Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Barry Roubaix 2012

This past weekend took us to the West side of Michigan for the first race of the year, Barry Roubaix, starting from Yankee Springs Rec. Balmy temps were on tap which saw most racers in just shorts and a jersey. The rain from the night before left the course in surprisingly good condition. It was soggy in some places, but for the most part, it was fast. I knew my fitness was much better this time from last year. I think I got on the scale last year the day before the race and clocked in at 192… this year I was a svelte 180, 12 lbs lighter! So just the weight reduction was going to make huge difference.

The action got going right away. I kind of thought the lead into Sager Lake Road, the first sandy 2 track about 3 miles in, was going to be elbow banging mayhem with so many racers this year. But it seemed everyone behaved and we all trickled in with no problems. I think I was top 5 when someone attacked and I was gapped off the front of the race. I struggled and chased, and by the time we were back onto the dirt rds, I had made it back on. It took quite an effort and I just wasn’t recovered enough to stay at the front. The 39t chainring up front didn’t help much either. Wish I had a 44. From there I floated back and hung onto the next group. Dan Korienek and I took turns attacking, but nobody was letting us go. I probably did too much work, but it really didn’t bother me because I still wanted to get in a hard workout. About 40 miles in, we caught up to the group that had gotton away earlier, but alas, the top 5 were still up the road. So we played cat and mouse, until we got to the final sandy 2 track section. I went as hard as I could, and Dan and I took turns attacking trying to blow it up the best we could. We swung back onto the pavement and I dug in as hard as I could. At the top a group of 4 emerged, me, Dan, Ernesto, and Adam York. We traded pulls to get away until we reached the finishing straight. Dan lit it up in the sprint… I didn’t even try. I’m surprised he didn’t rip the crankarms off his mountain bike! I rolled happy and spent for 9th.

First race of the year, and I got what I wanted out of it, a good hard 62 miles of hilly dirt rds, and a nice tune up for the first round of NUE’s. The legs felt good. It’s very hard for me to keep the anaerobic endurance up for these shorter punchier events while training for the 100 milers at the same time. Perhaps in the fall, I can work a little more on that. Next up is the Lowell 50, another hard dirt road race to tune up the fitness before Cohutta. See you there!

Boonen after his first bike race of the year.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

100 Mile Workday

So with all of the blogs and postings about everyone’s pre-season training, I thought I would add to the hype with a post of my own. I’d like to talk about my training camp, or lack thereof… or more specifically about a particular day that I’m quite proud of. You won’t hear about some trip to Hawaii or a month in Southern California on this blog. No, I’m choosing to brag about a typical work day right here in Warren Michigan, where some of the best training in the world can be had. What’s so special about Warren Michigan? Well maybe nothing really, it’s flat as a pancake, and traffic is shear gridlock, but that’s not the point…

My Wednesday started off with Boonen, the new puppy, whining at 4:20AM. It doesn’t seem to Matter how early I set the alarm, his ability to anticipate it is pure genius. I’m beginning to think that little bugger can read time on the alarm clock. I’m greeted by Boonen along with some angry undertones from Michelle as she’s woken up from a dead slumber. I choose to ignore it, rather than start something at 4:30am I know I’m not going to be able to finish before the 5am wheels up. I throw the cycling clothes on and get Boonen out for his food and potty. Buddy, the older golden, just slides his head under the bed to wait for when normal people get up.

I load on the 25 lb backpack filled with everything I’ll need for the day. No breakfast and just water for the ride in, it’s unfortunate this sport is heavily reliant on how much you weigh. Thanks to daylight savings time, my entire ride to work will be in complete darkness. The wind is light and out of the west, but it’s quite chilly… 35 degrees to be exact as my 1500 lumens lights up the display in front of the bank. I’ll make good time today trying to stay warm. My 40 mile route from Oxford to Warren is quite cunning. It was sniffed out by the great Robert Herriman and keeps me clear from most all of the traffic, although at 5am, that doesn’t seem to be a problem. Hammer, hammer, hammer… I’m trying to make it in 2hrs, but I’ve never accomplished it, 2hrs 10min today, good effort, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I drop my gear off at the cubical and head for the bathroom. You won’t find a shower or locker room in Building 201, the best we have is the 3rd handicap stall. Lets just hope no one has blown it up yet. I pull in for the clothing change and realize I only have one baby wipe left… better make it count and take care of the undercarriage. Last thing we need is a grape sized saddle sore. I retreat to my cubical for breakfast where I’ll spend the next 9hrs. On the docket for today is finishing my mid year contributions for my performance review… this should be interesting.

The morning seems to fly by as I’m still buzzing from my ride in. One of my generous healthy co-workers decides to bring in donuts, I decline, and stick to my oats and protein powder topped off with fish oil for desert. I have a little bit more attitude today cause I rode in. Then it hits me… the idea to pull off the work day century. I may as well, seeing as the weather was beautiful, and the wind shifted and was out of the South. Lets do it! I get to planning the route with some help from my buddy Pat, we come up with a solid 62 mile plan to get it done…

The “work” day starts to come to a close and I’m sort of getting fired up for the challenge. The temps have climbed, and it looks like all I’ll need is shorts and a jersey… a far cry from the full on winter kit I stumbled into the office with. Hell, there’s no one around, I’ll just change right in the cube today to save the walk of shame from the bathroom to the front door in front of my co-workers. They love it though, they think I’m absolutely fucking nuts, but they REALLY get a good kick out of it. I really don’t care, I’ll entertain them if that’s what it takes to get the miles in.
The legs feel good. I seem to be breezing right through every road crossing and hitting all the green lights. This might be a new record. I head North onto the dirt rds for some hill action, and they’re fast and dialed. Seems the road grader hit the East/West rds, good thing I’m mostly heading North. I make my way all the up to Almont to check out this climb I’ve had my eye on for while. It’s surprisingly tough and has a super steep kick near the end. I’ll have to integrate this into the rotation. 91 miles in on the mountain bike and the backpack is starting to wear me down. I head East back home on the rail trail, but it’s still a little mushy. Ugh… I’m feeling it now, but in a weird way, I’m happy the trip is starting to really tax my legs. I’m focusing on the average speed… 18.3, 18.2, 18.1… I dig super hard and decide I’m not letting it drop below 18. I’m really gritting my teeth now… and I go for a sprint to finish myself off on the bridge over M24. Whew! I made it! 18.1mph average and 102 miles… on a workday! I have a moment of great pride. The family was in the front yard to greet me. The perfect way to finish a long day at work.

So I digress back to my original point of what IS the point of this workday madness. I guess my point is that it doesn’t matter where you train, or who you train with, or even how much time you have to train… Good riding can be had everywhere, and a solid training program can be developed to fit almost any schedule with a little determination. It’s the mindset that matters more than anything. Thriving off the determination and perseverance to do what is needed to be in peak condition regardless of the conditions. And turns out, I think I prefer it that way. Thanks for reading, and stay determined to keep the wheels turning in 2012.