Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Easy Spinnin'

Riding the mountain bike all the time, on both the roads and trails, makes you stupid strong. You'd almost forget about it if you didn't ride your road bike every once in a while like I did today.

I've been sticking pretty exclusively to putting the miles in on my mountain bike. Just about all my rides lately have included paved road, fire road, and single track. Since the road bike was collecting dust, and I needed an easier day anyway, I decided to take it for a 90 minute recovery ride to keep the legs moving, but ease the intensity a bit. Wow! what a difference skinny tires and a rigid fork make!

Anyway, that was all for today. Again I got caught up with some life stuff, but still managed to enjoy getting in a little bit of extra, 'active', rest. Tomorrow will be a 'play it by ear' day, but nothing too long as I have a lot of riding coming up this weekend with the stage race. I'll have to be careful not to burn any matches on the bike tomorrow, but still have fun nonetheless. It's not gonna be easy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ride 3 hours

Got in a pretty solid, albeit easy paced 3 hours on the bike. Since abandoning my HR monitor and power meter, I've gotten very good at telling how fast I'm going and how much I'm pushing on any given day. I did the Stoopid 50 sans even a bike computer and was very pleased with how things worked out. And for training I'm continuing to do the same. I might cave one day and hook up a speed and cadence device, but I don't think that'll be anytime soon. Just me and my watch for now:).

Very busy the last couple days which is what I like. Not so much on the training front, but rather just life stuff. I've been trying to get a lot done, and it seems like that's working for me. I'm not very good at not being busy, so the more I move, the happier I am.

Back to training, this is the second time in a couple weeks I've been able to get up and train before 6am and it's awesome. I love riding to the sunrise, not to mention getting good work on the bike done before I start my work day. With the summer being as it will be with my clients, I'll have more of an opportunity to do this on a regular basis.

I might wind up taking another rest day tomorrow. This weekend is going to be loaded with riding, and if I'm going to have any chance at the stage race starting Friday, I'd better get my legs some rest. Plenty of good food and recovery tactics on the way!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Lately, if it's not one thing, it's the other. Life, for me, has been one constant challenge after the next over this past month or so. I'm hoping things will calm down and go back to normal, but maybe this is the 'new' normal in my life. About time I guess.

Today is complete rest from the bike, and even though I'm tempted to hop on the two wheeled machine for a quick commute to work, I won't. It's a gorgeous day out there today, and would be perfect for a ride, but right now, I need the rest-mentally as well. I'm hoping today will provide me with a good chance to catch up not only rest, but on life as well.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Weekend

This weekend was really nothing special-emphasis on NOTHING. I've got wooden legs, I'm tired, and I haven't been getting enough sleep. All a recipe for shit training.

I was able to spend about 7 hours on the bike the last two days, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. I haven't clocked a mile in months, and I never use a bike computer anymore. I find that these things, in the state of mind I'm in right now, really get in my way. Through the winter, sure a power meter and heart rate monitor where my "go to" devices, but now I'm just riding hard when it's called for, and riding easy when that's called for. Nothing special, just doing it.

As for my crappy state, I'm sure it stems from a lack of rest. As a matter of fact, I'm SURE that's exactly what it comes from. I've been stressed out, drinking too much caffeine, and sleeping at most 5 broken hours a night. I felt awesome at the beginning of the week, but ended it with a wimpering fart:).

Tomorrow I'll rest and get some good food in the gut. Hopefully this will help me get out of my funk. Good sleep, good food, and a rest day should do the trick!

Friday, June 24, 2011

More Rain

Seems like a lot of rain has been falling on me lately-both literally and figuratively. Life's issues remain in my personal and work life, and the rain isn't making it any easier to get in some saddle time to help cope with things. I usually enjoy rainy days, but I think I've had enough.

I'm terrible with stress. I'm anxious by nature, and if I don't have a good outlet for it, stress rips me apart. I'm good at putting a front on, but it's torture for me on the inside. I guess what I'm trying to say is that without some sort of physical outlet, I'd easily be lost.

Anyway, enough with the serious stuff:). Another rainy day today might mean another forced rest day. I just don't think I have it in me to ride wet AGAIN today. With a bunch of fitness carried over from my training and racing thus far this summer, now isn't the worst time to rest. We'll see. At least the weekend is supposed to be nice!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rider on the Storm

Got back on the hog today after a somewhat forced day of rest yesterday and the pistons were firing high! Rode the mountain bike for a bit over 3 hours today, mostly dirt with plenty of the techy stuff. If I'm to be ready for PA in a couple weeks, I best get my fair share of riding whatever bumpy stuff I can.

Today turned out to be perfect for the fact that it was raining steady for most of the ride. Being that there are plenty of exposed roots on many sections of the trail, the wet conditions made it even tougher to navigate. Great opportunity to work on skills while trying not to slip and break your ass!

The one tough part of the day was the ride home. Driving, downpour type rain slammed me for the entire 20 minutes from trailhead to my door. Without a doubt the heaviest rain I've ever ridden in-the type that you can't even see your hand in front of your face. Gotta say though, I was ginning ear to ear the entire ride. It was like being a kid again! And the best part was I didn't even have to wash my bike when I got home! Just a towel dry and she's done! Now my organic brake pads, on the other hand, will need replacing. Not much surface left on those bad boys, but it was worth the fun in the rain!:)

Friday night race series starts for me tomorrow night! Looking forward to mixing it up a bit. Off now to get some Oscar Blue's Dale's Pale Ale. Anyone ever tried it? Kinda pricey, but I've heard good things about Oscar's. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


With my new motto of "Be relentless", I'm not doing a very good job today. Perhaps, being "lazyness" is more the correct line for today.

Been sulking a bit and it's frustrating as hell. My mind is telling my body (in a very Jens Voigt way) to "shut up and do what I tell you", but the body ain't listening. Sure sign for me that it's a good day for a rest day.

I rode well yesterday with a friend from the local shop, so I'm still happy with where my fitness is. Being lighter with as much power as I had when I was heavier is like doping, just without the "dope" part. It's amazing to see what happens when your watts to weight ratio changes in your favor!

My diet, though a little sloppy this week, has continued to be good. Many more fruits and veggies are working their way into my system, and I'm happy that it has me feeling better and better every day.

Anyway, rest day today, back at it tomorrow with a longish mtb ride and then hopefully a Friday night road crit at the local community college. Looking forward to knocking elbows with some of the roadies.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Time to take a step back

Woke up the last couple days in a absolute fog. I probably could have gotten a couple more hours of sleep, but I NEVER feel this tired in the morning, even with only 6 hours. REALITY CHECK!!!!

I've been digging pretty deep for a while, trained well, worked hard on the bike, battled some illness, and now my body is just telling me to relax for a few days. I jumped right back into training the day after the Stoopid 50 which, in hindsight, was (pardon the pun) pretty stupid. Even though I felt great I should know better. It's not like I have any big races coming up (or "did" have any big races coming up-more on that in a min) until the Wilderness 101 in July, so why not kick back a bit? Because I LOVE riding my bike that's why! I guess sometimes fun gets in the way of making decisions that might be of greater benefit. Could be worse.

So, I rode hard for most of this week and I'm taking a well deserved day or two completely off the bike tomorrow, and perhaps the next day. Better not to burn out right now when the summer has just started!

On another note, I just (like 20 minutes ago "just") got a call inviting me to attend a 6 day stage race in PA early next month. I don't know all the details yet, but from what was explained to me there are a lot of big guns racing there, and it's invitation only. I'm psyched to be included, and realistically am hoping to learn as much as I can about riding and racing on multiple days. It'll be a great learning experience for me, and combined with another race I'm eyeing, will be a great build up to the Wilderness 101. It's all kind of baptism by fire for me, but with the goals I have, time is of the essence and I want to be thrown right into the mix as soon as possible.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Nearly a week post-race I'm still feeing a bit frustrated, but more motivated than ever to get back to working on my technical skills. For dirt and some roots I'm all good, but for genuine East Coast rocks, I need some work. Maybe I should think about racing out west!:)

Anyway, Monday was back on the bike with an impromptu ride with a friend. I was, and still am, suprised with where I was after the race. Absolutely NO post race soreness (with the exception of some bumps and bruises). Again, I'm super psyched with where my fitness was for the race, and am very excited that I seem to have nailed both my rest going into the race, as well as my nutrition during and after. I'm positive that my change to more of a "Paleo" style diet has a lot to do with how good I felt during the race, as well as how quickly I've been able to come back to normal afterwards. Kind of simple really; fruits and veggies give you nutrition-Pizza and junk food doesn't. Simple.

So Monday was a mountain bike ride that started easy while riding with my friend, then turned into a little bit of a hammer fest when he ducked out. I wanted to test the legs a bit and I was amazed with where I was less than 24 hours after racing a very, very, very rocky 50 miles followed immediately by 6+ hours driving home. Looks like I'm going to have some talent for some stage races coming soon!

Tuesday was an easy road ride, though it didn't need to be. I figured I'd better get in some easy spinning on-road so as not to lead myself down the path of accumulated fatigue. Then both Wednesday and yesterday were longer, steady paced rides off-road. I'm seeking out trails and fire roads with things that I don't usually see on the singletrack here. Sand, rocks, loose stuff, mud-whatever it is, I wanna ride it all. I'm determined NEVER to be outclassed on technical stuff like I was last Sunday, EVER, EVER, again.

I'm continuing to stay positive about the race. There were a TON of things that I did right and did well. I had some of the strongest legs (I believe) in the field, finished strong considering how much time I spent hiking my bike through rock gardens, and nailed my nutrition and fitness right on the head. My time loss wasn't due to anything other than the fact that I just didn't have enough time riding the rough stuff. I'm encouraged knowing that I was strong enough and fit enough to hang with the front guys, and it'll only be a matter of time, patience, and practice until I can manage to hang with them on the stuff I don't currently ride.

Today will be more of a rest day before I get back to some work this weekend, both on the road tomorrow, and on the trails Sunday. I had a though of doing a cross country race next weekend, but I think, given the races I'm looking toward for the rest of this summer, it might be a better idea to head to northern New Jersey for a day to get some time in on some rocky trails. The way I see it, I was going to spend the money in gas to get to the race (which is about the same distance), so why not get in some good training without having to spend extra money on an entry fee!

On a side note, is it weird that I'm already getting excited about racing 'cross? I mean it's not even July yet!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stoopid 50 Race Report

One word: Frustrating. Three words: Frustrating as Hell!

This was my second endurance mountain bike race and really only my second stand alone mountain bike race. It was also my first time racing on trails that I was unfamiliar with, as well as more technical than anything I'd ever seen.

To say it was rocky was an understatement. For a trail runner to run these trails, he or she had better be agile as heck. For a mountain biker to ride these trails, he or she better me technicaly savvy. Imagine riding your bike on the moon and you'd get an idea of what this race is about.

The start of the race was a couple miles of road that turned to gravel road. I lined up near the front and was riding with the leaders as we hit the first section of singletrack. Then the fit hit the shan. Immediately, the technical skills I thought I had failed me as guys cruised by me on the rocks. Rock garden after rock garden jammed me up and had me re-thinking my decision to stay with the big guns.

I made it through the first section in one piece (even after a few hike-a-bikes), and didn't loose too much ground on the front group. Back on fire roads I was able to pull back quite a few spots, but soon lost them again as we came to more techy singletrack. This would be the theme of the entire race-loose time on the singletrack, gain time on the doubletrack and roads, repeat.

As the sections became more rocky, I got more frustrated and lost focus. I'm not used to rocks like this and they were tearing me apart. After a couple of crashes and slams, equipment issues, and loosing more time, I just decided to put my head down, pedal, and do the best I could.

About halfway through, there was a nice rain storm that cooled things off, but made my equipment issues a little tougher to deal with. Shifting with a bent derailliur hanger is tough, but when all the rain and mud washes away your chain's lube, it's nearly impossible to get a clean shift.

From about the halfway point to the end of the race, I really started to have fun. I let the realization that I wasn't going to finish where I wanted slip away and just concentrated on enjoying the day, getting better on the rocks, and riding my bike-something that, even on a bad day, is an awesome thing!

In the end, I actually started to get good riding the rocks, and finished in 29th amongst the open men. Crossing the line I still felt amazingly fresh, which in itself was frustrating because it tells me I had the fitness, just not the skill.

I could have easily hated ever second of this race, but that would have been stupid (pardon the pun!). All this tells me is that while I have a solid amount of fitness and can contend with the big boys, I still need to work on being a technically proficient rider. Granted, these were probably some of the most techy trails I'll ever face during a race, it's still important to get to work.

All in all the Stoopid 50 was an awesome experience. I can't say enough about the great organization, the awesome people, and the area. I really can't wait to do this race again, and hopefully get a chance to ride these trails some more. Two thumbs up for sure!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Normal is getting normal

Looks like after yesterday the pieces of my shattered life are starting to glue themselves back together. I'm not one for whining, but I've had the absolute shittiest luck this past month.

"Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it." That's a quote I heard the other day and realize just how true it is. I've been through a rough patch, and I'm happy with the way I've been able to handle it. It's always easy to run away and hide, but if you stick around and face those things which give you trouble it shows how strong you are. I'd like to think I've done more sticking around than running and hiding.

I'm looking forward to heading down to PA this weekend for the Stoopid 50. Not sure what exactly to expect from this race, but it looks to be a pretty tough 50 miler, with plenty of rocks and techy singletrack-which plays to my strengths. Like I've said it'll be a good test. And not only that, but I'll get to catch up with a cousin of mine I rarely get to see. Nothing says family like "Hey man, can I crash on your couch?"

So that's it for now. Just hurrying up and waiting for the weekend.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Turning the corner?

I don't wanna jinx myself, but I think I'm beginning to turn the corner on my month+ of bad luck and general "shit happens" stuff. Today was the first solid "good day" I've had in a while. The sun was shining, I picked up my new car, and got in a good ride on the trails. Work was well (which is HUGE right now), and generally things are looking up.

Now that I've said that, I'm sure I'll have something go wrong tomorrow. Maybe this is all just a test to see how much I can take. Just have to keep positive and keeping moving forward. After all, "it's not how hard you can hit, it's how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Uncle! Uncle!

Seems that my body is calling out "Uncle!" for now. Had some solid training in the past week, with four big days back to back to back to back leading into Sunday. Big workouts, trying to get in any last minute fitness I could get. I'm satisfied with where I am now, though I'm not exactly sure if it's my best. The Stoopid 50 will be a great test of what I'm up against in this endurance mountain bike racing game, and I'm looking forward to seeing where I stand.

For the race, I'm pretty set on Nutrition (Infinit all the way), but I'm toying with the idea of wearing a Camelback filled with only water. I'm really not a huge fan of Camelbacks, but it might be a necessity as the temps are gonna be hot and the humidity high. Also, it's an extra expense I don't wanna account for as my money belt is already tight enough. Decisions, decisions...

Today was a 1:15 ride on the mountain bike, mostly endurance paced with some race efforts thrown in. I've realized that I'm good at steady on the mountain bike. I can ride all day and not slow down, but I'm lacking some high-end speed. I'm not too concerned about that though, but it would be nice to up the pace a bit for the steady output stuff. Gonna have to get back to the drawing board after this coming weekend and hit some good structured workouts again. Just riding the bike has been fun, but I'm starting to identify some weaknesses that could use addressing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

More of the same

The past month has not been real kind to me. Some personal issues, illness, flight delays, and a shitstorm at work have left me wondering whether or not I'm cursed. It's not like I'm a superstitious person, but all the events of the last month have me wondering what the hell is going on.

Today was no exception. After a weekend of very good training (as well as getting hit by a car-or rather, hitting a car), I may have been a little cranky. I pushed it really, really hard this weekend, and maybe I'm a little over tired and a little over emotional, but I just feel like there's no end to my bad luck. The work stuff keeps piling up, as well as just a general feeling of unhappiness-which I'm guessing is due to the fact that I'm not working as much right now as I'd like to.

This all has me reconsidering my life and the choices I've made. Maybe it's time to change things up a bit-work wise I mean. Maybe it's time to settle into a more stable position, and stop chasing the dream of self employment. Or, maybe I should just HTFU, suck, it up, and get on with moving forward. Whatever the case, I gotta make a move or else I'm gonna wind up as crazy as Charlie Sheen in a hotel room...

With that, I'm looking forward to the Stoopid 50 mountain bike race this weekend. It'll be my second endurance mountain bike race (actually it'll be my second mountain bike race ever), and I'm looking forward to the test it'll provide. I have plans on doing the Wilderness 101, which takes place in the same area of Pennsylvania, so this will be a good opportunity to see where I stand on some PA singletrack. From what I hear though, the Stoopid 50 is rather techy and mostly singletrack, while the Wilderness 101 is more fire road and doubletrack with some singletrack sprinkled in.

No matter what it'll be a great distraction from the mess that is my life right now. Nothing says escape like shredding some singletrack.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Just got home from a mtb ride and I've gotta gripe. Actually this goes back to yesterday and a few other incidents as well.

I mostly train alone, a little out of preference, but mostly out of necessity. Most of the guys that I would train with train at different times from me, have families, or other obligations. In a way it's kinda boring, but more often than not I prefer it because it lets me do what needs to be done without distraction.

Well, the last two days in a row, and I'm assuming this is because the weather has be down right gorgeous here, I've had these annoying 'wheel-suckers' come up on me when I'm out riding. Yesterday I was doing a ridiculous amount of hill repeats-the first half of the hill steady, then a sprint for the remainer. The hill's about a half mile long, so they add up after a bit. On about the 19th of 25 repeats, some stupid motherf*cker (yeah, basically that's what he was), decides to go with me on my sprint. Then, when we get to the top of the hill, he says something to the effect of "you're not so fast" (I was too crosseyed to make out exactly what was said, but it was something like that). Needless to say, it pissed me off.

Then today on the mountain bike, after about 5 hours in, I passed a couple guys standing on the trail. I hadn't planned on doing any tempo stuff today, just a steady endurance ride. Anyway, here we go again-one of the guys probably said to his buddy, "let's go catch him" and the next thing I know, the dude is coming up behind me fast. Now maybe I'm too competitive, or maybe I'm not disciplined, but I just couldn't let this duchebag pass me. So, being the meathead I am, I had to tear the legs off him. To his credit, he hung on for a bit, but it was sheer bliss seeing him come undone and drop like a bad habit.

Being tested against others in competition is something I really enjoy, but it annoys me when it comes into my training. I realize that I could be more disciplined and just do my own thing and let them do theirs, but then I guess I wouldn't be competitive.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hello again...

Normally when I take time off from blogging it's because I have nothing important or interesting enough to say. Usually it's at a time when I'm bogged down with training and working, or have better things going on (like when Anne was here last summer).

This time, though, the time between posts has been brought on not by having nothing to say, but having too much to say and not knowing how to say it all. When life is good, blog posts just flow. Easy enough-things that are fun are easy to write about. It's when life throws in some sour times is when it's hard to translate words to paper (or screen as it is).

The past weeks have been very difficult for me on a number of levels. Personal stuff, family stuff, and work stuff has just taken my mojo away for the time being. Interestingly, training has been the one place that I can find some sort of normality.

This is probably the first time in 15 years where I question my confidence on a daily basis. When I was younger, I was overweight and got bullied relentlessly. I never fought back with those who were aggressive toward me, but instead retreated to my own world-sports. At the time, I didn't play school sports like the other kids. Instead, I choose ice hockey, and looking back, there were probably a couple reasons for it. Number 1, I was AWAY from school, and therefore away from the kids that bullied me. They couldn't get to me if I wasn't there. And, number 2, (and I didn't realize this until just now) I probably chose ice hockey because you wore the most equipment, resulting in covering my overweight body and thus my biggest insecurity. Though I hated myself and the way I looked off the ice, I was free ON the ice to be the person I wanted to be. I looked just like everyone else, covered in pads and anonymous behind a helmet and facemask. In addition, I was actually good at it, which made things better. I was fast, I was strong, and I was aggressive. All these things helped to mold me into a better teenager, more confident and able to deal with the bullies that crowded my existence when I was at school. I would endure the school day to find my freedom on the ice. Though I was full of self doubt and self hatred most of the time, a whole different world was availible to me when I'd lace up my skates. Thank God for that.

I say all that to say that recently, for the first time in almost 2 decades, I feel like that fat kid again. It's terribly freightening to find that you don't have the same confidence and self assuredness that you've enjoyed for the last half of your life. It's not with sports, just with life. Sports has always been where I've found my confidence, and it's always bled over to the rest of my life. I'll make it through this rough patch I'm sure, but it will not be without some serious self reflexion and hard work.

So anyway, before this gets anymore depressing, training is going well. I feel stronger than ever on the bike, and I'm looking forward to racing next weekend. I had wanted to race this weekend in the NUE series at the Mohican 100, but because of the previously listed issues with my life, it's just not gonna work. Not to mention the fact that my bike broke-though I just picked up the replacement from Trek today!

So next weekend will be the Stoopid 50 fifty mile mountain bike race. I've done a six hour race before, but this will be my very first all out 50 miler. I'm disappointed that I'm not competing in the Mohican, but there will always be more races. For now, I'm excited to test myself in something completely new. The focus on this will surely help take a step to getting away from my inner 'fat kid'.