Sunday, August 28, 2011

Coming Down

Literally and figuratively. The Colorado trip was an awesome experience and a great way for me to keep my mind (kind of) off of the fact that I'm missing races with my teammates. We woke up Saturday morning and hit the road around 8AM Colorado time. We drove straight through to Bloomington, getting in just after 2 AM. We probably could have made better time, but my brother got 2 speeding tickets last time he drove back from Colorado, so he wasn't pushing the pace quite like I was during my stints. Gotta take advantage of those 75mph speed limits out west.

The trip all together was pretty exhausting, since we were running non-stop most days, in an attempt to get maximum value. Needless to say, when I crawled into a bed for the first time a week, I was out. I hate to keep talking about elevation all the time, but maybe it's just because I'm sensitive to changes in elevation, but I really felt a big difference in quality of sleep at higher elevations. Last night was the first time I slept through the night since I left. I sound like an infant. Maybe I just needed fed or burped.

I had my cyclocross bike in Colorado with me and have been riding it most of the time over the last few weeks, but I got the road bike back out today, and it was glorious. I think it was a combination of the adaptation to altitude I made over the last week, then coming back home, but the gear was turning over nicely today. I definitely didn't have a single day in CO where I felt decent. This very well could just be a coincidence, but if it turns out to gave me the benefits of a mini altitude camp, I might be making some return trip to the mountains before some key event in the future. I guess well just have to see.

It's been tough to watch all the racing going on around me over the last few weeks and not be a part of it, but I think I'm going to be change that this coming weekend. There are 4 crits in St. Louis over Labor Day weekend that would be good training and a chance to race with the team some more before cross season. The collarbone is doing awesome and I have no problem executing all the necessary moves, including sprinting, so I think it's a go. I'll probably throw some Rock Tape on it again for some extra support (and sympathy) just as a precaution. I just feel like it would be pretty tough to replicate the training that I'll get from this weekend and it should go a long way toward helping get me back up to speed after the time off.

I'm off to bed. I hope my legs feel as good tomorrow as they did today.

Here's a quick video I shot from our ride up Cottonwood Pass last week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Insert Dumb & Dumber Quote Here

Because of my broken collarbone, I've obviously had some time away from racing and therefore a pretty clear schedule. The collarbone is doing well, the Tour of Colorado is going on, I needed to get some training in, and it always a good time for camping, soo my brother and I decided to take a trip to Colorado to see how much awesomeness we could cram into 9 days.

We drove through the night last friday and got to Boulder (we both have friends here) at about 9 AM local time. We alternated driving full tanks of gas while the other rested, so we were able to roll it pretty good and make great time. When we got here we went to a coffee shop to watch the crit nats live feed. We went to a place on Pearl St. called The Cup. Great people-watching down there. Since it was delayed, we left the shop to go to our friends house and watch the last few laps once they restarted. Eric freaking won that SHIT! I'm no psychic, but I texted him 2 days before the race and told him that he was going to win. I don't really know why, but I literally could just feel it. When it happend I freaked out a little bit. It was probably a good thing we left the coffee shop because I would have caused quite the ruckus, and probably been arrested. The kid's got some game. And I know I referenced it in my last post, but no matter how much he achieves, I'll make sure the crit champ never forgets that he had to be picked up by mommy on our big ride a few weeks ago. Hey, I've gotta have something to hang onto, right? Congratulations, dog!

Back to Colorado.

We've been doing some awesome riding here is Boulder. It's not really that hard to figure out why everyone moves out here. Sure, there are some people with douchie tendencies, but every city has people like that. The first few days I wasn't doing very well with the elevation. It felt like I was back to having mono, because you're just so restricted and can't go anerobic at all without blowing up. Also, why didn't anyone tell me to bring an easier cassette? My 39-25 is too damn hard for the steep stuff out here. You can muscle just about any gear over a climb in the midwest for a few minutes, but not out here for 2 HOURS! Honestly, it's been fine for most of the stuff, but I have been tempted to "stop for a picture" at a few key moments on some of these steep climbs.

So we went down to watch some of the stage race that's going on in CO at the moment. We went to to ride the dirt road climb up to Cottonwood Pass on Tuesday and then watch the Stage 1 finish in Crested Butte. It was an uphill sprint from a pretty select group. If Phil Gilbert had been here I think it would have been right up his alley. Cottonwood was sweet, but not really that hard to just ride, but it was pretty damn scenic. We also descended back down the dirt side, and that was a good test for the stability of my collarbone on some of the washboard sections. It was strong like bull.

The paved side of Cottonwood

Dirt Cottonwood

Crested Butte Finish

After Crested Butte we drove to Twin Lakes, which is basically where the race turns onto the road that goes into Aspen and over Independence Pass, and we had planned to camp there, at about 10,000 feet, but decided to go camp at the top with all the other bike race watching hooligans. The pass is 12,100 feet and it looks and feels every inch of that. Camping up there was crazy. Cars lining the road, with lots of little car parties going on. My sleeping pad died in the middle of the night, so I was sleeping on the lumpy top of a mountain with no oxygen to breathe and it was a balmy 30 degrees. Can't they just bulldoze some of this untouched mountainside for a nice Hilton? I mean, there are, like, plenty of mountains in Colorado.

My brother is getting some camera skills. Independence Pass at night.

Party cars at sunrise.

Upon getting out of the tent at 6:00, (I didn't wake at 6:00, because that would imply that I actually was asleep. False.) my brother and I decided to hike up to the top of a neighboring mountain for some pictures of the scene at the top of Independence Pass. We didn't think it would take very long, but real summit was behind what we could see from camp, and we weren't about to not summit that shit. America. It ended up being a nice 2 hour hike up to just shy of 14,000. I was wrecked and we hadn't even gotten on out bikes.

Putting out the vibe at around 13,000 feet.

We decided to coast down the mountain to Aspen for some very reasonably priced breakfast... On the way, our friend Graham lost his crank bolt, and therefore, his drive side crank was falling off. This could quite possibly be the best stretch in the world for this to happen, a 19 mile descent into a town with certain bike shops. We only had to push him over a few rollers near town.

We got breakfast at some corner cafe and sat outside and got race faced by all of the Aspen dwellers. They weren't even on bikes, they were just life race facing us. They needed to make sure we knew that based on our scruffy faces and bikes instead of Land Rovers, be were obviously worse at life than they. AYHSMB.

Once we were back climbing the 19 miles to the car and our spot for spectating, everyone decided to go their own pace. I was starting to feel better and wanted to do some efforts, so just started riding a good tempo. I was smashing all the people on mountain bikes and multi-sport bikes, even blowing the doors off the masters racers with the carbon wheels. After about 30 min of climbing, and having not been passed yet, I checked my side view mirror on my helmet, and found a bogey on my six. Some dude was coming up fast. Phhhh, like I'm gonna let some fred blow my doors off. Well this "fred" happened to be none other than former bad ass pro, national champ, Olympian, Little 500 Legend, Shimano Big Wig, Wayne Freaking Stetina.

I've ridden with Wayne before at Little 500 related events, so I knew that he could motor. So when he caught me it was clear he wanted me to ride with him and wasn't going to just blow my doors off. He immediately started chatting and I was locked into "his pace" for the remainder (1;15) of the climb. My semi comfortable tempo ride turned into an hour at threshold. He was riding threshold too, because I could hear him breathing pretty hard when he wasn't telling my stories of wearing the yellow jersey in the old Coors Classic. We we're both pushing it, and stopped chit chatting all together for the last 30 minutes or so.

Once over the top, he was nice enough to claim I had him on the ropes... Thanks Wayne. Legend.

This blog post is reaching an unbelievable length. If you're still with me, sorry.

Some dudes racing.

So, anyway, we watched the race come over them climb, and it was pretty cool. Some say just as crazy as a real euro climb. Definitely a fun experience, but I prefer to be on the bike racing instead of spectating. We came back to Boulder on Wednesday night because I had a ride scheduled with Boulder cyclocross heads of state, Greg Keller and Brandon Dwight. Today imma do a big ride up to the Peak to Peak highway and try to smash myself real good before we head back to all that oxygen on Sunday.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ryan's Health Blog

I know this blog used to be about bike racing, but it seems it's turning into a place to update everyone about my health, or lack of health. I would imagine that most of you who have made your way to my blog, probably have checked my Twitter account at some point, but in the event that you don't or haven't in the last few days, I've got an announcement to make: Like an idiot, I broke my collarbone, again. Not ideal.

I was out riding one of my shiny new Stevens cyclocross bikes on Friday, and was doing a bit of practicing bunny hopping barriers. I'm always practicing my bunny hops, even on my road bike, so this isn't out of the ordinary, however, this was my first time wearing my cross shoes since I came back from Belgium in the winter. They actually still smell like the Belgian cow shit/mud. Apparently, the cleats were pretty worn and I didn't notice until my foot came out of the pedal, mid barrier hop. If you've ever come unclipped unexpectedly, you know that it can be a pretty violent experience. In my case, my left foot came out and I sprang from my bike as if it were a diving board, landing on my right side pretty heavily. Stupid.

This is my 3rd broken collarbone and second time I've broken my right collarbone, however this is a new location for the break. I knew it was broken right away, so I was naturally pretty pissed off. I spent the afternoon in the ER getting xrays and being treated like an infant. Quite annoying. I think my spine/ pelvis are pretty out of whack as well because I have some serious nerve pinching going on when I walk. I'll be making a trip to the chiro tomorrow to get that sorted.

This fracture is the least painful of the 3 I've had and it's also the widest range of motion I've had immediately after the break. I'm sure the doctors would advise my differently, but I don't think I'll be taking much time off the bike. Like, none. The most annoying part of this is that I was just getting ready to hit a nice block of crit racing to help tune me up for the cross season. I did however just finish my first cyclocross based training block on Thursday, so I guess it could have been worse had I missed that.I'm just bummed that this effectively ends my road season. It started late and ended early, not what I would have hoped for.

Outside of breaking bones, life has been good around these parts. Last week, me, Mike Sherer, Eric Young and Erik Hamilton decided to do a solid day on the bike. We did a 90 mile loop in the afternoon, known here as "The 90", and then followed it up with the Wednesday Worlds training race, which tacked on another 40 miles. 130 miles in any conditions is a tough task, but that distance in the 95* heat was shattering. I drank 14 bottles and didn't pee once. DEEEEHYDRATED. I was bonking so badly the last 10 miles that I could barely hold the weight of my head. Great fun. At least I didn't call my mommy to pick me up like BISSELL PRO Eric Young. He did destroy us in every sign sprint throughout the day though.

Erik Hamilton's wedding was last night, and that was a great time with a lot, a lot, of bike dorks drinking and dancing. Congrats to he and Caitlin. Now, I'd appreciate it if no one would get married for a while, because I feel like it sets me back a month on my fitness every time I go to a wedding or wedding related event.

The pre-wedding ride yesterday. I started with my sling on, but it was too restrictive, so I stashed it in my pocket.

The bull that bucked me off.

Alright, I'm going to have a glass of chocolate milk.