Monday, June 28, 2010

A Bike Heavy Weekend

This weekend was one of the most bike-centric weekends of my life. I spent a total of 10 and a half hours on the bike, and my legs are feeling it. I'm starting to get an acute awareness of just what training for a successful ultramarathon season entails. Nobody's going to put those miles in for you, and the only way you're going to rack them up is by getting out there and putting in the time. I feel like I'm getting stronger though, and as I continue to develop a stronger awareness of training and recovery principles I feel as though I will continue to make strides. And hair is still helping out...

My Fabian Cancellara haircut is getting pretty vicious, and I'm still convinced that (Samson-esque) it is the source of my strength on the bike. If his flowing mane is a part of multiple classics wins in a single season and a World TT Championship, mine will get me around Mt. Ranier in good time. To clarify: I'm letting my hair grow out from the feauxhawk origins that were laid down in Crested Butte because Fabian Cancellara lets his mane fly on his way to victory. He's not using a motor, I can assure you of that, but his hair is definitely adding some wattage. I may edge things up soon - I'll be sure to document just how rad things get.

This past weekend I enjoyed two big rides: a (mostly) solo century around greater Seattle, and a fundraiser ride for the AIDS Alliance.

My century on Saturday started with a group ride, but unfortunately only one rider there had any interest in hammering at 20+, so after about 20 miles of rolling with the crew and trying in vain to push the pace I set out alone. My only counterpart interested in riding hard decided to stay with the group (he later emailed me and told all about how much he regretted that), so I was on my own. I set out to do some exploring, and I accomplished even more than I expected. I started my solo expedition on Mercer Island, a scenic part of greater Seattle that is accessible by bridge and by boat only. I have to say that the riding on Mercer Island is some of my favorite to date, and I can't wait to go back. The lush forests that frame the main road circumnavigating the island scream "Pacific Northwest", and the road itself is rife with undulating hills, switchbacks, and scenery. The whole loop is under 20 miles, so I made sure to enjoy it twice on this day. The full day took me all over Seattle, and let me tell you - 80 solo miles hurts, especially in hilly Seattle.

I'll be doing a big 130 mile ride this Saturday on Whidbey Island (hopefully actually with the group this time), and I can only hope to find such a fun experience and such tremendous views. I think the odds are good, though, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

My other ride this past weekend involved a stationary trainer and a gay pride festival, neither of which I'm normally very excited about. But this situation was different, as I was focused on professional goals (I work for a predominantly gay gym, and this festival was like fishing for clients in a kiddie pool with dynamite) and on my own philanthropic motivations. My gym is raising money for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, which seems to be a pretty upstanding organization to me. I'm all for finding cures and for helping support the ill, no matter the disease, and they seem to have some good infrastructure in place to do just that. So I hatched the plan that I would "ride for the cause" at the festival, setting up a stationary trainer and doing my part to raise awareness and donations. The benefits were two-fold - I was able to separate myself from other trainers and attract more prospective clients (and, unfortunately, suitors....), and I was able to get in a workout while working all day. I sold my manager on a "donate $1 and keep Chris riding for another 5 minutes!" pitch, and we pushed like crazy. I ended up riding for over 4 and half hours, and we raised a few hundred dollars for the cause. Not many days am I fortunate enough to do good while riding my bike, and I'm very honored to have been able to enjoy that opportunity this weekend.

My piece de resistance for the weekend, though, was my victory lap after Saturday's ride. I met my good friend Pat Allen for an omelet. Not just any omelet, mind you - the legendary Beth's Cafe 12-Egg Omelet. Yes, they put a dozen eggs in. Yes, the serve it over a tray of hasbrowns. Yes, I ordered extra hash browns. No, it wasn't hard to put down after that ride (seriously, not even a little), and yes, I plan on doing it again this summer. I also planning on attempting a solo 12-egg omelet, but I need to solve the logistics issues involved with preparing one at home. Anyone with information on how to prepare and flip and 12-egg omelet please email me at

I'll leave you with some words of wisdom:

After a particularly hard-fought victory in a bike race this season, ProTour rider Jens Voight was asked what he was feeling on the last climb of the day, when everyone was pushing well beyond their limits. His reply:

"Yes, my legs hurt very much. But I told them "Shut up, legs.", and I made it to the top."

I'm considering getting that as my epitaph. Shut up, legs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer in the PacNW

It may actually be summer in Seattle, although I don't want to commit to that just yet. Summers here are one of the country's best kept secrets, and a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the near-flawless weather (sunshine, 60-70 degrees, NO HUMIDITY) and the opportunities it presents to get outside. I'll be biking plenty, you can be sure of that.

Tomorrow holds another big training ride as I get ready for my single-day STP attempt and my crown jewel ride at RAMROD at the end of July. I feel good, and I feel like I'm getting to be where I wanted to be at this point of the year. Metrics and data are really cool when you apply them toward personal athletic performance - it's like treating your body like a race car. After I knock out those 120 miles tomorrow, I plan on going to Beth's Cafe on Green Lake and ordering a dozen egg omelet. I've heard rumors that it weighs over 6 pounds, so this could get interesting. There will be photos.

The TYB progress keeps on coming, and we'll be ordering our first bit of merchandise next week. Keep posted and I'll let you know what we'll be selling and how you can get yours. Rest assured it will be very, very cool.

I've enjoyed seeing all of my friends now that I'm back "home", but last night I had the opportunity to make some music with my friend Pat Allen, who happened to play in my first ever band waaaay back in high school. We only came up with one noteworthy idea, but the session was one of the coolest I've been a part of in a while. After a decade away from each other, it was very cool to see where we'd gone musically and just what we could come up with together.

Off to get some rest and prepare for the ride tomorrow - it's going to be good, and I plan on attacking like crazy and seeing just how hard I can get these old guys and girls to go (I'm the youngest in our group by a good 10 years) - not that age has anything to do with it, though. I'm pretty sure I know an old guy in Japan who can still hammer with the best of them.

Check out the near-complete TYB site!

Monday, June 21, 2010


So I just got a fully mobile physical address with Now I can travel at will and have the company scan/forward my mail as I see fit. And I can link my bank and insurance accounts to it and forget about having to change their billing and mailing addresses every time I relocate. Looks like I can travel at will now without having to change my address every six months... Stoked.

If you need to reach me, I can be found (never and always) at:

Chris Cloyd
2885 Sanford Ave SW #13856
Grandville, MI 49418

The 21st century is a very cool place, indeed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day

First and foremost, I'd like to take a second to wish a happy father's day to all of the fathers in my life - whether you're my own dad (there's just one of you), a father in my family (I'm fortunate to have a few good ones), or a father that I'm fortunate enough to know (there's a whole bunch of you), happy father's day. You all deserve all of the thanks in the world for your positive impact on my life, and I'm lucky to have you all in my life. Dad, I'm proud to be your son. The rest of you fathers, your children are lucky to have you in their lives.

I've enjoyed a very pleasant weekend despite the rain (I can't believe that I've had to bring out the trainer and ride indoors in JUNE due to rain.... yes, I know I'm living in Seattle, and yes, I appreciate those of you not here reminding me of that every time it rains), and I feel like I'm well rested for the first time in weeks. I'm also feeling inspired to start hitting the productivity trail hard again, for many reasons. I've been reminded by a few good friends of my strengths recently. I've seen the dedication in takes to succeed displayed by some great people in my life firsthand. I've been reminded by a good friend that the world isn't going to hand you achievement - you've got to go out and grab it. I hadn't lost sight of that, but perhaps I got a little comfortable. I'm a firm believer that your surrounding dictate your effectiveness and your goals, and I feel like being in Seattle (a place I love) with my good friends here may have contributed to a little slowing down on my part. That's a good thing in the "stop and smell the roses" sense, but there's a fine line to dance upon there, and it's paramount that I stay aware of that. Being in the most dire of circumstances or having the most scarce of resources has prompted some of the greatest accomplishments in our history, and I feel as though I have so much support around me. I'm not masochistic (although some of you have spent time on a bike or in the gym with me may disagree), but I feel as though the luxury of my life may be imposing a little complacency. I'm going to do some self-analyzing this week and see just what standards of living in my life are in fact luxuries, and see if I can't put myself in a position where productivity toward my real goals is more of a priority.

Goals. Goals and aspirations conjure up a great many thoughts in my mind, one of which has caused me to do a lot of introspective thinking lately. I love it here in Seattle, and I could easily set up shop for a bit. I catch myself thinking about this, and I have to ask: why is slowing down an option here? Perhaps it's the work I'm putting in at Gold's - it sometimes seems counterproductive to work so hard to earn clients when I know that I'm leaving in a matter of months. Perhaps it's the fact that I enjoy just being here - it's as though I've accomplished something just fighting my way back to where I've wanted to be for so many years. I'm not sure, but the thoughts are undeniable. It's an interesting situation.

But I've realized that it's my goals and aspirations that have brought me here, and my goals and aspirations to get back that make it rewarding. I cringe at the implications that this revelation has on my long-term life, but I've realized that for me those goals and aspirations are the destination. If you're into metaphors, "my juice is the squeeze". It may be more "fun" to spend a winter somewhere other than Lake Tahoe this year, or it may be the best winter of my life. But I have to go there and live that experience to ever have any idea. It may be "easier" to stay in Seattle and work on a client foundation for a few years, or biking from Canada to Mexico may be the most carefree and "easy" thing I've applied myself to in my entire life. I doubt that, but I'll only be able to tell you about it after I finish that Tecate in Tecate this fall. I don't know what the final outcomes of the decisions I've made for my life in the coming year will be, but I know that I won't regret taking my shot.

I may go down swinging, but last time I checked we've only got one at bat, and I'm not getting caught looking.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Catching Up

So I know it's been a little while since my last entry, and I apologize for that. But I've had some living to do, and it's taken up a lot of time. I haven't been this busy since I was living in VA (the "real world" obligations were few and far between while living in Crested Butte), and it's pretty exciting. Don't get me wrong - I like my free time just as much as the next guy, but when I get it I tend to invent things to do (train, write, etc) anyway, so I'd just as soon be busy. I'm settling into the new job at Gold's and starting to build a client list. I'm teaching multiple group exercise classes at Gold's and at Rain, and hoping to get more on the calendar soon. The TYB site is making strides, and we're starting to get into the exciting processes of sponsor outreach and ride organization. The fun is starting to happen.

I'd like to think that my life has been eventful in the last few weeks (if I'm not blogging, let's hope that big things are happening in the real world, right?), so here's the highlights:

I started playing kickball again, and in the first game of the season I slid into home running from second, tore up the plate (and my leg), and it counted for: nothing. Some fielding technicality... I'm of the opinion that if I'm bleeding, the run should count. Just a thought.

I set a personal best time of 4:37 for a 100 mile road race at Flying Wheels. What a fun ride. Lots of hills, hammering with a good line of about 6 guys, and some new friends. The season is getting into shape.

I volunteered for the Cascade Bike Club, and had a blast. Hanging out with a bunch of other bike geeks drinking craft beer and talking about bikes is a good time.

I've started training hard at Gold's, which is getting fun again. I'm working with some fun people, and it's only getting better. It's all sure to make for a good summer there. I've adopted to slogan "live the brand", which is attributed to my GM (his reply when I told him I was going to bed and waking up early instead of going out drinking..... with him).

Best story of the last 2 weeks: So I'm pretty enthusiastic about commuting by bike (to a fault, maybe), and despite the fact that it was pouring rain and I was fresh off of 4 and half hours of sleep I decided to ride to work last week at 5 AM (I teach a 6 AM spin class). So I'm sucking it up and hammering to work in the pouring rain, my righteous indignation keeping me optimistic (at least I wasn't in a car....). Of course about half there I get a flat. I find this so funny that it doesn't even bother me. Of course I would get a flat in the rain at 5 AM. When else could it possibly happen? 7 PM in the sun when I don't have anywhere to be? So I change the tube on the streetcorner and resume my trek to work with a little extra pep since I'm now behind schedule. Still raining. I get to the base of Olive Way (the biggest and last hill on my commute to work), and wouldn't you know it - my second flat of the day. My righteous optimism has given way to profanity and acute frustration, because that's just ridiculous. There's nobody else in the world who double flats on the way to work in the rain at 5 AM after less than 5 hours of sleep. It just doesn't happen. But it did, and I'm out of tubes. Still about a mile from work, and still in the rain. And now without a bike. I'm so livid at this point that I'm resolved to beat this karmic kick while I'm down. So I did the only logical thing (not the most logical thing, though, given that I was 5 minutes away from the start of my class) I could think of at the time - tie up the crippled bike on the streetcorner and sprint to work. In the rain. Up Olive Way. With a 30 lb backpack on. At 5:53 AM. Why not? It was like my own private triathlon - bike/sprint/spin. I ran harder than I have in a long time, and didn't even break stride as a got to the gym. I dropped my backpack in the lobby, and started shedding my helmet and jacket as I ran toward the group exercise room. I don't even think I slowed down to plug my iPod in. I got the music going, hopped onto my bike, and started spinning. At 6:01, I'm already covered in sweat, out of breath, and almost crosseyed after my uphill sprint to work. But I made it, and we had a killer class. You should've seen the looks on their faces when I ran into class.

Live the brand.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Crit Racing

Well, today was a big day for me - my first criterium bike race. And I got humbled. For the uninitiated:

criterium (noun): a very stupid race that appeals to cyclists for no known reason, where a pack of 75 or so riders goes in circles around a short course that takes about 90 seconds per lap at speeds at or approaching 30 mph, all the while everyone is redlining their HR and pretty much delusional, bumping into each other and causing crashes that commonly result in breaking $4000 bikes for prizes ranging from a box of Clif bars to a $300 check for the "big boys" winner.

I raced in the "little boys" division, and our winner got a bike pump.

These races, I discovered today, are not so much a measure of fitness (although you have to at least be fit enough to hang with the main group, or you get pulled off the course), but of racing tactics and recklessness/bullishness. You have to have a fighter's attitude to stay even close to the front, and you have to be willing to risk your health with pretty much every turn. This kind of racing doesn't play to my strengths as a rider, which makes the style all the more impressive to me. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the racers that do well, and I hope to improve as I ride more crit races in the future. What - you didn't expect me to just use "it's not my thing" as a copout, did you?

So, in summation, my lessons learned today:

- there are a LOT of better riders than me out there, and plenty of them live in the Seattle area
- drafting is smarter than trying to "outmuscle" teams of riders up a hill
- I have no idea what I'm doing when I'm riding in 4th place in a crit race, and in the few seconds I took thinking about this while up front today, I was passed by about 30 people. That's the kind of pace I'm talking about
- finishing a crit race is a victory for two reasons: a lot of people get pulled from the race after falling off the back of the main group, and just as many people end up meeting pavement and not finishing. It's a little ridiculous how good the odds are of getting involved in a crash
- cycling is way cooler than most sports
- watching a women's crit race is more enticing than reading SI's Swimsuit Issue anyday

And I'll leave it at that.