Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mountain bike training, SIR!!!

Today I went out to Rattlesnake Lake at exit 32 off I-90 to ride the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. The JWP trail is an old converted rail-trail that runs the length of the Iron Horse State Park. It atcually runs over 75 plus miles to the east side as part of a state long trail system. Today I rode up to the Snoqualmie Pass to the Snoqualmie tunnel before I could not go any further due to the road being fully snowed in still. The trail, being an old railroad grade, has an ever gentle uphill climb. With a total elevation gain of 1620 feet in 20 miles. I was able to ride thru the tunnel, 2.4 miles, only to find it locked at the east end, as well as the snow in the road.

I took a few pictures before I came back through the tunnel. There were some picnic tables in the sun on the west side of the tunnel. I sat and ate lunch and soaked up the sun and the views!! I then turned around and rode downhill. The trail has some beautiful old tresles that span some impressive sights! I only had one flat and I saw a few more people out on the way down than I saw on the way up. My total milage for the day was 42.3 miles! It took me about 3hr 23min of wheels spinning ride time. There are very few places to get long "dirt" miles on one's mountain bike in the Seattle area. I figured since I am planning to do two 24 hr races and a 50 mile endurance race I should start getting in shape!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

11th place ain't to bad....

Glorious day for a mountain bike race!!!

Sunday I raced my first "official" cross-country mountain bike race since July 2005. I know I have raced a few Wednesday night races but they are merely for fun and training. I lined up with about 23 Sport class 30-39 year old racers around 1:30pm and promptly tried to explode my heart out of my chest. We rode four laps of the course for a total of just about 20 miles of 97% single track trail. I completed the race in 1:48:29.1 55 and my heart rate averaged 175 bpm the entire race!!! The day was warm and perfect for a mountain bike race!!!

Jose riding a singlespeed fully rigid 29er!!!

Jose came out for his first official mtb race and what was his second mtb race ever!! He was again competing on his single speed in the Sport 40-49 year old age class. He race rather well completing 2 and a half laps before getting a flat tire that effectively took him out of the race. So he just bagged it and took pictures. Christie and Abigael came along to enjoy the day outside, take pictures and play in the dirt.

Dirt angels!!

I once again went out to hard and too fast in the first lap and promptly blew up. With my heart rate monitor alarm sounding like a time bomb ready to blow constantly I decided to back off and take it easier in the second and third laps actually dropping my HR below the alarm threshold of 175 bpm for a little while. When I came through the finish line going out for my last lap the announcer said I was in 11th place so I decided to see if I could catch number ten to nab a top ten finish. Well my last lap was pretty quiet as I only passed a few slow 20-29 year olds and a few of the 40-49 year olds that had passed me up earlier in the race but I never did catch or even see another 30-39 year old to take 11th place!! Not bad in my book!

UP, UP, UP!! Venga, Venga, Venga!! Allez, Allez, Allez!!

The other big decision I have had to make in the past week was one that took quite a bit of thought and inner turmoil as well a few restless nights. I have been involved with the AVA/Counterbalance Bicycles racing team from it's inception. I have helped to build it up to where it is today and unfortunately due to my busy life I have not and was not able to continue this year in a leadership role. The problem is I can't let lie the team when I see things that I personally don't like or actions that I feel are contrary to the original purpose of the team. So I tend, more often than not, to voice my opinion and some people don't like to here or read my opinion. Whether I am right or wrong it is still my opinion and I truly feel I have the right to make it be known, if people want to read it or hear it is their prerogative.

So I have made the decision to part ways with the team, at least for a year, so that I can detach myself from the leadership and the team can find it's direction what ever that be. Because I am coming back to racing this year from a long time down on the Disabled List I still want to have some "support" as opposed to just racing solo. I made the decision to approach my Physical Therapist Erik Moen to see if I could race for his Viking Sport Seattle club. Erik enthusiastically invited me on board and provided me with a jersey and no pressure when it came to making the decision to race for another team.

Most importantly I want it to be known that I LOVE my team, AVA/Counterbalance, and I eventually want to come back to it. I love the Counterbalance bike shop and I will continue to support it and patronize it. I love and miss my friends that I have raced with, planned events with, and still feel close to. I just came to the conclusion that I would be happier if I didn't have the temptation of wanting to "meddle" in the leadership of the team that way I can just race, heal, and have fun. I am sorry to all of my AVA/Counterbalance team members and sponsors but for right now this is what will work for me. So yes, Sunday I raced in the Viking colors and felt good, had fun, and kicked some butt in the process!

Photo courtesy of Jose Sandoval

Thursday, April 19, 2007

First big decision down!

So I made the call today about the fire dept recruit class... I was told by my Captain last Saturday that I would not be allowed to be operational on shift at the end of the recruit academy in July if he did not feel I was 100% healthy. He also said that I was obviously still limping around the drill ground and that he did not want me to further injure myself while drilling in recruit school. So I had to make a MAJOR decision about whether I was going to continue training with this current recruit class or stop, pull out and get healed and then try again in 2008. Considering my last major surgery was July 6Th 2006 less than a year ago It is no wonder why my leg has been killing me after every Saturday drill session. This was one of the hardest decision I have ever had to make and it did not come easily... I will now have the chance to focus on healing, getting back in shape, and taking care of my family and soon to come new addition!! I will also be able to use my Saturdays (at least the mornings) for training and going to the gym! I plan to be 100% by the time I come back in 2008. I know I can do the job I have completed one recruit class, graduated, and made it through over 3 and a half months of a second six month long recruit school at 80%+ healthy.

Mountain bike racing, I forgot how much fun it was...

So Wednesday afternoon I finally convinced Jose to come out to race( we should also soon have Matt Messenger joining us as well!!). We met downtown around 5ish hoping to leave in time to allow Jose to race the 6:00pm beginner's race. We realized, after battling downtown traffic, that it was 5:30 and there was no way we would make it to South Seatac park before 6:00. So Jose decided to race in the sport catergory. We both got a chance to get a warm-up lap in before our race start. The course was extremely short, flat, and fast. It was more like a cyclocross course than a XC MTB course but the promoter Wick said he did this so people could conserve before the big race, Seatac Shuffle, on Sunday. Since the course was so fast, about 8 to 11 minute laps depending on your fitness level, the sports were doing 6 laps plus the half start lap. I decided to run gears for this race and I had my bike setup in a 1x9 gear configuration with a 32 tooth chainring up front and an 11-34 9speed cassette in the rear. I am SOOOOOoooo glad I decided to go back to gears for the time being!! I also had made up my mind to take this race super easy and to not start out like a rocket but hang back and just RIDE.
I started slowly about mid pack and Jose soon was in the rear on his new Redline Monocog Flite 29er singlespeed running a 32x20 and fully rigid!!! Jose said he got about 5 laps before he was passed by the experts and pulled from the race. He said he had the most fun he had ever had on a bike while racing during that race. It was also Jose's first ever true mountain bike race!!! He said he even passed a few other sport racers and did not finish DFL!!! Mean while I battled it out after realizing I felt strong and that my lungs and legs were not going to exploded from lactic acid build up!! I was actually doing quite well till I endoed (once again mom my leg is superbly ok and my bike suffered no damage as well!!) on my second to last lap and lost not only 3 or 4 placings but my momentum as well. I still finished very strong with 6 and a half laps and roughly 10:30 to 11 minute laps!! We hung out for a few minutes after the race while I frantically search for my wallet!! I found it in Jose's car where I had changed into my riding clothes!! I do plan on racing the Sport men 30-39 race on Sunday at 1:30pm where Wick said he was planning a 4 to 5 mile plus course and the sports are doing 3+ laps.
I am also planning on racing the 24 hours Round the Clock race in Spokane over Memorial day weekend solo. The whole family is going with to hang out with Eric Ewing and help support me as I race!! I still need to come up with the registration fee so I will have a few bike parts going up for sale very soon!! I will also be able to take part in the 50 mile Test of Endurance MTB race in OR on June 10th as well now that I am not in the fire recruit class anymore.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A new look...

So as you can tell I decided to give my blog a fresh new look. I feel that this layout is much more friendly and enjoyable to read (easier on the eyes). If you disagree please leave a suggestion in the comments. I have a few new changes brewing in the wings and some pretty big decisions to make in the next few weeks. Please stay tuned for some fun announcements. Good news is that I did get this quarter of school funded by worker retraining, YEAH!!!!!

<<<<<<<<<<<< I have also added a link to my Flickr photo account to the left under the links!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Back on the saddle again!!!

So Jose Sandoval, a teammate, reminded me that the Wednesday Night World Championship MTB races started last week so I thought I might go give it a try... Now mind you I haven't participated in bicycle race since August 5th 2005 when I got hit during the Dead Baby Bike race and the last time I raced in a MTB race was for fun SS at South Seatac in July of 2005.

I decided to "throw down" tonight for fun to see where my (lack of) fitness sits. I showed up around 6:30 with my preggo wife and wild 'n crazy 3 yo daughter. I registered for the year as a Sport class age 19-34 (my race age this year is 34!!) and got the number 484 (close enough to my favorite numer 448). I got a chance to get on the course for about 15 or 20 minutes to give it a pre-ride. I felt good and thought I would do ok in the race. I was riding my 29er Black Sheep Ti hardtail with the Reba up front and setup as a singlespeed (SS) running 32x19. There where about 30 to 40 people both sport and expert combined lined up at the start. There were a handful of singlespeeders and a few other 29ers as well. We were all riding 5 laps plus the starter half lap. At 7:00 they started the expert riders first and when they were up and around the corner the sport riders got their start.

The race started with a nice long straight paved road with a left turn into the singletrack and immediately UPHILL!! This seperated the sport class into two groups and my 32x19 dictated I was in the latter group of riders. I powered up the singletrack even passing a few of the geared riders as the shifted and lost momentum having to stop. I realized that as soon as I got up to the top of the hill I was SPENT I went out too hard too fast and BLEW-UP!! I kinda battled it out with two other riders for about a lap I would spin out in the straights and ride their tires on the hills and the tight twist technical stuff. Eventually I ran out of steam and realized I was there just for fun so I backed off and just rode the trail! I started having fun after a few minute break on the side of the trail on that nasty uphill section on the second lap. Into my second to last lap I was passed by the top five or six expert (read Pro/semi Pro) riders I did the proper thing by pulling aside and let them pass. I was eventually "pulled" with what would have been my last lap to go but I was D-U-N done so I didn't mind. It was about 8:15 when I crossed the finish line. I don't think I was DFL but I was pretty close! All in all my leg felt great and did not hurt at all during the race and even afterwards it is only slightly sore what really hurts is my lower back, OUCH!!

Abigael rode her little tricycle around in the grass and dirt having a blast while Christie watched. She ran like a wild child all over the staging area cheering me on when ever I popped out of the woods where the trail skirted the staging area each lap yelling "Go daddy go!!"

All in all I think my first race back went well it was totally worth my $12 and it got preggers and wild child out of the house for an evening. I think I will race every Wednesday until track season starts and I will race masters at the track on Wednesdays.