Friday, July 30, 2010
Well, all of the long hours of training and the mental preparation culminated into my target ride of the season yesterday, the Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day. 154 miles with 10,300+ feet of elevation gained - a real all-day slugfest. Rolling hills almost all day with 2 big
climbs (9 and 12 miles with 5-8% grade). It was awesome.
The greatest part of arguably what was the biggest ride of my life is what made this so special. The training up to it was fun and challenging, but in the end wasn't the most rewarding part. The company was great, but not the focal point. The conquering of the mountain passes themselves was very trying and very rewarding, but not the most memorable part of the ride. The most impressive part of the ride itself was something that I didn't expect to be even one half as grand as it was: the scenery.
Don't get me wrong, I know how gorgeous Rainier is (it's only haunted my dreams since I was 14), and I knew going into this that there was some pretty country up here in the PacNW, but after the scale of Colorado this winter I just wasn't expecting to be floored the way I was. Much of the ride was as expected, but the 50ish miles inside the park were just unbelievable. The views coupled with the route itself and the perfect (I'm serious, it couldn't have been better) weather made that stretch the most stunning ride I've been on since some of the training rides back in Summit Co., CO this spring.
The pictures do NO justice, but they're attached anyway. I'm looking forward to seeing all sorts of ridiculous sights this fall during the TYB B2B tour (www.takeyourbike.org - shameless plug), then posting photos on the TYB blog (www.officialtakeyourbike.blogspot.com - shameless plug #2).
Of all the things that I'd have thought would be fun a few years ago, much less a good idea, this wouldn't have been it. It's great how time changes things.
The approximate route is linked below, with a flyby, although the guy that made the route took some shortcuts with his mapping:
I won't go into all of the little subplot stories of the ride (you'll have to come see me in person for that sort of thing, and I invite any one of you to come hang out for a bit with me somewhere in the world), but my favorite of the day is as follows:
I was flying up the first of the two big hills at a fairly ludicrous speed (the kind that screams "I don't have any desire to be able to walk tomorrow") and passed a professionally-kitted-out woman on a very expensive triathlon bike. As I did, she exclaimed "It's still a long way to go - don't kill yourself this early!". I was focused on the climb, and just kept hammering. About a half mile ahead I stopped to take one of the attached photos, and she passed me. A minute or so later I caught her again, and she again spoke up.
"Don't go anaerobic this early in the day - you'll be in the hurt locker later. I know it's unsolicited advice, but I'm a personal trainer."
Me:"Thanks for looking out. I appreciate your input. I'm a personal trainer as well, and I agree with you. But I'm actually still below LT, so I'm okay."
Then I dropped her. All sorts of fun.
I saw her at a rest stop later in the ride and we talked for a bit - she was a really nice woman who is actually a ten time Ironman veteran, so she is definitely a stronger athlete than I am at this point. The difference in our climbs was that I was trying to kill myself on my "A" target ride of the year, and she was in the middle of a training ride. We're both doing an event together next year, so I'll look forward to seeing how badly she crushes me then...
I signed up for two triathlons last week: the Wenatchee sprint tri this August and the 2011 Coeur D'Alene Ironman. Yes, I'm an idiot. But this needs to happen. I need to prove to my body that is in fact a Formula 1 race car, and that it can do whatever I want it to because I'm 24 and I know how to train for this sort of thing. And because my Dad never ran a full IM.
(Note to my 18 year-old self: of all the things that could never, ever, in-a-million-years happen, out-triathlonning *made-up word* your Dad is one of them)
Sunday, July 25, 2010
So I suppose that I've ascended to "Webelos" territory in the blogosphere, having posted 100 times on this page. Regardless of whether this is actually the case, I'm overjoyed to have had the opportunity to use the word "Webelos" in a sentence. If you don't understand the reference, take the time to Wikipedia "Boy Scouts", "American childhood", or "obscure cultural reference".
Life is as busy as I can remember as of late, and time to write (both music and here in the blog) is becoming harder and harder to come by. I'm glad to have found the time today to do a little of both.
This week has brought a lot of introspection to the forefront, and I've spent a lot of time examining what motivates me. I feel as though I'm chasing something, but I can't put my finger on it. Fame and fortune don't have much appeal to me; I think I'm too much of an idealist to settle for anything that material. That being said, I am constantly intrigued by the contrast my dedication to achieve and my contentment with the present. I'm thrilled to be doing anything and everything with most anyone, and I relish the opportunity to have full conversations with complete strangers - yet my friends and family mean the world to me. Despite this love of the present and the smallest (probably not the right word, but it's the first that comes to mind) of experiences, I have many, many fairly ludicrous ambitions, and put much of my time, energy, and resources toward making these reality. A new friend helped me reconcile this in a way - she pointed out that it may be that my ambitions and my grand dreams allow me to enjoy the infrastructure of otherwise trivial experiences that make up daily life. Having a goal to work toward, a dream to chase down - this opens my mind to fully appreciate the simple luxuries of daily life. I feel that living in an urban setting has compounded this, as I am constantly surrounded with interesting sights and people, many of whom are chasing equally ludicrous ambitions. I firmly believe that aspirations make us greater than we can otherwise be.
All of this may seem a bit over the top, but this is actually what occupies my mind on a daily basis. Seriously. It's gotta go somewhere.
I went to my first ever track cycling race last night, and it was a blast. I rode there and back with a bunch of new friends, which was even better. I'm firmly convinced that bicycles are the coolest things in the world, and you'll be hard pressed to prove otherwise. If you want to try, email me at email@example.com with your argument.
Women's cycling races are incredibly enjoyable to watch. It's like going to going to the beach and admiring the female form, but all of those females can own you on the bike. And that's something special.
The biggest ride of my season is coming up Thursday (well, other than that ride). RAMROD - 154 miles with 10,000+ feet of climbing. Ouch. Say a prayer for my legs. And my sanity.
We've got wristbands in at takeyourbike.org, and shirts and spoke cards are on their way. Buy some TYB swag and help support the Border2Border bicycle tour. Email any order inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Currently listnening to: Melody Gardot
Currently reading: Nutrition for Serious Athletes
Monday, July 19, 2010
Above: The results, the day's ride evidence, and my groceries.
This weekend was a blast, an I couldn't be happier with the results of this year's STP. No crashes for myself or my friends, only one flat (although flatting 170 miles into your bike ride is incredibly deflating), and a successful completion of my goal time (actually, I crushed my goal time).
Big thanks to Paul, Heather, and Craig for inviting me to ride with them - it was a blast. Unfortunately our paces started to differ around the 70 mile mark, and I split off at the halfway point of the day. This was a good call in hindsight, as they had a great rest of their ride and I actually had not only a faster second 100 miles, but my personal best (4:31 ride time). My whole STP took 9 hours and 27 minutes, with the 200 mile mark coming at 9:17 (my goal was a 9:30 double century, since the last 4 miles are through urban Portland and not really an accurate pace gauge). Sure, things could've been faster: I stopped for much longer than I'd prefer 4 different times, and I think that let me legs slow down a bit, but there was no other option. If I set out earlier than my "team" and hammered alone, they would inevitably work together to catch me and at that point I'd be exhausted and have no time advantage. Not worth the effort. So I stayed disciplined and just enjoyed our stops and my company. There was also a big 20+ mile section where we happened to be working with/around the dumbest, most ridiculous paceline I've ever been a part of. Usually I'm the least experienced group rider in the line, and I usually earn the "young and stupid" award for the day, but on this day I felt like an ex-pro. I stayed near the back for most of the line, mostly out of fear for what might happen if I got mixed up with the stop-start-speed up-brake action going on up front. It was like crit racing out of every intersection. Absolutely ridiculous. I'm sure I could've gone 5-10 minutes faster overall if we just had some logic for that hour or so. C'est la vie. Maybe next year I'll get in with a good team on the start line and we'll just try to get out front and stay away from all of that garbage for the day. We'll see.
Again, all things considered it was a blast. Riding bikes with 10,000 other people is very, very cool. And some of them weren't even on bikes. Among the STP entrants were a longboarder (yes, he kicked-pushed-coasted all the way from Seattle to Portland), people on a 3-seated bike, people on tricycles, people on ellipticals (yes: http://www.elliptigo.com/), and people on unicycles (see above photo - he did it in one day, like me. On a unicycle. Up and down hills. Think about that). Some of us went for record-setting personal best times; some of the riders just wanted to finish. Some just went to eat a whole bunch of Clif bars. Regardless, everyone had a blast. I'm very glad I had the chance to go on the world's biggest group ride this year.
I'm even more glad I got my One-Day-Rider shirt and necklace.
Next up: a quick recovery week, then RAMROD and the Lake Washington race next week. Shut up, legs, and do what I tell you.
Friday, July 16, 2010
I'd like to start a petition for an extra 60 minutes to be added to the day for blogging, so I can keep this thing up to date. For that matter, I'd like to petition 3 additional hours for sleep, and 17 additional minutes for eating ice cream. When I get the official draft finished, I'll post it here and we can start a movement. Civil rights caught on, and back in the 50s and 60s almost nobody of power was behind it. Everyone likes sleep and ice cream, so I like my odds.
My sincere apologies for not writing much in the last few weeks, but it was unavoidable. My days have been slam-packed with 12 hour workdays, near-continuous training, writing music, and attempts at a social life. I am now vividly aware of what is like to always be tired and hungry, which all serious endurance athletes are. It's an interesting feeling. I can always eat more, and I can always knock out for a full 8 hours of sleep at a second's notice. It's a fascinating situation to be living in.
To be honest with you, I am writing this now because I just spent time with a very skilled and active writer, and I realized that I've been a slacker about my own work. It's one of life's great pleasures to rediscover inspiration in all that you do, and to note just how someone's excellence in a completely unrelated field (not this case, but still) can motivate and inspire you to excel in your own. I feel fortunate to have met a creative mind, and I am reinvigorated about staying creative in my own work.
I've been cycling near-consistently over the last few weeks, and I've started to admire the art that it is. Perhaps watching more ProTour riding as of late and riding with more/new people has contributed to that, but I'm increasingly aware of the style that goes into riding a bike. And I'm not referring to those ultra-hip mustache bars you threw on your Velocity-rolling fixie. Every rider I've ridden with seriously, and every pro rider out there has a distinct style. Be it the way they pedal on hills or the way they conduct themselves off the bike, it's out there. I've even adopted some favorite riders:
1. Fabian Cancellara
2. Jens Voight
3. Ted King
Fabian is the coolest name out, and if I happen to ever spawn a child of my own I'm crossing fingers that it's a boy named Fabian. Jens Voight is everything that I love about cycling. He's a professional, he's an idiot, and he lives for climbing and pain. Ted King is a master of style off the bike, and a noteworthy writer himself.
I'm becoming increasingly (alarmingly) aware of a lot of things as of late, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Working for Gold's has provided me a tremendous amount of insight into the world of fitness, and I'm starting to be a bit compulsive about my fitness/nutrition. I left a work meeting the other day because I "needed" to eat some calories in a specific carbohydrate/protein ratio at that point in the day because I had plans to work out and ride a bit in a few hours and I needed to capitalize on my metabolic window and ensure that I had the necessary fuel to give it 100%. Is that obsessive? Probably. Weird? Yes. My reality? Also yes.
I'm also becoming more aware of differences in myself and others, and I may even go so far as to use the word "hyper-aware" here. I notice things so fully and so consistently now that it's almost tangible. I never considered myself all that "different", just more reckless perhaps. Or perhaps more inclined to buck trends for the sake of it. But I've realized that I have some fundamental differences in my perspective in relation to the majority of the people I know, and some of them are worth noting:
- I am absolutely, unequivocally devoted to the idea that "the juice is the squeeze". I don't understand why the majority of the world is working so hard at jobs they can't stand to earn money to put toward nothing in particular at all. I don't have much, but I have aspirations to see/do/live things, and if my lifestyle facilitates those things, I'm content. I don't need to "come out ahead" financially or egotistically, I just want to have that experience. Isn't working toward an experience worth that?
- I have a very unique physiology. I sleep less than a lot of my friends, exercise more than almost all of my friends, and have entirely non-sensical resistances to pain, cold, and complacency. I can explain away some of this to genetics, but the rest is a mystery to me. I still don't think I'm stronger or more motivated than most people, but I feel like I have a predisposition to will myself to be. Maybe I'm running from something; I don't know.
- I am a musician. I can't escape it. It's in my blood. For all of the other interests that I pursue, music is still at the heart of them all. I am constantly living my life in melodies, and I still absolutely love the artistic community that musicians compose.
I've got a lot of work to do on the TYB.org front, but things are shaping up. Our wristbands are in (check out www.takeyourbike.org under our Swag page), and you can email me to get yours today. They're $1, and all proceeds go to support the inaugural tour this fall (Border2Border - Canada to Mexico). I've got some sponsor solicitation work and some more detailed route-planning to do, and we're a long way from Sept. 12, but things are coming together.
I have the biggest rides of my life coming up in the form of STP (Seattle to Portland - tomorrow) and RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Ranier in One Day). Rest assured, there will be photos and some writing about each. The ridiculousness of both of these rides is starting to sink in, and I'm about as excited for these as I've ever been for anything.
I look forward to seeing some old friends this week, making some new ones, and eating a lot of food at Sweet Tomatoes in Portland with one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world after a 200+ mile bike ride.