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Month: April 2013

these wheels keep spinning around…

Life seems to be on fast-forward since returning from Utah, so here’s some catch-up on bike-related things. I’ve been riding a lot in preparation for some big summer rides, and it’s been quite enjoyable.

I didn’t ride much in March, thanks to the Utah trip taking up the lion’s share of the month. Not counting last year’s ski injury, this was one of the lowest March mileage totals I’ve ever managed: 114.8 miles. The first weekend in March was spent up north, where I skied – and that was a blast. On March 9th, I rode a very hilly route in northern Maryland, not realizing that I was coming down with a nasty sinus infection at the time:

I rode once while there, which was a treat: from downtown Salt Lake City, up Emigration Canyon, and partway (at least until the snow blocked the road) up East Canyon. This was a typical training ride for me in my teenage, ski racing years, and it was fun to revisit it, even on a (well-fitted) rental bike (thanks to Salt Lake City Bicycle Company for the rental):

Otherwise, I did a lot of manual labor, endured a lot of stress, and had a bout of food poisoning (ick), the combination of which helped me shed 8.5 pounds. My cycling got a bit rusty, as I found out on my first long rides after my return to DC.

Luckily, the first of these rides was with friends who took it fairly easy on me. We headed out to Antietam Battlefield, then north to explore some dirt roads in the Catoctins:

I’m glad I went on a gentle recovery spin in Rock Creek Park the next day, just to flush the lactate out of my legs.

The hills on this ride had me in fits, but I got the hang of things, by the by, especially on the flatter terrain. And that’s good, because the next weekend had me co-leading a Potomac Pedalers ride over three classic Virginia climbs: Naked Mountain, Mt. Weather, and Blue Mountain:

In all of these climbing rides, I was “climbing my own climb,” so to speak: riding a pace that was self-dictated, not chasing any of the “rabbits” in the group, and trying to keep good form. I rode well below my maximum output, which kept me fresh through the end. The next day’s flatter recovery ride, out of Riley’s Lock and around the flank of Sugarloaf Mountain, found my legs relatively fresh and my form fairly decent:

That all leads to this past weekend’s chilly-yet-beautiful ride from Thurmont into Pennsylvania, through a forest and amongst the fruit farms of Carroll Valley:

This was a really fun ride: scenic, with great friends, and one that found my climbing legs really coming into form.

And lest I forget, April brought back the “Downtown Breakaway” rides, a Wednesday night Pedalers affair that takes in side roads and less-well-known routes out to the near Maryland ‘burbs and back. We’ve had four of them, thus far (1, 2, 3, 4), and while they have all been great (we have a lot more riders this year than in past years), I always love riding through the cherry blossoms of Kenwood, Maryland:

Riding through the canopy of cherry blossoms with the gang

I’ve just changed out my cassette on my main bike with a wider-range unit, as there are some big climbs coming up in the next few weeks (and a weekend trip to Utah to visit my mom).

Thus far, in April, I’ve logged 542 miles on my bikes, bringing me to 1458.6 miles to date in 2013. I’m well ahead of my usual pace, and I still have a lot more strength to find – can’t complain about that.

So I guess you can say I still love the bike (even if the bike industry doesn’t always seem to feel the same way at the same time). These wheels do, indeed, keep spinning around…

peace, love & understanding

I really couldn’t think of words to say how I felt about the terrible event in Boston yesterday.

It was numbing. It made me angry. That any person or people would have such disregard for humanity, for joy, for happiness – it’s simply impossible to comprehend. Whatever message was trying to be sent, it was lost on me and on countless others.

The people of Boston are a tough crowd. In many respects, I see them as tougher than New Yorkers: slightly more resilient, less bombastic and more “dig in, we’re movin’ on.”

I leave it to songs to express the feelings of hope, healing, and promise I wish for the people of Boston, the friends and families of the Boston Marathon runners, staff, and volunteers, and the innocent people who were simply trying to enjoy Patriots’ Day, the race, and their lives.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water”

“The Boxer”

“Here Comes The Sun”

We share precious little space on this insignificant rock that tumbles through dark space. Peace and understanding – that’s the ticket.

building it back up

All of the time in Utah set back my cycling training heading into the summer – a.k.a. “big ride” season. I had planned on two weeks off, but not three, so the rust is evident when I ride.

Yes, my recent rides have shown decent performance, with strong climbing. But things feel a bit off, not crisp. The endurance is there, but the smooth pedal stroke and climbing spin isn’t what I feel it should be.

I’ll miss one of the build-up weekends into my first big event ride (the weekend being May 4-6, the event being Mountains of Misery over Memorial Day weekend) to check up on my mom’s healing progress. That’s part of life, and it must happen – family comes first, after all.

But I feel that I’m missing prep time.

Am I being a bit critical? Perhaps.

Is this petty whinging? Maybe.

I have set goals that may not be met – at least not in the timeframe I had originally plotted. I’m reworking my training plan accordingly. Will everything turn out as hoped? It’s hard to say. I’ve had to deal with worse, that’s for sure. My training plan is fairly aggressive, and it could work brilliantly – or prove to be too much to chew.

This weekend will feature some good training rides. I need to make sure I ride my own pace on these. Some of my riding friends are far stronger these days and will push the pace. I shouldn’t take the bait. We’ll see what transpires, as I always like the challenge of the “rabbits.” But I have a training plan that works for me, so…

We’ll see. Right now, I’m simply building back up to speed. And if there’s any consolation, the riding is good for my mental health – a positive side-effect.

recovery

I’ve been back from Utah for a little over a week, and I still feel like I’m recovering from the weight of it all.

Life is full of challenges. Some of them are planned, others not so much. When the two sides collide, it takes a lot of energy to keep up, stay sane, and be the least bit functional. My recent trip west was one of these “collision course” kinds of trips. I was going non-stop for weeks, trying to take care of multiple things while maintaining focus.

Needless to say, it took a lot out of me – as dealing with family matters always does. I’m no master of these things, especially when the challenges are ones that pop up without warning. There is no owner’s manual for dealing with family matters, no matter how big or small.

I feel like I aged ten years in the span of three weeks. At least, in getting a haircut, I’ve been able to knock some of the visual age from my appearance. But the emotional aging is very much intact.

But I soldier on, perhaps a bit weary, but otherwise unscathed.

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