Archive for September, 2009

A Mountain Bike Racer’s Life on the Road: Training

Friday, September 25th, 2009

If you’re heading out of town as I am this week (for a wedding), it doesn’t leave you a lot of choices for training.

You can either bunch your training all together and lose the rest days, or you can have the best intentions of training on the road. Since I know how best intentions go, I jammed my training blocks together.

By the end of the block I was suffering some serious fatigue…just after four days. My top interval speed dropped. My average speed dropped. I could really see how even a single rest day would have helped.

The positive from doing it this way is more mental than physical. I am absolutely relaxed because I know my training is out of the way for the week. I’m not trying to dodge family and friends I haven’t seen in awhile just to squeeze in some intervals on unfamiliar roads.

I did bring my bike though, and when there was some down time I took my 3-year old for a ride on a nearby rail trail. And there was some free time for a mountain ride on a great trail at my destination. But nothing was shoehorned it, and nothing was forced.

Makes for a better week I think, and I am actually riding more.

Mountain Biking in Florida: The Spider Kingdom is Nearly Clear

Monday, September 21st, 2009

The Santos Trails (see out Trail Reviews page) are known as The Spider Kindom. This is because in June and July gigantic spiders colloquially known as “bananna spiders” (officially “golden orb spiders”) drape massive webs across the trail. If you’re the first one on the trail (as I often am on a Saturday morning) you get a face full of spiders.

It got so bad one morning this summer while riding some of the less used trails, and after having spiders crawling on my arms and on my riding glasses, I just stopped, dismounted, turned around and went back the way I came. At least I knew the trail was clear.

This weekend, I discovered that the spiders have more-or-less cleared out for the season. Or Darwinian selection has gotten rid of the ones who enjoy the space between trails. At last we can ride fast again!

Strackacobra Cycling Notes: Podium Girls at the Vuelta

Friday, September 18th, 2009

It’s amazing the attention (male) cyclists give to podium girls at the major stage races. After watching the stage 17 finish of the Vuelta a Espana on Wednesday, my vote goes for the Vuelta girls.

It must have been a great day for FDJ’s Anthony Roux. After holding off a charging peleton in the final 3 meters to win the stage, he gets to stand on the podium and hand flowers to two of the prettiest women ever to attend a bike race. Then he got to mix it up and douse one of the Champagne girls that came up next. Ah, to be a professional stage racer.

Which begs the question, why don’t mountain bike races have podium girls? Are we too gritty, too dirty, dare I say too manly to approach? Are our testosterone levels so high that the average belle de bicycletta faint dead away?

Alas, it’s probably the smell. Those kits get pretty rank after a run on the singletrack!

Mountain Bike Racing: The Haile’s Trail Time Trial

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

A post or so back I wrote that racing in Florida in September is a bit like being baked to death slowly in an oven.

I’ll have to amend that: when in rains all day it’s a bit like being steamed to death. It was so humid I should have raced in water wings.

But it was a time trial, so you can go as fast as you want without holding back. And mud always makes it fun as hell.

This was the first race in the 2009 Florida State Series at Haile’s Trails near Newberry (Gainesville), Florida. It’s a private trail so you only get to see it once or twice a year during the races. And it’s a short, exceedingly technical trail (it winds up and down old phosphate quarries), with lots of ups and downs, rooty climbs and rocky descents, so it’s always popular with racers.

For the TT they cut off the first mile of trail because it was just too slick to ride after a days rains leaving the last four miles of the course. But there was still plenty of steep, slick hills and two places I had to run the bike instead of ride it.

141 riders went off. I was number 60 so I sat for a full hour. But it gave me time to rest, hydrate and bullshit with the other riders. It was raced by category but as an open event, so two 19-year olds that started 1 and 2 minutes behind caught me…a third young buck didn’t catch my 40-year old butt and I’ll take that as a win!

Mountain Biking: Recovering from the Rest Week

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Cyclists are Fit, Not Healthy

It’s a cycling truism and I am no exception.

You would think that a rest week would be a time to relax, to read, to maybe see a movie. No, I went surfing…a lot. Stayed up late. Ate differently. Spent waaay too much time on the computer. And a bug slipped in and put me on by butt.

But I’m Superman, right? So I put in a hard effort anyway. And now it’s Day 2 of the 2009-2010 season and I’m doing what I should have been doing last week. Resting and relaxing (as I cough up another lung).

Some people won’t understand, but cyclists will.