Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bike Racing and Waffles

Today was the DINO Brown County race. I rode my first lap in the time that I wanted, but just about everyone else rode it a lot faster. I haven't seen the times yet, but I think the course might have been smokin' fast today judging by the speed of the pro/expert guys that lapped me.

Unfortunately, the race didn't end well for me. I was robbed of the opportunity to blast the opening downhill of the of the race on the first lap because I got stuck another rider who beat me up the opening climb but was descending pretty slowly. The really sucky part is that I like to use the momentum from the first downhill to carry me up the next uphill, but today I had none, so I felt like I wasted a lot of energy.

Anyway, I think I made up for my missed opportunity by being especially reckless on the twisties and downhills of the second lap and I ended up paying for it dearly. I clipped a tree at a high rate of speed and somehow managed to accomplish the most painful crash of my life while barely getting cut up or dirty. I bruised my hip and my knee, but I'm not really sure why it hurt that bad. I think it was just shock, but I felt like I'd throw up from the pain. I lay in the middle of the trail for what felt like a really inappropriate amount of time (it was probably really 30 seconds) and finally rolled over to the side. I wasn't able to get my bike off the trail before a guy came up behind me. He moved it off the trail for me and kept going while I watched a bunch of guys go by and tried to decide if I could stand or not. After a couple of minutes, another expert girl who was behind me due to a flat came by and made sure I could stand and get on my bike. I was able to ride in my granny gear, but I wasn't in any condition to try and make another pass at the Aynes climb in that condition, so I took the shortest way back.

Although I like going out to eat after races, it was kind of unnecessary since we were 30 minutes from home. Adam's birthday was on Friday, and I got him a waffle maker (which he had asked for). So instead of Cracker Barrel, we had afternoon breakfast at home. He made the waffles and I reheated the frozen turkey sausage links. It was a pretty good meal.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Questionable Conditions

Mrs. Bigglesworth questions my taste in beverages.

Last night I did something a little out of character. I actually made a conservative decision about whether trail conditions would allow my Thursday night skills ride to happen. Of course, the decision was influenced as much by work conditions as by trail conditions. Things were very hectic and I spent most of the afternoon wondering if I would even get to leave at 5:00. I did, but I was exhausted.

I knew it had rained some during the night, but I didn't know how much and there were no trail updates on HMBA from anyone whose judgement I trust. It was overcast and windy and it the radar was showing a big blob of rain in the vicinity, so I decided to ride on the road rather than driving to BCSP and having the sky open up as soon as I got there.

Of course, despite the radar image, I got hit with about three rain drops my whole ride, but I found out later that the trails were pretty slick. I'd had a very specific plan about what I wanted to accomplish last night skill-wise and slickness wouldn't have helped it. Basically, I wanted to work on fine tuning some insights that I'd gained during last weekend's ride. I seem to clean most of the Hesitation Point and Walnut trails about 50% of the time, but I wanted to work on doing it a controlled manor, rather that my usual point-and-shoot method.

I'm also hoping to give Schooner Trace another shot sometime soon, but newer trails don't dry very well, so finding the right opportunity is hard. I've made the goal of clearing it before I leave for Pisgah, since I will need all of the skills I can get to make it through that race.

Anyway, last night was kind of a bust training-wise, because I just went out and spun around without doing much. My legs feel rested, so hopefully that will lead to a good performance at the Brown County DINO race on Sunday. I'm still feeling a little ambivalent about having to race at all-out cross country effort. I feel like I will definitely find some mojo on Sunday, but the question is how much, how soon, and for how long.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Going Back For More

So much riding and so little blogging, I don't even know where to begin. I had nice little ride reports planned out in my head for the last three days, but was ultimately too tired and busy to put any of them down on the interwebz. Now I'm so behind that I will have to try to summarize in the interest of brevity.

Saturday was another big mountain bike ride. Luckily, this time I had good legs and good weather. I still didn't cover as much ground as I would have liked, because fearing that I'm quickly burning myself out on the loops, I chose a slower and more congested route to mix things up a bit. I spent the first three hours riding from the campground and covering the entire BCSP trail system, except Schooner Trace, which is the new "double black diamond expert trail" that I still won't mess with outside of Thursday night skills rides. After that, I went back to the campground to refill my hydration pack and then headed out for another couple of hours of out-and-back. It was hard going back out, because after my break, my body started yelling at me to stop. Many, many hurty body parts. Luckily, I was eventually able to get over it, which will be important because the Lumberjack will be require "going back for more" a total of three times after the first lap.

Sunday I had to go back for more in a very unexpected way. I woke up feeling like I'd been run over by a truck and procrastinated all morning. Finally, I forced myself to leave for a four-hour ride at around 3 pm (great idea). I just kind of turned the legs and couldn't really decide on a route. Normally, four hours on the road would mean a trip to Nashville, but I just wasn't feeling it. Knowing that I would be slow, I decided to do my normal three-hour route, and depending how slow I actually was, tack something on at the end. It was hot and humid and I ended up going through one of my two bottles in the first hour. I knew that trying get through three hours on one bottle was a bad idea, so I tried to hatch a plan to get more water. I detoured to the Morgan-Monroe State Forest shelter, hoping they might have a spigot somewhere, despite not having running-water bathrooms, but I had no luck. So I decided to ride almost all the way back to town, get water from the "bikers" water fountain at the fire station, and choose a new route based on my remaining time. By the time I got the water, I had killed two hours, and I was able to think of a good route to finish the last two. So it turned out that on Sunday, going back for more actually made me feel better, as I was able to complete the ride fully hydrated and thinking, "It's just two more hours" rather than dealing with the four that I had been dreading all day.

Finally, I capped off my long weekend with the famed 2.5 hour "BBQ Ride". I didn't eat any barbeque on the ride, but my in-laws came down and took us to eat catfish for Adam's birthday, which is later this week.

In sum, I finished the weekend with 12 hours and 16 minutes over a three day period. Until recently, that was a really not WEEK, not just long weekend. Sure, I'll have to do about double that in four days at the Pisgah stage race, but I have nearly five months to get ready. I just have to find a way to get past the second day garbagey feeling.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Product Placement

As I mentioned the other day, lately I'm getting a lot of rest days to make up for the fully-loaded weekends leading up to the Lumberjack. I thought this would be fun, but I'm getting a little stir-crazy (my last post as evidence), not to mention that I'm running low on blog material. So I'm thinking back to the bad old days of last winter when days off were the norm and I was low on material. What did I turn to?

1) Lame-o written displays of emotion (covered on Monday)
2) Proselytizing about fabulous (or un-fabulous) cycling-related products that I'd recently encountered.

I've been meaning to mention the upcoming debut of Women's Cycling Magazine for a while, but between my lack of other material and the fact that the June 22 release date is soon approaching, today seemed like a good day to do so. I'm not sure how widespread the word about this new magazine is, because I only knew about it from a Bicycle Retailer and Industry News article that Adam emailed to me. However, after further research, I realized that the proprietor is a fellow Velo Bella (but not the one on the cover). Although I am generally skeptical of "women's specific" cycling products, I figure a real live glossy magazine about women's cycling has got to be a good thing, especially if all of the covers feature mud and pained expressions. Hopefully, subscription numbers will be high and this will be our chance to tell the cycling industry that we're here, we have no fear, now make us some decent bib shorts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Weekend on the Brink

The last couple of months I have been giving a lot of thought as to how I can avoid the mistakes that lead to my dropping out of the Lumberjack last year. It seems that the last week has been dedicated to the less rational aspects of this preparation. If freaking out will get me any closer to success, then this week has been a huge leap for me. Unfortunately, I think it's just the opposite. However, I'm not sure there's any harm in listing three of the fears that have turned me into a shaking, anxiety-ridden mess during the last week:

1) The fear that I'm doing badly at my job and everyone hates me. I've been going through this on and off since I started my new job, but for some reason I've had a strong feeling that "sky was falling" for the last week or so. I think this has to do with the fact that the lines of what I'm actually supposed to do are a little fuzzy. I like the freedom of working without a lot of close supervision, but I think I would perform better with some more clearly defined objectives of what I'm trying to accomplish. Plus, even though I really like the job in general, I'm still me, and I'm afraid my anti-social curmudgeoness is going to get me into trouble.

2) The fear that I'm tough enough to finish the Lumberjack, but still too slow to make the cutoff time.

3) The fear that the HMBA is going to send an angry mob with torches after me for my actions regarding number 2.

Basically, after everything mentioned above I panicked because my first chance at doing a long mountain bike ride on semi-fresh legs was about to be foiled by a thunderstorm at 2 am on Saturday. So as I lay there with my heart pounding, I decided that if the rain was gone when I woke up, I was going to ride anyway. So I did, but I felt terrible because even though the trail was 80% slick but firm, 20% was a little too soft. That, combined with everything else on my mind this week, I rode like total crap. I got in 5 hours, but it was the slowest 5 hours I've ever done that didn't include hike-a-bikes. I'm sure I still got some fitness out of it, but not the boost of confidence I was hoping for.

I'm really not sure why I'm such a nervous mess lately; I thought I gave up crazy back in February. However, the thing that got me feeling better a few months ago (besides my new job) was the realization that I had to keep going and do what was good for me (eat well, sleep well, train well) even when I my mind and body were telling me that I "needed" to sit on the couch and eat junk food. I think that will all of the extra rest days that I've been getting lately, I've been letting myself slip into some bad habits of thinking I deserve a little junk food, a little couch time, a little less structure. And maybe I do deserve a little bit, but I'm afraid I've been taking too much. The extra days off the bike are physically necessary if I want to make it through the few monster weekends I have left before the Lumberjack (12 hours over three days this coming weekend), but I need to make sure that I'm still doing something productive with my time. While I'll never be one those "Oh I just love to ride my bike" people, and I've never had a runner's high, I have to admit that weeknight intervals make me a nicer person.

So even though I've now made it to day 70 without a missed workout, I can see where I've been wavering in other areas and it's time to pull myself back from the edge. I need to back off the junk food and go to bed on time. I also need to take more action to be a good employee with a good attitude rather worrying about who might think I'm a bad one. I need to do the workouts on my training calendar as well as the weather will allow, and trust that doing so will bring me success. Finally, I need not ride on muddy trails. It's just not worth it for my peace of mind.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Normally, I don't like sandbaggers, but perhaps this will lead to something good.

This road has been closed for about eight weeks, because part of one lane caved in, presumeably due to the onslaught of hydrogeological activity every time it rains. I can only guess that it's taken the city so long to fix it because the road runs through a park and is not on the main car route to anything important business-wise. However, the road is a key thoroughfair for cyclists.

The most annoying part is that someone is taking great pains to make sure we can't ride through. For a few days, the logs will have enough open space to ride through, but a few days later, they will be rearranged so that one must dismount and climb over. And you can't safely do a super sweet cyclocross dismount in road shoes on pavement. It just annoys me because cyclists aren't generally very heavy people, so I think the chances of us collapsing the road are pretty low. If the city is so concerned for our safety, why don't they fix the freakin' road already?

Hopefully, the sandbags and backhoe are a sign that things will be fixed soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

FTP: Fantasy Threshold Power

Tonight I did two sets of 2 x 3 minutes in Zone 5.5, which was harder than threshold, but not all out. I'm not sure what specific training adaptation I was supposed to gain from this workout, but I like to think of it as a "fantasy threshold" workout. I say that because the workout was at the power level where I want my threshold to be in a few months. It was a chance to "hang out" at 200 watts without having to commit to a full 20 minutes of it just yet.

I'm only mildly embarrassed to admit that my "fantasy threshold" is 200 watts. It probably seems pretty low to most people, especially guys, but from my observation and research I feel pretty confident that I will be "good" by the time I reach this level. Not elite, but good.

I'm not sure where the elite benchmark is, because most people guard there numbers pretty closely. I don't blame them. If I had more at stake, I would probably not let my competition know the details of my training and fitness, but I doubt that anyone reading this is getting too worried just yet.

No matter how much you think you know about the competition, you really don't know anything until you race. It reminds me of a part from one my favorite books, The Triathletes, about what the Hawaii Ironman would be like if everyone just showed up and compared training logs. However, being a true story and not a work of inspiring fiction, the working class privateer that I rooted for throughout the book goes home empty handed.

So I'm happy with my arbitrary goal of 200 watts and I feel like tonight got me just a little bit closer. I know there are several other major factors that will or will not contribute to my success this season, but it's nice having just one that I can monitor on a daily basis.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Snot and Liquid Shot

Failed attempt to capture my goopy gel flask.

After two months of successfully completing pretty much every scheduled mountain bike ride on my training plan, I finally had to miss a semi-major ride due to mud and a trail running race at BCSP. So I was stuck on the road bike both days this weekend, which is kind of weird and boring this time of year. Luckily, Saturday's scheduled workout was 3 hours with 2 x 20 minutes Sweet Spot, so at least I had some structure to pass the time.

It went pretty well, despite nasty wind and nasty allergies. I normally don't even have allergies, but I guess the combo of wind and rain lately has things growing and blowing in such a way that even someone less sensitive can be bothered. All I know is that my mountain bike ride at BCSP last Thursday, as well as my Saturday ride, were both filled with lots of coughing, a sore throat, and lots of nose wiping. Mix that with sun screen and a goopy flask of EFS Liquid Shot in the pocket, and I had one nasty jersey by the time I was done. Not as bad as the people riding the Dirt, Sweat, and Gears that day, but not clean.

Speaking of goopy gel, I'm going to be spending the next few weeks honing my nutrition plan for the Lumberjack 100, and I just realized how much of the stuff I'm going to be consuming. I've got an almost new bottle in the refrigerator, but I put in an order for two more this morning. One is to get me through the last month of training before the race, and is one to be consumed the day of, along with some cookies and bananas to supplement.

Getting used to eating more food on the bike has been hard for me, but I'm getting there. The problem began a few years ago when I learned that on average, a trained athlete can store about 2000 calories of glycogen in their muscles. So I figured, why eat anything on a ride where you're going to burn less than 2000 calories? However, Jason keeps emphasizing the fact that I need to eat while riding and racing, and I have to admit, I feel better when I do.

It's kind of funny, because my latest training schedule has the entry:"BBQ Ride: 2.5 Hours" on May 25. At first, I was very confused, but then I realized that it was Memorial Day the "BBQ" was just a little joke. However, with all the emphasis on eating, I imagined other possible implications: The actual BBQ ride where I was forced to consume ribs while maintaining Zone 2 or higher, so that eating gel and cookies on the bike wouldn't seem so bad. Luckily, I'm pretty sure that's not what he had in mind.

Finally, I've been wondering if I should work in some sort of extra "energy" type supplement of the caffeine/taurine/quercetin variety for the last half of the race. I'm not sure where I got this idea, and I've pretty much come to the conclusion that it's not worth it, unless I go with something simple like de-fizzed Coke. Or I could use my personal favorite source of neuro-stimulant:

Yes, a big bottle TeaSource Chai at mile 75 should do it (along with the ribs, of course). I have a secret dream of being sponsored by TeaSource and wearing a jersey with graphic pictured above. I doubt that will happen, though.

The blurry text in the picture says: "Delicious, vitalizing - economical, too - costs less than 1/2 cent a cup," says Mr. T. Pott.

Friday, May 8, 2009

2009 Zipp OVCX Schedule

2009 Zipp OVCX Cyclocross Tour:

September 20: CycleSport Cyclocross - Landen, Ohio

October 4: Tour de Louisville – Louisville, Kentucky

Cincinnati International Cyclocross Festival
October 9: Darkhorse Cyclo-Stampede - Covington, KY (UCI)
October 10: Java Johnny's - Middletown, OH (UCI)
October 11: BioWheels/United Dairy Farmers Harbin Park - Fairfield, OH (UCI)

October 18: DRT Consulting Cross - Bloomington, IN

USGP Weekend
October 24: Papa John's Derby City USGP #1 - Louisville, KY (UCI)
October 25: Papa John's Derby City USGP #2 - Louisville, KY(UCI)

November 1: Gun Club Cyclocross - Cincinnati, OH

November 8: Promotion Cross - Lexington, KY

November 15: Infirmary Mound/Cap City Cross - Columbus, OH

Indy Weekend
November 21: Southeastway Cross – Indianapolis, Indiana
November 22: Brookside Cross Cup / IN State Championships – Indianapolis, Indiana

November 29: John Bryan State Park / Ohio State Champs - Yellow Springs, OH

Zipp OVCX Finale
December 6 Storm the Greens / Kentucky State Champs - Louisville, KY


This was in my email this morning, and it seems way too early to be thinking about this stuff. Of course, I saw a training article from Cyclocross Magazine on Twitter a couple of days ago advising how important it is to start your base training in June. Yes, June. Base training. That's totally what June is for.

One good thing is that after a couple of years of 'cross recession in Indiana (while the rest of the country was booming), we are finally going to have a whopping three USAC sanctioned races in the state and even one in Bloomington. Unfortunately, it's the same weekend as the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race, so I won't get to embarrass myself in front of a local crowd.

Looking over the schedule, I'm not sure how much of a 'cross season I will actually have this year, since mountain bike season will last through November. I might sneak in a little 'cross in between, but I'm not sure. We'll see how masochistic I'm feeling come fall.

The Hunger Is Back

Like, literally.

Even with an extra day off this week, I still haven't returned to the full-on, coming-out-swinging, rip-some-legs-off good feeling I had a few days after the OC, but I feel okay and had good workouts the last two days. My appetite has also returned with a vengence, since it got a little blunted toward the end of the last training cycle. However, I've been really hungry the last few days, and I consider that a good thing. Sure, I'm still trying to lose my 2008 weight gain, but I'm down eight pounds from February, which is pretty good for someone who wasn't actually "overweight" by medical standards and isn't counting calories (just reducing dietary junk). While sudden, biting hunger during the workday requires lots planning and an abundant supply of fruit and nuts stored in my desk (yes, I am a squirrel), I take it as a sign that my body's adapting to the training properly.

I got training plan for the rest of May and the first week of June today. That's going to be the remaining bulk of my training for the Lumberjack. By the time I start my next calendar, I will be tapering (woohoo!). Things are looking a little different this month. The weekly volume is about the same as April, but it is skewed more towards higher weekend volume, with short, intense work during the week. I'm also getting more rest before my weekend endurance rides, so hopefully I can actually ride well during these sessions, instead of just gutting them out.

Okay, I'm 30 minutes past snack time, so I better eat something.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

State of the Lindsay Address

In keeping with my newfound love of gratuitous visual aids, I thought I'd share this pretty little picture that Jason sent me yesterday. It represents the cumulative effect of my first 50+ days of big girl training. It is also justification for the extra day of rest that I was granted today, as I have been in the negative fatigue-wise for a while. It looks like I came very close to zero before my race on Saturday, but I sure didn't feel it.

Mostly I'm just proud of the neat little "up, up, and away" peaks and valleys that I've been making. I haven't followed a training plan so perfectly since my freshman year of college, and well, I was a freshman in college. I had a lot less responsibility in those days, as well as a naive sense of invincibility about injuries, talent, and self-efficacy.

So I will take this opportunity take one last drink of water before I step out into the desert of pain. I have six and a half weeks to get ready for the Lumberjack 100, and I want to make every workout count.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Belated Picture

I've been trying to be better about adding some visual stimulation to my posts, but Saturday just didn't lend itself to much picture taking. However, I just read that there were 25 girls in the Sunday crit at the Northern Indiana Fat and Skinny Tire Festival, of which the DINO race was also a part. I was looking for results and stumbled across this picture of myself from last year.

Just imagine the same trail, the same dead look, different helmet and gloves, and a whole lot more pink stuff on the bike. :)

A Side Note

There is one small detail that I forgot to mention in my report of the DINO Warsaw race.

The music that is played over the PA system during DINO races is eclectic to say the least. However, I was a little shocked to hear that "Had A Bad Day" song playing as we were getting ready to line up for our race. Really? I'm sure it's occurrence at that particular time was random, but why is that song even on the playlist? It did very little to help my gurgling stomach and wobbly legs get ready to face the pain.

I tried to think of a song that actually could have helped the situation, but I can really think of one. Of course, "She's A Maniac" is my official "jam" for the season, but I think that would have actually made things worse at the moment, as well. Who wants to hear about the "wire between will and what what will be" when you're standing on the orange spray paint stripe between "will and what will be" knowing that the two will likely not converge that day?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

DINO Warsaw

I almost feel like my race report for the DINO season opener in Warsaw could be, and mostly has been, reported in my Twitter feed.

It was a spectacularly bad race. I didn't feel good on my warm-up, but I hoped I would feel better once the race was underway. We had probably the biggest sport and expert women's wave in DINO history, including most of the usual suspects, most of the Louisville women's MTB community, a girl who came over from Illinois, and a few others. It should have been a good day for me, but when the gun (air-raid siren, actually) went off, I was OTB before we even hit the woods.

I tried not to worry about it too much since my pre-race state indicated that I wouldn't be capable of a strong start. I figured if I could stay calm, maybe my legs would come around and I could pass some people in the second lap. So the first few minutes were spent thinking "oh the pain, oh the pain" through the evil sequence of sharp up and downs that make up the beginning of the race. It's a very power-based course and I had no power at all. You kind of have to maintain a minimum speed limit or you're screwed on all of the power climbs that usually have a root or some loose sand that you have to get through before cresting. My legs never came around and I didn't have the strength to crest many of the climbs near the end of the lap. I quickly became demoralized after several dismounts.

I ended up going about two minutes slower than I did last year, when I had an equally crappy race. However, my average heart rate yesterday was abnormally low for an XC race, which means that there was something besides run-of-the-mill slowness going on. My guess that I didn't recover as well this week as I expected to. I going to take it easy on my ride today and tomorrow is scheduled off, so I'm expecting a good workout on Tuesday. If I'm still not riding well by then, I might start worrying a little more.