Monday, March 14, 2011

Montana, Skate Skiing, and Racing in Kansas!

This past week was a blur! A good blur! But, it is back to reality of work, family, and trying to train! I was in Montana last week working on a new project with a good friend, Rick Finley. I was the Best Man in his wedding years ago and introduced him to his wife while we were going to school together at The University of Kansas. We have had some Epic rides and races in our day together. It was a long overdue visit out to see him in Helena, MT. He has lived there for 8 years now! Man where does time go?

The photo above is of the Capital Building of Monatana located in Helena. Rick lives about a stones throw away and he lives on the side of a Mountain. Pretty interesting and historic town. The city was a Mining Town and there are all kinds of old beautiful homes with spectacular views. It is situated in a valley. Mountains all around. You cannot get lost, you just have to know what Mountain range is North, South, East and West of the City. For cycling it offers some pretty incredible climbing opportunities and some less challenging loops around the Valley. Pretty optimal for training on a bike most of the year around. The Mountain biking looks pretty incredible too. Too much snow for that at the moment. It is colder hear for sure than in New Mexico. But, when it is cold you go Cross Country Skiing or Downhill Skiing. Either one is fine by me!

We did a first and maybe an only when I was in town. The picture above shows us on our "Skate Ski's". It is a form of Cross Country Skiing in which you push off the ski's much like you are skating. Simple for a guy who grew up on a pair of skates right? WRONG! The first day was pretty brutal for me, a huge learning curve. You do not push off with the ball of your foot when you are trying to move forward as in inline skating. You push off with the middle of your foot with your knee pointed inward. You really work the inside of your thighs and of course your entire lower extremity. We did about 10 miles of skiing my first day. It took close to 2 hrs for this activity! I was spent!

On our 2nd day, I was getting the hang of this thing. We covered about the same distance in about 1.5 hrs. Not bad for a rookie at 6800FT! The altitude did not get me, but going up hill on ski's is a difficult task for a guy from Kansas! We of course could not leave out the bike on this trip. That afternoon, we set the road bikes up and went out for about 1.5 hrs. easy spin. So, 3 hours of training split up between Skate Skiing and cycling. I am not sure when I will have this on my program anytime soon? But, I highly recommend it! The views from the ski's and the bike were spectacular! Definetly was not in Kansas Anymore!

Speaking of Kansas!? I went over to the Spring Fling races this Saturday. I have done 2 road events in about that many years. I have really focused on the Mountain Bike and Cyclocross racing. I raced a ton of Criteriums over the 6 plus years we lived in Tampa, FL. In fact if I still lived their now, the heart of the 1st road season is right now! So, I have the Criterium Skills, but I was thinking I would be a bit rusty. You are also a little nervous when you have not done any real activities at race pace?

My Goal for each race was to finish! The first one on tap was the 35 plus open race. It started off pretty tame. The races are set up as points races. So, during the 15 lap race, they ring a bell at 13, 9, and 5 laps to go. The top 4 earn points for the entire race. You could not win the final Sprint, but still win the race. It keeps you on your toes for sure and the last lap provides 8 places for points deep. I sat out the first 2 sprint laps, just to make sure I was not going to overdue it. The third sprint, I decided to give it a go!? I jumped on Jim Whitaker's wheel around the last corner heading toward the finish line. It was the best idea! Jim pretty much pulled me to the line and about 100 meters to the line, I jumped hard and finished 2nd in that Prime. 3pts!

The rest of the race was about recovering and thinking about the finish. With some confidence and knowing that all of my weight training and riding are really coming together. I thought I might have a shot at taking the final sprint? On the bell lap, I of course searched for Jim's wheel again as was everyone else. Jim has an incredible kick and always has been one of the best sprinters in this area for years! He went a little earlier than I expected and I found myself on his wheel again! This time around the final corner, which was a right hand turn, I could not pedal, but was hanging on like it was a roller coaster. As we headed down the final straight, I hesitated for just a second and then took off for the finish line. I crossed the line in 3rd for the final Sprint. About 1 bike length off of the winner. It was a blast! I ended up in 4th overall concerning the points total, but now I am in good position for the remaining races in this series!

I did the Cat. 4 race and finished 12th. Travis Donn was 6th in his first ever road event. Doesn't surprise me, he is super strong! Jumped in the 3/4 race and pulled out 1/2 the way through. At this point I had done 57 miles of Criterium racing with an average speed of 24.5 mph. I did not see the need in getting hurt. I will definetly be back for a few more of these this year and if all goes well with the my schedule!

It snowed here today and my son has swimming lessons. Might jump on the trainer later for an easy spin, but it has been a busy work day! Back to the bike and the gym tomorrow for sure!Now you know about another day in my Bike Life.

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