Monday, March 31, 2008
- The riding was pretty much sublime - just up and down. I'm still a fat novice racer but my climbing is way better than it has ever been. I noticed at camp that I was clearing some long hills, 20+ minute climbs, at 12-13 MPH. Though the climbs are steeper in W Va, none of the climbs really destroyed me. Sure, I'd be at threshold for 35-40 minutes, but after a short descent I'd be fully recovered and climbing with a nice cadence again soon enough. No, not racing fast, but fast enough. The secrets - other than having a good aerobic base - seem to be moving up and down a gear from time to time to vary cadence; to remain seated for most of the climb; to stand for a minute to stretch and use different muscles; to try to find a rhythm, breath, pedal pedal, breathe. I've also found that if I'm standing, as long as the pitch isn't too steep it pays to go up *3* (yes 3) gears for standing efforts. All that, and Embracing the Suck. It's gotten to the point where I don't bitch much about hills or cold or anything - you just have to get into this mindset that it doesn't matter, nothing matters except turning the pedals. Start thinking that way and the hills seem flatter.
- Either way, the hills were long and steep. Harsh enough that on the last climb of the day, I drank all the Accellerade I could, then poured out my water bottles onto the road as I started the climb up to the cabin. Two pounds' weight savings is pretty minimal, until you're climbing a pitch where you can barely turn the pedals over at all. Then it seems significant - funny how on a mountain, the thing with the biggest size in cycling, that items of the smallest scale seem disproportionately important.
- What would Jens do? Easy. He'd reach deep into his suitcase of courage, tear the legs off the peloton, and win the Criterium International again. Then he'd go home and make a bunch of babies. That's exactly what he'd do.
- Say what you will about Pat McQuaid: at least he hasn't been caught paying women to role play as Nazi SS dominatrixes. Yet.
- One of the problems with doping to enhance performance is it seems to lead to all sorts of psychological dependency problems, and a fair few dopers seem to use the performance enhancing drugs as gateway drugs to far more dangerous and illegal recreational narcotics. I see one of Il Pirato's former teammates was found dead, with a drug overdose the suspected cause. Cyclists of this most recent doping era may wind up a lot like pro wrestlers - dying young, in bizzare fashion, in narcotics incidents and all sorts of random, inexplicable ways. David Millar talks about how doping took over his life and was rotting his mind, just pwning him. Seeing how caught dopers destroy their credibility with lies and insanely implausible legal defenses, and how many of them are involved in more dangerous drugs, makes me think he's not playing up the risks. Too often we think of ourselves as individuals who can choose our course in life really specifically - as if life were a mere compilation of discrete choices, with all decisions existing in isolation, and independent of each other; with all people doing their own thing as atomic social elements, having no effect on those who surround them. In the microcosm, radical individualism taken to its reductio ad absurdum limits leads us to think we can dope or take some recreational drug or engage in some kind of really dumb behavior, and it won't effect us; after all, you're always free to choose, right? But often little decisions do affect us long term does because we're all the sum of every decision we've ever made. Thus every decision we make is tied to every other decision.
In the macro view, we'd like to think we're all just individuals, and we should be able to do whatever the hell we want. Our choices occur within a culture, however, and we forget that our choices often affect others. Just as no decision we make leaves our selves unscathed, many decisions we make that seem to be solely our own business, can leave others scarred.
The person who makes bad choices often damages himself, and the people and things he loves. Witness the dopers - the radical individualist argument is "who cares? They only affect themselves." This is said as if doping's personal consequences were somehow separable from the choice to dope up. It's also said as if the effect of doping in undermining the sport were irrelevant. Even if you ignore the sport, what kind of effect does a doper have on those on his team, on those in his races?
In the middle ages, pre-enlightenment, they had a notion of The Great Chain of Being - that all life was linked together, pull on one person and the whole chain moved. I don't think it would be a good organizing principle for today's world, but they were onto something there with the basic concept. Viewed from this standpoint, doping is a really stupid, selfish act. Not only can it destroy the doper, but it seems to cause casualties elsewhere in the sport - costing teammates their jobs, diminishing the real achievement of the riders who don't dope, and costing the sport at large sponsors and financial opportunities. That's even before you try to put a value on the hard-to-measure but significant loss of faith by the fans, the loss of enjoyment they suffer as a result of wondering at all times if they can spend money and emotional energy supporting riders whose achievements may be largely ersatz.
I've always had a more libertarian attitude toward doping in sports, but the more I think about it, and the more I see the stack of corpses it produces (in cycling, football, pro wrestling, bodybuilding) the more I think it's a little injection of 100 proof evil into the sporting bodies.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Okay, so where was I before I started Civil War, Release 2.0... Oh yeah, I'm going to the land of hollers, where everything is named after Robert Byrd, to ride my bike, max and relax with the family. You'll have to amuse yourself this weekend, and by that, I mean hit the "refresh" button at least 750 times a piece while I'm away, to keep up the site stats.
Think you can handle it? Good. You keep up the facade that people actually read this site, while I get busy ridin' my bike, irritating my wife in a new place for 72 hours, and fending off this big crowd of shotgun wielding inbreds from Virginny that are even now coalescing on my front lawn like a bunch of flies drawn to some bad meat.
Ps. I'm just kidding about Virginia. It's by far the better of the two Virginias and I actually prefer it in a lot of ways to Maryland, where I live. You don't get too excited 'bout that, though, first of all 'cuz my judgment ain't so hot, second because you're not exactly whupping the '26 Yankees of states here. But all y'all do need a better informal nickname, the "West-by-God-Virginny" thing just kicks your collective asses. "The Old Dominion"? That sounds like the bad guys from a second-rate Star Trek spinoff. And your state motto, "Sic Semper Tyrannis"? I admire the sentiment, but isn't that what John Wilkes Booth said when he shot Lincoln? C'mon... you can do better than that.
You know, like if somebody was an absolutely brilliant coach, but because you know them, they are happy to coach you for free?
Or if you have a buddy who is an orthopedic surgeon, who would be tickled pink to be the guy to bolt your collarbone back together after a big crash, and not even send you a bill for it?
That would rock, wouldn't it? I'd be jazzed.
Now, think about your favorite thing in the world, bike racing.
Think about the people who report on the news. They charge money for their product. You have to buy Velo News to get the good stuff.
What if you had a friend who writes for Velo News, who happens to be a shit-hot writer, funny, smart, and a great teammate?
What if that guy had a blog where he wrote really smart, witty stuff about racing, and you didn't have to pay $54.99 (the discounted BikeReg price) to get his stuff? That's right, what if he just gave away some of his most insightful stuff for free? You'd check that out, right?
My buddy Ryan Newill, who rides for Coppi, also writes about racing professionally on a freelance basis, typically for Velo News. Sometimes he rides in the Commisaire's car at big races. Sometimes he hangs around the Service Course, soaking in the atmosphere. Sometimes he races with Squadra Coppi, hangs out and drinks coffee with us.
And sometimes he writes a great blog.
He doesn't blog often enough but when he does blog, it's *always* worth reading. His blog, The Service Course, is aimed at providing insight you wouldn't get anywhere else. Double Secret Extra Bonus Points: when he gets on a rant, his writing is simply beautiful - it just flows the way water slips over smooth rocks in a downhill spring - clear, fresh, and with a touch of laughter in it.
What would you do if you knew somebody like that? You'd read his stuff, wouldn't you?
I sure would.
Well, now you know who Ryan is. Your job is to go check out his blog and tell me what you think. My job is to kick him in the ass and get him to write more for you.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Yeah, Anglers is a pretty cool power climb. River Road in my neighborhood has a couple heartbreakers on it. Illchester... Nice. And the Hell of North Arlington Ride has 4 or 5 nasty little grades on it. But none of them are like the Kemmelberg. Nevermind the racing history, our local legbreakers aren't culturally situated like the great climbs in the Northern Classics and Semi-Classics. To put it in better perspective, here's the view of the Kemelberg from Messines Ridge, overlooking the headstones of a cemetery filled with British commonwealth war dead:
Imagine if the parking lot of the Daytona 500 was adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery and Gettysburg was just on the other side of the far grandstands... I think that's about right. It bears further thought. As a race fan, how do you absorb what the cobbled classics really mean?
Sporting events are always better in context. Tarheel games are better with a bucket of Timeout Chicken, and a walk across campus from He's Not, alongside thousands of fans and young co-eds, past the Old Well and the Bell Tower on your way down to the Dean Dome. Football at Rich Stadium isn't the same if you don't tailgate in frozen parking lot with enormous polish and Italian sausages, peppers, and Canadian beers, and if you aren't wearing the Carharts you wore to work during the week. Arrowhead Stadium just isn't right if your belly isn't full of Arthur Bryant's World Famous, and if you fail to hit Westport afterwards. Chavez Ravine and fish tacos... But what goes with races in Flanders?
So much more, I think.
When I served in Germany I toured a number of Flandrian and Dutch battlefields. One of the most stunning kicks in the gut was wandering across fields where a famous battle had occurred in one World War, only to notice that all the dates had changed and all of a sudden you're standing amid the remains of hundreds of dead from the *other* World War. Now imagine if you lived in the house down the road, and a handful of various national events - a bike race, a marathon, maybe a car race, along with a state fair, your high school, and where your mother's great uncle's farm once stood, were all in the neighborhood. People don't move around a lot in Europe, not the older generation anyhow, and even the younger ones tend to return home. Yep, land thick with history like a deserted lot is thick with weeds. In Flanders, it's not just your house and garden, and your ancestor's place, it's also where two of your own great uncles, and a great grandfather, had perished fighting for the land, along with countless Brits, Canadians, some Americans, French and even the damned Germans. That's heavy stuff.
Good times rolled into bad, cigarette smoke, brandy, good beer, your first date, maybe a family scandal, bankrupt businesses, rose colored glasses, wistfulness and hope for the future, disappointments, all rolled into a single place.
It's home alright, just like our homes, only a home more epic than where you live right now, with more known history. And the friggin' New York Yankees of the national sport, Les Habitants, the Cowboys, the Showtime Lakers of the sport, are getting ready to roll through it and maybe make some history that unborn grandchildren will talk about as if they were there. How do you pick up on that atmosphere, the organic-ness of the Northern Classics, the way the races are married to the neighborhood and history?
I sadly didn't do mass start racing when I was stationed over there. I followed the grand tours in the local paper - the Algemeine Zeitung - but didn't do local races, just some TTs and Tri's. But I lived off-post, among Germans, and lived more like them than an American. I had a pretty good sense of the culture, and did spend three years on the German border with the low countries, on the Western edge of Duesseldorf and traveling into Belgium and the Netherlands pretty much constantly. The Belgians and Dutch were utterly bike mad. It was part of their lives. I didn't get it, I suppose, until I started racing a few years ago and discovered how damn hard it was. Racing is something you are, not really a thing you do - even being a fan is a pain in the ass, track racing excepted. Then I found out more about the Northern Classics, starting reading about what it's like in Flanders in the spring... and I wonder.
What must it be like just to be there, as a local tifoso, on race day?
I imagine you put on the waxed cotton jacket, or maybe a windbreaker if it's nice, Wellingtons or solid shoes depending on how mucky the roadside is. Maybe grab an umbrella, hope it's not too windy. Get a pack of smokes, a flask for some brandy or gin. You'll get frites from a roadside stand in town, they're having a little messe there, maybe there's schaschlik too. You will walk down the road toward town, get some chow, talk with old friends about the favorites in the race and all the personalities in the peloton. If they're going slow, you'll stop in the pub for a while, have a drink and watch the race unfold on TV. You follow the race on the radio. Eventually, you'll get to the the other side of town and to the bottom of the hill, and take up a spot where you'll see them pass, a spot where you've stood in past years, too many to count.
You will remember one of the immortals getting caught at the back of the pack and having to push up the hill. You will remember the young rookie who attacked, but got subsumed before the top. You will remember an epic crash that stopped the whole pack one year, when the race to the bottom was a sprint. And, as you walk the kilometer into town and the half klick over to the hill, you'll think a little bit about all the other things that have happened in your village, neighbors you've known, family stories, talk about the wars the old ones remember, and talk about the wars and politics and farms and scandals long before that. You'll have sore legs before the day is over, and your back isn't what it once was either. But it won't matter, you'll add another dust-thin layer of memories to the almost genetic knowledge you have of this place. It won't occur to you that other people don't understand this and have no way of knowing about it; you probably don't think that way at all. You're just here for a race. You just live here.
No, aside from the straining in your back as you pull on your Wellingtons, the only thing you'll notice as you leg it into town is the sun is out for a change, maybe the rain will hold off (though wouldn't a shower make it interesting?); you notice that the breeze is stiff, and your neighbor Hans is 200 yards in front of you, and that bastard owes you a beer.
Like oblivious fans of the race a third of a world away who don't really think about anything except the race, you think about a lot of things other than the race. But you too, fail to notice that you're striding through culture, history and atmospherics as thick as oil fire smoke.
You're just here for the race and the beer and the frites and to chat with Hans, and maybe his widowed sister - she's not unattractive, for an older girl, you know...
And that's okay. It's fine to just take it as it comes and appreciate the great racing. We don't have to be standing up to our knees in cowshit, in the pouring rain, filled with gin and local knowledge and the whole history of the race we're watching. But if we could be out there, if we could absorb just a bit of that... wouldn't it be a great thing?
I guess I'll settle for Phil Liggett on Versus, some Duvel, and maybe I'll get some shoestring potatoes and mix up three or four fancy mayos... maybe get some mussels too. It's not enough but it'll have to do.
Not this year, but someday soon, I'm going to go there and catch a few of the classics. If you time it right, you can catch a two week period that includes a couple monuments, and a couple mid-week semi-classics.
When I'm there, I'm going to find that old Belgian guy I've been thinking about, pull him to the side and ask him if he knows how good he has it. Maybe he'll just laugh at me, and ask me if I know about what Museeuw did in his great year in 1996, what he did on this very hill, how it was an attack just like he saw Merckx make at the exact same spot. He might reminisce about how he saw Van Loy attack there one year but lose anyhow; and how when he was a boy how he saw the great Schepers lead through there, how he saw Kubler's great power, and how his father reminisced about even earlier racers. He won't know that I'm drinking it in like wine, blown away by the history and letting it wash over me. He'll only know that we're both there to watch the race, that day, and he'll laugh at the big know-nothing American and marvel that I even know about Flanders and bicycle racing at all. Then we'll turn and look up the road waiting for the pack, knee deep in atmosphere and history and probably not appreciating it as much as we might.
Then the pack will fly into sight, clatter past on the cobbles, and we'll cheer; and even though there isn't enough cognition in us to perceive all that we have seen, the ties to past and future, what we see that day that will be enough, and our memories will be added to history contained in that hill.
April 6 - Ronde van Vlaanderen
April 9 - Ghent Wevelgem
April 13 - Paris-Roubaix
April 20 - Amstel Gold Race
April 23 - Fleche Wallone
April 27 - Liege Bastogne Liege
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Speaking of the Almighty... I'm not one to get overly religious in this here blog, or anywhere else, but a recent development left me pretty much gobsmacked. Growing up a Catholic child, I remember many of the faithful Catholics appending to their rosary prayers a short prayer request: "and we pray for the conversion of Russia." It turns out that Gorbachev - the Russian leader who stuck the knife in the deadly zombie of the old communist government, spurring capitalism, corruption, and a rebirth of Christian faith in Russia - is and has for many years been, a faithful Christian, apparently of the Russian Orthodox type. When we said that prayer as children, I think we thought we were praying for the Godless communists to convert en masse. I don't think any of us imagined that it would be answered instead by the faithfulness of "Russia" - as the Russian head of state might be referred to. Evidence of God? Coincidence? Well, that's for you to decide. I *know* only as much about these things as you do, though what you and I believe may be something else entirely. Even if you're only a believer right before a crash or while you have a mortgage application pending, it serves as a reminder to be careful what you ask for; you might get it.
And, to undo the inevitable churching-up effect of a comment like that, I have to report that the new bike fit is working out okay. It feels nice to ride. The only problems are some twinges in the ankle tendons, which are unused to tracking straight and stretched; a slight mid-back muscular issue, apparently from disuse; and my Balzac. Yes, the Fi Zik Arione is divinely comfortable, even better than before, but the wear spots are different. And one thing about the new position is the Balzac, instead of resting comfortably on the shelf, is regularly in play every time I turn the pedals over. It's going to take a while to get used to that, and to build up a callous. In the meantime, I'll just channel "Rocky" and tell myself it's for a good cause.
During a High Cadence Easy Spin
Friday, March 21, 2008
Speaking of just different, I made the mistake of eating some chinese food while I was out there and am now battling an epic case of food poisoning. The flight back was... interesting. I spent enough time at the back of the plane to get to know the flight attendants by name. I think they thought I kept coming back to the bathrooms to meet politicians or something.
After hitting hotel exercycles for a couple days during the week, I can't wait to get back on the bike - maybe I'll do a bit of trainer time tonight, and the Family Bikes shop ride tomorrow, if the stomach agrees. I need to work in the new bike fit. Les Welch, the genius behind East Coast Bicycle Academy and mechanic / guru to some major names, came up to Coppi Camp for bike fits. My fit was entertaining - I think he took it as a challenge - and I wound up with some major adjustments. The seat went back, and my left leg - seriously shorter than the right - received some shims. The new position feels wonderful, my knees now track straight, and I feel like I'm putting down power all the way through the pedal stroke. Some random funny observations by this master of bike fit:
- You've got really broad hips & shoulders. I've never seen a rider before, where I had to think about making the Q-factor wider.
- This bike [17.1 lb carbon fiber Giant] is a bit light for you. Does it ever bounce when you sprint? Ever consider riding steel?
- You should get a track bike and race T-town. Preferably something made with steam pipes.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
That's right, I'm not going to race Milan-San Remo, the Ronde den Vlanderen, Paris-Roubaix, the Giro, the Berlin Six Days, the Olympics, and 24 Hour MTB Worlds.
I've had it with their constant sniping, and they can just go without me for a year. What will happen to pro cycling? I don't know. Probably, it will collapse.
That's okay, however. You can transfer your allegiance to more wholesome, drug-free sports. Like baseball. Or football. Or pro wrestling...
Here's the deal. I am going AWOL for a couple days. I just got back from Coppi Camp where I had a blast with the excellent people who comprise the Squadra, at Martin & Kathy Versluys' haven for cyclists, the Acorn Inn. I rocked about 180 miles in three days. No big deal, but it was *all* up down. The only flat spots up there in the mountains are the tiny tangents atop each hill - and such points exist only in the theoretical world of pure math. In my world, they aren't long enough to whack a Gu, take a swig of water, and cry about having been born of woman into this valley of tears.
According to my Powertap and the excellent Training Peaks WKO+ software, each day in the hills was roughly the equivalent of a hilly century ride in Northern VA or Maryland. That's right - the Civil War and Potomac Pedalers centuries take about the same level of effort as our little 50-60 mile jaunts in the hills west of Charlottesville.
On the advice of my coach, I tried to take it easy out there. The end result was a three day long spree of career best power numbers for every moment I rode past 23 minutes - in other words I've had harder efforts of 23 minutes duration or less, but for every duration long than that - 24 minutes, 32, 40, three hours - it was personal best work ratio. While my average power was pretty mundane - 220 watts, typically, a zone 2 effort - the normalized power (which takes into account the proportionally greater physiological cost of the sustained threshold efforts and short sprints up power climbs, giving the physiological cost a steady state wattage value) was considerably higher. My Mean Maximal 1 hour normalized power was 325 watts, a shade below threshold level (not surprisingly) because I was *trying* to take it easy - that means it was the equivalent of riding a 1 hour steady state TT at just about threshold. My mean maximal NP at 3:45 was 297 watts. For the super-duper-power-geeks among you, I picked up about 875 Training Stress Score (TSS) points, boosting CTL from an artificially low 39, to an artificially low 54, over the course of one hard weekend.
I think what this means is that if I was a nail, I just got hit by John Henry's freakin' hammer.
The bottom line is I am so exhausted I can barely type this. There's a little business travel in my immediate future and my cycling will be limited to a 45-50 minute spin each day I'm actually looking forward to spending 12 hours on airplanes over the next few days so I can catch up on sleep. On Friday I'll be back home and doing a 30 minute power test. Which should feel easy, comparatively.
As for you - you will have to find some other place to amuse yourself at work.
Here's one good place. And while you are checking that out, ask yourself: Is this the year that George Hincapie finally says, "Stupid Flanders!"
I may blog from the road but I doubt it. See all y'all in a week.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
What the hell, people... doesn't that red frickin' cape get caught in the chain sometimes? And how exactly do you handle the daily commute from planet Krypton?
Me... I can string together a good looking power chart while I'm training but it's not because I'm Superman. Oh no. Far from it. A lot of shit goes through my head. I don't "crush" a bunch of intervals. I struggle through them. Yeah, I may set a personal best 20 minute power, but that's only because I stack together something like 1200 consecutive seconds of personal best efforts. A lot of stuff goes through my mind. There's a lot of effort. It's fuckin' hard, people.
Here's an annotated power chart showing what I go through in a short sprint workout, just by way of illustration. You'll probably need to click on it to read the impressive figures and the training wisdom I impart.
Monday, March 10, 2008
the tasty swine's flesh,or wait for the hairless apes to do it for us?
Now I can rock his stylin' windvest with impunity.
You just happen to live in it.
Tire: Gatorskin Ultra, Wire Bead
Rear Wheel: Velocity Deep Vee, Powertap Pro
Like I said, these pics will go up on Mike's page, with explanations for the gear choices. I'll let you know when it does - or you can keep checking. Feel free to comment here in the meantime.
Friday, March 07, 2008
- I suppose by now you've heard about the attack on the NY Times military recruiting station by a bike-riding loser. I am sickened when I see people in this country thinking that is an appropriate way to settle things. You chuck a single bomb, and you've rejected the underpinnings of society, the agreement we have to disavow the traditional human method of settling disputes (cracking heads), and you start back down the road toward a tribalism. Liberation movements aside, a political bomb chucker doesn't represent a cause, whether it's anti-abortion, or anti-war; they represent the argument that "my cause transcends the social contract, and also [Fill In The Blank]". I think political arguments are just fine but refuse to dignify the bomb chuckers' arguments by saying something like, "well, I don't approve the methods, but he has a point." We can't go there because it serves as an apology for violence, and it besmirches otherwise perfectly valid political positions. Political process is the agreement we have to arbitrage our disputes, rather than fighting them all out; once you reject the agreement to not fight them out, all bets are off. Besides, I really don't want the POTUS to be on TV next week telling people they need to enlist in the military, otherwise, 'The Cyclists will have won."
- Had a nice muffin ride with my fellow Coppis this morning, and a great shop night at the excellent Conte's Bikes in Ballston, Arlington. It is hard to get out of that shop without dropping several hundred bucks. I always feel like I'm cheating on my excellent LBS, Family Bikes, when I shop at Contes; but Contes sponsors my club and, in effect, defrays the cost of my wanna-be racing career. On the other hand, their bucks up bike porn shop, packed with Cervelo and Pinarello and Specialized bling just slays me. I spent half the evening chatting with teammates as we sat their fondling bikes. Frickin weird, I suppose, but if you're a racer or just a bicycle addict, it makes perfect sense.
- What did I get? Glad you asked. An FSA Wing Pro handlebar, some tubes, a couple skullies, and a set of Vittoria Open Evo Corsa tires (290 threads per inch!) in the ultra-rare 25c size. Okay, they aren't ultra-rare but I figured that 25c would be a good size to get to enjoy some very plush riding. I've been meaning to try these tires out, they supposedly have the best ride of any clincher. I'll let you know. And the handlebar is the cheapo aluminum model - I'm not exactly a carbon bars type of guy.
- What the hell us up with front derailleurrer adjustment? I simply can't get mine right. I'm credible with most other bike maintenance activities - tire changes, wheel truing (when I have the time), brake installation, rear derailer adjustment, seat, etc, and am learning how to deal with cranks. Yes, I often have the bike shop do that stuff because I don't have the time or energy to mess with it, but I know how and often do that stuff. Yet front der adjustment is like some arcane religious cult ritual for me. I just haven't a clue how to do it right.
- First Review - Maxxis Re-Fuse tires. Nice training tire, 60 TPI, fairly thick rubber. They roll very smooth and have low rolling resistance. The ride isn't harsh, like some training tires, but neither is it particularly responsive. On my carbon-framed Giant TCR, the ride is... smooth but out of touch with the pavement. They aren't loose or slippery, they seem to stick extremely well in corners in fact - but I think their thickness and the 60 TPI and training compound rubber thickness combine to give them a sofa-like ride, in contrast to the sticky feel you'd get from Michelin Pro Race 2 Service Course, or Vredestein Fortezza Tri-Comps, for example. On the other hand the ride is smoother than the Continental Gatorskins on the other wheelset that I swap on and off my two main bikes. Overall - very good tires. I'll probably be buying them again if they wear well over the next month or two.
- I managed my first four days-in-a-row of riding for the year this week, and will make it 6 of 7 tomorrow and Sunday. It feels good. My legs are a little heavy, Bill has been ramping me up a little, in Base 2 but it's nothing bad. I'll bust 10 hours tomorrow, then probably ride a few hours of recovery Sunday (not scheduled but if I can keep the IF under .60, it's cool). It feels good to be building up a nice base and training load. Coppi Camp is this upcoming Thurs through Sunday, and I'll probably be looking at net 12 - 14 hours on the bike in four days, if the weather holds and my butt doesn't break. That will be a *good* training load and I'll need a real rest week after that.
- I think there's no shop ride tomorrow so I'll be off for 3-4 hours of zone 2, probably solo early in the AM, then maybe ride recovery down to Tradezone and cheer everybody on during the races. That's not a bad option. Do y'all have good rides planned for this weekend? If so, what are they and why are you looking forward to them?
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
- A triathlete trying to ride up the
- Requisite Asian guy hammering on a MTB/Hybrid, wearing the requisite down “hand grenade” jacket in 70 degree weather. What the hell.
- Other folks on bikes. God bless anybody who rode today. The forecast was for rain, and high winds. Anybody going out knew damn well they would get a dose of it, and lots of people rode anyhow. I bust balls, including my own at times, but all credit goes to people who would rather ride and struggle in the wind, than be dry and take it easy on the Metro or in their cage.
Monday, March 03, 2008
So I don't know how to work the 'cross season hard, stay in tip-top shape over the winter, or how to push the mashed potatoes to the side if the average temp is below 52 degrees. But what I do know is comfort on the bike. I know how to suffer, but as importantly, I know how to not suffer. This morning I proved it. It was 38 degrees when I rolled out, with significant wind chill, knocking the perceived temp down to 31. Forecast for the afternoon was 68. How does a rider prepare to meet both halves of that environmental challenge? Easy. Transitional clothing. I wore no less than 4 items of transitional clothing. It was so good, that it deserves a poem. We'll start at the bottom.
Toesties, Toe Warmers, I ain't skeezin',
Their poly-pro keeps my piggies from freezin'.
Slip 'em both on like a shoe-borne condom,
They'll warm you up, and they got cool logos on 'em.
My knee warmers, non-Belgian,
Are hotter than Hell,
Maybe not stylin',
But warm knees don't swell.
Arm warmers made by the great DeFeet,
Warm up my guns, and look oh-so neet.
Okay, fine, they don't look all that hot,
But having warm elbows is better than not.
Stuffable windvest, warm in the front,
Has holes in the back, my sweat to punt.
The zipper allows precise cooling and heating,
All other windbreakers my windvest is beating.
So you can keep your long pants and commuter jacket,
If I see a fleece vest, surely I'll smack it.
Transitional gear is where it's at,
'Cuz riding in comfort is PRO and it's phat.
Okay, so that really sucked but I was indeed quite happy to be in my transitional gear today. 38 in the AM, chilly but I was comfortable and pedaling past all these commuterable folks in heavy jackets, face masks, the whole deal. Going home, I just rolled stuff into my rear pockets and headed out, wearing nothing but bib shorts and a jersey, feeling the breezes on my knee-zes. Meanwhile, I'm passing all these commuters in the almost-70 degree weather, as they are *dying* in their heavy jackets (fully opened) and commuter pants, just absolutely sweating balls. Yeah, it was borderline chilly this morning but I could have gone 6 hours in that weather - I was just lightly chilled, and wasn't breaking a big sweat, which is the precursor to getting very cold. Yeah, it's cool to suffer, but it's your legs that should be hurting; every other bit of suffering, from road vibration to a painful seat to a lack of proper nutrition to intemperate weather, is suffering of the kind that saps your strength and takes away the energy and focus you'd bring to turning the pedals.
This afternoon I was just comfortable; it was one of those half dozen or so perfectly temperate rides you get every year. Wonderful. It was no suffering at all, which nicely complimented my morning ride, which was not suffering either.
Like Lemond said about the conditions you need to create to ride well - like he cribbed from generations of Italian and French pros before him - drink before you are thirsty; eat before you are hungry; take clothing off before you start to sweat. Transitional clothing is a key part of following that maxim.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
As for this next one... yeah, it's a Bacon Bowl. You use it to put scrambled eggs in, or maybe some Doritos, or what the hell, if you're the kind of person who makes a bowl out of a pound of bacon, I don't see why you wouldn't use it to hold a bunch more bacon. And maybe some ham.
It just may be the answer to the Fat Cyclist's question, "How many calories can you cram in a salad?" Last best answer: Taco Salad!
Seems to me you could use this to whip up a bacon, broccoli, blue cheese and Buffalo Wing salad that would pretty much go all Pearl Harbor on Taco Salad's ass, and that's before you throw in some French Fries and a side of Mayo.
You'll have to check out Swobo's Stevil Kinevil for full instructions on how to build a bacon bowl, and How to Avoid the Bummer Life.
Christ on a crutch, I'm glad we won the cold war. That was bad, but I'm not sure I could handle Stevie van Zandt singing the Song of the Volga Boatmen.
I know. That was painful. After inflicting that on you, I suppose I should give you something good and uplifting, ad not a jarring KulturKampf of a video. So here, have a little Hayseed Dixie, "Highway to Hell."
Yeah, they're no Dread Zeppelin, but I love 'em anyhow.
Say, did you say Dread Zeppelin? Yeah, sure, I got some a that reggae/Elvis impersonator/hip-hop/Led Zeppelin cover music.
Matter of fact, that was so good, let's have another round:
Now if that vertigo-inducing collection of cover music doesn't knock you off the bike for a day or two, I don't know what would.