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Showing posts from November, 2017

Oh, That.

Moments before I walked out to the garage to get on the trainer, the youngest ran out of his room and began puking on the kitchen floor. I appreciated his aim, as the carpet has seen its share of abuse over the years from other kids and pets. So, wearing my cycling kit and shoes, I knelt on the floor and cleaned up the mess. He felt better, and climbed into my spot in bed next to my wife.

My start delayed, I jumped right into ignoring my training plan. At about the halfway point, just after a sprint to take a virtual green jersey that means nothing, I started to notice I was sweating a lot more than usual. I pushed on, proud of my newfound ability to make my fat cry. Two-thirds of the way through, it was literally pouring off me in steady streams, and I began to worry. I had already downed a 28oz water bottle, and that almost never happens in under 45 minutes.

Then I noticed my useless SAD light was off, which indicated my fan was off as well because they are on the same power strip. In…

Who Are you People?

The downside of hacking the Zwift world calendar is that when everyone else shows up to your little private world, there's an inflated sense of outrage. You wish you could sit in a virtual rocker and yell at all of the kids on your lawn. How dare they clutter up your own private sanctuary?

I feel the same about cars when I'm out riding in the real world. Illogical, I know, but people can be entitled little creatures. If they like something, even if benefits nobody else, then it should obviously be the norm.

Sufficiently outraged, I wove my way through the virtual global village. I punched it at the same places I do when I'm all alone, and strangely enough, I was slower. Even though I had the benefit of "drafting" and the other riders around me, I just couldn't bring myself to push it any more. Maybe I was cooked, but I think it was mostly mental. I couldn't focus as much as I can when it isn't crowded. I'm always distracted by riders, leaderboards, …

Hacking The World.

I resisted it for a long time. I suffered through it for the most part, occasionally altering my schedule so I could avoid the unpleasantness.

Sunday I finally did something about it.

I hacked the world.

Zwift publishes the course schedule every month. I look with dread at days slated for the London or Richmond courses, which I find mind-numbing. They drain whatever enthusiasm I bring into the trainer dungeon. Still, more often than not, I'd slog through my least-favorite courses, telling myself it would make the Watopia course more special. It would keep it from getting stale.

I was lying to myself.

No matter how many additions to Zwift they make, my enthusiasm's shelf life will always outpace their coding abilities. Let's be honest- it's still the trainer. They could have naked women burst out of the screen every lap and I would still get bored eventually. Man, I am getting old. At this point, a bowl of warm soup and a nap under a blanket in my rocker is more my speed.

I k…

Losing Air.

Friday I felt great, pushing harder for the first time in I don't know how long. It felt incredible, burying myself in an effort like that. After months of steady upward progress, this was the payoff. This was what I wanted.

The next day I was deflated. Burnt out in a most profound way. I slept late into the day, hoping to recover enough to manage some kind of workout. It never happened. I stumbled around aimlessly, not managing much enthusiasm for anything.  Eventually I threw in the towel and went back to bed.

Sunday dawned and I sprung out of bed. No, that's a lie. I'm old, and springing no longer resides in my tool kit. I creaked, popped, and groaned out of bed, but with more vigor than I could muster the previous day. When I got on the trainer, I knocked out some pretty credible numbers. Crisis averted. Ship righted. Full speed ahead. Everything is going to be just fine.

Today I crashed again.

After all this steady progress, I need to back off a little and do an easy week…

Wah.

Last night my wife brought home a four-month old baby.

I'm not going to get into the back-story, because of privacy concerns and the fact it might drive me to homicide. I was already contemplating the very many places Alaska provides to dig a shallow grave, and how the native wildlife can be a real help in disposing of evidence.

It was a one-night affair, while other arrangements were made. I was good with the finite nature of the visit. It was kinda like being a grandparent, or in this case, a great grandparent, because I am old and the mother is very, very, very young.

I gotta admit the kid was pretty cute, and relatively well behaved. Couldn't carry on an intelligent conversation to save his life, but at least he could hold his head up unassisted. He was at that magical age where you could set him down and go out for a beer or two, and a couple hours later he'd still be in exactly the same spot. Not that I would, but it's always nice to have that capability in your bac…

Shivers.

There's an old, long-sleeved, fleece jersey hanging from a hook next to the trainer. One shoulder has a few small holes in it from that time years ago when I was riding the TT bike and went down in some early-season gravel. Sometimes the hook pokes through those holes, making it harder to remove from the bike.

Sometimes, on particularly cold mornings, I'll put it on while I'm warming up on the trainer while the computer boots up and Zwift loads or updates or whatever else needs to be done at the worst possible moment. Five minutes later I'll shed it as I settle in. Five minutes later I'll turn on the fan just before I start to sweat. There have been times where both of these waypoints have been reached before I ever make it onto Zwift.

The jersey doesn't look all that great. It doesn't smell all that great. either. I occasionally use it as a towel to wipe the sweat off my face, then forget to wash it for a couple months. To wash it would likely doom the advan…

Then There's The Downside.

As I mentioned yesterday, my performance numbers keep creeping up.

Unfortunately, they're not alone.

My weight this morning was 15 pounds heavier than it was the day I smacked into the pavement. 15 pounds in less than four months.

Initially I didn't gain any weight. I wasn't burning many calories and I didn't change my eating habits (if it came near my face I was having a few bites), but nothing changed.

One day it started inching up. I wasn't concerned, because it was to be expected. A couple pounds is nothing. It will all go away when I get back on the bike.

When I got back on the bike, the weight kept climbing, which concerned me a bit. I started watching what I ate, which means I opened my eyes and examined the mass quantities before I shoved them in my mouth. It didn't help.

The more intensity I add, the more hours I ride, the more weight I gain. I'm not quite delusional enough to think it's muscle mass. I'm plenty delusional, but not that delusional…

That Was Then, This Is Now.

One year ago today my Chronic Training Load (CTL) was at 100. I was within a week of the end of two and a half months of riding in Mississippi, and was pretty much fried mentally and physically. Towards the end there I was finding it hard to ride the same old roads again and again. Even the new ones pretty much looked like the old ones. Thanks to the fitness base I received from riding 15 to 20 hours a week and the odd spirited group ride, I was in pretty good shape for an old man.

Today my CTL is 50. That sounds horrible, but when I started riding again it was 25. Ever since then I've slowly been rebuilding fitness, and the CTL squiggly line has been pretty much creeping upwards. Progress.

Historically my CTL has been in the 50s and 60s during the trainer season, so in reality I'm approaching where I usually am this time of year, except instead of my numbers dropping off as I shed fitness from the road season I'm getting better.

Last year my numbers dropped steadily for mont…

Tearing It Up.

I overslept.

No, that's bullshit. I woke up when my alarm clock went off, then played with my phone to avoid actually getting out of bed. Then I dragged myself from under the covers, kitted up, grabbed a water bottle and the Garmin, and eventually found my way to the trainer.

When I got there, Zwift announced it had do a little update, which failed. Three times. Then I restarted the computer and application, and it finally went through. Ten minutes after I started pedaling, I finally logged onto Zwift and was riding the fake roads. As I was already warmed up, I pushed a little harder than I had planned. To be honest, I had been pushing harder than planned while waiting for the update to complete. It was 45 minutes before I eased back a bit and tried to do something resembling my planned workout.

When I jumped for a sprint, everything went a little shaky. It felt like the trainer had experienced a major structural failure. Further examination indicated that it had. What follows may be…

Continuous Sleep.

Two nights ago it was a nagging cough that woke me up at 1:00 AM. Fortunately, it didn't repeat itself last night. I have my fingers crossed.

Last night it was the dog. At 2:00 AM I awoke to sounds of whimpering. I walked downstairs to investigate, and there was my Labrador Retriever sitting next to the boys' room, begging to be let in their closed door. I let him outside, and when he came back in he returned to his post outside their door. I went back to bed. An hour later, the whining started again.

This is a fairly large black lab which possesses an impressive bark useful for keeping undesirables away. The quivering mass of whimpers I encountered last night would intimidate absolutely no one. Eventually I gave up and opened the door, because I like sleep.

I like not diving face-first into my desk around noon, when the caffeine and sugar stop holding up their end of the bargain. I guess if I subsisted on nothing but organically-raised whole foods, prepared specifically for ext…

Isn't It A Little Early For That?

Last night I woke up at 1:00 AM, coughing my lungs out.

There were no warning signs. No runny nose or other indicator that anything was amiss. Just a sudden and violent bout of hacking that ruined an otherwise good night of sleep. I did what I could to calm it down, climbed back into bed, and fell back asleep face-down.

5:00 AM came waaaaayyyy too early.

I got on the trainer and managed a respectable workout. I had a few coughs here or there. Mostly sparse singles and doubles. Nothing like the night before.

I still don't know if I'm actually sick. I'm no more tired than I am any other day, which is to say my status quo of walking dead is unchanged. My nose really isn't running. My appetite is fine. Everything is... normal.

Except for the fact that last night really sucked.

It's too early in the year for all of my progress to be erased by the plague. I haven't had a chance to develop any delusions yet. At least give me a chance to dream of regaining some of what was l…

Virtual Half-Wheeling.

In the real world, on club rides, half-wheeling is taboo.

Half wheeling is more or less defined as edging your wheel a bit ahead of the rider beside you, encouraging them to speed up to match or exceed your effort. It's a great way to deconstruct a functioning paceline into its separate parts, then scatter them about the countryside. While this can be fun on competition-oriented rides (especially if you're the last man standing), it's also the fastest way to be dis-invited to rides where consistency is the goal.

In the virtual world of Zwift, it happens all of the time, whether intentional or not.

I'll be pedaling along, staring at my Garmin doing my best impression of Chris Froome, zoned out staring at the pixelated (or is that pixilated- both are applicable) scenery, or futilely trying to stop the rivulets of sweat from searing my eyes, and I'll ride up on someone or they'll ride up on me. Maybe the difference between our respective efforts could be .1 w/kg, bu…

Cruising In Place.

It takes me a while to get used to the trainer. Every year "a while" gets a little longer. Adapting from the constantly changing variables of the road to the more static efforts on the trainer is a mental and physical switch that I have to push through.

Once I get into it, I can get down to work. Before that? I'm just playing. Hours of undisciplined cranking away in the sweat box, re-developing the skill set that's going to get me through the next six months.

Today was one of the first days that I could convince myself to hold any sort of power for any meaningful amount of time. Sprints I can do, because the pain is over quickly. The long, aching grinds are what have been eluding me. I just didn't have the mental or physical toughness for them. If I want to build up my sustained power so I can hang with the group and position myself well for the finish, this is the suck I'm going to have to live in this winter.

I'm not looking forward to it.

What I am looking…

Buckles.

My preferred shoes have two velcro straps and a ratchet at the top. They aren't made anymore. I may have purchased all of the new-old-stock out there in my size and a good portion of the used.

I've tried the boa lacing systems out there, and generally don't like them. Instead of the uniform tensioning the manufacturers promise, they usually result in hot spots for me- probably due to the positioning of the laces.  I have one pair of boas that I like somewhat, but I usually revert back to my favorites.

The only problem with my ratcheting shoes is the buckle breaks on the newer models. Eventually I'll click the lever just a few too many times, and it will snap. The old buckles didn't do it, because they were made of stouter stuff, but eventually the springs would rust out and the lever would flap about as you pedaled. Nothing lasts forever. I'd buy replacements and press on, but eventually that supply will dry up as well.

I guess that's the price of progress.

I g…

Multiples.

In my continuing quest to avoid developing Type VIII diabeetus, I upped my nutritional supplement game. I'd slacked off for a while, after reading a well-balanced diet will provide everything you need. Turns out there's some holes in the Tastee Freeze menu that need to be addressed. Who knew?

I went to the local Target to cruise the vitamin aisle. I grabbed my usual biotics that had lost their amateur status and the mega-dose vitamin D pills, because I haven't seen the sun in months. Then I moved over to the multi-vitamin section to see what they had for me.

I stopped taking multi-vitamins years ago because they never seemed to do much besides tint my pee. However, I decided to give them another chance so I could feel like I was doing something positive for my health in between double cheeseburgers. I'm all about the feels. I bypassed the Centrums and other horse pills, because choking those down every day is a workout in itself and they usually come out the other side u…

The Subtle Shift.

With the seemingly endless pattern of wet-ride/dry-ride/wet-ride, it's been almost impossible to figure out if I'm making any progress. A great, dry day with low winds results in encouraging numbers, only to be followed by a 'meh' day of rain and trudging. I'm not talking about performance exactly, but rather a general positive direction that tells me all is not lost. One day of energy isn't enough for me, because recently it's often followed by a couple days of fatigue. I need a sign.

I might have just gotten one.

It wasn't on the road. It wasn't on the trainer. It wasn't even within 100' of a bike.

It was on the internet.

Today I clicked on a Nashbar ad and browsed for a while, lingering over frames and pouring over descriptions. I haven't done that for months. I don't need anything in particular, and didn't buy anything, but that primal instinct to hunt and gather was rearing its head once again. The urge to add to the parts pile …

Well, That Didn't Work.

I woke my wife up the other morning, which happened to be her birthday.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" she asked groggily.

"Oh. Sorry. Happy Halloween or something."

Unlike my wife, I don't like to be reminded of my birthday, which commemorates my mother's transition from relatively brief, intense pain to the low-burn, chronic pain that has accompanied my time on earth for those in my general vicinity. Every time I looped around the sun, people would wish me happiness on that particular day, with the implication the other 364 would be a return to drudgery. After 21 of these days, the practice became less and less meaningful to me. Each time a person would offer me their congratulations for continuing to breathe, I was reminded that it was only going to get worse.

Wow, that got dark fast.

What I've been noticing is that what worked for me a couple years ago isn't doing the trick anymore. In particular, losing or even maintaining a semi-decent cycl…

Dodging Responsibility.

After the Arctic Bike Club Road Division's end-of-season banquet and swag giveaway, we have a new board of excited volunteers.

I'm not on the board, and I say that with a heartfelt sense of relief.

Instead, we have a nice, balanced group of well-adjusted people running the show for next season, each with somewhat well-defined roles within the organization. I'm completely thrilled that more than one of them is female, a tragically under-represented demographic in previous editions. When they raised their hands to volunteer, I jammed mine as deep in my pockets as I could. I walked in with a sense of resignation, and left with a sense of elation. There's hope for us skinny-tired wankers after all.

The new president, the always-inclusive Justin Neff, offered me a spot afterwards. I politely declined. No, that's not completely accurate. Profanity made up a large portion of my response, because that's my normal mode of communication. I want this board to have every chan…

Reset.

I need to do a field test.

My Training Ranges are horribly out of whack. I'm killing myself to maintain what once was a recovery pace. The steady slide of performance since my last field test was punctuated by my two month break from physical activity. For a while I could fake it, pushing a little harder and deluding myself into believing I was performing within a very structured range. In reality, the ranges were just random numbers that had little or no bearing on my body's ability to perform a specific task.

In other words, I don't ride a bike so good right now.

There's a couple things that are keeping me from doing a field test.

The first is the simple and undeniable fact that field tests suck. A lot. They hurt. They require positive mental focus. I'm mainly zoned in to my impressive collection of "I don't wannas." Very hard to fight through the aches and pains that come with a sustained effort when you have the steely determination of a Vichy politic…

When I Grow Up.

After 25+ years in the Air Force, it's probably time that I start thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. They call this transition "retirement", but that just makes me laugh a faint, hollow laugh. I have a three-year old, a couple kids not too far off of college, and a wife currently in college.

I'm going to work until I die. Given the usual lifespans in my family, that's a good ways down the road. Faced with this bright and cheery future, I need to figure out what I'm going to do to make money.

My piece of paper degree in business management is probably going to get me less than I need to support in the fashion they've become accustomed to. An MBA? Maybe, in the right position, but I don't have an MBA just yet, although that could be acquired through the GI Bill. My dream of getting a civil engineering degree has pretty much been snuffed out by my rapidly weakening mind and my lack of faith in the University of Alaska's ability to effect…

Unsexy Is My New Sexy.

I was looking at numbers the other day in a casual way, not looking for trends or performance indicators- there aren't any. Rather, I was idly mining for random trivia when I came across an interesting data point:

I rode the titanium bike more than any of the other six road bikes I had in rotation. It wasn't a small difference in usage, either. The ti bike just got ridden a crap-ton more (that's a unit of measurement used by scientific-types). A lot of this can be attributed to the number of miles I rode in Mississippi, when the ti bike was the only ride at my disposal and I had no shortage of free time to explore armadillo road kill-strewn roads. However, once I got back on the Anchorage roads in the spring, the trend continued.

A lot of it has to do with the ti bike's perceived durability. I could abuse it, wait until a thick layer of road grime crusted the down tube, then run a hose over it, give it a light scrub, and it would look good as new. As long as the drivetra…

Sacking Up.

After wussing out on perfectly ride-worthy conditions (other than the gale-force winds and cold drizzle) and being shamed by a long-time friendly adversary, I knew I had to ride.

I sat staring out the window for a couple hours the next day until the roads dried somewhat and the temperatures inched up to their projected highs. Every degree counts. I over-dressed, but I wasn't planning on working all that hard. Here and there in shaded spots, ice lurked, waiting to bring me down. Screw that. I've been there, and have no desire to return.

I took a route counterclockwise from my usual course through the hillside. Although I gained some elevation, it was spread out over a longer distance. I wasn't going anywhere fast, nor did I want to. It was all about miles on the pavement while there still was pavement. Despite my best efforts to avoid any real work, I worked up a sweat. Overdressing probably had more to do with it than turning over the pedals. I wasn't particularly uncomf…