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Showing posts from November, 2016

Not Automatic.

I'm still not in the rhythm of the trainer.

Every day I forget something new and have to run back upstairs to get it. Today i was the heart rate monitor. Yesterday was the Garmin. Tomorrow will be something else.

Once I'm in the groove, I can do this all in a semi-conscious state. Of course, by then it will be time for the road again, and I'll start fumbling all over again.

I wrote out a training plan for a month, just to see if I would stick to it. It's not excessively intense, since I am backing away from the fitness edge at the moment. It's more about maintenance than anything else. A gradual return to normal that won't shock my system too much.

I'm not sure I can still stick to a structured plan. Zwift just has too many random squirrels for me to chase. I may have to skip a few days of Zwift a week just to stay on target. Maybe explore some of the other online training resources out there to see if I'd be less inclined to push too hard when I shouldn…

Hands.

I've been buying a lot of gloves lately. By a lot, I mean just that. A lot.

When I was down in Biloxi doing four or five hour rides, I noticed the padding in my on-clearance Louis Garneau long finger gloves were perfectly positioned to be in completely the wrong place. Nerves got squished after a while, and no manner of hand re-positioning would do the trick after a while. I developed weird callouses.

Before this, my go-to gloves were Bontrager long-finger gloves. Padding in the right spots, good snot wipe, light enough to not be too hot but could also ward off the wind. At one time I had five or six pairs of them, which eventually fell apart or fell victim to crashes. Unfortunatly, Bontrager changed designs on me, and I don't like the new ones as much.

So I went on a glove buying spree. POC, Mavic, Assos, Sugoi... a lot of expensive brands to see if they had a solution for me. I don't mind spending the money, because I was always told to invest first in your contact points- …

Knew It Was Coming.

I couldn't generate any sustained power. My peak was off. Each ride on the trainer was a flail towards the intended duration. Sometimes I didn't make it. I couldn't do any situps or pushups. Something was very, very off.

Then it hit me with both barrels.

I spent the night before Thanksgiving on the couch in a cold sweat. Ice pick headache and muscles tied in knots. Periodically the monotony would be interrupted by a trip to the bathroom to rid myself of whatever was causing this problem, though any available orifice.

Not one of my better nights.

Thanksgiving I pretty much spent in bed napping, which isn't a bad way to spend a holiday when you think about it. I ate, slept, and didn't even consider getting on the bike. It was a rest day anyway, but even if it wasn't lycra was not going to be part of my wardrobe. Soft and warm were the fashion trends of the day.

The next day wasn't much better, but at least I climbed on the bike. The day after as well. Shopping was…

Pardon the Interruption.

The other day I got on Zwift to see Joey had just started as well. I was in the mood to have my clock thoroughly cleaned, so I clicked and magically transported to his location. He was putting out a steady 3.3 w/kg, which for him is 240w. For me? About 280w. Still, I tried to jump on and hang. I got dropped. I pedaled harder. I got dropped faster. I pedaled harder, and nearly came to a stop. Each time Joey did a u-turn and came back, then blew by like I was standing still.

Hmmm...

I was killing myself and the Zwift display only read 250w at best. I knew I was dead, but a relatively short duration effort like that should not be that bad. Something was very, very wrong.

Then I glanced down at my Garmin, which was set for a 30 second average. 320w. Not an astronomical number, even by my weak-sauce standards, but a couple zones higher than Zwift was reporting. Since Zwift estimates speed by w/kg, there was a reason I was dying to go backwards.

I changed my battery in my Quarq, but I was still…

Acclimating

Now that I'm back, I need to adjust. Everything's so different.

Here in the world, other people make demands on my free time, which makes it considerably less free. Not that I really want to ride the trainer for three to five hours a day, but even if I did, it wouldn't be an option. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does take some getting used to after months of bachelorhood.

It's slightly colder here. I think the temperature differential between Anchorage and Biloxi is something like 50 degrees. Today we were at an outdoor photo shoot with the kids, and I was freezing. Usually temperatures in the low teens don't faze me, but my skin got thinner down there. I gotta toughen up before ski season, or I'm going to be in trouble. I have a few days, so that's plenty of time, right?

The trainer isn't the road. When it comes to road-kill armadillo carcasses rotting in the sun, that isn't a bad thing, but it is different and will require a bit of rea…

Burnout.

I knew it was going to happen. I was planning on it. The whole goal was to have my fitness peak and then crash spectacularly.

Mission accomplished.

I could already see the signs of it happening in Mississippi. My energy on the bike was waning. My enthusiasm on longer rides wasn't there. My kick during short, intense efforts was gone. On group rides, I kept turning to my companions and saying, "let's just ride easy, OK?"

Now that I'm on the trainer, it's even more plainly obvious. There's nowhere to hide. No tailwinds to push you home.

In a relatively short amount of time I doubled my weekly hours and mileage. My Chronic Training Load climbed steadily from around 70 to 105. Usually this time of year it's around 65, so obviously I peaked a bit late.

With the broken collarbone and no Tour of Anchorage, the second half of the season was a wash. The Mississippi trip gave me an excuse to ride. Now that I'm home and on the trainer, I have a couple months to b…

Back to the Dungeon.

I hadn't ridden in a couple days. One for flying home, then one for spending time with the family. I can't say I missed riding, because I was a little burnt after over 3,300 miles during my trip. Jet lag didn't help much either.

Now that I'm back, I decided my trainer dungeon could use a little sprucing up. A few years ago I laid some recycled Pergo over part of the concrete, which only made the room more depressing and mainly served to collect sweat and dirt. The more I tried to clean it, the worse it looked. Time for a change.

I went to the local home improvement store and looked at all of my options. I was looking for cheap and durable, but they were fresh out of that. After bouncing between the various options and making my lovely wife irritable, I decided on vinyl planks that look like wood but hopefully are more waterproof. I figured it would have to look better than the dingy Pergo.

Problem was, the dungeon was full of ski and bike stuff. The rest of the garage was…

Blog Nuggets II

Image
I had just finished fixing the flat when he drove up in his Chevy pickup and offered assistance. He had seen me from the other side of the road and driven at least a mile out of his way to lend a hand.

"No thanks, just caught a broken bottle. I think I've got it handled"

"People don't just seem to care about their fellow man anymore."

"You did, and I appreciate it."

I often think the world would be a much better place if everyone just tried to clean up after themselves. Sure it's the janitor's job, but you don't have to do your part to make it harder. The roadsides are littered with trash? That's somebody else's job. That mess on aisle 5 you just made? Someone else's problem. A couple of seconds of effort could make that guys life a little easier.

People don't just seem to care about their fellow man anymore.
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The eyes glowed in the light of the Super Moon, …

Me and Bobby and Terry and Tommy.

Every Thursday, after the last notes of retreat died off, we'd do laps of the base. The first part of each lap was conversational, then, as if by silent agreement, one of the group would go to the front and start hammering. The others would fall in line. By the time we reached the chapel, the lead rider would rotate back and another would take his place. The tailwind we usually had here drove the speeds higher. We'd loop around the golf course, gaining speed as we reached the slight downhill towards base housing. When we rounded the corner at the event center we would get hit with the headwind. A stronger rider would take over and drive the pace mercilessly higher. A little gap left riders flailing for the remainder of the lap. A short sprint on the last straightaway, then a bit of regrouping and recovery before the next lap.

After four laps, we'd have a few beers.

Every week we would meet, riding the same laps. Round and round Keesler. Sometimes others would show up, but th…

Flying.

As you read this, I am happily crammed into a metal tube, winging my way back to my beloved Alaska. My knees are locking up, my neck is cramped, and my back is aching. However, I'm moving in a positive direction. I'm going north.

My bike is somewhere below me, sitting mangled in its plastic case after TSA performed their ritual precision misalignments. I'm not worried about that, because my trusty titanium ride will have a well-deserved break and rebuild before it sees pavement in the spring.

I'm ready to be home. I miss my wife and children. I miss my dog. I want to be surrounded by the chaos that characterizes what I consider normal. I want to see snow. I want to see mountains. I want to be back where I belong.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss the free time to do whatever I want like the bachelor I once was. That part was pretty cool. Getting to ride as much or as little as I want with little restriction on either option was something I haven't …

Buying Speed... And Piece of Mind.

I'll be honest. I'm a bit spooked.

Steve Tilford's accident has given me a little to think about. Given my current circumstances, I have a lot of time to obsess about those little things.

Nope, I ain't gonna stop riding. Yeah, I wear a helmet pretty much every time I climb in the saddle (feels weird if I don't).

Instead, I was reflecting that if I was going to continue to ride, I might want to make sure that the piece of styrofoam and plastic that protects what marbles I have left rattling around my skull is the best and most protective piece of styrofoam plastic I can afford.

I don't want to go through what Steve is going through. I don't want to put my family through it. I don't want another TBI even on the level of my last one. I'd prefer to avoid repeating that sort of thing altogether.

Last winter I bought a new ski helmet, because (like an idiot) I left mine at home and had to coach in 30 minutes. I ran into the local ski shop, looked at what they…

What Part of Easy Don't You Understand?

Bart threw out the invite at the Destroyer ride. His girlfriend was wanting to do a more relaxed group ride, so they were going to join some other riders for a ride from the Latimer Community Center. Planned average was 17.5 MPH (sounds kinda specific to me). Since I was trying to back off a bit this week, but still wanted to get in some miles, I said I was in.

I hadn't ridden much around Latimer in years. My only attempt to make a posted ride this trip nobody else showed up for. I didn't think it was still a thing. Nice roads out that way, but I couldn't quite remember where they were, and was too lazy to try to find the old GPS files. As I found new routes, Latimer just faded to the back of my mind.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a nice group at the community center Sunday morning when I rode up. Despite the time change and extra hour to be lazy, I was still slow to get out of bed. I made it with five minutes to spare, which is cutting it a little close when you're …

Disconnecting.

It's disgusting.

Both sides are acting like children, either throwing tantrums because they didn't get their way or smugly proclaiming that they would have "respected the process". Bullshit. You're no better or worse than them. Your reaction might have taken a different form, but at its core you would have done the same thing if it had gone the other way.

I got drawn into the whole thing on Facebook, clicking on link after link. Eventually I had enough and shut the laptop off and kitted up.

The air was much cooler than it has been. Something like a 20 degree drop. I picked a road I hadn't explored much and started turning the cranks. The unproductive tension dissolved. I found I could push higher wattage than I had on other solo rides, thanks to the air cooling my fat rolls more effectively. I was comfortable again. I wasn't greasy with sweat.

If it wasn't for the dark reducing the world to the small circle illuminated by my headlight, I would have kept r…

Veterans Day.

On election day, I had resigned myself to serving under a deeply flawed and evil (my opinion) person. The next day I woke to find I would be serving under a completely different deeply flawed and evil (my opinion) person. So, I've got that going for me.

I have to hope for the best, because I respect this nation's institutions. I even respect the power of the bureaucracy, because it at least slows the swing of things one direction or another a bit. Gives us time to adapt, to absorb, to find our place within the new reality- whatever that may be.

I'm not hitting the streets in protest. My candidate didn't win. My vote went to a dope-smoking guy whose plans for 2017 include riding the Tour Divide. Not exactly somebody confident in their chances of taking it all, but I just couldn't bring myself to vote for a major party candidate when presented with the two choices.

People in uniform will do what they've always done. I've served far more years under presidents I…

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.

Whoever came up with daylight savings time needs to be whacked upside the head.

I knew nobody was going to show.

It was a 15 mile ride to the meeting place. 

It was raining.

It was dark.

I rode anyway. What else was I going to do? 

Just because, I decided to take an alternate route to the meeting place. That was a mistake. 15 miles became 30. Dark became "shit, that's dark". Despite my blinky lights and all of my reflective gear, I was buzzed more often than not. They saw me. They just didn't care.

Nobody showed.

I rode back to base, then did laps until I had enough miles to say I actually did something with my night. Round and round.

It wasn't the same, but you know what? I had fun. I had fun squinting into the rain, watching the water arc off my front wheel. My bespoke Rapha cycling cap kept the rain out of my eyes, making me feel all Belgian and stuff even though it was likely above 65F. I like these sorts of rides once in a while, because it was different. Differe…

Cracked.

The wind was blowing steadily out of the north in the morning when I cracked my door. I retreated to my bed and shopped for aero helmets on the internet, killing some time in the hopes that the wind would abate somewhat. It didn't.

At 11:00, I rolled out into a warm and windy world, tucking my head down and churning away. The plan was to do 95 miles. After 30, that number was reduced to 80, As it turns out, 80 was still way too much.

I started pedaling squares. Then triangles. My speed dropped. I downed bottle after bottle of scientifically-tested electrolyte drink mix, but I knew I was losing. I was falling apart, and the wind was laughing at me.

When I reached my turnaround point, the store at Big Level, I refilled my bottles, drained one while I was sitting in the shade, and then filled them again. I drank a Coke. I ate a Snickers bar. I contemplated the 40 miles ahead of me. I noticed the wind had died. Crap. I was counting on a tailwind.

When the sugar rush hit, I got back in the…

Stale.

Monday afternoon, after yet another 300 mile week, I just couldn't manage to swing a leg over the top tube, even for a few easy laps around the base. I napped, ate, watched TV, surfed the internet, and generally tried to recover.

Tuesday, at the Destroyer ride, I felt flat. I could manage decent sustained power, but had no top end.

Wednesday was a repeat of Monday. I sat around the room and listened to the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack. More eating. More napping. More web surfing. More doing nothing.

Looking back, I haven't done anything remotely resembling a real recovery week in two months. The closest was when I only rode 244 miles. My Chronic Training Load is at all-time high, by a large margin. I can smell the burnout eminating from my fat rolls.

Riding the same routes over and over for this many miles can get stale in even the most engaging of locations. In some places, there's dramatic scenery and climbs and descents and switchbacks and all that sort of stuff. The…

Traffic II

As I mentioned in a previous post. blog traffic really picked up after the whole "giggly Katrina" post. I found a link to it in an irate entry in the Biloxi Reddit, and braced myself for an onslaught of hate-mail. It never came. 

I'm sure more than a few people tuned in to see what would happen, but as the numbers climber and climbed, I was a little puzzled about who all of these new readers were. No comments on the Reddit post since I offered them the venue to call me an idiot. No new blog or forum entries that Google or other search engines could find.

Finally Blogger's analytic software caught up and identified the mystery readers:

French internet bots that apparently have a porn addiction.

My niche used to be Micronesian hut-dwellers wanting to learn American profanity and sarcasm, filtered through an amateur bike racing lens. A small audience, to be sure, but it's what I had to work with.

Now, thanks to Reddit and the spam-spreading utilities that scan it for act…

Joy of Riding.

I know, I may be the only one in the world that will admit to it, but I really like this Peter Sagan guy.

Sure, back-to-back World Championships make it hard not to at least respect his ability, plus all of the other stuff he's won and done, but for me, that's not it. OK, that may be part of it, but that's not the main thing.

The main thing is that he has fun doing it. He's playful even when he's deadly serious. He takes calculated chances that nobody expects. He plays on the same level as the world's best sprinters as he does the hard men of the Northern Classics. I have an almost religious respect for the guys who mix it up in races like Flanders and Roubaix- far more than I have for feather-weights that can climb a mountain or two in July. For me, holy week is pretty much the beginning and end of the professional racing season, with the rest just being a sideshow. Peter's been there in recent years, with his win at Flanders finally hinting at his true pote…

What The Hell Am I Doing?

One thing is for sure. I'm riding a lot more than I normally do. Hours and miles. Even during the peak riding season, I don't ride this much. To be honest, even if I had the time, I don't think I could sustain it. Eventually I would burn out and find something else to do. Eventually my body would shut down and I would go into a tailspin. 

As I get older, I just can't do it. The body doesn't recover like it used to. Most riders my age got this out of their systems years ago, when their lives were less complicated and recovery meant a burger and a pitcher of beer. Well, I still think that sounds like my go-to strategy, but it's probably not all that effective.

So what exactly am I hoping to accomplish? I'm trying to follow a little advice.

   "Ride a bike. Ride a bike. Ride a bike." -Fausto Coppi, on how to improve.

   "Ride lots." -Eddy Merckx, on what advice he would give to aspiring riders.

I think those guys might know a thing or two about…

Blog Nuggets.

Usually when I come from a ride I'll have an idea or two for a blog entry, so I'll create one when I get home before I forget it. Some come out fully-formed and are full-fledged literary gems (as you've come to expect). Others are just incomplete thoughts, short bits that go nowhere, or ideas that otherwise don't qualify as full posts. In the interests of filling space, I present a few of them for your consumption.
___________________________________________________________________  The wind always comes from the wrong direction here. When I leave in the morning, heading away from the coast, the wind is coming out of the north. It beats me down during the 90 minutes it takes me to get to the good, low traffic roads, and continues to pummel me for the next couple hours as I try to enjoy the rolling hills. When I'm done and headed home, the wind shifts and I get a healthy forehead full of push-back. 

I've tried leaving later and earlier. Later just ends up frying m…

Weekly Kick in the Lady Parts.

If I had to pick the absolute best evil villain name, Bart Luther would be at the top of the list. The love child of a stereotypical blackhat-sporting western bad guy and Superman's nemesis.

Strangely enough, the Bart Luther I know is a hell of a nice guy who is the driving force behind the twice-weekly Destroyer rides down here. I've only done the Tuesday night rides because of other commitments, but that's been enough to send me home aching and crying on a consistent basis.

Lately I've stopped doing as many group rides and have started putting in a lot of long, slow distance. Doing four or five group rides in a week, ranging from 25 to 60 miles each, then riding a couple long rides on the weekend was killing me. Something had to give.

Some of the rides just were hour-long team time trials. Do a string of those and you'll quickly find yourself in a pit of fatigue, as I did earlier in this trip.

Tuesdays are my night to let it rip. Sometimes I don't roll in with th…

More Important Things.

Do yourself a favor. 

Read Aki's post about his father.

Then take a moment to be thankful for family, whatever form it may take in your life. Maybe make a few calls.

Some things are more important than riding around on a kids toy in a superhero costume.