We make holes in teeth!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Just About Nothing

Well the week is just about over and I have nothing else to talk about. I worked out all of the details yesterday so now all I need to do is put it all together and pack the car at some point tomorrow. I have the whole day working from home to do that.

So that's that. Other than sleeping as much as I can (8 hours last night) and eating well there's really not much else to do. Not looking forward to the drive because I'm bound to get caught in traffic somewhere along the line. But it is what it is. And since the promoter reiterated today that you can't get there before 7:00, it probably works out well. Drive is 162 miles in 3 hours.

I mentioned yesterday I was pretty tired, and on the way home that was pretty evident as I had trouble staying awake. A day later and I feel better, much more excited about the weekend now that I'm on a day off. While I won't be 100% fresh and rested by Saturday I'll be close enough which is all I'm looking for.


"the problem with multitasking is get get many things done wrong more quickly than it takes to get one thing correct. i didn't mean no light, what i meant to convey was a solid light instead of blinking. ask sean, i remember reading in one of his posts or ride across the country blog, about that. right now, i am just regurgitating second hand information while reading a contract (which i can't afford to get wrong). anyway good deal about the light, besides being a safety item, it is also the law."

Law, shmaw. I don't need no stinking law. I'll have to ask Sean but I did look online today and couldn't find anything. Damn hippies shouldn't be riding at night anyway. The light I have has like 6 settings and I choose the one I would call "scattered". It's not a steady blink but a rapid sorta mess of blinking. Think bird shot.

I wrote out my race checklist with Scottie Pippen last night which I should publish at some point. I debated playing ball at all so I asked my wife who unhesitatingly replied: Yes! My yesterday addition was a bag chair so that when I wake up at 5:30 I have somewhere to sit for the next few hours. The camping really is minimal but there are still going to be damn near 12 hours to burn between the register and the race. Maybe I should bring a book. War and Peace. Great way to prep for a race.

I seem to have settled on 192 as my stable weight for the race season. Some fluctuations in the 190-193 realm but 192 or 191 is where it always ends up at the end of the week. On one hand it's disappointing since I did see 182 on the scale one day but on the other hand my average weight then was 185. The 182 was merely a low point. Plus this is at least 10 pounds lower than my "operating weight" last season. At this stage 10 pounds a year is the best I can hope for and still keep a heavy riding load.

So put me in the camp of people who have now experienced a slight rebound from off-season weight loss as well as not being able to lose weight in-season. They say you store a lot of water and "waste products" in a time like this and I'm inclined to agree, especially since I basically packed on this 5 pounds on my sick week. I didn't really eat 17,500 extra calories that week. So it seems I'm retaining water and "other" stuff, whatever that exactly means.

People that go on juice fasts (jumbo shrimp) see weight loss in the 5-10 pound realm in as little as 3-5 days. Apparently this is water and waste. Alright I can buy that but what the hell is your body doing storing up this "waste" in the first place? As it is I eat a clean, minimally processed diet. How is it that my body feels the need to retain water and extra shit? Seems pretty fucking absurd to me. Perhaps the theory is flawed.

I'll try to bring the camera out to the race this weekend but I'm bad at pictures. I can't take the blogs where a guy will post 12 pictures of his mundane road ride so I shy away from them. But a good smattering of pictures makes any story that much more enjoyable. Also, if I bring my wife's camera and break it she'll be pissed. How do you bring a camera on the ride and be sure it won't get beat up?

Getting humid but not too hot. Should be good for the weekend ride. Over and out. May or may not post tomorrow as I will have no train time to waste away. Enjoy the weekend.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Third Party brings up a good point about something I might have forgotten in my race prep. First and foremost I need to thank my wonderful wife for allowing me to go out and do the race this weekend. Making coffee and a bagel - fine, half a bagel - doesn't cover the amount of rope she's giving me in the next 5 weeks. For those of you scoring at home, that's enough rope to ride about 190 miles (all off road) in 3 different states over 5 weeks. Goddamn that sounds like a lot. So even though she doesn't read anymore I'd like to thank Nat for being such a great wife and mother.

I must be growing up or something because I ironed out all the details of this race already. I'm pretty much set to go, save for a few precious details like the fact I'm sitting on a train and it's only Wednesday. So here's the play-by-play, skip ahead if you get bored because this ended up being pretty involved:

Work from home is already arranged. At 4:00 I head west, young man. Route 78 gets sketchy as you get to PA so I cut out on exit 7 in NJ and pick up again in PA because there's usually a backup at the toll booths when you cross the river. Aim to hit the girl scout camp at just about 7:00, which is what time it opens for people to show up. Directions already printed. I should send them to the blackberry to be sure. Or I can publish the address here and call someone if need be. Here's the address:

88 Hemlock Road
Halifax, PA 17032

Who wants to be my directional backup?

The race is at the girl scout camp, which is also where the camp sites are. Talk about convenient! For better or worse, the girl scouts will have been removed by then. You can get a bunk in a cabin for $5 or a tent site for $10. I'm opting for the tent site which should prove to be slightly more quiet. You can check in for the race Friday night between 7:00-9:00. I'm already registered so that should be straightforward. After check in I do the tent then crash out for the night.

Wake up at 6:00 and eat breakfast, then maybe try to find a cup of coffee. Get ready with the bike and so on then find a small corner where I can sit and take it all in. Pre-race meeting at 8:45. Race starts at 9:00. Smart, steady pacing starts at 9:01. One line in jest, but really all the other plans are secondary compared to that one. I may want to break out the old HRM again at some point to learn to pace better. But not this weekend.

There are 3 checkpoints (CPs) not 4 which means it will be slightly harder to get away with only bottles. I'm going to mount the lower cage and put a small bottle there but not sure if that will be useful or not. I may need to strap it down. Something to consider. I will pre-bag the Perpetuem and refill the bottle at each CP. The big bottle will have 400 calories which is good for about 90 minutes. The small will have 400 as well but will be a backup. I will only refill that if I need to. In all I will take 3 bags in addition to pre-filling the bottles for a total of 2000 calories. I don't think I'll use that much but an extra bag of powder costs me an ounce or 2. Probably have 72 ounces of water in the bladder, figure that gets topped off at CP2.

In theory that's 1600 calories and 214 ounces of water over 6 hours for a total of 265 calories and 36 ounces of water per hour. The calories is about right but I won't need that much water. The bags will be pre-salted and I'm going to pop 3 Endurolytes at each CP and maybe 3 at the start line.

I'm really thinking out loud here. This isn't exactly interesting copy or anything. Breakfast is TBD but figure at least 6-8 cups of water and a moderate-to-solid breakfast 2-3 hours before start.

From start to CP1 is predominantly uphill so figure 1:45 realm for that. From CP1 to CP2 to CP3 is standard rolling so expect 1:30 for each of those legs. CP1 and CP3 are the same spot, so from CP3 to the end is predominantly down, they estimate 30-60 minutes for the last 8-10 miles. I'll play it safe and say 60 minutes. Add 15 minutes in theory spread across all 3 stops and you have a 6 hour target. That's not a goal, per se, because I don't want to push myself to cramping and I really have no idea what the course is like. The goal is to finish. But if I come out of CP2 in 3 hours I'm probably going to keep that 6 hours in mind.

After the race I hit the car, change into something that smells less, do the recovery drink, grab some water, then look for free food and, if I'm lucky, a nice cold beer. Maybe hit the road in the 4:00-5:00 realm and home by 8:00 latest, more than likely smelling awful.

So that's that. Details in the book, camp arrangements done. Registered already. Traffic detour worked out though you can never beat traffic. Now I just need to take care of the normal ride prep, the camp, and the cooler of food. Then I'm good to go. Right now, all those ducks are lining up nicely.

Today's ride was tough. No cannons, no shots, no fire, no snot, and certainly no shaving cats. Felt good from the go but it went downhill from there, my residual fatigue of riding hard 4 or the last 5 days starting to catch up with me. I did the long swamp loop which can be a bit of a black hole because a lot of it is flat so it begs to be ridden faster. Mentally you always think you're going too slow. 45 minutes into it I was good and done, ready for a few days off. So today I'm not quite as excited about this weekend because I'm pretty tired right now. Thankfully I've been at this long enough to know that this will pass and by the end of tomorrow I'll be worked up again.

I think being tired today tells me that 4 days a week on the bike is plenty. As I sit here I can't help but wonder how I was keeping up 5 days a week for so long. My rides now are more "complete" for lack of a better term. I ride hills then keep tempo with whatever the road throws at me. I used to do more intervals which are hard when you do them but then you rest completely in between. The "experts" say intervals are actually fairly easy to recover from in one day. Maybe my "complete" rides are more stress than I think. Who knows. I'm tired right now, I do know that.

Looking ahead to after the 24 I may look into the Ross method of 3/4 brutally hard days in a row followed by 3/4 days off to get ready for the 50k. That could be interesting for a few reasons, one of which is that by then the sun won't be rising until 5:50 and as I approach the race that will move towards 6:30.


"Definitely my pleasure to ride with you, Norm. Thanks as well for offering up the comparison of the three parks. I find it hard to believe myself that I've never ridden CR and LM, but I'm sure that will be changing before the season comes to an end."

By all means let me know and we'll make it happen. Of course with our schedules that might take the rest of the year to work out. Plus I need to get down to Allaire one of these days. I've been there before but it was also many years ago and all I remember was sand. And we need to do that 50k primer as well.


"Blinker in the rear? I think sean once mentioned that becomes a zone-in for drunk & tired drivers. Shave in the shower. Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

Never heard that before. I was riding at dusk last year and someone pulled up to me and told me I was going to get killed, that they could hardly see me. In fact the driver didn't see me, his wife did. So I went out and got a blinker. Haven't had any close calls since then. I can't imagine that not having a rear light makes more sense in any situation unless you're stealing corn from the local farmer's market. But again, what do I know?

I used to shave in the shower but I usually wait too long so I would make a big mess. On top of that I don't have a mirror and it ends up taking me longer and I waste more water to boot. I really should just shave at night but I get lazy.


" never cease to provide the humor my friend! Too funny. I have now had my daily chuckle thanks to your insightful, yet hilarious discourse! On another note... Do you bring clean clothes to change back into for the ride home? Maybe have showers there? If not, bring a gallon/jug of water, some soap, and a towel or tow, or lots of baby wipes! So you can clean up a bit, and not feels so grimy on the ride home. It always feels longer going home, doesn't it? I can't think of anything else, you pretty much have it covered. Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Airplane...they were just awesome movies for sure. Oh yea, I do love Office If you could just pack the car the night before, that would be great...mmmmkay?"

I had planned on bringing a change of clothes but some wipes isn't a bad idea at all, especially for the nether regions which get lathered with Udderly Smooth before the race. Some throwaway water is also a good idea to wash off the legs at the very least. Might as well throw in a towel too. Good call, thanks.

Is the drive home longer? You know, I don't think so for me. I'm spent by then and it gives me time to just sit and be, to think, and most of all relax. At least for the first hour. By the end of a ride that long I'm usually stir crazy. But for some of it I get complete and utter down time which is a rare commodity for a bike-riding father of a 15 month old.

Fire away. Corrections and suggestions welcomed, as always.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Let's kick Tuesday off with a comment.


"Norm, I know you are an early riser, but with a 9 am start and an almost 3 hour drive, you would have to leave bright and early. Plus I dont know how much time it takes once you arrive to get ready. Would you pack the car the night before or the morning of? I guess now that I think of it, you could probably handle a 4 am wake up. What about food, do you eat on the way, or before you leave? Just stuff to consider. I agree with you on the movies, Airplane, Spaceballs, Naked guns, all get better every time you see them, you always catch something new. Found Dyslexia For Cure"

You're right, absolutely. I'm glad you guys are here to point out my egregious errors in judgment. While I can pull off a 4:00 am wakeup, driving to the venue the morning of the race just presents problems. First of all who wants to get up at 4:00? Secondly, you won't drink as much water as you should because you're in the car and stopping to pee makes the drive that much longer and more tedious. Third, driving just tires you out which is a bad way to start a big race. Being at the registration earlier makes the process go faster. So yes, going out the night before makes much more sense which is what I'm going to do.

With that I will say I really enjoy planning for big days and events. While the race Saturday doesn't qualify as quite the same caliber as the 24 Hours of Allamuchy, it is an overnight, full day affair that takes more planning than hopping in the car and riding around Chimney Rock for 2 hours. As I have repeated, I look forward to it.

So the plan is to work from home Friday, which has been cleared with my boss. I'll leave around 4:00 and hopefully be out there around 7:00. I would prefer to leave later but I'd rather setup camp in the daylight so I'm not going to push for too late. There's local camping, the details of which I need to work out. I also need to register for the race but I'm going to save that until after I make sure I can camp somewhere easily. I also want to make sure that the forecast isn't for 99 degree heat or a torrential downpour.

I'll need food for driving out, breakfast, and driving home. And coffee. It would probably be a good thing to bring the cooler with plenty of water and food. After the race it will be nice to have some cold food and drinks to drive with. They supply dinner after the race but you never know what you get with that or even what time it starts. It would suck to have to wait 2 hours to get a burger.

I need on-bike calories as well as salt/electrolytes. Not sure if I'm going with just salt or both. The food will be Perpetuem. Also going to need the normal bike checklist stuff plus a printout of the registration. I need to take my list from Granogue and edit it to make it more complete and take out some of the overkill items.

Directions to camp and then to the race. Failing that I don't think there's much else I need. I tend to think in big steps. Basically as such:

* Register to race
* Prep to ride (standard)
* Drive to camp
* Sleep
* Drive to race
* Ride bike for 6 hours
* Drive home
* Eat and drink through all of it

If you can cover those basics, you're good to go. I really don't go crazy with the bells and whistles you get used to at home. Basically you need to get there with your bike and equipment, then from there you can more or less buy what you need on the fly or wing it. The race has 4 aid stations so even if you brought no food you'd be fine. If it's not too hot you could get away with bottles. I may even mount the lower bottle cage and bring a small bottle on the underside of my down tube and see if I can hop between aid stations on nothing more than bottles and use the camelbak as a camelbackup.

So now.

This is where I ask you for help. You come in at this point and tell me what I'm forgetting or fucking up in my plan. I look to you, my trusted readers to guide me in my usual errant ways.

Motionbased was never able to upload yesterday's file. I got impatient and mapped out the course on Bike Route Toaster and it came out to over 3000 vertical feet in 33 miles. My average was 15.5 for the ride. So really, less is more. My advice to me: Ride like that Saturday and everything should work out well. Take the hills as they come, don't plow up them. Slow and steady, nice and easy, everything will work out from there, cha cha cha.

On the bike again today. I had been falling into the habit of not getting myself ready to ride the night before which made getting out the door take longer. Last night I was good for a change. I packed my lunch and got both my bike clothes and work clothes ready. Then I proceeded to hit snooze to wash away any time I saved. When I got out the door, I needed to put my battery on because it's getting darker every week now. And then my backup rear blinker which I never got to last week.

As an aside, for those of you who ride the road at night (or early morning) the rear blinker light is by far the more important of the lights to have, in my opinion. Mine cost 6 dollars at Target. The front light systems are prohibitively expensive. But the rear blinker is a few bucks.

By the time I got rolling it was 5:17 as opposed to the usual 5:19. So baby steps here. I'm still getting mentally adjusted to the fact that it's squarely mid-summer and I'm riding in the dark already. Let's not forget the temperature this morning, a balmy 56 degrees at roll time. Upside? I got to take another rare summer hot shower.

The ride was basically up a huge hill, then down the other side, then back up a different way, then back down and home. I didn't have a lot of juice today so I didn't even average 15 mph. That's fine since this route probably had close to 2000 feet of climbing in 20 miles or whatever. Legs still tired from the weekend so tomorrow I'm just going to cruise control my big swamp loop for 90 minutes.

After the ride was another mad rush to get everything done. Walked in the house at 6:45 which gives me 33 minutes to get back out. Grind coffee in the basement, brew coffee, pack bag, eat watermelon, shave (huge time waster here as I should really do this at night), shower, post-shower, toast bread, get dressed, drink coffee and eat, breathe, fart, write senator, cure leprosy, shave cat, acquire cat to shave, and get out door. I forgot to drink any water but I managed to make my wife coffee and half a bagel while I inhaled my cashew butter and honey on toast and tried to enjoy my coffee.

Tuesday means that Saturday shows up in the 5 day forecast. Harrisburg looks fair for the week, some scattered thunderstorms which is typical for this time of year. Temps in the mid 80s down to mid/upper 60s at night. Really the forecast is exactly the same each of the next 5 days. No heavy rains and no mid-90s so we're good to go.

I feel like a breakfast sandwich. Food tastes too good sometimes. Be good.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Trees and Roses, Smell 'Em

Ever since the week I was sick and didn't ride for 5 straight days things have seem to come together in several different ways, probably mostly in my head but physically as well. There was the cash-in on my forced rest week, which seems to have been a peak about 12-14 days after the rest. Then there's the added bonus of realizing that sometimes less really is more.

English please?

What I'm saying is that I had a great weekend of riding. I met up with Chris down at Hartshorne on Saturday morning and he gave me the tour of both Hartshorne and Huber. It was a really nice ride but what struck me the most was that Chris just absolutely loves to ride his bike, and to ride and talk with other people that ride their bikes a lot. The ride was good but the conversation was even better. Ride link here:

Chris asked me to how Hartshorne compares to Lewis Morris and Chimney Rock, as he's never ridden either and wants to check out both at some point. Technically speaking Chimney Rock is tougher and Lewis Morris is easier. For climbing Lewis Morris is tougher and Chimney Rock is easier though of the 3 parks I would say the fire road climb at Chimney Rock is the toughest of the lot. I generally don't include that in my normal loop though because there's singletrack that runs parallel to it.

Here are ride links from the other 2 parks:

* Standard Chimney Rock loop
* Lewis Morris, 2 race laps from 2006

As you can see Hartshorne has the most climbing of the 3 on a feet/mile basis but I'm going to throw out the caveat that in my experience the more a course has short ups and downs, the less accurate the GPS is with its vertical calculations. Given that, I would guess Lewis Morris actually has a bit more vertical, but the climbs are all pretty much non-technical. You can see from the graphs that Lewis Morris has bigger but less frequent spikes, Hartshorne has a lot of small spikes, and Chimney Rock has less frequent but medium sized spikes.

So what does it all mean? No idea. They're all in the same general class of difficulty with both Chimney Rock and Hartshorne being the more enjoyable of the 3. Lewis Morris is almost like a dirt track park which drains well and is a great winter ride as well as being a good place to just mindlessly pace yourself or try out new tires and the like.

So the good vibes from the Saturday ride spilled over the Sunday:

(no ride link, motionbased is still uploading from last night)

I went out and did my Mendham loop but extended it, got lost, and jumped over the hill instead of returning home on 512. I added the huge hill after Mendham which would be the big ass spike on the graph. Then I went left and left but missed the next left on Ironia. Soon enough I realized I was lost so I zoomed out on the GPS map and turned on the next road which pointed me in the right general direction and found my way soon enough. On the return I usually do the head-down and plow-it-out ride on county road 512. Instead I went up and over the hills, opting for peace and quiet, not to mention awesome scenery and that second big ass spike on the map.

I toned it down a little for this ride and tried to pace better on the hills. I'm going to need to do that Saturday if I hope to finish and not be in a world of hurt. I also opted to ride on the nice roads and this is probably one of the most beautiful loops I have ever put together. I'm going to work on a 40 or 50 mile ride that loops as many of these nice spots together and hopefully do a group ride this fall.

It was a great ride because I stepped back to enjoy it a bit more than usual. There were plenty of hills to keep me honest so it's not like I went out there and tooled around on a light cruise. Good stuff, good weekend. Thanks for the perspective Chris.

This post seems kinda vague so let me summarize. Enjoy yourself out there.

As I was grinding up some of the hills yesterday I was thinking that I really do need to dial it back on my pacing if I want to finish these long rides. My pain tolerance is probably a bit higher than average which makes me often think that I'm not going as hard as I am. But then it's not so high that I can ride through cramps or my muscles just giving up the ghost for the day. I rode at a sensible pace yesterday that will be perfect if I take it with me to the race Saturday. 48 miles sounds like a lot of mountain biking but with only 5000 feet of vertical it's a pretty tame climbing course overall. As long as I pace myself I should have a good ride.

Really looking forward to this weekend. I should have the details all ironed out today. Walter's sensible comment will be discussed tomorrow.

I played a little one-on-one with Michael Jordan last night and he beat me, as usual. After that I picked up with Pippen for a second game. I played ball a few times with Pippen last week and was thinking that maybe Pippen had as much run as Jordan but after last night, no such thing. Jordan is still the king and they can both beat my ass any day.

Rain rain rain rain rain rain. I hope this crap clears out today so I can get out there the next 2 days.

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