Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding Things To Eat At 173 BPM

Still trying to find a good way to consume carbohydrates while riding near my lactate threshold. Shot Bloks don’t work. I heard good things about them but never was a fan. Tonight it occurred to me that every time I tried them previously, they were either frozen solid or coated in sand from bouncing around in my jersey pocket. They are much better dirt free and at room temperature but still difficult to eat at 173 BPM.

I will burn about 1100 calories an hour at race pace but I guess I can only digest about 50 grams of carbohydrate (200 calories) in that time. Trying to process fat or protein from food at that effort is less effective. I think I will stick to shorter races and not worry about eating, maybe jump on the cyclo-cross bandwagon.

Even if I can't sort out my caloric intake, I remain defiantly optimistic about the upcoming season. In 8 short weeks, frogs will be chirping and trails should be rideable. I need about 8 weeks to find some type of fitness. Riding the trainer works well because I am not distracted by any enjoyment caused from riding outside. I am feeling stronger and, fortunately, I have no real information from a powertap or lactate test to tell me otherwise. Apparently I thrive on blind optimism, mind numbing boredom, and fuzzy observations. I’m OK with that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Last summer Velo News published an article about an amateur cyclist who was suspended from racing by the USADA for using Erythropoietin. As luck would have it, he was from the same state, had a similar first name, raced in the same age group, and had results only slightly less mediocre than me. His response clearly, and I believe sincerely, apologized for using EPO and explained how Erythropoietin affected his Hematacrit and wattage. I don’t know him but Neal seems like a normal guy that had higher expectations than what his ability allowed. Accepting our natural abilities isn’t even close to being OK with them.

I’m reading A Dog In A Hat. This is an excellent autobiography by Joe Perkin, an American who raced in Europe during the time of Greg LeMond. One of the things I found interesting in this book wasn’t so much the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs in the pro peloton but rather the pier pressure Joe felt to take PEDs. At one point Joe claimed he took Captagon, even though he didn’t, just to appease his team director. The book left me feeling a little self-righteous and silly questioning drug use in pro cycling, like questioning synthetic testosterone use in pro bodybuilding. Hell, what do I know

A recent Sport Illustrated article on Lance Armstrong seems to show he used PEDs, or not, you have to be a lawyer to make heads or tails out of all the conflicting evidence and bitter accusations. As a matter of full disclosure, I am a fan of Lance Armstrong and remain optimistic that he raced clean. My sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1999. Lance’s rise back to the top of the sport that year gave me hope. She died right after the 1999 Tour. Expectations and optimism are fickle things

**********1/27/11 edit **********

So yesterday I gave my incredibly naive insight into PEDs in pro cycling. Today I see Alberto Contador will likely be suspended by Spain's cycling federation because minute traces of Clenbuterol were found in his system last year. I give. There seems to be no solution. Maybe. Let me humbly just throw something out there. I propose the UCI takes a lesson from those fun loving good ol' boys that drag race in the NHRA and provide different classes for pros to compete in: Stock (no performance enhancing drugs what so ever), Modified (blood doping, synthetic testosterone, and stimulants allowed), and Unlimited (anything goes). I mean, it's just a suggestion. As long as it doesn't lead to climate change, I'm cool with it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Worst Day Of The Year (Ride)

Today was the annual Worst Day Of The Year Ride. Statistically, this week is the coldest of the year. I skipped the ride last year because it rained and the trails were muddy, and it seemed a little disingenuous to call a day the "worst" when there was little or no chance of dieing of hypothermia. It was 0 degrees F this morning, without considering the wind chill.  I suppose that whole global warming fad is over.  It warmed up to 10 degrees by the time the ride started. But it was sunny and not terribly cold in the woods. A good ride, an interesting mix of urban riding and snow covered trails in Ann Arbor.

My last time on frozen trails I used worn 1.9 Kenda Karmas. Sketchy. I used 2.20 Specialized tires today. They were very steady on the frozen trails. I heard it takes 7 years to master a sport. Shoot, I should have mastered mountain biking more than twice by now. I am still figuring it out. I'm still trying to figure me out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Deciding What To Keep

I am taking a more methodical approach to training this winter than I have in the past. I'm even experimenting with drinks and gels in an effort to find a way to consume 50 grams of carbohydrate in an hour while riding very close to my lactate threshold without getting sick. I don't think I can. My best bet seems to be vanilla bean gu. I like vanilla bean gu. I swear I could put that stuff on my morning bagel.

About 10 years ago I coaxed Denny into mountain biking. He wasn't looking so good towards the end of our first ride so I gave him a gu: "These are great Den, just squeeze it in your mouth, take a gulp of water, and hang on," like somehow it would magically propel him up the hill.

It didn't propel him up the hill but he stuck with the sport, and he has amassed a much nicer collection of bicycles than I will ever own. It's nice to ride with him a few times a year.

I waited at my parents' condo while the girls were at dance the other night. I looked through my mom's photographs and found this classic picture of Denny and me. The bike we were washing was his but I bought it from him for $5. I'm not sure who owned it when my mom took this picture. My parents hung on to the bike until recently. It's funny the things you keep.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I think I have a solid training plan for this year. Quickly scanning my posts from previous winters, I see I always seem to have a solid training plan. I think I will actually follow it this year, another common theme. Regardless, I am riding my trainer with purpose. Splendid but not much to blog about, so instead I will post about biker girl tattoos.

I have no qualms about my fondness of tattoos on girls who ride mountain bikes. I have hinted around at this in a few posts. As a middle aged father of two, I wouldn’t ogle over a biker girl’s tattoos for any longer than I would gawk at the sun because I really try to stay this side of socially appropriate. Anyway, I am way too conservative and uptight to pull off an ogle.

I just stole this picture from Bike Snob. I imagine if most guys are like me, the first thing that strikes them when they see this picture is the ankle tattoo. Very nice, but I am constantly disappointed when I hear the stories behind girls' tatoos.

The girl who cuts my hair just got a tattoo of a butterfly on her forearm. I asked what it meant. I was expecting an introspective story about how it symbolized rebirth. She said it was just a modification to an earlier tattoo, it use to say “Jim” but her new boyfriend wasn’t down with that.

There was a thread on the Michigan Mountain Bike Association board about a girl looking for suggestions for her first tattoo. Another girl warned her to give the design serious consideration; she explained how she got a Yin and yang ankle tattoo to symbolize how polar forces are interconnected but as it faded, it looked like “69”, which means something completely different.

The subject of biker girl tattoos came up during the Team Tree Farm night ride two weeks ago (as it often does during group rides). A girl who rides with them came from California. She had a neck tattoo that said: “Cali-Girl”. But the first “i” looked just like an “l”, again changing the meaning considerably.

Em turned 13 last week. She often watches Miami Ink on TLC. I’m a nervous wreck. If she ever considers a tattoo, I hope she thinks it through.  Regret leaves an indelible mark.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sugar and Spice

This was a significant Christmas in that it was the first year where the girls didn’t get any toys that come with a million little pieces tie wired to the packaging, another sign they are growing up. Allie got Mario Cart for the Wii. This is the first time I have been addicted to a video game since I left my Atari behind with my parents shortly after high school.

My parents never pushed me towards any activity but they never stood in my way either so I have no regrets. I secretly try to nudge my girls towards racing bicycles. They show little or no interest in this; I have to be so subtle they don’t even notice. I casually brought up the idea of racing to Emilie. She was on her computer and didn’t give me eye contact or even a patronizing “hum.” More of what I say is meaning less, or meaningless. I accept this reality; however, I see pictures of Kim and M. E. Rider riding with their dads and I feel a twinge of jealousy.

Last night Em asked me to set up her bike on the trainer. She rode for 30 minutes. I don’t want to make anything out of this that it’s not but still, I am encouraged.