Tuesday, May 31, 2016


     If you are retired, as I am, cycling 800 miles per month isn't really that difficult.  Years ago I determined that my racing is much better when I get in 800 miles.  Because most of my racing consists of short time trials, I do ok at 600 but below that things get iffy.  I was gone half of April, so May became a "must do" month.
     The first week was right on schedule, 200 miles.  Then a medical procedure set me back three days (or 3 1/2 since the first day back was light).  I wasn't too worried, since 200 miles per week is 28 days, and I had 31.  I worked hard and kept on schedule, arriving on the 27th with 670 miles.
     Dan Pedroza put together a 76 mile ride for Saturday, and even taking the "easy ride" on Sunday, I'd only have a short pedal Monday.  The best laid plans.........
     Saturday was hot and humid and after the first fifteen miles, I knew this would be a long day.  Of course starting off on Lime Creek is quite different from Chandler Road.  The second leg of the route was Hwy 620 out to Bee Cave, mainly flat until you hit the dam.  Even so, I got a head start and even with big Jim in front of me at an easy pace, I couldn't keep up.  The group caught me at the dam, but I eased my way up and over.  By the time we got to Bee Cave, I was on the verge of bonking.
     Actually, some might argue I had already bonked, but that depends on your definition.  Anyway, I determined I'd make my way back to the Parmer store at a reduced pace, turning left on 360 and cutting off ten miles.  Even though drafting saves lots of energy, you still need some to keep up.  I didn't have it, so I puttered along by myself the remaining twenty-plus miles and sat around to recover (eating lunch at Morelia's).
     No problem, I could do the long ride Sunday.  Sunday got rained out.  Sunday afternoon's weather was excellent, however I had other things to do.  No problem, I'd ride twenty miles Monday morning, then another thirty on Pedroza's Recovery Ride.  It wasn't until late Monday that I remembered Dan was doing the Velo View gravel ride (half gravel).  Grrrr!  I'd already put my feet up and had a beverage in hand when Becca posted a recovery possibility.  Double Grrrr!  Too late.
     That left Tuesday.  With rain in the forecast, I left early and did my thirty-nine mile route, and another six in Old Settlers Park.  Feeling quite proud of myself I returned home and plugged in the Garmin and pulled up my spread sheet.  Ooops!  Pook, ding-fu!  The total on the 30th showed 750.5, not 755.0.  A quick glance at the radar showed green and yellow heading toward Austin.  I unplugged the computer, pulled the bike out and rode the neighborhood for another five miles, finishing to the sound of thunder (but so far it hasn't rained here).
     I finished the month at 801.4 miles.  A review of my log revealed that while I planned on twenty-two and a half miles (three loops of Old Settler's Park) on Monday morning, I cut it off at fifteen because I figured I'd get in thirty that evening.
     What would I have done if the month were only thirty days?  I wouldn't have worried, since not achieving it isn't all that important.  Working toward it is the key.  While some goals are important, this one is merely a guideline.

Monday, May 30, 2016


      For the last two plus years I've had a minor weight problem.  I started my plant-based diet in November at 150 pounds and promptly lost ten.  Then, because of race-training, during the summer and fall lost another four.  I was pretty sure those four would jump back on once racing stopped.  Sure enough, they found their way back and I plateau'd at 140.  During the winter I gained the expected four and in the spring lost them back.  All as expected.
     The next racing season didn't have me losing any weight, but the following winter the annual four pounds showed up.  Not to worry.  I didn't worry in the spring, summer, or fall but the four pounds never melted away.  Then I gained four more.  And they didn't go away either.  Now I began to worry.  Fortunately, a third round of gain during the winter didn't occur.  But I was still stuck with eight pounds and an additional inch and a half waist (I purchased new pants at 140 and they stayed on their hanger for two years).
     Regular readers know that in addition to weight, I'm also much slower than previous.  To help rectify the speed, I decided I needed to put in more miles.  I had a good half April, but the second half was a trip to England and no cycling.  So May was targeted.  'Way back in my blog is a post where I expound on an optimum training program which works out to be 800 miles per month.  This isn't that hard: 2x65 miles; 2x30 miles at pace; 1 hill workout; 1 TT workout per week.   In theory.  I haven't hit 800 miles in a month since doing the Blue Ridge Parkway ride in 2014.
     The last three days in May were to be easy ones, but Sunday got rained out, and I forgot the Monday ride had been cancelled.  So Tuesday (tomorrow) I need to put in 50 miles.  This is not a chore, but will take longer than the 20 I planned.
     But, back to the weight.  Without trying (like dieting), the extra mileage has apparently upped my metabolism such that the eight pounds are gone.  They have been gone four days in a row, so I'm pretty sure I'm plateau'd.  This happened over the whole month, not like overnight.  I'm back into my pants.  We will see if this continues past June.

Friday, May 6, 2016


     The Giro starts today and I am remembering my first exposure to the excitement it brings to the fans.  In 1962 I was in the army stationed in Germany, but on leave in Bolzano, Italy.  Bolzano was (and probably still is) and lovely town, but don't ask me why I was there, I can't recall.  It may have been that my traveling companion, who had the car, suddenly left without me, but that is a story for another time and place.
     Anyhow, one afternoon I was wandering about and suddenly people started running toward a street only about a block away and chattering excitedly.  Something was up, so I joined in to see what caused the commotion.  I had my Super 8 and lined up with everyone else, camera ready.  The first cyclists caught me unprepared, but I whipped it up and caught the peloton in a blur of motion as they whistled past.  In less than a minute, everyone started dispersing.  I had no idea, since my Italian is limited to Ciao, Bella, and vino, what I had witnessed and it was much later before I linked it to the Giro.  I still have the footage, but no machine upon which to play it.  Just as well.
     But, closer to the present, this year the Cima Coppi (highest summit) is Col d'Agnel.  I have vivid memories of climbing Col d'Agnel (but I went up the side they are going down), and they are part of the chapter on my adventures with Marty Jemison and riding in the Alps in 2008.  Below is an excerpt from Gotta Go!  Cycling Vacations in Fantastic Locations.

     Day Three:  Col Agnel ~ 30 Miles

            We had a short day, with a very short warm-up, then the 20.5 km Hors Category climb.  However, we were a tad off in our timing, and should have started about an hour earlier, or ridden faster, or not ridden at all (just kidding).  Yesterday’s brilliance had been replaced by morning puffy clouds.  I brought my Camelbak, which included my rain pants (for wind protection) and wind jacket, because mountain tops are always windy.  The clouds thickened as we moved out.  This is the third-highest paved mountain pass in Europe.  My rule for mountain riding is to always have your rain gear.  My rain jacket had not made it into the Camelbak.  Serious oops!
            Marty had said the climbs were six percent on average, with some at nine percent.  Truthfully, my GPS is not all that accurate on altitudes, but the numbers I saw were four points higher than what he advertised.  I really didn’t have much energy today, no pop in the legs.  Then it started to rain.  
            Drizzle at first, then slightly harder.  About five km from the top, the cold wind came up and the temperature dropped.  Officially, they say nine degrees centigrade.  I found a spot to get my rain pants on, and Jill lent me her rain jacket.  At three km from the top, the caravan caught us.  Once the caravan comes, no one is allowed on the road.  We were stuck, cold and wet as swag came slinging our way.  Jill caught my eye, and when there was a break in the caravan and the gendarme turned his head, we started walking briskly up the road and didn’t turn around to see what the reaction was.  Marty had secured some seating area in a lodge two km from the top.  Once Jill, Roger, and I turned one switchback, we got on the bikes and rode the next couple hundred yards to where the gendarme was about to get unhappy with us, but it was at the entrance to the lodge, so we were getting off anyhow.  Marty rushed us up to place the bikes next to the rail (one floor up) and we pushed in the door and sat down on a bench.  This lodge had room for maybe fifty and probably there were over a hundred cold, shivering cycling fans ordering hot food and drinks as fast as the servers could take the orders.  The really great part is they had a big screen TV, so it was pretty much a party. 
            My shivering abated after about a half an hour, but I really never got warm.  Even when the pros finally came by, about ten of us stayed inside and watched the TV.  Once the broom wagon passed, we would be allowed to get on our bikes and descend back the way we came.  Unfortunately, that is also the time the freezing rain got harder (I think I am using this term incorrectly, maybe what we had was sleet.  In any case, you get the picture).  We delayed our departure. 
            I told Jill I only had about five minutes of non-cycling energy to fight the cold, so once we left the lodge, I wanted to be on the bike as soon as possible.  Marty was anxious to find Gotti and Jason, who had managed to become separated from us.  So Marty and I would ride at his speed, and Jill, Roger and John would come somewhat slower.  We waited until we saw a patch of blue sky coming at us, and then we moved out.
            Within minutes of starting the descent, solid precipitation hit us, but only flecks.  The road was wet but not slick.  Marty kept checking behind, but as I kept up, he let it out some more.  I didn’t think I could go so fast on a wet road.  Thankfully, this col had very few switchbacks.  We ran into traffic jams of folks going both up and down the mountain, and the road through the small hamlets only had the width of one car.  What a mess.  Thankfully, bikes could squeeze between the cars and the buildings, and bikes were faster.
            About halfway down we came to a restaurant and spotted Jason and Gotti.  What a fine place to get hot chocolate.  Marty ordered then turned around to see a tour guide he knew and their entourage.  Time passed as they discussed today’s ride.  Eventually, our whole group was together and had finally warmed up. With the temperature about fifteen degrees warmer and no rain, we cycled the final miles back down to the van. 
            Byran says if you have an adventure and don’t die, it was a good one.  This fell into that category.  Interestingly, I thoroughly enjoyed passing the cars.  Of course, I only followed Marty, and everybody in the cars were cycling fans so the usual angst didn’t materialize. What a cool experience.