Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bike Lust

My appreciation for 29ers runs pretty deep. That's all I've ridden for a few years. But then Felt announces this:
2011 Felt Virtue LTD. I'm in love with that Yellow over carbon. After suffering through 70 miles of rough rigid riding in Breckenridge, I think this might just be the ticket. I think I've probably stared at this picture for 15 minutes today.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Race Report - Breck 68

At the start

Finishing Round 1

Round 2: What? 30 more miles?

I'll keep it short and sweet, and just say that if you haven't done this race, and if it's not on your future race calendar, it needs to be. This is one of the best run, most fun, hardest races out there. Dan said it well: it's full of ups and downs. And the ups and downs are both amazing. A 10 mile singletrack climb right of the gate, with some of the most scenic views you'll never notice coz you're trying so hard to keep the wheels turning. A fun "BMX track" descent with a bunch of rollers you can pop off of or manual through. More singletrack on the awesome Colorado Trail. Some of the biggest berms to bring you in to start your next lap. More singletrack. More climbs. More descents. If 8200' of climbing in 70 miles isn't enough, you can go for the 13000' in 100 miles option. All on the most beautiful high altitude singletrack out there.

I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face the entire race, even through my patent pending 4th hour funk that hits me at every endurance race. The part where I could barely turn the pedals, or even walk up the 15-18% grade 1 mile climb.

I bested my last years time by 35 minutes. I think this single speed thing helps me ride faster. Gearing for the last 12 mile 3-5% climb helped me push through the entire course, although I'm sick of running these huge gears. I'm putting a 22t on for the rest of forever. Some suspension might be a good idea, too. Anybody interested in a fat-tire road bike? I have one for sale.

It was great having Ashleigh there halfway through to shove some shot blocks in my pockets and swap my bottles out. Unfortunately, she missed my finish because she was taking care of our good friend Larry, who went all Paul Bunyan on a tree - with his shoulder. A few broken ribs and a shattered scapula means that the tree probably won. Hopefully he'll have a speedy recovery. Between Larry, Jay, and Rick, I think Ashleigh is glad I'm on my way to law school.

With cycling taking the backseat for the next three years, it was great to end the season the way it started: with a great result at an endurance race.

Race stats:

49 shot blocks
8 bottles of carborocket and/or water
4 redbull shots (magic)
1 redbull sugarfree
13 new verses to Lady Gaga songs (which I'm sure are make total sense)
1 slow speed "I can totally ride this even though I've been riding 50 miles and can't feel my hands" endo onto a railroad tie.
71.4 smile inducing miles
1 potty break
34x20 max gear ratio
34x20 avg. gear ratio
Home, showered, and back for awards in 45 minutes. Now that's fast!

I finished on the podium.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


A few months ago, I was applying to law school as part of my application, I submitted a personal statement. I wrote about a certain race I did last year (It's about 1000 words, you don't have to read it:

When I was in first grade, I started riding my bicycle 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. 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 and sense of accomplishment that can be found by pushing through to the finish.

Fast forward a few years, and I still love cycling, and that feeling that comes at the end of a long, difficult challenge. I’ve felt it numerous times in cycling, school, and service. I felt it after my semester long econometrics research project. I felt it every night after the 14-16 hour days I put in with a volunteer dental group that I translated for and assisted in the Dominican Republic. I felt it this summer as I completed the Breckenridge 70, a 70 mile mountain bike race in high-altitude Colorado.

I have been competing in cycling events since 2000, but the Breckenridge 70 was unlike any other I had ever participated in. It was three times longer and had four times as much climbing as any other race I had done. 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. I had to alter my training schedule by putting in longer rides than I would have for shorter races, and adding additional training to my already busy racing schedule. I also missed several races I had hoped to do in order to spend more time training for this race.

Preparing for the race also necessitated several changes to my equipment. I made small tweaks and upgrades to my bike during the regular racing season. I treated a few of these races as experiment sessions. I tried different tires and found a good tire that wouldn't flat or tear in rocky conditions and was still very light. I experimented with gearing setups, trying to find an optimal range of gear ratios that was still as minimal as possible. I tested different parts and found ones that were both light and durable. I experimented with different modes of calorie consumption, as consuming 200-300 calories per hour and not get sick to my stomach while riding proved difficult for me. I felt that I had taken every step possible to ensure my success.

As race time closed in, I felt that my equipment was ready, and my fitness was acceptable. I was in great shape, but apprehensive about the distance and my overall endurance. The first 15 miles of the race were amazing, which I expected due to my good short distance fitness. However, about 20 miles in I really started suffering. My body was not happy. Nonetheless, I discovered that 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 much my legs hurt. 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. My preparation was paying off.

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 for the most joyful day that I've experienced on a bike. The months of pushing though training, good preparation, and the mental and physical suffering I endured throughout the race was so rewarding in the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that it brought. That feeling was a result of the pain I experienced in reaching my goal—pushing through the difficult hours of the event, the long days and weeks of training, and the discipline and sacrifice necessary to accomplish my goal. The Breckenridge 70 taught me an important lesson: I can accomplish things that require pain, sacrifice, and discipline, and when I do, it leads me to want to undertake even larger challenges—just to taste the victory.

The funny thing about it is that the race is actually called the Breckenridge 68, but it ended up being 72 miles so I started calling it the 70. Oops, my bad. Didn't realize I made that error in the statement until now. Anyway, the race is pretty rad, and apparently some of the schools liked what I had to say because they let me in. (My LSAT definitely had nothing to do with it ;) ).

Anyway, this race is happening this Saturday. And I'm stoked. I'll be riding rigid SS instead of a geared Superfly this year, which I think will make me faster. Plus I'm in better shape, which might help as well. Two days to go and I've got that butterfly nervous excitement feeling. Can't wait to go race bikes!!!

PS. I am retiring (for 3 years - Lance, Farve and Michael Jordan style) from racing bikes after this race. So if you want to race me one last time, you better change you plans and come out to this race!