Sunday, August 31, 2008


800.7/1038 77.1%
39840/60000 66.4%

Been having nagging knee pains on both knees this month. My average speed is almost 17 MPH with 31,000 feet of climbing but only with 600 miles which should not be knee crushing numbers. While the speed is almost 2 MPH faster than my fastest speed for any months since I have been riding, its hard for me to believe this is the culprit. I just popped my 508 tested Speedplay's on the bike and will do a couple of rides and compare and contrast. The good thing is its really a cinch to go back and forth as I dont have another pair of shoes with locked in cleat positions. Just having this option is a relief, since I know I used these exact shoes/cleats for FC 508. The only issue I see is that the Speedplay are nasty hotfoot creators which was the main reason I left them for the Look KEO's. I changed out my Keo cleats in the middle of August around the time the pain started creeping up, so its possible I messed up a bit on the placement. Knowing how these things are, its entirely possible I am just over-trained and the cleats are completely not related to the issue. However, I have learned in my job that when things are not going well measured change is better than doing nothing. At the minimum, it can offer psychological benefit. Before big events, it is really easy to overplay small pains into something much bigger than they are.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hoodoo Update

715.6/1038: 68.9%
35540/60000: 59.2%

2.5 weeks to go until Hoodoo 500. I have a sore knees that I attribute to a fast month. My average speed is 16.6 MPH which has included a lot of fast tempo riding that must be stressing my lousy knees. Its nothing too bad, but a typical pattern I have of pushing too much before a big event and getting some soreness. Hopefully the knees calm down. I dont want to start tapering this early, but will start early if the pain does not dissipate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Aerobar Position


Been working hard on dialing on my aero bars for the Hoodoo 500. The best way for me to improve over my Furnace Creek 508 performance is to learn how to be very comfortable in the aerobars for hours at a time and to hold +/- 175 watts. This works out to about 20 MPH on a typical flat at a heart rate around 130-140 which I can hold for a very long time. The problem has been in the past my aerobars were so uncomfortably set up I could not stay in them for more than a few minutes at a time. After a lot of playing around with them on work rides, I finally found a position that is comfortable where I can lean in and relax and stay riding for long periods of time without the desire to pull out and drop back on the handlebars. Notice how far back the pads are. The goal is to have a 90-110 degree arm bend between fore-arms and upper arm for long term comfort. The Profile CG allow me to pull the pads way back so I can achieve this position.

Compared to the following positions, its clear I am alot more upright than these experienced ultra riders. Going to keep working on dialing it in, but I finally feel like I am turning the corner.

Great Aero Position: Kevin McNulty 2006 508

Great Aero 2

Monica Scholz Nice Aero

Cat Berge

I did not realize this until today, but Pete Penseyres invented aerobars and used them for his still standing RAAM record in 1986: Pete's Position. It is interesting to realize that aerobars originated in the ultracycling world as now, the only real good information is for Triathletes. There is sparse info available on good aero positions for ultracycling. Based on dealing with "experts" in the past on bike setup, I can tell you the best way to find your ideal position is to study and try various positions in the field until you finally find something that works.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Race Across America DVD's 1982-1986

Once upon a time, the Race Across America was worthy of a two hour special on Wide World of Sports every year from 1982-1986. The RAAM organization has put the original ABC Wide World of Sports docudramas of the Great American Bike Race, the precursor of RAAM in 1982 and the RAAM events of 1983-1986 on DVD. For $29.99 for 7 1/2 hours of RAAM coverage, you can't find any better deal available for the endurance junkies in your life.

1985---> Jonathan "Jock" Boyer the first American rider of the Tour de France decided to take on the ultracyclists and embarrass them. Michael Secrest takes the place of the traditional ultracyclist in this battle. The footage of him in his small apartment in Phoenix playing opera music riding like a monk showed his focus and intensity. During the entire show, Jim Lampley describes the action with the soundtrack to the film Halloween in the background which builds tension to the race between Boyer and Secrest. Pete Penseyres, winner of 1984 RAAM, was saddled up in a support vehicle in 1985 working as crew chief for his brother Jim, a single leg amputee from Vietnam. Lon Haldeman was a non-factor in this years race. Michael Shermer is shown in 3rd place fighting the arrogance of Boyer as he moved East. Boyer is shown marveling how outrageous it was the Secrest was sleeping on the ground! "Were not cavemen..this is America" Boyer says as he rides down the road. The battle between Secrest and Boyer is dramatized with amazing skill and Lampley is fantastic as usual describing the epic battle as they rode between the back corridors of Arkansas. ABC won an emmy for this work and it is not surprising as they did a great job in dramatizing the race between the two road warriors. "If you have enough willpower.. and you want something bad enough.. you can get your body to do anything...." Jonathan Boyer. Boyer turned into an ultramarathon cyclist, pushing caution to the wind when he realized he had no choice but to push all day and night without stopping in order to beat Secrest. The 1985 RAAM had the fiercest competition and drama of all 5 years in the series.

The inaugural Great American Bike Race in 1982 is the second best of the documentaries. Lon Haldeman took off and never looked back so their was really no exciting race to watch. However, we get to witness the classic race between Michael Shermer, Lon Haldeman, John Marino, and John Howard which is done with great style and poignancy by Jim Lampley and Diana Nyad.

In the 1983 edition they changed the name to Race Across America. Lon Haldeman was still untouchable and ran away from the beginning.

There is no better ultra endurance athlete documentaries around. If somebody would release the 1980's Western States 100 Wide World of Sports DVD's that might possibly compare with this.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Riding in Tahoe

Hoodoo Update
539.3/1038: 51.9%
26320/60000: 43.8%

Spent some time in North Lake Tahoe area with family and got a chance to sample some of the pretty nice riding in North Lake Tahoe. The main ride took me from the house in Tahoe Donner into Truckee. I took Hwy 267 past North Star and climbed up Hwy 267 over the Brockway Summit. The climb had some 10% sections and was harder than I expected, but nothing too hard. The descent to King's Beach and Tahoe was very fast and I could imagine the hard core guys hitting 55-60. I was content at 40-45 and pulled into 7-11 for a cup of coffee. Along side those disgusting flavored cream dispensers they now have something called Stok that they freely give out with a warning of "Limit 2/ Day". Nothing gets me more excited than juicing my coffee with more caffeine so I pumped 3 Stok's into my water bottle along with the wonderful 7/11 coffee and headed along the Tahoe hwy towards Mt. Rose. I passed into Nevada and the classic Cal Neva casino and saw a lot of people stumbling out of the casino's. It was only 6:45 AM so I decided to hold off on the gambling and keep riding. I would never choose to ride around Lake Tahoe unless it was an organized event with cycling critical mass as the shoulders are not very consistent and plenty of people tow boats that seem to creep into the bike lane. After a few miles I saw the turn to hwy 431 toward the Mt. Rose summit. The climb is about 8 miles and climbs about 2400 feet to 8900 feet. It took me a little under an hour to finish this climb. Would love to take it down the other side into Nevada next time. It's a nice long spin and you never really get pushed too hard. The views to Tahoe are fantastic and you can see way into Nevada towards Reno at the top which is spectacular. I would have loved ripping down this descent back to Tahoe, but they have a pretty solid rumble strip along the side of the road making it a bit scarier than I would like. It was a great descent nonetheless and the ride back to the house was great. Managed to get in 60 miles and 6200 feet of climbing in just over 4 hours.

My preperation for Hoodoo 500 is a but below par, as I have been playing around getting aerobars set up and getting settled in which seems to have distracted me. I felt stronger at this point in my Terrible Two training. Hopefully things settle down with the Aerobars as I need to get some serious rides in the next 3 weeks pre taper. I also worry about my right knee which is showing slight soreness, but so far its just a minor soreness that I have felt before when I push it hard a few days in a row. I need to change out the Keo pedals as I cracked them and its preventing a full lock on my right pedal. I will blame the soreness on this and get it fixed asap. Look Keo's are great pedals, but the cleats crack very easily.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sharpening for Hoodoo and a near miss

366.7/1038 35.3% miles riding
15700/60000 26.2% climbing riding
118.4/200 59.2% running

I have been following a training plan for Hoodoo 500 that is much faster and harder and shorter than I did for the Furnace Creek 508. I am doing this mainly due to family restraints, and also based on my experience with the Terrible Two this year where I did much better than before. I think its mainly due to being in much better shape than years before, though, but I don't think Ultracycling requires tons of hundred plus mile rides to be successful. I was reading an article that Chris Kostman posted about dumb things ultracyclists including buying into the long distance lie. You don't need the 1000 plus months to be successful. Sure you need some real rides. I believe my Terrible Two ride in June and a two more 100 miles/10,000+ feet of climbing rides should be enough.

Yesterday John Wang and I attempted to break an hour for the long ride home. The ride is 20.5 miles and has 1100 feet of climbing. We took off quickly and I dropped into my new Profile CGT aero bars as we were riding 22-24 MPH on the flats. We crossed El Camino and took Valparaiso up to Alameda holding 22-25 on the 1% grade up hill. We were averaging 21.6 MPH at this point and all was good. We flew down to Sand Hill and began the climb up to 280. I was holding 20 MPH up this hill and immediately dropped John which was an idiot move in a 2 man draft time trail. I slowed back and we crossed 280. I dropped John again on the climb and descent and slowed to catch him back up near Old La Honda. I was able to hold 20 Mph all the way too Alpine and kept John in my slipstream. Due to my stupid pace up Sand Hill, I figured the hour was out of the question, but we kept pushing really hard down Alpine and sprinted through Arastradero. We were flying at 25 mph down arastradero from Foothill towards El Camino and I started to cramp up a bit and had to let John pull this section. We sprinted as hard as we could 1/4 mile from El Camino as the light was green and in miserable bad luck, the light changed and we got stuck. The little rest would be nice, but not be worth the time lost. I was yelling and cussing out that light as I could see our chances slipping away. We immediately sprinted and got stuck behind a train near Alma. Against all odds, we kept pushing at 25 on the flats and ended up finishing in 1:00:30. Damn. We just needed a bit more luck, but it was not to be. Our average speed was 20.4. We could easily make if we did not have the lights, but that's the breaks. We have to try this again next week.

This morning I rode with a small Triathlon group in their weekend ride out to Hwy 92 via Portola Valley. We started out slow, but ended up really pushing hard all the way to 92 and back. I was pushing 22-26 on the flats the whole day including really hard speed up the rollers. 3 of the people I was riding with are doing Ironman Canada in two weeks and they could put a serious pace on. The fast guy won his age group in IronMan Canada and went sub 10 hours in Kona (no slouch for sure). It was really fun holding up with them the entire ride and not get dropped. The strongest guy was definetely holding back, as he apologized about having to take off early and started flying way faster than he was during the ride with us. Damn these guys can move. A lot of times in the past I used to make fun of Tri Weenies, but I think we can all learn alot from them.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

6 weeks to Hoodoo 500 and 8 weeks to RDL 100

228.7/1038 22% Miles
12510/60000 21% Feet: Hoodoo

95.5/200 48% Miles: Rio Del Lago

The month of August will be key for my success on the Hoodoo 500 Bike Ride and the Rio Del Lago 100 mile run. I want to get double the Hoodoo milage before the race which will be 1038 miles. Similarly, I want to get 200 miles of running/fast walking to double the Rio Del Lago milage. I started my race build-up stats during my China run/walks.

Similar to my Terrible Two build up, I will be riding into work whenever possible and adding hard hills along the way with a few night rides as well. With work travel this month and other stuff going on, I think reaching these goals will be a challenge.

I did a 50 mile night ride with a ton of rollers and small hills that were pretty fun powering up. I rode down Foothill and Alameda de Las Pulgas from Los Altos into Hillsborough. Took me less than 1:30 to hit the Starbucks in Burlingame. I climbed some steep hills in Hillsborough and then wandered back on Alameda. I really enjoy riding at night. However, there are punk kids out there who scream expletives at you pretty much at least once every night ride. Not sure what motivates kids to call you a faggot, but I don't let it bother me as much any more. I used to flip them off and yell at them, but I am beyond that now. After I had a maniac try to hit me with his car after I flipped him off, I learned these idiots are not worth your time.

I managed to get 3000 feet of climbing. I did not have a full charge on my Light and Motion bike light and lost all light the last 10 miles. Nothing like riding in the pitch black. Its pretty fun and terrifying on the pitch black sections. I managed to take a fall as well shifting from the big ring to the small on a roller on Alameda. The crank locked up and I went down pretty hard. Luckily I was not going to fast as the injuries seem to be skin deep.


Lots of Small Hills at EveryTrailMap created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging