Cheering Myself Up

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I think I do a pretty good job of staying happy.  Of course I get down some, but not that much.  I do this by constantly reminding myself that I have it better than 90% of the planet’s population at the start.   Sure there are nicer places to be born, but in general, we all won the lottery being born in a 1st world country.  We have options, that we consider rights, that most of the rest of the humans on the planet can only dream of.

Anyway, I hate being sick.  Honestly, I don’t get sick as often as I used to.  I’m not sure why that is.  I used be sick every spring, bar none, and then usually again once again during the season.  When I get sick, I don’t get well quickly.  I think that might be because I don’t have a spleen, but that is just a guess.  Whatever the reason,  it is hard to stay upbeat once I know I’m in for a long run.  Athletes, in general, are horrible patients.

It is easy to reminisce about how much time and effort I’ve already put in, all for not.  I rode close to 800 miles the previous two weeks and now I am struggling to do a 30 mile ride.   It seems like I’m at square one.

But in reality, you never go back to square one.  I know that.  But when I’m sick, the doom’s day thoughts come to the forefront of my mind.

This morning, for some odd reason, I got a Facebook notice on my phone.  I clicked on it and it showed a picture of me 3 years ago and there I was, sitting in a hospital in Vail, looking all disoriented after rotator cuff surgery.  That might have been the worse 6 weeks of my life.

All of a sudden, I am cheered up, thinking how stupid I’ve been dwelling over a chest cold when I could be where I was three years ago.  Weird how that is.  Happy being sick when you acknowledge the other situations that could be much worse.

Anyway, it is only going to be in the 20’s today.  I feel badly for some of the weekend riders because the winter weather in Kansas has been super this year, but only during the week.  The weekends seem to be the worst days of the year.

But, it is only going to be warmer. Next week looks amazing, minus the wind.  It’s funny, even just a few warm days to look forward to can cheer me up. 

We have a group ride going at noon.  Just for a couple hours. The KU vs. OU rematch is at 1:30, so we’re going to probably miss the start.  I haven’t had the luxury to be able to just go out and do the miles sitting on this past week.  I hope enough guys show up so I have that option.

Facebook memory from 3 years ago.

Facebook memory from 3 years ago.


Weather for the next week.

Weather for the next week.


Tucker photo. He is pretty much getting along with all the cats. I think that is because he's about the same size as some of them.

Tucker photo. He is pretty much getting along with all the cats. I think that is because he’s about the same size as some of them.

Bike Throw

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I just was looking at the results from the Tour of Qatar this morning and saw that Alexander Kristoff beat Mark Cavendish in today’s stage by nearly nothing.  That should be an interesting duel this season.  Anyway, it got me thinking about how important a bike throw can be at the end of a race.

I’m really not sure where I learned how to throw my bike.  It was just part of messin’ around training back when I was a kid, I think.  It was one of the things we all did when we sprinted for stop ahead signs or city limits.

Wherever I learned it, if you don’t know how to throw your bike, then you need to learn.  And I guess you do this by going out and training with other guys and doing sprints.

One thing this individualized training has done is made the handling abilities of the riders much worse.  Cycling is such a complicated sport it isn’t like anyone can have all the abilities by the time they turn professional.  No rider has encountered all the conditions they need, even in 5-10 years that they can’t learn something.  I learn or relearn something in just about every race I do.

Anyway, I deviate.  Since nearly all races are photo timed at the finish, your front wheel is where you finish.  Being able to position that wheel a few inches further ahead at the end of the race can make the difference.  So many races have been won, or lost, by a bike throw.

I suggest if you’re not comfortable throwing your bike at the finish of a race, you skip the intervals one day and go out and practice.

You can see that Cavendish (in yellow) is going much faster than Kristoff because of the relationship of their rear wheels.

You can see that Cavendish (in yellow) is going much faster than Kristoff because of the relationship of their rear wheels.

Here is a photo of a finish at Burlington Road Race a long time ago.  John Puffer is on my left.  I'm pretty far off the back of my seat.  It is over a 40 mph sprint and I wasn't really as close as it looks.

Here is a photo of a photo at the finish of the  Burlington Road Race a long time ago. John Puffer is on my left. I’m pretty far off the back of my seat. It is over a 40 mph sprint and I wasn’t really as close as it looks.  He is much faster than me.

Start of the daily puppy pictures.

Start of the daily puppy pictures.

 

Half Wheeling Reminder

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Yesterday, Bill, my brother Kris and I went out for my birthday ride.  The birthday rule we have around here is one mile for every year of age.  I picked riding to Lawrence, which is around 60 miles, which would more than cover the rule.  I have a sucking chest cold and wouldn’t have normally ridden anywhere nearly that far.  Anyway, the wind was from the southwest blowing around 15, which is calm for around here.

Bill and I rode the whole way over, with Kris sitting on.  We got a cup of coffee and started back. It was super nice out, in the 50’s, but I still felt shelled.  Bill and Kris started pulling back and I sensed a little half wheeling going on.  We kept going faster and faster.  My wattage had been pretty high going over and we were going way faster back, against the wind.  After a few miles, Bill swung off and said he was tired of being half wheeled.  I had planned on sitting on and taking it easy the whole way back, but found myself in Bill’s position, getting half wheeled.  I verbally told Kris I didn’t appreciate the situation, but that didn’t do anything to alleviate the problem.

I was mildly surprised that I could even pull next to him.  My lungs are jacked right now. This kept going on the whole way back.  My wattage riding over to Lawrence was around 260NP and then it dropped to 240 sitting on and it was back at 280 getting back to Topeka.  Big effort difference.

Anyway, since it is early season, it is a good time to address half wheeling again.  This is the time of the season where the form differences show the most.  Guys have been somewhere warm training, or even worse, training hard outside in harsh conditions,  are riding next to other riders that have been doing basement time on their trainers, or even worse, not training consistently at all.   Not bashing trainers, but the guys that have been outside a bunch are nearly always in much better shape than the basement dwellers.

Here is a post I did a few years ago about half wheeling.  If you’re a half wheeler, in better shape than the other guys you are riding with, take pity on them.  But that is really impossible, because real half wheelers don’t actually have any clue that they are.  Okay – my initial half wheeling post –

I hate getting half wheeled. It doesn’t really matter by who, but the stronger the rider, the more I dislike it. That being said, I do, on rare occasion, half wheel myself. I’m not sure that I actually half wheel because I am cognoscente of the action. To truly be half wheeled, or to be half wheeling, the half wheeler has to be oblivious to the action.

If you don’t understand the definition of half wheeling, it is the action by an individual, when he or she rides beside you, when you are riding two by two, and is always just enough ahead of you that you feel like you are always trying to catch up or get back even with them. If a rider is a true half wheeler, they don’t have a clue that they are doing it.

The funny thing about the whole situation is that the rider that is “behind” is actually controlling the speed, so there really should be less mental stress.

I’ve been unfortunate to be half wheeled by some pretty great riders. Like I said above, the better the rider, the more stress it causes the rider on the receiving end. The most famous rider I was half wheeled by was Bernard Hinault. I didn’t train with Hinault enough to know if he is really a half wheeler, all I know is that I was riding with him, before a time trial in Colombia, and he definitely half wheeled me for 30 minutes or so.

Michael Engleman half wheeled. Nearly always. And he was strong enough, more than strong enough, that you should have been stressed. Micheal was so strong that he could keep nearly any pace, virtually all day.

I didn’t mind it so much from him. He and I lived together in Boulder and I rode with him a ton. I like training hard and once you get used to the situation, it really isn’t much of an issue. It’s only when you’re having a really bad day that it wears on you. Before the Tour of the Americas, back in 1988, we were training in Florida and I’d do some pulls with him at the front of a group of 10 for over 30 minutes at 25 mph +. Sometimes for an hour. Alan McCormick, Broz, and most of the other guys on the team would purposely not ride beside Micheal because of the high chance that was going to occur. I finished 2nd overall in that stage race and the reason was because of getting half wheeled for weeks.

I really hate to be half wheeled by guys I don’t know. Getting half wheeled by complete strangers is worse than getting half wheeled by Tour de France winners. When you have no knowledge of how strong a rider is next to you, it just stresses you out that much more. It’s like you’re going up a huge climb, but you have no idea where the top is. This usually occurs when I’m really tired. Usually on a Monday, after a weekend stage race when I’ve stayed around a city to do the local group ride. Everyone that didn’t race on the weekend shows up and the Monday ride eventually turns into a pseudo race. I don’t mind it turning into a race, I just hate the pulling at the front, 2 x 2, at 28 mph.

The same thing can happen on a MTB. When you go to someone’s local course/trails, and they are so excited that they take you out and ride at race pace on trails you’ve never rode on. It is a drag. Tom Ritchey had a reputation of doing that. Thomas Frischknecht would say that he needed to rest up to ride with Tom, if Thomas was heading out to San Francisco after a race. He say that Tom would take him out and just hammer him. I always felt for him, getting hammered after a Norba National or World Cup, by your sponsor. That is a pretty weird situation.

Anyway, everyone that has ridden much has experienced being half wheeled. If you haven’t then you most likely are a half wheeler and just don’t know it.

Half wheeling observation from behind.

Half wheeling observation from behind.

Fingers – 3 out of 10 Broken

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I went to see Stacie yesterday in Louisville.  She took a few x-rays and it was sort of a good/bad report.  My main concerns, my left thumb and neck seemed pretty good.  But my left ring fingers is displaced.  Plus, the thumb on my right hand, that I broke before Berryman Epic, is still sort of healing.

I hadn’t thought much about it but that is 3 out of 10 digits that are off the market for use as of this time.  It is amazing how you can adapt to this, it really doesn’t seem that awful, but it is a hassle, of course.

My left thumb is what is keeping me from really doing normal stuff.  Well, maybe not completely.  It is funny how I haven’t really been paying much attention to my left ring finger and now that I see that it is broken badly and probably should have been pinned back together, it is bothering me a ton more.

Stacie talked to a hand surgeon and send him my x-ray and he said that there really isn’t enough bone on the finger to pin it back together.  The break is too close to the joint.  He said I should be ready for arthritis down the road.  That joint and all my others it seems.

Anyway, I guess it is just time now.  The breaks are all healing and that is a good thing.

We drove back to Topeka and got back in time for some of the KU/West Virginia game.  It was an important basketball game, if that is possible, for the Big 12 Conference.

The little one, Tucker, was fascinated, running around the house, having cats check him out.  He was a mad man for hours and then collapsed and slept all night.

Today is my birthday.  I have a head cold, which is a drag.  I feel pretty crummy.  It is funny how I can go and ride 600 miles in a little over a week and it all goes down the drain with sickness.  I know that isn’t really the case, but it seems like it.

It is supposed to be in the mid 50’s here in Topeka, so I’m still going to go ride and see how I feel.  It is normally the routine riding my age.  That might be a stretch today unless I can recruit some guys to pull me around.

My left thumb is just a little displaced after my crankarm breakage fiasco.

My left thumb is just a little displaced after my crankarm breakage fiasco.

But my ring finger is a mess.

But my ring finger is a mess.

Gas prices are crazy low in Missouri.  $1.23 is about 1/2 of what it cost in California.

Gas prices are crazy low in Missouri. $1.23 is about 1/2 of what it cost in California.

Tucker getting his nails filed.  He wasn't much into it, but he has been ripping Trudi's face up pretty good.

Tucker getting his nails filed. He wasn’t much into it, but he has been ripping Trudi’s face up pretty good.

 

Hot to Cold

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Yesterday we drove from Chicago to Louisville.  It isn’t that far and Stacie wanted to look at my hand and neck.  I’m heading over there in a few minutes.

I woke up today with a head cold.  I heard the stewardess say that everyone flying recently has been sick and what do you know, I’m a little sick.

It snowed most of the way down on the drive.  There is only a dusting of snow here, but they say that the town shuts down because no one can drive worth a darn when it is snowy.  I guess I’ll see pretty soon.

I saw that it was over 90 degrees where I was riding last week.  Now it is around 20 here.  Pretty crazy temperature change.

Tucker has been a great traveller.  He pretty much sleeps, but sometime wanders around the van.  He is going to have already been in 6 states by the time we’re home tonight, so only 42 more to go.  I doubt he’ll check those off as fast as the first 6.

Okay, I need to get going.  Stacie has surgery later this morning and is squeezing me in.

He pretty much wants to be in someone's lap if he is awake.

He pretty much wants to be in someone’s lap if he is awake.

But, most of the time he sleeps.

But, most of the time he sleeps.

It's my birthday tomorrow, so Stacie got me a cake after dinner last night.  Super nice.

It’s my birthday tomorrow, so Stacie got me a cake after dinner last night. Super nice.

 

My Religious Upbringing

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While watching the Superbowl last night, I noticed how many of the players thanked god almighty for the opportunity to get paid zillions of dollars to play a game.  Seems pretty reasonable.  They sort of won the lottery, minus the CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and other life long injuries most of the players end up with, but they probably do owe someone a prayer.   Also, there was the Church of Scientolgy Super Bowl ad.  

Anyway, it got me thinking about how I was raised and how I got to my views on religion.

My parents were both Episcopalians.  There is a cathedral, Grace Cathedral, in Topeka and that is where I went to church.  On Sunday’s,  I wasn’t much into church compared to running around, climbing in trees, or riding my bike.

One Sunday morning, maybe when I was around 7 or 8, I think after my parents had a hard partying night, I remember my mom walking out to the front yard where my brother and I were playing and asked if we wanted to go to church anymore.  We thought it was a trick question. We said we were fine just playing and that was the end of it.  It was like getting a continuous summer vacation.

Flash forward a couple more years and it came time I went to confirmation.  There were classes at church, but I didn’t have any interest.  I didn’t memorize the Lord’s Pray and was flunking.

So my mom had a chat with the cannon, who happen to live just down the block.  It seems that they were taking a long family vacation, like over 2 months, and they needed someone to dog sit their golden retriever, Chandler.  So the deal was that we would take care of their dog and I was to be confirmed.  I think there was an implication that I would learn everything about confirmation later on.

I was a kind of ambivalent towards religion up to this point.  This deal was the tipping point.   And throughout life, I realize these “religious deals” happen all the time.  Doesn’t seem like god would approve of personal deal making superseding religious “rules”.

I’m pretty okay with my beliefs.  I say all this, but wear a St. Christopher medal that my mom gave me.  It has the Lord’s Prayer on the back.  And when my pets pass, I pray that their spirits are as free after death as they were when they were alive.

I guess we all use some method to meander our ways through life.  It might not be an organized or recognized religion or anything more than a thought, but whatever you call it, it helps us navigate through this complicated situation of life.

Grace Cathedral in Topeka.

Grace Cathedral in Topeka.

My St. Christopher medal has the Lord's Pray on the back.  Pretty small writing.

My St. Christopher medal has the Lord’s Pray on the back. Pretty small writing.

 

 

Swamis Saturday Ride

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I normally try to hook up and do local rides whenever I am travelling.  I think it is a great way to see old friends and feel the “cycling vibe” of the area.  It is kind of strange, but each and every group ride has a personality of its own.

The Swamis ride ,which meets up in Encinitas California, North County, is one of those rides that has been going on forever.  Like nearly as long as I’ve been racing I think.  For a long time, at least.  I think about any professional cyclist that has trained near San Diego has ridden this group ride.

Yesterday I went to the ride to meet up with my old team mate Ned Overend.  I thought we could get in some easy miles and then catch up afterwards.  I wasn’t expecting nearly a full on race.

I’m not sure if it was because of the weather being unseasonably nice or what, but there was a ton of horsepower out there.  It seemed like every pro in the area, plus every ex-pro showed up. So many guys had either stars and stripes or World stripes on their sleeves it was ridiculous.

I didn’t see Ned at the start, but we met up soon after we started.  Pretty soon we were cruising up the PCH at 30 + mph.   And it didn’t really slow down for a long time.  Not until after the church sprint in Escondido.  I really wasn’t expecting that intensity.  I had done nearly 500 miles in the previous week and was a little pooped.

About 1/2 way through, the group splits into a long ride or short ride.  Ned had some time constraints, plus he just doesn’t ride that far, so we went back to the coast and up to Encinitas.   The majority of guys went for the long route around Lake Wolford.   Ned and I were only in a small group of 6-8, but we were still going super fast back to Solana Beach.

This ride isn’t as hard as the Rocket Ride in Seattle, but it was pretty hard.  At least it was for me being tired and not have done any intensity in over a month.

It was truly amazing how many huge groups of riders I saw riding around North County yesterday.  At least 10 with over 50 riders, a couple of more than 100 I’d guess.  Man, there are a lot of people that ride bikes here.

I’m flying back to the cold Midwest today.  Missing the whole Superbowl, I guess.  Trudi has been dog sitting her sister’s lab in Chicago, plus the new puppy Tucker, so she has been pretty busy.

The Swamis Ride mets at Nytro Bike Shop in Encinitas at 8:10 on Saturday mornings.

The Swamis Ride mets at Nytro Bike Shop in Encinitas at 8:10 on Saturday mornings.

This is Thurlow Rogers, in the blue and Ned, red, riding up the climb in Elfin Forest.

This is Thurlow Rogers, in the blue and Ned, red, riding up the climb in Elfin Forest.

Just one of the huge groups heading down the coast.

Just one of the huge groups heading down the coast.

A really nice day, tons of surfers.

A really nice day, tons of surfers.

Ned at the Panikin after the ride.

Ned at the Panikin after the ride.