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!


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 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!!) 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)!!!!