Surviving a Smackdown

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Today was my first day out on full team road ride in over a year. I coughed, gasped for mercy, got dropped, then was allowed to get back on,  I gagged on my water bottle, hit a turtle sized pothole, felt my legs whine like little school children, brought up the rear as I limped up the local mini hill, and suffered as I helped lead out during the last town line sprint. I did not set any records for myself. I did not find any superhuman strength in my legs. I wasn’t even able to fully hang on throughout the whole ride. However, I bypassed any efforts I had been able to achieve for quite sometime. All while hanging on to one of the fastest rides I had done in over 18 months. At the end of the ride, I was able to roll in together with the group. Today was a good day.

Riding with Babbo

Biking with dad
One of the many qualities that separates me from a pure racer is my inability to draw the iron gate that separates total ride focus from the thoughts that tend to taint the purity of my ride. Over the past week my focus has not aligned with what I was attempting to accomplish through winter training. Concern, worry, and distraction, have all entered and magnified themselves to the point where my enthusiasm for the ride creeps toward apathy.  Especially when concern about the health for the ones I love overwhelm and cloud my mind. A new challenge faces me now. It is not one that can be gauged on the Garmin or any powermeter.

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Stark Yet Sublime

early march road ride

Sometimes the perfect birthday gift is something you cannot buy. In this case it was the perfect early spring day for a road ride. Forty five degrees, and a mid afternoon sun that warmed the cheeks and nose. All while simultaneously being challenged by a sharp little headwind that tested our legs on an early season scoot. My cycling sensei felt this perfectly stark backdrop captured the spirit of our day’s ride.

As usual he was right.

The Eve of a New Season

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When I drove out to pick up my kids from their mid winter activities tonight I looked out across the neighbor’s front yard. The street light was shining and a sheen glistened over a glossy frozen crust that had developed over the snow that had been sitting there for the past 2 months. Actually it was quite beautiful and even a bit appetizing. Like glazed vanilla icing over a freshly baked Krispy Creme doughnut. But, still in it’s mouth-watering beauty it was a reminder of the cold winter that had pummeled me.  For the last 3 months it might have affected me as a slightly disheartening reality. Not tonight. Tonight it was merely a gift.

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Brightie Whities

brightie-whities

I’ve always said there was no better feeling than taking that maiden ride with newly taped set of handlebars. That “all is right” sensation the first time I roll out of my garage with hands on fresh new tape. So grippy, so padded, so clean! I even feel faster, fresher, and re-energized. To me there is no better return that comes from such minimal investment. It’s like stepping out of a shower and putting on a fresh new pair of clean white cotton underwear.

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KEEPING THE TEMPO

courtesy of Eric Fan http://displate.com/displate/13193/
courtesy of Eric Fan http://displate.com/displate/13193/

It is true that when you take to the roads you should be listening to nothing other than the silence of your perfectly tuned machine, with only the wind and the humming of the rubber to the road to break the pure silence. Thus the perfect cycling soundtrack. But once your training moves indoors the sounds shift. It is now critical to shape the tempo as you spin, mash, pump and grind along in your own little pain cave. This sonic cyclo-sphere will be the mosh pit that gets you through your intervals and tempo sessions and hopefully guarantees that come springtime, you are ready. You are the hamster- spinning infinitely with only the pellets of your favorite driving Eminem beat as your motivating fuel.

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GET ON WITH IT

abr liscense Last week I received a simple little piece of mail that would singularly readjust my focus, efforts,  drive, and perspective every time I get on my bike. It was my American Bicycle Racing license. I opened it and chuckled to myself that I paid $25 for the privilege of sacrifice, self-inflicted pain and countless smack downs at the hand (or should I say the legs) of the fitter and the faster. Funny thing how this license, wheel tag and a set of stickers might be the most meaningful pieces of paper I would receive all year.

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Frankie and the Cat’s Ass

Frank and his Gitane bike
Frankie’s senior picture

Frankie was a trailblazer. It was 1985 and my high school-aged brother comes home with what? A new bike. Our friends are buying stereos for their rusted out shit-can Chevys and Oldsmobiles but Frankie bought a bike.  I guess we both had been tilting an ear and a flipping’ an eyeball to the TV coverage of the American phenom and the goings on overseas in the world of international bicycle racing. However even with Lemond making noise, It was still a very quiet sport. Especially in the “get the F outta my way, cause I own the F ‘n road and no cyclists should ever be caught dead riding on the streets of the Motor F’n City!”

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Adjust Your Winter Ride Mindset

fat bike on trail
therapy after dark

Fatbikes are not fast. Yes, there are more nimble options for navigating trails. Yes, they may feel a bit clunky. Yes, believe it or not there is actually a learning curve on how to set up and ride one to get the most out of it. And yes, and if you are out to find the most efficient all around ride for the most part, this is not it.
 But if that is what you are seeking then you are missing the whole point.

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