Tuesday, July 31, 2007

3 Scrapes to the Ground, Baaaahhhh

I did my first official ultra the other day, the Wasatch Speedgoat 50k in Snowbird. This wasn't your typical ultra as it was designed by the Speedgoats, two guys that include Karl Meltzer, the best trail runner in the world. Karl hates running on flat ground. For him, the more rugged the better. The course would end up outdoing their initial estimate of 20,000' of elevation change for 50k.

This was all fine with me. I dislike flat running as well. In fact, I almost never run on flat ground anymore. If I can't get to a trail I don't run, and most of the trails I choose are really more hiking than running anyway. So while I kinda knew this course would suit me, I had no idea if racing such a thing would.

Turned out to be a blast. With 100 degree temps at home, the altitude was just where you wanted to be this day. The air was cool and the wildflowers were going off. And, as it turns out, ultra-running is a lot like what I do when I roam around in the mountains anyway.

The race began with a massive climb to the top of Snowbird. This gave us plenty of time to sort things out and even though I had no clue as to what I was getting into, after about 15 minutes I was in the group I'd be with most of the day. I learned that everyone has strengths and weaknesses in these things. Some can fly on the downhills while others prefer the uphills. I didn't find out about flats because we never had a step of such terrain (the Snowbird tunnel being the closest thing to level).

My forte was anything technical, so I put in an attack going over the top of Baldy to catch a large group before we decended the "ropes" section. I knew this would not provide a challenge and didn't want to end up waiting for people. I ended up meeting another climber in this section, Joy, as she passed me with a cool bold move as I was tactfully waiting for someone I'd caught at a roped section. We ended up with a pretty good gap during this and spent a fair bit of the race together, mainly talking about climbing and her upcoming trip to be old backyard, the Sierras.

The main difference between what I normally do in the mountains was not stopping. Normally I move fast but stop to eat. This, I think, caused some problems with my nutrition and on the last big climb I started to lose it. I couldn't tell if it was lack of water, salt, too much gel or too little calories but something had me on the verge of puking. Greg, A guy I'd spent much of the first part of the race with, caught and quickly dropped me here. He was training for the Wasatch 100 and, I could tell, was going to need to sort this problem out to complete that sucker. While I was a bit worked there was no doubt about finishing. I was moving fine, just not as fast as I would have liked. I'm thinking this is just part of this whole ultra experience.

The final downhill was a steep fast pounding down a loose dirt road. Here I found a place where more rugged shoes would be better than what I was wearing. I generally don't like stiff trail runners but, on a course like this one, they would be an advantage. Guess this is why Meltzer is always pimpin' his Montrail Vitesses.

I was catching someone on the early technical section but as soon as we hit the steep road he reversed this and pulled away. Not wanting to risk getting injured (my so-far successful training goal for the year) unless getting passed was on the line I slowed down. This didn't last too long as near the end I saw Sarah, who'd been with Greg and I for the first third of the race, bearing down on me racing with another guy. I knew Sarah was a fast downhill runner because Greg had been passed and beaten by her at the end of their last race. This caused me to pick it up to hold them off. Thankfully there wasn't a lot more course left.

At the finish I was offered a beer and Ultragen. I accepted both. Of course, beer first. Maybe this was a sport I could embrace. I had no idea how long we'd been out there. It could have been 5 hours, it could have been 10. I was surprised at hearing 6:25. It seemed pretty fast until we heard the course was short. The winning time, 5:40, also didn't seem impossible to me at all as I was tentative during a lot of places I could have gone faster. All in all, I felt okay and wasn't injured, so it was a success.

While the course was short, it also had even more elevation change than anticipated, nearly 12,000' in each direction. This profile would make it the toughest organized 100 in the world. Though I'm not too sure I'd want to do nearly four laps on this course, the proposition of such a challenge is intriguing.

Here is one competitor's race data along with the course profile.

While waiting for Sandee, who'd come up from sea level to experience eight hours of hypoxia (the course averaged over 10,000'), I hung out with the ultra crowd who, not surprisingly, reminded me a lot of the birthday challenge crowd. It was a nice afternoon with good people, drinking beer and laughing at the absurdity of what we were doing.

In the end, Sandee and I both picked up some schwag (thanks, Nathan) and I won an award, one of the coolest trophies I've ever recieved. We all got "chicked" by Petra McDowell, which isn't odd for ultra running. And since Karl said he had expected her to win, I'll assume she's as good at this stuff as she looks--which is fast. I was a little beat up (Sandee ran the next day--sheesh) but will probably do some more of these things, or at least this one each year.

Special thanks to the Speedgoats, Scott and Karl, for putting on an outstanding event. Being new to this I asked runners along the course what their favorites races were. "This one's pretty damned good," was a common reply.

Three scrapes, guys. Baaaaahhhhh.

Speedgoat Web Site

Monday, July 30, 2007

Le Grand Boucle of Dope

I've had a few adventures lately, which I'll get to later this week, but first y thoughts on this year's Tour. Another Grand Boucle has come to an end and, unfortunately, the doping news far exceeded the racing news. Pity because it was a damned exciting race. I've been a fan of the Tour all of my life. This year they're telling us 'we've turned a corner' when it comes to doping issues. I hope so, but can't help but be skeptical.

It does actually seem to be trendy amongst the younger racers to be anti-dope. This must be a positive sign and is a far cry from when "Mr. Clean" Bessons was regularly chided by the peloton. But when you hear reports such as this one (Kloden Considers Retirement) it's hard to be positive.

I love cycling and hope it can clean itself up. We recreational cyclists have a battle to just keep our bikes on the road. A scandalous professional scene isn't going to help our cause. But scandals make media and, I'm sure, people will keep trying to uncover them. Sometimes they can actually make a difference. Bravo to the David Walsh's and Betsy Andreau's hope dare--and risk--to take on the big guys. Check out Betsy's candid radio interview on Competitor. This women has some huevos.

Below is a list of the Grand Tour winners over the last decade or so and their status as to being involved in drug scandals. Many of them have minor busts, some received two-year suspensions, and some have had their careers basically ruined, like Ramundo Rumsas, who didn't make the list because he only doped his way to the podium.

Grand Tour Winners


Riis - doper

Ullrich - doper

Pantani - doper

Lance - clean?

Landis - doper

Rasmussen (would have been) - doper

Contador - (currently invovled in scandal but luckily protected under Texas law)


Vino - doper

Heras - doper

Ullrich - doper

Mancebo - did he win? anyway, he came close and is a doper

Menchov - doper

Aitor - doper

Sevilla - may not have won but almost did and got busted. doper.

Casero - doper

Zulle - doper

Olano- doper

Rominger - doper

Jalabert - doper

Delgado - doper

Hamilton, Perez - both would have beens that got busted during the same race for the same offense.


Di Luca (still under investigation but cleared on first offense)

Basso: doper

Simoni: doper

Salvodelli: hmmm, he must have a bust somewhere. anyway, his totally erratic performances certainly must mean dope and, for sure, he ate some of Simoni's grandma's cookies. i hear they were quite tasty. in fact, rumor has it that Grandma Simoni, Rumsas' wife, and Haven Hamilton are opening a restaurant at the Olympic Village which will, no doubt, become quite popular.

Garzelli - doper

Pantani - doper

Frigo - doper

Cunego - clean, but he at least got epstein-barr so he doped to get it or, perhaps, passively doped to get it which might actually make him a non-doper which would be rad because most of the white jersey winners from the tour, like him, have gone down too. So perhaps he didn't dope but he was, like, 21, won in a fluke, and hasn't been able to find the same form since, which sounds like text book passive doping effects on a highly talented youngster. if he ever finds his form again we'll probably find out.

Tonkov - doper

Rominger - doper

Gotti - doper

Berzin - doper

But, hey, as bad as all this sounds it's still a beautiful sport. Here's a fantastic montage of the 2006 Tour.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bottled Water Sucks!

Finally this topic is getting some play. This was a headline topic today. I'm proud to announce that my town is one of two--so far--that are trying to ban this junk.

Bottled Water From The Tap

I wrote an article on this a couple of years back. At the time I got a lot of shocked responses, including one from Pepsi saying that I "didn't know what I was talking about". I got another from someone saying "I trust companies like Coke and Pepsi with my health..." Say what? This is probably why our obesity rates continue skyrocket.

I love the part where they say they don't make much money on bottled water. Um, right. Run some tap water through a reverse osmosis filter and sell it for 3 bucks a gallon. Are you kidding?

Here are some more stats and my original article:

What's In Your Water?

Coffee, Exercise, May Help Fight Skin Cancer

"I'm stayin'. I'm finishing my coffee.




Walter Sobchek

From the wires. I will probably wait for some more research before I stop slathering on the sunscreen but I will continue to have my coffee and, ya know, exercise.

Exercise, Coffee May Help Fight Off Skin Cancer

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Interactive Obesity Map Since 1985

Even with all of the info and available help we now have this trend continues to rise at an alarming rate. Scary stuff.


Doping and Le Tour - David Walsh Interview

Not surprisingly, I've been bombarded with email the last few days about the Tour. It's been so crazy that I haven't even known what to say about it. With Vino's bust, the only rider that I've heard of who has worked with Dr. Ferrari and hasn't been busted is Lance. The Rasmussen case is also interesting. The story of the smuggeled drugs was in From Lance to Landis but no one was named. Furthermore, the original of "men in black" (riders who train in un-marked clothing to avoid detection) was Armstrong. If you watched The Lance Chronicles, he never trained in his Postal/Disco kit. Always in plain black. This, apparently, was one of the things both Vino and Rasmussen did that put them on WADA's radar. Hmmm.

Well, I think things in cycling will begin to improve. WADA seems to have gotten serious. And with a sponsor throwing their own rider off of the team while wearing the yellow jersey it confirms the end is no longer justifying the means in cycling. Bravo. With more and more young riders strongly anti-dope, the situation should begin to steamroll. Let's hope so.

Anyway, here a LONG interview with David Walsh, conducted by two guys famous in the multi-sport world, Paul Huddle and Bob Babbit. It's very interesting--dare I say required listening if you are a fan of the sport.

Walsh Interview

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scary Study

At least I shouldn't be out of work anytime soon...

Study: 75% of U.S. overweight by 2015 if current trends continue

An analysis of 20 studies indicates 75% of U.S. adults will be overweight and 41% obese by 2015, if people keep gaining weight at the current rate. Results showed each age group is getting heavier, and researchers fear obesity could eventually become the leading preventable cause of death in the country. Reuters (7/18)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

And Then There Were Nine

The Tour couldn't be different than during the Armstrong era. With no real favorites riders are all looking at each other and no one team dares to try and take control of the race. The cynical might even say that, sans dope, no one is sure what they're individually capable of either. And cynical or not, you can't argue the fact the race is a lot slower than it's been in years. And the riders are the same, so what could the difference be? Anyway, the result is some interesting racing, for sure.

Today we leave the Alps and the race is whittled down to 9 true contenders, minus a few of those from the preview. Most missed will be Vino, whose injuries form a crash have been too much to overcome. With Denis Menchov also losing the pace today, both Astana and Rabobank now have clear leaders to work for.

Here's a quick rundown on those left in the GC fight.

Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank - With nearly 3 minutes in the bank he's going to need more time with 100K of time trialing to come. Last year, he lost 14 minutes during the tt. This year, he came in 166th in the prolog. Luckily, there are some big mountains to come. Overall chance to win: very small.

Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne - The "sprinter who can climb" or "climber who can sprint" is now my favorite to win, since he also now can time trial too. He will need to drop a couple of guys prior to the final time trial because those sprint wins at the summits aren't going to give him enough of a buffer over Kloden or Evans. His team is also very strong and may need to employ a bit of stategy to pull this off.

Iban Mayo, Sunier Duval-Prodir - One of the few climbers every to drop Armstrong in the mountains, his form has been erratic his entire career. He's riding very well but isn't a good enough time trialist to win the whole thing.

Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto - Riding very strong he's now a major favorite. Almost a cinche for the podium, at least.

Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Disco - Contador is a "future star" whose time may be arriving a bit early. If he has a good TT on Sat, Levi may have to work for him. But Leipheimer has been timing his form to come good in the Pyrenees and he hasn't lost enough to be counted out. It's all oh-so interesting for Discovery. Bruyeneel is a great tactician, making the Disco boys a major player once again.

Christophe Moreau, Ag2r - At 36 winning the Tour doesn't really seem possible. His form is very good and it would be nice to see this classy rider get on the podium. Unfortunately, his time trialing ability has been sacrificed a bit to improve in the mountains and he hasn't been gaining the time he needs. His chance for the podium looks pretty slim, but my fingers are crossed for him.

Calos Sastre, CSC - CSC is a formidable team and won't go down withouth a fight but Sastre has showed nothing yet to indicate he can do anything but follow the best riders. Maybe he's waiting for the Pyrenees, which I'm sure is the psyche card CSC is playing, but is it a reality? Not likely.

Andrea Kloden, Astana - Having finished on the podium twice, Kloden is now the major favorite to win providing his injury isn't too bad, which it doesn't appear it is. He lost a bit of time to wait for Vino the other day and it could cost him. But when on form he's the best time trialist of the contenders. It figures that the others will need to drop him in the mountains; something they haven't been able to do yet.

Starting Saturday, it should all get very interesting.

For coverage, if you don't have Versus they have dropped their live feed, so check with:


for the lastest possibilities.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Legs Are Killing Me

I haven't posted a training report in a while but I have been training. Lately, my life's been nothing but training and work. But after a month of weddings, birthday party(challenges), and my parent's 50th anniversay surprise party, I'm happy to take a break from any social activities.

With a couple of upcoming events I've been doing a bit of trail running and riding my hippie bike a lot. It's been 100+ most day down in the valley so as soon as it's too hot to work, I've been heading up the canyons to train. In the last 5 days, I've put in about 20 hours on the trails, mainly above Park City but also one "run" at Snowbird to recon the Speedgoat 50k, which is going to be one of the hardest races of its length in the country (nearly 11,000' of gain over 50k). Here's a view from one of the summits looking down at part of the trail.

The above pic is me on the top of Baldy. Supposedly, the race has a technical section here but my recon revealed nothing but about five minutes of class 2. This is not going to be the advantage I'd hoped for. Anyway, I'm not really an ultrarunner, so I'm not racing this race, exactly. I'd really need about an hour of class 5 in order to offset the disadvantage I'll have against these guys. So I'll probably spend plenty of time kickin' it at the espresso bar in the Snowbird tunnel.

Yesterday I did another 4 hours above Park City on my training/fun (heavy) bike. My legs are cooked. Time for some recovery.

Gratuitous moose shot. I wonder when one of these guys is going to chase me. I keep finding myself a few feet away.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lance to Landis: Le Tour or Le Suck?

One of our local races made up yellow shirts with "Le Suck" on them. I can see why. With in the insane doping problems surrounding the sport it's hard not to be cynical. The only Grand Tour champion in the last decade who hasn't been busted, Lance, may have been the most guilty one of all. At least that's the opinion in the racing world. And the publication of From Lance to Landis does nothing but add fuel to the fire. This work may not hold up in court but you can't read it with an open mind and not know it's true--at least to a degree. It would be impossible to make up. Not only that, it makes perfect sense if you know anything about doping and sports performance. And, well, when you race your bike and hang out in that world you meet people who've worked/ridden with people.... The big thing I learned from this book was that all teams don't necessarily dope. All have turned a blind eye to it but some programs are leaders and others followers. Postal, um, sheesh. You've got to read it if you enjoy the subject. So, anyway, bike racing has a big black eye at the moment.

But I love bike racing. I love the Tour. C'mon, doping has existed in sports--all of them--as long as there has been performance-enhancing drugs available. Armstrong may have doped to the gills but he still worked harder than everyone else. Dope didn't win him the Tour. Hard work did. Because, ya know, Ullrich and Basso were on the sauce too. If they want to rid the sport of drugs, they need to rid the sport of doctors, which may mean ridding it of money. But that still won't do it. People were regularly doing drugs during my high shcool days! College? Of course. Everyone joked about it. Anyway, cycling has done a lot more to combat this issue than any other sport. And it deserves some credit. I think it's getting better. Dope or no dope, you've still got to train like a maniac and race your bike.

Last year I blogged in depth about the race. This year I won't have the time. But for those who would like to learn more about bike racing, you can read through them starting here:


The race began in England to "the largest crowds I've ever seen" according to most everyone. Today they're in Belgium, it's raining, and the crowds are still huge. Long live cycling!

It's an open race and should be great. You can check it out live on the net on Versus streaming video which, thankfully, is only Paul and Phil and no Al Trautwig.

Versus network

Cyclingfans always keeps you up to date on the latest media options:


Sunday, July 08, 2007

New Diet Drug

I hope I don't get stuck sitting next to one of these "5 to 6 million" people.

Boxes of Alli, the first FDA-sanctioned diet drug to be sold without a prescription, are selling in huge numbers, despite the fact that the pill comes with the potential for extremely unpleasant and embarrassing side effects.

The manufacturer has predicted that 5 million to 6 million Americans a year will buy the drug.

The GlaxoSmithKline drug, which was introduced to the market several years ago in a prescription-only form called Xenical, blocks the absorption of about 25 percent of consumed fat. That would eliminate about 225 calories from a 3,000 calorie per day diet.

However, the drug can also result in loose stools and gas with an oily discharge. The drug's official website states that, "It's probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work," if you take the drug.

Los Angeles Times June 15, 2007