Monday, September 23, 2013

Tour de Lake Arrowhead

I recently did the "Tour de Lake Arrowhead" ride in, of all places, Lake Arrowhead.

There were 2 options for me: the metric century (100km, 66 miles) and the metric half (33 miles). My first instinct was to do the full 100k. 66 miles was a good distance for me to be doing at that point in training, so no problem.

The full century had 6,000 feet of climbing. That's a lot of hills, but I don't mind the climbs. Well, to be more accurate, I recognize that climbing is a great way to train so I'm willing to go up mountains. No problem.

The rides start at an altitude of 5,200 feet. Problem.

I was in Lake Arrowhead a few weeks before and did a one-hour ride. I was wheezing like a 10 pound hummingbird*. There is not a lot of oxygen up there, and I was really feeling the effects so I decided to do the half-century ride instead. It still had over 3,000 feet of climbing which is not too shabby.

I had a feeling this was going to be a low-key ride, and I was proven correct at packet pick-up the night before. One of the race organizers was casually chatting with people: he asked the guy next to me what his name was and the guy replied "Bob Smith". The organizer said "ah yes, you're doing the ride with your wife Mary, right?" He asked me where I was from, and then said "so you're the by from Glendale...we have 2 people from Burbank coming up as well." When the race organizer has the attendee list memorized, you know you're dealing with a small event.

On ride morning, I'd guess there were about 100 bikers total across the different distances so it had a nice small-town feel. Before the start, the race director kept warning us over and over about the first hill, I had been more worried about the the huge hill in the middle of the course, so I couldn't figure out what was the big deal about the itty-bitty hill at the beginning.

Well, race profiles can be deceiving. That short hill was VERY steep. And because it was so early in the ride, we weren't warmed up at all. It was a little rough, but I have relatively good climbing legs still. I probably passed 20 people going up.

Going down the other side was a different story. I'm sure 40 people passed me. These were steep, narrow, winding mountain roads with hairpin turns and I was riding my brakes the entire way. Scary stuff.

Because it was a small ride, it was fairly lonely at times. We spread out a lot so I would have long stretches without seeing any other riders. It was a complicated route with a lot of turns on tiny residential streets, but was fairly well-marked.

The support area at the turn-around had a cool Hawaiian theme which was nice, and they also had bagels with real peanut butter. Wow. I LOVE peanut butter and bagels and I really had to control myself and not completely pig out. They also had a kind of a cheesy Hawaiian Luau theme going, so that was an added bonus.

You would think that a bike ride around Lake Arrowhead would have beautiful scenery. And I guess it did. But after about 20 miles or so, I really couldn't care less about the scenery. My head was down and I was just staring at the road 20 feet ahead the entire time. It was a LONG climb on the way back, and again- lots of sharp turns on tiny switchback roads. I had little interest in looking up at any "scenery".

All-in-all, a nice ride. I would have liked to have done a longer ride, IF the additional mileage was flat. Thirty three miles of hills and 20 miles of flat roads would have been great, but you just can't get that kind of terrain in Arrowhead.

* "Wheezing like a 10 pound hummingbird": Used without permission from Brad.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nautica Malibu Triathlon Race Report

I did a triathlon!

Now the sad thing is that this shouldn't be news. But the reality is the last time I did a triathlon was Kona back in 2010. Three years ago. Yikes. But I just did the Nautica Malibu Triathlon once again.

The most important part of the race each year is setting up my car. It usually looks something like this:

Every year, I lose a few signs. Some blow away, I give some away, and some just get so nasty looking I have to throw them out. And this year, I was running short. So a few weeks ago I went to Tri Team Captain Robert and said "hey, you know what people really liked? Those signs we printed up many years ago. I bet the team would love to have signs again to show their support." And Robert said, "hey, that's a great idea!" and had Gabe design some new signs to match our new jerseys. I think the signs look GREAT and we have them because of my selfish needs. You're welcome.

Now if you look closely, you'll notice the signs aren't the only thing that's different. I got a new car this year. A smaller car. Which means I can't fit my bike and an inflated killer whale pool toy in the back at the same time. So I had to huff and puff and blow up the whale at 4:30 in the morning in the dark in a parking lot. Pain in the arse.

As for the race itself, it was horrible. Or at least my performance was. It was my slowest finish ever - by 10 minutes. I'm not making excuses, but I do have a few... "explanations." For starters, it was supposed to be a hot day. A very, very hot day. And we were warned over and over again about the heat and how important it was to hydrate and I was a hydrating fool. The problem is, it turned out NOT to be a hot day. In fact, it was kind of chilly. So if you've been hydrating all morning and wind up not sweating as much as you planned - you're gonna wanna pee. Really bad. Normally I should not be stopping for a potty break during a 2-hour race, but it had to happen.

I had to stop a second time on the run for something more important: when I got to my car on the return, I noticed that a few of the signs were starting to fall off the hood. So naturally I HAD to stop to re-tape and make sure they were back in position. I mean, what would happen if somebody were to run by and see my car? They'd think to themselves "Cool! Go Disn-... wait a minute...some of the signs are MISSING! I'm not motivated at all now." I thought it was time well spent.

This next part is going to upset a lot of you, but not more than it upsets me: turns out, my arch-nemesis Jon Cryer also had a terrible race, but he still beat me by 90 seconds. That's far less time than I spent in the bathroom and fixing my car. Go ahead Cryer, gloat for another year... But my car still looked cooler than yours.