Sunday, August 1, 2010

Time to kill post

So I'm at work with some time to kill while I wait for some software to be updated.

Two things came to mind as far as what to post. First I need to play catch up from the last post, which was in April!

I drastically scaled down my race plans for 2010 after getting switched onto a new project at work. Working 45-50 hours a week doesn't leave much time for training. Some weeks riding disappeared completely. It has been incredibly frustrating.

However a few weeks ago the routine started back up and I have been doing my best to prepare for the Son of Death ride on August 28th. The ride is off the 395 highway and is 140 miles long with about 17,000 feet of elevation gain. I'm nervous about doing the ride for a few reasons:

1. Longest ride on my road bike thus far.
2. Not the best descender on the road. Hoping not to lay it down.
3. I don't have a small ring on my road bike. Might be too much grinding.
4. Need to eat well during the ride to keep energy up.
5. Ride should be in the 10 hour range and I have not done many rides like that. (Only one comes close actually and that is Ultra Quest - UGH!)

I have plans for fixing all those issues, but we'll see what happens. I also signed up for the 50 mile epic ride in Temecula in October. I got fourth last year in my class and missed the podium. This year with better training, more miles in my legs and better focus I'm hoping to do much better.

The second idea for posting was a list of things I would do if I had the time. I know how to get faster on the bike, but I often lack the time.

1. I would do yoga.
2. I would stretch.
3. I would roll my legs more.
4. I would make more trips to the grocery store and be wiser in what I buy.
5. I would learn how to fix my own bikes.

I suppose that's it.

Even though I haven't been posting much (I also gave up on posting on Geoladders), I have been riding a fair amount. Lately I've been riding 8-10 hours a week and did around 100 miles or so a week or two ago in one week. So I'm getting out, but riding in general has just changed radically for me.

If work can die down I can be a much happier rider.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sick, sick, sick

What has been happening since Vision Quest? Nothing! I have been sick for about a month with various illnesses. The first one was a crazy flu that stuck with me for two weeks. Right after getting over that I went on a hard ride and got sick again. This time it was a chest cold that has lasted another two weeks.

I went for three mellow rides over the past few days and after the one on Tuesday morning I could feel the cold coming back in my chest. I just cannot get over how sick I've been and even when I stop riding for a week and a half I can't get better.

Work has been incredibly stressful and that's the only thing I can think of that might be keeping me down.

I have a race this Saturday which kind of sucks. I signed up a long time ago and don't really want to go because I'm fat and slow right now.

Hoping to get better and then get back into my routine of training.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Vision Quest 2010

From Blog Pictures

Vision Quest 2010. This was the year where I put everything I had into training to try and reach my potential for VQ. I hired a coach, I changed my diet, I got a road bike, I did intervals, I got a new mountain bike, etc. I was really focused and did my best to prepare myself for a sub 7 hour VQ. I wanted it really bad and ultimately came 5 minutes short of my goal.

Before going into the race I had a few setbacks. Every year that I race VQ this always happens to me. This year it was a blown rear shock on the new mountain bike, a broken collarbone and some less than perfect brakes for race day. It's ok though. One never is able to race with the perfect bike, perfect weather or perfect health. You just put in the work and hope for the best.

Got up at 3:45AM on race day so I could eat something, drink a can of FRS and try to get the bowels working. Haha. After I got to the race start and got dressed I tried to warm up by going up and down the pavement at Blackstar for maybe 15 minutes. I'm not sure how much this really helped though because I was constantly dodging cars and other bikers and I couldn't really get into a rhythm.

I lined up in the middle of the pack towards the front to try and avoid the mayhem. I was right behind Manny and Cameron at the start and I was hoping to go really hard for the first 10 minutes to get out ahead of the pack. The goal was to avoid crashing in the dark and to maximize the easy grade of the first few miles of the course. Jason had let me borrow one of his Magic Shine lights which proved to be really useful for the first hour.

The early riding was great for me. I felt good and kept a hard pace which bordered on my race pace. I managed to stay with Cameron for the first few miles and was just off the lead group when the climbing started. At that point I tried to settle in and make sure I wasn't going too hard too soon. My goal was to have a really fast time to Beek's for two reasons. The first was that I needed a fast split to get under 7 hours and the second was to encourage myself. If I had a good time up I knew I would have to work to maintain it throughout the rest of the day. If I had a bad time I might give up and start taking it easy.

My time to Beek's was about 52 minutes (my personal best is 48) and I was pretty happy with that. The legs felt pretty good and my heart rate was hovering around 180 the entire trip up. I made a mental note to try and slow down because I didn't think I could sustain 180 for another 6 hours. My goal was to ride at the high end of tempo, which is about 175 for me.

From Beek's to the Motorway I think I got a bit slower. I picked easier gears and tried to pace myself instead of maintaining the push that I had going up to Beek's. I regret this a little, but I still got to the top of the Motorway at around 1:50 something. I was hoing to avoid slower riders going down the Motorway, which has plagued me in the past. This time I was the slower rider as I got passed by two guys going down. I probably lost a few minutes on the Motorway, but I hadn't been riding a lot of technical stuff so all things considered I think it was ok.

At the first aid station the transition was pretty hurried and I forgot to get a gel from Matt and Rob. They gave me my frozen Snickers bar, replaced my water bottles and pushed me off and only after a few hundred yards did I realize I didn't have anything other than the Snickers for food. Oh well!

The trip up the pavement went really, really well for me. All the road riding and focus on pedaling technique paid huge dividends. I felt strong and passed quite a few riders on the way up. It felt like I was going faster and using less energy than the other riders around me. It was pretty awesome to see the chalk writing on the pavement from my church friends. Reading "GO RYAN MEYER" made me feel pretty good.

Heading up to the first dirt turn where my friends were I was part of a pretty big group and most of them didn't recognize me as I rode by. Maybe it was the helmet or the glasses or the spandex. They finally realized I was right in front of them though and started flipping out. Lots of yelling, screaming and then as I was almost past them Jeff ran up with some clementines that made me REALLY happy.

I was pacing Heidi Volpe up Maple Springs for a while and we talked a bit. She ended up having the fastest women's time for Counting Coup on the day at a little under 5 hours. I dropped her and caught a few other people on the way for Four Corners and I could start to feel some of the energy from earlier in the day start to leave me. I think this is where my nutrition started to let me down a bit. I need to plan better. The Snicker's bar was hard to eat and didn't help much.

My time to Four Corners was around 1:05 I think, which is pretty close to a personal best for me. I've never broken under an hour, but then again I haven't really been trying for it. Right before Four Corners I rode with a guy for a while that broke his pedal and he was actually riding on just the spindle. Haha. I can't believe we had roughly the same pace for a while. =(

From Four Corners to Santiago Peak I started to come apart a little. I was running lower gears and my legs didn't have the same oompf in them. Heidi caught me and that really bummed me out. Even worse was when she put a gap on me right before the summit of the peak. The good news though was that I was on track for my goal and I was still catching riders and passing more than I was being passed.

The descent down from the peak went pretty well and there wasn't any ice or snow this year, which made it even better. I got to Upper Holy Jim a few minutes under 4 hours, which really thrilled me. The trip down UHJ was lame though. I walked quite a few sections and like every year I was passed by 3-4 riders. It's just one of those mental blocks that I have. I don't want to take chances on race day and risk getting hurt and not finishing the race. I used to think it was a huge time eater, but in reality I think I only lose a few minutes by walking a few switchbacks and other technical sections. I'd really love to fix this in the future.

Going down Holy Jim felt pretty good. I realize my descending is my biggest limiter in racing right now, but I felt like I was riding on the edge of my ability. I almost crashed 2-3 times by carrying too much speed into a few turns. I did lay the bike down at one part of the lower section of Holy Jim, but came out ok. I kept telling myself to be a bit more cautious and to stop taking stupid risks and that probably slowed me down a bit. I will say I did pretty good on the lower switchbacks, which has caused me grief in the past.

The second aid station went really well, but I have to admit I took a little bit of extra time just to relax. Matt and Rob oiled my chain and replaced the water bottles super fast while I drank a Pepsi and ate a little. The push from them leaving the second aid station was awesome. Almost immediately after leaving the second aid station my legs started to show signs of cramping. I had been cramp free to this point on only water and all of a sudden I was having issues. Part of me was pretty happy I had survived to that point without having the issues I've had in the past.

Almost as quickly as the cramps came, they disappeared. Right before hitting Trabuco proper the legs felt more or less ok and I started the singletrack climb to Horsetheif. Nothing much to say about it except that I did the entire thing by myself. The only other riders I saw were a handful of guys descending as I was climbing. No other guys riding up with me. I had to walk several sections, but overall felt like my legs were working well and I still had some strength in them.

The hike up really hurt my time. I rode maybe 10 percent of the trail and I was really frustrated because I felt like I had the energy to ride, but my legs were cramping really bad when I tried to pedal. Eventually I hit the top and stopped to eat Fig Newtons and some fruit. In retrospect I probably lost a minute or two here and should have just kept going. But I was tired and thirsty and I told myself on the bike up Horsethief that my reward would be to eat and drink for a bit.

After leaving the last aid station I tried to push because I was doing the math in my head and thought it was going to be really close if I wanted to get under 7 hours. I felt like I might be around 5-10 minutes over my goal, but I didn't want to second guess myself later. The trip over to the top of Trabuco was really hard. I pushed as hard as I could and I was feeling weak and a little dizzy when I finally started the descent.

The trip down Trabuco was fast. I wasn't around anyone else and I wanted to take some risks. I told myself that I needed to make up time so that meant riding out of my comfort zone. I was willing to crash at a high speed or go over the bars or whatever. Just need to get down as fast as possible. The legs never cramped and the brakes that were acting up earlier were fine and eventually I made it down to lower Trabuco.

Lower Trabuco was where things got annoying. Tons of riders were coming up the trail and they kept getting in the way. I mean come on now. If you are WALKING a section and I'm riding, just move to the side of the trail! No need to stand in the middle of a singletrack and stare angrily at me. After passing quite a few people (and even tipping over on top of one lady) I made it to the fire road.

Trabuco Creek Road was rough. I kept the "ride dangerously" theme going, but in the end it just wasn't enough. I ended up crossing the finish line at 7:04, just five minutes off my goal of getting under 7 hours.

All in all I'm happy with my time and my performance. No mechanicals, no bonking and minimal cramps. Everything I had planned worked out and I really feeling the structured training paid off for me. At first I was angry after the race because I came so close to my goal only to fail. But as time has gone on, I've become more proud of the time and feel like I worked hard to get it.

I'm still waiting for that perfect year doing Vision Quest though. I'll define it as my "Matt" performance. Matt's last VQ time was unreal. He pretty much blew everyone away with a 6:30 time. I want that experience. I want to have a perfect day and move up a few spots in the overall rankings. As cool as it is to finish 35th out of roughly 200 riders, I'd like to do even better. I know I'm capable and when the time comes I'll be signing up again (assuming it doesn't sell out before I can sign up).

Three down.

Friday, March 5, 2010

March Update

I first started this blog mainly as a way to keep track of my training. I wanted to be able to look back at some point in the future and see what I had learned. Also it was a way to document exactly what was going on because often times my memory and the facts don't line up.

Some notes:

1. Bike repairs. I have two main bikes and both have broken down over the last month or so. My mountain bike had it's rear shock die and it had to be warrantied by Specialized. This is the _third_ time I've blown a rear shock at the start of the year. It always happens fairly close to Vision Quest for some reason.

The front shifter on my road bike got fried somehow and that had to be warrantied as well. That one was more of a mystery because I am pretty gentle on the road bike. No crashes or attempted home repairs. Who knows. At least the replacement is free!

2. Diet. I am still eating far less than I should be. I woke up to that again this past week. I tend to get into habits and have a hard time breaking out of them. When I broke my collar bone I started eating less because I wasn't burning as many calories.

Well as the miles and work has picked back up again, the eating has stayed roughly the same. Trying to eat more and to eat better stuff. I need to learn how to eat salads.

3. Perspective. I realize that every year I go through a few periods where I get too focused on bike riding. I lose some of that balance in life that keeps everything fun. The recent injury helped me to refocus my perspective.

I'm trying not to make Vision Quest into such a big deal, but it's difficult. I've been thinking about it ever since I finished last year's event. "That sucked. Next year that won't happen."

It takes hard work and discipline to get better and to do well on race day, but I need to keep that in check. Trying to learn how to balance all the training and racing better with other aspects of life.

4. Taking time off works. I've had a few minor colds and a lot of stress in my personal life in the last month or so. The training sometimes gets to be a bit much and I start to break down physically and emotionally.

What I've noticed is that if I dial the training back temporarily, I can recover and then train hard again when I feel better. In the past I would push through the illnesses and stress and end up digging a deeper hole.

Hoping to do Bonelli a week before Vision Quest. Hope it helps and doesn't put me in a bad mood. Haha. If I go out and get 7th out of 10 riders at Bonelli it might hurt my confidence for VQ. Time will tell.

Monday, February 15, 2010

First ride back

From Blog Pictures

Went on a 2 hour easy paced road ride with Josiah on Saturday. I turned to talk to him at one point and he was taking a picture. Haha.

Just like most injuries the left shoulder started to feel good after a little work. It got loose and the blood got pumping and that helped me feel better. However after the ride it started to get stiff again and was a little more painful than usual.

Despite the minor pain I was super-duper excited to be back on the bike. It was a great day to ride and I enjoyed every minute of it. Planning to ride road for a while before trying a bigger ride in the dirt this Saturday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Great News!

Finally got into the doctor yesterday after re-scheduling the appointment a few times. They took some new x-rays and immediately after the x-rays the doctor asked me if I had actually broken my left clavicle. I was surprised but excited by the question. What if I hadn't broken it? I could ride right away!

He did some tests by having me move my left arm around and after each test he would ask if I felt any pain. I was feeling fine until he did this one test where I had to push with my arms in an outward fashion. That hurt.

He looked a bit closer at the new x-rays and saw that I had cracked my clavicle in the area around the sternum (towards the middle of my chest).

All that to say I don't need a sling and I don't have to worry about how it's going to heal. No surgery and hopefully no loss in my range of motion. Just take it easy and in his words, "don't do anything where you might fall."

I was so excited after he told me that. I had this HUGE smile on my face and laughed all the way back to my car. I stepped out of the elevator and when I found myself surrounded by three cute nurses I burped out loud and didn't even think twice about it. My mind was somewhere else.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


From Blog Pictures

First ride without my sling. Still stuck on the trainer.

What you see in the picture:

1. Me on my road bike in my living room.
2. Cycling tan lines. Proof that I train a lot.
3. A music stand. This has my workout list on it, a sharpie to keep track of what sets I've done and a stopwatch to time the intervals/sets.
4. A TV. Crucial to keep me from getting bored.
5. A bib and a wife beater. I'm inside so who cares?
6. Blurry legs. I'm getting faster ...

The trainer was a great purchase.