Friday, December 28, 2007

Project Carbon Goodness

The sweet goodness of carbon arrived on Christmas Eve by the gentle, caring hands of Santa (aka UPS Driver) and thus started Project Carbon Goodness (PCG). PCG is the project to develop a sub 20lb XC mountain bike. The project will be directed and engineered by Blue Star Racing. I will provide funding for the project and in no way handle any of the assembly. My main role is sideline encouragement, try not to get in the way and nourishment (I will also bring food for wages).

Are you kidding me?
The frame is disgustingly lightweight, to the point of being a bit scary. I think the scarier part is once this bike is complete it will be too fast for the rider. Combined with its older sister, my current Specialized Epic Carbon FS, I will have two of the faster XC bikes on the market. And let’s be realist, I am in no way worthy of riding either of these bikes. It’s like owning a Ferrari and only being able to drive a VW. A bit pointless, but hey, half the battle is looking good on the trail…right? What’s the other half???

Sick!

The biggest question now is what bike to race at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo? Decisions, decisions…poor me! The race is less than two months away. My training is going very well and I think there is a good chance of finishing top 5 at this race. My teammate for the race, TH, is in limbo for the race and my backup teammate would be my Mafia Racing teammate Travis, but I am still waiting on his confirmation. I am truly lucky to have the opportunity to race with either and hopefully I will have a solid answer soon, so I can stop stressing.

I am not worthy

Until next time…Keep it Fresh!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lady Latte III Ride

This winters training is an absolute blessing compared to last year. I have been dealing with a pesky back issue that has limited my training to biking and lifting, but I am not complaining. I am also not complaining about my recent weekend road rides. This is the first time since living in SoCal in 2004 that I have been able to establish some great base miles in the winter. I plan on building my base for another 5 weeks before I start working on some speed. Although, enough about training and let’s get back to the pertinent information in this blog…the Lady Latte.

The Lady Latte espresso shack is located on Broadway Ave in Snohomish. Andy and I were lucky to stumble upon Lady Latte during our abbreviated Pie Ride. The Pie Ride is a great 4+ hour ride to Snohomish with a pit stop at a Pie Shop in downtown Snohomish. The pie is great, but the espresso at Lady Latte is heavenly. The white foam that covered the brown goodness was light and sweet. The coffee was hot and peaked out from under the soft white foam just enough to allow your taste buds to imagine the sweet beverage before drinking. Once cradles in my hands the latte provided warmth and comfort, but lacked a bit of longevity. The relationship ended as soon as it began and it was back the bike for the cold ride home.

Ride – 4 stars
Coffee – 3.5 stars
Ambiance – 4.5 stars

Monday, November 05, 2007

One Year Anniversary

Today was the one year anniversary of breaking the femoral neck on my left leg falling off my road bike. To say the last year has been difficult would be an understatement. Besides breaking my leg I have been through multiple challenges and although I can not say I grown from each one of these experiences, it has definitely made me appreciate aspects of my life I had previously overlooked. I am looking forward to the end of 2007 and the start of 2008 and a new beginning.

But now, on to more important items. In relationships, it is customary to provide your significant other with paper as a present on your one-year anniversary. Paper? This may take the form of a book, stationary, board games, coupons, etc. Seriously, this is what I have to look forward to if I ever get married. Where do I sign up! Since my body and I have a wonderful relationship, I have decided to buy myself carbon fiber for my one year anniversary, roughly 4.5 lbs. of it. I will post some pictures of my anniversary gift when it arrives in a few weeks.

I think it’s sweet that relationships can survive on the gift of paper, but instead I will save a tree and give the gift of the beautiful composite material of carbon fiber.

Keep on, keeping on!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Stay Puff Marshmellow Man

These past several months I have been feeling very svelte. My weight is at a healthy state, my performance has been pretty good (sans Moab) and I've had a positive attitude. Then I received a photo from the road triathlon a did a month ago in Black Diamond and I look puffy! It may have been the several beers I had at the cross race the night before, but I doubt that could have a such a toll. Man, not the image I wanted to see, especially in my arms which usually provide some level of definition. I don't know, but I better be careful around the camp fire or some kid is going to poke me with a stick, roast me and sandwich me between two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate!



Umpa-lumpa on a bike!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Passed Chris Eatough - 24 Hours of Moab Report

Yes, it's true, I passed Chris Eatough during the 24 Hours of Moab race. However, I should probably include a caveat to this statement...I passed him on my third lap at 7am in the morning, whereas he was probably on his 11th or 12th lap. My total riding time to that point was roughly 4 hours and he was nearing 20 hours on his bike. Yes, I know, pretty impressive. I should be hearing from Trek any day on that 6 figure sponsorship deal!!!!!

I'm not exactly sure how to comment on this race. I was thinking of a Haiku poem or maybe a short story, but since I am pressed for time and my venture back into the corporate world has been a bit taxing I will simply jot down a few numerical statements.

1. The Moab course is challenging! Between the technical riding and the sand riding your mental and physical game is constantly ON!

2. 24 hours of mountain bike racing is brutal. I've done 24 hours in adventure racing and it doesn't seem nearly as challenging. Hell, I only did three laps and I was pretty beat up. I have a new respect for 24 hour soloist. My hat is off to Mr. Hart!

3. I will do a 24 hour race solo!!!

4. My race was a Jekyll and Hyde situation. My technical skills were solid, but I my power and climbing ability were FLAT. It's a bit of a mystery, but there was no juice in the pistons. Very frustrating, especially with the amount of training I had been doing.

5. My team rocked. I could not have lucked out any better with a group of 4 dudes I had not met prior to the race. Solid group of guys, that raced hard, worked well together and encouraged each other along the way!

I will update with pictures as soon as possible. Until then here is the link to our teams photos from the race.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tick Tock...

Or is it Tik Tok...I don't know and I'm not sure it really matters. Any lit majors out there? Which is correct? In any case, I need the father time to slow down for a bit. Simply too much stuff to do. My life goal of being a superhero would be very beneficial now. I could simply fly around the earth in reverse and turn back the clock of time. Although, I’m guessing if I was a superhero I would probably have to save lives and wouldn’t have time for extra curricular activities. In addition, I always wanted to be Spiderman, not Superman, so I’m not sure Spidey could rotate the Earth in reverse. That would be one massive spider web. Wow, did I just digress. Actually, to the point I have no idea what this blog is about.

Oh yeah, I am Leaving for Moab, UT tomorrow for a 24 hour mountain bike race. My bike, which had an unanticipated part failure, was completed today and I will pick up tomorrow morning at 10am, tear apart and put in its bike case and then try to get to the airport for a 1pm flight. In the next 6 days (in this order) I will fly to Utah, sign and fax over a new job offer, compete in a 24 hour mountain bike race, take over a lease for a new apartment downtown, fly back to Seattle, start a new job, pick up keys to my new apartment and move in!

It may sound like I’m complaining, but in actuality I love it! I wouldn’t have my life any other way! Yes, I should step back every so often, smell a few roses, kiss some babies, shake some hands, but I’m pretty sure I can do all those things will still riding my bike, sending an email, eating dinner and finishing a Sudoku puzzle.

Check out the race results of the 24 hour race here! I am racing with an male team called The Dropouts (named after a ride in Park City).

Sunday, September 30, 2007

On The Road Again

It has been over a year since I competed in a triathlon (off-road), but it has been 3+ years since I had raced a road triathlon. As my leg is starting to heal and I can run again, the itch to do any race is intensifying. With the triathlon season winding down I decided to compete in the Black Diamond Sprint Tri held September 23rd.

The plan was to have a solid swim and bike and try to hang on during the run and lessen the damage, both to my ego and legs. I was extremely nervous for the race. Lack of any speed work definitely increased my anxiety, as the thought of only racing for 60-70 minutes seemed frightening fast.

The water felt reasonably warm for being in September and Deep Lake is synonymous for being a bit on the chilly side. I had a great starting position and when the gun sounded I found a nice swimming lane to find my form. Unfortunately my form never came. In all honestly it was the least amount I had been hit, bumped or pummeled at the start of a race, but for one reason or another I could not find a rhythm. I was hoping for a sub 14:00 800m swim, but instead settled on a 14:58...ouch. My swim was good enough for 25th fastest among the men, but I knew I had some work to accomplish on the bike.

The aero position, once a common position, could not have felt more foreign. It took a few miles to warm up, but once comfortable I started picking off competitors. I had a great battle with a gentleman in a QR Lucero tri bike. He passed me and I tried to encourage him to keep hammering, but he looked at me as if I was speaking Japanese. I will never understand why fellow competitors do not reciprocate a compliment. This really pissed me off. C'mon, we are not in Kona racing for world championships and we are certainly not professionals racing for a paycheck. We are recreational triathletes racing in the backwoods of Washington state. Give me a break. Regardless I used this energy to smoke by him and his $8000 tri bike. That's right chump I was the one who passed you on the road bike riding on the hoods. PUNK! I then went on to pass 7 more competitors to finish with the 7th fastest bike split.

I felt amazing coming into the run transition, but I knew the pain had not begun. Both my transitions were a bit slow since I hadn't practiced them in some time, but my second transition was quite funny. My legs were a bit wobbly from the bike and my hip is not strong enough to balance on my left leg so trying to put on my right shoe caused me to fall over. It wasn't graceful either. I could only imagine it looked like a tree falling in the forest. One fluid motion, no hands to catch me...wham on the ground. I quickly sat myself and my dignity up put on both my shoes while sitting in the grass and started the run. My current run gait is somewhere between Egor and a kid with polio (not funny, but sets the visual). I somehow managed to maintain a 7:10 pace and only let one racer to catch me on the run.

My final time was just over 1:10:00, which was good enough for 2nd in age group and 11th overall. I am usually not satisfied with any results, but I must admit I was not expecting a finishing place this high.

As all competitors I sat back after the race results where posted and tried to determine where I coulda, woulda, shoulda placed if I was completely healthy. I could have posted :45 faster on the swim, 1:10 on the bike and 2:15 on the run. I also could have eliminated close to 1:00 on my transitions. With all being said this would have put me in the top 5 of finishing times. Looks like I still have some worked to do if I want to podium.

Again, great race and definitely a nice spring board into winter training. I doubt I will do any more road tri's next year, but this revs the motor Xterra in 2008.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Back to the (race) Track

I traded in my cycling helmet for my old motorsports helmet this past weekend for a kart race. It has been years since I have put on my old helmet and fire suit and even longer since I raced a kart. The last time I raced a dragster was back in 03 and the last time I raced a kart was back in 99.

Ready for qualifying

Rusty was one way to describe my first practice heats. The track was wet from on and off rain showers which didn't help conditions, but when I wasn't driving the kart into the corner too hard and pushing the front end, I was letting off too early and unloading the chassis before the corner...either way the end result was spinning the kart. ROOKIE!
On the grid ready to rip!


Qualifying wasn't too much better and track conditions were worse. I decided to run the rain tires in the hope to gain more grip. Instead the track wasn't wet enough and it made the kart squishy and sluggish around the corner. I qualified last! Not too big of a surprise, since most of the other racers were surprised I could even get the kart around the track within a few seconds of the top qualifying speeds (pole was 32 seconds and I was at 37 seconds).
Coming out of corner 7


The skies opened up for heat 1 and everyone opted for rain tires. The embarrassment started early for me as I spun the kart even before the race started. The field waited for me to catch up, as all the karts needed to be up to speed and in a bunch for the rolling start. Heat 1 went well and the difference between the winner's fast lap and my fast lap was only 4 seconds. OK, now we are getting some where.


At this time I was really starting to feel the kart, how it chassis was rolling in and out of the corners, and really getting a handle on braking and acceleration points. Heat 2 was my best race. My fast lap was within 3 seconds of the leaders and I actually passed a few competitors.


I'm not sure I am ready to jump back into karting, but it was sure fun to feel the acceleration and braking power of these little machines that reved to over 13,000 rpm on the back straight away. To put these karts into comparison here is a power to weight ratio of some of the fastest race cars that run on road courses (I've been blasted by some of my engineering friends for some past errors in my mathematics, so in this case Power-to-Weight ratio is a measurement of actual performance of any engine). The equation will simply be Power (P)/Weight (W)



125 Tag Kart (kart I was driving) - 40 hp (horsepower)/200 lbs = .2 (hp/lb)

IRL Indy Car - 600 hp/1600 lbs = .375 (hp/lb)

Porsche Daytona Prototype - 500hp/2125 lbs = .23

Formula One Car - 730hp/1340 lbs = .54 (wicked)


Mr. Potato Head and me back at it again!



My nephew Jake ready to tear up the Kid Carts!





Friday, September 07, 2007

The Five Developmental Stages of Finishing a Race

Over the course of my 33 years I have noticed that many of life events occur in stages. There are defined theories as in the 5 stage Kuber-Ross model of dealing with tragedy and grief or Knapp’s Relationship Stages Model which explains how various relationships form, progress and dissolve. There are scientific based findings including the stages of alcohol on the mental and physical human body. And then there are also less academic models such as the 5 Stages of Online Dating (This is hilarious…not that I would have any idea about online dating).

I thought I would provide my own personal observation on the five stages of dominating a race (or merely finishing one). The five stages are sequential, meaning the stages are followed in the order in which they are presented and each stages builds upon the other.

It’s On – Stage 1 represents the initial formation (registration) of the event and is usually proceeded by several micro stages of positive affirmation and increased self-confidence including, but not limited to mass emailing to friends and family, who may or may not care or better yet not understand, about your next adventure, water cooler boasting at the masters swim class, track workout and/or trailhead or the ever increasing incoherent and irrelevant blogs on your personal blogging site. The “It’s On” stage varies in length and can be as short as 24 hours, but has been known to last up to 10-12 months.

Toeing The Line – better known as “It’s Go Time” (IGT) is the second stage and allows the racer to move from formation to activation. IGT can be difficult for some participants as the emotions during this stage are usually the most intense and confusing. The racer is usually in a Jekyll and Hyde battle with their internal and external persona. Internally they are rationalizing their training program, setting realistic goals and trying to manage their anxiety. There external identity is usually taking shape in one of two forms. One, they are downplaying their ability by over-exaggerating minor injuries or ailments that would cause a slower race time. By using this disclaimer prior to the race you can avoid any embarrassment from the poor finish or more commonly it allows you to boast about your strong finish, as if was some miracle that you overcame the hangnail on your middle finger to finish top ten (Tiny Tim would be proud. Tiny Tim of A Christmas Carol not the musician). The second identity created by the external self is the one of over confidence. This is rarely seen, but is used in practice during smaller or less importance races. The confidence can sometime also include a disclaimer of “I feel great for this race, but this is only a B race so I will be taking it easy.” Again, using the disclaimer as a verbal recognition of the races non-importance and the racers lack of concern for his/her results. The IGT stage is relatively short and usually lasts less than 1 weeks and up through the first part of the actual race

Wanting It – This stage occurs in the first stumble by the racer or a competitor, normally around the middle of an event. When related to individual racer, the first moment of weakness is usually when the initial internal dialogue is had. Normally the dialogue is encouraging, but on occasion it can be quite hostel in nation. Luckily for the other participants, spectators and children (please remember the children) the hostilities and subsequent vulgarities are all done with the racers inner voice. When the stumble is had by a competitor this stage intensifies. The “Wanting It” can come from quick physical exertions to pass the competitor and try to deposit them directly into Stage 4 (see below) or it can allow the racer to analyze their competitor from behind, pressure them and ultimately try to crack them. In either case, the racer must verbally or internally say, “you got to want this”, to signify the beginning of this stage.

The Hurt Locker – The intensity and brutality of this stage is sometimes too hard to watch. The internal dialogue turns from friendly banter to crucial bargaining. Emotional instability and loss of critical judgment are common in this stage. The racer at this point is reaching a moment of darkness, often promising ice cream for one last effort up the hill or a training day off if you can just pass the person in front of you. This however is a very important stage in the development of the racer for several reasons. First, they need to enter into this stage in every race and try to grow more and more accustomed to the pain associated with digging deeper into the locker. Second, they need to understand the management of this stage and avoiding falling into stage five!

The Wheels Have Come Off – Also known as “running out of gas” or “bonking”, stage five is the point of no return. Visualize a motor vehicle driving with no tires/wheels and limited gas. Not pretty. You have exhausted all reserves and are merely hoping for survival. The internal bargaining no longer exists as your mind is not capable of rationalizing let alone developing any thoughts. You motor skills start to lessen, vision is blurred and verbal communication slurred. It is really a state of confusion, disorientation and staggering gait. Personally, I think it is a good recommendation to try reaching this stage once or twice in your athletic career, so you can understand that the Hurt Locker may be painful, but still manageable.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Grandma Nellie 1911-2007

My grandma was an strong, loving and happy woman who had the most infectious smile. I was very fortunate to be able to spend time and learn from this great person. She passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 96 years.


Grandma Nellie was born in Niewenhoorn, Holland, and along with my grandpa, moved their family (including my father) over to America in 1948. They initially moved to Kent, WA where they started farming for another family. In 1953 they purchased their own farm and moved to Enumclaw, where she would raise her family and live throughout the remainder of her life.


One of my grandma's greatest gifts was gardening. An absolute perfectionist, her garden was a statement of hard work, beauty and love. A life full of adventures, love and principles, grandma was loved by most everyone that came in contact with her. She was so caring and would strive to put your happiness before her own. I see so much of my dad in my grandma. I don't think it has completely sunken in that I will not see my grandma's smile again. This will especially be hard during the upcoming holidays because of so many fond memories. I will miss my grandma dearly.


Christmas 2006





Thursday, August 30, 2007

Endurance 100 - Podium Finish?

Endurance 100 – Podium Finish?

I just arrived back from Park City, UT and competing in the Endurance 100 race. I traveled down with my good training partner and arch nemesis TH. Beltro was also supposed to accompany us down to the race, but recent doping allegations sidelined his plans (see media update blog below).

I knew there was trouble when I was gasping for air building up my bike and walking up stairs. Similar to Superman’s vulnerability to Kryptonite, the 7,000’ elevation at the base of the mountain was immobilizing me with pain and suffering. My little sea level legs and lungs were no match for the forces of less oxygen. We would need to be strategic in our attack of the race.

Our strategy for defeating the villainous Park City was to wear it down…take it slow the first few laps and then unleash our astounding, superhuman attacks on the field and mountain. The first part of the plan (taking it slow) has never been a problem for me. However, unleashing any type of attack, let alone after 40+ miles of riding would be comical.

The race started; yup you guessed it, with an immediate climb. We rode on a fire road for roughly a mile then it shot us right into single track switch back climbs. The remainder of the race would see 95% single track…amazing. We rode very conservatively, as planned, the first lap and everything went well. I started the second lap a bit sluggish, but this started to feel much better. I picked it up half way through the second lap and into the third lap. The climb out of the transition area in lap three was simply nutty. Little did I know we would do this climb again on the fourth lap and then climb another 1,000 ft immediately after…BRUTAL. Going into the fourth lap someone shouted that I was only 10 minutes behind 2nd place. What? I was feeling good, but 3rd place??? With my new found energy and excitement of possibly placing on the podium I picked up the pace. This is a bit overstated since picking up the pace at this point meant my cadence went from 76 to 77...simply viscous!!!! When I reached the summit I was told I was only 6 minutes back on 2nd, but since the final 12 miles were descent my goal was to keep the rubber side down and secure 3rd place. I crossed the line in 9 hours and 17 minutes. Good enough for third place and the podium!!!!

Vicious attack!!!

The course was as follows:

Stage 1 – 20 miles, 3,000 ft vertical gain
Stage 2 – 23.5 miles, 3,590 ft vertical gain
Stage 3 – 11 miles, 2,054 ft vertical gain
Stage 4 – 17 miles, 3,055 ft vertical gain

The total distance was 71.5 miles with almost 12,000’ ft of climbing.

Machines ready for battle!

TH corresponding with Velo and Cycling News

Who doesn't belong on this stage?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

E100 Media Update!

MEDIA REPORT - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Beltro withdraws from E100; cloud of suspicion looms darker.

Rapid rise to mountain bike stardom has some people questioning training tactics.

Anacortes, WA. The mountain bike world was rocked today when Jeff Beltro withdrew from this weekends E100 race in Park City, UT. The sudden withdrawal and the recent news of increased dope controls at the E100 have some second guessing the timing. The former Ironman and Xtrerra triathlon superstar, who has taken the 2007 Indies Series expert mountain bike series by storm this year, was rumored to be targeted prior to the E100 as one of the “men in black” – riders who try to avoid out of competition controls by training in anonymous clothing in out of the way places. The reason for the withdrawal is not clear at this time, but inside information tells us trichomoniasis may be the cause.

Beltro was the city of Anacortes big hope for taking the E100 title and wearing the cities colors for 2008. The withdrawal by Beltro leaves the victory podium stand a wide open race. Fellow sea-level stand out athletes AVW and TH would be the natural choice for filling two of the podium slots, but the high altitude could put these two in the hurt locker before the mid way point. In addition, AVW has never bested TH in their previous 16 match-ups. There is also rumor circling that Expert NORBA racer Andy R could be filling in for the battered Beltro. Phone calls to Andy R’s agent were not returned.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wrench for Hire?

It was always a family joke, or more less an understanding (actually the entire racing community knew) that my dads mechanical genes were not passed onto me. Lets just say people where not beating down my doors to wrench for them. I remember vividly thrashing one spring...actually the thrashing of race cars was an annual VanderWaal Racing tradition. Some families attended church during the holidays, others cut down the family christmas tree...our family loved to assemble race cars at the 11th hour! It was usually two solid weeks of working on the race cars. We would finally fire them up the night before the first race weekend, make sure everything was working properly or close enough, put the cars in the trailer, get to bed around 1am and then drive to the track the following morning at 6am. No testing...straight to qualifying and then racing. Probably not the ideal race preparation, but it was an adventure. Sorry, I digress...back to thrashing to get the race cars engines together...I was actually helping with the assembly instead of relegated to senior parts washing, food gopher or janitor duties...my job was to install the valves so my dad and brother could do the more important part of setting the tolerances of them. The installation of the valves included two little valve lashings, which were the size of your little fingernail and slippery. There should have been a disclaimer on the package on how difficult these things were to hold onto. In any case one of the little buggers slipped from my hand, fell through an oil chamber, past the camshaft and somewhere into a cylinder, oil pan or ?? I can't describe how many emotions went racing through my mind at that time, but fear, rage and embarrassment where definitely at the top of the list. I sat there motionless like Ralphie in the Christmas Story when the lug nuts go flying from his hand..."Fuuuuudge", although I didn't say fudge either! I can't remember exactly what happened next, but I'm pretty sure I ran out of the shop cursing, spitting and crying, yes I said crying (can't a man cry sometimes). The best case scenario would have been the lashing fell into the oil pan...oh no, not so lucky. It was missing somewhere in the motor and the fear of turning the motor over and having the lashing scratch a cylinder wall or crush in the crankshaft was too risky. Instead we had to take the entire motor apart until we found the lashing sitting in on top of one of the pistons in a cylinder. Needless to say my wrenching abilities were not called upon too often, however, my part cleaning and janitorial skills increased immensely.

This past weekend, I dug my old Simpson wrench apron out of storage and worked on my mountain bike. It was fun to work on the bike and although quite a bit simpler than working on race car engines the tolerances for many of the parts are tighter and the bolts smaller...eek!
Reliving the glory days!
I spent several (successful)hours getting the red rocket ready for next weekend E100 race in Park City. Oh yea, I also spent a few moments cleaning her...I still have the touch! :)

What a beauty!!!!

I am definitely not worthy of riding this bike...way to pretty for me.

Col du Knoble Knob and Col du Suntop

The Col du Galibier is one of the most impressive climbs in the French Alps and when used, is the highest point in the Tour de France (TdF). The climb to the summit starts at Valloire and is 18.1km long at an average gradient of 6.9% with a maximum 10.1% near the summer. It seems this is a challenge for the light weight roadies of the TdF, as the commentators often use phrases such as "the riders are literally tearing themselves inside out battling up the Galibier". Hmm, must be difficult to ride a 16lb bike up a paved road with tires inflated to 110psi.

However, in training for the upcoming Endurance 100 I needed a bigger, more difficult challenge. TH and I set out to tackle the Col du Knoble Knob and Col du Suntop in the beautiful Cascade Mountain Ranges. The weather was absolutely beautiful for our ride and the ride proved to be a great confidence booster for the upcoming race. Below are the statistic for our ride and you can also find a link to our GPS Motion Based log of the ride here.


Distance - 43.24 miles

Time - 5:59:27

Elevation Gain - 9,120'

Average Grade - 9.0% (eat that Contador)

Image of Mt. Rainier near the summit of Suntop!



I am still going to suffer in the E100 and yes, it is very likely I will be found weeping in the fetal position somewhere along the trail. But I promise myself that I will eventually pick myself up, change my diaper and finish the race.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Super Adventure!!!

Yowser, my life is turning into the greatest Choose Your Own Adventure book of all time. I have made more decision in the past 12-16 months than I have in my entire life and I do not see any end in site. Not sure if this is good or bad, but at least I haven’t turned to a page that has resulted in fatal error (falling into a snake pit, getting caught in a bear trap…set by the bear, harpooned while trying to save the whales and uncover lost treasures!!!).

My most recent change has been the most nerve racking of my life, but is also providing a sense of freedom and elation I haven’t felt in some time. My split with Katherine 12 months ago was scary, but we both knew it was for the betterment of both our lives so that provided some consolation to the final decision. I will get into details of my latest life change in upcoming posts. Until then, I will have much more time on my hands to train and work with my brother in our real estate development company.

In the meantime, I have recently returned from Hawaii, were I enjoyed some splendid weather, great adventures, good food, libations and good company (thanks JP!). The top highlights from the trip:

1. Excessive pouring to the gods and several unscheduled trips down the steep ravine at the 4-Seasons. (sorry had to be there).
2. Running in the bamboo forest (very first run since breaking my femur 9 months ago!!)...it was ugly, but I swear it was running or some form there of!


3. Swimming in the waterfalls at the bamboo forest. I kept getting out looking for leeches on my body...ala "Stand By Me"
4. Sea Kayaking in 3-7’ swells.
5. 7am ocean swims…unbelievable yet extremely eerie! I kept looking around for ocean critters...mainly those of gray color and sharp teeth.
6. Eating dinner on Maui in a dark, rustic, windowless Italian restaurant while being served by an old, yet charming, ex-Vegas cocktail hostess “Roxy”. I was so confused that night!
7. Biking up (and then down) the 10,023’ Haleakala Volcano! One of the most magical and breathtaking rides of my life.

I am trying to figure out how to upload You Tube videos...hand tight I'm kind of slow at these things!

It is now less than two weeks away from the Endurance 100 in Park City, Utah. The level of fear, excitement and anxiety is reaching new levels. The weekend will serve as my 33rd b-day weekend (my birthday is on the 27th if you want to send presents or cards. I love cash, shiny new carbon bike parts and Kenneth Cole shoes! Cheers

Keepin the rubber side down (most of the time)!!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Split Decision Goes to VanderWaal

I fought a tough battle with the Gear Jammer (see previous Mt Peak at 3pm post) and overall was pretty happy with the results. I would even say if the judges had to go to the cards I would have won.

The morning started out pretty uneventful. It started to rain just before the race and I was starting to worry. The trails basically consisted of tight, twisty single track laden with roots and rocks. Definitely not the trails that I want wet and slick. Thankfully the rain let up and all was good in the world again.

I did my usual warm-up and found a nice spot near the front of the starting chute. The gun went off and we were off. Definitely not as nerve racking as the start of the Test of Metal, as there were only 300 riders compared to 800! I found a comfortable pace and settled in near the rear of the lead back of 40-50 riders. The first 3 miles of the course is a grinding up hill. It was nice to spread out the field. The first hour was a blast I was riding well and keeping the bike upright on the tricky trails.

The second hour of the race was another story. There was a deadly steep climb up to Power Smart that lead into a tight...I mean tight single track descent. I had several bobbles during the descent and allowed three riders to catch me. Some of the dudes and gals in Canada have some sick downhill skills. Their uphill skills are a bit lacking, but they can tear up the downhill. The darkness continued as I rode the Recycle trail. I was tired and my skills were tragic. I took three hard spills on the switchbacks, with the last one being a hard over the bars crash. I sat on the ground for a minute or two collecting my thoughts, stamina and dignity that was strewn across the trails. Luckily no one was around to witness my falling from grace. After collecting my pride and emotions, I was actually impressed with how well I calm myself down and focused on the race again.

The last hour was great. I nailed the powerhouse plunge trail, only getting off the bike twice for some pretty hairy bridge crossings. My last two climbs were solid and I ended up finishing in 3:17:05 which was good enough for 11th place in age group.

Again, this was not my kind of course, but was a fun race. I would much rather do the Test of Metal again rather than the Gear Jammer, but who knows, you could see a rematch of me versus the Gear Jammer in '08.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mt Peak, 3pm - Fight!

Long before the octagon was made popular by the UFC, there was Mt. Peak in Enumclaw. Many disagreements, feuds and general displeasures where settled at the base of the mountain. Growing up in a small town, fights were as popular as Friday night football and Mt. Peak saw its fair share of fist-a-cuffs. I was definitely not one to be involved in the activities as a participant, but I cheered on my share of scuffles. I knew better than to try my hand at bare knuckle brawling. As a 5'10", 135 lb teenager I saw the inevitable writing on the wall and decided I was much better off as a spectator rather than a scrapper. Let's just say I understood my place in the Darwin world...I'm a lover not a fighter.

However, I think I can relate this evening with the feelings and anxiety of pubescent boys who decided in third period gym class after a heated game of floor hockey that they were going to dual at Mt. Peak. At the time of the argument, tempers flare, but after fourth, fifth and leading into sixth period I am sure one of the boys is having second thoughts of their earlier actions. However, at this point there is no turning back. News of the fight spread through campus quicker than the class slut shedding her dress on prom night. The under card was sent, the train of cars after school looked like a funeral precession. No turning back!

Today I pre-rode the course for this Sunday's Gear Jammer race in Squamish BC Canada. The 50km mountain bike race uses some of the same trails on the more popular Test of Metal, but there is much more technical single track. Technical single track that destroys your hands, kidneys, back and in general your entire body. My endurance is slowly starting to build up, but my technical riding is still sub-par...and sub-par is disastrous on this course. My original intent was to try and ride a top 10% finish, but now I am thinking a top 30 or 40% would be satisfactory. Hell, if I finish I will be happy. Throw in a recently acquired Plantar Fascitis and I have all the makings for a serious thumping.

At this point there is no turning back. I have picked the fight and now I must pay the piper. I'm just hoping to get in a few good licks before all hell breaks loose. Who knows, maybe I will connect with a haymaker early in the fight and salvage my dignity...I can dream. Until Sunday, I'm going to continue to talk tough..."you and me at Peak at 3pm...you're going down"...LET'S GET IT ON!!!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

NYC and The Bellmont

I made my first trip out to the Big Apple several weeks ago. My friend, Andy, and I went to visit our friend Adam for a little big city adventure. Also part of the trip itenirary was the Belmont Stakes horse race. The city itself was amazing. I was impressed with the infrastructure and the forethought by the city planners 100 years ago to invision a city of 10 million people and the transportation means necessary to commute the people from one part of the city to the next. I'm not sure I could ever live in New York City, but I would definitely like to go back and visit again.

Time Square - Advertising Wonderland or a Cluttered Mess.



Lady Liberty



McSorley's - NYC Oldest Bar



The Belmont Stakes was an adventure to say the least. Adam's friend Adam charters a bus each year and we all dress up in our finest or not so finest seer sucker suits for a day of betting on the ponies and shenagins. I think I lost on multiple levels...bets, dignity, a few years off my life, etc.

Go Baby! Go!

A couple of Dandies!

NYC is so fashionable!

Need I say more.

Its Been Awhile

Sorry to all my fans that have not received their daily dose of AVAdventures. The hate mail is not necessary. I've been busy training, taking some small vacations and actually racing a bit. My leg is healing well, although I am still somewhat discouraged that I can not run yet. I think this is really starting to wear on me mentally. My job has been mentally exhausting, so I think between the mental drain of my professional career and my inability to run really has me down.

I was in Squamish this weekend pre-riding the Gear Jammer course and visiting with Seegs and Ty. They are such wonderful people and I am very jealous of their situation up in Squamish. I guess the grass is always greener, but the riding up their is amazing. In regards to the riding...mine was horrific. I couldn't get my HR high and my technical skills were laughable...not by me, but anyone watching me. It was wet, slick and rooted and I was on my butt 8-10 times during the ride. I lost track after the 2nd or 3rd over the handle bars. I ended up getting lost several occasions and never did finish the course. This should be interesting as the race is in 2 weeks. Wish me luck!

On Sunday I rode 9 mile hill and the rip with Jen. Again, couldn't get my HR to elevate. Argh! It was a beautiful ride none the less.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Back in the Saddle - 24 Hour Race

Oooh-weee did it feel good to be back in the saddle for an endurance race. Memorial Day weekend I teamed up with four other gents for the 24 hour mountain bike race in Spokane, WA. At first I was hoping to do a two-person team, but in the end, my body would not have been ready for that kind of thrashing.

The S-Works ready for battle.



The race went well for the team and we ended up with a podium finish (3rd). We started off the first several rotations in first, but our team faded in the night and we could never recover our losses. The team was not ultra-competitive, but a wonderful group of riders to tear up the trail and share some laughs.

2nd lap - fast split of 56 minutes...only 4 minutes off the fastest split of the race.

I still have notions of wanting to do a solo 24 hour mountain bike race, but I need to be realistic at this point, listen to my body and aim for something next year.



Stretching it out (too lazy to rotate photo...common theme starting)


Preparing for the night time festivities!


Five laps down and feeling stout!


Podium!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Comeback Tour '07

I am throwing my hat back into the ring, er trail in this aspect. I have officially signed up for my comeback race of the year…actually two races, but only one being the main P1 race. My original intent was to race the Leadville 100 in Colorado, but my entry was not accepted. Instead I have signed up for the Endurance 100 in Park City, UT on August 25th. This will be 2 days before my 33rd birthday and what a better way to celebrate than busting my lungs over 100 miles at 7000’+ elevation. I will use the Gear Jammer in Squamish B.C., Canada as my warm-up race.

The media build up to this event is going to be huge. Yes, Basso and Landis are receiving much of the attention right now, but once this news bit gets leaked to the press, watch out. I am fully aware of the naysayer’s and cretins who feel this is beyond my ability level and to you I say, “yah, you’re probably right, but what the hay!” I’ve never been one to use my intelligence in signing up for races and I am consistently biting off more than I can chew. So why change now?

I am stoked for the race and a bit nervous. Endurance mountain biker god Tinker Juarez won the race last year at just over 11 hours, so I can only imagine that my bootie will be in the saddle for well over 13. It should be fun or at the very least an experience soon not to be forgotten.

Media inquires can be sent to aaronvanderwaal@yahoo.com. I am available for photo shoots (nudies optional), autograph signings and appearances. Cost is determined on a case by case basis.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Acceleration


In previous post I have acknowledged that I now prefer the rawness of human power over that of mechanical. However, when I read the below blog from a drag racing fan recently it made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Some of the information below, even if you are not a fan of motorsports, is astounding and almost defies physics. Enjoy


* One Top Fuel dragster 500 cubic inch Hemi engine makes more horsepower than the first 4 rows at the Daytona 500.

* Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1-1/2 gallons of nitro methane per second; a fully loaded 747 consumes jet fuel at the same rate with 25% less energy being produced.

* A stock Dodge Hemi V8 engine cannot produce enough power to drive the dragster supercharger.

* With 3000 CFM of air being rammed in by the supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into a near-solid form before ignition. Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock at full throttle.


* At the stoichiometric (stoichiometry: methodology and technology by which quantities of reactants and products in chemical reactions are determined) 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture for nitro methane the flame front temperature measures 7050 degrees F.


* Nitro methane burns yellow. The spectacular white flame seen above the stacks at night is raw burning hydrogen, dissociated from atmospheric water vapor by the searing exhaust gases.


* Dual magnetos supply 44 amps to each spark plug. This is the output of an arc welder in each cylinder.

* Spark plug electrodes are totally consumed during a pass. After ½ way, the engine is dieseling from compression plus the glow of exhaust valves at 1400 degrees F. The engine can only be shut down by cutting the fuel flow.


* If spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro builds up in the affected cylinders and then explodes with sufficient force to blow cylinder heads off the block in pieces or split the block in half.


* In order to exceed 300 mph in 4.5 seconds dragsters must accelerate an average of over 4G's. In order to reach 200 mph well before half-track, the launch acceleration approaches 8G's.


* Dragsters reach over 300 miles per hour before you have completed reading this sentence.

* Top Fuel Engines turn approximately 540 revolutions from light to light!

* Including the burnout the engine must only survive 900 revolutions under load.

* The redline is actually quite high at 9500rpm.

* The Bottom Line; Assuming all the equipment is paid off, the crew worked for free, and for once NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs an estimated $1,000.00 per second.
The current Top Fuel dragster elapsed time record is 4.428 seconds for the quarter mile (11/12/06, Tony Schumacher). The top speed record is 336.15 mph, as measured over the last 66' of the run (05/25/05 Schumacher).

Putting all of this into perspective: You are driving the average $140,000 Lingenfelter "twin-turbo" powered Corvette Z06. Over a mile up the road, a Top Fuel dragster is staged and ready to launch down a quarter mile strip as you pass. You have the advantage of a flying start. You run the 'Vette hard up through the gears and blast across the starting line and past the dragster at an honest 200 mph. The 'tree' goes green for both of you at that moment. The dragster
launches and starts after you. You keep your foot down hard, but you hear an incredibly brutal whine that sears your eardrums and within 3 seconds the dragster catches and passes you. He beats you to the finish line, a quarter mile away from where you just passed him. Think about it, from a standing start, the dragster had spotted you 200 mph and not only caught, but nearly blasted you off the road when he passed you within a mere 1320 foot long race course.


That folks, is acceleration

Friday, April 20, 2007

Riding the Red Rocket

Yesterday marked the maiden mountain bike voyage on my new bionic leg. It was also the first time I had ridden my new bike. I was embarrassed to have this amazing beauty between my legs and not knowing how to ride it properly (bad flashbacks to first high school girlfriend…more things to discuss with my therapist). When I used to race cars I would often snicker at some of the So Cal racers that had the nicest, newest race cars, but couldn’t drive to save their butt. It was almost a gimme when you lined up against them. I am now one of those blokes, sitting other side of the fence while real mountain bikers snicker at me. My bike is cherry, an amazing piece of technology that should be ridden by top level athletes. Instead she is stuck with me…for better or worse, however she doesn’t have the opportunity to leave. It’s like owning a Ferrari, but only capable of driving a Yugo. I have yet to name my new bike as I am waiting to see what kind of attitude she brings to my rides. Sassy? Courageous? Fierce? Fast? Is she more like a cheetah, a gazelle or a race horse? Time will tell and I will keep everyone informed on my new baby’s name.

Back to the ride…it was a gorgeous night and 8+ friends showed up to christen my new leg. I decided to stick to fire roads and avoid any single track to lessen the chances of falling over or stopping immediately. We decided to ride up to Poo Poo point as the sunset would be amazing. Amazingly I felt pretty good on the ride. The gradual climbs felt fine, but I was definitely suffering as the gradient steepened. I’m pretty sure I deposited one of my lungs on the trail. I was even more surprised that the fast descents didn’t bother me. I was very comfortable at the high speeds and maneuvering my bike. The view at Poo Poo was beautiful. It took me 54 minutes to get to Poo Poo, which is about 8-9 minutes slower than when I am healthy. Hopefully I can start shedding that time down soon. The ride back to the parking lot was a bit more difficult as my leg was weakening, but all-in-all it was a good ride with great friends.

Until next time…keep the rubber side down.

The beautiful view from Poo Poo Point (check out hang glider on the right)

My new baby and I on our first outing

Roger and I enjoying the view

Friday, April 13, 2007

What was I thinking?!?!

Lake Washington in April is a toasty 49 degrees...perfect tempature for a lake swim. Not so much! Unfortunately wiser minds did not prevail and several of us decided it was the perfect time for a open water swim. After the initial shock of the cold and all blood in my body quickly racing towards the vital organs that felt like shutting down, the water didn't feel all that bad, albiet my face and other vital parts of my body were numb. I was extremely grateful that one of the other swimmers brought extra pair of gloves and booties. If not, it would have been much uglier.

Wheels on the bike go round and round...part duex

I felt freedom for the first time (again) last weekend when I took my first "true" bike ride without training wheels (trainer) since my accident. The ride was relatively short from previous rides "pre-accident", but it didn't matter as just the ability to ride felt great. I have since been on several additional road rides and each one is progressively better in intensity, duration and pleasure. Wait, what am I talking about??


On the road again...keeping the rubber side down!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Epic Jealousy

My leg is continuing to heal and I am slowly gaining back my strength and fitness. I am happy to see these improvements, as when my physical health improves so does my mental health, which has been unstable over the past several months. The most difficult part to deal with now is watching good friends participate in EPIC races. Please don't get me wrong...I will be sending positive vibes and cheering as loud as I can for them. The difficult part is not being able to race in these races or any races, regardless of length.

My Xterra buddies Tom and Jim are in South Africa competing in the Cape Epic Race. This is a grueling 8 stage race in beautiful South Africa. You can follow their adventures on their blog. They have completed the first two stages are doing extremely well. Sitting around 137th out of 450+ male teams.

On the AR side of my world the boys and girls from DART-nuun are having some fun at the Baja Travesia adventure race in Northern Baja California, Mexico. This race looks like an absolute blast and a definite on next years race schedule. DART is throwing two teams into the mix. The race started today, but I am unsure of their current position. Updates will be shown on the teams blogsite.

Good Luck to everyone. Keep the rubber side down, keep safe and kick some heinie!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Tale of Two Races

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", actually it was pretty good time and unlike Dickens masterpiece the events take place in Southern California not France. Oh yea, there is no war either, just some good clean racing...actually the NASCAR event was quite dirty, but more on that later.

I grew up around race cars and to think there was any other racing that compared to motorsports seemed preposterous. However, as I stopped racing cars and started on my new life of fitness several years ago, the sound of 1000 horse power motors was replaced with the raw power of the human body. I still enjoy motorsports, but they do not have the same effect on me as they did years ago. Several weeks ago I took a few days off from a business trip and visited an old racing buddy who has also started to dabble in triathlons and running events. We spent Saturday at stage 6 of the Tour of California and Sunday at the AutoClub 500 NASCAR Race. I was interested to see which style of racing had more of an impact on me.

The Tour of California was amazing. I have never seen a pro cycling race before and I was impressed with the cyclist. It was beautiful, yet gritty. The stage started in Santa Barbara and made its way to Santa Clarita where they did three laps around the city. The breakaway pack and a 4 minute lead heading into the first lap, but the pelaton erased that lead and caught the pack 1 mile before the finish. The race came down to a sprint with JJ Haedo from CSC taking the stage victory. The sprint finish was spectacular. The cyclist were throwing their bikes side to side as they hammered at 30+ mph to the finish line. Levi Leipheimer from Discovery was the GC winner of the tour.

On Sunday we packed are bags and traveled to California Speedway in Fontana. The 90,000 spectators at the NASCAR race was definitely a bit more than the 8,000 or so that showed up for stage 6 of the cycling race. Getting to the race track is half the battle. The other half is getting to your seat. We missed the drop of the green flag, but we were in our seats by lap 20. I am still impressed with NASCAR and how close these cars race to each other. However, after about 120 laps I had had my need for speed and was ready to beat the crowd home. California Speedway is also not the most exciting track to watch. The small bank oval does not provide the same excitement as a high banked speedway or short track.

Besides the obvious difference between the two sports (human powered vs. machine powered) the spectators are an amazing contrast. Most of the cycling fans are cyclist them self or somewhat fitness minded. You may see an occasional team jersey or hat, but that is about it. NASCAR fans on the other hand live and breathe their favorite driver. The Christian religion could take some lessons from NASCAR as the drivers are worshipped beyond any religious figure. Yes, I truly believe the number 8 (Dale Earnhardt Jr) will become more iconic than the Star of David, The Cross, Buddha, etc.


Waiting for the lead pack to arrive...wait, who butt jumped in front of my camera.

Breakaway group hammering to stay in front of the pelaton.


Pelaton with eventual tour winner Levi Leipheimer.


Sprint finish!!!


Big George Hincappie of Discover - post stage finish.


World Champion Paolo Bettini - post stage finish


Enjoying a victory salute with my crutches.


NASCAR at California Speedway!


Can you feel the thunder!!!
180 mph on the front straightaway
There is much drinking to be done at NASCAR


Dead soldier...put up a good fight, but in the end my thirst won!

You have to love NASCAR fans...this dude stood up every time Matt Kenseth drove by...literally 250 times!!!