Posts

Showing posts from October, 2017

Powderpuff.

I'm surrounded by bad-asses.

You have your elite-level bad-asses, and their bad-assitude is just generally an accepted fact. You understand that you're in the presence of demigods, and feel grateful for the association. They go out and do the bad-ass things required to reach their bad-ass goals, aided by their bad-ass genetics and a lifetime of bad-ass experiences. That's just what they do.

I could never be on that level. Even at my physical peak, my muscles could never twitch that way. Genetically I'm just not made up of the same stuff. I've come to accept that the only way I'm superior to anyone, and I do mean anyone, else is in my level of delusion. It can be a powerful driver for performance, as long as it doesn't run smack up against actual potential, at which time reality starts to create cracks in the delusion.

Still, a hard-headed willful ignorance of inadequacies is my main asset, so I leverage the piss out of it. I'd like to believe that I can sl…

Yeah, About That.

People in Anchorage probably noticed my posts were about a week late, since they indicated I was riding on dry pavement last week. We had our first snow of the year in town on the 21st, and it ended up being slick enough that most drivers shouldn't have been on the pavement, let alone skinny tire-riding, lycra-wearing fat guys. People forget how to deal with it. The first snow of the year is always like that.

Don't get me wrong, I've ridden on streets like this before, gingerly cruising around, not making any sudden movements. I can't risk it this year. The wrong fall could knock me off the bike for another stretch. I don't want that.

Instead, it's back to Zwift. Right now I'm trying to troubleshoot the ANT+ dropouts I'm getting from my power meter. Unfortunately, ANT+ runs in the exact same frequency range as every other wireless consumer electronic device ever made, so anything from a cordless phone to the neighbor's garage door opener could be the …

At a Certain Point.

Sooner or later you have to throw in the towel. You've had enough abuse. The aches and pains pile on top of each other. It isn't fun anymore. The risk/reward calculation just doesn't add up. Taking a fall could have consequences extending far into the future. You have to quit and move onto something else.

Sooner or later, I have to give up and go back to the trainer.

Looks like sooner it is. The temperatures dropped too quickly, over twenty degrees in the space of a couple days. The windshield is crusted over every morning. Puddles are staying frozen well into the day. The ground is getting colder too, so that the chances of any on-road moisture being ice is greatly increased.

I could finish my disc gravel road bike. The wider tires would likely help. I could dig out the 700x42c studded tires I bought years ago for my "monstercross" bike and rode a grand total of four times. I could add layer upon layer, digging deep into my vast collection of cycling kit for insula…

Ummmm... No.

Knee warmers weren't going to cut it. The leg warmers were called into play. A merino wool base layer went under the jersey, and the soft shell jacket topped it off. Thick wool socks on the feet.

It wasn't enough.

The ambient temperature was in the high 30s. Since it was relatively clear, I thought I could hack it. I forgot about windchill. I forgot that I had been softened not only by two months of not riding, but also a whole summer of relatively warm temperatures. I just plain forgot.

It didn't take me long to remember.

I figured I would warm up as I rode. At first, it seemed like I was right. Parts of me settled into a tolerable state, while others never really got with the program. Chief among these was my right hip. Clad only in a thin lycra shell, it protested loudly, especially when I turned into the wind. This wasn't going to work.

After only a half hour of riding, I was in my car and driving home, my hip cursing me as the car's heater slowly thawed it.

When I g…

Psyche!

I packed my bag of kit and threw my bike on the car, just like I'd done pretty much every other day since I started riding. I made sure to ask the wife if I had any scheduling conflicts that might conflict with riding after work, and upon receiving the verbal go-ahead set about planning my day.

I pushed through my list of projects, and was on the last one when she called. She didn't feel well and I needed to pick up the kids. Suddenly my day just got longer. I let it slide, because I had ridden for two straight days and really needed a rest day. Extreme performance like I've been exhibiting requires periodic taper periods to keep the finely-tuned engine firing at peak efficiency. Fine, no bike for me. This was especially painful as I walked out into a beautiful (if chilly) fall day. I picked up the kids, drove home, and buried my face in a five pound bag of pretzels.

The next day I asked again, and was told I would be picking up the kids (again). I decided I was sufficiently…

Dry Is Better.

Wet, greasy leaves suck.

This time of year they're pretty much a fact of life on the bike trails. With this in mind, I've been doing just about everything I can to avoid riding on bike paths with any sort of tree coverage as much as I can. I'm pretty sure what a fall would do to me right now if I hit wrong, given my semi-fragile state. What I don't know is what it would so to my mental game, which at this stage is more important. I don't want to take the risk. I avoid the leaves.

However, often I just can't help but ride through the wet, rotting remains that have been squished into the pavement. I try to stay loose and keep my movements measured and gradual until I'm past the danger. I slow down. A lot.

After two days of clear weather, something magical happened. The evil, slippery mass of decaying organic matter was replaced with the dry, crackling leaves of my youth. I didn't have to worry about slamming my hip, collarbone, and head into the tarmac. I co…

One Day Became Two.

There's this tree in my neighbor's yard.

I'm not a fan.

The roots run under my lawn, just below the surface, killing any chance of decent-looking grass. That's not the reason I don't like it. I really am not all that into lawn care. As long as I'm not kicking up rabbits, I figure it's manicured enough.

No, the real reason I don't like this tree is that it dumps leaves that I and the next couple houses have to rake up. If you don't, they kill the lawn you don't really care about. It's not even the leaves themselves, but rather what they represent- the end of the riding season. When this tree drops, chances are your already dwindling number of riding days can be measured on your fingers, your toes in a particularly dry fall.

This weekend the tree dropped. It had been slowly shedding leaves for a week or two, but this was a mass exodus. The entrails were spread down the street. The message was blunt and to the point. Message received.

Unfortunately,…

Gotta Admit, It Seems To Be Working.

After my abortive attempt to get on the bike a month after I plowed into the pavement, I wasn't so sure getting back on the bike was such a good idea. A lot of that was mental, but I have to pay at least a little attention to my self-preservation instincts. That first attempt probably knocked my physical recovery back a couple weeks and did even more damage to my mental recovery. I was just getting to the point where I could fake a passable "normal" walk for a good portion of the day. I developed this talent so people wouldn't stop me in the hall and ask when my surgery date was or just wince when they caught sight of my shambling gait.

Even after I got back on the bike, my brain kept telling me it was too early. I ignored it, because my brain was also telling my mouth to spout off at inappropriate times and dwelling over negative thoughts for far too long. I realized that brains are stupid. I needed my outlet back, so I kept pressing on through the negativity until i…

Closing In On Me.

I knew it was going to happen eventually. I just didn't want it to happen so soon.

We're getting down to the last few, precious days of fall. The way weather's been going the last few years, we could have a couple weeks more of road riding- but I'm not counting on it. The snow has been creeping down the hills. The rain has gotten colder. The furnace cycles more often these days, despite my current battles with my wife over what constitutes "comfortable". It's coming.

Trainer season.

This year I didn't get a chance to burn myself out before the snow came. My longest rides have been around two hours. Any more than that and I feel it for days.

To be honest, trainer season will probably be good for me. It's a time of schedules and discipline. Getting up early and sweating. Starting the day with an endorphin rush. Once I'm in the rhythm, it kinda sustains itself. Then again, the trick is finding that groove.

I'd rather be on the road right now. Desp…

Longer Than Expected.

Today I rode the trainer for the first time in quite a while.

Yesterday I was fighting the wind on the Seward (and losing), but it was a rather nice day and I wasn't complaining.

Today it was raining and my whole body ached (because I'm old). I decided to get on the trainer and do an hour of Zwift.

To prep for this, I had built up the Storck and fired up the trainer dungeon computer, updating Windows about five or six times in the last week. I had logged on to Zwift, downloading the latest updates to make sure I wasn't delayed when I finally got around to sweating in place.

Today I fired up the computer and there was yet another update for Windows. No big deal, right? After all, I had updated several times before. Nope, this one took two hours. Two hours of me periodically checking to see if it was done yet. Two hours of the percentage clicking up to complete, a restart, and then another completion percentage.

It was 8:30 PM before I finally got on the trainer. On the bright si…

Give Me A Break, Already.

Yesterday was a good day.

The sky was clear, the winds weren't bad, the roads were dry, and the air was crisp. It was a perfect fall day for riding. Really, it was the kind of day that makes you glad to be riding a bike.

I felt like a cyclist. I did things automatically for the first time in months. Actions just clicked. I didn't miss a clip-in or have to remind myself to loosen up. Simple stuff that I was fumbling with excessively after the layoff. It all came naturally. Amazing what a good day will do for you.

As soon as I got in my car, I noticed a smattering of raindrops on the windshield. Hmmm. It continued all the way home- just enough to be annoying but not so much that the wipers could do anything more than smear them across the glass.

I started making burgers to throw on the grill, because the wife told me I had to. When I tried to preheat it, the temperature stayed below 100. It started to rain harder. The kids were hungry and whining. The wife was hangry. The tank was n…

Hello Old Friend.

I was at the weigh station when he snuck up on me.

I was lost in the trance-like state of a steady effort, and suddenly there he was. He just eased up effortlessly and slapped me on the head to announce his presence. I hadn't seen him much recently. He's usually out all of the time during the spring, then progressively he seems to lose enthusiasm as the weather warms. Once in a while he'll come out just to remind you who's boss and re-establish the pecking order, only to disappear again. With my recent layoff, I briefly thought our friendship had soured, yet there he was, full of bluster and confidence. He knew he could beat me.

"Hello, headwind."

I once read that a cyclist should always feel a headwind when riding. If you don't, you aren't pushing hard enough. Tailwinds are just a mechanism for going faster, not easier. There should always be something pushing you back and trying to slow you down, because resistance is the key to improvement.

Headwinds a…

The Growth.

I've begun to think of the mass of scar tissue and assorted junk on my hip as a cancerous tumor.

It latches onto my thigh muscles, hobbling me periodically until I limp along like Walter Brennan in an old Western. Its tendrils reach out until they lock up my lower back, necessitating extensive stretching to snap the hold it has over the region. The tight know wraps itself around nerve clusters, which scream in sharp agony in the middle of the night when I happen to roll over wrong. It weakens what has historically been my stronger leg, making my already ragged pedal stroke an ugly sight to behold. It's kept me from pursuing mood-leveling activities and resulted in me saying things to the wrong people that I would have self-edited before.

Yeah, it's pure evil. It's not anywhere as bad as actual cancer, but its way of affecting my quality of life has cause me to lump it into the "bad shit I wouldn't wish on anyone" category.

The cure seems to be the same thing…

Excuses, Excuses.

Any old excuse will do.

Normally I will jump at any excuse to ride. It's sunny. It's partially cloudy. It's rainy, but not too rainy. It's rainy, but it may stop. It won't stop, but one day you'll regret missing out on an opportunity to ride. Even when it's not in my best interests, I'll still look for a way to ride. Unless I'm dead tired or the heavens conspire to keep me off the bike, I will usually ride.

Lately, I've been finding a lot of excuses to avoid riding. It's windy. It's overcast and it might rain. It's raining. I'm achy. I'm tired. I forgot my heart rate strap (as if that matters). My tires are too flat. My tires are overfilled. I broke my shifter. My shifters work fine...

I'd like to get back to finding excuses to ride, and that means working past all of the excuses not to. When it comes down to it, I rarely get home from a ride and think I should have skipped it and gone to bed. I have to remind myself of that…

Not my Best.

While the ti bike was awaiting its shifterectomy, I rode the Madone 5.2 Pro. The weather was nice enough, so I didn't feel too bad about taking it out and flogging it. It wasn't like I was going to twist the carbon molecules' structure with my quads of steel.

I decided to head out to the Hillside to do a little climbing. By a little, I mean just that. Most of my riding has been on long, shallow grinds or short, punchy hills. Nothing you'd really call "climbing"... unless you were as fat and out of shape as I am.

As I got to the bike path I use as a connector to avoid major roads, I was greeted with a "trail closed" sign. It wasn't closed for trail repairs, because that had been completed months ago. No, it was closed because they were building a new gas station at the top of the hill.

As far as gas stations go, I usually don't think about them much. However, this one has me puzzled. I think it's being built by the Fred Meyers across the str…

Clickity-Snapity.

I was cruising at around 30 MPH, which isn't at all hard on the gradual descent on Eagle River Loop Road if you pedal once or twice. The gears were shifted as far they would go, in this case a 52-11. As I reached the bridge at the bottom, I continued pedaling steadily and flicked the paddle on my right shifter to shed a few cogs. Instead of the normal clickity-clickity as the rear derailleur moved up the cassette a couple gears, I was greeted with silence and a paddle that just kinda stuck out there. "Hmmm. That's not good." I pushed it back and tried again, and it separated, bounced off my knee, and skittered across the pavement. If shifter paddles had middle fingers, I think they would have been on display as it arced through the air.

My speed was rapidly decreasing as the hill kicked upwards, despite all of my 57 watts of peak power being brought to bear. Left with two choices (one of them being stopping), I shifted to the 36 in front and ground the rest of the way…

A Hard Habit To Make.

I just can't get into a rhythm.

The way the rain and sun have been alternating recently really have thrown me for a loop. My riding habits are the disjointed cycling equivalent of a white guy trying to dance to a song in 7/8 time. After a few jerky movements, I just rock back and forth and bob my head so hopefully nobody notices that I'm not up to the task at hand.

I work in a building that has no windows. If I want to know how the weather is outside, I have to look at the security cameras, ask someone who just came in, or venture out myself. If I ask someone else, their opinion of what "rain" is can vary widely.

When I hear, "it's raining", I immediately start to ache and look for excuses not to ride. Sometimes I suit up anyway and grimly shuffle out into the cold downpour. Other times I pack it in based on hearsay, leave the kit in the gym bag, and then stride out to meet clearing skies and drying roads. Then there are the days when I hear, "it'…

Comments.

When I first started tracking my rides about a decade ago with my fancy new Garmin Edge 305, I used to download them into Garmin's desktop application. I'd note the pretty numbers and write long comments about every aspect of the ride.

When it migrated to the interwebs, I kept up with my habit of recording my experiences. I rarely reviewed them, unless it was a race report or some other significant event. Still, just about every ride had a paragraph or more of narrative to accompany the maps and graphs and whatever. My take was that it provided perspective.

When I started training with Janice, I added WKO+ and her calendar spreadsheet. I'd happily download my files with all of their comments from the Garmin application to WKO+ and link the specific Garmin web page on her spreadsheet. Once a month I would send her my WKO+ files so she could track how I was doing over the long term. It was a convoluted process, but Janice appreciated my bitter, sarcastic sense of humor. Maybe …

FML.

This morning I woke up to the sound of pouring rain. By Anchorage standards, it sounded torrential. By Florida standards, it was a light mist.

After yesterday's gloriousness, a return to cold, soggy riding is like a punch in the gut.

Still, I packed up my kit and threw the bike on top of the car. I'm not 100% sure I'll ride after work, but having everything readily at hand eliminates one excuse.

Recreating my compulsion to ride that bordered on serious addiction is harder than I though it would be. The rain isn't helping at all. I take one look at the drops falling from the sky and my whole body aches. Part of the fun of getting old, I guess.

The other day I started putting together the Storck for the trainer. I was adjusting the rear derailleur when I realized I had cut the chain one link too short. It's not a huge deal, and I have a few options to rectify the situation. Instead, I quietly put down my tools and walked away. I'll fix it the next day I take off from…

Finally Fall?

Note: I've been preloading blog entries a bit in case I have another "setback", so this one's about a week old. Still pretty much sums up where I was at that moment in my recovery.
____________________________________________________________________________
Fall in south central Alaska is usually a dry and progressively chillier affair.

The rainy season is over by mid-August, and the skies clear as the temperatures drop.

Not this year.

This year September has been rainy. Excessively so. Chilly, miserable rain that kills your enthusiasm. Even the mountain bike guys are feeling it, as the trails turn in bottomless muck. The 'cross guys are loving it, but they're all drunk.

Today I walked out into blue skies. I jumped on the bike and had my longest ride since I started riding again. I would have ridden longer, but my schedule wouldn't permit it. I was having a blast, or as much of a blast as my body would tolerate in its current condition.

It was glorious.

For the …

The Bright Side.

When I returned from Mississippi, I was cresting a late-season peak that I had never seen before. The countless hours riding the flat expanses of the Gulf Coast in the heat and humidity pushed the Training Peaks numbers up and up. Upon my return, they dropped steadily until mid-February.

On a normal year, my numbers level out by mid-December, as the longer hours on the road give way to the shorter, more intense hours on the trainer. Then the numbers begin their steady climb towards the road season. That's the way it's always been for me.

The drawn-out decline and delayed rebound probably had more of a mental than a physical influence on me. I was hitting numbers in the neighborhood of what I normally hit at that time of the year (until the plague took my legs out), but that delay probably was a de-motivator for me. You crank and crank until your eyes bleed, and if you're lucky the graphs flat-line. If you're not, they dip even further. It doesn't matter that you'…