9/13: First Back-to-Back Ride

A little late to start, but you know the saying.  Today I did my first back-to-back ride, coming off of the 60 mile MS training ride yesterday.  I’ll tell ya: at first I didn’t want to go.  Since Friday I’ve felt a cold coming on.  The same one the kids had last week, and Cam just finished fighting off.  I felt it through yesterday’s ride, but it was still in the background.  Last night, I couldn’t sleep and was up about every hour.  Add to that we had no milk this morning, and this is now my second day without my morning cuppa joe.

So by this afternoon, I was feeling a bit like the piñata that’s been hanging just a bit too long in the back of the bodega (that’s a corner store for you non-Ricans).  But, I called up Tom, and rode out anyway.  I’m glad I did – though admittedly in about an hour I’ll probably wish I hadn’t.  See, when you do endurance riding, I’ve found that for about 30 minutes to 2 hours after a ride (depending on the ride and the weather), I fee great.  More miles?  No problem.  15% grade on that hill?  Bring it!  30 mph head-wind?  I EAT WIND FOR BREAKFAST!!!   Wait… that doesn’t sound right… Continue reading 9/13: First Back-to-Back Ride

9/12: MS Training Ride #4

Two weeks left, and another ride under my wheels, the furthest ride I’ve ever done.  60 miles, on the dot.  Couldn’t have asked for better riding weather.  Was 63° at roll-out, and partly cloudy most of the ride, with very little wind – at least, to start (nasty head-wind during the last 10 miles).  Headed out with the front-runners, including TJ from Team Superior, and Dwayne (not sure about the spelling or which team he rides with).  Not too many riders today, because yesterday was the Dam Jam over in Pryor, OK.  From what I understand, if you choose to do the entire 100 miles, it’s a really rough ride.  Dwayne not only did 102 miles of the Dam Jam, he set a killer pace today!  I kept up with him for the first and second legs, but when he took off after after the second rest stop, I wasn’t havin’ it.  I truly sat myself down in one of the camp chairs with Team Crude (this week’s ride sponsors) and just chilled for a while chatting with my neighbor, Bruce. Continue reading 9/12: MS Training Ride #4

The Body Variable

The body is a machine.  A self-guided power-suit of magnificence, waiting to be put to task.

The body is a temple.  Purity of spirit and thought altering fate and finding destiny.

The body is a canvas.  Ideas and emotions laid bare by beauty.  Creating and inspiring.

The body is a faith.  Belief in its ability to surpass.  The will to transcend its own limitations.

The body is a burden.  Always wanting, craving, hurting, healing, never resting. Until…

The body is a weapon.  Devastatingly efficient.  Lovely and brutal.

The body is a vision.  Framed references distorted with clarity, muted and crystallized.

The body is hope, and fear, and pain, and joy, and courage, and causation, and all, and nothing.

The body is what we make of it.  And what it makes of us.

9/6: Riding with my Father

On Friday (9/3) I found out my father, Bill, had some vacation time.  He would be off from Saturday through Wednesday.  I got to thinking that it would be nice to have the girls see their grandpa, so I worked a little magic, and found a cheap round trip flight leaving the next morning, and flying back Tuesday.  I’d say the timing worked out well since I was able to do the 50 mile MS Training Ride on Saturday morning, but if you read that post and saw how it went, it’s more likely the fates were simply setting me up and having a pretty good laugh. :-p

In any case, he arrived on time, with a decent flight out (minus the horrid, 2-hour security line at LAX).  Since the girls didn’t know he was coming, I left the house to “pick up dinner” (which I also did) and brought him home as well.  It was great watching how the kids flocked to him and hung all over him, especially after having not seen him in over 10 months.  Nice to know some bonds can’t be broken, even with a relatively long passage of time.

I borrowed my brother’s bike, and on Monday morning Bill and I took off on a short ride.  Minus the wind (which was blowing at a steady 15mph) it was a nice day out – only 85°, and humidity was below 40% for once – so I thought the temp was perfect for riding. Bill thought otherwise.  Turns out hot weather conditioning is a relative thing, as in my idea of hot is 100°+.  But my father and mother live in Ventura County, CA, where it rarely reaches the mid-70’s let alone 100.  He was suckin’ down water like an undergrad attacking beer at a kegger. Add to that the hills (we have some decent hills on the trails here, and Ventura is mostly flat along the shoreline), and an unfamiliar bike, and I believe the 18 miles we rode was more than enough to convince him that next time we ride together, I’ll need to fly out to Cali.

But, I was definitely glad to have him with me, and for my part – again, minus the wind – it was a nice relaxing ride.  Something my body needed after the beating I gave it on Saturday’s training. There was something else that was really great about this ride: I busted 1,000 miles for this year! With that ride, my total distance since May 4th, 2010 is 1,009.5 miles, a total of 66.3 hours, at an average of 15.2mph.

My father flew home today, and the rain’s rolling in, so I probably won’t get much riding in until the next MS training ride on Sunday. That’ll be a 60-miler.

As always, gotta’ keep on rollin’.

9/4: MS Training Ride #3

It’s been one hell of a week, but was finally ready to jump back on the bike.  Haven’t ridden since the last training ride, and I was looking forward to today’s 50 miler. The temperature was 50° at 7:30 this morning, and I ain’t ashamed to admit my fingers were tingling from the cold as we set out.  But, I felt good, and was ready to put down a solid pace, and rolled out with the front-runners.

8 miles in, and *pop* my rear tire goes flat.  So, I pull off the road, and start fixing.  Tire comes off, pull the tube out, check for anything stuck in the tire (otherwise it may pop the second tube), load the new tube into the tire, and the tire back on the wheel.  My brother Willie gave me a CO2 pump for my birthday, so filling the tire was a breeze.  For those that don’t know – the CO2 pump is a small pump about the length of a fist, that you can put a small cartridge of compressed CO2, which rapidly inflates the tire to near standard inflation.  Takes only seconds. So, everything looks good, and I get back on the road.

Not half a mile down the street, *pop*!  I couldn’t @#$%ing believe it.  I pulled off, and this time turns out the inner-tube must have just been defective, because it split lengthwise along a seem.  At this point, I’m livid.  By the time I get this one replaced (I’m now down to no extra tubes) I’m the last rider out of perhaps 70.  Worse, I don’t really know where I’m going, and the yellow markers on the road aren’t always easy to see.  Funny thing, lats night I was considering lightening my load – removing some of the extra CO2 cartridges, maybe only carrying one spare, etc.  Thankfully, I decided that since I’m already used to the weight, doesn’t make much sense to go without… just in case.

After that was fixed, I started to haul.  Got to the first rest stop, waited a couple of minutes to rest my legs, and took off again.  Some pretty nasty hills on this ride, but handled them just fine (one had a lot of people walking up, so I felt good about that one).  Since I was essentially riding on my own today – given the large gaps in riders this far back, and since most of the riders this far back don’t set as fast of a pace as I do – I just kept pushing myself harder. I’d catch site of a group, and I’d keep pushing until I caught them.  I know it’s not a race, but I had to keep my mind on something and off the two back-to-back flats.

Google Map

At the second rest stop (about 30 miles in), I refilled the Camelbak, grabbed a couple of fig newtons, and kept rolling – maybe stood there for 5 minutes, tops.  By the time I finished the ride, I caught up to perhaps half the riders that were out today, so I felt pretty good, even though I was exhausted.

My father’s flying in from LAX today, so not sure if I’ll do tomorrow morning’s ride.  But if I do, you can bet your ass I’ll be bringing all my usual gear. 🙂

Total Distance: 49.3 mi
Moving Time: 2:56:51
Average Moving Speed: 16.7 mi/h
Max Speed: 28.7 mi/h
Min Elevation: 630 ft
Max Elevation: 935 ft
Elevation Gain: 1812 ft

Camping Prep

And yes, the kids' toys are required tools for hard-core, long-distance cycling.

This won’t just be the first time I’ve done a charity event, it’ll also be the first time I’ve ever been camping.  Before we moved to Oklahoma, my parents gave us this six person tent my dad used for photography events (a portable changing room).  As it’s the only tent I have, it’ll no doubt look like a mansion compared to some of the one- and two-person tents I’ve seen.  From corner to corner it’s about 11′ 6″, dome shaped, about 6′ 6″ high in the middle.  The first time I set it up earlier in the summer, took me about an hour, and that was with Cam’s help.  A couple weeks ago I tried setting it up by myself for the first time, and I did it in about 35 minutes.  Today, it took me just over 20 minutes.  I’m hoping by next week I’ll have it down to about 10 minutes… this way, when I’ve come off the first day of riding it’ll only take me about an hour. :p

I’ve also purchased an ALPS Mountaineering Comfort Series Air Pad, and a Kelty Lunar 20 Degree CloudLoft Rectangular Sleeping Bag (thanks to Bill Cossaboom for the recommendations).  Throw in my small folding camp chair and table (also from the padres), a small lantern, pillow, my COWON S9, and my Droid X, and I’ve got all the comforts of home (minus late-night fridge access).

Two training rides this weekend, and I’m going to hit them both – 50 miles each.   Gotta keep rolling…

8/28: MS Training Ride #2

Gorgeous weather for riding!  Was barely 70 when we rolled out at 7:30AM.  The plan was to do about 40 miles, though my track says we only did about 38.5.  My bike said the same, so maybe we took a shortcut somewhere. 😉  At any rate, at first I started out with Tom and his friend Steve, keeping a nice, leisurely pace.  A gap opened up, and I ended up ahead of the group, tailing a larger and much faster group.  When I caught up with them (about 30 riders) their air pocket sucked me right in, and before I knew it we were flying at 22mph and I was barely doing a thing.

As the ride went on, I worked my way up the pack, eventually to the front where I could pull a little more, before we hit the rest stop.  I rested for about 10 minutes, waiting for Tom to arrive, since I heard he had some gearing problems.  Took off again with another group, setting down yet another killer pace.

Google Map

When the ride was done, I wolfed down a couple of hot dogs that the ride sponsor volunteers had cooked, packed up, and drove over to the Tulsa Zoo to meet up with my family and my friend Michael who’s visiting from New York.  Walking around a large zoo for a couple of hours after a 39 mile ride isn’t exactly what I’d call relaxing, but we still had a good time.

More miles on the tires, and four more weeks to go.

Total Distance: 38.5 mi
Moving Time: 2:11:47
Average Moving Speed: 17.5 mi/h
Max Speed: 33.4 mi/h
Min Elevation: 628 ft
Max Elevation: 887 ft
Elevation Gain: 1360 ft

8/26: Solo and Team Superior Ride

Team Superior has a Thursday ride along the Arkansas river, and I thought I’d join them this week for at least one leg of it.  Tom called and said he was going to take off from his house and just head west based on how he felt, but I left earlier, trying to meet up with the team.  The team starting point: 21 miles away.  So I already put in a good ride before I reached them.  Fortunately, I arrived early and was able to rest a bit before the team started.  I thought they’d be headed south along the ride (back the way I cam) but no, they headed north, so the ride was even longer than I thought it’d be.  The also came back down the west bank, which has a massive hill – thank god for very low gears.

Google Map

Ran into Tom just after breaking off from the team ride to head home, so we rode together the rest of the way, which is good because he sets a solid pace and it kept me from slacking on the ride home.

Total Distance: 45.8 mi
Moving Time: 2:54:59
Average Speed: 12.8 mi/h
Average Moving Speed: 15.7 mi/h
Max Speed: 33.0 mi/h
Min Elevation: 620 ft
Max Elevation: 773 ft
Elevation Gain: 1480 ft

8/23: Team Superior Liberty Trail Ride

Another ride with Team Superior – weather was a bit on the brutal side to start, heat index of 105° and sunny.  But as the sun went down, the temperature dropped quickly and the ride would’ve been more enjoyable at that point – had I not already been exhausted. 🙂

Kept a really fast pace (about 17.1 mi/h for the first 15 miles).   Had a bit of knee pain around the MCL, but seems to have faded off.   Next ride is Thursday, most likely.  Also received another donation, and I’m now at 70% of my goal!  Thanks for all those who’ve donated to this cause!

Total Distance: 30.0 mi
Total Time: 2:07:07
Moving Time: 1:48:42
Average Moving Speed: 16.5 mi/h
Max Speed: 28.1 mi/h
Min Elevation: 612 ft
Max Elevation: 826 ft
Elevation Gain: 1023 ft
Max Grade: 15 %
Min Grade: -12 %

Biking Zen – Finding the Middle Path

Zen Temple, Kamakura

Siddhattha Gotama – also known as the Buddha – described the middle path as the moderation between extremes.  Aristotle referred to this as the “golden mean”, the desirable middle between excess and deficiency.  For example, too much courage can lead to recklessness, too little to cowardice.  Finding balance in all things – be it work, play, food, sport, love, etc. – can lead to a very happy and healthy life (of course, I’m ignoring the über-rich folks for whom “balance” refers to splitting their travel time between limos, private jets and their Aston Martins).

When riding, there are many aspects where the middle path will serve you well. The more I focus on centering my state of mind as well as my body, the easier and more enjoyable I’ve found these long endurance rides to be.  Below are a some of the areas where applying the concept of the middle path has worked well. Continue reading Biking Zen – Finding the Middle Path