Monday, July 25, 2011

Akea Product Trial Introduction

So... since I've gotten back on the bike I've obviously been much more active than I had been for some time. And I'm also Making it a point to pay closer attention to what I'm eating, drinking and so forth. I've also began doing some of the other basic things like starting to take a Daily Multivitamin, Some Protein powder two to three times a day, and I've also gotten myself on a Glucosamine regimen of 2000 mg a day (with an added 2000 mg of MSM as well).

But recently I've been talking to my Ex-Brother In-Law about a supplement he has been using for the last few years that he seems to have had great success with. Actually I don't know if "Supplement" is actually the correct term for the product. Most people think of Protein Powders and Creatine, as a "Supplement" and this is not what Akea is. I'm just getting familiar with the product, but from what I understand so far, it's more of a Vitamin Supplement (to replace my Daily Multivitamin) and if mixed with the proper ingredients can also be used as a meal replacement as well. To make it a proper meal replacement you would need to add a source of protein and beneficial fat (like linseed or flax seed etc). I plan on mixing mine with a protein powder and a flax seed oil. I will be replacing my breakfast (well actually I don't normally eat breakfast so I guess "replace" is the wrong term) And I will be using the blend as a major part of my lunches as well and I'll be trying to keep my dinners as "Healthy" as possible.

Another reason the term "Supplement" can cause misconceptions is that the term "Supplement" invokes thoughts of athletes or bodybuilders etc. And this product is not specifically designed for athletes. It's designed for "giving the body the nutritional support to help you reach optimal health" In other words the ingredients in the product are designed to give your body a dose of the things it needs, but doesn't get, in a typical diet. Obviously an athlete could benefit from this type of Supplement, but if the product does what it says, it could be equally beneficial to a non-athlete as it could be to an athlete.

So my plan is to try Akea out for a month and see what it does. I'll be replacing my Daily Multivitamin with it and I'll be using it for a foundation for my supplement regimen. I plan on continuing with the Glucosamine, MSM as I have been doing. And I will be updating the "Akea Trial" tab at the top of the page periodically over the course of the next month. (The "Akea Trial" will begin with a copy of this post) My bench mark will be the Wednesday Night rides I participate in weekly, since I'm not doing any other competitive riding as of now.

So, I invite you to come back often and check my progress. And if you would like any more information on the product check out .

I'll try to keep this interesting... and see you out there on the road!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Product Review: Energy Bars and Gels

So in preparation for my Century Ride this past weekend, I made my way down to my Favorite LBS to get some supplies. I originally went down to get a new Cassette, to get me some gears that would be more appropriate for hills and climbs. But while I was down there I decided to try out some of the Energy Gels and bars, realizing I would be on the bike for a longer period of time than I have been so far to date, since getting back on the bike. I knew I was going to need to carry a bit of food and I was already planning on taking my "Old Standby" Nature Valley Oats and Honey, Granola Bars, but I knew if I was going to be on the bike for 6 or 7 hours, and if I was going to be riding 40 miles further than I have to date, that I would need more than that.

In preparation for my longest outing to date, I decided it would be a good time
to try out a few various gels etc. to supplement my "Old Standby" Granola bars
So while I was at the shop, getting what I needed, I decided to try the GU Energy Gels and the Cliff Bar Shot blocks. I believe the GU Gels were about a buck a piece and the Shot blocks were around $2.00 (that's an estimation because I didn't really look at the price, I'll update when I talk to Gary and make sure of the price)

I already had the Granola Bars. I nearly always have a box of them in the pantry, because I almost always have one in my pocket when I'm riding just in case I need a quick bite to eat. I also already had a couple Clif Bars ready to go... the Carrot Cake Clif bar is my personal choice of the "Original line" of Clif Bars, there are a few others, like the Apricot flavor and the Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, that I like, but I tend to stay away from anything that has chocolate in it. The chocolate flavor just makes me WAY to thirsty. I also already had a Gatorade powder pack on hand. I tried one of these on my 4th of July ride and I have to admit, I was impressed. Just pour one of these in your water bottle, shake it up, and BAM, it tastes just like it's supposed to taste. It dissolves well too, where it doesn't leave a cake of powder at the bottom of your bottle, which is definitely a bonus when you get home and you're trying to clean it out.

But on to the new stuff... I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the Gu Energy Gels AND the Clif Shot Blocks. Normally I judge an energy bar etc on the fact that at best "It wasn't that bad" but the Gu Gel and Shot blocks were actually way past "not too bad" they were actually good.

I tried the Gu Energy Gel at about 40 miles. It was easy to open with one hand. Just tear the top tab off with your teeth and it's ready to go. I really didn't know what to expect about taste and texture. The one I tried was the Mandarin Orange. It was easy to eat, just one squeeze and it's all in your mouth. the taste was good, it actually tasted pretty much as described. And the texture was pretty much like... I would probably describe it as the same texture as Honey. The effects must have been pretty immediate because I had the Gu Gel as I started to feel a bit hungry, and after I took it, I felt just fine with no more hunger to speak of. I didn't need anything else to eat for another 30 miles, because it wasn't until about mile 70, I stopped for a few minutes at the Fisherman's Access (just North of my second pass by Lake and Los Cerritos) at Turlock Lake and ate my Natures Valley Oats and Honey bar.

At about mile 85, I opened the Clif Shot Blocks. Again, it was easy to open, just bite the end and they are ready to eat. There are six of them in the package, and between mile 85 and home I ate 4 of the 6 that were in the package. These things are not only good... I'd have to go as far as to say they are good to the point of being Dangerous good... or at least really expensive good. They were better than a lot of candy I've had. I had the Tropical Punch flavor and they were awesome. Their texture was kind of a cross between gum drops and Gummy bears. I can see where it would be equally easy to just eat one or to just let it dissolve in your mouth (depending on preference). They did make me a bit more thirsty than the Gu Gel did. But at the point in the ride I was eating them all it did was prompt me to drink more, like I should have been anyways. I ate them just at the point where I was starting to get hungry and they did just what I could have hoped they would do, and gave me a bit more energy to continue my ride just fine.

Bottom line is... I did a ride that was 40 miles longer than the one I completely bonkedGu Gel, 4 Shot Blocks, and ONE Natures Valley Granola bar (out of the picture, above, that's all I used) I got home feeling great having had a really good ride... take that for what you will.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Two more Milestones have been conquered

So since I've gotten back on the bike I have had various milestones that I have overcome. Some have been pretty big (for me), like getting my bike on the road, some have been pretty small like, in the beginning, riding 10 or 20 miles. But yesterday I accomplished two milestones that, in terms of riding, were pretty big for me. One was a first in 18 years and the other was a first ever.

The day didn't start out exactly how it was planned. A couple of friends of mine planned an 80 mile ride with a large group of riders that would make a loop out around Don Pedro Reservoir (The Map My Ride shown above). It was my intention to do this ride with the group. When I looked at the ride profile I saw there were a couple climbs... nothing too hard core, but definitely something I would need a different cassette for. I have been running a 12-21 Cassette, which works great for rides that are fairly close to home, but as you get up in to the foothills and beyond the 21 tooth high gear is no where near high enough. So, Friday, I made my way down to my Favorite LBS and got myself a SRAM 12-26 Cassette which is as good as it gets with my set up as the 12 (low gear) is the smallest cog that will work with my derailleur and the 26 (high gear) is the very largest my derailleur will handle. I also picked up some Energy Gels and some extra large water bottles as well.  After I got home from getting my new Cassette, I made it a point to go for a spin and check out the shifting etc. just to be sure everything would function properly. I rode about 30 miles at a fairly relaxed pace and everything was smooth and working perfectly. I could shift through all gears from either Small or Big Chain ring.

So... Saturday morning arrived... I got out of bed, had a bowl of Oatmeal, got all my things together and at about 7:00 off I went. Everything was going fine, until I made it about 10 miles away from home (which was about 12 miles from where I was going to meet the group, at the corner of Lake and Los Cerritos @ 8:30) It was at the corner of Whitmore and Hickman road... I shifted down in to my small chain ring because I was going to have to make a stop at the sign for traffic. After I got through the 4 way and started getting back up to speed I went to shift back up in to my Big chain ring and it was a no go. So I shifted back down and tried it again... STILL, no go. I got off my bike and took a look at what was going on and I couldn't for the life of me see what would cause the bike not to shift in to the big chain ring. I messed with it for a few minutes knowing that now the clock is ticking and if I don't get this square quick I'm going to be late. I kept trying to figure out what would be the cause and nothing was apparent. So I thought to myself... "Do you really want to ride what will end up 100 miles with a malfunctioning front derailleur?" I thought about just turning around and going home to fix the problem. But then I decided to just manually shift the damn thing in to the big ring and do this thing... But now I'm running late. When I got on to Lake Rd I had about 12 miles to go till I was at the corner I was supposed to be at, and it didn't seem like I was going to have enough time. So, I just beared down and started my Individual Time Trial to Los Cerritos Rd. What was supposed to be a nice moderate ride to the meeting place was now a pretty intense work out. At a couple points, I looked at my speedo, and I was registering 26 mph, 28 mph, 25 mph... I knew I still had a long ride to go but I figured I could just sit in the group if I caught up.

When I got to the corner of Lake and Los Cerritos, @ 8:39, I was expecting to find (rather, I was hoping to find) a group of riders... It turns out over 50 riders showed up for this ride... But the picture shows you what I found. I was 9 minute late and the group had moved on with out me. I tried to burn down Lake road (the direction they went) for a couple miles hoping to see thm but they were long gone. On the way back up the road, to the corner, I had a decision to make. I looked at my cyclecomputer and it was showing 22 miles... I thought to myself that if I went home now it would be a respectable 40 miles. But I was also thinking that I had set my goal of 80 to 100 miles for the day and 40 miles was no where near that goal... So, then the question popped in to my head... "What would Johnny Hoogerland do?" And the choice was clear. Johnny Hoogerland would point his bike in the direction of the finish line, he would MTFU, and he would start to pedal... regardless of having a small chain ring or not.

So that's what I did... I decided that I had left the house with the intention of riding an 80+ mile loop so I decided that I wasn't going to back out now. And I headed in my own direction down Los Cerritos road. I started working out a route that took me down roads that I was at least familiar with and began plotting a route that would be a 100 mile ride. I figured it was early, it was cool, and if I'm going to do my first Century in 18 years (and first ever SOLO Century) today was as good a day as any. I also wanted to work out a route that would keep me reasonably close to water and supplies if I needed them.

While I admit my course for a century was not an ideal one... where I rode down Lake Rd twice and made a double loop out of it... It was a good course to try myself out on a SOLO century where I was on familiar roads... I knew where I was at all times... and I wasn't a Million miles away from home, if something went wrong (or went worse than not having the ability to shift chain rings). All in all though it went really well, I was actually surprised I good I felt through out the entire ride, there were times near the end that I had wished I had the ability to go down in my small chain ring on the rollers once I started to feel the miles. But I stayed perfectly well hydrated, by stopping off at the Hickman store (my second time by) and the energy gels and Oatmeal bars were perfect for keeping the hunger away.

All in all... for having been back on the bike for 2 months after being off of it for 18 years... I'm pretty happy with myself for going ahead and doing the ride on my own even though I had problems in the morning. To do 102.4 miles by myself is something I had never done before. Every other time I've done a Century (back when I was in great riding shape) It had always been with a group of friends, where I had the benefit of a draft, and some riding companions to break up the monotony. I had every opportunity to turn off towards home at 50 miles (making it a 60 mile, or so ride) but didn't hesitate to continue on down the road and make my second loop. At about 70 miles I was feeling good, but I must admit that I began hearing Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin making race calls in my head... not sure if anyone else ever has this happen to them... Maybe it's just because we're in the middle of the Tour right now and I've been watching the coverage everyday, I'm not sure. Or maybe it was because I was getting delirious... All in all... I would have loved to ride with the group I originally set out to ride with, but the way it worked out, I'm happy with the way the ride went. I think I was able to answer some questions about myself I wouldn't have been able to answer if I had ridden with the group rather than going it alone. (But I will be doing that loop we were going to do... soon)

See ya out there on the roads!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Johnny Hoogerland eats nails for breakfast!

This dude is now my newest favorite rider. In his VERY FIRST Tour de France, after being in a break all day, and taking enough points to lead the King of the Mountains Competition in the Tour de France, getting taken out by a News car like he did would be enough to keep most riders down and give them cause to seriously consider abandoning the Tour.

But Johnny Hoogerland is a different sort of breed. The breed that has balls of steel, that causes him to get back on the bike and race. He raced hard enough that he STILL finished ahead of the final group of riders by over 5 minutes. That's the sort of stuff legends are made of.

Juan Antonio Flecha was also involved in the accident, as a matter of fact he was actually the rider that was taken out by the News car, and he went down HARD... I don't want to take anything away from his valiant effort in finishing the stage as well. But let's face it... Flecha didn't take out a solid wooden fence post, untangle himself from barbed wire, ride 35+ kilometers, bathed in his own blood, to the finish and pull on the Polka Dotted Jersey before going to the hospital for 33 stitches.

I figured I'd make this post about Hoogerland with a video of the wreck and a picture story of what unfolded afterwards...

And here are the pictures that tell the story of what happened during the stage and after the crash.

Hoogerland recieving medical attention from the medical
Hoogerland reaches the finish (and help from his father)
Complete and utter exhaustion
An emotional claim to the King of the Mountains
Polka Dotted Jersey.
Riding with his Father on the rest day (the day after the crash)
Recieving medical attention on his "rest" day. A cold treatment
also applies pressure... for the swelling.
Johnny Hoogerland could abandon the Tour tomorrow and still be a hero. But he has publicly said that he intends to defend the Polka Dots with everything he has. For a 28 year old rider in his first ever Tour de France, Johnny Hoogerland is an EPIC bicycle racer and from now on he will truly be one of my favorite riders.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Recipe: Three Bean Soup

So I recently found a recipe that's been a hit around our house. It's a simple Three Bean Soup recipe but I thought I'd share. It's nothing special, or fancy but it's good eatin!

You start by cutting a salt pork into edible bite sized pieces and pan-broil it until acceptably cooked. I then rinse the salt pork of any excess salt that has accumulated. That still keeps some salt for flavor but gets rid of any excess.

Now take 1 can of Kidney Beans, 1 can of Navy Beans, and 1 can of of White beans (I imagine you could substitute Black Beans, Pinto Beans etc but I've found the three I use to be tasty and don't plan to change)

Rinse the beans completely (If you don't, the soup is going to end up pretty salty). After the beans are rinsed throw them in a pot with:

Cooked and rinsed Salt Pork
1 can stewed Tomatoes (there are different flavors of stewed tomatoes you can use, I've used the Plain, Garlic seasoned, and Jalapeno Flavored, it's all a matter of taste)
1 Tablespoon minced Garlic
1 Onion chopped in medium sized pieces.
1 cup Chicken Broth

Then you cook it all up over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, let it cook for approx. 25 minutes (or until Onions are tender) and then let it stand a few minutes to thicken up and Viola! Crack open a Bud Light and enjoy an easy meal.

You can add pepper if desired. This feeds (in real life) 3 people. You can just double the recipe to make more (or triple it, or quadruple it... it's really good stuff!)

Product Review: Specialized BG Inserts

Since returning to the bike, I noticed I was having problems with my feet that I didn't have back when I used to race. Right about at 45 miles I was getting what is often described as "Hot Foot" where the balls of my feet were starting to go numb, and it was often getting so bad my middle toe would start to feel like it was being cut off by the time I would reach 50+ miles.

I knew this could be attributed, in part, to being new back on the bike. I was aware there would be different things that I would have to get my body accustomed to other than just the obvious... sitting on the saddle. But this problem with my feet seemed like it was due to something more than that and need to be corrected.

I knew my shoes where probably not the problem. I knew they were good (SIDI Genius 5.5) And as a rider, I have never worn anything other than SIDI shoes. Even with the years that went by, since I last rode, I knew my feet hadn't grown and I was using the same size I always had, so I was fairly confident the fit was good. So I moved my attention to the cleats. I knew that riders often set their cleats back towards the middle of the foot to alleviate these types of discomforts so I checked that as well.

After taking a look at my shoes and cleats (with no significant improvements) I decided to turn my attention to my inserts. SIDI makes great shoes, but they have never been known for having good inserts in them. So, I decided to do some research on some of the different insole options there are out there. I really got the BG Inserts by default. I liked the fact that Esole inserts are customizable and went to one of the LBS in the area and purchased the Esole kit they said I needed. But the guy at that LBS (that is also supposed to be their bike fitter) is a moron and sold me a kit that can only be used with Bontrager shoes, as it only contained the arch wedges and metatarsal pads and no actual insoles to attach them to. This was pretty disappointing, and I returned them the next day and, after they actually did some research they found that the kit (that actually included insoles) was going to have to be ordered AND was going to cost another $30 on top of the $50 I had already spent. I told them no thanks and took my $50 down the road to their sister store to look at BG Insoles.

The reason I didn't want to go with the BG Insoles from the start is they come in three different arch heights, and the shop I was purchasing them from didn't have any of the BG equipment to even tell me which arch height I actually need. (Not really sure how that makes any sense what so ever). So I went in and was asked if I need help. I said I needed some insoles and was promptly taken to the shoe section of the store. I started asking questions and it became very apparent the guy that was "helping" me was just another idiot like the guy at the last shop. I asked how I should decide on the arch height and he said "Well you can see through the side of the package, you can put it up next to your foot and your eye should be able to tell you which one you need." (Seriously???) I then said I notice the insoles come in different sizes, how should I figure out which size to buy because I have SIDI shoes and those are Specialized sizes which I know for a fact are not the same. He said I should just guess. (OK... WTH?) I told him "So I'm just supposed to guess about these insoles that are supposed to help my feet IF they fit properly, and just give you $50?" I then told him what we were going to do, is I'm going to go get my shoes out of the truck and we're going to open the ones I think will fit and see if they fit in my shoe. I also wanted to compare them side by side with the original inserts because if they were too thick they would essentially make my shoes too small. He didn't like that idea, but at that point I really didn't give a shit. They looked to be ok, I found the size that fit best (with minimal trimming) and found the ones I wanted.

I ended up getting the lowest arch (Red) insloes. And the first day I rode with them, I rode 60 miles with absolutely no problems. My feet had some SLIGHT irritation at the end but I'm sure that can be contributed to being new back on the bike. I absolutely think the "Metatarsal button" on the inserts works outstanding for the "Hot Foot" and would recommend these insoles absolutely... I just wish now that I had gotten the Blue (medium) arch support because I think it would fit my arch better (but not much). It's funny because that was EXACTLY what I thought would happen and EXACTLY why I didn't go with them from the beginning.

The moral of the story is... BG Fit Insoles are great overall... the bikes shops in Modesto, on the other hand, are NOT great overall.

First Wednesday Night Group ride in 18 years

Ok... So I know I'm a few days behind on my posting, and I'll be trying to catch up and be a bit more current... but a few days ago I decided to go ahead and dive in to a Wednesday Night Group ride for the first time in a million years and figured I'd jot down some thoughts.

I decided to ride in to Turlock so that when I got dropped I could just make my return directly home rather than having to return in to Turlock to get my truck. I knew I would get dropped at some point because I knew my fitness level was nowhere near what it needs to be to stay with the group.

The ride starts at Cycle Masters in Turlock (see my Favorite Shop here) and goes out through town to Keyes Rd, then up to Hawkins Rd. and right on Lake on out towards Turlock Lake. My hope was to make it to the end of Hawkins Rd. and then to just turn Left down Lake back towards home. I must say I was humbled a bit in that I didn't even make it to Hawkins Rd. with the group. I felt good but was quickly dropped when the pace was picked up. Much of it had to do with the fact that I was caught out in the wind due to my complete lack of comfort riding in a pack of riders. I went ahead and turned Left down Lake (rather than turning around and heading back down Hawkins, like many of the other riders do) because I knew that I could get some water etc. at the Hickman Store. Turning back down Hawkins leaves you out where there's no where to top off on water. And considering the fact that when I left my house (on the start of my ride) it was over 100 degrees, I wasn't taking any chances (been there, done that, see here)

All in all though it was a good experience. It was good getting back in to a fairly big group of riders, even though I wasn't all that comfortable with it... but that will come with time. Now at least I have another gauge of where I'm at, and know some more things I need to improve on. I'll definitely be making myself a regular on Wednesday night from now on, because it's a great way to get back to feeling good close to other riders. My goal will continue to be: Make it to the end of Hawkins Rd. with the group. When I accomplish it, we'll see where the goals will get set from there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Product Review: Coppertone Sport

Ok... So I realize Sunblock is not the most exciting thing to write about. But, my recent experiences with Coppertone Sport 30 SPF Ultra Sweatproof (Clear Continuous Spray) is something that I'm pretty excited about. This stuff is, hands down, the best sunblock I've ever used. Up until recently, the drawbacks, and hassles, of sunblock had always caused me not to use any. Between having to rub it in, and having greasy hands after application, and having it drip in my eyes... I always hated using any type of sunblock. But after recently hearing about a few friends of mine having skin cancer scares (some even having to have surgery) I decided I'd better start trying to find a sun block that would work for me. And I found it. This stuff just sprays on and you can forget it. No rubbing it in. No greasy hands, and BEST OF ALL... I have not had it roll in to my eyes at all. I still get the sun tan from being out in the sun... a cyclist has to be able to work on those awesome tan lines after all... but I have not even come close to burning one time since using this product.

4th of July ride

Ok... So I'm trying to play catch up on my posting here. I haven't been keeping up much lately, because there's not much to talk about when you're riding all by yourself all the time. All there is, really, to say is "I rode from point A to point B and I rode this fast." That's really nothing anyone else wants to read and, really, it's not exciting enough to post about.

But 4th of July this year was a different sort of ride. I actually rode with people (GASP) and the people weren't named "me" and "myself" (LOL). I actually got to ride with a really good friend of mine, I used to ride with back in "the day", and 4 other great guys, and it was really a lot of fun.

We started out from Fun Sport Bikes (meh), but other than that the ride was great (LOL). We rode out towards Knights Ferry, the guys kept up a great pace, made me work to keep up a bit but didn't totally destroy me (I appreciate that). When I would get in a bit of trouble, and start to fall off the pace a bit, my buddy Givo would just simply push me back up in to the draft.

"Downtown" Knights Ferry.
We made it in to Knights Ferry and continued on, down in to the Park, where we were able to top off our bottles and take a minute to rest up a bit (ok, maybe I was the only one of that needed any rest) and then we pulled out and headed back out of town.  On the way back out of town, there's a bit of a hill we had to "climb" to get back out of town. It's only about a quarter of a mile. I know the riders I was with wouldn't consider it a "climb" and neither did I, back when I used to ride... But it was a "climb" for me now. When you consider the fact that I haven't riden in over 15 years (up until a couple months ago) and the fact that I'm carrying about 30 extra pounds from when I used to ride, and the fact that I'm using gears that, even when I was in good form, I would have used strictly for flat rides and flat races, the climb was a pretty good one. I had to "switchback" to lower the grade of the hill, it was a humbling experience... but I've had quite a few "humbling experiences" since getting back on the bike, it was nothing new.

I made it to the top of the hill, none the worse for wear, and Givo had waited up for me at the top. He paced me back to the rest of the guys... we made it back up to them pretty quickly actually... and we continued down the road. We had a few more rollers and just before Orange Blossom park I lost touch with the group again, this time I just couldn't keep pace. We were about 40 miles in to the 60 mile ride. I felt fine, I hadn't "blown up" or anything of that sort, I just couldn't keep up with the other guys. All the other guys I was riding with were pretty strong riders so the fact that I was dropped at that point was really no suprise. I actually had figured I would have been dropped long before that going in to the ride. I made it up the road a bit and then saw Givo... waiting for me again. I caught back up to him and he paced me back in to Oakdale, where we stopped at a Market and got some water. The other 4 guys had taken a less direct route with some rollers and ended up coming up on the Market just after we did.

After the stop at the market we continued on down the road, the other guys made the turn towards Modesto and I headed on home to Hughson on my own. Overall... I have to say... that was the best ride I've had in a long LONG time. It was a great day. I had a lot of fun riding with a group of really good guys (and strong riders) but the best part was being able to ride with one of my very best friends from the racing days... it was really great riding with Givo again, and I look forward to making the most of every opportunity I have to ride with him again in the future.

See ya out there on the road!

Monday, June 20, 2011

What a difference a week makes

So last weekend I set out to do a couple rides on Saturday and Sunday that would push myself a little bit farther than I been thus far since getting back on the bike. I decided to get out and venture a little farther out and get some rollers in. Last Saturday I felt pretty good but Sunday was a bit of a nightmare.

So this weekend I decided to go ahead and try it again. I set it in my head that I would do the same rides this weekend that I did last weekend and atone for the mistakes I made.

Saturday I did the same loop... the "Wednesday night short course" which took me out Montpellier road and Keyes Rd to Hawkins Rd, back down Lake Rd to Hickman and then home via Whitmore Rd back to Hughson. When I completed the loop and got back to the Hickman Store and resupplied my water bottles I still felt good so I decided to do the loop a second time which added about 13 miles over what I had done last weekend. On the way home I felt pretty accomplished that I was feeling good and at 53.7 miles it was ending up just 4 miles short of it being my longest ride to date (my longest ride to date at that time was the disaster that was last weeks Sunday ride)

Sunday's ride was the same ride as the week before. But I made some crucial adjustments. I started out in the morning (a little later than I wanted at 10:00 AM) instead of 2:00 in the afternoon. And I took a third water bottle in my jersey. The ride out Montpellier was pretty decent. There was a very strong tail wind, that I knew I would be dealing with as a head wind on the way back, so I kept a good pace but tried not to over do it. Turlock Rd was also fairly easy to keep a 20-22 mph pace going but when I turned on to Cox Ferry I knew I had been right about having a head wind on the way home. But at the point when I got on to Cox Ferry I had twice as much water as I did the weekend before, at the same point in the ride. And I also knew where I was and how far it was home... the weekend before I just going off of how far I THOUGHT it was home. I made it over Cox Ferry with a lot less effort than I thought it would be and headed down Keyes Rd. I was able to keep the pace up fairly well, even with the head/cross wind. When I turned down Hawkins I was still feeling pretty fresh (and I still had water... BIG PLUS) I made my way back down Lake Rd. and to the Hickman store and was still fresh enough to think about doing the Hawkins loop a second time. I decided to pack it in... I accomplished what I needed to... and it was beginning to get hot, and I was starting to develop a strong case of hot foot again.

I got home and felt about 1,000,000% better than I did on the ride the week before. Took a shower and cleaned up and then Jen and I set out to do some Father's day visiting with family. It felt pretty good to be able to do the same rides (+13 miles) I did last weekend, but felt much better and was actually able to function afterwards. It's a small milestone but a milestone none the less.

See ya out there on the roads!

Monday, June 13, 2011

First new post in nearly 2 weeks...

I probably should have been posting more the last two weeks, but you know how it is... life gets busy and certain things don't get done. Unfortunately I've been away from the bike (for the most part) the last couple weeks too. But I decided to change that, this weekend.

Saturday, I rounded up my most loyal riding partners.... me and myself... and the three of us took out on the road. I didn't really know where I wanted to go, to begin with, but decided to head down Montpellier Rd because riding south gives me a fairly good tailwind to get out away from the traffic. When I approached Keyes Rd, I felt pretty good and I decided to take a left turn and follow what I know as the "Wednesday Night Short Course" (Wednesday Night rides are the rides that have been coming out of CycleMasters in Turlock for longer than I can remember... they have had to have been going on for over 25 years now) knowing that upon completion it would be my longest ride to date since getting back on the bike... and also knowing that it would take me on what has been dubbed, for years, as Roller Coaster Rd (Hawkins Rd). With the exception of being caught in the wrong gear on one of the rollers on Hawkins I was able to complete the ride and felt much better than I thought I would upon completion. And it was nice to be able to gauge myself on a ride that I know from back in "The Good Old Days".

With the confidence that I gained from my Saturday ride, I decided to up the ante and gather my riding partners again, and set out and take on an even more ambitious ride than my Saturday ride (even though Saturday was 10 miles longer than I had gone since getting back on the bike) I decided to set out and do the Wednesday Night Long Course AND Short Course... which would include 2 "Roller Coaster Roads" Hawkins and Cox Ferry. I wasn't sure how much longer the ride was going to be, than the day before, but I was figuring it would go about 20 miles farther than I had gone to date. So I gathered my Power Bars and my Water Bottles and off I went. Starting off at about 2:00 PM

The ride started out well. I had a nice tail wind all the way down Montpellier Rd. I turned down Turlock Rd and still felt pretty good. No real head wind (it was actually a cross wind from slightly behind). Turlock Rd to Cox Ferry was a LOT longer than I remember. But it was nice to see the familiar scenery from back in the day. I also remember that Turlock road was the last ride I did back when I used to ride... it was the road that my knee problems came to a head years ago. When I made it to the Catholic Church in Hopeton I thought about stopping and getting some more water, even though I still had one full bottle... I didn't... that would end up being a big mistake. I was still feeling good a couple miles down the road when I saw the turn on to Cox Ferry. I made it up and down all the Rollers on Cox Ferry with relative ease. It brought back a lot of memories rolling down the road. I think every thing on that road is EXACTLY the same as it was 15 years ago.

Looking down on the last Roller of Cox Ferry Rd, the turn on to Keyes Rd is
just beyond the rise in the picture.

When I turned off of Cox Ferry and on to Keyes Rd. I thought I was home free. I still felt pretty good and I still had about 3/4 of a water bottle to go. I thought it wouldn't be long until I saw Hawkins and I'd be on the way home. WRONG... I totally misjudged, and forgot how far it was from Cox Ferry to Hawkins, it was at least twice as far as I figured. And there are a LOT more rollers on Keyes Rd. than I remembered... I think there is some kind of fault line on Keyes Rd. and the rollers have grown to double their size that they were 15-20 years ago (at least that is what I was telling myself as I was riding).

I finally saw the power lines in the distance going off to the Right and knew I was approaching Hawkins Rd. At least now I would be on roads that I had a recent familiarity with, but when I took a drink from my water bottle I knew I was in a bit of a spot. I only had about 1/2 a bottle and I knew I had a ways to go, and it was still fairly hot. I knew if I went home via Keyes Rd. I would cut out the rollers of Hawkins Rd. But I also knew I would be facing a pretty good head wind on Montpellier if I went that way. The rollers of Hawkins pretty much negate the effects of the head wind. And I also had in my mind, that I was going to do the ride I set out to do, and not wuss out. In retrospect, I probably should have just gone back home via Keyes

I started the rollers on Hawkins feeling good, but about half way to Lake Rd. I started feeling the effects. I also ran dry of water. I knew I only had about 8 miles until I would reach the Hickman store where I could get some water and Gatorade or whatever else I needed. But I didn't realize what kind of state I would be in by the time I covered those 8 miles. The roads seemed to be steeper, it seemed like the miles were clicking by slower, my feet started to go numb, and it's amazing how much more thirsty you get when you know you don't have water. I continued on and finally got past all the hills that Lake Rd. has to offer. I was on the flats and I knew there was only one more potential obstacle between me and the Hickman store... the dog that had chased me the day before. That dog really hadn't been a bother on Saturday... but I had also been feeling pretty good when I came upon it... today was a different story. I just didn't feel like I had the legs to move if I needed to. I was spinning a small gear just to try to reserve what ever I had left to get home and I just didn't need a chase to raise my adrenaline at this point. Turns out the dog must have been sleeping or something because I didn't hear a peep out of it.

So, I finally got to the Hickman Store... that run down old shack never looked better. I was able to get some water for one bottle and some Gatorade from the other. Now I had some liquids to help me out. I had a seat and chilled out for a few minutes before getting back on and doing the last 6 or 8 miles back home. But the effects of running dry for so long had already taken effect. I suffered like never before for the last leg of the ride. I literally had to verbally talk myself in to finishing the end of the ride rather than getting off the bike and laying down on the side of the road. But I made it... and I did the ride I set out to do. And I learned some valuable lessons in the process...

NEVER judge a ride on what you remember from 15+ years ago when you were in elite riding form.
NEVER pass up the opportunity to get water, when you are out on the road a million miles away from nowhere.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Start of a new week

Well it looks like I'm over my flu and other random crap that came up last week. I had to pretty much chalk last week up to nothing doing due to a pretty good bought with the flu that also included a bladder and kidney infection as a little bonus. Things seem to be getting back to normal, but I'm pounding Cranberry/Pomegranate like a College Senior pounds Keystone on a Friday night.

All in all though I'm feeling much better. I decided to take a ride yesterday and see where it takes me, without any real goals for distance, and I'm still not really concerned with running my Heart Rate Monitor yet. I ended up putting in 24.5 miles at about 14.5 avg. Considering the winds were blowing pretty good yesterday and I put myself directly into the headwind most of the way home, dropping my avg. And adding in the fact that I'm just getting over the flu, I was pretty happy with the results.

It's probably a good thing I wasn't hooked up to my heart rate monitor because I had my first meeting with a dog on the road in 18 years, and my Heart Rate Monitor probably would have been flashing "HEART ATTACK"... It's funny because I was just talking about the to my wife the other day wondering how long it would be before I got chased. So I got chased by two dogs... turns out they were really only looking to play, one got pretty close at first, but then settled in and just started running along side me for a while. The MUCH scarier part was later on when I was riding along and saw a goose in the road (YES, I said goose) It was just "chillin" in the middle of the road, I didn't think much of it, I gave it a little space, as I tried to pass it, but as soon as I got next to it, that son of a bitch was out for blood! It started running at me, honking and flapping it's wings... I think that thing wanted a piece of meat.

So I definitely got a couple of ,unintended, intervals in, but all in all it was a pretty good ride. I felt good most of the way, even with the head wind. And I felt good the rest of the evening after I got a shower and cleaned up. So good, in fact, Jen and I were able to run over to the Lowe's in Turlock and then come home and do some landscaping later on in the evening.

Ok... ok... so it's a work in progress. I know I have to crack the whip on the kids mowing the lawn and, as you can see from the pots etc. in the back planter bed everything isn't complete. But that's not because we (I) ran out of energy, it's because we ran out of Daylight. All in all, I think it's turning out pretty good, and I'm pretty happy I was still able to do it, just after doing my longest ride in a long, long time.

See ya out there on the road.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amgen Tour of California, Stage 3

Well the Amgen Tour of California came to town on Tuesday. My oldest son and I went down to have a look at what was going on. I've been meaning to make it down to the race the last couple years when it passed through but have just never had the opportunity. I made sure to make time to get down to it this year (despite battling with the flu). And I'm really glad we got to go.

We made sure to get Downtown early, about 2 hours before the race was scheduled to make it in to town. This gave us an opportunity to find a good place to park and make it to the vedor booths before finding a good place at the barriers to watch the riders come by.

After we checked out the booths down the street from the Start/Finish line we made our way down to find a good spot to watch the action. We found a place about 100 meters from the Finish line where we could watch the final sprint, but we could also watch the big screen of the race footage as the riders got closer to town.

When the riders arrived, their first pass was pretty much a blur, the riders took up pretty much the entire width of the road, and flew on down past the Start/Finish. They completed 2 cicuits around Downtown Modesto, there were a couple of small crashes on the course but nothing that looked too bad. We were able to continue watching the race as it went on on the big screen behind us. When it was all said and done Ben Henderson from the Sky team dominated the Peloton beating Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Thor Hushovd (Garmin Cervelo) for the win.

Ben Henderson (Sky) dominated the peloton in a sprint aided by a fairly strong
tailwind. Henderson took the sprint from a little more than 300 meters out
and never relinquished.
Modesto is said to be one of the favorite stops for the Amgen Tour of California... A favorite for promoters and riders alike. This years stop didn't look like it dissappointed. The crowd control was great, the course was baricaded to Pro Tour standards. The crowd turn out was awesome... I'm glad my home town can play host to a stage of a truely top notch Pro Tour event and I hope it continues to do so in the future.

(There are more pictures of the event on my Facebook page.... The Prodigal Cyclist)

Modesto Criterium

So, we had a ton of fun at the Modesto Criterium last weekend. My sons and I went out to have a look, since the race was in our own backyard. Turns out we met up with a bunch of my friends from the "Good 'ole Days" and everyone had a pretty good time.

Jeremy dictating the pace in the
Masters 35+ 1,2,3 race

Rich (white helmet) in the Field of the
Masters 35+ 1,2,3 race
A couple of my friends ended up racing. A couple just came out to see what was going on, like we did. And we met up with another, later on, at a friends house for an impromptu Barbecue. I'm sure the two friends of mine that raced would have liked to have had better results, but for an early season race I think they both did just fine.
Jeremy dictated the pace for the majority of the Masters 35+ 1,2,3 Race, and also went on to have a strong race and Field Finish in the Senior 1,2,3 Pro race later on in the afternoon. Rich was able to steal (inside joke) all of the Prime Laps in the Masters 35+ 1,2,3 race and also went on to have a strong race a Field Finish in the Senior 1,2,3 Pro race as well.

After the race, a few of us all gathered up at Todd's house for an awesome BBQ, some movies of the "Good ole Days" and some reminiscing of days gone by. It looks like most of my friends have been away from the bike at one time or another and they have all since returned. But now that we've all returned (to differing degrees) we'll have to see if we can get in some rides like we did back in the day. Either way, it's good to have seen the old friends and I hope we stay in touch much better than we have since the last time we were together.

Me, Mark, Jeremy, Todd and Givo at Todd's house for a nice after race BBQ.
See you on the road...