Friday, April 30, 2010


It seems old folks only talk about health issues. I'm not there yet, but it takes up more and more of my conversation. You see ads on TV all the time: sudden urges to go, etc. and advocating medication to shrink your prostate. My nighttimes were showing multiple trips to the bathroom, and on morning bike rides, the number of trees I needed to visit became ridiculous. So, I cut out caffeine. And, I cut out beer and a significant amount of other alcohol (except relapsing on the recent Natchez Trace trip). The result: sleep all night and zero tree stops on my three hour ride last Sunday (and other rides, this started three months ago).
I've found that coffee in the morning is more habit than anything, so three plunges of hazelnut into Starbucks decaf worked, and I only went through three days of headache and didn't have to try to break a 40 year routine. A bonus: coffee in the afternoon, something I previously avoided at all cost.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The Senior Games times are now posted, confirming what I already know: my 5k time trial preparation needs to be better. In the 5k I finished 12th of 33 riders overall. In the 10k, I finished 6th of 37 riders. Of the 37 riders, one was in my age group, so only 4 riders in the younger crowd were faster. My speed was actually faster in the 10k.
In the Natchez Trace ride, since we were tourists, my heart rate hardly ever topped 110 and a lot of times I saw it in the 85 bpm range. As a change of pace, I would drop to the largest gear and pedal along at 50 rpm.
Sunday on the 360 ride (42 miles) with Evelyn, I had to extend myself to keep up (again), and with the wind and hills, couldn't hold a high rpm, but the heart rate stayed mostly in the 130s for almost three hours.
Yesterday on my 30 mile ride in excellent weather, I concentrated on keeping high rpms. Most of the time it was 80 and higher, a lot of which exceeded 85. I finished with an average of 80, my highest ever, and my time was the fastest ever. Time is not necessarily a reflection of the ride, in that traffic and red lights come into play, but the average speed also was fastest.
Unfortunately my tt bike doesn't have a cadence counter, but I'll try a lower gear on a practice run to see what that does to the time.

Friday, April 23, 2010


This year's epic cycling adventure featured 442 miles of the Natchez Trace Scenic Byway from Natchez, Mississippi to near Nashville, Tennessee. This is a very smooth, 2-lane road without commercial traffic and a 50mph speed limit. However, motorhomes and travel trailers are allowed. I picked a south-north route because of the southern prevailing wind. As it turned out, we had a front/high pressure system come in and put a slight wind in our face for five out of the six days.

Cyclists Amy, Barry, Byran, Jerry, and Rick enjoyed excellent weather and took a zillion pictures, some of which are included here.

Somehow my precise mileage calculations had a few mistakes, leading to a long day of 88 miles rather than 81. This day also included about 30 miles of chipseal rather than the smooth surface we loved. We averaged 10mph overall (including stops) and except for the long day, finished in mid-afternoon.

Early April gave us peak wildflowers. The Dogwood and Black Locust trees were spectacular. Off the bikes, if you wandered the towns, the azaleas showed their best colors. We even managed to hit the cypress swamp right after the alligators appeared.
My suggestions: 1) Six days is just right, averaging a little over 70 per day. 2) Have a support vehicle. This allows flexibility in lodging and off-bike touring. We each took a turn driving, thus 5 days cycling. 3) Use for any and all help you need. Randy did an outstanding job in finding us lodging and giving food recommendations. 4) One caveat: this is not for inexperienced cyclists. The traffic around Tupelo and Jackson is heavy, and elsewhere the motorhomes and trailers, while mostly courteous, can come perilously close. Rick had one motorhome run him off the road and the same driver came very close to Amy (we found later when comparing notes).

I managed to cycle all six legs of the trip. Driving from the north the day before the official start, Marilane dropped me off outside Raymond and I cycled to Natchez. BTW, for that day, the prevailing wind blew in my face rather strongly.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Sad fact of life: you have to put a lot of miles "in the bank" if you want to compete well. Another truism, esoteric to Senior Games or any age-based racing: There is always a younger guy moving into your age category. So, I entered the San Antonio races hopeful but not brimming with confidence.
Saturday morning I drove the 120 miles to Texas Research Park, a great venue with good roads and no traffic. The bluebonnets were great. Warm-up went well and since this is the 6th time here, re-familiarizing myself with the course took minimal time. There is one 90+ degree turn at the bottom of a hill. The wind was up. Me and the wind do not get along.
My hope of winning went out the window when I saw Peter Leikisch. I would measure my accomplishment by holding his margin to under a minute in the 10k tt. Silver also, when a new member (Bill) moved into my category. The other guys I knew and was pretty sure I was faster.
They changed the course for the 10k: rather than twice around plus a bit, it was once around, then out and back. I liked the old way. Now we had three hills to climb and both downhills had the wind in my face. In any case, Bill started two minutes ahead of me, Peter two behind. After the first loop I saw Bill walking back, victim of a flat tire. I believe Peter beat me by 35 seconds.
The 20k race started about a half hour later. Peter skipped this one. Five laps. With this wind, once you open a gap on your competitors, it is very difficult for them to regain the pack. Me and Bill and Frank did that on the first lap, and we lost Frank on the second lap. Bill and I rotated for a lap, then he left me. Knowing I had second without a problem and no chance of first, I motored on at my own easy pace and cruised in with the silver.
Rather than stay overnight, I drove home and back the next morning. Warm-up went as well as expected, considering the drizzle and wet road conditions. No puncture this time, Bill won the 5k tt and Peter second, with me a distant third. However, I am interested in how we came in overall. I didn't hear a time faster than Bill's, so the younger guys were slower.
The 40k started an hour later. My legs couldn't respond well to any acceleration. I stayed with the pack for five laps (out of 10), then let them go. This is where the lack of training showed itself. I'll do better in the fall.
Placing nothwithstanding, I had fun. Check back in a couple of weeks to see how the fun increased.

Friday, April 2, 2010


I cannot find our copy of Connections, the book that chronicles how one thing impacted another through the centuries. But the book came to mind as I toiled through an ab workout. Some time ago, I posted advice on how I did my ab work. I can't find that either, so will repeat it in brief: During TV commercials, roll off the couch and do a specific action; sit-ups for instance. During the next break, roll off the couch and do crunches, the next hold your legs a couple inches off the floor, the next exercise the obliques. By the end of an hour show, you should have completed a full ab workout. That worked for me for years. Then...
We replaced furniture. In addition to a new couch (since it is new perhaps I should refer to it as a sofa) we obtained a nice, if large, coffee table. More importantly, in my opinion, I have a leather recliner. Not only do I no longer watch (the new) TV from the couch, the coffee table takes up my old exercise space. And, it is much more of a struggle to release from a recliner than simply rolling off the couch. It is soooooo easy to break an exercise habit.
I now have an exercise CD to encourage my ab work. I lost my time efficient method, but found a suitable replacement. I tried going to the gym and doing the ab class. Ouch! That is some serious punishment. I'll stick to the CD until a better alternative presents itself.