Monday, June 2, 2014

Mohican 100

Gonna post a full race report later in the week.  For now, just know… it was hard!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Road Work

I've been riding the road bike A LOT lately.  It's not that I'm taking a turn in my attitude toward mountain biking, but rather that I'm refining my training approach a little bit.

A few years ago, when doing my first dedicated mountain bike racing season, I was super fit.  I rode quite a bit, quite often, and raced decently well.  The one thing holding me back at the time was my technical ability.  Fast forward a few years to present day, and the one thing holding me back is precisely the opposite: FITNESS!

After that first year of mountain bike racing, I dedicated myself whole-heartedly to becoming a better technical rider.  I was dead set on gaining speed through sections of course that had previously slowed me down.  I, like always, went a bit overboard with it and got into more super techy trail riding and some downhill as well.  It was a good thing for my bike handling and overall skill, but now it's time to get back to work on getting in some hours on the road bike.

The road has been two things for me so far.  First and foremost it's been a change of pace.  I get bogged down sometimes in my training (like most people, I'd imagine) and need to mix things up occasionally. For me it's not just riding in a different environment (i.e. the road), but rather riding a different bike altogether.  Equipment means a lot to me and in diversifying what I'm literally on, it has a big impact in my overall attitude towards getting out and getting motivated.  I'm a head-case, I know, but hey, that's me!

So the last couple of weeks have consisted of probably about 90% road riding and about 10% mountain biking.  With our next race coming up in about a week, I'm going to transition back to the dirt a bit more for this final week to fine tune my trail skills.  I'm positive they haven't gone anywhere, but one thing is for sure-when I hit the trails now, I'll be much better for it from a heart and lungs point of view!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Run what ya know!

Just a quick post for tonight, but this thought struck my mind as I've been riding the past few days.  One of the most important parts of success, whether it be endurance sports or whatever, is being confident in the knowledge and experience you have.

Recently, I've been listening to a lot of people around me.  People that have their own plan, their own way, and their own methods of personal success.  I've been in this game long enough to know a thing or two, and shouldn't always be so easy to follow someone else's lead.  I've needed to be more true to what I know and confident in the information I've gained and stick to it.

In other words, what I'm trying to explain is that I've recently tried new things, new equipment, and new methods in training and racing that have been against what I've normally stuck with over the years.  The results have been less than desirable.  I'm encouraged that I was able to try new things, but at the same time disappointed that I didn't have faith in what has worked for me.

The bottom line is this:  Know what works for you and what's comfortable when the going gets rough. Don't stray from your path because someone else has something else that works for them.  Instead, be confident in what you've used, what you've trained with, and what you know to work.  In the end, what works for you will work for you and what works for him will work for him.  Or her...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cruise Control

Not really though.  Since last weekend Anne and I have spent some time trying to focus on recovery but not really getting in enough sleep.  It seems our beloved dog, Lucky, is hell bent on waking us up in the middle of the night scratching around in the kitchen for some unknown reason.  I'm a heavy sleeper so Anne is usually burdened with having to answer Lucky's call, but lately it's been so bad that both of us have had to take turns attending to the pup.  It's like having a kid already!

Anyway, I managed to get out on the road bike this past Thursday for the first time since we've relocated to VA.  In a word: Magnificent.  I started to become less and less a fan of the road bike back when we were on Long Island, first and foremost because of the boredom.  And secondly, it was just damned dangerous with all the crazy drivers there.  Down here though, the roads are beautiful (not only scenic but actually paved well!) and the drivers seem to have a much better attitude toward cyclists.  That's still to say, there are some douchey drivers and sure fire assholes out there, but pound for pound, Virginia drivers seem to be a whole lot more pleasant than Long Island drivers.

The ride took me out to some of the beautiful country roads, dipped down into Charlottesville for a water stop, and back out to our home in Earlysville.  It was around 100k and while I enjoyed most of it, I worked hard for the pleasures.  Having relied on the mountain bike for my fitness and training since arriving down here, I saw the holes in my game when I got back on the road.  Knowing it will make me much stronger in those long races this year, I'll plan on adding 1 or 2 road sessions a week from here on out for sure.  It's the brick and mortar of what will hopefully build a strong house when the next 100 mile race comes up at the end of this month.

That's about it for now.  Both the Pikes are looking for an early night to rest these tired bodies.  Time to make it happen!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cohutta 100 and Stuff

This past weekend the Mrs. and I headed down to Ducktown, TN for the Cohutta 100.  Neither of us had ever been to Tennessee, so in addition to the race, I was pretty interested to see what, exactly, part of the "real" south was all about.  Without going too far into detail, it was pretty chill.  The people were nice, things were a bit slower, and overall, the area itself was absolutely gorgeous.  However, I'm sure when the summer comes around things can get downright awful with the heat and humidity.  Still, for our purposes this past weekend, the warm temps and gentle breezes were more than welcome.

I don't have much in the way of an actual race report, but here's what I can tell you: This race is damned hard-14,000 feet of elevation is no joke!  I have to admit, I really didn't expect much from this course. Both Anne and I had been told that it was pretty much a gravel road race, as friends who'd done it before explained to us in the weeks before the race.  Yes, the course if predominantly gravel vs. single track, but in no way did that make things easier on your legs or the rest of your body.

The start of the race climbs up a paved road for about a mile or so before dropping you into single track for what I believe was about 12-15 miles.  After that, you're out on the gravel for probably about 30-40 miles before you hit the turn around loop, consisting of some more double and single track before you turn back to retrace your route back to the start of the race.  The most difficult part of the race comes immediately after that turn around loop in the form of a steep climb on a gravel road you had just descended.  It's steep and at times loose making it pretty darn difficult to hammer up.  You have to stay consistent (or at least "I" had to stay consistent-better riders might not have had to!) in your pedal stroke or else risk loosing traction on the chunky bits of rock and gravel.

After returning on the long ups and downs of gravel, you finally come to more single track about 7 miles from the finish.  This is primarily downhill, but you're so beat down at this point it might as well be up.  Any bike skills and technical ability to ride a hard tail mountain bike smoothly over rocks and roots was severely diminished by this point.  I pretty much just rammed the bike through every obstacle and limped my way home, finishing in just over 9 hours and coming into 22nd place for the Open Category.

Initially I was pretty bummed out about my result.  Had I been as fit as I was in the past, I believe I would have managed at least 45 minutes to and hour faster on this course.  But, with all the events that have happened in the past months, and not being able to amass more than about 10 hours of training a week at most, I have to say I'm actually impressed with how I did.  My hope is that in about a month's time, I can race the Mohican 100 in a much better place and improve my fitness to the next level.

As for Mrs. Pike, she killed it.  I can't give an accurate and detailed account of her race, but what I do know is that even with the limited training time that we both had, she's getting closer to me in finishing time at these 100 mile events.  The first one we did together, Hampshire 100, she finished about an hour and twenty behind me.  On this on it was just over an hour!  I better start upping my game or else the taunts from friends that my wife is faster than I am will be true!  Anyway, she kicked ass and finished 5th overall for the women, collecting a nice prize package from the race organizers.

My first and final impressions of the race could not have been different.  I'm not a big fan of racing gravel roads on my mountain bike because I'm a snob and to me it's not real mountain biking.  In a race like this though, it damn sure is.  We were in the mountains and we were riding bikes.  That's really all anyone needs to know.  Cohutta was a true test of character for me, and I'm happy to say that though I might not have finished where I wanted, I can sleep at night knowing I really did give it my best shot.

In the days since arriving home Sunday, both Anne and I have been back to work.  Physically, for me, the emphasis has been on recovery and allowing my body to absorb the ass-kicking Cohutta laid down.  Because of our limited training time and the fact that we're still settling in to new jobs and a new home, I need to make the most of every minute of training and resting that I can when I'm not at work or doing some other "real life" stuff.  Therefore, I took both Monday and Tuesday completely off from anything.  I got out for a 30 minute trail run yesterday and will get back on the bike today.

As I mentioned before, the next stop for us will be the Mohican 100 in Ohio at the end of this month.  I don't know a whole lot about the course but that it's hilly and smooth.  It will all depend on work, but after Mohican I'm thinking switching my focus for a bit to the shorter stuff and racing a little bit more true XC stuff in and around Virginia.  There is a ton of racing here and I'm excited to get my teeth into it after some longer efforts.  After that I'll probably return to racing the 100's, with Wilderness 101 at the end of July and Shenendoah 100 at the end of August.  Pretty excited for the things to come!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tons of Changes!!!

Ok, first of all, I'm going to stop making promises to update this blog on a regular basis.  The total truth is that there just isn't enough free time in the schedule currently to do a regular update.  It doesn't' mean that we're forgetting about our 1 or 2 loyal readers, it's just real life.  With that said, I hope that each update is exciting and worth the few minutes anyone who fancies reading it might have spent out of their life!

So the biggest and most important change for the Pike's has been our recent move to Charlottesville, VA.  It is without a doubt everything and more than we thought it would be.  As with any move, the initial weeks can be tough, but things are now seemingly coming around to where they should be.  Our jobs are great, our boss and coworkers have been awesome, and the riding has been equally impressive.

Riding and race-wise, we've secured some great bikes for the year.  Both Anne and myself will be on Raleigh Bicycles for this upcoming race season of 2014.  Our weapon of choice is the Talus 29 Pro, a full carbon hard tail 29er with a badass XTR build.  Ours both come in at around 21lbs stock!  We're super happy and thankful to be on such awesome rides this year!

So all in all things are shaping up to be a pretty good season.  We had two XC races lined up, one in Virginia and the other on Long Island, in the month of March, but unfortunately, because of a family issue and the crazy weather (can you say snow!?) we've had, they both had to be missed.  In one regard it was a good thing as I don't think either Anne's or my fitness is where we want it to be.  BUT… it would have been nice to gain a bit of race experience, and therefore fitness, from the two.  Oh, well…  Up next will be the Cohutta 100 at the end of this month.  This will be our first real test of the year and hopefully in four weeks time our fitness will come 'round.  Here's hoping to get in some long rides in the beautiful Virginia countryside!!!

So that's it for now.  Can't promise when the next update will be, but let's hope it's soon! (and perhaps from my better half!!!)  Later skaters!

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Injuries have a funny way of sneaking up on you when you don't want them to.  I've been running "kinda" steady for the last week or so.  Nothing more than really about 40 minutes at a time.  I've been taking things fairly easy (for me) and have been careful not to do too much too soon.  I've even gone as far as to limit my running to 2 days on, 1 day off.

Everything was going along swimmingly until yesterday.  About 3/4's of a mile into what was only going to be about a 30 minute run, my calf seized up and forced me to hobble back home.  It's not the first time I've dealt with this same injury, and it's equally as frustrating as the first time it happened about a year and a half ago.  At that time I was SUPER irresponsible with my volume, and begged for the injury. This time though, even being decently careful, it snuck up and bit me in the ass.

Oh well, such is the life of an athlete I suppose.  The good news is that I did come back home and get a wicked workout on the rollers.  Nothing fuels a hard, "kick your own ass" indoor bike ride like being angry that you can't do something you wanted to.  For me, running is not the end goal.  It was a cool thing that I was enjoying in order to gain some different fitness and loose some lbs without having to change too much of my human trash can diet.  Now though, I'll really have to batten down the hatches a bit more when it comes to what I shove in my mouth (something I really should have been doing all along!) and get to work on pedaling the bike to nowhere inside the house until the snow and ice subsides.

Another positive note about this injury is that it took place a couple weeks out from our trip to the UK and Spain.  While it doesn't' bother me much when cycling, this will allow it ample time to recover so that it's 100% gone (hopefully) from my cycling when we touch down in Spain.  That's going to be a great opportunity to build something for the coming season, so I absolutely don't want anything to come in it's way.

That's it for now.  Off to conquer the day and hopefully find some kind of inspiration to get on the trainer a bit later.  Nothing says awesome like riding your bike inside...