Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Well, that wasn’t actually such a bad idea afterall….

This past weekend, Tracy, Chris, Nick, John and I headed down to Monterey to race the in the Sea Otter Classic. Nick and John went down early Saturday and evidently really cleaned up on the free schwag. Chris, Tracy and I ended up heading down later in the day Saturday.

After registering, we wandered down to the vendor area to find that things were pretty much winding down. The first indication that we should have gotten there sooner, was when we decided to head towards the food tents to see what was available for a late lunch. We found we had a choice between a hamburger and a cheeseburger.

I, being the gourmand that I am, opted for the cheeseburger since we all know that adding a slice of pasteurized, processed, imitation cheese like product to a soy based, meat like patty raises it to a whole new level of distinction. (note – pretty sure aged beef doesn’t mean it’s been left under the heat lamp all day long)

After wolfing down the burger and nice cold Sierra Nevada brown ale, we wandered around for a bit picking up what remaining schwag was available and checking out all the cool bikes, components and shiny bits. We watched the kids on the pump track for a bit amazed at their ability to launch themselves off ramps and jumps with absolutely no fear of arthritis, slipped discs, or broken bones before heading out to Monterey to meet up with the others for dinner.

Dinner was amazing. We ate at some little place off the strip where I had incredible homemade lasagna and mediocre garlic bread. (not sure how you can make a plate of pasta like that and not be able to pull off something simple like garlic bread).

Afterwards we headed for the “resort” where we were staying in the lovely industrial area of Salinas. The Good Nite Inn is situated on Work St (told you it was the industrial area) right underneath Hwy 101. Actually, the room was fine, the beds were clean and I slept like a rock.

5:00am the next morning the alarm on my crackberry went off letting us know the day had begun. After everyone had gotten ready and packed up we headed out to McD’s for a hearty breakfast of fruit and nut oatmeal which actually turned out to be pretty good. I can now honestly say there is something on the McD menu I like other than their iced coffee.

Arriving back at Laguna Seca we got our stuff together and took a warm up lap on the track itself. I’ve been to Laguna before to watch MotoGP and riding my bicycle down the infamous corkscrew was a pretty cool feeling.
Here's Tracy

Granted the guys with motors probably do it a little faster than I did on my single speed mt bike, but I’m sure the thrill is about the same.

Soon enough it was time for the race itself. Being in the single speed category, I was in the first group out and thankfully so. Much of the race is on winding single track so I imagine the groups behind us were dealing with issues of passing, and traffic and crowds, while we had relatively traffic free conditions. (at least until the other groups caught and passed me anyway)

My buddy Nick has done this race before and he told me that last year, at the halfway point they had water bottles available. Seeing the water station ahead, I drank most of my remaining bottle only to find out when I got there that they were handing out Dixie cup-sized glasses of water. I took a paper cup and motored by wondering if it was going to go back to haunt me...it did.

About mile 14, I drank the last of the water in my bottle. I had started to feel the twinges of cramps prior but had avoided them to this point. Now though, every hard push resulted in twinges and tightening of muscles. Fearing a full on attack, I backed off and kept motoring as best as I could. The last section is a fireroad climb that isn’t too bad. I just had to keep the pedals turning and I could finish this.

Evidently, the race organizers decided just surviving wasn’t entertaining enough, so they changed the last mile, adding another single track section with a very not fun switchback at the top where the spectators could watch us suffer.

Finally, I came out to the pavement and the nice fast, sweeping downhill finish. I didn’t break my under 2 hour goal, but finished in 2:05. From there I found a spot in the shade and waited for the others to finish.

Back at the truck, we enjoyed a nice cold beer, lied to each other about how good we felt and eventually got on the road for home.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just one more in my long list of bad ideas….

Earlier this year, after a one of our Thursday rides, (and a couple beers I might add) the discussion turned to this year’s Sea Otter Classic. Now, having just totally smoked our regular ride, and full of testosterone (and beer) I said, with much bravado, that I intended to race this year. And, not only was I going to race, but I was going to race in the single speed division.

At the time it seemed like a fun idea. I and several of my buddies would go down there, have as much fun as we could and enjoy the day. And so, having proven my machismo in front of the gang, I didn’t really give it another thought...until early March...and, in early March I not only began to think about it, I actually began to obsess about it.

Every ride that I missed or bailed on in the month of March was a failure in my training regimen. (Oh yes, I now had a regimen because you can’t prepare for race without a regimen) Every donut I ate (and there were many) was a failure in my diet, every beer I drank (again, there were many) was just more empty calories that would go to my waistline and not to fueling my training.

And that was the difference. I could no longer just go for a ride, I was “training”. I couldn’t just go out with my buddies for a nice cruise around the lake I needed to make sure every mile was painful and every climb was a heart attack waiting to happen. I needed to make sure I killed myself with every effort so that I could ensure I was ready for a race I had no chance of winning and that was supposed to be a fun event.

I mean seriously, I’m a middle-aged, lazy, recreational mountain biker that’s entered in the Cat 3 SS division. It’s supposed to be fun...why am I obsessing about this? I have really no idea. But, the fact remains, it’s really stressing me out.

As a result, I’ve decided that even before it starts, this will be my last race. Evidently I am incapable of going to any event with the word “race” in the title and have fun doing it.

Oh sure, I’ll probably go down there and once we start pedaling, I’ll get my mind together and enjoy the ride. I always enjoy riding my bike and, from what I’ve heard the vibe is really fun, the venue is great and the whole experience, as I’ve been told, must be experienced at least once.

I’m sure, that once it’s all said and done, I’ll look back at it as a fun event. But, for the whole month of March, I can’t help but think this is yet one more in a long list of bad ideas...right up there with the Mendocino Monster and the Death Ride which are coming up shortly....oh yeah, guess I better start training for those events here pretty soon too...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The RIOT Principle…

In an effort to continue to hone my exquisitely trained body to eek out yet one or two more horsepower on the bike, I’ve studied all of the reference material regarding elite level training.

I’ve read all the material from the likes of Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong, Greg LeMond, Ned Overend and others and there’s one theme that continues to repeat itself in all of the writings…..the need for rest. The pundits all say that in order for your body to recover from hard efforts, you are required to rest. As a matter of fact, I read that most professional racers spend huge amounts of time doing absolutely nothing…

Having already gotten myself into peak physical condition, with a bodyfat percentage in the low triple digits, my quest for yet even more performance has become tougher and tougher. After all, my quads already resemble a slab of undercooked spam, my calves are as firm and as chiseled as a jello salad and my hamstrings are as taut and tense as overcooked pasta…..seriously, how much better shape could I be in?
But, such is my fate. My quest for knowledge and my desire to be even more of a cycling god drives me to continue to study and continue to train…and to this end, I think I may have come up with the ultimate training philosophy. I’ve decided to call it the RIOT principle.

As I stated above, the one common theme in all the literature I’ve studied is the need for rest after a ride. Evidently, exercise, and especially exercise at the levels that I pretend to perform, is a process of tearing and shredding muscle tissue. This tissue then heals during rest becoming stronger and more resilient so that you can ride even harder and longer on the next effort.

With my new RIOT principle which by the way stands for Rest Instead Of Training, we circumvent the entire tearing and shredding of muscle process and instead go right to the resting process. What could be better right?

In addition, my research has revealed that one of the best things to eat after a tough ride is protein. Protein, after all is one of the main building blocks of muscle tissue.
So, In addition to all the rest that I’ll be getting, I’m going to add in the eating of lots of bacon cheeseburgers. Bacon, cheese and beef all contain protein so eating more of these will help me continue to build muscle after I’ve rested.

The last and by far the most important part of my training regimen, will be increasing the amount of milk I consume, mostly in the form of vanilla milkshakes, of course, since after all Milk does a body good. Ok, I didn’t read that in the training literature, but I did hear it on a TV commercial so it must be true….right???

So, for anyone that wants to achieve the same level of fitness that I pretend to have reached, I will summarize my new RIOT principle.
•Rest. This is the first and most important part of the system and can be done by watching lots of TV, napping on a regular basis, or just sleeping in instead of riding
•Eating protein to rebuild the muscles that you didn’t tear down when you didn’t ride. Again, bacon cheeseburgers are a great vehicle for protein
•Drinking milk, since it does a body good, preferably in the form of vanilla milkshakes

I’ve decided to start this system first thing tomorrow morning. Instead of riding, I plan on getting up late, wolfing down a big bowl of coco-pebbles, with milk of course, and sitting myself in front of the TV for the rest of the day.

BTW – this article and the included training principle are copyrighted and will soon be available on VHS with an accompanying 8 track soundtrack so place your orders now before it sells out.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday Dinners...

Sunday dinners at our house are kind of a big deal. Actually Sundays in general are one of my favorite days. After church there’s usually either a nap or a family event followed by the beginning of Sunday Dinner.

For the past couple of weeks, Christina and Sal have done most of the cooking, but it’s usually a group effort and its usually a fun time for us to get together as a family.

A week ago Sunday, Christina and Michelle made stuffed pasta shells while Caleb and I whipped up a homemadefromabox orange pound cake. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but baking has pretty much been beyond my abilities. I was determined to redeem myself.

The girls made dinner look easy while Caleb and I struggled a bit to get the cake just right. Our first detour from the path of good cooking came when I was washing out the cake pan and heard Caleb say “ewww”.

I turned to find that he had decided to move forward without my help and had cracked an egg, emptied it directly onto the countertop and tossed the shell into the bowl...The "ewww" came from the egg running off the edge of the counter and down the front of his shirt.

Once we got that straightened out though, things moved forward pretty smoothly and we made good progress. We even “zested” an orange which was a first for both he and I and we made our own frosting out of powdered sugar, more orange “zest” and some orange juice. Who knew it was so easy?

Dinner ended up being delicious and Caleb and I were huge heroes for our homemade (from a box) orange pound cake with orange zest frosting.

The best part about Sunday dinner, in addition to a delicious home-cooked meal and getting everyone to stay home for an evening, is the fact that it allows us to spend time together. As our kids have gotten older and life has gotten busier it seems that the simple things get lost.

For many, our family included, family time has been replaced by sitting together in front of the TV, evening dinner is exchanged for drive through and take out, discussions are replaced by quick phone calls and emails, friendships have been replaced by time on facebook, twitter and texting....Sunday dinner is our family's attempt to rebel against all that and force ourselves to try to focus on something more important....our family.

The time we spend cooking is also a time when we can get caught up on each other’s lives. As we work with and around each other in the kitchen, the conversation flows freely. The casual interaction created by doing simple things in a comfortable atmosphere allows us to talk about things that we are either too busy or too distracted to discuss during the week.

The sad part is I know it won’t always be like this. Life is fighting us at every turn...Eventually Michelle and Chris’ house will close and they’ll move to Livermore. Their kids will have soccer, little league, school functions, whatever.
Too soon Christina will be moving on with her life and distractions will start crowding her calendar as well...

Deb and I will eventually have the nice, quiet household we always talk about but don’t really want and things will change forever. It won’t be better and it won’t be worse….it will just be different.
For now though...life is about as good as it gets...