Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Pains of Anticipation

Think of waterfalls
Think of waterfalls
Think of waterfalls
Think of waterfalls

That is how the song goes that my kids sing to each other over and over again. This song is only sung when one of the kids mentions that they might need to stop at the next rest stop to use the restroom when we are on the road. “No hurry really just when we see one” is usually the tone of the conversation. Then the waterfalls song begins from all of the other kids which usually insights an immediate fit of bladder rage and panic and the emergency search for a bathroom is on by the driver. Of course all of the kids in the car think this is hilarious except for the bladder victim.

It really is amazing how the thought of running water or actual running water has such power over someone’s bladder. Luckily, this song has never been able to employ its super power over me and honestly I’m hoping that it stays that way. Recently though I’ve discovered a distant relative to the waterfalls song that has total power and control over me.

A planned cycling rest break.

I know what you’re saying, “Mike, how could this be”? I know it’s kind of weird but here’s how it works.

I’m a planner, I love to plan out cycling routes and when I’m in the planning mode I also try to factor in stops for natural breaks along the way. It's all part of the plan.

Last month I was on a training ride which included a stop at Marymoor park in Redmond WA. I chose this as the half way point for my training ride because it’s a really nice park and more importantly it has the nicest restrooms that I’ve ever seen in a park. That’s how good of a planner I am. These restrooms are very clean and most importantly they are designed in such a manner that each patron gets an entire restroom to themselves equipped with a fully locking door. It’s like the Holy Grail of park restrooms. Anyway, I think you get my point. They are nice.

As I got about 5 miles from this rest stop I started thinking about how many snickers bars I was going to eat and how much Gatorade powder I was going to add to my bike bottles. You know cycling geek stuff. I also took a mental note of how my hands and feet were feeling since they had been giving me trouble on earlier rides. Finally, I took a mental note of my need for a natural break which luckily was very low.

As I started thinking about the blessed Marymoor park restrooms and what a great route I had devised it was like my kids had started singing “Think of Waterfalls, Think of Waterfalls” only this time it was working! With each pedal stroke the virtual waterfalls song was getting louder and louder until I was considering if I was going to make it to the Holy Grail of park restrooms at all. I was in some urgent pain.

As I entered the park I spotted a blue port-a-potty over by the remote control airplane field and I did my best impersonation of Mark Cavendish sprinting for a stage win only there would be no talking on the phone at the end of this race. As I neared the blue structure I threw my bike in the grass and entered the port-a-potty as fast as I could. I was both relieved and saddened at the same time because I hadn't made it to my planned destination. Dejected I rode my bike another tenth of a mile to my beloved Marymoor Park restroom equipped with a fully locking door and ate my snickers bar just outside of it in shame.

At that point I decided that I would no longer tell myself (my bladder to be specific) of any upcoming rest stops or include grand rest stops in my route planning ever again. Obviously, my bladder just can’t take the anticipation.

It's the element of surprise from now on!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2010 STP Ride Report

Rather than bore everyone with a lot of flowery words, excessive adjectives and the overuse of the word pain, I’m going to follow the tradition that I started last year by doing my Seattle to Portland (STP) ride report in short attention span bullet points. If you’re into twitter just think of this post as an over abundance of twitter posts. So here we go.

Pre Ride
  • As I wrote a parting blog post the night before the STP I quoted the mantra that riders recite at the Leadville 100 before the race. “I will commit, I will not quit” This is a great quote but I mistyped it originally as “I will commit, I will NOW quit”. This made me a little nervous.
  • Went out with the family to Pizza Hut for some pre ride guilt free eats. Ahhhhhh
  • Started feeling a little nauseated
  • Started getting a slight headache
  • Started getting a toothache
  • Decided that I had become a mental case and went to bed

  • Woke up at 3am
  • Got riding gear on
  • Took some precautionary measures by taking some Vitamin I and applying liberal amounts of chamois cream
  • Prayed mightily that I would survive the day
  • Jenny got out of bed so she could drive me to Husky Stadium
  • Got to Husky Stadium at 4am and by 4:05 I was on my bike and riding
  • The official ride didn’t start until 4:45am but there were plenty of other riders just like me who decided to start a little early.
  • Noticed that another rider was following close behind me then he asked me how I was following the route in the dark. I told him that I had the route downloaded to my garmin and he looked at ease.
  • 10 seconds later my Garmin beeped at me because I had gone off of the course.
  • My new buddy and I made a U turn and got back on course
  • Spotted a lot of flashing blinkies up in the distance and eventually caught up to a pack of other riders who had started early too.
  • Felt a lot like a Sooner for taking off 45 minutes early and then riding through the dark with another pack of rebels.
  • Noticed that my head light was by far the brightest in the bunch. Thanks Kanyon Kris
  • Rode along Lake Washington and watched the sun come up
  • Rode through Renton and various over cities with Police stopping traffic at all of the major intersections for us. Kind of felt like a rock star. Kind of.
  • Stopped at the first rest stop at mile 25 and listened to really loud techno music while consuming a clif bar and chocolate milk. I just can’t pass up free food.
  • Felt kind of like throwing up after eating that clif bar.
  • Got passed by a peloton of at least 40 riders taking up an entire lane of traffic.
  • Decided this was my chance to experience what it’s like to cruise along with a peloton so I leaped on the back and worked my way through to the middle of the pack.
  • Hung with the peloton for 30 minutes and all I could hear was the constant whir of tires. It was pretty exhilarating.
  • All of the sudden most of the peloton pulled over to the side of the road and proceeded to engage in a natural break. Some while still straddling their bikes. That’s what I call dedication. Don’t worry Jenny, I just kept riding but couldn’t keep the smirk off of my face.
  • Discovered that my legs were cooked from attempting to hang with the peloton too long. Would pay for that adventure for several more hours.
  • Stopped at rest stop mile 44 and had another Cif bar because it was free.
  • Walked across a huge football field to get to the bank of porta-poties. Had a long discussion with everyone else making the hike about their placement. Still kind confused on that one.
  • Pulled out of the rest stop feeling like I was about to throw up again. Did I eat another Clif bar? Decided that I’m a slow learner.
  • Followed someone with a Mellow Johnny’s jersey on for miles as crazed pacelines passed me filled with tree trunk thigh riders.
  • Pulled into the 100 mile rest stop at 10:45am and declined riding through the misting station and free offers of an ice cream bar because it was still only 55 degrees outside. I could have sworn it was July.
  • Made a mad dash for the porta-potty line and upon finishing up my business had another free chocolate milk given to me by none other than Miss Centrailia Washington. Hard to turn something down like that.
  • Decided to stick with Gatorade, Snickers, and an occasional gel for the rest of the ride. Lucky for me I run a lot better on cheap fuel.
  • At mile 120 got detoured onto a sidewalk because we had ridden up to a small town parade.
  • Finally met up with Jenny on the side of the road. It was really nice to see her.
  • Dumped off my headlight, rain pants, coat and some Clif bars that I had packed in the car and filled up my seat wedge with enough snickers bars to make it to Portland.
  • Put my head down and rode, then rode some more.
  • Was riding in a really long paceline and when a car drove by and honked at us in anger. The first 10 cyclists in line gave the driver the finger. It was a prefect example of a cycling mob mentality. I laughed about that one for at least 10 minutes. (Jenny don’t worry, I didn’t participate in the gesture)
  • Stopped at a convenience store at mile 160 for some Gatorade and stood behind some guy trying to buy a hunting and fishing license. The lady behind the counter wouldn’t sell him one because the computer had him blocked. He finally confessed that he was way behind on his child support and that was why the state of Washington had blocked him. Way to go Washington State.
  • Got an incredible case of “Are we there yet” syndrome for the next 40 miles.
  • Pulled into mile 180 rest stop, bought a 12oz Coke and drank it while sitting in the shade. It tasted great and normally this gives me a huge boost to make it the rest of the way but realized that no amount of sugar was going to do the trick at this point.
  • At mile 189 my Garmin 305 batteries gave up the ghost. This didn’t keep me from looking down at it every minute or so to check my speed though. Some habits are tough to break.
  • At mile 190 I decided that I was done drinking because I was sick of searching for porta-potties.
  • Pulled into Portland and climbed the steepest hill of the entire ride without passing out. At this point I decided that I was really going to make it.
  • Got detoured through the heart of downtown Portland because a bridge was under construction.
  • Rode with 10 or so other riders through at least 20 stop lights. Laughed as most of them were so fatigued that they were having a hard time clipping into their pedals every time we started.
  • Ran a couple of red lights just to keep up with the rest of the pack. There was no way I was going to get lost in downtown Portland after riding 200 miles and add additional miles.
  • Pulled into Holiday Park to a huge finish line celebration where my whole family greeted me equipped with a sign and a stuffed lion. Nice touch.
  • Gave Jenny a big kiss.
  • To their horror I gave both of my daughters a big sweaty hug just for fun. They didn’t think it was so funny.
  • Double Century done!
  • 208 miles, 12.5 hours of riding time, 15 hours total, 4am – 7pm.

  • That was the most focused ride that I’ve ever done.
  • At some point during the ride every muscle hurt in my body but never at the same time. They would each take turns hurting then feel better. I’m really glad that they decided to take turns and not all revolt at the same time.
  • That was the fastest century, followed by another century that I have ever ridden. Pacelines Rock!
  • I thought that I would never want to do another double century after this one but I’m actually considering it if I can talk other people into doing it with me next time.

Special Thanks To
  • First and foremost, I need to thank Jenny for putting up with all of my early morning and late night training and constant talk about cycling. I’d also like to thank her for showing a mean streak when I would call her out in the middle of nowhere standing in the rain. Toward the end I just knew she wouldn’t pick me up. That’s exactly what I needed
  • A big thank you to my kids for suffering through the fact that their father is a cycling geek. Get used to it, it’s not going away.
  • I’d also like to thank the inventors of chamois cream
  • Thanks to my mother in law for virtually riding along with me on her wii fit. I’m not sure how that works but my guess is it doesn’t involve chamois cream, snot rockets, Lycra, or rude drivers.
  • Thanks to Jack Bauer for being tortured and torturing so many people during the 7 seasons of 24 that we watched during the winter months on a trainer. You made trainer rides “almost” enjoyable.
  • Finally, thanks to the Cascade Bike club for putting on the most organized bike ride that I’ve ever been on. I’m not sure how they logistically deal with 10,000 cyclist over 200 miles but year in and year out they do a great job.

Will I be back next year? I’m not sure but I don’t think it would take much persuading if others wanted to join me. Any takers?

Friday, July 16, 2010

2010 STP Predictions and Game Plan

Everything is packed, I'm super hydrated and my STP bib number has been placed on my jersey of choice.

My predictions for tomorrow:
Frantically search for a port-a-potties
Wonder what the heck I'm doing
Ride some more
Repeat until I ride 204 miles.

I'm planning on starting at 4am and finishing sometime before the sun goes down.

My game plan:
Pray for strong tailwinds and do some major wheel sucking

Unless I have a major mechanical problem they are going to have to pry my hands off of the handle bars before I quit.

"I will commit, I will not quit"

Ride report coming next week.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dress Rehearsals

Wikipedia states that a dress rehearsal is used by professional performers to ensure that all the details of a performance are adequately prepared for and coordinated.

Let’s get things clear here I’m not a professional or performer but I have been on a lot of training rides lately in preparation for my double century and they are starting to feel a lot like dress rehearsals.

My last dress rehearsal was a 140 mile affair where I ended up learning a lot of things that you may or may not find interesting. Here’s what I discovered. .

Sunglasses somehow get crud on the inside of them
After riding 80 miles I noticed that either my eyes were starting to rapidly degenerate or there was a film of crud on my sunglasses. Either way I really couldn’t see much. When I took them off to wipe them down (while riding with no hands – that’s for you LizzyLou) I noticed that the problem wasn’t on the outside of the lenses but the inside. What? On the inside? Honestly, I had no idea that I had the ability to shoot tiny sweat pellets from my face to the inside of my sunglasses. What a skill. After giving them a good wipe down and putting them back on I discovered that all I did was smear a lot of tiny sweat beads around thus making my sunglasses unwearable. Not a good situation. Next time I’m going to pack something small to clean off the inside of my glasses so I can see the road. It’s just healthier that way.

I have an enemy in Snohomish
A month ago as I rode through the hills of Snohomish a rather large gentleman wearing some kind of lumberjack suspenders in a small pickup honked and yelled out his window as he passed me. Well, last Friday the exact same guy passed me again honking his horn and yelling but this time he threw an additional enhancement by giving me the finger as he drove by. What at the chances that of the three times that I’ve ridden through that area in the last month he would be out on the road twice? Somehow and someway I have made a cycling enemy in the hills of Snohomish. Lucky for me I didn’t see any NRA, country music, or NASCAR stickers on his little pickup so I’m probably in the clear for a random firearm showing up in our next encounter.

Plastic bags
On the last two rides over 100 miles that I’ve done it has rained for at least an hour during each of these rides. On both of these rides I haven’t prepared properly for rain which forced me to waddle dripping wet into a convenience store and beg for a small plastic bag so I could put my phone and camera in it. I know what you’re saying right now. Why carry around all of that extra weight of a small zip lock baggie if you don’t need it. I agree but in this case I’m going to throw caution to the wind and carry around a zip lock baggie just in case it rains from now on. My prediction is if I carry around this baggie it won’t ever rain again when I’m riding.

A 12oz can of Coke could be considered as rocket fuel
When I was at mile 110 last week I stopped and bought a can of Coke. In addition to being the one of the best tasting things on the planet after riding a significant number of miles, a can of flat coke in your system could be considered rocket fuel. It’s amazing how a huge blast of sugar in your system completely changes your countenance. After that refreshing beverage was in my system I felt like I could ride another 100 miles. I’m going to use this as my secret weapon in the future. Sort of like Batman’s grappling hook that he occasionally pulls out of his Bat Utility Belt®.

I could really do this thing
After all of these training rides I think that I have actually convinced myself that I can do the double century. Ah, the sweet feeling of denial.

Well, the 17th is the big day. Either way, it will be a long but spectacular ride. I’ll let you know how it goes.