Belg update

My cold is finally coming to an end and just in time too; the talk of all these amazing races, some just 10 kilometers from where I’m staying, is driving me nuts. Today I went on a ride with New Zealander Geoff and UK’er Justin. Justin’s been racing here off and on for a number of years and showed Geoff and I around a bunch of the cobbled climbs of Flanders, including the infamous Koppenburg, which was much rougher than I imagined. The cobbles were more like riding on boulders uncarefully poured over a concrete slab than actual cobble stones.

This just in: Michael Phelps plans on retiring after the 2012 Olympics. After an unimaginably successfully career of winning the most amount of Olympic medals, Phelps will dedicate the next chapter of his life to impregnating 500 women in a quest to produce the fastest free-stylists ever born. Each of Phelps’ 500 mating partners will go through a rigorous physical test, including a 45-hour session of treading water. Upon completion of the testing and seeding processes, Phelps’ 500 newborn babies will undergo a rigorous testing process of their own. While 497 of the babies will be shipped off to the nearest orphanage, the top three specimens will be raised under a strict training regime designed to produce a super-human 4-man relay team, for the final fourth child will reared purposefully to be a fat slob as the anchor in the relay. For this child’s creation, Phelps will impregnate an obese, diabetic, anemic, dwarf, albino woman to produce him, in hopes that this unfortunate baby inherits the majority of its mother’s genes. While the four athletic prodigies are trained to be the fastest swimmers imaginable, the fifth child will be trained only in the doggy paddle and will be fed an artery-richening diet of chili dogs, carnitas burritos, General Tsoa’s chicken, shrimp fried rice, dark chocolate Haggen Dazs bars, and root beer ice cream floats. After 26 years of training, “The Phelps Four and a Half” (as they’ll be affectionately called) will embark on their Olympic debut. This entire process will be in design to give the American public a truly epic Olympics to remember, with the goal of creating a dramatic finish worthy of viewers at home jumping out of their seats and screaming at the television in encouragement as the five-lap advantage that the three fast prodigies created shrinks to less than a quarter second by the time the fat slob reaches the finish in first winning Olympic gold, and then immediately dying of a massive heart attack and bobbing dead, face-down in the water as the three other brothers’ celebration slowly turns to confusion, then panic, then devastation as they realize what’s happened to the fat brother. The whole world will tear up during the many months of news show recaps, 60-Minutes documentaries, the thousands of interviews, the best selling books, the autobiographies of the three surviving brothers, the movies, the made for TV movie, the aftermath reality TV shows, and the McDonalds Happy Meal toys made to celebrate and remember the tragic victory of the Phelps Five and a Half. Michael Phelps is a cruel man, but knows what the American public wants to see and what advertisers want to sell.

Anyways, the ride went well. I didn’t cough too much and I’m planning on doing my first race this Wednesday. The apartment I’m staying in is owned by a guy who owns a bike shop and bike team called Farse Flanders Cycling or something like that. Most of the guys here ride for the team, which allows them to do more than just the standard kermesses. I might ride for it as well so I can get into some of the bigger races such as the ‘Interclub’ single-day races and stage races, as well as the bigger pro and invite-only races. Though the regular kermesses might be enough by themselves. Basically the reason I’m here is to get my ass kicked in enough to help me reach a new level for next year.

Here’s some photos of the day:

My half of the room.

The kitchen sink. Minus the most important part, meaning there are many trips to the bathroom sink for water.

Jake from England on a movie day since he raced yesterday.

Geoff and Justin

Steroid Cow

Net on the side of the road for Belgians to throw their beer cans without littering.

Lots of cobbles today

The tuber sponsor near our house really wanted us to have this giant turnip for our turnip mash.

Turnip mash with turnip, carrots, and some frozen fish. They have a huge variety of frozen fish at the stores here.

This is smoked kippered herring. As you know, I’m a huge fan of kippered herring.

No joke, this stuff is amazing.

To Belgium. Getting there.

Sunday.  Race, pack up, eat at Pilot Butte Burger, drive home in stupor.  Sleep.

Monday. Really tired and sick.  Sleep 13 hours.  Eat enormous salad.

Tuesday.  Wake up late.  Still sick.  Go to the Orthopedics.  Collarbone still broken.  Doctor says I can start riding again in a week or two.  I show him road rash from crash a few days ago.  He shakes his head.  Go home.  Pack.  Drive car to Jacob’s house and drop off empty bike box, duffle bag, and backpack.  Drive home and leave car behind.  Ride bike back to Jacob’s.  Eat dinner.  Pack bike in box.  Go to sleep.

Wednesday.  Wake up at 3:30 am.  Drive the Rathe’s car to downtown PGE Max light rail stop.  Get lost.  Miss first train.  Find the train stop and park car for Jacob to pick up later.  Drag bags and bike box to the train stop.  Realize increasing seriousness of upper body weakness. Get on Max train.  Hope it goes to the airport.  It goes to the airport.  Get off.  Drag bags to ticket booth.  Hope plane isn’t full since I’m flying stand-by.  Plane is not full.  Chug NyQuil at security gate.  Get on plane with 5 minutes to spare.  Sleep entire plane ride.

Still Wednesday I guess.  6 hours to kill before flight to Brussels.  Call bunch of people to log onto my email account and find a 1-week old email from guy named “Luc” and remind me what city I’m going to.  Sandwiches eaten since waking=4.  Sandwiches left=0.  Apples eaten=3.  Apples left=6.  Hours until destination=between 24 and ¥.  Need food.

A while later…

I made it to Belgium.  Pretty easily too.  I got on the plane without any issues since it wasn’t a very full flight.  My grandfather used to work for United Airlines and our family gets to use companion passes—discounted tickets with the risk of not getting on flights if they’re full.  Meaning I could potentially be stuck in an airport for days on end if there were consecutive full flights.  Works fine for me since my time has no value.

One of the perks to flying on companion passes, aside from the much more affordable price, is the chance to get into first or business class.  And despite not having a collared shirt, the travel agents like me enough to let me fly in business class, which was exactly the opposite of my time spent traveling on Greyhound.  I spent the majority of the trip worrying they’d find out I didn’t belong there and kick me back to coach with the rest of the livestock. As a precaution I grabbed a free edition of the Wall Street Journal as I boarded the plane—to fit in of course.  I read it as well as a Belgian newspaper with a large sports section on le Tour as I took my seat after boarding, and since I don’t speak Dutch, Flemish, French, or smart person I was pretty lost reading both.  At least the Wall Street Journal made me look important and dignified.  Up in business class there are certain standards to be upheld.  First of all, you have to divert your eyes when the low class scum walk by on their way to “economy” aka the poor man’s shit hole cargo bin where they throw everyone into a holding pen full of screaming babies, whining children, and state university-educated slobs wearing T-shirts and jeans.  To make eye contact with such imbeciles is unspeakable.  The other rules for being part of the elite (but not so elite you can afford First Class) is to blab on your phone before take off about a business deal with Johnson, wear polo shirts, ignore the flight attendants when they refill your drink, close all the window shades and sip champagne in silence as you rest your head back into your seat and close your eyes–showing everyone you’ve done this many times before and you take no trivial enjoyment out of it and are in fact bored and slightly impatient to get this uncomfortable trip over with because you’ve got important things to do and playing with the remote control to the giant TV screen in front of you would show just the opposite.

Up in business we sat in personal thrones that turned into full-length beds.  We had control of our own TV screens with movies, TV shows, games, porn, etc.  They served us hors dervies, warm salty nuts in a hot bowl, dinner, ice cream, hot towels, endless glasses of wine, and orange juice.  I almost didn’t want to go to sleep since I would be giving up valuable time and much fun to be had.  But my eyes grew weary as I finished my movie and I stretched out on my recliner and slept until they served breakfast, dreaming of livening in a mansion encrusted with rubies and pantries filled with éclairs and fancy cuts of roast beef.

Now it’s back to the real world: being confused and hungry.  I somehow managed to collect my bike box and duffle bag after we landed and found my way to the train station AND got on a train gong somewhere.  I think it’s going to the town I’m supposed to go to.  At first the woman at the ticket booth said my town “Zigem” didn’t exist.  After much confusion, she found out that there does exist a town called “Zingem” with an N.  So that’s where I’ve decided to go.  I’m sitting on the train right now as we head through Brussels.  It’s 11:15 AM here but 2:15 AM in west coast Kennett time.  It’s overcast and humid here, low 70’s and Enya’s on my ipod.  And I’m out of apples.

Ok I made my way to Zingem.  I navigated my two train rides perfectly and arrived in the quiet little town at around 12:30pm.  The location of the place I’m staying is known by its proximity to the McDonalds across the street.  So I drug my bike box, duffle bag, and backpack from the train stop to the street and asked the first person I saw where the McDonalds was.  She pointed and told me it was 20 minutes by foot.  At the pace I could go, hauling all my stuff, it would take me about an hour and a half.  I began the long walk and gave up about 2 minutes in and decided to build my bike right there on the sidewalk.  I got it built up pretty quickly in front of someone’s house and just left the cardboard box there.  Hopefully it’s still there tomorrow or whenever I can get a car to go pick it up.  It was on its last legs anyways.  It attached my race wheels to my backpack, grabbed the floor pump in one hand, loaded my duffle bag onto my back and the backpack around my neck and set off on the bike.  It was slow going and painful, the straps digging into my neck.  I couldn’t really pedal very well with the backpack and spare wheels in my lap and dragging on the ground. I was veering all over the road and crashed as a couple cars passed.  I swore loudly and one of the cars honked at me.  The floor pump was bent from the crash.  I loaded all the stuff onto my shoulders and neck again and tried it once more.  I stopped a few minutes later and decided to ditch the duffle bag and pump in a deep culvert on the side of the road next to a cornfield and come back for them later.  I scrambled back up out of the embankment to the road and hoped back on the bike.

I rode fast to the McDonalds, found the building across the street from it, and began wandering around trying to find a sign to lead me to the apartment flat that was shared by a half dozen random cyclists. The lower half of the building was comprised of closed apartment stores and a bakery.  I tried the doors and they were locked.  One wasn’t and I went in and up some stairs.  I had a stroke of good luck as three cyclists came down, heading out for a ride.  I’d found it just in time since they’d all be gone for hours and I would have been locked out and unsure of where the place was until they returned.  I quickly unloaded my backpack and race wheels and took off to the spot I’d ditched my duffle bag.

Now I’m here, waiting on the couch for the guy who owns the place to come and give me a bed or something later tonight. I just called him on Skype and I’m pretty sure he had no idea I was coming. It wasn’t as difficult getting here as I thought it would be. Seems strange that I’m already here too.

Disappointing end to Cascade

I didn’t finish Cascade this year.  I started getting sick on Friday and despite consecutive 12-hour nights of sleep, crushing fruits and vegetales, and praying to the immune system gods, I was done for by the weekend.  I woke up on Saturday feeling terrible and got worse as the day went on.  Fever, headache, body aches, cold sweats, nausea (though I still had an appetite of course), mucus, the usual works.  By race time that night I was still planing on at least giving it a shot, but after the 15 minute ride over to the crit course I was ready to call it quits.  It took quite a bit of convincing, but Joe got me to start the crit and see if I could just make the time cut and then pull out and conserve for the circuit race the next day (the hardest day of the race).  I made the time cut fairly easily and spent 35 minutes at the very end of the pack just tail-gunning and getting heckled by fat ass spectators to “try harder” and to “never give up.”  After a while I began laughing at the irony in what they were saying to me.

I woke up the next day and felt slightly better than I did the day before.  After three cups of dark coffee I was almost feeling good again.  My duty in the race was to get bottles for as long as I could and if I felt good enough, to conserve and try to make it to the finish.  I made it through the first lap with no problem, other than feeling very very sick and tired.  I did the second lap and my throat began closing up, but still I knew my legs were good enough to continue on.  My legs were still fine for the third lap but I was feeling bad enough that I began to worry about making myself too sick to recover in the next month for my trip to Europe, so I sat up.  I spent the next couple hours in a depressed daze while waiting with my teammates for the three survivors on our team to finish (Lang was our top finisher at 30th, followed by Logan and Cody).  I drank gallons of water but never felt satisfied and I was in a perpetual state of bonking, somehow not remembering that food cures bonks.  By the time I got home to our host house I was messed up enough to fall asleep on the toilet before I revived myself with a cold shower.  I’ve raced while being sick before, but never this sick.  I began to feel normal a few hours after eating a million calories at Pilot Butte Burger.

This has been the biggest let down all year.  After all those weeks thinking about Pilot Butte Burger, riding past it after my intervals, dreaming about it at night while my stomach grumbled hungrily in never ending complaint about being forced to settle for salad once again.  Pilot Butte Burger’s amazingly delicious and huge burgers were all I thought about for days on end and now…I couldn’t even taste anything.  My nose was too plugged up to enjoy the mouth watering beef, onion rings, bacon, and cheese on my BBQ burger.  The fries were ruined on me and my chocolate shake was just a cold, bland liquid.  It could have been just ice for all I knew.  Just ice!  Oh wait I got side-tracked.  Not being able to compete was the biggest let down.

Bigger even than breaking my collarbone last month.  After all those painful, excruciating intervals on O.B. Riley road and suffering up Pilot Butte while dreaming of the final stage of Cascade…just to get sick before I even got a chance at it.  It’s a cruel sport.  And it’s always a gamble.  Basically all that training was for one single race last weekend, White Rock.  Luckily I got a result, but it’s hard to imagine I did all that hard work and dieting just for one day of racing and that I’d get sick before I could put any of that good form to use again.  I knew I didn’t stand a chance in the mountainous stages at Cascade, but that circuit race is just my style.  There’s only so many chances each year, and lately they seem to all be slipping by.  I think I enjoy training more than most people do, but to spend all that time and not get to see it put to use is more than frustrating, it’s like really frustrating.  In the lead up to the race I did a total of 57 intervals in a period of 10 days for crying out loud!

I’m fortunate though that I even get to try any of this so I’ll shut up and put on a happy face now that I’ve got this complaint off my chest.  I’m looking forward to Europe (still not 100% sure where I’m staying, though I leave on Wednesday) and I’ll be back in mid September to WIN Univest Grand Prix!  Haha.  Better to have too much self confidence than too little.

Cascade Classic Stage 2 and 3

I’ve survived two crashes in this race so far.  One was on the bike.

The other happened Wednesday night at roughly 4 AM.  I woke up to close the window when I heard some roosters calling and I passed out from light headedness.  This has happened to me before, one time resulting in me landing on a printer and injuring my back.  A couple weeks later when I’d recovered, I smashed the printer with a hammer in revenge.  This time I fell against a wall, luckily head-first because I fell to the right (the side of my still-weak collarbone).  Next to hit was my shoulder.  I came to a few moments later, staring up at the dark ceiling not having any idea where I was or how I got there.  Slowly, things began to come back to me and I realized what had happened, and had a moment of panic as I tested out my shoulder, seeing if I had re-broken it.  Nope, all good.  I got up and went back to bed with a bad headache.

I was just finishing telling my teammates Ian and Steve about this the next morning when Lang walked in and heard the tail end of it and asked me, “What was that loud bang last night?  I thought you fell down the stairs.”  I said, “I passed out when I got up to close the window…wait, you heard it and thought I’d fallen down the stairs why didn’t you come see if I was alright?”

Of course, Lang couldn’t be bothered.  Or blamed of heartlessness for that matter.  Other than food, sleep is the most crucial aspect of recovery during stage races, and thanks to early starts here at Cascade the past few days, there is never enough of it.

Thursday was the time trial.  It hurt a lot and took me 32 minutes and 51 seconds.  I placed 119th.  Ouch.

I woke in the middle of the night with a sore throat, probably because I slept with the air conditioning on, which every bike racer KNOWS will make you sick.  I had bad dreams.

Friday was the Cascade Lakes road race.  It hurt even more than the time trial and the pain was spread out over 3.5 hours so it hurt for a lot longer too.  For the most part, my sore throat disappeared after eating breakfast and watching part of the Tour before heading to the race–our normal routine here now, which feels like we’ve been doing for weeks but it’s only been a couple days.  I felt good riding over to the race start.  It was going to be semi-hot (only mid 70’s actually) but that was good enough reason to break out our new summer jerseys, which are mainly white.

The race started out with a long neutral section which was so slow and easy that some people got off to walk their bikes because balancing on them without any forward motion was too difficult.  After a couple miles of neutral, I took the downhill corner onto the non-neutralized section first, ready for the cross wind false flat and looking to follow the attacks.  Turned out there was still another kilometer of neutral and I ended up not attacking, which was wise because we started out with a 14 mile climb up to Bachelor.  I had never made it up this climb before with the main group; the past two times I’ve done this race I’ve been off the back in a groupetto all day long trying to make the time cut.  I was pretty worried about it today, though I knew I was in better climbing shape and also lighter.  Things began to get hard about 25 minutes into the climb as we approached the long flat section close to the top of Mt. Bachelor (after that it kicks up again).  It’s vital to make it in the main group at least to this flat section, otherwise you’re 100% screwed.  The pack had split up with some large breakaways up the road, but for the most part it was still all together and likely coming back over the top of the climb (which it did).  I was still feeling pretty comfortable, especially compared to last year, and I knew I’d make it with no problems this time.  Until some idiot crashed me.

We were the only two that went down.  I suffered only minor road rash and luckily had crashed on my left side.  I got up and tried to get my bike sorted out as quick as possible.  The bars were crooked and the shifters were both bent in and the front wheel was flat.  I tried forcing the bars back to normal at the stem, but couldn’t get them to budge.  I ended up having to get a neutral bike, the whole process taking 3-5 minutes, though it felt like hours–I mean like seven or eight minutes maybe.

The caravan was long gone.  Winger had waited for me, and Joe helped me get back up to the tail end of the dropped riders.  With quite a bit of effort I made my way up through the caravan and got onto the back of a large group of dropped riders.  We caught the peloton on the descent after a few miles and from there on a lot of the race was pretty easy (easy as in no 40 minute climbs).  I got into one promising breakaway that contained two Bissels, a Kelly Benefits, a Chipotle, and a Pure Black racer but my coach and former teammate, Sam Johnson, didn’t want me to steal any of his thunder and lead the charge to bring us back (just kidding, but only sort of).  I spent the rest of the hour or so that was left until the final climb just sitting in and conserving for the gut and brain-busting climb up the shorter but steeper side of Bachelor.  The final climb hurt a lot and I finished in a large group 2:05 down on the leader, which was Cesar Grajales again (he won the first stage).  I was in a group with Steve and Ian and I gave Ian a fake push for motivation as we crested the final steep section. If I’d given him a real push I would have dropped myself.  Lang was our highest placer today and finished 25th in a group that was only 35 seconds down.

The crit is this evening and I’m definitely sick now and I feel like shit, even after 12 hours of sleep last night.  Luckily today is the easiest stage to have a head cold for and tomorrow I’m planning on being recovered.

Cascade prologue and stage 1

I don’t have anything too exciting to write about compared to my last race report.  The last two days have yielded zero outstanding performances.  Last night we had a 2 mile prologue with an exciting parking lot turn around with a lot of cones, barricades and curbs.  I went slow here and took the corners like an old grandpa with a walker where the tennis balls have fallen off and the metal legs scrape and drag on the ground and get caught on cracks and trip the old man up.  For some reason no one told me that in order to get a good time you had to go fast around the corners.  There were 14 corners in 2 miles!  I got 14 problems and a bitch aint one, hit me!  My legs were good though and I pumped out just under 500 watts for a little under four minutes.  That was good enough to earn me 103rd place!  How is that possible?  Am I that un-aero?  Did the fast guys do 600 watts?  Did they take the corners fast and just do 500 watts?  I’d like to know but no one ever wants to talk about power numbers.  It’s too bad we can’t take a practice run for technical courses such as this one, kind of  like they get to in luge and ski runs.  102 people didn’t need a practice run to beat me though.  No excuses.

This morning we tackled the short but painful 73 mile McKenzie Pass road race, which starts in a parking lot way up in the mountains somewhere, descends for 25 miles, then climbs a 17 mile climb (McKenzie Pass) descends into Sisters, then climbs up another mountain to finish at a snow park, though I failed to see any of the much anticipated snow (liars).  So we started out with a nice long descent and got good and chilly (not the food kind of chili).  I was wearing a wind vest and Spencer’s arm warmers, so I was only slightly cold.  Some of my other teammates were less prepared and went sans arm warmers.  Ian had on a pair of natural hair arm warmers, so he was fine.

Maybe 10 miles into the race, a HUGE crash sent bikes flipping through the air ten feet high, bodies went soaring and tumbling like bowling pins, and a giant cloud of dust and smoke formed a haze like that from a recently fired canon.  30 or 40 guys went down in a pile that resembled a rugby scrum.  I was at the very back of the 200-man pack at the time, just takin ‘er easy, and the wind in my ears combined with the distance I was from the crash made it so I couldn’t hear any of the carnage.  It was as if it was an explosion in space, soundless and therefore even more eerie and sickening.

Spencer got caught up in the crash and Winger slammed his brakes and power slid, blowing up his tire.  Both were able to catch back on since the remaining pack politely waited and took some pee breaks.

After the crash people took it a bit easier, at least it felt a lot easier than last year, but that’s also because Phil wasn’t there to tell me to attack on the descent.  I sat in near the back.  Drank a bottle, peed, took my wind vest and arm warmers off, then slowly made my way to the front.  Everyone else was attempting to do this and the road was packed all the way across.  I was still 80 guys back as we started the climb, but continued moving up during the lower slopes.  I was pretty worried about getting gapped off once things began heating up.  Fortunately I got all the way to the very front just as the pace went up a notch.  I maintained 15th or 20th wheel for quite a while as attacks went and came back.  Guys began blowing up and I began to hurt as well.  Someone went cross eyed or something and caused a big crash (uphill) to the front and left of me.  I slowed and avoided it, irritated to have to sprint to get back onto the wheels in front.  A few minutes later someone else crashed and took out the guy right in front of me.  I slammed my brakes on and unclipped, came to a stop, went around, took forever to successfully clip back in, and then sprinted to get back up to the lead group.  This right here was the beginning of the end for me.  I had just been holding in there, not blowing up, just surviving in the dark orange.  Now I was in the red and there was no recovering.  I dropped out of that group.  Other groups came and passed me by.  I’d jump onto the tail end of them, hold on, blow up again, “soft” pedal, get passed, jump on, blow up….It went on for a while until I finally recovered.  I hammered away from the few riders I was with, trying to regain contact with the last group that had passed me.  I didn’t quite make it before the climb evened out and became flat and rolling for the next five or eight miles.  I rode with Dan Harm from here on out.  We crushed it the rest of the way up the climb, both having recovered significantly since our implosions.  Then we drilled the descent and flat section through Sisters, amazingly gaining time on the group in front of us (it was still barely in sight though and several minutes up the road).  Dan was taking some big pulls, longer pulls than me.  But I was going up the climbs quicker, so we made a good two-man breakaway.  Nothing like a break off the back trying to get to the front.

Eventually we parted ways on the final climb and I came in a disappointing 129th, 14 minutes down on the leader.  This was especially upsetting because I had felt really strong for the first 20 minutes of the climb, even when it started getting steep, and thought I was going to make it all the way.  I just crapped out all of a sudden and it was game over.  I think my v02 is really good right now and I’m able to get by with that for shorter efforts up to 10 minutes or so, but my threshold is lacking.  If I’m right about this I should have a great day on the Aubrey Butte circuit race on Sunday, which is all power climbs and hard false flat tail wind sections no longer than 5 minutes.  I feel a lot better than last year, though my result today didn’t quite show that.  I guess I’ll know for sure after the Bachelor stage this Friday.  I’ve yet to make it up the first climb in the main group.

How my teammates did: Lang crushed it and placed 35th, besting many pros that are supposedly faster than him.  Logan came in second for our team around 60th or 70th.  Four of the guys (Ian, Steve, Winger, and Cody) came in a few minutes after me in a large group, and Spencer had a bad day after crashing hard and limped in solo to fight another day.

Tour de White Rock: Peace Arch Road Race

This weekend was some of the best-run racing I’ve done this year.  The City of White Rock and the BC Superweek organizers know how to put on a great show for the racers and the spectators.  The rest of North American racing: take note.  And people are so nice in Canada!  USA, wtf??  Get with the program.

Mango-peach-pineapple-banana-orange juice was a bad choice.  I fought back vomit numerous times throughout the three and a half hour race yesterday.  The other day before the race, while at the supermarket, I had chosen a tasty looking can of frozen juice concentrate to use as race fuel, along with my assorted Hammer Nutrition products.  I divided the can of frozen juice equally among the two water bottles that I started the race with.  It was a pretty thick concoction of juice sludge.   Very thick and syrupy.  And it gave me terrible acid reflux.  But it tasted pretty good, so it’s hard to say if it was a good decision or a bad one.  At one point, while I was at the front of the breakaway group I burped up a huge mouthful of warm juice.  My cheeks bulged, as did my eyes in surprise.  I couldn’t just spit it out since I was on the front.  It would no doubt splatter all over the guy behind me, which I think was Brad Huff at the time and he would have likely been quite angry had I covered him in juice throw up–and it would have been obvious that it was throw up and not just juice because I hadn’t been drinking out of my bottles recently.  So I swallowed the still sweet but now bile-tasting tropical juice and hoped it would stay down this time.  It did, for the most part.  At the time I still had almost a full bottle of juice left, and had to continue drinking it since I was out of all my other nutrition.  As my teammate Chris Wingfield would say, “Piss poor planning gets piss poor results.”  In this case he’d be partially correct, but not fully.  I placed 2nd.  Very close to the biggest victory of my cycling career, but just lacking the tinniest bit at the end.  If only I hadn’t spent so much time concentrating on keeping the damn juice in my stomach.

Though the juice thing did happen, it had nothing to do with how my race unfolded.  In fact, I’m pretty happy with how the race went.  The podium was definitely decided by who had the best legs at the end.  It was that kind of course.  A strong man’s course.  Steep, short power climbs.  Lots of corners, lots of accelerations, lots of pain, lots of excitement.  Here’s how it went down:

We started off at the wee hour of 9AM, which in Canook land is actually closer to 8AM since it’s further away from the equator and thusly further from the sun.  Chris and I were groggy and tired that morning as we woke at 6AM, the previous day had been filled with strenuous activities such as stacking rocks by the water and eating chicken burgers down by the docks in Vancouver, and then getting locked out of Chris’ grandparents’ house and having to climb through the upstairs window to get in.  The 134 kilometer stage loomed on my mind’s horizon as I prepared my morning feast.  For breakfast: 1/2 cup of steel cut oats with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and two bananas.  Two eggs, two pieces of bacon, small serving of potatoes with veggies.  2 liters of water.  1.5 cups of coffee.  Fueled for a day of suffering, we headed out the door and drove over to White Rock for the race.

I was very confused about the course.  There were multiple circuits, figure eights, short laps, long laps, different lap numbers to remember, cones…I had no idea what was going on ever.  Which is not abnormal.  So I pretty much decided I’d ride hard at the front for the first lap or two and figure things out when we got going.  Turns out there were 17 laps total.  11 of which were on the long course which was a 10km figure-eight loop that went past the start/finish and included two super steep climbs.  Then after those were completed there were 6 laps of a 3.8km course that also went through the start/finish but only included one of the steep climbs (it was basically half of one of the long circuits).

The race got underway and I found myself in the top ten over the first climb, I staid up there and then went to the front a short while later to drill it over the top of the longer, steeper climb.  That created a gap with three of us off the front.  We rotated through a few times and (I’m already having trouble remember the details here but I think…) about ten guys eventually bridged up to us well before the lap was through.  Things whittled down fairly quickly over the next two laps until we were just nine, composed of three Louis Garneau riderers, two Trek Red Trucks, one H&R Block, One Jelly Belly, one Kelly Benefits, and me.  I felt strong the entire day, but tired to conserve as much as I could without compromising the life of the breakaway.  We had 1-2 minutes for the majority of the day, so I never sat on.  No one really sat on today, though some riders pulled harder than others.  On the hills I found it most comfortable on the front setting the pace, and ended up leading the group up the harder climb about half the time.  This type of course suits me very well.  In fact I believe this course was designed specifically for me.  The climbs were just short enough and just long enough for me to feel at ease.  At as much ease as you can while pumping out 4-5 hundred watts over and over again up 15% grades.

Mid way through the race H&R Block’s star rider Sebastian Salas bridged across to us from the diminished field…solo.  Making up a minute gap.  A few laps later he blew the breakaway apart and we were down to six guys heading into the short laps: Tim Abrecrombie and Jason Thompson (Louis Garneau), David Vukets (Red Truck), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly), Sebastain Salas (H&R BLock) and myself.  Here it began to get tricky.  Louis Garneau had two guys at this point, while the other four of us were teammateless in the break.  We had 2.5 minutes on the chasers, so there was plenty of time to play cat and mouse.  A $50 dollar gift certificate for the first person to cross the line with 5 laps to go persuaded us to sit up and stare at each other even more.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the gift certificates were for one of the many fine ice cream establishments in White Rock along the beach front.  I’d been salivating over those ice cream shops for the past couple days, dreaming of Rocky Road and fudge swirl.  I didn’t contest the prime sprint though, and instead counter attacked right past the finish line to see if I could sneak away.  Didn’t work.

We attacked, sat up, chased, attacked, pulled through slowly, attacked and so on for the next four laps.  Brad Huff had been dropped by now.  The two LG teammates had been riding wisely and had been launching moves and sitting on while the other three of us brought them back.  It looked like it would all be together heading into the final time up the hill ( which is followed by a fast, technical descent and a 180 degree corner for a final 300 meters heading back to the slightly uphill finish).  Near the base of the climb, out of nowhere came Huff streaking by all of us.  We’d sat up too much and he’d been able to catch us.  All five of us simultaniously said, “Oh shit,” as he came by.

He was chased down though, and then we faced the climb one last time.  It was the 17th time we’d been up it.  We shed Huff again as we began ramping up the pace.  I had planned on sticking on Sebastian’s wheel, because I thought he was the strongest.  I’d been thinking all day long about tactics, knowing that I could win as long as I played everything very wisely and always staid attentive.  As for the finale, if you could come out of the final corner in second or third wheel it would be ideal for taking the sprint.  Though this final hill was steep and long enough that I figured we’d pretty much all come in with time gaps and the race would be won with a solo effort launched on the climb.  Tim attacked.  His teammate sat up on the front.  I sat behind Sebastian, waiting for him to go around and bring it back.  He didn’t.  No one else did either.  Tim’s gap was growing and I finally decided to just do it myself (this whole ordeal took me about 5 seconds of thinking, so not that long).  I jumped around the three guys in front of me and started closing in.  I looked back, expecting the other guys to be on my wheel, but they were already gapped off by quite a bit.  I realized no one had been trying to be tactical, they were just all at their limit.  It was up to me to close the rest of the large gap to Tim.  The rest of the climb was about a minute long going all out.  I couldn’t get any closer to him, and staid about seven or eight seconds behind.  I was finished.  My legs were shot.  I was going all out and felt like I was just barely going forwards.  I looked back to see David coming up on me.  He was still pretty far back though, and I knew that as long as I didn’t crash on the final corner I’d take second place.  I rocked my back back and forth a few more times in desperation to make up time on Tim, crested the climb, flew downhill and took the corner pretty hot, then gave a semi sprint to the line to make sure I didn’t get passed in the final few hundred meters.  Second place.  I had been telling myself the last half hour that I was going to win.  I HAD to win.  I WOULD win.  Second or third or fifth would be a huge let down.  And it was.

I felt I had been so close to a breakthrough performance.  I sort of had one, but not quite.  So close.  I was cheered up when I realized I’d won more money in 3.5 hours than I knew how to spend.  I could afford chocolate dipped waffle cone triple scoop with sprinkles on top.  I could get a banana split.  A milkshake AND and ice cream cone!  The podium presentation was pretty cool too, and afterwards Winger and I made off with armloads of free bars, food, and samples form the vendor’s tents.  I almost got some ice cream, but thought better of it.  And ate a box of cookies instead.  Gotta watch my weight for Cascade.

Our rock tower was the tallest in the land, greatly surpassing the puny competition.  I felt like tipping over all the other rock towers– their insignificant stature brining shame and embarrassment to the rock tower gods after our great tower was constructed.

Me “I’ve never gotten to speak on a microphone before.”

Race announcer “Well you can say anything you want.”

Me “Hmm, I don’t really have much worth saying.”

Tour de White Rock Results 2011. Prologue.

I did not win.

I thought I would.  I knew I would.  I would have even bet money on myself.  Dag nabbit I would have lost a lot of money!

The race: 700 meters up a very, very steep hill.  Nice and simple.  Just go as hard as you possibly can for a little under two minutes.

Winger and I were the only two HB’ers present.  Neither of us went fast enough to make the top five.  I was pretty depressed.  I know I shouldn’t have come into this race with huge expectations, seeing as I broke my collarbone five weeks ago.  But that excuse did NOT even register in my mind over the last few weeks while I dreamed about this race over and over again while absolutely killing myself doing daily double interval sessions.  And I refuse to use that as an excuse right now, even though mentioning it is basically using it as an excuse…so forget I even mentioned it.

I’ve been thinking of this race, this prologue more specifically, ever since my teammate Spencer told me about it last fall.  If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know how much I like 1 minute efforts and steep, short climbs.  You’ve heard me brag about my 1 minute power numbers and how I consider myself to be practically unbeatable in this discipline, save for a head to head battle with Sir Chris Hoy (kilo world record holder).  And if you didn’t know this about me, now you do.  And you also know how wrong I am.  All my bragging about my strength over one minute has been futile.  Because today I SUCKED!!! What the hell?!! No, this situation calls for some foul language, god damn it.  What the FUCK!!!! is more like it.

You may be thinking, “Now hold on Kennettron, 1 minute is not quite the same as two.  And don’t you weigh like 230 kilograms?  You really expect to win against Will Routley?”  And to that I’d say, “Pint off.  1 minute is basically the same as two and yes I did expect to win against Will Routley!”

After the massacre on my body was over I felt like I was in a bad dream.  No way could I not make the finals in an event like this!!  You know that feeling you get when you KNOW you’re going to win a race or have a super good day?  I had that feeling about today.  I didn’t necessarily have that feeling today, but I had it about today for the last six months.  Maybe that was the problem.  Note to self: preconceived concepts don’t necessarily hold true.  Amazing.

I blew the F up about 1 minute into the prologue and completely died with roughly 50 seconds to go, meaning I was hurting for quite a long time.  There is no possible way I could have tried any harder.  Not even .0001% harder.  A lack of effort was not the reason I did so poorly.  I’d like to blame it on lack of fitness, which is usually my excuse for not winning and I feel like it’s a pretty dang good excuse too.

Let’s back up a bit.  First of all, you should know some facts about the race.  So here’s the way the race went down:

You line up next to one other guy at the base of the hill.  The two of you go for time, trying to get under 1:50.  The top 5 guys get to go again when everyone is done and the podium is decided on placing.  So technically you could set the fastest time of the day and only place fifth if you did poorly in the final.  Being extremely cocky today, this was my main concern. ha.

I think my time was 1:52.  The slowest qualifying time for finals was 1:48 I believe.  I could be wrong though, I don’t know the real results yet.  In fact I don’t even know who won, but I think Will did.

Anywho, I went against a fast guy from Red Truck (Cody) and he beat me.  He started out quicker than me for the first hundred or two hundred meters, I caught and passed him, I blew up, he passed me, he blew up, I started gaining on him, we crossed the finish line and the race was over.  I don’t know results yet but I think he got me by about 4 seconds, which is pretty substantial for this short of a race.  Hats off to him.  Or “rats” off to him if you’re a fan of Tom Goes to the Mayor, which you should be because that show is stupid funny.

For the next ten minutes or so I was in a stuper.  Massive headache, weak arms, weaker legs, blurred vision, holding back vomit, completely dazed and confused.  I seriously felt like I’d eaten a pot brownie, not that I’d know what that would be like.  Seriously.

I spent the next 45 minutes anxiously awaiting the results so I could know whether or not I’d get to go again.  I was in fifth place for a long time, just on the edge of making it into the finals.  Then at last they finally updated the results and I think I got bumped down to 50th or something.  Haha maybe not that bad.  I don’t know yet.  It was raining by then, I got really depressed, I was in awe at the lack of legs I had today.  This morning I went on a ride and felt like absolute pint.  Just awful.  Same as yesterday’s ride.  But after consuming roughly 625 mg of caffeine before warming up this evening, I was feeling pretty alright (that’s an exaggeration.  I feel like I need to start pointing out when I’m being sarcastic on my blog after I read a study about how most conservatives don’t realize Stephen Colbert is not actually a hard core republican).  Sarcasm is the least understood form of comedy.  Seriously.  Anyways, my victory was not to be.  I usually don’t get this worked up about doing crappy, but this race was different for some reason.  It was a race that I knew I could do well in–if the sensations were good.  I swear I’m not just talking myself up!! Honest!  Don’t beleive me, eh?  Well screw you, you pinting son of a pint.  I’ll show you all next year!!

All in all, I’m happy I’m able to race my bike so soon, happy that it’s summer, happy that I get to spend time with my good friend and teammate Chris Wingfield (haha JK), and even happier that I didn’t re-break my collarbone as I strained every muscle in my body to the absolute max to get up that damn hill today.

Hammer Nutrition’s Pre Race formula. Lots of caffeine and the phytonutrient quercetin–to take you up a level like drinking the goldenly delicious liquid of Lance Armstrong’s urine (FRS).

Cody and I at the start line. Each getting a nice pre-race ass massage from the two friendly people behind us.  My heart rate was already at 150 I think. And my entire body was shaking. I was jacked and ready to go…mentally. Obviously not physically. Duh.

*updated: I got 11th.  Will Routley won.

Video of proper catfishing technique

I made some amazing oats this morning.  Probably the best I’ve ever had.  Granted, I went to bed starving and was dreaming of food all night, but these oats were the bees ankles.  Very good. Here’s how to make them.

Directions for the best oats you’ll ever eat:

-1/4 cup of steel cut oats. Cook them for about half an hour, adding water as needed when is starts to get low. The longer you cook them the better they’ll be. Soaking them overnight will shorten the amount of time they need to be cooked.
-add about 1/2 cup of ripe bing cherries.
-half a banana
-1/2 cup of blueberries
-mix in all that fruit after the oats are already fully cooked. Only cook the fruit in the oats for about 2 minutes. You don’t want to zap out all the vitamins.
-next add a fair amount of salt
-throw in some pumpkin pie seasoning, or cinnamon if you don’t have any pumpkin pie seasoning
-a little vanilla extract
-next get out some vanilla ice cream out of the freezer
-throw the pot of oats away
-eat the ice cream

No but seriously, make these oats the way I said and then add a large spoon-full of vanilla ice cream. Best oats I’ve made in a long time. To make an even better tasting bowl of oats, double the ingredient quantities. No brainer.

I didn’t have a picture of the oats. So this will have to do. This is some toast with peanut butter, strawberry jam, and kippered herring. It was also very good.

The past two weeks of training have been a desperate attempt to get fit as fast as possible for Cascade. I have no idea whether or not it worked. My collarbone has healed miraculously in the past month and I’m able to stand up out of the saddle with no pain. I wasn’t sure if training hard while it was still broken would slow down the healing time, but whatever. It had to be done. So I did daily doubles just about every other day. A mix of 12, 4, and 1 minute intervals. Mostly 4 and 1 minutes. A two hour ride in the morning with 6×4″ and a two hour ride in the evening with 10×1″. Mine and my coach’s (Sam’s) theories were that high intensity would create the most gains in the least amount of times. I added in the idea of the daily doubles. With a few longer rides thrown in, the last two weeks I’ll have done a little over 40 hours with more intensity than I’ve ever done in my life. Surprisingly my legs still feel fine. Yesterday, a rest day after a hard day before, I began to question if I was training hard enough since I could pedal above 200 watts without too much difficulty. Usually after a really hard day my legs are so eff’d, sorry “pinted,” that I spend a recovery day just creeping along the road at 150 watts. So maybe I haven’t been training as hard as I thought. I’m not sure anymore. Everyone’s definition of hard is different. Anyways, the pain is there. And the only thing that really matters in this sport is your ability to suffer. And that, I’m positive I’ve trained well the last two weeks. So I present to you the second workout of the day, a short video clip of some intervals I did with my favorite interval playlist to go along. Catfishing here at it’s finest. Note: laughing will not be permitted while watching this video. This is a serious blog about serious, fact-oriented training and racing only.

WordPress is dumb. I can’t embed videos directly into the post without paying money. Screw you wordpress, get with the times.

VERY Important news that you need to read


Lately I’ve been wondering if different sized, aged, and speeds of animals have different perceptions of time.  Not just different perceptions, as the broad meaning of the term goes, but if they actually visually perceive things at different speeds.  Take an ant for instance.  They don’t live very long and they move extremely fast, so fast I can’t even see what they’re really doing.  It’s all super twitchy to me like they’re in a strobe light.  They move so fast I can only see half of what they’re doing.  They must be able to see really fast too.  Next, take a Galapagos tortoise for comparison: super big, super slow, they live for 200 years.  My brother and I were not that impressed when we saw them in the wild, which wasn’t really the wild at all, but a 2-acre fenced in area in the woods with a 2 foot tall wall.  Any animal that can’t climb a 2 foot wall probably deserves to be turned into soup.  At first glance they were definitely cool, just being that big and old was something to consider.  But after a while I realized they were just too slow to be awe-inspiring–just like ants don’t really care about us because we’re too big and slow for their high speed, high anxiety, go-go-go High Rev. Mocha lifestyles where deadlines for that June expense report need to be met or else Johnson will be over your ass like a rabid orangoutang and you’ll have to work Saturday to get it finished and miss the one weekend a month that you have with the kids and your Ex, Margaret, will be really riled because she was using this weekend to visit some college friends on the east coast that she hadn’t seen in 12 years and now that she’ll have to cancel her trip because you have to work this weekend or get fired, she’ll talk even more trash about you to the kids behind your back–all while her boyfriend, Darner (what the hell kind of name is that you wonder?), that lives with your kids  moves in on your family and your youngest girl, Cynthia, has even started calling him Daddy–all this could be avoided though if the damn High Rev. Mocha machine at the Circle K had been working–then you wouldn’t have bonked on your last big ride on Sunday and would have come into work the next day on Monday with enough energy to get the week going right and finish up that June expense report on time before the weekend but now it’s too late since it’s 7:58pm on Friday and you’re not even half way done yet and your computer just froze.

So the tortoises…they move slow and live a long time.  Their perception of time must be slow too.  Opposite of ants.  So if they were to watch a fungus grow, to them it would appear to us like a time-lapse shot, moving and changing, bending around and getting larger right before their very eyes.  Think of how strange it would be to have to continually divert your direction while walking because trees kept magically sprouting up right in your path.  Another point is this: do an ant and a tortoise accomplish the same amount in their lifetimes?  An ant living 6 months and a tortoise 180 years?  The same distance covered even?

I’ve been covering some ground lately.  Not necessarily huge miles or hours, but some hard workouts.  The day before yesterday I did my first daily double workout in a long time.  V02 intervals in the morning and 1 minute intervals in the evening.  It was a super hard day.  You can’t really describe how much pain a day like that is with words, so tomorrow, when I plan to do a similar day of intervals, I’m going to tape my camera on backwards to my handlebars and document some good old fashioned cat-fishing.  Cat fishing (the term attributed to the facial expression made when a rider is in a great amount of pain due to oxygen depravation) is a long standing Peterson tradition.  The exercise doesn’t have to even be that painful to carry out a good catfish or grimace, my dad has been witnessed to produce amazing facial torque even when lifting non-heavy objects that he thinks will be heavy but really aren’t.

But of course the best cat fishing is done while on a bike during a race or intervals.  It can serve three purposes: the most common and important being 1) to maximize oxygen flow as imminent blowing up is about to happen or, 2) to intimidate opponent with loud, ragid breathing or, 3) to trick opponent into thinking you’re about to blow up when in fact you still have an extra gear–fooling them into going harder and trying to drop you, only for you to come around them and attack once they sit up a bit.

I’ve written about the catfish face before, but in case you forgot or didn’t hear about it: imagine a catfish out of water, desperately trying to gulp in air–but failing of course since catfish don’t have lungs.  The trick to it is that a catfish can survive out of water for hours, and while it appears they might be just about to die, once you throw em back in the water their fine.  Same goes for the concealed catfishing face–that number (3) on the list of purposes a catfish face serves.  If you know how to suffer properly you can catfish for hours on end and still take the sprint by surprise by at the end.

Speaking of fish, if I had to chose three foods to live off of for the rest of my life I would choose bananas, peanut butter, and kippered herring.  I think the combination would actually make a great pre-race meal.  If I had to choose only one food to live on for the rest of my life it would definitely be kippered herring (Kippered Snacks to be more specific).  If you haven’t tried them, you’re an idiot.  And if you tried them and don’t like them you’re an idiot that deserves to be shot.  They’re everything you could want in a canned fish.  Pungent fishy oder, salty after-taste, slight crunch of bone, oily, and simply mouth watering.  I’m salivating just thinking about them!!  They come in three flavors that I know of: regular, lemon-pepper, and tomato.  I’ve never had tomato before because I like the regular and lemon-pepper flavors so much.  I’m always on the look out for a good Kippered Snacks deal whenever I’m at the store.  It’s quite often the first aisle I go down.  The problem is, they’re usually not on sale.  And when they aren’t on sale they’re like a $1.45 a can, which is a god damn rip off because it’s just a tiny piece of fish in a can! It should be cheaper than fresh fish but it isn’t, because it has “added value” from processing, just like potatoes that have been fried in cheap oil and turned into potato chips.  The mark up on added value consumables is ridiculous and we’re all a herd of stupid sheep for going along with it and paying $4 for a box of cereal that’s only made up of corn, corn oil, and corn sugar.  So that’s why I’m going on a Kippered Herring strike.  I refuse to pay more than a dollar per can and I won’t be purchasing any Kippered Herring until I see a drastic drop in price all across the board–not just at Win-Co.  Please join me in picketing outside the Fred Meyers tomorrow morning and we can display how inefficient efficient Democracy in a Capitalist-run world really is!

No photographer has ever been able to capture an image of an unopened can of Kippered Snacks.  Their deliciousness is too overwhelming and immediate consumption must be pursued.

Also of importance in my life events (and I say this not to be crude, immature, or silly, but out of pure seriousness, integrity, and mind-baffling awe of the human body): last night I farted for 45 seconds straight.  I shit you not.  And I wasn’t estimating either, I was watching a ticking clock.  Sadly this is nowhere near the world recored, which I looked up after completing the great feat.  The world record is 2 minutes and 42 seconds.