Good PSA to check your brakes and nerding out slightly with data! – MBAA Lake Havasu Race

Below is some data from a race I had 2 weeks ago. I had some brake caliper/pad issues less then 12 hours from my race start and had to scramble to get a new rear brake pad setup. A local shop in Lake Havasu sold me the incorrect brake pads that were just a slight bit too thick for my break setup (didn’t notice till after the race when I got home and had to sand down the brake material to get the pads to not rub). In the end I didn’t have time to correct it and raced anyways knowing I had a bit of drag.

I was leading the race with good legs for the 1st 2 laps with a 3 minute gap on the 2nd place guy and flatted. However, my legs felt DRAINED at the end of the race even after flatting for a 2nd time and finishing out in 9th place. Low and behold, my meter on the bike told the whole story, I was losing nearly 60 watts per pedal the whole race from my dragging brake. Left side shows the 1st main climb and then the whole race course with math calculated power numbers based on rider weight, bike and a few other variables. Right side shows the same segments but what my power meter was reading. I averaged 332 (4.45 watts/kg) watts for the 1st 20 minutes of the race, however by math I only averaged 250 watts (3.34 watts/kg). In the end, my brake cost me nearly 1,000 extra calories (same as riding for an extra 1.1hrs) and 15-20 minutes of total time for the race.

CheckyobrakepadsYO

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“Mush”

Little back-story to the title “Mush”.

Thanks to my mother, growing up I had a very limited diet.  I was a “vegetarian” by default till I was 17 or 18.  Not because of any health benefits or feeling sorry for animals, I just had no desire to eat meat as it was never in my diet growing up.  Food, at the time, wasn’t a focus and was only a bi product to sustain me.  For the most part, I ate a total of 10 different combination of meals MAX till my 1st year of college.  My dinners for years (think 6+) was a plate of plain pasta with butter and a side of mixed veggies (frozen kind with corn, peas and carrots).  This would be every night, week after week, year after year.  Before my years of pasta and butter it was mashed potatoes with mixed veggies.  Both of these meals would be cooked on Sunday night in bulk and heated in the microwave throughout the week.  The only variation in the meal was the occasional french fry meal (remember, I didn’t eat meat) on Friday or Saturday night.  From vivid memories, I would get to pick my fast food location for the best french fries and order ONLY that!  Mush, as it would become would actually be my sustaining balanced food source for nearly my whole childhood.  If you can imagine, I was damn healthy growing up, not an ounce of body fat, no sugar at all, very minimal salt intake, and on the lower end of weight for my age and height.

Now, for the first 18 years of my life I ate the same morning meal, nicknamed by myself and people that knew me as “mush”.  Mainly because when mixed up, it looks like something you might feed your pig.  Just a bunch of ingredients that shouldn’t be put together, let alone heated up and then eaten!  This meal, 25 years ago, before mixology shakes, kale morning mixes, etc was a crazy concept.  Somewhere in the country side of Ireland (I was born there but moved away when I was 6) my mother conjured up this mix of fruits and cereal for her growing children.  Trying to get picky me to eat anything that wasn’t potatoes (Irish, come on now!) or pancakes was a challenge.  My mother was a genius for this!

Recently I’ve recently started making Mush when I have free time in the mornings.  For sustained energy it pretty much has it all.  AND the kicker, it seriously tastes amazing!

Here is the run down on Mush:

1 Kiwi Fruit – Peeled
1 Full Banana
Approx. 1 Cup of Bran Flakes (I used the Kroger brand, super cheap)
1 Cup of Milk (I use 1% Milk but can use any varience you’d like)
1 Hardboiled Egg (I use just the egg whites as I don’t really like the yoke part)
2 Tablespoons of wheatgerm (originally added in by my mother to get wholegrains in my diet)

Simple instructions:

Step 1: Peel that kiwi, not sure who would really want to try and eat that skin.  Chop it up into a few smaller pieces.  Take your banana and do the same, smaller pieces work the best
Step 2: Mash it all up so it looks like baby food as seen in picture below
Step 3: Add in your Bran Flakes, wheatgerm and milk.  Make sure to mix and mash as best as possible.  Easiest to let it sit for a few minutes to let the Bran Flakes soak up the milk and make them mushy
Step 4: Hardboil your egg (8-10 minutes on boil, cool with cold water)
Step 5: Take your mash and heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes, once heated, add in your peeled hardboiled egg and mash some more
Step 6:  Let cool and enjoy your life sustaining super healthy and energy packed breakfast!!!

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Mush!

7 days on the Road

Set the stage, I’m two weeks into one of the hardest classes I’ve taken to date (which happened to be Spanish 101).  I’m already at minimum, 5 hrs into studying and memorizing an ungodly amount of Spanish words, when my mind starts wondering….  This crazy idea pops into my head (normally big life changing things happen when I have crazy ideas) that seemed like the perfect fit.  Taking 30 minutes off my daily 7 hr Spanish study session, I planned out an epic 5+ day mountain and road biking excursion! Btw, ended up rocking a solid B on my accelerated Spanish course, not knowing a lick of Spanish starting on day one.  Word of advice, don’t take a 4 week, 4 day a week for 4 hr Spanish class in the summer session if you don’t know any Spanish.  When the teacher said you’d spend 2 hrs for every hour of class, she wasn’t joking.

I ended up traveling for 7 days across 5 states, traveling for 5-6 hrs each day and riding at least 2-4hrs at each city. It would start and end in Tucson but span over 2k miles of driving, peaking at 14k feet and encompass just about every epic trail and trail system the west of the Mississippi.   All packed and ready to headed out I set off with a car loaded with 3 bikes (2 mtb and road bike) all my food and camping for at least 7 days.  The only concrete plans when leaving were Grand Junction at some point in the trip to pre-ride the Epic Rides Grand Junction Offroad Course.  Outside of that I was winging it.  Coming into each city I had no plans or even sleeping arrangement made.  I tried to camp as much as possible but showers were needed a few days.  Remember, all of this was done solo which is what I wanted.

Day 1: Tucson Road Ride and Flagstaff (WET ride down Shutlz, 2nd time this has happened to me), drove onto Moab, found an awesome camping stop (seen below) in the pitch dark.  Set up my tent for the 1st time ever with an empty stomach and car headlights

Day 2: Moab Slickrock and Outbike trails and onto Grand Junction

Day 3: Pre-Road Grand Junction Course and decided while on the interstate Denver was my next destination, only after researching did I realize it was only 4.5 hrs away.  The drive to Denver was awesome, driving on interstate i70 through the rookies should be done by everyone at some point, it’s even better in an Audi 🙂 Spent 2 hrs researching a good hotel to stay in, ended up picking on that was right on the start of a bike path

Day 4: 40 + mile road ride on bikepaths in Denver to clear my sore legs, didn’t even get to touch the surface of the riding in Denver.  Weather was perfect!  Coming from the hot Tucson temps, it maxed out at 65 degree on the ride.  Next destination was set for Crested Butte, knew it was time for some “real” Colorado epicness.  Needed to escape the city though after being in smaller citys for so long.  I set out of Crested Butte.  The drive out was almost better then the riding in Denver, seeing the changing weather and Colorado landscape is just breathtaking.  Too bad it gets so damn cold in the winter.

Day 5: Crested Butte, CO, came into down before dark, drove down a random forest road to come up on the most epic camping stop to date.  Rode in the morning a few trails I had researched before leaving, they were so epic!  Crested Butte is in another world too.  The riding was so good I bacon’ed up after my 1st ride and went for another epic MTB ride.  This would end up being the highlighted trail of the trip.  Epic Jeep road climbing that never stopped, with the most amazing downhill that seems to never stop.

Day 6: Durango, CO , decided to not camp this day, ended up riding the Colorado Trail out to the high point and back.  I WILL be going back to Durango, what an awesome town and trails!  The road leading into Durango was just unreal.  5 hrs in the car seemed like nothing having to white knuckle the mountain passes.  I’m a confident driver but seeing no guard rail and huge warnings for 25MPH speed limit put me in my place.  Still made good time and passed 100’s of cars, Audi loved the high altitude and cold temps.  Feeling the need to get back home, I headed for Flag after my Durango ride.

Day 7: Flagstaff, AZ  Wanted to try out my luck at Shutz Pass again.  My legs were feeling sore from all the high altitude riding but I was at *only* 7k feet in Flag.  An early morning Dunkin Donut trip and I was out on the trail.  I finally got a clean run up Shutlz, with no hikers and no rain!  I had Colorado legs too and Pr’d and KOM’ed like a boss.  Might be something to all these elite athletes trailing at altitude….

Some of my best highlights of the trip.

Camping 50 Miles outside Moab
Camping 50 Miles outside Moab

In Moab I rode the classic Slickrock trail.  Bar none, this was the most taxing ride out of everything I did on the trip.  Holy cow does the slickrock have traction!  Never would I have thought you could make it up some of those steep inclines.  Low and behold, after chatting with some locals, they actually don’t head straight up but make their own switchbacks.  Geez, wish I would have known that before hand so it didn’t seem so damn hard!  The view’s their were epic!

Most Epic Climbing to Date, Peaked at 11.5k Ft
Most Epic Climbing to Date, Peaked at 11.5k Ft

The Audi with all 3 bikes ontop and only a single driver.  Went places a lowered Audi shouldn’t go!

Crested Butte, CO Climbing up to the Downhill course
Crested Butte, CO Climbing up to the Downhill course

Didn’t see a single other rider going UP to the ski lift point, I wonder why 🙂

Most Epic Climbing to Date, Peaked at 11.5k Ft
Most Epic Climbing to Date, Peaked at 11.5k Ft

Low and behold, I rode the start of the Big Mountain Enduro crested Butte challenge.  Did the up and down on my little 27.5 hardtail!  Rode nearly everything!

Lunch Loops, Start of the Grand Junction Offroad Race
Lunch Loops, Start of the Grand Junction Offroad Race
Back at Home on AZT
Back at Home on AZT

A Peloton – In a nutshell, it’s like life

So I’ve been road riding for little over a year and half.  Started riding with a camel back, white T-shirt and a jacked up fit.  Every ride would suck.  Why would anyone want to ride ON THE ROAD for miles and miles on end?  Cars, gas, diesel, drivers cig smoke, hurt legs, the list can go on.  When I looked in my garage, I had these sweet bikes that have big fluffy tires, awesome suspension, and pedals.  So much enjoyment sitting on the couch seat of the mountain bike.  BUT I purchased the road bike to make mountain biking easier so I had to do it.  This stupid basic triangle with wheels, as I was told, was a better training tool then anything you could get from mountain biking.  Fast forward a year….

October time, weather is changing, my good friend Jay keeps talking up this awesome group ride that has been going on continually for over 35 years.  My appreciate for road biking was changing from just a few months prior.  As a training tool it was becoming invaluable.  Short rides, longer rides, you name it they were being done on the road bike.  The more I pedaled the easier it was to go 10, 15, 40 + miles!  The shootout was on my mind and I wanted to tackle it.  Leading up I had very limited time in larger group rides.  I had been road riding pretty consistently for months and my fitness had improved in a very short amount of time.  Setting the stage, I was damn ready to show up and stomp the “competition” and show what a mountain biker can do!  Boy was I wrong, I had read a few article and studied the ride and ride times prior.  Hell, how hard can a ride with a 1% grade for less then 45 minutes be?  Analyzing my estimated power numbers now, I was doomed for failure.  For a road rider, a power to weight ratio is key.  There is a threshold when in a large group that you have to be able to sustain or you will be dropped.  Speaking of dropped, on said ride I got dropped in less then 30 seconds.  Before I could even think, the group surged and I was left in the dust.  I was unprepared at the time for the amount of power and threshold that was needed to keep up with a group of riders that can drop pros in the winter time.  Wake up time for Little Bryan, 171 watts wasn’t going to cut it!

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After my droppage Shootout I got serious.  I paid for a professional fit on bike, upgraded a few components on the bike and kept going out every 4-5 weeks as the training fit in.  Once I could make it around and stay with the group I started to appreciate the power of the peloton.  A peloton, as seen in almost all group rides and races, from cat 5 to stages races, takes the combined efforts and power of many riders to move at a pace and power that is unsustainable for most humans on a bike by themselves.  There are my places you can sit in a peloton.  The front for instance, my favorite for the shootout, where, depending on the day and riders, a few strong riders take turns pulling the group ahead.  Unless your the front pulling man/women, your power (watts) is up to 50% less then the guy “doing the work”.  To relate, on a solo ride up the shootout’s main game on section, I average, solo, on a typical hard effect day MAX 20-21MPH.  This effect would be a threshold ride with a thousand calories burned in less then 45 minutes. However in the peloton, with a few strong efforts and strong sprints near the middle and end, it’s easy to average 23-24 MPH with over 30% less power/calories used.

So the biggest issue with the peloton though is if your a middle sitter with a good power/weight ratio, the amount of effort you use is consistent, with limited surges, however in terms of training, it does nothing for you.  However in life, most people fall into this category and of course not by any fault of their own.  They know their limits, they enjoy their limits and really enjoy the thrill of sustaining stability in their life and riding.  They know if they move to the back, they will get dropped, and if they dared to “take a pull” upfront they would cripple and dropped.  The peloton has no general feelings (well DUH, it’s not a person!) and gives no mercy when things pick up and drop.  Sounds like life a little, ummmmm…..

Now my most recent fav spot in the peloton is the race winner spot.  Road riding in the end is a big ass chess game.  Make your small moves to lead up to your big moves.  The person beside you could be just as strong but are they are strong for 1 minute?  Or maybe they are just a middesiter, even with their shaved legs and greased up skin and arms, they are content with sitting and watching the amateur battle it with the pros.  Now the winner spot is a little bit of everything.  As you would assume, in a race, the 1st shaved leg across the finish line wins.  Hanging out in the back chatting, attacking, recovering and attacking again, that’s my idea of a good shootout and a winner spot.  To be a success in anything really, you do a few moves, see how your opponent reacts and then at the right moment you do your big move.  In the peloton, I sit back, burp a few times, time my drinking, and attacked when I feel it’s necessary.  Sometimes it early, all the time, but in the end it needs to be at the right time.  My said 0-10 minute power/weight is pretty much unmatched by only elite pro’s, you think I might take advantage of this?  You take your best career move, big test, class, whatever, it can all be boiled down to a Saturday shootout with your buddies and a few pro mixed in.  Are you a middlesiter or a race winner?

October 2014, Solo on Shootout Route - Note Average MPH, power and heart rate
October 2014, Solo on Shootout Route – Note Average MPH, power and heart rate

Klimit Mountain and Road Biking Coaching – It takes going slow to go fast

What does it take to go from a casual “fast” rider to an enduranced and fast educated athlete?  For the normal population that has a few extra bucks to spent a month, it’s a well educated coach and training plan.  Step in 2013 and world class Mr. Tim Bolton.  Tim is the owner of Klimit Mountain and Road bike coaching (still have no idea what Klimit means, but maybe that’s the beauty of it) who is also an avid Pro classified mountain biker racer and cat 2 road biker.  His knowledge of racing and training spans almost my lifetime.

I first approached Tim after a brutal physical and mental race in Grand Junction, CO for the inaugural Epic Rides race.  Even though I placed 3rd in my class (7th overall) I felt the gap between my placement and 1st was just so insurmountable that if I wanted to continue to advance my riding I needed help.  Everything happened in that race from bonking, cramping and crashing.  I’ll have to admit, for me to ask for help is pretty huge, I’ve always had the mindset that with enough reading, learning and mistakes you can figure out things on your own.  However with limited time to spend “figuring things out” I choose to contact Tim anyways.  My prior dealings with Tim was very limited, I’d never met him in person and had only seen his killer climbing time occasionally on Strava.

Once completing his assessment and setting some goals we did an all out effort up lemon to get some baseline numbers.  Speaking of  numbers, ummmm numbers (engineer here, love numbers, data, analyzing), they were pretty slow.  Noticing him barely breathing behind me and me about ready to die, put things into perspective, I was slow.  With the road bike and lemon taking out any skill, it makes you focus on fitness and threshold.  I was in good shape relative to how much I was riding and where I had come from but boy did I have a long way to go.

With many ups and downs in only a years time, I have gone from your casual amateur to a strong and well balanced rider, with power to weight ratios that are in the top 1% of every rider on the planet..  Tim has put together weekly plans, sent normally on Sunday’s, that takes your allocated time and makes every interval and rest count.  No BS and everything is structured to benefit your long tern and short term goals.  Biggest thing I’ve taken away from riding with Tim over the last year, it takes alot of slow boring rides to become faster.  I’ll have more on this later too.

Little plug for Tim: http://www.klimitcoaching.com/

Tim and I in his new team kits and the BBBR
Tim and I in his new team kits at the BBBR

13th of Novembre – Epic Fatness

 November 7, 2010 in Florance, Italy with my beautiful future wife!
November 7, 2010 in Florance, Italy with my beautiful future wife!

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Epic fatness.  To me that is what I’d describe this image from late 2010, nearly 4 years from today’s posting.  Prior to riding I never checked my weight, it was of little concern at the time.  At the time I didn’t have a scale, which is crazy to think now as I still check my weight daily.

School, eat, sleep, cars and eat more.  Fried foods, eating out, drinking beer, sleeping in and being just a general lazy ass.  I estimate I was around 240 lbs in this picture, thick everywhere and generally not healthy.  This is and will be the heaviest point in my life.  Looking at the BMI chart I was grossly overweight from my weight and even body type.  My love for riding and being outdoors isn’t even a fiction of my imagination and had no concerns that I was in an overweight whirlwind pool.

Fast forward to recent times, weight is steady at 165lbs.  One of my proudest moments to date, a 1st place finish in a popular late season mountain bike race.  My first 1st place finish in men’s open (normally stacked with all the fast riders) with over a 10 minute spread from the 2nd place finisher.  Everything aligned for this race, which I had been working on and building up to my whole life, with an epic journey the last 4 years.

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Hard earned 4th Place Finish @ Grand Junction Offroad
Hard earned 4th Place Finish @ Grand Junction Offroad