Saturday, April 17, 2010

Navy SuperSEAL Triathlon

The U.S. Navy SEALs were established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 as a small, elite maritime military force to conduct Unconventional Warfare.

Much like Ranch Riders, The SEALs carry out clandestine, small-unit, high-impact missions that large forces with high-profile teams cannot.

Striking a balance between burgeoning careers, growing families and focused physical training, Ranch Riders typify the commitment, focus and discipline required to perform around the world in a variety of disciplines transcending borders, languages and landscape.

This past Sunday, Ranch West Coast represented the Ranch in the SuperSeal III triathlon. Oringally conceived 32 years ago to prepare Navy SEALs for the Ironman Hawaii World Championship triathlon under the "SuperFrog" marquis, the Olympic Distance SuperSeal consists of a 1.5km open water swim, 40km bike and 10km run near the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado Island, San Diego, California.

Military presence was evident with Apache helicopter formations flying overhead, Retired Lt (SEAL) Phillip "Moki" Martin providing the ice-dry pre-race briefing, and race participants looking extremely competitive and intimidating.

RiderTurbo lined up against the best in the West and raced full throttle putting in an effort worthy of Ranch respect, finishing 17th out of 78 in men's 35-39 age bracket and 4th out of 22 in men's 39 year old group. Despite aggressive body contact and flooded salt-water goggles at the start, Turbo slicked the swim in 29 minutes, nailed the bike in 1 hour 08 minutes
and pounded out the run in evenly-paced 50 minutes with strong finish for a total time of 2 hours 31 minutes.

RiderMama and RiderZoe provided raucous cheering from the sidelines and Ridermama proclaimed that it was the "fittest and most ripped" group of triathletes she had ever seen at a race.

With Gimondi, Time Megeve, London Marathon, Blenheim and Escape from Alcatraz fast approaching for various team members, things are heating up for a great summer of racing for the Ranch....HOO YAA!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Verbier wknd...

Fellow ranchers...Gimondi and Eazy-e and Riderchiche do not feel quite ready yet...too many Zurich sausages for Eazy-e and no climbing training for Riderchiche brought the pair to the slopes around Verbier for a weekend of soul searching and plain old training.

Riderchiche lands in Zurich airport and secures a very respectable Focus Estate that fits comfortably the two ranchers and the bike. Eazy-e shows up rather late and off they go on the road...

...surprised during the trip learning that Eazy had forgotten the pump (after three reminders, the last one of which after he had left his house) least he provided the pair with everything that his refridgerator had (top-quality cheeses, eggs, hard bread, strawberries, butter, fungus-infested broccoli and other delicacies that would be devoured over the weekend). Arrived in the chalet within 3 hours of departure and off they went to get a plate of pasta before going to bed to rest for the night (clean living = no drinking or partying --more on this later)...

Saturday was nice and sunny, not too cold for this time of the year. The day started with a classic egg and bread breakfast and the ranchers were ready to go (or I should say ready to try and find a pump!). The ride took them down from Verbier, up to Champex Lac, down again and up to La Fouly before heading back to Verbier...after over 3:30 hours the un-trained Ranchers decided to leave the Verbier climb for Sunday and headed back up in the gondola...

Saturday Ride stats:
141 avg heart rate (min 66 - max 179)
ascent 1,785m
2939 calories burned
downhill: chilly
uphill: sweaty

Upon reching the top, smell directed them to the rotisserie where a small-sized roasted chicken was waiting for them. Chicken and pasta for dinner and the tired pair went to bed early to rest the muscles...

Sunday morning showed a slightly more cloudy day but still a very nice day. RiderHowe had mentioned the night before that he was in town and definitely up for a ride. At ca. 10am a coughing voice answers Eazy-e's call and asks for a 60-minute delay (later extended another 15) in start time so he could be ready...the reason: a 4:30 bedtime after a night of Vodka-Red Bull... the three Ranchers were ready to again down the Verbier slope and immediately across to head to Fionnay...the Ranchers found a very nice pace and were cruising graciously up the slopes of a scenic detour up until a roadblock threatened to halt their way. Where many others would simply turn around, ranchers stay strong....bikes on the shoulder to make their way...

...unfortunately the roadblock did become "blocking" and the ranchers had to turn around (but not before trying!)... it wasdown the 4 or so km we had already climbed and up again to Fionnay on the regular tunneled climb that would take us even higher than when we started in Verbier...down again to the base and, after a quick good bye to Howe who chose the gondola, Eazy-e and Chiche took on the 8.5km climb to Verbier holding a not-very-fast-but-steady pace all along to clock a just-under-1-hour split; after 51 minutes or so the ranchers saw a familiar face flying down the hill: yes, Lonewolf said "present" to this Ranch weekend and was heading to do the same ride after skiing with the little ones in the morning (nice life, huh?)...

Sunday ride stats
147 avg heart rate (min 74 - max 177)
ascent 1590m
2762 calories burned
downhill: chilly
uphill: sweaty

...riderHowe was showered and sporting a very "mountain" shirt by the time Eazy-e and Chiche made it back to the flat and they all shared chicken leftovers with some freshly made pasta...later a bit of chilling in the afternoon before heading back to Zurich in the evening...Chiche woke up at 5 to catch the 7am flight back to London and Monday was just another day in the office, or is it?

Alcatraz Swim

A short three months ago, RiderTurbo was one of the lucky few to win a coveted lottery entry place into the 30th Anniversary Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, to be held in San Francisco on May 2nd, 2010. Given historical lore of failed prison breaks from the famed Alcatraz Island and the intimidation factor of the associated swim leg of the triathlon-- billed with freezing cold, shark-infested waters and a strong current -- Turbo along with Ridermama and Riderzoe flew up to San Francisco last weekend for a practice swim crossing with Gary Emich, Alcatraz Swim Master with 684 crossings recorded.

We all have stretch goals, and for the land-loving cyclists of Ranch West Coast, the Alcatraz swim certainly qualifies. The pre-swim briefing had coach Gary giving a primer on the tidal flows in the San Francisco Bay and seabed topography around Alcatraz. The tide in the Bay reverses between “ebb and flood” every six hours and swimming across it is complicated by eddies and “venturi” bottlenecks in certain places around rip-rap and shore edges. Gary also provided guidance on navigational issues. Its hard to know where to “sight” when swimming in open water because eyes are at water level and there are no lane markers or lane lines like in a pool, and particularly so for the Alcatraz Swim. So Gary provided recommendations of landmarks on which to sight off of while swimming. If it is clear visibility, it is pretty simple to sight off the Sutro tower in San Francisco when swimming across from Alcatraz. But if its poor visibility, you must sight off a sequence of landmarks including the Fontana apartments, Four Mason Trees and Piers, Wave Organ, Palace of Fine Arts and red roof of the St Francis Yacht Club, as described in this exciting instructional video.

The challenge is compounded by the fact that when swimming in a southerly direction one is actually moving rapidly in a southwesterly direction due to the current. If you sight incorrectly, the current can sweep you out toward sea via the Golden Gate bridge (see photo) and you could end up, say, a mile west of target exit point. That’s a long way to swim back, particularly if you must fight against the current, which is almost impossible to do when you swim slower than the current is moving! The coach also contracted with a coast-guard approved safety boat to accompany the swim, from which RiderMama and RiderZoe shot photos and video.

All went smoothly and Turbo swam across the Bay in 43 minutes feeling surprisingly strong. After a lovely brunch recuperating with friends in the area, Turbo was glad to have extinguished the psychological demons associated with this infamous swim. All trained and ready to up for Ranch West Coast, the Navy Seal olympic distance triathlon in San Diego and then the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in May!

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