Near Mountain Lion Encounter

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I was just forwarded this short Youtube video from the Lake Wilson MTB race I did a couple days ago.  I guess a mountain lion was hanging out by the trail and when Kalan went by, he scared it before I got there.  The video shows it running away through the grass.  It also shows how badly I was riding, dabbing, one of lots of times, during the race.  I remember that spot.  A wind gust came, blew me a little sideways and my wheel slipped.  It is weird how the mind works.  It was super windy.   Anyway, here it is.

Heart Rate Questions

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I’ve done a few posts about athletes and their hearts.  I am lucky to have been able to go to Kansas City to see Dr. James O’Keefe, a cardiologist that was interviewed for a piece for the Wall Street Journal and did a Ted Talk about aging athletes and their hearts.  Obviously, I’m a aging athlete and have concerns about the studies.

So, I’ve been wearing a heart rate strap this year, recording my heart rate on a daily basis.  I didn’t wear one too much over the years, so don’t have a ton of data to compare myself to myself.  But the numbers are really screwy.

Here’s what I’ve found.  My max heart rate is lower generally.  I haven’t been able to use one running, since I can’t really run, but riding, it seems like my max is close to 20 beats lower than it was when I was in my 20’s.  I think that is normal.

But the weird thing is the lower number has dropped too.  Just about the same, actually more.

Yesterday I went on the evening club ride.  I am pretty tweaked from MTB racing on Sunday and wanted to rest some.  I still ended up pulling the first half of the ride, but then started sitting on. I was watching my heart rate and couldn’t believe how low it was.  How low it was while I was riding normally, and especially going downhill.

It was sitting in the mid 80’s most of the time and when I was going easier, sometimes dropped into the upper 40’s.  That was the normal number of my heart rate when I woke up when I was living at the Olympic Training Center.  I would never have thought that I would have that number while exercising.

The weird thing is when we stopped for a pee stop, my heart rate was pretty steady in the lower 60’s.  Then when we started rolling along, it dropped again to the lower 50’s, even the 40’s. What is up with that?

My max heart rate is sort of depressing.  I don’t think I’ve seen it higher than the lower 170’s this year racing.  On a trainer, I saw 181, but normally, it sits the max number is in the upper 160’s.  That is pretty low compared to historical numbers.  But it can sit super close to my max the whole race.

On Sunday, I was going pretty hard racing mountain bikes.  My max heart rate for the race was 169.  But my average heart rate was 161.  And I think it would have been a couple beats higher if I would have been going full tilt the last 20 minutes.  That is crazy, having an average heart rate just a few beats less than the max.

Early in the race, when my heart rate was 165, I was hurting.  After about 1 1/2 hours, 165 seemed easy.  So I rode with my heart rate close to 96% of my maximum and it seemed pretty easy, not an extreme effort.   This might not be so abnormal for athletes as the low numbers.

The ride I did yesterday, I was tired.  Like I said, I pulled for the first 25 miles and then sat on the rest.  The battery in my power meter died last Friday, and I forgot, so don’t have the power numbers, but I’m sure it was under 200 watts average.  But our average speed was 19 mph and it was a little hilly with some wind.  I had an average heart rate for the ride of 85 bpm.

How can I got out and do a training ride with an heart rate average of 85 bpm?  That seems silly. I don’t get it.  I don’t understand how my low number can drop into the 40’s when that used to be the numbers I had when I woke up.  My morning number is in the upper 30’s/lower 40’s now.

I don’t think I have any heart issues. I have no history in my family of anyone with heart problems.  Like I said above, I went to see James O’Keefe a couple years ago and I was good to go.

But these numbers, compared to my younger self have changed so much I don’t get it.  I’m not so worried about the situation, I’m just interested in it.  I’m wondering if it is normal?

Garmin screen from yesterday's evening ride.

Garmin screen from yesterday’s evening ride.

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I had some extra apples sitting around, so made a pie that turned out to be lunch.

I had some extra apples sitting around, so made a pie that turned out to be lunch.

Tucker got the extra pie crust.

Tucker got the extra pie crust.

 

Lake Wilson MTB Race

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I finally got to do the Lake Wilson MTB Race.  It has been on my race bucket list for a long time.  And it didn’t disappoint.

Lake Wilson is a reservoir in Central Kansas.  And the terrain around the area is unlike the rest of Kansas.  You’d think you would be in Utah or some other arid region of the country.  Small hills and lots of rocks.  Much of the trail rides next to cliff drop offs.

The race was 28 miles, but that seemed long for the conditions.  It was hot, not hot by summer standards, but hot by spring standards.  There is no shade on the course, not hardly a tree.  But the wind was out of control.  It was super windy, like 30 + and gusty.  Gusty enough that when I was riding by the edge of the reservoir, I was pretty prepared for a gust that might blow me in.

I can’t say the race was close to perfect for me.  But, looking back upon it today, it is about what I should have expected.  I am a rusty MTB racer.  It was 100% single-track, loose single track and the skills required to ride on that are something you need to practice.  I hadn’t.  I’ve ridden my Eirksen dual suspension bike 3 days this year.   It had my number from Berryman on it just a couple weeks ago. That was from October of last year.

The race is up a kilometer paved climb and then single track for the duration.  I got the whole shot, sort of.  No one was really fighting for it.  Benn Stove should have taken it, but he couldn’t decide whether it was the turn to the trail or not.

The first loop is super technical.  Like walking technical in places.  I led for just a couple hundred meters, then slid out my rear wheel on a loose corner and Micah Gordon passed me.  Then Benn caught me a little later and I let him pass me.  Then a little while later, Kalan Beisel, tried to run by me on a little walk up and I jacked him up, so just moved over and gave him a push when he went by.  I was all over the place.  My “running” on loose sandstone is pitiful at best. Mainly from my left hip, which I broke a couple years ago.  So, I was a ways back.

We did a section they called the “bird section”, but I was over cooking the corners and using a ton of extra energy as Benn, Micah and Kalan rode away together.  I wasn’t losing that much time, but using a lot of energy, which was hard to access.

I don’t get it, but I can’t get going early in a race recently.  I kept telling myself that I was going to come around, but my lower back hurt from the day before and power was hard to come by. In the back of my mind, I was worried that I was not going to come around, because of the heat, and just flail the whole day.

I eventually caught Benn again, just in time to do the same technical loop the other direction.  It was much easier to ride the other was, but Benn lost me again.  Then we went out towards the water.  I started feeling better and tried to focus, not that I wasn’t already trying to focus.

Benn was climbing pretty good, but I assumed he was going to eventually blow.  He is young and tends to have a hard time going hard for long periods just now.  I caught him, then Micha just a bit later.  We were over an hour plus into the race and I was maybe a couple minutes back on Kalan.

I started riding harder and feeling better.  I was pedalling better.  Pulling up on the backstroke while seated.  Riding less technical hills off my seat.  I was going way better, but was still dabbing a ton.  My bike handling was atrocious.   At least compared to myself.

I did a time check to Kalan and got him down to less than a minute with 7 miles to go.  I was thinking, sort of, that maybe I could catch him if I rode smooth.  But, just a little bit later, I crashed.

It was a stupid fall.  I was threading my way through two big rocks and tapped my bar end on one of them.  I was just 1/2″ inch in the wrong spot.  It twisted my bars and I high sided forward.  My bike got wedged between the rocks and I landed on another one on my right hip.  My left foot was still clipped into the pedal and I was sort of stuck there.  Adding to the misery, my left hamstring cramped.  Plus, I ripped a hole in a brand new pair of bib shorts.  Kind of a disaster.

I finally got my left foot unclipped and stood up.  I realized I wasn’t hurt much and got going, but it was at least 30 seconds, probably more.  I looked at my Garmin and realized I only had 5 miles left and couldn’t catch Kalan anymore.  So I just rode in.

I finished close to 2 minutes back in 2:16.  Not so bad really, but I have a much better race than that in me normally.  But, like I said above, I am super rusty.  If I had the race to do again, I would try to ride much cleaner.

The course doesn’t reward speed in the wrong places.  There are very few spots where you can just pedal hard and not be worried about having to brake a ton.  I hardly ever got anything near perfect.

Doug Chambers, is the man who’s passion is Lake Wilson.  He built the trails and promoted the race.  He thanked me a ton of time for coming, which was super nice.  It didn’t disappoint.

The prize list was top heavy, but great.  $1000 to win.  But it dropped to $400 for 2nd, which was great too.  I wasn’t there for money, I was there for the life experience.  And it didn’t disappoint either.

I learned a ton, or re-learned a ton.  I got to meet a bunch of new people I should have met before.  And I got to race on a new course that is incredible.  Pretty great weekend, really.

Catherine, who went with me, did great too, but she was hurt.  Not from crashing, but from riding.  If I thought I was rusty, then she was nearly seized.  On a new dual suspension bike that she’d maybe ridden 50 miles on total.  Plus, the race was the same length.  She was in 2nd for more than half the race, but bonked and crawled back.  She still finished 3rd, but she was cramped up and barely moving.  The whole drive back she was cramping in different places.  And she doesn’t cramp.

I can’t say I’m not hobbled today.  My right leg, from falling, plus my lower back. Mountain bike racing is a hard sport, especially when it is hot and you’re not conditioned for it.

Most of the course is like this. Pretty technical and exposed.

Most of the course is like this. Pretty technical and exposed.

 

The podium. Doug said it was a grassroots race, so why not a grassroots podim. It was perfect.

The podium. Doug said it was a grassroots race, so why not a grassroots podium. It was perfect.

Doug Chambers and Kalan after the race.

Doug Chambers and Kalan after the race.

On a side note, Kalan was the guy who got Tom Danielson to give him some love a couple years ago at the Pro Challenge. He just "called him a doper and told him he sucks." Nothing false there.

On a side note, Kalan was the guy who got Tom Danielson to give him some love a couple years ago at the Pro Challenge. He just “called him a doper and told him he sucks.” Nothing false there.

Catherine bought salty popcorn while were were stopping for coffee.

Catherine bought salty popcorn while were were stopping for coffee.

Every overpass on the way home, it was like this.  We tried to look it up and all we could come up with it that is was Armed Forces Day.  I'm not exactly sure what that is, but there are lots of supporters here in Kansas.

Every overpass on the way home, it was like this. We tried to look it up and all we could come up with it that is was Armed Forces Day. I’m not exactly sure what that is, but there are lots of supporters here in Kansas.

Tucker was hot too. He slept like a rock on the drive home.

Tucker was hot too. He slept like a rock on the drive home.

 

 

Ellsworth

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The title of this post is the name of the town I spent last night in.  It is a small town, south of I-70, near Central Kansas.  A little west of central.  I’m not sure I have ever been to Ellsworth, but towns like this are gems.  Travelling to towns like Ellsworth, through racing bicycles, is one of the perks that can’t be replicated.

Ellsworth has tons of history.  It was once called “The Wickedest Cattletown in Kansas”.  It was a rowdy place.   Wild Bill Hickok ran for sheriff (he lost), and Wyatt Earp was a lawman there.   Pretty rich history.  Now there is a “corrections facility” here and just plain nice people.

We ate in a steak house next door to the hotel we were staying.  The steak house was owned by a famous soccer play.  His resume is below.  The place was a trip.  Guys driving through from a motorcycle race.  Another guy, a trucker who said he had a mandatory 36 hour layover.  He was going to Garden City from Illinois.  He was carrying some super concentrated liquid fertilizer.

The motorcycle racing table kept staring at me and whispering.  Turns out they thought I was the guy that won their race.  And everyone was drinking pretty seriously.  The owner’s wife Tina, wouldn’t give Catherine a glass of wine after Catherine explained she was doing a long MTB race today.  Tina said wine dehydrates you.  Instead, she brought a slushie that had lime juice, shaved ice and bourbon in it.  Crazy.

It seems everyone knows everyone.  Really.  I heard on guy said he was busy planting his garden.  Thought he might have gone overboard.  He planted 90 tomato plants.  How many tomatoes would that produce?  Nuts.

It was really nice observing small town interactions.  Friendly, open, non-assuming, really just plain folks.

We pre-rode the course yesterday for an hour of so.  None of the rocks went away from pre-riding it a month ago.  I am rusty, but that is half the reason I’m racing here.  You can’t get back up to race speed off-road without racing off-road.  That is a fact.  I kind of hate to admit it, but I woke up at 3 am with a headache.  Plus my back is sore.  I think it is from the pitiful pre-ride.  I am just stiff from not paying my MTB dues.

The race this morning starts at 10:30.  It might have rained some last night.  Everything seems a little wet.  That would make for a trickier course.  It is 30 miles and takes a little over 2 hours I think.  That seems fast compared to pre-riding.  I guess we’ll see in a couple hours.

This is Sara K. I'm not sure if she spells her name with an h or not. Anyway, she was running this down the trail. It was so hard to ride and she was "man-handling" this brushhog deal. She must be crazy strong. She said she had been at it 4 hours. Amazing.

This is Sara K. I’m not sure if she spells her name with an h or not. Anyway, she was running this down the trail. It was so hard to ride and she was “man-handling” this brushhog deal. She must be crazy strong. She said she had been at it 4 hours. Amazing.

The local Chinese restaurant. It was closed yesterday.

The local Chinese restaurant. It was closed yesterday.

Our waiter taking a order from the table next to ours.

Our waiter taking a order from the table next to ours.

The steak house owner's resume. Click to enlarge.

The steak house owner’s resume. Click to enlarge.

Tucker running in the Yucca plants.

Tucker running in the Yucca plants.

 

Glenda Taylor Ride Tomorrow from Washburn University, Topeka

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I meant to post this a couple days ago, and was reminded just tonight, but there is a local memorial ride for our friend Glenda Taylor, who was killed at the Kansas State Time Trial Championships last year.  The ride leaves WU Art Bldg tomorrow May 22, at 11:00.  Two distances, 18 and 43 mile.  So, if you’re anywhere close to Topeka and want to ride with a bunch of great people, you should try to attend.   More information can be found here.  

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School Visit

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Yesterday morning, Bill and I headed over to Lawrence to our annual school visit at Woodlawn Elementary School.  Matt Gilhousen, founder and owner of our sponsor, TradeWind Energy, has done arranged this the past three years.  Matt lives in North Lawrence and is very supportive of his neighborhood.

We’ve given the all the kids helmets and lights before.  This year, Matt bought 21 bikes Specialized children bikes for kids that didn’t have them.  Pretty cool.

The kids are great.  The question/answer period could go on forever.  It is about half the time a question, the other half a statement.  I thought the best was “Could you go to my house and tell my dad to wear his helmet when he rides his bike?”

One kid asked about how much our bike cost.  It is nearly embarrassing for me to delve into that subject with the adults, teachers and parents there.  Telling these kids that our bikes would cost over 10K doesn’t sit well with me.  I backtracked and said that you could get a bike to compete for less than $1000, which still seemed outrageous when talking to a bunch of elementary school kids.  Maybe I’m just out of touch with costs.

This year some of the parents made a little obstacle course.  It was pretty challenging.  The rain held off, but everything was wet.  The obstacle course had some plywood teeter-totters, which seemed sketchy, but the kids weren’t fazed.

It was a good change of pace.  Tucker came and I took him for a little run in the neighborhood.  He was super excited and took off.  When we went by Matt’s house, he did a 90 degree turn and ran to his back porch.  He’d been there once, for a party, when he was 9 weeks old.  I don’t get how he remembered that.  He went there in an automobile and never wandered around his lawn.  Dogs.

I’m going to pack up and head west to Lake Wilson , which is in Central Kansas.  It is a little over 2 hours away.  I’m hoping not to get too spooked pre-riding tomorrow’s MTB race course.  It is super technical in a few places.  I am probably going to just get off and walk the technical sections.  Not that I’m that scared, it will just be faster doing it that way.  More predictable.  It just depends how the race is going deciding when to walk and when to try to ride.

It has been in the 60’s here, and tomorrow it is supposed to be in the mid 80’s and windy.  It could be worse, but racing off-road is always much hotter than on the road.  I don’t think anyone is used to those temperatures, so it shouldn’t change the results much.

Okay, once again, I need to get going to pack.

The guys talking to the kids.

The guys talking to the kids.

Matt with a couple of the kids that got new bikes.

Matt with a couple of the kids that got new bikes.

Tucker was beat after his full day.

Tucker was beat after his full day.

 

 

 

Rainy Kansas

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I drove from Winona back to Topeka last night, trying to make it in time for a ride.  But it was raining when I got back.  This morning the TradeWind Energy team is supposed to be doing our annual school talk/giveaway at a local Lawrence elementary school, but it is raining again/still.  I’m not sure how that is going to work.  We might be inside?

Anyway, I looked at the forecast and 5 out of the next 7 days it is supposed to rain.  Guess that is normal for May.  Thought it was April showers bring May flowers?

We only get around 35 inches of rain a year total, but it usually comes in big dumps.  Not the 1/8 of an inch Seattle or Portland gets.  I love spring thunderstorms, they really cleans the air.

I’m still planning on going to Lake Wilson tomorrow to race MTB on Sunday.  The course is technical enough that it deserves as much pre-riding as possible, but that sometimes just wears you out.

I’m not sure what I’m doing next weekend for Memorial Day.  Trudi is going to Winston-Salem after Tour of California and wants me to bring Tucker down there.  Then there are lots of race options here, with Quad Cities being the norm, then a MTB race, The Growler, in Gunnison that Vincent is doing, and also another Flyover Series race in Minneapolis.

Okay, I have to get going.  I hate these early morning deals.  I’m not really a morning guy until I have to be one.  Then I sort of enjoy it.

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Tucker seemed all legs yesterday in a corn field in Central Iowa we stopped at. He likes chasing birds some to stretch his legs.

Tucker seemed all legs yesterday in a corn field in Central Iowa we stopped at. He likes chasing birds some to stretch his legs.