A ‘Dam” experience, with some ‘WIND” chill factor!

A TON has happened over the last few days here in Vegas, especially with the three big rides Roman and myself did.

The new bridge to Arizona, at Hoover Dam

Roman and I at the Hoover Dam, Nevada side

Our first big ride, down to the Hoover Dam, was definitely my favorite ride we’ve had so far. The weather was unreal, getting up to 35 degrees C over at the dam, it was amazing out all day. We did thousands of meters of climbing that day, as it was all up and down to and from the dam. Out near the dam is a 33MILE bike path, perfectly paved, that is ONLY for cyclists, runners, walkers, etc. It was perfect for riding on, some places we were just flying along at high speeds, with hairpin turns. The dam was an experience itself, Roman knew a lot of the history of the dam, and imparted some of that wisdom on me. Halfway across the dam you are in Arizona (and yes, that means crossing a time zone!) We officially rode 1 mile into Arizona. After the dam, it was some epic climbing all the way back to where we split off (Roman got to keep riding WITH a tailwind,) and then it got REALLY hard for me, as I was fighting a crazy headwind for about 45 minutes to get back to my hotel. It was ugly, as the winds out here get REALLY ugly in a hurry.

“It’s not THAT high, only a hand length….”

Just up from the Dam, Arizona side
Ripping along the 8ft wide, 33mile long cycle path
Roman prepping for the descent with magazines in the shirt!!

The next day (wednesday,) was the height of our climbing experience here, as we rode all the way to the top of Mt. Charleston (which is somewhere between 7000-8000ft high.) The worst thing about the climbing? Headwind.

Top of Mt. Charleston, over 7000ft!!


That’s right, 30km’s of hard climbing (avg grade around 13%,) and it was COLD that day. As we got to the visitors center at the top, we were warned we should head back down as a weather system was moving in. Now, we weren’t prepared for the cold that day (duh, we’re in VEGAS, it’s supposed to be WARM!!!) so we prepped for the decent by putting magazine’s in our jerseys to block the wind, and I went so far as to buy a pair of socks from the visitors center, cut the toes off, and used them as calf guards (compressport calf guards would’ve worked WAY better, but these got me down good enough, lol.) It was a chilly but FAST decent down.

After hours of 120kmh wind climbing, summit of Mt. Potosi

Thursday was by far the most memorable ride I think I will EVER experience, as it was the highest winds I am ever likely to see. It was our longest ride day, and the winds were 120km/hr most of the day. It was insane I tell you. Roman was blown off the road a few times (no thanks to his ZIPP 404’s,) and I was slapped around by the wind pretty good too. We climbed Mt. Potosi (around 5500ft at the summit,) with the 120km/hr headwinds the whole way. Imagine climbing in your small chainring, biggest cog, yet still only turning about 55rpm, pushing on average 250+ Watts. THEN, some of the gusts hit so hard that they literally STOPPED us in our tracks, and I had to stand and push as HARD as I could, JUST TO KEEP MOVING!!!! It was frightening sometimes, especially on the decent. That was a whole ‘nother monster unto itself, as it took us 2.5hrs to climb to the top of the mountain, and about 15 minutes to decend (averaging well over 70km/hr coming down.) That day was FREEEZING too, yet again we were unprepared for the cold.

Banner’s gonna break off in the wind

You’d think we would’ve learned eh? Guess not.

Old Freemont street on the strip

We rode through the strip near the end of our ride, which was amazing to see. I’ve never seen hotels that big before, it was overwhelming. I got majorly rained on RIGHT at the end of my ride, it started to come down hard about a mile from my condo, so I narrowly avoided the worst of it.

Dinner in the Aria Hotel

But then I had to do a brick run in it:( Ugly, I was tripped up a few times by the wind. I’m telling you, intervals are almost impossible to do at certain pace zones when the wind can stop you on the spot. It’s a different experience, one that I can put into perspective at home (we’ll NEVER have winds like these at home, they would shut the city down!) That night, Roman and I went down to the strip for dinner, and to check things out, as that was his last night here. Delicious dinner, and I won $17 at the roulette table in the Aria. It was awesome, even though I’m not a gambler at all, the lights at night just astound the senses, it’s very difficult to really take it all in during a short little trip through.

My first experience on ‘The Strip’

Think I might have to go back some time;)

After yesterday’s easier day, I’m ready to ramp it back up, and the weather is now steadily improving (although it’s still really cold out.) They say that it is oddly cold this last week, and of course it’s supposed to heat WAY back up right after I leave (seems to be my luck in life.) Oh well, I’ll make the best of it, at least it’s not raining right?

Time to get out there and RIDE!!!

Las Vegas Take-Down, Day 2 and 3

After one of the BEST sleeps I’ve probably had in a long time, I woke up on saturday feeling very refreshed. After a delicious breakfast, including my favourite new thing to eat, a GIANT breakfast smoothie with frozen berries, almond milk, yogurt, and all my ‘extra’ little macro/micro nutrient and protein mixes, I got to work putting my bike together. After some mild persuasion, I got it all ready to roll. Then it was time to hit out on the open road!

Riding the “small” hills

I had heard about a good little route that goes through the Red Rock Canyon, that was supposed to be a really hard climbing route. I kinda bypassed it, I decided I’d ride the canyon on sunday, and just cruised through the different valleys around Vegas, stopping in at local bike shops and stores to check things out. Post ride was a big brick run, and since I dont have a car, I threw a backpack on and finished the run at the grocery store to pick up a few odds and ends (such as after-sun lotion, stupid me I got a sunburn!!) Suffice to say, my first full day of training was AWESOME, it must’ve gotten up to the high 20’s, maybe even close to 30 degrees. Lots of exploring for sure.

Speaking of exploring, I noticed a few things:
1. there are a TON of smoke/hookah shops in vegas. And I mean a LOT.

Fueling up post training, chicken fajita style!

2. Think there’s a lot of Sushi joints in Vancouver? I dont think our precious Vancouver can hold a candle to Vegas, TONS of them EVERYWHERE.

So after some great training, time for some dinner and hopefully an early bedtime.

Las Vegas Take-Over, Day 1

Protecting the bike with foam insulation
The new Aerus Biospeed Bike Bag
Bike neatly packed away
After an immense amount of preparation for my Vegas Camp (mostly packing,) I started off the morning with a nap, as I came off my last night shift at work. Off to the Bellingham Airport, Dad was giving me a ride down so I could save money on the parking costs. We skirted through the long border line-up by going through the duty-free, (to save time on the wait,) and an 85% Dark Chocolate bar (my favourite,) and one pack of batteries for my camera later, we were through the border in an awesome 12 minutes!!! Lucky us.  As I went through check-in at the airport, I was a little nervous about checking my bike. For those of you who have never travelled with a bike bag or box before, there is an extra fee associated with bike travel. I’ve paid up to $175 ONE WAY for a bike box (thanks United Airlines,) and as little as $50. It is a combination of overweight/oversize fees, but EVEN if your box/bag is undersize/underweight, and they find out you have a bike, they’ll still ding you with the fees. And when it costs more to fly your bike than yourself, something’s up. So instead of borrowing a bike box for this trip, I made an executive decision and decided I needed to get a bag for myself, as racing internationally will require flying a lot (duh!) and it would be a good investment. I did a lot of research, and finally figured out which bag I wanted to buy: the Aerus Biospeed Bike Bag. It was modestly priced as far as bike luggage is concerned (about $450 all-in, to my front door,) but there was something even more enticing about this bag: the possibility of AVOIDING bike fees!!! Most of the reviews I read about the bag (including pro’s like Brent McMahon, and Heather Wurtel,) said they almost always were able to avoid the bike fees with this bag, as it was very inconspicuous (just a plain black bag, no “BIKE” written all over it,) extremely lightweight (only 7lbs,) and didn’t really look like a bike bag at all. I figured if I showed up to the check-in counter with normal clothes on (ie. Not wearing a shirt that says “Tour de France for LIFE” all over it,) they might not question what was in my bag.  This way, the bag would practically pay for itself.
Getting the bike on the other side
Well, it’s starting to pull it’s weight now (ha ha ha, no pun intended.) I EASILY made it through the check-in counter without paying the bike fee, all I had to pay was the check baggage fee ($20,) MUCH cheaper than it could have cost (with Alaska Airlines it’s up to $75, relatively cheap compared to other airlines.) It JUST made the regular weight, coming in at 49.6lbs on their scale (50lbs being the cut-off,) so I guess I’m not too bad at packing! Some people would think that a bike bag would be a bad idea for bike travel, (fear of damaging their bike,) but the bag is decently sturdy, and there were no negative reviews from owners stating any damage to their precious rides. Following other’s advice, I went to Home Depot and bought a bunch of foam pipe insulation to pad the heck out of the bike. It keeps it even more protected, like armour for my bike. It was super easy to pack the bike, even this being the first time with it, and it is so neatly tucked away, with lots of spots to throw other stuff. It carries super easy with the shoulder strap, (being a strapping young man, 50lb bags are no problem 😛 Haha!) This investment is already paying for itself, and within a few flights it should be paid off (especially with the expensive airlines that charge a bundle.)
I was very curious about how to get all my supplements down to vegas with me, as I have a LOT of them. After consulting Bjoern about what to do, I packed a whole bunch of the E-Load Gels and an E-Mend Recovery Drink canister in the bike bag, and packed away a bunch of single serving E-Load packs in my carry-on, as well as a bag of E-Load powder. I put enough of my daily vitamin capsules for the trip into one big pill container, and bagged enough glutamine, BCAA’s, Veggie-Greens, Phytoberry, and Bet-Alanine for the trip. I discovered there is a supplement store only blocks from my condo, so I will make a stop there to buy some Vega Whole Food Optimizer for my breakfast shakes, as well as some protein, Omega Oils, and a few other goodies to make sure I’ll be stocked up for my camp. This will be the biggest block of volume I’ve ever done, so I have to ensure that I’m properly fuelled for the long days of training (in the heat, no less.) This is where the E-Load Heat Endurance Formula will really shine. There is also a bike shop about 4 miles away, which has enough to get me by in case of any problems. Seeing as I don’t have a car for the trip (there’s a $20 a day surcharge for drivers under 25yrs old, DARN!) I’m lucky there’s a grocery store across the street from my condo, and a Safeway a short walk away. I’ll probably end up shopping frequently, so this makes life so much easier! I may end up renting a car for the last portion of my trip, that way I can actually go to the pool to swim, and maybe get out and see some shows or something. 
The bike made it through the flight unscathed, and after a nice 1hr30min run through the neighborhood to do  some exploring (which ended up taking 2.5hrs, as I kept stopping to look inside stores and what-not!!) I unpacked all my stuff. Only then did I realize something absolutely DREADFUL:
Midnight food run, fully stocked though!
I didnt have anything to eat for dinner. Oh….my….god! My worst nightmare! So I had to WALK to the nearest grocery store (just over a km away,) and by the time I finished shopping and left, it was just past midnight.
That’s right, MIDNIGHT. Some people go to vegas to shut down the bars. I go to shut down the local grocery stores. After dragging my loot back to the condo (not fun, but I guess a good workout,) I finally get to go to bed.
Interesting start to the trip, but that’s how I roll.

Dave Reed Classic 5k Yields a New PB!!

Race Report:
Waking up on race morning last Sunday, March 26th, I was still groggy and tired (not the best sleep pre-race, but seems to be the norm in the racing world,) so off to the espresso machine for a little pick-me-up. BAM!!! A double shot of espresso later, my head was in the game, and I was ready to run. I was nervous about this race, as I was coming off yet another hard week of training, (just the day before was a double swim day, and a track workout in between with coach Bjoern and the rest of the UBC gang,) and my calves were just SCREAMING at me, “DONT DO IT!!!” They were pretty fried to say the least, what with this being my 3rd race in only 4 weeks (UBC, St. Paddy’s Day 5k,) and I knew that it was going to be pure pain. The funniest part is, only a few days before the race, I was just cruising through my training log, and I decided to check out the details on this particular Saturday’s workout, as it looked a little odd. It showed a 45min warm-up, and then the main set showed a URL website address. Opening it, to my horror, it showed the 5k race. So with only a few days notice, I had to sign up. I figured coach was trying to do me in for sure.
My #1 Fan!!
 Fortunately for me, there were others participating in this suffer-fest of a race (aren’t all 5k’s pure suffering?) First off, my very good brothers-in-pain David Pallermo, Elliot Holtham, and Drew Nicholson were all entered in the race. What I also found out at the start line, was that National Training Center members Andrew McCartney and Cole Stewart would be there (very fast athletes, and guys I will be racing with this season.) Very exciting!! I also somehow managed to convince my mum to sign up for the race (more of me signing her up, and kindly informing her she was running!haha) Coach Bjoern was going to be there to watch as well, and I had a special fan coming with me, cheering me on like crazy at the finish line, my girlfriend De Anna. Always have to give that extra effort to impress my girl 😉
The finish line sprint, with a pass
Sipping my E-Load Heat Endurance Formula on the way to the race, I was fuelled by a solid breakfast shake of yogurt and berries (which in retrospect, might have been a bit too much to eat, back to the drawing board on that,) but I was feeling superbly energized, surprising even after a hard week of training. A good solid 40minute warm-up and an E-Load Gel later, I found myself bouncing around the start line, ready to go. With a loud horn blast, the race was on, and as predicted the calves were in searing pain from the start. As the race progressed, the rest of the legs started to burn like mad, but I kept pushing to keep with the pack. I was happy that I could hold on to the main lead pack of runners (including Dave and Andrew,) for the first 3.5kms, then I started to fall off as they cranked up the pace. My goal became one of survival, trying my best to stay away from anyone behind me (which included Elliot, hot on my heels and keeping me running scared!) As the last 500m’s loomed, a runner up further started to slow slightly, and I decided that it was time to give it everything left in the tank. Lungs burning, vision blurring, legs in a hellish realm of torture, I was reeling in the last guy I thought I could catch, and with an excruciatingly difficult effort I managed to surge past with about 100m’s to go, ending up in 6th place, with a new Personal Best of 15:58, FINALLY breaking the 16 minute mark (and that much closer to the World Cup Time Standard of 15:40 for the 5k!) Andrew and David threw down some killer times, Andrew edging out the others for second, David pulling in an incredible PB smashing race to go 15:39, and pull off a second overall. Outstanding work for everyone, with Elliot surviving his first EVER road race (barely,) for a just over 16 minute 5k.
Elliot, myself, Dave, and Drew, post-race celebration
Super happy with the new PB!!!
So a few things about this race: A. Eating a GIANT burrito at 8:45pm the night before the race (which is becoming a routine ritual after the Friday night track/masters swim sessions in UBC,) = BAD. Leaves you feeling too full on race morning, and does NOT help with a good sleep.
B. Breakfast needs to be smaller, ESPECIALLY with these short 5k races. Some liquid calories with a banana is going to be my new pre-race breakfast (for short course anyways,) keeping me lighter with less stomach issues.
C. The E-Load drink, mixed with the Gel about 15 minutes before the race ensured I would have enough energy and electrolytes to make it through the race, as the short race needed a very long warm-up. They worked perfectly, SUPER easy on the stomach, with no crashing or anything. A healthy product too, with no fillers or additives, for those health freaks like myself!!!
D. I used the Compressport Calf-Guards, they are a staple in my race execution. They help with the shock from running, keep fresh blood flowing to my muscles, and help keep everything together (especially after a hard week of training.) They do seem to make a difference, and on  a bit of a colder day they keep the legs slightly warmer (although on hot days, they almost seem to keep the legs cooler!)
E. Julio Daza, of Code Sport, gave me a new pair of Code Bamboo Socks the day before the race, to try out. From the moment I put them on, it was like a vacation for my feet!! They are EASILY the most comfortable sock I’ve ever worn, and during the race it felt like I was wearing cadillacs, (you know, the smooth cushy ride in the back seat of your high school clunker, that EVERYONE wanted to ride in because it was the most comfortable around!) They are SO soft, and being slightly thicker on the bottom gave them a very cushioned feel, but not so much as to make my shoes feel too tight. The New Balance 205KIM race flats were absolutely amazing as always, hugging my feet so perfectly, giving me a TON of spring in every step, and super light to boot!
The top guys in our Age Group
The day being a success, I looked forward to the next chance to test my fitness, which will be the 2011 Vancouver Sun Run 10k road race, which Bjoern somehow conned me into signing up for. It will be more pain than this 5k was, as I will have just returned from my 12 day training camp in Las Vegas (a 60+hr training camp,) and will also be coming off my second night shift at work. Fatigued, tired, and rushed. That’s the life of a pro triathlete.
Guess I’ll just have to get used to it J