Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Just a Blip



Feeling guilty about not writing.  Almost 2 months since the last entry.  No real reason, just lazy.  No body does these things anymore, heck I don't even read the blogs on my list.  I have years of journal entries going back to the late 70's so it's something I've done for quite a while, just not in a shared format.

Anyhoo, FB did one of those "look at what you posted 2 years ago" things and it was a blog I posted right after I broke my hip.  Wow, I'd forgotten so much already about those first weeks.  Now I'm glad that I documented it, even if nobody else is.  I wonder where (if) I'll find this post in 10 years?  Where will it be?  Maybe I should print these?  And do what with them?  Sad, all this really interesting stuff lost to time.

Racing

Bike racing, I've done some.  First round of the FSC was at Hailes again.  I rode 60+ base and I'm proud of it.  Last year I was running third when second place crashed and gifted me the spot.  This year I got first and even managed to clean some sections I couldn't do last year.  So that's an improvement.

My home race contained some bad luck for me in the way of a flat front tire.  Only DNF I've had in years.  It was my fault, I was well in the lead going into a rock creek crossing when I saw a rider walking his bike backwards in the racing line.  I should have just slowed down but nooooo.  I moved over and hit a rock.   Pffffffffffttttttt went the tire.  I was bummed but not for long.  Only one more MTB race on my calendar this year, then I start training for the GSC/SERC again.  Damn, I'll be 62 when this next season starts.

Life

The Kid is still at UF, which in itself is a good thing.  We miss him after having him home all summer but it's not like when he first left.  As I was loading up at Forest Meadows last night I suddenly thought about all the times we rode there when he was younger.  It went by quick.

The Lovely Wife is still teaching.  She's been a awful good sport about going to all these races with me.  I should do some of the stuff she likes to do now that it's the off season.  Whoa, let's not get crazy here.

I am making a pledge to myself to stay regular with this.  It may come in handy someday.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Adrift



The summer drags on as it has always seemed to do.  The Kid went back to UF, leaving the house a little empty.  You'd think we'd be used to it by now.  Schools back in for the Lovely Wife which is always hard for us to adjust to.  Being an elementary school teacher would never be my pick of something to do.

A Plan

Or rather a lack of one.  It's too early to start training for GSC/SERC.  I am enjoying just riding the rides as they develop.  My riding associates can't believe when I shrug and say "no plans today".

I do have a couple of decisions to make.  First, should I train with nationals in mind?  Ignoring the GSC/SERC year end placing?  I am considering either riding 50+ base or 50+ sport.  Both would help me build fitness approaching nationals but would have less of a chance of success than defending my 60+ championships.  I struggled with this all season.  Let's see how I do in the FSC 60+ in the three races I plan on attending.

Second, I am thinking of hiring a coach.  CTS seems to have the most experience with gray headed athletes.  I have had great results with LW Coaching.  Not just placing but injury and general health.  But I really have the urge to try something more advanced.  

Which leads me back to my first decision.  It doesn't make sense to spend all that money and effort just to beat up on those same 60+ guys in GSC/SERC again.  First world problems huh?

Anyhoo, I miss riding with Jim, it looks like he'll never come back.  Dr. Sworks has been out for a while, he's been my steady Tuesday-Thursday training partner for the past 2 years.  We have had some good group rides but we seem to loose momentum pretty quick.  Maybe when the weather cools off?

Just a few more weeks till the Tallahassee race.  I am looking forward to participating.  See ya there!



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Staying Calm



I put the last post on FB because a friend of mine doesn't know how to find this without FB.  He said he lives vicariously through my stories and was missing them.  I do have that going for me.

Speaking of FB, I understand all the mental crap that goes with "liking" and getting "likes" on posts.  It's weak to crave the attention of others, I get it.  Some (a very few) really care about the actual activity.  It's just that it's almost required to let your "friends" know how things went.  I like to look at race results and hear race stories, even if it's just in print.  Our sport (mountain biking) has such few participants that you can't talk about it around the water cooler at the office so I guess social media is the next best thing.


No Plan

So I'm off any kind of training plan for a few weeks.  It makes me nervous that I lack direction but it's good for me in the long run.  I have really enjoyed riding without any type of prescription.  I'll use this time in the gym to work on my weak leg and some other things I was afraid of doing for fear it would effect my races.

Learned

One of the things I am taking away from my Nats experience is that I can do more than I'm doing. That there is still some (quite a bit actually) room for improvement.  I may be limited on the mental side of the sport but I believe I can ramp up the physical side some more without getting hurt or worse, burned out.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Nats

Mountain Bike Nationals 2017, Snowshoe West Virginia.  We were there.  But I almost wasn't in the race.

The first section I walked
After we  arrived Monday evening Blake and I unloaded the bikes and headed out for a sight in lap.  Somehow we got separated and I ended up by myself.  He had ridden this exact same course in the snow back in October and had repeatedly assured me it was "not as hard as Red Bug".  And like a fool I believed him.

After a fun downhill and a steep short climb I hit the "Fingers" section (see above).  I was okay until it started going downhill and got slick.  Off the bike I came and started walking.

Some more steep climbs and a tricky off camber brought me to the uphill rock section.  This put me off the bike again and really knocked the wind out of my sails.  I was hungry, tired from the drive, and more than a little aggravated.  When I finally made it back to the condo I was convinced I had ruined my vacation.  There was no way I was gonna race that on Thursday.  Blake said we would do another lap tomorrow and he'd try to talk me off the ledge I'd crawled out on.



The second section I walked

Tuesday and Things Start to Look Better

Funny how roles reverse themselves.  Blake talked me through every section and I gained a big dose of confidence.  I didn't clean all of it but I realized I could manage it.  Then about 2 in the afternoon a thunderstorm hit the mountain and the small amount of confidence I had gained started to slip away.




The approach to the uphill rock section


Wednesday, the Day Before the Race

Fortunately amature practice was scheduled for late in the day so some of the water had time to run off.  Still, the Fingers section was like a greased downhill, I managed to ride it but it wasn't pretty.  The rock section was much more slippery and forced me off quicker than it had the day before.  I struggled to maintain a good attitude.





Race Day

I finally got my head right (or as right as my head can get) and decided to just have a good time.  After all, I was at nationals and riding in the mountains.  Even though I had a front row call up I lined up in the back of the 15 rider field and just rode to finish.

Not only was I out done skill wise, these guys were strong.  It did give me hope when 15 60-64 year olds can go that hard.  I got 13th and was glad to finish.  It was like nothing I had ever ridden.


You can't even tell this is a hill
I was able to hang with a small group until the last of 3 laps when I slipped down in the dreaded Fingers section.  I managed to follow that up with another small crash in the uphill rock garden. 

Anyhoo , I got beat pretty bad.  My season of racing base class distances didn't help prepare me for sport class times in this race.  We don't have anything that even remotely resembles this type of terrain around here, nor did we face something like this in either the SERC or GSC.  The longest off road climb I train on is not even 1/3 the length of one of the climbs on this track.  In the end I am glad I went and very glad I lined up to race.  Snowshoe is a neat resort and we all enjoyed the week there.  Blake ended up outside the top 10 in his class.  He did make the USAC highlight reel on Instagram with his rock garden endo.  Watching the pros race was a lesson in smooth.

After my race I said I wasn't coming back next year.  Just a couple of days later I was considering riding it again.  

THE CRASH is still in the back of my mind.  I unclip before I really need to in technical terrain.  In fact I do it without thinking about it, even though I'm telling myself not to.  I know I need to practice skills if I'm going to do these types of races.  On the upside there are a lot of guys (and girls) my age or older who are doing the work and are able to compete at this level, so there is room for improvement.

Whats Next?

So, the 2018 GSC/SERC schedule is out.  Should I enter the 50+ sport to build my skills or defend the 60+ championship?  I plan to race 3 rounds of the FSC starting with Tallahassee in September.  I'll enter the 60+ there since those guys schooled me last year.  

I haven't ridden the MTB since I got back.  Just can't get into it in this heat.  I'll give it another couple of days then start back on a base type plan.  I have a lot of work to do.



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Almost There



SERC and GSC are in the books.  I never thought I'd be able to finish the GSC yet alone the SERC when it all started on that rainy cold March weekend.  My leg power was still down as was my confidence from THE CRASH.  Even though it had been 18 months earlier it was still in my head.


Still is, just not as often.



My decision to enter the 60+ base class has been thoroughly mulled over.  Yes I won both series, even overcoming a 15 point deficit in SERC due to missing the second round (I won't make that mistake again).  I did enjoy the shortened race time and it was better for rehabbing my leg.  I would have had better races in the 50+ base but I didn't know that back in March.  I hope to do the series again in 2018.   Which class will I contest?  Lets see what life looks like at 62 and then decide.

I enjoyed almost all of the courses.  The Bergers put on a professional event.  I met good people and we had a good group from Tally going.  It didn't hurt that we had good weather at almost all the races.
The Kid got into it so it was a real treat to spend time as a family again.  I realize the times we will get to do this kind of stuff are coming to an end so I enjoy it even more.  The fact that Lovely Wife likes to go is like icing on a cake.  It's beyond me why she likes it so.

Forward

My leg hurts now more than it has in months.  I guess Utah followed by the short track and then the XC race (with all the climbing) may have put me in pain.  I hope it gets better before:

Nationals

A week from this Thursday I will line up for my first MTB XC national (unless it's flooding then I may chicken out).  I've done the work so I'm as ready as I'll ever be.  My leg is has me concerned but there's not much I can do about it at this point.  I will admit to not being very pumped about the race.  I got up for the GSC/SERC and that was my "A" race for the year.  Maybe I'll get my head right once I ride the track.  One things for sure it will be an experience.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Utah

A spur of the moment decision.  Very unlike me.  The Bergs had planned to go and invited me along, not sure CB actually meant for me to go though.  So I booked last minute plane tickets and got a hotel in Park City.  CB very  generously lent me a bag to fly my bike out there.  This caused me quite a bit of angst as renting was more expensive but flying my race bike halfway across the country had me nervous.  In the end I bagged it up.

On My Own

I wanted (needed) a me-only trip.  It had been 11 years since I'd been somewhere by myself.  So I left The Kid (much sadness on his part) and Lovely Wife at home.  Just having to only look after yourself after being responsible for others is like a trip back in time.  Just get myself around, eat, and ride my bike.  Simple.

Leaving Thursday

CB's son, Captain Jack (CJ) accompanied us as we loaded the bikes and bags onto the Delta baggage platform in the muggy Florida morning.  I was bouncing off the walls but the Bergs were more reserved.  They (of course) had first class tickets all the way out and back while I sat in the back with the common folk.  CB handed out hand wipes to ward off the germs we were sure to collect on the plane or in the airport, this would become important later.  Both flights were uneventful.  After landing in SLC we drug our bike bags and luggage to the rental truck and headed to PC.  We rode by my hotel in search of the condo the Bergs had rented.  Then we did it again, then again, then again.  Finally finding the rental agency and locating the keys we returned to the condo.  Their room was on the 3rd of 3 floors, no elevator, and no air conditioning.  Said CB "this is less than optimal".  My hotel room was perfect (when I finally got there) and I settled in to unpack my bike.

Ride Thursday Evening

CB wasn't feeling well so I rolled out alone and lost.  Not having a map or having any idea where to go I meandered around till I found a trail on the mountain and headed up.  I bumped into a group ride of what must have been 50 people.  I regret I didn't tag along but I was very unsure of where it might end up so I just went back to the hotel.  I hit the local grocery store which was, conveniently, located next to me for chips and beer, then to the state liquor store for some whiskey, I was ready.

The Only Day All Three of Us Would Ride, Friday

I located Wasatch Bagel just a couple of blocks from me.  This would be my favorite way to start the morning.  Food was great as was the atmosphere.  The owners were mad Mexicans and reminded me of the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld but it was worth it.  47 degrees and 20% humidity, I put on arm warmers and headed to the condo.


CJ had down loaded Trailforks and was prepared to guide us so I followed he and CB up the mountain.  If I had been on my own I'd have gone by the local bike shop for a map.  As it turned out I downloaded Trailforks later in the week (by necessity) and it worked great.

The altitude and the grade quickly put me in granny gear.  The trail was amazing, perfectly maintained, the switchbacks were doable with no ugly surprises.  In fact all the popular intermediate trails were well cared for.  The dirt was grippy even though conditions were very dry.  CB was complaining of a headache but he soldiered on.  As we headed down the mountain the first trails were full flow.  Much happiness was had.  Then CJ ventured onto some stuff that required me to dismount and do some hike a bike.  Full XC carbon fiber shoes don't make for the best hiking over loose rocks down a steep grade.  Still a great day on the bike.  I was exhausted when I got back to the hotel.  So I showered, poured a drink, and climbed into bed.

View from my room

Saturday and the Bug First Hits

CB caught it early Saturday morning.  "As sick as I've ever been in my life" he tells me when I call to find out where they are.  Damn.  So I meet CJ and we proceed to do lift runs down the mountain.  I've never ridden downhill that much.  It was almost relaxing riding back up the lift.  My legs didn't get real tired but my arms and shoulders did.   Plus it was mentally tiring covering the terrain faster than I usually do.  At the end of the day we were both tuckered out.   I headed back to the hotel and got cleaned up for the free concert.  







Sunday Alone?

CJ caught the bug early in the morning.  What bad luck.  It was going to be a lonely ride by myself.

At my favorite restaurant I was perusing FB and noticed a friend of mine was posting from Park City.  I IM'd and we set up a ride for the day.  No lifts today, we earned all our turns.  One of the best days ever on the bike.  Thanks Ted.



I had dinner with Ted and his wife at a saloon in PC to end a perfect day (for me at least).  I was paranoid I would catch the bug and froze every time my stomach rumbled.

Monday, the Last Day on The Mountain

Both the Bergs were still down.  Again, what rotten luck.  I did a little solo ride up the mountain and took my time, enjoying the views and trying to soak it all in.  Then shopping for prizes for Lovely Wife and The Kid.  Lunch was at another saloon which didn't allow anyone under 21 in the door.  No kids, no babies, nice.  After a couple of beers with lunch I went back and packed the bike up, took a dip in the pool (just to say I did it), and walked over to the grocery store for a deli sandwich, coke, and some ice cream.

Tuesday the 4th of July, The End

The flight back was uneventful.  The Bergs were quiet and I refrained from talking about my rides, we rode to the airport in silence.

Would I go back?  Oh hell yes.  For riding MTB it was perfect.  At least perfect for me and that's all that really counts.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Creeping Along

No race this past weekend.  My grass at the house is knee high so it may have been a good time to stay home.  Still went to Jax Saturday to see my mom so I got my interstate time in anyway.  Funny how going to a race the drive doesn't seem so bad but a trip like that?  Not so much fun.

So I attempted to get my training scheduled for Saturday in on Friday.  Not really the same thing as I was still tired from Thursday but it's fun to ride on Fridays, good way to end the week.  I still think I could do more training without getting into trouble.


Sunday was a group ride on MTBs through town and down to trails on the south side.  The "ride" quickly turned into a race once we hit the single track (at least for me).  It's fun to go that hard, I miss group MTB rides, gets me into uncomfortable pretty quick.  Pizza and brews followed.  I went home and took a nap.   Then attacked the yard, that was way harder than any ride.

SERC and GSC

Points are up.  I'm in first in GSC and two points out of first in SERC.  With a Saturday short track the day before the Helen XC race I'll have two opportunities to reel him in.  Sadly there's only the two of us in the 60+ class still eligible for year end awards.  When you get this age it becomes a little more difficult to stay healthy for a whole series.


That brings me to a topic I've been dwelling on since the first race in Macon.  Yes, once again, it's the subject of my choice of race class.  There seems to be a general consensus that I may be cherry picking the 60+ base class.  I'll admit the competition has not been the level I enjoyed in Florida.  It looks like the 50+ base would have been a fun group to race with but I didn't know that back in March.  It's funny, most of the people who are sharing their opinion haven't raced a series in years.

Look, I'm doing the work.  Training between 8-11 hours per week.  When talking to the other riders in my class I get the distinct impression they're not putting in any where near that kind of time.  I'm sure when I get to Nationals I'll run into 60+ guys who have been racing expert class for years.  I just don't know of any around here.


Anyhoo, I'm going to (hopefully) collect my trophies and swag for winning the championship(s).  I'll hang the plaques in my study and in the years to come I'll look back and remember what a great time I had; CHERRY PICKING THE 60+ BASE CLASS!