Category Archives: Training

OMGNAPNA! (OMG, Not Again! Please Not Again!) – The Super Century 2015

It is with a sense of deep, dark dread that I inform you the Super Century is once again taking place next week on Super Bowl Sunday. I’ve waited as long as I could to post this, hoping that I would come to my senses and stop this madness. But alas, we are all going to suffer together apart once again for the 5th annual Super Century.

Robby is thrilled about another Super Century.

For those of you who’ve no idea what I’m talking about, let me just say that it might be the worst idea we’ve ever come up with. Actually, my stupid brother, Casey, came up with it, and then all of us took it and ran (or rode) with it. If you want to read about how the very first Super Century got started, you can do so here.

Here’s the basic info:

Who: You and your stupid, sadistic friends if you’re stupid gluttons for punishment like us

What: A metric century (62 miles) on the trainer

When: Super Bowl Sunday, February 7th, anytime you want really, but most of us will be starting around 8:30 AM

Where: Wherever the hell you want to suffer

Why: Because we’re stupid and also so we can eat whatever we want guilt-free during the Super Bowl

If you are dumb enough to join us in this terrible idea, be sure to hit us up on the book of faces and the twitterverse. And don’t forget to use #SuperCentury and #MyTaintHurts in your posts so we’ll see them. That way we can all suffer together apart virtually. It’s fun… Sort of… But not really…

Robby, Adam, and me at the end of the Super Century 2015 and the Tour of Sufferlandria 2015.

And for those of you who are certifiably insane, you can also take part in the Tour of Sufferlandria 2015 which starts Saturday the 6th. It will add a lot of pain and sufferng to your whole week, and it will make the Super Century even worse, if that’s even possible.

Robby, Adam, and I took part in the Tour of Sufferlandria last year, and you can read about the first of nine stages right here. And if you don’t want to read about all nine stages, you should at least take a look at my sweet bloody elbow from crashing on my trainer.

Last year, the Tour of Sufferlandria ended on Super Bowl Sunday. This year, however, the Tour starts the Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday, so the Super Century coincides with the second stage of the ToS. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse, but I’m sure it’s not good either way.

So let us know if you want to join us, you psycohpaths. Let’s suffer together.

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A SHARTS-Giving to Remember

Twas the Sunday after Thanksgiving. There was cold rain. There was mud. There was fire. There was coffee. There was whiskey. And there was laughter. Joyful, hearty laughter shared by bearded, manly men in the great outdoors. This is the telling of that story.

Read on, dear friends. Just know this: the words you’re about to read and the photos you’re about to see are meager substitutes for actually being there, experiencing it all, and sucking the marrow out of life.

Just ask Kate, who didn’t get to go. Now, on with the story…

As far as I know, I am the first person to finish the inaugural SHART, so I’m pretty much famous now. What’s that? You don’t know what a SHART is? No, not that kind of shart (although those of us on Team Virtus have plenty of experience with those as well).

If you haven’t been keeping up with us lately, then perhaps you missed this post explaining what a SHART is. If you’re too damn lazy to go read that, here’s a hint: SHared Adventure Race Training – that’s what a SHART is.

And perhaps you also missed this post regarding the very first SHART and how you too can participate if you’re in the St. Louis area-ish. This is the SHART which I was the first to complete. I guess that makes me sort of like the Neil Armstrong of SHARTs or something. Or would it be Neil SHARTstrong?

Bob was with me too, but I technically finished before he did. Chuck was also there, but he was the brilliant SHARTist behind this masterpiece, so he can’t really be considered for the first-ever SHART finisher. So I have laid claim to that title.

Bob was a last minute addition to our group just as Kate was a last minute cancellation. We were bummed Kate wouldn’t be joining us, but we were stoked about rubbing it in every chance we got.

We three men met up, geared up, and headed out.

Shared Adventure Race Training - SHART

The three bearded amigos.

Astride our trusty steeds, we pedaled out onto the gravel double track, hoping that most of the single track would be rideable. We had 15 checkpoints ahead of us. On each control marker – beautifully homemade by the one, the only, the amazing Lori Vohsen – was a secret letter which we needed to write down. These letters, when put together in order, would spell a secret word or phrase. This phrase would serve as proof that we reached all the checkpoints. Or would it?

Here’s our clue sheet:

SHART #1 Cue Sheet

My favorite clue is for CP #4

We took a different route to CP 1 than Chuck, who had set the course, had anticipated, partly because we were unsure of the conditions of the single track and partly because sometimes navigators do things differently. And that’s one of the many cool things about this sort of event. We can practice navigating and discuss what was done, what should have been done, and what someone else might do. It’s a great learning experience, and damn it, it’s just a super fun time. Right, Kate? Oh, sorry…

Nearing CP1 – which was at a graveyard in the middle of the woods – a random person came down through the trees from the general direction of the graveyard. No bike. No map. Just a random dude appearing out of nowhere. Or maybe it was a zombie for all we knew. A few pleasantries were exchanged, and we headed into the woods and found the first CP.

CP 1 of SHART 1

Checkpoint 1

Now, you may notice in these photos that Bob is in jeans and an ugly (or is it beautiful?) Christmas sweater with tinsel on the cuffs. Why, you ask? Because he’s Bob fuckin’ Jenkins that’s why. Don’t ask such stupid questions.

After getting the first secret letter, Bob thought he had the secret phrase figured out. Chuck neither confirmed nor denied if Bob was right. Spoiler alert: Bob was wrong.

From here, Bob F. Jenkins led us to CP2. We dropped our bikes on the double track trail and headed up and into the woods. The control marker shone brightly on this drab and dreary day, so it didn’t take long to spot it. We got the second secret letter, and as I was writing it down, it clicked. I knew without a doubt what the secret word or phrase was.

Chuck neither confirmed nor denied it… at first. However, the “Fuck you guys! Two freakin’ letters and you figured it out! Fuck you guys!” kind of gave it away. It was hilarious.

Now, just because we may have “cracked the code” doesn’t mean we just quit with an unbeatable time (trust me, our official finishing time is sure to be beaten). You’d have to be some kind of asshole to try to cheat at a free, badass training event. That would defeat the whole purpose and go completely against the spirit of the SHART. So we were still determined to get every damn CP come hell or high water. But not before a map check and bathroom break.

Bob shitting at the SHART

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

That rock was perfect, and this photo cracks me up. The sweater really sets the mood. But for some reason, this really reminds me of something from another time, another era…

Hmm… What could it be?

 

pooping at an adventure race

Great minds poop alike.

 

If you can tell me which race the above photo is from, you are a true Virtusite! And you have serious issues. But I digress.

We decided to take the trail, which was in surprisingly good shape, on foot to CP 3 at a spring/pond before heading back to get our bikes. That’s another cool feature of the SHART – being able to get the CP’s however we damn well please.

Bob and Chuck had already been to this little area back in the summer when they did a little swimming and exploring. With the temps in the 40’s, there would be no swimming on this day, though.

Luke at CP3 of SHART #1

Proof that I was indeed there and participating.

We made it back to our bikes and quickly pedaled our asses off to the next checkpoint. With a clue like “Irish Coffee Spot,” you’d be a fool to waste any time in getting there. We soon found the old pavilion as the rain started coming down a little harder. There were holes in the pavilion’s roof but not enough to leave us wet. It was the perfect spot for Irish coffee on a cold, wet day.

Chuck readied his Jetboil stove, Bob worked on the makings of a campfire, and I went to get some water out of the creek to boil. But not before I snapped a photo.

Irish Coffee at an old pavilion

I love this spot which shall now be called the Dublin Pavilion in honor of our Irish coffee.

Chuck fired up the stove and put the water on to boil. Bob had his wood ready (TWSS) in the fire ring, but he needed some tinder. He scoured the ground under and around the Dublin Pavilion to no avail. Curses! After a few more minutes of Bob’s desperate searching, Chuck asked what he needed. When Bob answered he was looking for some tinder, Chuck reached under his seat and said, “Well here’s this remnant of a bird’s nest. Oh, and here’s this old, dried up piece of birch bark.” This is just one more piece of evidence confirming Chuck was raised by a pack of wolves. The man is completely at home in the wilderness.

Bingo. Chuck’s tinder was exactly what Bob needed. So with nothing but a flint, small pieces of nest and birch bark, and a whole lot of manly badassness, Bob got us a nice fire going just as Chuck poured the boiling water into our awesome 100+ Project SiliPints.

I had brought Irish Burritos (some sausage breakfast burritos from the most famous Irish restaurant in the world – McDonald’s), because you know, it fit with our Irish theme. Sadly, Bob and I devoured ours as soon as we unwrapped them, but not Chuck. Chuck is a wise and patient man. They say the best things come to those who wait which is usually bullshit. This time, however, it couldn’t have been more true.

Chuck whittled himself a roasting stick and roasted that damn burrito over the fire to perfection. The tortilla was golden brown with a nice, flaky crust. The sausage, eggs, and cheese were hot and tasty. It was the best damn $1.00 burrito I’ve ever tasted. Seriously.

fire roasted burrito and Irish coffee

It may not get any better than this.

I don’t believe any of us were quite ready to leave, but the day was getting away from us. We had 11 more CP’s to find before we were done SHARTing. So we extinguished the fire, packed up, and headed back out on our bikes. The next CP was a short ride down the double track to the old chimney, another really cool spot.

chimney checkpoint at the SHART

We need to camp here.

 

old abandoned chimney

The chimney from afar.

From CP5, we had a difference in opinion on which way to go. Taking the double track all the way around and then take the trail back to CP6 was one option. The other option involved a hike-a-bike up a fairly steep hill to the trail and then biking on the trail a shorter distance. We chose the latter option. I’m not sure it was the better choice, though.

hike-a-bike orienteering at the SHART

It was steeper than this looks. At least we stayed warm.

After getting CP6, we hopped back onto the single track, and we rode to CP7. Actually, we rode past CP7 because I wasn’t paying close enough attention. After catching my mistake, we dropped the bikes and hiked to the the CP which was in another graveyard.

Those of you who participated in the first ShITR might recognize this tombstone:

Shared adventure race training cemetery checkpoint

Sweet Caroline

From CP7, it was a short ride to CP8 at the “Spring/Cave” which was really cool. Had it not been for the Irish coffee and singing Kumbayah together around the campfire back at CP4, this one would have been my favorite CP.

SHART Spring Cave

Chuck is the first known human to enter the cave, so he named it “SHART Spring Cave.”

CP9 at the “Peninsula” was also a short ride away, followed by just a bit of bushwhacking on foot. This was yet another cool place for a CP. It’s almost like Chuck knows his shit.

With all the recent rain, though, the water was up a bit, so Bob stripped down and braved the cold water to go get the secret letter (even though we already knew what it was since I’m basically Alan Turing when it comes to code breaking).

Bob's Peninsula at the SHART

Bob’s tiny Peninsula

Back on the bikes, we rode down the trail and found yet another cool CP. The clue was “Reentrant/Pipeline,” and yet again, Bob went to get the super secret letter from the control marker. I think he enjoyed himself a bit too much, though.

Cowboy Bob

Ride ’em, Cowbob!

We reached the next three CPs uneventfully and continued on toward CP 14. At this point in the day, the sun had almost set. With the cloud and tree cover, it was getting dark in a hurry. At least we were all prepared with headlamps, though. And by that, I mean we had one headlamp with nearly-dead batteries between us.

Bob and Chuck bombed the long, downhill doubletrack from CP13. Even with a headlamp, I was a little timid, and those guys just flew down it in stealth mode. Very impressive.

We found CP 14 as the darkness swallowed us, but we only had one more CP to go. CP15 was on the “SE Wall” in an old rock quarry. It looked like we were going to make it out alive and unscathed. But that’s when it happened.

Some asshole (me) forgot he had the only headlamp, so he didn’t point out a log in the trail leading into the quarry. It’s pretty impressive how fast a log will stop a front wheel if the rider never actually sees the log. Chuck nailed the log and crashed pretty hard. At least he got a pretty sweet knot under his eye from the crash. Sorry about that, Chuck.

We rode through the mushy, swampy grass and found the final CP. On the way out of the quarry, through no fault of my own this time, there was another crash. Somehow Bob crashed and managed to dry hump his handlebar on the way down.

handlebar to the goods

That’s gonna leave a mark.

It left a really good bruise above his package. And no, I didn’t just take his word for it. I actually saw the bruise on his majestically man-scaped pubic area at the Castlewood Race (report coming soon) the following weekend.

I pulled a DB move at the end by waiting until we were almost back to the parking lot and then sprinting to get back to the cars first. That’s how I became the first ever official SHARTer, edging out Bob for the title.

We headed into town for some food and drinks at Tully’s. I’m pretty sure the waitress wanted all three of us. We wreaked of the moist outdoors and campfire smoke with just a hint of whiskey. Throw in our wit, charm, boyish good looks, manly beards, and it’s no wonder she fell for us hard.

Three men and a beer-by

Sorry, ladies. We’re all off the market.

And with that, a mere 5 hours and 49 minutes after we started, our SHARTS-giving celebration came to an end. We had an absolute blast.

A day in the woods is a day well spent. A day SHARTing in the woods with great friends is even better.

Big thanks to Lori for making the awesome control markers, and big thanks to Chuck for inventing the SHART series and setting up the first course.

If you want to SHART with us, you can comment here on the blog or on our facebook page, and we’ll send you details on the current or next SHART event. That’s right, ladies and gents. We will be SHARTing throughout the year in lots of different locations. So stay tuned!

Tour of Sufferlandria: Stage Four

Here’s the update of Stage 4 of the Tour of Sufferlandria. You can catch up with stages one, two, and three if you want.

This morning I had to wake up a little before 4:00 AM for work, so I didn’t get enough sleep. My legs felt super heavy. I was already dreading the ride I was going to be doing later in the day. But after moving around at work, my legs started to feel a bit better, though still heavy and tired.

I had to squeeze in Stage Four – “Nine Hammers” – between shifts today, so I was riding solo again. “Nine Hammers” is one of the newest Sufferfest Videos, and it is, in my opinion, one of the hardest. It involves nine VO2 and Threshold intervals, and it’s an ass kicker. I was NOT looking forward to this one.

My legs did not want to cooperate during the warm-up, but the first Hammer surprisingly wasn’t horrible. I actually felt pretty damn good through the first seven intervals, in fact. But then those last two Hammers… Oh man, those last two really got to me. I thought I was gonna die. It sucked. In a good way. Sort of.

End of stage 4 of Tour of Sufferlandria

This is not a real smile despite how natural it looks.

I messaged Robby and Adam to tell them how well the first 7 Hammers went and how horrible the final 2 were. Robby later finished his own “Nine Hammers.”

The Darkness at Stage 4

Robby looks like I probably did at the end of Nine Hammers.

And then a few minutes later, The Darkness sent me this photo:

Fake smile at Tour of Sufferlandria

Also a fake smile despite how natural it looks. We are very good actors.

At the time of this writing, I haven’t heard from Adam on how his Stage 4 has gone. Maybe he hasn’t yet done it, but I’m sure he’ll make it happen.

I once again used TrainerRoad in conjunction with the Sufferfest to make sure I was suffering enough. And once again, I had to go harder than the numbers suggested on the high intensity VO2 stuff, but the numbers were dead-on for the threshold stuff. Take a look:

nine hammers at the Tour of Sufferlandria

Blue is the target, yellow is what I actually hit.

So Stage 4 is in the books. We’re almost halfway through the Tour of Sufferlandria. Tomorrow we head for the mountains which brings our first real climbing stage: “Angels.” Adam and I are going to try to meet up for this one. It should be a painfully good time.

Suffer on, my friends.

Update: Read about Stage Five (and how I wrecked my bike… inside… on a trainer.)

Tour of Sufferlandria: Stage Three

My legs were definitely tired and heavy heading into Stage 3 of the Tour of Sufferlandria, the first stage where I would ride without Robby “The Darkness” Brown. That being said, I felt better than I thought I would after the first two stages (Stage 1 and Stage 2). Eating enough good, nutritious food and getting enough sleep has definitely helped. And riding a bunch of Sufferfest Videos in the weeks leading up to the Tour helped prepare me… Well, at least it helped prepare me as much as one can prepare for this Tour.

With the kids off to school, I drank my morning Butter/Coconut Oil Coffee (Bulletproof Coffee), grabbed a small bite to eat, and headed down to hurt myself with Stage 3: “Fight Club.”

bulletproof coffee before Sufferfest

Coffee blended with butter and coconut oil. Sounds weird, but it’s delicious!

“Fight Club” was the first Sufferfest Video I’ve ever done, and it’s one of my favorites. It has some threshold work (of which I need a lot), climbing, and lots and lots of attacks.

The warm-up went fine, and the first of five “laps” went pretty good. The second “lap” started fine, but my legs really started to hurt after the first attack. And it just got progressively harder from there.

I managed to eek out the power numbers on the threshold work and climbs, but I again had to push harder than TrainerRoad‘s power numbers during the attacks to ensure enough suffering. And trust me, I suffered.

Sufferfest Fight Club on TrainerRoad

Blue shows the target, Yellow is what I actually did.

Those attacks made the threshold efforts that much harder to maintain. Then the lower cadence climbing at the end of each lap was really tough, and the attacks on during those climbs made it just awful.

My ass was in a bit of pain too. I think I’ll switch my Brooks Saddle from my gravel bike to my road bike on the trainer for the rest of the Tour. By the end of the ride, I was more than ready to be done.

End of TOS Stage 3

I couldn’t even fake a smile.

UPDATE: Robby finished his Stage 3 later in the evening. Here is his post-ride pic:

The Darkness after Stage 3 of the Tour of Sufferlandria

The Darkness couldn’t smile either apparently.

I was totally trashed after this one. I wobbled upstairs to re-hydrate and scarf down some food after stripping my soaking wet clothes off. I was a sweaty mess! I donated a lot of, as Sufferlandrians say, “Holy Water” during today’s stage. Take a look at my t-shirt after Stage 3:

So much Holy Water was donated, in fact, that my shoes were soaked all the way through. Actually, they were still damp from yesterday’s stage of “Blender.” So I decided to stuff them with newspaper so they’ll be a little drier for tomorrow’s stage.

bike shoes stuffed with newspaper

This works for Adventure Racing, so it’ll work for Stage Racing as well.

Speaking of tomorrow’s stage… **shudders** Tomorrow brings the newest Sufferfest Video – “Nine Hammers” – and it is the hardest video I’ve done so far. It’s going to really, really hurt. Just like today, we’ll be doing tomorrow’s stage solo.

Robby and I didn’t realize it, but Adam is also doing the Tour on his own. This is great news! Another Virtusan suffering together virtually. We’re planning on riding some of the stages together later in the week if we can make it work.

Suffer on, my friends!

Update: Now you can read about Stage Four of the Tour

Tour of Sufferlandria: Stage Two

With my legs feeling yesterday’s Stage 1, I was a bit worried about Stage 2. I kept reading on the Tour’s Facebook page how much everyone around the world was suffering. I guess that’s the whole point of this thing, though.

Stage 2 had us doing “Blender” – The Sufferfest’s second longest video at 1 hour, 44 minutes, and 27 seconds. That’s right. Nearly 2 hours on the trainer. For those of you who have never had the “pleasure” of joining us for the Super Century, that might seem like a ridiculously long time to sit on the damn trainer and ride inside. And you’d be right.

Stage 2 of the Tour of Sufferlandria

But “Blender” was great, and the time really seemed to fly by. Sort of, anyway. I forgot to start my TrainerRoad app, so we had to pause the video and wait for the app to catch up. That just meant we got about 5 minutes of bonus warm up spinning.

After the warm up, we got right into the work, and the first 10-minute threshold interval followed by a short recovery and then a VO2 Max interval hurt so good. I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe we still had an hour and twenty minutes left. But then I soon found myself sort of getting into a groove.

My target numbers on TrainerRoad based off my FTP test were pretty much spot on for this first round of intervals. I managed to stay close or slightly above the recommended power level, but it hurt. And I suffered.

Blender on TrainerRoad

Blue is the target, yellow is what I actually did.

The next thing I knew, we were through the first set of longer intervals and ready to start the second set of shorter, power intervals, working on VO2 and anaerobic capacity, and we were over halfway through the video.

The power numbers on TrainerRoad were too easy for these shorter, higher intensity intervals, so I just pushed harder and went by Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE) instead of the power numbers. I ended up with a much higher power output for these intervals than TrainerRoad recommended (that’s why the yellow line is much higher that the blue in the photo above).

I’m not sure what to make of that. That could mean I’m better at sprinting than riding at or just below threshold. Or maybe I need to retest my FTP. But then that might make the longer, threshold intervals too difficult.

So, I’ll just finish the tour with the FTP I’m currently using and retest after the Tour is over. And if anything seems too easy, like the anaerobic intervals did, I’ll just push myself harder.

After the anaerobic intervals, we had 3 more threshold intervals. These were tough since our legs were already fried. But we managed to finish, and we were both disgustingly sweaty – literally dripping onto the floor and without a dry spot on our bodies. It was fantastic.

finish of stage 2 of the Tour of Sufferlandria

Why yes, that is a 2011 Fantasy Football Championship Banner in the background.

After the cooldown, we hopped off our bikes, gave a few fist-bumps, and basked in our suffering. It was a really great ride with some awesome footage of road racing, mountain biking, cyclocross, and even some fat bike snow riding.

After saying bye to Robby, I headed upstairs where my incredible wife had a steaming bowl of homemade Pizza Soup waiting for me. It was just what I needed after a hard ride. Big thanks to the Mrs.

Pizza Soup after stage 2 of the Tour of Sufferlandria

For the next few days, Robby and I will be completing each stage on our own since our schedules won’t match up until Friday. Then we will reunite and finish this thing together.

Tomorrow brings the first Sufferfest video I’ve ever done: Fight Club. Stay tuned…

(Update: Stage 3 is done)

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