Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rockwall Criteriums

If you missed the recap of day 1 of our epic weekend then follow the link to read all about our experience at the Hot Rocks Bike Ride.  Fair warning about day 2 though ..... it's a long one.

The Beginning
Day 2 of our epic weekend didn't exactly start as planned.  The first event on the agenda was a 10k for Angelia at the Hottest Half & 10k.  This was a big event for her but she elected to skip it.  Why?  Well, here's a clue .... when she got out of bed and made her way to the kitchen she was wearing sunglasses.  Not a good sign.  She had a wicked headache and every sight and sound meant pain.

While the 10k was a lost cause, the rest of the family still had the Rockwall Criteriums to look forward to.  The itinerary included my first ever race at 10:55am (35+ 4/5), the Kids Showdown at 12:20pm for the boys, and another race for me at 3:30pm (4/5).  Have you ever tried to prepare yourself for a race while trying to keep two hyperactive boys from screaming constantly, and thereby adding to your wife's pounding headache?  Not easy.  In fact, I failed miserably at managing the situation.  The one smart move was enlisting the help of my dad as Angelia still wanted to watch me race and the boys needed to get there with their bikes.

Men 35+ Cat 4/5
Unfortunately, I got ready a bit later than planned, took a big longer to get my number and pin it than planned, and before I knew it I had practically no time to get warmed up.  Ideally for a short intense race like a crit you want a nice long warm-up.  Instead I rolled up to the line in the back of the pack with only several minutes in my legs.

Don't bother looking for me.  I'm in the back.
Once we started I thought I'd probably be ok.  Sure, the pace was quick and I was at the back of the pack but it didn't feel insane.  I played it a little too cautiously on a couple turns and 2 laps in, I was off the back.  At that point the wind became a factor and I just couldn't close the gap.  There were 3 of us popped off and we managed to hook up.  I spotted the pack at one point and realized this was going to be very short lived at our current pace.  I wanted to make something out of this race so I started thinking about where to put in an effort and distance myself from the other 2 riders.  I sat 3rd wheel after turn 1, drank a bit of Heed, and caught my breath for a bit.  Just before turn 3 I broke to the left and took the turn a bit wider putting me in a sheltered position from the NE wind.  That little relief allowed me to crank the cadence up and clear both riders in time to take an aggressive line on turn 4.  I got out of the saddle for part of the frontstretch to make sure the gap stuck.  I felt really good about this - it kept the race from feeling like a total waste.

Taking a short pull before recovering and
finally dropping these 2 guys for good.
A couple laps later the scooter was coming up on me and I knew I was about to be swallowed by the pack.  I kept the effort up the best I could including a leg-searing out of saddle effort up the hill.  I remember thinking, "Well, that's a new kind of burn."  I staved off my demise by more than a lap finally succumbing on turn 2 of lap 8.  I pulled off at the completion of that lap because I didn't see the point of killing myself for another 20 minutes in the heat when I was going to do another race in the afternoon.  With the way the morning had been, I thought it best to take what little opportunity I had to reset my brain, rest a little, and come into the 2nd race better prepared.  In the end, I was disappointed to be lapped only 20min in but was glad I salvaged part of it with 2 efforts in particular - my planned move to drop the other 2 stragglers and giving it that one last shot to hold off being lapped.

Kids Showdown
After watching the Womens Cat 4 and Juniors Cat 4/5 race that occurred after mine, it was time for the Kids Showdown!  The event was changed up a bit at the last minute and both the big and little kids did 1 lap of the mile long loop.  For the big kids, this was shortened from the expected 2 laps.  For the little ones it was suddenly much more challenging than the 1/4 lap they've done in the past.  This race story is best told in pictures:
Julian gets caught in a chaotic start. Lining up the little ones.
Looking like a future cyclist.
Julian challenges for 2nd at the finish. Connor up the final hill in a clear 2nd place.
First cycling medal! 3rd for Julian and 2nd for Connor

Mens 4/5
After the kids were done we loaded up and went home (a whopping 1-1/2mi away).  Sitting in the air conditioning with a little food and a chance to dry out my race kit were all beneficial.  I pulled out on time and got a better warmup than in the morning.

Unfortunately the race wasn't much different.  I did stick with the pack a little longer but it wasn't in an efficient manner.  A couple of those laps were spent "tailgunning", getting gapped every straight and closing it each turn.  Eventually I failed to close that gap and it was back to soloing in the wind.  There was no help this time around.  There were others popped off but the gaps remained.  This became a gruelling hot workout and not much more.  Just like in the morning race, I was lapped 20 minutes in.  I tried to hook on to the pack but no such luck - missed the train.  The solo laps were a struggle but eventually I was able to close a gap on another dropped rider that had consistently been 300m in front of me.  It didn't seem like he wanted to work together but he grabbed my wheel and I just couldn't find the energy to shake him.  After a while I started pulling a bit to the side and letting up hoping he'd pull ahead of me.  He would slow as well and made an obvious comment on how totally cooked he was.  Translation:  No way in hell was he pulling.  That bugged me enough that I found the small bit of extra oomph I needed to finally shake him.  By the time the race ended I was 2 laps down.  Heck, I didn't even realize when the race was over!
No-one around me.  Not a good sign.

I was a bit more disappointed in this race.  I thought it would go better than the first one and I was shocked at how slowly I was going towards the end.  I realize that was partially the product of the heat and wind which definitely picked up throughout the race.  In fact, towards the end I had a close call thanks to a swirling wind.  There were 3 of us, all 1 or 2 laps down, and you could see a swirl of leaves to the inside of the course just after turn 2.  That swirling mass of leaves started moving right for us and when it hit, all of our bikes were moved sideways.  The only thing that kept it from being a disaster was we all saw it coming and were able to space out and brace ourselves.

The End
With that, the day's racing was over.  Both boys were happy with their rides and medals.  Connor absolutely loves racing and getting bling.  Julian was a bit bummed about the shaky start and the shortening of the race but was pleased with how he rode, especially the sprint up the final hill.  Meanwhile, I got 2 official races under my belt, albeit with significantly less pack time than I hoped for.  There's a lot of work to be done before my target event in 4 weeks.  Connor gave me a tip that should help me get to the front of the pack though .....

"You know what you need to do better in your next race, Daddy?"
"What do I need?"
Connor rolls up the right leg on his shorts, points to his quad, and proclaims,

Good advice little man.  Good advice.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hot Rocks Bike Ride

Day one of this epic weekend started in a most curious way ...... with rain!  Here we are in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record and on the morning of the Hot Rocks Bike Ride it is nothing but clouds and rain.  This wasn't going to change anything as far as I was concerned but I wasn't sure how Angelia and Julian would handle it.  The long route has a race component to it and thus starts separately from the short route so I didn't see them much once the bikes came off the bike rack.  Below is the story of my ride followed by their experience as it was relayed to me.

My Day - A Tale of Water, Grime, and Riding with Streamers
The start gun fired and I ..... totally missed my pedal as my foot slipped awkwardly off it.  You'd think I had never clipped in before.  Just like that I was watching everyone pull away.  I ended up in a small 7-man group that included one other Rockwall Cycling racer.  It was weird with the weather as your choices were limited to 1) work hard in the wind, or 2) get pelted by grimy water from the wheels in the pack.  We kept it going at a solid pace and eventually shook off 3 of the riders.   The two non-RC riders were a little erratic with their efforts (and drafting).  On one of their unpredictable surges I reacted late and popped off the back.  Soon after I saw the other RC jersey drifting back to me.  I caught up to her and had one of my better efforts on the day as we bridged.  Eventually we were both popped off again 20-something miles in and decided to let them go.

Not the typical sunny day in north Texas
It was at this point the day started throwing little things at me.  The right bar end came off and my bar tape started unraveling.  It looked like I had a long red streamer on my handlebars.  Soon after that I threw my chain.  I got the chain back on quickly and tried to hook up with a pack that was passing but missed the tail end so it was a solo ride to the rest stop about 33mi in.  I planned on this being my only stop and a quick one at that.  I refilled my bottles, hit the portajohn, and re-wrapped the bar.  With no cap I just wrapped it with less overlap and stuffed a large portion in the end hoping it would hold.  I asked the volunteers if anyone had any tape but no luck.  One guy did have a tie-wrap though and I cinched that around the end to keep the tape in place.  While I was doing that, my friend Keith showed up.  Looks like I wouldn't have to finish solo!

We pulled out together and soon were swallowed up by a huge pack - the official pace group.  For awhile it was a nice pace with minimal effort and we just sat in.  By the time we were on the hillier section of the route ("hillier" is a relative term here) it became apparent neither Keith or I were thrilled with the way the group was riding the hills (bomb down but carry none of the pace back up). We decided to stick with them to a particular junction then pull away.  First, I had some other business to tend to .... another red streamer!  I guess the Lizard Skin bar tape and bar end caps just don't like the rain.  My right one is already tie-wrapped down and here I am re-wrapping my left one while going 30+mph downhill.  FYI, the force needed to stuff enough of the tape in the end to hold it is also enough force to turn your bike!  This became an interesting balancing act of pack position, pacing, stuffing the bar end and counteracting it with the opposite hand.  I (and everyone around me) survived so it was back to the game plan.  We made a left hand turn and took the shoulder.  We easily slipped past the pacesetters who had the group on fresh chipseal.  The gap we opened never closed.

Keith and I took turns pulling in the wind but would ride side-by-side in easier sections.  The route had a couple turns towards the end taking us off the I-30 access road and then back to it adding about a mile.  I thought that was a bit strange and am guessing it had to do with bypassing some construction.  In fact, at one point Keith and I had to slow because a construction vehicle pulled out in to the only available lane in front of us.  We crossed the line after 58+ miles feeling pretty good.  Both of our families were standing together at the finish.  If I had known that, I might have sprinted in for fun!
Considering I didn't "race" this course, I felt good about the 20+mph average.

Their Day - A Tale of Mom vs Son vs Random Kid
As we walked towards the post-race refreshments I could tell Angelia and Julian had a different kind of day from mine.  Heck, Julian's jersey was still white!  Mine was nowhere near its original color after nearly 3hrs of rainy riding.  But I knew there would be a story to tell because I sneaked a peek at his bike computer.  It looked to be one of his faster rides - a good sign.

Their course was a familiar 12+mi out-and-back route.  Apparently the out portion was just a typical ride -  Julian wasn't really pushing it and Angelia was ahead.  When she made the turnaround she saw Julian and another kid riding against each other.  She took it easy spinning up a hill to allow them to catch her a bit when ..... bam, they flew by her!  Uh-oh, Momma couldn't get beat by her 9yr old.  It was time to ride!  Julian wanted to use what he's learned and share the workload but the other boy just wanted to keep half-wheeling him as they battled it out.  Angelia had to slow at one intersection and when she was waved through she told the police officer that 2 boys were racing behind her and to make sure they could go right through.  In the end Julian won his battle and both of them felt great about their rides.  All in all, a very good day at the "not so Hot" Rocks.

Stay tuned for the epic weekend day 2 recap when the entire family had races scheduled ......

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Everybody Races

Continuing my current streak of rarely posting .......


Saturday will be a warm-up as Angelia, Julian, and I all ride a local bike rally - Hot Rocks.  They'll be doing the 13.5mi route and I'll be taking on the 57mi.  Last year I cramped badly in both quads about 34mi in so I'm looking for a less miserable experience this year.  Meanwhile, Angelia has challenged Julian to beat her but he doesn't seem to motivated by that.

Julian in his Cheesy Riders jersey
at last year's Kids Showdown
Sunday is a different story.  Angelia will kick things off with a 10k at The Hottest Half & 10k.  This event is held at popular White Rock Lake and is early enough it shouldn't be completely brutal.  Later in the day for the rest of us is the Rockwall Criteriums.  First up will be my first ever bike race, a 40min crit at the Tech Park for the 35+ Cat4/5 field.  Not long after that is the Kids Showdown where the big kids like Julian do 2 laps (about 2mi) and the little ones like Connor do a 1/4 lap.  Julian did this last year and enjoyed it even though it is very brief.  Then, when the sun is at its hottest (and we know it has been HOT) I will have the opportunity to race in another 40min crit as part of the standard Cat 4/5 field!  Yep, first 2 races ever in blazing heat the day after a 57mi bike rally.  Clearly I'm an idiot.  One thing is for certain - surviving this gauntlet will be a good indicator of what I can expect at my goal race, the Cotton Patch Challenge.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Triathlete's Teeth - acidity in sport drinks

Some time ago, posted an article titled "Do Sports Drinks Cause Cavities?"  Working from a perspective of dental hygiene the article touched on something many athletes are somewhat aware of but often ignore --- ph levels in sport drinks.  I soon discovered that many who write about the subject only touch on a single aspect at a time and the lack of knowledge in some areas was startling.  In this case the focus was on how the combination of sugar and acid common in most sports drinks is a ripe environment for tooth decay.  The solution they proposed?  Rinse your mouth with water after workouts and take care of your teeth outside the sports arena.  Ground breaking stuff, huh?  Still, my curiosity was peaked especially since Gatorade was the only sport drink used as a reference ..... not exactly comprehensive.

For those new to the subject of pH balance, here's a quick primer.  The pH scale goes from 0 (acid) to 14 (base) with water being in the middle at 7.  Our blood is slightly alkaline at 7.5 and stomach acid is a 2.  Where does Gatorade fall?  A 2.73, the same as a Coca-Cola.  Yikes!  (NOTE: I didn't single these two products out.  They happen to be the most tested as they lead their respective markets.)

One of my first actions was to find information for my sport drink of choice:  Hammer Heed (melon flavor).  I scoured the Hammer Nutrition site which has tons of nutritional info but not one mention of pH levels.  I emailed their support and got a fairly quick reply with a copy of a response from their Senior Technical Advisor to a similar question in the past.  Here were the key points in the email:
  1. Heed tested at a pH of 7.04, slightly above neutral (towards alkaline).
  2. They believe it tests more neutral due to the lack of refined sugars (Heed favors complex carbs).
  3. They also believe the inclusion of Xylitol plays a role.  What is Xylitol?  The short answer is it severely reduces the likeliness of an acid attack on the tooth enamel as it is not fermented in the metabolism of the offending bacteria.  In fact, when not in an acidic environment it can actually harden the soft, calcium-deficient enamel sites.
Naturally I was glad to find that my drink of choice wasn't acidic but one thing still bothered me ..... they "believe that HEED has a more-neutral pH is because of the lack of refined sugars".  The word "believe" isn't very definitive.  It looks like I'd need to dig deeper into this subject matter.

Ben Greenfield, an Ironman and 2008 Personal Trainer of the Year, has written extensively on this subject.  Most of his writings deal with the extremely common condition of an overly-acidic body during training and competition.  Some of the more interesting quotes:

An over-acidic body reduces the amount of oxygen entering the cells, which accelerates free-radical damage and speeds lactic acid buildup. joint pain and muscle ache An over- acidic body leaches vital acidic-buffering minerals such as magnesium and calcium from bones. These minerals are forced to be redeployed into the blood in an attempt to balance the pH of the body by increasing alkalinity. The depletion of these minerals affects a myriad of body functions that are vital to athletes, including energy, endurance and recovery.

Every living organism on the planet relies upon a pH-balanced state, which is why fish die in acidic water and plants do not grow properly in excessively acidic soil. Athletes and all people are no different—they rely upon a net alkaline state to function properly.

Wow!  All of a sudden we're talking about a lot more than tooth decay.  Drinking acidic, sugary sports drinks leads to depletion of minerals as our bodies attempt a balancing act.  Two minerals are mentioned specifically:  calcium and magnesium.  Turns out there's more than meets the eye when it comes to this pair of minerals.  The typical Western diet puts an emphasis on dairy consumption and calcium supplements yet other cultures with lower calcium intakes have fewer fractures and less prevalent osteoporosis.  Why?  Because the Western diet neglects magnesium and the two are out of balance.  Magnesium is crucial to calcium absorption and utilization.  It also has a big impact on sleep, hydration, metabolic efficiency, oxygen consumption, muscle function, and even heart rate.  In fact, Greenfield calls magnesium "the single most important mineral in sports nutrition."  Going back to my Hammer Heed, I was pleased to find 5% daily value of calcium balanced with 6% daily value of magnesium (coincidentally about a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium).  I have yet to come across a sport drink or gel that doesn't include both minerals but the ratios vary wildly.  Where you need to be extra careful is when using supplements or other methods for getting calcium (such as Tums) as they often do NOT include the requisite magnesium for proper absorption and utilization.

In summary, watch out for too many simple sugars and imbalanced electrolytes that can lead not only to excessive tooth decay, but also a condition of over-acidity that will negatively impact your energy levels, endurance, and recovery.  What's in your sport drink, electrolyte tab, gel or chew?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ramping It Up

Wow, it's been nearly a week since I last posted that I was going to take on my first bike race.  You probably didn't even notice as the week has been filled with excellent recaps from all the rock stars that completed Ironman Lake Placid (Congrats Jon, Mandy, and Jill!) ..... oh, and some post about rampant obesity that's generated a lot of buzz.  Anyway, if I'm not posting every few days then it means one of two things - either I'm in a funk, or I'm ramping up the training.  In this case, it is the latter.

Committing to a 58mi road race is a big deal.  Sure, I've ridden the distance many times.  Heck, some of those were even at a fairly strong pace ...... but it was never a race.  Racing changes everything, and not just the pace and group dynamics.  I need to rehearse my hydration/nutrition.  Do I carry a bunch of bottles or do I make use of the feed zone?  That's just one of many questions I'll need to answer before arriving at the start line.  From a training perspective, my body has been tuned to handle steady-state efforts.  That needs to change.  Handling the surges of the pack and recovering are the key.  With each group ride I show improvement but it is a definite work in progress.

The elevation profile for the local hill route, one of many critical training workouts for me.

My training plan with the Cotton Patch Challenge squarely in the cross-hairs has gotten off to a solid start.  I'll be riding 6 days a week with 1 day of rest (usually Thursday).  This week sees things like threshold intervals, the "hill route" (see above), form sprints, and the "race pace" group ride with Rockwall Cycling.  Next week has things like a tempo ride, cadence intervals, threshold intervals, the local Hot Rocks Bike Rally, and the Rockwall Criteriums.  Whoa, whoa, whoa ...... back that up a second ...... Rockwall Criteriums?!?!?  Yep.  My coach put this fabulous nugget on Training Peaks:

He knew it would get a reaction and it did.  I'm conflicted a bit on it.  I can think of a million reasons to NOT do it:
  1. It's in less than 2 weeks.
  2. It's the day after the Hot Rocks rally, a ride I cramped on severely last year.
  3. It's at the site of my worst road bike crash.
  4. It will be in the heat of the day (likely between 100 and 115 degrees).
  5. It's in less than 2 weeks!!!
Of course there are reasons to go ahead and tackle it:
  1. It's an easy course.
  2. It's a course I'm very familiar with (the Tech Park).
  3. The heat will likely thin the field.

In the end, I think how I feel after the rally will be the driving factor which means I likely won't pre-register and instead decide then.  Regardless, it will definitely keep me focused when I tackle my form sprints at the Tech Park this week!

What if I surprise myself and enjoy crit racing?  Does that expand the scope of my target event?  After all, the Cotton Patch Challenge offers more than a road race --- it has the Omnium which is basically a 2-day 3-stage race with the road race and a time trial on Saturday followed by a criterium on Sunday.  Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes

In just under 8 weeks I will be lining up for the Cotton Patch Challenge - not the 100k rally like I did last year, but the road race!  This will mark my first foray into the world of bike racing ..... and it's a bit nerve-wracking.  I know most of this blog's followers are triathletes or runners so this statement may come as a shock - "Finishing is not an accomplishment."  Shocking, huh?  That simple statement illustrates the difference between a running race and a cycling race.  When it comes to a bike race there is no glory in simply finishing.  The goal is to WIN (or at a minimum to influence the outcome).  That puts a completely different spin on the mental approach.

When in doubt, Jens says you should attack.
I'm no fool.  I know that the vast majority of first time racers get dropped by the pack and end up finishing solo (that is, if they aren't pulled off the course for a DNF).  So would I be happy with surviving the 58 miles incident-free and crossing the line with the peloton?  Sure.  After all, the most common goals for new racers are 1) Don't crash, and 2) Don't get dropped.  Notice something about both of those goals?  They're both negative and defensive.  Take that approach and you are toast.  I don't want to crash or get dropped but I sure as heck don't want to spend a few hours just desperately trying to "hang on".  I can do that at a rally or the weekend group ride.  Instead, I will arrive at that starting line with a plan for when and where to ATTACK.  I may or may not ever get the opportunity to execute that plan but I will be prepared and I will be looking for the opportunity.  That, you can be certain of.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tour de Cure

Last Saturday the family did the Tour de Cure, a rally supporting the American Diabetes Association.  Angelia and Julian were taking on the 32mi route while I went for the full 64mi route.  The start/finish was at Texas Motor Speedway (yep, we've raced there before at the Texas Motor Speedway Duathlon).  It's a fair drive for us but worth it for the early 7am start.  After all, it's been hot in Texas.  How hot?  I could tell you how many consecutive triple-digit days we've had but this paints a clearer picture ..... the other night my youngest complained that the shower water was too warm ...... I had it on cold.  This time of year we don't get hot and cold running water, we get hot and not quite as hot.  Yes, refrigerating your hydration overnight is important.

When we arrived the first order of business was to hit the restroom.  One nice thing about the event being held at the racetrack is you get full shower & toilet facilities instead of porta-potties.  However, it was still early and the lights weren't on.  Inside there'd be an occasional eerie glow from a cell phone but otherwise it was pitch black.  Navigating public restrooms in pitch blackness is a bit of an odd scenario.  You can't exactly feel your way around!  This is further complicated when you're in cycling bibs which can produce bathroom challenges of their own.

We got our bikes set up and Angelia went to get our event shirts which for some reason were not available at the early packet pickups.  No sooner did she get to the end of the parking lot than she turned around.  Flat tire!  Neither of us brought multiple tubes so before the rally had even started, she had used her one spare tube.  The tire change also meant we were running a bit behind and needed to hustle.  We made it to the line on time, even nudging our way up towards the front where our fellow Cheesy Riders had gathered.  We listened to the national anthem and we're off!

The Ride
The ride starts with a loop around the track.  They keep you down on the apron through the turns but you can get up on the banking in the straightaways.  It's kind of a cool way to start a rally.  After completing a lap you turn back through the start line in the opposite direction.  As I made the turn I waved at Angelia and Julian.  Little did I know that mere moments later Julian would come to a sudden stop and Angelia unable to unclip would take a tumble.  She banged her knee pretty good and was concerned about her ability to continue.  Of course, I was long gone by this point so if she didn't continue then Julian would miss out on his ride too.  So she forged ahead.

Ang & Julian - a Tale of Two Rides
On the out portion of the route, Julian was riding ahead at a reasonable pace.  Angelia was fighting her knee but keeping him in sight.  She said that there was a lot of "single leg" pedaling with her right doing all the real work and the left being just along for the ride.  Things changed once they hit the rest stop at the turnaround point though.  Julian had been doing well on his hydration but neglected taking in any calories.  This combined with the headwind on the return route made for a slower boy ..... and suddenly mommy was flying by him.  In the end they had a solid 32mi ride which beat Julian's previous long by a couple miles.

Chris - a Tale of Ugh
My goal on this ride was to stick with the lead pack and be self-sufficient (no rest stops).  I had 3 bottles and an assortment of nutrition options.  Unfortunately, the initial lap around TMS stretched the field and made it tough for packs to form after exiting through the single lane tunnel.  A couple miles in I hooked up with a small group and did my first ever echelon as the crosswinds were significant.  It was a fight for me to stay with them and I got gapped (more like dropped) at the 16mi mark.  Not good.  One bright spot was I did some of my best time-trialing for the next 4mi trying to close (and I did .... a little).  In fact, this was my fastest stretch on the entire ride (by FAR) even though I was solo at the time.  I was closing on them when my Garmin alerted me I was off course.  I turned around and took it a bit easier hoping the group would realize their error and soon catch up to me.  It never happened but a larger, faster group came by.  I hooked on with them to the turnaround point for our route.  Surprisingly they stopped here so I scrapped my initial plan and took a moment too.

I hit the porta-john, had a half-banana, and began to wonder how long the pack was stopping.  It was longer than I planned on so I took off as a solo rider.  Eight miles later, at the 40mi mark, they caught me.  We were flying along on some challenging terrain (horrible roads, headwind, and 7% grades) until I dropped my chain. Say goodbye to that group. Other than briefly hooking up with a group of 4 for some wind relief, the remainder was a solo effort.  Then, at the 60mi mark my right knee went.  The quads and hamstrings had both shown the early signs of giving out but the knee was sudden.  The pain was sharp just above the knee on the inside.  With only 4mi to go I kept pushing forward and soon discovered it only bugged me on climbs.  I was perfectly fine on the flats.  Overall the ride was just brutal roads with wind and a few more climbs than I expected.  In fact I disliked the route so much I have no plans of ever riding that one again.

When I crossed the line, Angelia and Julian were already eating and relaxing under a canopy.  The rally had all the usual stuff with food, music, and massages.  I thought it strange they only had chair massages though.  This is a cycling event people .... table massages are needed to work the quads and hammies!

I should mention that both Angelia's knee and my knee ended up being fine after a couple days of rest and ice.  No long term ill effects here.  We both ran successfully yesterday, and this morning I even did my hill route so if it was going to flare up I gave it plenty of opportunity.

Stay tuned for my next post when I explain why I was so determined to finish with the lead pack ..... any guesses?