Monday, June 29, 2009

Strange Days

Since I ride on Saturday and Sunday, my Monday rides are usually filled with pain and suffering. And it's usually short.
This summer, my weekday rides have been few and far between for I have been working with my brother at "the warehouse."
Yes, the same brother who smoked me on that Wednesday ride; how he does it after work I'll never know. Wait, while I sweat and toil in a hot non-ventilated warehouse, he sits behind his computer in an air conditioned office. Yeah, he still got legs after work.
Well today, I got home and sat my stiff and sore body down. I stared wistfully at my bike. Remember how I said the hardest part was getting out the door?
I usually know in the first mile or two how my ride is going to be. For instance on Saturday, I went out after a four day lay off and felt indestructible.
No gusts of wind could slow me and no potholes could break my cadence. I swear I could smell my tires burning.
Today I went out and knew I was in trouble. Legs were acting all goofy and I couldn't find a good rhythm. As I passed the swaying palm trees, I felt like a boat sailing against the wind. The lactate began to bubble up in my legs.
I made the warm up run trying to gauge the way the wind was blowing; hopefully I'd catch a tailwind one way or the other. I was struggling so bad, it didn't seem to matter.
They say that timing is everything, and today it was.
I hit all the green lights and only had to stop once when crossing against traffic. As I was huffing and a puffing I usually welcome the stops and pauses that come along my route, but today I plodded along at times cursing my good luck.
I noticed it in Lanikai: the wind was blowing slightly opposite than normal if it was blowing at all. Or maybe it was just my imagination.
I came out of Kailua Beach Park and dialed it up. A little.
In hindsight, I think just suspecting you have a tailwind helps.
I was cranking along, thinking about how much further I was going before backing off when I glanced down at the evil computer.
I was making good time. I mean GOOD time.
The last section is a half mile into the wind and back. I dug deep.
And watched the clock.
I hit Tamura's in Aikahi in under an hour. I had never done that before.
Average speed: 14.7 mph.
Now the return run. Into the wind. Here goes nothing.
I chugged along and watched the computer. Oh. My. Goodness.
At twenty miles my average speed was: 15 mph!
This, on what felt like a bad day, on a loop that I usually have a hard time averaging fourteen miles per hour on.
Strange days, indeed.

Today is also officially the retirement day of my old crankset. I also hit two thousand miles today (2000 miles even! Did I say strange?). The old cranks came off and the new cranks went on.
I guess I shouldn't bitch and moan about the old cranks too much; they did take me to a personal best. I won't miss the creaking and a clicking.
Now if I can only keep up with my brother on his Wednesday ride.
Stranger things have happened.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


So, the Korean pop star finally settled for not appearing at a concert here.
Wait, not that rain.
Today was one of those typical days where Kailua cannot decide whether (weather) or not it is on the Windward side of the island or the East side.
Blue skies, scattered showers, blue skies, scattered showers, rinse, wash, repeat.
Most of the time, by the time I get to Lanikai, I can look out over the ocean and get a vague idea of what the weather is going to be like. Usually it's blue sky for as far as the eye can see; that means it's probably not going to rain. This is Hawaii: it rains when the sun is shining.
Days like today are hard to judge. The sky was grey to the horizon which means anything could happen. So it rained and then it stopped. And then it rained again. And stopped. Now that I am sitting here inside, of course blue skies have returned.
I attribute this strange weather to fact that I cleaned my bike before leaving the house. Cleaning your bike is the same as washing your car: it will rain if you go out.
The worst thing about riding in the rain is not the track marks or water driping down the back of your shorts. I can handle that.
It's the freakin water that shoots up off your front tire that you inhale while cranking it down the road to the nearest covered shelter.
I swear it's like slow motion: the stream of water rises off the front of your tire and separates into droplets that seem to hover right in front of your mouth. It wouldn't be so bad if you weren't gasping for air. Thinking about where that water is from takes the fun out of breathing.
The thing is, I don't mind cycling in the rain. In fact, in a strange way it's actually quite pleasant.
If it weren't for all that water.

I finally broke down and ordered a new crankset.
The one on my bike started clicking and a creaking about a thousand miles ago and it got so loud it's freaking me out.
After days of deliberation and hours of internet research, I decided on Shimano SLX cranks.
I also picked up a Halo headband while waiting out the rain in the bike shop. It has a silicon band that supposedly defects the beads of sweat to the sides of your head. I'm giving it to my brother to try out. Apparently, I don't ride fast enough to sweat.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hammer Time!

No, not MC Hammer.
In an extreme example of hand-eye coordination, I hit my finger with a hammer.
It hurts. It throbs. It is black and blue. It hurts.
I just hope my fingernail doesn't fall off.
So, let me relate to you another hammer time as I sit here in mind numbing pain typing without using the letter J.
With great excitement, a friend and I met my brother for his "easy" ride. I should have taken the display bike (see below).
It all started off innocently enough. A little two mile jaunt before we hit the highway with me thinking, "I can do this."
Six miles later, my brain stopped working. Luckily, my legs seemed to know what to do, even if they didn't do it fast enough.
I did my best to find a draft, but I guess that's pretty hard when you are ten bike lengths back. Apparently, what my brother calls his easy ride is the equivalent of my death ride.
Now, I was on my mountain bike, while the other two were on road bikes; my bro was actually on a tri bike. My friend was on his new five pound carbon bike.
But I am not making any excuses. I mean my bike must weigh thirty pounds don't you know.
So while the two spent most of the ride in the twenty MPH range, as you can tell, I spent a considerable part of it below it. Don't get me wrong, I did break "the barrier" but I could not seem to gain any ground when I did and for the most part fell OTB. I felt like a hamster on his wheel, moving my legs as fast as I could but not really going anywhere. I actually lost sight of them twice.
I meekly complained about how the sun was blinding me but in actuality, they could have been lit up like Christmas trees in the dark and I still would have lost them. I was so far behind, their dust had already settled. I was actually sort of having a good time.
Until I got dropped by a guy wearing shorts and slippers on a twenty six inch mountain bike.
I relenquished after about twelve miles.
It was a great ride.
I pushed myself harder than I ever would have riding alone. I was surprised that I hung on for so long.
I know the upper limits of my capabilities and while not stellar, not dissappointing either. I now have some new goals to shoot for and my riding has taken on a new purpose.
Time to pump up the tires on the display bike.
I have a date with my brother next week.
I hope I don't get hammered.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ramble On! Part One

First, the bad news: I didn't even make it out the door today.
Good news is I put in thirty four miles yesterday in the Kona winds heat. That was rough. It was such a nice day, and I had no legs. Although I managed to put in a nice effort, it felt all wrong. I can tell when the ride is going not so good when I have a hard time maintaining a good pace. My stroke is all over the creation and my legs feel like they are of two different lengths.
I did manage to finally make it into Waimanalo though. Every weekend, it seems I wake up and tell myself I'm going to head out there and I never make it. Yesterday, even with dead legs, the weather and the time seemed appropriate so I made the turn at the light and ventured forth.
Waimanalo is not that far away; it only added ten miles to my usual ride. It was nice enough that I'll probably be headed out that way regularly now.
Now about not making it out the door: I came home, fed the dog and promptly fell asleep on the couch with the TV watching me.
I had a surreal moment as I awoke to see the ceiling fan spinning overhead. I felt like Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now; I was getting weaker sitting on my couch as all the other cyclists were out there getting stronger. Instead of the music of the Doors I had the opening theme of Law and Order.
I don't feel too guilty about not making it out today. Well, okay, kinda o'sorta, maybe but not really. I have told myself that I have given up on my weight thing until summer starts, which is next week. Thing is, it felt like my legs were blown.
It's funny. There have been days when I have started a ride feeling like I wasn't going to make it through the next mile and suddenly I can ride forever. Then there are the days when I feel strong as hell and struggle to make it up the hill behind my house. You never know how your ride is going to go until you actually get out there and start to peddle. Okay, now I feel guilty.
Speaking about summer, I may have a job lined up. Or not. It seems it depends upon being able to get students interested in writing about art criticism. And they have to pay for it. We'll see how that goes. I am skeptical and optimistic at the same time. Well, not skeptical, more like realistic. If I was in the ninth grade, would I want to spend my summer writing about art? Do I care about art at all?
Sorry mister, I rather be outside riding my bike!