And So Begins Another Saturday…
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!
Running – And The Average Meniscus…
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.
500 BURGERS BURNED! After A Needed Day Off
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.
It’s All In The Tan Lines
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.
Far Be It For Me To Complain But…
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!
I Don’t [Insert Fitness Activity Here] Because I Smoke…
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.
Getting The Recovery Ride Right
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.
Endomondo Goes All In With Calorie Tracking…
I’ve posted about a brazillion times about Endomondo because I think the tracking software is awesome – I was actually happy to buy the pay app just so I could contribute to the company.
For the longest time they went by a standard formula to figure calories burned for each sport, adjusted for speed. Correctly, I might add, the faster you go, the more you burn.
Now they’ve got a formula that takes into account activity, age, gender, speed, weightand heart rate.
The good news is that I’ll have a hyper accurate accounting of how many of calories that I’m burning… On the other hand, I’ve only ever counted my calories once – in 41 years of pumping air on this planet. I can use that information like I can use a hit in the head. I’m a pretty simple guy: Oh, hey, the scale’s going down. Time to eat more. Or Oh, hey, the scale’s going up, better make that Whopper a Junior!
Road Bike: $3,000
Mountain Bike: $650
Running Shoes: $125
Jammers, goggles and cap: $75
Cycling Clothes and Accessories: $1,250
Truck to transport all of that s#!t around: $8,000
Time devoted to getting into shape: 1 – 3 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Not having to kick the cat when the desert tray goes by?
What’s a brazillion you ask?
Donald Rumsfeld is in the Oval Office speaking with President Bush. Rumsfeld, speaking about the Iraq war, says “Mr. President, I have some bad news… Three Brazillian soldiers were killed today in the explosion outside the Green Zone”.
The President turns to Rumsfeld, visibly shaken… “Well that’s terrible”… “Hey, how many’s in a brazillion?”
Fan of President Bush or not, that one’s funny.
It’s Not Easy Being Lean…
Yesterday’s club ride was not good for me. I thought one recovery ride would be enough for my legs to come back after a really stellar training weekend. I was wrong. My inequities, how should I say, were shining in their impressiveness last evening – yes, that’s a pretty way of saying I was not in top form.
After getting home from the office, I waxed my bike and got my supplies ready while the wax set up. I packed everything into the truck and went in to polish my bike up… Things were looking fairly good and I felt ready, though I did have that nagging “what if” in the back of my mind. Facing facts, I went at my training really hard on Saturday and Sunday. There were easy legs – my ride out to the running club was slow by normal standards and half of my 10k was slow too, but the longer ride back to the house and the last half of my 10k were done at my highest level. Sunday didn’t seem to be too tough with a 20 mile day on the fat tire bike, even though I knocked 21 minutes off of my last ride through the 13 mile trail, followed by a relatively fast ride looking for my wife and kids I really felt quite good after I was done… An easy and slow recovery ride on Monday, I figured would be just the thing to shake any cobwebs loose.
Oh my, no – that was not the case. We started off really easy to wait for everyone to get in line, a fair crowd but not as big as two weeks ago – and I was up front, where I most decidedly do not belong early on. We were two miles in before we even touched 20 mph, but it went crazy from there – by mile 4 we were up to 24 mph, and part of that was my pull. And that’s just about the time I blew up. My “want to” went right out the door. I dropped off the back and spent 20 seconds at 16 mph to catch my breath before picking up my pace. The next ten miles I maintained a steady 19.5 mph pace into a steady breeze, just waiting to catch the tailwind. When I turned the corner at 15 I could have sworn I saw somebody up ahead that I could latch on to so I gunned it. With a cross-tailwind I managed 21-25 mph over the next 5 miles trying to catch up (minus a stiff climb that I attacked as hard as I dare). The 21st mile is downhill so I kept a 22 mph pace through that before we got to some pretty steep climbs, and that’s where I reeled my guy in. I hung on to his wheel for a few minutes and then took a pull myself – he had aero bars so I figured he’d be ok. When I started my pull, he faded back – he must have been more gassed than I was (or he wanted to ride alone). I was off on my own again by mile 23.
I had decided after I chose to drop off the back that I’d be taking the short cut, knocking 3 miles off of my ride, because I wasn’t exactly feeling all that good at mile 5, I figured by mile 31 I’d be wrecked with 2 miles to go. By mile 25 and 26 I was starting to see-saw. I’d get up to 22 and hold that for a bit then drop down to 16, catch my breath and ramp the speed back up… That’s when some of the big dogs caught up with me (I’d taken the short cut). Matt and Mike and a few of the other guys, so I latched on with them for a bit. After crossing an intersection we worked our way up to 20, then 22, 24 and at 26 for more than half a mile – that’s when my proverbial wheels fell off. I dropped off the back, shut the GPS down and crawled for the 3/4’s of last mile. I know what the problem is – specifically. I know where my threshold is and I’m very good at riding just under it. The problem shows up when I have to ride at or above it… I’m only good for a few minutes before I have to back off. That’s exactly what happened.
In the end, I thought I’d done a lot worse while I was on my bike and judging by my overall average (19.3), but going back through the ride, mile by mile, I actually hung in there pretty good until I started to see-saw, and for the last 3/4’s of a mile. Surprisingly well actually – I’d bet the see-saw alone knocked a good three tenths off the overall average and I left another three tenths out there… But that doesn’t change the fact that I absolutely busted my ass to do it. I finished beaten up.
I’m not done yet though – this gets interesting!
When I pulled into the parking lot, Mike (one of the faster guys and one of the last guys I’d ever expect to offer some friendly advice) came over and said, “you know you didn’t have to fall off back there”. I told him that I just didn’t have anything left, that I’d busted my butt to catch one of the aero bar guys for miles – but deep down I now know he was right (sure didn’t feel like it then though). I had the ability, what I lacked was the “want to”. In response he offered another tidbit, even more unexpected; he said, “you just need to learn how to hide”… And when I asked him how he got so fast and how I could hide, he simply said, “I’m beat by the time I get out here. I already rode this morning and I worked half of the day. I just take short pulls and hang out in the back. As far as learning how to hide goes…” He just pointed at Matt and said, “he’s the best there is”.
And then Mike asked me if I wanted to join them on an 80 mile 4th of July ride. I must have splashed a little spittle on my shoes when my jaw dropped onto them.
So I’ll have 80 miles with my Yoda to learn how to hide.
A ride that I thought would end sucky turned out to be just the thing I needed, and it really went a long way in reinforcing my belief in the social aspect of cycling… And from the least likely of the forty odd people I’ve met out there. That was a really nice surprise.
Oh, and one other thought… Had I put too much weight on the manner in which I perceive other people I’d have missed out on some great advice and an invitation to ride with some really great guys – and just ended up with a sucky ride. I can withdraw and be an asshole because I think someone doesn’t like me, as juvenile as that reads (I can’t believe I actually typed it), as would have been the case with the way I misread Mike, but then I’d have missed the lifeline that he threw me – hell, I wouldn’t have been close enough to see it.
Live and learn grasshopper, live and learn. Talk about a full circle.