Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Texas Hill Country 600K

I was lucky enough to go to San Antonio , Texas for the Texas Hill Country Challenge 600k this past weekend. I was racing with Tim Case on the RAAM racing team.We had originally intended to support ourselves, but were very grateful when Fred and Rick Boethling stepped in and volunteered to crew for us. I think the hardest part of ultra racing is finding crew to give their time to take care of your every need while you search for the personal satisfaction of an official finish or whatever your goals are.The days before an ultra race are always stressful, rushing around registration, bike and vehicle checks, grocery store trip,rider meetings. A short ride and rest are missed out a lot of the time. This was no different.Tim had been sick for a 10 days before the race, so was unsure how his body was going to react, but we decided he would ride first and we would do 30-45 min pulls.After a quick rollout with race director George Thomas, the race was on. Oh it wasn't really a race as we were the only 2 person team! We still wanted to post a good time. There were two 4 person teams, one mixed and one all women.The mixed team were very fast, especially the woman on that team who took off like a rocket and we never saw them again!The roads were quite busy with a few traffic signals, I had to stop a couple of times, I'm sure these were more stressful for the solo leaders, who were in a tight race at the time, not race changing, but stressful none the less. Oh yes, I was paying close attention to the solo race as my good friend Chris Ragsdale was going up against Marko Baloh, another of the best Ultra Cyclists in the World. They were together at the front of the race with Kurt Searvogel and Bryce Walsh (no relation).I felt ok on my first few pulls and Tim and I decided being our first race of the season, him being sick and my not getting my usual training in February due to less than ideal weather, we would just focus on getting a good hard ride in nice weather. It was mid 70s I'd guess with a light cloud cover, and a little breezy.I was trying to keep my calorie intake down, to see if I could avoid the upset stomach issues I had in previous races. I drank mostly water with one bottle of heed and two of perpetuem. I ate rice cakes, Chips and peanut butter, sport beans and hammer bars.After about 40 miles traffic thinned out considerably, so that was nice. Then we hit some wicked steep hills, Tim got the short end of the stick here having to ride 2 of the 3 steeper hills in this section, the one I did felt like I was not so strong, though it was quite steep. I think if we were in a close race it would be better strategy to switch riders halfway up these hills, though finding an exchange spot could be difficult.We managed to keep a pace just a little slower than the beasts of the solo race, who had started 3 hours before us, for most of the daylight hours. Nighttime was a different story, as with only one follow vehicle every time we did an exchange our race stopped, so that was probably 5 mins or more every hour, we were taking 25 min pulls at this stage.There was one brutally hard section after about 250 miles that was probably 30 miles of gradual uphill with a ferocious headwind and "Irish" chipsealed roads, that was as much a mental challenge as it was physical, even though my speed dropped to 8 mph along here at one point!Up front Marko was pulling away, and Chris was wearing down the tenacious Kurt, to determine the top 3 places.Tim and I battled our way to the finish with great support from Fred and Rick. Our time was 20hrs 40 mins, that was 1hr 26 mins behind Marko and an hour behind Chris....amazing athletes. Everyone who finishes these ultra cycling events are exceptional athletes with dedicated support crews without whom we could not even try to race without.George Thomas has put together a great event that will continue to grow, and with the century, double century and family rides attracting more people to cycling, everyone will benefit from the RAAM Challenge Series. www.raamchallenge.comSo get out and ride, spring is about here...I hope!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I'm trying!

Honestly, I have half finished a post about Race Across the West, just no time to finish it with work, riding, partying, oh yeah....and Facebook/Twitter
A little more than two weeks to RAO, I'm starting to get mentally ready for that. Have to be mental to be ready for that!!

Spain to win the Tour AND the World Cup!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2009 by the numbers

Well, ultra racing bring the miles up, and more days off!

Total Miles: 15,921 (25,622kms)
Biggest mileage month: May, 1,987
Smallest mileage month November 797
48 days off the bike
Longest Ride: 217 miles
200+ mile rides: 3
100+ mile rides: 16 (first one on May 2nd)

My goal for 2010 is to increase my longest ride distance :-)
Like 517 miles in July.....

Monday, December 28, 2009

Solstice 200k

A few weeks ago I signed up to the SIR email group, just to see what's going on with the Rando side of Riding in Seattle.
It was just an innocent email (I get in digest form) that sugessted a 200k ride from Pete's Coffee in Redmond to celebrate the Solstice, only thing was it started at 9pm! Mr Mark Thomas was suggesting an all night ride to celebrate the longest night of the year!!! He also required you leave common sense at home, I think that's what got me thinking. I spent a week going back and forth, that would be cool, noooo that is stupid....yes I'll do it, no I won't. Also there was the issue of work the next day as it was scheduled for a Sunday night.
Finally, on Saturday, I bit the bullet and decided it would be good "prep" for RAO in JULY!! (leave common sense at home!) I would do the ride until it was time to go to work then head for Bellevue and work 8 hrs with NO sleep, then ride home, hey I can be dummer than the best of them :-)
So, I left home at 7pm (after doing a 35 mile ride in the morning and a short nap after lunch) to be sure to be there in time to hand in paperwork, have a cup of coffee and see if anyone else was crazy enough to do this ride, with heavy rain in the forecast.
I brought both batteries and the charger for my Light and Motion Hi-Arc light, plus a bunch of hammer bars and Martha's Gluten free cookies, my fanny pack weighed a ton!
Much to my surprise there were 12 of us starting this insanity Dominique, Cecil, Geoff, Lyn, Vincent, Dan, Joe, Robin, Steve, Mike,Mark and I. Robin being the only one I had met before, I knew of Mark and Vincent from the Barlow 300k, and Chris Ragsdale had a lot of nice things to say about Mark, who crewed him to victory at The Furnace Creek 508 with Bob Brudvik. Everyone was friendly to me, being the outsider of the group, so that was nice.
We took off just after 9, and headed up Novelty Hill, where it started what was the first of many hour long downpours. Going down Novelty Hill to Snoqualmie Valley was a new experience! descending fast in the dark and pouring rain, but we all survived. I think there were 6 of us together at this stage, so we just rode a steady tempo. The first control was at what was Carnation Farm and was a question that I think only Joe knew what it was, it's too much trouble to take out your card with the question on it in the dark and rain.
After Carnation Robin cranked up the pace and by the time we hit Fall City it was just him and I, then riding up snoqualmie falls we tore the legs off each other, so called a truce and rode around the weyerhauser loop enjoying the night and chatting away, along with getting the wrong answer for the 2nd control question ;-)
We all regrouped at the QFC in North Bend, where Joe took some photos of the crazed bunch.
I was really cold starting back out, at 12.15am, and as we were riding back down to Fall City I had to go fast to warm up, so once again it soon was just Robin and me pounding each other up from Fall City to Issaquah, although I wondered why he didn't stay with me (as it was more likely he would ride away from me on the other climbs). I got to the top and he was nowhere in sight, so at maybe 2am I went back looking for him, I came upon the rest of the group and they said he had flatted and we would regroup in Issaquah.
Riding out there in the dark was so cool, and quite safe, compared to some of the daytime rides I've done. I was just thankful to have a group of people be there too, there is no way I would attempt this by myself, I'm too much of a wuss.
After regrouping in Issaquah we went in Newport Way, all the way to Coal Creek, and on Newport Robin, Vincent and I separated ourselves from the main group, we all got together again at the AM/PM on coal creek, where the clerk was a tad perturbed to be having to serve 12 loons on bikes at 4am in the pouring rain, he was more interested in getting the garbage collected. Newcastle cops showed up here too, asking if we were OK! I won't answer that one ;-)
Next was May Valley, Issaquah-Hobart, Cedar Grove, Lk Francis Rd and Maple Valley. Lyn had a flat and nobody heard her call out, (sorry Lyn) so we were a while waiting there. It was just after 5, I think when we started up the Cedar River trail to Renton and the west side of Lake Wa. I decided to try to make it to Starbucks in Leschi, as I was starting to feel sleepy and some Coffee and food might help with that.
We got to Starbucks just after 6, so I had to rush some food, bid farewell to my fellow insomniacs and head over I-90 to work. Man did I get dumped on!! had to ride as hard as I could too, to make it to work, which I did at about 7.15 just enough time to change and start at 7.30.
That was one hard day in work! Luckily my clothes had dried out from the 130 mile commute for the ride home and it was not raining, but I was not riding very fast and was starting to get sleepy again. I finally made it home at about 6.15pm and eat dinner, prepared for the next day at work and went to bed at 8pm.
It had been 37 hrs since I had woken up on Sunday morning, though I did have a 1 hr nap after lunch on Sunday, and I rode a total of 190 miles in that time.

Can I stay awake that long and ride 520 miles in July??? That's why I'm doing it!

Happy New Year to you all


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Race Across Oregon

Well, this last weekends race was one I have been looking forward to all season. I was doing the 517 mile Race Across Oregon on the 4 man relay team, Koenig's Kronies.

We were a mix of Ultra Rider Chris Ragsdale, Bike Racer Mick Walsh, Randonneur Brian Ohlemeir and Recreational Cyclist Ian Luttrell. Our crew were guys from SIR randonneurs, Eric Vigoren,Mike McHale, Ian's friend Miles Matsen and the Legend we were named after....Urs.

A lot of organising and planning went into several pre-race meetings and enjoyable dinners getting to know each other, until the day finally arrived and we all made our way to Hood River for the start.

Our goals for the race were to have fun and ride hard first, then try to win the 4 man team division, and we knew if we won we would have a course record, as race organisers George Thomas and Terri Gooch designed a new course for 2009.

Friday afternoon at the host hotel, the Best Western Hood River Inn was a hive of activity, everyone rushing around setting up cars, vans and the 4 Tandem team with their custom built tandem rack built in the back of a pick-up. Bikes had to be readied too, making sure we had the right lights and reflective tape in the correct place. We managed to pass vehicle and bike inspections, so the Urs and Miles made the trip to Safeway to buy supplies for Riders and crew, we were going to be out there for at least 24 hrs, and there were 8 of us to be feed, not to mention gallons of water to drink in the expected hot temperatures .

After a hearty dinner we were off to bed and try to get some sleep, solos left at 5am but we didn't start until 9, so we had a relaxing morning before heading off on out adventure.

The race starts out with a parade led by George Thomas, up a stinkin' hill in the spirit of RAO! After 9 miles George pulls off and away you go! Chris was doing our first leg, so the rest of us had more time to drive to the first exchange, Brian was next, then Ian and finally me. We expected Chris to be first to us at 17 miles, but I knew a couple of racers could stay close to him. We were pleasantly surprised when there was no one in sight when he arrived, he must had had about 1 1/2 minutes on the next guy!!! From the Grundel Bruisers 4 man Team. Brian was looking good on roads I'm familiar with from the Mount Hood Cycling Classic, so I knew his tempo was smooth on an never ending climb. My first pull was after the Cooper Spur turn off, my legs hurt from all the standing around yesterday, but I'll have plenty of opportunities to feel better later :-)
Our vans were set up great, just hand off your bike after your pull, hop in the van and take off the shoes, there was an always stocked dispensing cooler of ice cold water, and I had my Heed and Perpetuem right there, along with Enduralytes and Anti-Fatigue capsules. Also had some Gluten Free snacks and Hammer Bars on hand. We were never short on food or drinks and our van crew Mike and Eric were persistent in asking if we needed anything. How could you not ride as fast as you could?

We took 15-20 min pulls each, and that was plenty of time for recovery, with 4 guys. At the first time station, 70 odd miles in, we were ahead by 14 mins, and it continued to grow throughout the race, so we just had to focus on maintaining our pace, hope nobody got sick and try to catch the oh so impressive Kenneth Philbrick who was ripping it up in the solo division.

I hope to one day do this race solo, but when we were passing the first of the solo's after about 200 miles, I was thinking , that does not look like fun at all, riding 10mph in 90 deg temps, with 300 miles to go...amazing some of them, especially Sandy Earl rallied and made the official finish before 5am Monday.

Night riding was fun with the car headlight making visibility safe. We saw many deer, some elk, a bat, owls and I met a young Coyote that didn't seem to know what to do! Luckily all the wildlife kept their distance and we survived the night.
I think I got two or three 10-15 min naps, and sometimes I was hardly able to keep my eyes open right before I was due to ride, but once on the bike I was fine.
We eventually caught Mr Philbrick on the 10 mile climb between Service Creek and Fossil, and, though going a lot slower than we were, he looked to be in control and riding smoothly. It took us about 375 miles to catch 4 hrs, that's one tough solo rider!
It was great to see Martha as I finished my pull into Maupin, and she leapfrogged us as we went up FR44 near the finish, then Ian's parents showed up.
I got to take the last pull up to the Cooper Spur Resort (Thanks guys!) it didn't seem so bad, maybe I just am used to being under pressure when racing up there. We all rode together for the last mile or so up to the ski lifts and the finish, which was nice.
George and Terri (and Amelia) were there to give us our finishers medals, and Martha had some drinks and snacks for us.
Our finishing time was 26 hrs and 27 mins, all in all a great experience with a great bunch of guys, I suggest you try it sometime, if you're in reasonable shape it is not sooo hard on a 4 person team, yet still challenging and fun. I was super impressed with Kenneth, of course, but Chad Swanson had a great ride in his first Ultra event. The Tandem Team, Yes 4 tandem team!! Impressed me too, I must say I worried that they had bitten off more than they could handle, some had only started riding last fall!! They finished in 34 hrs.

Official results are here http://www.raceacrossoregon.com/race_results

And if you want to try ultra racing on a smaller scale to start try the Ring of Fire 6/12/24 hr TT in Maupin in Sept http://www.raceacrossoregon.com/roftt

Now for Cascade Classic!!

Cheers and have a great Summer :-)

Monday, May 25, 2009


Well, It's been a while, to say the least. But it's not easy riding 43 miles commuting, working 8 hrs a day and trying to keep up on Facebook updates, as well as Cyclingnews.com too.

Interesting year so far for me, started off with terrible weather and an inability to ride my bike more than 12 mph....on a good day!
Luckily I'm married to the best caregiver in the world, and she figured out I might be Gluten Intolerant. Martha has been baking all kinds of Gluten Free goodies and making sure I've had a Gluten Free lunch at work too. Thanks to her I am feeling better, lots a ton of weight and riding many miles this month. In the 10 days to Saturday (where I did 213 miles in the Lewis and Clark Ultra 12 hr) I totalled 900 miles. I feel like I have not been racing very much, probably true. It will be interesting to see how my body reacts when I get to racing at Mt Hood and Elkhorn Stage races.
Then I was talked into racing the Race Across Oregon on a 4 man team, that's 528 miles, in 20 minute increments!!!! Then it's back to Bend for Cascade Classic.
August is my rebuild month to see If I can go back and finish my first 24 hr race at Ring of Fire on Sept 12th-13th.

Hopefully it will be less than 5 months before my next post....but you'd never know.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I like this quote, and to be able to race like this AND win is a sign of true greatness.

A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Nobody is going to win a 5,000 meter race after running an easy 2 miles. Not with me. If I lose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself.

Happy Christmas! or whatever else you celebrate.