Monday, January 31, 2011

Kilojoules vs. calories for dietary intake?

Lots happening here: new bikes being built, new routes being ridden, massive snowfalls accumulating, etc. More on all that later.

Here's my immediate debate: caloric expenditure.

I'm using to count calories. I won't entertain arguments about that. It works for me. So that's my major premise: counting calories using an online food diary is a good way to slowly lose bodyfat.

Here's the minor premise: recording calories burned helps me determine how many to consume each day.

I have a good sense of my resting metabolic weight. But using my Garmin Edge 500 with my new Powertap is yielding some conflicting data. So, powertap-addicted numbers junkies, here's my question:

After a 75-minute easy spin (zones 1-2), the Garmin tells me that I've burned 647 calories-- but expended 755 kilojoules.  Which number should I use to calculate the ideal caloric consumption for that day? Sometimes, the calories burned is higher, especially if I'm really rested, fed, and hydrated. On the other hand, if I'm fatigued or slightly dehydrated, my heart rate is lower for the same effort, and hence the calories burned number is lower. But power is power, no? Shouldn't I record kilojoules expended, regardless of heart rate?

Thoughts from all are welcome: but don't tell me to stop doing the math or that powermeters are dumb.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I really, really think He did it. The fallout's going to be immense, and fans around the world will bemoan the loss of His narrative of survivor turned champion turned philanthropist.

But I read His public story as the epitome of American tragedy: damaged child ascends to greatness and then falls. His hamartia is our own: an insatiable desire for victory and an evident willingness to exploit other people in order to win.

Floyd is Iago. Or Creon. Yes, he lied. Yes, he cheated. His treatment of LeMond was despicable and evil. But I believe his stories.  I believe the Andreus' story. And the soigneur's. And the lab in France that found EPO in His urine. And many of the countless accusations. Why would so many people make so many claims about Him doping if some of them weren't true? Because He was the best? Because He was an American who dominated a European sport?

Why not because they're true? Why believe the word of one man when so many others have accused him?  Because he's done so much good in the world? I don't deny the saintliness of his works. But they don't excuse him of cheating and lying about it.

All the other champions of his era have been caught: Ulrich. Pantani. Basso. Beloki. Many of his domestiques have been caught: Heras. Landis.

I love cycling becasue of his success. I've cheered him on television and in person. We even met once, when he was kind to my daughter and expressed condolence for my cancer-stricken friend. But I love the sport more than him. It's bigger than him. It'll survive him.

Maybe naivete is MY hamartia. But I believe that the truth will be good. For Him. For the sport. I believe we can have sport without drugs, without cheating, without questions. A sport that congeals suffering and landscape and proximity and transforms it into poetry. Into art.

But not tragedy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Trainer workouts just got harder; aesthetics advice, anyone?

I made two new acquisitions this week.

 Thanks to the kindly gents at the Trek Midtown shop, I am now the proud servant of a Powertap SL+ hub mounted to a DT Swiss 415 rim. Thanks, Jake!

Here's the thing: I hate it. And here's why: it's hard. 60 and 90-minute "easy rides" feel much, much more difficult with power data keeping me honest.

See, when I "spin" endurance miles on the trainer, I HAVE to watch something on TV. But the distraction of the TV is a true distraction; my cadence tends to slow as my body tries to sneak in some rest while my mind's occupied by football or old bike races. Sometimes, I unconsciously spin too hard when the action on the TV heats up. And spinning too hard is just as counter-productive as spinning too easy.

Problem is, training with heart-rate doesn't immediately catch the change in tempo, so a few minutes elapse before I realize that I've slowed down or sped up.

Not so with power data. It's instantaneous. So all those little fragments of rest that made the workout truly "easy" in the past are now themselves a thing of the past. Holding a near-constant wattage--even one that's just on the lower end of LE / Zone 2--is pretty challenging. And that's a good thing, right?

The calories expended seem about the same, but perceived exertion is harder. Perhaps I need to re-calibrate my Garmin computer to calculate caloric expenditure based on watts rather than beats per minute. Hmm....

2009 Fisher Presidio. It's SOOOOO pretty.
*          *          *

Okay, enough with the wattage-wonkiness. How about an aesthetic debate? 

Here's the long-awaited solution to my 'cross / winter bike dilemma: the 2009 Gary Fisher Presidio. 

After eliminating the Surly Cross-Check and 2011 Presidio from contention because of their weight and geometry, I was about to order a Soma Double-cross -- literally 10 minutes after Jake asked me, "Have you ordered your Soma yet?"

I hadn't. I don't know why. I had the cash. The distributor had my size. I had the parts spec. picked out. But I spent two weeks stalling and dithering because I just wasn't SOLD. You know that feeling of certainty? Of, umm, love? I never felt it for the Soma. We'd been on a few dates and had a few laughs, but in my gut I knew she just wasn't THE ONE. I was so uncertain that I called Trek about ordering their aluminum XO2 instead. That bike would've been solid and reliable, but it also felt like kissing your sister. (I don't have a sister, so it would've been like kissing YOURS. And I doubt many readers of this blog have smart, sexy sisters. If you do, don't tell ME. I have enough problems.)

So I was going to order the Soma. And probably enjoy building and riding it. But I knew I'd always wonder, "What if?"

Then Jake Rasp came to the rescue. Good old Jake: builder of wheels, dispenser of advice, quipper of witticisms, courtier of Cora. After asking if I'd ordered the Soma, he told me Trek had emailed him a list of old back-stock items they were trying to move, including a 59cm Fisher Presidio in gloss black.

I nearly kissed him. And he's nobody's sister.

The 2009 uses a different geometry than the 2010 and 2011 bikes. The 59cm will fit me better than either of the 58 or 61 sizes that are currently available. The 2009is also built of True Temper Platinum OX steel, a much lighter and more responsive material than Fisher's current tubing. And the frame was made in Wisconsin, which, as a scholar of "localism" in my intellectual work, I really like. It's a "Midwestern" bike for a Midwestern season: winter.

I ordered SRAM Rival  shifters, crank, and front derailleur. The rear derailleur will be SRAM Apex in order to accommodate the 11-32  cassette I might use if I ever tour on the bike. Brake calipers will be Avid Ultimate, and I'll install a Ritchey bar, stem, and seat post that were left over from my first race bike. 

Here's where I need some aesthetic advice: what color should I choose for the bar tape, saddle, and cables? Should I go with black for an all-around stealthy look, or should I use white for a bit of bling to accentuate the white markings on the frame?

Comments, please? 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm famous!

Older friends will remember my old life: from 1989 to around 1996, I spent an inordinate amount of time in theaters.

No, not that kind. This kind:
Yeah, that's me. I actually volunteered for this.

This review was for a play I did with SNAP! Productions, an non-profit company which formed to raise money for the Nebraska AIDS project.

I worked with SNAP!, Shelterbelt, the Playhouse, Chanticleer, the Norton, The Firehouse, etc etc etc. There was lots of good work and lots of schlock. But playing Biff in Death of a Salesman and Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof put my picture on the front page of the entertainment section of the Omaha World-Herald. I made a few appearances on local TV news "entertainment" segments, and I was the face of Cox Cable Omaha for a few months. I've had strangers walk up to me and repeat advertising tag lines.

My picture's probably been in "the paper" over 30 times.

All that ended 15 years ago. I'm still a performer, after all, but now I play to an audience of 20 college students rather than 600 paying customers. I'll let you guess which is scarier. Actually, I'm not teaching right now becasue I'm writing my dissertation pretty much full-time. And I've tempered most of my publicity instincts that I used in my PR career at an ad agency, newspaper, and volunteer gigs for local non-profits.

So when the Omaha World-Herald photographer came into the "Y" on Monday while I was riding an exercise bike, I put my head down and tried to act invisible. She was reporting on how Omahans were coping with our recent snowpocalypse, something about how we stick to our routines even as 10 inches of powder fall from the sky. But I was one of only two people in the cardio room at the time, so she had to change her angle. She took some shots of the only other guy there, but then she wandered over, smiled, and asked if she could photograph me. Shit.

I'm vain. I adore attention. I love playing to a crowd. But I also try to dampen those enthusiasms because they can hinder other aspect of my life. My current intellectual work, for example, suffers if I let my need for attention distract me from the slow and lonely plodding required to complete a dissertation. 

But this photographer was clearly disappointed not to find a room full of folks at the Y. She asked if I took pride in sticking to my routine in the face of winter hardship, and I told her that I always try to ride outside--only 10 inches of snow and cold could compel me to endure cardio work indoors. We chatted for a few minutes, she took some notes, and away she went.

This experience taught me two things: I've changed. And so has the newspaper industry. 

One: the last time I was about to appear in the paper, I had closed a bar with some woman (I actually can't remember which one), and we went to the paper at two in the morning to pick up a copy of the bulldog edition. Part of my anxiety about that review was economic: I was directing and producing that piece, so the review had a pretty big effect on the theatre's future. Part of it was vanity, too. But 20 years later, I still haven't seen a hard copy of the "YMCA" story. I really don't care about adding yet another clipping to the file my mom kept for all those years.

Two: the first few times I was in the paper fifteen years ago, I'd get calls. Lots of them. Lots and lots. Everyone read the Omaha World-Herald.  This week, only four people I know saw the piece: my friend Bryan, local blogger, racer, bike shop manager, and former World-Herald staffer; Brad, the only man my age who's still a daily subscriber and a former radio reporter; my Aunt Barb, who's pushing 60; and my friend John, who's still in advertising and art-directed the Safe Sex poster all those years ago. 

Here's irony: the theme of this post has been my ambivalence about self-promotion. But it's appearing  on my blog, a form which is all about self-promotion. And it concludes, fittingly, with the picture itself:

Coda: I'm not as vain as I used to be. How do I know? Because I'm okay with posting a photo that makes me look like I'm fifty f*cking years old.....

*          *           *
A later addition to the above:

My God, it's all here: an ambivalence about fame, an anxiety about difference and disability, some critiques of shoddy poetry, and a healthy disdain for capital accumulation. I haven't paid any real attention to this track in a long time, but now I realize that Mozzer beat me to it. Every single time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Neko, redux

I know I'm beating a dead horse, but I defy you to watch this video and NOT fall head-over-heels, bat-shit-crazy in love with this woman.

The delicate fury of her lyrics, her Luddite aesthetics, her ecological metaphors. Damn.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The song that creeps up in the gullet and won't let go.

Blank included this track on his contribution to our Dirt Worship / Crashfest road trip mix for last summer's drive to Crested Butte. It percolated around in my head for a few months, but last week it climbed out of my unconscious and demanded some attention.

The first verse:
Oh, Lou- I'd like to let you know that I do not feel welcome.
All the birds, the trees, the falling snow:
No, they were not made for me.
And all this is where her heart resides; we met in California
She saw cities, promise reaching through my eyes
And she turned herself away

Well how I curse that western skyline.
And yet I thanked it for my start.
Oh rue, though my dreams did not come true; no, they only came apart.
I thought of Richard Manuel when I first heard this kid's voice.  Our zeitgeist's indie aesthetic--and its turn toward roots rock, Americana, folk, and the like--pleases me no end.

But remembering my own western skyline still screws me up most times.

*     *     *
I joined the Union Pacific Railroad HQ guys this afternoon for 60 minutes of what Brady called "frisky" riding. He and Shim were on 'cross bikes, but they still threw me in the hurt locker. And I hardly took any pulls. But rolling north out of downtown on Florence Blvd. into a stiff headwind really punched through my Thursday ennui, and barreling back along 24th Street toward a rapidly upthrust skyline was a lot of fun. Plus, I was outside. In January. Beats the hell out of climbing on the trainer at 6:00 AM.

Just don't cross wheels with Shim when he's on his 'cross bike; curbs, berms, swatches of grass, trails: he's like a zig-zag dog darting all over them.

I gotta get my 'cross bike. This winter riding stuff's getting fun.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nothing Changes

1. I will read to my children each and every day.
2. I will encourage / support my children to attempt and enjoy one creative and one sporting activity each week.
3. I will publish one piece of academic writing.
4. I will write one piece of creative work each month.
5. I will race at 185 pounds and 325 watts at threshold.
6. I will always have a "fun" book to look forward to reading.
7. I will accept more social invitations than I decline.

Oh, yeah--and I'll change my name from Mr. to Dr.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.