Sunday, November 24, 2013

2013: Trying to find the suspension for some rough patches.

So the blog is on life support but I have been racing this year.  Maybe the renewness of bike racing again as an older guy has worn off and I just feel less compelled to capture it all.  I think I used to be motivated to record every race in order to cement what I secretly feared was a freakish period of my life in which I found myself doing something that I had once so hopelessly abandoned.

At some point in the swirl of life and bike racing in the new environment of higher responsibilities I started to take it for granted and accept that racing and enjoying a fit body was back in my life to stay.

 
Looking forward...
 But the universe has a way of snapping you back from that kind of complacency.  The year started off decently enough.  I was pretty happy to come back from extended travel (and time off the bike) and be competitive in my first race of the season (see my last post from... MARCH!).  I followed that race up with another mountain bike race where I started off strong but then faded hard when my back just couldn't keep up with the burden of the race pace.  I was satisfied with a finish in the top of the field, though I would have rather not dropped from 3rd to 5th during the race.

But that was it.  I mixed in some track racing but just found I was barely floating in the Cat. 4's and never really found my pop there.  And the rest of the mountain bike racing season was just a string of good starts followed by my back completely abandoning me and then fading hard and getting passed out of the podium spots in race after race.  Then I put in alot of hours, built up a base, started building some speed and jumped into cyclocross only to have one of the most miserable races I've ever had without my bike failing me.

I'd like to blame a pretty substantial increase in my life responsibilities and distractions starting about a year ago.  I'd like to blame a year in which I traveled for work a total of something like 80 days.  I'd like to accept all that and say I can regroup, come out the gates next year and turn things around.  But that ain't it.

...or looking back.
 The fact of the matter is I'm getting older.  And getting older means getting slower.  Sure I'm working with the doctors and am on a track to fixing my back but, fuck, I really don't want to accept that this is what it's come to.  Can't I just do like I've always done when denial doesn't work?  Ibuprofen?  Icing, heating or stretching?  Rest?  Train harder?  Nope.  The real solution is to stop aging.  And the reality of that keeps me up at night, attacks my morale and threatens to push me off that edge where I deal with depression and anxiety.

But don't worry about me!  I haven't lost the ability to realize how good I have it.  I do, however, need to work a little harder to align my priorities and not get too wrapped up in my own little complications.  The fact is I still have excellent health and, through this rather bleak racing season and worry over my exponentially increasing discomfort and inability to train properly I CAN, as a matter of fact, still get on a bike and enjoy a nice day and good friends.  And that can't be traded away for anything so I'm very thankful.

We all age.  Our bodies are going to fall apart.  Damn that's hard to accept.  I was talking to Kris this morning and I just had to admit that this is it.  This right here right now is as old as I'm willing to get.  Too bad, eh?  I've always enjoyed a healthy body whether it's on the bike or out on the property or under a car.  So now I just have to start learning to slow down?  I'm only 44!!!  I'm not done fighting.  I'll figure it out.  I'll slow down.  I'll learn how to maintain, repair and keep enjoying this stupid body that's wearing out.  I simply don't see any other alternative.

Despite the view, I'm not ready to pack up and leave yet.

Friday, March 8, 2013

TBF MTB Madness: Quite sane, really, but I don't name the races, I just do them) 3/3/13

March is the latest I've gone into the year without pinning numbers on so far in my royracingV2.0 and my last race was back in October (a rather unsatisfying 50 mile mountain bike race) so I was kind of itching to get some competitive juices flowing despite not being up to race fitness.

Not up to race fitness? Why is that, Roy? Well... I started base miles and food-diary-calorie-counting-hell in the end of November and -despite some pretty big demands on my time- by the Grasshopper ride in January was feeling quite fit and on target for my optimal climbing weight. The Grasshopper ride went well despite some back problems and a cranky bike.

Kind of hard to keep the fitness up when it looks like this!
But then work took over and I had to go to Massachusetts for 20 days and my training was very disrupted and my diet went all to shit. With only ten days back on the bike, I wasn't sure what to expect from the legs at this race but I treated the training week normally with little concession to the race and just didn't put much emotional stock in it figuring it would be a good test of the legs and, at the least, a fun day on the bike with the teammates around. I rode the opening section a couple times and really liked the sort of cyclocross-ish feel of it.  I decided that if anything came of this race I was going to put a big effort into the beginning to try and form a better habit.  Lately my starts have been WAAAY too lackadaisical.  So that's what I did.  I passed everyone in the opening two mile (ish?) section except one guy and by the time we were into the first real single track section I was holding 2nd place firmly.  I stayed in 2nd into the paved section before the first single track climb and was feeling pretty good about that.

Then I was passed by one person who pulled away strongly and thought, "well, hold onto third then."  Then the slow traffic started getting heavy and keeping momentum was a little difficult.  I tried to keep track of who passed me and who was in different categories and by the time the dust settled and the body checks of the first lap were settled I thought I only lost two or three places.

The second lap was mostly spent in no man's land but I was passed by someone who looked about my age category toward the end of the lap.  I held him in sight for quite awhile closing the gap on the climbs and open flat sections but then losing him on the twisties and rocks (quite a familiar story for this roadie-wolf in mtb-sheep clothing...).

Every lap I enjoyed the opening section but my lack of fitness was starting to show on the climbs where I was losing my pep.  After the longish single track climb toward the beginning of the third and last lap I barely saw the rider ahead and decided that even if I completely exploded and lost four places, it would be worth it to leave everything out on the course and close that gap and try to beat that guy.  And, amazingly, that's what happened in spectacular (well, if there's a mediocre bike racer version of spectacular this was it...) fashion I surprised myself closing the gap right at the end of the lap, literally coming by him in time to sprint for 5th place.

That was extremely satisfying not because 5th of 18 finishers is any kind of extra-special result but more because I did two mental things really well in this race that are weak points for me.  A)I dug in at the start and established a good position early on despite burning some matches.  B)I again burned matches instead of holding back in order to catch the guy ahead.  It paid off and, besides being a confidence builder, it was a reversal of a couple of bad habits I've developed that are both related to not wanting to overextend myself in races.

fortnergardens.com racing team with two wins, a third, a fifth,
two sevenths and a tenth for the day! w00t!
After the race I enjoyed celebrating the team's two wins and a third for the day despite our not quite getting enough team points to get on the overall podium.  I'm really enjoying my new team and really feeling like things are on track for a good season if I can get the four pounds back off my frame and keep the training up.

Besides being the first race for this team this was also my first chance to ride the new (to me) Trek Superfly 29'er hard tail I bought back in December.  What a huge jump up from my (formerly) beloved Johnny T!  Without being a dork I also have to mention how much I am *honestly*, for reals, enjoying my Mavic Plasma SLR helmet and Fury shoes.  I'm very picky about helmet fit and the Plasma has been awesome from day one.  And the Fury shoes replaced the Giros I bought last year immediately.  They're simply more comfortable and stiffer when standing on the pedals.  I hate replacing high-end gear so soon (always the thrifty one...) but this was a good upgrade.

Next race firmly on the schedule isn't until May but I'm trying to re-motivate for track racing this year so expect to be adding that to my diet in the coming weeks.  But more work travel and a much-needed family mini-vacation come first.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Grasshopper ride: Old Cazadero 2013

Ray and I at the finish.  Still smiling after a hard day.
Ray, Ruben, Tao, Harley and I (I don't think I missed anyone)found ourselves in Occidental yesterday morning with 340 other knuckleheads waiting in the cold to get going on the ride.  About three minutes after the start we came up around a corner and there was carnage all over the road on a bridge that was half covered with ice. 

I never saw Ruben Tao or Harley after the start so have no idea how they faired over that obstacle.  Ray and I tip-toed around the mess (with some hysterical high-pitched person screaming "OH MY GAAWWWD!!!!  IT'S BLACK ICE.  Thaaaat's blaaaack IIIIcE!!!!"  I later confirmed the screaming was indeed, Ray).

We settled into a pace and rode in and out of groups up the climb over Willow Creek Road and down the descent.  On the dirt road at the bottom I was busy filling my mouth with some power chew and catching back up to Ray when I came around a corner to find him on all fours in a patch of ice.  Trooper that he is, he grabbed his bike from me with a, "Let's just get going, I'm okay."  but I could tell it was a pretty hard fall.

We continued on and on back inland and up some pretty cool climbs and even a little bit of single track logging road before actually getting on Old Cazadero Highway up to the feed zone.  At the feedzone my attempt to figure out my nagging derailleur problems turned into a failed attempt to rebuild the cable connection but eventually we continued on down to the Austin Creek.  I plunged right in but Ray took the wiser route of removing his shoes and socks and keeping them dry (my numb right foot at the end of day was like, "See dummy, that guy's feet are nice and happy.  See?")

Anyway we dug back into round two of "Let's waste our time on Roy's derailleur" on the other side of the creek.  It was better after that (and a third readjust in the middle of the following hill) but continued to cause all kinds of misshifts and annoyances that made me want to throw the bike down into the ravines and creekbeds we seemed to be next to all day long.

We finally poked our way back out to the coast and back to the final climb up Willow Creek where I continued to futz with my cable.  And then, out of nowhere, was the finish.  Surprise!  You're done.  There were no numbers so they were just getting peoples' names as they came across.  I forced my cold climb-numbed mouth to mumble something like "Rory Bomstone" or something like that and they excitedly yelled out, "You're a prize winner!" and pointed me to an emptly bin with one small t-shirt and some gift certificates and such in it (I guess you gotta be faster if you want a good pick from the raffle basket).  I was in no mood at that point to sit reading a bunch of gift cards so I just grabbed the size S t-shirt and went and found Ray.

We took the short cut back to Occidental, grabbed a pretty nice meal from the Roach Coach and that was that.  Being familiar with the area and a Sonoma County vacationer for many years I was really happy to FINALLY get a grasshopper ride accomplished.  I'd definitely do another one and, frankly, between Ray's crash and the 30+ minutes wasted messing with my bike, the next experience has a dang good chance of being a better one.

http://www.grasshopperadventureseries.com/




Monday, December 24, 2012

Winter 2012

I hit the road hard in January, stopped running altogether, and logged more hours in the saddle than any month from 2011.  This was partly motivation to build a decent base on a shorter scale than the previous year's 12 weeks but also because I started going off the schedule and enjoying some longer days in the saddle.  I did alot of hill work and, by the last week of the month, was already doing anaerobic work.  All this was supposed to be leading to an early Road Race season assault with a February to April racing period.

Jan 21, 2012:  Early Bird Road Race from Patterson:
 This is one of those races that I almost never evade.  I know the course very well, it's a short drive from home and I happen to like this type of race that breaks up and leaves finishers coming in small groups instead of a big dumb steaming pack.  I actually had a pretty good race.  I put up with some stupid tactics on the way out, held my own and rode conservatively on the climb and then nailed it back to Patterson.  I outsprinted my one partner on the road and finished 5th of 21.  I was pretty happy with this result but a couple things left a bad taste in my mouth.  First was the general roadie douchebaggery from the race itself.  Without getting into too much detail I'll just say grown men who are supposed to be smart can be really childish and stupid sometimes.  And the ones that choose to race/ride road bikes seem to be on a completely different level of selfish stupidity -in general- than the ones you find on mtb, cx or the track.  The second was the reaction from my team which was mostly apathetic and what response existed was others self promoting their own mid-pack performances or even cutting down or poo-pooing mine.  OK I've just exposed that I'm an insecure little girl that needs a little external ego boost now and then (when it is EARNED, dammit) but there it is.


BUT then February came and I got sick.  It didn't seem too bad at first but a vague lung burn and dry cough persisted and my riding hours were cut to half of January's. And as I was getting healthy again I lost my motivation to road race altogether.  Traveling longish distances to get outsprinted or dropped or otherwise spanked by people with shitty attitudes on bikes worth more than my car suddenly lost ALL its appeal.  My re-focus was firmly on a dirtier path for the year.  And none of this was helped by Ray mentioning he was going to do the Whiskey 50 in my old hometown of Prescott, AZ in the end of April...

February 4, 2012 CCCX mtb cx #1 Fort Ord:  I should have skipped this race but the motivation was stronger than the intelligence and I raced with the early symptoms of a flu coming on.  I had a pretty unremarkable race and finished 13th of 24. 

February 19, 2012 TBF mtb Challenge:  I must have had full health back and the rest in the legs was good because this was probably my single strongest race day of the year.  But I had a horrible start.  I knew I had good legs from my warmup and I got a little cocky on the start.  I took a little excursion from the main trail on the start to get around early traffic and hooked a tree with my handlebars within the first two minutes.  I was slow to get going again since I had to get my chain back on and straighten my bars and by the time I was back on track I was dead frickin' last on the trail.  But I had a good mental game that day too and just dug into the race and passed and passed and passed and even passed one last guy in a sprint in the last 50 meters to finish 6th.  That was fun having great legs on a race day but there was a distinct aftertaste of "if only..."

In March I got back on track and started logging some longer days again along with regular speedwork.  I didn't do any racing but I was enjoying some long days on the bike in preparation for my first 50-mile mountain bike race coming up in Arizona.  I did a TON of climbing (for me) during this period and began a streak of five weeks straight of climbing 11 to 13 thousand feet per week!  To put that into perspective for my usual climbing load, I only had TWO other weeks the ENTIRE YEAR where I climbed more than 11,000 feet.  But I was super motivated to do well in Prescott!

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 recap begins... with a 2011 recap?

Dear weblog,
Remember me?

I've thought to capture some 2012 hilights month by month but a little 2011 recap may be a good place to start.  2011 ended with a trip to the cold eastern lands of my old haunts to visit moms and pops at their places.  It was a good trip and a nice break from the bike.  I don't know if it's smell, weather or what but sometimes when you suddenly find yourself in your old stomping grounds the memories (not something I am usually good about retaining) kind of come flooding in around the corners.  Usually that's a good reminder of where you've been and, despite the weather, I really have nothing but fondness for my days living in the Mid-Atlantic.

The end of 2011 was a bit frustrating bike-racer wise.  I really enjoyed some excellent fitness and training seemed to be spot on.  I did notch one good result in a cross race but mid-pack seemed to be the standard result.  I did nail my peak but then was unlucky with the bike on that day and that was a huge bummer.  Luckily I found the high ground with myself and decided that it was really a very good year where I finally got the hang of self-coaching.  I ended 2010 as a guy who rode alot but haphazardly and a year later I was able to fine tune all that riding, be more efficient and be able to make my body do what I wanted it to do when I wanted it.  For the most part.

So that made 2012 an encouraging future of applying my newly learned coaching to myself and building on what I learned in 2011.  In theory...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Origins

So today I went for a rather long and hot bike ride.  As I turned off the pavement onto my dirt road for the final 20 minutes of climbing and sweating and heat my eye caught an old school A&W Root Beer can.  The heat, dust, and my own very strong desire for something cold and wet at that very moment triggered the memory of Summers working on the farm when my cousin and I would drink a flat of cheap grocery store-brand soda a day between us.  Grandma and Orville (her husband who, for all intents and purposes was the closest I had for a Grandfather) would buy flats of 24 of all the flavors they could find and those were the most syrupy sweet oddball things you could think of.  But we didn't care since they were cold and sweet and had just the right mixes of sugar and caffeine to keep us working in the Colorado sun all day doing whatever. 

If we were working around the house servicing vehicles, buildings, fences or animals we'd find any excuse to go "up to the house" and, as unspoken teenage bonds work, we'd come back out with a soda for each other.  We thought we were so clever.  My Uncle, ever the hardass, never gave it much attention (unless he he happened to need us right at the moment we were up in the house slacking off) but sweet old Orville knew.  Every once in awhile he'd just sort of randomly show up at the side of a field and patiently wait while I lumbered across in a tractor towards his truck.  As I'd get nearer, he'd wave an arm up in the air and I knew that meant to stop.  I'd jump down and hustle over and he'd let me know he was just over here checking cows and he had a cold Cherry Pop Pineapple Zingo, "If ya wan' it."  I've always felt that being married to sweet old giant of a man was the best way for my Grandma to live the last years of her life.

And then this triggered the 1984 Olympics.  I was in Colorado that summer and very very clearly remember being "up to the house" and catching my Grandma in the kitchen (probably sewing a huge hole back together in someone's overalls or jeans or working herself into a sweat working out a gigantic grease stain in somebody's junk work clothes or putting enough food together to try to feed a large man and two bottomless-pit teenage boy stomachs...) with the TV on in the background.  At first I lingered since the house was cool and my uncle's eye was afar but then I became very fascinated watching a focus piece about Davis Phinney.  And the thing that just clicked with me was a longish shot of Davis riding his bike through the Colorado Mountains with these huge expanses of views below him and that Colorado sky above.  The romance of it clicked with me and I thought, "Yeah.  That looks like a good day." 

It took six years for me to finally act on that thought.  But I was right.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Catching up for my bestest fan...

So it turns out that I DON'T write anything at all if I don't at the least post race weblahgers.  And here's a dirty little secret.  I don't write for other people.  It's true, like that dude staring at his reflection in the pond and frozen in place, I actually crack myself up and enjoy reading much of my own dribble.  Pathetic, but that means I've made a big gap in time now that I can't come back later and look through and be amused by.  BTW, that previous sentence should go in the stupendously poorly thought out sentence hall of shame.

So...

Laguna Del Sol Cyclocross:  With my cyclocross bike busted I did this one on my mountain bike and that meant a slow ride and a crappy result.  My legs just weren't into it either.  The hilight of the race was being able to jump the barriers without dismounting.  This raised a pleasing crowd response each time.  The best heckle of the year came after one of these barrier hops, "Dude!  You just made the cover of AARP!"  Ah cyclocross.  Sometimes all it takes is bringing your sense of humor and one wise-ass comment to erase the sting of a shitty result.

Early Bird Road Race out of Patterson:  This early season race is a must for me since it's on my local roads.  The pace on the way out to the climb was frustratingly slow since a team that had something like a quarter of the pack decided to block the front and plug along at 15 mph without sending riders off or letting anyone else go either.  That sucked.  But the climb broke it all to heck (as usual).  I survived the climb better than most years, kept my head on the descent and regrouped with one other fellow all the way back to the finish line where he tried to cat and mouse with me.  I said screw this and just sprinted from 400 meters out (which really really hurt, btw) and he didn't have the gas.  Ended up 5th out of 24.  I was really pleased with this result but either this race gets less respect than Rodney Dangerfield or no one cares and the result slipped completely under the radar (and realizing how much that hurt made me feel like Sally Fields in reverse).  Oh well.

CCCX #1 Fort Ord:  Just went out and did this one without really modifying my training week so showed up a bit sluggish.  Had a pretty undramatic race and finished 13th.

TBF MTB Challenge (#2?):  During warmup knew I had spectacular legs for the day and was very excited to unleash them.  But got greedy on the start, hooked my bars into a tree and went down.  By the time I remounted, jumped off and got my chain back on and got going again I was DFL in the field.  Spent the entire race passing passing passing and ended up 6th of 30some riders.  Was dissappointed since the start messed up what would have been a good race but happy to recover that many places.

CCCX #4(?) Toro Park:  I've been working hard on climbing lately but didn't really treat this as a race worth preparing for.  So the legs were up to the multiple climbs but more at a plodding pace.  The first couple of laps the descent didn't go so well and I lost alot of time on the front markers.  Ended up 13th of 20 or so and quite dissatisfied with that result. 

But that's racing.  You can't always have good results or you're sandbagging and not challenging yourself.  And sometimes I wonder if the literally hundreds of ass kickings I've received over 13 seasons of racing in 21 years have just taken my competitive fire away.  Yet there I am training, motivating and entering all over again.  It's a funny hobby.  But I frickin' love it.