“Steambust” Gravel – Unfinished Business in the High Colorado Furnace

TLDR: So here’s the not so long of it – I “dnf’d” at my “A” race. Finishing only 58/100 miles. Beautiful scenery, bitter disappoint and friendships old and new…

My post from that day kinda sums it up:

It’s now 96 hours later and I am so ready to NOT rehash the whole story of woe. Instead, I thought I’d do my top 5 highlights, the top 3 things I am proud of, and the things I learned. There are no top five lowlights, there is just one, and you saw it above! So let’s get to it

Top 5 Weekend Highlights –

Highlight 5: The whole event;

It is awesome. The expo, the vibe, the staff and the course. (Only small complaint was late start time for the 100 miler, 9 am, really???) Here I am at the start of the race, that’s as good as that got for me 🙂

Highlight 4: The people you know, meet and see:.

Top Row From Left to right: Dave M, my b-school classmate. Dave, me and Dave’s old buddies Joe and Gary at camp before the race, great hanging and riding with you guys!. Me and Menlo Park Neighbor Sam, owner and founder of Speedhound, great to meet you, let’s ride sometime!

Bottom Row: Me with Willie the Weiner Dog with owner and 3rd place men’s finisher Alexey Vermeulen and my coach and friend Ruben Bacon in center. Fanboy pic of Winner Keegan Swenson, superstar and 3rd place women’s finisher Flavia Parks, a neighbor kinda from Pleasanton. Reggie Miller out of picture but there.

Highlight 3 – Hanging with Dave

So awesome to have a weekend to chat and reconnect with my good friend Dave. He was an amazing host in Denver, along with his wife Dana who is equally awesome, and he wired the camping process and supply from end to end. THANKS SO MUCH!!! Here’s a shot on the road the next day (see highlight 1)

Highlight 2 – Dave and Joe’s Race Day Finishes

As I lagged on the course, the texts from Dave showed me he was having a great day. Essentially riding at my race pace goal, while I was lagging behind struggling. Dave did amazing, here’s his results from the site:

And Joe did pretty well himself, finishing his first ever 100 miler (and he says last :)) in under 8 hours.

So happy for both of these guys. You killed it! And all of you were very chill with me after when I was feeling pretty low. (Gary was not riding the race btw, and did the Rabbit Ears pass ride solo, or as Dave insists did a Rabbit Ear, I don’t get it though) Goals for next year to finish and to beat Dave’s time?

Highlight 1 – Vail Pass Ride on Monday

I felt mentally and physically like shit Monday AM. Horrible night sleep reliving my DNF and even cramping a bit, but the guys insisted we break camp, drive to Frisco and ride Vail pass. I was nervous about trying to climb on my cramping quads, and just mentally beat. But the peer pressure was motivating and I could not say no. Thanks guys! Up to the summit of Vail pass is actually fully paved wide path from Frisco, an “easy” climb at like 3% average and 14 miles. While Gary looked for his bike rack lock key (Story for another time, but a good one), Joe and Dave patiently rode slowly up the climb as I was tender on the quads and worried I’d cramp on the way up. I didn’t I made it:

and we enjoyed the scenery as Gary hauled ass to join us at the summit despite missing a few lower gears due to a mechanical issue in the rear.

After a ripping descent back to Frisco, I was all smiles and realized that riding a bike is fun, after a day of suffering on Sunday. Thanks for not letting me bail guys.

Top 3 Things I am Proud

#3 – I was ready to go, at least aerobically. Even at the lowest points, and when I stopped at 58 miles I wasn’t physically tired. That was one of the things that made it hard. My aerobic shape was ready, but the cramps (due to heat, altitude, dehydration most likely, position???) did me in. My engine was running great, but the pistons were literally freezing

#2 I made it to mile 58!, 30 + miles cramping. I did the best I had in me that day. Despite literally leg locking cramps which started at mile 25!, I gutted it up 3500 feet of climbing and made it more than halfway. Woulda been easy to quit sooner. And I felt ready too several times.

#1 I did quit when I did – At mile 58 I was at almost 5.5 hours with over 42 miles to go. It’s slower than I had ever been. But even more importantly, every time I made any effort I started cramping again. I was really emotionally spent. Several times before making it to the hydration stop at 58, I found myself losing concentration. In hindsight, the best case was to suffer for another 4.5 – 5,5 hours and finish in almost 11 hours and be absolutely dead, that is If I did not crash or go into full body cramping. It was just not safe. Despite the tears, I think it was the right call. That doesn’t lessen the disappointment, but I am trying to use it to strengthen my resolve to come back next year (if I get a spot) to finish what I started. Net net – Hard but right call

Things I learned or are still figuring out:

  1. Gotta figure out the cramping. My hypothesis now is I was dehydrated at the start line, and even though I was drank over 6 liters of water in 5 hrs, exasperated by the extreme heat (90+ degrees all day) and altitude, I just never caught up. You CAN’T DRINK ENOUGH, AND OVER DRINK THE DAY BEFORE
  2. It doesn’t go as planned, yeah i knew that, but a hard reminder.
  3. Biking is fun (thanks Vail pass) and I need to keep it fun, even if I strive to improve. Maybe I put too much on this, I dunno still…

Well thanks for indulging me and reading about my fail! I still had a great weekend, and it still stings. They say biking is the hardest sport out there, and takes you high and low. I definitely felt that both mentally and physically. Next up is some easy riding and the local “Tour De Menlo” 100K fun ride and then a 2+ week 25th annivesry trip with my amazing wife Joel’ and without my bikes.

As for Steamboat, it’s still unfinished business for me. Hope to see your next year to finish what I started!

Done and Dusty – TahoeTruckee Gravel Recap – My First Timed Race!

It started with a nice Thursday midday drive from the Bay area up to my AirBnB on the Truckee River, that is, until I noticed that my driving directions were telling me 1hr and 40 minutes for the last 45 miles. Hmmm, must be a crash ahead. Sure enough, just 9 miles from my destination, I hit this-

Not to be deterred, I ditched my car and mounted my bike, I wish. Despite the crawl to the AirBnb, I was so pleasantly surprised at the beautiful view and accommodations in my little home for the weekend –

From there, I walked the short distance to Downtown Truckee, and had an awesome pasta dinner at Jax by the Tracks, including a little extra carb loading, not sure Coach Ruben would approve of that, but he did sign off on the fueling plan for Saturday, composed of much less palatable but even higher carb options…as my friend Rich says, endurance events are really just eating contests!

After dinner, I met up with my friends Sally and Jon, for more carb loading at a local pub. No photo evidence for that little sidetrack. However, Sally and Jon did meet me Friday AM at the pre-ride with pro Anna Yamauchi . As you can see, Sally and Jon, who have a home in Truckee, fit right in with the Truckee crowd, where I look like a cycling tourist!!!

The pre-ride was anything but easy! Unfortunately, Sally felt a bit off, and Jon and she turned back not long after the start. I on the other hand was pleasantly surprised by the not so easy climb, and not so pleasantly surprised by the single track descent! I come to gravel from the road, and have next to no mountain biking experience, so I descended the “flowy” single track pretty cautiously. Anna pulled behind me and I got some nice tips on handling the terrain before we stopped for an uphill rider, and then I let the 7 or 8 folks who were piled up behind me pull on through. Here’s my Stava from that ride: (link here to see it live and follow me)

Pre-ride done, I went back to my AirBnb and out for a quick pasta meal before coming back and walking down to the river with my book and last carb-laden beverage. The river was running very fast, and the train roaring by and except for a few bugs, it was a nice way to end the evening before turning in early for the main event Saturday AM.

Race Day :

  • 5:30 – Rise and shine
  • 6a Breakfast of oatmeal and berries and coffee
  • 6:30 – Fill bottles and USWE hydration pack, pack food
  • 7a Dressed and ready to go
  • 7:15a Out the door for the 1.8 mi spin to the start line

The race was epic!!!! I was doing the 54 mile route which was 45 time with a 9 mile roll-in. Here’s what it looks like, and here is the Strava route if anyone wants to do it themselves (which, with a few caveats, I highly recommend, on a mtn bike for reasons to come…)

As the graphic shows, the race was really 3 distinct sections, as demarcated by the rest stops, but in reality, for me, it felt like 4 (or kinda 5):

  • Section 1 the first 17 mile mixed terain “rollout” ending at rest stop 1.
  • Section 2: the roughly 10 mi climb leading to and up Babbit Road
  • Section 3: the 6+ mile descent climb descent ending at rest stop 2
  • Section 4: The paved then dirt 12 mile fast ride to the finish line
  • (section 5: the last 9+ miles of paved untimed “roll-in”)

Section 1 for me was uneventful save about 2 minutes spent on a dropped chain. After a hand from a course “Marshall” (BTW, the entire EventMonkey team and volunteers were AWESOME) I rolled into the stop averaging over 15mph, a good speed for me.

I was feeling awesome on the climb up Babbit, passing many riders and never felt too strained. Topping off at over 7K feet, I was quite pleased to see that neither the heat nor the altitude were causing me any distress or fatigue. Score one for fitness there!!!

Section 3 was BY FAR the hardest thing I have ever done terrain wise on my bike. Not being a mountain biker, the double track rock garden was so scary. I had to “pucker up”, take my time, and trust the bike. I managed not to death grip too much, and made it down with the toll of one stop to shake the hands, one waterbottle cage rattled off (remember to tighten those next time Ken!) and one cool picture, where I look a lot more controlled and calm than I was on the inside. Check it out:

The end of the long 6 mile descent, yes it was rocky

Rolling into the last rest stop, several of the pro men, who were on the long course, roared by me grabbing bottles on the way through. Having the descent behind me, I was feeling fresh and reading to ride hard on the last section. Ruben and I had targeted a “negative split” for this section of the course, and I managed to roll through to the finish line averaging 15.8 mph for the last 12 miles. It felt great.

Another highlight of the last section was catching up to my old friends Chris and Martina. We all worked together at Netscape decades ago, and I had ran into them at the start line. We rolled out together, but I lost them when I dropped my chain. With about 3 miles to go, I caught them and we had the fun of both rolling out and finishing together. SO FUN AND MEMORABLE. Here we are at the finish line and later stopping to ham it up in front of Boca Reservoir during the non-timed roll-in.

Friends, old and new, definitely was a theme of the weekend. It was really a pleasure to meet Haley Smith, the woman’s winner, at the finish line. Haley rolled in right around when we did after completing the long course, yes, that was 20 miles longer than mine, wow she’s fast!!! Haley, Chris, Martina and I had a great chat and she was friendly, funny, kind and gracious enough to pose for a picture with Martina and I. You are now my fave rider on the Gravel Pro Circuit, cheering for you Haley!!! (and Anna too, heal up from the crash and get out there so we can cheer for you!!!)

Sally and Jon who I really got to know better had done the short course, but waited at the festival to greet me, and then treated me to a super yummy meal at their home that evening. Here’s Sally and I at the festival, I am a bit dusty for sure!!!

Overall, I had a goal to complete the timed portion in 3.5 hours, including stops. Here’s my TrainingPeaks data for that portion of the ride. I “missed my goal” by almost 27 minutes. However, if I had known how technical the climbing and descending would be, I think I would have aimed more for like 4hrs. So overall, I was pleased with this finish. From a race perspective, I finished 22/34 in the Men’s 60+ and 132/198 in the overall Men’s finishers. Since this was my first race ever, and so technical, I am super pleased. I am on a journey to be a top 10 age group finisher, and this was a great first step in that journey.

Wrapping the ride up, here’s my Strava screen and link

After that amazing BBQ dinner at Jon and Sally’s I headed back to the AirBnb and my head hit the pillow hard. I was up bright and early and decided to skip the organized post ride ride and drive back home. The ride home was quick and uneventful, and I was left with nothing but awesome memories of the weekend.

Next up is my big event in Steamboat Colorado, 100 miles of “Champagne” Gravel on August 20th. I won’t miss the Tahoe rocks, and am excited for the longer and higher challenge of SBTGrvl. Until then, this OldManRolling will be training in the Menlo Park and the surrounding roads, trails and bridges. You can get more regular updates by following on Instagram @oldman.rolling Until then, keep the tires rolling – Ken

April Fundo and Welcome Recovery Week

On Saturday, I completed my April fundo (100 kilometer ride). This was my 3rd 100K ride of 2022 and my goal is to ride a fundo in at least 9 of the 12 months. I am now at 3/4 through April, so on track. I couldn’t round up any of the usual suspects so I headed out on the road on my own a little after 8am. I had to take my son Owen to a soccer game about 30 minutes away at 2, so I had a good window of 5+ hours to complete the ride, eat something and shower up.

Looking back on previous 100K rides, my moving time varied between 4:30 and 5:45, but my total time was more in the 5 to 6.5 hour range. Many of those rides had been organized rides with rest stops and friends, where we probably lingered a whole, especially late in the rides. So I set a goal to be back by 12:30, and knew that this meant I’d not be stopping much along the way. Also, I decided to do a relatively big climb, Old La Honda road, which is about 3.1 miles at 7.8% average gradient, about 1600 ft of climbing in around 30 minutes.

Well long story short, as shown below, I did the ride in 4:17 moving time, with just 12 minutes of “stopping”. That 12 minutes probably included at least half at lights, so really, I rode this with only 1 quick stop halfway through to peel a few layers and to fuel with some carbs.

This was a great day out, the weather was perfect, as it was nearly 70 degrees by the time I pulled in at 12:40 or so. And I felt pretty hungry but still fresh at the end of the ride. I am now 7 weeks into a 10 week training block to prepare for a 100 mile ride at the end of May, and felt like I could have gone another 37.2 if I needed to.

I am now in a “recovery week” where I am just doing some short rides and no real hard interval work. And I definitely feel like I need to recover after that effort. I slept like a log on Saturday night, had a nice easy spin on Sunday, a good gym session on Monday, and a nice ride chippy ride today (Tuesday). I feel like I am recovering from this effort faster and stronger than I can ever remember recovering from this hard of a ride. YEAH! And to top it off later that PM Owen had his first ever “Clean sheet” in goal, a 2-0 shut out win!

On the gear side, I am really liking the new Garmin 830 Edge computer, a great upgrade from my old trusty but rusty Lezyne Super GPS. The Garmin needs less screens, syncs better, and captures more data than the Lezyne did. Definitely worth the upgrade. I also just attached the Garmin Varia tail light/radar unit after my ride today, and “look forward” to being able to “see backward” on my next ride (Thanks again to John and Hema for the B-day gift!) . I’ll right up my thoughts on the Varia after a few weeks of using it. Stay tuned.

And look for me out on the roads, I’ll be yours,

The #OldManRolling

My Strength Training Routine

While I was at the gym, my very long time friend and now cycling confidante John N texted me and asked me, “do you use dumbells or what?, I want to add weight training to my routine”. I replied, “At the gym, I’ll write it up for you…”

So here’s my 2x/week Strength Training routine, I built this to be specific to cycling but also to add some additional “upper body” work for overall physical balance and strength.

  1. Warm Up
    • Hip stretches – I have bursitis in both hips, so I do a fairly long hip stretching routine prior to riding and lifting, on days I don’t do Yoga
  2. Core Work
    • Planks – Front and both sides. 3 set, 1 minute, 45 seconds and 30 sec. I do front, side, side for 1 min as first set
    • Spiderman push ups. 1 set of 20, both sides
    • Renegade rows, 1 set of 25, each side
  3. Squat Series
    • Weighted Pistol squats, 1 set of 20, each side
    • Weighted Bulgarian Split squats – 1 set of 20, each side
    • Kettleball 2 leg squat, 1 set of 25
  4. Upper Body
    • Dips weight assisted (working the weight to be less) 3 set of 15-20
    • Pull ups – Same weight assisted, 3 sets of 15-20
    • Bench press 3 set of 20, currently at 90 lbs (self spotting machine)
    • Military press – 3 sets of 20, currently at 40 lbs + bar

The entire workout takes about 50-60 minutes, and I feel great after. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Want to share other ideas? It’s hard to assess the impact of this work on my cycling performance, but I definitely know that since I added this in October of last year, my weight has gone up a bit, but I am sure it’s all lean mass, not fat, and my cycling feels stronger and I feel better. Love it!

See ya in the Gym – Old Man Rolling

OLD MAN ROLLING – What’s this All About?

I’ve started this new blog category on my business site (that’s me in orange, second from right in photo), but do plan to make it it’s own thing! Here, I am hoping to chronicle my journey as a “later in life” cyclist, to share my story of the last two years when I have transformed my mind and body toward later in life fitness, health, and performance, to track my next goals, and to hopefully inspire a few others “older” athletes along the way. Some stats from the beginning of my journey in April of 2020

  • Weight – 178 pounds (if you don’t know, I am only 5′ 4″ so that’s kinda, as my kids used to say, “squishy”)
  • 4/19 to 4/20 Cycling mileage – 540 miles
  • Functional Threshold Power on bike – < 180 W (estimate)
  • FTP W/KG = 2.2
  • Best 2019 time on Old La Honda Climb – 35:16

Compare that to today:

  • Weight – 150 pounds
  • 4/21 to 4/22 Cycling mileage -5120 miles
  • Functional Threshold Power – 257 W (8 min interval test)
  • FTP W/KG = 3.78
  • Best 2022 time (so far) on Old La Honda Climb – 25:20

And yes, I am really super proud of these accomplishments, but I am only getting started and will in a bit share a few more goals along the way.

First, and I have a lot to say about all of these items on the list, here’s at the top level how I got this done, not in perfect order btw:

  1. I committed to riding 3 or more days every week rain or shine (I still haven’t bought that indoor trainer set up).
  2. I dived into learning about performance, started using training plans, and even had a coach
  3. I read Joe Friel’s Fast After 50, amazing eye opener (thanks Mark B for the recommendation!)
  4. I got a power meter, and incorporated Interval Power training into my workouts
  5. I changed (not a ton) my eating habits, especially “fueling” consciously before, during and after rides.
  6. I learned about things like functional over-reach, recovery and more (thanks TrainerRoad Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast)
  7. I added both Yoga (need more consistency still) and strength training into my fitness routine

There’s more, from gear to friends to clothing but these seven things were really at the crux of my improvement. Along the way, I had one bad crash (small fracture in elbow (lucky) and totalled bike, (no so lucky)) , had memorable rides with friends, replaced the road bike and bought a new gravel bike and still managed to run my consulting practice, coach and ref soccer and spend time with my amazing wife and kids and even take needed vacation and break weeks along the way. Lots of stories to tell, and lots of learnings to share.

Lastly, here are my current goals for 2022 –

  • Ride a 100K day 10 out of 12 months. (2 out 3 so far, hope to make it 3/4 this weekend)
  • Ride one organized 100 mile fundo or century ride
  • Break 24:30 on Old La Honda and 33:30 on Kings Mountain
  • Get better on gravel, get more gravel miles in, including Dirt Alpine local climb

AND my BIG DECADE GOAL – Be faster at 70 than I am at 60. Ambitious FOR SURE. Doable, we shall see. Regardless I hope it’s a great journey that you will join me on…

See you on the road,

Ken – AKA “Old Man Rolling”