Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Being Held Accountable

So the last time I checked in, I filled you in about my new rules I was planning on living my life around. And like any significant change, I have to be held accountable or its easy to fall back to my old, unproductive ways.  So today, I am publicly updating the masses to hold myself accountable for the changes that have been implemented…

As for Rule #1, Ride the damned bike, I feel have done exceptionally well thus far.  Since the start of the new year, I have only taken 6 rest days from the bike. I’ve logged over 20 hours in the saddle and about 270 miles.  Unfortunately, most of the miles have been riding my trusty Cannondale R600 on the indoor trainer. Mack’s dad and grandmother have been less than dependable on taking her on the days that they are scheduled to, and with Amber going to school full time during the day and working nights and weekends, Baby sitting duty naturally falls on my shoulders. Mind you, I will never complain about getting to spend more time with her, it just proves to be very difficult to get outside on the bike. Lets just say I eagerly await 50 degree temps and pulling the baby trailer. But in the meantime, I am committed to this change and that means that I am on the trainer at least 60 % of the time.
Hate this view, but its one of the necessary evils to be ready to go for the Morgantown RR

Rule #2, Crosstrain. So far this is an area that is still slacking. But I have recently started doing upper body and core workouts . Because its been on such a limited basis, I personally consider this a failure thus far in my training season. And to this, I publicly make a promise to my teammates to step this area up. Crossfit anyone??

Rule # 3 is to Drop a lot of weight. And it has been slow and steady progress. I weighed in at the start of my offseason at 241 pounds. This morning I stepped on the scale and I am down 13 pounds.  I haven’t had to make a significant change to my diet yet, but I HAVE made a conscious effort to eat better foods and reduce my sugar intake. My pitfall is usually craving caffeine and since I can’t stand coffee, CocaCola has always been my go to beverage of choice.  I’ve given black and/or green tea a try but it just doesn’t seem to satisfy my thirst. But giving up coke (well, for most mornings anyways) is working and each day I step on the scales about 3 pounds lighter than I was the week before. Call it baby steps I guess.
Rays MTB Park on 1-1-14... 241 pounds

Rule #4 is to Set Goals.  While I have several significant goals (like reach 210 pounds again, average 20mph on solo training rides, take back my KOM on Ruff Creek Hill, and ride 5000 miles in this calendar year) its about setting smaller, attainable goals for the short term  goals. Having a rear wheel sensor for my trainer bike helps me keep motivated because I have a series of mini goals I plan to achieve on it. Some of these short term goals are as follows:
Average 16mph for an hour
Average 17mph for an hour
Average 16mph for the week
Average 18mph for an hour
Average 17mph for the week
Average 19mph and hour
Average 18mph for the week
Average 20mph for an hour
Average 19mph for the week
Average 21mph for an hour
Average 20mph for the week
Average 20mph for a 2 hour trainer session
(bold goals are already accomplished J

Rule #5 is HTFU. With this artic cold wave we have going on, it  is REALLY testing my commitment to this particular rule. But thanks to Nalini’s collection of Fleece Lined Tights, braving the sub zero temperatures has been easier than expected.  However, there have been a few times that I have succumbed to the temptation to skip an outdoor ride opportunity.It doesn’t help that on one of the winter rides I did go on resulted in my finding a large patch of ice buried under a layer of snow and followed that up with a swift exit from the vertical position in exchange for the much less preferred horizontal position.  Regardless of this mishap, I need to get passed this mental block and put the tire to the path, sSo again, I give myself a FAIL for this rule thus far as well.
Although technically a horrible picture from a composition stand point, I think the steam rolling off me in sub artic temperatures indicates just how cold its been lately.

My new rules have definitely helped with my training but there is still lots of room for improvement. I want to thank my teammates for doing their part to keep me on point. I need to thank the awesome folks at Pathfinder for putting together the care package that my trusty trainer steed needed to get her back into riding shape (its truly amazing what a new chain and cassette will do for a bike. And since I haven’t been able to make it down to the store, finding the beautiful green Pathfinder bag hanging on my door knob is always sets the tone for the rest of the night!)  And I want to thank Kenda too, because the Nevegal tires I ordered for the mountain bike are perfect for the mostly  snowy conditions I’ve been riding in this winter (although I have found out that they are not the best tire for riding on ice)  Also  special thanks to Shawn Geiger, Billy Slutz, Nikki Bee, and Stephanie Lamb for getting out there and riding with me this winter. I’m planning on practicing rule #5 this Tuesday for tacos at OTB, just so you know.  I also want to thank former teammate Jerry Audet for the random emails and texts that offer valuable online training resources, or words of wisdom, or even a swift kick in the ass. I also thank Mack for finally learning to entertain herself for an hour while I ride the trainer in the corner.  And a thank you to Amber for putting up with having a bike on a trainer and a repair stand with a box fan clamped in it, all left in the corner of the living room of our small apartment. While unsightly, it does eliminate the excuse of not wanting to set up the trainer every night.  And finally, a thanks is offered to you the reader for staying tuned to the endeavors of a fat and lazy bike racer.  Stop back later and check out my progress.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter Training

Thus far winter training has been a little more fun this year with the two trips we have made up to Rays Indoor Mountain Bike Park. Since my teammate JR turned me on to mountain biking last season I have had a difficult time getting off the mountain bike to get on a road bike. Then after visiting Rays with a few teammates my enthusiasm for mountain biking has increased even more.

Nate, myself, Addie, Veda & Jeff
When the weather outside is less than desirable for riding, having a place to ride inside makes for a lot of fun. That is unless the place you are riding inside is keeping you in the same place such as a trainer.  Don’t get me wrong, you can get a great workout on the trainer.  However, it comes with the price of extreme boredom.
The crew at Rays Indoor MTB Park
Now that the holidays are over I am really starting to get excited for the 2014 cycling season.  I don't get to ride a lot in the off season with my teammates so for me our team training camp in March will not come soon enough.

Shawn at Rays
I am also excited to get back to Morgantown so I can check out our new sponsor in 2014, the Apothecary Ale House & Cafe.  And of course you cannot make a trip to Morgantown without hitting up Morgantown Brewing Company while you are having your bike tuned up at Pathfinder of WV.

Addie and Mac
I cannot say enough how happy I am to be a returning teammate of the Dynamic Physical Therapy cycling team powered by Pathfinder for the 2014 cycling season.  Thank you to all of our 2014 sponsors!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year = New Rules!

Rang in the new year with Amber

And with Billy, Arryn, and Addie Slutz
2013 is behind me and I no option but to move forward. Its ok to look back to see where I came from and to maybe learn from my mistakes, but I have to keep moving forward to keep finding happiness. So, 2014 is about moving forward and trying to improve myself in so many different ways. As we all know, Albert Einstein said that insanity is repeating the same steps over and over and expecting a different result. So if I repeat what I did last year, I have no chance of obtaining better results or greater happiness in the coming year, unless I make a few changes. So I quickly jotted down some ideas for new rules to live by in regards to cycling, and I hope to make them stick.


Rule #1 Ride the damned bike-- Last year I spent way too much time riding the couch instead of riding the bike. Its not always easy when I have to watch Mackenzie, but I have to work around the schedule and find opportunities to put the rubber to the road. No more excuses, just solutions!

Rule #2 Crosstrain-- OK, so there are going to be times when I just cant work a ride into the mix, but I can always steal 20 minutes and go for a run, or work on core exercises, or even just go for a brisk walk.  Maybe NOT as beneficial as a ride, but it will definitely pay bigger dividends than channel surfing.

Rule #3 Drop some (make that LOTS of) weight-- started 2014 at 241#'s, the most I've weighed in almost 6 years.  I'm not going to diet like so many resolutionists out there, but I will watch my diet closely. I'm giving up soda (wish I could stomach the taste of coffee for the caffeine), I'm eating more vegetables, I'm eating smaller meals,I'm but eating more of them. Week #1 concludes with a total weight loss of 6#'s. But those are the easy 6, I figure the next 36 will be the tough ones.

Rule #4 Set Goals-- Not just major year end goals, but little monumental and incremental goals along the way. Just like anyone else, I like the rush of meeting or exceeding a goal, so I am making it easier to keep having intrinsic rewards along the way. Trainer goal #1 was already accomplished in week #1 and tonight I go after trainer goal #2 during the Pens v. Canucks game. Hope the 10PM start doesn't kill me in the morning....

Rule #5 HTFU-- this is an oldie but a goldie. Its too easy for me to find an excuse to do something besides ride the bike or do a workout. But I need to keep putting my best foot forward in 2014 to get where I want to be. 

And PLEASE don't be afraid to call me out if you think I'm not sticking to my own rules. I will most likely appreciate the forced refocus!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My WV List: #1 Thank you

I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks; and ever thanks. 
- William Shakespear, Twelfth Night

Thank you.

Thank you Dynamic Physical Therapy for being a positive voice in the cycling community.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to race and be with some incredible people.

Thank you Shawn for making the most GD delicious baked goods, and being a good roommate and a good friend.  Here’s to more road trips. GET ON THE FRONT AND PULL.

Thank you Stephanie, for making me think that maybe if something isn’t enjoyable…maybe I better just take the day off.  And for showing me that the love of cycling goes beyond pushing the pedals, and  means doing your share when you’re not racing.

Thank you Jeff for making me feel like I don’t eat enough.  Thank you for showing me what true love of cycling means.  But more over, thank you for being the BEST team mate- I owe my first ever cycling win to you.  I will never forget that.  Mostly, thanks for being so fun.

Thank you Tara, thank you for our countless talks.  Because if it wasn’t for you, I would have felt a lot more alienated, a lot more alone, and a whole lot more miserable.  I miss our daily talks more than I ever thought I would.  I wish you the best as a Mom and a scientist.  Oh, and thanks for the shake weight…and druken summersaults.

Thank you Walt, thank you for the support you gave me through the dark times, and for the advice to buck the trends.  To pave my own path.  You’re going to be one hell of a Dad.  MONSTER TRUCK.

Thank you Dharendra.  D, you were also always there for an encouraging word- both about racing and work…and life.  A tried-and-trusted friend…you are going to make a mark in science, I know it.

Thank you Derek.  If not for you, I would probably still be injured.  I’d probably would never have done a cycling race, or gone to Nationals, or hit many a swimming goal…or swam in the Mon.  I owe you, a lot.  I won’t forget that.  Come visit.

Thank you Anne, for making Derek more bearable.  For the snappy comebacks, and for making me feel a little less crazy when I would feel guilty about eating or doing something stupid.  I miss you.  Congrats on your house, baby, and awesome life.

Thank you Zack, for the hallway chatter, giving me perspective, and sharing my love of metal.  Of anyone I know, you were the most made to be a great scientist my friend.

Thank you Janelle.  Just…Thank you.  A million times thank you.  You have strength that I do not, and you single handedly changed me as a person and a scientist.  You taught me more about integrity in 2 years than I had learned in my whole life.  I will NEVER forget you.  I owe you so much, and I miss you daily.

Thank you Kyle, thank you for the PUNDA scale.  The friendly miles at whites, and being an ear to listen when things in lab got bad…or rather…when they got worse.  And thanks for convincing us all to take those pills… Now, get out of there!

Thank you Pathfinder, for fixing everything I broke.  Both intentionally and un-intentionally.  And thanks for being affordable.  I really miss that.  Finally, thank you for supporting the cycling scene, we all really appreciate it.

Thank you Nicole, for being a quiet voice of reason in the insanity that was our office.  You may not have been as loud as the rest of us, but I always listened when you talked.  I wish you the best now and in the future.  Won’t be long now, until your next step!

Thank you Katie, my “little friend”.  You were the best lab mate I had.  It’s no wonder you’re killing it now in Med school.  I may not have been your boss, but I brag about you to people even now.  You bring a higher bar to everything you do.  Well, except the lab music…and drawing.

Thank you Daniel, Dano, The King, Grammar Dan, Dan the Man.  Thanks for taking one for the team…who else was going to take the verbal beatings?  Thank you for being a really great friend, and a voice of reason…and showing me that maybe I don’t really have to completely make up my mind to be happy.

Thank you Cody, thanks for Parry Grip.  Thanks for incredible websites, and for making me not feel like a freak for wanting to leave Academia.  I wish you had joined our lab, but happy you made the right choice.  Stand up guy.

Thank you Exercise Phygiology faculty of WVU (Dr. Alway, Mustafa, Morrisette, Hollander, Pistilli, Olfert, Dick, Chantler, and everyone else in the department) for giving me a second chance, and also for my award.  I am humbled and very grateful for the education I received, and the respect I have earned.

Thank you Chris.  Thank you for the stories, for showing me around Morgantown, and for being an ear to blab too when I wanted to talk about the latest frame or racing strategy.  AND for showing me it’s ok if I want to have more than one passion.  Life is short!  Take that next risk my friend, you are not one that fails.

Thank you Bill.  Thanks for hunting with me, for showing me the ropes in grad school, for the discussions on life and everything else.  And on saving money.

Thank you Gunnar.  Thanks for being loud when you needed to be, and thanks for being loud when you didn’t.  I owe almost all of my cyclocross knowledge to you, and much of my road cycling…and who better to learn from than T-Rex?  A character I will never forget.

Thank you Betsy, for making Gunnar much more likeable.  For being my arch-nemesis SS racer, and making me work just that much harder to try and keep up.  You definitely class up the racing scene.

Thank you Gary and Tracy, for showing me that love and devotion isn’t just about touchy feely BS.  It’s about a shared passion, and a constant support.  Maybe next time I’ll keep up.

Thank you Marco.  Thank you for always being on a ride- even if no one else was going to show, I knew at least you’d be there!  Thanks for the laughs, and wish you luck on your next step…wherever that may be!

Thank you V-berg aka Sassafras.  You always calmed me down post-race…giving great perspective…such a chill guy.  But come race time, no one had a race face like you my friend.  Like a warrior ready for battle.  I owe you for the cross’ skills, and hope our paths “cross” again. CHECK THAT SEAT TUBE CLAMP.

Thank you James, for our talks at the shop.  For the comradery in all those races, for showing me I shouldn't try the paleo diet, and for giving me advice on racing MTB.

Thank you Gina.  For letting me steal your husband almost daily for hours on end.  For the support you give the community.  For being such a good dog-mom.  For making Carly and I so welcome.  A true friend, whom I miss often.

Thank you Jonathan, for loving strange [good] music.  For at least trying to jump the log.  For being enthusiastic and having all kinds of integrity.  Work hard in school, life will figure it’s self out.  Take a risk my friend!

Thank you Mon Bike Club.  So many people I could thank.  You guys are the best, and are so supportive, I’m proud to have ridden with so many of you. LONG LIVE THE HAMMER RIDE.

Thank you Billy, thanks for making me laugh.  For making me think I should probably push a little harder, and to try new things.  For being such an awesome Dad, a true role model.  You never cease to amaze with your enthusiasm.  I hope some of it has traveled with me.

Thank you to my other WVU work friends- Lindsey, Mike, John, Drew, Shin, Sara, Sara, Danielle, Josh, and all the others.  Good group of people I’ll not soon forget.

Thank you Todd, for making me a little less self conscious about my over-analyzing.  For giving everything to get me to the podium, even if I screwed everything up in the end.  For being a great guy.  “Until next time”.

Thank you to all of my other past team mates- Devin, EJ, Chris, Brian, Nicole, Justine.  You guys and gals are all class acts.  You’ve all taught me something, and I appreciate the time I’ve had with every one of you.

Thank you pro-mountain gang.  Dusty, Tim, Ben, Nate, Seth, Cornett, Caleb, Mike, and the rest- thanks for being good cycling citizens, and putting up some quality competition.

Thank you to the many other Pittsburgh cyclists I’ve met and ridden with.  There’s too many to mention- Jason, Christian, Rick, Stephanie, Rick, Jeff, Jeff, etc etc etc.  You’ve all left a mark.

Thank you Fred, for the kick ass pictures.  You don’t get nearly enough thanks.  I appreciate all the time you take to come out and get great shots of all the action.

Thank you West Pennsylgania cycling, for restoring my faith in Man.  For buying JR that bike.  For keeping it classy, but not stuffy.

Thank you Dennis and Gary.  For being the enforcers, the allies, and friends.  Without you, racing wouldn’t be the same.  Period.

Thank you JR.  For being my most trusted friend, true to the very end.  For giving life to the cycling race scene.  For giving me the chance to try and fall in love with cycling.  For making my time in WV better.  Simply better.  For re-kindling my love of the dirt.  How am I going to get the motivation to keep riding without you constantly there to lend companionship.  You give more of yourself to the community than nearly anyone I know.  WOOD DUCK.

Thank you West Virginia, the people of West Virginia.  I owe you so much.  I am not the person I was when I first came to you.  And I will never be again.  Thank you for being beautiful, for being kind.  For teaching me to keep an open mind, and keep perspective.  I would never have guessed that I’d end up knowing you so well, or liking what I knew so much.  Additionally, who knew I’d ever miss you so much.  Like it or not, you’re part of me now, and I hope I am part of you.

What a great gift.

Here's to the next step.

Happy New Year.

This blog has been nearly 5 months in the making.  Pictures did not seem appropriate, and this is my only post without them.  It reads simply, and the actual typing and construction took very little time.  However, getting it down on the screen, to actually complete it, meant saying good bye.  And I haven’t been ready for that.  I’m still not really.  But, as 2014 starts, I am now in a year in which I will not live in WV, and have been officially released from the cycling team, and I knew it was time to move forward.  I hope you have enjoyed my posts, and I am thankful for everyone that has taken the time to read them and get to know me through this online-venue.  I may continue to be a guest contributor to the team blog as my new adventures begin here in MA.

 There may be people I've missed, if so let me apologize.  While I say this was a 5 month process, I have felt constantly rushed and overwhelmed by the prospect of thanking everyone that needed to be thanked.  There’s just so many people who helped me along my way in WV, who may never have been thanked, and may not even know how thankful I am.  Every single one of you has left a mark.  Some people may just say that, but I mean it.  My time in WV may have been relatively fleeting, but it will always remain a great time in my life.

Until country roads, take me home…