Posts

Showing posts from December, 2015

Greatest Weakness.

They ask the same question at just about every job interview or promotion board:

What is your greatest weakness?
My usual approach is to name some general flaw and then list the various strategies I've used over the years to mitigate the issue and turn the weakness into a strength. It's usually just corporate jargon that means nothing, but it allows me to seamlessly transition into how I dynamically enhance tiger team throughputs to synergistically bolster cross-organizational core competencies, while maximizing key metric impacts and leveraging end-game deliverables applied in the vertical domain.

My career advancement has stagnated for some reason.

My go-to flaw is always multi-tasking. My theoretical solution always involves advanced time management techniques, cutting tasks down to manageable chunks and then prioritizing each phase of the process to meet current mission requirements. The reality is that I wait until the last minute, ingest a large quantity of caffeine and suga…

Anchorage Went Dark.

A Chinook Wind rolled through Anchorage the other night, melting most of the snow on the ground and leaving behind dirty ice and darkness. During our dark winters, all of the snow reflects the light natural and man-made sources, making it brighter. Wipe that away and you're left with a dark, depressing scene. Driving becomes interesting, because the lines on the street that aren't covered have been scraped away by snow plows. Lanes are often guesstimates.

Fat bikers and skiers stare out their windows drinking coffee and thinking dark thoughts. All of us that actually enjoy the winter are slipping into a deep funk. We thought we lived in Alaska.

After the last couple winters, I'm not surprised. We usually get a couple Chinooks that blow through in December and January, but the snow pack is usually thick enough to survive. This year I expect this won't be the last warming trend, and it probably won't be the worst.

I'm hoping we'll get at least some snow to cover…

Another Couple of Kicks to the Lady Parts.

Saturday night I rebuilt the time trial bike for the second time this winter. This time it was to install different TT bars that allow me to have a lower position while on the bullhorns while retaining my current position on the aerobars. They also look way cooler. Kind of a Star Wars X-Wing vibe. Had nothing to do with the movie. I just got tired of kicking this particular pair around the garage and finally installed them. It certainly makes the TT bike look lower and more purposeful, even if my default position hasn't changed.

Sunday I woke up at 6:00AM and got ready for another session at the Dome. The bike was loaded up on the car and I was early for a change (and it wasn't even daylight savings time). I noticed there weren't any cars in the parking lot.

Crap. Somebody changed the clocks again without telling me.

Then one car pulled up. Then another. Then a couple with bike racks. Now we were getting somewhere. Still, nobody appeared to open the doors. Eventually somebod…

That Guy.

The other day I got on the trainer and booted up Zwift. I wasn't paying attention and ended up in the middle of one of the Zwift Training Races (ZTR). These are regular events divided into A, B, C, and D groups by average watts per kilogram.

The theory is that if you can stay within those ranges, you should be able to hang with the group. Sure, there will be surges and lulls, but the average should fit into those ranges.

The reality is that averaging 2 w/kg above the advertised ranges gets you dropped at the start line. Thanks to sandbaggers, virtual dopers, and what I can only assume are genetic outliers, even the slower races have more than a few USAC Cat 1 racers gasping for air and struggling to finish.

However, despite missing the start by a little bit, not having the nomenclature on my profile as directed, and riding a TT bike in a group ride (I was that guy), I jumped into the ZTR-D pack for the first lap. I figured the odds of me taking out another rider with my sketchy aer…

Holiday Message.

Recognizing that not everyone shares my own particular brand of faith, I present my own non-denominational holiday message:

Try not to be an asshole today.
I'll try to do the same, but I make no promises.

Turn off the digital world. Go outside and do something active and analog. Reflect on how awesome and miraculous everything is around you. Go to the middle of the woods and just listen. Flash someone a random smile. Eat something good. Eat something bad. Hold a door open for someone. Take a nap. Thank someone for something. Interact. Disconnect.

But most of all-


Try not to be an asshole today.

Sometimes the Stars Align.

After Sunday's session at the Dome, I rushed home to shower and get the daughter ready for Mighty Mites. Usually this involves frantically running around finding stuff she left strewn around the house the previous week. My stuff? With the exception of my ski boots (which get very, very stiff when cold-soaked for a week), I leave it all in the car. Makes rolling out the door and off to the hill just that much more efficient. I don't have to think too much.

When we got down to Alyeska, I realized my helmet, goggles and ski gloves weren't in the car. My children, who were tasked with cleaning it after leaving trash strewn across the interiors of multiple vehicles, had removed them to an undisclosed location. I did find a pair of mismatched ski gloves under a seat, which were missed during the thorough cleaning- likely because they were obscured by a McDonalds bag and several school permission slips.

With 15 minutes to spare before I was to meet my group, I was limited to on-hil…

Certificated.

My SRM power meter arrived in the mail the other day. I sent it in after realizing the batteries were probably due for replacement, and I really wanted to get a solid baseline. After all, if you're going to use the gold-standard of bicycle power meters, you might want to make sure it's not made out of tin. A couple turns of the wrench had it back on the time trial bike, and a quick zero offset showed it had not changed dramatically during the calibration. This was good news, since battery life was issue it was sent in for, not stability.

After a couple weeks at the Dome on the road bike riding a combination of TT and sprint efforts with questionable success (not that I didn't enjoy it while I was there), it was time to get back on the TT bike. The plan is to get some hours on the frame to make myself more comfortable in that position, so maybe I won't lose so much time in stage races during time trials. Just keep me in the mix.

After a week of abusing myself contrary to

Strava.

I'm a disciple of the Wanky Blogging Book (King James Edition), including the commandments, scribbled on the back of a bike shop receipt for Chamois Butt'r, I carried down from the top of Upper Potter Valley to the masses below.

Chief among these was:
"Repurpose random emails."
In accordance with my faith (in regards to blogging, at least), I present the following:
_______________________________________________________________________
After Monday's entry, Joey Bacala added the comment "Why are you opposed to Strava?".

To answer this question, I figured I'd bring the response out into the light instead of burying it in a response to a days-old post.

The short answer is:
Because, people. 
The long answer is more complex.

I have no problem with the basic theory of Strava. It's a method of storing ride data. I use Training Peaks, and used Garmin Connect in the past. With Garmin Connect, people could see how far or hard I rode, and even make comments about h…

No, You're Not.

I don't know if he considers it a positive characteristic.

I indicated to Chris Knott that he was mentioned in Friday's post. His email response?

"Am I a douchebag?"

No, Chris, you're not.

Chris actually has talent. Motivation. Discipline. All of the stuff required to be a good recreational road racing cyclist. He also has the enthusiasm and giving nature that props up road racing in Fairbanks. Without Chris and guys like him, we'd all be reduced to Stravassholes.

Well, not me, because to my very core I am morally opposed to Strava and all it stands for. I may be a douchebag, but even I have my limits. Besides, I'm fat and have no chance on any of the local KOM segments.

But I digress.

Chris has beaten me in sprints on more than one occasion, so he has the potential for douchebaggery. However, he has this annoying tendency of being an all around nice guy. It's this one character flaw that will forever keep him from attaining true douchebag status. He could …

Hack.

I can't seem to catch a break on Zwift lately.

The other day I saw Fairbanksian (Fairbanksan? Fairbanksizoid?) Chris Knott was on, so I tried to meet up with him. Unfortunately, my virtual self likely smells as bad as my actual self, so he was cranking away furiously to escape the foul odor. I finally caught up with him at the top of the biggest climb of the Richmond course, scoring a personal record for my efforts (that was still pitiful when compared to others), only to watch as he shut it down and disappeared from the screen. I could delude myself into believing he left because he had to attend his daughter's winter band concert, but I know the truth. It's the funk.

Shortly after Chris disappeared, my computer announced that it was bored and felt like doing an unannounced Windows update. I tried to fumble with the keyboard to delay the latest ill-conceived Microsoft virus, all applications were closed and I was left staring at a progress bar that had no conceivable relati…

Stressful.

Sunday I had to cut short my ride at The Dome. Just when everyone stopped riding around easy and chatting about random topics (we call this "warming up"), I had to pull off and leave. Not the most intense workout this week, but I had someplace to be. The plan was to do something on the trainer that night to make up for my extensive "warm up".

It was the first day of Alyeska Mighty Mites, so I had to roust my daughter out of bed and get her to the hill. After a quick turnaround, we were in the car for the 45 minute drive down Turnagain Arm, arriving with a few minutes to spare before the coaches' meeting.

The first few days are always the most hectic. Some kids hadn't skied yet this season. Others grew significantly and are still figuring out what to do with arms and limbs. The groups are unbalanced, with certain kids skiing with more skill than others. The general public that we share the hill with is in a similar state. Open terrain is limited by early seaso…

Committed Douchebag.

It takes commitment.

When it's time to go, you go. Whatever you have in the tank is thrown on the fire. Every remaining ounce of energy is dedicated to one giant effort.

Sometimes it works. Mostly it doesn't.

Most often you're too beat down from all of the moments that came before. When it's time to go you've got nothing to offer, you've picked the wrong wheel, you wait too long, or you go too early. You lose the race far from the line.

At least, that's how the vast majority of my races end up.

When you're mentally in the game, you're constantly evaluating the competition. This guy is a huge diesel. Another guy has impressive one minute power but no tactical sense. That guy's been pulling for way too long to be a factor... as you separate the wheat from the chaff you figure out where you want to be when the race actually happens. All the stuff that led up to it was just tenderizing the meat. When it actually hits the grill, you're either riding f…

Intervallus Interruptus.

Because I'm stupid and because Janice was threatening to decrease my wattage training ranges if I didn't, I decided to do a 20min Field Test to see where my fitness is now.

It didn't matter that I hadn't slept well the night before, had eaten horribly for the previous few days, and had a stressful day at work immediately preceding the Field Test. I was going to get on the bike and see where I stood. In retrospect, this was probably more of a real- world simulation than my normal Field Tests, because I'm chronically under-rested, over-fed, and mentally frazzled.

I kitted up in team colors, so that everyone in my garage would know I was serious about this event. Even if it was a colossal failure, I would still look fast going nowhere.

I logged onto Zwift, because I heard they had a specific workout for this. I had never really looked into it. That was probably a bad idea, because the warm-up protocol it called out was unlike any one I had ever attempted, and I probably …

Start Them Young.

Image
The other day my youngest turned two. I felt just that much older.

The first thing I did was bought him a pair of alpine ski boots and started shopping for a pair of skis.

I first had his sister out on skis when she was two and a half. I hooked her up to a harness and strapped her ski tips together so I could control her rate of descent, and we spent a few days of quality father-daughter time. She wasn't really doing much more than standing on the skis, giggling, pointing out random things, and generally being adorable. I was pretty much controlling where we went and how fast we got there. None of that mattered, because I was building towards the future.

At nine years old, she can't remember a time when she didn't ski. It's just something she does, so a lot of the mental blocks that people who learned later in life just never had time to develop. That doesn't mean she's fearless, because she is still a cautious skier (by my standards). Her mother and other non-sk…

Open Range.

The other day Janice emailed me that I was working out in the wrong power ranges for a given workout. Specifically, I was working far too hard. This confused me, as she was the one that established the ranges I was using. Turns out, Training Peaks, the application I use to track workouts, had reset my power numbers to a completely arbitrary set at some point or another, and I never noticed. Since my numbers hadn't changed significantly in the last three years, I was just cruising along and operating in the long-established ranges.

I hadn't done a field test in forever, and the last attempt was pretty much a fatigue-induced failure. Janice went back and looked at a few time trials from this year and gave me a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) number about 40 watts lower than my previous (FTP). This is a significant change, and one I don't think is reflected in other metrics this year.

The problem is that the vast majority of time trials I do these days are part of a stage rac…

Depressingly Sad.

Todd Hickman, of Byhalia, Mississippi, tested positive for stanozolol and methylphenidate at the Louisiana-Mississippi (LAMBRA) Age-Graded Road Championships, held September 6 in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

Hickman, 49, won the 66-mile championship race out of a field of 10 riders in the 40+ age group. He has accepted a four-year ban for the doping offense.
-VeloNews


Let's look at that for a second. Let's let it sink in. My faithful Micronesian readers are well aware that I find guys willing to take these sorts of prohibited substances for performance enhancement to be pitiful. Guys like Meeker or Anthony or any number of other amateur dopers are just depressing, yet they're out there actively racing and all too often flying under the radar, stealing whatever faint glory there is in racing other old people on state-of-the-art kid's toys. It's just how things are, and I doubt USAC's push to make Cat 1s pay for increased testing is going to make much of an impa…

Missed Another One.

Yesterday there wasn't a post.

It wasn't that I've run out of bad ideas for topics or didn't have a couple new posts lined up waiting for their moment in the sun.

I just can't count. I scheduled all of the posts and didn't notice that I had left December 9th blank. It's the little details that kill you.

This is especially embarrassing after I nearly ruined Joey's life by not publishing one last Friday.

I will say that not having extended rides to come up with topics has hindered my creative side. Trainer sessions just don't have the same impact on me. Mostly what I think about on the trainer is how long it is until I can get off and take a nap.

Ideas these days come from cruising internet forums, online magazines, or whatever odd thing my toddler did that day. Some days I come away with a list of topics, and some days I just sit in front of the screen and drool. However, on average I usually find enough crap to write about that I don't miss a day.

Unt…

Pavlov's Bike.

I am an internet bike-retailer's wet dream.

All they have to do is throw up an ad for a component I have no use for at a dramatically reduced price, and I start drooling and pondering new projects. A discounted left crank arm (who could pass that up?) suddenly requires a crankset to bolt it to. The crankset needs a bottom bracket to connect it to the frame. After you get the frame, you need a seat post, stem, handlebars, groupset, wheelset...

...all because they discounted a left crank arm.

I suppose I'm getting a little better with my impulse control.

My "why the hell did I buy that?" box is smaller than my "there's a reason I'm hoarding all of this" box. Sooner or later I'll use all of the good stuff. The crap I keep around as a living testament to my greatest weakness- I am first and foremost a consumer.

Pete used to run chains until they had intermittent contact with the cogs. He'd only replace his cables if they exploded in spectacular fashi…

The Little Things.

I'm extremely sensitive to bike fit changes. A couple millimeters or degrees here or there can mean the difference between a normal ride and an injury I will feel for weeks. I wish I was tougher in this regard, but I'm getting old enough to admit my weaknesses. Chances are, one or more of my competitors is reading this and will be bringing a wrench to the start line next season. Bastards.

A couple years ago I built up a new bike on night and raced it the next day with barely a lap around the block as a test ride. I had focused entirely on getting the shifters and brakes adjusted correctly, and forgotten to check the saddle height. It was almost 2" low, which should have been obvious, but I was running on little sleep and the race was a meaningless JBER hybrid/beach-cruiser/e-bike/kickbike/trike event. Ten miles in, after a short pull at the front to thin out the front pack, my knees started aching. Five miles later, I was having problems pedaling, and if it wasn't for …

Omnipotence.

Yesterday Joey sent me a Facebook message indicating I had completely ruined his life and doomed his family and future generations thereof to a life of unfulfilled misery. I caused all of this horrible suffering by not adding a blog post for two days.

I warned him.

He should have realized that entrusting his young family's very existence to a notoriously unreliable internet blogger was a bad idea. I understand my magnetic and dynamic personality draws in people of weaker intellect and possessing a strong desire to follow messianic figures. This allows them to bask in the reflected glory, cloaking them in the fringes of what can only be described as unfiltered awesomeness.

That's my cross to bear.

You would think I might feel partially responsible for condemning a guy who has shown some faint glimmers of cycling talent to the soup line. However, empathy is not numbered among my super powers, while douchebaggery is a talent that I've been nurturing this season.

Anything to take t…

Easter Eggs.

Every day I arrive at work with a solid plan for what I want to get accomplished. That rarely lasts longer than the time it takes for me to reach my desk. Without fail, some evil task that threatens to land me and/or my boss in jail if it's not accomplished yesterday commands my time and attention, pushing otherwise important tasks that don't necessarily come with the threat of forcible anal rape to the back burner. The back burner is overflowing at the moment.

I call these little gems Easter eggs. You never know when or where you're going to find them. Unlike the Easter eggs you may be familiar with from your youth, these are mostly filled with greenish-brown fecal matter. You just have to hold your nose and deal with them, or they'll just end up stinking up the place.

My predecessor told me it would be two years before I could stop running around blindly and would finally feel like I had a semi-solid grasp on what the job entailed. This sense of confidence and competen…

Sucking at Recovery.

Periodically Janice will schedule a Recovery Week. After weeks of slowly building training stress, a Recovery Week allows my body to rebuild and capitalize on all of the poorly-performed workouts. In other words, to heal.

Mostly it involves easier workouts to keep the blood flowing. By easier, I mean mind-numbing. Without the distraction of riding so hard you want to puke, the duration can seem like an eternity on the trainer. Power levels and heart rate have to stay moderated.

I suck at this.

Even after feeling ground into the dirt the previous week, after which walking to the bathroom requires careful metering of strength reserves, I still manage to overdo it. My power output slowly creeps up. I do sprint efforts. Essentially I do everything possible to sabotage my performance, ensuring I'm properly fatigued for the next round of workouts.

This week is a Recovery Week, and chances are I've already done significant damage that I will pay for in the coming weeks and months. My dev…

Digitized and Antisocial.

More and more people I know are on Zwift. It seems like every day I see another local rider pop up on a leaderboard, but I have yet to catch up with one. I think they're hiding from me, or I'm hiding from them. Something like that.

I have managed to miss every training race, group ride, or other pre-announced special event so far. I'm usually finishing up a hard workout, completely drained and already looking forward to a shower, the couch, and double fist-fulls of Goldfish, when I roll up on large packs of virtual riders sitting in the road waiting for the start time. Even when I'm on the system at the same time as the event, I'm on a completely different part of the course.

To be honest, I haven't made the effort. Some people spend their whole workouts sending out messages and giving each other "Ride Ons" (which sounds vaguely inappropriate, now that I think about it). They thrive on the social interaction.  I click on the Ride On button occasionally …