Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve never been a Resolution girl. I think the statistics are pretty grim. I read that only about 15 - 20% of New Year's Resolutions are kept. There are several reasons why people fail to keep their resolutions. One reason is unrealistic expectations; other reasons are lack of planning, not having clear goals, and lacking the knowledge to implement the stated goals.

Based on a few surveys I scanned, it appears American’s top New Year’s resolutions for 2009 are: getting out of debt, losing weight, and eating healthier.

According to a University of Washington study, conducted by Elizabeth Miller, a UW doctoral candidate in psychology, and Alan Marlatt, director of the university's Addictive Behaviors Research Center, "The keys to making a successful resolution are a person's confidence that he or she can make the behavior change and the commitment to making that change," says Miller. In addition, the study indicates that "resolutions are a process, not a one-time effort that offers people a chance to create new habits."

To be successful with your own resolutions, Marlatt, who has studied the subject for more than 20 years, suggests:

• Have a strong initial commitment to make a change.
• Have coping strategies to deal with problems that will come up.
• Keep track of your progress. The more monitoring you do and feedback you get, the better you will do.

I do have goals for this year, whether I think of them as “resolutions” or not. The following tips are supposed to help me attain those goals:

A. Choose an obtainable goal. I have 5 goals for the year. 3 are cycling related, and 2 are just “life in general” things:

1. Get lean. I’d like to lose about 5 – 7 pounds, but more important, I’d like to reduce my percentage of body fat (I’m not going to tell you what it is today – just that I’d like to drop it 4 or 5 points);

2. Ride the 2009 Mt Evans Hill Climb in 2 hours 45 minutes (my current PR is 2 hours 55 minutes);

3. Break 11 hours at Leadville this year (my PR is 11 hours 11 minutes);

4. Be thankful. Consciously choose to focus on all I have to be thankful for;

5. Be more accepting. This will be the hardest of all. I understand that there may be more than one way to do something, but my way is so superior, why would any intelligent person choose another option? Uh huh. Time to get over my bad self.

B. Avoid choosing a resolution that you've been unsuccessful at achieving year after year. Not really a problem for me – yet!

C. Create a game plan. Phil and I have hired a coach for the 2009 cycling season (more on that in later posts . . .) so that will help with goals 2 & 3.

Goal 1 comes down to not being a dumb ass. I need to cut out the 3 pm snack run, eat more vegetables and less bread, and limit my alcohol to one or two drinks one day each week, rather than having wine with dinner every night.

Goals 4 & 5 require me to be mindful – and to have some support from Phil and my friends.

D. Break it down and make it less intimidating. Rather than one BIG end goal, dissect it into smaller pieces. I could say that I want to be fit, fast and a better person. Yeah . . . that makes me want to quit already. Breaking out 5 distinct goals makes it seem more manageable.

E. Give it time. Most experts agree that it takes about 21 days to create a habit and six months for it to actually become a part of your daily life.

F. Reward yourself with each milestone. Bragging rights? Oh yeah, that is reward enough!

G. Ask friends and family members to help you so you have someone to be accountable to. Phil and I count on each other when it comes to making good decisions about skipping a workout or making poor choices at the dinner table. That really helps with our commitment. I don’t want to skip a workout or drink a bottle of wine if that means his performance will improve while mine suffers. Competition is a powerful motivator for each of us.

H. Don't go it alone! Get professional assistance.Phil and I have worked with coaches and trainers before, and each time we take away new learnings and more knowledge. We are very excited about the potential with our new coach. That alone is motivating for us at this point.

I. Limit your number of promises. 5 seems to be a reasonable number . . .

J. Keep a journal This blog will be my quasi-journal, allowing me to honestly report on my progress and my results.

Here's to a safe and healthy 2009 for all of us! Cheers.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Deadlines Approaching

Triple Bypass registration opens on January 1, 2009. Last year the event was sold out in just over a week. If you are thinking about joining "those who dare," don't snooze, or you'll lose out on the chance to challenge yourself on a great ride with superior support.

2009 registration begins January 7th at 10 am for Bikerpelli Sport's Kokopelli Trail Ride. We did the ride in 2006 and again in 2008. It is a no-frills 3-day supported MTB trip. You ride from Fruita, Colorado to Moab, Utah, and then shuttle back to your vehicle. The food is hot and plentiful, the campsights are gorgeous, and the days are long. It is one of the most affordable supported MTB trips you'll ever find.

Finally, the Leadville 100 MTB registration packets arrived in the mail on December 23 - an early Christmas gift for us. "Entry must be received by January 31st. Unsuccessful entries will be returned. Confirmation will be mailed by February 9. We do not keep a waiting list."

Entry in the Leadville 100 is via a registration lottery. Hopefully our prior finishes and our two days of volunteering in 2008 during the MTB race and for the 10K will give us enough of an edge to ensure we get in.

If you need a little motivation before writing the check for Leadville, take some time to enjoy the 2008 Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race Video Collection.

Start your New Year off right - sign up for an event that is hard enough to keep you motivated to work hard and get in shape. We'll see you there!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Leadville Trail 100 – 2005 Race

As I mentioned in a prior post we first attempted to complete the Leadville 100 MTB race in 2004.

Our failure in 2004 was a huge eye-opener to us. Phil and I are both fit; we may not look like bike studs, and we aren’t speedy, but neither of us had come up against an event that we couldn’t complete. And we didn’t like how it felt to fail – not only to fail, but to quit.

Again demonstrating that one’s degree of stubbornness is inversely proportional to one’s intelligence, we didn’t accept that Leadville was beyond our ability. Instead, we decided that we were going to try again.

While we are stubborn and some do question our intelligence, we were smart enough to realize that we needed professional help. [Peanut Gallery – shush!]

Finding a coach is a difficult thing. The internet has certainly made it easier to discover your options, but the rule of caveat emptor [buyer beware] comes into play. Anyone can build a website and claim to be a qualified coach. We ended up spending a couple of months doing on-line research and calling various coaches to see if we could find someone who was qualified, available and affordable.

Eventually we hired Bob Seebohar , who at that time was a principal with ATP Coaching in Evergreen. Bob is an endurance-sports coach and sports-nutrition expert. An exercise physiologist and a registered dietitian specializing in sports nutrition for endurance athletes, Bob has been a competitive triathlete and duathlete since 1993. Most important to us, Bob had completed the Leadville 100 MTB race in 2004 (10 hours, 59 minutes).

Working with Bob was extremely valuable. We learned about training using the periodization model ; we also learned that having a structured plan with specific goals for each workout allowed us to become more efficient. The quality of our training improved, allowing us to better manage the quantity. We trusted Bob’s knowledge, and it worked.

I was not panicked standing in the starting queue in 2005. I knew what to expect. I knew that there would be suffering and that I was as prepared as I could be for the event. It was a much different feeling than what I experienced in 2004.

Phil and I both finished the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race in 2005 in under 12 hours:
11:40:20 Joanne Morrow
11:40:54 Philllip Kriz

Remarkably, after nearly 12 hours of racing, we finished only 34 seconds apart.

At the end of the race I swore I’d never do it again. Uh huh. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Training Film

The weather outside is frightful . . . so we have been relegated to riding the trainers in the basement for our long weekend rides. We have watched some Bronco games (sometimes naughty, sometimes nice) and also caught up on several movies. NetFlix rocks.

Here are several films we’ve watched in past month:

Wall-E was really enjoyable – and there was almost no dialog so the roar of the CompuTrainers wasn’t too distracting.

Breaking Away
- a cycling classic from 1979.

Marathon Challenge
- a dozen people, none of whom exercise regularly, train for the Boston Marathon.

Spirit of the Marathon
- follows 6 people during their preparation for the Chicago Marathon.

Both marathon movies are quite inspirational – they mirror in many ways the training that Phil and I endure preparing for Leadville. If you don’t build a proper base, you just can’t finish a long endurance event. Both movies show that motivation matters, but ultimately staying healthy and injury-free makes all the difference.

The Flying Scotsman
- [Johnny Lee Miller was Angelina Jolie’s first husband – which is totally irrelevant, but an interesting tidbit, nonetheless.]
For many of his 37 years Graeme Obree possessed single-minded passion for one thing, bicycling's hour record. Obree broke that record twice--in 1993 and 1994--but instead of being heralded as the revolutionary champion he was, Obree was lambasted and ridiculed. This movie is about him.

Bee Movie was only so-so. I was never a Seinfeld fan, so take my opinion with a grain of salt . . .

I’ve focused on motivating or funny films so far. The dramas might make an appearance as time goes on.

If you have any suggestions for other films to help us endure the hours, drop me a note or submit a comment - thanks!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Now that I’m back on-line I updated the Double Cross post (dated November 13) to add photos from the events. Check it out.

As masters level athletes (for those of you snickering, okay – “mature,” “arthritic,” “past our prime” . . . you get the picture . . . ) Phil and I have found that recovering from hard efforts takes longer than it used to.

When we’re too worn out to give our best effort we have found that failing to allow ourselves adequate recovery time is far more damaging to our training progress than missing a workout. But like many recreational athletes, we hesitate to rest, certain that the workout we skipped is the one we absolutely needed to ensure our ultimate success.

Given that we take over 9 months to train for Leadville, that is a pretty silly notion, but one we battle nonetheless.

So while we struggle to find the balance between proper periodized training and recovery, we have become firm believers in the rejuvenating properties of massage. Most athletes who can afford regular massages swear by them.

The one caution I have for you is that you should allow at least 3 days between having deep muscle work done and any event in which you hope for a good result. The deep tissue work helps to move lactic acid out of the muscles, but it leaves you with legs of lead the next day. If you do plan to have a massage the day before an event, be sure to speak with your massage therapist about keeping the pressure light and focusing on relaxation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Holiday Miracle



After only 7 weeks (when it was supposed to take less than 10 days) I have my new home computer.

Note to self (and to all readers) do not shop at Best Buy. I have had the privilege of suffering through inadequate and down-right poor customer service experiences in the past, but this experience with Best Buy truly elevated poor customer service to an art.

'Nuff said.

I'm back online and will be ramping up the blog as we head toward the new year and the looming Leadville 100 registration deadline . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Right Fit


I'm still without a home computer, so my blog entries will continue to be sporadic for at least the next 10 days. Thanks for your patience.

The Right Fit

Several of my friends and co-workers ask me for advice when they are looking at buying bikes or upgrading components. Let's face it – I'm a gear geek. I read Mountain Bike Action cover to cover each month, and check out and whenever I have a few spare minutes.

One recurring question is: "How much do I have to spend to get a good bike?"

The answer varies depending on how you plan to use the bike – are you going to ride it around the neighborhood once a week with your kids in tow? Are you going to commute 10 or more miles each way to work? Are you going to ride at least 3 days per week for fitness? Are you going to try a 100 mile charity ride? Or maybe give racing – either on-road or off-road, a try?

If your stated objective is to ride more than 3 times per week, or to do some rides of significant distance, my advice is this: Figure out your planned budget for the purchase, then hold back between $100 - $400 for a professional bike fitting.

Having your bike fit to you – rather than you trying to compensate for a poorly fitting bike, will save you from a variety of nagging aches and pains, not to mention potentially serious injuries, in the long term. Both Phil and I have had bike fits at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, and it has been worth every dime. [A bonus is that our insurance actually covered part of the cost of the fit as "physical therapy."] Phil was able to eliminate chronic back pain caused by a small misalignment of his cleats, and I have been able to reduce my chronic knee pain.

So, spend enough to get a nice frame that fits you. You can always upgrade components later if you find you are riding a lot and want to lighten up your bike.

Then spend the extra money you held back for a professional bike fit. No matter how much you spend on a new bike, if it doesn't fit you well, you will have discomfort when you ride, and eventually you'll just stop riding. Don't let that happen to you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Movie Time

Watching movies is one way to pass the interminable hours we spend riding our CompuTrainers indoors during the crappy winter weather. NetFlix has been the answer to relieving our boredom for two or three years. It carries multi-disc compilations of about the last 8 years of the Tour de France, a couple Giro d'Italias, and some other random cycling movies.

Our favorite movies, though, are not yet available on NetFlix. They are two movies produced by Gripped Films.

The first movie is "24 Hours Solo" about Chris Eatough's effort to win his seventh consecutive 24 Hour Solo championship. [I just looked at the website to get the link and the home page says"The perfect motivation for long, dark winter months (and endless hours on the trainer.)" Amen to that!]

The second film is "Off Road to Athens" about athletes trying to make the 2004 Olympic mountain bike team. The US only had 3 slots - 2 for the men and 1 for the women.

There are a number of trailers and extra scenes on the website, so check it out if you have time. The DVDs are available from Or, we'll loan our copies to you anytime between May and August!

One reason I bring this up is that just this week there was finally a judgment in a lawsuit stemming from USA Cycling's selection process for the 2004 team. If I hadn't seen Off Road to Athens to understand the background, I would have been outraged by the award. Having seen the film, the award just makes me sad. How do you put a dollar value on someone's lifetime dream of being an Olympian?

Anyway, I'm now looking forward to renting Wall-E, which looks like another great movie to watch while sweating on the trainer. Sigh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Double Cross


You might remember my anxiety and exhilaration when I did my first 'cross race at the end of September. Since then work, weather or the siren song of sweet single track has kept Phil from getting his first 'cross race under his chamois.

I spied a "newbie" race on the schedule for the November 9 race and did my best to shame Phil into signing up. I had an unanticipated co-conspirator when Jeffrey said he'd like to give it a try, too. So Saturday morning we made our way to Chatfield State Park for the "On the Cross" event.

It was brisk.

Oh heck, let's be frank – it was damn cold! 26º when we registered for the 8 am race. We all put on all of our clothes – skull caps under our helmets, a thermal layer, a fleecy layer and a windbreaker, warm gloves, tights and anything else we could wriggle into. Luckily the sun was out, so there was a tiny little bit of solar energy keeping us from completely icing up.

About 15 or 16 "newbies" lined up for the start. "Newbies" are supposed to be riders who are new to cyclo-cross and "citizen" racers. Citizen racers do not have a race license from any accredited cycling organization. Citizens are typically enthusiastic recreational riders, but they are not "racers" and are not affiliated with organized teams. Phil, Jeffrey and I fit the Citizen profile to a T.

The course was great. Fun, swoopy single track through the trees, tough technical transitions, barrier work, and sand sections. It was a long course, but that kept people from getting lapped. Here is a little video someone shot during the Men's Open race.

Phil, Jeffrey and I all had a ton of fun. We warmed up (understatement – we were all dripping wet at the end) and had fun riding our bikes in the woods. Phil and Jeffrey both have the 'cross bug now – excellent!

I liked the course so much I came back at 1 pm and rode with the "big girls" [the Pro Women and the rest of the Women's open field.] I think there were around 35 or 40 riders all together. Again, I was not DFL. There were 3 unaffiliated Citizen type riders in the field and we spent the whole race chasing each other. I ended up second from last and did not get lapped, so it was a banner day for me.


Sunday morning we went to the Schwab Boss of Cross event at the Colorado State Patrol test track facility, just down the road from us on South Table Mountain. Phil signed up for the first race of the morning, the Sport Men's 45. It was a bit warmer than Saturday; probably about 40º at the 830 am start.

As we stood around getting Phil's bike ready we overheard a guy talking to his friend. It went something like this:

Guy 1 (obviously a road racer): Yeah, I finally decided to give 'cross a try.
Guy 2: Are you riding with the 45s?
Guy 1: Oh, hell no! My friends all said that would be suicide. Those guys are fast – and serious! No, I'm doing the 35+ & 4s at 930.
Guy 2: Great decision. Those 45s are just wicked.

So . . . Phil's eyes kept getting bigger as we listened. Uh oh. Strategic error; we didn't know which category he should race in, so we went with what seemed logical. Rookie mistake.

Then we headed down to the start area (with a lot of really serious looking middle-aged guys). On the way we heard a wave of whining. The course was evidently thick with "goat heads," Colorado's indigenous tire shredding thorns. Several riders had already changed two or three tires that flatted while they warmed up on the course. At the start line at least three guys were frantically trying to get to their spare wheels as their tires slowly lost air.

Then the whistle blew and the horde exploded. And Phil started hanging on for dear life. Those guys were FAST. I think Phil was secretly relieved when he flatted – both tires – near the end of his second lap.

So next time we'll know better and Phil will race with the 35s; which is nice because that is usually the second or third race, instead of the first, so it may be slightly warmer.

I came back at 1 pm to do my race. And it was bad from the start. There were no other Citizen riders in the field. The women were scary fast, the course was washboard, rocks, thorns and no sections where I could build up any speed.

I got lapped at the end of my second lap, and then I got freaked out. I think I would have been ok if they sucked me up and spit me out the back, but I ended up bunched in with the real racers. I didn't want to mess them up and I don't have the bike skills to ride in a pack through a rocky washboard field. I was praying for a flat tire, but I may have been the only rider all day able to avoid the goat heads.

So I quit.

I'm still disappointed in myself.

I have a lot to learn about 'cross racing. But the way the women's field is structured it can be pretty intimidating, too. I mean, I'm riding in the same field as Amy Dombroski and Kelli Emmett. Uh . . . yeah. That makes sense.

So my new mission is to see if I can get the American Cycling Association to include a Citizens field in its 'cross events. It can be co-ed; I don't mind racing with the guys. I think a lot more people would try 'cross if it was less intimidating. Because, at the end of the day - it's just FUN!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Brief Blog Break

My computer (circa 2002) didn't give me the blue screen of death, but it was beginning to operate S-L-O-W and erratically. Phil took pity on me and we ordered a new computer last week.

Neither Phil nor I have heard anything good about Vista, so we specifically found – and ordered - a desktop that could be "downgraded" to an XP operating system. Unfortunately, when I went to pick it up yesterday, it was a Vista machine. I refused it. The Geek Squad guy was unhappy that he's going to have to re-order a computer and then re-install the special features (mirrored drives for back-up capabilities). But he basically said, I don't blame you – Vista is a piece of crap.

So, I am without a home computer for the time being.

When I'm back on-line I'll have reports – with photos - on the two cyclocross races Phil and I did this weekend . . . one good . . . and one disappointing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Almost Breaking my Own Rules

Actually, I adopted these rules from Fatty (of course). They do seem to be very reasonable guidelines. Today, though, in the spirit of noting things for which I'm thankful, I really want to break the "Don’t talk about stuff you shouldn’t talk about. If your site isn’t specifically about religion or politics, don’t talk about either" rule.

But I won't. I'll just leave it at letting you know I am really, truly, honestly thankful that I won't have to listen to another political ad for at least 18 months.

I'm having a tough time taking pictures of the things for which I'm thankful, such as having an extra hour to sleep in each morning. But I did get a few photos to share:

I'm thankful Phil is such a hard worker. He has been cleaning up leaves day after day for the last two weeks. We probably have one more round of raking and mowing before calling it quits for the season.

I'm thankful for kitties to squeeze; if Phil didn't get to indulge in kitty squeezing I'm sure he'd need more hugs from me than I could tolerate. I'm just not a hugger. Not in the DNA, I guess.

I'm thankful my friend Mary is an avid mountainbike rider and that she is willing to share her secret rides with us. Sometimes the rides are fierce, but that's part of the adventure.

I am enjoying the challenge of identifying things for which I'm thankful; it is making me more mindful. Give it a try and see if you change your perspective and spend more time with your glass half-full.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dynamic Stretching

Last May Phil and I did the Kokopelli Trail MTB ride with Bikerpelli Sports. One of the other riders we met on the trip was a personal trainer. We noticed Dan and his friend Mario on the first day because they are big guys. Both played college football.

But even more striking than their size were the warm ups we saw them performing each morning and during the day after breaks. Dan explained the theories of dynamic stretching to us. This New York Times article discusses the concept.

We started working with Dan at the end of May and learned several dynamic stretches aimed at helping us loosen our chronically tight hips, as well as stregthen our core by challenging our balance.

If you are looking for a few warm ups to challenge you, take a look at the suggestions on Mark Verstegen's Core Performance site. My favorites include:

1. LEG CRADLE - This movement will help improve the mobility around your hip capsule

2. KNEE HUG (MOVING) - This movement is a great way to build strength, stability & mobility

3. HALF KNEELING LUNGE STRETCH - This stretch works through the hips, glutes and hamstring


5. DROP LUNGE - This movement is a great way to improve the flexibility of your whole hip capsule

6. BACKWARD LUNGE WITH LATERAL FLEXION (MOVING) - This movement will help improve the mobility of your hips

7. LYING OPPOSITE - PHYSIOBALLThis movement will help prevent back injury by developing your rotary stability

8. PHYSIOBALL LATERAL ROLL - This movement will help provide lateral stability

9. INVERTED HAMSTRING STRETCH (BACKWARD) - This movement is one of our favorites for elongating your hamstring and improving your balance


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Early Thanksgiving

**If you look at my blog links you'll see a new link to Lisa Kimmet's blog. Lisa is my niece, and the inspiration for me to start this blog. She is going to take a photo of something for which she is thankful each day during November . I think that is a very cool idea - I often fail to take the time to be mindful in that way. I'll include something similar in my posts throughout the month.

While I love Thanksgiving dinner at least as much as the next person (and pumpkin pie twice as much), I think there are many other ways to celebrate thankfulness for the bounty in our lives.

Yesterday Phil, Jeffrey and I went out to Buffalo Creek for our "last ride of the season" out there. I don't think I've ever been able to ride those trails this late in the year. And I'm ever so thankful we were able to do so yesterday.

On the one hand, I absolutely love the unseasonably warm and dry weather. On the other, I looked around at the destruction from the wild fires that scorched the area several years ago and realized that we really need some moisture. Otherwise there will be another raging fire season.

[If you click on the two photos above to enlarge them, you'll be able to spy Phil and Jeffrey riding through the burn area.]

We rode two sections of trail we hadn't ridden before - a little section of Gashouse Gulch that is super swoopy and twisty and fun - with several washed out areas that could really rise up and smack you in a moment of inattention.
Then we climbed up the Morrison Creek Trail before catching the Colorado Trail to round out our day. The weather was perfect, the trail conditons were excellent (a little bit of moisture to make the dirt tacky and firm up the sandy sections) and the company was outstanding. I am thankful.

So here's a little challenge - what are you thankful for today?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Adventures for 2009

With autumn waning and winter looming our thoughts have turned to planning adventures for the new year. But we are conflicted. There are more adventures to entice us than time available to play.

Most years by late January/early February we are ready for a break from winter.

Should we sign up for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race?

Should we take a 4-day weekend to Cabo San Lucas /Cancun /Cozumel /Playa del Carmen and bask on the beach? Maybe play some early season golf? Typically we spend a 4-day weekend with Phil’s boss golfing at PGA West in Palm Springs, CA during late March – early April. A little Mexican warm-up might get us ready to win a few more bets when we attempt to hustle the boss . . .

Or maybe we ship our road bikes down to Solvang, California and do a week long “training camp” on the roads used by the US Postal/Discovery Channel team and also by the Tour of California? San Diego is also an option for some early road miles.

In 2006 and 2008 we rode the Kokopelli Trail with a supported tour (“Bikerpelli”) in early May. Should we do that again or try something completely different? Like a luxurious trip in the Moab area?

Another fabulous option is a trip to Boulder, Utah where we could mountain bike on boulder Mountain and the Burr Trail, ride our road bikes over the hogback to Escalante, do some crazy canyoneering, and top off our active days with amazing meals at Hell's Backbone Grill?

What do you think? Post a comment and vote (or send me an e-mail if the whole comment thing is too confusing.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mt Falcon

Recently Phil and I went riding with our neighbor, Jim, and his buddy Matt at Jefferson County's Mt Falcon Open Space Park. [Jim and Phil, below.]

Mt Falcon is one of Jefferson County’s (“JeffCo”) Open Space Parks. JeffCo has at least 9 top-ranked mountain bike trails – several of which are simply too technical for me and Phil to ride. But Mt. Falcon is one we can ride.

Oh sure, there are a couple stretches where prudence dictates dismounting and a short hike, but one thing we’re pretty good at is climbing, and Mt Falcon has that in spades. If you ride up the Castle trail you climb about 1800 feet in 3.5 miles.

Here is a fun video of the trail:

Jim & Matt are former snowboard racers, so going fast downhill doesn’t bother them a bit. Watching them effortlessly ride over the waterbars and easily clear each switchback at Mt Falcon was inspiring. Perhaps a bit too inspiring, as Phil biffed at least twice trying to clear obstacles Jim and Matt levitated over.

We went back after work a few days later and it was my turn to take a digger.

Crashing going uphill takes a certain amount of skill and panache. Nothing like an excruciatingly slow speed crash to give you time to contemplate how much it is going to hurt when you finally hit those rocks. Then, you need either the Jaws of Life or your patient biking buddy to extricate you from the tangled up mess of still clipped-in shoes, upside-down bike and rocks/cactus/other sharp pointy things.

It makes me happy to know that I’m not the only one to have the experience, though.

Here is a brief excerpt from Fat Cyclist:
Hairpins on the Mountain

While a hairpin on a road descent can be terrifying and a hairpin during a road climb can somehow be a respite, a tight hairpin on a mountain bike — a turn with a radius less than the length of your wheelbase — is…complex.

First, you’ve got to shed all your speed. And then you start the turn.

Slowly. Smooth if you can, but more likely herky-jerky. If you’re me.

And then there’s the point you hit the apex of the turn. It’s a magic moment. You’re briefly stalled out, and either about to squeak out of the corner and roll out triumphant, or find that your front wheel is at too sharp an angle to the rest of your bike, and fall over on your side (unless you’re lucky enough to clip out in time, in which case I would argue that you weren’t fully committed to the attempt).

When you make it, though — when you slide around a hairpin that you’ve never cleaned, or even one you only clean half the time — you get that wild moment of elation, a moment that can only be described as “magic.”

And that goes double if the guy behind you falls over.

Sunday we went back for another try. It was a crisp, clear, autumn day. We ran into our friends Paul (above) and Linda who were trail running at Mt Falcon. Paul is training for a marathon so he's trying to get in some quality miles while the weather holds.

Just beyond where we met Paul and Linda on the trail we came across a baby rattlesnake sunning itself on a switchback. The day before we had seen a 3-footer up on South Table Mtn, so this guy looked puny. I guess the snakes are no different from the humans - just trying to get out in the sun any chance we get before winter moves in.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tech Tips

Some of you grew up using a PC. Most of the rest of the folks checking out this site did not. We’re all self-taught, and there are gaps in our knowledge. So, here are a few handy tips I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks.

Google is also a units-of-measurement and currency converter. Type for example, without the quotes, "teaspoons in 1.3 gallons", "euros in 17 dollars" or "1.3 gallons in teaspoons", "17 dollars in euros". Click Search to see the answer.

When typing a web address into Internet Explorer’s address bar, you can type, for example, "yahoo" (no quotes) and then press Ctrl+Enter on the keyboard and the address will complete itself into This only works for .com domains. [Shift+enter does .net, and ctrl+shift+enter does .org]

You can enlarge the text on any Web page. In Windows, press Ctrl and the plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts); on the Mac, it’s the Command key and plus or minus.

You can also enlarge the entire Web page or document by pressing the Control key as you turn the wheel on top of your mouse. On the Mac, this enlarges the entire screen image.

You can tap the Space bar to scroll down on a Web page one screenful. Use Shift + Space key to scroll back up.

That's all for this lesson . . .

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Diary of a Cat

Many of you have probably seen this before - it makes the e-mail circuit fairly regularly.

For some reason it really resonated when it came across my desk today, so here you go (as dictated to the human by Rex -

and Fritz.)
Excerpts from Rex and Fritz's Diary. . .

Day 733 of our captivity...

Our captors continue to taunt us with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while we and the other inmates are fed some sort of dry nuggets.

Although we make our contempt for the rations perfectly clear, we nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up our strength. The only thing that keeps us going is our dream of escape.

In an attempt to disgust them, we once again vomit on the carpet.

Today Rex decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. We had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what we are capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' Rex is.


There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. We were placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, we could hear the noises and smell the food. We overheard that our confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' We must learn what this means and how to use it to our advantage.

Today Fritz was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of the tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. We must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

Rex is convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The old cat, Junior, receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. We observe him communicating with the guards regularly. We are certain that he reports our every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now................

Stop Calling Me!!!

Not you.


You know who I mean - every political campaign organization, special interest group and nut that can buy a broadcast message has been auto-dialing our phone for the last month, and the intensity is ramping up. Monday night we got 8 calls between 6 and 8 pm - and judging from all the hang-ups that show up on my Caller ID unit, the phone is ringing off the hook during the day, too.

But after 2 hours of perusing election guides -

and 2 beers - I managed to fill out Colorado's epic 2 page (front and back) ballot.

I'm done, dammit.

Now stop calling me!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

He's a Stud

Accepting his second place overall (first place in his age group) trophy during the awards ceremony at the Leadville 100 this year, Lance Armstrong said Dave Weins "is a stud."

It's nice to see that his wife agrees!

Dave Weins seems like the polar opposite of the dopers who give cycling a black eye. From my own experience, he really does cheer for other riders during the race.

And that's just cool.

No matter who shows up at the starting line in Leadville in 2009 (Lance, Floyd Landis, Chris Eatough, Nat Ross . . . Superman), the overwhelming crowd favorite is going to be Dave.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blood Doping

Well, it has happened again. Riders who had break-out performances in the Tour de France have now been busted for cheating.

Stefan Schumacher, who won both time trials in the TdF this year, and Bernhard Kohl, who won the King of the Mountains jersey and third place overall, have both had "non-negative" results for CERA, a new type of EPO.

Blood doping refers to a handful of techniques used to increase an individual's oxygen-carrying red blood cells, and in turn, improve athletic performance. The most commonly used types of blood doping include injections of erythropoietin (EPO), injections with synthetic chemicals that can carry oxygen, and blood transfusions, all of which are prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) List of Prohibited Substances and Methods.

EPO is produced naturally by the body. The hormone gets released by the kidneys and causes the body's bone marrow to pump out red blood cells. Red blood cells shuttle oxygen through a person's blood, so any boost in their numbers can improve the amount of oxygen the blood can carry to the body's muscles. The end result is more endurance.

Blood doping reduces fatigue by increasing the supply of oxygen to the exercising muscles. This does not increase the maximum force the muscle can generate but will permit the muscle to do more work for longer.

When used for legitimate medical reasons, EPO helps with the treatment of anemia related to cancer or kidney disease.

Blood transfusions involve drawing out your own blood and storing it for a few months while your body replenishes its red blood-cell supplies. Then, before the competition, the athlete re-injects the blood back into his or her body. The outcome is similar to that of EPO — a bump in red blood cells. For athletes, the extra bump can mean the difference between a winning a race or finishing off the podium.

Tricky testing. EPO urine tests, which began in 2000, have been fraught with challenges. EPO is short-lived, remaining in the body for as short a time as two days.

Somebody could cheat on Monday and if the drug-testers came on Wednesday, 48 hours might be enough for the stuff to be gone. But the performance effects can remain for 90 days or so.

Cheating athletes and those who administer their drugs constantly work to sneak under the testing radar, finding the lowest doses possible that still have performance effects or figuring out when to inject the drugs to beat testing.

Drug dangers. Blood doping has the potential of causing serious health effects. If the blood count gets too high, the blood gets too thick, and it becomes hard for the heart to push the blood around the body; the high blood count contributes to athletes having strokes or blood clots.

CERA. Like EPO, CERA was developed as a treatment for the anemia that results from chronic kidney disease. Unlike single injections of rEPO, CERA interacts with erythropoietin receptors and has a longer-lasting effect. Patients who were normally required to inject rEPO three times a week were able to achieve the same results with only one or two injections per month.

The drug was thought to be undetectable, but at least 4 riders have now been caught using the drug during the 2008 TdF; announcements of more "non-negative" results may follow.

Dopers suck.

They steal from clean riders, they steal from the fans, and they have driven sponsors from the sport, stealing opportunities from young riders.

So for those of us who ride for the love of it, doping is disappointing and I'm tired of defending cycling to people whose only cycling knowledge involves Floyd Landis.

But you know what? Dopers don't steal my enthusiasm for cycling. I love to ride my bike. It's that simple. And maybe if it was that simple for the racers we wouldn't ever have to hear about doping again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another Serving of Vegetables

You can't get fit without training, and you can't train if you don't have fuel in your tank. While I'd die happy (and fat) on a steady diet of Peanut Butter M&Ms, they don't pack much of a nutritional punch.

SWEET POTATOES, on the other hand, are a great source of high-energy complex carbohydrates for steady riding fuel. Sweet potatoes are also packed with beta carotene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant that may protect your muscles against riding-related damage and boost blood flow for better on-the-bike performance. Louisiana State University researchers found that 15 mg of beta carotene (the amount in a medium sweet potato) each day for 30 days helped runners run about 3% faster and shave 30 seconds off their 5K times.

Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
3 - 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1- to 3/4-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place diced sweet potatoes in a small bowl; drizzle with honey and oil. Season potatoes with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with cinnamon and toss to coat with honey, oil and spices.

Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until potatoes brown lightly, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl.

The touch of fat from the olive oil will help your body better absorb the beta carotene.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Periodization Training Model

Now that I have the results from my Lactate Threshold (LT) test, in conjunction with a coaching plan from TrainingPeaks, I have developed my base-level endurance building plan for the next 12 weeks.

Part of the service Boulder Center for Sports Medicine (BCSM) provides when you have a LT test is a consultation with Neal Henderson. Neal is sports science manager at BCSM and a well-regarded elite-level coach. Henderson’s clients include Garmin-Chipotle’s Taylor Phinney, Jelly Belly’s Scott Tietzel and Trish Downing, a nationally ranked paraplegic athlete. Henderson is also the winter triathlon coach for the U.S. national triathlon team, and this year was named USA Cycling National Development Coach of the Year. [Another reason the BCSM evaluation is such a bargain.]

Neal reviewed my admittedly insipid results with a straight face and helped me plan my training program.

Endurance athletes typically use a “periodization” training model. That means training volume and intensity change through a season. One of the key principles used is overload – you must increase training stress to improve fitness. But if you continually increase the amount of training you do, you will quickly reach a point of exhaustion. To avoid that problem, periodization includes blocks of increasing stress followed by recovery periods.

Typically, the plans you’ll see on the various on-line coaching sites call for 3 weeks of increasing training load (either volume or intensity or both), followed by 1 recovery week. Neal stated that when he coaches Masters level athletes (meaning old coots like me and Phil), he prefers a 2 weeks on/1 week off model.

At this point in our season – 10 months in advance of our planned event peak – our focus is on building our base-level endurance. This involves training at a low, steady heart rate. It allows your body to improve its aerobic efficiency, build endurance and burn fat as the fuel for the effort.

It is tedious, sweaty work and deceptive. It just doesn't feel like you are working hard enough to improve your fitness. After a workout at this intensity I’m typically not fatigued – it seems like a big waste of time. Many athletes make the mistake of going harder than they ought to during this phase. That results in fitness without a strong enough foundation to support sustained efforts. Their sought-after fitness goals may never be reached due to lack of proper foundation.

Fully 75% of my training time over the next 12 weeks will be spent in this “overdistance” training zone (for me, that means 70 -100 Watts and keeping my heart rate (HR) below 122).

About 15% of my remaining training time during this base building period will be spent in the “Endurance” training zone (100 -125 Watts; HR between 122 -135). The Endurance zone feels like work after you maintain the effort for 30 or more minutes. By 90 minutes to 2 hours my legs are definitely fatigued.

The final 10% of my training time will be split between Tempo and Lactate Threshold training. The perceived level of exertion for those training sessions is between “hard” and “I’d really like to throw up now.” I hope to use cyclocross races for this training level. It is easier to give that level of effort in a race setting rather than on our CompuTrainers in the basement. We are beginning to incorporate some light core training 2 days a week, and the plan is to also add in 2 sessions of yoga each week.

None of this sounds like much fun, but when my fitness allows me to get out and ride in beautiful places with my favorite people all the time and effort seems worthwhile.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Autumn on Kenosha Pass

Phil, Jeffrey and I rode up on the Colorado Trail as it crosses Kenosha Pass on Saturday. It was a blustery autumn day, but the fall colors were wonderful. It may have been the best "leaf peeping" I've done since I moved to Colorado in 1990. I was a bit disappointed to miss peak colors in Maryland last week; this made up for it.

We got Jeffrey to pose for a "Christmas card" photo (he graciously puts up with our quirks).
How can you beat this?
Phil took some little movie "action shots" but I don't know how to load those to this blog yet. If anyone knows the secret, please let me know.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lactate Threshold Test

I went up to the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine (BCSM) today and did a lactate threshold (LT) test. Forgive any typing anomalies since my left ring finger was stuck and bled 12 times. The sacrifices I make for science . . .

I started the test by warming up for about 20 minutes at very low power – 60 watts. Paul Kammermeier, the BCSM expert, then pricked my finger and checked for baseline lactate. It was actually a little bit high, so he backed me down to 45 watts for about 5 minutes, tested again, and all was well, so the test began in earnest.

I was on the bike for about 70 minutes, so it isn’t a terribly long event. About every 4 minutes Paul pricked my finger and bumped up the watts. My heart rate and perceived level of exertion rose fairly evenly along with the higher watts.

The bottom line is that I’m not as fit as I was in September 2005. That isn’t a surprise; we rode Leadville in 2005 and I was still in fairly good condition when I did my lactate threshold test.

This season I focused more on drinking beer than I did on physiological adaptation and mitochondrial development. Do you blame me?

So here are the numbers – over the next several posts I’ll explain what the numbers mean and how I need to modify my training plan in order to use the information gained through the testing process.

My goal [in addition, of course, to keeping family bragging rights to the best Leadville finish time], is to increase my power to weight ratio. That means I need to reduce my mass (goodbye chips, salsa and beer) and increase my power.

Lactate Threshold Values
Power Output 135
Heart Rate at LT 140
Mass (available strictly on a need to know basis!)
Power to Weight Ratio 2.5

Prescribed Training Zones
Zone by Power (Watts)
Recovery less than 70
Overdistance 70 – 100
Endurance 100 – 125
Tempo 130 - 135
LT/Supra Threshold 135 – 150
VO2 Max 155 – 190

Zone by Heart Rate
Recovery less than 112
Overdistance 112 – 122
Endurance 122 – 135
Tempo 136 – 140
LT/Supra Threshold 140 – 149
VO2 Max greater than 149

Weddings and Monuments

We have been out of town for the past week attending my nephew Erik's wedding in Baltimore, MD and doing a bit of sightseeing in Washington, DC.

Enjoy this one - it may be one of the only times you'll see a picture of me and Phil cleaned up for company! No bike helmets, caving gear or backpacks. I even wore pantyhose. Really.

Here is a shot of the Morrow siblings (in age order - Peggy, Mary, Barbara, Pat, Eileen and me). All of my nieces and nephews made it out to the wedding, too. I think we overwhelmed Hilary (the bride), but we all had a wonderful time. The wedding was held at the Belmont in Elkridge, MD.
On Tuesday Phil and I went to Washington, DC with my sister Eileen, her kids Clare and Adam, and my sister Peggy's family (Ron, Tom & Lisa and Madison & Nora).
The kids could not have been better - I was tired of museums and monuments long before they were. Of course, I didn't have a patriotic popsicle, either. . .

Maryland and Washington, DC are lush and there are more trees than a high plains girl like me can ever imagine. It's fun to visit, but I'm glad to be home again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I do a cyclocross race.

If you click on the photo it will get larger - and you can see I'm off the back before it even started!

Lance does a 'cross race. Coincidence? Or is he just a copycat? Hmmm.

I think more people are interested in his results.

Go figure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mysterious Tape

Monday night while watching the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars [there you have it - my dirty little secret; I'm addicted to DWTS, much to Phil's amusement] the camera zoomed in on Kerri Walsh, Misty May Treanor's fellow gold medalist in beach volleyball.

I remembered seeing one of the Olympic matches where Kerri had a crazy bunch of athletic tape all over her shoulder and I wondered what the heck that was all about.

Mystery solved. For those of us battling chronic injuries it may be worth checking out. If it makes my knees feel better I don't care how goofy it looks.

Oh, and if you are wondering, I think Warren Sapp has a good chance of pulling off a DWTS upset this season.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Did It!

Despite having serious misgivings (my bike is too big for me, I can't deftly execute a cyclocross flying mount, I will certainly be DFL and I may throw up), I decided to compete in my first cyclocross race yesterday.

The Mammoth 'Cross race was being held less than a mile from our house. It was a sunny autumn day, with no wind and the course promised to be dry. In other words, it was a perfect opportunity to give cyclocross a try. None of those factors eased my nerves.

The Senior Women's categories were racing at 215 pm. I left the house about 1215 and rode over to the race venue. Thank goodness I got there early and registered before most of the other women racers showed up. I might have been too intimidated to register if I'd seen the other riders in the field. There were at least 50 women (from Category 1 – Category 4 and 35+) at the start. Less than 10 of us were not wearing full team kits (meaning we were "unaffiliated" – a nice way to say too slow to be on a team).

I decided I was okay with being DFL (since this is a family blog, let's say that stands for Dead Flat Last). I wanted to have the experience of racing to see if it is something I'd like to do more of – or whether my 'cross bike is going to be used strictly for commuting from here on out.

I positioned myself at the back of the start pack and let everyone get out ahead of me – that gave me the chance to watch the other racers and see how they maneuvered through the course and around the barriers. It also meant I was less likely to inadvertently ruin someone else's race by doing something stupid, accidentally cutting them off.

It was a hoot!! Hard, certainly.

I felt like I might throw up during the first lap. But as I got warmed up and more comfortable, I really enjoyed the course and riding my bike. Definitely like cruising around out in the hills and fields behind our house when I was a kid.

I did get lapped by the eventual winners, but I expected that and they were encouraging as they rode by.

I ended up being third from last. My lack of skill was a problem, but my fitness allowed me to hang on. The race was 45 minutes long; if it had been 60 minutes I think I could have picked off 3 or 4 more racers who were starting to fade. Figuring out the pacing for a 45 minute event is odd since we typically do long endurance events. I need to work on that if I hope to improve my placing in future races.

Phil couldn't race because he is recovering from a nasty sprained ankle, so he took photos and yelled encouragement. It was great to have a friendly face in the crowd.

I think I'll try it again; if I spend time working on the mount and dismount skills I might move up to fifth from last!

Friday, September 19, 2008

File under "Cool Gadgets"

There are some really clever people out there.

Evidently none of them work for Lehman Brothers or AIG . . . but they are out there. Just doing cooler stuff than bond trading and insurance underwriting.

Holiday note - once the Speed Vests are commercially available they will make great gifts for the road cyclists and bike commuters on your list.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Eat Your Vegetables!

One of the challenges Phil and I face when we're training is that WE'RE ALWAYS HUNGRY!! We are usually trying to either lose a few pounds (the power to weight ratio makes a huge difference when climbing) or just trying not to gain any extra. Nothing tastes better than a slice of Woody's pizza and a frosty beer after a good ride, but we try not to indulge too often.

So I found the article in today's New York Times to be both interesting and timely.

Here is my contribution to the veggie loading - Phil loves this and will fill up on it instead of eating bread or other empty calories.

Roasted Spiced Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and spices. Bake on a jelly roll pan (a Pampered Chef stoneware pan lined with parchment paper works great) at 450° for 20 minutes, or until tender and browned, stirring every 5 minutes. Add the pine nuts, then toss and roast for another 10 minutes or until the pine nuts are lightly toasted.

The cauliflower is great with just pepper and a dash of sea salt if you aren't into cumin and coriander.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lactate Thresholds

In my first blog entry I said I'd talk about training for the Leadville 100 MTB race. So far I haven't done much of that, in part because we haven't really started our focused training for the 2009 race yet.

So this is the first "real" training entry, but it won't be the last.

After our unsuccessful attempt to ride Leadville in 2004 Phil and I took a few days to lick our wounds, then we sat down and came up with a plan which we hoped would allow us to succeed in our next attempt.

The first step of that plan was to have lactate threshold testing performed at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. We hoped the information we learned could then be used by a coach to help develop a training plan tailored to our fitness levels.

Lactate threshold is one of the most common performance markers used by many athletes and coaches. The point is to learn the highest intensity at which you race and train before hitting the wall from high levels of lactate and metabolic waste in your bloodstream.

What is Lactate Threshold?
The energy required to move is supplied from the breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The body can store about 85 grams of ATP and would use it up very quickly if we did not have a few ways of resynthesizing it.

There are three energy systems that produce energy: ATP-PC (short, explosive movements), glycolytic (intermittent hard intervals) and aerobic (endurance exercise).

Athletes most commonly attribute the intense burning and pain felt during exhaustive bouts of exercise to lactate, which is produced by all energy systems, but becomes an issue when it accumulates and can't be processed fast enough. When you demand energy faster than your aerobic energy system can produce it, your glycolytic energy system picks up the slack. Even though glycolytic (anaerobic) literally means without oxygen, it’s not that there’s no oxygen available, but rather that your aerobic system is going as fast as it can and you still need more energy. The glycolytic system is fast because it doesn’t use oxygen to burn carbohydrate, but it’s less efficient and produces less energy, per unit of fuel burned, than the aerobic system. Your body has to clear lactate from working muscles and process it back to useable fuels, and lactate threshold is the point at which production outstrips the clearing process and lactate starts to accumulate in the muscles.

Why Lactate Threshold Matters
Your lactate threshold essentially defines the upper limit of your sustainable efforts in training and competition. Once you cross over and rely more heavily on your glycolytic system for energy, you’re exercising on borrowed time. The accumulation of lactate will hinder your muscles’ ability to contract, and you will be forced to slow down or stop.

The more work you can do before reaching lactate threshold, the better. If the pace you can hold at your lactate threshold is higher than the pace your competitor can hold at his or her lactate threshold, you go faster, reach the finish first, and win. Being able to do more work at lactate threshold also means maintaining a lighter pace is even easier. While your main rivals are burning energy fast, riding at their limits, you can stay right with them and rely primarily on your aerobic system. This saves valuable energy for hard efforts later.

An athlete’s initial lactate test provides an indicator of fitness level and a starting point for training. Depending on the protocol used, the following data can be acquired through a lactate test: maximum sustainable power (cycling), recovery heart rate (how quickly the athlete’s heart is able to return to recovered levels), speed and power at lactate threshold, and a relative index of fitness (i.e., speed or power divided by the athlete’s body weight).

The real power of lactate threshold testing comes from comparing test results over time. Provided you’re training and striving to improve, regular lactate testing provides you with concrete evidence of improvement, or lack thereof, throughout the season. A history of lactate tests should show changes in fitness, characterized by: increased power and/or speed at threshold, improved recovery heart rate, a higher lactate threshold heart rate, and a higher speed- or power-to-weight ratio.

Consistency is the key to improving performance at lactate threshold. You have to accumulate a lot of work at a steady workload to place the appropriate amount of stress or load on the system. Since you can’t spend a lot of time working above threshold, these training intervals have to be at an intensity just below your threshold.

In subsequent posts I'll talk more about how to use your lactate threshold (LT) when developing your training plan.

I am being re-tested at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine on October 2, so I'll also provide details of my test and how I will use that information to structure my training plan for the 2009 season.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Track Cycling

One of the great things about living in the Denver area is the abundance of recreational opportunities - both as spectators and as participants. While I'd usually opt to go for a ride on a gorgeous autumn Saturday, I talked Phil and Jeffrey into going down to Colorado Springs to watch some of the 2008 USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships.

Even though I've been an avid recreational cyclist since the mid-80s, I've never paid attention to track cycling, and don't know much about it. We watched the men's team pursuit and the women's match sprints.
The match sprints seemed to have a lot of tactics involved, while the team pursuit involved 4 guys on each team just going all out until someone blew up and fell off the back - then the remaining three tried to stay together until the end.

We rounded out the day by stopping to watch some of the Pikes Peak SuperCross event at Bear Creek Park in Colorado Springs. It was fun to watch the mounts, dismounts and near-misses. Maybe we can do that after all . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jean – Leadville Crew Chief (2004, 2005, 2007 . . . & 2009?)

In the summary of our 2004 race I mentioned our valuable crew chief, Jean. Jean's birthday is tomorrow (September 12) so it seems like a perfect opportunity for a shout out.

We met Jean at our gym (Athletic Club at Denver Place, now "Forza") several years ago. Jean was a regular at the two-hour Saturday morning Spin class/sweat extravaganza which we used to attend during the dreary winter months. When she first heard of our plans to ride the Leadville 100 she volunteered to crew for us.

Neither Phil nor I really understood: 1) why anyone would be silly enough to volunteer to wait around all day long just to support us; or 2) why we needed support (remember – we still hadn't figured out it was a race).

As the time for the race drew closer, we still didn't realize how important it was to have a personal support crew. But Jean was insistent that she'd be there for us, so we shrugged our shoulders and thought – "That's really nice. Odd, maybe, but really nice."

Friday before the race, as we spent hours fussing with our gear – "Do I really need shoe covers? A raincoat? Will a vest be enough? Rain pants? How much food should I carry? How much should I leave in the drop bag for Jean to carry to the feed zone? Sunscreen? Advil? Pepto Bismal? Electrolyte tablets? Chamois butter? Aaargh!!!" – we began to understand how crucial it was going to be to have a sane person out on the course who could talk us off the ledge as needed.

We made a lot of extra work for Jean that year just because we didn't know what we were doing, so it was difficult to give her any meaningful guidance. But Jean took everything in stride – including the fact that we put her up in the skankiest hotel you could imagine. [Any Trail Lodge in Leadville – to be avoided at all costs. Sleep in your car if you must, but don't sleep there.]
Saturday morning at 5 am Jean was up and ready to help any way she could. She held bikes and jackets, gave reassuring hugs, back pats and pep talks until – BOOM. We were off. And Jean's really long day truly got underway.

She had to fight the traffic out to Twin Lakes. Find a parking spot. Find a "camping spot" to wait for us. Haul the Rubbermaid tubs we had loaded up with the gear we might – or might not – need at least 1/2 a mile or more to the pit area. Our friend Chris's wife, Patty, was also setting up a pit area, so she and Jean were able to find a space and get hunkered down for the wait.

By the time I rode into Twin Lakes (outbound) I can't even tell you how great it was to see a familiar, friendly, supportive face. And when I came slinking back into Twin Lakes (inbound) with a pounding migraine after the Columbine Mine climb, it was so hard to tell Jean I was quitting. I didn't want to let her down. She had sacrificed her weekend and was so supportive, saying "You can make it, c'mon, keep on going . . . ." But I couldn't make it, and I couldn't keep going. So Jean loaded me up in the car and we headed over to the Pipeline aid station to cheer for Phil.

We watched some racers go through the aid station looking strong, while others pulled over to vomit or cry or stretch out cramping legs. And we waited. And waited. And paced. When Phil rolled up it was obvious he was DONE. But Jean gave him a drink and a pep talk and a pat on the back . . . and he just shook his head and said, "No I can't do it. I'm done."

So Jean loaded up his gear, too, and drove us back to town. It was a very quiet, dispirited drive. But by the time we got back to Leadville Jean was trying to cheer us up. We both felt too awful for it to have much impact, but that's just Jean – she is naturally encouraging and supportive of her friend's attempts to challenge themselves.

Several months later, when we told Jean that we were going to hire a coach and try Leadville again in 2005 the first thing she said was "I'll crew for you." Silly girl. But this time we knew both how much work it would be and what a gift Jean was offering. We jumped on the offer – and made sure to secure much nicer lodgings for her!
Happy Birthday!