Friday, May 10, 2013

Life - Training... or Not

It's been a while since I posted. I tried to line up some posts but found it difficult to get even half hearted attempts complete enough to hit the "publish" button. Even so I'm not impressed with my own posts recently.

The thing is that there are other things that occupy a lot of my time. Things have changed here in the homestead. They're good changes but they veer me away from sitting down and typing at the computer.

I suppose I could divide my life up into a few different parts. There's the cycling, of course, and I strongly identify myself with cycling.

For example I imagine that when someone asks a friend about me they'll get a "yeah, he rides bikes" kind of a response. It probably won't be "yeah, he grew up in Holland" or "yeah, he plays the violin" or "he likes cars" or "he studies WW2 military history stuff" or  "he's fascinated with F1" or "he likes working in the yard" or "he's a cat person". I'm not even including the family stuff like "he's a dad" or "he's a husband" or "he has a few siblings" or stuff like that.

Those other things are true, though perhaps not as public as cycling. Well, okay, I think I've played my violin only once or twice in the last 5 years - twice I think - but the rest are still part of what I do.

Yesterday, for example, I swapped the rims on the Golf and put the "warm weather" rims/tires on - the original all-season tires which I had mounted on Enkei rims. I chose them simply because they were the lightest rims I could get, I think a good 7 lbs lighter per rim. With the very light factory tires (I was surprised at how light the factory tires were when I started looking at various tire weights) the rim/tire set up weighs in at about 36 lbs.

Tad under 36 lbs

Why mention this?

Because although I may not blog about the car I do spend time doing car stuff. In the process of swapping the rims...

(I have to mention that it's a bit weird that a bicycle wheel is made of a RIM, spokes, and a hub, but a car wheel is a RIM all by itself. So a car has a rim, a bike has a wheel. Anywho...)

... as I was saying, in the process of swapping rims I also fixed a fender liner, repositioning it. During one of the many storms we had last winter it got moved a bit - it would do that "playing card in the spokes" noise when we turned the wheel hard to the left. Some observations on how it assembled, some judicious fiddling with the piece, and it popped back into place.

So, instead of going for a spin, I did that.

We also have two of our cats in cat jails, so to speak. One is in a cat jail here at home - he's been isolated from the other cats, mainly for his protection. Our gentle giant Mike has been picking on Perry, the newest and almost the most timid male we have.

Mike (left) and Perry in peaceful times

Another male Tiger, the dominant one (but at about 9 lbs the smallest one - he's build like a climber) is at the vet for the second night. He's been hacking up a lot so it's been a bit worrying. So far so good with him - we hope to have him home tomorrow.

So instead of going for a spin, I went to the vet with Tiger.

Tiger, on the way to the vet in 2010 in the Z.

Recently I spent a few of my off days plus some weekend days working in the yard, putting in 3 or 4 hour days in the height of the "no bug, few plants, and nice temperature" season. It's prime riding season but it's also literally the only time I can walk in the yard without looking like a lunatic as I wave my arms around to fend off all the dive bombing mosquitoes. A long time ago I went for a hike with some people. The joke afterward - someone asked "what's this?" and ran around waving their arms furiously around their head.

It was supposed to be me, hiking.

Running, not walking, waving my hands around.

If it's not bugs it's something else. On the beautiful spring days so rare here in Connecticut I inevitably got poison ivy. Mind you I was wearing gloves, long pants, long shirt, and a one piece mechanic's suit on top of the pants and shirt. Work boots, hat, all the exterior stuff sprayed with DEET.

Wrist after about 5 days.
This is before it got really bad - I won't post those picture.

Although I'm pretty sensitive to it I decided that if I'm going to get it I might as well try and clear out a bunch of brush. A week later I started regretting my decision as I had poison ivy spots on both arms, torso, legs, neck, face... it really hampered my style as I couldn't move a lot and I was constantly uncomfortable.

I went to the doctor but the bumps still have to heal. It's very uncomfortable, to say the least.

So how did that affect my cycling? Two of my half days (which are "mine") spent in the yard. Weekend days spent in the yard. I rode once after doing yardwork. I declined riding a few days because the poison ivy was really irritating me.

I chose to do what I did. It's not like I had to give up cycling for a week. I chose to do it, on my own, preferring to wade through the undergrowth and move dead tree limbs and such rather than go inside, clean up, and go for a ride. I literally stood there, knee deep in tree debris, and decided, "Yeah, I'm gonna keep working on this instead of going for a ride."

Weird, huh?

There are other changes too. Junior is starting to sleep on a super regular schedule. He gets to sleep between 6:00 and 7:30 PM and he wakes up at 6:00 AM. I almost always get up with Junior, which, if you knew me before, would have you shaking your head in wonder. I am definitely not a morning person but now if I get up at 7 AM it feels like it's 10 AM.

I can't ride well in the morning - I tried it before - so I either ride on my half days (Tues/Thurs, when Junior is at day care) or on weekends. Just now I started riding a bit in the evening after he goes to sleep.

All this stuff, one small thing at a time, has dug into my riding time. I've chosen to do that, it's not against my will, it's just the way it is.

Therefore my riding progress is sort of in neutral.

The last race at Bethel illustrated things perfectly. Of course I was promoting the race so I had to get there early, coordinate the various staff and volunteers (and a few regulars were missing so it was tougher than usual), I wanted to do the podium pictures, I did a "cover as much as I could" Cat 5 clinic, and finally did a raffle to give stuff away.

When I got on the bike for the Cat 3-4 race I really didn't feel like riding. I'd ridden a grand total of 24 minutes the prior week, rescuing turtles with my nephews. Strava even told me I didn't ride enough for a "ride". Three laps into that race I decided I'd stop. I soft pedaled to get back to the registration area and saw the Missus with Junior.

I stopped to say hi, Junior recognized me and smiled and started waving his arms and kicking his feet, and all was well.

So what's ahead in cycling for me?

I have a few goals.

First I want to lose weight. I'm talking 10 pounds would be nice for a minimum loss, 15 pounds would be great, and 20 pounds would be fantastic. The last number would bring me to my 2010 weight, well a tad under, and it makes racing so much easier. It's much more fun because I can be involved in the race, not just suffering at the back.

I preach to whoever will listen that if you want to be a better cyclist you first need to lose any extra weight. Sacrifice your training to attain your weight loss. Once you lose the weight you'll gain racing fitness quickly. If you try and train and lose weight it's very, very, very difficult. I find it near impossible - I'm either too weak to make racing worthwhile (and training is a joke) or I eat enough that I just maintain my weight.

The only way I lose significant weight while training is to do long, steady miles, like I do when I'm in SoCal. I can't spend that kind of time on the bike, not regularly, so that's not really an option right now.

This weight loss thing was one of the thoughts I had when I decided to do non-cycling things. I wanted to lose some weight, weight I gained steadily during Bethel as I wanted to actually race there. I could sacrifice training for a month while I tried to lose weight. I could focus on non-cycling things. Mentally recharge. And return to cycling at hopefully a leaner weight.

So far it's only been semi-successful. I hope to do better.

Second I want to be able to make efforts in a race. Watching the pros, even watching my old helmet cam clips, I am surprised at how hard riders can go, even the old me. I'd like to have that kind of fitness where I could make efforts in a race and not get shelled immediately afterward.

Third, I'm going to cherry pick races. If I'm light enough I'll race, otherwise I'll skip the race. This way I'm motivated to lose weight. The races where I need to be lighter are no fun when I'm heavier. It's no fun for the Missus either, to see me start a race and pull out a few laps later.

So, for now, I'll be focusing on what food I'm taking in. I'll be doing steadier rides in general, rides that compliment a lower calorie diet.

And I'll be enjoying my time doing things that may not be related to bike racing.

Of course this may all change when I do my next race, but, hey, life changes all the time. Gotta adapt.


Anonymous said...

Consider some kind of low-carb/ketogenic/paleo diet for weight loss. If you're not dumping your glycogen every other day on long, hard rides, you probably don't need a lot of starches or sugars to get your energy back.

Works well for me - 35, male, time-crunched cyclist.

Aki said...

I'm trying to keep my calories down but I am definitely on board with the "don't need starches/sugars if I'm not riding" bit. My main thing right now is to get past the poison ivy which is an ever present thing, both in itchiness (newer stuff) and pain (older stuff - hardened skin is now splitting/cracking). Ugh.