Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Flip the switch

The last few days have been interesting. I noticed on Sunday that things seemed different for me. When I was on the trainer for 90 minutes on Sunday it didn't bother me. I had been struggling to get an hour in...and sometimes settling for 45 minutes on occasion. That ride on Sunday though just seemed different. I didn't mind the time and just was thinking about the first race of the season in March. I just pedaled for 90 minutes and was fairly relaxed on the bike.

Monday was a scheduled rest day. I was going to spin for 30-45 minutes at an easy pace just to keep my legs loose but I opted for extra sleep instead. Glad I did. I felt very rested on Tuesday and I had another 90 minute session on the schedule. I put on a movie and pedaled for 90 more minutes. This ride was a little less comfortable because of the steady state intervals (3x10 min) that were mixed into the ride. The first one was easy. Comfortable. The second I noticed that my focus was on maintaining cadence and breathing. I easily could have gone out of the SS range but my breathing was controlling my heart rate. The third was hard. I didn't think 10 minutes at a higher heart rate would be difficult but by the last 5 minutes I was ready to be done. After the third set I still had 28 minutes left of my 90 minutes. I did an easy pedal for 5 minutes then a moderate cruising speed for the remainder of the ride. Again, just a different feeling on the bike than I had even last week. Kind of like a switch was turned on.

Say what you want but I know that if you are not in the right frame of mind that you will not be able to accomplish anything. Confidence? Perhaps, but I don't think that is it. I think for me it is the desire to be better. I can say I want to be better but until I actually WANT to be better I will never get better. With 12 weeks until my first race I WANT and NEED to be better. I think this started last Saturday when I was sitting with a few of my team members. We were talking about bike choice for Barry Roubaix in March. I just started thinking that it is time to get in gear. I made a spreadsheet comparing gear ratio vs. speed of my Epic and Defy. I want to ride the Defy (with CX tires) because I will be way faster. The issue is gearing on the Epic is clearly better for hills. So, the choice I have is to ride the Epic or get stronger and ride the Defy. David W. told me to ride the Defy and if I can't make a hill to get off and run. Makes sense. So, because I want to ride the Defy and I know time is closing in I had the switch flipped. It is on and I am going to work my ass off to get in race shape. 

Do you have a switch?












One other thing. I saw this picture and it reminded me of myself. I am a person of average intelligence but I have doubts about the decisions I make. This makes me less confident in myself. I work, or have worked, with people that are the other way. They are so confident that they are right that they prove their stupidity on a daily basis. Just food for thought.
courtesy of www.lifelovequotesandsayings.com



Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Rush

This weekend was fun filled and busy. Started off Saturday by joining a group of teammates and friends to help another teammate move into a new place. I gotta say, when the time comes for me to move these are the people I will call. We were highly effieient in the moving process and made 2 trips with a full u-haul to accomplish the task. We were done by 1pm. When I got home I fixed a leaky toilet valve and changed the ballast in the kitchen light. Then, relaxed and watched movies and played with the kids.

Sunday we headed to a birthday dinner for Zack with my Dad, Gail, Josh, Jenn, McKenna, and our herd. After stuffing good food in and visiting for a few hours we headed home and started to prepare for the week ahead. We were under another winter weather advisory but not really for snow. We got some freezing rain and over 300 schools in our area were closed today. Anyway, I missed my ride on Saturday so I planned for a longer ride on Sunday. After I put the kids in bed I picked a movie and headed to the trainer.

I have been struggling mentally to sit on the trainer for even an hour. I just think I have been getting bored. We have netflix so it is dumb for me to not watch a movie or get into a series this winter. Last night I picked Act of Valor as my movie. I knew I would need something to keep my attention because I was planning on 90 minutes. The schedule called for just a cruise, no intervals. I basically found my cruising speed and watched this movie with my eyes glued to the screen. Very intense. Very real. Very sad. The first hour went by very quick. The next 15 minutes were very quick too. Then my body said "WTF are you doing" and while the last 15 minutes were not hard, they were not as easy as the first 75. I rode 90 minutes at a clip of 16mph. Say what you want about speed and "that isn't very fast" or whatever else you want. It is the end of the first week of training for me and this was just a base mileage ride.

So, for the week I am down 1.25 pounds. Not bad, but I need to put my weekends in check so I can lose more consistently around 2 pounds. I am the lightest I have been in 2013....so I am heading in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lake Effect

As a Southwest Michigan resident I am used to snow. I live in the snow belt, so when the snow falls it can fall for days at a time. We get this lovely thing called "lake effect" and it will snow a ton in short bursts when these so-called "snow bands" set up shop. As of Monday we have gotten around 18" of snow. There was no snow on the ground Saturday and my normal 25 minute drive home turned into an hour. I am from Michigan. It is January. I know this is normal. It just makes me glad that I can torture myself for hours on a stationary trainer. I am just glad that we don't have the cold that Wisconsin has. A friend of mine moved there last year and the windchill was -25 this morning. It was only -4 here and the snow looks nice. They barely had any! ha.
Photo courtesy of Visit Traverse City
 What this weather does do is make me crave another form of riding. There are numerous Fat Bike races going on this year. I do not have a Fat bike. I don't even ride a 29er yet. The bike below is from 616 Bicycle Fabrication. A new company here in my area code. Dan S. just got a few in and he rode his on our ride last Saturday. Sweet looking frame and fat bikes just look cool to begin with. I want but need to upgrade the mountain bike first.
Photo courtesy of 616 Bicycle Fabrication
What is the point? Well, these fat bikes have turned winter from an occasional riding season to a season where people are riding, and racing, year round. I think they are here to stay based on the clubs and races popping up all over the place. Maybe eventually I will own one. Maybe not. I know for sure that I will ride one this year. A guy I ride with has invited me to demo one from the shop where he works. Should be a blast...especially since we have so much snow. But tonight I will spin on the trainer and maybe watch videos of fat bike races.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When the weather outside if frightful

I really don't mind riding in the snow. I have somewhat decent gear and I stay relatively warm. This past Saturday there was a ride planned because one of my teammates is having hip replacement surgery. We all wanted one more ride before he can't ride again for a few months.

The ride was planned to start at 11am and I was thankful because that meant the temps would be higher. What I wasn't planning for was temps pushing 40. I was actually overdressed for a ride in January. Funny huh. Onto the ride. Brian, Jay, Dan S., Angela and I took off and rode the Red loop at Fort Custer and took a few different routes to end up with about 9 or 10 miles. The trail was a strange mix of snow, soft dirt, mud, and a little ice. The conditions always kept you on your toes that is for sure. It was a solid ride on a beautiful day in January. After the ride Gwen had soup waiting along with a few other people. We laughed a lot while eating our hot soup and then it was time for me to head home.

The temperatures dropped on Sunday. From 40 down to the teens overnight and the snow started. Living in Southwest Michigan we have this nasty thing called "lake effect" snow. It will snow 8" in one place and 5 minutes down the road they will have barely any. In my town we have around 10" from the last two days and it has been snowing all day again. About time January got here. Anyway, when temperatures drop into single digits I don't care to ride outside. I have my trainer set up and I will gladly spin for an hour versus getting frostbite. I spun on the trainer Sunday night and I noticed something. My legs felt heavy and sore. It is truly amazing how different riding outdoors is when compared to a simple spin on the trainer. Then it occurred to me....maybe I am not riding hard enough on the trainer. The problem with that thinking is that I am early into a 12 week training program and the workouts build every week. So I pushed those thoughts away and finished my ride. Today it is in the single digits again and I do not plan on riding outside. I will maybe find a video on youtube of people riding in Hawaii or somewhere warm and spin for a bit.


Brian is my teammate that is having surgery and I am not sure how I feel about this situation. I have been chasing him for the past two years and just when I get to the point where I might be able to beat him I find out he has been nursing an injury for some time. Now, he will go under the knife and will lose some speed. I wonder how fast he will be when he can ride pain free. I was just pacing him and he has a bad hip. Once that hip is healed up with shiny new parts in there I might be in trouble. More incentive.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cheaters

First of all, I am not going to post about L.A. because I know what I think of him and I really don't care what anyone else thinks of him. It is done and in the past....so I choose to let it go.

Second, yes...I am going to talk about cheating, but I am talking on many different levels. I will start at the top and it will trickle down to the Beginner level.

Professional cheaters:  We all know that riders have been using performance enhancers for years. Many have tested positive and some haven't. The main thing I want to touch on is in the simple form "if everyone else is doing it.....why can't I?"   This is not just in cycling. I am talking across the board with professional athletes. Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens are just two examples of major impact players that used some sort of drug to make them better. Ricky Williams gave up professional football for a few years because he would rather smoke weed. I realize this is a different drug, but I can't think of a football player off the cuff that has been popped for steroids. So if these guys are using enhancers, like some in the peloton, why can't the other guys use the same thing to even the playing field. Simple answer, it is cheating. These guys are looking for an edge to make them better. Sure, hard work and dedication might work but everyone is chasing dollars and to compete some people need that little boost. I wonder if a large number of the peloton started eating shit for dinner if the rest of the group would follow suit.

Local cheaters:  On my level the cheating is done way differently than popping pills or sticking a needle in an arm. It might be subtle. A guy, or girl, that should be racing in Sport but decides a pile of cheap medals or trophies is in order might drop to Beginner and win by 20 minutes. I hope that makes you feel good that you can destroy people that are slower than you are. I also hope you know that everyone knows who you are and they hate you. I know there are always the times when a person is first racing and really doesn't know what class to enter so they jump in Beginner. I would hope if they win by 20 minutes that they take consideration into moving up to the next class. I could have stayed in Beginner another year just to go out and try to win, but the challenge for me was to move up and see what I could accomplish. Got smashed every race I entered, but I figure that was more fun that trying to stay in a group that I don't belong in anymore.

MAJOR cheater....maybe not:  At a race last year that was a time trial I was checking my time against the winning times of Beginner...for a little ego boost. Upon looking at my time I would have finished in 2nd....nearly 28 minutes slower than 1st place. Huh? I couldn't believe that my time was that high...but I would have lost by 28 minutes. Yeah....you cheated dude. So looking at this guys time I was like "damn, that dude is fast....especially for a clyde....a beginner clyde". I couldn't help myself and I looked at the top times for entire race. His was first. Not first in Beginner, but first OVERALL. He beat experts, elites, everyone that touched a pedal that day and he raced Beginner Clyde? Yikes. I can tell you exactly how this guy cheated and it may or may not have been on purpose. The course had an intersection where you were supposed to go left and then you come back into the same intersection and go right. Maybe he went right and cut out say....30 minutes of trail from his race. I don't know the guy and nobody complained so the standings held but I wonder if the dude stood on the podium and was thinking "I am a cheater"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Missed opportunity

Due to poor planning on my part I missed a ride in 50 degree temperatures in January in Michigan. Blech. I should have drug my ass out of bed and gone to ride.....but it never occurred to me until I walked outside that it was a beautiful day. I took the time to find all of my clothes and swap the tires out on my Defy. I even had water bottles ready and a plan of attack for a 70+ mile ride.....with no snow....in January. The only problem was that I never thought about my poor son. The reason we were headed to Indiana was for my little sisters baby shower. Poor Zack would have been stuck sitting with 20 women for hours....and I didn't want to do that to him. That brings me back to the first point....that I shoulda just got up and rode in the morning. We didn't get home until after midnight and the window of 50 degree air closed again and we had snow falling by noon. Sure....I could have bundled up and gone for a ride.....but it was Zacks birthday and I had some cake and ice cream to eat.

Not a good week of eating...mainly on Saturday. I did have cake for Zack's birthday but I feel miserable today. Again, no excuses....I just really like food...and until I squash that line of thinking I will be the size I am.


On the way to Indiana we took a very hilly route. The hill below is one that I rode my bike down years ago....I went so fast that I think my bearings were grabbing a bit....which was scary....but damn was it fun! Now...the pic doesn't really do it justice....it is only about .6 miles from the intersection to the top...but it is steep. I saw one guy riding up this hill and he was struggling.....I will ride up this hill. I will plan better in the future and my route will take me here....this year....and I will mark it off my list.....
I will conquer this hill some day....

Monday, January 7, 2013

Update: right the ship

I posted a weight loss again this week. I am sitting down 2.25 pounds for the week. Considering I didn't train once this past week I will take the weight loss. I have talked about hitting the trainer day after day....but I haven't. I need to.....and I will indeed this evening. I have to.....I need to....I want to. Gotta get this ass kicking thing in gear. Bring it on.



On a side note.....I really am looking forward to the training on Barry Roubaix. I must have something wrong with me. I want to ride my bike in the hills....outside....in January....in low temperatures. I think the reason why is because it is fun riding with friends....whether suffering or not. I am just ready to make some major gains this year....in speed....fitness....health.

Live long and prosper.

Friday, January 4, 2013

To my Team: Thank you

Brian B.
Brian reminds me of my Dad. It is funny because he is a fire fighter just like my Dad was for 30+ years. The major difference.....his interest in bikes. I have been chasing you for two years now. I keep getting a little closer every year....but that motivation is enough to keep my trying. Last year we had a group ride at Luton. We were riding really tight together with Lisa. I was feeling pretty good and was pushing Brian a bit. He missed a corner just by a bit and I was able to pass him...for the first time! It has been a lot of fun chasing you around. I am sad to hear that Brian will be having some surgery soon and will miss a few months (potentially) from the bike. This means two things.....I might be faster than Brian for a short time....and I better get in gear because he was faster than me while riding with an injury. Brian, Thank you for being a good friend and teammate. I have enjoyed getting to know you and your awesome family for the past few years. It has been fun suffering with you on training rides and laughing like crazy after races. I look forward to you getting healed up and riding 100% again.

Dan T.
On one of the first training rides I was ever on with this team....Dan was there. He approached me when i was getting ready and said "do you understand how fast you are going to be when you lose the weight?". I didn't take offense to this at all....I instantly started thinking about the potential I had. Dan saw it....and he was giving me the push to get thinner and see how fast I could get. Unfortunetly it hasn't panned out yet...but this is the year that we finally get the answer. We have ridden a lot together over the last two years. Two different century rides. Lots of Barry Roubaix rides. The one that sticks out the most may have been the shortest. I started the Custer TT and was pulling away from the guy I started with. I heard a rider coming and it was Dan T. on his SS. I was redlining and he was talking to me about pacing. I remember his saying "don't do anything stupid" and peeling off to go start his race. Dan, Thank you for helping me see what I was capable of even though I didn't see it myself. My promise to you is to get lighter and see just how fast I can get on a bike. I look forward to riding and having all kinds of humor whenever we are together.

Dave W.
Before I was ever on the team Dave found a way to try to get me faster. On a group ride at Custer one Thursday I heard "Sean, lets go....you aren't going to get any faster sitting in the parking lot". I turned myself inside out that day trying to keep up....to no avail.....but I tried. Just a few days ago Dave told me to "get my ass on that bike". I don't want to say that I am afraid of Dave....but I have tons of respect for Dave. I would like to have the drive and skill set that Dave has and maybe one day be able to keep up with him. On a century ride last year Dave was pulling the group along. He peeled off to take a brake and let someone else do the pace setting. Within a few minutes he was passing me and heading back to the front because the pace was too slow. Ha....he didn't need a break....he just wanted to GO!  Dave, Thank you for being a steady teammate and friend. You always encourage me with just the right amount of anger to make me want to not disappoint you. It has been a pleasure riding, racing and just having a good time with you.

Lisa P.
Lisa is the most steady person I know. She loves to ride and has had a lot of obstacles just like the rest of us. She has always just been even keeled. She gave me a workout video because she felt like I could use it. I have used it....a few times....but uh...I am going to utilize it more this year. On a training ride for Iceman last year I rolled up to a stop sign....and promptly fell over because I couldn't unclip. It would have been very easy for Lisa to laugh....instead she just stated "it happens to everyone" and off we went for the rest of our ride. She has offered me encouragement every step of the way. She was waited for me countless times during training rides....offering tips and company. Lisa, thank you for being awesome. You always seem to know how to motivate and encourage everyone on our team. It was fun riding with you and hanging out at your Aunts pool afterwards. It has been fun kid.

Summer O.
  Summer is a trader. She was offered a pretty sweet deal to ride for another team in 2013. Doesn't really surprise me though....she is an animal. I watched her pull a tag along that had a burly hooked to it around Fort Custer....and not on the pavement or gravel roads...but down the trail. The "mommy train" as it was affectionately called was quite a sight to see. Not only would Summer pull the kids around for a while...but then I would watch her disappear about 20 yards down the trail. Yes...she would pull the kids...and still have enough power to leave me behind. I witnessed Summer go right to the podium on a number of occasions. Summer, thank you for showing me that what seems impossible can be possible. 

Mark B. 
Mark and I haven't ridden together much...maybe once or twice. All I know is that he is an ANIMAL. At Yankee last year he did the race twice and then rode his bike home. I feel like death when I finish a race.....and he was fresh enough to ride home after two events. Mark gave me a great deal on a set of Mavic Crossmax wheels for my Epic and I am still trying to do them justice. Even an injury didn't slow Mark down much last year. Mark, thank you for the deal. Thank you for showing me that slowing down is never an option. I hope to ride with you more this year...and to do my best to keep up!

Jay B.
Jay is like my brother on the team. We rode a lot of training rides together last year. It was fun getting to know Jay and watching him get much faster. It wasn't fun watching him disappear over hills on Barry Roubaix....but it was cool watching a teammate get faster. We rode in a lot of conditions last year. The worst was a blizzard. It started snowing so hard on the last 5 miles of the ride that I couldn't even see his tire tracks. I had a blanket of snow on my front side when that ride ended. Tons of fun! Jay has always offered me encouragement. He has drug me around on training rides and waited for me countless times. 70 miles of Kal-Haven with temps in the 100's or a ride around Fort Custer....always fun. Jay, Thank you for being a good friend and teammate. It was awesome riding with you this past year. I hope to see the same sort of increase in speed that you saw this year. Thanks for giving me encouragement and for all the miles together last year.



Dan S. 
The fearless leader. Dan was one of the first to encourage me to join the team on a Barry Roubaix training ride. He promised to wait up for me because I knew I would struggle. He did and would not let me apologize for holding him up. Dan just flat out loves to ride. Fast, slow, hills, road, centuries, raging blizzards.....Dan and I have ridden them all together. One highlight from last year was the Custer TT. We lined up together at the start line. His exact words to me were "I am just going to cruise the first part".....but when the timer said go....he hammered the first pedal stroke and had a gap on me right away. I kept him in sight for about the first 1/2 mile and then never saw him again. Dan is the guy that drags my ass off the couch and makes me ride. He knows I will be slow and he just doesn't care....he just wants to ride and see other people ride. The major highlight from last year was watching Dan disappear during the last 10 miles of a century ride. He was cramping terribly but kept riding....and dropped me....my Hero. Dan, thank you for allowing me to be part of your team. It has been a fantastic two years and I know this year will be just as awesome. It has been a blast racing with you and riding in every condition from 100 searing heat to 20 degree blizzards. Thank you for making me go out and making me accomplish things that I normally would never even try. I rode more 50+ rides with you this year than I have in the past 3 years combined. Thank you for having a great team and an awesome family. I look forward to riding with you this year and eventually catching you....maybe.....

My Wife
Always my biggest fan. Chelle comes to the races to take pictures of the team and scream for me to ride faster. Chelle always wants me to ride because she knows that it helps me keep my sanity. She would ride too...but bad wrists and a twice broken tail bone make it nearly impossible. I wish she could...but she has fun being drug to races and cheering me on. The team certainly helps that situation. Michelle, thank you for being you. You have gone behind my back with Dan S. to get me a road bike and you have always reminded me that I am better than I give myself credit for. Without you I wouldn't be able to do the things I do. I love you so much.

My Family
These people are ones that get glazed over the most. My 4 kids put up with my crazy sport. Some of them like to ride...some of them don't. Some of them like to come to races....some don't. All I know is that my kids are good sports for coming to the races and even joining in on occasion. Thankfully the promoters make it fun and the team loves you guys just as much as I do. My in-laws even come out to the races to cheer us on. It makes it a lot more fun when everyone is there and I don't feel so guilty for racing. To my family, Thank you guys so much for dealing with the sport that I love. It makes me very happy to see you guys on your bikes or asking to go on a ride. I know I take time to ride for myself but I need you to understand that I will go crazy if I don't. I promise to take you guys more and we will always have fun whether it is riding a bike or playing dominoes after dinner. I am glad that you guys can experience racing and the biking culture with me. I would rather have us on our bikes than playing Xbox or joining eating contests. 


I know I have left a few other teammates out....but you guys know that I love the entire team. Each of you has been a part of my life, and my family, for the past two years. I look forward to a great year with many miles and tons of laughter. Lets make it a good year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 is here!

I missed my update on Monday....because it sucked. Holiday parties and the threat of the new year put my weight up to 263 yet again.....for the last time. All I can say is that I am glad the season is over and I can fire up the 2013 goals. A quick highlight of 2012 first....


I managed real close to 2000 miles for the year. Not bad...but well short of my goal. My weight goal....well....as in years past ended in exactly the same place it started. My weight curve is a reverse bell...it starts high in January and dips to its lowest (238 this year) and then rises back to the 263 by January. I know how to fix this...and I will this year.

I didn't ride on New Years Day last year....maybe on the trainer...but not with friends and teammates. This year I did. It was a 22 degree start to the ride but I was comfortable. The fat bike brigade had the trail groomed nicely and I mustered 9 miles in the cold snow. The year started off right!

So....looking forward is the Barry Roubaix race in March. Lisa, Jay, Dave, Dan T. and I talked about entering the team competition that Rick came up with. Basically....all the times from our team (in the 36 mile category) will be averaged and we will see where we stand against other teams. I thought that only the top 5 times would be averaged...but Rick explains it below.



What does this mean? I do not want to be the weakest link for starters...and to avoid this....I need to get my ass in gear. I have a good plan of attack and have taken in a lot of information from people a lot faster than me....about their struggles....what to eat.....blah blah blah blah blah. No offense to anyone that has given me information....I am just not going to pass it on right now. Focusing on myself is key this year. I will do the work needed in the next 11 weeks to drop as much weight as I can (whilst staying healthy) and see what happens.

My outlook for 2013 is good. I need to keep the focus that I have now and use sheer determination to get to where I want to be....standing on the podium.....