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Monthly Archives: May 2016

What Fitness is Meant to Look Like. Well, in My World.

I am not a walker.  I’d sooner have my butt waxed than go for a walk.  I accept who I am.

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2:40:12 cycling, 1 minute of walking.

Yep, that’s about right.  Technically, that counted a five minute stop but whatever…  That’s close enough.

Btw, that’s 48-1/2 miles over that 2:35 on the tandem.  I tried to get my wife to take some pictures while we were riding but she… um… was not in the mood. Mrs. Bgddy took a detour through Bonksville. Tears, a constant need to shift position on the bike… I didn’t react well at first but it didn’t take long to realize what was going on so I did what I could to be understanding and a good all-around guy. She came back after a few miles and the ride ended well.

Willing Oneself to Finish the Ride. In or Out, There is Little Room for Gray.

A small group of us rode almost 72 miles yesterday, in 3:45:20…  that’s a shade better than 19 miles per hour.  The first 65 were easy.  At no time in that first 3 hours and change did I struggle to keep pace.  I rode that ride with a smile on my face and thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

That last seven miles, however, was brutal.  I went from positive, happy-go-lucky to “Holy crap, can I crawl home?!” seemingly at the flip of a switch.  We only stopped once, about 42 miles in, for a quick restroom/bottle of Coke/Payday break and that was part of the issue.

We went out, into the wind expecting it to push us home. We were not so lucky. The wind shifted on us shortly after we turned for home.

So we cross over 60 miles and I’m still good but I can feel my energy flagging. I decided to push through it rather than fire down a Gu. Sure enough, that was a mistake. Two miles later, my legs hurt, my back hurt, and my butt was more than a little honked off. Should have had that Gu.

Not only that, traffic was getting thick and with a big crosswind, we were all eating it.

Now here’s some context… Next Saturday I’ve got my first century of the year. Not only that, we’ve got some mountain climbs in that one. If I’m struggling on 70…? I played the mind game for a mile.

“I should just sit up.” “I’m just tired and hungry, we’ll be stopping every 20 miles next week so it’s no big deal if I sit up here and spin home.”

Instead, I put my head down, got down in the drops and told the committee to shut up and buckle up, it was about to get bumpy.

I made it back just fine and even started to feel quite a bit better in the last two miles.

All too often, my assessment of my condition on the bike, even after all of the miles (30,000+), is lacking. I have a lot more in me than I sometimes think when I’m in the middle of a grind.

Every now and again I have to will myself home. I have to grit my teeth, grip the drops and grind out some hard miles if I’m going to stay with my friends.

On the other hand, once I give up and leave the draft, there’s not much chance I’m getting back. There is no gray area. I’m either in or out.

Most days it’s not all that dramatic. I hammer that $#!+ out and it’s all good. Then there are days like yesterday, where I have to tell the committee to sit down, shut it and buckle up.

Everyone should be lucky enough to have my problems.

We’ve got 50 glorious miles on tap for today, on the tandem.

Fit Recovery’s “The Cycling Rules I Live By”

I have several rules, irrespective of the greater Velominati Rules, that I live by.  I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while and think I’ve got it fairly nailed down, though I’m certain additions will be necessary.

These are not rules meant for you to follow, if you read the title carefully…  Did you notice that “I” in there?   I am simply offering them so others may digest them as they see fit.

In no particular order:

1.  Ride in a manner that puts a smile on my face.  I don’t care how anyone else thinks one should ride, or what style of bike should be ridden.  I ride hard, fast and on pavement on a ridiculously expensive and lightweight bicycle.  That’s what makes me smile.

2.  A clean, lubed bike is a quiet, fast bike.  I keep my bikes clean and sharp because they look awesome and ride better.

3.  Look good, ride good.  This is not rocket science.

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Damn, we look smashing!

‘Nough said.

4.  Have a backup bike for crappy weather.  This is an important rule for me.  I don’t want to gunk up my good bike so I keep a decent rain bike.

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5.  Saddlebags are ugly.  I would keep one on my rain bike but it’s not necessary.  I have a pouch that fits everything in my back pocket.  No bag necessary.  While I am not opposed in the least to them on other’s bikes, they look ugly on my Venge.

6.  Rest is what you do between daily bike rides.  I believe in rest days.  One.  A month.  Between May and October.  And maybe rain days.  If I don’t feel like getting wet.

7.  Anything less that 19 mph for an average is active recovery.  Period.

8.  Do thy best to support thy mates in a pace line.  One of my favorite lines I’ve ever written about cycling is, “I’d rather flame out, blow up, bonk and get dropped than hide at the back of the pack.”  There is nobility in hiding when riding above one’s capability but even so, I have a tough time not taking my turn save a few times a year.

9.  Black and Red.  It took me a long time to get here, a journey through red, white and blue notwithstanding, the road bikes shall be red on black.  That color scheme is amazing.  And awesome.  And cool.

10.  Bikes are the best, most cost effective way to celebrate one’s midlife crisis.  I ride the equivalent of a Ferrari.  It cost 100 times less than a Ferrari.  Oh, and a tune up on my bike costs about a hundred bucks.  A tune up on a Ferrari?  Meh, about $30,000.  In other words, a bike runs on fat.  A sports car runs on my wallet.

11.  Suit up.  Even I, the great and powerful Bgddy, run into a case of the “f*** its” from time to time.  Not surprisingly, it’s usually below freezing outside when that case shows up.  As long as I suit up, I’ll make it out the door and I’ll be in better shape for it.

12.  Spending good money on  good equipment is worth it.  While deals can be found, spending the money on good equipment is worth the investment.  Feeling like I’m riding on barbed wire because I decided to spend $30 on a pair of bottom-of-the-line cycling shorts is not money well spent.  That pain is unnecessary.

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13. Coffee. Lots.

14.  Don’t be an @$$hole.  I’d bet every club out there has at least one.  Some I’ve read about are infested with them.  I shall not contribute to that caucus.

15. Thy guns shall be gleaming. I shave the guns, toes to cheek. It doesn’t matter that it’s faster or “pro”, both of which are true. It looks right and my wife digs it… Until I run her out of hot water knocking down the forest.

16.  It’s all about the fun.  Life is too damn short to worry about a bunch of damned rules.  This post is book-ended by the same rule:  Thou shalt enjoy thy ride.

120 Miles Before the Weekend

Well, technically it’s 119 but whatever, that’s definitely closer than government work.

Next week is the Horsey Hundred so we’ve got 70 miles on the docket for tomorrow and 50 for Sunday.  The weather finally normalized too, so it’s sunshine and 70’s all week long.

I rode solo on Monday, an easy 16.  Tuesday was the club ride, so 37 there.  Then, for Wednesday, Mrs. Bgddy and I took the tandem out for 16. Yesterday was a fun 20, all after work.  This morning, between work calls, which were constant, my wife and I managed to squeeze in 30.  Add them up and that should be 119.

It was a perfect morning for a ride too.  Sunny, 60’s, with a gentle breeze and my wife and I are making great strides in working together. The local bike shop owner’s wife said today that it seems tandems have a tendency to tear a marriage apart or bring the couple closer. As long as we keep this up, it’ll definitely be the latter for us.

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I love that freaking bike!

In any event, I’ll end up with about 240 for the week… Then next week is the Horsey Hundred in Kentucky so other than Tuesday night, I’ll be riding easy all week… Till Saturday, then it’s gonna be @$$holes and elbows!

Can’t wait.

Fitness doesn’t have to be a job, unless you want it to be.

I regularly read a blog written by a woman who is having a go at running.  Without shoes on.  Seriously, dude.  No shoes.  Running.  I don’t walk to the car in the driveway without shoes on.

Having been a runner myself, I can’t help but think, ‘Freaking nutter’, whenever she writes about the numerous physical problems she goes through trying trying to run shoeless.  On the other hand, it clearly makes her happy for whatever reason.

I tried thinking about what it would be like, going through that…

Two steps forward, one step back.  Having to completely learn how to run all over again.  Giving up all of the speed I’d worked so hard to gain in the first place…  No thanks!  It feels too much like a job to me.

If I look at that from another perspective though, while I love to go fast and am willing to work harder than most to go fast, I’m only willing to go so far because I won’t turn riding a bicycle for fitness into a job.  I’m still wearing freaking shoes too, dude!

On the other hand, I do get it to an extent.  I understand the desire to do something different, for whatever reason (even if I can’t understand for the life of me why).  We folks who are into living a fit lifestyle do some pretty weird things because they put a smile on our face.

Yesterday evening I went for a sixteen mile ride and was having so much fun I decided to extend it to 20 miles (I was limited by time.  I had a meeting at 7:30, otherwise I’d have gone 30 or more.  I made it with 1 minute to spare)3.  I know people who think riding four miles is a big deal, let alone adding four miles to a 16 mile ride.  To them, I’m a nut and I’m perfectly okay with that.  There are others out there who would take a couple of hours to ride that 16 miles.  I rode the 20 in a little more than an hour – to those who choose to ride slower, I’m a nut and again, I’m perfectly okay with that.

Enjoying fitness is truly an “in the eye of the beholder” kind of thing.  If it keeps you fit and feeling good, have at it and enjoy the smile.  Being a nut or not is simply a matter of perspective.

Ride hard my friends, be happy.

Watch “If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans – Ultra Spiritual Life episode 35” on YouTube

YES!!!

Vegans make up a mere 1.5% of the US population yet you’d think, based on the press they get, they were a movement of consequence. 

Unlike many vegans, however, I support their right to eat as they see fit.  In my opinion, only ignoramuses try to legislate out ignorance.  

But that’s just me.

That said, in all fairness, there are vegans out there who are simply happy to do what they do, and I applaud that.  On the other hand, you’ve got your Level Five Vegans and they’re simply insufferable.

Anyway, just for a laugh…

Tandemonium!

Mrs. Bgddy and I took our tandem out last evening. 

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We went out with a plan though…  It was time to start working on actually working together.  Every tandem couple we’ve talked to has said that the keys to enjoying a tandem are efficiency and working together.  One breeds the other but I don’t know which is the chicken and which is the egg… let alone which came first.

Before we left I swapped saddles with my Trek.  I’ve got almost 30,000 miles on Specialized Romin saddles and the Selle Italia X1 that came on the tandem wasn’t getting it.

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We started easy but quickly ramped up the speed to an easy 19-1/2 mph.  Speed wasn’t the agenda though.  Efficiency and working together was.  We went through what it felt like when I was putting the power on and when I was soft pedaling to make my wife work.  Then we worked on matching power.  Finally we got to a real trouble spot.

Cadence.  Damn.

My wife, it turns out, is a masher.  I once was too, before I saw the light (and it was a while coming, I’m not blaming my wife) but now that I know how to use the gears efficiently, to push a lighter gear faster, trying to go back to mashing sucks. So I showed my wife how I like to spin up an easier gear so the transition to an up shift is smooth and easy. It seemed like she really took to it as well, once she got to feel the difference.

Funny moment of the night: My wife asked me why it is that I get to pick the cadence.

Surprisingly, we did find an excellent compromise that we can both live with and works (I didn’t expect this). I simply shift about a second earlier than I normally would when we’re spinning up to a higher a gear. It’s not enough that I can’t muscle through it in one pedal stroke and it’s slightly before my wife starts bouncing in her saddle to keep up.

We stopped once to adjust saddle heights, once to check the front brake that started grinding (long story, took 10 minutes to fix it when we got back).

Throughout the ride we did one thing that we’d failed to do in that last several miles. We talked about everything that we were doing – and more important, what we were going to do. Communication is key and sadly, one of the few flaws of becoming competent on a solo bike first, you never have to constantly communicate with another cyclist about riding… You simply do it.

Anyway, when it was all said and done, even with several stops, extra caution at intersections, and wobbles along the way, we pulled into the driveway with an 18.3 mph average. I would have been happy with 15 or 16… All things considered, yesterday’s ride was MUCH more fruitful than I anticipated it would be.

Once we get this locked down, we’re going to fly.

P.S. The title is a tad misleading. There was no pandemonium. It just sounded cool in my head when I thought of it.

Tuesday Night Club Ride: Can’t Hide Edition

When I pulled into the parking lot for the club ride last night I had every intention of hiding the first 2/3’s of the ride so I could make the final leg with the faster guys.  There’s just one problem…

I’d rather flame out, blow up, bonk and get dropped than hide at the back of the pack.  It’s a flaw in my DNA or something.  I have to do my fair share for the group.  I accept and embrace this flaw…  If you can even call it a flaw.

My buddy Mike is up north with Chuck, climbing hills to get strong for the season.

We rolled out for the warm-up at 5:15 and it was a spirited 7-1/2 mile jaunt at a little over 18-1/2 mph, especially considering the wind (12 mph out of the northeast).

I couldn’t believe my eyes when a friend of mine pulled this out of his truck:
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That’s the real deal right there…  The top of the line S-Works Venge ViAS with Di2 Dura-Ace components, next to my first generation Venge.

The main ride started out… reasonable.  After three miles I wasn’t even breathing heavy. I took my first pull dead into the wind at 21 mph and it didn’t get much faster than that. Until…

About six miles in it started ratcheting up. We turned onto Shipman Road with a nice tailwind and it got nuts in a hurry. It never ceases to amaze me when my computer shows numbers approaching 30 mph. And we held that for miles. My first club ride ever, three years ago, I got dropped as soon as we hit 28. I mean instantly. You know when you get a fly that sticks to your windshield and you start to driving, it kind of clings there for a bit…. Then bam, it’s gone. Yeah, that was me at 28, way back when.

I ended up taking a couple of more pulls and was way too close to the front when we hit the hills. Halfway up the second one, I just gave up. I can’t explain it, I just had enough. It was just one of those things. Had it to do over, nine-and-a-half times in ten I stay with the group.

I took it down from 23-24 mph to a more manageable 20. Climbing a hill.

My friends, Phill and Chuck, ended up off the back just a half-mile up the road and Phill had never gotten within fifteen bikes of the front. If I’d have hidden, I’d have been thinking about hanging with the fast guys to the end.

I spent the next two miles deep in the rocket fuel reeling Phill and Chuck in heading up the hills but I caught them soon enough. We hit our meeting spot and waited a few minutes for our fellow stragglers to catch up.  Only four showed… and we had a long way to go, dead into the wind.

It was fairly obvious early on who would end up doing most of the work.  So Ethan and I took to it.  Chuck did his fair share but Phill and Big Joe were struggling a bit in the wind.

Even with the slow start, we ended up at the meeting point with a 22 mph average and I wanted to keep as much of that as possible at the finish line.  It was probably a little selfish to drop Joe, Phill and Chuck but Ethan and I did – we spent the last few miles taking turns slogging it out into an increasing northeast wind.  We pulled into the finish with a 21.2 average and I was exceptionally pleased with that (our best is around 22 mph).

Sitting down to dinner with everyone last night was pretty sweet.

 

In Endurance Sports, there’s a big difference between I think I can, I will, and I know I can.

When I started cycling, I made a lot of mistakes and tried some pretty unwise adventures.  Like riding 108 miles (out and back) with one bag of Jelly Belly energy beans, one Gu Rocktane, and two bottles of water.  Nothing in the water, by the way.  Just pure H2O.

I made it farther and faster than you might think.  I refilled my water bottles once at a filling station on the Pere-Marquette rail trail and saved the Gu and beans for the turnaround at 54 miles.  I held a 19 mph average for 80 miles before starting to struggle.  By the time I hit 98 miles I was in a pure, irreparable bonk.  I stopped at a Burger King for some lunch and felt worse after, even with a large Coke to zap some sugar into the void.  I was in bad shape.  I called my wife for a ride home.  It took her 20 minutes to get there. I’d made it maybe three miles.  That was an “I think I can” adventure.  And I was mistaken.

Over the next couple of years I transitioned to “I will”.  I was still hitting a lot of firsts but with more than 10,000 miles under my belt, I was getting the hang of things and I was fairly strong.  I was beginning to understand that when my friends looked calm and composed after 85 miles, they were just as wiped out as I was.  “I think I can make it over than next hill” became “I will make it over that next hill”.  “I think I can make that last 15 miles (of a century) without crumbling” became “I will make it”.  This was what can be described as my “Shut Up Legs” phase, the saying made popular by  the great Jens Voigt.

With five full seasons and 30,000 miles under my belt, I’ve been through a lot of different hydration and eating changes.  I know if I have to, I can go 100 miles on 4 bananas and some Gatorade and water.  I know I can tear up 30 miles in less than an hour and a half without needing to eat, as long as I have at least a full bottle of sports drink.  I know I can crush Mountain Mayhem Beat the Heat at better than 18 mph with something like 11,000 feet of climbing…  I went from “I will” to “I know I can”.

There are no more jitters before a big ride.  No more sleepless nights.  No more wondering if I’ll be able to hack it.  No more second guessing my training (that would be different if I took up racing – at least until I went through “I think I can” and “I will”).  Actually, it would be fairer to say that I do have jitters now and again but that’s more in anticipation for what’s to come than wondering if I’ll be able to manage or not – I hope that makes sense.

The point that I’m trying to get at is that I can’t go into, in my case a challenging bike ride, with any kind of confidence unless I’ve put in the work ahead of time.  I can fight back doubt but I never really get rid of it until I get to that point where I can smell the finish line.  I don’t get the jitters anymore because, for the most part, I’ve been there so many times I know there’s nothing to worry about.  Trying to wish away pre-ride jitters without putting in the effort before hand would be like trying to swat flies with a piece of spaghetti.

On Going from a 30 Pound Bike to a 17 Pounder…

I left the office early yesterday.  I’ve finally turned the corner on a couple of jobs so I played hooky with two hours.  We had rain in the forecast for the evening so I wanted to shoehorn in a ride at home, before taking the kids to swim practice.

The wind was howling out of the west southwest with gusts better than 20 knots…  Still, after Sunday’s hard ride I knew I needed an easy recovery ride anyway.  The operative word in that last sentence being easy.

Dammit.

I was up to 21 mph within a half-mile.  Hey, it felt easy.  It did.  Heading west was a bit of an awakening, of course, but 17 was still pretty easy to hold if I got down in the drops (no brainer into a decent breeze). Then another couple miles north. I just stayed in the drops.

Then a mile west. 18 -19 mph. Smooth asphalt. Musta been.

Then down a little hill followed by my favorite turn. 24 mph around a tight 90 degree turn that I have to lean the bike down to hold my lane (there’s no drifting into the wrong lane, while I can partially see around the corner as I approach, there are blind spots where I could miss a car…). I need all of the tricks for that corner too… Right knee out and down to shift my center of gravity, all of my weight on my left foot – so much that I try to push my foot to the pavement, in the drops and look through the turn. It’s one of those rare perfect corners. Over a couple of bumps that always make my heart skip a beat. Straighten up and I’m back on the gas. Into that ridiculous wind.

A left turn heading south now. The south part of the wind isn’t so bad and I’m spinning between 19 and 20. A mile later and I’m into the wind again. The sky is looking ugly and I’ve got seven miles left.

A right turn, the whole mile is slightly uphill till the last tenth. I’m at 21. I didn’t necessarily give up on my “recovery ride”, it’s just not all that tough.

Then the right turn and I’ve got a 25 mph wind at my back. I chuckle. Rain’s comin’. 25 mph is too easy. So is 27. I settle in at the speed limit for the road (30) for two glorious miles. There’s something fun about riding a bike the same speed as cars. If I’d have seen a cop I’d have tried for 40 and a speeding ticket. I will have one. I’ll pay the fine with a smile on my face and frame the ticket. I may even try for a selfie while the cop is writing the ticket.

Then I come to the sloggy part. A right turn into a 20 mph cross headwind and it’s slightly uphill. For a mile. I’m halfway up the steeper part and I look down. 19 mph. I’m a dumbass but I didn’t lay off the gas either.

If the shit fits, wear it. Dumbass.

Another mile east, and an easy 23 mph followed by a cool down mile south at 15.

I’m sitting on the couch before it dawns on me that I was on a 30 pound bike with my wife on the back the day before. Riding the Venge was like clipping into a rocket ship. So much for a recovery ride. If the shit fits…

UPDATE: The fossilcyclist left an important comment below about the importance of “the lean” in cornering. I didn’t put much emphasis on that because I was going for the finer points, but he’s absolutely right. He also offered this “How To” video from GCN. I can’t recommend subscribing to GCN enough.