The Road To BWR

A smile or a grimace? Who knows…who cares?!

A smile or a grimace? Who knows…who cares?!

BWR 2020 ANYONE?

[Strava or it didn’t happen.]

I’ve been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks and just haven’t found the time to put together a recap of the awesome experience that was BWR 2019. Then yesterday I saw that BWR actually linked to my blog in one of their emails, so I figured I should probably get my ass in gear!

(Here’s the email, which includes lots of good gallery and video links.)

The last time I updated this post, we were 3 weeks out from the big day. I was coming off a solid training week and looking forward to my last higher-volume week before starting to taper over the course of the last 2 weeks before the event. As luck would have it, I came down with the flu that week and was completely knocked out for a few days. I went on my usual Friday coffee ride, then headed up PCH toward Malibu with the intention of doing some climbing, only to get progressively worse along the way. In the end, I turned around at Malibu Colony and headed home. I couldn’t put any power to the pedals at all and just felt weak and fatigued. I got worse as the day went on and finally went to urgent care late Friday afternoon and got the flu confirmation. I got on meds that night but I was completely out for the weekend and into Monday / Tuesday of the following week. The flu sucks!

Getting so sick two weeks out from the event really threw me for a loop. My immediate concern was that I wouldn’t have had enough volume overall to finish with something left in the tank. I hadn’t been on a 8+ hour ride since January and was planning on one more longer ride like that. Instead, I was sleeping for 12+ hours then laying on the sofa all day. I was convinced that I was screwed and that I wouldn’t be able to get back any form.

In an attempt to calm my nerves, I called my good friend Drew, who had been informally coaching me along the way. (Side note, Drew placed 25th overall this year, only about 25 mins behind race winner and World Tour Pro Peter Stetina…no big deal. Here are the overall results.) Drew basically told me to shut the hell up and quit my whining. Well, basically. He reminded me that I had put in plenty of overall volume and that getting sick now wasn’t going to kill me. If anything, it was a hell of a lot better to get the flu two weeks before the race than one week! Or day-of…And it wasn’t as if I was going to gain any real overall fitness from one more long ride…it was more a matter of letting my body feel what it was like to be in the saddle for that long.

So, over the course of the last week of April, I focused mainly on easy pace coffee rides. My first ride back, I noticed that my heart rate shot up pretty quickly when I tried to put down any sort of power. I’ve noticed this tends to happen when I’m coming back from any sort of sickness. By Friday, though, I was feeling more normal, so on Saturday I went out for about 4.5 hours. I got in a little over 60 miles / 5k feet of climbing with a combination of road and dirt. I kept the overall pace pretty low, but felt good and after Sunday’s ride ended the week with around 13 hours of riding.

 
Never mistake a single defeat for a final defeat.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Going into the week of the event, I noticed a big increase in anxiety. I’ve never raced a single race, I’ve never trained with a power meter, I’ve never ridden dirt (before January), I’ve never this, never that…all kinds of self-doubt started to sink in. I’ve done a couple of fondos over the past few years, and have gone on a solid amount of long / lots of climbing rides, but BWR is a completely different beast…what made me think I could finish this thing? I started looking for reassurance anywhere I could find it, which lead me to the above quote. I wrote it on a post-it note and kept it in my pocket all week. I wanted to try to keep a healthy perspective on this thing: it’s not as if I had any delusions of being at the pointy end, so what was I so worried about? My goal was to finish…ideally before they stopped serving beer (start and finish was at the Lost Abbey brewery in San Marcos). I wanted to focus on my strengths and be competent everywhere else, which meant limiting my time at 0mph in the dirt. “Never mistake a single defeat for a final defeat.” If I crashed, or had to unclip, or had to get off the bike and run through a section…that would be ok! I would do whatever it took, get back on the bike and get those damn pedals turning again. No matter how many times I had to rinse and repeat, I wanted to remind myself that a final defeat was only possible if I allowed it to be.

 

The week of the race itself, my girlfriend and I drove down to San Marcos on Friday morning. We decided to make a mini-vacation out of it and I wanted to leave plenty of time to handle any bike-related issues (in the event I forgot something, something broke, etc.). We stayed at the Lakehouse Hotel in San Marcos, which was a sponsor this year. The hotel itself was very nice and everyone we interacted with was very helpful. My one complaint would be that there seemed to be a bit of a miscommunication between the hotel event-planning staff. BWR is a massive event with over 1,000 riders across all categories. The Lakehouse was a title sponsor and the only hotel sponsor. Why, then, would the hotel have their usual “summer concert series” take place Saturday night, on the eve of the big race? There was a big stage and full concert sound setup on the hotel grounds, not far at all from the rooms themselves. With so many BWR participants staying at the hotel, did they not think the noise would be an issue? Breakfast at BWR started at 5am, with the official start happening at 7am for the Pros and everyone else departing by 7:15 or so at the latest. With that sort of early morning, and with such a massive day ahead, did the hotel staff not think that a lot of people would probably be trying to get to sleep pretty early? I tried to go to sleep by 9pm. I fell asleep briefly but was woken up by the concert noise and lots of loud, drunk concert-goers. I ultimately called the hotel front desk to complain at about 10:50pm. I was told that their “quiet hours” were from 10pm onward, so…what was I missing? I didn’t end up getting to sleep until around 11:30 - not the best way to go into such a big event, especially with nerves running high. Throughout the day on Sunday, in talking to lots of other riders, I learned that I wasn’t the only one to have complained to the hotel about this.

In any event, since we got down to San Marcos on Friday, I had time to go for an easy shakeout on Saturday morning before heading to the expo to pick up my race packet. The pictures above are from that ride. I took an easy spin from San Marcos out to Carlsbad and up the coast to Oceanside and back. I stopped in Carlsbad Village along the way and got an espresso and donut from The Goods, a shop I would definitely recommend!

 
Probably thinking…what the hell did I get myself into? Time for some waffles!

Probably thinking…what the hell did I get myself into? Time for some waffles!

Finally we get to the morning of the race. It was all smiles as we parked and headed to the expo for some waffles. I was feeling confident in my legs, confident in my bike setup, confident in my ability to finish this thing…but also nervous as all hell. I chalk this up to the fact that this was going to be my first BWR as well as my first race - what the hell was I thinking?? For those who don’t know, BWR is a unique event to the extent that everyday punters like me are out there with World Tour Pro riders. Well, that isn’t technically true, since once the Pros start, there’s literally zero chance someone like me would see them again…but it’s “technically true” that we’re all out there on the course at the same time. I may be wrong about this, but BWR isn’t “technically” a race, but it’s also not “technically” a fondo. To be sure, the vast majority of people out there are racing full gas all day. There are others, like me, who are just trying to finish the beast. I think I let my inexperience takeover and my nerves get the best of me, but in the end it was a valuable lesson learned. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Believe that you belong to be there!

 
My bike, the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX.

My bike, the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX.

Another unique aspect of BWR is the fact that many people will choose different bike / tire combinations. Peter Stetina said in one of his post-race interviews that, based on their gear selections, everyone will have an advantage at one point in the race and be at a disadvantage at another point. If you go with a pure road bike setup on 25mm or 28mm slick tires, you’ll be fast on the road but will need superior bike handling skills to keep it up in the sand and avoid disaster when smashing through rock gardens. On the other end of the spectrum, if you go with a gravel or even mountain bike, paired with bigger / knobbier tires, you’ll make easier work of the challenging dirt sections, but you’ll also be slower on the road. Keep in mind that despite the fact that the dirt sections of BWR are very challenging, they only represent a fraction of the overall race.

In the end I decided to go with the only bike I own: a 2018 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8.0 with Ultegra Di2. For tires, I went with Panaracer Gravel King 32mm clinchers. Not tubeless? Well, I learned that these wheels (Mavic Cosmics) and these particular 32mm Gravel Kings are actually both tubeless compatible. That said, I’ve never run a tubeless set up so was nervous to try something new, thinking I’d find myself in the middle of nowhere with no clue how to help myself. As luck would have it, I didn’t get a single flat! I double-flatted at one of the recon rides, so I guess I had already gotten them out of my system. I was so nervous that I’d double- or triple-flat that I even electrical taped two extra tubes to my frame. Hubbard style? You bet your ass! But I was happy to know they were there in case I needed them (or in case anyone else did, for that matter).

My amateur take-away after the event was that you don’t need any more bike than this. The Canyon Ultimate has served me well over the course of many long days in the saddle (I’ve done a fair amount of 100-mile rides and even a 200-mile ride for good measure) - initially I thought about getting the Endurace, but I’m glad I went with the Ultimate because it provides all the comfort I could want while still letting me get into an aggressive position.

As far as the tires, I’ve been riding 28mm Gravel King clinchers since January and have really like them a lot. They’re great on the road and have served me well across all types of dirt. About a month or so before BWR, I ordered a new pair in 32mm purely out of curiosity because I wasn’t sure if the Ultimate frame would have enough clearance. I haven’t taken the time to measure what the 32mm tires actually blow up to on these Mavic wheels (which only have a 19mm internal width, unfortunately), but there’s plenty of clearance both front and rear and I’ve run them anywhere between 70-80psi.

I decided to go with the 32mm tires for BWR and I ran them at a little below 75psi.

 
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Ah, the rollout. Given that this was on Cinco de Mayo, BWR actually brought in a mariachi band to play as we set off for the day. You can hear them in the little clip above (see me wave to my girlfriend?). The first 10 miles or so of the race make up the neutral rollout. This was my first mistake. I was in the third wave and a lot of people were taking it pretty slow out the gate. I puttered along myself, happy to cruise at an easy pace and not really thinking much of it. A big fear of mine was that I’d start out too strong and end up bonking before the end of the day, and this played into how I took those first 10 miles. Looking back on it now, I know that I could have fairly easily put some distance between myself and a lot of people around me before that first dirt section, and that it wouldn’t have cost me very much energy-wise. I really wish I had done this, because the first dirt section started off at a near-single-track width and immediately got backed up as we all created a bottleneck. I kid you not, there was a line of maybe 40-50 of us just walking our bikes through a fair portion of that first dirt section because things had gotten so backed up. Needless to say, this wasn’t really the start I was after and I think would be a pretty easy way to make up some time next year.

From that point on, what can I say? It was a long day on the bike and would be much more than anyone would want to read if I tried to recount everything I experienced along the way. So in the interest of brevity I’ll try to limit this to a few summary points below.

  1. This was a fucking awesome event and an experience I won’t soon forget. BWR was extremely well organized, executed and supported throughout. From informational emails prior to the race, to the event expo, to the volunteers and everything/everyone in between, this is an absolute top-notch event. I never once had to use the turn-by-turn on my Wahoo because the signs and volunteers along the entire course were perfect. I never once thought that I may have taken a wrong turn. I was never short on food or drink because the feed zones were perfectly placed. I knew WHEN the next feed zone was coming up because the race gave everyone a badass top tube sticker. There were photographers all along the course to take pictures and volunteers at key points to ring cowbells and cheer you on. There was a big waffle breakfast. There was plenty of beer afterward. What more could you want? I felt like my $200 registration fee was well-spent and I felt taken care of by the race organizers. To me, that goes a long way.

  2. Everyone I met was awesome, confirming my belief that bike people are the best people (scientifically proven). I met a few Pros, I met a few celebrities (shout out to Vegan Cyclist), I met a lot of freaky-strong amateurs and a lot of punters like me. Everyone, without fail, was awesome. No attitudes, no bullshit. No aggression, no fuck-you-outta-my-way. People were encouraging, people offered tubes, people checked on those who crashed and stayed with them if need be. People offered food, jokes and drafts. It was such a great day. From start to finish, I tried to say at least one thing to every person or group I passed. “Don’t you love doing 300 watts and going 5mph?” as we climbed a particularly steep section. “I think we’ve still got a chance to win this thing, come on, you and I will reel them back in!” to this lady I passed somewhere around the 60 mile mark. I love talking to people and trying to offer up some humor or encouragement because I’ve gotten that from so many people myself. It’s a huge part of what makes cycling so special to me. And I think it’s a huge part of what makes BWR such a great event: the people.

  3. I thought I had ridden enough dirt and I was 100% wrong. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. The race organizers are crystal clear about what this monster entails. They tell you well in advance, they tell you again, then they tell you a few more times. I was listening, I just underestimated what it would take to get through the course with a semi-competitive time. Fitness-wise, I felt great and wasn’t bothered by the distance or the elevation gain. I knew I’d be able to handle that much. I felt strong on the road and found myself pulling different groups, only to drop them, bridge to the next group, and repeat. This was really encouraging and contributed in a big way to my confidence throughout the day. But, yeah…about that dirt. “Dirt” doesn’t really capture the essence of what you face at BWR. The various dirt sections are a big mix of hard-packed fire roads, gnarly rock gardens, tight single track, steep climbs and steep descents…and SAND. Lots…and lots…and lots…of sand. Every single dirt section featured quite a bit of sand, it was only a question of how much. Some parts were minimal, others were deep enough that you had to get off the bike (at least I did…). I felt competent through a lot of the dirt, but competent is far from competitive, and I was, shall we say, grasping for competency when the sand got deep. I had two minor crashes, both in the sand (once climbing, once descending, once on the left, once on the right - have to keep things even, right?). I don’t think that it was my 32mm tire choice that set me back in these sections, because there were plenty of people in my general talent category on similar setups who just crushed me. All I can say is that I flat out need more practice in the dirt in order to be competitive and that this will be a major focus for next year. Too often I found myself gaining lots of time on the road, only to give it all back in the dirt.

  4. BWR 2019 was a major victory. Did I win? Yeah…not so much. Hell, I don’t even think I finished in the top 50% overall. And as hard as it is for me to say this, that’s ok. By that I mean that I’m typically hard on myself to a fault. I deal with a lot of anxiety, self-doubt and insecurity. That was a big part of what motivated me to register for BWR in the first place. It was big, crazy-hard and scary. It would require me to learn a new discipline (the dirt). I would need to train for months in advance and manage my efforts in order to avoid burning out. This was the only cycling-related thing I’ve undertaken that I wasn’t sure I could actually finish. I stressed myself out to no end and said that if I ended up not finishing I’d have to return the BWR kit I pre-ordered. I told myself I had to earn it. In the end, I think I did. It was an incredible day on the bike, but more importantly, going through this whole process taught me a lot about myself as a person. I’m stronger and more confident in my abilities than when I started. I’ve proven to myself that I can tackle something daunting if I put my mind to it. I’ve reminded myself of the importance of trying to keep a healthy perspective on the ups and downs, the highs and lows of everyday life. In that sense, BWR really is a microcosm of life itself, and the value of going through the entire experience is far greater than the sum of the constituent pieces. So, as I said, this was a major victory for me.

    Now how about some BWR 2020 PRs?

 
Waffles for breakfast with Drew. This would be the last time I saw him all day (he placed 25th overall).

Waffles for breakfast with Drew. This would be the last time I saw him all day (he placed 25th overall).

Done and dusted. The sweat tells the story!

Done and dusted. The sweat tells the story!

Keeping those tan lines crispy. And yes, of course white socks are the only choice for BWR!

Keeping those tan lines crispy. And yes, of course white socks are the only choice for BWR!


BWR 2019 DONE AND DUSTED!

You’re probably thinking…yeah…two weeks ago! So, here’s my cool story. Work was slammed the week after BWR, then I was out of town for a wedding, and work has been slammed again this week, so I just haven’t had time yet to put together my summary of the experience that was L’ENFER DU NORD.

For anyone interested, please check back by Sunday evening (19 May) and I’ll have something up by then.

Suffice it to say, BWR was a truly incredible experience and probably the most fun I’ve ever had on the old pedal machine. Extremely well organized, executed and supported throughout, this event did not disappoint. As I came down off of the anxiety and adrenaline high the week after the event, all I could think about was everything I learned throughout the entire process, from the training starting in January to the event itself, both about the beautiful sport of cycling and also, more importantly, about myself as a person.

Oh yeah, and all of the really incredible, badass people I met along the way!

Check back soon and I’ll try to put it all in words.

BWR 2020, anyone?

Strava or it didn’t happen.

 

 
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15 Apr 2019. 3 weeks to go.

What a week! I finished off this past week with 16 hours in the saddle, 268 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing - up a bit from the week prior, which was more or less a rest week at 12 hours of mainly smaller efforts. But, in addition to a solid training week, yesterday (Sunday) was my birthday. Same day as Paris Roubaix…coincidence? I think not. (Oh, and that Game of Thrones show everyone seems to be talking about…)

I had a great birthday and also got a very welcome surprise:

 
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This is my first power meter. Obviously, this comes a bit late in the game to be of any use with respect to power-based training leading up to BWR, but even after only a few rides with it (and not knowing anything about how to train with a power meter) I’m already seeing a lot of utility. Specifically, looking at my 3-second average power over the past few rides has shown me just how much I tend to surge! I know that this will be a great tool to the extent that it helps me pace my efforts. I’ll also be looking at Kj (total work) numbers so that I can try to stay on top of my food and drink intake. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to learning how to use the power meter throughout the rest of this year and hopefully breaking through some plateaus with the introduction of some proper training! I’ve already purchased a couple of Joe Friel’s books so will look forward to digging into those after BWR.

On to the weekend training rides…

On Saturday I went out solo on one of my preferred weekend routes, but pushed the a bit relative to what I’ve done in previous weeks, spending more time in my Zone 3 tempo heart rate:

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On Sunday, I did the weekly Nichols ride and made it a back-to-back day of climbing PRs:

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I wasn’t feeling great to start the ride as my legs were pretty tight from Saturday’s effort. Once I got to Mulholland, though, I was able to slot in with a strong group and finished the ride stronger than I started it. I finished the ride with an easy spin down to the ocean and back to try to cool down properly.

I almost can’t believe I’m writing this, but this week is now my last opportunity for a high volume week before BWR itself! I’m going to shoot for another 15+ hour week this week, then will be cutting back pretty significantly on the overall volume leading up to BWR. Sunday April 28th will see the last BWR recon ride, which I’m planning on doing…then it will officially be the one-week countdown!

Training for BWR has been a wild ride thus far. Before the middle of December, I had not ridden in the dirt at all since I was in high school (and at that point it was on a cross country mountain bike). Learning to ride my road bike with 28mm tires in the dirt has been a really fun experience - and definitely challenging. While I’m far from an expert in the dirt, I can see that I’ve gotten much more competent and at this point and feeling confident in my ability to survive the various dirt sections that BWR will throw at me.

With respect to the overall training volume, I’m feeling good about my chances of surviving the 140 mile, 12,000 feet of climbing course. There’s no way around the fact that it’s going to be a brutal day out on the bike, but I’m feeling good about my prospects of getting across the finish line before sundown :) I made some good progress in January, then saw a lot of February and March impacted by all the rain we got. Luckily, though, I’ve been able to rebound and have found that consistent training schedule. I’ve read over and over how important consistency is when it comes to finishing a big event like this, so here’s hoping that holds true!


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1 Apr 2019. 5 weeks to go.

5 weeks to go. It’s definitely becoming real now!

I neglected to update this post last week as I didn’t have anything particularly interesting to add. Unfortunately, weather struck again and the Lobster Ride was canceled. I’ve heard that it’s going to be rescheduled, likely for sometime early this month, but I haven’t seen a new date set at this point.

Instead of the Lobster ride, I ended up getting local rides in on Saturday (Mar 23) and Sunday (Mar 24). Saturday ended up being a little over 5 hours in the saddle, with 82 miles and about 7,200 feet of elevation gain. I ended up getting a PR on Fernwood, one of our local canyon climbs, and my legs felt good overall. On Sunday I did the weekly Nichols group ride, for 32 miles and 2,200 feet of elevation in about 2 hours of saddle time.

This past week (beginning Monday Mar 25), I knew I was leading up to the first BWR Recon Ride, which I mentioned a few weeks ago. It was originally scheduled for Saturday Mar 9, but was canceled due to weather and was rescheduled for this past Sunday (Mar 31). I knew this would be a hard day out for me (my first official taste of various sections of the BWR course), so I took it fairly easy throughout the week.

Monday (Mar 25) I went out for a Zone 1 / Zone 2 ride, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Tuesday (Mar 26) I went out for a little over 4 hours, with 60% of that time being Zone 2, 20% Zone 1 and 20% Zone 3. I got about 60 miles with 5,000 feet of climbing, with a little dirt thrown in for good measure. Overall this was a very easy-pace ride and I felt good managing my heart rate zones. Wednesday (Mar 27) I went out for another 1.5 hours, with an average heart rate for the ride at 132, which is low Zone 2 for me. This ride was 80% Zone 2, 20% Zone 1. Thursday (Mar 28) I went out for about 1 hour 45 minutes and did a little bit of easy climbing, with about 75% Zone 2, 20% Zone 1, and 5% tempo effort. Friday (Mar 29) was a 2 hour coffee ride, with 60% Zone 2 effort, 40% Zone 1. Very easy week overall, but I felt good managing my heart rate zones. I was also trying to get plenty of sleep throughout the week. Finally, I didn’t have any alcohol at all, which I credit with boosting the quality of my sleep and overall recovery.

Then we get to the weekend. On Saturday, I wanted to open the legs up a bit in preparation for Sunday’s BWR recon ride. I overslept a bit (probably a good thing) and missed the group ride start, so I headed out solo. In the end, I was out for 4 hours 20 minutes, with 74 miles and about 5,300 feet of elevation gain. My average heart rate for the ride was 160, which is the top of my Zone 2. Here’s the total breakdown for the ride:

 
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With a majority (about 50%) tempo effort overall, and a small amount (10%) of threshold effort, I felt good about the ride and my prospects for Sunday. I knew Sunday would be hard, so I opted not to throw in an additional climb on Saturday, which would have put me over the 5 hour mark for the day and probably would have been more volume that I could have handled.

That brings us to Sunday. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting go into this ride, but suffice it to say that there were some real hammerheads in the group! Seriously strong riders. In other words, do not confuse “rekkie” with “reco”!

It was a hot day out (about 80 degrees, though we did have a bit of a breeze) and the vast majority of the course is exposed, so there was plenty of sunburn and salt-soaked helmet straps. This was my first time riding any of these roads and it was definitely challenging. I was told by a few people that this route was essentially the entire Wafer course, minus the Double Peak climb. (The Belgian Waffle Ride offers two different routes: the longer Waffle course and the shorter Wafer course.) Here’s the breakdown:

 
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This was definitely a challenging ride, but honestly, I felt great overall. I experienced a little bit of everything out there: 2 crashes (went down twice in sand sections, once to my left and once to my right - just wanted to even things out!), 2 flats (front flat descending a fast, steep road section - counting my blessings on that one as I was able to save it; rear slow-leak in the last 10 miles or so, which I was able to ride back to Canyon without changing), headwind efforts trying to bridge gaps, riding through a water-crossing, steep dirt climbs, steep road climbs…you name it, this ride had it. All of that said, I was able to keep this to a majority (46%) Zone 2 effort.

Sunday’s ride capped off a big week for me: 20 hours 17 minutes of riding, 316 miles, 17,818 feet of climbing. Under 18,000 feet of climbing really isn’t all that much for the volume of riding I did, but given that this was my first 300+ mile week in quite a long time, I’m more than happy with the numbers.

It’s really coming down to crunch time now as we really only have a few weeks left to get in quality volume. At this point, I’m thinking that my last week of high volume training will be the week ending April 21 (Easter weekend). After that, I’ll probably start winding down to lower volume weeks overall as I start to taper leading up to BWR itself (which takes place on Cinco de Mayo). It will be really important for me not to burn myself out over the next few weeks - in other words, really prioritizing recovery, quality sleep, managing heart rate zones, quality nutrition, avoiding alcohol, etc.

That said, I’m feeling good at this point. Let’s keep it going! DAMN this is fun.


18 Mar 2019. 7 weeks to go.

I spent the weekend nursing the slight calf strain I’ve been feeling since last week. I got in a decent effort on Saturday, with 3.5 hours and 4,200 feet of climbing. I felt fine generally, but toward the end of the ride I started to get some tightness in the calf again. I stretched out and foam rolled after the ride and ultimately just decided to take a rest day on Sunday.

My best guess as to how the calf strain came about is the fact that my riding has been so up-and-down recently because of the rains we’ve been experiencing here. Looking back at the last month, you can see this pretty clearly:

Last week: 9 hours / 147 miles / 7,267 feet of climbing

Two weeks ago: 15 hours / 222 miles / 16,975 feet of climbing

Three weeks ago: 7.5 hours / 117 miles / 6,234 feet of climbing

Four weeks ago: 16 hours 45 mins / 243 miles / 17,776 feet of climbing

Not exactly the consistency I would have hoped for. But I’m hoping that this week will prove to be a solid reset.

Today (Monday) I took another rest day. I’m looking forward to some easy-pace rides Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, getting some climbing in and also getting back out on the dirt at least one of those days. I will probably join the weekly Wednesday dirt ride this week. Friday will likely be the standard leisurely coffee ride. Then on Saturday I’m looking forward to the big Lobster Ride.

 
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This will be a big day in the saddle and my first big ride since January 21 when I did 92 miles / 10,450 feet of climbing. I’m looking to do this ride at whatever sort of endurance pace I can muster. With only 7 weeks until BWR, I’m looking forward to getting a sense of how my legs feel during such a long day out. Luckily, it shouldn’t be too hot, but obviously eating and drinking will play a big role in the success of the day. I’m sure there will be plenty of heavy hitters out there hammering the pace, but I’ll try to pace myself well and find evenly-matched groups along the way.

In other news, the BWR podcast had a great episode last week on tire selection for the big day. They spoke with the folks at IRC tires. Here’s a link to the podcast in case you missed it:

IRC also put together this really helpful infographic breaking down their tire recommendations for all types of riders. They discuss tire selection for the rider who expects to be at the front of the race, the rider who thinks they’re in way over their head and isn’t sure if they can finish the event, and everyone in between:

 
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11 Mar 2019. 8 weeks to go.

The fire damage in the Santa Monica mountains has created some eerie scenes. This was taken looking down at the homes around Malibou Lake.

The fire damage in the Santa Monica mountains has created some eerie scenes. This was taken looking down at the homes around Malibou Lake.

Another week in the books. Unfortunately, the first official BWR Recon ride which was scheduled for this past Saturday was canceled due to the ongoing rains we’ve been having in Southern California. While there wasn’t any new rain this past weekend, the good folks at BWR decided it was best to keep the training for the weekend to the tarmac in order to preserve the trails and let them dry out. Definitely the right decision, but still disappointing - I was really looking forward to getting down there and getting my first taste of the official course! Now, unless I can make it down there sooner, I’ll have to wait for the second recon ride, scheduled for Sunday March 31.

Luckily, though, it wasn’t a wasted weekend as I was able to get a couple of good training rides in. On Saturday I got in 70 solo miles with 6,000 feet of climbing along the way. I was hoping to keep it more or less at a Zone 2 / Zone 3 pace, so I think I did alright with the following breakdown for the day:

 
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After 4.5 hours in the saddle on Saturday, and having lacked real consistency lately due to the continuing rains we’ve had, I opted for a recovery ride on Sunday. I kept Sunday to about 2.5 hours at a very easy pace:

 
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All in, that put my at 15 hours, 222 miles, 16,975 feet for the week. Not a bad training block.

On the downside, I did start to feel a very slight pull behind my right knee yesterday. I tried to stretch it out and foam roll a bit, but am still experiencing the tightness this morning (Monday). I slept in this morning and took a rest day, so am hoping that an easy ride tomorrow will help loosen the muscles up. I’m guessing that it was a bit of an over-use injury due to my general up-and-down consistency week-to-week lately.


4 Mar 2019. 9 weeks to go.

I can’t believe it’s already March. Time really does fly.

We were supposed to have had our first official BWR Recon ride this past week, but it was rescheduled due to rain and will now be taking place this Saturday (9 March).

The BWR Recon rides, scheduled to coincide with the Spring Classics, should be a great way to get a feel for different sections of the race route itself as well as to get insider tips on training and gear from various BWR veterans.

Here’s the route for this Saturday:

This past weekend was rained out, so unfortunately I didn’t get any time on the bike. I did go to a workout class with my girlfriend on Saturday morning and it kicked my ass. The studio is called LIT Method and it focuses on using the water rower, TRX straps and lots of core work. I’m still sore a few days later after using all those muscles that I don’t typically use on the bike. I’m going to try to mix in a handful of these cross-training days in the lead-up to BWR.

This morning I had hoped to get some dirt riding in, but unfortunately the trails were still too wet / muddy from the rain this past weekend. In the end I did Paseo Miramar and Bienvenida, two short climbs in the Pacific Palisades area. Paseo Miramar is a little over 1 mile long with an average grade of 9%, but has a couple short sections that kick up to around 20%.

Morning light from the top of Paseo Miramar.

Morning light from the top of Paseo Miramar.

I’ve been trying to do a lot more steep climbs so far this year in anticipation of the infamous Double Peak climb at mile 120 of BWR. Here’s Ted King’s time from BWR 2018:

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Latha DuncanComment