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Race Morning: SpartanCross

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Headed down to Spartanburg, SC for a training race this morning. Many thoughts running in my head, and yet nothing substantial to type out here. Unprepared, rain, mud, coffee, prep, switched my brakes, hope I don’t endo. Meeting new teammates and bonding with my brother like, George.

Here’s to the 2nd race of my season, more unprepared than the first!

Visiting the Pain Cave

2 Arleigh Pain Cave

Back in May I started conversation with a guy by the name of Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. With my crazy schedule of juggling so many things I needed to find someone that could negotiate my available timing to give me the best quality workouts which would in return give me the best quality results. This is a long term investment, in myself, my riding and my lifestyle. I wouldn’t wake up being 50% faster but over time with dedication (and understanding from the family) I would become better than I was. Being able to hang onto a A/B group ride at one of my hot road shops…that is my ultimate goal.

In late May I started riding with a powertap strapped to the rear of two bikes, my Salsa Spearfish and my Foundry Auger. For the first month I was to just ride in the zones spelled out on my weekly training, these zones were mostly by feel and heart rate. Around mid June I went through my first threshold test in many years. The threshold test is in basic terms when you pin it and hold a level that you think you can hold for 20 minutes. In all of my years of going through these test I always am left feeling like a failure and that I could have pushed 5% more. That’s one of my goals this year, learning and finding that 5% more.

Fast forward to mid August. I had taken most of July off for travel, work and selling. Early August Steve and I got back on the gas. It was time to put quality work outs in to be successful this cyclocross season. Success for me this year is to cat up to CAT3 and not to be lapped by the 3′s.

This past Saturday I was scheduled to take another Threshold test. I did everything I should, ate well, went to sleep early and stayed relax in the morning. Of course I over looked that what date it was and of course mother nature decided to pay me a visit. 1/3 through my workout/warm up for the test I bailed. Could I have pushed through? Yes, but the results would have been worth it. Save the fight for another day.

That day was yesterday. I busted through my test and felt like failure at the end. I pushed hard, had a good 5 minute average, a okay 20 minute average and happy with the progress I’ve achieved from May through August, including taking most of a month off.

Progress is motivation. Finding myself on the road is motivation. Being excited to get into the drops and dig, is motivation.

Have you visited the pain cave lately? What did it feel like and what did you learn from it?

Finding the White Line

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When people ask me what time of rider I am normally say a mountain biker. It isn’t true though. I started out fascinated with road biking and racing, and happened to enjoy the adventure of mountain biking a lot over the past 5 years.

Recently I picked up a Foundry Auger B1 as a rep sample. Built as a cyclocross bike I took the knobs off and put on some Michelin Pro4 tires and have been treating it as my road bike.  The miles of bonding with that bike are growing, at the end of the rep sample season it will be hard to let it go. The 25c tire on the front and powertapped wheel on the back have become my main vehicle of training next to my prized Salsa Spearfish.

The Moral of this Rant

It is funny that I live in the bike industry and yet it has taken 5 years and a cyclocross bike to make me fall back in love with road riding. Less than a month on it and I’m already looking forward to my next road ride. When training plans say to go either MTB or Road I am now torn on which to go with. This is an exciting twist in my cycling life and a door that has opened back up with passion and love for a sport I grew up in.

Once you’ve been riding for awhile you often forget the fun you had on your first bike, you also forget how a new bike – the perfect bike – can harness so many emotions and create a great motivation to ride further and faster than before.

Next Race on the Calendar: Tree Shaker 8 Hour

0 Tree Shaker 8 Hour MTB Race

As I look back at this spring and my two “A” races it makes me rather frustrated that both of those races ended in tears. Both gave me motivation after looking through the dark very, very hard!

Warrior Creek 6 Hour ended with me so wrecked from my crank seizing up and having to walk/struggle.

Burn 24 Hour ended with me wrecking myself out 9.5 hours in.

Take What You Learned and Move ON

Another way to say it, Keep Calm and Carry On.

Endurance racing is hard as you put a ton of energy into one race. Not only training, but financials, pit support, setup, take down, etc. To have your race ruined due to a mechanical, physical or emotion break down completely stinks as it isn’t like it was a 2 hour race and you’ll be doing another one next week.

Tree Shaker 8 Hour Mountain Bike Race

Next up is an 8 hour race not too far from my home. Located in Fort Mill, SC this race will be a ton of laps and hopefully a ton of fun. Running from 9am to 5pm it will be a hot one at the end of June!

I’ll be doing this solo, hopefully a couple friends will be racing it duo and keeping me company out there. Kim will be my perfect pit crew boss and keeping things running smoothly.

Goals? Too early to tell. I know I won’t win the thing, but good consistent lap times with short pits is the main focus for me. Simply swap water bottles, eat something and keep moving.

Happy Legs on the Foundry Auger

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Foundry Auger

Click to make bigger!

Legs were moving much better today on the road bike. A good mellow 2 hour endurance pace with some spin up intervals towards the end. Really enjoying the Foundry Auger. Full write up will be coming soon as I finally snapped some decent pictures during my ride today.

Tomorrow starts the build phase of the summer with goals of cyclocross in the fall. Roughly 15 hours on the training plan this week from the coach, my main goal this week is to get back on the pony and find that confidence in my legs again. Mixed with a ton of prep work, phone calls and meetings with dealers to prepare for 2013 product…this will be a couple busy weeks!

A Setback of Confidence

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Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. – Helen Keller

After last weeks race I can tell you I didn’t do everything right. I didn’t get back on the horse and I didn’t do recovery rides. My legs and thoughts are paying for it.

Yesterday’s 2 hour endurance mountain bike ride at my local trail was a total mind game. Dabbing on sections I haven’t dabbed on. Legs feeling like lead. Brain occupied on how the bike wasn’t responding right, that my rear end felt loose. I hadn’t ridden this trail with the installed tires for a couple months, but that doesn’t give reason for what was loose in my head.

A Setback of Confidence and Momentary Fitness

All things reasonable I did hit the ground pretty f’n hard last week. Knocking the sense out of me and keeping me off my bike for 5 days. My will was weak and I shoulda, coulda, woulda gotten on the bike sooner.

My soul knows this a momentary setback. In a week or so my coach will have my legs spinning around properly. With the right about of trail riding my confidence will be back as well. For now I’ll go for a 2.5 hour road ride, returning home to take apart my Spearfish, check over everything from the crash (shoulda done this before my ride yesterday) and hope that nothing is broken.

Confidence on a bike can take years to build. Feeling safe crossing bridges, logs, and going down steeps. It takes only one good hit to knock it out of you and make you feel human.

Today I am feeling fortunate to feel human. Allowing myself to put my realities in check and find the next thing to work on. We aren’t perfect and being able to find our flaws is part of having confidence too.

Preparing for Burn 24 (Plus a Light Promo)

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Burn 24 Hour

Over the next few days I’ll be posting rambling post, maybe gear setup thoughts and simply going a bit bonkers prior to my 24 solo race next weekend at Burn 24 in Wilkesboro, NC. (Ladies sign up, I need people to ride with in the middle of the night!)

A few more last decent rides left before race day. Tonights ride will be to test out light setups, battery burn times, and night setup. I’ll have a good amount of rambling thoughts after sitting 4 hours in the dark tonight.
If you are around tonight not doing anything, come ride with me! Will be leaving the house and riding down to North Meck Park. If you need lights I got a couple extra sets for borrowing.

Speaking of Lights.. Don’t Be Left in the Dark at Burn24

Long time sponsor of the Bike Shop Girl, Light & Motion is coming back strong in 2012 and there’s no excuse for you to be left in the dark on Dark Mountain. They’re bringing the goods for you to demo and keep the aliens at bay. We will have brand new Seca 1400s ($50), Seca 800s ($45), Stella 600 Duals ($40), and Stella 300s ($40) available to rent. A killer deal will be offered for anyone who wants to ride with a helmet and bar-mounted light – $75 for the race bundle, a Seca and Stella!!! All systems come with a battery and can be used as helmet or bar mounted lights. We also have additional batteries available to rent. Our friendly staff will help outfit you with lights, label your batteries, and give you tips to ride confidently and fast at night!

 Reserve your rental by contacting Heidi at hhall@lightandmotion.com. Let her know soon. The race is next weekend and it’s a long way from CA to NC.
 Turn on the gas when the sun goes down for a chance to win your own Seca 800! The male and female with the fastest night lap will walk away with just that, a new light. If that’s not enough, pick up a coupon for 15% off your next light purchase from Light & Motion. Don’t be left in the DARK!

Friday Ride at Lake Norman State Park

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The goal from my coach today was 3.5-4 hours on the bike I’ll be racing next week at Burn 24. Every 30 minutes do 5 minutes of tempo leading into 5 minutes of threshold. My personal goal was to do 45 minute loops on the various trails at Lake Norman. Swinging by the car to dial in my new shoes and test out the 4 different saddles I brought with me.

Probably not the smartest thing to do a week before a 24 hour race, new shoes and new saddle. Yet, I seemed to find a good place for my rear on a Specialized Ruby saddle that I had picked up earlier this week at Motion Makers in Asheville. The new shoes, Specialized MotoDiva, still need dialing but mainly cleat position as the plate underneath is much different than that of my old Bontragers.

The ride was cut short with stomach issues and my legs dying by the 3rd round of threshold. 2.5 hours, one hour short, but I came home. Propping my legs up and getting a good nights rest. Tomorrow is another 4 hours on the mountain bike, planning on hitting up North Meck park for a ton of laps to test out the new lights.

Tracking My Progress with Strava

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My background in marketing and sales management have been specifically highlighted with my love of analytics, report running and data mining. I love theories, graphs and making decisions by gut and knowledge. (More gut than knowledge.)

Now, I don’t go as extreme with numbers around training as I do with marketing and sales..but it’s close. Normally I’m NOT tracking every movement, gear usage and PSI of tires or suspension pressure on EVERY ride. (I have my moments when I go through that cycle, mostly when I have a new bike to dial in.) For the past few years I’ve used Training Peaks for my HRM or in years past my power device, a Power Tap about 10 years ago. In roughly 2006 the invention of the Garmin GPS training unit for bicycling opened my eyes to what you can learn from data. From the ascents, decents, temperature and such, over laid with your speed, cadence and possibly power. You really turn yourself into a machine!

Welcome Strava, social media for bike rides

Two years ago I first heard of Strava. I didn’t really get it, another site to track your GPS files. They had put a bunch of pro’s on the site, and I feel like there was only a paid version when it first started. In the beginning of the year when I purchased my new Garmin Edge 800 I started uploading some files to Strava when I remembered. It was cool as it tracked my data, and also compared it to my friends.

Strava Segments are Virtual Group Rides

Strava Segments

I ride my bike alone most of the time. My job makes my ride hours vary, and I don’t like the extra stress of having set rides too often with groups. Two months ago Strava started the coolest things called segments. Basically it overlays your GPS file with set parts of trails, roads, or whatever to show how you compare to other Strava users on that section. Some examples are from the base of a climb to the top, or a full loop of a specific trail system.

It really excites me to try different places, or when I visit new places to do rides around these segments I can find on Strava.com. Comparing myself to others that have done that ride, climb, descent or loop. You can also make your own segments to see how you are improving. If you have a loop that you use for recovery, or maybe for testing purposes – this is a great function.

Strava Stats

Ease of Use and Design

Strava has done a few things very cool and user friendly with their design.

Uploading is super simple. The first time you click Upload Activity it asks to download this sync thing. You don’t ever have to open it again, everytime you go to upload it finds your Garmin and all activity you haven’t uploaded this far.

No software needed. As noted above it downloads (what I think is a cookie) the first time you try to upload. I am able to upload from my laptop and desktop, not needing to open any software other than the internet browser I already use.

 

Stats and Activities are clean. Rides, performance, averages and such are easy to find on your profile. It also will compare you to someone else when you click on their profile.

Strava on your iPhone or Android

Strava functions mostly off Garmin but they have really great phone apps that will track and upload straight from it! This is an easy way to get into the social group ride without plunking down on a Garmin.

This is super handy also as every once in a blue moon I’ll forget my Garmin or forget to charge it. I don’t miss tracking a ride when this happens!

Other notes of Strava

Follow me on Strava!

I recently upgraded to Premium mainly as I’ll be adding a Powertap to my arsenal soon, the site has a great Powertap analysis and keeper of data for later use.

You can also do all of the above for running as well! Pretty handy for triathletes or runners that want to get social with their runs!

I wasn’t paid or even asked to write this by Strava. Simply really digging the design and use of the site!