My New Mountain Bike–3rd Time is the Charm

As many are well aware, I love PINK and really love riding pink bikes.  It was no surprise to anyone, especially not to Ironman Danish, that I would want to replace “Ma,” my 26er hardtail mtb with an even pinker replacement when the time came.  That time was approaching fast all summer, as I noticed small cracks in the seat tube of my frame.  Safe to say, after a summer that included ORAMM, riding in Breckenridge, and the Leadville Trail 100 mtb, “Ma” was ready to retire.  The small cracks were becoming big cracks, and one day the seat post just poked through the frame while working on jumping and wheelies with my MTB Coach Bob McCarty (of AG McCarty Factory Racing/McCarty Training).

"Ma" enjoying the view and fresh air at 12, 000 feet atop Wheeler Pass in CO.

“Ma” enjoying the view and fresh air at 12, 000 feet atop Wheeler Pass in CO.

So the search began.  Ma and I had a real attachment, it was not going to be easy to find a replacement.  I tried to get my hands on some pink bikes, but none seemed to be coming to fruition.  I was about to give up all hope and just order a run of the mill black bike and accessorize it with pink until I got a text from Bob.  He rides for this bike company, based and built in the USA (and not just in the USA–in MIA…that’s right there is a little ‘dale’ in my bike)–AG Bicycles.  AG has been developing their custom brand for a little while now and were excited at the idea of making a pink MTB (which I also was pretty excited about).

Bob and his AG (not sure he names his bikes...)

Bob and his AG (not sure he names his bikes…)

Now, obviously, I had to first see if I even liked riding their bikes.  Since I had been bike-less since the seat post incident and had been living on borrowed bikes (and racing on them–thank you Darren from the Scoot, Skate, Bike Co aka Miami Bike Shop for EVERYTHING he did and does to get me out on the trails), I had a pretty strong feeling for the type of bike I like.

Me racing on one of the sweet-ass bikes Darren let me test.

Me racing on one of the sweet-ass bikes Darren let me test.

I knew that I liked the way the Jamis that Mike has rides (at the time, he was riding the 2012 version of this bike, now he is on this sweet machine).  It was stiff, snappy, and didn’t feel like a 29er.  So upon my next lesson at the trails, Bob and I traded machines for a lap at Amelia Earhart Park (he had Mike’s Jamis and I had Bob’s AG–that’s right, I got to ride Bob’s bike–we are all the same size as luck would have it).  I was SHOCKED.  The AG FELT LIKE HOME!!  It felt like if I closed my eyes and you told me it was Mike’s Jamis, that I would believe you–only it felt a hair lighter (granted, this could have been the fact I had an empty water bottle).  I was sold–this would be my bike AND IT COULD (and WOULD) BE PINK!

Hot damn! Hot pink!

Hot damn! Hot pink! (note: this is not just a primer)

It could not have turned out any better.  In fact, I sort of wanted to cry because the guys at AG Bicycles were so amazing (including Bob and local MTBer and AG McCarty Factory Racing Team Manager John Koch who provided me with status updates).  The care and detail that went into this bike was unreal.  The AG guys even took me to the paint mixer to make sure it was a pink I liked!!  Amazing!  But nothing could compare to when I saw the finished product.  They went ABOVE and BEYOND….and so, with no further ado, I introduce you to Babs:

Babs

Babs, aka a nickname for Barbara, is inspired by several strong women in my life who have owned this name.  Babs because in my head I always secretly referred to every Barbara I knew as Babs.  One of them had the strongest handshake anyone has ever encountered.  She was and is a powerful woman.  The other was outrageously outgoing who was not afraid to tell anyone who she was and was all about having a fun time.  Strong, confident, and fun? What could be three better attributes to a sweet ride?

Now to face the facts–riding a hot pink bike in Cat 1 racing–I have NO CHOICE but to ride this bike as fast as I can and show the power of pink!

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Ironman Eve

Today is Ironman Eve.  The day started with a mini triathlon for both of the Ironman.  The plan: a small swim (barely to the coffee barge–I went “all the way” to the barge), followed by a 45 minute ride with some “openers,” and then a brisk run that contained more “openers.”  I played “ironmate” and tagged along for all but the run (shocking I know).  The swim was pretty awesome, as always, but what made it even awesomer was that we ran into THE Caveman aka Conrad Stoltz doing a little swim to ride transition.  Super cool!

After riding 45 minutes withe guys, I headed out for another hour of riding solo.  I rode down to the burial grounds and back.  Along my ride I noticed how welcoming the local beaches looked today, since the “vog” had finally lifted.  It’s been very “voggy” since we have been here.  Vog might be my new favorite Hawaiian term, and one I can pronounce, it means a smog/fog produced from volcanic activity.  Cool.  The local beaches were so awesomeful looking, Rae and I decided to let the Ironmen be on their Ironman eve to stew together about their transition bags on their own and we headed with our goggles to float around as if snorkeling and take some sweet pics with cool fishes.  Unfortunately, we both had polarized lenses on our swim goggles, so lots of pics of tops of our heads and half fishes here are some of the best:

After our trip to the beach, we came back and helped the two Ironmen prepare for lift off aka bike check in.  Di’s were charged, transition bags were packed and at 4 on the dot we rolled (well, we walked along side two rolling bikes) down to transition (aka the place where they change from sport to sport).

Leaving the condo….

In the elevator

On the road to transition

Did I mention I might have a secret calling as a papparazzi?

Rae and I taking pics of each other when they got tired of our ridiculous picture taking….

Ironman Danish heading in….

Mission accomplished!  Bikes have been dropped, Ironmen fed, and now we are off to bed.

Dinner!

The only difference from Ironman eve and Christmas eve is that instead of Santa and lots of gifts awaiting you in the morning, you have to wake up, swim 2.4 miles, bike 112miles, then run 26.2miles for free….yeah, that doesn’t make it sound that cool….but it does prompt me to create this hashtag (or at least point one out that may already exist):  #TGINR (Thank God I’m Not Racing).

Red sky at night!  Good news for these two sailor Ironmen!!!!

Race reporting to follow tomorrow! 1606!!!! Track that!

Poppa’s been smooth since days of Underroos….

Yesterday marked the running of the tri geeks in tighty whiteys aka The Underpants Run.  Little do most triathletes know, but this run began as a means for locals to make fun of all the triathletes who like to walk around in teeeny tiny speedos with horrific tan lines in town.  Ironman Danish, BDubbs, Rae, and I participated in this ritual last year along with Nelson (Ironman Danish BFF who didn’t make the trip this year) and were all geared up to participate again this year, even shopping for the coolest underroos before leaving MIA.

They woulda been cool….

You’re welcome….

However, Ironman Danish has been really nursing a calf muscle strain and battled back from a bad spot with the help of Beyond Wellness doctor Katie Kreis, so, needless to say he is wary to do even the smallest run in undies without proper warm up and cool down/stretch session.  As a result, we skipped it.  You can thank us now for no pics of us in our underroos.  Also, Nelson was not here, really taking a little bit of the ridiculousness out of this event.

2011 With Nelson (with him this event is at least 19% more ridiculous….)

Where is Nelson this year one may wonder….lets just say he needs to put his training wheels back on the bike….

The rest of the day, well, was pretty mellow.  Historically, two days before ANY race, both Ironman Danish and I like to take as a rest day.  The Ironman World Champs is no different, and, BDubbs is on that same rest program.  Thus the day was spent lounging around the condo–which, I should mention, isn’t a terrible place to spend the day.  We even were able to catch a pod of dolphins frolicking–it was AWESOME.

I did venture out into the world to take some glamor shots of Fergie with her lei beachside and also to check out the expo.

Damn straight

Then we went to church

There was nothing much happening at the expo, in fact, I feel as though last year’s expo had more things I really liked for sale–this is a good thing, for my wallet.  One item, and it was not at the expo, spoke to me this year and it was a super sweet set of arm sleeves from Planet Sun Hawaii.

They match perfectly….

Luckily there was even more free stuff being given away.  Turns out, most of the SRAM guys mountain bike and were really happy when we asked to see the new XX derailleuer and they loaded us up with schwag.  I, in turn, loaded them up with some sweet Rose Bandit koozies!

Ironman Danish seems to be in a good spot and, has an AWESOME race number: 1606!  His pretty hate machine (aka his TT bike) is all charged (Di and all) and ready to rock!!!

The Ironman and I after a long day of lounging….

Spacemen and Kona Hills

So, now, let me back track a little bit to recount yesterday’s activities.  The day started with a somewhat, ok, no, totally weird request from Mike’s coach (who, I should mention, is also a friend of ours) to take a picture of Mike’s backside in a speedo….yeah…..I decided the best place for this rear end photo shoot was probably at the beach and perhaps underwater for that matter.  So we headed to the beach for our morning swim/photoshoot.

Euro photo shoot pic #1

Euro photo shoot pic #2

After our risque photo shoot (I should mention, I did not play a part it–rather it was an awesomely European bonding moment between BDubbs and Ironman Danish offshore a ways….I am not even jealous) we headed back to the condo for some eats and some down time before heading out on our respecitve bike rides for the day.  Rae and I decided to snap some sweet shots of the space men before heading out.

Spacemen prepare for flight

BDubbs putting out the vibe

Ironman Danish….yeah

Ironman Danish and BDubbs had some specific workouts to do, luckily Rae and I did not.  So we headed out on a three hour ride in the Kona hills.  We rode up to 2000ft in pretty much 2 miles (the road, which had a name that sounds like someone saying aloha like 20 times, kicked up to 20% at the end).  The final 20% kick at the top almost killed me as I was rocking a sweet time trailing cassette on Fergie’s loaner wheel–an 11 x 23.  Yeah–that sucked and I almost died of an asthma attack.  Luckily, crisis averted by the trusty inhaler.

We then were in some beautiful rolling hills that overlooked miles and miles of lava fields that run all the way down to the Ocean.

Goats chillin in the lava fields

Regina and Fergie taking in the views

We turned around on our out and back course and had an awesome cruise back towards the Alohaalohaalohamahalo Road for a fun filled descent that began with negative 20% (we were going about 45 mph–way more than 30).  The only thing that made it not that awesome was the shakey front wheel I had going down it.  Turns out Ironman Danish was trying to kill me, when we built our bikes at 2am East Coast time the night we arrived apparently my front break cable got a little frisky and decided to get closed into the stem….yeah, turns out my wobble wasn’t a speed wobble but rather a “your break cable is attached to your stem” wobble.

My “yay I didn’t die” photo op….

After not dying, we headed away from home a little longer on the Queen K to get in some extra time to make our ride a full three hours.  On the way home we collected some serious giveaways and had two opportunities to refill our bottles at a Gu roadside stop and a Island Bike Works roadside stop.  Not bad.  We swung into the Energy Lab for some shots before heading home.

Fergie loading up on some energy at the lab

Rae posing at the Energy Lab next to a sign that we are clearly past that commands no cyclists beyond that sign….oops…

Upon returning home, we stopped in and thanked Planet Sun for their amazing sun protection they provided us with on our ride (and everyday of the year).  I then headed out on my mission to get Fergie leid….she shall have more glam lei shots today.

Fergie leid on lava beach

M Dots….the M is for Marketing the Dot is for the “O” in Opportunity….

One thing that there is no shortage of here in Kona at the Ironman World Champs is shameless marketing.  Triathletes eat that shit up, so why not try every possible marketing scheme to get people to like your product?

M Dot

Here are my top three favorite marketing schemes so far:

1.  Underwater billboards.  Yup.  On the Ironman Swim Course, which pretty much every tri geek and their “ironmate” (sorry, I almost puked in my mouth a little just typing that) swims each morning (except for the Pros–who swim at the local pool), some serious marketing geniuses put together the thought of underwater signage to direct you towards the expresso barge.  There are also signs to tell you about a newest greatest energy product that you can probably get for free on the beach, and other signs.  GENIUS!  I mean, this might be better than highway billboards.  You are already looking down, why not have something other than the beautiful nature under you to peak your interest in swimming in these beautiful waters?

Billboards!!!

2.  Chocolate milk.  With the help of some elite triathletes, a milk company has decided to reinvent the wheel but rebranding chocolate milk as THE BEST way to recover EVER.  They have taken it so far that they have a tent set up with free chocolate milk giveaways for your post swim recovery and information on the benefits of their chocolate milk.  I was so blown away by the new round wheel they were selling I actually had to commend them for their marketing genius–as I took my free chocolate milk, of course.

Not gonna lie here, I stocked up on some of the goodness….

3.  Priceless giveaways.  It makes you wonder what it costs to make some of these products that just get thrown at anyone sporting an Mdot wristband or at those who look like maybe they are racing (for instance, me).  There are several aggressive attempts to gain market share by an INSANE amount of free-shit handouts.  I mean, I have already racked up the following: a rather nice running shirt (would be really nice but it is red and a size large), a water bottle, a swim cap, new Louis Garneau branded gels, and, of course, enough chocolate milk for the next two years.   Ironman Danish has racked up the same AND THEN SOME including TYR “Special Ops” goggles and the other free stuff that came in the race packet (granted, this stuff is not really free, in fact, each race really paid $650 dollars for the “free” stuff in their registration bags). In fact, had Ironman Danish read the “official program” earlier, he would have seen the full page ad on the back of it in which Rudy Project offered FREE Wingspan helmets to anyone who afreed to wear their neon aero helmets in all races for a year (including the IMWC.  Of course, he still wouldnt have gone to get the helmet as Ironman Danish is practically allergic to aero helmets, and, if you may recall last year, the penalty tents were overwhelmingly populated by triathetes in the neon dome pieces.

Free!!!!!!

Now, I do love getting free shit as much as the next person, but even I have to say it is a little out of hand.  You know what should have been free–a lei for me/Fergie.  My race bike, Fergie, made by a Rose Bandit Team Sponsor Boom Bikes, needed to get her taste of Hawaii and get laid today, but her lei cost $7!!!  I mean, could it be that the wingspan cost less to make than the lei?  Urgh….

But damn that lei looks good on her….

Sorry for the venting, my real post about the days events are coming soon…..

Team Danish- Mud, Mechanicals, and Rain, oh my!!

Ironman Danish and I were looking for a fun something to do for Labor Day weekend….well, more accurately, we were looking for races we wanted to do on the horizon and couldnt come up with any as we were not committed to racing the full FSC.  We ended up really hmming and hawing and finally settling on racing the 8 Hours of Labor race on Labor Day weekend–but rather than our usual individual races, we would combine our power into “Team Danish” and race the two person team “coed” division.  We scoped out the race results from years prior to see that this was a very popular option at this race and were excited to race against some great coed teams.

And–in the 8hr solo–Tinker Juarez: the man, the myth, the legend!

I was pretty convinced that the race would look a little something like this:

Ironman Danish takes first two laps, including the Lemans start to kick off the race, and would hand the race over to me with an already very comfortable lead.  I would simply get to ride out the rest of the race at a nice little tempo.

Ironman Danish in the pink (obvi) at the Lemans start….

However, this is how the race actually went down:

Ironman Danish and I set up a nice little camp/invited ourselves into a nice little camp with pro Bob McCarty and his long time go-to two person team partner Grant.

Grant and me chillin’ at the tent

These guys are pretty much the bomb.  When I first started riding the ol’ MTB a long, long, long–oh wait, no, about a year and half ago–I would see Bob riding the trails “running from ghosts” (aka fast) and would yell to him as he floated out of site that “someday I am going to ride like you Bob.”  And, that is still my plan–someday I will, but with a slightly more pink flair.  Anyway, we set up camp with these guys.  Ironman Danish headed out and by the time I saw him he was already in the top three with a solid lead on the rest of the field.  Peeerrrrfect.  I rode back to the tent and was ready to hand up bottles in about 30 or so minutes after the first lap.  Grant and I shot the breeze and all was mellow until riders started pouring in for the end of the first lap.  I saw the leaders coming in, including Bob, and saw no signs of Ironman Danish which was strange.  I clearly had a very bewildered look on my face as every racer that went by or handed off the baton came over to me and relayed a tale of what had happened to Ironman Danish.  These are some of the things I heard:

“Hey Duffy–he got a flat”

“Hey D, he broke his chain”

“I think Mike crashed after he got a flat, I saw him on the side of the trail”

“I think that Danish’s deraileur fell off”

“Duffy–he got a flat after his chain broke”

and

“I dont know what happened to him, but I saw him running next to his bike at mile 5 or so–he was passing people though!”

Here is a vid of the race with evidence of Ironman Danish on the side of the road (for the second time) trying to repair his machine:

Oh boy, this was like a bad game of telephone.  The only one person I could take one thing from was Bob who was on Ironman Danish’s wheel when his chain snapped–the first time.     And, Bob, knowing our plan of two laps for the ol’ Ironman, said “I think you should probably be ready to head out for lap two, he broke it at mile 2 (of 9.6).”  Dang it!!

So, since I was already suited up, I mentally prepared myself to work a miracle comeback since I sat and sat and waited and waited and no signs of him anywhere.  In fact, the top solo riders, lead by Tinker Juarez, were now coming in for lap two of the race!  Crap!!  We were a lap down….this was going to suck.  And then, Ironman Danish came running in–no chain, no rear derailuer, and pretty tired from running 6 unplanned miles (at least he is training for an Ironman I suppose).

Ironman Danish giving me a push on my lap 1

I headed out like a bat outta hell–running from ghosts–and threw down a pretty solid lap time.  In fact, I dont think that Ironman Danish expected me in so soon.  Luckily, we had all the parts required to fix the multiple mechanicals on his bike so he could take the torch and continue on with our race.  I had already passed multiple teams and we went from last to 8th team after my lap.  Sweet! Maybe we could even claw back to the podium??….

Trying to catch some extra oxygen and maybe some flies….

And then it started to rain, and not a little rain, a major soaking torrents of rain.  This actually turned out to favor us a bit.  I didn’t loose as much time on the wet laps and, well, Ironman Danish didn’t loose anything in time.  We were gaining and were now in 4th!

Did I mention it rained?

Unfortunately, 4th is where we would stay.  If I had my thinking cap on instead of my helmet, I would have told Ironman Danish to double up and take my lap (which turned out to be the last lap for the Team) in an effort to make the cut off to get another lap.  But, as luck had it, I left my thinking cap at home and we ended 4th and one lap down on the podium!  We definitely fought hard and had a ton of fun doing it.  Riding in the mud is always a good time cause it makes you feel like a kid (except when you realize that there isn’t a mom or dad to wash your bike for you or deal with your muddy laundry).  We will definitely look to redeem ourselves soon!

QOM Points: Part 4- THE Leadville Trail 100 MTB

We arrived in Leadville, the highest incorporated city in North America at 10, 200 feet above sea level.  Lets just say that Quinn and Margarita were thinking twice about following me upstairs at the awesome house we rented (the entire trip they surveyed whether or not I would be up there for a long or short trip before committing).  My favorite quote about the “city” of Leadville was when the mayor spoke at the pre-race meeting and said: “Welcome to Leadville, where you are two miles closer to Heaven.”

Welcome, flatlanders, to Leadville-where even talking is hard….

I found the house on my favorite go-to travel-with-the-pups website, vrbo.com, and, man, was it AMAZING!  It could not have been better, the woman we rented from could not have been nicer or cooler, and location, location, location!!  This house was practically ON the start line (and, right down the road from the National Mining Hall of Fame!!!!!!).

Woo hoo! Nice little Sunday planned–Mining Hall of Fame, if there’s time

We knew this would come in handy race morning, especially when noting that each morning the temps hovered around a balmy 36 degrees, the less the time to get to the start line the better!

It was definitely easy to spot….assuming you are not color blind

Not a bad view from the living room!

And, the house an AMAZING fenced in yard for Q and M! Q definitely liked it!

We settled into our house which we were sharing with friends from Miami also racing the event: Fast Freddy, LG (another teammate of mine), and her friend who was also from FL.  Ironman Danish and I knew it was important to stick to our ride plan and not get derailed by other training options.

The HUGE bump in the middle is Columbine…the first climb is St. Keeevins, the second Powerline….

Our first pre-ride of the course was set to be the Columbine Mine Climb.  I was tasked with riding this beast “easy.”  We drove to the parking lot just before the Twin Lakes aid station (at the base of Columbine) and began our trek.  There were several Florida-esque power climbs before you hit the valley that leads you the the mountain and all of it was on jeep road–rugged jeep road.  I also knew I did not want to ride for more than 1.5 hours, which would most likely for me mean that I would not see the top of Columbine on my pre-ride.  Ironman Danish did though and here is a sweet vid he took while up there (it looks a lot busier up here on race day):

While this climb is difficult, it was easier than anything we rode in Breckenridge that was for certain.  The only major issue (which is pretty major) is the lack of oxygen at the top, but, again, it was the same amount of oxygen we didn’t have when we were up on Wheeler Pass….Could it be that we actually were well oiled for this race?

Smiling at the top of Wheeler Pass–so, Columbine should bring some smiles?

The next pre-ride took place the day before the race (we always rest two days prior to any race).  St. Kevins (pronounced Keeeeeevins) where we would ride and integrate a few intervals to make sure we were warmed up for the big day.  I was a little worried, Fast Freddy said it was WAYY harder than Columbine.  So, in my head, I had began to picture St. Kevins looking like “Little French.”  We drove the three miles from our house to the base of St. Keeeeevins, parked, and set out to see what this beast was made of….or what I was made of, since it might be pretty tough.  While difficult due to the lack of oxygen, I was able to ride steady up this mountain at a reasonably easy pace (which was my goal for that day of training other than the intervals) and, in fact, turned to Ironman Danish when we were 3/4 the way up and stated “it must get harder.”  Turns out, it doesn’t and, in fact, I decided if St. Kevins and Little French got in a fight, it wouldn’t even be fair–Little French would crush St. Kevins.  You could give St. Kevins a spear even.

The start line being set up in downtown…

I was ready to do my thing at the LT100, nothing could make me feel unprepared for this race–not even the all night torrential rain the night before the race (yeah, that happened).  I had done a ton of research trying to figure what to expect for a finish time, and learned that almost everyone who also did ORAMM had finished the LT100 in their ORAMM time plus 3 hours–ok, so 11:03…then, I did some more research, consulting my favorite Joe Friel, to learn that I should expect to perform at 20% less capacity at altitude–ok so lets figure 9 mph avg speed if you take my usual race pace minus 20%–11:14.  So, my goal was 11:14 for a finish time.  I knew that this wouldn’t be easy, but it was going to be possible as long as I kept the push on the pedals– he is a video of Me, keeping the push on the pedals.

As you can see from the video, I finished!  Not only did I finish, but I crossed the line at 11:13 race clock time, and on my chip time 11:11!!! (yeah, the gun went off and there were sooo many people and we were in the back due to it being out first year it took us 2 full minutes to get to the start line timing matt!  Yikes!)

Approaching the finish!

A post race fist pump for Ironman Danish

While finishing was pretty awesome there were a lot of fun parts during this exceptionally long day of riding my bike….

1.  Power Line Descent.  This thing is Fun, FUn, FUN!!!!!  I had a BLAST bombing down this descent.

Woo hoo!!!

2.  Columbine Mine Climb.  While it is a grueling climb and being a flatlander I am not good at going up, the best part was seeing the WHOLE race developing in front of you while you are slowly climbing up the mtn.  I saw Ironman Danish bombing down the hill, all the top pros, Fatty, the runner, Fast Freddy, and caught up to teammate LG.  How cool!!  A chance to check in with EVERYONE.

Riders going up, leaders coming down….

3.  St. Kevins descent on the way home.  You are soooo close and you know it–so, again, bomb that thing!!

4.  Being done.  Yeah, the finish was pretty awesome.  I also got to meet celebrity The Fat Cyclist aka “Fatty” who WON the single speed division!  Now that is just asking for punishment….

Fatty!! Not the best picture quality, but you get the idea!

So, mission accomplished!  11:11 official time for DD!  103.3 miles most of which is above 10, 200ft.  Not bad for a flatlander.  Ironman Danish (aka freak o’ nature) finished in 7:58, Fast Freddy in 9:30, and LG in 11:37!!  Great day for all of us flatlanders!!

Celebs!!

Flatlanders (minus IM Danish) posing with our finishers sweatshirts and buckles!

Done and done.

Ironman Danish’s HUGE buckle is on the left….my more wearable version on the right…