Normbrero

We make holes in teeth!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bring Out the Hellman's

And bring out the best? My titles continue to grow more arcane and/or inane by the day. Bring out. Bring on. Bring on the weekend because it's just a day away like: Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I'll eat pork! Tomorrow! The heat wave is gone, I've paid for the race, now all we have left is to show up, warm up, then go do, the voodoo, that you do, so weeeellllllll! So says Heady (that's Hedley) Lamar.

You know I want nothing more than to sit on the train Monday and write how things went well for a change. In all of my races - as in ever - things don't generally go well. Up to this point I've done 4 actual races (not charity rides) and they all have very low bottom out points:

1. Allamuchy 24, 2005. My first ever race, part of a 4 man team. I am so miserable on the 4:00 am lap I vow never to do this stupid race again.

2. Allamuchy 24, 2006. My second race ever is a solo 24 race. Given the comments in race #1 I clearly do not learn from my mistakes. I cramp in this race but overall I enjoy it. Probably my best race experience.

3. Allamuchy 50k, 2006. Woefully unprepared for this, I didn't cramp but after hour 3 I am in bonk/toast territory with no way to get out. At times even walking the hills is really painful.

4. Granogue, 2007. Cramped big time at the 2:30 point of a 4 hour race. This has been hashed out before.

Ok so maybe I've bitten off big races in the past which would explain some of my miserable experiences. The race Sunday should be no more than 2 hours so I can't see myself entering that world of hurt. Famous last words but after reading Maurice and Terren's comments Wednesday I've got a reasonable approach going into this. Plus I've done 3 laps there countless times so the distance isn't anything new.

I guess all that leaves is the race itself.

You know it's funny that when I reread this it sure sounds like I'm obsessing about this race - well any race not just this one. But the reality is that I'm just looking for something to write on the ride to work. As far as I'm concerned the training is all in the bank and there's not much I can do other than eating well and trying to get solid sleep over the next few nights. The last piece is to show up in time and warmup a little, then not blow up in the first 20 minutes. After that, it is what it is. That's not to say I won't be nervous before the race because I will. I don't have the Kool Kalm and Kollected thing down yet - after all it is only my 5th race ever.

So that's that. Not really much else to talk about right now since the bike is fine, I'm not sick or injured, and the weather seems decent for the weekend. The ducks are lined up and in a row. Quack quack, I say, quack. Somebody step on a duck?

In other breaking developments the bike shop replied to my follow-up email saying the linkage will cost $35, which isn't too awful. I'll probably pick one up to have on hand because I need to spread the costs out as much as possible. I've had no luck finding the piece online, as unlikely as that sounds. I guess I could try EBay but that's unlikely.

I still owe the world a follow-up post on coffee. I just ordered from Sweet Maria's so I'll list what I got at some point next week. I'll also try to find the cheapest way to roast your own for those who are gun shy at the startup costs. Plus Cliffy never commented either so I'll pester him for some thoughts on the newbie coffee roaster.

In mysterious foreshadowing news, those of you who follow this blog from the bike site are in for some interesting developments (note the plural). So Monday's race recap will probably only be part of the discussion. Stay tuned.

Looks like we already have next weekend's big ride lined up with the Lebanon 52 on Sunday, 52 miles and 6600 feet of vertical hilarity. Hoping both ChrisG and Maurice can make that ride, which incidentally passes right in front of Terren's house in Califon. The following weekend I'm trying to line up my ducks to do another of the MASS marathon events.

Well it's Friday, hope you enjoy it, and have a good weekend.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

There Goes Gravity

The great thing about this Interweb Thingy (as people like to call it) is that once in a while you get some really good feedback that just makes sense. When you think about it the obvious answers are often right there in front of you but sometimes it takes someone else to point it out. Here's the evidence in 2 parts:

Maurice

"Hope I can see you at the race. This is an interesting place to race at... Don't get too hung up on the course as you know it, it may be different this time around. In any case it's a somewhat long race, so don't sweat the start too much. Don't take it easy either as it's harder to get going otherwise. Most importantly, play it safe. This is a place where stacking it can be expensive, and it may be slippery in spots (bridges, roots, gravel,...). Those are nice times you clocked, you should do well. Good luck, Maurice"

Thanks for the comments, all of them are well taken. You bring up a good point about the course. The rumor is that it's supposed to change this year so I really shouldn't take anything for granted. It just makes more sense to pace that first lap and take it from there. I can let it all go if need be on the third lap.

And who am I fooling here? This is my first pure XC race so I should make it a priority to play conservative, especially since - as you mention - it's a bit of a longer race. For what it's worth the trails are pretty beat up so things are a little bit looser (and wider) than you may remember. Lots of gravel on just about all of the trails.

Hope to see you there. Not sure what time you start but we should cross paths at some point.

Terren

"Norm - Today I'm the voice of your blogging past: "if I continue to cramp up in races I will have to call it quits" (when I channel spirits I always paraphrase). You burn out of the gate and you're much more likely to cramp up. Play it safe, don't cramp, and if your only problem then is that you got stuck behind a bunch of grandmas, then at least you figured out the cramp thing, for one race anyway. I know, it's not the sexy advice you might have been hoping for, but I've got something else sexy for you when you fix my bike. Terren"

Damn, you guys are good. Or am I making this too easy? Here's another example of why this is good advice. That first lap Tuesday hurt more than it should have. I can keep a good pace but hauling that dump truck up those hills makes me redline a lot more than I want to. Undoubtedly it's hard to classify that pace as fun. Sure it's satisfying to be able to turn fast times but I need to keep it fun. There are 3 more months of racing left so I have plenty of time to hang loose if I want to at a later time.

Good stuff. Thanks for the input guys. You Hunterdon County folk sure are sensible.

Man I was really spent last night to the point that when I finally went to bed I was worried I might be getting sick again. I think my rides on Tuesday and Wednesday were much tougher than I realized and it cashed in on my body last night in a big way. Riding in that heat both days probably didn't help matters. Jake mentioned that he was slow yesterday too and my neighbor said she was having problems breathing on her morning walk. Plus work was hectic again yesterday so I ate erratically and drank far too little water and too much coffee.

I just need to let it soak in over the next 2 days before the weekend and hit the road as usual Saturday morning. I'm not taking it easy Saturday because the race is just a training session for me so I should be out for 2.5-3 hours of tempo riding. I will try to limit the hills but other than that it's business as usual. Also, I tend to ride better on the backside of back-to-back days so it works out well.

This morning I feel good but also happy I didn't ride. I slept in which gave me some much needed rest and woke up feeling the better for it. Too bad in some ways because the heat broke overnight and it was an absolutely gorgeous early morning, exactly the type of day you want to wake up to when you go camping. Perfect mountain biking weather.

I got my pink and black FatCyclist jersey yesterday but unfortunately the large is way too tight. I've had good luck with jerseys this year so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that Karma swung the other way on this one. If there is such a thing as Karma it must be the brother of Chaos because I dropped $60 plus $8 S&H for this jersey just to support the breast cancer cause. Really bummed it was too tight. Hopefully the folks at TwinSix help me out with an exchange.

I emailed the shop with a question about replacing my linkage and it looks like they ignored me. It's been 2-3 days now so I think that would be enough time to respond. Perhaps they read the blog and don't like the way I've slagged them. But only a few people who read here even know what shop I'm referring to and they're all capable of coming to their own conclusion. Ah whatever, it's time to drop the bike shop talk and move on. Just needed to vent a little.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tune Up Tuesday

I finally got my elusive vacation day on Tuesday which was a nice break to the monotony. My plan was a pretty basic 5 part day:

1. Sleep in
2. Spend time with family
3. Ride Lewis Morris
4. Get a haircut
5. Mow the lawn

It all went well until step 5, which was replaced with "fill the bird feeders" because it was so hot out. At one point I saw 100.2 on the thermometer. Just a brutal day yesterday.

I took the reassembled Stumpjumper to Lewis Morris with the intention to do 2 or 3 laps. I don't warmup or anything I just go, keeping a pace from the door. I think the last time I did laps at LM I was pulling 43 minute loops. Well that apparently was a long time ago as my first loop was 36:30 and the second 39:30, roughly. I cut it off after 2 because it was well over 90 degrees at that point and I wasn't looking to blow a fuse. Ride link here:

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/3267198

The extra 1:30 was going to/from the race loop. I have to be honest that I was astonished that I was able to pull that fast of a first lap, especially since it was a warmup. It hurt more than the second but then it was 3 minutes faster. If I had tacked on a third lap I probably would have kept about the same pace as the second lap, in the 40 minute realm, and I would have been pretty shot. The goal this Sunday is 2 hours. Anything better than that is gravy. That might seem like a lock given Tuesday's ride but I have no idea how it all shakes out with the 70 or so riders that will start at the same time I do.

I'm debating between letting it go for the first 5-10 minutes to get some separation from the chaff versus just doing my thing and letting it all fall where it will. The first 3 miles of the course is most of the climbing so there are plenty of places to pass but also plenty of places to blow. Aside from a 2 hour goal my other goal is to not cramp and to give it a solid but consistent effort. Blowing in the first 3 miles is not the best way to do that.

The downside with just starting free and easy is that you will bottleneck when the park road hits the singletrack, especially since you need to pull a turn that is sharper than 90 degrees in that transition. Whatever, I'll play it by ear the day of the race.

The one striking thing I noticed about yesterday is that my bike climbs like a dump truck. I love the bike but seriously it's just not a race bike. It does the job and on the flats and downhills it's a great bike. But that's a lot to lug up all of those hills at LM. And of course standing just eats up my energy as the squish squish squish does its thing.

But you know, failing that elusive winning lottery ticket I won't be buying a light race bike any time soon.

This morning I went out and climbed some hills. Nothing special just got out and did my thing. The pace is pretty unremarkable and I don't really have an answer for that. By the time I was warmed up the hills started. And I never really cashed in on the downhills as I actually took a wrong turn and got lost. Ride link:

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/3272016

No riding the next 2 days because I think rest is something I don't do enough of right now. And with these temperatures I really don't want to dig too deep of a hole. Maybe I'll pull a 2-3 week high volume stage in a few weeks but last time knocked me out for a week and left me flat the week after that. So I'm just trying to enjoy my time on the bike as best I can which translates to 4 days a week right now.

Jake

"you and your esoteric jargon. ;)"

I gots mad game, or snacks like Rod Woodson. Don't ask.

Ignoring my esoteric jive, Jake is also running on Sunday and I hope he does well. He's been obsessing about this for a few months now and finally the week of truth is here. My advice is just to pace yourself and aim for a negative split on each lap. Your second half of each lap should bump up your average. The first half is where you build your potential energy to release later. Think of it as a roller coaster. Up until that top of the switchback you're just click-click-cliking your way up to the top. Then let go but do so wisely.

ChrisG

"Finally sorted out some password confusion. Hence my lack of presence here lately. Full marks on the "ambivalent" vs. "indifferent"."

Well I'm glad someone appreciates it. And good to have you commenting again. Hope to see you at the LMC this weekend or the Lebanon 52 next weekend. What are your thoughts on warming up before a race as well as race start strategy?

George

"Lollapalooza! 1993 I think...right? I was there too! That is too funny man. I remember Janes and Pearl Jam, and NIN. It was a great show on the main stage. Wow...that was a blast from the past Norm."

Well I think one of us was either drinking or smoking or ingesting a little too much something or other back then because I'm pretty sure Pearl Jam was the second year (1992). I only went to the first year (1991) and I don't remember Pearl Jam. I guess I could just look it up and verify that I'm correct. But I'm on the train so that will have to wait.

I do seem to remember there was a no-show at the show we went to but I don't remember who. I think Siouxsee and the Banshees were on right before Jane's but not sure if they played or not. I do seem to remember being bored out of my skull for some of the show so good bet that they played. But then who didn't play?

They really should have box scores for this stuff like they do in baseball. I can go look up what Sixto Lexcano did on June 3, 1983. They should have the same sort of thing for concerts.

You know I think Living Color also played at that show and I think they were outstanding too. Yeah I really need to look this up when I get to work. All I can say for certain is that Ice Tea kicked serious ass, as did Jane's and NIN. And the Ice Tea and Perry Farrell whitey/nigger sing-off (whatever I hesitate to use the word duet there) was just fantastic. Or maybe it sucked and the drugs were great.

So I checked it out and apparently Fishbone was there too but I don't remember that. Pearl Jam was indeed the second year. Vaguely remember the Butthole Surfers and Rollins Band but not the Violent Femmes at all. And another thing I see is that Lollapalooza has turned into a mass freak event. This year there are no less than 125 scheduled bands currently. What the fuck man, that's just inane.

Wednesday. Ho ho hum. It looks like pea soup out there and feels worse. Stay cool.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Fixed

I guess if I was a big Nine Inch Nails fan I would have used the title Broken last week. I think naming these blog entries is a bit of a chore so don't read too much into them. Half the time it has nothing to do with whatever I'm talking about and the other half I have to stop myself from putting Pig Shit or some other inane expression as the title. It's just whatever comes to mind. Anywhere there's my nod to NIN. I saw them at the first Lollapalooza. Good show - especially Ice Tea, NIN, and Jane's - very vague recollection of it all. Now I go to Waterloo Village to park my car for the 24 hour race. It's the same field. Ironic how things change over time, huh?

So I think I'm better now. Not sure what did it but I had a good week of riding which was topped off by a great weekend. On Saturday I did a big 53 mile Califon loop with almost 4800 feet of climbing. Managed to keep a 16.5 for that which was a fantastic roll. Link here:

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/3252577

I'm really starting to see some of the high end stuff come out now. On the return home I was really pounding some of the short rollers. At one point I was going uphill doing 28 mph. Pretty wild stuff for a genetically limited fat white boy like myself. On Saturday I went to Lewis Morris with Woody on my old Trek full-rigid bike. Two things of note came from this:

1. That bike is a piece of shit. Let me qualify that by saying it really is old and needs some work. It's setup all wrong and feels awful. The bars are both too narrow and too low and possibly over-extended. The headset is beyond shot and the brake levers are positioned all wrong. Grip shift which I hate now. And of course cantilever brakes which squeak squeak squeak all the way down any hill and provide ample stopping power at the best of times. I'm really uncomfortable on that bike and can't descend well at all. I have no confidence on it either. It needs some work but...

2. It climbs like a bike possessed. Now I'm sure some of this has to do with my whole "high-end coming together" thing as well as the fact that I more than likely peaked last week. But jeez hills just aren't the same with this thing. At the end of the ride yesterday on the last climb I just threw it down to see what I could do and utterly lost Woody in no time.

I totally understand why people drop some nice coin on a light race bike with suspension. If I mixed the best qualities of the 2 bikes - the downhill ability of the squishy and the climbing of the rigid I don't think it's a stretch to say I'd be able to compete in the top of the sport class immediately. Well maybe it's a little stretch but probably not much. The more you ride the more stuff like this makes a difference. How much do you want to spend on a bike though?

In any event now I want to setup the old Trek properly which will be an offseason project. And of course I might eye up a lighter set of wheels for the full-squish for Christmas. Getting ahead of myself I know. This is what I do. We all do.

Here are my links from last week's rides:

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/3201887
http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/3205678

Nothing from yesterday's ride at LM because it was computer free. Just to clarify, Steve asked:

"i was reading the update for the darkhorse gallop, and with the short course, it could potentially be as "physical" as kvsp, fwiw. what do you consider a "fair amount of climbing"?"

It would probably be more accurate to say a good amount or even a lot of climbing. For me a lot is an average of 100 feet per mile. That's sort of the Mendoza Line for "a lot" of climbing for me. The Hillier Than Thou century is 10k of climbing in 100 miles. Or something like 11k in 108 miles. Either way it's a lot so when I ride I always compare against that. My last 2 road rides were:

Wed: 34.74 miles, 2826 vertical, 17.1 average, 81.3 feet/mile
Sat: 53.33 miles, 4790 vertical, 16.5 average, 89.8 feet/mile

Pretty happy with those ride averages. It would probably be an interesting study to keep tabs on average inclines for my rides and how my speed correlates. On the other hand it's a PITA. I was hoping to be able to approach a 17 average Saturday but after the Bissel climb I knew that was out of my range. I started at 16.6 and by the end of the climb was at 15.5. So that was a killer hill to blow out the average that much.

I'm finding lately that it's just better training to ride as many hills as possible. Since most of the mountain biking in north and central Jersey is hilly it translates better. There's never a perfect correlation between the road and the trail but I think the best way to make it close is to ride hills, a lot. So I always keep an eye on the amount of vertical. Unfortunately there just aren't a lot of long climbs in the area.

So biking was good this week even if motivation was a little lacking at times. Felt better overall and I don't think it's far-fetched to say those 8 beers at Vinny's set me back tremendously. I just can't live up to my nickname anymore. That's OK because drinking is an expensive and unhealthy hobby.

I was so unthrilled with the Trek yesterday that I came home and worked on the bearings in the linkage for Julia's entire hour and 40 minutes nap and managed to get the old ones out, the new ones in, and put the bike back together. I would have given myself a 3% chance of doing all that during the nap so it was a major score on that front. Very excited about that.

I needed to partially rebuild the bearing I couldn't get out. As a unit the bearing presses out easily. But when it falls apart and nothing is left but the outer race, forget it. Nothing I did made a difference in trying to get it out. So I popped one of the others out, took it apart, carefully rebuilt the stuck race and popped it out like butter. Was able to press them all back in with the vice and a socket to seat them fully. Sweet!

So hoping to take tomorrow as that elusive vacation day I haven't been able to get. Looking to sleep in, hang out with the family a bit, then hit LM again with the squishy bike. The race at LM is this weekend and I want to run a few laps with the reassembled bike to see how it feels. I've only ridden a mountain bike twice in about 5 weeks so I may ride both Tuesday and Saturday, though not sure I can mentally handle 10 race laps in an 8 day span, so more than likely be on the road again Saturday. If I am off tomorrow the blog will be silent for a day as I never get time to sit down and write at home. Also need to get a haircut and mow the lawn so my off day is pretty busy before Monday even begins. Things just keep on growing around here. Weeds in the flower bed, my hair, the grass, the long list of bike repairs and upgrades, my gut...the list is really endless.

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