This has been an incredible comeback summer for me. I’ve definitely gotten ‘back in the saddle’. Most importantly, I’m down 48 pounds since February. Just a couple more and I’ll hit my high school weight… I can’t believe I had that much to lose, but the past few years had really taken their toll on my body. I’m finally feeling like my old self again – and it feels gooood. My training this year has been centered around losing weight, so while I have a lot of miles in my legs, I’m not as race-fit as I would like to be. I’m just now starting to transition into more specific speed work and race training for a few more weeks, then will back off and start building a nice gradual base over the winter for next season (something I totally neglected this year). I’m expecting to actually ride somewhat less next year, but at higher intensities.
I even entered my first licensed race in seven years last weekend. It was a short local hillclimb, only 4.5 miles. There were around 60 starters in the cat 4 group I was in (good size fields around here), and I took 40th. The entry fee was $25 and my goal was to come in at less than a dollar a minute… Made that with a 24:15. Not too spectacular (winner was in the 19 minute range – fast!!), but I did take a minute and a half off my best time and came away with a good sense for what I need to start working on. Nice to get the first one out of the way.
I already have an ‘in’ on a really strong local team for next year that’s very well organized and has a good group of 4’s. There’s also a Tuesday/Thursday training race near my office that I’ve started to go to. At the last one we did a 26mph average for an hour with a good amount of climbing each lap. That’s the kind of training you just can’t get riding solo, I’m glad to have that kind of resource available so close to me. So, things are looking good. I’m excited about next year – winter scares me a little, though. That will be the true test for me. Maintaining my weight and building better base fitness are my big goals.
I just purchased a lightly used LOOK KG381 carbon frame off of ebay and am building it up with parts I’m finding there as well. Should be a good workhorse kind of racing machine that won’t be a huge loss if it gets trashed. The lugged-steel Bianchi I’m riding will be 10 yrs. old in a couple of months. Been a great bike, but definitely time to put it out to pasture.
Good to hear from you,
We spent some time in Utah visiting family at the end of August. Here’s a report of one adventure I had:
Since I had been riding a lot and was feeling pretty strong, I decided to check out the race calendar for Utah and see what was going on during our time there. I was very excited to see that the Eureka Road Race was taking place on the weekend we would be in town. I really like that race (having done it 4 times previously) and had been training at long distances so I felt especially suited for it.
It took some searching to track down the registration information. When I did, I was torn between buying a license, and racing with the citizen group. The USCF basically has no presence in Colorado (ACA here), so I really didn’t want to buy a license that would expire at the end of the year and be of little use for me. The citizen category didn’t appeal to me because they we’re only doing a 40 mile out-and-back vs. the 75 mile loop. I really wanted to do the longer race. I finally settled on doing the citizen category, but would ride to and from the race from my parent’s house in Springville for a little added challenge.
I woke up at 5:00 to get an early start and give myself plenty of time to get there for the start. Newsflash – it’s DARK in Utah at 5:00 AM. I’m used to living on the other side of the mountains where the sky lightens up even earlier than that during the summer. Newsflash #2 – it’s COLD in Utah at 5:00 AM… With only constellations for company (no moon), and a pair of armwarmers (didn’t want to wear more because I would have to carry it later), I set off into the great unknown. I basically felt my way along the road through the fields southwest of Springville, hopping off my bike and standing as far off the road as I could when a car would approach. I’m sure I surprised a few early morning drivers when they saw me standing in the weeds along the road. Finally, I made it to Spanish Fork and some street lights. They were very welcome while they lasted. With every minute I rode west of Spanish Fork, the sky would get just a bit lighter. Unfortunately, the temperature took an inversely proportional dive to the light. By the time I got to West Mountain, it was 36 degrees! Reminder – this was August!! Sunrise was still about 30 minutes away. Man, I was so cold I was hurting. My hands were frozen solid and were pretty much useless. I couldn’t ride a straight line because I was shivering, and it seemed like I could barely turn the pedals (we’re talking 15mph on flat roads…). I was cussing at the sun to get his butt out of bed and warm me up! As soon as I crested the ridge at the south end of the mountain, I was in the sunshine and instantly 10 degrees warmer – ahhhh… It would go on to hit about 95 degrees that day.
I arrived in Elberta to face a 9 mile, 2,000 foot climb up to Eureka. Nothing too vicious, but my legs felt terrible after being cold for so long. I rode steadily and slowly made my way to the top. Once there, I rode to the high school which was swarming with riders warming up and getting ready for the day’s races.
I had second thoughts about the prospect of doing a 40 mile race, after I had just ridden 40 pretty taxing miles and would have to ride another 40 home afterwards. What the heck, that’s what I’m there for – right!? I payed my fee, then proceeded to do my ‘warm-up’ – I layed on a bench in the sunshine for 30 minutes.
The field for my race turned out to be tiny – 3 riders. I didn’t even care, I was just happy to be at a race again. They started us with the women so our group totaled 8 riders. The route we were taking was to start at the finish line and ride the course backwards for 20 miles (to Jericho Junction), then ride back to the finish. We started riding in a paceline and taking fairly long pulls. The average speed for our race ended up being over 21mph, which isn’t too bad for a rag-tag citizen group on a course with 2,000 feet of climbing. I felt totally comfortable – my heart rate was in the 140-150 range for much of the time. I was feeling really good. Our group stayed together until the turn-around, then the ‘attacks’ started. One guy opened a pretty good gap on a hill and I kept a close eye on him. I didn’t want to sprint after him if he was going to fade. After he maintained it for a while, I increased my pace and rode up to him. He stayed strong, and it would be he and I together for the remainder of the race.
We got to talking a little bit as we traded pulls, and I found out he was Charlie from Park City. He shouted at another group as they went by in the opposite direction. It turned out that his 14 year old son was racing in the junior group that started after us. It was amazing to see how my attitude changed from – I can easily dust this guy, to – I need to help this guy win. I really thought it would be cool for him to win with his son there. I’ve never put so much effort into shooting for second place… We continued to take turns pulling, but I would keep my ear tuned to his breathing and take us right to the edge of where I thought he might start losing ground. He was putting a lot of effort into his pulls and I was impressed with the amount of work he was willing to do. I wanted to keep the speed up so we would stay away, but didn’t want him to blow and lose it.
Now the complicated part. There’s a pretty good climb through town to the finish line. I wasn’t sure how to act through that stretch. I didn’t want to overdo it, but I ended up slumping my shoulders a little and breathing harder. He took the ‘bait’ and moved ahead while I stayed about 20 yards behind. As we approached the line, a group of the licensed women was rapidly gaining ground on us. I really didn’t want to get caught before the line, but I didn’t want to speed up and pass Charlie, either. I kept looking over my shoulder and maintaining my distance on the group behind. Charlie crossed the line first, and I went over just a couple of seconds before the women’s group. Mission accomplished!
Now the crazy part. After the finish, I congratulated Charlie and was feeling pretty good about how things turned out. Then Gary Bywater (race official) called everyone over and informed us that we had all been disqualified and the race had been canceled. He said there were marshalls out on the course at that moment neutralizing the other races that were still in progress. He went on to say that no places were being recorded, no awards were being given out (so much for helping Charlie…), and that the school was locked and we were to pack up and leave immediately. Huh?!?
It turns out that several riders had been spotted relieving themselves behind the high school before the race – within sight of some Eureka townsfolk… Ooops. Should have used the bathroom inside the school, guys. I guess this has been quite a problem lately in Utah races and was the straw that broke the camel’s back. No refunds issued, and I guess it’s doubtful if the race will ever be held there again. That’s the part that really stinks, I really liked that course. I spoke up and mentioned to Gary that it sounded kind of harsh for the women – that was a spark that set the women that heard me off cussing and throwing fits. Rightly so, they weren’t at fault. Oh, well. I still had more riding to do.
I rode the last 40+ miles home in the blazing heat. Quite the contrast to my earlier ride (which seemed like a week ago at this point). The daily total ended up being 124 miles, 7:14 riding time, with 6,000’ of elevation gain.