Miserable Kansas

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We never get weather like this.  It has been constantly raining, plus ice, the past 3 days.  That is so unlike Kansas weather.  It hardly ever rains all day like Seattle in the winter.  Plus it is hovering just around freezing, so it is changing from wet to ice and back constantly.  Half the time the roads are slick, then useable again, then bad.  Not good conditions for outside bike riding.

But, on the upside, tomorrow  is supposed to be the last day of this.  I’ve been doing inside stuff, which isn’t stuff I like to do, but it is necessary.  Just paid by car tags and have been catching up on bills, etc.  Plus, bike work.

I still don’t have my cross bikes like I’d like them, but unless I feel like I’m a full time cyclo-x racer, they are fine.  I glued a couple new tires on last night.

I’m thinking it is going to be pretty muddy up in Jingle Cross.  It seems like everyone is going with less and less tread nowadays.  I’ve never been upset with having a lot of tread.  But there are so many choices.  I still have a bunch of good tires left over from 3 seasons ago, so I’m using them now.  They are 32 mm, not 33, but they are fine for now.

The “problem” with cross tires now is that there are so many choices.  Too many.  When is that a problem?  Only when you’re not familiar with all the different tires and compounds, thus don’t know which to ride.  It’s not like riding clinchers, where you’re changing them back and forth all the time.  Once you glue on a tire, you’re not too big on tearing it off to try another one.

I guess the best option is having a good mud set on one bike and then a faster setup on your spare bike.  But, I think I’ll just leave mud tires on all my wheels and make due for now.

Okay, back to the trainer again.

These are both FMB tires.  The left is their mud tread and the right is some Michelin Mud tread I sent to FMB and were made custom.  I have a few more of these and they work about as good as any tires I've ridden.

These are both FMB tires. The left is their mud tread and the right is some Michelin Mud tread I sent to FMB and were made custom. I have a few more of these and they work about as good as any tires I’ve ridden.

Riding a Trainer Part 2

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Yesterday I rode my cross bike twice on the Lemond trainer, watching movies.  I rode once early, then went to Keith and Catherine’s house to have 2nd Thanksgiving dinner, came home and decided to ride another hour at 9:30pm.

My cross bike has my power meter on it, so the numbers should be the same as riding outside, right?  It is a bunch different than riding outside.  It is smoother, much less effort to increase rpm’s.  But the pressure on the pedals seems pretty right.

I wasn’t doing any structured workout.  I was just trying to put in the time.  Saying that, I still couldn’t help myself and not check out the wattage time to time.

My two observations.  Starting, the wattage seem pretty low and I seem to be “off”.  But after about 10 minutes, the watts went up about 50 and the effort seemed easier.  I guess that is why you need to warm up some before hard efforts.

My 2nd observation is a little unproven, but right now seems perplexing.  I played around, just for a couple minutes, with pedalling one leg at a time.  I’ve seen guys warming up at races doing this and was curious about what that was for.

So I pedaled with my right leg first and then the left.  What was weird is that it seemed pretty easy to ride about 175 watts with either leg individually.  It seemed like it was easier with my left leg, which is “my bad” leg.  I’m pretty sure that my left leg is stronger than my right, which is counter intuitive.

Anyway, it seems like if I can ride 175 watts with each leg it seems reasonable that it would be just as easy to ride 350 watts with both legs.  But that isn’t the case.  Riding 350 watts is much harder than riding 175 watts on each leg.

I do understand that it takes close to twice as much oxygen for both legs going around than each individual leg, which makes sense.  But I’m not sure it is the oxygen that is the limiting factor.  I can ride at 350 watts continuously, but it takes pretty much concentration and isn’t easy.

I’m sure I’ll be able to answer all of this, probably relatively soon.  It iced again last night and looks like it is going to be trainer weather thru the weekend.  I wish I had my shit together and could take off for a week and go somewhere warm to ride, but alas, I don’t, so I’m here for the duration.

Back to the sweaty pool training.  Think I’m going to do it twice again today.  A little over an hour at a time is all I can stand as of now.

You might notice that I still have my light on my handlebars, just incase a night ride presents itself.

You might notice that I still have my light on my handlebars, just incase a night ride presents itself.

Indoor Training

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I’m not big on riding indoors.  I think I have posted that here about a zillion times.  One of the best things about the sport of cycling is the interactions and visuals I get from moving outdoors at a speed fast enough to get somewhere, but slow enough to absorb the information.  I think most of us would agree with this.

But I do understand the predicament that many get into during the winter when you leave for work when it is dark and return home, once again, in the dark.

We’ve been meeting after sunset the last few weeks, Mondays and Wednesdays, and have been doing night rides with lights for 30-50 miles.  We leave around 5:15 and get back somewhere between 7:30 – 8:30.  It has been unseasonable warm recently, so these rides have been great. Nearly shorts weather.

But that all changed yesterday.  It started raining and the temperature dropped.  Now there is a pretty thick layer of ice over everything.  Really bad for the mass Black Friday shopping day. Even worse for the guys that were hoping to get in some miles over the long weekend.

That is the problem with making out training plans, especially in the winter.  It is so weather dependent.  You’re hoping to get in a big block of miles to hold you over for a couple weeks and then the roads are thick ice.

So, indoors is where you go.  Like I said above, I don’t like it much.  I do it occasionally, but try to avoid it.  And I’ve done it a ton.

I spent a whole winter in Grand Forks North Dakota, riding an ergometer for hours a day.  I nearly became a professional ergometer rider.  When I flew back to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, I was unreal on Eddie B.’s ergometer tests.  It didn’t really have that much to do with being a good bike racer, in retrospect.

Anyway, there are so many choices for trainers and indoor riding.  I think the new training methods and mentality blends in great for indoor training.  All these guys that want to train by wattage/heartrate/numbers, it is perfect.  But in reality, I think riding outside for an hour when it is cold out is better than 2-3 hours on a trainer.

My friend Mike McCarthy sent me a note about a couple years ago about a company he is involved in, Zwift.  It is like an interactive video game for trainer riding.  I think you can do rides with other people, races, climb, etc.  I’ve never done it, but it might become addictive.

When Lawson Craddock hurt himself early this year, I guess he spent nearly a month on the trainer riding Zwift.  It must have some attraction because he seemed to persevere the month and came out super strong.  I might give it a try sometime later this winter, if I have the time.

Kathy LeMond sent me a LeMond trainer last year.  I only rode it a couple times.  I meant to take it back to Minneapolis this past summer, but never made it.  Now yesterday, I put my cross bike on the trainer and rode an hour using my power meter.  I can’t say I really enjoyed the whole ordeal, but I’m thinking that is going to be my training again today.  I was hoping to go for a short run, but running on ice isn’t a good idea for me just right now.

Okay, this isn’t like the 1x debate, which got totally blown out of proportion.    I don’t like riding indoors and try to avoid it like the plague.  If indoor training is your deal, then so be it.  It is hard enough keeping form over the winter, do it how it works for you.


Being Grateful

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

I was thinking about replacing the brake vacuum pump on my van last week and was thinking about how difficult it would be for the average guy.  I was talking to Catherine about it and, admittedly, she said that there is no way that she could do it.

I proposed a scenario where she was locked in a room, prison-like, with only the automobile tools, van and the new pump. She couldn’t leave until the pump was installed and van running.  She said it would be a life sentence, and I somewhat agreed.

There were a couple tricky automobile situations with the pump that would have stumped her. Releasing the serpentine belt would have been difficult.  Then, the two lower bolts had been rounded by some other mechanic and it was super lucky, and really difficult, getting them off without disassembling the whole front end of the van and cutting them off.

I’m not sure if it would have taken her years to do the job, but it would have been weeks for sure.

And here’s the deal.  Catherine is really smart.  She is an attorney and a critical thinker.  But she has nothing in her head about repairing automobiles.  Or mechanical situations in general.  She wasn’t raised in an environment, or had the exposure, to any knowledge of how things work, thus, she doesn’t do things like this.  It doesn’t mean she can’t, but it means that it is super difficult, nearly impossible for her.

We each have our brake vacuum pump issues.  For most of us, law would be too much.  Or sewing.  If someone locked us in a room and said we would have to construct a perfect expedition jacket, it would probably take us weeks, months or years to carry out.

What we have to realize as a society, that our society has many people who are missing certain abilities to participate as we think they should.  Things as simple as not getting pregnant at 13 or being able to fill out a simple form or keeping a roof over their head, is beyond their abilities.

We should, and are, trying to keep everyone up to speed at the basics, but we really need to understand that the basics are beyond what some people have the ability to do.

We shouldn’t belittle these people or cast them out.  We need to understand and accept them. They might be lost doing simple things, but they might be the ones that can change the brake pumps that we all have.  We need to embrace them, feel and act on our responsibility for them, and give them all the help they deserve.

I heard a podcast that did a study of silver and bronze medalists at the 1992 Olympics games.  It said that the bronze medalists were much happier than the silver medalists, which sort of seemed strange, but not really.

It said the rationale was that the silver medalists were comparing themselves to the gold medal winners and were doing  what-ifs.  The bronze medalists, on the last step of the podium, were just happy to not be in the huge group of no medal winners, so they were much happier.

I think looking at life that way is good for all of us.  Perceive you situation as you’re the bronze medalist in life.  As I’ve said here before, we all have already won the life lottery.  If you’re reading this right now, you have more and are in a better life situation, than 80% of the planet’s population.

So, even if you consider yourself poor and struggling here, you need to realize that you really are already at least the bronze medalist and maybe even the silver medalist, at life.  And all the people, the billions that aren’t on the podium with you, have it much worse.

I heard someone say that being grateful is a huge part of being healthy and happy.  I had never thought of it, but it is so true.

We all have tons of things to be grateful about.  And once we are grateful, it allows us to put ourselves into others shoes, which will lead to empathy and compassion.  We should make it a point to acknowledge that, on a daily basis.  It will make us much more grounded, and happy souls.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Here's the new part.

Here’s the new part.

And it seems so simple, it just has to go here.

And it seems so simple, it just has to go here.

I am grateful for having breakfast like this already today.

I am grateful for having breakfast like this already today.

Have can you not be grateful for pie? Pie is my favorite food group.

How can you not be grateful for pie? Pie is my favorite food group.





I like 2 Chainrings, Even 3

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I was just reading an article at Velonews this morning and according to the review, the big “failure” of the new XTR trail group was that they don’t have a 42 tooth rear cog, thus makes it unacceptable for a 1x setup on a MTB.  I don’t get 1x.  Not at all.

The article says that 1x allows a wider range of gearing.  That is complete bullshit.  I hadn’t raced a MTB race in a really long time and happened to be out in Vail for the GoPro games this past summer, so I decided to ride the race on the spur of the moment.

I had a couple issues, but finally got into the top 15.  After the race, I was talking to a guy I was riding with at the end and he told me that he didn’t have enough gearing for the climb and he wished he would have put on a 30 in front instead of a 32.  I was riding 1998 XTR 9 speed, with a 34 in the back, but a 24 in the front and had no trouble climbing.

I remember Jimmy Mac telling me that the 1x setup doesn’t work for the weekend guy because of the same reason.  But, that might have been before the 42 rear cog and 10 tooth  small cog Sram has now.   But, I still don’t understand it.

I love front chainrings racing MTB.  I think it is awesome going hard into a climb, just a little overgeared, then just one shift in the front and be in the perfect gear for the start of the climb. Honestly, I don’t really understand getting rid of the granny gear in front.  I was riding a 24 x 40 up Powerline in Leadville.  I didn’t plan to be in that gear, but I didn’t plan to be all cramped up and barely moving.  If I would have had a 30 x 42, I would have been dead in the water for sure. The extra weight of having a 2nd, or 3rd chainring in front, then obviously a front derailleur and shifter, is well worth it in relation to have the options of having a wider selection of gearing.

Plus, who wants to be going and changing their chainrings for different riding?  I don’t.  I do a lot of MTB races that start out on pavement.  Races such as Chequamengon, Lutzen, Leadville, a lot of them.  And I’ve noticed that the rollouts are super tame compared to historical starts, not that I’ve done Leadville and Lutzen more than once.  But Chequamegon this year was much easier than the past.

And the reason is that the biggest gears that most of the fast guys have is a 32 x 10.  These guys are all spun out.  I feel undergeared with a 42 x 11 and well even more so with only a 38 x 11.  I don’t think a 32 x 10 is a big enough gear for lot of longer MTB races I do.  That is like the gear of being between a 53 x 16/17 on a road bike.  I would never start a road race with only a 17 in the back as my hardest gear.

Even in longer off-road races, like Berryman that I did last month, I was riding pretty fast on the open road sections.  Fast enough that I needed a 42 x 11.  Plus, the jump in the back from a 36 to 42 is huge.  That is 6 teeth.  XTR is bad enough going from 35 -40, a 5 tooth difference.   I don’t know that the rpm difference of shifting between a 36 to a 42, but it is huge.

I’ve ridden single rings in the front a lot.  My A bike in cross used to be one chainring in the front.  But on the starts, I’d be on my B bike with double rings and then switch once that initial start surge was over. But cross is completely different that racing MTB.  You might run into the situation where you need that other ring 3 or 4 hours into a race.  And you don’t know how you are going to be physically when you get there.

The biggest downside to all the different choices in front chainrings is how many different front derailleurs there are now.  I have 4 different Shimano front derailleur in boxes and none of them fit my MTB.  There are 2 and 3 chainring derailleurs, plus top pull, bottom pull and front pull, then low band and high band. They use shims so there aren’t so many clamp sizes, but still it is really hard figuring out what derailleur to order by the specifications.  And this isn’t really such a big downside, is it?

So, by now, I think you understand, I like the options that front chainrings offer, like 2 front chainrings, sometimes 3.  You’ll have a hard time convincing me otherwise.

This was a great crankset.

This was a great crankset.


Cross Racing Oklahoma Style

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On Saturday I raced the Hurtland Cross in downtown Tulsa Oklahoma.  I’ve raced cross a few times in Oklahoma, mainly in Tulsa.  And it can be all over the place, weather and courses.  I’ve raced mainly on dirt at 90’s and I’ve raced in 3 inches of frozen slush at below 32.  Saturday, it was great cross weather, 40’s and blustery.

The Hurtland race is carry over from the Tulsa Tough Criterium series.  I’m not sure what the brainstorm was to come up with the cross race, but they did a super job for their first cross race.  I believe they had over 300 riders in their event, which is pretty great for an Oklahoma cyclocross.

I raced both the masters and Elite races.  I usually only race Elite races, but felt I really need more time racing cross, plus there was super prize lists for all masters categories.  I sort of felt like a cherry picker, but I do qualify by age.  Anyway, I did progress in my “cyclocross comeback” by racing twice.

The early race was at 11:30.  It was in the lower 40’s and windy.  I didn’t really have the energy to warm up too much.  I rationalized this by saying the masters race was really warm up for the Elite race at 3, which was partially true.

The masters race went pretty good.  They was a $100 holeshot prize, which is more than winning a local race normally.  I won the holeshot and just kept the speed up.  Nothing really to report here other than I found it hard to ride easy, like not race pace, when I was racing, even though I was a long ways ahead and knew that I had another hour race to do soon.  I wonder why that is?  One notable thing was late in the race, I was coming up behind some guys and I’m not sure if it was a bug, or piece of leaf or what, but I inhaled something into my lungs, or maybe just my throat.  I coughed for the last half lap of the race and never seemed to dislodge the object. I still feel it in there, which is maybe just psychosomatic or scarring or something, but I’m still trying to get it out.

Anyway, I had a couple hours before the Elite race.  I went back to the van and took a nap in the sun.  I’m not sure if I actually slept, but when I got up about an hour before the race, I felt toasted.  Surprisingly so.  I was foggy in the head and tired.  But when I got on my bike, I felt pretty good pedaling.  I went over to the Brady district and had a double espresso and was ready to go.

I was lined up at the back of the 40+ guys at the start, plus I missed my pedal a couple times, so was buried turning onto the grass.  But I knew I had no chance to win.  Tristan Uhl, which was top ten in Louisville a couple weeks ago, was on form.  Plus, Jacob Lasley, Joseph Schmalz and a couple other guys that would be hard to hunt down from the back.

I had an okay race.  I wasn’t turning that well fast on chewed up grass for some reason, even though I was riding lots of tread on my front tire.  I was back in the 20’s after two laps, but started passing guys pretty steadily the next few laps.  I decided that I was just going to do my own race and not worry about racing other guys during the race.

So, I just kept passing guys and having them sit on for a while, only to hopefully disappear later. I finally got up to the top ten with a lap and a half to go.  But, by then, the guys ahead of me were pretty spread out.  I kept riding hard and had to do a little racing on the final lap, but still won a 3 up sprint for 9th.

I felt like I was sort of running out of juice the last couple laps, but when I looked at my lap times, my final laps of the last race was the fastest I did all day.  It is weird how I could be so off there.  My perception was that I was going slower.  Maybe it was because I had the course down better or something.

Tristan went on a won the race ahead of Skyler Mackey, KCCX and Jacob Lasley.  Joseph finished 4th and said his stair running was pitiful.  I was only 30 seconds out of 6th and I lost all that on the first lap.

Overall, it could have gone a lot worse.  I am not too crippled and got some skills back. Yesterday riding I was waxed.  I was still trying to cough up the “object” and felt pretty wasted.  This morning I feel a little better.  We’ll see tonight, on the Monday night ride.  I’ve been doing this the last couple weeks and it has been pretty steady fast each time.

I haven’t really looked into the future too much.  I know there is Jingle Cross and Ruts and Guts in two weeks.  I’m not sure what is going on this weekend after Thanksgiving.  Now that Masters Cyclocross Worlds are now going to be in San Jose two weeks after Nationals, I’m way more interested in the next couple months of cyclocross.  But, it is going to be hard to gauge what I really need to do to be going fast in January.  I’m already a little tweaked from the last couple years, so I have to be conservative and try to rein in my urge to race a ton, I think.


Could get too much further back at the start.

Could get too much further back at the start.

I was riding with my friend Matt Ankeny for a couple laps early, but Matt needed to rest a couple laps after starting super hard.

I was riding with my friend Matt Ankeny for a couple laps early, but Matt needed to rest a couple laps after starting super hard.

I was just trying to get better a most everything both races.

I was just trying to get better a most everything both races.