Monthly Archives: November 2015

Dueling Cyclo-X Races

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There really aren’t that many UCI cyclocross races here in the midwest.  At least within short-ish driving distance from my house.  But, this weekend there are two.  Both super races.  Both rider’s promoters.  I don’t quite get it.

Jingle Cross is in Iowa City Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I’ve won the race and finished on the podium a couple more times.  Now it is one of the biggest cyclocross races in the country.  The courses are all super hard with Mt. Krumpet in the mix each day.

Then there is Ruts and Guts.  You’ll notice the clickable banner above.   I’ve done this race a ton too, never won, but been on the podium.  This race has been going on for years now and Tanner does an excellent job at making it a super weekend.

I just looked and Jingle Cross has over 1700 entries for the 3 days and Ruts and Guts just over 200 for 2 days.  It doesn’t seem right.

I sure wish one of these races was last weekend.  Or next, or something.  I know these guys can’t be happy with the scheduling, but that is the way it turned out.  I have no idea why that is, but it isn’t good for riders caught in the middle.  Or the races themselves.

Jinglecross will most likely be slick.  It snowed there and now it looks like rain today, then clearing.  But the area tends to hold water.  Ruts and Guts is most likely the opposite.  Dry and fast riding.

Right now I’m leaning towards heading up to Iowa.  The “running” up Mt. Krumpet might be too much for me, but there is no better way to test it than doing it.  Plus, I need to try to ride a muddy race.  Keith Walberg has been hired to film the race and make a video, so we’ll be staying together.  Catherine is in Seattle now, but just might make it back for a little muddy racing.

I wish I could be two places at once. Most guys around here feel the same way.   It’s too bad the powers that make these decisions can’t understand this when they make the schedule.   Scheduling conflicts suck for everyone involved.


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

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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.