Before I tell you about High Anxiety and Psychopath, I want to preface the story by telling you this off-season’s work has improved my cycling. More about that later.
(Click on the photo to elarge the view.)
Those of you familiar with Breckenridge ski resort know some of the classic trail names such as High Anxiety and Psychopath. It’s been years since I’ve skied at Breckenridge, but I couldn’t pass up the new snow and a $25 lift ticket. Three of us headed for the hills and took advantage of the opportunity yesterday.
I took the newly rebuilt Garmin 800 on the trip and I could actually see trail names on the map (above), which I wasn’t able to do with theold Garmin firmware. You can see the complete Garmin Connect file for the day here.
The snow was great, but (and?) some of the most challenging conditions I’ve skied in a long time. The top t-bar and upper lift runs were windblown thick snow on top of new snow that’s been preserved for a week. (The resort’s official closing was last weekend. They decided to reopen for Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend.) Snow on the upper mountain was really deep with a roughly four-inch layer of wind-packed snow on the top. The top runs off of the t-bar had moonscape snow waves that were wind-hardened. Moonscape was actually a bit easier to ski than the deep powder with the packed top layer. I took a digger in the powder with packed top and when I tried to retrieve a ski I would sink to my crotch. That’s a report on the tough stuff.
We did find some lighter new snow lower on the mountain, some good wind-blown light powder and some great snow on the groomers. None of the snow was classic Colorado champagne powder, but the five feet (yes, that is FEET) of snow we've received in April is much appreciated for the water situation.
I’m certainly not the first one to find that winters sports such as skiing, skating, working on strength and doing balance skill building in the off-season helps cycling. Olympian Eric Heiden was among the first notable athletes to use this kind of crosstraining. Dave Wiens is legendary for winning the prestigious Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race and using skiing and hockey as winter training. My interview with Dave can be found here.
Though I haven’t done much mountain biking this spring, what I have found so far is that my balance is better, I have good power output on some of the short climbs and my weaker right turn ability has seen significant improvement.
Not only has more skiing been great fun this winter, I believe it will contribute to a strong cycling season.
Have any of you changed your winter training and seen some positive indicators?
Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and triathlon plans are found here.
There have been questions on a few message boards inquiring about the aerobic component of downhill skiing. Is it downhill skiing aerobic or is it all anaerobic?
The short answer is, it depends.
How aerobic a day of skiing is depends on your skill as a skier, how aggressively you ski on any given day and the terrain.
I’ll share two files with you, one file is a day of skate skiing and the second file is a day of downhill skiing:
1. Skate skiing day. Set all of the dropdown menus to “time.” When I skate ski, I try to minimize stop time. Though you can’t see it on this software, my heart rate response for this near two-hour workout was: less than Zone 1 = 27 minutes, Zone 1 = 43 minutes, Zone 2 = 29 minutes, Zone 3 = 12 minutes, Zone 4 = 6 minutes, and Zone 5 = 0 minutes. Though no Zone 5 is shown, there is likely time that heart rate response did not reflect effort. Some short efforts left my legs searing and I needed to stop and recover. If you change the dropdown menus to “distance” it doesn’t change the charts much.
2. Downhill skiing day. Again, set all of the dropdown menus to “time.” The flat-line altitude reading you see is a generous lunch break. Because I’m trying to work on retrieving lost downhill skills, we stayed mainly on blue runs. There were a few bumps and steeps, but not much. Collected heart rate data: less than Zone 1 = 3:30, Zone 1 = 59 minutes, Zone 2 = 10 minutes and Zone 3 = 1 minute. For this 4:40 day at the mountain, only about 70 minutes of it was aerobic work.
If I continue to downhill ski next season, I’ll be curious to see how the data changes – or if it does change.
While there is some aerobic work within the downhill day, it is harder to track the strength work accomplished. I believe downhill skiing does work on leg strength.
In both cases, I believe skiing works on balance and muscular fitness not accomplished by running and cycling. Both running and cycling are primarily forward motion, while skiing involves the use of all the leg muscles.
Will this season’s ski work benefit my summer race season? (Thirteen days of Nordic skiing and two downhill days.)
Last night was the premier of the Race Across the Sky Movie, documenting the 2010 Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. This is the second movie about the race, produced by Citizen Pictures.
Though I attended the Fort Collins, Colorado event, live feed from the Denver event was shown on the big screen. The live feed included a panel discussion before and after the movie. Panel members included Bahram Akradi (founder of Life Time Fitness and new owner of the race), Levi Leipheimer (2010 men’s winner), Dave Wiens (eight-time finisher, six-time winner), Rebecca Rusch (two-time winner, including 2010), JHK (Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, second place 2010) and Erik Weihenmayer (first legally blind racer to finish the event as a tandem stoker, accomplished Mount Everest climber). The panel discussion was moderated by Boulder, Colorado’s Dave Towle.
The film began with race founder Ken Chlouber in the depths of what I assume was the Climax Molybdenum Mine. The history of Leadville is hand-in-hand with the mining industry. The mountain towns like Leadville were built on hard work, persistence and digging deep. That theme carries though the race.
There was a much better balance this year of film footage of the elite racers and ordinary people. Similar to the NBC broadcast of Ironman World Championships – if you need inspiration, you can find it in the people featured in the movie. The human interest stories included athletes able to race after surviving accidents, battling disease, fighting the age clock, racing in memory of others and racing in spite of other various obstacles.
The graphics showing the course were well done as was the pre-race course shakedown. There were loads of race-day struggles and triumphs. Those small clips woven together give viewers hints of the course difficulty.
I know it isn’t as easy to do as the men’s race; but it would be great if the top ten women were honored at the close of the film in the same manner that the top ten men were honored. At minimum, list the top ten women rather than just the top five.
Overall, I thought Citizen’s did a great job. If you love to ride and could use a bit of inspiration (who can't use inspiration?) take the time to see this film.
To help 100-mile mountain bike racers with some training references, this blog is a good start. Many of the resources can help 100-mile mountain bike racers for any event. Some of the resources are Leadville 100 specific.
First, training plan help.
In my newest book, Training Plans for Cyclists, you will find two foundation fitness training plans. (You can see the table of contents online.) The two foundation fitness plans are designed to help cyclists maintain or improve fitness in the off-season. Often, there are two Levels of training plan presented in the book. Level I is for completion and Level II is more competitive. Level I and Level II descriptions are also relative to event distance. For example, I classify a Level I rider looking at a 100-mile mountain bike race differently than a Level I road rider looking to complete a century. Of course, the event route itself can have a major influence.
The book contains detailed, daily workouts. (Not just general instructions on how to assemble your own plan.) Here are athlete profile descriptions:
Level I Profile (Chapter 19)
The plan in this chapter is designed for a Level I rider. Before beginning the plan, you are riding two or three times per week, indoors or outdoors; but, your workouts are not consistent. It is not a problem for you to ride for an hour, though.
You are looking to build strength, endurance and increase your riding speed. You’d like to begin a weight training program, but don’t know where to begin.
One big issue you have is time. There is never enough time and you don’t have much of it to devote to staying fit. If you can see a training plan that would whip you into shape on three to six hours a week, you’d jump up and down.
The plan in this chapter is designed for a Level II cyclist that is riding three or four times per week before beginning the plan. You are currently capable of comfortably completing a two-and-a-half hour ride. Your current long ride is mostly aerobic, but may include a small amount of intensity.
You are looking to build strength, endurance and increase your riding speed for next season. You want a weight training program included in your plan that will deliver on-the-bike speed later.
Your schedule allows you to train six or seven days per week.
It really doesn’t matter what your season goals are (road vs. mountain) because the foundation fitness plans can be used for preparation for century rides, multi-day tours, short-course mountain bike racing, 24-hour races or 100-mile mountain bike races.
After you have built foundation fitness on your own or used one of the above plans, then you transfer that fitness to a more event-specific plan taking you right up to race day.
Keeping attention focused on just the mountain bike events for now, below are the plan descriptions contained in the book:
Chapter 16, Level I Rider, 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race, 16 Week Plan
Before beginning this plan, you are riding consistently and doing between five and six hours of training each week. Your long ride is around two hours long and it includes some intensity as well as hill riding. At least one other ride during the week contains some intensity. That ride can be an indoor spinning class.
If your current fitness does not meet the description above, begin your training journey in Chapter 19 to build foundation fitness. After the last week of the Chapter 19 training plan, begin with Week 1 of this chapter.
During the week, you are limited to an hour of training on three days. You need two days off for other activities. Additionally, you do not have time to commute to a mountain course, so the training needs to be on an indoor trainer, spin class or a road bike.
Your goal is to comfortably complete a 100-mile mountain bike race. While you want to ride in a time that is as fast as possible, you realize you are restricted for training time. You want the best time, given your limited training time.
(The biggest training week is 13:30. The online version of this race-specific plan is found here.)
Chapter 17, Level II Rider, 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race, 14 Week Plan
Before beginning this plan, you are training approximately nine hours per week. You are riding two long rides each week. One ride is around two hours long and the second one is roughly three hours in length.
You are riding two or three other weekday rides that are an hour each. You may or may not be strength training.
This plan is designed to follow the Level II Foundation Fitness training plan found in Chapter 20. After completing 18 weeks of that plan, you can move directly into the plan in this chapter. That combination provides you with 32 weeks of training.
If you are not using the Chapter 20 training plan, review the last few weeks of that training plan. Before beginning this training plan you should be capable of completing those workouts, or similar workouts, both in time and intensity.
Due to the volume of training necessary to complete this plan you will need to focus on recovery as much as you focus on accomplishing the training. Improved performance is accompanied by recovery techniques and high density nutrition. In summary, in addition to completing the training sessions, you need to get adequate rest and eat nutritious foods that fuel a high performance body. Be sure to read Chapter 3 that covers nutrition.
Your goal is to ride a 100-mile mountain bike race in a personal best time. This competitive goal is more than just completing the event, it is competing at the event. The competition may be for a spot on the podium or to beat a past personal record (PR). You want a new PR.
(The biggest training week is 22:00. The online version of this race plan isfound here.)
Now that the training portion is covered, below is more information within columns and blogs:
Description of key points and challenges in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race: (Note that the entry numbers are low compared to 2009 because the column was written in 2005):
Todays blog was sparked by a combination of reading several blogs over the past week, having several conversations with racers (triathletes, cyclists and runners), volunteering at the 50-mile point of the Leadville 100 running race, watching Pb-ville 100 runners four miles from the finish line at 7:00am yesterday morning (after they had been running for 27 hours) and add a dash of personal reflection.
In my Leadville debrief, I didnt make much mention of pain and suffering. Im not sure why I tend to gloss over it, perhaps its my way of remembering only the positives and moving on to the next adventure. It was the Dave Wiens blog, part II, recounting how the race really went down in the pro field, which reminded me of how hard that race is without weather and then how hard this years race was due to rain and cold. (If you havent read Daves blog, it is worth a look.)
1. Everyone suffers - from the leaders to the last soul in a race. If you are going to race, and quite frankly make it through life, you WILL suffer. You can see by Daves recount of the race, he battled pain and cold just like every other rider in the event.
Yes, there were times I was cold during the race. I had to stop and put a jacket on. I did a constant monitoring process on my cold fingers how numb is okay? Can I still use the brakes? Yes. Okay, go for awhile longer and see how it goes.
There were times I battled leg cramps. It has happened each year and it occurs at a different point in the race each time. To deal with it, I would change positions on the bike, change gears, grab the cramping muscle and pinch/massage it while still riding. Id take another electrolyte tab. Id drink more. I did everything I could think of to lessen the pain and make it go away all while still trying to keep rolling.
The first time I had vicious leg cramps was during my night ride of a 24-hour relay mountain bike race. The pain was so fierce, I had to get off the bike and walk. Its dark; its raining; its cold; there arent many people around; surely there are lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) in the woods; and I had to figure out a way to get off the mountain and back to the safety of my team camper. After awhile I figured out that I could change my position some on the bike and make the cramps go away. I also figured out that there were some sections of the course that triggered the cramps (short, steep, technical climbs) so I got off and walked/ran those sections. It was simply the best/fastest race strategy for me.
In that relay race, I rode another lap the next day in the daylight, still pouring rain, and still managing the cramps though they werent as bad as in the night lap. I didnt really know how that day lap would go, but I decided I could simply walk/hike/jog any section that caused me problems. Yes, I wanted to ride the entire course, but that was no longer an option for me.
2. When things dont go to original plan, be willing to modify the plan.
3. Is it more important to you to reach a particular time or finish place, than it is to simply finish the event? Each person, at each event, needs to answer this question head-on. If you change your goal to just finishing the event, you may be pleasantly surprised at your time. If you are so invested in a time goal (Ironman athletes in particular) that any deviation puts your head in the tank, you will quit. Quitting gives no opportunity for pleasant surprises.
During this Leadville race, the left side of my lower back hurt. Im not sure why. It hadnt hurt anytime before or after the race. Like my leg cramps, I managed it by moving around on the bike, trying to see what I could do to make the pain go away. I was able to get it to a tolerable point of discomfort.
I rode all the descents as fast as I could, however that meant some aggressive braking at various moments to control speed and avoid other racers. Pushing this limit for hours made my triceps ache. Pretty much after the Columbine descent, they reminded me of their exact anatomical location with every hard or long braking action. At least they took my attention away from my back for those moments.
4. Every racer that pushes his or her own personal limit suffers physical pain, deals with pain and somewhat enjoys managing pain. Pushing the edge hurts. If you are entirely comfortable for an entire race, you arent racing youre on a comfortable group ride. Being comfortable is a different goal than racing your limit and risking physical failure. Know that Im not judging the goals as good or bad simply different.
5. The more opportunities you have to fail, learn something and try again, the more tools you have in your tool chest of options. Ive raced a lot. I started competitive swimming when I was 10 and had weekly opportunities to risk my ego. When I had bad races, I lived through them. People that swam slower than me in practice kicked my hiney in races. I found it curious and inspiring.
6. Race more. There is no other way to get racing experience, other than to race. Sure, you can read books to help you; but you have to get out there and risk physical, mental and emotional pain in order to become a better racer. Fast group rides do help, but they do not carry the mental and emotional risk of a race.
I cant tell you exactly where my physical limits lie. I can tell you that there are people out there willing to suffer and risk much more than I. Ive seen racers completely wasted in the medical tent, unable to walk. Ive not been there and I dont want to go there.
I know of racers that have suffered long-term health damage after suffering through an event. Ive not been there and I dont want to go there.
7. Suffering physical pain in an event is somewhat like doing a risk-reward analysis on your investment portfolio. Big risk, big suffering can often bring big rewards but not always. Low-risk or no-risk can bring limited rewards; but it depends on your personal definition of reward.
I cant tell you when to keep racing or when to stop, due to extreme conditions or physical pain. You have to make that decision for yourself. Your suffering limits are likely different than mine, some of you have a much higher tolerance for pain than I do.
If you had a race where you dont feel like you pushed your limits, learn from it and decide what you want to do differently, if anything, in the future.
There really are no easy steps to learning how to suffer or what your suffering limits are, you have to gather that experience for yourself.
If you follow sports whatsoever, by now you know that Lance Armstrong won the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race in a time of 6:28. He beat the course record and dethroned six-time champion Dave Wiens (6:57). You can do a search for the event and find all the details and videos you please of these two great athletes and the top five or so men in the event.
What is tough to find in print or video media, is coverage of the real tough-gals and tough-guys of the event. I want to tell you about these superhumans.
The overall female winner, Rebecca Rusch from Ketchum Idaho, placed 30 OVERALL. Yes, overall and with a time of 8:14. (She is in the photo below, left to right, Ken Chlouber, Rebecca, spectator in the background, Dave Wiens and Lance Armstrong). Second female, Amanda Carey from Victor Idaho was second female and 66th overall with a time of 8:40. KC Holley from Spanish Fork, Utah was third female, 126 overall with a time of 8:59.
Two women rode the event on single-speed bikes. That is da/mn tough. Kara Durland from Colorado Springs, Colorado was the first singly with a time of 11:19. Second was Amy Owens from Denver, Colorado with a time of 11:28.
The mens single-speed division was tough as well. The top single-speed male was Charlie Hayes from Boulder, Colorado with a time of 8:11. David Bott from Buena Vista, Colorado was second with a time of 8:43. Third place was Kenny Jones of Provo, Utah with a time of 8:49.
As if going for the Leadman distinction isnt hard enough, Corey Hanson and John Odle did the mountain bike race on single speeds. (Leadman is completing five Leadville events the marathon, 50-mile Silver Rush mountain bike race, the 100-mile mountain bike race, the 10k running race done the morning after the 100-mile mountain bike race and capped off with a 100-mile run done a week after the 100-mile mountain bike race.)
You think descending on a mountain bike is scary? How about grinding it up a steep, loose section? Try it on a tandem. Serena and Mark Warner did it in 10:48, followed by Mark and Jon Hirsch in 11:14. Charles Schuster and Karla Wagner round out the top three with a time of 11:19.
Id tell you about the oldest female and male finishers, but I cant tell from the results page who those people might be.
It was a tough race day with rain and cold temperatures. (Ill give you my personal race debrief later in the week. Ill also finish the France trip series.) Here are a few stats I compiled from the results page:
1307 people started the race
896 official finishers (I gave the last racer the two-minute timing chip leeway that the race directors gave at the awards ceremony)
40% of the entry field did not finish the race
33% of the starting field did not finish
The stats tell you that it was obviously a tough race, made more difficult by the conditions that day. Hats off to everyone that trained, took the challenge and did the best they could on that day.
A couple of weeks ago I was up in Leadville for a course pre-ride. Marilee, the race director, mentioned that the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race would be available for viewing on the internet. On August 15th, they will have a live stream webcast that will feature four, 30-minute segments. The segments will include the race start, mid-way of the race for the top riders, the finish for the top riders and finally the last 30 minutes of the race including the “Last A$$ up the Pass” – i.e. the last official finisher.
Yesterday I spoke to race promoter Kathy Bedell and she told me that Lance and Dave are racing, but so is Jeremiah Bishop (2008 National Champion for short track and marathon mountain bike) and Tinker Juarez (2 x Olympian, 4 x 24-hour solo champion). Kathy told me that they are not counting out Levi Leipheimer yet – hoping the broken wrist he suffered during the Tour will heal enough to allow him to race.
You know that Lance was busy getting himself on the podium at the Tour de France, as Leadville preparation. Dave Wiens’s preparation can be found in the column I wrote for the July Active Cyclist. Jeremiah won the Breckenridge Epic. Tinker’s prep can be found here.
If you can’t be in Leadville, you can watch the action live via streaming video at a cost of only $5.95. The Leadville 100’s new website went live today and you can find all the info. you need on the site.
Friday night I watched some of the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics. What I saw was fantastic, I think the Chinese organizers did a really nice job.
While I wanted to watch all of the ceremonies, I needed to get some sleep. I knew a 4:45 am wake-up call would be the start of a long day on Saturday at the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.
I posted that Lance Armstrong did indeed show up to the pre-race meeting. He was discounting his race ability, compared to five-time champion Dave Wiens. Dave, however, knew better than to think Lance would do anything other than try to win.
Meanwhile, on the women's side of the race, very few people knew that Susan Williams was racing. Regular blog readers knew Susan was racing, but not many others did. When we were driving up to pre-ride the course, Susan asked what my time goal was and I told her 10:30. She said that was her time goal too, on the advice of someone that knew her.
"No Susan, you will go faster than 10:30," I told her.
She asked if she could line up with me at the start line and I told her, "Of course, you're welcome to start with me...but you ride your own race and do not pace off of me."
I told my husband after the pre-ride that Susan is well-capable of a sub-9 finish; but I don't know how she'll ride this year after running around 30 miles in a 24-hour relay the week before the Leadville event.
The rain the day before the race put the course in perfect condition. Race morning was cool and overcast, not too cold. Perfect!
Below are shots of people outbound at Twin Lakes, getting ready for the Columbine climb...
Roy Gatesman (441)
Todd Kornfield (his fiancé Jen is crewing)
More shots home bound after Columbine Mine....
Del, my husband and great race support with me
The short story is most everyone had a good race. Two guys that missed the cut-off last year, got their shiny buckles this year. They both had plenty of time to spare.
As most of you know by now, Dave Wiens was the first place male. At the awards ceremony, Lance gave a really nice speech and complimented race organizers as well as Dave. "Not many guys can ride me off of their wheel, but this guy did," Lance said. Lance continued to say something else complimentary about Dave, but I don't recall his exact words.
The women's champion was Susan Williams. Did she race faster than 10:30? Ah, yeah...try an 8:40. I guess running more than a marathon the week before the race isn't a bad idea after all.
Below is a shot of Susan Williams and her two girls, Dave Wiens, his wife Susan (DeMatti) and their three boys.
Several of my buddies got more good photos, but I don't have them yet. If you're a subscriber to the blog, you will be notified when new photos are posted to this blog or to a new one.
As for my race, I did make my 10:30 goal with a bit of time to spare at 10:27. I could have lived without an hour of rain near the end of the race, but given the rest of the day's weather, I won't complain.
My second goal was to get on the podium to score one of those nifty mining pans. I managed to do that as well.
I can't say/write enough about the incredible support I received during the race. The crowd support was fantastic. At the base of Columbine Mine there were two little girls standing on the edge of the road screaming, "Girl power!!! You rock!!!" That was really cool.
Lots of people got me to smile with their encouraging words. It's nice to smile during a ride like Leadville.
I rode with some really terrific guys that helped me achieve my race goals. I told several of you I owe you a beer post-race and I'm more than willing to pay on that promise. Seriously, you guys were awesome.
I think people can post photos in the comment section. Give it a shot. If you can't send me your photos and I'll post them in the blog.