Monday, August 27, 2007

Ah, what all the training is for....

Races! Sure, sure, I know some people ride for the sure joy and exhilaration. But alas, isn't there something missing unless once and awhile you get out there mix it up and just flat out racing as hard as you can. If you don't, try it sometime, if you don't do it enough, do it more.
Why the props on racing? Well, just coming off a weekend of doubling up -- something I suggest a person do with great trepidation..... unless of course your name is Charlie Farrow, that guy can do anything he sets his mind too. Even if he can't his smile is so infectious you could call the CDC in Atlanta because the man just makes you believe it might just happen. If you've never gotten to meet Charlie do yourself a favor, track him down at a race sometime -- it's a must do experience. In the meantime "get to know him" at -- you'll love his stories.
This month of August was supposed to be a big month of racing, that was almost cut short. A pretty severe hamstring injury occurred in a late season game of league softball that had me in crutches for a few days. I've heard stories of injuries where muscles, ligaments or tendons where people report hearing a "pop". Let me just confirm for you it does .... and it ain't pretty. Doc said I wouldn't be racing for 6 weeks, but when it started to turn around (with TLC, rest, eating right, massage, etc) I was able to race again in 2 weeks. If you saw me the first few days you'd definitely not have imagined the turn around could happened as quick as it did. But that's the amazing healing power of the body, give it optimal conditions and the power of positive thinking & Viola'. Rule #1 in the Swanson handbook of beliefs -- never make impossibility, a possibility. You might be right, you might be wrong, but from what standpoint does one stand the greatest chance of success? (I guess after saying that it wouldn't surprise anyone that my daughters name is "Hope" would it?)
So onto Racing.... I had to pass on the Ore to Shore, but got back to business the next weekend with a rough and tumble weekend of battling mud at WORS Suburu Cup and the very technical challenging terrain of the Duluth Power Monkey ( To bad I started this blog after the fact because there's a good story in the WORS Cup race, (maybe something Michelle Flanagan-Haag can relate too. :) ) But nonetheless another weekend came with more racing to be had. This time it was wonderfully close by in little the hamlet of Seeley the Lion's sponsored Pre-Fat Race. Wasn't feeling like a million bucks going into the day but then again I try never to judge on how a race is going to unfold because of it. It was an optimal day for racing however, weather was great, lots of very good racers on hand, it was going to be interesting to see how things played out. Jeff Hall, Jesrin Gaier, Scott Chapin, the SKJ's(Scotty & Sara), McFadden(s), Sam Offedahl, the above mentioned Charlie, more ski hut guys -- Mike Bushey, even coming out of retirement Dr. Bob "I knew he couldn't stay in retirement" McVean. Not to mention my other Bay Area representer Paul Belknap (more on him later). You can't begin to name 'em all. The Citizen and Sport races kicked off first it was good to see & know of alot of familiar faces of riders that gave those races a go. At 10:15 or the 27 mile Expert Race kicked off. I won't go into alot of the play out of the race but it could be said once things hit the woods and anything resembling a hill, the leadout would hit the gas... hard. For me, the realization of the difficult day I might be in for occurred less than 20 minutes in. Up until then holding with the lead group of 15 or 20 hadn't been too bad but that was all about to change. Whatever happened at that point gave me the impression that someone from behind hitched onto me their lucky piano and what was a promising start gave way to another 100 minutes of struggle. In light of the recent purchase of a hardtail Salsa 29er and my experience with it's "bomb-proof" handling in single track -- that was the weapon of war on the day but even that couldn't save my sorry butt. I kept on losing a painfully slow game of attrition, as 1 & 2 riders at time would bridge to me then leave me behind. Dropping me from 15th to near 30th. The sweet part of the story is the last few miles when Paul "the sun rises & sets in a 29" wheel" Belknap or is it Paul "the sun rises & sets in a single speed 29" wheel" Belknap catches up to me. It wasn't a surprise to me, but perhaps to him as he pulled up behind me and laid out a comically "29er" comment. It was good to see a friendly face but nothing short of Life Flight helicopter was going to get me to the finish line quick enough to be done with this race for how bad I was feeling. I tried to slightly pick things up and not slow Paul but eventually after the peak of a steep sandy section I gave way to Paul and just tried to stay relatively close. Thinking if I did.... this bad dream will all be over soon. We may have exchanged leads once or twice but with just over a mile to go I wasn't able to pass him on the steep downhill due to a sharp corner at the bottom so I rallied behind him to until the last punch of a climb. Only thing was -- my left quad cramped up severely near the crest ..... just as Paul nearly wiped out a spruce tree. He fortunately made it through and crested it quicker than I, and with a quick gap of 20 or more yards on some fast downhills and I was just about certain he'd slip away to the finish. I tried so hard to catch without wiping out that almost didn't make the last corner that pops out on the straight away rail road grade finish. My wife, Kate (and the kids --the aforementioned 11 month old Hope, and her 3yr brother Marshall) was near the pop out point and cheered us both on after the initially shocked look on her face at seeing two of Ashland's riders so close. Fortunately, that's when I looked ahead to Paul's bike & some simple math came to my mind..... 27 gear possibilities vs. 1 (hence I'll never probably fully understand single speeders for that reason alone). Spinning faster than a pinwheel in gale force winds wasn't quite enough for Paul to keep the gap as I was able to bridge up to him and pull past into the finish. Though he really deserves a big kudos for the race he did -- that boy can always seem to show up for a good ride. We finished 30th & 31st on the day that included 90+ racers. Not the top 15 I was hoping for but there's always a race ..... the next day! I'll wrap that one up in the next posting.
After the Seeley race it was great to just hang out and visit with alot of the racers even the ones I'd never gotten to talk with much previously like Sam Offedahl and Jeff Hall. You find out there not just top notch racers but also for all their talent they're great humble guys.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

One pedal stoke at a time....

The same can be said of starting a blog. You read everyone else's for years, contemplate time and again doing one yourself, then someday when you really could stand to be out training you finally figure out how to start it.
Hope to offer some amusing insight, anecdotes and stories. There are some great blogs out there that you always look forward to checking in on to hear the latest tale or are almost bummed about when you don't see an update for awhile. I'll do my best to keep it interesting, no promises. But if what I've got to say amuses you and keeps up your motivation & excitment for biking and racing come back, visit and drop me a line if the mood strikes you

...til the next pedal drops