Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ceaselessly Calibrate

We held our first CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Madness in March tournament match this morning after a 60 minute spin session. Wisely, none of the four riding the first heat did the 60 minutes as a warm up. Because, by design they aren't warm ups, they are the real deal. We go hard, attempting to maximize our brief allotment of pre-dawn time. Even on a Leap Day. I had everything pre-set and ready to go, or so I thought. The ten mile event was conducted and ran smooth. Until I pulled up the report and took a look at the data. Seemed one of the riders (the last finisher) rode the entire race with a rolling resistance of way less than the others. .46 to 2.70 to be exact. Nobody said anything but I knew the results were affected by this set up error. Adding additional concern was the fact that I went through the standard calibration process with precision and attention. The unit in question was calibrated properly. And then something happened. Rendering everything after of debatable validity.

I suppose considering how things have been going of late that I shouldn't be surprised by this. In the big picture, it is meaningless. In the smaller picture it is everything. People make sacrifices to get to the club and race. They expect it to represent their concept of enjoyment, value, fun, social interaction, competition, and fairness. In a word, it is about the experience. It is my job to ensure that they receive value greater than the cost. Much greater. One of my early mentors insisted that we, "under-sell and over-produce". I want everyone to walk out of that room feeling like Lance after a Tour win. Needless to say, I was not pleased with the morning's results.

We came up with a solution and will make amends. I have done the research and will troubleshoot the fix this afternoon. Through that process, I kept seeing parallels and metaphors (this happens to me a lot). Finally, the dots were connected and I set forth to journal their path.

The issue was resistance. There was an insufficient amount. It was too easy. There is no way to generate power, force or inertia with nothing to press against. One simply spins as fast and as hard as they can and that is it. No room for growth. No challenge. You are Max. Apply the proper resistance and it's a whole new ballgame. You are tested and encouraged to become stronger and more efficient. You have physics, as reality, to use as an ally. There is mass. There is energy. Somewhere in there is the velocity of light squared I am quite sure. All of this meaning?

That we are only as strong as the force and resistance we set. Want it easy? Stay in your comfort zone. Set your calibration low. Don't challenge yourself. Create a series of default excuses and avoid work, sweat and anything out of the mainstream.

However, if you desire change, improvement, growth and an endless series of tests to ensure your positive adaptation in the intrepid search for self, dial up your resistance setting and calibrate for challenge.

Resistance is stress. Stress is good. As soon as you see it as such, it is no longer stressful. You have passed THAT test.

Or, ceaselessly calibrate.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's no secret

I'll admit it. I like commentary. I like metaphor and I like opinion and analysis. I like listening to smart people talk and happy people sing. I like positives. I am a sucker for motivational messages and inspirational activities. I was reminded of that this morning as we executed a series of high output sprints, climbs and sweet-spot pushes. The groove was on and the watts were high. There is nothing like an hour of training in the darkness of a late winter morning. We agreed to the positive.

Thirty-two grams of protein and two mugs of Italian roast later we set sail for the day's adventure. There is lots to do. I need to dial it up. The first day of spring is in three weeks. We have already completed the first event on our seasonal schedule. It is here and it is now. I have no complaints or remorse. We are on schedule. With the exception of my still recovering hamstrings and vastus lateralis, the winter has been productive. My power is up, weight steady. If the phone rings in twenty seconds inviting a race this weekend, I would accept, gladly and eagerly. Is there room for improvement? Is it perfect? Maxed? Yes, no and no. And that is OK. We are on schedule. I remain highly motivated.

The commentary I reference is to the ways and means that we accomplish our objectives, achieve our goals and aspire to the betterment of our protocols. You know, the have fun while doing it idea. We used to call it healthy life-style choices. At the elite level of triathlon it is known as living the dream. I mentioned this morning that I would love to have one massage per week. The Pros get one a day. You have to earn this wonderful soreness. If you don't work, and work hard, you never get the complete physical satisfaction of feeling your muscles in the state of repair. That is the growth process and while it takes a few times to get accustomd to the ache, after a while you go in search of it. It is a empirical reminder of the nature of adaptation. With rest and recovery your body will repair itself stronger and ready for more.

This is a big part of training. For racing purposes we don't train for stasis. We don't do this to burn calories and manage stress. We do this to induce failure, breakdown muscle fiber and expand oxygen delivery systems in order to push the agenda of adaptation and growth. To get stronger and develop additional power. When I am in training I don't care about cholesterol, heart rate, blood pressure, immune systems or anything other than doing what is necessary to improve my power to weight ratio. All of those are included in the latter by default (thankfully).

It is interesting to witness others go through this extraordinary process. Because the same methodology is used for each. If you want optimal health and fitness, make some (several) health life-style choices, show up regularly, and work your butt of. And that is no metaphor.

There is the secret. Now you know. One day (and probably soon) there will be a Pay-Pal hyperlink between me telling you the secret and insisting that you become a "Platinum Level" VBAer ($9.95 might get me back in the good graces of my former bank) and having access to it. There I will share the same stuff, with detail. You already know what it is. So, please,

Do it.

Here is some great stuff for the cycling data heads. And here is a detailed white paper on many important aspects of cycle training. Upon reading both, you may have some take-away commentary. An opinion or two. Please share your secrets and have a great day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stage Three Right

The fact is that 24 should be enough hours in every day to get the necessary things done. We are currently conducting yet another scientific inquiry as to why it most always seems that they are not. In the think tank this morning we came up with some options:

1) File for a daily expansion to 26.5 hours.

2) Up the CPU on all machines.

3) Hire additional staff to do the menial chores.

4) Talk faster.

5) Quit eating and sleeping.

6) Quit riding and running.

7) Quit reading, writing and art of any kind.

8) Decipher the special relativity theory and apply.

9) Work harder and longer.

10) Prioritize and work smarter.

Once the think tank, also known as the writers, finished their session with the next episode's outline established (there will be no blood, no chase scene, no gratuitous sex, no-one on the gay-dar, no fights and no heist), option ten was hailed as the winner. Dull, boring, conservative, button-down, wing-tip, white picket fence, buckle-down, fare piu e spendi meno, Giacomo. Italian for, make more and spend less, Jimmy-Boy. And with this I have no problem, because i will tackle it in my own fast and furious, take no prisoners, put all ya got into it, work like the Devil and hymn with the Angels, they'll never take me alive kind of inspired way. The lamp burns. You may want to stand back a few paces, because it is going to get HOT in here. SMOKIN' hot.

That all starts today. We're off. No more mister nice guy. Somebody pissed me off and the fuse has been lit. This is personal AND business. For the sake of clarification, the purp I am quite sure, has never been to the RCVman blog, so you are all safe. For now. The details of the next episode may very well find this as a prefect forum. Won't THAT be fun!!!

But we have other ears to husk. Most timely is the start of our CompuTrainer Multi-Rider @ BAC Indoor Cycling Tournament. Kicks off Wednesday at 0700. I think it will be more fun than a barrel of primates. Secondly is the fun stuff down the line as we scheme and plan our spring and summer events. Like this little gem-stone:

Tour of California Ride:

We plan on driving (even at $4/gal) from Seattle to San Jose on Sunday and Monday, May 13 & 14. And then following the ToC and riding parts of the stages either before or after the peloton. Schedules look like this:

Stage 3, May 15, San Jose to Livermore, 115 miles,

Stage 4, May 16, Sonora to Clovis, 130 miles

Stage 5, May 17, Bakersfield TT, 18.5 miles

Here are some other pertinent mileage distances:

Seattle to San Jose, 841miles

Livermore to Sonora, 72 miles

Bakersfield to Santa Barbara, 147 miles

Santa Barbara to Sacramento, 378 miles

Sacramento to Seattle, 752 miles

We'll camp in (near) San Jose

Sonoma (Gate to Yosemite)



I am going regardless. If Eight Track drives Big Red we have room for two more. Bikes included. Splitting gas, food, camping, etc. means we can get this week-long camping, cycling, media gathering vacation-adventure done seriously on the cheap. Which is the way that I need to do it because of the pompous, arrogant and insensitive way that my (former) bank treated me last week. Opps, that cat just escaped its bag. It exits Stage Right at a high rate of speed with our intrepid protagonist in hot pursuit, not the speed of light mind you, but fast enough.

I trust.

Pix: Garry and Yasuyo, training like fine wine this morning. There will be a few bottles of vino as tournament prizes. Not these ones, however.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

This means YOU

Cruised the 33 of the 40th Chilly Hilly on Trixie in a little over 2. I did NOT make it up Arrow Point (Devils Dip). Had to do the slug and lug the final 50 meters at the crest. Otherwise it was a controlled and smooth sail. I was on the fence for start time but as soon as I noticed a patch of blue this morning at 0720, things came together pretty quick. It was a great day for the ride with zero rain, no wind and single flake snow at the finish. Almost the exact weather opposite of last year. I even had time to go to the end of the road and help direct traffic for a couple of hours. I have these comments on the day:

  • No matter the event nature, please ride to the right except to pass. Gentlemen from Oregon on the black Cannondale with your seat two inches too high, this means YOU.

  • Drivers, when there are 2,000 bikers on the road, PLEASE indicate your intentions to turn via use of your turn signals with as much advance notice as appropriate. Driver of the Cadillac Escalade with the McCain/Palin bumper sticker, this means YOU.

  • Never, ever, admonish a volunteer for something that happened earlier in the day. I got yelled at because the Battle Point Chili Stop moved to another part of the park (this three years ago). Retired and battle-weary gentleman with the yellow rain jacket and scowl, this means YOU.

  • Smile till it hurts. Thank the folks assisting. Ride safe. Have fun. Thanks for the day. Everyone else, THIS MEANS YOU!

Pix: From my volunteer station at Frey/Battle Point. Dr., coming and going.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vaya con Dios

A couple of quick Saturday afternoon notes. This morning's 90 minutes in the HoM, to the accompaniment of the the 33 miles of Chilly Hilly filmed by the RCVman crew WAY BACK in 2009, was designed to test. That old easy/hard thingy. We did non-stop four minute standing climbs with a 60 second up-tempo recovery for the duration. I then guaranteed that anyone riding our little local 33 tomorrow will call it easy in comparison. A money back guarantee at that!!!

Announced just prior to the first climb was the exciting news that Alaska Airlines is providing two Space A tickets to anywhere they fly as prizes for the wining team in next months Madness in March Indoor Cycling Tournament. Ladies and gentlemen of the VBA and HoM, let it be known that this means business. I am quite confident that my FTP just went up several watts, as well as the same for my partner. Whomever draws us in the first round (ahem, Bernie & Stephanie) had better make their plans for coming out of the losers bracket, 'cause as of today, we (Team Six) will no longer be taking prisoners. BIG thanks to Garry O for his part in the prizes. I am continuing the hunting and gathering of additional prizes and will announce as they are formalized. Stay tuned, stay ready and stay hungry.

Lastly today, I took a rare opportunity to have my troubled hamstrings professionally massaged after class. Yes, they are still tender, but the main culprit was identified, through process of elimination that was both relaxing and rejuvenating, to be my left vestus laterals. Liz found a knot in there about the size of a burrito and managed to kneed it into submission with a grim determination and relentless resolve. I can honestly tell you that I sit here typing feeling like a new man of la mancha. Gracias, senora.

And dreaming of Mexico (see Alaska Mexico flights here) I am putting the wraps to The Crossing, second novella in McCarthy's Border Trilogy. Here he describes supper with a blind man and the protagonist. As preface, I admire art in many forms. I like the well crafted hut as much as I admire the pentatonic scale in D-Minor. Crimson on canvas, soft back-lighting, the perfectly executed off-tackle dive, the turn of a phrase, the perfect race. I could go on, but wanted to share with you a passage that comes as close to perfection as I have read in a while. I am going to leave you with it, and go about my preparations for tomorrow's ride.

"There were no eyes in his sockets and the lids were pinched shut so that he wore a constant look of painful selfabsorption. As if old errors preoccupied him."

Enjoy the weekend amigos y amigas, vaya con Dios, and pass the beans por favor.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Life is Risk

"Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Emerson.

I once worked with a tremendously talented artist. He was the guy who painted those huge outdoor murals on buildings that you can see from miles away. He was bohemian, intense and passionate about his work. His sole criteria for accepting work, and his mission statement, was this: "It has to have meaning." We once sold some downtown wall space to Nike during their Shaq phase. It was a big job and we we're happy to be partnering with one of the most recognizable names (brands) in the world. We naturally turned to James for the production work. He said, politely, no thanks and gave us the contact info of one of his apprentices who could, he assured us, do the job just as well, and a whole lot cheaper.

Seems James had some personal issues with American conglomerates exploiting Third World labor to pimp $100 shoes to inner city kids. We tried to talk some sense into him, the old consensus morality and sustainable commerce propaganda pitch, but he wasn't buying, his passion sleeved like a neon chevron.

I always think about James when my mojo runs low. He would climb a skyscraper with a paintbrush in his teeth to paint a message in which he believed. Likewise there wasn't enough gold in Ft. Knox to get him involved with a meaningless gig.

Several times yesterday I though about this. It seemed to be an topic running through my day, a recurring theme, abstract and demanding of my attention. Something big enough that I needed to get to the other side of the koan, establish some sort of physical, emotional and intellectually balanced understanding. Some common ground or temporary consent. Where is the meaning? What is the meaning? Why the unrest and consternation? What part of THIS puzzle am I missing?

As the day progressed, it became apparent that I was again flirting with gray-tones. This wasn't another binary issue, neither black or white. I considered pain, suffering, love, loss, attachment, freedom, purpose, design, challenge, effort, happiness, reward, failure, cost, ego, respect, humor, gratitude, momentum, inspiration, motivation, value and art. I looked for the meaning of each, an inquiry towards inertia. I closed my eyes to see clearer the path with heart.

And found this: I want to live freely, with enthusiasm and vibrancy, an active participant in the discovery of meaning. And that starts with me. The meaning of me. These daily challenges are nothing but ways to materialize this, make it tangible, something to touch. There will be suffering. Suffering caused by attachment. I never had ownership of it and never will. It is a meteor shower of joy. The highest, greatest, grandest most dangerous and exciting show to date. But its tents have been packed and I am left with the sad ticket stub of memory. If there is to be growth this process must come and go. The biggest issue we face as a society today is that of the comfort zone. There is no growth in easy. It has to be ridiculously hard. Impossible. Outrageous. It has to have meaning. It must contain love. It has to show yourself to you. We must respond with enthusiasm, gumption, passion and joy. We must move towards this glowing light of change. Relentlessly. The meaning is life. And I want all of it and I want all of it all the time. That includes now. Now being the what and the where.

When you do a thing, as Ralph suggests in his quote above, put everything you have into it. Find a way then, to add some more. Maybe that means duration. Maybe that means repetition, maybe that means patience in practice. Maybe that means abstinence. If that thing is physical, use it as a bridge. Make it the bridge of mindfulness. Use it to cross into the soul of beauty and truth. There is power there. Don't let it go. The path of least resistance is the path with least potential.

I think we can practice passion and refine our meaning. Start now, today. Look at what you are doing. If it isn't jam packed with passion and meaning, quit it. Just walk away. Stop, cease and desist. Ask your body, your mind and your soul where the meaning is and what provides the spark of passion. And then move towards it. Move towards life. Say yes. Shout it out. Embrace. Share. Support.

The meaning is passion. Ralph Waldo was right, James was right. And you are right. Life is risk.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The inch

I get this question all the time, and as I have a wee break between sessions today, perhaps it is a good time to jump in and offer some detail.

The question is what is the difference between spinning and training with the CompuTrainer?

It is a good question. I think it is important to determine what your goals are before selecting the indoor cycling format that best meets your needs and aspirations. After that it is pretty much a matter of preference.

Spin Classes are conducted in a group, across the fitness spectrum, choreographed to music with the explicit goal to get in a workout through the incendiary consumption of calories in aerobic zones as gauged by rate of perceived exertion. Class instructors can vary as much as checkers at the supermarket. It is often considered a sign of success if there lies a pool of sweat beneath the spin bike post session. Many times the music is too loud, the bikes in need of repair and the instructor on thin emotional ice. You take your chances and hope for the best. More ride than train.

CompuTrainer is an electronic cycle ergometer that allows you to use the precise fit and special geometry of your bike to train with power. The CT measures all data that you produce. The CT is the polar extreme of RPE, as all data is accurately measured in real time as your perform. One does not need the motivation of a snarling drill sergeant to produce enough wattage to climb a 7% grade. You either do or you don't. As a result of this advanced technology, accurate and valuable data can be measured and managed to effectively create a fitter and faster cyclist, in the shortest amount of time. More train than ride.

Here is the cheat sheet:

Spin Class Pros:

Anyone can spin regardless of skill level.

Great social interaction and motivation (accountability)

Usually fairly economical.

Easily accessible.

No bike, gear, expensive equipment necessary.

There are some outstanding spin instructors out there.

Good workout.

Better than watching Leave it to Beaver reruns.

Spin Class Cons:

Bikes are always a challenge for proper fit and optimum operation condition.

Fixed hours aren't always at ideal times of day.

RPE is, well, your perception of the work, extremely unscientific.

No standards.

There are some very poor instructors out there.

If any data at all, it is inaccurate, misleading and inconsistent.

The music can seriously suck.

CompuTrainer Pros:

Will make you faster.

Using your bike, fitted and race/ride specific.

Data is accurate, real time, peak and average.

Data is stored for later reference and to set training values.

Available 24/7.

Maximum use of your training time.

Removes the RPE in favor of wattage.

Coach, or self, replaces instructor.

Also available in Multi-Rider format, adding race and social applications.

CompuTrainer Cons:

Start-up costs. $1,600, plus computer, big screen, dedicated bike, home space.

Learning curve.

Accountability is solely on you.

Please allow me to executive summarize for you.

If you are looking for a fun, group oriented, easy to use, socially engaging indoor cycling work-out primarily for weight control and or quality of life issues, by all means find a spin class near you and check it out. Most gyms these days offer some type of studio cycling, call and ask. Ride and burn. Here is ours.

If you are already an experienced cyclist looking to enhance your skill set trough the use of power, have time constraints, are targeting a specific event or want to add speed, strength and endurance to your profile, use a CompuTrainer. Train and Race.

If you want to do all of the above in a group setting, riding, racing, testing and training find a CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Center near you and get stared. Here is the Domestic and International listing from RacerMate and here is what we offer at the BAC.

Hope that helped muddy the water. If you need additional information or have questions. comments or suggestions, I am glad to assist.

For the record I agree with everything coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino) says in his famous "Inch by Inch" speech from Any Given Sunday. You can get motivation from a coach or instructor, or from power and humility.

For the record, I do both.

Pix: Tony (Al) delivers his motivational address to the troops. Bernie shows his dedication on the CompuTrainer training solo as the spin bikes sit idle.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tour Dates

Tolerance of fatigue

Champions can suffer. Yes, they are talented but that makes nothing easier – simply faster. Talent is an overused term, often confused with dedication, perseverance and obsession. Every Champion I know trains ridiculously hard. Even former Champions. Some Champions become former because their tolerance to pain dilutes- with age, waning enthusiasm or with memory. When you win a World Championship you are training insanely. Jodie Swallow from The

Which, of course, got me to thinking. I'll be in Santa Barbara on May 18, so why not roll with the big boys for a few days prior as the 2012 Tour of California winds its way south from The Bay Area to Hollywood? I have a little history with this event, I know the area well, and we had already blocked the time, so why the heck not? On paper it looks like we could do three stages:

Tuesday, May 15, San Jose 115 miles to Livermore.

Wednesday, May 16, Sonora 115 to Clovis, and

Thursday, May 17, Bakersfield, 18 mile TT.

That could be some insane training. As well as some nice video packages to ride to come fall. I am still deciding on how to orchestrate, ride with the helmet cam morning of, film the day prior, or tail the event. If we could put together a small group we could rent a car, ride two juicy hours of the best parts of the course ahead (or behind) the peloton, and be at the finish line for the sprint. The TT is easy. RT from Sea to SJ is $190 and a car is $180. Three cheap rooms in SJ, Sonora and Bakersfield is $150. Add $150 for food, gas, misc. and we are GTG (good-to-go) for $700. OR….

Drive the 850 miles from Seattle to SJ in 15 hours, have the rig (and bikes) save the air fare and car rental and we (three) are GTG for $450


Three days riding with the Tour of California (I will have media credentials) in Sunny CA, hanging with the big dogs for less than the price of an iPhone?

Yo gang, let's book this one. We're talking about dedication, perseverance, obsession and major league fun. Thanks to Jodie Swallow, Chrissie Wellington and Clo C for the inspiration.

Pic: The ToC sprints into Big Bear in 2010 with a huge tolerance for fatigue.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Focus on the Glow

"The higher the power up the hill and on the flat terrain, the greater the rider’s performance. The same can be said of speed. Only power and speed are directly related to performance. Heart rate and RPE tell us nothing about performance—they simply reflect what the rider is experiencing. But when compared with power, heart rate and RPE also tell us something about the rider’s fitness. When power is high and heart rate and RPE relatively low compared with previous rides on that same hill, we know that the athlete is fitter and faster."

Joe directly address' several key points in this one powerful paragraph. Read it again and then here in the complete context. I am particularly interested in this topic today as I am, by these same standards, officially off the disabled list (DL) and back in action. I hope. Yes, there were a few twinges this morning as we rode a series of progressive climbs in preparation for Sunday's 33 Hilly miles, but overall the hamstrings felt as good today as they have in the three weeks since initial trauma. Meaning, that the work/rest combination between then and now has created the muscular adaptation required for power increases. Which just so happens to be the key point of this article from road biker on the mysterious reasons causing cramping. Muscular fatigue, bio-chemical imbalance, compensational stress, weakness. Take your pick.


If I can get through the next three days with the same positive trending, I will FTP re-test on an established course with controlled variables and measure the difference. If that three weeks of healing provides even a ten watt increase, I will hoist a micro-brew in celebration. Because that will also coincide with the 2012 termination of my self imposed no-beer and no-glutens February test. I will tell you right now, that the glutens are the hard part. Eating gluten free bread is like eating concrete. The stuff barely qualifies as bread. I could easily use a loaf in place of a brick if the completion of the PO depended on it. Nasty. The best way I have found to tolerate so far is to saturate it in whatever sauce, juice or gravy I happen to be using with the main course. Yuk is putting it mildly. I can get over the beer thing. That is easy, but now I fully understand the "give us this day…our daily bread" stanza.

Lastly today, here is an outstanding overview of Chrissie Wellington's new book, where she talks about the importance of training the mind BEFORE the body. Powerful stuff.

So there you have it here on Fat Tuesday. Power is fitter and faster. Fatigue fosters failure. Adaptation is the goal. Prayer is good and mInd over matter. Focus on the glow.

Carry on.

Pic: Chrissie at the turn in Hawi last October in an RCVman photo. She was hurting BIG TIME and still managed to keep her glow, as goal, in perfect focus. Something I need to get better at, as both athlete and photographer.

Monday, February 20, 2012

This Day

Every day is special.

We get to crawl from slumber and try it again. Whatever the it happens to be. I respond to imagery of the clean slate. A fresh start. The past erased. Make today what you want. Color it. Throw some texture to it. Shade it. Frame it. Roll with it. Add some love.

And then inspect it, critique it and look for ways to make it better. Sure, it's all a little easier when the weather cooperates or we enjoy the security of a fat savings account, but easy isn't always the path to success. Nor is it the road to fulfillment. Easy has nothing to do with happy. Name me something of value that came to you easy. Quick.

Your career?

Your significant other?

Your fitness?

Your humility?

Your awareness?

Your success'?

None of the above most likely applies to you as it certainly does to me. The terms fight, scratch and kick come immediately to mind. Sometimes I think we start wars just so we have something concrete with which to test ourselves. To make it real. Courage can be hard to find sometimes. Teamwork? Sacrifice? Drama? Meaning? Discipline? It cuts to the chase in a hurry when somebody else's prime motivation is to take you down. Every day becomes real special under these conditions. And how.

I think back to when I was first getting started in endurance sports. The years have dulled the mental images somewhat, but the emotions remain vibrant and pure. I remember the finish line of my first marathon as if it were yesterday. Same with my virgin Ironman. It is a completely different space, the presence of peace, completion, satisfaction and gratitude. Absolute physical and mental exhaustion. I find it hard to complete coherent sentences, almost a goo-goo-gaa-gaa. These are special moments. But the ones standing the clearest in my mind are the moments just prior to the start. A thousand questions fly and flutter in the consciousness cyclone; Am I ready? Have I trained hard enough, long enough, smart enough? Am I rested, topped off and hydrated? Is my gear all in perfect working condition? Is my head clear? Am I confident and in control? And on.

Am I thankful for being here? THIS moment, this race, this day? Am I ready to accept the challenge and face the fear of the coming unknown? Can I maintain my focus for 140.6 miles? Can I keep it in the present moment over the course of the next 10 hours, 45 minutes and 46 seconds, one at a time, in the flow, finding strength in the fluid efficiency of rhythmic repetition? Stroke, breathe, rotate, drink, strike, relax.

Today the testing continues. Yesterday was a hard one, having to pull out at mile 75 of the scheduled 112 with leg cramps. The ice, the massage, the Shiraz, the doubt, the too little recovery time are all testing me. It was a sleepless night, a cramp here, two there. I wish I could take a week off and heel up, but duty calls. There will be more change as we face some tough decisions this week and next. Some form of routine will again emerge and create a structure with which to explore and experiment. Every day is special. Every day has a personal, intimate, golden message silently and patiently waiting. Waiting for me to see. To hear. To accept. To defer to or learn from.

I inspect my slate and find it already half full. This isn't going to be easy, so much left to do. Mine fields everywhere. I remember standing ankle deep in a cold river ten minutes before the start of my first Ironman. Take all these random thoughts and isolate the priorities. See them and execute. You can fight, you can scratch and you can kick. But it might be easier and therefore BETTER to relax, expand and be the flow. It is going to be a long day, enjoy the ride. This one and every one. Cramps or no.

Because every day is special.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Where's the ice?

Quick note on which to cap the week. Today was IMCII, our second of the scheduled once-a-month rides on the CT of all 112 Penticton miles. A month ago we used the CT Multi-Rider format and today we upgraded to the (world famous) Ironman Canada Real Course Video. We were joined at the start by Garry and Stuart, both of whom needed to leave early due to prior commitments. In our initial ride I posted a 6:02 and Bob a 6:50. Today was a different story. This will happen. I had to throw in the blue towel at mile 75 due to severe cramping in both my legs. Strategy being that I don't need to blow up in February with the main event still six months away (reality being that both wheels were about to fall off and hurt like you know what). As you might expect, this is a difficult pill for me to swallow, but down the pill went and after a protein smoothie, a hot shower and three cups of coffee, I felt about the same as I did the morning after I wrapped a VW around a power pole. Bob, on that other hand, shredded the course, upping his average wattage by 20 and shaving a whopping 28 minutes off his prior time. Afterwards he commented that his secret today was going out slower, with more controlled wattage and with patience. You might want to cut and paste that for future use.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by today to support our effort. Cindy brought some delicious fruit wraps, Ace brought his smile, Tony his camera and Rick hung around almost all day sharing stories from his 1987 race.

In closing, because I have another foam roller session scheduled after another ice treatment and dinner that I prepared last night (baked curried tofu with onions and potatoes), I would like to congratulate Bob on his magnificent training ride. You take almost 30 minutes off a PR, and you are headed in the right direction. It is a true joy to watch and participate in the process of one of our club-mates making such dramatic improvement.

Now, where's that ice?

Pix: Bob hammers away at the CT RCV IMC course. Rick did this awesome event way back in 1987, and has the T and cap as proof. All I have is sore wheels.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Every sonata includes rests

A few Saturday updates.

Yesterday was an off-day. That included here. As perhaps you may have noticed. I took the entire day to rest and recover, to give my frail and painfully tight hamstrings a rare opportunity to relax and rebuild stronger. Here is the detail of my workouts from yesterday: Swimming 0, biking: 0, running: 0, Yoga: 0, weights: 0. I did eat and I did shop. I took a nap on the couch by the fire and went to bed at a ridiculously early hour. While on the couch I listened to Chopin and in bed I read McCarthy. When I awoke this morning I felt like Doc Holiday, ready to rock and roll. Ye-spurs-a-jangling-haw.

The tech shopping included a few items sure to raise smiles in the HoM. First are the new vertical bike racks to improve floor space and practice good house keeping. Second is the new matching big screen so we can now display data AND video almost larger than life. I hope to have the upgrades up by next week, prior to the start of Madness in March.

For which, as a relevant segue, the brackets will be posted Monday. All 22 group members will be included in the bracketing. I will determine the HoM mean FTP number and match teams as close to that average as possible. One person will be appointed team captain because scheduling for this is going to be a legitimate nightmare. We will be "lenient" in allowing substitutes. I will have the prizes lined up by next week. They will be cool. If anyone knows someone who might like to contribute to the event in exchange for all this LA-like traffic and NY-like promotion, please let me know. As an example, I would really like to see this become the ALASKA AIRLINES Madness in March Indoor Cycling Tournament at the Bainbridge Athletic Club. Let me worry about how to fit all that on a T-shirt!

Tomorrow we have a full house as we ride all 112 miles of the Ironman Canada bike course. Start time is 0930. Our second assault at this will include the official CompuTrainer Real Course Video, automatically changing grade in perfect sync with the video. If you were ever in doubt as to how I earned my blog handle, blog d' plume, this is about as titular as it gets.

Lastly, next Saturday, the day before Chilly Hilly (when you should be in taper) we will show the CH video shot three years ago during the 90 minute spin. Just to prime the pump. Riders that day were, among others, long time VBAers Ace, Bernie, Stephanie, Vicky, Mike and Tony. And yes, weather permitting, I will be filming again next Sunday as well as riding. As we say in this business, the helmet cam is always on.

Rest day is over. Back to work.

Pix: A scene lifted from the IMC RCV shoot in 2008 of Yellow Lake. Sometimes you feel somewhat less than a super hero at this juncture. The 2009 Chilly Hilly DVD covers, front and back.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Madness in March Cycling Tournament

Here's how it works:

A double elimination indoor cycling tournament the entire month of March. Mixed (one male & one female) two-person teams as seeded by individual Functional Threshold Power (FTP) testing, go head to head with other two-person teams on custom designed ten mile courses until the final four are determined. A one heat fifteen mile championship race will then determine the CompuTrainer Multi-Rider at the Bainbridge Athletic Club Champions. In order to enter you must take either the 20 or 60 minute FTP tests. Testing is ongoing with deadline of February 29. First round action will take place Thursday, March 1. Teams will be selected the evening of Feb 29 using the FTP averages to handicap the entire field as closely as possible*. Team scoring is tabulated in real time by the CompuTrainer software creating a fun and challenging experience. The final four will receive valuable prizes. To enter, simply respond to the Madness in March CompuTrainer Multi-Rider @ BAC Facebook event tab. There is no entry fee, but you must have a valid CT MR @ BAC Race Card.

* A hypothetical example of seeding:

Individual FTP in parenthesis. FTP team total in <<>>

TEAM ONE: Lance (355) and Louise (090) <<222>> versus

TEAM TWO: George (200) and Gina (245) <<222>>

TEAM THREE: Ivan (157) and Ingrid (190) <<173>> versus

TEAM FOUR: Carlos (168) and Connie (177) <<172>>

Pix: Laura joins the group with a 165. Two-person team format in action.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


We got to talking about this last night. The importance of being ourselves. Celebrating our uniqueness' and accepting the comprising realities of who we are. One of the few absolutes is the fact that nobody is perfect. Everyone is flawed. We have strong suites and weakness'. We own Achilles heels and find chinks in armour. Soft spots and rough edges. We error. Often and flagrantly. Our jails operate at maximum capacity, a fact that makes the Ramada folks cringe. Still, we move foreword, hopping to learn a little something this go-round. We look at options. Try harder, seek advice, relax.

The comparisons are easy. I would rather be me than most of the knuckleheads on the home page of this mornings on-line newspaper. I would rather be me than the stars on the front page of that ridiculous tabloid at checkout. I would rather me be than Cobain, Hendrix, Garcia, Morrison, Houston or Prefontaine. James Dean even. There is no question that I would rather deal with my trivial personal issues than those of Mr. Obama. I don't have to worry about protecting my property, carrying maximum coverage, managing an offshore account or amortizing assets over ten years. I am not stressed because the stock market reacted to volatilities in the Gulf. My happiness is not dependent on the weather. My Levi's cost $4 at Goodwill. I would be a Zen monk, merrily weeding a row of onions with a wood rake if I didn't like training and racing so much. I believe that meat is murder. I am a tree hugger. Mean people suck. If you are a neo-con and see me as part of the problem, relax, I will not harm you.

Like I said I am flawed. I make more mistakes by noon than most people make in a week. By all statistical accounts, I live in poverty. The irony of this is hilarious. We laughed to tears last night as we examined my money to happiness ratio. It is totally off the carts. I am a glutton for happiness. Greedy for the grin. I want them all, all the time. I want them now. Deep, honest and robust.

All this is not to say that I don't recognize the importance of a stack of dimes. I do. Good food is expensive. I LOVE to travel and gas prices remain a tribute to our united foolishness. My last race entry-fee was $550. I would like a new training bike, to save wear and tear on Phoenix Red, my recycled, rebuilt, reclaimed racing bike. I could pray all day long and the answer would still be, "If you earn it it will show." It's on me. Nobody is going to hand it to me on a silver platter. If I am smart enough, connected enough, energetic enough and good enough, an opportunity will knock.

Today I plan on practicing my smartness and connectedness. Using this unique and odd combination of energies and talents to push the agenda. Much like I did yesterday. And the day before that. I will practice being me. Cause I can't be anybody else. I suppose I could practice playing my guitar like Jimi or Jerry, running like Pre or acting like Mr. Dean, but that misses the bull's eye. Only they could be them. And only YOU can be YOU.

And only I can be me. Which is probably a good thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blue Skies

Never saw the sun shinin' so bright

Never saw things goin' so right

Noticing the days hurrying by

When you're in love, my how they fly*

Amid all our work, the stress, the chaos and the distractions, it helps to remember what we are really about. And why we're here. As much as it pains me to admit, we are not here simply to see who is the fastest on a bike over 40K. That is merely one piece of the cosmic puzzle that comprises the bigger picture. Sure, it involves effort, focus, passion and skill, but you know as well as I that it isn't everything. Neither is setting a PR at the marathon, winning your AG, lowering your cholesterol or winning the battle of losing weight.

Love is what it's about, why were here and where it's at. Without it we are reduced to a waring and wandering tribe lost in search of distraction and immediate ego gratification.

Love your work. Work your love. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Love your enemy. Love everybody.

Nothin' but Blue Skies from now on.

Happy Valentine's Day.

*Lyrics by Irving Berlin. I've always liked the Willie Nelson version.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Heart Week (knock-knock)

“But who can say what's best? That's why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.”

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Heart week continues. We again talked this morning about the complexities and dynamics that envelop our improvement. Specifically, the need for adequate rest and recovery between sessions. Let us be brutally frank, we are not kids anymore. The stopwatch we once used to measure recovery has been replaced by a calendar. It takes time. It is the flip side of the same coin, heads the work phase and tails the rest. If your yang outdoes the yin, you are out of balance. What was once sweet now tastes sour and your body knows this, valiantly trying to deal with the imbalance as best it can. Asking for more oxygenated blood, more cooling additives, additional muscle fiber, hyper extension of joints and ligaments, endorphin, dopamine, testosterone, adrenaline and cortisone. With that mix the result 99 times of 100 is injury, aka, your bodies' way of telling you to slow down when your brain is busy with mathematics, economics or sociology. The Cliff Notes version looks look this:


And there is faith involved. We all have red letter dates on that timing calendar. We want to be ready. That is why we spend so much of our precious time in training. You have to believe that the recovery phase is actually when the miracles take place. That is when you get stronger. The work, the struggle, the cellular breakdown as a result of intensity, duration, frequency or volume is the easy part. The hard work is allowing your efforts to positively manifest as a better, faster, stronger, healthier and fitter you as the result of the rest phase. And I realize that this runs counter to our beliefs that more is better. It isn't. Everyone who has ever seriously made the commitment to improve, to get faster, lighter, more efficient, last longer, achieve, has come face to face with this fact. It is kind of a paradoxical knock-knock joke. You have to push. You have to work. You have to get outside your comfort zone and you have to hurt some. But when you get to that door, exhausted, beat-up, weary from the road, when the voice inside asks, 'Who's there?', you need to answer correctly.

Take a day. Get a massage. Walk in the park. Pamper yourself. Do nothing. Meditate. Go to a movie. Have a pizza. Have a beer with your pizza. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, do all of the above with your lover. Celebrate the happiness we have created. Share it. Pass it along. Post it.

Experience this happiness in the uniqueness of the miraculous moment in which we find ourselves together. Work hard, rest and recover, find the balance by listening. Like the coin, one side is art, the other science.

It's kinda like the beer example. I heart beer, but sometimes I abstain. This, for several reasons. I can guarantee that the next ale I quaff in two weeks will taste mighty fine. My faith in the training process predicts that my next race will be of high quality.

'That balance thing, who?'

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Heart Week

Having a "free" hour this morning, I sat pondering a subject. One of the latest projects involves the design and authoring of (yet another) branding mission statement. I always like this process. Isolating quiet time, letting go, listening, interpreting, developing, perfecting. You know when you have it right. It resonates like a major C from a baby grand, rippling an outward decay in harmony and tone, pushing joyously in search of agreement. The obsidian stone is the brand, the relentless ripple the hook and the calm (or chaotic) blue water the market. Polish the stone, drop in water and chart the distance the radials expand.

This imagery, of course, immediately took over and before I realized the flow I was back to thinking of how it mirrors life, or more specifically, our training. Polishing the stone. Putting the results of our practice into play, measuring and managing towards improvement and growth. Seems it always comes back to that, back to the 'Happiness First' idea.

I decided to jot down a few of the things that make me happy in order to validate, re affirm and remind me that this is, indeed, the direction originally intended for the outward ripple flow. Additionally, I wanted to list those things that I wanted to do TODAY to push this playful agenda. Here is what I ended up with as my Sunday Before Valentines Day Happiness To-Do List (SBVDHTDL):

1) Exercise. I suppose a 90 minute indoor ride and a 90 minute trail run will be adequate, although I might get a counterpoint from either my coach, PT, or partners. As a footnote, I see that Mr. Armstrong and I might race together one day soon. I'll try not to embarrass either of us.

2) Invent. Last night was a celebration. In the culinary lab, I whipped up not one, but TWO first-evers. I baked a batch of pinole with chia oil, and I mixed and pressed homemade white corn tortillas into what became the wraps for some rather tasty veggie-chili. I think I can improve both.

3) Appreciate art. I am back to Cormac McCarthy. Nobody this side of Bukowski writes more sanitary sentences. Watched a doc directed by my old pal and former pro cyclist, Jamie Paolinetti about the American Championships. Read all the lyrics from the latest Pretenders album. One day I will write, direct and score a cycling film about the importance of struggle. Today I will create something that will contribute to that long term goal.

4) Hold the door open to allow me to be me.

5) Make my home more comfortable to others and my work more comfortable (profitable?) to me.

6) Do another (or two) of those semi-random acts of kindness.

7) Say I Love You with as much sincerity as I am capable of generating.

8) Ponder again the philosophical, religious and spiritual paradox in successfully coping with the vicissitudes of this amazing journey.

9) Listen to the wind.

10) Be the stone, the water, the ripple.

That should keep me in Happiness until tomorrow. When we will find another ten. Most likely of similar theme. Quite OK, I think.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Is it March yet?

Opal Adham Shaikh & Catherine Potter

Stuff You Gotta Watch The Band

Never Is Enough Barenaked Ladies

Sloop John B The Beach Boys

Do You Believe In Love Huey Lewis & The News

Rain King Counting Crows

Bullet the Blue Sky U2

Strange Brew Cream

Drive In Drive Out Dave Matthews Band

Any Time At All The Beatles

Take Me to the Pilot Elton John

Son Of A Preacher Man Dusty Springfield

Good Day in Hell Eagles

Don't Bring Me Down Eric Burdon & The Animals

Hot Blooded Foreigner

The Great Curve Talking Heads

Cause=Time Broken Social Scene

I Need To Know Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Change Would Do You Good Sheryl Crow

Lay Down O.A.R.

Like a Hurricane Neil Young

Moondance Van Morrison

Oh, Lonesome Me Kentucky Headhunters

Hammer Down Cross Canadian Ragweed

This morning's set list. 90 minutes worth in the House of Mirth (HoM). I referenced a few items that most likely need further explanation and/or additional information.

Those are these:


The Athiest Professor.

Harder the work the Longer the recovery.

Struggle for Growth.


Six Feet Under.

Listen to your body.

And lastly an update. We are now ten days into the annual no-beer February. For the sake of envelope pushing, I added no-glutens to the mix this year. In the ten days since this gruesome test of willpower began, after class this morning my weight was at 154. A whopping 16 ounces under race weight. And this despite the fact that running has been shelved due to the hamstring pull. Interesting what a thousand fewer calories a day can do.

I am pretty grumpy though and I can't wait for March.