Yesterday was Day 1….

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of the first new year of breaking my hip.  I did it on May 27th, 2014, and although I raced last weekend and that was the unofficial anniversary, if there are anniversaries of injuries, today is day two of year two.

I can’t say that I had any idea how big of a deal this was going to be.  I looked back at the post I did the night I got hurt, the day of surgery, and I didn’t seem to be too concerned.  But, I have been hurt a lot in life and never really think much about it at the time.  This time it was a little different.  I thought it was going to be a couple months.  I did race Chequamegon at 3 1/2 months.  I’m not sure how I did that looking back.  Stupid determination probably explains it best.

Even last week, I was limping around some.  It just depends on the day and weather.  Honestly, the weather is probably the biggest influence on pain and limping.  I can’t really put any other actions, like long rides, jumping a lot, climbing ladders, etc. to it feeling worse.

Like I’ve said, I’ve been hurt a lot over the years.  Not more than anyone else,  probably just average, but considering how long I’ve been at this, it adds up.  I’ve only hurt my lower body a couple times.  I broke my leg once at the British Milk Race, but that was the fibula, the small bone in the lower leg, and it healed up pretty quickly.  Actually, now that I think about it, I fractured my hip in the Tour de France VTT, MTB version of the Tour back in the 90’s.  They didn’t do anything with that and it really didn’t slow me down much at all.

Leg injuries are a problem for cyclists for obvious reasons.  Breaking a collarbone, shoulder injuries, etc. are a little easier to get back on the bike from.   I have to admit, my right shoulder, the one I had rotator cuff surgery on a couple years ago, has never really worked very well since.  But, it’s not really a huge deal riding bikes.  In life, it’s a real drag, but riding a bike you usually keep your hands lower than your shoulders.  When, or if I get a chance to throw my arms up at the end of a bike race, then the rotator cuff problem might come into play.

Tonight I’m racing a time trial in Kansas City, the start of a 3 day weekend.  The time trial is only 3 miles.  It seems like such a waste of gas and time to do that, but it is part of the omnium and there are even points for the time trial, circuit race and criterium.  I have been riding pretty horrible this week training.  I think, actually, I know it is allergies.  I have all my symptoms of allergies.  Ears all clogged, tired, itchy eyes and fatigue.  I need to get out of here soon.  It is so wet and everything is growing like crazy.

Okay, Brian is bringing some of my race wheels by Topeka soon.  He is doing the Dirty Kanza tomorrow.  I feel bad for him and all those guys racing it tomorrow morning early.  It could turn into a real death, like nearly die, death march.  It is supposed to rain all day and tonight in Emporia.  Some of the roads don’t have any gravel, so they are dirt, ie. mud when you add water.  Plus there are a few low water crossings, which won’t be so low if it rains into the night. 200 miles of doing that is going to be mentally and physically trying, to say the least.

It isn’t supposed to rain tomorrow in Kansas CIty.  That is a good thing because the circuit on Cliff Drive is not a good course wet.  It really only has a couple corners that are bad, but they are bad dry, so wet they would be treacherous.

Okay, I’ve been rambling enough.  Better watch the end of the Giro.

Looking all happy at the hospital a year ago.

Looking all happy at the hospital a year ago.

 

 

 

 

How Lazy Are We?

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While I was riding yesterday I was seeing a lot of things that makes me wonder how lazy we have become.

First, I was riding through a neighborhood and saw a woman get into her SUV.  She was putting a pillow into her back and it had an automatic opener.  So, she was standing there as the rear was slowly going up.  She threw the small pillow into the back, pushed the remote and the back started back down.

It got me thinking about how much we pay for luxury, or really, how much we expect to have luxury.  I don’t really understand this automatic everything.

Let’s just look at cars.  It is nearly impossible to buy a new car with manual windows nowadays. I just replaced an automatic window opener in my van.  It wasn’t that expensive, doing it myself, but I would just as well be not replacing it.  Are we so lazy that we can’t turn our arms around in a few circles every one in a while to open and shut our car windows?  Seems like it since automatic windows are the standard now.  Same with door locks.  Or automatic doors, or seat adjusters.  All these things take energy, from gasoline, and they add weight to the car, which takes gasoline to move.  So, it reality, we’re happy paying extra for all these “luxuries”.

Same with lawn mowers.  I hardly see anyone mowing their own lawns in many neighborhoods. And when I do, the majority of the mowers are either self-propelled or riding.  People just walking behind their mowers as the mowers drag themselves across the grass.  Really, it isn’t that hard to push a lawn mower.  Maybe for older people, I can understand.  But, it not like you hardly ever see anyone using a real push mower.  My next door neighbor, who is 87, mows her lawn with an actual push mower, like non gasoline.  It is a pretty big yard and she is pretty incredible.  If she can do it with a manual mower, then the rest of us should be able to push a gas mower around.

And at the grocery stores.  All the stores are adding more and more electric carts so people can drive around the aisles and not walk.  I do understand that there are a few people who actually need these to shop.  But the majority of people I see using them walk into the store, get in the cart, shop and then walk back out of the store.  And most are pretty big, like fat big.   It would probably do them good to walk a little while shopping.

I could go on and on here.  We pay for these conveniences.   People don’t even look at the window sticker of a car and think, man, I could save $3000 if my car didn’t have automatic doors and adjustable seats.   If there was a stack of hundred-dollar bills sitting in the front seat of your car one day, like 30 of them and all of a sudden it was just manual doors and you had to slide back and forth to adjust you seat, would you take the money or leave it the same?  I would probably hate the answer most people would give to that question.

I saw this guy yesterday throw his cigarette on the ground, lit still, right before he went into a Starbucks.  This is pretty common, I guess, by all the cigarette butts lying around everywhere.  I don’t understand why it became okay to do this.  I see it all the time out riding.  People just throwing lit cigarettes out their car windows when they are done.  I remember seeing both the driver and passenger of a car do that at a stop light once, one car in front of a police car. Nothing happened.  Pretty much makes it legal if no body enforces it or says anything.   It is just laziness not wanting to put the cigarette out and put it where it belongs, in the trash.

Anyway, it doesn’t take that much more energy to do things the “non-lazy way”.   When the automation goes bad, which in invariably does, it takes a bunch of time to fix it.  Like my car window.  I had to order the part, disassemble the car door, install the opener and put it all back together.  It cost money and time.  Plus, someone, maybe me to a certain extent, paid for this convenience up front.  And it wasn’t cheap.

Sometimes it is just better using the manual hedge clippers.  There is a certain zen surrounding sculpting a bush with hedge clippers.  And this is just an analogy of lots of things in our lives that are better the more simple they are.  Automation sometimes leads to frustration and extra work.  Not to mention it, many times, reeks of laziness.   That is not a good thing.

Maybe use a pair of these soon.   It would probably make you feel good.

Maybe use a pair of these soon. It would probably make you feel good.

Brad Huff – The Cyclist

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I saw this video over at Velonews.com and thought I should share it too, with as many of you as possible.  I’ve known Brad since he was a baby. (And he still is.)  He is way more relaxed and goofy in real life than he is here.   It is nice seeing a serious side of him commenting on some of the things that keeps him motivated and involved in the sport.  It’s short and worth a watch.

 

What it Takes to Win Races or Get to a New Level

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I’ve been thinking some about this past weekend and the races.  I think doing this can make you better at the sport of cycling when you critique yourself afterward and try to learn from the experiences.

I didn’t go into the weekend with the mindset to win.   I went in with the mindset to try to survive and improve.  When you have this attitude, it is rare you win.  I usually win races when I go into a race with all the t’s and i’s crossed and dotted.

I’m pretty happy with how Friday’s road race went.  I had no intention to try to race the first half of the race, so never would have made the early break that eventually won the race.  But the 2nd half, I did a system’s check and decided I had enough energy to race the 2nd half.  I realized that a group would go and made that group.  Eventually I rode into a situation that I was feeling pretty good.  At the end, I felt I had pretty good power and got a little lucky, which is always nice, and finished best of the rest in 8th.

Saturday is a different story at Snake Alley.  I have won the race a couple times and know where you have to ride to win.  I was never there.  I was always riding at least 10 riders back and sometimes more, heading into the climb.  There is no way to make the front split riding from here, especially with my current form.

My main criticism of myself on Snake Alley is that I was making the climb very long.  I was shifting at the wrong point, right at the bottom, entering the brick climb.  To get up the hill quickly, you need to hit the first switchback or two with momentum, then shift.  This makes the hill shorter and leaves you with extra power cresting the top to start the descent.  I was pretty much done going up the last short pitch and didn’t have any juice to accelerate over the top to get up to speed descending.  I know the descent pretty good, so could make up a bunch of time, usually, on the guys ahead, but that won’t save you 20 times around.

Once you get in the survival mode in Snake Alley, the race is done.  You don’t usually come back into race mode again.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in a chase group in that race that has someone come around and put themselves into a race winning position.  I was in survival mode before they blew the whistle.  The results showed.

In retrospect, I wouldn’t have skipped Sunday’s Muscatine race in the rain after knowing I was only going to race 30 minutes on Monday.  Sunday’s race is good for me too.  Not as good as Monday’s, but any criterium with a climb is a race I like to race and  usually do okay at.

Skipping racing in the rain was a mistake.  I could have gotten a little, tiny monkey off my back, being a little apprehensive about criterium racing, or more accurately, cornering fast, in the rain.  The Muscatine course is a very good course to race bikes in the rain.  It is pretty safe, only two tight corners, one being really slow.  It would be nice sitting here right now with that race under my belt.

Sunday, I don’t really know.  I had changed my mindset and was in the race with a race face.  I had good feeling warming up and started with the mindset to try to get a result.   I kept feeling pretty good in the race.  I don’t think I’m going well enough, just right now, to be able to say I could have won the race, but I know I would have been there at the finish and hopefully would have known by the end if I needed to try to be away or just participate in the sprint to finish well.

That is what is so disappointing, crashing only 1/3 way into the race and not knowing how my body would react to the last hour of the race.  I was surprised that I wasn’t overheating, since I’ve had some issue with that historically early in the year.  I guess I’ll never know.

Once great thing about the sport is there is always next week.  There are bike races nearly every weekend through the year.  If you want, I’m sure you could race 52 weeks a year.  So, with those opportunities, there is always a race somewhere if you feel you are going good and want to test yourself.  I think power numbers are all great, but the only way to know if you are going good is to have to do efforts you don’t have control over, and the easiest way to do this is race.

Skipping races when you think you’re flat isn’t necessarily right.  Sometimes, when you’re not going good, or you’re trying to figure out where you are, you need to go to the race to get that information.   Then take that information and try to tweek your training and racing schedule to try to get to the level your happy with.

 

 

The first lap of Snake Alley was the only time I hit it at speed.  And it was probably the best, in 8th, I started up the hill the whole day.  It only went downhill from here.

I

Quad Cites Criterium – Nope

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Yesterday was surprising in a lot of respects.  At least surprising for me personally.  I woke up after a bad nights sleep.  I was feeling pretty crummy and wasn’t looking forward to racing a hard, hot criterium.

But, that changed after I went out late in the morning to ride an hour to get my legs  woken up. I felt pretty great, like really great riding.  It was pretty windy and when I was riding back along the Mississippi River, nearly directly into the wind, I was going consistently over 20 mph without really trying.  That changed my mindset completely.

So, all of a sudden I started thinking of the race as a race instead of a survival/training day.  I really didn’t warm-up at all.  I rode down the hill a little over a mile and then a couple laps of the course and that was it.  It was going to be hot, at least hot compared to what I was used to, in the mid 80’s.  Plus, it was tailwind up the climb, which makes it just that much hotter.

The course is a little under a mile and is pretty much 1/2 up, with tailwind and then a headwind descent into a couple tight corners.  Then start all over again.

I didn’t warm-up because I’ve found that if I ride earlier, I can start fine, plus I wanted to keep my core temperature low.  There is no reason to be hot before a endurance sporting event.

I was called to the line, so didn’t have to mess with the rushing the line.  The race started super tame and pretty much stayed that way.  A few guys took off after a couple laps, but they never really got too far ahead.

I was feeling great.  I don’t think I am riding great, but feeling great makes riding uphill a lot easier.   I could pretty much move around at will.  I could tell after a few laps that a lot of guys were suffering towards the top of the climb.

Then a disaster.  The headwind made the descent pretty neutralized since no one really wanted to put in a lot of power at the front when everyone else was coasting behind them.  So it got bunched up at the bottom corner.

After about 11 laps, I was in towards the front, but sandwiched on both sides, when the guys taking the inside line swung a little wide, thus squeezing the outside line into the curb.  And that was it.  Someone fell and chaos.  A couple guys hit the curb pretty hard and I had a guy lying right in front of me.  I skidded into him, but didn’t flip.  Then a couple guys ran into me from behind and I did a tommy type tip over, but didn’t hit the pavement.

I was stuck and was a little worried about the guy I’d run into.  He didn’t look so good.  I asked him if he thought he was okay and he said he was just stuck at the bottom of the pile.  He sounded alright. I casually checked my wheels and made my way over to the finish stretch to take a free lap.

This is when it turned south.  I rode past the start/finish line and the official said I was done, along with about 10 other guys.  He said there wasn’t a free lap.  I was thinking, WTF?  I didn’t hear the head official announce at the start that there wouldn’t be a free lap.  I was staying with Tom Schuler, the race director and couldn’t imagine that he wouldn’t have a free lap on a course such as this.  It was less just a tad less that a mile around, with lots of places when people could have a mechanical and crash, obviously.

So, I just rode over to the house that Jeff Bradley’s team was using as a viewing area, sat in the shade and had a beer.  As luck would have it, Tom Schuler was there and I asked him why he didn’t have any free laps.  His flippant reply was, “For what, a mechanical?”  I just glared at him for a few seconds and walked away.  I knew that nothing that would be coming out of my mouth would have been appropriate for the situation.

Tom was a Pro, won the US Pro Road Championships, was on the 1980 Olympic Team, and even won Athens Twilight and Sommerville.  I wonder how many free laps he’s taken in his career? He knows good and well what a free lap is for.   Crashing in bike races is part of the deal and the free lap rule makes it so riders that have mishaps can still finish the race.  I’d like to hear Tom’s real explanation for not having one.

I was disappointed because I wanted to finish the race.  I wanted the race miles and efforts in the heat.  And I wanted to test myself against those guys when I could actually pedal good.  And I didn’t get to.  I only rode 30 minutes.

The field was already pretty small, about half of the 80-90 starters.  I could see by the faces of many of the guys still racing that they were suffering on the climb, in the heat.   And the field started dragging.

About the time I crashed, Grant Erhard, a young rider from St. Louis, took off on a nearly race winning move.  He soled the next hour, only to be caught a couple laps from the finish.  I know Grant from an early season road race last year, Froze Toes, where he outsprinted me for the win.  He was riding pretty good then and much better now.  He deserved to win the race, the field was so done, but that didn’t work out.

3 guys caught him and then spit him out the back with just a couple miles to go.  Josh Johnson, Bissell, ended up winning the sprint and the race.  Grant dragged in for a respectable fourth.

I didn’t really talk to any of the riders that finished after the race.  I would have liked to know if it just got so hot or the hill just got that much harder the last half of the race.  Everyone looked pretty beat.

The race is very good.  The spectators are there, and great.  Lots of house parties.  The course is fantastic, if you like hard criteriums, which I do.  It has an old time bike race feeling, which is refreshing.

All that is good, I’ve still never finished the new Quad Cities Criterium in Davenport.  I’ve paid $100 in entry and have ridden 10 or 11 laps.  That is about $10 a lap.  Plus, a broken hip, so I’d have to say that this hasn’t been my luckiest race.

At least I was feeling good.  I didn’t have a super amount of power, but feeling good is better than not.  And I’m not hurt, which is great.  Overall, the weekend went alright.  I wish I would have raced Muscatine now.  Saving energy isn’t what I needed to do.  I need race miles.

We packed up and drove the 6 hours back to Topeka.  It was storming the whole way back. Crazy lightening and heavy rain.  We got back around 2 am.  Man, the midwest has been getting pummeled this spring.  It is supposed to rain Thursday thru Saturday this week.  I hope, for Brian Jensen’s sake, that it isn’t raining on Saturday.  Saturday is Dirty Kanza and riding 200 miles on gravel, in the rain could be a nightmare.

The Tour of Kansas City starts Friday too.  This is the 51th year of this race.  It is a three day stage race, with a time trial on Friday night and then a hard circuit race on Saturday and a criterium on Sunday.    Raining for Cliff Drive on Saturday might be a challenge.  The course is great, but not so good in the rain.  There is one corner that is hard to get around when it is dry.

Okay, I need to get on to house painting now, while it’s dry.

I never got stressed during the 30 minutes I rode.

I never got stressed during the 30 minutes I rode.

 

 

The sprint was pretty close before the line.

The sprint was pretty close before the line.


Jeff Bradley's Trek shop's hangout.  Dennis is comfortable in the chair in the shade.

Jeff Bradley’s Trek shop’s hangout. Dennis is comfortable in the chair in the shade.


Results.

Results.


This was pretty much the whole drive back.

This was pretty much the whole drive back.


It's Dennis Kruse's birthday today.  He is 70.  Here he is with Hawkeye yesterday.

It’s Dennis Kruse’s birthday today. He is 70. Here he is with Hawkeye yesterday.

 

 

 

Skipped Muscatine

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Yesterday was a weird day.  I woke up early in the morning with a crazy cramp in my right calf.  I’ve never really had a calf cramp, never had one like this.  It took me maybe 5 seconds to realize what was going on, and then another 30 seconds to get it to release.  By that time, my calf was a disaster.  Still this morning, it is really sore.

Then I looked at the weather and made an executive decision that I was going to skip the race in Muscatine.  There were lots of reasons, but I hated not going anyway.  I’m not of the personality to miss racing because of weather.  I pride myself in being able to ride in most conditions, but considering the upside vs. downside, intellectually it didn’t make any sense.

So, I got suited up and went for a ride.  It was spotty stormy and of course, it was impossible going out without getting drenched.  I made it over an hour before a storm rolled in.  I had to ride 40 minutes in the rain.

Last night I started feeling kind of shitty.  First my stomach, then my head.  I ate dinner, but it only got worse from there.  I’m not sure what the deal is.  I woke up at least 4 times last night totally soaked in sweat.  That made me think I was going to be fine this morning, kind of burning it out of me, but it didn’t.  I still have a slight stomach ache, but my head is really clogged up.  Maybe it is that bug/ear problem I had from a couple days ago.  I could barely pry my eyelids apart this morning.  They were seized together with some crusty stuff.

Anyway, I’m going to eat breakfast and then go for a ride and see how I’m really doing on the bike.  One of the reasons I didn’t race yesterday was because it looked to be dry today for the Davenport race.  I didn’t get to do that race last year because of crashing before and breaking my hip.  The course is hard, good hard, and could be an okay race for me.  It is wet out right now, but looked to be clearing by noon.

Okay, I should try to wake up a little more and get more motivated for the day.  I’m kind of mopping around right now, not being very optimistic about the day.

The corner I fell on the pretty much ruined last season and put a small damper on this one.

The corner I fell on the pretty much ruined last season and put a small damper on this one.

 

I had to ride back into this yesterday.

I had to ride back into this yesterday.

Muscatine during race time.  The word Muscatine is under the top yellow on the map.

Muscatine during race time. The word Muscatine is under the top yellow on the map.