Monday, January 31, 2011

Early Season Racing....

I’m redlining….I told myself I wasn’t going to do this… I was going to take it easy, ride my own ride and not push myself into the red zone trying to keep up with anyone else…..

We started out as a group, Nick and I in the singlespeed division while Tracy and Paciano were starting 4 minutes behind us in the much larger group of geared riders.

In an effort to get a jump start on this year’s training I had gotten up at 5:00am on a Sunday morning to be here.  After showering and wolfing down a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee, I was outside and waiting when the others pulled up for the two hour drive up to Granite Bay Park for the Early Bird MTB Race.  Luckily, the weather was totally uncharacteristic for a January day and we were looking at blue sky and temps in the mid 60s.

The race had started out according to plan.  I let the fast guys take off and settled in at a decent pace behind a young lady in a team kit with Nick right on my wheel.  I thought I’d be fine here for the first lap, but eventually realized her pace was just a bit slower than I would have liked and at the first opportunity swung out and went by.

The trails here were awesome.  Narrow swoopy single track that wove in and out of the trees, around and over granite boulders and up and down hills that, with the moisture from a wet winter, allowed our tires to stick to the trails as if we were riding on Velcro.

Unfortunately, after passing the young lady in the race kit, I realized I had no-one to pace myself against and had subsequently gone too hard for too long and now had to try to get my heart rate down and my pace back under control.  Which, I found is really hard to do in a race setting with young guys on geared bikes saying “on your left” every couple of minutes.

We had stopped on the way up at McD’s to use the restroom, top off our caffeine stores and wolf down a mcmuffin… a decision that I was starting to regret as my stomach was beginning to rebel against both the pace and the junk food.

As we headed in to the second lap I was actually starting to feel like I might even finish this race.  Every time I was tempted to slow down, the knowledge that Tracy and Paciano had started 4 minutes back and were probably even now running me down was enough to force me to push just a little harder.

The blood had begun to flow shortly into the second lap as I attempted to clear the section that had a large granite boulder to go up and over as well as a myriad of smaller ones on the backside going down….evidently I wasn’t carrying quite enough speed to clear the smaller boulders and as the bike suddenly lurched to the right, my knee became the pivot upon which I rotated around the rock….. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what happened since the risk of embarrassment should anyone see me laying there on my side caused me to literally bounce back up and on the bike barely even slowing down.

As we came to the end of the second lap, I practically flew down the hill and out onto the flats where I was easily passed while spinning out at about 120rpms by a geared cyclist who appeared to be out for a Sunday cruise….

The third place finish would have been much more impressive had there been more than 6 competitors in the SS masters division, but hey, I’ll take whatever I can get….

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Real Ride….

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, once again, life gets busy….

The week before last, as my grandson and I were taking a walk, he said, “I want to go for a bike ride tomorrow grandpa” I of course, willing to ride at the drop of a hat with just about anyone, said ok….lets plan it for after work.

He immediately responded with "no….I don’t want to do a round the block ride…I want to do a REAL bike ride”. After talking to him a bit I realized that in his mind, unless we got our stuff together, loaded everything in the truck and drove somewhere, it wasn’t a “real bike ride”.

So, having determined that he wanted a “real bike ride” I left work early on Wednesday, went home had him fill our water bottles, loaded everything in the truck, stopped at the store for gummy sharks so we could have energy snacks, and headed over to Lake Elizabeth to do a “real bike ride”.

The loop around the lake is 1.5 miles, which I figured would be a perfect distance for his little 12” wheels and wouldn’t wear him out too much. I also figured we’d probably stop at one of the playgrounds for a bit to burn off some energy….

Turns out I underestimated the number of stops by about 10…..we stopped at almost every bench to have an “energy snack” (gummy sharks) we stopped once to throw rocks into the lake, once to look at the ducks, once to try and peek through the construction fence, twice to play at different playgrounds, once to walk out onto the boat dock, once just to stop and rest and several times just to try and skid our brakes…..

All in all, the lap took us about 2 hours and on the way home, although he “really wasn’t very tired grandpa” he closed his eye to rest them for a minute (actually about 15 minutes but who’s counting)

What a great way to spend the afternoon!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year’s Day Hangover Ride….

Honestly, these New Year’s Day adventures used to provide stories that were much more entertaining to tell.
When I was younger and a runner, we would do a New Year’s Day Hangover run which usually included several runners that were either severely hung over or in some extreme cases still drunk having not yet been to sleep. As you can imagine, taking a group of moderately competitive, mostly out of shape, ego driven, hung over runners and forcing them to actually run provided very colorful stories…..and by colorful, I mean the color was green…..really, really green.

Lately though, as I’ve gotten older, most of my partners in crime have also aged and in many cases actually gained the good sense not to stay out late and get hammered on New Year’s Eve. The result is that our New Year’s Day events (mt bike rides in recent years) have mellowed to the point that the stories are not quite as entertaining and the memories focus more on the event itself and not on the antics of the attendees. (the only exception to this is when a completely sober attendee does something stupid and we can all make fun of them)

This year was similar to the recent ones except that it’s wetter this year than it has been in years past. We met up off Skyline Blvd early on a cold, drizzling, windy morning and plotted out our route. Muddy trail conditions would dictate which trails were and were not open. Turns out most were open.

It wasn’t long after we started that pretty much everyone had a brown stripe up their backs from the mud splattering up on them. Turns out the guys smart enough to actually put on fenders faired only slightly better than those without…

We started on fireroads, jumped off on singletrack, back to fireroads and so on as we worked our way down into the canyon. There were some good climbs, but for the most part, our trajectory was down…..which is great. But, in the back of my mind, I knew at some point during the day, I was going to end up paying a dear price for all this fun.
(One of the climbs, which is practically impossible when dry, was completely and totally impossible when wet.) 
Completely spent and with no fuel in the tank, my response to the question of who wants more, was of course….I do, I do….wait, who said that?
My legs said no, my lungs said no, even my back said no, but that damn mouth of mine chimed in as if it was ready to go all day…..the problem is, my ego is in cahoots with my mouth but not at all connected to my brain or the rest of my body…..

My mouth is always volunteering for stuff, or agreeing to stuff or even saying stuff, that every other part of my body realizes is a bad idea…..just like the time my mouth said “sure, one more lap down Tractor will be fun” and my poor arm took the brunt of the fall when my legs and my brain quit working halfway down the hill…

This time at least the only injury was suffered by my ego as he had to face up the group when my legs couldn’t push the rest of my body up the hill any faster and we made it to the top about 2 and half days after everyone else….
At the end of a wet muddy ride, I could think of nothing better than a hot shower and a nap….at least I couldn’t until Nick mentioned that he brought chili….Afterall, what could be better than a nice hot bowl of chili, some bread (yep, he brought that too) and something to drink. Of course this was all supplemented by the salami and cheese that Don brought, the fruit platter that Chris brought and whatever else was there.

I was so intent on keeping my mouth from committing to any more stupid ideas, that I was forced to keep shoving food into it to keep it quiet….all in all an awesome ride and a great way to start the new year….