Life can include a lot of things — IF you keep the routine simple. And IF you stick to the routine. Otherwise, you throw the whole plan out of kilter. Here it is: Wake up, drink water and workout, eat breakfast, work for 10 hours with a working lunch; workout again, then eat dinner and sleep for 8 hours. Repeat daily except for Friday when there is no after work workout. Saturday and Sunday include longer rides and more food (yeah).
Weekends are different – especially in the winter. Winter training is slower – or at least it is in Base Period I. We start early (8AM no matter what the temp) and usually ride at a ‘winter pace’ or basically what we call LSD. LSD, long steady distance, marks the onset of training for the coming year. The philosophy of going slower to get faster (later) is difficult for most people to understand – and even more difficult to “do.” The philosophy of training every day is difficult for most people to understand. But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post – and hopefully inspiration for a few of thousands of people who read this blog every week – that’s it really about finding time to do the work.
I’m all about finding the time – or more accurately stated – I’m all about making the time.
Inevitably, the race season starts. Funny thing, you cannot get ready for a racing season in six weeks. It takes 20 weeks. T W E N T Y W E E K S. Either you’re up for it or you’re not. You can ride fewer months and fewer miles … and get by. You can procrastinate or avoid harsh weather days, and enjoy a mediocre year … treating races as faster training rides.
You can leverage exceptional talent or physical ability – if you have it – and be competitive with less training. For me, I have to rely on a structured program to succeed. I possess average talent, and while I’m very fit, I do not possess exceptional VO2 capacity (it’s 62) nor a high max heart rate (it’s 182). My strengths – I’m blessed with being naturally skinny, and tons of determination and self-discipline.
To answer the question, I work at it every day. Every single day.
Some 40-ish miles from my house is the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. Yes, it’s a sweet ride. Mostly it’s up and down. The trip traverses the Foothills Parkway (my personal sanctuary) and a good chunk of the Dragon (Highway 129).
I’m uncertain as to the total climbing elevation, but it’s more than most riders are willing to endure on a Sunday training ride (ha). At 4:40 total time, I burned 2,900 calories and was ‘dun’ when I arrived home. Along the way I reminded myself that I completed a one-hour weight workout at 6:30AM earlier in the day (double ha). “Ah” … that meant I could eat a dozen cookies after dinner.
Road signs along the way included the 12% grade which meant that I was going just as fast as the motorcycles … down hill. In fact, I passed two motorcycles going downhill this trip. All I got was thumbs up when they passed me on the next uphill. Ok then, why do I ride? … because …
Not long after 7:30 AM on Saturday under the “red kite” of the Tour de Cure, Knoxville, Tennessee, the ride master (Ben Bass) released the group.
Other than my friend Tony, I didn’t know any of the guys in the lead group (or whatever you want to call the folks who roll out first during these types of rides), but I did know we were in for a hot and long day in the saddle. Somewhere about mile 1 I looked back to see if we had 30 or so riders ready for a smooth first 50 but there were 5 of us. Literally there were no other riders in sight.
Ok then. With a police escort we made a right turn onto a road that was ‘somewhere.’ I say ‘somewhere’ because I didn’t review the cue sheet nor the topo map – nothing. I knew two things: a) follow the orange markers and b) when we completed the route it would be 100 miles.
I asked the riders around me if we could just sit up and wait. Everyone agreed that it would be best. Little did we know that waiting meant we’d be waiting a lot. Not that any of us cared about waiting — we’ve all been in the same position where other riders are waiting on us. So it’s not a big deal. Thank goodness a couple of the guys that came up were willing to work a bit at the front – making the ride a tad easier for those of us who would eventually haul the group around the route.
In the early miles I snapped a couple of photos – but then as it warmed up (a lot) I focused more on hydration, gel paks and watching the road.
Short version of the story: both Tony and I turned around twice to go back and haul some guys back into the group, and when it happened a third time we kept moving. The first rest break was at mile 30-something. Typically we don’t stop until mile 70 – but we opted to break – briefly. We repeated this process three more times. The wind picked up and we enjoyed several miles at what seemed to be walking speeds. When we crossed mile 50-ish, Tony, Matt and me pushed onward and left the other guys behind. I appreciated my climbing legs as I left Matt and Tony behind repeatedly on every climb. In Kingston we had to stop at a traffic light and the air was stifling hot. Blah. We rolled on and stopped at mile 87 for a much needed water break. At mile 91 I was toast. Once again I led the climbs and thought about ‘getting away’ but told Tony and Matt that we would finish together. We did. Without the stops it was just over 5 hours. Sounds slow until I recount all the rollers and the climbs and sharp turns that required cautious speeds.
Ben Bass promised food at the end – and there was AMPLE food, cold drinks and a tasty little music group that created a wonderful atmosphere of relaxation. I was so amazed by the way it was organized – by the friendliness of everyone and the endless water supply. After three plates of food I felt bloated. All I wanted was a cold shower.
Big kudos to the entire ADA team for such a successful event – and for making the ride safe.
We’ll be back next year.
When my relatives ask me why I get up so early, purchase the ‘right’ kind of shoes for cycling, eat so much, drink so little alcohol, or jostle me about “riding a bicycle” so darn much – I just look at this photo (taken in late October of this year on the Dragon). What I see amazes even me. As I did yesterday, the day before, and the day before that – I shall ride oneth. Peace.
Isn’t that reason enough? If nuns are keeping fit – pedaling for St. Peter – then why not you? I know that applies to me. One might conclude riding a bike is prayerful in its own right. Umm? Maybe my 4.5 hours on Sunday were closer to a religious experience than I originally thought, and the induced meditation was full of enlightenment. Please continue riding onward with thoughtful prayers my friends.
When riding a bunch of miles every day, food doesn’t stick to your ribs, arms or any other body part. Cyclists who ride lots of hours per week typically consume freely – - at breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time and late night when the ice cream calls. The more hours you ride, the more you can (and must) eat. (My grocery bill yesterday was $209 – which included a 12-pak of Sam and a 6-pack of SN – but still, that’s for a week of grub-a-dub.)
On average, my daily intake is roughly six to seven thousand calories; more on Saturdays and Sundays (yeah). Each meal averages 1,500 (without dessert) along with two snacks and on-the-bike gels, beverages and such. After lunch I usually include chocolate (dark) on my list of consumed goodies. After dinner I eat several oatmeal cookies made by the BGE (very good). The point? Cyclists would rather eat to ride rather than ride to eat.
This past week someone sent me a photo of a nasty crash involving a professional cyclist getting crunched under a car. Naturally I had seen the photo, but wasn’t about to blog it in a post. Why? It only reiterates the painful side of riding. There wasn’t humor in it – nor anything that felt good. It reminded me of my own wreck where a mo-fo driver elected to run a stop sign, run me down and then drive away. Neither the photo nor my accident were positive.
The photo of the day today captures the spirit of why I ride … and why so many kids ride bicycles … because it’s freeing and a lot of fun. When you ride it requires your entire being to move forward – your mind, your vision, your legs, torso, arms — everything. In doing so you connect with the world around you and because you’re moving slower than in a car, you see more of the world. For those that haven’t ridden in a while – get out your bike, ride it somewhere and then take a gut check about how you feel. Go get an Icee and enjoy the summer. Ride on.
It’s here – at last. Bike PORN Friday’s. Looking ahead the theme for Friday is Bike PORN. What is Bike PORN? Well, it’s an “affinitas” for bike related bling to include bike gear, threads, trick-gadgets, cuties at races, and certainly bikes. Just go with the header and you’ve got the news – today is a “Bike PORN” day. Enjoy.
Have you noticed how windy it’s been this year? Sometime in early to mid-February the wind started blowing and it hasn’t stopped since. The wind seems to be blowing pretty hard most every day now. Typically it’s a March thing (in like a lion and out like a lamb).
The wind is a training aid – a catalyst to propel an average rider into a better-than-average rider. When pushing into the wind you mimic the motion of being on the front. You replicate the motion of being on a TT bike pushing hard on the gears. It stresses your legs and your spirit to endure and to appreciate the calm days – or the protection of the peloton. Either way, I appreciate the wind. Especially when it’s at your back. Sail on.
Take a look at this photo – do you see what’s really going on with the riders? The untrained eye would not notice the significant effort nor appreciate the energy required to move “at speed.” When the casual observer sees a race, the typical thought bubble above his or her head is something along the lines of …”I can do that – it’s just riding a bicycle.” Some folks feel (and think aloud), “maybe I should ride my bike – or even race. Sure, I’ll give it a try.” Careful though – don’t be fooled into believing it’s easy to move fast – continuously and for long periods of time. It takes years of training to get there — if at all.
If you care to stress your heart, your body, your entire being – a bicycle is worthy of riding. It gives as much as you give – and then some. Ride because you love the bike and ride because you know it will extend life as we know it. Ride on.
Sounds funny doesn’t it? Life and breathing go hand in hand. If you ride, run, swim, play basketball or any sport you eventually breathe a little harder. Sometimes much harder. For me it is an overt reminder how dependent we are our lungs to bring in fresh oxygen – to create energy and propel us forward. I ride because I want to breathe a little harder and hopefully a little longer in this lifetime. Ride on.
When the starter says “go” you know in your gut that at some point during the race you’re going to be tested. It may not be at the beginning of the race, but it does occur. Usually when you least expect it.
When training, especially in a group, you make a choice of when to test and when not to test. Group rides offer each individual multiple opportunities to push limits and test the body. Gauging your efforts against others helps satisfies the need to confirm ‘where you are or where you are not.’
On the other hand, testing your limits while training alone is what many riders call the benchmark of commitment. The absence of competitors (in a race) or fellow riders (in a group) make it much more difficult for the average cyclist to test their body. Frankly, it’s harder to “push yourself” when it’s not race-specific or group oriented. I ride because I look forward to all three forms of testing.
The energy that is conserved by following is tremendous. Some researchers indicate 30% or greater. My take on the real number is this: how hard is the pace??!! There are times when following saves 0% energy because the tempo is FAST. Riding a bike allows you to follow – or lead. You can lead when you’re not on the front – you can lead in the middle of the peloton. How? By riding safely – by watching out for other riders – by thinking. Lead or follow – riding your bike gives you lots of opportunity for both.
When I look around my garage at multiple bicycles I see kewl stuff. Flashy wheels, carbon fiber, unique forks, unique shocks, interesting lighting systems, more carbon, and slick bags for extra wheel sets. No matter how you ride, you take pride in your gear. It’s root is the bike store – the birth place of all that is kewl with cycling.
When a cyclist enters a bike store we revert back to kid-status and begin drooling at the sights, sounds and smells of new bikes and the gear. A visit to the bike store forges a bond between your need for going further, faster and easier and your wallet. I visit my bike shop, ETO, three or four days per week. Some people call it church, I call it nourishment for the soul.
All it takes is a little plastic explosive called “VISA” and you’re rolling on a new set of ZIPP wheels. Or riding a “Focus” track frameset. Sometimes it might be as simple as a new set of rubber. The reasons for riding are endless – and one of which most riders will espouse is “kewl equipment.” Ride. On.
Today’s photos are HOT. Look at the carbon. It spells F-A-S-T. Look at the designs. You might find them in a Victoria Secret catalog one day. Looking …
Ever ponder what happened to our overall commitment to physical fitness? I do. There have been so many times in my life where I felt like a backslider – a lazy mo-fo who wasn’t careful about consumption. Within the last three years I’ve given my life to a crazy pastime called cycling.
I spend countless hours during the winter months riding and working out at the gym to improve my fitness level – and at a minimum maintain what I’ve built. Many a day I ponder, “why am I doing this? All my friends are out doing fun things, soaking up adventure in a 1,000 ways.” Then my brain snaps into the future with the clear picture of what a race might be like when I’m unprepared, physically unfit or worse – I’m out of shape. Period.
I ride because so many “others” do not. I ride because it’s all about the bike. About seeing the world from something other than a TV or a car – or the internet. I suggest that we continue riding on.
English Mountain Challenge. The short version is this: it’s about 110 miles with lots of climbing, scary descents, gravel in odd places, cars that DO NOT want you on “their” roads, 22% grades of climbing around the 87 mile-marker, more hills, lots of wind and at the end, pizza. Go figure. We pay $40 bucks for a ride with a cheap tee shirt and pizza at the end.
Were we supposed to obtain something “good” out of this? Much like the Tour de Blount and the Smokey Mountain Wheelman’s “Fall Century” the overall ride value is MI$$ing. Look at the dwindling numbers in each event.
Summary of the event: there were a few “bike Nazi’s” at the beginning … riders who “thought” they were in a race. Can someone explain this to me???? Especially one fellow in a Liquigas pro kit. LOL (many times over). What’s up with riders who wear pro kits???? They obviously don’t realize how pathetic they look.
Mr. “Liquigas” rides off the front about a mile from the start. It was hilarious – seriously. Somewhere at mile 5 we settled into our pace … and passed the “pro” rider. HA. After the first climb and scary descent I looked around and there were 7 of us total. No one else was in eye sight and I strained looking back on several long stretches of road.
In the lead group — ahh — mo-fo “Adam” had it in his brain we were supposed to ride 110 miles at or near race-pace. At one point the punk mo-fo who was leading the painful pace on our “ride” had daggers aimed at his back. Somewhere at mile-marker 40, four of us sat up and said (collectively) – “we’ve had enough. IT’S A RIDE – NOT A RACE.”
Ok – Ok. So we pulled our collective attitudes together and pacelined back to the three guys in front and stayed with them until English Mountain. At which point I sat up and did the sensible thing – I rode easy.
There is NO money to be earned at the finish line. And NO NOTHING to be earned by making the ride (emphasis “ride”) more painful than required.
Three of us rode the last 15 miles together – with the punk mo-fo leading his own brigade, followed by another loner – followed by a pair – followed by three of us who said, “20mph is enough when the wind is blowing 20mph.”
We completed 109.46 miles in 5:38 with two stops along the way. At the end I drank 3 Cokes and ate three pieces of pizza followed by two bottles of water and Chick-Fil-a sandwich and another bottle of water. Two hours later I ate a ham-wrap and cheese with more Cytomax. I finally peed about 2 hours later. I have no idea how much we climbed – I’m guessing it was over 6,000 feet but I’ll check on the total this week. EMC – ride. on.
So many hills, so many dogs, so many horses and so many folks sputtering along the rural roads of our neck of the woods. Yes, I ride because of the hills, to avoid dogs (when possible), watch the horses and pass sputterers. I ride because there are so many miles to cover – so many roads.
Think about how many people who would love to ride a bike. Think about it for a moment. I think about it everyday. With many friends in the disability community, it’s so very easy to be reminded of why I ride: because so many cannot. When I’m around a friend with a visual impairment or a mobility impairment, my heart reaches out to say – “if only.” It’s the very reason I don’t talk about bicycle racing nor riding – unless they bring it up. Then and only then do I discuss it. And when I do talk about my “hobby” I am sharing the experience in a heart-felt genuine way. So – if you can ride – get on the bike and ride … on.
The “century” mark — a hundred miles — is for many cyclists a huge barometer of their commitment to riding a bicycle. Whatever. 100 miles via a camel is a commitment to insanity. 100 miles via a bike is “a ride.” Last Saturday I completed another century with some 200+ riders. With several thousand feet of climbing, I completed the 100 miles in under 5 hours. Only 10 of us did that. 100 miles is an accomplishment. Time to set a new bar: 150 in a day — and later this year it shall be done. Ride – and ride a long way.