Friday, December 9, 2016

All Apologies.

I take great pride in being a colossal douchebag.
 
Wait, perhaps that's overstating it a bit. Rather, I have come to recognize my innate douchebagousity, openly acknowledged it (embraced it even), and have tried to use this new self-awareness to achieve the highest of purposes: winning bike races nobody cares about.
 
Such power does not come without a price, though.
 
I can be a complete dick, even when I'm not trying to be one. Don't get me wrong, 99% of the time I completely relish the opportunity to be an insensitive, hyper-direct, sarcastic asshole. That's just me being me.
 
However, there are times where I'm completely focused on something (like the aforementioned races nobody cares about), and I unintentionally blow off somebody who has the audacity to say something like, I don't know, "hello". Dirty bastards are trying to throw me off my game.
 
These are usually people that I genuinely like, and I apologize for being a dick in these situations. I don't have much processing power between the ears, certainly not enough for multitasking, so when I'm focused on something I generally glitch when another task is added. I don't acknowledge greetings or engage in banter. I grunt. I brush by, and I regret it later. I truly am sorry about that. It wasn't intentional, it was just my sole superpower manifesting itself.
 
I remember when I was a new guy in the local cycling community, recognized a face, initiated some sort of dialog, and was shut down. Now I see that the middle of their intense time trial warmup interval is probably not the best time to engage in idle banter. Likewise, immediately after the race, when they're liberally coated with sweat and snot (with a liberal sprinkling of road grime for highlights), cross-eyed from the final push to the line, and struggling to pump as much air back into their bodies as possible is also probably not a great time to chat. Their lack of chattiness isn't necessarily about you. In my case it may be about me, because I'm a dick. Giving people a little space on either end of a race is probably a good practice, other than a brief word of praise/consolation that can be effectively answered with a guttural sound.
 
I will make an effort in the future, because making new racers feel welcomed into the community increases the chances that one day they will be old racers. As long as they are slower than me, I'll do everything I can to keep them around.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fading.

They weren't ever than crisp, defined, or otherwise impressive, but they're leaving me. The inexorable flood of pastiness cannot be denied. My tan lines are doomed.
  
For a guy who can trace his lineage to some of the palest regions on earth, it passed for a tan. Maybe it was just freckles and early-onset skin cancer blotches holding hands, but at least it wasn't translucent. The lumps of cellulite I try to pass off as muscle looked more defined when sufficiently baked. Not a majestic bronze like George Hamilton or an otherworldly orange like The Donald, it was the best I could pull off after a couple hundred hours under the Mississippi sun.
  
Doesn't matter, because it's all fading away. Tans aren't something that you see a lot of this time of year around here, unless it's on someone returning from Maui. They're the exception rather than the rule. On a pasty-ass guy like me, they're freakishly rare.
  
Like the loss of temporary pigmentation, my form is also fleeing. It was also not natural for me, and I've been slowly regressing to my usual razor-sharp "meh". Peaks only last so long, even horribly timed ones like this. The steady progression of fitness I crafted through months of poorly-planned and executed flatland grinds is quickly crashing down around my ears.
  
Like most things, with the possible exception of plastic grocery bags, all of this has a finite lifespan. Maybe it will come back, leading to better things. Maybe it won't, and I'll turn into a miserable drunk, blubbering about all of the potential I once showed.
  
Hopefully they'll let me keep the tan lines.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Coaches Cluster.

Every year, just before the season starts, the Mighty Mite coaches gather at head coach Lumpy's house for a long night of pizza and beer. It's advertised as a meeting, and as such has an agenda and paperwork and all the trappings of a purposeful gathering. However, thanks to the characters involved, the years we've known each other, and the beer, things tend to veer off course in the early stages and only deviate more as we go. Hey, if a dynamic works...
 
Creating a sense of unity and direction before the season starts is more important than any agenda item, especially for the new coaches. It can be intimidating joining that group, given the skiing pedigrees gathered around the stacks of pizza boxes and beer pitchers. It's important to let everyone know that, at it's core, the organization is less about creating the next World Cup phenom than about creating strong, life-long skiers, positive memories, and friendships. We can teach you to ski fast, and a lot of the kids do just that, but it's also about having fun on the mountain doing something active while building skills that will last a lifetime.
 
Building that environment apparently involves fart jokes and sexual innuendo. To be honest, no matter what these people have achieved in their professional lives (and as a whole it's a pretty accomplished bunch), when we're on the hill we revert to big kids. Skiing is fun, and the mountain is recess. We take certain things, like safety, very seriously, but modeling effective ways to have fun on snow is a key priority.
 
That, and beer.
 
The night of the coaches meeting it started snowing. I take this as a good sign. After a few years of substandard conditions, I'd really like a return to the old normal. I'd really rather not throw my back out again, like I do every year, trying to watch all of the kids as we navigate down a ribbon of death. More snow means more room to spread out, creating space between us and that new snowboarder with more guts than skill. More room to evaluate the group's strengths and weaknesses. More room to get to the fun.
  
At my core, I'm no different than any other Mighty Mite coach. I like me some fun.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Updating...

I wasn't surprised at all. After months of sitting powered off, my trainer dungeon computer needed to do a little updating. I figured I'd grind out a 15 minute tempo interval while I waited, then jump on Zwift and get on with the workout.
  
An hour later, it was 35% done.
  
I did all of my workout to a blue screen and an update circle. 1% done. Sweat seat sweat. 2% done. Sweat sweat sweat... I can think of more visually inspiring things to watch while going nowhere. Unfortunately, I had disconnected my DVD player in my troubleshooting efforts and never reconnected it. The blue screen and circle were my only available entertainment.
  
Although I had planned to do 90 minutes, an hour was where I cut it short. I left the computer to do its thing, went out to lunch with my wife, and returned when it was all complete to do another hour. This time I actually got on Zwift, which was nice.
  
My numbers aren't anywhere near where they usually are on the trainer. It's going to take some time to adjust and rebuild. Time is something I have.
  
My new Revolution is tighter than my old Revolution. The bearings and bushings aren't quite as broken in, requiring more effort to get the same indicated speed. The sound of the trainer is different as well, probably for various reasons. Just a couple more things to get used to.
  
My dungeon computer is currently connected to the interwebs via Wi-Fi. Problem is, just about everyone in my house (including the 2yr old) uses the same Wi-Fi network. I have to tell them not to stream video while I'm on the trainer so Zwift doesn't crash or act strangely. This is going to change soon. I'm getting a network switch so I can hardwire the computer to the cable router and prioritize traffic to it. Hopefully that will fix the problem. I'm also going to turn on MAC Address filtering on the Wi-Fi network just in case anyone cracked the passwords and are bleeding my interwebs. I've been needing to clean up the home network and add some functionality for some time, but have been too lazy to do it. Now is as good a time as any.
  
The early trainer season is usually when I make my updates, before I get too settled into my routine and still have the motivation. It won't be there in a month. Doing it now will allow me to incorporate the changes and deal with any glitches before the serious work begins. Now is just about fitness maintenance for me.
  
I just hope there aren't any more three-hour Microsoft updates in the near future.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Best Advice I Never Followed.

In response to Friday's post, Stuart Lynne posted this comment:
Follow the one true Zwift Racing Training Plan. It is as easy is checking the Event Module for when the next race starts, join the event, warm up, then race. Cool down optional but recommended. Repeat 4-5 days a week. You will get stronger.

   _______________________________________________________________________
I'm at least 40% certain that Stuart is not a French porn-bot or living in a Micronesian hut, so as such this puts him in the same category as unicorns and non-controversial Trump cabinet picks. That is to say, he's a rarity- an actual, no-kidding, bike-racing blog reader. I mean, bike racers are scarce. Ones that can read, almost unheard of. Ones that read blogs, a communication form as dead as Samaritan Aramaic? I can think of no better practical example of the infinite possibilities within the universe.
 
Taking this into consideration, his comments must be treated with a certain dignity which is a considerable stretch for this blog.
 
However, his comments indicate he vastly overestimates my engine and capacity for recovery. I've watched the training races and group rides whiz by on Zwift. I've jumped in on rare occasions when my schedule aligned. Four or five times a week? Even if I could find a way to make it happen time-wise, I would be burnt out after a week and a half.  I have trouble recovering during a four-day stage race.
 
It probably would make me stronger, and then it would break me. Then I would get sick. Then I would flail around for weeks at a time trying to get back to where I started. Then I would get sick again. By the time road season came around, I would barely be able to turn over the pedals. You know, kinda like last season.
 
Nope, this year I'm playing it safe and doing the structure thing. Macro and micro cycles. A slow build towards the race season instead of a dramatic crash right before it starts. I'm not sure if my body will still respond the same way that it used to, but I need to give it an honest shot. Hammering until failure then rinsing and repeating doesn't seem to work for me like it does for some people.
 
Maybe it's because I'm so dainty.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Training Plans.

Ever since I got on Zwift, I've had trouble sticking to a training plan. Actually, I shouldn't blame Zwift, because it probably goes back to the car wreck. I just don't seem to have the drive to follow a structured training plan like I used to.
  
I stopped training with Janice because I was getting burned out and felt horrible for ignoring her training guidance. I'd ride way too hard, blow up or get sick, recover partially, then start all over again. By the time the road season rolled around, I didn't have the interest in training, so I gave up trying. 
  
I rode hard when I felt like it, and pretty much goofed off the rest of the time. I managed to work myself into somewhat decent shape by late June, before breaking my collarbone and ending my race season. I tried working with another coach, but it was plainly obvious to me that what I really needed was to ride a bunch and forget about structure for a while. Biloxi certainly accomplished that.
  
Now that I'm back on the trainer, I think I'm going to try creating my own training plans for a change. Nothing too fancy, but something to rebuilt my FTP and peak power. All of those long, slow miles in Biloxi will serve as base for more intensity this winter.
  
We'll see if I stick to the program.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Anchored.

One result of my flooring project in the trainer dungeon is that I move around a lot. By a lot, I mean literally moving feet during a sprint. I tried rubber mats of various types and other methods to keep the trainer from moving, but the new floor is too slick.
  
The old Pergo was pretty slick too, but I drilled a hole one of the feet could fit into and that took care of the issue. The Pergo was a lot thicker than the new vinyl, so that solution was no longer valid.

While the wife and I were waiting for stuff in the laundrymat (we had a lot of blankets to clean), we stopped by the local hardware store. While she looked at the Christmas stuff, I wandered the aisles looking at all of the cool stuff. That's when I came across the solution- a 2" galvanized pipe flange. It was the perfect diameter for the trainer's feet. The only problem was that I would have to drill a couple holes in the concrete floor to bolt it down. Oh well...
  
A couple hours and a lot of mess later, the trainer didn't slide anymore. After goofing off all day (other than a 90 minute ride on the trainer), it was good to feel like I accomplished something. Little by little, the dungeon is coming together, so that I can get down to the business of sweating while going nowhere.