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Showing posts from February, 2016

Better Late Than Never.

February 29th? Doesn't exist. Therefore, I don't have to write a blog post.

In all honesty, I just ran out of time and energy.

Last week was brutal at work, to the point I missed a few days of workouts. Once they're gone, they're gone. My usual attempts at making them up result in burnout and frustration. Better to turn the page and start over, and a couple days isn't make or break at this point.

Work also caused me to get behind in my organizational behavior class. "Organizational behavior" is shorthand for "I really could give two flying shits about this subject but it's in the degree plan". Mustering up the energy to type out one thousand semi-meaningful words on a subject that bores you to tears for a degree that is little more than a piece of paper/block checked off is quite difficult after a string of days like that.

Sunday I was flat at the Dome, which isn't unusual. The previous two days I had thrown myself at the bike with all the i…

Too Tired To Ride.

This week has not been a lot of fun.

I walked into work with a solid plan of what I needed to accomplish. Instead, I was hit with a crisis that occupied me for four solid days. I didn't have time to eat much of anything each day other than a handful of cashews. I got home exhausted, wanting nothing more than to eat and go to sleep so I could tackle the problem again the next day.

I didn't get on the bike.

On the fourth day, when a semi-resolution to the crisis had been reached, I came home and wasn't sure if I knew how to turn the pedals over anymore. I didn't know if there would be anything behind them if I did.

Turns out, I remembered and there was. The legs were a little flat, but the world didn't fall off its axis while I was otherwise occupied.

That's nice to know, but hopefully next week will go better.

Disgusting.

The Storck is a mess.

It hasn't been outside in four months, and it's filthy.

The top of the bottom bracket shell is coated in a thick combination of chain oil, dust, sweat, and probably more than a few tears. Other parts of the bike are liberally slathered in what I could market as "gourmet artisan salt". Some sections are still clean, but I'll get to them sooner or later.

It needs a bath, and it's a little cold to be out washing my bike. I could take it in the shower with me, but the wife had some choice words that included the phrase "divorce settlement" the last time she caught me doing it, so I'm going to resort to spray bottles and paper towels to try to peel back the layers to a more manageable state.

I really shouldn't let it get this bad, but the last thing I want to do after grinding away on the trainer is clean anything except for my body. Once I am clean, I don't want to be anywhere near the nastiness that is my bike. It's lu…

Outside Assistance.

Last week a picture popped up on my Facebook stream. Dark Lord of the Sith (and all-around nice guy) Bill Fleming had posted a picture of the four lead riders in the Susitna 100, a fat bike race. Three of them were sporting the vile, infected-green colors of the Pipsport/Chain Reaction team, while one of them, hardman Tim Berntson, was adorned in the classy-yet-distinctive kit of Speedway/Broken Tooth. Despite the odds, Tim's superior engine and Fatback fat bike rode away from them all and took the win.

Please feel free to talk amongst yourselves while I bask in my teammate's reflected glory.

To be 100% honest, I can't begin to hold Tim's wheel in any discipline. He's another one of those riders made primarily of lean muscle and lung stem cells.

In the comments under the picture, and (to my knowledge) for the first time ever on the interwebs, a little Facebook controversy sprang up when it was noted that one of the Pipsport/Chain Reaction riders in that group was not …

So That's What It Feels Like.

Image
After a couple of days skiing in the rain at Alyeska, I was tired of getting wet.


Instead, I took a group of exchange students from Yakutat and their host families to the base ski bump for some tubing. They don't have much of that sort of thing down there, so I figured it would be a good experience for them.


The toddler and I put skis on and made some quality runs on near-perfect groomed snow. 

After Friday's rain, he was excited by the concept, which I took as a good sign. Blue skies, mild temperatures, and no crowds made for a perfect time to be out with him on the hill.

I had to hold him back.

When he got tired, I still had time to make a few runs of my own. As I made lap after lap, it occurred to me that had been two years since I skied just for the fun of it, instead of coaching or otherwise performing utility tasks on skis. I found I could still rip off slalom turns like I used to (once I scraped the rust off my edges).


My wife gave me an extra hour to play.


I took two.


Lap afte…

The Itch.

The snow was almost gone in the Anchorage bowl. We just toppled a record of snowless days that has stood for over 50 years, and warmer temperatures had reduced what was there to patches of ice. I keep reading reports from fat bikers referring to this trail or that train as "good", but we're obviously operating on a sliding scale. It's mid-February, and it looks like it's early April.

For a skier like me, it leads me to occasionally question my life choices. For an unrepentant roadie like me, this isn't horrible. Each inch of pavement that is revealed is another possibility, and sooner or later those possibilities will add up to a reality. I'll be back on the road.

In the near term, those possibilities would require studded tires. That is, if I want to stay upright and avoid breaking a collarbone or some other structural part of my anatomy.

This is where the itching starts.

Since I sold my 'cross bike to save my body from the abuses that discipline inflict…

Sometimes, Despite Your Best Efforts, Things Work Out.

Today was my two year old son's first day on skis. Ever.


Anyone who has put a toddler on skis knows that this is an exercise fraught with peril. One false move and not only will the kid melt down on the spot, they will likely never ski again and will devote the rest of their lives to their Kajagoogoo tribute band. Your retirement plan that hinged on their surgical career suddenly looks somewhat shaky.

Then why do it?


Because it beats them sitting around all day playing video games. Life is all about options, and I've found skiing to be a rather good one.


Usually I wait for a perfect day to introduce skiing for the first time. This wasn't one of those days. It was raining, the lower mountain alternated between clear ice and slush, and the resort hadn't groomed because it would have done even more damage.


Since he doesn't weigh anything, his skis got pushed around by any ripple in the slush. I was constantly guiding him to keep him out of ditches and away from trees, but …

A Great Way To Waste An Opportunity.

I have never taken full advantage of the training potential Sunday mornings at the Dome present.

These days it's more of a social event for me, a break from the monotony of the trainer.

Looking at the numbers, my average Training Stress Score on Sunday is about half of what it normally is Saturdays for the same amount of time.

Part of it is I have less in the tank after a week of workouts. At my advanced age, I only can do so many hard days before my legs fall off. My stage race history bears this out. Sooner or later I just can't turn the pedals over.

In my training week, those times are Sundays.

I could shuffle my week around so I arrive at the Dome fresh and ready to charge, but then I would be dead for Mighty Mites. Four or five hours shepherding young skiers around Alyeska is a whole 'nother sort of exertion, and doing it with dead legs would be dangerous.

Richard Tilton and Joey Bacala grind out impossibly fast circuits in lane 3. The Serrano's/Fall Line Fitness group …

A Whole Lot of Nothing.

Recently I passed 2,000 "miles" on Zwift.

That's a lot of mileage without actually moving.

A lot of other people have done far, far more in the same amount of time, but I'm not interested in doing centuries or seeing how long I can ride the trainer before my ass is worn completely away. Considering the size of my posterior at the moment, this is one metric where I have a considerable (some would say unfair) advantage. There's just more to grind away.

I'm not riding the trainer any more than I have in previous years. No multi-hour sessions where on-bike fueling becomes a concern. In fact, because of the addition of the Dome to my winter routine, I'm riding the trainer slightly less than I have in years.

What Zwift has done is distracted me during the time I'm scheduled to be on the trainer. When I'm done, I'm done, and no video game has been developed that can make me want to go for extra credit.

When I reached "Level 20", I got a fancy vi…

Stress Relief.

Now that I'm back on the extended, grinding intensity train, I'm having trouble dialing it back when I'm supposed to.

Yesterday I broke through the mental crybaby barrier and did a pretty solid workout despite some periodic McDonalds-induced vurps. McNuggets taste even worse the second time. Still, the legs wanted to go and I had the green light from Janice, so I went. I probably transferred about five pounds of water weight to the garage floor. It was nice to have that sort of energy after ten days of wondering if my legs would ever come around again.

Today I was supposed to dial it way back so I can bounce back for tomorrow, but that just wouldn't be me. I hammered away again, although not quite as intensely as yesterday. Work has been stressful lately, and since I pick up the toddler in the afternoon I can't scream profanities all the way home to blow off steam as is my custom. Instead, climbing on the bike and burning off the frustration is my outlet. This doesn&…

Firing It Back Up.

I always have trouble transitioning from riding easy to intensity. As I get older, the shock to the system is magnified, as are the whining complaints from every corner of my body. With my advancing age, the number of bodily corners have grown as well, and lately it's been getting pretty noisy.

Today I transition from the rebuilding of a recovery week and begin a block of whacking myself in the head with a sledgehammer. At least, that's what it feels like. The dread I feel as I cross over probably makes it worse, but I can't help myself. It's not going to be pleasant.

We've turned a corner. After months of focusing on short, high-intensity bursts of power, I'm going to be required to grind out higher power for longer periods until the lactic acid bleeds through the lycra and starts eating the paint off my frame. Instead of blank, frenzied flurry of the sprint, I'm going to have time to reconsider my life choices in regards to training. I'm going to bargai…

Learning to Play Again.

One of the great things about coaching Mighty Mites is that I get to play.

I have a habit of taking an activity that is supposed to be nothing but fun and, through careful analysis and quantification, turn it into work. I'm still having my version of fun, but the playful aspect is often excluded. I stop doing things just for the hell of it, and contemplate the risk/benefit ratios before diving in.

Sunday on Alyeska's North Face I led my little pack of Mighty Mites down a steep, bumpy pitch, yelling "poof!" in a high-pitched squeal as I popped over each soft bump. Instead of focusing on the steepness of the terrain and their own pre-conceived notions of what the name "North Face" represented, the kids followed along and squealed "poof!" right along with me. Later I figured that this exercise covered all sorts of mental and physical skills that I could build on later, but for the moment we were playing. We made a game of looking for the best "poo…

Tripping Hazard.

Pretty much every day I clomp through my garage in my road shoes on the way to the trainer dungeon. The slick concrete floor is a archeologist's dream, with neatly layered strata of all of the poorly-executed projects acting as a historical record of my ineptitude. Binding the refuse is a combination of dirt, ski wax, motor oil, and other unidentifiable substances that would likely put me on a no-fly list if anyone was brave enough to venture in to test it.

Rather than actually do any sort of comprehensive cleaning to remove the debris, I've chosen a different track. Over the years I've developed ninja-esque skills to dance from clear-ish spot to clear-ish spot in road cleats. Fred Astaire would be green with envy. I may not be able to turn over the pedals with reasonable aptitude in those shoes, but I can do the mashed potato like James Brown when confronted by a jungle of discarded derailleur cable housings and old bar tape.

Lately I've upped the ante and added a coupl…

Rest Day Mulligan.

This week is my recovery week, where intensities are lower and the idea is to allow my body to rebuild from weeks of progressive strain.

Monday was a rest day, so I didn't get on the bike. To make sure I was properly recovered, I ate a big bowl of brownies and vanilla ice cream. I generally take the holistic approach when it comes to training. I ate the whole pint.

Tuesday was supposed to be a mild, moderate intensity day. Cruise along at a  low-endurance pace for an hour and the get off the bike.

I never got on the bike.

The wife has the flu, probably because she neglected to get a flu shot this year and works in a school where much of her day involves other people's germ-spraying progeny. She's paying for it now, so my critique of her decision-making skills has been muted. I'll save it for later. Two days off from work, laying around and aching, probably will drive home the message.

Since I wasn't feeling top notch and was left with child-minding duties, I opted to de…

Wishing Isn't Doing.

I often hear other cyclists talk about their diets and routines and wish I was that person.

I wish I had the discipline they do.

I wish my palate was such that I could choke down the foul-yet-healthy things they consume enthusiastically. I wish I could push away from the table before the loosening of several wardrobe items and the phrase "elastic waistband " come into play. I wish my resolve wasn't so weak when passing a McDonalds, or at least that I could make better choices once I hit the drive-thru. I didn't see a quart of ice cream as something to be conquered. I wish I didn't interpret the local feed-trough all-you-can-eat buffet as a dare.

I'm weak that way.

Fact is, I sabotage myself at every turn.

I burn matches I don't have. I rarely get enough sleep. I'm lazy when I should be active and active when I should be lazy. I procrastinate until everything piles up in such a manner that doing any one thing well is nearly impossible.

A lot of this starte…

Not Interested.

In 2010 Fabian Cancellara was accused of mechanical doping. Ever since then, the UCI has been checking bikes using various methods (including airport body scanners) for motors on bikes. A lot of people called their quest quixotic at best, and an insult to the professional integrity of cyclists (that one makes me laugh) at worst. After five years of searching, they finally found one.

I lump eBikes and other motorized bicycles in the same category as mopeds- not a bicycle. If it has a motor that isn't the rider, I'm not interested in it. I can understand the want or need to ride a motor-assisted conveyance for general transportation. After all, I drive a car. I'd rather that eBike be registered as a motor vehicle and not be allowed in bike lanes, multi-use-trails/paths, or other established non-motorized routes on or off pavement. In other words, I'd rather them be out playing in rush-hour traffic with no other alternative. That way the average potential user would be too…

The Wheels On The Bus...

...fall off.


After a week of steadily improving performance, Saturday it all blew up.


After I warmed up a bit, I did a 15 second sprint effort. Nothing earth-shattering, but solid and well within my normal range for that sort of thing. Immediately after, my legs felt rubbery. I recovered for a few minutes and went for a 20 second sprint. Again, a decent interval, then nothing.


Subsequent efforts produced similar results. I had a moderate amount of pop, but no endurance to back it up. No matter what I did, I was struggling to maintain power levels that were a breeze all this week. As soon as I started putting even a moderate amount of power out, my heart rate would shoot up and I'd start sweating heavily and struggling. When I'd back off, everything would be fine.


It wasn't in the tank Saturday, and I can't say it's completely unexpected.


First, my whole house had been in various phases all week. Runny noses, hacking coughs... At any given moment someone was hating life.…

A Little Perspective.

After reading a lot of overheated puffery about your new cook, you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?
-Anton Ego from
I'm not much of a foodie. I don't take pictures of creative arrangements of asparagus before I dig in and then post it on the interwebs. As a rule, asparagus is foisted off on the wife. I don't try every fad that's touted by celebrity chefs. I have no real desire to eat glands, even if everyone says they're awesome. Hell, I quote lines from animated films about a chef that happens to be a rat.
I just likes me some food.
My family eats out far more than we should. We eat at local restaurants. We eat at chain restaurants. We eat a high-brow places. We eat at dives. We have a whole list of favorites that we return to regularly for different occasions and moods. We have an even bigger list of places that have been …

Not Quite Like Real Life.

Since all of my riding for the last few months has been on the trainer, I've spent quite a bit of time on Zwift. It's provided the extra motivation to push harder (in some cases too hard) when the couch and mass quantities of Goldfish crackers beckoned. My well-worn stack of northern Classics DVDs, the go-to motivational tool of the last few years, has pretty much remained untouched.

Zwift is a quantum leap forward for me, but it doesn't hold a candle to reality.

This clearly demonstrated the other day when I logged on, noticed Chris Knott was riding, and tried to link up with him. Despite the program placing me at his current location, he blew by me like I was standing still (because I was, literally and figuratively). I charged after him, hoping he wasn't doing anything structured and would be willing to play.

In real life I could through out a sarcastic comment between gasps or choke down the vomit long enough to get my point across. Not so in the virtual world of Zwif…

Print Media.

I have subscriptions to multiple cycling magazines.

I used to get all giggly when they showed up on my doorstep, and immediately find a quiet place to pour over every page. As long as it was related in some small way to road cycling, I would read it.

Then, as with everything I'm exposed to for extended periods of time, I started to notice the faults. They weighed on me, and my enthusiasm waned considerably. Certain subscriptions  I dropped because the lack of editing made them almost unreadable. I must now contrast that with this blog, because small errors only add weight behind whatever flimsy argument I'm presenting. With print media, misspellings and other errors just make them look incompetent. There's actually somebody that's supposed to check for that crap, and that person is usually highly eduficated in writin'. If an ignorant bumpkin like me can catch and fixate on them, what the hell is wrong with the editorial staff?

Other subscriptions I dropped because the…

Turns Out, They May Have Something There.

I've been playing around lately, mainly to fight the tedium that comes with riding in place for any amount of time. This usually occurs during easy trainer workouts, where my butt gets tired well before my legs start to fatigue.

I am well aware that hammering away every workout is a sure prescription for burnout and sub-par performance, even though I have a tendency to do it anyway. Zwift, my trainer distraction du jour, generally encourages me to hammer when I should be riding easy, so much so that Janice forbids me to log on certain days of the week. Even "group ride" events that are advertised as limited to 2 to 2.5 w/kg and should fit into a moderate workout tend to explode before the neutral rollout has ended. Swept up in the spirit and just trying to hold onto the wheel in front of me, I'm redlined before I know it. So much for moderate.

The races I usually participate in are exercises in attrition. A relatively high pace is set initially, and small, incremental …