Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pedal It Out

The road of life takes an unexpected turn and the bible clearly states that there will be times that the unexpected will come and it may come without explanation or without human reason, but it will come.

This morning just minutes before stepping out the door to go lead a small group on a cold training ride my little sister calls to inform me that our father had passed away. I didn't know that the news was coming and had not really expected. My older sister called last week and said he was sick, but since we have not had contact with him in many years I didn't know how sick he was and I still don't know any details.

Today wasn't a day for me to revel in the training ride. I did go out and I started the group, but after a while thankfully big Cal took over with a diversion to the plan. That was a relief to me. The group showed their usual strength and went on ahead, but even though I didn't know my father very well my heart wasn't really into pushing a hard pace. I found myself way off the back of the group with a speed sometimes as low as 8 mph, but as the thoughts were going through my head my heart had lost the desire to keep up. I was grateful to be out on this cold sunny day just to pedal it out and try to deal with the news. How to deal with it was another issue and I suppose it is not over and why I am on this blog. Without going into details there is sadness in a way, but not like it might be when a father and son are close through life and the son feels a great sense of loss. For me and my sisters it is quite different, but still I feel a sorrow for the man.

One thing that stands out to me is how I was much like my father until the age of 32. Looking back on my past I was like a empty shell of a house that was cold and lifeless in my soul. I had chosen the wrong path in life, much like the path my father had chosen. I can reflect back now with honesty and see how a person that is empty of righteousness has a great danger of being filled with the dark cold nature of unrighteousness. "You are you father's son", some might remark if they knew my life before May 1996. Yes, I was empty of goodness until the Lord God in Heaven, the Father of Jesus Christ came to my empty heart and turned the light on. I can't explain it, but the same God that I had rejected for so many years reached down and helped me see how lifeless and dangerous I had become. Like my father I rejected all good or if I searched for something spiritual it was in the wrong place and it was to fit what I wanted to believe in.

In 1996 in a divine manner while I was drunk and alone at home, God changed my heart, helped me see the wrong I committed and filled my emptiness with His ways and I walked away from a life of selling steroids and violence. Not like my birth father anymore, though his sins were a bit different than mine, I can only be grateful as today I reflect on what my spiritual Father has done. The thing that I wondered today was there ever a time between when I last saw my father at the age of 19 until this morning when he passed into eternity that God reached down into his heart and gave him the same opportunity to repent and accept that precious gift of salvation, grace and mercy? Those were the things I found myself thinking about as I dropped off the back of the group as I could have easily been so selfish and pushed forward for another day of hoping to post up good data on my blog or into my training software. If anything I could at least reflect for a moment for a man that I barely knew and what I knew of him wasn't good, but to reflect nonetheless at least for a moment. If anything it just gives me more peace about what God did in my life and how He changed everything about me. I hope that if anything in these days I can be more like my new Father, who reached down and changed me and will change anyone who will call on the name of Jesus Christ to be their savior and recognize that Jesus Christ is the only one that can cover their past sins if they are willing to see the wrong that they have done.

Cycling outdoors has its greater advantages. I was better off out there on a back roads on my bike reflecting on this rather than trying to deal with it so publicly, but maybe someone out there is also contemplating what I am saying about a feeling of emptiness that cannot seemed to ever be filled with worldliness or earthly goods no matter how much they try. If anything I take an opportunity at an odd time in my life to say there is One that can truly fill an empty void in your soul. My earthly father could not do that and never attempted to, but thankfully my heavenly Father stepped in to lead me on a better path.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pick a Target

I had an internal debate with myself this morning about what I should do. Sit on the trainer and slug out some time or get out to the Silver Comet (rails to trails path) and do an "out and back" with some SST (sweet spot training). After church I grabbed my gear, loaded a couple of bottles, threw on an Outspokin kit (cycling clothes), downed some rice and headed out for the trail.

In order for me to keep my focus (I am ADD) I have this little game I play while I am riding solo at the comet. It's called "Pick a target any target up front will do." If I don't play this game my mind wonders and the next thing I know I am looking at pine cones and stuff and cruising about 13 mph.

I just came out of the restroom at the zero mile marker when two guys down in an aero position come screaming by, which is odd because of congestion at the start and because usually you don't see that kind of pace until people get warmed up a little. But to me these two became my target. I initiated my computers to get it started and without a warm up I put on a solid pace. I could see them way up in front and for the first 5 miles I was starting to think I am not going to catch these two riding SST, but the game was working because I glanced at my power meter and kept a solid pace, but did not go above the L3 zone. Even if I didn't catch them my training goal is being accomplished, but low and behold I am now on their back wheel and they know it. Their effort increased a little more, but I stay right on them and kept in my zone. I mixed in with them and traded pulls, but the stronger of the two dropped his buddy. I looked back and slowed down so that he could catch me. Why? because I pulled his buddy back up to his friend and then went in front of the faster guy. When we got to a slight incline, which is only 3 to 4% around the 9 mile marker they could not handle the pace and I heard one guy tell me as I pulled away, "have a good ride." I thought to myself, " too" and now I need aother target for focus.

I went a pretty good distance and saw no targets (Edgar calls them rabbits), but close to the 13 mile marker I saw a group go by me the opposite direction with a guy in the group that I know is a strong cyclists. Hmmm.....I am not at my turning point, but there are some challenging looking targets in that group. I stopped, turned my bike around, got a drink of water and put on the pace to catch them. Again the first mile or more it looked impossible, but for the next several miles I was cruising about 25 mph and I was gaining on them. Two dropped off that group as I went by them easily. Two more dropped off and now it is just the one guy that I know is strong. I see him out there all the time and he is one of those who just hold a nice steady strong pace. He looks back and sees me about a 100 yards off his back wheel and I can almost notice a bit more effort in his legs, but I had a good pace going myself. His little surge in effort hurt him as I easily caught him and went by. I look back and he is on my back wheel. We traded pulls a few turns, but now we are in my favorite spot at the 4 mile marker, which is slightly downhill. I wanted to test this guy's engine so I upped a solid pace and when I looked back he was a long way back, but now the trail is getting congested and I had to slow down due to some walkers taking up the whole path. Because of that the guy is now back on my wheel and at the 0.9 mile marker he rolls on past.

Well no victory for me two days in a row. Mike Quick and Peter on Saturday and now this guy on Sunday. I've got to work on my stradegy and learn to sit in that slip stream until the last moment. :-)

Actually, I am very pleased that picking targets in front of me seems to help me stay focused on the goal rather than just looking at the numbers on the power meter. The point of the ride today wasn't to see if I could set an individual speed record (today I was not close to past performances), but just to stay focused and have a good SST ride.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Good Day With Team-B

David, Neal, Peter, Gary, Derek, Mike and Edgar

MotionBased Ride Data

This was not a day to boast about my performance. Today I felt like I was off and maybe it was due to fatigue from twice a day training through the week. Then there was the weather factor. All week it was questionable about a group ride on Saturday as rain was predicted. Several of us watched the reports on Friday evening and Saturday morning it was the craziest thing. Each time I would look at the web page for Cartersville it would be either 40% or 10% chance of precipitation. I started on Thursday to rally the team members for a 10 a.m. start. At 10 this morning it was raining, but again the web page stated it would be clearing toward noon. We had eight of our team show up and a few that could not attend because of the delayed start.

I was really anticipating this ride and probably would have gone in light rain because I really wanted to get in a 3+ hour ride today. It seems like on those days that I anticipate going more than usual, I end up with a day of struggling on the bike. Before the ride I felt good and I did some extra stretching to be ready, but as soon as we roll out of the parking lot my hamstrings feel like they have knots in them. The same with my right calf muscle and my quadriceps felt like they were going to cramp right out of the gate. My breathing was very labored and though I was not wearing a heart rate monitor I felt like I was about 20 beats over my maximum. Not a good feeling in the first 10 miles of a 50+ ride with guys that are more than capable of putting a hurtin' on me without even trying.

Actually, I was more concerned for Edgar before the start because for various reasons he has not been on a ride with us in a while, but I was real impressed with his performance as if he missed very little. Derek seemed strong considering that he is planning a knee surgery soon and the powerhouse of the day was Mike Quick. Of course I could talk about Peter and how he effortlessly just pulls away when he decides and at one time I had to remind him as he was pulling the group that he was a bit stronger than what we could hold at the time. I am wondering what kind of super secret training Neal Bowers has been doing. Every ride he seems to be right there in the mix and of course Gary is the sleeper waiting for to attack on the hills. Its not really an aggressive explosion going past us on the climbs, but a kind of a roll past us when we are breathing hard and a nice, "how ya feeling?" as he rolls on past us. He's a strong climber and overall a good cyclist on most terrain. David Marion is much like Gary and seems to be good on just about any terrain as well.

Because of my perceived feeling I stayed either mid or back of the pack in the first half of the ride. I kind of kept quiet and just hoped that if anything I could hold for the duration. I wasn't upset because I had such great training events all week and those days mean as much to me as these rides.

We had a late store stop in Adairsville for this ride. At that moment Derek told me that we only had about 15 miles left. For whatever reason I started feeling better 25 miles into this ride and just getting better every mile after. My legs were now getting loose and my breathing was calm as was my heart rate. The last 10 miles it was me, Mike, Peter, Gary and Neal that broke away and in that group there were some impromptu races that kind of unfolded, but in the end Mike and Peter had too much power for me to hang on. I like Mike's strategy drafting me on the nearly flat stretch going back in. I kept thinking they were going to attack and Mike's timing was perfect as he whipped around out of my draft. I held a good pace, but even if I had tried to sprint there was no way I was going to catch them. I'll be keeping this in the back of my mind for the next ride. :-)

For a day that looked like it might not happen it turned out pretty good. It was warm enough for me to take off the vest and there was no rain from start to finish. A great day out with my riding buddies. Sitting in the basement on a trainer in January? No way!! I will be out on the road with my friends.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Good Day On The Road

MotionBased Ride Data

The results posted above may not reflect the numbers of a summer ride while in peak condition, but the last several weeks I felt like I was lagging behind, which was right in line with my Performance Manager in WKO+ as I track my training data. Last week I began ramping up the training again hoping to start building back CTL. Yesterday was a surprise to me when I fully expected to struggle on the club ride because my legs were so sore, but instead my performance was up a little from the increased training time in just one short week. Not a big jump, but enough of a jump to spring board more motivation.

Performance Manager

From now until May my focus will be to change my body composition (lean out) by hopefully 10 pounds and continue to ramp up my training to the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pro Vibe Bar and Stem

Click for pictures of the Pro Vibe components on the LOOK 585
The total weight for the LOOK 585 is 14.8 pounds.

Initial thoughts on the Pro Vibe Carbon Bar is the 31.8 diameter all the way across until the turn down provides almost as much surface area as the FSA Winged Bar on my Felt and I hope that will provide a little more comfort over the older bar. This constant diameter also provided a much better clamping surface for the Powertap computer than did the bar that I replaced that had a taper from the stem to the point the tape would normally start. I found it quite annoying that the computer would move constantly while riding. Now the computer has a very solid mount.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It All Begins Again

The holiday festivities are over and I had a great time with my in-laws and traveling up to Kentucky to spend time with my family. I was also coaxed into a house project that Cindi wanted me to do as her request as a Christmas present during my time off. I figured it was a good time to go ahead and finish the project while I had some time off of work and be done with my home projects for 2009. The project was redoing the basement and the biggest part of the project was ripping up some old industrial carpet and putting down a laminate. We also added some electronic equipment to make our time while training a bit more tolerable as seen in the pictures below. At the time I started the project I wasn't too happy because I wanted to go ahead and start training again, but once I finished I was pretty happy with the results, happy that I have finished one of my wife's house projects and now I am clear to focus on training.

I spent 60 minutes on the trainer yesterday and 100 watts felt more like 200 watts so I know it is going to be like starting all over again. This morning I did 15 minutes of seated and standing intervals at a low intensity to get my legs warmed up for a few sets of leg press, leg curls and about 15 minutes of stretching. I plan on 60 minutes of time on the trainer this evening as I begin to work on ramping up CTL and watts/kg (a.k.a. - losing weight via a reduction of calories and an increase in training time). I will check with Alan Ezzel and see when he plans on increasing his training intensity for the season. I know my first goal be close to the first week of May for the 3 State 3 Mountain Century and like last year that really is my main focus for 2009. All other events will be just for fun, but I hope to be better in every event for 2009. It all starts now as I slowly start ramping up.

Let's Get it Started!!