Monday, December 31, 2007

OK, It's decided and done!

Alright, I've made my decision for 2008. And...I'm making it official and in writing by putting my goals down in this blog. First off, let's reflect a little on 2007. Oh, Happy New Year everyone! And...Say happy B-day to Mrs. Mozam, it's her 51st this year on Jan 1, 2008. Ok, back on topic. Like I said before, last year was a banner year for me cycling wise, and I even surpassed my goal for the year. Unfortunately, this month has been a rather dismal month of cycling due to illness, which I can't seem to shake all the way. But, given the situation, I did pretty well and topped off the year just under 8,400 miles. With only one Double and a hand full of centuries this year, I think I did pretty well on the organized cycling front. So, the question remains for what to do in 2008?

Here's the plan (click on titles to follow the link):

Total 2008 miles: 8,800. That's 10% over 2007.

Jan: Lotsa training miles: Shooting for 800 plus for the month, 1 local Century

Feb: Butterfield Double

March: Solvang Double

April: Training carryover, with 1 local Century

May: Davis Double Century, or possibly the Eastern Sierra Double in June

June: LA Wheelmen Grand Tour

July: Training Month with at least 800 miles.

Aug: Desperado Duel Century Option

Sep: HooDoo 500 (50 plus)

Oct: Solvang Fall Double (never done this ride but looks really good)

Nov: Event options open. Looking for 700-800 mile in training.

Dec: Same as November.

Now I guess the question remains can Mozam do all of this? Somebody once said: "Always shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will still hit the stars."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What's Wrong with This Picture?


Indeed, what is wrong with the picture above? Well, Mozam is not on that bike and riding it! That's what is wrong with that picture. We are on a "flexible" work schedule this week between the holidays and I can't ride because of this miserable cold that I've managed to acquire. I had a track coach in college that always said, "treat a cold like you would treat an injury." Well, I have taken that advice but by being so prudent, I've decided not to ride, and expose myself to the elements which could make this malady even worse.

So, I thought I would look at the glass half-full and post a little information about a wonderful discovery me and my cycling buddies came across 2-days ago, The Rivers Mountain Trail. Here's a quick blurb from the website:

The River Mountains Loop Trail is Nevada's first endeavor of its kind. Constructed through a combined effort of many of Nevada's resource management agencies, private land owners and citizens, the trail will provide Nevada residents with an outdoor recreation area offering scenic views, plentiful wildlife and the vast beauty only the Mojave can offer.

When completed, the River Mountains Loop Trail will be approximately 35 miles in length and will surround the River Mountains connecting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, Henderson, Boulder City and the rest of the Las Vegas Valley, expanding recreational and alternative transportation opportunities for the region's growing population.

I have alluded to the trail a couple of times on some of my past blogs. A couple of days ago several of us discovered that the good folks who put this trail in have completed a whole new section that follows along the west side of Lake Mead. Most of the trail in that section paralells the main road but after a few miles the trail takes a turn and heads back inland where the "old" lake road used to be. Here's a link to the trail map. I gotta tell ya, they did a magnificent job on this thing. The trail is extremely wide and easy to ride on, even on a road bike. We all remarked, "hey this is like mountain biking, but using your road bike instead!" What a great ride!

A couple of pictures of the newly complete section



Monday, December 24, 2007

The Start of it All

I can feel the sea breeze in this photo: Bellows Beach

Ever wonder how things get started? Well, I was sitting in this very chair on 25 Nov 2005 when I decided to start a photo album for my son. I took on this monumental task because when my 'ole man died back in 1991 I found a bunch of photos of people in his family who I didn't even know. So, that began the journey into the land of scanning, categorizing and organizing hundreds of photos of our family so my son's kids don't have to look at a picture and say, "who the f__k is that." What does that have to do with cycling you ask? Well, while I was thumbing through all our family photos from our days in Hawaii from 1994 to 1997, I came across a few that we took during our very first organized cycling event, the Honolulu Advisor Century ride. And as they say, "that was the start of it all."

Looking back to the North from Hanama Bay and Hawaii Kai area

As I recall, it was a beautiful day, and what day is not beautiful in Hawaii, eh? I bought a Burly Zydeco Tandem back then and thought it was such a great bike. Actually, it was a real POS by today's standards. But hey, we weren't real roadies anyway. We just puttered along the Pearl Harbor bike path and took a few trips around the base on weekends in those days. Anway, like I said, it was a great day and we were really gonna have fun on this one. I remember the routing taking us through downtown Honolulu, up and around Diamond Head, through Hawaii Kai, past Hanama Bay, with the turnaround someplace near Bellows Beach. It was truly an epic ride and probably the reason my son, Keith, has never taken up cycling with me. He learned all about the dreaded bonk monkey and just how grumpy Dad can be when junior decides to ride the tandem instead of pedaling the tandem! Regardless of all of the bad things that happened that day, I only remember how gorgeous the scenery was and how thankful I felt to be part of it all.

The Mighty Burley Zydeco Tandem

The Kid Bonks!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Goals for 2008...Hmmmm?

Decisions, decisions! Last year was a banner year for me on the bike because I rode my bikes more than 8,000 miles in a single year. Having said that, what do I do next year I thought to myself? I would really like to set the bar at 10,000 miles, but I don’t want to be obsessed with striving to attain such a lofty bar. (Mozam, chin in hand, elbow on desk, looking up and to the right…deep in thought). Some quick math tells me that to attain 10,000 miles next year, I would have to average about 833 miles per month. That’s quite a big nut to crack since I scored an average of close to 700 miles per month this year. So, what’s a guy to do? Set the goal and go for it? Or, pussy out and only go for the recommended 10% increase over the previous goal and use that as a guideline?

I was told once that goals should always be achievable. Why? I have absolutely no idea. Who cares if the goal is achievable anyway. The only person who really cares is you, so why would anyone else give a crap? Ooops, why am I putting this in my blog? Frankly, I think riding 10,000 miles in a year is doable, and if it isn’t I can always change the goal, or lower the bar, so to speak. But hey, isn’t that cheating? Let’s see: I’ve already committed to riding 5 Double Centuries next year with my riding buddies so that’s 1,000 miles already in place. And…if I do another, say, 10 Centuries during the year, i.e., one per month or so, that’s another grand, so theoretically I could make it, right?! I love arm chair logic, don’t you? Get’s you all fired up inside and ready to hit the tarmac with a vengeance. Now, how do I crack that 833 miles per month in the summer time when it’s 100+ °F on the roads around here? Things that make you wanna go hmmmm? I would talk this over with Mrs. Mozam, but when I mention stuff like this she just stares at me with that 30-years-of-marriage, evil-eye and says, “you’re crazy!”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Are You a Poser?

Is Mozam a Poser? You decide...Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I’ve been trying to think of how to put ths into words for some time now. Am I a poser? Well, I guess the first thing to do is define the word, poser. I mean this label could mean just about anything in any certain context. So, let’s limit the context to cycling. I actually did some research on the subject via the wonderful world of Google and found some interesting references, but most of those references had one thing in common: disrespect. Without exception, every use of the word poser included some derogatory meaning or reference to which the description was applied. For example, mountain bikers use the word poser to describe someone who buys a very expensive mountain bike, but never takes the bike out on the trail. Road bikers tend to describe a poser as someone who wears a racing kit but never really races. Since I fall into the road biker category more than into the mountain biker category, I tend to reserve my usage of the word poser as it applies to road biking.

Lisa, The Ultimate Davitamon Lotto PoserPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In light of the road biker definition, it is interesting to digress here a little bit and look at this from a national standpoint as well as an international standpoint. It has been my experience that when international fans wear their favorite team kit, others judge the behavior as showing loyalty and/or admiration for their individual country's cycling heroes. Americans on the other hand, especially in the road cycling community, label this same behavior as being a poser, or one who wishes they could, but can’t or doesn’t. I have even heard of the local “racer dudes” complaining about “non-racer dudes” wearing their same team kit. I guess it’s an ego thing or a, “hey, I earned the right to wear this kit and all this poser did was pay for it” attitude.

Posers, Posers, and More Posers!Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So, here is my take on the whole poser thing. Personally, I tend to lean towards the international attitude rather than the good ‘ole boy American attitude. I see nothing wrong with wearing a team kit and riding your bike even if you don’t race; as long as the wearing of the kit is in accordance with the organization’s rules. I do, however, have a problem with wearing a kit/jersey that is unique to an event or accomplishment that you did not complete, or not fulfilling the requirements for wearing such a kit or jersey. For example: If you wear a 508 Finisher’s Jersey, you better have finished that race; or I, personally, think you are a poser…and my judgment is derogatory! On a broader note, let’s take a look at a club kit for example. Does wearing the club kit as in Planet Ultra’s case, make you a poser in my definition of the word. Well, yes and no. If you purchased Planet Ultra’s kit and you participated in a Planet Ultra event, whether you finished or not, I don’t think you are a poser. On the other hand, if you just purchased the kit and never at least attempted one of their events, I would call you a poser.

And The Shame of it all...The Poser LookPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Here is another extreme poser example and one for which I have incredible distain. There is this guy, let’s just call him poser-boy. On a ride I was on some time back, poser-boy shows up and just starts blowing off at the mouth about this and that. You know the kinda person who just talks louder than the rest of the group so he makes sure everyone notices him, instead of anyone else. Anyway, poser-boy pulls up beside me during the ride and starts his rendition of a, I’m this, and I’m that, one-way conversation. So, being the nice accepting person I am on occaision, I say: “Oh do you race?” Poser-boy says: “Yep, I was a pro for 21 years!” All proud and peacock like. As time goes on, poser-boy starts telling everyone he raced in the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, etc. He was even on Gerolsteiner’s team, Healthnet’s team and a host of others I can’t even remember, but the list is long, let me tell ya. So, myself and a few others, even a few local racer-dudes start researching poser-boy’s past via the wonderment that is Google. Guess what we find? Zero, Nadda, Zippo, not a thing that even references poser-boy. In fact, I researched Gerolsteiner’s team roster from the team’s inception and they’ve had one American on that team: Levi Liepheimer. And believe me, poser-boy doesn’t look anything like Levi. The sad thing is that poser-boy actually believes the drivel that is coming out of his mouth. Amazing! So, poser-boy get’s my vote for the best extreme poser act I’ve witnessed to date. So, I guess the question is: Are you a poser?

BikeJournal Explodes!!

Wow! At last count a few minutes ago, BikeJournal had 555 new members just this week. It appears that all the publicity on RoadBikeReview and RoadBikeRider have opened the doors to TONS of new members. I must say, this site has been great fun for me over the past year. I've met some really interesting cyber-friends and have actually met a few in person. I think the success of the site is due mainly to the insistance that all forum posts are "friendly" in nature and the fact that the content stays cycling focused. That fact along with a few other things I like about the site keep me coming back. So, onward cycling soldiers! "Ride, Log, Repeat."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


In keeping with my tradition of "Going Green" and the fact that Al Gore won the nobel peace prize (for what reason, I have no idea), I thought I would commute to work today on my trusty, Specialized TriCross converted to commuting bike. Actually, I had to commute because I did not get my sorry ass out on the road all weekend! And...Keith's car broke, so I had to lend him mine so he could get to school. As a result of my insightful and philanthropic decision, I surpassed my personal mileage goal for 2007. As you can see from the graphic above, I soared through 8,000 miles for the first time ever. I made it a personal challenge to try and average 700 miles per month this year and the overall average is hovering right at that mark. What's the point you ask? Well, I was told once that if you want to achieve a goal, you first have to write it down. So, I did that. Secondly, I was told that you have to commit to achieving the goal. I did that too! How? By joining one of the neatest sites on the net for cyclists: Bike Journal Bike Journal and all of its thousands of members inspired me to log each and every ride. Their slogan: "Ride, Log, Repeat." By logging my miles, visiting other rider journals, and sharing my experiences on the forum, I not only commited to my goal without actually realizing it, but I made some new and really cool virtual friends along the way. I had toyed with the idea of riding 10,000 miles next year, but that's a big nut to crack! Buy hey, I like cracking big nuts, so I think I'll go for it and just see what happens, eh? Looking at the glass half-full, all I could do is just surpass the 8,000 mile mark I made this year, right?

Ok. Somebody tell me how a fat, former Vice President of the United States won a Nobel Peace Prize anyway? I saw the movie and all it was was a real nice PowerPoint presentation. Heck, at least I'm going green by riding my bicycle to work while this guy jets all over the globe burning up dead dinosaurs, and living in a fuel guzzling house!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mozam is Doin' Dirt!

Well after my very first experience with "doing dirt" here in Las Vegas many moons ago, I swore never again! I guess I lied. Some of my road friends talked me into getting the Mtn Bike off the wall, tuned up, and ready for an "easy" ride. All in all, I was kinda excited to try some thing new. Not that my road miles are boring or anything, I was just curious to see how I'd feel about this new type of cycling. So, off the wall came the bike, out came the camel back; and off to the dirt I went.

It was a great day to do dirt, as Mike calls it. Windy as hell, cloudy and cold. All the elements for a reason to stay off the road for sure. We met up at the "beginner" section near Blue Diamond and Cottonwood, two very popular places to "do dirt" around here. We started off with a nice 4 mile loop that had a few challenging climbs and some really nice single track. After the first loop, I guess everybody thought I was doing pretty well, so they decided to "graduate" me to some more technical stuff. Holy crap! All I could do was stare at the trail ahead of me, and try like hell not to hit the rocks. That was tough man! I did not realize how much concentration Mtn Biking takes. And, when you start to bonk a little bit, you get real slow and stupid, that's for sure. I've now officially joined the "doin dirt" ranks because I left some skin out there on the rocks. A little of my right shin, which still hurts like hell, and some off my left elbow. Yeah, I'm a tough dirt man now, so look out!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mike Pooped a Bee!

Nice Welt

It is 3 days since Turkey Day and I’ve had enough Turkey! How about you? This is also the last day-off before returning to that thing called work, ugh… Today was a magnificent day here in the land of lost wages. So, we thought we’d take a tour around the Lake for the umpteenth-million time. Actually, it was a great day. The local lake ranger Nazi bitches weren’t on post today. Only the nice, courteous, young up-and-comers were there. No doubt because the old guard had seniority, thereby making the young bucks pay their government dues by working a holiday weekend.

In all my days and miles of riding a bike I witnessed something today that is no doubt a first. Mike got stung by a bee today. Well, not stung as in the usual sense. You know, on the arm, leg or torso. No, Mike got stung smack dab in the middle of his tongue! He said he felt something fly into his mouth and immediately closed the old throat sphincter so as not to swallow the unwelcome little pest. Upon, expectorating the remains, he noticed a funny taste and a stinging sensation on his tongue. That wasn’t all bad of course, except for the fact that he had fallen behind and had to ride a good mile before any one of us could help him out. To make matters worse, the little stinger, left behind by the since half-digested culprit, was stuck smack dab in the middle of his tongue and certainly not easy to get to. Since Mike’s wife Lisa was there for emotional support, we drafted her as chief surgeon, or maybe she self-appointed; I got to the accident scene a little after the discovery. Anyway, we all claimed no medical knowledge whatsoever dealing with tongue bee stings. As I fumbled around in my seat bag for my miniature Swiss Army knife tweezers, Lisa performed the most amazing combat field surgery I’ve ever witnessed. With the finesse that only females have using their finger nails, she snapped up that sucker with precision. Be gone pesky little stinger, be gone! Mike was now the prize winner and recipient of a nice swollen welt. Dr. Mozam, me, jumped in with a little expert medical advice and prescribed multiple washings and flushing using the medicinal wonders of Gatorade. Since Mike had no better ideas, he followed Dr. Mozam’s advice and recovered nicely for the rest of the ride.

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Drama, it’s just part of life. And…it can be very interesting sometimes. Just when we thought we’d seen enough from our bee sting experience, we had a rather nice encounter on our way out of the lake on the Boulder City side. It appeared that the Bighorn Sheep community spread the word that the GV peleton was coming through and the call went out for all to cheer us on as we made our way up the hill and through town. I quickly, and quite professionally I might ad, whipped out the ‘ole camera and got some really good shots (all of which you can see here and some of which you can see in this Blog entry). As I was snapping away, Sig (Siegfried) said, “hey, I hope they don’t turn on us and ram the bikes.” Suddenly, I got that, “I’m on the wrong side of the lion’s cage door at the zoo” feeling. So, with that thought in mind we inched our way past the herd and made our way quietly up the rest of the climb.

I can’t remember when I had a more interesting day, especially on the bike.

The Mozam's Do Dirt

Mrs Mozam and Las Vegas Sprawl

The day after Turkey Day: Cold, Windy, and Clear. So, Mrs. Mozam and I decided to take the Mtn Bikes off the wall, where they had been hanging for over 2 years, dust them off and go for a nice local ride. There is a really nice addition to a park nearby with a paved path and a graded dirt path that works its way up the mountains surrounding our neighborhood. They say that variety is the spice of life, and I guess I must agree somewhat. Dirt rides, as my friends say, are a lot of fun and trying something like this does indeed make you feel like a kid again. Since I like my skin attached to my body, and I don't like using volcanic rocks as a cushion to a potential fall, I think I'll just keep this new found fun thing recreational. Kinda like fast hiking only with wheels instead of hiking boots.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Death Valley — Surreal Indeed...

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Surreal is the only word that came to my mind that adequately describes this place. I had not been back to Death Valley since the 2004 Furnace Creek 508 bike race and what a difference three years make. The last time I was here, it was darker than the ace of spades and the wind was blowing at 40 to 50 miles an hour. There was so much dust in the air you couldn't see anything in front of the car; with the exception of few flying tarantulas now and again. So, this past weekend was such a nice surprise: clear skies, no wind at all, and very cool, pleasant temperatures.

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We took the North route out of Furnace Creek and headed over to Stove Pipe Wells. What a nice little Oasis out in the middle of nowhere. We spent a few minutes hydrating, eating some food and yaking about this and that. Frank then led us to a nice "little" climb he kept talking about. Well, this nice little climb turned out to be 7.5 miles long with an average of at least 8% grade. Frank and Mike were brave enough to conquer this bad boy on single speeds. Frank was running a 48/16 and Mike was pushing a 49/18. These guys are my heros!

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I think the girls had a good time too. Bobbie caught up with Steph about life lived, and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager while us macho men and Lisa took on the climb at a faster pace. All that climbing was not in vain, however. The bomber downhill back to 260 feet below sea level was as Frank described: a real blast! My hat is off to such great friends for convincing Bobbie and myself to join them.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nelson's Landing — I hate this ride!

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"I've just got to do this climb, come on with me!" Well, as the Nike slogan goes, I just did it. Not that I don't like climbing; on the contrary, I really like climbing at my own pace and enjoying the scenery. Nelsons Landing ride really doesn't have all that much appeal really. You turn down I-93 towards Searchlight and about 8 miles later you find yourself at the Nelson's turnoff. It is about an eight mile grind at 4-5%, then the bomber downhill to the river. The town of Nelson is about 4 miles into the descent and really isn't much to look at. Mostly, a run down mining town from way back. The real treat is the mighty Colorado River. A truly breathtaking view. The only problem is you have to go back up the 8-10% climb for 8.7miles on the way back! So, you just do it...again! Any who, any day on a bicycle is a good day, that's for sure!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tour de St. George, Utah, 20 Oct 2007

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Cool, clear, and no wind! That’s how I like my riding conditions. But hey, who doesn’t right? Nobody could ask for a better day than this, that’s for sure. 17 of us Nevadan’s took part in the 3rd annual Tour de St. George hosted by Red Rock Bicycle Shop and the gracious townsfolk of St. George. I think most of us were looking for a change this year, and boy did we find a sweet ride in this one. I was already fairly familiar with the St. George area from doing several unofficial rides up there in the past, and finishing the HooDoo 500 one month prior. But, on this ride we discovered new routes and a whole lot of back country not seen before.

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The town folk offered up the newly remodeled downtown square as the starting point which showed us a bit of a history while we waited for the starting pistol. I couldn’t help but notice that the original construction on the town square church that started in 1861 and finished up in 1871. Man, ten years to build one building. We have progressed a long way since then…well, come to think of it, maybe not.

As cyclists, I think one common element amongst us in planning for these rides is checking the weather. I’m no different and may even be a bit neurotic about it. I’ve been to Utah many times and more often than not, I’ve been on the severe side of changing weather. So, I knew I should be prepared for just about anything. I’ve been out there on those beautiful deserted back roads, cold and soaked like a rat with no rock to hide under too many times to come up here unprepared. So, on went the arm and knee warmers along with my trusty vest.

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We started out heading Southeast out of town and this start was no different than any other Century I’ve been on. Everybody was chomping at the bit, all fired up to burn as many calories in the first 10 miles as they would burn all day. People went racing by like rat’s trying to get to that last hot biscuit. Our first real climb of the day followed shortly thereafter, Telegraph Hill, a climb that put the brakes on a few of the fast rats. And what a special climb it was…just enough 8% grade to get the lactic engine started and quickly up to full power. Rolling gently out and onto the Washington fields, you get that “Back home again in Indiana” smell. That, piggy, horsey, Moomoo kinda smell. State fair, 4H…well, you get the idea. Not great for early in the morning, but reminiscent anyway. Great fun those back roads in Washington, but maybe next year, the smell will subside a little.

Our first “real” stop of day came in Hurricane, pronounced “Hurricun.” Why? I have absolutely no idea. It’s kinda like New Orleans, as the locals would have it, you don’t pronounce the word(s) as they are spelled. It’s just “Nawlins.” I guess living in small towns in Utah makes you speak differently. Great rest stops on this ride by the way! Boy scouts holding your bike while you pee. Tons of food too…most of it not that great for serious cyclists, but there was a really good selection, and even a smattering of Hammer products stood out amongst all the goodies at a few of the stops.

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Leaving Hurricun, we promply arrived in La Verkin, gateway to Zion National park. Only this time we skipped the climb up to the Zion plateau and headed into the land of Toquerville. Dr. Dog commented that we just past a sign that said, “drug free community” and now we are going into Toquerville?? “What gives with that?” Toquerville was also the start of a very long grind up to the I-15 frontage road that lead us to bomber down hill run and onto lunch back in Washington. What a great run that was…30 plus miles per hour in multiple paceline teams…a real blast!

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I gotta tell ya, after all that climbing and chasing all those fast rats in the first 50 miles or so, I was plenty hungry. In fact, so was everyone else in our little peleton. To our surprise, the ride hosts purchased about 5 giant cooler loads of sandwiches from Subway. The choices were many indeed: Turkey, ham and vegetarian, on both wheat and white, complete with cold drink of your choice and…a bag of chips. Yum, Yum! So good in fact, that Cynthia or group social director ate two and a half sandwiches, which she later paid for dearly on the climb up to Snow Canyon. After lunch, we hopped back on the bikes and headed Southwest towards St. George. The route runs a bit urban but quickly turns Northwest bound on Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive is pretty cool really. The road is pretty good and the scenery is spectacular. On your left, you look down into the mini-metropolis of St. George; and on your right is unspoiled red rock walls and canyons complete with picnic areas, hiking trails and single track. What a great place!

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The route takes a right onto Hwy 18 for a bit of a grind up hill for about 7 miles towards the Snow Canyon entrance. The view, once again, is just spectacular as you grind your way up. At about 80 miles or so, Snow Canyon provides a welcomed respite from climbing with a bomber downhill all the way through the park. We had heard about the strong winds picking up at about 2 pm and it was amazing how timely that forecast turn out. Bang, right in the face as we headed Southwest towards Kayenta! Undaunted, we battled our way in and through Kayenta for the final rest stop of the day. Kayenta is a unique community in that all the housing is nestled into the existing landscape in such a way that you can’t even tell that the houses are really there. Green thinking is definitely the mindset in this unique little community. Turning back due east we were greeted with our friend the wind again, but this time the wind became a staunch ally the whole way back to St. George.

I’ve often said, “this was a great ride” but the Tour de St. George is by far one of the best events I’ve had the pleasure to experience. The organization, support, and route were just top notch. I’ll be back next year for sure!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

One Gear, 100 Miles

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Well, we finally did it. 100 miles on a single speed bike. We did not have a lot of takers for this ride, but the ones that showed had a marvey time nonetheless. I've often wondered why anyone would want to ride a bike with just one gear, but now I'm enchanted and enlightened all at the same time. All in all, I think it makes you a better cyclist. Your cadence is slower, but much more deliberate and constant which I guess translates into a better application of power. Whatever it is, it sure is fun, and I look forward to my next hundy on my Single Speed. Perhaps a Double? Nah, at least not right now.

101.03 miles
05 hours 57 minutes 47seconds
+3624 feet of climbing
16.9 mph average speed

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You do the HooDoo?

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It’s 4:15 in the morning some where near Loa, Utah, and I can’t find my gall-darn arm warmers in the back of this cramped pickup truck we call our support vehicle. Then someone says, “ya know, we are outta gas and probably won’t make it to Panguitch if we keep going!” Damn, I still can’t find my arm warmers and I’m getting’ pretty irritated because it is dark, 43 °F outside and I’m in the bucket for the next pull. Then someone says, “how many miles can you get out of this thing on a quarter tank of gas anyway?” Suddenly, my arm warmers don’t seem all that important and I start doing math in public. Although there wasn’t much public up at this hour on a Sunday! Ever tried to do mental math after 24 hours of no sleep and about 100 miles of intervals under your butt? Heck, I couldn’t even remember my own teammates’ names, much less do basic math at 4am in the middle of nowhere. Sound like a bad dream? Unfortunately for us, this was reality, and this was Ultra Cycling reality. The never ending curve balls that crop up like this, in an event like this, put in place just to test your mental resolve. You see, Ultra Cycling is not about the fastest to the line, although that is the ultimate goal; Ultra Cycling is about survival, will to sustain, and stamina to keeping going, no matter what until crossing the finish line. Ah, my arm warmers finally! Stuffed under a previously used sweaty towel. Gee, could it get any better than this? Now…where’s my water bottle?

I’ve heard some say that individual participation in Ultra Cycling is the “real” deal, and the team aspect doesn’t really live up to the essence of the word Ultra. Nonetheless, staying awake for 36+ hours; doing endless intervals; and pulling support duties for your teammates all day and all night falls into my category of Ultra Cycling so, to me, that’s the real deal!

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As with any major event involving several people…in our case teammates…planning is essential to success. I’m a stickler for details and believe that Murphy was right, “If anything can go wrong it will.” Now, this is not a negative thought process by any means. To the contrary, this thought process involves taking a close look at all the things that need to get done before race day, and engaging in forethought as to how certain unplanned inputs may affect the team and overall strategy. In simple terms: why build in a level of ass-pain that could have been avoided before the event even begins. There is a wealth of information out there on planning, etcetera, on various Ultra Cycling websites that address this very issue so let’s move on and get to this year’s HooDoo.

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Originally, our plan was to ride one hour intervals and vary that plan based on how we felt and what effect the weather and terrain would have on our ability to keep such a pace. Frank (the team’s Italian Stallion) talked with the race organizers at the team meeting and they offered up a different rotating strategy that would possibly make our effort more efficient and pace faster. After talking the suggested strategy over, we decided to adopt the idea with the caveat of making modifications later in the race as necessary. The idea was pretty simple actually: we would break into two teams of two and rotate 20 minute pulls each, doing 3 rotations, and then swap out with the other two teammates. During your “downtime” you would drive and navigate; make water bottles for your buds; fuel yourself, clean yourself; try to find your gall-darn arm warmers; and at the same time, try to stay awake. All of which can be somewhat challenging, especially very late at night. We decided that since Frank was indeed better looking in spandex than the rest of us that he would lead off and I would be number two man. One thing I will mention here because this is the place that I noticed the effect of starting “uphill” the most. Starting off cold, uphill is a bad plan. For one, your body is not warmed up, and for another, the lactic acid hits you right away after sitting for awhile and then suddenly sprinting up a hill. So, if possible, I highly recommend starting off the next rider on either: a downhill portion, a flat portion of road, or on a crest of a hill. Since there were no restrictions on rider handoff’s in the HooDoo, I recommend using this rider exchange technique as the rule rather than the exception.

Stretching out my legs on the downhill into Hurricane I passed a couple of riders and started my climb up to the plateau for our first southeasterly run. This is where I realized that this race was gonna be an ordeal. The ‘ole Garmin kept telling me the grade was 8%, then 10% and a couple of times telling me 12%. Yeah baby, pain and more pain, but this speed bump was only a glimpse of what was to come. A couple of pulls later I then realized what else was in store for us: wind, tons of it whirling out of the southwest at a wicked speed. On the upside though, each of us got a nice push as we turned eastbound while the sun rapidly set over our shoulders in the west. This is the time of day when reality sinks in, and you realize you are in for a very long night. When everybody else is having dinner and getting ready to watch American Idol reruns on TV, you are out on the road, inching up the climbs and ticking the pedals over one stroke at a time.

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By now it was my turn to “refresh” myself so I thought I’d step into nature’s powder room, relieve some serious pressure and enjoy the setting sun. As I came up from the road-side ditch that doubled as my powder room, I noticed an RV trying to make a very tight turn onto a side-road (I was standing on) for a place to wait for their next rider exchange. All I can say is that the next sound I heard was akin to that of an imploding submarine as it succumbed to the pressure of the deep sea. The RV decided to mate with a guardrail. Thankfully, I was finished with my business because my reaction to such a sound so close by could have resulted in a very messy scene. To top things off, one of NUBS 11 year old riders went by me as I walked back to the truck and shouted a cheerful, “are we having fun yet?” comment. “Just wait you little blankitty, blank, you’ll be old like me someday!” I thought.

We made it to Bryce Canyon with just enough daylight left to take in some of the scenery. What spectacular views you get in this part of the country at sunset. Red rocks are much redder, and the contrasts with the surrounding terrain are amazing at this time of day. Well, after Bryce, I kinda of fell into a space time continuum. I couldn’t tell you if we were headed east, northeast or what, and I couldn’t have cared less what time it was. We just settled into our routine of driving, eating, riding, drinking, getting ready to ride, and supporting other teammates. I’ll comment here on another aspect of team riding in events like this. Organization in the support vehicle is key at night. Digging through storage bins, coolers, and backpacks while crawling through the side windows of a pickup truck was not optimum. But, it was a level of ass-pain we had built for ourselves and now we had to deal with it.

We kept a pretty good log of what rider was on the road and at what mileage point they had started so we could keep the leap froging technique going in the darkness. The rules stated that you could use this leap froging technique as long as the rider had all the reflective tape on the bike and there were two independent lighting systems on the front and back of the bike. I highly recommend leap froging because following a rider for hours at slow speeds is a death march for the driver and the poor sap who has to stay awake and navigate.

I already alluded to Loa, Utah (Time Station 4) in the first paragraph so I won’t go there again. But, if anybody can find a pay phone in that town, please let the race organizers know where it is. We hunted high and low with every light source we had and couldn’t find it. We did, however, find gas. Thank you Texaco!

The Essence of HooDoo

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Finally finding my arm-warmers, I took the next pull which, oh by the way, was another climb! This one was steep and never seemed to end. I passed a single rider on my way up and as I passed, he let out this really weird yelp. Kinda like a Coyote after a kill. I just gave an encouraging nod as an acknowledgement and pressed on with my pull. About the time we loaded my bike up for the umpteenth time, I noticed dawn’s early light peeking through the horizon in the east. Hooray! We made it through the night and you could feel the morale of the team pickup slightly as the sun rose steadily skyward.

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High morale faded to seriousness again as we turned south towards Panguitch. The rode dumps out of the mountains and into what I called the Panguitch valley. The downside of heading south was the fact that we were headed directly INTO the wind. As the hours passed, the speed of the wind got increasingly stronger and made riding seriously difficult at times. About 10 miles out from Panguitch, we decided to cut our pulls down to about 5-6 miles a piece and rotate as a four person team vice two two-person teams. We figured this would be a better and more efficient use of our waning energy levels. For some reason Panguitch seemed like a milestone in this race. I felt making it to Panguitch was the point of no return, and getting there would give us a little salvation that we could indeed finish this race.

What we did not realize, however, was that the climb to Panguitch Lake and further onto Cedar Breaks would be a real beeeaaatch! Given any other day, with plenty of rest, and less wind, this 34 mile climb would have been a whole lot easier in my humble opinion. What we did not realize as well, was the fact that we were climbing from around 7,000 feet to 11,000 feet by the time we got to Cedar Breaks. I kept wondering off and on, “why is this so hard?” Duh! About ten miles into this leg, we decided to break things down even further and do 2-mile pulls, swapping out as a four person team once again. This worked out great! I was actually surprised at how fast the next 24 miles went. We were able to keep our average speed up and keep the psychological effect of really long climbs in check.

Boy was I glad to see that left turn at Cedar Breaks leading to Hwy 14. I swapped out with Frank, and then Mike took us all the way down the bomber downhill to Hwy 14. I think I had as much fun as Mike did on that downhill. Somehow, after all this riding I could “smell” the barn and we were finally gettin’ there! Steph took Mr. Toad’s wild ride down Hwy 14 into Cedar City. I kept thinking on our white-knuckled drive down Hwy 14 that I was really glad we didn’t have to ride up that road. That would have been one helluva long agonizing climb!

Hot damn! Cedar City and one more checkpoint behind us. I went up the road on Hwy 56 while the rest of the team did a little shopping for provisions in Cedar City. All was good until I got out into the open desert. Then bam! The worst wind I have ever ridden in. It was blowing so hard across the road that I got blown into the gravel twice. The sand was ripping across the road so hard that it was stinging my legs…and…the road was gradually starting a pitch upwards into the mountains in front of me. I’d been on the bike for over an hour and I was whipped and very glad to see my relief show up.

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We were about 30 hours into this race and we had about 80 miles to go. It sure was a great feeling to see our mileage approach the 500 mark. What another great boost in morale. Well, at least for me anyway. At this point we maintained our 4-person rotation strategy using 6-7 mile pulls this time. Something worth mentioning here: when it is your turn to ride, make sure you take a route slip and cell phone with you. Don’t assume the follow vehicle will be there at all times, or catch up to you in a timely manner. We had a small hiccup on this part of the ride that could have potentially cost us some time, but as things worked out, we fixed everything and stayed on track.

The left turn south onto Hwy 18 was a blessing. Not only were we making our last run towards St. George, we were heading back into the mountains, and out of the wind! The sun was going down and I was having déjà vu all over again. Damn! I can’t find my arm warmers again and I’m in the bucket for another pull! Making it to Vejo was great because it meant we had 7 miles to go to the last checkpoint, Snow Canyon. Apart from my rear-tire blowout at 45+ mph, and the two failed attempts at putting another tire on my wheel, the feeling that this race was almost done was a very welcome feeling indeed.

The Holy Grail!

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Finally, Snow Canyon! Our last checkpoint. Hooray! Frank and Mike decided to take the truck to the finish so Steph and I took the last pull of 15 miles or so down Snow Canyon and on into St. George for the finish. The weather warmed up significantly which seemed weird to me because it was 9:30 at night. This was a stark contrast from 24 hours earlier. I took off elusive arm warmers and put them in my back jersey pocket never to be lost again. Well, at least in this race! It was a great finish to a very long ride. A big thanks and congratulations to my teammates for a job very well done indeed. See you next year!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Howard comes to Vegas baby!

All Three at the Summit
Mozam, Howard, and FastEddie at the Windy Summit

I thought I’d update the blog today with a little ride report from our windy and challenging ride around the Red Rock Loop here in west Las Vegas. Three of us from Bike Journal, an online miles tracking and cycling discussions forum, headed out on what was to be a rather challenging ride. Our guest to Las Vegas, Howard as he likes to be called, flew into town with his lovely bride, Baltic Tiger, and were staying at the Red Rock Casino and Resort. FastEddie and I met up with Howard in the hotel lobby at the appointed time and started out on our journey. The weather was a bit ‘iffy and looked rather threatening. Not unusual for this time of year, but rather ominous for a bike ride, nonetheless. Right out of the parking lot we were hit with some pretty strong winds, but our spirits were high I was looking forward to some climbing. We chatted for about 6 miles to the park entrance talking about all our Bike Journal friends and how the site has brought a lot of like minded people together.

For those unfamiliar, the Red Rock climb is about 6 miles of pain, but a good kinda pain. That’s the only way to describe it. And, today, we had a 20+ mph headwind all the way up to make climbing even more enjoyable. At one point, we encountered a gusting side wind that literally moved me 5 feet sideways! After finally making the summit we took in the view, which is spectacular by the way, rehydrated and refueled for what turned out to be quite a spirited descent. All in all, it was a great ride despite the wind. The sun came out on our way back from Blue Diamond and the nasty wind abated long enough to let us get back to the hotel in quick order.

You can checkout the ride profile here: Red Rock Loop Stats

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Solvang Double Century, March 2007

What another awesome event put on by Planet Ultra! After bailing out of last year's rain fest, I decided to take this one on again this year. My mileage and training were a little better anyway, so I was looking forward to the challenge. I've written about this double before and described all the scenery and how wonderful the area is so this time I thought I would focus on my thoughts before, during and after the ride. Warning: Not all the words in this report are positive and filled with uplifting descriptive metaphors.

The beginning of pain!

The Beginning of Pain

Originally, I wanted to do this thing solo and just pickup ride partners and acquaintances along the way who may be riding my pace. Well, the guys I ride with here in Vegas now and again wanted to get together and "ride together." The problem with "riding together" is that phenomenon I like to call rider’s agenda. You see, no matter how matched you are in ability, someone, or everyone, has a different idea of what the ride is supposed to be. These guys like to ride fast, which I enjoy as well, but not for 12 hours and 200 freakin’ miles. I voiced my concern and stated that we should just enjoy the ride, forget about making time, and take in some scenery. It was boldly stated, "We'll just stick together and ride in our own little group." So, I bought off on this carpet-bagging bit of rhetoric and I paid for it dearly.

One of many chases

One of Many Chases!!

From the git-go, it was horses out of the barn, or horses back to the barn, whichever you prefer. Not wanting to get dropped, I hung on dearly to the flashing red light in front of me and I kept thinking to myself that this was going to be a long hard day at this pace and just what in hell were we doing!? F!@#! Not a good way to start a Double Century! I soon found myself no longer interested in the scenery, smelling the flowers, or enjoying the early morning sunshine. All I could do was look at the wheel, or butt in front of me. Why not just drop off and do your own ride, you ask? Well, I think it is a pack thing, like dogs for instance, with humans, especially males. We still have not bred that mentality out of our DNA for some reason. It also has a lot to do with male ego or some other undiagnosed messed-up mental malady. I just don't know for sure. So, I chased; they chased; and then we all chased some more. By the time I got to Morro Bay (the 100 mile point) 5 hours and 12 minutes later, and chasing like hell after being dropped on two earlier climbs, I was pissed and I had had enough of this bullshit. "We will all stay together" should be translated into: "You better keep up, or you can hang out your garage sale sign and lie down with the other road kill."

Lowest speed all day!!

Slowest Freakin' Speed all Day!

I guess I was more pissed at myself for letting this happen, because after all, it was my own decision to ride with these knuckleheads. Gone was the anticipation and potential joy of having a really good time; gone was the smell of the flowers along the way, and gone was the enthusiasm for just riding my freakin' bike! All I wanted to do was get off the damned thing and find a cool place to sit and have a beer. What a waste! I even toyed with the idea of just pulling over, calling my wife for a ride in, and chalking the whole thing up as another wasted moment in life. I guess I kinda snapped or had an epiphany of sorts at, or around, the 120 mile point. It was like I stepped outside of myself and took a long hard look at this pitiful, unhappy, human called a bike rider and realized that this was just plain stupid. I've had this feeling before. I call it the, "this is just plain stupid" point. It is like an invisible line in the sand that I cross over and realize the time is now for a change. Kinda like that song with the lyric that goes: "If you're tired of fighten battles with yourself, change your mind." Well, at Shell Beach and 120 miles later, that's exactly what I did. I sat up, slowed my cadence and watched the train of hammerheads pull away. A really strange thing happened then. I seemed to have stepped back into myself and suddenly got this feeling of total relief.

The joy returns!

The Look of Joy Returning

As I slowed down, my body became totally relaxed, the pain left my legs, and I noticed how good the cool sea breeze felt as it gently made its way through the hair on my arms. Funny what you notice when you actually take the time to pay attention. Shortly after leaving Shell Beach, I stopped at a convenience store about 8 miles from Guadalupe and while paying for my water, had a great conversation with the friendly cashier about all kinds of stuff. Armed with a great feeling and new attitude, I hopped back on the bike and came to the realization that, "Ya know, I really am gonna enjoy the rest of this ride!"

Smelling the flowers again

Riding My Ride!!

The garmin deciding to go "nite, nite", I had no idea how fast I was going or what my mileage was and I couldn't have cared less. I just got into a groove and stayed there all the way to Los Alamos. There were a few moments of friendly conversation with other riders that passed me and that I passed along the way, but otherwise I just stayed in my zone taking in the whole Zen kind of experience. The climb up and over Drum Canyon sucked as always and the road offered no relief going up or going down for that matter. They really should pave that thing, because it is about 6 miles of agonizing downhill all the way to the highway that finally leads you back to Solvang. The sun was setting ever so slowly casting its color changing effect on the landscape with every moment that passed. Turning onto the highway back to Solvang, I could feel the wind at my back and I was feeling good again.

The road to Guadalupe

The Road to Guadalupe

After 175 miles I was feeling surprisingly strong and the anticipation of the finish gave me a jolt of enthusiasm. I got passed by a tandem and some other wheel sucker going through Buelton with a terse, "On your left, on your left" grunt. But, somehow I managed to catch them both just before the little quarter-mile climb into Solvang. I don't know whether it was the good endorphins or the final release of frustration from a long hard day, but I put it in the big ring and hammered by them like the Starship Enterprise at warp 9. Damn, that felt good! At the finish line, the usual throngs of Mozam's fan club were waiting at the podium for me with flowers and champagne, but I brushed them off for a hot shower and a subway sandwich instead.

Stats: 193 miles, 12 hours, 00 minutes, 23 seconds total time. Riding time unknown. First 100 miles: 5 hours, 12 minutes, 00 seconds.

A long day's reward

A Long Hard Day's Reward!