Sunday, April 29, 2007

I feel like I smashed my legs with a ton of bricks!

Today, beautiful as it was saw me out in Rock Creek Park completing my first ever brick workout. GD that was hard as hell! It didn't help that my legs were still a bit sore from yesterday, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get out and get a good workout in. Also I'd picked up a new pair of running shoes so I can keep my older pair at work as well as some tri shorts so I was primed to get out and try them both out.

I started out with a pretty strong four mile run along beach drive locking my bike up outside the NPS station near Military road. I still need to get in some speed work but as a start I held my pace pretty consistent and and was happy with my running. When I got back to the bike my transition was decent, taking just under three minutes, though these three minutes would have been much shorter if I hadn't been fishing my gear out of my bag and dealing with the bike lock etc...

For the bike portion I did 12 solid miles including climbing Ridge Road and also included some serious calf cramping towards the end of the ride. (Damn, I knew I should have eaten that banana before I left!) Overall though I felt good on the bike, though without the aero bars I was having a bit of tough time staying down in the more aerodynamic position I'll be using for the race. I really need to get my hands on those and start riding with them.

The transition back to the bike was even a little bit quicker at closer to 2 and a half minutes, but when I started running again my calves quickly began to cramp even more so I had to stop for a bit to stretch them out. Once they were worked out I ran out and then crossed over the creek and did some trail running for a couple of miles and finished up the second run of 3 miles.

All in all a great workout and I'm definitely feeling it this evening. Unfortunately this morning I once again did not do well enough with hydrating so I was ready to pass out for a while afterwards; Hopefully I'll get better at that soon. I also need to improve on my weekend eating habits and stop skipping meals. Too bad I've got to go back to work tomorrow, this weekend was just so amazing and it just couldn't last long enough.

Back in the hills

Yesterday was pretty much what weekends are all about. Around 9am I caught a ride with a friend out to the Avalon area of Patapsco Valley State Park to catch up with a couple of other guys for some trail riding. We started out from the Rt 195 Park and Ride and within the first 20 or 30 minutes of the ride I took my first spill after rounding a corner too quickly. It was pretty basic and pain free but the spectators behind me said it looked pretty fantastic.

The trails were pretty much perfect for riding as most of the rain had passed over and missed the area and what did fall was soaked up quickly by the thirsty soil. Other then a few sections of puddles and a little bit of mud on one of the fire trails the tracks were entirely dry.

After that I felt more comfortable on the bike (kind of like that old football mindset where you're always nervous until the first hit of the game) and then was cruising the rest of the way. I killed some of the long climbs and just cruised through most of the technical single track out there gaining more and more confidence as the day went. I'm definitely feeling good about racing as a beginner this Cranky Monkey Series later this summer.

As we were riding along one of the roads on the way back to the trail towards the cars we saw a Cannondale box truck unloading bikes and I knew we had to stop by. They were doing a demo, so I got to try out there new Cannondale Caffeine 29er. It was my first time ever on a lefty. a bike with disc brakes and a 29er so I was pretty excited about it. Before heading out I asked if I was allowed to get it dirty and they laughed at me and said of course.

half an hour to 45 minutes later I came back with the bike covered in mud and a huge smile on my face. The bike felt a bit clunky at first and I didn't like the set up of the shifters, though since the components on the bike were pretty basic I wasn't really suprised by that. Not sure if the clunky/clumsy feeling was from the bigger tires or if it was more due to the fact that the handle bars and grips were noticable wider then my Trek. Either way I still had a great time trying out the bike and it definitely felt more capable when rolling over certain obstacles. Not sure that I still feel the need to get one though since it seems to cover up technique and isn't really all that necessary for me right now.

We finished up that ride and John brought me back in to my place and as soon as I got home grabbed a beer and relaxed for a minute. I then remembered that I'd wanted to go for a run when I got back so I finished off the beer chugged some water and got out for a good fast 5 mile run keeping my heart rate a good full 5 - 10 bpms above my usual running heart rate for the entire thing. Today the body feels great and and the high rate running made me much more confident with my speed for the Triathlon. I've never been a terrifically fast runner, though I can be very steady and shouldn't lose much if any time to the average competitor out there.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Video Inspiration

Last night along with a number of local mountain bike enthusiasts I watched Jason Berry’s latest film 24 Solo at the Arlington Draft House Cinema. What a movie; it was so intense the whole way through and I’ve got to say I love the music. At one point as Chris was racing in China I felt like I was watching the opening scenes of Gladiator. Talk about an intense introduction.

The movie was fantastic and I highly recommend checking it out if you can tonight (there is a showing at 9:30 tonight at which I believe Chris Eatough will be in attendance). Didn’t get a chance to pickup the Off Road to Athens DVD like I’d wanted to a friend will hopefully be able to grab one up for me tonight. Can’t wait to see that one as I feel like it could be even better then 24 Solo. Oooo, I hope I can get out on the trails tomorrow. The days rainfall has me feeling doubtful unfortunately.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Things to come

I’m officially in for the Baltimore Marathon in October so I’ve got a nice little season laid out for myself. I also registered this morning for a 4 pack of the Greenbelt Training Series races on Wednesday nights so I can get a little bit more road racing experience under my belt without the hefty fees and (probably more self imposed) high pressure situations of all out races. I’ve heard great things about this series so I’m looking forward to getting out there next Wednesday for the first one.

Haven’t figured anything else out officially for the year, but I’m thinking it would be pretty fun to try out a beginner mountain bike race this season and I’m also considering the Marine Corp Half Marathon which would be 2 weeks after the Baltimore full. I think that would be enough recovery for me as long as I make sure I stretch consistently and get back out for some light jogging the day after the marathon. My legs were sore after the Shamrockfest Marathon, but I got a nice spin on the trainer in the day after and was back riding “hard” either one or two days after that. If the Ultra Marathon Man can run 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states then I can do this for sure.

I’m also eyeing up a May 12th brick session “race” through the dc tri club down at hains point that is a run bike run session of 6 total miles running and 15 biking. Reviewing the times of some of the previous sessions I don’t really expect to vie for any kind of top spot, but I think it would be a great opportunity to get out and get a feel for where I’m at on what I believe will be my two stronger areas of the triathlon. Throw in a nice sprint tri sometime in June and I should be good to go, and what’s more is I may even have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to the transitions in Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The dangers of my printer

This morning for whatever reason I’m feeling a bit over zealous I guess. I guess the lingering feelings left over from the race on Sunday combined with the soreness from yesterday’s core class had me poking around the Baltimore Marathon website this morning. As I looked through the different pages (of what is a really nice race website by the way, especially compared to the Pittsburgh Triathlon page) the blood started pumping a little bit faster and the adrenaline started flowing and the next thing I knew the course maps were printed and sitting here on my desk.

Now you’re probably thinking, ok so what you opened the maps and hit print so what? Well, it’s kind of a big deal really… This means unless something big happens in the very near future I’m signing up and I’m in. For these things I tend to kind of poke around the idea a bit, throw it around in my head and maybe bounce it off a couple of running friends before making any real decisions about it. When I actually get on the site and print out the course map though that’s pretty much it. Within the next couple of weeks (days or maybe even hours in this case) I’ll be signed up, paid and officially training.

I think this should work out really well to round out my season and will be my final big event for the year. I’ll have the triathlon on July 15th in Pittsburgh and then the Baltimore Marathon on October 13th with at least one sprint tri before the main tri and some road races (or at least a few races of the Greenbelt Training Series for some more experience). Then if I can get my hands on a cross bike in time I’ll be able to get in a fun season of cyclo-cross racing to close out the year. This is going to be fun! Hopefully if all goes well then next year I’ll try for a half Iron Man.

Monday, April 23, 2007

One down, many to go...

My first road race (The Carl Dolan Classic in Columbia, MD) was, in my eyes a huge success; I didn’t crash and I finished with (or at least near) the pack! I think going into this race my biggest fear was that I just would not be able to hang around with the pack and would get blown out the back like I often do at the hains point noon rides. Yesterday however, with somewhat minimal effort I managed to stick right into the back third of the pack for the entire time and ride out the race, despite the constant breaking and subsequent yo-yoing effect especially in the large (two available lanes into and out of it) 90 degree turn.

(Not much of a pic for me but you can make out the green jersey and part of my head there in the middle back. Picture taken by Jim Wilson along with LOTS of other great race shots from the day.)

Overall I feel like I was more of a spectator in the race just along for the ride and not really a racer vying for anything. I never really tried to go anywhere other then one lap where I moved up into the first half of the field during the semi flat area leading up to the downhill section and turn, though at that point the narrow road closed off any serious movement I could take since we were down to one lane and any forward movement would have to be done across the yellow line. (Not sure if I was faulted for this anyway, though no one ever said anything to me).

(Michael R-P in the pack in the 3/4 race later in the afternoon. RU had 3 of it's 4 racer in this race finish in the top 12 with the fourth getting caught up in the big crash at the finish. Otherwise that number would have definitely been 4. Picture also by Jim Wilson)

Towards the beginning of the race I was a bit nervous and getting closed in on both sides by two cyclists I got antsy and bumped into the Unholy Rouleurs’ Leg (though I was forgiven) and after not going down there I loosened up quite a bit. Overall the race felt pretty good and I think with a boost in my effort level and definitely some extra confidence out there I could be out at least feeling like I am contending for a spot (gotta be top 20 to even get mentioned in the results???). Also I think a better understanding of where in the race I am would be helpful since I wasn’t really sure the number of laps that were left at any given time and I didn’t realize it was the final lap until everyone was sprinting for the finish.

I also need to make sure I stay on top of hydration during the race better since I could tell I was starting to daze a little bit towards the end of the race which nearly sent me ass over teakettle in the nasty crash near the finish. I didn’t really see how they happened but as I was riding past the crash along the curb (spending too much time looking at it and the motionless rider lying half on and half off the curb) I turned to find the second crash in the middle of the road directly in front of me and narrowly managed to avoid be included in the days carnage. I could tell my overall awareness of my situation was certainly not were it should have been and next time I will have to work to make sure I am in a better state of mind for the hectic finish these races are sure to provide.

Overall though I am certainly happy with my result, and though I didn’t place I finished my first road race in strong form. My heart rate maxed out at 180 bpms which is pretty low considering my max is closer to 195 and on any given climb to the finish I was really only hitting about 170 so there is definitely room for additional effort next time. I would also like to report that I believe I was the only racer out there using good old down tube shifters (though I’m not trying to make any excuses here).

Some day I’ll get my hands of one of these fancy racing bikes all these other guys are out sporting but for now my ’91 Specialized is my main ride. I’ll just have to be careful signing up for any racers that I’ll need to be shifting on the fly too much. For this race I managed to stay in the big ring and use only about 3 gears the whole way. Maybe not the most efficient spinning style but efficiency in shifting was more of a goal for me at that point.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The truckers' critical mass

Found this post over at BeeLog; if this is for real I have a feeling these could be some pretty rough days coming up for drivers. People think it's bad when cyclists do things similar to this, with truckers out on the freeways (and on the city streets?) this could get really ugly really fast. The original article can be found here. Good luck to anyone trying to get around by car on those days.

Why tri?

Poking around the DC Tri page I ran across some “articles” written by some of the other members of the club with a handful of the recent one’s being “Why I Tri” presumably to offer motivation through the difficult cold winter. Reading through the most recent one (effectively getting me motivated and excited about my first tri coming up) I started to think about why it was I am so interested in them. None of my friends around here are into triathlons and aside from my fathers running for health purposes no one else in my family is even all that active.

So what is it that makes me want to do all of these things? Why do I keep jumping in head first to all of this new stuff? What is that draw that is pulling me in? Better yet, where do I start on this? Sure I want to be in shape and I really like doing things outdoors, but I think there is so much more to this then that. There is a deeper meaning and feeling behind the sort of soul searching that I think these events help me with; they can tell me so much about myself that I never knew and bring a tremendous feeling of accomplishment that can not be found anywhere else.

I guess it all really started back in college during a race I’ve probably mentioned here before. With a team of about 12 guys we raced very few 8 races and when we did we never really expected too much against some of the larger teams we’d be up against that could field two or more 8’s with their numbers. At one fall head race (5-6K instead of a 2K for spring races) everything in the boat just clicked right out of the shoot and we fired on all 8 cylinders through the entire race watching all of the other boats die far, far behind us. My parents were at that race and I can remember our coxswain using that to motivate me specifically and running through everyone in the boat with specific words of encouragement that sent shockwaves through our bodies. (I’m getting an adrenaline rush just thinking about and writing about this).

It’s not everyday that everyone in the boat just clicks and when that happens it is obvious to everyone involved that there is something special going on. That was the first day I had ever felt those feelings, the run in the boat, the perfect catch and release throughout and watching the boats all fall further and further away behind us; it was the most spiritual feeling I have ever had in my life. I was near tears coming down the course passing the shore where everyone was cheering us on and finishing the race all knowing that we had won and completely dominated our usual equals like they’d never been in a boat before.

While my current endeavors may never amount to the level of teamwork involved in rowing, the feelings of personal satisfaction from them can be as great if not greater. Just a year ago I never would have thought I could get out and run more then maybe a dozen or so miles. But I got out there and did it and the feeling of personal pride I got from that was incredible. Also with that sense of accomplishment came that same spiritual feeling I felt during that race; a complete and utter satisfaction upon the completion of a goal that could very well have been unattainable. When I crossed the finish line after my run, those tears of joy and satisfaction were back glistening in my eyes.

Now that I’ve done one though I can’t stop there, I’ve got to do more; more miles, more races, more workouts and naturally more events. I want to challenge myself with something that I don’t know if I can complete and then see what happens. If I complete it, then it is that much more special while if I don’t I’ll keep going back for more until I do, working harder and training longer then I did before. This is my religion and the outdoors are my sanctuary; my spirituality comes when I truly get in touch with my self and learn what I’m really made of. My next step is the Pittsburgh Triathlon and after that there will be more.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Coolest Dog Ever!

Eight-month-old Gougou balances on the carrier on the back of his owner’s bike, reports Guangzhou Daily. “If he needs to pee, he taps my shoulder with his front paw.


DC Tri Club

The other day while talking to a guy at the pool I was asked if I was a member of the DC Triathlon Club. I’d never heard of it before but he told me a little bit about it and so when I got the chance I went ahead and checked out the website. After poking around for a while I decided to go ahead and pay the $40 fee to join and figured if nothing else if I can get the occasional training partner out of it then it’ll have been worth it. They also offer discounts at some of the local shops like fleet feet and Capital Hill bikes so I suppose I can make some money back by shopping at those places as well. Not that I need to spend more money right now, but I am going to need to at least pick up a few things for the triathlon.

I’ll probably do what I can to try and get in on some of the training “brick” sessions and training duathlons they hold. I think even though my training went well for the marathon that had I had a steady or even just an occasional training partner out there I could have been a bit more consistent. While I am doing pretty well with motivation right now, I know that come a month from now I’ll be in the same lull I was hitting back in December with my training and motivation and it will be a bit of a struggle getting myself going all the time. Ideally I’ll find someone local to train with and we’ll co-motivate each other when we need it.

I think just having organized sessions and having other people around doing the workouts with me in general should also be a huge benefit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blog Roll Update

I realized the other day when I actually looked at my blog as seen by visitors that I haven’t updated my links in quite a while and that there were some definite notables that should be added and pointed out. This post, likely to be a regular series is to highlight my recent findings in the blogoshpere that I find worth reading and feel you should too. This idea stemmed some from the Drunken Housewife’s recent post bringing attention to my blog for liking hers so much… Sweet! (Oh and if you’ve never read the DR I highly recommend it; the quick posts highlighting her children’s comical proclamations are some of the most entertaining things out there in my book.)

Metal Cowboy Mayhem: Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie’s Blog Spot -

A while back Gwadzilla posted a link and note pointing to this newly begun blog. After clicking through and enjoying what I found in the first couple of posts, I added it to my blog reader and have since been following his writing regularly. This is a fantastic blog that I always enjoy reading and since Joe is an actual journalist in real life he is an excellent writer overall as well. Joe provides an excellent view of life from the perspective of a socially and environmentally conscious cyclist, and though I often pass over his blog when scanning for some quick reads, it is ONLY because Joe’s posts are worth spending a decent amount of time on and I feel I’ve wasted a post if I simply scan through them. Of particular note is Joe’s latest post titled “The University of Brooks” which starts off with: “Everything I Really Need To Know I Learned In A Brooks Saddle. By Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie” Where Bike Racers in DC/MD/VA/DE Roll -

While the local racing scene has a number of riders that blog, up until recently I don’t believe there were any that highlighter racing in the region in general. GamJams is an excellent resource and source of entertainment in that it highlights upcoming races, events and riders and also provides links to other bloggers’ racing related posts and also to any race photos taken at local races. I found GamJams after my recount of a wasted weekend of no training and my experience watching my first local bike race back at Quicksilver. (Hopefully after my first race this weekend I don’t get highlighted for a race report of me getting my ass handed to me too badly…)

Life Bikin’: The road goes on forever and the party never ends -

Very entertaining writer who calls himself Snakebite (haven’t figured anything out there except that I guess his zodiac year is the snake?). Lots of shorter posts highlighting things in the bike world or entertaining images and video clips that are always worth checking out. Case and point: sweet!

Dave Byers: Cycling Junkie -

Just recently started reading this blog but so far it is excellent. I found Dave’s blog while clicking through endurance athlete blogs and liked what I found. Dave offers a humble glimpse into the world of endurance mountain biking, oh and that oh so foreign and exotic sport (at least to me here in the “big city”) of snow biking. Talk about a fat tire event.

Fumbling Towards Endurance -

Another endurance athlete find who I think is relatively new to the world of endurance sports and his blog I know is relatively new. Geoff won the Susitna 100 racers field in a record time much less and is also the boyfriend of another favorite blogger Jill from Up In Alaska. (He guest blogged his race report on Jill's blog as well but I'm having a hard time finding his entry right now so here is the first installment of four of Jill's account of biking the race.) Geoff admits to like to run, bike and xc ski fast and uphill and based on his previous results I would keep an eye on him in the world of endurance sports to be providing some serious competition in the near future.

That’s all for now, Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A brief note

Posting yesterday I did not yet know of the situation at VT. My sincerest condolences go out to all affected as well as the hearts of the world. There is nothing that can be done to change what happened or to bring back those lost, but they can be remembered and honored none the less. I hope that this situation is treated with as much dignitiy as possible to cause no more pain and suffering to those affected then has already been dropped on them.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Stupid emancipation day...

Apparently today is the official DC Emancipation Day and as such all DC public offices and services are closed for the day. Of course this would be no big deal normally and wouldn’t even cause me to blink an eye but unfortunately today I blinked. With my quickly filling schedule and busy nights lately I’ve been struggling to find time to get over to the pool to get in laps, especially since the Marie Reed Center pool is only really open from 3pm to 8pm and any time after 6 the lanes are uncomfortably full for me at this point in my training.

Last night I finally decided to bite the bullet and forego the extra hour of sleep and bike to the Takoma Community Center whose pool opens at 6am on weekdays. So come 5:15 I was rolling out of bed and 5:30 I was rolling up 16th St into the headwinds from hell with memories of early morning crew practice running through my head (except then I had a car and drove to practice). The ride there was actually not nearly as bad as I expected and I was able to safely ride up 16th street and over on Van Buren St with the only issues being the occasional blast of wind and the typical SUV blowing by in a coffee and war fueled rush to get to it’s next destination.

I got to the center 10 minutes early after my great warm-up ride and decided to ride loops around the building to keep from cooling down too much before the doors opened and when I finally rolled up to the front door and saw the signs I just wanted to kick myself. Who knew today was emancipation day anyway? I mean I guess if I watched the news every once in a while I’d have heard (though even wapo's description didn’t make me think the pool would be closed), but then I’d have to watch about this shooting and that robbery and the other natural disaster killing how many people? No thanks.

So, instead of my invigorating morning swim, this morning I got a nice, almost car free commute with a handful of extra miles and I’ll get a good core workout today for lunch. Unfortunately I couldn’t even go run when I got in an hour earlier then I planned since I don’t have any running gear here at work. Oh well, I guess if I can get out of bed again tomorrow morning then I’ll have to try it again.

To make things worse for this Emancipation Day, I doubt they'll have a great turnout with this gloomy weather we're calling spring.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Just sick

This little blurb was posted on the district racing listserv.

From the Arlington County website, crime reports for April 11:

FELONY HIT AND RUN, 4/10/2007, 1500 block of S. George Mason Dr. At approximately 1602 hrs on 04/10/07, a man driving a Honda Accord northbound on S. George Mason Dr. got into an argument with a female bicyclist. The man got out of his car, pushed the woman and threw her bike. While leaving the scene, the man bumped the woman several times with his vehicle to push her out of the way. A police officer witnessed part of the incident and stopped the Accord a short time later. Johnny Arthur McRight, 58, of Arlington, was charged with Felony Hit and Run, Assault and Battery, and Destruction of Property and held on $2,500 bond.

This shit makes me sick...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My life is taking over my life!

My life is taking over my life! I’ve always been extremely involved my whole life in groups and activities and now that all of those extra curriculars attached to school are gone, I’ve done it again with new things. With spring right around the corner (well officially here, but not really) things are starting to pick up even more and everything I picked up over the winter months piled on top it’s looking like it’s going to be a busy next couple of months. My weeknights are basically entirely loaded down with stuff are practically off limits whenever I try to make plans with people and the weekends are quickly filled as well at this point. I’m at the point where I can’t even make time to go out on one of those things that’s been so blatantly missing from my life over the past few months, I think they are called dates?

Alright, so Monday nights: at the moment they are basically free and I’ve been using the time after work to get to the pool and put in some laps. Next week though there is a happy hour for a work organization that I am in co-charge of planning/being at etc and once softball season starts up I will be getting my weekly fix of dog walking at the rescue league.

Tuesdays: Frisbee night on the mall. Easy to blow off, except it is just so much fun to get out and blow off the steam from work/commuting and enjoy some fleeting moments of a beautiful day.

Wednesdays: Dog walking and soon to be softball playing for the team that I am a co-captain and the social organizer for. Not exactly optional.

Thursdays: Bike polo; too much fun to miss! Plus it provides essential practice for bike skills that will translate so well into all of my riding, provides a cheap venue for Thursday night happy hour (a couple of cheap pounders in tow) and like Frisbee is a great way to get out, enjoy the weather and blow off some steam from the week.

Fridays: Sometimes free, but then comes Friday night and weekend plans. Training after work on Fridays always seems extra hard to me, like I just don’t have the energy to get out there and just want to sit down with a burger and a beer at Tonic and bs with some friends.

Saturdays: Afternoon Frisbee, one issue I’ve always had with this game time is it wastes the whole day from any more productive errands that need to be taken care of. Always a good time though.

Sundays: Long bike ride day or soon race day probably. Either way on Sundays I should be out on a long bike or run every week if possible.

For the record, I’m definitely not trying to complain here, I’m just pointing out that there is just not enough time in the day or the week to do everything I want to get done. Unfortunately training will likely take the back seat most often, but I’ve always got lunch time. Another option that I’ve been contemplating and would probably be one of the best available would be to get up earlier and get some workouts in early in the morning on the way to or just before work. The Takoma Park pool opens at 6am and I can run or ride extended routes to work whenever I want. Though no matter what there is always the issue of actually getting up and getting the butt in gear to do it. I’ve just gotta find that 4:30 am wake up mentality I used to have for crew back in school. I mean this guy Dean Karnazes will run all night and then go to work all day, why can’t I get a couple of extra hours in here or there?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The price of performance

I remember when I first started rowing my mother said I needed to be careful that I didn’t over develop my legs or else I would have a hard time finding pants that fit like my father apparently does. My father rowed at The University of Southern California and through that and running later on in life has built up some rather strong and thick quads. I on the other hand have been flaunting my chicken legs for about as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t say I’ve got weak legs, at one point during college I was pushing upwards of 7 or 8 hundred pounds on the leg press and always did well with squats but the legs just never really got all that large.

Lately though I’ve started to notice a bit of increase in both the tone and size of my quads, and calves for that matter. With all of the biking and running I’ve been doing lately it’s only natural and the core class is certainly helping with the toning. The other week though for the first time I noticed that some of my favorite jeans are starting to get a little bit tighter around the quads. At first I figured it was just that just came out of the wash tightness, but I’m coming to realize that it’s actually because my legs are really getting bigger.

Walking up the metro stairs (I can’t handle standing still all the way up), I can feel my legs pushing out on the fabric and I think if they get much bigger I may have to retire a few pairs of my most comfortable jeans. I’m not complaining really since I’ll gladly take larger stronger legs if it aids in my performance, just a general observation and a little bit of shock that, “hey, maybe Mom was right” as usual…

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cattin' it up!

Spent the majority of the weekend on the bike and though my toes were permanently chilled and my legs are a bit trashed I loved every second of it. Saturday I “raced” my first Alleycat race with the crew and had a blast and met a bunch of new cool people in the process. We rode all over the city from Dupont to RFK to Lincoln Circle to Logan Circle to Hains Point to the Sculpture Garden to the new Bike Rack store on Q St to Logan… Well, you get the idea. I rode the fixed gear and there was a constant headwind no matter which way we were going so it was definitely a workout but it was oh so much fun.

I didn’t really know what to expect and just planned on tooling my way through the race, but when it started and everyone started running for their bikes I got excited and took off down 14th St ready to compete. I rode the first bit along and ended up joining up with some people along the way and after realizing I was not where near 1st sort of eased up a bit. I ended up 6th overall though and more importantly had a blast riding the ride. The checkpoints along the way included getting hardboiled easter eggs and doing jumping jacks with them in our mouths, eating pickles and gefilte fish, asking tourists to do funny things and pose for pictures and all sorts of fun stuff (the worst of which being refilling our flat tires after the checkpoint “marshal” let it all out while we were eater egg hunting.

But overall it was totally worth it and I believe the only accident occurred when one of the riders was hit by an excited Japanese tourist running down a set of stairs. Thank goodness for no fatalities or injuries!

Sunday went on what turned out to be a long moderate base mile ride with a couple of guys from RU and had a blast trying to keep up with Joe as he tore up the hills along the way. Ended up putting in about 55 or 60 miles of good anaerobic work in and am hoping to reap the benefits come the Carl Dolan Classic in a couple of weeks. Today however my legs feel completely spent. Am contemplating the hill ride again but I’m not quite sure I’ve got the energy. Got about 45 minutes to decide though.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Tension in the streets

Well, it seems people will never just be able to get along. (Warning, if you hate the saying “can’t we all just get along?” then you probably want nothing to do with this post.) So many cases of people hating people in the forefront of my life right now, I really don’t get it. Messengers hate non-messengers, non-messengers hate messengers, drivers hate cyclists, non-racers hate racers, commuters hate racers, racers hate non-racers, racers hate messengers… The list goes on and on. I hate intolerance!

Why can’t people simply accept people for who they are and what they like? Why does one person always have to be better then another and why can’t people with similar causes just work together? Is it because people are too proud to accept others’ help? This pride is totally misdirected and only hinders the advancement of the original cause, so often blocking out the cause entirely. Pride can be such a powerful thing and when used the wrong way it can be so incredibly damaging to so many people. These kinds of things just never made sense to me.

Personally as a cyclist in DC I feel that all cyclists are friends and that we all “fight the same battle” if you will. We deal with the same bullshit day in and day out and in my mind that should only deepen the bond within all cyclists in the community. But things that I don’t know about and things that a few people do tend to get others riled up and the next thing you know within one “group” say commuters, racers have a bad reputation of being assholes. Or to messengers other urban cyclists are poseurs stealing their culture. We’re all cyclists; we’re all out there putting ourselves on the line to do something we love.

Messengers have learned what works through experience, so it’s only natural that others would also learn from their lessons and adopt the things such as messenger bags and simple single geared bikes to get around. Some people love the “messenger culture” and do adopt more then just the lessons but even then there is no reason to be angry that someone enjoys the culture and wants to be part of it. Lose the elitist attitude and accept that people follow trends and the messengers are trend setters for some groups of people.

Some bike racers can be real dicks; they can display the same sort of elitist attitude believing that if you don’t race your bikes then you’re not a cyclist. From my (very little) experience of riding with racers, it’s the one’s who are new to racing and feel like they have something to prove that are the biggest dicks. The veterans who have been there for years are some of the friendliest and most helpful guys out there and they see over all of the little shit going on. These guys look out for other cyclists no matter who they are and what type of riding they do; they’re just glad they are out riding.

Until the last couple of months I was blissfully unaware of these rifts, almost always caused by a few extreme characters. I wish that I could remain that way. The arguments I hear from every side a petty and ridiculous and do nothing to advance anyone’s cause. There are bigger and much more important battles to fight within the world of cycling. The bicycle commuter act would benefit thousands of people who lower their burden on society whether purposefully or not and would likely draw hundreds more people to do the same; though maybe we don’t want more people to bike since we can’t even get along together with the people that already do.

Sometimes the anger is to be expected, I would be willing to bet that this woman brought anger on herself just by how she was (self admittedly) driving even if she did not hit a cyclist, she was in the wrong. These cyclists feeling the fuel and adrenaline already from the night took their reactions way too far and are completely in the wrong as well. Likely the woman was egged on by the style of riding that is a CM ride so maybe the blame should start there. But, the ridiculously dangerous and over crowded transportation systems of this country are the cause of the underlying rage on both sides of the fight so why not start there with the finger pointing.

There are extremes in every side and all these extremes do is push everyone backwards, creating more hatred and fear. Hatred and fear will not advance any side and will just lead to more incidents, more deaths, more fights and likely an even shittier situation then was in place before. Someday hopefully everyone will see this reality and work to make things better; from one arena to the next it all translates. Can we someday wake up to make the world a better place?

-And I’m off to go hug a tree and draw some peace signs… or at least to ride my bike home and hang out with good people.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mind over body

This weekend I finally went and picked up a cyclo-computer for my for my bike so I could start documenting my rides a little bit. Since I still hadn’t used my $50 member rewards money and the accompanying 20% off coupon expired on Sunday I grabbed the computer and a new rear blinky for my bag there and ended up getting cash back instead of actually having to pay anything. Boy does that feel great! Granted I had to spend a bit of money there in the first place to get those rewards but that was long past and at this point it just feels like free money. (My college econ professor who believes getting tax refunds back is ludicrous would flip on me for this but we don’t need to tell him about it now do we?)

Anyway, I threw it on the bike the other night and riding in this morning I noticed a marked difference in my riding style. When I first started commuting by bike from my Adams Morgan apartment I would typically do a little bit of car racing and really hammer out the couple of miles between home and work. As I started to ride more I’d start to purposely make myself ride easier to and from work, typically since I was already tired or had plans to wear myself out sometime soon in another ride or activity. I also began to notice that it was more fun to cruise by cars sitting in traffic without looking like I’m giving it any effort (maybe a little bit of smugness involved there but we’ll leave that for another day J).

Anyway, this morning riding in with my speed displayed right in front of my eyes, I kept drilling it from the stops and continually hammered along until I absolutely had to break for the next light instead of just cruising along like I’ve become accustomed to doing. I can see where this is headed and hopefully this doesn’t start causing me to become a head case analyzing why I’m not hitting such and such a speed on this stretch or why I can’t reach that speed quick enough.

I guess today’s hill ride during my extended lunch will be the first test of how much this thing might affect me mentally. Scott suggested a sleeve to cover the computer for when things like that start to happen; I think I may need to start carrying one around in my jersey pocket. "Easy" days may be hard to come by if I'm always racing my computer.