Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another Level

Have you ever heard of the Iditarod Trail Invitational Adventure Race? Probably not, so here's the skinny. These folks are insane in the membrane. At least you do get a choice in your mode of transport: bike, ski, or foot. But come on, are you kidding me? I've been checking out this blog for a while, and she'll be starting the 350 tomorrow. Her latest entry has links for race updates and a SPOT tracking page. And to think that I was just complaining to myself about the cold this morning. I'm a fu**ing pu**y compared to these folks. Over and out.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Who'd have thought that Iowa would be on the cutting edge of legislation supporting the rights of cyclists on the roads? But they are. Whenever I hear somebody say they're not going ride on the road anymore it makes me sad. I love to ride the sweet singletrack that we're lucky enough to have around here, but I also love cruising up shore drive on my road bike. They are two totally different and wonderful experiences, and it's a shame that a few dumb a** drivers have been able to scare so many people off of the roads. Not to mention the fact that it's nice to use a bike in place of a car every once in a while as well. So that's my two cents for the weekend. Have a good one and enjoy the snow while you still can.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let's Talk About the Weather

If you don't live round these parts and want to check out one fu**ed up weather forecast, check this out. Was that possible thunder you're forecasting there, along with the freezing rain and 4 to 7 inches of snow? Anyway, my ribs are still pretty messed up so it looks like another afternoon off the skis and a hot sauna. Have a happy thursday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I took this picture from the corner of my block on the way into work this morning. It was a pretty sunrise, and I thought I'd share it with you all.

Ski update: The snow conditions just north of town in Cross Village are not nearly as good as what we've got closer to home. I went to a SBYC ski outing up that way on saturday, and the subpar conditions (one to one point five inches of snow on top of a thin layer of ice and/or bare frozen ground) led to my nastiest crash of the season. To make a long story short, I attempted to ski down a hill that I shouldn't have. After attaining a scary fast speed in a matter of seconds, I proceeded to hit what I believe was a stump. I lost my balance and slammed myself face first into the frozen ground so hard that it knocked the wind out of me. My ribs and back are very, very sore. On the brighter side of skiing, I've not let the pain stop me from enjoying some of the best backcountry conditions we've had all year. I had great three hour sessions at the tower on sunday and monday. Yesterday I took the day off to let the ribs heal a little. I had a good sauna in the afternoon, and that seemed to take away some of the aches and pains. I'm going to try a little light classic skiing tonight after work, and we'll see how I feel after that. Over and out.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Random Saturday

I just had to share this picture that I found online this morning. Fu**ing Doper. Go away.

The snows been good, and I'm going to start another streak today. Hopefully it will last until I leave for the U.P. and my last ski race in two weeks. Black Mountain is one week from today, and Bear Chase is the week after.

My new digs are getting closer by the day. Hugh has been unbelievably helpful in getting up a good chunk of the walls. I can almost smell the insulation. Thanks Hugh. I'm having a real hard time figuring out how I'm going to repay the favor.

I'm starting to get the itch for spring. It's been a long time since I've seen the ground without snow on it.

Have a good weekend. I will.

Monday, February 16, 2009

2009 VASA 50 km Race Report

My alarm went off at 4:45 am saturday morning to kick off my 2009 VASA experience. After a little last minute packing and some chow, Sarah and I got on the road just before six. That put us in the parking lot of the TImber Ridge Campground at 7:45, leaving me with 45 minutes to get changed, signed in, and apply kick wax for the day. I wasn’t quite as rushed as last year, but it was still a little tight getting to the line before the 8:30 start. Perhaps next year we’ll try and get on the road fifteen minutes earlier to avoid any unnecessary rushing and fussing. Anyway, the gun went off promptly at 8:30, and the race was on. I felt pretty good off the line despite the complete lack of training in the two weeks leading up to the race. The race pace for a marathon ski race is tough to nail down. In a hundred mile mountain bike race you can’t go nearly as hard because you know you’re going to be at it for over ten hours. Conversely, for a cross country mountain bike race or a shorter ski race you can go as hard possible right from the gun because you’ll only be out for two, or maybe three hours. When you’re looking at four to five hours of ski racing, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere in the middle. You can lean a little towards the harder end of the pace, just as long as you don’t lean too far. In the first lap of 27 km conditions were excellent, and my skis were feeling perfect. I ramped up the pace a bit. I knew I was taking a gamble, but I figured I may as well tick off as many kilometers as I could while everything was going well. And so it went for the first lap. I had one crash about halfway through, but I was back up and skiing within 15 or 20 seconds so that wasn’t too big of a deal. I’d slow down just long enough to grab a cup of energy drink and a banana or orange at the aid stations, and at the 2:12 mark lap 1 was in the books.

I grabbed some chow from the aid station in the transition area and headed out for lap 2. I was still feeling okay, but my right shoulder began to hurt. Thinking back to my earlier crash, I realized that I had fallen on my right side. The adrenalin must have kept the pain at bay for a little while, but it was definitely starting to wear off. A sharp pain in my right shoulder would be my companion for the rest of the race. In situations like that, it’s helpful to develop a mantra of sayings about pain. My personal favorites (in no particular order) are: Pain is just weakness leaving the body. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Pain is your friend, it let’s you know you’re still alive. Back to lap 2. Last year the 23 km second lap was almost completely different from the first. Also, there was not nearly as much climbing. This year, due to a warm spell leading up to the race, they were unable to use this section of the course. So we repeated almost all of the first lap again. This included a particularly nasty section of hills that I had previously thought I was only going to have to complete once. To make matters even a little more challenging, the downhills were scraped down to bulletproof ice with big piles of snow piled up in the corners due to the extra traffic. Thankfully I didn’t have another crash. However, the mental impact of the sketchy conditions and repeating some big climbs that I had thought were done for the day began to take their toll. It’s amazing how much of a factor the mental side of things can make. If you start to focus too much energy on pain, cold, hunger, etc., it can be very counterproductive. The trick is to block that s**t out and focus on the job at hand. I did a good job of this right up until about the 40 km mark. From there on out, I admit to having some very bad and counterproductive thoughts. I was getting cold. My shoulder was killing me. I was hungry. For all intents and purposes, I was running on fumes for the last 10 km of the race. Fortunately, I had just enough left in the tank to make it to the finish line. I skied 50 kilometers in 4 hours and 35 minutes with an average heart rate of 160 and 3,560 feet of climbing. That was good enough for second in my age group (out of three) and tenth overall (out of twenty-one). All in all, a good day I’ll say. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 13, 2009

TC Bound

I've been keeping it on the DL because I wasn't sure if the whole breathing thing was going to put the kibosh on tomorrows race (North American VASA) or not. I've been getting a little better on the breathing, but I also haven't been skiing on the skinnies in over two weeks. I'm going down tomorrow morning anyway to throw my hat in the proverbial ring. In reality, I'll be taking a couple of puffs off my inhaler around 8:00 before setting off to ski 50 kilometers as fast as I can. Earlier in the week I entertained thoughts of not going. When I mentioned this to Sarah, she got all like "Oh, I guess I've never know you to not do a race when you were already signed up for it. Well, if that's what you want to do, it's fine...I guess" Nothing like a little shame from the wifey for that little bit of extra motivation. I shall report back from the other side. Take care and have a good weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vino, Vino

We used to carry and sell a ton of this wine a while back. Unfortunately, the distributor ran out, and we haven't seen hide nor hair of this bottle in almost six months. Well it's back, and it's just as good as I remembered. It's tough to find a decent ten dollar zinfandel these days, but this one fits the bill perfectly. It's full bodied and dry, as one would expect from a zinfandel. And while there are subtle hints of raspberry, they are balanced well with a hearty oak and pepper flavor. A lot of zinfandels these days allow the fruitiness to overpower everything else, and this is especially true among those in the lower price range. This Melanto Terrace 2005 Zinfandel is bucking that trend, and I like it. A customer from down the street called yesterday to see if it had come back in stock yet. I told her that it had, and that I had three cases in the stacks. She's stopping in today to pick up all three; she must like it to. We're charging $10.69, but looking online it looks like most places might be charging closer to $14. But even at that price, I'd still think it a good bargain. Over and out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


With the spring like temperatures we've been having the last few days, you may be fooled into thinking warmer days are just around the corner. The reality is that winter is far from over. The temps. are going to be heading back down below freezing tonight, and snow is expected off and on throughout the weekend. But that's a good thing because I'd like to get back to this skiing thing now that I've got my nifty little puffer. My breathing seems to be slowly, but surely improving. I'm working my way towards the 635 mark ml by ml. My current record is 580. I think I'll have to sample a new bottle of wine tonight, so look for a review tomorrow. Until then, some pictures from my weekend.

Sunday Matt and I hiked down to the beach and out and around on the ice.

Yesterday the 50 degree temperature let Hugh and I get out for a quick spin before getting to work on the new shop. That was my first time spinning any sort of pedal in over two months, and it felt pretty fu**ing good.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Breathe In Breathe Out

My on again/off again breathing issues this winter finally forced me to consult the opinion of a health care professional yesterday. It was my first office visit with our friend and doctor Greg. Aside from finding out that my lungs are really fu**ed up, it was far and away the most pleasant visit to the doctors office I've ever had. I thought it may be a little weird going to see a doctor who you were friends with, but nothing could be further from the truth. We spent a good half hour discussing my general health and training regiment before diving into the main reason I came to see him: my sporadic inability to take in a complete breath over the last couple of months. Enter the Personal Best Peak Flow Meter pictured below.

Before deciding what course of action to take, Greg wanted to see what kind of numbers I could put up on the meter. For someone my height and age, I should be able to put out around 635 ml/min. I told him I was feeling pretty good yesterday, so I wasn't sure if the test would tell us much. I blew into the tube as hard as I could three times. I couldn't get the red marker over the 500 mark. And I didn't feel short of breath at all yesterday. Houston, we have a problem, and it's name is asthma. So what does all this mean? I did the math so you don't have to. Over the last couple of months, on good days I've been operating with a 21.2 % decrease in lung capacity. This morning I took a reading when I first got up. I felt a little short of breath but not too bad. I hit 450, barely. That's a 29.1% decrease. Holy S**t. Now all the issues I've been having this winter are starting to make sense. Obviously this explains the shortness of breath, but I've also been experiencing what I felt like was an increased heart rate. If my blood is only getting 75 or 80% of the oxygen it normally does, it makes sense that it would have to circulate it at a greater rate in order to do the same amount of work that I'm used to. Anyway, I've got this nifty little steroid inhaler. After two puffs, I can get my output up to 550. After about six hours, I'm back down below 500. Two more puffs and I'm back to a hair over 550. For the next three weeks I'm supposed to test myself many times throughout the day, and record my puffs and numbers. Since I'm not a professional athlete, at least I don't have to worry about getting a TUE. I'm going to start back to full time light training next week, and we're just going to have to play it by ear as far as the racing goes. Have a good weekend, and take a nice deep breath for me.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Back to Work

Sorry for the delay. But KiKi's back to work after her maternity leave, and that means a schedule change for me. For the next couple of months I'll be off Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I'm pretty stoked since I've been working six days a week for the last couple of months. Unfortunately, we don't have the interweb at home. This means that I won't be able to update the old blog quite as often as I'd like, unless I travel into the big city with my laptop on one of my days off. In ski related news, the backcountry skiing has been fu**ing amazing for the last week. Every day's a powder day when there's a foot of fresh snow in the woods and you're willing to earn your turns. It's been so good I haven't even strapped on a pair of skinnies in almost a week, but tomorrows looking like a good skate session after work. I've gotten some good feedback from the product reviews so look for something later in the week. I've almost gotten the 2009 race schedule hammered out (kickoff is less than two weeks away at The North American VASA 50 km ski race), so keep your eyes peeled to the right (directionally not politically). And on that note, I'll close out the midweek post with a funny YouTube clip that I saw awhile back but forgot to post. Take care, and thanks for reading.