Monday, January 26, 2015

A Whole Lot of Nothing

This weekend I did something I haven’t done in many, many years - nothing!!!  No riding.  No household chores.  Nada.  Just a whole of sitting around and resting.  The reason?  A week ago I managed to strain a muscle around my right hip so I spent the better part of the week limping around in pain.  

This was not good and not just because it kept me off the bike on a gorgeous winter weekend.  You see, Sherry and I are off to Italy next week and I really don't want to spend 10-days limping around Florence.  Now, if I have to choose between limping around the Florence or limping around the office you know what wins.  Still, my preference would be full mobility and zero pain so I am babying this injury like no other.

On a quick side note, it’s amazing what a little pain can do to change your daily routine (besides messing up your weekend rides).  In this case, it really hurt to raise my leg without support.  It also hurt to bend over.  Therefore, putting on my socks each day has been quite the comical sight.  Also, did you know you use your hip muscles when you sneeze?  Neither did I until I sneezed one day and sent a shooting pain down my leg.  The human body is amazingly interconnected.

What did I miss?  Well, my cycling team was doing one of our famous social rides.  This was a recovery ride for a teammate. It started at a little B&B he owns and afterwards everyone enjoyed a potluck brunch.  The pictures looked pretty awesome and I'm sure everyone had a great time.  I probably could have made it to the brunch but to be honest I didn’t feel like explaining why I wasn't on the ride over and over.  Plus, getting in and out of the car is one of my most painful activities.  So, I stayed home.

What did I do?  Well, I started a couple of books that I want to read.  That was fun.  I spent time playing Spider Solitaire on the iPad.  I lost a lot so that wasn’t as much fun.  I completed a professional certification (it was online) and it felt good to get that out of the way. 

Mostly, I felt bored and restless.  I’m contemplating retiring in 3-5 years and Sherry was joking that I needed a hobby.  But cycling is my hobby!  My problem wasn’t that I don’t have something that I really love to do.  My issue this weekend was that I wasn’t physically able to do that thing I really love to do.  Perhaps what I need for retirement is a backup hobby.

Fortunately, all this babying is working.  On Friday afternoon I was still in a decent amount of pain and my mobility was pretty limited.  By Monday morning (when I wrote this post), the pain had subsided greatly.  I also have much better mobility and felt like I was returning to normal.  I’m guessing my weekend of nothingness help quite a bit.  At this point, I am not anticipating any problems walking around Florence. 

I can also tell you that there will not be any more weekends of nothingness in the near future.  I have some big events coming up and now my training is behind schedule.  This means I have many big rides with big climbs in my immediate future as I push really hard to get ready.

Of course, all of that hard training means I’ll be moving around the office very slowly on Mondays for a totally different reason.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Fog - My Kryptonite

When will I learn that you can’t post a blog that makes it seem like you’re immune to the effects of Mother Nature?  Every time I do it just makes her up her game and of course, she always wins.  In my last post - Baby It’s Cold Outside - I talked about how much I love riding in the cold and called out a few of team mates for being a bit wimpy.

I may have also inadvertently given Mother Nature the impression that I was impervious to her attempts to keep me off the bike.  And, like always, she responded with a big dose of my kryptonite - fog!!! 

I’ve written about fog before  - Fog!!! (enough said) - so this is nothing new.  While I think fog can be quite beautiful that doesn’t mean I like riding in it.  The chill from a wet fog seems to impact my very soul and while it may not reduce my strength it absolutely destroys my motivation.

Photo by Jonathan Lee (who was
riding in the fog)
So, after riding in 30 degree weather the previous weekend, I am sipping coffee while I look out the front windows at very thick fog.  While I struggle to make out the house across the street I try to convince myself that it won’t be that bad.  After all, the temperature is around 50 degrees so it’s not that cold.  As I finish my last sip I think about my two options - pour another cup and get on the bike and deal with the fog.  The coffee won!

When the fog did burn off later that day I headed out on the bike.  However, the lack of mojo created by the fog is still there.  It’s as if my motivation is in a fog even if the skies have cleared.  I start out on a 40 mile ride that will climb a few moderate hills.  That never happened.

About 7 miles into the ride I was cruising through Oakmont when I kind of gave up on the idea of riding.  I decided that I didn’t have it in me that day so I’ll just finish the big loop and head home.  Then, I remembered the the VJB Winery & Market in Kenwood has espresso.  After a little bit of self talk, I convinced myself to go get a double espresso.

As I sat there sipping even more coffee, I realized that coming to VJB added about 5 miles to the ride.  I can’t believe I tricked myself into a few more miles just to have an espresso.  Hell, I have espresso at home so there was no need to ride any further.  What’s even worse is that I fell for my own trick!  

As I head back home I decide that I’ll make up for today’s puny little ride with a good ride on Sunday.  That didn’t happen either.

Of course, on Sunday the fog was just as thick and I once again waited for it to burn off.  As I rode I quickly realized that this would be another short ride as I was once again lacking in motivation.  I stopped in Sebastopol for a cappuccino where I ran into cycling friend I hadn’t seen in while.  Chatting with him while sipping my coffee was the ultimate cure for bringing me out of my motivational fog and the ride home was fabulous.

So, lesson learned right?  If I write a post about being a bad ass on the bike I need to make damn sure that Mother Nature doesn’t think I’m challenging her.  Because, like I said earlier, she always wins.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Baby It's Cold Outside

What is it about the cold that makes generally adventurous people start searching for their Snuggies?  This seems to be especially true in cycling where I have more than 1 friend with a 40 degree rule.  You know what I mean.  Those people who proclaim they won’t start a ride if the temperature is under 40 degrees.

That was our situation on last Saturday’s team ride.  I woke up to a beautiful frost covered morning.  It was a brisk 30 degrees with a  predicted temp of 39 at ride time.  Since I was the ride leader, I immediately started getting the “it’s too cold” text as folks bailed.

Cycling and espresso
Me? I love riding in the cold.  It’s the perfect excuse to hit the drive-thru espresso huts where I can quickly down a mid-ride espresso and never step off the bike.  But in reality, there’s more to it than that.

To begin with, I feel an obligation to my cycling friends from around the country who can’t ride in winter because they really have to deal with real cold.  On Facebook, people from Santa Rosa are frequently scoffed at for complaining when temps dip into the thirties.

I looked up the temps at ride time for a few locations where I have friends who would love to be out riding.  In Peterborough, NH it was 23 and snowing.  In Spokane, WA it as a brisk 10 degrees.  My friend in Whitefish, MT was dealing with a predicted high of 20 and snow.  Yeah, we really can’t bitch too much about 39 degrees with clear blue skies and lots of sunshine.

I also like the bad ass factor of riding in the cold.  I love it on Mondays in the office when someone walks up and says, “It’s too bad it was too cold to ride this weekend!”, and I reply that of course I went for a ride.  I always get one of two responses and I love them both.  They’ll either say that I’m insane or that I’m a bad ass. 

To be honest, the real reason I like riding in the cold, especially group rides, is that I think they’re just fun!  I always have a blast on these rides and Saturday’s team ride was no different.  

The ride was designed as a social winter fun ride that went from The Flying Goat in Healdsburg to Plank in Cloverdale (these are both really cool coffee shops).  As we drank coffee at the Goat, we started trash talking everyone who bailed as we convinced ourselves that it wasn’t really that cold outside.  Then, it was time to roll.

As we head out, we all stay to together in a tight bunch for the first part of the ride.  I assume this is the cycling equivalent to cuddling to stay warm.  As we enjoyed our coffees and pastries at Plank, a rider broke out his flask of something special, which we all knew he had with him, and we drank toast to our warm weather friends still at home.  We spent the entire ride chatting, joking, laughing. and perhaps trash talking just a bit.  In a word, we had a blast!!!

There you have it!  A little homage to my friends stuck on trainers in their basement in places with a real winter, a little bad ass factor to enhance my insane/badd ass reputation, and a whole lot of fun with friends.  So, let the temperature drop, I’m riding my bike!