It’s all about enjoying the ride

I was chatting with a blogger friend today after my last blog post. In it I had mentioned the long ago jerk who told a relatively new cyclist (me)  “Well until you do the RAMROD, you aren’t a real cyclist.” Now normally, I brush off comments from people without a second thought.  For some reason, probably because I REALLY disliked this guy, it stuck in my craw.  Having completed the RAMROD this year I finally have the monkey off my back!

My blogger buddy Ron, of the Sevencyclist’s Blog, put it in perspective when he said. “it’s kind of a elitist type of comment. It’s all about enjoying the ride … The important thing is to get out there.”

And that is how a blog post is born! Continue reading “It’s all about enjoying the ride”

Yet ANOTHER reason I love to ride

As those who follow this blog know, I am currently tasked with training a coupla folks who are being promoted from the call center and moving to a more professional role.  Both these ladies are great, but both are in our Spokane office.  This means I am training 300 miles from home, without my bike.

In our icebreaker session on the first day, they learned that I biked over 200 miles in a day twice in the last three years.  One of them said, “I’ve heard a lot about you and your cycling.  Why do you like riding a bike so much?”

I love this question.. Continue reading “Yet ANOTHER reason I love to ride”

Looking for the eye of the tiger

So, its been just over 3 weeks since the STP, when our intrepid hero braved 97 degree heat to cycle 204 miles.  I am happy to report that I have fully recovered from this ride, and the body parts that were hurting are now doing well again.

So physically I am raring to go, bring it on!  What’s next? YEAH!  Mentally though…. Continue reading “Looking for the eye of the tiger”

Well I thought I was in Shape!

It’s funny, you can cruise along and think you are in pretty darn good shape.  I eat pretty well (with the occasional cookie thrown in).  On the bike I can pedal like the wind.  I can plan century rides, double centuries, and multiday trips without any concern of completing them at all.

People you talk to that don’t cycle will help you with this theory of being in good shape.  They say things like “Wow you commute 16 miles by bike?”  “You ride 100 miles in a day?” “Oh you must be in great shape with all those miles you log.” Yep its EASY to think you are in great shape.

But then, you get a day like Thursday or Friday, or worse yet, as I have just experienced,  2 days in a row that brings you down to Earth and you realize, “Oh hell, I am NOT in the shape I thought I was! Continue reading “Well I thought I was in Shape!”

The Challenge for the Rest of the Year.

It happens every year.  Sometimes as early as July, and other times not until September.  But yet yep, each and every year it happens.  Whatever goal (or in the case of this year) goals I set for myself have come and gone.  It’s time to look back and see how I did! Continue reading “The Challenge for the Rest of the Year.”

Yes, it is OK to Take a Break!

I am not what many would call a smart man, at least in some areas of life.  For example, I don’t understand why anyone would need more than one fork or spoon when eating dinner.  As long as you have one of each, you can eat anything on your plate.  

I also used to get in trouble, long ago, for not cutting my meat with my right hand, then putting down the knife, and then placing the fork in my right hand to stab the meat, and then put it in my mouth.  Seemed MUCH more efficient to hold the knife and fork in different hands and use them that way!.  When I am hungry I want to eat.

I don’t get why Levi 501s are not appropriate attire anywhere you need to go.  Shoot, get a pair of black ones, and that should be good for weddings, funerals, corporate functions, the works.

So in all these areas I freely admit I am not the sharpest tack on the cork board.  

There is one additional area in which I lack common sense sometimes: admitting that it’s time to let this body of mine recover.  

In the past, I have pushed myself farther than I should have.  I once spent an entire softball season (Team Chaos) with a sprained ankle.  I injured it early in the season playing second base.  In fact, I rolled it once, felt a pop, and decided how bad could it be…  Then REALLY hurt it a couple of at bats later.  Bad enough for an ER visit! 

I gave it a week, bought  brace and kept playing…  6 weeks later, the end of the season finally hit.  After 2 weeks of not playing, I was back to normal.  I could have skipped 2 weeks worth of games.

Once, back in the day, we were playing broom hockey, I slipped and fell, and took out a guy who ended up sitting HARD on my head! ( Helmets you say?  Nah, those are for sissies!)  After catching my breath, I went right back to playing.   While being driven home, I asked my ex, “Am I supposed to be seeing double when I try to read a license plate?”  Yep you guessed it, another visit to the ER room, and yep a mild concussion.   I could have sat out the rest of the game.

Or the time during the Wife Beater Softball Game (ok actually it was a fund-raiser against domestic violence.  I called it the Wife beater game to help with donations.  When I started with “This is a fund-raiser for Domestic Violence”  People walked away before I could get as far as asking for money, but when I called it the Wife Beater game, people laughed and at least listened, but I digress)

During that game, I played short stop.  a hot grounder took a wild hop and took me RIGHT in the mouth!.  Yep, once again, ER room where I was declared fit to play, so back I went for the last game!   Of course the 4-year-old would yell every time I went out to the field “DON’T GET HIT IN THE MOUTH AGAIN DAD!”  Thanks kid.

So why am I telling these stories?  Well, its like this.  Even though I am the first to tell someone else to sit out, rest, skip a play or even a game or two, I consider it a sign of personal weakness when I do it.   Anyone who read my blog last week saw I did a century, in almost 90 degree weather Sunday, and then bike commuted Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.  By friday morning just walking from the lunchroom on 5 to my desk on 7 with a cup of tea was leaving me winded.  

Mentally I was fired as well.  I was tired, and having trouble concentrating.  Not good.  All because and I stubborn and don’t want to admit weakness.  Now this a great trait when you are 75 miles into a century ride  or 150 miles into a double century.  Your body can tell you, “Shut it down son, we’re shot.”  But if you are stubborn, you mind and overrule the legs and keep you going.  But for day to day training, to much of it can be a bad thing.

Luckily for me, two things were in my favor this last weekend.  First off, my wife keeps an eye on me and will flat tell me, time for a break!  She knows he stuff, so I try to listen.  The other was the trip to Walla Walla.  No bike to ride.  Time to sleep, walk slowly around town, refuel with good food and good wine, and let the legs recover.  Without these two things, I am sure I would have ridden at least 50 last weekend.

Yesterday was to be my commute home day from work.  But the youngest asked me to come visit last night instead of tonight.  This gave me one more rest day (and avoided biking home in a thunder storm!)  I will tell you, every part of my body feels SO much better.  I can without a doubt attribute this to the 4 days of no exercise.  

In my mind, I understand taking a break like this is a good thing, but in my gut it still feels like I am wussing out.  But then, like I said, I am not the sharpest tool in the drawer. 

Short Term Memories

I’ve noticed nowadays that conversations I am having with people, that in the past would have been nothing out of the ordinary, now result in my walking away thinking “HUH, that would be a decent subject for a blog post…” 

Well that happened at work a few days ago when I was talking to Bridget in the lunch room at work.  We were talking about rides in general, and we talked about how tired we can be at the end of a long ride.  Then she said the phrase that made me start thinking about this post.  “It’s a good thing we forget how hard things are, otherwise we might never do it again…” 

She’s right!  There have been times I have been in the middle of an endeavor, be it a climb, run, hike or ride, and I can distinctly remember saying “If (sometimes it is not when but if) I finish this thing I will NEVER do it again!”  Case in point the Highpass Challenge.  Two years ago I was pushing it, digging deep for everything I had left.  Splitting my remaining water between drinking and pouring it over my head.  (it was 90 outside.)  When I knew I was going to make the time cut off, I KNOW I said never again! 

This spring I found myself wondering if I could get a silver medal instead of a bronze if I did it again… 

I HATED getting out of a sleeping bag at midnight on a glacier to climb a mountain.  It just seems wrong…  Loved the stars (the second time when I finally thought about looking up) but it still seemed wrong.  I tried Rainier 4 times!  And it wasn’t till the wakeup call in the subsequent attempts that I would say “OH YEAH!  This is the part I didn’t like!” 

I know I told Michelle that after doing the Seattle to Portland (STP) in one day, I was done with the ride…  Yep you guessed, I’ve started wondering if I could better my time…   Why not!  Who doesn’t love 15 hours on a bike! 

I also believe your mind erases certain aspects of what we do as well!  Again, with the STP, I found myself going UP a steep hill going into Napavine.  Now I gotta tell ya, not only do I not remember the hill (I said to myself “Who built this damn hill??), I somehow blocked out the whole town of Napavine.  Granted its not a big town, and I do remember the long downhill afterwards, but the uphill slog into it and the town itself, nope, did not exist last time (and yep I checked, same route….)  I remembered all the other towns…. 

It doesn’t need to be an athletic event for this to happen.  Recently I was looking at some pictures and saw a Roller Coaster at Silverwood theme park and I saw Aftershock!  I immediately started thinking THAT looks like fun again!  I should go!!  The youngest kid and I had a blast!  Then he pointed out, “Hey I thought after the 3rd time you almost puked, you were done!”   Oh yeah forgot.  Or Disneyland in general, “OH yeah it will be a blast!  Love Disney and everything about it!”   But then you get there and you remember  “Oh yeah, the crowds and lines suck, who are all these people and why are they here when I am!”

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 Even TV shows or movies.  I am going to show my age here, but I used to watch Land of the Lost when I was a kid (there was a recent Will Farrell remake, stunk!)  Cartoon network had a marathon of the old ones on one day.  I gathered the kids to watch with me!  You will love it!!  (I was heard to say…)  OK, yeah not so much, it was a terrible show!!!  (On this I will take a bit of a mulligan, I was 35 years ago!!) 

How many of us have said “I WILL NEVER DRINK AGAIN!” while experiencing a hangover…… (but wait, alcohol kills brain cells, this may not be a good example….) 

I am sure all of us can come up with examples of when this has happened to us.  And think, those things that you remember NOT so fondly and know you will NEVER do again (My one halfathon!) must have really stunk.  Otherwise we would have forgotten the bad parts and going out again! 

I started wondering why our minds work that way.  Is it a trait passed down from cavemen.  Tog and Mog, hunter gatherers, go out hunting for saber tooth tigers, and each, though bloody and battered bring one home!  Mamog, the cavewoman, is very excited to get fur coats and dangly tooth earrings from the both!  

Mog, being the smarter(?) one, thinks to himself “Ooga, booga, unga umgawa!”  (Which translated for those of us in the future means “THAT sucked!  I am never doing that again, next time I will gather acorns!”)  

Tog on the other hand, as soon as the wounds heal, starts thinking, “Hell that wasn’t so bad, I wonder if I can get a bigger cat, or even a cave bear!” 

As both are competing for Mamog’s affections (and cavewomen were MUCH more materialistic than ladies who read my blog today!) the offerings of acorns just couldn’t compete with fur coats.  Tog got the girl, and passed down through the eons of time, the ability to block out the worst parts of the adventures! 

I for one owe that caveman a huge thank you!  Every year I sign up for something new, and even more challenging than the year before.  I don’t think about the training involved, the hours on the bike, the rides in the shed, the crappy weather I will endure, I just think about the crossing the finish line, and the feeling of accomplishment when I am successful.  Hmmm maybe it’s not that we just forget, maybe, just maybe, the feeling at the end makes it all worth it!   

Either way, I think I still owe Tog a beer!

Racking Up the Miles: April 2013

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Well April is officially over!  I was able to get one last bike commute home in last night!  A little over 16 miles, and it felt good.  Considering I had my 58 miles on Sunday and this was my second commute home of the week!

This is the first month of the year that I did not exceed the previous month’s total!  It was close though.  only 8 miles separated me from March.  I ended up with 315 miles.  I actually crunched the numbers more than once when I saw that!  I was seriously surprised!

There were some contributing factors (or as some of us call them, excuses) as to why I didn’t get more miles.  The first, was the bike going to the shop.  When you only have one bike, its hard to ride when it ain’t here for a week!  The tune up was needed though, so I am very glad I got it done! (Even if there were some lingering issues!)

Second was the weather.  This was the second rainiest April on record up here!  Shoot, I was starting to worry my house was going to disappear behind my lawn!  More than one weekend was a complete rain out, and I was limited to the shed and riding on the rollers.

Finally was just the schedule in general.  Volunteering at the Winery and the Coastsavers beach clean up shot a couple of days as well….  I was seriously feeling a bit of saddle deprivation syndrome!  Even my butt callouses were starting to disappear!  NOT good when I have long rides coming.

A couple of things combined to save me though!

First, the new job!  It is close enough to bike commute!  My wife and I carpool in together, and I bike home.  I get exercise, and she doesn’t have to wait for my quitting time!   The first round trip was my wettest ride I’ve ever had on the way home!  But the 16 – 17 miles I get is more than I normally do on the rollers, and the hills are MUCH better for conditioning than inside riding!

Second is REI.  Not once but twice, they came to my rescue when the bike had issues after riding to work! Once for a new rear wheel and once when I needed work on the rear shifter.  Both times, I was on the road and heading home at my normal time!  (They did neglect to fully inflate my rear tire the first time, but I won’t fault them much for that!)

And finally, the weather gods come through last Sunday.  The rain stopping a least long enough to allow me to get on the road let me crank out the longest ride in a month, allowing me to make this month at least a bit respectable!

So overall, I shouldn’t complain.  AND May is looking up.  2 Century rides in the next two weekends, both of them new rides, so it will be a lot of fun!  It is also Bike to Work Month for Cascade Bicycle Club, and I am on the work team.  This means I will ride as many one way and round trips as I can!  I know better than to count my chickens, cuz anything can happen, but I am hoping for one of the biggest mileage months ever in May.

Let’s hope the weather gods cooperate and REI is standing by!!

Are You the One…..

I had a quick conversation with a guy today in our parking garage while I was loading my panniers on the bike for the commute home.  He looked at me kinda strangely and said, “Are you the one…”

Well, I gotta tell you, that is not a phrase I like to hear!  Rarely does it come out well!  My mom once asked “Are you the one who rolled Annie (my kid sis) into the hallway and closed the door?”  (Well yeah, I did, she kept knocking over my blocks!)

In elementary school, for weeks I’d hear “Are you the guy who smelled so bad the principal had to drive you home?”  Yeah that was me too.

However, this wasn’t my fault!  Our dog, Princess, chased a skunk under the house over night.  Well, being a skunk, it did what skunks do!  Being under the house, it wafted up into the house, covering EVERYTHING, including us.  It happened when we were asleep though, so we smelled nothing (having gotten used to it in our sleep.)  So off to school I went!  Everyone moved their desk as far as possible from me!  I still didn’t smell anything!

Mr. North, my principal called home and told my mom “Tony is a little ‘strong’ today…”  She thought I was in a fight.  Poor guy ended up driving me home in his VW Bug with ALL the windows open…

All through Jr High and High School, “Are you the one who aced the test and messed up the curve???”  Yep, the acing the test was good!  The class being mad at me, was not!

Also in Jr High and High School, “Are you the guy who lost a fight  to <insert name here>”  OK I didn’t get into a lot of fights, but I didn’t win any of the ones I was in!  I didn’t look for them, but I wasn’t smart enough to back down either.

One such event, I was getting on the bus to go to school, and I thought my buddy Eddie was behind me and was pushing me.  I pushed back, without looking first, and yelled “Back off son!”  I turned around to see it was the biggest meanest guy on the bus (can’t remember his name) and to add to it he was African-American and was convinced I said boy instead of son.  (Now I promise you, I did not, but there was no convincing the man!)

Yep, he wanted to fight right when we got to school, but I didn’t want to get expelled, so, like a damn fool, I showed up after school to fight a guy 6 inches taller and 50 lbs heavier. I lost.  I did get one good punch, but that was it.  I snuck in my bedroom window when I got home to clean off some blood before Mom saw me.  She noticed anyway.

There are many MANY more stories I am sure.  And I know my friends from College or at work would be able to add to this….

Sooo, given all this, when the conversation started this way I thought, “Holy crap what did I do now?  I just started a month ago!”  But he was asking if I was the one who was logging the most miles for our bicycle commuter challenge?  What?  HUH?  HEY that is a good thing!!

“Well YES I AM!” I said proudly!  “Good job!  I am a couple of others are joining because of you!”

Well shoot!  Maybe being “the one” isn’t always so bad!

 

Yep, its Official, I am Tired of the Rain this Year!

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This is me, early in March, on the McClinchy mile, ready for the rain that was going to hit.  In March it’s ok, around here it is supposed to rain then!

It’s now darn near May, and even though my Northwest Action Figure brain is telling me, “You know damn well you can count on rain until July”  My cycler brain looked outside at 630, on a day I was hoping to get an early start, crank out 70 miles, then get the last of the weekend chores done, and saw it was pouring.  An F-bomb was heard echoing through my head!

In the winter time, I resign myself to riding in the shed when its raining,  SInce the only ride I have early in the year is 33 miles, that is enough training.  Shoot I can do that in my sleep.

Now however, it’s not an option.  I have 2 century rides in the next 3 weekends.  Granted, I have had my bike commuting this last week.  So at least I have saddle time.  But I can’t remember my last ride over 20 miles, let alone 50-70.

I was patting myself on the back yesterday!  Working at the winery, I looked outside and it was raining and had been for hours! Since I had debated on which day to work and which to ride, I was quite proud of myself!  It will get all the rain out of its system and be rarin to go in the morning!

Hence the early morning F-bomb!  I love the Northwest, and wouldn’t change where I lived.  I am also fine if I am on a ride and the rain starts.  “Oh well, I am already out hear, and I am going to get wet whether I turn around or not, so lets finish!”  Leaving a nice warm house with a gorgeous wife when it’s already raining…..  That’s hard!

It appears, though, that the rain is only here for the morning, and is supposed to clear this afternoon.  So OK, plan B.  First I blog and tell the world I am grouchy! (check) Then I check out my hot wife again (Double checked!) Now that those are done, time to get the chores I was going to do after the ride done now!

  • fold laundry
  • bake chicken for lunches
  • make salad to eat with my chicken
  • check out wife again

Then, hopefully, tomorrow’s post will have me smiling and happy after at least 50 miles!

If anyone knows a sundance (or even a cloudy but dry one) feel free to do so for me!

Did I mention I am tired of the rain??