Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So how do You feel?

(Many moons ago riding the Katy trail in MO)
So we are well into the dog days of winter here in Northern Indiana and the trainer is becoming a staple in many of our training plans. For me, I am almost left with no option but to spin away indoors and go nowhere as ankle surgery makes it a little risky to go outside on slick roads. The biggest breakthrough for me since the last post is that I was able to finally get a little reprieve from the inside riding and hit the open roads. I really wasn't quite due to go outside per surgeon orders yet, but despite what some may think, I used good judgement and felt I was ready to get out. Even though the 3 rides I had outside were bitterly cold, I had so much fun riding that I really didn't notice. I've had several periods of time in my life where I have been forced to not ride outside for extended periods of time and it really gives me an appreciation for the sport I love. Its like the saying, "you don't know what you have until it's gone." Yeah, that's pretty much it.

My first ride back started at the top of my driveway. I live on a slight hill so I had a little decent to go down first thing. I will be honest, I was a little scared to even go down this "hill" not knowing how the ankle would handle the dip at the bottom. So with butterflies in my stomach, I pushed off. Whew!!!! Here I go! I had flashbacks to when I was a kid in my hometown when us neighborhood kids would see how far we could go no- hands down the big hill on our bikes. It was a scary, exciting, and a fun thing to do. To push each other to the limits of our human abilities. That's what cycling is about: FUN.

Sometimes I think it is about handling suffering, getting to know your inner self when you are at your harshest times. Maybe somewhat, but not really. Its about going forward the fastest, smoothest, and most near perfection as you can. This is everything contrary to riding the trainer! Sure, you can find pleasure in hitting some big watts on the trainer and breaking a personal best. But riding the trainer doesn't "feel" like riding. We call it going for a bike "ride," not going for a bike "pedal." Rides are fun adventures. Pedaling is an act of doing.

I don't race other people to beat other people. I race them because they might beat me, forcing me better myself in the process. If someone steps it up a notch, then I have to do the same myself which only makes me get closer to my perfect form. I race to win, but its the most fun to me when I am truly challenged. It about progression of oneself to me and I really do want to race other people that progress themselves too.

In the BMX days, a group of us would get together on practice days and hit a section of the track time after time after time. Hours on end we would do only one section to see who could one up each other. Even though you always wanted to be the one up, you always wanted the next person to one up you again. Because the challenge was the fun part. Let's see how far we can take it! How cool did it feel to hit a section as smooth as you ever thought possible only to turn around and hit it even smoother 2 hours later? Well, it's our air-o-plane.

Point is, the trainer is a necessary tool to progress our fitness in the Midwest. But I don't like it. Its a dead feeling to me, and its all because we ride our bikes to feel. Some people want to feel different things at different times. To me, I want the rush it brings. Whatever that may be for any given day. So maybe ask yourself, how do you feel? And to what lengths do you go to feel it?
"Hey look Mom and Dad! I'm riding away from you!"

That's what I still remember the first time without training wheels as I screamed to my parents as I headed away from them.

"I'm really doing it!"

It only took me one try, no wrecks, no problems. I took off, looked back at my parents very calmly and saw such a look of joy and relieve (yet fear) in their expressions. I felt such a rush! I turned back, facing the road and whispered to myself:

"this feels like so much fun!"

The same feeling I had before riding down my driveway the other day.

Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel still.

It's my air-o-plane.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Big Little Steps. Bigger Goals.

That's it! The moon boot is no longer! I am now past the 8 weeks post-op mark and I couldn't wait to retire this nasty thing. I was sure it weighed at least 5 pounds, so I thought I would get a real measure of it... turns out to only be 2.4 ibs. So I lost that much weight, but after being fairly inactive, I have a few more of my own to lose than that. Anyway, graduating out of the protection of the boot is a BIG step, but not being able to "push off" with a atrophied calf muscle has me taking little steps right now, but stronger and stronger each day. I thought I might come up with some cleaver way to destroy the boot, but I think with my luck, I will keep it around to fend off any bad mojo.
So, the next big step I had was moving onto a smaller version of an aircast with activities and walking. This splint is still pretty bulky, and dorky looking, but it beats the one that came all the way up my leg. Aside from the required compression hose to keep the swelling down, and the ankle brace, I almost could pass as any other normal person riding the trainer.

That's right. I'm full time clipped in! Its kind of funny to take my foot out of my shoe while it is still clipped in, but I will take it for now! I also can now consistently hit the 100 watt mark. This seems like a little step in the right direction, but it is a huge mental boost to see 3 digits on the power meter compared to only 2. And in other big news; I made it down a flight of stairs yesterday in a normal fashion instead of 1 step at a time. Anyone who has ever had a limb out of contention knows what I mean when you find out just how vital they are to do the little things we take for granted. Stairs are a very complex movement and it was good feeling to not take forever to get down them. Nice.
Little steps at a time.
So, I know everyone in the cycling world knows the big news about cyclocross world championships coming to L'ville in 2013. I feel like we are very blessed in this part of the US to have such a huge deal so close to us, not to mention the fact that it will be held at the same venue as the one we will do many, many races at before that big weekend comes. As much as I am thrilled with the WC coming, I am even more excited that we have also received the Master's world championships bid for 2012 and 2013. Seems I may have some new goals to shoot for in the future and I have already turned my mind toward being part of that 2013 master's world team for my age group. I will more than likely pass on the '12 MWC as that would mean no pro races for me in 2012, and I'm not ready to pass on that yet. I'm not sure how that all works at this point, but I think I have as good as chance as any to represent my age group in such a big event in '13. As much as I love mountain bike racing, I am drifting away from traveling and focusing on it as much as I have in the past to focus my training on cross a little better and over the next few years. Cross will be more and more my focus, but mtb will always be on the schedule to prep me for cross. I am just not putting as many eggs in the basket in trying to win every mtb race I enter. I am finding a good plan of attack for training for cross with Coach Don G for cycling combined with Coach Darrell C for the core and strength side that is so vital in cross. Every year is one step up on my building plan at being better at such a cool sport. Combined with the hope of continuing to gain more ancillary support (wheels, products, etc), I'm gonna dream big and plan for racing the Master's World Championships in the near future.
Little steps, little changes, and little thoughts on my plans
for a BIG goal.