Monthly Archives: February 2017

Little Sick, But that’s Okay

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I have feeling like I’m sick for a couple days now.  I’m not sure if it is from flying or from hanging out at doctor’s offices.  Or from something else.  Bill is sick too, so maybe that is the deal.  It is February and it isn’t unexpected.

It has been nice in Kansas weatherwise.  Not today though.  Or yesterday, really.  It was supposed to be 63, but it was only 40 by the time I got out and it dropped from there.  Today the high is 30, windy and a winter mix of precipitation.  Ouch.

I went to a doctor yesterday that specializes in dizziness.  He was good.  His name is Dr. McKnight.  He was a doctor like doctors of old.  Took lots of time to talk to me.  Asked me the right questions, I think, then explained the results of the battery of tests I took.

It gave me hope.  Not really hope, but made me feel more confident in coming out of this TBI (traumatic brain injury) less scathed that could be the case.

I did a lot of balance tests.  Some wearing goggles that recorded my eye movements, and some with complete darkness.  I was pretty stellar when my eyes were open.  In the 98% range, which he said you can’t score any higher because the earth is spinning.   I don’t know about that statement, but I felt pretty stable.

I wasn’t as stable doing the same balancing with no sight.  Only in the 80% range.  Still not bad, but I know I have less balance here than before cracking my skull.

So need to do some vestibulo-ocular reflex exercises to help my brain compensate with the balance issues.  I’m going back on Friday, my birthday, to see his guy that will give me some exercises to do at home to help.

He also said that I have loose crystals in my ear canals still, BPPV, which causes dizziness too. Loose crystals in liquid that throws off equilibrium.  That is a supposed easy fix, but I haven’t had that great of luck with it so far.  He did it again and I guess I’ll see if that worked.

So, that is good.  I haven’t had any dizziness issues recently riding.  Actually, only twice since I have been riding outside, have I even felt anything.  Both times it was just for a second or two and not bad.  That was awhile ago.

I’m going to KU Medical on Monday so see my neurology rehab doctor.  She is great and I am looking forward to seeing her.  I haven’t been there in 6 weeks now.

I am really lucky that I’ve had really good doctors that take time and seem truly interested in my health.  I don’t think that is the norm so much nowadays in medicine.

Anyway, I have a head cold now and feel pretty crummy, but it is sort of funny, because before this head injury, I would have been pretty depressed about being sick.  It is just a flesh wound, not even that, now, compared to what I went through the past 3+ months.  I guess that is one upside to being really bad off for abit.

Tucker has no balance issues. He’ll stay like this forever, or at least until I tell him it is alright to go run.

Release the hounds.

He loves swimming. Even if it is freezing out, if he can find water, he is in it.

He’s an exhibitionist at night, usually.

 

 

Bruyneel – “Lemond – An Asshole”

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Johan Bruyneel did an interview with a Belgian magazine and in that interview, he has some pretty opinionated views.  He said that the detractors of Lance Armstrong are like a “sect”.  Then he goes on and criticises Greg Lemond about his efforts to try to clean up the peloton with his help with discovering mechanical doping.   I don’t get it why he even has a pedestal to speak? What is wrong with the media over there?

Johan goes on to explain how the peloton of old, felt about Greg.  He gives a few comparisons, then just said that he was “an asshole”.

Anyway, wow, that is pretty extreme.  Considering his background, it seems like pot calling the kettle black situation, even if he really believes what he is saying.  I’d bet a lot of people would use that very term to describe him.  But, he is with Lance and not Greg.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Greg.  On and off the bike.  Asshole would never come to mind if I was using an adjective to describe him.

Greg could be a very intense person, like nearly every top-level athlete I’ve ever met.  Greg took the sport pretty seriously and was pretty concentrated when on his bike.  But that doesn’t come close to making him an asshole.

I don’t think that I know anyone that knows Greg personally that would call him an asshole publicly, in print.  I know a few that have called him that in person, but that was in jest normally. Maybe a few times being serious, but that is common in a tight-knit group.

Cycling of old wasn’t the cycling of recent.  Most everyone got along alright and the best riders “showed off” with their legs, not by spewing stuff out of their mouths.  Today, it is amazing how badly riders talk about each other through the media.  And how they say how great they are going.  That is a big red flag in my book.  I never knew how well I was going until after the race was over.

I remember talking to Greg about the 1989 World Championships he won, beating Dimitri Konyshev, of Russia and Sean Kelly, of Ireland.  He said he felt like shit the first 4 hours.  Then the rain or something made him feel better and better.  At the end, he felt unbeatable, which he was.  I doubt a Greg Lemond interview before that race would have been anything but modest.

I like Greg.  We’ve always gotten along and he’s always been nice to me.  He tried to help me in the Junior World Trials, when I first started, and has been nice ever since.  He even tried to buy me some hockey skates.  Maybe he should have made that offer to Johan?

Anyway, Bruyneel doesn’t get to play in our sport for a few more years.  I’m not sure where he is on his 10 year ban?  But for the guy to say that mechanical doping doesn’t exist is insane.  Just because the only “caught” competitor is a women, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t occurred on the men’s side.

Then to call out Greg for having issues with Lance.  That is crazy.  He said – “I do not know what’s wrong with LeMond. It is not normal when you’re so obsessed with Armstrong.” 

Lance made Greg and Kathy’s lives miserable for a very long time.  And when you were on Lance’s bad side, he could be a real “asshole”.  Maybe Johan should have mentioned that?

Greg winning the 1989 World Road Championships. A classic photo.

 

 

Another Birthday

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Today is my birthday.  Another one.  They keep coming in constant procession.  I’m not normally too big on celebrating birthday.  Still aren’t, but this one is a little different, I think.

This head injury deal has made me appreciate life a bit more.  Not that I didn’t appreciate life a lot already.  It is just that when you might have come close to not having it, you tend to pay a bit more attention to it.

I’ve already lived a couple years longer than my father.  When he died, I didn’t really take into account how old he was and how much potential life he had left.  You don’t do that when you are young.  At least I didn’t.  Now is a different deal.

Both my mother and father aren’t alive.  They lived their lives and I didn’t have much control over them.  They were great parents, but rotten on their own preservation.  They aren’t alone in that category.

Maybe I’m not so good at it either.  Maybe I am, I guess I won’t know that for a while.  I do know that I like living and would surely be disappointed if I quit doing that shortly.  But, it is life, and as we all know, we ultimately don’t have all that much control over the endgame of that.

I have a doctor’s appointment in a couple hours.  Guess I’m going to try to retrain my eyes and ears to work together with my brain better some.  Plus, get some more ear crystals to go back to where they belong.  Seems a little weird, but I tend to be more dizzy after I leave the dizzy doctor than before I went.  Maybe it is like getting active release or something.  It might hurt initially, but is good for you in the long run.

I try to ride my age in miles on my birthday.  I had a friend that used to do that running.  He did that until he was around 50, then switched to kilometers.  Anyway, I haven’t done it in a couple years.  I should skip it this year again since I have a bad head cold, but sort of feel like riding.

Catherine is taking half a day off work, plus Bill is feeling a little better from being sick, so we’ll probably just ride over to Lawrence, just some coffee and ride back.  That is the correct mileage. It is supposed to be nearly 70 degrees today and tomorrow.  I’m not sure we’ll make the one mile for every degree temperature winter rule.  Maybe, but maybe not.  It is supposed to be windy and when that is the case here in Kansas, it is pretty windy.  Should be fun either way.

Okay, I didn’t sleep much last night, from coughing most of it.  Think I’ll try to sleep another hour before heading to the doctor.   It is my birthday, I should be able to sleep in.

Nice picture someone made.

And then I got an email with this, early this morning, like last night. Seems appropriate.

 

 

 

Over 1000 miles for the Year

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I know, that isn’t a very impressive title.  A 1000 miles by early February is nothing special.  It is this year, for me, because I am fairly surprised that I’m even riding by now.  A couple months ago I wouldn’t have been surprised if I was still told not to ride my bike outside.  Head trauma isn’t something to mess around with.  I’ve learned that the hard way.

Yesterday, the weather cooperated and a few of us got out for 70 miles.  That is about as far as I can ride now.  I’ve been riding bigger miles, early season, recently, but that isn’t possible as of now.  Plus, I have a chest/head cold thing going on, so it isn’t a great idea pushing it from that perspective

Last night was a trifecta astronomically.  A full moon, a moon eclipse and a comet passing close to the earth.   I guess that is special on a birthday, but I’m not sure what.   I’m into astronomy, so it is cool.

Today it is supposed to be nice too.  In the 60’s.  That isn’t really normal for February in Kansas, but it isn’t that unusual.  It is nice for my working friends to have good weather on the weekends.  This weekend it is exactly that.

Anyway, I’m gonna keep plugging away.  It is a bit frustrating.  Tweaking training isn’t the easiest thing for an older athlete.  I think I’ve done a fairly good job of it my whole life.  But having to change training because of an injury that is super foreign, and quite unknown, is a little more difficult than the normal broken collarbone, etc.

I still hate wearing a helmet.  I guess I need to get a winter helmet and the another one for the warmer weather.  For some reason, unknown to me, when my head gets cold, or just gets hits by cold wind, my head aches.  It sort of feels like it is still fractured, which, I hope, it isn’t.  My helmet is too small to fit even a thin hat under it.   I’m pretty glad it is 1/2 way through winter.  In March, the weather normally gets a lot warmer.

Okay, I’m just babbling.  I feel sorry for all of the cyclists that live in the Northeast.  Big snowfall there that is going to be on the ground for a while.  I guess it is winter still.

This is Amanda Coker. She rides around 1000 miles every four days. She is on schedule to smear the World Record of most miles ridden on a bicycle in one year. Man or woman. Her distance per day and average speeds are incredible.

 

When To Start Racing?

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I’ve always liked to race a bunch.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe training becomes mundane or something, but that isn’t it.  I guess I figure that if I’m riding enough, why not test myself through races.  Races are never the same.  Races nearly always create a small life experience. Plus racing has been the only way for me to get to a higher level of form, which is always sort of a goal.

So I’ve raced a lot.  I might be the first guy to really race year round.  Cross Nationals used to be towards the end of December and the first road races would be the end of January or early February, so there wasn’t much time for an off season.  Not that I wanted one.  I like the lifestyle and routine.

That was back when the European pros used to take a few months off over the winter and then try to ride a little before heading to Sicily to race into shape.  And by racing into shape I mean riding long races really slow.  No one showed up in shape, they just rode into form.

We’d used Tour of Texas for the same thing.  I remember heading down to Texas one year with maybe 400 miles on my legs.  I was in no shape to race.  I think that was the first year of “the new” 7-11 team.  Those guys had been down there riding big miles for a few weeks.

They were pretty much in race shape and the rest of us were in off-season form.  It was ugly.  The first road race I got into a break with 5 guys from 7-11, me and Thurlow Rogers.  I was dying in a sidewind, hardly able to pull, but knowing if I didn’t they would just gutter ride me off the back.  There was a final corner, maybe 5 miles from the finish, and then it was going to be strong tailwind.

I had that corner as a goal.  Just make it to the tailwind, where I could rest.  We turned the corner and probably less than a mile later I was dropped, riding by myself. The thing with strong tailwind is that you don’t get much relief from drafting.  And I needed relief.  I couldn’t believe I was dropped in tailwind, but I was young and naive then.

The best thing about Tour of Texas is that Richard Degarmo, the promoter, knew it was a good place to train and the races were set up around the training, sort of.  It sometimes lasted over a month and we’d race on the weekends, sometimes a midweek training criterium, and then train the rest of the week.

After a month in Texas, we’d all be up to race form.  It was really easy to slay riders that didn’t have the ability to flee the weather early season.  It started the season off on a good note.

Now it is way different.  Many, many riders have the ability to flee the weather.  Or they have moved somewhere that has good weather all year round.  Or their teams are doing training camps that allow their riders to get early season form.

I got thinking about this for a couple reasons.  I was riding in Sand Diego with Robin Carpenter, Holowesko/Citadel Cycling Team.   He said that their first race would be at Joe Martin.  That surprised the shit out of me.  We were riding in January and he wasn’t going to be racing until nearly April.  That is pretty late in the season considering guys have been racing since early January.

Plus it got me thinking when I was a junior, I probably didn’t even think of riding outside until the end of February.  That was back when winter was really winter.  For some reason, that is great for riding, horrible for the planet, winter isn’t really winter anymore in Eastern Kansas.  I would first start riding in a down coat, with tennis warm-up bottoms tucked into my socks, so they didn’t catch in my chainrings.

That’s not the case now.  Yesterday it was nearly 70 again.  Today is going to be closer to 50, but still alright.  Early season here the problem is wind.   It can be crazy windy.  That is the cast today.  It is supposed to be blowing over 30 all day.  That isn’t good for lack of form.

We’ve got a gravel ride planned.  That is a way to avoid wind some, since many of the gravel roads, especially east are sheltered some.  Still, it is gonna be ugly.

I was in a race in Iowa, a few years ago, and in a break with my team mate, Bill Stolte and two other guys.  We were going pretty well and after an hour or so, one of the guys asks me if he can sit out a few pulls.  He tells me that it is the first time he has ridden outside that year.   I said to do whatever you need. The other guy says that it is the first time he had ridden in shorts. That amazed me.  It was late April.  Bill and I had already raced at least 10 races, hanging out in Austin for a least a month.  They both were going pretty well, considering.  We did drop them a little while later, but we had better form.

Okay, if you don’t have the ability to ride outside, don’t stress.  Trainers are better and there are races all year round.  Eventually form comes.  Just wait for it.  Don’t let the internet, showing all the results, from throughout the world, freak you out.  Just enjoy.

The women’s race at Tour of Texas had the best women from throughout the World.

 

 

 

Busy Weekend, then Busy Monday

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Yesterday I received a text from Brian (Jensen).  Showed him on a podium.  Brian had told him he was going to do a race in Colorado on Sunday, but I had sort of forgotten.  It was from a gravel race in Lyons, called Old Man Winter, I think.  It was really an adventure weekend with a couple bike course, 50 and 100km, then a run.

Anyway, Brian looked like he had a good race, finishing 3rd.  He said that he lost the leader, 1st and 2nd on an icy section and never saw them again.  Still, I rode with Brian just a little over a month ago and he wasn’t in typical Brian shape, so he must have either been training pretty hard the last few weeks or suffered like a dog.  He has both those arrows in his quiver.  I had it was the first, not the later, for his sake.

Seemed like a pretty good field.  I only know the guys that finished behind Brian.  Matt Stephens, the guy whole beat Lance in Texas a couple weeks ago in a 100 mile gravel race was 5th and Alex Howes, a Pro on the Cannondale-Drapac team was 6th. Those places were close, so Brian must have dropped them before the finish.  Or was getting swallowed and barely made it.  Either way, he had a great race.

I wrote that post yesterday about not worrying about not training so early, then I see the results of a race that a team-mate is in and feel badly about not going.  But, I know, I can’t just yet.

I’m heading to Kansas City to go to KU Med today to see my rehab neurologist.  I haven’t seen her in a few weeks, so that will be good.  I am much better, or at least better, than the last time I saw her.  It is an hour there, so it takes most of the day.

On the way, I’m going by Garmin and see if the guys at their “Genius Bar” can help me with my Garmin.  It is a mess and I’m getting a little tired of it.  I plan to leave it there and come back by and pick it up after the doctor’s appointment, if possible.

Plus I have an Apple appointment for my iPhone, so it is going to be a busy afternoon.

I rode 100km yesterday, just not at the pace those guys did in Lyons.  It was only around 50, which felt cold, but I’ve been cold for months.  It was pretty windy, like over 30, so that was the main issue.  We rode on gravel.  A couple friends rode over from Lawrence and we rode them back.   They were going good, like race good.  It was nice seeing how I’m supposed to be riding, even if I can’t.

I had 330 miles last week, so that isn’t too bad for February in Kansas.  Plus, I feel a little better, but am still sick.  Not crazy horrible, but sick, none-the-less.

So this year I’ve ridden 1157 miles. I figure I’ve drafted about 20 of those miles, so the rest has been in the wind.  And the wind is always here this time of the year.  I’m a little beat and haven’t even gotten close to getting race fit.  It might take a while this year.  It would be nice riding in a group and getting in some easier miles.

Okay, I need to get going.  I have so stuff to do before driving.

The podium from Colorado yesterday.

 

Elizabeth Elhers

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Sue’s mother passed away last week.  It was expected, but unexpected at the same time, as all deaths are.

I’ve known Sue’s parents most of my adult life.  I met them at the time when, even if you were riding on a Pro team, you were transient and were constantly moving from other rider’s parent’s homes to other places.  That is how I happened upon them.

During the Tour of Texas, Sue and her parents would have a gaggle of riders over to their house for a huge dinner.  They were both from Minnesota, but have moved to Richardson, a suburb of Dallas, back in the 60’s.  It always amazed me how they could feed so many ravenous cyclists, during a race.

Eventually, I would stay with them whenever I was passing through Dallas.  I signed my contract with the Schwinn team, with Mike Farrell, in their house, after the Tour of Texas.  That really doesn’t seem that long ago, even though it was.

Anyway, I got to know both Sue’s mom and dad pretty well through the years.  Sue’s dad used to always ask me what I was going to do when I got done racing.  He was always concerned that I wasn’t going to college and that I was living a fairly unconventional lifestyle.  I told him that I wasn’t sure, but I loved what I was doing and was planning on doing it for a while longer.

Sue’s father got sick with prostate cancer.  I came through pretty often during that time.  One night, late, he wasn’t comfortable and was sleeping in the TV room, in a lounge chair.  I must have just raced, because I was up and couldn’t sleep.

He said to me that he wanted to apologize, which totally got me nervous.  I had no idea what he wanted to say.

He told me that he’d been thinking a lot, since he’d been sick and was pretty frustrated about having to lay around and do nothing, but watch TV.  But watching TV had got him thinking about what was important to him.  He didn’t say he had regrets, but he’d seen lots of things that he wish he could do in person.

He said he wanted to go to Home Depot and buy a bunch of tools and build something big.  He said that he’d seen places on travel channels that he didn’t even know existed and would love to get on a plane and fly there.  Everywhere.

He finally just told me he was sorry for giving me shit all the past years about not applying myself and just racing bikes.  He told me that I should gather all the life experiences I could, when I had the ability, because you never know when you’re not going to be able to do that.

It was a very special conversation for me.  I was living that way already, but not from a plan, just because.

Sue’s mom was stoic.  She worked as a nurse, then came home and worked in her yard.  I remember pulling up to her house, in the middle of the Texas summer, when the night temperature is nearly still in the nineties, and she would be mowing her yard.  This is when she was in her 70’s and still working as a nurse.

She was super generous, always cooking me cookies to travel with, or buying dinner when we went out.  Her and Sue travelled a bunch, so it wasn’t like she just stayed at home.  And she loved animals.  That is a pretty big deal, in my book, when judging a person.

Her service is today, at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, at 10am.  I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for yesterday, and this was all sort of last minute, but I wish I would have just cancelled that and went down.   I’m not big on these things, but this is different.

Anyway, I’m very glad to have known Elizabeth Ehlers.  She was a great person and super mother.  She lived a very full life and will be missed by many.  I’ll miss our conversations.

Elizabeth Louise Ehlers

She loved this gaslamp on her alley. I fixed it many times.