Tuesday, November 12, 2013
My relations are okay, flooding in Manila and the province are alright, to my knowledge. If you have a couple bucks to spare, it will help. I'd suggest specifying "100% of donation to direct aid", but that's just me. Our small dudes gave, it's never too early to teach character and empathy for others. Send a prayer, if so inclined, it would be appreciated.
Catholic Relief Services
Brother's Brother Foundation
Monday, September 23, 2013
“Cycling is the rare sport in which accomplishment is truly personal - we judge ourselves against ourselves. How fast can I make it there and back? Will this modification drop those few necessary seconds from my next time trial? Can I finally climb that 11-percent-grade fire road without walking?...As cyclists, when we are not pushing ourselves, we are expanding ourselves-exploring a new trail, finding the most scenic ride to work…and for some, cycling is a spiritual experience or a rolling, cathartic meditation. The comforting rhythms of each pedal stroke combined with the familiar feel of the pavement or dirt beneath the wheels puts a rider at ease and reacquaints him with his surroundings and, to a greater extent, himself.”- Erich Schweikher, Cycling’s Greatest Misadventures
I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for weeks. I’ve found it hard to motivate myself to sit down for an extended period in front of the computer when during the week, I’m sitting down for extended periods in front of the computer.
I had been waiting for the proper weather window for a couple of months. Watching, for a day where the radar looked fairly clear, and that would afford me the best opportunity for success. The plan, to ride from my door in Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle and back home. Out and back, me, my bike, and the trail.
I was motivated after an open invitation to participate in a training ride for some local folks who were going to do the same ride as a warm up training ride for their attempt to ride a tandem from Pittsburgh to DC in 24 hours. Hardcore, eh?
Didn’t work out that I could ride with them, but my attitude is if I have to wait for someone else to do it, why not make the attempt, myself?
On August 24, 2013, I went for it. Started at 7AM, it was cool and clear. I made the projection of being able to sustain an average of 15mph the whole ride, pack a little more than 2 liters of water and ample supplies of Clif bars and Gu, figured I could knock it out in 10, maybe 11 hours.
Sometimes, you have to plan conservatively. I found that I was able to sustain the projected 15mph…for the first three hours. Average speed decreased steadily after that. There was never a danger of the bonk. I kept fueling, kept hydrating. The cals kept burning, I kept fueling…stuff started tasting bad, body started demanding more substantial food.
No cell service for the whole ride down. Concerning? Yes. Kept hammering, mile after mile. Hit some patches where I spent a lot of time not seeing anyone on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) with me. Started to see things in the forest, like tree trunks where your mind interprets them as people. “Oh, that’s not good.” I said, aloud.
Traveled along the Youghiogheny, saw the river gradually get faster,
saw increasing numbers of rafters and kayakers, knew I was getting closer.
Little things that irritate you on a 20 mile ride, gradually develop into big things. Knees and joints started hurting, saddle started to be PITA, a literal PITA.
Ran out of water in my bottles and the 2 liter bladder I had maybe five miles out. Started seeing more day hikers, short range cyclists. Got desperate, saw a group of riders on single speed cruisers, stopped to ask them how much further to Ohiopyle. The one lady looked shocked, and said, looking me up and down, “With all that getup, you should get there quickly, not much farther.” My response, “I dunno about that, I’m on my last legs.”
Nothing to do but push forward. The sight of that bridge over the river, the people playing on the rocks, the Red Cross helo flying drills over the river and town. Beautiful. Another cyclist saw me taking a selfie, offered to shoot one for me, and congratulated me on embarking on my first century. I told him, “Getting down here wasn’t a major problem, but getting back…now that should be interesting.”
I looked around for a fueling station, i.e. restaurant, and stumbled across Paddlers Pizza. I guess they had only been open a couple of weeks, and I went hard. Huge Stromboli, 2 huge slices of New York Style pizza, and an ice cream. I think they were surprised when I said, “No need to pack any of it up, I’m going to take care of it here.” They were kind enough to replenish my bladder. I was a little over 70 miles in. Good place, recommended.
It was hard to motivate myself to get back in the saddle. Took approximately 6 hours to get down there, I expected that it would take a lot longer to get home.
“The thing is that usually the journey to a place is so long and difficult that when you arrive, the idea has changed in your head. When you are there, it isn’t the same obstacle as when you left home. It doesn’t scare you anymore. It is not the same mountain. Basically, by going up the mountain, the mountain always gets smaller. That is the thing. The journey up the mountain makes the mountain smaller.” – Baltasar Kormakur
Message came through on my phone, wife thought I might have turned off my phone, tried to let her know I was still alive while I had signal, and noted I’d be back a wee bit later than originally anticipated.
Kept moving, playing leapfrog with some other cyclists who I would pass, then would pass me, as we each took breaks along the trail.
Knees were hurting bad, at this point, and I realized that a few weeks prior, I had been pulling Mr. Tiny on the Trail-a-bike and hadn’t been particularly detailed when reinserting my seatpost. Saddle was slightly low, and nose was angled slightly left. Not good, and now it had become a larger problem.
Watched the sun cross the sky and gradually start to sink below the horizon…wife called, said she was still out with the boys, where was I, and did I need a pickup? This was 8PM. I told her, “I would’ve accepted a sag at 5, no lie.”
We made the arrangement for me to make for McKeesport, 17 miles out from my starting point, but I was out of water, hungry, and having trouble with my joints. I had crossed the century line a while before, there wasn’t anything left to prove to myself. I believe that I could’ve made the last 17 miles, but it would’ve been a long hard slog. Final mileage and ride data: 138.34 miles; 10:24:00 ride time; 13.29 mph average speed; 34.71 mph max speed; Spark people tracker projected calorie burn 6040
The next day, I had trouble walking. I was playing a game of good cop/bad cop with Tiger Balm Red and my foam roller. Noted that I had started to rip seams in the chamois of my baggies, and my new mtb shoes weren’t so new anymore and were in need of some Shoe Goop treatment for seams that were giving out.
Backpack was trustworthy, but carrying gear on your back on a higher mileage ride was less than ideal, though I made the tradeoff knowing that I wanted to take the faster cyclocross rig.
My paradigm has changed, the creatine experiment has been interesting and I knew there would be a weight penalty for increased strength. The effect on my century ride was acceptable. I was probably 15 lbs over my low, and since I’m not focusing on XC racing, I’m not worried about it. Increased water retention, I’m only taking it when I lift, typically 2 times a week. I’ve changed my tracking counter from weight to monthly fitness minutes. I’m okay with that, I have nothing to prove.
Now, time to seek out the next personal goal. Never stop pursuing your goals, the every day journey makes that which initially seemed unreachable, within the realm of possibility.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Participated in my 1st spin class today. It was...interesting. Was dripping sweat by the end of the 37 minute session, seemed like it could be potentially useful regarding increased power generation. The intervals were more like race conditions, rather than riding "in the wild" so to speak, because I don't typically get close to redlining out in the field unless racing, or possibly when mountain biking. Good tool to add to the repertoire.
I've wanted to go bike camping for a while now, and over the weekend, DW and I scheduled it and hoped for a favorable weather window. Watched the hourly weather forecast, temps, etc. Made the final decision to go for it last minute because there was a forecast of 30% rain and there were reports of some downed trees and a minor landslide on a section of the Great Allegheny Passage that we would be traversing, but reports were that it was being cleared and would be cleared by the time we passed through.
We went for it. Cloudy on the way down, re-purposed the kids bike trailer to carry gear, and started the ride down. I ended up underestimating the distance, I estimated 12 miles down, plus or minus a couple. Ended up being 18.6 miles one way. Mr. Tiny didn't let me forget it, either. They were troopers, though. We traveled alongside the Youghiogheny River, through forest, past towns and abandoned mines, old graveyards.
Took several hours, but when we got to camp, it was awesome. They had bike racks at the campsites for through riders/campers and had raised platforms to pitch your tent on. Very flat and nice. We got the fire going and the hot dogs/fresh corn/smores dinner was some good recovery food.
The small dudes had a fun time playing in camp and the tent with their flashlights, watching the campfire, and observing the lightning bugs.
I've never seen so many lightning bugs in one place. The campsite was lit up like a dance floor, with thousands of flashing micro stars surrounding us. The moon was out, so it was this surreal nightscape.
Mr. Tiny and Big Boy slept like rocks, which was surprising, considering the fact that I hadn't planned on the Great Allegheny Passage having a live railroad on the other side of the river. Makes sense considering the trail itself is rail trail, but man, was it loud.
Life is an adventure, we have the opportunities to make memories while pushing our limits and extending outside our comfort zones.
Life is short, pursue a life worth living with zeal!
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Today's soundtrack www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zNSgSzhBfM
I've been lax at updating the blog, but in this instance, it's a good thing. It's indicative of fairly good weather, and opportunities to discover and take advantage of.
A few days ago, we went on our first family ride of a newly finished segment of the Great Allegheny Passage.
The DW typically stayed with Mr. Tiny who was keeping an easy pace while I let Big Boy ride lead and followed behind. Mr. Tiny had it in his head that he wanted to bring his stuffed blue elephant. Luckily for him, we thought it would be a good opportunity on a hot day to test out their hydration packs, so Tiny's blue elephant came with. 13.4 mile ride, out and back.
Shopping for a new rig for Big Boy has become a priority. We saw that he was spinning out his gear on a regular basis and when he felt like it, he could spin up to around a 15-16 mph sprint. The assessment is that he's ready for gears and hand brakes.
Additionally, when he and Tiny were riding around, he showed me he could drift. He'd lock up his coaster brake, lean into it, start drifting, then release so his wheel could spin and be off. Going to have to look for something like an aluminum 6-7 speed, he is probably ready to try singletrack at this point.
Big Boy and Tiny are riding the same 16 inch rigs, and Tiny, ever the fearless one, decided he would try jumping off curbs before I could give him some pointers. He just saw Big Boy do it, and went for it. He has control and surprised me because I was having trouble convincing him at the beginning of the season to even try riding his 12 inch bike (as opposed to his Strider balance bike) and somehow he decided he would try the 16 and he had no problems with it, rode like a champ, and "got" it, though sometimes, out of habit he'll still drag his feet to slow down, instead of engaging his coaster brake.
Here are some pics from that ride.
P.S. We ride single file on the right, this pic was Big Boy and I passing Tiny and the DW, it just turned out well with all of the fam (sans me) in the pic.
Today was Get Outdoors Day, so we went to a state park about an hour away and had the opportunity to do stuff with the kiddos like a Bike rodeo (skills sessions), kayak, fish, and the boys tried archery and fly fishing casting. Great time.
Found some creatine monohydrate on sale at the store and picked it up. I had been playing with the idea of experimenting to see what, if any, effect it would have on my training to increase fast twitch power (and allegedly aid in quicker recovery). I chose not to load, but just use it prior to and after lifting sessions. Saw the expected slight increase in water weight, but seems to have helped with amount of reps and weight I'm able to do. We'll see. I did the research on Mayo online and for the prescribed usage, I'll see if it assists with my goals. If not, no harm, no foul.
Hope you're all having great success with your goals!
Don't forget to prioritize sleep as an element of your programs!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Today's soundtrack: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OURc_W6SlKA
I have been remiss regarding blogging, but I'll endeavor to update today. The last several weeks have been busy. With the end of school year coming up, there have been multiple loose ends to tie up. That said, progress on the health/fitness element has been mixed.
Cycling mileage has been generally up, but most of that has been small utility rides. Weather has been odd (unseasonably cold in the evenings), so I've been choosing to strength train in lieu of night rides.
I was disappointed when the weather didn't cooperate with my 200K attempt. I tried contacting the folks running the ride and didn't hear back, which of course, prompted me to say, "Forget this, I'll do it myself with or without other riders." The day of, a big front spun in, and I watched the weather radar compulsively until around 9PM the night before, deciding to call it. Upon reflection, it was probably a good idea, even though I didn't feel great about it, because there were reports of hail further south and downed trees. A useful object lesson in regards to the perception of control and permitting uncontrollable variables to discourage oneself.
I've been working on the schedule w/ DW to create another launch window, per se, so it's going to happen. The attempt, as least. There have been interesting developments regarding the increased weight training load (weird appetite changes, a notable increase in the ability to generate explosive power for hill climbs, quick sprints/acceleration), so it's been helpful. I went to the community center on the day I was scheduled for the long ride, and just went as hard as I could. Did a circuit of weight machines, too, which I typically avoid.
DW noted that she was told by one of the trainers which specific machines provided training that free weights could not.
I did a bunch of those, including leg press, lat pulldown, back extensions, etc. DOMS hit, I recovered and feel stronger, I think I'll keep up with it on my hard lifting days at the center.
I've been able to get a lot of recreational and utility rides w/ Mr. Tiny & Big Boy. I found the practical application of shoulder press (which I initially thought had limited utility and application for me) when I portaged our bikes up and down some city steps that access the Three Rivers Heritage trail. Mental note, shoulder presses useful for cyclocross type bike shouldering.
We rode to see the bald eagle nest at the end of one trail, and Mr. Tiny surprised me yesterday when he was able to pilot his Trek Jet 16. Huh, shouldn't underestimate these small dudes, and will have to look for a 20 inch, 6 speed with hand v-brakes for Big Boy now, it seems.
What is riding, to me?
It's experiences like riding through a shower of cherry blossoms shaken loose by the wind.
This segment from Grave of the Fireflies gives one the sense of what it was like.
It's riding on the side of a hill at night, looking down hundreds of feet below at a long snaking line of headlights, gridlock, and stop and go traffic on the parkway. Riding through a new development at night that is yet uninhabited, so it's eerie and gives one the sense of the post-apocalyptic, with only the odd lighted window where perhaps a construction worker is staying late to do some finishing work.
It's teaching and sharing the experience of riding with small people.
Look back on when you started your journey. It's not only our health that has changed, but our very outlook and perception. We are not the same as when we began, and the work we've invested is worthwhile.
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