Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's Kind of a Tri Thing, Pt II

(Me, pumped, waiting for Casey)

On the Road Again
So after I took the time out to take a quick pic and NOT turn on my Strava, I noticed a couple guys pass me, and thought I better get back after it. Back up the trail I went, after the guys that had just passed as I was playing the part of a tourist on vacation, taking pics of the scenery. The switch backs were over, and there were a fell hills to climb before getting to the camping area that is about half way up the mountain. The first hill may be the shortest of the three between me and the camping area, but it is also the steepest. Up I went, and off the bike I went, needing to take 15 steps or so at the steepest part before I could get back on the bike and continue riding. (The part of the trail is fairly compact, so I will be back, and I will be able to ride through that part SOME DAY!) I didn't even mind that I had to walk the bike here for a few steps, most people did. The problem I had was that I had a couple young kids run their bikes by me while I walked mine up. We had more climbing to do and needed to pace ourselves, didn't they KNOW that!? I am sure they did, but they were half my age (Man, that feels REALLY bad to actually be able to write that now) and they could go for days.

Luckily, I was able to tackle the next couple hills on the bike, and may have even gained a spot or two back in the process. I made it through the camping/picnic area, crossed over the paved road, and got to the best (or more like worst) part of the trail. As I rode past a power line tower, the road turned to the right and back up again. This time, the trail had extra powder from the recent leveling of the road to clean out the overgrowth. Once again I felt like it was one of those dirt bike shows on TV where all these riders try and go up this super steep hill, in effort to see just how far up they can get before they have to bail. As I approached the hill I could see guys walking their bikes up, and I kept working my bike up to where they were already walking. "Yeah, gonna get further than they did. Keep going, keep going, keeeee, ah crap, I'm spent." And back to walking until the road gets to a point that you can get back on the saddle again.

A couple more hills and I was to the top. The downhill portion was fun, but I am still working on just letting the bike do its thing under me, and keeping it full throttle. That said, I was happy to report I only had one person pass me on the way down. Again, this was a kid. Their bodies heal faster, and they don't worry about going to work on Monday, so I was okay with that. Besides, I gained some ground back on him when we got to the paved road on the way back to the transition point.

Off He Goes
Daniel was waiting and ready to go as I rolled back into the parking lot. He took off running, and I had two thoughts. 1) How far back is Kenny? 2) What is that smell because it is making me want to puke!?

1) Kenny would end up being back a bit, but that is a story deserving of its own post. And as such, should be my next post.

2) The smell ended up be the Tommy Burgers truck getting our lunch ready. I knew I would be hungry in time, but the mixture of them prepping the greasy, delicious burgers, added in with the chili they make to go on them, was almost enough to make me puke. I quickly dropped the bike and put some distance between me and the truck.

In He Comes
After waiting, looking for Kenny for a few minutes I had to get back over to the end of the run. As we did the triathlon as a team, we were supposed to finish as a team. They asked each of the teams to run the last 100 yards or so together. Casey had left, and so I walked and waited. This I would do, walking a bit further out every couple of minutes, telling myself I had rested a little more and thus would be able to run the rest with Daniel when he came through. I will admit, I didn't go far.

Finally, Daniel was in sight, and we were off to the finish line. Daniel had had a good run, and I am sure only gained ground on those in front of him. (At least that's what I'll tell him.)  

Surprises, it's Prizes
Seeing as we were just finishing our burgers (now feeling much better, they hit the spot), they were ready to announce the winners so we stuck around. Not surprisingly, the overall winners were a few lean and mean teenagers that killed every leg of the race. However, to our surprise, we did end up getting 3rd in the adult team category. I will admit, we were a bit surprised as none of us had really trained for the event. And though there were probably only 15 or so teams we would have been competing against we never thought about beating anyone. With that said, I felt the fool to find out we had missed 2nd by 18 seconds. All of the sudden that stopping to take a picture was coming back to bite me. Doh!!

We anyways, we didn't take home any major winnings (this was Scouting fundraiser after all), but I was stoked to be rocking my medallion!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's Kind of a Tri Thing, Pt I

This weekend was a sport triathlon that is put on by several local boy scout troops in the area. As I have been involved in the Scouting program here for a bit, this was my second year to participate. As I am not a runner, never want to be a runner, and hate to even think about running (unless I'm playing basketball), I was sure to get a couple buddies and make a team. 

The Course
Let me start by saying, the bike part is the hardest part of the race. I say this not because this is the part that I did, but this seems to be what those that participate in the race have to say.

The race starts off with a 400 meter swim in Castaic's lower lagoon, with a quick run up to the transition point in the parking lot for the bike. The ride is only a 5.5 to 6 mile loop, with ~1000 to 1100 ft. of climb in it, but it is steep and the dirt on much of the trail's climbing sections is loose. Once back from the ride, there is a 5k run to finish the race part way around the lower lagoon and back. The run is pretty flat. 
(Me with my bed/helmet head, Casey keeping it modest, and Daniel)

The Race
The race was off and Casey was killing it in the water. I say that, but I have no idea. They were too far away for me to see when they started, and once they started I went to get my bike and be ready at the transition point. But within a few minutes Casey came running up and I was off. He had made what appeared to be good time, with only about 10 or so guys in front of him. Thus, he must have killed it.

I started out strong on the bit of pavement before the dirt turn off. Last year I passed a few guys on the first section before we got to any of the climbs, but last year I started a bit further back in the pack. Right as the trail turned up I passed a couple of kids before the switch backs started. Just before I reached the top switch backs I realized I had made a major mistake, and I was mad...I forgot to start my Strava!

Much can be said about the pros and cons of Strava, but for me it is predominately pros. And this would be the first time that I would actually be racing the entire loop, and I was excited to see how I stacked up once the race was over. I will admit that I wasn't very far into the ride when I remembered, but without the first climb, I felt like the rest of it would be worthless to have. Well, now I REALLY was just riding it to have fun, and I may have not pushed quite as hard as I could have. Okay, I probably did, but I like to think things would have been different had my Strava been going.

Picture Time
With the annoyance of not turning my Strava on I decided that I should at least take a pic of the view, seeing as how this wasn't going to show up anywhere for others to critique me on. So, here's a shot looking down over some of the switch backs:
(I lost a couple spots taking the pic, but it was worth it.)
Okay, I wasn't thinking this was a two part-er, but I want to get this posted and it is running long...[To Be Continued]...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My 1st Event - Santa Clarita Half-Century, Pt II

...So where was I...oh yeah, I had to pee.  It wasn't like this was something I just realized. Right before the ride started it hit me. I was so worried about staying hydrated I was sure to drink plenty the night before and the morning of the ride. Add in the nervousness that comes with going on my first ride, and it all made sense.  But I thought when it hit, "I can't go now, I'll miss the start of the race. Once I get going the feeling will go away."

Unfortunately for me, the feeling did not go away. As I continued to ride the feeling got more poignant. I kept wondering just how mad people would be to see a rider pulled off to the side of the road (still in town mind you) taking a quick leak. As we got out of town I knew I was about 10-11 miles in, and there was a SAG station around mile 18. I was going to do all I could to try and forget about my bodily desires, and focus on riding.

A Little More Encouragement
At the edge of Santa Clarita the ride takes you on a winding back road to Acton. At the start of the road to Acton I was still around a good number of riders. This was new road for me on my bike as I had only driven before the race to see what I was up for. I was glad to see that I was doing well on the climbs, at least considering the company I was in, and it pushed me forward. In fact, on the second or third hill out of town I was the most pumped as one guy looked over and said to me as I passed him and a few others climbing up the hill, "You're a monster!"  

I felt like a monster! I was passing people climbing some small hills, but they were the only hills I had ridden up to that point in my short cycling career, and they felt good. (I will admit here that I know I am not a good climber. When I ride with guys, road or mtn, I am one of the slower ones. I know that the better riders were well beyond me at this point, and most were probably doing the century that started an hour before we did. But it still felt good to be passing people.)

Settling In
After a few miles there were fewer people. I passed a couple more and finally made it to the first stop where I was able to, well relieve myself. I topped off my water, and took an extra minute asking a volunteer to re-pin my number to my jersey as the sun had come up and I took my jacket, as was back on my way. I was not planning to stop here as I wanted to make my only stop in Acton (the half-way point), but nature called and took a few minutes of my time. 

So adjustments made, I was back on the road, and back in pace with a few individuals. Never close enough to do any drafting of them, or them off me, but making a decent time to get to town.

Once in Acton, I made a quick stop just to grab a couple orange slices, top off the bottles again to make sure I had enough liquid to get me home, and I was out. I had to make up for lost time on the first stop.  I knew that this would be my least favorite part of the ride. (Or at least I thought it would be my least favorite part.)

Coming out of Acton, I was about half way through the race in terms of distance, and probably had climbed almost two-thirds of the total vert. Here, however, I knew it was a slow and steady climb for the next five miles. The gradient honestly would be laughable for serious riders, but for a guy just getting onto a bike riding five miles with gradients ranging mostly from two to seven degrees, at a point that was towards the end of the longest distance that I had ridden up to that point, I knew I just had to keep my head down and keep riding. The not so good news was there was no one close around me. No one to push me, no one to take turns pulling with. The good news was I knew after the climb there would only be a couple short steep climbs left in the ride. The rest would be downhill or flat. I just settled in and tried to find a rhythm.

Bringing It Home
By the time I reached the top of the hill I actually caught a group of four guys. They appeared to be working together up the hill (of which I was most envious), but I had caught them on my own. I will admit one of the guys kept turning around and talking to the other three up the hill, pushing them on. He could have left them in the dust going up the hill, and did once they hit the top.

Regardless, at this point I knew I earned the fun that was coming. About nine miles of fun riding down hill only broken up by a couple quick, hard climbs. About seven of the miles had gradients between the two to eight degree range. This allowed me to get some real speed on my bike for the first time, getting up to 48 mph (so says Strava). Then it was pretty flat the last 15 miles to finish out the ride.

As I thought before, that the hill coming out of Acton would be my least favorite part, but that would probably come in a close 2nd to the numbness that set in in my nether regions between miles 38 and 45 on the beat up, boring road back into town. 

Then came the worst part. I had planned out the ride, scoured over the map multiple times prepping myself to ride the 50 miles. But, just as I thought I was close to the final stretch, I was the arrows point in a different direction for a small detour that would add another mile or two to the ride. I was over it by this point. I was tired, I was hungry, and mainly I had told myself I only had so far left. Now, I had to add more distance to the ride. I made the turn, did the extra portion (though I didn't see anyone else doing it), and was glad to be greeted by the best looking cutest looking family a guy could ask for at the finish line.

How it ended up:
Distance: 53.5 miles
Time: 3:24:24
Ending feeling: I HAVE to do this again!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My 1st Event - Santa Clarita Half-Century, Pt I

The Idea
So, about a year ago I got my road bike, and after a few months of riding shorter, easier rides (10 to 25 miles) I started looking at different events that I could participate in, that would also give me something to work towards. By this time it was towards the end of the year, and the start of a new year would bring my busy season. (I am an accountant. Not the lame, boring, stereotypical accountant that you are picturing in your mind. Just a lame, boring, non-stereotypical accountant that, well, may not be far off from what you originally were picturing. Your mind may have had some guy in a white shirt and tie behind a computer. I, however, sometimes wear a blue shirt. Heck, sometimes even a PINK or PURPLE shirt. Yes, I have little girls.) Because of my busy season, it would mean that riding in an event would probably have to wait for summer. But, seeing that the city I live in (Santa Clarita) was holding its 5th Annual Century Ride, I knew that I could slip away from the office to get in the 50 mile ride even though it was just two weeks before the filing deadline.  
(The photographer's site was down so I couldn't event buy any prints to put in the blog.)

Skipping Ahead to the Pre-Event
Like I said, it was busy season and I had not really trained. In fact, I had only ridden more than 30 miles maybe two or three times before the event, so I wasn't sure how things would go. A couple friends were going to ride the 50 miles with me, but bailed just before the event. So when I showed up, I was solo. 

Having never been part of an organized ride before, I had no idea what to expect. I had barely bought my first kit just weeks before the event, so when I showed up I was put back by the number of people all pro'd out with their matching getup and game day faces on. (Side note: Shortly after getting my bike a friend told me he saw me riding one Saturday morning. He knew it was me because, as he said, "The guy was riding a nice Bianchi and was wearing gym clothes...I knew it HAD to be you." After that comment I started to realize when I was riding that the person that stood out on the trails riding was actually me. Everyone else was wearing cycling garb. So finally, I manned up and put on some bibs.)

Before the start of the ride everyone was riding around, making final adjustments to their bikes and gear to make sure things were perfect, and I knew so little about fixing my bike that I wasn't even sure I'd get through a flat tire as I hadn't even changed one to date on my bike. With it being as cold as it was that morning, I was starting to think I should just pack it up and try again another day. 

After a minute or so of talking myself into the ride while I sat in the warm van I got out, grabbed my gear and started riding around on my bike in the parking lot. "Just do what the other guys are doing, and act like you've been here before," I thought to myself.  Luckily, as we were lining up to start the ride I noticed that there were a few other people that no more ready for this than I did. 

A Ray of Hope - Gary
As I stood waiting for the event to start I realized there was a guy five feet to my left that had the same bike as I did, and was standing alone. His name was Gary. Turned out we were pretty similar. Not only did we have the same great taste in bikes, Bianchi Infinitos, but he got his bike only a month before I got my bike. It was also his first road bike, and he had never ridden over 40 miles before. Where we differed is that is had more time to ride than I did, and he had done most of the climbs before, whereas I had only ridden most flat trails around town. Luckily for me, I did have one thing that MIGHT help me in trying to ride with Gary: I was over 30 YEARS YOUNGER! As most riders can attest, age can't always make up for experience. And being in my early 30's was different than being in my early 20's. Back then, even though I wasn't the most athletic, I never needed to worry about getting sore or tiring out. However, as Gary and I were in the same boat with just starting to ride as a way to trick our bodies in thinking that we weren't really exercising, I thought maybe I wouldn't be the last one across the finish. And if I was, hopefully I wouldn't be alone.

The Ride
The ride started and we were underway. Gary and I visited with each other, both going rather slow. Gary told me a couple of times that I could go ahead, but I wasn't sure how I would do on the hills or on the length, so I thought it better to pace myself at the beginning. Besides, this was the part of the ride that has roads closed, and a police escort in parts.

After a mile or so of Gary and I riding along, I lost Gary going around a corner. We were both going rather slow, but managed to pass a group of 10-12 people, I on one side and Gary on the other. The only problem was, Gary never made it around the group this time. I waited for a couple minutes, going rather slow (did I mention we were going slow), and then realized that if I were going to ever pick up the pace maybe now was my time. And maybe Gary was wanting to ride alone. (There were plenty of police at the corner blocking traffic, so I knew that if Gary took a bad spill going three miles an hour around a large turn, after having gone one mile, there would be plenty of help. So, no, I did not leave him stranded.)

So off I went. I had plenty of people in front of me, and all of them were starting to scatter out. So, one by one, or small group by small group, I started passing people as we rode to the outskirts of town. I was feeling good and the riders were getting spread out thinner and thinner. Now I only had one thing holding me back. I really had to pee!...[To be continued]...

A Little Extra Motivation

(San Francisquito Creek Trail)
Some days it's fun to get out and push yourself to new limits. Go at it solo, and just push and push some more. You don't have to wait for anyone, nor do you have to feel bad because someone is waiting for you...Okay, that is not me. I actually enjoy riding with people. I don't mind waiting for any of my friends when we ride. And to be honest, I LOVE riding road with guys that are faster than me. They push me harder to ride than I push myself. With that said, last weekend I found myself riding solo.

(Please know that I occasionally go off on tangents. Usually I think it may give more background to a story, or it is to bring up something I find humorous. You, however, may find that my tangents are neither. Just bare with me, regardless of your thoughts. Someday, it will all come together and you will understand how amazingly my mind operates. If you keep reading my blogs for a while and still haven't figured it out, well then the secret is this...ah crap just realized my tangent was on a tangent...let me get back to the first anticipated tangent so I can get back to the original purpose of the posting...)

I am planning to do the Fall Tour de St. George in and last Saturday was six weeks and counting to the ride. I was thinking that I was going to do the ride solo, and planned to do the 75 mile route, in preparation of 111 mile El Tour de Tucson in November. Now it looks like my buddy Jared may now join me in St. George and he wants to complete the century. So, even though my normal partner in crime was out for the day, I knew I needed to get a good ride in even if it was by myself.

Back to Story At Hand
I left the house thinking I needed to get at least 30 miles in, and hoped to get closer to 40. I also planned to keeping it easy by staying on the trails in town, so off I went. I went out to the end of the trail on the east side of town (about 11 miles in) and turned around to make my way to some other parts of town when I came across Dennis, Lee, and Chris.

Another Tangent
So as I've gotten into cycling, I've hit up various shops in town and gotten to know of a few groups of people that ride together. Out of the big shop in town is the Velo cycling club. These guys are fast, these guys are hard, and for a newer rider like myself, these guys are intimidating.  In an effort to get some experience riding in groups, I met up with a 'beginner' or 'less intense' group of riders a few months back. That's where I met Dennis, Lee, and Chris.

Okay, Let's Stay on Target
As I passed by Dennis and Lee, and their small group I thought about it for a few seconds, and then decided to do an about face and join them for their ride.  I knew that they would be going a decent distance, but I also knew that they would be going a bit slower than even I am used to. (Did I mention, Lee is 79!!? Amazing that this guys rides 60+ miles one day, and 30+ the next day, each week!!!) 

Anyways, just as I expected the ride was great. I took a couple new roads I had not been on before, met a couple new people I didn't know before, and hit a new top speed in my short career of riding at 47.9 mph. I understand that may be slow to most, but I have no need to go any faster. Yet. 

Here are a couple other pics from the ride:
(Coming down Vasquez Canyon Rd)
(Evidence I was there)
And if there was any point that I was going to make with this blog, I guess it would be this. Riding with others can be great, particularly on those days when you need some extra motivation.  I ended up getting in 40 miles that day with the limited time that I had. I am sure if I was riding solo, I would have thought about everything else I could/maybe should have been doing, and justified ending much sooner. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What I Am & What I Amn't

My skillz

Allow myself to introduce...myself. I have been riding bikes for a little over a year. I started with a mountain bike that was bought as much to pull my daughters in a trailer as it was to get out on the mountain. After a few months I decided that since I was riding the paseos around town more than the mountain, due to accessibility, it was time to man up and get a road bike. From there, I really started loving to ride. 

I am a husband and father to a very beautiful wife (if I do say so myself) and three very adorable little children. Add to family time the amount of time that I put in to work and serving in my church and it is quick to determine that my riding time becomes very limited. As a result, I am more of a weekend warrior at best. With that said, I have noticed that based on my review of those that use Strava in my area I am somewhere in the middle of the pack. And I figure that is about where I will stay. So, if you are expecting a blog site about how I am killing every event I enter, and am the know it all for everything cycling I am sad to say I am not that guy. Thus, you won't ever see me in this group of guys (leaders of Stage 5 of the Tour of California coming into the final stretch, here in MY town!).

I think the first guy is yelling, "Shut up legs!"

I am, however, still someone that loves to ride very much. While more of my time is spent riding road these days I still make it a point to get out and ride with some friends that show me how mountain biking is done every so often. However, with the events that I have planned to do in the next few months, I probably will need to get a good number of miles under my belt on the road. 


Side note - I understand that it is probably offensive to most cyclists that I do not use the metric system. My response to that: 1) Deal with it, and 2) maybe I will switch over at some point if my riding gets good enough that I can pretend I know what I'm talking about and can back it up. Though I will admit it is nice to sound like I've done more because I've simply converted my miles to km's. 'Man, I road 100 km's today!' vs. 'I road 62 miles.' Well at my level of riding, that would be pretty good either way. But you get the idea.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Here We Go Again

So, I've been debating for quite some time about whether I should start blogging about my rides. It all started when I completed my first cycling event back in March, and LOVED every minute of it (except for about 15 minutes of it). I knew I needed an outlet, and actually have posted one ride report on a sweet cycling blog that is by guys that are both better writers and better riders than me. ( - check it out!) They were nice enough to invite me to write more regularly, and I may do so. However, when I write there it may be with more purpose whereas here I can feel free to write whatever I want and not have to worry about it.

With that said, I am not sure if this will last or not, but I will try writing again. Also, this blog will be more purpose oriented towards my cycling, (though I WILL NOT be held back if I desire to write about something else here!) but I will not delete my old posts. Consider it an added bonus for coming across my site that you can read about random musings from a couple years ago in my life. However you've found it, welcome to Evan's Corner.