Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Started the weekend with a Friday after work swim. Usually I wouldn't do this because it is such a hassle to go the Y and get in a packed pool, after a long week when I am tired. Because I started my new gym that day, I was able to swim in complete relaxation, all by myself. Almost like having my own private pool at home.

Saturday I worked until 1:30 and then headed out on my bike. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but decided to let my legs be the judge. It was hot, probably at this point the hottest day we have had. But the ride was comfortable, since I chose a route away from the city, the heat, and the traffic. It was a very pleasant ride through the country, with trilium still in bloom along the roadside, but tucked back away in the woods. The locust trees were in bloom, and their scent was heavy in the air. Lots of roadkill along this route, since it really is a wooded area not too far from the river, where they just happened to put a road. There are houses scattered here and there, and a few new developments being established, a maple syrup farm (farm?), cows grazing, a horse ranch, and a few older, shabbier looking homes. You pretty much get it all on this stretch. Lots of bikers use this route for training. It is wide open, rolling to flat, to extremely hilly, depending on whether you take the out and back or head off on the side roads. And then yes, you get hills. Hills that will kick your butt. Hills that standing you are lucky to be hitting 5 mph. And downhills that scare me to death! 37-39 mph. Too fast for me, especially when you have 4-way stops here and there and then more downhill!

Something didn't feel right with my wheel. I've been having trouble getting it lined up correctly when putting it on and it seems to be rubbing constantly. Today I was a lot more careful and was sure it wasn't, but I'll tell you, I could barely get over 12 mph at first. And something was ticking. Shifting was a little off too. Probably time to go back to the bike shop, although this is the same thing I had it in for last August. I've barely ridden 200 miles and its back doing it again. Makes you wonder what's up and why they can't fix it and keep it fixed.

I've done this route only one other time this season, and this time it seemed as if the turnaround came a lot sooner. I actually went a little past the turnaround before heading back. Heading back you get a few more uphills, but nothing steep or long. Just lovely countryside and a hot blazing sun.

It really was extremely hot this weekend, but I am not going to complain since it has been at least 8 years since we have had a decent Memorial Weekend--the other weekend we didn't go to Traverse City.

I also managed to get in a swim later in the day with the grandkids along in the new private pool! They had a blast, and this way we didn't have to sit outside in the blazing sun and they didn't have to swim in an icy pool. Their apartment complex filled the pool early in the week, apparently to be ready for the weekend, but even though they have a heater, they won't turn it on. So you freeze. The only time you can ever stand to be in there is if we get day after day of weather like we had this weekend.

Sunday was to be my semi-long bike day. It was already 80 degrees when I got out to the trail about 8:30 am. I made adjustments in my schedule because of traffic. It was a wise choice. The trail was relatively empty making getting good speed possible. This particular trail runs north and south, and I start heading north. It seems like it is almost all uphill after the first couple of miles, and I would guess it is since coming back is always much easier. So again, my bike just doesn't feel right, and I'm trudging along at 12-13 mph. Last week everything was a solid 15-16 and it felt great. This definitely felt like trudging. My tires are properly inflated, the bike is shifting okay, and I don't feel tired or sluggish, but I am not making any good progress. Just pedaling, pedaling, and pedaling. Before I hit the half-way mark, the trail was becoming quite congested--people starting at the other end apparently. This trail is different from the river trail. While it does wind along the same river, it also picks up at one point another river and there you come into different territory. From a small, historic town along the Rogue, where one of the biggest manufacturing companies got its roots (Wolverine World Wide) to the half million dollars homes in several upscale developments, to just the old, country homes that have been standing for decades. Along here you see the lupines, trillium, and ferns, and signs of varied wildlife--chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, deer, woodchucks, possum, and racoon, to name a few. A variety of birds as well, and I saw several meadowlarks. Where there weren't houses, it was a pretty natural forest habitat. This trail, like many of ours in the area, are made from old railroad beds, and in the past it wasn't even paved. I remember many trail runs on this trail before it was paved, with rotting railroad tressles to cross. For me, that was a panic attack! Now the trail is actually a state park, and it is really nice. It would probably be nicer if people actually knew how to use it!

Today though, the ride was fairly uneventful. I always make note of strange, irritating, or unusual things I see. Today the odd thing was someone's helmet. Not a bike helmet but an army helmet. Okay, if that's all you've got. The irritating thing though was a stupid recumbant biker old man trying to do his little part in not littering. As I was approaching him, he had pulled off to the side to throw a water bottle into a trash can. Not moving. Didn't feel a big reason to warn him "on your left." Apparently this geezer needs reminding every time anyone passes. Just as he is throwing the bottle into the trash, both hands off the handle bars, his bike veers totally across the the trail right into my path. I have nowhere to go but into him or over the edge into a gully so I yell "watch out, watch out," scream "WATCH OUT." No response, but he does pull back around just in a nanosecond before I crash into him. I was so mad I let him have it. "You stupid moron, watch where you're going. You're not the only one out here you know." Still no response but I'm sure he got the message. And I realize it was a mistake, but it could have been very dangerous for both of us if he hadn't responded. He has to take responsibility for his actions. No excuses.

Other than that and the fact it was extremely hot, and my water was almost gone, and what I had was warm, the ride was good. It was also slow, but not that much off last year's time, so I am hoping it is a bike problem and not me.

Monday then was supposed to be my first real run/bike workout. Due to several factors, the bike took place but not the run. First, I decided I should put some more air in my bike tires, even though they didn't seem to need it. I am constantly getting lectured by Don about cleaning my chain, pumping up my tires, etc. So okay, I'll do it. Oh great, the stupid stem is bent, all my air goes out just loosening the valve, and now I can't get the bike pump nozzle on. I try over and over and over. And of course another problem I have is: I can't change a tire. Can't, won't. I know it will catch up with me one day. Actually it has about 3 times, but still can't, won't. I finally get enough air in to get me by, but less than what I started with. Jeez. Get on the bike and immediately the pedals are flying out of control. Oh, that's right. Chain is on the granny gear, thanks to Don's other great suggestion that I clean my chain the night before. The chain came off and I got it back on the smallest ring, but couldn't get it to shift up while not riding it. Didn't even think of it until I got on. Turn around towards the car going slightly uphill, thinking it would be easier to shift. Nothing. Try again and again and again and still nothing. Would not shift. Great. Now I can either go home and be mad all day or ride on a less than fully inflated tire in my granny gear for 20 miles. I decided to ride.

Right there was a monumental change in attitude from even 2 months ago. I wanted to ride and I was going to despite these annoyances. Now the route I was taking is pretty much out and back, but does have a few turns and one STEEP uphill toward the end. One big, long downhill, one big, long uphill. I've done this probably 2 dozen times so I wasn't totally phased by it or I might have chosen another route. I figured I would coast the downhills and that's all I needed to worry about.

Once again I was trudging. This time due to lack of available gears. I probably looked like one of those idiots I see all the time on mountain bikes just spinning along. And that's what I did, spun along at a zippy 11-12 mph. That was max on the flats. Several people passed me, as this is another favorite biker route. I'm sure I only got passing respect in the fact I had a race bike jersey on and that always seems to get people's attention. I certainly didn't look threatening to anyone however. I finally reached the first of the major downhills and just hung on for dear life. I have gotten used to downhills over the years, don't usually brake the whole thing anymore, but today I was being cautious. I had no way to control the pedals so just coasted and occasionally did a half pedal to relieve the tension in my legs from holding them in one place for so long. I figured out that by the time the bike slowed to about 14 mph I could start pedaling again and was good until I reached that happy zone of 11 mph. Then it was back to trudging again. With less gears you would think it would be less tiring, but the opposite was true. I was pedaling almost constantly and making very slow progess so I was out there much longer than usual for the same route. But I also knew on the long uphill I was going to have some serious digging in. Usually there it is easy enough to maintain about a 10-11 mph pace if you are trained even moderately enough, but today it meant approaching the hill at 11 mph and going down from there. It is a long hill, and at that pace probably about 8 minutes long, sort of like a long spin hill workout, so I just stayed calm and relaxed and trudged along. Up, up, and up I climbed, finally bottoming out at 6 mph. I wasn't going to stand because I was actually afraid I would tip over. And really, it wasn't awful, just long and tedious. After those hills there was only going to be one more major one toward the end, so on I spun/trudged.

This route is along a state divided highway that also passes through residential, manufacturing, and industrial areas, so you get a lot of traffic regardless of time of day or day of the week--except on a holiday, so I was glad I didn't have constantly roaring traffic going by the whole time. I did have one worry--I had to pass over an expressway on ramp, and since speeds are 55 mph, that's the speed people would be approaching the ramp at. Yikes, I was going to have to pray no one would be coming. Fortunately I made it through just in time. Back to trudging and wanting to be done. I considered cutting the course but didn't. Got to the last hill and of course I had to approach it at almost a complete standstill pace. I decided to push as hard as I could and hold the pace as long as I could. Held 8 mph for most of the hill, then started dropping to 7, 6, and finally 5 at the last little hump of the hill. I was straining at that point, not willing to stand. I wasn't sure I had the strength to do that. OMG. Finally this is getting over! Just another mile to the car. Yipee! So I spun/trudged back to the car. I was very glad to be done and it was just too hot for my mind to comprehend any more torture to go out and run. Enough is enough!

What I have noticed after riding 3 days in a row is recovery is pretty good. I know I'm not pushing a 20 mph pace, but just getting on my bike 3 days in a row and going more than 20 miles each time is a step up for me. I have a lot more bike catching up to do over the next 2 weeks, and I needed this 3 day weekend to get me over the hump. Now I just have to get the running to coordinate everything.

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