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Showing posts from February, 2017

The First Revolution is Often the Hardest.

Every day this week I've woken for work at 2:00AM so I can go in early, which means I didn't do my usual pre-work trainer ride. The hours haven't been extremely long, but the sudden change in sleep hours really messed with my energy levels, as did my family's failure to adhere to my strict, post-5:30PM household quiet hours.

When I get home, I'm usually a zombie. I don't want to get on the bike, but I do. It just takes a while to find the energy. A long while. Once the pedals are turning, I can manage something approaching a sweat, but I'm not setting any personal records. It's all about maintaining until things return to normal.

To be honest, I'd rather be in bed. However, I kit up and get on the trainer anyway. Partially out of stubborness, partially out of fear that I'll "contract obesity", and partially because that's just what I do. Although napping is sounding more and more like a better sport.

Just turn the pedals over, Mike, b…

Being "The Guy".

Aki Sato is one of the road cycling bloggers I've followed for a while. 

His in-race videos have been a masters class for me on race craft and tactics. I'm constantly amazed how he can make the moves he does using so little power, then throw down a high level of wattage at just the right moment. He's one of those guys with such a small CdA that not only does the wind not see him, it actually appears that he rides around with a perpetual tailwind.

Up until a couple years ago, Aki ran a very popular race series in the northeast. He was "the guy" making a whole lot of people's Walter Mitty-esque road racing fantasies a reality. Large investments of his time, money, and energy were required. He was the one guy it all hinged upon. Because of all of this, he didn't race or train as much as he wanted to. As he put it, "I felt like I had been rolled up into a race-promoting-snowball and rolling down a big snow covered hill. I couldn't get out until the s…

Unintentional.

Wanky's post last week got me thinking.

I've been one of those guys to yell here or there. Rarely is it intended as aggression, and rarely do I intend to raise my voice more than necessary. Unfortunately, I'm usually already expelling a lot of air, so when you add in the vocal cords it comes out loud. Add in the edge provided by adrenaline, and it probably comes across as super-aggressive/asshole-ish/bigly.

In our average mid-range field, I ride with a lot of guys who are smarter and more experienced than I am. I also ride with a lot of guys whose strength far exceeds mine, but also exceeds their experience. They'll cut corners in unsafe ways. They'll sweep across the front of the field in a sprint. They'll make any number of small errors that, while not intentional, can have very serious consequences. I should know, I do stupid shit myself, and I should know better.

In the moment, with that surge of energy impending doom can bring, I yell. It's usually short,…

Good Noise.

I'm probably going deaf(er).

My LeMond Revolution is universally renowned for being the loudest cycling trainer ever created. The harder you pedal, the louder it gets and the higher the pitch. Eventually the room sounds like the taxiway of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

There are much quieter trainers on the market, offering many advanced functions that the LeMond doesn't. Some of them are "direct-drive", which was always one the Revolution's selling points. "Road feel" on some of these approaches that of the LeMond, which I've always thought was the gold standard (instead of the "riding through mud" feel of most fluid trainers). Other companies actually answer phone calls and emails from customers. In other words, there is no good reason for me to continue to use a stationary trainer that requires the use of ear protection with a Noise Reduction Rating of 34.

And yet, I do.

In fact, this fall I doubled down and bought anothe…

Good News.

In the spirit of my new determination to say something positive once a month, I do have something good to report.

A month ago I went into see my doctor. I hadn't been feeling good. Power was way off. Heart rate was high. I was tired all of the time. Stuff like that. You could say it's because I'm old and am still trying to deny it, and you'd probably be right. Problem was, these symptoms hit me in a relatively short period of time (a month and a half). At my advanced age, you need to pay attention to these things, especially when stuff happens relatively quickly.

The doctor ordered all sorts of blood tests, then started talking about what it could be. What smacked me in the face the hardest was when he casually mentioned hormone replacement therapy (HRT), specifically human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone. This is like USPS/SoCal Masters-level shit, and something I want no part of unless it's absolutely medically necessary (life-threatening). He rattled off all…

Gotta Work On That.

I was scrolling through the titles of previous blog entries, and I noticed that on the surface they were overwhelmingly negative in nature.

In one sense, this is odd. Cycling is just an overwhelmingly positive pursuit in so many ways. For me, it's provided an escape from stress, stripped a non-inconsequential amount of fat off of my carcass, and gave me an outlet for my sociopathic tendencies that didn't revolve around someone getting the hose again if it didn't rub the lotion on its skin. These are generally good things, especially when I'm in the market for a new skin suit. 

Still, it makes sense because at heart I'm a negative bastard.

I'll own that, but it's probably something I should work on. Even when the post is about something positive in nature, my inclination is to caption it with something negative. Usually that just reflects my dark, sarcastic sense of humor rather than a negative view of the subject matter. My usual take is, "these things ar…

I'll Get Around To It Eventually.

I'm a bad procrastinator. 

Right now I have a whole lot of bike building projects, representing thousands of dollars of my children's future earnings, sitting in piles in the garage waiting to be bolted on a bike. Some of them are small refinements that would be relatively easy to complete. Some of them are more involved undertakings that would require several hours to complete.

As they are mostly additions or modifications to an existing bike, they do not exist in a vacuum. Once I start turning the wrench, I have to deal with all of the other issues on that particular bike. Cables, bar tape, brake pads, bottom brackets, chains... all of these little tasks add up to at least a couple hours of dedicated effort.

Problem is, finding that uninterrupted time to turn wrenches can be difficult. Don't get me wrong, I waste a lot of time during the day. I'm doing it right now. I take naps, lay around on the couch, watch mindless TV, and play more Boom Beach on my iPhone than I sh…

How Do I Know?

It's like extra-sensory perception, granted only to those who have truly devoted their lives to the art. This zen-like state took years to develop, allowing me to truly see things as they really are. Mere mortals are sometimes taken aback at my powers, but that's my cross to bear. With great power comes great responsibility.

How else would I know when the trainer towel has gone a few too many weeks between washing? I mean, there are the deep fjords the salt glaciers embedded in it carve across my forehead as I attempt to sop up the sweat. This is no ordinary sweat, as it is comprised of decades of bad choices, shame, and expensive electrolyte drinks. It would likely eat through the Storck's aluminum frame upon contact, but for my sopping skills with an overpriced camp towel from REI. I bought it during the Tour of Fairbanks a couple years back, when I realized I had forgotten one. I realized no big-box store towel was going to cut the mustard. I needed something excessively…

The Sound of Failure.

I work in a small cubicle farm with a bunch of other middle-management types, doing the administrivia that keeps the lights on, prevents the building from falling down, and keeps all of the special little snowflakes more or less in line with a million different (and often conflicting) regulations. If we do our jobs and deal with the mundane, the people above us with actual functioning brains can think their big thoughts and devise new things for us to figure out how to implement. 

The cubicle walls are too high to see over, so they provide the illusion of an office without the actual privacy of one. We all know what the guy on the other side of the wall is doing.

When I open the wrapper of a 1.76oz belVita Cinnamon Brown Sugar 230 calorie breakfast biscuit package, the guy in the next cubicle pipes up with, "is that the sound of failure I hear?" To be fair, I couldn't tell the sonic difference between opening a .76oz belVita Cinnamon Brown Sugar 230 calorie breakfast biscu…

Ratty Old Kit.

As anyone who has been in my garage can tell you, I don't throw away much. Random pieces of long discarded junk are kept on the off chance I might need them one day. I very, very rarely do, but both of my parents come from farming families and I guess they passed on their dislike for society's disposable culture. You fix what you can instead of buying a new one. I wish they would have passed on their thriftiness instead. I fix what I can and then buy a new one.

This hoarding of old stuff extends to my cycling kit. I have two large bins of kit under my desk full of kit I don't wear. 

Some of it is too big, but I'm afraid to throw it away in case I one day find myself obese again. It's a very real fear for me, and keeping barn door-sized bibs around can be a powerful reminder of what once was.

Some of it is gawd-awful ugly, fished out of a bargain bin, worn a handful of times, and then set aside. Might need that stuff for trainer kit one day, if I ever lose my remaining…

Ruined.

When I married my wife, she thought the best steaks came from Applebee's. I kid you not. I could only stand so much of that sort of microwaved cuisine, so I decided to take her to better restaurants to educate her palate a bit. Big mistake. She now prefers restaurants with cloth tablecloths and wait-staff not ranked by how many pieces of flair are on their uniforms. My cheap date quickly depleted my savings, and now my great-grandchildren will be paying off the bills from our dinner dates.

For Valentines Day, we're eating at one of the upscale steak-cuteries (I just made that a word) in town. The kids aren't invited, even though they will be footing the bill. We're going to eat very well, and chances are we're going to drink very well. We're going to sit and talk like adults, and try to enjoy every single moment of the experience (with the exception of the bill part).

I have nobody but myself to blame. I could have gotten away with a "2 fer $20" meal d…

Limited.

Since the flu hit, I have 15 or 20 minutes of power before everything shuts down and I limp towards the end of my workout.

I've tried metering it out to extend it to the full workout, but the results are the same. 20 minutes of decent and 40 minutes of pitiful flailing. 

To be honest, I'm surprised I have that 20 minutes in me. Recently I just shuffle around like an old man, always keeping an eye out for a nice place to sit and maybe catch a nap. 

Peaking, I ain't. 

Even with the less than awe-inspiring wattage displays, I am happy to be moving again. I'm always terrified when I have a break from the bike, as if a couple days will undo years of compulsion. Still, it wasn't so long ago (relatively speaking) that I had to inhale sharply and hold my breath to tie my shoes. I still remember that guy. He still lingers around my midsection, waiting for his chance to pounce like an obese panther, fangs dripping with Twinkie innards.

20 minutes of power puts a little more dist…

Stealing Others' Creative Efforts.

The other day I would have shot milk out of my nose, that is if I drank milk and if my nose wasn't already clogged. 

I belong to a group on Facebook relating to Zwift. It's not the main Zwift Facebook group, but rather a closed group that allows people to vent about the inane comments and attitudes in the main group (e.g. consistently misspelling Zwift as Swift). It's sarcastic, offensive, and appealing to a douchebag like me. I've stopped following the main Zwift group, because I get the Cliffnotes version of the original comments and then commentary that would get people banned from the main group. Win-win.

One of the members has a podcast, and asked the venting group for questions to ask members of the Cannondale-Drapac professional cycling team. He knew good and well what he was going to get. I've cherry-picked some of the responses below, so I don't have to do any actual writing for this post: Will anyone be asking Cannondale riders why they ride Cannondales …

Following the Plan.

As promised, at the first glimmer of recovery I jumped on the bike and tried to reverse any progress thus far.

It actually didn't go horribly.

Thanks to days of accumulated cold medications and a three foot layer of phlegm lining my noggin, I was pretty muted, pedaling away in a mental fog. I couldn't push that hard, but even when I tried it felt the same as it did when I was going easy- meh. It was like the nerves were clogged with snot too.

After three days of inactivity, it was nice to do something again. I'm going to slowly build back up to a decent level and see if I can dodge stray germs for the rest of the winter. A little bug can knock you down quite a bit.

Getting sick also means I eat a lot, so I have to get that under control. The double whammy of inactivity and increased caloric intake can kill any hopes of attaining that climber's physique that women seem to be repelled by. If things keep going the way they are, I might have to lower my weight loss expectation…

Whack!

Friday morning there was a rawness to my throat. I knew what that meant, even before my nose started running. Saturday morning brought a steady drip like a broken faucet. Sunday dawned with the same, only more so. Power levels and heart rate on the bike showed my body was fighting something, and had little energy left to spin the pedals. Sunday night the aches and chills started. Maybe this wasn't a case of the sniffles after all.

I got on the bike Monday morning, ready to bang out an easy ride to herald the arrival of recovery week. I got off an hour later, drenched in sweat and barely able to walk. I went to work, then came home a few hours later after spending a good bit of time suffering though chills with my forehead on my desk.

Tuesday I doubled up, except I didn't bother with the bike.

Wednesday morning I went to the doctor, who called me an idiot (and Typhoid Mary). Then she loaded me up with pills and sent me home for a couple days.

I think the vaccine they shot into my a…

Just When All Hope Was Lost...

Last week I wrote about how traffic had fallen off, as the French porn bots lost their reddit-inspired interest in this blog. 

Then I noticed a spike in traffic as reddit again provided me with a whole new crop of "possibly human" readers. This time it was actual roadies (or at least I think they're roadies), and I'm all giggly that they've decided to convey upon me the title of "Fred". I'm not sophisticated enough to understand the reference, but I'm sure it's good, right? They seem to like referring to dentists as Freds. The dentists I know make a shit-ton of money, so fuck it. Where do I sign up to be a Fred? Is the team kit made by Rapha?

The point of this new reddit thread is to find the Fredliest (I think that's a word. I'll have to ask a dentist.) thing I've written in this blog. The best they've come up with is shit about Rapha caps and Zwift. Pitiful. There's far worse dreck here if you're willing to wade throu…

What Did I Miss?

I heard something about a big sporting event happening Sunday. Roubaix and Flanders are still a ways off. I checked all of the usual reputable online sports news outlets. Skiracing.com, cyclingnews.com, velonews.com...  Nothing. Weird. Everyone was all jazzed up about something or another, and I had no idea what they were talking about.

Confused, I went skiing with the Mighty Mites. Blue-bird day. Soft snow. All sorts of terrain open. Almost nobody at the mountain. It was awesome. I got to make run after run in the afternoon with my daughter, something I haven't gotten to do a lot of this year. She skied my legs off in the best possible way. We got to spend quality time that I'll cherish for the rest of my life.

Still, I guess I missed something a lot of people consider important. Something they feel is better than awesome visibility and soft snow on a winter day, set to the soundtrack of a ten year old girl's giggle. 

I'm not sure what that could be, but then again, I…

You've Gone This Far, So...

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A couple weeks ago I wrote about my impulsive purchase of a SRAM S700 10-speed hydraulic disc brake groupset. I had no use for it, because every one of my bikes have rim brakes. However, now that Tom Boonen has started using disc brakes, I realized I had to step up my game a bit. With his retirement looming, it won't be long before Tommeke lines up in the Arctic Bike Club Road Division Masters 45+ field. I have to be ready. Sure, Boonen is only 36, but I need the time for testing and refining. All that marginal gains stuff.

Actually, I was just wanting a bike that would actually stop on wet descents of Potter Valley and other climbs in the area. Permanently white knuckles from my death grip isn't a look that works for me. I have to consider my potential future career as a hand model. I gots to pay for bike parts somehow.

After my experiences in Mississippi with my Russian titanium frame, I knew that was the frame material for this project. Durable, easy to clean, compliant, with…

Nothing To See Here.

I think the French porn-bots are starting to lose interest in me. The number of unique hits on this blog are starting to wane slightly, as if endless whining about my mediocre performance, unnecessary bike parts purchases, and the extremely small Southcentral Alaska road racing scene didn't make for universally compelling reading. I don't get it.

I probably should get back on Reddit and loudly proclaim my dislike for a random region of this country. That's how this sustained traffic spike all started. Doesn't matter who I piss off, as long as they push the traffic numbers up. Nothing drives reader volume like internet outrage.

I should be president.

I think I have four or five actual human readers. That number can fluctuate, depending on how much I post on internet bike forums. My signature line is a link to this blog, and occasionally a person will accidentally click on it instead of the Viagra ad they were aiming for. Once in a while they'll hang around and read so…

Goals.

This is the time of the year that I used to start thinking about goals. Races I wanted to do well in. Weight I wanted to lose. Numbers I wanted to hit... all those sorts of things.

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about goals anymore. For me, goals are a great thing and a horrible thing. Goals give me something to work towards, but once I reach them I tend to flounder for an extended amount of time. If I fail to reach a goal that I worked diligently towards and felt was firmly in my grasp, I flounder as well.

I could go for a "low hanging fruit" kind of goal, but that only serves to inflate my already healthy sense of superiority.

I could set goals that are unobtainable, but I'm lazy and would lose interest.

I gave up on goals.

So, what I'm left with are just vague hopes for the upcoming season. Nothing concrete, tied down to a date or a specific measurement, but rather wishes that require none of the focus or actual work like chasing goals does.

2017 Hopes
I hope I…