Saturday, December 17, 2011

Three Bears Ride

Went for a ride this morning.  I obviously don't have the cold weather riding down yet this year.  I was too cold, too warm, and just right, repeat....

Even though I couldn't get the my temperature right it still put a smile on my face.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Autumn Riding

Last week I went for a ride with Jenny and my oldest son. Rides in the fall rock because these is nothing to train for and the leafs crunching under your tires are a great sensation. We rode to the town next to ours and had some pie. Yum....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 Seattle to Portland (STP) Ride Report

In keeping with tradition below is my ride report for the 2011 version of the Seattle to Portland bike ride. This year I made the 204 mile journey in one day again but I rode it with some friends which was a great experience. This post is broken into short bullet points to aid those of us who have short attention spans.

July 9th 2011

  • Woke up at 2:15am
  • Wondered what the heck I was doing up this early
  • Put on all my cycling battle gear
  • Gave my pedals one last clean out with wd40 then lubed them up really good in hopes that they wouldn’t creek for 200 miles – didn’t work
  • Rode half a mile down the road to blockbuster where I would be picked up at 2:55am
  • Stood around in the parking lot next to my bike putting on sunscreen while the street sweeper guy stared at me. Hmmm….. 3am, standing in the dark putting on sunscreen standing next to a bike. Why was he staring at me?
  • Ride showed up and loaded up my bike. Street sweeper still staring at us
  • Finished applying sunscreen, ate a pre-ride PB&J, and took some precautionary vitamin I while we drove to Husky Stadium
  • Stood around in the parking lot nervously stretching while waiting for Mark and Brad to show up
  • Brad and Mark show up a couple of minutes later and we are ready to roll.
  • Since we go to the same church we decided to have a prayer before we took off. (Couldn’t hurt – Could help) Looking at each other we were all wearing our helmets but decided since they had holes in them we didn’t need to remove them.
  • Looked for lightning bolts after finishing prayer but none struck.
  • Took our first pedal strokes at 4am - ahhh
  • Almost took a wrong turn half a mile down the road but someone yelled out to us in the dark correcting our route. Thanks who ever you are.
  • Rode along Lake Washington and watched the sun come up. Could tell it was going to be a great day.
  • Once on the sun came up we established some groundrules for our paceline (5 minute pulls and try to keep it around 18 mph - That one didn’t last for long but it was a nice thought)
  • Pacelined until the first rest stop in Kent at REI headquarters
  • Just like last year the REI rest stop was stacked with tons of food, toilets, and pumping loud music but this year there was a disco Elvis there to greet you as you arrived. Nothing gets me more pumped to ride 200 miles than a disco Elvis with sideburns. Thank you, thank you very much.
  • While I was at the rest stop I posted to my facebook where we were and how things were going. My post was sent to Jenny’s phone and woke her up. Oops, sorry about that. She was in a hotel room in Chehalis getting ready to finish up the STP with some of her friends.
  • Regrouped into a paceline and rode to Puyallup feeling really good. Ray hit a pothole so big and it bounced his water bottle right out of its cage. We all went back to get it then talked to someone who just broke his collar bone hitting the same pothole. Not a good way to end your STP
  • Started climbing the Puyallup hill and spotted someone on a time trial bike equipped with a rear disc wheel and sporting a aero helmet riding along too. Brad slowed down to take a picture of him. 200 miles on a time trial bike? Ouch.
  • At the top of the hill I threw my STP Tyvek jacket in the garbage because it had done its job and I didn’t want to carry it for another 150 miles. (Don’t worry I chose the ugliest one I own. Orange, yellow and brown from 2009 but reminded me of the 70s a lot. In fact, I should have just given it to Elvis 20 miles back. He probably would have liked it.
  • Started following Brad in the paceline and notice that his back wheel was not straight. After a couple of minutes his back wheel started to click. He pulled over noticed that he had broken a spoke. To go with this he also broke a cleat about 2 miles earlier. Now that’s some bad luck. Arrg.
  • Got to the next rest stop and Brad asked to borrow a spoke wrench and bought a new cleat at the aid station. After 5 minutes he had attached his new cleat and trued up his wheel minus one spoke. I decided that Brad wasn’t just another cyclist but a super hero at that point.
  • Everyone put their heads down and pacelined it for the next 40 miles until we got to Centralia (Mile 100). The 18mph ground rule had been thrown out the window long ago and we were steadily averaging 20.
  • Got to the halfway point rest stop and was greeted with a congratulatory Creamcycle ice cream bar. That was like heaven on a stick after drinking luke warm Gatorade all morning.
  • Everyone didn’t make just one trip to the bathroom while at this rest stop but two. Very productive.
  • On the way out of town we stopped for a light next to an overly lifted 4X4 truck equipped with a BBQ in the back. The driver started “asking” us at the top of his lungs if we thought we didn’t have to stop for red lights and if we thought it was OK to run stop signs. I was the only one in the group who made eye contact because I was staring at him wondering if he really wanted an answer from us or if he was just venting because he was in a hurry to get home to watch NASCAR and we were slowing him down. I pointed at the red light that we were ALL stopped at and told him that he was preaching to the choir and it was all of the other cyclist he should be mad at. While I was saying this I was also simultaneously counting in my head how many stop signs that I had already run that morning. It must have been at least 40 but hey I yelled “clear” while I ran each of those stop signs so all 10,000 of my STP buddies could also run the same stop sign safely too. My preaching to the choir comment obviously ticked Mr 4 X 4 off because hit the gas and sped off leaving a huge cloud of fumes behind.
  • Started into the 40 mile rolling hill section and quickly realized that I was riding with a group of mountain goats. Ouch. 20+ mph uphill in a paceline? Ouch. Not being much of a climber I knew I was in trouble. I did hang on but my pulls were very anemic. Sorry guys.
  • Pulled into the next rest stop with two high school age kids playing some CCR on a guitar and drums. As we walked out of the bathroom and made our way to our bikes saw a guy sprinting for the bathrooms with fear in his eyes. Little did he realize that there were at least 10 people in front of him trying to get into the same bathroom. I really hoped the people in line had some mercy and let him go to the front.
  • Headed up and over the Longview bridge in a huge line of cyclist with logging trucks passing close by us. With no way to pass it was kind of nice to climb without hammering it up the hill. Screamed down the other side of the bridge and flew past the Welcome to Oregon sign. That felt good.
  • Started thinking about the ice cold Coke I was going to drink when I got to the last rest stop. It’s amazing how a coke can motivate you for miles of riding
  • Finally pulled into the last official rest stop and bought my celebratory Coke. It was awesome. Sat on the lawn for a bit resting and enjoying my coke. Talked to Jenny on the phone and it sounded like they were going to beat us to the finish line. Way to go.
  • With about 15 miles to go I was cooked. The last couple of hills that we encountered I just couldn’t keep up with my mountain goat friends so I let them go. I now know what if feels like to get dropped on the alpe d'huez with nothing left in the tank. It’s both humiliating and a huge relief at the same time. I was kind of hoping that I could just soft pedal it into Portland enjoying the sights but alas my buddies sat up and waited for me.
  • I put my head down once again and told my legs to shut up and caught back up to my riding buddies.
  • As we crossed a bridge into Portland I could see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood all at the same time. It was quite a sight.
  • The next 6 miles or so were a parade through downtown Portland. It really is amazing how many miles of bike lanes there are in Portland. They rock.
  • As we pulled into the finish line I was greeted by Jenny who had finished 30 minutes ahead of me and the kids. They presented me with a Lion again but this time is was even bigger.
  • Got a huge hug from Jenny but when I tried to give the kids a big sweaty hug they declined for some reason.

Final thoughts:

It was awesome to ride with 4 other guys

I made some really good fiends during the ride (thanks Dan, Mark, Brad, and Ray)

I’m still really ticked at myself for letting up with 15 miles to go. I know I could have ridden harder but my mind got the best of me. Arg… that makes me mad.

I think I’m finished with double centuries. They are lot of fun but the time commitment for training it out of control. I’m sticking with centuries from now on.

The STP still continues to be the best organized ride I’ve been on. It’s a ton of fun and amazing how they can get 10,000 people on bikes safely to Portland.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The New Cycling Business Casual?

Yesterday I went to REI for the STP packet pickup. I actually really look forward to standing in line to pick up bib numbers as it gets me excited for the BIG ride of the year. Anyway, as I was standing there this guy walked in wearing a white shirt and tie looking pretty business like. BUT, he was also wearing cycling shorts! Arrg.... Is this the new cycling business casual?

So, I pretended to send a text from my phone and took a picture so you could enjoy the visual as well. Probably a good thing the picture is fuzzy or you might need to wash your eyes out.

In the words of Happy Gilmore "If I dressed like that I'd have to kick my own rear end"

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Art of Preparation

There’s nothing like going for a bike ride but in my mind a close second is planning for a ride with a route that I’ve never been on before and staging all of my gear in preparation for the journey. 

Training season is in full force now for the Seattle to Portland double century so my training rides are starting to get ridiculously long.  Being that they are so long every second of the wee hours of the morning are critical.  So, I took a page out of the firefighters play book and started meticulously staging my cycle gear so I could throw it all on in a matter of seconds to get out the door.  It kind of makes me feel like I should slide down a fire pole before I slip into my cycling gear in the mornings.  A NASCAR pit crew would be jealous of my clothing application efficiency. 

Here’s the drill for a Saturday morning ride. 

Alarm goes off a 4:30 am
  • Have a full fledged argument with myself…
Self: What was I thinking….
Self: Why am I awake this early on a Saturday….
Self: Maybe the rain is coming down in biblical proportions in which case I would be forced to sleep in…..
Self: OK Mike, roll your rear end out of bed.  You’ll be glad you got up in a couple of hours
  • Finally stumble out of bed and look for a monsoon out the window
  • No luck
  • Stumble to the bathroom where my cycling gear is staged
  • Jump into my cycling gear in 9.2 seconds and apply all applicable lotions and creams.  (if you ride you know what I’m talking about, if not you don’t want to know)
  • Eat a bowl of granola while checking my fantasy baseball team – grumble because my team sucks.
  • Brush teeth
  • Kiss Jenny goodbye
  • Push off for another great training ride/adventure
I love this time of year. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What you missed this morning

This morning I rolled out at 5:30am for a training ride to some light rain which persisted throughout the ride.  Not perfect conditions but it was a good ride anyway.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is That the Sun?

I love living in the Seattle area. There are trees everywhere you look, awesome places to ride right outside your door, and in most people's opinion there's no such thing as clothes that don't match. This place rocks! The other thing I love is it rains so much here that when there is a rare sunny day in the spring no one wastes a minute staying inside.

So, last Saturday morning I took full advantage of the sun and went for a ride. I was greeted as I wandered out our front door with the sun peaking through the tulips.

As I started out, I was clad in plenty of layers of warm clothes but as the day wore on my jersey pockets got stuffed full with rolled up clothes. By the end, I was down to cycling shorts, a short sleeve jersey and one very large smile. It was nice to ride outside in the warm weather again.

Just what the doctor ordered. 73 miles of sun exposure Vitamin D.

Sun, I hope we meet again very soon!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mauled by a Grizzly

They say if you’re out in the wilderness with a group of people and a grizzly bear suddenly charges at you showing its huge claws and nasty teeth you don’t have to be the fastest runner in the group to survive. You just have to be faster than the slowest runner.

As it has rained day after day this winter I’ve found myself hitting the trainer for rides a lot more than I would like to. Trainer rides are decent for keeping your fitness level up but what you may not know is they are really great for giving you an incredible sense of determination. Trainer rides are mind numbingly boring to say the least so in order to keep going you’ve got to talk yourself into not quitting. That’s where the determination comes in.

If you were to see word bubbles by people while doing trainer rides I’m sure you would see statements such as:

“Don’t quit, don’t quit”
“What the heck was I thinking?”
“I’m the man, I’m the man, I can do this, never mind”

Trainer rides are tough mentally.

Lately, my training motivation has been to avoid getting mauled by the grizzly. I know it sounds kind of strange so let me explain.

This summer I’m planning on riding the Seattle to Portland (STP) ride in one day again but this time I’m going to be riding with a bunch of buddies. We are planning on doing a lot of training rides all over the northwest this spring leading up to the big day in July. I think about these upcoming training rides a lot while I’m sitting on the trainer grinding away at the miles. Sometimes I visualize being at the back of a pace line with my buddies and watching them slowly pull away from me. This visualization gives me an extra boost of energy and motivation as I struggle to virtually hang on because there is NO WAY that I’m ever going to let that happen. I will not be the slowest and thus will not get attacked by the looming grizzly.

I don’t have a need to be the fastest rider in our group putting the hurt on the rest of my buddies but when it comes to being the slowest rider in a lot of pain just trying to hang on the back that’s just not going to happen if I can help it. My goal is to be one of the riders in the middle of the pack laughing it up with the rest of the goof balls and enjoying the ride. Of course I’ll take my pulls in the front when it’s my turn but my training this year will be all about the enjoyment to be had in the middle of the pack.

The funny thing is it takes a lot of hard work and determination to get to the point fitness wise where you can be that guy in the middle having so much fun. So during the wet winter month trainer rides there may be a lot of virtual grizzlies trying to chase me down but trust me, none of them are going to catch me because I’ll be safely tucked in the middle of the pack right where I want to be.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Confessions of a Cookie-aholic

Hello, my name is Mike and I’m a cookie-aholic.

(This is where you say Hi Mike, it’s OK to say it out loud, I’ll wait)

Let me tell you a little about my story. It all started at the beginning of Christmas break from work with a simple plate of chocolate chip cookies. As I toiled and slaved around the house, every time I would walk by that lonely plate of cookies I would free one of them its isolation by eating it. I did this with full knowledge that I could quit eating those incredibly delicious and warm chocolate chip cookies any time I wanted because I have unbelievable willpower; but I just didn’t want to. As I finished up my chores I noticed that the plate of cookies was empty. Hmmmm….. the kids must have snuck in and polished them off when I wasn’t looking. It couldn’t have been me!

Well, lucky for me Jenny went on a cookie making binge after my first cookie encounter of the Christmas break. The next batch that she made were peanut butter cookies rolled in sugar with a Hersey kiss on top of them for an extra boost of energy. Remember when I said that I had unbelievable willpower? That might have been a little bit of an over exaggeration because while I cleaned up the kitchen one day I polished off at least 25 of those bad boys. I probably could have eaten more had there been more to eat but alas I ate every last Hersey kiss cookie in the house. I may have over done it a little bit but my mom would have been proud of me because I was a good little eater and finished everything on my plate and everyone else’s too.

The next batch that Jenny made were peanut butter cookies rolled in sugar with a peanut butter cup in the middle of them. These cookies are the mother of all cookies and make chocolate chip cookies look like a bat boy in the minor leagues. They are the Super Bowl and World Series of cookies all rolled into one. They are that good. Willpower? Who needs willpower when there are peanut butter, peanut butter cup cookies in the house? Not to be out done I polished off all of those too. At this point my cookie eating episodes had gone from a social event to an individual endurance sport.

Finally, I had to ask Jenny to quit making cookies because I was starting to even impress myself with how many cookies I could eat in one sitting.

As of today I have been cookie free for 4 days! It’s a challenge but I’m succeeding.

So maybe I have a little bit of a cookie eating problem but I did do a lot of trainer rides for at least an hour during the break so I’m sure it evens out. Don't do the math for me. It evens out! Now I just need to figure out why the dryer has shrunk my pants to the point where they are really tight.

Carrot stick anyone?