Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Training Work Week

I decided to write this training blog to detail the seriousness of my training work-week. My training is in response to an up and coming race in Moab, UT. I am racing solo in the 24-Hours of Moab. This means I have to prepare myself for seriously long riding. Like I mentioned in a previous blog, I am preparing my mind and my bones. Literally, I am preparing my skeletal matrix for the jarring Moab course. Please note that I did not include the weekend riding, which added another six hours of training.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sunday’s training performance was poor. 2.5 hours of training just wasn’t enough. Today, I’ll put more effort toward different terrain. Fueling needs to be important. My breakfast consisted of sprouted grains and toast with honey-butter (Southern thing). The weather looks as if it will cooperate today. There are no storm systems building from the North or West. I’ll go in to the La Plata’s today. My first ride will be a road ride. Hesperus/Breen loop will do nicely. I’ll tempo the HWY 160 hill climb. But what’s the * new * thing I need to do; the different terrain? I know. The Notch ride up La Plata canyon will work. 4,000 feet of climbing should ruin my legs. That’s the plan. A 36-mile road ride and a 2-hour mountain bike ride.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

As planned my riding on Monday tore me apart. The Notch ride is very difficult. One might call it a slog or a mental-physical pain in the ass. I’m sore, but I have to play racquetball with Marc Katz. What a game! I am getting lactic acid build up from walking up the stairs, so today might be rest day. At 3:30 P.M., I officially call it a rest day, but what to do now. The answer is very scientific. Resting is the most critical part of training. I’m not just talking about sleep. I’m talking about active resting. Massage, stretching and flushing are all very important. I began my resting phase by pulling out the Emu oil and massage lotion. You guessed it; time for self massage. My next objective was stretching. Typically, I’m warmed up from my self massage, so I feel comfortable stretching my muscles. I’m not the most consistent stretcher, but I do believe it helps. Finally, I go for a very, very, very light spin on my trainer. As you can see rest days, aren’t what they used to be!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

An off day does more than rest the muscles. It refreshes the mind. In fact, many coaches stress central nervous system health. I feel better. I drank some wine. Running offers something powerful to the mind. A long slow run can relax the primary organ. Today, I decide to go in to the Horse Gulch trail system with only a pair of running shoes. My run is quick and lasts an hour, but the speed workout was fun. At 11:00 A.M, I ride with Matt Shriver of 3D Racing. Our ride lasts an hour and a half. It was a recovery ride. Now, the good stuff – Mountain Biking Time! I take off in to Horse Gulch, once more. This time, I must get serious. I do three hill repeats up Telegraph (begin in the Meadow - up Telegraph trail - down Anasazi AND repeat). Following the insanity of those repeats, I move down Crites Connect and South Rim and then out of the trail system via Carbon Junction). My total time was about an hour, and some. I feel good…

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thursday was all about the road ride! One might think that mountain bike racers only pursue the mountains; this is not the case. Road cycling is one of the most critical training components. To start, the pedaling action is steady – meaning there are no gaps in the force exerted by the cyclist. Furthermore, the normal wear and tear associated with mountain biking is not present. I took off for a 70-mile ride. My goal was to thoroughly wear myself down, as I have another light day scheduled for Friday.

Friday, September 23, 2005

LIGHT DAY! Finally! I get to take it slow and low! My only objective is to save enough energy for Saturday. Thus, I get on the trainer, pop in a movie and ride for two-hours. What’s next? I go right in to stretching and a little light lifting. Back to the movies, when I'm finished…

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Professional

I did it and it wasn't even that difficult! I'm talking about upgrading to Semi-Pro. The United States Cycling Federation (USCF) has five levels of competition. Designated by NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association), the categories are Beginner, Sport, Expert, Semi-Pro and Pro. I have been racing officially in the Expert category. My upgrade today was due to this year’s results, which I posted in a resume. I sent my resume to the USCF regional rep. He looked over my results and current national ranking. Following a quick review, he upgraded me to Semi-Pro, instantly. As of today, I am a Semi-Pro rider. With this new classification, I will be able to accept cash awards. It also means that I will be racing in a tougher group – yikes.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Gray Head and Cutting the Cheese

What do Oprah, JP Morgan and Tom Cruise all have in common? The answer is they all have property in or near the Gray Head development in Telluride, Colorado. Please let me tell you it is amazing. For those of you not familiar with the Gray Head development, it is across the valley and above the airport. You can see the homes as you descend the hill from Mountain Village. The view is spectacular. Mt. Wilson, El Diente, Sunshine, Lizard Head and Wilson peak are dramatically exposed. Just to the North is the Mount Sneffels wilderness area. It is also mountain biking heaven. I experienced all of this on Saturday the 17th of September during the Gray Head Gold Rush Mountain Biking Race.

Christina, my trusty manager and I woke at 5:00 A.M. to reach the race venue. We had to allow time for a proper warm up, which is critical, as any racer will tell you. After two and a half hours of driving we reached the staging area where the coffee, fruit, power bars and racers gathered. This was to be my first attempt at the Gray Head Gold Rush Mountain Bike Race. I asked one of the course marshals to describe the riding. He smiled and said the pro/expert racers – me – must ride three 7-mile laps that involve 1400 feet of climbing – oh boy. For those of you wondering, I was a little shocked after receiving this information. I looked at Christina and felt very nervous. We walked back to the truck. I knew it was Zen meditation time. I gathered myself, put my jersey on and filled my stomach with so much sugar I almost puked. My next objective was to spin my legs to warm them up.

The race director called us to attention at 8:55 A.M. to describe the rules and regulations of the race. Once he finished, the official timer set his watch and shouted “GO”. We were off. The pack of riders was tight during the initial climb. I decided that I would ride the first lap aggressively, even though I had no idea what lay ahead of me. I pulled in to third place following the steep Forest Service road climb. The single track section contained our next obstacles. The trail was steep, rocky and full of switch backs. My legs began to burn. Usually, because of the lactic acid build up, I would be very worried at this point – would I make it? I decided to forgo the concern and ride as hard as I could. My timing was impeccable. I could see the downhill section – phew.
Talk about fun! The downhill was fast and furious. Furthermore, it lasted for quite a long time – 1400 feet of climbing HA! I banked and sprinted hard to gain distance on fourth place. As I approached the end of the downhill, my sense of fun faded. In front of me was a wall; a huge climb. At this point, I felt nervous again – calm down Thompson. I lowered my head, switched in to my lower gears and took the hill with passion – I want to win.

Now, here is the interesting part. I only carried one water bottle. You might think that this was a bad idea. However, I had a plan. And, my plan was simple. At the beginning of the second lap, Christina was to hand me a water bottle filled with my special sports juice mix. The rush of electrolytes would fill me until the final lap, where she would hand me another water bottle – makes sense, right?

I finished the nasty climb and pulled on to the road where the racers lapped. I was tired, but determined. I saw Christina. I yelled her name. I yelled again. However, Christina’s head was down. I yelled her name louder. I started to pass her. I screamed her name. All I heard back was “GO PUMPKIN.” There was no water bottle in my hand. I was at a loss – what the hell just happened? I looked at my water bottle. It was very low on fluid – nervousness, again. I pressed on…

Each lap was progressively harder than the last. However, I still felt a sense of calm. I felt fluid on my bike. Many athletes have described the “zone” – dehydration might do that. As I passed the finished line, I heard the race director say that I placed 2nd in my class! I was so excited. I pulled back to the starting line and gave Christina a big kiss then asked her what went wrong during the water bottle thing. She said she was busy cutting the cheese – WHAT? She decided to volunteer with the apr├Ęs race snacks, which included cheese and bread. What a race!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What do you do on an off day?

The best coaching advice I've ever received comes from my Grandmother. I described my training regimen to her; she slapped me on the shoulder and said, "take a day off!" She was a champion ski racer, so I took her advice. However, like many of you, a day off must be filled with something to do. What is that thing? I drink wine. Nothing expensive goes through this palate (unless someone pays for it). My choices begin on the $6 - 20 shelf. If my off day happens to be after a race, then I religiously reach for the magnum size. My purchasing consideration does not seem to be outside the norm. According to the book Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Casella Wines (Yellow Tail) became a very successful distributor to my economic profile group. Thus, I feel satisfied drinking one, maybe two bottles during those special times. Wine is a conversation dispenser. It makes those times with the people closest to you much more truthful and interesting. If one is constantly training, then conversation might be what the doctored ordered. I suggest a glass beginning at 7:00; something right before dinner. Sit down with your significant other and pour them a tall one. Remember, they are not training, you are not training and if they haven’t had their vitamin E for the day then their opportunity is now. Your next objective is to pull them away from what they are doing, cross your legs and question them about their day. Once they take a drink, pour more wine. If they don’t drink fast enough, encourage them. You goal is to get them to enjoy your off day as much as you will...

These times away from training are very interesting. It allows me some introspection: what am I doing right? How can I improve my racing performance? Where are my weaknesses? In short, this time is critical to relax the mind and central nervous system. As important as this is for racers it is also important for everyone used to putting everything in to a goal. If your job demands the utmost attention and achievement then a day to retool is critical. What do you do to keep the pressure down?

Monday, September 12, 2005

16th Annual Banana Belt Bicycle Weekend

This entry does not have as much to do with the 16th annual Banana Belt mountain bike race, as it does the town of Salida. I arrived on Saturday the 11th of September on a clear Salida afternoon. I drove to Otero Cyclery with questions about camping, local riding and eats on my mind. I can't say enough about the helpfulness I received at Otero. They gave me local camping information, which happened to be in the heart of the mountain biking areas and information about the race course. I felt like a special visitor. I ended up participating in their year-end sale with a purchase of some sweet Trek baggies. Off of CR 200, which is about 150 yards from the trail head to rainbow trail off of HWY 50, was the entrance to my FREE camping area. The dirt road is smooth and easy to travel. The view is amazing. Below the road is a small stream that curves through the valley. I was surrounded by peaks. I parked my car. The cycling jitters were impossible to contain. I took a ride to Marshall Pass. A slow, gentle ride was about all the pre-race exercise I could tolerate. The area is so beautiful. Following my ride, I made dinner and looked up at the stars.


I woke to a very chilling and frosty sleeping bag. The Colorado winter is definitely on the way. A small fire, breakfast and some journaling filled my morning in the mountains. The race was to begin in downtown Salida. I wanted to get a good look at the competition. The 15 minute drive to Salida seemed very quick. I was a little worried about the course, because I did not pre-ride. I was totally unprepared for what lay ahead. The race started promptly at 10. The mass start was a little precarious as there were signs and planters in the middle of the street that I was not totally aware of because of the crowd of racers around me. Our police escort left us to enter the trail. The push was powerful. A couple of the lead riders and I took the pack forward (why do I do that?). I proceeded to almost burn my legs out during the first five miles. Our raging speed took us to the beginning of one of the most difficult climbs I’ve ever experienced. For an hour we struggled up a National Forest road. The top seemed to be getting farther away. Finally, at the top of Bear Creek, we descended on to some of the best single track in Colorado. However, there was still some additional climbing to deal with and I had barely any legs for it. The trail opened up to another forest road and descended sharply. The race course took on a very interesting change. We seemed to go from alpine forest to desert. The next thing I realized I was riding in sand. The race had a very strong sprint finish. Unfortunately, I was unable to maintain my sprint and ended up placing 3rd. Overall, the race was wonderful. Furthermore, the town of Salida is a must visit. I plan to make this race part of my race season every year!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

24 Hours of Moab *SOLO*

I promised myself I would never do this again…Here I go again!

Last year I raced in the 24 Hours of Moab with a 101 degree temperature. My body ached. After each lap, I had to release the gooey discharge that comes from nasty colds. I coughed, wheezed, asked for sympathy, almost cried and actually slept for part of the race. What’s more, I participated in the 24 Hour of Old Pueblo in 2004 and experienced the same thing. One might say that I have bad luck with 24-hour racing. This year is different. I’ve surrounded my house with garlic and haven’t changed my underwear in two months. Well, not really, but you might say that I’m a little paranoid.

Training for a 24-hour race is unlike anything else. It is a mental challenge, as much as it is a physical one. One has to be prepared for 16 mile laps on very technical terrain. Riding at night is also difficult. You have to be prepared to crash. Finally – if you a trying to win – your mental drive can never weaken. This year, sickness is not an option!

I woke up last night thinking about the strain I experienced last year. What’s funny is that the 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. time frame is the hardest part. The body and mind seem to require sleep. In order to counter this block, I have risen every day between 4:00 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Furthermore, I have worked on my meditation. I figure that quieting my mind will be essential during those difficult hours. My current racing schedule keeps me fit, so I’m not worried about the endurance portion. Again, it’s all about the mind…

The race is on the 15th of October. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


My name is Walker Thompson and I would like to introduce you to Chain Ring Action. As you might have read (above: blue), this site is all about stories and information. I feel strongly about Mountain Biking and the coverage Southwest Colorado receives. The Southwest is God's country. However, not too many travelers are aware of the beautiful trails and people they can experience while visiting this area. What's more, I also want to use this site to draw attention to my professional racing pursuits. I have been recently offered two very special sponsorships. Mercury Payment Systems and Iron Horse Bikes have generously provided me with racing compensation and equipment. Please visit their websites at http://www.mercurypay.com/ and www.ironhorsebikes.com. Let's begin...

Full Tilt Telluride

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