Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cold Weather Gear

Cycling outside during the winter season can be a challenge. My toes used to be my weakest link so my "long" rides were limited to the amount of pain I could handle. Consequently getting motivated to ride outside was tough. After an outside ride with frozen toes it would take quite a few days before I could work up the ambition to venture out into the cold once again.

Many years ago I started using the little chemical hand warmers and placing them between my shoes and shoe covers. They work pretty well sometimes. The problem is they need a good air supply to react with the chemicals and my shoe covers were pretty tight. Part way through the ride they would suffocate and I would finish with frozen toes once again. Another issue you run into is trying to wear thicker socks to help combat the cold. This only leads to restricted blood flow to the toes which is just as painful, if not more then cold toes.

As another cold, Iowa winter approached in 2008 I decided enough was enough and I was going to find a different strategy. I had signed up for RAW and knew that I needed to keep my endurance during the off-season and riding indoors was not the way. I started looking into heated insoles or socks. There was not much to choose from Sidi made a very impressive insole but I could not see forking out $300 just for an insole. Besides I was not sure the extra thickness would fit in my cycling shoes. Then I did some serious research on winter riding boats.

Several companies make a winter model of cycling shoe, Pearl Izumi, Sidi and Lake just to name a few. Some road models offer little added warmth while the mountain bike versions are a little thicker. I settled on the Lake's. I ordered one size bigger then I normally wear and got the wide version. Both my road bike and mountain bike have Shimano SPD pedals so I would be able to ride either bike without changing pedals. I also like the BOA retaining system they use instead of laces. This gives an evenly snug fit and allows for easy adjusting even while wearing gloves.

Even with these great boots my toes still get cold when temperatures dip below 40. I have really wimpy toes. During the colder rides I use the chemical hand warmers inside the boots between layers of socks. If you purchase the warmers in 10 packs the cost is about $.80 per ride. This is a small price to pay for comfortable toes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Add "Schadenfreude" to your vocabulary

I came across the word schadenfreude reading a write up about Trans Iowa. I believe it applies to the goal of a few of the guys I ride with. It is a German word that means pleasure derived from the misfortunes/sufferings of others. In english the closest saying we have is "it sucks to be you".

From Wikipedia: In the 2004 Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q the song "Schadenfreude" parodies the language instruction songs of Sesame Street. The song sung by characters Gary Coleman and Nicky, describes schadenfreude as "German for 'happiness at the misfortune of others'". In the song, schadenfreude is also described as "making me feel glad that I'm not you" and "people taking pleasure in your pain". The characters use examples like "D'ja ever clap when a waitress falls and drops a tray of glasses?" and "Don'tcha feel all warm and cozy, watching people out in the rain?" as being schadenfreude.

I have been on some grueling Tuesday night hammer-fests when the word could be used. I would guess most of us have been in situation that we had the thought but did not have the word to describe our true feelings at the time. I would guess most of us have been on the other side of the word as well. Maybe not Wiford.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bike Signs In Muscatine County

The much debated bike signs started turning up in Muscatine County recently.  These pictures were taken of the signs on the Burlington road just after turning off Hershey.  I am not sure this will do a lot of good but it cannot hurt.  Maybe this is the beginning of a bike more bike friendly city/county.  The ironic part about the location of the signs is that this very location four of us got yelled at by a guy in a septic tank “sucker” truck.  As mad as he was that day I think he would have run over the signs. It is just a matter of time before there is an editorial in the local paper complaining about the signs.Share the road sign 1

Bike route sign 1

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Attacked on the bike path

Last weekend Connie and I took a long weekend to go to Ames and Des Moines for some visiting and shopping. We left Thursday with plans to spend the night in Ames then go to Des Moines on Friday and Saturday night. I took my bike in the hopes of riding some of the bike paths in the Des Moines area while Connie was shopping. Thursday afternoon with the bright sun and slight breezes gave me the first chance to ride. Connie was meeting a friend in Des Moines for lunch before heading to Ames so I was going to meet her at the hotel around 5:00 as the sun set.

My ride started out un-eventful as I pedalled from Des Moines to Waukee then on to Adel along the Raccoon River bike path. Once to Adel I wanted to head towards Ames on county roads to Sailorville reservoir and then north on the new High Trestle Trail that runs from Polk City to Slater before riding the just completed bike lane that goes from Slater to Ames. This road is one block from Christopher's apartment and two blocks from our hotel. The goal was to get 60-70 miles of riding by dark.

You hear of problems on bike paths with people placing wires across them or riders being attacked in non-populated areas. I don't ride many trails but have never known anyone who has had problems. Normally, for a cyclist, you are safer on the path then risking your life playing with hurried motorists.

I was just leaving the small town of Sheldalh, 15 miles south of Ames, when I noticed him standing at the grassy edge of the newly constructed trail. He was looking towards me but I got the impression he wasn't looking directly at me. As I peddled near him he was startled and began running on my right side the same direction I was headed. This type of strange behavior I have seen in dogs before but this time it was not a dog that was chasing me. After 10 yards of shadowing me he made his move. He suddenly lunged in my direction like you see squirrels do in the road when they are not sure which direction to go. He hit my front wheel and bounce down to the ground. I reactively dogged to the left running part of him over with the back wheel as I struggled to keep my balance. My heart was racing as I looked back to see what his next move would be. Would he lay on the trail in pain, come after me, or just run out of sight. He chose to run away.

Not sure what to do I continued down the trail trying to get my heart back into my chest. As I looked down I noticed my computer was not working. For this I stopped. Heaven forbid I ride any miles without them counting. It was at this time I noticed the magnet on my front wheel was gone. That must have been what he was after the entire time. He must have been a collector of magnets.

If you are in that area please beware of suspicious looking cats that have collars of bike magnets. Unless you are prepared to aggressively defend yourself you could be the next helpless victim.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Trans Iowa here I come again

The roster for the veterans is posted and I made the list again this year. Now begins five and a half months of worry, preparation, worry, planning, worry and training.  This year they have promised less outside support available from pass through towns. In the past you could at least rely on the check points as re-fueling locations.  This year the check points will not be in towns.  300 plus miles of graveled/muddy Iowa back-roads and you have no idea where your next meal our bottle of water will come from or even where you are.  Now that is adventurous.  Maybe a little insane as well.

The “big picture” plan for this winter is to focus more on core and upper body conditioning.  Focusing more for me means actually working out the core and upper body.  A better core should translate to better hill climbing and comfort on the bike.  Most gravel roads are pretty hilly and the promoters have a knack for finding the hilliest. Conditioning the upper body will help when I will have to carry the bike over any mud roads that are as sticky as peanut butter like last years.  I can’t imagine they will be that bad but if they were bad last year they could be again this year.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trans Iowa VII sign up is tomorrow

My post card is off to Cedar Falls for my second attempt at the Tran Iowa VII. Wish me luck. This is a great write up on last years event and will have you wondering what I am thinking in entering this event again. Trans Iowa VI write up. Also a link to promoter Guitar Ted's blog.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Night Nonsense Gravel Road Adventure

A couple month ago Jeff Hunt told me about a gravel road century ride that was to be held in Iowa City.  The unique aspect of this ride was the starting time of 8:00 PM.  I immediately got on-line to get the details.  I have ridden familiar gravel roads at night, unfamiliar paved roads at night but never unfamiliar gravel roads at night.  This type of ride is what I like to call a bike adventure not a bike ride. 

Most night time road bike rides have quite a few safely requirements.  Check out this all the rules on Randonneurs USA.  The Ultra Marathon Cycling Association has almost as many rules.  Most of the gavel road races have no specific rules.  They did recommend that you have a helmet, headlight and rear flashing light.  Some of the riders rear light were almost non-existent and the rider that finished 2nd overall did not have a working head light for the entire race.  He just rode in the light from the other riders when his failed.  Each scenario shows extremes and somewhere in the middle is my comfort zone.

Another unique feature of many gravel road races is the entry fee.  There is none.  There might be a few merchandise prizes donated by some local suppliers and maybe some food and beverage.  This makes for a very low key event with camaraderie becoming the over-riding theme.  This was also the first race I have entered that served beer and pizza at the rest stops.

The forecast for Saturday was rain but un-seasonably warm with 10-15 mph winds most of the night.  As the riders started preparing for the start the lightning was lighting the sky and long, low rumbles of thunder could be heard.  The darkness made it hard to tell how close the pending rain was but there were tornado warning for three of the counties to the south.  30 minutes before the race started the rain began to fall and continued the rest of the night.  The 25 nervous rides squeezed under the refuge of the pop-up tents and into the race promoters garage waiting for our last minute instructions.  During this time I put on my rain coat, took off my rain coat and then put it back on again.  I knew that once the race started there would not be time to make a clothing change.  Staying warm took precedence and the rain coat stayed on for the start.  Tights, long sleeves and wind proof gloves finished off my attire.  The gloves only made it 15 miles and the rain coat was off at the 40 miles mark.  Note to self, if the temperatures are above 60 no need for the rain coat or long finger gloves.

After the 5 mile roll out the race was on as we hit the first gravel road section.  This was a hilly section and provide a great launching pad to get a select group off the front.  I was ready for the attacks and was able to bridge up to the break away instigator, Drew Wilson (read his write up) with Jeremy Frye and another rider named Paul.  Ben Shockey soon joined us and the five of us were flying along the rolling hills with no head lights behind us.  We had a nice gap. It was then Ben pointed out why we had a nice gap.  About three miles back we had missed a turn.  After some deliberation, back over the rolling hills we flew in search of the missed turn. At the turn we came across three other riders who had missed the same turn.  Navigation at warp speed, in the rain, over the gravel, cue sheet in a ziplock bag, covered in rain drops, using your headlamp is impossible unless you come to a complete stop at each turn and no one was slowing down. This haunted us again at the 20 mile mark when we missed a turn by 6 miles following a local rider who thought he knew the route.  At this point the race turned into a ride. The three riders we had met decided to head for Iowa City and call it a night and only two of us, Jeremy and myself, had legible cue sheets the rain had not destroyed.  Even I was missing a 10 mile section of turns that would lead us to the first check point. 

At the 30 mile point on the route, 47 for us, we saw the flashing light of the vehicle that was manning the check point.  They shared the fact that we were about 90 minutes behind the lead group and only 14 riders were still riding of the 25 starters.  Water refills and a new cue sheet and we were headed off in the darkness to finish the adventure.

The five of us decided that we would stay together, slow down at each turn so I could read the cue sheet and just enjoy the adventure.  We stopped a couple times for nature breaks right in the middle of the road.  We even created our own sag stop sharing some food in the middle of no where Iowa. During the few times it was not raining it was a great night.  Temperatures were in the low 60’s with just a slightly annoying wind out of the south.

1024101632a The only mud road we encountered was just before the very welcome beer and pizza stop at mile 68 of the race,(mile 88 for us).  This section was 3/4 mile long.  The first section was rideable, then you had to push up the hill before remounting and sloshing your way through the thick mud.  It was kind of fun and much easier then the peanut butter thick mud had been for the Trans Iowa race in April.  Growling dogs met us as we left the mud and entered the gravel before the stop.  A slice of pizza and a water bottle fill up and it was back on the road for the home stretch.

The next advertise obstacle was the water crossing shortly after the stop.  It looked like a flooded road crossing that the weather channel warns you to “turn around and don’t drown” when you are in you vehicle.  It was a good thing we did not have cars.  The water was about 12 inches deep for roughly 20 yards.  This gave you a chance to wash the mud off your shoes as you peddled across.  Of course now your damp feet were really wet but with the finish in sight this was more then tolerable.

The last 20 miles heading to North Liberty and back to Iowa City were pancake flat and provided a nice finish to a fabulous adventure.  Paul had called it a night at the sag stop but the remaining four rolled into town at 4:35 AM with 111 miles covered on a 91 mile route.

Thanks to Adam for organizing the event and to all the sponsors.  This will be a “must” do event on my calendar next year.  I just need to figure a better way to mount my cue sheet to avoid the navigation problems.  Although it was nice to get the extra miles and being that far off the back allowed us to enjoy the adventure instead of beating our brains out all night.

Monday, October 25, 2010

No-Nonsense Gravel Road Race

I will write my story later this week. Here is a link to Guitar Ted's write up to keep you entertained until I get mine typed.

In a nut shell:
I was in the lead group at mile 10.
Mile 15 we had gone 3 miles out of our way missing a turn.
Missed another turn at mile 20.
Three other riding companions.
Race turned into a ride the last 60 miles

90 mile ride turned into 111 finished at 4:35 AM
Felt great but suffered on the hills early
Great time, great event great night...really.
Would to it again in a hearbeat.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Late Season Motivation

Around this time of year getting motivated to ride becomes tough. There are no races in sight to train for, the days are getting shorter and I have ridden the same roads more times then I care to count. Each day is a mental jousting match as I try to come up with excuses not to ride. Here are a few tricks I use to keep the motivation level high.

At the beginning of each year I set a mileage goal then brake the yearly goal to weekly goals and try to hit those miles each week. This lets me know if I am on track to reach the goal. Towards the end of the year I track how many miles I need to average each day to make the goal. This helps motivated me for a while. This years goal was 13,000 the same as last year. It has not been a good year in keeping with the weekly goals. I was ahead of schedule early then for some reason as the weather got nice my miles declined. Crewing for RAAM gave me two weeks off the bike and really set me behind the eight ball. A really good July closed the gap but not enough. Now it will be a struggle to reach the goal my the end of the year. I have to average 34 miles per day for the rest of the year. Come November and December that is going to be tough. The graph below shows my actual year to date running weekly average compared to the goal. I like to track the average week to reduce the peaks and valleys.


A new motivation this year has been riding my cyclo-cross bike on gravel roads. I purchased the bike in early April for the Trans Iowa gravel road race. Since that time I have ridden over 1200 miles on that bike. This fall I have ventured out at least twice a week in search of new roads to ride. In Muscatine county there must be 3 miles of gravel for every 1 mile of paved roads. On the longer rides I just head out into the wind following the roads to wherever they lead me. I know my way around the area well enough to know about where I will end just not sure the route that will take me there. Even pre-riding a group ride from the bike shop there are many more options of how to get there.

Gravel road riding is picking up steam in the Midwest. Each year new events are added to an already long list of gravel road ride/races. is a great sight for information. Many of these event are low key and have no entry fee. There are some riders that are completing for the win but many riders are just riding for the enjoyment. I am planning just such a race on Saturday October 24th call the Night Nonsense 100. The race is 100 miles of gravel and dirt roads around the Iowa City area. The unique aspect of this race is that is starts at 8:00 PM. 100 miles of gravel in the dark for some reason sounds like a blast. I love to ride at night and I love to ride gravel, perfect. Some of my friends might think I have lost my marbles again or that my cassette is a few teeth shy of a cluster. That is because, like my 8 year old nephew who does not like any new foods until he tries it, they have never tried this format. If they did they would be hooked like I am.

The third form of motivation is getting on the scale and see my weight increase. The equation, calories consumed must be less then or equal to calories burned only leaves two choices. I love food too much to reduce the intake as the riding reduces. Therefor I need to keep riding.

Do you have a mountain bike hanging in your garage that you are not sure where to ride. Find a gravel road and just start riding and see where it takes you. There is a huge network of roads with little traffic that will rejuvenate you and give you a good reason to get out and ride this fall. Who knows you might be the next person lining up at a gravel road race. Try it you’ll like it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Iowa 24 hour Race

The annual Ultra Midwest 24 was held Labor Day weekend outside of Port Byron Illinois. Four of the last five years I have competed in this exceptionally run event put on by the Ultra Midwest (Big Dogs) group led by Dave Parker and Joe Jamison. The race includes 6,12 and 24 hour options on lightly travelled roads in western Illinois.

As the race started the 50 participants, which included 11-24 hour, 28-12 hour and 11-6 hour entrants, were clad in tights and long sleeves to combat the crisp 6:30 AM temperatures. This would provide a nice break from the oppressive heat the area has experienced over the summer. All riders start together with the 24 hour riders separating themselves from the others in the first couple miles. The 24 hour ride is non-drafting while the other two races allow drafting.

The route: This years route consisted of a new, flat as a pancake, 60 mile long loop, an intermediate 19.6 mile loop, and a short 8 mile loop. The 60 mile loop closes at 2:00 PM for the 12 and 24 hour rides so each rider completes as many laps as you can before the cut-off. You then proceed to the intermediate loop. The intermediate loop closes at 5:00 PM or AM depending on which race you have entered. After 5:00 riders finish on the short loop. The 6 hour group completes one long loop before riding the intermediate and short loops as needed.

The Game Plan: The last three times I have entered the 24 hour race my mileage has been 300, 408 and then 431. The 300 mile total I stopped at midnight the other two I rode all night. The goal for this year was 450 miles. To accomplish this total I would have to average 19.2 on the bike and only be off the bike for 30 minutes total. This was a pretty lofty goal but one I thought was attainable. With my wife Connie as head crew member and son Chris and his girl-friend Chelsey helping during the daylight hours the limited time off the bike was not going to be a problem. They do a great job of keeping me fed and watered. Going in I had a great pacing and nutrition strategy that I was very confident success was attainable.


Blustery Day as Pooh would put it: The forecast for the day was cool and breezy with winds out the west-north-west at 15-20. This was going to make the long loops a little tougher with the last 20 miles each lap going west and north. Even though the route was flat, I mean really flat, ,the biggest hill between mile 5 and 55 was an overpass, the road surfaces were rough. By the third time around the expansion cracks felt like a jackhammer hitting your rear, arms and feet each time you crossed them. During this stretch I opted for a few sanity breaks just to rest my jarred body. I was extremely glad to make it back to the school to start the intermediate loops. Even though the wind was still blowing the hardest head wind stretch was only 4 miles.

Off the big loops as last: I started the intermediate loops at 3:50. Total miles ridden was 180 in 9:50 with an  average on the bike of 19.6 mph. Time off the bike had totaled 7 minutes. The goal was to ride 13 of the intermediate loops in the next 14 hours. I would have to keep the pace around 19 mph on the bike and limit my stops to 1-2 minutes per lap. I was feeling good and settled in to the task at hand. Riding, eating and drinking was all I had to do. At 7:15 I was off the bike for 5 minutes while put on tights, arm warmers, reflective vest, head-light and tail light. Putting the tights on took the longest. I still had my light shoe covers on from the chilly morning start hoping that would save time as the temperatures dropped. While I was getting dressed Chris put on the lights, Connie refilled my bottles and bento box and I ate a fresh off the grill hamburger. The last three times I have done this event my crew has grilled as the sun set. This was the first year I was able to partake in the cuisine. It went down really well.

Reality Check: Thing were going pretty well until the lap around midnight. I was on pace to finish with about 435. The early wind had dashed any hopes for 450. I had lapped the second place rider (Paul Carpenter) at 11:00 PM which put me 20 miles ahead. Paul is the RAAM rider I did support for this year plus we have compete against each other several time so we are pretty familiar with each other. I slowed for breif chat as I made the pass. This gave me a little boost but by 12:30 AM I was starting to hurt. The energy level was great, I had not cramped (which is a first for this race), my stomach felt fine but my rear, arms, neck, back and shoulders were stiff and sore. This was making it very uncomfortable to be on the bike. I was stretching a lot and sitting up trying, in vain to find a way to relief the aching muscles. I headed back out at 1:00 after an 8 minutes stop. During this long stop I started to get chilly as the temperatures had dropped back into the mid-fifties. I really could have used a longer break but knew I would be shivering if I did. That lap took 1:27 minutes to complete as I rolled in at 2:27 AM. During that lap I had shut down and knew my night was going to end early. I could not fathom 4 more hours on that infernal machine.
Stats: 356.3 miles in 20 hours. 38 total minutes off the bike. 18.4 average speed. First in my age group second overall. Here is the link to the complete results.

Food and Drink:
7- 20 oz Perpetuams @ 280 cal each
4 - Ensures
1-20 oz Gaterade
2-20 oz Sobe's
14 chocolate chip cookies
12 power gels
Cheese Stick
2 Chicken Salad Sandwich
5 pringles
Beef Jerky
3 Pasta shells stuffed with chicken salad
2 dill pickles
Grilled Hamburger
2 cups of chicken broth

A big thanks to Connie, Chris and Chelsey for keeping me moving and to Dave and Joe, there wives and the other volunteers who made this a great event. I will give my body a break from the super long riding for a while and just enjoy the fall season before making plans for next years adventures.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

2000+ miles July

The goal for July was to get into the top 5 on the Big Dog standings for the month.  I was number 5 last year for July.  With the miles from RAGBRAI and the ride out July is usually my biggest month.  With the 600K brevet in early July and RAGBRAI starting clear up in Sioux City I knew I had a chance to get to 2000 miles for the month.  The month ended at 2042 miles and was enough miles to earn me the top spot of the Big Dogs for the month for the first time ever.  Of course first place and fifth get the same prize but it did help build a good base for Labor Day’s 24 hour ride.

The Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Pee Wees adventure 2010

Bill Harper (he did not get the memo), Joe Mann, Mike Doyle (Doyley) and Bill Ford (Wiford)

joefixingflat2010 marked the 5th time I have ridden out to RAGBRAI.  Mike Doyle has also completed this journey 5 times with Bill Ford riding his fourth.  The reason the ride is called The Pee Wee’s big adventure is because unlike the original move title there is more then one PeeWee on this adventure.  Joining us this year was Bill Harper.  The route this year took us to over-nights in Little Amana, Boone and Ida Grove.  This is close to the 2006 route that saw RAGBRAI start in Sergeant Bluff just south of Sioux City. This year, unlike 2006, we opted for an extra half day to keep the daily miles a little lower.  2006 miles were 175, 130, 55 and 2010 was 70, 135, 100 and 55.  This picture sums up how the ride went. I was always changing my flat tires and Mike was always peeing.  We had a great time.  Thursday’s 130 miles day from Little Amana to Boone was very challenging with the heat, headwinds and rolling hills.  The lunch stop at Marshalltown for monster sub-sandwiches had at least one of us second guessing that decision with the heat and 60 miles of riding to go.  While the weather in Muscatine was very rainy we never got a drop.  Friday leaving Boone looked ominous but no rain materialized.  Saturday was very hilly and we were glad to finally make it to Sioux City.  Once in Sioux City Mike, Bill and Bill headed for home and left me with seven more days of riding.


Joe and Connie

2010 marked the 19th year in a row that Connie and I have done RAGBRAI.  This year was one of the most enjoyable. (No, neither one of us were at the Cartersville party) Most of the camp-sights were good, the weather was better then expected for July in Iowa and the riding was pretty easy.  We started with a couple pretty hard days, a long day on Thursday, a little rain on Friday then the toughest climb RAGBRAI has ever taken us on, Potter’s Hill as part of Saturday’s ride into Dubuque.

All in all it was an un-eventful RAGBRAI year.  That is not a bad thing considering the years we have spent the night in the gyms, riding in the rain, sweating in the tents…..  I will take un-eventful any day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

600K Brevet 7/17 - 18

Saturday July 17th Ultra-Midwest (Big Dog's) hosted an RUSA sanctioned 600K brevet. The route was an extremely hilly out and back to Viroqua Wisconsin. Three of us headed out of Le Claire Iowa at 6:00 AM treated to a gorgeous Iowa sunrise. Whenever I start these long rides my mind immediately thinks about how long it will be before I am finished. The stretch goal was 24 hours with a more realistic goal of 26 hours.

The forecast was for hot, humid and possible storms during the night. The cue sheet showed limited re-fill and re-fuel stops along the route with even fewer chances for stops after the sun went down. Most of the forecast was correct as temperatures and humidity climbed quickly as the serious climbing started shortly after Savanah Illinois and north to the Illinois-Wisconsin border at a town called Apple River Illinios.

I made pretty good time, and pulled away from my riding companions by the 50 mile mark. I rolled into the turn around at 6:30 pm. Despite the heat and many climbs I was feeling pretty good considering I had just ridden 192.6 miles. 20 minutes later I was back on the road. In the first 12 1/2 hours I drank 480 ounces of liquid and still felt like I was a little dehydrated.

As the sun set I got a chance to use my Schmidt Dyno hub for the first time with my road bike. Descending is always a little scary at night especially if you are not familiar with the roads. There were more then a couple "nerve-racking" 40 mph downhills but with this light I was able to go down the hill like it was daylight. The Busch & Muller Lumitec Fly LED light only requires that you be going 1.5 mph for the light to be full brightness. This came in very handy as most of the 40 mph downhills were followed by 5 mph uphills.

By 5:00 am as the sun was rising my energy level was sinking. I staggered into Sabula around 5:30 with very little energy and motivation, not to mention I was getting sleepy. A quick 10 minute nap at the picnic table and a can of Mountain Dew provide a little energy to get me back on the road. The next 50 miles were pretty tough going. The wind had picked up slightly out of the south west (the direction I was going) and the rolling hills are endless.

I finally made it to Le Clarie at 9:50 am completely wiped out but satisfied that I had pushed through some pretty rough times and finished the ride.

19- 24 ounce bottles
3- 70 ounce camelbacks
66 ounces of Misc

12 fig newtons, 3 servings of Powerbar Gels, Turkey and ham Sandwich, Turkey Salad sandwich, Egg Salad Sandwich, 2 Salted Nutrolls, 2 Granola Bars, 3 servings of Hammer Perpetuam (280 calories), rice Krispy Bar, Slice of Pizza, Strawberry/Blueberry fruit cup, Ham and Cheese McMuffin. 46 S-Caps (about 400 mg of sodium).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

RAAM 2010 comes to an end for Paul

Paul Carpenter's 2010 RAAM attempt came to an end 10 miles east of El Dorado Kansas at mile 1612 of the race. We had a great day yesterday covering 330 miles in 22 hours to try to make up some time before we get to the time cut-off at the Mississippi River. The cut-off is 3:00 pm Eastern time on Thursday. This morning Roger, Sam and myself headed out at 7:15 and right away we could tell that it was not going to be our day. After 7 miles Paul pulled over and could not even get clipped out of his peddles due to knee problems. A 15 minute break and some ice did nothing for the pain. We got him back on the bike for a few miles of alone time on the course before loading him into the van and going back to El Dorado.
Paul is very pleased with his accomplishments and is not disappointed with his effort. We probably pushed a little far yesterday but that was needed as a last ditch effort to be an official finisher.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catching Up

It has been a few days since I updated other then a quick call to my wife.

We had a long day through the Rockies with Paul riding 218 miles that included three passes over 9500 feet with Wolf creek pass being the tallest at 10,800. This pass is where Des Moines cyclist Bob Breedlove was killed during RAAM. We managed to dodge the heavy rains over the passes and got him into South Fork, Alamosa and La Veta. The climb to La Veta was harder then it looked and really took it out of him. He rolled into Trinidad at 1:30 am and was shot. 3 and 1/2 hours sleep later we had him on the road and it was not a pretty sight.
Our average speed heading towards Kim was about 12-13. This was slightly downhill section and we figured we would move along pretty good. Paul was really struggling and it took quite a bit to keep him moving down the road. We bribed him with candy and gum, gave him some short breaks and even took a nap in Kim but nothing was working. Shortly after Kim it was decided that we would stop at Springfeild CO, just short of the TS in Walsh and get 8 hours of sleep before pushing on early in the morning. This decision was going to put us behind the time schedule cut-off but there is no "official" cut-off until Maryland so we would have to push harder after the long break but that would be better then the alternatives. It was our last ditch effort to finish this race. The sleep did him wonders as he headed out this morning as a new man. We were 12 hours behind schedule and we cannot afford another long break and still finish the race.

Hopefully now that we are out of the mountains we can get more updates in a timely fashion.

Paul Carpenter - 51 Years Young

Wolf Creek Pass


The picture of Wolf Creek Pass shown above was a pass in Colorado that Paul went through on Sunday. It was beautiful.....grueling for him....but beautiful!! And today ----- Oh what a difference a day......and sleep.....makes!! On Monday, Paul was in Colorado and it took approximately 9 hours to ride 100 miles. Not a very good day unfortunately. It was tough for him. His legs just had a hard time getting the pedals to churn. The decision was made that Paul would stop and sleep 8 hours and see how he felt after that. So about 20 miles away from the Kansas border, Paul and the entire crew stopped. Paul quickly fell asleep while the crew fed themselves. At about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, the crew woke Paul and it was a new day!! And was it a new day! Paul is making great time today! His first 100 miles were completed in 6 hours and that was with 45 minutes off the bike. The crew that started following him is being referred to as "The Dog Pound". I'm not sure how this crew got it's name. This 3-person crew consists of Jay Yost, Tim Richardson, and Chris Mann. Sounds like Paul had a great breakfast from good old McDonalds. He had a sausage McMuffin AND a McGriddle. Mmmmm. Did that do wonders. He has been motoring ever since. So far today (Tuesday) they have made it through Time Station 22 (Walsh, Colorado); TS #23 (Ulysses, KS); and TS #24 (Montezuma, KS). They plan to push through Time Station #25 which is Greensburg, KS. This is where a tornado flattened the town about 3 years ago and it is being completely rebuilt. Also, Paul hopes to make it through Time Station @26 Pratt (where riders eat for free at Starvin Marvin's BBQ) and then Time Station #27 in Maize, KS (suberb of Wichita); and land at the town of El Dorado where they will his Time Station #28. That will be over 325 miles today which is much different than the 120 miles he rode yesterday.

Some other meals Paul has enjoyed have included double cheesburgers, strawberry shakes, PayDay bars. Yesterday he really didn't even want to drink any water. He drank some sparkling water but that is about it. Didn't want any perpetuem (which is a Hammer Nutrition product) but today is back on the perpetuem too.

We hope to continue to report good news for our rider.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

RAAM Day 1 on the Books

At 2:33 pm central time Paul left Oceanside bound for Annapolis. The start was a time trial style at 1 minute intervals. The RAW riders went first then the RAAM riders with the rookies leading off followed by seniority with Jure going last.
The sun came out as we headed out with temps in the upper 70's. Sam, Roger and I were up first in the follow vehicle. The first 20 miles there is no support, the next 35 miles is limited leap frog support areas, at 7:00 pm local time we can do follow support. Leap frog is tough because you are in and out of the van about every 20 minutes.
Paul was strong up the big climbs up to Lake Henshaw and to the descent at the Glass elevator at around 4500 feet. The glass elevator is a 9 percent descent that takes the rider from 4500 feet to the desert floor at 200 feet. Starting the descent the temperature was 74 and by the time we got to the bottom it was 99. The van could not keep up with the bikes on the descent and the brakes were a little hot by the time we got down.
The wind was pretty favorable through the night and even switched from the south as we headed north to Blythe to meet the rest of the crew for a scheduled exchange at 2:00 AM. Our crew had been working for 14 hours but were still pretty pumped. Paul took a shower and 45 minute nap before heading out with Joe and Rose Mary Jamison and Susie. The three of us then slept from 4:00 to 7:00 before breakfast, laundry, vehicle change with Tim, Jay and Chris.
Paul rode strong through the night and was eating and drinking very well. He switched from his Cervelo to the Felt in Brawly to see if he could get more comfortable. It seemed to help but his "back side" is still his biggest concern. He has been changing shorts about every 100 miles and cleaning and lubing regularly to stay on top of his bottom.
Please post comments and we will read them to Paul during the night.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

RAAM Preperation

Most of the plans are finalized, the vehicle is ready. Only 15 days until the race and 9 days until we leave. The trip officially begins at 3:00 pm on Thursday June 3rd. There will be seven of us driving out in three vehicles. The plan is to be in LA by the end of the day on Saturday. Paul has relatives we will be staying with. Monday morning we drive to Oceanside for a series of inspections, meetings and photos. There are many stickers and signs to put on the vehicles before we can pass inspection. It is petty neat to see all the vehicles in the parking lot at the start. Total there are 10 of us on the crew. Three drivers, three feeders/navigators, and three medical personnel. The medical personnel are responsible to log everything Paul eats, drinks as well as many other vital measurements. In my next post I will list all the stats they will be gathering during the race.

I have added some links to different RAAM pages that can be used to follow Paul and the team as me move across the country. Chris will be updating his face book, Paul has a facebook and web page that will also be updated. To make the time cut-offs you have to avereage 250 miles per day for the entire 12 days. We should cross the Mississippi near Alton Il. around the 16th of June eight days into the race. That is the roughly the 2/3 mark of the race.

Riding has been a little on the light side in the last four weeks. After the Trans Iowa and the 300K I took a little break but have started ramping it up a little again. It is tough to get motivated not having a scheduled event in the near future.

Friday, May 14, 2010

RAAM is Close

This week has been one of the lowest milage totals for me in a long time. After TRANS IOWA and the 300K Brevet I thought I needed a break. I have been training pretty hard since December and with no races in sight I am having a tough time getting motivated. Oh well you will have that. Next week I will pick it up.

Three weeks from today I will be halfway to California on the drive out to the start of RAAM. I have been working on getting the van ready with the PA system and speakers for Paul’s music. I have a good idea on how we are going to put some shelves in the back of the van with a sleeping “bunk” on top for Paul to take naps of even get his 3 hours of nightly sleep if there are no close Hotels.

There are 9 of us on the crew in three vehicles doing 8 hour rotations. Paul has some co-workers that are going to use him as a guinea pig and conduct all kinds of tests on him as the race progresses. Power output, heart-rate, core temperature, hydration level, swelling and many other things will be captured as we spend 12 days crossing 3000 miles of the center of the USA.

There will be updates to his facebook and web page and I will post the links on my blog as the race gets closer. I will also update on my blog from time to time.

Paul's RAAM Profile

All for now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Trans Iowa is not for you if:

Found this on a riders blog.

The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.

The TRANS IOWA is not for you if:

You don't like riding your bike.
You don't like the dark.
You don't like rain.
You don't like thunder and lightning storms.
You don't like loose gravel.
You don't like speed.
You don't like steep hills.
You don't like gravel in your eye.
You don't like riding your bike in the dark, down steep hills covered by loose gravel, in a thunder and lightning storm, in the pissing rain, with gravel shooting up into your eye.

You don't like Iowa.
You don't like the farm country.
You don't like spending all day outside.
You don't like the smell of pig manure.
You don't like walking in mud.
You don't like carrying your bike.
You don't like spending all day outside in the Iowa farm country, riding and carrying your bike thru mud, with the sweet smell of pig manure constantly in your nostrils.
You don't like spending all day with the same people.

You don't like strange people.
You don't eccentric people.
You don't like gas stations.
You don't like gas station food.
You don't like eating food who's first ingredient is sugar, corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup.
You don't like spending all day with strange and eccentric people, living off gas station fodder made of high fructose corn syrup, including Pop-tarts, cherry pies, Suzy Q's, Coke, and cookies.

You don't like like pain.
You don't like physical exertion.
You don't like mental exertion.
You don't like exploring your dark side.
You don't like the hurt tank.
You don't like stepping outside your comfort zone.
You don't like stepping outside your comfort zone, into the depths of physical and mental exertion, exploring the hurt tank, the dark side.

Time for a break

After the 300K Brevet last weekend I am ready for a break. 16 1/2 hour ride one weekend followed by a 11 3/4 hour ride the next weekend and my legs are shot.
The 300K was put on by the Big Dogs in the Quad Cities. The ride started and ended at Comfort Inn in LeClaire with the turn around at Key West Iowa. Hard to believe there really is a Key West Iowa and if you google it I am not sure you will find it. It is a suburb of Dubuque right on highway 61 and 52. Of course it is at the top of a big hill. Not surprising since this route had 8000 feet of climbing. It basically is the TOMRV Sunday century route up and back. McCausland, Follets, Low Moor, Elvira, Miles, Sabula, Bellevue, St. Donatus, Key West and back. There were 11 of us starting the ride but it soon broke into 6 of us and then down to small groups of two or three.

The ride up was great as the wind was blowing from the south pretty strong but promised to be a tough ride home. The trip up took 5 hours and 10 minutes and after a 20 minute break in Key West the trip home took 6 hours and 15 minutes. Total time was 11:45 with 55 minutes off the bike. The 27 miles from Sabula to Low Moor took 2 hours of non-stop riding. The wind finally died a little for the last 25 miles as Keith Wells and I rolled back into town.

I am still working on the write up for Trans Iowa but for your reading pleasure here are some other riders blogs and some pictures from the ride.

Tune in for my final report.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tran Iowa

Soupy gravel roads, lightning storm, some sunshine, thick mud, pushed 3 ½ miles of mud roads (either pushed in the grass of carried bike) soft hilly roads with 3-4 mph uphills, and some 4 mph flats through the quick sand, light to moderate head wind all day until the end then 30 mph head wind. 134 miles of racing in 13 hours (less then an hour off the bike) followed by 3 ½ hours of pavement back to Grinnell in pouring, driving rain with three others. 181 total miles in 16 ½ hours. It really was fun and I felt great except for the blister on my foot from walking in wet shoes. I stayed warm, did not cramp and the bike worked great. Needed a bigger cassette. 58 starters, 27 made the first check point, about 15 made the second, 7 still riding when the race was stopped at mile 154 of the race. Conditions were such that we were not going to make the next check point so I figured no finishers. Chose the easy route of 43 miles back to Grinnell in the rain with 23 being head wind and 20 cross wind. Found out later if I would have gone on I would have been stopped but at least been a finisher. Bummed about that. Next year????????? I will post a more detailed adventure and some pictures later this week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


April 24th is about here. The training is done as much as I can. The only thing left it the execution of the ride plan. This will have to include many calories and ounces of water along with electrolytes and pacing. Physically I think I am ready and feel I am in the best shape of my life. Mentally I really want to finish this ride to wipe out the RAW DNF.
This is the picture of how my cyclo-cross bike will be set up for the ride. I will also carry a 70 ounces camel back.

Training has gone well. I did a 95 miles gravel road ride last Friday and felt really good finishing. Total time was 6 1/2 hours with 12 minutes off the bike. The diet was mainly fig newtons and perpetuam. Now all that is left is figuring out what to pack and how to carry it on the bike. The new headlight works great and I can't wait to get in the middle of no where and see how bright it really is. Being able to see well on the gravel/mud roads is going to be a big plus.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

200K Brevet

The photo at the top of the page is looking over the Mississippi at the Interstate 280 bridge at 6:10 Saturday morning. I decided to ride to LeClaire for the 8:00 start of the 200K brevet. I left home at 5:10 and was along the river right as the sun was cresting over the horizon. It was tough rolling out of bed at 4:30 but riding as the sun comes up is very rewarding.
The weatherman got the forecast correct and the wind was already blowing from the south west by the time I got to LeClaire for the start of the ride. This made for a nice ride to LeClaire and would also provide quite a push as we headed to Bellevue for the turn around. 15 riders started the day but the climb out of town split is up pretty good and left 8 of us together. The out and back route follows quite a bit of the Saturday TOMRV route going through McCausland, Elvira, Miles before heading north to Bellevue. There are no really big climbs but the entire course had rolling hills.
The pace was pretty high all the way up with Keith Wells of Des Moines pushing the pace on the hills. We averaged a little over 21 mph on the way up. We arrived in Bellevue with five of us together and another group of two right behind.
After a quick stop we headed back to enjoy the nice head wind. The first 11 miles along the bluff were protected from the wind before heading south to Miles. Just before heading south I dropped off the pace and was on my own for the next 25 miles until we got to Low Moor. There I caught up with three other riders and heading back to LeClaire as a group.
We finished the ride in 7:16. I did not eat enough early on and definitely did not drink enough water. I had plenty off water with me just did not drink it. This is something I will improve as I get closer to the Trans Iowa.
My next training ride will be 100 miles of gravel around Muscatine county with the bike set up as it will be for Trans Iowa.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ultra Training

I meant to post this at the begining of April but due to computer problems it did not post.

March and April need to be a big months for me as far as miles go. The 24th or April is my first big race of the year the Trans Iowa VI. Work has made my training very sporadic with some long hours and business trips. The weather the last couple weeks has been great so when I was able to ride it was pretty enjoyable.

Weekly miles:

Feb 22 - 333
Mar 01 - 190 (In New York for work)
Mar 08 - 199 (injured shoulder)
Mar 15 - 316
Mar 22 - 190 (In Canada for work)
Mar 29 - 196 (12 hour days at work)

Currently there is no traveling or "special" project at work so the miles will level out around 300-350 per week.

Training for ultra-distance events can very daunting. As with training for any type of sporting activity the weeks prior to the event need to be focused to prepare yourself for the event. When I was racing criteriums and road races I would work on sprinting, hill climbing or short burst of 100 percent effort. When your event is 24-26 hours in length specific training can be pretty tough. Training for ultra-distance races also includes comfort on the bike, fueling, hydration and night riding. To get a good handle in these areas you have to do looooonnng rides. Ideally a long training ride would be 10-12 hours. My longest this year has only been 8 hours. I have quite a few 4-6 hour rides but they are not enough. I plan to get a 10 hour ride this weekend.

Some of my miles have been on gravel with the cyclo-cross bike. Right now the roads are in pretty poor shape. There are sections that are like quick sand and are very difficult to keep a good speed or straight line. Hopefully some heavy rains will take care of the problem. Riding last Friday with a stiff cross wind on the gravel proved to be a bit of a challenge. Picture yourself riding down the road with a 20 mph cross wind. Your bike is leaning into the wind to compensate. The challenging part with the gravel is your wheels are basically sitting on ball bearings. If your center of gravity gets too far off you are laying in the road. When you hit the lose sections you need to be centered over the wheels but then the wind pushes you to the side of the road. During this ride I was actually looking forward to the head wind sections. Some of the aspects of gravel road riding that I love are low traffic, new roads and the new scenery. There are more miles of gravel roads in Muscatine county then paved roads. After 4 months of exploring them I still find new ones almost every time I ride. This picture is of a dirt road I found near the Cedar river off Independence avenue. My plans for the year are to keep riding the gravel once in a while just to keep from getting into a rut.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Counting my Blessing

While heading home after a group ride this week I got to thinking about how really lucky I am. The list of items I should be thankful for kept popping in my head. It seemed like the list would go on and on. When I am doing long solo rides there is plenty of time to ponder deep thoughts but this was after a shorter group ride. I guess I was feeling blessed with the way the week had gone.
Our health is the biggest blessing that most of us seem to take for granted. Having the ability to ride a bike is great let alone for the distances and speed we do. Bill Lang is the Big Dog of the year. He has had a tough couple of years but continues to ride. Click on his name to read a short story.
I have a great family that supports my insane adventures. Dragging them 4000 miles across the western U.S. last year for RAW just proves that. My wife has always been supportive of my training and racing. With Ultra-distance training the long rides can get really long and mean riding from sunrise to sunset on weekends. Not to mention the financial commitment.
I have a couple friends that have been convinced to join me on more then one occasion. Mike Doyle and Bill Ford have both completed Balltown several times, ridden with me out to RAGBRAI, completed the Midwest 12 hour challenge and numerous long training rides. Chad Bishop and Greg Harper (both accomplished racers) force me to work on speed during shorter training rides.
I am fortunate to have a nice paying job that lets me get off work at 2:30 each day to allow me to ride outside, without lights, even in the middle of winter. On early spring days with nice weather like last week that really is a plus.
Just living in rural Iowa is a blessing. I live just north of town and when the snow is melting and the city streets are sloppy I don't have to mess with it. There are many roads around Muscatine that are great to ride, paved and gravel. I am glad I don't have to fight traffic each time I ride or load my bike to get someplace safe.
I am sure there are many more blessing I am lucky to have. On your next ride as you are in the middle of no-where let your mind drift away from the worries of life and take time to count your blessings and be really thankful of the great life we all enjoy.
It was a great week of riding with the weather finally looking like the end to winter is near. Although, as I type this there is a blanket of snow on the ground. Iowa weather at it's finest.
A quick recap of the week starts with a 112 mile ride on Sunday. This was the longest ride for the year and consisted of several smaller rides. The scheduled ride was the bike club St. Patrick's Day ride at 1:00. There was 7 of us that completed a 32 mile loop. Greg Harper and I added a loop afterwards and then I took the long way home to make 112. I ran a little short on food during the second loop but started feeling better towards home.
The weather for the week was great. Low 60's and sunny was the standard for most days except Tuesday. Daily totals for the weekdays were 70, 60, 39, 71 and 13.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

End of Winter

This really has been a long winter. I always wonder if it seems longer to the people who train out in the cold and are tired of freezing or the people who train indoors and are just dying to get outside. My training is about half and half so either way I am ready for warmer weather.

February was an up and down month for me. My weekly miles started out good, went down the toilet one week (117 miles) that I worked late every night and then ended with my biggest week (333 miles) in a long time including a century on February 28th. 256 of the 333 miles were outside as the sun shined and the winds were light. The new challenge with the warmer weather is the sloppy roads but that is better then ice.

As I write this I am having another down week with work sending me to Binghamton New York for a few days. Binghamton is where they got 18" of snow last Thursday and Friday. Luckily quite a bit melted by the time we got here on Monday. The hotel I am at only has tread mills so if I want to workout on a bike I have to drive down the road to a health club.

My training is leading up to the Trans Iowa VI that is only seven weeks away. I feel I have a pretty good base but need to start increasing my weekly long ride peaking at 12 hours over the next 6 weeks before tapering off for the race. A big issue before the race is buying or borrowing a cyclo-cross bike to ride. Either way I would like to have 4 weeks of riding on the bike before the race. My 12 hour ride two weeks before the race needs to be on that bike and mainly on gravel roads. There are a lot of gravel roads around to choose from but I am not sure I can convince any of my training partners to join me. They already think I need to be institutionalized.

Read below to determine what type of cyclist you are.

Climber: Body type: lung on a stick. Distinguishing bike characteristic: single water bottle cage, no valve caps. If not a cyclist, would be: runner, supermodel or loincloth-wearing ascetic. Favorite conversation topics: weight in grams of cable end caps; long-forgotten taste of ice cream. In the peloton, likes to: hide.
Sprinter: Body type: quads the size of beer kegs, elbows sharper than stiletto, multiple road-rash scars. Distinguishing bike characteristic: 11-tooth cog, shredded front-tire sidewall from sticking wheel into tight places such as others' cassettes. If not a cyclist, would be: street fighter. Favorite conversation topics: anything involving smack talk. In the peloton, likes to: yell at everyone to "Close that gap!" but never takes a pull.
Time Trialist: Body type: flexible enough to join Chinese acrobat troupe. Distinguishing bike characteristic: aerodynamic frame, wheels, handlebar, water bottle, cable end caps. If not a cyclist, would be: computer programmer or engineer. Favorite conversation topics: drag coefficients, most recent visit to wind tunnel, slipperiness of skin-suit. In the peloton, likes to: get on the front and ride, dammit.
Commuter: Body type: N/A. Distinguishing bike characteristic: grime. If not a cyclist, would be: NASCAR driver. Favorite conversation topics: carbon footprints, climate change, recyclability of objects not commonly known to be recyclable. In the peloton, likes to: ring handlebar bell.
Ultra-distance Rider: Body type: all of the above. Distinguishing bike characteristic: lights, handlebar bag and/orange seat bag, comfy saddle. If not a cyclist, would be: Institutionalized!" Favorite conversation topics: food, miles/kilometers ridden, food, extreme weather experiences, food. In the peloton, likes to: "Peloton?"

Happy riding and hey, spring is around the corner? March 14th starts daylight savings time. Hopefully the snow will be gone by then.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hard to keep motivated

Most of my riding this month has been in the basement on my Velodyne. I am really lucky to have that to ride on instead of just a regular trainer. If the sun is shining through the window you can ALMOST pretend you are riding on the road. Climbing up and down the hills makes it seem more realistic and the work out is great. My monthly totals will be about 800 miles with only about 340 outside.

To help lighten the mood, and since I don't have much to post about I am going to add some links to some entertaining You-tubes videos along with some statistics from riders who really are crazy. When you look at there riding it makes me seem normal.

Pre-ride conversation
Another pre-ride
Post ride conversation
Another post die conversation
There are many You-Tubes videos you can see once you bring up one of these.

Roller Tricks

The Ultra Marathon Cycling Association has an indoor challenge each year from December 1 to March 1. You get points for riding indoors based on how many hours you ride. A ride must be at least 2 hours long to earn points. Additional points are awarded only for full hour increments as follows:
First full two hours in a session 2 points
next full hour (3rd hr) 2 points
next full hour (4th hr) 3 points
next full hour (5th hr) 4 points
next full hour and subsequent full hours 5 points each hour

The leader has 951 point with 396 hours of indoor riding since December 1st. I think he needs to get a life. Follow the link to the rules and standings.

I have been logging my miles with on the Big Dog web page for the last two years. Each year more and more riders are logging insane miles. Paul Carpenter, the top "dog" will be over 1500 miles outside for this month. You would think that he lives in a warm place but he is from the Chicago Suburb of Batavia and commutes to work 31 miles each way. Click on the link on his name to read his post for this month. I am not sure how/why he rides that much in the cold.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Old Man Winter Keeps Coming

Another week of Iowa winter weather. Last week's bitter cold temperatures and wind chills forced me to ride inside 5 out of 7 days. I kept looking at the long range forecast without any satisfaction. Finally towards the end of the week the long range started to look a little brighter with above freezing temperatures forecasted for this week. If it hits 40 it will feel like a heat wave.

When deciding whether to ride inside or out there are a couple factors that push me to my basement other then the obvious cold:

1. How slick are the roads? Laying on the pavement is not as much fun as it used to be even if it is covered with snow. Just ask Doyley how much fun it is after he went down three times a few Sunday's ago. At our age we don't seem to bounce as much as we used to. Going down a couple times in mid December has me a little gun shy.
2. How windy is it? A 10 mph wind is really awful in the winter. What you are wearing is completely different for the head/cross wind then the tail wind. I usually am overdressed and just sweat with the wind. The problem is being sweaty makes you colder so you have to make sure it is a tail wind home.
3. Daylight hours. I have quite a few different light set ups for both my mountain bike and my road bike. I don't mind riding in the dark but with the snow covered roads you have to watch out for the slick spots. These spots are hard enough to see during the daylight let alone at night.
4. How long will it take to get dressed and undressed? Within 5 minutes of walking in the door I can be downstairs riding the trainer. I have a dedicated bike on the trainer that has not seem outside since 1994. To ride outside will take 20-30 minutes of clothing preparation ahead of time plus 10 minutes after. That does not include the time after the ride in the shower to get the chill chased out of my body. More on Winter clothing in my next post.
5. How much "crud" will I get on my bike? The gravel roads are usually pretty dry but the paved roads and city streets can get a little slushy. For this purpose I do have an old mountain bike with fenders and street slicks. That bike is great if there is no snow or ice on the roads. I don't clean my bike very often but the slushy conditions are really hard on them.
6. Do I want to get a specific workout? During the winter I find it hard to get a hard workout outside. Most the time if the roads are snow covered your mission is to keep the rubber side down and the skin side up. Doing intervals, hill repeats or sprints is out of the question. If you do try to push the pace a little at various intervals you just get sweaty which leads to getting colder. Any hard efforts have to be at the end of the head wind or close to home. On my trainer I can do workouts by percent grade or watts. Everything is controlled and I get a great workout.

If the weather is pretty decent and the sun is shining I will decide at work if I will ride outside or in. Once I decide to ride outside I have to head out as soon as I get home and try not to think of all the reasons to ride inside. Now that the Big Dogs mileage mania does not count indoor miles there is some peer pressure to ride outside when possible.

As we head to the downhill side of winter (January 17th the almanac says the average high goes from 29 to 30 degrees) and the days get longer there will be more opportunities to ride outside. Last year was my highest total mileage year with my lowest indoor miles. Hopefully I can break both those marks this year.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 Year in Review

Well 2009 in is the bag. It is time to look back and see what went right and what can be improved. It is also time to set goals for the new year and plan key events.

2009 in Review: 13,000 miles total. 11,328 road bike, 1083 indoors, 589 mountain bike. Average week was 249.3 miles, average per day was 35.6 miles, 50.6 miles per day for the 256 day I rode.

What went right: The 24 hours of Sebring had a few bright spots. It was the first race I used Succeed by E-caps. I cramped at the 150 mile mark because of sporadic use of the pills but once I got on a schedule of one every 20 minutes I felt great and came back to finish strong. This helped me establish the need for 3 an hour in the hot conditions. I also discovered that the new shoes I was trying were not going to work for ultra rides. They were too tight. I had a good training plan leading up to RAW. My mileage increased gradually peaking with three 200+ Saturday's in a row. The last one being the Balltown Classic that featured 11,000 feet of climbing. I finished feeling real good and confident that my spring training was solid and my nutrition plan was going to work well. A first place at the 200 mile Metamora in August was my best race of the year. The heat and headwind shattered the group but once again my nutrition and hydration was right on and I finished feeling like I could have kept riding.

What went wrong: During Sebring along with the foot issues I had seat issues. This set in motion me changing seats, shorts, and chamois cream. I thought I had it all dialed in but RAW showed me otherwise. I should have had at least on 24 hour ride in May for the final tryout before RAW. There are some issues that just don't surface in a 12-15 hour ride. Not finishing RAW was the biggest disappointment of the year. I kick myself all the time for quitting.

What to improve: More core and strength training. Early in the spring my weekend rides need to be longer. Not so much focus on miles during the week but focus on the long rides. I had 109 days off the bike in 2009 and that needs to be less. August was my lowest mileage month which is just way wrong. I need to have a 200 mile day on RAGBRAI.

2010 Goals and Key Events: Yearly goal is 13,000 miles. My key events will be: Trans Iowa IV on April 24-25th. This is an unsupported 300+ mile gravel road race in central Iowa. HooDoo 500 at the end of August in south west Utah. This is also an unsupported ride.