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. 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.