much.

Day 4: It was beautiful right from the start. The roads in Iowa don't really have a lot of paved shoulders so I rode the white line as close as I could. There was also a lot of truck traffic on HWY 34 which made me a bit nervous, but I never had a horn blown at me and everybody gave me as much room as they could, so it wasn't too bad. Probably also worth mentioning that my legs were a little tired on the second morning, and a little more on the third, but after that they were about the same on the fourth and fifth mornings.

I felt like I was riding pretty good and the day went super fast. The only things that really stands out is the pizza that I had for breakfast at a gas station and an awesome blueberry-raspberry Slurpee that I had in some little town. Oh yeah, and I got chased by too dogs. I generally don't run from dogs, but I was going downhill pretty good when they came after me so I kept going. Those suckers chased me for a mile at about 30 mph!!I had thoughts of riding the rest of the way that night, but without a decent shoulder I really didn't want to be on the roads past dark. So I stopped what I thought was 75 miles from Larry and Noreen's house. I'd ridden 212 miles in 10.5 hours.

Day 5: The first 20 miles were really nerve-racking. No shoulder and constant dump truck traffic...lots of crosswinds making it hard for me to hold the white line. I was wishing I'd have done this section in the dark when at least there wouldn't have been the dump trucks. After Muscatine it was a really nice and quiet ride along the Mississippi River. It ended up being only 63 miles and took 3 hours. I was done at 11:30 am.

Overall the ride went very well. I felt good. Didn't have any vehicle traffic/problems to speak of. Some of the riding, particularly eastern Co and Western NE was absolutely great (minus the weather) with smooth roads, big clean shoulders, no traffic, and a tailwind. That's about as good as cross country riding gets, I think.

I spent the rest of the day at Larry & Noreen's watching birds on their feeders and a geriatric raccoon on the squirrel feeder. Saw a bunch of ruby-crusted crossbills, red-headed woodpeckers, hummingbirds, morning doves, and cardinals. Here's a couple pics...

The next day I drove back to Colorado...the ride was WAY more fun than the drive.

RAAM Training Plan

Okay, it turns out I'm not very good at keeping a blog. I'm doing what I can and I'll try to get a lot of info up in the next couple posts.

I don't really like the idea of "training programs". With me they tend to get too detailed and eventually take some of the fun out of riding. If I was racing twice a week that kind of structure makes some sense. But I need to put in a lot of time and miles and to do that riding has got to stay interesting and fun for me.

But because RAAM is a pretty big race and I felt like I needed (if only for psychological reasons) to be in pretty decent shape at the start, I started out with a big-picture training plan to get ready. Plus, with winter lasting generally into April in Fairbanks I knew I needed to get the most out of the limited training time that was available. The plan had three parts:

1) Work on power & endurance all winter riding on snow. This is sort of a no-brainer. Winter riding is all high-power low cadence, and with the Iditarod trail Invitational in late February I was putting a lot of hours on the bike regardless of RAAM. For most of this time I was riding, running, and lifting weights and getting in 20-25 hours a week.

1b) Take a break in March. I mostly commuted to/from work. Maybe a couple 2 or 3 hour rides on the weekends and one or two (short, slow) runs during the week.

2) Go to Texas and get used to being on a road bike again and really work on leg speed. I figured my power would be pretty good from the winter (and I think it was), but I needed to translate that to the higher cadence of road riding.

The TX training went pretty well and my endurance was really good. In about 15 days of riding in TX I rode 1400 miles, did two group rides/races, and two trail runs (due to rain). I did 100+ mile rides 8 of the last 9 days I was there, and felt pretty decent in all of them. Generally I'd start the rides feeling a little tired and a little slow and then warm up over 2 or 3 hours and start feeling better and riding better. I think these weeks were 34 and 36 hours of riding.

2b) Go back to Fairbanks and get rested for the next training trip. The first week back in FBKS I think I rode around 18 hours, the second week less than 8 hours.

3) A final training trip to the lower 48 (starting in Colorado). This was broken into two parts. The first was a 900 mile unsupported ride from Ft. Collins, CO to to Heather's parents house in Davenport, IA. The second part is some hill climbing and elevation in Colorado.

3b) Go back to Fairbanks and get recovered and ready for the race.

I'm in the middle of part 3 now and everything has gone pretty good so far.


Friday, May 4, 2007

My own blog...thanks to Morgan

Okay, now I've got a blog so I might as well start filling it up with random rantings and 2-minutes discourses on everything that's wrong with everybody...everywhere. No, I don't think this'll be that type of blog. This one will stick pretty close to what I'm doing, and planning to do about the Race Across America this summer.

First, thanks to Morgan for setting this up for me. I told her I wanted to start a blog as a way to let friends and family keep up with my RAAM planning and training, as well as the race itself, and before long she's sending me addresses and passwords. Pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten around to it myself. So I'm glad she took the initiative...

Anyhow, on to the RAAM details...I'm at my friends Tim & Ros's house in Fort Collins, Colorado right now. Tomorrow I'm supposed to start a 4 or 5 day, 950 mile ride to my mother- and father-in-laws house in Davenport, Iowa. And as I should be used to by now, the weather is trying to get in the way. Its about 45 degrees and raining right now and the forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same. I had hoped to ride a minimum of 250 miles tomorrow and if things felt good and the roads seemed safe enough, maybe ride through the night and the next day...stretching it into a 500+ mile ride. Now it looks like that won't happen. That's how it goes. I'll get some miles in either way.

It doesn't seem possible, but I've essentially got only two weeks of training left for RAAM. Especially since I did my first road ride of the year one month ago tomorrow. Coming from Fairbanks I knew my time on the road would be severely limited, that's why I scheduled training trip's to Peter Lekisch's place in TX in April, and to Colorado in May. I knew I had to get a lot out of the little time I had to try and get ready for RAAM. Initially I was really concerned about this scenario, but I think everything is working out okay. I have a huge base after putting in a lot of hours on snow this winter and I feel really fresh and motivated every time I get on my road bike...or have so far at least.

This next week should be the biggest volume week I've ever ridden (races excluded). I should get around 60 hours of riding in. The week after that will be reduced by about 50%. During that time I hope to do a lot of long climbing and high elevation rides around the front range of CO. Then its back to Fairbanks to recover, re-pack, and get ready to head to Oceanside.

This next section is for the bike geeks:

I just finished setting up my Orbea Ora TT bike for the ride to Iowa. Its got two headlights, two taillights, a food pouch on the aero bars, which are about 3 inches higher than they would be an a true aero setup, a second food pack attached to the stem/top tube, a frame pack attached to the top tube/seat tube, a seatpost bottle mount, and a huge rear pack. As Tim said, it looks like it should be a Surly Steamroller or 1978 lugged-steel motobecane touring frame under all the little packs and bags, not a state-of-the-art carbon fiber time machine. Its sort of like renting out a Kentucky Derby contender for 4-hr trail rides. But it works, and doing this ride, on the route I'm doing and without support I need to be able to carry some small amount of gear and food all the time. I'll get a picture of it up here sometime.

That's all.