Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I dreamt last night that my racing bike was stolen. I was devastated. And the thought of the cost to replace it left me reeling. Somehow the fact that its insured didn't occur to my subconscious.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I STILL have this cold. I spent most of the long Thanksgiving weekend reading books on the couch. I spent some time on the trainer, but it made my lungs hurt and left me wiped out for the rest of the day. I missed the team ride on Saturday and riding with the lay-deez on Sunday. I feel lumpen and inert.

And I'm still coughing and dragging.

On the bright side, I read my first Robert Ludlum book. I have a feeling that he pretty much wrote the same book over and over, so there's no real need to read any more. But the first time its fun even if you can predict the end by the halfway point. Interestingly, he's dead, yet books continue to be published in his name [with a tiny TM right by the huge "m"]. Sort of like V.C. Andrews or L. Ron Hubbard. Or Carolyn Keene. Perhaps I should read one he actually wrote.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Due to my cold and the appalling weather, I did my first indoor training yesterday. Two hours on the stationary bike in the fitness center. Two hours staring my heart rate monitor, keeping my heart rate between 140 and 150 beats per minute. Which pretty much means, keeping it at 149 as long as possible. Yes, I am THAT WAY. Have to always push.

It was easier to stay in my endurance zone indoors as there was no one to chase down or ride off my wheel. Just me and the blinking numbers. So I made up the super fun game of trying to keep my HR at exactly 149 for as long as possible. Its way harder than you realize to keep your HR in one place for longer than 10 seconds. I think my record was about 38 seconds. It made the time pass, anyway.

I also had the excellent playlist that DJ Potpie UK [Jackie] put on my shuffle. Kept me from chewing through my ankles to escape the monotony of the BodyCycle. If you haven't yet downloaded Chromeo's latest album Fancy Footwork, you owe it to yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Its supposed to be cold tomorrow, but I'm hoping it will be dry. I can't take another 2 hours of indoor pedalling.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I have ANOTHER flippin' cold! This is the fifth since March. I feel like crap and its going to interfere with my training. I can't tell you how much I hate that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm on a "rest week" this week. My training is periodized so that I don't burn out. And giving your body a short rest from routine makes that routine more effective --- your body doesn't get so complacent and efficient, so you get more strength and endurance out of the workouts.

So I'm riding about 7 hrs instead of my usual 10-12, and I'm doing core strength instead of resistance training. I have two days with absolutely nothing scheduled. All that free time . . . its crazy.

I would LOVE to sleep in on Sunday . . . but I know I'll be awake by 7 a.m. anyway.


Last night I went to the opening of Pieter Ombrecht's posthumous photo exhibit. Pieter was on xXx and died from injuries sustained in a bike race crash not long ago. I was completely blown away by his work. Its breathtaking -- complex, geometric, emotional . . . compositionally AND conceptually sophisticated. I can't recommend it strongly enough. Its up through the holidays at The City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower at 806 N. Michigan Avenue [that little castle!]. Go see it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare."

--Juma Ikangaa, marathoner

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rode up to HP and back with Gigi and Emily. Good ride --- it's 10 degrees warmer today than yesterday, and we didn't get rained on. I did flat -- first time since March -- but got it changed without issue.

On the way back through Evanston, we passed a guy on a road bike in a bulky wind coat wearing a camelback [snerk]. A couple minutes later, he passes us. So Gigi, who was leading, just got on his wheel. At which point he slowed down. So when traffic allowed, I cruised passed him with Gigi and Emily on my wheel. And sure enough, a minute later he powers past me. Yes, he's THAT guy. That guy who can't let any woman ride faster than he does.

Which, whatever. But if you're going to pull out your dick and measure it, make sure its big enough. ie. don't kill yourself to get in front of me then slow down because you can't maintain that pace.

If we were on the Lakefront path, I would have ridden that guy off my wheel. But we were in traffic. So I just gave him some tips on how to have a more efficient pedal stroke [which he desperately needs, not that he'll heed] and passed him easily every time he dropped off the pace. If he's going to be that guy, I can at least make him suffer.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Team ride today. For some reason there were TONS of people. Tons. Loads. Hundreds. Which resulted in the trip up to Highland Park being quite slow. I'm not sure why, exactly.

As I want to build up stamina on longer rides, I "went long." There was a large group that went north from HP and about half turned off at Fort Sheridan --- the shortest extra bit --- and half continued on to do a much longer 30-40 mile loop. I went with them, but turned off at Old School road, which added 26 miles to my ride [for a total of 76]. It was FUN with the big group. We had a tailwind and there were lots of guys to draft off. For a while I was spinning my 50-12 -- my biggest gear -- at 100 rpms. That's about 31-32 mph. NOT downhill. When I turned off, I was wanting to stay with the big group. But I was afraid that when we hit the wind, I'd lose energy and get dropped somewhere with no clue how to get home. Jackie's in Texas with her band, so I couldn't just call and get directions.

So I turned at Old School with 2 teammates and we rode back to Chicago together. If my knee weren't bothering me a bit, it would have been a really great ride. It was pretty day, not too cold, I had good company and I felt pretty strong.

But my knee is bothering me. A bit of tendonitis right below the kneecap. I've started using the roller to loosen my ITBs -- they turn into tight little fists and pull my knees out of alignment slightly. And I iced it. But its still achey. Blarg.

Tomorrow I'm riding about 50 miles with the xXx laydeez. Should be fun!

Friday, November 9, 2007

My teammate Bob has a great post about cycling safety on his blog [linked below] --- new riders aren't being taught how to ride safely in groups. It used to be that the experienced riders instructed the inexperienced riders and they either listened or they were out of the group. If you couldn't be trusted, no one would ride with you.

But now, a lot of new cyclists are older and aren't willing to listen to someone tell them what to do. So they don't learn. And worse, they have no clue that they've missed something extremely valuable. Riding in a group with these guys is dangerous.

So what does my team do on our weekly group ride? The first part of the ride is "no-drop" at an easy pace --- perfect for teaching skills. But, as noted, some people don't want to hear what they're doing wrong. Which makes it hard to say anything.

Now, I am certainly not a very skilled rider. But I'm aware of my shortcomings. I've been scolded and I thanked the scolder and tried to do better. I've improved a lot. I still do boneheaded things, but I really want to be a good, solid wheel to follow and I work hard to be that.

There are people on our ride that scare me. People that I'll avoid. People whose wheel I won't follow. But I find it difficult/impossible to say anything about it. As do the more experienced riders, it seems. No one wants trouble. Which isn't to say that teaching doesn't happen --- it does. But the guys who won't listen and who endanger us all, aren't excluded. They're on the ride week after week.

How do we address this? In the pre-ride speech about helmets and riding two abreast, should the ride leader just say "someone might give you safe riding tips during this ride, and you need to listen."?? Who would that "someone" be?

This is something that the team has been struggling with for a while.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I watched a half hour of "CSI: NY" last night. Its DISTRACTINGLY bad. Its like the actors were told "You're robots! GO!" And the writers were warned "No more than 2 lines of dialogue per scene, or you're fired. But make sure you get all the exposition in. No, it needs more exposition!" All this show lacks is a beautiful young stripper who takes it all off in the penultimate scene to truly be art.


I have to agree with my teammate Jeff --- a merino wool base layer is one the best and most useful items of clothing I own. I got mine from Smartwool [or rather my mom got it for me for xmas a few years ago], and it's attractive enough to wear as a regular shirt . . . which I do when it gets really cold. The only bit of cold weather gear that approaches the merino wool baselayer for fab functionality are my Hytrel socks. I don't know what Hytrel IS, but it sure keeps my feet warm on long winter endurance rides. Especially with wool kneesocks underneath.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My new wheels! Not for the mountain bike, but a second set for my racing bike. I got a great deal on ebay --- Ksyrium Equipe with a shimano 10 speed 23-11 cassette and brand new vittoria tires.

These will be my training wheels as the ones that came with my bike are slightly nicer. They will be my racing wheels. It will be good to have a second set in case I flat during a race. I'm going to put those new Vittoria racing slicks on my racing wheels.

I'm very excited about the new cassette --- I've been riding a 27-12, which is great for climbing, but not so great for keeping up when it gets fast.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Since I somehow committed to doing a cross race later this month, I've started fixing up my old mountain bike. I took off the rack and the fenders and discovered why the wheel has been rubbing against my brakes. Yikes.

Beyond the wheels falling apart, this bike is embarrassingly filthy. I haven't cleaned it in years. I scrubbed at the chain w/ pedro's and a toothbrush for an hour the other day . . . and it could use another hour. Its up on the workstand and when I walk by, I give it another squirt of degreaser. I'm hoping it will loosen up some of the greasy dirt clots.

This means that I haven't started practising for the cross race. I've watched cyclocross, but I've never even attempted as much as a dismount. My goal for this race is to finish without breaking an ankle.