Monday, June 27, 2011

Why does my ass hurt so much?

This post's provocative title is designed to generate web traffic from all the sites that link to mine. There.  I admit it.

Multiple choice answer:
A. I rode a time trial for the first time in seven weeks and strained something.
B. I had my ass handed to me by Brady Murphy.
C. My other teammate beat me by one measly second.
D. The course's pavement is bisected by a multitude of taint-crushing expansion cracks.
E. I forgot my chamois creme.
F. All of the above.

photo by David Allen Seevers
Over the last few years, I've taken a lot of grief from my teammates about my bike face. Whenever Phil Mooney watched me race a crit, he would yammer about the pain cave: "You looked like you were in agony out there!"

Now Redemske's doing the same thing on his blog--he's using my grimace-snarl to accentuate his own sang-froid. It's true--I DO look like a serial killer at the start of this 24-mile state ITT championship.

By the finish, I'd calmed down a bit:


Okay.....not so much with me and the calming down.

Good things happened on Saturday: the rain stopped by race time. I got a good warm-up. The starter and "crowd" laughed at my joke: "Murphy-Feagan-O'Brien-O'Donell? It's the Irish Mob potion of the race!" I started slow and didn't blow up in the first two miles. I went a minute faster than last year in slightly harder conditions. My back never hurt. I managed a bit of self-deprecating wise-assness at the turnaround that made those volunteers laugh. I retained my mental focus throughout the race. I was the second-fastest Cat 3 in my age group. Brady and Leah won state championships. My teammates and I shared a good lunch afterward. Ryan Feagan rode the TT Eddy Merckx-style and learned that he prefers mountain biking.

Bad things also happened: I went too easy on the return and couldn't sustain a steady pace.

I was hoping for a big-gear tailwind on the way back, so on the way out, I deliberately spun a higher-than normal cadence to save my legs. But my legs felt great at the finish, so I probably saved a bit too much.

On the other hand, my breathing and heart rate were all over the place. I can usually sustain a just-below-threshold rhythm when I race a time trial, but this weekend I either went too easy or blew up straight into the red. I had to choose either Zone 3 or Zone 5c--there was no middle ground. Every time I tried to go just a little faster, I'd feel myself starting to pop. And muscling over the hills in gearing that I can normally handle left me wheezing by the time I reached the crest of the rise.

The entire race felt either either way too easy or way too hard, which is the result of the way I've been riding. I've spent plenty of time on my long endurance and not nearly enough time working on my LT and VO2 max.  I've done lots of volume (not by MOD standards, but still) and not enough intensity.

Last year was my first without Judd van Sickle and the UC Davis sports medicine people. I hurt my back really badly in November and never felt right until May, so I was willing to admit my mediocrity and just have as much fun as I could. I won a race and finished the season feeling like I'd done my best in difficult circumstances.

This year, I started training with a powermeter. I managed to ride throughout most of the late winter and early spring. But I haven't followed the sort of structured training plan that Judd used to write for me. I can do three hours of easy riding without dying, and I can hit the gas pretty hard early in a race to help some teammates. But I can't complete 60 minutes of intense crit racing without blowing up at least once. And I still can't climb.

I also don't race with the powermeter--my deep-dish carbon wheels and my Zipp disc are just sooo much faster. But I'm missing out on some good data. It's a dilemma. 

Here's what this TT taught me: I need to add some critical power intervals and work on some over-under intervals to help me recover faster from intense surges. I've got three weeks until Omaha cycling weekend. In the meantime, I'll race a crit in Lawrence, Kansas and travel to a crit / road race weekend in Clear Lake, Iowa. Those efforts should help me gain some top-end fitness.

And I'll work on my pain face.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rookie Mountain Biker Makes a Debut

Abbey took her first mountain bike ride tonight, led by the fine folks with Omaha Devo.

I think I'll be spending a lot more time on dirt from now on.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Habitually dangerous motorist cited in Ft. Calhoun

From the Blair Bike Club:

"I just want everyone to know that we had another incident in Ft. Calhoun with Don Bilderback (the crazy man who hates bikers) with one of our club members whom was almost run off the road.

I talked to the county attorney and found out last fall charges were brought against him and he did have to pay a fine for reckless driving (after the incident with Bob and I on the Omaha Trace Rd).

It is important for you to call the sheriff and file a complaint if you have an incident with this man.  He is very dangerous and will kill someone someday if he continues with this madness.  If you carry a cellphone when you ride be sure to snap a photo of his plate #.  This is excellent evidence- take photos of his face -if the opportunity arises!

I told the county attorney that his license needs to be revoked and he said that would eventually happen if they keep relieving complaints against him.  So you can see it is very important to "act" when he harasses you.

One more thing!  We are requesting that if you have had an incident with Don Bilderback that you would please write to the editor of the Blair Paper at this address:   with "letter to the editor" in the subject line.  I have spoken with Melissa from the paper and she said they will print all our letters the same day and that should have a big impact on the public.  Refrain from using his name and refer to him as "a particular individual in Ft. Calhoun" We only want letters that involve Bilderback --not general harassment from the public letters.  THANKS TO ALL  We have the right to ride safely on the road and not be harassed!!!

 Most incidents have been on the Trace.  he lives in a white ranch style house with a black garage right on the trace, near the Ft. Calhoun end.
Blair Bike Club"
I've heard stories about this guy, but I've never seen him.

My two cents: action begets reaction. If you're endangered by a motorist, do two things: 1: ask yourself what control YOU had over the situation and how your actions might have contributed to the incident; 2: contact the authorities and/or file charges.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Of dropped chains, turtles, and futility

Apologies for my absence. I've been blocked for about a month; in the aftermath of a furious bout of academic writing (and a freakish amount of public response to THIS), I moved house. I've struggled to work cogently on my project since then, so my blogging has fallen by the wayside, much to Bryan's chagrin.

Alas, Hobbit House is no more--a persistent leak in the basement's foundation led me to start looking elsewhere. I moved only about six blocks, but hauling all the kids' stuff--to say nothing of my absurd amount of books--was still a Herculean endeavor.

I've managed to race my bike a little; the outcome of the Nebraska State Championship Masters criterium is still too fresh to write about. I've drafted two race reports, both of which inadvertently denigrated the efforts of Joe Savoie, the winner of the event. I had a mechanical. He won. I didn't.

Bryan actually took my bike out of my hands after I finished the masters race, sensing my urge to do this:

I wallowed in self-pity for about an hour, but then Bryan reminded me that I had another event to race.

The Elite 1/2/3 crit was a smashing success for the team--we swept the podium.

Bryan and I strung out the pack for a few of the early laps and rode a pretty good tempo. I also launched an abortive solo flier that allowed Shim to counter-attack after our opponents chased me down. When HE was caught, Paul Webb and Lucas Marshall countered and established the winning break. The rest of us either sat in or covered bridge attempts. Team Kaos guys Vaughn Pierce and Jordan Marsh got decent gaps on the field at various times, but both seemed pretty frustrated to find me sitting on their wheel as they tried to get away.

Mark Savery patrolled the front for much of the second half of the race, spelled occasionally by weaker efforts from Bryan and I, and he eventually won the field sprint. Ryan Feagan and Brady Murphy scrubbed enough speed through corners to frustrate the chasers. It was a great team effort, motivated by the fact that these are all good guys both on and off the bike. I really like this group.

My mechanical in the master's race didn't reoccur in the elite race, but I was so angered by the slow decay the Fuji has displayed that I finally pulled the trigger on this:

It's a Trek 6.5 with SRAM Force components and Ultegra 6700 road tubeless wheels. I'll train on my Powertap / Mavic wheelset and race on my deep-dish carbon clinchers, so the new hoops are expendable.

I opted for the 6.5 becasue I wanted a Midwestern-made bike, and the 6.5 is built in Waterloo, Wisconsin. I rode Bryan's Trek 6.7ssl and found it just a bit too stiff for my back, which is a real shame--the black version of that frame is visually stunning. The 5.2 is also available in black, but it's made in Taiwan. I loved riding it, but again, this localist thinker wants a local bike. If I ever get back to Norcal, I'll buy a Seven.

Oh, and let's play "guess the metaphor." No, the obvious choice isn't the BEST answer. After getting dropped from the State Road Race championship (I dropped my chain, chased for 4 miles, caught the pack, brought back a break, and THEN got popped), I encountered THIS fellow shuffling along in the middle of the road. 
photo by Lois Brunner

The photo doesn't capture his size: his shell was probably 18-20 inches in diameter. When I tried to pick him up to get him off the road (The cat 4 field was about 5 minutes behind me), he tried to take my arm off. "It's in my nature," he seemed to say. 

There's a lesson: a lost turtle on a bike race course as a metonymy for me, I suppose. But I still couldn't help him.

 One last bit: today a friend of mine posted a link to a Katy Perry video. It valorizes the popular culture and fashion of the 80's in a way that really pisses me off. Here's what my postmodern retrospective of the 80's might look like. One which bears a passing resemblance to the conditions under which we all labor.

It wasn't much of a party, young ones. And it still ain't.

I'm off this weekend to a wedding in St. Louis; hopefully I'll be able to forgive myself for missing one in Guerneville last weekend. Then, it's four straight weekends of racing: the Nebraska State TT championship, a criterium on the KU campus in Lawrence, an omnium event in Clear Lake, Iowa, and Omaha Cycling Weekend. All the while, I'll be sending out chapters of the dissertation. Three by August 1, in fact.