Monday, March 30, 2009

30 March 2009

Started watching "Braveheart" this morning while making a feeble attempt on the trainer (more on that in a minute); I love this story. Mel Gibson did an awesome job of depicting one occasion in which the people stand up to an overbearing, overtaxing, oppressive government and remind them that governments are established on this earth to serve the people, not the other way around. Hello, Washington?!?!?
Just wanted to spin a little this morning, get a few miles in and loosen up after yesterday. Would have liked to have gone a little longer, but I did good to keep my sore tush in the saddle for 10 miles. I'll try again tomorrow, one day left to make my March goal. We'll see.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

29 March 2009

The photo you see of a very frightening apparition is what I like to call, "My Pollenated Bean." You see, it's near the end of the month and I would very much like to achieve my stated goal of 510 miles for March; I'm a little behind. Seeing as I am going on a field trip with my son tomorrow, which takes precedence over anything else because I have missed so much of his early years, I cannot ride on an otherwise perfect Monday (72 degrees and sunny, winds about 5mph, you get the picture), I chose to attempt to go the distance today (Sunday). I wanted to do a century this afternoon, and made one heck of an effort, but alas, it was not to be. I am awful doggone proud of what I did manage, though. I struggled against low 50's and winds of 15-20mph and still put 72 miles behind me at an average of 16.5mph; before I called my wife and asked her to come get me. I had taken a beating trying to "circum-cycle" Lake Murray, and it seemed that every way I turned the wind was in my face. There were gusts of wind that seemed to nearly stop me dead in my tracks. At times, I would be on only a slight incline and only a whisper away from calling on Granny. It was a great ride! So, why the picture? Because when my wife picked me up, AFTER having several conversations at the C-store where I bought coffee and waited for her, she looked at me and said, "You have pollen all over you!" No wonder everyone looked at me funny. It wasn't my fat behind stuffed into spandex shorts after all! I had been pollenated in all the wind and was clueless. That's cool, I am often clueless. I still had a great ride.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

28 March 2009

Back on the tRAINer today, I think my neighbor is building an ark. It's been raining for a couple of days now, hopefully will clear out overnight tonight. I want to get some road time in tomorrow afternoon, even though it's supposed to be REALLY windy.
Watched the first hour of MIB II while doing some slogging. That's my term for what I do now: five minute intervals, first in an easier though still resistant gear at about 80-85rpm, then in the hardest gear I have just powering it out best as I can (40ish rpm). It really feels like climbing hwy. 80. Now I am going to a fish fry to get my calories back; it's a fundraiser for a 12-year-old boy with brain cancer. No one should have to struggle up a hill like that one. Pray for Chase.
Be blessed, and be safe.

Friday, March 27, 2009

27 March 2009

If I am not careful, I could fall short of this month's mileage goal. I am currently 146.76 miles shy of my 510 mile goal, with only four days left in the month. Looks like rain tomorrow (Saturday), becoming nice and sunny on Sunday but really windy. I guess wind just helps the workout, right?
Knocked out a few miles on the trainer today, nearly 25, while watching Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in "Men in Black." I like these guys and it's an entertaining flick, so pedaling for an hour and a half wasn't too bad.
Talked with my brother today and got some good ideas for some hardware changes for my bike. See, this past Saturday when we were riding in the mountains, I did not have any kind of a low gear where I could keep a decent cadence. I was pedaling in the 40-50 rpm range and could not find my rhythm. I am a heavy guy and I am trying to lose weight (and slowly succeeding) but best case scenario says I will still be well over 200 pounds in May for the Assault. So, while I continue to seek to lose the lard, I need to think about bike mods in order to climb the hills to Mt. Mitchell. Currently, my large sprocket on the rear cassette is a 27 and the small chainring is a 30; I don't know if I can find a larger sprocket that will not max out the reach of the rear derailleur, like the 30 I have on my old 9-speed. We are thinking perhaps I can go with smaller chainrings to give me a better gear combination. I'll talk to my personal expert and see what I can work out. No matter what happens, I will get to the top.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

24 March 2009

I would much rather be outside on my bike any (above 50 degree) day, enjoying the sunshine and breeze. When that's not possible, for whatever reason, I go to my bike cave. It's a corner in my garage where I have my old aluminum bike set up on a trainer, in front of the TV, which has a built-in DVD player. Pop in a movie, or turn on Versus, and I am good to go. That's what I did today for 16+ miles. But because of my ride in the mountains the other day, I kept the bike in the highest gear I could stand for every other 5 minute period. It was a pretty good imitation of what I felt climbing up highway 80 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I think doing this once a week in addition to my other riding workouts should help me get up the mountain. At least I hope so.
Be blessed, be safe.

23 March 2009

Wow, Saturday's ride in the mountains was such a butt-kicker I thought it'd be a while before I wanted to get back on the bike; not so. Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon I jumped on my off-road bike, which I mounted street tires on, and just tooled around a couple of close neighborhoods, a little over six miles and nearly an hour to do it. Just wanted to loosen up the old engines. Felt good.
That set me up today to attempt a metric century (100k = 63 miles). I was ready to go. I am taking a little more of a scientific approach to all this, calculating how many calories I'll need, and figuring out hydration/nutrition, etc., etc., etc. I mixed up my bottles and my gels and got the car loaded, but got a late start due to some unforeseen circumstances at the house. Finally got on the bike about 4pm, and off I went.
I live in a beautiful part of South Carolina; Lexington is big enough to have all you need, close enough to Columbia for those times that it doesn't, and it doesn't take long to "go rural." Farmland and forests are close enough that you can be there in a few minutes. There's climbing to be done, but not mountainous. Just rolling hills with the occasional flat stretch, where you can hammer your heart out and forget that you're not the breakaway and Lance and the others are far behind you. In the two short years I have been roadcycling, I have left much unseen litter along the highways; cobwebs, stressors, worries, all fall off when I am out there, and die a lonely death in the ditches. RIP.
I ran out of time and could not finish my metric before the sun started sinking so I called it a day, a good day, and headed home. Ended up with 43.6 miles, tired but satisfied. I was happy to get home, where my family is always waiting for me. Dinner was on the stove (spaghetti and meatballs!), and soon my behind was in my chair, relaxing. My family is a huge support to me, a big encouragement. They put up with me being gone on my bike, not all the time, just at some inconvenient times, and cheer me on. They know this is all and investment in my health and well-being.
The Assault on Mt. Mitchell is a mere 55 days away, so it's important that I ride, a lot. If I had to do it today, I don't think I could. So I am glad I don't have to. The climbing I did on Saturday, I will have to do again for Mitchell, but AFTER I have ridden nearly 75 miles. It is tough, but very satisfying. Less than a month after Mitchell, I will ride in the Tour de Cure, not a race, but a ride to raise awareness and funds for diabetes research. It'll be a metric in the Dutch Fork area, near Chapin, SC. I have a website for that which I am updating and will write more about it later.
Did I mention I was at my doctor's today? Turns out I have bronchitis. He checked me out, prescribed antibiotics, and off I went to Publix' pharmacy. Left there and went home to prep for my ride; don't let anything get between you and your goals except God, who knows way more than we do and loves us beyond reason. If He is between you and your goal, question the goal, not God.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

22 March 2009

Well, where does one start? At the beginning, of course. I took several days off this past week because I knew my brother and I were going to Marion, NC to ride the last (hardest!) leg of the Assault on Mt. Mitchell, which is in 57 days! What better way to train for the ride than to do the ride, right?
We left early yesterday morning after a good Cracker Barrel breakfast, and got to Marion about 11am. The weather was beautiful but cool, it's still a little early in the year to be riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Took the car up the mountain to take a look around and to talk strategy; even the car when up the hill groaning! Finally, we turned around and headed back to Marion to get started. This area has some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever enjoyed, especially around Lake Tahoma. Sorry I didn't get photos to post, it's hard to think about photography when you're hacking up a lung.
About 8 miles up Hwy. 80 is where the road turns up and the climbing begins. Lately, I have been trying to focus on my cadence and riding at a higher RPM, but that didn't last once the climbing started. I quickly ran out of gear and had to start working. My quads were on fire, and I don't mean that in a good way.
I was happy with the progress I had made since last year, I was able to reach the Parkway in an hour and a half; I think it took me two and a half, last year. I was hurting, though, my cadence had been as low as into the 40's and I couldn't find my rhythm. Still, I pressed on.
It was a good bit cooler on the Parkway, and the climbing had not let up much. Speeds were at 5 to 7 mph, giving plenty of time to take in some of the awesome scenery. Toughed it out best as I could, but finally had to call it a day about two miles from the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park; my leg were toast, and the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees with a wind chill of 32.3 degrees. Not good at all when you're sweaty from climbing.
Rested a little while in the grass beside the road, listening to icicles fall from the rock face across the road. Many, many cars passed by, but only one stopped to ask the fat guy laid out beside the road if he was okay. Our world is not as friendly as it once was. But to the young couple in the Camry, I would say "thanks."
After trying to no avail to warm a little in the sun, I decided to point my bike back down the mountain. My brother had returned after a similar experience of freezing, and off we went. You would think that going down was better, but 40 degrees at speeds up to 40mph is just painful. We were glad that after a mile or so, we had to climb back up a two mile grade. It was wonderful to be warm again. Didn't last, though, it was soon time to roll again. Down the mountain we went, like bats out of hell. Fortunately, the lower we got, the warmer the air got, and soon we were back in Marion.
We had climbed just over 5000 feet, saw speeds up to 40mph, and enjoyed God's beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. No one got hurt, best of all. My bike is dirty and I think I have an upper respiratory infection. I'll need to be better soon so I can go back in two weeks. Thank you Lord, for a fantastic day in your sunshine.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

15 March 2009

Got up this morning planning on a long, "take it easy, just get some miles in" ride on the trainer. Pop in a movie and pedal for a couple of hours before heading off to church. Huh-uh. Not how it happened. I made it an hour, but I couldn't get my heart rate up, couldn't keep my cadence up, just felt weak. I feel like my energy stores are empty, nothing on the shelves at all. I need to look more seriously at how and what I am eating if I am to succeed on Mt. Mitchell. Right now I am in need of my own "great escape" in order to get my endurance up to snuff.
Be blessed, be safe.

Friday, March 13, 2009

13 March 2009

Just a quick post today, not much time. Didn't ride yesterday, too tired, so I took the day off and took my son to get something fun to drink from Books-A-Million and to get his haircut. So today I got back on to finish watching "A Bridge Too Far." That's a long movie, about three hours. Good, but sad. Turns out I only had fifteen minutes to go, so I turned to the History Channel to see a part of a documentary on WWII in the Pacific. Riding along and at about 45 minutes, all of a sudden it got a lot easier to pedal- I had blown a tire. I guess it's the weird contact patch of a trainer that's really hard on the drive tire. Oh well, I'll fix it tomorrow and throw in another movie.
Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10 March 2009

I sort of rested yesterday, slept in till after 11am; I was wiped out from Sunday's long ride, followed by staying up too late. So, I took the day off (from cycling) and didn't ride. Today, when I did get back on, I was still tired. Worked it out though, and got in 25 miles. I feel a little tight in the hamstrings, but good. No retreat, no surrender! Besides, I have only 68 days left in preparation for Mt. Mitchell. I am studying elevation graphs and trying to determine strategies, and figuring out what I need to carry and what I need to leave behind.
Kind of like the guys in the WWII Airborne Divisions, except the chances are pretty good no one will be shooting at me. I started watching "A Bridge Too Far," a 1977 movie about Operation Market Garden, an effort to win the war by Christmas and get our soldiers home. It was a bold, aggressive plan that failed because of lack of supplies and reinforcements. When you are jumping out of an airplane, there's only so much you can take with you. Therefore, what you take had better be necessary. There will be a lot of climbing involved and I am a big guy; between just me and the bike, I have a LOAD to carry up those hills, several up to 9% and some up to 11%! So, I need to figure out how much of what so I can make it to the top. Because when the serious climbing starts, I'll already have ridden over 80 miles. I am still excited to do it. Bring it on, because this is what I have worked and trained for, and I will be ready.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

8 March 2009

For a lazy man, I rocked it today! What a beautiful Sunday it has been! Worshiped this morning, then went home and got my gear together and took off for a ride. I averaged over 16mph for four-and-a-half hours and covered a distance of nearly 73 miles! My butt hurts!!! But it was so worth it. I want to be doing more long rides like that to get prepared for Mt. Mitchell, I need to be strong enough to pedal for nine hours and tough enough to stay in the saddle that long. I must have chosen some pretty good roads too, as I climbed a cumulative total of greater than 3100 feet. It's painful now, but it's gonna feel so sweet when I roll beneath that time clock on top of Mt. Mitchell!
Just a side note, because this is important to me, my 7-year-old daughter is artistic (so's my son; his medium is drawing) and likes to make clay sculptures. This is a (somewhat fuzzy- my fault) picture of a squirrel she made, and a snake's house with a banana tree in the yard. Check out the detail! I got me some smart kids.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

7 March 2009

Ole Mike has been lazy lately; well, not really lazy, just exhausted. Work has been overwhelmingly busy and wearing me out so I didn't ride yesterday or today. I'll have to make up for it. It has been a beautiful, warm weekend, and is supposed to be so tomorrow. So after I go to church and worship the Creator, I am getting out to enjoy His creation, hopefully about 60 miles of it. I'd love to get in a good long ride and just enjoy myself on my new bike. It's okay if cycling's fun, right?
Be blessed, be safe.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

4 March 2009

Not alot to report today, jumped on the trainer and watched my climbing DVD. Showed some slight improvement in average speed, average heart rate, distance, etc. Just happy to be able to say I made progress. I'll really know how much progress in two-and-a-half weeks when we go to Marion to ride up to Mt. Mitchell. The trainer is a great tool, but it is not the road. The truth is told out on the asphalt and the hills. But I know I am better prepared than I would be otherwise. Be blessed, be safe.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

3 March 2009

Even though I got caught in the rain Saturday, I was happy to get in a good ride. I managed to stay warm and not crash, so I was happy. But, doggone it, my new bike got mussed! So, I got out today in the freezing cold and washed that sucker and shined it up. Almost looks new again.
Too cold to get out on the road today, popped in a movie instead: "Batman Begins" with Christian Bale and Michael Caine. Oh yeah, Tom Cruise' love slave is in it too. I like Bale as Batman, probably my favorite to play the Dark Knight. Wasn't in me to pedal through the whole thing, so I ended up riding about 22 1/2 miles and called it a day. Good ride, need to keep pedaling and keep losing weight. Only 75 more days till Mitchell. Going to the top!
Be blessed, be safe.

Monday, March 2, 2009

2 March 2009

Spent yesterday wrapping things up at the beachhouse and driving home in the rain. Wanted to get home before the snow came, haha! There was snow in South Carolina, but it wasn't here. The kids didn't care though, they still got the day off from school. I have lived here forever almost but somedays I still don't get SC.
Started a new month on the bike today, with new goals. I was ten miles short of my 500 in February so I'll add those to March and go for 510 miles. I only lost about half of my 10-pound weight loss goal, but I'll eat that because I don't think I can wrap my mind around a 15-pound goal. So, ten it is!
Jumped on the trainer and switched on the Carmichael Training Systems DVD, "Climbing II." I didn't do as well as those folks riding trainers with Chris Carmichael, but I was able for the first time to pedal the entire DVD, warmup to cooldown. I am proud of myself! I also got a new computer for my trainer bike, a computer which has a cadence feature on it. I am trying to get used to pedaling at a higher cadence rate and now I am able to monitor it. My legs are strong but slow, but I am now pedaling in the 80's instead of the 70's. This will improve my cardio and my ability to recover. There's alot more to this biking thing than just throwing your leg across and going for it.
Every day gets better, and it needs to. I now have 76 days until Mt. Mitchell and I need to be ready. It will hurt, but I'll survive.
Be blessed, be safe.

28 February 2009

After spending the night hoping the rain would move on through and not cancel the Saturday shop ride at Grand Strand Bicycles, I dodged the bullet, at least for a little while. It was cloudy and cool, but I left the beachhouse at a few minutes past 7am and rode the ten miles to the shop. I had checked the shop's phone tree at 6:30, before Tim could change the message at 6:35 that the ride had been cancelled. Oh well, three other guys showed up and we had ourselves a bike ride in some iffy weather.
We did 25 miles around the Murrells Inlet area, and they hammered. I love a group ride, but it always exposes the weakness of riding alone. I get content riding alone and I don't quite hit it as hard. It was all I could do to keep these guys in sight and even had to grab a wheel when it was offered to me, so I wouldn't get dropped. I was pulled in by a guy 18 years my senior. No shame though, only pride. Proud that I am improving and becoming a better rider, and proud of this man who is not content to sit down throughout his later years. He is another awesome example to me.
We made it back to the shop just before the rain came back. Couple of Gu's, some coffee, and a little while hanging out with friends (old and new) and I was ready to head back to the beachhouse; I had painting and repairs to do. My ride home in the rain was without complaint, I could not have imagined a better way to spend my Saturday morning.
There was one disappointment, however: I fell short of my February goal by ten miles. I can handle that, though, because I had ridden 490 miles in February. I lost a few pounds but not the ten pounds I wanted to. That's okay too, I'll keep trying. I have an awesome new bike, some nice new road shoes, and Spring is just around the corner. I'll be just fine.
Be blessed, be safe. Tim, Mary, and Fallon in front of the shop. I snagged this pic from their website; I hope y'all don't mind, Tim, I'm blessed to call y'all friends!