So many things have happened in the past three weeks since my last post that I don’t have time to do a good job writing about them. So many things, in fact, that I cannot even remember most of them. My brain has space for approximately one week of new information before it starts to forget the old. It forgets things on either end of my life, either things that happened years ago in the beginning, or it starts a chemical peel of the most recent stuff. If I don’t get it out in a blog post soon enough, it’s gone forever. So I’ll make an attempt to re-remember the events from the past three weeks since my Dan Harm weekend. Here we go: I slept for roughly 3/7ths of the time. During the other 4/7ths I ate a few large burritos, I ran over three already dead snakes on the road, I finished my tube of toothpaste, I finished a miniature tube of toothpaste, I brushed my teeth for a few days without any toothpaste (dag nab it!), which is not very satisfying, my dog Thomas ate a miniature tube of toothpaste that I found in a box at home and so I was forced to continue brushing my teeth with nothing but water, and then finally I found one more miniature tube of toothpaste this morning so now I have toothpaste again and I’m looking forward to brushing my teeth with full satisfaction tonight.
Okay, maybe a random list format isn’t the best way to go about all my adventures of the past month. I’ll try the conventional way instead and list them in order with explanation.
May 18-20th Superior Morgul Omnium. The weekend after my Dan Harm weekend hiking up in the mountains was the weekend of my first race back since Gila. The Superior Morgul Omnium, where I ended up 10th overall, was a nasty reminder of how bike racing hurts. After a long time away from the pain, I needed something drastic to kick me back into the routine of suffering. The time trial was on Friday, before work luckily, otherwise I would have had to miss work. I rode to the course, getting on my time trial bike for the second time since Cascade Classic of last year. The course was 10K long with two big rollers, one of which was pretty steep. There was a downhill roundabout filled with rush-hour traffic and dump trucks that were piled up a hundred meters leading into the roundabout. I, like everyone else, almost ran into the back of a car(s) in my attempt to not slow down at all. If this didn’t get my heart rate up, the panic just minutes before the start certainly already had. I flatted six minutes before my start. Fortunately I hadn’t been able to find any fast aero or tubbie wheels to borrow, so I was on my clincher training wheels which made fixing the flat possible (notice how I slipped in the fact that I was on training wheels and therefor had a good excuse for riding slow? A slight slip of the tongue is always the best way to mention excuses. Avoid the obvious). Anyways, after the panic at the start and the hair-raising roundabout, I bolted up the steepest of the hills and suffered decently hard for the next 10 minutes or so until I suddenly found myself 150 meters away from the finish line, so I sprinted. I came in mid pack (and second place in the women’s cat 1/2!) After the race I rode with my roommate Kim to the house she was dog sitting at, just a few miles away. There, I ate a large sandwich or two and played with the dog. The dog, named Casey, soon developed a huge crush on me and began air humping frantically in my direction every time she came over to me. I disgustedly left for work.
The next day was less warm and sunny, and in fact it threatened to rain during the crit. I rode out there for a warm up and we raced hard. I followed a few moves in the first half of the race while the peloton split up, soon becoming just a group of 30 or so. The pace was hard and there was a slight hill and a fast downhill turn that always required sprinting out of. My legs were slowly awakening this weekend, but weren’t quite awake enough at this point to really hammer hard. I ended up 11th but made up for my lack of glory by ransacking the vendor’s tents and scoring a free post-race massage and plenty of FRS to keep my quercitin stores fully stocked for the rest of the month.
Sunday: six laps, 80 miles, and seven times up “The Wall,” which is the famous two minute climb featured in the movie American Flyers that takes the racers in the movie approximately 10 minutes to climb. I went into this stage with my highest hopes of a win for the weekend. The steep finish climb on The Wall was well suited to my liking and the rest of the course was hard, with wind and plenty of small rollers to smash the legs real good. I held my horses for the first lap, letting all the pointless attackers tire themselves out. I followed a hard attack on the second time up the wall but didn’t have enough in my lungs to make it stick over the windy, false flat section at the top of the course and our four man move was caught. Soon after that a large group of guys sort of just rolled away without any big effort. They increased their gap on us over the next couple laps and I thought they were gone for good, taking up the top 11 places. My legs were feeling more and more drained with every lap. Basically after lap number two I was donesky. Whatever. I told myself to keep going on no matter what since I needed this race to open back up and prepare for the next hard block of training.
I think it was the fourth time up the wall that things blew apart once and for all. I noticed a large gap open to seven riders up front as we got to the steepest section of the climb. I gave it everything to move myself up to the front of the pack and then gave it everything once more to close the gap to the guys off the front. I barely got on over the top. Then it was false flat and crosswind. I was hurtin’ somethin’ good now ! We were away, eight of us, and there was some good fire power in our group too. I held on near the back and made myself as small as I possibly could, trying to recover before the next climb. I did not. I came off immediately once we hit the base of the next climb. My legs were dead and I had nothing more to give.
The remainder of the peloton caught me a few minutes later and dropped me temporarily before I sacked it up and forced my way back on. I spent the next lap wallowing in self pity, wondering why I couldn’t stick with the move that eventually caught the breakaway and won. And then I decided not to be a little bitch. I got angry at my legs and decided to punish myself, so I began attacking and finally got away by myself with a little over a lap to go. I held the rest of the pack off and came in by myself in 14th, still in the money which was my main motivator for those last 45 minutes. And then I went to work at the Ethiopian restaurant, late, completely out of it, dehydrated, and extremely tired. Like usual.
May 21st-27th. Training and de-icing iced water. The next week was just a lot of hard riding and hours at Ras Kassas. The day after the Superior Morgul RR, Scott Tietzel (Juwi Solar) and I went on a big climbing day adventure. It was close to 90 degrees down in Boulder, which meant that it would be nice and warm up in the mountains as well. For the Boulderites reading this, here’s where we went: up Flagstaff to the gravel road that goes to highway 72, the gravel road that cuts to Magnolia, back on to Peak to Peak, a bakery break in Nederland for a panini and a pastry, on to Ward, down Left Hand Canyon, up Lee Hill where Scott once saw a mountain lion as long as the yellow line to the white line (of a road), then up on a bunch of gravel trails in the Linden neighborhood, down to town, up Sunshine to Poor Man’s, down Boulder Canyon to the bike path. Done. It was about 5.5 hours, something over 90 miles and close to 11,000 ft of climbing. I had such a good time that I decided to do it again the next day.
Next day: damn I was tired. But it was so hot and sunny out that I HAD to do a big ride and got in 4.5 hours of mountains. The next few days I spent some time on the TT bike and a lot of stressful nights at work (on Saturday night I made $173 in tips!!–super busy for Ras Kassas). By Saturday I was sufficiently rested to attempt a Shaky Ride. It stared out well enough, but by the time I began the threshold interval three hours in, I was cracked from the heat. I finished off the 40′ threshold climb with another 40′ climb. I sufficiently enjoyed the suffering and the heat. I was feeling great being back on the bike after that long rest period post Gila. After the ride I went to Ras Kassas and began serving people their food on Shaky legs. I have one major pet peeve when it comes to serving customers. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but when someone doesn’t want ice in their water and I’ve just brought them water with ice and they have the nerve to ask me to get a new glass of water for them with no ice, well, that just doesn’t sit well with me. I usually end up just setting their glass of ice water at the bar until the ice melts, and then I bring it to them 15 minutes later. Okay, usually I don’t do this because I realize how irrational I’m being. Usually I drink their water (so it doesn’t go to waste) and fill a new glass without ice, just like a good waiter. But sometimes I’m not in the mood. Tonight was one of those nights. Having just burned 5,500 calories on my ride in 90 degree heat, it’s a miracle they got any dang water from me at all.
May 28th. The Boulder-Boulder 10K run is a pretty big event every year in Boulder. There are thousands of amateur runners and walkers that participate in the fun run in the morning. Then, mid-day, the pros start. The start line is right in front of Ras Kassas, and the restaurant has a tradition of having a huge buffet and party for everyone that wants to come after the race, with proceeds going to a foundation in Ethiopia that builds schools and provides clean drinking water. We cheered the runners as they started, then went back into the restaurant to continue getting things set up for the party. A few hours later the place was packed. One of my jobs was using taking people’s money at the door and counting the number of people who came in. I got to use one of those little clicker things that counts when you click it, and before some little kids got hold of it, I’d clicked it 186 times. It later said 1,100. Those were some bored kids I think.
There was plenty of Ethiopian dancing and the place erupted with applause and singing when the African runners finally showed up. Apparently a few years before when the Ethiopian runners came, they ate and drank so much they couldn’t walk out the front door. This time wasn’t that drastic, but everyone left satisfied. Almost all the food was eaten and we completely ran out of St. George (the more popular of the two Ethiopian Lagers).
May 29th-June 2nd. This week marked the biggest week of training I’ve done all year. Not in terms of hours, but in terms of overall stress. Wise guru coach Sam Johnson was planning a peak for the upcoming races I was attending: the Mt. Hood Classic, Nature Valley Grand Prix, and Elite Nationals. Three weeks of racing that I was going to CRUSH! Tuesday: intervals. Both vo2 AND sprints. Wednesday: more intervals including threshold. Thursday was a rest day. Friday: vo2 and sprints. Saturday: BIG climbing. Sunday: HUGE climbing. (I sort of cheated over the weekend and did more than what Sam wanted me to do and ended up getting sick).
Anyways, I slayed myself on both Tuesday and Wednesday’s intervals and just shredded my lungs. I was wheezing and coughing for the next two days in a row. On Wednesday night at like 3AM I picked up a friend from the bus stop/a random parking lot where his shuttle dropped him off. He’d just come from the airport, or more accurately, New Zealand. I met Geoff last summer in Belgium and he’s here in Boulder for a half year of triathlon training. Just up and quit his job and moved to Boulder to live the dream. Boulder attracts endurance athletes like slug bait attracts slugs. Wait, I can think of a better simili than that. It attracts endurance athletes like fish bait attracts fish. Damn it. That’s not very original either.
The next day, Thursday, I rode my bike over to an office building and ate a BUNCH of sandwiches! I was there, not just to eat sandwiches, but to also participate in a paid study group that was surveying local Boulder endurance athletes on a top secret product that I cannot talk to you about because I signed a waiver thing that said if I talk about it to anyone I get my thumbs chopped off and stapled to my forehead like miniature devil horns. All I can say is that I ate a bunch of sandwiches, approximately 500% more than anyone else there, and thoroughly upset the test group’s median. You know those toothpaste commercials that say nine out of 10 dentists prefer Colgate to other leading brands? I was that one other dentist. Except none of us really liked the product the company was pushing. The sandwiches though…yeah. Pretty damn good. I think I’m allowed to talk about those. I had nine I believe. All were on artisan breads and cut into small pieces. 1) apple/cheese, 2)ham/turkey/sprouts/mayo/cheese, 3) grilled onions/beef/tomato/lettuce, 4) cheese/veggies, 5) salami/pepperoni/ cheese/lettuce, 6) egg salad, 7) chicken salad. Two were repeats. My favorite was the one with the grilled onions and beef, followed closely by the chicken salad sandwich because it was DRENCHED in mayonnaise. Just sloppy and wet from mayo. I know you think mayo is gross and you tell everyone that you don’t like it because it’s so gross and fatty, but secretly, deep down you KNOW you love that shit. I rode home satisfied with sandwiches and a nice full wallet from the pay off from the survey says group, and found my longtime friend Spencer Smitheman sitting in my living room.
Spencer drove down from Alberta Canada for the weekend to visit. Geoff came over to join for dinner and the three of us and Kim made a pizza that night. I’ve been making pizzas for the past couple weeks with my mom’s secret crust recipe. The key to a good pizza is the crust, and I’ve got it down now. I think we made a chicken pizza with feta, onion, bell pepper, and spinach. A few days earlier I made a Mexican pizza with beans, chicken, salsa, cheese, olives, onions, jalapenos, and tomatoes and lettuce as garnish.
The next day was a long one. Spencer and I went out in the heat for a three hour ride, during which I crushed some vo2 intervals and 10×30 second sprints. I was pretty wrecked after the ride, but there wasn’t much time for rest. Spencer and I quickly ate some frozen yogurt Kim brought home for us, then rode off to my painting job. I’d spent approximately 13 hours over the span of nine trips to Home Depot gathering the few essentials I needed to paint the small garage and dropped it all off at the house a few days before. We rode up to north Boulder in a strong head wind, the sun beating down, drenched in sweat once again. I’d never painted drywall before, and didn’t realize how much sanding is required. Soon we were drenched in sweat and covered in itchy paint from the sanding of the drywall. We had to close the garage door in order to sand the section that the garage door covered on the ceiling. The temperature reached 100 degrees or so and the white paint dust seeped into every pore, our eyes, our noses, our ears, and worked their way through our masks into our mouthes and lungs. We opened the garage door and went out for air, sucking in the relatively cool and fresh air outside in big gulps. Next up was priming, which wasn’t nearly as difficult. We painted until we ran out of paint, then made a mad dash on our bikes back home to meet friends for White Russians and a night out on the town, my first night out since New Year’s Eve.
The next day I did a big ride. 5.5 hours with 13,000 feet of climbing. I came home and ate nachos and fajita burritos with Spencer and Kim. This put my 2012 burrito count to 53 I believe. Spencer took off that night for his long drive back to civilization (Canada).
Sunday: my last day of training before rest. Today was a day of days. A ride of rides. A man’s man’s ride. A day I’d been looking forward to for a week. Geoff, Kim, and I drove to Golden, the city just south of Boulder. We parked in a Safeway parking lot (a “car park” for you UK readers) and I began my long journey to the top of Mt. Evans while Kim and Geoff did their own rides and runs (triathletes like to run after their rides for some reason. Sounds painful to me). On my ride, I saw six foxes, four deer, an elk, and some long boarders who almost crashed into a car behind me. I reached the summit of Mt. Evans at 14,130 feet elevation some five hours later, having climbed 26,500 feet in the past two days alone. I was wrecked! The last 14.5 miles of the ride go up Mt. Evans itself, starting at the base near 10K feet where it’s still warm and green with trees. Pretty suddenly, near 12K feet, it turns to cliffs, rock, and snow with marmots as your only friends in sight, chattering in earnest for your success to the top…or for you to throw them a peanut. The road is single lane, full of bumps and potholes without a guardrail to keep you from veering of the 500-foot cliff to the left. The last couple miles are all super tight switch back. The wind picked up and I began getting cold despite the hard effort I was putting out. Wait, maybe I wasn’t putting out a hard effort any more. My power meter read low zone 2. I hammered and got it back to zone 3. Not for long. My legs were depleted and rubbery. I got to the top, slightly dizzy and fully gassed. It was snowing lightly and cold. A few people in cars in the car park at the top offered congratulations and a seat in their car to warm up. I declined, stupidly. This is probably where the cold viruses within me came out of hibernation and made their move. Geoff and Kim met me with the car 20 minutes later and we drove a long, long way home to more nachos and a half bag of Cheerios that weren’t mine. I didn’t get to bed until 1:30.
Spencer in a daze from so much good food. Nachos: chips, cheese, garlic, (LOTS of garlic), chicken, chili verde salsa, pico de gallo. Fajitas: mix of bell peppers, onion, chicken, beans, avacado.
Geoff and I before the Mt. Evans ride.
Kim and I in a Safeway parking lot. Classic. I made a huge nasty poop in the toilet inside right before two little kids went in to use it. Stinking up a public restroom with undigested fajitas from the night before: classic.
Top of Evans.
While Kim and Geoff hiked up to the very tip top of Evans, I sat in the car and tried to warm up with this food I’d brought from home. Wanting to raise my burrito count by one, I pounded this cup of spinach and onions with this tortilla and had an extremely sick stomach down the steep road for the next hour and a half. One full bunch of spinach cooks down pretty small, but it’s still too big for a stomach with post ride trauma at altitude.
The shadow of Mt. Evans on the drive down. (Note: the mountain is behind us, which is why the shadow is in front of us–because the sun is behind the mountain).
It was a long drive down the mountain and to home.
I finished up painting the garage on Monday, then flew to Portland Oregon on Tuesday, already getting sick. I missed Mt. Hood this weekend because of it. My spot on the composite team for Nature Valley was also a dud and I’m no longer doing that, so all the money I spent on the plane ticket there is for nothing. To the Wisconsin team manager that’s responsible for making that happening: I hope you get sick.
Well, it’s been a long time since I posted and I apologize for that. As you can see, I was just real busy! Time to rest up and get over this cold so I can put all this damn training to use in a race!