Monthly Archives: December 2009

New Year’s Eve

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2009 is nearly done. I can’t say that I miss it particularly. I can’t remember a season that I have been so racked up without running into a stationary object at 60mph. It is weird, because I don’t recall being sick this whole season. Unless you classify MRSA staph as illness. So it is all because of self infliction. Not all self inflicted, but it is the same result. Hurt.

I was diagnosed by a veterinarian at the coffee shop in Hayward that I had bruised my kidneys. Then I was diagnosed by a physician that overheard our conversation and he concurred. All I need now is a dentist and witch doctor to confirm their findings. It doesn’t feel good whatever the reason. I’m kind of hoping bruised kidney and not really, really sore back. It is all bruised, but I’m thinking the kidney might heal quicker than back muscle. I’ve realized that I kind of need my back for most of my daily activities.

Tonight there has been a lot of talk about a sauna “bake off”. The problem is the the thermostat on the sauna cuts the heat off at 192 or so. There is talk of disabling the thermostat, spraying cold water on it, or just putting more water on the rocks. Another problem is that there are two Russian/Eastern Prussian’s with us, so we do have some ringers in the competition. I am pretty good in a sauna. We’ll see how disabled everyone is before the start.

We’re snowshoeing out to a distant cypress ridge in the middle of nowhere at 11 pm tonight. Making a toast under the full/blue moon at midnight with 3 different champagnes to try out. That is different types-natural, extra dry and brut, not three bottles. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

erythroid coloniesWorking on getting the number up to the 220 degree Russian standard.

Working on getting the number up to the 220 degree Russian standard.

One of these people knows how to wax and one doesn't. You decide.

New Yesteryear flashback. This is Abbey Larsen (US Olympic Ski Team Member) putting her body where her mouth is doing 1000 situps straight. Yes, that is 1000 situps.

Albino deer at the Cable Chamber. Unfortunately he was hit by a car and ended up here. His offspring (albino) still wander the streets of Cable though.

Double Birkie Ski

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I woke up at 6am to 6 inches of new snow. If you are not familiar with nordic skiing, that isn’t good for the home team. The new snow crystals have sharp edges that really slow down the conditions. Plus, even if they groom the snow fast, it doesn’t have enough time to set up hard, so it is much harder. I didn’t really care. I didn’t even wax my skis. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever waxed my new Salomon skis.

I know this is blasphemy to a real skier. I understand that having a bunch of wax on skis is important. My problem is that I’ve had the pleasure to ski on really good skis that have been waxed 100’s of times. And those skis are dramatically faster than any skis I’ve ever owned, or ever will own, unless of course, I get some of the used race skis from these guys. It’s just training, so I don’t really care. It’s like riding ‘cross tires on the road. Not a big deal. But, if I’m going to race, I’m just going to go to some of the guys I know up here and get their 3rd fastest skis! Those skis will be 30 seconds a km faster than anything I can do to my skis.

So, 40 or so of us showed up at the Fish Hatchery for a 8 am start. The ski is from Hayward up to the Telemark resort. Eat lunch and then ski back. A little of 90 kilometers total. The only time restraint is daylight. It gets pretty dark by 5 pm. The trail was really soft and not groomed for the first couple km. Then we ran into Chris Campbell on the big groomer and it was much better. Most of the guys have stashed clothing at OO (halfway) and dry clothes at Telemark. I do it self contained. Just some money for lunch. I don’t carry water. I hate having a water bottle in my pocket riding bikes. It is just as bad skiing.

Anyway, nothing special to report the whole day other than I fell about a 1/4 the way up and hurt my back pretty good. I was putting my iPhone back in my pocket on a fast downhill after I had taken some photos and right when I got it into my pocket my skis came out from under me. I landed flat on my back with my phone not laying flat, but perpendicular. By that I mean the narrow side jammed into my lower back when I hit the ground. It totally racked my back. And my thumb. I got up pretty quickly and tried to catch up. The rest of the day, which was 5 more hours of skiing, I was completely seized up. I ate a huge handful of anti-inflammatory pills at lunch. It did nothing but burn a huge whole in my gut. I skied virtually the whole way poling only on my left side. That was when I was poling. I tried to use my poles as little as possible. Whatever. I was kind of worried that I was going to screw up my back long term, but it seems like only muscle injuries, so I’m not stressed.

The best fun of the whole day was a little competition I had going with Lynn Cecil (previous Birkie women’s winner). She started trash talking the night before at dinner. It started again in the morning. But, she chickened out and used her classic skis at the start. But, that was a very bad choice. She had skate skis at OO. On the way back everyone was pretty much on their own. I was skiing with most of the cyclists on the way back. Catherine had started at the North end and was skiing back down. She didn’t want to stop at OO and get all cold and sweaty. My back was tweaked enough that the speed Catherine was going was pretty good for me. About 5km from the end there is a big hill appropriately named Bitch Hill. During the Birkie, there are some dressed up “bitches” at the top. Exaggerated makeup and huge breasts. But, most people aren’t looking up to enjoy the theatrics.

Anyway, I was about half way up Bitch Hill and Tom Schuler shouted to us. Drew Holbrook, Lynn and the gang were there. I was nursing Catherine along, She was pretty much out of juice. When your form leaves you skiing, it isn’t pretty. When our pitiful form leaves us it is out right ugly. I figured we had about a minute lead with 4 km to go. We got over the top and got going pretty good. Catherine is always up for a challenge and got a 2nd wind. She started skiing faster than she had all day.

Drew made a huge effort, but came up short. We cruised into the warming hut victorious. At the Sawmill afterwards, Lynn asked why we didn’t wait up and ski together. She acted like she had forgotten all the, now hollow, challenges. She knew. She was done.

My back is completely seized now. I can’t move. Today is a down day, except for some snow shoeing. The snow is fresh and deep so it is going to take a concerted effort by the group to get a trail constructed. Hopefully, a ton of skiing the next week is in order. My choice of ski is Cable to Hayward. 40km point to point. I’m not much into the out and back thing in cycling or skiing. Plus, it’s always nice to get into the “city” pretty often.

Skiing really is a beautiful motion and the scenery is always great.

I knew it was going to be a long wait to order lunch when all these skis were at Telemark. Many took the big short cut obviously.

This is my favorite part of the drive from Chicago to Cable, the Wisconsin Dells. Great scenery, ugly human contribution.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas

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I love this lamp. It’s a replica of the one from Christmas Story. It’s better in real life.

I ate way too much today. Drank a fair amount too. Ran for the first time in months. Tomorrow might be kind of ugly.

We’re driving up to Cable tomorrow for the Double Birkie Ski on Sunday. I’ve skied an hour or so this year, so 90 something kilometers is going to be a breeze. The running today probably is going to help a ton.

It’s still not too late to participate. Tomorrow night, Saturday, there is a wild game feed at the Sawmill Saloon in Seeley, Wisonsin. Some pretty strange dishes are served up here. Elk might be the perfect pre-ski meal if you’re not a skier and plan to ski 7+ hours. I guess we’ll find out.

Hope everyone is enjoying the time off, except all you guys over in Belgium racing cross. Two local KC guys are over at Belgium Cross camp-Joseph Schmalz and Chris Wallace. I hope you guys are staying warm, healthy and enjoying the experience.

Indoor Riding

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First, I need to state that I despise riding indoors. I avoid it at nearly any cost. That being stated, I have ridden indoors a couple times this year. Back when I was roofing. No light available and no energy to get bundled up. Riding indoors isn’t the same as riding outside. Not even close. I ride the ergometer because I can stand and ride off my seat some to train. This makes it closer to riding outside. I hate watching people lock their gazillion dollar carbon frames into a stationary trainer. Sometimes all winter. Sometimes just warming up for a race. This is not good for your race bike. If you feel the need for this, go out and get a cheap aluminum or steel frame and use it for this purpose.

I have tried about every indoor trainer available on the market. When I was an intermediate (young junior) I started out on rollers. I didn’t have the money for Al Kreitler rollers, even though they were made in Kansas, so I had some Italian brand. I raced roller races every winter for years. From there it was a “squirrel cage trainer”. Nothing good there. When I rode for Schwinn they gave me a Velodyne. It was the first trainer that electronically controlled the resistance. You could put different chips into it to ride different race courses. I sold it to Andy Hampsten for a grand or so. He took it to Europe I think. I had ridden it maybe 4 times. I figured at that rate, I could buy 4 plane tickets to San Diego and train at 75 degrees. During this time, I bought a Tunturi erogometer. Even with everything new out there, I still ride the 25+ year old Tunturi ergometer. I got it at the bike show in the 80’s when Interbike was still in Long Beach. At the time, it was the cheap version of a Monark ergometer. We rode the Monark ergometers at the Olympic Training Center mainly because of Eddie B. Notice, because. Everyone hated ergometer tests. But, Eddie put a huge emphasis on them. One winter he picked a trip to South America exclusively from the results of riding indoors. I eventually became a expert at the tests (and fooling them).

I became an ergometer expert mainly because I spent a whole winter in Grand Forks, North Dakota, at the Human Nutrition Lab. The weather dictated that I ride indoors from November on. Plus, I was doing max and sub maximal VO2 tests weekly. That was over 32 V02 tests, plus all the training. Sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. Can you imagine, riding indoors 3 different times in one day. I must of been crazy.

When I got to the lab, I rode up to 5kp on the V02 test. The Sports Medicine DR. there, Hank, was kind of an ass. Maybe not really an ass, but a know it all about sports science, or so he believed. He would update me on my respiratory quotient and other important numbers in the middle of the test. Vocally predicting when I was going to fatigue. I hated it and decided to prove him wrong.

Riding a max V02 test is very hard mentally. There is no end. Except when you are done. It would be like climbing a hill that gets steeper and steeper and has no top. And, you know there isn’t a top. Anyway, I decided that I was going to ride 30 seconds further every week. That was going to be my ending point. When I did the test, I knew where the “finish” was. So, by the end of the 3 month period I rode nearly 6 minutes longer for the V02 max test than I did when I first arrived. Plus, the resistance was increased every 2 minutes, so I rode all the way thru 7kp, the hardest resistance on the Monark ergometer. It was an enormous amount of power difference.

I did this to prove Hank wrong. The last week in the lab, when I was doing my last test, I asked Hank why I had improved so dramatically on the V02 test. I thought I had him, but no. He already had an answer. It was because my fitness had improved. I didn’t even try to argue. I had flown directly to Grand Forks, N.D. from a stage race in Arkansas. Before that was the Coor’s Classic in Colorado ( nearly 2 weeks long). I was much fitter for bicycle riding when I arrived in September than at Christmas. I hadn’t ridden outside more than a handful of times in two months. But, I was an expert at suffering at ergometer testing. I realized after the process was over was that I had no idea how far or hard I could go riding indoors. It wasn’t the same as suffering outside. So many different feeling to overcome. It took months of riding indoors, day after day to become familiar with the sensations. I had made the mistake early on to try to compare my sensations of riding outside to riding inside. It is a completely different beast.

The day after Christmas I flew to the USOTC (United States Olympic Training Center) to start the season. The time in the lab had finally paid off. The first thing we did was ergometer testing. I aced the test. I had the highest power to weight ratio of any rider there. By far. This got me onto Eddie’s radar screen. It might have been part of the reason I made the spring trip to Europe on the National Team that year. I never have thought of that. But, to this day, I still believe that riding indoors should be considered cross-training and not bike riding. Sorry if you disagree.

Tunturi ergometer. SPD road pedals and all.

Anyone know this stuff?

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A friend, Hudson Luce, brought me this tonight. He had a story that his friend, Laura, from St. Louis, has basset hounds for rabbit hunting. Keisha, the basset hound, who is 12 years old, ruptured a disc in her back and they were going to put her to sleep. Hudson suggested Keisha take this “medication”. Within a couple days, the dog’s tail was wagging and now it can walk around and is frisky. And, there is no downside to that as far as I’m concerned. So, unless I hear something persuading or negative soon, I’m going to start eating the healing, tail wagging/frisky pills. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Back in the saddle

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I hadn’t done a group ride in a while. Like since October. I’ve been busy I guess. Or lazy. Anyway, I went to the bike club holiday party last night and it was decided we were going to go out at 1pm. I was all for it. We were going to ride 3 hours. It seemed kind of far for my liking, but I hate pulling rank when I’m not even thinking about racing.

I hadn’t ridden my road bike for a long time. It seemed pretty foreign. Really foreign. There were 12 of us at the start. Pretty windy. I didn’t come close to pulling the whole way. Maybe not even half the time. It was kind of like racing. Being in the wind was too hard and sitting on was too easy.

Everyone else seemed to be breathing way too hard. I am so out of riding shape that I couldn’t even get winded. I had to ride up every hill out of my saddle. Breathing wasn’t an issue. Skiing a couple days ago seemed more familiar than riding. That is wrong.

So, just a couple more riding days, then Christmas, then skiing the rest of the year.

The official, unofficial Double Birkie is Sunday, December 27th. Meet at the Fish Hatchery at 8 am I think (maybe call Riverbrook 800-297-7687 to make sure). Then ski up to Telemark Resort and back. No problem-It’s not even 100km. That cortisone injection in my shoulder is going to pay off big time that day!!!

See through steel bridge over the Kansas River near Rossville Kansas. It is really long and I love to look down the whole way over. Caution-Dangerous when wet!

Sunsets in Kansas are 2nd to none. I counted 19 contrails in the sky when I took this photo.