Monthly Archives: July 2015

Wierdness after the Tour

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Chris Froome is a strange guy to follow if you’re a fan of the sport.  His style is so awkward looking it becomes very unpleasant to watch if you’re knowledgeable about the sport.   His pedaling style and head dipping aren’t the prettiest.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t root for him.  He is continually getting hit with the doping questions and usually answers them nicely.  He seems like a real nice guy, from what I’ve heard and by watching his interviews.

He is getting hounded by skeptics who demand more information about his physiological abilities and such.  In response, Chris said –

“I am actually probably looking into doing a bit more testing with the team now in terms of looking into things like lung capacity, in terms of VO2 max for example. Maybe that is something we will look at doing in this next period.” 

“I think we can certainly learn from it. We haven’t done any of that kind of testing on any of the riders, from what I know. I am sure we could learn from it.”

That quote, if correct, got my antenna up.  He is saying that Team Sky, the best funded professional cycling team in the World doesn’t do physiological testing on any of its riders?  That has to be nearly impossible.  Chris himself spends weeks sitting up on top of a volcano in Tenerife, trying to get that extra bit of advantage, thru acclimation ,and he is saying that his team doesn’t do any Vo2 max testing to see if this has helped him?   Guess they just use his blood for that?

In an another interview with the Daily Mail, Chris Froome stated when asked about doping-

“It’s hard for me to give a response to that,’ says Froome. ‘Because the whole objective of all our training is to get the numbers as high as possible. And yet once we do that, we are accused of doping.”

“At some point, people have to realize that the sport is progressing. Our training techniques are getting better. Nutrition is getting better. Our equipment is getting better. The numbers should therefore be getting better.”

Numbers is the key word here.  Is his definition of numbers strictly power numbers?  Because he, and his team, obviously aren’t worried about physiological numbers such as VO2 max, the gold standard in endurance athletics.   It’s just weird.

And talking about power, when he has been hounded so long about incredible wattage climbing, especially since someone hacked Team Sky’s “numbers” stash, someone at Sky decided to address the situation.  Team Sky claims that when used in conjunction with osymetric chainrings, power meters over-report Chris’ power by approximately 6%. Tim Kerrison,  Sky’s head of athlete performance said this and two weeks too late for my liking.

It is so weird that they have a head of athlete performance and they don’t do testing of individual athletic performance , like lung capacity and VO2 testing.  I guess power is everything to them.  It is just all so strange.images

Next, Contador just calls in quits in July?  I guess he is feeling bad and decided that he’s had enough bike racing in 2015.  He says he’s concentrating on next year’s Tour de France and then the Olympic games in Rio.   

I guess it is two and out for him this year, since he did double up with the Giro and Tour.   I think he did this once before, winning the Tour and then disappearing for something like 9 months before starting the next spring and smearing everyone.  I guess it works for him, no matter how strange it seems racing only half a season.

surfing        I guess Alberto is looking for a little more beach time this year.                                                      (Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

 

Dirty Copper Triangle Plus Some

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Yesterday was an all day affair on my mountain bike.  Vincent and I decided to ride the Dirty Copper Triangle, which is a 30+mile loop that starts in Copper Mountain and does 3 passes.  It is really a small loop inside the Copper Triangle, which is Copper Mountain to Leadville, thru Minturn, Vail and then back to Copper Mountain.  We’re doing that ride on Saturday.

We met up with Bob Campbell, VIncent’s friend that I rode the Old Pueblo MTB race with on a team back, in February, in Copper Mountain and then started off.  But not very fast because it is pretty much straight uphill for an hour.  We were on the Colorado Trail and it is great, nearly the perfect grade for a mountain bike.

On the way up, we ran into a rider that was doing the Colorado Trail Race, an unsupported 500 mile race from Durango to Denver.   I didn’t quite catch the rider’s name, Fabian is what I heard, but that’s not close (Jefe Branham is his name) .  Anyway, he was super nice and had time to talk for a few minutes.  He was in either 2nd or 3rd, depending on who what right, but whatever his place, he was tough.  He was 3 days into it and was going to finish today sometime.  He has done the race before, but this year he said he decided to sleep some.  He said the guy that was winning was sleeping too, but riding so much faster.  Anyway, I wished him luck.

It was beautiful riding up to Kokomo Pass.  We rode over 11,000 feet for quite a while.  It was a super day, not much wind and warm.  It is unusual to be up over 12000 feet in a short sleeve jersey.

We were taking our time.  Bob burped a tire on a descent and we had to stop a couple times to put air into it, but that was fine.  It was nice not having to concentrate on the trail and get a chance to look around at the amazing scenery.  And it was really amazing.

The last half of the ride is pretty much on jeep road.  Climbing up Resolution Road is really difficult.  It starts gradual, then get steeper and steeper.   It took me nearly an hour to climb, that that was stopping a couple times to regroup.  I was looking at the Strava times and I was right about the same as Scott Tietzel and Kris Ochs’ time of 49 + minutes, subtracting out the 10 minutes my Garmin said I wasn’t moving.  There is only one speed to go the last couple miles. And that is slow.  I think the grade max’s out at 16-18% and it is a little tricky picking lines.  I had the unfortunate luck of a bunch of quads passing me, up and down, on the hardest sections, thus bad air.

We got to the top of the pass and it was pretty much all downhill back to Copper Mountain.  It took us a little over 3 hours riding time, with most of that climbing slow.

I told Vincent that I wanted to ride back to Silverthorn from Copper Mountain.  When I got to Frisco, I decided that I hadn’t ridden enough so I started south, planning on doing a loop of Lake Dillon.  But I got to the Peaks Trail, a trail going from Frisco to Breckenridge and decide to ride it.  I felt pretty good, nearly 4 hours into it.  I was riding this trail much better than I had a couple days ago.  It flows so much better going faster.

Next thing I know, I’m in Breckenridge.  The trail was such a blast I just couldn’t stop.  I called Vincent to tell him that I was still over 20 miles away and he said he would get dinner and have it waiting.  What service!

I just rode back on the bike path that was along the road.  It was a wicked headwind.  Pretty soon, a father and son passed me,on road bikes, going pretty good, over 23-25mph.  I just got on behind them and got a free ride most of the way to Frisco.

Coming over the dam in Dillion, I had that nice endorphine buzz going.  There is so much scenery to try to absorb.  I still had 5 miles to get back to Vincent.  Right before the house, I had to cross the Blue River, which is really a big stream.  I stopped at the bridge and went to the water to do an “ice plunge”.  The water is pretty cold, not freezing, but cold enough that after about 5 minutes my whole body was chilled.  It was a super way to finish the day.

Vincent had dinner waiting for me.  And I was hungry.  Pretty great day all around.

Total I had 71 miles in just a tad over 6 hours, with 7000 feet of climbing.  It seemed like a lot more climbing, but the Peaks Trail is really pretty flat and riding back from Breckenridge doesn’t have any hills either.

This is going to be a big week, for me, riding.    I already have 14 hours and almost 17K feet of climbing.  That is in just 3 days.   I’m going to ride over to Vail and back today on my road bike, which is a little under 80 miles.  Then rest tomorrow and ride the organized Copper Triangle ride on Saturday, from Silverthorn, which will be close to 120 miles I think.  That should make the week a little over 30 hours, with over 30000 feet of climbing I think.

Okay, enough of this saga.  I should get out and enjoy the mountains some.

Here are some photos from yesterday.

Bob and VIncent ahead of me starting out in Copper Mountain.  The pile of snow is left over from a half pipe or something.

Bob and VIncent ahead of me starting out in Copper Mountain. The pile of snow is left over from a half pipe or something.

Vincent climbing up towards Kokomo Pass.

Vincent climbing up towards Kokomo Pass.

We met up with  Jefe Brannum, who was doing the Colorado Trail Race.  Super nice guy.

We met up with Jefe Branham, who was doing the Colorado Trail Race. Super nice guy.  His bike weighed over 50 lbs loaded up.

Top of Kokomo Pass.

Top of Kokomo Pass.

I got a ton better descending yesterday.  I started riding more relaxed, thus faster.

I got a ton better descending yesterday. I started riding more relaxed, thus faster.

The father son duo that I caught a ride behind on the way back from Breckenridge.  Initially, the father was pulling and I was getting almost no draft.  But then the son got to the front and I was on easy street.

The father son duo that I caught a ride behind on the way back from Breckenridge. Initially, the father was pulling and I was getting almost no draft. But then the son got to the front and I was on easy street.

Soaking my legs in the chilly water of the Blue River.

Soaking my legs in the chilly water of the Blue River.

My legs are starting to look a little creepy.  I have always had an issue with scrapping up my shins on my pedals mountain biking, so this is nothing new.

My legs are starting to look a little creepy. I have always had an issue with scrapping up my shins on my pedals mountain biking, so this is nothing new.

 

Taking Antibiotics

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I’ve felt ill-ish for the past two weeks.  I’ve had this nagging sore throat, just on one side, that isn’t going away.  Initially I thought it might have something to do with a questionable tooth, but now I’ve pooh-poohed that idea.

Anyway, after the race on Saturday, I was drinking a protein shake, and when I swallowed, my throat got way worse, like 10 X as painful.  Plus the pain wasn’t just a mild sore throat, when I swallowed, but it was sharp and radiated up towards my ear.  This was a big change in just a few seconds.

It stayed like this for a night, then Vincent told me sometimes, when he has a sore throat, he puts salt directly on the sore area using a wet Q tip covered with salt.  I thought, why not?  I did this a few times and my throat actually felt a little better.  Not as good as it it initially, but better.

But, yesterday I woke up again with a bad sore throat.  Or 1/2 sore throat really, since it is only on one side.

The weird part of the whole thing is that I really haven’t felt bad in any other way.  Yesterday I thought that it  was moving into my chest.  I felt a pain in the middle of my back, between my shoulder blades, that felt like it was from my chest.  But, it hasn’t really gone there.

This all started when I went back home a couple weeks ago and my brother Kris was super sick. Sore throat, coughing yellow stuff, the whole deal.  I thought I had avoided it, but my throat got sore, then I drove out here.  Bill came out and he got a sore throat within a couple days.  Then he started coughing, etc.  In the meantime, Kris’ friend Rita got ill too.  Both Kris and Rita took Zithromax, with Rita getting better instantly and Kris feeling the same.

I’ve written before about Zithromax.  It is a no-no for athletes.  Plus, it makes me feel like shit forever.

It has been nearly a month for Kris and he says he’s 95% good.  Bill said he feels better too, but not 100%.  I’m teetering on the edge.  I can’t decide whether to go to minor-med and get it checked out, or just try to ride the whole ordeal out.  I’ve never had  a sore throat this long in my life.

I have some friends in Wisconsin and they told me their daughters, who are in college, have never taken any antibiotics in their lives.  I found this nearly impossible.  How could they have lived nearly 20 years and never contracted an illness that nearly mandates antibiotics.  A bad ear infection, strep throat, etc.   Really, I think it is great, but just don’t understand.  By the time I was in college, I’d taken handfuls of antibiotics.

Anyway, I don’t get along well with antibiotics. Like I said above,  I won’t take Zithromax.  It gets rid of the symptoms, but I can’t pedal my bike worth for nearly a month after.  I’ve taken antibiotics a couple of times in the last 5 years and they didn’t seem to bother me all that much, but I don’t remember the name.

I know if I go to minor-med, they are going to prescribe some general upper respiratory antibiotic.  That is what they do.   I have three weeks until Leadville, so I’m thinking maybe I should just bite the bullet and do it.  I am getting just a little worse everyday lately.  But, maybe it will clear on its own?

The problem is my legs have felt pretty good riding at altitude.  I don’t have much air yet, but that is to be expected.  I’m trying to ride higher, over 10000 feet as much as possible. Monday I rode to Leadville and back from Silverthorne, over Freemont Pass, and yesterday rode MTB bikes high above Breckenridge.

Today we’re meeting up with some other guys and riding the Dirty Copper Triangle from Copper Mtn.  It is only 30 miles, but pretty steep climbing and lots of riding over 11000-12000 feet.   I don’t seem to be getting that much worse just continuing to train, so I’m just going with it, as of now.

Anyway, I’ll decide after the ride today.  I’ll see how I feel at the end and then make a spur of the moment decision.  Probably not the best way to deal with it, but I don’t have the knowledge to really do it any other way.  It’s really hard to know what is best until after the fact, looking back.

penicillin.jgp

 

Vincent is carrying this bag of Fig Newtons with him this morning.  This worries me immensely.

Vincent is carrying this bag of Fig Newtons with him this morning. This worries me immensely.

Oral EPO – FG-4592

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Seems like I could be wasting my time trying to acclimate to high altitude when all I’d have to do is take a pill to do it.  Two cyclists so far have tested positive for FG-4592, an oral product that stimulates your body into producing more EPO “naturally”.

There are lots of disturbing aspect to this whole thing, the ease of use, etc., but what bothers me the most is that FG-4592 is only in clinical trials and supposedly can’t be out there for the “public” to use.  I wonder how many other drugs that aren’t approved are being abused by athletes?  I’d assume a lot.

David Howman, director of WADA, said in a speech that around 10% of elite athletes are taking drugs, in his opinion.  That seems low to me, at least in regard to cycling, but if he is accurate, then I wonder where those 10% finish in relation to the non-doping athletes?  I’d assume at the top.

Howman, in his speech, said that he was worried about the use of drugs in young athletes, teenagers that are trying to take a “shortcut” to get to an elite level.  I understand his concern completely.  Kids are stupid.  If they understand that they can’t compete unless they dope, then a lot of them will eventually dope.  That isn’t brain surgery.

Anyway, this oral EPO is concerning.  You don’t have to be injecting it and worrying about an overdose, I’d once again assume.  For some reason, at least to me, taking a pill seems much safer than sticking needles into one’s self, thus more attractive to someone that is thinking about taking the step of doping in sport.

I’m not sure this will ever end.  Howman said that he thinks within 5 years that doping will be a criminal offense.  I wrote about this earlier.  I think that would be a major step forward in the fight against doping in sports.

Many athletes would not risk serving jail time to be successful. The risk/reward aspect of doping does a flip-flop and I believe it would reduce doping dramatically.  Only time will tell I guess.

FG_4592__39739.1363378944.198.198 copy

 

 

 

Winter Park Freeride Festival MTB Race

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The cross country MTB race at the Winterpark Freeride festival is pretty secondary to all the other stuff going on there on the weekend.  The cross country is part of the Winterpark MTB series and it has a pretty descent attendance.

I’m just getting back into the sport, so have to pay my dues.  Especially at altitude.  I wrote a little about the event yesterday, but it was way more than just being a little off in my abilities.

It is a pretty crazy hard start to the 25 mile point to point event.  It goes uphill for maybe 20 minutes, with the top section being super steep and loose.  I knew I had no ability to start hard at 9000+ feet of altitude, at any pace, so I just casually rode off the line.  Eventually I settled into a place towards the end of the field of 30+ riders.

Soon guys started fading as the front of the race pulled away and disappeared up the hill.  I didn’t really care, I had no expectations and there wasn’t anything I could do about it anyway.

Towards the top of the climb, Vincent came up to me on the steep pitch.  We kept going and eventually caught up with Brad BIngham, welder at Eriksen and just off a 14th place at the MTB National Championships in Mammouth Lake, CA last weekend.  I started down the first descent and didn’t realize how technical it was going to be.  Brad, then Vincent, blew by me and disappeared down the trail.

I did catch a couple guys going downhill, then a couple more on the next climb.  I was actually riding better than I had anticipated.  I’ve had a sore throat the whole time I’ve been in Colorado, and knew that racing, and breathing super hard, was going to be a bit risky since I felt a smidgen sick.  But, I seemed to be okay.

About 2/3’rd the way through, I could see Vincent again.  He was catching a couple guys on a climb and I was maybe 30 seconds behind him.  He jumped over the top to get into the singletrack in the lead and I got stuck behind them.  I tried to pass the first guy at the bottom of a descent, but only managed to miss a small bridge over a little stream and ended up in mid-calve deep water not moving.  I just laughed.

I caught back up with these two other guys and they were nice enough to let me pass when it got a little more open.  I could then see Vincent and then Brad on the next climb.  I caught up to VIncent and asked him when the race was over.  I had pretty much “experienced” enough of that trail.  It took a lot of energy and concentration to go downhill fast.  And it seemed mildly unsafe.  I was wishing for a dual suspension bike the whole time.

Anyway, I passed both Vincent and Brad on the next climb and then there was a longish open climb up by the ski resort in Winter Park.  I couldn’t see anyone a head of me, which was at least a minute and those guys were pretty close behind me.

We hit another singletrack, which kind of turned out to be the last one, with a small hill in the middle.  Brad passed me first.  He is a super descender.  Looking at Strava, he has the fastest times on many of the downhill sections of the race.   If he doesn’t have them, then Vincent does.

I rode behind Brad for a little bit until I caught my left foot on a sawed off tree stump and tweaked my ankle.  Right after that, there was a super tight u-turn, which I could barely negotiate.  Vincent came by pretty soon after.

I pretty much lost motivation here.  My Garmin was covered with mud, so I couldn’t see how much longer it was going to be.  It seemed like we had raced enough.

So, I just rolled along and then we dropped down onto a road and voilá, the finish line was just a couple hundred meters down the road.  That was nice.

It was pretty warm by then, maybe in the lower 80’s.  It felt nice just standing there after the finish, letting the sun shine down.

I talked a little with Brad and Vincent.  Brad said he wasn’t having a very good climbing day, even though he felt good before the race.  Funny how that is.   Brad was just a few seconds ahead of Vincent at the end. Vincent had been racing expert and this was his official first Pro race.  He finished 9th, which is pretty great considering. I was 10th, which is fine.

I can’t complain much about how I was going.  I didn’t put much effort into the whole deal and felt way better than I had anticipated.  I had done a pretty hard week, I had nearly 25 hours of riding and was pretty tired at the start, so I wasn’t expecting much.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I learned a bunch about what I need to do to get back up to speed racing off-road, on real MTB courses.  And this was a real MTB course.   We were just 4 or 5 minutes back on 2nd place, which was nice to know that we weren’t just getting smeared.

I wasn’t really prepared for how technical the descending was going to be.  I’m not sure I would have been better pre-riding the course.  It might have spooked me.  I did improve though.

Anyway, it was good.  My throat got a ton worse on Saturday night, then yesterday, I started putting salt onto a wet Q tip and putting it directly on the sore area.  It seems to be working, it feels much better.

I moved up to higher altitude last night, drove up to Silverthorne.  So I’m close to 9000 feet, maybe a tad lower.  Vincent is coming up tonight and we’re going to ride the Copper triangle for MTB bikes on Wednesday, it seems.  I think it is less than 40 miles, but it sounds like it is going to be a lot of steep climbing.   As long as this throat thing stays the same, or gets better, then I’ll be happy.

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Rusty Skillset

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Yesterday I raced a cross country MTB race in Winterpark.  Earlier this year, I had raced in Vail, at the GoPro games and also the Lutsen 99’r, but this race was a “real” MTB race.  Steep climbing, from the gun, and pretty technical descents.  Technical enough that I felt out of my element.

It is strange how you can get rusty at things that you don’t do often.  You know, in your mind, that you have the skills to do the task, but it seems so intimidating that you just can’t let go.

I realized this on Friday when Vincent, Bill and I rode over to South Table and started down a pretty steep trail.  So steep that we had to walk a short bit.  Then it got to a place that looked ridable, but the downside of not staying on your bike was pretty heavy.

I used to ride descents like this easily.  I knew it and that was the reason that I finally clipped in and just did it.  After I got moving, it was fine, but trying to overcome the first concern was difficult.

Gathering skills for the sport of cycling is one thing that has always attracted me to the sport. There is a huge skill set needed to excel at all disciplines of the sport.   No one rider has all the skills, there are to many.  But, possessing more of the skills make you more versatile and makes the sport easier.  Possessing skills sometimes makes up for lack of power or speed.  Each aspect of the sport needs its own skill set, although some overlap somewhat.  Cycling is a combination of athletic ability, skills and intellect.   That is the best thing about the sport.

Anyway, I got better as the race went on.  Well, I got better when I applied an effort.  It takes a ton of concentration to flow down a fast singletrack over loose rock.  The downside can be huge.

Anyway, I finished the race without a drop of blood on me, which is pretty unusual for me. Plus, I raised my bike handling skills a level.  Now just a couple more levels to go before I’m mildly content.

There was some stuff like this, but most of the real technical sections were chutes of loose rock with small drop offs.

There was some stuff like this, but most of the real technical sections were chutes of loose rock with small drop offs.

Racing in Winterpark

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I really have no business racing today, for a variety of reasons, which aren’t really important.  I am going to race today because it sounds like fun.

Vincent has been planning on racing here all week.  He got tired of beating upon all the expert 40+ guys, so decided he was going to be racing Pro now, which is a great decision.  There are too many guys that like to win over trying to improve, or challenge themselves.

So, I decided to tag along.  I didn’t really plan on racing, it is kind of a spur of the moment decision.  But, I hope, a good one.

Last year at this time, I was on crutches and went to this very race and waited around the expo area for Bill and Vincent to finish the race.  It is a point to point race that starts down in Fraser and finishes in Winterpark.  I have no idea what the course is like, which is fine.  I just need to live the MTB lifestyle a bit to get solid footing back into the sport.

This is part of the Colorado Freeride Festival.  It was pretty fun hanging out last year, watching the jumping and seeing the enduro guys take off, but when I was there, I wanted to race.  Now that I have that opportunity, it would be stupid to waste it because of nothings.

Okay, it is early and it is an hour and half drive up to Winterpark from Arvada.  It is going to be a little chilly, I bet, riding over to Fraser for the start.  Plus, it goes straight uphill right from the gun.  You saw how well that worked for the Sky team yesterday in the Tour.  I doubt it is going to be much different for me today.

freeride festival