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Daily Archives: March 24, 2012

The Liebster Award

Socially Fit graciously awarded me with the honor of the Liebster Award today.

They describe the award as follows:

“This award we’ve discovered is given to bloggers who inspire you and have less than 200 followers. The Liebster Award takes its name from the German word meaning ‘Beloved, Dearest or Favorite”.

Color me tickled.  The author and I have come to find out that we are a lot a like in many ways.  I am honored for certain, thank you for this.

There are rules that come with this honor.

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.

2. Post the award to your blog.

3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value (It’s a great way to get to word out there about other blogs, so we’re in!!)

4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have received this award.

I have absolutely no idea how to check the count of the people that follow another blog, so I just picked five whose authors have displayed, in one way or another, pure awesome.  The five that I choose for the honor are as follows:

It’s All About The Legs  Michael Fioretti, if I remember correctly, was the first – and has been the most prolific commenter on my blog.  He always has fantastic advice for an old fart (he’s somewhere around half my age).  If there were anyone in the WordPress world that I’d like to go for a ride with, it would be him.

Bike V Car  Absolutely the best dry sense of humor I’ve read.  I always look forward to Mr. BikeVCar’s posts.

Blue Hen Cyclist Hands down, Steven Francisco is one of the most accessible collegiate racers and an incredible writer – his posts about races always have me on the edge of my seat.

Joseph Lampen  Joseph is one of those tougher than nails, deep freeze, hard-core cyclists.  Just recently we’ve begun a science project together – more on that in another post…  lol.

Mymultiplepersonality  I happened on this site because the author stopped by and “liked” one of my posts.  I could take 500 words talking about this site.  The author is simply gracious as you get.

Saddle – Sore No More Part Deux…

Well, today was my first real triathlon brick day.  It started with my normal 12.5 mile ride down to the running club.  What a difference the new saddle makes.  My hamstring isn’t near healed yet but I felt a lot better after the ride.  This was partially due to the fact that I kept my speed down to save some for the run and subsequent ride home, but I was still at 17.5 mph but I’mreally pleased with the new saddle – surprisingly enough, the additional padding wasn’t missed in the least.

For the run, I decided on a 5k because Mrs. BigdaddyJim and I are going out on a date tonight with the kids away at grandma’s house – there’s no way I’m going to be hobbling around for that.  It was a fairly quick 5k for me:  23:48, a time I am absolutely pleased with.  Mile times were 7:36, 7:54 and7:37.  I was rather saddened when my running buddy Marc suggested we should probably not run together though.  He does have a heck of a point.  I really respect him as a runner so I try my hardest to keep pace with him and he is well aware of my admiration for him so he tries to live up to it.  When we run together we end up pushing each other well beyond our fitness levels and it’s taken the enjoyment out of his Saturday runs.  I also wasn’t able to complete my ride home.  Alas, the weather just wasn’t going to cooperate two days in a row so I hopped a ride home from one of the guys.  Tomorrow’s another day and with the forecast of 66 (F) and sunny, a ride is guaranteed.

Training miles are way up already at mid summer levels from last year:

3/12-3/18:  104

3/12-Today:  102

An Hypothesis It Is… Or Can We Call It A Theory?

Fellow Michigander and cyclist, Joseph Lampen and I have teamed up to form a new hypothesis:

In addition to the value associated with regular exercise and endorphin release, there is an intrinsic value to completing said exercise out of doors, in nature – or creation.

We could go with calling it a theory, but the definition of hypothesis is easier and is, technically, impossible to prove or disprove (other than the benefits of added benefits of Vitamin D from the exposure to sunlight which is already well documented):

  1. A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.
  2. A proposition made as a basis for reasoning, without any assumption of its truth.

Feel free to weigh in with your comments.

UPDATE:  Socially Fit weighed in with this gem: 

“Outdoors is always best! In the gym only 5-50 people can witness your awesomeness”.

Indeed, well said!

Saddle – Sore No More – Le Slush Fund Du Bgddy Takes A Hit

This will be a highly technical post about saddles before it’s through.  If you don’t know much about them, stick around, I promise you it’s an important issue and picking the wrong saddle can not only be painful, it can be costly as well – if you already know all of this and notice a mistake or omission, please let me know.

In my last post I mentioned a sharp pain in my right hamstring that’s come on in the last couple of days.  It makes a little sense, I’ve been riding my butt off lately, pushing it pretty hard so I was almost ready to accept it as a sign that I need a day off – almost.

As I wrote earlier, I tried to ride that out with a high cadence, easy ride which was quite enjoyable, but did nothing to alleviate the pain which was intermittent and dull, but relentless…something was absolutely not right.  I had no idea what was going on so I did what every noob should do – I made a beeline for my local bike shop on the way back to the house to see if they could help with a diagnosis.  Had I not fixed this, the end results would have been bad.

The Diagnosis

I walked my bike into the shop where my favorite tech, Walter, greeted me.  I explained my hamstring problem and added that it seems as though the pain originates (I’m trying to think of a delicate way to describe the location)…  Uh, well I’ll say “on my right sit bone” for the sake of the squeamish or pious, but that’s not how I described it to him.  I then interjected that I couldn’t believe how that would be possible (for the pain to extend all the way to my hamstring), but that’s exactly how it feels.  Well, I got an important lesson today.

Walter examined my saddle, much to my surprise – I figured we’d need to lower the saddle a little bit or something.  To my noobish understanding of what a saddle should be, it’s got the best of both worlds, a straight road design with the all important cutout and a lot of gel padding, all covered in a strong leather skin.  He asked how long it would take on a normal ride to feel any pain.  I’d thought the pain normal, that I just needed more time in the saddle, but I explained that it was normally after 14 or 15 miles.  What confused the issue for me was that I’d been on a 35.5 mile ride last week in which it didn’t hurt a bit until the very end.  He asked if that could have been due to adrenaline – first long ride of the year, etc. and I had to give him, that was definitely a possibility.  It was my first longer ride of the season, I’d pushed it really hard and it was the first nice, sunny day of the year – I was absolutely stoked to be out there.  He then explained that which we’ve all heard but find hard to believe…  On anything over ten or 15 miles and at slower speeds, the gel seats are great.  On long rides, they become uncomfortable because they staunch blood flow – as I understand it, they cradle your sit bones, because the gel gives, the saddle ends up covering more square footage of skin.  He then pulled out a gel filled pad, set it on a bench, had me sit on that with my feet raised on a box to bring my sit bones to bear on the specially designed pad that holds its form for a short time.  When I got up, he looked at the measurements on the board that the pad was attached to.  It showed that I need a saddle with a 143 MM sit width – the saddle on my bike is a 155 MM.  Now really folks, does it really have to be that technical?  Apparently.  I’ll get into how that applies to riding position in a moment, but the ramifications must come first and foremost.

When The Leather Hits The (Sit) Bone

I was riding on a saddle that was too wide for my sit bones.  This caused me to ride up toward the nose of the saddle, always attempting to find a comfortable spot that fit right, everywhere on the saddle except the right spot.  I couldn’t sit on the proper part of the saddle because it was too wide for the space meant to straddle it.  What ended up happening is that I was putting more pressure on the right sit bone than the left because I couldn’t get in the right spot on the saddle (I’ve felt this, if minutely for a month, trying to fix the problem by tinkering with the angle of the saddle, but with my recent rapid jump in mileage, the problem has advanced quickly – imagine the princess with the pea in the mattress – you know something is off, but you just can’t explain it and think “it just must be you”).  I was riding off-center, favoring my dominant leg.  With all of the miles I’ve been putting in and over time, I’ve developed a hot spot, that is likely inflamed, and that inflammation started affecting my hamstring and how it works.

Now Pay Attention, This Gets Tricky…  Riding Position Matters

Riding position has quite a big effect on saddle size.  If I were riding in a more upright position (see photo) then I would actually require a 155 MM saddle, but I’m not – I’m always trying to be as aero as is practicable so I can keep my speed up – I prefer 20 mph infinitely over 13 mph – I like the speed.  Because of that, my measurement changes to 143 MM – a difference of a half inch.  This may not seem like much (it sure didn’t to me), but it’s huge.  Walter slapped on a 143 MM Specialized Romin Comp Gel and the results were amazing (after about 20 minutes of messing around with height and distance from the bar).  I’ve never ridden so comfortably…and I hit some pretty gnarly pavement on purpose.  I certainly don’t know how you can go from a nice, cushy gel seat to a piece of hard plastic with minimal padding and have it feel better, but it surely does.  So my slush fund took a hit.

Here’s The Important Part:

Rather than wander about aimlessly on the net trying to figure this out, or simply accepting that it must be something I was doing wrong and trying to beat a problem with more miles – that probably would have sidelined me – I went to the experts.  Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200.   I just did a search of cycling, hamstring injuries…  I’d have been pooched, off my bike for a week or two and I’d still end up coming back to the same problem – one of the articles even said that the hamstrings are on the front of the upper leg if you can believe that (they’re in the back).  Instead, if the weather holds, I’ll be riding to the running club this morning.

And Let’s Face Facts…

It cannot be denied, any closet weight weenie would be pleased as punch with the switch – the Romin is half the weight of my original saddle and a whole lot prettier.

By the way, here’s a very informational (if commercial) video from Specialized explaining the measurement process – and it shows the padded measurement board that I wrote about earlier:

Fitness Quiz Of The Week

So, let’s have a fitness quiz.  Allow me to set the table for a multiple choice story problem:

You’re blessed enough to work from home on Fridays which means you wake up at the normal time and get right to work rather than showering, shaving, getting ready and driving to the office.  That means you get your work done really early.  As far as work goes, you’ve just had one of the most successful three weeks in the last six years.   The Weather Channel is calling for rain all day but remarkably it’s sunny and the temperatures are mild yet brisk.  Your significant other is leaving for a weekend convention in less than an hour and Grandma is coming down to pick up the kids and take them up north for the weekend in three hours.  You decide to take a quick half hour sprint ride (24 minutes – 8 miles actually) before the weather rolls in.  During said ride, you notice a sharp pain in your right hamstring – it’s not bad all of the time, but it’s uncomfortable to be sure.  Everything else goes off without a hitch and you even catch a fifteen minute power nap.

Here’s the quiz:  It’s early afternoon and the weather has unbelievably held off much the the chagrin of the Weather Channel – it’s sunny and 65 (F) and you’re picking up your dad from the old folks home to take him out to dinner in two hours.  Do you:

A.  Kick up your feet and relax, content in a job well done and turn on the tube to watch [insert whatever it is you watch here].

B.  Start scouring the cupboard for [insert ridiculously sugar laden snack here], then eat like eating is going out of style – tomorrow – at dinner, content that you’ve had two successful high mileage weeks in a row.  After all, you deserve a “treat” day that you’ll invariably regret in the morning, which will inevitably lead to your falling off of the exercise wagon because once you’ve messed up this bad, you might as well go all the way.  I mean what gives with this exercise crap anyway – that’s for “lucky” people.

C.  Get your kit on and try another 16 miles of slower speed, higher cadence riding in an attempt to work out whatever is bugging that hamstring.

I’ll give you one guess as to what I did.  I didn’t get the hammy worked out though – more on that in the next post.