Sunday, July 24, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I remember the sunshine....
Back in April, my name was drawn in the lottery and the ride is next Thursday. Six training days left. Climbing is all about strength to weight. Since there isn’t enough time to get any stronger, I’m trying to lose weight. Hank on my cycling team was also among those picked to ride. We had planned two big training rides, one was on the Fourth of July and that was fun. The other was set for last Sunday and we delayed the start of the ride by having a cup of coffee and waiting for the rain to let up. The rain kept coming and completely washed away our resolve. After an hour in the corner coffee shop, we bagged it.
After the ride on the forth I had a great week of eating light and training heavy, but it was a lousy week for sleep. On Friday afternoon, I felt my body going to war. Headache, warm, throat getting dry; this isn’t good I thought to myself. The battle was on and I lost. I missed a solid week. Then the rain last Sunday capped it. I resumed just this Monday. I hit the weights yesterday and tried to keep the same weights (pounds) and just do fewer reps. My quads are absolutely screaming.
DEUCE OF SPADES
My old Single speed ride has been reborn as my commuter bike. I put a Cane Creek Drop-V lever on the left side of my Cross racing rig and pulled the SRAM shifter and put it on the commuter. Now it is a two speed bike. It is as black as the ace of spades, but because it is a two speed it is the Deuce of Spades. Big fat tires, fenders, a rack, and more lights than a Christmas tree.
Monday, July 11, 2011
These riders aren't striking a pose to look good, they are trying to minimize the pain.
Graham Watson is full of crap. The pretty pictures we have in our minds of the riders going through fields of sunflowers is a lie. It is my belief that a more appropriate image would be that of a rat in a cage on a treadmill chasing a piece of cheese. Really good French cheese, but cheese none the less.
Last year we attended two stages of the Tour of California. There were bike riders to be sure. The riders were squeezed in between motorcycles and cars and vans in a procession that was nothing short of ridiculous.
In 1984 I happened to be working for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee when the Israeli athletes arrived for the Olympic Games. They closed down the freeway and the bus had a humongous escort that included US Army Huey helicopters flying overhead with doors open and trigger happy soldiers manning the Gatling guns who were whispering to themselves something to the effect of “make my day.” Since I am digressing I will say it made me proud to be an American and proud that we support Israel. The escort these riders get, while very different, is equally as impressive and/or ridiculous.
As we watch the TDF we forget that every picture comes from a camera on a motorcycle, or a helicopter, or some other unnatural object that is intruding on the riders. Yesterday I watched an official TDF car hit a rider at 40mph and two cyclists went down hard. One hit the pavement, the other landed on a barbed wire fence.
A bike racer shouldn't have to look between his legs and take inventory before continuing..
The commentators said it was unprecedented. I could only believe it was inevitable considering the narrow roads and aggressive nature of the whole spectacle. In the world that is professional cycling in 2011 there are so many players with so much money and so much power it seems as if the ones who have been squeezed out are the cyclists.
I must confess that I laugh when I see the tape of Chris Horner after completing the stage as he is the absolute definition of “dazed and confused.” “Did I finish?...I don’t understand, do I have a bruise?...did I finish? He asks in a sincere tone, his questions repeating in an endless loop.
While we fancy ourselves as discerning fans, we behave as if we are attending an event at a Roman Coliseum. We cheer as they carry off the fallen, only to then turn our attention to the survivors. While we would believe that cycling is bigger than any one rider, is it so big that the riders don’t matter.
I follow cycling enough to know the riders by sight. When I see the riders broken and bloodied it bothers me. I will admit I don’t like Vino and Alberto, but watching Vino break his femur as he flew into, and over, a guardrail makes even the most cynical Evo feel sympathy. Images of Jens, DZ, Levi, VDV, Chris Horner and others with broken bones reminds me this is a high stakes sport.
When a baseball player (like Ken Griffy) or a soccer player (like Steve Zakuani) breaks a bone in competition it is often front page news. In cycling, where theoretically there is no contact between contestants, it happens every day and nobody blinks.
The amazing thing is if you don’t crash, you just ride your bike until your body screams and you see who can suffer the most and then you find out who is a fraction of a percent better.
These guys are warriors. I just hope the battle is worth it.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I'm going to put my finger in my mouth and blow until my hair stands straight up.
Hottie and I had been debating for a couple of days where to ride on Saturday morning. When the day dawned as promising as we had wished it would, Hottie felt emboldened and suggested we take off from our driveway and go around Lake Washington. That would be 56 miles and a 2,500’ of climbing. We rolled out and the warm sun felt good on my bare arms. After an endless winter of full fingered gloves; my fingertips almost caressed the bar tape as I rode.
Construction on the Burke Gilman trail made our ride an "adventure."
Hottie climbed with ease and soon we were in Kirkland where people on wide surfboards were sweeping the lake.
We rolled through downtown Bellevue on our journey.
Hey, is that Rainier in the distance ?
We stopped and ate bars and topped off our bottles.
With forty miles behind us, we stopped for a treat before the final climb up from the lake.
Hottie was tired afterwards, but not debilitated. She is well on her way to a great summer of riding.
Sunday dawned grey and cooler and I did the usual morning ride with my team. Initially I felt no after effects from the four hours in the saddle the day before, but on the later part of the ride my legs told me it would be really smart to just back off a bit. Sensing that my legs would win any ensuing argument, I relented and backed off. Dave F was happy to join me, and we had ourselves a small groupetto.
My mum and Kyson (Kyson is on the right)
A little birthday celebration for Hottie's sister
Last week, Hank had proposed a RAMROD training ride for the 4th and it seemed like a great idea.
Two guys who should know better...
Soon we were underway and we were in the shade riding on the western side of a long, high ridge. Although the climb was steady the cool air kept our temperature down. Views of Mt. Rainier to our right got better with each mile. I watched my Garmin tick off the elevation and in little time we were turning at Cayuse and heading up to Chinook. We had passed some riders on the way up who were going really, really slow.
The short section from Cayuse to Chinook had snow piled up on both sides of the road, and the retaining walls were made of granite blocks the size of microwave ovens. The sky was a deep blue and the bright sunshine made the snow look like it had just fallen. The whole scene had a Disney castle feel to it.
Evo is going to Mt. Rainier..
The snow was thiiiiis deep....
Riding in the sunshine we could peel off arm warmers and bask in the beautiful views in every direction. The air was clean and crisp, so we were neither hot nor cold.
The grade was steady, but our enthusiasm kept our legs spinning as we took in the setting.
Does this snow make me look fat ?
We stopped near the top and snapped some pictures and soon we donned our arm warmers and began the rapid descent back to the Sunrise turn off.
Organic bike racks !!
The twelve miles of climbing had gotten us used to a slower cadence and the eight mile descent gave us a chance to spin out our legs.
After passing the toll booth, we began the gradual climb from 3,100’. With little perceived effort I noticed the terrain dropping off to our right and our views to the valley floor just got better and better. At first the valley was a hundred feet below, and then it was a thousand feet as the road bobbed back and forth. The sunshine felt good and I unzipped my jersey to keep cool. The grade lessened and I picked up my pace. I was in a rhythm and not suffering at all. My legs could feel the miles and elevation of the long weekend, so I wasn’t about to sprint out of the saddle, but I felt surprisingly strong. The road has three major switchbacks with the last one being at 6,100’, only 300 feet below the parking lot at Sunrise. There is a turnout with a viewpoint at this final switchback and it was populated with people snapping pictures of the view we had been enjoying for a couple miles. From this point we had 360 degree views and we paused to take it all in.
The final mile or two was a victory lap and we enjoyed it as we began licking our lips thinking about getting some real food.
We made it !
We each had a deli sandwich and cold drink. It felt good to relax. We had almost twenty miles to go back to the car, but the fact that the car was 3,800 feet lower than where we were sitting meant the trip down would be an easy roll.
Dressed for the descent...
We put on all the clothing we had and braced for a chilly descent. The road surface was rough with chip seal, but there were few potholes or other potentially catastrophic impediments. We were soon leapfrogging each other. We saw a handful of riders struggling to climb uphill as we flew down at thirty-five miles an hour. When we saw a bear on the side of the road we grabbed a handful of brake and I captured it in digital format.
That is a bear !
We continued to slalom the turns, only occasionally braking, and whooping as we went. After finally reaching the valley floor we enjoyed the short climb back to highway 410 as it warmed us up. Four more quick miles and we sprinted (at least what we old men will call a sprint) for the park boundary of a huge log across the road. I came around Hank and he sped up. Neither of us could be sure who won, but it was probably better that way.
A cooked Hank..