Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Good and faithful moron

I don't like to talk about work on here....but this was one I could not avoid....because it was related to cycling. I work with a guy that is a constant one-upper. It doesn't matter what anyone has seen or done....this guy has either done something more impressive....or knows someone that has done something more impressive.

As the story goes...I was talking to another co-worker about the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race. This other guy pipes in with "I have a really nice bike". My reply was cool man, and I carried on with my other conversation. Within a few minutes he couldn't help himself and was interrupting yet again with "my bike is top of the line dude!" with some authority! So....instantly.....I thought of the scene in the Matrix when Morpheus offers Neo the blue pill or the red pill.

I thought of this because....well....I know quite a bit about cycling and cycling related things. I possibly act like I know more than I really do....but I also ask a ton of questions. Borderline annoying? Fully annoying is more likely. Anyway, because he said he had "top of the line" and I know how deep the rabbit hole goes I asked him the simple question of "what do you ride?"  He looked stumped for a second. It was almost as if I had asked him to explain quantum mechanics. "Specialized" was finally muttered from his lips. It was like he was racking his brain trying to figure out a cool bike company and he happened to land on Specialized. So then he asked me what I ride and I responded quickly with "Specialized Epic". JACKASS ALERT: Here is how the conversation went...

"Epic? what is that like a low end model?"
     me: No it is actually one of their higher models...
him: but my Stumpjumper is their top bike...for sure
(in my mind I am thinking...really 10 years ago the stumpy was their top of the line bike)
me: Well...a Sworks Epic Carbon would be their top of the line nowadays
him: (not knowing that I am an avid cyclist) How do you know that?
coworker: Sean rides a ton dude.....he knows what he is talking about
him: oh really?
me: yeah....I was just talking about racing remember? the months have worn on he makes a comment now and then about riding again. I always tell him to grab his bike and I will take him out. No problem. He has never accepted....or even acted remotely interested.

A few weeks recieved the button below.

A co-worker was talking about how he was sore from running on the tread mill and of course this other guy pipes in with....I could run.....yada yada. And the....he throws down the gauntlet and says "I am even going to dust off my bike and show Sean how to ride". I just smiled at him and said "whenever you are ready dude" and he immediately started saying he was kidding. I wish he would get his bike I could show him how its done. I might not be the fastest person but I know my strengths and weakness are stronger and less weak than his.

Somewhere....a village is missing it's idiot.....

(Barry Roubaix in 31 days)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Yankee Springs in February...

I have ridden Yankee Springs twice already this year. A couple of weeks ago conditions were great. Saturday, the conditions were very odd. Temps were in the low 30's when we started. I was joined by Dan S., Dan T., Dave W., Jay B. and Lisa P. for a loop. The group headed down the warm-up loop when I stepped into the bathroom so I was talking to Dave for a minute while he was getting ready. Knowing I was the weakest link I started down the trail. I enjoy riding in a group....but I do like the confinement of a solitary ride.

I knew the rest of the group would catch me eventually so I just rode my pace. The trail was frozen for the most part. There were some sections of icy covered snow. One place actually had some mud...which I found extremely odd for Yankee. It was interesting to be flying down a descent and hit the frozen sections not knowing if your tires would hold your line. Back to the ride....

I made it a few miles before I finally saw Dan S. coming down the trail. When I saw him....I knew it was only a matter of time before I got caught....but I wanted to see how long I could stay ahead of him. It wasn't long until I reached one of the long climbs and could hear him coming up the hill behind me. He caught me...and disappeared shortly thereafter. I didn't want to chase him because I knew I would blow up and struggle the rest of the ride.

Jay caught me a while later. He stuck with me for the rest of the ride. The mat climb was the highlight of the ride. Jay rode ahead and then came back down the hill to lend me a boost.....but I really didn't want one. I was stalling, but I screamed "I GOT IT.....I GOT IT" and was able to make it without the help. Toughest climb out there....and I am really happy I made it.

And speaking of hills.....I made every climb out there for the first time.....ever. Yeah....kinda dumb, but I have been riding there for years and that is the first time I remember ever clearing every hill on one ride. That is a huge accomplishment for me this early in the season. I know the race season is only a few weeks away and I need to keep some focus. A ride like this one when I make the entire loop without missing a hill is just what I need to motivate me to lose more weight and gain some speed.

Now....the sun is shining.....might have to go ride....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Handling setbacks

Many people will have setbacks in their lives....whether training, emotional, or physical. Last July I had a setback that cost me half a years worth of riding. My knee was perpetually sore and it hurt to even pedal. I finally broke down and went to the doctor to find out that I had tendinitis and all I had to so was stretch. Problem solved....back on the bike. The setback was hard though, because I was feeling very good before my knee flared up. I had just ridden my first century and had my weight under control and heading in the right direction. The problem I had was mental. We had a very difficult last quarter in 2011, and riding is my release from stress. When I wasn't riding, or doing anything for that matter, I could feel my stress building higher and higher. What would appear to be a minor setback was causing more and more stress without offering any release of that stress. In January I got back on the bike and started to spin. A easy week followed by a more difficult week. Knee feeling great. Setback over.....time to proceed and build the strength and endurance back up.

Now I am experiencing another setback. After my ride on Sunday my hand was really swollen. So much in fact that it didn't look like it belonged on my body. I would describe it as a large version of a chubby toddler's hand.  Seeing this before while doing flooring I figured the swelling would away in a few days. The swelling has gone down, but the pain seems to be increasing.


The bike clearly makes it worse. I have made a doctors appointment and will get it checked out. I am hoping it is just inflammation and not a fracture or anything like that. Just aggravating that I want to be on the bike plugging away at base miles and the handlebars put pressure on the spots that hurt. I know the bike didn't cause the inflammation, but the bike encourages the swelling.

So, another setback for me. Instantly I want to think the worst and throw in the towel. My initial thought was "what if my hand is broken and I need a cast?" I could be off the bike for weeks. Second thought "I will never be able to be ready for Barry Roubaix if I cannot train". And if I miss BR then Yankee is only a few weeks later.......then Custer....and the snowball grows rapidly.

What I need to remember is that I don't know what is even wrong with my hand...but I will find out soon. I also know that setbacks happen.....but I wonder how many punches I can take. I am getting beat up and my cycling is taking the brunt of the blows. The sport I love. The sport that my son and I do together. The sport that my family comes to watch and cheer us on. many punches can I take?

The answer is.....all of them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

First Barry Roubaix of 2012

"what the f---" are we thinking was the consensus between Dan and I today. The temps were in the low 20's when we got out of the truck. It was going to be Dan and I on the Barry ride, and Mark B. was there too. He ended up turning back for something and we never saw him again.

Barry Roubaix is tough enough when the roads are clear....but when we have about 6 inches of snow on the roads.....Barry Roubaix is brutal. The pavement was a combination of hard packed snow and ice with some softer fluff on the outer edges. This is where I stuck for the most part while Dan took advantage of his studded tires and rode the rock hard pack. The gravel roads were all a mixture....some soft....some barely driven on, all tough.

The ride was going okay. The climbs hurt like usual...and I was just churning away to get up the small and big climbs. Questioning our decision was easy.....riding in conditions like that suck. We were 4 miles in and it felt like we had ridden 20. When we got to the decision maker spot...either 25 or 35 we opted for the short course. My comment was "I have no desire to be out here for 4 hours". At this point we were about 9 miles in....and over an hour. We took the short loop...and headed back....with about 10 miles to go.

The hills still sucked....the snow was still loose in spots....sticky in others. My Panaracer tires were a good match to the snow...but there were a few times when they would grip the sides and try to take me down. Never fell....but there were some moments.

So....yeah...I rode in the snow. Not my favorite thing to do. Stupid even. But you know....I was having fun. It felt good to be outside and just riding....with no timeline. I was even enjoying it....might have smiled once or twice.

Good day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

First Singletrack of 2012

This past Sunday was going to be excellent weather. Highs approaching 40. I packed up all my junk and headed to Yankee Springs to meet up with some friends for a loop. The tentative plan was to ride a lap of Yankee, then a short course Barry Roubaix. In theory it sounded like a reality....well.....not so much.

When we started it was about 25 degrees or so. It was Jay, Tompkins, Stewie, Summer, J. J., Charles and I in our group. Off we went. Right away.....I got dumped out the back but Dan S. stuck with me because he was on his Surly Moonlander. That bike is like a tank...but another story none the less. I knew it was going to be rough, but the cold air in my lungs was not helping anything. I just rode my pace and figured the rest of the group would be waiting up ahead somewhere.

Even after a decent month on the trainer in January, I am still showing effects of not riding much the second half of 2011. Legs felt like crap.....3 miles in....yippee. I knew I would struggle....but I wasn't going to quit. If it took me 2 days to get around there I was going to finish.

The fun started when Dan and I caught the rest of the group. We regrouped at the bottom of a "trench" climb that is just a sign of what this trail contains in the remaining 7-8 miles. Tompkins was on his SS so the green light was given to a very amusing and strict sounding "get the ___ moving!"  lol. Even though I was suffering....the fun was just beginning.

I love riding at Yankee because it gives you so many different terrains and difficulties. Roots, rocks, sand, hills, small drops, stumps, log jams, and off camber descents match up with the switchbacks and flowing sections. After regrouping yet again the conversation went downhill.....and I am not sure if my eyes were watering from the 20 degree temps....or from laughing so hard. I won't get into all of the topics.....because it was surely a "you had to be there" moment!

The turn towards the trailhead is always my favorite section of the trail. The beginning of the end is signalled by a steep blast up a mat covered climb. Thankfully Tompkins was standing there to give me a much needed "boost" to get up the hill.....and then an additional "boost" when I about half way up. Thanks Dan!  Made it....then the 4 or so miles back are fun with some still challenging climbs.

Made it. Not going to talk about times....average speeds....number of stops or anything like that. Just know that I am thankful for teammates and friends that are willing to wait up for a slow guy like me. I know what I need to do.....and that is what I am going to do.