Monday, November 26, 2012

Back at it

After a week in Florida, a couple weeks easy due to injury, and 4 weekends of not racing I wasn't quite sure what to expect in coming back to Bubba #9 at Spanish Lake this past Sunday. The night before consisted of solid family-man, local cat 2 race preparation; a bourbon tasting, a bunch of delicious holiday beers following a day of errands, way too much dessert, a little housework, and a hike with the family.

Alas, sometimes rest following a year of good preparation is a good thing. The calf seems to be fully healed, and I was probably the only one happy to see that yesterday's course had absolutely no dismounting at all. In fact, it was a gravel road 17.5-18mph average fast cross race. 

Within a couple of laps, it was myself, Butthead (I'm going to call him that until he carpools to a race with me), future-domestic pro Devin Clark, and Colorado native Taylor Carrington (number 1 ranked 30-39 year old cat 2 cyclocrosser in the country) dragging each other around. A washout would remove Devin from the mix and the last lap was pure planning and strategy. I was 3rd wheel on the 1.33 gravel road, which was a pretty good place to be. The last 1/4 lap had a grassy very steep kicker, then a couple turns followed by a big-ring grinder gravel climb, a couple of turns, then a pretty long pavement finish straight. I wanted to get around both of them on the first kicker and peg it up the longer gravel climb but couldn't manage to get around Josh, er Butthead until we got onto the gravel. At that point, it was wide enough for Taylor to come with me. He then followed my wheel for a sprint finish. 
Above, I should have remembered that air drag increases with the square of speed. Oops.

Didn't quite make that one. Dang it was fun though. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cross season

Over the last few years, I transitioned from a minimalist commuter on a surly showing up at my first cyclocross race in a Tshirt, to a dedicated competitor with multiple skinsuits, tires for every condition, and identical carbon race bikes. My wife has been more-or-less supportive of this change. I really do have fun racing my bike and try to keep it real and not make things to serious. The only problem with the cyclocross season (from both of our perspectives) is that it is a period of time of weekly racing (requiring 4+ hrs in the car every single weekend), during a time of the year when so many awesome things are going on. The training has always been the easy part for me. Riding 1 to 2 hrs Tue-Thurs isn't work and I really don't care what the weather is like; it keeps me sane and I do it regardless of whether or not I was racing. But seriously, do you know how many amazing beers come out in the fall? Yes, they can all wait til January, and I can practice moderation now, but I really don't want too.

All things in moderation, including moderation.

I really want to be a good dad. And husband. And also friend, son, brother, mountain bike racer, and cross racer. And on top of those things, I really, really care about being a good scientist. And doctor. And unfortunately, I kind of give a shit about this election tomorrow. And reading. Plus, there's a bunch of good food too cook, vegetables too grow, beer to drink, house projects too complete, and maybe there'll be some time to watch some sports on TV. Or maybe a movie.

So much for voluntary simplicity.

Two Sunday's ago, I raced in KC and ended up having some really nasty calf pain towards the end of the race. It seemed like a cramp and therefore ignorable, but it actually got worse once I stopped racing. And by the time I drove home, it was totally debilitating, leaving me hopping around and needing crutches at first. I saw a couple of sports docs on Monday, who both thought I tore a muscle in my calf and that it would take 6-8weeks too fully heal. Luckily I was scheduled to fly down to Florida on Wednesday morning for a few days on the beach at this medical conference my wife's family attends every year, so I had the opportunity to be away from bikes and to relax.

After talking things over with my wife, I decided that it'd be better to 'let-go' and re-focus for the remainder of the fall. Time to get into the gym, start riding my mountain bike more, and planning for next mountain bike season.

Florida was awesome.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Sometimes I catch myself being a crotchety-old-grouch when it comes to certain cancer related things. For example, when I read about 'X' cancer awareness campaign, I find myself thinking, 'what exactly are we supposed to be aware of'?

The statistics? Yes, the figures are staggering; just about everyone knows someone who's died from cancer. Residents of the US have about a 1 in 5 chance of dying of cancer. In 2008, ~5-600,000 people in the US died from cancer (23% of all mortality), which is a frequency surpassed only by heart/vascular disease.

That people do research and that private/donor money is important for research? Well, that's a huge area that does need more awareness.

Recently I was riding by some outdoor University tennis courts. There were a ton of construction workers putting some kind of pipes and electrical stuff under the courts. I don't know this for sure, but it seemed like they were installing equipment that will help keep the outdoor courts warm during the cold months of the year. I counted the construction workers; there were 46 of them. Oh yeah, and these courts are right next to an indoor tennis facility.  But, I guess now that we're in the SEC, we need to keep up with Georgia, Florida, et al.

Meanwhile, researchers and students pinch pennies and pray for miracles.

Sometimes I think I'm crazy for taking the MD/PhD educational route at my particular University. But when I examine my value system and my motivation, deep down I believe that research is important for society and that my voice in research (as someone with cancer) is important. It's a little sad, but there was a facebook conversation/debate I recently witnessed where someone was basically saying that research is really only funded by the private sector and that basic science research does little for the economy. Unfortunately, after really thinking about the economics of things and reading this, I can't really disprove that point of view. But, I BELIEVE that it is wrong. And I choose to BELIEVE that discoveries made on the bench-top do lead to improvements in patient care and that these discoveries, no matter how obscure or strange sounding, often do spur economic growth (both because Universities create jobs and because discoveries are often open sourced and can be built upon by a poor grad student in Cambodia or Genentech).

Anyway, my point in all of this: we need to examine our beliefs, our priorities, and realize that gestures like growing a mustache or wearing pink also need to be backed up with tangible substance. It's not just the thought that counts. Wearing pink in October is fine and dandy, but it doesn't make anyone a better person for doing so, and ultimately it doesn't mean much unless it really inspires people to work for change...maybe it's figuring out WHY the breast cancer statistics are as they are or any number of other questions. Or maybe someone interested in doing something positive would donate to the University of Missouri MD/PhD program? Clearly our University is more interested in things in the same ballpark as the football coaches incredible salary.