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Showing posts from October, 2016

Rider Down.

One of my favorite riders to race against (even though he kicks my ass in just about every discipline) just went down and broke his collarbone. Chris Knott managed to fall down while riding his bike and do an impressive amount of damage. The way it looks to me, a highly trained ignoramus, surgery is in his future. Knowing Chris, he'll opt for the carbon fiber model that is guaranteed to save 300 watts over a 15K TT, meaning he'll stomp me just that much worse.

Collarbones just seem to be a rite of passage. When I was fat(ter), I fell down plenty, but I choose to believe I was insulated from the impacts by my protective layer of blubber. Now, stripped of that padding and any illusion of muscle, my upper body is more vulnerable to getting beat up. When my doctor asked me how it happened and I said cycling, he said he figured as much. Seems like we keep a surgical cottage industry employed.

Then again, I've fallen down a bunch this year for various reasons (mostly incompetence)…

Blogger Battles.

Wanky's fighting for the rights of cyclists not to get killed. [Note: the link is kinda generic because the post I was referring to is "Return to Dick City" and the blogger is called Wanky. Didn't want people to think I was referring them to a porn site.]

Steve Tilford is fighting to return to some semblance of normalcy. Again, I read of his situation and am thankful my own brush with brain trauma wasn't worse. All I want is for Steve to get better (because he's a kick-ass cyclist) and for people to actively think about their choice to wear or not wear a helmet when they ride. If they can justify their decision in their own minds and fully understand the consequences, my Libertarian side says that should be their own choice.

And what am I fighting?

After much reflection, the worst things I'm fighting are headwinds and boredom in a place I don't much care for. Put in perspective, my battles aren't all that meaningful in the big scheme of things. Never…

Cooler.

The wind from the north brought cooler temperatures. Locals were bundled up like the next ice age was here. I saw a couple cyclists wearing balaclavas and insulated tights. They wouldn't allow daycare kids to play outside. It was 60F.

I, on the other hand, was right in my comfort zone, so I decided to take a long ride. I fought the headwind as I rode north, but never really broke a sweat. The roadkill armadillos smelled somehow sweeter. Well, maybe they just didn't reek so much. I put a bunch of miles under my wheels, so many that my legs fell off. That was the plan, and I executed it.

The next day I did it again, then pushed it a little further. Again, the legs came off, this time a little earlier. I flailed my way home.

Every day I get a little bit stronger. Every day I get a little bit weaker. 

If that makes any sense. Does to me.

After my season was cut short by injury, I went into a decline. I couldn't ride like I wanted to, and there was no reason to ride like that anywa…

Change of Pace.

I could have ridden Friday after school.

To be honest, it was one of the nicer days I have experienced down here. After a return to heat and humidity for the last week, north winds blew in a temperature drop of 10 to 15 degrees. The idea of riding without a coating of greasy sweat appealed to me. The idea of not having to down countless water bottles in an ultimately futile struggle against dehydration was a big drawing point as well.

And yet, I didn't ride.

Instead, I went to an Octoberfest deal at the club and tried a bunch of beers I really didn't like. Imagine going to a mall, walking into a Yankee Candle store, popping the top on a Halloween-themed jar, and downing the liquid contents. At least three of the pumpkin-flavored beers I tried were exactly like that. Other brewers started with solid base beers and then went too far, adding fruits and flavors that detracted from the final product. Out of the 20-some brews they had on display, I think I liked two.

What I did like was…

Life is Scary.

For those that hadn't heard, Steve Tilford took a nasty spill during a training ride. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are no joke, and Steve has a long road to recovery ahead of him. In the span of a split second, life changes, perhaps permanently, in ways you can't possibly predict.

My own TBI happened right after my best race season to date. I was on the downside of peak fitness and recovering from a series of illnesses, but I was still stronger and lighter than I had been in decades. An auto accident knocked me out of the world for a while and the effects lingered for longer than I would have liked (my wife says she still sees some). However, it was nowhere near the level of what Steve's facing.

Steve wasn't wearing a helmet when he hit the dog. I don't think now's the time for helmet-use debates (I know where I stand on it), but rather to send some positive thoughts his way. I doubt that will do a whole lot of good, but it can't hurt.

Life can change in an …

Traffic.

For the last week or so, ever since my comments about Katrina and the Gulf Coast blew up, traffic to this blog has tripled. It's not exactly how I would have preferred to build a reader base, but sometimes you take what you can get. I very much doubt many of them will keep reading, as I expect that a good portion are just clicking on links so they can be outraged. I'm no Trump, so eventually they move on. Some people like outrageous stuff and elevating their heart rate. To them, I say go for a bike ride.

Others may be people I have ridden with or may ride with in the future. That's a trickier proposition. I like people that ride bikes. I like fast ones and slow ones. I like ones that are like me- forever trapped in the middle. The main thing is that they're riding. While we may have disagreements about relatively small issues like form, function, and etiquette, at the core we all propel our bikes the same way... except e-bikers. Seriously, screw those guys.

I generally d…

Easy. Hard. Easy. Easy. Easy. Waaaaaaayyy Too Hard.

After another 300 mile week, last week I decided to take it easy.  

On Monday, I took advantage of the Columbus Day holiday and rode in the cooler morning air and got in some moderate miles. That night, I soft-pedaled the Tri-Hard group ride and cruised with a guy who was cooked himself. I wasn't interested in riding hard, it was dark, and this guy didn't know the course. Perfect. Spin the legs a little and then call it quits.

Refreshed somewhat, I hit it on Tuesday at Destroyer. As this is my favorite ride of the week, I couldn't sit up. It's also my only real dose of intensity. I threw stupid attacks and sat up, recovered, and did it again. The other guys said they loved it, as apparently not a lot of other riders down here do that sort of thing mid-ride. This encouraged other people to throw their own attacks, so instead of a grind fest there was the tactical aspect as well. Lots of fun, if not particularly easy.

I'd been riding for nine straight days, so I skippe…

He's Got Legs.

The other day I was reading Steve Tilford's blog, because I really don't have much to do during weekends (especially long weekends) but eat, sleep, and ride. That may sound wonderful, but since I can only do so much riding in this environment I am left with a lot of time to eat and sleep. Sleep is a wonderful thing, but if I do too much of it I feel completely dull and it throws off my sleep schedule for the rest of the week. Eating is a wonderful thing as well, but again, too much of a good thing is counter-productive.

I was skimming through it and came across a picture of a rider without reading the post relating to it. This guy had SoCal Masters legs- tanned to a deep bronze and sporting muscles I didn't know humans could grow. My legs are starting to get pretty lean and venous with all of the miles I'm putting into them, and they're pretty tan by my British Isle standards. My mid-section still needs a lot of work, and my moobs could go down a cup size or two, bu…

Flat.

I rode in the morning. 90 minutes to get in some miles before the sun got too high in the sky. I had nothing better to do on a day off. Afterwards, I walked around, took naps, and debated with my wife via text about getting a German Shepherd puppy. For the record, I was against it, as we have a wonderful Lab already, plus two cats and a toddler. I love German Shepherds, but this was impulsive and I'm not one to take on the awesome responsibility of a new dog on a whim. She won the argument, but realized in time that the ad was a puppy mill scam and didn't go through with it. I was proud and relieved. The last thing I want to do is for myself and the rest of the family to get attached to a dog and then find it has a gazillion breeding-related problems. Better to wait for the right dog.

Crisis averted, I slept, ate and generally goofed off. Late in the afternoon, I suited up and rode into the wind for a group ride. Going over the bridge into Ocean Springs, buffeted by winds, I kn…

Mr. Sulu, All Ahead Meh.

I've been doing a lot of riding lately, and the vast majority has been... shall we say... non-intense. Lots and lots and lots of long, slow distance, designed to built my diesel back up after years of neglect. I just don't have the time and opportunity to ride this much back home, and this environment does not lend itself to intense workouts- unless you're at the casino buffet, elbowing your way past elderly bus tourists to get to the piles of peel and eat shrimp. Since I have yet to hit a buffet on this trip, intensity hasn't been a major part of my day.

Sure, I'll kick it up for short periods of time here and there on group rides, but most of the time I'm not killing myself. Chug chug chug. Racking up the hours and miles while I can.

The theory is that I'll build my diesel up, try to maintain some portion of it this winter, and then add intensity to rebuild the top end I'm not working on currently. If my meh is a little faster than the other guy's m…

Offending People.

I can be sarcastic, profane, offensive, and abrasive. As far as charm goes, that's all I have going for me.

Last week I offended Joey Bacala with a comment about Katrina and the Gulf Coast in this blog. It wasn't intentional or directed in any way towards him or anyone he knows, but he had every reason to take offense. With every word I publish online, my chances of offending you increase exponentially. Give me time, because I type very slowly.

I was somewhat surprised when blog traffic tripled after the offending post was published. I hadn't made any attempt to publicize the blog recently. Curious, I Googled my blog's URL and found a short post and responses on the Biloxi Reddit, posted by "ButtPlugsWasTaken" (I'm assuming it's an alias). While their responses weren't as articulate or well-reasoned as Joey's, I imagine the gist of the message was much the same. I'm a fucktard.

I'd always heard that Reddit was a haven for thoughtful debat…

Snow Boogers.

The original plan was to ride a couple hours and then put the feet up. That all changed when I awoke to find cooler temperatures had rolled in. Hurricane Matthew still was pushing in that steady wind from the north, but with it came weather that I find downright pleasant. Not sure how long my good fortune might last, I went long.

Last week's Southern Magnolia century took me by a small gas station and roadside stand that advertised something called "snow boogers". I didn't ask at the time, but the first-grader in me was intrigued. Let's be honest, "snow boogers" were just an excuse to ride, a goal to be reached that could have just as easily been "the Coke machine out in the middle of nowhere". It was a direction, and reaching it wasn't really the point of going. Between me and boogerland were some of the better roads I've found down here- smooth and low traffic. Rolling hills through farmland. Nice people who actually know and care abo…

Five Pounds and Crusty.

I got back from the other day's ride beat down. Hurricane Matthew-influenced winds were channeled down the open roads into demoralizing headwinds. I downed bottle out of bottle to refill the liquid streaming from my body as I fought to maintain some sort of forward progress. By the time I reached some semblance of shelter from the onslaught on the tree-lined side roads, I had pretty much emptied the tank.

The ride became less fun and shifted to an obligation as the strength left my legs.

I held my breath each time I rode past roadkill slowly cooking in the sun. Sometimes I wouldn't see it in time, instead trapping the taste of carrion in my nose and mouth, which enhanced the whole experience.

I turned down roads I'd never explored before. Some led where I thought they should, and others didn't. Without mountains to navigate by and the sun directly overhead, I only had a vague idea of which direction I was headed, not that I had any particular place to be or any real sched…

Douching the Coast.

Last weekend the "Cruising the Coast" event. From what I can tell, it's the single-largest concentration of hair plugs, Viagra scrips, and Expand-A-Belt trousers in a six state radius. Oh, and there are a lot of cars. Lots and lots of cars. Lots of, if I were a car guy, cars that could be considered really nice and really expensive. I used to spend a lot of time wrenching on Jeeps, so I can appreciate the investment these people put into their cars, even if it's not my thing.

They drive up and down the main drag in Biloxi/Gulfport, making giant loops like the kids used to do in one-stoplight towns. People line the streets to breathe in the exhaust and encourage the drivers to do burnouts in stop-and-go traffic. Again, not my thing, so I've tried to avoid it.

Unfortunately, the beginning of my bike route is part of this loop, so I get to breathe in the fumes with all of the other middle-aged men. I get to dodge cars that think the bike lane is just a really narrow c…

Called Out.

Image
Joey Bacala                                                           October 10, 2016 at 8:18 AM    "The seething hate that had me cheering on Hurricane Katrina and giggling like a psychopath at the aftermath has been replaced with mere intense dislike."

Fatalities: (directly or indirectly caused by Katrina)
- Alabama: 2
- Florida: 14
- Georgia: 2
- Louisiana: 1,577
- Mississippi: 238
- Total: 1,833
Source: FEMA

At this point Mike, I don't think you were giggling 'like a psychopath'; I think that just makes you a psychopath. ______________________________________________________________________ 
Fair enough, Joey. I can respect where you're coming from, and I'm not particularly proud of my response at the time. It was an honest reaction, based on previous extremely unpleasant experiences, and obviously didn't take into consideration the lives lost or disrupted. For me (at the time), it was like seeing a meth lab was bulldozed. That's just where I was…

Getting Old.

I realized the other day I don't hate the Gulf Coast anymore.

Instead, the seething hate that had me cheering on Hurricane Katrina and giggling like a psychopath at the aftermath has been replaced with mere intense dislike. With age comes a certain mellowing. I hate being away from my family and life. I hate heat and humidity. I hate flat.

I don't hate Biloxi.

Credit goes to a lot of really nice people down here, none of whom I knew on my previous trips. The local cycling scene, both triathletes and people with bike-handling skills, have really been the difference. They've helped me fill the time and focus on the positive instead of the negative. They've inspired me to look at old things I used to hate in a new way and find new things that don't suck quite so much.

This has been quite a quantum shift in perspective, especially for an inflexible brain like mine. 

Every day I pass by empty concrete slabs, overgrown with grass. That one was someone's house. Someone'…

One Hundred.

The last time I did a century, it was a sub-four hour effort that made me swear I would never ride 100 miles in a single day again. I had trained specifically for this, which basically meant I rode around a lot and picked the flattest century I could find. I was drawn along by a large pack of determined riders (the largest one I've ever been in), and despite not pulling at the front for as much as a second, I was still barely hanging on. There were points that I almost fell off the back, only to be saved by a slight slacking of the pack's pace by a turn or other obstruction. I hated just about every minute of it.

When I first started riding, centuries were what I did. I didn't usually do them fast, but I did a lot of them. The vast, vast majority of them were solo. Looking back, I don't know what compelled me to ride like that. Instead of a really cool endorphin rush, I mostly just felt relieved to be off the bike. I just don't think I'm built for the endurance …

Less of Me.

My weight has fluctuated significantly every day I've stepped on the scale. Hydration, what I'd eaten the night before, how much I'd ridden... It bounces around for any number of reason. The only constant is that the bounces have been steadily trending downward. My highs are lower than they used to be, my lows... well... lower.

It should, considering how much I'm riding. My diet hasn't been that great, but overall I've been maintaining a caloric deficit. Some day's I'm more disciplined than others, but this part of the year is never about discipline for me. After race season, the miles I put in are more about doing whatever I want to, refreshing my mental state for the long months on the trainer when structure and goals take over in preparation for the next season.

However, if I can lose a decent amount of weight down here, I hope that will give me a head start towards something better. Something smaller. I'll never be a climber because I eat too much…