Saturday, March 20, 2010

Counting my Blessing

While heading home after a group ride this week I got to thinking about how really lucky I am. The list of items I should be thankful for kept popping in my head. It seemed like the list would go on and on. When I am doing long solo rides there is plenty of time to ponder deep thoughts but this was after a shorter group ride. I guess I was feeling blessed with the way the week had gone.
Our health is the biggest blessing that most of us seem to take for granted. Having the ability to ride a bike is great let alone for the distances and speed we do. Bill Lang is the Big Dog of the year. He has had a tough couple of years but continues to ride. Click on his name to read a short story.
I have a great family that supports my insane adventures. Dragging them 4000 miles across the western U.S. last year for RAW just proves that. My wife has always been supportive of my training and racing. With Ultra-distance training the long rides can get really long and mean riding from sunrise to sunset on weekends. Not to mention the financial commitment.
I have a couple friends that have been convinced to join me on more then one occasion. Mike Doyle and Bill Ford have both completed Balltown several times, ridden with me out to RAGBRAI, completed the Midwest 12 hour challenge and numerous long training rides. Chad Bishop and Greg Harper (both accomplished racers) force me to work on speed during shorter training rides.
I am fortunate to have a nice paying job that lets me get off work at 2:30 each day to allow me to ride outside, without lights, even in the middle of winter. On early spring days with nice weather like last week that really is a plus.
Just living in rural Iowa is a blessing. I live just north of town and when the snow is melting and the city streets are sloppy I don't have to mess with it. There are many roads around Muscatine that are great to ride, paved and gravel. I am glad I don't have to fight traffic each time I ride or load my bike to get someplace safe.
I am sure there are many more blessing I am lucky to have. On your next ride as you are in the middle of no-where let your mind drift away from the worries of life and take time to count your blessings and be really thankful of the great life we all enjoy.
It was a great week of riding with the weather finally looking like the end to winter is near. Although, as I type this there is a blanket of snow on the ground. Iowa weather at it's finest.
A quick recap of the week starts with a 112 mile ride on Sunday. This was the longest ride for the year and consisted of several smaller rides. The scheduled ride was the bike club St. Patrick's Day ride at 1:00. There was 7 of us that completed a 32 mile loop. Greg Harper and I added a loop afterwards and then I took the long way home to make 112. I ran a little short on food during the second loop but started feeling better towards home.
The weather for the week was great. Low 60's and sunny was the standard for most days except Tuesday. Daily totals for the weekdays were 70, 60, 39, 71 and 13.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

End of Winter

This really has been a long winter. I always wonder if it seems longer to the people who train out in the cold and are tired of freezing or the people who train indoors and are just dying to get outside. My training is about half and half so either way I am ready for warmer weather.

February was an up and down month for me. My weekly miles started out good, went down the toilet one week (117 miles) that I worked late every night and then ended with my biggest week (333 miles) in a long time including a century on February 28th. 256 of the 333 miles were outside as the sun shined and the winds were light. The new challenge with the warmer weather is the sloppy roads but that is better then ice.

As I write this I am having another down week with work sending me to Binghamton New York for a few days. Binghamton is where they got 18" of snow last Thursday and Friday. Luckily quite a bit melted by the time we got here on Monday. The hotel I am at only has tread mills so if I want to workout on a bike I have to drive down the road to a health club.

My training is leading up to the Trans Iowa VI that is only seven weeks away. I feel I have a pretty good base but need to start increasing my weekly long ride peaking at 12 hours over the next 6 weeks before tapering off for the race. A big issue before the race is buying or borrowing a cyclo-cross bike to ride. Either way I would like to have 4 weeks of riding on the bike before the race. My 12 hour ride two weeks before the race needs to be on that bike and mainly on gravel roads. There are a lot of gravel roads around to choose from but I am not sure I can convince any of my training partners to join me. They already think I need to be institutionalized.

Read below to determine what type of cyclist you are.

Climber: Body type: lung on a stick. Distinguishing bike characteristic: single water bottle cage, no valve caps. If not a cyclist, would be: runner, supermodel or loincloth-wearing ascetic. Favorite conversation topics: weight in grams of cable end caps; long-forgotten taste of ice cream. In the peloton, likes to: hide.
Sprinter: Body type: quads the size of beer kegs, elbows sharper than stiletto, multiple road-rash scars. Distinguishing bike characteristic: 11-tooth cog, shredded front-tire sidewall from sticking wheel into tight places such as others' cassettes. If not a cyclist, would be: street fighter. Favorite conversation topics: anything involving smack talk. In the peloton, likes to: yell at everyone to "Close that gap!" but never takes a pull.
Time Trialist: Body type: flexible enough to join Chinese acrobat troupe. Distinguishing bike characteristic: aerodynamic frame, wheels, handlebar, water bottle, cable end caps. If not a cyclist, would be: computer programmer or engineer. Favorite conversation topics: drag coefficients, most recent visit to wind tunnel, slipperiness of skin-suit. In the peloton, likes to: get on the front and ride, dammit.
Commuter: Body type: N/A. Distinguishing bike characteristic: grime. If not a cyclist, would be: NASCAR driver. Favorite conversation topics: carbon footprints, climate change, recyclability of objects not commonly known to be recyclable. In the peloton, likes to: ring handlebar bell.
Ultra-distance Rider: Body type: all of the above. Distinguishing bike characteristic: lights, handlebar bag and/orange seat bag, comfy saddle. If not a cyclist, would be: Institutionalized!" Favorite conversation topics: food, miles/kilometers ridden, food, extreme weather experiences, food. In the peloton, likes to: "Peloton?"

Happy riding and hey, spring is around the corner? March 14th starts daylight savings time. Hopefully the snow will be gone by then.