Jul 8, 2010

This Must Be The Place

After a longer than expected absence from any significant time on the bike, my lower back has finally allowed a return to the normally scheduled training. Lake Placid has been scratched off the race calendar for this year, so I've turned my attention to a few other later season events to compensate.

I left the Bay area in early 2008 and haven't had many opportunities to return since. This past holiday weekend turned into the perfect excuse to revisit some of my favorite training grounds near south San Jose. It was impossible to fit in all the miles of bike climbs and trail running, but I simply see that as a challenge (an invitation) to plan more frequent "train-cations" as they're fondly referred to.

Friday's ride - Los Gatos to Hwy 9 / down to Big Basin State Park and over to Boulder Creek / Bear Creek Rd to Skyline and back down Hwy 9

Sunday run through the Quicksilver Park - had to follow my favorite route over the New Almaden trail.
Starting off with the nice uphill climb on the fire road.
Quickly changing to single track for the remainder of the run.
Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop to look around once in awhile - you could miss it.
My sad little camera doesn't do this scene any justice. Highly recommend that you just go experience it for yourself.

Happy trails -


May 17, 2010

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Visiting family and lending a hand at the FL 70.3 event this past weekend. No excuses to forego training, only limiting factor was the lack of decent cycling routes. Swimming and running didn't pose an issue. Out of desperation I enlisted the help of Map My Ride, surely I wouldn't be led astray by a fellow cyclist who took the time to post a route on this website. Please grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage and witness for yourself this awe insipring photo tour of my weekend ride in central Florida. Cheers

My borrowed ride, who knew that mid 90's cycling technology was so advanced? With the exception of the rear wheel being out of true it was a solid ride, can't complain when you're in a pinch and need to log some miles.

The first 8 or 10 miles weren't too bad, road conditions were fine and lighter traffic meant that a limited shoulder wasn't much to be concerned with. I was vaguely familiar with that stretch anyway, more than I could say for the next 30 or 40 miles of road I would encounter.

Notice what's missing from this seemingly fresh paved section of road? I'm not sure if this was better than the previous 20 minutes worth of suffering on uncompleted road construction which afforded a few inches of shoulder covered in crushed gravel and pebbles?

My personal favorite of the day, and yes I was still following the route obtained from Map My Ride. Nothing against that website or the person who posted that route, I just found it incredibly amusing (regardless of any personal danger it presented).

I eventually turned off and happened to merge with a charity benefit ride in progress, a double edged sword to be sure. Large group rides typically produce more alert drivers, but that also means having to contend with the cyclists which can be a tad dangerous in its' own right. Mr. Penny Farthing rider was the only photo worthy participant of the group that I passed. Kudos to you Sir.

The group ride turns off, I continue riding along according to the map. Paved road turns into narrowing crumbly road, where upon chunks of brick begin to appear embedded in the pavement. Now riding on a single lane brick road - awesome. Don't be fooled by the photo, I snapped this shot just seconds after riding past a house marked off with yellow police tape in the front yard (seriously).

Within moments I turned back onto the main road and was in sight of familiar streets, the loop was completed and I was headed for home. Funny how we can sometimes classify this type of ride as being both a "worst" and "best" - here's to hoping for many more days just like this one.


May 4, 2010

Train In Vain

2010 Wildflower Race Report.

High hopes of working in a solid 3 week training block between CA 70.3 and Wildflower never quite materialized, much to my dismay. Among the roadblocks encountered were the completion of moving into a new residence, a mystery pain in the right knee which cropped up just prior to CA 70.3, and just for good measure we tossed in a 5 day photo shoot for work which allowed for a whopping 4 hours (total) time devoted to training.

Doubts were quickly mounting, but it was Wildflower and if I was physically able then I'd give it my best shot.

Plain and simple - I need to learn how to swim. Time lost in the water is now a major limiting factor in my results. I'll make an honest attempt to jump in with the Masters group over the next several weeks. Beyond the usual frustration of being sandwiched or cutoff in the swim, it was just another day at the races with few details to note.
Swim split - 32:05

Let the fun begin ....

Starting in the earlier waves is a huge luxury (unlike that Forrest Gump box of chocolates - you always know what you're going to get at WF). i.e. the start waves never change from year to year. Rolling hills, false flats, dicey road surfaces and a notoriously cruel climb all make for a great little warm up that rewards patience and proper pacing. Having opted to race without the use an HR monitor I went totally old school, based solely on feel and instinct (knowing the course also provides a huge benefit). It was the typical exchanging of places in the early miles, the legs felt flat on the climbs but solid on every other section. I had the most memorable climb ever up Nasty Grade thanks to the recurring squeaks which followed closely behind the ENTIRE way up that hill ("El Goibar" was applying serious torque to the cranks which produced three consecutive squeaks followed by a 2 beat rest ). I dropped him on the descent and never heard from him again. Fell off the pace in the closing miles, still managed to ride right where I had anticipated.
Bike split - 2:40:30

Headed into T2 with a few other guys in my AG, must have beat them out as I never saw them after that. Slowly started to gain some ground and reel people in. Spotted Nick around the lake near mile 3 and he was kind enough to offer encouragement as we were cresting the top of the hills (in spite of having to deal with his own stomach issues). Saw him again on the mile 10 out and back and he was doing fine at that point. Ran down a few more guys in my AG and struggled through from mile 11 - 12, toughest point of my race. I was informed at the mile 12 mark that there was 1 guy making up ground, not what I wanted to hear. Bombed down Lynch Hill and starting picking up the pace as soon as it leveled out, hit the "s" turn and took a glance over my shoulder to gauge how much of a lead I had. Not enough, I starting sprinting and hoped it would deter any challenge. One final look back and there was no chance he would pip me on the line.
Run split - 1:31:15
Overall time - 4:47:52

And yet another epic Wildflower experience is in the books.


Apr 7, 2010

Rhythm Of Time

After a 5 month reprieve, we have once again been given the green light to start riding long on the weekends. Unfortunately all members of our normal riding crew had other obligations, or were simply out of commission this past Sunday (opening season of the Henshaw loop). This left just Ian and I to tackle the roads and thankfully the plan had called to ride at a moderate pace.

Rolling through the Orange groves that precede a nice little climb over to Ramona. Plenty of greenery this time of year, a few late season showers have helped to add some color to the otherwise normally brownish palette which covers the landscape.

Me following Green Lantern all day. Guess that makes me the Lanterne rouge !?!

Always a welcome sight, descending to the next feed zone. For as many times as I've ridden this route, I have never once indulged in the famed "Julian Pie Co." baked goods. This proverbial "carrot on a stick" is turning into a real tease I'm afraid.

Last worthwhile photo of the ride, started to bonk as we climbed out of Rincon, before I knew it Green Lantern was out of his saddle on the final speed bump and created a massive gap, my free ride was over.

Rolling back into Carlsbad it dawned on me that today was Easter, rode past an Elementary school that was hosting an egg hunt. This sparked a momentary flashback, being an adolescent and eating chocolate on Easter Sunday. I never would have imagined that 20 odd years later this holiday would amount to clicking off a 100+ mile bike ride in the back country of San Diego. Time and perception.


Mar 29, 2010

Obstacle 1

The 2010 Tri season has officially begun here on the left coast. Oceanside 70.3 typically draws a stellar pro and amateur field with hopes of grabbing an early season Kona slot, this year was no exception. Unfortunately my ambitions were set a little lower, ultimately this race served as the early season test of fitness and to remind the body what sort of an effort is required to be competitive. Personal results aside, this event is always a major highlight of the race season (most likely a tie with Wildflower), the course, friends and colleagues, and more spectathletes than you can shake a Saltstick at all equate to one of the most anticipated weekends of the year.

By early Monday morning (5 days prior to the race) our office was buzzing was activity, final preparations being made for the race expo and demo, athlete gear and race kits being pulled together, industry personnel were given the tour of our most recent dwellings. Outside of Kona, Oceanside always seems to generate the most hype in our office (beside the Spring sales meeting) but that's more like apples to oranges anyway. We also hosted a celebrity guest for a week long home stay while the traveling circus was in town. Of special note were 2 amazing athletes that would both be making their debut in the Pro ranks - Charisa and Ian, kind of a big deal in our world, words can't really measure how excited I was for these 2 speedsters!!!

Saturday morning rolled around in the blink of an eye as the previous day was an absolute blur in my memory. Here are a few of the highlights and lowlights of my race :

- first time ever that a racer in my AG suggested I should rack my bike further down the line where more space was available (trust me, there's plenty of space available when you do the math and realize that X number of bikes need to fit onto Y number of racks). "Inconveivable"
- Dead last wave start, I need to consider purchasing a hand held number counter click device. Never passed on the bike but I suspect that's simply an indication of my swimming ability (or current lack thereof).
- Bike felt solid for being the first race of the year, in hindsight I should have pushed harder but lesson learned for next time.

- Very happy not to see any blatant drafting, still a bit irked by the folks who refuse to make a pass and then fail to move right. Riding two abreast and conversing is also not highly regarded. Maybe I'm being picky, just calling 'em like I see it.
- Nutrition plan worked well, no excuses not to have it dialed by this point.
- Sockless racing will require new cycling shoes - ankle has been shredded for the last time.
- A tad windy on the backside of the bike, felt like a tumbleweed while descending the hill shown above. Nice tailwind for the return back into T2.
- Legs felt about average on the run, tons of support from all the local superfans (hats off to all who made it out that morning).
- Grabbed an entry for IMUSA, will be my first visit back to the motherland in about 16 years!
- Post race bash at the Wernick Resort with all of the usual suspects, perfect way to cap off the season opener.

Time splits for the day were 32:18 / 2:31:05 / 1:26:23 => 4:34:51

Next up - Wildflower Long Course


Mar 7, 2010

Vanishing Point

Part 2 of our factory visits had us departing Taipei early Thursday morning and into Macau for an 11am meeting. I won't comment in depth on any specific work issues except to say it was a productive visit and (just like every year at this time) we're cranking to fix any issues with the Spring '11 samples. Just another day at the office really.

I'll admit that I wasn't too thrilled about this latest trip to Asia (for no particular reason). On the day that our flight was scheduled to leave I decided there was no point in being a stick in the mud about it, I'd do my best to embrace this opportunity and be thankful that I have a job which affords this privilege. Macau actually offers some decent running routes, honestly it's one of the more interesting places in Asia that I've been able to explore on foot. Do a quick Wikipedia search for the history of Macau. I was baffled on my first visit to see as much colonial Portuguese architecture as I did. Today Macau is more or less the Las Vegas of Asia (in just about every way you could imagine) minus the fact that there are still a few remaining apparel factories and businesses not related to the Gaming and Casino industry. It's an odd juxtaposition traveling here for business while most everyone else is visiting for pleasure and debauchery (although I have yet to see a billboard or television ad which touts "what happens in Macau stays in Macau") - but I suspect it will crop up sooner or later.

Onto the photo tour, first morning in town running at dawn. Unfortunately it was too foggy on day #2 (too bad because my running route would have provided some impressive sights).

Forgot the name of this structure so I'm simply dubbing it the "Space Needle of Macau"

From the top of the bridge I crossed to take the photo above, you're able to view a colonial church built on a hillside. I believe that structure dates back to the 1500's and it made me pause to think about what those first Portuguese explorers must have seen when they stepped on that island. Their architectural and cultural footprints remain today. It was quite a sobering image to look back at the buildings which now dominate the landscape.

This was the only photo I took on my 2nd day of running.

I nearly ran right past this house but stopped dead in my tracks when I came to my senses. There was a matching relief sculpture on the opposite side of the front door to this house. There they were, two houses built one across from the other, straight out of the late 20's / early 30's. I'm a total sucker for Machine Age design and Art Deco architecture. Very much looking forward to future running excursions in Macau, always amazed at what you can find in some of the most unassuming places.

Later that day I was on a plane and headed back to not-so-sunny San Diego. So glad to be back home, always return with a new appreciation for even the most mundane details of daily life that we seem to take for granted.


Feb 24, 2010

I'm Happy Anyway

Sunday February 21 - appox . 10:30pm local time - cueing up to board my 13 hour flight to Taipei (I've lost count of how many times I've made this journey, must be over 20 by now). Reading materials, check. iPod, check. Food and beverage to last the duration of the flight, check. Extra hoodie to combat the inevitable Arctic Chill setting of the airline A/C, check. Exit row seating - Score! Infant baby 5 seats away - only potential red flag in sight (patience is a virtue and I can outlast any crying infants until they zonk out from sheer exhaustion.

Tuesday February 23 - approx 5:30am local time - luggage pickup and hotel shuttle, minimal sleep on the plane isn't a big concern. Our first meeting is at 10:00am and we'll finish by early afternoon. First order of business was a swim at the pool - rooftop setting, 15 meters if I was lucky. I'm a tad zoned out as I walk past the ever crucial water quality stats. My mind was oblivious to the temperature conversion that it had just failed to perform.

WTF ! ! ! I know that I'm a complete sissy when it comes to long swims in cold water, but who in their right mind sets this pool at nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit ? Note, there are lane lines which would suggest the potential for lap swimming.

30 minutes later my lungs are on fire and every muscle in my body has turned to jelly (jelly that's been sitting on the kitchen counter top for 5 hours because you neglected to put it back in the fridge immediately after use). Oh well, enjoyed the view and scenery. Of particular interest was the fact that I could see a vast blue sky (a rare occurrence to be sure), especially this time of year.

We capped off the meeting with a late lunch at Din Tai Fung (absolute steamed dumpling heaven), no doubt an impossible act to follow for all future meals during this visit now. A solid nights sleep and the early bird grabs the first available tread mill in the hotel dungeon (yawn). Better than nothing I guess. An uneventful and long day only meant an early morning flight over to Macau the next day.