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Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Sometimes things just don’t work out the way I think they should…

Yesterday was planned to be a hotbed of excitement. Cool, but decent weather, long bike rides, lots of food including burgers for dinner, Dairy Queen and finally, a figure-eight race at the local fairgrounds… In my world it doesn’t get any better than that – and that’s before a line of cars drives around in an “8” smashing into each other.

Let’s see, long bike rides – uh, not quite, two shortish rides make a decent 21 miles on the FTB (fat tire bike) but that sure isn’t “long”. Decent weather, check. Lots of food, well it was ‘a lot for me’, check (though my step-father-in-law ran out of grill gas so we had to fry them to finish cooking the burgers – yuk!). Played catch with my oldest daughter and my wife – catch, ground ball drills, pop-fly drills, check. Dairy Queen, check. Repeat after me, …have come to understand that we are powerless against an Oreo Cheesequake Blizzard… We get to the fairgrounds a few minutes before the start…and it’s a mud bog, not a figure-eight. Well crap.

There was a go-cart center just up the road and my eldest wanted to trade the mud bog for a ride on a go-cart. After the kid behind the counter asked me to rip my arm out of the socket and hand it to him as a down payment on the tickets ($14 for my wife and daughter – for about 3 minutes of racing) I set to videotaping the event. And just laughed my butt off as my nine-year-old daughter took the inside track on most of the corners to fend my wife off (even if she screwed up the first three laps and went blazing through the pits instead of staying on the course (not good!). We laughed and played and I paid… And had a perfect day.

Today? Round 2!

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So here’s my unvarnished spin on shit and sunshine… Sometimes shit stinks and seems to stick to everything. Rarely do things turn out the way I want or plan them to. Now, if I’m going to enjoy my time on this rock, if I turn into a bitch every time things don’t how i think they should, I’m going to miss a whole lot of fun. Sometimes you’ve gotta fire down a gnarly burger, baby.

Now, if I could just remember this when shit gets really hectic…

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A Weekend On The Fat Tire Bike…

We’re up at the in-law’s house for a much needed long weekend vacation. The cool thing about this is that they live in the middle of nowhere so we packed up the kids’ bikes too and we’ll be going for family rides on mostly deserted roads all weekend long. Unfortunately the Middle of Nowhere, Michigan doesn’t have paved roads so we’re playing on the fat-tire bikes and while temperatures are forecast lower than normal, we will have plentiful sunshine. In other words, it’ll be perfect for long bike rides. The only questions will be how far, how long and how many hills… Oh yes, the hills. The one awesome thing about the Middle of Nowhere, Mi is that they have real hills.

So that’s how this weekend is going to stack up – lots of sunshine, bike rides and softball practice with the girls… And a semi-break from work. Sounds like heaven on earth to me.

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Guest Post At Vivathlete

I was contacted by the editor of Vivathlete.com last week who asked if I’d do a guest post for their awesome triathlon site (I also follow the wordpress site).  I hadn’t written a really good “my story” post in quite a while so it was an interesting challenge…  What to include, what to leave out?  I re-wrote the thing twice and then took the better part of Monday and Tuesday to edit it down to its final form that can be read here.

An excerpt, and probably one of my favorite paragraphs of the post:

For me, training is one of two options:  It’s either train or do as my buddy Grateful Jim suggests:  “We can all head down to the local donut shop and tell each other lies about why we’re overweight and miserable and have a grand old time”.  I have tried the latter one time, standing in front of the mirror more than a decade ago…  That period lasted less than 24 hours – it just isn’t for me.

Generally, while I do think highly of myself, I have a problem with tooting my own horn – or more aptly stated, with self-promotion.  I find it rather distasteful.  On the other hand I really like that post.  I had to abridge it quite a bit but it covers a lot of my recovery in a relatively short period.  If you have been following my blog for any length of time then you’ve probably read most of the story already but if you were wondering where I came from and what makes me tick, that post is a great place to start.

The Noob’s Guide To Cycling In The Heat…

I love riding when the temps start topping 90 degrees. The way I see it, riding is the most comfortable way to enjoy higher temperatures outside – you’ve got a built-in breeze and in my opinion, it sure beats sitting inside in the air conditioning. Now, lest you get the impression that way up here in Michigan and that I just don’t understand what it’s like to exercise in real heat (say, Florida), you’d be mistaken. While our 90-95 degree days are farther apart, I’ve golfed mid-day in July and August from Florida to Texas – it’s all good to me… Enjoying myself in that kind of heat isn’t easy but there are definite steps that I take to make it livable.

First, I’m thin – at 6’0″ and 160 pounds, I don’t have a whole lot in the way of insulation. This sucks in the winter time – I’m freezing from November through February, but the other seven months of the year, I’m in heaven. This is one of those things that you can’t exactly control right away, though if you’re not in my boat, you’re obviously doing something about it if you’re reading this post.

There are other things that I do that keep me truckin’ even in the hottest weather we get and through mid-summer vacations down south though…

Following a time line, if I’m expecting to go on a long ride, I start hydrating the day before, usually with lunch. Lots and lots of water. Nothing silly, I just have a 32 ounce bottle with me at all times. With dinner I’ll have a 32 ounce Gatorade and another partial after dinner until I go to sleep. Now, in very simple terms, I’m only talking about a 10-15% increase over normal consumption. Day of, depending on what time I’m riding (figure morning for this post), I’ll drink my normal two cups of coffee, shower and get ready. When I get out of the shower, I get that partially hit Gatorade from the night before and finish that off… And I’m ready.  Now, I don’t know if hydrating this way, or this early, is beneficial but for me it works and I have confidence when I do – and that’s what matters.

During a ride, up to 40 miles I can usually get away with just two water bottles.  Either both H2O or one H2O and one H2O with an electrolyte tab.  Beyond that, Gatorade is worth its weight.  I need the electrolyte replacement and the sweetness doesn’t bother my stomach so I go with one Gatorade filled bottle and one with H2O.  This is good up to 50.  For anything over that I’ll stop at a gas station (or two – or three for a century) and refill – same thing, and then I buy one of the small Coca-Cola’s…  Why?  Well, a Coke 3/4’s of the way through a 100 mile ride tastes good, I had a craving for one during a 200k last year and honest to God, it was about the best Coke I’ve ever had in my life, so now I make it a point to have one at some point toward the end a long ride.  The sugar and caffeine are a nice boost.  Dealing with the 100 mile distance, before and during, I want to be at around 200 ounces during the ride and then another 40-100 ounces after (depending).

Finally, and most importantly, I always make it a point to eat something salty after a long ride.  Now keep in mind my weight when I let this out – I don’t have any weight to lose:  I eat a double Quarter Pounder (no cheese), a large fry and either a lemonade, sprite or iced tea.

Now, there was a process that led to this very exact setup.  When I started getting into the longer miles last year, I went through a phase where my sweat stopped tasting salty.  I didn’t get the grainy feeling on my skin either after the sweat dries.  Shortly thereafter my performance level dropped precipitously.  Originally I just went with water only.  In fact, during a ride was one of the very few times that I really enjoyed water.  I didn’t like the heaviness of and sugar in the sports drinks.  Plain old water always did the trick and quenched my thirst completely but without the electrolyte replacement I got into trouble.  Also, there are the electrolyte replacement tabs that one can add to water.  Generally they add a little bit of flavor but they don’t weigh the water down too much.  They work quite well though I’ve only had the Gu tabs and I seem to have a problem with the effervescence though that doesn’t keep me from using them.

A Happy Cycling Anniversary To Me (and to Mr. Bikevcar)…

Today is my second Cycling Anniversary. My life changed for the better on May 23, 2011 when two days before I bought a cheap Huffy bike that was easily three sizes too small. Still 40 years-old at the time, I had no clue that I would absolutely fall in love with riding a bicycle – let alone two.

Two weeks after that first ride I bought a properly sized Trek 3700 that I still own and though I choose it less frequently in favor of my 5200 road bike, I still love that mountain bike. The 5200, on the other hand, is my ride of choice and my pride and joy. It’s an older bike, for sure, but it’s still whisper quite and rides smooth and fast.

Two years ago I’d become disenchanted with running, it simply became boring. With cycling however, I find it vastly more entertaining. I went from running two days a week to cycling six days and running two. I get a nice little endorphin rush almost every time I go out and it’s become a necessity to decompression after a stressful day at the office. In fact, I can throw a ride at any tough situation and straighten myself back out.

Cycling has brought a balance and joy to my life. Where there was once doubt and consternation there is peace and understanding – and confidence. Cycling, as much as anything before it, has taught me how to flip the bird to the committee in my head that cries out in chorus, “you can’t”. Cycling is something that I look forward to on a daily basis.

Cycling has given me true fitness and some badass legs. Lungs so strong that my doctor complains about how long it takes for me to fill them when he says robotically, “okay, take a deep breath”.  A strong, steady, efficient and clean heart – when the nurse takes my pulse for a checkup it almost always illicits an “oh, wow”…

Cycling has given me something to share with my wife and girls – and a way to do for my wife what she once did for me when she got me into running.

Cycling is my Ritalin. It’s my Coca-Cola, my chocolate cake and my Big Mac.

Cycling is my addiction…  With a few exceptions of course: Cycling makes me healthier, it doesn’t poison me. Cycling helps me to keep my wife, kids and job, it doesn’t take away everything in my life that is good (though it is fair to argue that alcohol didn’t take those things – I gave them up, almost without a fight). Cycling will help me to be active at 80, while alcohol would have had me dead at 30.

Cycling is my deserted island for an hour a day.

As a celebratory ride I headed out yesterday for an easy sixteen. I was cruising along, enjoying what was a great spring day that was forecast to be a washout. I’d worked hard the night before on the club ride and I was in the mood to just enjoy a spin. At the seven mile mark I turned west and saw this:

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Now folks, that’s not good when you’ve got nine miles left. I thought about knocking a few miles off by heading straight back at a leisurely pace to save my legs… Then I thought better of that and decided to turn it into a game to see if I could beat the rain. Now this decision was fairly stupid – those are severe weather clouds. There was a fair chance of lightning in them – I do not recommend this behavior.  Now, heading west I was into a steady 20 mph cross-headwind so the best I could do was about 17… After that mile though I got into the gas and got to moving. To make a long story short, with a mile to go into a full on 20 mph headwind I was pushing for all I was worth – 19 mph with the clouds right on top of me…  It was going to be close.  Half-mile to go and the wind picked up and so did I. 20 mph and the sprinkles started, then intensified. I made it into the house just before the sky opened up. Just in time.

A caveat:  Back when I was just a young buck, my dad (who was a meteorologist in the Air Force) helped me with my fifth grade science project – a full workup of three months worth of weather, three measurements a day, rain accumulation, types of clouds present in the sky, wind direction and velocity – he taught me everything that a fifth grader could comprehend (and then some) about the weather.  Well, that science project (for which I got an A+ and recognition) has stuck with me my whole life so I can tell by looking at the sky, pretty much within a few minutes, when bad weather is going to hit so I wasn’t exactly taking a crap-shoot.  Unless you have enough experience to do this on your own, I highly recommend against it.

Also, please stop by my English brother in chain rings’ site to wish him a happy cycling anniversary as well.  His will be coming up in three weeks.  Three cheers for BikevCar!  Happy anniversary to us brother.

UPDATE:  And to Laura, who celebrated her Second Anniversary yesterday!

Cycling: A Scary Bonk That Doesn’t Add Up

I went out for my Tuesday evening club ride, a 33 mile loop, and I bonked – bad. Now, I did a lot of things very right and a couple very wrong.

It was a warm night, somewhere in the low 80’s, but exceptionally windy and I went out a little hungry. I had plenty to drink, two full bottles, one with a Gu electrolyte tab and I had a decent lunch, chicken alfredo with extra chicken, so I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. I was mistaken.

The group fractured almost immediately when speeds rose above 25 mph. After my pull, as I fell back and got to the last in the train way too soon I thought, “where did everybody go”!  The crowd had been culled to half within two miles. I held on as long as I could but was off the back a couple of miles later.

I just didn’t have it in me to work that hard last night. It turned out that Matt and a friend of his fell of just before I did. I slowed a touch and let them catch up as we were dead into a howling wind at that point. We rode together taking shifts for almost all of the 26 remaining miles before I trailed off the back to let them have some “bro” time.  In the last mile and a half they caught up to two other guys so I, in turn, picked up the pace and caught them all to ride the last mile.

So let’s get to the bonk… I worked hard in the middle miles because it appeared that Matt’s friend wasn’t quite as strong we were and I was feeling pretty fresh.  Also, we had a tailwind for all of a handful of miles at the beginning – the rest was all cross and headwind so it was pretty tough sledding.  About 28 miles (out of the 33) I started getting hungry – not a little bit hungry, but that “oh no, I’m in trouble” hungry.  By the time I rolled into the parking lot I was famished.  I finished strong enough but I was really feeling it, and I was seriously looking forward to the after-ride dinner.  I spoke with some of the guys for a minute to be social, packed up and hit the road.  1/4 mile down the road I was hit by an incredible thirst that was worse than anything I’d ever experienced and I was shaking a little bit so I stopped at a gas station and picked up a couple of 24oz Gatorades.  The first was gone within 30 seconds and I started coming around a bit so I made a bee-line for Burger King…  This is where things got really weird.  I was so hungry that by the time I got my food, I didn’t want to eat it.  I felt nauseous, so much so that I couldn’t eat.  This is when I really started to get nervous.  I forced half of my dinner down (very slowly) and then wrapped it up and drove home, hoping the drive would give my stomach a chance to settle.  Sure enough, by the time I pulled into the driveway I felt quite a bit better so I went in, popped on the Tiger’s game and finished my dinner.

Within a half hour of finishing, I was out like a light and slept like a baby until 15 minutes before the alarm went off (first time I slept beyond 4 am all week).

I’ve spent all morning kicking around what went wrong and I’ve gotta tell you, I still can’t figure it out.  When I hit the starting line yesterday I was ready to go and I’ve ridden much better in worse conditions.  For now I’m just chalking it up to “one of those days”.

A Fantastic Question… How To Make Lycra Fit!

So the question has been posed by a peruser of my blog (in the form of a search topic): How do you make Lycra fit?

The answer can be very complex if you magically want to change nothing and look in the mirror and not be bummed out, I don’t have the answer for that because there is no such thing.  Not only are you looking for a unicorn, you’re looking for a unicorn that shits golden eggs.  On the other hand, it can be very simple if you actually want to make the Lycra fit…

Five thousand miles on a bike give or take, most of them in your fat burning zone (2) and a sensible diet.

That’s it.  If you want your Lycra to fit better ride 5,000 miles in a year (1 hour, four days a week and 2 hours each day on the weekend) and make sure you have a caloric daily deficit of at least 500 (BMR – 500).  Run and/or ride a trainer through the winter (1/2 hour four days a week + a weekend run). Rinse and repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Now, if you’ve only got 5-15 to drop, don’t worry so much about the deficit…  As long as you don’t do the activity reward/inspired “pig-outs” (I know, easier said than done), your legs (and, um, other things) will be news worthy in less than a season.

It’s not rocket science even if some like to make it seem that way.

There’s a simple rule at work here, and I use this logic daily:  If you’re not willing to put in the effort you’d be better off heading over to the donut shop and asking someone to lie to you.