30 March, 2011


I will try to recall my second Barry-Roubaix experience in some sort of format that will allow you to live the day as I did.  This is my first race after following my first training program.  I anticipated a finish around the 2:15-2:20 mark.

5:25 am: Alarm goes off.  I roll out of bed and throw on some clothes in order to go load the truck.

5:45 am: Truck loaded, hands numb.  I head upstairs to wake-up my wife. [She graciously volunteered to work for the race, saving us the entry fee.  Next year I am sure she will just tell me to pay the money]

5:55 am: On the road, headed to Middleville.  Temperature display in the truck reads 13 degrees.

6:10 am: Stop at QD in Charlotte, get some coffee. Damn you Biggby, why do you open at 7 on Saturdays!

7:00 am: McDonald's in Hastings.  Three hours until race time.  Time to get the traditional pre-race sausage biscuit and a hashbrown.

7:10 am:  Arrive at the starting area.  Arrived 10 minutes later than scheduled, but early enough that I didn't have to park directly next to the porta-Johns.  Temperature in the truck reads 15 degrees.

7:15 am: We head up to the registration area, get Danielle all set-up at her station, I get registered.

7:45 am: I said some "Hello's" and commented on the weather.  Back to the truck to warm-up and try to catch a little nap.

8:15 am:  Nap didn't really work.  Just sat in the truck and listened to the radio.  I step back into the cold to remove my bike from the rack and assemble it.  Weather check, still cold.

8:30 am: Got changed into my race attire.  Base layer, Under Armor cold gear shirt, long sleeve jersey, Pearl Izumi coat thing, bike shorts, bib tights and SmartWool socks.

8:40 am: Remove layers from top half of my body, and bib straps in order to put on hear monitor strap.  Get redressed.

8:50 am: Open up my packages of warmers to get warmed-up before finishing dressing.

9:00 am: Dined on a Lara bar and some Powerade.

9:10 am:  Attached toe warmers to bottom of socks as instructed.  Put on my Lake cycling boots, with a second "footwarmer" pad in the arch of my foot.  Fiddled with the placement of said footwarmers for the next 10 minutes putting them in a comfortable spot.

9:20 am:  Gloves on, hand warmers nestled on the back of my hands.  Head out to warm up.  I see my Twin Six and On2Wheels teammate Jake as I ride along, exchange pleasantries.

9:30 am:  Back at the truck, fingers numb.  Moved the hand warmers to the palm of my hands.  Head back to the bike to continue "warming" up.

9:45 am:  Realize I need to give the truck keys to my wife, so she isn't locked outside for the next 2+ hours.  Drop them off, get my "Be careful" and "Pedal hard" motivations.

9:50 am: Jump into the back of the cattle corral, realizing I am at the back of the third wave and begin pushing my way up towards the front of the second wave.  I see Brad and another rider from the Toms team.

10:00 am:  Pros take off, and our wave stumbles forward in anticipation.

10:02 am: Go go go!  Our wave is off!

10:02:04 am:  Some Foolish rider next to me decides he wants to be the rider directly in front of me, and almost causes me to crash.  Frustrated as I hop along on one unclipped foot that my race almost ended before crossing the starting line.  He must be fighting for a podium spot to be riding so aggressively!

10:03 am:  Adrenaline pumping, it is now time to  put that anger to work, and start making back some places.  I never see any of my friends again.  Brad, Jake, Sean, etc.  I am alone.

The following events are based on mileage, as I was no longer watching the time, only the "clock"!

Mile 2: Legs burning, bile bubbling, making the right-hander onto Hastings Point, working my way back through the group still.  I have no idea where I am in the back, I am just following some other rider.  I recall looking down and seeing the Redline logo on his chainstays, and thinking to myself "I am!"

Mile 3: On to Duffy road, the first gravel section.  Conditions were great, the surface was hard and rolling was smooth.  I cannot believe how much dust is being churned up, I am riding through a tan have, and making up a few more positions.  Time for a drink.  Dribble dribble.  Crap, I am now riding with a Carborocket slushie.  Shake the bottle a few more times and get about a teaspoon of liquid.  Maybe it will melt.

Mile 5: On to Sager Road.  This isn't half bad.  Surface is compact and the puddles are easily navigated.  My legs are burning, heart rate is in the red, but I am still making OK time.  Well, that is until I get a stick (grapevine?) wrapped around my cassette.  I pull to the side, and remove the offensive debris, and get back on the bike.  Lost probably 3 places, and 12-15 seconds.

Mile 7:  Sharp left turn, take it cautiously, maybe a bit too much.

Mile 13:  Nothing memorable in the last 5 miles until here.  Climbing some hill I don't recall.  Seems awfully steep, am I on the right road?  As I crest the top of the hill and spot the cemetery.  Ah yes, I remember now, "Cemetery Hill" where I always feel like I should lay down amongst the headstones.

Mile 18: Here there is some bottles of water along side the road, but I pass them up.  [NOTE:  I also notice numerous bike water bottles alongside the road, and often consider picking one up]

Mile 19.5:  What are you looking at jackass?  I think of my boy Sean out riding, and hope he is doing okay.

Mile 21: Hanging left onto Yeckley Road, the "Three Sisters" are coming up.  Three hills in succession, each one bigger than the last.  Grab my water bottle and give it a shake, I am able to squeeze out 3 drops of liquid to dampen my tongue.  Stuff the bottle into my jersey pocket.  If my body heat doesn't melt the bottle, at least the cold will feel good on my aching back.  First hill was not too bad.  Second seems like the "big one".  Then I reach the "Eye of the Tiger" climb with a family out cheering.  I stand and hammer, vowing to make a good showing for the people outside, not letting them know the pain I am feeling right now.  Then I hear "Nice beard" and that is all the motivation I need to crest the hill and fly down the other side.

Mile 23:  Are those more bottles of water set out for riders?  Crap, took too long to realize it, and keep rolling.  NO stopping or turning around.  I tried working with a couple groups along the way.  They either seemed to catch me and I couldn't hang, or catch me and slow down on the next hill.

Mile 25: Bang a right by the horse farm, nearly sliding out at the apex of the turn, but recovering and resume pedaling past the pond.  Stop looking at me swan!

Mile 25.5:  Aid station, I slow down a bit, reach out my arm and grab a water, spilling approximately half onto my hand and arm.  I then finish the remaining shot of water.  I immediately feel like Popeye when he gets his spinach.  I feel life returning to my legs, and I begin the final drive to the finish.

Mile 27:  Wrapping up the dirt sections.  The 35 mile and 23 mile courses merged back at the aid station, and I am now seeing riders suffering in the various levels of hell.  I try to motivate them with "The pavement is just ahead," knowing that the pain isn't complete.

Mile 28:  Make the turn onto Gun Lake Road.  Something like 7 miles left, and around 1:38 into the race.  Doing some math in my head, I might be able to break 2 hours, but I am gonna have to get all out.  More broken riders strewn alongside the road.  Pushing their bikes up the hills, heads down, just looking for the torture to end.  I go deep, knowing if I get sub-3 minute miles, I can make it.

Mile 34:  Make the turn into the park, legs spent, throat parched.  I know this is the final drive to the finish.  I drop into my lowest gear and grind it out.  No more looking at times, calculating rates, or thinking about anything other than the finish.  Shut up legs.  I am passing people that have submitted to the road, but I will not.

Mile 35:  I scrub off a bit of speed at I hit the chicane on the left and stand to drive to the finish.  I see two people ahead of me.  One is a guy barely turning the pedals, and another on a cross bike still moving.  I will NOT let either of these two finish ahead of me.

Mile 35.33:  Finished.  I am still going full speed as I cross the line.  I think I caught the "cross rider" but I am not sure.  I keep going past the finish line, through the crowd of people standing in the middle of the road and straight to my truck. [NOTE:  Seriously, when you are done with the race, get out of the way!]

The End:  I lay the bike on the truck, reach into the back for the water and juice I placed back there, hoping that they too are not frozen.  32 oz. of sports drink gone in a flash, and I am looking for more.  My wife makes it over to me, but doesn't say much.  She knows that when I am exiting my pain cave, I am not much for conversation (am I ever?).

I get hydrated, and begin changing into some dry clothes.  We head over to the pavilion to check the results.  Finish time of 2:00:22, for a place of 23.  The time of the "Cross guy" was 2:00:22.  I didn't beat him, and he was placed 22 (of a total 75 riders).  I don't know what pisses me off more, the 23 seconds that would have permitted me to break 2 hours, or the guy with the same time got a higher place.

What the Truck?  We jump in line for some grub.  About 4 people in line ahead of us, so the wait was maybe 8 minutes.  I grab a beef bulgagi burrito and a spicy chicken taco.  I don't know if it was the racing or what, but I think this was the best burrito I ever ate.  I tore up my food, and went for beer.  Priorities I guess.  The Founders guys were great, and I let some guy call "Handicapped cuts" to get in line in front of me.  I later find out this was Garth Prosser.

Time to head home, I am tired, but sated with Korean-Mex and Michigan Beer.  At home we begin unloading the truck, and I notice that my CarboRocket has almost completely melted, and I make a mental not to let my bottles freeze in the future.

I check the times of a few friends, local rider Wade got first, Jesse got 4th, and so forth.  I hope they go 65  miles next year.  Maybe then I will shoot for top 10, or not race at all (my winter training regime is now up in the air).  Time for a nap.

A couple of my goals for this season were to: Improve on 2010 race times, and increase endurance by Barry-Roubaix.  My time at BRX in 2010 was like 1:42 for 23 miles.  So I rode an additional 12 miles in 18 minutes, and my average speed went from 13.5 MPH to 17.4 MPH.  Moving from a 29er to a cross bike probably helped quite a bit, but I will consider those goals met!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  I found the time for the guy that cut me off at the beginning of the race.  He was over 13 minutes slower than I was, I guess he wasn't getting that podium spot after all. ..

18 March, 2011

Getting Close!

Barry-Roubaix is just over a week away.  Although I have put in a lot more training this year than the last, I am not entering this race very confident.

There are currently 362 riders in my category!  So, I guess I am shooing for a place of 181 or higher to meat one of my training goals.

Training has been coming along OK.  Starting this week I dropped the second day of weight lifting, and I am riding an extra day per week.  As of last Wednesday (9MAR11) I crossed the 1,000 mile mork for this training season.  I didn't record my miles last year, but I would guess they totaled less than 1k.  So, before racing at all this year, I have exceed last years miles.

Today I was in my office, and was reminded of my trip to Tsukuba, Japan last fall.  In the middle of my bulletin board mess, above the phone receiver, is a card from Hi-Bike, in Japan.  This was by far the most friendly bike shop experience I have ever received.

After walking about 2 miles in the hot sun, with temperatures approaching 90 F, I stumbled into this store a sweaty mess.  I barely had the sense to snap a cell picture on my approach.  As soon as I walked in the store owner (?) dispatched his wife (?) to the upstairs of this building.  I continued to browse, looking for some bike items to bring home with me.  A few moments later, she returned with this tall glass of iced green tea on a tray.  It was THE MOST refreshing drink I think I have ever had.  I ended up buying a shop jersey, and departed.  However, their kindness is recalled to this day.

I also spent some time at another shop, Forza Bikes.  This shop was a bit more frustrating.  I found the store via google maps.  Unfortunately, my Droid 3G was not useful here, so I had to get my bearings using the WiFi at the convention center, and head out.  [ SIDENOTE: WiFi is not everywhere in Japan.  Quite the opposite, it is parctically nowhere.  The hotel had wired internet, and our convention had to bring their own wireless system].  Upon arriving at the shop, I noticed the doors were locked.  There was the friendly black lab barking through the window.  Apparently there is some international rule requiring "shop dogs".

It was easy to tell they were open from Noon to 10, but what days?  So I walked to this shop every day during my lunch break (the first day twice), until I found them open (on the third day).  This shop employees were also pretty friendly, and I again wandered around, looking for jersey.  I found and purchased a medium short sleeve jersey.  I took my prize back to the hotel, and proceed for a proper try on.  The thing was small.  So back to the shop again the next day and swapped it for an XL long sleeve, the only other size and jersey  that they had.  This one fit much better.  Some of you may have seen me wearing it around, with the giant peacock on the back.

Gibert Godfried jokes aside, my thoughts go out to those in Japan, moreso since I have been there, and I know the pride and courtesy these people have for their country.  The most offensive thing about this joke issue is that somebody actually thought they we funny.  I wish I could go there and help rebuilt their facilities, but I know the schedule here would never allow.

UPDATE:  I just received this message from the good folks at Hi-Bike:

Dear Jon W[9]

Big earth quike......

But we staff&family  all OK!!!

thank you !
Hi-Bike    Hitoshi NAKAMURA

10 March, 2011

One Day Left!

Today is it.  The culmination of about 9 weeks of heavy lifting.  No more hypertrophy or Muscular strength workouts.  No more 2 reps at 95% 1RM, and I am very glad.

For the last two months just about every entry in my training log has contained "Heavy legs," "Tired legs," "Sore legs," or some other combination therein.  I am hoping that after a week or so, I will start to get some of that "snap" back, a little spring in my step.  Not the feeling I have had lately when I get on the bike of "I wonder how long I can pedal for tonight."

Next week I will then reduce my time in the gym to 1 day a week, doing more endurance type work.  This will go on for a couple months, then I will drop the gym membership for the summer.

I will also start going back towards race weight, and not worry so much about cramming myself full of whey shakes and other protein sources.  No need to continue the caloric excess to build muscle.

I am also anxious to get back to some racing, to see if all this offseason work has produced anything more than lead legs.

It is a couple weeks until Barry-Roubaix, and I am not sure if I am ready.  I have calculated a finishing time between 2.33 and 2.6 hours.  This is based on  last year's performance extrapolated to 35 miles, and last Sunday's ride.  An average of these two numbers gives 2 hours, 28 minutes.  If it were 2010, that would place me at 56th place out of 72 racers.  Certainly nothing to write home about.

That is a picture of my bike after 2.5 hours out on Sunday.  A mix of paved and mud roads.  It took over an hour to get it cleaned up enough to go back inside on the trainer.  I am not sure if that was a good return on investment.

I have purchased a handful of new stuff for this season, so I may begin a (brief) series of unsolicited reviews.  These would be my untrained opinion, and will probably never contain "vertical compliance" of "plushness," unless I was perhaps reviewing some sort of stuffed animal seatbag.