Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Into The Home Stretch

Despite the 10-day layoff that followed my crash earlier this month, I am still on pace for another record year. I may not reach the 5,000-mile mark to which I aspired, but anything in excess of 4,800 would be a personal best. Heading into the final four months of 2010, I have covered 3,548 miles. I’m 8 miles ahead of my 2009 pace. But …

September 2009 was incredibly good to me. I set a personal best for any month with 800 miles. I was on vacation for part of that month, able to ride on weekday afternoons without worrying about waning daylight. This year it’s unlikely that I will hit 800 miles in September, as weekend rides will have to account for the bulk of the miles. And last November was exceptional … for November. I covered 257 miles (PR) in 6 weekend rides. That also could be tough to top this year.

On the other hand, October 2009 was miserable. I did just 8 rides for a total of 203 miles. I should be able to beat that this year.

But all of the effort late last year got me only to 4,800. So, can I do that and 200 more to reach 5,000? I think it’s doubtful but it’s not out of the question. I have 50 more hours of vacation to schedule before the end of the year. At best there are 12 weeks left in my 2010 cycling season—I have never ridden in December—and I’ll need about 120 miles a week to reach 5,000. Weeknight rides will be, effectively, over by mid-September. At that point I’ll be at the mercy of the weather, as weekend afternoons will be my only options.

This weekend, at least, looks like a promising start to the home stretch. On Saturday I’ll do the Washington County Bicycle Club’s “Farmland 55” ride out of West Bend, and I’ll ride to the start/finish to make it a metric century. On Sunday I’d like to do the Bay View Bicycle Club’s “Big Cedar Lake Ride” from Holy Hill. That could be about 80 miles if I ride there and back. And next Monday is Labor Day, a chance to ride all afternoon if it doesn’t rain. Solo century, maybe? I’ve never done one.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Il Cammello Rides Again!

Io sono il cammello, goo goo ga joob!

Today I rode 64 miles, my 11th metric century this year. During the ride the temperature rose rapidly into the high 80s. We eventually hit 91 degrees today but the ride was over before then. My fluid intake during the ride was just a little more than two bottles. Toward the end I would have liked another cold bottle of sports drink, but I didn’t need it.

All the literature tells me that I don’t drink enough during my rides, but my body just doesn’t send that signal to my brain. You’ve heard, “Eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty.” Believing that the sports nutrition people must know more than I do, I force myself to drink. But it’s rare that I feel thirst as a biological imperative. I took two “natural breaks” during today’s ride, so I was processing fluids in the usual way. What are the chances that I just don’t need as much as most other people?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

There Was This Girl ...

I really wanted things to work out. I always looked forward to being with her, but the anticipation of her company was often sweeter than the reality. Other people warned me that we were incompatible, but I persisted. There were just enough moments that met or exceeded my expectations, just enough glimpses of what might be.

How like that relationship is my affiliation with the Washington County Bicycle Club! I get excited by the club’s potential and then disappointed by the reality of club rides that are poorly attended and ploddingly completed. But once in a while—perhaps just often enough—we get it right. Today was such an occasion. We had a great route, beautiful weather and a large enough turnout to allow me to ride at a fun pace with people who wanted the ride to be something more than a joyless procession.

I know a fresh disappointment could be just a week away, but I won’t expect something bad. The next club event is part of the new “Adventure Ride” series and we’ve had good luck with those. They show the club in its best light and the series needs to be expanded for 2011.

Things didn’t work out with the girl. Dave the Realist finally overruled Dave the Romantic—who, let’s face it, was kind of a pussy anyway. I called off the pursuit. In the interest of full disclosure, in the intervening 20 years I’ve never had the impression that the girl was sorry to see me go. But I can’t be swayed from my belief that she would have been better off with me than without me. I think the WCBC is better off with me than it would be without me. Today it gave me a reason to keep hanging around.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This evening it was my pleasure to ride with a group that really handles itself well out on the road. Six of us—all familiar faces—left West Bend on the popular Covered Bridge Ride. We picked up two more riders en route. Though we were committed to keep the ride together, there were moments when we turned on the gas and allowed the group to split temporarily. Sometimes I stayed with the fast riders and sometimes I didn’t, but the overall effect was a great workout. My average heart rate was 136—a comfortable 74% of my maximum—but my highest heart rate during the ride was 167. That’s 91% and you can bet I didn’t stay there long. I had some soreness in my still-not-back-to-normal left shoulder, but nothing I couldn’t ride through. And though most of my post-crash rides have been flat, I was happy with the way I climbed today. The route didn’t have any really difficult climbs, but I gave a good effort on what was out there. It was a solid effort all around and now I will go into Saturday’s WCBC ride feeling confident that I can ride the road bike without much discomfort. That will be a much less competitive ride, so maybe the shoulder won’t complain as loudly. And there was no back pain tonight. That’s just a conditioning thing and hopefully it won’t resurface. I’ve now done seven rides for a total of 214 miles in the last 10 days and it seems like I’m hardening to the grind once again. Sunday’s metric century will be a good test. It won’t be a fast ride, but the miles will add up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No Parking

If you are planning to drive to West Bend for Saturday morning’s Washington County Bicycle Club ride, please park your vehicle at Regner Park and ride your bike to the start/finish at Imagine Coffee House & Catering. Normally parking is available on Veterans Avenue, but there’s a special event in town on Saturday. And it’s never cool to park on Village Green Way, the little street on which Imagine is located. Save those few spots for customers of the businesses in the Rivershores development.

We may have to improvise the last mile or two of our route as we return to Imagine. Our published route finishes with ½ mile on the Eisenbahn State Trail. It’s likely that there will be runners finishing at the same time and we don’t want to be in the way, so be prepared for an on-street detour.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Burying The Needle

I had great legs tonight and felt some competitive fire starting to reignite for the first time in almost three weeks. After work I headed up the Eisenbahn on my Giant FCR3, just looking for some miles. But another rider inspired me to push a little harder than I might have otherwise. I didn’t recognize man or machine, but once on the other side of Washington Street this guy got his new mountain bike up to 18-21 mph and cruised toward Kewaskum with apparent ease.

I’m not used to following anybody on the Eisenbahn, but I settled in and pursued at a respectful distance. I wasn’t drafting and I wasn’t pushing hard, but it would have been uncool to pass just for the sake of passing when the other rider was already going faster than I likely would have alone. But something had to give sooner or later, and the other guy veered onto Sandy Ridge Road while I continued on the trail.

I would have taken Sandy Ridge if he hadn’t. Whether traveling northbound or southbound, I often detour onto Sandy Ridge to enjoy some asphalt and a little elevation change. The road meets the Eisenbahn at two points. The distance between those two points is 2.80 miles on Sandy Ridge, 2.67 miles on the Eisenbahn. I figured I would see the other rider again just south of Kewaskum, and I was determined to get there first.

I time trialed those 2.67 miles, slowing only for the intersection at County Highway H. Despite a brisk crosswind, I felt strong. I held a steady 21-22 mph and guessed that even if the other rider were faster I would still see him rejoin the trail. At the north end of Sandy Ridge there was no sign of him. I turned onto the road and got back up to speed, heading south now. Still no sign of him! By the time County Highway H came back into view I was sure he must have turned off, either at H or at one of the residences on Sandy Ridge itself. Oh, well. Thanks, whoever you were.

Cranking it up—even if only for 2.67 miles—really felt good. I’ll be on the road bike tomorrow and my only objective will be to ride without discomfort. Honestly.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vulpes fulva

I saw one of these today near Decorah Elementary School.

For a guy who’s just two weeks removed from a crash that resulted in a separated shoulder, I guess I’m doing OK. Yesterday I reported that my 30-mile road bike ride got pretty uncomfortable, but today’s 50-mile ride on the Eisenbahn State Trail has me feeling confident that I’m recovering well. The plan for this week is to bang out a few 25-mile rides after work and maybe test my legs with some of the faster roadies on Thursday. My plans for next weekend are clearly in focus: on Saturday do the Washington County Bicycle Club ride—a good climbing test on a route that’s a little harder than is typical for the WCBC—and on Sunday join Jimmy Scharrer for his Gem├╝tlichBIKE 100k. Jimmy’s plan is to relax at Germanfest when we return to West Bend. Sounds gut to me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Not There Yet

Today I did my first road bike ride since Aug. 5 and I was pretty uncomfortable. My lower back almost never complains, but it did today after about 20 miles. I rode a total of 30 miles and the shoulder held up reasonably well. But two weeks without upper body strengthening exercises have left me a little soft. For tomorrow I think I'll take the Giant FCR3 up to Eden on the Eisenbahn State Trail. I probably won't go back to the weight room until the beginning of September, but I think I can resume my ab crunches now. It's scary how quickly the hardness that comes from daily exercise can leave you when you stop. I want it back.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not Bad ...

This evening I rode a pretty solid 30 miles with no real complaints from my injured shoulder. I followed through on my plan to take the Eisenbahn State Trail north, passing through Kewaskum before turning around at West Moraine Drive, the last road before the Fond du Lac County line. Because almost the entire ride was on the trail, I didn’t realize for a long time that I would be unable to signal a turn! It’s a good thing that situation didn’t come up; I simply can’t move my left arm into those positions. Days are getting noticeably shorter and this evening I stayed out longer than I should have, but I was determined to reach the 30-mile mark. That gets me to 200 miles this month and 3,200 so far this year. Love those round numbers.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Assume The Position

"How do you like my frame pump now, young scalawag?"

Today is my 10th consecutive day off the bike. I haven’t ridden since the day of my crash. As of yesterday I am behind last year’s pace, but that doesn’t really matter anymore because I have abandoned any hope of reaching 5,000 miles this year. As I have been stuck on 3,170 since Aug. 6, and as I am still injured, I would be very content just to hit 4,000.

My left shoulder is a long way from healed. I am regaining range of motion bit by bit, however I am still unable to raise my arm straight out to the side or straight out to the front. There’s no chance that I will play softball this Wednesday, but I will be at the ballpark to coach first base for my teammates as they try to win a tripleheader and become league champions.

I could have gotten back on the bike already, but I was hoping to recover enough for softball and I didn’t want to risk aggravating the injury. Now it’s clear that I won’t be playing, so there’s no good reason to delay my return to cycling. But the road bike will have to wait a little longer; I wouldn’t be comfortable leaning so far forward and bearing so much weight on my hands. For a while I will use only my flatbar Giant FCR3.

I’ve gained just 1 pound during my layoff and I still feel reasonably fit. Tomorrow evening I will head up the Eisenbahn State Trail, bound for Kewaskum at least and maybe for Campbellsport. We’ll see. It’s not going to be a test of my fitness; I just want to get going again. A mere 20-30 miles tomorrow, that’s all I ask. I think the legs will respond well. The big question is whether my left shoulder will complain. Even with the FCR3's upright riding position, there will be some load on my left shoulder and fatigue could be an issue. I will let you know tomorrow night.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Damn It All, Anyway

I crashed today. I'm hurt. It feels like a separated shoulder (left side), but I suppose there's a chance I put another crack in my collarbone. At least there's no road rash this time, but I can barely move my arm. We'll see what tomorrow brings. I'm hoping all the damage is to soft tissue and recovery is swift. Cycling ambitions, such as they were, are on hold. My job now is to heal in time for my softball team's playoff game on Aug. 18.

What happened? My front tire got captured by a pothole on the Wild Goose State Trail. It was late afternoon and the trail was a mix of sun and shade. I never saw the hole: one second everything was fine and the next I was flying over the handlebar. Still clipped into the pedals, when I went down my body acted like a trebuchet and launched the bike another 40 feet down the trail. Fortunately we both landed on grass and the bike wasn't damaged. I recovered my water bottles and restarted, knowing it would be a painful ride back to the car. I was 42 miles into a 70-mile ride. It's absolutely awful to ride after a crash; all of your enthusiasm is gone. But I was riding solo today and I didn't feel like I had a choice.

Forgive me if I don't post for a couple of days ...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Trainer Party Schedule

In 2008 I created a trainer party series to bring local cyclists together during the winter. Let’s face it: indoor training can be boring, but it’s much more fun when you do it with others. As dedicated cyclists we already have everything we need to train indoors, so why pay for Spinning® classes? Those are intended more for general fitness than for hard-core cyclists anyway. If you want to follow your own plan while still enjoying the company of your cycling buddies, give my series a try.

In its inaugural season, the series was a modest success. Last year the attendance was down, but it was still good training for those who showed up. Now in its third season, the series is being revamped. I have moved the start time up an hour to 9 a.m. and shortened the duration to 3 hours. Experience has shown that participants want to arrive early, get their work done and get on with the rest of the day. And instead of showing you old race coverage, this winter I will present four popular cycling-themed movies for you to enjoy while you ride.

If you live in West Bend, then this weekend you will receive the 2010 fall activities guide from the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry. On page 16 you’ll find this:

You get to work out, watch a movie, eat snacks and chug sports drink absolutely free! And again this season we’ll do the magazine exchange: bring your used cycling magazines and go home with something you haven’t read yet. No registration is required and the series is open to everyone; you don’t have to be a West Bend resident or a bike club member to participate. I hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

All In Good Time

This weekend turned out reasonably well, but it took more patience than I usually can conjure to make it so. On Saturday morning I was up at 5:30 to eat breakfast and prepare for a 6:30 ride, but the weather wasn’t to my liking: too chilly and too likely to produce more rain. So I waited until nearly 2 p.m. before I got on the bike. Even that late in the day there were a few raindrops but nothing sustained or heavy. I got home at 6 p.m. after completing my 10th metric century of 2010.

This morning was not as slow to warm up, and knowing that we would get well into the 80s, I used the morning to complete my yardwork. I was so heavily covered in sweat, insect repellent and grass clippings that I took a shower before my bike ride. (Are the mosquitoes exceptionally bad this year or what?) Today’s ride was something of an equipment test: I stole the carbon seatpost from my Giant OCR1—now on permanent trainer duty—and installed it on my “trail bike,” the Giant FCR3. That meant swapping saddles and screwing with the seatpost height, but it was worth it. I think I’ve found a better fit, one that has me sitting marginally higher than before. Obviously I didn’t need to swap seatposts to achieve a better fit; it just worked out that way. The old alloy seatpost will be fine for trainer duty while the carbon seatpost will be lighter and more shock absorbing on the FCR3. Over the winter I’d like to replace the FCR3’s stem, and then hopefully I’ll be done tinkering with it for a while.

Tomorrow’s a rest day … legs are a little fried.