San Dimas Part 1

“Dude, I passed out in the tub. I had to crawl out man. It’s not funny. I wasn’t breathing for like five minutes. I ran out of oxygen. Oh man, it was waaaay too hot in there.”

Tim Rugg lay on the rug…carpet I mean, having just crawled out from the bathroom while Dan and I watched from the bed. It’s a tight living space here in the Super 8 with four guys and 13 bikes strategically crammed into every nook and cranny. Rugg had been “salting,” according to Dan, in the bathtub with Epsom salt while we’d been out riding.

Left on his own, Tim had himself a little picnic of sweet potato while watching Breaking Bad on his laptop, salting his legs with that magical Epsom. Somehow he lost track of time for an hour and sat in the tub a little too long, apparently passing out, face up I assume.

When he emerged from the steaming bathroom, struggling on hands and knees, then curled into a ball on the floor, Dan and I offhandedly asked if he was okay. Getting no response, we assume he was fine. He lay on the ground for about 10 minutes before he came to.

“What the hell guys? Thanks for being heroes.”

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I’m counting on more of these memorable events take place this weekend here at San Dimas. The four-man pack includes Dan Wolf, Tim Rugg, Colin Gibson, and myself. For the last month, Dan and Tim have been on a cross-country journey, hitting up road and mountain bike races along the way from Harrisonburg Virginia to California. Funding has been provided in part by their own wallets as well as an assortment of sponsors back at their home base, including Pro Tested Gear. I got to test out one of the Pro Tested skinsuits in today’s time trial. They’re nearing the end and grand finale of their journey, which includes San Dimas and Redlands to top it off.

Colin picked me up at the airport late on Wednesday night. Our journey here was a little less fantastical.

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Tim and I rockin some Pro Tested Gear.

I pre-road the Glendora Mountain Road time trial course on Thursday. I felt fine for having jet legs. Chipotle served as lunch and dinner. There’s really no cheaper, easier, and race-nutritious way to get meals on the road than Chipotle. They should really think about sponsoring a cycling team at some point because, for some reason, basically every cyclist I know loves Chipotle.

Stage 1: the dreaded uphill time trial. I hate this thing. It’s a 4.3-mile hill climb with switchback after never ending switchback. Historically, I’ve gone out way too hard, thinking I could do a top 20 or something unrealistic like that by holding 460 watts. I always blow up half way through. I took a different approach this year and underrated my legs’ ability instead. While I’ve hoped and thought about a top 20 placing in years past, this year I planned for a top 40 and rode at a conservative pace. When things started hurting real bad at the half way point, I backed off, fearing the traditional implosion which would see me piddle in at a measly 370 watts. I backed off and kept things uncomfortable, but realistic. With 2K to go I realized I’d gone way too easy and immediately lost motivation to even pick things up at the end. I finally mustered up some courage for the final 50 seconds and sprinted in like an idiot. I’ve done two other time trials this year, and I went 100% for those, collapsed over the bars and coughed up bile afterwards. After this one, I felt like I’d done a moderately hard interval. I knew I’d wasted the day.

I came in at 53rd place, three whole places better than last year. Wow congrats Kennett, you pansy! I won’t make excuses; I rode like a damn wimp. Like a man with everything to lose and nothing to gain. Like a guy who’d been working on a company project for months on end, putting in early mornings and long nights, then, at the eve of the deadline, he’d gotten a call informing him that he’d just inherited $100 million from a recently deceased, long-lost uncle, so therefore he just sort of packed it in and drifted through the final days of work, soft pedaling and dreaming about sunning himself on his yacht in the years to come.

The only difference is that I DID have something to lose and EVERYTHING to gain, since I haven’t won that lottery yet. Every race day is an opportunity to put those long hours in the saddle to use, to show what you’ve been up to that winter, and to earn your keep. So yeah, I completely fucked up my entire 2014 campaign already.

While I rode like a frail-legged jerk, my former teammate Ian Crane of Jamis smashed that hill to oblivion with a 6th place! Now that was cool to see. I love it when friends and former teammates get a taste of success. I do risk entering a dangerous zone of contentedness though, since, unfortunately, every year I make new friends in this sport. Pretty soon I’ll be happy after every race no matter how I do since someone I know will have had a good ride. I hate this new compassionate limp dick I’ve become.

That night, as I was talking to Adelaide on the phone outside on the motel patio, I felt a rumble. An earthquake. I got downstairs into the parking lot, hoping the shaking would pick up a bit so I could see some carnage, some explosions, some double story collapses, car collisions, explosions, blood, guts, last screeching screams of life. I’m only being honest hear. While I don’t want people to get killed, I do love me a good natural disaster, and living through one would make a great blog post. But sadly, things calmed down pretty quickly. A panicked Japanese couple came running out of their room to the parking lot 10 minutes later with their shoes off and their suitcases packed. A little late if they’d actually needed to abandon the building. Their delayed, half-hearted reaction reminds me of my time trial effort. There’s always tomorrow, which is actually today now.

Saturday (today)—Stage 2 and the whole reason I’m here racing at San Dimas. The circuit race is going to be a throw down since the winner of yesterday’s TT, James Oram of Bissell, only has two teammates. I’m expecting Jamis to go monkey poop today. Ape shit.

My last weekend of Colorado racing

That is, assuming someone gets me on a gall dang team for Redlands gosh darn it all! Jeez lo-wheeze, dag nab it. Okay that’s the last time I beg and plead about it, shoot. Sorry for all that dirty language. I have a foul fucking mouth I know.

If I can’t do Redlands I think I might get one more race weekend in Colorado at either the Front Range Classic or the Louisville crit before heading off to Sweden. Either way, Redlands or no, I have zero real complaints in life these days. It’s pretty awesome to ride every day and race all the time, even if I’m living off a dime (yeah I rhymed that on purpose). To all the idiot pros out there that say, “it’s just a job,” shut the hell up. Working in a toll booth is just a job. Typing on a computer all day is just a job. Waiting tables is just a job. This is a privilege and I won’t forget it.

I hate it when someone starts out a sentence with “so.” It does nothing except increase the word count, which I’m not wholly against as you can tell by this completely off-topic, unnecessary paragraph. Tacking on ‘so’ to the beginning of your sentence adds no value to whatever it is that you’re trying, yet failing, to say. Yet, I catch myself doing it all the time. Usually I go back and delete it, but sometimes it slips on by. So from now on if you see me doing it, please let me know.

Okay, onto the races. The first was the Candelas circuit race, which is put on by the CU cycling team. It’s an out and back race that goes up a hill, down a hill, repeat. We were slated to do 11 laps, but then this happened and they shortened it to 9:

 

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I received many compliments about my googles. They worked perfectly. And no, I was never cold during this race, despite how miserable it looks. In fact, at one point I even tried to unzip my jacket a bit to cool off. No joke. Photo courtesy of Dejan Smaic of Sports Images, who looked to be having as much of a blast out there as us.

The snow was no surprise since it had been coming down for hours before the race started. But what I didn’t think about happening was this (the bike freezing up):

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Even by the first lap I’d already lost the use of my cassette’s 11 tooth cog. More would come.

I set a hard pace up the second pitch of the climb on the first lap and got away with one other guy briefly, then it was just me until mid-way into the descent. A different rider bridged up, then we were both caught on the climb. I got away again, this time with former teammate Nick Bax of Rio Grande. I figured this was the race, done and over with. The field, which was small to begin with, was in tatters and the first chase group’s impetus looked to be waning.

We could see them every time we rounded the U turn at the top of the hill and passed them by, going the opposite direction. And when I say ‘see’ I mean we could peer into their quickly fleeting souls and smell the figurative blood from the gaping wound we’d gleefully torn. Making eye contact with your prey like that is the ultimate satisfaction because you get to witness the damage you’ve done from the front instead of only hearing it from behind. The stare down went both ways I guess. And for that matter, we were the prey, not them.

We got caught a few laps later by a group of three that contained Matt Gates of Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, Taylor Shelden of 5-Hour Energy, and Jon Tarkington of Natural Grocers. Once they caught us, the carrot having been consumed, the pace slowed down quite a bit. It didn’t look like the next larger group behind had a chance of catching us, so we all shared turns grinding out a slogging tempo in the hard-blowing snow, losing more frozen gears with every passing minute.

It must have looked like a junior race on the downhill, with everyone quickly spinning out in their 18-tooth cogs and tucking. And on the way up it probably resembled a master’s race with everyone slowly grinding away at a cadence 40, cross chained in their big ring…that is, if you were lucky enough to have access to your big ring. I lost the ability to shift to my small ring half way into the race, while I heard that others got stuck the other way around.

While everyone was certainly losing gears with every lap (the last time up some only had a single working gear left), I think I was the only one with a malfunctioning steer tube. I’d had this happen throughout the winter when it would be that perfect temperature where the pavement was 33 degrees and wet, and the air temperature and my bike were below freezing, meaning the thing would end up resembling a nasty popsicle (see above). The water gets down into the steer tube, expands as ice (Science Rules!), and seizes up the front end, making steering difficult and eventually impossible. On lap two I’d nearly crashed into the cones at the bottom of the hill and taken Nick out in the process. After that I took every corner at about 4 mph.

With two to go, Nick attacked our group. I watched him go and could have and really should have followed him. But it was a cross headwind on the climb and I felt that the other three guys were plenty motivated and strong to keep the gap in check as Nick flailed away, wasting energy in the strong wind. I wanted to attack with a lap to go, not two, since I thought I’d play things conservatively for once. Stupid me. Nick suddenly had a gap of 22 seconds by the top of the climb when Taylor climbed off his bike since he had no working gears left.

It was up to me, Jon, and Matt to pull Nick bax. Get it? Pull Nick bax. Like we’re pulling him back except I replaced back with Nick’s last name, which is Bax. Oh man. Good stuff right there.

Jon and Matt were dying a bit and I realized that I’d left things way too late. Nick now had 35 or 40 seconds and his gap was still growing as we began the final climb. We slowed down half way up the climb, silently and secretly watching each other. I attacked on the second steep ramp and dropped Matt and John but only managed to close half the gap to my former teammate by the top. Nick soloed to a well-deserved win and I took 2nd. That makes 3 second places this year already. Ughhh.

The winner, Strongman Nick:

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Oh well. It was good to see a friend win and I came away with some cash and seven pieces of pizza from Papa Johns that, for some amazing reason, decided to stop by with a bunch of free pizzas. Plus, this race had probably the best ever registration/post-race hangout lounge imaginable.

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Nick and Camillo warming up with cold pizza and a hot fire.

The second day of racing at the Stazio crit was, for me at least, much less memorable, though still a good day and a fun time. It was also like 90 degrees warmer and sunny, which I had no complaints about.

I showed up early to watch the finish of Adelaide’s race only to find out that just a lap before I got there, they had a bad crash that called for the race to be neutralized and an ambulance to be sent.

During this fiasco, I realized that I needed an ambulance, so to speak, for my bike. The shifting had just stopped working when I rolled into the parking lot, due to all the road grit from yesterday’s race. Luckily, a mechanic traveling with one of the collegiate teams took it upon himself to completely overhaul everything. Turned out that while the cable and housing were definitely gritty, the real problem was actually just a worn out shifter. My bike, with its components from last year (yes a FULL year old, oh my god!) is falling apart. Components these days are not meant to be raced and ridden hard for a full year, which is sad and pathetic in my point of view. While I do usually have what appears to be a fairly dirty bike, I clean the drivetrain every day and replace the cables and housing every two months. That’s more than anyone I know. Still, the shifters are completely shot, I’ve broken and had to replace my front derailleur, rear derailleur, and two brake calipers since last March. Plus I went through what, five frames last season? Those were mainly due to changing teams and whatnot, except for the frame that I broke in a crash. I’ve spent a small fortune with bike upkeep in the last year and I’ll be heading to Europe with a bank account that will allow only rice and beans. I’m fine with this though, since having races in the legs, a working bike, and a fast set of wheels is crucial for success. Even more so than being able to afford kale.

The crit got underway. I followed some attacks but was always on the back foot, chasing and bridging instead of being there when they first got away. My legs felt fine, but I somehow managed to miss the winning move of 10 guys half way into the race. I tried to solo bridge up there as it went but only made it half the distance. Throughout the next 20 minutes I took some pulls and yelled at some people (sorry) to get out of the way if they weren’t going to help pull through. Of course no one was, since half the teams had someone in the break and the rest were all too afraid to stick their noses in the wind for two seconds. Josh Yeaton of Horizon easily won out of the break, which finished 20 seconds ahead of the bunch. I sat up before our field sprint since I didn’t feel like risking a crash for 11th place. It was a good workout at least. Afterwards, Adelaide and I went to Sprouts, then I sat in the sauna for the 4th day of my Osmo heat training protocol (for San Dimas). Two to go. It’s getting easier.

Oh, and one last thing before I wrap this post up. Thanks to Clif Bar, I’ll be supplied with race food for a good part of the season. They obviously don’t need me repping their products to increase brand awareness or make a profit for 2014. It makes me pretty happy that they’re willing to help a little guy out just to be nice.

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Tucson Bicycle Classic

Written mostly on Sunday evening.

I’ve always felt like I’ve done this race before, even though I know I never have. I think it was from all my winters training in Tucson and, while riding parts of the courses, having other cyclists I was riding with say, “This is part of the Tucson Bicycle Classic.” So therefore I felt like I’ve done it…..okay switching topics real quick because I realize this is a very boring start to this post. Currently I’m listening in on a conversation that’s taking place here at Gate A4 in the Tucson airport. A 300+ pound woman driving a Rascal scooter is complaining about how the hotel she was at had terrible food. “Inedible.” “Stale.” “Awful.” These are the words she’s using to describe it. “I hardly ate a thing!” she just said. I just told Adelaide that I doubted that was true and that I thought that what she probably meant was that she ate all the things. Adelaide said that’s not funny, given the current state she’s in herself with a bottomless pit for a stomach. This was her first stage race and therefore her first experience with a stage race appetite. She also road 18 hours this week, so that probably has something to do with being extra hungry as well. By the way, she won all three stages of her race (and the GC too of course) and is now a cat 3, so the sandbagging will be less harsh in the future. For the time being. Maybe.

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She still forgets to put the bib straps over her shoulders sometimes.

Anyways, we’ve been staying at local Tucson racer Joey Luliani’s mom’s house. His mom, Deseray, has helped in every possible way since I got here, including taking me grocery shopping, making liters of coffee every morning, driving ex-teammate Colin Gibson and I to the races, being in the feed zone for us, and doing airport pickups and drop offs. Our stay was very pleasant and both Adelaide and I are looking forward to coming back next year for racing and training.

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Typical breakfast for a big day of training or racing. GF pancakes, yogurt, peanut butter, honey, banana, berries, green tea, and coffee. Adelaide rode 6 hours to the top of Mt. Lemmon (the real top up to the ski lift, which is 27.5 miles of climbing). I went to mile marker 7.

Stage 1 (the prologue should always be the most decisive stage right?): a 3.2-mile rolling time trial. I was 5th. This was a bit of a surprise given the fact that, historically, I’m not the best time trialist in the world. Or the best time trialist in a pro/am event. Or even the best time trialist in a cat 3 field. It’s been an average winter for me in terms of TT preparation: I rode the bike five times since August, including this race. So the fact that the hunk o junk bike was even working and shifting properly was a relief. Getting a good result was a bonus. I chalk it up to being really heavy and capitalizing on the false flat downhill tailwind section of the course (I now hold the Strava KOM for another descent thank you very much). Jamis went one-two with Gregory Brenes and Ben Jaques-Maynes tied on time, Mac Cassin of Horizon was third, two seconds down, and Jim Peterman 4th at seven seconds. I was 8 seconds down. If I’d just gone one second harder I’d be the faster of the Petermans. Oh well.

In case you were wondering who Gregory Brenes is, like I was, this is one of the results that Google Images comes up with. This makes him pretty alright in my book.

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Stage 2 was an 82-mile road race with straight, wide-open roads and four corners per lap. It was super sketchy. This was due to rider error of course, probably from the early season jitters. There were a lot of crashes and a lot of close calls. I got lucky on lap One when a guy touched wheels with someone in front of him on the descent and went down hard at 40mph. I was full on the brakes for five long seconds praying to God that if He parted the seas I’d forever be a believer and devote myself to preaching his word for the rest of my days. The guy’s bike went right and his body went left just in time and I squeezed through while others crashed around me. I sprinted back to the peloton, immediately thinking, “Just kidding, I had my fingers crossed, you fool. I get you with that every time, God! I’ll never be a believer!”

I followed wheels on the “uphill” section but never really attacked except for once or twice. I didn’t think anything was going to get away until maybe the last lap due to the block headwind on the climbing part of the course. Mainly I just tried to not crash and not go over the yellow line too often. Both were inevitable. The entire field echeloned over into the left lane at times in the crosswind. An irate official would drive up between us and the left curb when there was room and aggressively usher us back over to the right. “If you fucking assholes won’t move back across the yellow line after ten minutes of me honking, let’s see if two tons of steel will do it!!” That’s not an exact quote but the expletives are.

The final few kilometers were false flat uphill with a crosswind. I picked my way to the front of the field as guys began popping off. I was hoping to get some bonus seconds in the sprint, but ended up lying in my back with 400 meters to go. I’d been sitting in the top 15 riders of our somewhat diminished field when two idiots took each other out. God took his revenge. I catapulted over the bars, did a one-armed hand plant, and landed on my back with my bike still attached to my feet. I escaped unharmed. Correction: God tried to take his revenge. Muwahahahah, not even God can touch me! It’s literally impossible that I’ll ever get hurt while riding my bike.

Matteo Dal-Cin had taken a flier with a kilometer or so to go, countering Kevin Mullervy of Champion Systems, and capitalized on a moment’s hesitation in the field. He took the solo win so we weren’t even vying for first at that point, and there’s little chance I would have out-sprinted Daniel Jaramillo of Jamis (2nd) and Daniel Holloway of Octane (3rd).

Stage 3: a four-corner circuit race that was even sketchier than the road race, still mainly due to all of us idiot riders. Myself not included of course. I never do anything wrong.

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At one point I was moving up the right gutter when someone chopped in front of me without looking over. I had to grab the brakes hard and curse even harder. Not four seconds after that someone else started to come over on me, although this time he had enough room to do it safely since there was now a gap between me and the guy who’d just chopped me. But I wasn’t having any of it and I slapped him hard on the ass and yelled at him too since I needed to take my anger out on someone. He yelped and cried out, “Why’d you hit me?” I thought about apologizing half a minute later when I realized he probably didn’t deserve it and that he hadn’t really done anything wrong, but whatever. He was behind me now, meaning he no longer existed. That right there was the mentality of the weekend. “If I can’t see you, you don’t exist.” More so this race than others, guys failed to look behind them or out the corner of their eye when they moved to the left or right, which is why I think there are so many crashes.

So back to the race, I sat in pretty much the whole time and didn’t do anything at all. I followed like three moves and attacked once, half-heartedly. That was it. Nothing was sticking permanently. That much was obvious to me. Jamis had it locked down and the course, like yesterday, made attacks short-lived thanks to a block headwind on the rolling climb. I avoided the crashes—there were some bad ones today and the ambulance was used—and I finished in the field, moving down to 6th GC since Travis McCabe got some bonus seconds during the intermediate sprint the day before and today as well. Josh Yeaton and Fabio Calabria of Horizon went 1-2, while Jaramillo of Jamis was 3rd. This was a terrific result for Horizon and proof that they’re well along their way to the top of the list amongst the best US teams. It’s great to see so many Front Range riders tearing it up at the national level. 4 of the top 10 GC positions were taken up by guys on the Front Range, with Horizon, Rio Grande, and myself showing that good things are coming from this region at the pro/am level.

Since pack positioning is a weak point of mine, doing a bigger race like this is important before something like San Dimas or Redlands with fields of 160 and 200. Battling for wheels isn’t something you really need to do at a local race with 50 or 60 guys. With a stronger field of 90 this weekend, and centerline rules, I noticed that I was pretty rusty when it came to aggressive positioning. It was a good warm up and great for getting the cobwebs repaired. Wait, is that how the saying goes?

Top 10 GC

1) Brenes Gregory           Jamis Hagens Berman            5:04:02
2) Jacques-Maynes Ben   Jamis Hagens Berman            s.t.
3) Cassin Mac                  Horizon/Einstein Bagels          :02
4) McCabe Travis             Team SmartStop                     :06
5) Peterman James          Team Rio Grande                    :07
6) Peterson Kennett        Firefighters Upsala CK            :08
7) Jaramillo Diez Daniel   Jamis Hagens Berman            :08
8) Eaton Daniel                Canyon Bicycles                      :08
9) Buick William               Team Rio Grande                    :10
10) Magallanes Juan         POS Cycling                            :11

It would be nice to have a more decisive stage to break things up a bit, as you can see by the minimal time gaps. Maybe an uphill finish on the backside of Gate’s Pass with loops around the TT course? That would be a much better, and safer, circuit race in my opinion. Both of the road stages were pretty easy so the only way to move up was bonus sprint primes. Good for sprinters, bad for Kennetts. I guess I should have just done better in the TT. All in all, it was a good race and a great trip. New friends were made, old tan lines restored, and a worn-down central nervous system repaired. Resting the whole week I was in Tucson before the race made my legs just a tad sluggish and it wasn’t as much fun as riding hard, but it really helped me feel fresher and in the long run I know it will pay off. I’ll be back next year. Tucson in the winter is pretty awesome.

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I still need a team for Redlands, and I’m holding out hope that something will present itself in the last minute. If not, once April 7th rolls around and Redlands is in the past, like a rider behind me it’ll be as if it never existed and I won’t care about it one way or the other.

Knowing when to call it a day

Or in this case, it’s knowing when to call it ‘two months’, which is the length of time I went without a rest week. Most people come down here to Tucson either fresh or relatively out of shape and leave cracked after a week or two of hard training. I’m the opposite. I came down here in need of a rest week.

I didn’t plan it this way. I had huge ambitions of finally hit a 30-hour week, which is something I haven’t done since I was a cat new 3. “So what you’re saying, Kennett, is that your ambition is to train like a cat 3 again?”

No, no, no you’ve got it all wrong I swear!

It’s not like I didn’t know what I was doing; I’d been keeping close track of my training, including paying extra attention to my Excel spreadsheet bar graph, which compares every year of training I’ve ever done since getting on the bike.

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While I was certainly paying attention to it, that doesn’t mean I was being completely smart about it. In fact, the more I trained and saw the big numbers roll in, the more drive I felt to completely smash what I’d done last year. As of this week, I’ve done 41 more hours this year than last, with both “years” starting in mid November when I began training. That doesn’t sound like a lot since it’s only an average of 2.5 extra hours per week, but adds up.

Still though, there are so many guys out there that train quite a few more hours than me. I’ve only averaged 19 hours a week for the past 8 weeks. From talking to people and reading interviews/books/blogs/whatnot, there seem to be plenty of guys out there that average 20 or more. Maybe they’re riding at a different pace or not including rest/sick weeks, or they’re just stronger-bodied and stronger-willed than me. Who knows how they do it but I sure can’t yet.

At times, I catch myself wondering if I really do train hard enough. It’s difficult to get a grasp of what “hard” really means, since there’s no ceiling to it. You can always do more. You can always try just a little bit harder. I guess being smart is more important, and finding the best ratio of work-to-pay-off is what gets results.

Usually it takes me one or possibly two days of easy riding to recover from a 2- or 3-day block of hard riding. I did intervals and rode long on Monday and Tuesday this week, rode easy Wednesday morning and flew on Wednesday night. I did an easy 2 hours on Thursday, feeling worse than I thought I should since it was my second day of rest, but still figured I’d be good to go on Thursday for 5 hours and 3×15″ intervals on Mt. Lemmon. I did one set of intervals on Lemmon, shrugged off the fairly poor performance due to fatigue, and started the second set. Wait. Shrugged it off to fatigue? Wasn’t I planning on doing 6 hours the following day, including the Shootout in the morning and Old Pueblo GP in the evening? I decided to be smart and turned around to go home a few minutes into the second set (actually I kept riding for 20 minutes up to mile post 4 so I could write “2.5 hours” in my training log instead of just 2.25 hours…neurotic much?)

That night I got almost no sleep after picking Adelaide up at the airport at midnight. Part of my inability to sleep was the late night drive and the even later night bike build so Adelaide could do the Shootout early the next morning, but there was something else there too. Some extra deep fatigue that made me tired but wasn’t letting me fall asleep. I pondered, like I have been recently, about a few things from the past week and a half that had been worrying me just a bit.

1) My left quad had just suddenly developed a strange stabbing pain when I bent my knee.

2) I’d been able to do my intervals and ride long day after day for weeks, and even during my rest days I’d been able to climb fairly easily at 300 watts up Lee Hill (my rest days involve climbing both sides of Lee Hill and sometimes Deer Trail). The constant “openness” of my legs was encouraging as well as startling. This is what happens when you never fully rest.

3) My sleep pattern had been way out of whack. I’d have trouble sleeping for a day or two, then the next couple nights I’d sleep for 10 hours straight. (Last night I slept for 11 hours).

4) Strange parts of my body were aching without having been used for any activity. Last night my forearms ached for some reason. I hadn’t lifted anything heavy for days and I hadn’t even ridden long since Tuesday.

5) I’ve been EXTREMELY scared of getting sick. I keep getting imaginary sore throats and sick-trickles in the back of my mouth (just made up that word–sick trickle. I like it).

This last warning sign was definitely my subconscious telling me to back off and rest. Also, from looking at my “Graph of Training Years” Excel spreadsheet, I’ve noticed that I tend to get sick the first week of March just about every year. As of today, I’m still holding strong.

With all of this in mind, I decided to not do the Shootout Saturday morning. When I ended up not falling asleep until 6:30AM, I decided to not race Old Pueblo GP. It was a good decision. Adelaide was practically dropping me on the way to meet Quinn and Allie at their house to ride over there together and watch the race.

But wait there’s still hope!

I had been planning this sort of catastrophic breakdown and ensuing super compensation all along, just not quite to this degree. And while I wanted to make it another 10 days through next weekend’s Tucson Bicycle Classic before resting, I guess I can live with this scenario. Recovering down here in Tucson isn’t ideal because it’s so warm and the rides offer a fresh landscape on which to smash the pedals, but it’s the right decision.

I can tell the difference between truly overtrained and just overreaching and I’m happy it’s the later. The main difference, between the two, for me anyways, is the ambition. I still want to get out there, which means I’m tired but not utterly drained. My power, through Tuesday that is, was still on the rise as well, so I think I’m in the clear as long as I’m smart about the next week. I’ll still race Tucson Bicycle Classic but I’m resting (for the most part) until then. And when I get back to Boulder on Sunday night I’ll continue to rest until I’m fully recovered and fresh for San Dimas, Redlands, and Europe.

I knew it would be difficult reigning in my willingness to train after leaving SmartEtailing and being given all this time. This was the first true test. The old Kennett would have finished Friday’s ride, struggled through the Shootout and Old Pueblo yesterday, and would have slogged through the originally planned 5-6 hours today as well, just to get in those 31 hours. But I’m smarter now. This week will only be 17 hours, which definitely counts as a rest week…

Scratch that last post. Help me find a guest ride spot for Redlands.

By complete fault of my own, I misunderstood my race schedule, which was sent a few weeks ago. I chalk it up to Excel not being opened full screen on my laptop, as well as the fact that sometimes when you want to see something really badly, you see it even if it isn’t there. While I thought Tour of Normandy would be my first European race, I’ll have to wait another three weeks, which isn’t too harsh I guess. I’ll be racing Loir et Cher, a 5-day UCI 2.2 in the middle of France. I’ve done some research on the race’s website (circa 1999) and it looks like it’s hillier than Normandy with long stages, most of which are about 200K with no TT. Normandy would have been awesome, but Loir et Cher, albeit much harder to pronounce, will be a fine substitute.

Because I won’t be heading west across the Pacific to get to Europe for a while (I heard it’s quicker that direction since the earth spins counterclockwise), my race schedule for the next month looks a little more familiar: San Dimas then Redlands! And by “Redlands!” I mean I hope I can find a team to guest ride with. If any of you know a team that’s searching for someone really strong, tell them to take me instead. JK, JK, LOLZ. No but seriously, I need help finding a team. I talked to USAC and they assured me that, as a continental rider, I can indeed guest ride for an amateur team, and I also have permission from my team to do so of course.

Descending down into town after that final lap of the circuit race and its hellish climb felt so good last year and I’d love to improve on 17th GC to something in the single digits.

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Photo credit: Evan Hyde

PS well whadya’ know? That’s my new Firefighters teammate Chris Stastny right there beside me!

The Final Weeks of Winter

Written on Tuesday

My days here in Boulder are vanishing quicker than I want and slower than I’d like. Part of me wants to stay here, living this awesome lifestyle forever. I wake up whenever I want, eat a big old breakfast, ride 5 hours a day, eat more when I get home, hang out with Adelaide in the evening, and do whatever the weather permits on the weekend. It’s been very pleasant, though of course equally fatiguing. I’ve racked up quite a few quality days since becoming a Full Timer last month. My volume has increased, as well as the number of interval/high intensity days I can do per week thanks to the extra time and sleep. I don’t know how or why, but today was my highest wattage day for V02 intervals since last summer, and this is coming after 7 weeks “on” in a row. I’m excited to see where I’ll be after the rest and taper for Normandy.

Normandy…it’s happening. I’m on the squad for it. And it’s what’s eating at me day and night. It’s constantly on my mind and it can’t come soon enough. For weeks now I’ve been devoting every pedal stroke of training to that mysterious race, imagining every stage of it on every ride I do, despite not having a clue what it will be like (I imagine similar to the Tour of Namur in Belgium—hard from start to finish over tough terrain). It will mark the true beginning of my race season as the first team event and my first European throw-down of the year. I’m going to miss Adelaide and Boulder, but the chance to do even half of what’s on my race calendar this year is a dream come true, and you don’t pass up dreams no matter how pleasant your current situation is.

(Funny story about Normandy…I’m not on the roster for it and never was. We were emailed a the race calendar for the first part of the season last week and all I saw were the races, assuming that I was doing the races listed. Turns out I needed to scroll over to the right, or actually just look over to the right side of my screen, and I would have seen names written by each race. As of right now, I will not be doing Normandy).

My dad tore his quadricep tendon last year, which is one of the worst things you can tear and requires one of the longest periods of recovery out of any torn ligament (up to multiple years). To get an idea of what my dad is like and how much this has sucked for him, imagine me (training-wise) except ten times more intense, twenty times more motivated to suffer, and about seventeen thousand times more stubborn. Curt Peterson IS the definition of old man strength. So being on crutches for months on end, and then slowly rebuilding the vanished muscle from his leg has been torture for him. Not that he was taking it easy that whole time. He was on the erg (rowing machine) and in the pool swimming a day after tearing it, which outraged his doctor. He would go on to infuriate every physical trainer he had since.

One year later…now he’s in for shoulder surgery, having overworked his upper body while his leg was under repair for the last 12 months. A lifetime of hard sports is terrific for your health, as well as detrimental. He recently told me that he’d been spending two hours a day on the trainer, with ambitions of doing three hours a day in preparation for his ride across America this summer. He can’t ride outside yet because of the shoulder.

The screwed up ligaments in that shoulder have caused him to do all that riding one-handed with his injured arm resting between his hip and leg, with thumb bent backwards. He’s spent so much time with his hand like that while riding that it screwed his thumb up too and he couldn’t even type on his computer for the last week.

Besides Normandy and the upcoming race season, I’ve recently been thinking about my dad while I’m out riding, especially when I’m wheezing through an interval or about to crack my third or fourth or fifth time up Flagstaff. I think about how much my dad would love to be in my place, riding for hours on end in the mountains, not giving a damn about anything except daydreaming about races, sucking in the thin, cold air, suffering like a dog day in and day out, and occasionally taking in the awesome view of the Rockies. I feel that if you live your life through someone else’s eyes, you can accomplish more and push harder than alone.

I’ve been going through some rehab myself lately, though not from surgery. A long time ago, way back in 2009, you may remember that I took a terrible summersault through the air during a crash and landed on my back on the sidewalk curb during the crit at Murrieta. I could barely walk for days. I never went to the hospital, instead just forcing myself to forget about it and the possible broken vertebra over the next couple months while it recovered. That injury never fully went away, and this fall it began acting up worse than normal. I believe this happened because I spent too much time doing back exercises in the gym in an attempt to strengthen it. Typical. Try to fix something and you just end up breaking it even more. Kind of like that time my roommate Matt and I punched and kicked a six-foot-tall, three-foot-wide hole in someone’s living room at a house party in college. Wait no. That’s not similar at all.

Because going to the gym and jus workin’ on my fitness didn’t fix my back, I tried yoga instead. I went three times a week for a month and that didn’t help either. Then I tried forgetting about it again. This actually worked the best, but about two weeks ago, for no apparent reason other than the idea just occurring to me, I decided to seek some medical advice at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. An X-ray showed that I had not broken anything back in 2009, which was a relief, though really what would they have done? It’s not like you can just magically fix a broken bone!

The injury was muscular (as in it was a ‘ripped’ injury, or ‘shredded’…get it?), so my doctor prescribed dry needling, which I’ve since done three times. A woman named Simone and sometimes another woman named Sue stick needles deep into your muscles, except not like acupuncture–these go deep and directly into the knotted muscle bundles–forcing the tight muscles to release from their knotted states. Sometimes they hook the needles up to a stimulator that shocks you. I like the feeling. I can’t say whether or not dry needling has helped for sure, though my back does seem to be acting up less.

I fly to Tucson tomorrow night for 10 days of riding in the desert. With all the snow we’ve been blessed with this winter, I’ve had plenty of time to look forward to training and racing down there in the sun for some final monster hours in the saddle, as well as the sort of high intensity that isn’t possible at elevation. Adelaide will meet me down there on Friday. Sometime after the 17th I fly to Europe. It’s getting close. I can practically taste the second breakfast pasta as we speak.

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