Sunday, May 30, 2010

Long Live Long Rides!

Just another day in Paradise

Today was one of those rides I love so much, long and epic. Summer seems to finally be here and we are able to ride higher and higher in mountains. I think we topped out at a little over 9,300 feet and I’m pretty sure we would have been snow free at 10,000 feet. What is really encouraging about today, is I rode for over 8 hours with a ton of climbing and it didn’t turn into a death march. Even with the last 10 miles back home against a stiff head wind, I still felt good with enough energy to mow the lawn when I got home.

The day started bright & early, hitting the trail out of the house at 6:30. I rode north along Santa Fe Trail though the Air Force Academy and met Kevin Cahn at the Baptist Road Trailhead. I had a stiff head wind and pretty much time trialed all the way there. In the back of my mind I was thinking I was going a little hard with a full day of riding ahead, but on the other hand… great training!

Yikes! Better ride fast through here!

After meeting Kevin we rode to the NW corner of the Air Force Academy, skirted the shooting range and headed up Dead Man’s Gulch. This is a tough climb. I’ve heard it described as stupid steep and ridiculously long. I kind of like it. After all, the Breckenridge 100 will have a horde of climbs longer and steeper. We proceeded up 40 – 45 minutes or so, riding when we could and pushing when it got too steep and loose.

Kevin taking his bike for a walk

And grunting it too

Once at the top we dropped down to what I call the secret trail, a spectacular single track through Aspen groves that look like scenes from a postcard. At this altitude the Aspens are just starting to bloom. We continued to climb for another hour or so with steep sections requiring the granny. Eventually we hit the trail that drops down to Rampart Reservoir. Absolutely stunning! Rampart has a 14 mile single track surrounding it, outlining the various fingers and coves around the reservoir. Great views of Pikes Peak too.

Rampart  Reservoir

Eventually we came to another “secret” trail. You have to know where this one is because it doesn’t look much like a trail. We climbed up from the reservoir to another trail that climbed then eventually dropped steeply down to Stanley Reservoir. Absolute single track bliss!

Single Track Bliss

We continued to drop past Stanley Reservoir on the very technical Stanley Canyon Trail. There were lots of fallen trees due to the high winds of late, which added to the challenge. Then we headed back toward Dead Man’s Gulch along another incredible and long single track. Eventually we crossed the stream that delivered us to what I call the “secret secret” trail. This is a hidden trail with a great view of the Air Force Academy and a wicked steep rocky drop back on to the Dead Man Gulch trail we climbed earlier. From there it was turn on that full suspension and let it rip! I think it took us maybe 10 – 15 minutes to go down something that took us 45 minutes to climb.

Dropping down on the "Secret Secret" Trail

Once we returned to the trail head, I continued home through the Air Force Academy. The wind had shifted and I was riding in a head wind again. No biggie, it’s an absolute beautiful day and we had an incredible ride!

Miles upon miles of Single Track

I love these rides, just like I love the long epic runs with CRUD. I am just so thankful that my IT Band injury doesn’t prevent me from riding too. I miss the runs, but rides like this more than make up for it. Hope everyone has a great Memorial weekend and take a moment to remember the sacrifices of our young heroes.

My Trusty Steed

Still Not Running

Downtown Colorado Springs from Palmer Park
Well it’s been five weeks since I could run, and the IT Band is still not there. The good thing is I’m getting a lot stronger on the bike, and  riding a lot - 22.5 hours this week!  Had some great rides this week and was able to “mix it up” on the group rides vice hanging on for dear life. It looks like a lot of my running goals may be out the window this year, but I should be stronger at the bike races. So the plan now is to do various mountain bike races in June, then the Bicycle Tour of Colorado for a good hard training week. My next big race will be the Breckenridge 100.  So lots of big climbs at altitude over the next 1 ½ months!

This week’s training log looks something like this:

Mon: Took it easy, the race Saturday & long ride Sunday took a lot out of me. Did some stretching and used that foam roller thing…OUCH!

Tues: AM – Strength Training.  PM - ProCycling Road Ride – 1.8 hrs. What a difference not running 10 -15 miles in the morning makes! I felt really strong the entire ride. Normally, I’m hanging on for dear life. Was up front mixing it up and right up there on the climbs. I was supercharged this evening!

Wed: AM – Technical MTB ride in Ute Park, then rode to work – 1.5 hrs. PM – Easy ride home. Got caught in a hard rain/hail storm, cleared up by the time I got home so continued riding on the Air Force Academy – 2.2 hrs
Ride to Work

Thurs: AM – Hill repeats! 6 * Rossmere hill. Rossmere is a very steep climb that takes me between 5 & 6 minutes. Each climb was faster than the previous. Felt strong! Rode to work afterward – 2.2 hrs. PM: Rode from work to Manitou Springs and met Roswitha for Yoga class – Ride 1 hr, Yoga 1.5 hrs.

Fri: AM – Easy Mountain Bike ride in Ute Park with Max. Was going to do an easy ride to & from work, but Max has been so disappointed that I haven’t been running with him, I took him with me on an MTB ride. He was a very happy dog. Rode easy, focused on technical stuff – 0.8 hrs

4 Hours of this makes for great overall body workout!
Sat: AM – Technical Mountain Bike ride. Rode with Kevin Cahn, a very good technical rider. Technical riding is where I need a lot of work and if your gonna improve you gotta ride with people that are better. Did most of our riding in Palmer Park. So four hours of rocky technical riding. That kind of riding really gives you a full body workout! – 4.5 hours
Sunday: AM  - Epic Mountain Bike ride. First real epic ride this year. Great back country ride up to a little over 9,000 ft (anything higher still has snow). Long Steep climbs, fun descents, amazing single track! 5,600 ft of climbing. - 8.4 hrs

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ups & Downs

After such a great ride Sunday, I'm really stoked about how fast I healed. No IT pain during the ride! I decided to wait one more day before running just to make sure. So I'll wait until Monday morning. I'd rather wait a couple days then end up having to wait weeks to run.

Mon: Strength workout

Tues: The IT Band was feeling pretty good Monday & Tuesday morning. After two weeks of no running, I finally went out this morning. Max, who got up every morning these past two weeks only to be disappointed when I didn’t take him running, went completely bonkers when I said “Let’s go run”. I think he was the happiest dog in the world.

Had a great but short (30 min) run and Max must have chased a dozen rabbits. We came home with Max’s tongue hanging out and what looked like the biggest smile a dog can have.

Went mountain biking with Kevin Cahn after work. Had a great ride with some decent climbing in Cheyenne Canyon. IT band felt good.

Kevin on Cap'n Jacks

Wed: Went for a short morning run with Max in Ute Park. About ½ hour into it, IT band started to hurt bad. I have no idea why. No sign of it coming on. Pretty much limped the rest of the way home. The rest of the day it was painful just to walk. This is much worse then it was the last two weeks. I don’t know if I can ride a bike. I decided to give it a rest and not ride home tonight. Looks like I won’t be running for a while. Hopefully I can still ride.

Thurs: Still hurting pretty bad. I was able to get an appointment at Synergy Physical Therapy. Wow was I impressed! Lots of adjustments, dry needle therapy, stretches etc. We'll see how it goes, but I'm optimistic. Didn't ride the bike today, so I still don't know if I can ride. Resting the IT band and letting it heal is probably more beneficial then getting in a ride. Maybe tomorrow.

Fri: Took it easy again today. Just rode to and from work. It appears the work at Synergy did some good. The knee felt pretty good today. Still think I’m a ways off before I can start running again.

Sat: Decided at the last minute to enter the Ascent Cycling series MTB race in Palmer Park today. I wasn’t sure if I was up for racing, but it is a local race so I wanted to support it. Got there early and rode the course. This is definitely one of the more technical race courses around. For the Pro & CAT 1 racers they even through in Templeton Trail. This is a very technical trail that has some pretty tricky sections. Spent 1 ½ hours warming up. On the start line there were only 3 CAT 1 50+ racers, so all I had to do was finish to get 3rd. We started with a moderate climb and I took the lead about a ¼ up and opened a gap by the top. Held the lead until we got to the Templeton Trail. Dropped to 2nd and 1st opened a pretty sizable gap through the technical section. After Templeton, there are a series of climbs both technical and non-technical and I regained the lead going up the final climb. Hammered the climb hard to try to open a gap before Templeton. Once we dropped back down to Templeton, I crashed pretty hard. Their web site has a picture of me carrying my bike with a bloody wrist Was able to keep the lead all the way through Templeton but then crashed over the handlebars. Got caught, he actually stopped to make sure I was all right and even held my bike while I got up. I then caught and passed him early in the first climb then hammered every climb to get as big as gap as possible. Had my best pass through Templeton on the last lap and hammered the climbs to win the old guy race. I was a great course and what a difference racing for 1 ½ hours vs. 12 hours. I haven’t had a sustained heart rate that high since last summer!

During the race a lot of the spectators were warning us of a bear on the course.  Matt Simmons who was running third in the pro race came around a bend upon a mother bear and two cubs. She reared up, made some threatening gestures and of course he stopped. As racers from behind caught up they were all stopped waiting for the bear to leave. One guy started to go forward but nobody went with him. He stopped and said something like “I’m from Missouri, you guys seem to know what you’re doing so I’ll wait too” Great race, IT band feels decent, had lots of fun, although I’m pretty bruised up from the crashes. Glad I went!

Sunday: Riding with the Girls!

Had the pleasure or riding with Kara Durland (the single speed queen) & Sharon Larsen (the stud of studs) on a recovery road ride, since we all three raced yesterday. We rode for about 2 ½ hours enjoying the perfect weather and this incredible place we call home. Did a couple climbs (Gold Camp & Crystal Park) as well as a loop around Garden of the Gods. I was feeling really good so after Kara and Sharon headed home I climbed Cheyenne Canyon, Orion, and Flying W at a steady (not fast) pace for a total of 5 hours riding and 5,560 ft of climbing. Felt fantastic. My Knee feels fine riding. Iced & stretched once I got home.

Sharon & Kara
It’s definitely been an up & down week. Everything from wondering if I can even ride to winning a race yesterday and enjoying an incredible ride with two incredible people today. If anything, not being able to run gives me a lot more energy for some quality riding!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Races, Injuries, Recovery, Back in the Saddle

It’s been a while! With the spring weather coming around and training, work, travel to races, and now yard work, the BLOG kind of fell by the wayside. An injury finally made me slow down and gave me some time to reflect and write about the last couple weeks. I’d been pushing it pretty hard; a marathon, DawntilDusk, White Rim Trail, then picking up the intensity in my training, averaging 50 - 60 miles a week running, plus lots of riding to include hill repeats and high intensity group rides. After DawntilDusk I re-evaluated my race schedule and decided doing the Collegiate Peaks 50 mile run then the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde MTB race on back to back weekends was probably not a good idea and dropped Collegiate Peaks. My legs were getting very tired during and after runs, so I didn’t think I could competitively run 50 miles. So after White Rim I thought (even though I was tired from not having taken a break for several weeks) I could get one more hard week then an easy week before 12 hours of Mesa Verde. During that week I strained my IT Band and couldn’t run at all. It hurt while riding but was bearable. That definitely forced and easy week before Mesa Verde.

Mesa Verde was a blast. A great weekend with great company topped off with a fantastic race course. It was also the first mountain bike race for 2 time Leadville Trail 100 Run winner, Paul_DeWitt/.  He didn’t mess around either, signing up for the solo category. The course was a rough 16.4 mile loop that beat you up pretty good. No significant climbs, but lots of rollers and short power climbs. I prefer the long climbs myself. Lots of tight twisty single track. An incredibly fun course for 1 or 2 laps. An incredibly rough beat the crap out of you course at 12 hours. Anyway the race went well, I stayed steady throughout, and never felt like I needed to quit. Never had any “Oh man this sucks” moments. My IT band hurt fairly bad for the first four laps then the pain magically went away. I flatted on the 4th lap, just after I gave my Co2 cartridge to someone else that flatted. Luckily Kervin Quiones came by and threw me his. In the end I finished 3rd in the Geezer category with 7 laps in a little over 12 hours. Alan Keefe used a helmet cam on one of his laps of the course and got some cool video of the course. Check it out:

The rest of the week I forced to recover. I was exhausted and couldn’t run with the IT issue. Riding a bike seem to aggravate it also. So my only workouts this week were very easy rides to and from work on my road bike. Spent some time at one the best chiropractors in town, Randy Knoche at Springs Chiropratic and saw dramatic improvement after every visit. This injury actually had a lot of good positive aspects to it. I could sleep in every morning until 5:30 instead of the usual 4:00 since I didn’t workout. The extra sleep was great, I could get used to that. It also forced me to take the rest that I knew I needed and probably would not have taken. So I took it very easy this week and didn’t do anything on Saturday. I thought about how pathetic I am in that if I’m not running or riding, I don’t know what to do with myself. Roswitha found things for me to do though.

Today, my IT band is feeling totally healed. Went out on a good 70+ mile group road ride and had a blast. I felt great, the best & strongest I’ve felt in a while. The ride was incredible, we were like kids out playing, attacking each other on the climbs, randomly sprinting to road signs, and absolutely loving life. I’m back, batteries recharged, excited about training again, and looking forward to the next eight weeks of preparing for my hardest race of the year, the Breckenridge 100. It's good to back!