Tuesday, February 17, 2009

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Several months ago, and probably under the influence of heavy prescription medicine and/or NyQuil (probably a combo of both), Nails and I somehow talked ourselves into doing a 24 hour race...duo. I've suffered through a 24 hour race before, but that was on a 4 man team, and I think the word "suffer" is the only real solid memory I have from the experience.

The combination of having the slowest lap times, 941 MPH winds fold my tent almost in half so that the top was pounding my face like a spring loaded club while trying to sleep the night before the race, inhaling approximately 3 metric tons of dust, developing a wheezing cough that sounded like I'd smoked enough to keep Joe Camel in business myself the last 20 years, feeling nauseous enough to want to vomit after every Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie I ate.....well, I think that pretty accurately describes my first impression of 24 hour racing.

Luckily enough for me, the guys on my 4-man team were fast enough to make up for my complete lack of 24 hour racing competency, pulled some sweet fast times, and got us on the podium. It was a magical moment.

It may have been in the aftermath of that event, after my brain had blocked the 23.5 hours of pain and and pleasantly remembered the .5 hours of positive happy time (I learned all about how the human brain can cause itself to "forget" or block super traumatic experiences in life as a "defense mechanism" in my Psychology 111 class at the Coug. Great stuff they're teaching over there at that fine institution. Its also where I learned important life lessons such as: any Mormon freshman girl will buy any male over the age of 21 any meal anywhere on campus, in exchange for 30 minutes of attention, or 10 meals for a diamond ring)....anyway, I am thoroughly convinced it was after some serious defense mechanics on my brains part that I agreed to do another 24 hour race...duo none the less.

Looking back, doing a 24 hour race in February is a great way to stay motivated to workout all winter. Granted you can only ride a bicycle in a garage for so many hours before you feel like your brain is either going to explode, implode, or just break up into petite morsels and fall out your nose bit by bit. So it forced us to come up with new training techniques.

My personal favorite December training secret was snowshoeing with a back pack full of diet soda (8 or 9 2-liters is just about right). Everyone should try this. (and by "everyone" I mean everyone with great medical insurance and a desire to grind away enough cartilage to require a double knee replacement within 4 months)

So we trained. We rode 12 hours of Temecula in January as a warm up/training ride 3 weeks before the big race and decided that just maybe we did have the mental characteristics to do a 24 hour race duo (and by "mental characteristics" I am referring to insanity, stubbornness, lack of rational thinking, and sheer stupidity)

Either way we rolled into Tucson, AZ late Thursday night, set up camp and slept with visions of night racing, dancing through our heads. Friday we got up, ate some hearty flap jacks courtesey of Tamer, and went out to preride the course. Relatively flat, nothing too technical, ideal for an ex-roadie like me who struggles with basic mountain bike maneuvers such as "turning".

Saturday we got up, complained about whatever we could find to complain about, tried to pretend like we weren't nervous, and got ready to race. Mark took the first lap and threw down a pretty fast time. Just fast enough to send me off in a hurry as I had a secret (and by "secret" I mean I pretty much told everyone) goal of my own to beat Mark's first time. 1 mile from the finish on my first lap I went through a rough and bumpy section that was just enough to bump my chain apart.

Visions of earlier in the week when I had not snapped the masterlink on my chain all the way, thinking to myself "it'll snap into place the rest of the way as I ride" ran through my head and I cursed my stupidity (not out loud, mind you, I signed the BYU honor code) I got off and pieced my broken chain together and ended up with a time just 2 minutes slower than Marks....about the time it took me to think of every BYU approved cuss word, get my chian tool out and fix the thing.

We continued on the first day, holding steady laps and into the night. Thanks to my dad who was at home watching the results on the internet, I got hourly texts telling us what place we were in. Climbing steadily through the night, we kept the laps steady and even started pulling up on the the first place team. By noon the second day we found ourselves a mere 12 minutes back off the first place team. Not bad after what ended up being 25 hours of racing. We took our 2nd place with pride

The trophies they handed out were pretty much the coolest things ever. But we didn't win, so we just got a cool ceramic tile. Hand painted. And a bit of cash, not bad. Definitely worth going for 1st next year.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Camp Nails 2009

Thanks to everyone who participated in this years "Camp Nails" it was a huge success. And by success, I mean we got to ride our bikes all day long in shorts and short sleeved jerseys . The kind of days you can only dream about during Utah winters. My cheeks even got a little rosy from the sun. Talk about sweet times in the saddle.
Here's a break down of our intense training camp:

Day 1
Mark and I decided this year to raise the bar on our training camp with an opening day prologue up Woodland Hills Drive on road bikes. We were very aware that by starting such a tough camp with such an intense day would drive a few of the less dedicated riders away, but the point of Camp Nails has never been to coddle the weak. So Friday afternoon the group headed out for probably the toughest Day 1 in Camp Nails history. The group seemed to take the opening flats pretty well. We pushed the pace through Springville and really dropped the hammer in Spanish Fork. We were putting out more watts than the Provo Police Department puts out parking tickets in a whole month. We were laying down speeds fast enough to break the BYU Honor Code. (I haven't read it all the way yet, but I'm pretty sure there's a clause in there regulating how fast you can ride a bike)
Anyway, so we creamed through Spanish Fork with our average pushing at least 15-16 mph. (Probably closer to 16.7, but I really wasn't paying attention) We got to the base of the climb in record time and started the grind up. We knew the climb would be treacherous, but we forged on like truly dedicated cyclists.

Before I knew what was happening, Mark was out of the Saddle and rallying the group. I had no choice but to follow. I dropped a few gears and not only matched his attack, but launched a counter that completely left the group in the dust. I could feel the burn in my legs, but the suffering only pushed me on, giving me the motivation to go harder than I ever had before. As I settled down into a solid pace, my legs felt so strong and I felt so fast I had to actually check my computer to make sure that we were indeed going up hill and gaining elevation. I was on fire. So imagine my surprise when on one of the corners, I see the rest of the group only a bike length away. I could tell Mark was a little put out by my driving the pace so hard with so much of the climb left, but I didn't come to Camp Nails for a tea party and book club discussion, I was here to ride. So ride we did, all the way to the top.

As we reached the summit, a few of the locals were out to watch the finish. They were fully aware of all the glory on the line for whoever reached the top first. Knowing Mark as well as I do, I decided to play it out, and take advantage of one of his only weaknesses: Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Snack Cakes. As we sprinted for the line I strategically pulled one from my jersey pocket and tossed it to the side of the road. Mark, being the predictable "always thinking with his stomach" typical guy he is, had no choice but to forgo his chance at eternal victory in the hill climb, and stopped to pick up the Little Debbie Snacky Cake.
Despite the questionable tactic employed on my behalf, I felt great about my victory as we started down the hill.

Overall a great group to ride with that day. Some serious hammer heads who drove the pace all the way home, but hey, I didn't get into this sport for fun.

Thanks to all who made it to Day 1, a great opening to Camp Nails 2009

Day 1 Roster:
1. Mark "Nails" Johansen
2. "Fast Dan" Nelson
3. Lil Debbie

Day 2
For the second day we traveled a bit down to St. George, land of the eternal mountain bike trails, sunshine, and retirees in Lincoln Towncars. We headed out Friday night and ended up making the decision as a group to camp out at the parking lot/trail head of the area we would be riding. Despite the fact that we already had a paid reservation at a 26 star luxury hotel/penthouse suite in the business district of downtown St. George, we chose to camp on the dirt, so as to "become one" with the soul of the earth, in order to better improve our own individual spiritual relationships with the dirt we would be spending so much time riding over the course of Camp Nails.

Morning rolled around and as the dawn cracked, we packed up our things and waited for the sun to rise. Our day was to start at the very moment the sun crested the jagged horizon in the eastern distance. Or....maybe we slept in till 9. I really don't remember.

As we rode off, we decided as a group that this was to be the best day of riding ever. Or at least the best day that week.

We started by doing like 21 laps of Zen, give or take 20. We then headed back to the car to meet some of the less dedicated riders who didn't feel the need to get a jump on the day like the rest of us (OK so actually we just forgot to call them to let them know we were already there) and off we went to do several hours on the race course. After what seemed like 10 or 11 or maybe only 1 laps of the race course, we headed out for Barrel Roll and did a few loops out there. As I began to feel the pain of several hours of riding on some rather rugged terrain, I began to respect Craig and John for being total studs, riding on rigid single speeds. I tip my hat to you fellows.

On our way back we even had a little brush in with some celebrities. As we headed back from Barrel Roll, we saw THE Lynda and Dave. We figured they just hadn't ever gone home and had been out riding since last week's Camp Lynda. I tip my hat to you fellows.

After stopping by the car to replenish vital supplies, we headed out for another race course loop and Zen lap. We rode back into town with one last field sprint up a large hill, which, I don't know if you knew this or not, but I'm kind of a big deal, people know me, so I naturally rose to the occasion and once again won the sprint. 60% of the time, I win all the time.

Overall it was a pretty sweet trip. Good friends, good times, and lots of riding. It seemed like such a hard training bout I could hardly believe it had only lasted 2 days. So while I'm now a broken man, trying to recover, I know I will be a better man for it when the racing season hits this spring. I mean in two weeks....

Day 2 Roster:
1. "Captain" Mark "Nails" Johansen
2. "Fast Dan" Nelson
3. "Trouble Maker" Craig Farnsworth
4. "I don't know if he has a nickname" Aaron Smith
5. "Pops" Kevin Johansen
6. "John Boy" "Sabrosa" Hansen
7. Rob "Tamer"
8. The entire Cougarette Dance team