Friday, November 29, 2013


As regular readers know, I occasionally ruminate on the subject of health.  For instance, the theme of a previous post was that health was not an "either/or" but a continuum, with one end of the spectrum being excellent health and the other death.  Just because you are not ill does not mean you are healthy.
     The problem with hanging around too much with senior athletes, be they cyclists, runners, gym-rats, or swimmers, is that you form the opinion that you are "average."  Then you get jolted back to reality when you contact an actual average group of folks your age.  For the most part, I keep my elitism to myself, mainly because I feel like I'm extremely lucky to be where I am.  That doesn't keep unkind thoughts from running through my brain.  Why people choose to smoke, eat excessively or make really poor choices in food is beyond my comprehension.  When faced with certain ill-health, like heart disease or diabetes, why would they not choose to change their lifestyle to become more healthy??  Don't bother to give me the reasons, I don't want to hear them.
     Not long ago, a cycling friend broke her shoulder ('twould have been better had it been the collarbone).  She couldn't wait to get back cycling.  I recently visited a cycling buddy who fell (while cycling) and broke his arm and hip.  Foremost on his mind was how long it would be before he could get back on his bike.  Several times I posted about coming in second in the Texas Road Race Championships to a guy age 79.  First I was astounded, because when you pass 70 strength deteriorates and you really have to work hard to keep up.  But rather than grouse about being beat by an "old guy," I use him as my canary as to what still is ahead of me.
     I work at being healthy, perhaps overly so but I don't think so.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Saddle Mountain, Oregon
     But first, let's start at the beginning (not a James Michener start, but back aways).  My cycling buddy Amy booked a tour in Colorado earlier this year with a local tour company, Velo View.  She returned very enthusiastic about the ride and especially about the company.  I was happy for her, but except for Epic Rides, I book my own cycling vacations.  Last month she mentioned that they added some routes for 2014, one of which was Crater Lake, Oregon.  That got my attention, in that while I have cycled and hiked lots of Oregon, the closest I've gotten to Crater Lake was Bend.  It has been on my agenda for years.  I returned to their website and liked the route they have chosen and the itinerary in general, especially the price.  As soon as they opened it up for reservations, I signed up.
     That's the history.  In addition to paid tours, Velo View hosts local rides.  Yesterday they hosted a 58 mile ride starting at LBJ park near Stonewall.  This included the famous Willow City Loop.  It was a perfect opportunity for me to check out Velo View and how they ran an operation.  To share you any suspense, it exceeded my already high expectations.  One caveat, with my cataract surgery only a few days old, I was under doctors orders to take it easy.  Officially: not lift anything over twenty pounds or exert myself to the extent that I had to squint.  Cycling was ok, but no trying for any personal bests.
     The week before, cataract surgeries were a week apart, one on each eye, I cycled an easy 32 miles with light load and high cadence and did no damage to my recovery.  That was the plan when I signed up for yesterday.  Friday the weather was perfect; Saturday not so much.  With the temperature slightly above 65 degrees, I didn't feel the need for tights, but I listened between the lines of the weather forecast and concluded it would be windy.  I hate it when I'm right!  Meteorologists might have deemed it partly cloudy, but the sky remained grey the whole time.  The wind was out of the south, heavy enough to have the flags straight out.  Our route was generally north-south, so the first half we had a lot of help.
     Because I intended to take it easy, thus follow folks, I didn't bring the route directions nor did I review the general layout.  We had a good thirty cyclists in the group, but it thinned out pretty quickly.  I wasn't with the lead group, but ahead of the majority.  My heart-rate monitor had some difficulties, it being chilly enough, even with my wind jacket, to keep my skin dry.  Even so, I wasn't working hard, just letting the wind assist in getting up the hills.  When I did the RSVP, I estimated my speed to be 13-14mph.  The first hour came in right at 15mph.  The second hour held at 15mph.  It was during this time we hit Ranch Road 16.  This stretch includes a long downhill, and with the wind at our backs, I may have been one of the slowest at 45mph.
     Except for a few brief moments, I stuck to keeping my heart-rate in the 70-80% range.  But now we turned on to the Willow City Loop and for the most part, into the wind.  I say "we" but it was a group of about seven of us, loosely riding together.  The dreaded hill caused me to drop into my granny gear to keep me below 90% on the HR, and I spun on up the hill.  I only made a short break for half a Clif bar, and followed a different group out away from the SAG wagon.  They were faster than me.
     They were also faster than one other cyclist, George (as I found out later).  However, he had maybe fifty yards on me.  We missed a turn.  Several miles later we pulled over to discuss the next move and review the route directions (he had them).  Not knowing the area, we couldn't very well take a short cut to get us back on course (although now that I have seen a map, we could have), so we back-tracked.  All told, that cost us five miles and about a half hour.
     But Lady Luck smiled on us, and as we returned to the course, she sent Shannon (Velo View owner), who was leading one other rider.  As any good host and strong rider will do, Shannon broke wind for us.  This allowed my HR to drop about ten beats.  We had about 15 miles to go, and my energy stores were dropping quickly.  About 5 miles out, Shannon, after telling me what he was doing, accelerated to catch another rider to be sure he didn't miss the next turn.  That left me in the lead, breaking wind for the other two.  To end this quickly, all was well and we made it to the end without incident.
     But the wind really beat me up.  The whole body hurt.  My quads really extended themselves keeping up with Shannon, and were complaining vociferously.  They aren't this tight even after long races.  Fortunately, shortly after finishing we adjourned to  Pecan Street Brewing in Johnson City for much needed refreshment and social time.  They even had a veggie burger on the menu.  I'm taking Sunday off, giving my eyes a break and just stretching.
     About the wind: I never fight the wind.  Sometimes I fight just to keep upright, but when you are going into the wind, leave your ego elsewhere, accept your speed will drop a couple mph, gear down, and spin.  Me and the wind have a relationship, cycling or not.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


     Needless to say, I'm quite happy to have finished first in my two races.  However, that is only part of the story, in that at my age, the participant pool is quite small.  So I look to the Overall stats to see how my cycling is truly going.
     Only 9 women were faster than me, all of them quite a bit younger.  I didn't delve any further into that group.  Of the 184 men, from age 13 up, I finished 102.  No one older than me was faster.  There are lots of divisions, and two main ones: Mercxx (no aero equipment allowed) and Aero.  What follows are interesting/boring stats.
     Non-aero, from age 60: no one finished ahead of me.
     Non-aero, age 55-59: two were faster, 4 were slower
     Non-aero, age 50-54: 1 was faster, 9 were slower
     Non aero, age 45-49: 1 was faster, 4 were slower
     Non aero, age 40-44: 3 were faster, 5 were slower
     Non aero, age 30-39: 2 were faster, 5 were slower
     Non aero, age 20-29: 2 were faster, 1 was slower

     In the aero division, apples to apples so to speak, I didn't fare as well.  Of course, this is where the true time trialists participate.
     Ages 55 and up, 26 were faster than me and 11 were slower
     Ages 45-54, 24 were faster and 11 were slower
     Ages 20-44, 28 were faster and 19 were slower
In the interest of perspective, these young guys who were faster, were a whole lot faster. 
     It's fun to say I won my age group.  But there is always the caveat: I was only fastest of those who showed up to race.  When I see certain names a the start line, my expectations of where I finish start dropping (I saw none of them this year).  Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter because I do it for fun and fitness. 
      This challenging course provided an excellent cardio and muscle workout.  I'd give you my computer readouts, but on the ITT it decided to go walkabout, and gave me no speed or heart-rate information.  All I had was the time.  For the team time trial, I didn't have cadence.  As soon as I can see properly again (cataract surgery), I have a look at the set-up.

Monday, November 4, 2013


     For the past two years I've competed in the Individual Time Trial in Gruene.  The first year I placed 1st in my age group, and quite well overall.  Last year, I placed 2nd, being beaten by Dean.  Quite handily, I might add.  Last year, I think I peaked at the State Championships Road Race because I didn't have the same oomph needed in November.
This year I had added pressure to do well, in that Dean asked me to be his partner in the Two-Man Team Time Trial.  Several years ago, we were on the same five-man team that took gold at State.  But Dean and I go back to when I first began racing, 2004 in Temple.  There, in my first 5km time trial, Dean started 30 seconds behind me.  He caught me before I had gone halfway.  In the 10km time trial the next day, I held him off, again to halfway, but that at least was another two-plus miles.  He is a past national champion, and a perennial winner at State events. 
     But Dean is three years older than me.  When you pass 70, Mother Nature starts a more rapid deterioration process.  I've been getting closer and closer to Dean in the last few years, and this year came in first at College Station.  He didn't compete at the State Road Race Championships this year.  But my training in October this year was very good, and I felt confident going into Gruene.  I also had my secret weapon: acupuncture. 
     I discovered several years ago that acupuncture prior to racing allows me to dig deep and go longer than without it.  I suspect it has something to do with nervousness, but suffice to say that I am better with it.  This year at State, I did not have a treatment and am hypothesizing that I could have stayed with the pack if I had.  That is water over the dam and is long gone.
     The length of the ITT is 18.3 miles and the TTT is the same 18.3, then add additional miles up to 27.  Saturday afternoon, 3:50pm, with a brilliant blue sky and a stiff north wind, I started down River Road.  Generally flat with some undulations, I blazed down River Road with the wind at my back for ten miles.  Then came the first of many hills, this one 9% and .4 of a mile long.  More climbs awaited me, against the wind.  I felt pretty strong the whole way, and, as it turned out, finished ahead of Dean.
     Sunday our race started at 8:30am.  Daylight Savings time ended, giving us some sunshine.  The morning started at 42F degrees, and had risen to 50F by race time.  I had three layers on my chest, and wore tights.  I actually warmed up in the fitness room of the hotel before driving to the start line.  That worked the muscles loose, but did very little for my heart-rate.  A few more minutes before racing also didn't get much increase.  Dean allowed he would lead us out.
     Today the wind had shifted and was more or less in our face on River Road.  But we were clicking along quite well, more or less alternating in the lead position.  We overtook three teams that started ahead of us.  Then we hit THE hill.  Dean had some trouble with that.  For the next ten miles and most of the hills, Dean struggled.  It isn't that we weren't going fast, just not up to maximum.  Somewhere around the seventeen mile mark, we slowed just a tad to gather strength for the finish.  Then with five miles to go, Dean got his second wind.  Especially on the downhills.  I thought I was going fast leading him down, but on three or four occasions he whizzed past me, and I had to jump another ten rpms to keep up.  We kept it up all the way to the finish, with me alongside at the very end (timing stops when the second person hits the line). 
     As it turned out, we beat the second place team by about a minute and a half.  Without Dean pulling me the last five miles, that would have been us on the second step of the podium.

Monday, September 30, 2013


     Earlier, I posted on Facebook the stark results of my race: 3rd place, but losing to two really fast guys.  Of course, while factual, that is a misleading spin.  Here is the "rest of the story."
     On Saturday we recorded 4 inches of rain at our house, and assume they had a similar amount at Fort Hood, the site of our race.  There were still lingering showers on Sunday morning.  Fortunately for me, our race began at 1:15pm and by then we only had cloud cover and an occasional spritz.   I arrived at the start line, about ten minutes early, to check in.  Fred was there.  Fred had no problem beating me last year and looked in fine condition.  Richard was also there.  Richard has no problem beating me when we race, and fortunately he doesn't do time trials.  Jaime was there.  I can beat Jaime now, although when I first started, couldn't come close to him.  The four of us comprised the whole of the 70+ age group.  Fred is a past national champion, Richard current state champion.
     Jaime is a great communicator.  He talked the race director into letting us old guys get a one minute start on the 60+ group.  He wanted five minutes, but at least we got one.  There is no real substitute for youth.  We can only stay with the young guys for so long before getting dropped.  The head start gave us an opportunity to settle into a comfortable rhythm which was about 2mph slower than the group.  That way we weren't "on the rivet" from the get-go.  As it was, we were eight plus miles down the road and climbing the BIG hill before they caught us.
     Richard began to pull away from me, and I began to pull away from Jaime on this hill.  I also pulled away from Fred, but I suspect he just dropped back to give Jaime some help.  I had the bad luck to still be on the hill when the peloton passed, and thus wasn't able to hang on to the back of it.  Richard could and did.  Well, dang!  I had hoped to jump on and let them drag me to at least the turn, which would put the wind at our back.
     Fred did what he could with Jaime, but soon enough left him behind and easily caught up with me.  He did most of the pulling, with me giving him some relief but really just barely hanging on.  At the turn, he pulled away.  For the next ten miles I kept him in sight, but couldn't begin to get close.  Somewhere around the twenty mile mark, the young ladies who started 15 minutes behind us, came by.  At the twenty-five mile mark, a trailing group of ladies passed me.  What I didn't know at the time was not far behind these ladies were a pair of 60+ guys who were pulling Jaime back up to me.  But they ran out of gas themselves, so Jaime was back on his own.
     I made the final turn and had three miles and two climbs ahead of me.  Actually, the first one was more of an incline, but with 30 miles of racing in my legs, it felt steeper.  As I crested the second one, I noticed in my mirror (yes, I didn't remove my mirrors for the race) a dark shape just starting the climb, about 300 yards back.  Rather than cruise the last two miles, I kept a good pace at about 85% effort.  One last check in the mirror at 500 meters to go; I saw nothing.
     As it turned out, if I had looked a little closer, I would have seen Jaime.  He said he was about 200 meters behind when I crossed the finish line.
     So, in my age group I came in second to last.  Or, third place.  They give out nice trophies along with the medal.  My time for this year was one minute, 40 seconds slower than last year.  I think that is because this year the wind wasn't quite as strong, plus last year I had someone leading me into it.  Last year, I had three spurts over 40mph, this year only one.   I just need to get faster, but that is easier said than done.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


     Sorry, this is a cycling blog.
     For the past six months or so, my Sunday 43 mile ride has started off with a mild temperature, usually the mid 70's.  I follow a set routine, for the most part, and wheels down time is usually ten minutes before sunrise.  Today I wanted to be home by 9:45am and given my previous good times of two and a half hours, that meant a departure at 7am, or twenty minutes before sunrise.
     I'm a big fan of routines.  But you still need to be aware of changing conditions.  The rain we had all day Friday was gone, the skies were crystal clear.  I awoke on time, dressed, had breakfast, morning ablutions, left for the start place, all on time.  It felt chilly when I opened the garage door, so I pushed the button on the car steering wheel that gave me the outside temperature.  It started out at 82, the temp inside the garage.  Several blocks later, it registered 56F.
Protect Your Knees From The Cold
     Regular readers know my mantra: Under 65 degrees, cover the knees.  I had no leg coverings in the car.  Fortunately, I keep a spare shirt, mainly for after-ride so I don't have to be sopping wet on the drive home.  This isn't freeze-your-bippy type temperature, but it is the first morning after a hot summer that I faced below 60 degrees.  Plus, I had about 30 minutes before actually hitting some sunshine, and the first 15 minutes include two drops into valleys where the temperature is always 10 degrees cooler.
     Yes, I was quite aware of being chilled to start, but sucked it up and upped the cadence a bit to generate some heat.  Yes, the eyes teared up when I looked down to see how many gears I had left going into the valleys.  And yes, once the sun and temperature came up, I had a really nice ride.
     My friend Mel has posted some fall foliage pictures from Vermont.  It is time for me to add considering extra layers to my pre-ride routine.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


     Alien Abduction.  The only reasonable explanation for why, after proclaiming last week that I would forego my usual Sunday ride due to road resurfacing, I once again found myself on the traditional 43 mile 360/620 loop.  And it wasn't just the route.  Regular readers know I hate riding in the wind.  Forecast called for 20-25mph with higher gusts.  Obviously I am a victim of a Galatian Mind Wipe, because not only wasn't I eschewing the ride, I actually looked forward to it.  The third sign came in the form of my right quadriceps beginning to twinge as I hit the farthest point from the car.  Apparently that was the injection site of whatever they used to wipe my mind.
     But let's start at the beginning.  My Sunday ride has a "wheels down" time of ten minutes before official sunrise.  This is light enough to see and be seen, especially with my LED taillight.  This morning I pushed off at 6:25am.  Conventional wisdom is that the wind will pick up as the sun comes up.  Unfortunately, the wind blew all night, so was about a "4-gear" strength from the get-go.  Let me explain 4-gear: shortly after starting, there is a turn when I usually will move to the big ring, drop into the aero bars, move one or two cogs lower, and increase speed.   This morning, when I made the turn, it was straight-on into the wind.  I had to stay in the middle ring and move Up a gear.  That equates to about a four gear difference.
     I had an hour into the wind, up hills, before I could turn and get it coming over my left shoulder.  Thirteen miles later I made the turn, ten minutes slower than last week.  Experience has proven I can't make up as much time as I lose.  Well, this ride isn't all about time.  With the wind pushing me along, I had a grand time.  It would have been even better if the quad hadn't started complaining.  Just a quick twinge, but enough to garner my attention.  I drank more electrolyte and backed off slightly, but the speed was still good.
     My next check point came at the top of the Steiner Ranch climb.  I had made up six of the ten lost minutes, and still had the wind with me, this time over my right shoulder.  I'm pretty sure I could have had a better time, but several miles from the end, the "loose gravel" sign gave me more than pause.  It was thick enough to be a slip hazard, so I moved to the convenient sidewalk (the one stretch on the route where there is one).  It still had gravel, but not bad, especially since I slowed down.
     All-in-all, a great Sunday ride, and finished before 9am.  I came home and watched the last 20k of the Giro, and as I complete this post, the Amgen Tour of California is coming on the TV.

Monday, May 6, 2013


     Today, for the most part, I followed my own rule: When extending your base mileage, pick a day with good weather, no time constraints, and do not pursue PRs.  The rule that I wasn't precise on was: Under 65 degrees, cover the knees.  As explained in the past, this is a "soft" rule, and if the sun is out and a light wind, with good chance the temp will go up, then you can start at 60 degrees.  I started out wearing my wind jacket for the first hour, until I could get the wind off my chest, so to speak.
     The only mistake I made was in believing I would be done before the clouds rolled back in, thus I had the wrong lenses in my sunglasses.  Rather than late afternoon, the clouds came in mid-morning and were pretty thick by 1pm.  No rain, just no sun.
Not where I was; How I felt
     I also added some new road to my itinerary.  Chandler road has been extended to Taylor, so rather than turn north on CR 130, I continue on another four and a half miles to CR 366, a totally new experience.  My friend Barry put me on to this route.  He warned me that after crossing Hwy 29, CR 341 would have a short section of hard pack dirt.  Turned out to be about a mile that I took slowly.
     In adding this additional mileage and adjusting the route to different roads, I reached Corn Hill in 2 hrs, 45 minutes, or just a little shy of 40 miles.  That left me with 30 miles of return trip.  I had intended to divide the trip into hours, but forgot to hit the button for hour 4.  Hour two included the slow slog in the dirt, plus going uphill, against the mild wind.  Besides, my quads were complaining.  Hour 3 included continued uphill and a short lunch break in Corn Hill (4 minutes).  I had some slight wind aid on the way home, and even more wind at my back when I finally reached University and turned west.
     My overall speed, in the saddle, was a very nice 15.4mph.  Total time stopped, either for food/nature breaks or red lights, was 11 minutes.  My heart-rate was mostly below 110, although my chest strap started going wonky on me.  Each time I dropped onto my aero bars, the heart rate started rising by 10s-20s and quickly reached 240-260.  Totally bogus, but certainly throws my stats in the trash can.  My muscles had not been over-worked, and I didn't need to collapse in the chair.  Even more astounding, to me, was the amount of energy I still had at the end of the ride.  As a matter of fact, a quick protein shake, a quick shower, and I was off running errands that needed to be done before Marilane comes home tomorrow.  It has to be the diet.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


     The forecast for today was for the mid-40s in the morning, and a NW wind 5-10mph (according to the channel I listened to last night), increasing to 15-20 in the afternoon.  So I had a pleasant surprise when I woke up to see 52° on the thermometer.  My Sunday ride usually has a wheels-down time of 10 minutes before sunrise.  That has me leaving the house, today, at 6:10am.  That has me dragging out of bed around 4:30am in order to start the day with medication that requires an hour before a meal.  So, it was more like 4:45am, drink 16 ounces of water with the pill, and heat additional water for coffee.  BTW, both my cardiologist and my yoga instructor advocate at least 16 ounces of water to start your day.  Then I checked Facebook and the news and bicycling news while I drank the coffee. 
     I fudged a bit on breakfast, eating at 5:30am.  As I rinsed the dishes I noticed the thermometer had taken a nose-dive.  Dang!  46°.  Not a problem, just added arm warmers and long-fingered gloves to my attire.  The gloves are because the first 30 minutes are in the shade/shadows and has dips that will drop the temp about 10 degrees.  One last check of the weather, to be sure I hadn't missed a front coming through.  This time I went online, and read the fine print.  Seems like the wind will be out of the NE in the morning, shifting to NW in the afternoon.  Double Dang!  It took longer than usual to get the rest of the morning routine completed, so my ride began about a half hour later than planned.  This was good, in that I had more sunshine to take the chill out of the air.
     The first 50 minutes were into the south, so the mild wind came at my back.  When I made the right turn off of Loop 360 onto Bee Cave Road, I had 5 minutes "in my pocket."  Even though my direction was west and northwest, it seemed like I had the wind on my right shoulder.  Speed dropped, and I knew I'd be giving those 5 minutes back before getting to Bee Cave.  Once there, I made a right turn and had the wind in my face.  Another right turn onto 620, and I still had the wind against me.  All the way back to the car, with few short exceptions, I had the wind slowing me down.
     Fortunately, even though slowing me down, it felt refreshing and with multiple layers, I was in no discomfort.  Knowing there wasn't a PR in the cards, I relaxed and enjoyed the morning.  By 10am I had completed the ride. returned home, showered, had a protein shake, and turned on the computer to catch the last of the Giro (Team Time Trial today).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


     Pro cyclists sometimes describe their legs as "having good sensations."  This means more than just feeling good, and includes all parts working as they should, given the level of preparation that has gone into them.  Sometimes, despite great practice, your legs don't respond well when called upon.
     This morning, for the first time this year, my legs had good sensations.  That doesn't mean I set any PR times, or, truthfully, did I even come close.  Even though I earned Silver in the State 10k Time Trial, my time was mediocre.  I suspect, given how early in the season it came, the other riders were in the same boat.  At Old Settlers Park, my practice course, my best time in the 5k is 8:06.  It occurred in October, 2011 as a run-up to winning a gold medal at Gruene.  My best practice time this year, before State, was 8:42.  Coincidentally, had I been 36 seconds faster at State, I would have won by one second.
     I had a good Sunday ride, 42 miles, and had the best time this year.  I had a good Monday ride, 63 miles, not setting any time records, given the wind in my face for 2hrs 17 minutes.  But nevertheless, was not wiped out.  The planned ride for this morning was a leg-loosener in the neighborhood.  However, the thermometer showed 65° and zero wind while I had breakfast.  Light fog was in the forecast, but none at our house.  I had been whining about lack of tt practice weather since January, so decided to give it a go, even with the legs feeling tight and weak.
Felt B2 
     Perhaps the excitement of loading the tt bike and/or getting to ride it had something to do my good times.  I did a 5k warm-up in a good cadence, and that felt pretty good; decent strength in the legs, no lactic acid build-up.  My first 5k at speed netted 8:30 and the second 8:24, although the wind had finally come up a bit.  There are two inclines on the outbound section and one on the way back, and the legs responded well on all three.  Now to give the legs a few days rest, and see if we can't knock another 14 seconds off my times.  Next week I'll be doing ladders, 5k,10k,5k and after that, 5k,15k,5k.
As a postscript, my formula for good riding is to cycle 800 miles per month, six months out of the year.  This month I finally got over 500, which may account for the legs being stronger.  Maybe I can get 800 in May.

Monday, April 22, 2013


     A longish way of getting to a short point.
     My gym workout consists of leg work and one lower back machine.  All work is done on machines, I don't do free weights.  In order: hack squats, calf raises, abductor/adductor, leg extensions, glutes, sitting leg press, then the lower back.  I skip the leg curl because there is a "catch" in my right knee when I use the machine. If a machine is in use, sometimes the order is transposed.  Last Saturday the weather wasn't conducive to bike riding, so early in the morning I traipsed off to Gold's and did my workout.  I felt good; so good that I hit new highs on three machines. Not new highs for this year, new highs for the last five years I've been coming here.  I'm getting older, but stronger.
     Now, the downside of getting new highs at the gym is the next day.  With the weather abated, I did my normal 42 mile, 360 Loop, Sunday Ride.  There are 23 climbs, 9 of which take some oomph to get up, on my Sunday ride.  After Saturday's workout, the legs had very little push.  It wasn't a disaster, just a little slow.  Actually, all of my Sunday rides this year have been average or slower, so this one turned out to be between 3-5 minutes slower than the others.  Unfortunately, that is about 20 minutes slower than my mid-summer times.  Still, since I didn't overtax my cardio system, I was ok with the time.
     Then came today.  With two hard days on my legs/hips/back already in the tank, I needed a recovery ride, something to loosen up the legs but not overly stress them out.  My 32 mile University ride seemed just the thing.  This is mainly an east-west ride, and the wind was mainly from the south, with just a bit of a westerly direction.  It exceeded breeze status.  Only a few times did I have to hold on tight to keep in a straight line, and it wasn't enough to blow me sideways.  You get the idea.
Anyhow, I deemed it a recovery ride, and concentrated on cadence and heart rate rather than speed.  For the ride, both with and against the wind, my cadence averaged 76, only two more than what I average on this ride, but my heart-rate came in at 106, 100 with the wind and 112 against, with a high of 136 on the only real hill.  Truly, I wasn't exerting myself.  But the really astounding stat is my overall time is the best this year.
     Oh, and the whining:  Where was this good stuff last week, when I couldn't hang with the guys at State?  As soon as this infernal wind lets up, I'll be out doing tt practice to see if I'm now really as quick as I think I am.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


     The state finals are usually a little later in the year, thus my two training practices hadn't done much to hone my speed for the time trials.  That, and seeing who had signed up in my age group, gave me a lowered expectation of being state champion.  However, such accolades are merely adjunct to having fun racing, so I fully expected to enjoy myself.  The San Antonio venue at Texas Research Park is a great place to race.
     Saturday morning was the 10km time trial, necessitating leaving Round Rock at 5:30am.  I encountered a little mist and drizzle, but it was supposed to dissipate as the sun rose.  I had on tights and rain jacket as I warmed up, and my glasses fogged over after several minutes, but at least the road was dry and allowed taking the corners at speed.  As the start time approached I divested myself of extraneous clothing and made final preparations.  The course is one full loop and then half way around to turn around to the finish.  This year we had chip-timing.
     I felt good, breathing and heart-rate within normal racing range.  The back-side hill didn't give as much pain as usual, and I finished with a good spurt.  My Texas competitor, whom I had never beaten before, didn't fare as well and came out ten seconds slower.  So, my first race garnered a silver medal.  First place went to a visitor from Missouri.  I could take consolation in being the fastest Texan, but that still doesn't make me champion.  Oh, well.
     Sunday morning began with the 5km time trial, followed an hour later with the 40km road race.  Once again Missouri came in first, and I came in third.  My Texas competitor felt much better on Sunday and came in about ten seconds faster.  In both time trials, my time put me 13th fastest overall, out of 38.  I was quicker than seven of the younger riders.
     The 40km road race was mostly just for endurance training.  It is ten loops of serious racing, and I was hoping to hang in for six or seven loops.  Sometimes I'll do a little leading and put on a burst of speed to the front, but not today.  This time I followed, appreciating the draft.  On the sixth loop I dropped back a bit on the back-side hill, but was able to fight back on the downhill.  On the seventh loop, the younger group, which had started two minutes behind us, caught up and we tagged along with them.  Curiously, they took the back-side hill much slower than our group had been doing, thus I hung on until the next time up, when they accelerated and dropped three of us.  We formed our own little group for the next two loops, and more or less cruised into the finish.  With 200 yards to go, they jumped, and I didn't, thus my sixth place finish.  Stats: 1hour, 16 minutes, 34 seconds, averaging 19.6 mph for 25 miles.  My time was faster than 14 younger riders.  Another fun day in the saddle.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


     Many years ago I read an article about training (author no longer in memory) which opined that "under 65 degrees, cover the knees."  The gist of the reasoning was because the knee has very little fat to protect it from cold and wind, it is best to give it some warmth to keep it safe.  That became my mantra for when to wear tights.  But it isn't a "hard" 65, in that with a clear sky and little wind, I might drop back to 60°.
     Yesterday, the forecast was low 60's with an east wind of 5mph.  Perfect for my first time trial
practice this year.  However, as I went outside in the morning, the wind was already brisk and I reconsidered.  As I pondered, I received an email from Amy, announcing my friends would be riding at 2pm for a 30ish mile casual ride.  Excellent!  That allowed the temperature to climb from 50° to the projected high and get some more miles in my legs.
     The east wind this time of year is chilly, so I opted for a base layer, jersey, arm warmers, and a sleeveless wind vest (thanks, Ray, for the HHH vest).  Because this was a casual ride, I took the Camelbak, intending to divest clothing and stuff it away when the time came.  I flipped a coin on tights, mainly because both pair had been languishing in the dirty clothes basket for several days, and they only go into the basket after several wearings.  You get the picture.  At 63 degrees, I felt that was close enough to forego knee covering.
     We did an east-west ride, with the idea of suffering an hour into the wind and enjoying the ride back.  This became more of a "got it done" ride.  As planned, we went out into the wind (it wasn't all that bad, but enough to keep the flags unfurled).  But when it came time to loop back to the west, we lost the sun.  The clouds weren't thick, but enough to block out the sun, thus the perceived temperature dropped.  I never took off the vest, and my upper body was quite comfortable.  We took a little detour to include a nice downhill, and ended up with 33 miles.
     But last night and this morning my knees are whining to me that I should have dipped into the basket and taken care of them.  I have rules for a reason, and need to adhere more closely to their wisdom.

Friday, February 8, 2013


     This year has started off quite well.  I was able to get out to cycle nine days in January for 247 miles, and already have 171 miles in February.  Additionally, I've been keeping up my spinning in the kitchen (the Carmichael TT workout), and weight work at the gym.
     In reviewing my chart from last year (and previous years), I'm lifting more weight than ever.  Let me be clear, I don't do free weights, it is all on machines, and all legs.  The only upper body help I do is push-ups.  My hill climbing route is not taxing my cardio-vascular system as much.  Things look promising.
     But the real reason for this post is the latest cholesterol numbers, received moments ago.  I've halved my medication and the numbers didn't change from the excellent results of December.  This plant-based diet appears to be keeping me in line.  Additionally, even though not overweight, I've lost nine pounds, and since I'm stronger, have concluded those pounds were really excess.  Most importantly, my energy level, as measured by how I feel at the end of my strenuous rides, is quite high.  I attribute that to lack of meat, but it may be an increase in beans, etc.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


     In Austin, there is a section of McNeil Road between 183 and Parmer Lane with neither a bike lane nor a shoulder.  It has heavy vehicle traffic, including, today, me.  As I passed a cyclist I could tell he was distressed (mainly by the shoulder-shudder and lack of visible neck) as cars and trucks whizzed by his ear.  All of this, in my mind, was unnecessary.
     There was a perfectly good, unused, middle turn lane available.  When I travel this section, that is where I ride and for the most part, have had zero problems.  I do the same on a section of road in Round Rock (University), and several other areas where I ride.  Even when traveling the country, if the middle lane is the safest option, I have no trouble opting to take it.
     To me, it makes perfect sense.  Rather than have the driver behind you slow down and worry about giving you enough room, or worse, not slow down nor give you sufficient clearance, just move to the middle and let the cars have both lanes.  If the occasional vehicle wants to make a turn, it will be slowing anyhow, and it is my opinion they will be more likely to see you, since you should be right in front of them.
     As for oncoming traffic who will be turning left, you have several options.  Since you can see oncoming cars, if the lane on your left is free, you can just drift into that lane until past the turning car.  If the lane behind you is clear, you can drift right, giving you the right of way.  Of course, just because you have the right of way doesn't mean you'll get it, but, once again, you should be right in front of his windshield and pretty much know if that is a good option.  Of course, you can always stop and let things clear.  All of these options, in my opinion, are better than sharing a lane with a vehicle.