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  1. #1
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    First Race, newbie to racing, need some help

    I'm hoping to enter my first race on July 5, and I've got a couple of months to train for it. I'm kind of hoping to do well right off the bat, since I've still got a decent amount of time to train and I've been riding hard (but without structure) since Jan. 6.

    My main question is about things I should really be sure not to miss for a race day (other than USA cycling license).

    My second question is a bit more specific, that is, training specifically for this race. I've been able to climb out of the saddle while I was still pretty overweight (5'9", 180 I was able to be out of the saddle for several miles up Mt. Lemmon). I'm 159 pounds right now (and pretty decently more powerful), I am aiming for 145 by the race (or if heavier, it's gotta be leg muscle :P). So, I do want to focus on climbing technique, since I think I'll be out of the saddle more when I get down.

    Course specifics: Main problem is it's at altitude. I've hiked up around there before, and I did find it tougher, though I was out of shape then. Nonetheless, climbing near the top of Mt. Lemmon I notice the altitude, which is still a bit lower than Snow Bowl in Flagstaff. Then again, I did start from my apartment the last time I did that, which is 17 miles from the start. And I weighed 10 more pounds than I do now.

    Tires/tubes: I train with thorn resistant tubes (haven't had a flat in the 2k miles I've done this year, and I live in cactus needle littered AZ.) So, going back to regular tubes specifically for racing for obvious reasons, but, I would like some advice on tires/tubes for racing.

    Weight: Obviously my remaining body fat is my biggest concern for weight. Probably going to spend the first couple of weeks doing some ultra long riding (100+ miles). I find that super long rides take off weight and kind of kill my appetite if I go hard at the end Just trying to get my overall body weight down.

    Hoping to have a CAAD10 by the time I do the race (college student, not a whole lot of money floating around). Basically, I need to train in a way that is still conducive to getting a lower body fat percentage without hindering training too much.

    It's my first race, but I do have a rather obsessive mentality around doing as well as possible.

  2. #2
    ABR
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    In my opinion, dramatically changing your body (dropping 14 pounds in two months) isn't going to be conducive to the kind of training you'd realistically need to do to do in order to meet your goal of doing really well in this race, especially since the race will be your first. I mean this to be helpful: I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself in emphasizing one race which is only two months from now.

    Of course do as well as possible, but my honest opinion is that it would be better to take a longer view of things instead of focusing exclusively on this one race. If possible, I'd find something to enter right away--as in next weekend--in order to get that first race out of the way and start the learning process that will enable you to see all the things beside just being lighter that you can work on. I'm only a beginning racer myself, but at this point in the season with the training I'm doing, I think it would be nearly impossible to lose weight without being in a constant state of exhaustion and weakness--and that's no way to win races!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABR View Post
    In my opinion, dramatically changing your body (dropping 14 pounds in two months) isn't going to be conducive to the kind of training you'd realistically need to do to do in order to meet your goal of doing really well in this race, especially since the race will be your first. I mean this to be helpful: I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself in emphasizing one race which is only two months from now.

    Of course do as well as possible, but my honest opinion is that it would be better to take a longer view of things instead of focusing exclusively on this one race. If possible, I'd find something to enter right away--as in next weekend--in order to get that first race out of the way and start the learning process that will enable you to see all the things beside just being lighter that you can work on. I'm only a beginning racer myself, but at this point in the season with the training I'm doing, I think it would be nearly impossible to lose weight without being in a constant state of exhaustion and weakness--and that's no way to win races!
    Lol. Everything I've been doing for the past month says otherwise in terms of building power on the bike and losing body fat. I've lost lots of weight, and my average speeds on courses I've set for myself have improved.

    The pressure I put on myself I want to be there: I enjoy it's presence, it's more of an excitement, really.

    I'll go enter a race later on, there's nothing around here right now that isn't in a location that's blazing hot, given that it's AZ. That's why I'm doing the flagstaff race. Plus, there are other things I'm doing this summer.

  4. #4
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    Those last 10-15lbs will be the most difficult.

    I read some article which discussed climbing in the saddle vs out of the saddle. It went into specifics on BMI. My friend and I have similar heights and are equivalent climbers--but he's a bit lighter--and according to the article he should climb better standing and me sitting. Of course I climb out of the saddle and he stays seated! So I think it boils down to personal preference.


    Do you have access to the courses? If so, incorporate them into your training. My friend and I are both racing a district championship at the end of the month. The course includes a 20mi climb. The strava record is 68 minutes. Yesterday we climbed the mountain in ~80 minutes...twice, as part of a four hour ride. This was a workout, not a race, and we were not killing ourselves on the climb. The physical benefits of this kind of training are obvious. But most people overlook the mental benefits of knowing the course.

    Can you get out to your race courses and train similarly on them?

    And are you doing training blocks? Do you build up for a few weeks and then incorporate an easier rest week?

    If you want a "training camp" weekend you can ride all three courses over a few days. (Hill Climb and TT on one day, RR on the next?)

    Of course you need to rest after a big weekend of crash training. Training Camps and ?Crash? Training | Burnham Coaching



    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alkan View Post
    Lol. Everything I've been doing for the past month says otherwise in terms of building power on the bike and losing body fat. I've lost lots of weight, and my average speeds on courses I've set for myself have improved.

    The pressure I put on myself I want to be there: I enjoy it's presence, it's more of an excitement, really.

    I'll go enter a race later on, there's nothing around here right now that isn't in a location that's blazing hot, given that it's AZ. That's why I'm doing the flagstaff race. Plus, there are other things I'm doing this summer.
    I believe you misunderstood what ABR is talking about in terms of weight loss. In reality (Girl Magazines aside), 14 lbs in two months is serious. That's a touch less than two pounds per week, which is about the limit for safety's sake. Remember that each pound is 3,600 calories, so you're 1,000 cal / day in the red. That's HUGE. When he says that a radical change like that is not conducive to training, he means that you can EITHER go to bed negative 1,000 calories every day for two months OR get a good day of training, recover, and do it again the next day for two months. Trying to do both is a good way to end up injured, burnt-out, or physiologically so far in 'the hole' that it will take months to dig yourself out. There can be a balance between the two, and I suggest you aim for that line.

    That said, what is your current training looking like now? You mention that it is "not structured". Honestly, I think the easiest, brainless thing to do would be go out and ride a lot. Not so much that you hate it and don't want to do it again, but do about as much as you're comfortable with. Leave each ride saying, "Man, I'm glad I did that ride," rather than "Gosh, I wish I didn't have to ride again tomorrow." For me, that number gets bigger and bigger as I get more fit, more used to the bike, and the weather gets nicer. By mid-summer I ride twice as much volume as I do in the winter, simply because I WANT to ride more.

    Back to general answers:
    -Climb in training. If you're writing you own training plan, a good strategy (now that school is over) is one day hard, one day easy, and one to two days off per week. Obviously, if you're riding 7 days a week already, keep doing that, but if you're only riding 2-3 times a week, try to up it a little bit but not insanely.

    -Jump into a couple of races to see what a crit feels like. The answer: fast and hard with ridiculous corners. The first few crits I did, I got humiliated because I was one of the fittest guys in the field (as demonstrated by the TT the day before) and was getting last 1/3 of the field because I was sketched in the corners. Ride in a group if you can.

    -If elevation is going to be an issue, do some hard intervals as close to elevation as you can get. You said you can climb Lemmon - get near the top, do 3x5' hard and see what happens.

    -Tires / Tubes: I don't know the course, but it'll probably be ok to ditch the thorn-resistant for one ride (knock on wood). GP4000s are my go-to tire. I race the crap out of them and they treat me pretty well. They are great in the corners and roll pretty fast too, if the roller data is to be trusted. They can be had for about $90 a pair on eBay or $55 each in shops.

    Good call on the CAAD10. Awesome bike. I borrowed one and wished I didn't have to give it back. Super nice. If money is an issue, CAAD9s can be a bargain, especially second-hand. The only disadvantage is that the frame is a couple hundred grams heavier (that's a third of a bottle of water). The builds can be pretty different (ie, partial 105 with heavy wheels vs full 105 with nice wheels), but that's a whole different issue.

    As local hero said: climbing style is 100% personal. Logic would dictate that climbing while standing is less efficient, because of more stabilizing muscle recruitment (torso, core, arms, back) and a larger aerodynamic cross section (believe it or not, drafting decreases 2nd rider's drag by 10% at 14mph). Either way, Contador climbs out of the saddle and some of the other big riders sit. It is what they are used to - a rider can acclimate to riding out of the saddle or riding in the saddle (I'm an in the saddle guy, as I like to TT).

    So, the long and short of it: ride as much as you can / want to. Lose some weight if you can. Sign up and get out there and race. Keep the rubber side down.

    HAVE FUN.

  6. #6
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    you still have a few months to ride the shootout. see how you do on a hard training ride.
    might want to do the Tuesdays as well.
    Blows your hair back.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by persondude27 View Post
    I believe you misunderstood what ABR is talking about in terms of weight loss. In reality (Girl Magazines aside), 14 lbs in two months is serious. That's a touch less than two pounds per week, which is about the limit for safety's sake. Remember that each pound is 3,600 calories, so you're 1,000 cal / day in the red. That's HUGE. When he says that a radical change like that is not conducive to training, he means that you can EITHER go to bed negative 1,000 calories every day for two months OR get a good day of training, recover, and do it again the next day for two months. Trying to do both is a good way to end up injured, burnt-out, or physiologically so far in 'the hole' that it will take months to dig yourself out. There can be a balance between the two, and I suggest you aim for that line.

    That said, what is your current training looking like now? You mention that it is "not structured". Honestly, I think the easiest, brainless thing to do would be go out and ride a lot. Not so much that you hate it and don't want to do it again, but do about as much as you're comfortable with. Leave each ride saying, "Man, I'm glad I did that ride," rather than "Gosh, I wish I didn't have to ride again tomorrow." For me, that number gets bigger and bigger as I get more fit, more used to the bike, and the weather gets nicer. By mid-summer I ride twice as much volume as I do in the winter, simply because I WANT to ride more.

    Back to general answers:
    -Climb in training. If you're writing you own training plan, a good strategy (now that school is over) is one day hard, one day easy, and one to two days off per week. Obviously, if you're riding 7 days a week already, keep doing that, but if you're only riding 2-3 times a week, try to up it a little bit but not insanely.

    -Jump into a couple of races to see what a crit feels like. The answer: fast and hard with ridiculous corners. The first few crits I did, I got humiliated because I was one of the fittest guys in the field (as demonstrated by the TT the day before) and was getting last 1/3 of the field because I was sketched in the corners. Ride in a group if you can.

    -If elevation is going to be an issue, do some hard intervals as close to elevation as you can get. You said you can climb Lemmon - get near the top, do 3x5' hard and see what happens.

    -Tires / Tubes: I don't know the course, but it'll probably be ok to ditch the thorn-resistant for one ride (knock on wood). GP4000s are my go-to tire. I race the crap out of them and they treat me pretty well. They are great in the corners and roll pretty fast too, if the roller data is to be trusted. They can be had for about $90 a pair on eBay or $55 each in shops.

    Good call on the CAAD10. Awesome bike. I borrowed one and wished I didn't have to give it back. Super nice. If money is an issue, CAAD9s can be a bargain, especially second-hand. The only disadvantage is that the frame is a couple hundred grams heavier (that's a third of a bottle of water). The builds can be pretty different (ie, partial 105 with heavy wheels vs full 105 with nice wheels), but that's a whole different issue.

    As local hero said: climbing style is 100% personal. Logic would dictate that climbing while standing is less efficient, because of more stabilizing muscle recruitment (torso, core, arms, back) and a larger aerodynamic cross section (believe it or not, drafting decreases 2nd rider's drag by 10% at 14mph). Either way, Contador climbs out of the saddle and some of the other big riders sit. It is what they are used to - a rider can acclimate to riding out of the saddle or riding in the saddle (I'm an in the saddle guy, as I like to TT).

    So, the long and short of it: ride as much as you can / want to. Lose some weight if you can. Sign up and get out there and race. Keep the rubber side down.

    HAVE FUN.
    I've gotten more structured about training.

    Day 1: Today was a series of short hill repeats on an 8-9ish percent grade over a half a mile. Did 8 repeats, felt like I should have done more, or should have done a few of them at a bit more effort. I feel it in my legs now, so I guess I did quite alright. I dunno, perhaps I just don't get as immediately exhausted by the same subjective effort anymore.

    Day 2: Tomorrow will be a 100 mile ride (more for the mental aspect and being in the saddle for a long time, and cutting weight.) I'm going to keep it in a pretty easy zone. I'll not be making a habit of these, probably not more than one more, which would be next week. Hmmm. Maybe I'll do something like do 50-60 miles

    Day 3: will be a recovery ride of no more than 20-30 minutes.

    Day 4: 2x20 intervals with some relaxed riding to put on a few more miles.

    Day 5: something easy, but not recovery easy.

    Day 6: Intervals, probably in the same fashion that I'd do them on a flat, just uphill instead.

    Day 7: rest

    That's just week one. The plan will change based on the week and how my body feels, and will likely fall more into a hard-easy-hard-easy cycle. Sadly I'm not near Mt. Lemmon right now. I would just ride that frequently. I do plan on going up to Flagstaff for as long as possible this summer to train at altitude on the same route.

    To lose weight and train properly, my plan is to really just eat in prep for training, train on those fresh calories, then eat something a bit more high protein to recover. It's worked for the past several months. I'll just be upping my intake based on what the day has in store and how much recovery is needed.

    I've actually lost a little over 2 pounds a week on average since January on average. So, I'll be increasing my current caloric intake, with an expectation of losing weight faster due to the dramatic increase of time and effort on the bike(which is exactly how this year went: I only saw the scale drop when I biked during the week). Even if I lose 8-10 pounds, it will be worth it if there's another dramatic increase in power involved.

    I have actually made it a point to take no more than a day off the bike in a week and have been riding probably closer to 5-6 days a week since January. I get fidgety if I don't ride during the day.

    I probably won't be able to afford a new wheelset, but I'd rather start out with full 105 (though I'm gonna still have to throw a 105 compact crank on) and just think about wheels a longer while from now.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alkan View Post
    I'm hoping to enter my first race on July 5, and I've got a couple of months to train for it. I'm kind of hoping to do well right off the bat, since I've still got a decent amount of time to train and I've been riding hard (but without structure) since Jan. 6.

    It's my first race, but I do have a rather obsessive mentality around doing as well as possible.
    You might want to temper these expectations a bit. Usually at any race most of the field is experienced racers in some form even in the higher categories. Thats why they dont call them "beginner's class." Because no one is a beginner.

    Many of these guys will have put a lot of miles in the winter time or have years of miles on their legs. There's nothing legal you can do to catch up fitness wise in a few months.

    And as was stated above trying to lose weight and get powerful at the same time doesnt work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newnan3 View Post
    You might want to temper these expectations a bit. Usually at any race most of the field is experienced racers in some form even in the higher categories. Thats why they dont call them "beginner's class." Because no one is a beginner.

    Many of these guys will have put a lot of miles in the winter time or have years of miles on their legs. There's nothing legal you can do to catch up fitness wise in a few months.

    And as was stated above trying to lose weight and get powerful at the same time doesnt work.
    It's more about seeing what I can do with what I've got time-wise. And I have been riding since winter with a pretty high degree of consistency, not missing more than a day or two out of the week. And, before when I said it wasn't structured, it's actually semi-structured.

    As for placing, it really does just depend on who shows up.

    After this race, I'm going to continue to train and build power, because it's fun. lol.
    Last edited by Alkan; 05-11-2013 at 03:51 PM.

  10. #10
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    So to be clear, you can't enter a race in the meantime because its too hot and you have other things to do. But your upcoming race is so important that you are going to buy a new bike. Oh, and you have time to regularly get out for 100 mile training rides. That makes sense.

    P.S. Remember everyone who told you that really hard training can't be done on a huge calorie deficit? The other group whose excellent advice you ignored? They're right.
    Last edited by HLS2k6; 05-12-2013 at 03:47 AM.

  11. #11
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    Hey Alkan. Maybe you missed the comment about the shootout, but, if I could do one ride to prep for a race, that would be it. I know it's not the A+B=C structure you are searching for, however, IMHO rides like this will teach you so many things you can't get riding solo. The training load you will encounter (you'll be doing intervals) will be higher than what you can do on your own as well. You never know who is going to show up so be respectful and listen up. Maybe you can pick up some good training tips. Everyone likes to help new guys out so you have a good opportunity here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HLS2k6 View Post
    So to be clear, you can't enter a race in the meantime because its too hot and you have other things to do. But your upcoming race is so important that you are going to buy a new bike. Oh, and you have time to regularly get out for 100 mile training rides. That makes sense.

    P.S. Remember everyone who told you that really hard training can't be done on a huge calorie deficit? The other group whose excellent advice you ignored? They're right.
    I didn't ignore it. I simply implied that if I can manage it, I will, and if they are indeed right, then I simply won't and I'll have to eat more. I'm not an anorexic or an idiot: I'm actually quite good at telling when I need to eat and what I need to eat.

    I'm not buying a new bike for this race. I'm buying a new bike because I want to get into racing in general, and I have had that plan for a while now, and right now this one is simply the most appealing.

    What's the worst that could happen? I do lousy? Oh well, I still got to enter a race and spend some time in Flagstaff, and learn a lot about racing.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodys737 View Post
    Hey Alkan. Maybe you missed the comment about the shootout, but, if I could do one ride to prep for a race, that would be it. I know it's not the A+B=C structure you are searching for, however, IMHO rides like this will teach you so many things you can't get riding solo. The training load you will encounter (you'll be doing intervals) will be higher than what you can do on your own as well. You never know who is going to show up so be respectful and listen up. Maybe you can pick up some good training tips. Everyone likes to help new guys out so you have a good opportunity here.
    I might look for some group rides: this thought crossed my mind, especially in the context of getting used to being in a group beyond the morning commute drafting someone (though it's been a while since I've had someone super fast come by).

    I know of some in Tucson, however, I'm not in Tucson at the moment.

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    Where in AZ do you live. I'm in Peoria and ride with a group in Goodyear. They are the WV cylcing group. They take off from LIfetime fitness at 6.30am on Saturdays. You'll be able to test your fitness with them, they go for about 60 miles and they are very hard to keep up with the whole way. Very good training wise though.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike25f View Post
    Where in AZ do you live. I'm in Peoria and ride with a group in Goodyear. They are the WV cylcing group. They take off from LIfetime fitness at 6.30am on Saturdays. You'll be able to test your fitness with them, they go for about 60 miles and they are very hard to keep up with the whole way. Very good training wise though.
    Maybe I'd take you up on that: I'm currently just north of the northern part of Phoenix. I've been curious about how well I'd keep up with some groups of experienced riders.

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    Update to everyone:

    I am going to focus on losing weight more than building power because I'm taking a long term approach to this. I still want to enter the race for the experience of the race, but I want to get my body fat down over this summer so that during the coming semester I can focus on harder efforts and load up on carbs for long training days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alkan View Post
    Maybe I'd take you up on that: I'm currently just north of the northern part of Phoenix. I've been curious about how well I'd keep up with some groups of experienced riders.
    there are several time trials (which most of the omnium is anyway) and a crit or two around phoenix from not till july. that you actually don't ride with anyone really bode well for your july holiday.
    Blows your hair back.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alkan View Post
    Maybe I'd take you up on that: I'm currently just north of the northern part of Phoenix. I've been curious about how well I'd keep up with some groups of experienced riders.
    There are two rides Tuesday night in northern Phoenix:

    The Underground Criterium (UC) is located very near the intersection of 7th Street and Deer Valley Rd. Just to the east of Deer Valley airport. The UC is a .6 mile closed loop on smooth, wide open pavement and lighted when dark. No cars! The "B" group starts at 6:30pm year around focusing on uncategorized and/or new riders and/or those who are getting back into the sport etc...When you get some fitness or want a good test you can join the "A" group which starts after the B group finishes around 7:15pm. The original intent of the UC was to get new people involved in the sport so I think you will find the ride will welcome you or anyone with open arms.

    The Swiss American shop ride rolls at 7pm from the shop which is located at 43rd Ave and Bell. The circuit they ride is a 4 mile loop. Two neutral laps at a very slow warm up pace is followed by 40 minutes or so of race pace.

    Saturday morning there are three rides in northern Phoenix you might be interested in:

    Bicycle Ranch shop ride leaves from the shop at 7am right now. They have an A, B and C group. Very friendly multiclub ride. Head back to the shop for post ride bagels and coffee.

    Faster group ride is also from their facility and IIRC have an A, B and C group. Great folks over there as well and the Faster facility is something to check out. They are the ones with the only low speed cycling specific wind tunnel in the world I believe. The owner is an old friend and he frequents the UC...

    BOS is a super fast paced ride that leaves from Scottsdale and Shea. I think it leaves at 6:30am right now but call Bike Haus for information. That ride is only one pace, one group and it's fast so wait to join up with those guys.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alkan View Post
    Update to everyone:

    I am going to focus on losing weight more than building power because I'm taking a long term approach to this. I still want to enter the race for the experience of the race, but I want to get my body fat down over this summer so that during the coming semester I can focus on harder efforts and load up on carbs for long training days.
    Besides the BOS ride I mentioned above there is every shaped and size rider at each of the rides. I think it would be a mistake to not join in and ride with some people. Making contacts, listening and learning what others have experienced can help you reach your goals. Unlike races, these rides are free, no pressure and you make them as hard or easy as you like.

    Life is short. Jump in!

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    Alkan if your talking about doing the Omnium up in Flagstaff I have done every edition of that race. I don't know if you are doing the whole thing or just the RR. The TT is new this year. The Snowbowl climb is a mass start but it is pretty much a time trial type effort. If you are in the Phoenix area some good training for this is riding out to Bartlett Lake and riding the climb up from the lake as hard as you can. Maybe do it twice. Another option is to go hit South Mountain. A harder climb that is an hours drive from North Phoenix is Mingus Mountain. That is a longer climb and it is at high altitude. You can give that a shot. The RR for the July Flagstaff race features a looong climb back out of a valley to the finish. Again a 60 to 70 mile ride down into Bartlett Lake works well couple with hitting the West Valley/BOS/Bike Ranch/Faster group ride. Just pick one. All of these climbs and rides are on Strava. If you want a little easier RR to get your feet wet before Flagstaff go hit Bike the Bluff up in Showlow in mid June. The climbs are much easier and you will get some race experience. Good luck and I'll see you out there along with Woody747.

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    Deer Valley is closest to me, about 10 miles south. I'll probably just ride down there this coming Tuesday.

    I look forward to it.

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    Definitely planning on doing the entire thing: I've put on more miles and more than three times as much climbing in a single day.

    It's not really climbing that worries me. It's the being in a group that I am going to be working on getting used to over the next two months, hence going to the events you guys are recommending.

    I definitely look forward to seeing you two there.

  22. #22
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    So how'd the race go?

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