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Showing posts from March, 2018

Patience.

Dave Henke posted a picture on FaceSpace of a stretch of pavement around the airport, bordered on both side by snow, with puddles of run-off being it's most common feature. There was an arrow pointing to a dry patch of asphalt. His 'cross bike was in the picture, indicating it was drop-bar possible.

Not me. I'm going to wait a couple weeks before I venture out. Just looking at the post made my collarbone ache. With my luck and advanced falling down skills, I'd hit an icy patch or pile of sand and ruin the whole riding season. As much as the trainer is starting to inspire thoughts of loathing, I'll get far more out of the time than I would weaving my way around frigid puddles at the speed of 'meh'.

I can wait. I'll do my trainer rides and Sunday morning visits to the Dome. Cold air has been doing a number on my sinuses and lungs the last few years, and there's a low-lying brown cloud of dust covering the local roads as the snow and ice recedes. I'l…

Building Towards... Ummm...

Post injury, just after my Training Peaks squiggly lines had bottomed out to nothing, I started rebuilding. Obviously, any time you start from zero, any effort results in some gain. For a few months it was a steady climb, which eventually to taper a bit but was still moving in the right direction. An extended bout with the plague knocked me back a bit, and ever since progress has been much slower. I still haven't gotten back to the peak I was on in late December, but that doesn't bother me too much. Peaking during the trainer season and then falling apart right before the roads clear is a pattern I've followed for the last few years. Nope, I'm hovering a few notches below where I was in December, and inching up ever so slightly each week.

Once I'm released back onto the roads, things will pick up because I'll simply do more volume. As it warms up, the roads are swept, and my confidence increases, the ramp will tilt up again. It always does. Initially I'll t…

OMG. SMH. (Insert Emoticon Here).

The other day Chris Knott and I were texting back and forth like a couple teenage girls. And like all teenage girls, the topic of discussion was how much falling down and hurting yourself affects your motivation.

Wait. That's what kids these days talk about, right?

We're both coming off injuries that set us back considerably, are carrying far more weight than we want to, and are unsure of just how badly we will get crushed come race season. The bright side for both of us is that we both want to ride. Maybe not the punishing, interval-drenched rides that lead to peak performance (not that I what know what that was), but the long, moderate rides that we both need to rebuild some sort of fitness base. Once the foundation is there, once we experience a few sun-drenched rides, once we get a little taste of nectar of competition... maybe we'll start hammering away again like we never stopped.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

We'll have to see. I think we're both wired for it, so even if it …

Playing It By Ear.

Saturday was intended to be my big day on the bike. It's always the big day on my bike, because it's the one day a week I'm most likely to have plenty of time to ride. Even if my wife has something planned for the day, I can usually get up somewhat early-ish and be done before she gets up and gets the kids moving. It's the one day a week where volume is a possibility.

I didn't get on my bike on Saturday. I woke up and didn't feel like it. I went back to sleep. I got up an hour or so later and still had no interest in the trainer. I stuffed my face with all of the wrong foods and lazed around on the hammock instead, flipping through channels and catching up on series. I got nothing meaningful accomplished.

I promised myself I was going to get on in the afternoon, but instead took the family to a local burger place. Tommy's Burger Stop has the best burgers in Anchorage, hands down. When I got back home, the food coma hit and I was down for the count.

No big deal…

Idiot.

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So yeah, that happened.  Let me 100% honest. It's not exactly what I wanted. It's a 2015 Moots Vamoots DR. I wanted a Moots Vamoots Disc RSL, which is the more performance, race-ready version. I tried to find a way to  make a Disc RSL happen, but the frameset alone (frame, fork, and headset) would have cost just under $2000 more than I paid for the DR. Then I would have had to buy a groupset, wheelset, and all of the bits and pieces that make a bike a bike. Given that it would be a Moots, I wouldn't have just slapped on any parts. I would have used the good stuff. I wouldn't have even been able to afford a van down by the river when I was done, but I would have had a really nice bike. The 2015 Moots Vamoots DR had a 135mm quick-release in the rear instead of the 142mm thru-axle I wanted. It's a more-compliant build and geometry that may not respond to my crushing, 200 watt sprint in a manner that befits my status as the last guy across the line. It doesn't have s…

Clean.

During those brief, magical times during a ride when my legs are ticking over smoothly, I think to myself, "clean."

It's like having your poorly-maintained 1972 Dodge Dart tuned up perfectly by an expert mechanic to pass an emissions test, instead of randomly tweaking the carburetor's mixture screw until the raw fuel smell goes away. It may not last long, but for a little while it's running about as efficiently as it can.

Lance and Co used to call them "no chain days", but that was probably just the EPO talking. I just think of them as times when all of the pork fat and poor life choices are momentarily flushed out of my blood system and I get a glimpse of what my clean-living friends are going on about when they're blabbering on about vegan this or paleo that. Sooner or later that blog o' mistakes clogging up the plumbing is probably going to break free and stop my heart, but hopefully I'll be riding my bike and will go to my eternal punishme…

'Member?

'Member how a couple days ago I posted about how responsible I was being with my newfound wealth and prosperity? Yeah, it hasn't been easy.

First it was the time trial frames, all sleek and elegant and fast just sitting there. They're so fast I would have won even before I crossed the start line. Then I remembered- I have a time trial bike I use three or four times a year. I can't force my geriatric body into a lower and more aerodynamic position without losing all power, so I would look like I was suspended on stilts on one of these low, aerodynamic machines. A couple inches of exposed cable isn't making me slow. A frame shape that looks like it may have been tested in a wind tunnel (but likely wasn't) isn't going to make me significantly faster. I'm going to bleed time to the diesels just like I always do. Nope, I don't need to spend hundreds of dollars more to save seconds on a 10 mile time trial. I've already spent thousands. At a certain poi…

Uncoupled.

The day after a rest day, I really have no idea how my legs will respond. Sometimes it goes well and I have reserves of power I rarely see. Sometimes it doesn't and it takes a couple days for them to come around. I've tried to nail it down to rest or diet or some other element, but for the most part I just have to wait and see.

This time around, my return felt flat. I actually put out some respectable numbers, but my legs felt as if they were made out of lead. I started dreading each interval, and had to mentally psyche myself up for each one. The legs would begrudgingly respond, and I was glad when it was over, bathed in the endorphin afterglow and free of the physical strain.

The next day, I exploded out of the blocks and kept chugging away. The legs weren't feeling a thing, and responded beautifully. Weird. I wish I could replicate that on a regular basis.

Then I decided to go for a sprint. actually, I was only half-heartedly hitting it just to take the jersey, because the…

Tour of Fairbanks Update (Maybe... Sorta...).

Last week I sounded my bell of doom and gloom about the Tour of Fairbanks. Hey, you have to go with your strengths, and that's the only card I have to play.

Yesterday Chris Knott dropped me a line after he was somewhat recovered from shepherding a wild pack of high school track athletes around Anchorage during spring break. Don't worry, Chris. The physical and emotional scars will fade someday.

At any rate, he mentioned that they found a prospect to act as race director for the Tour of Fairbanks this year. Nothing written in stone yet, but they put her in touch with Amanda, the former race director and a key factor in the success of the last two editions. Having that sort of experience and knowledge to back you up is invaluable for a new race director, as there are a million things that you'd never think of until they come and slap you in the back of your head at the worst possible moment. Everybody is looking at you as the expert that makes everything happen, and you're…

Not Expected.

I wasn't expecting the check that came in the mail Friday. There was no warning, just a check from my mortgage company for a decent amount of money. I didn't cash it immediately. Their offices were close by the time I opened the envelope. I waited all weekend, wondering what it could be for. Was there a lawsuit settlement or some other legal thing that brought this windfall? Was it a mistake? Not knowing and afraid to spend it lest they yank it back when I least could afford it, I sat on my hands.

Well... actually my hands went into their usual mode of cruising the interwebs for all sorts of things. Time trial frames. Wheelsets. Groupsets. Any number of other things I really don't need and am not sure I really want. It was a conditioned reflex action.

Instead, I decided to do the adult thing. I decided to pay off my daughter's braces, buy some nice new pots and pans (our are 15 years old and showing their age), and give my wife money for her 40th birthday trip to New Yor…

Experiment.

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Putin. Trump. Clinton. Election. Meddling. Special Counsel. Dossier. Boogers. ________________________________________________________________________
Lately I've been seeing some Russian traffic for this blog. I seriously doubt there's any interest in that country of a mere 144 million souls, even among what would be my target demographic- old, untalented, and overweight road bike racing idiots. Then again, my entire knowledge of their racing scene is centered around my belief that Belov from American Flyers and Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds were separated at birth.
...but I digress.

The infrequent-but-rhythmic nature of the Russian hits indicate they are from bots triggering off something I said. I'd be interested to see what that was. Then again, I'd also be interested in seeing what attracted and maintains the interest of my faithful French porn bots. Wait... maybe not. At any rate, I'd be remiss if I didn't welcome these new consumers of my garbage and work t…

Big, Empty Boxes.

Our Sears is closing down, and by now they're getting down to a lot of stuff that nobody wants (most of their clothing lines) or is otherwise not an impulse buy (appliances). I went early on and picked up a bunch of Craftsman tools and stuff that I didn't really need but could see a viable use for in the future. The little 3/8" sockets sets were cheaper than buying the ratchet alone, and I'm always losing sockets. I spent more than I should have, but I rarely regret buying tools. We bought a bunch of other stuff while we were there- far more than we ever have before. Might as well take advantage of it while it lasts, because soon we won't have the option.

Our Sams Club closed down a little while back. They went fast. The locusts cleaned them out in short order. We weren't members, so it was no great loss for us (we've always shopped at Costco). Still, another option gone.

Last year our Sports Authority stores closed, and that was a bigger hit for the family.…

Building A Casket.

The other day the Fairbanks Cycle Club March newsletter popped up in my FaceSpace feed. In particular, this caught my eye:

We have had a lot of inquiries about the 2018 Tour of Fairbanks 5 Stage Race. The FCC Board has set tentative dates in June; however, we have yet to secure a race director for this event. Without a race director, the event will be cancelled for a second year. How can you help?
Spread the word that we are still recruiting. FCC is offering a $2,000 stipend for a person or team willing to coordinate all 5 stages. This includes determining the courses for a Prologue, 2 Road Races, a Criterium, and a Time Trial; acquiring permitting, promotion, and updating existing race information. Specific terms are available in the TOF Contract, which you can download here.
Time commitments vary through out the process. Early in the process it may take only a few hours per week, with more hours required as race day approaches. Much of this depends on the efficiency of the race directo…

Yeah-Meh.

After overdoing it a bit a couple days ago, I figured I'd pay for it. I did yesterday, and hoped with poor nutrition and inadequate sleep I would bounce back to my normal level of mediocracy.

Yeah, and no.

I managed to get a couple 30 day PRs on segments I hadn't really tried all that hard on recently. Everything was ticking along fine until I got to the halfway point, when my legs switched from "pretty good" to "flat". It wasn't like I was bonking or otherwise drained, but I just didn't have the same energy as I did initially. I backed off a bit to see if they would recover, but it was soon pretty obvious that "all ahead meh" was about the best I was going to get out of them.

I finished out the workout with a conflicted sense of accomplishment. There were some good efforts in there, but it showed I'm in no shape to do a stage race at the moment. I'm just not recovering from hard efforts quickly enough. Good thing I have a couple mont…

Very Likely A Bad Idea.

The other day I had to cut a workout planned for an hour to 35 minutes because of time constraints. This trend has to stop, so I got on the bike after work to make up the time and put a little more in the bank in case it happened again.

The 35 minute workout had gone well enough, as I was already rattled by the clock, so I poured everything I had into the time I had. Even if I hadn't gotten back on in the afternoon, the Intensity Factor and Training Stress Score were high enough that my Chronic Training Load wouldn't have been affected. That's a fancy-pants way of saying I hammered the piss out of it. Still, I was 25 minutes short, and my obsessive compulsive side just wouldn't let that stand.

My workout after work was delayed a bit. My wife had class, so dinner was early. A heavy meal of pot roast and potatoes isn't exactly what you want in the gut before a workout, but I figured I'd just ride easy-ish for a while and then call it quits. Any moderate effort was …

The Itch.

Earlier this winter, it was looking like it would be an early spring. We just hadn't gotten a lot of snow, and what we did get was relatively compacted by warm spells. A warm March would have killed the piles enough to get me back on the road early.

Nope.

Stacked snow storms piled up a decent amount of late-season snow. The snow plows are running out of room on my road to store it. What this means is that the freeze-thaw cycles of early spring will be take a while to clear away those piles. Runoff will create skating rinks across the roads as the piles melt. Until the sewer drains clear, the puddles will pool and freeze, thaw, and re-freeze in areas. There isn't a huge amount of dark sand in those snow piles, which will also slow the melting process. In other words, it's going to take a while.

Meanwhile, my enthusiasm for the trainer is at its seasonal low. I would much rather be on the road bike, searing my lungs out in the cold air, over- or under-dressed for conditions and…

Shifting Gears.

I was talking to Richard about this or that Sunday at the Dome before we got rolling. My bike was leaning against me, and as I shifted to emphasize some meaningful point it fell to the floor, bumping against Richard's very expensive carbon wheels. This was my TSA-proof ti bike, so I was more worried about Richard's TT machine. It wasn't untilYrjö noticed that my brake lever was sticking out funny that I realized that something was wrong with my own bike. One of the tabs that the right brake lever pivots on broke when it hit the concrete. I jammed it back in place as best I could, confirmed it would still shift, and started riding loops. I wasn't going to let a small bit of plastic ruin the fun.

After a few laps of warmup, I jumped behind a small pace-line on the inside lane. The guy in front was on a disc brake bike, then came Yrjö on his brakeless fixie, and then was me. The guy up front would brake slightly for some reason in the turns, Yrjö  would apply a little back…

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Zwift is a funny "place" sometimes.

Like the real world, everyone has their own interests and goals. Some people are doing structured workouts alone. Some people are doing group rides. Others are doing group workouts. Some people ride informally with small groups.

...and then there's me. I just sorta do whatever.

I tried the structured workouts when they were first introduced, but I never took to them. Part of it was the irresistible urge to go chase squirrels instead of sticking to the plan. Part of it was the frustrations that ANT+ and other data dropouts bring when you're trying to stay in a specific power range. However, if I'm completely honest (which rarely happens), I just don't want to.

I tried the group rides and races, but (again being totally honest) I got shelled in a Cat C race when they held over 4 w/kg for the first lap and then started to really crank it up. Since Cat C is supposed to average under 3.2 w/kg FTP (with surges above that), I found t…

Flexibility.

I've never been the most flexible person. People who have witnessed my argumentative side would certainly agree with that statement, but I'm not talking about mentally. I'm talking about physical flexibility.

The physical therapist that worked me over a month ago said he had never seen hamstrings as tight as mine. He should have seen them before I stretched them out. I've made some effort over the years to try to increase my flexibility, and in some cases it's worked out well. For instance, I have a lot of hip flexibility, probably developed to overcome my overwound hamstrings. Targeted stretching does make small improvements, but if I slack off or get sick everything gets all bound up again.

The other day I was listening to NPR and this lady was talking about how western society bends over to pick up things. Other cultures do it with a flat back, but we arch our backs and place ourselves into a position that compromises our spines. Interesting point, but I don't…

Not Me.

So recently a bike racing frenemy of mine, Clint Hodges, finished 2nd in the Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 fat bike race. That's some accomplishment.

Clint's team and mine are actually sponsored by the same bike shop, and we've talked about linking up tactically in races, but it never happens because:
We've never actually had a race where there's been enough of us to influence tactics in any meaningful way. We get swamped more often than not.Rarely are we close enough in fitness for a given race to provide assistance in any meaningful way. We're mainly trying to survive.We just end up chasing each other down, because that's what no-talent hack racers do.Still, it's a nice thought.

My Facebook feed last week during the 3 days, 10 hours, and 4 minutes he was on the trail was filled with pictures of him riding along barren, snow-covered tracts or at checkpoints, his majestic, paper towel advertisement-worthy beard a solid mass of ice. Just looking at the pi…

Truncated.

This week I haven't been able to finish a single workout. If I plan for an hour, I'll probably get in around 45 minutes. It isn't for lack of energy. The legs are there, and the numbers I'm seeing are all pretty good (by my low standards). Rather, I haven't been able to get moving in the mornings, which results in me having to cut everything short.

My alarm goes off at 4:30AM, but I'm rarely truly awake and kitted up before 5:30AM. I have to leave at 7:00AM to drop off the kids at school and get to work. A little delay here or there and suddenly I don't have time to do a full hour. I've tried to get up earlier, but that rarely results in anything but more groggy time.

Part of it is the occasional melatonin I take to shut my brain down at night. Sometimes my brain gets wrapped around something so tightly that I can't sleep, even with all of the sleep tricks I've picked up over the years. I'll be wide awake at 3:00AM worked up over something I c…

How This All Ends.

A couple days ago I published my 800th entry for this blog.

That's a pretty big number.

It got me thinking, though. How long am I going to keep doing this thing? When will I call it quits and just let it die the death it should have died years ago?

Writing five posts a week (give or take) 52 weeks a year comes to about 260 posts. Sometimes I have piles of scheduled posts stacked up, sometimes I struggle to get them out, and sometimes I fail completely. I have no idea how many words are in an average post, because I've never counted. That exercise always seemed too much like the term pages I do for the college degree I don't care about. How many words do I have left before I can turn this half-hearted piece of crap in? The syllabus didn't specify how many words have to be in each blog post, so I'm going to write as many or as few as I feel like on a given day. However long they are, they could probably all be edited down to "tired/old/fat bicycle guy." Maybe …