Friday, April 30, 2010

Island Lake Photo Essay

It looks like it will be a rainy weekend. I need to start training soon or this season will slip away. At work I would look out the window and plan my training ride for tonight. I tried to recommit myself to racing.

When I got home from work, Allie said: "remember we are going to go bicycle riding at Island Lake?" Uh no, I didn't remember any such thing. I answered: "of course angle, are you ready to go?"

Emilie didn't really want to go. I gently coaxed her to come along.
We rode the paved trail until Allie seemed ready to go off road. I wouldn't push her to do anything she didn't want to do, but I figured a nudge is fine.

Em has been on single track before but this was Allie's first time.
I am so proud. Training can wait

Group Ride at Brighton Req

Last night was the MMBA group ride at Brighton. I do most my riding on this trail since it's in my back yard. I figured I would have no problem keeping up with the fast group last night. I was dropped. My 3 hour a week training plan isn’t yielding the results I was hoping for. Christ I am going to get clobbered at the Brighton race on May 16th. I suppose I can take some solace in the fact that I will try; it takes little effort to line up at a race when you stand a chance of placing.

Laura suggested there should be a remedial class for people who shouldn't be racing Expert but don’t feel right dropping back down to Sport. I think she is on to something. Last year I dropped down to Sport Single Speed for a few races since this class has average speeds in between the Expert and Sport geared classes. Sport SS is the closest thing there is to a remedial class.

I think I might put my SS back together. I sold my beautiful Chris King SS wheels for next to nothing on eBay during a selling frenzy this spring and pulled other parts off my SS to rebuild my ghetto bike. My SS is just a dusty Ingles frame hanging in the rafters of my garage, the only thing I tried selling that no one wanted. I looked at it last night and felt a sense of comradeship.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Noticing the Obvious

Last night I rode with Renee and Randy at Island Lake. Renee was my daughters’ teacher in both 1st and 2nd grade. Randy’s child apparently had Renee the same time Allie did, and I guess our kids are currently in the same 4th grade class. I must have seen Randy at school many times over the years but never talked to him and had no idea he rode until last night. He even looks like a rider: skinny, goatee, and a calf tattoo.

On the trail we ran into other fathers of other children Renee had in school, fathers I must have seen at school many times over the years but never bothered to talk to and had no idea they rode. We would stop and talk then take off again. It took an hour and a half to ride a trail that normally takes 55 minutes. It was a very good ride even though it did nothing to help my lactate threshold.

It has somehow never occurred to me that the people I see on the trails actually have lives off the bike, with kids to take care of, and lawns to mow, and grout to clean, and shit to deal with. I constantly amaze myself with my inability to see the obvious.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday Night Group Ride

Yesterday I did a group ride at the Poto. My self-confidence was squished after a miserable performance at Yankee Springs but last night I managed to keep the front group in sight. My average heart rate was significantly higher at Poto than at Yankee Springs. I think I just need to keep my composure, stay motivated, and not take another winter off from training.

There is usually a BBQ after the Thursday night ride. I seldom stay for this since I try to get home for dinner and I am not much of a meat eater anyway. Eating something yanked out of a cow after a hard ride does not sound appealing to me. Last night I stayed for the BBQ and brought Texas Caviar (a mixture of beans, corn, peppers, garlic, and Italian dressing). A great ride. A great BBQ. And no animals were harmed in the making of my dish to pass.

Wednesday, as usual, was “Allie Day”. I am careful not to discourage any plans Allie has for us. She wanted to ride so I loaded our bikes on the truck before we dropped Emilie off at dance. But there was a light rain by the time we got ready to ride. I gently suggested we go to Jungle Java and play indoors. Allie wanted to ride in the rain and so we did. It was miserable. I fretted over what Allie must be feeling and wondered if this was going to discourage her from riding again. Allie was riding ahead of me, turns and says: “I like the feeling of rain on my face.” Interesting, we were both experiencing the same thing but experienced it differently.

After our ride we picked up Emilie and went out for a late dinner. As much as I dislike Canton, they do have good restaurants. My favorites are the Thai Bistro and the Mongolian BBQ. I let the kids decide where we ate. They wanted White Castle.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Parting Is Such Bitter Sorrow

I sold my ghetto bike today. It was a tad tough pulling off the pictures that were taped to it and repacking the bearings for the last time. I liked that bike. I'm not sure the new owner really appreciates it. I pointed out the carbon-fiber and titanium parts. He liked the color.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Two months ago I set the humblest of goals for this race season; I just didn't want to embarrass myself. I embarrassed myself today at the Yankee Springs TT. I didn't stay for the official results but it doesn't matter, my lap times were about 57 and 59 minutes. A minute either way doesn't change anything, these were my slowest times ever. I am normally consistent, and my lap times on the trail by my house have been solid so today's results have me a little baffled.

I am not going to get my panties in a bunch yet. It's only April. I will chalk this up to poor early season fitness. If I get clobbered like this at the Brighton race in May, I most certainly am going to get my panties in a bunch.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Email From My Wife


cynthiawagner to you - 1 hr ago More Details
Neil Wagner
Fri, Apr 16, 2010 7:58 am

I really want you to do the race~Why?
1. It is important to you!
2. None of my close friends husbands will be there!
3. First comp-nervous and I will be running around!
4. There are plenty more performances coming up.
5. There is "a little" anxiety between us and I am nervous enough.
6. You are a great Dad-you don't have to prove it by coming!
7. The 3 of us understand! Really we do!
8. You work super hard do something you enjoy!
9. Go show off that super nice bike!!!
10. You have gotten fast! Go prove it!
11. I have a cell phone to update you!
12. I want you too!
13. First race---you need too!
14. Honestly it is not a big deal if you miss the first one! (We need to work
out the kinks!)
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Oh man, what to do...
The last few months of my life have had so many twists and turns that it would make a cheesy daytime soap opera's plot seem plausible. I appreciate Cin's email but I think I have just been uninvited to my daughters' dance competition, which does free me up to do the Yankee Springs Time Trial. I put this race out of my mind a few weeks ago. I like to spend the week before a race getting psyched up for it so if I do the race Sunday, it's because I really have nothing else going on. No big deal, just not my ideal pre-race situation.

Here, let me drag Allie into this to lighten things up a bit. Allie and I went on our first ride together this week. It was very cool.

In my typical frenzy picking up the kids from school and getting Emilie off to dance, I forgot to pack water bottles. Once we were at the Heritage Park, I went into Allie's school backpack to get her Hello Kitty water bottle and found she had replaced it with one of my Tailwind Mountain Bike Series bottles. Nice.

But she said the water tastes like soap. Right, sorry about that hun.

Earlier that day I went to Allie’s school to see her research project. She seems to enjoy riding more than science. Nothing wrong with that; I would rather see her place in a CAT-A collegiate XC race than win the Nobel Peace Prize anyway.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I decided to bypass the Yankee Springs TT this weekend and will go to my daughters' dance competition on Saturday and Sunday. If they do well at this regional event, they advance to the nationals in Ohio. Every single dancer apparently does well at regionals and therefore goes to nationals. We already have our hotel reservations in Ohio.

Tickets go on sale for the Offspring Saturday at 10:00 am. I am going to take a laptop to the dance competition and will try to sneak out of the auditorium and buy tickets. I am a huge Offspring fan but as a 44 year old balding Engineer, I will feel out of place in that crowd; I use to poke fun of people like me at concerts.

There are certain bands I want to see live but I often feel out of place. I saw Tori Amos last summer and felt, I don’t know, too straight. I went to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert before that and felt too old and uptight. Before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs I saw Rush and felt like I was the only person not still living in 1983 (which was a great year by the way but it was over at the end of December 1983).

Which brings me back to the Offspring. I asked Emilie if she wanted to go to the concert with me and she enthusiastically said “yes”. This will work out perfect on two levels. First, instead of looking like an out of place Engineer, I will look like the cool dad who takes his 12 year old daughter to a concert. Second, I just might be able to change Em’s taste in music. She controls the radio in the car and I can’t handle any more Lady Gaga.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Today I continued my 20 second weekly improvement for the Murray Lake trail. I realize my times won't improve every week but right now the trails are prefect, I couldn't be happier with my new bike, the weather is great, the bugs aren't out, the trees are popping, and the grass is pretty damn green on my side of the fence. I am going to allow myself to be optimistic.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's All Relative

It was 44 degrees out when I got ready to ride this afternoon, which a month ago would have seemed like a heat wave; today it seemed cold. As I gathered up my winter riding clothes, I thought about a conversation I had with my dad earlier. He had to go in for X-rays. The technician kept apologizing because the table he needed to lay on was cold. A cold table wouldn't bother my dad a bit, apologizing over it incessantly would drive him nuts. He relayed this seemingly insignificant incident to me in bewilderment.

I understand where my dad was coming from, an 83 year old man who fondly talks about his time serving in World Word II like most people reminisce about summer camp. I told him this X-ray tech just doesn't know what it is like to lay on your frozen driveway in February to change a car's water pump. This seemed to put him at ease, enough so we could move past this incident and talk about something else. I think what he was really laminating about was how soft we have become as a society.

I stepped outside again to fine tune my cold weather gear. Damn it was cold. I decided to ride the trainer instead.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rest Day

Cindy and I are at an indoor water park with the kids. Cin had suggested I bring my bike; a good idea but it is crummy out and I think I would have an uninspired ride around here. I left the bike home. This is the first year ever we didn't take the kids to Florida over spring break; we are really trying to be financially responsible.

I put my Inglis single speed on the MMBA classifieds. A friend responded to the thread by copying and pasting an old post of mine from the MMBA forum about how I would never ever sell this bike. One must be careful what they say on the Internet. What he doesn't realize is how I would rather sell one of my extra kidneys. Such is life.

The kids both brought friends so my job is just to wait at this table and pass out money as needed. They have Internet access here so it isn't bad. And I like people watching and quietly being critical of everyone; like why does the life guard carry a Baywatch type flotation device in water that is only 10" deep? As best as I can figure, it is to smack kids upside the head for running. All the kids here have ADD so maybe he is on to something. Probably not.

Allie and her friend spent 45 minutes in the water and will apparently spend the other 7 hrs and 15 minutes in the arcade, an arcade very much like the one that is 10 minutes from our house.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rain Day

It’s raining. This is cool because I cannot help but ride when the weather is nice and I have no pressing commitments. And two weeks of good weather and few commitments have toasted my legs. My lap time for the Murray Lake trail improved to 34:50 by the end of last week. The 20 second improvement every time I rode the trail this spring has everything to do with improved trail conditions and nothing to do with any real improvement in conditioning. But just for fun I like to consider a scenario where I improve that much every week. I would still have my ass handed to me at Yankee Springs but man I would be fast for the Iceman. Yesterday my lap times disintegrated to 39:something, as if I didn't realize I needed a few rest days.

I should lift today according to the fuzzy schedule I made for myself last fall. This will work out fine actually. I was initially concerned with taking away 3 hours a week from riding in order to lift; however, I have a feeling this was a good use of my time.

More important than all this, Allison has shown an interest in riding (on something other than a tandem) for the first time ever. I had all but given up by the end of last year. I took Allie to the park near our house when I got home from work yesterday so she could ride her bike. I could tell she had a good time. Last night when I got home from my ride, Allie asked to ride around the garage since it is now empty, and it was dark outside. She can only make tight left hand turns so she went counter clockwise in the garage until I dragged her in at bedtime. She wasn’t ready to stop riding and said something mean under her breath. I was delighted.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Obsessing Over Placing

As the youngest child in my family, I waited patiently for years to graduate up to the adult table. Now I see the kids’ table has the most fun.

Yesterday I saw my brother for the first time since his release from the hospital where he had a brain tumor removed. David is the handsome, highly motivated one of the litter so it was difficult to see him not himself. His driver's license was revoked because he lost some motor skills during the operation. He drove himself to Easter dinner. Some things never change.

Dave's left side was paralyzed after the operation. Most of his motor skills have come back but his brain still isn’t telling his ankle to move when he walks. They implanted electrodes in his leg that can detect when he is walking and sends current to his calf mussels that moves his foot in the, more or less, correct position.

I recently stumbled across the very interesting blog of a bicycle racer who has, literally, a broken heart. She had a pace maker installed in her heart so she can continue to race. She used data from her Power Tap to help the Doctors tweak the settings.

I find myself in the same place I am every April, fretting about the first race of the year and looking for a quick fix. My new 20.5 lb super incredible bike isn’t enough. Last year I suggested maybe a tattoo would help. No, I need to kick it up a level. I figure if I can have electrodes inserted into my quads, and a bionic heart put in place of the scrawny one god gave me, both of which controlled by a grip shift type throttle on my bike, I may very well be able to place in an Expert race this spring. If this doesn’t work, I will have to take drastic measures, or I am going to have to learn to be content with my ability. I am leaning towards drastic measures.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wednesday at Heritage Park

Yesterday, like every Wednesday, Allie and I went on an adventure while we waited for Emilie to finish dance. I kicked myself for not throwing our bicycles on the rack before we left home. The kids dance in Canton which is 45 minutes from our house so it didn’t make good sense to go back and get our bikes. Allie and I went to the Heritage Park and had a great time. God I dig her.

The plan is to move to Canton when our house sells. Em and Cindy often point out that much of what we do and most of their friends are in that area so this plan is reasonable. I won’t mind the extra 30 minute drive to work (each way) but I will miss having three really nice trails within riding distance of my house. And the people in Canton are…different. They drive BMWs and wear matching sweat suites. In Brighton they drive F150s and wear jeans and tees. I’m just not comfortable in Canton.

Allie doesn’t want to move either. I was working really hard to sell the plan to her last night. I pointed out how nice Heritage Park was, although it is a bit too sterile for my taste, with the well manicured grass, trees planted in strict accordance to some carefully laid out print, and people in matching sweat suites walking their pretentious little dogs. Just then we were passed by a guy on a beautiful Niner, wearing a LBS kit, right down do his socks and helmet. Ricky racer was working hard and going slow. I could hear him breathing. He had this intense, angry race face and weaved in and out of the matching sweat suites walking pretentious dogs. Middle chain-ring on a perfectly flat, paved path? Oh please.

I don’t know if I can do this.