Saturday, September 29, 2007

Trail Ride...

Today's weather was absolutely beautiful. Although the Memorial Park trails were open, I knew they would be crowded. Not mention traffic along Memorial would be bad due to a closure of I-10. I took a short road trip instead...

Just a short drive up I-45 to the north lies Huntsville State Park. The park is filled with fast single track trails, and a couple of nice views of Lake Raven.

There are some nice bridges throughout the trail system, too.

Beware, the trails are very sandy. You have to be careful of the sand out here. Sometimes the sand is hidden under pine straw, and you will have absolutely no idea it's there until you can't steer. The sand also zaps your momentum on climbs, and often hides in the low spots just before a climb, killing all momemtum. There are spots where its deep enough to stop you cold. But for the most part, once you get used to it, it's fun go slip-sliding through it. Just don't try to steer your way out of trouble or make any quick decisions!

Overall, I like the trails. They are fast, but not scary technical. Overall, a great place to practice multiple skills. I'll be back out there soon. It's hard to beat the convience!

By coincidence, I decided to test out a pair of Kenda Nevegals gathering dust in my spare room. I'm very glad I did. My usual Maxxis CrossMarks would not have done well in this sandy environment...

I'm in love with these with these tires! I ran them at 35 psi and the grip over roots, through sand, and rocks was simply awesome! Like any tire they did wash out in the sandy turns, but gave plenty of warning, before they simply broke away and fell out from under me. Except for the clayey hardpack of deep east Texas, these are my new trail tire. The CrossMarks are still better on the hard stuff, and are faster rollers.

The highlight of the day was coming upon two white-tail deer. They were less than 50 yards away before they went running off through the woods... I couldn't get the camera out near fast enough...

Tomorrow... rest day... maybe a bike cleaning...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Observations from the Saddle

Last nights ride was a 22-mile endurance, ie slow, ride. It was a long-ish ride though. I've ridden 30-mile rides a couple of weeks ago, but tonight's was harder. Why? Well, over the past few weeks I've basically just ridden AMAFAP. AMAFAP is as much, as fast, as possible.

Tonight, watching my heart rate montior and keeping a constant high Zone 2 rate proved to me that I wasn't riding as hard as I thought when I was pushing things, and I wasn't getting the recovery I needed when I was going slow. This is why it's best to follow a plan! I learned this lesson last year, but forgot this.

So I was supposed to maintain Zone 2 heart rate. I did for the most part. At times it was hard not to drop the hammer. Hardest when I got passed up by a girl. A cute girl. On a single speed, no less! I realize it isn't a race until it's a race... but getting blown past by a girl... on a single speed no less... it's really hard not to put the hammer down!!

Seeing this young lady pedaling with her high cadence got me to thinking... I know a LOT more girls that ride single speed than guys. Yet, riding single-speed is supposedly a "manly" thing to do....hmm... I seem to recall that females have more fast twitch muscle mass. (That may be backwards, I'm not sure). Maybe that's why they do well with the high cadence of a S-S.

I pondered this for the last 45-minutes of my ride... told you these slow rides are boring! Oh, I did see a biker almost hit a opening car door on Heights Blvd... but he dodged it!

I got about 2 miles from the house when my heart monitor started acting up. It would show 220 bpm, then nothing, then it worked ok for a few seconds. Finally, after about 10 minutes of this, it just quit completely. I'm pretty sure its the chest strap battery. Remebering my average speed from last night's ride, I just matched gear and speed and assumed my heartrate would be the same. That's all I could do. Not 15 minutes later, the battery in my iPod went dead! Now that made me mad! These Zone 2 rides are boring enough. So I enjoyed the solitude and and hum of my tires across the pavement. All too soon it was over.

Back Yard Visitor

As I strolled up to my house yesterday, I noticed a rare visitor. A huge, and beautiful butterfly was hanging out. She landed on some flowers, and I snagged a picture.

Surprisingly she wasn't frightened off immediately and I was able to get a pretty close shot... You don't see butterflies much anymore... or is it just me?

It was not easy to do, but I stayed off the bike for almost 2-weeks. During this time I worked on my 2008 training plan. I'm pretty much satisfied with it. I'm sure the plan will evolve as the year progresses. For this year, I've reduced my periods from 4-weeks + 1-rest to 3-weeks +1-rest. As a consequence I've added and extra Base and extra Build period.

My first day of the new plan started out with a 2x20 Lactate Threshold test. Curiously, my LT seems to have dropped quite a bit since the last time I tested it. I don't think that's due to a 2-week break. It could be, but there are so many variables that go into this test, it could be a lot of things. It will be interesting to see how it responds to training. I have adjusted my heart-rate training zones two steps down on Friel's chart. If I feel unchallenged in the Build periods, I'll put them back!

Training in the Base levels isn't very entertaining! I'm not pushing any boundaries at this stage. As boring as they are to ride, they are even more boring to write (and read) about. Don't expect much training news for the next couple of weeks! Tonight's ride for instance is simply a Zone 3 ride, for 1h30m. Tough not to drop the hammer…

Friday, September 21, 2007

Two Inspiring Quotes During My Layoff

The most important characteristic that an athlete can possess is the ability to constantly implement new behaviors; new behaviors that are unnatural, and yet advantageous to the athlete.

- Ed Keller

I contend that someone who has a life filled with relationships and activities that are important to them are the wealthiest. To arrive at fulfilling life there are two key steps; determining what is most important in one's life and the hardest part, developing into that type of person who through consistant actions can reveal what is important to them.

- Ive

Training resumes 9/24 for Spring 2008.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Getting Closer

Houston was graced with it's first fall-like day on Saturday. I took advantage of the weather to work outdoors on the MR2. Todays task - prep the front bumper for painting. Here's what I started with..

Lots of peeling and spider webbing. The previous owner simply painted over the TOYOTA sticker letters, rather than taking the time to remove them!!

I took the lettering off! I'll replace it with new letters when I'm done with the painting...

I got the cover to about this point with 80 grit paper, before switching over to 220 grit wet paper to end up with this..

Sanding out the cut outs for the turn signals took some patience...

The final product...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mingo Fishtrap!

Last night me and some friends journeyed to Warehouse Live to see one of my favorite bands - Mingo Fishtrap. These guys are awesome musicians and it was good to see them in Houston. Here's a couple of photos from the show...

Check them out at their website to hear what they sound like...there so many influences in their music. They play a fun show too, there were only a couple people there not shakin' down!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Is It Too Late To Rename My Blog?

If not, I'd like to change it to "Motor Booty Affair" after the 1978 Parliament album. That was the soundtrack for today. George Clinton's band PLUS Maceo Parker EQUALS some wicked mother funk. With a track like "Rumpofsteelskin" how can you go wrong?

Tonight, is Mingo Fishtrap at Warehouse Live. More funk, yeah!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Saying Goodbye to 2007 Early

A long heart-to-heart talk tonight with a good friend EK -- my quasi-cycling coach, financial advisor and doctor. The result: my 2007 racing season is effectively over. But I'm OK with that. Next year looks brighter than last - far brighter than ever.

I embarked on a journey almost 6 years ago to learn about myself. A journey necessary because there was a gulf between what I believed what I was, and what I actually am. An that gulf has narrowed significantly. I like who I am, more so than what how I used to see myself. So before I turn my eyes to the future, I want to reflect on what I've learned this year on my journey of self-discovery. Here's an abridged list...

  1. The desire to compete - and win - is not an elitist endeavor. Racers always strive for excellence, but nothing is more humbling than being in the presence of other people dedicated to greatness.
  2. Don't listen to the naysayers. When I tell people of my racing goals, I often get the "You're crazy" response. Racing hasn't left me feeling crazy. It's left me feeling fit, healthy and active. The people that try to squash your dreams are those that have given up on their own.
  3. You are never too old. I've been told I'm too old for this probably a hundred times. (I'm paraphrasing SeanL here...) People are always saying how they're getting old as if they revel in it. That "old" talk is a bad philosophy. Aging is a part of life, but getting old is a state of mind. I felt older at 26 than I do now at 34.
  4. The life of a racer will always be unconventional. Many people will not understand it. Don't let that bother you.
  5. Winning at racing is not really very hard. However, losing is a lot easier.
  6. Never underestimate sources of inspiration. Inspiration and encouragement can come from sources both near and far. Read SeanL's blog from the beginning. Read Bruce's blog, a guy who started mountain bike racing at 50, to inspire his wife. Read Pinkgurugal's blog and walk away uninspired - I dare you. I've never met any of these people, but they are testaments of what CAN be done with a lot of heart, soul and determination.
  7. In racing sponsors are golden. Never, ever underestimate the belief that someone willing to give you massive amounts of money to go racing has in your ability to succeed. Their investment isn't to have you win, but to see you grow. Grow, no matter the cost. That is your obligation to them, not to win immediately.
  8. Keep your perspective. Racing is fun. Whether it be on a bike or in a car. When it ceases to be fun, it's time to take a break. Take a day off. Have a beer. Have twelve if that's what it takes. Never lose sight of that.

I could ramble on about the lessons learned, but it's time to look forward to 2008. I've posted my spring mountain bike race schedule to the right. It starts in February, so no time like the present to get ready!

Sore to the Core

A stability ball and two medicine balls. These are instruments of torture that the Gimp (..think Pulp Fiction) would be proud of...

Yesterday was core strength workout. I actually enjoy doing this workout. I can tell the benefits to my cycling, especially my trail skills. The idea is to strengthen the muscles that support your body while upright, or in odd positions - like biking. These are muscles that you rarely exert - until you need them. If they fail, you are suseptable to injury and/or falling.

You use your core muscles at all times every day, and for most movement. Work these muscles to soreness and you are sore at all times every day, and for most movement! Today, I'm moving like an 80-year old man. But I know tomorrow the soreness will abate, and I'll feel better than I did before my workout. Soreness is a test of your belief that you will feel better as a result of the pain. Good thing there's no way to chicken out on soreness - the damage is already done.

Rest tonight, long ride tomorrow.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nutrition Is Important

Yesterday I paid the price for my poor nutrition on Friday and Saturday. My legs were very sore. Much more sore than they would normally be after a ride of this length. This forced me into an unplanned rest day.


Since there was to be no training I worked on the MR-2. My task today was to prep the rear rubber bumper cover. Normally, I'd just replace the cover with a new one. However some the bracket bolts are severely rusted. I'm afraid if I got it off, I won't be able to get the replacement on. So, I'm stripping all the existing paint off, back to the bare cover.

Notice how uneven the paint is. It's also spider webed really bad to. I suspect there was no flex additive used...

Because the repaint done by the previous owner is so thick, I started out with 80 grit. I had to be careful not to cut into the plastic cover with this rough of a grit, as filling sanding grooves isn't much of an option.

After this I hit it with some 220-grit, wet. and ended up with this...

There's still some clean up and detail work to be done, but this is the bulk of it. Car painting isn’t for the obsessive-compulsive. And I must remind myself that this car is (by no stretch) worth a *perfect* paint job.

Next session, I will prep the front bumper cover...


I grilled up some chicken breasts and fajita meat also on Sunday. I started by marinating the chicken and beef in a mixture of /Jack Miller's bar-b-que sauce/ and vinegar. I let these sit for about 2-hours. In the meantime, I fired up the grill...

Nothing like a nuclear-esqe fireball in the backyard... While the grill was getting ready, I also made the basting sauce.

For this, I used about 2 parts Jack Miller's, 1 part sesame oil, 1 part vinegar, a big dash of balsamic vinegar. Heat until the components are able to be mixed together, and it's ready. Apply with a brush each time you turn the meat.

Here is my happily glowing grill...

And here are my chicken fajitas, ready to be rolled up and devoured...


After feeling the effects of poor eating I’ve vowed to be more careful with my nutrition. Being a guy on-the-run it’s often difficult to find time to cook. And sometimes, I just outright forget like last Friday. And even more times, I just get lazy.

So last night I borrowed an idea from the Supper Studio in Baton Rouge. The idea is to do all (or most) of the preparations for your meals at once. I thought I’d give it a try this week. I prepped for several meals by chopping tomatoes, onions, peppers, left over fajita meats, and grating cheese. I also repackaged a bunch of grapes into individual baggies and boiled some eggs. I like to have these for snacks (egg whites only) in the morning. I did this, because I like to snack on grapes at work. But the odds of me futzing around with a boiling eggs and packing up grapes, when I’m bleary-eyed and rushing off to work are about zero.

Now during the week, I don’t have to drag out the chopping board, spend the time to chop veggies, and then clean up the ensuing mess. I’m a very messy cook. Nor do I have to deal with teary eyes from chopping onions. It saves time, reduces the dishes I have to do during the week, and makes cooking much less of a hassle.



Saturday, September 8, 2007

Got My Wish

Beware the power of the blogger. The rain abated, and I got my ride in... humid, let me tell ya! About 10 miles into my planned 30 miles, I got cramps bad. Side stiches. I haven't had side stiches on the bike. And they didn't clear. Had to stop for a rest and some Shot Bloks. While sitting there pondering just what was wrong, I remembered that I only ate about 950 calories yesterday. And to be honest, I didn't eat that good of a breakfast... Nutrition... it is important.

After about 20 minutes and five Clif Shot Bloks, I restarted, debating whether to add five miles for the break, or just finished my planned 30. I decided to finish my planned 30. About an hour into things I could barely breathe. My heart rate wasn't unusually elevated, and my effort wasn't excessive, but my lungs simply couldn't support the effort. I've never had this happen before, and I don't know why it happened today. Not being able to breathe is a bad thing. I had to cut my pace back to a mid zone 3 rate. Scary low.

I suspect the cause is allergies. I also noted a massive amount of, well, snot production. Like post nasal drip down my throat almost gagging me. Yuck! After about 20 minutes of fighting through the goo, it was gone almost as fast as it had appeared. So off I went, everything was fine. Near the end, the symptoms reappeared, and I just cut things short and went home. That was enough...

It felt like the ride was harder than it should have been.


Two weeks ago I injured my index and middle finger. My buddy who's an ER doc took one look at them and told me they were broke. He offered to x-ray them, but said since the weren't dislpaced it was at worst just hairlines and would heal on their own. He also offered to splint them, but I noted that with the swelling, they were pretty much immobilized on their own... They didn't hurt, because the swelling prevented me from bending them to the point that pain began. They've been doing good, and I've been using them - though carefully - for the last week. I still don't have full range of motion with them, but the weren't hurting much. Just couldn't move them as much as my other fingers...

Until tonight... I was wringing out a cycling jersey when all of the sudden my index finger went *pop* and I went *OOOOWWWWW!!!* It hurt worse than than the original injury. Now it's swelling up again...

Rain Rain Go Away

Actually, I'm so desparate to ride, I'd take the rain. The lightening however....

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Return Of The Office Sweet Bandit

Last week, someone put a piece of bananna creme pie on my desk when I wasn't around. Today, someome left me some cookies...

Dark semi-sweet chocolate and white chocalate. I ate them. They were good. Still don't know who the bandit is. Oh, I just remembered my work laptop has a camera built in, I think... hmmm...


Went out for my loop ride this evening. I came upon this cat lying in the middle of the road. I rode up to it, and it didn't move. I kinda slowed down, and made some noise, so he would get out of the road. Not a budge. So I figured he had used up his ninth life and had expired. There were no visible signs of trauma, but I wasn't going to investigate further...

Then the idea to bunny him came to mind. It's kind of a proof of your confidence to hop roadkill. Missing it, can have pretty aweful consequences... I was feeling confident, so I looped around and went for it... I had him line up... cranks level... knees loose... compress... WHAT THE ??? My roadkill, wasn't dead, and I no doubt scared him. He screeched and jumped about three feet into the air. I suppose seeing a bicycle wheel heading directly for you will do that! I'm just glad he didn't get tangled up into my spokes!

No harm to the kitty. I supposed I could have rode over his tail or something first... or maybe I should leave roadkill alone...

He hung around though, and I grabbed a shot of him giving me me the evil eye... That is one unhappy kitty.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tough Week

Difficult describes last week the best. I did in fact, break my index and middle fingers on my left hand in my accident last Sunday. They stayed swollen all week. I couldn't even bend them enough to make them hurt until this Saturday. They surely weren't going to be operating any brake levers! So last week, was spent off the bike. The Camp Eagle race was a no-go too... I don't want to write about that... it still hurts.


I got lost trying to find a firend's new house. In my wandering I ran across this gem. Two intersecting streets with the same name. Well, technically one is "Timber Creek Place Drive" and the other is a "Timber Creek Place Lane". There is also a "Timber Creek Place Street" and "Timber Creek Place Court". And, they all cross each other at some point in maze-like layout. Who was the uncreative person that named these streets? How'd you like to be the mailman for this neighborhood! Yikes.


Although most people have come to believe this blog is titled Bike-Scars, it originally started out Bikes-Cars. I was kind of fond of the double-entandre. Given the past week, the former may be more appropriate... nonetheless, here - finally - is come car driven content!

Saturday, I moved my car to my buddy's house. I will be painting it in his garage. As you can see, it badly needs painting! It acutally looked better than this, I'm just in the middle of prepping the car for paint.

I started to wear a mask when I was driving it down the street!

Later that day, my neighbor asked me where my car was. He mentioned that he found his place on Google Maps by locating the car in the photo, as the address locations are off slightly... so I checked it out... Sure enough, there it is parked outside of the garage in the back yard. (Far right of the photograph). I had it moved there to make room for a party we had at the house... neat.

Look for more progress, as this is my fall mission to get this car painted. I miss my sportscar. And no, it won't be yellow again!


Today I was able to actuate the front brake lever without screaming! I can't really put much pressure on it, but enough that if I accidently grab it, it wasn't going to cause me to see stars.

Fresh legs felt great! I had great speed this evening! So I ran about as hard as I could. It felt so good to be back in the saddle. I think I may have ridden too long though...

I loaded up some awesome music into the iPod. It was the Soulive show from JazzFest 2003, at Tipitina's. Between Ivan Neville singing, and Karl Denson on sax, Carlos Washington on trumpet, and the usual Soulive crew the music was as good tonight as it was at 2:00 AM, at Tip's, four years ago. Nothing but contagious energy! I rode my program for the evening, and rolled upto the house as the last song started. Its a song called "Do It Again!".

(Alan) If you had fun tonight and you just don't want it to eennddd..
(Crowd) Aww do it again!

Now how could I stop in the middle of that jam? I didn't want the night to end, so I did my loop again! I'm going to sleep good tonight!