Friday, August 30, 2013

It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll

And you do want to rock n roll, don't you?
Put the pizza down, buttercup.  Chestnut's that way.
Up, up, up.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Not just a road

Sometime on the evening of my birthday, May 1 in 2006, I was living in Boulder, and my brother Shawn called me from Virginia with a great idea.  To summarize his points, the conversation went something like this:
1)  Happy Birthday.  You're older but you still suck the same amount.
2)  At the end of the summer, you should come East and do a couple of little rides with me on back to back weekends.
3)  Those rides are the Blue Ridge Extreme and the SM100
4)  I bought you an entry to both.
5)  You should put that birthday cake down, HTFU, and start training.  This is going to hurt.
6)  Happy Birthday.

On a whim, and since he'd already bought my entries, it was easy enough to say yes.  In hindsight, that conversation changed my life in gigantic ways.  I trained for the summer, became the sort of person that thought XTR was worth it, hopped aboard a plane, and I flew East at the end of August.  While here, two miracles happened:
1)  Although I'd never ridden an organized century before, I rode two in one week.  BRE was in its penultimate year, perhaps at its peak as an organized event, and it was amazing.  SM100, #8 I guess it was, had the same crisp September weather, and Shawn and I rode every inch of that thing together, finishing in 10:55 or something like that.
2)  I met my wife, the love of my life.

For obvious reasons, I moved back to Virginia from Colorado a few months later.

It's hard, sometimes - especially as an amateur racer with very little palpable reward to actually train for - to explain to people why a bike race is important to you.  Ditto that for a period of time - a week of a certain kind of weather in a certain season, for example, can have significance that is not easy to explain.  But this week changed my life seven years ago.  My brother, my wife, the weather, Virginia changed my life.  Shenandoah changed my life.

This will be my 6th crack at the SM100.  I've gone around that thing in as fast as 8:48 and as slow as DNS.  I've ridden four different bikes.  I've chosen twelve different tires.  I've toed the start line near the front, and right at the very back.  I've eaten everything from gummy bears to pizza at Aid Station #5 (I do not recommend you eat the pizza at Aid Station #5.)  I've watched no fewer than four people Cramp-Crash-Cramp on that first rock drop at the top of Chestnut.  The panic that ensues is really something.  I have seen the very devil.

In my head these days, I can ride myself through the course in about 20 minutes.  In reality, given the way that life and time have changed for me since that first trip around the GW with Shawn, if I can crack 9 hours it will be a miracle - which, given my history with the season, is possible.  But not likely.  Ditto that for the inverse, of course: I've been way more fit, but much slower. There are no guarantees.

Regardless of how it turns out, this week is sort of a monument for me, and so is the race.  It's seen me grow older, change a little for the better and a little for the worse.  It's been a marker vs. years prior, I think, a comparable point in life where I tend to take stock and see more clearly exactly who I was and who I'm becoming - not so much as an athlete, but as a person.  Some people do this on their birthday, I guess.  Some do it on New Years Eve.  But for me, mostly by circumstance, even though it's just a week and just a bike race, this week is the axis that the rest of my year pivots upon.

Now I'm not your coach.  But on Sunday, whoever you are, however good you are, however fast you're going, revert your eyes from that goddamn power meter for a minute on your way up to Aid #5, look up at the sky, and make yourself a moment: you are a part of something bigger than a bike race.  You are a better person because of it.

I've ridden this stretch of road alone, in pain.  Randomly, I've ridden it with Calvin Cheung twice, both times by fortunate coincidence, trading pulls and thinking about the clock.  I've ridden it with Shawn, this same road, telling jokes and wondering how far we've come.  In hindsight, we've come a long way.

It's a long haul up this bumpy road.
It's not just a road.

Up, up, up.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

At least not overtrained

With the Paranormal looming, might as well crank this one up again real loud; 'Tis the season.

 If YouTube were a cassette player, it would have eaten my Macklemore tape from overuse long, long ago.

I'm pretty psyched.  Costume ideas galore.

Get your ass registered.

Before the Paranormal though, there's a wee 100 mile bike race over in Stokesville to attend, make merry, and potentially vomit amid.  Big John in Richmond opted to withdraw from said vomiting, so I picked his entry up off waivers, and let me tell you I am ecstatic to go leave my mark on the hundo - that mark being a significant amount of exercise-induced diarrhea at the top of Mt. Hank.  In exchange for his entry, which he waived my way for free, I promised him I would get around that loop in either sub 9 hours, or 13 plus.  Nothing in between.  Good friends are hard to find.

In terms of cram training, I've been relying on the C-ham school of thought which places very little emphasis on rest or overall health and simply crams as many miles into a month as possible.  It might not be what your coach would prescribe, but at least I'll get to enjoy an awesomely long Sunday jaunt this weekend instead of tapering, whatever that is.  Ditto that for tonight's full moon night ride, to commence roundabout 6 PM.  Could get ugly.

I do have to hearken back, for a moment, to some of my past endeavors in this area.
It might occur to the run-of-the-mill mathematically conscious person: a hundred miles is a long, long way when you're lying on your handlebars, crawling along at 0.5 mph.  But that's September Dave's problem, not mine.  And what do I care about that guy anyway.  He sucks, and he whines a lot.

You know what I like?  Guys who do a big race off-form and say they're using it as training for their next big race.  I'd use that as an excuse for my gigantic upcoming SM100 bonk, but then when I still bonk at the Paranormal, 7 or so weeks later, it would be obvious that I just plain suck.  So I'll go with that.

This message will self-destruct in 60 miles.
Get in the holes, fellow crampers, and arm yourselves to the very teeth.

Wait for my signal.

Up, up, up.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Too fast to learn anything

You go to school to learn, kids.  Then, as soon as possible, eradicate all traces of such nonsense.

Make something of yourselves this weekend.

Up, up, up.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Paranormal Costume idea #34,983

Pee Wee Herman Skinsuit by Ralph Lauren.  
You're gonna like the way you look.  I guarantee it.

Oh, and by the way, the race date is now October 19th, owing to some scheduling conflicts and my personal need to decelerate all fitness in time to eat every milk dud under the sun by Halloween.

Reg is now up over here.

More to come.  Up, up, up.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Paranormal Email Template #1 and how to use it

Dear <insert your riding buddy's name here>,

The Paranormal is Saturday, October 26th this year.  I know, I know, you're <insert bullshit excuse #1 you know he'll make for why he can't race here> and you're <insert bullshit excuse #2 you know he'll make for why he can't race here>, and you've been <insert other bullshit activity he's taken up instead of riding here> and you tend to be <insert seasonal bullshit excuse here> around that time of year.

But here's the thing.  All of that <insert bullshit activity #1> and <insert bullshit activity #2 that he's probably not even doing anyway> isn't going to <insert existential notion of life's greater meaning> if you're <insert necessary result of being such a lazy, non-riding-his-bike asshole recently.>

I want to help you.  I know your bike has <insert bullshit bike mechanical problem he's been too lazy to fix for the last 18 months here> and your fitness is a little <insert some nice way of pointing out how absolutely gigantic his ass has become>.  But I can get you in touch with <insert local bike mechanic's name and contact info here> and I can even <insert a few training bro-dates here.>

But what I can't do is <insert friendly, jovial way of saying you can't ride his fucking bike for him.>

So <insert inspirational, sensory-based instruction #1 here>, <insert inspirational, sensory-based instruction #2 here>, and stop being such a <insert overall summation of how freakishly obese and terrible he's become in the last few months>.

Hugs and Kisses,

<insert your autosignature here>

Here, I'll show you.

Dear Ken Tank,

The Paranormal is Saturday, October 26th this year.  I know, I know, you're planning on building a haunted house for the kids and you're thinking about going to beach, and you've been really busy with extreme hottubbing and you tend to be pretty much consumed with eating all the fun size snickers east of Richmond around that time of year.

But here's the thing.  All of that lying around on the beach and extreme hottubbing isn't going to help you qualify for the Little Miss Williamsburg Pageant if your hamstrings look like cottage cheese, but paler. 

I want to help you.  I know your cranks have been creaking a little bit under all that torque, and your fitness is a little inconsistent.  But I can get you in touch with the fine folks at BRC and I can even do a big training ride with you tomorrow or Sunday, your choice.  

But what I can't do is ride your fucking bike for you.

So buckle up buttercup, burn your bra, and stop being such a bowl of soupy mashed potatoes all the time and come ride.

Hugs and Kisses,

Dave T.

Up, up, up.