Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wausau24 2014

Pre race light figuring outing
     I have been planning on racing Wausua 24 since early this year, but somehow it showed up before I was fully ready.  I had been doing a lot of riding, but the fun kind, not the training kind.  In fact I remember realizing that it was coming up soon and decided to go do a long ride on the road.  Thus starting and concluding my endurance training.

Wausau in the morning

     Christina and I drove up Saturday morning, and for some reason I was awfully grumpy for a guy that was about to spend the entire weekend riding his bike.  That's just how I get sometimes I guess, I don't like rushing to a race, and next year we will be showing up the day before instead.  

     Once we got up toward the venue my mood instantly changed.  I felt good, it was foggy, and cool.  I could smell the pines, and feel the excitement. Something fun was about to happen.

Why is everyone in such a hurry?

     The start was pretty crazy, I don't know the total number of riders, but trust me, it was a lot.  I sprinted hard in the lemans start and ended up with a great start.  Top 10ish, which when it comes to racing single track in the woods getting out front of the slow guys and bottlenecks early is always a bonus.

     I pushed hard through my first lap, then backed off a little anticipating a long ride.  All was going well till about 4 hours in when the heat was getting to me and I got a flat.  The flat happened to be in an area of no shade and I got hot.  I drank two bottles while changing the flat then, refilled at the checkpoint and drank another two before getting back to the pits.

     I put in a couple more good laps, but something was coming undone.  Around dinner time I was ready to quit, Chris Schotz was also having a hard time and said "if you go back out, I'll go back out." I changed my clothes and was getting ready to go back out, but Chris seemed to be hoping for a partner to drop out with.  We both went back out.

     About half way through that lap Chris stopped and said he was feeling "bonky."  I laughed thinking "bonky" was awhile ago, we are trashed.  He told me to go on without him, he would finish the lap, but not without stopping for some brats with the spectators.  

     I did a couple more laps and stopped in the pits to get some food.  Christina was sleeping by this time as it was 2 am ish.  I grabbed a sandwich and sat down, then fell asleep.  I didn't want to sleep but it really wasn't up to me anymore.  The uncomfortable chair was too comfortable. I ended up sleeping for 4 hours.

     I woke up and rode two more laps to finish out the race.  I was the last finisher in the single speed class.  Considering how long I slept, I didn't finish too poorly.  I got 6th in single speed solo, and 15th solo overall.

I spent the entire weekend riding the northwoods of Wisconsin, and it was absolutely awesome.  I forgot how bad it hurts to ride that long, but when I look back the night laps were really the most fun.  I will be doing more rides under the headlights.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Productive Sunday

Crystal Lake Crit

Tour de Crystal Lake

Crit race in the morning, century in the afternoon.

The crit went pretty well, I am still learning this road race thing.  It all comes down to the end, and if your not in position to strike it doesn't matter how strong you are.  I ended up 4th in Cat 5, I had a strategy to win, but as usual I grew impatient and took off to early.  I do love that style of racing, diving into the corners, watching for the guy skidding across the road in front of you, then an all out close your eyes and sprint for your life at the end.

After the race, I didn't really feel I got a full workout.  So I headed out with a goal of 100 miles, but I told myself if I fell short no big deal.  Luckily it was a beautiful day, and I kept a good pace so I felt fine the whole time.  I headed into Wisconsin and found some hills, and didn't have any route planned.  

I ended up finding some great roads that I will definitely be returning too and some decent hills.

Oh I forgot to mention, all on heavy ass a cross bike.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Pisgah National Forest Clawhammer

Before we headed south, I looked around online and found the "clawhammer."  It was incredibly difficult, and if you get the opportunity to go down that way I would highly recommend it.  I would not recommend taking a single speed though!

The trails were very eroded which made it extremely technical, as you can see in the first picture.  If I had gears, with one of those newer 40+ tooth rear cassettes, I could have ridden a lot more, but with the tall gearing I just couldn't maintain enough momentum to climb.

Even with the recent switch to single speed I still had a great time in the mountains.  I just parked on the side of a forest service road, rode for a bit until I took a right on the single track, then climbed and climbed and climbed.

I hung out at the top lookout for awhile, then headed back down.  Coming back was much easier then headed up.  My brakes were cooked by the time I got back.

My only complaint was I didn't spend enough time out there.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Pisgah National Forest

Seems like everyone is busy enjoying Summer!  I say that, because most of the blogs I follow have been lean on the posts, including mine.  I have been making the most of the nice warm weather with lots of riding.  Last week we went to North Carolina to visit the rest of the family and I took the bike along.  I am so thankful that I did because the trails were awesome.  I promise to follow up with a more in depth post later, but for now watch this amateur video I made.  Have a good weekend!  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Almanzo Royal Report

Took off straight from work Friday night and got to the grass track race and gravel expo around 7:30.  There wasn’t much happening, as it seemed everyone was ready to get some good rest for the night.  I got myself signed in and went for a little ride around town with Bonk King and Kurt, then settled into my car for the night.

Signed In


Sleeping Quarters

Spring Valley before the start.

As the sun came up Saturday morning I started checking the weather and eating breakfast.  I was hoping to leave the frame bag behind, but since it was a chilly morning I would need somewhere to store my jacket later in the day.  There were a couple people milling around, I recognized Jeremy K from Trans Iowa, he was going all over in a big hurry like the race was about to start any minute.  I made my way toward the start line, I didn't really see anyone I knew so I bought a water bottle and waited for the start.

Chris Skogen led us out of town and to the first gravel road.  The first ten miles or so were pretty mellow; everyone was just riding a steady pace and enjoying the tail wind.  The easy going ride didn’t last long, we got to the first decent climb and there was a small attack.  Since I refuse to learn to pace myself, I of course didn't get dropped, but my heart rate monitor was screaming at me.  In fact for the first forty miles it would not shut up, I eventually made the intelligent (sarcasm) decision to just turn it off so I wouldn't have to listen to it anymore.

The leaders were straight up crazy.  I have never ridden gravel roads so aggressively, they attacked every hill, ground down the straights, and sprinted on the down hills.  Most riders rest on the down hills, these guys were doing just the opposite.  We'd lean way over the rear wheel, put our heads down, hit 40 mph, then slide sideways in the loose gravel into the corner at the bottom.  My heart rate was higher at the end of a down hill than at the top of the up hills!

The BKB holds a tough pace.

Luckily I got a flat tire.  I am not being sarcastic, this flat tire saved my race.  I was in the mindset to do everything in order to ride with these guys.  I have no doubt that I would have ended up just like Trans Iowa a few weeks ago.  If anything I wish the flat came sooner.  The flat tire forced me to break up with the leaders and ride my own race, but much damage had already been done. 

Someday I will learn to pace myself, Almanzo was not that day, but I did receive another lesson.

I fixed the flat, and rode for a couple hours with an older guy that was not afraid of talking.  Which was nice, most of it was just entertaining chit chat, but I got some good nuggets that I put in the brain for another day.

Almanzo has more stray horses than dogs.

Almanzo Water Crossing
The hard effort in the morning left my stomach in knots.  I was not able to eat anything solid at all, I tried a bite of a candy bar and was nearly bent over in pain, which made for a good aero-dynamic position on the bike.  I brought along six packets of baby food that I stole from Evan, which was about 400 calories.  The baby food was edible, so add in some red bull and two cokes, and I made it to 10 miles from the finish and was smashed.  On a side note, the baby packets are very similar to the Power Bar "fruit energy packets."

Oriole Rd.

I will remember Oriole Road for a long, long time.  Notice everyone walking in the picture?  Yeah I could only be so good.  I could go no further.  I pulled over in the ditch and laid down.  I just wanted to sleep, but everyone going by kept waking me up. 

They would say "hey is he OK?" or "Check that guys pulse."

I understand their concern, but I just needed to sleep for a minute.  I was so close to the finish, but I saw no other way to do it.

After my sorry excuse for a nap, I walked up the hill and took another break.  I needed some food, but I looked in my bag and knew that nothing would go down well.  So I just stood there for awhile, then started pedaling.  I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled, it seemed forever, but finally it was done.

Macho Man Stands Tall
When I signed up for Almanzo, I had no idea I would be in so much pain.  It was my own fault though, I could have just listened to my heart rate monitor and backed off early.  Instead I pushed it, and pushed some more.  I am so thankful to have finished this event, I have no idea where I placed, nor do I even care.  I learned some lessons in Minnesota, lessons that I have been taught before, but I think I heard it loud and clear on Saturday.  

"you can't win, if you don't finish"

That sounds nice, but you can't win if your taking it easy either.  It's a fine line to travel, I will keep traveling it, until someday I get lucky.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Spanked by Trans Iowa V10

Avoiding Toll Roads

Meat Up 

     We traveled out to Iowa on Friday to get checked in and "Meat" up.  On the way we stopped at a few tourist spots to try and grab some post cards.  For most gravel races, we have to register using a post card, and they can sometimes be hard to find around the house!

Trans Iowa Start

Iowa is not flat

At least the hills blocked the headwind while climbing

   The race went pretty well.  I started off strong with the lead group, people kept getting dropped one by one and we were down to 3 guys and me.  The winds were insane out of the east.  The first 170 miles were mostly head winds except for when we would turn left or right for a few miles then head back east into the wind.  We were averaging 16 mph into the wind, which was way more effort than I wanted to use, but I didn’t want to be alone in the wind either.  So I just held on as long as I could.  At about 120 miles in they dropped me for good and I rode to the second checkpoint (mile 193) alone, finally after the check point the course turned around and we had a tail wind but I was spent.  I stopped and tried to get some food but couldn’t hold anything down.  I waited an hour or so trying to digest something then rode another 20 miles but the legs just wouldn’t come back.  So I called Christina for a ride, and called it a day, I dropped out at 10:30 Saturday night after 200+ miles.  104 riders started and 19 finished, which isn’t uncommon for this race, its known for its high dropout rate.  I’m a little disappointed, but I can’t beat myself up too much because I gave it all I had.  There will be other races.

  I'd like to thank Guitar Ted for putting on such a cool event.  His race got me out on some pretty awesome training rides this winter and spring.  Also Wheel Werks Bikes for all the help.  And last but not least my family for putting up with my many hours outside riding bikes!

-David Swanson