Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A very rough first draft

When I was in about first grade, I started riding bikes alongside my dad as he would run. We would usually go five or six miles five times a week. Sometimes I would get tired, and my dad would give me pushes to motivate me and keep me going. Going on these rides, which at the time seemed forever long helped teach me to get to the finish line. I couldn't stop or quit on these rides, I had to keep going. Stopping far from home was pointless, I would have had to keep riding to get home anyway. My dad would be disappointed if I quit as well, and I didn't want to disappoint him. So I pushed through, and rode through any pain until I reached home. This is how I learned to love riding bicycles, and learned to experience the joy that lays in obtaining what seems unreachable by pushing through to the finish.

My love of cycling has never diminished, even though it was interrupted by school sports and a two year volunteer mission for my church. While cycling has always been an important part of my life, it has played a secondary role behind school, work, and family. I have been able to adjust my seasonal cycling goals accordingly. This past summer I was able to dedicate a little more time to cycling than I had in the previous few years, as I was completing my undergraduate degree in the spring and had flexible full time work in the summer, and I was no longer a "newlywed." In March, two of my friends and I decided to train for and race the Breckenridge 70 in Colorado. The Breckenridge 70 is a 70 mile endurance mountain bike race that features more than 9,000 vertical feet of climbing and takes place entirely at 9,000 feet above sea level or higher.

Having never competed in this type of race brought new challenges to me. I had to train harder and prepare better than I had for any race I had done previously. Having no idea of course conditions, other than a rough elevation profile, made it particularly difficult to plan for as well. Another factor was that we did not decide to do, or even know about the race until March which is when the racing season begins. A typical training regimen includes long, steady rides in the winter during the 'base' period to build endurance. Once the racing season starts workouts become shorter and faster to build high end speed. Because I was planning on doing only shorter races until we decided to do this race, my base was not really adequate for a 70 mile race. I spent the winter doing moderate length workouts and snowboarding, hardly enough work for such a long race! As such, I had to figure out how to fit in long endurance rides while still getting my fast workouts in and not being worn out for my shorter races during the spring and summer. I accomplished this by doing long rides on the weekends that had no races, missing a few races, and by doing an additional easy rides after races.

Preparing for the race also involved equipment preparation. I made small tweaks and changes to my bike during the regular racing season. I treated a few of these races as experiment sessions. In the first race of the season, I learned that I could not race on a new lightweight tire setup I had been trying. The tires were too thin and tore twice in the rocky Southern Utah desert. I experimented with gearing setups, trying to find an optimal ratio that was as minimal as possible. I discovered that just one chainring at the pedals provided adequate gearing for me and was much simpler than what most racers use, a set of three chainrings. I experimented with several lightweight parts and found a happy middle ground that was both light and durable. I experimented with different modes of calorie consumption. Trying to consume 200-300 calories per hour and not get sick to my stomach while riding proved difficult. I decided on a mix of sports drink, energy gels, and solid foods would likely work best. Going into this race, I felt that I had my equipment absolutely dialed in.

As race time closed in, I felt that my equipment was ready, and my fitness, acceptable. I was in great shape, but apprehensive about the distance and my overall endurance. As the race played out, my first 15 miles were amazing, which I expected due to my good short distance fitness. About 20 miles in I really started suffering. My body was not happy. However, I made an awesome discovery. My mind was totally ready for the suffering. I was able to stay mentally fresh almost the entire race and keep my body going through all of the tough climbs, no matter how dead and sluggish my legs felt. My body fell apart, but my mind stayed strong and helped my body to keep going. I had no mechanical issues, so my mind only had to focus on my body pressing forward. When my stomach could no longer handle solid foods, I was able to rely solely on energy gels and liquids. Before that race I could hardly swallow gels, but I knew that I had take in calories in order to keep going.

Upon finishing the race, I knew that I had just obtained a major victory. I didn't make the podium, not even for my age group, but I did have a stellar first endurance race. On top of that, my mind had been able to stay strong when everything was telling me to stop or take it easy. Being able to push on when it got tough, when my legs thought it was impossible, made me more joyful than I had ever previously been on a bike, and gave me an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Snow Day

better than a slushy ride

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

XTRa rotors

I have a few extra XTR centerlock rotors:
I wish I had a bike for everyone of these. Let me know if you need one. They are all 140mm for rear only.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Roadie BMX

Last night at the races, while staging for a moto, a kid asked me how I got Dura-Ace cranks to fit on my bike. I looked down, saw them, and exclaimed "Woah, how'd those get on there???

Those are for roadie bikes!" It's no secret that DA 7800 cranks are some of the prettiest ever. And, as Calvin says, if you're not fast, you better look good. And, since I had a pair of these beauties "just laying around," I figured, why not. Plus, those stock BMX cranks are heavy, like 1300 grams. These suckers cut my rotating crank weight in half! And, it only took about 2 hours, 2 bent wrenches, a drill driver, an air cutter, a grinder, and a 4 foot long jimmy-bar to do it. Well, that was just to get the BMX cranks off. The dura ace cranks went on pretty smoothly after that. Just install the BB, crank, check chainstay clearances, remove BB, install spacers and BB, install crank, check cleareances and spindle offset, rinse and repeat. But yeah, they fit. They're light. And they look really good. The Ultegra post is a nice addition too. Road parts are for BMX bikes too.

First Place Loser Shelf

Ashleigh has dedicated the top shelf of our bookcase as the "first place loser shelf"

Highlights from last night's BMX include jumping a table riding my own bike (at last), and Dan racing 20s and 24s. Suh-weet.