Sunday, October 31, 2010

Good last couple days

Last couple days have been good both on the training front and on the work front. Busy busy at work which means running around like a psycho getting stuff done. Not bad though as I'd rather be busy than not. Training-wise, things have also been good. I think I jumped back into training a bit too much intensity, and it bit me. Slowing it down a bit though (read: listening to your coach) has allowed me to feel better. I'm right about where I should be for this time of year. Swimming a bit, cycling a lot:), and running sometimes.

Got in a great ride yesterday with a guy I met at the trail and his son. I had posted the ride I was going to do yesterday (3 hours aerobic and chill) on the local mountain biking website. I only got one response so I didn't know what to expect. Anyway, Greg and his son Ben showed up and we rode together. At first I have to say that I was pretty bummed not to be able to ride at my usual pace, but after a bit, I actually enjoyed the liesurely pace. I was still able to ride hard and loop back on them after doing some of the optional singletrack, so I was able to push hard and then rest whilst riding with them. A little bit more of an interval workout than anything else, but it was still fun and still great to be out in the woods all afternoon:).

Getting ready to hit the road in a few minutes, but just waiting for the sun to come up. It's coooold so I'm gonna have to bundle up a bit, but will have a reward waiting when I get out to breakfast with some friends. Then it's on to watch the Jets game this afternoon and hopefully meet someone who wants to have a look at buying my 29er. I'm on the fence about selling it, but if the price is right... We'll see anyway.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just plain tired and why the WTC is sucking the life out of triathlon...

Kind of a long post title today. I'm in that kinda "cranky" mood anyway so screw it. Didn't sleep much last night so I guess I'm gettin' my 2 year old on right now. Training was tough today (from a 'getting up for it' standpoint) and compounded by the fact that I didn't have a car for the day. My old, but faithful Jeep is in the shop with some heat gauge issues. Not sure exactly what it is, but hopefully it can get sorted. You never realize how out of whack things can get when you don't have the convience of a car until you no longer have it. Sure you can get by without it, but it just takes a bit more planning.

Anyway, training was training today and that is it. Nothing special. No big breakthroughs, just got it in and got it done.

On the otherhand, I'm absolutely shocked by what the WTC is doing with this Ironman Access crap. I mean, really? You're not making enough money already? You need to charge people more money just to charge them more money? After having an insider's view of how pros are treated this year, I'm fed up. It's not bad enough that you have a stranglehold on the people who actually make a LIVING off this sport, pimping them like two dollar hookers, but you have to further squeeze the wallets of the people who already pay thousands on a single race? Sure they'll say that race entries are "only" 600 bucks, but when you factor in the travel, hotels, and hundreds spent on overpriced M-dot wear at the expo, your total starts to easily hover around the 4 digit mark. Furthermore, I'm sure the WTC will say that Ironman Access is only an option and not mandatory. Don't let that fool you. You put a brand new carbon fiber bike in front of any age grouper and tell them it's "just an option" and see what happens. Before you know it, you'll have a few thousand bucks in your pocket and they'll be riding off with a hunk of carbon between their legs. My point is that you're telling a bunch of type A, overachievers that they can have an advantage on the next guy (whether it's racing or getting into a race) and they'll bite straight away. The WTC knows this and they have choosen to exploit it.

In a lot of ways the WTC reminds me of the young kids I used to coach. They pushed the limits, looked at how you reacted, and then pushed some more when they realized they could get away with it. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning. To me, the true spirit of triathlon is being threatened by this behavior. Fortunately, series like Challenge and Rev3 will continue to get a strong following when people realize that Ironman isn't the end-all-be-all of long distance triathlon. I just hope that the smaller, more intimate races aren't swalled up by the machine. I haven't been in this sport for long, but from what I can see, the grassroots races are what it's all about. Keep them and you'll have racers for life. Cut them out, give someone a bad experience at a race that seems bigger then life (and more expensive then it as well), and you'll turn off more people than you can imagine before the starting gun sounds.

All of this is probably trivial as I'm sure numbers rule the game. When one person complains, the guy or gal right behind him is just as willing to lay down the cash and take their place in the machine that is WTC and Ironman. All I can say is that all this debate between WTC and the smaller organizations is like trying to be environmentally concious. All you can do is what you think is right and hope that you're making a difference. If enough people think the same way, the boat will lean that way and the course will be determined. Register for races with your heart and not with dollars in mind. An Ironman is made by distance, not by M-dot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2 hour road bike and new MTB review!!! (finally!)

Today was rainy, humid, and muggy. Not exactly October weather here in the northeasten US, but it is what it is. On the schedule for today was a simple 90 minute ride with 5 x 5 minutes of 350-360 watts. The rest was to be done at around 200 whats with some easier efforts between intervals. Nothing crazy, but easy nonetheless. Of course easy with me is never exactly easy:).

This morning my car had some issues so I wound up riding by bike to work. Nothing big, but just something else to get in the way of things going smoothly. Anyway, after riding home, I set up my Powertap wheel on the bike only to realize it's batteries were dead. Awesome. Finally, I decided to just get out there, rain and all, and just ride. Felt pretty good actually to do a "real" workout without a powermeter. I've been a slave (in a good way) to the thing for the better part of the last 6 months and I definately grew tired of watching numbers and getting frustrated if I couldn't reach what was prescribed. I suppose at that time you should be disciplined enough to realize that the workout is probably over for you, but I'm stubborn so I often would push through and absolutely crush myself. I have a feeling that's why I had a less than optimal season this past summer. Anyway...

So out on the road today things felt good. Mtbing has made me into such a powerful and efficient cyclist it's amazing. I'm faster and stronger on the road than I've ever been, and my bike handling skills are off the charts. I was able to ride today without ever touching the ground with my feet-I know that sounds funny but what I mean is that I never had to unclip at lights. I can hold a track stand for however long, and when the light turns green I'm off. So cool... The workout was strong and I was happy with the efforts. Also I forgot how much fun riding in the rain can be (minus cleaning your bike afterwards). All in all a good day. I was supposed to do a run today as well, but in all honesty just didn't feel like it. I didn't sleep much last night and didn't want to push it. I think, and coach would probably agree with me, that there's really no need to push it at this point in the season. I'm not lacking motivation, I just honestly didn't feel like running. It'll come though I'm sure.

OK, so on to the long aticipated mtb review!!! So, I got a 26 inch bike that will be my primary bike heading into next season. I was really on the fence about going with the 26 inches over the 29er I had been riding, but hopefully the following will explain my decision.

My Old ride: Gary Fisher Xcaliber 29er Hardtail (don't know the year but I think it's a 2008)
I got this bike primarily as a crappy weather winter training/fun bike. It was originally built up as a rigid singlespeed, but this season as I entered my first XTERRA race in August, I decided to invest some cash in it and build it into a geared bike with a Rock Shox REBA SL fork. I got some decent components, stuck with the mechanical brakes, and swapped in a Deore crankset. Also, I went tubeless with the tires, using Stan's Notubes inside Hutchinson Python tires. All together, it's a pretty solid rig. Not the lightest, but just about raceworthy.
The biggest thing I have to say about 29ers is that you can't beat the ride. It may not be the fastest bike in all situations, but when it gets rolling you feel like you could easily suck up any loose rocks, bumpy roots, or sandy stretches with no problem. Simply put, the bike inspires a lot of confidence. It corners decently, but looses a lot in the way of acceleration. Here on Long Island we have a lot of tight and twisty singletrack. Loads of fun, but in many ways hard to close the gap on when riding a 29er with friends riding 26er's. Nonetheless, it's the bike I basically learned to ride on, and I still love it.

My New Ride: 2010 Trek 8000
This bike is amazing in every way. After Anne and I rode in Afan forrest in Wales a couple weeks ago (when I rode a 26 inch bike for the first time), I knew my riding style suited at 26er better than it did a 29er. I've grown very aggressive as my skills have progressed, and I enjoy the nimbleness of a smaller wheel. With the Trek, the steering is so precise I found myself more often than not oversteering, being used to having to overcompensate with the 29er. Also, being able to have a lower center of gravity allows you to take corners at much higher speeds than the 29er. Controlled drifting in tight turns is much more predictable than on a 29er. I can literally predict just how much I'm going to slide both wheels before I loose traction-something I don't think I could do as easily on the 29er. Acceleration is instant as well. Simply put, you pedal, you go. There's no waiting for the bike to "get up to speed". Granted, to keep momentum you need to keep pedaling, but that's something you have to do anyway. Climbing is much much better. I now they say that 29er's climb well, but in my experience, I've found the Trek to climb like a billygoat. The short but ridiculously steep climbs that we have here are no problem for the 26 inch wheels where I had to struggle at times with the 29er. On that same hand, decending can be a bit trickier when faced with the loose stuff and larger obstacles (roots and such), but as your skills progress that becomes less of an issue. And finally, having less bike underneath you makes tight switchbacks and jumping obstacles as easy as riding a BMX bike. Ok, well maybe not quite that easy, but you get the picture.
The components on the Trek 8000 are equally impressive. You've got a Shimano XT groupset-light and responsive, and Avid Hydraulic Brakes as well as a Rock Shox Reba Fork. All in all a super fast race bike that is durable enough to train on, and light enough to race on:). Basically everything I could ask for! Speaking of the brakes, I'd have to say that aside from the wheel size and overall handling of the bike, these are the biggest difference I've noticed. I have mechanical brakes on my 29er that seem to take all day to stop. I've gotten used to it and adjusted, but in riding the new bike, I see what all the fuss is about. Hydraulic brakes are rediculously responsive and powerful, alowing you so much more freedom to brake aggersively or lightly with just the use of your index finger. Crazy!

So, with all that, I have to say that I'm a much bigger fan of the 26 inch wheel than I am of the 29. Maybe it's the fact that I haven't ridden one of the "top" 29ers, or that I ride mostly tight and windy singletrack, but the traditional wheel just seems to be the right choice for racing. With that said though (and maybe I'm backing myself up a bit in saying this ), I have no doubt that there are situations where the 29er has it's advantages over the 26er, as well as those where the 26er is supreme over the 29er. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't believe there is one "end all, be all bike". Terrain, riding style, course, and enjoyment are what really must be considered when choosing which to ride. I'm happy that I'm lucky enough to have both, and I'll certainly ride the hell out of them-just probably the 26er much more:)
*Blogger's note: A couple of days ago Conrad Stoltz KILLED Maui on a Specialized 29er! Maybe they're not all that bad after all:)
*Oh, and sorry I didn't post pics with this post, my camera sucks and I'm too broke to buy a new one right now.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2 hour road ride

I'm loving this time of year. The fall colours are beautiful, and the air is crisp and comfortable. I've been spending more time in the trails than on the roads lately, but today I got out the old road bike and put in some easy miles. I had intended on doing a club ride today, but because of some legistical stuff, it didn't quite work out. Heading out on my own for a little was all I needed though.
I'm really happy with the efficiency mtbing has given me. Not only am I pretty fast on the dirt now, but climbing on the road bike has taken on an entirely new ease. I had always thought of myself as a relatively strong cyclist, but it's a whole different ball game now. Riding so many different kinds of bike lately has really given me the skills that I imagine "true" cyclists to possess. I'm not saying that triathletes don't have riding skills, but its not all that hard to ride alone at a set pace when no one is around you and no rocks or roots are getting in your way:). "Hard" is a relative term of course as it is certainly a hard thing to put down a blazing bike split over any distance triathlon. All I'm saying is that I've gained a wealth of knowledge and skill by spicing things up.
On the schedule after the ride today was a run, but coach and I have decided to forgo that. Each time I run lately I seem to pick up some new niggle and I'm getting unbelievably frustrated. On the last run my achillies and arch (on the same side) gave me pain. It's almost like I'm made of glass! Guess I'm just getting old:).
For the rest of today I plan on doing a little yardwork, eating:), and watching the XTERRA World Championships on the web this afternoon. My Jets are off this weekend and the Giants don't play until tomorrow. Not like I'm a Giants fan but at least it's a New York team to watch!
Also, I'll have the review of my new bike vs. my old bike up relatively soon. I've had some delays in trying to figure out how to upload photos with my new camera/cell phone. Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

MTB: 50 miles

Ok, so it was more like 48.5. It still kicked my ass. Rode for about 3 hours and had a blast doing it. Have to admit that the time flew by much faster than it does on the road. Also, I was happy that I was still able to go fast and still stay upright in the very technical sections of the trail even after I got tired. I'm getting more effecient as a mountain biker and it shows. No spills today.
I'm still amazed at the difference in bikes. My 29er was very "flowy", but not real quick out of the corners. While it took me a little bit to get used to it, the 26er is much must faster and manuverable. The shorter wheel base allows for tighter turns and getting through switchbacks like you stole something. The biggest difference I notice between how to actually ride each bike is that it's very easy to oversteer when going from the big wheels to the smaller ones. Just evidence that every move on a 29er needs to be exaggerated. In the end I'm still happier to be riding a 26, so much so that I'm putting my 29er up for sale. Nothing personal, just business:).
The review is still coming so sit tight. I'm just a bit smashed from riding hard today. Tomorrow is a road ride that should have my legs feeling better by the end.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Just a quick update:

Training started again for me today with a bit of...well one of those sneaky, weak farts. The kind that just sort of squeak out. Excuse the vulgarity, but that's just how I feel. Had a swim and run on tap for today, but got to the pool to find it closed, then hurt my achillies and arch on the run. Not exactly I wanted to start my assault on the 2011 season:).

I got to sneak in a little mtbing as well, so that made me feel better. I invested in a new bike which I will review in detail very soon. Basically I did the opposite of what everyone in mountain biking is doing-I went from a 29er to a 26er. Why you ask? Because I like to party:). In actuallity, I rode a 26er in Wales and loved it. The 29er I was riding was slow and felt like handling a Mack truck while the 26er's feel much more nimble and responsive. I'm not going to get into it now (gotta save something for the review!), but I've very happy with the change and super excited with my purchase. As I said, I'll have a SUPER detailed review with pics and all soon so stay tuned! Happily though, I have a great bike to race XTERRA with this upcoming season!

Heading to bed a bit early tonight so that tomorrow's training might take better shape:). Stay tuned for the 26er vs. 29er review in the next day or so...Pics as well! Promise!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back Home

Safe to say this is the most dissapointed I've ever been to be home. I had the time of my life in England with the most beautiful girl I've ever laid eyes on:). I could write all the details of the trip at length, but in the interest of not boring any readers, I'll stick to the basics.

Getting off the plane was like being shot out of a rocket for the week. Straight from Heathrow we drove out to see Anne's uncle race is mini. Unbelieveable how cool it is to see a little car like a Mini fly around the track surrounded by bigger Mustangs and BMW's. From what I heard, his Mini goes 70mph in first gear! Amazing!!!

From the track it was home to get changed and then off to Anne's sister-in-law Natalie's 40 birthday celebration. Again, great time! It was formal (I actually had to wear a tux and was able to tie a REAL bowtie!) so added a fun little aspect to the mix. We had a great time, some of which is a bit fuzzy from all the pints I had:), and stayed out quite late.

The next couple days were spent catching up with Anne's family and just enjoying the beautiful English countryside. It's amazing just how beautifully green it is there. I tease Anne about the crappy English weather, but it's obvious that it does its job. I absolutely loved the long walks we'd take with the dogs. Amazing.

Now the crazy fun starts!!! Anne had set up some time for us to ride at a velodrome in Newport, Wales. I'd never been on one so to say I was intimidated was an understatement. Couldn't let her know that though:). We did a two hour, coached session that was some of the most fun I've ever had on two wheels. It's pretty easy to get the knack of it, and once you have the confiidence you can really fly. I really enjoyed a little "scratch" race we did and could easily see myself joining up and racing if the opportunity was there.

The following day, we went to Afan forrest to ride mtb's. Again, having never ridden on an actual "Mountain", I was a little nervous, but still confident. I had the absolute time of my life!!! Anne's friend Ian, who owns a bike shop in Cardiff, Wales and had ridden on the national team for the Commenwealth games (so obviously the dude knows his stuff!), had described the trails as some of the best mountainbiking he's ever done, if not THE best! I think he's spot on! The singletrack was amazing and the views were breathtaking. There's nothing like climbing up one side of the mountain and then smiling your ass off while screaming down the other side on sweet flowing singletrack. I had a couple of "pee in your pants" moments on the way down, but that's just how I ride and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

From a couple nights in Wales it was on to London to another family party. It's safe to say that London is my favorite city in the world. The history, the people, the architecture-you name it, I absolutely love everything about the city. After living in New York I insisted that I never wanted to live in a big city again, but in all honesty, I could definitely make my way in London. The party was fun (Anne's brother's partner's 30th), the company was great, and spending time with my Anne in an awesome city was like bliss!:)

So that's the trip in a nutshell. It's been back to work for the last few days and getting rid of the jetlag. Training starts up again soon so I'll just enjoy this time and work my ass off so that I can get back to England asap. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Headin' across the pond...

Headin' over to England to spend some time with Anne today. As I write this I literally NEED to be packing, but, being my procrastinating self, I like to leave things until the very last minute. What fun would life be if you didn't provide yourself with the last minute stress of neededing to do a thousand and one things in enough time to only do one hundred?:)

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to the trip and of course spending the time with my Anne, but I'm a little nervous to fly. Never been nervous before, but with all the terror threats going on right now, I'm a little edgy. However, A) If I DON'T fly, terror wins, and B) If you don't do something that scares you every once in a while (or every day in my case), how do you know you're really alive?

So that's it for about the next week and a half. We'll be having a blast and I'm sure getting in some riding and swimming while we're at it. Fun times ahead!!!!:) :) :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Keepin' Busy

Things just keep on moving along. Not much else since Anne's left for me other than working and riding my bike. A little running mixed in there for fun, but nothing over 45 minutes. I'm amazed at how easy it is to crush yourself when not under the guidence of a coach.

Since dropping out of the Ohio Rev 3 iron distance race, my season has effectively been over. Instead of trying to find another race to jump in to (if there was another XTERRA availible it would have been hard not to!), I decided instead to call it a season and spend more time with my girlfriend and enjoy life as a "normal" person rather than an overly obsessed triathlete:). Not that there's anything wrong with being an overly obsessed triathlete (I fully intend to return to my manic-triathlete-esque state), but I needed a bit of a break after working hard for the better part of the year. Call it burnout or whatever you want, the time had come for me to change focus for at least a little bit until I could get my head around spending a ton of time on my bike again. Not to mention, who the hell wants to ride a bike all the time when you could be spending time with a beautiful girl your crazy in love with...kind of a no brainer!

So anyway, since Anne's been gone, I've been riding and riding, and riding. While it's nice not to have an aim to the workout, it can also crush you too. I find that I ride VERY hard when I have no specific focus to my workout. I like to go fast and I like to ride at the edge of my abilities (on the mtb). Pushing the envelope like that can really be bad news, both in the form of crashing (which I've done plenty of-still having trouble moving my shoulder in certain ways:) though it hasn't effected my swim stroke!) as well as beating you down from over training. After riding hard on the mtb the last 3 days, my skills are super sharp but my legs are wasted. I'm having that "going up the stairs" tiredness going on. It's not the worst thing, I think, at this time to be feeling this way. While I'm sure it would take me out for next season if I kept training this way, I will be taking a break when I head to England this Friday, and I will be getting structure back in working with my coach, David when I return to the states as well. Besides, if I'm going to compete at XTERRA like I want to next year, I've gotta sharpen up my skills on the bike. Riding hard and pushing it like I am seems to have boosted my technique quite a bit. I'm amazed at the leve I can ride at this point and I know it's only going to continue to get better. I'll take the blood and crashes I've experienced so far, it's the only way to progress:).

The rest of this week before I leave Friday will be dedicated to crushing myself further. It might be dumb, but when I get on the plane on Friday evening I want to be completely exhausted. It'll be a good feeling heading into a bit of a break from training a lot to feel like I really need it. Maybe I'm hard-headed (maybe actually meaning "I am"), but I like the feeling I get from training out of my realm. I should rest, and I should relax, but I'm gonna have some fun no mattter what:).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Summer's over:(

Been a lot going on lately, but not much that I've felt was "blog-worthy". This summer was fantastic. Having Anne here was truly the best thing ever. Now that she's gone I realize how spoiled I was to have her all to myself all summer long! Boy do I miss her like crazy! And it's only been a few days since she's gone back to the UK!

So I've been doing a lot of mellow riding in the weeks since my last race. Mostly on the mtb, but I've started to incorporate some road riding as well. I'm shocked at how much my road riding has improved since I've gotten serious about mountain biking. My pedaling efficiency is off the charts. I find myself easily spinning up the short and steep hills around here. My mtb skills have also improved in leaps and bounds as well. I'm faster than I was just last month and my technical skills are getting better almost by the minute. I guess that's what I enjoy so much about it-there's so much skill involved. Not to say that road riding doesn't require skill, but the trails just throw so much at you. Rocks, roots, sand, mud, drops-you name it! And the best part is that they're constantly changing with the weather, the season, and with riding. Some days I'll notice that the rocks on a decent have moved from where they were the day before; a sandy patch is now tacky because of rain; and a short steep climb is now made even more difficult because it's all washed out from a storm. All of that added to the fact that I'm getting more and more capable of riding the rough stuff is why I'm addicted.

It's been great to train by feel for a bit lately, but I'm sure I'll be looking forward to more structured training coming later this winter. With the focus on XTERRA, I'm sure my coach will have me doing much more mtb specific work which will be loads of fun. I think the ironman training just took a little bit out of me. I've never been one for mind numbing stuff, and I just found that type of training to be dull. I'm not saying I won't go back to it, but for the time being it's just not for me. With that said, this coming season, as I've mentioned before will consist mainly of XTERRA races, a couple 70.3's thrown in for fun, and possibly some xc mtb races. I'm really keen to race my mtb and there are some good races in the area that might give me some good experience on the bike.

That's about all for now. I'm off to the UK in a week's time to see my Anne and I CAN'T WAIT!!! Until then it's just some more mellow rides, working as much as I can, and spending time with my doggie:). Good times ahead!!!