Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sea Otter: Ray's training followup

This will be the first in a small series of post Sea Otter Classic blog posts. I'll start with a review of the training I laid out in my previous blog post and then follow with other posts about the Airborne photo shoot with Ian Hylands, the awesome people I had a chance to meet and new experiences courtesy of Sea Otter.

The timing of Sea Otter remained to be tricky as the weather did not permit local mountain bike trails to open until 4/12 which coincidentally was the same day I flew out to Sea Otter. Given that I was the only rider in my age class not from California this really did me no favors. However, riding on the road did provide a nice endurance base, which is why I was able to finish the 20 mile race and not be last, but in race condition, I was not. But I guess, I had no illusions going in that I would be. I did feel like I could ride all day, just not fast necessarily.

The pumptrack as training for climbing: This actually worked a little better than I thought it would. In terms of cardiovascular conditioning, it was great. I was really surprised at how well I felt with my lungs on the Sea Otter XC course which ends in a 3-4 mile climb. Predictably the shortcoming of this strategy was leg strength. While I was breathing well, my legs just didn't have the power to push up hills at a competitive speed.

Jumping on a 29er without the benefit of much previous trail riding was tough. It could not really be duplicated by riding a 29er on wood at Ray's. I'll get more into my 29er experience in a later post, but let's just say it certainly didn't feel natural to jump on a 29er and race. I don't mean that to sound negative, I just don't have a feel for it yet. My Airborne Goblin is suppose to arrive later this afternoon and I plan on logging as many miles as possible as soon as the trails dry up. So stay tuned for 29er adjustment updates.

Video updates: I just entered a video on the WORS (Wisconsin Off Road Series) Subaru Cup video remix contest. Please, please, please follow the link and leave a comment and/or "like" my video to help increase my chances of winning :) Feel free to watch as many times as possible, too.

I just started cutting the photo shoot footage for the up coming "making of" video for the Ian Hyland/Airborne photo shoot. As I shot a TON of footage, I'm not sure how this video will take to complete, but I'm working on it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Sea Otter challenge

How does one prepare for the Sea Otter Classic XC race? This poses a number of different challenges to a mountain biker that lives in Wisconsin. In this post I'll attempt to come up with creative solutions to these problems. I'll follow up after Sea Otter to let you know the effectiveness of each solution. Let's take a look at the main obstacles.

1. Timing: The Sea Otter Classic takes place on April 14-17. In a normal year that is tough because the earliest mountain biking trails open up in Wisconsin is April 1st. This year is especially is especially bad because of uncooperative weather that is not allowing the trails to dry out. We will be lucky if the trails even open before Sea Otter.

2. Climbing: What the XC course at Sea Otter lacks in interesting and fun singletrack, it makes up for in climbing. Coming from Wisconsin this is a major training challenge because there are no mountains. The land is much flatter than California.

3. Unfamiliar wheel size: This year I'll be using a demo of one of the new Airborne 29ers at Sea Otter. I don't currently own a 29er and have very limited experience riding them. Just jumping on one and racing could be interesting.

In formulating a solution to problem one I was forced to consider my least favorite bike option: road riding. So when the weather has not been craptastic, I've headed out on the road bike in an attempt to log as many miles as possible on a given ride. I know this is the only way I can actually get true saddle time. In each of my rides I'm trying to exceed at least 25 miles so if nothing else, I have a solid endurance base.

Having the new Milwaukee Ray's MTB close by has been beneficial as well. While I don't count it as true saddle time (as you really are not pedaling much) I think there is something to be said about just constantly riding all winter and how it relates to maintaining a certain fitness level.

Speaking of Ray's I'm finding a really interesting solution to my second problem there. One word: pumptrack. Normally the habitat of the freerider or dirtjumper, I noticed a few months ago that when you attempt to a number of consecutive laps at a fast pace your heart rate continuously rises. Aerobically it feels very much like climbing a hill to me.

Since then I've been doing 5-10 hard sets of 5-7 laps each almost every time I ride at Ray's. Obviously it's not exactly the same as cranking up a hill on a 29er, but I feel the same after a set of laps on the pumptrack as I do after finishing a rep on the "Uphill Grind" Spinnerval video I have in the basement. The main difference is one way is much more fun than the other.

Problem 3: concerning 29ers. I consider this the least of my problems do to the nontechnical nature of the Sea Otter XC course. Nonetheless, I think it will be beneficial to at least be familiar with the handling characteristics of a bike that is so popular (for better or for worse, but that's another post) these days.

I find my answer at Ray's again. Right now, anyone can go to Ray's and demo a Trek mountain bike. Among those bikes is a Trek Gary Fisher collection Superfly 29er. While the Superfly is a full suspension 29er with the funky Gary Fisher handlebars, I've been able to get a feel for how a 29er handles. And since I won't be seeing anything that compares to the technical challenge of Ray's on the Sea Otter XC course, I think this will suffice.

This is not intended to plan for the professional rider and there is nothing scientific about it. It's not really suppose to be a training plan at all. Rather it is intended to offer fun alternatives to those looking to minimize the non fun aspects of training.

Video update: the video documenting the Airborne Wingman's "Hayesing" has been mostly completed and can be viewed here. The video may become part of Hayes Bicycle Group's new "Hayesed" ad campaign where in a subject's bike is switched over to all Hayes components. That includes Hayes, Manitou, Sun Ringle and Answer products. Now quit reading and watching biking relating videos and get out and ride!