Friday, January 30, 2009

Not slow

This is a slow time of year for everyone no doubt. I apologize (to any of you still reading this) for slow turnaround on posts, but let's face it - we're living through one of the worst winters I can remember during what coule be described as "interesting" economic times.

The job is changing - more responsibility, authority, and yet no title or salary change. Isn't that how it always goes? Like most of you though I am thankful that I still have a job to go to.

I took little P to the shop last night at the end of the trainer class. He loved it...after he stopped hiding from everyone. He is sure he can ride a bike "fast, fast, fast!" The sucker that Cory gave him was a hit and ended up at his spot at the table so that he could return to finish it first thing in the morning.

Pulling myself inside out at the trainer classes is both great and absolute torture at the same time. I keep finding new bottoms to the well of pain. I have spent a tlot of time hanging out at threashold lately. If you don't know what threshold is I can only describe it this way - Threshold is that place along the spectrum of athletic effort where you are beyond starting to sweat, beyond holding a conversation, beyond wanting to stop, and at slightly short of total shutdown or immediate puking.

If you don't vurp (vomit/burp) a little after about 5 minutes then you're not going hard enough. If you can talk you're not going hard enough. If you're thinking about what you're going to do when you get home, or the chores left undone...then you're not going hard enough. If you can think coherently then you're not going hard enough.

My stream of semi-conciousness goes something like this:

"Time?......2.......min.....utes..............18....left......18!......18!!........saddle......sore......move.....a little. Wa.....ter......quick!!....pain....of"

If you don't end up questioning why you are doing this then you're not going hard enough. If you don't fear that you won't be able to maintain this for the entire duration of the effort....then you're not going hard enough. I think you get the point. For those using Heartrate my LTHR (Lactate Threshold Heartrate) is currently 178. It hurts.

So far we started out with something like 3 minutes @ threshold done something like 15 times. Then it was 5 minutes repeated 10 times (10x5'). Then it was 10 minutes 6 times (6x10'). Then 4x15'<-that sucked. Then 2X20' on Tuesday.

I get to run the class on Tuesday and we're doing 2x25'. The following is 2x30' then 1x40' - the crown jewel. 40 minutes in a state close to hell on earth. A race. A race against yourself.

...then we "start the hard stuff" to quote our team captain.


FWIW - it does seem kind of weird sometimes to be in a room full of a bunch of guys who are lactating.

Hopefully all this means I will do well in the next instalment of the ABD indoor TT series on Sunday. They lined me up this time with a bunch of cat 4 women. Guess I'll have to beat them all. That or start wearing a skirt. At least my legs aren't shaved yet.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's HAWT.

Cyclists have shaved legs. Most of you know that. Not many really know why though. There are many reasons. Most of them are BS. OK almost all of them are BS. The only ones that get close to a realistic reason are these:
  • It is easier to care for and keep clean wounds if there is no hair.

  • It is more comfortable to receive a massage if you lack hair on your legs. It makes it less of a PITA for the one who is giving you the massage as well.

OK. That's it. Even those are a stretch (when was the last time I got a leg massage after a race).

The pathetic ones are the ones that most non-cyclists think are the reasons for shaving. Highest on that list is "it's because it's more aerodynamic". It's not folks. Well...OK it technically is but by something like a nano-second over a 1,000 mile race. So....yeah, whatever.

So why do racers shave? Simple: to belong. It is well known that you can look around at the start of a cat 4/5 race and pick out the guys who are either new or aren't serious because they have hairy legs. It's like a badge of newbism.

So what does this mean for me? Well, I used to shave as a junior. Mainly because I knew it was supposed to be done. By junior I mean I was 13-14 and shaving my legs. My parents really must have thought I was strange.

I did it for a while even after I was 'outed' in the middle of a class when the kid in front of me shouted to everyone, "OMG! - Psimet shaves his legs! Look! He missed a spot!" I only stopped sometime in high school. Can't really rememebr why. Probably just got sick of doing it.

When I met my wife I was not shaving my legs. I was not racing either. As I got more and more serious with my riding again over the last 5-6 years the topic started coming up on occassion. It was always met with a "no chance."

I have respected her wishes. I really wanted to do it again though. It's hard lining up knowing that everyone just dropped you down a slot because of the hair. It does actually mean a lot to me to have her approval before doing it though.

Joining up with Bicycle Heaven last fall/late summer made the issue surface with new intensity. Now it was about representing what was, in essence, a team with a bit of cache. Who was this POS with hairy legs doing on their team?!! Time to shave.

Something happened and I think Mrs. P finally saw the light. She started relenting on her stance. I also promised to race the rest of the season with hairy legs and keep them through the winter. Well the season is upon us now. The days of hairy legs are coming to an end again. I know it will be a pain in the butt to maintain it so I am dragging my feet....but it is going to happen...

Here's the before - (Taken 2 seasons ago when the issue first started gaining ground)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2009 Chicago Bike Swap

This is the second time I have been to the Chicago bike swap. Last year it was in a smaller venue and was absolutely packed. I went looking for nothing and left with a bike.

This year like everyone else I didn't have the money. I was wanting to go and look for whatever deals I could find, etc. Also I wanted to see how the Bicycle Heaven booth went.

Getting to Harper College we were greated with this line of bike nerds looking for deals

As soon as I paid my money and made it in I heard Ara's voice and made a beeline to the Heaven's booth. I was introduced to "Ed" from SRAM. He's the loacl SRAM rep that helped us put together our team deal through the Grass Roots program. Part of this program involved incorporating our team in the efforts of World Bicycle Relief. Ed Spoke pasionately about it's mission and his hopes that through our involvement we too can become liasons as well as participants in the movement. Take a minute to check out the site. Cool stuff and it makes you think for sure.

The Heaven was there to do some business. Where else could you find deals like these?

Rich is salesman mode. He offloaded some solid stuff he's been storing for a while.

Ara selling a bike. He moved quite a few that day.

Moving around through the booths I found an old set of Scott full tri bars. I had a set like these on my bike towards the end of high school. Honestly they were really comfortable. They either became illegal to use in competition or simply just fell out of style. These are from the "Lance is a triathlete - wtf is the Tour de France?" kind of days.

Here's my old shots of my bike with them on. Hello 1990. We'd like for you to take your hot pink and neon yellow back please. k-thx.

So I went around looking for stuff. I ended up finding the stuff I figured I would find. I got another Bonty setapost. I love these because of the infinite clamp and single side bolt design. It is very adaptable on the road. Easy to get the perfect position. $10 form the Heaven

I then picked up the stem with the right length and angle for my TT bike $5 - Albertos. Then when I thought I was done and redy to head out with CyclingJester and Voldemort from bikeforums I did one more round and found a piile of SPecialized saddles. While digging I found 2 Alias saddle (MSRP around $110 each). They offered both for $80. Well...the cash machine didn't work and I was out so Voldemort lent me the money. I like to say he helped make my ass happy.

The loot (booty if you least as far as the saddles are concerned).

Last week my Formula group buy that I got on for the hubs (back in July - seriously July) finally showed up. Here's a pile of hub joy. Now for some rims, spokes and some customers. Anyone need wheels?

Feel the need to drop this one here too. I had an alien sighting at the ABD indoor TT. He wasn't riding becuase he said "it favors the fat guys" you're saying I have a chance.

In other news I heard that Mission Bay was one of the early victims of the economy. Word has it they stopped paying their bills with all of their suppliers. They had a booth at the swap but it was empty. I don't like seeing that happen to anyone in the business. Especially a shop that had been around and involved like the Bay. I wasn't a fan of them leaving Elgin though because they used to be my local.

Oh well....get out there and spend a few bucks with your local to help ensure they'll be here next year. You know you need some bar tape, a new chain and some tires for next season. Why not get them now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


So I'm sitting here tonight just thinking. I spend a lot of time trying to find ways to describe certain moments in cycling to those striving to join the community. You know those moments that contain crazy amounts of glory/pain/pleasure/passion/excellence/failure of the experience. The moments that keep us coming back.

There's too many to list, but one specific one struck me tonight. I know I've talked about it in my race reports before. It's that moment right before the race starts. You're lined up, a ball of nerves, thinking about 1,000 things.

Who is in the field? Did that guy really wear a pro kit? Is that Super Record? Did I remember to tighten that skewer? Is that the guy who chopped me? Do I have time to go take a dump? Don't go out too hard....don't go out too hard....don't go out too hard. Am I going to blow up again? Is this going to be the best race I have ever had? Can I kick thier asses? I can kick their asses. I can't kick anyone's ass. I'm such an ass.

Then the official gives some sort of speech. "OK Guys this is Cat4/5. You're doing 30 minutes. Lap counter will show minutes until there are 5 to go. Free lap is in effect today. The wheel pit is located over there. Free lap stops with 2 to go. Keep it clean. Ok we'll start in 10 seconds."

Right now. That moment. It's when it dawns on you that you're really in a race and all hell is about to break loose. Pain is about to wash over your body like some sort of velo baptism. I imagine it's the kind of rush people feel just before stepping off the ledge for a bungee jump.

It's this moment that becomes a mix of butterflies and tension when I sometimes experince what I'm getting to. It's a strange calm. A slow breath in. A clearing of the mind. Switching the brain from "think" to "react". It's like a light calm cool breeze blows over your soul - a zephyr. Silence.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I did the ABD TT on Sunday. Highlights...the guy from the race before who was on the station I was assigned to was amazing. He was 80 yrs old and hooked up on the Computrainer giving it a go. He never once wavered - even though he needed help off the bike in the end.

His race was awesome. Unfortunately the side-effect of his effort was that I was stuck sitting behind him for 15-20minutes longer than I should have been. I totally cooled down while all of the guys I was racing against were busy warming up on their stations.

By the time I got mounted in and calibrated I was able to take a few seconds of spinning before the official came to the front and said "slow to under 10mph.....OK" and the screen flashed "3,2,1, GO!"

SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!. It was like a real race - I was cold at the start.

Good thing is that this was only 10k. A sprint by bike standards. I noticed I was laying down some serious power form the start. I looked up and saw I was in 2nd place right off the bat. I slowly degraded - like I knew I would and slipped into third.....and then 4th. I finished in 4th and felt like I had done about 95% of what I could have done.

So....results get posted and I placed 15th out of 28 who took the start in cat 4. That's a little misleading because this is ABR and entry level ABR was Cat 4 until this year so many of those are entry level guys.

So...not feeling stoked, but a better effort than the week before. So Monday I go lift weights. I bumped everything up greatly and dropped the reps. Then tonight I get to the shop to do the trainer class. Rob is leading the class....I had an idea that pain was coming.

He starts spinning and says, "We're doing 3 reps of 10 minutes at threshold. Then we'll take a long break....*wink*...and then do it again". For reference that means we'll be putting out roughly the same power I put out during the TT (which lasted for 16 minutes) over 1 hour.

It sucked. By the end my legs were absolutely empty. I have not felt like this in a long time -if ever. Maybe my moment of despair during the RAIN ride was similar. I just felt empty.

60 minutes at threshold will make you question a lot of stuff. It will take you into the rabbit hole that is your mind. It is exquisite suffering. I am a strange guy. I know that, but weird stuff starts happening to me mentally when I am on the limit like that. My mind starts playing tricks.

In the end I was empty. Shaking kind of empty. Disoriented kind of empty. Wishing I would puke kind of empty. Towards the end my power dropped 100W and I still felt like i was killing myself. The body is a weird place.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

VQ TT #3

Did another indoor TT last Sunday. I was with MJH2, little P, one of MJH2's friends, and another teammate DonI.

The plan was to have those guys race the early race while I watched little P and cheered them on. Cow bell and all. Then we would switch and I would race while they watched little P.

They all had a great race. When we switched I was ready to go, but I was already mentally drained. I was already thinking about the logistics of the return trip, my job, whether little P was acting up, sticking his finger in an electrical outlet, etc.

Needless to say my mind wasn't in it and I knew it. My heart even seemed to not be in it. The course was a stage 4 TT from one of the last Tour de France. It started uphill. Yeah. I don't like hills. That just meant that I would start way too hot and overcook myself.

Less than 5 minutes in I was ready to throw in the towell. I couldn't hit the power numbers I was hitting during the last TT so either something was wrong or I had lost a lot of "form" (physical fitness). I looked up and I was in 1st....which just meant I had to push.

Then I couldn't. I had nothing. I lost position slowly. Next thing I know I was in no-man's land. I wasn't going to lose any more positions and there was no way I was catching anyone. I eased up. I did that for a while. It let me recover for a bit. I even stopped pedaling and "coasted" a few times. Who does that!

Towards the end I got a second wind and laid into it for the last climb. Yay me. Not.

Ended up in 6th place out of 9 in cat 4. Poop.

MJH2 won and was the 2nd fastest man. That performance was the awesome. I have some pictures but they are locked up inside the camera.

So....I felt kind of let down by not giving it my all. It's Jan. I shouldn't give a crap, but I do. Mainly because those kind of efforts really do my body good. So....Monday I hit the gym and ran and lifted weights. Tuesday was 2 hours on the trainer (the suck) including 5x6' THRESHOLD intervals. After that set our Team Captain told us to lay off because we have been doing too much work lately.

Wednesday was running and lifting again (against the Captain's orders). Today I ended up going to the shop to trianer ride again. I just did about 1-1/2hr of recovery spinning (sub 140W). Time for a rest. The next TT is on Sunday. ABD's. Turns out it's only like 15 minutes long. That means it will be intense amounts of pain. Captain said, "Do 115% of threshold for the TT."


.....for 15 minutes....

.....le suck.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Ride

I messed around all New Year's Day trying to get myself to go out for a ride. The roads were basically clear but it was butt-astically cold. Still the thing is as a cyclist you try to be able to say things like, "I went riding on New Year's Day!!"

So I finally geared up and made it out there. I dressed as follows:

  • Long Sleeved Thermal Base Layer (think Under-Armor)
  • Thermal LS Jersey - Heavy Winter Type
  • Pearl Optik wind vest - the best
  • My winter jacket.
  • 2 pairs of tights - 1 that fits correctly and one that is larger but has wind stopper material
  • heavy wool socks
  • booties
  • gloves
  • balaclava
  • wool riding hat

I seem to have left my brain behind, but I definitely had everything else.


The bike ready to go.


Me in the reflection. Best I can do.


Rollin. I got to the end of the road and felt the heavy headwind kick in. It was pummeling me hard. It started to freeze me pretty good too. I figured I would go to the end of the road and turn around. 5 miles is OK right?

Well I got there and decided I should go further.


Desolate frozen corn fields.


Crossing I-90 on Powers rd. The "climb" of the ride.


Road salt everywhere. Man I need to wipe down the rig.


Your's truly. Rollin when you weren't.


Done and cold. Can you tell? It might shape up to be a bad winter, but I am still out riding. I put in just under 20 miles. It was very refreshing mentally too. Hope my competition was busy recovering from hangovers....