Thursday, May 31, 2012

Great Love



"Where there is great love, there are always miracles." Willa Cather

Somewhere down that line, you made a choice. You were deeply engrossed in whatever activity held your attention, in a zen-like state of flow, with a laser focus. Time ceased to rule, space was infinite and your heart was open to the magic and mystery of the cosmos. You, were, as we used to say, "into it". 

You know what happened next: (and if not you should try to remember) You created something. A crisp paragraph, a three chord progression with a snappy little hook turn, an element of design, a combination of colors, a synergy of spices, a connection to a child, the answer to an equation, a personal best at the local 10K.

There was great love in that moment. It was you being you. The best you. There was no ego and no fixation on outcome. You were not competing for the admiration of parents or acceptance of society. You were free to sail the ship of your soul in the direction of your highest joy. There was no guilt and no stress. There was no failure. As pure energy you embraced the dazzling light of spirit and dialed the vibration to max. More power, more freedom, more love than you ever thought possible. 

What happened next? We crashed. We were distracted by the mundane, by a artificial, manipulative and corrupt, totalitarian call to normality. Oh yeah, we said, time to get back to work. Time to conform. Time to get in line. Time to trade our energy and soul for plastic trinkets. Time to obey. 

And poof! The magic disappeared. 

Yesterday I mentioned in class, that this (spinning) activity is a powerful opportunity for us to reconnect to our bodies. The miracle of our bodies. Lost in a scary, despotic, binary world of virtual aggression and endless search for profit. Our bodies are the one thing we can control. And there is even some argument there, so let's render it even further: Our thoughts are the one thing we can control. Naturally, our thoughts create our actions. Hence it makes sense to refine and focus our consciousness on positive, happy, loving and empathetic themes in order to have them manifest as action by our arms and legs. 

Those great loving thoughts act like steroids, motivating, powering, fueling our movement through time and space. The flow. Unlimited high octane, non polluting and self sustaining. It is you being you. Making the choice to expand. Loving beyond convention. Faster than ever, in complete control and in tune to the vibratory frequency of life.

Make the choice. Love greatly. 

Miracles await. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mt. Diablo Vid



First of several videos from our Tour of California pilgrimage. We'll ride and watch in the morning. Please remember that by clicking on the title, upper left, you go directly to the RCVman YouTube site for full 16:9 HD viewing, as well as access to another 180 videos.

The Final Stop



Have you ever considered what happens when we stop? Not just slow down or back-off, but stop altogether. Quit. Cease and desist. 

In keeping with the holistic metaphorical theme of the blog, you should quickly understand that I mean stop in the context of both training, racing and life. When we stop training we lose. We lose fitness, we lose vitality, we lose flow, we lose self esteem and we put growth on hold. If we do this long enough, our eventual demise is assured much quicker, and with much less quality, than had we pushed courageously onward. When we stop racing we lose the thrill, joy, camaraderie, value, drama, excitement, meaning and energy that only the heat of battle can bring. And when we stop in life?

We die. We have stopped. There is nothing left. No movement. No heartbeat and no pulse. There is no electrical current to the brain and no life. The final stop. End of the line. 

Let's be real here. This is going to happen to us all. There is no escape. One day each of us will arrive at the final stop. The termination of this trip. The end of the journey and the closing of the chapter. 

I think it is our individual responsibility to make the adventure as full of value, as exciting and enriching as we can. To keep moving as long as we can, as fast as we can, with as much joie de vivre as we can muster. Sure we all slow down, this is the aging process, it is natural, we lose range of motion and flexibility, we endure diminishing muscle mass and loss of bone density. It takes longer to warm up and we tire easier. I recognize all these because they have happened to me. I have wrinkles, a few scars and gray hair. I have been on this train a while. I know the conductor well.

But I ain't gonna stop. I ain't gonna spend the rest of my tenure on the couch or in the station. I ain't gonna slow down either. Not no how, not no way. 

I had this thought the other day as my legs were screaming with lactic acid induced pain and agony:

IF THERE'S NO MOTION,
IT'S THE WRONG NOTION. 

Keep moving my friends. Run when you're tired, ride when inspired. That train is going to reach the final stop soon enough, let's grab some gusto on the way. All aboard. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TBT




Driving (should have been riding) into town this morning for our 0630 spin class, I heard on NPR some very sobering stats. Scary and sobering stats. 

One in six Americans is uninsured.
That equates to 50.7 million people.
Health care insurance for a family of four costs an average of $20,720 per year.
An MRI will set you back anywhere from $350-3,500.
A cat scan from $675 - $3,016.
Extended emergency treatment anywhere from free - $50,000.
Some companies are now asking HUGE deductibles and and/or enrollment fees.

My thoughts were, as usual, first reactive (how dare they?) to conspiratorial (Cheney got a new heart with an existing condition on a government plan), to proactive (what can we/I do?).

And that is the departure point in today's feature post. Risking ridicule by bloviating upon the glaringly obvious, there is a lot we can do. Today. Now.

With the standard disclaimer that if you bank in the high sixes, all these inflated, exploitative, absurd, corrupt costs probably matter little. Kinda like gas at $4.76 a gallon. If I am driving a paid for Z3, I most likely don't care. But for those one in six Americans, the combination of high transportation costs, food and insurance in devastating. On a daily basis I am surprised that we have as yet to organize into full on rebellion. The answer to that one, I believe, is that we are too lazy and to distracted - but that is another post altogether).

Disclaimer claimed, here are the BIG THREE once again (cue the DJ scratchin'):

Get off your lazy ass and move your fat.
Eat more fruit and veggies and less processed crap.
Find some balance in managing your self-induced stress.

That is a good start. We spend hours each day breaking down the big three into manageable and definable parts. To improve. To reduce. To up our QOL. To manage addictions. To be a plus vice a minus. To serve others. To be part of the solution. 

It is true that you or I could be the fittest, healthiest and most balanced person on Earth and get squashed like a bug by a garbage truck on a ride to the club. I will take that chance. One additional element that adherence to TBT (the big three) provides is the confidence in living with no fear. Oh, oh, (conspiracy theory again) could it be that the folks at .gov and .org are devious enough to actually WANT you fat and fearful? 

There is profit in fat and fear. Big fat profit by the truckload. 

Save your money and take personal responsibility for staying fit. And away from those garbage trucks. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

The fourth brick


In the books.

THREE BRICKS.

B1: Saturday, 5K run/90 minute HIT Spin/5K run
B2: Sunday, 10 mile run, 20 mile bike
B3: Monday, 33 mile bike, 13.1 mile run

If one stacks bricks high enough, the sky is the limit (but check with your building department for local codes). 

Some thoughts while bricklaying over the last three days:

T1: It's SUPPOSED to be hard.
T2: The "i" is ego, the "want" is desire. Keep just the happiness. 
T3: Running reconnects us to the organic, the natural. There is nothing binary. 

Happy Memorial Day. Remember the soldiers and their bravery. Do not glorify war. Brick and thought number four. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A place for if, for and and for your butt


Most of the time when I refer to the place to sit it is in reference to a saddle. Affixed to a seat tube, as fulcrum point to stabilize the core and create horsepower through the act of applying pressure to the pedals, and hence instigating impetus in the form of movement. Or, in the case our our indoor training, ye ol' sit & spin. Eliminate the movement without the sacrifice of horsepower. The seat. When comfort is needed. Let's be honest, it takes a while to get used to. Uncomfortable saddles are the number two reason why folks quit before their second spinning session. It is bad enough being a pain in the legs and lungs without it also being a pain in the neck and…..

Somebody asked me the other day, while we were intrepidly spinning out a pair of 20's at 85% of ftp and watching vintage standard definition triathlon footage compiled in a kaleidoscopic and farraginous mash-up of sight and sound, if riding a bike in a Speedo hurt. You get used to it I said, smiling with the remembrance of the indoctrination endured to achieve that transcendental state. But it does save you time in transition, I finished, hoping for redemption. Usually in long course racing the pain in your legs, back, neck and lungs overshadow the minor discomfort of chafing or having your bottom rubbing on a tiny slice of leather at the rate of 100 times per minute for 112 miles. But you have to work your way up to it. Very much like gloves. It takes a few blisters before the callous begins. 

When you find a comfortable saddle that allows maximum performance, use it. Just like your favorite chair at home. You know what to expect after a long day at the office. Sit and relax. It supports and it satisfies. Allows you the freedom to address the task du jour, be that reading a magazine or hammering up a 10% grade. I still have some saddles laying around from bikes that no longer exist. I can't seem to toss them out, even today using a custom version on one of our indoor Keiser spinners (this because spin bikes come stock with saddles to fit the average American butt, about ten times too big).

When seemingly at odds, there is sweet satisfaction is using both, a good saddle on the bike and a comfortable chair when you rest, recover and work at your desk. If you can manage your ratio to about 1:1, one ride per day and one hour in your favorite chair, you should be fine. Trouble sets in when the ratio nears the norm of about 1:24. 

Training update for those of you keeping score: Today was our second of three brick days. Yesterday was a nice run/spin/run, 25min run to BAC/90 minute HIT spin/30 minute run back. Today we hammered out a ten mile run at 7:45 pace followed by a 20 mile ride and tomorrow is the coup de grace, all 33 monster miles of Chilly Hilly followed by all 13.1 equally mean miles of the Toe Jam old course. I plan on starting at 0730 from the Tree House if you are up for all or any, one or both. 

If not please enjoy both the remainder of this day and Memorial Day tomorrow. Like a chair. Use only as directed, and that means only when fatigued from sitting in the saddle. 

Pic: Bottom: A 105 gram $650 carbon saddle. Top: Pat asked me to haul away Frankie's collection of 1950's chairs. I put them on the deck and sat to watch the sunset and enjoy the late afternoon warmth. I am not sure, but I might have felt a presence from people who once occupied them. It was very peaceful and they were all smiling. I proposed a toast and we raised our glasses. 

To life we all said, to life, with no ifs. 



Friday, May 25, 2012

Respect the Journey




Of course he wanted to win. Those who saw him compete and those who competed against him were never in any doubt how much he wanted to win. But how he won mattered to him more. Pre thought I was a hard case. But he finally got it through my head that the real purpose of running isn't to win a race. It's to test to the limits of the human heart. That he did... Nobody did it more often. Bob Bowerman on Steve Pretontaine

Champions keep playing until they get it right 
Billie Jean King

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit
Aristotle

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year,
but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.
If I quit, however, it lasts forever
Lance Armstrong

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself
Galileo

The fast track sometimes is the slowest route. These things take time and patience is way more than simply another virtue. Unless you were blessed with phenomenal DNA, sooner or later the fact that physical adaptation is a process will create an option for you. 

Accept or deny. If you accept this premise, you are in for the long haul. Better make it something you enjoy, anticipate, cherish and nurture. In some circles it it known as a healthy lifestyle. In others it is a fitness culture. In still others it is life itself, containing all the challenge, joy, meaning and discovery of self necessary for balanced and harmonious tenure. If you deny, please be prepared to spend some cabbage on therapy, NSAIDS and netflicks. The latter because instead of running, biking or swimming you will, because of injury or burnout, spend time that could be used in the pursuit of your goals, watching movies and eating popcorn.

The patience necessary in building a solid aerobic foundation will get you further, faster than an out-of-control, hell-bent-for-leather, mad dash at breakneck speed, guaranteed.

Take a close look at the above quotes. They are all singing the same song. Work hard, be patient, practice, endure, succeed. 

Some cool links: On nutrition for running. On what makes a great coach. On ageless training. On finding a good triathlon coach. On there being no speed limit to learning. On endurance

I will add a few licks of my own: Be aware of change. Have the attitude of gratitude. Do more than you think you can. Challenge convention. Go, do, see, feel. Ride hard, run long, rest and repeat. 

Respect the journey and enjoy the ride. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Gaman Rub


Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) 

Laugh, and the world laughs with you: 
Weep, and you weep alone; 
For the sad old earth 
Must borrow its mirth, 
It has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer; 
Sigh, it is lost on the air; 
The echoes bound 
To a joyful sound, 
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you; 
Grieve, and they turn and go; 
They want full measure 
Of all your pleasure, 
But they do not want your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many; 
Be sad, and you lose them all; 
There are none to decline 
Your nectared wine, 
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded; 
Fast, and the world goes by; 
Succeed and give, 
And it helps you live, 
But it cannot help you die.

There is room in the halls of pleasure 
For a long and lordly train; 
But one by one 
We must all file on 
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

We were talking about this yesterday. The seeming phenomenon of like attracting like. How positive people effect others. The rub. Goodness, kindness, happiness, generosity, and how they can rub-off on you. In the hope of becoming what we admire. As we dove deeper into the concept, I began to recall vivid examples from recent experience. There have been many and as I tried to select an appropriate few, the flip side emerged as equally relevant. 

Is there something that I do, that we do, that has the potential or capability to inspire, to rub? If so, what specifically is it, the single trait that best summarizes? 

Over the past several days I have witnessed honest and dramatic displays of:

Courage
Dignity
Grace under Fire
Love
Dedication
Friendship
Loyalty
Compassion
Honor and devotion
Wisdom
Strength
Power
Awe
Humility
Oneness

Amongst others not so lofty. Such is diversity. 

As we traded stories, thoughts and feelings, I kept wondering if there was somebody out there that has been the recipient of anything positive that I embody. I carefully considered the possibility and decided that I needed more work. That my rubability is a work in progress and that many of my manifestations of thought are a bit, shall we say,  raw. After all in the last few days I was (semi-seriously) accused of being BOTH narcissistic and hedonistic. Not exactly the rub we're after here. 

Gaman and konjou are two Japanese terms, both with Buddhist lineage, that relate to perseverance. Of going the distance. The wiki definition of gaman comes pretty close to the one rub I would like to be able to apply. 

"enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity".
If ever there was a single phrase that sums up training and racing long course triathlon, this one is that. But, as always, it is also more than that. Give it some thought. Maybe it fits somehow into our unique circumstance. Remember, this is all an experiment of one. 
Hang with positive people. Pay attention. Laugh. Sing. Rejoice.
Through the narrow aisles of pain we endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.
Let it rub.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We're Number ONE!



Having just returned from a dollop of delicious days in California and Oregon, I feel qualified to comment on the most recent ranking by the fine folks at Bicycle Friendly America. In their latest state-by-state ranking of best biking states, we came out on top. Washington was ranked number one. Normally this would be cause for celebration as it has been many years since we were ranked above our southern neighbors in almost anything.  If this was college football I would be bouncing off the moon. But it ain't. And I don't think we deserve it. True, we have come a long ways, but we have a long ways yet to go, and I honestly feel that the home of the Ducks, Beavers, Trojans and Bruins (and Bears and Cardinal) more completely fill my personal criteria of biking friendly states than does the hale and hearty home of the Huskies. OK, and Cougs, too.

Until we can match the majesty of the recently completed Amgen Tour of California, connect our coast seamlessly the way Oregon does, provide an inland 80 mile bike path, throw the book at distracted motorists and promote cycling better, we don't deserve the lofty ranking. Sorry.  Our own tiny municipality is perfect example of opportunity lost. A two year, billion dollar overhaul of downtown infrastructure left us worse off than before, cyclists still jockeying motorists for position, visibility and safety. All we got was a few stenciled icons tagging the street to announce that we are supposed to ride here, heading in the proper direction. OH REALLY? This alone is worth one of those 'code red' rectangles in the charts. 

I suppose I should be happy. After all we were ranked ahead of the above mentioned rival PAC 12 states, and WAY, WAY above traditional college football powerhouses like Alabama, Texas (where CompuTrainer and IM Texas are featured in this video from CBS) and Florida. 

Guess you get to decide what is important and what is not. Hint: In the good ol' days I used to ride my little Fuji Thrill to Husky Stadium to watch the Dawgs pommel the Ducks and Trojans. 

Some things change faster than others. Please be patient and ride safe. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roll Credits



We have to share the cycling love. On our final leg of the 2,000 mile Tour of California odyssey this morning, in a quaint town in Southern Oregon called Canyonville, I received an e-mail from Justin Kowalczyk of the Pure Energy Cycling Team in New Jersey. Justin had asked very politely and very professionally a few weeks ago if he could borrow some of the footage we shot at the Tour of Battenkill two years ago. I said sure have at it, just send me a link to the final cut so I can spread it around for you. That is the way I like to get things done. After our delicious (and huge) country breakfast I slapped on the cans and took a peak. This is really good folks. I think the piece tells a concise story of the team, the individuals, the motivation and gets the passion and drama about as close to gold as you can get without taking the usual 'over-the-top' route. Here it is, see for yourself why we enjoy all this cycling (and video) stuff so much. 

It's back to business as usual tomorrow. 0530 spin and another round of FTP testing. I might even test again tomorrow night to see what ten days on the road has done to my functional threshold power. Bernie asked me what would happen if it went up and I replied that would indicate the value of rest and recovery. He then asked if I thought it might and I said probably not but we'll never know sitting here (in traffic) talking about it. Let's go and find out. 

Congratulations to Justin for a fine piece of video, thanks to Bernie for his companionship for ten long days and we'll see ya'll in the House of Mirth rainy and early. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Salute!

In the almost 1500 posts since the inception of this rambling soliloquy, I have tried on many an occasion to tie unlikely occurrences together, trying to find the knot of connectivity or the bowline of juxtaposition. There have been a few where I thought the threads were interesting, and just as many that were plain folly. I apologize for the foolishness (my attempt at brevity) and beg your forgiveness for the near misses, when with a touch more grace and/or skill I could have twisted up something a little more elegant, entertaining or inspiring.

But.

As in most things that come my way, I believe that persistence, practice and patience will eventually provide improved performance. I think that is important. This is no exception. The more verbiage that finds its way to this page, the better the chances that they will be strung together with something other than cheap twine.

So we post ever onward, today, trying to find some commonality between triathlon training and racing, CompuTrainer Real Course Video, and the location (and predicament) in which I currently find myself, sitting high on beach cliff overlooking the majestic expanse of Big Blue, the Pacific Ocean.

As the fantastic wedding reception was winding down last night, I had a chance to chat with my favorite niece's husband, best man, firefighter, and father of five, soon to be seven. His toast was filled with love, admiration, wisdom and hope. And I told him I thought it was fabulous. We talked, exchanged some anecdotal stories and I again complemented him on his toast, his last few words delivered on the verge of tears. I said what made it resonate was its heart, the place from where the message came.

It had truth, meaning, sincerity, love and compassion. And everyone felt it.

Truth, meaning, sincerity and compassion. And the knot is tied.

Salute!

Pic: Kevin has Darren's back.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Big Day




Saturday in Santa Barbara. Just off the beach after a terrific 45 minute beach run at sunrise. I think you have read it here once or twice in the past, but I love running barefoot. Which is, come to think, the equivalent of riding fixed. Something about cutting all the extras, the unnecessary, trimming the fat, leaving the organic and pure. It is the heart of the matter and I enjoy it immensely. It was most refreshing to stride it out after a TWO day rest. Thursday was the Bakersfield TT and yesterday was all video work, leaving me the rare R&R op. And guess what? It was needed, and even though I went through 'down metabolic' phase, feeling slug-like and slothful, it was a necessary rebuilding time. Patience indeed is a virtue.

Off to shoot video of the groom and company in preparation. The bride's party were up and at it very early today, actually making the first pot of coffee, something usually assigned to me.

The big day is upon us. Have to run and gun. Later.

Pix: The Lynch Bros (Chris, myself, Michael). Minstrels Chris and Joey. No doubt who the start will be today (Aileen). My run track this morning. All good.

Friday, May 18, 2012

New campsite

At work. Wedding. Santa Barbara, CA. Wish you were here. This is my campsite for a few days. Bernie has Trixie so I am running on the beach. Life is good.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BTT





Not many of us know what 50mph in 90+ degree heat on a bike feels like. I sure don't. Those were just two of the many components challenging today's 118 riders in the Stage Five ToC Time Trial. Then there was the 18.4 (official) miles, a touch of wind and a maybe a million dollars in prize and sponsorship money on the line.

We started the day out on the course a good five hours before the Pros, filming for what should be a great RCV. I filmed while my pals rode. I will have my day in the sun, no worries. After the shoot and the initial post it was back out for start, finish and highlight video and whatever stills I could manage. As each footstrike became progressively stickier in the afternoon sun, I wondered, with all the digital technology today how many shots were taken. I know I contributed to the total in a humble way.

As I type this David Zabriske has the TT lead but Peter Sagan, the race leader and final TT starter of the day has just now hit the turn at the half and is on pace for a record run. We have to push it down the road for Santa Barbara, a good three hours southwest, so it's over and out from Bakersfield.

Tomorrow is another day.

Bakersfield


Bakersfield is now the in the US top ten. Bigger than the Big Easy and the Steel City. NINE! And today we unleash Stage Five, the indi Time Trial, 18.3 miles of hot, windy, dusty and dramatic trial of truth miles. The Amgen Tour of California, now in its seventh year, is again rocking the casbah! We got an early start and did the RCV course preview, shot some set-up vid and toured the expo/caravan. Bernie, Ken, Harry and a gaggle of others were out on the course early testing their winter training programs. Today there is no hiding. No drafting, no sitting in with the big dogs. It is just YOU and the 18.3 miles. Courage my friends, we all suffer, just go! 

And off we go back out to the dusty streets of Bakersfield, the same streets walked in the boots of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and today, tour leader Peter Sagan. He might feel a little like Billy the Kid today. Everybody is gunnin' for him and the gold (as in yellow jersey).

Pix: CompuTrainer is well represented at the Unitled Healthcare booth at the expo. The final climb to the finish.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WED @ ToC12






Wednesday morning, sunrise, Tuttletown State Rec Area. A few minutes after campfire coffee on way to Stage Four. Having met up with Ken and Harry we'll break it up into two KOM stages today, keeping well ahead of the pack. Should go for about 60 miles of interesting climbing and a ton of spectacular video. Finish from Sonora is in Clovis, 130 miles from where we not sit and sip. I am going to try to get to the media center in Clovis as the guys are sluggin' out the final few miles and post later today, otherwise, contact will be sparse today as the shadow of Yosemite casts a long and silent blanket over wireless communication.

We will press onward, weather has been perfect, today should get smoking' out there, there is nary a cumulus in the blue sky at 0650. Time to rock. Andiamo.

Pix: Bernie (with Bonny Doon) and The RCVman (with BB's ex) at the 5K KOM sign on Mt. Diablo. Eight Track summits. Trucks are asked to gear down. THis patriot rode all the way carrying that weight and Willows Steak House in Jamestown where Bernie, Ken, Harry and myself dined like pioneers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WWWII






Stage Two started in The City, downtown San Francisco and headed south on the great highway. We broke camp in Livermore GPS set on Half Moon Bay. The plan was to ride 20/20 (one ride, one shoot) to the Bonney Doon cutoff near Santa Cruz. Done. Then we split, BB rode and I shot the first KOM climb, BB had it at about 12 miles and 2,500 feet of gain. The sun finally broke through the cloud cover and the world was right.

Until we tried to backtrack through Santa Cruz and meet the boys at the finish. Then the world was all wrong. As in traffic, backups, detours, and more cars at idle than I have seen for quite some time. We missed the finish, grumbled thru the expo and I finally found the media center and get credentials.

Back to camp in darkness to charge batteries, download media, build a fire, start dinner review the day and plan for Stage Three. Plus we had the pleasant upraise of having dinner guests as Joel and Vicky, now living in San Jose came up to visit us at camp.

Being without internet hookup or cell reception in camp makes it challenging, so we have been trying to keep up via Facebook posts. You can go there here.

Today's Stage Three is the infamous Mt. Diablo climb. We are heading there i about an hour and then ride the circular route back into Livermore for the finish. After that I will have some time in the media center to update. Then it is out for Sonora and another basecamp.

If it wasn't for Bernie's great cooking and Linda's incredible rhubarb pie, this would be all work, as is, it's great fun. All for now, the hills beacon.

Where we're we?






"Ahh", he sighed, taking the first sip of an ice cold Negra Modelo after the ride. It was two days and a thousand miles from Seattle. The campsite at Del Valle State Recreation Area, seven miles south from Livermore into the east-side foothills was now base camp for two days. No cell service, no power, no TV. It was perfect.

Saturday from Seattle to Shasta ended with a plush and plumb bed at the Tree House Inn in Shasta. After a fabulous free breakfast the final 500 put them in camp mid afternoon, with the logistics for tomorrow's Tour of California Stage Two in the works. They would start well ahead of the peloton in Half Moon Bay, take 20 mile shits, one ride, one film until the turn into the Santa Cruz Mountains at Bonney Doon. The finish would be Aptos and from there, the expo, pro interviews, media center and maybe even one final ride.

But for tonight, a campfire, Bernie's homemade chili, my world famous burritos and some well deserved shuteye under the starry Northern California stars.

"You can do a lot worse", he said watching a hawk circle overhead.

Pix:
Bernie preps Big Red for getaway. The Tree House lobby in Shasta. Caught this at 70 mph near Weed. Bernie surreys the arroyo del vale. Always on the lookout for cheap sunglasses.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

CIAO


Pulling the studio plug to pack cables, chargers, peripherals. Hard to leave the Northwest on such a beautiful day, but we have appointments with destiny. First night goal is Mt. Shasta. Going to try to get in a little ride at sunset, so stay tuned.

Nice work in the HoM this morning. Hope that was enough visualization to get ya through! Freedom. 

As we head out to join (in progress) the Tour of California, here is the sub schedule for the House of Mirth. Both Spins and Training by Power sessions are listed. Short of losing a limb, your dedication is expected! It is business as usual. 

Monday, 5.14 @ 0530 ~ Tony
Monday, 5.14 @ 0700 ~ Yasuyo
Tuesday, 5.15 @ 1000 ~ Yasuyo
Wednesday, 5.16 @ 0530 ~ Tony
Wednesday, 5.16 @ 0700 ~ Yasuyo
Wednesday, 5.16 @ 1700 ~ Yasuyo
Wednesday, 5.16 @ 1830 ~ Suzanne
Thursday, 5.17 @ 1000 ~ Yasuyo
Friday, 5.18 @ 1700 ~ Yasuyo
Saturday, 5.19 @ 0730 ~ Suzanne
Monday, 5.21 @ 0530 ~ Yasuyo
Monday, 5.21 @ 0700 ~ Yasuyo

We return late Monday, so I will be back int he saddle on Tuesday, 5.22. Business as usual. Enjoy the ride. 

Ciao!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Have Gun

Out of necessity, I need to be brief today. It is the day before getaway day and I have one more than 99 things to do. There are five specific areas that need packing attention to detail. They are:

The filming detail. I am planning on shooting LOTS of footage with several cameras to provide media for at least six projects. That means I need to capture every conceivable shot, angle, POV, locale, background, close up and cut-away, still and video of the entire eight days from Seattle to Santa Barbara and back. It also means packing heavy as the arsenal needed to accomplish all this would challenge a supply officer. See photo of my start. 

The riding detail. We are taking three bikes, Bernie's sleek new Specialized, his old Giant and Trixie, my faithful and fearless Specialized Langster fixie. This is the easy detail as I have, in pinches past, put together a road trip pack in less than three minutes. Don't forget the tool kit with spares. 

The camping detail. I wish I had a camper, RV or conversion van, but since BBs Toyota will be jam packed with gear, food and supplies, we are camping. Tent, bag, cooking, chairs, lantern, ice chest. Usual stuff. I keep all this ready so it isn't too big an issue. Always seem to leave behind one item. I have learned over the years to stash an extra bottle opener and corkscrew in my tool kit. 

The wedding detail. My nephew is getting married in Santa Barbara on Saturday, a week from tomorrow. That was the initial imperative. Get to SB. I was informed about two weeks ago that I am the official wedding videographer. Let me be perfectly clear on this: I DO NOT DO WEDDINGS. I will shoot, edit and produce just about anything (just about) but weddings are the worst. Absolute agony. A lose-lose scenario. That is why it is such a lucrative industry, because nobody likes doing them (unless there is a boatload of money involved). In this case, because my nephew is such a good kid and I will have the aforementioned gear with me anyway, I reluctantly agreed. You know who he works for…this is like me singing at Adele's nups. 

The assignment detail. Since you are reading this, I will assume you have at the very least a passive interest in the many ways I spend my precious time. The training, the racing, the travel, the glamour (!), blah, blah. I will, one way or another, post something every day. As you have come to expect. After all, Tuesday's post was number 1,475. That is comparatively consistent. The challenge is on, it will be work, but I am used to that, too. I find this all very exciting, look at it this way, all the details merely contribute to the fun. Remember Have Gun, Will Travel? Paladin might have said:

Have six cameras, will shoot.
Three bikes, will ride.
A sleeping bag, will nap.
A press pass, will interview.
A computer, will blog.

Details will follow. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Make Sense?




I was asked the single hardest question of all time to adequately answer today.

Actually, it is number three on the list of hardest questions to adequately answer, right after,

Why are we here? and,
How do you make love last?

But it is a good one. Rich, complex, subjective (with hints of lavender and elderberry). It has nothing to do with metaphysics, religion, politics, philosophy or happiness, although it contains elements of them all. Its wholeness rests in its parts. Equal, opposite, independent and complete. The cadence yin and the power yang. Yes and both. 

The question, asked innocently and with great sincerity, was this:

How to I turn the pedals with more power and efficiency?

After twenty minutes, the duration of the first of two 85% of ftp sets, I finished my opening diatribe with the standard disclaimer, "Does that make sense?", even though I sensed losing her at about the halfway point. 

I tried to connect the mechanical componentry first, establishing the linkage between the posterior kinetic chain and the primary movers; glutes, quads and hammys. Referenced the role of the core and the ability to lift, pull, push and flow. Mentioned the integration of cadence and resistance. Spoke of blood flow, ATP, mitchocondria, glucose, lactic acid and dopamine. Isolated the importance of creating fluidity and oneness. Orated on the lungs and fat oxidation, delivery systems and recovery. Heart rate, wattage, vasculatiry and focus all received honorable mentions. We dissected the whole into a hundred parts, examined each and re-assembled, all freshly inspected, cleaned and replaced where necessary. There were examples, anecdotes, illustrations. There was the occasional drift into the subjective. A few opinions were held in the light to determine their prospective value as fact. Names were dropped faster than bad habits. 

It occurred to me, as I paused to refresh, that since this wonderful question could not be answered with one word, that perhaps it could with a thousand. And since I had a captive audience, now half-way into the second of the 2 x 20s, working hard, seated and locked into a pedal system, that I could stretch it out a little and explore some tangents. After all, where was he to go? Off to average torque angles, percent of dorsillflexation at bottom dead center, hip flexors, diaphragmatic breathing, mashing, attention depict disorders, Ayn Rand, Henry David Thoreau, Eddie Mercx, Greg LeMond, Bruce Cockburn, Tom Douglas and Michael Bay. The elderberries were in maximum fermentation stage one. 

It's a flow, a feel, the combination of all of the above. You have to test yourself and find where your strengths and weakness' are and then take the necessary (long, boring and endless) steps to improve them. Once they have become your de-facto spin, your enhancements can begin. You can add speed, power, endurance. You can become a master of the climb. You can sprint with the big dogs. You can ride a hundred miles (yes, in one day). And after you have done all this, after years and years of indoor structure and dedicated training, thousands of outdoor miles and hundreds of races, you can…

….start your training. It is all of the above. And a lot more. One must do them all. One must feel, experience and fail. One must fall. We want the complete package, an athlete capable of supplying adequate pressure to the pedals on demand as the situation dictates. The fitter we are the more we can enjoy.  The harder we work indoors the greater the rewards out. "THIS", I said, once again referencing the value in the 85% of ftp drill, "is for THAT."

Does that make sense?

Footnote: If you answered in the affirmative, then you know the answers to the first two as well.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

By any other name




Every once in a while one needs to slow down and smell the roses. This, instead of our normal 'run or ride past as fast as you can'. The slower you travel the more you can see. A lot of time we are so focused on the outcome that we fail to witness the beauty of the here. We miss the moment. It all becomes a blur with the sole clarity on the finish. 

As you know I am a big believer in the power of the path. The process. The Holy Road. By default that means every foot strike, every pedal rotation and every high-elbow torso twist in the pool. It also means that with each of these repeated movements something else (everything else?) changes, namely, our location. We move. We pass through time and space where other things are present. We get to momentarily share that space. If there are flowers there we should appreciate their beauty. If there are big dogs sleeping on front porches we should let them lie. Because, as I used to joke, if you wake them they'll be mad and hence, won't tell you the truth. If there are hamburger stands, it might be a good time for some fartlecks. If there is violence, oppression, injustice or anger, put it in gear. Or, stop and do what you can to add some kindness, compassion or calm. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE ADD KEROSENE TO THE FIRE. 

It's a big challenge, I know, today's world is complex and filled with paradox, irony and hypocrisy. Toss in fresh greed and a kilo of tyrannical power to control and you have a salad that even Caesar would appreciate. 

Did we wander off the path for a moment there? That is another skill we can develop. The ability to stay with a focus. The flow of a series of seven minute miles. Keeping a steady state wattage number. To stay clear when myopia narrows our higher vision. Or when we notice that our thoughts have made yet another jailbreak and are now vacationing in Cabo when our bodies are cranking out hill repeats in Seattle. Notice the duality, appreciate your mind's sense of adventure and wanderlust, and then politely ask your thoughts to return to the task at hand. Sync up. Combine the power of the mental with the power of the physical. Feel what is taking place. The present is where it is at. It is a gift. Everything is right now. THIS moment. There is only one moment in time where you can affect both your peak and your average. 

Now. 

The choices we make now create our then. The fuel we take on now powers the quality of the journey. The work we produce and sustain in training provides the rewards and success' of our lives. If you want to win, you have to do everything right in preparation. If you want optimal fitness, wholeness and good health, it all starts with your next selection. Your next choice. 

A burger or beans?
A pizza or peas?
Meat or no-meat?
Cola or water?
Drive or walk?
Cruel or kind?
Expand or constrict?
Laugh or frown?
Fatigued or confident?
Loving or not?
Doing or not?
TV or PR?
Yes or No?

All found along the way. Sometimes we need to refresh. Sometimes we need to ease it off, lighten the pressure to pedal, de-accelerate. Stop and smell the roses. 

Here are two outstanding articles on fueling the fun, or effective eating strategies for athletes. First is from the No-Meat Athlete and the second from my pal The Triathlon Coach, Simon Ward. Both are excellent reads full of great ideas. 

Take the time. 

Pic is from this morning after class, after a squall and after the work had been done. By any other name, fragrance as pink.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Skinny




The latest update skinny:

Skinny update one:
We have booked camping space in beautiful Penticton, British Columbia, Canada (home of Ironman Canada) for Thursday, June 14 (Flag Day) thru Sunday, June 17 (Father's Day). It is approximately 330 Northeast miles from Seattle and normally takes about 6.5 hours to drive without breaking too many rules of the road. Our goal is to ride the IM course, run a portion of the marathon leg, get in a recovery swim or two and relax by the lake in all other hours. If any of this sounds like your kinda fun, please let me know asap. Here is a link to the campsite.

Skinny update two:
As you know we will be departing for the Tour of California at first light this Sunday, May 13 (Mother's Day). I am a touch concerned about the availability of internet services in some of the remote areas we will be riding, filming and camping. I don't know why I am concerned because it's not like I get paid for this, it is more that it has, over the almost five years (and 1,475 posts) since launch, become a regular part of the routine. Somewhat like training. I don't get paid (much) for that either but I do it every day. Point being that posts next week may be sporadic. Please rest assured that this is because we have a ton on tap, and not because I have suddenly decided to become a wandering zen monk (again). 

Skinny update three:
Under the change is good heading, circumstances have provided a perfect opportunity to tweak the training block. This, to ramp for the summer events that surely include swimming as well as biking and running. If you would like to join our triathlon training group, be your distance of choice sprints or the IM, here is the next schedule which we will launch on Tuesday, May 22:

Mondays: 0530 Spin
Tuesdays: 1400 Swim
Wednesdays: 0530 Spin ---Bricks in the Park 1830
Thursdays: 1400 Swim
Fridays: Easy run in Park 1830
Saturdays:  0730 spin ---Trail run
Sundays: LSD ride/run

Details to be added later. If ya wanna play, just say. 

Skinny update four:
The much anticipated May CompuTrainer Multi-Rider Indoor Cycling Tournament will kick-off on May 29. We'll race on Tuesdays, Thursdays at 1800 and Saturdays at 1700. The single elimination format should allow us to get this one in the books pretty quickly. 

So there ya are folks. The skinny. A biking fondo camping vacation in Canada, news, video, photos and commentary from the Tour of California, some structure and training camaraderie for Chelanman, IMC, Lake Stevens, Danskin, Elma or other, and another exciting indoor cycling tournament. 

Here is why all this is important