Dude, I took my cell phone snorkeling. And took photos with it. Under water. All photos were snapped between 8′ & 12′ deep. 12′ exceeds recommendations but… whatever.
The phone I’m writing this post with also survived a drop from my bicycle at better than 20 mph in the same case… there isn’t so much as a scratch on the phone and the glass is still perfect as the day I bought it.
Reason #4,276 to ride a bicycle for fitness…
You never run out of energy on vacation… at least not before you run everyone else into the dirt.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of being fit is being able to get the most out of a vacation. Only once have I been content to simply sit by and look at the beach and ocean over the tips of my toes. That was for our second honeymoon, we went down to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The weather was virtually perfect until our last day there and we did a lot of hanging out at the beach. Still, we managed to kayak on the ocean, take out a catamaran, snorkel on the reef and swim with some rather large nurse sharks. I hopped a ride on the dorsal fin of a nine footer for a few feet after watching out guide do it… I figured if he, a native of the Dominican Republic who had been doing this for years, could do it, well so could I… A native of Michigan who had only ever seen a shark up close in the movie, Jaws. My wife was not amused, though we certainly laugh about it today.
We head down south every summer and spend a lot of time hiking and exploring in addition to swimming and playing cards till the wee hours of the morning. While I have my limits, I am one of the last adults* to run out of energy when it comes to the physical side of the festivities.
I ride a bicycle 100 miles in less than five hours – a hike down the Appalachian Trail for an hour or two is literally a walk in the park.
For that I am grateful.
*I specified adults because we also bring the kids… and those little farts have a freaking endless supply of energy. Dammit.
Written on Monday…
When I left for the office with my Venge in the back of the car so I could take a minute to clean it before work, I knew darn good and well it was going to rain later in the day. The Weather Channel app had been calling Monday a washout for the better part of a week – and for once, they never changed the day the storms would arrive.
I knew I’d be riding the trainer inside before I took the kids to swim practice.
When I got home however, even though there were some ugly clouds, the sun was peaking through in several places… and it was blessedly warm, a few degrees over room temperature. The rain was coming, it was just a little late getting here.
I had less than an hour to get a ride in. If I just did the trainer, I could have done 45 minutes and gotten 18 miles in… well, maybe 16 – Sunday was pretty tough.
On the other hand, dude, it’s the trainer! I prepped my rain bike, changed and took off out the door. Even if I got caught out in the rain, the bike would clean up.
I could have taken a day off but you know better than that about me.
I figured I had 40 minutes, no more. I should have kept it to ten miles and shot for a lazy 15 mph pace just to loosen my legs up (15 is my approximation of lazy, not yours).
Once I got out there though, even in the headwind, 17-18 was just too easy to hold. I added two miles and made it back in 39 minutes. A little more than an 18 mph average. Probably a little too fast, but better that than too slow, eh?
I showered, threw dinner down my gullet and ran out the door with the kids.
I hate a sub 45 minute workout but 39 minutes outside is way better than 45 minutes on the trainer. It’s not even a contest against a day off.
I’m pretty tough when it comes to people with Donut Shop Excuses. “Oh, I’ve been too busy to stay fit” or “I’ve had too much on my plate lately (have you ever wanted to respond, “Yeah, I can see that. You obviously didn’t have to sacrifice any time at the table.”). This originates with recovery from being a drunk, of course. We don’t make room for excuses and bullshit. We know sacrificing our feelings temporarily for a firm grasp on what’s really going on is a requirement. We call it honesty. Without it, we are as good as dead. It is what it is. Unlike some, I was perfectly okay with recognizing I was a waste. How can you fix it if you won’t recognize that there’s something there to be fixed in the first place?
The truth is, at least for me, twelve miles is only good enough when I don’t have time for 16. Or 20. Or 30, 40 or 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or 100 miles. It happens two or three times a year.
We were two miles into the warm-up and I was already thinking about taking my toy home. The wind was out of the NNE and it was cold. The forecast earlier in the morning showed promise, partly cloudy, 12 mph winds and 56 degrees. I can work with that.
We got entirely cloudy, 18 mph wind with gusts well over 20 and take twelve off of that temp. Folks, it was 33 degrees, freezing warmer yesterday. I went from shorts and short sleeves to three layers in one day. It was cold enough that even in three layers, if I wasn’t moving, I was shivering.
I rolled on anyway. I lined up with the group. I rode. And I didn’t like it. The whole damned thing was just a mess. I just couldn’t settle in like I normally do.
I was off the back before we rolled over 10 miles, and at only 28 mph with a tailwind (we hit 32 last week and I lasted quite a bit longer). I just didn’t have it last night. I couldn’t get my breathing and heart rate to slow down – none of the normal tricks worked. I simply let Mike know I was done, and slipped quietly of the back.
I immediately started to figure out where I’d cut miles off the route… Should I take the 21 mile route, or the 24? I knew I wasn’t going to bother with the full 30 though. I knew I was going to go for the 21 when the turn came because I really didn’t want to be out there, but I tried to talk the committee into the 24 (the melon committee).
Then, lo and behold I see a red jersey on top of a rise heading toward me. Mike was coming back to get me. He looped around about 75 meters in front of me and we could barely see the group ahead of us as we turned a corner. It looked like Chuck and Phill were off the back about a mile up so after an easy-ish mile to catch our breath and then we set to reeling them in. I did several stints up front but I had a hard time holding a decent pace. Still, Mike and I made the best of it as we struggled into the wind. So much for the shortcut…
We had Chuck and Phill within 4 miles, which I suppose was pretty solid when you think about it but I couldn’t help but be a little pissed that I was working so hard for so little. The wind was simply unforgiving.
When we formed up I realized that it wasn’t just me. Turns at the front were short all around, maybe a quarter-mile each. I was quite chilly but dripping sweat like it was 65 degrees out. With just a few miles left the faster groups started catching up to us. The group was completely shattered. The last two of the main group was nearly on us as I was starting a turn at the front and Mike hollered up, “I’m going to try to stay with them”. I replied, “You go, I’ll see you when I see you”. I was struggling and really not having much fun.
As they were by my side Mike said, “C’mon Jim, go with them.” And I did. I jumped on to the back and we rolled out 2-3 mph faster than we’d been going. My legs were bitching up a storm but I held on and pulled through for another turn at the front. Thankfully everybody in our group made the jump so we had a fairly good line going in.
Turns up front were short but fast and we ended up with a finish I could be proud of, getting up to 24 mph into a heavy cross headwind.
I didn’t bother heading to the café for dinner afterward. I was chilled to the bone and I knew, sitting there in my sweat-drenched clothing, I was going to be miserable company. I headed to a fast food joint, ordered a burger and fries and ate my quick dinner in the parking lot with the heat cranked all the way up. Afterwards, I headed home, unpacked, and showered up. I barely remember my wife and kids coming home from swim practice at 8:30. I was entirely out by 8:35.
There were several keys that I took out of yesterday’s ugly ride…
First, my friends are awesome. I am a very lucky guy to have them.
Second, even though I had no desire to be out there, it was worth it. My gut hates that.
Third, I can get something valuable out of even an ugly ride – but not if I take my toy and go home.
Finally, I may have made my peace with the wind a few years ago but it’s still a cruel bitch every now and again.
I have a confession: When it comes to making fitness as a priority in my life, I cheat.
Recovery from addiction, if done correctly, changes a person down to their core. Once I went from a doctor or two and my parents generalizing about how “I was slowly killing myself” to a place where I could actually see solid evidence of my coming demise, things went from abstract to real very fast. All of a sudden those liver enzyme readings meant something more than a doctor’s over-reaction. Originally, when that doctor said if I didn’t quit, and in a hurry, I wouldn’t make it to my 30th birthday I took it as an over exaggeration. Within a year, I could see Death walking up to the door to knock.
Let’s just say that for me, the self-preservation aspect of recovery meant that I had to do certain things… I had to prioritize things in my life better. Quitting drinking quickly became priority number one. More important than a job, a girl, my relationship with my parents… Recovery came first because without that, the rest was impossible anyway – including staying on the right side of the grass, pumping air.
This was early on in my life. I was young, only twenty-three when these changes started taking shape.
Then my metabolism slowed down and I got lazy. I watched a lot of TV and played a lot of video games and I started putting on weight, 50 pounds in just a couple of years. I went from the low-end of the BMI scale to overweight – and I didn’t care. I figured everyone else was fat, what was the big deal if I ended up that way too? That line of thinking lasted approximately twelve hours unchallenged. Then I had one of those, “What the hell are you thinking?!” moments. See, I’d changed. I know damn good and well allowing myself to get fat will kill me just as sure as being a chronic drunk will, it’ll just take a little bit longer killing myself with food.
Immediately on waking the next morning I had an entire change of heart and mind. I started running that day, with my wife and a friend of hers. I was slow, maybe a little better than 9-1/2 minute miles, and it was a short run at only 1-1/2 miles but by the end of the next week I was up to three 5k’s a week – and the weight started coming off, slowly but surely. Then came changes in diet and even more weight dropped off of my flabby backside and gut.
Starting that morning I applied the same mindset that I’d used on alcohol and drugs to staying fit and trim.
Today, I don’t take time for fitness. I make time. While there are events that can crowd my time and make getting a ride in difficult, I make a way. Period, end of lecture. Without my fitness I am slowly killing myself, one burger at a time. I make time for fitness just like I make time for my recovery, because without those nothing else is feasible. Granted, recovery always comes first but fitness is a close second.
I plan on being active when I’m 90 so I have to be on top of it now. My friends, the less I treat fitness as an inconvenience and more like a necessity, the easier it is to make time to get it done. Tomorrow is promised to no one, but the fact that there will be fewer tomorrows is a promise, if I don’t attend to that which matters most.
I own a Cavalo jersey, the Squadra 3.0 to be specific… Well, technically I used to own two of the exact same jersey but I gave one of mine to a new kid in our group who was lacking in decent cycling apparel and cash. I also gave him a pair of my Specialized RBX Pro shorts and a couple more jerseys.
Dude, if you can’t help out a kid when you’re as fortunate as I am, what good are you?
The point is, of course, that I liked the jersey so much and they’re such a fantastic bargain, I bought a second. In fact, they still have them (sadly only in Medium) over at Nashbar for forty bucks. The one I have left still looks excellent and enjoys a regular spot in my summer cyclewear rotation. It’s three years old.
The other day I was thinking it’s time for another pair of bib shorts. My shorts, all but one pair, are starting to look a little ratty and now that I finally understand just how much better bibs are than shorts, the correct conclusion was new bibs. I don’t know as I’ll ever go back to shorts before I’m 70.
I started looking at Specialized RBX bibs. They start at $150 a pair for the decent one’s. I had second thoughts about dropping that much cheese on a pair of shorts, I won’t lie. That’s a lot of jack, Jack. I went over to Nashbar to see what they had and found the Laccio kit. Folks, I got the bibs and matching jersey for $25 less than I’d have paid for a pair of the Specialized bibs.
Sizing is a little tricky because it’s European clothing, so it runs small. Normally I’ll take an American Medium so I need a Large in anything “Pro Fit” or European. My kit arrived Thursday and put simply, it’s awesome.
.Even though I should represent, as my buddy Mike did, with my Affable Hammers kit, I wanted to try the new one out on a long ride – even though this is akin to heresy amongst cyclists (you never try a new kit out on a long ride lest you end up with an ill-fitting kit and a couple saddle sores the size of oranges). I won’t get all long and drawn out about it… The kit was awesome. In fact, it was even better than my Hammers’ kits, and that’s saying something. I paid $40 more for my Hammers’ setup too.
I made it through my 100k without so much as a pinch. Cavalo makes some good stuff.
As a side note, with the Squadra jersey, the Medium was a little tight until I hit mid-season weight, I probably would have done better with a Large. That’s what I ordered this time around and while the bibs are just a shade bigger than expected, the jersey is longer than I’d anticipated – it’s still tight in the chest, arms and torso, the tail is just longer by an inch or so. That said, the kit is definitely going into the regular rotation.
My buddy Mike had been chirping in my wife’s ear for two weeks… “We want a 20 mph on that metric, you’re gonna have to push it.”
She was cool as a cucumber in front of him but not so much at home. Let’s put it this way, I knew she could do it so that made one of us.
I gave her all of the tips I could think of and tried to pump her confidence up…
The kids were at friends’ houses so we fell asleep early after getting all of the gear prepped and putting the rack on the car. We woke up, showered, had some coffee and headed out the door.
It was a brisk start but the skies were fair and there was barely a breeze to speak of. It was one of those days where you have a tough time figuring out how to layer – or even whether to layer. I opted for a light base, jersey, arm warmers and long sleeve jersey. Just leg warmers and shorts for the lower half. My wife came close to matching me though she went for knee warmers and tights.
It was a mass start at 8 am so we took a minute to weave our way through all of the slower cyclists but within five miles we were, save those who left early, out front.
The next 32 miles were a blur. We had picked up several other cyclists along the way but only two managed to hang with our 21-22 mph pace into a mild, barely there cross headwind. We had skipped the first two rest stops and rolled into the one at the midway stop with a 20.2 average. With the vast majority of the headwind out of the way, we were sitting pretty.
If I had anything to complain about it would be that one of the guys we picked up was strong but small. Trying to hide behind him was like trying to draft a bowling ball… Rather than continually stay behind him I decided to take one full cycle behind him then shake up the order. Eventually I’d find myself behind him again and I’d do the same thing. One cycle then shake up the order. I could have tried to hold the order but I’d have paid a price for it. He was a lot of work to ride behind.
We kept a perfect pace and after shedding my arm warmers and stashing them in a back pocket I was much more comfortable. As we approached the 45 mile mark, my wife was showing signs of struggling. Our second rest stop was just up the road. I, on the other hand, was feeling pretty spectacular.
We pulled into the rest stop at 48 miles and some change… Only 14-ish miles to go and we were still showing a 20.2 average. Just 42 minutes left. I hugged and kissed my wife and reassured her that we were very close. I fired down a half a banana, topped off a bottle wirh Gatorade, used the porta-john and we were off.
About mile 52 with a cross tailwind (that was more cross than tailwind) I started showing signs of fatigue. My turns up front grew shorter, barely a mile, but remained fast between 22 & 23. After a particularly troubling pull I decided to fire down my last Gu. That was exactly what I needed – I could hear my wife barking when I got up front as I took the pace from 20-1/2 mph to 22-1/2. A minute later Mike hollered up to take it down to 21, which I did. The problem here is a question of gearing. My legs naturally spin better at a specific cadence. When I have to drop below that natural cadence, if I don’t have a gear to match the desired speed it can get a little messy. When I try to go under my little wheelhouse I find that pedaling the same gear actually feels harder at a slower speed – so that 22 feels easier than 21. Still, recharged from that last Gu I hammered through a decent turn up front. I headed back to find that we’d dropped the little guy and were down to just the four of us.
At about 58 miles we finally hit the much awaited full tailwind. There was a lot of uphill to it but it was mild so we were easily able to hold that 21 mph pace. At 62 miles we were back into the wind but charging hard for home. Then mile 63… and mile 64. Somewhere between 63 and 64 Mike and I were up front and I suggested that we let my wife pull us home. He agreed, so at about 64-1/4 miles we called her up to take us in.
My wife crossed the finish line third overall for the 100k. We did the 64.7 miles in just a few seconds over 3 hours and twelve minutes which gave us a solid 20.2 mph average – and that includes all of the slow rolling in parking lots, riding a sidewalk back to a bathroom at the first stop and some slow rolling at the finish.
All in all, it was an absolutely perfect 100k. It could not have gone better. My wife beat up on some of her anti-speed demons and Chuck, Mike and I got a fantastic workout.