Archive for June, 2008

I did a little riding this weekend. Sure, it wasn’t Elkhorn but I had a lot of fun nonetheless. Early Saturday I pedaled over the Glenn Jackson Bridge, met a teammate, and rode around Tabor for a while at a fairly leisurely pace. I was back home in time for a “honey-do” packed day of fun and excitement.

Sunday was a different animal altogether. I drove up Livingston Mt. to teammate Bill’s house. It was dry at my house but the weather at Bill’s is what I generously termed a vigorous mist. The five assembled riders grumbled about starting out it such dampular conditions but start we did. We headed out on our cross bikes and dropped down some dirt roads to the rollers at the top of53rd. On pavement, we headed over to Ireland then Lessard and dropped way down to Boulder Creek Rd. At a two track, we headed uphill, gently at first. We turned left onto a narrow jeep trail and started the climbing in earnest and topped out 1,000 steep and sometimes rocky feet later. We spent the rest of the ride connecting bits of quad and motorcycle trails along the flanks of Livingston for a delightful three hours of challenging trail riding.

I really enjoyed the motorcycle trails since they most approximated singletrack and the motos had dug ruts in the corners that made for some nice berms. They featured plenty of rocks and roots and the dampness made traction a challenge. We also rode along a quad trail with some deep mud filled ruts. It was pretty cool trying to pick lines and adjusting to wheel drift and poor traction. I was glad that Bill let us use the hose after the ride since my bike was covered in sticky mud. Apparently, it was the proper consistency to fling off at angles that didn’t include my ass or back so I ended up with a rather clean kit.

I had a blast.

I went out to Tabor for some racing yesterday. The weather was great and I got my ass kicked. In our first head to head matchup this year, Diviney and I raced the 40+ event and I’m sad to say that I didn’t finish ahead of him. For those who might not be familiar with Tabor, it’s like short track mountain bike racing on the road. The masters were doing the laps in about 3:15 for an eight lap race. The course is on a tiny extinct volcano and makes a skewed loop from the caldera. You are either going down the hill or coming back up with each lap climbing about 135-140 feet. It’s a cruel race.

For the first couple laps I was the caboose making the turn at the top. On the third lap, I got gapped on the brief flat at the top and before I knew it, was about 20m off the back. I spun up and got very aero and managed to latch back on by the bottom of the hill. Determined not to let that happen again, I made an effort to stay in the bunch on the hill on lap 4 and made the turn at the top in decent position. On the way down, I latched onto Schreck as he came by on the outside. I was in decent position going up the hill and figured that I could drift back as we went up. However, my legs had a different agenda. Through the S-curves I fell out of the pack like a stone. As I watched the group head through the finish area ahead of me, I could only shake my head and let them go. I had set the over/under for getting dropped at 6 so my five laps were not quite up to snuff

It looks like the sixth lap shook things out since the pack was splintered the next time through the finish. I sure wish I could have pushed it for another minute or so. I think I could have hung with the back of the chase groups. Even though I got dropped, it was a fun evening and the 40+ field was filled with guys I’ll be racing against in the Fall: Diviney, Baker, McCaffrey, Brevard (won with a stunning attack at the end of lap 7), Mitchem (looks to be strong again this year), Butler, Fricke, Meadors, Slater … Oh, and all those guys finished ahead of me. I’ve got some work to do.

My wife and I spent a pleasant couple of days up in the Trout Lake and Hood River area without the kids. My mom is visiting so she watched our daughter and son while we got away. I didn’t take the bike but I was able to get in a few workouts nonetheless. I had been intrigued by some workouts that Richard Groenendaal talked about in Pro Cycling + magazine a couple of months ago. He mentioned that he and a few of the older racers like to keep their legs supple and increase power and agility though something they call veldbokdrijven.

Veldbokdriven is a perfect workout for rural areas. Just find a pasture with some goats and chase them. For best results, concentrate on a single goat and attempt to chase it down. The many changes of direction strengthen muscles little used in riding and jogging. Since goats can be unpredictable, sometimes you will become the chased which elicits beyond threshold efforts. For best results, start at dawn when the goats are well rested.

I know it sounds a little unconventional but you’ve got to think out of the box if you want to stand a chance against Mr. Diviney.

cleats.jpgIf you don’t already have a set of toe spikes, do yourself a favor and buy some. I recommend the Sidi brand spikes. I find that the Sidi spikes bite into soft ground well and provide excellent traction. I’ve had some turf buildup on occasion but that doesn’t seem to significantly diminish their effectiveness.

I actually own two sets of Sidi spikes. On one set I took off about half the hight with a Dremmel. They work really well in dry conditions and when I expect a lot of running on concrete. I use the long fangs for everything else.

I’ve tried the soccer cleats and hate them. They don’t chew into a slimy run up like the Sidi spikes do. I’ve actually sprinted on concrete without incident on the long Sidi spikes. At Clatsop County Fairgrounds (Astoria, OR), the finish was on a short section of pavement after a slope with a six-pack of barriers. During the race, I would remount on the pavement. However, coming into the finish, I was in a two-up sprint to the line and stayed on my feet, as did my opponent, Mr. Diviney. I didn’t feel like the spikes (I was running the long ones) were holding me back.

Sure, running on pavement with the long spikes feels strange. But it’s not dangerous and provides adequate traction. The bottom line is that the payoff for the absolutely unbeatable traction everywhere else is well worth it.

The past three days I’ve gotten some good riding in. Thursday I went out with some work guys at lunch. Two of them are cat 3s — one is coming off of Mt. Hood and the other is coming off of a double century and the OBRA TTT. They are in good shape. On the gentle slopes, I was able to hang on with difficulty. However, once the road tipped up, I was OTB. It was good for me though. For those of you scoring at home, the “big” hill we did was Woodburn.

I took a little trip up 53rd (Livingston Mt.) Friday evening. I kept my pace reasonable which is kind of relative since it gets steep at times. Then today I went out with a couple of teammates for a few hours. We did Skye Rd. and Woodburn Hill plus assorted other bumps in the Camas/Washougal area. I was happy with my performance today given that it was the third day of hard riding. I wouldn’t go as far to say that my legs are coming around yet but I definitely see some signs of life.

I really like the riding surrounding the Washougal River valley. There are lots of good hills through scenic rural Washington. If you get an early start, the traffic isn’t a problem.

Hills — a steady diet does a body good.

Cyclocrossworld.com has the new DA 46 tooth rings in stock. I wish they came in 44. I so want one anyway.

No Tabor for me. The sitter can’t watch the kids tomorrow so I’ll be pining at home. Maybe I’ll go for a long ride in the hills instead — so I’ll be ready to beat Diviney.

The posts today on BKW and M&C got me to thinking about the stories that we love to hear. Both posts are about the joy of riding bikes but the specific thread that ties them to my riff is their comments about pushing their physical limits so that their everyday drops away. One talks about not being able to spell his name after a set of intervals, the other not knowing his name at the top of a climb. Both of these references are instantly recognizable to cyclists everywhere.  We’ve all been there, at least a little bit, and understand those feelings in a visceral way.

I read a few of the rags and check out cyclingnews.com for the daily racing coverage. Sometimes the writing is elevated above the level of a written box score — emphasis on “sometimes”. I’ve been a sports fan of some description for most of my life and have read a good many articles from a number of news sources about a wide variety of sporting disciplines. I recognize when an account transcends being an account of some event and becomes a narrative. A deft writer will describe how our sports heroes are able to transcend the ordinary — for just a time — without losing sight of their humanity. For all their amazing exploits, our sporting idles are hewn from the same stuff as we are.

I don’t read the accounts for the results. Sure, I’m interested in who made the selection and which rider crossed the line first. But I am hungry for the human drama that plays out in every contest. I want to have a feeling for the suffering and the glory. I want to know which player (far down the results) might have sacrificed for the winner. I want a narrative.

Now that televised coverage has become widely available in most sports and print media is struggling because of the internet, the art of sports writing has been enfeebled. Writers no longer have to create a vivid scene inside their readers’ heads. They merely have to provide the results and a brief sequence of actions that brought the winner home. One of the reason I enjoy reading the many personal accounts of amateur racing is that the best of them infuse their accounts with the thrill of the race and also provide some introspection.  In short, they provide a real narrative.

All this talk about Tabor on the OBRA list has inspired me to try to get out for the races. Early in the year I’d planned on racing Tabor this year but when my riding got radically inconsistent, I bailed on the idea. But I’m stoked again and ready to give it a go. Sure, I’ll probably get dropped in the masters race but so what. At least I’ll get some speed in my legs.

Of course all this is predicated on getting our sitter for the kids.

Edit: Here’s a video from Tabor week 1. Regular Laatste Ronde reader Stephen F. did the helmet cam in the cat 3 field.

My legs feel like I did some good training this week. The feeling is so unfamiliar that I didn’t recognize it right away. I should have taken yesterday off but it was group ride Thursday lunch so I rode anyway. No one showed up because of the rain. I rode anyway. I was feeling tired but put in a few efforts anyway. I limped back to work over the last couple of bumps and will not be on the bike today.