Friday, February 24, 2017


Wanky's post last week got me thinking.
I've been one of those guys to yell here or there. Rarely is it intended as aggression, and rarely do I intend to raise my voice more than necessary. Unfortunately, I'm usually already expelling a lot of air, so when you add in the vocal cords it comes out loud. Add in the edge provided by adrenaline, and it probably comes across as super-aggressive/asshole-ish/bigly.
In our average mid-range field, I ride with a lot of guys who are smarter and more experienced than I am. I also ride with a lot of guys whose strength far exceeds mine, but also exceeds their experience. They'll cut corners in unsafe ways. They'll sweep across the front of the field in a sprint. They'll make any number of small errors that, while not intentional, can have very serious consequences. I should know, I do stupid shit myself, and I should know better.
In the moment, with that surge of energy impending doom can bring, I yell. It's usually short, but it's always laced with impolite language. Some of it is actually intelligible. Usually the profanity. Then, when the immediate danger has subsided, I shut up. I don't have enough air to keep ranting about what happened five seconds ago, much less five laps ago.
Usually I try to find the person and explain in a calm, reasoned manner why I yelled, just in case my message was not conveyed in an understandable way via rage and spittle. My face doesn't always convey what I'm thinking. When I was a music education major, I could be conducting the most peaceful piece of music possible and afterwards I would be asked, "why are you mad at me?" by the third chair clarinet. I just have a way with people.
I like the people I race against, except for that one guy. You know who you are. If you don't, just assume it's you to be safe. If you think you know who he is, you're probably wrong. I want everybody to stay upright and keep all of their skin. Win, lose, or pack fodder, I want everyone to have a good time. I want everyone to come back and race again. Road racing is awesome, and having lots of participants ensures the awesomeness will continue.
Race enough around me, you'll probably hear me yell. Maybe at you. Maybe at myself. It's nothing personal, unless I'm yelling at that one guy.
Another thing to work on.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Good Noise.

I'm probably going deaf(er).
My LeMond Revolution is universally renowned for being the loudest cycling trainer ever created. The harder you pedal, the louder it gets and the higher the pitch. Eventually the room sounds like the taxiway of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
There are much quieter trainers on the market, offering many advanced functions that the LeMond doesn't. Some of them are "direct-drive", which was always one the Revolution's selling points. "Road feel" on some of these approaches that of the LeMond, which I've always thought was the gold standard (instead of the "riding through mud" feel of most fluid trainers). Other companies actually answer phone calls and emails from customers. In other words, there is no good reason for me to continue to use a stationary trainer that requires the use of ear protection with a Noise Reduction Rating of 34.
And yet, I do.
In fact, this fall I doubled down and bought another, lightly-used one off of eBay. I like the LeMond. It works for me, and no other trainer I've tried provided enough of a advantage that would justify the additional expense in my mind. When something works for me, I stick with it until it doesn't anymore. I'm not there yet.
The jet engine sound from the LeMond fools me into believing I'm doing something. When it gets louder/higher, I know I'm working harder. When it gets quieter/lower, I know I'm slacking off. I don't need to stare at the Garmin for validation.
I'll know when I'm on form when I go completely deaf.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Good News.

In the spirit of my new determination to say something positive once a month, I do have something good to report.
A month ago I went into see my doctor. I hadn't been feeling good. Power was way off. Heart rate was high. I was tired all of the time. Stuff like that. You could say it's because I'm old and am still trying to deny it, and you'd probably be right. Problem was, these symptoms hit me in a relatively short period of time (a month and a half). At my advanced age, you need to pay attention to these things, especially when stuff happens relatively quickly.
The doctor ordered all sorts of blood tests, then started talking about what it could be. What smacked me in the face the hardest was when he casually mentioned hormone replacement therapy (HRT), specifically human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone. This is like USPS/SoCal Masters-level shit, and something I want no part of unless it's absolutely medically necessary (life-threatening). He rattled off all sorts of other horrible stuff that might be wrong with me, but my mind was already going into overdrive.
They took slightly less than half of my total blood volume in an array of test tubes. Some were covered with foil to prevent UV radiation from damaging the skin of the tiny vampires that resided within. That's my guess. At any rate, it was a lot of blood, and my weigh-in that day was pretty good.
The first thing I did when I got home was to consult the most reliable source of information on the planet for diagnosing complex physiological problems- Google. For some reason, this only made me absolutely terrified that I was going to die within the next few days, or at least join the not-so-exclusive club of old amateur bike racer dopers.
I've read enough doping literature over the years to know enough about HRT to be less than thrilled about the prospect. I've known enough people with thyroid problems and how it completely hosed their lives for quite a while until they got the levels balanced. Cancers? Don't get me started there. The more I read, the more I was convinced I was going to diagnosed with one of each. Not a great mindset to be, especially when you're trying to train for super-important non-sanctioned crits.
Fortunately, I had the cold and flu to take my mind off of all of this crap while I was waiting for my follow-up appointment to find out what the lab results said. Nothing like getting sick when you're already feeling off your game.
When the next appointment rolled around, I braced myself for the worst. I hadn't talked with my wife much about it, other than I was talking to the doctor. No need to worry her with all of the useful information I found on the internet. All of the downward trends had continued since the first appointment. Strange, you'd think additional mental strain and biological infection would lead to peak performance, but apparently that's not the case.
The doctor said I was in really good shape. Hormone levels at or above average levels for a guy my age (despite having just finished a hard training week at the time of the blood draw). Good cholesterol well above excellent range, bad cholesterol well below. That was weird, given my diet. Every marker that was tested indicated excellent health and extremely low risk for heart disease and stroke. Chances are, I'm going to live right up to the point I don't. The only thing wrong with this outcome is that the VA is going to point to this baseline when I retire if I try to make any sort of claim based on decades of asbestos exposure and all of those years of playing with toxic chemicals. It doesn't tell me what's wrong with me, but at least it told me what wasn't. 
His best guess? Stress.
I've been giving this empathy thing a try lately because I understand it's all the rage with the kids, and apparently it's overtaxing my system. I might just have to give less of a shit (if that's even possible). I am extremely happy this will require no prescribed medication at this time, especially those that are found in Spanish beef and vanishing twins. All I have to do is say, "fuck that shit" and my symptoms could possibly resolve themselves on their own.
I am 100% behind this course of treatment.
So, I just want all of my competition to know that my sub-par performances this year will be achieved completely free and clear of any performance enhancing drugs that aren't present in gas station hot dogs. That isn't to say I won't be drugged, because nobody really knows what's in those things, but any affect on my performance will likely be negative. 
That's a load off my mind.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gotta Work On That.

I was scrolling through the titles of previous blog entries, and I noticed that on the surface they were overwhelmingly negative in nature.
In one sense, this is odd. Cycling is just an overwhelmingly positive pursuit in so many ways. For me, it's provided an escape from stress, stripped a non-inconsequential amount of fat off of my carcass, and gave me an outlet for my sociopathic tendencies that didn't revolve around someone getting the hose again if it didn't rub the lotion on its skin. These are generally good things, especially when I'm in the market for a new skin suit. 
Still, it makes sense because at heart I'm a negative bastard.
I'll own that, but it's probably something I should work on. Even when the post is about something positive in nature, my inclination is to caption it with something negative. Usually that just reflects my dark, sarcastic sense of humor rather than a negative view of the subject matter. My usual take is, "these things are good, but they could be better if they didn't suck so much." See? I'm all hearts, rainbows, unicorns, and flowers.
I'll just have to make a real effort in the future. I'll try to put a nice, pretty bow on the giant pile of excrement that is this blog. Maybe sprinkle some glitter over it if I have time, so the turd contours are more sharply defined in the light.
I'm willing to go that extra mile for my favorite French porn bots.

Monday, February 20, 2017

I'll Get Around To It Eventually.

I'm a bad procrastinator. 
Right now I have a whole lot of bike building projects, representing thousands of dollars of my children's future earnings, sitting in piles in the garage waiting to be bolted on a bike. Some of them are small refinements that would be relatively easy to complete. Some of them are more involved undertakings that would require several hours to complete.
As they are mostly additions or modifications to an existing bike, they do not exist in a vacuum. Once I start turning the wrench, I have to deal with all of the other issues on that particular bike. Cables, bar tape, brake pads, bottom brackets, chains... all of these little tasks add up to at least a couple hours of dedicated effort.
Problem is, finding that uninterrupted time to turn wrenches can be difficult. Don't get me wrong, I waste a lot of time during the day. I'm doing it right now. I take naps, lay around on the couch, watch mindless TV, and play more Boom Beach on my iPhone than I should. I surf the internet, looking for new things to spend money on that I won't have the time to use. My (somewhat plausible) justification for this that I need to decompress from the meaningful with the pointless to find some sort of balance in my life. If there's a few fistfuls of Goldfish mixed in there, so much the better.
But I really need to make an effort to find time for projects. I always feel better when I do, like I made good use of my time. I feel a sense of accomplishment that no Costco tub of fish-shaped crackers can provide. There's also the added bonus that my bikes work better and don't groan, squeak, and project the Ebola virus in a 10 foot radius. Yeah, I need to make an effort.
Right after my nap.    

Friday, February 17, 2017

How Do I Know?

It's like extra-sensory perception, granted only to those who have truly devoted their lives to the art. This zen-like state took years to develop, allowing me to truly see things as they really are. Mere mortals are sometimes taken aback at my powers, but that's my cross to bear. With great power comes great responsibility.
How else would I know when the trainer towel has gone a few too many weeks between washing? I mean, there are the deep fjords the salt glaciers embedded in it carve across my forehead as I attempt to sop up the sweat. This is no ordinary sweat, as it is comprised of decades of bad choices, shame, and expensive electrolyte drinks. It would likely eat through the Storck's aluminum frame upon contact, but for my sopping skills with an overpriced camp towel from REI. I bought it during the Tour of Fairbanks a couple years back, when I realized I had forgotten one. I realized no big-box store towel was going to cut the mustard. I needed something excessively expensive, and that meant a trip to their new REI. To be fair, it does hold a lot of sweat, which makes it that much easier to forget that all of those bad choices/shame/liquid pork fat has to go somewhere. When this towel is funky, it could school Bootsy Collins. Luckily, my superpowers allow me to detect this state, and I drop it in a lead-lined box for a trip to the washing machine and the vaporize cycle.
As I donned my bio-hazard suit to transport the towel, I sensed something else wasn't quite right in the world. Actually, I tripped over the snot rag overflow from the trashcan. Maybe the pile reached out and grabbed my leg. Can't be 100% sure with the biologicals festering in there. In addition to generating a lot of sweat on the trainer, I also generate a lot of mucus. I don't have to have a cold. It doesn't even have to be cold. My nose just runs when my legs turn. Snot rockets are an effective tactical weapon when you want to create space for yourself in a pack, but somehow that doesn't translate to the stationary world. This means tissues, and a lot of them. Sometimes I'm sweating and snotting so much I can't tell the difference between them, not that I really care at the time. AT any rate, I'm going to see if I can stomp down the pile a bit so I can fit more in the can. Beats emptying it, because all of my energy is dedicated to generating big, meaningless numbers. You have to manage your resources when you're a talent-less bike-racer wannabe.
It's a good thing I'm blessed with these superpowers, or I'd have to waste even more energy paying attention.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Sound of Failure.

I work in a small cubicle farm with a bunch of other middle-management types, doing the administrivia that keeps the lights on, prevents the building from falling down, and keeps all of the special little snowflakes more or less in line with a million different (and often conflicting) regulations. If we do our jobs and deal with the mundane, the people above us with actual functioning brains can think their big thoughts and devise new things for us to figure out how to implement. 
The cubicle walls are too high to see over, so they provide the illusion of an office without the actual privacy of one. We all know what the guy on the other side of the wall is doing.
When I open the wrapper of a 1.76oz belVita Cinnamon Brown Sugar 230 calorie breakfast biscuit package, the guy in the next cubicle pipes up with, "is that the sound of failure I hear?" To be fair, I couldn't tell the sonic difference between opening a .76oz belVita Cinnamon Brown Sugar 230 calorie breakfast biscuit package and a 20oz Family Size, 2800 calorie bag of Doritos Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips, although the actual level of failure is quite different.
I'm fairly sure that there are healthier options than a 1.76oz belVita Cinnamon Brown Sugar 230 calorie breakfast biscuit pack, but they delay my grabbing a 20oz Family Size, 2800 calorie bag of Doritos Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips a little while. They worked for me in Mississippi, so I've stuck with them as a quick source of food-esque matter that will get me through the work day. Then it's off to the gas station for nutritious roller-cooked hotdogs on the way home.
I could be eating kale chips. I could be eating raw broccoli and similar shrubbery-based food. But no, that would be too much of a stretch. Baby steps.
My degree of failure can only vary so much.