Friday, January 30, 2009

Killin' the 'trainer

Thursday nights is Cycor's team computrainer nights. We head out to Endorphin and generally stink and slime up the place as we grunt, strain and groan around terrible courses. You have to do rides like these with your buddies because you can't let "normal" people see you looking like that. We look bad. Trust me.

Carolyn Goble of Team Natures Path begged us to clean up the gym after we were done. She rides on Saturdays and just couldnt face the carnage after the Cycor people. I told her to wear her Wellies... you know rubber knee boots. I doubt we could flood the place past about ankle deep. We try hard, though. Its not unusual to have the trainers slide on their platform from all the sweat and slime...

Two years ago Big Bill (now Rapidly Diminishing Bill or Mr. Nasty) broke the first computrainer. We were climbing Wintergreen and he was throwning everything and the kitchen sink at the course. First you smelled burning, then there was this terrible whining noise, and then Bill was done for the night. (and two years later, that trainer is still broken :(

Last night was Gregg's turn to trash a trainer. We were going back up Wintergreen, Sharon took it out like she was shot out of a cannon (silly girl), Julie was pulling wkg that only Floyd Landis could pull, and Bill and Gregg were in hot pursuit. Then we started to smell burning, then there was this terrible whining noise and bingo, Gregg was out for the night.

Wintergreen... it kills.

This left Bill and Julie to duke it out for the win. If you ever wanted to know what really takes to climb, you just have to watch J. Its not the watts, I was beating her on straight watts, its the fact that her body weight, and power make her invincible. Damn.

Double Damn. After she hits the top she starts yelling at me. Team mates, some times you just want to kill them. It wasnt bad enough that she smoked me and was DONE, oh no... now she wanted me to really suffer. And Col. Sweatsalot wasnt going to lay down, either. I was so sure that I was going to barf that they got me a trash can.

Yeah, Wintergreen, it kills.

Where else do women average over 200 watts in a training ride, and top 300 steady for the top part of the course...

Thanks to my team mates. That that does not kill us, makes us strong. Too bad we keep killing computrainers. Maybe they need more hard workouts to make them strong, too?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Planned obsolescence

I hate cell phones. I talk all day on the phone at work, and the last thing in hell I want to do when I get off work is talk on the phone. I don't take pictures with phones, download music, text or anything else. I pretty much have a phone as a way to talk to someone in an emergency. So don't text me. It costs me every time you do it.

Three weeks ago my phone started loosing its charge after a few hours. I went back to Verizon and the tech there told me that I needed a new battery, but because my phone was so old (a year plus) that they no longer carried the batteries and I'd have to go to Batteries Plus. $39.00 later, I had a new battery. Within a few days, that battery wasn't holding a charge, either.

Verizon has this new every two plan, where you get a new or reduced price phone every two years. The catch, the phones just don't seem to last two years. And... you have to get a Verizon phone, and they hose you on the cost.

Since my plan two years was April, I checked out Best Buy. Yep, Best Buy had phones for $29.00. Exactly what I wanted... a vanilla phone. Nope, wouldn't work for me, because it was a different company phone. Huh? Old phone was LG, new phone LG. But the service provider was different.

Now any 12 year old can hack the phone and change the programing. Look what happened with the Iphones. Except I'm not 12, and I can't program ANYTHING. Grrrrr

So I head to Verizon, que in the line and finally get to a very young sales girl who tells me that I have to buy a new phone and the cheapest phone is like $180. I told her to just get the manager... no sense negotiating with someone who has no power to negotiate...

After an hour plus, I walked out with my new, free phone. Except like free puppies, a free phone isn't free. All the charge cords for the old phone of course don't fit the new phone. I'm on the road, I have to have a car charger. Thats almost 30.00. Grrrr. I refused to buy anything else.

So now I have a new phone. I can't wait to see how this one is going to die. My first one allegedly got wet. Not from water, but from water vapor. My $29 Timex is water resistant to 50 meters. Its not waterproof, but it can sure as heck sustain water vaport. What is water vapor, think humidity. The tech guy said that it was probably in my truck on a hot day. No kidding. (Actually, it was probably in my cycling jersey on a hot day.)

So if your phone hasn't died yet, you better make friends with a 12 year old. You're gonna need one soon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Frozen thoughts

Sunday the weather conspired against me and I ended up heading out all by my lonesome. By the time I had gotten to the first stop sign I had to stop and zip up a back pocket. That little draft down the back side was a little more than I could stand.

At mile 10 I tried to drink for the first time. Note to self, when you go out on a really cold day, make sure the top is open on your bottles. Mine had frozen shut and I had to hold it in my mouth for a few minutes to thaw it. Then I got it thawed and what water I could get out of the bottle was so cold that I didn't want to drink it.

A few miles later I saw Gwynne (Marshall Mechanical) and her buffo hubby Kevin and friend Matt out running. I know that Gwynne said something to me as I went by, but with the helmet, and skull cap, I think I picked up like 1 out of 5 words. Something like, ".... Karen. Dont ....... cold." I did manage two words, "I'm cold." I bet she couldn't understand them, either.

It's days like this that make you tough for the summer suffering. Or that's the conventional thought anyway. I stayed cold all day, and only warmed up in the tub that night. If I get a bailout, and am able to give myself a retention bonus, I'm seriously considering moving to somewhere warm. This below freezing stuff just plain sucks.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sharin the love

You all might remember that right before one of the PLT races, Christina sent out an urgent plea to find a home for a kitten that one of her dogs brought to her. My buddy and team mate Mark Pye took the little fart home. For the next 6 months he worked to heal up an abscess in her shoulder that required two surgeries, and more antibiotics than most third world countries use in a year.

I had lunch with Mark the other day, and here she is... all healed up, and the love of his, and his other cats' lives.

I always feel so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful, compassionate people in my team. I'd give Mark a kidney. Nuff said.

I'd give one to Paula, too. One a multi-club ride, Paula found a hound puppy in a ditch. The poor thing was starving to death- all skin and bones. I was in Penn. and Paula called me for help. While the rest of the pack went on, she waited until help arrived. Paula will not only rip your legs off on a bike, she has a wonderful heart. I love her.

Sharon's wonderful Mischief died this summer. What did she do? She called the post vet to get her a stray in need.

It's January, and we are about to start kitten season. I bet there is a spay/neuter clinic near you that will do FREE surgeries. Thru the end of March, the Richmond SPCA does free cat surgeries, no questions asked. They will always do pits and pit mixes for free, and the pets of college students and low income folks.

So if you see a family struggling this year, make the suggestion. From working in shelters, I can tell you that stopping the flow of kittens is a worthwhile endeavour. And if you have an empty place in your heart, consider an adult cat.

To Mark, Paula and Sharon (and J, Steve C, James et al...) on my team who have gone out of their way to make the world a better place for the little guys, many thanks. There's a warm place for you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcome Women's Racing!

Mike added this cool new Women's racing widget. So now maybe women from all over can link together to see who's doing what, why, when, and where. When I recommended Jenn to the newsroll it was because she was a new racer, with typical new racer problems.

You know what I mean... mostly life balance, especially life balance in a tough economy. Sometimes you really do need to decide if you are going to race, or pay bills. Sometimes you need to decide if you are going to ride or do family commitments.

Bike racing is a tough commitment. Sometimes on the speedway type crit courses you can hide the fact that you aren't as fit as you'd like to be. On any crit with a corner... you can't. For most of us though, this is what we do for fun. Or we do it because we have "issues." At some point in our lives though, the real world has to balance out bike racing.

So I'm excited at the new blog list. I know that during bike season my life goes to pot. The grass never gets cut. The weeds overtake the flower beds. My kitchen table disappears underneath all the clean clothes that get piled there. Winter time is a bit more balanced, except this year work has disrupted my real world. Life balance can be a fleeting thing.

This weekend I'm home though, and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss an outside ride. Even if I freeze to death to get it in. Balance also means getting to have time on the bike, outside for a change.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A great day to be standing in the cold...

I was up in B'more on Friday and Saturday and everywhere you looked there were signs of the upcoming Freezefest. Traffic notices: metro lots will be full, no cars past this point, seek alternative transportation. Plus, my hotel told me in no uncertain terms that I was absolutely, positively to vacate by 10 am on Saturday morning under threat of something exceptionally dire. More dire than going outside when it's 2 degrees? Apparently so.

Our good friends at WABA made the Washington Post with their very generous act to do bike parking for the masses. Way to go guys! I'm thinking the majority of people who bike in today will probably be working in DC and have an office to stash their bikes, but anything that gets bikes into good press is aok in my book.

How am I watching? On a big screen tv at work. I live in the real world. We work today (yesterday, too.)

I do hope DC has lots and lots of those little golf carts to ferry the unwise to a heated shelter. I was watching the news this morning and they were interviewing people taking the train to DC. Its going to be in the 20's. Its going to be a bit breezy. Dress pants and a thin leather jacket are not going to cut it. Neither is dress, hose and heels. Unless people have some Carthardt stuff hidden somewhere I'm expecting human carnage today. Brrr!

Whatever your politics are, this is a hugely great day. Think warm thoughts. There are a lot of people who are going to need them! Smudge pots anyone?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hydration- the whole schebang

There isn't much worse than being on the bike and bonking. Except maybe being on the bike and trying to drink something that just flat ass tastes nasty. Or the stuff that leaves sludge in your bottle. Or the stuff that gatorslimes your bike. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Here are my favorites for good stuff to drink:

Ice tea. Its cheap, you whip it up yourself and depending on the length of the ride, you can make it hot, diet, cold whatever. All in all ice tea is great, except for the fact that it goes right thru you.

Infinit: this small company custom makes drink powder. Want it sweeter? Want it less sweet, saltier, more protein? They have standard formulas for the tri folks, crit racing, centuries, recovery etc... but you can call them up and work with them (or do it on line to make your own special blend) to make your drink exactly like you want it. And if you cant stand what they send you... they'll reformulate it for free. I have a special summer blend that I like... J says that it tastes like a salt lick. But in the summer, since I dont eat salt in most of my food, I need a little extra. I cant stand it in winter, and usually go back to hot tea...

Gatoraide, you cant beat it for convenience. My favorite? Sharon usually has a frozen bottle of this Tiger stuff- its green, and frozen it tastes like a lime slushie. Yum. Drink it, rub the bottle on you to cool off, its all good. I can drink most flavors of Gatoraide all right except lemon lime. Good thing there are so many flavors to choose from, conveniently located at every gas station you can find. What I really hate though... gatorburps. Nuff said.

Now the good/bad ones... like Accelerade. I like that Accelerade is complete. But... it trashes my bottles. The residue is impossible to get off, and sometimes unless I cut it, it makes me feel like I'm drinking a lead weight. Forget drinking this stuff when it gets hot. But... on the days I can handle it, it keeps me going better than anything else.

Red Bull... this stuff should be illegal. I get terrible Red Bull indigestion. Burp!

Powerade... just nasty. Its too sweet.

G2- diet gatoraide... what's the point?

Best recovery drink? Chocolate milk. Its full of protein, carbs, and CHOCOLATE! There just isn't anything like it for that wonderful comfort food feeling. Plus it does wonders for upset tummies.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We'll miss you!

Bike teams wonderful, but they just aren't for everyone. There really are people out there who do better on their own, and not every team is for every rider.

Which is why you should choose your teams wisely.

Its also why when you are on a team you should ride with the team as much as possible. There really is something to bonding by shared experiences. Sometimes its those awful, cold winter rides that make a team stronger not because you were riding, but because you were experiencing those awful, cold rides together and thus have a shared perspective when the going gets tough. I'm not sure what it is about communal suffering, but it really does work.

So in this season of change, remember to love your former team mates. And ride like heck with the new ones.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years musings

Long ago we used to meet up on New Years at 7 am, rain, sleet or snow for a wake up run, and then champagne shoot. What's a champagne shoot? Kind of like peeing for distance, but with champagne corks. Nuff said. We'd sit on the steam grate, and cook our nether regions and freeze the top parts while getting a wee bit tipsy on bubbles.

Now that we're old, decreptit and pudgy, we go to my friend Therese's house and run and then eat like kings in her posh riverfront condo.

Somehow its just not the same. You still get people who bring cheap ass bubbles that aren't drinkable, but without the danger of getting busted (like we would ever get busted), or the fun of near freezing/3rd degree burns, it just doesn't quite get it.

Plus, running downtown is just not as friendly as running by U of R. That guy who swerved over and tried to make me his hood ornament kind of proved that. Good thing I was well trained to jump first when someone yells, "MOVE!!!!" and ask questions later. Otherwise, "Mr. I'm just getting home from drinking all night and cant see the hood of my car" might have had a few issues with the boys in blue. (not to mention a really bad day for me.)

One thing that Therese is going to have to stop doing is making those darn little pigs in blankets. Yeah, so cute... so deadly. I get them one time a year. Little piggies, cresent blankets, honey mustard... Geez, stop me before I start drooling again. I can wipe out a platter of them in a second. Like J says, step away from the piggies...

I hope your New Year started off with a bang. We're off to do trail maintenance and to run the dogs. Quiet is GOOD.