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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Why am I not surprised?

I Am The Rabbit

Starting out yesterday morning the temperature was bitter, just over freezing. Even so, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so I anticipated a quick warm up. I started out in my USA jersey, arm warmers and my cold weather jacket. Below I wore my Brooks compression shorts, my cycling shots and a thin pair of tights. Booties were also in order. I thought about adding another upper layer for a minute and I was ultimately glad I didn’t.  Ten minutes to eight I got a call from my wife to wish me luck, and an ominous taunt from my youngest – she informed me that I’d better be in first place crossing the finish line so she could cheer me on.  Considering all of the high end carbon on site (including 2 Trek Tri-bikes, I figured that would be an impossibility, but told her I’d do my best.

We started out promptly at 8am, about 50 of us if I had to guess. I started toward the middle but quickly moved up to the front of the pack. Another rider joined me and actually took a pull for a mile but he started slowing down (or I sped up) and I soon passed him and before I knew it, I was on my own. It was another 20 miles before I happened on a rider who had snuck out early (this was not a timed event, it was a charity ride). I saw him when he was still a mile ahead of me, when he still danced with the heat rising off of the asphalt. As I reeled him in, he would check over his shoulder and hop out of his saddle and pedal his ass off as he turned back to stave me off. I had him. As I began my pass by announcing “on the left” he looked over his shoulder and said, “man I knew there was going to be a rabbit out here today”.

Who knew, I was the rabbit.

I hit the gas, I wanted for him to try to keep up, and watch me pull away, knowing he didn’t have a chance. I was still averaging 20 mph at that point, certainly quite a bit faster than I’d intending on riding, but being in front had an unexpected affect – I liked it and it pushed me to ride faster! I bumped it up to 22 to put some distance between us and held that for a couple of miles. Before we hit 25 miles, I’d opened a healthy lead. I slowed back down to 20 and by the time we hit the turn around I had a mile on everybody. At 30 miles I started to tire out a bit and I started to feel it slightly. I popped my third Roctane, cherry/lime and washed it down with some Gatorade. Half way home and I was into the wind. I concentrated on keeping my cadence up and fluid. Mile 36, 37 and 38 ticked by. Then I realized that I was in trouble. The organizers had painted arrows on the road to distinguish the route – green for the 100k, pink and orange for the shorter routes. I followed them meticulously but I was almost back to the farm, 24 miles too soon. When I reached the farm I stopped and asked the director where I’d gone wrong. I showed her my map on the phone and she said I’d missed the extended leg, instead of turning at the 23 mile mark I should have gone straight. It wasn’t marked correctly out on the road, and when I stated so she insisted that it was, that she’d painted the arrows herself… Rather than argue, I decided to do part of the first loop until I hit the 50 mile mark, then I could turn around and still get my 100k in. I took off. As I approached the turn around point, studying my on board map, it occurred to me that I could probably just finish that loop and end up close enough… Then I turned north, into the wind yet again, and I began to regret the decision to do the full loop. Had I turned around at 50 the trip back would have mostly been dealing with crosswinds.

I got down as low as I could on the drops and tried to get back to repeating “I’m the rabbit”. I didn’t feel like a stinking rabbit at that point. I was getting tired, fast. I downed my last gel and with eight miles left dusted off the last of my on board liquid…just 8 miles to go. I was sitting on 55.

Seven, six… I was hurting all over. Five, four… 12 minutes to go…I’m the rabbit…three, two, I called my wife to let her know that I’d be there in five minutes… One, I was so close to meeting my goal of 3:30, I’m the rabbit… With 600 meters to go I turned the corner and saw the finish. 500, 400, 300 I could hear my girls cheering me on to the finish – I kicked it to look strong for my girls. 200, 100. Done. And none of the bikes from the 100k group were back yet. I got and gave hugs, downed three large glasses of water, and slid off of my bike. 63.3 miles in 3:30:34.

God bless my wife, she walked my bike back to the car. I told her as much as I could about the ride while trying to collect my head, and looked around for some of the stronger riders that I’d expected to beat me. I was the only one.

My wife said that three other guys finished just before me and I remember passing them on the way back, so it is possible that I wasn’t first (it’s also possible that they did one of the shorter rides). Either way, it’s safe to say I was in the top five. More importantly, I made it and I made in the time I’d set to do it in.

It was one awesome ride.

Endomondo Challenges:

Cycling:  567 of 18,759

Calories Burned:  1,236 of 27,037

Dinner for the evening consisted of a much deserved Fudrucker’s 2/3 lb burger, onion rings and several iced tea’s.

19 years ago, I shoveled out this barn - Hungover to beat the band


I’ll put up a detailed post later, but I made it. 63.35 miles in 3:30:35. The last five miles SUCKED! 🙂

Quick Saturday Run Update

My easy 5k was cut short by a k… It turned out not to be an easy one after all – first mile 7:12, second mile 7:14… I was pushing for the home stretch when I stumbled upon some sense – I’ve got a charity ride tomorrow and I really didn’t need to try to ride 100k with spent legs… The point is, I don’t know where this speed is coming from. I “can’t” run that fast!? I’m an 8 minute miler in mid season form.

I do know what it is technically, I ride hard, a lot, so my lactate threshold is increasing. I also pedal fast, 90-100 rpm so I’m building fast twitch muscle fiber which allows me to keep my running cadence fast (I actually match my cycling cadence).

Still, I never expected this.

In any event, it was a really fun run, followed by some fellowship at the running club, a few tacos and a fantastic Saturday nap.

Full Circle…

This post will not cover my entire past, that would require that I fit the contents of a book into a blog post.  This post does scratch the surface though, it was just a lot worse…

In late 1991 I was told that I had eight years left to live.

I was in out-patient treatment for alcohol abuse, assigned by the People of the Great State of Michigan and a probation officer as a condition of my probation.  This took place shortly following a jury trial in which I was looking at 5 to 10 years in State prison.  Most people don’t know the difference, but we’re not talking about jail here.  Jail is where you go for a slap on the wrist – several days to a year.  In the end, I was sitting next to my lawyer, sweating from every pore and shaking with fear.  It had taken the jury two days to deliberate my case.  They reported to the judge twice that they were hopelessly dead-locked.  My attorney explained that this was a good thing though his words weren’t very comforting.  He was right, though.  You know, the funny thing about technicalities is that everyone hates them – until you’re looking at 5-10 and you’re let off on one. Such was the case with me, kind of.   You see, I wasn’t guilty, not for what they were trying to pin on me, not by a long shot – but I wasn’t technically innocent either.  So there I was waiting for the verdict, after the jury selection, several police officers embellishing facts and flat-out being dishonest on the stand and my own testimony – my attorney put me on the stand…  And my fate lay in the hands of twelve of my peers.  I was found guilty of the attempt of a misdemeanor.  The maximum sentence was two years probation and fines and costs and the judge gave me every last-minute of that probation.  Weeks later I learned that the reason that the jury convicted me of the attempted misdemeanor was that there was one older lady on the jury (my attorney had wanted to excuse her but ran out of options.  He excused a couple of others who would have been much worse for me).  In any event, that old lady just knew I was lying (even though I was entirely honest on the stand), and she would not back down, they were hitting me with something no matter what according to her – no matter what the law said.  So the other members of the jury got her to settle on the least costly of the four or five possible outcomes.  After I went home, my dad informed me that I had been bailed out of trouble for the last time – if I ever found myself in trouble again, I needn’t bother calling him.

Don’t bother asking about how I know all of the details about the jury.  I don’t recall, the details have escaped my recollection.

That said, there I was, face to face with a doctor who was looking at my chart, eyes wide…  He asked, not looking for an answer, “Are you aware that you have the liver of a 60 year-old chronic alcoholic? You’re liver enzymes are so high that you’ll die of cirrhosis before you hit 30”.  I was 21.  In July (or thereabouts) of ’92 I was arrested for drunken driving.  I was less than a thousandth over the legal limit but with my record, I didn’t have a prayer.  I called my dad from my cell and he informed me that he appreciated the call then hung up.  I was on my own.  My employer bailed me out the next day and I called my out-patient treatment counselor to let her know what I’d done.  I had been informed months earlier after my mother called to report me coming home drunk after a spectacular bender that if I messed up one more time I was going to be sent away to in-patient.  Well, it was time to pay the piper.  My counselor set it up for me to go to Dawn Farms.  I was scheduled to go in for 6-9 months, on November 18th, 1992.  November 17, 1992 at somewhere around 11:55 pm, I had my last drink.  That last drink wasn’t by design, I fully intended on going back to the bottle when I got out, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  Now, most people have the idea that treatment centers are, for the most part, resorts.  Not Dawn Farms, it’s a real working farm (or it was when I went there) and they take the hard cases.  Multiple treatment stints, hard core drug addicts and the hopeless drunks – I was the latter.

My mother dropped me off at the treatment center where I had an “intake interview” with the president.  Before I was called into the interview she gently stroked my face and with tears in her eyes, she asked if I’d be ok, that she wished I didn’t have to go.  I grasped at air, telling her that I could change if she’d just take me home.  She answered something to the effect of, “but then what?  We’ve been down that road before”.  I could only answer that she was right, because she was.  The only thing I remember of that interview, more than 19 years ago now, was one question:  “What makes you think you have what it takes to make it through this program?  This isn’t easy here”.  And my answer; “Because I have a lot of willpower”.  That answer has haunted me, in a funny way, for 19 long damn years and I doubt I’ll ever forget sitting there, hung-over to beat the band, head pounding, stinking like draught beer and cheap liquor, completely lacking any self-control whatsoever, and I actually said that I possessed willpower!?  Good God in heaven.  At that, he must have figured that I was just about sick enough to need that place.  I was taken right in and given a bunk.  My first official duty at the farm, still incredibly hung-over, was to shovel out the pig stalls.  That’s right, I was on pig shit detail.  I wish I had a Benjamin for every time I almost lost what little was in my stomach that first morning.

After a day without a drink I began shaking uncontrollably.  I can remember thinking, “so this is the DT’s”…  Oh how little I knew, that was just the beginning.  The shakes grew worse and were followed by intense irritability, night sweats, nausea and insomnia.  By the time I hit the second week I was shaking so bad that I couldn’t drink out of a glass without a straw.  The word misery doesn’t do justice to what I went through.  Somewhere in my second week I was lying awake in my bunk bed, shaking and sick to my stomach, wondering what exactly the fuck I was going to do now.  As I rolled that question around in my head, over and over again, I began to cry.  I wasn’t sobbing, the tears just started falling – because I had no idea.  I did know deep down that I was meant for more than this, I just didn’t know how I could get there and taking that journey without alcohol scared the hell out of me.  That’s when I had my come to Jesus moment.

Tears streaming down my face, shaking and nauseous, I asked God for help.  Actually, I tried for a bargain.  I can remember thinking, “God, I know I’m supposed to be somebody, I know my life is supposed to be better than this.  If you’ll help me, I’ll give this [sobriety] my best shot.  That wasn’t the last time I ever wanted a drink, but it was the last time I needed one.  I slept like a baby for the rest of the night.  Somewhere in early January I attended my sentencing for my drunk driving.  My driver’s license was suspended for 3 months and I was given probation.  A few days later I decided that I’d had just about enough of the Farm, that it was time to start my new life.  On January 10th, a brisk but not miserable day, I set off down the road – four to seven months before I could have completed the program.  My dad left work and came to pick me up.  I remember the conversation on the way home.  He said, “So what are you gonna do now smartass?  You have no money, no job, no car and nowhere to live.  What are you gonna do”?  I hadn’t thought the move all the way through.  Grasping at straws I begged him to let me come home, that I’d changed in treatment and things were going to be different.  My mom and dad decided to let me stay, and things were different.  Within six months, I had bought a car, had a decent job and rented an apartment.  I had some rocky times but I kept up my end of the bargain that I made with God, and He kept up His end.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back to Dawn Farms for the first time in almost two decades, not a drop or drug since, to ride a bike for 62-1/2 miles in support of the treatment center that helped save my life, corporate donation in hand from a company that I own, because I was right…  I was meant to be somebody.

I am a one percent’er.  Not in the monetary sense that’s become so popular, but in the statistical probability that an alcoholic who quits at 21 makes it to his 40th birthday without going back to the old life, and it has absolutely nothing to do with luck.

And I’ve only just begun.


Final Preparations…

I went out for a ride yesterday, probably a little bit faster than I’d wanted but I’m certainly not feeling any adverse effects today.  I’ll be hitting a short slow run today just for fun, and then heading over to my local running shop for my gels and energy bars.  My bag is all packed for tomorrow and I’m ready to go.  I got my ears lowered yesterday (I always get my hair cut before an event).  The weather is going to hold for tomorrow, in fact it is going to be a touch warmer than expected later in the afternoon.

Nothing to it but to do it at this point.

Next week spring finally comes back (rather than being stuck in late winter) – temps will finally make it up into short sleeve territory.  About stinkin’ time.

A Friendly Hypothesis Turns Into A Theory

A while back I walked through a hypothesis with a friend of mine in which we attempted to look at climbing hills in a new way (not noobish) – give cycling a look with some fresh eyes if you will.  Little did I know at the time, but we stumbled onto something big!  Bike v. Car solicited advice on the best way others had found to climb hills so I, freshly back from a bombastic (if windy) ride, suggested something so cutting edge, so perfectly simple, that it boggled both our minds (well I got the idea you were pretty impressed anyway, brother).

Before I get into the wherefore’s, I must state that I’ve studied this hypothesis and tested it relentlessly – I finally concluded my testing today.  With my new method of climbing, I’ve documented an average speed increase of 21.485% up inclines less than 5% and have managed to knock minutes off of my normal rides (16 & 18 miles).

What is it, you ask?  Prepare to have your britches blown across the room… (more…)

Why I love my bike – Part 2…

I got to thinking about my comment in my last post – about loving my bike…  Now this isn’t quite bike porn, there’s less “lust” to it, but it’s gotta be somewhere in the same ball park.  So let me list a few items that bring me joy.

1.  My bike reminds me of a Ferrari.  Not the new Ferrari’s, it reminds me of the GTO – Classic Lines that work – hard.  Marry that with an upgraded saddle that looks like a scalpel, the dark red metallic finish with the blue bar tape…  It just looks all kind of awesome to me.  I love to look at the lines, the mean-ness.  My bike looks tough and elegant at the same time.

2.  It’s smooth.  My Trek shifts like a dream, every time, no hesitation, no protest.  Click-clank, new gear.  It’s absolutely badass.  This, I’m sure, has a lot to do with the quality of the higher end Ultegra components, and probably a little bit to do with the fact that I take meticulous care of it.

3.  It’s quiet.  Even over bumps.  There’s no chain clicks, no frame creaks or groans (especially now that I’ve had the stem cleaned and relubed – noob note, from a fellow noob, if your handlebar creaks or groans and you have a quill stem, remove it, clean it, lube it and tighten ‘er up good) – it’s unbelievable to me how quiet that bike is – it’s just a whoosh – down the road.

4.  It accelerates quickly.  When I step on the pedals, it goes…  I like drag racing cars to 20 mph.  I love listening for the engine to wind up behind me and then watching the car catch up and shoot by me.  I don’t know why, I just think it’s funny as hell.  This would change, of course, if the driver beside me anticipated having his doors blown off – by a guy on a bicycle.

5.  I like how it feels cornering.  On my normal 16 mile ride, I enter into a residential neighborhood for about 4 blocks…  I make a left down a short hill to a sharp right turn.  This is my favorite part of that 16 mile ride – about 500 yards, and I hit that right turn smiling every single time, in the drops at about 27 mph, I lean on my bike – left foot down and all of the weight I can put on it to hammer through that turn searching for the apex, the perfect angle to hit that turn so I can stay in my lane in the event that there’s a car approaching the other way…through the turn, absorb three rolling “bumps”, and continue down the road.  I love that corner.

6.  I love how fast that bike is in the wind.  This was rather unexpected.  I can remember riding my shorter Cannondale and absolutely struggling, mashing the pedals as hard as I could, just to get to 15 mph in a stiff wind.  Riding into the wind was difficult because riding in the drops was miserable because the cockpit (the distance from the bar to the seat) was way too short.  On the Trek, in the same wind I can still keep it at around 17 or 18 mph.

7.  I love the wheels – they’re bulletproof and fast (if a little heavy, according to what I’ve read) – and they match the bike perfectly…and the spoke pattern is awesome.  Everybody should be as lucky as me.  I couldn’t be happier with my bike.

Two Days and a Wakeup

With two days and a wakeup to go to my first 100k I started on maintenance prep yesterday evening instead of going out on my daily ride.  I checked over every inch of my bike (have I mentioned how much I love that bike?  I think so, but I’ll throw that in one more time – I love that bike), degreased the chain, shifted through all of the gears, wiped off the chain and thouroughly cleaned the chain rings and cassette, cleaned the entire bike off, checked every nut and bolt to make sure it was appropriately tight – basically a decent “once over”.  It is what it is, but I’m not exactly too keen on this whole “tapering” dealio.  At the very least, I know when Sunday rolls around I’ll be rarin’ to go.  On tap for today is plenty of work from home – I’m working on one of the most intricate little jobs I’ve ever quoted, and it’s proving to be a serious pain in my butt.  I’ll sandwich in a 16 mile ride at “race pace” at lunch, as the conditions should mimic those expected for Sunday.  I’m having a tough time figuring out what I’ll be wearing on the big day – starting out it’s going to be cold, around 35-37 (F) so it’s absolutely going to be a foot warmer day (wool socks just won’t cut it).  The trick is going to be whether or not I decide to wear a jacket or go with an Under Armour shirt, jersey and arm warmers.  I’m planning on riding today in my jacket to get an idea of whether or not I’ll be too warm.  It should be around 50 degrees at noon so I’m doubting it.  After my ride I’ll be heading over to my local running shop to pick up my Roctane Gels and a couple of Cliff Bars and then finishing up on the bike maintenance this evening (tire pressure etc.).  For tomorrow, I won’t be riding to the running club and I’m keeping it to a 5k easy run around the lake.

The 1 millimeter adjustment on my saddle that I wrote about the other day worked fantastically well by the way – my hot spot is gone…  It’s surprising to me the difference five thousandths of an inch can make – it’s actually kind of funny when I think about it.  Five months ago I was happily (if painfully) riding a bike that was too small by a matter of inches, now I’ve got my setup down to a few thousandths.

Time for a laugh – and this is a good one…

Holy smokes, is this funny!  One of the salesmen who works for a supplier sent me this…

Original ad: I need someone who speaks japanese to help me translate something. wont take too long. please email me ASAP!
From Me to ************@***********.org:
Hi! You need Japanese translate? I Chan, I help you with translate.
– Chan
From Scott ******* to Me:
hey chan. so ok heres the deal. my cd player suddenly stopped working and i cant figure out why. for some reason the only manual i have is entirely in japanese. i took a pic of the page im pretty sure its the trouble shooting part. can you see if it says anything about no sound coming from the output?
 Photo Available by clicking on link above
From Me to Scott *******:
Ok, I find three thing may help you:
“Failure of Sound from Device” “Skipping of disc for poor sound” “Sound volume low very much”
– Chan
From Scott ******* to Me:
umm..what does it say for the failure of sound one?
From Me to Scott *******:
“Hello and thank you for chose glorious master CD player! Apologies many for trouble of product. To fix failure of the sound, follow step:
1. Unplug glorious master CD player 2. Plug glorious master CD player back in”
I hope this help!
– Chan
From Scott ******* to Me:
that doesnt help me at all. is that all it says?
From Me to Scott *******:
Oh no! Very sorry. There more steps to help you! Here:
“If still experience failure of the sound, your glorious master CD player possessed by audio demon. To banish audio demon, follow step:
1. Ignite seven candle 2. Pray to Benzaiten, Goddess of Music 3. Benzaiten will banish audio demon to eternal suffering 4. Try play CD again
If you fail banishing of audio demon, you failure. Much dishonor of family name. Suggest immediate death by Seppuku.”
I hope you banish audio demon! Much luck.
– Chan (more…)