Saturday, August 31, 2013

Biting It

Saturday, August 31.  Morning training ride.  Martigny climb to Col des Planches.  Steep ramps.  A manly climb.  In the background, Rider Sharkbite gassing it.  Oblivious to anything behind him.
In the foreground, some Bradley guy.  Out of the saddle, working hard to reel in the 'Bite.

Ranch Respect!

By the way, when he passed me, I had no idea what hit me. He smoked me.  Said "Good morning" as he passed.  I had no idea there was anyone coming, no idea who it was, and was stunned in incomprehension for 3 solid seconds that some guy had come by me that quick in a section that steep.  "Nice speed" I forced out of my lungs, at the wheel pulling away in front of me.

I am pretty good up a climb.  But that man is truly faaaaaast.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The wanna be pro.......

At the end of July RiderZinni joined a fantastic ProAM event in the Alps called "The Trois Etapes".. The "wannabe pro" is getting a bit of publicity these days check it out here...

The good thing is that RiderZinni did it for Charity and managed to raise more than GBP 10,000 for EMPower UK. The fundraising site is here in case you want to chip in more money :-) If you want more fun you can watch this video as well ... Vive le Ranch, which got me into cycling few years ago... So this post is a little "thank you" to all the lunatics in the Ranch..

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rocky Mountain High

Lizard Head Pass
 As July passes, fine weather prevails, sunny days smile, and summer challenges abound.  This is prime cycling season.  On June 9-15, 2013, Riderturbo and Ridermama made their second annual pilgrimage back to their native State of Colorado with family in tow for Ride the Rockies.  This 500+ mile tour with over 2000 riders every year traverses the finest alpine road cycling routes through the Colorado Rocky Mountains over seven days riding.

Home state to Rider Turbo, Mama and Lone Wolf, whose youthful roots lay in Boulder, Snowmass and Aspen, respectively, the tour is not only beautiful and challenging, but also nostalgic in that it provides the snow-capped mountains, evergreen trees and high-altitude landscape that we grew up with in this part of the world.

The tour itself consisted of 7 consecutive stages, each day averaging 73 miles over several 9000-10,000ft mountain passes including Lizard Head, Wolf Creek, Hesperus Hill and Poncha Pass.  Because of unexpected wilderness fires closing the route in the Royal Gorge area, the 6th stage was redirected from Salida to Canon City over 9000+ ft  Hardscrabble Pass with and additional 33 miles added in distance.  This brought the total route to 545 miles with four consecutive 84+ mile days averaging 78 miles per day with 22,000+ vertical feet of total climbing, all comprising the longest Ride the Rockies route ever recorded in the event's 28 year history.

Flying the Ranch Aircraft into beautiful Telluride on the first day, Turbo and Mama met up with the grandparents who shuttled the 5 year old RiderZoe and 2 year old RiderSasha during the first three days from start to finish line.

Turbo and Mama pulled out the old pair of durable aluminum Cervelo Soloists from grandpa's garage in Colorado -- a la Eazy-E -- not the lightest steeds in the peloton, but dutifully equipped with triple cranks and wide-ratio cassettes equally suited to big pass climbs, fast descents, and pace line flats over this state-side version of the layman's "Grand Tour."
Wolf Creek Pass

The daily schedule felt like a professional team: up at 6am to suit-up, grease-up, pack-up, prepare equipment and mix nutrition, followed by 7am family breakfast , 8am ride start, and the finish time between 12-2pm.  After this, an ice smoothie recovery shake, professional leg massage, fun visit, playful swim and tasty dinner with the kids and grandparents before retiring for bed about 8pm only to do it all over again the next day, seven times in a row. That's what Ranchers call a vacation.
2013 Route Summary:
June 8 — Telluride – Registration
June 9 — Telluride to Cortez | 75 miles | Lizard Head Pass – 10,222 ft.
June 10 — Cortez to Durango | 64 miles
June 11 — Durango to Pagosa Springs | 86 miles
June 12 — Pagosa Springs to Alamosa | 91 miles | Wolf Creek Pass – 10,850 ft.
June 13 — Alamosa to Salida | 84 miles | Poncha Pass – 9,019 ft.
June 14 — Salida to Cañon City | 67 miles | Royal Gorge Bridge Park rerouted over Hardscrabble Pass -- 9,085 ft total 93.5 miles
June 15 — Cañon City to Colorado Springs | 46 miles 
One notable activity for the kids were nightly hotel hallway wind sprints that kept fellow hotel guests and bystanders wondering who those rowdy "Ranch" kids were.

Beyond that, grandparents shuttled the kids by car each day and entertained them with mountain hikes, nature walks, gondola rides, visits to the fish hatchery, local parks, horseback rides and dining establishments en route to the next stop, typically about 1-2 hours each day in the car.
Hardscrabble Pass  ---  matching S.U.R.M Jerseys harkening days of the 230km Schwarzwald Ultraradmaraton, in Alpirsbach Germany 2005...the hardest ride we've ever done
Another vital component to mention was the nutrition strategy -- the newly discovered key to success in ultra-distance and multi-day events as deployed, tested and vetted by Turbo and Mama. Here, the Team adopted the vaunted and frequently misunderstood "all liquid" nutrition protocol  following guidelines spelled out in the Hammer Fueling Handbook.   The protocol is based on three pillars: hydration, calories and electrolytes.  At odds with the majority of riders, Turbo and Mama fueled according to formula using precise amounts of water, "liquid food" and electrolyte supplments. First a normal breakfast of waffles/oatmeal, eggs, fruit and coffee was enjoyed each day with a 30-45min time lapse prior to ride start.  For hydration, the first hour of riding was accompanied by only one bottle of pure water 500-750ml each, allowing time for breakfast to digest.  Subsequent to the first hour of riding, for the second hour and each hour following, one bottle of water was consumed per rider per hour.  On the second and each subsequent hour of the ride, Turbo and Mama also each consumed 1/3 of a calibrated three-hour feed bottle of Hammer Perpetuem providing Mama with 200 calories per hour and Turbo 225 calories per hour long-chained complex carbohydrate with a carb-to-protein ratio of 7.5:1.  Three-hour feed bottles were remixed after the 4th hour of the ride using Perpetuem carried in the Ziplock bag of Turbo's riding Jersey.  For electrolytes, the pair consumed one Hammer Endurolyte capsule per hour proportional to water intake for Turbo and one per 1.5 hours for Mama to preclude hyponatremia and the dreaded "long ride" cramping and muscle lock-up.  At the end of each day, a crushed ice fruit protein smoothie for body core temperature cooling and glycogen recovery was consumed within 10 minutes of the finish line followed by a vigorous professional leg massage to flush lactic acid buildup. The strategy worked flawlessly producing abundant energy, zero bonking, zero cramping, zero bloating, zero G.I. distress, near-perfect recovery, amazing energy reserves and tremendous stamina each day of the ride.  After accumulating a 1500-2000 calorie deficit each day on the ride, the team indulged in a massive 1000-2000 calorie dinner each night, giving an adequate 10-12 hours to refuel overnight, clear digestion and following a 4 to 5 am water-chug each night, void all excess waste and weight on the toilet early morning prior to riding the next day.  It took us ten years to figure it out, but if you put the right amount and right mix of fuel into the furnace, it burns clean and pure on these long rides.  

Until next year, when we hope to do it again with more Ranchers who join!  

Finish Line -- 545 miles in the history books. Go Ranch! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Vent Violent.....

Warning Signs on the Motorway 

What a day. When we were about to land in Marseilles on Friday I realized that the weekend was going to be windy. The aircraft was all over the shop while we were approaching the airport. We drove to "Baumes de Venise" (the starting point) and the wind got worse. The race is only tomorrow, I'm sure the wind will come down; that's what we thought.

Saturday morning Rider NoShow, Rider CahLi and Rider Zinni rode to the start point (5km from the hotel) and we had the wind in our favour, so it was great.

Before the start the organiser said in French and English: "Be careful on the last three km of the climb as it's a bit windy", carefully forgetting to define the speed of the wind and few more details.

We start the race, good pace, wind all over the directions, so the first 20km are fine. Wind high (30/50km/h) but manageable. I hear few times the same thing like: Putain, le vent est terrible; but we keep going.

We arrived in Malaucene, one of the three approach to Ventoux.  
The Climb 
This is where the 21km climb starts.  The wind picks up again, but there are trees protecting you. So I keep thinking, this is ok, the climb is fine, manageable a bit windy but ok. We ride, we climb and slowly reach 10km sign to the summit. The gradients start getting higher, but it' ok. We can do this! I think... 
Then we get to minus 7km to the summit. I am getting colder and I start thinking: "I should have had used my leg warmers and my proper gloves, never mind", and I keep climbing. I see riders riding back on the other side of the road and I think, what a loser, why are you giving up? CahLi says the same. 
I get to minus 5 km to the summit, I can feel that I am getting slower, and I am running out of water. My legs are heavy... The feed station is only 1km to go. I can see CahLi and No Show in front of me. I reached the feed station and I am feeling cold. CahLi shouts:  "get some water and let's go as it's getting colder here". I fill up the bidon and I quickly start pedaling. 
We are at minus 2km from the summit now. It's very cold, my fingers are frozen and we still need to climb another 250 meters to reach the summit. We keep pedaling. Suddenly you cannot see anything anymore.  We are pedaling in the sky, among clouds, the wind pick us again, there are no trees to protect you, you are in the open space. 
This is where the odyssey starts. I can see an hairpin in front of us that turns left (we later realized that was the last hairpin to the summit), I can see my Garmin and I realize that I must be close to the top. While checking my Garmin and going thru the hairpin a gust of wind hits me and few other riders. It was insane, I would guess more than 100 km/h. 
My bike shakes, I shake, I can barely hold my handlebar because of my frozen hands. I try to stay on my bike but the wind is too strong. I came off and walked for 20/30 meters, I got on my bike again and start pedaling but I see everyone turning back. "Putain, le col c'est ferme'". I keep going up. Once I get to the top I see No Show who tells me to turn back as it's impossible to go over the col and we will not be allowed to cross the Col. A motorbike is on the floor. It looked like a War Zone! 
We turn back and ride to the Cafe' near the food station or 4km from the summit and we see Zeke.
Zeke looks at me and says, what's wrong with you? You look really bad. Go Inside!!  I am seriously cold and start shivering. I get an  hot chocolate and I can barely hold my cup. I get another hot drink, but again I find very hard to hold the cup. We slowly get warmer and decide to go back to the start line, 35 km away.

It was a great experience, scary at times but we were all glad we climbed the Ventoux. We were annoyed not been able to go over the Col but it was not safe.

A Ranch weekend cannot be complete without a proper dinner. Rider No Show was in charge of this and we had an amazing dinner. We talked crap over dinner, as usual.
That's how the summit looked like at 6 PM in the evening 
Vive le Ranch. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


So Cah Li and NoShow in preparation for their upcoming ride over the Mt Ventoux decided to take a flight to Nice and stay with our old friend Willem Bonestroo the owner of Les Deux Freres in the charming medieval village of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
We began the weekend by CahLi picking up NoShow and Alix from the Nice airport and zooming up to La Turbie for a nice meal coupled with a glass or too many of rosé at Cafe de la Fontaine.

And after a snooze we were up early and having breakfast and made it on the road by 9:30am for our 100k loop into the mountains behind Nice.  The idea was to try out some other Cols we had heard about and hadn't ridden yet so Noshow had planned a 4 cols smorgasborg with the first 60k going up and most of the rest coming down.
So off we went all happy and loaded up with water and energy bars.  Little did we know what we were in for.  The first couple hours was ok - mostly uphill but the pitch wasn't horrible and we were fresh.  Col de At the top of Col de Braus there was a small cafe we stopped at to refresh water bottles and grab an iced tea.  We shared it with these fellas....

Then we continued up into a thinning tree line on D54 a very lightly used old road which brought us eventually back out onto D2566 which we would follow up to the top of Col de Turini and then decend for 30 km toward Sospel.

On the way down we zoomed through one village (Moulinet) with a 12th century chapel (Notre dame de la Menour) just outside of town - quite picturesque with a stunning waterfall across the valley droppping off the top of a cliff into the air...
After this we coast into Sospel only to realize that we have just one more feat to accomplish.  Completely exhausted we have to get back over the col de Castillon before we can decend back into Menton and get something to eat.

And eventually we end up back in town after a 5 hour loop and munched a much needed panini and sparkling water.  The only part left was the final few kilometers climb back up out of Menton and to the hotel but we took it easy with CahLi pulling Noshow all the way back so he didn't fall off his bike from the gravitational pull.  And so, after a nice dip in the Med Sea to pick up Alix who had dozed in the sun for hours only to wake up and realize her sunscreen hadn't been as effective as hoped for, we took a small nap and shared a wonderful meal overlooking the Sea.
Sunday morning - we needed a refresher so after a light breakfast CahLi and Show went out for a 40k loop with the star being the climb to La Turbie from the steep side and then on to the backside of Madone for a u-turn and a race back down the mountain.
A wonderful way to have a morning and back at the hotel by 11am to shower up and head off for a lunch in Menton.  Overall a great weekend of sport, eating and just being with good people. 
When can I do it again.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ITU San Diego 2013 - Return of Mama

ITU World Triathlon San DiegoHighlights from the ITU World Triathlon in San Diego on April 20, 2013.  RiderMama made her debut back into racing 2 years after giving birth to RiderSasha, giving rise to the next generation of Ranch racers.

RiderMama comes back in impressive form to win 11th out of 30 competitors in the women's 40 age group, Sprint Distance involving 750m open water swim, 20km bike non-drafting and 5km run.  RiderTurbo posts 10th out of 36 in the men's age 42, Sprint Distance.

A remarkable and first-time coincidence was the wave start with RiderTurbo beginning exactly 5 minutes behind RiderMama and eventually catching her one mile into run leg.  This enabled the two to cross the finish line together in fine Ranch form on the blue carpet in front of a loud crowd cheering from the grandstands, all announced over the race loudspeaker by Tri-icon Greg Welch and appearing on the MegaTron LCD towering overhead.

The action was followed by a lazy afternoon lunch and drinks under the pool cabana with the kids at the Dana Hotel on Mission Bay, with sushi for dinner and a fun-filled day with the family at Legoland on Sunday.  All and all, a superb weekend opener for the 2013 summer racing season!

And here's a little video of the secretive, nordic-inspired, high-altitude winter training program pursued in the alpine backcountry of the Sierra Nevada that led to the fabulous spring results. Champions are made in the off-season.