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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In 4 more days...

...I'll be in North Carolina lined up in the back of the pack with two friends to do the last ride/race/event I signed up for so many months ago.  This was the one I signed up for on a drunken whim after seeing Kyle's post on the Book of Face that he had signed up for it.  I was sitting at Cartel Coffee with Meghan, trying to let a wine buzz die down before we made the trek home.  I texted, he called and two hours later I had plunked down $75 to sign up for a 50 miler with 4200 feet of climbing in my home state.  At the time it sounded like an easy tune-up.

Shit, that went down the drain in a hurry.

If you've read this blog, ya know that shortly after my legs, body and fitness went to shit.  I was training ALOT and riding REALLY well, faster than I think I ever have.  Rides that I had put off due to a lack of confidence in my fitness were completed...with relative ease.  To say I was happy to finish Apache Trail in the manner I did is an understatement.  I still look back at that and think, "I never did go 100% anytime that day."

I was cruising.  Unsure about what I was up against and what I had in me, I rode the 30+ miles out to Roosevelt Lake.  I eased up climbs, bombed descents with caution and just pedaled.  I spent a fair share of those minutes waiting for my ride partner that day to catch up...'cause I just wanted company.  I was going for "Strava" - I was just going.  I under-ate.  I under-hydrated.  Only one climb ever put me in difficulty and that was one of the last ones.  I just didn't have the kick....but I steady trudged up Fish Creek Hill...more worried about cars than I was about Josh taking a flyer.

But I hit one training ride too hard - a SS mtb ride on a day I didn't feel great - and I pulled a muscle.  It nagged me enough to take a MONTH off.  I rode a little here and there but the nagging "tug" in my hip continued.  Just when I thought it was better, it got worse.

So....on March 31st, I watched my house of cards begin to crumble.  I gave it two months before I finally sought professional help.  And it's cost a ton....

$600+ for the first bike fit...when Barry dialed my position, changed my pedals and used new insolves.

$160 for my initial review with Bryan V, the PT.  Since I have yet to find a general practitioner to write a referral, I've paid the $80 each visit.

$350 for Barry to dial in the FrankenEpic & DiVerge, both getting pedal washers and a new saddle on one.

But I will definitely add IT WAS ALL WORTH IT.  So Barry fit me to the DiVerge on May 25th,  I think.  Since then I have went to gingerly nursing along on the DiVerge to knowing I can hammer down for 2,3 hours no problem.  I just have to be mindful.

The FrankenEpic feels faster and is, according to Strava.  I was PR'ing rough shit at PMP with less effort.

The DiVerge feels awesome.  Of the three rides I've taken, two have involved some SHITTY dirt sections that shouldn't have been so easy on a gravel bike.

Anyways, I'll be in Boone Saturday...probably wet, probably sleepy 'cause a 7:45 AM start equates to 4:45 here....and I've never even up at 4:45.  There, I will be up at 5 most likely, choking down yogurt and slipping into bibs.  There's already talk of bailing if the rain is too heavy....which is possible in those hills.  I've been on that mountain when it's dumping - it's miserable.  More miserable than the 119 degree heat here right now.'s not my LAST race.  Just the last one I signed up for before I strained those muscles in my inner left thigh.  Now that I'm healing up and coming back (so it feels) stronger than I was before, I'm anxious to find a balance - ride hard but also stay in better shape.  So maybe new goals?

Tour of the White Mountains is on my radar 'cause it sounds like fun and a few weeks it sounded like a great place to debut all the Image Factory shirts I've been designing and printing.  Only two problems - the cost of being a vendor is more than I want to invest in a one-day show (considering vendor fee + hotel + travel + food + entry fee)....and the fact I bailed on this race two years ago after pre-riding the course.  I rode what I was told was the best part....and I wasn't so impressed.  Yea, LOTS of people find the Burro Loop section alot of fun.  Solo....with encroaching thunderstorms....I was happy to get outta there.

'Cross is always on my schedule....but it's the same bag - train hard, get semi-fit....and then the chore of showing up to some races is too much.  Call me lazy....non-committal....but I was this way in NC, too.  I barely had much reason to spend 2 hours in a car to do a 30 minute race.  I enjoy 'cross racing.  I don't enjoy all that goes along with 'cross racing.  Maybe with some fitness, that would change.  It did a few seasons in NC.

2012, I think, was one of those.  I wasn't necessarily at the front but I was close.  I was still Cat 4, the lowest ya could go at the time, and I was consistently top half.  My one top-15(?) was at one of the last races of the season when the course was more about handling than fitness....otherwise I got my ass handed to me by the same people every week.  In a field of 40-80 people every race, I was happy to be in the upper 50%.

I hit almost every race, I think.  I had been training for the last XC races and Swank 65, a backcountry Pisgah race I'd DNF'd at in 2007.  I was fit not EXPLOSIVE fast like ya need to be for 'cross.  Multiple HARD efforts, sprints maybe, would bury me so I had to be smart after the first 10 minutes.

Anyways, I remember some of the courses being so much fun....and others just breaking me.  Wilkesboro that year was awesome - I didn't race well, I remember...the climbs killed me and by the end I crashed once on some off-camber stuff.  Boy's Home, the MOB race, was a challenge.  Again, hills burnt me down....but the handling sections made it great.

So why not 'cross in AZ?  That's a rant for another post.  It's just different here.

No, I think my goals will switch from organized events to goal locations.  Maybe I ride that stretch of the AZT from Peeley down to the creek(?).  Maybe I just for more and more miles in Prescott & Flagstaff.  I know I'm going to do Whiskey 50 next year....and Belgium it would be nice to pre-ride some of the trails in Prescott.

For Belgian Waffle.....I just need to build road fitness.  To put it mildly, 140 miles is going to be a stretch for me.  Possible, sure....but the motivation as well as physical strength are outside my scope at the moment.

I know I want to hike.  Mount Whitney has been on the radar since Avlin Adams brought it up.  There's the exclusivity of it since you get in by lottery.  There's the altitude....but I think I need to conquer Mt Humphreys first.   So I'll plan around some long hikes - head for the hills all summer, stay down this way in the winter.

I'm not hanging up my desire to race bikes.  Or (more likely) ride hard.  I just think it's time to "cross-train" and balance my muscles and fitness a bit more.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Where do I stand...

...with my fitness right now?  I had to think about it when they asked me that last Friday at the PT office.  I've been going twice a week for over a month (I think) and while I'm getting better, I'm not 100%.  I had already had two great rides, one on the mountain bike that left me feeling pretty cocky.  The other was good but made me realize where some weak spots are.

Then Saturday came.  I toed the line at Cyclologic, not sure if I'd have all my marbles or would I just be suffering.  I didn't feel great Friday evening - naps & TV watching was all I had energy to do.  I wanted to rest...but didn't feel like I really did.

We roll out and my legs come around pretty quick but something is off.  My energy just seemed low.  My HR wasn' jacked up so I was doing okay I thought.  Through the 'hood, I felt okay.  I didn't stay at the front on Jomax 'cause the crowd was pretty squirrelly.  As we regrouped on Scottsdale, I settled in...felt okay but as it got steeper at the end, I suffered more than I expected.

Stop at the Shell station, chat with some dude named Vince about gravel bikes then roll out.  Barry announces they're headed to the Towers.  I figure what the hell.  I fall in and watch the group slowly ride away.  I'm in Zone 5 and barely pushing 12 mph.  Barry, who is sagging the group, comes up and starts chatting.  I'm dying.  I bail at Treeline, the first real bail-out.

I'm suffering to drive the bike.  It looks like I may reel in the Purple Domane Guy but no....we turn on Legend Trail and he motors away.  Then Scattante Guy and BarHoppingPerv Guy (another story for another post) blast by without a word.  I let em' go.

The headwind is picking up and I'm having to mash a good bit to keep my speed.  Pima is even worse - DEAD ON headwind and I'm hurting.  Places that Bryan had worked over pretty hard on Friday are plaguing me.  I reach Pinnacle Peak, turn left and the Garmin dies.

No big deal - I log into Strava....but figure I may not need a map 'cause I kinda know where I'm at.  Down the last street before the mountain, bear left and I'm soon at DC Wash.

Down DC Wash, my arms are dying a slow death from the pounding.  I'm choosing decent lines but I'm riding a bit faster than I'm ready for.  Wash the front end out twice, tripod through....and I'm good.  See my dude from the last time I rode this, say hi and motor on.  Back to Cyclologic.

The rest of the day was a blur.  After some food (lotsa food) I feel more normaler.  End up heading back home and lounging.  Short dip in the pool, off to bed early-ish.

Sunday was disturbing though.  Within 30 minutes my left hip just ached.  Between 2 moderately hard dirt rides, 1 run, 2 hard PT sessions, 2 at-home PT exercise sessions and 1 moderate-paced road ride, I was sore.  We sat there and watched bike racing on TV....and then I began stretching.  3-4 minutes of simple pulls here and there, over and over.  Soon I was mobile again.  Noon-ish, I cleaned the pool and jumped in.  3 or 4 times I did that - swim for 15 minutes, read and lounge for 30-45...or until I started sweating.  It was awesome.

This morning I was fine - some stiffness but nothing unmanageable.  Go to PT, get worked over and stretches I was sure would have me cramping were fine.

So where am I?  I say with PT, I'm 95% done.  Bryan and I agreed that after I return from NC next week we'll evaluate next Friday.  Unless I just fuck up, I think I'll move from bi-weekly sessions to monthly long as I keep up my training.  Which I will.  I really think it's high time I set myself on a more consistent plan.

More later.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Diverge... one of those bikes I loathe when I have to maintain ('cause I'm always having to tweak something) and I love when I'm on it.  Yesterday and this morning were both examples of why.  Both rides were rather short - just over an hour and less than 15 miles for both - but both left me thinking about the bike differently.

Yesterday was a recovery spin.  Meghan and I left out EARLY (for me) and headed down the Path.  The further we went into Scottsdale, the more apparent we had to get off the Path.  Dog walkers who think leashes are for everyone else.  Crossfitters with the pack mentality that they do what they want....or maybe that's just the Scottsdale mentality?  Anyway, the looks when I loudly called, "RIDER BACK" were those of disdain for someone not skipping sideways.

Bail on Lafayette, turn around on Exeter and up 64th the same ole' easy way back home.  The Diverge, aside from the right hood cover that seems to always be slipping, is just comfortable.  It rides like you'd expect a bike with 33c tires, an elastomer-suspended seatpost and a cushy position to ride.

This morning though I went out for what was supposed to be an "easy" dirt grind up a trail near the bike shop.  I'd seen it on Strava, always put it off but after Ron and I talked about finding gravel to hit together more often, I figured I'd test it out.

If you have to look and find it, search on Strava for "DC Wash". It's 3.3 miles with an average grade of 2% for 384 feet of elevation gain.  Sounds easy....until you get on it.  Well, at least with a gravel bike.

I was hunting for the route over near Westworld...and I found SOME singletrack but nothing that entertaining.  More horse path than singletrack, I struggled to get to the trail past the bridge on a steep off-camber section.  Once on the access road, it went from hardpack to wash to wash with chunky rocks.  It never got unrideable....but it did get tough.

Long story short, it is a FUN trail to ride on anything dirt-oriented.  It woulda def'ly been faster on the FrankenEpic or Juice....with their fat tires and squishy forks..  The Diverge was still fun.  I never got a chance to "take a break" mentally 'cause there was always something new to negotiate / figure out / ride through.

But it was the "negotations" that made the Diverge so much fun to ride on this trail.  With the FrankenEpic, I woulda just plowed through the rocks, never thought twice about my rims taggin' the rock if I bottomed out....'cause bottoming out would have been as likely with 2.3's with hard casings.

With 33's and the Triggers' notoriously soft casing, I drove the bike like I need to "float"....and I did.  I found myself doing things more instinctively....and surprising myself.  One instance, I rolled in a bit too hot in this chunky corner.  The front wheel was knocked inside the corner, setting up the rear tire to hit a BIGGER rock and possibly pedal-strike.  Without thinking, I planted and bunny-hop-rotated the rear wheel to the outside to clear the way for a smoother rolling.  When it was over (and succesfully and safely through), I was mentally patting myself on the back for doing a move I'd previously only thought about.

Yep, I walked some sections.  One "trough" of man-placed rocks is def'ly rideable on a mtn bike....but each time I rolled up, I saw two problems - pedal strikes and sharp, square edges.  Even with wider drop bars, it's a chore keeping it straight when the rocks pinball ya side to side.

Before I left this morning, I saw Specialized has released the new Diverge.  Last Fall I had heard this was coming....and I snagged my Diverge, the antique model now, for two reasons: no FutureShock and...I wanted it right then.  The other details of the bike weren't known yet and truthfully the new stuff would be a buzzkill for me.  I'm just not a fan of 1x's on this type of bike.  I don't need (or want) a dropper on any of my other dirt bikes.  I don't want one on this bike either. 

Not yet, I will add...

The bigger tires....sound good but do I need them?  Nope.  My 33's (knock on wood) have been great.  Setup tubeless on fat rims, the way they handle and perform is just fine.  And they're, ppfffffftttt!

Still the big reason for me was the FutureShock.  I wanted (and still pretty sure I do) the rigid front end.  I know it's engineered well and likely holds up just fine (...unlike the HeadShok we all saw on cheap Cannondales which was designed by the same guy who designed FutureShock).  But....I wanted a rigid front end.  Sure, it's only 20mm that's intended to reduce fatigue....but my position on this bike lends itself to planting myself on the bars for some maneuvers.  Being further forward means I'm over the front more often...and that bit o' flop underneath my hands sounds horrible now....but I'm sure I'd adapt, too.

Now....I can say I'm happier with my antique version 'cause it seems Specialized has changed what they deem appropriate groupsets.  The two upper models are 1x's....which I don't care for FOR my type of riding - slow, loose climbs where I'm hauling 220+ pounds up 13% grades.  Sure 42-40 gearing is close to 1:1...but hell, I'm considering a 32-36 soon.  And as the gooder math nerds will tells ya, 48-11 is faster than 42-11.

So they do offer 2x's....but only in 105.  Mine has Ultegra....and although 105 is good, I still prefer my Ultegra.  Now the 105 model is CONSIDERABLY cheaper which means I could have theoretically bought this bike, swapped all the 105 for Ultegra and had the same sled...for the same money.  With fatter tires.  And funky shock in my headset.

Really....I have no reason to say my Diverge is better except for the fact it's more of what I want my bike to be.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The 2017 Tour de France predictions by Teams

I jus tpulled up the preliminary start list on Cycling Weekly's what I think:

Team Sky is still my 85% favorite for GC.  That would go up 5% if Geraint Thomas toes the line.  They are the ONE team lining up with a small slathering of genuine GC contenders playing back-up.  I wouldn't expect to see any sprint stages sucked up....unless Froome crashes out early.  With his new-found handling skills, it's gonna take someone getting stupid....or a motorbike.

Movistar has a 10% chance.  It'll take Froome crashing out or some really good dope for Quintana to pull the rabbit outta the hat.    Valverde has been riding like he thinks he's still the Alejan-drug-o of years past...but dealing with the legs of someone who's on the way out. 

Astana will the play the antagonist this year to Froome...if ya like Froome (which I do).  Aru looked like we was WORN out at the end of the Dauphine yet he still stomped his way to the front each day.  Fuglsang will be the one to watch - he's not afraid to attack and bury himself.  That youthful exuberance will make for either a great debut as a GC front-runner...or it's gonna be a shit-show later in the race.

AG2R and Roman Bardet will be there with bells on...but nothing ringing too loudly I think.  He has heart and the climbing legs of a beast....but no team.  There's some help here and there but I think tactically he's always on the backfoot.

Trek-Segafredo will be good for the sprint stages late in the race.  They'll waste the first week, week and a half protecting the geriatric Spaniard who was all but begging for a Spanish hamburger last week in the Dauphine.  Mollema could surprise everyone...but with no support crew, he'll drop off and out.

Bahrain Merida is one team I have NO clue what to expect.  I see breakaways and stage wins but without Nibali signed up (as of yet), they're gonna be pack-fill on the hard days.

Cannondale, oh Cannondale.  I wish I saw somebody, anybody that would be at the front for longer than one stage.  Taylor will be great in the TT's...and he'll get in a breakaway.  If there's anybody in France that willbe wanting to prove their mette, it's Taylor.  No doubt, he will BURY himself for a stage win....probably much to the chagrin of Vaughters.  Talansky and Rolland are like the B-movie version of Fuglsang and Aru....just way less dope and Colombian vacations recently.

BMC is the underdog...despite how well Porte rode in the Dauphine.  He's strong but he's about as sharp as a football - he has a pointy end but it's all dependent on how it's thrown.  My prediction is Froome will play "possum" early on in the race so that Porte HAS to make mental moves...which Froome can read like a teleprompter.  Best hope for Porte is BMC brings Avermaet in somehow to reassure Porte he's being smart.

Team Dimension Data will win a few sprint stages - hopefully more for Cav than Boasson Hagen.  I hope I'm surprised with Cavendish's performance 'cause with a crappy, sick Spring, he's an unknown.  I'd LOVE to see him in green once again....but we all know who will likely eat that jersey for breakfast each morning.

Sunweb will be happy to be there.  Stage wins?  20%  Sprint stages?  0%  Mountain stages? 0%  ...and Simon Geschke is one my favorites....but this is a team sport.

FDJ will be all over the place, maybe even the front.  Pinot has a 50% chance of winning a stage....and only 'cause there are LOTS of hungry GC guys playing second fiddle to the Froome/Porte/Quintana/Fuglsang show.  The rest of the team has a 10% chance of winning in a breakaway.  Demare is a great sprinter but I still don't think he's up there with Kittel or Sagan.

Bora Hansgrohe will take the green jersey.  No doubt.  Like Froome, it's gonna have to be BAD for Sagan to lose it.  Right now there list is DEEP....deeper than ASO will allow, I know.  With Majka in the mix (I would assume), they'll take some stages.

Katusha has a good chance with Tony Martin for some TT performances.  Kristoff will be there in the sprints....but can he outride Kittel? No.

Fortuneo-Vital will be happy to be there.

Lotto-Soudal would make me happy to win ALL the sprint stages.  Greipel is still my favorite of the sprinters....even moreso than Cav, Kittel or Sagan.  He's just cool.  Will he win?  Enh....I'd say 20%.  Gallopin and De Gendt will be in most of the breakaways.  Winning?  10%

Direct Energie will be happy to be there.  It's almost a prerequisite that Voeckler's team be in the mix.  He's a French National Treasure....I'm sure that's written down somewhere.

Quick Step is loaded for stage wins!!  Kittel - 70% of all group sprints will go to this guy.  Dan Martin will be the Irish version of Pinot, hungry for a stage win and a high GC placing.  I predict he'll make top 6.  Gilbert will get a stage as well.

Cofidis will be empty - Bouhanni will watch some MMA fight in the next three weeks, get all excited and punch someone....therefore he'll not be there.  And if he is, his rough-and-tumble style will surely usher his placing to the back.

Orica-Scott is the team everyone wishes was better.  They seem like great kids but luck never falls in line.  With Gerrans, Yates and Kreuziger in the mix for certain, they'll be in the front groups...but winning every day??  No.  Kreuziger will definitely be protecting Yates in the mountains....but with no Spanish hamburgers to chomp down, he'll fall off in the 2nd week.  Yates will have Gerrans after that, who may be one of the sharpest around, but I don't think he'll have enough to work with.

Overall Predictions:

Fuglsang will somehow muscle his way to win the Tour this year.  Froome will take second 'cause he's just THAT good even on his bad days....and he'll have more bad days this year.  Quintana will get third simply because the Colombian vacations pay dividends (....let's just hope the UCI doesn't have the right test after Nairo gets poked with a needle).  Porte will somehow get fourth.  He'll have good days but his bad days are gonna be painful to watch.  Yates will have a good race...but he's just not there.  Dan Martin will get 6th...and enough prize money to fix his teeth.

Sagan will get the green jersey.  All other contenders will pale in comparison.  If Van Avermaet is there (I hope), the race will be tighter....but otherwise I'm drawing a blank on contenders.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Out late last night...

...I wasn't sure how froggy I'd be this AM.  I knew I wanted to ride and I knew I wanted to ride the FrankenEpic....but how much I'd have in me?  No clue.  After PT yesterday I felt building-leaping stellar...but by evening I was napping.  With the dogs.  Plus I knew we had a late night ahead of us.

I'd bought Meghan and myself tickets to see LA Guns down in Phoenix.  I was stoked to go....not so stoked about standing around after having my hips jack-hammered by Bryan though.  Enh, way it goes.

Anyways, I was up at 6:ish and stretching.  My thighs were SORE and tight so after two rounds of frog stretches, I suited up and headed out.  Tires over-inflated a bit since I would be riding the 6 miles of pavement over.  I even made that a bit tougher by going up Hummingbird to see how the knew position Barry set up would feel.
I didn't hammer....'cause worry.  I eased my way up, topped out in Zone 5.something....then cruised down and around the Foothills Drives and Mohave.  Up the same ole' way to Tatum, over to Trail 100 and so climbing.

So this new position was unexpectedly GOOD.  I sit on the rear edge of the saddle mostly although I did find myself easily moving around on climbs and descents.  The unique change was I stayed in the saddle MORE.  I climbed much of Trail 100 in the saddle....something I don't normally do.  I stayed in the gas longer.  The bike seemed to be planted more - I wasn't jerked around as much when it got looser or chunkier.

Over the top (with a 2nd best Strava effort) and down the fire road portion to the north side.  Passed 2x separate old and grumpy hikers on the way...climbed much of what I always knew was there but when I saw a new-to-me turnoff, I took it.  It went nowhere....but when I came back out, I saw a sem-familiar downhill.  I rode up, stalled and hiked and when I saw the shitty entrance I knew where I was at.  It the top of the three-switchback climb I rarely clean.

Catch my breath, dive in.  Walk a couple spot that look bigger than they are.  Stop to manuever around a TIGHT switchback and soon....I'm out again.  Knowing it's getting hotter (did I mention it was in the 70's this AM??) I take the easier fire road-esque trails to weave to the bottom of 1A, my goal climb for the ride.

Two missed turns, backed out and finally decide to hit the parkway.  As soon as I do, I see the entrance.  Dive in the long climb....picking my way over rocks, through rocks and around rocks.  It's not long I'm at the top.  I evaluate....and decide I have ONE more grunt in me.

Hips are feeling much better than they did.  The deepest inside muscle isn't tugging like it was and the "connector at the top of my pelvis isn't nagging.

Down T100, stop for horses, finish the bypass and make my way to Porcupine. I still love this one stretch more than anything else in PMP.  The STEEP grunt up is rideable but you have to have your head in it...and legs.  Today I did it okay....til I tried to JAM a new line and lost my front wheel in the scrum.  Walk to the top, hop on and hit the descent.

With the new saddle position, I feel more balanced.  The front end isn't loose when I drop in.  The rear seems more planted when I charge uphill.  It must be working - I set a new PR on Strava for the stretch.

Down, out, up and over to the exit of T100.  I was going for a PR (that was well in reach it seemed) but slowing for runners and hikers impeded it a bit.  It was deaf or iPod-impaired dog walker that got in the way.  Twice I spoke, twice she heard nothing.  It finally took me passing (closely) on the left when she exclaimed, "Ohhhh....I didn't see yooou."  How could ya, ya back was turned and music was drowning out the rest of your senses?

Weave through the hood, up and over Hummingbird....back to the house.  Roll in just in time to find out FedEx came 90 minutes early and now I have to haul the R3 (all boxed up and ready) to the Shipping Center.  Keep the $5....I'll UPS next time. (BTW, this was through BikeFlights who has yet to return my call.)

Enh.  Later.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Saturday Morning....

...Meghan and I were both up early to head over to Cyclologic for the B-ride.  I was excited to get on the R3 even if getting all my shit together that morning had been a chore - bathroom trips, some bit of food and just general gathering seemed to take longer than it should have but we still rolled in with 10 minutes before roll-out...or Barry's sermon.

Meghan jumped in the C-ride and I rolled with the B's.  When we hit Thompson Peak Parkway I was wondering if I was gonna "warm-up", heart rate was in Zone 3 and my legs just weren't comfortable.  I credited the PT the day before for the stiffness although it would be 45 minutes before they'd settle in to work.

Grinding up TPP, past Pima and up ??? to Deer Valley.  When the 'hood weavin' commenced, I tried to settle in...and did.  I don't always try to be a paceline-Nazi but I do tend to spot who's wheel I do not want to be behind.  This morning it would come clear quick enough.

One guy on an Argon-18 was there, the same guy I was sure was just visiting....but no, he and his erratic style were in the group.  Like most South American riders I've ridden with, he was not going to do any more work than mandatory. When he jumped into our line on a fast downhill, I was left to drill it across the gap 'cause he decided to sit out the rotation, ducked in behind the slowing rider.  But later he and his condescending compliments got old after one of the longer climbs when another rider and I just eased our way up.  Enh.

Another fella on an older Serotta had no clue anyone was outside his forward vision.  The first time he choked up in front of me was on a 25+ mph descent....all because he wasn't sure where he was at.  So he sits up abruptly to find a person to ask.  The next time was on an even faster descent when he would stomp then check-up, stomp & check.  When the group finally rolled onto Pima, I refused to follow his wheel.  Two riders back and I sat to the outside of the double-file paceline.  Eventually others filled the hole  (think it was actually the S'American Argon 18 guy?) but it was clear no one else wanted it either.

One last rider, a big barrel-chested guy on a Cervelo, was erratic to be behind.  He would DRILL it to make the front group (in the opening fast spots) only to wave everyone through as we reconvened.  Never doing too much work on the front, he was always saving something for when the "fast guys" took off. 

Anyways....up Scottsdale to the Shell Station.  The group rolled pretty fast really, no one really getting froggy til the end.  That was when Cervelo guy who had drafted off me (I think) went out and around, swinging it in HARD and close.  That was enough.  I closed the gap and when it gets a bit more congested (and either he slowed for traffic or he just popped), I just stayed in the gas.

The gas station is always a spectacle - the cast of characters in the parking lot would definitely be like the Muppet Show for anyone not familiar with cycling:
  • Super-Skinny Climber Guy - the guy with no body fat...or much muscle either.  Makes a point to mix in data about how early he started, how many miles he already has and how far he's going despite the heat....
  • Fake Boobs, Over-Tanned Would-Be-Pro-But-Ya-Know....Life Gal - the one on all the expensive equipment, sucking wheel when she gets there, sucking wheel when she leaves.  Explains multiple times how she's not doing the BOS ride 'cause she has SO much more she wants to do in a day and giving her all just wears her out.  Also known as....Liposuction-Doesn't-Buy-Fitness Gal
  • StrongMan OldGuy - the geezer who when he does pass by looks like a silver Sasquatch.  No one knows where he came from but he now wants to learn about your group 'cause it would be a good 'recovery' ride.  
  • Networkers - I'm all for making friends in the group...but I'm not gonna give you a sales pitch nor do I want to hear yours.  And my face with it's unamused expression gives that away quickly sometimes.  Yet, from afar, I watch as clean-shaven guys (mostly) speak in their corporate tones and spill the same lines, "Oh you work with blahblahblah?  I know blahblahblah!!  She/He does this for me....and my name is yakyakyak.  We really should get coffee/wine (....never beer?) because we could ...." and somewhere around there I'm onto observing the next scene in this 10 minute segment of "The Muppets Take Over Carefree"
We roll out and Barry has already said - whatever pace ya like to Lone Mountain but wait there.  I decide I'm NOT hammering with the front groups.  I've not felt right all morning plus have I really done anything like this in a LONG time?  Nope.  5 miles of constant 1-3% grade is new right now...or new within the past 2 months.  I settle in.

Hoping to stay in Zone 2, it soon isn't happening.  Zone 3 is more realistic....and now Jenny is on my wheel.  I like Jenny.  She rides smart, rides well but she's honest with her status in the peloton.  She's very strong but she also recognizes her weaknesses. 

She's also 'causing me to not back off and give up my pace.  Dammit.

I motor.  My speed sits around 11-12, I guess.  My heart rate though is climbing.  Soon it's mid-Zone 3....then Zone 4.  I held it in Zone 4, comfortably, for awhile.  Until the last bit when my legs ached a bit and I had to stand to clear some tension...and pass Cervelo dude who apparently popped trying to hang with the front group.  Turn right, hang out.

Down through that 'hood, down Stagecoach to Legend Trail.  The group gets froggy and starts motoring harder.  I see a gap opening and when I think, "enh, lay back" the girl in front of me sits I go.  In one good solid effort, I motor back to the tail end of the pack.

That was when I knew my legs are going to come back stronger after all this.  I wasn't just firing through my quads.  I could feel my glutes & hamstrings applying power.  My hips felt like they spun circles freely.  My ankles were relaxed allowing my calves to help more efficiently.

When we turned on Pima, I resigned myself to sitting in the back....unless the group was clean.  And it was at times - Barry initiated a rotating paceline and most (not all) understood the concept.  Pull through, the rider who was just in front of you calls "clear", you weave right and ease up a little.  Nice, smooth-flowing paceline....until it's not.

Like when Argon 18 guy decides to stay the same pace, making it harder for the next rider (who was much smaller and less powerful) to pull through.  When he did get it, he just choked up hard....brake checks reverberating through the right side of the group.

Or when Cervelo guy would pull through but ALWAYS accelerate so hard he gapped the front of the group.  And he was always behind me.  I never chased.  I just held my tempo and let him realize he'd been the one to make a gap. was still a good ride.  We ended up lounging the rest of the day.  I could tell however I need a better warm-up routine.  My right hip was the same ole spot that gets sore when I don't warm-up.  My left was weak but it was better.

Sunday, easy day - quick 40 minute ride with Cheney thrown in.  PT exercises.  And pool time.  Not much else.

Today is more PT then I pack up the R3 to go to NC.  After a bath....maybe.  I shoulda picked up new treads before today  Maybe when I go by Cyclologic later?  Maybe.


Friday, June 9, 2017

I just finished... fifth physical therapy appointment in three weeks (jury duty cut into the dates so not an even number).  Every time I have shown up, I've been nervous:

Is this gonna hurt? (yes)
Am I gonna fart on the table? (not yet)
What if my balls fall out? (I think they're used to that)

I always leave feeling "holy shit, that was awesome even if I feel like pudding."

So the progress has been phenomenal - my leg discrepancy has dropped from 15mm to less than a millimeter.  There's still an imbalance in my hips that's just gonna take time.  Ride a bike for 15 years, never really cross-train, never really stretch...and shit's gonna get outta kilter.  And take longer than 3 weeks to fix, too.

Even still I'm excited to be this far along.  Yea, it's $80 a session...which is adding up.  Still worth it.  For the first time I can remember in my life, I stand up straighter when standing for a long period.  My riding feels more "balanced" although the computer imagery at Cyclologic says, not quite.

I took the FrankenEpic and Diverge up there yesterday so Barry could go through the numbers.  Both bikes got some big changes...although not NEAR as much as the R3.

The Diverge's saddle was raised and slid forward.  Pedal washers were added to compensate for my knee tracking.  Stem was raised, bars leveled and shifters tilted back.

The FrankenEpic got a new saddle.  The Phenom was broken....and it showed on the mapping.  With 143 width saddles, Barry had pointed out that I was on the edges.  So I tried a 155 Toupe.  No bueno.  Rubbed the wrong spots.  Tried a 148 Montrose.....

...and HOLY SHIT.  The mapping itself showed the difference right away!  I was having less pressure, I was more centered and I hit the "happy spot" quick.  I have a new saddle.

That saddle was slid forward, height about the same...although Barry said more was doable.  He also suggested keeping TWO stems - my current 90mm 0 degree rise for technical (Flagstaff, Prescott, PMP) riding and a 100-110mm 6 degree drop for faster (Pemberton, Browns) riding.  More pedal washers on this bike....and I was set.

Where does ALL that put me 15 days before Blood, Weat & Gears in NC?  I think in a great spot.  So here's what I'm up against:

50 miles -- I've already hit that mark locally.  Did a couple weeks ago, rode 3 hours pretty much pain free.  Now that was NOWHERE near the same amount of climbing....but I got in close to the right number of horus.

4200+ feet of climbing -- again, I'm closer than I was to being ready.  Before this whole hip thing, 4200 woulda just been a good day.  Now I'm breaking it down so I will KNOW what I'm facing:

Climb 1: 7/10 of a mile, 230 feet....2 miles into the course.  Should go by just fine...but it'll be semi-crowded, too.

Climb 2: just after a short(ish) roller, Rush Branch Road starts with a 1.5 mile 435 ft climb.  Twisty means I'll not be so bored.  What looks like a consistent 6-7% grade means I'll be easing up.

Climb 3:  Rush Branch Road has one more kicker, a 7/10 mile with 200 feet of climbing.  Twisty and less should go by quicker still.

By now the aid station has come into sight...but...

Climb 4:  Beaver Dam Road is the big one for the short route.  7 miles & 1100 feet.  Not too twisty...but it only gets steeper as it goes. 1-2% gives way to 4-5%....and ultimately there a 8-12% kick before the very top.

This is followed with a windy 3 mile descent...not too steep but tight.

Climb 5:  Hwy 421....2.8 miles & 351 feet.  Not bad....steady grinding culminating with 5% near the top.

Another 3 mile descent....but more open.  Kyle's already told me it's coated in loose flat tires.

Climb 6:  After a long descent, the next 2.4 miles climbs 747 feet.   The grade is consistently in the 7% range with some TIGHT switchbacks.

This is followed by a 2 mile descent with some TWISTY stuff...

By this point we'll be 33 miles in.  This is where I think Kyle (who is making the most noise about not being in shape) will make his call - sag it in or stick it out.... What's ahead of him?  Let's see...

Climb 7:  1.1 miles & 375 the 42 mile mark.  8 miles to go basically.

Climb 8:  one last STEEP kick, 8/10ths and 216 feet... mostly 8%.  At this point you can smell the barn...

The last 1.5 miles is downhill or flat.  It's over by now.

Do I have it in me? I think so.  When I climbed Mt. Elden Wednesday, I felt good...and that was STEEP - 12-13% at times.  I wasn't fast but I wasn't trying to be either.

Yesterday I left the house @ 10:45 or so on a "warm-up" ride.  I've started doing short loops in the hood, 30-45 minutes to get blood flowing and get my muscles warmed up.  I could get the same effect by walking....but no.

Anyways, it was HOT.  It was 95 when I left and climbing.  I told myself, "Self, be smart, go smooth, stay easy."  So I did.  I practiced breathing through my nose, out my mouth.  It served in making the time pass.  When I left the golf course road, I was wanting more....but not much.  Stop for the sign at Cheney, take a right.

Again, go easy.  I worked hard at going slow and easy.  I topped Cheney at Zone 1.8.  Left and up Hummingbird, hit 2.5 and once at the top, I dropped back down to 1.8.  Left on Quartz Mtn, more easy....topped at 1.9.

So my "easy" climbing is good.  I forget how steep that one pitch on Hummingbird is, but it's close to a wall.  I saw 4 miles per hour.  It wasn't over in a short time...but I did it and stayed WELL within myself.

Anyways I've got errands to run.  Later.