Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Training - Year End 2014

So Strava has this cool thing where you can put your year into a video of sorts.

Here is mine.

Presentation is everything - it's a generic presentation in terms of images and music but it makes it look so much better. It's like some pictures we had taken by a local photographer Matthew Wagner (he's the one that did our engagement and wedding pictures way back when) - instead of just reviewing the pictures the photographer did a presentation set to music. It made the images much more than just a picture, it made them emotional, vibrant.

Or, well, you can see for yourself.

My dad was so proud of me, I'm sure
Photo by Matthew J Wagner

So, like that, is the Strava thing.

My stats for the year are definitely on the lower side of things. In 2010 I did something like 450 hours, it's the only major stat I remember. I did something like 150 hours before the first Bethel, although I think I counted from December 2009 - November 2010. I was light, I was training, and the results showed.

This year was a bit less cycling focused, which was fine. The big thing was looking after Junior, who is 2 3/4 years old now. He's talking, he is learning like crazy, and he remembers obscure things from literally 6 months prior. At the doctor's office he pointed at a jar of tongue depressors.

"Sticks for the mouth."

The last time we'd been in a doctor's office was 6 months prior. I was shocked at his memory that moment.

That kind of stuff really overshadows anything I might accomplish cycling. Racing is fun, of course, but this is the end of my 32nd season of racing. I've been about as good as I can get in the past, I dedicated maybe 8 or 10 years to cycling 100%, and I'm totally okay with racing a bit less than at max.

I spent more time with Junior than getting ready to race this day.
I wouldn't have changed it if I could.
Photo by Matt Stuart, obviously

I did 158 hours this year. I did about 8,000 meters of elevation gain, so 24,000 feet. In terms of numbers it's not much. One rider that follows me on Strava would have done the same hours in 7 weeks; it took me 52.

I got about ten kudos for every hour I rode so that was nice. There are a lot of people that not only follow me but pay enough attention that they give me a thumbs up when I get a chance to ride the bike. To me this means the most. I recognize all the names, they're all people that I've become friends with in one cycling related way or another. Many are distant - I've never actually met them. Some I've corresponded with at length, giving them advice about racing and such.

The kudos they give me is sort of a manifestation of what drives me to continue with my involvement in the cycling community. I've been thinking about this a lot recently, the "why do I promote races" and "why do I offer help to other promoters".

I realized that it's not a business thing for me, although technically I'm trying to make money doing it. My accountant wife would argue from a fiscal point of view that since I'm minimally profitable it might be more efficient to not do any of it at all. She doesn't, of course, because she understands at some level, maybe better than I can define, what cycling means to me.

When I commit to someone to help them I'm committing to that person. I'm floored by the efforts and the results that two promoters make and get, those of White Plains and Tokeneke. Both events are things I wouldn't want to undertake on my own but the two pairs of promoters have gone out and created events out of nothing.

The kicker is that both promoters were first year promoters the first year I helped them. When you think about how much you didn't know when you first started racing, it's incredible to think about how much they accomplished going into these huge, full blown events without any experience promoting a race. The Silk City Cross race was also a first year event when I first helped, and the strength of the Expo team really helped pull together the event.


From a technical/bike point of view 2015 really had very little in terms of changes - no redoing my wheel set load out, no new frames, not even a new derailleur or anything like that. I did get my BB30 shells reamed so my bearings fit properly. This wa the first year my bike was semi-quiet.

Another thing was I got my custom stem, placing my drops properly relative to the bottom bracket (cranks). In 2013 I literally couldn't control my bike in sprints because my weight distribution was off just a bit. In 2014 I had no such problems.

Bike with my favorite wheel set, the Stinger 7/9 wheels.

I didn't realize how significant that was until a few months into the 2014 season. I won a lot of field sprints this year. Apparently the drops being 3 cm lower makes a different. Unfortunately none of those sprints were for a win. Still, though, it's better than last year, where I struggled in the sprints.

My only actual tangible prize this season was getting the bronze medal in the M45+ crit (Nutmeg and USAC).

Podium picture with Junior

With my minimal training I struggled at the limit to just finish races. By August my lack of training caught up with me - I got shelled in three races in rapid succession. At that point I decided to stop racing for the year.

I started to diet. I am lighter now than I was at any point earlier this year. I hope to continue the weight loss, to start the 2015 season at a lighter, more race able weight. I'm not as concerned with fitness, but whatever fitness I gain I want it to move a lighter, more efficient body.

2014 was good but 2015 will be better.

A huge thing for us is that the Missus is striking out on her own starting, well, tomorrow. Her first day will be January 5th, but technically today is her last day at her current firm. Tomorrow she'll be an independent small business owner.

The sign outside their office - the partner Harolyn surprised the Missus with the sign today.

In a parallel thought I need to start working. Being a stay at home dad has been great but it doesn't increase our income; I need to bring in some money from outside of the household. I'd like to stay in the cycling world for a number of reasons. The cycling world is realistically not as lucrative as, say, IT, but it's something that I've been passionate about for literally decades. In that time, as a couple friends pointed out, I've built some solid equity in the community.

However, the reality is that I need to earn money, and that could take form in any of a variety of career paths. Ultimately I don't know what I'll be doing for work.

Because of that I have no idea what my schedule will be like in 2015. This is why I can't think about training or race schedules or whatever. I have no idea what I'll be able to do so I can't plan on anything.  In a way it was sort of like when we wanted to start a family. With the unknown in front of us the only thing I could plan on was not making plans. I went into 2011 and 2012 without making any seasonal goals or plans. Back then I didn't want to share the family plan thing so I didn't say anything on the blog. This time it's not quite so sensitive so I'm okay with blurting it out.

Dieting is unique because it allows me to prepare for an unknown season. I can diet while looking after Junior. I can't do sprints while Junior sits at home or at the playground. I hope to be able to train, of course, but I simply don't know how that part of cycling will go.

I've been saying to people that we're going through a lot of changes here at this house. Change is almost always good, at least in my experience. Change is stressful though, which is why it's normal not to look for change. Therefore it's a bit stressful, yes, but I'm confident it'll be good.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Training - The Trifecta

With Junior up and down again all night, with a pretty consistent 102-103 degree fever, we postponed plans for any travel today. I was on duty for most of the night, starting at 11 or so. The Missus took over at about 5:30 AM, and I slept fitfully for the next 5 or so hours. By then she'd called the doctor (this is Day Three of this fever) and we needed to get going by 11 or 11:15.

The visit went well. Last time we went, for his 2 1/2 year old visit, he pointed at the jar of tongue depressors.

"Sticks for the mouth."

I looked at him a bit slack jawed. I don't think they used one on him since March, about 6 months prior.

At any rate this time the doctor used the "Stick for the mouth" as well as a swab thing to take a culture. He didn't like that as much. After a couple minute wait the doctor came back in with the good news - no strep.

We headed home and it was so warm that Junior didn't need a blanket and in fact we didn't need our coats in the car. The Missus looked in the mirror at me (I was sitting next to Junior in the back).

"You want to ride today?"

I thought about it.

"I don't have any gear left, I wore all the stuff in the last two days."
"I washed it all."

We got home and the Missus tried to get things such that I could get out at 2 PM. It took just a touch longer so it was 10-15 minutes later that I finally headed out.

Based on yesterday's kit load out I decided to play it safe and do the same. LS base layer, the Roubaix material long sleeve skinsuit with Roubaix type shorts, the wind vest (no pockets on the skinsuit so no place for my phone), my Canari gloves, regular shoes, and Sidekick booties.

It felt better today. My legs didn't feel quite as cool and my upper body felt just about right.

Me, on the other hand, I felt a bit tired.

I'd been up until about 5:30, catching a break here and there, looking after Junior. He was running a pretty consistent 103 degree fever, and although we gave him Tylenol early in the evening, I kept putting off the next dose until suddenly the Missus came downstairs.

On the bike I felt a bit tired, a bit unmotivated. I told the Missus I'd do a lap but that it would take at least an hour. Yesterday's ride took 1:01 and I figured this one would be a 1:15 or something like that.

I did my usual JRA pace, just trying to keep going. I definitely felt a bit tired and not very motivated. On the other hand I felt a bit more at home out on the road, standing on the pedals.

On the little "tell" hill I went pretty hard as I had the right of way and there were a bunch of cars waiting at the intersection. When I looked down I saw 24.8 mph.


I took it easy on a lot of other sections.

I missed the green light at the 10/202 and 315 intersection. I wanted to do a jump so I actually turned around, backtracked a bit, and turned around when things were clear.

My jump wasn't great and I eased off earlier than yesterday.

I also blew a bit early on the last half mile hill. According to Strava I did the hill in 2:50. Yesterday it was 2:48, the day before it was 2:53. All in the same range, but I felt the best doing the 2:53 - I was actually going well all the way to the top.

I got to the house and took some pictures with the phone before going in.

The bike after the ride.
I haven't touched the bottle since I put it in the cage before the ride on Christmas Day.

Legs after the ride. Any "orange" is the Atomic Balm heat rub.

The business end of the bike. Blinkies, saddle bag, mini pump.

Ends up that my peak was 50 watts higher than yesterday's jump. I did sit up pretty quickly, doing about 750w for 10 seconds instead of the 800 yesterday.

I also did the whole loop 0.1 mph faster than yesterday. Each day I went 0.1 mph faster. 16.5 on Christmas, 16.6 yesterday, and 16.7 today. Even though I felt a pretty decent amount of fatigue I rode faster. I think it has to do with me getting used to throwing the bike around again, something I can't do on the trainer.

Junior rallied for 15 or 20 minutes in the early evening but it was a false alarm. He went back to a 104 fever so he's gotten his Tylenol and is laying on the bed behind me. Hopefully tonight I'll be able to sleep a regular amount.

Training - This Time With Feeling!

Our Christmas this year got a bit tough on Junior. He was running a fever, up to a high 103 degrees or so. I saw a 104.5 but couldn't replicate it so that was probably user error. A slew of 103.8s and such though. With some Tylenol it'd get down to the 100-101 range.

He was like this for about 6 hours today, except when we picked him up or cradled him.

We figure it's either teething or a virus. His last fever, hitting and holding 105 degrees, went away pretty much on its own although by then we'd visited the ER and spent a long night worrying about him.

Now 103 seems pedestrian.

We'd planned to do some family and friends stuff but called off the plans. The Missus spent a bunch of time doing stuff around the house. I ended up going for a ride.

Before the ride bit I just want to say that my pretty aggressive diet, going on for a solid 30+ days, has been possible only because of her. I've outlined my basic diet-oriented needs to her and she's managed to find things to make that fit those guidelines. I was pleasantly surprised at the spread on the table Christmas Day. I've realized that it's not just the diet - there are a lot of other things in my life that simply would not be possible without her support.

Anyway, after we realized that it'd be best to stay at home with Junior, the Missus waved me on to go ride.

I'd gotten a cheeky comment from a friend, asking me if I had boiled over on yesterday's ride. He'd ridden in similar conditions wearing shorts, and he questioned my sanity for wearing three layers up top and knickers to boot.

Today, with the car thermometer reading an even 50 degrees, versus the 54 or 55 I saw yesterday, I decided that I needed to redo my ride. I had two things to do. First, I wanted to see how it went if I wore a bit less clothing. Second, due to time limitations, I wanted to ride a bit harder. I figured I had an hour to ride so that'd be my goal, to do the hour sort of hard.

Contrary to yesterday I went out today with a thermal long sleeve + shorts skinsuit, so really a Roubaix pair of shorts and a Roubaix LS jersey. I wore a wicking LS base layer and a wind vest, so I got ride of one LS layer up top.

With the Roubaix shorts I didn't wear anything else so just shorts, versus the knickers yesterday. I did slather on some Atomic Balm (Medium) for heat.

Same gloves, same shoes/booties, same head cover, same helmet.

I'd totally NOT expected to ride today (family/friend stuff planned) so I had no helmet cam charged. I tried one that I normally leave plugged in but it stopped about 30 or 40 meters into the ride.

So much for any cam stills.

I headed out, my legs feeling completely fresh. No soreness or anything from yesterday, but then again, to be fair, I really didn't push hard. I did enjoy the bare leg feeling outside. It's more fun climbing out of the saddle, it's much easier to move around.

My bare knees and shins were definitely chilly compared to yesterday, especially with the opening 30-ish mph descent. However once I got going they were fine.

On the other hand my torso was still warm, even my arms. I think that I could have gotten rid of the LS base layer and done a SS base layer instead. The vest might have been much but I prefer my torso warm, retain some core heat.

Hands and feet were pleasantly warm, head also.

I pushed a bit - my favorite get up is a long sleeve + vest up top and shorts and booties down below. It screams "flahute" and although I haven't been a very hard core rider in forever, it's still fun to head out feeling like a Belgian Classics rider.

A "Belgian Classic" kind of shot from 2010, a chilly day at the Rent.
Note LS jersey, vest, shorts, and oversocks.
Photo by RTC

I checked the SRM on the slight hill that I like to use as a reference point. I noted that I hit it 11 minutes into the ride, so it's pretty close to the start of a ride (and now I can check my rides to see the numbers/power/speed/etc).

I also noted that I went up the thing at about 17 mph today, a far cry from the 24-25 mph I could sustain during that magical 2010 year.

With my body a bit confused ("Cold legs, hot arms, what the heck?") I never felt really good. I wasn't bonky or anything but definitely lacked some edge. The diet has to be part of it.

On the other hand I've ridden 20-odd hours in December, the biggest month this year after January. So I'm actually training a bit.

I made no real efforts on the ride, and in fact I plodded a bit even when I thought I should be rolling better.

Incredibly, comparing Christmas Day to The Day After Christmas Day, I went slower today on a shorter ride on a day with much less wind.

The only highlight of the day was my right turn from 10/202 to 315 - it's very much like a race turn, there's a slight downhill after, then a slight uphill, so it's great for a "dive into a turn and sprint" kind of scenario. The downhill acts like a leadout and the uphill lets me sprint hard.

Yesterday I did a half-hearted jump, maxing out at 1000w and hitting about 33.5 mph. Today I played the lights, almost stopping 100 meters away from the lights, then accelerating to the corner once the light turned green. I wasn't up to speed but I did an okay sprint, peaking at 1100w but, more importantly, holding 800+w for a good 15 seconds.

I think the mile of sun protected road just before really affected my jump - my legs went from feeling great to feeling like blocks of wood in that chilly, shaded bit of road. The 15 or 20 seconds of coasting and soft pedaling probably didn't help either. My heart rate, normally pretty high after a big sprint, only peaked at 147 bpm. I even waited for a minute or so, to see if it would go up (it usually peaks in the 30-40 seconds after a sprint) but no, it started heading down from 147 bpm.

Whatever. My sprint was a bit lower than a best-race type finish, where I might peak at 1250w and hold 1100w for 18 or 19 seconds, but it's good for a diet-penalized, second-ride-outside-in-months kind of jump.

The bike felt great during the sprint. I had good control, no front end bouncing around like it did with the higher stem. Instead the front end felt solid, planted, and totally predictable.

I don't plan on riding outside anytime soon so the bike may be back on the trainer for a bit.

And tonight I've been up a bit with Junior again.

Oh and he's up.

2 AM.

101.6 now, much better but still feeling hot.

And he's chatting.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Training - Merry Christmas

Yesterday and today were family days. The Missus was home from work so the three of us (her, Junior, me) spent the day together. Yesterday Junior was a bit fussy, I was absolutely exhausted, and it ends up he was probably coming down with something; today he's been running a 100-102 degree fever pretty consistently. His normal "eat everything and then ask for seconds" became more of the "pour clementines from one bowl to another".

Nonetheless, with the weather a crazy 55+ degrees F, with sun supposed to come out, the Missus encouraged me to get out for a ride. It's really unusual for me to train outside in the winter but with March/April weather… well I had to get out.

I had a last little delay as Junior wanted to lay down and snuggle with his blankets. After holding him a bit he passed out. The Missus took over when I transferred him to his bed, shooing me away to go ride.

Because the weather was unusual I'm noting what I wore:
 - Bib knickers, "roubaix" material.
 - LS base layer
 - LS insulating base layer (not wicking)
 - LS jersey
 - wind vest
 - head thing
 - my Canari winter gloves
 - regular shoes, socks
 - Sidekick booties

Maybe a better way to do it:

Head: head sock thing
Neck: Turtleneck bit from a base layer
Torso: 3 x LS jerseys, wind vest
Legs: 1 x knickers
Feet: regular socks, regular shoes, booties
Hands: regular winter gloves

I was a bit warm since I felt warm when I started down the driveway. Realistically I could have gotten rid of one of the LS layers, maybe the insulating one, and replaced it with a SS jersey. I also could have used some "roubaix"/thermal shorts - I have a full "roubaix" long sleeve + shorts skinsuit and that would have been ideal with the LS base layer and the wind vest.

But I wore what I wore and with daylight rapidly fading I headed out.

I had been fiddling with my bike in the trainer room. My tape was a wreck, I wanted to mount a second bottle, I wanted to find a way to mount a frame pump, etc. I'm also reorganizing said bike room so I've been sorting through a lot of things.

Therefore I started full a pretty good load out, a pretty good set of supplies. A tube each for the 60 mm valve front and 80 mm valve rear, and an extender to let the 60 mm work in the rear. Spare dropout. Multi tool, two of them, including an 8 mm allen wrench and a chain tool. Spare KMC Missing Links. Some other stuff.

I also Strava'd the ride with the phone. I had my SRM going (and checked the slope thing a few times to make sure the weather didn't radically affect my numbers. Our unheated basement, at 64 degree or so, is pretty close to the 55 degrees or so outside, so the numbers weren't far off, just a few ticks.

Today I weighed in at an "off cycle" 167 lbs. I say "off cycle" when I'm at the heavier point of my weight. I was "on cycle" by the time I went for the ride, and after I weighed… I have to go weigh myself.

Ha. Exactly the same weight, down to the tenth. Haha.

Oh and when I set out I'd eaten about 1200 cal. With about 900 cal burned I'm at a net of under 300 cal for the day. Therefore I should be able to eat a bit tonight for dinner.

Compare that to the 175-179 lbs I weighed most of the summer and it's a dramatic difference, a good 10 lbs loss. I felt it immediately heading out of the complex. I have to climb a hill that's a good minute effort at 300-450 watts.

Today I peaked at 529w on that hill and did about 12 mph on the hill. It took me less than a minute and I slowed dramatically at the top just because.

Sept 27th I peaked at under 370 and struggled to go 9 mph. It took me about 1:20 to do the hill.

Aug 3rd I hit just under 390w and struggled to hit 10 mph. It took about 1:15 to do the hill.

There's another little hill I want to check but it's so short and in the middle of the loop so it's harder than checking the first few minutes of a given ride. On a great year, like 2010, I was flowing up the hill in a 53x14 at 25 mph. On tougher years it's hard for me to go 16-18 mph. I'm curious what today was like - I did it twice and both times it felt easier than any recent memory.

I hadn't been out in a while so I had some of the normal twinges from being able to ride in the saddle. They were gone by an hour into the ride but I was pretty aware of them, just in case they didn't go away.

I also learned, again, just how unaerodynamic it is to stand up. Given the choice I'll stay seated at speed, or stand while on the drops. However today, going along in a stream of traffic (I know, traffic on Christmas?), I stood while on the hoods for a short hill. It was like I hit a wall I slowed so much.

In a field, standing on the hoods is not a big deal.


Big deal.

(Specialized did a simple wind tunnel test and it showed that for one rider - sample size was one - there was a significant savings aerodynamically in the draft by being on the drops versus being on the hoods. I thought about that today while I was on the hoods. The rider in question was a relatively tall woman based on the head tube size of the frame. I, of course, am a relatively short-legged guy so when I stand up I catch more wind proportionally speaking, so there's that.)

I did a loop and a half of my normal Quarry Road loop, trying to get my favorite right turn in (10/202 to 315) so I could do a big jump. The first lap I did an half hearted jump, deciding to make the effort only after I was clear of the turn. The effort ended up a 1000w peak, 600w for 10 second kind of effort. Definitely subpar, but fun and invigorating for a late December ride.

I figured I'd do it for real on the next loop.

Unfortunately the light turned red just before I got to the light the second time so I didn't do the second jump. I thought about it but instead decided to save it and see how the final half mile hill went. Ultimately it went about normal, based on Strava's "recent effort" comparison. I went significantly faster once this year, significantly slower twice, and within a 10 second window the other 5 times.

Yes I've only done the Quarry Road loop 9 times this year.


It's my normal outside training ride and I used to do it 1-2-3x a week. I guess I haven't felt the need to ride outside much the past few years.

So with that I headed in. I wanted to get one last picture of the bike, in its current iteration, before the deep freeze sets in.

After the ride, Christmas Day.
Photo taken with my LG G2 phone camera in "dynamic mode"

Thoughts on the current iteration of the bike.

The bottle placement accentuates the length of the bike. I kind of like it. With the pump, the taillights, the bag, the bike has a very rear mass bias look and I like it. All the stuff is grouped around the seat tube, leaving the front end of the bike a bit bare and way out in front.

I've been working on the downtube bottle cage - I think I'm going to put in new rivnuts instead of trying to file the current cage, as I want them a good 1 cm further up the tube. Instead of trying to get it done for the ride today I just used the seat tube cage.

For the record I never touched the bottle during the ride.

I combined the two Blackburn mini pumps (one carbon bodied, one regular plastic) into one "best condition" carbon one. That's the pump peeking out from behind the seat tube.

Both blinkie lights have full strength rechargeable batteries.

The saddle bag has all my training ride stuff in it. It's short the third tube so it's a bit baggy looking. With a third tube it looks like something out of a catalog, perfectly formed.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Training - Tale of Two (Trainer) Rides

I did two rides in three days. One went well and one was, well, less than that.

The first night I was so wrapped up in my thoughts while listening to music that my first realization of how much time I'd been on the bike was when I saw 2 hours and 37 minutes on the SRM.

That translated to something just short of midnight so I pedaled a few more minutes then stopped.

Considering how I felt, considering my water situation, I could have realistically gone for at least another hour without feeling bad, maybe another 90 minutes. My goal had been to do an hour of pedaling so the extra was sort of a bonus.

But with two important (aren't they all?) appointments this morning, at 7-ish and 8 AM, I had to stop. The later one is a blood-drawing appointment which means that I'll have some blood values to share. I'm curious myself what my hematocrit will be as I've been aggressively dieting and actually riding somewhat regularly. I figure both will drive my normal 46-49% hematocrit down a bit.

We'll see.

So how do I lose track of time on a trainer?

Well, I can't really answer that since I lost track of time.

I spent the first bit of the session watching the F1 highlight clips produced by the F1 people, the "official race edits". They're a bit light on actual race info but short and fun to watch.

I then started playing playlists of songs off of YouTube. It seems that YouTube automatically does playlists if you pick a song, meaning if I start playing song YouTube will queue up another song, going on endlessly. This made it easy to lose myself in music, the cursor hovering over the "play next song" area so that if the song didn't fit my immediate mood I just clicked the touchpad.

I'd just put my head down and keep going. Many of the songs had no real video, or I didn't care about watching video, so I typically just closed my eyes.

I thought of a stream of consciousness post that I'll do later, so that's one thing that went through my mind.

Another part of it was thinking of the stuff happening in my life. It's all about the family, to paraphrase a popular song, and I'm coming to the end of the first phase of Junior's life, the "stay at home Dad" phase. I've always found change to be good, although I suppose I view change in a positive way. Therefore my primary mission, to find employment, isn't a bad thing.

Although I'll see a bit less of Junior, I'll be able to continue to contribute to the household. If I don't start working then the reality is that I won't be able to contribute, and that's not good.

Stress, even good stress, is stress. Apparently I deal with this by riding while I think. I used to do really long rides in high school, meandering around various towns, not really training as much as meditating on the bike. Now, with some immediate and more important responsibilities (aka Junior and the Missus) I don't feel comfortable kitting up and taking off on a 3 hour night ride. I used to do that, starting as late as 11 PM or midnight, and doing a 2 or 3 hour ride. It was fine then but not now.

I'll have more on exactly what I'll be doing for work later, when things get finalized.

However at this point it's a bit nutty. One opportunity literally fell into my hands yesterday. Another is realistic. And another is a bit of a stretch.

So that's the work part of things.

For the training my emphasis recently is getting down my weight. Even in 2010, when I was pretty fit, I wasn't much lower than about 13% body fat. My target is to return to that weight - right now I'm about 10 lbs over, and it seems like I'm in the low-20s in terms of body fat.

One of the reasons I wanted to ride that night was to work off a 180 caloric overage for the day. I wondered if this is what being a pro is about, or maybe even a better amateur. Or maybe any amateur? I don't know. It's like a game, chasing the calorie count.

Based on MyFitnessPal I would stay pretty even at 2100 calories a day (I logged that many calories one day and it said that I'd weigh the same in 5 weeks). My budget is 1510 calories, so a net loss of about 600 calories daily. Although not exactly accurate I use the "3500 calories is a pound of fat" number for rough estimates. This means that a 600 calorie deficit daily works out to 4200 calories a week, or, very roughly, just over a pound of fat loss.

However I've been pretty aggressive with the burn rate, meaning exercise-related expenditures. On a given day where I ride I will end the day at a net loss to my goal, typically hitting a 400-900 calorie surplus, meaning I was that far under my 1510 target.

It means I netted, for the whole day, something like 1100 calories to a number as ridiculously low as 600 calories.

Yesterday was a bit excessive, at well over 1000 calories under. If the kJ work number is accurate (kJ is typically 95-120% of the number of calories burned) then I took in just over 400 calories for the day.

I took a day off the bike, mainly because I was so fatigued I passed out on the couch trying to play with Junior.

Tonight, the next day, I got on the trainer even though I was only about 30 calories over target. I wasn't hungry, I felt like I could ride a bit even after a very long day with Junior (he was my responsibility from 7:30 AM to 3:55 PM when he finally fell asleep).

After he fell asleep I headed down to the trainer.

And my ride just totally bombed.

I started out spinning a low gear, 100-110 rpm or so, for a good 15 minutes. Then my legs went out from under me. I struggled to hit an hour, then struggled to hit 1:30, then struggled to hit 1:45.

At 1:50 I decided it was enough. At this point I was so fatigued that I was barely turning the pedals, my heart rate was all of about 85 bpm, and riding the bike was just a waste of time.

It's just past midnight now and I'm looking at just under a 700 calorie surplus, meaning I took in 800 calories for the day. That's a solid 1300 calories short of my "maintenance" number of about 2100 calories. It's still very short of my 1510 budget which is a 600 calorie a day deficit.

And I'm not hungry.

Tonight I'd ridden, for the first time, in a size M jersey that even in 2011 (the year after I was light) was a bit snug on me. It's still a bit snug but it wasn't embarrassingly so. I also wore the matching size S shorts (normally I'm a size M). I need to go to the next notch on my belt.

So, for now, I'm making progress. I have another solid day in terms of diet under my belt.

I won't worry about training very hard for another month or maybe even two months, so I have some time to trim down my weight.

We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Training - Relative Power On My Trainer

Today I had a decent food day. I guess that's the "dieting bike racer" in me. It's strangely empowering to do this, although I have to admit that I haven't had motivation since 2009 to diet. And that time was the first time I ever really, truly dieted.


I got to 8 PM with something like 250 cal left of my 1510 cal budget, so that was good. Yesterday I ended the day at something like 100 cal over (so about 1610) then proceeded to eat 580 cal at night. That put me at a whopping 2300 cal for the day, literally the most I've eaten in a single day in, what, 26 or something days? November 17th, for what it's worth.

Today I knew I wanted to eat just a bit more and I had the chance to hop on the bike. Therefore I got to ride and eat a bit more.

On the ride I remembered a bike forums question where someone asked how much power it would take to go 88 rpm in a 53x17. He added that he rode that fast for 30 minutes and it made him work up "a good sweat". I'd guessed in the mid-300 watt range, definitely a really high wattage for anyone that doesn't race. Talk about sweating, right?

He later corrected it to a 53x19, which is still impressive. I took some pictures of the SRM in the 53x17 (just for kicks) and then a slew while in the 53x19. The trainer is pleasantly consistent, although I could feel if I was in the lower end of the rpm range (meaning I could be going 88 rpm and nudge the power a bit without making the computer say 89 rpm). Still, though, the pictures are worth something.

53x17@88rpm, 378w. Yikes.

53x19@88rpm, 288w. Still yikes for me.

53x19,@89rpm, 295w.

53x19@88rpm, 294w.

53x19@88rpm, 297w.

What's funny (or not depending on your point of view) is that these efforts to take the pictures really killed me. I spent a few minutes trying to take these pictures. Many of the deleted pictures were illegible for one reason or another, like the flash obscured the whole screen, no flash meant it was a blurry mess, or I was at the wrong rpm, whatever. My efforts in producing even the 280w power stuff was probably the reason why I climbed off short of my planned 2 hour ride. My legs just went empty after about 1:30 and I really couldn't justify twiddling along past 1:45.

The heart rates in the pictures are pretty low but it's because the efforts were anaerobic and my heart rate wasn't climbing relative to my effort - the heart rate lagged pretty hard. I looked down once, after uploading one or two of the pictures, and my heart rate was 112 bpm. During the pictures I felt asphyxiated, like I was suffocating.

Now I've rewarded myself with some food, 420 cal worth.

A side thought. I can handle less or no sugar in food. But to skip salt? No way. I've gotten my oatmeal down to no brown sugar, 1/4 cup raisins, and it's otherwise plain oatmeal. Coffee? Black now. But my snack right now was 150g of chicken (skinless, roasted), weighed on a scale, with 140 cal of green beans. If you check around you'll notice that's two cans of green beans. I sprinkle a nice bit of salt, some spices, and that's good enough for me.

And my blood pressure is fine at the moment. I just had a physical and they tagged me at 112/60 or something like that (and I was looking after a very active Junior during the physical so I wasn't just relaxing in peace and quiet). I still need to get my bloodwork done. It'll be interesting to see the numbers (hematocrit, hemoglobin, and cholesterol) as I haven't had a physical in something like three? years. On the positive side I think I was 14 pounds heavier when I went there last.

Of course I was 10 pounds heavier less than four weeks ago, so it's the last four weeks that have made a difference in my weight.

But whatever, it's all good.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Training - Unexpected Bonus

As I've mentioned in the past few posts, I've been dieting steadily for three weeks now. I've noticed that I usually have a couple-few "easy" days, where it's easy to stay at or under my goal, and then a day or two where it's really hard. This cycle repeats itself pretty consistently.

Today's been one of those hard days. I struggled all day after consuming a massive-to-me 1030 calories before noon. I'm ending the day a little above my recently-revised 1510 cal goal. I've been cold and getting massive head rushes when I stand up, so I'm definitely in an aggressive energy-depleted state.

This isn't the unexpected bonus that I allude to in the title though, and I want to mention a couple more things before I get to the unexpected bonus.

Two days ago I breezed through the day falling asleep perfectly satisfied with my 1365 calorie day. Yesterday, although I ate 1700 calories worth, I rode for almost two hours, burning off a good chunk of that. My powermeter told me I burned about 900 calories, so that's a huge net loss day since I definitely burned more than the 190 calories I went over my 1510 calorie goal.

My weight's been steadily declining. I started my diet in mid November weighing in at a hair under 179 lbs. This morning, for the second time in the last three weeks, I saw a low 169 lbs reading. I want to be at least another 10 pounds lower at 159 lbs. Based on my current progress it would take at least three weeks, although I expect my weight loss to taper so it may take four or five weeks.

If I could get another 5 or 10 pounds lower, hitting 155 lbs or lower, I'd be super psyched. That would be another three weeks minimum, and realistically it may not happen. I need four to six weeks of training to get to some kind of fitness and I know I'm going to lose much of my training time before the first races of the year.

In 2010, my (recent) banner year, I saw a couple readings at 149 lbs (meaning that was at the low range of my weight cycle if you will), I steadied at a weak but light 152 lbs before I started training, and I hit the season at 155 lbs or so and feeling as strong (or weak?) as normal. I stopped weighing myself regularly after I saw 155-158 lbs every time I stopped on the scale.

If I can get close to that I'll be totally psyched.

So what's the unexpected bonus?

My cycling legs are starting to come back.

See, to make my admittedly aggressive calorie goals, I've resorted to eating a bit more if I'm hungry, then getting on the bike to burn at least as many calories. If I go 200 calories over then I want to burn, as indicated on the powermeter, at least 400 calories.

(How do I get calories from my powermeter? By using kilojoules, which happen to be about the number of calories burned on a bike. Although a kJ is not a calorie, the human body's inefficiencies end up making it so. On a bike ride a kJ of work is equal to anywhere from .95 to about 1.2 calories. Reference stuff here. I figure that trying to use the actual conversion wouldn't be easy, and I'm probably in the "more efficient" side of things, meaning I'm probably using .95 calories per kJ of work. Therefore to make things totally clear I'd like to do twice as many kJ of work as my caloric overages. If I eat 200 cal more food, I want to burn 400kJ on the bike.)

At first, with a 1790 calorie daily goal, staying under my number wasn't very hard. I recalculated after I lost about 6 pounds, using a more aggressive set of variables. I ended up with a much too aggressive 1260 calorie daily goal. After two days of that ridiculousness I redid the numbers using a slightly less aggressive set of variables. This gave me 1510 calories per day. It's aggressive but manageable on the good days.

(The most important variable is goal loss per week. Right now I'm letting MyFitnessPal decide my caloric needs and I'm using a 1.5 lbs/week weight loss goal. The reality is that I'm losing almost twice that number. I'd be happy with 2 lbs/week, but when I used that goal MyFitnessPal told me 1260 cal/day. I revised my goal to 1.5 lbs/week and got 1510 cal. On the intake side I'm very strict about recording everything I eat. It seems to be working.)

On the less than good days I still want to hit about 1700 calories. This 200 calorie overage means I need to do about 400 kJ of work on the bike, and that's about an hour of riding.

What's happened is that with my aggressive caloric goals, I tend to go over regularly. I plan my food, entering the food (and related calories) before I eat them. Therefore when I'm still hungry at 6 PM I know what I am about to eat and I typically choose to eat food after checking with the Missus if it's okay for me to do a trainer ride.

Then I eat my calories and get on the bike.

At first my rides were as pathetic as pathetic can be. I struggled to turn over the pedals, and on one particularly bad ride I actually struggled to stay in the 90-100 watt range. It takes me almost an hour to do 400 kJ of work right now. In contrast I might do 600-700 kJ of work in an hour long criterium or 500 kJ in an hour of training.

Significantly, because of my aggressive calorie goals, I've resorted to riding the bike more than I expected.

Yesterday I had yet another caloric overage day. By early evening I was sitting at about 1400 calories, good if I stayed there, but I had some really strong hunger pangs. I decided to go for it, eat a bit (300 calories), and then get on the bike.

Incredibly I didn't feel horrible on the bike. I found myself holding 160-170 watts for long stretches of time (for me that's 5-10 minutes). I did ease to super low watts, like 90-100 watts, but the harder bits surprised me. With no recent training, with the low daily caloric intake, this really shocked me.

So that's the unexpected bonus - feeling okay on the bike.

I'm not strong for sure, definitely not strong, but better than "weak". Last night I kept going until I realized it was after my self-decided "get off the bike" time. I got in 1:55 on the bike and climbed off feeling fresh and (relatively) energetic.

Bonus? I at 200 calories over but did almost 900 kJ of work. Even using my 2x ratio I did well, and the reality is that I ended somewhere like 600 calories under my goal number for the day. That's a good sixth of a pound of fat worth of calories, give or take.

Back to today. I'm 100 cal over but I think that's all I can expect. I don't want to ride so I'll leave it as it is. Net net, for the last week I've made strong progress so it's all good.

Goal visualization. Me at 155-158 lbs at the end of 2010. In the picture I'm wearing 29" waist jeans. Right now I'm in 31" waist jeans, and I was wearing 33" last winter.

Interviewing Phil Keoghan at Interbike 2010.
Picture by Julie Kelly

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Training - Weight Loss Stuff

Back in 2009-2010 I embarked on a weight loss program that resulted in a March 2009 -> March 2010 weight loss of about 40 pounds. I dropped from about 190-200 lbs (between 2004 and 2009 if I hit 200 lbs I'd start thinking I "really need to ride a bit") to 155-158 lbs.

Forty pounds.

That's more than a completely full 20 pound LP tank for a grill.

It's the weight of two reasonably light road bikes.

It's 40 one pound packages of ground beef.

It's 20 packages of the two pound family pack of chicken parts.

It's a whole lotta weight.

The weight loss absolutely changed my racing.

At Bethel, at my new weight, on the non-aggressive laps, I often dragged the brakes to keep my speed in check. Instead of doing 400-800w to get up the hill, I was doing 300-500w, even with the brake dragging.

On the fast laps I could ride through the field and off the front.

My sustained power was still suspect, as that seems to be an overall genetic limitation of mine, but I had so much reserves, due to the low weight, that I seemed to have much more power.

(The reality is that with my weight loss my FTP dropped a solid 10%, my max sprint power dropped 200-300w, but the lighter weight more than made up for it. The only place I lost out was on descents - missing 40 pounds of mass really slowed me down on fast descents. I found myself frantically sprinting down hills trying to stay with riders I normally rocketed past on the same hill.)

After a solid season of racing I upgraded to Cat 2. I'd never been a 2 and it'd been a goal of mine for 25 years, so I took the opportunity and upgraded. One thing I didn't reveal at the time was that we'd decided to start a family. My thought was that I may never get the chance to upgrade again.

Then, in order to eliminate any temptation (I didn't want to distract myself from the family thing), I purposely gave myself zero goals for 2011. Without goals I had no motivation, and without motivation I didn't even do a lot of my JRA ("just riding along") rides.

2011 was less than successful in two ways. First, as a result of having zero goals I really had no fitness and therefore I had no real results. Second, the family never started per se, and my zero goal season ended up a "season pas", a season without. I downgraded back to Cat 3 sometime in 2011.

Of course Junior arrived in 2012 and then my priorities changed. I was glad that I took that Cat 2 upgrade because for a while, even now, training and racing enough to earn the upgrade again seemed highly unlikely, at least if I wanted to be a good dad and husband.

Fast forward to 2014 and I had gained back a good half of that 40 pound loss. I didn't train much for a couple years, doing in a month what most races do in a week. I prefer to spend time with Junior than on the bike so a nice Saturday afternoon means, to me, an hour or two at the playground, not an hour or two on the bike.

My results suffered accordingly. I could win field sprints, which is sort of normal, but in straight out Cat 3 races I really struggled just to finish races. When the field collectively dropped the hammer I was usually one of the first ones spit out the back.

Racing is fun, but getting shelled 4 or 5 minutes into a race isn't fun.

I don't foresee suddenly having a ton of time to train, but I can see myself losing weight. As a teammate so astutely pointed out, I don't need time to diet. I need time to train.

So, three weeks ago, I started on a diet sort of like the one I went on in Oct of 2009. It's calorie centric, focused on sacrificing everything to lose weight. My thought is that I can adjust my diet after, but I know I won't spend a ton of time researching and preparing foods. I am also trying to avoid diet foods, except one or two here and there (non-fat Greek yogurt for example). No artificial sweeteners, just judiciously picked foods.

And the weight started to come off.

My diet isn't complicated, and it's probably not ideal, but it works for me. I need the following from a diet:
1. Not much food prep. I prefer not to spend a lot of time preparing food. To me 5 minutes is a lot of time.
2. Easy to log foods, meaning I'm not eating 10 or 15 little things at a time. I prefer a meal to have three or four "things" that I log. I use MyFitnessPal to track food. I have a smartphone so I can log food even when we're out.
3. I need stuff that makes me feel relatively full.
4. Beyond a basic set of tastes I don't care what I eat.
5. I learned that I don't really need (or want) sugar.

When I first started the diet I remembered a few things.
1. The first few days really, really suck. I was literally shaking with hunger sometimes (bonking? maybe coming off of a sugar thing?)
2. Once I got past the first few days I could go a while while hungry and not mind.
3. I tend to be aggressive with calories for a few days (1000-1400 cal) then have a bad day (1800-1900 cal). This is okay since overall my caloric intake is much lower.
4. Not having sugar sugar, like in my coffee etc, really levels out my energy levels.

The first week of the diet sort of taught me what I forgot about dieting, it sort of set a new baseline for my body, and it readjusted my internal energy level.

I definitely noticed a solid drop in energy, which is only natural when my calorie intake got cut by a good 30-50%. My hands and feet were pretty consistently cold, but I didn't mind. I still warm up as soon as I get moving, so doing the slow trot-jog next to Junior for an hour is doable.

I'm best when I make a set of meals. I have two current "routines" - oatmeal or a chicken/rice thing. The oatmeal is really filling - a cup of oatmeal (uncooked), a quarter cup raisins, a tablespoon of almond slices, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Add a bunch of water, microwave, done. It takes me 10 minutes from start to finish, meaning until the bowl is clean in the sink. I usually have this once a day, sometimes twice. Sometimes I do 3/4 cup instead of a full cup, but I learned the hard way that I get hungry much earlier with the slightly smaller meal.

(And as an aside that exact one cup oatmeal thing fueled me today from 6:30 AM, which is when I finished the oatmeal, to 3:30 PM, when I got home from working an event. I had two little paper cups of black coffee during that time.)

The chicken is sort of similar. I cook the chicken in batches (last batch was 1.75 lbs of boneless and skinless chicken breast), I know about the serving size, and I add rice that I've cooked and divided into separate containers. It takes about 4 minutes to get something to eat and 2:30 of those 4 minutes is the microwave heating up the food. It's easy to log since I eat the same chicken/rice meal typically twice a day.

I'm like my dad in that I can eat the same food over and over again. At home I've had either the oatmeal or the chicken for most of my meals over the 2+ weeks we've been home. I totally don't mind. When we're out then I try to figure out good things, typically things that I understand/know, like 100g of chicken, etc. For Thanksgiving we went to my dad's and I carefully doled out, on a scale, 100g of turkey here and there.

I also have turned to black coffee. Those that know me know that I like my sugar with a little coffee and cream so it's a huge change. However, with my weight loss goal in mind, black coffee is perfectly acceptable. I drink less of it, fine, but it's no longer the calorie bomb I usually have. I also don't have the rapid up/down thing that comes with a couple teaspoons of sugar (used to be a couple tablespoons per mug).

How is the diet so far?

I started at 179 lbs, in mid-November (Nov 17 to be precise). I've been at 170 for two days so that's pretty consistent for my current weight. I typically drop, plateau, drop, plateau. My goal is to get under 160, and into the low/mid-150s if possible.

In terms of health at 179 I'm probably, realistically, at about 28-30% fat, meaning I'm in the obese range. My lean body weight is probably in the 127-130 pound range.

This means that at 170 I'm more like 25%. At 160 I should be about 20%. At 150 15%. 140 lbs would be 10%, which is about when I'd be pretty skinny. In 2010 I saw a few 149 lbs reading but I was too weak and ended up gaining a bit of weight.

There's an image here that has some good pictures illustrating the different levels of body fat in men. The images seem pretty close to what my weight/fat% I outlined above. I am between the 30% and 25% right now.

I think 150 lbs would be very hard to hit, 140 lbs pretty impossible in my current life, but 155 lbs should be okay. It's still a bit away but I'd like to get there.

Today? 1365 calories, realistically pretty accurate. 170.7 lbs this morning, up just a touch, but I had an off day yesterday calorie-wise, and I was "off cycle" if you will.

With the pressure of the event off I hope to have some more time to ride a bit to reduce the net calories for each day.

Some more inspirational pictures:

Not a winning sprint but still a good one, Bethel in 2010.
My sprint came around in the last few weeks of that Series.
Photo by Corey Lynn Tucker.

155 lbs and pulling the A race at the Rent, 2010.
Photo by RTC I think.

155 lbs and off the front at the Keith Berger Crit in East Hartford, 2010.
I don't remember who took this.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Training - "Not Enough"

Realistically I'm not going to get posts up at the end of the month so before it gets too late I wanted to go over what I did for the year in terms of cycling.

Basically the theme of the 2014 racing season was, for me, "Not Enough". I didn't train enough, even for me, and it showed when the races started getting harder.

Not quite the end of the year but close…
Full Strava here, with all my rides from May 2012 on Strava

My numbers started well in January. I was doing a lot of trainer work, all JRA type rides with no structure, but things started to come along. I was watching what I ate without "dieting", and I hit my lowest weight for the season at that time.

Then I got sick.

There's a gap in January where I couldn't get on the bike. There was also a bunch of things I had to work out with the Bethel Spring Series so I lost a bunch of time.

By February the Bethel Spring Series stuff was in full swing. Typically I ride just a few times in February, relying on a massive January base. This year I made a bit more time and rode a bit more.

March and April were Bethel. The weather was atrocious, the race really stressful, and I wasn't motivated at all. Normally I don't train much during Bethel due to the extreme fatigue of holding the race. This year I managed some hours, but they tapered off dramatically by the end of the Series. With most of the races I did ending in breaks, I managed to win a few field sprints, but not for any real places.

April meant catching up with stuff that I'd neglected for the past three months and May was a bit more of the same. I didn't do any yard work at all (we live in an association place so the basics get handled but any deluxe stuff we do). In the past years I've gone out and done some minor work and got really bad poison ivy. This year I didn't - the poison ivy was so bad I had goosebumps just walking into our back yard.

By June I was more on track and the CCAP Tuesday Night Races really motivated me. I was doing the B races, mainly with 4s and 5s, and took on a mentoring role. June and July were, for me, really good months. I wasn't strong but I could help others with their racing. My favorites were when Heavy D and Aaron won the B races. I also had a good finish at Nutmeg in the M45+ race, winning the field sprint.

In August the lack of hours caught up with me. After suffering mightily and winning a B race with Heavy D's help, I had a trio of DNFs in quick succession. With no races on the agenda I decided it wasn't worth it to try to train too much.

In prior years I brought my bike when we visited family but this year the bike stayed at home. This meant gaps in the next few months. Also, with Junior being 2 1/2 years old, he really likes playing outside. Therefore my "good weather time" turned into playground time, not riding time.

Finally, in November, with my weight approaching my 2009 crash weight (when I was definitely fat), something clicked. I started dieting the week before Thanksgiving. It's been going well for a little over two weeks. My goal is to continue on for at least the month of December, and if the weight is still coming off, to continue in January.

I did do a ride yesterday, sort of on a lark, and ended up pedaling for two hours. I didn't have much more in me, with my wattage dropping into the 80-90w range at the end of the ride, so that's about my limit right now.

And that's my year.

Goal for 2015 (picture courtesy RTC):

158 lbs, give or take.
I'm even wearing a vest.

From this year 2014, in a sprint where I'm sitting up:

175 lbs, give or take.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Life - Stuff or "Not Dead Yet"

So it's been forever since I've written a post, and honestly it's been hard to motivate to even finish one of the 190 or so draft posts I have.

Some of the last few have been clip type posts, where I post clips from the prior season. I have two more in the works, almost ready. One is on its 4th revision, the other is on its 5th. When they are 99% done I'll put them up. I say 99% because they're never 100% - after they go live I inevitably think, "Oh, I should have done xyz".

For now life is intruding a bit on stuff, and the blog is pretty low on the priority list. It illustrates pretty vividly how much time I had before, or, conversely, how much more important other stuff is compared to the blog.

Some of that "stuff" includes:

 - First, and most importantly, Junior is much more interactive and involved, with me, with his environment, other people, everything. Before he could play with cars for a while, or the train, or whatever. Now he enjoys interaction, typically with me (since I'm around). It might be anything from telling me about what happened at school or maybe something he heard or even just narrating what he's doing while he's doing it.

Taking a breather before getting in the car.
Picking Junior up from daycare can take 60-90 minutes as he plays all over before we leave.

He also seems to need about 45-60+ minutes of running (or other exercise) a day. When it's cold it means shopping trips take an extra hour or so as we run around either in bigger stores or out on sidewalks and such. When it's warm it means heading over to the playground, where he can easily burn through an hour of time, and more recently, until it got cold, he could do two hours before asking to go home.

One incident in particular helped me realize just how my priorities have changed. A couple weeks ago the Missus heard the forecast on a Saturday or Sunday that it would get warm out. She typically announces unusual weather like this and typically I'll ask back, "Do you mind if I go for a ride?"

Of course you know what happened instead.

Missus: "It's going to be 50 today!"
Me: "Junior, let's go to the playground!"
Junior, gleefully: "Playground!"

And we went to the playground.

 - Been looking for a job. Junior is getting older, I'm running out of savings, and it's about time to start working again. I'm looking to leverage my skills and passion in cycling but there's a cusp I need to reach to be able to put Junior in daycare full time as well as do things like cover health insurance.

 - Been working on a couple event services jobs. One is short term, ending Dec 7th, the other is longer term, scheduled for June 6th. I work for other people in both of these.

During the process I confirmed event work next year on June 7th (White Plains) as well as August something (Tokeneke).

Fortunately the company Carpe Diem Racing made money this year, barely, after taking a bath at Bethel once again. The extra event service gigs I did after Bethel ended up making up the difference because they're basically all profit. Those gigs have no real expenses so I'm paid for my time and knowledge. Bethel costs a lot of money to run (well over $40k for 2014 - I figure at some point I'll do a post on some of the broad numbers) and doesn't take as much money in as it spends.

With Bethel going by the wayside, due to the venue loss (traffic and such, not anything to do with racer misbehaviors), I hope to reduce overall gross numbers but increase profit. I hope that'll be straightforward - with a huge negative out of the way it makes sense that profit will go up.

 - My free times during the week are Tuesday and Thursday mornings while Junior is at daycare, meaning times where I don't have to keep an eye out on Junior. It's times like these that I can put the snow tires on the cars, do a real trainer ride, or work on projects and such. Unfortunately recently they've been taken with various time-sensitive things, leaving me with little/no time to do longer term stuff.

Daycare, I should mention, has been really good for Junior. He learns stuff there, he interacts with other kids, and we can reinforce that stuff when he's back at home. The opposite works too, where we'll teach him stuff and he gets reinforcement at school. For example we let him learn how to do puzzles, then at school the staff reported that he happily plays with puzzles which frustrate most of the other kids. So it's good overall and we're really happy with the balance of playing and learning at the daycare.

 - Been working on the Spring Series, a Bethel race, and one, two, or three other venues.

 - Trying to winterize the house. Things keep popping up, we get a reprieve with another warm day or two, but each time something seems to pop up. This last warm spell I couldn't use, and there's still some stuff to do. I did get some trailer stuff done, and used it to move some big equipment stuff to/from our storage unit.

Trailer at the bottom of the driveway.
I need a weight distribution / sway control unit for the hitch.

So that's the external stuff.

As far as stuff for me goes, as far as cycling goes, my big thing this year is to lose weight and get back to 2010 weight. I've never returned to that weight, gaining steadily each year, and I really notice the additional mass. It's interesting to relive and remember how riding felt when I was 25 pounds lighter (than I was 3 weeks ago).

At Bethel, on the non-aggressive laps, I was climbing the hill while lightly dragging my brakes. I didn't want people to think I was doping, if you can believe that, and I needed so much less power to climb the hill (300-400w versus 600-800w) that I had the luxury to do that.

Even in the flat races I could accelerate much easier out of the corners. Yes, my legs got heavy when the lactic acid built up, but until then I felt like my whole body was made out of super light styrofoam or something.

Therefore I want to lose weight, get back to a lean me, and then do whatever training I can do with whatever my schedule might be at the time. I started about 2 weeks ago, maintaining sub-1800 cal daily intake even over Thanksgiving. I found that I could get by with about 1450 cal a day, with three seemingly big meals a day. I was pretty proud of myself and I'd carefully eat a bit extra in the evening to make up the deficit.

Recently, when I recalculated my diet numbers using my new, lower weight, I got a much lower 1260 cal/day recommendation. That was a shock but I'll see if I can do it. I'm looking at 8 more weeks of loss, give or take, if I can manage things.

So that's my violin story. You can get your world's smallest violin and play it a bit for me. I'll wait.


Okay, that's it.

In the meantime I still have those two clips to upload. I'll have event announcements. And I might even have some thoughts on the racing and tactics I observed over the last summer, with some tips and hints and such.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fun - Trivia Monday

CyclingRevealed's Trivia Monday returns for this winter. It's the second week now but if you didn't take the first quiz you can still take it (I just did). Just don't peek. No Googling either.

(Picture is from the site and links to it)

It's all here.

As I've done the quizzes for a few years now I categorize the questions into four parts.
1. Stuff I don't know at all, generally before I started racing, i.e. 1983 or so.
2. Stuff I know reasonably well, typically from the era where there was actually cycling news available in magazines and papers (like Velonews). When I could get my hands on cycling news I devoured it. Typically 1983 (the start of Winning Magazine) until about 1998, when the racing got a bit much for me, meaning the doping was out of control.
3. Stuff that I really don't know since I purposely didn't follow racing. It was to the point where I didn't recognize the USPS team when I finally saw a picture of the Tour because they were in gray kits. 1999 - 2005 or so.
4. The current era, meaning the last ten years or so. 2005 until now. I sort of know some stuff, don't know a lot of stuff. The first Tour I really followed in this era was 2006.

Most of the questions seem to draw from numbers 2 and 3. Sometimes there are a bunch of questions from 1 and I basically get them all wrong.

There are some filled in spots of knowledge because I bought DVDs on particular races. Typically they're the classics like Ghent or Flanders.

Anyway it's a neat distraction from not reading about the races and such, and it's free.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Helmet Cam - Aug 12, 2014 CCAP Tuesday Night Race, Bs

Action moment from the race

This is the last in the trio of the CCAP Tuesday Night Race clips I've worked on. I don't think there are any compelling stories in the other weeks of racing but if someone thinks there might be then let me know.

The full race report is here but the basic bit is that the team, and by "the team" I mean Heavy D, decided that it would be my night on August 12th. He set things up for me and handed me a field sprint on a platter.

However, due to the miserable forecast, I thought that the race would be canceled. Therefore when I dropped off a car for service I made a number of really hard efforts, thinking that this ride back home might be my ride for the day.

Of course the race didn't get canceled, even if we got rained on just a touch.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Helmet Cam - July 29, 2014, CCAP Tuesday Night Race Bs

This is the second in a series of three helmet cam clips I've made from the 2014 CCAP Tuesday Night Races. The original race took place July 29, 2014 with my report here.

Another example of tactics and teamwork. I try to offer some advice to others as well.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Helmet Cam - June 24th CCAP Tuesday Night Race, Bs, Heavy D Wins

So as promised here's one of the clips I finished in the last month or so. I uploaded this last night without issues so phew, my post yesterday was a lie.

This is the first in a series of three clips. They sort of fit together although it's not necessarily totally interlocked like, say, the Lord of The Rings trilogy.

But it's sort of close, you know. In terms of production quality, length, special effects, and storyline.

Or not.

Anywho… For the first of the trilogy it's a B race at one of the CCAP Tuesday Night Races. I posted a "pictures + words" race report here.

The attack that won the race.

For the action in motion, check out the video below. Remember you can click on the YouTube logo to watch the clip in YouTube. Usually it's the better way to do it because you can resize it, unlike the tiny thing embedded in the blog.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life - YouTube Errors So No Clip Tomorrow

Last night I thought I'd be a nice guy and upload 4 of the 5 clips that are ready for release. I planned on releasing them one every few days, between posts that I've half written.

Today, while I was away from the house, the Missus texted me.

"The video has failed to process. x3"


3 of 4 videos failed to upload to Youtube last night, and since they need to be in order, I don't want to release the one that actually made it up there.

I'm going to upload one at a time, one per night. I didn't even review the 5th clip so I'll review that before I put it up.

Basically three go together and the other two belong together.

The set of three work well together, at least in my eyes. They definitely need to be in order and unfortunately the last one of the three is the only one that made it. I'll upload the first and second clip in that set.

Then I'll work on the two clip set. One clip is basically ready, although now that it didn't upload I've thought of changes I want to make to it. The other is only on its first version and hasn't been reviewed. Most of the clips are on their 3rd or 4th revision at this point.

Of course if anyone local has a nice wide connection to the internet (upload speeds, not download) the clips are 1 GB apiece, give or take, and you could, you know, watch them before they go live to everyone.

At home it's about 1000 minutes upload time for each clip, so about 15-16 hours, give or take.

Ugh. Not what I want to see.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Life - Still Interruptus

I promised a little while back to post some race reports and such but I still haven't had time to work on posts here.

I'm taking a break from things to write this but some of the stuff that's been happening in the background:

 - Junior got sick. We ended up in the ER when he hit over 105 deg F. He was okay but it was worrying for a while.
 - Of course I got sick after that. I was laid out for a good weekend plus, and that sort of put the brakes on a bunch of stuff.
 - We tried to get some post-season stuff done. All the stuff that normal people do on weekends we typically postpone until after the racing season. This includes some work around the house, car maintenance, stuff like that.
 -  Helped with registration for the club race, the Silk City Cross race. It went well but it's another few days/nights of time where I can't do much else.


And, of course, we have a much more interactive kid now. He hit 2 1/2 years old last month and he's talking, running, climbing, jumping, asking, wanting, refusing, potty training, everything. I keep thinking that, oh, "such and such stage" was a bit tough, but each stage seems to be tougher. Now I long for the days where I just feed him and then put him in his Pack N Play and let him nap for another hour or two.

Now the instant the house gets quiet I get worried. He's chewed the buttons off of an unused remote (which he was playing with as a phone). He shreds every piece of paper he can get his hands on. He likes peeling decals off of things so much he bends his nails backward trying to peel price tags off books and such.

And at the same time he wants Daddy (and Mommy). He loves going to the playground, to the slide, to climb, to the library for song and dance, he loves being able to watch construction vehicles, dump trucks, police cars, stuff like that. We visit the farm a few times a week to pick up his milk, we were visiting another farm to pick up our veggies, and those visits are 10% "getting food" and 90% "looking at things".

Monetizing Cycling Knowledge

One thing I'd like to do is to monetize my cycling knowledge. Specifically I'd like to monetize the stuff I put up on the web relating to cycling. For example the blog has always had some ads but I have no revenue from them, not that I know of anyway. However my YouTube clips weren't monetized and after some discussion with my brother I've gotten permission to do so. Therefore my clips are now monetized.

This has encouraged me to look at the clips I had sort of stalled in the queue. There were a number of them that I meant to finish but never got around to doing the work. Clips take me about 10 to 15 hours minimum and the long ones are literally weeks of multiple hours a day (I counted two clips to be in the 40-50 hour range).

So for the clips I have in the queue - two are from this year's Bethel, one is a lesson on not taking a break winning for granted, another is simply the last of the Bethels. Three are from the CCAP Tuesday Night Races. Two are of Expo working well as a team, with team tactic stuff, with different riders being the leader. One is where the favor gets returned and one Expo rider in particular works for me.

At any rate I have those clips and I've put something like 40-50 hours into them in the last few weeks.

Carpe Diem Racing

I've been looking at the Carpe Diem Racing site as well. I want to make it into an Event Services site, rather than just a Bethel Spring Series site. There's a rough draft out there, I have help with it, but it's still far from completion.

2015 Spring Series

One piece big news is that I'm looking for a venue for the Spring Series. That's obviously been taking some time/energy. I'll have posts up on the search etc later.


All this is because I need to bring some money into the household. With the Bethel Spring Series bleeding money left and right, I absolutely have to start working. I'm going to do a future post with some Bethel numbers in it. I've been told that I make money from Bethel. I have, in the past, but the reality is that the race costs a lot of money to hold and it hasn't generated enough revenue to come close to covering the expenses.

So it's been tough.

And it's been really really good.

I've been fortunate to see a lot of Junior's development, to have bonded so well with him. I read somewhere that 4 out of 10 kids don't develop a strong bond with their parents. They found that 40% of kids don't develop that bond with their parents. The breakdown? 25% of kids don't go to their parents when they need comforting because the parent ignores them, and 15% of kids actually avoid their parents because the parents actually cause distress.

The fact that Junior comes running to me after a race with his arms extended, or that his eyes light up and he can't scramble to the door quick enough when he hears the Missus returning home, those things mean a whole lot more than if I had a good race or if we have the living room picked up.

So it's been busy, it's been less cycling oriented (although I want to be better for 2015), and it's been good.

Junior laughing - Simsbury Farms Cross race, Oct 8th

Cozy and drowsy Junior with the Missus at the Simsbury Fly In

Friday, September 26, 2014

Life - Partial Posts Waiting For Completion

For anyone that reads the blog I've been occupied with other things in the last month. I still have three race reports to finish, news on Bethel, and some random thoughts. For now nothing's been finished so I have nothing to post.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Racing - August 12, 2014, CCAP Tuesday Night Race, Bs, VW Drop Off and Field Sprint

Ah, Tuesday.

For me Tuesday has come to mean Tuesday Night Races at the Rent. This year CCAP has been holding the races. The main effect for me is that I can do the B race, now a Cat 3-4-5 race, instead of doing the A race, now primarily a P-1-2 race (but 3s do enter it).

Tuesdays have also come to mean "Junior goes to daycare in the morning". He loves it now, with all sorts of new stimuli present, slightly older kids, and all sorts of fun stuff to do. I can drop him off somewhat early in the morning, leaving me to do errands.

This Tuesday I brought our Golf TDI in for its 30k service. It's a "free" service if you will (I know, nothing is free, but we don't pay for anything when it's done). We knew that we got the car in August three years ago after we found out that the Missus was carrying Junior. Therefore we needed to get the car in sometime this month so we would get in under the "36k / 3 year" window for service.

I brought my bike and my computer so that I could either hang out and type away on the computer (if the service would take an hour or less) or so that I could ride home (longer than an hour service). When they told me that the service alone would take 90 minutes, plus two minor things I asked them to check, I kitted up and rode out.

First Ride

No gloves. One handed.

I realized I forgot my gloves. I'd washed them but I think they ended up in some shirt or something. At any rate they weren't in my helmet, not in my electronic stuff (SRM, phone), so whatever, I could still ride so I rode. I told myself I had to find them when I got back home.

I happened to be riding one handed when I looked down - I think I was checking back or seeing if my key was in my pocket or something. Anyway in normal situations the most stable one handed position is to hold the bars near the stem. This is because you exert less force on the bars, allowing the bike to track naturally on its own. It's safer in general. The only time this isn't the case is if there is extraordinary force on the front wheel, like you're in mud, or if you're carrying something that might get caught in the front wheel like a jacket or a gallon of milk.

1:28 track stand.

I did a track stand as usual at the light. The only thing was this was a big intersection with a lot of different lanes taking turns. The trackstand ended up being a minute 28 seconds long. I thought about putting a foot down a few times and each time I thought, "Oh, it'll be green soon." That went on for 88 seconds.

First truck, sort of.

Tuesday's races get canceled if it rains. The races are about fun and learning in a safe environment. It's not really ideal when it's raining so the consensus has been to cancel if it rains. That's all good but it makes for some anxious moments when the forecast doesn't cooperate.

This Tuesday it was supposed to start raining, but it was hard to tell exactly when it would start raining hard enough to cancel the race. I started feeling drops of water riding back from the dealer so I figured the race would get called. This meant that this would be my only ride of the day.

I followed the first truck, above, at a distance. I held a high, steady effort, starting with a peak 900w jump, the draft significant enough even 80-100 feet back. When the truck stopped at a light and started up again I was too gassed to go with it, even with the truck's plodding acceleration. When I drove to the dealer I shifted into second gear after the dump truck in front of me was already in 4th gear, so they accelerate a bit slowly when loaded.

My teammate Aaron pointed something out to me last week - if I'd been training a bit more I could have pulled and then gotten back into the race. Instead I got shelled. Here I realized the same thing - if I'd been training I could have jumped with the truck a second time.

Second truck.

A second truck passed me and I jumped on again. This was a bit harder, I hit 1000w, and I was already a bit gassed so I needed to stay closer. I tried not to draft "behind" but instead "to the side". It helps even being to the side and I really didn't want to get into any trouble.

Third truck.

The third truck couldn't pull away from me - he passed me as we got into town. Therefore we did the polite, "You first" "No, you first" "No, you first" while he got up to speed. I let him take the lead and followed, trying to stay to the side again. 1100w jump to get going and I lost him when I slowed for a red light that turned green as soon as I backed away from the truck.

Between Rides

I was so tired that afternoon that I struggled to handle Junior. In addition he didn't take his normal 2-2.5 hour nap - he woke up after 30 minutes and that was that. I kept waiting for him to fall back asleep but he was having none of it. When he's tired he's cranky (wait, who am I talking about?) and it made it hard for me to do anything. Finally I had to put him in his bed, as fussy as he was, and tell him that "Daddy really needs to get some things done to get ready to go see bikes."

Junior sat in his bed and quietly read his Cars books.

Normally we try to leave at 4:50 or 4:55 PM. The drive, through rush hour traffic, can be tough, and we sometimes arrive at the course almost an hour later. This leaves me a few minutes to get ready and line up and although I can do it I prefer 15 minutes to get to the line, not 3.

With my distractions and absolute fatigue I hadn't gotten totally packed. With the Missus helping we finally got going at about 5:15. I thought we might even miss the race, but the traffic gods seemed to smile on us as it seemed everyone was on vacation. We even said to each other that the traffic seemed awfully sparse. We got to the race in record time, meaning we barely had to wait in bumper to bumper traffic.

Of course I could feel a rain drop or two on my arms as I got ready.

Normally I'd race for my Cat 4 teammates but, believe it or not, the ones at the race had upgraded to Cat 3 by now. Therefore we were all Cat 3s (it's just that I was a Cat 3 a couple decades longer) and we didn't have a Cat 4 to work for. Heavy D pointed at me and told me, "Dude, tonight you're going to win. We're working for you."

He has a way of saying things such that you don't argue.

I didn't argue.

On to the race!

Race (aka Second Ride)

Start of the race. Heavy D is #959.
Note threatening cloud patterns.

When a race gets called for weather the officials will just ring the bell to end the race in a lap, if they have the time. Earlier this year they had to actually just stop it, the rain just dumped on us in less than a minute. However, with the rain drops falling sporadically I hoped that we'd get at least a bell when they called the race.

If I were to do well I'd have to race at the front.

I'd done this before, in the A race, a long time ago (2010?). We started off, it started to rain, I pushed every lap like it was the last lap, we got the bell a lap or two later, I led out the sprint, and I won. It's the only A race I ever won and I felt like (and still feel like) it wasn't a true win. Part of it were the numbers - in that sprint I barely broke 900w when I jumped and my sprint was something like 800w average. It wasn't a strong sprint per se but I jumped as early as I could because I knew that the others would be distracted by the wet roads and the general unpleasantness of racing in the rain. At any rate I was hoping that if it actually started to rain I could do something similar.

With the wind pretty strong and steady this meant doing a lot of work to stay up front. A bunch of the riders were interested in blowing apart the field so attacks went as soon as the two neutral laps ended. With a blown apart field it makes it easier for those up front to win if the race suddenly gets shortened to "one lap to go".

Guy in green.

I don't know who the guy in green was but he impressed me with his pack riding skills and relative fitness. I say relative because he didn't go and lap us six times (that would be crazy impressive) but he could do everything he needed to in the race. I point him out because I noticed his riding in the first lap or three.

Heavy D chasing.

Heavy D and Nick, my two Cat 3 teammates in the race, did a lot of work to bring back breaks. I am definitely not a break type of person, else the blog name would have been something other than "sprinter of the house" or "house sprinter". Heavy D and Nick, even without decades of experience racing, figured that out pretty quickly when they first raced with me. Therefore they set about keeping the field together.

The whole time I was thinking, "Okay, we might get the bell in two laps, better stay up here."

Drop of rain on the lens.
Someone off the front.

A couple times the pace eased as someone went. In the picture above someone is going off the front, it might have been Heavy D chasing someone. The important bit is the rain drop though - it was like Damocle's sword hanging over our heads.

Gap opening up.

Heavy D could only respond to so many attacks and eventually a group went clear. Fortunately for me it wasn't just me going for the win, other riders wanted to do well also. CCAP's Juniors were super active in the race, pulling like mad. A Bicycle Depot racer, JC, in his first crit, also took massive pulls, following the thought that "If I'm at the front then I probably won't crash".

Gap closed.

Between the Juniors and a couple older-than-18 racers one of the more threatening groups came back to the fold.

Attack on the left. JC to the right.

I moved up a bit too far when the pace eased, sitting in the wind to the right, when someone went up the left side. It was a big attack and I couldn't follow. I was gassed from following moves and couldn't muster up the energy to do a jump into the wind. Note the Bike Depot rider JC riding point.

Splintering front.
Guy in green finally brought it together.

More riders went and the whole idea of keeping it together started to fade a bit. I wasn't sure where Heavy D or Nick were but the race started getting out of reach for me. I certainly didn't have the gas to get going and it seemed like a lot of the field's strength were riding at or off the front. Although some riders came back one guy stayed out there, looking pretty strong.

Then Heavy D rolled up to me.

Heavy D in the house.

He pulled for a massive few laps, keeping the break in reign, a huge steady effort, just trying to keep the game alive for me. To put things in perspective I put in one of the hardest 10 minute efforts I've put down while in this race, while sitting in behind Heavy D. He was realistically putting down an additional 150-200 watts which is crazy.

I had to remember that he lapped the field solo and I was actually chasing once he got clear of the field.

He's strong.

He couldn't quite catch the break but he kept him within 50-100 meters, so 8-15 seconds, give or take. A big effort would close that but for now his massive multi-lap pull kept the sprint in play.

Too gassed to follow a followable move.

Unfortunately I was too far up so I was eating a lot of wind even sitting behind Heavy D. When a move went up the right - and it wasn't super hard, it was more like a hard surge - I couldn't respond.

Heavy D looked at them, looked at me, and got himself going again. You could see the thoughts running though his head.

"Dude, that's the move, go. Yo! That's the move! Go. Go? Can you go? Aw, dang it, now I gotta pull again."

Heavy D dragged me around another lap or so, brought me up to the group, and finally pulled off to seek shelter.

Left side attack.

The last attack of the race went just before the lap cards popped up at 5 to go. A solo move went, I was actually on his wheel, but I was so cooked I chose not to go with him. I eased and slotted in near the front while the other guy took off.

He got surprisingly far off the front, holding about 15 or even 20 seconds for a bit.

Heavy D to the rescue.

Heavy D, watching from the back of the group (he was helping some of the Juniors and newer riders back there), realized that I needed him one more time. He went to the front, yelling at me to stay put, and started hammering again. I stayed further back, for more shelter, and watched him do his stuff. In this mano-a-mano pursuit he seemed to be stronger but it was touch and go for a few laps. Heavy D closed the gap a bit but before he could close it completely he finally blew and pulled off.

Three Juniors - Tom, Nick, and one other CCAP rider, along with the Bike Depot rider JC (remember he was in his first ever crit) and a Cycling Concepts rider, all took turns pulling hard. This kept the solo rider in check.

Finally, with about 2 to go, the gap stood at only a few seconds and the break rider sat up.

Bell lap.

At the bell another Junior, Jon, went rocketing up the road. ERRACE, the blue/red/yellow team, tried to get a leadout going, while a few of us waited just behind.

Turn One, last lap. Guy in green was up here.

I'd spent so much time nervous about the race getting called in a lap or two that I spent most of the race near the front. Therefore I didn't have to do anything to move up - I was already basically in place.

Turn Two, last lap.

At Turn Two it started to fragment. Someone made a big move, countered by two others.

Turn Three, last lap.

At the last turn, Turn Three, I was sitting fourth wheel but it wasn't tight at all. There were little gaps and guys were choosing their own lines. I was hoping that the guy in green didn't have a monster sprint because the gap behind him would spell the end of my race if he did.

Just about to jump. The first two riders just jumped in this picture.

I could have sworn I jumped through a gap but the image is pretty clear - there was no gap since there was no left side rider. Yes, there was a rider to my left, but he was clear of me and slightly behind my cranks.

I jumped hard, aiming to go through the gap to the left of the lead two riders. Big enough gap and no one in the way.

After a few seconds I checked my six (meaning behind me) by looking down.

No one on my wheel.

Check my six.

I went for a bit, about 10 seconds, checking a couple times, and decided to do a broader check. I eased and looked back, right and left.

No one was on my wheel.

I soft pedaled to the line, another 11 seconds.

No one passed me.

175 bpm, after the line.

Sprints happen so quickly that your heart rate climbs for a bit after the sprint. I'd peak at 178 bpm before my heart rate started to drop.

I apologized to the official for sprinting. I'd told her at the beginning of the Series that I wouldn't go for wins in the B race - it didn't seem fair - but she smiled and said that it was okay, it was fun to watch. Plus, as I realized later, my Cat 4 teammates in the race had upgraded to Cat 3, so we were all 3s.

I figured that it some way it wouldn't hurt to actually race so as to "legitimize" any advice I might have given out. For those who keep track of numbers I averaged about 170 watts for the race. I did a jump at 1185w, sprinted for 10 seconds averaging 964w, and did about 15 efforts that broke 600w (three of those were 1000w, 1100w, and the final 1185w jump).

After the race I hung out with Junior. He came running to me, arms extended - how could I not hang out with him? I managed to change, ate a burger and a hot dog (courtesy of ERRACE's BBQ night), and fiddled with an Expo Junior's bike (Jack). It needed a pretty aggressive derailleur adjustment (it got tweaked earlier that night). It was the first time I'd ridden a bike other than mine in a long, long time. SRAM shifters, even. I admit I rode it a couple times without a helmet until finally a light scolding and an offered helmet made me realize that, yeah, I need to set an example.

I'd forgotten my camera so no pictures from me.

With Jack's bike much better, with Junior starting to melt down (remember, he only napped half an hour during the day), we had to get going.

Pin job.

Although the day had started pretty poorly it all got better from the moment we all climbed into the car to head out to the race. I commented to the Missus when we were got home how lucky I am for what I have around me. She's very understanding, even when I'm stressed. Junior is also really understanding, he really, really wants to be good. He knows when I'm serious and he's good about being good when I'm serious about it (and I don't pull that very often, else it's no longer a "serious" thing).