Friday, June 28, 2013

Plop Plop Fizz Fizz

It's that all too familiar feeling when you've been pushing well above your lactic acid threshold for at least ten minutes, when your quads and hamstrings start to feel like they're on fire, and your lungs burn with every breath. Many of you know what I'm talking about.

Yeah, that's called bicycle racing.

It happens mostly on weekends, and during Wednesday night training group rides, known colloquially as Wednesday Night Worlds in these parts. And how can I forget? Lactic acid burns occasionally occur during a lunch ride, when a colleague, we'll call him Wesley Johnson (no relation), happens to make it through the stop light that you got caught in, and seeing he's free, drills it in his big ring while you wait for the light to change. That's right, Wesley, show no mercy.

I think it was Michael Munson who once tried to tell me that lactic acid is actually a fuel for your muscles. Pshaw. Of course, Munson's also the guy that once told me to ride a skinny slick tire on my front during the winter months for better traction. I tried and it was a disaster. Wait, I take that back. It wasn't all bad. What that slick front tire did that winter was teach me how to fall on my ass successfully. Now, I have no fear of crashing. Thanks, Munson. Anyway, it -- the lactic acid -- may indeed be something that theoretically resembles fuel, but it certainly doesn't make me go faster. It just hurts.

When I used to be only a runner and did regular track interval workouts, sometimes I'd pre-load sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to buffer against the effects of lactic acid. I read a research paper on it and decided to give it a try. No, Munson didn't author the research paper. Regardless, I can vouch from personal experience that it was effective for me. Of course, YMMV. Some people can't stomach a couple tablespoons of baking soda before running 6 x 800m repeats in 95F and humidity. The heat, the humidity, the lactic acid and baking soda all churn into a sour mash in the stomach. Inevitably, around the 600m mark of the third 800m repeat, the runner can't stomach it any longer. Better hope you're a few meters ahead, for what happens next is not unlike the sound and appearance of when a kinked garden hose is straightened: koooooooooohr.

I'm sorry, but I find the act of barfing to be really funny. Funny as in Haha, funny. From the initial retch, to the splatter of a partially digested lunch resembling a soupy concoction of yellow curry, semi-masticated chicken bits and squarish potato looking thingys, the act of vomiting is simply hilarious.

As an aside, this reminds me of a time when I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K years ago. Some kid, looking to be about 10 years old and weighing no more than 50 pounds, flew by me in the first half mile of the race. A total rabbit if there ever was one. I remember thinking that that kid was something special and I'd probably see him next in the Olympics or something. But there he was down the road at the five mile mark, crouched over, hands on knees, barfing his little brains out into the gutter. Bless his dear heart.

Of course, it could have been the row of pleasantly plump belly dancers that were lined up on the hill right before mile five that triggered the projectile vomiting. I mean, that was a spectacle. Seeing, smelling, those jovial, patchouli-laced women and men strutting their stuff may overloaded the poor little feller:

(The scene: 10 yr old approaching Bolder Boulder 5 mile mark) I can do this! I can see the headlines now: 10 YEAR OLD SETS BOLDER BOULDER COURSE RECORD. I believe I can do it! Yeah, it hurts a ton, but gee willikers, I am the reigning St Pius field day champ in the 600 meter dash. I can and will do it. Wait-wait, is that five mile marker up the road? (glances at watch) 23:30, right on pace-- wha -- what's this? Is that a bunch of pregnant women in bikinis dancing along side of the road? Eww, and what's that smell? Ick. Stomach not feeling good! Urrrrp! Oh man, this can't be, URRRRPPPPPP!! I cannot go another step, I'm gonna hurl. Oh gosh, here it comes... ROAAAR!! Splatter-splatter, squish squish. ROAAAR!! Splatter-splatter, squish squish ROAAAAAAAARRRRR!!!!

Anyway, back to this lactic acid thingy. I don't know how others manage it. On a bike, it just painful.

But even off the bike, I get a reaction. Like when I read that Lee Bumgarner won his 14th cat 1/2/3 race this year at the Tour of KC last weekend, my stomach began to grumble. Or, when I heard how Jordan Ross helped Lee to victory by chasing down attacks, and yet still placing in the top 10 of a very strong field, a belch or two might have escaped my lips. But when I heard how Leah Kleager not only won her race, but lapped + the entire women's cat 1/2/3 field, well, a full-on acid reflux reaction kicked in that only prescription strength Pepcid could begin to quell.

Seriously people, how do you do it?


That's all I got to say about that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tri Guy

A new person, Joshua, has recently joined the UP lunch group ride on a regular basis. Actually, he's not new because he's ridden with us a few times before. That was four years ago, before he took a transfer to Denver. Well, he's back now, and picking up where he left off.

A lot has happened over those years.

Joshua remembered me as "that guy" who did triathlons, particularly the Black Squirrel triathlon, one in which he also competed in before moving away to Denver.

But years before that, I was strictly a runner. That's it. Run. Run. Run. How boring.

When I started doing triathlons, I sucked really bad at cycling. To get better, I joined the UP lunch ride. Then Fred introduced me to weekend group rides. Later that summer, I bought my first single day license to compete in the 2008 Corn Husker State Games Time Trial. But make no mistake, at that time, I was still a triathlete. 2008 was the year I also competed in the Black Squirrel Triathlon.

That's why Joshua remembered me as a "tri guy".

As an aside, I really dislike that term, "tri" (/╦łtrahy). Stop that. It is triathlon. Please take note, people. That especially includes you, KGil.

Anyway, this whole triathlon discussion came about at the end of a recent Thursday taco lunch ride. Joshua was back-filling Shim on what he's been up to over the past few years, including triathlons.

Shim slowly wiped the corners of his mouth with a paper napkin before telling Joshua that genteel cyclists like us do not hold the triathlete, nor his triathlon with much esteem. Or something like that. You know, Shim.

At any rate, I really wasn't paying much attention to their conversation. I had more important things at hand, like assembling the perfect ratio of cabbage to radishes on a neat row of chicken tacos.

"But Brady does Tris," Joshua countered.


"Excuse me?" I said. My clumsy hand knocked a saucy chunk of chicken to the ground. Damn.

"You're a triathlete, right?"


It's funny how a little time can change one's perspective. Five years ago, I would have proudly backed up Joshua's assertion. While I never went so far as to get one of those stupid M-DOT vinyl stickers for my car's rear window, I still would have labeled myself as a triathlete.

But not anymore. Since then, I suppose I've become an elite cyclist snob. I realized that the moment Josh asked me if I was a triathlete.

Even more, I've grown a strong aversion toward that label, triathlete. I wanted nothing of it. It was as if he asked me if I had herpes or something.

Now I have nothing against those who use triathlons as a motivator to get fit. I applaud whatever it takes to make it work for you. Keep at it. Seriously.

But it's just not for me anymore. My issues with triathlons basically are twofold:
1) Race fees start at $50 for local races; Ironman entry fees are $650. That's no typo.
2) See rule #42

Oh wait, three-fold: 3) "Tri" and M-DOT must go away. Now.

I suppose I'm a purist.

It's true that I still swim. I do masters swim workouts on average about four times a week. It's also true that I competed at the Masters Nationals swimming meet last year.

And I still run. Not much anymore, but I'm not adverse to lacing up if time for a workout is short, or to jump in and do some intervals at the track. I also competed in a 10K last fall.

You know that I cycle.

Yet do the sum of these parts make me a triathlete? Eessh. How about a multi-sport athlete?

I suppose multi-sport is better. Perhaps even cross-over athlete. Indeed, these are much better than being referred to as that tri guy.

Friday, June 14, 2013

BM on BM

Near the end of a very intense ride this past Wednesday night, the group finally caught a breather on the river front trail that connects the OPPD power plant south of the Mormon Bridge to the Eppley Airport service road. It was during this time that I made the mistake of letting down my guard. I was chatting and bee-bopping along, not really paying attention to the trail. The wind was gusty, blowing the tall grass across the path, basically constricting the bike path's visibility to about half of what it normally is. When I looked up the path, a rider was bearing down at 12 o'clock. Like right on top of me. Crap. I shifted my weight and swerved right, just barely avoiding the head-on collision. The swerve to the right was thick, causing me to over-correct back into the path of rider as he was passing. It all happened so quickly. We collided, shoulder to shoulder. THUD! Kind of like the a deep base "boots" sound of boots and cats. It was a hard impact. Fortunately, we managed to ride through the collision without eating shit. That includes the riders behind me.

There was some yelling, mostly from my group. The other rider was really angry. I suppose he had a right to be. It was mostly my fault. I was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time. As soon as the last of the group pedaled by, I circled back to apologize to the rider.

For the record, here's how you apologize. I learned this after years of practice with my spouse. You say:

1) You were right...
2) I was wrong...
3) I am sorry...

After apologizing for being a jackass, his anger subsided. He was less ready to take someone's head off for it. As proof, I still have mine.

When I caught back up to my group, I repeated the apology to have put them in danger's path as well. Let alone having the embarrassment of having to ride with me.

It's funny when something like that happens. Not funny as in ha-ha funny. But funny as in odd. Lots of thoughts passed through my brain as I rode the last few miles of the ride, from giddy euphoria that I survived a disaster by a narrow margin, to supreme shame as to what just transpired. It went back and forth in my brain. At one point, I was whistling like a happy little bird while we were doing 35 mph around the backside of the airport. Then I got dropped and had plenty of time alone to think. And by think, I mean sulk. By the end of the ride, the adrenalin-laced euphoria had passed. I just felt plain stupid.

At any rate, I now know what it feels like to be Kevin Gilinsky.

Sorry Kevin. For that comment above, as well as for yelling at you like a know-it-all-jerk on the BK bridge. To be clear, I'm not sorry for yelling at you, because you deserved it. Just like I did. But I've learned that while riding like an idiot is inexcusable, it happens quite easily. For some of us, me included, it may even come almost effortlessly. For others to yell at such behavior is fine. What I'm sorry about is the know-it-all-jerk part.

So sorry, Kevin.

Happy Friday and safe riding everyone.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Strava Social Finesse

I've been a Strava "social fitness" member for a few months now. I got my start thanks to my brother Brendan, who won a Garmin Forerunner 210 GPS watch while capturing a couple Crown (CR) segments during last year's Pike's Peak Ascent 1/2 Marathon. Already having a GPS device, he gave me the prize watch. Thanks Brendan.

While many have touted the benefits of social fitness, like being able to thump your virtual chest over all of Stravatia, many have not yet embraced the delicate, fine artsy side of Strava called social finesse.

Well this guy has. At the end of a recent Strava ride, I was feeling particularly giddy from a wind-assisted 29mph avg KOM effort on my TT bike (I'm looking at you Fred) along the Eppley Airport service road.

The apparent giddiness put happy pedals to work, resulting in my first Strava social finesse entry:

Cursive is the new calligraphy.

Yeah Pretty Good.

Happy Friday everyone