Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mommy wow! I'm a big kid now.

One of the things I love most about riding a bicycle is how it makes me feel like a kid. Racing has been a convenient extension of that over the past few years but commuting to work/school, bar hopping, baby towing, my first few dates with my wife (now we always seem to drive when we go on dates), and of course romping around in the woods on my mountain bike breaths life in to an otherwise dreary and occasionally forlorn modern landscape of concrete, strips malls, and buildings disconnected from nature. As a mode of transportation and as a recreational tool, the bicycle adds a sense of liberation, exhilaration, and connection to the environment.

This blog entry is hopefully going to be circuitous, where after a bit of rambling I come down to explaining the title and ultimately process my thoughts about how I'm riding very little at the moment (1-2hrs/week)...which may or may not be a source of distress in my life.

Last weekend, Maggie and I went to a wedding of one of her friends from college. It was the third wedding in a year of one her friends in an absolutely beautiful location. This most recent was on the coast of eastern Connecticut, the other 2 were in Mendicino, Ca and northern Vermont/New Hampshire, all places I had never been. In each place I found myself wishing I had a bike to go pedal around on, but in all situations allowed that to be just a passing thought and ended up being quite content having weekends away from normal life in Missouri. Just being in those places with Maggie and Cassidy was amazing. One of my favorite artists on the planet, David Byrne, wrote a great book on traveling in foreign cities via bicycles. Sometimes it seems as though the bulk of my traveling days are long gone, but I still really connected to some of the writing in this book. Here is a great except, with my thoughts in parentheses:

"Lots of folks have jobs that take them all over the world. I found that biking around for just a few hours a day-or even just to and from work-helps keep me sane. People can lose their bearings when they travel (or deal with illness, life circumstances, etc), unmoored from their familiar physical surroundings, and that somehow loosens some psychic connections as well. Sometimes that's a good thing- it can open the mind, offer new insights- but frequently it's also traumatic in a not-so-good way. Some people retreat into themselves or their hotel rooms if a place (or feeling) is unfamiliar, or lash out in an attempt to gain some control. I myself find that the physical sensation of self-powered transport coupled with the feeling of self-control endemic to this two-wheeled situation is nicely empowering and reassuring, even if temporary, and it is enough to center me for the rest of the day...

...Performing a familiar task, like driving a car or riding a bicycle, puts one into a zone that is not too deep or involving. The activity is repetitive, mechanical, and it distracts and occupies the conscious mind, or at least part of it, in a way that is just engaging enough but not too much-it doesn't cause you to be caught off guard. It facilitates a state of mind that allows some but not too much of the unconscious to bubble up. As someone who believes that much of the source of his work and creativity is to be gleaned from those bubbles, it's a reliable place to find that connection. In the same way that perplexing problems sometimes get resolved in one's sleep, when the conscious mind is distracted the unconscious works things out."

All high-brow stuff aside, all kinds of events and situations have demanded my attention as of late and I just haven't been riding (including not commuting to work/school). Cassidy starts daycare soon so I'll have to drive her there everyday. This past week, she and I spent a few hours each day in the mornings just getting her used to the situation. I haven't figure out how to get from my place to West Broadway via bike and trailer, so it is looking like commuting to work/school will be on hold for awhile. Plus, to my intense frustration and chagrin, I've had some knee pain again, this time in my left knee. The dx is an irritated Plica, which is particularly annoying because the only thing I can do is wait til it stops being irritated. Next, Maggie takes her board exam June 8th and is studying 6:30am until 5 or 6pm everyday including weekends, so my day has been based around the following priorities: 1. Cassidy and her care, 2. Anything I can do to help Maggie, 3. Getting work done and figuring how to get some preliminary data on what will end up being my dissertation research 4. everything else

I've made it to the gym more frequently and have been running a bit (meaning 1x), both of which don't hurt my knee and strengthen/loosen structures which contribute to my angry plica. But man, I'm a bike junkie and am bummed to have missed a couple of really fun events this past weekend (Crit saturday, amazing mountain bike ride with a ton of friends sunday, and even the state road race).

So, adult responsibilities come first and to tell you the truth, I'm actually pretty happy and content right now!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

CBC video

My friend Justin Craig made a video on the Columbia Bike Club, which has been my road team this year. Great message on this video: bike racing is for everyone!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Mtn bike race at Greensfelder park in St Louis today! Much love for this park, although I wasn't sure about the course as it had much hype on the message boards. "A true mtn bikers course" and sections of "pushville" (getting of the bike and pushing are often required) were some of the words on the street…sounded interesting!

This past week was intentionally mellow as April consisted of 4 hard races and a good deal of intensity on the road bike. My body just felt like riding less and heading to the gym a bit. I felt like a little taper was a a good thing and even managed to get a ride in friday with a few 'openers'.

Day prior-prep: Did everything right. No booze, good food, lots of sleep

Race day prep: Perfect morning, good coffee, nice breakfast, fun with Cassidy, and a good warm-up

Race: Big field today with lots of strong guys (both Pirtles, the whole DRJ crew, Shottler, Piepert, a few Mesa guys, Mike Best, lots of people I didn't know). The start was really important as the hole shot order would determine the order for the first long and technical down hill. E Pirtle and Ploch were 1 and 2 (I think), then Big Shark guy, Bob Arnold, someone else, R Pirtle, then me. I held R Pirtles wheel pretty tight as we watched E Pirtle and Ploch ride away. We were more or less stuck in traffic, but figured it would be a long race therefore no big deal. Probably mistake one.

As soon as we hit the rolling single track, I knew I was off. Although my bike was amazing on the terrain, I just felt a little shaky. I looked down to see my HR hovering in 185-190...very high for me and also uncommon for what wasn't very hard pedaling. 30 minutes into the race, the same was true. My legs opened up a bit and I was able to hold my own on the climb, but no where near what I knew I was capable of. I also managed to go over the bars on a silly little loose section during the first lap, which seriously shook me up and made me much more conservative on the downhills and techy parts. So that about summarizes my experience: shaky with a sky high heart rate.

Soon after my little fall, my rear shifting went to hell.

Reason for poor shifting?:

But I still had the magic of my front shifting which kept me close to R Pirtle and rolling in 6th or 7th for most of the race. Still though, I was just having a bad day body was just not doing what it has been over the last few weeks. Then halfway through lap 3, my front shifting stopped working and unfortunately I was stuck in my little ring for the rest of the race.

Oh well, a little bit of humble pie was dished out to the 'ol professor (Lt Dan) at Greensfelder today.
Post-race cinco-de-mayo deliciousness:

ps- I miss my single speed.