Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Long Live Long Rides

I do a lot of long rides and don’t say epic too often, but Saturday was a pretty epic day on the bike.  7.5 hours and 13,500 feet of climbing in the San Gabriel Mountains to Mt Baldy and Crystal Lake via Glendora Mountain Road.  My legs and energy were good throughout, but it was definitely too hot to be riding that long!  For what a crowded busy place SoCal is these particular roads are surprisingly not too busy with traffic.  And with the 4th of July holiday Glendora Mountain was actually closed to cars (due to high fire and drunk driving danger) so cyclists took over the road in the morning.  It was really cool to see.  And temperatures were also nice for the first half  of the ride up to Baldy.  The second half to Crystal Lake got a little dangerous with the heat though.  I had gone through about 6 bottles the first half of the ride and was still hydrated but the climb to Crystal lake is over an hour and it had to be 100 degrees up there at an average speed of about 6 miles per hour.  Not good.  I’ve never had this happen before but after riding with my hands on the tops of the bars for a few minutes, when I moved them back to the hoods they were almost too hot to hold.  Anyway about 30min into the climb I was getting too hot and knew one bottle of warm water wouldn’t get me to the top.  I was about to turn around when I saw a faucet in the shade at an entrance to a small camping area.  Thank God the water was cold so I doused myself and filled up my bottles for the rest of the climb.  It was still a long couple hours before I made it back to the car but I knew there was a store to stop at and that one water stop made the whole difference on being able to do the whole route in the heat.


The 2 week training block I’m in the middle of is planned to maintain my high end fitness while maximizing my endurance.  The 3 races I’m training for will all be 5-7 hours long, so my aerobic fitness has to be really high.  Basically my key rides are 2 intensity rides during the week – one at some short (3-5min) climbing repeats at a really high intensity above race pace, one tempo ride with about an hour at endurance race pace, and an endurance ride the length of my races (6-7 hours).  So far so good!

Now back to work so I can make it out on time for my repeats on Ridge Park this evening. 







Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Getting it done - working hard towards some big summer races

Time flies!  Between work, riding, and playing with Cameron the days have just been flying by.  I can’t wait until August when we have a true vacation planned.  In the meantime I’ve been having some good times training hard and a few bumps in the road as well like a water leak at home and a tight hamstring that’s been nagging me for weeks now.  Mountain biking is a tough sport where success doesn’t come quickly so I’ve learned to enjoy the process and not focus too much on results.  But I love routine when I’m going through the process and having my routine thrown off a little adds some more stress to the day.  Life is good, it’s just challenging to balance the training and rest needed to be in top shape with everything else going on!

I was able to put in a couple very solid weeks of training in the middle of June.  After the 6 hours of Temecula I did a base week with another 18 hours of riding with a ton of climbing followed by a week with less time but more intensity including 2 weeks in a row racing Over the Hump.  I got my butt kicked both times, but I was racing fairly tired and that’s probably exactly what I needed.  I was tempted to do even more training after the poor results at OTH, but instead followed my plan and took a short rest week.  Now it’s time to get back after it with 2 more solid weeks on the bike before tapering back for the 3 big races I have planned for the summer…

July 26 – Big Bear Grizzly 100
Aug 9 – Leadville 100
Aug 30 – Park City Point to Point

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden in some big mountains, but that's the riding that I love most.  All 3 of these courses will really put me to the test, and that's exactly what I'm looking for!  


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm still at it!

It's been a while since I've had any updates here, but I'm still at it!  Since the Whiskey 50...

We got to visit Catalina for the Gran Fondo.  I rode ok, but not strong enough to take on the full Sho-Air team.
 
 We had a great weekend in Texas with family
 I got the win at the 6 hours of Temecula
 Did a lot more training
 Had a water leak at home
And plenty of good times with Cameron!

Work is keeping me busy and training is on track for a couple big races where I'm hoping to do something special later this summer.  Thanks for checking-in!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Training Hard is the Easy Part!

When it comes to racing with a family and full-time job, training is definitely not the hard part.  Riding is fun and at least for me, riding hard is even more fun.  

Working, time, money and resting are the hard part.  To be happy and successful you first have to keep everything in perspective and realize most of our biggest commitments in life are all blessings in themselves.  That's hard to do in the moment when you're tired and have 10 more things to get done on a busy day.  And the culture around us only makes our stressful days seem even worse.  We're all expected to work long hours and keep up with the Jones's, while only sharing things that make us look good on Facebook and everywhere else.  Sorry if I sound like I'm preaching, but this blog is where I preach to myself and I struggle with this a lot (including the last couple weeks) so I'm going to preach some more.  

Being driven to work hard and be successful at bike racing is a good thing.  But only as long as you don't burn yourself out or hurt your relationships with the people you love.  So when you're frustrated that things aren't going to plan, or you have too much going on to ride more, take a minute to BE THANKFUL.  Be thankful that you have a job and income, be thankful you have a hyper kid to come home to and entertain after a long day, be thankful you're healthy enough to ride at all.  THEN if you combine that attitude with some good planning you will definitely GET MORE OUT OF THE RIDING AND RACING YOU CAN DO.  


With so many fast guys at the Whiskey 50, I had a good ride but it wasn't enough for a great result.  Still had a great time with my girls!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vision Quest

Better late than never for a post on the Vision Quest I hope...  It was an awesome day!!

There are some things that make the VQ special and the excitement on race morning remains the same just as high for me even though I've done it multiple times now.  Waking up at 3:30 you know you're going to have an epic day regardless of the end result!

It's the same for everyone on the start line, fast or not so fast.  The funny thing is the guys mid pack talk about how cool it must be, or ask what it's like to do the race in 5 hours.  Ryan and I talk about what it would be like when we ride it for fun one day, stop at the aid stations and grab a burger on West Horse Thief.  The VQ can be hard to explain to people who haven't done it.  Like telling all my co-workers how it's one of the most biggest races of the year to any mountain biker in Orange County, even though there are no prizes or even a podium presentation if you win...  But that's just one of the things that makes it so cool.  I hope that never changes.

As far as the race goes, I didn't get off to my best start ever.  I know some of my splits and was riding a minute or two off of the pace from the last 2 years.  There was a group of 3-4 leaders that got away early and were soon out of sight with a lead that I didn't exactly know, but figured it had to be a solid few minutes.  I was feeling pretty good in the middle of the day going to the peak though, holding a steady pace with Ryan, and still knew that anything was possible.  For 3.5hrs I pushed myself while at the same time trying to be patient and confident mentally.  I had a great descent down Holy Jim and sure enough the same thing happened as 2 years ago, I caught the leaders right at the bottom.  I had a 2nd wind mentally but had to work really hard physically to climb up to Horsethief with Joel Titus without cramping.  At that point I knew I was having a good day and would leave it all out there trying to win.  When he did have a little issue, I didn't look back, just pushed myself, thought about how my family has always supported me, and did some praying all the way down to the finish.

For me, this year's VQ was truly about seeking what God wanted to do with me more than anything else.  After a great winter of training my first couple races of the year did not go as planned.  Even before then I've been questioning my racing a lot.  Is it taking away too much from my family?  Is the challenge of trying to balance my schedule outweighing the fun?  Am I done getting any better?!

On Saturday the 5th I was able to put in one of those rare efforts where I was pushing myself to the limit, but loving it.  All my questions about life weren't answered, but I did feel that love for racing again.  And I feel like I brought God just a little bit of glory doing what he made me to do.







Friday, April 4, 2014

Austin Rattler and the Vision Quest

Sometimes I don't have the time or energy to write an interesting or entertaining post, but here is a short and sweet update...

My trip to Texas last week had some ups and downs.  It was great to see family, but tough to see my  sister Kath have a bad crash.  I did qualify for Leadville, but was way off from the performance I was hoping to have at the race.

This week has been hectic at work, but I've had some nice evenings at home with Beth and Cameron.  My legs are rested and this evening is all about getting mentally ready to ride as well as I know I can at the Vision Quest tomorrow.  Life is messy, but God has been good to me.  Tomorrow I want to pour out the energy and love for riding that God has given me and simply enjoy the moment.

Friday, March 21, 2014

NUE - True Grit Epic

The True Grit Epic in St George last weekend was a great time with my girls, but I had a tough day on the bike.  The trails used in the True Grit are awesome and I was having a lot of fun on the technical desert single track.  The race was going really well for me with the leaders only a couple minutes up after the first of 2 big laps, but I faded pretty hard the last third of the race and was not riding well or having any fun out there.  When a race is 7 hours long, the last third is a long time to ride while feeling tired and getting some serious leg cramps (and in 30mph winds)!!  I ended up 4th.  I love endurance races, but there is a huge difference in pace and effort between a 4 and 7 hour race.  Both can be similarly hard if the 4 hour race is tough enough and fast enough, but the overall fatigue on a 7 hour race is brutal and it's hard to feel strong or fast at the end.

It was a combination of pacing, hydration, and coming off being sick that kept me from having a better day.  The first 2 of those were totally in my control and I was really disappointed after the race.  After a solid winter of training, and skipping the first few local races I was ready to ride well and challenge for the win.  Now that will have to wait for another day.  I've basically been resting all week so I can have a solid weekend of training before heading to the Austin Rattler on the 29th.  Can't wait to see family, friends and race in Tx again!







No road trip is complete without eating Subway in a gas station in your pajamas!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Training Part 2 - Training in the Real World

Well after my last post my "sick week" turned into 2.5 weeks and I was finally back to normal only a few days ago...  I was able to do some decent riding throughout and possibly pushed things a little too much a couple weekends ago.

As I wrote about last time the overall outline of effort and rest for your training plan is really important.  Beyond that the number one factor for success has to be the quality of your workouts.  And for those of us that live in the real world that also means being efficient with our time.  So you've hopefully heard - make your hard rides HARD and your easy rides EASY.  Also within that you should define a hard ride to be a certain intensity level OR endurance.  Make your high intensity rides HARD and your long rides LONG.  

For the longer races I'm training for that means my long rides are 4+ hours and usually 5-6 hours.  In the winter I'll have a few weeks where I do these back to back but after that there's no need for just about anyone to have more than one ride of that length per week.  If you combine that with a couple solid intensity days per week and minimize your riding on easy days, you can be successful and avoid the trap of simply riding more to get better.  

My intensity days vary the most throughout the season as my training ramps up, but most weeks only involve 2 solid days of training during the work week.  Last week for example I planned hard days for Tue and Thur.  I wasn't feeling well and skipped my Tuesday ride, then did some threshold work on my mountain bike Thursday morning.  I did 3 efforts about 10 minutes each right at threshold.  My total ride was only about 1:45 but I got in an awesome workout.  Sunday I was able to do something similar, but a bigger effort at 3x20min.  Both days though I knew leaving my front door that I was going to hit those efforts no matter what.  The rest of my week was based around those efforts so as long as I was healthy I was sure to put in really good efforts on those rides.  

My easy days have become easier than ever.  Lately my recovery rides are a commute to work and back - 15-20 minutes each way taking it really easy and that's it.  Which leads to...

The things that have helped me the most in balancing solid training with everything else:

Riding to and from work.  If you can leave extra clothes and food at work this can be a HUGE time saver.  Get creative and make it happen.  In the winter I training in the morning and end up at work.  Then an easy spin home in the evening.  In the summer I do the opposite when there is more daylight in the evening.  

Don't drive to do rides unless you have to.  Of course this one depends on where you live, but driving somewhere to ride takes a lot of time that could be spent pedaling.  

In season all rides have to have a focus - easy, intensity, or endurance. 

Ride with people who have the same training goals as you.  Ride with groups sparingly.  I'm a little anti-social this way, which is tough because I love riding with friends.  But group rides or meeting up with friends always takes up more time and I need to be spending time with my girls.

Snack well during the day and get a little rest at lunch.  I'm trying to get better at this myself.  

Have fun, enjoy the time you are on the bike.  Yeah I plan my riding and take it more seriously than most.  But at the same time when I'm out there pedaling, even if I'm working really hard, it can be the most peaceful part of my day.  It's my time to unwind, connect with God, and just enjoy something he wired me to do.  




I can't complain about the weather here, but an amazing day on Saturday was really welcome after getting soaked in the rain both days and crashing my road bike last weekend...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Base Training

After taking a rest week and being sick for over a week, it's good timing for me to write about training.  I know most everyone reading this, and most everyone that rides period, does so around a normal life, family and work.  So hopefully some of the training strategy that's worked for me over the years may help some of you out as well.  The "good timing" is because I can remind myself at the same time that I really have gotten in some solid training so far this year even though it didn't feel that way this past week.

Sept - Nov - I had a really long off season this year and haven't done a race in 6 months now.  After Leadville in August, I spent the next 3 months without any road riding and did whatever mountain bike rides I felt like.  On average that was about 2 rides per week with just a few random hard efforts and long rides thrown in.

December - In December my goal was simply to be more consistent and I was getting in 4 rides per week with one long one (5+ hours) on the weekend plus doing a pretty solid core workout twice a week.

Jan endurance block - after a week off the bike over the Christmas Holiday I took advantage of some extra time off work for New Years and did a really big endurance block.  In 8 days I rode about 30 hours with about 40,000ft of climbing.

Doing a focused block of rides like that every couple of months can give you some really good results compared to smaller incremental changes that you might see when keeping a similar routine week after week.   It's probably not a good idea for most people to have a huge jump in volume like I did, but I know from experience that my body reacts to the endurance rides really well.  If I were doing multiple days of hard intervals in a week I would personally have to be a lot more careful to not over do it.  But doing a similar training block like this at however many hours is a stretch for you can give big improvements.  Our it might be an intensity block right before your racing season starts.  Either way it's a good strategy to consider and can be balanced well with work if you do 2 big weekend, rides, 2-3 weekday rides, then 2 more big weekend rides, followed by the rest period.

The training period / block I work with most is a 2 week stretch, followed by 5-6 easy days.  I find this a lot easier to focus on compared to a 3 week training block that a lot of people go by.  It's better to be focused, and push a little harder for 2 weeks, compared to stretching things out for 3 weeks.  I follow-it up with a 5-6 day rest week and repeat.

Late Jan - The 2nd half of January I did 2 solid weeks of about 15 hours with a focus on endurance and introduced a little intensity with short power intervals one day per week and some tempo climbing on one of my big weekend rides.

Early Feb - The first half of February was another solid 2 week block at about 16 hours per week with my weekday intensity ride being some VO2 climbing repeats on the mountain bike and my other key rides being a hard tempo road ride on the Saturdays followed by a really big mountain bike ride on both Sundays.

Late Feb - After my rest / sick week it's time for 2 more weeks of building before the racing starts.  My intensity days will focus on efforts right around my threshold with one more real big endurance ride the first weekend and then tapering down to a more moderate endurance ride the 2nd week.

Then it's time to put it all together on race day!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Enjoying the Routine

After fighting a cold all week I had to sit out the Harding Time Trial this morning.  I wanted to be out there racing but it was really nice to have a chill morning with my girls.  Sometimes the best laid plans don't work out and you just have to listen to your body.  The last few weeks have been busy, but I've had some great training and even better times with Beth and Cameron...

 Rolling out early
 Some amazing sunrises!
 I know every bump on the bike trails here
 Where I spend most of my time
Burning through my snack drawer
 Checking mail
 Cameron helps with training plans
Lots of big climbing on the weekends
Cameron at her new desk

Friday, February 14, 2014

Spring Schedule - It's Time for Some Mountain Bike Racing!

Well here we go, I just registered for my first race, the Harding TT!  It's time to do some racing!  On the heels of the big announcements about the prize money for the PRO XC series, I'm as confident as I've ever been in my focus on endurance races.  I'm truly happy with the effort I put into racing national level cross country events and accomplished some big goals including a couple top 10 finishes and earning enough UCI points to race a world cup.  I still love cross country racing, but my inspiration has moved on to bigger landscapes, and my legs must follow!

Here is my plan for the Spring which will be followed right up with a couple big goals for the summer, still to be locked in based on how my first couple spring races go...




Wish me luck and see you at the races!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sometimes we need a tough week to remind us that we don't have it that bad

Last week I had a challenging week, mostly just busy and stressed at work, while catching a cold and not feeling well late in the week.  Of course I know that being stressed at work or having a cold during training season is not that big of a deal.  But at the time it's easy for our minds to start racing about how that busyness and lack of energy is keeping us from what we really want to be doing.  Being in a better mood when I'm home with my girls in the evening, getting in training rides, going to visit family, simply feeling positive about my work and not overwhelmed...  At least that's how it is for me, when my days gets out of balance I start exaggerating everything in my mind.

Well as I was getting ready to write this I found out that a 21 yer old local cyclist and employee of Jax Bicycle Center was killed while riding on Santiago Canyon on Sunday morning.  It's such sad and terrible news, and really puts things back into perspective.  We're called to live with an attitude of thankfulness and joy, even on the bad days.  Be thankful for all the positive things you have in your life TODAY.  Do something to help or encourage a friend or co-worker.  Hug the one's you love and tell them you love them!   I'm heading home from work to do that right now...