Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CANCER CANCELS VOTE


My friend, Judy, has been battling cancer. Judy was my first "focus group," the first person to read my manuscript. She was the one who suggested adding Definitions, because she didn't ride a bike and was unfamiliar with many of the terms. However, I couldn't really trust her to say anything negative about the book, she was so enthusiastic about the whole thing. Anyhow, Judy couldn't bring herself to like any of the presidential candidates, so declared she would write me in. She had also mentioned the yard signs in her neighborhood. Several days later she had a sign of her own. Unfortunately, she passed away before she could vote. Judy, we'll miss you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

ADJUSTING TO THE WEATHER

Somewhat as a follow-up to my previous post, the weather yesterday started at 40 degrees at 6am and had moved to 41 degrees at 8:45am. My first inclination was to set up the trainer in the kitchen, but the wind was calm and the sun was out. Certainly it had to warm up soon. Anyhow, I put on my shorts and tights, a long-sleeve cotton shirt under my bike jersey, and slightly heavier socks. By 9:15 I walked outside to mount up. It felt much warmer than 41 so I checked and sure enough the temperature had risen to 48. Okay, I knew I had over-dressed, so went back in and removed the long sleeve shirt, switched to a wind vest over the jersey because I wanted two layers on my chest and arm warmers, kept the tights on. The 30 mile ride had no real challenges and turned out to be quite pleasant. After 30 minutes I lowered the arm warmers, but the wind had come up so the vest stayed in place, as did the tights. It didn't get warm until a few miles from home, so I saw no reason to stop to remove anything. The temperature when I got home was 58 degrees. Once again I guessed correctly on what to wear. Of course, like any layering action, had the temperature risen more rapidly, the outer clothing could have come off earlier.
The second point about colder weather is hydration. Yes, you cut back on how much you drink, but you still need to stay hydrated. For instance, in normal summer heat (under 90 degrees) I drink two 24 ounce bottles on this ride; in hot,humid heat I switch to a Camelbak with about 70 ounces; but in the cool, dry weather like yesterday, I only consumed 30-32 ounces. My time was also about ten minutes quicker than normal, so that might account for a few ounces less. My point is: take the same amount of liquid with you on your rides until you find out how much less you really need. It may surprise you that it is only a few ounces.

Monday, October 20, 2008

HOW MANY CYCLISTS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A TUBE?

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but a picture wouldn't work. About a dozen of us (60%-40% male to female) were riding yesterday. The least experienced (female) rider in the group managed to let a small nail get through the tire and flatted and we all stopped. Immediately, a gallant male removed the back wheel (and I gallantly held the bike) and stripped the tire and tube off. Another male searched the tire for the hole, found it and determined a boot was not necessary. First male put the new tube on the wheel, then reached for the tire. I mentioned I had never seen this procedure before, but he continued until realizing you really can't do it this way (group laughter, red face). Second male then took the tire and tube, put the tube inside the tire and proceeded to install on the wheel. For the record, I always put one side of the tire on the rim, insert the tube, then the other side. Anyhow, that done, second male scorned the compressed air offered, and attached his frame pump and inflated the tube. Working assiduously on the pump, he hadn't noticed that the tire had not seated properly until almost finished. Glancing up, he uttered an expletive and let all the air out before the tube exploded (group laughter, red face). Tire properly seated, he again inflated the tube to a sufficient level. Triumphantly, he released the pump and removed it with a flourish. Unfortunately, it wasn't a clean jerk and he managed to also remove the valve stem with the pump (astonished group exclamation, laughter, really red face). One of the ladies had another spare tube and got it, took the wheel, took the tire, installed everything back on the wheel. Owner of the wheel then approached the wheel with her compressed air. Just before releasing it, one of the other males yelped and asked if she had done this before (because about eight cyclists had their hands over their ears). Short explanation: she had a 650 tire and a large CO2 cylinder. This third male gently explained that was too much air for the tube and would require an experienced hand. He then aired up the tire, all was well, and we finished the ride. All told, we had six cyclists involved on this one flat.
Additional note: We were not a group of friends, probably no more than three people knew each other. But, as experienced cyclists who knew group protocol, everyone stopped, pitched in or stayed out of the way as needed, and no one really got fussed over the odd happenings. That is one of the things that makes group cycling a lot of fun.

NOT AN EXPERT!

I will post two blogs today and needed to post this one before going on to the next. I never refer to myself as an expert. I use the term "experienced." I consider an expert as one who knows just about everything there is about a subject. I would rather not have that pressure, especially since I really don't know a lot about cycling. However, I have no problem with being experienced, because I am. Therefore, those things that I have experienced, I know about, but all the other stuff I leave to others. Also, by avoiding being an expert, I also avoid embarassing myself. Read next post.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I HATE 60 DEGREES!
Many years ago I read an article (that I attribute to Davis Phinney, but it may have been Alex Stieda) which included this advice: "Under 65 degrees, cover your knees." There isn't a lot of fat or blood to help ward off the cold and wind, and you really want the knees working smoothly. Over the years, while generally adhering to this maxim, I have modified it to the extent that if the sun is out, go lower, and if there isn't any wind or if only a slight warm wind, go lower. Naturally, we are talking about training rides or social rides, and by "go lower" I mean maybe 5 degrees. That is where we get to 60 degrees. Yesterday was 60 degrees, cloudy (like, absolutely no sun peeking through), and a slight north (ie, chilly) wind. So, the debate began. Finally, I decided against tights because I was doing hill climbing (eight steep climbs in 19 miles) and would eventually warm up, but went with arm warmers. The arm warmers were to keep me from getting chilled during the first fifteen minutes. Everything went as expected and I had a good practice. For the record, the big climb this day (Courtyard if you know Austin) is about a half mile long, has three ramps of about 16% and the last one at 23% (my gps goes from 22% to 24%) and the numbers don't really matter, it is a steep climb. Anyhow, my knees survived. The moral of today: cycling is more enjoyable when you are comfortably and properly dressed. BTW, unless peer pressure is unbearable, I will stay indoors (on my bike) under 40 degrees.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CORRECTION

Last week I used an imprecise term and even though no one has brought it to my attention, feel the need to explain how I got there. My acupuncturist is also a Chinese Herbalist and my main resource into staying healthy. Whenever I give credit, I refer to my acupuncturist and do not differentiate that the topic may actually be herbs. Thus, when I advised that folks under stress, including frustration, should protect their liver, that belonged in the Chinese Medicine category and not acupuncture (not that the needles cannot relieve stress, they do and that is probably where most of the needles I get go). There is a great primer on Chinese Medicine, called Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold I linked to Amazon, but you can find it lots of places.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

CYCLING BENEFIT FROM BAILOUT

The most dreaded words a citizen wants to hear: "We're from the government, and we're here to help (or, in rural areas "hep") you." Check out http://seniorbicycling.blogspot.com/ and the feature article (and, by the way, mark this as a favorite or follower). Some of the pork in the bailout package includes a $20 per employee, per month tax credit, for each employee who regularly rides a bike to work. I am fundamentally (a recently overused word) against tacking on extras that cannot generate approval on their own merit, and I really don't believe the extent of the bailout was necessary, however will take a "wait and see" attitude to see how it is handled. As for the incentive to ride your bike, that sounds well and good, but the only thing I see is fraud/abuse and beauracracy eating into a good idea. Also, besides regular road rage, the commuting cyclist will encounter tax rage directed upon them. And if you think the employer will trickle that $20/month down to the cyclist, you really are a pollyanna.

Monday, October 6, 2008

TRAINING FINALLY PAYING DIVIDENDS

I trained (definition: cycled a lot) for the Senior Games State Finals, held last week. These consist of two time trials of 5km and 10km and two races of 20km and 40km. For the first time since my initial entry five years ago I failed to garner a medal, which is neither here nor there. Yesterday, for the first time, I was able to stay with the fast group in our Sunday rides. What happens on Sunday is a large group starts out from the bike shop. We stay together through town for about seven miles, then the pace picks up. In a few more miles we come to a stop sign, turn right and begin an incline (too shallow to be a hill) and the pace picks up some more and a lot of people can't hang. Yesterday I climbed easily, pedaled smoothly, and thanks to drafting, was able to ride with this lead group, at least for the five or so miles to the rest stop and turn around point. The return was with the slower group, but I still finished strong. My lament is that I should have trained harder earlier and my fear is that, with the season over, my form will revert to previous levels. I resolve to hold my form through the winter; stay tuned to see if that happens, or if it goes the way of New Year Resolutions.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

LANCE, I FEEL YOUR FRUSTRATIONS

Of course, the source of the frustration is not the same. I saw on TV that 85% of respondents believe you raced clean. The other 15% are waiting around for you to finally confess in order for them to say "I told you so." You are frustrated because you cannot prove a negative, and they are frustrated because their dream will never be. At least you realize that nothing you can say or do will change their mind and have moved on, (except you must respond to each slight they sling at you). It all seems so simple to me: start with talent, then practice as hard as Lance does, and you should see similar results. Less practice, less results. My frustration is not about cycling, but about good health. Of course cycling keeps me in shape, but when pressed about staying healthy, I mention I do yoga, stretch daily, work out with weights, see my acupuncturist regularly when well, more often when the body needs it, and take some alternative medicines/foods. For instance, I advocate a nasal wash (Neti pot) with a saline solution during cold season. Even though I suffer very little from colds, people with stuffy noses can't bring themselves to follow my example, even after asking my opinion. Anytime I am out in a brisk wind, I brew some ginger root in water, thus ginger tea, sweeten with honey, and offset the effects of the wind. This helps ward off breathing difficulties. When ginger doesn't do the trick, and breathing becomes congested, Oil of Oregano seems to sort it out in a day or two. So far, I am batting zero in convincing folks it works. In truth, I am very thankful my frustrations are only due to minor stuff, and not the magnitude of yours, but still, frustrations of any sort can be wearing on a person, so protect your liver (acupuncturist term).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Getting Back to Business

The Senior Games and training for them are over. I need to get faster. I have cycled in the Alps concurrent with the Tour de France, cruised the Baltics, including several bike rides, toured St. Petersburg, hiked in England since my last post. I had a passing thought on updating the blog, but it passed. However, more computer time is in my immediate future and both the website and the blog should receive overdue improvements and updates. Don't be a stranger.