Rush Limbaugh has his . . . well, here is mine. This is my record of news stories and issues that interest me. You can also find more headlines at the site where I serve as editor: The Common Voice.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lunch time ride

Saturday is coming soon! I am excited but a little scared too. I know I can so 62 miles because I did 72 last weekend. However, it was really hard! Of course, some of that could have to do with the fact that I had only eaten two pop tarts before that ride. I've learned a lot more about how to prepare my body and maintain my body during the ride... though there are still some unknowns -- primarily Paris Mountain. What shape will I be in when I reach the base of the climb?

I am drinking plenty of water these days before the ride and I plan to eat a big pasta dinner Friday night. Saturday morning I'll have some oatmeal and a banana. During the ride I plan to take a banana and some energy bars. I'll be taking advantage of the stops for more fluids as I go along. My goal is not to be the last person in from the Paris Mountain route!

Training has eased a little here toward the end. Part of that is because I don't have as much time, the weather has not been good, and I want to have fresh legs when the time comes. However, I didn't want to go a week without riding. So, today I went out during my lunch break and knocked off 11 miles. No heart monitor. I just went out for the joy of riding. Didn't look at the computer. In the end, I averaged 16.2 mph for 40 minutes. My max speed was 36 mph.

Also, during the ride I went over 600 miles on my Allez -- and since I started riding on August 2.

I'm sitting in my office right now and I feel great. That is one major benefit of staying on the saddle. Bring on the metric century!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Staying cool in the heat

Your body can really cause itself pain. I sweat something awful. If I ride for anytime over half an hour, I will have water just pouring off of me. It does several things -- such as getting in my eyes, soaking everything I have on me, and more.

One of the worst things is the salt. After a very long ride, I can look at my black riding shorts and see lines of salt where the sweat has stopped. The bad thing about this is that the salt is abrasive. When your jersey starts accumulating this salt it begins to rub against you and rubs you raw! After a long ride several weeks ago, I decided something had to be done!

I went looking for something like the brand Under Armour. What I found was a nice piece made by the same company that makes my socks -- De Feet. This thing is awesome. It is light, form-fitting and long (so it stays tucked in). When you wear it, it pulls the sweat away from your body and then the air circulates through the mesh and it actually cools you down. It also protects you from the other articles of clothing that might rub you the wrong way.

Let me also put in a plug for the socks. I had worn regular cotton sports socks when I first started to ride. At the end of a ride long ride, my socks would be soaked (the accumlated water would get hot and my feet would start to boil) and they would come off just as heavy as could be. With my De Feet socks, the socks feel dry as soon as I take off my shoes -- they also are actually dry very shortly afterwards. The textile technology behind these types of clothes is really amazing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Staying safe on the road

Here is the latest addition to my Allez. After reading several instances where people riding have been in accidents, I decided to add another element to my ride that would help make me as safe as I can be. First, I am very careful to avoid roads where I think there is 1) too much traffic and 2) a bad quality of driver. It may take me longer to get where I'm going, but I will map out routes on the less traveled roads if at all possible.

Second, I have added this Cateye rear light system. Wow! Is it ever bright. You can turn it on constant or it has three variations of blinking. The only down thing right now is that it does not grip my seat post very well. Sometimes my leg comes back and moves it. Still, I think it is worth it to have the large surface area for the lights.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hitting the wall...

I now know the next hurdle I've got to get over: averaging over 19 mph for an hour ride. I tried it again today with nearly the same results as before. One hour of lapping Cleveland Park had me right at 19.1 mph. I cooled down to get up to 20 miles for the ride and my average came down a little.

I'm not going to push it too much for the rest of the week. I don't want to wear myself down before the ride this Saturday.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 20.26 miles / Average Speed: 18.9 mph / Time: 1:04:10
Average Heart Rate: 166 bpm / Level 5: 0:52:22* / Work: 1292**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

They really work

I discovered that the two 16 oz. water bottles I was using were just not large enough for longer rides. I figured it was a simple thing to just go in a bike shop and grab a larger bottle. I noticed that Chris was using one of these Polar Bottles. So, I checked them out. I was skeptical, but they do hold 24 oz. So, I thought I would try them out.

I put one of the bottles full of sports drink in my freezer. Later when I was about to do a 20 mile ride, I took it out and hit the road. I never got to drink much of anything. The liquid never melted enough for me to get a drink! Saturday when I took my 72 mile ride, the ice in my water hung around for nearly 2 hours and the water stayed cool until the very last stretch home.

These bottles are not a gimmick. They really work.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Things really turned around

The whole race changed right after I put my final post up last night. Turns out that things went a lot better for me. Super_D won - as you would expect him too since he was going up against the giveme team. Tru-Jr-Fan beat BBuck - this is one of the things I really needed to happen. The other thing that I needed to have happen was for me to beat RYR28. Well, when Elliot Sadler went in the wall, that became a possibility and in the end I pulled it off.

So, the league standings are like this:

PaitRacing :: 16/6/1
BBuck :: 16/7/0
Super_D :: 14/9/0
Tru-Jr-Fan :: 12/11/0
GetAFreeRide :: 0/21/1

If only I had not tied GetAFreeRide for that one race...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Looks like I'm going to get beat

Here is what I have on my computer as I am watching the race. You can see that I am getting plastered by RYR28. Thankfully, Tru-Jr-Fan is beating BBuck. Of course, as I type this, there are still 125 laps left. A lot can happen during that time!

Looks like I should have run Kyle Busch after all. Still, it was certainly a logical... hey! Elliot Sadler just hit the wall! That changes things already. My team has already picked up 20+ points. I just checked after the pit stops and, low and behold, I'm in the lead. Unfortunately, BBuck is also leading in his pairing.

We'll just have to wait and see after the last lap is run...

I think I over did it

Dave and I decided to take a ride along the route for the metric century - taking in only the unfamiliar parts. So, we wouldn't be doing the part of the route that goes over Paris Mountain. I figured it would end up being about 50+ miles but less than the actual 60+ that I'll be running next week.

It didn't turn out that way.

Things started out really well. Old Buncombe road is a known stretch. We managed to stay with the directions just fine until we reached Talley Bridge Road. We were looking for Edwards Road and didn't see it. We continued all the way to 276. We knew we had missed it then. So we back tracked and found that the Edwards Road sign was covered with kudzu. That added several miles to our total.

We noted that the rest stop is the entrance to the Cliffs off of Hwy. 11.

Then we missed another turn on Old Hwy. 25. We were supposed to turn on Dividing Water Road. Unfortunately, we were working so hard to keep going that we missed that turn as well. We almost rode up to the water shed before realizing we had missed it. That added a mile or so to our total.

Then we got to the Tigerville stretch. This gets a little confusing because it turns into Mountain View Road. I was at the four way stop sign at Hwy. 414 waiting for Dave to come up. I saw some serious looking riders coming toward me on the other side of 414. Dave caught up with me and we crossed. The other riders were slowing down to stop. We then got a good look at the lead rider. It was George Hincapie. I'm not sure, but he might have had Craig Lewis with him. What do you say? I said, "Hey" and kept riding.

That was neat, but it caused us to get distracted and we got confused again. I missed the turn that would put us back on Tigerville. We got to a fork in the road and there was no name on it. So, we turned around and went back up to 414. Looking at the directions, we discovered that the "no name" road was Tigerville Road. So, off we went again. That added quite a few miles to our total.

Thankfully, that was the end of our wrong turns. We hit a metric century as we turned off of Little Texas onto Pine Forest Road. From there, we knew exactly where we were going... HOME! After 72 miles home was looking pretty good. Though I will tell you, I couldn't do anything for the rest of the day.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 71.19 miles / Average Speed: 15.5 mph / Time: 4:34:43
Average Heart Rate: 151 bpm / Level 5: 0:41:10* / Work: 4774**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Recovery Ride

Last night I didn't ride. It was raining when I got home from church, so I didn't do my normal neighborhood course. I wasn't sure if I would ride tonight either because I had to go to a picnic.

I got home in time to get in fifteen miles. However, I didn't use my heart monitor. I just used it as a recovery ride. The distance was 15.26 miles. I averaged 15.5 mph. I hit a top speed of 39.8 mph. It took me just under one hour. The main thing is that I did that without really feeling like I pushed myself.

Tomorrow night, I won't ride -- maybe five miles or just enough to keep my legs loose. Saturday morning, I'll be taking my longest ride to date.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I set a new benchmark for myself

I did laps at Cleveland Park today. Thankfully, the rain held off and I didn't end up like last Tuesday. Overall I was happy with the way things turned out -- except that for some reason, my achelles tendon is bothering me.

I pushed for the first hour and managed to squeeze out a 19 mph average. That was exciting. I have never done that before. Even after slowing down a bit and climbing back home, I managed to keep an 18 mph average. I'm growing more and more confident about September 2nd.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 28.03 miles / Average Speed: 18.0 mph / Time: 1:33:21
Average Heart Rate: 160 bpm / Level 5: 0:45:10* / Work: 861**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Monday, August 21, 2006

Today's ride

The training line for today doesn't tell the whole story. I only had a little time to ride tonight. So, I did one of my "how much can I get in X amount of time" rides. Today it was 30 minutes. Off I went and thought I was really tearing it up. Turns out I was just doing what I normally do. As my watch reached 30 minutes, my trip meter showed 9.4 miles. I had hoped to get 10 miles. I averaged 18.8 mph. Funny, it was the same average I got the last time I did this.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 12.84 miles / Average Speed: 17.9 mph / Time: 0:43:00
Average Heart Rate: 168 bpm / Level 5: 0:32:27* / Work: 861**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

I lost the lead

Yesterday, I lost the lead in my NASCAR fantasy league. I had been in the lead for weeks. BBuck passed me up yesterday and is a half a race ahead of me. I'm still ahead in points, but we'll see how long that lasts. All good things must come to an end.

BBuck :: 16-6-0 (8370)
PaitRacing :: 15-6-1 (8766)
Super_D :: 13-9-0 (8006)
Tru-Jr-Fan :: 11-11-0 (8033)
RYR28DAVEYSLEGAcY :: 9-13-0 (7136)
GetAFreeRide :: 0-21-1

I knew I was in trouble when Kyle's tire blew. I was already in trouble at that point because Johnson was mired in the rear and only Gordon seemed to have a car that could get to the front. Even had I run Mark Martin instead of Busch it wouldn't have helped.

The good news is that Gordon has climbed to sixth in the points standings. Had my nemisis, Tony Stewart, not finished in the top five, Gordon would be sitting where Stewart is now.

Fun, fun, next up? Sharpie 500 from Bristol.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Interesting story lines

Today there should be some interesting story lines up in Michigan. Of course, I'm sure we are going to hear a lot about Dale Jr.'s bump and win yesterday in the Busch race. Then there is the Elliot Sadler explosion in the number 19. In addition, there is all the fall out because of the driver changes.

What about the racing? Michigan can be interesting. With its multiple passing grooves, it can allow the drivers to find the line best suited for them and even adjust in order to get around the competition if need be. Plus, it is getting down to do or die time. Some guys are going to really be going for broke.

How about PaitRacing? Well, let's check it out:

First, the competition. I'm up against Tru-Jr-Fan this week. Speaking of Jr., he did win last night and Michigan isn't a bad track for him. He did well last year. He starts 17th today. Kasey Kahne has also been pretty good at the track. I have a feeling he is itching to have a finish that matches how he ran in the race. He has "lost" in the last lap in the last two races. Today it will try to move up from 15th. Finally, there is Greg Biffle. He has got to be one frustrated driver. It appears that he certainly is trying to make a run to get in the chase. Wow, it will be hard, but rolling off 6th today is a good step in the right direction.

For me, I have Jimmie Johnson leading the way in 8th. What can I say about him? He is just quietly going along staying in the top spot. I'm sure he'll be playing it safe today - or maybe he will end up busting off one of those dominant runs of his. Shrub follows in 11th. Again, I had to decide whether to run him or Martin. A lot of people would probably say I should have put Martin in there because he is a Rousch driver in Michigan. However, Martin seems to be fading as the season progresses and Busch appears to be surging. I could be wrong - we'll see. Finally, there is Gordon. Who knows what he will end up doing. The one thing I know for sure is that he starts 12th. Based on qualifying and the practice speeds, it could be a long day.

In the end, I think I stand a pretty good chance. I know I need this win. BBuck is on the longest winning streak of all the teams in our fantasy league. I really don't see him losing today. The good news is that if anyone can beat him, it is Super_D.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I think I'm almost ready

Today was a big confidence booster. I got up early on a Saturday morning in order to make it to the starting line for our planned ride. Dave was there waiting for me and Chris arrived shortly after I got there. We were rolling off shortly after 7 a.m.

I hate to say it, but I actually enjoyed starting that early. I didn't really enjoy getting up early, but it was certainly worth it. It was cool - about 71 degrees - and the sun was just beginning to pop up above the trees. Best of all there was very little traffic.

The first lap was uneventful - except I was stupid enough to look down at my computer as we descended so I could see how fast I was going. I looked up and realized I was about to enter a curve. Thankfully, there was a road at the apex of the turn, so I hit my brakes and scooted into it.

Chris hit 50 mph coming down. I only got up to 46 mph. Maybe someday I'll get a little faster. Either way, it was much fun. Also, I should point out that going up Altamont was much easier this time.

We made it to the finish line in about one hour and twenty-four minutes. We stopped long enough for me to eat a banana and Chris to finish his bagel. Then we were off for our second lap. Dave was going to have to leave early, so we stuck him at the point to pull us up to the base of Paris Mountain. He did a wonderful job!

We picked up .2 mph on our average. When Chris and I started up Altamont we had averaged 16 mph up to that point. Dave's pulling really made the difference for me getting up this second climb. My heart rate had run in the 140's for much of the run and didn't go over 165 bpm.

The second trip over Paris Mountain was different. The final climb was awful! To make matters worse, I had taken my helmet off to climb and dropped it right before the more drastic incline. It really threw me off my rythmn. However, we did make it to the top.

On the way down, my legs just quit. Any other time I've gone down the mountain, I have been able to put it in the big ring and use my momentum to help me climb the slight rises that come up as you descend. Not this time, I found myself coming out of the saddle to get up some place I normally power through.

From that point on, it was survival for me. However, we made it. It was the longest ride I have ever made and it included two trips over Paris Mountain. I think I can make it on September 2nd.

Thanks Dave and Chris. Next Saturday I'm thinking about riding the metric century route - without including Paris Mountain - it should be about 55 miles or so. Want to come along? :-)

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 45.73 miles / Average Speed: 15.7 mph / Time: 2:53:31
Average Heart Rate: 158 bpm / Level 5: 0:58:15* / Work: 3219**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Friday, August 18, 2006

From a mountain bike to a mountain

No ride tonight - at least not on the Allez. Tonight I had to cut the grass because I probably won't get a chance to do it tomorrow. However, after getting done with my domestic duty, I jumped on my ProFlex and took a spin of Timmons Park.

Things were actually better than they have been. December saw the park nearly get destroyed. The disc golfers had already done major damage. Then a storm hit and caused the trail to get cut off by some large trees and branches that had fallen. You couldn't make it all the way around the trail.

Tonight, I was able to make it around - except for one spot where I had to get off the bike to climb over some brush that was piled in the middle of the trail. It wasn't that large of stuff, so I think I can easily move it out of the way. Then the only issue will be the fact that the trails have not been riden regularly and the undergrowth is encroaching on the trail in places.

Anyway, it was fun to get on the old 757 and get a different rythmn than the road bike. Funny, but in someways it was harder than I thought it would be. Perhaps it was because I hadn't warmed up.

Tomorrow is the big ride. I have to be at the starting line at 7 a.m. I hope I will be awake then! If I'm able to make it, it will be the farthest I have ridden yet. Below is a map of the circuit.

The blue line shows the route for the USACycling Pro Championship Road Race route. Click here to expand the map. Once you have expanded the map, click on it to be able to view more detail.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ah, finally!

I had a solid ride today. It wasn't very long, but it was quite a workout!

Early this morning I took my Allez over to Sunshine. I knew they were very busy. They had just gotten a shipment of their 2007 bikes in and they were assembling them as well as doing service on other customers' bikes.

I kinda sheepishly approached the guys and asked if they thought my crank was loose. They said it sure was. So, I then asked, "I assume I would have to leave it here and it would be a while before you guys could get to it?" I put on my best sad face. They looked at each other. Then John said as he went back to work on the bike. "It will be ready at 5. We close at 6."

After I got off work, I went first thing and picked up the bike. It was all ready to go with no popping sounds from the bottom bracket. Before long I was on the bike headed over to the CVS at the foot of Paris Mountain.

It was about 3.75 miles from my house to there. Once in the parking lot I waited for just a minute for Chris to show up. He arrived just on time and we headed up the mountain. The climb was gradual with some almost flat areas where you could regroup before hitting the next climb. Then on the backside it was just speed, speed, speed. Of course, I didn't trust myself seeing that I am not used to it, so I didn't exceed 40 mph.

On the way back it is just straight up. I knew I would have to pace myself. So, I switched my computer to the cadence setting and just tried to keep my revolutions between 75 and 85 rpm. I also kept an eye on my heart monitor and managed to keep my bpm under 170 until the very end of the climb. At that point, it goes really steep and I came out of the saddle and just plodded up.

I made it! Then it was all fun as I went into high gear and started carving up the downhill. I felt more comfortable and ended up hitting about 42 mph on the way down. I probably could have gone faster except I slowed down to look for a cell phone I had seen during the initial climb up. I found it, but it was broken.

Overall, I'm pretty happy. Saturday morning, we are going to do the USA Cycling Pro route - twice. That means I'll get to climb the backside of the mountain two times. I can't wait -- not!

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 20.28 miles / Average Speed: 14.3 mph / Time: 1:24:46
Average Heart Rate: 158 bpm / Level 5: 0:36:46* / Work: 1565**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm starting to get cranky

For the second day in a row, I have had something happen that has thrown me off my rythmn. This evening my plan was to do my "home course" - the 1.2 mile circuit around my neighborhood. I didn't have any plans for a long ride (just about 10 miles to help keep me sharp), but about 4 miles into the run I started hearing a popping sound in my crank.

I had just gotten my bike back from the shop for a tune-up, so there shouldn't have been any issues. Perhaps getting caught in the rain yesterday caused some problems that I couldn't deal with inside. I sure hope I can figure out what it is tomorrow because tomorrow evening is supposed to be my Paris Mountain climb.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 6.62 miles / Average Speed: 16.9 mph / Time: 0:23:30
Average Heart Rate: 159 bpm / Level 5: 0:07:00* / Work: 441**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Quick and lightening!

Well, I guess I can just throw out today's ride.

I got off work a little early and came home to grab some time on the bike before going to a meeting this evening. The plan was to ride for about 45 minutes or so, get back to the house in time to shower and get ready for the meeting at 6:30.

Things started out pretty well. I made it to Cleveland Park with a good average speed. I knew I wouldn't get a lot of miles in, so I was concentrating on trying to get a good time.

Going into Cleveland Park I felt a big drop of rain hit me. No big deal, it had been threatening off and on for several days and nothing drastic had happened. By the time I reached the opposite end of the park, the bottom started to fall out. Rain, rain, rain and more rain! However, there was no lightening, so I kept riding. Might as well learn how to ride in the rain sometime.

Anyway, it destroyed my averages. Just as I turned for home I heard the first peal of thunder. Then the rain came down even more. We're talking flash flood type of rain. The lightening and thunder was coming more frequent now. I kept telling myself, "As long as I can see the lightening, I'm okay." Still, it made me duck everytime I saw a flash (as if that would help).

Going up Lowndes Hill, I could hardly see. I was about to just pull over and try to find some shelter when I heard a car horn blowing. I looked up and it was the beautiful red head who came looking for me! She turned around and I loaded up the bike and enjoyed the car ride home.

Wow, that was exciting! Though, I think I'll just stop next time. Even if you don't hear thunder or see lightening when the rain starts, it probably means that it will be coming. You don't want to get caught out in one of those things!

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 12.31 miles / Average Speed: 16.9 mph / Time: 0:43:43
Average Heart Rate: 157 bpm / Level 5: 0:12:48* / Work: 851**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

The route is out

I had been waiting patiently for the route information for the Palmetto Peloton Project Metric Century. The que sheet just came out a day or so ago. While it is helpful, it is hard to visualize the ride by looking at the "turn left here" and "turn right there" directions.

So, I went over to my trusty Wayfaring site and created a map of the ride. Now, I had to go out and do some exploring as well because you can't always trust these online map services. This is pretty close though. Maybe I'll put up some pictures of the route a little later.

The blue line shows the route for the Palmetto Peloton Project Metric Century ride. Click here to expand the map. Once you have expanded the map, click on it to be able to view more detail.

If you're planning to make the ride, I hope this little map will be a help to you! Now, go hit the road.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Time flies when you're with a friend

Tonight I rode down to Cleveland Park in a friend's car. We had the bikes on a rack. That meant that we did all 22 miles in the Park. Thursday night we have plans to do Altamont Road -- up one side and down the other turning around and doing it the other direction. It makes all the difference in the world when you ride with someone.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 22.87 miles / Average Speed: 18.3 mph / Time: 1:14:53
Average Heart Rate: 165 bpm / Level 5: 0:50:07* / Work: 1424**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Caution, caution, caution, caution...

I knew I would win, but I didn't expect to outscore BBuck. Of course, my heart jumped into my mouth when Gordon spun around with around 25 laps left.

Even though I maintained my points lead over BBuck. I didn't manage to get a win ahead. Michigan is up next...

No ride today. I did rewrap my handle bars. No longer do I have that glaring white tape on there. I put some black Specialized Phat tape on there and it looks good! More importantly, the tape is nice and tight. The white tape had started to separate and the gel beneath was all messy. Now it is even more padded than before with the new gel. Can't wait to get on the seat and give it a try!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Taking on the mountain

I did it.

I cancelled my normal Saturday morning ride with the Sunshine guys so that I could take a ride with some friends along the route for the USACycling Pro Championship coming up in September. It is listed as a 21.9 mile ride, but I must have made a bad turn here or there (which I really think I did) because I ended up with a 22.8 mile trip.

At 8 a.m. I got a call from one of the guys that I was going to ride with to let me know that they had decided to cancel the ride due to rain. It wasn't raining at that moment but it was threatening. It was too late to catch up with the Sunshine ride (later I learned they did not ride) and I had to decide if I really wanted to do this alone. By 8:45 a.m. I figured if I was going to do anything today, I had to do it.

I rode easily up to Main St. through Cleveland Park in order to warm up. It was about a 3.7 mile ride. The USACycling Pro Championships Road Race course awaited. I rolled off onto West Broad St. and then onto Buncombe St. Then things got confusing, but somehow I ended up on Old Buncombe Rd. The next stop would be Paris Mountain.

Seven miles later I was getting ready to turn on to Altamont Rd. The ride to that point almost seems flat, but if you look behind you -- or look at the elevation profile -- you will see that it is a constant climb. There isn't any coasting. Then comes the turn to begin the REAL climb.

In three miles you climb nearly 1000 feet. There is little time to catch your breath on the way up. I averaged about 8 mph on the climb. My heart rate was in the high 70s and low 80s the whole time. It seemed like it went on forever! Finally, I reached the top.

Soon after cresting the mountain, I found my heart racing -- but it wasn't from exersion, it was from fright! There is a curve that comes up right when you feel you are on your way. It is a U-turn that warns you to stay at 15 mph. They aren't lying!

I came into the curve a little hot and realized I wasn't going to make it with my wet tires on the wet pavement. It became obvious when my rear tire went out from under me. I corrected and then fishtailed two more times before I got the bike under control -- just avoiding running into a rail fense on the other side of the road.

Due to the wet conditions, I decided not to push it as I continued down the mountain. I maxed at about 40 mph. The rest of the ride to the bottom was uneventful.

I crossed State Park Rd. and started up Piney Mountain Rd. It really isn't a mountain -- more of a hill -- and after doing Paris Mountain, it was a piece of cake. Then you take a little jog to the left onto 291 and then right onto Rutherford Rd. A left puts you on North Main St. This part of the ride was a relief after all the climbing. There was a lot of downhill in this section.

You then take a right onto Park Ave. and then your next left onto Richardson St. (or is it Townes St.?) which takes you to East McBee Ave. Take a right into Cleveland Park and take the high road around the park and you are ready to head back up West Broad St. to the finish line.

How do these riders do this five times?! I really feel like I could have done it one more time -- but five, I don't think so! Either way, I'm happy I did it. I've now put 342 miles on the bike in three weeks and cleared a mental hurdle by climbing the mountain.

Today's Training Line:

The statistics for today are a little off. They only represent the time I spent doing the circuit. My total mileage for the day was 35.8 miles. I had hoped to do 40, but the rain was starting to get to me and it was lunch time.

Distance: 22.80 miles / Average Speed: 15.4 mph / Time: 1:33:05
Average Heart Rate: 156 bpm / Level 5: 0:35:15* / Work: 1994**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Friday, August 11, 2006

No ride today

We had some family activities tonight, so I was not out on the bike. It actually is a good thing. I think my legs needed the rest. I'll need them fresh tomorrow morning because I am going to be trying something I haven't done since I was in my twenties or early thirties. I'll cover it more tomorrow.

NASCAR heads to Watkins Glen this Sunday. Today was qualifying. Gordon placed best among my drivers. He'll be starting near the front in 4th. That is a good omen. If Gordon is that close to the front, it will be a good day! Johnson is right behind him in 5th. Good to have another driver in the top 10...

That brings up the next question. Do I run Shrub and stay with the top qualifying driver or do I count on experience and run Martin -- even though he starts in 20th place. Kyle, rolling off 9th, is there with Gordon and Johnson in the top 10. Busch is also ahead of Martin in the standings. So, he obviously is doing something right.

I'll sleep on it and probably end up making up my mind Sunday morning. Either way, it really doesn't matter that much because I am going up against the "give me" team this week. I'm assured a win. I just hope that BBuck loses.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

How many miles in an hour?

I've been riding nearly everyday now since July 22. For the first time something different happened. I didn't want to go out. Regardless I suited up and headed out. I decided to try something different. Instead of setting a distance goal, I set a time goal. I wanted to see how far I could go in one hour.

As I pushed through the laps, I started to realize I could potentially average 19 mph. Near the end of the hour I hit 18.9, but as the hour ticked to a conclusion the average speed on my Cat Eye read 18.8. Still, I was able to cover 18.8 miles in one hour. Someday, I hope I can cover 20 miles in an hour, but I was happy with this for a start.

After finishing the hour I still had to ride home. That ended up making my entire route a nearly 22.5 mile ride. I even managed to maintain a 17.9 mph average with all the climbing I had to do on the way to the house.

You guessed it. Now I'm glad I did it. Tomorrow I think I'll back off a little so that I can be fresh for the group ride Saturday morning. I'd like to pull in thirty miles that day.

Oh, today's ride also put me over 300 miles on my Allez. I could potentially end up with 150 miles this week.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 22.46 miles / Average Speed: 17.9 mph / Time: 1:15:06
Average Heart Rate: 168 bpm / Level 5: 0:53:57* / Work: 1494**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The quickie route

I knew that if I was going to get enough base miles on my bike, I was going to have to get some miles in on Wednesday. Wednesday is the day I go to midweek services at my church. I'm not going to give that up to ride a bike. I also didn't want to rush home, ride and then get ready for church. It is hard enough getting home, eating, getting the kids ready, and getting to church as it is.

So, on my way home from work today, I took the car and drove around my neighborhood measuring out a route to ride. I came up with a 1.2 mile circuit with two nasty climbs, few stop signs, and hardly any traffic. I figured I could get in a ten mile ride with ease -- just enough to keep the legs limber and add a dime to my weekly mileage.

When I got home from church, I got on the bike and headed out. I ended up with a pretty good workout (as you can see below). I was cranking and still only managed 16 mph or so. Those hills really do add to the workload. The coolest thing is that the sun went down and I was still able to ride because of the available street lights. Traffic? The primary traffic was the pedestrian type.

I think this is going to be great! When things get too busy, I can always ride very early in the morning or late at night. The main thing is to stay in the saddle! Speaking of saddles. I rode the last 3 miles standing up because my seat came loose and tipped backward. I'll have to fix that tomorrow.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 10.21 miles / Average Speed: 16.5 mph / Time: 0:37:02
Average Heart Rate: 160 bpm / Level 5: 0:18:05* / Work: 705**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

To church and back on a bike

I tried something different for my route today. My memory told me that the drive out to my church and back home was around 19 miles. So, I figured it would be a good ride since it would be different from my normal style and would also meet my goal of putting 20 miles in for today.

It certainly was different. There were no step climbs with a fast downhill on the other side. There was a lot of flat or gently sloping asphalt. This allowed me to stay in the crank more than I typically do. It shows in the higher than average average speed. I also never really peaked my heart rate -- though I was up above 160 for most of the trip.

Near the conclusion of the route I discovered that it is actually only about 16 miles to and from Suber Road Baptist Church. So, I tacked on four more miles by going on down East North Street and taking Laurens until I could get on to Lowndes Hill. That allowed me to loop back to home and pick up the needed miles -- almost an extra one at that.

Fun! I feel great! After stretching once I got home, I have no soreness or stiffness in my legs. My recovery was much better even after putting in a 40 miler last night. The last time I did the 30+ miles, the next night when I did 20, it nearly killed me. I must be getting in shape finally!

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 20.81 miles / Average Speed: 17.6 mph / Time: 1:10:57
Average Heart Rate: 165 bpm / Level 5: 0:50:25* / Work: 1925**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Monday, August 07, 2006

Say hello to rubber legs

I went out today determined to do 40 miles. To be safe, I just did laps in Cleveland Park. That way if I tanked at any point in the ride, I wouldn't have that far to go. My goals were to make 40 miles and attempt to maintain a 17 mph speed. Things were going great until about 37+ miles into the attempt.

I had started wearing riding gloves to help take out some of the vibration and to keep my handlebars from getting slimmy with sweat. However, the left glove caused my wedding ring to cut off the circulation in my finger. So, as I was climbing up the hill behind the park, I attempted to take the ring off. It came off, but I dropped it! I lost my wedding ring!

I had to turn quickly to make sure I could do a U-turn and when I looked back I could not see the ring. Assuming that it rolled down the road I coasted back to look for it. Nothing. Finally, I put the bike down and searched for it for about 10 minutes. It was getting dark and I decided to come back and look for it tomorrow in the light.

As I climbed back on my bike, I prayed, "Lord, you know the ring is worth more than just the money that was paid for it. If you want it to be lost, then that is okay, but you know how much it means to me. Please, let me find it." I had no sooner settled to be content with it being lost when I looked up and there it was. Right in the middle of the road.

So, I am a happy man! I got my 40 miles and found my ring. I'm also willing to bet that had I not coasted around, I could have picked up that .1 needed to have averaged 17 mph. Oh, I also hit 183 for my max heart rate. I'm still willing to bet it is really closer to 185.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 40.70 miles / Average Speed: 16.9 mph / Time: 2:24:29
Average Heart Rate: 166 bpm / Level 5: 1:46:40* / Work: 2796**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wow, what a race

The first half of the race wasn't that exciting -- unless you follow Jeff Gordon. It was a "here we go again" moment early in the race when he lost a bolt to his sway bar. From that point on, it became interesting to see if he would be able to get his laps back. There was enough time left to have hope...

Turns out things ended well enough for Gordon -- and specifically for my fantasy league! I thought it all went out he window after the last caution, but things turned around to lead to the following results:

PaitRacing 455 / Super_D 426
Tru-JR-Fan 274 / RYR28DAVEYSLEGACY 279
GetAFreeRide 212 / BBuck 446

I maintain my lead on BBuck and we both gain on Super_D (who is in third place). RYR28DAVEYSLEGACY is one win away from tying things up with Tru-JR-Fan. Even so, Tru-JR-Fan has got to be happy to see Dale Jr. move into the top ten in points. I sure was glad to see Gordon not only stay in the top ten but even pick up a spot! I wouldn't have thought it possible early in the race.

There is no training line today. I took the day off. However, I will include a picture of my bike. It is a simple entry level rider for someone who wants to begin riding seriously. It isn't something you would go out racing!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Kurt Busch goes to the rear of the field

At least now it will be a little tougher for Super_D to beat me tomorrow. Kurt Busch blew a tire during happy hour and they had to go to a backup car. The rear of the field isn't normally that big of a deal, but the fact they are not running their primary car could make things interesting for the number 2.

Of course, judging from the 3rd practice and happy hour speeds, my guys don't give me a lot to be confident about! Wouldn't you know it. Ol' Shrub gives me reason to start debating with myself about whether to bench him or Martin... I had decided to go with Martin.

Learning how to draft

This morning I watched last few qualifying attempts at the Brickyard. Now I have to make my decision about who to run tomorrow. Here is how the fantasy league standings appear going into the race:

As you can see, BBuck is catching up to me. This is the week he stands a very good chance of not only catching me, but passing me in the standings. He goes against the freebie this week. Unless he completely collapses, he will get a win this week. Me? I go up against Super_D who is running a close third in the standings.

So, how do we match up? I'm going to be running Mark Martin (6th in the standings and rolling off 19th tomorrow), Jimmie Johnson (leading the points and starting 5th in the grid), and Jeff Gordon (9th in points and sitting in 16th for the Brickyard where he has won 4 times before). Super_D starts Kurt Busch (13th in points and starting 3rd), Matt Kenseth (right behind Johnson in points and taking the green in 20th place), and Ryan Newman (18th in the standings and rolling off 8th at Indy).

What can I say? It is going to be tough and close. I really think Gordon will run better than he qualified. He ran very late in the order and the track temperature was nearly 20 degrees hotter at that point. The speeds tend to go down - though Robby Gordon and Kasey Kahne turned in impressive laps in the heat.

What do NASCAR and road bikes have in common? Drafting is important in both sports. You just can't know what a difference it makes to get drafting help on a bike until you've been there. This morning I needed all the drafting help I could get! After riding over 50 combined miles on Thursday and Friday evenings, I went out with the Sunshine guys this morning. My lungs and heart were all ready to go, but my legs just would not respond.

Thankfully it was a group ride and I was able to get pulled a little bit of the way. Even with the "bad" day, I am pretty happy. I really think I'll be able to handle this metric century. I'm also glad to report that counting my warm up rides, I have logged over 120 miles on the bike this week (which was my target). They say that is what it takes, "base miles" - and I'm getting them (my butt bones are reminding me)!

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 25.19 miles / Average Speed: 15.1 mph / Time: 1:39:10
Average Heart Rate: 152 bpm / Level 5: 0:22:41* / Work: 1911**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 163 and 182 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Friday, August 04, 2006

NASCAR starts up again tomorrow

Tomorrow is qualifying for the race at Indy. It seems to have been a long off period. It will be nice to get the guys trading paint again. Maybe some of the tempers will have calmed down!

I'm still doing my own race - a race against myself as I prepare for my first metric century. Of course, I will be aiming for a real century ride once I can get this one under my belt. I'm encouraged, though tonight I kind of hit a wall.

I didn't push myself. I concentrated on keeping my heart rate under control (I dropped the average by more than 15 bpm while still averaging over 15 mph). Even on the climbs, I didn't come close to my max heart rate. The 20 mile ride didn't seem to take that much out of my heart and lungs. However, the legs were kind of tired after riding last night farther than I had ever ridden on this bike. Tomorrow morning I ride with the Sunshine group. The thing that scares me is that I might not be recovered enough to hang with them...

I had a good amount of climbing since my ride ended up at my friend's house. He lives on Paris Mountain. It was so nice to get there and jump in the pool. The beautiful red head was there with the kids and we had a lot of fun playing with them in the water.

Right now I have to cram in some sleep. The morning ride will be here before I know it.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 20.94 miles / Average Speed: 15.3 mph / Time: 1:22:17
Average Heart Rate: 151 bpm / Level 5: 0:13:12* / Work: 1507**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 163 and 182 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'm half way there!

I started out to do a 25 mile ride. It was part of my plan to work toward the metric century. Well, I got going and kept saying to myself, "Just one more lap..." and before I new it I hit nearly 33 miles! That means I am halfway there to making it. I'm excited about the progress I'll be able to make.

Today's Training Line:

Distance: 32.82 miles / Average Speed: 17.5 mph / Time: 1:52:19
Average Heart Rate: 162 bpm / Level 5: 1:04:54* / Work: 2321**

* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 163 and 181 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions

Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer

New section on the site

I have added a new section to the site. In the right column you will find a "Links" section. There really isn't a method to the section. I'll just be adding links that I find interesting, relate to something I am doing at the moment, or that point to sites published by my friends.

You'll see the first two fall into those categories. The first is Jon works at The Worthwhile Company. I am excited to see him take this step to lose some weight, and I want to be as supportive as possible. So, keep up with Jon and drop him a word of encouragement if you can.

The second link listed is to the Palmetto Peloton Project. This is the metric century ride I mentioned in my last posting. It is a worthy cause and a good ride. I'm glad to be a part of it. I've committed to the century ride and to raise $250. I hope I can exceed my expectations with the fundraising... and the ride!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Now I've gone and done it!

I've always enjoyed the energy that comes from a regular exercise routine. However, it has been hard to find a sport that I could do that would fit into my lifestyle. I don't like "stationary" exercise. I want to be out doing something. Running is okay and I have run extensively in the past, but it just doesn't have that element that keeps me coming back for more.

Mountain biking has been more my speed and riding gives me a workout while at the same time allowing me to incorporate the technical sides of riding and the social side of thrashing a trail with other pedal pushers. The only problem is that with a family and all the work responsibilities it has become harder and harder to load up the bike and find a trail. The trail that was once behind my house has basically be destroyed, so I would have to drive to the nearest trails.

Enter road biking. I have recently worked out a deal so I could get a Specialized Allez Elite Triple. It isn't a fancy bike, but is a solid beginners bike. Now, my rides begin at the end of my driveway! I've been able to work out a system of riding Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. After my first full week of riding, I have logged over 100 miles.

That's me second in line.

Where I have gotten myself in trouble is that I have signed up for my first Metric Century ride on September 1st! That means I have only a month to prepare to ride over 62 miles. So far the longest I have ridden is 30 miles. I hope I'll be able to do it. But really, a goal like that is what I need to keep me in the saddle and pushing for improvement. It is what turns exercise into a sport - a game where I play against myself to go farther than I thought I could.

I'll be using this space as a journal of my training along with the other little tidbits I keep track of - like Trent Mayo, NASCAR and UNC sports.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Then again, he did make it... sort of

It turns out that Trent Mayo finished in 16th place instead of 17th. More importantly, Bell Racing, the company that appears to be underwriting a lot of the expenses for the show, has decided to let the five next drivers participate as alternates. So, if anyone has to drop out, Trent would be the next in line.

I got this note from Trent this afternoon:
I am the first alternate if one of the top 15 or one of the top five in the wildcards can't participate. The producer has said that Bell Racing will pay all my expenses to still be involved in it in case one falls out. I will practice and do all the media things as if I am one of the 15. If nobody falls out, I will still get to be seen by the veterans and race teams so that is great!
Here is the statement by Bell Racing:
"Due to the tremendous efforts of all the drivers involved, Bell Racing would like to reward an additional five drivers as 'Alternates' for the program Racin' For A Livin,'" said General Manager Kyle Kietzmann. The Alternates are the top 5 contestants that did not make the final selection, Should one of the 20 contestants not be able to participate, an alternate will be selected. Bell Racing has graciously provided all transportation and lodging for the Alternates who will also have a chance to be seen by Veterans and team owners.
So, things are so bad on that front after all! There is still a chance.

He didn't make it

Well, it was a valiant try, but Trent Mayo did not make the show "Racin' for a Livin'." I keep hoping that maybe something will come up and he'll still be able to get on board. My guess is that the producers would have really liked to have had him. He has such an interesting story to tell - or maybe I should say he is an interesting story.

I guess I went on vacation at just the wrong time. The votes I had been giving him helped move him into the top 15 for several weeks. Then I went on vacation and he dropped to 20th. He finally ended up 17th.

We'll see if the show gets picked up by a network. I am aware that some cable outfits have expressed interest, but the producers want to hold out for a big three - or Fox - option.

Either way, I don't think we've heard the last of Trent Mayo.