2015 is my 20th year of competitive cycling and I’ve raced pretty much everything other than CX. I can now put a check in the box for Keirin.
On July 22 I headed up to the Boulder Valley Velodrome for the second Pro Am series event which included the CO State Championship Elimination Race. I loved racing the event on the grass at Highland Games where it’s known as “Devil Take the Hindmost”. Before that race, they decided to hold the Keirin State Championship that didn’t happen two weeks earlier due to rain. I had no plans on racing it, but that changed when I was told I was in Heat 1, at which point I was in a mad scramble to change my bike from 51×16 to 51×14. I got the bolts tightened up just as the national anthem was starting.
Heat 1. I drew lane 5 (highest on the track) which wasn’t ideal, but at least I wasn’t in 1 and obligated to take the moto. I tried to get into position 2 or 3 when we got rolling but no one was budging. There was no way I was dropping back to the tail end so I ended up sitting out in the wind. I think I made my move with 2 or 3 laps to go which was a bit early, but it managed to hold off a fast charging Ian Holt for 3rd place by a whisker. The top 3 from each heat advance so that put me into the final.
In the final I drew lane 3 which was a relief. It was me, Jake Duehring (Has medaled at PanAm’s, raced world cups, worlds, and we won the elite team pursuit in 2013), Samuel Fogel (Young and fast – Will be racing Junior worlds), Colby Pearce (2x Olympian… nuff said), Chris Ferris, and Steven Herzfeld. If you asked me who was going to win a week earlier, my money would have been on Herzfeld. The race itself was fairly uneventful… I slotted into 2nd or 3rd and held my position for as long as possible until the attacks started. It was pretty much Jake vs. Samuel who opened up a gap, then I held onto 3rd. Jake went on to dominate the night’s racing taking wins in the Pro Men Tempo and Elimination State Championship.
Another fast night of racing, and another significant increase in my 1min power that I’d PB’d the previous week. Not peaking yet, but making some consistent improvements in power.
One of the perks of my job is that I get a day off for my birthday… I decided to use that day later in June with the goal of summiting a 14’er (Mountain in Colorado over 14,000ft). There are a LOT of options, but I eventually narrowed it down to Longs Peak. Probably not the best choice as it’s one of the toughest ones (ranked about 7th out of 53 peaks). Trying to persuade someone to join in my little adventure was proving to be a challenge until I posted on the 14ers.com Facebook page about my planned hike. The day before I got a message from a guy wondering if I was still planning on it. A bunch of messages later and plans were set!
I ate a ton of food the day before and made sure I took in a lot of fluids also. I attempted to go to sleep at about 8pm on Sunday, although it was more like 9pm by the time I was out. I woke up at 11:45pm and by midnight was on the road to Rocky Mountain National Park – I nice 100 mile drive! I consumed fluids and food during the drive so that I’d arrived at the trailhead ready to rock!
My new hiking partner for the day, Virgil, arrived at about 2:15am and by 2:30 we were on the trail. The hike up Longs Peak is an approx 14 mile round trip and takes 10-14hrs to complete! It was going to be a LONG day.
Up until the Boulderfield and Keyhole is just regular hiking. From the Keyhole onwards, it was full winter conditions (this is supposedly late in the year for Longs to be like this).
This part of the hike is marked by “bullseyes” spraypainted onto the rocks marking the route – Very helpful. Fortunately, most were still visible and now covered in snow. The start of the Ledges section was dry granite, then a patch of snow that required my first use of crampons, followed by more granite.
After making it across the ledges, the next section to tackle was the Trough. It was full of snow, so unlike summer (conditions that would see hundreds of people attempting the summit) it was a full on couloir. Great for skiing down, but definitely a workout to go up using crampons and an ice axe. Add in the factor that I’m a fit cyclist, but not exactly fit mountaineer, and it’s a challenge. Just looking up it at a couple other climbers near the top made me question if this was the point that I’d be turning around. It was a long way down (if I slipped), and a long way up. Virgil and I just got down to work and plugged away at it taking a few rests along the way to enjoy the view, and get our breath back at ~13,200ft elevation. We talked to one guy that decided he wasn’t making it beyond the trough as all he had was yak-trax / microspikes and hiking poles. Definitely a wise move as a guy fell a couple hundred feet the day before (Reportedly with no foot traction devices and only one hiking pole – No business being in that kind of environment!). We exchanged words then got on with business. At the top of the trough there’s a fairly large rock that needs to be navigated carefully. I got over it, took a seat on dry granite, and was in total awe at the view. For the previous hour we had been hiking up a couloir mostly shaded from the sun with a view behind us, but the view looking east at the top of the trough was amazing. Definitely one of those moments where I consider myself lucky to live in Colorado, and lucky to have the youth and fitness to get there.
This section is basically a ledge along the east face of Longs that requires careful footwork. Nothing too crazy but not the place to be if you don’t like heights. It was just nice to get the damn crampons off and hike along horizontal rock!
At the end of the trough, the route turns left and heads up a steep section of granite, although on this day it was a mix of snow and ice. This is where the guy had fallen the day before and another point where I questioned if I was going to get up it. We had come this far, weather was perfect, and there was no good reason to turn back so we pressed on.
5.5hours after leaving the trailhead parking lot and I was on the summit with Virgil arriving shortly after. Holy shit, we actually made it! Online reports claim that approx. 36,000 people attempt Longs annually; however, only 50% make it. Virgil had made a few previous attempts but had to abort for various reasons – mostly weather. I was pretty stoked to be on the summit at my first attempt and happy for Virgil to have made his summit also. The summit is about the size of two football fields and pancake flat, but with amazing 360deg views. We saw up there for a while, talked to a couple other guys that summited before us, signed the register, took some photos, and entertained a couple super friendly marmots. Some clouds started to form in the previously clear sky so we decided to head back down versus staying up there exposed to a potential thunderstorm.
I always remember that books and documentaries note that the descent is where shit usually goes wrong, so I made sure that we took our time on the technical sections. We weren’t out to break any records so it was better to get back to the car a little later than get airlifted out! By the end of the ledges I was pretty damn tired. By the keyhole there was some light hail and we could hear rain on the summit above us. The Boulderfield sucked about twice as much as expected it would with tired legs / brain. The rest of the hike out just felt like it took a bloody eternity. We joked with a few younger guys on the trail “Got any pizza? Beer?” and that got some laughs. I think we were 120% serious. I’d have destroyed a pizza! A little after 4pm and we were back at the car. A bit dehydrated, hungry, and sleepy. The drive home was miserable and I had to do a McD’s drive-by to get some much needed calories and caffeine.
As previously mentioned, I’m a fit cyclist, but definitely not hiking fit. This was clearly evident by the DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) that reared it’s ugly head the following morning and lasted for about 3 days. Stairs were far from fun and the two large blisters on my heels were not enjoyable either. Regardless, it was all totally worth the experience. First 14’er by foot (I’ve done Mt Evans by bike and Pikes Peak by car), first use of crampons, first use of an ice axe… and I lived to tell the tale!
Yesterday I ventured out for a bit of tabata type torture on the TT bike. A brutal workout on paper, but I was mentally ready to knock it out of the park. By interval 2 or 3 (a little under my target of 400-410w) my legs didn’t feel right. Getting to 400 seemed like a chore and things didn’t get better. By the end of the first set I was starry-eyed, close to throwing up, and wanted to pass out. I rolled around for 20mins noodling in Level 1 as my legs were so blown, Level 2 wasn’t appealing. I got the second set done which was just as brutal as the first and made one final dig on the last interval. Thank f**k that was over… Lots of cussing, facial contortion, and damn sore legs. When I finally downloaded the file I realized that I hadn’t switch back the SRM’s slope from my track to road powermeter (24.0 vs 28.3). Turns out those intervals should have hurt as much as they did because I was churning out closer to 500w than 370-400w. At least I know I’m not getting weaker. In 2003 I was told “1 years from now, the only grade that will matter is the slope of your driveway”. Kind of true, but as I’ve experienced, SRM slope is more important!
What a weekend… Raced a TT on my doorstep on Saturday. Took 12th in Pro/1/2. Not quite the result I was hoping for, but new PB power so I’m still making progress. On Sunday I made the drive up to Erie for another track workout on the Boulder Valley Velodrome. I got in a few good efforts but soon realized that my legs were trashed from Saturday, so I shut things down prematurely. When I got home and looked at the data I added another 26w to my 1min power which made me wish I’d pushed through the last couple of efforts.
That, combined with some yard work has my body feeling rather beaten up today – which is also my 36th birthday. I should be in the mood to celebrate, but found out that one of my friends back in Hawaii is going through an unimaginably tough time right now. A situation that leaves me questioning why seriously bad s**t happens to good people. Life isn’t fair… Make the most of every day!
Since my last update I’ve checked off a few more states that I’d never been to – Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. I think that brings the total states I’ve visited in the US to 17. Still a few more to go! I also spent a day in Austin and as I was so close to Mellow Johnny’s (Lance Armstrong’s bike shop) I checked it out. I swore I’d never go there, but I wanted to check out the Train Hard studio in the basement run by retired pro Kevin Livingston (who coached me back in 2003 and 2004). Unfortunately he wasn’t there, so I looked around Lance’s shop. Ignoring the doping shenanigans and ongoing related legal battle, the store is pretty cool. Yellow jersey’s on the wall and lots of Lance’s bikes from his Motorola days through to Radioshack. It’s all history I guess, but his Motorola bike is definitely my favorite.
A couple weeks ago I finally managed to make it to Erie and get in some training on the Boulder Valley Velodrome. It looked cool in photos, but it’s even more impressive in person. Not perfect, but a lot less bumpy that the velodrome in Colorado Springs… Toilets in the infield… Plenty friendly riders… Just a cool place to hang out and get in some quality training. My legs were destroyed for a few days after my first ride there; however, they seem to already be used to the track as I didn’t have the same experience after my second ride there.
My Kickstarter / SRM mount project is making progress and should be back from anodizing within the next day or so. It’s been cool to experience taking a project from idea, to sketch, to 3d model, to 3d printed prototype, to the final CNC’d product.
Despite only racing a few of the events, and having a few blunders along the way, I managed 8th overall out of 25 in the KHMTT series. Not a peak event, so it made for some great training and also provided the opportunity to work out the kinks with my warmup, bike setup, and position.
After the KHMTT series, the next race I took a stab at was the TT stage of the Superior-Morgul 3-day. That went mostly well other than missing the first turn and losing a bunch of time. On paper, my result wasn’t that great, but adjusting for the lost time I had potential for a top 20 ride among some of Colorado’s fastest P/1/2 riders. I had my best avg wattage to date for a TT so that was a small victory.
After a fairly hard (but good) week of training that included getting 41/50ish riders in the Morgul TT (Would have been top 20 had I not missed the first turn), and a painful ride on Sat, I had the luxury of a “rest” day from training on Sunday. That’s a rare occurrence, so I figured I’d “rest” by doing the Devil’s Head Fire Lookout hike! It’s near Sedalia, involves driving about 8 miles of dirt road, 2.8 miles (but I think longer as the hike started before the trailhead) roundtrip, and close to 1,000ft of elevation gain. Normally that would be a cakewalk of a hike; however, I thought I’d increase the “rest” aspect of the hike by bringing along my 2.6yr old… All 33lbs (live load!) of her, plus my DSLR, and her food. She hiked bits and pieces but I reckon she spent 70% of the time on my shoulders and 15% just being held. Lots of comments along the trail such as “Now THAT’s a workout!”… It turned out to be a great hike with decent weather and a few snowflakes at the summit. We made it back alive. She slept like a log. I hurt like a mofo on Monday morning! Good times!!!
… another week of training and racing in the bag without getting sick! Training has been going great and I’m back to making some decent gains. Last week was somewhat brutal so it was nice that I had 2 off days while traveling to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for work. That reminds me about Saturday’s ride… The weather in the Denver area wasn’t so great due to lots of rain. On Saturday, it finally stopped raining, and despite being a little overcast I figured I’d lucked out and could fit in my 1.5hr ride without getting drenched. So I ventured out… About 40mins into the ride, the rain gradually started, then it got so foggy that I could only see about 50ft in front. Bad enough that I rode a decent looking backwards more than forwards due to fear of becoming roadkill. I survived the decent and appeared out of the fog, but damn it was cold. The rain turned to sleet and I could barely feel my finger or toes, but I pressed on with the last of my intervals. It took a good 30mins in the shower with the hot on full for me to thaw out. My TT bike was quite a mess too and needed a thorough cleaning on Sunday. Within an hour of getting home from my ride we had about 2 inches of snow, then another 3 inches overnight.
After a week of having my barn doors blown off by strep, I’m back on the bike and with my form back to where it was pre-strep. I did the local TT last week and despite still not quite feeling the love on the bike, put in my fastest time to date… 21:39. Still not quite as fast as I know I can go, but heading in the right direction. Throwing a riser kit onto my Pro Missile Evo bars and switching out the Mavic iO for a Zipp 808 Firecrest felt a hell of a lot better too.
Unrelated to this post, but here’s a photo taken on Antelope Island, Utah.
I swear I spent 30+ years building up a pretty decent immune system; however, the mini-me that lives under my roof seems to take home all kinds of germs from daycare. It’s only April but I think I’ve been sick more this year than the the past 5 years combined. Earlier in the year I got sick, put up a fight for 2+ weeks before caving in and going to see a doctor. The outcome was that I had a smidgen of strep… Roll on 2 months… I thought my voice sounded different for a few days, but felt fine… Got in some decent training, then an hour post Saturday ride I felt like death. A combined 18hrs of sleep ensued and I was pretty useless at anything other than sitting on my ass or sleeping. Another visit to the doctor and the outcome was that I had Strep again. 10 days of antibiotics and a few days of zero training or racing. Fun… I figured it would be better to take some real time off now and not dig myself into a deep hole. I’m now back to 95% so fingers crossed I don’t get sick again for a very long time (highly unlikely)!