Friday, July 29, 2016

The Monkey On My Back

Yes, I raced with a little monkey in my speedsuit's back pocket this past Tuesday night. Thanks for noticing, Bryan Redemske.

The monkey was there to cheer me up. Not that I really needed cheering up, because bikes are fun. But I've been feeling off my game lately: fatigued, turning squares on a weary crank, and having very low motivation. I'm at a loss for an explanation for my general malaise. I've stayed very consistent in my training this year, and my ride log suggests that I should be on form right now. Yet this is hardly the case. Even worse is that there has been several times where I did not feel like riding recently. Last Saturday's pre ride pep talk included convincing myself that I'd feel better afterwards having completed the workout than blowing it off altogether. This is not a good place to be in.

I suppose I'm feeling this way because the end of the road season is upon me. I hit it hard for several months this spring and summer, and the miles have finally caught up to my legs and my mind. I'm simply tired. As Forrest Gump said after the end of his long run, "I'm pretty tired. I think I'll go home now." I'm not quite there, but something like that. Anyway, it's August.

So the monkey. Yeah. I can't recall exactly when or where, but I think I found that chimp abandoned along the roadside during a winter ride years ago. For the rest of the season, I had that little feller dangling from one hand from the back of my saddle. I even made him a winter weather outfit for him out of an old glove, complete with pants, a skull cap and even a little scarf. And I do say, that scarf completed the ensemble for my little simbian. He was a happy monkey. You want your monkey happy.

Since then, the monkey's mostly been hanging around our home. Every so often, he migrates from place to place, like our own version of elf on shelf. He's randomly appeared on window sills, on book shelves, dangling from a lamp, and on night stands. Every now and then, he still accompanies me on a bike ride. It's usually reserved for a special occasion, like the first Spring ride when it's warm enough for short sleeves, or the first WNW or cyclocross group ride of the year.

Last Tuesday, it was to remind me to have fun. I did have a good time despite not racing well. Thank you monkey.

He's off my back now and currently sitting on a shelf in the laundry room, probably dreaming about his next bike riding adventure.

A video posted by Brady Murphy (@brady.murphy) on

Friday, July 1, 2016

Messin Around

We ride for all kinds of reasons, but it mostly comes down to transportation or recreation/racing. You could probably guess that I prefer the latter, but someday when I don't (can't) race my bike anymore, I sure hope that I'll be able to ride for transportation and just riding around (JRA), you know, for tacos and stuff.

Yesterday, I was riding for racing. I was doing a hot and spicy anaerobic workout that Mark Savery gave me. Anaerobic repeats are not fun, but they are mercifully short due totally blowing up while doing each effort. Short bursts are important in racing. A good example is when one needs to bridge to a breakaway, like when Lee Bumgarner attacks so hard that when he achieves escape velocity, and he has entered into a super-aero tucked position, his bike continues to accelerate. Meanwhile, those left in his wake are throwing down copious amounts of wattage trying to catch back on his wheel. I'm one of those guys, and I'll only catch him if I'm prepared to do so. This is why I was doing anaerobic repeats yesterday. Honestly, it was because of Lee Bumgarner. Thank you Lee, and Mark Savery, for making me faster.

My buddy Fred Hinsley happened to be riding nearby when I was doing these repeats. Having spotted the familiar high-vis green kit and red Bontrager XXX shoes of Harvest Racing, Fred paid me a visit. I had just completed my sixth of nine anaerobic efforts, and I was a little breathy when he wheeled up next to me.

Huff huff huff huff...

I saw the Harvest kit and thought to myself, 'whatever Shim is doing over there looks crazy'.

Huff huff -- Un huh, yeah -- huff-huff -- what are you -- huff-huff -- up to?

Messing around.

Huff huff huff huff. Yeah, me too. I'm just -- huff-huff -- messin' around.

Ha! I can see that.

It turns out that Fred was on a recovery day, spending some time working on turning skills in the parking lot. I liked the idea and made a mental note of using my next recovery ride to also do some turning skills. We talked a little more, then I completed my workout as he did his turns. Since we're neighbors, we  rode home afterwards, just shooting the breeze.

We ride bikes for all kinds of reasons, whether it's for transportation or recreation/racing.

But really, it all comes down to just messin' around.