Sunday, January 31, 2010


Numero Uno
In Fahrenheit.  That was the "bank sign" temperature at the Waterville exit Saturday morning. It was colder at the Nordic Center. The high winds had died down though. And the sun was brilliant. It did not feel cold at all. Lack of glide reminded us that it was still cold.

Brett and I went up mid morning for our last endurance ski before the Lake Placid Loppet next weekend. I sure hope Lake Placid gets more snow. That second lap will be scraped down to boiler plate if they don't. Conditions were surprisingly good at WV. They had gotten a few inches of snow to freshen things up a bit, but not nearly enough to open any of the south end trails. A limited selection of north end trails were open, the ones I go there for. Livermore and Tripoli were perfect. All the trails had firm, freshly minted corduroy. Saw several other cyclists doing the skatey skier thing.

We skied a total of 38.3km in 2:21hrs. One of my faster averages at WV despite some of the slowest snow. We worked pretty hard. The parking lot was overflowing when we left, so the scary cold temps didn't scare too many people away. We had no trouble staying warm, although by the time I reached the bottom of Tripoli, my lobstah mitts had frozen into a solid hand cast. Good motivation to keep moving, eh?

Aiming for Gray Space
Sunday was 3hr ride day. I thought about riding locally on icy snowmobile trails, but my winter beater bike with studs barely shifts right now. Seems derailleur cable housings are already rusted up from road salt. My singlespeed is working nice though. Near zero maintenance. The promise of riding bare dirt on a perfectly working machine was just enough to entice me to head down to the Cape again. I couldn't get any takers. They don't know what they're missing.

Temp was in single digits at home but in the 20's on the Cape. I hit Trail of Tears last weekend, so I planned to get my fix at Otis this time. There were a lot of cars there, including several with NH plates. Legs felt pretty good starting out even though I skied hard the day before. I pretty much hammered for two hours straight. Then two days of hard work caught up to me and I imploded.

I've given up trying to follow a specific route at Otis.  There are hundreds of decision points. The area is fully built out with trails. You can get to any point from any point quite directly. So to minimize hitting stuff twice, I just aimed for gray space on my GPS screen. Start getting close to my track on the right, take next left to veer away from it. Worked quite well I think.  I did do a little double backing, but it was intentional.

It was a glorious day to be on the trails. Zero snow, ice or mud, and abundant sunshine. Temp in 20's is downright balmy when you ski in single digits on a regular basis. I rode about 29mi in 2.9hrs with 3000ft of climbing.

So when Brett and I were done skiing, he asks me how I can go out for a hard bike ride the next day, like won't my legs be completely dead? Yep. Usually. Skiing really diminishes ability on the bike, but riding doesn't seem to trash the body for skiing nearly as badly. Don't know why. When you think about it, the two activities are largely orthogonal. Much of the motive force skiing is derived from upper body muscles which cycling doesn't use at all, and lower body contribution doesn't hit cycling specific muscle groups very hard. There is one very important muscle that prevents any two aerobic disciplines from becoming truly orthogonal. Your heart. If your cardio system didn't need recovery, then a top triathletes could actually be tops in each of the disciplines against single sport athletes. The saying "A triathlete is a jack of all trades, master of none" wouldn't hold true. But there are many systems in the body that require recharging after endurance workouts. This limits total training volume and ability to train for multiple disciplines.

When I ride the next day after a hard ski workout, I notice it mostly in lack of top-end. It's not so much the cycling muscles are fatigued. There is the lead feeling in the legs, but only when I try to sustain a hard effort. It is the rest of the system that fails to keep up. There is a mental aspect involved here too. I've learned that you can't forego a hard workout just because you feel like crap getting up in the morning. When you get on the bike and push through this, you feel pretty good 30 minutes into it.  I've been doubling up back to back hard days for several weeks now. These are ski/bike on Tues/Wed, which are shorter VOmax efforts, then ski/bike on Sat/Sun, which are longer intensive endurance efforts. A rest day is usually needed after one of these doublets. When I get up the third morning, it feels like nothing in my body escaped unscathed, in a good kind of way.  Not sure what this will get me in ski marathons, but I'm optimistic it will pay dividends come bike racing season.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Many months ago I promised to begin core work in the hopes I would suck a little less at skiing and try to bring balance back to my body from cycling, which pushes everything out of whack. It never happened. I even bought a medicine ball. My wife is the only one using it. Today I learned just how pathetically most of my body is out of shape.

I left my road bike in the car from Wednesday's tough 75 minute ride with SteveG at lunch. I failed to look at Thursday's forecast. Snow moved in before lunch. Steve was thinking about going to Kevin Buckley's gym, Dynamic Strength and Conditioning. He'd been bugging me for months to try it out. First visit is free even. A quick phone call even eliminated the excuse that all I had was winter cycling spandex with me. His wife Gina would come too and bring an extra pair of shorts and shirt with her. I bet she wasn't going to miss this for the world.

Kevin wasn't working this day. His partner Michelle would lead the lunch session. Kevin and Michelle's program is all about Functional Interval Training, or FIT. The whole body is brought into play to do seemingly silly things are surprisingly effective in strengthening the core and everything else.  The gym is on the fourth flow of an old mill building downtown Nashua. I thought the climb up was a pretty good workout in itself. Going back down after the workout was the real test though.

We warmed up for about 10 minutes doing a myriad of motions designed to loosen up the body. I was clearly the least limber in the group of eight. I was also the least coordinated. I forget what name was given to the medley of exercises that comprised the core of the workout. There were five stations. We would spend 40 seconds at each station, transition to the next in 20 seconds, until each exercise was completed twice. This would take 10 minutes. A two minute rest was given before starting second and third rounds. Whole routine lasted 34 minutes. How hard could that be? VERY HARD. Here's the five exercises:

1. Battling Ropes
2. Sitting Tucks
3. Swimmers
4. D-ball clean/press
5. Double kettlebell squats

The ropes were slung around a pole about 20-30 feet away. There was a thick rope and a really thick rope, like barely get your hand around it. Idea was to keep the rope in motion, either waves or spirals. Sitting tucks are kind of like crunches, but your feet and back are not supposed to touch the floor. The swimmers were like double poling with straight arms, bungee cords from the wall. D-ball clean/press consisted of hoisting a dead weight ball above your head in controlled fashion, and letting it down in controlled fashion. The kettlebell squats are deep knee squats with dual kettlebells at your chest.

So how did I do? Letter grades for 1-5 above were C, F, B, C-, D-. If these were college class grades, I might be able land an enterprising job in the fast food business.

Starting on the large battling ropes, I'd say the ropes whipped me around more than I whipped them around. This takes all kinds of shoulder and core stability muscles to keep it going with any kind of energy. 30 seconds into the 40 second interval, my arms were ready to fall off. Steve must have had pity for me, as he took the large ropes the remainder of the session. C was the highest I could grade myself on this one, as the smaller ropes were for women.

Next up were sitting tucks. First off, I could not do these without cheating. At all. My ab muscles would immediately crap out and feet or back would drop to the floor. So I used the beginner method of placing my hands just behind my butt for stability. Even then, I could not go 40 seconds. I became quite certain I have a rare genetic condition where I never grew abdominal muscles. It was an ugly scene. Got an F on this one.

Swimmers were next. This looked a lot like double poling. I thought this should be pretty easy, so I went for one of the thicker cord sets. But of course, I had it all wrong. Michelle had to correct my technique. Idea was to hold handles like gripping a bar in front of you, hands over, then bring arms all the way back with no bend in the elbows. Not so easy. At least you could fake this one without completely embarrassing yourself. I gave myself a B, mostly for aesthetics.

So how about the D-ball presses? Steve went right for the 80 pound ball. You got to be shittin' me! I picked up a 30 pounder and wondered if I would drop it on my head. That went ok the first time around. The second time around I tried a 40 pounder. After 40 seconds, my arms were violently trembling while raising the ball above my head. My back started go all wonky too. Hmm, C- I guess.

The last station was the kettlebells. I've never worked with these before. I've never done a squat before. I know my knees don't like deep bends. Anything more than the 60 degrees or so on the bicycle is too much. And on a bike, this is top dead center with no weight on them. My knees just don't ever go there, and I don't ask them too. I started with a single 12kg kettlebell. The first time I squatted, I felt all kinds of random bits of tissue in my knees giving way. I quickly concluded that even my own body weight is too much to squat, without additional dead weight at my chest. So here's the kicker. Steve's wife grabs two kettlebells (like we're supposed to), cranking out more squats with deeper bend with twice the weight of what I used. And she doesn't weigh a whole lot more than half what I weigh. Yeah, I got girled big time. In fact, I think I got girled at most of the routines. This one was pretty nearly a failure too, so I give myself a D-.

By the last time through the sequence, I couldn't even do a single sitting tuck. The two miniscule abdominal muscle fibers I might have possessed when we started had shit the bed. Interestingly, my quad muscles seemed to hurt the most. I'm pretty sure it was due to eccentric muscle contraction, where the muscle is contracting while lengthening. You never do this on a freewheel bicycle. You do it hiking down a mountain, which explains why I get debilitating shin splints each time. Who'd think these workouts would make cycling muscles hurt?

It was a great workout none the less. Gives me something to think about. I know I lack fitness in many areas, and this just kind of put it right out there in a quantative way. I have to find a way to bring this type of conditioning into my schedule and weekly routine. I'm bound to run into problems sooner or later if I don't.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wrecking at Weston

Normally, I would avoid Weston after a deluge or when it freezes into boiler plate. But given recent weather, what is a skier to do? Even Bretton Woods at the base of Mt Washington was closed today. The snowmaking gurus at Weston were wise to stockpile snow when the making was good. Nearly the full spint course was covered, although it was super saturated, coarse corn snow. Kind of surreal to ski a ribbon of snow amongst grass and pools of standing water.

Having skis dramatically lose glide last week in similar conditions, I figured I would use a harder wax this time even though it would be warmer and wetter. If dirt was plugging up my skis, a harder wax may offer a little more resistance. For tonight, I used cheap HF Fast Wax for sub-freezing temps. The temp was about 38F. I also planned to limit my warmup, since I only brought one pair of skis. No need to pick up excess dirt before the race. I can always ski a little longer afterwards. My "race" skis still have storage wax on them. Conditions just haven't been good enough at Waterville to bring them out. Plus they have a very fine structure for new, cold snow. I suppose I could warm up on my race skis and race on my rock skis with a more aggressive structure, but working until 9am 9pm most nights precludes messing around with skis anymore than I have to right now. I may invest in riller though, so I can add more structure to my rock skis when needed.

Buying my trail pass, another skier dropped $150 on Toko HF yellow and HF Moly. I was tempted to pick some up too, especially with Lake Placid coming up on what could be similar dirty, transformed snow. I thought even harder about it after the race. More on this in a minute.

Warming up, I knew I was going to biff in this one. Conditions were highly variable, from ankle deep loose corn snow to very hard areas. The last minute grooming left some pretty big ridges in the skate lane too. Then there was the bottomless pit of corn snow at the bottom of the chute by the clubhouse. My knees nearly buckled the first time going through it unaware. I made a big mental note to avoid that in the race.  I did two moderate pace warmup laps before lining up. My skis felt reasonably fast.

I lined up in 5th row, four across, since I typically finish around 20th place. I got a decent initial start. Nobody crashed in front of me. But I immediately came undone. I could not control my flailing and efficiently transfer energy to the variable surface. Upwards of 10 guys came around me in the first minute. Things thinned out, then I went to work to reclaim some of those lost positions as they slowed down.

Coming around on the next lap, I was just latching on to long line of guys with Victor and Marv in it. I come flying down the initial bump by the club house and see Marv and another skier drop over the lip. They never exited. I guess the other skier bit it in the corn snow pit, taking Marv out, and I had no where to go. I was quite certain my skis were going to shish kebob Marv's torso at 25mph. I laid it down while barely avoiding the other two. So much for catching the train. There were many other wrecks during the race, I think mostly skiers taking themselves out.

At least nobody got hurt. I don't think anybody passed us even though we lost 15sec. The three of us worked together in no man's land for a while. About half way through the third and final lap, I came to the front and manage to put a small gap on Marv. My skis were still going good, not slowing down. I had a drafter though, and another guy we dropped earlier came up in my draft in the final descent to the finish. I had nothing to contest the spot up for grabs.

Assuming we take two minutes off the clock time, I finished the 7km race in 20:02 minutes, good for 20th position overall, slightly better than last week. This was the most grueling race yet for me this season, due partly to conditions and partly it was a much longer race. It was exactly what I came there for, my mid week fix.

After the race, I ran into the guy who dropped some serious coin on wax before the race. Apparently he had enough time to wax. He was thoroughly impressed with the result, surprising himself, using superlatives to describe how fast his skis were. I don't know what he was using previously. Quite the unsolicited testimonial.  I almost bought some when I was done skiing, but it was late. I may take the plunge next week depending on how conditions look for Lake Placid on February 6. In my case, I still think this is analogous to a mid-pack Cat 5 roadie investing in $1200 carbon wheels. Sure, maybe I'll pick up another couple spots at Weston, but I really need to continue work on technique first. Going to Weston is all about pushing my body to the extreme limit for 15-20 minutes, not trying to eek out one more position in the results. Kudos to the crew that pulled this night together against all odds. Nobody went home disappointed.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Which was better?

Went up to Waterville again on my "off" Friday. My company touts the 9/80 work schedule as one of the reasons that makes it an employer of choice.  This means you work 9 hour days until you hit 80 hours, then you get a Friday off. Increasingly though, there are more and more cars in the parking lot on off-Fridays. In fact, when I interviewed for my current position several years ago, my hiring manager said off-Fridays were great. You can come in and really get some work done without so many interruptions! Like that was a bonus. Work longer days just so you can work on off-days to catch up. He retired shortly after I joined the company, but in these uncertain economic times, it seems many of my peers have adopted this mindset. So yeah, others tried to make me feel guilty taking my "off" Friday morning off to ski before going into work.

The conditions were no less than spectacular. Freshly groomed corduroy abounded with barely a soul around. It was wicked cold overnight but temps soon climbed to around freezing with bluebird sky, brilliant white capped mountains all around, and nary a breeze. The snow had half the speed of Weston's Tuesday night slush fest.  The few inches Waterville received early in the week did a nice job sprucing up the trails.  I did some hard work on skis and bike midweek, so I planned to take it easy. I hit everything on the north end at least once, including climbing Beanbender. So much for going easy. There is no such thing as a V-0.5 technique to granny gear up this 25-30% grade ski slope.

There were no other ski tracks on the Livermore side. I encountered a single set of skate tracks on Tripoli. I surmised this skier was very similar in ability to me. I went a stiff tempo pace and very nearly matched this other skier's tracks. Ski angle and spacing per push-off was nearly identical on average. However, my unseen nemesis carried V2 technique further into the steep pitches than I could, so I would fall behind a push or two. But then I could tell where, during a long steep part, he would tire in his (or her) V1 technique as I gained back the lost push-offs and then some. As the grade slackened, the other skier would commit to V2 sooner and gain on me again. Interesting, at least to an oxygen deprived brain. I bet over the 2.5 mile climb, I gained or fell behind no more than two or three steps. It is pretty much impossible to deduce the speed and ability of a bike rider from tracks left in the dirt. On really steep terrain, you can tell where the rear tire slips with pedal strokes, but you have no idea of what gear they may be in, and thus speed or cadence. In skating, the angle of the skis is indicative of the "gear" the skier is in.

I finished with 40.4km in about 2.6hrs with over 3000ft of climbing. It was probably my most satisfying ski session this season. I had originally planned on doing the Freeman Challenge race at Waterville this weekend, but lack of base on the south end forced them to cancel it.

We're finally back to balance here in New England - balance between perfect snow in the mountains and no snow on the Cape. When I saw the last of the snow disappear from Cape webcams earlier in the week, I knew exactly what I would be doing Saturday morning. I left very early to ensure frozen ground. I figured there was good chance the sun could soften things up. It was only 8F at my house when I got up, but 20 degrees warmer than that in West Barnstable.

Even though I felt pretty wrecked from a hard training week, I took the singlespeed with me. It had been neglected for about a month now. Surprisingly, I did not need to add air to the tubeless tires. The fork needed about 15 lbs.  I saw lots of NEMBA forum traffic on Otis. I hit that already this winter before the big Cape snowstorm. I hadn't ridden the Trail of Tears (ToT) since last February. I was itchin' to go back.

30 miles of this!

There was only one car at the Exit 5 parking area, probably a non-biker car. Had me worried. Were the trails too muddy? Still too much snow? My worries soon vanished. The trails were free of snow and were frozen rock hard. Must be everybody went to Otis nearby. I worked my way west on the ToT, then crossed over into Sandwich to ride the narrow moto singletrack. This stuff degenerates into some insanely hilly stuff, especially for a singly geared rider. I found several more miles of stuff I hadn't ridden before that was either 25% grade up or down with very little in between. Dismounts were frequent. I could tell from the few patches of crusty snow that nobody had been on this trail since the snowstorm. The trail was littered with tree debris. No way would my geared bike have survived this. Sticks an inch in diameter were either locking my wheels up or snapping into pieces. Eventually I gave up stopping to pull every nuisance piece that clung inside the spokes, choosing to grind it into mulch instead. Those Mavic Crossrock wheels sure are tough. They're heavy, so they ought to be tough.

Red trace from Feb '09 ride, Yellow from today's ride. The ToT loop
is on the West Barnstable side of the track, the moto loop is contained
in the upper left quadrant of the image.

I did a loop upwards of 12 miles on the moto trail before connecting back into the ToT. I think I logged over 2000ft of climbing in those 12 miles, and the single biggest climb was 50ft. That is a lot of 50ft walls to mash at 30rpm. Hope my back forgives me. The riding on the ToT is much kinder, gentler stuff. I could actually get some momentum going again. The town map is accurate as far as the official ToT route goes. But it fails to show how many ways you can go at some intersections. Thus the map is pretty much useless, as nothing on the ground is marked. You have to guess, and sometimes you guess wrong. It doesn't really matter. I kind of know the lay of the land there now, and all of the riding is about the same. It is all good. I was able to follow about 80% of the route I planned to hit on my way back to the car.

Close-up of partial Moto loop in Sandwich. Flat image fails to convey
how deeply corrogated the topography here is.

I finished the ride with 30 miles, 3800ft in 3.3hrs on the GPS. It was another flawless day for the planned activity. The ground remained frozen.  I never saw another rider, and only twice did I encounter another person, once starting the ride and again right near the end of the ride. That means I had 3hrs of perfect solitude in the middle. It doesn't get any better than that. I do need to get DaveP and SteveG down there some time though. So was the riding better than the skiing? It's a toss. It is interesting to note that even on slow snow, I can skate faster than I can mountain bike in similar terrain on dirt.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter project

Last fall I demo'd or rented different 29er hardtails. One was a specialized S-works at Fort Rock. I immediately grasped some of the benefits and disadvantages of big wheels. Mostly benefits.  Having gotten back into MTB racing last summer, I was ready to upgrade my hardtail racing platform. S-works don't come cheaply. I got some pricing on framesets and then contemplated my next move for several weeks.

During my period of contemplation, I travelled to Tennessee for a weekend escape of mountain biking.  I rented a Gary Fisher Paragon, also a 29er. It was a lower end bike with aluminum frame and mid-grade components. It handled much differently, set up with a different frame geometry GF calls Genesis-2. Being alloy, the frame was much stiffer than the S-works. I was somewhat disappointed in the flexiness of the S-works frame. I had no interest in building up an aluminum hardtail though. I break 'em too quickly.

I did a little more research in to Gary Fisher offerings. In 2010, they offer only the singlespeed Superfly as a frameset. The MSRP of the SS Superfly was many hundreds of dollars less than the S-works. I went back into contemplation mode for a while again. Finally, working with a LBS, I put in a formal request to see if I could get a geared version of the 2010 Superfly. The answer was yes, but not as a frameset. I could get a frame, the same custom offset Fox 29" fork used on the SS frameset, but no semi-integrated headset. The headset was no biggie. The price was reasonable. I wanted in.

That was about two weeks ago. Yesterday I was still waiting for a call confirming a delivery date, expected to be in March. So last night I put an order in for the build kit:
  • EASTON MONKEYLITE XC RISER BAR '08 31.8mm, Low Rise, 685mm Wide
  • THOMSON ELITE X4 MOUNTAIN STEM Black, 100mm, 10 Deg, 31.8mm
  • SHIMANO XTR M972 SHADOW REAR DERAILLEUR Gs 9Speed Top Normal, Low Profile Design
  • SHIMANO XTR M970 CRANKSET W/ BB Sil/Gry, 175mm, 44-32-22T
  • CANE CREEK ZS-3 HEADSET Black, 1 1/8", Zerostack Type, 44mm Od
  • SHIMANO DEORE XT M770 CASSETTE SPROCKET 11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30-34T, 9 Speed
Missing are wheels. Really struggling on that one. Options are Shimano XT tubeless, Mavic Crossmax UST, or maybe American Classic. The deal is, many 29er folks are running tubeless conversion setups, not true UST tubeless. They do this for multiple reasons, among them are much greater choice in tire selection, weight management, and potentially better traction with standard tires that are more supple. The down side is tubeless conversion setups aren't as reliable. I put high value on reliability. Not just for racing, but for epic rides as well. I did some big off-road races this past year with no flats or mechanicals. I use 26" UST wheels and tires. UST offerings for 29" wheels and tires are very limited.

Roadie or skier readers might not have a clue what I'm talking about here, but UST is a strict tubeless tire/rim interface standard. It differs from regular tube type tires in how the bead hooks on the rim.  When riders take ordinary rims with spoke holes in them, use strips and tapes to seal them, then mount regular tires on them without a tube, all kinds of interesting things can happen. Sealant is required to keep air from leaking out. The sealant can act like a lubricant at the rim interface and allow the bead to slip right off of the rim. Sounds like a shotgun going off when this happens. More likely is to hit an object hard and "burp" the tire, where the bead seal is momentarily broken and much air is lost before the seal is re-established. I really don't want to deal with these risks. I'd rather take the weight penalty of a certified UST tubeless setup.

There are now "tubeless ready" tires on the market. These don't necessarily conform to any kind of standard like UST. I may experiment with these on UST wheels. Bontrager markets a number of 29" tubeless ready tires, but I have yet to find a Bontrager tire I like, for road or off-road. The tire I may start with could be Hutchison Python's, which come in 29" UST. I've ridden Pythons before, many years ago. A fast tire, but not for all conditions.

A couple other missing items from my list above are seat post and saddle. I know exactly what I want for these (Thomson and Terry), it's just the place I ordered the other stuff from was wicked expensive for these items. I got good deals on some of the items above, like $69 for the Hayes Stoker brakes and $399 for the XTR crankset.

So I was ready call the LBS today to bitch about why they haven't gotten back with me yet on a delivery date. They called before I could call, not to give me a date, but to tell me my frame and fork were in already. Holy crap! I thought I had all the time in the world to get parts on order. Now I really have to decide on wheels. There's a chance I could head to Tucson with this new rig in March if I get it built up in time.

The 2010 Gary Fisher Superfly frame. 1280 grams with water bottle
bolts, seat post clamp, and derailleur hanger. Goal is to build it up
2 lbs lighter than my small-wheeled Dean Ti hardtail (which was sent
back three months ago for repair).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Slurpee Ski

A couple weeks ago I was bitchin' about riding in salt Slurpee conditions on the road. Well, tonight I had the opportunity to ski in such conditions, minus the salt. Ever drink a Slurpee, suck all the good stuff out, so all you had left was flavorless slush? That is exactly the material we raced on at Weston tonight. It was raining when I arrived.

I had reservations about even going. It snowed all day at work in Merrimack, NH.  Soggy snow can really suck to ski on. But I think Weston got more rain than snow, likely a good thing when the temperature is 35F. I applied Fast Wax bronze, a warm temp high fluoro wax. I do not have a riller to add structure to my skis as waxing sage Rob Bradlee recommended. Maybe all those gouges in my rock ski bases would channel some of the water away.

Warming up, I was pleasantly surprise by how fast conditions actually were, probably the fastest conditions I've been on this season. My skis seemed faster than anybody else's on the downhills warming up. I did several laps, but then I thought my skis started getting slower.

I lined up in sixth row next to Marv Wang, one of my nemesis' on skis. He is easy to mark in his IBC colors.  We side-skirted Mt Weston the first lap, but somebody still managed to biff right in front of me. Then it was a major cluster of people trying to get around with no shortage of ski and pole entanglement. It was my worst start here ever, I think. My peer group was gone.

On the second lap after things thinned out, I started picking people off. I could see Marv way up there. I noticed my skis were getting grippy on the descents and people were passing me. How can this be with less than 10k on my wax? I still made progress on Marv, but the rest of the group I normally hang with was gone.

Lap three was spent picking off about three more guys, just barely. Each time I passed a guy, I had a drafter for a while. It wasn't until the last 500m or so did I draw a gap and clinch my position. Marv finished just a couple seconds ahead of me. Haven't seen results yet. Probably finished around 20-25th position. The race went 5.3km and took around 16 minutes.  Talking with Colin after the race, apparently structure can make a pretty big difference in these conditions, more important than wax in fact. He skied a blistering pace using an aggressive structure.

Post mortem analysis of GPS data confirmed my suspicions. My skis got progressively slower with each lap, not just in the race, but for the whole evening. My fastest descents were on the first couple laps warming up at an easy pace. The descents of my last racing lap peaked at about 3-5mph slower than warmup laps, not even breaking 20mph. Don't know what to make of that. Too warm of a wax and it wore off right away in the icy slurry? Cheap Fast Wax when I should buy some Swix or Toko HF? Maybe my bases need a refresh grind. Most of the original grind structure is gone in the binding area, and maybe this glazed over look doesn't hold much wax anymore.

Regardless of result, I got a superb workout. 16 minutes at the very cusp of hurling can't be had any other way this time of year. The conditions never got slow, just slower for me. I skied a long time after the race, focusing on areas that seem to hurt me in the race. The really steep punchy climbs were one. I seem to get bogged down in deep slushy stuff, where other skiers I worked so hard to pass on the flats delicately scooted back past me. I finished the evening with 26.8km in 1.6hrs with 1455ft of climbing (on a golf course!). Well worth the trip down from Cow Hampshire.

Heading home in my endorphin induced haze, I just had to turn some AM talk radio on. Seems the whole country was tuned in to the Mass election. The evil empire to my south just became a less evil.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Six Hours on Snow

Another typical January weekend for me. Saturday DaveP and I hit Waterville Valley. Reports on the ground said conditions were bleak. Neither Dave nor I liked the prospects of additional driving and costs to go all the way up to Bretton Woods. We have season passes for Waterville after all. There seemed to be a disconnect between the WV's website conditions and third party observations saying there was little snow. We decided chance it anyway. The worst that could happen would be getting stuck doing repeats on Tripoli Rd. Actually, that wouldn't be a bad thing at all. Tipoli Rd is often the first to open in the fall and last to close in the spring. It always has good snow.

We found conditions to be quite good actually, on the north end. Only a couple spots near the bottom of Livermore shown a stone or two. Everything else was 100% good to go. We did a Cascade Brook/Upper Snows double climb. I started a few minutes ahead of Dave and we somehow missed each other around the loop at the bottom. The temp had risen into the 30's, and I was sweating pretty good. I went through my water bottle very quickly. It figures I got locked out of Dave's car. There was no way I was going to ski at that pace for three hours on one water bottle. Yeah, I bought one of those water bottle belt thingies. Now I was regretting it. With my Camelbak, I could have skied three hours without stopping.

I caught up with Dave at the top of the Tripoli Rd climb, on the verge of bonking 2+ hours into the ski. I couldn't get back down to the car to retrieve my other bottle with Gatorade mix fast enough. Conditions had slowed considerably as the sun softened everything up, but I still managed to go 32mph down Tripoli. Heading back out to do the Osceola climb, I had reached that point where I slow down, and Dave reached that point where he knows he can put the screws to me. And he did. We did a couple laps around Moose Run/Wicked Easy, and I couldn't stay with him. Not that I ever put the screws to him on a bike climb.

I was deep into a bonk cave when we finished with 44km in 2.8hrs skiing time and just over 3000ft of climbing. That one took way more out of me than it should've. Great workout though, and a great day to be in the woods.

Earlier in the week I had high hopes of riding on the Cape. But the snow didn't melt fast enough, and I suspected with frost in the ground, a semi-thawed surface would be a sloppy mess anyway. It got cold enough in my parts to re-freeze the crust. I decided to head up to Massabesic Lake near Manchester early and see how long I could ride snow machine trails until rising temps softened them up.

Massabesic Lake lower, Tower Hill Pond upper left,
squigly Fireline Trail upper center

Starting out like the FOMBA Turkey Burner, I did a big loop around the lake. The riding was quite good. Hiked on only trails were rock hard but uber bumpy. Snow machine only traffic left a crunch surface that require considerable work to maintain any kind of speed, but was comfortably doable. I was curious to see if there had been any traffic on the FOMBA singletrack. I popped in near the Fireline trail. No bike tracks, but the trail appeared to be well packed by snowshoe traffic. I gave it a try. It rode quite nicely. Only a couple of the steepest bits forced me to dismount. It was all work though, all the time. It took me 45 minutes to cover this 3+ mile trail. I probably rode 97% of it. Well worth it. I was probably the first person to ride it this year.

Still 6-8" of snow in the woods at Fireline trail

Fireline pops out on doubletrack, groomed by the local snow machine club. It passes the FOMBA Woodpecker singletrack, which was not packed with snowshoe traffic. It looked like a rider attempted it but turned around 20ft in. Same with Hemlock Trail a bit further down. I wondered if any of the other 10 or so FOMBA trails were rideable. Maybe I lucked out. Fireline was barely rideable as I finished. The sun was rapidly softening things up.

I next went up to Tower Hill Pond to ride a lap of the old Watershed Wahoo course. This would all be on groomed snow machine trails with some climbs. Much of it was packed down to ice or even bare dirt in places. It was easier to ride in places than in summer.

People were ice fishing on Tower Hill Pond. I've had this idea for a long time to write something on a lake with my GPS track. This was a perfect opportunity. I zoomed in on the screen so I could more clearly see my "popcorn trail." I used this to navigate a track of my wife's name. And yes, when I got home and zoomed in on the track, she was impressed. I said I was thinking about her during my ride. The fishermen must have thought I was whacked.

Thinking about my sweetie while riding. Actual GPS track while riding.
Note scale to houses in image, then look at first photo above to see
where on the pond this is.

I rode 26 miles, nearly all of it on snow and off-road, in 3.0 hours. I tried to put a cap on intensity, but riding in snow often doesn't let you do that. Nearly six hours on snow this weekend left me a bit ragged. One day to rest before hitting Weston on Tuesday, if this rain coming down right now changes over to snow anytime soon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I spent Monday and Tuesday at a training workshop in Burlington, VT. This partially bummed me out because it meant I would miss my weekly "fix" at Weston. The stuff I went to Burlington for was pretty cool though, and the road trip did offer an opportunity to ski somewhere I haven't been yet. The Catamount outdoor center was just five minutes away. Night skiing on a lighted loop is offered on Tuesday nights. That would have to suffice for my midweek fix.

The darker, more repeated figure-eight in lower right was lighted

I got out a little later than expected. Line up a full day of guys talking about work they are passionate about, yeah, you can expect things to run over. I would have liked to catch the last bit of daylight to explore a couple of the fringe trails. The temperature was in single digits and plummeting. I bought a trail pass and changed out of business attire. It had snowed a couple inches during the day, and the steps out of the old farm house, converted to Nordic center, were slick. This was no problem going in with street shoes, but the traction for ski boots was nil. In my haste exiting, my feet went out the door about 1000x faster than the rest of me. My right elbow was first thing to come down on the door jamb lip. No shortage of choice words were used. First thought was I broke my elbow. Then maybe my shoulder was dislocated. None of these happened, but I had one very unhappy elbow. I cut it wide open through three layers of clothing.

So now with last bit of dusk disappearing, I'm stripping down upper layers to assess the damage. The guy working there hauled out the first aid kit. I needed a pretty big bandage to wrap around the point of my elbow. I am so lucky I did not chip or break it. I decided to ski despite the pain and before any swelling had a chance to set in.

I put my skis on and no poles. WTF!  I had no idea why they were not in my bag. They are always in my bag. Did somebody unzip my bag and steal just my poles while I was getting bandaged up? Right. I didn't wax my skis since skiing Windblown, so that meant only one thing. The poles failed to make it in the bag at Windblown. So now after freaking the kid out that works there by wiping out in the doorway, I have to go back in and beg for poles. He had a skate set my length and wasn't going to charge me. Maybe I will get to ski sometime before midnight.

I started on the lighted loop. I quickly realized this ain't no Waterville. I suspect snowmobile grooming. Even though there was huge snow cover, many of the trails still undulated like crazy. Off-camber, rolling, bumpy, giant waterbars, deep ditches, you name it. Then throw in they haven't groomed in a day or two with classic skiers cutting tracks where ever they wanted, it made for one tricky skate session at night. The lighted loop for the most part was well lit. These were real lights, not kerosene lamps that mark the way like at Great Brook.

I did bring my LED headlamp with me. I wanted to climb Indian Lookout, but it looked to narrow and sketchy to do alone at night in 0F temps. I stuck to the lower, wider unlit trails. Kinda fun, but the new, cold snow had as much glide as a Lake Michigan sand dune. Huge kilojoules were expended for pittance of speed. Not very high on the fun factor scale. I struggled to find the ambition to hit any kind of intensities I would have hit at Weston.  More of a tempo workout, I'd say. About 23km were covered in 1.75hrs.

I must say night skiing in the deep woods rocks. This was nothing like night skiing at Weston. Catamount was far enough away from Burlington that in the open area, you could see hundreds of thousands of stars. I don't see that at my house in Pelham either. Way too much light pollution on the east coast. In the woods, your world reduces to a blue-white spot defined by your head lamp. Very dark, and totally quite. Reminds me of when I used to regularly night ride by myself in the woods.

Hope the elbow comes around enough to ski again on Saturday. My elbow rebels against any kind of twisting force right now. Riding today went ok, hill intervals, on road this time. One benefit of regularly skiing in single digits is this. When you go out for a road ride when it is 21F and windy like today, it feels downright balmy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Making the most of winter

Beanbender or Mindbender?

I hit Waterville on my off-Friday. Snow is getting sparse up there. Doesn't look like they've received any appreciable accumulation for two weeks now. WV opened a couple south-end trails, including Swan's Way that links to the north end. I figured I'd give it a go. Bad move. In 500m on the Pond Loop, I nailed three rocks hard. Rocks were unavoidable. Snow base was maybe 1-2". I went back to my car and drove to the north end. Conditions there were much better. I did lots of climbing work, but no insane intensity. This week's Tuesday night Weston race and Wednesday hill intervals on the mountain bike left me far from peak form.

Picnic tables here should be burried by this time of year

Beanbender was finally open. Starting on the north end, I had to go up Snow's and then down Beanbender from top of chairlift. Dicy in spots, with some dirt waterbars showing through and a few icy patches. Climbing Beanbender leaves you in an altered state of mind. Must be the endorphins. The 800ft Tripoli Rd climb was a piece of cake after that, even on lead legs. I did Tripoli twice.  I skied about 43km in 2.8hrs, hitting 3700ft of climbing.

Skiing all hills for nearly three hours is easily equivalent to a 75 mile ride in the White Mountains. 75 miles takes longer, but skiing is a much more persistent aerobic effort and is weight bearing. Then throw in a mid-week sprint race at Weston. No different than a training crit at Wompatuck, really. With skis, I can get top-notch training for my primary passion without being shackled to a trainer.

I finally sold my pair of Atomic RS:11 skis that were too stiff for me. I bought them as race skis, not having full appreciation for flex ratings of skate skis. Those skis utterly killed me at Rangeley a couple years ago in deep mashed potatoes snow. Got $200 for them in essentially new condition with Pilot bindings. Took a big hit there. I'm wondering if I should buy some World Cups? At this point, that would be little different than a Cat 4 Fred investing in Zipp 404's to improve his race results.

Borderland or Boulderland?

Saturday I sought to hit trails somewhere, anywhere that was rideable. I saw on the NEMBA forum that guys were riding in Borderland State Park just south of Boston. I decided to give it a try. It was much less risk than driving all the way down to the Cape to hit Otis or ToT where there was also snow. Half way to Borderland, the snow seemed pretty thin. I had visions of ripping around on a thin dusting of snow. But as I approached Sharon, the snow got deeper. In fact, there might have been more snow there than in the valley at Waterville. I sure hoped there was a lot of hiker traffic packing it down, as the forum posters suggested.

The rocky Ridge Trail at Borderland

I quickly realized riding was going to be anything but easy. The main thoroughfares were nicely packed, but the further away I got from park headquarters, the less packed the trails were. Lots of dismounts up steep rock pitches were required. I tried Quarry Tail but gave up on it. I was following a large set of fresh biker tracks, and from the looks of it, the Pugsley tracks faired the best.  It was my first time here, and I did think it would be a wicked cool place to ride in summertime. Looked very technical, giant boulders throughout, and lots of stuff to test your cajones on.

The Rockland Street Trail

I ended up bailing on most of the singletrack. I did come across the Bay Circuit Trail (called Rockland St Trail in Borderland) and started heading south on it. I speculated that most of the year it is a mucky quagmire, as I continuously felt ice cracking under my wheels. This trail had zero hiker traffic and was 4" of virgin powder. This rode better than anything else in the park. Popping out on Rockland Rd, I noticed ATV's packed an enticing route under powerlines. I hopped on that for a while, popping out on another road. After about two hours of riding, I figured it was enough for the day and headed back. Overall, it was good to be on the bike outdoors, but I bet riding closer to home could have offered similar conditions.

Borderland ride. Not sure what was going on with GPS
on Ridge Trail. Maybe it was getting as frustrated as I with
all the stop and go dismounting.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The fun begins

The Weston Tuesday night sprint series has started. With it, my training for the 2010 cycling season has commenced. I became a skatey-skier a few years ago as a means of maintaining fitness over winter. Learning the technique has been a slow, humbling experience. I continue to improve. Like golf, you could spend a lifetime perfecting the technique. My technique has a long way to go to catch up with my cardio ability carried over from the bike. I suspect as I get older and my VOmax wanes, I will still have the potential to get faster skating on snow. Technique is that important.

Tuesday night was the first test of my progress this season. A large crowd assembled for the first race of the series, over 80 skiers. We were seeded based on our average points earned per race last season. I was number 42. I lined up in row 10, half way back. There were 5 lanes. This meant there were over 40 skiers starting in front of me. One of my nemesis, BrettR, was two rows ahead of me. Better than behind me, so I could keep an eye on him.

We get the start, and I quickly double poled over the skis of the guy in front of me. That hasn't happened before. Maybe the double pole sessions on rollerskis this fall are paying off. The course was coned to take us up the flank of "Mt Weston." This turned into a major cluster. It was steeply off-camber and caused  intermingling of poles and skis. Poles were broken in this race, and I bet it happened here right after the start.

A minute in, I hadn't even gone hard enough yet to get my cardio up. There was that much traffic in front of me. I could see Brett way up, maybe 10 guys once the Mt Weston traffic jam thinned out. My glasses were painting a bullseye on that orange jersey. I started to rapidly pass guys as we headed out on the long straight away. At the hairpin turn on the far end, I caught up to the three man group Brett was leading. I took the inside line and drilled it hard. Brett had no idea it was me. This part of the course was all natural snow and was deep, loose granular. It had nice glide, but the softness sucked the life out of you.  There was slight headwind heading back on the straight away. I could not let Brett latch on. It is also slightly downhill here, so drafting really matters. Brett was going to have to earn closing down the gap I created.

I finished the first lap, now in no-man's land, without any of the guys I passed latching on. I could see Jamie with Marv in his draft well up ahead. I never beat Marv last year, and I thought if I could at least catch them, I'd be doing pretty good. I put in an unreal effort to catch them. Brett was still dangling not far behind me. It took most of lap two, but I caught them and recovered for a while.

Jamie maintained a pretty tough pace, and after the hurl threshold efforts I already put in, I decided to sit in until the finish. Marv seemed content to do the same. The finish area at Weston is groomed very wide, as much as 100ft. Lots of room to spread out and sprint to the death. I was pretty much redlined, so I wasn't sure where sprint energy was going to come from. Jamie's tempo was like half mine. V2'ing, he took massive strides. That's gotta be more efficient.  I could V2 only the slower parts of the course.

I used the initial downhill to run up in Jamie and Marv's draft, then went all-out to the right. Marv drifted back, and I could not make any ground on Jamie. I finished in 17th place overall, beating at least a few guys I haven't beaten before. I didn't even get girled, a first at Weston, but fast girls are at nationals this week. Colin was still catching his breath when I came through the finish, so I figured I had a pretty good race.  I finished the 4.85km race in just under 16 minutes.

You can suffer seriously hard in a short effort like that. It was easily the hardest effort I put in since the Mt Mansfield hillclimb last August.  I plan to get most of my intensity training over the next two months on snow. It is wicked fun and a change of modality in obtaining the endorphin fix.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Rock Salt Slurpee anyone?

I'm determined to stay off the trainer again this winter. Having ridden only once this week, I had to get some more spin in my legs, lest the cycling bits complete atrophy. With one of my new Nokian studded tires on the rear wheel and an old one still on the front, I went out for a ride after the plows were mostly done cleaning up the latest dump. When I rolled out, I didn't know the temperature had risen a lot, to around freezing. That meant the tons of salt laid down would be going to work. I didn't bother putting a rear fender on and regretted it.

Nokian Extremes are designed for winter travel. That means they have tall knobbies widely spaced apart to punch down through the snow and channel slush away. That also means they can pick up about two pounds of slush. The temperature was such that the tires picked up maximal slush and hurled it at me. Tasty stuff. Americans have a palate for sodium. 7-eleven could do brisk business with Rock Salt Slurpees. Just add some HFCS to sweeten it up a little.

It was still good to get out. My legs were pretty useless from nearly 100km of skiing this week. The conditions at Waterville Valley on Saturday were quite good even though snow fell all day further south.  I went up with SteveG and got in another 40km hammerski. Half of the skiers I saw were cyclists.

Trying to firm up a couple cycling trips for the first half of 2010.  Third weekend in March is looking like an extended weekend trip to Tucson. Tough call with that one, as that is the same weekend as the Sugarloaf ski marathon. I need to schedule these trips around my off-Friday weekends to stretch my limited vacation days. I'd like to go earlier, but that would be too disruptive to the ski season, and snow is more likely to be a problem at lower elevations in February.  The last week in May is blocked out for potential trip to Italy. This would coincide with the Giro in the Dolomites. It is a little early in the season for some of the high mountain passes. Stelvio is at the top of my list, the highest paved pass in Europe.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 Review

Man, it seems just like last year we were worried about Y2K. The first decade of the new millennium has blown by already. Seems like nothing has changed since Y2K. So here I am, filling out a powerpoint calendar with things I want to do in 2010. I put everything in, potential road, MTB, hillclimb and CX races. There's ski races. Family vacations. Cycling "training camps." As always, too many things fall on top of each other. I get only three weeks of paid time off from work each year too. That's not nearly enough to go on four or more cycling centric trips per year. I look forward to doing different things in 2010. Not because I was unhappy with 2009. Quite the contrary in fact. There's many places to go and events to experience. I'm not getting any younger. My racing age is now 48. Two more years I'll be able to jump another masters category in some races. I don't feel any older. Not yet.

So 2009 was a stellar year for me, not just in results, but in a much broader sense. I remained injury and illness free all year, barring a minor cold this fall. Training was never laborious. I never have followed a rigid training plan or hired a coach. I doubt I'm coachable material anyway. Instead, I plan fun types of riding that stresses my body in ways to achieve results I seek in competitive events. Hills are often involved, as are liberal doses of off-road riding. Some may think there is no structure to my training, that I'm just going out for fartlek rides each day. Not true. The structure is hidden in the rides. It just doesn't consist of rote blocks of 5-by-5 minute intervals with a PowerTap. In fact, this year I never used my PowerTap or HRM on the bicycle once. I've learned much about myself when I first started using these devices, but I've grown past dependence on this type of feedback. So what was so special about 2009?

Road Racing Results

After spending little time on the bike last winter, I fretted when the first road races of 2009 came along. Battenkill had a huge, stacked field. The course was run in reverse from prior years. The weather was iffy. And I podiumed. It was a weird race though, with Roger Aspholm guarding the front of our pack to ensure his teammate's win. Jonny Bold double flatted out too. With a large pack coming to the final climb five miles from the finish, I did what I do best. Solo TT to the line. Roger of course dropped me, but I held off about a half dozen CCC/Keltic guys and other contenders clawing for that final podium spot. Not a win, but 3rd place in that masters 40+ field was quite satisfying. Doubts about fitness began to subside.

Next up were Turtle Pond and Lake Sunapee, two spring classics of New England racing. I won the masters 45+ field at both races. Turtle Pond started as a two-man break the final time over Oak Hill. A few miles from the finish, I dropped Paul Wonsavage and TT'd in for a solo win. Sunapee was a four-man break-away for much of the race. I managed to out-sprint the other three coming up to the line. Sunapee was a sweet win indeed for me. Racing this course many times, I've never come close to the podium before.

I achieved another podium finish later in the summer at the Bow road race, the day after the grueling Mt Equinox hillclimb race. That was a bunch finish, a case where traditionally I just get out of the way and don't even try. The Sunapee and Bow results have led some to suggest to me I may in fact be more of a sprinter type than I think. I still need to do the max speed test on a flat road sometime that Solobreak suggested.

I went back to Ironcross in Pennsylvania again this fall. It was the only 'cross race I did in 2009. Ironcross bears nothing in resemblance to a Verge series race. It is more like a hybrid between Battenkill and the Vermont 50. I dearly wanted to podium the masters field. There are only two regular fields, open and masters 40+. Some serious competition shows up for this thing, more along the lines of pro mountain bikers than traditional 'cross racers. Coach Andy Applegate always wins the masters, and this year I finally stepped up on the podium with him with a third place finish. I still haven't subdued the cramp demons that plague me in this endurance events. I had moments where letters DNF were dancing through my mind.

Mountain Bike Racing

In 1999, I did my first mountain bike race, the only race I did that year. For the next few years, I raced only MTB and hillclimb events. Then the road racing bug bit me, and before I knew it, I had completely abandoned off-road racing. I still rode off-road lots though. In 2009, I got back into mountain bike racing in a big way, completing my first hundred miler, the Shenandoah Mountain 100. I also raced the locally famous Vermont 50 in pea soup conditions, and a few other EFTA and Root 66 races. No category wins, but solid results racing Cat 1 with a couple top 10 overall finishes. Some of these races I did after road or hillclimb races. Results were not an important objective. I had hoped to do better at the SM100 though. The cramping demons cut me down in a bad way. I plan to do more endurance racing in 2010, and cramping issues are something I plan to work on through training and nutrition.

Ski Racing

In 2009, I did more ski races than in prior years. Most of them were short, Tuesday night sprint races at Weston. Awesome anaerobic training and wicked adrenaline rush at the same time.  I did do a couple 50km marathons though, including going back to Lake Placid where I did my first ski race a few years ago. I was nearly an hour faster. I plan to do more ski racing in 2010. I joined NENSA and the CSU club. My goal is to finish 50k races sub-3hrs. I came close last season at Sugarloaf, finishing in 3:02. That is a long time to be going all-out, and the cramping demons that haunt me in long cycling events also taunt me on skis. There's no way to "sit in" the last hour of a ski race when you are bonking or cramping. It is all work.

Hillclimb Races

New on the northeast hillclimb scene in 2009 was the BUMPS challenge. I had been involved on the periphery of getting this started as a "racer advisor" to the hillclimb race directors. I was very excited to see something like this get organized. I never planned to go for the KOM jersey at the beginning of the season. The first hillclimb in the series, Whiteface Mountain in NY, went very well for me. I crushed my PR from a few years earlier by two minutes and place 4th overall. Okemo Mountain was next, and another PR and solid finish there put me in the overall lead. To claim my leaders jersey, I had to show up for Newton's Revenge on Mt Washington. I had not planned on doing this race. It's not cheap, but I really wanted one of those jerseys. If I didn't do Newton's, several other contenders were poised to take the lead and I would never see the jersey. I capitulated, zipped up a leaders jersey, and placed 4th overall. This kept me in the lead. Now the series became more of a big question mark for me. Would it be possible to keep the jersey all the way to the end? There were surely stronger climbers showing up, and any number of them could take the jersey from me if they did most of the remaining races. You gotta try, right? I had already signed up for the August Mt Washington race back in February anyway.

So I did all but one of the remaining races, just barely keeping the jersey to the end. I never overall won any of the races, but consistency is key here. Some years, the winner of the Tour de France doesn't win a single stage. Consistently placing well matters most.  When I think about it, winning BUMPS is really quite a marvel. I've been an asthmatic nearly all of my life and used to be 70 lbs overweight in my mid 30's. At 47, I won a climbing championship. Just goes to show what anyone can accomplish with commitment.


I went on four significant cycling trips in 2009. Family and friends trip to Hawaii in early April, spring training with Brett to North Carolina in late April, Colorado in August, and Tennessee at the end of October. Even if I never raced again, little would change in my training. Instead of training for races, I would be training for trips. The fitness I need for the kinds of racing I do is the same kind of fitness I need for the places I like to ride on trips. Lots of climbing is involved, often steeply at anaerobic levels. The weather cooperated on just one of the four trips, the solo trip out to Durango, CO. I had a flawless week out there. I'm so fond of epic rides in the high country that I would trade race wins for another week like that. I live for that kind of riding.


Ok, now for some boring stats from 2009. Interestingly, I rode the least number of miles and hours than in recent years. Surely a quality vs quantity thing going on here. Total cycling miles were about 7000, roughly two-thirds road, one-third off-road. Skiing hours were up though. I'm a firm believer that XC ski cross-training will improve your cardio base fitness by spring, not simply maintain it. I also believe XC skiing improves hip flexor strength, something many cyclist don't realize is weak until they try power cranks. Bringing hip flexors into power generation on the bike can improve efficiency. Below is a summary of my 2009 training distribution. I just achieved my overall aerobic training goal of 600 hours. What has changed dramatically from 2008 is I biked nearly as many mountain bike hours as road bike hours. I hope this pays dividends in a few 2010 off-road events.

Then next chart shows weekly training volume. Some will look at this and ask, "where's the periodization?" It's in there, but not in a planned, textbook kind of way. Many of those hours you see there are active recovery. Also interesting to note in 2009 is that I took the most complete rest days since I started a training log in 2002, 35 days.

My mean weight over 2009 was 164.3 pounds with a standard deviation of 1.8 pounds. Too much info you say? Yeah, probably. It is one of those things I'll probably stop keeping track of in 2010. It is sufficient to know that at my activity level, 160-165 lbs corresponds to 7-9% body fat, a healthy level for a guy my age.


If you made it this far, here's what I'm thinking for 2010:
  • More MTB races, including Leadville 100 and other hundred milers.
  • Potentially a European cycling trip.
  • Target fewer hillclimbs, leaving dates open for other events I haven't tried.
  • Sub three hours in a 50k ski race. Highly conditions dependent though.
  • Dabble more in CX? Have to see how I feel about it next fall.
In a nutshell, I don't plan to change a whole lot. I have fun training the way I do and stay healthy. Hard to argue with that. What you don't see in my list are more hillclimb PR's. I can't achieve them indefinitely, and there's so many other interesting things to try on a bike.  Thanks for reading, and I wish you a successful 2010.