Tuesday, December 22, 2009


We have gone for months without anyone coming to our front door after 6pm. I was relaxing in front of the TV with an alternate cold-abeyance device: 2 ounces of Wild Turkey. There is no hint of a cold, this is merely a preventative measure. A knock on the door! Hmmm. My neighbor came to pick up the new bike we were hiding in our garage. Helped transfer back to his house, then settled down in the recliner. Ding, dong! Dang!! This time UPS had dropped a package (I wasn't supposed to see it came from an online bike accessory place). Ok, it's the season. Just getting to the end of an NCIS rerun: knock, knock, knock.

My furrowed brow smoothed and a smile highlighted my face when the two gentlemen announced that our yard had been voted as having the best Nativity Scene in the (large) neighborhood. I am extremely pleased and gratified that our decision six years ago is enjoyed by so many.

Changing gears to a cycling note: I spent two hours cleaning my bike yesterday, and declined to ride on the wet streets this morning. The 20mph wind also helped in the decision. Hit and miss until January.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Please refer to my posts of Oct 5th and 14th of 2008. This is a variation of the same theme. It has again come to my consciousness because of the myriad of news blurbs touting the need for frequent washing of hands. The same segment will warn of airborne contaminants. Few, if any, go on to tout washing your nasal passages. Specifically, I recommend a neti pot. For those who are squeamish, there is an OTC saline solution you can squirt up your nose.
Bring ginger into your life. Mostly I use dry ginger root but when I need to get serious, I buy fresh ginger and cut a half-dozen slices into a tea pot and brew. Last year I mentioned adding a little honey, but this year I have graduated to taking it straight. There is already too much sugar tempting us this Christmas Season and the three extra pounds the scales have jumped in just five days have gotten my attention.
I hit the Oil of Oregano anytime there is a hint of stuffiness or tightness in my chest. Of course, vitamin C is part of the daily regimen. I'll also increase to significant dosage if exposed to anyone with a cold or feel something coming on.
When the home remedies fail, I'm off to my acupuncturist. My best recollection is that my last cold/flu was seven plus years ago. One visit plus herbs got me going the next day.
I am a walking advertisement for good health. And just like a lot of billboards, no one pays attention. But I keep trying.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Wretched Excess is the exclamatory term we use to describe anything "over the top." This is another non-cycling entry. Our tv cable includes music channels and one of them is Sounds of the Season. Currently, they are into Christmas music. But along with the music, they run some blurbs on screen in addition to the artist and song information. One such blurb last night was "The average family has 75 ornaments on their tree." Wretched Excess: we have 281 (one less than we had yesterday morning, as I dropped one).
I keep a spread-sheet (don't roll your eyes!) on the ornaments. This came about because through the years we acquired additional ornaments, but couldn't remember when or sometimes if given as gifts, who. Now we know.
Coffee is finished, time to get on with decorating. BTW, even if everything in the house takes on a Chrismas theme, we don't think of it as excessive.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I am sitting here at 6am contemplating whether or not to drive into Austin to ride with my friends from the Bicycle Sports Shop. With Thanksgiving dinner (and leftovers) still making me loggy, and an extra two pounds sitting on my thighs, I really don't feel like it. But the weather forecast shows a cold, wet front just passed Lubbock and will be here in about six hours. This will be my only chance for a decent ride for the next week.
In addition, we have some early Christmas lunch gatherings scheduled and it will take lots of man-hours to have the house properly decorated. I am feeling (slightly) guilty about biking in these prime-decorating hours. But yes, I'll leave in an hour to ride.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Mama Roux is a restaurant in north Austin (I-35 and Parmer). Why should a restaurant be the title on a cycling blog? Because cyclists gotta eat! Ok, the reason is I haven't been doing much cycling as we move into holiday season, and this is my favorite eatery, even though I've only been there once. But there is more to this story. Mike and Yoli started Gumbo's a few (more like ten) years ago. Mike is the chef. He puts out the best Cajun food this side of New Orleans (and better than most inside New Orleans). Why they were in and out of the restaurant business is their story and not for me to relate, but each time they resurface, Marilane and I make it a point to seek them out. Now, everybody in Austin and vicinity knows this and they do the same thing. Not having to wait for a table takes the luck of the Irish. It doesn't matter, the food is superior, the prices reasonable (even downright low if you get the red beans and rice), so you go and wait. If you live in, or are coming to, Austin, put this place on your agenda (and tell them Jerry and Marilane sent you).
On a cycling note, I managed a 35 mile ride this morning, starting out in the fog, but finishing in nice sunshine with no wind. Cycling will be spotty until after January 1. I checked out the spin classes at Gold's Gym and it looks like the 8:45am once a week will start this coming week. I also began my leg work on the weight machines last Friday. They have yoga on Thursday evening, but I have a difficult time leaving home after 4pm.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Destiny, whatever. I prefer to attribute my good fortune to my Guardian Angel who guides me in the right direction. What, pray tell, does this have to do with cycling? For the past two weeks I have done a lot of serious lifting and toting of boxes and heavy furniture as we moved my mother-in-law to a retirement apartment. Most of the physical exertion on both ends of the move was mine. There is no doubt that the time spent keeping my body, especially the cardio-vascular systems, in shape allowed me to complete the task in good order, without injury.
Truthfully, the three weeks doing E2E and afterward the time-trial training put me in the best condition since completing the coast-to-coast trip in 2001. Moving took all of my energy, but I must say, the accomplishment borders on the heroic.
So, thanks GA, for pointing me in the direction of cycling to hone my lungs and muscles. As I see my older friends (like, in their 70's) still being strong and active, growing older doesn't seem to be as restrictive as I anticipated it would be back when I turned 60.
PS Massage, Reiki, and Epsom Salts bath are part of the recovery process. The GA doesn't work those type of miracles.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Previously I wrote that sometimes perception magnified reality. Sometimes perception is right-on, and the time-trials were a good case-in-point. The Garmin supplied cold, hard facts and it is now up to me to do something about it in order to improve my 5km times. It is set up in 5 zones: zone 1 is 50% of my maximum heart rate, zone 2 is 60%, zone 3 is 70%, zone 4 is 80% and zone 5 is 90%.
The two races break down like this in their respective zones: 2.3%; 9.2%; 70.4%; 16.2%; 1.8% for the 5km and 1.3%; 1.0%; 3.4%; 38.3%; and 56.1% for the 10km. It is very clear that spending 70.4% of a race between 70 and 80% of maximum heart rate does not result in optimum performance. Conversely, in the 10km, I did the whole race (95%) above 80%, and a large majority of that above 90% of maximum.
When you watch the Tour de France pros warm up for their time-trials, they work up a sweat on their trainers and according to the commentators, they spend about an hour on them. When I do my 50 minute Carmichael work-out on the trainer, I also sweat profusely. I have to get serious about perfecting a pre-race routine that gets my heart rate up, with lungs and muscles properly responding. But I hope it won't be an hour on the trainer. That is the goal for this winter.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


This weekend Houston hosted the Texas State Championships for the Senior Games. I scrambled to find time-trialing form after my fabulous three weeks cycling from one end of Great Britain to the other. First I had to find attitude. Plan A, mapped out prior to taking the tour, called for me start some medium-pace time-trialing (just to starting bending in all the right places) immediately upon my return. The second week I would go for speed. In actuality, it took two weeks before I was ready to get on the tt bike, leaving two weeks before racing. We went to Plan B, generally a panic-mode set of practices, and I did two days each at the 5km and 10km distances (3 sets of 5km, and two sets of 10km, three days apart). Then I went to my acupuncturist for some pre-race needles (stress-relief).
Saturday at 9am, give or take, the 5km began. The morning started in the mid-40's, no wind. By race time it had risen to maybe 60, still very little wind. I just can't seem to warm up properly for the 5km. Even though I rode on the road for at least 30 minutes, including sprinting to increase my heart-rate, and 10 minutes on the trainer to again get the heart-rate up and the body used to getting rid of lactic acid, I didn't feel really loose.
The organizers called us to the staging area much too soon, thus we had at least 30 minutes of waiting and allowing the body to cool off. We rode around a bit and up and down a side street, but it wasn't the same. Anyhow, eventually my time came.
Like a lot of previous time trials, I started off quickly, settled into a rythym, and found my heart and lungs complaining at the load I put upon them. My legs refused to apply power to the pedals. Although I kept a good rpm, I knew I should have been in a higher gear and going faster. This is a short race, straight and flat, so the suffering lasted 8 minutes and 7 seconds (pay no real attention to the time, the race was a smidgen over 5km).
As it turned out, the winning time in my age group (65 to 69) was 7:54 and my time was good enough for second place. Comparatively, I tied for eigth place overall. Age groups are in five-year increments starting at age 50 (50-54;55-59;60-64-65-69 and so forth).
We had maybe an hour and a half before the 10km time-trials started. I used the time to stretch, re-hydrate and fuel myself, rest and relax, and do more warm-up on the trainer. I also didn't report to the staging area until shortly before my start time.
The temperature had increased another ten degrees and was quite comfortable. I felt quite relaxed and ready. I moved quickly away and settled onto the aerobars within twenty pedal strokes. The 10km race course was again straight and flat, but also about .4 of a mile short of 10km (due to traffic concerns). Unlike the 5km, I felt strong and comfortable the whole way and the legs supplied proper power, giving me a nice high gear. When I caught sight of the finish line, about a half mile ahead, I pushed hard and achieved an even higher gear, more rpm, and a really fast finish.
The preparations paid off, as I posted a first place in my age group, with a time of 13:20. This was seventh overall. Interestingly, my average speed for the 5km was 23.6 and the 10km 24.3.

Sunday I did the 40km (actually 28 miles) road race, more for fun than anything. I managed to stay with the group until the last 50 meters, possibly because I tried an ill-timed breakaway and ran out of steam at the end. We averaged 20.3mph.
This marks the end of this year's cycling season. Training for next year starts Nov 1.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I've been back now for two weeks and it is almost time to move on to other stuff. There is a book titled I Always Look Up the Word Egregious. If you like words, you should have this close at hand. At the moment I am hung up on Eschew. It's a good word, meaning to shun. I considered using Ignore, and that is possibly more precise, but Eschew keeps rattling around my brain, so like the squeaky wheel, it got the grease.
I arrived at Land's End in race-ready form. Part of my at-home exercise routine includes daily: six sets of sun salutations; bi-weekly: a half hour of abdominal exercises (Suzanne Deason tape); back and leg stretches after cycling. There are others. Well, strenuous cycling or not, this trip was a vacation so I also arrived in vacation-mode. Attitude plus change in routine (and perhaps a Guinness or two) conspired to have me take six weeks off from stretching.
Earlier this week I resumed my stretching routines, and I am hoping my hamstrings will stop yelling at me by Sunday. I sprayed them with BioFreeze last night, hoping to placate. My gastrocnemius and soleus muscles feel at least an inch shorter and are refusing to stretch and my left arch either cramps or threatens to cramp at the drop of a hat. I was doing a hamstring stretch and my abdominal muscle cramped, for crying out loud.
This morning the sun was shining, finally, and I jumped at the chance to get in a 30 mile ride. Ah, my brain jumped; everything from the head down was dragged kicking and screaming. The whole body finally warmed up and got the job done and I can report no injuries. All of this could have been avoided with a couple of simple stretches as part of my post ride warm down.
But I have a caution, learned the hard way: If you deplete your energy stores (like have a really long, hard workout), don't jump off the bike and start stretching. Delay that until you have replaced electolytes and let the body recover. But don't skip it, just delay. Your muscles will thank you for it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Climbing Stats

Courtesy Steve, we now have some climbing stats for this ride. Yes, my Garmin 305 records Ascents and Descents, but only if the operator asks it to. I was 2/3 through before realizing I had it set wrong. Anyhow, for this trip we had over 75,000 feet of climbing. Days two and three were the toughest at 6,082 and 5,865 respectively (and respectfully, for that matter). At the time, after day three, I remarked that I had cycled tougher days, but not a tougher 52 miles.
I checked the stats for my coast-to-coast ride, and from Auburn to Truckee, California we rode 76 miles and climbed 8,500 feet, and from Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH 6,010 feet over 86 miles.
For a reason that escapes me, the computer (ok, the operator) put Day 3 into three laps. The first one recorded 15.1 miles at an average speed of 7.4, although maximum was a nice 32.5. To get an average like that, I had to have put in some 4 mph miles. This was the morning we were in a fog. Lap two showed an average of 10.3 and a max of 42.3 (the fastest of the whole trip and both Steve and I were grateful the sheep didn't jump) over 32.8 miles.

The day in the rain (Day 16), going down Rest And Be Thankful, it felt a lot faster than 32.9 as I tried to stay up with James. On several other occasions I thought my speed exceeded 40, based on the adrenalin building up, but the Garmin shows differently. Perceptions can sometimes magnify reality.
I am not a fanatic about keeping (and living by) statistics, but they assist in not letting your imagination run wild and I like having them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Reminder: This is an ongoing retelling, starting with the first entry in October.
By my count, the directions on the route sheet numbered 930 for the 20 days of riding. Take this with a grain of salt and a margin of error of 2%. For instance, from Bettyhill to John O'Groats there is only one road, with a left turn to Dunnet Head, but that was an out an back. We had 18 directional entries for the day. The highest day was 71 (twice).
We had 36 undulations (roads with rolling hills, although some of the rolls were really climbs).
We had 86 climbs (lengths varied, but generally it had to be a double-digit percentage, say 10-16%) and 27 steep climbs (18-24% and longer than a quarter-mile, approximately). These were route instruction words and I didn't count "up" or "rolling," only the three categories listed. We really had more climbs than shown, but I didn't count the ones not shown on the route sheets.
Oh yeah, Bicycle Adventures lists the route as 1056 miles and my GPS (Garmin 305) showed exactly 1056 miles, even though at no time did my daily mileage coincide with theirs for more than a few miles.
The second day we had 10 climbs and 6 steep climbs; the third day 9 climbs and 1 steep climb; Day six we had 8 climbs and 2 steep climbs. Unfortunately (or mayby not), I don't have the total feet of ascent. Operator error on the gps.

Friday, October 9, 2009


At London Heathrow, after having the bag screened, I walked through the metal detector with no problem. Being an experienced traveler, my cargo pants had nothing in them and no belt. However, the security lady wasn't stressed by a multitude of passengers so upon seeing my T-shirt (of course I wore the Land's End one), stopped me to inquire if that was what I had been doing on holiday. She gave me a congratulatory "Well done!" then asked if I had done it for charity. I explained that I had not but some of our group had, and mentioned Lyn (not by name) and Alzheimers. She liked that, too, and I moved on.
I bring this up because several people, during the ride, would inquire and donate. The first time was a mistake, in that an old gentleman sidled up to **and asked if he were doing it for charity and rather than take the long answer about some were and some weren't, ** gave the short answer of yes, and before he knew it, the gentleman had pressed (I think £5) into his hand and went on. Surprised, ** couldn't very well chase after and return it, so pocketed it.
Lyn, on the other hand, was an extremely good spokesperson for Alzheimers. Since a majority of my ride time was with her and Steve, I learned a lot about symptoms and care and a lot about how many folks feel the need to donate. At one coffee stop, she came away with more money (from the owner) than we paid for the snack. What amazed me was the people who donated gave no thought that their money wouldn't go to the organization. Not everyone in the world is jaded by scam artists. Anyway, I can't say about the other charities, but Alzheimers was well served on this trip.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


This only is tangentially related to the bike trip. When we bring up the subject of using miles to supplement our travel, every third person opines that it is too much trouble to keep track of and bother about airline miles and hotel perks. And, as I say so often, going by myself and accompanying my wife is like night and day. In this day of full airlines with everyone bringing all sorts of luggage with them rather than checking bags, being able to enter right behind first class gives assurance you have a place for your bag. We do not abuse the bag rules: one in the overhead and one under the seat. Flying home from London, we had just the one under the seat, the other two were checked.
We stayed the night before at the Airport Hilton, using points rather than money. Ah, that means free. Because Miss Platinum is also Miss Diamond, we were also upgraded to the executive floor, which means free snacks (sufficient to be called a meal) and drinks, including a wide variety of alcohol. Again, this privilege was not abused, limiting ourselves to one drink each. Breakfast the next morning was included. For anyone who has stayed at an airport hotel in London, this was a minimum of $300 savings, not to mention being shown a better attitude.
There are other perks I won't go into, but after three weeks of heavy exercise, I was happy to be pampered on my way home.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Reminder: This running commentary starts with the first entry in October.
One way to ruin a perfectly good cycling holiday is to ignore daily hygiene. In particular: not washing your shorts and jersey between wearings. For this three week journey I packed three cycling sets and nine envelopes of Tide (designed for individual sink-washings). My plan was to wash every other day, just in case they needed two nights to dry. That was mistake #1. It should have been eighteen Tides and every night wash the smelly clothing.
Every traveler knows when you hand wash, you rinse thoroughly (maybe two or three rinses) to remove detergent residue, wring out the clothes, wrap them in a towel and wring and blot some more, then hang them up where they can have air circulating, preferably warm air. First, you do this AFTER you shower and clean yourself up. Mistake #2 was having three sets to wash in Moffat, our rest-day town. I washed immediately upon arrival, it took an hour. At the end, all four towels were quite wet, to the extent that they never dried out. My clothes did, but I had to skip a shower the next day for want of a dry towel. Ok, I could have used a sheet, so maybe I need more experience in this area.
Mistake #3 was not implementing my first idea of bringing the miracle rag I use to dry the car when I wash it. You know, the cloth that absorbs gallons of water just by being in the vicinity. If I do any more of these hand-wash-in-the-sink trips, I'll have a large one in a ziplock bag in the suitcase.
If you are not a cyclist, trust me when I say an ingrown hair or similar inflammation, in a sensitive area that makes contact with the saddle, makes for an extremely uncomfortable ride and needs multiple days to rectify. Take all precautions to prevent it in the first place: use a moisture barrier, good hygiene, and good quality shorts. Note: I had no such inflammations to detract from my enjoyment.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Or words to that effect. It was not by accident that I scheduled my annual physical for the week after returning from the UK. This morning I found that in addition to losing three pounds of (mostly) abdominal fat, my resting heart rate was 4 beats lower, and blood pressure registered a very nice 107/69. Later this week I'll get the results of blood and urine tests, which I won't share unless there is a huge adverse surprise. But I suspect my cholesterol will also decrease.
As those (like Lyn) who saw me eschew the greens (and especially the various colors of bell peppers and cucumbers) and ingest an unbalanced number of steak and ale pies, can attest, my eating habits for the last month left a lot to be desired. However, at no time did I feel tired or run-down in an unhealthy sort of way. But that was only short-term, I am now back to eating fruits and vegetables. I don't think I can hold down my weight more than another month, then it will creep back to normal (hopefully no more than 150).
I now have some heart-rate statistics from the trip. Surprisingly, even on the most strenuous days, the average heart rate did not exceed 113 (67% of max). But when it went up, it was in the 90-95% range. Conclusion: you don't have to spend enormous amounts of time in Zone 4 or 5, but you do have to spend multiple short bouts there in order to achieve a training effect. Of course, I already knew that from Chris Carmichael and Sally Edwards.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Reminder: Start reading entries at the beginning of October; this is a running commentary as random thoughts come to mind.
The logistics of getting my custom titanium bike to Land's End seemed extremely complicated as I planned the adventure. For about the same expenditure, I could refurbish the components on Kurt's (son and dtr-in-law who live in England) old bike, thus benefitting both of us. Thus he now has Ultegra throughout, with 12-27 cogs and a triple crank set. I did Alpe d'Huez in a 12-25 so that seemed sufficient. As he went about evaluating the upgrades, Kurt determined new wheels were in order and funded them himself. Even better, he commissioned a custom wheelset of Bontrager wheels with 36 heavy-duty spokes and 28cm Bontrager tires. To them I added Stop-Flat, a polyurethane liner that fits between the tire and tube. BTW, not even a hint of a flat and I only aired the tires twice in three weeks.
Because I was in the UK, I wanted fenders (mud guards) and because of the touring aspect, a rear rack rather than the Camelbak I usually use. Kurt also supplied the rack pack, an invaluable accessory, as it turned out, due to the many in-travel clothes changes required because of the changing weather.
Albeit a tad heavy relative to what I am used to, the bike rode quite comfortably. Some of the roads had deteriorated to the extent of being extremely rough, but I never worried about equipment failure. Someone asked me about my speed (fast) downhill and my response was you had to trust that everything would work as designed. "Always buy the best, you will never be disappointed."
Having the proper clothes and bike allowed me to concentrate on the cycling and scenery. Two prime reasons this trip was so successful. Thanks, Kurt.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Not being a stranger to weather in the UK, my expectation for twenty days of riding was to be wet for ten of them. And having a frigid first trip to Inverness (previous to this ride, the most north I had been in Scotland), I anticipated being cold and wet along the northern coast. Hence, my luggage included wet weather gear (jacket, pants, helmet cover, shoe covers) and cold gear (tights, arm warmers, silk undershirt). In case we encountered sunshine, I also had a tube of 50 SPF sunblock. The most important article in my riding arsenal was the the Chamois Butt'r. When spending long hours in the saddle, it is important to protect your skin from excess moisture, vulgarly described as "greasing up." Hygiene is likewise necessary
For this ride, we were fortunate in the extreme. Only one day did it rain from start to finish. Two other days were wet in the morning and no precipitation in the afternoon. The clouds made for some dramatic scenery but drab pictures. If anybody in the group missed seeing my legs the first two days, then they had to wait until the last one, because all of the other days I wore either tights or rain pants. Only a few days were in just the jersey, usually it was accompanied by the wind jacket (warm) or rain jacket (cold wind protection).
I posted this entry to emphasize the point that you should have the proper clothing available when you take a cycling vacation. Don't "tough it out" and make yourself miserable because you didn't bring a good selection. Even though I dislike riding in the rain and detest a heavy headwind, neither of these obstacles caused more than mild irritation because I had the right gear. Plus, it feels so good when you stop. And, a pint of Guiness and a Steak & Ale pie smoothes away ruffled feathers.


Now it can be told: I spent the last month in Great Britain, cycling from the southwest corner of England to the northeast corner of Scotland, with a few miles in Wales. Actual mileage was 1265 for September and even though I only had a few cokes, there were quite a few Guiness's and various bitters and lagers. I managed to lose a couple more pounds and really look lean, especially the glutes. In the coming weeks, as things come to mind and I get caught up from being gone so long, I'll be posting happenings of the three weeks of riding. But for now let me say that for ALL of my cycling forays, this one was the most challenging.

If you do a search engine on Land's End to John O'Groats you can find endless writings by folks like me. And we all say the same thing: the hills of Cornwall and Devon are devilish (or similar words). Here is my take: once they were behind us, we no longer blinked at climbs less than 15%, mere bumps in the road. In the States, the reward for a hard climb is usually a screaming descent. Because we were on small country lanes (10 feet wide with 8 foot vine covered walls on each side), the road surface was deteriorated asphalt, sometimes with grass growing in the middle of two wheel-tracks, twisting blind corners, with just enough vehicle traffic to hamper any speed. Each day I had to clean my rims to remove the brake-pad residue. My hands were sore from braking ALL THE WAY DOWN the @&%#*! hill.

Several years ago, cycling with friends in California, I experienced wind strong enough to blow the bike parallel to the ground when Byran got off, with only one hand on the handlebars. I love telling that story. Now I have another: seven and a half hours of cycling (not counting the one hour lunch) to go 52 miles. Ultra-marathoners can run that in less time!

Oh, yeah! I loved every minute of it. Come back soon, this is a fun tale to tell.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


The picture shows 146.2 because the camera weighs 2 tenths of a pound. Therefore, as of this morning, I have met my goal weight. But, as we all know, keeping it off is the real challenge. My plan for September is to ride 1,000 miles and drop soft drinks from my diet. Since I usually only drink one a day, this is more of a health issue than weight. Check back in October for details of how my month went.
For my friends who completed the Hotter'n Hell 100, congratulations! I really don't miss doing that. It was fun and exciting and gave me an annual goal, but now I like 65 miles as my standard. I'll just display my 10 pins and sit back and reminisce.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Ok, you'll find out soon enough this post has nothing to do with Lance. I agreed to come to a booksigning at The Book Mine in Leadville, mainly so I could join in the excitement surrounding this year's bike race. At the time, both Lance and Levi were going to be there along with a humongous crowd of bicycle enthusiasts. This seemed like a great place for an author with a book about bicycling. And, the bookstore was at the corner of the start/finish line.
Plan A called for me to drop off my display stuff on Friday afternoon, then wander about town and have dinner and drop into a few drinking establishments to mingle. My booksigning was scheduled for noon to whenever-the-crowd-drops, so I could also absorb the excitment of the morning crowd. This seemed like way too much fun.
Plan B came into play when I couldn't find a room in Leadville and the closest I could get was in Buena Vista, about 35 miles south. Scratch the after-dinner beers. Matter of fact, scratch the dinner in Leadville. In truth, the only part of Plan A that moved to B was dropping off my display stuff. Check-in time in Buena Vista was 3pm. Leadville was cold and rainy and not too many folks were out-and-about, so I went down the mountain much earlier than planned. Once there, I stayed. It was about ten degrees warmer and no rain. I ate at Quincy's and had a beer with dinner.
I really hadn't planned to drive up and see the start, but I awoke early, dressed, and drove to Leadville. My mountain bike was in the Tribute, in case I had to park so far away from the bookstore that walking would be a chore. However, I found a spot about four blocks from the start. As I locked the car and started walking, I saw a rider frantically opening his car and dragging out a rain jacket. Due to his actions I asked how long to the start, and he said "five minutes." Oh! I upped my leisurely pace and ran a block, getting to the start line with a minute to spare. Just enough time to drag out my camera, get a photo spot (but behind two rows of folks), and snap as the leaders rolled out. Unfortunately, my camera focused on the back of the heads in the first row, so while Lance and Dave and the whole front line are in the picture, they are all blurred. Phooey.
Race started, we had about six hours to kill before an estimated return. It was 38 degrees and damp. After all 1400 riders had departed I wandered by the bookstore, which had opened early. Carol, the owner, had an urn of free coffee and some folks were taking advantage of it, as did I. Long story short: I sold three books before 7am.
Emboldened by this early success, I hung around inside the bookstore talking to patrons. Around 9am I went for breakfast and dawdled as much as I could. It was still cold and wet and I had minimal cold weather clothing (enough, as long as I didn't stay out too long). Around this time the racers were encountering a bit of sleet. Since I didn't have a motel room to return to, I went back to the book store, and just stayed for another five hours.
Early talk had been that with optimal weather and racing conditions, the winning time might beat six hours. With the rain, sleet, and cold I expected six and a quarter, but Lance came across in 6:28, about a half an hour ahead of six time winner Dave Wiens. I had a great view of the finish, if somewhat distant, right out of the bookstore front door. Again, I took a picture of Lance finishing, but even with the telephoto plus enlarging on the computer, all you see is the fuzzy microphone thrust in his face.
So, I can say I was there, I saw Lance, and the beginning and end of the race. If anyone is considering going next year here is your Plan: Reserve a room early; be at the top of the first rise so you can catch the leaders plus the long peloton of racers and the town in your picture; then get in your car and drive to the Columbine climb, or one of the other mid-race viewing spots;then drive back for the finish. All of the locals tell me bad weather and the Leadville races go together. Be prepared for the worst.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I'll just hit the high spots, use your imagination to fill in details. Last month I signed up for the ITT (Individual Time Trial) in Castroville, a distance of 20km. At the time my training consisted of one (1) 10km practice. I was able to get in four practice runs at 20km distance. A week before the race, I was invited to join a team (of four) for the Team Time Trial. This is 40km. I prayed I could complete it, since practice was out of the question.
The ITT start time of 7:17am meant warming up in the dark, done mostly on the trainer. The course was out and back, generally flat, with 30 second intervals between riders. I was real pleased with my gear selection, feeling I maximized my speed by being in the proper gear. We had a wind coming back, but this early in the morning it didn't seem to hamper me. My perfect-fit Felt bike with the Zipp wheels ran smoothly and I managed second place in my age group, 4 seconds off earning a jersey. Average speed 23.0 with a max of 31.9.
In the afternoon we held a short team practice, just to get the feel of riding together. The next morning we had a late start, 9:47. The wind was stiff, mostly at our backs for the first 10km, then we did some turns and needed to eschelon, and at the turn-around our speed dropped considerably. With about 3km to go, I fell off the pace, but you only needed three to get a time. I was about 15 seconds back. We finished third, but second place didn't receive medals since 75% were from out of state. Average speed 22.1 with a max of 35.9.
We found a great place to eat, the Castroville Cafe, superior food and service. BYOB. Marilane wandered shops and found a pair of pants that previously had eluded her and some excellent cheese and fudge.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I'll be in Leadville for the mountain bike race of the year, mainly because Lance (and probably a few other notables) will be there. But the only cycling I'll do is from the parking spot to the Bookmine book store, for a Meet-the-Author and booksigning of Bicycle Journeys with Jerry. I'm taking my copy of Bobke II, in case Bob Roll comes by, and hopefully get his autograph. I can't find my Lance book, I think I lent it to someone.
You may have noticed I didn't do my monthly weigh-in picture last month (or this month for that matter). Remember, my goal was 2 pounds a month or 146 by October, whichever came first. In June, the end-of-month goal was 148.8 and I actually had reached it on June 10th. But then I went on our fabulous vacation to Georgia. The heavy exercise undertaken in Georgia was offset+ by good food and drink, and I had a lot going on, so skipped writing about the weight gain (three pounds). This morning I weighed in at 149.2. I have been catching grief about the monthly camera shot, so will only do one sometime in October.
I finally got around to cleaning the mountain bike, from the Mickelson Trail trip in May. Unlike the Katy Trail, when we got caught in a downpour on the last day and the bike got filthy, except for the chain, it really was more of a wipe-down. It took about a half-hour to release the quick-release link and take the chain off to give it a proper cleaning and relube.
Exciting activities are coming up, check back in 10 days.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I think the the only way to secure accurate gradient information on Brasstown Bald, Spur 180, is to put out a surveyor and assistant at each tenth of a mile and record the result. There are lots of first person accounts on the internet, but too much variation. The average grade is somewhere between 10 and 12 percent, and 2/10 into it is a 16% grade and 5/10 has the first 20% ramp. "The wall" comes around 1.5 and could be as low as 21% or high as 26% depending on whose data you want to use. I saw 24% on my Garmin 305 this year, and 24% on my Garmin Forerunner 201 in previous years, so I'm comfortable using that figure. If it really is only 22%, it's still steep, especially after a mile and a half of hard climbing. There is another 16% ramp slightly over 2 miles. One report has percentages every .05 but that gets skewed. You can tell when you see the 45% on one leg. Of course, that might be correct if you take that right-hand bend on the inside, because for about twenty feet it is real steep. If you take the outside, you miss about half the climb.
The first year we did this, we got a ride to the top of Wolf Pen Gap, then let gravity take us, generally, about eight miles, or to the bottom of the climb up to Spur 180. The climb turned out to be about five miles of hard labor, robbing us of a lot of leg and cardio strength.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The old saw about someone who keeps doing the same thing but expects different results being crazy really doesn't apply to me. I keep trying new things, but the results are the same. I just returned from a fabulous trip to the north Georgia mountains, including my annual assault of Brasstown Bald. I had great weather (a tad humid) and a week of riding Wolf Pen Gap, Neel's Gap, Woody Gap, and some others I can't recall at the moment. When I wasn't riding, I was with family hiking the AT (Appalachian Trail). The switch to a triple gave me a couple of additional gears and my confidence level was high. Brasstown Bald starts you out with a 20% ramp (ok, maybe a quarter mile into it) just to get your heart rate moving. Most of the almost three miles I saw 16%-18% and only once for a short period did it drop to a single digit. But then came the wall (24+%). Once again this year my heart rate was 10-14 beats short of max but I couldn't access them and had to stop and let it drop back to the 80% range. At least I didn't have to walk any, just got back on the bike and trudged up. The two stops were only about 30 seconds long. It took slightly less than (because I didn't stop the computer immediately) 33 minutes 58 seconds to make the climb; 4 minutes and 35 seconds to make the descent; 5 minutes 5 seconds to decend in my car.

I was looking forward to the cool graphics my Garmin gives. Bummer! When the whole ride is uphill, the graph is more or less a straight (angled up, but straightish) line from 3000 feet to 4338 over 2.45 miles. When I do my "hill" ride at home, the line spikes when I hit the hills, but the only spike on this graph is my heart rate.

There is a lot more to tell, some of it will be posted here, some at BudgetTravel.com and of course family and friends will have the full narrative and pictures of the whole trip.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Once again I had to forego the usual Sunday ride with the Austin Flyers to attend grandson, John's, 5th birthday celebration at noon in College Station. That is not to say I didn't get a ride in. I left the house (driving) at 5:45am and by 6:05am started the 360 Loop ride. This is the same 42 mile ride where I lost 10 minutes (see previous post) for some unexplained reason. Today I felt smooth and strong and was able to spin up the hills with relative ease, including Steiner Ranch. But...... While my time was good, within 4 minutes of my alltime best, I thought it should have been better. Once home and showered and driving east, I had time to disect the ride and all the variables that go into what makes some rides faster than others. After tossing out a lot of reasons, it suddenly came upon me that I had changed equipment! Wait, that's not true, it wasn't a Eureka!-moment at all.
I crested Steiner and passed 2222 as I cruised down 620. A young woman on a bike merged in behind me and I said "hi" but didn't slow down to chat. I held 23-26mph for several miles but got stopped at a light. Only 15 seconds, but she had stopped behind me so we exchanged a few pleasantries. She had just started her ride, I was two hours into mine. Green! I took off and again powered up to 26mph and a mile later turned onto Anderson Mill, and into a slight headwind. With my speed dropped to 20mph, still good, I saw in my mirror the rider behind, inexorably catching up and passing me. She was folded nicely into her aerobars and had a quick cadence.
So, as I drove to College Station, I realized my very best time occurred when I had aerobars and regular chain rings (I'm in a compact at the moment). It wasn't that my slow speed cut into the time, it was the lack of high-end speed. Also, the previous computer paused when I stopped, and although I knew both the overall time and saddle time, I only recorded saddle time. Now, my current computer pauses. Next month I'll re-install the aerobars and have a new drive-train. And, yes, I'll be ready to set a new pr.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Like, political spin. Can I count my mountain bike rides on rail-trails as double my road miles? After all, they take lots more energy. I got around to reading Ben's Blog, and realized I hadn't posted my May mileage. As of the 18th I had 456 miles. Then we hit the road for the Dakotas. I managed to find trails in Wichita, Kansas; Omaha, Nebraska; Pierre, South Dakota; and Medora, North Dakota. Those were after driving all day, and in addition to the Mickelson Trail. In all, my bike computer registered 174 miles. Now, if I could count that as 348, I would be in range of my goal....
I actually tracked daily mileage on my Garmin Forerunner 201, and felt no need to write down the dailies, since I could recall them on the 201 when I got home. Unbelievably, the last ride, which took very little effort, just sitting on the bike from Independence Pass (12,095 ft) seemed to have done something to it. The Garmin help folks at least got it to where I can turn it off (by doing a Master Reset), but turning it on takes pushing the Enter button instead of Power, and none of the buttons work. I planned on using this hiking, but it won't be back in time. Oh, Well.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Or, why I will be in Leadville for the 100 mile mountain bike race. A little background: my cycling friends from California and Oregon did a great adventure in Utah. California went home, but Oregon then met up in Twin Lakes, Colorado with another cycling friend from Denver. Meanwhile, Marilane and I were finishing our own adventures in the Dakotas and stopping by Denver to meet other cycling friends for a few hours. We added a couple of days to our vacation and drove over to Twin Lakes to spend some time with our other friends, plus see some fabulous scenery.
The closest town to Twin Lakes is Leadville, about a half hour away. We drove through there on the way from Denver, but our intention was to leave Sunday morning early and go in the opposite direction, not seeing Leadville again (probably ever). Now comes the God part. The website for the church in Leadville posted a Mass at 4pm Saturday. Great! We could go to mass, then have dinner. Apparently, that mass time was cancelled last year and the website never updated. Thus we had time on our hands before eating.
Down the street from church is a book store, the Book Mine. I had copies of my book, although left them at the motel. Since we were there, I took a bookmark and went in to try to sell a few copies. More precisely, to induce the owner to take them on consignment.
Owner Carol Hill was very congenial and we had a good conversation, plus an agreement to take the books on consignment. Part of that conversation included the Leadville 100 MTB race, which coincidentally starts right in front of the bookstore! Carol invited (perhaps not a real invitation, but I interpreted it as one) me back in August to do a Meet-the-Author presentation. Austin to Leadville is a long way to go, but we deliberated while driving back to Twin Lakes to pick up the books and deliver them. Who are we to ignore Divine Intervention! Marilane had the opportunity to browse the whole store and complimented Ms. Hill on the outstanding selection and inventory. So, if in Leadville, make it a point to stop by and by all means, mention this post.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Close enough. I actually hit the goal (150.6) mid-month, but then we took the trip to the Dakotas and I didn't know what eating away from home for two weeks would do to me. This was a dual-purpose vacation: me to ride the Mickelson Trail and Marilane to visit additional state capitols in her quest for all 50. We captured four. Details in upcoming posts, but the Mickelson Trail runs from Deadwood to Edgemont, South Dakota and even though it is a rail-trail, the riding was quite strenuous. So much so, I ran out of gears on one particular stretch from Deadwood to Rochford. Since I was on my suspended mountain bike, that means I used up some really low gears. To be more precise, I ran out of heart-rate rather than leg strength. Somehow I mixed up my heart rate monitor and strap, bringing the wrong strap for the monitor, so I can't say if I set a new max, but my perceived exertion was a 10.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


As posted earlier, May has been a very productive month in terms of cycling miles. Yesterday I exceeded 400 miles for the month and looked forward to clocking in another 31 today. Had I slept well, gotten up at 5:30am and muddled through coffee and breakfast and been ready to ride at 7:00, no doubt that is what would have happened. But I didn't. When I was ready at 8:00, a study of the radar indicated a thunderstorm would hit Round Rock before I could get back. Generally, this decision is a no-brainer. But I found myself debating if I could maybe really get it in, or maybe cut it short a few miles, or maybe.... And the reason my thoughts ran in that direction is simply that I wanted to post more miles. How silly! Anyhow, I ended up riding in the kitchen and was halfway through when the sky opened up and dropped a bunch of rain. My Carmichael workout (in the kitchen) is an integral part of my time-trial training, so the trade-off was not a trade-down. Actually the workout allows me some great stretching in the living room immediately after. So, I'm happy with myself that I didn't let an arbitrary goal (850 miles/month) lure me into a poor decision. And that is today's lesson: be flexible (or, more precisely, don't be rigid) when it comes to paths that achieve your goals.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


It's been almost a year since I last rode the 360 Loop that used to be my Sunday morning staple when training to ride coast to coast. This is 360, Bee Cave, 620, and back to my car through Balcones for a total of 42 miles and seven significant climbs. I wanted to be home early so left at 6:20am and was riding by 6:45am. I'm still not pushing the heart rate, trying to stay in the 80% range, plus the stiff wind was in my face for the first hour, but when I turned onto Bee Cave Rd, my time matched my average. Now, with the wind helping, I began cranking the big ring. Apparently I went to sleep somewhere in the next half hour, because when I looked at the clock at Lake Travis HS, I had lost ten minutes. What should have taken 30 minutes took 40, and with the wind at my back, my only explanation is aliens abducted me, used my body for experimentation, then erased my memory. Riding 620 to the dam and up to Steiner Ranch didn't stress the heart rate, and I had two extra gears at the end, but I couldn't seem to generate the speed necessary to make up any time. At least I didn't lose any more. It was a fine workout but I'll pay more attention to low flying aircraft and/or vans parked by the side of the road.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Here it is the 5th of May and I have already surpassed last month's mileage. I keep reading Ben's blog (and all the others) and all the races he is doing, but all I do is train. I plan to get faster and to find some races, but right now I'm happy just putting in miles and enjoying getting out on the country roads. The wind is still stiff, but otherwise the weather is ok. On my ride this morning, my upper cogs really showed a dislike to my chain, so I took it in for a "second opinion" as to the reason. I was hoping it would just be a new chain, but the diagnosis was the chain was shot, and I needed a new set of cogs. I was destroying my compact rings. Well, as it happens, last month I purchased a new 9 cog Ultegra, with the intent of switching my Zipps from the tt bike when race time came around. Now I have a new chain and will install it and the cogs later this evening.
The reminder for this post is to pay attention to your chain. A stretched one can ruin cogs and chain rings as it rattles through.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


In the eight month hiatus of my cadence counter, my ability to perceive how fast I pedaled deteriorated. I know, all you really have to do is count for ten seconds and multiply by six. I do this all the time when riding in the kitchen and my internal counter matches just fine, and I run 90rpm like clockwork. On the bike this morning, my original goal was to stay between 130-135 bpm, or just under the 80% of max heart rate. But I was slightly alarmed that 80rpm felt like racing a time trial, so I made 80rpm my priority, with the heart rate goal secondary.

The multiple windows of the 305 allowed me to have a controlled ride, even in the face of another day of a stiff southwesterly wind. I ended up 31 miles in 15.3 mph and an average rpm of 79 and average heart rate of 122. Since this counted the rest stop of 90 seconds and some downhills against the wind, I felt all goals were met.

Apparently, I have been pounding a bigger gear with less cadence in my rides. While this type of riding has a place in training, spinning faster in a smaller gear is much more gentle to your knees, and what I need to be doing on my long rides. The 305 will help me stay on track.


The results for the month are unwanted but not unexpected. A ten day vacation and subsequent drop of mileage to 174 created the setback. Poor cycling weather was also a component. We shall see what adversities await in May, or shall we term that "opportunities to overcome."

The technological neanderthals have a few new toys in the household. Marilane (navigator par excellence) now has a Tomtom to assist her in guiding us (mainly me) on our journeys. It's maiden voyage was our drive to Maryland, and it received an A+ on our side-trip to New Orleans, putting us right at the motel.

Thursday I opened the box on a Garmin Edge 305 and slapped it on the bike. I now have more data than I know what to do with. I did my hill workout yesterday and was finally able to see the grades on the readout in addition to the heart rate. 22 and 23 flashed briefly on a couple of ramps, and I saw 20 for longer than I wanted. Being able to display so many windows is great!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


TS Eliot was not referring to cycling, but this year the words fit perfectly. With only a few days left, and the relentless wind not abating, April needs to be forgotten. Mileage is down and weight is up. It's best to look forward to May. However, April was not without bright spots. We drove to Frederick, Maryland in excellent weather, visited grandkids (and their parents), and made a few meet-the-author presentations. Tuesday my first talk was to the third graders at Orchard Grove Elementary School. That went well, and I was asked to come back on Thursday to repeat to the fourth and fifth graders. In all, at Orchard Grove, I made six presentations to fourteen classes of bright, inquisitive, well-behaved students. Also on Tuesday evening, we drove over to Brunswick, Md (located on the C&O Canal, part of my Pittsburg to DC ride) and presented at the library.
I brought my bike as both a prop for my talks and to ride. However, the planned four days of riding was reduced to one day, and that only half of what I anticipated. We managed to squeeze in two days of hiking, so exercise was not completely abandoned. Come on May!

Sunday, April 5, 2009


The main one is "wind!" I am tired of being battered by the relentless wind. I don't enjoy a ride, even a group ride, when having to fight the whole way (or, precisely, half the way if it's out-and-back) in a really low gear, going oh-so-much slower given the effort you are making. Naturally, I am talking about casual rides, not races. For a race or tt, I might whine a bit, but suck it up since everyone else is in the same boat.

The other one is "cold" in association with wind. The other day I bagged it when I hit the stiff north wind. I did the same today. Maybe last month I might have dragged my body downtown and joined the Flyers and hidden behind some big guy. But I've had it and will wait for better weather. Judging by the forecast, that might be next week, not this one. Today I spent lots of minutes stretching, doing abdominals, yoga, and re-acquainting myself to my rollers.

Back before I had a stationary trainer, while training for my coast-to-coast ride, I spent a lot of time on the rollers. I still can't ride with no hands, but after a minute or so of warming up today, I keep the wheel right in the middle as I went up and down the cadence. Rollers make you a better peddler because if you aren't even on both sides, your wheel moves to the side. A ten-inch slide might sling you off the rollers.

Sliding off the rollers has never happened to me. However, I have a short tale: I first set the rollers up in the garage, with a wall on my right. That would prevent my going right and all I had to do was protect against going left. All went well the first couple of times and I was getting the hang of it. So much so I let my brain wander. At the end of the workout I was ready to quit so I put on the brakes. Duh! Too Late, my weight listed left and I was clipped in too tightly. Big bruise on the left hip (and ego). Thereafter, the rollers were set up next to my Mazda pick-up where I could actually grab something. I have never touched the brakes again on the rollers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bringing you up-to-date statistically: still on schedule with the weight, managed 305 miles in a month that included lots of poor weather plus the weekend of races and time trialing, only three rides in the kitchen and three tt practices. These last were important, but don't add a lot of miles. On a good note, another short ride was my "hill" ride of 19 miles. But it includes eight climbs and is quite strenuous. I will now be doing this once a week.

Yesterday I intended to do a long ride. Funny how when you are not in a routine everything seems to take longer. It took a half an hour to get my act together and leave the driveway. Two minutes and less than half a mile later I did a U-turn and came home. No, I hadn't forgotten anything. The wind was about 25mph out of the north and even though I had on tights and windbreaker, it didn't feel good and I packed it in. Dang! That would have made the mileage look a little better.

So I rode out this morning, feeling smooth and powerful. Duh! Just about anybody with a 25mph wind at their back will feel good. Well, this time the wind came out of the south. I still had tights and windbreaker. The difference in days is mainly my 60 mile ride goes 15 miles north to start, then 15 miles east, turn around 15 miles west, then 15 miles south (generally). Today I could get three-quarters the route completed before having to face the wind. A pleasant ride, albeit slower than normal. I saw one other cyclist and only a couple of cars.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Continuing the story. I picked up my new tt bike on Friday afternoon. I'm not saying Jack dropped everything to get me ready, because it didn't look like any other customers suffered from lack of attention, but I took up a lot of his time. Got the bike home and rode it around the loop a couple of times. Saturday morning I drove to San Antonio and warmed up for the first endeavor: 10km time trial. I warmed up on the Roark, then unveiled the Felt and took it for a short spin. Everyone else was shaking their head about the maiden ride being in competition, but I was quite confident of the fit plus the wind was in my face for the tough corner, so I had no worries about over-cooking it.
The bike worked flawlessly and was so easy to ride. The motor (me) had to come up for air toward the end, but I was able to stay on the bars 95% of the time without any neck problems. Oh yeah, my time, in spite of the stiff wind, was a minute faster than last year and about a minute faster than the second place finisher.
I had time to switch the front wheel to the Roark as I got ready for the 20k race. My friend Bill had come in 3rd in the tt, but I told him we would start quick, get a gap, and work hard for a lap, then relax the rest of the way and battle on the last (5th) lap. It worked to perfection. I gapped him on the last lap, but couldn't hold the lead going downhill into the really stiff wind. However, he took the lead heading into the finish and I had a better gear and the Zipp front wheel to get me enough acceleration to take him at the end. Two golds.
I drove home, had dinner, a soak in the tub, and went to bed. Up at 4:30 with a 5:45 departure back to San Antonio for the first race of the morning: 5km tt. This was an out-and-back, with two hills, one of which was pretty long. My muscles were tight and I began wondering how long lactic acid could stay in them. Anyhow, once again I cut a large chunk of time from my previous best and came in first.
I had no business entering the 40km race, especially when the fresh legs of Stanton and Tom showed up. They are faster even without 3 races behind me, so I knew only the bronze would be contested. At the start, they jumped and I jumped with them and within 200 yards we knew the others couldn't catch us. This would be a ten loop ride and I stayed with them for one loop before they left me. However, the lead we had built up on the first loop was sufficient to allow me to not have to push for the next nine.
I have no statistics for these rides. There wasn't time to get a computer on the tt bike, and when I switched wheels, there wasn't a magnet to activate the one on the Roark. I had taken my gps to at least give me some speed readout on the first day, but forgot to turn it off, so ran the battery down for the second day. I had my heart-rate monitor, but somehow forgot the strap, so that, too, was useless.
My head is dancing with the potential of the tt bike. Now I have to 1) Learn how to ride it and 2) Get in better shape, and perhaps get a coach. Oh, and find some races.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Ok, Ben, here it is. For those who can't read the logo, it is a Felt B2 Pro, with Zipp 808 rear and 404 front wheels. I picked it up today, rode it around the block twice, and will race it tomorrow. Naturally, it will take all summer to settle into it. I picked the Felt based almost entirely on the "exceeds expectations" help and attention given to me by the employees (and owner) of Jack and Adams bike shop in Austin. Two other bike shops were gracious in allowing me to test a Specialized Transition and Cervelo P3. I asked for a 54cm, they had one, and off I rode. Not Jack. I first stopped by 10 minutes before closing on Sunday, just to see if they would let me road-test a bike. Thomas said yes, come back tomorrow. He was busy when I returned, so Jack helped me. Before letting me take the bike, he had me do a quick fitting to be sure. Possibly because he is a tad taller than me and rides a 54cm gave him a clue that I was clueless. Two hours later, on a 52cm with lots of tinkering, I left the shop. I immediately went to my tt course but due to weather, could only give it a couple of quick runs, but knew right off that this bike fit like a glove and allowed me to utilize all of my power.

The next day I returned the bike, being greeted by name by Michelle, Thomas, and Jack. We discussed the B2 Pro because I wanted Zipp 808s. Ordered, delivered, and ready to pick up in a week. Again the meticulous fitting - it was perfect. Then Jack took it to the back and an hour later it was more perfect. I have no idea if the Transition or the Cervelo (if they had similar Zipps) or the Roark with 808 front and rear would be faster. Truthfully, don't care. I do know that the proper fit given to me by Jack already has made me feel stronger and faster. I'll find out tomorrow.

If you know you aren't cycling your best, you can either experiment with incremental changes here and there, or find someone who knows what they are doing and get it right the first time. And if you are in Austin and like personal attention, stop by Jack and Adams.


I just read the latest post by Grace. If you don't follow her yet, you should sign up and catch some of the interesting things happening in New York. The latest is about the 87 year old man who apparently was smoking while cycling, his nylon jacket (or jersey) caught fire and he died of his burns.
My next post title will mirror the one by Ben several months ago. However, I hope my racing experiences do not. I don't believe I'll be asking Ben for advice on tires anytime soon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Really good choices. That's what I have. I am in the market for a new time trial bike and due to certain circumstances, not fettered by cost considerations. So I am flitting from bike shop to bike shop trying out bikes. I contacted Griffen (my last tt bike) but they are in the process of being sold and are not taking new orders. I contacted Roark (my road bike is a Roark custom titanium that I dearly love) and they have worked up a quote. But, while waiting for that, I tried out a Specialized Transition (Ben highly touts his). Sorry Ben, it just didn't feel right. Then I took a Cervelo P3 out to my tt course and cut 12 seconds off my 5k time. Ooh, that was more like it. Then the weather turned cold and wet. However, I had a window of opportunity and took a Felt B2 out to the course. The road was dry, but I was miserably cold headed into a brisk north wind. Rain was minutes away. Even going into the wind, the bike felt good. When I turned around for a half mile sprint, with the wind at my back I comfortably tucked over the bars and chased down a police car. So fast that I scared myself going into a slight curve. The police car pulled over (I suspect to see if he could catch me speeding in the park) and I slowed down to the 30mph speed limit. I had room for a longer run, so bullied myself against the wind for a mile and a half, then enjoyed the return at super speed. So, this weekend I will weigh the carbon fiber against the titanium.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Enough of this weight stuff! I remember seeing Lance on one Tour de France mountain climb taking the outside lane around a switchback. Since pros cut corners all the time to save inches, this seemed out-of-character. However, switchbacks up mountains are canted toward the inside, some more than others. While you can save a few feet, you also have several degrees additional steepness to overcome, thus expending more energy. Also, if you cut the corner from the outside, you drop down (sometimes several feet) and have to re-climb that altitude. So, when given the opportunity, stay to the outside around the switchback, then slowly move to the center, then to the outside of the next switchback. Of course, in real-life non-racing cycling when the road is open to traffic, you should consider a compromise by just going to the center instead of all the way outside.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


There is a little known corollary to Einstein's theory, E=MC2, that states in any given population, all weight is constant. Therefore, for any weight lost by one person, another person or persons will gain it. Sometimes this lost weight only moves to a family member, but it could float over to a neighbor or halfway around the world. I know my wife cringes when she hears that I want to lose ten pounds.
There is another obscure theory (mine) which states that weight loss becomes more difficult after the full moon in October and less difficult after the full moon in March. Not quite drawn from thin air, this is based on our pre-historic ancestors who needed to put on weight to survive the harsh winter months.
Changing gears, so to speak, even with travel days and bad weather, I managed to get in 429.8 miles outside and four days cycling in the kitchen. I also had to deal with the trauma of backing over my time trial bike (see picture in previous post) and looking for a replacement.
I have time trial pictures of my trip to California posted on Flickr (there is a way to get a better link , but for now this will have to do) http://www.flickr.com/photos/acyclistpublishing/

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


For three of the last four years, my friend Byran comes from Portland and I leave Texas to spend a week with Ray, riding around Lompoc and taking in a few days of the Amgen Tour of California as it rolls through. In truth, we come for the camaraderie and cycling, but getting to watch the pros for a few seconds as they zip past is pretty exciting also. This year we drove up to Paso Robles and saw the sprint finish. I stationed myself about 200 yards from the end and have some good shots of Renshaw leading out Cavendish, with Boonen and Hushovd not being able to mount a challenge. In Solvang, pics of the leaders, and a pretty good one of Lance. But I got greedy and pushed the zoom when Levi came through and mostly have a close-up of his leg.
I used the down time before and after the tt to be the guest author at the Book Loft.
With all of the cold, wet weather around us, we managed to cycle dry (albeit chilly on occasion). With all the great cycling roads in the area, it is no wonder the pro teams spend quality training time around Solvang. It is also a great tourist town, so the distaff side won't become bored.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


A few more words about losing weight. The ounces were still dropping until suddenly I was up two and a half pounds! Losing weight is similar to cycling up a switch-back mountain: you don't want to give back any altitude (or weight loss) and have to climb it again (the subject of a later post). So I was distressed. Until I remembered that I had taken ibuprofen for a few days. I guess it also promotes fluid retention, because a few days later the unwanted pounds disappeared without any change by me. Halfway through the month, and on goal.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


In truth, I'm really not that (as expressed in the title) excited about making goal. Pleased that the plan is working, yes, but more concerned in the training overall. That fell off for a few days. January is all over but the shouting, so we shall concentrate on February. The first half of January saw some great cycling days, the last half more like real winter. I ended with 379.8 outside miles, four inside rides, and four trips to the gym to work the legs. I only did the one tt practice.

An auxiliary goal is to learn which buttons to push on my three bike computers. I acutally have four, but ride the mountain bike so rarely, I only have that for the mileage. The function buttons are different for each, and I find myself pushing into a set-up when I wanted average HR, or something similar. One I keep repeating is turning on the chime on my heart rate. That is so annoying.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


As I stepped off the scales this morning I was tempted to post my end-of-month total a few days early. Sunday I was on goal and today I am, but Monday and Tuesday clocked in a pound heavier. Since the goal is 2 pounds per month, that is a 50% increase. However, I am not into making my weight loss merely look good. It needs to be real and permanent (at least, for the next 9 months. Remember, I am not really overweight, just getting down to a race weight). Conventional wisdom advises not to weigh daily. My modified wisdom is to weigh daily, but don't take it to heart. What I look for is a general downward trend and ignore spikes, either up or down.
Besides my end-of-month weight loss, I also will post my monthly bike mileage. Outside miles took a big hit with the trip to Maryland and then rain and freezing rain these last few days. Of course, that allowed plenty of time to go to the gym and do weights and to ride in the kitchen. The rest of my whine will come late Saturday.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I did a Meet the Author presentation at the Middletown, Md library this past Wednesday night. Rather than the usual polite but disinterested half dozen people, I was surprised and flabbergasted by an astounding 37 lively, engaged, friendly folks who braved the elements and wedged themselves into a small space to hear me speak. Almost all did not cycle, but I was equally impressed by the guys who cycled in (ok, they were doing their after-work spin and stopped by). We are talking pitch dark and lower 20's with a nasty wind. Obviously, they are too hard-core for me (unless they end their workout with great libations). Just like on some of my bike rides, the presentation went well, but when over, I knew I could have done better. On the plane ride home, I mapped out the changes needed for improvement and have already begun implementation. One of the things I know, but couldn't do this time because I flew in, is bike equipment is fascinating. I took my jersey and shorts, but next time will go by car and take the shoes, helmet, and the bike itself. Remember, the book is intended to inspire and encourage people to take cycling vacations.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Six months or so ago, I agreed to make an author appearance in Middletown, Maryland. My daughter and family live there and she is a member of a book club that meets at the library. We didn't give much thought to the date, they meet on Wednesdays. The time has come. Earlier in the week, dire predictions as to how cold it would be on Inauguration Day (oh yeah, we hadn't thought about that either) had me thinking about my warmest cold weather gear, but apparently the sub-zero weather will only be in the mid-west. As of today, the forecast is for lower 20's. I can handle that without digging into my once-every-ten-year clothes. If the forecast is correct, the snow will have already fallen, so the airlines should be operating (maybe even on time). This trip is also my early excuse for the low mileage I will be posting at the end of the month. If the weather cooperates in Texas for the last week, maybe I can get some long miles in to at least make a reasonable total.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


My readers know that I advocate waiting for perfect conditions (or minimally, good) to undertake large increases in exercise. Today the weather warmed up, the wind died down, and I had no traffic in the park to disturb me. Now was the time to drag out the time-trial bike and start practicing. Generally, this is a once-a-week exercise. But I stop after State competition, last year in September, so almost four months have gone by since I last rode it. If you have never ridden a tt bike, the first thing everyone tells you is: "It is built for speed, not comfort." In my case, it is a pain-in-the-neck, literally. Those few centimeters you bend lower than your regular bike, trying to cheat the wind drag, makes you bend your (or, neck) back just a tad more in order to see where you are riding. This hurts! Between now and mid-March I will do what I can to increase the range of neck bend, and increase the tolerance to pain. Don't even ask why I do this, especially since I could ride my road bike with aero-bars and be quite comfortable, albeit slower. For short time trials like we have in Senior Games, it is only a matter of seconds. Besides, it looks so cool! The old adage: "boys and their toys" seems to be applicable here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


At least it did when I was working. The secret to success is to continue eating whatever it was that kept you at the same weight. However, on the weekend, skip a meal (like lunch) on Saturday and Sunday. Assume the skipped meal has a minimum of 750 calories so you skip 1500 calories per week, which is slightly less than half a pound. You can also substitute stuff for other stuff, and maybe save 100 calories a day to get you up to that half pound per week loss. That doesn't sound like a lot, and the only calories you count are what would have been in the skipped meal and the substitutions. It doesn't matter what you substitute, salad dressing is an easy choice. Or, if you drink sodas, just cut out one, or drink half as much. Drink a lot of water.
Now, I exercise a lot so I can't really increase it, but if you are sedentary, do something. The easiest is take a walk. Doesn't matter how fast or far (yet), but brisk is better than meandering, and stay gone for at least a half an hour. For those who can't walk because of physical limitations, try a stationary bicycle. Can't do that? OK, pick up a can of soup and start doing curls with it.
I thought I would have 10 pounds to lose, but it seems it creeped up to 12 while I wasn't looking. Check back at the end of the month to see if two of them have disappeared.