My First Single Speed

Here is a pic of my first single speed. Not only single speed but single brake – and a sketchy one at that. I worked this bike over. It didn’t last to be a hand-me-down to my wee sister and sadly to this day she does not get the bike thing at all.

I quite like the kit though. Maybe I should revive that look.


The Apache Trail

Yes, this is another winter ride report…what can I say?  Sunday I was looking for about 5 hours of saddle time.  A road ride was tentatively planned, but the Dos has been pulling me tighter into its web the past few days, and she wouldn’t be denied. 

The Apache Trail is a popular scenic byway NE of Apache Junction roughly paralleling the now damned Salt river.  Wilderness areas lie to the south and north; the views are nonstop.  The first bit is paved, then there is a 22 mile section of dirt road with varying levels of quality.  Some of it is pretty harsh washboard – the Dos and big wheels were good to have.

Apparently not all of the land to the north is wilderness.  If you like this mountain:

It can be yours!

The initial paved section of road is a semi-popular out and back road ride.  Lots of short climbs and finishes with a longer (for the lowlands) climb.  My recollection was that it leveled out some after the infamous Fish Creek hill…man was I wrong!  As it turned out, the road is either up or down with few level sections.  Grades are pretty steep too.  Many climbs in the 4-10 minute range and one a touch longer.  Great stuff!

The downside:  traffic.  Doing this on a Sunday is a duh move…ate pounds of dust.  Probably a lot less traffic on weekdays…

The midpoint (end of the Apache Trail) is Roosevelt dam.

At one time this was the largest masonry dam in the world, and IIRC it was built circa 1906.  I was surprised to see it isn’t a masonry dam anymore, at least on the surface.  I’m sure all the intricate brick work is under that ugly concrete…I think a few years back (maybe in the 90’s?) they did a rework and height extension to take advantage of big melt years.  Lakeshore property owners must have been up in arms about that project!  “sorry landowners, build your house on stilts or get a big snorkel.”

About a mile south of the dam is the Roosevelt marina, supposedly with a store but I never did find it.  Ended up finding water and Pepsi (!) at a national forest welcome center.  This is a good restock option…nice foks there – one of the rangers saved my day when I jammed the Pepsi machine by sticking a sweaty dollar bill in…

Time to turn this horse around, 40 something miles later I’m back at the truck, grinning the post ride grin. 

The tunes werre great today, BTW…the power file of the ride is here.


Just outside of Phoenix is McDowell mountain park, part of the Maricopa county park system.  Lots of trails here, and best of all, they have an actual mountain bike specific competitive trail system.  Can you say manna from heaven?  That means that just a few miles from town, you can go out mid-day on a weekend and ride as fast as you want without fear of horse/hiker issues.  Is this legend bitchin or what? 

I’ve chosen the sport loop for 26/29 testing.  3 spicy laps yesterday on the 29er (Dos) was just about more fun than I could handle.  They are short – only 3 miles – and all singletrack, an opening short big ring climb, then lots of twisty, rolling, whoopy stuff.  So much fun at speed.  The Dos was like riding on rails yesterday, those big wheels hugged the dry terrain like velcro and flew through the turns.  Each lap was within 1 kJ, so the data is tight! 

What is really interesting is that a slower warm up lap at roughly 24 hour pace used 12% fewer kJ over the same distance.  That’s something I’ve always suspected (that going fast is inneficient) but never quantified.  So think about this, if you will:  in a 24 hour solo event, how much sense does it make to go out hard?  The faster you go, the more inneficient you get and you also chew into your valuable glycogen stores at an accelerated rate.  Somewhere there is a balance between too fast and too slow for the first daylight stint…part of the balance is mental for sure…where do you think that balance is?  Many good 24 hour riders have wildy differing pacing strategies, maybe there is no one size fits all answer, but for sure, last years natz was an example of too fast ;)  Pretty cool – the 26/29 comparo project is teaching so much more than wheel size related stuff. 

And on the 7th day…

4 of the last 5 weeks have been between 1,100-1,500 TSS, and let me tell you, that has kept me in the hurt locker for the week.  Brent mentioned his sensations of his first recovery day…well I’ve had that for the past 6 days pretty much.  Wednesday it seemed the legs were itching for action – but once on the bike it was obvious it was to be another day of recovery.  When energy levels return, I have a very active mind in the wee hours of the morning – today for example.  The trouble is, I’m too dim-witted when in the hurt locker to remember that, doh!  Anyway, today feels like the first day of the peak and taper into OP – I’m excited for the next few weeks, rather than looking forward to the post-OP break.

So what’s all this nonesense about high CTL training?  Here’s a plot of my CTL for the last 3 years.  The y-axis begins at 80 and goes in 10 point increments, horizontal lines represent months (CTL, or chronic training load, is a measure of current training load based on the accumulated TSS of previous training.  I’ve put a short def in the glossary, but just realized it doesn’t mention TSS.  Sooner or later the actual calculation of CTL/ATL/TSB will be publicly available, but until then please accept my apologies for the cloak and dagger stuff).  To get a feeling for the stress associated with TSS points, it’s normalized so that 100 points is the equivalent of going all out for one hour.  Hmmm…thinking that way, 1500 TSS is the equivalent stress of 15 x 1 hour time trials in a single week.  NO WONDER!

Hmmm…now that I look closer, it’s more of a 2.5 year plot, oops.  ’03 data is not as complete as I thought…lots of time on the MTB sans PM.  Anyway, the trend is obvious – increasing.  The implications, especially to an enduro freak, should be pretty obvious.  By strategically increasing one’s ability to train, one can train more – and race longer, and with the right training (refered to as composition of CTL),  faster.  So part of the experimentation leading to OP is to see how far I can push CTL and also with an eye towards big weeks since TransRockies will be one helluva big week.  I’m happily calling 145 my limit for this season;)

Speaking of CTL limits and such, check out Tinker’s schedule for ’06.  That looks incredibly ambitious, even for Tinker.  Sorta boggles the imagination what CTL he’ll find after RAAM…

This is my 3rd year of doing self-experimentation leading to OP, it’s the best form of learning.  There isn’t a lot of info on how to train for ultras and it’s something I’ve been passionately putting my thoughts to for a few years now.  In a month or so, the results of the current experiment will be distilled and the results added to the library of my training hypotheses/ideas/methods.  The rough training sketch for the main racing season is in place, but it always gets tweaked in March after the OP process.  From March forward, I stick to what works, no more experimentation.

For now, on this 7th day, I’m darn excited to get to the business at hand:  dropping some CTL and increasing the intensity.  One of the projects that lends itself to this period is the 29/26 singletrack testing.  So look for some interesting 5am posts in the near future, but be forewarned, they might blow up the universe!

Big Ride Week Post Mortem

238 miles, 22 hours 35 mins saddle time,1336 TSS, one worthy crash (me) and no flat tires was the end of the week tally. I get the best training done when I’m out having fun on my bike and chasing Dave around the county for a week was a blast. I did sneek in one well timed and surprise attack on him at the top of a hill he had towed me up. I mean towed literally – with a bungee attached to my head tube! I couldn’t contain myself after taking some EnduroFX and he didn’t know it was the last real hill of the day. Small victories against your friends and team mates are important!

Here’s Dave basking in the sun with his recovery potion and manly pink mixer cup after the Gooseberry ride.

The week went almost exactly as planned opening up with a lap on Gooseberry. I shouldn’t stand on the downhill side for photo op’s. I’m sure I don’t look that short in real life – or maybe Dave is taller than I remember. Things even out when you are on your bike and when we weren’t on our bikes we had our feet up. The back drop view up on Gooseberry is Zion National Park – eye candy.

On Thursday we rode the Jem trail, one of my area favs. I had a slow sketchy day – the bike and me were not at one with the trail. I was all over the place so took a few short cuts. Dave was on crack that day and took fine care of himself hammering the singletrack. This time he’s modelling with his pre-ride drink.

My day on crack was Friday. Here is the power file for the ride. 9 hours 49 minutes, a boat load of climbing, 523 TSS, 0.821 IF and 82 miles. No power fade for me today and my best 20 minute normalized power for the ride was 258 watts right at the end hauling a** along the road to get home before dark. That’s a lot of power for the end of a big week.

Let’s do that again!!

Whatever doesn’t kill you…

19 days and counting

Leading to 24  hour events, I like to do a big volume push about 2-3 weeks out from the race.  Since Lynda is doing the race as well, and we are doing TransRockies together, it seemed only natural that we torture each other for a week.  We had the double perk of testing our TR strategy – towing.  We chose Saint George, Utah (her home town) as the jump off point for the week.  I’ve never ridden in the area and didn’t know exactly what to expect…but whatever my expectations were, they were far exceeded.  Great riding, great scenery, good clean desert air, good food, and tumbling with a 3 & 6 year old for a week – who could ask for more?

One of the weeks’ highlights was the Jem trail.  This is a 25 mile singletrack loop over a network of trails near Hurricane, Utah, just west of Zion NP.  These trails are heavenly!  Think the best parts of the Road Apple Rally, Rage in the Sage, and 12 hours of the E100 courses combined with views worthy of national park status (hey, it is Utah) and you’re getting close.  If you ever are in the area, it’s a must do – fast, flowy, slightly tech in spots.  Email me for more beta if you need it…

Another highlight was the last day of the ride week.  Lynda mapped out some sort of torture fest up local climbs (scrub peak and hellhole pass/peak) – the 2 peaks are pictured above.  This was a long day – we left around 8:30 and got back just after sunset.  The second climb was pretty long – something like 2500′ to 7400′.  How many climate zones is that?  Mohave desert to pine & fir…the real surprise came the final 20 minutes of this ride.  Since the sun was setting and we were cruising in on paved roads, we didn’t want to get caught in total darkness.  Lynda dropped the hammer and probably clocked the best power numbers she’s ever seen for 20 minutes on the mtb.  This came at the end of a very long day and a hard week of training…take home point for me?  She’s gonna be tough to keep up with at the end of TR!

This ride was a solid validation of a lot of hard work the past few months.  Power was rock solid steady throughout, and in fact the finest part was the last climb.  For the TM savvy:  CTL hit 145 (a new high) and 30 day rolling TSS is a touch over 5100.  The composition of that TSS is a bit higher intensity than previous seasons, so we’ll see how it turns out.  I’ve always got some experimental ideas floating between my ears and the winter/OP is the time to test them.  It’s tough to be too serious about results in February…  We’ll see how it turns out. 

Executing your first 24 solo, part 1 (nutrition)

A long time racing bud shot me an email the other day with a great set of questions on how to make his first 24 hour solo attempt a success.  It seemed like a great thing to share here…so here we go.  Don’t worry Yuri, I’ll send you a few top secret details off-line :)

First of all, Yuri has been racing a long time at a very high level.  He’s already a hammer, and that’s a great place from which to launch your first 24 hour attempt.  I’ve read that Eatough doesn’t do any specific training for 24s except maybe one 6-7 hour ride before the race…maybe Yuri is the next E?  The following responses are geared towards a rider who is already fit, fast, and has a good bit of racing under their belt.

Yuri:  I am going to be doing Laguna Seca on my single speed….just for a little more pain, and have a number of questions. First of all, I’ve only done a 24 hour event as part of a four man team, so I’ve never suffered for 24 hours straight by myself and  I’m wondering if you have any nutritional secrets that will help me out?? What is your favorite/most effective replenishing food? How were you feeding…did you take it on the run, or did you stop?

Dave:  Do I have secrets…hell yea!  I’m a blabber mouth though, so here we go.

Support:  You didn’t ask about this…but your support at a 24 solo is the single largest factor for consideration.  My teammate Lynda did her first 24 totally unsupported (SITS last year, the sicko finished 3rd), and for her second 24 did OP this year with a killer support crew.  She thinks support make a difference of about 3 laps in a race.  3 laps!  Start dialing it in now.

On a SS, you might get by without a mechanic, but it’s still risky.  A lot can happen in 24 hours.  At the very least, you’ll want one dedicated, very patient individual.  I’d suggest more because it is very hard on that one person to do it all.  At OP Lynda and I shared pit; we had a professional mechanic and 4 support staff, 2 kids, and one dog.  Dogs not needed…

Feeding:   my normal feeding routine is pretty simple, and perhaps gross…in one back pocket I carry bananas already peeled and cut into 3 or 4 chunks.  Easy to grab and I don’t tire of them.  In another pocket is an eGel flask.  Fluids are almost always eFuel and water.  I’ve used other drinks in the past, but can’t tolerate anything else for long periods.  eFuel/eGel is high in electrolytes so you won’t need additional supplementation unless it is really hot, or you are a heavy/salty sweater.  As a general goal, I aim for 350-400 calories each hour.  Eating that much is a challenge if your pace is too high – use that as one of your pacing guages.  No matter how fast you go, you’re still going in circles for 24 hours. 

As the race progresses, the need for solid foods with a bit of fat becomes apparent.  My favorite is tortilla, almond butter, and honey wraps again cut into chunks.  At OP, Tinker was in the next pit – we saw him going for bite size snickers & oreos.  You’ll probably want some variety in there – my taste buds were all over the map at the first couple of 24’s I did, and at one of them I was eating enormous amounts – most of it what Anna (my support guru) had brought for herself.  Some riders need a lot more salt that can be obtained from drinks and will eat soups in the night.  Ever look at the sodium content of a can of soup?  It’s like eating 20 enduralytes. 

For your first 24, I’d strongly recommend sitting down to eat at least twice during the race, once about 6-8 pm, and once about 4-7am.  Not too much, and easy on the fats/proteins, something easily digested, but you’ll thank yourself later if you do.  I never planned these breaks in my first attempts, but they became mandatory anyway.  Planning them in will give you something to look forward to, and keep energy levels up.  It should only take 10-15 minutes. One of my favorites is instant oatmeal (maple & brown sugar, oh yea), I can down one of those in 30 seconds at lap transitions…In Steamboat last year, I cracked so hard I darn near threw in the towel.  3 instant oatmeals, 4 advils, and a jug of coffee later I was a new man and soldiered on (at the coaxing of one very persistent crew member, Jen Murphy.  She about kicked my a$$).

Most of the time, all this eating happens on the bike.  I’ll have a table set up with some easily grabbed items in the pit to fill pockets and mouth. 

There are some essential supplements in my 24 hour kit.  I make sure to take in a little protein each lap.  The research I’ve seen suggests that additional protein can mitigate muscle damage and also prevent/delay mental fatigue.  If it’s cool I’ll mix HealthFX whey with OJ; if its hot I’ll mix it with V8 juice (the V8 provides a ton of electrolytes for the heat).  If this secret gets out there is going to be a lot more competition this year… Advil was the big revelation for me last year.  I honestly had never used it before.  You will probably reach a point where everything starts to hurt – back, neck, shoulders, and of course legs – every little thing seems painful.  That’s your body telling you it’s time to shut it down.  You can silence your body with Advil.  I go to a prevention mode with Advil at the 8 hour mark – 2 every 4 hours – then more if needed.  I’ve heard talk this interferes with proper hydration, so make sure that isn’t an issue.  It hasn’t been an issue for me.  I use something with some zip in the night to help stay alert and keep the bike handling sharp.  Things that have worked are coffee, yerba mate, and EnduroFX.  If you use enduro, though, don’t get carried away – you can easily bonk on that stuff!  The idea is just to keep bike handling sharp, not necessarily to hammer.  More on that in pacing…

If it’s a really tight race and you want to drill the finish, you might try defizzed pepsi or coke, either watered down or full strength if you have water as well.  That works well for me, and sometimes pepsi in the night will settle an unruly stomach.  Not sure how something that can eat pennies settles a stomach, one of the great mysteries in life…

I find a small, 50 oz water filled camelback to be the trick for 24s.  30 oz would probably be plenty big as well, maybe something like this .  Haven’t laid my eyes on one yet, but hear they are awesome.  I’ll also carry the eFuel water bottle.  Except for the first lap where I don’t have a camelback, I use that combo for the duration.

Dang, this got long!  Let’s call this the end of part 1 of ?  Stay tuned for the rest to include pacing, chammies, lights, and the big one:  training.

Don’t ask me why, though ;)