Friday, December 19, 2014


Lots of bike blogs and bike internet people post about F-YEAH FRIDAY!

Because it's Friday and if you can get out and ride, your brain goes F-YEAH the entire time.  You're psyched you're riding, there's no guilt because the kids are at school, and you're not working.  What's not to like?  

December in Arizona, so that means it's time for Desert Single Track.  Rode to the trail, drank the Whiskey From the Bottle, passed a roadie in a Rapha Team kit and a bazillion-dollar carbon road bike on the way home.  Love making the Tie-Fighter noise with the tires as you go by very serious looking guys in skinny tires.

That's an awesome time as far as I'm concerned. 

Hope you got a little F-YEAH in your Friday too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What is this all about?

I started writing this blog in Feb of 2013 when a friend (a real friend) complained that all they saw on Facebook was updates about my rides, my bikes, what I was thinking when I was riding, what I was wearing, what I was know, stuff I felt was really important and critical to share with all my "friends".

But I got the point.  I'm lucky to have an awesome family and people wanted to see pictures of them.  Pictures of a cake my wife made are far more interesting to the Facebook crew than a picture of an empty GU wrapper next to a summit sign with a bike shadow in the background.

Since I was starting the adventure of training for the Leadville 100, I decided to create an alternative Facebook page.  Then Facebook became a pain in the rear to deal with, I could not put the pictures up in the way I wanted, etc.  So I created this blog, as a place to dump my cycling blather.

I guess I could have started a journal, or kept this all on my PC, or just kept it private.  I made up some reason about wanting this all on the cloud backed up on Google's infinite server capacity, or being able to share my cycling journey(ies) with any friends and family easily.  Really I just want someone else to read this stuff.  I'm as narcicisstic and self absorbed as the next guy.

As I typed away I realized what's most interesting to me to write about, and what I get responses on from the 3-5 people that read the posts are when I write about what's in my head.  Sure, the weather, the quality of the dirt, the incline of the hill, the contents of my bottles and jersey pockets are fascinating...but what I enjoy sharing is what I'm thinking and feeling when I'm out there. 

Besides, I can't continue to bore my wife with these stories.  My S-1 number would go down, and that would be tragic.

So here it is.  The Bad Dads Cycling Blog.  What's in your head?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's On the Bathroom Mirror

Mid December.  In most parts of the country, cyclists are thinking about their next trainer session, spin class, or perhaps getting their fat bikes or cyclocross rigs out in the mud and snow.

In Arizona, it's time to go racing!  The 12 and 24 hour events are in full swing, and the MBAA series is ready to kickoff. Wrapped around all that you have registrations and lotteries opening for Leadville, The Whiskey and the rest of the Epic Rides events, Gravel Grinders a plenty, and a pile of unofficial official events like SingleSpeed Arizona.  Plus.... Iceman registration is right around the corner! This is a super-motivating time to be a mountain biker in the desert. 

Unless you're me, and you're feeling a little sluggish and dreaming of warm fires and snow covered landscapes of the Midwest, Northeast, and the Rocky Mountains. 

So it's time to look back and look ahead least I sit and drinks pints of Guinness and eat shepherds pie until I'm over the weight limit for the carbon bits on the bikes.

Looking back, this was a pretty ambitious year. I crossed from setting goals like "finish" to goals that had times in them. At the start of the year, these were the results i targeted:

McDowell 40 -- 3:30
Whiskey 50 -- 4:30
Leadville -- 10:00 (though you're always going for 9)
BarnBurner -- 8:30
Iceman -- 2:00

In the middle of the year, also added the Tahoe trail, and I wanted to go 4:30 for the 100K. 

I came into my race season lighter, stronger, and on a faster bike than last year...and yet...I made exactly ZERO of my goals. I came close at BarnBurner, and with the time bonus because of the ambulance delay, I did come in faster than 830.

3 races had weather issues (Whiskey, Barn Burner, and Iceman), 1 had a clothing and tire issues (Tahoe) and I was just an idiot in Leadville not prepping my bike properly and not eating during the first 1/2 of the race. 

Though the results not where I wanted them, looking back, I learned a little something about myself that I had come to doubt over the years.  I am tougher than I give myself credit for.
    • At the McDowell 40 I broke 2 ribs 7 miles from the end.  I could have bailed out about 4 miles from the end, but kept it together, even after I crashed for a second time on the same side.  3:48, 18 minutes off my goal
    • The Whiskey was some seriously nasty weather.  60mph+ wind, huge amounts of snow, rain...but I held it together, made sure I got numbers instead of DNF, 5:51.  
    • Tahoe Trail, I had 2 flats.  Still managed to beat the cut off.  Also wore some really bad socks.  They almost made me DNF.  Socks are important
    • Leadville is Leadville.  I came in faster than last year, nowhere near my goal, but still under 12.  I'll take the buckle.
    • Barn Burner I actually made my goal...and survived a downpour, thunder, and lightning that sent a lot of riders looking for their cars.
    • Then there was Iceman.  I wanted 2:00.  Settled for Sub-3.  

Worse than the results were the lack of motivation that started creeping in mid-way through Tahoe, Leadville, Barnburner, and Iceman.  In all of those races I hit a point where I was wondering what the heck I was doing out there in the crap weather, hundreds or thousands of miles from the family...I was never going to be on a podium...I had done all of these races previously...what the heck was I doing?  Playing at 10,000' is for professional dirtbags, people with huge sums of money....or me?  Is it for me? Am I a total poser?  I found myself at pivotal points during these events doubting why I was riding them at all.  Wanting to be home flipping pancakes or driving kids to swimming...or even possibly riding with them.  But there I was, on a racecourse, with a number strapped to the handlebars and many miles to go before the finish.  

This was a serious problem. 

Winning has never bee the motivation.  In my life I have one exactly 1 sports related "podium". That was senior year of high school at a tennis tournament.  Won the 3rd doubles flight at a little team tournament in northern MI. Even if I was motivated by winning, the reality is I won't be on a podium for several years. My path in life has been different than anyone who considers themselves truly competetive.  Maybe if I keep at it, and keep getting stronger there may be some podiums once I'm 55+. Ok, given the number of 55+ that beat me, it's probably more like 60+. 

Losing motivation in the middle of a race is a bad. I don't want this happening next year. The more I read, the more I realize this is an issue for many of my fellow MAMILs. I believe it's the next part of the test.  Need to keep it up. Keep it going. There are personal achievements out there, and there is no reason not to keep pursuing and achieving them. I may not stand on a podium at a bike race for 15 years, but if I keep moving, keep pushing, stay motivated -- it is possible. Life is a not a sprint, so time to keep at it.

Another pretty interesting and exciting thing happened this year.  I'm starting to have the virtual team come together in a very exciting way. A least one friend here in AZ is committed getting to Leadville in 2015.  I kind of pulled him along this year with advice, encouragement, a few spare parts, a little advice...and I think I have him hooked.   Another friend in Michigan is locking in 2016 for Leadville (he says 2017, but we'll get him there before then), there's my Iceman gang (both the long tenured and the new) that are starting to expand riding beyond northern Michigan.  I am pretty convinced I'll have one of them on the corner of 6th and Harrison one day.  Then there's all the folks at the local shops and clubs that make up my personal extended Leadville family.  I'll draw my inspiration from these folks, and return (hopefully) a little to them. These people provide challenges, and show me that there are many big challenges that can be overcome. Mental toughness and emotional strength matter a lot in endurance events.  Paraphrasing Rebecca Rusch, training gets you the first 4 hours of any event.  The rest is mental.   

Time to recommit. Time to commit to myself, to my family, to my friends.  They are all behind me and I am behind them.  What am I committing to?  Here we go:

McDowell 40ish -- 3:15
McDowell Relay Race -- have a blast.  go fast
Whiskey Off Road --  4:30
Lutsen 99er -- 6:30 (if it happens)
Leadville -- 9:00 (there, I said it)
Barn Burner -- 8:00
Iceman -- 2:00

That's another big year.  I have a plan for fitness, for eating, for sleeping, for life.  I'm a happier person when I'm training hard, and this will be a massively transitional year for me personally, so I'll be training hard.  I'll also need to remind myself what it means to turn myself inside out.  As in, really work to the point of failure...and maybe even fall over doing it.  Last time I did that was 10th grade.  Let's see if I can get it back.

Maybe I'll even learn to do group rides!

What's on my bathroom mirror?  Same thing as last year:

Bathroom Mirror

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Humbled and on a Mission

I am humbled today.

A friend (who I've never met...that's the internet for you) posted this on FB:

I've never thought of myself as an inspiration, and I am honored that Hans would consider me one.  I'm just a guy trying to get his daughters to grow up right, be healthy enough to be around for a very long time, and be the best father/husband/son/brother/friend I can.  Oh, and make time to ride as much as I can.  

But Hans has laid it down.  I'll consider that label of "inspiration" as a challenge as well as an honor.

I take on this challenge.  Get Hans across that finish line at 6th and Harrison in Leadville Colorado the 2nd Saturday of August, 2017.  According to my computer, that's the 12th.

As of today, I plan to be putting my knobby tire on the line myself.  If that plan does not work out, I'll be there to captain the crew.  

In the meantime, the rest of my Leadville peeps have some work to do.  Between Randy working for a buckle in 2015, Laurel saying she wants one in 2016, and myself going for a big one...that's a lot of miles to share with friends.

So, Hans...get those cranks turning.  Randy...figure out how to eat 400cal/hour without causing issues. a rockstar.  

And I'll see you all in Leadville.

Monday, December 1, 2014

So there's this climb

Climbs are legend in cycling.  I only know of one sprint that is truly famous, the Tour de France finish on the Champs Elysees.  There are many famous tracks, the velodromes Roubaix, Mexico City, and the Velodrome du Lac in Bordeaux to name a few.  But it's the mountains who's names everyone remembers.  Alpe d'Huez, Galibier, Ventoux, Stilvio, Koppenberg, Vail Pass, Independence Pass, Oakville Grade, Columbine, Powerline...

It is the climbs where the Grand Tours are won.  It is the climbs where a cyclist suffers, and it's the climbs that make or break your day at Leadville. 

Then there's the other climbs.  The ones named in local clubs routes, local races route lists, or even individual cyclists brains.  They have names like Nine Mile, Skull Valley, Chain Breaker, Spring, Sunset, Sunrise, Anita's, Mt Gary. 

In 2011, I found a climb by chance.  My wife's parents had moved to Corona Hills, CA.  When visiting for the first time, I was expecting a random LA exurb, golf course, mall, boring.  I expected flat roads, lots of traffic, and no fun for a cyclist.

What I found was magic.  A neighborhood at the base of Santiago Peak, right on the border of the Cleveland National Forest. From their house, I can roll out, cut through a walking path, hop a curb onto "Forest Boundary Road" and climb dirt for miles.  Being a national forest, there's not much single track accessible, but the road is not very "improved".  A road yes, but a road with lots of rocks, ruts, and turns to make a real mountain bike (vs a cross bike or gravel grinder) required.  

According to maps, if i climb for about 7 miles, I can intersect the Main Divide Road, which runs along a ridge separating Orange County from Riverside County.  I could ride the Main Divide road all the way North, and have a ripping descent into the town of Corona, then take the paved roads back to the house.

This climb I'm talking about is not used much.  I've never seen another bike on the road.  Strava only has 10 people listed as doing the climb.  You see it's steep.  In about 6.4 miles, it climbs 3000 feet.  That's a 10% grade.  Average.  That's steeper than Columbine, and longer than the real climb bit.  The climb has become a marker of progress.

In 2011, the first time I tried the climb, I made it about 1.5 miles.  After hopping onto the Forest Boundary Road, I made it up the half-mile paved section with my heart exploding through my chest.  There's a left turn about 100m after the road turns to dirt, then a .5 mile climb at 11% before a hairpin switchback.  I made it about 2/3 of the way to the switchback before I had to walk.  So I walked to the switchback, turned, and tried to ride.  This is where the grade increases to 12-13%. I made it about 50m, and walked again.  Made it to the Forrest gate, pointed the bike downhill, exhausted.  Took my an hour to go about 2 miles.

Spring of 2012, I made it to the first switchback.  Then I stopped, doubled over, and puked.

Fall of 2012, I made the first switchback, rested for 10 minutes, then made the gate. Rested, grunted out another 100-200m, rested.  In that fashion, I made it about 3 miles up the climb.  Took about 75 minutes.

Spring of 2013.  I'm in for Leadville.  I made the gate without stopping.  Since the gate was closed to cars, I rested a bit, then continued up.  I made it about 4 miles.  Discovered that after 3 switchbacks, false flats begin occurring every 50m or so

Winter 2013.  Post Leadville.  4.5 miles morning after relieving my father-in-law of a couple bottles of wine.  Made it all the way to a descent that twisted around the mountain further than I could see.  Worried about how far down it went, I turned around and made it back before all the bacon was eaten.

Spring 2014.  5.25 miles up, past the descent, and up a steep little climb to another false summit.  Took me an hour to get up there as the sun came up over the mountains far to the east.  15 minutes to get back to the house, made it back before the kids were awake. 

Fall 2014.  Post Leadville II.  5.5 miles.  No stops. Under an hour.  2 quick descents on the way Had to turn around when the sun dropped below the mountains.  I had strength left.  I could have made the Main Divide Road.  

That's the goal for Spring 2015.  6.5miles up.  More elevation gain than Columbine. In the same distance.  

I've found my training hill.  It's me vs the mountain.  Solitude above the urban sprawl of LA and the Inland empire.  The climb makes my heart want to explode through my chest.  Makes my quads burn fierce, and my calves strain just to keep the bike moving on the truly steep bits.  I know there's no reason to do this, other than to get better.

Makes me feel like a cyclist or something.