Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Coffee and Lies # 205 Saturation action and reaction

Our winter has been unusually slow in arriving this year.  Most years you can calibrate your calendars because the first good frost hits Seattle on Halloween evening.  We are past Thanksgiving and we still haven’t had ice in the morning.

I am not complaining. In fact, this supports my winter training goal of not breaking any ribs. It has allowed some riding without yet having to dress like I am a scuba diver.  On a recent Coffee and Lies ride we faced rain and temperatures below 10C (50F for you old school laggards).

With the exception of Big John most of us were underdressed.  The rain went from light to heavy and the mild temperatures were our saving grace.  We were in the early stages of hypothermia but all was good and it looked like everything would be okay until one of our clan flatted. 
 Sooner or later we all get a chance to be "the guy with the flat tire"
Moonlight Burnside displayed either kindness or impatience and took charge and made quick work of the tube replacement.  In less than five minutes we were rolling again.  The problem was that those five minutes of inactivity, in the rain, were enough to get way behind the hypothermia power curve.

Before the flat tire triggered the stop my socks were wet.  My feet were still warm, but they were wet. After we stopped they were still wet but now they were cold. Water that had soaked into the Lycra that wrapped my shins was likewise chilled now.
El Chefe’ commented that his gloves had become useless bags of cold water. When we came to a short climb I refused to get out of the saddle for fear the rain would wet my saddle and then get my chamois wet.  Since my chamois was the only thing below my waist that was dry I stayed seated and just downshifted.

Though I knew hard pedaling would warm me up I was still inclined to hold my steady pace.  I’ve seldom done a good job at really taking it easy for an extended period and I am somewhat determined to keep the rest of 2016 Z1-2, Z3 max…..

Finally I settled in with Big John and El Jefe’ and we just platooned back. John remarked that we the three of us formed a grupetto that had a cumulative nineteen feet of handsome and we didn’t argue.  Flattery is rare at my age.
 Hey, we're ALL good looking.....
The prospect of hot coffee kept us smiling and soon we were getting close. There is a shortcut that takes a more direct route but involves a crazy steep climb. Nineteen feet of awesome turned sharply south and wrestled up the hill.  As a result of the climb when we rolled up to Fuel for our post-ride cup of Joe we were finally warm.

When I stood up after sharing coffee and lies there was a puddle below my chair and my wet gloves left a ghost print of dampness on the table.  I felt like one of the fabled soggy bottom boys.
After putting a towel on the driver’s seat I left the hill and returned home and spent a good long time enjoying a hot shower.  

A week later we assembled to do it again.  Predictably, this time we were dressed for battle. Some wore better, some wore thicker and others simply wore more layers to protect them from the elements. I was reminded of a ride in the spring of 2012 when Hank, who had missed the previous week’s ride looked us up and down and commented, “Man, it must have been really wet last week.” If you are going to have a reaction it might as well be an overreaction.

In the true spirit of the off season our jaunt around the island was a refreshingly leisurely-paced affair. We chatted and savored our man time.  Maintaining a modicum of movement through the dark days of winter will allow us to resume in earnest in the New Year without the awkwardness of having to get reacquainted with our saddles.

The seventeen months of 2016

In August of 2015 I was pulled into a critical project that was six months behind schedule with a targeted completion of September 2016. I spent the rest of 2015 working critical path issues tied to 2016 dates.  I became so focused on 2016 that it felt odd to write 2015. 
 Cold rides in early 2016....
When the calendar actually turned to 2016 I was engaged in building up my training focusing on two key dates.  The first was our east coast trip for Zach’s graduation and visiting family and the second was our Dolomite trip.  I had objectives to have accumulate a certain number of kilometers of riding before each.
After the Dolomites trip I kept riding bigly knowing I had the Winthrop Fondo looming on the horizon.  That Fondo and Cyclocross kept me doing intervals through the end of the summer. Football started, baseball ended and still I rode on. Check the schedule and follow the plan.
 Fondo till you die!
The traditional road racing season starts with the spring classics in March and ends when the leaves start to fall.  This results in a few months of buildup and five months of events. Cyclocross racers tend to start later and race into December. Because of the trips my training start lined up with road racers so I began logging miles in December of 2015 and extended all the way into November of this year.  The longer than usual training combined with my professional 2016 starting a few months early made this year feel super long.

The Woodland Park cross race has historically marked the end of my season and that was true again this year.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.  The point is, I’m done for 2016 and it feels like 2016 has already been sixteen months long.

After so many months of purposeful training the freedom to follow my whims is a treat.  I don’t want to imply that all my rides have been hard, or were less than fun but they were all part of a plan.  Plans have a purpose and fun along the way isn’t the plan. After a while you start to feel like a slave to the plan and crave freedom.
I’ve ridden over eight thousand kilometers since January 1st but I am not concerned with what my annual total will be.  I also have well over a hundred thousand meters of climbing but there is no need to get into the details even if they are awesome. The work is done and this is the time to relax and refresh.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Coffee and Lies # 203 Various Implements of Destruction

In this era of political disillusionment and propaganda overload many of us are seeking a new, or at least different, reality. An old acquaintance wrote a couple paragraphs encouraging everyone who was having trouble getting behind a candidate to instead get behind an issue and support that issue.  It is then up to you to determine if that meant voting for a specific candidate or taking other action.

I believe that in the end we vote with our wallets and our time.  Idle words do not impress.

This year I have attended a few trail building work parties sponsored by the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. This last weekend I was again wielding my favorite implement of destruction (a Triangle Rogue Hoe in case you are keeping score at home).  Man, that thing is a weapon!
It is impressive what a handful of hacks can do in a few hours with some heavy hand tools and a little oversight.  By pure coincidence the work parties I have been involved with in 2016 have run the full range from cutting in a new trail to putting the finishing touches on the berms of banked corners. Seeing the full cycle of trail building in the woods has been enlightening.

I acknowledge there are multiple phases that precede the actual trail work ranging from scouting to permitting to planning.  My guess is that within those tasks is where the real work lies.

Like many good things I believe good people are the lubricant that makes the impossible happen. With time carved out of busy schedules and almost no money these good people borrow tools and machinery and cajole other good people and in the end they etch out progress.

I’ve spent the last couple years admiring those who unselfishly contribute their time and one of my goals going forward is to be one of them.

Won’t you join me?

I would encourage all of you to contribute some of your time, starting right here in 2016, to a good cause. You may find that like me your hands and back will be sore but your inner peace will far outweigh any discomfort.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rapha Pro Team Rain Overshoes Review

The Jedi mind tricks in combination with hypnotic English grammar worked on me again and I picked up a pair of these when they were on clearance.  I had given them a try in some light rain and they performed well.  I had high hopes.

I have a pair of the Giro Blaze shoe covers that are stretchy and fit aero-snug and even breathe a little.  The fabric is similar to the Pearl Izumi AmFib shoe covers and keeps me pretty dry. The Giro covers aren’t hard core rain booties but they don’t claim to be. Still they are among the best.

Feral Dave and I have both made the near fatal mistake of wearing booties in the rain that weren’t targeted for the rain.  The results were predictably tragic.  Feral Dave’s experience has been immortalized amongst our team as a key component of the Medina Marge ride.
I put the Rapha booties to the test in some soggy commutes to and from work.  I double checked online to confirm if they were rated for rain.  Yep. “Rain” is right there in the name.   Ladies and gentlemen; rain booties these are not.

They are thin and have almost a colored condom feel to them. They shed water for a few minutes before wetting out. Then they take on a wet T-Shirt persona. Not good for anything other than looking at. 

If you wear booties in the rain year after year you learn to recognize when water comes in from the cuff, when it comes up from the sole, when it just trapped your sweat and when the rain water just leaks through.  On these, it just leaked through.  I guess that explains the grimaces you see on the faces of the riders pictured on the Rapha website.  Their feet are wet and cold.
They don’t get heavy from absorbing a lot of water and if the rain is light enough or the ride short enough these might be okay.  In less than an hour of light to medium rain these soaked through.

They score well on attributes like stretch, fit and good looks but if they are supposed to be rain booties and they won’t keep you dry does the rest really matter?  No it does not.

I will try to sell them on eBay or relegate them to aero bootie status.

One of five Evos.

Personal Politics

Fools follow.  Get out in front.

It is tragic the amount of energy we expend on the wrong things.  Based on history, my day to day life changes very little when one president takes over from another.  I expect the same this time around. 

We’ve thought each election held the future in the balance but the adage of the country being a big ship with a small rudder has proven true.  Yeah, yeah, this time is different.  Kind of funny that we said that four, eight, twelve and sixteen years ago.  We’re going to be just fine.  Nobody is moving to Canada.  We’ve heard that before as well.

Quit looking east to the Land of Oz.   Think I pulled that reference out of my ear?  Do your homework.   Step up your game.

Take all that energy you spent taking the bold stand of agreeing with everyone else on bathroom usage two thousand miles away and focus it on something, frankly anything closer to home. The truth is your opinion on that issue and most issues, no matter how eloquent or awesome it may be, doesn’t mean shit.  What does matter is what you do with your two hands.

There are donor supported programs that are effective at getting the homeless back into the workforce.  In fact, there are hundreds of worthwhile causes that could use your support. Consider writing a check.  There are countless other organizations that rely on volunteers ranging from animal rescue shelters to trail building to education to soup kitchens.  Consider giving your time.

You want a better country?  You want a better neighborhood?  Real change is not the result of which yahoo is in the oval office; it comes from honest concern and hard work.  Quit your bitching and get to it.  I promise you’ll feel better and the world will be better as well.