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Showing posts from November, 2015

A Non-Starter.

I wasn't on the trainer.

I was on the recliner, curled up with the toddler under a soft fleece blanket on a dark, damp day, watching Piglet's Big Movie for the 500th time. The boy is way into Pooh at the moment. I alternate between Tigger and Eeore, depending on how much sleep he's allowed me to get.

Somehow I don't think the training impact will be the same. 

Sometimes events conspire and you have to take a hit for the team. It's hard to delay or skip a session in my dark, cold drainer dungeon instead of being cozy and taking the odd nap, but eventually my wife arrived home and I was free to head to the garage.

Ninety minutes or so later, and I was properly beat up. The longer steady state intervals always wipe me out, and I spiced things up with the occasional 30 second sprint just to keep my butt from falling asleep. Sitting on the trainer for that long always highlights exactly where my sit-bones are, and the fat cells around them start complaining if I don't s…

It's Looking Like Spring.

The snow that I shoveled last week is almost gone, swept away by rain and warm temperatures. That's the reality of an El Nino year in Anchorage. The resorts were able to make a lot of snow last week when temperatures were in the single digits or lower, so hopefully they'll survive this recent turn of events. I certainly hope so, because Mighty Mites is just around the corner and I don't want to shepherd my little flock of 9 year olds down a ribbon of death, dodging teenagers baked on Alaska-legal marijuana, riding snowboards Mom and Dad gave them as an early Christmas present for managing not to be expelled this semester. Yeah, I'm still not 100% fired up about the prospect, but all reports say it's gong to be better than last year. I hope so, because my nerves were about fried.

A collective whine can be heard around town from all of the fat bikers, because the trails are getting absolutely trashed. They'll have plenty of time to ride this winter, and besides th…

The Long Goodbye.

It's been relegated to the trainer for the last two years. Months of sweat crust coated it. The cables should have been replaced two seasons ago, but it still kinda shifted well. Well enough to get from a random hard gear to a random easy gear. Precision shifting isn't always a requirement on the trainer. The chain had exceeded its service life, yet had never left the garage. The brake calipers were sticking from years of neglect, although their utility in this particular application is limited. The bar tape had been on there long enough that rudimentary fossilized tools were found in the lower strata of funk that had been deposited there.

It was grungy.

The bike didn't deserve that kind of abuse.

Once it was my absolutest favoritiest thing in the world. I used to gaze at it with the sort of adoration I reserve for small puppies and babies that aren't actively crying and/or pooping. It was my first carbon frame, and the first time I had built a bike to my own specificatio…

The Greener Grass

Most of my riding is defined by solo trips to whatever hills or roads I can fit in the time I have available. As much as I try to stay consistent, it shifts a bit here or there, or doesn't happen at all. It's mainly just me, sweating or freezing or whatever, alone with my thoughts. There are occasional rides with a friend, very rare group rides, or road races to break up the solitude, but for the most part I'm on my own. This is the result of the nature of the local cycling scene, time constraints, the Anchorage road system, and my own introverted nature.

Other people's riding experience is defined by the social component of the sport. Their weeks and months are scheduled around group events, with solo rides just filling in the cracks.

Sometimes I envy them.

Riding with a group of like-minded individuals who push each other for no other reason than because it's fun... well, that's just a great way to spend a day. Every time I leave the state for a busin…

Irritable.

I was forced to skip two workouts last week for various reasons. Another was delayed significantly in the day, which is something I never like to do because it messes with my sleep schedule. All of this made me extremely irritable.

Funny, riding can make you feel incredibly great, as you ride the endorphin high and all of the negative energy is channeled into something positive. It can put your life in order like few things can.

On the flip side, you can become like a tweaker, always looking for the next fix. Extended periods of inactivity can make you twitchy, and for me my temper gets short. My anger is usually intense and extremely short-lived. I blow up and then it's over, mainly because I can't remember what I was angry about in the first place. My toddler and I share this character trait, although his staying power is much more impressive than mine. If we could channel that energy into cycling, he would be the new hour record holder.

I blow up less often and less intensely …

Growing.

This Sunday's group at the Dome was the biggest yet. For every face that doesn't show up on a given week, it seems like two more take their place. That's a great thing for the cycling community, as hopefully the management sees the benefits of having the time slot open to cyclists.

Last week the SRM power meter I got off of eBay was dropping power significantly at random points, which is never a good thing to see when you're doing TT intervals. A quick call to SRM's US office told me it had been almost exactly 3 years since it had been in for service, and the batteries probably needed to be replaced. These batteries have soldered terminals, and since I possess that archaic skill I figured I would do it myself. However, I did some searching on the internet and found that the couldn't be procured locally and the cheapest price I could find them for on the interweb with shipping was $70. To add insult to injury, they would be shipped ground because they are hazardo…

Begrudgifcated Volunteer.

The recent single-digit and lower temperatures haven't done much for my morale. While we have more snow on the ground than last year at this time (not saying much) and the resorts are making as much of the man-made type as they can pump through the guns, I'm just not feeling the winter love just yet. Maybe it was the abrupt transition from dreary and chilly to butt-ass cold that prevents me from acclimating. Maybe it's the memories of leading groups of Mighty Mites down icy and bumpy ribbons of death, watching the snowpack melt away with every trip up the chairlift. Maybe I'm just getting old.

A lot of guys in the fat bike community are all giggly about riding in -12F temperatures. They post pictures of themselves on Facebook, sporting icicle-encrusted beards like badges of honor. I think they're pushing the season a little bit, risking burnout before the trails get properly covered. Then again, what do I know? I cower in my relatively-warm garage (50F-ish is warm, …

Sense of Completion.

Thursday the Cannondale SystemSix was disassembled. Parts were removed, cleaned (somewhat), and boxed for future projects. What remained was the frameset I bought last spring at the Arctic Bike Club swap after selling my 'cross bike.

I wasn't looking for a project, but I had a wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket and it was pretty. I'm not exactly an evolved man. Besides, the Storck was nothing but frustration at the time and I was tired of beating up my race bikes on the early-season roads. I built it, rode it, raced it, wrecked it, repaired it, and loaned it out. It was never my favorite bike, but then again Cannondales have never made my lady parts tingle. As I understand it, symptoms like that should be referred to my physician, but that's beside the point. As much as I tried, as many as I've ridden, I never really warmed up to the brand. Solid, well-made bikes, for sure, but not my cup of tea.

I started bolting on the parts I removed from Pete's old bike,…

Peaking at the Wrong Time.

Last night I was going through all of the data I have collected over the past year, for no other reason than I had collected it and felt like I might want to apply some meaning to it. Usually I rely on Janice to do that for me, but I had nothing better to do at the time. That's not exactly true, because the wife had given me a long list of other things to do that she considered very important. So, I guess going through old meaningless data was the best way to avoid doing what my wife asked me to do.

What jumped out at me, knocking over my beer in the process, was that my personal bests for five, ten, and twelve second power all occurred on the same day. Those are sprint efforts, or at the very least, last gasp efforts before you're finally blown off the back of the pack. I looked at the date, and couldn't quite place the race. 

August 14, 2015.

Then it hit me, spilling my beer again. 

August 14th was a meaningless Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hybrid/beach-cruiser/e-bike/kic…

The Core.

This morning, as I have for the past couple months, I went down to the gym and knocked out a few push-ups and sit-ups. I have a weak core. Some would call it dainty. I also have a deteriorating back, which is the result of ignoring proper lifting technique when I was a young airman, my anemic core muscles, and a decade spent cultivating spectacular obesity.

I know that there are much more effective core exercises out there. Believe me, I'd much rather do them. However, my annual fitness test requires that I do push-ups and sit-ups. After being hauled away in an ambulance last year during my fitness test and finding out that I had a bulged disc in my upper back, I'm trying to avoid taking unnecessary risks. I don't want to hurt myself again. I stopped racing 'cross. I tried (with varying levels of success) to not put on additional weight. I slowly worked on core strength, specifically doing the activities I would be evaluated on. I'm not looking to blow the test out …

A Disturbance in the Force.

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Factions within the Evil Empire have caused a rift. What once served as the all-powerful monolith of South Central Alaskan cycling has been cleaved neatly in two as Sith Lords James Stull and Bill Fleming have ended their business relationship. Ripples of this development could be felt as far away as Wasilla. No official statement has been issued from the Sarah Palin camp, although more than likely she was out of town when the event occurred, judging by the dip in the number of reported sledneck brawls.

Darth Stull gets The Chain Reaction and 9:Zero:7 arms of the Empire, along with the formidable PiP/Chain Reaction army of genetic freaks. Darth Fleming retains control of the Trek Store and the Kaladi/Subway Imperial Guard, a mighty force within the local peloton, particularly in the incontinent ranks.

Nothing much will change in races. The general strategy will still be to fire all of your ammo in completely random directions until you run out, and then limp across the finish line. Kala…

Letting It Go.

I used to beat myself up when I found errors in something I wrote after it was published. While I have a loose allegiance to grammatical norms, I do get a little wound up when I leave out a word, misspell something, or use the wrong word. While the overall message may be understood, and the reader may unconsciously correct the error and never realize it was there in the first place, it still bothers me.

When I was cranking out two or even three posts a year, this wasn't such an issue. I had plenty of time to edit and revise my prose to the point that every little turd shone as brightly as Shakespeare's best. On a good day, I count myself among the best 1,000 middle-aged road cycling bloggers in the Pacific Northwest (to include the Yukon). I've got mad skills, yo.

Now that the volume has increased to a virtual torrent of inane ramblings, the number of errors has risen exponentially. Sometimes they dig at me and I go back and edit the post, even if the substance of the post d…

Fingerpainting for the Mind.

A couple years ago I took a college algebra class, after decades passing without pondering the absolute value of x. The professor referred to algebra as "gymnastics for the mind". Funny, I don't remember my elementary school tumbling experience involving migraines and patchy hair loss, but I'll be sure to cross gymnastics off my must-do list just in case.

I'm a practical guy, and if you can give me a practical and reasonable application for a formula or method, I can probably wrap my mind around it. When you require me to do math for math's sake, I start to get a little twitchy. What you do in the privacy of your own home is your business, but don't expect me to get all aroused by what x and y are doing on top of z.

I much prefer the written word. The act of conveying a message through text and having it understood is what I consider more important. There are countless people more skilled than I at this, which makes it similar to everything else I like. The…

It Might Actually Become a "Thing".

Sunday morning the number of riders showing up at 7:00AM to ride around in circles grew exponentially. By my count, we had eight riders on the track at The Dome. Then again, "maff" has never been my strong suit, so it could have been 300 for all I know. Four of those riders were new to the venue.

To me, this is a great thing, because slowly but surely we're building a group of riders that see the potential in such a venue. Talk of doing track-esque events such as Australian Pursuits bounced around the pack. Aero testing. triathlon training.... As long as we can balance our interests with those of the owners and other user groups, we can make it a long term option for winter training. I certainly prefer the reprieve from the trainer once in a while, and the time spent on my TT bike is something I don't do enough of. At the end of the day, it's really all about me.

Speaking of me, which is my favorite thing to do, I tried as hard as I could to stick to Janice's p…

Backing Away From the Edge.

One of the first things Janice did at our meeting was check my recent training history. Good practice, because she needs to know where I am before dumping a whole lot of workouts on me. Then she called me an idiot for doing so much volume and intensity during the couple months I have set aside for doing nothing. Instead of resting and generally not training, my profile shows I've been doing nothing but training. Training for what? Mainly burnout.

So, she laid out a recovery week with easy and moderate intensity sessions. None of that "sprint until you puke" stuff. Crank out a stable effort for an hour and then walk away. Sounds easy, right?

It's harder than you'd think. The puking is effective for breaking up the monotony of grinding away on a trainer. Maintaining a steady power level for a hour is mind-numbing. I constantly glance at the clock to see how long I have left before I can stop.

I know I need this. I know my intensity and recovery had meshed into "m…

The Beatings Will Continue Until You Stop Sucking.

I met with She Who Must Be Obeyed the other day at a local coffee shop. I felt a little dirty when I entered, because they sponsor half of what once was the Evil Empire. To be fair, Kaladi does a lot of good things in the community and supports a lot of worthy organizations, which almost makes up for their sponsorship of a pack of conniving scoundrels (that are a lot of fun to race with).

I showed up 15 minutes early, so Janice wouldn't see me consume 6,327 calories in pastries. That also gave me a chance to practice sucking in my gut so she wouldn't send me to fat camp. I think I sneaked that one by her.

We went over what I had been doing for the last couple months during my annual abandonment of all things structured. She looked at the numbers and said I was working to hard and was about due for a decades-long crash if I didn't slow down a tad. This is something I instinctively knew, but now that she said it there is a sense of legitimacy to the sentiment. I place little f…

Twenty.

Ever since I asked for Wanky's guidance on making myself independently wealthy through blogging about being a sub-par road cyclist, I've been trying to write five posts a week. That averaged out to about twenty a month, accounting for my usual lack of follow-through and other excuses I employ to explain a wide variety of failures. However, August's post count exceeded 2014's total, so at least it's a step in the direction of regularity. I hear being regular is important for men my age.

I'm still not rich. The money has not poured in. It has not trickled in. In fact, I have not seen one cent in compensation for the tens of minutes I spent these last few months lovingly crafting posts for public consumption. It might because that, unlike Wanky, I never implemented a method for people to subscribe to it and transfer their financial resources into my bank account. It's always the little things that I forget. Oh well, I guess my Micronesian fan-base can keep thei…

Rebuilt and Worth Something.

The other day I finished putting together Pete's old bike.

I threw on some new parts to replace some of the worn or otherwise unserviceable components, but essentially it's pretty much the bike he bought at the Elmendorf Base Exchange back in '07. It was the only road bike I had ever seen sold there. Even new, it definitely skewed towards entry level, although most of the drivetrain parts were fairly respectable. The basic configuration was solid, if heavy. Over the years, we modified stuff as wear or mood dictated, and Pete rode the piss out of it. While I changed bikes as frequently as some people change their socks, Pete kept riding the DBR. Bang for the buck, I think he got his money's worth.

When I was done, I looked it up on Bicycle Blue Book, which may not be the most accurate resource when trying to set a price. Bike values are still dictated by regional demand, and what may be a priceless classic in one place is worthless in another. However, I needed a starting…

Thunderdome.

Halloween a played designated driver for my wife and her friends, sitting in the corner eating calorie-laden snacks and watching them act less reserved than they usually do. I just sat there, shoveling Halloween-themed garbage into my mouth and enjoying the show. It was after midnight when we got home, and I was planning on riding at The Dome at 7:00AM. I pre-positioned as much as I could to limit my preparation time in the morning. Best-case scenario, assuming the child slept soundly through the night, I'd get five hours of sleep.

The alarm went off earlier than I wanted it to, but I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower. I gathered up all of the random items I had laid out the night before, cleared the light dusting of snow off of the top of the car, threw the bike on the rack, and drove to The Dome for a couple hours of riding around in circles.

I rolled up to the parking lot just as my car's clock hit 6:57AM, so I sat back and played Boom Beach on my phone to pass th…

Sprinting From an Idle State.

I recently added some responsibilities at work. They came in the form of what were euphemistically referred to as additional duties. For my predecessor, this was his only job, and he was quite gainfully employed. I have a primary job, and while I was by no means  overtaxed, I did have enough work to keep myself occupied day in and day out.

Without going into detail, basically these new responsibilities involve safeguarding resources and people and, more importantly, keeping me out of jail. There's a lot to learn, with tons of conflicting regulations to follow and multiple agencies wanting different things. My predecessor said it was two years before he felt like he had a clue, and he's much smarter than I am.

I spend my days rubbing my temples.

There I was, cruising along merrily and doing whatever it was I was supposed to do, and suddenly somebody (let's call him the boss) came out of the draft and threw in an attack that required me to throw everything I had into a mad chas…

Cramps and Bloating.

Like a large segment of the population, I suffer from cramps and bloating. Unlike most, mine are caused by my own choices.

The bloating is caused by excessive intake of what scientists rather clinically refer to as "crap". Easy enough to fix, if one has the willpower. I have brief moments of resolve, but they're always followed by pie. I do likes me some pie. With vanilla ice cream. Vast quantities.

The cramping is the result of moving. While large portions of humanity have given up the activity, I'm actually kinda fond of it. I like moving fast, and that takes effort. Sometimes that effort results in painful leg cramps. I don't like those so much.

The more I read about the subject, the less I understand. The science seems rather incomplete, and whole industries have been built on faulty studies and misinterpretations. What we knew as fact is looking shaky.

I've poured tanker loads of drink mixes specially formulated to pour over football coaches' heads. I…