Monday, February 26, 2007

Call Me Shorty

So yesterday evening started out like any other evening. Around 4:30-5, the dogs begin acting goofy as their blood sugar drops and they realize it's feeding time. Usually Riley is the first to eat, it take me longer to scoop the food into her bowl than it does for her to eat it. After Boulder eats they both go outside to take care of business.

Here's where the evening went totally downhill. As the dogs scamper out the garage door I close it behind them, usually only with enough force so it shuts but doesn't latch. That way when they want to come in they can just push the door open and hang out in the garage until I get to them. As I closed the door, I thought both dogs were out. Well, apparently unknowing to both myself and Riley, the tip of her tail got caught in the door as it closed. She didn't yelp, or cry, just went on out about her business. When I went to let Boulder in, Riley was no where to be found, it was dark so I figured she was still milling around the yard somewhere. Then I go up to the kitchen where I see her sitting outside the door to the deck. I figure something must be wrong because she never climbs the stairs to the deck. As I look down, I can see blood in the snow. I let her into the garage not realizing the extent of the damage, tail wagging spraying blood everywhere, including all over me. The garage now looks like the opening sceenes from an episode of CSI.

I took one look at her tail and knew it was bad, it took the tip, which is nothing more than skin and hair, almost completely off and the bone was sticking out. I left her there to go find bandages and guaze. After searching the house all I could come up with were some gauze pads so I wrapped her tail in them and finished it off with some packing tape. McGyver would have been proud.
Gina got home and we loaded her up in Special Sauce and headed out to the vet. Let me tell you, DO NOT get your dogs tail caught in a door, it's not cheap. They patched her up and gave her some drugs but she went back this morning to have the tip of her tail removed.

Riley says these drugs are awesome.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Just One Fix

So it's been a week since I caught the cold from hell. This one seemed benign until Friday night when my head filled up and the splitting headache from sinus pressure began. This headache lasted until Sunday night, subsiding only after sleeping all day and after consuming a pharmacy's worth of off the shelf drugs that couldn't make a dent in it. Sleeping wasn't really a choice as by Sunday morning the pain was so bad I couldn't keep my eyes open for more than 2 minutes. It's amazing though how your body takes advantage of sleep to repair itself.

Now I'm left in a haze, food and drink doesn't taste the same and I feel like I'm the only one left to clean up the house the morning after a hard night of partying. The good news is I'm 2lbs closer to my target racing weight, bad news is by body feels so atrophied I can barely walk up the stairs without feeling the burn let alone think about when I might ride again.

I did get a notification my new E-motion rollers have shipped. I'm excited to start using rollers instead of a trainer, I've always been scared to use them as I can defintely have a lack of concentration when on the trainer, but these look pretty error proof.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

V-Days Bust

So for Valentine's Day Gina gave me the flu, or at least one heck of a cold.

Thank you honey, I'll cherish this forever.

Fortunately my immune system must be in full effect because it hasn't really taken me down as bad as expected. Gina has been dealing with it since Monday. I woke up this morning feeling like my head was underwater and had spent the night doing Jager shots.

I managed to sleep for the better part of the afternoon and my pounding headache is gone for the most part. Sitting here starring at the computer screen doesn't help it. I guess it was as good a time as any to catch something since riding outside isn't looking so good with all of the ice and I haven't been motivated to ride the trainer.

Maybe to make it feel somewhat like Valentine's Day we'll watch some a chick flick.

Today's weather makes me think about the Valantine's Day a few years ago, 2003 I think, when Gina and I were still dating and I took her to NYC. We stayed in Manhattan and had a nice dinner at the Sea Grille at Rockefeller Center. It's a cool resstaurant that's at ground level with the ice skating rink so you can watch the people skate while you eat. I'll always remember that year because we almost got stuck there in a blizzard. It hadn't snowed all year and next thing you know it's calling for 2 feet of snow or something crazy. We managed to catch the last train out of NYC because the snow was even closing down sections of the tracks. We made it back to BWI just as the police announced major road closures like Rt. 95 and 195. If it weren't for Special Sauce we wouldn't have made it home from the train station that day. Today Gina told me she thought I was going to propose to her that night. She only had to wait another 5 months.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monster Rides and Bad Food

So far in the early part of the season I've been very diligent in allowing my body to rest. It's still early February and I see people out on the group rides just trying to crush it like it's mid-June and they're peaking for road Nationals or something. I learned my lesson all to well last season after not building back up from the 'cross season and having a miserable year on the road. The funny part is, usually by the end of May all of the winter hero riders are gone frm the racing scene, not to be seen again until next March and a new crop of riders emerge and are just riding everyone into the ground. That's my plan, but it doesn't mean I'm going to sit around and do 4hr LSD rides either, that's all BS, when was the last time you raced aerobically anyway? Variation is key.

So Saturday a group of six of us made our way out to Fredneck for a nice day of climbing, Steve O. (a.k.a Nick Danger), Mid-Coast Tom, Yellow Bike Mike, Nat, The New Larry and myself met up at Myersville Elementary school to tackle my new route, the Monument Loop. This ride was to incorporate the climbs up to several monuments dedicated to the Civil War. When I pulled into the school I noticed the wind was a bit stronger than called for, probably a good 15-20mph and the temperature was in the teens. As we made final preparations and decended the first small hill, I realized how cold it actually was. The ride out to the first climb is a nice scenic stroll in the shade along the river where the air temp was a good 5-10* lower that the parking lot. Within the first few minutes of the ride I couldn't feel any fingers past the first knuckle and no matter how hard I banged them against the handlebars I just couldn't get the feeling back. That actually had me worried for a second. But then we started up the first climb and the blood started to flow again and life was good.

We got to the top of the mountain into Gambrill St. Park and made our way across the top to find a road that would drop us down the opposite side, with the plan of riding back up the same mountain again just from the other direction. Unfortuately both my memory and my map program failed me. We were in the Watershed area and there are 2 kinds of roads, somewhat paved and gravel. The road we needed to take was the later and worse yet, still covered with snow. Maybe on my mountain bike, but no way with the road bikes. So a quick route change had us blasting down the road we were suppose to climb up, another roughly paved, single lane road with endless blind turns and boulders for guard rails to the left and a shear drop off to the right. No room for error. I still think everyone was happier decending rather than climbing this beast. Unfortunately the route change forced us to ride into a constant headwind for the next 45 minutes.

During that time I spent alot of time pacing New Larry back to the group. The guy was only out for his 4th ride of the season and is preparing for a half Iron Man out in Cali. I asked him why he picked this ride to train on, wasn't his Iron Man a flat race? Nope, he said, the course will have over 5,400ft of climbing and when he saw the route profile for today, he needed to know what that much climbing felt like. I can respect that. But there's nothing worse than getting dropped from a group and riding 200m off the back while in an area unfamiliar to you. So I'd drop back and coach him and give him motivation, at times he would get a burst of energy and gap me leaving me to chase back up to him. By the time we made our way over to Gathland he told me he was cramping and to just point him in the direction of the cars. Bullshit I told him, you can finish the ride, just one more climb and we're headed home. I must have inspired him because he shot up the climb to Gathland like it was the start of a ride. I think Larry will do fine in his half Iron Man.

Sorry for the boring, pictureless post, I rode around for 4 hours with my camera in my pocket and forgot I even brought it.

I took the opportunity while I was out there to go visit my parents and grandfather and have dinner with them. We had a nice big beef pot pie (you just have to say it like Cartman). Unfotunately I couldn't stay since Gina was away and the dogs were cooped up inside all day. So I got home, played with the dogs, ate and passed out by 9:30.

Sunday was pretty uneventful, I decided to take a rest day after trying to comprehend my power profile from the day before. The numbers were just unreal. So Boulder and I cruised over to Avalon to hike the trails. When I got there I wish I'd gone to ride. The trails were frozen solid and just look super fast. Gina got home from visting her sister and I decided I didn't feel like cooking so we ordered up some Carrabbas. This is usually our safe meal when we eat out, it's always good and they have car side pick up which rocks, except for the fact that the Outback next to it does a hell of a lot more pick up business and the shared entrance to get to either of them was jammed with people waiting to get to Outback, the parking lot was a cluster F. After finally navigating around the Outback through their parking lot I got to Carrabbas and picked up our food and slipped out the back entrance. My trusty meal there is the Tagliarini Picchi Paccchui, bacically their fancy name for spaghetti with a crushed tomato, basil and olive oil sauce.

When I dove into my meal I was immediately disappointed, the pasta which I think is made fresh tasted all doughy and was under cooked. I couldn't even finish it, that never happens. Then last night either I couldn't sleep or was stuck in this restless sleep where I kept having the same dream over again. It may sound wierd but I always know when I'm going to get sick because of how I sleep, and this was it. I managed to get up and eat some muslei for breakfast but my stomach was not happy. Then Gina called me around lunch and said she didn't feel well either. I'm pretty sure it was the food. The more I see 20/20 and Dateline reports about the food industry the less I want to eat out anyway. I expect this shit from fast food, but I guess people are people and if some comes to work sick or doesn't wash their hands, you my friend are in for a gastrointestinal treat compliments of them. Worse part is this isn't the first time she's gotten sick after we've eaten out over the past month and a half, I think it's a sign to stop eating out and save our money for something important, like the new furnace we need to put in the house. Now that's going to be a tough check to write.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Well, I can't say I never got my moneys worth out of this $4 shift cable.

I've had my Madone for almost 2 years now and have never changed the cables. I guess that's since it's my road bike and it never shifted poorly on me once, but the last few rides have been hell.

The cable was so frayed I couldn't even pull it though the shifter. Ended up cutting it again and pulling it out strand by strand.
I must swap cables on my mountain bike at least 3 or 4 times a year if not more, I have never let one go this far, Leonard Zinn would be so disappointed.

When Hell Freezes Over

That's how I feel about the trainer, but damn it's 22 degrees and with the help of these 25mph winds the windchill makes it feel like 6. I can suffer but that's just insane. Hey Mike, you still communitng to work? To make things worse, Boulder has cabin fever. He's all wound up and the slightest sounds get him all out of sorts. Everytime the winds blows he thinks someone is outside and he runs around like maniac trying to find them. Then he wants outside and whines until I let him where he then quickly realizes no one is there and it's way too cold for him so he wants back in. The downside of working from home.

I've had to resign myself to the trainer this week, the trainer is actually a great workout, it's consistent, it's warm and you control the tempo of your workout, but alas it's so freakin' boring. I've heard stories of John Stamstad riding the trainer for 8 hours straight doing nothing but staring at a cinder block wall, it was his way of developing mental toughness. I guess that's how you win the Iditarod/Iditasport 8 years straight. No thanks. Even with an extensive movie collection and Boulder keeping me company I can't do it anymore, maybe I'm too spoiled with these extra long falls and short winters that even a week indoors is too much.
I can't wait for Saturday though, a group of us are heading out around Frederick to get some climbing in, tired of these flat Davidsonville rides. But first I need to put new cables on the road bike. I looked into the little gear indicator window on the cable housing and could see the cables were frayed and rusted, nice.

Since I grew up in the area I lead these rides and think up the routes, there are so many roads with little traffic it's hard to decide on a direction, but it's pretty much just up and down various spots on the Appalachian mountains. I enjoy putting these routes toghether, it's almost a cruel hobby. Here's the route profile for the weekend. I did promise the group no dirt roads this time, we'll see.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

NUMB 3rs

It's finally that time of year, the time when I struggle to go outside and ride or force myself onto the trainer. Mother Nature seems to finally be getting around to punishing us with some cold weather which is looking to get even colder here in the next week or so.

Saturday I went to listen to Hunter Allen present on training with power. I was impressed with the amount of knowledge he possesses and not just theoretical but practical. If I had the money for a coach I think he would be my first choice, but since I don't I have to settle for trying to decipher my own power files. What was also good was that he can take the science (complex math basically) and break it down into something a cyclist can understand. If it were Coogan lecturing I probably would have felt like Rob Morrow on Numb3rs trying to understand his genius brother explain how a math equation can solve a crime spree. Just give it to me straight doc, I'm a bit slow on the uptake.

Sunday I decided the trainer just wasn't going to cut it and that it WOULD get above freezing outside. I doubt it ever did and even so, the wind took any chance of it actually feeling that way out of the question. To prepare myself for the ride I prep'ed my usual high calorie breakfast, chocolate chip pancakes, here you go Nystrom, these pics are for you. About 2 1/2 hours into the ride I wish I went with the extra calorie version and added Nutella.

Oh, yeah. King syrup is the key. Aunt Jemima may have the pancakes but her syrup is just too watery.

Don't be afraid, they'll burn off after 3 hours of just trying to stay warm in this weather, not just from riding.

So let's just say it was cold, fortunately I took a backup set of gloves because 45 minutes into the ride I couldn't feel my hands. At about 2 hours, I tried to pull my fingers out of my glove using my teeth and couldn't figure out why my fingers wouldn't slip out. I finally realized as I was biting the tip of a glove finger my teeth weren't clenched together and that my finger must be in between them and that's why when I tugged the glove didn't come off. That was fun.

The worst part of the ride wasn't the cold though, it was riding down a hill I can usually coast over 25mph on and realizing I'm pedaling around 300 watts in the 39x15 and only going about 17mph. That sucked.

Looks like this week is indoors, the temps are in the 20's with the wind chill keeping it in the single digits. I hope it warms up as I've planned a team ride out in Frederick, time to get some serious miles in, the MASS schedule has finally been posted so there's something to work towards.