Monday, April 30, 2012

Dr's, meetings, guitars, Cadillacs, etc, etc...

I had to get up and get going earlier than normal almost every day this week for various reasons. I had 2 Dr. appointments (one led to another...more later) and an earlier than normal meeting with a rep. When you're as much a creature of habit as I am it's easy to get derailed, but I did manage to get in a pretty solid training week.
 The morning temps are all over the place right now, and as such the winds are all over the place too. I got out Tuesday for some solid TT intervals, but had the dreaded headwind out/tailwind back scenario. I do 4 sets of the ints, so that's 2 head wind and 2 tail. This makes things difficult because the outs are harder than they should be and the backs are easier than they should be (these are cadence based ints, so maintaining "x" cad into the wind is much hard than maintaining the same cadence w/ it at your back) (and the power profile changes a lot). But whatever, that's real world conditions and I got em done.
The TT ints were done in preparation for a 40k TT this weekend. But the temps Sunday morning (these TT's start at 7:30am) were cool enough that doing a 40k in them is not ideal. So I skipped it and went mountain biking w/ some friends from Indy. We had a good MTB ride and pre-rode for an MTB race this weekend. I hadn't initially planned to do this particular MTB race, but I think I will.
To keep true to the title of this post I need to expand on the "Guitar, Cadillacs, Etc, Etc" part of the title: Friday night we went to Indy (Carmel) to see Dwight Yoakam play.

  Our seats were interesting: we were above and behind the band. But they rocked it out and in terms of set-list, acoustics and over sound of the band, it was one of the best shows I've ever been to. I'm not a country music fan, generally speaking, but I 1) really like Dwight and 2) can get into most good "honky-tonk" style country music. It was a a great show.
So as mentioned above, I plan to race the MTB this weekend. And that's about it. There's not a lot going on race-wise in May, so I'm not sure what all I will be doing next month (which starts tomorrow). Then I think I'll mostly be racing MTB and some TT's for the next couple of months. But the few times I've been out on the MTB I've felt pretty good, so maybe I'm due for a good year on the dirt. We'll see... 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Another weeeknd or "road racing" (racing on pavement)

This weekend was the re-scheduled Cereland race in Columbus, IN from last weekend's wash out. I went into this with no real ambition; it's a basically flat 1.4mile loop: not my terrain. The fact is that on course like this just about anyone can sit in. So if you try to get off the front you have, like, 30 fresh guys ready to chase you down. Still though, I figure I really don't have much to loose either, so I'm willing to at least try to get away.
A couple of early attempts were made by various people, but they didn't go anywhere. Then a strong guy form Upland cycling went and knowing he's capable of winning I decided to jump off and join him. We were off for a good 5-6 laps, but it was about 20min into the race and it was just too early for only two people.  
When I left the pack to bridge to this guy there was another strong guy at the front. I motioned for him to come with me but h didn't. I fully believe that if we had at least one, maybe two more more guys in this early move it would have stuck. But that's road racing.

Back in the pack, I used a few laps to recover then waited for the next promising move. I never really came so I figured I'd go with a few laps to go. Speedway Wheelmen had several people in this race, so with 6 or so laps to go we started sending guys off the front for as long as they could stay out, then send another when the first was brought back. With two to go I went and thought for sure someone would go with me. I checked for the position of two guys I know are strong and they were in a good place to jump out with me. But they didn't. So I was solo and was quickly brought back. Getting caught with one lap (~2-3minutes) left is rough because you're inevitably going to get shuffled back at least 10 or so places. So coming to the line (which is slightly uphill) I had to try to find holes through which I could fit to advance. That's not safe and not ideal. I finished 15th. Oh well.   
Lindsay's race unfolded in such a way that she not only found herself on the third step of the podium, but she also got paid. Which bought our food on the way back because I came home empty handed!
This coming weekend is the first 40k time trial of the year. I haven't put in a ton of time on the TT bike, but I think I can go well (enough). TTing in the cold isn't really worth doing (without a stage race following), so if it's cold I probably won't go. But as of now I'm planning on it.
In non-cycling news our TV crapped out on us Sunday. I got the TV we had (a really nice Sony set) for free in probably 2000. When I turned it around to see what might have happened to it I saw the production date sticker on it was from October 1993. I'd say it served it's time and did it well (and cheap for me). So I went and got a new TV. They're all flat screen now. What really blew my mind though (and my back/arms) was how much the old Sony weighs. I bet it weighs ~100lbs. The new 32" flat panel probably weighs less than 20lbs. Crazy. At least I got my strength workout in before I sat around and watched TV for the rest of the day.              

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Heavy weather, cancelled races, reshceduled race, cancelled agian...

...and that was just Saturday.
I planned to race the Indiana Race Series races both days this weekend. Saturday morning I was awoken pre-alarm by loud noises. There are apartments across from our house and sometimes the truck comes and empties the dumpsters rather early. I though that's what the noise was. The flashing light that followed indicated it was a storm though.
I went ahead and got up/got ready to even though the radar was a mess and it was storming pretty heavily. The races appeared to not be taking place according to the internets. After much debate I decided to not waste a trip over, even though I wasn't 100% things were cancelled. It turns out the races were called, but then rescheduled for an hour later. I found out this info with not enough time to get over to Columbus for my start anyway. But shortly after hearing this news I checked the even t website and it simply said "races cancelled." Official word is they ended up having a couple of races (mine included) but cancelling others. If I would have gone, I could have raced. But hey, I didn't know.
Sunday's forecast called for high temps (80's) and windy (30's). The weather man got it right for once. The race was in Mooresville, IN on a park circuit that I've done before, but it's been a couple of years. The race was pretty uneventful overall. There were a couple of teams represented that I expected to be controlling things and making the moves. But there was no real organization. I just kind of hung at the front for most of the race, then attacked with 1lap to go and was swept up with like 30' to go. Finished 9th. In the money, but nothing spectacular. I don't really care for short lap format road racing (crit racing), so I just wanted to get some racing in with no real expectation. It felt really good to be racing again, and to get a few dolla billz for it makes it even better!
The weather this weekend was interesting for sure, but the weather throughout the week was rather 'different' as well. It got cold on us again. I got in some good rides/workouts, but it was in the 30's for a couple of them. I'm still not 100% not-sick, so getting out in the cold like that kind of sucked (it kind of sucks anyway, but when you're all congested it's that much worse). I am feeling MUCH better though. I haven' had to be blowing my nose the passed couple of days and the general head congestion is going away. This will have lasted more than two weeks by the time it's gone. But those are the breaks; honestly I'm just happy to be healthy overall.

Speaking of healthy, while rained out of racing Saturday I instead helped Lindsay w/ her "square foot gardens" she put in our yard. I really didn't do much; I built the boxes and she did all the rest of the work. She got them positioned, filled and planted all in the pouring rain. Should be pretty cool once stuff starts growing. We do have deer in our yard regularly, so I may have to use the skills taken from building these boxes and make myself a tree stand and get a bow. Then I can drink tons of beer and shoot deer. So we will be growing our own veggies and harvesting our own meet (you know, from all the deer I will shoot). I like the occasional steak too, so hopefully a cow or two wander through...and maybe some chickens...

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Down with the sickness

I think I got caught up in the perfect storm to get sick this week. A combo of a big training week the previous week, high allergens and a cold bug going around shut me down.(I googled for a picture of a germ and found the one above. I chose it because it looks like Meat Wad)

My week went like this: Monday I did 30min super easy riding for recovery from the prior days in TN. I wanted to build on the fitness I'd gained in TN (but that was all long sustained effort), so Tuesday I went out for some short, hard intervals. I felt great and killed the session; good sensations. But by late Tuesday afternoon I knew I was getting sick. I hardly slept at all that night and had the sore throat/runny nose/feeling incredibly weak, etc crap happening. Wednesday I was out. No riding, no nothing. If I hadn't just missed 3 days of work, I probably wouldn't have gone in, or at least not stayed all day. But I had stuff to do, and I'm a worker first. Thursday, same. Friday I still wasn't feeling well, but I NEEDED to get out on the bike. I went out for 1hr before work and tried to ride a reasonable pace, but it wasn't happening. It took way too much effort to just push recover pace. Plus I was blowing snot all over myself. Saturday is my normal day off of riding anyway, so I stuck to the plan and worked all day.So Sunday, I just needed to get out for a couple hours with no plan, just ride. I tried to get a couple of people to go with me, but no one could. I wanted someone there to push me a bit, but I went out solo and although I felt pretty much like crap, I had good power.
I am feeling better, though still have a lot of nasal mucous (but I rock the neti pot hardcore) and some head congestion. I plan to race next weekend, so I need to pull it together this week. I'm going to try to do some intervals Tuesday, hopefully I am able to get it done.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, Lindsay and I got a new car this week. We got a Mazda 5. Our Ford Focus was a great car, but getting up there in miles. I knew it was going to need replaced before too long, so I figured we might-as-well just do it now. The 5 is super roomy for cargo. It is a little bigger in all directions than the Focus, which is great for our purposes. I think it's going to be a great bike hauler. It has a little less "people room" than the Ford (smaller seats, less leg room) but I've heard Japanese cars are like this because they're not necessarily designed w/ fat-ass Amerikkkans in mind. I can dig that.

Monday, April 02, 2012

TN 2012 (the "E word?")

The end of last week/this past weekend we took our annual trip to TN for some riding in the mountains. I don't like to go around dropping the word "epic," and while no one occurrence of the trip qualifies as epic, I'm going to go ahead and say the sum of them does.
First things first: I had some good quality riding here in B-town leading up to the trip. I was feeling good and riding well.
As far as the trip goes, I as giving the job of finding a cabin for 5 of us. There are a lot of cabins in the area, but it can be nerve-wrecking trying to find one. I finally fond one that ~seemed~ good online, but you never know what you may be actually getting. It turns out we got a totally plush pad.

So everyone was totally happy with the staying arrangement. Check. One detail the info of the cabin left out was that there was a 28% grade to get to this cabin (yes, it was checked w/ GPS). The loaded car barely made it up; and we were going to have to face it at the end of every ride! (epic addend 1)
Once we got in and got our stuff unpacked, we set out for a smallish ride. We met up with several other team members and made this a a group ride. We rode from the cabins to Cades Cove in the Smokey Mountain National Park. this isn't a particularly hard ride, but it does have a 7mile climb to get into Cades Cove, which is then an 11mile rolling loop. It was a good little ride, nothing epic though. It did start getting dark on us and we have to ride a highway back, so we cut 2miles out of the inner loop to get back before dark.
We had a big ride planned for the first full day. It's a ride I've done a few times before that includes three mountain passes in 80-90miles. Great ride w/ serious climbing. Nothing especially epic there. As you can see from the pics below, it was a great day:
(josh and I going up the Tail of the Dragon [Deals Gap], an 11mile climb w/ 318 curves)

(me descending the dragon)

What these sweet pics don't show is the weather radar. And what it would show was a big storm moving in behind us. Once we had descended the dragon we began the climb back over to where we staying via Happy Valley Road. It's nice and happy in valley, but the end of Happy Valley Road is one of the most feared pitches in the range, affectionately called "sweetie pie." It's a long nasty 26% grade. Well as soon as we turned up "sweetie pie" all hell broke loose: temp dropped, wind picked up, lightning, thunder, pelting rain, etc. As luck(?) would have it there is a Christian camp located right smack on top of the mountain and they let us duck on their huge wrap-around porch to wait out the storm. It was cool to watch the storm pass from so high up, but I didn't want to be sitting around. We took off and finished the ride in hard rain, but no lighting.
(epic addend 2)
We had a get-together at our cabin and everyone came over for beers and pizza. It was a lot of fun, but at one point someone noticed a rodent on the window sill of the kitchen. It was determined to be a flying squirrel due to the excess skin flaps it seemed to have. Luckily we had a veterinarian in staying in our cabin, so she went to exterminating, humanly (with a pizza box and a colander, I would have just chucked it down the garbage disposer).

(Janelle w/ her tools of the trade)
But after everyone left, we found another critter in the same place! I couldn't have been the same one because she put it out front and this window was around back. There may have been a family of these vermin.
(epic addend 3)
For our second "big ride" day we split groups. I wanted to do one of my favorite routes down there, the Homestead loop. This ride has multiple 20%+ grades and one that I think is probably 30%. It's a ride so hard most people from there won't do it, (or so I'm told). I love it. Anywho, I think this ride is generally considered epic on its own, but we encountered an obstacle giving it more "e" points than I could have imagined.
The bridge through the Smoky Mountains Park was out and the workers would not let us cross it (even though we totally could have). So we had to fjord this river to get where we needed to be. It was extremely difficult and not something I would have chosen to do. The water was above the knee and moving fairly fast. And the rocks underneath were completely moss-covered and very slick; footing was difficult. But we had to do it (there's no way we were going to turn around and go back over those climbs). I guess this was our version of a Bjarne Riis combat style character building team camp.
(epic addend 4)
On the final day just Josh and I went out and rode the Cades Cove loop again, but really hard this time. It was a good ride. And a good way to top off some tired/sore legs. We got up to leave at 8am for the ride so we could be on the road by 11 to get home at a good hour (6hr drive). Little did we know what was in store for us on the drive back.
We stopped and ate lunch and shortly after we got going again, traffic was stopped ahead of us. We had been sitting for awhile and I had to pee, so I got out and went over the guard rail into the ditch. Then other people started getting out and next thing we knew we were having a block party on the interstate.
It turns out there was a serious accident about a mile up the road involving 8-9 vehicles and fatalities. We were hanging out, outside of our cars on I75 for 4.5hrs! It was crazy. Again, not something I would choose to do, but a new experience all the same.
(epic addend 5)
So with 5 separate addends of epicness, I think this trip is permitted to use the "E" word. Regardless, it was a ton of fun and I feel stronger for having done what I did (riding and otherwise). Betwixt the rides in TN and the riding I did here prior to leaving I put in over 16hours on the bike last week. That's huge for me. My normal is 8-10hrs, maybe 12hrs on a big week (hey, I work 6 days a week you know). I do feel as though I'll see some gains from this.
So I'll probably do a few circuit-type races the 14th/15th and that ~should~ mark the beginning of 2012 racing for me.
Also for the record: I took three days to write this and it shows in its length. Holy crap this is long; if you made it this far: stand up, stretch your back sit back down and stop reading. It's the end...fucking finally....long-winded MF'er...