Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 in Review: Do's and Don't's of an Amateur Cyclist

2007. What a year. As I sit here and think back on the last year as it has gone by, I can't help but think how good it was. I got a few sweet new bikes, won a few races, went on an actual date with a girl, and even ended up the 4th ranked amateur in the nation. With that said, it probably could have been better.

And so for the benefit of all you aspiring amateur cyclists (and fans) out there, I have decided to do a quick summary of 2007 in a "Do's and Don't's" format, to help you learn from my successes, (I am kinda sure there was more than one) and avoid my mistakes (I am definitely sure there was more than one)

DO: Train in the off season. I didn't. From Jan to March I don't think I got in a ride longer than and hour. I over trained in April to try to make up for it, which led to a great first half of the season, but a bad burnout mid-July.

DON'T: Base your diet on 5 Buck pizza and chocolate milk. I know it sounds appealing, but the guys who made the food pyramid were on to something when they put grains at the bottom, and chocolate milk and pizza at the top. As fast as I really wanted to be going up hills this summer, I really can't say that consuming my body weight in pizza and chocolate milk on a daily basis helped in my dream of being a climber...

DO: Take chances. This applies to all aspects of life. I recently watched a very lame movie with one really good line: "The things that scare us the most are what end up being the most worthwhile." I've never been a risk taker, but perhaps one of my greatest moments in my short history of racing was this summer at Bear Lake.

A small group of riders broke away at mile 20. There were still 80 miles left to race. Almost no chance to hold off the pack for that long. For the first time in my life I took a risk. I went off on the attack and to this day still don't know how, but a small group of 5 of us managed to hold off the peleton almost the entire race, never getting more than a few minutes lead. In the last 2 miles all but 2 of us were caught.

With only 1 kilometer to go, I took off, pumping every ounce of energy I had into my fatigued legs. I punched open a 20 second gap on second place, and went on the win the race. I've never been so excited in my life. Never worked so hard, and never felt better. The feeling of burning down the last 500 meters knowing I had held off a field of 50 riders will be one I will never forget.
Prize money from the race

If I could only work that hard on getting married...

DON'T: Quit. Ever. No, really, don't. It's not worth it. The pain you feel for a moment is nothing compared to the pain you feel forever, knowing you gave up.

My lowest point this summer was after a race in Idaho. I went out on a few attacks too early, was quite a bit over confident in my ability, and pretty much baked my legs in the first 2 laps of a 4 lap race. As the 3rd lap started up the hill, I gave up. I gave myself every excuse in the book and rationalized my way into not trying. I soon fell off the back of the pack and finished the race completely alone.

I was so far back they didn't even give me a time, just a "Did Not Finish" status on the results sheet. To my credit I did at least finish the race, but I gave up. I quit trying. And as bad as it hurt then pushing it up the hill, it hurts even worse now knowing I made the choice to quit.

Do: Keep your priorities straight. Contrary to popular belief, cycling is not the highest priority in my life. My family comes first. As bad as I want to someday reach pro status, I want even more to be a good brother, son, and eventual husband and father. I can't say I've always been the best at letting my actions reflect this, but the older I get, the more I see how important it is to spend time with my family.

As trips home get further apart and shorter in length, I can't help but wish I could be around them more. As much fun as cycling is, it should never come in front of religion or family. (Which is why I've put in a petition to start a new program called "Church on Wheels", ask me about it if you have any questions)

Don't: Get cocky. This one definitely does NOT apply to me. Seeing how I'm pretty much the fastest kid on a bike I don't have to worry at all. When you're the best, well, enough said. This tid-bid is for all you out there who think you are good, but not as good as me. It's important to note that no matter how you try, you just won't be as fast as I am, so don't think you ever will.

As a 16 year old kid passed me going up the final climb of the state championship race this summer, I told him this. He kinda laughed and gave me a cocky smile. As I was explaining this to another kid, the 17 year old who roasted me every race in cyclocross, he kinda laughed to and gave me the same cocky grin. If you wanna read all about it I am sure you can read their blog at
www.Im.a.young.kid.who.likes.to.whoop.up.on.26.year.old.insecure.idiots.com
Its actually pretty good.

Well with that said, I've made my New Year's resolutions. I'm off now to go beat up those teenagers to show them I'm better than them...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

18 Degrees of Glory...Fahrenheit




Saturdays were invented for cycling. Don't let any of those married people try and tell you they are for yard work, cleaning, or catching up on projects. Especially don't let anyone tell you they are for school work. Just as Sunday has been set aside as a day of rest and spiritual rejuvenation, Saturdays were built around the fact that the rest of the week gets cluttered with all the nonsense of life, and Saturday was dedicated to riding bicycles. Its true, I looked it up on the Internet.

With that clarified, I feel the need to self righteously brag to all you (ok so " to all of you" may be an overestimate, how about "to both of you") who read this that last year I only missed riding on 5 Saturdays out of the whole year. I feel justified in the fact that one missed day was due to the fact that I had had hand surgery two days prior and was so doped up on Loritab I couldn't figure out how to get my bike onto my indoor riding stand (but heaven knows I tried), another was due to a severe gluteal bruise from a wicked mt bike wreck (ok so I fell trying to impress someone on campus by riding up stairs and ended up falling back on my seat...hard....but man were they impressed). Another was missed due to (this one's the killer) a girl. Yeah, believe it or not, I actually skipped a Saturday ride to spend time with a girl. Every Achilles has his heel, and apparently girls were mine that week. Turns out I do have a soft side deep inside this hardened front I put on. I've since reformed.

As for the other 2 missed days I am pretty sure I was at home in WA during different weekends without a bike to ride or busy doing family things (which believe it or not actually ARE more important than cycling to me) Bikes are fun, but my mom, dad and brothers mean so much more.

Now I am pretty dang sure you wanted to know all of that. And that's good, cause i spent a whopping 5 minutes of my life typing it.

Now to this Saturdays ride. As cyclocross is now over, it's back to training on the road for the upcoming road season. First race is February 15-16, down in Phoenix. It's a big national stage race with people coming in from all over the country (hence the "national" in "national stage race") It is pretty early in the season, but possible to do well if you have a good off season. Which is what I am doing now, having a good off-season. Much better than last year's (due to a certain distraction we'll call "XX Chromosome," my off-season last year ended up being just that, off) Well since last winter some key events have taken place that bring me to where I am today. I got dumped, I got a new bike, I got bitter, I got faster. I guess that is all there is to it.

So, again, back to this Saturday's ride (I'm just as scatterbrained and random in my writing as I am in my real face to face conversations) It was cold. The temp in Provo was listed as 18 degrees according to Yahoo Weather when I woke up Sat morning (that's about 7 degrees Celsius for our international readers). I don't care who you are, that's cold. So I bundled up and took off to meet the guys. It's days like that that bring out the "Lifers", as Jason put it. We spun out for the West Mountain ride and ended up having a great time. Matt "Danish Blood" M. won the "I'm so tough I only wear one layer in the dead of December" award. What a champ. The rest of us were nicely bundled. Bundled up like eskimos
We took a lunch in Payson and got home in the afternoon. Overall a great day on the bike.I figure that since this is what I get to stare at for most of the day, you should to. No, dad, I didn't take this picture while riding my bike...at least not through traffic.

Christmas Song

Warning:
There is absolutely no mention of any type of cycling anywhere in this post. I realize this is totally out of character and wouldn't be surprised if I get a ton of hate mail for it, but I just had to make a quick post.
As Mike, my roommate, and I were sitting in the living room today chatting with Brittany, his girlfriend, I started singing:
ME: Oh, the weather outside is frightful
MIKE: But Brittany is so delightful
ME: Well I really don't think so
MIKE: You wouldn't know, you wouldn't know, you wouldn't know
And that is all I have to say just now. I will post some pictures and notes on yesterday's epic freezing cold bike ride (there, I got in something on cycling) later. Maybe Tuesday when I am home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cross Video

I do realize that the title "Cross Video" may attract more drag queens than I really want watching me in spandex, but maybe it'll convert them to a "straighter" hobby. Here is just the video for now, I'll post an update when I have more time.
video

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hand Tossed, White Washed, Cyclocross


Cyclocross. Now there is a sport. Intentionally designed to pit riders against the elements in the harshest conditions, cyclocross events are known to send bikes and riders home full of rain, mud, snow, sand, vegetation, and any other natural nuisance you can imagine. Originating in Europe as a way to train in the off season, cycloscross started as a fun sport where riders had to simply get from one town to the next, crossing fields, fences, farms, gullies, groves, granges, hills, hurdles, homesteads, rivers, ranches, roads, swamps, sticks, and stones. (No, I have no idea what a "grange" is, it just seemed to fit the pattern of alliteration. .) See the ever faithful Wikipedia for more info on the sport.
So this season has been interesting as far as cyclocross. I've been trying the singlespeed category out for a change and have been loving it like crazy. Most of the guys who race singlespeed are pretty serious so I never seem to manage a finishing spot in the front half. (Except for 2 weeks ago at the State Championships, I pulled my best finish of the year placing 7th, but only because a few of the riders who consistently beat me were out of town at the National Championship race in Oregon) Add that to the array of health problems that have been plaguing me since mid August and it makes for a mediocre cross season at best.
Well at any rate, as you may know, about 6+ inches of snow fell today up in Salt Lake, making for some pretty crazy cyclocross conditions. I got to the race about 20 minutes before the start, just in time to do about 2 warm up laps (although I would hardly say any actual "warming up" occurred, it was colder than snot and dumping snow, so we'll just call them "course familiarization" laps) Due to my lack of aggression, I ended up toward the back of the field off the start line, pretty much scared to death of riding in the snow. However, my cautious nature paid off as I watched several of the more aggressive riders dive headfirst into bushes and trees on the first corner. I had several close calls, and unintentional dismounts, but I am proud to say I lasted the whole race with no major "eat it" occurrences. And thanks to my goodest friend Alison, I have several pictures to show for my efforts today.In case any spectacular single men are reading this, here is my sweet friend Alison, she's great, single, amazing, getting her doctorate in physical therapy, athletic, funny, intellegent, generous, loyal, and pretty much the best photographer to ever touch a camera. I hear she has a spot or two open in her busy social calender still, so let me know if I can help you out and try and get you a spot before it fills up fast :)

Right as I am about to pass him on the inside (OK, so I think he really just passed me on the outside)The snow was really coming down, but yeah, I managed to take the corners like a pro.Running over the hurdles like a champ.

Monday, October 1, 2007

12-3=9 Hours of Sundance







The 12 Hours of Sundance was back in September. I'm just now posting the blog:

So the two best things about riding bikes is racing, and spending time with good friends. Naturally then the 12 Hours of Sundance mountain bike team relay race would be the perfect event. When I heard about the race I called up my best buddy Kyle (who has since lost a few points in the friendship ranking scale due to the fact that he totally sold me out and got married this last summer) Our conversation went something like this:
Kyle: Hey
Dan: Hey
Kyle: What do you want, I'm really busy doing a 3-D puzzle with my wife
Dan: There's a bike race next week.
Kyle: I remember when we used to do those. I do 3-D puzzles now with my wife.
Dan: So I've heard. Anyway, it's a 12 hour race. Let's do a 2 man team
Kyle: Sounds good, but I think I might be a bit out of shape, these puzzles don't seem to keep me in shape like cycling did.
Dan: So I've heard. Anyway remember, Kyle, how your bike handling skills make you twice as fast as me even when I am in better shape?
Kyle: Oh yeah. Let's do it. I'll bring SlimFast for us to drink.
Dan: Deal.

And so we embarked on the adventure known as the 12 Hours of Sundance. We were both so excited for the race that we all camped out the night before. Anwyay, so here's how the race worked:
Each team would have one rider out racing the loop at any given time. The course was a 8 mile loop that took 40 minutes or so to ride. A rider could do as many laps as they liked before switching the baton off to their teammate. Kyle and I after much discussion decided that between his out of shapeness and my lack of mountain biking skills, one lap each would be just fine. And so we went, alternating laps, and having a darn good time. The only problem was that as excited as I was to race bikes with Kyle, the only time I saw him was for 10 seconds at a time as he would come in to finish his lap, and I would go off to start mine in the transition zone. Granted, we did maximize those short moments of social interaction with such stimulating conversation topics as how bad my back hurt, or how cold Kyle's face was, but it really wasn't the same as a good old sit back and relax conversation over a cold glass of Gatorade like we used to.

Now here's where the real drama starts. The race was planned to start at 7:00 am and go till 7:00 pm, with each team doing as many laps as they could in the given time. Well a little after noon, it started to rain, which is fine in a mountain bike race. In fact, a bit of weather makes racing off road a bit more fun (and by a bit of weather I am not including blizzards like the one Sam and I encountered that one time we rode LOTOJA in 2005) Either way, the rain was off and on for a few hours until finally around 3:00 pm, it started raining so hard the trail became a mess of mud thicker and stickier than the stuff they called beans in the MTC. The mud became so bad bikes would no longer roll. Riders were having to get off and run not only up but down some of the hills, truly defeating the whole purpose of it being a bike race. (for those interested in Muddy Foot Races with a Bike on Your Back, check out www.muddyfootraceswithabikeonyourback.com, but they really aren't as fun as good old mountain bike races)

So anyway, with the mud getting worse, and the temperature dropping, I feel it appropriate to point out that I had the the insanely good fortune to be in the tent resting while the weather was weathering. Don't think I am a jerk, but I was quite glad Kyle was the one out in the 6 foot mud waves, not because I dislike Kyle, but because it meant I wasn't out in it. Before you give up on me as a friend, I'll have you know that as we waited for Kyle to come back from his muddy lap, I was busy getting the car heater on, laying out dry clothes for Kyle to put on, and heating up some hot chocolate for him to sip as he nuzzled up with his wife in the tent. Yeah, mark up 23 friend points for Dan.

Well, while this is all going on, the race organizers decided to cancel the race. A few folks were upset, but I'd be willing to bet the fancy 3rd place medals Kyle and I won they weren't the people who had to ride in the mud. So after 4:00 pm, no more riders were allowed to go out, 3 hours short of the 12 hours mark, making it the 9 Hours of Sundance.
Kyle and I ended up in 3rd place getting beat my 2 teams of guys who all race pro, so we felt pretty good about that. In fact, here is a picture of the medal:
What better background than Old Glory and the bike stand in my living room.
Here is a picture of Kyle after he got back from the mud lap: Notice how happy he is despite the fact he just hiked most of the lap through mud 84 feet deep.
-Below to the left is a picture of our good buddy Chad's bike. He managed to rip his derailleur clean off the hanger due to the deadly combination of excess mud build up, and ridiculously strong leg power.

-Up top is a picture of me, waiting so patiently all bundled up to go ride my lap.
-Finally a picture of Aaron, me, and Kyle after the race.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jumped on the Blog-Wagon

So despite my best efforts to avoid popular trends (I never had a bull-cut, M.C. Hammer pants, or a slap bracelet), I've decided the idea of posting blogs online is actually quite practical for several reasons. 1st off, I don't have any actual friends to tell things to, so by posting stories about my life on here, I can at least pretend someone is listening... 2nd I figure enough weird /funny/odd things happen to me in a day that why not share them. I always thought my life would make a good novel, I've just never been too sure of what kind it would be. Something between a comedy, an inspirational sports flick (just wait, if Rudy can play for Notre Dame why can't I someday ride for Quick-Step (Watch out Boonen)), or a romantic tragedy (emphasis on tragedy). Either way its bound to be a best seller. 3rd and finally, now that I am in Grad school, I've actually got quite a bit more time on my hands. After spending the first 2 weeks of the school year watching every You-Tube video I could find on bicycle messengers I decided I needed a new hobby. So here it is in all it's glory.