Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chicken Hawk Classic 2010

This past weekend was the Chicken Hawk Classic (Bamacross #2) at Cooper Green Park in Birmingham, AL.

Going into this race and the race before, I've really only had one goal in mind and that's to learn. I'm not entering to set land speed records or see who I can beat. The only person I'm competing against is myself. Maybe if I was actually fit enough to compete, I would have a different attitude but I'm nowhere near fit.

Bamacross #1 was on the same course and boy did I eat a piece of humble pie, along with the 4 inches of dust on my teeth. Long story short, I pushed my body into an asthmatic state (throat closing) and puked about the second lap, so, it was survival mode from there to the finish (one more lap). Plus, I started in the very back of the pack, finishing 3 of 4 laps on paper but continued pushing to complete my 4 laps. Basically, riding in a race.

Fast forward to the Chicken Hawk Classic (Bamacross #2) and the main goals were to get a better start, which I did, and not puke, which I saved for after the race.

So, before we took off the race official dude said that it would only be 3 laps. What would any normal racer do? Prepare and push for 3 laps.

We're off and I'm hanging in the top 15 but I just can't seem to get a handle on the run-ups. They just kill the energy, which is the whole intent. I was constantly on the edge of puking the whole time, so, I kept the pace moderate again, surviving til the end.

What I thought was the end (3 laps), from what I'm told, was not the end (4 laps). So, I finished my 3 laps and since no one informed me otherwise, I headed to the car to not puke in front of everyone. Yeah, I'm considerate like that.

Not that I was killing it enough to really care about my placement but come on, tell a brotha'. "Hey man, I know you're about to puke your guts up but you have one more lap." "Thanks man, I deposit my thoughts on the back side of the course." - Justin

I think it took me more time to recover than my whole race effort, ha. I was pretty jacked up. I guess when you're racing totally anaerobic, it helps to train anaerobic.

All in all it was good times and fun was had by all. Hopefully there's a course in the series that I can do halfway decent. I'll know how to prepare for next year though! At least, that's what I keep telling myself

This is a sick and twisted sport, cyclocross is, and I guess I keyed in on the sick, hoping to get twisted.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Let's get it started!

Last year at this time I was logging run miles to complete the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, TN. Running a marathon was always on my "life goals" list. I completed that endeavor with a result that was not what I really wanted but the ultimate goal was to say that I finished it.

Well, this year, I really haven't raced as much as I would like and so I've shed the road bike for a cross bike. Although the temps will be the same (25 degrees at the marathon start) but I now a bike, sand, mud, water, grass and sweat will all collide in this new challenge called Cyclocross.

My new Trek XO1 platinum should arrive at Cahaba Cycles tomorrow and I have to say I'm pretty excited about this new challenge. If you don't know what cyclocross is, here is a sample.

You'll also notice that I've officially changed the name of the blog. This is an effort to challenge myself in writing about things other than cycling. This might include rants, opinions, cycling, business or just whatever happens between the grinds. I love some coffee, so, it might be a coffee review. Who knows. I'd like for it to be a melting pot of topics. One thing you might not see is politics.

That's about all I have for now, just wanted to get the wheels rolling and start blogging again. Hope it's of some value to someone.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review: SPIbelt Water Bottle and Holder Combo

I think it's the cyclist coming out in me or just being particular about the equipment that I use but there's one thing that I have to have in the arsenal, a good water bottle.

So, what are my standards for a good water bottle you ask? For me, a water bottle has to be pretty efficient in terms of discharging water. I don't use a water bottle that requires me to squeeze it with all my might to get water and then there's the other end of the spectrum that discharges too much and may cause choking and all that fun stuff.

Well, SPIbelt was so generous to send me their Water Bottle and Holder Combo for review. If you've read my review of the SPIbelt itself, you'll understand that I'm a big fan of their products and not because they send me free stuff but because I'm a designer/amateur athlete and I appreciate creative thinking in product design but lets get to the review.

What are the strengths?

This product is 100% Made in the USA, yes, even the bottle has "Made in USA" stamped on it. With all the outsourcing going on SPIbelt stays true to their roots in Austin, TX.

The product name explains it but this particular water bottle comes with the trademark SPIbelt storage compartment for the storage of :
  • Performance Gels
  • Car Keys
  • Phones
  • Inhalers
As far as the functionality of the combo, I found that I could comfortably fit two Hammer gels (folding the tops) and my car keys in the storage compartment and more importantly the 16 oz water bottle discharges the right amount of water with ease. SPIbelt also incorporated an adjustable, velcro strap that allows for secure hand size variation. So, it's not going to fall out of your hands. Lastly, it displays the sleek, well constructed tradition of SPIbelt products and doesn't scream, "I'm carrying a water bottle!"

What are the weaknesses?

If you take this out on your long run, you might have to find other places to store nutrition or use the SPIbelt and this combo. The storage seems a bit more restricted because of the top and bottom bands that attach it to the water bottle. making it about 1/2" shorter in length than the SPIbelt storage.

Is it comfortable?

It's very comfortable. The 16 oz bottle is not too heavy, where you feel like you're lugging around a huge weight and the elastic construction allows for a smooth customized fit. I guess it's also comforting to know where your keys are at all times, ha!

Where can I buy one?

You can either purchase from the SPIbelt website or through your local dealer.

Overall, this is a great product and I would recommend it to any serious runner looking for a great training tool to add to the arsenal. If you own one and would like to chime in on this review, please leave a comment below.

Train hard, Love harder.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Dirt Truck!

[Photo Credit: joefenstermaker]

I guess to relieve fears of the blog title.....I didn't get smoked by a dirt truck and I hope that would never happen, though it's a sad reality with cell phones these days.

The past few weeks have been heavily involved in getting back on the bike; dodging the cold and rain and hitting every opportunity for a ride over 45 degrees.

Getting back on the bike comes with all the small adjustments that you take for granted when your training in the heat of the season.

Part of that adjustment, for me,  has been riding on the road and hearing the vehicles (18 wheelers or dump trucks) that most road cyclists fear coming from behind, only to feel that blast of wind that almost knocks you off the bike. LOL! I cringe every time I hear the down shifting or that whistling sound. Of course, this fear comes from me riding solo recently. It usually doesn't bother me in a pack because I'm looking up the road and at the wheel in front of me.

I've been hitting up the local YMCA when the wet and cold sets in. My focus in the gym is strictly on my legs and core. Strength is progressing a little but the main adjustment is getting the legs use to that constant, repetitive loading.

Another thing that I'm experimenting with on the bike is leaving the heart rate monitor at home and working from perceived effort alone, for my initial base work. I wanted to feel my way through base this time around. Whether that's smart or not, I'll defer to the peanut gallery. I was too reliant on my monitor last year and it's kinda cool feeling your way through an effort. It seems to make me more in tune with my body and not some number range that's up for debate. I don't have the greenbacks to drop on power training so I have to do what I have to do.

I've yet to review the SPIbelt water bottle and holder because I've yet to go out on any runs. That's going to have to change though because the Xterra Southeast Championship in Pelham, AL is a go. After word of a lack of funding and it not happening, the Xterra crew will be here on June 13th. So, that means running and swimming are involved for me, if I want to add this to the bucket list.

I'm also picking up some Red Bike Coffee today, for review. I'm tinkering with the idea of starting another site for coffee. Initial efforts have been made but we'll see how that turns out. I love some coffee and it's involved in the majority of our morning routines, especially cyclists.

Keep the pedals turning.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Learn or Not to Learn

[ Photo Credit: ukultrarunner ]
This time last year I was stressing out about what training plan I was going to following for 2009 and I was starting a whole new plan of attack on my season. I had never wrote out a training plan or even knew how to for that matter. I pushed on though. This was about learning and not perfection.

I purchased Joe Friel's book, The Cyclist's Training Bible, and started devising a plan. I was pretty intimidated by the whole process and a bit worried if I could even pull off a training plan. What do I do? Do I add a weight lifting program, because some say not to? What is the "right" way to train? Why are there different methods? I had a ton of questions.

Anyways, so I wrote it all down, planned for the races to come and figured out when I was going to "peak" and all, as the book said. I didn't have a clue what it meant to actually "peak" in the physical sense of the word, although I'd heard the term thrown around by the elite level guys.

I built a huge base, relative to casual riding before and it showed early on in local training races. I felt more confident in my decisions to attack and being more than pack fill. Fitness was coming on and then I crashed during one of the training races and took a huge shot to my road psyche. Combine that with the speed wobbling issues later in the season and I just couldn't do the "plan" any justice on the road but stayed consistent on the mountain bike.

So, 2010 for me is all about learning from the mistakes that I made in 2009. Did I do everything right? Absolutely not but I learned. That's what this sport is about, learning and striving to get better in whatever areas you identify as weaknesses.

What areas are you learning and improving on this year?

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