The Fit Recovery Cycling Dictionary defines “Carbon Fiber” thusly:
See also: Awesome
We’ve all had those days where we just want to, after a tough day, put on our pajamas, curl up into a ball on the couch with Bourne Legacy playing in the background as we drift off to sleep.
Let me tell you, I have had a lot of those as the days have gotten shorter and markedly colder. My body, if I “listen to it”, is saying, “Yo, you’re stressed the f*** out and you need to sleep for a week. Or two”.
It hits me, like a warm blanket and curling up with my wife on the couch, on the way home from the office. My eyes start to drooping, my head lowers just an inch, and my shoulders drop just a little.
By the time I walk in the door my body is saying, “Aw yeah, let’s take a little nappy”.
Only one member of my melon committee is saying, “But dude, we gotta roll!”
I hate that feeling. I want to be excited about having the opportunity to ride after work! I hate those days where “meh” sums up how I feel about my daily ride. But they happen.
Some days I do take a fifteen minute nap before I ride, and that does the trick. Others, I know what happens if I close my eyes… I’m out for the count.
These are tough days. Those were once days off. I used to give in and curl up, not caring about the ramifications. I used the dopey, “Well, my body says I need a nappy, by golly I gotta nappy… 😥😂😍😢”
Not today. And certainly not yesterday going back more than five years…
My penchant for wanting to stay home and lick my nuts (in canine parlance) used to be unbeatable. I was incapable of putting up a decent fight against the desire to take a rest day once the melon committee got involved.
Today I have a different attitude. And a bike. It’s the days I want to throw in the towel that are most important for me to get out the door and take my daily two-wheeled stress medication. It’s those days I have to get it done.
I no longer fight getting suited up, even if I have the thought now and again that I’d rather not. I just do – and once I’m suited up, my heart starts a pumpin’ and there’s no holding me back. Ridin’ baby!
This is my simple trick to always staying on Go: I suit up and show up. Once I’m dressed, the rest works itself out.
There will be plenty of time for sleep later, when I’m dead. Till then, Rollin’, baby!
Interestingly, I’ve never woken up from a nap or a deep sleep smiling like that. I have, however, finished every bike ride except two with that smile on my face. That would be two, out of one thousand five hundred eighty-seven. Give or take.
Understanding Pace Line Cycling; a few How To and Where to Be Tips for Cycling with an Advanced Group!
I had a very interesting scenario unfold last night at the club ride that was the impetus for this post.
An older woman who has been a cyclist for some time and is currently the stoker on my buddy, Brad’s tandem (and a good one at that), rode with us last night for the final club ride of the season. With her years of experience and riding with Brad on the tandem, I expected that she’d fit right in.
My expectations were clearly too high.
She was all over the place. Hanging out in the wind half the time, to the left side, to the right side… trying to horn in on someone else’s draft when she started tiring out… I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Now, it gets better because I ride a lot with Brad… she slid over next to me and started carrying on a conversation (we were in a single file pace line). As she starts to tire out, she began crowding me out of my spot in the pace line. Befuddled (and with plenty of gas in my tank), I opened up a gap and said there you are, if you want my spot so bad, take it.
I stayed away from her the rest of the time she was with us, which wasn’t very long the way she was riding….
Being me, I want everyone to fit into the group. I want to be welcoming, as others were with me, and to be accommodating wherever possible. That makes my pet peeve, having someone in the group who doesn’t understand how they fit into a group, a little difficult. It’s a struggle, though I’m glad to have the problems I do. Everyone should be so lucky.
In any event, before I get into this simple post, please allow me the dalliance of an explanation: I am not talking about the old ladies’ no-drop 14 mph average ride here. We’re talking about the big boy and girl “you’d better keep up or we’ll see you later” ride.
With that out of the way, something occurred to me before I was able to get upset about the way things were unfolding: The woman in question was used to riding with the 15-16 mph average C group, where hanging out side-by-side is not a big deal. With the 22 mph average B crew, especially when you’re jumping up a group, there’s simply no room for that – even I have to be careful to pick and choose when I want to ride up alongside someone for a chat. Too long doing that and I’d drop too – which is exactly what happened to the subject of this post. She was off the back within ten miles, and we didn’t wait for her (my wife went back and rode her to the parking lot, but even my wife noticed small issues, like she was often on the wrong side of the wind to get a good draft).
When I see people riding like this, I assume there are others, and unlike the government, I actually am here to help. If you’re new to a group, try these simple suggestions (oh, and just because I call them suggestions, it doesn’t mean you should choose to be a punk and ignore them… When you jump out of an airplane they “suggest” you pull the ripcord before you hit the ground. Go ahead and try to cheat that one):
The first lesson of cycling club is: Do as the others in cycling club do. If you see a perfectly smooth line of cyclists executing a perfect pace line, don’t try to show everyone how awesome you are by riding next to someone else. Get in the pace line and wait until there’s a break and others sit up. You won’t look awesome as you’re fading off the back over the horizon, so don’t try to be cute.
The second lesson of cycling club is: Don’t ever, if you’re in a double pace line, ride in the middle of the two lines. The only exception is if there is an odd number of cyclists and you’re the last one in line. As soon as the two at the front come back, either make a gap for them if you’re too weak to pull through or pick a side. If you try to stay in the middle with cyclists behind you, you will hear about it and it won’t be pretty. Expect lots of cussing and talk about the social status of your mother. And know this; You deserve it.
The third lesson of cycling club is: The goal is to make it to the finish line with the group. If you’re struggling to hang on, stay at the back and out of the way so the others can work.
The fourth lesson of cycling club is: Be someone the others want to have around. Be selfless as you can without getting yourself dropped. Ride well and be considerate of those riding with you…. this is the best way to not only be invited back to ride with the group on the scheduled night, it’s the best way to get yourself invited to the weekend rides as well.
The fifth lesson of cycling club is: Don’t try to pull too long at the front when you do pull through. If you’ve paid attention to the first four lessons, the group will want you to ride with them. You do no good off the back and on your own. We were all once where you are, just doing your best, struggling to hold on. We know for a fact that your time up front will improve as the months roll on, so be smart about it… Ten, twenty or thirty seconds up front is plenty for noobs.
These tips are all for advanced pace lines. When you’re in the no-drop rides, they’re social events. When you’re in the advanced rides, the socializing happens before and after – and between hyperventilating breaths while your out on the road, whilst (and at the same time) trying to keep from getting your tongue wrapped up in your spokes. Don’t try to do too much, just your part will do nicely.
This has been a cycling public service announcement brought to you by Fit Recovery.
Cycling season 2016 is officially over next Tuesday, our night ride.
To fit last evening’s ride in we had to start at 5:00 on the nose, no warmup.
We had a fantastic crowd, considering. My wife and I rode, along with my friends, Mike, Phill, Chuck, Chuck, Mike and Diane on their tandem, Karen, Gary, and Jonathan.
We set a fair pace but that lack of a warmup really made it tough. I struggled for the first ten miles but oddly, only when I was at the front. I took my lumps of course, but I was always huffing and puffing by the time I went back to hide again.
Karen dropped first and my wife went with her so she wasn’t alone. If I had to guess, this was about eight to ten miles in – and what intrigued me about the fact that she dropped was how she was riding…. she was all over the place in the pace line, off to either side rather than in the draft. This is a pet peeve of mine, but more on that in another post.
We kept it to a fair 21-22 mph and it was a wonderfully paced ride. Nothing too difficult but hard enough. Coming into Shiatown we pulled off to the side of the road to wait for Gary who had struggled through the hills and fell off the back.
From there, we’ve got a nice little quarter-mile descent followed by a steep-ish climb that settles down into another half-mile of up but at a milder grade. After we crest that, it’s a slight downhill for almost a mile and a half where we keep it pegged, normally, between 26 and 30 mph. Last night we were dealing with a bit of a headwind so the speed was a bit more subdued, if harder to hold at the front – and I was up there. This is always a tricky spot for me. In that mile and a half we’ve got our first sprint heading into Vernon. Normally I like to be about four back – this gives me a great draft but I’m not so far back that I have to weed through a bunch of other guys going for it as well. Where I don’t want to be is up front. I took my mile turn and headed back for a quick recovery. I did a couple of trick breathing exercises to clear the CO2 and waited for my spot… My timing was perfect and I shot around the front at 32 mph. When I was sure I had a good gap I checked over my shoulder and sat up for the last 40 feet or so.
Gary had fallen off the back again and Chuck went back for him (that’s the guy on the left in my header photo). Gary was alright with riding alone and sent Chuck back to us… just two miles up the road he joined back up with us huffing like he’d been pulling a dragon behind him.
Fast forward, passing over some boring miles to the final sprint of the season……
I was caught out front yet again, because I can be stupid that way sometimes, leading into the last two miles. Again, I didn’t want to take a sissy pull up front to rest so I settled in for a mile to try the same thing I’d done just ten miles earlier. Out of nowhere I see Chuck’s wheel on my left shoulder and he’s charging hard. I figure he’s going to make an early move so after three-quarters of a mile up front I had to jump onto his wheel. He created a substantial gap at 26 mph and just twenty seconds into his charge he arm-flicked out. He set me up (that what I think anyway, we still had a quarter-mile left to the sprint). Rather than try charging on alone I waited for the group because I was fairly smoked. I’d spent a lot of tough time up front and if I tried to stay off the front I’d have been swallowed up by the pace line well short of the finish. The group caught me and I assumed my position about four guys back and tried to recover my breathing. The launch was just around the corner. Ten seconds… Five… Three – Two – One…
I jumped out of my saddle and gave it everything I had but the second Chuck was watching for me in his little helmet mounted mirror – he was only a half-second late starting his charge. We flew by everybody else and I was putting every ounce of push I had left in my burning legs into getting the pedals around. Chuck matched me perfectly… I tried to dodge around him to the left but I just didn’t have enough to make it around him. He was too strong and I crossed the line just behind him. It was a fantastic finish to the season.
As we made our way to the parking lot it was all high-fives and fist bumps, laughs and tales from another fantastic club season…. This has been my most enjoyable season to date. It just keeps getting better, so I can’t wait to see what next year holds. One thing is for certain though, if I’m going to enjoy it there won’t be any time for vacations. I want to be even stronger next year – and that’s a good enough goal.
There are enough theories on how one should weigh themselves when they’re in the process of trying to shed unwanted poundage that a multi-Billion Dollar industry could be formed in the USA alone. Oh, wait, that has happened!
I’ve never really watched my weight too much. I know when I get down to my last belt hole that I’ve got some work to do – or say mid-winter when my suits are fitting a little bit snug. Either way, when you’re putting in between 5,000 and 8,000 miles a year on a bicycle (or four), weight doesn’t really have much of a chance to get away from you. However, I have an ideal cycling weight and I used to think that was about 165 pounds… then my wife bought me a new scale and I was instantly almost ten pounds heavier. Imagine my horror. I went from 172 to 181 overnight.
I wrote nothing about this on the blog, I just went to work. I know the culprits to cut out. I know where to trim calories and I know what else works:
Over the next two months I set about dropping the weight on the new scale back to 172, and let me tell you, I had to be hungry to do it – this was right in the heart of the summer… Cycling season where I’m averaging about 950 miles a month. I would weigh myself before I got in the shower, and during cycling season I’m taking two showers, maybe even three, a day (they’re exceptionally short, just enough to knock the stink off of me, three to five minutes). That meant I was weighing myself a couple of times, even three times, a day. I noticed a pattern develop over the summer.
I was heaviest in the morning, and I’m going to simply assume you can figure out why. By the time the afternoon rolled around I was three pounds lighter (let’s say one’s body starts working well with a lot of exercise). After a ride, another two lighter (that was sweat). I knew the right weight – the one in the middle.
There was one day in particular that I threw watching what I ate to the curb and pigged out – just one in those months, and the next afternoon I weighed the same 172 pounds, my target weight. The next day I went up to 173 and the following I was up to 175. It wasn’t a fluke either. The day after that I was up to 176… It took three days for that pig-out to hit the scale and two weeks to get it back down.
If I hadn’t been hitting the scale on a twice-daily schedule, say once a week, I could have missed the pig-out hitting my once well-toned posterior. This is a flaw in the “weigh yourself once a week” theory. Say I have an eating problem (I don’t have a problem, I love food) and my weigh-in day is on Saturday. I pig out on Friday, call it a “weekly cheat day” and hit the scale on Saturday. My weight’s going to show up normal. Now, what’s the average overweight person going to think? “Awesome! No harm, no foul!”
The next Friday rolls around and it’s “cheat day” again. Nom, nom, nom… I hit the scale and I’ve only gained three pounds – but I haven’t. I’m six back because I’ve got some reserve fuel in the tank, three pounds worth. The next Saturday I’m six pounds (nine actual) and the dejection begins. From there I could definitely imagine a morbid sense of failure and a relapse into old behavior… because that’s exactly how it worked when I got drunk, yet again.
I’d swear off alcohol for good, yet again (before meetings and a program were a “thing” in my life). A week later something would pop up and I’d think, “Oh, I’ve been good all week, certainly I can have a few beers at my cousin’s wedding. All will be fine“. A couple of weeks later and I’m doing shots in the morning again to keep the shakes at bay and I don’t know how I got there or how I’ll dig myself out of the hole again.
Recovery and weight loss aren’t much different in that respect – and the only thing that I’ve found that works on my weight are a bicycle and the light of day, or honesty. Pure, unpolluted, unadulterated honesty. Choosing to only look at the scale once a week is a way for me to hide from reality the other six. That is honest.
It may not be your honest, but it’s a good idea to shed the light of day on it before you decide how to proceed. Just sayin’.
Dude, I’d like to thank Granny B for the best damn pumpkin seed recipe ever thought of, bar none.
Clean your pumpkin seeds and place them on a cookie sheet as you normally would. Then cut pieces of bacon into little chunks and place over the seeds. Then bake till the bacon is rightly done.
Seriously, dude. Bacon. Flavored. Pumpkin seeds.
The candy of meat meets the candy of seeds (and Halloween). And no…. it’s even better than it sounds. Trust me.
Cycling, Overall Miles, Ride Miles, Enjoyment and Weight Loss; What Matters and More Important, WHEN.
I was sitting on the couch, watching the Lions football game, trying to figure out how to put what I have rolling around the hamster wheel in my melon into a post….
I spent the weekend listening to a few explanations of why it is I’m so lucky to have found cycling and that I enjoy it so much (never mind my running phase before that where it was more about necessity than enjoyment, but let’s not spoil the narrative).
If I think about, I believe I’m at a point where my mile count doesn’t matter so much. I believe I could go all next year without logging a mile that I’d ridden and still end up within a handful of miles of where I’m at this year. The numbers aren’t the motivation anymore. The ride is.
There once was a time that this wasn’t the case. The increase in mileage and average speed, and therefore fitness, spurred me on to try even harder. This love of data created a compound effect, the result of which completely changed who I was as a person.
My diet improved and I rid myself of stupid calories. I cut portions down and learned how to manage my weight so I could be faster. I also learned that the faster I got, the easier it was to manage my weight. In other words, there was a confluence of awesomeness that came together that showed me how I work.
It all started with tracking data.
This isn’t to say I’m perfect, ultrafast and super-thin. I’m not. I’m just healthy, pretty fast and happy.
That’s the trick, really. I don’t have to train hard enough to injure myself because I think pretty fast is really awesome. I don’t have to cut out pizza and burgers because I actually need the calories (I just have to be reasonable about what I eat).
So there I was, out riding with my friends yesterday and it was almost perfect. A light breeze, mid 50’s for a temperature, obviously sunny; in fact the only way it could have been better was if my wife was in there (she was dropping her sister off at the airport)….
…and that’s exactly when I realized I don’t need anymore data. I don’t need any motivation beyond wanting to get out and ride – with my wife and friends, my wife, or just by my lonesome.
I made it because I found a reason to keep going back out on my bike. What was important was that data. Everything grew from that.
In recovery we have a simple saying, “Keep coming back until you don’t have to”. The punch line is that once you “don’t have to”, you’ll want to.
This is how it works in fitness and exercise. I simply kept coming back until I didn’t have to. Now that I want to, I can’t imagine a productive, happy life without a bike.