Just as USAT Collegiate Triathlon Nationals are becoming a distant memory, Cycling Nationals are this weekend! UW-Madison is the host school meaning the races will be literally outside my front door. I’m competing in the road race in Blue Mounds (a modified version of what was submitted for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid) and the criterium which is on the capitol square.
I was contacted by a reporter yesterday looking for cycling photos. I gave him a link to my cycling photo albums but he ended up selecting a few of my teammate Holly’s photos that she had taken of me racing! I’m in the campus paper today looking all speedy!
Here’s the link.
Stats for the Week:
Miles on the bike: 419 mi
Feet of climbing: 30,597 ft
Most climbing in one day: Blue Ridge Parkway 10,824 ft
Max speed: 61.1 mph, Blue Ridge Parkway (Any thoughts on whether this is possible or if my Garmin is just playing games with me?)
Longest ride: 102.4 mi, Cherohala Skyway
Miles of running: 21.5 mi
Spring break was both fun and epic, but you don’t have to take my word for it! Here are some accounts from my teammates!
James Pradun: Too Many Parts to List
Thursday: I did some running speed work Thursday morning, but since my legs were feeling the 103 miles from the day before, it was more of a slow jog with slightly less slow intervals thrown in! I went on another Sunshine Ride with Pat and Sparky but due to some exploring, the ride went from an intended 25 miles to almost 45. Needless to say, I was not feeling the sunshine for at least 10 miles of the ride! We ended up climbing up the back side of Stecoah Gap climb, and then descending the front side. It was fun but we had a terrifying moment when a huge dog ran in between us. It’s funny how things go slow motion in a situation like this. I remember being very calm and preparing myself for a 35 mph collision between myself, the dog and my teammates. Somehow, the dog missed all three of us, but he was literally so close I could feel his slobber on my leg! A stop in a meadow near the end of the ride to do some yoga and enjoy the gorgeous weather helped me regain my sunshine and also kept me from beating up my faster male companions for adding 20 miles to my rest day ride.
Friday: Blue Ridge Parkway Day. This was definitely my most epic ride of the week, in addition to being the most beautiful. The section we did consists of three climbs of 10, 6 and 12 miles with the last ending up at 6,053 feet, the highest point of the parkway. I surprised myself and probably everyone else by completing all three climbs plus the ride back which has 9, 4 and 2 miles of climbing.
Spring Break taught me that despite my small size, I can keep up on the descents with some of the faster guys on the team. It’s pretty easy for me to tuck myself into an aero position and just bomb down the descents. My Garmin says my max speed on the descents was 60.1 mph which seems a bit fantastical but I know I was at least in the 50 mph range for parts. Completing the 78 mile ride was definitely a great way to end up a crazy week of riding!
Of course, no trip to the south would be complete without some mingling with the locals. The boys and I made a trip into Bryson City Friday night for some karaoke and whiskey.
Saturday: Even though it was the last day, I couldn’t ignore the responsibilities I have of research and getting ready for the last block of classes. I headed into town with a couple of the boys to hang out in a cafe for the afternoon. I can’t complain though, since the cafe offered delicious Nutella and strawberry crepes!
Sunday: We hit the road at 4:30am, thanks to James Pradun taking the first graveyard shift. He was responsible for getting JBarr and I out of bed at 4:00am, not an easy feat and one I commend him on! I was definitely not ready to head back to Wisconsin. Even though I’ll see all of the people I hung out with on this trip back in Wisconsin, it’s not the same as living with them for a week straight! It was a strange feeling, kind of like saying goodbye on one of my international adventures with people I’ve had crazy times and life changing experiences with, but at the same time knowing that we’re all going back to the same place. With all of our different commitments and responsibilities in Madison the feeling won’t be the same.
Monday: This was pretty much the only day of bad weather we had and I managed to avoid the worst of it. JBarr and I started out on a group ride with about 20 dudes, but it soon became clear that it was going to be a testosterone-fueled hammer fest to start out with the guys trying to outdo each other right away instead of warming up and trying to maintain a steady tempo for the ride. We fell off the back and did our own ride at a relaxed pace. We only noticed a little mist and even saw some sun for parts of the ride. We did about 65 miles, but the last 10 miles or so the chill started to set in and it felt like the last few climbs back home were eternal. Once back at camp, we learned that around 20 people on various rides needed to be picked up because they were under-dressed for the weather and had gotten caught in rain that JBarr and I had miraculously avoided. Although our ride was tough, we definitely had a better day than 90% of our teammates on the road.
Accidental off-roading brought to you by DZ
Tuesday: The sun came out on Tuesday and we had gorgeous weather for the rest of the week. I knew I needed an easy day since I’d upping the volume of my training by about 300% this week from what I usually do back in Wisconsin. Luckily, a group of people were heading out on the “Huggy Bear Sunshine Ride” I also decided I needed to bring some triathlon spirit to the trip, so I designated myself race director of a Sprint Triathlon! In addition to Pat “Huggy Bear” Huibregtse coordinating the bike section, JBarr was sprint prime coordinator, Jon Cook lead the trail walk section and Lindsey took care of the toe dingling section. The Huggy Bear Sunshine ride kicked off at noon, with a leisurely 18 mile ride with stops for T.5 to play in the river and skip rocks and T.75 to frolic and do cartwheels in a meadow. Some participants also participated in a downhill coasting compeition, to see who could bike the furthest in their easiest gear without pedaling. There was an anti-sprint close near the end, with the last person to cross the line without track standing or un-clipping was the winner. T1 was an ice cream break, to get our strength back for the trail walk section.
Mountain Man Jon Cook, taking a break to enjoy some “nature”
Jon Kayes got a jump on the swim section with an accidental slip while wading in the river.
Sexy Women’s A’s Pic
Getting warmed up for the hike portion.
Jon Cook lead us on a 45 minute walk keeping the pace just fast enough that no one could talk. Apparently this is his strategy in cycling as well.
Getting rid of the tan lines.
Mountain Man Jon Cook got tired of the trail and told us he’d meet us at the bottom.
Lindsey lead us to the river where we indulged in an ice bath and some toe dingling to wrap up the “swim section” of the event.
Ken shows off his new swim gear.
Yes, we’re as cold as we look!
“Upstream, like a Rainbow Trout!”
Taking a break from toe dingling
I’m confident that the participants had a great experience as part of their first-ever triathlon!
Holy crap I just got back from the best spring break ever! I really meant to keep up with updates but there was no wireless at the cabins we were staying at. I spent a blissful 8 days cut off from technology, social networking and…reality! Here are some of the highlights! Most of the pictures are from my camera, but a few I stole from Sparky’s website, which you can check out here. Thanks Sparky! I’m mostly going to write about the training part of the trip, but of course the trip had its fair share of shenanigans! I’ll include some of those pictures throughout the post as well!
Friday: We smushed 5 people in a Saturn Vue and started our 15 hour drive to the Nantahala Outdoors Center (NOC) in Bryson City, North Carolina. Luckily, I’m blessed with the ability to sleep any time, anywhere, so I basically spent the whole drive passed out in the back seat. I woke up as we rolled into the NOC around 8:00 the next morning. Thanks to Brian Conger for being a champ and driving the whole way and entertaining the non-sleeping passengers by singing Disney tunes and other favorites.
Saturday: Since I slept the whole way to NC, I was ready to head out for an easy spin with Lindsey, JBarr, Oliver, KHess, and DZ. The UW Cycling team has been going to this same location for spring break for 6 years, so there are certain routes that have been named and used over and over through the years. We did “Front Side Wayah”, just under 50 miles at a relaxed pace with most of the climbing in the first half of the ride – and a lot of descending in the second half, just the way I like it! It felt good to open my legs up after being in the car and I was excited to take in the gorgeous NOC scenery. Unfortunately, Lindsey had some brake issues and slid out on her bike on one of the turns during the descent. It was pretty scary because we were going 25+ mph but luckily she only ended up with some bruises and a banged up elbow.
Sunday: I stayed off the bike and set out for a long run with Oliver and KHess. Around mile 6 we split off at our own pace and I put in 13 miles, my longest run so far this year. I felt pretty strong, but knew I’d be hurting the next morning since it was my first run since last weekend. (Note: Taking 8 days off of running between two long runs is NOT a good training plan. I blame exam week!)