Saturday, May 31, 2014

Less fear

the Carver Ti 29er dragon bike rides again
Race Strategy(s)
There a numerous race strategy’s for the TDR.  And they tend to go hand in hand with the various bike and gear selections.  Having completed the 2010 TDR my thinking has evolved a bit.  When I look back I realize I spent much of my time in 2010 worrying about what ‘might’ happen.  
 ya baby, my new jersey from LBS

Well what might happen ‘might’ but most likely ‘won’t’.   

So for 2014 I have chosen gear and an overall strategy focused on fear reduction. 
·         I will make better & more ‘race focused’ (and fewer ‘comfort focused’) choices as the race unfolds.
·         I will stop less overall and be more effective when I do.

·         I will maintain the best pace I can but will not overextend myself on climbs.

·         Within reason I will not let rain, or distant rain clouds, dictate my saddle time or end of day.

·         I will not routinely over supply or carry to much water.

·         I will camp more but with a more resilient sleep system.
·         I will ride longer but may stop more often at the opportunities for real food. (Note to self: do not over eat real food except at the end of the day)

·         I may take more power naps rather than always try to caffeine my way through.

·         I will not carry to many superfluous repair parts and extra clothing. Or have tires and drivetrain items unnecessarily replaced.

·         I hope to sometimes ride with other racers.  But will not automatically lock into someone else’s pace or schedule. (note: this is a complex topic so please don’t read too much into my abbreviated comments)

In short I will endeavor to apply the lessons I learned in 2010 to race smarter and harder.  And along the way I hope/plan to finish faster yet enjoy the overall experience even more.

Dragon bike is ready to get down to it



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Training Taper for the TDR?

Boreas Pass May 29th

I hope to get in at least 4-6 additional ‘easy to moderate’ 25 to 70 mile rides between now and when I hop on the plane. Actually I would do quite a bit more but unless I want to ride late at night my time/work will not allow.

But this brings me to questions about tapering before the big event.  I don’t think classic taper protocol means much if anything for the TDR.  Sort of along the same line as training for a classic race-fitness ‘peak’ means little for the TDR.  The long TDR is different enough from shorter races that much of what works so well for those shorter/max effort races doesn’t translate 100%.  A strong base fitness directly translates, but I question if a classic peak or a typical 1-2 week taper means anything for the TDR.

In 2010 I was very concerned about ‘starting slow’ during the first few days so I got in some truly hard riding on the day I departed for Banff and once more on the drive up.  Worked well as I got a great start and did not need to ‘ease into’ the big miles.  I hit the ground running; I felt my body was still fully acclimated to the ‘hard push’ with no lag ramping back up.

Because I am flying to Banff this time around and what with boxing up the bike and such I will not be able to replicate my 2010 routine.  So I plan to approach my first 3 days TDR days a bit differently.  Basically I hope to use a little more ‘soft pedal’ early on but yet try to extend the actual time in the saddle. 

Ya, Ya, I know--It’s all just mental gymnastics at this late date, but hey it gives me something to distract myself with.

More off topic pictures for this blog episode:
I had to be in Silverthorne CO for work and afterwards had the chance to ride the TDR route from Frisco to about 1/3 the way up Boreas Pass.  Just an easy spin of about 25 miles on bike path and up a gentle ‘railroad grade’ climb.
Boreas Pass is still closed to motorized vehicles but pretty dry up to about 10,700ft where I had to turn around due to time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Elevation and Food

Food is the second most important item on the TDR.  (In case you are wondering--First is ‘body’, Second is ‘food’ and Third is 'bike') 

If your body breaks you are basically done as a racer, as once broken you probably not going to be able to fix yourself in a reasonable amount of time.  This is why body is 1st. You might still finish but likely nowhere near your best time.
On the other hand if your bike breaks you have a good chance to get going again without losing to much time. hence bike is 3rd. (Then again break it in the wrong way/spot and you could lose days)
Which brings us to #2, food.  Sure you can skimp or miss some food here and there.  But bad things tend to happen if you run out or believe you have to ‘conserve’.  You slow way down and mentally it gets truly tough.  Miss enough meals or play to much 'must conserve' game and the lost time piles up.  And time lost is never to be found.  Again you can finish, but doubtless it will be at slower time than anticipated.

But how do food and elevation profiles go together?  Simple, to get to the next food, in a timely manner, you have to complete the elevation.  IE: get to the small little store 1 hr after it closes and you could lose hours.  Make this mistake several times and you could lose a day or so.
I will carry a GPS for navigation, and while the GPS and my I-Phone have maps I will not really use them much, if at all.  Virtually all my food & logistics planning will come from memory and simple profile sheets.  This is the same basic approach I used with good success in 2010.  Back then I never needed a ‘map’ per say.  In 2010 I was working off of study, memorization and also used slightly more detailed profile chart(s).  This time around I will carry simpler profile charts, they just show mileage, elevation and key re-supply points.  The elevation and miles tell me how soon I can expect hit the next marker(s).  A 'red line' marker could mean several 'critical' things, could be 24hr access or just better “look/plan ahead” up to the next guaranteed re-supply point.  IE: From here what do I have to purchase to make the next ‘red’ marker if the blues will be closed or water only? Blue basically means things like limited hours, just water or ‘maybe I do, maybe I don’t’ re-supply there.  Dashed means might be closed etc.
When I am exhausted and not thinking straight and trying to decide how much to buy/carry, I will pull out these profiles.  No telling where I will be at any given time.  So as I re-supple in that slightly incoherent ‘here and now’ I can insure I will have enough to reach the next red line or perhaps a blue line during normal business hours.  I also will study them at night and ‘plan’ the following day. 

Simple and easy for the befuddled mind.  Yet little wasted time poring over maps or pestering strangers or fellow TDR racers for re-supply info.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Noisy Training Ride

Today we went on a training ride on the path that goes through the Air Force Academy.  We were treated to a show by the Thunderbirds.  Not sure if they were practicing for graduation or if they were doing a memorial day program.
 They sometimes came in low and caused quite the noise.

Click on this link for their performance schedule

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day Post

(I am a Thankful Vet who gets to race the divide)


To help reintegrate traumatically combat-injured U.S. veterans and active service members from recent wars into society by building hope and resilience, facilitating camaraderie, and providing security and serenity through fly fishing and other high quality therapeutic recreational mediums in southwest Montana
Scott Williams, a rookie TDR racer with a strong road racing background and one who has the tools to race at the tip of the 50 yr-old+ group has asked a favor of me. 

Scott (with the help of his wife & daughters), like many TDR racers is raising money for a charitable cause and has invited me to participate in their efforts. 
Every cause that fellow TDR racers are raising money for seem worthy.  But this one hits a wee bit closer to home than many.
I don’t normally ask others to contribute or make donations. Usually I follow the ‘anonymous’ path in these matters. 
However, as a Vet this one does hit close enough to home that I am asking you -- any & all family, friends or fellow TDR racers who read my blog to seriously consider a donation to Scott’s cause!

Just follow the link to the Warriors and Quite Waters Foundation, go to the donation page and follow the drill.
Hey, be sure to type “racing the divide" under the "additional comments” box.

Thanks in advance and have a great Memorial Day!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Running Cool on the TDR

just added a simple & light insulated slip cover
I have been meaning to do this for a while, and considering the time line I guess it’s now or never.  I’ve used this same trick many times and also back in 2010.  I have found I can make a 2.5L mix of ice/water (or my favorite TDR energy/drink,-ice/pepsi) stay ice cold till it’s used up.  Sometimes there is enough ice left to cool more water from a warm external refill.  May not mean much in Montana but a insulated bladder could be quite nice to have come NM’s hot dusty sections.  Hey every little thing helps and I am tempted to drink more/better when it’s ice cold
Also the slick aluminized cover makes it easier to slip the bladder into the frame bag and reduces the chances of the zipper snagging the soft plastic.

Side note:  Feel the anxiety yet?
Am I, and a small handful of others, the only TDR racers who update their blog???
I just went thru all the blogs on the signup list and almost no one is adding to their blogs--come on I need more distracting reading materials over the next two weeks to keep me from climbing the wall ....

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Small Details

In my preparations for the 2014 TDR I am down to the small stuff.  I received my last eBay purchase today, a short USB power cord for my GPS.  All the new parts are now installed; all the bags, cables, bar ends routed or wrapped, basically all is done but final pack out and boxing.

Speaking of GPS’s, my main GPS unit started acting funny (intermittent USB power) during my shake down ride so I took it apart tonight thinking I would find a broken solder joint.  But what I found was 4 pressure connectors that might have been making less than ideal contact, hard to tell for sure.  I cleaned and re-sprung the pressure connectors and reassembled it as best as possible. These eTrex Vista’s are not really designed for field repair so mine may not now be quite as water tight as before.  Oh well I will re-test it over the next few days and replace it if necessary. I will be carrying my old but still working 2007 unit as a backup. 
Inaddition to my Garmin GPS units my I-Phone is also loaded with a base map and TDR route track so if both Garmins were to fail I could try to limp on down to AW with the I Phone powered from the USB charger per dymo hub.

I also switched out from white leg/arm coolers to black ones.  White leg coolers not only look sort of funny they are also soon stained from dirty hands and the inevitable chain/grease stains. But before I can use my new arm coolers I have to sew up a small hole in one—
I nicked it cutting off the tags—gurrr…..

I just finished off a worrisome work hurdle and have only 2 work related travel requirements between now and my departure for Banff.  During the next 21 days I plan to get in about 10 more training rides, will make sure all the new stuff is working and adjusted.
todays ride was nice--new Fast Trak tires roll fast but still hook up in the sand and dirt

It feels good to have everything but the little stuff done.  In a few more days I will sit down and make out a final check list.  It will include things like ‘add a spare brake bolt’ to ‘buy a pair of cheap travel pants’ to ‘add a empty Ziploc bag’ to…………………………………..


Sunday, May 18, 2014

TDR Racer & Master Bike Mechanic

Had some spare time over the weekend and began installing a pile of new parts.  I am more of a ‘just oil the chain & ride’ kind of guy but there is a certain satisfaction that comes from installing new bike parts.  Basically every moving or wear part on my bike is now new.  My only minor concern is the sealed cartridge bearings in my new Revo Mk1 dynamo hub.  Unlike a normal hub you cannot do a spin test to ‘feel’ a sticky, failing bearing.  Also I cannot find anything about replacement.  I have some hard miles and some wet riding on the hub, it would be nice to know the bearings are still running smooth…

But other than the dynamo hub all the other stuff is done, BB 30 bearings, chain, chain rings, cassette, rear hub bearings, spoke & rims re-tensioned etc etc…..

In a couple more weeks I take my final training ride and commence final final gear selection and bike/box packing. It’s getting more  real with each passing day………in many ways I am ready to be done with all the ‘extra’ time and effort that goes into the TDR.  I know my wife is way past ready for it to be behind us.

I went back and revisited one of my January posts, “GoLight to Go Fast “

That January post included this weight chart:

2014 Weight Chart
Nov 20th               187lbs
Dec 23rd                181lbs
Jan 18th                 174lbs
edit: Feb 23           169lbs
edit April 1st         166lbs
May 28                 my Birthday
June 11th              fly to Banff

As I sit here in a airport on my way to S CA for work I am now at 158 lbs, or about 3 lbs shy of my original 155lbs ‘race’ weight goal.
almost naked bike on a quick bike path ride with Sharon

Yup, it’s getting real, real fast……….

Monday, May 12, 2014

Report, TDR Shake down Ride

(old bridge crossing of San Miguel River near Atkinson Creek)

Andrew and I rolled out of Grand Junction about 5pm.  The wind had died down and conditions were great for an evening ride.  We worked the back roads to Loma and did some Kokopelli Trail. 
(Andrew on some hike-a-bike)
My new shoes and cleats were giving me fits in the single track and I had visions of taking a tumble off a cliff.  Later down the trail, after dark Andrew took a small digger in some rocks while trying to save battery life on his main light.  I was happy to have my dynamo powered Revo and headlight.  My lighting system for the TDR might be overkill but it is going to be nice knowing I have unlimited handlebar light. Later we resupplied with water and ate dinner at the Westwater Ranger Station/ Boat ramp.  It was cold down by the river and we moved on back up the trail and found a nice warm desert style camp spot.  With my Z-pak tent, full pad and warm bag I was comfortable, warm and slept picture-perfect.

We were taking it easy and I did not set an alarm, woke up at 5 rolled out about 6:00 am.   Andrew was setting a nice pace, yesterday and today.  
(Andrew has strong ST skills--as well as a strong TDR style rider he would do great on the CTR and AZT)
To hold Andrew's pace I had to push myself a bit higher than my normal. It felt good to ride slightly above my normal limit.  I can tell my conditioning is coming around just in time for the tour.  From the Kokopelli we transitioned to Hwy 128 and rolled it into Moab.  I had to laugh when we hit the bike path.  Andrew went flying by a mountain biker out for a day ride and he sped up and tried to match pace.  I tailed along behind them and watched as this would be racer slowly fell off Andrew’s wheel.  I think he was totally demoralized at not being able to hold the wheel of a fully loaded mtn bike, maybe even more so when I said hi as I went on by………..
We were both fantasizing about real food and stopped at Denny’s and loaded up.  Andrew had been experiencing knee pain and asked the waitress for some ice.  Ha, she thought he wanted ice for a cooler and brought out a bag with about 10 lbs.  I ate way way too much and was lethargic and sluggish till about 7:00pm.  Note to self, just eat normal amounts during TDR restaurant stops.  As we left Moab it became obvious that Andrew’s knee was not going to cooperate and he was risking real damage by continuing.  So he pulled the plug and hitched a ride back to his car in Grand Junction. I felt bad but he made the right call. It had been nice to have a riding partner pushing my pace. 
I quickly reverted to my normal plod along pace and enjoyed the solitude.  The forecast was for rain and as I rolled thru Bedrock it started.  By now it was 9:30pm and I planned to stop about 10.  Timing was perfect as I found the ideal camp spot just off Y11 road, right next to the Dolores River.  I set camp between rain squalls and climbed in my bag.  I fell asleep wondering how my sleep system would do in full blown storm.  I woke several times during the night to the sound of hard rain, even hail.  In the morning all was still dry.


(only 1 lbs and yet full tent style camp!!)

However as I was packing up a final hail burst with high winds got some light moisture sideways into the tent and onto my gear.  All in all my sleep system gets a pass.  It’s more than many will bring for the TDR but I hope it will give me the confidence to ‘ride in to the storm’ vs stopping short at the hotel. 

With more rain in the forecast I knew I would be confined to pavement all the way back to Grand Junction.  I had a nice meal and Gateway Canyons Resort and then pushed on up Hwy 141 (note to self—don’t eat so much as it only slows you down for 2-3 hours). As the afternoon progressed it slowly became a ‘take it off put it on’ day.  Rain gear on, rain gear off, on, off etc.  As I topped out the last climb around 7000 feet I knew it was mostly downhill to Whitewater. By now the rain is pounding down and I get a real full on ‘rain gear test’ with an extended nine mile 25mph descent.  Even though my body was no longer working hard I basically I stayed warm & dry with the exception of my feet.  Guess I might need to add a pair of Gore-Tex socks or bring some better shoe booties.  

Shake Down Summary:

I got the full on severe rain check out of my sleep system and riding gear.  All in all I feel confident I have the right TDR combo for extended harsh conditions.  Guess that means the sun will be shinning the whole time…..My conditioning is about right, although my weight is going to be about 2-5 lbs more than target. My ongoing battle with saddle sores is not won but much better than what I was working with back in 2010.  The bike and gear are just about dialed with only a few minor revisions still needed.  Mentally I feel both weaker and stronger.  To simply ‘finish’ is not as important this time so I am worried I may lose motivation if/when things go south.  On the other hand I truly know that every weak moment, when one wants to toss in the towel, will always be preceded and followed by sudden almost unexpected moments of pure delight.

So “Final Countdown” has now commenced. I have ordered all my replacement drivetrain parts. Will soon have my wheels trued up.  Will soon round up a bike box for shipping, and so on with all the final details and prep………

Thursday, May 8, 2014

TDR Shake Down Run

I will be doing a shake down run in western Colorado and eastern Utah.  Looks like fellow TDR racer Andrew Schuhmann will be joining me.  This is basically the same shake down I did for 2010, worked well then, hopefully it will all pan out for 2014

If anyone is interested you can follow my SPOT on my share page here:
I knocked out a quick & dirty GPS track, about 280 miles total. 
Resupply is as follows:
  • Modern Convenience store right at point of departure
  • Fruita at 9 miles                                (food & water)
  • Westwater at 46 miles                   (water and bathrooms)
  • Moab at 110 miles                           (food & water etc)
  • La Sal at 144 miles                            (small general store next to La Sal Post office)
  • Bedrock Store at 170 miles           (small general store—might be closed as it was for sale at one time)
  • Gateway Resort at 217miles        (full resort, store, small restaurant etc)
  • Super C Store at 272 mile              (I think this is the 1st store we would hit on the outskirts of GJ)
yup, it's all getting close now .............

Monday, May 5, 2014

My TDR Electronics

For 2014 I will be running a Revo Mk1 Dynamo light combo.   At night I will run the 400 to 800 lum light.  I have used it enough to know it will work great for the TDR.  It simply does not have enough output at slow speed for true singletrack riding but for the TDR it will be perfect.  Just plug and go, no muss nor fuss.  I will supplement the dynamo driven headlight with a rechargeable helmet light.

During the day I will switch these leads

(tucked in the outer side pocket of my oversized tank bag, but under the rain slip)  Once switched the dynamo output will charge my helmet light and simultaneously charge a catch battery and run my GPS.

The catch battery (you can see the top of it in the bottom of this pic) 
can be used to charge my I Phone or run the GPS at night. The USB charger, cabling and catch battery are velcroed to one side of the tank bag and tucked behind a piece of windscreen.  Any connectors I need to access/switch are easily reached without unloading the bag

My opinion now that I have had the system for a while:
All in all it’s a complex system.  If I was a bike commuter I would absolutely run a dynamo/light. As a TDR racer there are things I like about the system.  First and foremost is unlimited ‘back to back’ night riding possibilities-- with no battery worries.  But in all honesty these systems add too much weight and complexity for a race like the TDR.  But I will use it anyway as it’s paid for and sort of fun from a ‘tinker around’ point of view.  Again--if I was a bike commuter I would absolutely run a dynamo/light but it's overkill for a race...

Other electronics include a backup GPS, rear blinky light(s) , I Phone (mostly for music), SPOT and 80 lum head-strap camp light

Oversize Tank Bag with Rain Slip/Cover

I had Greg  Wheelwrright (boulderbikepacking) build up an oversized tank bag
similar to the one he made for Jesse Carlsson’s 2013 TDR run.  I had him mod & add a few features but the rain cover is I think the crème de la crème.

With one hand I can pull it up
and tuck it out of the way

, access the bag and then easily reposition it.  Also when I stand and brush the side of the bag with my legs it’s nice and smooth.
Works great--I really like it.
You should get one........