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.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Quick turn around

Last night I went out on a night ride for group training before heading out next month on the Challenge to Conquer Cancer rider. We did 44 miles and finished up shortly before 10 PM. By the time I got home and in bed, it was after 11 PM. The morning came early!

Still, I rolled out of bed and got myself ready to head over to Sunshine Cycle Shop for the Hour of Power. Thankfully, I had left my bike and everything in the truck from the night before. Instead of riding my bike over to the shop, I just jumped in the truck to drive.

Right before getting to the truck I realized I had left my water bottles at home. Turning the truck around, I headed home to grab the fluids and rushed back to get to the shop. I arrived to find just a couple of riders waiting.

We waited until about 8 PM and finally decided to roll out. The group was small with Art, Web, Peter, Owen, and myself being the "old-timers." Paul, Anthony, (and I ashamed to say) one more rider whose name I can't recall right now, were the newer riders who have been on some of the more recent rides.

Peter and I led the group out and the speeds picked up right away. We were making a pretty good pace until we reached the sprint up Tanner to Reid School Road. Things didn't slow down much after that! Here is a rundown of the sprint zones....

Tanner: Peter took off and Anthony followed. I followed Anthony's wheel until he brought me up to Peter. Peter launched and I went with him. I was able to push the ol' Tarmac up to the line first.

Meece Bridge: The group riders would know this sprint as the "Pee Tree Sprint." On this one Web and Art made a move a little early coming up to the attack zone. I stayed with them until Peter and Anthony once again moved to the front and started the attack in earnest.

Unfortunately, I had the earlier problem of getting my chain on the big ring. Peter and Anthony had a 20 foot or more gap on me. Still, there was enough road left that I figured if I could get up to them, I could recover a little for a final kick.... and that is exactly what happened. I moved around Peter following Anthony and then pushed to finish ahead of him.

Quarry Road: At the end of the pace line on 290 I found myself in the front turning on the road to take us to the climb. I argued with myself whether to attack or wait. I ended up just holding my position and getting the heart rate down.

Art came around and then Owen. I stayed in the big ring and started a steady pace up. If Art made it, he deserved it. However, in case he fell back, I wanted to be in position.

Owen faded and then there was just Art ahead. I could tell I was starting to gain on him and I was climbing the grade at about 14 mph. Once I got past the false flat, I started moving into the 20 mph range. I realized I had a real chance to beat him.

Closer and closer I moved up to Art. I knew he could see me in his mirror, so there would be no element of surprise. Sure enough, he started reacting. I had to pick up the speed some more, but was able to get around him just in time to cross the line first. Wow, I really didn't expect that!

Fire Hydrants: Art got revenge there. He took off and I didn't even try. Peter did, but didn't catch him. Art passed the first hydrant and then the second. He basically looked like a speck in the distance.

State Park: I had planned to do a lead out on this one. John had told me I needed to do some more of that to work on my sustained speed. Unfortunately, I was at the back of the group and as I moved into the group on the right side, I found myself boxed in with Web to my left and Anthony and Peter in front of me.

We stayed there well past the point where I could have started the lead out. Then the line stretched out and I found myself behind Peter. He looked back and took off. I figured he was planning to do another one of his lead outs.

Ahead of us was Anthony and Web. Peter and I dropped down to the base of the hill. As we did, Peter moved over... sooner than he normally would on a lead out. That moved me forward as we went past the two riders ahead.

I knew Peter was back there, but I simply did not feel like killing myself up the climb. Still, I went into the climb participating in the sprint. Peter was still on my wheel. Then my legs just quit. Yes, I could have ridden through the pain and pushed it, but my guess is the result would have been the same.

"Oh, come on!" Peter encouraged me to race him. I even tried it, but my legs yelled at me louder than Peter. "I can't do it. I can't do it," I told him. I sat up and Art came around me. Peter took the sprint easily with Art in second.

Oak Leaf: I followed Art and Peter up this steep but short climb. I wasn't in the picture for the top though. I'm not even sure who took the climb. From my vantage point suffering behind them, it looked like they reached the top together.

Nature Trail: I recovered somewhat before the stretch of road I hate the most -- Nature Trail. Anthony took off and got a huge gap right off the bat. Then he slowed, but I figured all he had to do at that point was maintain the gap. Peter and I commented on his attack and just kept our pace.

Peter moved away from me and I kept a distance of a few yards behind him. I wondered how my legs would do this time. They did feel better than they did at State Park. Perhaps I could make this work.

Anthony was falling back to us pretty quickly at this point. I moved up closer to Peter and followed him up to Anthony. Then I jumped first leaving Peter and then overtaking Anthony. At that point, that old pain came back. However, this time I decided to ride through it. I just aimed for the manhole cover that marked the end and pushed for the top. Whew, I did it!

Then it was time to head back to the shop. Once there, I started to feel that shakiness that comes from major exertion. Those two rides bookending my night, really wore me out. Tonight I think I will sleep like a baby!


Saturday, September 13, 2008


Today's Hour of Power started out pretty rough and it ended up that way as well. We still made it through the 30 mile ride. The only problem is I didn't have time to eat some cake.

I had thought about skipping out on the ride in order to ride my bicycle up to the Sky Top Apple Orchard. I learned Thursday night that the plan was to celebrate Dave's fortieth birthday. I didn't want to miss that, so I decided to do the morning ride and then decide what to do with the rest of the day afterward.

That seemed like a good idea, so I showed up just before 7:45 AM. If we could get started, then I would have time to get back and go to my kids' music club at 10:30 AM. I might even be able to enjoy a piece of Dave's birthday cake!

Unfortunately, we had a hard time getting everybody together. Owen seemed to have a problem with his bike and Dave the birthday boy didn't show up until late. We didn't get out until ten minutes after eight.

Mentally it messed me up. I realized that would put us getting back at nearly 10:00 AM. That wouldn't give me much time to have cake and get home to clean up for the music club. It was Thing Two's first club and I wanted to be there to see him play the piano. It kind of took the enjoyment out of the ride.

The fact that I planned to ride later in the day also messed with my mind. It caused me to be indecisive during the ride. Sprint or not sprint... climb hard or roll easy... what ends up happening is you don't do anything well!

Going into the first sprint, I was just hanging there about fifth place. I heard John yell from behind, "Car back." So, I moved over to the far right of the road and stayed in place behind the slowly moving line.

Suddenly, John and Tony came flying up beside me on the left. I let them go at first and then jokingly called out, "Cheaters!" Where was the car that was supposed to be back there :-) I changed my mind and went after them.

It took a little work to close the gap, but I got past John and then tried to nip Tony on the line. He looked to his left and I went right. He drifted right and we almost bumped as we crossed the line in pretty much a tie.

My indecision to start the chase cost me. Trying to sprint that early in the ride ended up making my legs feel like lead. Here was hoping I would get the feeling back before Meece Bridge Road.

It came sooner than I wanted. My heart rate was back down and my legs were feeling slightly more loose. The question in my mind was if it would stay that way.

John and a Land Rover rider were going around the riders who had tried to go off the front early. I again hesitated on whether I wanted to give it a try or not. Then I decided to go. I stood and tried to shift to my big ring. My fingers slipped off the lever and I had to fight with it to get in the ring.

By this time there was a good sized gap and Tony came around me. There! I was up to speed and jumped on his wheel. I was kind of hoping he might pull me all the way up to the two riders ahead.

As we got closer and closer to the finish point, I started to wonder if we would make it. So, I went around Tony and tried to bring the two breakaway riders back. Then I realized it wasn't going to happen, so I eased up.

Okay, now I was really feeling used up. I had exerted a lot of energy on those first two sprints. Next up was the quarry road. There we were running a pace line toward the climb. Just as we neared the left turn that would take us to the base, John, the Rover guy, and I were at the front of the line.

I was feeling pretty spent by this point and I eased up a bit while on the front. I felt a hand on my bum pushing me forward. It was John. He wanted us to put the hurt on the riders behind us and push it up the climb. Problem was, I was already hurting!

I kept pushing anyway and entered the climb with Tony. "That's too much work for me," Tony said and then sat up. I tried for a little longer to stay with the two guys up front. Reality set in as they moved away from me. It was time to find my own pace and just ride up.

Art and Tony came around me and I just kept my pace. Rob came around me and I just kept my pace. After a bit, I was able to overtake them and ended up finishing fourth with Art in third. John took it. However, the happy news for me was that I was feeling a lot better.

Because I was feeling better, I decided to do a flyer for the fire hydrant sprint. As we moved down the road toward the left turn that would take us down to the bridge and then up to the hydrant, I moved off the front.

After crossing the bridge, I kept on going and sneaked a peek behind me to see what was going on. I saw one rider between the main group and myself. I wasn't sure how quickly the rider was closing so I pushed it up the hill a little more than I needed to do.

I ended up taking the first hydrant easily. However, there is a second one soon after the first. Had I not worked so hard on the first one, I probably would have had more juice for the second one and Tony wouldn't have pipped me at the line.

The bottom line for these rides is that John is starting to exert his control. You get the impression that he can win any sprint he wants to. I figured that would be the case on the Paris Mountain State Park entrance sprint as well. The only thing was that I thought I would be in the mix.

Turns out I didn't get any chance to participate. At one of the regrouping points before the attacks begin for the entrance, I went down a side road spinning a little to keep my legs ready. When I came back, I could see the group riding off into the distance!

I tried to chase back on, but the whole time I was doing it I knew that it was a fruitless endeavor. Still, I motored past some of the stragglers and was able to see the leaders near the top of the climb as I was entering it. The whole episode seemed indicative of my day. Oh, by the way, John took that one as well.

Yes, John took Nature Trail and I once again was slogging my way to a third place finish. Thankfully, after that last climb, it was time to head to the shop. We all followed Dave up to the Pine Knoll turn and then rolled into the shop just before before 10 AM. I stopped long enough to check out Dave's cake and down a Mountain Dew, and then I was out the door to try to make it to music club.

Hey, Happy Birthday, Dave!


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Leading things out

It's 8 PM and the Hour of Power seems a long way ago. I put in another 50 miles after the ride and have been going nonstop between then and now. Hope it is possible to remember what happened!

When I walked out the door it felt like fall! I almost went back in to get my arm warmers. The cool temperatures would last long, so I just kept pedaling thinking about the ride to come.

I was startled by a rider coming up on my left. It was Scott Taylor. He was just getting back on the bike after being off for two weeks. I figure he was trying to get his legs back for some triathlon. We split company at Holmes park and I rode on to the shop.

Once there I found just about five riders. Of course, I was a little early (for a change), so I was sure some more would show up. They did. By the time we rolled out of the lot there were about fifteen of us.

Just as we were getting ready to turn out of the lot, Bob drove up in his truck. We waited a bit for him and then the majority of the group rode off at a slow pace to wait for him. I turned to go back to keep him company. John turned back as well.

The three of us picked up the pace to catch the group and by the time we reached Pine Knoll, we caught them. Then things settled down to your normal Hour of Power ride. The first part is always the most social section of the ride.

Having not ridden since Tuesday, I wasn't sure how my legs would react. I figured I would make my own pace and if anyone wanted to go after this first sprint to Reid School Road, they could have it. I'd see how things went later.

Chris, a fourteen year-old junior rider, started to go for the marker. Art went after him and then Tony. I can't remember who all ended up at the front of that one, though I think it was Tony who crossed the top first.

The group was a good one. We didn't need to spend a lot of time regrouping, so we started off for the next battle zone. By this time, I was surprised that my legs weren't complaining about the time off. I'd see how things would go on Meece Bridge Road.

Chris was there again and Louis as well as things started ramping up. I moved up as they began to drop back and soon it was just John and I. John had been pulling for quite a bit up to that point. I decided not to contest the sprint and just roll across the line on his wheel.

We were almost there when Tony came around our left. I tried to react and actually made up a bit of ground, but crossed the line with my front wheel up to Tony's crank. He had quietly moved across the gap and got us.

There were some short attacks here or there after that, but the main thing coming up on the ride profile was the quarry road. The last several weeks, John has gone off on flyers and has taken the sprint. I was determined not to let him do it this time.

The group got all strung out as we headed toward the base of the climb. I took it easy jumping from one small group to the other as I worked my way to the front. Art had checked out and my guess was he planned to pull a John. John was behind me.

Then John came around me and I jumped on his wheel. We kept moving up past the riders strung out in front of us and then just as we were nearing the base of the climb, we caught up with Art. I slowed and stuck to his wheel while John was behind me.

Art slowed more and I decided to take matters into my own hands and went around him. I hit the base in the right cadence and planned to take my own pace up the first half and then counter anyone else that might come along.

Chris came along real early and then Louis blasted by. Chris I didn't have a handle on yet. He might make it or might not. My guess was Louis would make it to the first half, but have to recover on the second half.

Then John came around and he was there for business. I had to work to stay up with him, but we soon put Louis behind us. Then it was time to get around Chris. My wheel was gaining on John's when he slowed suddenly because his chain dropped.

It broke his momentum, but it quickly engaged and the two of us got around the younger rider. Then it was just the two of us to try for the top. John was out of the saddle and I knew at that point I was a goner.

As we neared the final slight left turn to the straightaway, John seemed to slow and my momentum carried me around him. I kept pushing it and suddenly felt that feeling in my legs that comes when they first start complaining. Perhaps I could just push through it.

"Ease up," I heard John say. "You've got it," he finished. I'm not sure why he didn't blow my doors off, but I passed the finish line with him right behind me. I was surprised to see my heart rate had barely topped 180 bpm.

We had a little fun at the next sprint zone watching Bob go off the front and put a big gap on us. As we sprint up to a fire hydrant, you can see the whole thing unfold before you. There was Bob starting to slow ever so slightly as he started up the hill. Louis took off after him.

We all started to cheer on the two riders. I thought Bob had it in the bag, but Louis turned on that power of his and was gaining fast. "Go, Bob, Go! Louis' gaining!" we yelled. Bob couldn't react and Louis passed him and kept on going until the next stop sign.

Once again we entered a section of the ride where there is a good amount of pedaling before you reach another one of the major sprint zones. It was a good time for picking up some of the conversations that had started before the heavy duty riding started.

Next up: State Park entrance. As we moved into position, I found myself up front with John. "I'm not sprinting this time," I told him. "I'm going to lead out." He told me to wait until a certain section and then start ramping up the speed slowly. Once we reached the "flats" I should try to get up to 30 mph and hold it until the downhill. At that point, the speeds would increase and I would get out of the way as we started up the climb to the entrance.

My first fear was that I would start off too fast. I almost did, but I heard John behind me telling me to ease up. Then we neared the rolling section and I started to move toward 95% output. I was pulling at the front at 30 to 33 mph. Then we dipped. I'm sure we were passing 40 mph at that point.

Just as we reached the bottom, I almost ran over some people who were along the edge of the road doing some beautification work on a trail at the base of the dam. I don't know who was more startled, them or me! Either way, my work was done. I pulled over and John launched.

It takes a lot longer to get to the top of that thing when you're not sprinting! Plus, leading out is hard work. I was pretty bushed and most of the field passed me before I reached the top. "You must have been leading out that train," Tony said as he rode by.

I don't even remember the Oakleaf climb. I believe it was Art that got to the top first. I was just trying to survive to the top so I could go down. I made it, and now there was just Nature Trail to go before coffee, bananas, and doughnuts.

Chris took off to get a head start up the climb. Another one of the newer riders also took off after him. I followed shaking my head. Couldn't we just ride this one up nice and easy like?

The newer rider dropped back quickly, but Chris was going to give it a go for the win. The guy is going to do well if he keeps it up. He has some physical gifts and seems to want to learn.

Then it was again John and myself trying to chase him down. John seemed determined not to let the whipper snapper take the climb. Thing is, I don't think we would have gotten him had he not slowed near the top. We were only about ten meters from the line when John came around him and only five by the time I got there.

What fun. I think I will start doing more lead outs in the future. It is hard, but at least on the HOP, I feel pretty confident in my ability to sprint. It would be good for me to build up some of the stamina that comes from being that lead out man.

By the way, it was a beautiful morning! It did warm up, but it was really quite comfortable. Fall is just around the corner!