Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sore, But in a Good Way

When I was younger I don’t remember the sensation of having sore muscles unless I did something out of control and kind of dangerous. I would ask myself “why is my leg sore” then I would remember that the previous day I had played tackle football in the mud with my buddies for hours and got repeatedly slammed into the ground by a much larger “friend” of mine. So in essence to be sore when I was younger I really had to earn it.

Now that I’m a couple of years older I can be sore for no reason at all. Absolutely none! I’ll crawl out of bed and on my way to the shower wonder why my shoulder or some other random muscle is killing me. I’ll replay the events of the past couple days in my head and find no evidence of where the pain is coming from. Then, I’ll chalk the pain up to sleeping in a weird position. Sore from sleeping in a weird position? That would have never happened when I was a kid. When did this spontaneous indiscriminate sore (place your favorite body part here) transformation occur? Beats me but I really wish it would go away.

Lately I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard in my cycling training. In fact, I don’t ever remember training like this in January but to be honest I’m happy with my fitness level for this time of the year. Sometimes at work when I get up from desk my legs will be a sore from the ride the night before. This kind of sore I really like. In fact, it puts a smile on my face. Not because I’m into pain but because I know exactly where it came from and to quote a old Smith Barney commercial “I earrrrrrrrrned it”

I’ll take self inflicted sore muscles over random old guy aches and pains any day. So here’s to another day of soreness. Sore but in a good way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Ultimate Be Prepared Tip

The Boy Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”. A long time ago when I was a Boy Scout I could have sworn that the motto was “Burn Stuff”. Believe me, as a 12 year old boy on a camp out with a bunch of other 12 year olds there’s nothing better than sitting around a camp fire and throwing things in to see if they would burn. Ahhhh, good times.

Now that I’m older and more “Mature” (Jenny might disagree with that statement) I see the wisdom in the Scout motto of “Be Prepared”. Although I still like to burn things now and then too.

So today I’ve got a handy dandy “Be Prepared” tip that is the best of both worlds.

I present to you Mike’s Ultimate Be Prepared Tip…..

On your next hiking or mountain biking adventure along with some emergency matches pack a small bag of Fritos corn chips. That’s not a typo! Pack a bag of Fritos. So here’s the thing, along with being amazingly tasty Fritos are the ultimate kindling when trying to start a fire in an emergency situation.

What’s that? You say I’m full if it? Here’s a video that we shot the other night lighting a bag of Fritos on fire. As you can see it produces a pretty good flame for a long time. In fact, the Fritos were flaming long after we stopped shooting the video and the family had gone back in the house due to boredom. I ended up picking up the pile of flaming Fritos and throwing them in the BBQ before our dog tried to eat some of them. All in all I think they stayed lit for 10 minutes. Who knew Fritos would be so flammable?

So even though your cardiologist will disagree with you a bag of Fritos could one day save your life. And as an added benefit if you don’t end up needing them while you’re out in the wilderness you can eat them on the way home. Yummmmm……… You can’t do that with other fire starters.

Finally, a word of caution. If you choose to amaze your friends by lighting a bag of Fritos on fire which I’m sure you’re secretly contemplating right now make sure it’s in the street or somewhere discrete because it left a large burned grease mark on our back step.

Sorry Jenny!

Be Prepared, that's what I always say..... or was it Burn Stuff....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Signs That The Training Season has Started

This morning as our family sat down to eat some of my famous whole wheat pancakes there were some obvious signs that Jenny and I have entered the training season.

Here's a picture of my breakfast. Whole wheat pancakes topped with apple sauce. A prefect training breakfast.

Here's a picture of my daughters breakfast. Whole wheat pancake smothered in hot fudge sauce. As you can see there's almost more hot fudge than pancake.

I'm going to have one of those next August!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Level of Cycling Insanity

The first time I completed a century the last 30 miles were excruciating. It felt like I was dragging a 1000 pound weight behind my bike and someone had lit my shorts on fire. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I remember estimating down to the second how much time I had left in the saddle. My rear end was killing me, my hands and feet hurt, and my legs were just plain sick of spinning around in circles. Would I ever subject myself to doing that again?

Heck yeah!

I’ve completed 4 since then and I believe I’m ready to step up the insanity to an entirely new level. Why, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s to sweep the last vestige of cycling sanity out of my mind, or it’s to see if I can really do it, or it’s because secretly I love all of the training and planning that goes into the preparation. OK, it’s all of the above.

On July 17th (exactly 7 months from toady) I’m going to ride the Seattle to Portland (STP) in one day. For those of you scoring at home that’s a total of 204 miles. When I completed the 2007 STP in 2 days I wondered to myself “how could someone ever do this ride in a day”? In 2009 I also completed it in two days but this time I thought to myself that a double century could really be doable. Of course that would be after I acquired a heck of a lot of training miles, a severe dose of insanity, one tough rear end, and Energizer Bunny legs. I guess I’ve got some work to do.

The other day I was putting together a training plan and the harsh reality of all of the weekly miles really hit me. ¡Ay, caramba! that’s a lot of miles! My plan is do 3 shorter training rides during the week with one very long ride on the weekend. This weekend ride will increase in distance by 10% a week until I get to a 150 mile ride. This ride will be two weeks before the STP then I will either taper for the next two weeks or rent a wheel chair for the balance of the summer. I haven’t scheduled any off weeks because I’m sure my schedule will cancel rides all on their own.

I’m pulling this 150 mile training ride out of the air as a good training max but I’m really not sure if it’s too much or too little. I guess we’ll see come July. Either way the end result will either be a spectacular failure or a spectacular success. I’m pulling for a spectacular success.

I’ve asked someone if they want to do this ride with me and he is seriously thinking about it. That doesn't mean there can't be more coming along. There are 10,000 spots available. Anyone out there interested?

Now that I’ve told you about my goal I’m hoping that you’ll keep me honest here. Feel free to hassle me if I start to slack off in my training or call the whole thing off. Think of it as your assignment.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Survival Guide to the 2010 Winter Olympics

On Friday Jenny and I went to Canada (Vancouver BC Area) for the day while the kids were in school. While we were there it occurred to me that the 2010 Winter Olympics are only a month away and it may be helpful for others if they had a quick survival guide for the Vancouver BC Canada area from a visiting American’s perspective.

Speeding on Highway 99
Before entering Canada you drive on I-5 with a speed limit of 70mph. Once you cross the boarder into Canada the road changes to Highway 99 and the speed limit also changes to 100kpm (62mph). Not wanting to cause an international incident I kept my speed just a smidge above that. Holy Cow, it felt like I was driving 5mph with the speeds that people were passing me at. I can only think of two possible explanations for this.
1. Canada’s speed limits aren’t really laws but merely guidelines sort of like the code of the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean.
2. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), still ride horses and therefore can’t catch speeders.

Shopping carts
We stopped at a grocery store and since we had a lot of items on our list we started looking for carts once we got into the store. To our surprise there wasn’t a stack of carts inside the front door. We peeked outside the front door to see of there were any stray carts in the parking lot but didn’t see any there either. Do Canadians use shopping carts? We were wondering. Well, after we carried our bags of catsup potato chips, dill pickle potato chips, and caffeine free Mountain Dew to the check out stand and made our purchase we spotted a safely secured line of shopping carts all equipped with locks and they were locked to each other. We looked at them further and found that they charge 25 cents to use a cart. Once you’re finished with your cart you can return it to the shopping cart quarantine area and after you have safely locked it to the other carts you get your quarter back. So, if you’re traveling to Canada keep a quarter in your pocket for shopping locking and unlocking.

Chinese food
It’s been said that the best Chinese food in Seattle is in Richmond BC which is a suburb of Vancouver and I agree. While we were in Canada we stopped at a Chinese restaurant and were the only people of non Asian decent there. It was quite the weird but fun experience and the food was excellent. There wasn’t a single fork in the entire place either. There’s so much to say about our experience that I’m planning on writing a separate post about it. I’m still laughing about it. So, if you get to Richmond you’ve got to try out some Chinese food. You won’t regret it. That is unless you have a history of poking your eyes out with chop sticks.

In Canada it is legal to sell Codeine over the counter in pharmacies if it’s combined with two other ingredients. So, they sell it with Aspirin or Acetaminophen and Caffeine. It’s like the perfect trifecta of headache killers. It’s sold in low doses but it really does the trick on just about any headache. So if you’re in Canada go to a pharmacist and ask if you can get some AC&Cs or 222’s (Those are the secret code words). They will then pull out a couple of bottles and ask you if you would like 100 or 200 in a bottle. It’s like magic.

Grocery Store Doors
Normally in the US if there are in and out doors heading inside and outside of a store side by side the in door is on the right and the out door is on the left. This makes perfect sense because this is how are roads are routed. In Canada not so much. For some reason they are located on opposite sides. To get into a store the in door is located on the left side. I must be a really slow learner because I always headed for the out door when attempting to enter a grocery store. I’m not quite sure why they have their doors this way but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the metric system.

Bathrooms are called washrooms

If you ever see this sign trust me don’t bring your laundry into this room. You won't be doing any clothes washing in there. That’s right washrooms are to Canadians what bathrooms are to Americans. I think both of these terms are quite misleading but it’s what we are used to.

So there you have it. Canada isn’t very different from the US but there are subtle differences. You just can’t find a friendlier group of people either. I’m really looking forward to the winter Olympics next month. If it were the summer Olympics you can bet that I would be camping out for all of the road races.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fastest of Them All

For Christmas my youngest daughter got a card making paper embossing machine thingy. Being the articulate guy that I am, I’m sure there’s an actual name for this contraption but the long and short of it is she can emboss paper and make greeting cards with it. Because she is an Über crafty person she loved this gift. In the days following Christmas she made cards of every shape, size and color. She got so good at making cards that she even started making pop up cards. This is way beyond any skill I would ever hope to have.

I really loved one of the cards that she made for me so I had to share.

Here is the front of the card.

As you can see she cut holes in the front of the card to expose some words. Pretty darn cool.

Here’s the inside of the card in all of its spectacular embossed splendor.

There you go, this card vouches for my veracity in three categories.

Coolest – Notice the argyle to the left. I currently don’t own anything with an argyle on it except for a Garmin water bottle. Maybe that’s a hint that if I get some Argyle I will be the style king.

Nicest – Obviously my smile is a lot larger than anything else on my face. I’ll take that.

Fastest – I loved this one the most including a bike equipped with aero bars.

I’m honored to be the coolest, nicest, and fastest Dad of them all. I know there are a lot of fast cyclists out there that are fathers but according to this card I’m the FASTEST. I'm relieved Mark Cavendish isn't a father. Sorry Lance! Better luck next time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Vacation Report

When I was in grade school every time we returned from a major vacation I had to write a paper detailing something that I did during my time off. Well, here’s my “What I Did on Christmas Vacation” report but this time I promise not to include a hand drawn crayon picture at the bottom just to take up space. Come on, you can admit you used that trick too.

This year I took two weeks off during the holidays and since the company I work for shuts down between Christmas Eve and New Years day it only required burning up 3 days of vacation. Not a tough decision.

In the past when I’ve taken this time off I end up sleeping in every day and eating massive quantities of food with the thought that come January I’d start riding again.

This year was different! OK, not about the food or sleeping in part but I did manage to ride A LOT. Here was my typical schedule for the break.

  • Wake up (no alarm clocks)
  • Have a bowl of cereal which usually started with the word frosted and if I was lucky it also included the word cocoa.
  • Ride like a madman on the bike trainer for at least an hour. A couple of times we lengthened our rides to an hour and a half.
  • Check on the kids who were now awake and hanging out.
  • Take a shower
  • Play cards, eat, watch movies, eat, take a nap, eat, repeat…..

Even though I was not a nutritional role model during my vacation I ended up losing a pound over the break. I know, kind of weird. Must have been all of the riding.

Some things I learned while on vacation:
  • It’s easy to make cheese cake and even easier to eat mass quantities of it.
  • I can make decent bagels (raisin cinnamon, cheese, and jalapeño)
  • Jalapeno bagels make great sandwiches
  • Avatar was a great movie
  • Trainer rides while watching 24 are almost addictive

I’m really happy with my fitness level going into the month of January. I think I’ve talked myself into doing a one day double century (321 km) this summer. I think!