Doing it all the hard way...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Coffee and Lies #9

Ready to roll !!
Big John (shown above) and I worked the Frostbite TT yesterday. Although this is a shot of John doing that race back in 2009 he is just as handsome in 2013.

The weather cooperated and I was able to take my "summer" bike on the weekly team ride.  As the usual suspects gathered I noted this was kind of an all star ride. These were all fast guys.  Brad wasn't on his 650B slow bike and that was a tip off. Seabiscuit was on his Ti racer, McWoodie was on a Ti and carbon speed machine. Michael was on his carbon bike as was Moonlight when we hooked up on the island.  Aaron joined us after chasing us all the way down from the hill and he is always ready to roll.

We assembled after crossing to the island and paused for a moment while riders removed layers and I downed some Hammer gel. Hammer gel will be my caloric intake of choice during my 2013 road racing debut next week, so I thought I would make sure my body could accept it without incident.

I have learned by sad experience that if I lag at the start my options are to work extra hard when the break happens or start thinking autobus right from the start. I was on Moonlight's (Fred's) wheel and there were a few moments of friendliness before Seabiscuit started driving off the front. Moonlight and McWoodie shook their heads, paused and then we all jumped to close the gap.  Soon we were moving fast and I took a healthy pull. When I dropped back I was surprised to find that despite our serious speed, all seven riders were still together.

After a couple rotations we hit the hill and the false flat of death. I was second wheel and at the top I was still second wheel and McWoodie who lives to make me scream on that section of Mercer took to the front and drove the pace. I held my ground and we were soon swooping back and forth on the endless S Curves.  I let a small gap form and was struggling to close it. About that time Big John (a.k.a. Seabiscuit) dropped back and I let him fill the gap and I was hanging on as there were now only four of us flying along.  My left calf was twitching as if I had a cramp coming, but I used my powers of denial and kept pedaling.

We were still tight as the sprints opened up and Fred went left, McWoodie up the middle and Seabiscuit, who had been taking the last pull was on the right. I was just damn happy to be there and since we were already going almost fifty kilometers per hour, it took all I had to just stay upright.

On the way back I kept it real and soon it was time for coffee and lies.

Feral Dave was waiting for us at the cafe and had a table ready.  I had been asking about him two hours earlier as he is usually a faithful member of our band of merry men on Sunday mornings.  I had not seen him for several weeks and was wondering what he was up to.  It was good to see him again.  We weren't seated next to each other so we didn't get as much of a chance to catch up as I would have liked.  We did exchange a moment of eye contact when we asked how each other were doing that reminded me that our band of brothers really does care how each other is doing.

While it is fun to try and go fast on a bike, not only are there more important things than bike riding, there are in fact few things less important than going fast on a bike.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A stripe of light to the east

I've got my suitcase. Do you have yours?
Tuesday morning was supposed to be wet. I looked outside and the temp was in the thirties but the ground was dry.  I made coffee and put on what my mother refers to as my "costume" in preparation for the ride. She still refers to my team rides as a "practice." God love her.....

Hottie was off the the gym and I rolled out quietly under dark skies.  As my eyes adjusted the wind was whistling past my partially covered ears.  As my legs warmed up my breathing settled into a familiar rhythm and I was enjoying the ride.

A cloudy sky hid the stars I knew were above my head.  After rounding a corner I saw the cloud cover ended dozens of miles to the east. Beyond the clouds twilight was reaching earlier in the morning that it had for some months.

This is usually a time of year when I smile as I note the sun is setting later.  This year my realization came in the morning end of the equation.

The rest of the ride I kept looking east.  The sliver of light never flashed orange or red, it remained a pale grey.  Riding to work I get to see many beautiful sunrises.  This grey sunrise wasn't the prettiest, but it still generated a big smile on Evo's face.  Winter is getting old.  Change is coming....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Coffee and Lies #8

Hottie and Evo sharing a dry winter ride !!
After commuting to and from on Thursday and spinning on Friday I went with Seabiscuit for an 85k ride on Saturday.  We left early and were dressed for rain. We went pretty hard and it stayed dry.  When we were on our homeward stretch John commented that the ride was plenty for him, "if not a little too strenuous." I asked him to repeat it because I considered it such high praise from the unflappable warhorse that is Seabiscuit.

With tired legs Evo headed out for the Sunday rendezvous with the team.  The peloton was small and Evo was feeling the four rides over the previous three days.  When Moonlight met us on Mercer I knew McWoodie had his riding companion and I could drift back without shame.

We regrouped on the way back and it stayed pretty social. I threw in a short sprint on an uphill near the end just to mix things up.
Our numbers were down to three when it came time for coffee.  We talked of past rides and longed for the days when we could discuss fingerless gloves instead of favorite shoe covers and the preferred liner gloves.  We did agree forty three degrees is a ton better than thirty three degrees.  We are seeing the days getting longer and the cold isn't as painful as it was a short time ago.  We know winter will yield to spring, but we all want it now.  The seasons teach us patience and about the time one learns the lesson the weather changes and the cycle starts anew.

I need some intervals and intensity but I am getting in the k's.  Hottie poked her head in the garage about two thirty and asked if I wanted to go with her for a short ride.  In a few minutes tires were pumped and we were out enjoying a Sunday afternoon ride together.  In four days I had commuted in the dark and the light, suffered through spin class and ridden long with a friend and longish with my team.  My favorite ride is with my Hottie and it was a nice way to end a weekend.

I'm still looking forward to warmer weather.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Coffee and Lies #7

This is how you measure the high water mark in Louisville...

The Ride

At this phase of the season I am using the Sunday team ride as a hard day. For the first time this year Sunday was forecast to be dry. These two tidbits led me to bring out my fast bike for the gentlemen's throw down we call the Sunday Hank Ride.

As we gathered to our great surprise Tom "the cheetah" rolled up. Tom had surgery less than two weeks ago and we expected that he might take more time off after having SURGERY ON HIS SPINE!! We were, however, glad to see he was healing well. He was moving his head freely whereas before he had a posture as if he was wearing his jersey with the clothes hanger still in it.

Eight hearty souls rolled down Capital Hill and we picked up two more before the throw down commenced. The "every man for himself." portion usually starts off casually and gradually ramps up so riders drop off typically twenty to sixty percent of the way around Mercer Island. Less than one minute in Seabiscuit took to the front and kept going. Only three of us caught on and the selection was made.

McWoodie and Seabiscuit took long pulls with Moonlight and Evo taking shorter pulls. I didn't dare look at my cycle computer as I expected that if I saw my heart rate was as high as I thought it was, I would have reason to back off. I kept lying to myself saying, "just one more corner" and hung on to the base of the big hill. I held on and then McWoodie drove the false flat as he always does and I hate him for it. I was still in the mix and took only a short pull as I was dropped post false flat two weeks ago. We kept going fast...

I was third wheel as we came to the sprint but since I was cooked and "just glad to be here" I gave only a half hearted effort. I finished a happy fourth and after we turned around it was quite a while before the balance of our band of merry men came up the road.

The return took the typical format of a gradual ramp up shedding riders one at a time and once again I looked to find we were only four of us. I gladly soaked up compliments from McWoodie and Seabiscuit on riding hard. I had ridden hard and was glad someone noticed.

Coffee and Lies

We all were sincerely glad to have Tom back in our midst. He was almost giddy over the joy of riding. While some of us were focused on trivial things like going fast, it reminded us of how lucky we are to be able to ride. Of course we engaged in the usual banter about clothing and components, but we were mindful of the reality that such items are absolutely unimportant.

Later on Sunday under unique circumstances I found myself at a laundromat. I could not recall how many decades it has been since I was in a laundromat, suffice to say, it had been many, many years.

As I looked at the patrons I expected to see people I would, in my judgmental way, view in a certain light. Maybe owing to my station in life as a parent and grandparent I am perhaps softer than I had been previously.

A man came in pulling a large wheeled suitcase with one hand while the other hand held that of a small girl about four years of age. It was apparent they had walked a good distance to the laundromat. He zipped open the suitcase revealing a heap of dirty clothes and he commenced a routine that I could tell he had done many times before. He measured out detergent and drew a roll of quarters from a compartment of the suitcase. The girl sat on a washing machine waiting patiently for him to complete his task. Soon the machines were washing and the father and daughter were reading a book.

When my errand was complete i packed up and left. I could not help but think of how lucky I am to have a nice home, a sweet wife, children who generally like me and more bikes than I deserve. I haven't been hungry except when I am trying to slim down. I am all for personal responsibility, but I also know sometimes people need a lucky break, or a little help. This can be a tough world for some people. I wish you all a good 2013.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Suck it up

We are fostering a greyhound and she has quite the personalty..

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reporting live from Worlds !!

Amazing experience.

Hours after being crowned the Women's world champion, Miss Vos wanted nothing more than to hang with the guys from 20/20 Fuel..

Evo answering questions about being a dope. Not to be confused with doping questions..