It’s been a beautiful weekend already and it hasn’t really even started yet! Starting with yesterday’s events, I went over to Assenmancher’s and installed my 30 t chain ring with a helpful watch-over from Matt himself (and he did the tuneup afterwards – holy smokes, what takes me 5 minutes he did in about 45 seconds). I’ve never seen a person move with such fluidity… I learned a lot about my bike today, self extracting crank (oh yeah, no special tools), how to line up the chain rings properly (and that mine was not lined up properly to begin with, but is now)… It was awesome, and a really fun experience.
That wasn’t the best part of the day though… Mrs. BgddyJim asked if she had time to ride before I left to get my ride wrenched on (are you kidding me? I’ll make time work for that), and if I could change her clip-less pedals over from her road bike to her mountain bike. Well folks, I can tell you, that is going to get old really fast. Worse yet, I don’t have a slim wrench so I have to break those suckers free with a regular Allen wrench – it wasn’t happening without the proper leverage (I was a couple of grams of effort from bending the wrench). So Mrs. BDJ asked if it would just be easier to get another set of pedals… The problem here is that I know my lovely wife is going to want to ride in normal shoes from time to time so a new set of dual use pedals is just shy of $100 – on the other hand, I don’t ever use the cage side of the dualies that I have on my mtb – so I swapped out my pedals onto her bike and got a new set for my bike (which obviously went onto the road bike and the old pedals went onto my mtb). So instead of the Hundie, I blew a fifty and got a shiny new pair of pedals for my road bike, the wife got exactly what she wants and we’re all happy – and to beat that, on her ride, she averaged almost 14 mph on her dirt roads! She’s getting fast folks, and I’m absolutely digging it. The smile on her face when she got back was priceless.
Unfortunately, it was downhill from there for the rest of Friday. I’d planned on getting some work done after getting my bike fixed (it’s perfect – I can shift through all 27 gears in a matter of a couple of seconds) and maybe cutting some grass in the evening. Instead I got a call from my dad’s nursing home that he was getting sick and he needed a trip to the Emergency Room. I dropped everything and headed to the home to take him in. Four hours, two chest x-rays and some blood work later and we found out what I’d suspected from the beginning – no big deal. A little bronchitis. Some penicillin and rest. I’m telling you folks, getting old doesn’t suck – I’ve seen scores of people do it gracefully – getting old out of shape is what sucks. My dad, while never fat, was minimally overweight but in terrible physical condition. His rapid decline is completely attributable to a lack of fitness through his adult life.
After the ER, I took him out to Arby’s (his absolute favorite) for dinner and then back to the nursing home. Please don’t get me going on the Arby’s – the man needs to eat so we let him stuff his face with what he likes a couple of times a week. As far as a balanced meal goes, it’s too late for all of that now, the Alzheimer’s has taken too much of him for it to matter and it would be like making a five year old eat his steamed broccoli. I arrived back at the abode around 6 o’clock to a house full of girls, my daughters are having one of their famous sleepovers. With the girls in and out of the house and all about the yard, it was impossible to safely cut the grass. I grabbed a couple of movies and headed into our bedroom where I watched, relaxed and unwound.
So, getting to this morning… I’ve got another Olympic Tri training day on the books, complete with the swim today. It’s going to be 91 degrees so I’ll have to watch the heat on the way back, but I’m heading down early to get the run out of the way. I know it’s not exactly wise to swim after running and riding but I’ll be OK, and I’ll probably cut it down from 1,800 meters (we do 1,800 instead of the normal 1,500) to 1,200.
It’ll be a new record month for me when I’m done, with 598 miles in already, I should smash last month’s record by more than 20 miles.
I LOVE SATURDAYS!
My buddy English Pete tore the meniscus in his right knee doing dead lifts at his cross-fit club a few months ago. After figuring it was something minor and trying to give it time to heal, he finally went in for an MRI. Sure enough…
He had it fixed yesterday, surgically. It turns out, not only did he tear it, it folded over on itself. If you remember from previous posts, English Pete is an ultra-marathon runner. The meniscus is the knee cartilage: “It usually refers to either of two specific parts of cartilage of the knee: The lateral and medial menisci. Both are cartilaginous tissues that provide structural integrity to the knee when it undergoes tension and torsion. The menisci are also known as ‘semi-lunar’ cartilages — referring to their half-moon “C” shape — a term which has been largely dropped by the medical profession, but which led to the menisci being called knee ‘cartilages’ by the lay public.”
When the doctors went in to cut out the tear, much to their surprise (not mine), he had more cartilage than the average person – I’ve written about this before, many, many times – running signals the brain, and the responsive 1% of cells present in the cartilage itself, to create more. Thus, when the doctors removed the tear, he now only has as much knee cartilage as the normal person…
Folks, running isn’t bad for your joints – if your body hasn’t been injured in a manner that makes running impossible or you’re too overweight, the shock from running is good for you. Now, the injury issue may be cause to keep from running, but the weight issue absolutely is not – one just has to start out a little slower and work up to it.
So far I’ve had one friend that got a better hip for a replacement because he ran (denser bones – and the replacement was required because of two accidents, not running) and a friend that has more knee cartilage because he runs – exactly as studies say.
In the one year and one month that I’ve been tracking my workouts, technically since I got serious about cycling, I’ve just rolled over the caloric equivalent of 500 burgers burned off of my gut. Granted, I’ve downed a few in that year and a month, but a fella’s gotta maintain his weight. That translates to 270,333 calories, and it’s really showing well. When I started out I weighed 171 pounds, had a little remnant of a gut and a couple of stubborn love handles that I just couldn’t kill with running. I’d actually highly considered liposuction for quite a while – but then I bought a bike. As much cash as I’ve blown on cycling (and it’s considerable), I’m still to the good by a couple of grand if I’d opted for the easy way out – and I’m immeasurably happier for going with the hard way. Work has been stressful for the last year and I really don’t know how I would have coped without the relief I get from cycling.
I’m an every day rider. With the exception of rain days, I won’t take a day off. This is not without its challenges. Specifically, I tend to ride too hard too often. Two weeks ago I had a pretty slow week because I was tiring out and I began slowing down. I was having a tough time hitting my normal 20 mph pace. I’ve been trying to temper my need to ride and my drive to go fast by throwing in slower rides but I’ve found it difficult – for some time – to back off. After a really strong weekend last week I went for a slow recovery pace ride, and for that one, I actually slowed it down by a fair amount. On Tuesday I had a pretty rough club ride but I managed to maintain something close to my average pace – I just struggled mightily to do it. Rather than throw a ride at that on Wednesday, and faced with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, I took a rare day off and went for a swim with my wife and kids instead.
This morning, with temps expected in the mid-90’s, I decided to ride early before it got hot and my word did I notice a difference! My legs felt noticeably livelier. The reasons behind my riding daily are tough for me to get a handle on, but I decided to take a look at it because that day off made a heck of a difference.
First, I love the endorphin rush associated with cycling hard. I have fun at 17 mph, but I feel good after 25 miles at 20 mph…and it doesn’t have much to do with a sense of accomplishment (though there is some of that). It’s the sense of well-being that comes with the endorphin rush that I love. Being a recovering addict, the sense of well-being is why I drank in the first place, because after the first beer or six, I would finally feel OK. After a case, I really didn’t care about much. The endorphin rush gives me the OK without the mess associated with not caring about anything and a whole slew of life and health problems. Am I addicted to the endorphin rush? Well that’s a bit of a sticky question. I can go a day without it, but would I be able to walk away completely from cycling? Well I just hope I don’t have to find that out. So far the benefits outweigh any negatives 10 to 1, and I have no serious life issues such as hiding from work or my family to ride – though that takes constant monitoring.
Second, I love the way it unwinds me after work. I used to just rely on “the drive home”, but that had plenty of problems and rarely worked. After I’m done with a ride I am noticeably less stressed out than when I first clip in. Some of this has to do with the endorphins as mentioned above, but there’s something more to it. Something meditative that’s hard to put my finger on.
Third, I absolutely dig the way I look and feel. I haven’t had back pain in several months and I just plain old feel strong. Beyond the feelings, I love how I look, and that’s been a long time coming… Decades.
Finally and by far the most important, I’ve been average at anything fun my whole life. With cycling, I’m decidedly above average and I absolutely dig it. Being pretty good to begin with motivates me to get out and do it more. Take my mountain bike excursion last Sunday – I felt strong! And I felt like I could go around again when I was done… This is not like me. It’s taken a lot to get me to this point and I don’t, under any circumstances, want to lose my momentum. In terms of health and happiness (and Alzheimer’s) there’s a lot riding on this.
Whatever I do I might have to work in at least one day a week off the bike.
If you would have told me, a year ago, that this summer I would be writing a blog post about tan lines, I’d have replied with a chuckle. Actually, if you told me I’d have my own blog a year ago, I’d have doubted it… But here I am. If you would have added that I’d be PROUD of those tan lines, what amounts to a farmer’s tan, I’d have said you were flat out nuts.
So my wife and I are over at the neighbor’s pool trying to beat the heat and, looking at my legs, she asks, “how did you get so tan?”.
Now I’m working on being more civil and loving to my wife, so rather than answer with some kind of lighthearted dig about the amount of cycling I do, which would have been senseless and counterproductive, I simply raised the leg of my swimming trunks to reveal the well defined transition where my cycling shorts cover my upper legs. Her eyes comically widened.
To say that the transition is stark is to understate by an order of magnitude. My legs go from a healthy sunscreen slowed bronze to a bright mid-winter white in the space of a hundredth of one millimeter – in fact, the white is so crisp in the daylight that I would have waited to uncover had she not been wearing her sunglasses for it surely would have damaged her eyes. I briefly contemplated requesting that she don a welder’s mask.
So here I am, writing a blog post – about my glorious cycler’s tan – with pride, rather than a heavy heart, fit beyond my wildest dreams of even two years ago.
It’s a strange world.
The first day in a month where we barely have a breeze – and it’s supposed to hit close to 100 degrees today… So much for a bike ride.
Fortunately there are three sports in a triathlon – it’ll be a great day to finally start working on the swimming, and just in the nick of time – I’ll have to do almost a mile in about two weeks and three days… WOOHOO!
One of my favorite excuses for not exercising is the tried and true, “I can’t, I smoke” excuse. I’ve heard it a hundred times.
I would go out on a limb and tell the world that you can’t possibly be stupid enough to believe that excuse, but I’ve said it and meant it… I was obviously ignorant back then, but we can’t hardly hold that against someone, now can we? Of course not, what good would it do?
The truth is you can run if you smoke, for starters. Not only is it possible, if you do happen to smoke, that’s double the reason to exercise! Crime in Italy, Chuck, if you’re going to kill yourself slowly, one puff at a time, you may as well do something that will hopefully counteract that a little bit!
Everyone that I run with ran through their smoking years – all of them – myself included.
One more excuse down the garbage chute. ‘Fore long all we’ll have left is [stomping feet] “I don’t WANNA”!!! Which is about right, there isn’t much more than that.
Suck it up campers, or sit in the excuses for a bit longer, it’s all good.
Of course, if you give fitness a try and hate it, I’m sure you can find someone to refund your misery.
I really worked on getting my recovery rides slowed down, but that wasn’t the end – I also wanted to speed my cadence up too. I’ve paid a lot more attention to picking the tempo up a bit (more on that at a later date).
So I set out yesterday afternoon with a goal of 16 mph, or 80% of my normal average. I Still have a tough time moving my legs that fast without a heavy enough gear behind it. It’s tough for me to balance between fast, and out of control with nothing to push against.
That said, it was quite hot yesterday (upper 80’s) and a little breezy so taking it easy was nice, especially after the group ride on Tuesday. I settled into a nice little cadence around 100 rpm, tuned out my Endomondo chick and just settled in for a nice ride.
The most enjoyable aspect of riding easy is not having to push so hard on the pedals, just letting them turn without getting five shades of winded is just – nice! I don’t want to get too used to that, and I’m hoping that the practice of using an increased cadence translates to better performance on my normal effort rides.
For today I’ll be heading out on another easy ride, and I’ll try to keep that same pace though I’ll have to see how things work out though – it might even be a day off, I’ve got a tremendous amount of work to get through. Oh, and it’s supposed to get close to 100 degrees… I think I’ll opt for taking the kids swimming.
Final notes on yesterday’s ride: 16 miles in 56 minute and some change, 17 mph average – a little above target, but as it turns out, with the higher cadence and easier gear I just can’t go any slower than that. Another 812 calories down the drain.
I picked out a new light set for Mrs. BDJ that I’ll be reviewing after I get a chance to ask her how they work. She rides close to dusk on Wednesday nights, so they’re much needed. Lights have come a long way – these are rechargeable with an 8 hr. burn time, and the way they hook on to the bars/seat post is brilliant. Very cool.