Saturday, September 29, 2012

Headwaters Recap...

Well, so, I boogered up the live tracking attempt if you were watching this year.  I figured out what the problem was, and it turns out I was just using the wrong resource from SPOT.  SPOT Adventures is a place to archive and display previously recorded tracks/messages/etc. from a SPOT.  What I should have done is make a live page from a different portion of my account website and then I could have shared live tracking with everyone via Googlemaps.  Next time I'll get it right and you can follow the ride.  But hopefully you weren't inside trying to watch a little icon of me riding and were instead out living it up in the outdoors anyhow.  It's fall, which of course is my favorite season in the North.
The Headwaters started like it usually does- sleep deprived and cold.  I don't mind the cold, but as I get older the sleep deprivation seems to get more difficult.  It started this time with a minimum rest international overnight at my job, followed by a full day of flying, then we left St Paul for Park Rapids at about 9pm, arriving at 1am.  We got to bed just before 2, and were up at 6 to head to the ride.  Rolling by 7:30am, it was a good early start for a century, as opposed to my normal lazy 8-9am shows which always cause me to linger at the back of the pack and finish late.  But it was a tiring way to begin.
Things went surprisingly well, however.  We actually got into a tempo group that fit our fitness pretty well, and enjoyed paceline efficiency for the first 33 miles.  And it wasn't the standard scarey century ride paceline where you find guys that think they know how to ride close and coordinated but then hit their brakes randomly and all crash wondering what happened, it was a pretty smooth group for the most part.  Never felt overly nervous with these guys.  We actually dropped a couple of them twice before regrouping, which I'm not used to.   But my ego didn't enjoy getting inflated- by the end of the ride I was getting smoked by the usual century going retired guys on feather weight carbon who don't do anything but ride all the time.  :)  Guess I'm the working schlub now who should be raising kids.
The weather overall wasn't that terrible for the North- it started overcast and in the upper 30's/low 40's, and brightened up as the day went on, with winds NNW gusting to the mid twenties.  Pretty regular fall stuff.  The cold headwinds slowed us a bit in some sections, but we hammered out the worst of it during the paceline cooperation.
I was very very pleased with one thing in particular with this edition of the Headwaters (I've ridden it 6 or 7 times now, I'm loosing track.)  All the centuries I've ever done in the past have had the standard high and low moments.  Times when you feel strong, and times you just grit through cause you know it'll turn around soon.  Times you'd define as "bonking".  I never felt close to bonking on this one.  I had a couple times where my energy level felt a bit low, but I never felt truly out of gas, and didn't have to push through anything uncomfortable.  And I'm pretty sure I know why.  Centuries are notorious for pretty low quality rest stop foods.  Cookies, corn-syrupy artificial drinks, candy, chips, hydrogenated peanut butter and so on.  Uh oh, I'm winding up for a food talk.  :)  I tried different food tactics this year.  I tried to get more green plant nourishment in me, and more fiber along with the sugars I was taking in to stretch out the time the sugar was absorbed/used.  The food stops usually have some fruit, so I ate as much of that as I felt, and I brought with some green plant supplements (called Amazing Meal if you care) to mix in with my drinks.  Now this drink stuff isn't whole foods, but it did a much nicer job of stabilizing my energy levels than Gatorade has ever done.  The energy bars I brought with were made of all plant foods, as whole as possible for this type of serving style save for a couple, concentrating on figs or dates, nuts, and other dried fruits.  I also had a couple saltier bars with lots of nuts to eat with the rest stop bananas for electrolytes.  So while it's pretty hard to bring the produce aisle with you on a century, I think I made a much better fueling routine on this ride than others in the past.  I felt much better despite being what I still consider to be less in shape than pre-surguries.  And it's not to say I didn't eat any of the rest stop cookies, there were a couple slipped in there, but I think focusing more on the better foods helped a lot.  I recently read Scott Jurek's book, Eat and Run, and it has strengthened my goals of eating smart (and plant based) in distance events. 
On to pictures- I wasn't taking many as we were enjoying the ride too much and wanting to keep our forward movement, but between my friend Jonathan and myself we manged to get a couple shots worth posting.  The fall colors are looking great up there right now- I suggest you all get out and enjoy them before they pass.  My schedule at work is getting obnoxious so I hope I can get out for some more, but if not I'm thankful for getting this years Headwaters ridden, and I'm stoked I finally rode a full 100 after all my surgery nonsense.   Should've happened earlier.  Enjoy the fall!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Headwaters 100 Live Tracking...

Well, I finally broke down and bought a SPOT tracker.  I've been meaning to pick one up for quite some time, seeing as I'm always dragging my poor wife out into the woods where are phones are useless, and if we ever needed to call for help we'd be stuck.  So I bought one.  And it's not just for emergencies, it can be used for regular check in messages, and live tracking.  I'm going to give it a test run day by using the live tracking feature during this saturdays Headwaters 100 up in Park Rapids, MN.  I set up a SPOT Adventures page here for anyone who cares to watch my progress.  It'll be my first full century since my chest surgeries assuming I finish.  I've had to scratch at the past couple distance events I've tried during my long healing process.  I think this one should go well though.  Follow along if you feel like it, and better yet- come ride!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rainy fatbike afternoon..

The weather in STP has been a roller-coaster this week.  September usually brings fall and an end to the summer heat, which I look forward to being a Northerner.  Well, last year's hot winter lead to this year's  hot summer, and tuesday was in the 90's with 40mph wind gusts.  Gross.  I did get out anyway that day on my Long Haul Trucker for a jaunt around town, and it was simply biking for the sake of biking- not particularly enjoyable however.  So when it finally cooled of yesterday and started raining, I at last felt some fall in the air and brought the fatbike down off it's garage hangers to get out into the Minnesota River Bottoms.  I had no real plans for mileage or goals of any kind other than enjoying the kind of riding the big tires bring.  Floating over miles of sandy trail, beach, flood plain, and muck is a good time if you ask me (and an ever growing number of cyclists in MN).  

I started out at the Sibley House historical site in Mendota Heights, which is a popular meeting place for river rambles.  The trail started out downright clean for rainy fall weather, and as the day went on and the sections of trail thinned, I got the broad range of conditions the area can throw at you.  Anywhere from stuff that could be handled on a cyclocross bike, to muck and sand that only the fat machine likes.  

Large bird that stayed put just until I took this picture- so it's the white blur taking off.  :)

Getting thinner and weedier...

OK, getting sticky and heavy...(still fine with a fatbike however)

Where is the trail?  Wait, who cares.  

I'm pretty excited for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, as I think the fatbiking scene is pretty stacked this year.  More and more people are starting to ride big tires, and more events are showing up all the time.  Plus, maybe it will actually snow and get cold this year.  :)  We'll see.  But I think there will be more people to adventure with either way, and I'm planning some good stuff.  Hopefully ideas meet reality.

Route here.