April 26, 2008

Focus: 400

Today was a weird day - the annual KCUC 300K was taking place up in Liberty, headed to Albany and back on a simply terrific, and amazingly challenging, route through some of hte best views the western Missouri contryside has to offer. The fields were green early this year, the winds were light, the temps were chilly - but managable with the sunshine. There was even the rare, rare promise of a double TAIL-wind for once, which makes this tough route almost enjoyable. Rain was forecast for the afternoon - but nothing horrid, and nothing good fenders and a rain jacket wouldn't stave off - and it would only be for the last few hours of the ride.
With the conditions on tap, it was almost a ride that wouldn't require a headlight.

But, the weird thing was that I wasn't there. I don't know why, exactly -- done it before, looked forward to it, got everything ready for it, had a nutrition plan for it, the bike was ready, and I thought I was ready, too. Things started to unfold in the garage the night before. Strike one was a nasty puncture wound to my right hand, directly to the heel of the hand, below the thumb -- pretty much RIGHT where my brake hood would be pressed all day long. A lot of blood and a lot of pressure later, I got it under control. As I type this it still hurts -- three nice punctures, the middle one fairly deep, caused by the big chainring on my bike - nay, caused by me getting in a hurry and not wearing my thick leather gloves - something I usually do when changing out pedals - just in case my hand is in the wrong place when the pedal threads finally give way. I think I was just in a hurry or something, and I got stupid - didn't even go to the other side of the bike to loosen the non-drive pedal to swap it out for the lighter, nicer pedals for the ride. The torque was reached, the threads let go, and my hand and the handle of the 8mm ratchet went slamming into the chainring just as hard as a fist to the table during an angry speech. I mean, HARD force, and I had to pull my hand off the ring. Yeah, nasty. That's one painful way to clean three teeth of a chainring, I tell ya.

Not a show stopper, by any means. Patch it up, stop the bleeding, wash it out, even gritting thru a little scrubbing to get the metal flakes and old lube out of the upper layers of skin. By the morning, it'd be fine -- and, in retrospect now, it probably would have been fine. But, pile this up to an especially NASTY week at work, a broken air conditioner at the house, a nice little stolen credit card and potential identity theft scare -- you know, a good, long ride is exactly what I REALLY needed this weekend, but I am mentally toast. Stress? I've got some currently, and when the alarm clock rang, I simply didn't want it badly enough. There was nothing wrong with the day except my frame of mind. I think part of me was resorting to the notion that "I already have April", in regards to the R-12 possibility. There was another part of me that was in sort of a "been there, done that" mode lately, and yeah - I've done this route a lot, if only once a year. Another contributor to my DNS was the weather -- it was cold this morning, 34ºF on the thermometer when I woke up at 4:00AM, and it wasn't forecast to ride much above 60 -- the latter of those two numbers makes for a REALLY nice day in the saddle, but the former number made me almost angry, frustrated -- I was still "done with winter", and after a couple weeks of lower 70 degree temps in the afternoons and very mild pre-dawn mornings, to see a winter-like number again, it just didn't sit well on top of all the other mental thorns I was already using as justification to not try. I'd ridden in colder, wetter, nastier - as recently as two months ago. There was no REAL excuse anywhere to be found; but the injury, the stress, and the final nail of the sour turn in climate put this one down. Now, I haven't ridden much, either -- but I was rising above that argument. Let's see: I have ridden FIVE TIMES in April. Granted, one of those was a 200K, but still. That's pathetic for a mileage hog like myself. I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it - but maybe back in my head I felt like I wasn't ready, either. There was something about today's task that felt un-doable... and the fact that I call it a "task" means that I probably wasn't ready to ENJOY it. Randonneuring is all mental - and that's all this was.

So, I slept in a little bit, talked with the wife when she came awake and her first question was "so, what are you thinking about?" -- knowing that I clearly had missed the ride since I was still home. We chatted, and that always helps. I hung out with the kids for a little bit, and then decided that I'd at least try to do SOMEthing on the bike, since I was supposed to be gone anyways. I rode up to a local bike store for an advertised 9:00am ride, probably in the 45 mile range I think. Unfortunately, nobody showed up -- so at 9:05, I started back for home, took a little detour by riding thru Heritage Park, then down to Antioch to climb the big BIG hill, then across 191st Street over to Lackman, even enjoyed a little "cobblestone" action on the 3-mile long sorta-paved section. Then turned north and called it a morning. Mileage? Not much at all, really -- no where near the 186 that I had planned and packed for. Average, near 17.2mph, which is better than I expected. It just wasn't in the cards today, but it was a good little ride, and it's better than nothing.

As I type this, some of the riders are still out there on the brevet route. Part of me wants to be there... but a larger part of my soul just isn't there today. Sometimes, life is like this. I got the yardwork done, ran some errands, and had fun playying with the kids -- and as I always seem to miss it every year I ride the 300K, I took them to their school's annual fun-fair tonite. That was a blast! A wasted day? Not hardly!

The only thing this means is that my SR series is in jeopardy now... which means sometime between now and October 31st I have to find a 300K somewhere. I need to get over this, forgive myself, let the barrage of comments that will likely come in email on Monday roll off my back, and just get back on it. Get on the bike, commute, make up the saddle-time, and focus on the 400K, which is only two weeks out. There is no reason I can't be ready for that - and get my spirit back. If I feel up to it, and there are no "issues" next weekend, an early morning century will have the body ready for the mileage of the 400K -- considering the "training" I've had for the 200Ks I've completed since the first of the year, a solid century under my belt will be fantastic for the motor. No, I don't think it's burn-out, I examined that possibility - and I've had such fun at the three 200K's I've ridden this year.... I just think I got beat this morning, mentally. It happens -- move on, Dude. I actually think that had I been riding to work more, the recent stresses might not have weighed so heavy, SO heavy that I didn't think a long brevet would help any. I have been in this scenario before, pushed myself to start it, and ended up having a blast and getting my mental clock cleaned out. Today, I just didn't have the push - the mental energy - to force myself to drive up there to "just do it." Sometimes, I still catch myself thinking too much.

I just took a deep breath .... typing this out helps, too. Thanks for reading --- Boring, self-absorbed, perhaps -- but I have to remind that a lot of this blog thing is self-theraputic.
I appreciate your support, and I hope I don't come across too "blow-own-horn"-ish.
I digress.... the 400K, another great route, and even if it is raining cats and dogs, I'm all over it.

Thanks again, ya'll. Ort -- blow up that air matress again.... I need a 300K. :)

April 23, 2008

Song of the Week - 4/21-25

"Trapped" - Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band

(preferably the live version)

Play it.... LOUD. Absolute American Rock, with heart, feeling, and relevance.
Don't knock The Boss.

April 21, 2008

300K this weekend!

Welp, another run to Albany, MO. comes this weekend, folks!

visit http://kcbrevets.blogspot.com/ for details and information!

Hope to see you there!

You can sorta tell how busy life has been by the lack of posts this last week.

You know what happens -- when there is nothing left to read on the internet, go out and ride!

:) hope to see you on the roads!

Ride report to follow the 300K -- thanks for reading!

April 5, 2008

R-12 pt.3 - Notes from the road - The Liberty 200K

The Liberty 200K for 2008 is history:

I just don't have a multi-page ride report in my fingers at this time --
It really went quite well actually, aside from the challenges outlined below; this was an excellent ride! Mainly -- because it was above freezing (even tho the bank thermometer across the street read 27º at the start (?)) - and it was not raining or anything, and we saw the sun for more than 15 seconds --- THAT is the definition of a good ride after this winter.

A LOT of new riders this time out, too -- 10 new faces, along with all the old ones!
Danny Clink (the Colonel!) is back in the seat, Dale from Columbia, MO (previously referred to as Dale-from-Iowa), Jeff W. (aka, the Ice-Man), Dale E. (aka Fine Jewelry), Ed H., a whos-who of KC Rando. A lot of nice cycles, too -- good mix. The Trek 450, brilliant -- no issues whatsoever.
Tires? Awesome. Wool, superb as always. Actually, the wool-to-lycra ratio was surprisingly high this year, as was the steel-to-carbon-to-aluminum ratio. A LOT of Rivendell representation, including an old Redwood, a Romulus, an Atlantis, and an A.Homer Hilson.
There was a lot of titanium, too, Litespeed and LeMond. Not really important, however -- nobody was really focused on equipment, which is to say *I* wasn't. I just did the ride. I did have two opposing comments on the downtube shifters, one rider (Rich), his first brevet, asked why I hadn't upgraded the shifters on the old Trek - to which I simply smiled. I didn't go into it, really. No need. For me, I never got dropped on a climb because I couldn't shift or some silly notion like that. the other comment I got was from Columbia-Dale, the guy with the GORGEOUS Steelman bikes - magnificent. His comment was simply asking if they were 9-speed, where I'd found them, and how good something like that would look on his orange Steelman bike. He's on the same page as me with regards to a lot of this stuff, actually. We like each other's bikes, consistently. It's fun seeing him every year, just for the conversation.
It was a lot of fun, a nice, sunny day, and a little windy from the south -- but nothing I'd consider epic. consiering what I've been through this winter, and last month specifically, I'd say the worst is probably over with, and I've got quite a nice "I've had worse" file built up. Many people were shivering, hoping for a warmup, and complaining about the headwind on the return -- but I was all smiles for once. Ed H. came to the front of the pack near the beginning of the ride and asked if I wanted to drop back and warm up a little, to which I really had no reply - because I didn't really feel that cold! It was an odd feeling to be so ready for this ride in that regard. A terrific day, and the slog thru the cold sleet and rain, and the 67 miles of northern headwind completely stiffened my resolve - and when I looked around at all the balaclavas and full jackets zipped up, I realized that for many THIS was a cold start. I happily pulled and shielded them as long as I was able -- until the Iceman leapt past me on the left, and took off.... you'll see what happened below:

Summary -- GREAT training today. Looking forward to the 300K, and the solution to a few of the issues outlined below -- thanks for reading!

1) defintely lose the extra pounds. big improvements since January, but the diet has got to go alongside the exercise - there will be a positive difference.

2) For not having trained on hills really at ALL this year, or over the winter, this ride went pretty well: 10 hours on the nose -- 7am start, 5pm finish -- ride time was 8 hours 35 minutes, including one control, one mini stop, and one LONG stop at Plattsburg. Not too shabby, so the torture fest last month against the cold headwind for 67 miles was good training, after all.

3) Ride smarter -- randonneuring events should be consistant, and even. (Ideally) Brevets should not have three parts: Part 1 - go out WAY too fast, for 45 miles, to catch one guy who is SO out of my league it's sick -- success, DID catch him at mile 11 after seeing him pass at mile 4 - but that 26 MPH pace, off the front, was NOT sustainable -- yeah, part of me REALLY is excited that I'm getting some of that back, but I need to tender it and grow it on shorter rides, so I can average maybe 18 ALL DAY, instead of 23, then 17.2 before the hills, then 16.4 after the hills, then 16.1 at the control, then 15.2, then 14.9, etc. for a final average of 14.4 MPH. Still, not horrid, compared to last month -- but not consistent. The people that were off the back all day came in only 40 minutes AFTER me, probably had the same average, but could still walk around and hold a conversation. I should know better. DON'T TRY TO CATCH ANYONE -- just ride. Save that crap for Longview Lake on the 35 mile rides. THEN, after I'm ready, I can shoot for an overall average of 16, then 17, etc., until I can best my old PR of 18.45 MPH on the Liberty course.

4) Riding with people is more fun -- thanks to Rich (his first brevet), Mark, and the hosts of others I shared pulls with today -- really good conversation, and good times.

5) The camelbak verdict is still out --- basically, compared to my OLD Camelbak, it sucks. NOt only was 50 oz. not enough to make it a full metric (big deal, actually) -- but the lack of insulation and the lack of the elevated ventilation pads on the backside prevented the water inside from staying cold -- or even cool. Instead of like before, drawing off the tube and getting a few oz of warm water, and THEN cold from inside the pack, today I got a few ounces of cool water followed by warm, to near hot. Not insulated very well -- so IF I keep it, I am upgrading to a model above that holds 70 oz, and has better insulation.

On the camelbak note, however, as I type this, I can still feel the tension on my shoulders and upper back. IT may take training, but I think I am getting reminded why I ditched the things in the first place -- my shoulder pain is back today, but not bad enoug hto take any ibuprofen like previous years with the heavier pack. However, I figured out WHY: I was not relaxing my shoulders like I do when I'm wearing nothing -- I did this on commutes, too: for some reason, subconsciously, I have this notion that there is something on my shoulders, and if I feel it move at all, I raise my shoulders to keep it from falling off -- only after a few mintues do I realize I'm doing this. I kept having to remind myself to relax, which might eventually become second nature -- further, it might be improved with that pack upgrade -- if the straps are better, it might no move as much. I'll try a few on to see. Because.....

6) Hydration - it was brilliant today -- despite my folly at the starting miles, it was offset by always having water at hand, and having my old SE mix in the bottles. HOwever, being desperately OUT of practice, I don't know if I had the fuel mix right, as I got to near bonk a few times. The water was perfect, easy to get to, etc., and I was "pale" at every evacuation. HOWEVER, also stemming from being out of practice, I did not take electrolytes until it was too late. At mile 50, deep into some NASTY hills, both quads cramped and spasmed badly. IT HURT. I had not cramped previously in....well,I can't even remember. Even with my recent hydration shortcomings, cramping has never been an issue. Only fatigue. Today, however, I pushed SO much water, un-supplemented, and not mixed with any kind of sports drink for fear of SE complications, I hit the cramp wall HARD. Compunding this was a stupid move on my part having the Endurolytes in my SEATBAG....that's HANDY. Idiot. Not sure what I was thinking, but I stuffed them in there with my brevet card and everything else. So, by the time Camden Points monsters arrived, I was in pretty bad shape. I did eventually stop and dose up, but the stretching that is caused when you try and push thru a cramp was already done, and I would suffer until mile 82, when finally a steady flow of electrolyes and fuel started to get me back on track. Warbird always had plenty of electrolytes from SE alone, and I was mentally going off that footnote, but for me it was apparently not enough -- it's all personal after all, and I was out of practice. FINALLY, I was able to start pushing again, but the average speed and the lead group were WAY too far out of reach. Another strike against CAmelbak, I SHOULD Have mixed a hydration drink into it - despite the cleanup hassles, but I didn't have anything compatible with SE, and the cleanup hassles. The Warbird knows what SE does to a camelbak bladder. I ain't putting no sugary sports drink into it. Yeesh.

7) waterbottles vs. the camelbak thoughts ---- IF I don't want anything on my back, I simply have to figure out what my formula is going to be. Baggies in the back pockets, re-purchase some Zefal Magnum 32oz bottles, and have a 21 oz. empty bottle in a back pocket, for those longer sections perhaps, like on the 600K last year. THAT ride, hydration was brilliant as well, and I didn't have a Camelbak - so, I have done it before. ALso, I have already decided the SE is out for me --- a) price b) the protien after 250K starts to backfire on my system c) the nutrition limitations (dbl edged sword, more later) and d) I know Carboplex works for me, its cheaper, and physically per serving its powder takes up less space. It's a no-brainer. Hydration options would be wider, as well. BUT....

8) SE DOES, because of it's strict formulation, keep me on the straight and narrow with regards to nutrition. I would have to PRETEND that Carboplex was NOT flexible... for instance, compared to LAST month permanent, today, no donuts, no crud, essentially. I felt (aside from the above) great, ALL day. I had over the course of the ride -- at Perkins, pre ride, a biscuit and butter, hashbrowns, black coffee, water. Stop one, water, V8. Stop two, Platte City control, Casey's cheese pizza (1 slice), water, V8. Stop 3, Plattsburg, cashews (salty), water, V8, and a PowerBar Harvest bar (after carefully reading the ingredients list. Supplemented with SE all day, my ratio of calories burned to calories consumed was much closer to where it should be for a ride of this length, and it showed. When my legs came back online, the last 1/3rd of the ride was fun again -- despite the 20 MPH south wind in our faces. SO, there was no making up time, but we didn't lose much more time, either.

If I can teach myself to drink regularly from bottles, figure out where to carry powder for what I want to run in those bottles, and make sure that one is fuel, and one is hydration to avoid issues, I think I will be able to maintain the 40 or so miles between controls that today's 50 oz. camelbak and one 24 oz bottle of concentrated fuel afforded me. Even upon refilling at each control, and being totally hydrated, I never ran the camelbak 50oz bladder dry. Each stop, it would barely take a fresh liter -- so that means I had at least a 1/2 liter in there... that's about 17 oz. Okay... two Magnums.... 64 oz.... plus a third cage and a 21 oz bottle for emergency water, mounted low on the bike. I have the straps, and the extra cages. It's possible that I can carry as much water as I used today between stops I'd be taking anyways on this route, and not have anything on my back. If it means reaching down more, so be it, as it might let me move my shoulders around and avoid tension. It's a normal bike thing. Carboplex doesn't foul in the heat the way SE does.... and I can fill each bottle with ice. Even without the extra 21 oz bottle, that's still 64 oz on the bike, vs. the 33 I was drinking from the Camelbak -- that's one hydration bottle, and the other will be the fuel required to ride 45 miles -- which is not so thick a mix as to cause issues. Hmmmm....did it before, can do it again. Still thinking....

Thanks for reading -- that's all I've got!