It’s February on the Front Range side of the Rockies. Lots of snow this year and lots of cold, keeping the snow in place. It’s so cold, I don’t really want to even go to the garage for my trainer. The positive side is that I continue to recover and heal from last season. I also have plenty of time to read. Which is good.
I have three new books I’m working through: two fitness and mobility and one history. I received and started reading Becoming a Supple Leopard, by Dr. Kelly Starrett and Glen Cordoza as well as Power, Speed, Endurance, by Brian Mackenzie. For you Crossfitters, you will recognize the names. Both believe form and technique are all-important. The pair also host a web-show called “Genetic Potential” (http://www.geneticpotentialtv.com). The two books have already been helpful in my weight lifting. I look forward to better weather so I can put some of the “Skill-based approach to endurance training” into action.
Both of these books are pretty big. They are also relatively pricy, $60 for Starrett’s book and $40 for Mackenzie’s, but both are worth their weights in gold.
The history, or perhaps exposé, is Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell. It takes a close look at the Armstrong/EPO era of cycling and the USPS domination of the Tour de France due at least in part to their massive doping conspiracy. I have not gotten too far in it so far, but it has been pretty good.
I picked up a new pair of Specialized Expert road shoes this week; part of the reason I am impatient for warmer weather. Specialized shoes have always fit my feet better. I have tried any number of shoes, both in-store and out on the road and trail. Pearl Izumi shoes are fine, but like many, don’t fit my forefoot very well. Sidi are spectacular, but expensive. Specialized fit well, have plenty of stiffness and are a great bargain. The Expert level is, for me, the best bang for the buck. At $200, they are not cheap. They are, however, noticeably stiffer than the Comp level shoe, which is $40 cheaper. They are not as stiff as the Pro or S-Works level, but $75 less than the Pro and half the price of the S-Works.
As most of my road riding is recreational, I don’t need a Pro or S-Works shoe. I do, however, like a good, stiff shoe when climbing the Rockies, which is just part of living in this part of the world. While I got a cool white shoe last time, I quickly realized why we mere mortals don’t usually get white cycling shoes: schmutz. They got dirty in a big hurry. I got black this time around. This is not the only difference between the two, either. Like so many things, these days, the trickle-down from the top models of years past has made today’s Expert shoe better than even the Pro or S-Works of years ago.
This year’s Expert has the Colorado-made Boa closure, making a very exact and custom fit. The shoes tighten with a sort of microfiliment, like a fishing line, wound around a small spool. Twist the little knob to tighten and pull up to loosen. It’s the technology that was only on the top-of-the-line shoe a few years back. I’m looking forward to riding with them . . . some day.
Still snowing. Makes me wish for warmer climates . . . like perhaps Jamaica. Okay, kind of a clumsy transition, but it works. A high school buddy of mine lost his job at the worst of the economic down-turn a few years back. He had been smart with his money up to that point, so he had a chance to start a charity, along with his Jamaican-born wife. Randy and Sonia Duncan-Boba founded the EAASY Foundation to bring “Empowerment through Athletic and Academic Support of Youth.” While the foundation funds local programs throughout the world, their hearts are clearly in Jamaica. Check out their fundraiser jersey. You may have to hit “Download” after you connect with the Dropbox page. It’s a bit expensive, but without a doubt, it’s for a great cause. They go for $150, on par with many top-of-the-line jerseys, and this one is put together by Fast Freddie, the new cycling clothing brand by current US road champion, Fast Freddie Rodriguez. $25 dollars from each sale goes to the foundation.
So this also leads into my own fundraising endeavor; The Courage Classic! This is the 25th year of the ride that raises money for Children’s Hospital Colorado. The last few editions have featured route changes, due to sink holes and carcinogenic insulation removal. Who knows what this year’s route will be, other than great fun. The ride is the icing on the cake. The whole point, and the competitive side, is the raising of money for the hospital foundation. They require a $300 minimum of donations to ride, but that really is not much. Get involved, or at least donate. I will have a link to my team’s page in two weeks.
One last bit of business. My intervals between posts have gotten kinda long. I apologise. I am taking on some more challenges. I’m still part-time with the newspaper up here, as well as full-time with my new gig, Harmony Foundation, leading two Spinning classes a week and photographing the occasional wedding, I am also taking classes to become a Certified Addiction Counsellor. If you’ve known me for a while, you already know I have the background for this. As a result, these posts will be shorter for a little while. I still have plenty of fun lined up for this, so please don’t go away.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going studying . . . then riding!
Like a lot of life, cycling is not always predictable. Anything can happen, not just during the ride, itself, but even well before hand. Last season it was a crash that changed my training. A sink hole near Leadville changed the Courage Classic route while wildfire smoke forced a modification in the Ride the Rockies. These are things we can’t control. So what can be done? What can you do to prepare? Practice a good attitude.
I received an e-mail this morning telling me that there would be a change in the Courage Classic route again this year. Lake County High School is removing asbestos, so the usual day 1 start and day 3 finish had to be scrapped. The up side, for me, is the chance to ride the 80-mile Copper Triangle.
And that’s the difference. I can’t do anything about asbestos removal. I am actually happy not to be around that stuff. I have to find the positive. I have not ridden the whole Copper Triangle route; Copper Mountain to Leadville to Minturn, over Vail Pass and back to Copper. This will be a great day. I’m kind of big, but I will enjoy dragging myself up to Leadville and back over the west side of Vail Pass. I look forward to encouraging other riders up and over. I even, or perhaps especially, look forward to dragging the light little climbers to the foot of that last climb outside of Vail.
Attitude is the most important part of this sport. Dreading a climb only makes the suffering worse. Look forward to the climbs. Look forward to the wind. Smile as much as you can. It makes a huge difference.
Of course, preparation is pretty important, as well. Get out and ride hills. Go stick your nose out in the wind. Practice the things you will need to know. I had an e-mail not too long ago concerning changing tires. The pros have mechanics who hop out of following cars to change the whole wheel. We, mere mortals, have to figure out how to change those tubes and re-inflate the tube to get back into the ride.
First, be patient. Delays happen. Try not to schedule the rest of your day too tightly around a ride. Second, as I have discovered, swearing and flailing arms doesn’t get the tube changed any faster. After much research, I make that statement with confidences.
Next, get off the road. Like most cycling things, you want to make sure you are being as safe as reasonably possible. Find a nice rock or tuft of grass. Think of this as a short recovery.
At this point I should mention, when training, you should have tire levers and a small repair kit with you. That said, find those levers. Stick the end that looks like a scoop in between the tire beed and the rim. Take the second one and do the same, fairly close to the first one, then lever those things to pull the beed off of the rim. This can require a bit of effort if it’s colder out. Again, be patient. Losing one’s mind now only leads to bleeding knuckles and lost levers.
The levers often come in threes, anymore. If that’s the case for you, take the third lever, stick it in between the beed and the tire, again, and not between the other two levers. Now, pull that third lever around the rim to get the tire beed loose.
Now remove the old tube. Next, carefully run your hands around the inside of the tire to find what might have caused the flat. Again, be careful, in case there is a hunk of glass or a nail in there. Once you have removed the offending piece, get back to the tube.
Blow a little air into the tube. Run your hand around the tube to find the hole. If you are sure this was not a pinch flat, caused by low air in the tube, then a bump, causing the rim to pinch a hole in the tube, rough up the area around the hole. If you have “speed patches”, apply the patch. If not, pull out the rubber cement from your flat kit. You do have a flat kit, right? Spread a little on the area you just roughed up. Let the cement cure or dry just a bit, then apply the patch. Rub the patch a bit to make sure it has adhered to the tube. Next, retrace your steps.
Recheck the tire to make sure you didn’t miss a thorn or anything. Blow a little air back into the tube, which makes replacing it on the rim a bit easier. Stick it back inside the tire, then let the air back out. Re-seat the tire beed on the rim. Check to make sure no part of the tube is pinched between the tire and the rim. This will ruin the whole process pretty quickly. Once you’re sure the tube is completely inside the tire, pump the tire back up and be on your way.
There is a lazier way, but I only recommend it for races and organized ride. Bring a CO2 cartridge and an extra tube. Put the bad tube in your jersey pocket. Never toss on old tube on the ground. It’s littering, as well as inviting bad karma. Much quicker but more expensive and a bit wasteful. Save it for big events.
One more thing really quickly; we are now approaching week three of training. We should be up to two rides equalling 30 mile during the week and one 20-mile ride on the weekend. If you know your normal average speed outside, apply that to an indoor class, if you need to. I rarely get to ride outside during the week, but I teach three classes a week, which evens out.
We are supposed to see snow all weekend. It must be nearly spring. Find a good, hard indoor class or find a video for riding your trainer. I will have an exciting announcement concerning such videos probably next week.