February 28, 2013

The Rut

Man, I am in the rut of my life. Not the buck deer sexing up everything kind of rut either, the bad kind. I've had low motivation before, but this is almost unprecedented. I think it is time to claw my way out.

Tomorrow we flip the calendar to March. Usually, by March, I have obtained some semblance of fitness because the Moab Half Marathon is only a couple of weeks from now. But I am skipping it this year. See, Wifey had some knee issues last spring and not having run much at race registration time we didn't want to make the arrangements and then have her pain resurface. So we held off this spring, which means I held off on my winter training. And it shows.

Without the race as motivation, a few months ago I decided I was going to kick myself into training gear by growing a beard. I told myself that I would shave it off as soon as I was working out consistently again. I thought that the itch alone would force me to get my shit together.

It didn't work.

Now I have a full beard with grey streaks that not only reminds me of my failure to launch a successful fitness program but reminds my that I am getting old. Because me receding hairline wasn't effective enough at doing just that. To top it off I get a lot of compliments on the beard that serve to reinforce my sloth.

The beard didn't work either. And Smarty Pants wants me to shave it off.

LOTOJA succeeded in motivating me to a degree last year, but I should have done more. It seems like I can register for an event and just do the minimum training and feel good about the race. There really isn't any fear anymore. It's like I've half-assed my way through competing for so long and done okay, I can't scrape together the motivation to consistently work for success. Take triathlon for example, I'm not even really scared of swimming anymore, I can't even train for that like I should.

So I need a motivator. A new one. A GOOD one. I don't know if that is a new event or what. I've tried coming at this from a few different angles but nothing gets me going. Maybe I need a reward. I don't know, things to think about.

February 19, 2013

LOTOJA Part IV - Last One, You Guys!

Did I mention how bad my ass hurt all summer? If I haven't, I should have. Because my ass hurt all summer. Installing a new saddle the day before LOTOJA actually saved me some grief compared to using my old saddle, one - last - time. Still, by the time I rolled across the Snake River with 80 to go, I was getting rather uncomfortable in the saddle.

It only took a couple of miles until we reeled in the girl that nearly killed me in Thayne. She proceeded to inflict more pain and injury upon me, as did the relay riders who I began to despise. Not all of the relay riders were deserving of my loathing, we still passed a bunch of them because, after more than 100 miles, we were still flying along. Not without some difficulty on my part. Again with the strength. Lower percentage grades had me hanging on for dear life when our girl-friend hit the front or we got into a group that wanted to impress until they blew spectacularly. I popped off more than once, with Mike or Jared coming back for me and hollering to the group to sit up. We lost our girl-friend before we reached Hoback, but as I write this I can't recall if she finally dropped off the back or rode away. Either way, she is one tough girlie.

Not far after the Hoback feed zone, we rolled across a bridge that stood high above the Snake River. As a flew down a short hill and onto the surface of the bridge, I had to dodge a couple of major potholes and I looked at the edge of the bridge and thought to myself how low the guard rail was. I had no idea that earlier that day a fellow rider had gone over the guard rail and fell some 80 feet to his death in the sumer-shallow river. He was far enough ahead of us that we had no idea it had happened. This was the first death in LOTOJA.

After Hoback the ride got interesting once again. The final 25 miles to Teton Village would be on bike paths, highways and suburban streets, and would test my resolve to resist beating someone to a pulp. Someone like Mr. Eccentric or Mrs. F#@king Aerobar, both of whom I'll get to a little later.

At this point in the day fatigue is a major factor with everyone. I was tired. Lord knows, and you all know as well, that my ass hurt. Because people are tired, they group together. But it's when you get tired that you screw up, and if you screw up when your are in a pack of cyclists the results affect a lot of other people. So people get nervous. It made for a stressful final hour.

The first issue came when we rolled in with a big group that was being led by a "team" sponsored by some bank in American Fork or St. George or somewhere. They were rolling along at 18-20 mph, controlling things like they had some sprinter that was going to put it on the line for 763rd place. Well, I got tired of that and the three of us just rolled around them. Didn't attack, just went around them. Didn't bring anyone along, nothing. Not 10 minutes later the bank team, now with their head on their handlebars caught and blew past us, bringing much of that tired group with them. Then they slowed and the group came together again. Then they took off again. And I let them go. Them we caught some of them again and back to an 18 mph speed I had enough. I took off again and pulled Jared with me, unfortunately I lost Mike and had no idea. He didn't know we had gone. I pulled us into a group that was going pretty good. Then I noticed a woman riding along with aerobars, a no no in pack riding because your hands are not near your brake levers and the position makes bike handling more difficult. We didn't stay there for long either.

Then came the bike path, where the large group O was now with was funneled into a small route with some nasty 90° switchbacks. It was around one of these that nearly took me down as a rider came to a near stop in front of me. Finally off the path the group formed back up for the final 10-ish miles. It was also where I met Mr. Eccentric. Probably in his 60s and about my size. The visor on his helmet tipped me off. This dude had a $9000 bike. $400 Sidi shoes. The grossest Camelback I have ever seen. And shorts that were white because the elastic in the lycra was breaking from rot. They were nearly see through and I was happy the sun was dipping behind the mountains so I couldn't tell just how see through. I had ample time to scrutinize because he was fighting me for Jared's wheel. Pick another wheel! That and he would stand to stretch about every 60 seconds. Which means he would slow and create an accordion effect for those behind him. People are weird.

Now I don't recall what happened to that group. I think it just started dissolving as we got closer to the finish line. People took off and fell back. I think we took off but we came across the line pretty much alone. Man, was I glad to be done. Vaughn found us and handed us a beer. One each, not one to share. But butt hurt and I was tired, but shockingly not worn out. Months of long Sunday rides had me conditioned well for the distance, if not for the intensity. Dave finished 3rd in his class, smoking us by a good margin. Final time for Team Paincake/Bohemian Brewery was 11:16.

So now, months later, I feel like I got my revenge for a shitty time in 04 and dropping out in Preston in 05. I was hoping to go under 11 hours, but I am not gnashing at the bit to get back on the horse and go for it this year. I think I may have had enough LOTOJA. I would ride on a team if I could ride from Preston to Montpelier (over Strawberry), or Montpelier to Afton (over Salt River), or the Snake River Gorge section. Or I would even do a duo ride. But the next hellish event I do like this will, hopefully, be an Iron distance triathlon. Think of how many parts I would have to break that race report into...

February 18, 2013


Where did I leave off... Yes, the race and those that bug me.

The second leg would turn out to be my favorite. Strawberry Pass is a beautiful ride. Great road. Perfect temperature. And I really enjoy a nice, sustained climb. Really I do. The descent was a little tricky when I got a strange speed wobble when I touched 40 mph. Not sure why, but I think there might have been a slight crosswind. But I was much more fortunate than one guy who crashed hard when, as I understand, he was cut off by another rider. This man was being loaded into an ambulance when I went by. He survived the crash but died a few weeks later when he fell during a rehab session and hit his head.

While walking past the ambulance, I ran into Mike Clark again. He joined us for the descent, which I couldn't match the guys due to my speed wobble. He and Jared waited for me, an occurrence that would be repeated several more times. During the run in to Montpelier, Jared and I got a little wild and took off on our own. The exuberance didn't buy us much, but didn't do any long term damage.

Montpelier was a long rest stop. It was also the 80 mile mark. The next section to Afton is a test. The second half at least. Leaving Montpelier we almost immediately begin the climb to Salt River Pass via Geneva Summit. Now that sounds tough, and it was. But it was a complete 180 from the last trip I took through these parts. The last time, I can't even remember Geneva Summit. But I really remember Salt River. This time, the lower grade of Geneva kicked my ass. I didn't have the power to muscle up it without really working. However, the steeper grade of Salt River, and my lower gearing, really made that a pleasant climb. After a short feed, we headed down the other side toward Afton. The speed wobbles kicked in again and I shat myself a little. As pretty as riding through Star Valley is, it is a perilous trip. This section of road has the nastiest road vibrators around and you have to navigate them carefully. People are also starting to get tired. It adds up to a nervous 50 miles. It was somewhere around Thayne that I encountered the toughest part of my day.

Mike, Jared and I got into a rhythm where we started using up groups. We would ride up to a group, rotate through with them a couple of times, until we got close to another group, and then they would drift away and we'd go to the next group. We were comfortably turning out a higher speed, which allowed us to catch groups. These guys would turn themselves inside out to hang, usually bumping up the speed when it was their turn to pull through. Then they would blow and drop back and we would move on. It backfired on me about Thayne. I am not a power rider and rolling along at 27 - 28 mph on flat roads took its toll on me. We finally hooked up with a guy and gal with some chops and with the extra horsepower, we were flying. I took a pull at a tough for me 26 mph and sat up. The dude pulled through and raised the speed the speed to 28 or so going up a small rise. And I popped. Audibly. As the  four of them put distance between us, I put my head down and buried myself to catch back on. Completely spent, I sat on the back the rest of the run in to Alpine.

The feed in Alpine left 81 mostly uphill, but not terribly steep, uphill miles to go. I'll get to that next time.

February 14, 2013


3:30 am is really early and early wake-ups are one the aspects of endurance sports I despise. I understand why we have to get up early, I really do. But I hate it. Not only is it early, it is cold. And I don't like the cold, either. It's also dark. Now a clear picture of why I don't leap into triathlons is forming in your mind, isn't it? "Hey, let's get up at 4 am, freeze in transition, squeeze into a wetsuit, stick our faces in murky, 60° water before the sun is up, climb out of the water with numb feet and hands and try to walk to transition to change clothes - hell no I don't want help getting my wetsuit off because it is keeping me from going hypothermic - to ride for a few hours while shivering in wet clothes with still-numb extremities."  You get the point... But up at 3:30 I was.

Not being a morning person, my brain is not firing on all cylinders that early. Wisely, I don't trust myself with the stove, so I had a Cliff bar for breakfast. That's right, I start my LOTOJA with a Cliff Bar, some water and a meager cup of coffee. Dave and Vaughn show up and we are road borne in no time.  I'm sure more went down but I can't recall. Because it was morning.

We met up with Jared in the Walmart parking lot with the intention of riding the couple of miles to the starting line. And Walmart has great bathroom facilities which was awesome because I was sorely ready to give birth to poop #2. Nerves? Don't know but I was glad to not be in a Porta John.

Riding to the line, I was glad to have brought extra layers. No snow was in the forecast, unlike '05, but it is cold in the Cache Valley in the morning. I dressed in Mavic bib shorts and a softshell Mavic jacket, Pearl Izumi arm and knee warmers, DeFeet base layer, Bohemian Brewery jersey, Outdoor Designs cycling gloves and Enve Swiftwick socks. I was chilled, but plenty warm. I honestly don't know how anyone wearing less could avoid violent fits of shivering. We motored along most of the way in excess of 26 mph. Totally unsustainable for me. But in the group, I could hang. It always amazes me how much faster you go and how much less it hurts on race day.

It was on the way to Preston that I encountered the first of many dipshits I would encounter this day. I'll call him Sock Armwarmer Guy.  Now Sock Arm Warmer Guy looked like he rode a lot. Trouble is, he looked around a lot. A LOT! A no no in pack riding. And try as I might, I could not get away from this guy. Luckily, as we came into Preston to feed, he kept going.

But I am not. More next time. In, say, 4 months...