Why we ride

Yesterday I talked about a long training ride I took on Monday. I wanted to talk about a couple of my friends who commented on that ride. Their comments bothered me a little bit. Let me explain.

One of my friends said this: Don’t I feel like a turtle. …

That friend lives in Maryland. We got to know each other when I was living in Maryland working at the Naval Academy. Last year he asked me my opinion on a bike (seems that I have turned into a resource for my friends who don’t bike but are thinking about it). He was looking at a hybrid and wanted to start riding to get into shape. He got a bike and started riding regularly. Then he bought a Trek road bike. He continues to ride pretty regularly.

One of my other friends said this: “Holy crap, dude!

That friend lives in Pennsylvania and I met her when I started riding in the LiveStrong Philly a couple of years ago for Team Fatty. She is a runner (and could grind me into the pavement in shoes) and has started to ride more seriously last summer (she rode her first century ride last summer). Her goal is to ride 3 centuries this summer. She has a nice blog and did a writeup on her group ride this week. On the Book of Face she mentioned me and said that she was “way behind” on her miles. I know her, but part of me still sighed when I read that.

Look, there are lots and lots of reasons to ride a bike. My message is simple: Don’t loose sight of why YOU ride!

It’s supper easy to get caught up in he is faster, or she rides longer, and to forget why you are riding.

I do this too. I see the Strava records of my friends, or read the exploits of one Fat Cyclist. Sometimes that’s good. It helps to motivate, to make me work harder and push just a little bit more. But it can also be a problem.

When we start to think we are “slow” or “weak” or not “good” we forget why we are riding. When we compare we are in danger. We forget what is important. Getting on the bike and spinning the cranks. Going some place. Seeing things. Working towards a goal.

Here is a secret: There will always be someone who is faster than you are, or can go farther. Heck there were 757 people who were faster than me at Leadville last summer. I finished 758th. That’s not something to write home about.

But it is something to write home about. Because I am who I am and I accomplished MY goals.

Work to get to your goals, but be OK with where you are at. That actually makes me happy to see in my friends. I don’t care how far or how fast you ride. Just that you are accomplishing your goals.

See you on the trails or the road. I promise to drop my pace or pick it up as is appropriate so we can ride together for a while.

Author’s Note: This comment from yesterday came from another Friend of Fatty of mine: “Holy Shnikies!” Dude, nothing I said above applies to you. You got Squishy. You have an obligation 😀 .

Long and hard?

Yesterday I did a long ride for my training. It’s been a bit of a struggle to find the time for the ride. Since it’s the end of the semester and so there is a lot going on. I finally could get away for an afternoon to get this one in.

The plan called for a 5 hour ride. It specifically called for a light/moderate mtb ride, but I don’t really have access to something like that at home. So rather than burn out my mtb tires on pavement I took the road bike out for a spin.

Last week I did a 3.5 hour ride, but this was a good bit longer. When I rode my 3.5 hour ride I really tried to push it. Hard on the up’s, tempo on the flats and rest on the downs. It was a good ride and I ended up doing 63 miles with a 18.3 mph average.

Since the ride this week was longer I wasn’t sure what I would have for legs for the entire ride. I didn’t want to crash and burn the last part of the ride. So I really rode more RPE (rider perceived exertion) and tried to keep it in the more conservative “going a long way” effort range.

My course was something of a Tour of St. Lawrence County. Not totally since we have a huge county. But it was a good chunk. The profile look like this:

 

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Up into the mountains, then some rolling riding, then back down to my area.

I did the ride. I rode smart and I felt pretty strong. But truthfully the ride didn’t feel particularly fast. I was a little bit higher than my “forever pace”, but well measured for the length I was riding.

It was a fabulous spring day BTW. There was a moderate wind, but all in all it was a nice day to be out biking. I got back to my house and was at 96 miles. All I was thinking was “should I go 4 more miles just to make it an even 100? You knew you wouldn’t get 100 miles in 5 hours (which would have required a 20 mph average). No, it was a good ride, be happy with it. ” And so I ended when I got to my house.

Then I did what any good biker does these days, I loaded the ride up on Strava and then linked it to my Book of Face account. Then the comments came in……

Don’t I feel like a turtle. …

Nice – big day on the bike!

“Holy Shnikies!”

Holy crap, dude!

A closer look at the record shows that I finished with a 18.6 mph average over the 96 miles. I guess it WAS a pretty good effort after all, faster and longer than the ride that I felt like I went “hard” on. (Ha I just got to write “hard on” 😉 )

Authors Note: I have never done a 5 hour (20 mph) century. It’s one of my bucket list goals. I am going to need some friends for that one. Well that or a good long one way, tail wind, course.

An Open Letter to Jelly Beans

Dear Jelly Beans,

I wanted to start this letter by blasting you for being evil, but somehow I could not bring myself to do that.

Every year about this time, Easter comes rolling along and you appear on the shelves at my local stores. It used to be you came in two kinds, sweet and spicy. And well I could live with that (mostly cause I think the spicy ones are gross). But now you come in so many wonderful flavors. Fruity, sour, sweet. Starburst Jelly Beans, Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans, Sweet Tart Jelly Beans. You are in deed soft squishy little treats. You are the essence of high fructose corn syrup! It’s so easy to grab one or two of you to give that little burst of flavor, to give a little blast of sugary goodness.

Then one or two more. I mean you are just little guys right? Just grab a few when you pass by the Easter basket in the kitchen. You are small right?  There you sit on the counter when I go into my bedroom to grab my phone. Really a small bunch is pretty much the same thing as a few. Low and behold, you are sitting there when I get back from the bedroom too. So small you don’t really count that much right? A handful is OK. You are not empty calories because you are so small you don’t really have calories. Right? RIGHT?????

How can I blast you for just being you?

I appreciate your always being there for me. You sit and wait patiently, just being you.

One thing. Please go away! Please don’t be there when I get home. It’s OK. I won’t feel betrayed.

Thanks

Doug

 

PS. When you go please leave the Sport Beans behind. I know they are your little brother. But I only eat them when I am riding long races. They are the total magic cure for cramping.

That was(n’t) fun……

I get my training plan in two month blocks. I saw today’s workout a couple of weeks ago and it didn’t look pleasant. (First impression was accurate,  it wasn’t pleasant). Here take a look and see what you think about this one:

“Warm up well with 20-30 minutes of spinning and 3-4 x 60-90 second accelerations to Zones 4-5. Follow this with 1 x 40 minute interval building up to Zones 4-5. Within each 40 min interval criss cross from Zone 4 to Zone 5 every 2 minutes. Finish off with easy spinning in Zone 1 only.”

I’ve done workouts like this one before. But they usually read something like:

“1×20 minutes interval building up to zone 4. Within each 20 min interval criss cross from Zone 3 to Zone 4 every 2 minutes.”

They look kind of similar except for two important features. Today was 40 minutes. And it was Zone 4 (just below threshold) to Zone 5 (above threshold) NOT Zone 3 to Zone 4. I’ve not done a interval that hard for that long, well ever. Even last year. I think Drew was getting back at me for something. Not sure what I did though.

Anyway. To add to the “enjoyment” of today’s ride, lets make it cold and damp and windy out! Yeah now we are talking some serious fun.

Off I went. And into the 40 minute criss crosses. Big gears, stand, go hard get the heart rate up. Relax, but not really. Big gears, stand, get the heart rate up. Relax, but not really. Well you get the idea. Then with about 8 minutes left in the 40 minute interval I shifted…. I shifted…. I said, I shifted…… Why didn’t it shift. Hey, why is there so my slack in that cable? Oh huh, how bout that. Cable broke. Now I am stuck in my 53×11. 8 more minutes. I pushed and finished.

Then 30 minutes of cool down riding. And by cool down I mean get cold from the being wet outside in the cold, raw, windy afternoon.

Man I love biking.

(There is clearly something wrong with me…..)

45.008

Saturday was my birthday. I turned 45. I am middle aged. (I mean seriously, I am half way to my next racing division after all. 😉 ) And you know what? It doesn’t bother me.

I had a great weekend with my family and friends. I got to eat some totally scrumptious homemade salted caramel chocolate cake. I got to ride bike bike a little bit. I got to have dinner with my super awesome wife.

I am looking forward to the next 45 years.

Spending time with my family

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My friends

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doug and jenny

Biking

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Biking with my friends!

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Sliding

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doug at nationals

Racing

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And Coaching kids.

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Yeah, it was a good day.

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I declare….

….. MTB season to be officially open in Potsdam!

Wednesday I did a wicked hard workout. 12x 3o second all out intervals. When I was finished, I felt good, not at all blown. Thursday morning was a different matter. When I got to work and climbed up the stairs… Wow. Dead legs. I was glad that Thursday’s workout was: recovery ride 30 minutes, easy.

Over the past 7 days we have lost most of our snow. I decided it was time to go see what kind of condition the trails were in. I figured they were going to be rough and so I would be forced to ride easy on them.

The good news…. The trails had no snow on them. Yeah!

The bad news….. While there was no snow on the trails, there sure was a lot of blown down.

It was a slow ride. I had to pause a couple of times to move trees off the trail. Not the kind of trees you could ride over. The tops of trees. You know with all the little branches. Along with the trees there were a lot of limbs, big ones, small ones. Ones that kick up when you ride over them and impale your legs (yeah, first blood drawn!) or stick into the drive train of your bike (no damage to the bike).

It was also one of the best rides I have had in a long time.

Ghetto Conversion

Most mountain bikers ride with tubeless tires. Taking the tube out of your tire tends to reduced the number of pinch flats you get and allows you to run a lower tire pressures. That’s nice because you have more tire in contact with the ground and you tend to get better traction when you are riding.

The drawback to tuebless tires is that you have to have a tire/rim combination that seals so that the air cannot escape (I still hear Dory’s voice with that word “Escape’ “). That means you need to have special rim tape that seals the spoke holes in the rim and most often you need to add a liquid sealant to the tire to get a good seal. The sealant also has the added benefit of sealing up punctures (also reducing the number of flat tires you might encounter).

I have two sets of rims for my mountain bike. One are made for tubless tires (Stan’s ZT Arch) and the others are made for tubed tires (Easton XC700). And when I got this bike I set the tubeless rims up with tubeless tires. But over the winter I wanted to make the tube rims tubeless.

Stan’s has been the “industry leader” in doing tubeless set-ups. They make a conversion kit that has all the pieces you need in it to do the conversion. But it’s kind of expensive, and being a tinkerer I wondered if you could do this on your own. Turn’s out you can.

If you use “the Google” and do a search you will find that people have come up with what they call “Ghetto” conversions.

Here is what you need:

Rim Tape…. well you can go and buy precut special rim tape to do that job. OR you can get yourself some Gorilla Tape. Gorilla Tape is like supper duct tape. Think Jeremiah Bishop versus me. I am pretty good, Jeremiah Bishop is so much better. As a bonus Gorilla tape comes in some precut widths. 1″ being one of those. Down to the local hardware store. One roll will last a lifetime (or can be used for other things and so is a multi-tasking purchase).

rim_tape-1

Sealant…. Stan’s sealant is a mixture of natural latex and some stuff to keep it liquid (latex wants to dry out, that’s why it makes a good sealant). They also put some other stuff in there to plug holes. But essentially it’s latex. When you go to the Google you will find recipes for homemade Stans. It is made up of 1 part latex molding liquid, 1 part green tire slime and 2 parts RV antifreeze (the stuff you would winterize the water system of an RV with). The molding liquid is the latex, the green slime helps to seal and has the little particles in it, and the RV antifreeze keeps the mixture from drying out. The molding liquid is the expensive part of this mixture. I used this stuff, because it was recommended, but there may be other options out there. Even given the expense on the molding latex, this was about 1/3 the cost of buying Stans.

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Tubless Valves…. Here I bought official valves. I suspect that you could take a valve from an old tube and cut it out to use. But  they were not too expensive, so a splurged.

So I mixed up the sealant, taped the rims and installed the valves.

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The hardest part of the process was getting the tires to seat on the rims. The real problem with the rims not intended for tubeless tires is that there is a lot of space between the tire and rim. When you place a tube in there the air is contained by the tube which inflates and pushes the tire bead into the rim. With the tubeless set-up you need to have enough of a seal, and enough airflow to get the tire to seat so you can fill it up all the way.

That was tricky. I ended up painting a little bit of the sealant onto the rims and letting it dry just a little bit. That made the rim sticky. I was able to get enough of a seal that I could inflate the tires. I put them up to 60 psi. The sealant then comes out the little places that are not well sealed and like magic you get a tubeless rim/tire.

Once it set for a while I dropped the pressure down to 22 psi for riding.

The tires are holding air just fine. I’ve ridden them a little bit on dirt road without any problems. The trails should be cleared of snow today and so I am going to ride some singletrack for the first time this season tonight. Excited to see how the new tires (Kenda Honeybadgers) and the tubless conversion work.

Yeah, I could have taken my tires to the LBS to get this done. But it was a fun little project.