Thursday, July 30, 2009

24 Hours of 9 Mile Forest

We (Me, Big Steve, and Josh) rolled into Wausau, WI last Friday ‘round 2pm and found ourselves at a primo campsite near the last bend in the race course. The vibe was subdued due to a smaller turnout for the event than normal. At the end of the day, there were over 300 teams registered, but it just didn’t seem that big because the camping is well dispersed. Granny Gear took over the event this year, and that didn’t go over so well with many value-oriented ‘Sconnies. All in all, it made for great racing, very quiet night laps, and if they learn from their mistakes this year, the event will be back to where it used to be within a year or two.

What happened can only be described in the context of a perfect storm – the good kind of storm that soaks drought stricken fields and breathes life into corn crops across Iowa in July. We had temps in the 60’s which aided hydration, 24 hour support before, during, and after the race from Big Steve with an assist from PMFT (Phil My Favorite Tool), no significant mechanical issues, and I had a partner that was as stubborn about hammering this out as I was. We had very few words at the exchange tent….just “nice lap”, or “go get it”, or “good work”. No drama, no crying, no bitching, just poker faces that said let’s do this.

Goooo! I was the runner for the LeMans start, and I was off the back of the pack within 100 yards. I learned my lesson at the 24 Hours of Moab last fall by sprinting and I never recovered. Yeah, I lost a couple of minutes, but big whoop – there were 23 hours and 58 minutes left. So I hopped on Big Steve’s rigid singlespeed Raleigh which has a lot going for it – except for the fact that the seatpost slips. My hamstrings were taking the brunt of the damage, and we were in 6th place after my lap. Josh put a good time in and got us into 3rd after his turn. I switched bikes after my second lap to Big Steve’s Salsa Dos Niner and that was the ticket for me. No seatpost issues and some suspension up front. I was dialed.

We sat in 3rd until dark when we made the leap to first place when other teams began doubling up laps to get some sleep for the other rider. Not us. Me, Josh, Me, Josh… variations from the order, no sleep, and everything was about routine and as Coach Steve said “I want you to give me 75% on every lap”. What coach says that? A damn good one, because once you blow in a race like this, it’s over. I’d finish a lap, Steve would wash the bike, tune it – all the while I’d stretch, put my legs up, and cram down as much food as I could in an hour. I ate seven sandwiches, fruit, salty shit, chicken breasts caveman-style, and the occasional licorice vine. One sandwich had bread totally soaked and soggy from the rain, but it didn’t matter. The white paste balled up and I choked it down with a smile. I was laughing inside about basically being able to eat the ass out of a rhino without much care or concern.

4am came and went and we were still a half hour up and that feeling of the sun coming up soon and wrapping up the event carried me through the pre-dawn dampness. Seeing the other teams not giving up was motivation to keep throwing down laps. PMFT woke up from a nap and was at camp then. He didn’t say much, but he didn’t have to. It was just about having another human up and alive to remind me that not everyone was asleep at this insane hour at that riding a bike in a forest of pitch black was a normal thing to do.

After 24 hours, we finished with a 35 minute lead over the second place team. We covered 255 miles over 18 laps of a 14+ mile twisty course that kept you on your toes. Sweet Sara, we won the G-Damn race! In 12 years of racing, that’s my first, first place ever in a non-age group event. Josh said about a month before that we would win it, and it happened.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Off to 'Sconnie...back in a week

It Never Ends

As I watched the Giro d'Italia this past May - riding on a trainer at night during numerous stages - I watched one of my favorite cyclists riding aggressively, forcefully, and darn near winning the race. Danilo DiLuca. Heck, my daughter even started following DiLuca because she loved the fact that he had to wear pink spandex as the race leader, and it was fun pronouncing his name. So, it comes as no surprise today that DiLuca tested positive for performance-enhancing CERA twice during the Giro. "The Killer" as he's strangely referred to since he's all of 5'6" and a buck thirty soaking wet, had made a huge comeback at the Giro - and obviously it was, well, too huge.

It may never end even when Lance comes clean some day. They always do. The guilt, it's just too much to take. Rebellin, Hamilton, Kohl, Riis, Ricco, Andreau, Ullrich, Valverde, Heras, Mancebo, Pantani, Millar, Virenque, Basso, even poster boy Eric Zabel.....just to name a few. And Lance crushed them all for 8 straight years with a high Vo2, carmichael training, and a bit of luck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Highs and Lows

It was 54 degrees when I left Flagstaff at 6am yesterday. When I stepped out of my car in Phoenix at 9am it was well over 90. Meetings wrapped up around 2pm and I was in my car headed back north. It was 110 and it took my little baby Kia a good while to cool the cab down. Back in Flag at 5pm to light what better way to relax than a ride through the forest in the rain. I got home around 7pm, soaked to the bone. My bud Ellsie rolled over to drop his dog off and he was wearing a fleece jacket. It was 51 degrees, raining, and - cold. We're getting rain all week so it should be good prep for the race this Saturday in Wausau, WI.

My little Kia worked hard in that heat. I think she needs a beer, not me. Maybe I'll treat her to some 91 octane this week.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My little softball lovin’ sweetie spent another evening on the field. This time, they had more of a ‘game type’ practice and got to get into some situational instruction. Tonight it’s a full on 9 inning game, and a ½ game against the little league boys. They beat the boys in some catching/running drills last night, so the game tonight should be pretty fun to watch.

Once again, I snuck off into the woods for 1.5 hours of bike practice and had a blast trying to find the right balance between rolling a tire off my front and rear rims versus achieving the highest speed possible in the curves. I never completely rolled one off, but I definitely burped air trying. First at 24 psi, and finally down to around 18 before I came damn close to losing too much air, and – GASP! – having to stop and pump up a tire! Oh the problems middle age white guys have sometimes. I do love testing the limits of shocks, wheels, tires, etc….the occasional crash is well worth knowing what works and what doesn’t. A few days back I rolled up on some shuttlers (you know, guys who get a ride to the top, and bomb down on true downhill bikes). They were gathered at a large jump over a gap with a quick banked turn heading left and one of the guys, after much discussion, took off towards the jump – launched it, did a 90 degree turn mid-air, and landed at an angle smack into a banked turn stopping on a dime. The compression used every millimeter of his suspension. I can’t imagine what his back felt like. But the frame didn’t break. I’ll leave that kind of testing to him. Me like my frame, and me don’t want to buy a new one, or a new back for that matter.
"Dad! We beat the boys!"
She was pretty excited....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Softball Nights Under the Lights

Lyza has a softball camp M-F from 6pm - 9pm this week, and it has been great. 16 girls from age 7-13 having a great time learning all of the fundamentals of softball and incorporating plenty of fun skils challenges along the way. I think she may have found one sport that really fits for her alongside soccer. It's been so great to watch her grasp the benefits of a team, and realize how she can learn from others - I think for her being one of the youngest players in the camp has been great too because she's not even close to being the best on the field. It's nice to get your ass handed to you from time to time. It's important, really.

Now, I can't sit on my ass in the bleachers for 3 hours over 5 days like the Katie Couric Moms and the overzealous Dads, so I have managed to squeeze in a 1-1.5 hour ride each night on the Campbell Mesa trail system just behind the fields. Campbell Mesa is flatter than Nebraska, but once you are off the Mesa you can dive down into Walnut Canyon - a place where I have had many, many strange experiences with my bud Scottie and solo on night rides. In the daylight however, the Indian burial grounds don't seem to mess with me much. The drop into Walnut Canyon is a doozie, with 20+ drops all steep enough to scrape your chainring if you're not picking the right line. Step/drop/step/drop, switchback, full brake skid into a 120 degree turn, step/drop/step/drop. Good times, but it means I'm straight hiking with my bike on my shoulder on the return trip. Back on the Mesa and I see a herd of at least 100 elk. I took a pic with my cell phone, but it looks like a single brown pixel a million miles away.

Quick change out of the stretchy goofy costume, and back to the softball practice. They played a scrimmage for the last hour and Lyza (aka Laser - as all the girls now have nicknames) plucked a pitch out of the air with her bat and got her first single. D rolled in with a few slices of pizza, and we had a good time under the lights watching the drama unfold.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Down but not out

These Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings are about as controversial as Ed McMahon’s death. Whatever. Just give her a desk and make her a custom Coleman Klein tent robe like the rest of the Supreme Court Judges. That d-bag Jeff Sessions from Alabama outta’ just put a cap in it. Sorry good ol’ boy – quit the grandstanding.

Last Saturday’s group mtb ride, which of course turned into a race as it usually does, had me feeling like a hot dog at a Nathan’s Coney Island eating contest. Vulnerable. I put the hurt on in the heat and got hurt along the way for 3 hours. I was toasted Wisconsin Cheddar. My immune system was telling me it was at zero, I felt dehydrated, and my legs were just shot. Sunday was supposed to be a 50 mile sufferfest in the heat of Wupatki National Monument with a 7% 16 mile climb to the finish. Fortunately, I couldn’t get up and D wasn’t pressing it either. It turned into an easy 16mph spinout on rolling terrain for just under 3 hours around the lake. 6 hours of saddle time was my goal and I almost got there. Remarkably, we did a ton around the house. Moving furniture, staining the back deck, and selling a load of furniture via Craigslist.

Lyza found her groove last night at a weeklong Arizona Diamondbacks softball camp. More on that later with some photos from the action tonight.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Headed home towards the Peaks....
D and your resident blogging D-bag.....

That's a High Life sign up there.....Livin' the dream.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Slowin' it down a bit..

After burying me, myself, and I on Sunday with the group, and riding pretty hard with D up Snowbowl on Tuesday, last night’s effort was solo on the old reliable SS. It felt good, and it was nice to climb at my pace, and never going above 5,000 rpm. I actually noticed that there are wildflowers in the woods, and passed by a herd of elk that reluctantly disappeared when I came into view. Did you know the forest has trees, leaves, flowers, animals, lakes, and great views? I can go a month without seeing anything because I’m trying to go as fast as I can. It was time for a break yesterday.

It’ll be 112-120 in the deserts down south this weekend. Yuma, AZ will probably be the hottest with Phoenix a close second. Flagstaff should be around 83, tops. I’ve never been in temps above 115 except inside a cedar walled box with a stove in it – with a lake outside the door to cool off in.

The weekend calendar looks good. Friday night play at the university, Saturday Am 3 hour road ride through Wupatki National Monument, work on Sunday morning, then a 4 hour mtb group slugfest ride around Mt. Elden until sunset. Did you notice that pulling weeds and cleaning the house isn’t included? I’ll save that for a weeknight. 24 Hours of Nine Mile is in two weeks. I need another week of prep and then I’m ready. Goin’ back to the High Life in Wisco for that one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's in a name

I fucked up my payroll account last week with a bank holiday falling on July 3rd and had to make a trip in person to Chase Bank to get things straightened out. I roll in and am helped by a guy named Nash Moncoutie. Seriously, Nash Moncoutie working at a bank in Sedona. I would have expected a guy named Stormy River, or Aspen Grove before meeting a guy named Nash Moncoutie. Take a guess:

1.) black or white
2.) a little heavy set or thin
3.) nice watch or a timex
4.) import or a chevy
5.) glasses or contacts

If you followed the path I was leading you down, you selected the first answer in 1-5. You were right. Certain names lead to stereotypes for a reason. After seeing a craigslist ad for a fixie bike, I want the name of the guy in the ad - Griff. Cooler than cool is Griff. Really. Describe Griff for me:

1.) black or white
2.) a little heavy set or buff
3.) pos car, sweet Infiniti G37, or a skateboard
4.) Revo's or Rudy Projects
5.) Entrepreneur or fry cook

See, you can't stereotype that name. It's the greatest name out there, but I'd have to change my last name too. Griff Jackson? Nahhh. Griff Sanguinetti? Too Italian. Griff Walker? Now we're talking. I'd grow my hair out, wear beat up blazers with mismatched elbow patches to weddings - but contrast them with Hugo Boss slacks and Bruno Magli loafers. Carry business cards with just the name Griff on the front, ditch my debit card for a money clip and cash but put my 1's on the outside, and get a new-used car every few months just to shake things up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


5:15 alarm, out the door with D at 6:01 on the road bikes, up to snowbowl, back at 8:05, a bunch of kids get dropped off including Lyza, and I take 'em to summer camp, pick up sponsorship check for Red Rock Racing, get gas, haul ass (well as much as you can in a Kia), immediately into house #34 to calm an upset guest - escape with only a comp breakfast coupon for them....and back to my desk to find out that the team time trial stage in the TDF was something I wish I had seen. Ahhh well, ya can't do everything at once.

I should have just written this -

Up at 5
out the door
why oh why can't I ride some more?

take the kids
off to camp
get that juicy little sponsorship check

down to work
a pissed off guest
huh....they sound like all the rest

missed the tour
nothing rhymes very well with seven
now I'm on my ass at the 'Pine till 7

Monday, July 6, 2009

No drop, relaxing ride

The e-mail said something to the effct of "Sunday afternoon ride - recovery from the 4th of July debauchery. No drop, relaxing ride". I brought my neighbor Jay, and we rolled over to meet CW and Joth. Never trust an e-mail like that because it depends entirely upon who shows up. As 'sconnie buddy JB says "it's always good to ride with a group - makes you go harder". Yup....I agree.

2 minute warm up and we were climbing hard because I took a hard right onto Rocky Ridge and I could hear the groans behind me - he he - I wanted to pound those bitches into the ground. Jay peeled off after an hour of being redlined, and the three of us kept going up until CW dropped me and pulled away.......Joth and I met him a minute later at the 9,400 foot mark on the top of Elden on the hottest day of the year so far - 82 degrees. I could feel the Minnesota layoff had clipped my endurance a bit, but fortunately, just a bit. The downhill ride home was well worth the sweatfest climb as we chose some switchback trails to lengthen the time going down. After an hour and a half of climbing, you can't blow you wad in 10 minutes going down the shortest route back to town, or it all seems for naught. I rolled into the garage a little after 7pm. Dinner was waiting with the girls and it capped a great weekend of 4th of July fun.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Trip Back Home

My vacation - as Beck would sing it....

90 degrees and sunny and humid
Rollercoasters and water park slides
Applebees for lunch
Small-town bowling alley
Up to northern Wisco and Duluth for 2 days
There were a couple of scary ledges
but we survived
crappy fishing conditions
or crappy fishermen
Raining on the crossing back to the mainland where we leave the car.
I truly need a vacation from the vacation
I truly need a vacation from the vacation
I truly need a vacation from the vacation

Copyright Ellen Jo Dahlberg Roberts - aka Sheck

Night Ride on Deck

My first time back on two wheels last night - after an 11 day hiatus - was so nondescript that I'm going to write two paragraphs about it. And an extra one about nothing just because.

On the way up I was steady, but not fast. Hot and then cold, black and then white, Katy Perry and then Steve Perry. In other words - kinda all over the place. Coming back down, I found myself looking too far ahead down the trail, thinking I was seeing a dog, an elk, a sea monkey, John Lennon - was weird, almost like I was sure I was going to run into something. So I shut my brain down and just let it fly off the powerline drop and sure as shit about 100 feet after the drop was a scared-as-can-be runner who wan't too enthused about my speed. So sorry. Not really. I'm having too much fun Mr. skinny legs grumpy face.

There's six discernable groups in Flagstaff. The cyclists, the runners, the climbers, the Yoga peeps, the students, and everyone else on the east side of town. I lump the frisbee golfers in with everyone else because, well, it's frisbee afterall. The cyclists are great, but loaded with cliques. The runners are elite-level out of towners training in high elevation. None of them live here long, or weigh more than 130 pounds - much less talk to you because they are on a mission to make the Olympics. The climbers supply the coffee shops with baristas, and the restaurants with servers. The students clog the cheap restaurants and work retail. The yoga peeps flow in and out of each group, as they should since they are blessed with dharmic rhaomnic grace. I totally made up the word rhaomnic but it fits.

Anyway, past Mr. skinny legs grumpy face and into my garage. Wasn't a great ride, wasn't bad either, but as always - it was fun. The lights are charged for a night ride tonight. Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Re-entering Civilization

Good God, I leave civilization for a week and Ed McMahon, Farrah, and Mike Jackson all die. Of course, by the time Gloria Vanderbilt’s son, Anderson Cooper, gets a hold of the Mike Jackson story, it’s as if Mr. Tonight Show Intro and the Charlie’s Angel never existed. It’s hard to believe Mike Jackson was only 50. You can say what you want, but Rock With You and Thriller were great albums. Excellent stuff that still stands up 25-30 years later.

Canada, Duluth, Upper Wisconsin, and Minneapolis were the name of my game for the last 11 days. Fished, went to amusement parks, and went canoeing down class 1-2 rapids for mucho hours, fished again - caught nothing, swam, and ate and drank well. I’m completely wasted at my desk today and hanging in there conquering the mountain of papers and e-mails.

My daughter may have found her first passion on this trip. Music/Drama/Theatre. Several instances added up to the fact that she is made for the stage. She decided her birthday will be a concert – her band will play to 15 of her closest friends. Then relays and smores because they only have four songs to play right now. We spent two hours on the plane home writing new material. I tried to facilitate rather than dictate, and the end result were some pretty good lyrics for a band made up of three eight year olds. My Mom helped her make flyers, business cards, and back stage passes. Every detail. I’s are dotted, and the T’s are crossed. Crazy.

As for me – I have a 24 hour duo in three weeks and 11 days off the bike didn’t help. So, I’m diving back in after I get home today. Just an hour spin – take it easy, ya know?! Then, numerous night rides coming up in preparation. All I need to do is 8 or 9 80 minute sprint laps at 85% of max over 24 hours. Nothing crazy, but it’s not really sane either when you are staring 3:00am in the face in the middle of a damp Wisconsin forest.

Then…no more races ‘till 2010, or until the next big event rears itself. I got things I want to do, new things including putting some time into our house, and maybe even read a book....or a magazine. That would be a start.