Monday, October 25, 2010

Feeling strong and other observations

This post is going to be about a lot of little things mostly dealing with recent observations both on and off the bike.  I’d like to say these are solid Zen-like, life changing observations but alas, it is nothing like that at all.  It’s mostly a bunch of little things that I’ve noticed that aren’t big enough to fill an entire blog post.  So, I am combining them into one by taking full advantage of my poetic license.

If you read my last post, you know that I was absolutely hammered by a cold.  I had the high fever, body aches, constant coughing, etc.  And while I recovered from most of the symptoms relatively quickly, I am still not back to full strength.  One of the cool things about being sick is that you find out your ultra supportive friends are even more supportive then you thought.  I had all kinds of people offering to bring me soup, medicine, and other feel-good items.  I also learned that everyone in the world must have a different recipe for how to get over a cold. 

The evidence from riding in the rain! On Saturday I managed to get out for a ride with Carmen before the weekend rain got too bad.  I actually enjoy riding in a light rain.  It kinda makes me feel like a badass knowing all my fair weather cycling friends are tucked away safely indoors.  You just have to be a little more careful and really pay attention to the paint on the street and all manhole covers.  Carmen and I did just fine and managed to get in a staggering 18-miles before we were done.

The second nice thing about Saturday’s ride was that I was finally feeling normal again on the bike.  Of course, we were not pushing the pace.  This was more of a social let’s-go-play-in-the-rain ride.  Still, as we rolled along at 16 mph, my heart rate was right were it should be unlike my last ride were it was at least 20 bpm higher then normal.  Bottom line, I am feeling stronger again and that’s a good sign.

Of course, no rain ride is complete without a flat or two (or three).  After all, our rainy season is our flat season (see Beware of Bibendum as to why).  There’s nothing like standing around in the rain, fixing a flat, to immediately distinguish that badass feeling you had while riding.  So, in the spirit of the day, Carmen had a flat about 4 miles into the ride.  Then the replacement tube she used had a hole in it so it went flat.  Just for fun, she decided to flat again 5 miles later.  At this point we were out of spare tubes and decided to turn for home.  And, this was the reason our ride only lasted 18 miles.

warning light On the way home I got to observe a new cyclist safety measure in action.  On Montgomery Drive, heading west into Santa Rosa, there is a new bike warning signal, called a bike beacon.  There is a section of road that is narrow and curvy for 1.5 miles making cyclists hard to see.  If you are heading west on your bike you will trip this signal.  The signal continues to flash and warn motorist that a cyclist is up ahead for 4 minutes.   They are trying to find the money to put one in the east-bound direction as well.  I hope they are successful.

There you have it.  Great friends helping out during a time of need, feeling stronger, riding in the rain, fixing flats in the rain, and tripping our new bike beacon.   How’s that for an adventuresome little ride?  I can’t wait to see what observations this off season will continue to bring.

Until then . . .


Monday, October 18, 2010

A tough couple of weeks

I cannot believe today is the 18th and I am just now posting my first blog in October.  Where did this month go?  There is a reason for my non-writing and for a change it has nothing to do with a lack of motivation.  It was a lack of energy and that’s slightly different.  I was hammered a couple of weeks ago by a serious cold that moved into my chest and I’ve been trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to recover ever since.

Marshalls Of course, all of this started just days before Levi Leipheimer’s GranFondo where I volunteered to be a on-bike Marshall for the Medio course.  This meant going to a couple of meetings prior to the ride and then helping to serve as the “eyes and ears” along the course.  (There will be a separate post on how cool being a Marshall was.)  If it wasn’t for being a Marshall, I would have skipped the entire event. Yep!!!  I was feeling that bad.  However, as a Marshall you have a partner and since my partner was my good friend Jeff, I couldn’t let him down.

It all started Monday night when I started feeling cold-ish.  By Tuesday morning I was not feeling well at all and only managed to hang in at work until around 10:30.  I stayed home completely on Wednesday to deal with a high fever and constant coughing.  By Thursday morning the fever broke and I was starting to feel a tad better.  This was good since the ride was Saturday.

Coleman Valley Saturday was a beautiful day that promised everyone of the 6,000 riders a great time.  Well, perhaps everyone except me.  I was still feeling weak although I thought my symptoms were gone.  So, after standing around freezing, coughing, and telling everyone I was “fine”, Jeff and I were given the green light to roll and we joined the masses on the open road. 

Things were going well.  I knew I was weakened by my cold so the plan was to stay easy and consistent.  When we climbed our first hill I quickly discovered what my biggest issue was going to be on this ride.  I couldn’t take deep breaths.  So, I adjusted my gearing and cadence as I rolled along and enjoyed the excitement of the day. 

Coach Tim with McDreamy The rest of the day was ok.  I stayed true to my plan to ride easy.  The climb up Coleman Valley was challenging but I, well everyone, was rewarded with stunning views of the California coast and Pacific Ocean.  In addition, we also hung out with McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey from Gray’s Anatomy) who was joining the ride after a personal invite from Levi.

As we continued on, Jeff and Pete, another Marshall, stayed with me to make sure all was well.  During the ride I did not push the descents, join pace lines, push the big ring or any other activity that would waste precious energy.  The result?  I crossed the finish line 62 miles later.  And although I was very tired, I still had decent power and enough energy to enjoy the bike expo.  It wasn’t my strongest ride ever but I survived.  Actually, I it was probably one of the smartest rides I’ve completed.

After the Fondo, I took the week off to continue recuperating.  Although I continued to feel a little better, I still had a full mucus factory in my sinuses and the inability to breath deep.  I tired riding with friends this Saturday but turned for home after just 18 miles.  My heart rate was 20-25 beats higher then it should be so I know I am still feeling the effects.

I am definitely on the mend however, I think I need to realistic about my strength.  This cold hit me hard.   It usually doesn’t take me more then a couple of days to bounce back and it’s been two weeks this time.  I am sure this is just another sign of aging process as I stare down turning 50 next April.

Still, I need to create a plan to get my strength back.  But, since it is the off season I don’t have to go crazy.  I will probably stay nice and easy until the first week of December.  That’s when Coach Tim will resume his garage rides and start getting us ready for 2011.  Until then, I am going to recover, relax, and hope for better weeks to come.