April 21, 2011

Muddy Sneaker 20k race report

Last Saturday was a day that I will remember for quite some time.  I woke up that morning feeling good and was headed down to the Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area to do my 2nd race of the Muddy Sneaker 20k trail run.  This race is a homegrown oddity that friends of mine dreamed up 11 years ago and it's not for the faint of heart.

It's a prestigious race in the upstate NY area and it one of the very few races that so many people try to enter each year that they were forced to do a lottery system and limit the number of people that can get in.  Ussually on a random night in February, hopefuls crowd the Otter Lodge in Brighton for the lottery.   For 5 long years prior to 2010, I was "blacklisted" from the lottery and would pay my fee every year, send in my registration forms, only to be sent home disappointed year after year.  But I made do, I became extremely adept at running the chaos that is aid stations #1 and #3 year after year and I would regularly watch the carnage that unfolded during the race, secretly hoping that someday I could test my legs against the course and fantastic competitiors.

You see, with this race being as technical and as difficult as it is, it attracts some of the regions best trail runners (and just straight runners in general) Past champions have included; Al Evans, Zach Rivers, Jeff Beck, Scott Bagley and Carl Johnston and the record board is littered with their accomplishments.  So when the lottery night came and went this year (I got in for the 2nd year in a row...I smell a streak!) and none of the "studs" or "big dogs" were on the list, there began rumblings about who might walk away witht he victory.  I honestly didn't think twice about it because in chatting with Mort Nace at the bar, he mentioned that past course record holders could hop in and avoid the lottery, no questions asked. 

Fast forward 2 months and the quick runners on the list were starting to drop like flies.  I was told via text that Jeff wasn't going to be racing this year and it looked like the front runners were myself, Jason Urkfitz, Alan Powers and Jim Oberst.  With another note about a week later that Jim had pulled out of the race, suddenly my mind began to wander. 

I was running with a few buddies along the river on lunch about 3 weeks before the race and it casually came up in conversation that I was a ringer for the win.  I really could have stopped there in my tracks and picked my jaw off the pavement, becuase in no way was I thinking about a W... this was reinforced chatting with a few more folks (and the RD himself) about people coming and favorites, etc. I guess it started to sink in that I might have a chance at the overall spot about 2 weeks before the race.  Talk about letting your nerves stew for a bit.  That was a lot of pressure.  In my mind there was no way I was capable of pulling the win out and having my name be synonomous with the other past champions.  It was starting to eat at me...

Race week came and I was a little jittery to say the least.  I knew I needed a new pair of trail shoes and I stopped by Medved to grab a new light pair and was directed over to the Saucony ProGrid Peregrine's.  A minimalistic trail shoe with treads on the bottom that looked like shark teeth.  With the weather forecast for Saturday being cold, rainy, and muddy, I thought these would be a good choice.  Ironically I was helped by Jeff Beck and chatted with him about the race and reminisced about times at Geneseo where we ran together.  Regardless of equipment and ability, I still wasn't convinced.  It was going to be a tough battle as I know that Jason had gone a 1:30 on that course in years past and I'd also gone about 30 seconds slower than that last year.  I expected it to be a tight race with him (amongst others)
Race day came and the heavens just barfed on the course for the few days leading up to the race making the WMA a soupy and muddy mess. Less than ideal conditions, but I was feeling a little spry so I went with it.  I worked out my hourage for the week and still put in a 19+ hour training week and had even thrown in a little bit of a taper (easy days) leading up to Saturday in an effort to get my legs back under me.  Besides I'd even had a Good Luck cake baked for me the day before from Kim and I ended up eating the entire G the night before the race. :o) 
But we meandered around the start line waiting for Mort to finish up his pre-race logistics and also trying not to freeze.  It was about 35 degrees out and rain was drizzling down and when the wind picked up, it would blow sideways at us.  I am in the bottom right of the above photo wearing arm warmers and some yellow sunglasses that I eventually threw to the wayside.  I chatted briefly with J. Urckfitz at the start and he mentioned that he saw a former XC coach of mine at a track meet for his son that week.  That gave me the motivation to do what I did next. 

The race starts off and goes immediately uphill before entering some single track.  I had run thru about every scenario in my head in the prior week about how I thought the race would go, how I wanted it to go, etc.  None of which actually played out.  The race started and I just kind of took off up the hill.  I was feeling good and I took off.  I didn't necessarily want to "front run" but it just kind of happened and I went with it.  I remember crossing the creek and not wanting to look back because I knew everyone was on my tail.  I made it to aid #1 and saw Rob and felt okay.  (I probably didn't look okay, but I was still going) I remember thinking to myself, "okay, now just settle in" when I hit mile 3.  I crossed by the chicken (and this year a penguin) at aid #2 and threw off my sunglasses as I hit the left turn again and went downhill a bit.  I was afraid to look behind me to see where anyone was and as I hit 6 miles, I honestly didn't think I could maintain that pace for the remainder of the race.
Miles 7-9 were kind of a blur, me taking a gel somewhere there and not wanting to slow down over the terrain.  I was running well and I knew I just needed to hang on.  I popped out of the singletrack at the base of the climb up to aid #3 and I sped along the flats to the climb.  As I ran up the hill I noticed Ian and Rob were frantically setting tape and tables and filling cups for the aid station.  As I drew near, I yelled out, "how far is Jason back?" and Ian replied, "why are you out here running alone?"...

I then stopped and as I drank a glass of water, turned around for the first time that day (turning around shows weakness on the run) and couldn't see anyone as far back as the singletrack.  My heart must've skipped a beat, I was so happy.  Here I was 3/4 of the way into the race and there was no one to be seen behind me. It was truly now my race to lose.  I had to keep telling myself in the woods to be careful and watch my "flow" in order to be as smooth as possible and not trip myself up and bust an ankle or anything.

Hitting the massive descent (you can see that on the elevation profile) I didn't even look at the gorge for fear that I might fall, but I got to the bottom, navigated thru the river and started the long haul back up to the finish.  I was powerwalking for the majority of the steep section (I don't know if ANYONE has ever run up that section) and topped out and knew I was okay.  There was a downed sign around the base of the last climb, but I figured out the correct course and started pushing it up the big hill to the line.  I knew I had it wrapped up, but wanted to keep my emotions in check.  I also wanted to hit the line in under 1:30, but even though my watch said I did, the stupid "auto-pause" feature on it shut off the timer for a bit which caused me to barely go over the 1:30 mark.

I'm still kind of shocked at the victory that day even though the results have been posted HERE.  And since I wore the fancy new Garmin, my garmin file can be found HERE.   Not bad for a ridiculous 20k with over 2k worth of climbing in it!  (I don't know what happened to my HR in the middle of that, I'll call it a garmin glitch)  Thank you to everyone that supported/believed in me and gave me words of encouragement.  It was a great race and the beers were cold (as were we) afterwards.  The next adventure is a relay around Seneca Lake, so I'm looking forward to that after Easter.  Until then friends, train hard, race harder and I'll see you on the roads and trails.  Cheers!

USAT All American Honorable Mention

Well the rankings issue of Triathlon Life arrived in the mail just the other day and it solidified my status (yet again) of being a bridesmaid and not a bride in the triathlon world.  I was bestowed with the prestigious honor of being named a USAT All American Honorable Mention for another year. 

I’ve been chasing after a solid All-American Status (top 5% in the AG nationally) instead of the AAHM status (which is top 10% of the age group nationally) but I think I would’ve had to race a lot faster in 2010 :o) Apparently winning 2 of the three triathlons that I raced in 2010 wasn’t enough to get to AA status! (I jest….I know it’s a crazy point system that they use for the rankings based on pace setters, etc)

But that’s a quick update for you all, I hope that the training is going well and I’ll be getting up a Muddy Sneaker race report in the next few days. Train hard my friends and I’ll see you out on the roads, cheers!

April 8, 2011

Top 3 Seasonal beers (per season)

I've been meaning to get this post up for a while (well ever since I wrote the initial "Top 10" post back a few months ago) and have a pretty good idea of how it's gonna go, but as it always is, lets see where this one leads to.  

Most of these beers could probably realistically be on my Top 10 list, but their availability and brewing season offerings make them a "well-kept" secret and unfortunately unavailable during the entire year for consumption.  They are all exceptional brews and could probably stand on their own, but it took a lot to narrow it down to my favorite three varieties per season.  And as this is my blog and I'm the one writing it, I'm going to get started with my most favorite season of them all, which was so nice, they named it twice: Autumn/Fall. 

#1 - Ayinger - Oktoberfest-Marzen This was a wonderful discovery and I have to lay credit to my father on this one.  He collects beer caps or crowns as they are more often referred to.  The cap of this beer actually is depicted in the foreground of the photo to the right and shows a family with a Bavarian-esque tablecloth (blue and white checkered) sitting outside in the orchard having a beer.  As Ayinger is a privately owned German brewery located just outside of Munich.  Because it's a German brewery, they have to abide by the German purity laws of the early 1500's (otherwise known as Reinheitsgebot - Thank you Wikipedia for the spelling on that one) The purity laws regulate what can go in the beer and basically strip it down to it's most basic ingredients.  This beer is exceptional in the fact that it is in the pleasing burnt sienna color and smells just like an Oktoberfest should.  It's not overpoweringly malty or hoppy as the balance is pristine.  It can be found locally in Wegmans (if I don't buy them all during the season) and is well worth the price tag.  It goes down smoothly and is just the most exceptional Oktoberfest beer I have ever tasted.  I defy someone to find its equal!

#2 - Custom Brewcrafters Oktoberfest Lager
Located right down Route 65 in Honeoye Falls, NY is a small little brewery which has gained quite a following in the recent years.  If you haven't been to CB's recently, I implore you to go pay them a visit (and preferably go during the fall season so you can taste this beauty).  CB's Oktoberfest lager is a well balanced a little darker colored Oktoberfest which you can purchase in a growler during the months of September and October (and maybe November if you get lucky and they still have some left over) But light and crisp might be two good words to describe this solid lager.  It has a slightly higher alcohol content at 6.2% ABV, but the recipe has stayed the course over the years and this is brewed in the Oktoberfest tradition.  Exceptionally balanced and fresh as well, Custom Brewcrafters Oktoberfest Lager makes the middle of my seasonal list as a solid favorite that I can drink a TON of before it ever gets old.  I implore you to give it a whirl if you haven't.  If you enjoy Oktoberfest beers, this one will not disappoint!

#3 - JW Dundees - Oktoberfest
With the surge of all of the microbreweries in the recent years, that has really given a wide variety of choices to beer connoisseur worldwide.  This particular beer comes straight from my hometown of Rochester and is a wonderful fall season offering as well.  Brewed right on St. Paul Street in Rochester, this marzen style lager is dark auburn in color and crisp too.  It's brewed with a variety of fall spices that give this beer a unique flavoring that I have not come across in any other styles of Oktoberfest.  Additionally, the fact that it is brewed right here in Rochester from a "hometown proud" brewery and I feel like I am supporting jobs in my city definitely helps.  Priced very reasonably at $6.99 per six pack this lager is on that I look forward to and given any choice, will always go for this beer over a mainstream Samuel Adams or other similar varieties.  Smooth and with a fizzy spicy head on it, the head retention is middle of the road and it definitely makes the top 3 list as a fine specimen of the fall season.  Definitely worth the taste.

WINTER - The winter season always is a great season for drinking beer, the weather is getting colder, the beers are darker in coloring and often a little more intense and although the autumn season has passed, winter always has you coming back for more.  Here are my choices for the top 3 beers of winter. 

#1 - Michelob's Winters Bourbon Cask Ale
This heavenly creation was initially consumed by me at Cobbs Hill in Rochester during a midnight sledding run a few winters ago.  We piled several of these in a snowbank and then hit the hill and enjoyed these beers post sledding run.  It was a chilly night, but these kept us all very warm.  As any of you that read this might have asked for a recommendation for a good solid winter beer during the "off season", undoubtedly this was likely my first utterance to you.  Plus it's got a sweet snowman on the label and you can't go wrong with that! :o) Well, not to get too technical right away, but let's dive into the divine details of this delectable offering. First thing you notice about this beer is the fact that it is aged in old wooden bourbon barrels.  This gives is a "warming sensation" that you can definitely taste throughout the entire beer.  Coupled with the Madagascar Vanilla Beans that this fine "winter warmer" is brewed with, that takes the bourbon edge off of this beer and makes it go down SO smoothly.   Much to my chagrin though, I received word this spring from one the account managers of Anheuser-Busch that they will no longer be producing this beer due to not being able to brew without variations in the recpie/taste.  So it is with a heavy heart that I say RIP Bourbon Cask Ale, you will
be missed...
#2 - Dogfish Head - Chickory Stout
Dogfish Head is a small microbrewery that prides itself on some unique beers that it creates.  When I think of Dogfish, I often relate it to the same category as Goose Island brewery becuase they are trying stuff that none of the other breweries around want to venture out and give a shot.  I came across this creation and it almost ended up on my traditional top ten list.  The only reason that it did not was that I found out after the fact that it is only available during the winter months.  This beer as you can see in the picture to the right, is a deep dark brown in color and not translucent at all.  It has a foamy head with larger bubbles and good head retention and legs on the glass.  The chickory flavor makes this a nutty flavored brew that you cannot afford to miss.  Smooth to the finish with a pleasing aftertaste on the palate, Chickory Stout is a very close 2nd place as a wonderful beer that you could curl up next to a warm winter fire and enjoy all evening long.  The only drawback that I have is that sometimes the Dogfish varieties can be a little pricey, but then again in the words of a famously funny former co-worker...good hooch don't come cheap. This will not disappoint. 

#3 Saranac - Carmel Porter
Recently re-discovered at the Roc City Brew Fest that happened in Rochester, NY in the last month or so, Carmel Porter is a treat that to me, as it tastes like candy.  I'm a big fan of porters and stouts and as far as beers go, I consider them the bees knees.  My rule of thumb is: the darker the better.  Saranac is brewed right down the thruway at the FX Matt plant in Utica, NY, which makes this another hometown style beer.  Initially turned on to this delectable treat from a college beer lover, I got several text messages when the fire ravaged the Saranac plant several years ago to which I replied, "better stock up on Caramel Porter!"  As a darker maltier offering from Saranac, Carmel porter balances the dark malts with a sweet caramel flavoring that is even evident in the creamy head.  After talking with the rep at length at the Roc City Brewfest, I found that this beverage is only available on limited release every year during the snowy months and is one that if I am in the mood to have a brew with friends and be able to have several in the evening, this is a "go to" beer for me.  Not overpoweringly sweet to taste and with a nice balance, I almost wish this porter was available year round.  But maybe my desire for this one is what makes it so good and to claim the last spot on the seasonal list!

SPRING - Spring time is a time of rejuvenation, a time for celebration, the snow has melted, the grass is finally turning green again, the temps are (hopefully) rising and there is a certain rebirth in the land and peoples attitudes around town.  Additionally, to add to the awesomeness of springtime, almost every brewery that I know of offers a spring season and most often they are Bock beers (Bock is the German word for goat) and that is why there are goats on the labels of most spring beers!

#1 - Genesee Brewing Company - Bock Beer
I cannot say enough about the creation that is Genny Bock Beer.  I honestly look forward to seeing the massive cases and displays of bright green Genesee Bock beer.  Only sold in 12 packs cans and available for a short period of time (from about late February to early April) this malty treat is best experienced with 2 beers the first time it's consumed.  I only say this because the initial taste is a little shocking, but after you get thru the first can and onto the second, it is absolutely wonderful! There is a certain stigma in the Rochester area about Genesee and if people could drink two of these bocks, I think we could put those all to rest.  Dark brown in color and deeply malty with just enough of a hint and balance of hops, Genny Bock is light on the wallet (as most Wegmans have it priced at the uber reasonable $6.99 per 12-er.  As I type this though, I am in search of the final cases of this around town as I think I need to stock up because it's selling out everywhere!! Don't let the 70's-esque label fool you, this is GOOD, no wait, strike that, GREAT beer!

#2 Anchor Steam Brewing Company - Bock Beer
Anchor Steam makes some amazing middle of the road, what I refer to as, drinkability beers.  Their spring offering has never let me down.  As you can see from the label with a prominent goat head, this bock is brewed in the traditional spring fashion and has the malty characteristics that a genuine bock would carry.  Brewed in SanFrancisco, California, this beer is a tad pricey, but if you are out at a fine dining establishment and obviously don't want to buy into the Miller/Bud/Coors crap-o-la out there, this one is a fine choice.  Dancing around your tongue, bock beers have a very complex taste that often cannot be described in such a short time.  Initially hitting your tongue at the sides to blast your buds with the malty goodness, this one is a little paler in color, but finishes smoothly and is a nice end to a meal out on the town, or a good companion to have while having drinks out with friends.  Bottled in a stout, squatty bottle, the cap signifies the trademark anchor that is prevelent in this brand of beer and as the spring season goes, this one is definitely worth a few swallows!
#3 - Unknown beer - unknown brewing company
As the picture displays, this third choice in the spring season is a tough one.  I"ve tried beers from all over and really haven't come up with something that I can find as an acceptable 3rd beer for my list.  So in that vein, I'm leaving it up to my readers to send me a comment on the blog and tell me what spring seasonal beers I should try.  I feel it imperitive though that I point out that I'm not too big of a fan of hoppy beers and I've sampled the Sierra Nevada - Glissade, the Samuel Adams - Noble Pils, and about the closest I can come to something that MIGHT make the list is the old Sam Adams - White Ale (but I'm not sure if that's even made any more...) So with that being said, I implore you to send me your suggestions (ideally as a comment to this post) and I will definitely give them a try, if I can find them and report back with my findings.  As anyone that read the "top 10 list" can attest to, this is an ever changing list and up to my discretion, so if you don't like my choices, you can stop reading and go drink your Miller Lite :o)

SUMMER - Ahhhhhh, one of the best seasons around.  In Rochester, NY it only lasts for about as quick as you can say, "Oh my God, it's actually WARM out!" but it's good while it lasts.  There are a lot of beers that you can booze with during the summertime,  but since this is my list and I drink almost anything (except for Ram's piss - shameless Beerfest reference) I'm only going to give you my top #1 of summer (because I already gave you 10 on the last post!)

#1 - Sierra Nevada - Summerfest Lager
I came across this delectable offering from Sierra Nevada whilst wandering the aisles of Beers of the World in Rochester, NY a few summers ago.  I was looking for that "easy drinkability" beer and one that I could bring with me in a 6-pack to a friends house, have 5 and still have an excellent time, while not being too sick of the "lime" or "lemon" or "cirtus" flavorings that are so prevalent in summertime beers.  This one has none of the above.  Sierra Nevada hit the nail on the head, so much so that it is my ONLY choice for a seasonal beer during the summer months.  Now I'm not saying that it's the only thing I'll drink during the summer months, because anyone who knows me knows that ain't true....but it's a great summer lager and it's exceptionally well balanced and one that I can rip thru a 6 pack and not even really notice.  It's light, but not too light - as I really enjoy the darker varieties of beer, and drisp and refreshing when served really cold during the summer months.  I don't know what it is about this brew, but I'm excited for the sun to shine so I can crack a few bottles.

And there you have it.  A comprehensive list of top ten beers and additionally 3 extra credit beers that you can only get during the appropriate brewing seasons.  Tastes change thru the year and if you're doing it right, your beer choices should as well.  So I hope you've enjoyed this post, feel free to comment on your own favorites and if you see me around, lets have a beer :o) Cheers!

April 5, 2011

Spring Forward Race Report

Sunday was the 5th time that I've race the Spring Forward course out in Mendon Ponds Park here in Rochester.  I love the race and it's pretty darn hilly, but a very fair course.  In years past it's been a Rochester Runner of the Year series race which always drags out some impressive competition, but this year it was not on the dockett.  Still solid competition though.  All the usual suspects were there, Matt Kellman, Timmy Dwyer, Charlie Andrews, Mike Insler, Marcus Gage, Matt Roberts and Dave Rappleyea.

We were all milling around the start and I was feeling a little toasted from the weeks prior build that was culminating with the race on Sunday.  I topped out close to 19 hours (not the 20 like I had thought) and that was week 3 of a three week build up (weeks one and two had been at 16 and 18 hours respectively).  My legs honestly felt a little heavy during the warm up, but I was bound and determined to race this one as hard as I could and see what happened.  Kind of like an experimental race.  I knew that I was not going to be anywhere near the 53:28 that I popped last year when doing speedwork and focusing on running, but I was going to try and be as close as possible. 

The start went off with a bang and this is basically what happened (David Rappleyea ran away from us all and took the easy victory - he's the one in the Saucony bright orange kit below)  
We all happily chased him down and knew that we weren't going to be anywhere close to him, but we split off a nice little front pack in the early stages of the race.  The pack consisted of myself, Mike Insler, Marcus Gage, Matt Roberts and one other guy that after looking at the results, looks like it was Craig Coon and there was one other gun in a RKR jersey too.  I was tucking in the back of this happy little pack and as you can see from the photo below, I had to race all "thug like" with only one calf sleeve on.  The day prior my left calf was twinging something fierce while on the bike and I knew that the hills might compromise it with the race today.  Regardless of looking silly, I still trudged on tucked in the back of the pack. 
We split thru the first mile in about 5:30 and David R. was about 30 seconds up the road.  We all chatted a little bit and settled in and I was wondering how long I was going to be able to hang on to this pace.  I wanted to go out strong, but also NOT blow up.  After about 1.5 miles I watched the group of Insler, Roberts, Coon and Gage just pull away from me as I settled in to my own pace.  I was kind of running in no mans land and they were a good 50-100m up the road as I watched them kind of just pull away.  I split thru the 5k mark on the road in about 17:45 or so and knew I was holding a good pace. 

I wanted to split about 5:50-5:55/mile for this race and definitely keep it anywhere within the 54-55 range for total time.  I was running well and noticing that I was catching up to Marcus as we hit the hills, but he would press on the downhills and flats and get farther away.  He was coming back to me though and as I looked up after a few miles at mile 5 or 6, I noticed he was right in front of me about 5-10m ahead.  I put in a little surge on a downhill to catch him and passed as we bottomed out and started an uphill again.  I almost forgot to say "nice job" to him as I went by, because I was feeling good and threw in another little soft pass to see what would happen.  (I did say nice job by the way...) and also ultimately gapped him a little and was running scared. 
Mile 8 came and that was the big elevation change to get back into the park.  I crossed over the road with the marshalls and knew that the finish would be popping up in no time at all.  I began to become a little complacent though because I neared the 9 mile mark and did a quick check over my shoulder thinking I was going to see Marcus blazing back to catch me and he was no where to be seen, and neither was anyone else.  So that made me ease up a bit and I lost some impotence on pushing myself until I puked. 

I cruised in for a respectable 5th place overall and 2nd in the age group (even though I neglected to stay for the awards) and ran a cool down with my college roommate and recent dad, Jake and his brother Jon and with warm up totalled out to 16 miles for day.  My time was a little less than 1:45 slower than last year, but at this point of the build and my season, I'll take it... Next up is Muddy Sneaker which should be a fun mess in the next few weeks and there will be undoubtedly lots of miles out on the roads now that the weather is a little warmer now and the snow seems to be gone.  But, I'm on a rest week, so it's R+R and a few beers for me. :o) Until the next time friends, train hard and get out there and test the legs.  Cheers.

One Hour Postal final results

So the final results are in and have been tabulated HERE for the one hour postal swim that was completed by me in January.  If interested in reading about my "race report" you can find that HERE as well. All in all it was a good swim that I am proud of.  It will only get faster too.  Oh as an added bonus, if you look at the 4th name in the 30-34 AG, you can see a former teammate and now professional triathlete, Jordan Rapp who has apparently been doing his homework on the swim rocking out more than 5150 yards.  For those of you keeping track at home, that's a blazing 1:09/100yd pace.  Sick.  Alright, more to come later on, but get out there and train friends, cheers!

April 1, 2011

Spring Cleaning

So Springtime has finally arrived in the northeast and I'm slowly getting the bike up to snuff to be able to ride outside again.  The Lunar Phoenix has been good to me so far and was built up with some of the older stuff that the BEAST left behind.  So some of the parts are needing to be replaced/upgraded/etc. 

Yesterday was a solid "bike day" in the fact that I finally got 2 new tires delivered to me in the mail and the new chain that I had ordered finally came in as well.  That along with the fact that I picked up a new helmet recently (to replace the one the moron stole at Musselman) and also ordered a new 12/25 cassette as well, means that my drivetrain and bike will be pretty speedy in the next few weeks once all the options get installed on the bike (I might not put the chain on until the cassette arrives because I'm kind of anal about abnormal wear.  I like everything to be on the same page. 
So with the cassette that I ordered today, I went with a Shimano Ultegra CS-6700 12/25 cassette. I’m a big fan of the Ultegra components because they don’t cost an arm and a leg like the Dura Ace stuff does, but they hold up a lot better than the 105 garbage that Shimano produces. Currently installed on the LP is a really old Ultegra 11/23 which is what I have ridden on every single Ironman that I have ever completed. Some of the pure cyclists out there might be laughing at me, but I was a newbie in the bike thing about 6 years ago and that was the stock cassette that came with my bike, so I just kept on using it. I knew nothing about changing out cassettes. Hell, I didn’t even own a chain whip or lock key to get the cassette off.

I’ve never really felt like I needed more gears during a race, I’ve always been able to grind up pretty much any hill that I’ve been on. But with the addition of power this year and the amazing watt-o-meter, I’m thinking that it might be solid to be able to save the legs and spin a little bit more to regulate power up a hill. Still maintain the same watts, just be able to spin at an easier and higher cadence, therefore saving some leg speed for the run. Freshness has never really been a problem with racing, but 2 extra teeth on my back cog might not be all too bad to lean on, especially when fatigue is something that creeps up in the longer distances. Truth is, it’s worth a try and I’ll see how it works and if I don’t like it, I can always revert back to the 11/23 again. No worries. (Since I know have upgraded to a chain whip and lock tool as of last year)

But that’s been the bike upgrades and spring cleaning that I’ve done this year so far. Yesterday was a good bike day and I’ll be pretty stoked when the cassette comes in to get that laced up and ready to roll (pun intended). It’s also the end of a 3 week build for me and next week is a much needed rest week. I’ve been breaking down my body pretty well this year and I genuinely look forward to the recuperation periods (more or less….I NEED them) Sunday is the Spring Forward 15K and that will be a big test to blast the rust and cobwebs out of the legs and see how long I can hold sub 6 pace. I’ll report more on that next week I’m sure. But until then friends, get the bikes tuned up, because the snow seems to be gone and the rubber needs to hit the road. Get out there and JFT friends, cheers!