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  1. #1
    SSP
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    Senior (gasp!) Games

    My motto is "Work Hard and Play Harder" (double entendre entirely intentional).

    So in that vein, I'm writing this from St. George, Utah - I'm here for a week's vacation, to compete in the Huntsman World Senior Games in 4 cycling events and a triathlon.

    It's a beautiful area, and there are nearly 10,000 athletes here from all over the US, and from several foreign countries. I've been here since Sunday, so first I'll post some photos and travelogue as a way of catching up to the present.
    Last edited by SSP; 10-09-07 at 05:42 PM.
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    Senior Games - Road Trip!!!

    The Chinese say that a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step...in my case, it began with figuring out how to get two bikes, bike stand, tools, hiking, biking, and running gear, and clothing for 8 days into my little blue car. I much prefer to carry the bikes inside the car, instead of up on a roof rack - not only are the bikes safer inside, but when you get up above 90 mph or so the roof rack makes a lot of noise.


    Hitting the road just before noon on Saturday, I enjoyed one of the most gorgeous days in the Sierras that I've seen in years. The storm front that had come through on Thursday evening left dazzlingly white early season snow above 5,000 feet, and crystal blue skies with 50 mile visibility. As an added bonus, the aspens and bracken ferns along Highway 44 were ablaze in yellow.


    As usual, before heading out across the desert I put a dent in my credit card at the Sierra Trading Post outlet store in Reno.They had exactly one of those Patagonia "weighs next to nothing" cycling jackets left in stock, and it was in my size, and clearance priced at about 70% off...so cha-ching! I also found some other cool gear, and a pair of Royal Robbins slacks (for $20!).

    Once into the desert, I cranked up the music (the new Springsteen album is pretty good, plus plenty of classics - Pat Benatar, Don Henley, etc.), and cranked up the car too. Thankfully, the car worked well, and so did the radar detector! (For the most part, I kept it below 100 mph ).

    It was a little weird once I got south of Fallon, Nevada...I drove over 90 minutes through an inky black cold night on Nevada 375 without seeing another car (and no gas stations for 180 miles). That road goes along the eastern edge of a large and secret military installation known as Area 51 and is rumored to be home to captured alien spacecraft. I stopped once at the top of a 6500 foot pass to admire the stars - with the cold clear air and the elevation, the Milky Way was phenomenal, glowing brightly all the way across the sky from horizon to horizon. Didn't see any UFO's, but I did have to dodge some tumbleweeds and suicidal jackrabbits (I found that driving right down the center of the road is the safest way to avoid them ).

    Rolled into St. George on Sunday morning, and checked in to the Holiday Inn. St. George is a neat little town, and it's really booming. Lots of new businesses and homes, with some really beautiful upscale "Hopi-style" developments north of town. This week, the town is hosting thousands of athletes from all over North America and some foreign countries here for the Huntsman World Senior Games.

    After getting my bikes assembled, I took the road bike and headed north of town to Snow Canyon State Park. It's the venue for Tuesday's 5K (3.1 mile) Hill Climb, and Friday's 62K (39 mile) Road Race. I rode both courses to check them out, and ended up with a beautiful ride of 42 miles with nearly 3000 feet of climbing through some outstanding red rock and lava rock canyons.

    They must have gotten some rain or snow recently, because I saw this very unusual sight while on the hill climb. It's a "Shaggy Mane" mushroom (Coprinus comatus), growing right out off the barren sand and lava rock.

    I reported this sighting to the park naturalist, and he seemed very interested. He was unaware of that species being documented previously in the park's flora and said he was definitely going to check it out.

    And here's an example of some of the scenery on the road race course:
    Last edited by SSP; 10-09-07 at 05:45 PM.
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  3. #3
    SSP
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    On Monday, I drove about 40 miles to Springdale, Utah, at the entrance to Zion National Park to preview Wednesday's 40K (25 mile) time trial course.

    The course is an "out and back" along the Virgin River on Hwy 9, starting in Springdale. It has a few short steep hills (especially on the way back), with the first half mostly downhill, and the second half mostly uphill...but only about 600 feet of total climbing. It's a beautiful course with plenty of red rock buttes and mesas all around. Today I enjoyed the scenery, because on Wednesday I won't be seeing much of anything except the road right in front of my front tire.

    The main issue on the course was the wind....it was howling (probably around 25 mph or so). I had a major tailwind pushing me along the first half of the course - it only took me 28 minutes (avg speed nearly 27 mph). But the second half was another story - with the hills and the huge headwind it took me 50 minutes (at 15 mph). Hopefully, the wind won't be blowing quite so hard on Wednesday's time trial. Oh, well...we all have to ride in the same wind.

    After riding the TT course, I rode up into Zion National Park to enjoy the scenery. The ride in the park is incredibly beautiful - like Yosemite, except with a palette of reds and yellows instead of grays, and pinion pine and cottonwoods, instead of firs and cedars. And no cars! They're banned on the road into the park (only propane powered shuttle buses allowed), which allowed me to sit up and take most of the pictures below while riding the bike. Enjoy!

    Tomorrow, the real competition starts, with a 5K (3.1 mile) hill climb.

    Speaking of competition...next year I might enter the 10K run. I checked the results from today's 10K and my time from the September 30th Lion's Club 10K would have been good enough for a Bronze medal!

    Scenes from Monday's ride in Zion National Park...don't ya just hate Monday's!









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    Today (Tuesday), marked the start of the bike competitions. The first event was a "hill climb" - 5K (3.1 miles), with about 1000 feet of climbing. I was entered in the "Division II - Experienced" class (the other two were Division I - Expert/Extreme, and Division III - Recreational).

    The race was run like a time trial, with riders going off at 30 second intervals.

    The first half mile or so was pretty flat, but then it kicked up into a moderate hill. It then flattened out a bit, before kicking up again for a fairly long and steep (10%?) hill. After one more short section that was mostly flat, it kicked up again for the final climb to the finish. On the long second hill, I gave it a bit too much gas because it looked like I was gaining ground on several riders ahead of me...that was a mistake because I went too far into the red zone. From there to the finish, I was just holding on for dear life and trying not to give up too much time (and hoping I wouldn't hurl up a lung!). By the finish line, I was completely spent.

    Tactically, I probably could have done a little better if I hadn't gone too hard and "blown up" on the second climb. I also got passed near the end of the climb by the guy who started 30 seconds behind me, and I didn't pass anyone else. Based on all that, I didn't have very high hopes for my performance (though I knew I'd given it everything I had). I'd also forgotten to reset my watch or computer, so I had no idea as to my time.

    As it turned out, the competition was very close - when the results were posted, there were only 22 seconds separating 3rd place from 6th place (there were 11 competitors in my age group/division).

    Fortunately, yours truly was on the short end of the time gaps, and I got to hear my name called for the Bronze Medal!


    Three medalists, plus ribbons for 4th-6th, celebrating on the podium.


    The guy who passed me came in first, and the guy who started 30 seconds ahead of me came in second place. Thankfully, I wasn't entered in Division I (Expert) - in that division my time would not have been good enough for 6th place!

    So, overall....Life is Good!


    Tomorrow is the 40K (25 mile) time trial. Hopefully, I can move up a place (or two!).
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  5. #5
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    I was a little worried about you when I read the title of the post. My mother competes in senior games. Great pics and good luck in the 40K TT.

    Edit: Congrats on the bronze.
    Last edited by Hermes; 10-09-07 at 06:50 PM.
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    Thanks!

    And, BTW, there are regional Senior Games held all over the US. If you're over 50, and feel like competing, I highly recommend checking out the National Senior Games Association website. Besides cycling events, they offer running, swimming, track and field, softball, golf, and much more.

    It's a fun way to meet inspiring athletes from all over, and to test yourself against your peers in a very supportive environment. And, if you're lucky (or good), you can even get a medal!
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  7. #7
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Great read. Pity there was competition to spoil all that lovely scenery

    Congrats on the bronze.

    Richard
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  8. #8
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    Today's race was a 40K (24.85 miles) time trial, starting and ending in Springdale, Utah (a nice little town just outside the main entrance to Zion National Park). The course was flattish, with only about 700 feet of climbing as it followed the Virgin River downstream (the Virgin River is the river that carved the amazing sandstone cliffs in Zion National Park). The outbound leg was mostly downhill with about 200 feet of up, while the return leg had around 500 feet of total climbing.

    For those unfamiliar with time trialing, it's known as the "race of truth" because there's no team tactics and no drafting. Riders start at 30 second intervals, so it's just you, the bike, and the clock...and every second counts.

    For this type of racing, aerodynamics plays a huge role. Most of the work of moving a bicycle forward, especially when you're going faster than 20 mph, involves overcoming resistance to the air. So, anything you can do to make yourself or your bike more aero will allow you to squeeze more speed out of your engine.

    The shot below illustrates some of these equipment choices. The tubes of the bike frame are blade-shaped. The handlebars are called "aero bars" and allow the rider to get "low and narrow" (and, nowhere near the brakes!). The wheels too have been designed to efficiently cut through the air. Likewise, the "skin suit" I'm wearing, along with the cone-shaped helmet, and shoe covers all help to make me as "slippery" as possible. I even went so far as to glue on my race number instead of using safety pins.



    As you can imagine, it's not the most comfortable of positions...and the bike itself is not very good at stopping or cornering...but, for racing against the clock those are not priorities.

    One other thing I did for aerodynamics was to remove my wristwatch...however, that almost screwed up my race. The clock on my bike computer was a couple of minutes slow, and as I approached the start line I heard them shouting "354 - get to the line right now!" I got to the line with exactly 13 seconds to spare (doh!), and only had time to clip in to the pedals and go. I couldn't even reset my bike computer so I was unable to keep a check on my time as the course unfolded. But that screw-up might have worked to my advantage...I started out with an enormous rush of adrenaline!

    I tried to be really careful and not go out too hard in the first half of the race, but even so I was soon catching and passing other riders. The outbound leg had a pretty good quartering tailwind, and some downhills, and several times I found myself going 40 mph while stretched out over the front wheel and hoping the sidewinds wouldn't make controlling the bike too difficult.

    At the turnaround, I was still feeling pretty strong, but knew there was still a lot more work to do. The little hills, and the quartering 10-12 mph headwinds made it difficult on the way back. But I stayed within my limits (mostly), until the last 2 miles when I just went all out to the finish.

    I got passed by 3 riders in the last few miles, but from their numbers I could tell that they were not in my division. After the finish, I waited to see where rider 355 was - he started 30 seconds behind me, and was the guy who had won the gold medal in yesterday's hill climb. I was pleased to see him come in over 90 seconds behind me, so I knew then that I'd had a pretty good race. But, it took about 40 more minutes before they finally posted the race results on the board outside of the appropriately named Majestic View Lodge.



    It was then that I saw I had come in second place out of 11 starters in my group....and had missed the gold medal by a mere 6 seconds!!

    For those of you who like math, my time of 01:01:11 was only 0.16% slower than the gold medal winner's time. And my average speed was 24.369 mph, which is pretty darned good for a guy who will turn 55 in 2 months!

    But, hey...it's OK (really!). I'm going to use that 6 seconds to justify the purchase of a more aerodynamic "full disk" wheel for the back of the bike (if you can't buy a bigger motor, at least you can buy some aerodynamic speed!). Besides making you more aero, those full disk wheels make the coolest sound when they fly by (kind of like a jet).

    Regardless of the six seconds, it sure felt great to step up onto the podium for the silver medal.



    Here's hoping you all had a great day too!


    And, just so I don't get too full of myself...the guys in Division I were mostly all under 1 hour. The winning time in Division 1 for my age group was around 56 minutes.
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    I'm enjoying these reports and pics! They almost make me want to enter the senior games in my area
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    Congratulations, SSP.

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    Fantastic time in the 40K TT. A one hour TT is the gold standard. Without the climbing, you would have easily broke 1 hour.

    Did you wear gloves? I have been advised that there is a substantial penalty in drag from gloves. I find that it little hard to believe but I am sure it is something.

    What elevation are you at?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Fantastic time in the 40K TT. A one hour TT is the gold standard. Without the climbing, you would have easily broke 1 hour.

    Did you wear gloves? I have been advised that there is a substantial penalty in drag from gloves. I find that it little hard to believe but I am sure it is something.

    What elevation are you at?
    Thanks...I was hoping to break 1 hour. Maybe with a disk wheel and a little less wind on the course...

    I heard from another participant that 40K TT's are getting harder to find. She said that at the national championships this year, they only raced 30K. Apparently, it's pretty difficult to find suitable roads for 40K's, plus the issues of traffic control or road closures.

    As for the gloves - yes, I wore them. They were special time trial gloves, mostly lycra with no closures to catch wind. At those speeds I wanted to have something on my hands in case of a spill.

    I think the elevation in Springdale is around 3500 feet. It wasn't much of an issue for me, breathing-wise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beverly View Post


    I'm enjoying these reports and pics! They almost make me want to enter the senior games in my area
    Thanks! But, you really should think about entering...it's a very supportive and fun group of people, and seeing some of the folks still out there kickin' butt in their 80's is inspiring!
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    My motto is "Work Hard and Play Harder" (double entendre entirely intentional).
    I don't get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    Thanks...I was hoping to break 1 hour. Maybe with a disk wheel and a little less wind on the course...

    I heard from another participant that 40K TT's are getting harder to find. She said that at the national championships this year, they only raced 30K. Apparently, it's pretty difficult to find suitable roads for 40K's, plus the issues of traffic control or road closures.

    As for the gloves - yes, I wore them. They were special time trial gloves, mostly lycra with no closures to catch wind. At those speeds I wanted to have something on my hands in case of a spill.

    I think the elevation in Springdale is around 3500 feet. It wasn't much of an issue for me, breathing-wise.
    Concur on the gloves. It does not feel right to cycle without them.

    The higher the elevation the thinner the air and in general the faster the times. There is a TT course in New Mexico at 5500 feet where most of the TT records are set. The Northern California / Nevada District TT championships are held at Sattley, CA near Truckee at 5000 feet. They have a surveyed 40k TT course.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    SSP
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
    I don't get it.
    I'm sorry.



    And yesterday evening got even better for me - I went over the event center to check on results, and started chatting up a tall thin blonde runner/triathlete. Bottom line - I got her phone number and we're going to have dinner, and maybe go for a hike in Zion National Park on Saturday.

    Life is Good.
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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    I'm sorry.



    And yesterday evening got even better for me - I went over the event center to check on results, and started chatting up a tall thin blonde runner/triathlete. Bottom line - I got her phone number and we're going to have dinner, and maybe go for a hike in Zion National Park on Saturday.

    Life is Good.
    Was that the leggy women in the uhmm "majestic" shot?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Concur on the gloves. It does not feel right to cycle without them.

    The higher the elevation the thinner the air and in general the faster the times. There is a TT course in New Mexico at 5500 feet where most of the TT records are set. The Northern California / Nevada District TT championships are held at Sattley, CA near Truckee at 5000 feet. They have a surveyed 40k TT course.
    I would have done the Sattley TT this year, but didn't yet have my TT bike put together. Next year, I'll be there for sure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Was that the leggy women in the uhmm "majestic" shot?
    Oh...you noticed that double entendre?


    The answer is no...that young woman was a daughter of one of the TT competitors. The woman I chatted up is equally leggy and fit, but about 30 years older.
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    SSP

    Sounds like a great time. Congratulations on your placings, keep the rubber side down

    Ray
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    Congratulations on your performance! Looks like it was an amazing trip, besides.

    Paul

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    The server was busy yesterday evening - here's my report from Thursday's race:


    Today's race was a half-hour long "criterium". For those not familiar with this type of bicycle race, the Wikipedia definition of a criterium (or, "crit") is:

    "a type of bike race held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city centre streets.

    Race length can be determined by a total time or a number of laps. The event's duration (commonly one hour) is shorter than that of a traditional road race. However, the average speed and intensity are appreciably higher. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been "lapped".

    Success in criteriums requires a mix of good technical skills — in particular, the ability to corner rapidly and sharply — and riding safely with a large group on a short circuit and exceptional fitness to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners.

    Criteriums are relatively easy to organize and do not require a large amount of space. They are the most common type of bicycle racing in the continental United States."


    Although I was familiar with this style of racing, and had attended a Criterium Clinic earlier this year (thanks, Redding Velo!), I had never actually raced in one before today. Given their reputation as dangerous crash-fests, I was a bit nervous when lining up at the start with 20 other guys.

    But, I also had a plan...it was to stay focused on riders 355 and 345. For this race series, they award points based on finishing order, and there's a prize for the overall series leader (roughly equivalent to the Yellow Jersey). Rider #355 (a nationally ranked age group triathlete from Oregon) was in the overall series lead, while rider #345 and I were tied for second place. So, I determined to keep them in my sights and see what happened.

    The first few laps were a bit nervous and twitchy as the group got sorted out, and I got used to diving into tight corners in close quarters.



    After the first 4 laps, I felt like the group was going too slow, so I went to the front and picked up the pace for the next 3 laps. It gave me a good opportunity to work the group, and get a feel for how it felt to be in the lead. 355 got on my wheel then, and I noticed that every time we hit one particularly technical corner we were coming out of it with a 5-10 meter gap on the rest of the group. The corner was an odd "double corner" (a shallow corner, a half block downhill, and a regular 90 degree corner...all with pretty bumpy pavement). It was the next to last corner on the course, about 300 meters from the finish line, and I hoped I could use it to my advantage near the end of the race.

    When they announced 3 laps to go, 355 and I picked up the pace. We tried for a bit to break away from the group, but it just wasn't happening. Even though we could get a little gap on the technical corner, the group was able to close it before too long.

    With half a lap to go, 355 had the lead, with me on his wheel, as we went very fast through the next to last corner. We got a pretty good gap on the rest of the group and sprinted towards the final corner. With about 50 meters to the final corner (about 200 meters from the finish), 355 indicated that I should come around him. Not wanting to pull him to the finish, I went by him as fast as I could, took the final corner at speed, put my head down, and hammered towards the finish line. I kept looking at the ground, expecting to see the shadow of a rider overtaking me, but it didn't happen and I rolled through the finish line with about a 10 bike length lead. It was unbelievable to hear the race announcer call out my number as the winner of the race!

    Shortly afterwards, I stood on the top step of the podium to accept the gold medal.


    As it turned out, 355 got passed by 4 other riders in the last 100 meters, and ended up in 6th place. Rider 345 (who had stayed in the draft through the entire race), ended up in second place.

    So, with one race left in the series, I now find myself in the overall lead with 22 points, followed by 345 (19 points), and 355 (16 points).

    So, it all comes down to today's road race...a 62K (39 miles) jaunt through the hills and canyons north of town.



    Note: Steve Tetrick of Redding won the sprint for 2nd place in the Division 1 men's race (an awesomely fast group!). His wife, Bonnie, won the gold in the women's Division 1 race, and his father(!) Paul won the men's crit in his age group. Steve, Bonnie, and I were all wearing our Redding Velo kit today.


    I also need to mention the cool couple I met this evening outside of the event center - Bill and Jean Meyer are from DeSoto, Texas (close to where I grew up), and are competing in St. George for the 7th year in a row. Despite being stooped with age, and in their 80's, they both had sparkles in their eyes, and each wore several medals around their necks with pride. Because they compete in so many different events, they stay here for 13 days each year! And that's in addition to other regional and national competitions that they participate in. What an inspiring couple...I want to be like that when I grow up!
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  23. #23
    bobkat
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    Wow! Way to go! I love the pictures, too!
    Did you shave your legs, too? Heh!

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Congratulations.

  25. #25
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Great results. I can greatly appreciate the 40k and your time was just terrific. My biggest problem would be getting my saddle adjusted to where I could comfortably ride that far.

    Good look with the road race. Another good place to have a smart strategy........

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