This article was originally published in the Friday July 8th 2011 edition of the Lake Tahoe paper, the Sierra Sun.
Summer has finally (officially) arrived in the Sierras. These cloudless days of endless warmth bring cyclists of all types onto Truckee's roads. Automobiles, bicycles and pedestrians are all trying to go somewhere in Tahoe. How can we all get along and stay safe?
Understand your place on the roads
Cars are restricted to roads; bicycles are restricted to roads, bike lanes and bike paths; pedestrians have no restrictions but are safest on sidewalks and walkways. When you are on your bicycle, your are bound to the same traffic laws as when you are driving your car. The only difference is that you have access to bike lanes. Stop signs, stop lights, turn lanes and turn signaling laws apply to every cyclist on the street. Unless you are walking with your bike, avoid riding on sidewalks. Not only is it dangerous to yourself and those around you, but it's illegal in California. So first and foremost, ride on the road when no bike path is available.
Many years ago as I was just getting into bike racing, I had the chance to pedal out to a local training race alongside a pro team. By pro, I mean money, cash and hoes pro. Established riders, the real deal.
The race venue was about 10 miles away from where we departed, and I assumed that I was in for a world of hurt in the form of a warmup. However during the entire 10 mile ride, we never breached 15 miles per hour. We rode painfully slow the whole way. At the time, I assumed the team was just a bunch of fragile pussies afraid to ride hard before a race. But they weren't pussies, they were just doing a proper recovery ride.
Many endurance athletes are quite particular in regards to what enters the sacred temple that is their body. This is a wise choice, as garbage-in usually equals poor performance and an undesirable body composition. I'll buy into that mantra, except when it comes to post-ride replenishment meals.
I'm done, I'm cooked, I'm fed-up, I'm tired, I'm hungry, I'm grumpy, I'm depressed, I'm burnt-the-fuck-out. I've been training hard since December of 2007 and I think I finally popped my own cork.
After I finished the Cascade Classic Stage Race (a major goal of the year) a few weeks ago, I suddenly lost all desire to ride my bike. I was hoping to hold my form through July and finish strong at the State Road Championships before taking a break. Instead my bike has sat almost dormant in my garage, still riddled with dead bugs from Bend, Oregon.
What happened, where did I go wrong? Am I over-trained, over-reached or just a big pussy? This is the first season that I kept a detailed daily record of all my training data, including stress and recovery systems. In theory, analyzing this data will reveal the answer to my lack-of motivation.
Through a string of solid results, plus two wins I have begrudgingly upgraded back to Category 2. A few years ago I pursued a dream of racing my bike for money, as a professional if you will. Moving from the bleak beginnings of the snowy Midwest to the sunny shores of Californ'ayea armed with a Cat 2 license - I was determined to live the glamorous life of a pro bike stud. My eagerness and impatience led me to over-train myself into the ground, literally. After dropping out of my 4th consecutive race due my insane level of fatigue, I quit the sport entirely. Pissed and depressed, I then spent the next 6 weeks in bed recovering from my follies.
I didn't race again for over 2 years, and when I returned I asked for my Cat 4 license back. Now armed with the knowledge and hindsight of how-to-train-without-burnout, I have elevated my fitness higher than it has ever been. So back to Cat 2 I am, with the temptation of over achievement dangling as a tasty morsel once again. All aboard the over-train! Choo choo!
Two years ago, John "Cap'n" Lindstrom and I traveled out to Santa Cruz for 7 days of base miles. This winter we wanted to go warmer and longer, so we set our sights on Solvang – just north of Santa Barbara off the coast of central California.
What follows is an intense account of our homoerotic, spandex-clad adventures.
I found this little gem inside a mid-nineties issue of Bicycle Guide magazine. This was back when cycling publications had useful articles that weren't about Lance Armstrong's Le' Tour preparations and Jan Ulrich's weight problems.
Ever wonder which muscles fire when - during your pedal stroke? Here's a chart of the clinical analysis.
Click the image for a printable/readable size.
I was due for a 4+ hour ride today, but I felt really tired the entire day. After running some morning errands on my bike, I was all set for a long ride. Instead I ended up going back to sleep for another 3 hours. Boom - my day was gone. This is the first time in over a month that I have skipped my scheduled training, so I feel pretty guilty. I wanted to at least life some weights later this evening, yet I can't seem to emerge from a catatonic state. Hopefully I'm not sick.
A few weeks ago I had lost my portable 15mm wrench attaches to my Topeak Alien multitool. In lieu of lugging around a full sized wrench, this portable wrench is the only way I can remove my rear wheel on my fixed-gear bike to repair flats while out on a ride. The garbage ridden roads of Sonoma County are no place to be unprepared for a popped tube. However all it took was one phone call to Topeak, and a free wrench arrived within a few days. Such excellent customer service will forever keep that company on my "not-shit" list.
I need a tiny digital camera to take along with me on my bike rides. Compared to Minnesota, Sonoma County, CA has many more insane things happening out in the middle of nowhere. These things need to be documented! Today I saw a cow orgy out on a farm. There must been a dozen cows all trying to mount each other. A daisy chain of beef and milk. I also spotted what appeared to be the real life Cat-in-Hat stumbling around drunk with his bicycle about 20 miles from civilization. It was a man dressed like he was a city-goer in early 18th century America. Wire rimmed glasses, buckled shoes, jacked up pants, coat-tails and a vest. And a giant red and white striped hat. I actually thought he was a figment of my imagination. But then I remembered I was in California.
I bonked 3 and half hours into my ride today. I managed to ride through the dizziness until I located a jumbo sized Snickers bar at a gas station. 540 calories of peanut and chocolate sugary-ness. I thought it would satisfy my hunger (much like the slogan proposed) but within 5 minutes I was starving again. So I crawled home with visions of burritos in my head. And now my stomach hurts from aforementioned burrito.
Today was the best I have had on bicycle in a long time. It was one of those rare times when your two wheeled companion becomes an extension of your body. There were hills and headwinds, but it didn't matter. I was flying. I am already feeling the effects of my base strength regiment kicking in. Which is a little unfortunate because at this time of the year I don't really want to be. I want to be slow. My only intentions were to go out on a short 2 hour easy ride, with a few speed drills to liven things up. In the end I managed to keep myself under control and only let the throttle loose a few times. Hopefully this a sign of things to come and will certainly help keep my motivation through all these long rainy base-mile days.
So not only was I feeling super on the bike - but I had the most fantastic interaction with an automobile. As I was riding along a few teenagers driving their parent's fancy S.U.V. pulled up alongside me and started screaming out the window. I have no idea what they were saying, I was too busy listening to Lou Reed on my minidisk player. Probably something along the lines of "Get off the road faggot" or "Ride on the sidewalk asshole!" So I just glanced at them, laughed and flipped the bird. Meanwhile they are going insane inside the behemoth gas guzzler. Honking their horn and swerving back and forth along the road. Those dumb kids were so busy trying to irritate me that they failed to notice the line of cars stopped at the intersection. SLAM! Three car pileup at 20 mph! I had the front row seat to watch all the action.
My plan for the end of this season was to race cyclocross until November, take a month off and begin my base training sometime in December. So in September I started running and working on my cyclocross skills. High speed dismounts, re-mounts, bunny hops, etc. I was all set to race in a few weeks. Then the morning of the first race came around, I had to wake up at 5am on a Saturday and drive two hours to the start line. However once I was awake, I decided that I really didn't feel like racing - more sleep seemed like a better idea. So I skipped the race that weekend. And from that day on, I started avoided my bike altogether. I was no long motivated to go out and ride. I didn't participate in a single cyclocross race the entire fall and didn't ride more than 500 miles in 6 weeks.
So when I started my 2004 training season this November, I thought I would be violently out of shape. I expected my legs to give out at every hill and die into headwinds. As it turned out, my fitness was just fine. As per my "base" training regiment, I am not doing any intense work, just long easy miles. But when I decide to crank it up to pass a car, make a green-light or just fire myself uphill, it is like I never stopped riding at all.
I "have" a whole lot to say today, so buckle down and prepare to be bombarded.
I filmed a commercial a few months ago for a sporting goods store up in Tahoe, CA. I dressed up as gay dude and sang along to the Cher song, "Believe." The final cut hasn't been released yet, but here is a picture of me in costume from the shoot.
It took me a while to get into the role of "Singing Homo", but eventually I was belting out bad music like some drunk butt-lover outside a stud bar.
I was out on a long ride the other day and about 3 hours into the trip I got a flat tire. This was right before a steep hill, so I decided to climb the hill with my still-warm legs and repair the flat before the descent. After replacing my tube, I plugged my Co cartridge and dispenser on to the valve stem. When I opened the cartridge, it shot out of the dispenser and into the air. The dispenser had fucked o-rings. I had no other way of filling the tube. I was 20 miles from home with 0psi on my front wheel.