Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Test Of Character

More rain around Houston today. This time of year the repreve from the heat is welcome. It's not raining as I set out for my endurance ride. I depart prepared to get wet.

As I travel down Post Oak the sky is looking ominous, no rain yet. The thunderstorms are side swiping me. I'm getting the cool downdraft air and shade of the clouds without the rain. It's a pleasant evening! A great day to be outside and on me bike. *thunk,thunk,thunk* I get a flat. I quickly change it and continue on my way.

I ramble on... listening to great toons, enjoying the cool evening air. Then I get a massive chain-suck on the hill at Kirkwood. Wait, what? I investigate and find this:

I'm prepared!

But since I don't have a spare Shimano pin I have to fiddle with the repaired link. It's stiff but I think it'll work. It'll have to, because I'm a looong way from home at this point. I've brought my phone. I've also brought my determination. Eventually, I get it and give the crank a spin eager to get going only to discover... something's not right:

HAHA! In rethreading the chain I've somehow fed the chain through the front mech! Yup, repeat the whole chain break process! After about 45min of doddling around with dropped pins, I'm on my way less two chain links...

The link is stiff, but servicable. (You can hear it in that clip) Off I go with my wonky chian... I get less than 2miles up the road and ... Flat el numero dos!

At this point survived a flat, fixed my chain twice, and now I'm stuck again! The best rides are the ones that test you! This is a character test... how will I handle this? Will I get mad? Will I give up and start walking? I contemplate this for a couple of seconds and decide... why not smile!?

Sure, I'm going to be out longer than I'd anticipated. But it's a nice unusually cool summer evening! I haven't even been rained on. I've had some mechanical problems. But I've managed to fix all of them and will get home in spite of them. And I do make it home with my badly skipping chain and only empty CO2 carts! I'm not touching the bike until tomorrow! Certainly putting on a new chian and likely a cassette, too...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Perhaps The Dumbest Thing I've Done On A Bike

Sometime Friday night I cut my pinky toe. I'm not sure where, when, or how. All I know is between the Moses Guest show a short walk to the store and my house it got sliced! The cut was bad enough to require stitches. Saturday... I was not about to cram the wrapped toe into my bike shoes and hammer on them. That was smart.

After spending a day and-a-half riding my couch, I couldn't stand it anymore. I wrapped up the toe as compactly as possible and headed out from the house at the absolute hottest part of the day! Those of us who train know that it sometimes borders on obsessive. I prefer to call it irrational dedication!

First I ready my drinks. This is NOT Tom Boonen's stash!

It's two baggies filled with Maltodextrin, salt, and unsweetend Koolaid. I've started adding maltdextrin since it's gotten so hot. With the heat, my appetite on the bike is nil. I still need the calories during the ride. Getting them along with the hydrating liquid that I still have an appetite for is perfect. I use 1/2c per bottle; 190 calories. About the same as 2 GUs. Come in nice and steady instead of all once. Oh and one of the best things about maltodextrin... nearly tasteless. I find anything sweet makes my stomach churn. It's perfect!

Off I go! Just down skreet from the house I see this bumper sticker...

I like it! The sun is out and hooooott. Tripple digits today.

In fact, I left at the absolute hottest part of the day. Not smart #1. It's temptation to jump into the water at the Hwy.6 spillway...

But I don't. I continue down the dam toward Westheimer Pkwy. This may be the tallest 'hill' in Houston! HA!

By the time I reach the intersection of Westheimer/1093/Westpark Tollway my toe is really hurting. Not so smart #2. It's nearly bad enough to call for a ride. Except I don't have my phone with me. Not so smart #3. Time to backtrack rather than take the Barker Cypress route. The offending toe...

Nothing to do but slog it back. By the time I got back to Terry Hershey Park my hip flexor is cramping. Likely because I'm favoring my left foot to keep pressure off my toe.

But despite the slog, I make it, as always. I'll stay off the toe tomorrow and I should be OKAY for the rest of the week. I hope! Today's route...

*Click* it for bigger! Just shy of 57-miles... I need to do this type of distance more often!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Like Slow Shutter Speeds

They make me look fast. Feels like a jinxed day. I think I hit every traffic light on my route RED! I'm looking at one choppy power file. Endurace pace with a 10sec sprint at the top of every-other-minute was the plan. Beating the heat means riding late. Last 30min were in the dark. More fun in the dark up next. Sleep.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm a Guinea Pig

An experiment today. I want to see how much the heat reduces my FTP. Out I go into the heat for a my usual testing protocol. As I do each of the shorter maximal efforts I get a little hotter. I cool some on the recovery intervals, but never back to where I started. By the time I go for the 20 minute time trial, I'm cooked. Too much accumulated body heat. With an air temperature above the normal body temperature there's not much differential to dissipate caloric heat. The low humidity air doesn't conduct much heat. The body heat just continues to climb. I wish I had a way to measure it. Would that be too nerdy? Maybe, but I love this physiology stuff.

This much is obvious. The heat is taking a big bite of performance. The heat is the limiting factor. Not muscle stregth or lactate threshold. I didn't tax those systems on the 20-min TT. Which begs a question... If I can't reach my muscular potential am I really gaining any strength/endurance? Or do lower efforts in the heat equate to higher efforts at better environmental conditions?

I need to put some thought into this... it's not going to get any easier over the next week!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beat By The Heat

It's been hot. And it's beating me. Just damn hard to have any *bang* in the heat. I've been beating myself up about that. "Wimp, it's just heat". "I didn't have this problem last year". "That can't be all I've got?", etc. All things running through my head as I feel like I'm face-to-face with a blast furnace.

Then today a friend sent me an email. She said the words I've been thinking, "It feels like I'm overtrained but it's just the heat". That's a perfect description of the lithargic feel I've been afflicted with. I've considered taking a week or two off thinking I might be overtraining. It's just the heat. It's comforting to know I'm not alone.

As athletes we tend to be driven folks. Ok, stubborn. Admitting we're getting beat up by anything isn't easy. Especially not when you view it as a challenge. It's hard to back down. But I'm learning that one of the ways to be a stonger athelete is to listen to my body -rather- than being harder and pushing beyond the point of dimensioning returns. I need to rethink my training strategy while this heat wave lasts.

Some research tells that it's unusually hot. However, the baro's up meaning no clouds and low humidity. Uncommon for the Gulf coast. It reminds me of the early-80s draught. And it's notable that heatwave occurred during a solar minimum - just like the one going on now. Yes... I've been a weather knerd for a long time.

It's not the heat, it's the lack of humidity! HA!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Not My Day

Thats me on my bike. That's a car behind me. Driving in the Heights Blvd bike lane. That's not unusual. What's unusual is that he's about 6-inches off my back wheel. And he's honking at me! Then he really pizzled me, he went so far as to accelerate upto my wheel several times to threaten me. That brought out the camera. Why was he in the bike lane? Because he couldn't wait for 2 cars that were queued up at the red-light and was using it as a passing lane. Two measley cars... I got the guy's plates, picture, and mug shot. So will HPD by the morning.

Hope it was worth it butthollio.

Other than that... it got worse. The legs just wouldn't do the planned NM intervals when called upon at the proving grounds. Crap. I had nothing in the tank. But no idea why. Nutrition was good, water adequate, recovery ok. No explainable reason. It just wasn't happening.

Don't know where my snap has gone. I eagerly await it's return!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pot roast

I'm on a cooking roll. Tonight I'm making pot roast. I've been sideline the first part of this week with some tendonitis in my ankle. But I got out for two rides today as the pain seems to have quickly abated. A short but challenging VO2max ride during lunch and a later Force workout.

I returned from my ride to a bad surprise. My A/C is hanging on by a thread... It's cooling, but barely. I can only hope it makes it through the night... first mission tomorrow is to get this resolved!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Harvest Fresh Cooking

Taking advantage of the rest day to do some cooking. A couple of freshly picked tomatoes chopped...

...and blended with cilantro, garlic, lime jice, and jalapenos into salsa. I make salsa like I make gumbo. Just keep adding stuff until it's right...no receipe...

I also bake some salmon flavored with freshly picked dill. I bought the lemons and fish! HA!

The sauce is a mixture of plain white yogurt, dill, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Think of it as no guilt tartar sauce.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Forest one day. Urban the next. Never let life get stale! Today the backdrop is tall office buildings instead of trees.

It's an uneventful endurance pace ride, except for the downtown red-light drag races. Always fun! Oh, I had a flat too. Not really a dramatic episode. But could have been. I found a shady tree (I was in Garden Oaks). Out came the old toob and in with the replacement...

I store my air-chuck on a CO2 canister. Not screwed down, of course, just on top. Much to my surprise, I've used this CO2 canister before! Doh! Luckily I have another one and make it home... Lessen learned. Don't put a used CO2 or tube back into the seat bag. Too easy to forget to replace it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Early Summer Perfection

This is what it's all about...

Today finds me at Huntsville State Park. It turns into a lesson of never give up. The first lap's bad. Really bad. I contemplate returning home and tanking it. But I don't. I decide to give another go. And I feel gggrreat! Lap two was a PR. But I never felt like I was pushing it hard -at all. My powertap confirms, I'm picking up free speed via some wisdom from TW! Thanks! And now some photos...

The woodpeckers have been busy...

Whadda you lookin' at?

I almost rode into a deer today! No time for a pic. So here's a bunyay rabbit!

Beaucoup saddle time. Time to contemplate things like... why do I persist in buying white cycling socks?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oddities... without pics

I bantered about Houston weather recently with a friend considering re-relocating to Houston. Todays' weather should put one's mind at ease. It was 82 with like 40% humidity this afternoon. With a northerly breeze it was indeed nice.

My ride today is filled with oddities. First was a suicidal cat. It streaks across my path an was on a collision course with my wheel. I screech MMMMEEEEEEEOOOOWWWW! as I shift my weight all the way back awating the splat. The cat heeds my warning and darts from his course of certain death to parallel of my wheel and keeps pace for a moment before jumping onto alternating sides of my wheel's path. Each time he darts, I expect to hit him. I'm split between scared and entertained! After several flirtations he takes off into some roadside bushes... perhaps he was high?!

Later I see a gentleman riding his bike with a pipe. No, not a crack or weed pipe. Like a Sherlock Holmes pipe. And he is smoking it as evidenced by the lingering wafts of aromas. Just an out of the norm site.

Otherwise todays' activity is nothing special. Just a couple of hours of recovery level work. I've been three days off the bike. This was planned as a floating rest period. Stay away until legs are fresh and the urge to ride resurges. Long endurance miles slated for the weekend. I'm antsy to get them spun in and that's a great sign!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Best Time Suck Evar!

Click the pic for an entertaining way to waste your time! I find some of these oddly creative. You'll need sound.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Setting the Scene

The Funky Meters "Fiyo At the Filmore" fills the house with happiness. On deck The Radiators' 07 JazzFest set. A refreshing beverage at hand, and a good book about The Supreme Court rounding out the evening. Only one component short of the perfect night. This is what rest days are all about...