Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Wish for Christmas

The elderly of Council Bluffs are in need this season.

Yesterday, the Real Wes J and I were out riding the CB trails during the lunch hour. At 22F, it was brisk outside, but bearable without much wind. Anyway, on our return trip, we exited the Manawa trail, went through a CB trailer park and continued west along 34th Ave to connect to the Riverfront trail. As we approached 24th St, we moved to the turning lane to allow a car to pass. A second car suddenly pulls in behind us in the turning lane. This car's driver was impatient and was getting really close to our bicycles. With a car in the center lane, and this one now behind us, we had nowhere to go. Fortunately, at the traffic signal, we were able to give way to allow the car to turn right.

As we made way for the car to pass, the driver of the vehicle, an old woman, rolls down her window, points to our bikes, then the sidewalk, and opens her mouth:

Granny: There's a place for that

She's not at all happy that we were holding her up from very important business.

Now it was my turn to open my mouth:

Me: What's your hurry, lady? Did you leave your iron on back home or something?

She merges her fat Buick into traffic, then sticks her bare hand out the window and extends the middle finger.

I was flipped off by somebody's grandma.

But rather than be bitter, I chose the higher ground and offered a plea for help. So I got out my Big Chief tablet and scratched out the following note:

Dear Santa,

Times are bad, especially for an elderly woman of CB this Christmas season. Could you kindly provide a new clothes iron for her? It doesn't have to be deluxe model, just one equipped with an auto-shutoff feature.

And while you're at it, how about also throwing in a nice pair of Isotoner gloves? That way, she wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of frost bite on her middle finger after giving the bird to another cyclists who asks her if she left a major appliance on -- like her oven -- while every timber of her house is consumed in total fire loss.

Times are bad, but I know I can count on you, Santa. Thanks in advance for bringing good holiday cheer.

Sincerely,
WSCG

Friday, October 22, 2010

Easy Friday -- My Bike Has Been Sullied

Someone has defiled my cyclocross bike with a Hawkeyes Club sticker. For Shame, for shame!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cri·turf·i·um

Behold, as of today, September 22nd, the waning rays of summer have slipped into the yore of golden yesterday. Autumn is upon us and that can only mean one thing. Actually two: we're all going to get sick and tired of Shim complaining about why there aren't more Fall mountain bike races on the calendar this year. The other is that Autumn marks the beginning of Cyclocross season.

Now some folks (Shim) deride cyclocross as "lawn racing" events because the race courses are primarily on grass. And some (actually just Shim) refer to it as lawn racing because they (he) hate(s) running so much that it ruins an otherwise good bike race. That, and one other person (Shim *yawn*) likes to goad Mark Savery, who is currently besides himself that the 'lawn racing' season is finally upon us.

But while Shim calls it lawn racing, I prefer the term 'criturfium'. Here's how it's defined:

Cri·turf·i·um
[krahy-teerf-ee-uhm]
- noun, plural -te·ri·a
1. a timed, short-circuit bicycle race conducted over grass, sand, mud and/or snow with obstacles requiring dismounts and shouldering the bike;
2. a closed-circuit bike path burned into the sod of a local city park or unsuspecting private property owner, often by encroachment. See Trespassing.
3. bicycle lawn racing

I prefer calling it a criturfium because the races are similar to a roadie's criteriums, or crits. Like crits, cyclocross races are conducted on a short circuit course less than one mile in length over a set period of time, usually around an hour. The courses are often serpentine with hairpin turns, which increase the risk of collisions with other cyclists. But while the turns and other rides are the biggest risks in crits, cyclocross races also have physical barriers and steep hill climbs that force the rider to shoulder his/her bike over various terrains including grass, sand, mud and occasionally snow.

One might wonder, with all the risks, why has cyclocross become so popular?

I've done some thinking about this and comes to this. Cyclocross is not the fastest growing demographic segment because of the opinion of the competitors. No, you ask any cyclist what they really feel about riding and shouldering their bike for an hour at maximum effort and the honest ones will tell you straight up: it sucks.

So if not the cyclist's that's behind the popularity, then who?

It's the fan who comes to watch the criturfiums who are clamoring for more, more, more. And do you know who makes up this demographic? Friends and family, and they're hungry for action.

You see, humans are naturally wired to be attracted to pain and suffering. This is evidenced from the headlines on the nightly news to the most popular sports on television: football and NASCAR, where gratuitous violence is commonplace. Yes, and right next to their team covering the spread, the people want to see all the carnage go down, up-front and center in HD.

Like NASCAR, Cyclocross races dispense the titillating thrills that the fans seek.

Indeed, 'cross races can be therapeutic. Even cathartic. For instance, does your spouse leave dirty socks on the bedroom floor every day? Encourage him/her to enter the next race. When they do, make sure you get a front row seat by the barriers. It'll be pay dirt. And, the $25 race entrance fee easily beats the shrink's deductible. Win-Win! But the real winners of a cyclocross race aren't the few who climb onto the podium after the race; no, it's the children who squeal with delight when they see Dad's ungraceful attempt at a running mount onto the bike. Uh-oh, groin shot! You tell me those kids aren't enjoying this. Indeed, it's sweet revenge for making them eat eat the tuna noodle casserole for dinner.

Carnage. Cylcocross. The people love it.

So here's to criturfiums, lawn racing or whatever you want to call it.

Can somebody ring a cow bell already?

Let the races begin, bloody American style!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mammon

The pre-race ritual of two shots of espresso had to be altered. Though I arrived at the downtown Starbucks 20 minutes before gun time, and the line was only two deep, the customer at the counter was a quarter of the way through the list of 17 drinks for the Omaha Fashion Show's hair & makeup crew. Yes, 17 drinks, each with their own requirements. Her bill was $74.45 and she was put off because she hadn't collected enough money from the hair divas. She reached into her purse and produced $75. She kept the change. I'm sorry to rant, but that's just wrong. Get a couple travelers and be on your way. Geez!!!

As time was short, I took a small cup of bold roast and dashed to the starting area to complete warmup.

It was about 50F when the gun went off. The streets were still wet from the previous night's cold front that blew through, the remnants of which greeted us with a slight headwind as we race towards north Omaha. After the initial surge of the first mile's mostly downhill grade, I settled into race pace. Mile two breezed by before the cardio started feeling the shock of running right below anaerobic threshold. That's when I saw it: there was a wad of cash submerged in a puddle on the street. Cash?!? A double take. Yes, there was green, cold hard cash, some with zeros on them, ripe for the taking beneath a couple inches of standing water.

But there was the problem, you see, as I was currently sharing the lead with another runner.

Relax, this wasn't yesterday's Omaha Corporate cup. The race I'm talking about was the 2006 Run With A Heart 10k that shares much of the same course as the Corporate Cup.

Anyway about this cash. Had runner next to me seen it? It didn't appear so. So I called it out to his attention. He thought I was bluffing, like "Hey McFly -- your shoe's untied."

He wasn't having any of me 'gettin' in his grill'.

Thus a moral dilemma unfolded before me: go for the ego or the quick money? Having never won a race before, I was highly motivated for the win. But then again, I could sellout for the easy cash...

Ego or Mammon. What would you do?

The cash option felt dirty, so I went for the win and pressed on. Ultimately, I overcame the other runner in the final quarter mile to win the race. For my efforts, I was awarded a small trophy and two Qdoba burrito coupons.

Looking back, I feel like Monty Hall had revealed a donkey behind curtain number two. Bwaa wahn wahn wahn...

Anyway, I thought of this yesterday as I passed the exact spot where I saw that wad of cash years ago. Not that there wasn't a cash prize in yesterday's Omaha Corporate Cup 10K race.

The big deal about the 2010 Omaha Corporate Cup was that for the first time in its 30 year history, there was a cash purse that paid three deep ($500,$300,$200) for the top males and females. A local race promoter, Speedy Mart/Shell, had put up $2000 in cash prizes with the hopes of making it Omaha's most competitive 10K.

It worked. Eric Rasmussen of Omaha's Team Nebraska Brooks won the race in 30:42, only 21 seconds off of Tim Dooling's 1988 course-record and nearly a minute and a half faster than the winning time of last year's race. Melissa Todd of Kansas City Smoke claimed the women's victory nearly two minutes faster than the previous year's top female.

Congratulations to the victors, to the American Lung Association and to the race organizers & volunteers for putting together a very competitive race. Yesterday's race was the most competitive 10K I've ever competed in.

Elite race results

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Carb Unloading Revisited

I attended the Trek store ride last night with six others, including Shim, E O'B, Joe Savoie, Trek store's Paul, Fred Galata and Leah Kleager. About 10 miles into the ride, just after the pace was picking up, I rolled up next to Shim. Something like the following conversation occurred through the next few pace line rotations.

WSCG: I'm not planning on hitting it very hard tonight.

Shim: Why not?

WSCG: I'm resting the legs for the Corporate Cup 10K this weekend.

(I didn't tell him that I was also on day three of carb-unloading and the needle was nearing empty.)

Shim: The Corporate Cup 10k is on Sunday. That's like five days away. [Joe] Friel says that you should do an intense effort 48 to 72 hours before a big race.

~ the paceline splits us; onto the next rotation ~

WSCG: Friel was talking about cycling. Running's different.

Shim: Yeah, running's different because you wear those gay little running shorts and a visor.

Nice. Fast forward a few miles down the road when I shared this encounter with Leah, who as a fellow runner/triathlete, could appreciate both the running aspect and the response from our dear friend Shim. Regarding the running shorts, Leah asked me if I reminded Shim that he wears spandex and shaves his legs. I hadn't. At the moment, the best I could come up with was how fantastic he looked in his white-trash sleeveless cycling jerseys.

Now back to intense efforts. I partially agreed with Shim's reference to Joe Friel: a few intense efforts probably wouldn't hurt. So when he lit it up on the second to last hill on Hwy 36 approaching 72nd St, I jumped on his wheel. By the time we crested it, my heart rate must have been in the mid 180s.

The rest of the ride to Ft Calhoun was a typical Wednesday night affair, with all the attacks/counter attacks and high tempo pace lines until the final sprint at the end of the Omaha Trace. It felt good.

At Ft Calhoun, I glanced beyond the candy bars and coca-cola and simply filled the water bottles.

In the midst of Boyer's Chute 20 minutes later, I felt the first clunk-clunk of a bonk coming on. I noted there were the hills of Ft Calhoun and many miles still ahead. Also, it wasn't my imagination that ominously dark rain clouds were threatening.

picture courtesy of Jonathan Neve

I punched it up the lower half of Ft Calhoun and then let Galata pull me to the second one. When I stood to get over the second hill, I discovered the classic signs of glucose deprivation: extreme fatigue in the quadriceps.

To add to the misery, the skies opened. While lightning flashed, a torrential downpour with 40mph wind gusts drenched us. Unfortunately, we were totally exposed without any nearby shelter. By now, I was struggling to hang on to the wheel in front of me. I think we were going about 12 mph. That only lasted a few minutes before I got popped off.

Bonk achieved.

I find bonking very funny. Roughly an hour beforehand, I was attacking uphill at 26mph and felt great. Yet in a short span of time, my ride quality had degraded to the point that I could barely ride a straight line.

Thankfully, the group sat up and waited for me, and we all managed to make it back to the store safely under clearing skies.

Carb loading ensued shortly after. I ate three Kripsy Kremes at the bike shop. They were delicious. Shim, Leah and I then went to Qdoba where upon I destroyed a burrito, chips and guacamole.

What a night.

Next week looks to be the final Wedneday night ride of the year from the Trek Store. We depart at 5:30PM. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

148 Days and Counting

This blog's been silent lately. Through my ruminating, I have come to realize that I'm slightly depressed because I hate this time of the year. Yes, cooler weather can be nice, but...

I live for the long days of summer. To have sunlight from 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM more than makes up for the inconvenience of the heat and humidity.

I've always felt this way. When I was a kid, I lived at our local swimming pool from morning swimming practice at 8:00 AM till when it closed each night at 9:00 PM. I wasn't just a fixture at that pool. I was the gate keeper: first in and last out each day. The sparkle of the sun off the concrete deck, chlorine bleached hair, a sun-burned nose, and the artificially-laced, coconut-smelling Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil was heaven on earth.

So when August rolled around and friends spoke of the coming school year, I'd slip away to do another cannonball off the high dive. It's not so much that I disliked school, but more that I hated the thought of summer ending.

Sigh.

This summer's been a good one. Lots of great training rides peppered with racing, and five fantastic days in the mountains with my brothers have produced many lasting memories. Even the injury to my shoulder, which I still feel today, comes secondary to the events of the past 90 days.

So now that August is nearly over, I find myself feeling gloomy about the transition to Autumn once more. Bear with me a moment as I lament and say my piece.

So long, white pants! Adios, 16 hours of daily sunlight! (And soon) Good bye Wednesday Night Worlds!

And yet, there is hope: only 148 days until the 2011 Vernal Equinox. That doesn't sound too long to wait.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bring Out The Polka Dots

Last night was one for the memories.

Out from the lurking shadows emerged my friend, the one and only Real Wes J, joining in his Omaha Trek Store Wednesday Night Worlds (WNW) group ride.

Donning the King of the Mountains jersey, the Real Wes J made a bold statement in the ranks of the WNW peleton.

Can you spot the red and white polka-dots?


Ah, there's our boy


Here he is again drafting the wheel of Bryan Redemske


Where did he g-- oh, got him, sneaking into the lower left frame


A wise tactician, Wes waits for his moment


And there he goes. The Real WesJ drops me while fending for the KOM points on the final sprint to Ft Calhoun

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tell Them Why My Company Is So Hip, Munson

The new Corporate Cycling Challenge poster just came out at the company I work for. To the casual observer, it may look like just another promotional poster. It's not.

I know of two people -- actually one now that Sheldon Brown has passed -- that could take one look at this poster and immediately tell you the cycling innovation that is being suggested here.

Go on already Munson, tell them why we're the hipsters of cycling.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Freak Show

Last weekend I was working in the yard, clearing the remnants of two eight-foot sections of cedar fence that were crushed by a fallen limb from a recent storm. It wasn't fun. It was hot and humid and the fence had a lot of under growth and weeds. The hardest part was removing the concrete post hole. That one required renting a jack hammer.

Somewhere along the way, I brushed up against some poison oak. That plus the heat and humidity caused havoc on my immune system. An allergic reaction erupted into huge patches of hives on my legs and arms. Due to itching, sleep was miserable on Sunday night. Work was barely tolerable on Monday. But when I awoke Tuesday morning, things were starting to get downright ugly.

Did Ever see that scene in Hitch when Will Smith discovers that the food he's just eaten is known allergen?
That's how I felt when I looked into the mirror Tuesday. My face, arms and knees had puffed up considerably. Maybe not as dramatic as Mr. Smith's. But still, a freak show was in the making on 52nd Street. For example, normally I'm able to cup my wrist with my thumb and middle finger. But on Tuesday, the swelling in the wrist created a gap of nearly an inch. My appearance also spooked Katherine when she woke up. But at least my dog still wagged her tail in the morning when I fed her.

Over the next 48 hours, I popped Benedryl like Pez, called in sick, took a couple ice baths, got a doctor's appointment and filled a prescription for Prednisone. The Prednisone is the one that is finally getting things under control.

Man, if there was only a carnival in town. I could have made some good money.

Post Script:
I still managed to make a brief appearance at the Wednesday night group ride. There's this Italian restaurant called "Mangias" at 90th and Irvington Road that the ride passes every week. I've always wondered how the pizza was. Tonight, I went to find out. And when the group came rolling by at 6:23, I let others in on the pizza too while running alongside the peleton like one of those nut jobs at the grand tours. I didn't hold back. I was shouting pigeon-Italian while offering slices right out of the box to whomever wanted one. Shim, Paul and a couple others took a slice.

"Buona fortuna," I yelled as they pedaled down the road. With pizza dough and mozzarella cheese in their guts, they needed a dose of good luck when the sprint to Ft Calhoun kicked in.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jens Voigt Spotted on Old Yeller?

It's been pointed out to me that Jens "Shut Up Legs" Voigt was photographed on a loaner bike after crashing on Stage 16 of TDF. The loaner bike bears a remarkable resemblance to my road bike known as Old Yeller.

You be the judge.

Jens Voigt on the loaner bike

WSCG himself on Old Yeller

Something doesn't quite look right. Yeah, someone photo-shopped Jens to make it appear that he's on Old Yeller.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Experience Gained

Cat. 4 racing has been good to me. Yes, there have been successes. Even a victory or two. But it's more than that. There have been adversities and failures that have taught me much more about racing than success ever has.

At the Cornhusker State Games TT last summer, Cat.4 competitors Pete Duryea and Brandon Fenster put the fear of TT discipline in me. More than ever, to be good at time trialing, I realized that I would have to spend time in aero position, in the weight room and beg-borrow-steal better equipment.

At last year's State Road Race Championship, I gained a new appreciation for the skill of sprinting from a pack. Going into the last turn, I was fifth wheel. I finished 16th. Even more, I gained an appreciation for the promoters and race officials who actually put the race together.

Then there was a lesson in humility at this year's Twin Bing Classic. Jumping into a three man break 15 miles into a hilly 45 mile race with prevailing winds proved to be too much. Eight miles from the finish, I cramped and got popped off the back. The ensuing chase group then caught me, but I was too wasted to latch onto them. I finished 8th and learned how strong I wasn't. What a wonderful, miserable race that was. I can't wait to do it next year.

Then there was sweet success at the Capital City Crit. Having never raced in a crit before, I was jittery before the race. A tall coffee with a shot of espresso beforehand may have contributed to the yips, but the truth was that I simply nervous. The mystique vanished when the race got rolling. Carving turns, taking a flier and sprinting for primes proved to be quite a rush. Yes, I learned the thrill of racing there. Finishing second was the exclamation point to fun day of racing.

At the Pioneer's Park Gran Prix, I discovered how not to finish a race. Thinking back to the failure at last year's State Championship Road Race finish, I decided that a sprint from the pack wasn't among my strongest suits. So I worked with Jesse Petersen, Kyle McClellan, Nathan Hicks and Dan Ertz to create a gap from the peleton. It worked. But when it came to the final hill, I attacked early in attempt to ride away from them. It got very quiet near the crest of the hill. Just as I thought the plan worked, I saw cyclists sprinting around me on both sides. Apparently, I learned how to give a text book lead out.

At this year's State TT Championship, I learned how to deal with the adversity of flatting and taking a DNF.

Shortly thereafter, I crashed during a training ride and had to deal with uncertainty while recovering from an injury for the first time.

Finally, there was a lesson in every race of the Omaha Cycling weekend.

It started with the Time Trial, where I missed my start. Warming up near the starting line, I somehow managed to not hear the announcer repeatedly call my name. I'm a knucklehead. Fortunately, with the help of a fantastic set of aero wheels, gratis Bryan Redemske, I still had a strong enough ride to account for the time I had dallied away.

At the Papillion Twilight later that afternoon, I experienced two firsts: tactical racing and overcoming doubt to finish the race strongly. Fellow team members Jonathan Wait, Mike Bartels and Ben Perkins gave us the tactical advantage to control the race. That, and being away when another racer flatted opened up a significant gap between the field and me. As the race progressed, the chase was closing the gap. But as I delved deep within the pain cave, the thought of the Jens Voigt "shut up legs" video that somebody linked to on their blog recently kept coming to mind. Success was ultimately a combination of gritty determination and the help of my teammates, Jens and whoever posted that video.

And then there was the Babcock Memorial race.

From all of this, Cat. 4 racing has served its purpose.

Thanks to all who've contributed to my growth as a cyclist. It's been good racing with you, and I look forward to lining up with you again soon.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cats and Dogs

Yesterday was a case of extremes in Omaha Weather. First was sultry stuff that pushed the heat index to 115, then came a walloping storm with some 70 mph winds.

The two extremes -- the heat before and the threat of severe weather later -- resulted in a low turnout for our normal Wednesday night Trek Store group ride. In all, 12 of us pointed our front wheels into a NW headwind as foreboding clouds gathered on the horizon. At Democracy Park, we decided to push forward to HWY 36. Bryan said he was going to turn back once we got to 72nd Street, while other suggested alternate routes.

30 minutes into the ride, the group had fragmented into three groups: breakaway, chasers and the recreational riders. I was among the chasers, which included Sarah Viamonte and Alexander Sanchez. By the time we arrived at HWY 36 & 72nd ST, nobody was to be found. At that point, the clouds appeared to be tracking NW of us, and the skies looked good enough to the south. Because of this, we decided to try our luck with a longer route continuing east along HWY 36 to the River Front trail, then southward through the airport and downtown before heading northwest again to the Trek Store.

We got as far as the airport when the skies got really dark, really fast. A quick change in plans had us drilling it for cover downtown. We didn't make it.

A quick change in plans had us drilling it for cover downtown. We didn't make it.

We got as far as the entrance to Gallup University when the brunt force of the wall cloud hit. I had to clip out to prevent being pushed over. From there we scrambled for cover at the River City Yacht Club. Thankfully, they were open and let us ride out the storm.

What a view afterward.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Accidents Happen

After winning the Cat 4 time trial and Papillion Crit yesterday, I abandoned today's State Road Race Championship after getting in a bike tangle with Sydney Brown.

Today's race was chaotic, to say the least. Thunderstorms overnight flooded the lower half of the course, resulting in a 45 minute start delay while race officials rerouted the race. In the end, the officials lopped off roughly four miles -- including a long hill climb -- from the original seven mile circuit loop. The entire dynamic of the race shifted from one that favored hill climbers to one that favored the flat lander power racer.

The race officials had their work cut out for them, keeping the many different racing skill levels separated within the three mile loop. The fields included: Men Cat 1-2-3, Men 4 & Women 1-2-3, Masters 40+, 50+, 60+, Cat 5 men, women Cat 4-5 and juniors. Added to the mayhem was the necessity of all the race officials' cars, wheel trucks, and later: ambulances and firetrucks. All on a tight, three mile loop.

About thirty minutes into the race, the Mens Cat 1-2-3 passed us. The race officials had the Cat 4s field slow to a neutral (easy with no-attacks) pace until the 1-2-3 men passed. I'm quite certain that the entire Cat 4 field realized that with two more hours of racing, there would be a lot of this stop and go stuff. Perhaps because of this, the attacks began shortly thereafter. I presume it was to create a gap that could leverage an advantage when the next neutral period occurred.

I was in one such attack with seven other riders that included fellow Midwest Cycling team member Ben Perkins. As the attack began to fail, I came around from the back to the outside/center line to drive the pace. As I came around, I looked over my right shoulder and motioned to Ben to latch on. When I turned back to look forward, there was forearm-to-forearm contact on my left side. It was Sydney. She yelled. We tangled and in a blink of an eye, she went down hard on her shoulder and face. I nearly followed.

What do you do in that situation?

I looked back and saw her crawling to the side of the road. 200 meters ahead was the roadside paramedic. We alerted for help as we rolled by. Of course, nobody knew how badly she was hurt. Since the circuit would bring us back the the scene minutes later, I decided to wait and see on the next pass.

When we returned, Sydney was lying on her back while the paramedic was treating her shoulder. Her race was over.

Having gone through something similar recently, I could empathize to some extent what she must have been experiencing. And since I was the one that got tangled up with her, I just didn't have the heart to race anymore. As the peleton rolled along, I delivered the news to my teammates and abandoned the race on the next loop.

Mend well, Sydney. You're in my/our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Territory

I've been riding around Omaha for a couple of years now and have gotten to know a lot of roads that I would never have taken by car. As a result, my appreciation of what Omaha offers, and as I'm learning, what lies just beyond Omaha, is growing.

Sometimes when I'm with Katherine, I'll take one of these off the beaten path routes and declare, "this is my territory." Katherine's heard that a thousand times if she's heard it once. "Yeah, yeah, what around here isn't your territory," she replies.

Until last night, County Road 49 wasn't. But due to a wet summer and more rain throughout the day, our normal route home through the Boyer's Chute wilderness area was flooded out. As a result, we were forced to reroute our ride through higher grounds along County Road 49. It was a first for me.

From HWY 75 heading south, County Road 49's surface is chipped gravel over pavement. But it's an easy ride on a road bike, especially if you follow the well-worn tire ruts. A sharp but short kicker brings you to a section of tree-lined fields to the east and an expansive valley to the west. This is Nebraska country scenery at its finest.

The road rises slowly into a false flat, followed by a moderate climb that brings you to the top of a long paved descent through a wooded area. Ultimately, County Road 49 terminates at the volunteer fire department of Ponca Hills. From there, we went east and drilled it through the valley, saving the hill repeats for another day.

This ride almost didn't happen due to weather. But local weatherman and avid cyclist CT Thongklin reassured me that the skies would part and the roads would be dry. And sure enough, at 6:00 PM, the sun had returned for nearly perfect riding conditions: 75 F and little wind.

The ideal conditions and the discovery of a new route is cycling at its best.

I'm happy to say that County Road 49 is now my territory.

Friday, July 2, 2010

30 Minute Japanimation Morality Plays

Back in the late '60s, Japanimation cartoons like Speed Racer were more than simply after school TV. They were art films that depicted a morality play in 30 minutes.

It was true that each 30 minute episode also had a total of about 30 frames, but boy did they tell a story of a fantastic race car, its special powers and a driver who raced it with fierce integrity. Fist fights, jealous girl friends, spectacular crashes and death -- cartoon people death -- were in every episode. Man, those were the days, camped out in front of the TV with a PB&J watching Speed go for another checkered flag. Today's NASCAR is lame by comparison.

The Snake Track episode with race car driver Rock Force was one such classic. Rock had a special driving technique of taking corners on two wheels (it was faster than on four) A favorite to win at the local snake track, Rock took a bribe to throw a race. But after taking the money, he disobeyed and won it anyway. Then the mob boss got mad and had his henchmen cut off Rock's right arm so he couldn't drive a stick shift anymore. Rock had it reattached, but it never quite worked as well.

That's when the hero, Speed Racer, enters the scene. Speed befriends Rock to learn his special cornering technique. By then, Rock was driving an automatic-transmission race car, but it gets smashed up by the angry mob. Speed promises to repair the car if Rock would teach him how to corner better. He does, they race and Rock wins. But the mob attempts to get Rock DQ'd for driving with one arm, a violation of safety rules. A gratuitous fist fight then ensues (gotta love Japanimation). While Rock is smashing the mob guy's face with his right arm, Speed exclaims, "Huh? Look Rock -- you're using your right arm!"

Awesome. Rock Force is my inspiration.

My right shoulder isn't 100%, but it's getting stronger each day.

Perhaps I should get into a fist fight with Shim after next Wednesday night's Trek Store ride. Now that would be inspiring.

Go Speed Racer, Go!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Enigma II

side note: don't worry, other than the title, there's nothing in this account that relates to the the other post bearing the same title.

Last night I jumped in with the Trek Store ride for the first time in a few weeks. To say it went well is an understatement. I rode this piss out of that bike last night and it felt great.

I was fairly confident that the shoulder had healed enough to ride hard without safety issues or injuring it any further. No, I was more concerned about how my breathing would be affected by sore ribs. That, and the deep bronchial cough had me wondering how the cardio would take it. And of course, I had no idea what to expect from my legs. But none of those issues manifested. I rode hard and hung with the lead pack throughout the ride. After 16 days off the bike, who'd figure?

I certainly didn't.

Granted, it wasn't the fastest of group rides. While there were aggressive moments, there was also a large pack to hide in and recover. Also, some riders were coming off a race weekend and others were saving it for big races coming up.

I suppose fresh legs could have been part of it. After the accident, I took the first week totally off to concentrate on arm exercises. Then this past week, I did two stair master sessions and two runs at 45 minutes each. There was also that easy 90 minutes ride on Sunday and I lifted (legs) once on Tuesday. So it wasn't that I didn't do anything. But still, cycling requires muscle-specific training.

Oh well, what can I say? I suppose my cycling legs didn't have know that they're supposed to be weak.

When his team was drudging the bottom of the division a month into the season, Charles Barkley answered his critics by saying, "The bad teams just don't know that they're bad yet."

Perhaps the same could be said of my legs. It's an enigma to me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two Milestones: 99% ROM and a Seven Mile Run

The shoulder's improving. Yesterday, after five rounds of assisted SHOULDER - 1 ROM: Flexion - Wand exercises, I did the final five unassisted. The range of motion is nearly 100% now and its strength is returning. Fantastic.

To celebrate, I ran the seven miles from work to home last night. I had no issues with the shoulder during the run. Granted, there was very little shoulder movement, but the fact that there wasn't any pain from the jarring foot strikes has got to be a good sign. In fact, the only issues experienced were in the ribcage (minor) as a result of heavy respiration during the run.

The body's healing mechanism is truly an amazing thing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nutrition Tool Box: Emulsified Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Last Friday's blog had a plug for TwinLab's Emulsified Norwegian Cod Liver Oil. Although setup for comic relief, it wasn't meant to be only that.

Since injuring my shoulder, I've been giving my body the building blocks it needs for recovery. In a the accident has allowed me to reassess my nutrition intakes. So while whey protein and antioxidant rich fruits have been supplemented to help in the short term recovery, I've also taken the time to look at longevity needs.

One such area is in cardiovascular health. We all know that cholesterol is bad. Well all but the HDL "good" cholesterol form. HDL cholesterol reduces plaque and carries bad cholesterol to the liver where it can be passed out of the system.

How much is needed? Clinical studies have shown that a diet of 400mg of fatty acids nutritionally supports cardiovascular health. Two tablespoon of Twinlab's cod liver oil provides 900 mg of total Omega-3 Fatty acids.

Will it miraculously heal my shoulder? Of course not. But it's contributing to overall good health on both a short and long term.

The product comes in three varieties: natural and mint, cherry or orange flavoring. The flavoring helps, but you can still taste the fish oil. But it's tolerable. In fact, I previously took fish oil in the form of a gel tabs. Gel tabs have no taste, right? Wrong. Without fail, every time I took one of those, I'd burp up heavy fish-taste within a few minutes. And I'm not talking about a dainty little Queen of England hiccup. Nope. It'd be one of those nasty guttural uuuuuuurrrrrrrrps that would wake the dog sleeping next to you.

No thanks. I'd rather deal with a little taste up front than have to deal with that later.

So if you're looking for a quick and convenient way to boost your Omega 3 fatty acids, this isn't a bad way to do it.

Whole Foods. $11.49

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not numb, NUMB

I got back on the bike yesterday for a 90 minute test ride with Mike Munson. The shoulder didn't feel great, but it felt good enough. Basically, it now feels like a big bad bruise. The good news was that there were no twinges of sharp pain, nor did it feel numb at anytime during the ride.

Speaking of numb, my friend the Real Wes J is participating in the Nebraska United Methodist Bike (NUMB) for Hunger charity ride this week. Count on him for a podium finish.

Here's one from the NUMB archives, where the Real Wes J just missed the win by a wheel:


NUMB is a worthy cause. Consider a donation. They'll take anything you throw at them, including a third place payout from a CAT4 road race.

Go get 'em, Wes!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Enigma

Many years ago, I had the privilege of backpacking in Europe with my friend Larry. Larry isn't his real name. But let's just call him that.

Larry and I made great traveling companions. He laid out out an ambitious, low budget assault of continental Europe on a 30 day Eurail Pass and I was content to simply tail along.

We arrived in Frankfurt, caught the first train to Wiesbaden, hopped a boat along the Rhine to Amsterdam, then back to rail into Belgium and so on. Within a week, we were in Paris, munching on a baguette and drinking cokes in a city park.

Larry stood and said that it was time to go.

Go? Go where? We had just arrived.

Larry dusted the fresh crumbs from his khaki shorts and began to head across the street toward a quintessential European Cafe. I stirred, but he turned and motioned to me to sit back down.

You don't understand, he said. I haven't taken a shit since we were stateside. I have to go.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And now for a word from our sponsor, TwinLab

Twinlab’s Norwegian Cod Liver Oil supplies the fatty acids EPA and DHA, which support mood and cardiovascular health, as well as healthy joint function.*+ Clinical studies have shown that a diet that has at least 400 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids (300 mg of which are EPA and DHA) nutritionally supports cardiovascular health.* Also, a recent study has shown that a diet with 768.6 mg of EPA supports healthy joint function.*+

For overall health and wellness, make Twinlab’s Cod Liver Oil a part of your daily health regimen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I sat there dumbfounded, weighing the gravity of Larry's last statement. It had been a week since we were in the States. Seven days! Why, what -- how -- how was that even humanly possible!?

A long time passed. Finally, Larry reappeared at the entrance. He had a contorted sort of smile on his face as he picked his way through the parked mopeds and crossed the street. It was a puzzling look, one that could be taken simultaneously for both shame and pride.

Let's get the hell out of here, he said, and without breaking stride, heaved his backpack onto his shoulder.

I hustled to grab all of my stuff. Moments later, I caught up to him.

What happened back there?

The toilet couldn't handle it. It was a small bathroom. I nearly flooded the damn thing. I panicked for a bit before settling on a plan. First, I attempted to unclog the toilet. To do so, I unfolded four paper towels on the floor, and then reached down into the toilet with my bare hands and removed the crap, placing it on the paper towels. I tried the toilet again, but it was worthless. Plan A was out. By then I was gagging. Since the toilet couldn't take it, and I certainly couldn't leave it in the trash can, I had to go with plan B.

So what did you do?

There was a small window to the alley out back.

You didn't

I did.

It was the only solution. Gnarly, huh? I tidied up the bathroom and washed my hands for about five minutes. Then, without saying a word, I dropped a twenty franc note on the bar and walked out.

Later that day, we saw the Mona Lisa.

There's been a lot that's been said about the expression on her face.

Thanks to Larry, I have my own interpretation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Follow Up Visit

I had a follow-up with the Orthopedic today. A fresh batch of x-rays didn't reveal anything new. That's the good news. The bad is that I still have a separated shoulder and will need to proceed with caution for the time being. The official word is that I've been given the green light to resume low-impact training so long as it's in the normal range of discomfort.

It's not that the shoulder hasn't made progress. The general inflammation has resided considerably and mobility seems to increase as much as an inch per day. The line of discomfort begins when I attempt to lift my arm above neck level. That's better than a few days ago.

As mentioned previously, it's incredibly painful to sneeze or cough. I'd rate it a 9 of 10 for two seconds after the sneeze followed by a solid 8 for the next 20. Unfortunately, I'm reminded quite often of my injury as this is also my allergy season.

Obviously, I'm scratching from this weekend's CSG TT. As for the Omaha Cycling weekend, only time will tell.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The WSCG List

Sometime awhile back, Bryan Redemske's List appeared on Facebook. Bryan put a lot of thought into this list. In fact, his concept was brilliant: whereas most lists actually have items on it, Bryan Redemske's List started off as an empty, blank slate. It's true. Let's take a look at the first two posts:

Bryan Redemske's List edited their Phone and Location
Bryan Redemske's List joined Facebook


First, notice that it records that Bryan's list joined Facebook. That's it-- no content, hyperlinks, photos or any other info. The list simply joined Facebook.

The next line above it states, "Bryan Redemske's List edited their Phone and Location." Now this was truly uncanny. It was as if the list had a life of its own. Meanwhile, the flesh-and-blood Bryan Redemske was only an afterthought. As evidence, look at the word "their" as in, "Bryan Redemske's List edited their Phone and location." This was beginning to feel like that time John Malkovich starred as himself in Being John Malkovich.

Finally, there was some substance on the third installment:

Ryan Feagan is on Bryan Redemske's List. Confirmed.

That Ryan Feagan made the list, and as the first entrant, made a lot of sense. To a lot of people. I'd be willing to bet that since Kindergarten, RF has occupied the first slot on many lists.

From there, Bryan Redemske's List pretty much remained a dirty, secretive little cloud. To this day, it's contents have never been fully revealed. But one thing was for certain was that it involved people he competed against. Though I believe it was a dubious honor to make the list, people actually provoked him to get on it.

Making a list is a good practice. While many lists remain private, posting them publicly achieves the best results.

It's been a week since I wiped-out on my bike. I've made some progress, but there are a number of things I'm still unable to do unassisted. Let this list serve as my public record of my right shoulder's health.

Milestones:
  1. Put button-down shirt on unassisted 06/15/2010
  2. Comb hair with right hand 06/18/2010
  3. Put on deodorant (lift right arm, reach across to left pit) 06/21/2010
  4. Put on tee shirt on unassisted
  5. Run a 10K. Jogging doesn't count
  6. Bike 2 hours. Drop Bryan Redemske's List
  7. Do 20 push ups.
  8. Jump in with Omaha Masters Swim Team
  9. Bench press body weight
  10. Paint the Fence. No really, it's a task I have to do this summer.
Reward: 1/2 gallon of Premium Bordeaux Cherry Chocolate ice cream. Until then, it's a bowl of frozen yogurt for each step.

Monday, June 21, 2010

In Search for Mr Miyagi

My shoulder's making progress. It's not too bad when it's moved slowly. Quick movements, like spasms in sleep, aren't fun. Otherwise, it's mostly dull aches with a lot of lateral stiffness.

Actually, the area that's worse than the shoulder is my ribcage. Coughing and sneezing brings misery.

Last week, I reported visiting my PT, Mike Bartels. As far as I know, Mike doesn't carry a black belt. But, the repetitive motions he's prescribed remind me of martial arts. At least what I know from watching Ralph Macchio's version of Karate Kid.

Here's Mike's version of "Paint the Fence."

I don't know, but perhaps he should call it something else. How about "touchdown Jesus" or "full-throttle-on-carrier-approach?" At least something with a little more pop than the the vanilla description:

SHOULDER - 1 ROM: Flexion - Wand

I mean, how uninspiring. The great Mr Miyagi couldn't even breathe life into that one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Daniel-san: Mr Miyagi, can't I go back to doing something cooler? Come to think of it, paint the fence wasn't that bad.

Mr Miyagi: No, grasshoper. Do Shoulder-1 ROM Flexion-Wand ... sigh... oh what's the use? See if Jackie Chan can do any better. I quit.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh well, I'll have to make do.

Banzai!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Plane Spotting

When i was a kid, one of the favorite things to do with Dad was to go to the airport and plane spot.

My Dad was a loyal, hard-working employee that spent 35+ years with the same company. Part of his responsibilities included traveling. He was on the road probably 25 weeks a year.

On occasion, Dad would take us kids to a parking lot just off Lambert field's main runway to spot planes. As the jets approached, he'd teach us about the different makes and models while giving us details of what he liked or disliked about them. By 10 years old, I became an expert at identifying commercial aircraft. For example, a DC-9 had two tail engines a 727 added a third on the vertical stabilizer. But my favorites were the wide body jets, especially the graceful Lockheed L10-11.

After an hour or so of spotting and feeling the thundering rush of the turbofan engines passing overhead, he'd take us to White Castles for a half-dozen belly-bombers.

Man, what a day spent with Dad.

I've heard that traveling can be very exhausting. I would never know as that's never been a part of my work's responsibilities. But that's what Dad did to make the ends meet and give my Mom and his five children a stable, comfortable life.

Thanks Dad.

Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Time To Build

The body's healing power is amazing. For the first 12 hours after wrecking, I needed a sling to support the weight of my arm as my shoulder muscles were too freaked out to do any work. But since then, my shoulder has improved a lot. The ability to support the weight of my arm has not only returned, but the range of motion has extended inches to feet. Meanwhile, the swelling and general aches and pains are subsiding.

These are all encouraging signs that I was spared serious injury. Of course, only time will tell the extent of the injury.

THE HEALING PLAN
When I workout, I typically have a goal in mind. That goal is based on a plan that was put together weeks/months before. Workouts tend to have different stages: base, build, peak, etc. The same can be true about your healing plan. When I'm injured, I make a mental switch from a workout plan to a healing plan.

Recovery also takes longer with aging. As you age, it becomes more important to remain focused on giving the body the tools it needs to heal as quickly as possible. My healing plan includes the following: NICE (NSAIDs, Ice, Compression, elevation), good nutrition, therapy and having a positive outlook.

NICE
NSAIDS include Ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). I use ibuprofen only because it seems that I tolerate it the best. Choose one and take regularly for 10 days to reduce the inflammation.

ICE
10 minutes on multiple times per day. I've found that compressing a drug store ice bag with an Ace bandage is probably the most effective treatment you can do. Ice temporarily restricts the flow of blood in the damage tissue. When removed, the tissue is flushed with fresh blood and nutrients.

NUTRITION
Even more so than when working out, recovering from injury requires a diet rich in protein and antioxidants.

I was surprised to find that I had be diligent about meeting daily protein requirements. Research suggests that an active athlete should take 1.2 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. I achieve this by consuming high protein foods and supplementing with whey protein powder.

Antioxidant flushing is achieve by substituting green tea for coffee, and consuming lots of fresh fruits like berries, cherries, plums and grapes.

THERAPY
I've already met with my PT, Mike Bartels at Edge Physical Therapy. Mike's a terrific local resource for cyclists and athlete in general. An active competitive cyclist, Mike relates well to the motivated weekend warrior. Since our visit, I've begun a series of light exercises to gently begin working on increasing mobility. If for nothing else, a PT will provide a road map toward your recovery. It's either that or following the advice of a typical doctor: rest.

A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
Having a positive mental attitude helps. Certainly, the body will repair itself regardless of the attitude of the person, but I believe that being positive about your recovery does something more.

You don't have to do it all on your own. Let people know when your injured. The encouragement you'll receive in return will help keep you motivated to stay on your plan.

So thanks again for your encouragement. I hope to join you on the road again soon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wholesome, Steel-Pole Goodness

What nice notes I received from you all yesterday, wishing for my speedy recovery. Some from old friends, and a few from new ones, including a comment from the 2010 DK200 winner, Cornbread. I should also mention my gratitude to Bryan, Eric and Munson for linking my story in their blogs. Finally, a big shout out to the good folks of Algona, IA for pulling for me. You guys are awesome.

So thanks to all who stopped by yesterday. The get well wishes were appreciated.

Oh wait, what's this at the bottom of my email inbox?

Apparently, I missed a note from Shim, who along with the Real Wes J, was looking out for my well being when the accident happened.

Let's see what words of condolence Shim has to offer:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From: G.Shim0nek
Sent: 06/15/2010 06:37 PM CDT
To: E.Br0wn; W.J0hnson; B.Hanquist
Cc: Brady Murphy

Subject: the scene of the crime.

It looks so peaceful. Then BAM!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yeah. Thanks for nothing, buddy.

WSCG

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Time to Mend

I took a nasty spill on the Riverfront North trail Monday. I was out riding over the lunch hour with Shim and the real Wes J. As we approached the Mormon Bridge, I lapsed about the existence of a steel pole in the middle of the trail. Unfortunately, that lapse was precisely at the same moment I came around to pass Shim. Upon seeing the pole, I attempted a swerve, but the handlebar's left drop still clipped it, launching me head-first onto the tarmac. My right shoulder took the brunt of the impact. My knee also has a nice contusion and raspberry. The helmet spared my head.

Thankfully, the x-rays were negative on obvious breaks, but the Orthopedic wants to take another look next week with the possibility of an MRI to check for hairline cracks in the shoulder, ribs and for damage to soft tissue.

Projected recovery time: 6 weeks.

In the meantime, looks like I'll be convalescing poolside with my lady, the lovely Ms Katherine. Groovy, baby.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

DNF

I've had a Time Trial (TT) bike for a couple years now. Last year, I picked up one of those dorky looking aero helmets. And this year, thanks to Bryan Redemske loaning me his set of Bontrager Aeolus 50mm deep dish wheels, my TT bike was ready to go faster than ever.

The bike did go fast. At least for the first 8.25 miles of the 24 mile course. With a generous tailwind, I was averaging 28 MPH before noticing that the front tire started going mushy. Sure enough, I had flatted.

DNF.

I couldn't help but think how Dennis Menchov must have felt during his bike troubles at the 2009 Giro Time Trial in Rome. I mean, it was like eerie how similar our TT experiences were. Except that Menchov rode on wet cobbles and I was on dry asphalt. And he had a team car, mechanic and an extra bike waiting for him, while the only person following me was my minute man, Brandon Fenster, and he wasn't about to give me his bike. And Dennis had a spectacular crash broadcast over live international television; mine was a trifle less exciting as I skillfully brought the bike to a controlled stop on a dusty county highway. And I suppose that retaining the maglia rosa jersey meant something special, too.

Other than that, it must have felt exactly the same. Exactly.

Anyway, thanks to Omaha Velo Veloce for putting on a great race. Congratulations to all the victors and all who finished the race. For the rest of us, better luck next time.

Hey Dennis Menchov, let's swap war stories over an Italian soda sometime. My treat!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shame on You

During a break on our Wednesday night group ride, Shim was hit by a pen thrown from a passenger in a car passing by. Shim muttered something before jumping on his pedals to chase the car down. Seeing him in pursuit, the car made a quick turn and sped down a side street. They got away. But a short time later, the car returned and was caught in the front row of an intersection, waiting for the traffic signal to change. In a scene reminiscent of Tienanmen Squire, Shim and another rider rolled up in front of the car and promptly returned the pen while non verbally clarifying how they felt about the incident. A classic Shim moment if there ever was one.

Shim's defiance reminded me of a time when my Mom confronted a nasty motorist.

Back in the day when I was about ten years old and riding my first of many yellow bicycles, somebody in a 70s-something muscle car was making our neighborhood into a NASCAR training circuit. Neutral-drops, excessive speed and power slides through the corners were just a few of his skills on display that day. The idyllic tranquility of our neighborhood had been replaced by a haze of blue smoke from burning tires, oil, and whatever he was smoking inside the car.

My Mom had become incensed. Ask anyone that knows her and they'll tell you that to see my Mom openly express anger was a very rare event. (Passive aggression & guilt were her strong suits.) A very strong Catholic, my Mom was the spiritual, calming center of her husband and five children. Over the years, we gave her plenty of times to practice her faith and patience, but she was a tough nut to crack. In fact, I've seen my Mom enraged only twice in my life. Once it was directed at Dad. Having never heard them argue before or since, I thought they were going to get a divorce. They managed through it and have been on course to celebrate 50 years this December.

The other time was in confronting this driver.

So as the car was winding up to make another pass around the neighborhood, my Mom goes storming out to the curb to give him a piece of her holy mind. The driver approached at around 50 MPH while my Mom stood her ground at the foot of the street, pointing her index finger directly at him.

It was effective. The driver locked up the brakes and brought the car to a skidding halt about 100 ft down the road. He then dropped the transmission to reverse and laid an impressive reverse-scratch until he stopped the car right next to her.

A thick stench of burned rubber permeated the air. The driver leaned across the seat and asked roughly, "What do you want, lady?"

Heroically, she calmly rebuked him. "Shame on you."

I braced for what I thought was going to be a verbal assault. Or worse. Instead, the best come-back the driver had was to parrot, "SHAME ON YOU!!" He then popped the clutch one last time and left our neighborhood for good.

Awesome.

When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
-- Proverbs 31:20-29

Thanks for always setting the right example for us time and time again. You are an amazing woman, spouse and mother. Of course, I'm proud to be your son. And another thing:

Happy Birthday Mom!


In Wholesome Steel-Cut Goodness,
Brady

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jux-TT-posed

Omaha Metro Area Transit bus paired with my Time Trial Bike

It may look a little odd, but MAT bus racks can transport a time trial bike. As a multi-modal commuter, I recently used this option to bring my TT bike to work for a time trial session over the lunch hour. Thanks, MAT.

See you at the State Time Trial Championship this Saturday.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Refreshing

Photo Credit: Lois Brunnert

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed
--Proverbs 11:25 (Today's New International Version)


Thanks goes out to all who made the Norfolk Classic Cycling Weekend possible. Congratulations on a job well done.

Nebraska cycling is where it's at.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Race Face: AKA Basso's Bluff

Many weeks ago, I made a comparison of myself to professional cyclist Tom Boonen. If you recall, it wasn't to his fine sprinting skills, but more to that of his disproportionate torso to leg ratio.

Now I find the need to compare a trait I have in common with another professional cyclist, this time Ivan Basso.

I like Basso. I like him not because he's riding more human like post OperaciĆ³n Puerto, but because he's always smiling when he does. He rides like he's enjoying every minute of it even though you know he's burying himself in immense suffering. It doesn't matter if he's drilling it at the front of the pace line, or climbing a 6% grade for 20K with a 14% kicker at the end: Basso's all yippy-skippy when he rides. I bet he even hums a snappy tune from time to time. And the more intense it gets, the more you see him grinning. See for yourself as we walk down some finer moments of his career:

Yes, Ivan Basso is a good bluffer. He's the only one who appears to be on a bacon ride among the suffering faces around him. Either that or he's a total masochist.

As for me, the quest to become a better bluffer started a couple years ago when my brother Murphini commented that I winced when I ran. Um, who doesn't? Have you ever seen anyone looking like they're enjoying running?

Brady wincing during the IronmanKansas 70.3

After brother John's revelation, I began working on my race face during practice runs.

Now a lesser man would have practiced it during a recovery run. Oh, not me. I cut right to the chase and began working on Basso's bluff during 800m track repeats. That's right: rapid flat foot strikes, aligned hips, high arm turnover, steady breathing and a stupid ear-to-ear grin on my face. Truly, a running fool if there was one.

The end result is that I mastered it. Mom was right. You continue to make a face and it may stick that way.

photo credits: Dan Farnham

Let it be known that while it looks like a pleasure ride in the park, there's not a whole lot of happiness going on inside.

I love bicycle racing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Easy Friday: Wednesday Night Worlds

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Proportionality

My mountain biking friends had their first race of the year on Saturday. It was a time trial. As you already know, I'm not a mountain biker. Heck, I didn't even know that there were mountain bike time trials. But just because I don't own a mountain bike doesn't mean that I had to miss out on time trialing fun. So Saturday afternoon, I paid a visit to the airport service road for a TT workout on the p2SL.

While boiling up some fresh lactic acid, my mind began to drift. I thought the shadows that the late afternoon sun threw on the tarmac were funny.

Airport time trial run. My legs look like they're about 45 feet long.

The silhouette projected on the road reminded me of my life long best friend, Steve Missey.

Back when we were in kindergartners, I followed him home after school one day. I thought he was cool. His mom greeted him/us at his front door and asked, "who's your new friend, Steve." He turned and looked surprised to see me standing there. He had no idea who I was. We've been best friends ever since.

Anyway, I learned a lot from hanging out with Steve. Like how to think abstractly. His gift manifested itself early in his art work. Steve's specialty was the family portrait. While the rest of us were instructed to draw stick figures with proportional arms, legs and torso, Steve's point of view gave a heavy emphasis to the legs. He was brilliant. Bucking convention, Steve boldly drew it as he saw it. Like the shadow projected above, young Steve drew his parents legs as if they were four stories tall.

Here's an mspaint.exe replica of Steve's family portrait:

the Missey Family Portrait

Those gangling legs crystallized new pathways of intellect for me, forever changing the way I perceived the world. Thanks, Steve.

So it should come as no surprise that I thought of Steve -- again -- when I was riding with Mark Savery (Mod) and Bryan Redemske on Sunday.


Bryan (top) and Mark training in the new MWCC kits

When Bryan wasn't drilling it up the 12-16% grades, the topic of conversation was on Tom Boonen not winning the Tour de Flanders earlier that day. At some point, Mod said that Boonen had a freakishly long torso compared to his legs. He went on: at 6'4 and 180 pounds, Tornado Tom rides a relatively small bike (58 cm) with a 140mm stem. Boonen's build sounds more like swimmer Michael Phelps than that of a world champion cyclist.

Tom Bonnen's torso wins the world championship

My mind spooled as I attempted to grasp what Mod was saying. I realized that he was describing the inverse of the Missey family portrait. Could there be such a thing?

I then wondered how a young Tom Boonen would have drawn himself riding a bicycle. Imagine the torso:


a rendering of Tom Bonnen's first self-portrait

Apparently, there's been lots of discussion in cycling forums about Tom Boonen towering size and his disproportionate torso. In one, writer Talewinds dared to publicly ponder what it'd be like to build a bike to Bonnen's specs:

Talewinds:
The other day and I realized [Bonnen] and I are the same height/ weight. I currently have (2) 60cm bikes, a 62cm bike (too long top tube) and I'm building a 58.5 cm bike. The only measurement I'm really worried about is the seat-to-bar drop, because on this used frame/fork, there's gonna be quite a bit of drop.

FMW:
I have no idea but I can say that fitting a frame to you based on what fits someone else makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

chzman:
you should try to be like mcewen, he's only won three stages at the tour this year

Talewinds :
I'm not some naive noob here FMW, and I'm not trying to fit myself to a bike based on how someone else fits to theirs. It's a GENERAL interest in bike fitting

Aw Geez, Talewinds, don't listen to those bullies. Who's to say that your build is not unlike Boonen's? Where some may dream, you may be justified in replicating Boonen's bike. Perhaps it's the only thing keeping you from reaching your full potential. Do you wish you could drop freds on your next group ride? Are you always a pack finisher just off the podium? Perhaps you're only a few percentage points of efficiency away from being the next State champ in your category. You may never know unless you go for it.

You see Talewinds, I can sympathize with you because I also have a disproportionate torso-to-leg ratio. At 5'9 with an inseam of 33 inches, I am an 80% version of Tom Bonnen. Where most at my height ride a 54-56 cm bike, I have a 51 cm with a 120mm stem. The stem stretches me out so far that I feel like superman when I ride it. I'm no Tom Boonen, but it works for me.

Still, since seeing Steve's family portrait, I've had a void in me that my stubby little legs could never fill. I've secretly wished that my proportions were flipped.

A boy can always dream...