STP Training

After last year’s How not to ride STP, I embarked on this season determined to get in some great rides and procure for myself the coveted one-day rider patch. By adding thirty miles to the century course at today’s Flying Wheels, I managed to take a simple local ride and turn it into a very well-supported training ride.

Looking back on the 130-mile ride and realizing that STP is approaching quickly in a few weeks, I figure it’s time to check in with my list from last year and see how I’m doing at taking my own advice.

  1. Saddle Time
    Despite a far busier schedule this year, I’ve managed to make the most of my free time and sneak in quite a few long rides on a healthy shoulder. Ranging from 40 miles to today’s 130-mile ride, my rear end has had plenty of time to get reacquainted with the saddle.
  2. Tandem vs. Solo
    While I’ll certainly miss tucking in behind my Dad this year, we’ll both be riding solo and frankly, I’m stoked. Training alone has reminded me how much I enjoy riding my own way.
  3. Pain Killer
    Don’t leave home without it. Around mile 75 this afternoon, I hit up the med tent for something to help kill the creeping pains in my knees and butt. Though the pain was certainly manageable, with another 55 miles left on the day I wasn’t taking any chances.
  4. Hauling Gear
    I always fail to understand why people insist on carrying so much junk on their back in such a well supported ride and today was no exception. With regular water and food stops it seems silly to carry much more than a couple of water bottles and enough food to get you to the next stop. After three months of having to haul my own food and water for long CTS rides, I was happy to head out today without my water pack. With all my tools tucked into my saddle bag, a phone and jacket in my jersey pockets, I still had plenty of room for a bagel, banana and PB crackers to carry me to the next stop.
  5. Hills vs Flats
    Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are very few “flats”. But for all the hoopla surrounding the Flying Wheels hills (nearly 3,000 feet of climbing), I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy some great “rolling” hills with a terrific tail-wind.
  6. The Pits
    Flying Wheels provided food and water stops around every 15 miles, with the exception of a 30-mile stretch between stops on the century route. While I did actually stop at most of the stops to refuel and stock up, my time at each stop was limited to no more than 5 minutes, not counting any time spent waiting in line for the porta-potty. Grab some food, stand in line while eating, send email to Chris and friends about my status, fill up water bottles and head out. Any food that didn’t manage to make it into my mouth in those 5 minutes was shoved into my pockets for the next stretch.
  7. PSVs
    With only a fraction of the number or riders expected on STP, today’s Flying Wheels was a pleasure to ride. The road free of personal support vehicles, riders were prepared to handle their own minor mechanical issues and kept their families and support to the finish line. In planning for your own STP adventure, please download the Pre-Ride Guide for more information about PSVs and convenient meeting points where family and friends can join the route for a quick hello while staying off of the main route.
  8. Decent Training
    Suffice it to say that I feel much more prepared for STP this year over last year. The long miles are behind me as I round out my training with a few shorter rides in the next couple of weeks. While I’m still a bit daunted by the idea of adding another 70 miles to today’s total, it’s Portland-or-Bust and I’m ready to tackle the one-day ride. It may not be fun and it’s not likely to be pretty…but I’ll finish.

This year’s Flying Wheels was absolutely one of the best and most beautiful rides I’ve ever ridden. With 115 miles on the day I was feeling great and ready to get on with the home stretch. Another round of applause to Cascade for a terrific event.

From Japan (Part 11): the Kanbe Ryokan

Mark says: this dates from the 15th

yesterday the monsoon rains arrived. we woke up and mounted our bikes for a long slog in a constant drizzle. homeboy had grown weary of the truck traffic breathing down our necks, so he plotted a course on a parallel road. basically, there are three roads following the river north from Gifu: a highway that the government had shot through mountain tunnels and high bridges, a prefectural road 156 which much of the trucks use, and a series of often single lane roads hopping the riverbanks. the small roads took us through dozens of little neighborhoods…modest houses almost always with a rice paddy alongside.

the incessant rain wasn’t so bad, but an hour or two into the ride my right knee developed a pain where i have never had pain before. i’m not sure what’s causing it…i think it might be the wider stance of the touring crank. whatever the cause, an hour or two further on and i was gasping in agony. this was and continues to be a major problem…

eventually we made it to a town where the little road and 156 met up again, with a view of the amazing infrastructure of the big highway spanning tunnels set high into the mountain. we found a town info center, and i negotiated for the very helpful woman there to set us up in a ryokan (traditional inn).

this ryokan was like f%&#ing shangra la to us. we were filthy and just knackered. The Kanbe ryokan didn’t have a view, but it had clean tatami mat rooms (without centipedes) and served dinner with the room. after an induglent japanese bath, we got this huge spread of food. so many courses of japanese cuisine….shabu-shabu, pickled vegetables, potatoe soup, sashimi, seafood custard, and more. the room, all that, and breakfast for 6500 yen each. well spent.

however my knee is definitely not good. we are going to have to shorten our route because i can’t make a good pace. we’ll probably make a shortcut to Takayama rather than go to Shirokawa-go. At least the sun is out, but all roads forward go up into the mountains….

Just another reason to ride

Splash News Online | Angelina Jolie and the Hitcher

So James Ambler has been following Angelina Jolie around New York on a Trek mountain bike, taking her picture as she makes appearances to promote her new movie A Mighty Heart. He’s become such a fixture that Jolie and her kids have nicknamed him “Lance.”

On Thursday, Ambler hit a nail and flatted. Rather than leave him behind, Jolie gave the punctured papparazzo a lift to their next destination in her SUV.

I know some of you are saying he should have turned it down, rather than riding in a gas-guzzling SUV, but Ambler happily accepted a hitch from one of the world’s most beautiful women, and spent about 30 minutes in her company. Ambler said Jolie was “really down to earth, really lovely.” Splash News has photos and video of Ambler describing the encounter.

Team Bike Hugger: Methow Valley Tour

Pam and I are at the Methow Valley Tour and blogging about it on Team Bike Hugger. Late summer last year Pam and I rode Mazama and the valley on a relaxed tour where we saw lots of yellow trucks and smoke.

Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France

Floyd Landis book, Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France, is on sale and he’s embarking on a book tour to promote it. The book and tour are making some news and the blogs are posting – no word if the WADA will test him during this tour.

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