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Showing posts from April, 2017

Scrubbing.

After a couple days riding over snowmelt and dirty roads, the titanium road bike was filthy. No fenders meant it was pretty much uniformly crusty.

I dragged out all of my bike washing stuff and prepared for the long haul, but the bike was pretty clean after the first blast from the hose. A little brush here and a little wipe there, and it was in better shape than I initially planned.

God, I really like this bike.

My carbon bikes get dirty before I pull out of the driveway, and their shiny paint always highlights when the wash job wasn't 100% comprehensive. It rarely get to 75%, so the result is my bikes always look kinda disreputable when sitting next to other bikes. Actually, other bikes shy away when we approach, to avoid catching whatever my bikes appear to have. That may explain why I win so rarely- the extra drive to avoid my bikes propels the competition forward. Funk doping! Call USADA's doping hotline!

It doesn't take much to make the ti bike look decent. I appreciate …

Cheating Yourself.

"We knew that we had to be at the front for that last corner. I tried but I messed it up with visual judgment at the car deviation. I thought we kept going straight for another block, so Pinot got a good jump and then there was no time to come around him," Bookwalter explained, his anger fading to regret as the adrenaline of the sprint eased.-Cyclingnews    ___________________________________________________________ This quote hit me squarely between the eyes. It's the "anger fading to regret as the adrenaline of the sprint eased" bit that rang so true with me, because I've been there. Usually a lot of profanity colored the air before I withdrew into a dark cave of self-loathing. It's one thing to not have that extra needed to contest for the win. I've watched the winners ride away and observed the finish play out from behind far more than I'd like to admit. Sometimes (most of the time) you don't have it. Somebody is stronger. Usually a whole l…

Fenders.

Since I ride in the rain more often than some people, I try to at least make some adaptations so that I'm not completely miserable while I'm out there. Jackets, cycling caps, shoe covers... I'm going to get wet eventually, but I try to delay it a bit and make sure that once I do I'm not chilled to the bone. I've done enough of those rides.

At the top of my list of "must-haves" is a decent set of fenders. Unfortunately, the majority of my bikes don't allow "full-coverage" fenders because of tire and caliper brake clearance, so usually I just settle for "kinda-sorta, mostly covered-ish" fenders. I opt for the temporary mount style, held on by a couple rubber straps, because most race-oriented bikes don't have the mounts for more stable/long-term mounting. They slip out of alignment every ride, and are usually jettisoned as soon as the roads are mostly dry. Again, they're a compromise.

The gravel bike, unlike the vast majority o…

"Inside!"

Lately I've been in a discussion board thread about racers, mainly lower-level Cat 4/5s, yelling "INSIDE! INSIDE!" in crits, then expecting everyone to get out of their way because their own bad choices put them in a dangerous spot.

Here's my take:
I tell new racers to let me know when they get trapped on the inside of a turn. I like to be aware of things going on around me, especially things coming up fast behind me. I'm focused on the turn ahead of me, hitting the apex and giving the riders around me adequate room, so if I miss the fact that you tried to take an impossible line behind me that will result in you A.) braking or B.) t-boning the rider ahead of you, I'd like to know. Everyone gets caught inside once in a while. Let's all communicate so we can keep our skin.

That said, if you're finding yourself letting everyone know that you're on the "INSIDE!" more than once or twice, the problem is most likely you and I will be less enthuse…

Opted Out

As I expected, I didn't line up for the first race of the year. I just wasn't comfortable with the way I was recovering from the death bug, so I sat it out.

I usually do the first race of the season, traditionally a Moose Run time trial. It's usually my first indication of how much my off-season preparation is going to translate into early season results. It's by no means scientific, as a lot of things can skew the results.

Last year was a warm spring, and the snow was long gone, the temperatures mild, and the roads were clear. We'd all been on the road for weeks by the time the first race happened, so everyone was at a higher level than normally is the case in April. I pulled off a personal best for the course, despite being in mid-training burnout. The rest of the season was less stellar, with a podium at the Spring Stage Race and a Tour of Fairbanks crit win being the only other highlights.

The rest of the season was marked by wrecks and motivational problems. Eve…

The Six Hundred.

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred
 -Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Charge Of The Light Brigade
____________________________________________________________________________ What you are now reading is the six hundredth blog post I've written. Each and every one has been a certified literary gem, encompassing the entire spectrum of human experience in bite-sized form for consumption by Micronesian fishermen and French porn bots. A worthy endeavor, indeed. Mainly what it's been is a test of endurance. Most blogs don't make it to 60 entries before the writer realizes that the medium is dead and moves onto more important things, like sorting socks or scooping the thawing dog poop in their back yard. You have to be an ego-centric fucktard to make it past 100 entries, especially when your average entry doesn't chronicle interesting events or innovations but instead is just nominally about a sport that nobody particip…

Almost Normal.

The power was decent. The heart rate was more or less right where it should have been. The sweating, while still profuse, wasn't out of the ordinary.

Terrified at this new turn of events, I immediately backed off and rode easy. I wasn't falling into this trap again. Feeling even a little bit good is just a sure sign that very bad things are about to happen.

I'm still not close to where I would have been if I hadn't gotten sick. However, this was a large jump from where I was only a few days ago.

I'm not sure why I felt better. Despite the three year old climbing in bed with us and forcing me to the edge in the middle of the night, I slept fairly decent. I've been backing off the cold medication a bunch, which may explain part of it. I'm not as stuffed up in the mornings. My coughing fits aren't measured in minutes anymore, and I don't involuntarily fall to my knees when they hit. All of the symptoms are still there, but they're now at mere plague-l…

Marginal Gains.

Nope, not some British asshole's idea of a good way to cover up systematic abuses of the TUE system. I mean marginal improvements in performance from a more or less legit source- getting over an ass-kicking illness.

I've been sick a bunch of times. Hell, my appendix went all jihadist and blew itself up all over my insides. I've broken, shredded, or dented myself a couple times, and my patient zero children have kept my immune system on its toes over the years. All that said, this has to be one of the top-five debilitating illnesses I've ever experienced. Usually I just go turtle for a couple days and bounce back. This time I wasn't so lucky. This time I pretty much wrecked myself.

Unlike the collar bone, where I was pretty much structurally unsound and resigned to healing, the body was still in shape after the initial hit. I just had nothing to give it. I still don't, and every day I get a little more worried about the fitness that might have drained out with the…

On the Back Foot.

The titanium gravel bike hasn't been touched in three weeks. The bones are all tacked together, but the time-consuming stuff hasn't been touched. It's hanging from the ceiling of the garage, waiting for me to do something. Anything.

The race bike is sitting on the bike stand, waiting for me to install the new stem and handlebars so it will be magically transformed into an aerodynamic marvel capable of creating its own tailwinds. Waiting.

The crit bike is in similar shape, although I'm debating some modifications to the configuration to reflect its intended use.

My old faithful Madone is limping along, but at least the clock isn't ticking on this project. With the titanium road and gravel bikes entering the quiver, I can spare the bike further indignities and return it to respectable condition before I heap more abuse on it. It's a nice bike, and it deserves better.

The time trial bike and titanium road bike are in pretty decent shape, which buys me a little time. T…

Road to Recovery.

Last night wasn't uninterrupted sleep, but it was better than the recent average. I made it to 3:30AM before the hacking began, but sorted it out relatively quickly and got back to bed. I drifted off, and before I knew it the alarm was telling me I should get up and on the bike. I'd be lying if I didn't admit there was a significant amount of internal debate and snooze button whacking, but eventually I got up and slowly got ready. After last time, there was a significant amount of trepidation involved.

The pedals still turned. My heart rate, while too high for the wattage involved, never indicated a heart condition. I hacked and sniffled a bit, but I kept going. No puking. One sprint effort was enough to tell me it probably wasn't in the cards just yet. Pedal, pedal, pedal...

As soon as I got off, the coughing started. The nose started flowing. It took a while before it subsided, but eventually it did. On the whole, I felt no worse than when I got on the bike.

Progress.

Th…

Don't Jinx It.

Unlike every morning during the past three weeks, I didn't wake up to violent coughing. My eyes opened, and I glanced over at the clock to see it was three minutes before the alarm was set to go off. My sinuses were open and clear. My throat wasn't coated with slime. Everything felt perfectly normal. I had hit the mix of drugs just right the night before, and I slept for a solid seven hours. Too bad I can't remember what or how much I took. I just grabbed a handful of pills and washed it down with some Guaifenesin/Codeine syrup. It worked. I slept for the first time in weeks.

I had kit all laid out, ready for me to get on the bike and puke some more. I opted out. I didn't want to move. Movement would break the spell. I wanted to savor the sensation of normalcy. I hit the snooze button. A lot.

Finally my ageing bladder compelled me to move. Immediately I started hacking up a lung. My sinuses filled with thick goop. It took me 30 minutes to clear it enough to get ready for…

Five Steps Back.

I thought I had turned a corner the last time I had gotten on the trainer. I had gotten three or four hours of continuous sleep before the hacking and gagging began again. My whisper of a voice had improved to a raspy croak.

The trainer told me I was still recovering, but I was happy to be doing anything related to a bike.

That night I paid for it. The plague hit me full-force, and I felt like I had been pummeled with baseball bats by the time dawn rolled around.

I went to the doctor, and he gave me a whole new set of pills and nasty concoctions that managed to let me sleep a few hours at a stretch.

What did I do? I got back on the trainer.

Thirty minutes and three pukes later, I admitted my folly. This ain't letting go of me anytime soon. My fitness is likely wasted, but I won't know the extent until I can turn over the pedals without vomiting. Every last bit of energy I have is dedicated to fighting this bug, and I think we're losing the war bigly.

I guess it's just as wel…

Don't Know Until You Try.

I hadn't been on the bike in a while. The biggest gap between rides in eight or nine years. The numbers on Training Peaks were tumbling, and there was nothing I could do about it but lean over the trash can or toilet and hack up another lung. My voice has been shredded for four days now, and I can only yell at the kids in whispers. Riding? I was more focused on breathing.

This morning I felt like I might have turned a corner. I felt slightly less crappy. I'd gotten what passes for a good night's sleep these days. It only took an hour to flush the night's accumulation thick, dark phlegm from my head so new goop could take its place. All signs were indicating things were looking up.

I got on the trainer not expecting much. Perhaps in retrospect I set my sights too high. I had nothing. The legs were screaming for me to go, but the lungs were having no part of it. Anything strenuous in the aerobic range was out of the question. My rested legs did have an anaerobic jump or tw…

I Couldn't. I Can't.

I missed a couple blog entries there.

This illness has knocked me down in ways I can't even describe. I haven't ridden my bike, on the trainer or otherwise, for almost two weeks. When I've gone to work, I get sent home or two the doctor for more ineffective drugs. I've basically spent the whole time in bed, hacking up a lung, blowing snot everywhere, or occasionally gushing blood from my nose. Yesterday my voice gave in, and I converse in painful whispers. If I don't take a steady dose of ibuprofen, my body starts to ache and I lose the ability to regulate body temperature.

I've had other things to worry about than writing a new blog entry.

Hopefully I've turned a corner, but I still have a long way to go. Maybe I'll get on the trainer. Maybe I'll wait. I sure as hell am waiting a little longer before riding outside. I want this crap over with yesterday.

My early season is probably shot. Maybe the whole season. I just want to feel normal again.

In the me…

RIP Steve Tilford.

A legend is gone far too soon.

Closed Off.

I stayed off the trainer for a few days and feverishly shivered in bed like a good boy. I took my drugs and got my rest and hydrated.

Monday morning I felt much better, so I got on the bike for an easy spin. Bad mistake. My lungs are so restricted now that I can barely sustain a walking pace. I can sprint, since that's mainly an anaerobic function, but immediately afterwards I'm retching into the trash can. It hurts. It hurts a lot.

My throat is ragged from coughing, and my voice is almost gone. I went to work, but was sent to the hospital and then back home for a couple more days of laying around creating phlegm.

I'm wiped out, and I may not recover for the first race of the year.

It's not the end of the world, although I would rather not watch all of my hard-earned fitness get thrown out with the used tissues. I'm hoping I wake up tomorrow morning and actually feel like a human again. I hope I can start rebuilding soon.

I have plans, and they don't involve lazing …

Not So Fast, Bucko.

The snow and ice was almost gone from the roads, leaving puddles behind as it retreated but also wide stretches of dry pavement. I was planning on making my escape to the outside within the next few days, starting with the occasional short ride before increasing both the duration and frequency. It was going to be glorious.

Then I got crushed.

One of my Mighty Mite kids didn't show up for the last day because he was at home with the flu. I was sorry he didn't get to have fun with us on the hill, but I didn't realize at the time that he had left me something to remember him by. Yep, for the second time this winter I was hit by a strain of influenza that wasn't covered by this year's vaccine. 

And I got hit hard. It started with a violent hacking cough, so intense I barely avoided getting TBIs from nearby furniture and walls on multiple occasions. Then there were the chills and muscle aches that kept me up all night and made it impossible to concentrate on anything. Unfo…