Monday, November 26, 2007

Long time, no blog.

For some reason I've fallen off the Blog wagon this month. Short days, colder temps have moved in and frankly me sitting on the trainer watching TV just isn't real exciting. But I've rounded up some of the recent blog-worthy events and thrown them into one big cornucopia of post Thanksgiving things...

Turkey Day

With my parents sunning it up in Hawaii (more on that later) and Jill's parents in Oklahoma, we figured to just do a small dinner at our house for the 4 of us (the two humans and the two pooches). Then we got an invitation to crash Chris & Molly's Thanksgiving dinner at their place, which we gladly accepted.

Note: Don't ever extend an invitation to me for turkey & dressing if you don't expect me to accept without ever thinking twice.

Thanksgiving was a mix of Chris & Molly's families, friends and classmates. Lots of good food and fun times, and maybe the most important part - leftovers to take home! We watched football, caught up on all the happenings of MBA & Law School life, played some games and talked a lot. A very eclectic group, but a good time by all.

Parental Vacation

The Parentals took a much overdue vacation to Maui over Thanksgiving, partly to watch the OState Cowboys in the Maui Invitational basketball tournament. While the Cowboy's results left quite a bit to be desired, it sounds like they really enjoyed their time living it up on the island.

Some Light Reading

Winter's short days and cold temps bring me indoors in a hurry. In preparation for the "fattening season", I picked up a couple books last week that I've been eyeing for some time now. One is The Cyclist Training Bible, which is written by Joe Friel who is a Boulder resident. The other is Training and Racing with a Powermeter, which is a change I will likely make this winter. I've been using the Polar heart rate monitor for several seasons, and I'm finally starting to get to the point where I think I could use power training more effectively.

Training Time

Last winter I built a nice aerobic base before basically burning myself out in early June. The good news was that even though I didn't fully take advantage of my newfound conditioning, I did find myself having a much better overall base conditioning even late in the summer when my riding had been minimized.

So this winter I'm out to build on last year's semi-successful winter program. I'll again be using PC Coach Cycling Plans to at least outline my plan and to help me keep from working myself too hard and to generate the periodization (4 weeks of build - build - build - rest) for me.

November has been a very good month so far. I've just wrapped up my hardest (exertion point based) week to date, but I still feel like I've got pretty good legs. I'm using a different approach in PC Coach this year, which seems to be working better for me so far. I'm working on setting some goals for next summer, but the one that seems to keep coming up is the Laramie Enduro. I'm still upset I didn't get to finish that one last year, so I'm expecting that is going a major goal for me next summer.

You can see here in my PC Coach monthly calendar view that the majority of the work is easier, aerobic base building work.

Yesterday I managed to get out and hit the tarmac and avoid 2 hours of trainer time. It was sunny and 50 when I started, but as the sun moved behind the clouds it got pretty chilly buzzing down the road at 17mph. I've got some shoe covers on order that should help my chronically chilly feet, but they have yet to arrive.

And the real bottom line here is this:
During the week of Thanksgiving I managed to lose 4 pounds, and gain a lost belt loop.

More updates on the fitness front to come, and if/when I ever do make the switch to power you can expect to be inundated by charts.

You've been warned.

Guitar Hero 3

While waiting in Sam's Club to get new tires on Jill's car, I starting playing Guitar Hero III on the display they had setup. After a quick tutorial by the worker who was undoubtedly tired of hearing my bad attempts, I was hooked. I somehow fought the urge to buy it off immediately, but gave in later that night.

For those who have no idea what it is, its basically a guitar you play by pressing buttons on the neck while strumming. The notes come down the screen at you, and if you play them correctly you get the sweet sounds of music. Incorrectly gets you a squawk from the guitar. Its very fun and addictive.

I pretty much mastered the 3 button Easy mode, but have found myself struggling with the Medium mode which uses 4 (of the 5) buttons and the notes come much faster. Its a long winter and the replay value is high, so I expect to conquer medium in due time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jill's twin sister visits

Jill anxiously awaiting her twin's arrival...

The other sister arrives!

Lets take a group shot.

And what would happen if we took 1/2 of each of you...

OK, so Jill doesn't have a twin (too bad for some other guy out there), and she doesn't even have a sister. All this nonsense really is about something good, as Jill grows her flowing jet black locks out and then cuts off 10 inches of it to be donated to Locks of Love. They make wigs for young kids who are undergoing chemo treatments and have lost their hair.

So what you are really seeing is:

1. Jill ready to get her haircut
2. Jill after her haircut
3. Before & After side by side
4. A composite I made of 1/2 of the before and after.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fruita Trip Day 2

Day 2 started with a hearty breakfast, an extra hour of sleep due to the time change, and a group of 7 of us heading west towards the CO/Utah border to Rabbit Valley to ride the Western Rim trail. There was some discussion about trying to do a Bookcliffs ride or something closer, but it was all new trails to me so I was game for anything.

Western Rim is a 15ish mile roundtrip lollipop loop that starts with a steady uphill climb and then all the sudden opens into a downhill rim ripping singletrack blitz around the edge of the canyon. Our group motored on pretty well, getting most of the mechanicals out of the way the day before. Only a flat and a small crash (neither mine) held us up today, and since I was due to be home I was off the front pushing the pace as much as I could.

The Punisher makes this steep look easy

Justin rolls this impossible looking steep

It was interesting how quickly the trail changed, and all of the sudden I was third bike ripping around the rim of the canyon. The section of trail around the rim was such a blast, incredible good flow and just technical enough to make you keep your hands on the brakes. We blasted a couple miles of trail before stopping to grab some food and take in the views.

The trail snaked along the rim of this canyon for several miles.

As with all good things, this too had to come to an end John & I were on a tight schedule and we ultimately had to bid farewell to the rest of the group and hike up the side of the cliff to grab the road back. Once on the road, The Punisher & I kept the pace relatively high and steady as we made our way back.

After climbing the road section, we got to enjoy some downhill with short rolling uphills on the way back. One section saw The Punisher go wide and hit a sandy bog, and I pulled up next to him and asserted myself by saying "This is where my singlespeeding pays off".

And about that time The Punisher downshifted, got back into the track and powered away from me up the climb. I guess that is what I get for opening my mouth.

We railed the last few sections and then pounded out the 1.3 miles of sandy road back to the car. The deep, sandy uphill sections were tough on tired legs, but overall I held my own. My fitness was better than expected, and after a couple days of riding the Yeti my technical skills were starting to wake up from their coma a bit. Now I just have to make it through the long winter so that I can get back out to Fruita and hit up some of the other trails that I missed this time.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ah Fruita.....

So after 3+ years of living within 4 hours (make that 4.5!) of one of the premier mountain bike destinations in the country, I finally got a chance to get my tires dirty there. In a last minute "are you sure you want to do this" decision, I loaded up Friday after a long work week and John "The Punisher" Perry and I motored towards the Western Slope.

The weather promised to be outstanding all weekend, and that promise was upheld. We couldn't have asked for any better weather. We lucked out and instead of having to camp at a remote state park, we got to sleep in a newly built custom home courtesy of some friend's very gracious parents who recently moved to the Western Slope. Oh and they fed us a ridiculous amount of food too...

So on to the riding, which is why you go there...
Saturday our group of 9 loaded up and headed to the Kokopelli parking lot to sample some Fruita classics. We started with Horsethief Bench, which has a ridiculous entrance to it. Some rode about 1/2 way down, which was impressive, while most walked. No one cleaned it while we were there, but there are some who can ride it top to bottom.

Justin is the king of rolling ridiculously steep things

Once down the entrance to Horsethief Bench, we did that loop then walked back up to the top where we would start Mary's Loop. Mary's is fast and fun and took us over to Steve's Loop where we continued on to Handcuffs. At this point it was decision time.

Blue skies, great trails and good views.

This picture in now way shows how disgustingly tough this drop was. I walked it.

Our group had splintered into 5 and we opted to hit the "Most Difficult" Moore Fun trail. I've heard about Moore Fun, but it was much tougher than I expected. A long, rocky climb that was often unrideable for most of us was frustrating at times, but got better when you could actually string together a couple of rocky moves and make it up something you didn't expect to make.

Once we reached the top, the fun began as the technical down was a lot of fun, in a frightening "don't go over the bars" type of way. I was starting to get in tune with Betty the Yeti again, and my riding improved all day. At first the little wheels and suspension really had me spooked as I'm so used to riding the 29er rigid these days but I got progressively better as the trip went along.

Not a single pic from Moore Fun, and not really very many pics from the entire trip. The trails are just too much fun to be stopping and snapping that often.

So Day 1 was in the books. My fitness felt remarkably good considering I've really only been back on the bike the last couple of weeks, and my technical riding skills were slowly coming back. I think there is hope that I can salvage this tattered relationship with Betty the Yeti after all.

We ended up putting in a bit over 17 miles, about 2,000 feet of climbing and 2:20 of ride time. What you don't see in those numbers were that we were out for almost 6 hours that day, meaning lots of stopping for regroups/lunches/flats/mechanical problems/etc.

GPS Batteries died, so only the Polar HR graph this time and no pretty Google Earth from above shot...