Sunday, March 30, 2014

First LV100 long ride

The most important goal this week was to get in a 5 hour mtn bike ride... at any pace, and preferable hilly. That's hard to do in flat lands of northern Illinois. 65 miles and only 900ft climbing. Leadville has >10,000ft climbing.

Need more climbing. LTC. 4th street = 5%, to the west Julia street 8%, and Holmes 10%. Oh next time, just do them all. Also, instead of riding the switchback on 4th street,  try cutting right up the grass for 10%+ off road.

The weather went as predicted, 32F in the morning, South winds pick up and temps rise to 55. I got going before 8 and the few trails I tried were frozen, but still had ice and snow on them. So I stuck to roads after that. I stopped a lot early. After just an hour I was hungry and not well hydrated. Later I stopped for sunblock at a walgreens, and there was a subway next door, so I had a sandwich. After that I got in a groove, not a fast groove, just steady easy effort keeping the pedals moving. I stopped a few times to check the map. One time to check a strange noise... loose spokes on the rear wheel, that needs a truing. Each time I stopped, I removed a layer and/or replaced with lighter layer (I brought a clothes selection in my backpack). Yesterday, I bought some leg warmers on sale and wore those the last 2 hours. I really like them, and they work great.

Well, I met my goal this week of 10 hours total, and a 5hr long ride. I think my plan eases up a bit next week. I've gone from zero/nadda/nothing the last 2 weeks of February to 17hours the last 2 weeks of March. I need to be mindful with my ramp-up

Leadville beginnings

At the start of the month our group of 8 got selected for the Leadville 100 mountain bike ride. Or maybe it's a race... in my mind it's a ride. I will be trying to stay ahead of the cutoffs so I can ride the whole course. 100 miles in the mountains sounds like a great day to me.

After getting over the shock of getting selected. I realized I hadn't ridden or worked out in 2 weeks. I need a plan. I need to start riding. Chicago has had record snowfall this winter, and it keeps snowing. No riding outdoors  for me. I'll start with the compu-torture matchine. 

Basic Plan: 
  • Lose 25 lbs, 
  • Find a very comfortable setup on my mtn bike, 
  • Learn how to feed and hydrate my body during a 10-12 hour effort.
  •  Learn how to climb and learn to love-to-climb LTC

Friday, September 6, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Plan - 2013


459 Express Goals

Raise money and awareness for/of the Paul Ruby foundation

Finish as a team in just under 5 hours. Ultimate: entire team finishes together 4:59ish

Have a blast riding together and supporting each other on a 100 mile ride!




Raise funds for the Paul Ruby Foundation:

+ Basics:

+ Tips from last years top fundraisers:

+ Using LinkedIn:


459 ‘Kit’ – We don’t have a special jersey… spend your money on donations. However, I would like us to look like a team. Please wear a sub5 jersey if you have one. Otherwise, try to wear a jersey that fits in with the sub5 jersey… something light blue/light red. Mike wore a Discovery jersey and Craig a blue/gray jersey that fit in well. Black shorts are preferred. Also, the sub5 temporary Tattoo goes on the right calf facing ‘out’ (for the pics!) Basically, imagine you are going to place it in the middle of the meat of your right calve, then move it 90degrees around your leg to face out away from your bike. Mark will need to shave that portion of his leg. If you don’t have a sub5 tattoo, I’ll have them available Sunday morning.


Make sure you bike is ready. Plan out what you need in your jersey and cooler. Think “Grab n Go” pit stops. My cooler will have

1.      6 pre-filled bottles (2 for each lap).

2.      A gallon of water to chug from during the pit stop.

3.      PBnJ sandwiches, clif bars – just in case I want them

4.      Iced tea to chug from – caffeine for the last lap

My jersey pocket will have 8-10 various gel packs – 2 per lap and extras




6-7 am Packet pickup/Sign in

Find your ‘ride partner’ and place your coolers in our tent

Sort your bike out – don’t forget your water bottles

Warmup/stretch/meditate whatever you do to prepare

7:00 – Captain meeting

7:15 – Announcements

7:30 – Teams will start fastest first. I estimate 459 will start between 7:45 and 8am


100 @ 4:59 RIDE


This team is ready! We communicate well, understand the common goal, work well together and we have the legs and endurance to hit our goal. Here is the plan, info, and reminders for a great sub5 ride 9/8.


Ride Partners

I am assigning ride partners for two reasons. First and most importantly, so we ensure everyone is ready to go after pit stops. Don't be left behind when the team rolls out of the pit stop. (yes, it's happened :( ) If your assigned partner or the pair in front/behind of you is missing/not ready, call it out! Second, this is the order we will start each lap. This line up should get us up and out of the high school area, and get us moving down those first two down hills with some good speed. We can make adjustments to pairings and order, if needed, while we are moving, but we will start each lap in the following order. Also, if we put our coolers in roughly this order we can avoid some pit stop confusion.


Cpt Paul – Mike Dienhart

Craig – Carlos

Tim – Paul Cochran

Jeff – Dan

Mark – Mike Davis

Julie – Bobby D

Ben – Mike Jeffries

Steve - Scott


The Basic Pace Plan

Lap 1 – 1:35 21mph

Pit stop 1 – 4 minutes (last 3 years it’s been 3:30)

Lap 2 – 1:37 20.7mph

Pit Stop 2 – 3 minutes (last 3 years was 2:30 average)

Lap 3 – 1:40 20 mph (mile 90 is when people really feel the effort!)


We will primarily use the double pull off line. We will switch to a rotating line on Harmony road from Getty until we make the turn onto Hampshire road. That stretch of Harmony road has several curves, holes, and rough road on the whole climb from Harmony hills road until Hampshire road. We will avoid going 4 abreast on that section. If the wind is significant and a direct headwind, will switch to a single line.


Check Points

This will be on my handlebars and I will call out how we are doing. This is based on calm conditions.



Lap 1

Lap 2

Lap 3









Pit IN



4:51 (big timber)






Pit Stops

The pit stop will be on the parking lot road. We will have our own tent on the grass along the road.  Let’s be quick! Use the flushing, top-of-the-line porta-potty first… or better yet, not at all. J I expect some riders to use the porta-potty on the first stop, and none on the second stop. Then Grab-n-Go. Most likely you will need to lay your bike down to access your cooler. As soon as you have grabbed what you need, line up with your bike on the road. You can drink/eat while you stand or later when we are moving. As soon as we are all lined up and accounted for, we roll out! We’ll have at least 2 helpers in the tent, and they can tidy up after we leave. Let’s be quick, but not frantic. Efficient, effective, and then Let’s GO!


Accommodations – In a 100 mile ride there is a good chance several team members will have an issue/rough patch. We have a large and strong team, and the team can afford for riders to occasionally sit on the back to rest/regroup/refocus/eat. If you are having trouble ( or think you will have trouble ) pulling through on the front, it’s best (for the whole team) for you to sit out. Better that than disrupting the flow. Let the team know you are “out” of the rotation. When you are feeling better, let the team know you are “in” and ease back into the rotation.


Other situations:

1.      Dropped water bottle – forget about it, the group will keep moving, someone will share and/or you’ll wait until the next pit stop.

2.      Dropped chain/mechanical – depending on how far ahead of schedule we are, the group may soft pedal, or even slow, but very doubtful the team can afford to stop

3.      Flat tire – you are on your own at that point. Fix it, and join up with another trailing group if you can.

4.      Cramp - depending on how far ahead of schedule we are, the group may soft pedal and see if you can work it out. After it subsides, just hang on the back.


Lessons Learned

Safety – Do not cross the center line. Stay on the road. The right hand turns onto Walker and Eisenhower are tight and narrow, slow down and take it easy and safe through these 2 turns. Note that as we tire we will not be as alert/focused and everyone needs to give more room. The last 10 miles are when riders will certainly be struggling. Keep your head up and be aware of what is happening.


Communicate – encouragement, all aboard, take the lane, soft pedal, ease up ½ or 1 cog, slowing, clear, I’m out, I’m in, Mark is whining. If we are in a single line pass up/down the communications.


Heading north on County Line road, the road has numerous chuckholes leading up the I-90 overpass. Spread out and call out the big ones! Bleed the speed up the overpass since we have a hard, right turn over the crest. No sense killing it up that hill.


Harmony road between Harmony Hills and Hampshire roads is rough. The middle and right side of the Harmony road is rough/patched/holes.  Note that it’s worse under the shady trees.


When you are on the front with a cross wind, move your lane position (as far is safe/reasonable) into the wind. That is, if the cross wind is from the left move closer to the center line, if the wind is from the right, move closer to the shoulder.


The slow line of a rotating line should be on windward side, and the fast line on the leeward (protected) side. If there is not a significant cross wind, it doesn’t matter.


On a double pull off line with a cross wind, you can even out the effort with your partner if you switch left/right positions when you get to the back of the line.


Keep the two lines close enough together so that we punch a single hole into the wind. However, not bar-banging close. J


Aug 11 –

Key pointers we learned that day:

1) During the right turn onto both Walker and Eisenhower roads we crossed the center line on the exit of the turn. We must slow down to 10-12mph and make absolutely sure we do not cross the center line. These are blind turns to what is coming down the road, and we don't want any one hurt.
2) Keep in mind on the 'graveled' portion of Melms road, it is hard to determine where the gravely road ends, and the gravel shoulder starts.

Aug 3 –

Key pointers we learned that day:
1. Be aware when the road/shoulders narrow. Call it/point it out and move over well in advance.
2. When you're in the left line you need to keep an eye out for hazards for the right line and move over in advance so the right line has room to move left and avoid the hazard.
3. Do not cross the center line into the oncoming traffic.
4. Once the group is established on a downhill section, the front MUST keep pedaling normal effort. Otherwise the line will be riding the brakes burning energy.


Group efficiency through a turn

If you are on the front approaching a turn call out ‘hold your line’ and stop the pace line rotation. (if you are in the back, check behind and call out ‘take the lane’ if it’s clear). Before the turn, gently move to the left side of the lane for a right turn, and move to right side of the lane for a left turn. Maintain speed and sweep through the turn. Note that in most cases, simply turning and leaning your bike will slow your speed sufficient for the turn. As you straighten up note your speed and (if you can safely) glance back to see any obvious gaps in the line behind.

To keep the group together it is CRITICALLY important that the lead riders do not accelerate until the ENTIRE group is through the turn. If you are on the lead during a turn, maintain whatever your minimum turn speed was until the last rider exits the turn. E.g. if you come out of the turn at 17mph (everybody else will go at least that slow), then maintain 17mph until you hear the ‘all aboard’ signal. Then gradually begin accelerating to normal pace and restart the needed rotation for the new situation. If you are on the tail of the group, call up ‘all aboard’ as soon as the tail has completed the turn and regained contact with the group. If the captain is on the tail remind him to call it out… he tends to forget. If you are in the middle of the lineup, do not call out all aboard unless you are passing up the info from the tail.


Keeping together up the hills

There aren’t very many hills, however hills are the most likely place to gap/drop a teammate. On the training rides, I’ve let the team find their pace, and while we’ve mostly stayed together, we always went up faster than we need to. The ‘sleeper’ hill up Harmony can be taken at 18-19mph, we can crest the Higgins hump at 12-13mph, and ride 17-18 mph up Big Timber, slowing to 15mph on the steeper bits. We can do this and still stay on schedule. So let’s keep our 1st and 2nd lap enthusiasm in check and save our legs for the 3rd ‘pay day’ lap.


The Good News

We have a strong, organized team and we have practiced the course. We’ve met and exceeding our pace goals. The course corners will be swept, and the corners/intersections will have a volunteer waving us through if there are not cars. I honestly think the whole team can finish together under 5 hours, if we work together, watch our pacing, encourage each other, have decent weather, and a just a little luck.


Let’s Do It!




Celebrate with us and other sub5-ers at the Old West Steakhouse! All riders, volunteers and significant others are invited. Believe me, you will be hungry… an old shoe will be appetizing afterwards. Fortunately, there is GOOD food available. And prizes too!



Post Ride Party - Old West Steakhouse, Union IL

(Copied from sub5 eblast) We will have a party immediately after the event for all riders and volunteers. The Old West Steakhouse is providing us with their pavilion area (behind their banquet facility). They'll serve an all-you-can-eat menu of barbequed pork and chicken, hamburgers and soft drinks for a mere $16 per person. We will have introductions, announcements and drawings for prizes. Plan on joining in on the fun. The OWS is 6 miles north of HHS on Route 20. You must RSVP with Mark Ackerman/Paul Meier if you're planning to attend this event. You must be present to win prizes during the drawing.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Give us your best pull

The sun was trying to peek out as a group of 8 assembled for a quick blast to Batavia. We had Mark, Mike Davis, Jeff, Carlos, Dan, Paul from 459, and Steve from DGBC joined us as well. As soon as got out of Downers, it started raining. Mark complained. It rained hard. Mark whined. The roads had puddles. We rode. Mark rode and questioned why we do this.  After a few miles, it didn't matter because we couldn't really get any wetter. We were soaked. Besides it was a warm rain.

After the neutral zone, Dan and Jeff got on the front of the double line and put on an impressive display of power, and consistency. They kept the pace high enough that nobody seemed interested in coming around and pulling. The group got quiet trying to keep up. Even Mark was silent. We hit a lot of green lights and Dan and Jeff just kept us moving... around 23-24mph mostly. I was having one of those rides where I swear my brakes were rubbing. The point of the ride was for everyone to get on front on put in a good, hard pull... but the Dan n Jeff show is just too great to watch on their wheels. I finally sucked it up and headed for the front at 25-26mph. It took a bit, but the group took the bait and caught up with me. And, as expected, someone just had to come over the top... but to my surprise it was Jeff! He's been primarily on the front and he's the rider that comes over me and sets 29-30mph pace for a bit. When Jeff backs down to 27ish, the rest of the group pounces and the fun is ON! Next thing I know, I hanging on the back!  Good stuff. By my clock it took just over an hour DG-Batavia. Great effort by the team (the Jeff and Dan team!)

After a rest/refuel at Dimples, we head back and I immediately get dropped on that little climb coming out of Batavia. We stopped toooo long and I wasn't warmed up. oops I forgot to the emphasize the warmup/neutral zone/Paul is a slug after a stop rule. Anyhow, I chase for a few miles until the group finally hits a red light. Once we got unto Bilter/Ferry/Warrenville heading east, we had a slight quartering headwind and an angry looking storm cloud over our left shoulder. The group settled into a single line... again with Dan and Jeff on the front a lot... but I noticed that everyone took a pull during the return trip. With a light rain, it was hard to tell if it was indeed raining or just spray from the wheels. Today was a day to be on the front and save a face full of spray. Mark whined that he didn't like riding with me. We kept the pace 21-22mph on the way back, keeping the storm cloud at bay except when it gained on us at the stop lights. Mark questioned our sanity whenever we stopped. Mike did a great job pacing us up the Warrenville hill, and then Mark the climber took over. The group formation got scattered a bit, but we mostly stayed together on the climb and reformed on the way down. Fortunately, we got back into DG before a tremendous downpour and some lightening hit. I pray every one got home safely.

Scott provided:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Aug 11th course ride

A cool, calm, overcast morning greeted us for 3 shortened laps on the course. 80 miles and I hoping we could work on our teamwork, and average close to 20mph. WOW! The team crushed all my goals. First, the team rode as a single, focused unit the entire ride. Everybody knew what to do and executed the double pull off smoothly and efficiently. We averaged 21mph every lap. Like a metronome.

We had most of the 459 express team today: Craig, Mark, Mike, Mike, Mike, Julie, Bobby D, Steve, Jeff, Scott, Me, and guest Jerry. There's almost nothing to say except each lap we did at 21mph, and everybody did their part and it was a total team effort. 80 miles, 2-6minutes (4:30 actually stopped), and the pace did not fade! The team is strong, rides as a unit is set for a great sub5 effort in September.

Craigs garmin:  If you've seen one lap, you've seen them all!

Just two safety lessons.
1) During the right turn onto both Walker and Eisenhower roads we crossed the center line on the exit of the turn. We must slow down to 10-12mph and make absolutely sure we do not cross the center line. These are blind turns to what is coming down the road, and we don't want any one hurt.

2) Keep in mind on the 'graveled' portion of Melms road, it is hard to determine where the gravely road ends, and the gravel shoulder starts.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Aug 3rd course ride

The sun was out, 72F, 6-8 NNE wind, low humidity... a dozen fit riders... yes! what a fine, fine day for 2 laps on the course. Most of the 459 Express was there and we had some guests: DG bike club Prez Gary, and Rene' and John from the Turin team. I had a blast and the team improved and learned a lot today! I'm stoked for the team... we have solid riders, a team mentality, and a good handle on the pacing plan to save energy.

The first lap we established a rotating pace line once we got on Allen road. The group was a bit loose with gaps appearing and some surging to close them. And the two lines were 3-4 feet apart. We stopped after we crossed Route 23 on Melms and we cleaned up the lines. We paced ourselves nicely up and over I90 smoothly bleeding down to 16-17mph. AND nobody broke any spokes in the chuckholes. All was reasonably well until we got to Riley and were heading into the quartering headwind. We changed our rotation to match the wind (keeping the slow line to the windward side, and fast line to leeward)... and the formation kinda fell apart. Gaps and accelerations in mid-line and decelerations/accelerations on the front during pull-throughs. Even these small changes in pace will wear on us on a 100 mile ride. Anyhow, we finished the lap averaging low 20mph average speed. We did a 10 minute stop, including a 4-5 minute talk and review of our pace line issues.

The start of the first lap we tried a double pace line (both riders on front pull off, and the group 'threads the needle'). That didn't last long because while we were 4 wide, the rider dropping back (Tim) got squeezed off the road when the shoulder narrowed... and not enough room was given by the group threading through. We decided to work on the single rotating pace line and the group a good groove going. The lines were tight and close together and keep the pace moving and smooth. I was loving it. We had some trouble with the right hand turn off of Melms unto Eisenhower (it's unmarked). Some of the group crossed the center line coming out of the turn and there was oncoming traffic. A bit scary, but all was well.

After Riley we had our counter clockwise rotation working well and many commented how the second lap felt easier, particularly on that part of the course we had struggled on the first lap. We were working better together as a team and saving energy. At one point we slowed because Mike lost track of the road under the piles of grass clippings in the road. He was in the right hand line, couldn't move left, kept his cool and rode over the grass... got a little too far right and realized he was off the road. He coasted and eased it back unto the pavement without further incident. Craig had a front row seat to that cyclo-cross excursion. Once we got the group together, I had us soft pedal a half mile or so for Mikes adrenaline surge to subside. After that, the group was solid again. We finished the 2nd lap ~20.5mph,  maybe a little more and most everybody thought the 2nd lap was easier.

Craigs Garmin Stats.
(Note Craig suffered a cramp with 4-5 miles to go and soft pedaled those last few miles.)

A great practice ride! We improved our teamwork, learned some from our incidents, and kept the rubber side down. The team is coming together. Next course rides will be 3 shortened (~27mile) laps with shorter pit stops. These simulate event day efforts (big timber hill 3 times and 2 short stops) without doing the whole monty.

Key pointers we learned today:
1. Be aware when the road/shoulders narrow. Call it/point it out and move over well in advance.
2. When you're in the left line you need to keep an eye out for hazards for the right line and move over in advance so the right line has room to move left and avoid the hazard.
3. Do not cross the center line into the oncoming traffic.
4. Once the group is established on a downhill section, the front MUST keep pedaling normal effort. Otherwise the line will be ridding the brakes burning energy.