Sunday, March 30, 2008

3/27 Team Meeting Report

Excellent team meeting last Thursday! Thank you to everyone who gave up their evening's training for a couple hours to hang out, drink some Pumphouse beer (and Ziggi's coffee), meet 80 of your teammates, learn what's going on with Blue Sky Velo and get Race Day Nutrition tips from sponsor Dr. Rodgers of Colorado Sports Chiropractic. That's the quick overview of the evening... Not enough to convince you to pencil in the next team meeting?

Well then here are a few more details.

A few snapshots from the meeting: 

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

One of Blue Sky Velo's new for 2008 sponsors, Dr. Jeremy Rodgers, accomplished adventure athlete, doctor of sports medicine, radiology and chiropractic presented: Race Day Nutrition tips.

But first each member of the Blue Sky Velo Board of Directors presented a short report of what their sub-team (MTB, 'Cross, Road, Club and Triathlon) is planning for the season. Lots of exciting plans for 2008 including racing, great deals, rides, parties, etc etc. To find out more, contact your Captain if you're not already in the 'loop'.

Find your team captain here (select "Directors/Team Captains" from the pull-down menu).

Finally, framed jerseys were presented to a few of our esteemed 2007 Blue Sky Velo sponsors - make sure you look for them hanging on the walls of Ziggis Coffee, The Optical Centre, The Pumphouse Brewery, Edward Jones, Blue Sky Cycles and the Longmont Athletic Club.

Mad Cow Classic

mad cow course
I shirked my duties as a front range racer and I went out to Grand Junction over the weekend to race the Mad Cow Classic.

Executive summary:
I stayed with the lead group as we whittled down the group from 40-ish to under 10. I had a good race and I ended up finishing in 5th place.

Keep reading if you want the gory details.....

Course description:
About 7 miles out, 3 laps around a mesa, then back to the start. Each lap is about 14 miles and 1200 feet of climbing. The lap consists of a long false flat, a long descent, and a relatively short steep climb.

About 30-40 riders lined up for the start. The group was Cat 3, Cat 4, and 35+ open. I'm a Cat 4, so racing with Cat 3's and 35+ is a good challenge.

The race started a little quicker than it has previous years. One guy in a Wyoming jersey sat 20' off the front for a while. I don't think it was any sort of strategy, rather it was inexperience. He spent a lot of time with his nose in the wind the whole race (which is fitting for a guy from Wyoming). There was a cross wind on the way out, and I was having a hard time getting a good position. Five guys lined up in an echelon at the front of the group and I tried to start a second echelon, to no avail. I mostly ended up shielding guys, and they weren't interested in returning the favor. Eventually, I squeezed my way into a good position by just squeezing someone out. I'm not normally good at that type of maneuver, but I'm trying to get better at taking the positions I want instead of waiting for them to magically open up for me.

We didn't go really hard up the first climb, but we dropped a lot of people (a handful actually caught up later). The first selection was big. At the top of the first climb a 35+ rider attacked. I've seen strange attacks go clear on this course before due to rider complacency, so I decided to bridge up to this guy. I bridged up to him cleanly, but the pack wasn't far behind and we were quickly caught. This guy made several attacks through the race. I think his plan was to put in some half-hearted attacks until the group got sick of chasing him.

Our first lap around the "loop" part of the race was pretty uneventful. We weren't soft-pedaling, but we weren't going all out either. I did my best to stay sheltered in the slight breeze, conserving as much energy as possible. We hit the big climb towards the end of the lap and it was hard but nobody really hammered it.

The false flat part of the loop was getting hard the second time around. My legs were feeling it for sure. I worked my way to the front before we started on the downhill portion because I really like to go through those high speed corners alone. I was trying to make sure I had access to the front of the group in case someone took off because this is exactly the spot of the race that someone soloed to the win last year. I got boxed in as I was eating a gel, and the 35+ rider attacked again. This time, it looked real. Once I got to a better position, I tried to get the group to chase. Nothing. They just sat there, willing to let this guy (who was clearly strong) get a gap. I tried two more times to initiate a chase. When that wasn't working, I tucked myself back into the group and chatted with some of the other guys. We decided that he shouldn't get any more of a gap, but we'd leave him hang until the false flat section of the course. I was happy that there was at least some organization and people willing to chase.

By now we were on the big climb for the second time, and my pre-race plan was to attack here. With someone off the front, though, and a somewhat organized chase behind, I decided to wait and possibly launch a counter when we reeled the leader in. We could see he was slowing down on the climb, so I was feeling confident that we would reel him in soon. Amazingly, this guy didn't make the turn for the final loop and instead headed back for the finish line. I'm not sure if he screwed up or what, but we were glad to see him go. His constant attacks were irritating. (Plus he majorly violated the yellow line rule on multiple occasions which is *not* cool. He got a good talking to about it on the road.)

I contemplated launching an attack on the false flat, but it's so hard to get away there because people can see you for a long ways. I decided my best choice was to wait for the last climb up the big hill and try to create a break. Coming up to the climb, the wind had picked up and I did a good job "resting" by making sure that I wasn't in the wind. I wanted to at least be on the front of this climb to cover any moves or make one of my own, so I was sitting second wheel.

On the way up, I could see two guys (teammates) making eye contact with each other, and I figured they had something in mind. It was those two guys and me up front. One guy accelerated, and his teammate immediately swerved over into me and guttered me. Totally lame move. If you're going to try to physically block someone, you need to at least be a little more discrete about it. The attack was quickly reeled in and (as expected) his teammate countered with another attack. He got a good gap and it was clear he was going to be trouble. The attacks at the top of the climb whittled down our group to just 6 - one guy was up the road and his teammate was in the chase group (and of course not chasing). That left 4 of us to chase, but one guy wasn't doing much. It was a little frustrating have to carry so much of the load, but none of us wanted to race for second place.

The lead guy was strong. He stayed away until about the last mile. (What a pro maneuver, catching the leader in the last mile.) I was pretty spent from all that work and I found myself in the back of our group of six as we came up to the line. Once people started to sprint, the guy in front of my broke his chain. I had to swerve around him, and it created a gap that I couldn't close. I don't know if I had the legs to take that sprint, but I would have like to have a better shot. Oh well, that's what I get for being in the back of that group. I still ended up finishing 5th, which is a really good result for me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Promontory crit

Yesterday was the first crit of the season. I was happy with my race since I'm just beginning to figure these races out and I can't sprint . A big thanks to Kevin for his advice, clinics, and coming out to coach. His advice really helped me stay near the front throughout the race without too much difficulty.

The start was the WORST. It took them probably 20 minutes to fix duplicated race numbers at the start line while we stood shaking in the cold and wind but at least it equalized my lack of a descent warm-up. The course was similar to a circuit race with 5 roundabouts and a nasty longer headwind stretch with a slight uphill before the corner to the finish. I could move up easily on all parts of the course with the important exception of the headwind stretch which I often lost several spots on. At 3-4 laps ago, I tried a break with a college guy but only ended up pulling the pack, stringing out the field while listening to the college kid chear me on- not the smartest move. I saw Lee, Charles, and Ryan several times during the race. I even felt Lee's front wheel on my rear- I guess I changed my line-Sorry Lee- but nice recovery. The four of us finished with the main field. I know the other BSV guys were with us until a preme that further shattered the field making it tough for the guys further back. Believe me, I've been at the back and the front is much easier once you get there. While the race was constantly changing at the front (constant surges which had to be covered to maintain a position near the front), the front beats the accordian affect and effort required at the back any day.

The final lap seemed to come quickly. I'm guessing I was 15th at turn1, 1st thru turn 2, 8th thru turn 3, dropped to 13th on roundabout 4- forced into curb and had to break-karma for maybe not having the best lines myself, 13th final turn, and 10th? at line. I think I finished 10th (based on my count of what I think was 9 guys ahead of me immediately after the line; the photo finish failed so I'll never know for sure but I had to be in the top 9-11). Great first crit of the season guys! Thanks to Jeremy and Kevin for cheering us on. Jeremy, that pro,1,2,3 race was brutal. Nice job! I think you outlasted Zirbel.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Team Training Ride

With so much impressive training going on, it was only a matter of time until my number was called. The day started at 10am in sub-30-degree temperatures at Ziggi's with a merry troupe of 8 Blue Sky'ers.

We made our away across town over mostly dry roads, but as we ventured north of 66 we had to abort as there was simply too much snow! We continued our moderate pace west on Rt66, and then there was an absolute throw-down on Rt36. As one of our designated "good luck to you" parts of the ride, everyone was doing a bit of free-form interval work. I was going 100%, with a bit of variation in the tempo. Kevin started at the rear of the group and practiced closing gaps as they opened up. Eric was in "go hard until they crack, or I do" mode, and a few others like the 'Stick and Brad were just enjoying the day atop their Cannondale steeds. After 15 minutes of work we all met up at Nelson.

At Nelson we decided it was too damn cold, and instead of putting a halt to the ride I suggested we head to Amante's and wait for the day to warm (or for our spouses to pick us up). This suggestion was met with overwhelming acclaim. And so you have it, 2 hours into my "training" ride I was warming at Amante's with a cappuccino and a chocolate-infused croissant.

After some prodding by Kevin, we were awaken from our caffeine stupor and back on our bikes after about 30 minutes. Our moderate, conversational pace continued to Jay Rd and the Diagonal to 75th. By now it had warmed up and we rode north on roads that only a few hours earlier were treacherous. At Woodland and 83rd we all parted ways.

I decided it was time to put the new rocketship bike through its paces, so I put the needle at "tempo", put my hands in the drops, and "got on it" to Carter Lake. I pushed it on the dam and hoped to find the bathrooms open at the marina (I didn't), then I hit an unimpressive 47mph on the back side and continued a hard pace back to Longmont via all the rolling hills in between. I put in a few bursts of speed along Mountain View to see what was possible after 5 hours of riding (873W for 5s), and then cruised home thinking about how I'd spent most of the day on my bike, but it wasn't so bad because I had:

1. Swung a deal to buy a car.
2. Learned that the secret to bicycle hygiene is lemon-scented Pledge.
3. Heard way too much about Kevin's over-sized bottom, umm, bracket.
4. Burned 2900 calories which would allow me to eat approximately 2 pounds of beef upon my arrival home, and still weigh in the next morning minus 3 pounds.
5. Heard various cycling soliloquies addressing balm, bike tires, politics, next of kin, et cetera.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Two BSV Mountain bike Group rides in one day....

Well, there were two rides heading out today, one at 7am to Hall Ranch (organized by Chris Madden) and one at 10am to Heil Ranch (the official Team MTB ride sponsored by Cindy this week). Took off from the house at 6:50am near Airport and Nelson to meet up at Hygiene. The saga begins....

Early morning Sunrise--the weather appears like it will behave, even though the temps are at 30 degrees!

Short detour and a lap around Pella Lakes off of 73rd just before Hygiene--half way through the phone rings, the rest of the group has just arrived at Hygiene.

Okay, this was just funny as I approached the corner market, Looks like Chris has something to say to Kevin!

Heading West on Hwy 66--Kevin and Chris are chatting up their injuries and what to do about mending them.

About to enter the Hall Parking lot off of Rt7--sun is out, day looks awesome--temps are finally warming up and we all have to delayer a little before starting to climb. After hitting Hall last night too to test my newly rebuild rear shock, wondered how the legs would hold up.

Chris working it up the rock garden on Hall

Kevin doing more of the same--these guys both made all of this look pretty easy for both claiming to be injured. I just had to laugh about it and watch them pound up the rest of the trail.

Upper Bench at Hall Ranch--The boys waiting on me to catch up after I tried a few rock sections again--oh and my legs were nice and tired already. This was the last time I took a photo as these guys had to step on it to get back to town. I saw them again on the upper loop, but they were both just blurs as they screamed past me on the downhills! We said our goodbyes and I enjoyed the descent at my own pace.

Headed back into Lyons to refill with water, eat, and just take a quick break. Did get to see the kids of Lyons and the easter egg hunt at the park. Stopped at Redstone to say hi to Dave but he was across the street with the kids searching for colorful plastic eggs. It was pretty near when the whistle blew and about a 100 kids went running all around in hopes to grab their prize.

A sign we all know too well. I headed back out and took a right on 34 towards Boulder. Even though I was running late, I was still going to try to catch up with the 10am group ride at Heil Ranch. I had 10 minutes to get there--no problem, except for toasted legs and lots of wind!

Okay, I am still smiling and about at mile #32...legs were talking to me on 36 though and I was happy to turn onto Lefthand and head up to Heil.

A great sign to see at this point in the ride--now just a short climb up to the parking area and hopefully join up with the group--even though it was now like 10:35.

After waiting at the Wapiti/Ponderosa junction along comes a familiar BSV jersey and its Steve--whom I had not seen for like two years!

Along came Phil just afterwards....

And then Cindy.

We headed out the Ponderosa Loop Counter Clockwise and regrouped at the overlook.

A little taste of Wild Turkey Trail singletrack.

Cindy just finishing one of many of the banked turns on Wild Turkey.

After leaving the Heil parking lot and parting ways with Phil and Steve, Cindy and I headed back to Longmont via Nelson. It was cold and windy by this point with the sun long gone. My legs were pretty beat and I could feel it each pedal stroke. Did a quick stop at BlueSky on the way back and downed an R2 packet...hope that means tomorrow will not be as much limping around the house!

Its funny, after a day like today and its snowing right now as I sit here and type this up. My specs show that the day consisted of 53 miles and just over 4000ft of climbing/descending. 3-D map below shows the route. Looking forward to the next group ride in two weeks and meeting more team members!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

First Mountain Bike Team Group Ride!

Sunday March 9th was the first 2007 Mountain Bike Team/Club Ride. Six soles braved the 55 degree windless and sunny day to checkout the Devils Backbone and Blue Sky trail network up in Loveland, Co. Several folks met up at the Designated Kmart parking lot at Wilson and Hwy 34, only a few pavement miles from the Devil's Backbone TH. Ed, Darrin, Jessica, and Cindy. Running late, I met them at the TH. After a few minor adjustments on brakes and shocks...we all headed out to enjoy the trail. Parking lot was not very full which showed us that even at 11:00am, this meant the trail would be pretty empty.

Here are Cindy and Jessica are sharing the trail with some local hikers.

Here is a great view of the Back bone proper. The trail heads to the right with some climbing and then North up to Horsetooth park in Fort Collins.

Here is a short climb on the first loop at DBB--that is Darrin and Cindy up ahead.

Here we are regrouping at the last loop of the Devils back bone. Off the North end of this loop, the Blue Sky trail joins up. Starting from the left: Ed, Cindy, Darrin, Jessica, Amy and John taking the photo.

Here is Jessica with Cindy just ahead on the Blue Sky trail dropping into the valley where Indian Summer trail makes a loop on the left hill side. Just after this descent, Ed got a flat and we took a few minutes for trail side repair and Co2 101.

Here Jessica, John, Amy, and Cindy are climbing up to the Coyote Natural Area trail junction. This is about half way to Horsetooth. The next section of trail was fast and fun so no pictures until we started climbing back to the Devils Backbone trail system.

Here is Jessica, Cindy and Darrin climbing up to DBB from blue sky trail.

Here is Cindy about to rock it out on the rocky steps up to the overlook!

Here is John climbing up the rocky plates at DBB, only a few miles from the parking area--you may notice the rear shock is completely bottomed out after developing an air leak. That is what happens when yo do not wear your team kit....

Everyone had a great day despite the mechanicals and we did about 18miles but only just under 1400 feet of elevation during that ride--just about all on single track. There are many more miles to be had there when the Horsetooth trails dry out and also Lory State Park. If you ride it all, you can get in over 40 miles of single track. With a little pavement riding, you can get in even more by adding in Bobcat Ridge. Elevations can be in the 8-10000 feet with multiple laps on Horsetooth, Coyote Ridge and Bobcat. The pavement ride adds a little more mileage. Looking forward to the next group ride to meet some more of the MTB folks!