Wednesday, August 14, 2002

So Saturday evening comes to an end, some roadies sitting out on the steps of Winona College playing bluegrass music and crickets echoing off into the distance. Some times there are moments that you'd just like to freeze and replay over and over again. There was a subplot in one of the last Star Trek movies that was like that. This alien race was able to pause time and just suck up a moment and really relish in it. They used it to save lives in a cave that had collapsed, but I think that if I could bottle it up for my own use I'd be a really happy camper.

When I got back from Target on Saturday evening (I needed an Alarm clock, and heck, it's target... you don't need a reason to go to Target) I sat down with my couple bottles of Dr. Pepper Red Fusion, a nice pencil and those composition journals that look so cool and just sat down and wrote. It was really kind of therapeutic. You don't always get a chance to just sit down and spill with no one bothering you at all. After a while, I went out to get some water or something, and got directed out to the front steps where there some roadies playing guitar. Earlier, I had seen a guy wearing an Iroman cap, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him. He was out on the steps, so I kind of saddled up to him so that I could ask him about his cap. He gave me good fodder for cud chewing, I guess. He'd done three Ironman Tris (Canada twice and Florida) and reassured me that I wouldn't need to worry about the swim. "Keep telling yourself it's the smallest part of the race" he kept saying. I believe him, and I really want to think that way, but there are still pieces that wonder.

Tonight after an extra long day at work, I drove down to the beach because I REALLY needed to destress a little bit and get some form of a workout in. After about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to zip myself up in my wetsuit, I finally ventured out into the water. Tonight the water had a bit of a chill to it. I'm not sure why. I headed out, and it still felt extremely nice to float with the wetsuit. I didn't stay long though. By the time I got into the water, the sun was setting and I had very little daylight left. I just don't know about my stroke. Anytime I try to really focus on swimming freestyle, I get dizzy. I just wonder how off it's going to look if I'm swimming sidestroke during competition.

Back to Sunday though. Sunday morning brought with it an alarm that went off 15 minutes earlier than I thought it was. (I set the clock as best I could). I ambled up and got over to the cafeteria to get some food into my system.

I was kind of happy with my bike after getting it back in one piece on Saturday. I was even thinking, "y'know, maybe we have this spoke issue licked." I slowly mounted up, checking everything and headed out by myself. At the first light, I was a little confused by the directions and some riders from the Gopher Wheelmen came up to me. They didn't say anything, but I kind of dropped in behind them since we were all with the same group, and kind of had this little smile on my face. I've always thought the Gopher Wheelmen were pretty cool, even though I didn't know much about them besides they ride really hard. These guys did. I kept up as best I could, but we averaged close to 20mph over the first hour. When it comes to the hills, I guess I just have a bit much weight, and not a small enough gearing. Someday, someday. Anyway, I watched them vanish off into the distance, and kept chugging along.

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I saw this guy somewhere on the other side of the first rest stop. I hit the first hill as hard as I could and got to the top in some semblance of one piece. I wasn't built for hills, and I struggled with them all weekend. I'm hoping Madison hills are shorter. I'll find out this weekend. I might go 200 miles on them this weekend. At least that's how I'm leaning. I missed my double century this year, and I don't think it would be bad to do one on the area I'll be racing on. We'll see.

Anyway, when we got to the top of the hill (there was a guy on recumbent who I rode along with for awhile) a Russian lady on a motorcycle pulled up asking where the nearest gas station was. It was such a hoot. You just don't expect to see what turned into an entire group of motorcyclist russians in the middle of southern minnesota. We gave them directions as best we could and got going again. About 5 miles up the road, we found the truckstup we only hypothesized existed and there were about 100 bikers outside. It was rather humorous looking at the dichotomy between the spandex clad road-bikers on their aluminum and steel liteweight bikes, and the leather-clothed greasy bikers jabbering away amongst themselves.

Somewhere on the way back to Winona, at the top of an extra long hill (about 2 miles) I hit rumble strips. Rumble strips should just be completely outlawed. I don't think it was the sole cause, but I'm sure that the highway slowing devices aided in what happened next. I paused for a second to catch my breath and swig some gatorade and I heard the familiar "Clink" that I've learned to dred. I look, and sure enough i've broken another spoke. I start to walk my bike for a little while and ask anyone I see bike by if they have a spoke-wrench. No one does until this black-guy I met the day before ambles up.

When I pulled into the lunch rest-stop on Saturday, there was this guy sitting and having his sandwich. There weren't many people around and there was a spot near the table so I went and had a seat. He was talking about folding bicycles and I sat and listened, kinda interested in what he had to say. I asked a couple questions and just kind of kept munching away at my lunch. I couldn't understand it, but this guy started taking little potshots at me being somewhat lesser of an athlete than he was because I had a little extra weight. I think I may have brought it on myself because I talked about going out for another workout after we got back from the ride (he was heading for a nap) and it started a trend all weekend where he'd find little things to nitpick about.

At dinner that night, I bumped into him again. Not entirely on purpose. They were doing some giveaways and I walked over to the side of the park building so I could hear if my name was called. "jerry" was came up to the side just after I did, and the next round of belittlement kind of started. We were talking about swimming and he talked about how he was a 'non floater'. that swimming wasn't worth it because he just had to exert too much effort to float. I tried to mention the Total Immersion stuff that I've been soaking up, but it didn't work. I mentioned that I had trouble floating and that it had taken a lot of work, and he asked why someone like me would have trouble floating. I'm just not that FAT! Most floating in the water has nothing to do with Fat. It has everything to do with form, and it really sucked that I was kind of singled out and told that A) I'm fat. and B) You're too young to know anything of use

I just don't like not having my opinions heard. I especially don't like them getting smacked down, so it was with reluctance that I asked Jerry for a spoke wrench. Asking for the spoke wrench got us off into this entirely seperate tangent about why I was just too heavy to buy any liteweight racing gear and that I just hadn't worked hard enough to lose weight and that not having lost weight was most definitely my fault. No excuses from Jerry. Everything is always my fault. ERGH! I was so frustrated. He even went off on me about being mad that my bike was breaking down again, telling me that Spokes break. Spokes however DON'T break 4 times in 300 miles (or at least they shouldn't) When we got to the next rest stop I ditched this guy as best as I could.

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Looking over to the side after having snapped this cute 9 day old baby cow picture (below)

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I noticed that there was a mechanic. Rawk! I can get my bike fixed! He loads my bike up and gets working on replacing the spoke. He also figured out what was going wrong with my front tire. None of the nipples in front were lubed, so the spokes through tension were unscrewing themselves. Kind of an unexpected and frustrating thing. He tightens eveything up and I'm able to get back on the road.

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I thought that I'd have a lot more energy for the last 7 miles, but I misjudged. No energy for me!
I was able to hit 45 mph on the hill coming out of the rest stop, but I was really dead for the rest of the ride... AND my cycle computer broke again. Muy Muy Muy Frustrating.

Anyway, I finally made it back to Winona State, got checked out as quickly as I could and headed back to the cities. I got a bunch of people together on Sunday night, partially for the morale boost (That Jerry guys comments stuck a little too much) and they helpd quite a bit. It's nice to have friends that will tell you what you need to hear sometimes.

More later.


Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Life throws interesting curveballs at you sometimes. The trick is to know when they're coming so you can get out of the way. In between all of the mechanicals I've had with my bike and the vagaries of work (which aren't that bad, but the time adds up) I tend to think that I'm farther away from the Ironman than I've ever been. This past weekend, I headed out with the club I ride with (Twin Cities Bike Club) to Winona for a couple days of riding. In ways, it was really good to be out of the city for some serious focusing and riding, but in other ways, it was just another one of those curve balls.

from my journal over that weekend....

Musings from a marooned cyclist

I feel a bit stranded out here in Winona. I also feel incredibly young. I'm easily ten years the junior of anyone here, and htere are lots of social connections that on a trip like this become much more apparent that I'mnot a part of. I mean, it's alright, it just makes me wish that Angela and Gina were here. I think I spent most of the day thinking about Ang. Exploring new places without her these just isn't the same experience. Ang isn't a cyclist, and she'll never do an Ironman (though she's probably more psychologically sound for that) but having her around is really nice.

For it being a college campus, the silence is pretty deafening. With no radio , and not really hanging out iwth anyone, there's more than adequate time to be alone with thoughts. There's been a whole cornucopia of stuff that I've needed to write, and I'm not sure where to begin.

I was actually "Up and at em" right away this morning, which is a little different I guess, but when there's some build in excitement, it's probably easier to wake up. I was actually out the door by about 5:14, nervously checking my bikes in the rear view mirror, thinking that I'm going to see my new bike rack fly off my car with my bikes splattering behind it. Luckily, such was not the case today. It's SO cool being able to just hook the bike right up. No fuss, no muss.

As soon as I drove into Winona, I was thinking about an acquaintance that had gone to school for a semester at the college we were staying at and had areally bad experience there. I guess the question mulling around in my brain all weekend was, "Why was this place so bad?" Frankly, it looks nice than the Augsburg campus, and if you really wanted to devote yourself to school, the atmosphere seems accomodating. Anyway, the jury is still out. Point in my friend's favor? The dormmer I'm in is kind of scuzzy. Then again, it IS a dorm.

When I got down to Winona this morning, the first thing on my mind was to find the ride start so that I could get things put together. I really wanted to do the 100 mile route on Saturday and that meant getting on the road early. Because I got on the road right away, there wasn't any chance to get my dorm room for the weekend. After I got back, the office wasn't open. I finally did get my room, but it was kind of annoying not knowing where to go to get a room. I didn't want to have to sleep in my car.

Heading out from Winona, as soon as I hit the first overtly large hill I realized the gearing on my Team just isn't low enough. I think my biggest gearing on the back is a 23 and when you have to bike up a mile/2 mile hill it just doesn't work. My heartrate was peaking almost right away. If there's one thing that sucks about being big, it's that it's that much harder to climb up a hill. Oh, but the benefits of being big and going down a hill? That's another story.

The weather today turned out to be really hot and sweaty, and since I'm doing 65 tomorrow, I took the 65 mile route today too. I was still really concerned about my bike. The front tire was making noise and I had no idea where it was coming from. going the extra 35 miles, I THOUGHT could have broken the wheel again. Luckily, the bike made it through in one piece. I was especially concerned about it though.

Oh, the downhills. Heading into a town called "Rollingstone" there was this completely amazing hill. Picture this. Off to the right side is a 200-300 foot drop that looks down into a really amazing farm in a valley. To the left is forest that climbs for anothe 150 feet. In front of you? Just a LONG and curvy drop. I think that I've found there's no better drug than flying down a hill. I've been over 40 mph on my other bike, but I've never been over 50 mph. I actually hit 52 on the downhill into rollingstone. It is SOOOO intense. Knowing that you have to be in complete control or you're going to crash is kind of a rush. I think it's definitely one of the things that makes cycling worth it as a sport. I wouldn't really want to take any other kind of equipment down a hill at that speed. Not rollerblades or a scooter at least.

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This isn't the hill I was talking about, but you can get an idea of how high things are. I'll post about Sunday when I get home tonight, but it's a start. Sorry for the sparse posting!

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