Monday, January 23, 2012

Mayfield Road- Didn't expect that climb!

I recently posted this on my personal blog, but figure it's belongs here too!

I wanted to ride from home today, and I haven't actually done that since we moved to the new place.  So I mapped out a route, and decided to take my CX bike over to brookhaven, and then over to Tyrone Rd, and then across Mayfield Rd to Snake hill rd and then back around to our place.  I had a 24 mile route mapped out, and I figured at an easy "January" pace, it would take me a little less than 2 hours.  Base training right?

I headed out the door into the very sunny 45 degree weather at about 3:15.  As you can see from the graph below...that didn't really happen- I only made it 15 miles before I decided to call it quits and head back to the trainer...

This is why.  Mayfield kicked my butt!  How am I so tired after only biking 15 miles!!!

I'll tell you why: I didn't expect the 3.5 miles of climbing, where I reached over 2300ft and a net climb of 1100ft+ in 3.5 miles!!!  Not to mention the Garmin told me I hit 35%+ grade more than once...And it wasn't paved, or even dirt: it was rutted, ice covered, sharp rock insanity- huge water holds, and shear rock to clamber up.  Yes, I've done Tour of Tucker County (Loved it!), and I've climbed Whymps Gap probably a dozen times...and all the other climbs around Morgantown.  But I was prepared for those...this one just came out of no where!

I didn't have to stop once, my Kenda Small Block 8 700x32 tires (pumped to 75psi) kept me rolling just fine; I only really started to slide on the ice once....Man do I love my CX bike! So although I wasn't really prepared to get my heart rate up to 180bpm+ so many times, I had a great little adventure right in my back yard.

It was a blast...even if I did need to come back and ride the trainer for another 40 minutes to get my 2 hours in.  I am nice and tired now.  But worth it...what a view!  Very unexpected!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Training is like a hockey game... sometimes it's a fight, but its usually just about the goals

Two weeks ago, the Facebook threads were buzzing about the fantastic Indian Fall weather we were having in January and this week, its blowing up with stories about ice, snow, and cold.  We can't really complain since we have been blessed with unseasonably warm weather, but now that we are getting what should be the norm... well, its all to easy to shake our heads and find an excuse to stay on the couch.

Training Buddies
I could very easily fall into that trap, and that's why it is SO important to me to set realistic and achievable goals this time of year.  My new years resolution is to ride EVERY road in Greene County PA and my goal for January is to get to 500 miles of riding and 100 miles of running. The running part seems a little easier because I can get out from work at lunch and get about 4-5 miles in, where the riding is usually on the trainer (which I find VERY difficult to get motivated for). Fortunately, Joel has been bringing his bike across the street and will ride alongside me while the Pens are on. Every little bit of motivation helps, even if its just knowing that you're not the only one suffering. On a few rare occasions, I've been treated to the companionship of Taylor. While she doesn't stick around for the full hour, she usually doesn't get dropped like Rick Plowman does.

This year I've also been using Strava to track my workouts and compare them with the workouts of some of my friends. If you aren't familiar with it, I suggest you give it a go. There is the option to pay for the site, but being the cheapskate that I am, I haven't taken that plunge yet and still feel that the site has been extremely helpful. Just knowing that other people are tracking your training progress (or lack there of) is sometimes all I need to get on the old reliable Cannondale go for a spin around the living room. Then again, sometimes it takes the motivation of a couple of cold Sam Adams in the cages where the Podium Chills are supposed to go.

2011 Spring Training Race #1
So far, I think I've picked the right fights and I am on target to meet my goals. I'm up to 27 miles running and 315 miles in the saddle for the year. The County Road Map is looking a little pale, but I'll color in some more roads this weekend and post a picture in the blogs to come. One thing is for certain though... I can't wait to join the rest of my teammates at the first of ABRA Training Races. Just think, its now only 58 days away.

Just to be clear, Mr. Roller you are not a close friend of mine.

So where I live the weather has not been that great in January. If it's been raining then it’s been snowing. Needless to say I have been spending a lot of time on the rollers. I defiantly prefer riding rollers over the trainer since it feels more like actually being on the road to me. Plus, I manage to ride off the rollers about once every couple weeks while watching a virtual ride DVD or trying to stand up. I guess that keeps things a little interesting. Sometimes I get so bored that I see how long I can ride the rollers with no hands and I even play catch with my daughter while riding the rollers. Although I have a love / hate relationship with Mr. Roller I do love the banana flavored Honey Stinger gels. In fact, I enjoy them so much that sometimes I put them on my peanut butter sandwiches. I hope the rest of the team has been able to get outside more then I have. I am really looking forward to the weekend training camp in March and to be riding with the Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder cycling team in 2012.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm not really into racing....'

About a year and half ago, Matt London, Mark Hasbani, and I were headed out for a quick ride down 218. For whatever reason, we altered our normal course and rode a little out of our way to hit 218 from a different access point. In the process, we bumped into another rider who was just coming back from a ride. We unclipped and chatted a few minutes, and it turns out it was Chris Clark, whom I had gone to high school with many years ago. We caught up and shared a few cycling stories. He was primarily a mountain biker but also logged a few road miles on his Specialized Langster. He mentioned something about some Thursday Night Pedal For Pints ride he liked to do in Morgantown, and while the idea seemed to be a fun one, I informed Chris that "I'm not really into racing, I really just ride for the recreational aspect." We made plans to ride together later in the week, exchanged phone numbers, and headed off in separate directions.

Three days later, Matt, Mark, Chris and I were standing in front of my house getting ready to go for a ride together. We decided to try one of my favorite routes (Waynesburg to Oak Forest to Brave to Blacksville back to Waynesburg). The 2 hour ride was filled with alot of catching up, more story swapping, and a lot of cycling talk. He again brought up the Pedal for Pints concept but I tactfully declined. He started asking us if we planned to do any of the cyclocross races and I reminded him that while I had done a couple road races the previous year, I really only rode for fun. But Chris kept going on and on about how much fun it was and I kept giving him excuse after excuse why I couldn't do it or wouldn't do it.

So after finally exhausting my bank of excuses, this self professed roadie found himself headed to White Park to ride mountain bikes.  I talked my good friend, Joel Morris, into going down with me and sharing in the newbie experience.  Joel had a background in BMX was definitely more confident than I was but I put on a happy face and pretended I was going to have fun.  We arrived to a parking lot full of decked out mountain bikers with some of the latest in mountain biking technology. We unloaded our rigs, found Chris and got his input about his recommendations on tire pressure, took a couple laps of the parking lot and with a few last minute adjustments and we were rolling.

I started in the back of the pack and pedaled my tail off. I figured as long as I kept Chris and Joel behind me, I had bragging rights for eternity. I put in my best effort keeping the wheel in front of me and even managed  swapping a few positions with a few riders but basically stayed  in the back where I belonged. With Chris and Joel close but behind me, I finally rounded a turn and found all the other riders gathered around talking about the course and what they liked, what they didn't like, where they almost lost it, and what big obstacle the schooled. I would have loved to offer my opinion, but I was breathing way too hard to utter more than a few grunts or groans. Plus, given the fact that I had sweat in my eyes and couldn't see anything more than shapes I decided to just keep my mouth shut. That's when I found out that we were only on a parade lap and that we were going back to the starting line to get ready to do two laps, but this time at race pace. I couldn't help but think "What did I get myself into??"

Turns out, Chris beat me by a spot or two and Joel crashed hard but still didn't finish last. As we drove home, Joel and I couldn't help ourselves as we talked about how much fun it was and how we looked forward to next week. We had pretty much the same experience the following Thursday, and every Thursday from there on out. So much fun that in early October I found myself in field next to Chris and 45 other riders preparing for the first cyclocross race of my life.  It went well (I beat JR and Chris) and before I knew it, I was watching the Cat 4 series point standings for the Appalachian Bicycle Racing Association. In Mid December 2010, as I was busting Chris's chops for not doing the last local cross race of the season with me, Chris turned my own words back against me... He texted me "sorry, but I'm not really into racing, I really just do it for fun".....

Cat 5 Appalachian Bicycle Racing Association Crit Podium
So I just closed out my cycling journal for 2011 and by quick count, I realized that I logged almost 60 races last calendar year: 28 cx, 9 road races, 9 ovals, 7 Criteriums, 2 time trials, 2 mountain bike races and a stage race. I won 2 of the road races, 1 Crit, and had a bunch of podium finishes which helped me win my 2 ABRA Championship Jerseys (Cat 5 Road & Cat 5 Crit). So much for "I'm not really into racing, I really just ride for the recreational aspect."  While all the prizes, medals and trophies were nice, what I liked winning the most was an invitation to join the Dynamic Physical Therapy p/b Pathfinder of West Virginia team for 2012.

Last year, the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling team had impressive results with wins in seemingly every field at every race.  I accepted my position on the team with great pride and also with great a deal of pressure to try to continue the performance tradition that has been established by the team.  And since we've been blessed with an uncharacteristically warm Saturday this first weekend of January, I feel obligated to push away from the desk and head out and log a few miles. The first race of the year is only 72 days away and I need to be ready to to do my part on the team. See you then.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas [training] in New England

It's snowing pretty hard outside right now in Morgantown, and it actually seems pretty nice (gasp!).  I like snow for a few months of the year, and I like being able to play in it.  This probably stems from my roots as a Yankee, not the New York kind, but the Northeast kind.  My winters as a child were always spent outside, sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, and building snow forts.  I really like it, and it makes me think of home.

I spent last week in a "winter wonderland" in North West Vermont.  I always head that way for Christmas with my family and (now) my wife's family.  It's so beautiful this time of year (..err...all year!!!).  I really like christmas, and I enjoy spending time with my family.

It's also a time to hit the roads of my home town, and enjoy some of my favorite run and ride routes.  My sister is training for her first 1/2 marathon next weekend and I agreed to do it with her.  Her longest run was last Saturday (12/24) and I said I'd do it with her.  Unfortunately the weather is not ideal this time of year for running...especially for my sister who now lives in NC, and hasn't run in temperatures less than 40 degrees yet this year.

When we stepped out the door, it was TEN degrees.  1-0 degrees.  At 1pm in the afternoon!!!  Needless to say, having to run for 2 hours...we were pretty bundled up.  This is a video of my sister Jeanine, ready to go.

The run went well, but I was ready for it to be over.  I've only run 5-6 runs in the last 4 months that were over 80 minutes, and the farthest was 95 minutes.  I was sure glad to have had plenty of food...including some Honey Stinger gels and chews...not only do they work but they taste great, makes me motivated to eat them.  Had 1 Raw-Revolution bar too, left over from CX season.  Ate it all!  I needed it.

The roads are all dirt where my parents live, and this leads to lots of little slips every step you take.  This means your speed is drastically cut- we only got about 11 miles in 2hrs.  I stopped my Garmin for a bit in the middle, otherwise I'd have more information.  Here's a video about a mile from my house, that's Buck Mountain in the background.

Besides that run, I only ran one other time with my Mom (Cheri) for a 1/2 hour.  That was enough.  I didn't run again until this weekend, where I had a great 30 minute run in Salem, NY where my grandfather lives.  I love running there.

Anyways, enough with the boring running, onto the more exciting sport this time of year!

With snow, brings Nordic skiing.  Now, I know this is a cycling team, and I've only written about running so far, but bear with me.  Eventually, everyone has to take some time "off" and this is my time.  "Time off" is to be used loosely, because I really take most of December "off" and then January is more a time for just building some base fitness and having fun with my wife, Carly.  Skiing fits the bill perfectly.  It completely crushes me, and there is no other sport that just completely annihilates me like nordic does.
Craftsbury Ski Area, Craftsbury, VT
There's two types of nordic skiing, skate and classical, and I like them both.  But, I'm probably a bit better at classic (last year I was the Pennsylvania State Champion in the 6k classical race).  I really like skating though, and am steadily getting better at it (I've only been seriously skating for 4 years, I've been classical skiing for 13).  It (skating) really works on my weaknesses and I like that- the glutes and lower core muscles just get torched!!!  It's also very fast and much more exciting than my experience with downhill- big, wide trails with sharp metal edges and wide skis are just not as fun to me as zipping down a (very) narrow trail at 25mph on skis where your heels aren't even attached!

This is part of the non-groomed portion at Craftsbury.
Carly (my wife) and I have been just absolutely aching to ski!  There's been a couple of times where we thought it might happen here in Morgantown, but alas, no dice.  However, while at my parents for a few days in Fairfax, VT last week, I had multiple opportunities to get out and get some kick and glide. 

First, we got in a great little Christmas day ski in my parents field.  They have a 7 acre field with a small pond in the middle, and there was about 4" of snow.  After many years of me pushing a lawn mower through the 3ft of brush, and now my dad keeping it up with a tractor, they have some really great little loops to ski, run or even ride the CX bike (why didn't I discover CX earlier in my life!!!).  Each loop takes about 10 minutes, so Carly and I did about 30min of just fooling around with our dog Gus.

Carly and Gus

I love to ski!
On Monday of last week we went to craftsbury, where I skied about 15k.  I gave my wife some lessons as this was her first time out on her new "race skis"- those that have to be waxed to get grip to propel you forward.  Thanks to Pathfinder for mounting the bindings!  It was good where they had  grooming done...and not so good where they didn't.  It's been tough so far up there, and they only had a really good 2.5k loop opened up.  But, I skied that probably 3-4x and then did the other non-tracked loop (they put down tracks for you to follow in classical technique, little grooves that your skis stay in).

Then, on Thursday of last week, my mother and I got out and got another 45min of skiing in the field again.  This time, in about a foot of snow.  We were supposed to only get about 1-2" at most, but it just kept snowing!  That's Fairfax for you though- it seems the lake effect snows off of Lake Champlain back up against the Green Mountains and my parents are always getting more than they predict!
1" of snow forecasted; 12" received!
So, while I didn't get to ski 100k like I have in years past, I did get a little skiing in.  I will be posting at least once more about this, as I will be racing in the 6k classic and 6k skate Pennsylvania Nordic State Championship again this year.

There was also lots of socializing, time with friends, some consumption of spirits, eating out, shopping, TONS of driving, and an amazing wedding over the week I was in Vermont.  It was a great trip, and while relieved to some extent to be home, I miss being there already!

Oh yeah!  Who am I???  I'm one of the new members of The Team, Gerald (Jerry) Audet.  I have lived in Morgantown now for nearly 3.5 years, and have become fairly active in the local cylcing scene, joining in on the local racin' and ridin'.  It's a great community around here, and this team is really great.  While I'm a Tri-Dork (triathlete) I also love to road cycle, and look forward to my new cycling Category- should be tough this year, but that's what it's all about.  I am excited to continue to grow and improve with Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder cycling team- thank you for the opportunity to share!