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.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A singular happiness...

Yesterday was a fun day. After the ride in the morning, I went over to Sunshine to do some Christmas shopping. I needed to spend some gift certificates.

I walked out with a bike I had been looking at for a bit. Ever since first reading about single speed bikes, I've been drawn to them. The idea is to kind of return to your childhood when you didn't have gears. One sprocket in the front and another in the back.

Back to the SE Bikes Draft in a bit.

While I was there Mike let me take out his new Vespa 200L. Nice. He got it at BMW Touring Sports here in Greenville. I noticed it when I rode up after the ride that morning. As soon as I saw it I figured it was Mike's.

I got on it and it really reminded me of my vintage Vespa. The ergonomics and lines of sight were very similar. Of course, it was a WHOLE lot easier to ride. The bike was perfectly balanced and with no clutch or gearing you don't have to think about getting up to speed.

The transmission doesn't allow you to do burnouts, but it does have enough pep to get you up and going. The engine gives you plenty of power to reach speeds up to 80 mph. Now, I didn't go that fast :-), but I did reach 65 mph with power to spare.

When I got back, I couldn't get the smile off my face. It was so fun to be floating over the road. It's got me thinking of getting my old Vespa back on the road again...

After getting back to the house, I jumped on the single speed to give it a try. It was fun just getting out and running with the simplicity of Draft. The ride was smooth like a road bike. The downhill was nice and solid. The bike wasn't twitchy at all. Then when it came to climbing, things changed... I found myself thinking about the gears at that point!

Still, the simplicity brings a smile to your face. Want to climb that hill? You'll just have to pedal up. Your legs become the gears.

Another advantage is that it is a great bike to ride with my wife. She is just starting to ride and is working up to some bigger distances. When I have gone out with her on my road bike I outdistance her. With the Draft I really got a good work out keeping up with her on the hilly terrain in our neighborhood.

This will be my commuter bike. I plan to ride it to work when I can. It has a rack on the back and I may add some fenders for when the road is wet. It is going to be fun.

That will keep the smile on my face.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

It was a fun day... as long as I didn't kill myself

Last night I felt pretty tired. I toyed with the idea of not riding this morning. However, I set my alarm for 7 AM and dragged my body out of bed to make it to Sunshine by 7:45.

My original plan was to do the UWBL ride. However, it started out in Spartanburg today and I didn't feel up for that kind of pace and distance. It was a perfect set up for a fun ride with the guys.

As I pulled up through the fog into the parking lot, I wondered if there would be anyone there. Ah! There was Art standing by his car wondering the same thing. Turns out the ride included Art, Bob, Web, Tech, me - and some stranger named John. Actually, it was good to have John back on the ride with us.

We rolled out into the fog and kept an easy pace all the way through the Reid School Road sprint. Web took off at that point and crossed the sprint line first. At that point, I just wasn't in the mood to go for it.

As we started up Meece Bridge Road I figured I would give it a try. Web was leading out again and I was trying to conserve just behind him. Then John and Art came around. I got on Art's wheel while John led out. I figured John was going to take it easy, but you never know...

Sure enough, he slowed and I paced around Art and him. I waited until we went over the rise just before the finish line and then just hammered it. I was hoping that maybe my burst would catch Art flat-footed. I don't even know what happened because I didn't look back until I turned around at the end.

We were all warming up by that point. Vests, arm warmers, and gloves were coming off. There was no rain and the fog was lifting. At that point we were in the mid-fifties. It was really a great day for riding.

The group talked and spun along until we reached the base of the quarry road. Leading up to it, Web and Bob had a pretty big gap on us. I decided to just pace myself up and hopefully catch them at the top. Art went around me and I started to rethink my strategy.

Then John came around me. He kept looking back over his shoulder and I sensed that he was wanting me to hook up on his wheel. He knew he didn't have it for a sprint, so he was going to pull me back up to Art.

I jumped on his wheel and he paced me back nearly to Art's wheel. He peeled off and I latched onto Art. About this time we passed Web and Bob. Then it was just Art and me to the top.

John's pull up really helped. I was a little fresher than Art. I have also discovered some new power in using my big ring on these climbs. Once again, I never left the big ring today. I just did what it took for me to stay with him until we neared the top knowing that I could just stand on it and get a burst of speed. That is just about how it worked out.

Next up was the Sandy Flat sprint. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do on this one so I kind of hung back to see what would unfold. Again Web and Bob went ahead. John was pulling Art and me. John eased off and my momentum carried me around Art. Up ahead I could see Web and Bob going for the line. I decided to see if I could take them. They were caught napping as I had speed coming around them to take the line.

Next up, the State Park entrance. This started out with Web in the lead and John, Art, and me following. John dropped back and Art and I tucked in behind Web. Right as we reached the bottom of the dam, Web slowed and Art and I had to spread wide because of the momentum.

Just as I started to gather myself for the next move, John came flying around my left. "I bet he's going to go for the sprint after talking about being so out of shape," I thought. So, I stood to follow. However, after just a few yards he slowed and I was able to leisurely take it up to the top with Art following.

Oak Leaf was an epic battle. This is Art's playground. We started up the climb and I noticed Art had a much higher cadence than I did. I was still hanging in there with my big ring. I tested to see if I could make up distance and I could, but the question was would it blow me up.

I slowly worked my way even with Art. Then with about 20 feet or so to go, we both really started hammering. We were neck and neck up to the top and I thought that the higher cadence was going to win out, but I held on and gave a final push across the line. Whew. That was tough... the guy is nails.

Here is where Art does you in. Sure, I beat him on Oak Leaf, but when we got to Nature Trail he kept right on going. Perhaps I could have given him a run for his money, but I didn't get a chance to decide. He was off and steadily hammered away. I did manage to finish that climb in second -- a distant second.

That is when it started to get humorous. As we were heading back to the shop, we stopped at an intersection. The guy in the truck coming motioned us to go. I started to move not knowing that the other guys in the group motioned the driver to go. I realized this at the last second and tried to stop. You guessed it. I couldn't get my shoe released and down I went.

No more that fifty yards ahead we came to Rutherford Road. Just across that busy street is a train track. We waited at the light for it to change. Nearly as soon as it turned green it turned yellow. We were rushing to get across at that point and I was wondering why the light was so fast.

Turns out it was because a train was coming. As soon as we got across Rutherford, the bars started coming down. A couple of guys got across the track before the bars dropped. Another one went around the bars (bad boy!). I tried to stop on the downhill leading to the tracks. My rear wheel hit the paint and I was fishtailing pretty wildly. Finally, I got stopped before reaching the bar.

I gave the gift of laughter to the guys today.

But wait, that's not all! When I reached home I was trying to ride past my Suburban that was parked next to the house in the narrow driveway. As I tried to avoid the mirror on the side, my wheel slipped off the driveway and I went down hard. So hard that the back of my head hit the concrete.

That is a good reason to wear your helmet even when you think you are safe. My head was hurting a bit and my neck is sore, but the helmet did its job. Thankfully, the helmet was not cracked. It hit on the little knobs that stick out the back and they gave well enough that there was no damage.

I think it was just my day to fall and it finally happened.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's good to be home!

We got back to Greenville and today I had a chance to get out on my bike. I had been riding down in the swampy areas of North Carolina for the last several days. It was flat, flat, and more flat. A grin came to my face as I started up a hill near my house.

It was good to be home.

I didn't even know where I was going to go. I just wanted to ride. So, I pointed the bike through some neighborhood streets until I came to Cleveland Park. No full lap there as I turned up McDaniel to ride up to Augusta. I hadn't made up my mind, but I could feel the pull of Paris Mountain.

Augusta led me to Main Street and Main Street brought me to Broad. A simple left decided it for me as I made the decision to go over the mountain. As I rode along, I had to decide on something else. Was I going to try my "11 mph average" attempt this time?

I wasn't so sure. I had not eaten much at all. Just a couple of eggs and a cinnamon roll for breakfast and then some snack foods and a Power Bar for lunch. The HammerGel I stuck in my jersey was all I had other than water.

Nearing Altamont, I was feeling pretty good. My Garmin showed I had ridden about 18 miles to get to this point. My heart rate was in the high 140s. Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained... so I pressed the lap button at the bottom of the road and tried to average 11 mph up.

Right away I noticed it was going to be a problem. Constantly looking down to see my speed was causing me to lose my rhythm. I would fluctuate between 9 mph and 12 mph over short distances. Finally, I just decided to check less frequently and try to go by feel.

My guess is that I was doing pretty good up until the last third of the climb. At that point I lost my momentum. Before that point if I felt myself slowing, I could turn it up a bit and get back going. However, just before the "Go Mansell" (I think that is what it says) I hit a wall. I had to completely regroup and try to recover some for the final climb.

By the time reached the speed sign before The Wall, I was at least rolling again with a constant cadence. Then when I turned the curve onto the final straight-a-way, I shifted to gears harder and stood up. Regardless how I felt, I was going to ride them up to the top.

I averaged about 8 mph up the wall and put on a burst right before the KOM line. Looking down I saw 13' 01" on my computer. Alright! It definitely worked better to go "slow and steady." The last time I tried to go all out up front and then survive, I finished in 13' 25".

Really, that last third is what killed me. It isn't that it is a hard section. It is just that I find I'm needed to recover about that time. I did notice that my heart rate stayed below 185 bpm for the entire climb. I seem to be able to motor right along at 180 bpm. Once I start consistently hitting 182+ I find I need to recover a bit.

Lots of room for improvement... That's what makes it a challenge!


Saturday, December 22, 2007

I am toast!

I've been here in the swamps of North Carolina for the last several days. Until today I had only been out for rides of about 10 to 15 miles. There has been a lot of family going on and with the shorter days I haven't gotten as many miles as I thought I would.

Well, today I went for a ride with the beautiful red head. She is doing very well. She looks like she's been doing it for years. She just hasn't gotten any base miles at all. I think I might just win her over!

After warming up with her, I headed out on my own. My goal was to go out to Highway 410 and just ride straight ahead for 20 miles and then turn around and ride 20 miles back. Once I reached Bladenboro I saw a sign that let me know the town of Chadburn would come along right about the time I reached my goal. So, I set my sights on Chadburn.

Man, I was flying! It wasn't because I was going down hill either. It doesn't get much flatter than around here. If you stop pedaling, you stop rolling. But here I was easily hitting 25 mph and holding it there. I intentionally made myself slow down because I was afraid I would wear myself out.

I made it to Chadburn averaging over 22 mph. At a couple of points in the ride, I was pedaling at 21 mph with one leg and then the other. Wow, I would be knocking these 40 miles out in no time!

My euphoria ceased when I reached Chadburn and turned around. As soon as I did, I realized why I was making such good time. I turned into a pretty strong headwind -- which of course was my tailwind on the way out. What a sinking feeling! I knew I had just as far to go back and it would be 100% into the wind.

I was lucky on the way back to get up to 19 mph. As I went between coves of trees I would get a little relief and get speeds up to 20 mph. Then I would be out in the middle of cotton fields and the wind would nearly stand me up at times. It was time to suffer.

I kept at it getting the occasional motivation from the dogs that came out to chase me. Of course, that just used up energy I needed to fight the wind. I felt like I was in some Roman myth with the wind god laughing at me. As I would speed up to fight against the wind, he would just blow all the harder.

Amazingly I was able to hold my 20 mph average speed for the trip until mile 38. That was right as I entered Bladenboro on the return. Four more miles to go... My average dropped like a rock at that point and I ended up with a 19.6 mph average. It felt so good to get off the bike. My Garmin told me I had burned 2,800 calories. I said, "Yeah, right!" I felt like I had burned away two days of my life!

I'm reminded again why I love riding in the Upstate. Sure, those climbs are hard, but there is time to recover. Around here it is just dig in and hold it. I imagine the climbing makes for stronger legs, but the constant pedaling has got to do something good for you... I think.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The beautiful red head has a bike

It is hard to keep focused on posting to my blog. There are a lot of things going on with Christmas and vacation. I've got parties to attend, shopping to accomplish, and packing for traveling. I'm squeezing in some short rides and some time on the trainer, but there really isn't that much to write about cycling wise.

One cool thing is that got a bike for my wife. She was a real sport about it. I went yesterday to Sunshine Cycle Shop to pick it up. The kids knew I was going to do it, so when I got back they came running out calling for their mom to come see "her present."

I know she isn't real excited about riding the thing on the road. She is very fearful of the cars. I knew this and while I hope she overcomes the fear and will give it a try, I didn't get her the bike primarily for that.

She was the only one in our family without a bike and when we go riding in the park we either have to borrow a bike or she doesn't ride. This takes care of that. We'll start off riding together as a family on some of the country roads where I grew up.

I think she is going to give the road a try - as long as I start her out on sections that don't have a lot of traffic. Believe me, I'll do everything I can to make it as enjoyable as possible.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Slowing down - just a little

Wednesday several of the normal Saturday morning riders went out to take on the Hour of Power ride. We killed it - finishing nearly 20 minutes faster than normal. Today those riders - and about eight others - went out to do it again. Today was slower - but not by much.

Again we started off with Art pushing the pace early. The temperatures were cooler than Wednesday. MotionBased tells me we rolled out at 46 degrees. It sure felt colder than that. We came back with the temperature only rising to 48 degrees. The main problem though was the wind. We averaged 13 mph wind speed with some winds reaching 16 mph. Why is it it always seems that the wind is a headwind?

The group strung out a little bit while Art sat off the front by himself for much of the early warm up. Then it was time to prepare for the first sprint. Louis and Bob went ahead. I argued with myself about going after them. They had a pretty good jump on me as they started up Tanner Road. When I saw them slowing slightly, I decided to see if I could take it.

I did, but it wasn't too smart. I pushed my heart rate up to 188 bpm. It was way early to be pulling those kinds of stunts! My legs didn't appreciate it and I spent a good amount of the ride from that point trying to get back in shape. My HR climbed to 186 bpm as I was coming up Meece Bridge Road to Darby Road and I wasn't even contesting the sprint!

That section started out with pretty much the same line up as Wednesday. Tony led. Billy took over and I moved up from there. Only difference was Art and Bob had taken off ahead of us. Then Owen came around us on the left and went after them. Mike, Tony, and I just watched it unfold as Art broke away toward the end to take the prize.

From there I was hurting. I knew the next big deal was the quarry road. I didn't know what shape I would be in by that point. However, as we neared the climb, I was feeling much better. Perhaps I could do something here...

Art and Mike started up together. I was right behind Mike. Then I heard Art say, "Ok, Louis, where are you?" Louis typically goes off at the beginning and bonks at the top. I heard Louis' laugh come from behind us, "What? What are you talking about?"

We continued on to the mid-point and Louis came between us. He was making his move a little later this time. I just decided to bide my time on Mike's wheel and see if Louis would bonk. Art countered though which made Mike pick up his pace. I followed.

Was that Art and Louis slowing up ahead? I thought so and picked up my pace a bit. However, it wasn't so. I backed off again to watch Louis take Art on the sprint. The good news for me was I got my heart rate back under control. I had barely topped 185 bpm on the climb.

I got in the pace line and started trying to find a rhythm with my breathing. I figured I needed to get some oxygen in there. I had my heart down to the 140s as we started the sprint on Sandy Flat. I got on Billy's wheel and followed him down to the base of the road. When he moved over just before the climb, I figured he was either wanting me to lead out and then get me or he just didn't feel he had the legs.

At that point, I put my eyes on the top of the hill and cranked it. I didn't look back until I reached the top. There was no one on my wheel. I had taken my second Sandy Flat sprint! Best of all, though I was winded, I didn't feel as burned out as earlier even after quite a bit of exertion.

The group kind of mellowed at this point and there wasn't a lot of action until we neared the State Park sprint. I had recovered significantly since before the push started. As we sat in the pace line setting up for the rush I told Billy that if he would get on my wheel, I would lead him out for the sprint. I remembered how I had jumped him on Wednesday when I should have let him go. I figured I would make amends.

It was kind of fun knowing I could just give it all I had and pull off to let the other guys duke it out. I just hoped I could led him to the right point. Louis and Bob were ahead of us as we started down the hill to where it would kick up again and the sprint would start in earnest.

Just before we reached the base, I pulled out of line and pushed to reach even with the Louis. After we bottomed out and started up the hill I broke off to the left wide to let Billy take it. I had hoped to take him further, but I was wasted and knew I would only slow him down. I shouldn't have worried, Bob hung on his wheel for just a few seconds and then Billy did what Billy does and took the sprint.

We were all groaning as we neared Oak Leaf, but Art made us do it anyway. For me it was just survival. However, I have to say that though it is still hard, I don't dread it nearly as much as I used to. I've started surprising myself on that climb.

Then it was time for Nature Trail. I knew I had to win this one because I wasn't able to claim Wednesday's. Mike and I went in with a head of steam. When Mike down shifted, I stayed in my big ring. That seemed to be what helped me Wednesday. Maybe it would work again.

I stood and just kept my rhythm. Swoosh... Swoosh... Mike was sitting beside me and was spinning at a higher cadence. Swish.. Swish.. Swish.. As we started up the final climb Mike's breathing started to speed up. I stayed right beside him.

Then he made a move. I countered by pushing down in my big ring. I didn't even need to shift to get the speed, I just increased my cadence. I heard his chain slip and then I heard "Awwww!!" I knew I had him at that point so I just pushed it on up to the top. We had averaged over 10 mph on the climb hitting up near 15 mph on the final push.

Then it was on back to the shop. Several of us guys stayed for over an hour talking around the coffee pot. That was nearly as fun as the ride... but not quite.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

What a ride!

Yesterday, Art, Billy, Tony, and myself met for a ride. We had hoped to have at least six of us, but several people had things come up and were unable to participate. Still, I knew it would be a good ride because all four of us could maintain a good pace.

We finally decided to do the Hour of Power ride. It was the best option that would 1) keep us from having to go over the mountain, and 2) would assure us that we would get back within the time limit most of us had. Once we had that decided, we mounted up and headed out.

Right off the bat I knew it was going to be a different ride. As we were going down the warehouse road that runs parallel to Rutherford, Art picked up the pace. Where on a normal HoP ride we would average 16 to 18 mph through this section, he was pulling us through over 20 mph.

That set the stage for the rest of the day. There were no bursts that come from sprints, but there was a sustained high cadence that had us blazing through the route. Coming up the toward Darby Road on Meece Bridge Road this was evident. We got in a pace line that started out with Tony pulling us up the first section from the bridge nearly to the normal sprint lanch point. Billy took over from there and pulled us up the incline to the attack zone. He was pulling us at around 18 mph. Then I moved up and once we got within the attack zone we were cruising along at 20+ mph speeds.

This was the story for most of the day. We began to notice that we were averaging 18 mph for the ride. I think it got in Art's and my heads that it would be cool to come home with that average. That would be pretty much impossible because we still had Oakleaf and Nature Trail to cover.

I was feeling good. On the quarry road I set my mind to try to maintain a 15 mph average to the top. I just settled in and looked at the highest point I could see. I didn't think about anything but reaching that point. I made it with gas still left in the tank.

Up to this point I had been riding in my big ring the entire time. I hoped to finish the day in the big ring. Why? I don't know. It was just a challenge I wanted to go for. I was kind of shaking in my boots about Oakleaf!

Turns out Oakleaf wasn't that big of a problem. I was surprised with how easily I made it up - not that it was easier than normal, but then again I don't normally climb it in the big ring.

Nature Trail was next. I thought for sure I would have to shift down on the climb. I tried to find a nice and easy cadence that would take me all the way to the top. It was like rowing a boat. Stroke, stroke, stroke... Ah, there was the top. I glanced back and saw Art coming up to pass me. I knew he was going to want to beat me. I stood and increased my speed to around 15 mph in the last 30 feet. For once I legitimately got Art on Nature Trail! Problem is, it was a "non-sprint" ride, so I guess it really doesn't count :-)

We came on in from there. We had averaged 18 mph up until we reached the Paris Mountain State Park entrance. By the time we finished the two big climbs of the day, that average had dropped to around 17.2 mph. Still, that was about twenty minutes faster than we typically ride on the Hour of Power.

What fun! I don't think it would be too smart to go that hard everytime out during thhe off season, but it sure was fun for that time. Now we'll start behaving ourselves.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

A failed attempt at a PR

Yesterday afternoon I had about two and a half hours to get in a ride. I last rode on December 1st. Of course, I logged a good number of miles on the trainer, but nothing on the road for eight days.

However, I was feeling pretty good so I decided I would try to go for a personal record up Paris Mountain. According to my Garmin the climb is 2.2 miles. If I were to average 11 mph up the climb, I would beat 12 minutes. That was my goal.

I left from home and went straight down East North Street to Pete Hollis. I then turned onto Old Buncombe Road and followed the normal route out of town. It is hard to hold back when you are feeling good. I knew I needed to save myself for the climb, but it felt so good to be back on the bike!

At the base of the mountain I went in pretty hot. My plan was to build a cushion on my average speed and maybe I could hold my own when the going got rough toward the top. The Garmin was reading 18 mph when I hit the attack line.

During the climb up to the water tower, I was in the big ring and averaging 15 mph. The only problem was that I was kinda' busted. Still, I shifted down and kept pushing. The time on my Garmin showed 5' 53" when I reached the halfway point.

At that point I knew I wouldn't make it. Still, I kept plugging away to see what time I would get. My Garmin screen was set to show me the average speed for the lap with large numbers. The number steadily dropped. By the time I reached the wall it was hovering right around 10 mph.

The last mark before the wall is a speed sign. My time at that point was 11' 53". At that moment I knew the final time was going to be over 13'. It was just a matter of how much.

I eased into the climb and when I reached the first driveway, I shifted about two rings harder and stood up. This is when you find out what you are made of! I felt like stopping about halfway up this portion, but just kept pushing it.

Ah, past the last driveway... follow the curve to the left... here comes the last short climb... where is that "You made it!" line painted on the road? Whew, there it is... push, push, push.

13' 25" was the final time. I wasn't too happy until I started thinking about it. First, it is the off season. I'm not nearly in the shape I was in back when I went under 12' 30". Of course, I also had not ridden in a week. All that together and I shouldn't feel to badly.

What a day to ride. When I started out is was 71 degrees and the temperature only dropped to 68 degrees before I got home. It seemed weird to be out in a short sleeve jersey and short riding shorts in the middle of December. Weird... but nice!

My next attempt at a PR on Paris will be different. I plan to start off easy and average 11 mph even when I feel like I can do more. It will be interesting if slow and steady will win the race. I don't know if I could average 11 mph on the wall. I probably could if that was all I was doing! Still, it will be interesting to see if it would beat 13' 25".


Friday, December 07, 2007

I need to get back on it

I guess some people call it depression. It is that feeling that you want to sit and let all the issues, pressures, demands, feelings, etc. wash over you while you just sit motionless waiting for it to pass or sweep you away into nothingness. I've got that feeling.

Don't worry, I'm not clinical or anything. I've been here before and know that it is really just a perception problem. When I stop and consider reality, it doesn't take very long to snap out of it.

It has been a hard week at work. It isn't like I have a physically demanding job or anything, but it can be mentally and emotionally draining. Most of your moments are spent waiting for the other shoe to come down.

It didn't help that I had a real late night on Monday to start everything off. Then the next day I ended up having to take a pertussis vaccine shot and go on antibiotics. No, I did not have whooping cough - I didn't even have symptoms, but I had to take the stuff as a precaution.

So, mentally I am wasted. Physically I am feeling kind of weak because of the medication and stuff. Then I find out I have to have the tie rods and sway bar replaced in my truck - $750 and then an unexpected medical expense comes up for another $750. Right during Christmas time.

Let the waves just keep washing over!

I can't ride tomorrow morning because we are going on a progressive brunch. This is a tradition that started with my wife's family soon after we got married. It is pretty cool, but it means we end up driving all over Greenville - and to Powdersville even - as we stop at all the houses (four in all).

The point is though, I don't want to ride. That is what bothers me. Sure, I've been on the trainer three times this week. I'll get on it again tonight. I just don't have the desire to get up in the morning, pull on all the winter riding gear, and go turn my legs round and round.

Again, it is a perception thing. Fact is, if I were to just do it - get up, get on the bike, and ride - I would probably find it therapeutic. That is how it is with "depression" too. Just get off your butt and stop waiting for everything wash you away. Just get up, pick one challenge, and do it. Most times half the other challenges disappear before you turn your focus to the other ones.

Of course, for me the reality is deeper. I know I have a God who is working behind even these things that I think are harsh. He knows that my comfort is not always what is best for me in the eternal vision. He is working all things to help me become what He wants me to be.

He is good. He is great. He loves me. He has never failed me. He will turned these trials into triumphs if I will look beyond my comfort and see my opportunities for growth in trust and true contentment. I am reminded of a sermon I once preached, "Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is the presence of Christ."

I'm already feeling better. I think I'll go spin for awhile.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Getting closer...

I've added more to the Sunshine Cycle Shop Web site. Now I've gotten through all the looking for brands, marketing speak, and products on the Web. I can start focusing on the main page and the sections I have left.

It's going to be pretty cool. The next page for me to work on is the services page. Then it will be time to have some fun. The plan is to create a page that has all sorts of cycling news, information on the Hour of Power, and forums.

I had some plans for the front page that are changing as I work on the different sections of the site. I'm going to end up doing that design last so that the design is driven by the site and not the other way around.

Check it out at

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Going to have to make a change

No weight training for a few days. I think I might have caused myself some problems. Thankfully it is nothing that can't be corrected.

Saturday after the UWBL ride I was pretty tired, but felt pretty good for the most part. However, later that night I started to feel some pain in my hamstrings - particularly my right hamstring. The pain continued on Sunday.

Sunday evening I got on the trainer in hopes to get the muscles loosened up a bit. That helped along with some massage and heat. Monday night I took a break from exercise entirely. Thankfully, at the moment I'm feeling much better.

So, what's up with the pain? Turns out by doing squats without working on my hamstrings, I was doing something dangerous. These muscle groups work together. By strengthening one set and ignoring the other I stressed my hamstrings during my 64 mile ride because of the increased strength of my quadriceps.

Thursday I'll start the weights again, but I'll start doing some exercises for both muscle groups. I don't think I'll keep it up very much past January. At that time, I plan to turn my attention to converting my - I hope - new found power into riding motion. Then by February I'll be gearing up for the new season.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

That was a 2/3 of a pizza ride

The morning was going great. Since I didn't do the Sunshine ride this morning I got to sleep in a little bit. Right as I was getting ready my boss called me about a news story that broke last night. That call threw me off and I started running out of time.

Thankfully, I still made it just on time. Turns out I didn't have to worry too much because there were so many announcements and people who parked their cars in the wrong place, we didn't actually roll out until 10:20.

There were probably 120 to 150 riders there when we started off. Things were kind of back and forth as we couldn't get any type of rhythm because of the traffic lights. Once we got on highway 20 things opened up.

I quickly learned you can throw the two abreast rule out the window. I was trying to hold to the rule but it meant I kept getting boxed in and because I was so far back in the field it was frustrating. I don't think I have ever used my brakes so much.

Finally, I stopped worrying about the rule and started working my way up toward the front. About ten minutes into the ride I made it up to the top 20 riders. But that changed quickly as riders would stream by on the left and you could find yourself thirty back in minute.

This continued on for most of the ride. There really isn't much to write about. 150 people going down the road at about 20 miles an hour.

I've learned a little bit about myself. I am not a sprinter. I am a climber. If I ever found myself back, I found it very easy to make my way to the front when we came to inclines. One of those climbs put me up in the top ten riders right before the first sprint of the day.

The first problem with the sprint was that I had no idea what we were sprinting for. How long was the sprint? Was it a climbing sprint, downhill, or level? I figured I was going to have to base my decisions on what was happening around me.

I eased back a little and let some riders go around me as we neared the sprint zone. The whistle blew and things shifted into a different gear. All of a sudden we were in a pace line hitting 30 mph. Then two guys in Land Rover kits came around my left. I jumped out of line to join them. I figured they would be working together and maybe I could invite myself into the group.

The Rover guys pulled back into the main line near another Land Rover guy. I pulled in with them. We were moving along at 33 mph at that point. Then I was near the front. Two Rover guys in front of me and one behind. The first guy pulled and then moved over. The second guy pulled and then moved over. It was my turn to pull.

I remembered what John James told me. He said to not increase your speed when you pull and don't pull any longer than anybody else. When the guy in front of me started to pull, I counted how long he lead the line: Ten seconds. To avoid anybody saying I didn't pull my weight I pulled for twelve.

I then moved over for the next guy to do his turn. No one came through. They left me hanging out there. I looked back and saw that the group had busted. I wasn't about to go on by myself. Besides, I had just hit 191 bpm on my heart rate. I knew I was in trouble.

The group reformed and tried to start something up but a guy with legs that looked like oak trees led a group around us and at that point I decided it was time to save some strength for the remaining 30 miles. I have no idea who won the sprint. I was dropped like a hot potato.

At first I wondered if I was going to be able to make it. The group up and left me as I was trying to get my legs back. Thankfully, a guy who had flatted earlier came by and I jumped on his wheel. Another rider joined us and the first rider pulled us back to the group.

Finally, I was starting to feel better. I began to work my way back toward the front of the group. When I was about 20 riders back, the whistle blew again and the sprint started up again. This time I decided not to go to the front.

I just stayed in the group and just rode along. Again, I had no idea where we were going. There was no way to know how to take advantage of anything without information. I was happy that I was able to move up at will. I was glad that was able to recover.

Wow, while in the group, I was hitting the same speeds we had hit earlier - actually peaking at 40 mph. However, my max HR during that period was 172 bpm. I think I learned a little bit about sprinting from this experience.

After that sprint we just took our time back to the start point. I spent 3 hours pedaling. We rode a total of 64 miles. I averaged 20.9 mph hitting a max speed of 41 mph. I averaged 157 bpm and climbed a total of 3,300 feet.

It has been a long time since I have ridden 64 miles. Over all, I was very happy. I was discouraged after that first sprint. However, perhaps most of my troubles are mental rather than physical. The second sprint gave my confidence a little boost. There is no doubt in my mind that I can keep up with those guys - I might not be able to beat them, but I can hang with them.

Afterwards, I was tired and stopped by Little Caesars to get me a pizza. Two-thirds of a pizza and one liter of SunKist soda later, I was feeling good. Overall, I would say that the ride was fun and I'll be doing it again.