Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fire on Ice

It's cold here. Ok, it's not cold like it is in Chicago or possibly like it is in Alaska; however, I have specifically chosen not to live in either of those places right now. I live in Washington, D.C., where it is supposed to be warmer than this. My problem with the cold is not that I am too much of a pansy to go out into it; but rather it is my hatred of the trainer. This problem necessitates my voyaging out into the cold when sometimes I should sit inside and spin in front of the TV or one day in front of my PlayStation 3 (that is when I get the money to buy one).

Applying strict Topeka Cold Weather Riding Rules, I should have ridden about 23 miles today. Instead I voyaged out for a normal two hour ride. However, I was saved because I hit the jackpot recently with a gag gift my Mom bought me for Christmas-- Little Hotties.

They are packets of warm stuff that you put in your shoes and they keep your feet warm. They are absolutely genius. I'm sure that the chemicals inside them will give me cancer or cause fertility problems but right now I don't care because my feet stay warm and I love it.

The trainer is an evil device that should not be allowed. It's the cycling version of the treadmill which is also a device that I completely don't understand. My thought is that there is this place called "the outside" which is wonderful. It's full of birds and clouds and fun things to look at. It is also the place where bikes are supposed to be ridden (unless you race track). Things that keep me from riding my bike outside are like little restraints on freedom. Thus, the trainer is my personal version of cycling prison. The only purpose it serves is to help me warm up for criteriums that take place in urban settings.

So, today I put my kit on and headed out for my first VO2 Max workout of the season. It only seems like four months since I did my last such workouts-- oh wait it was. Despite the recency of those workouts, my legs reacted to today's workout as if it was a full-on assault on them. I know the muscles are buried beneath a layer of base-riding pinkness but it was difficult to access them. I guess in the end, I just need to go out and do some more of these because I do, in fact, hate myself and enjoy causing myself pain because of the high I get from endorphins. I admit it, I've been living a life as a closet endorphin junky. Off to get my next fix.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Winter Solstice/The Winter Duldrums

Winter in the Mid-Atlantic has its fair share of grey dull dreary days. The beauty of the summer sun is replaced by patterns of clouds and rain and then just misty overcast days. I've spent more time the usual on the back country roads of VA these last couple weeks. It's a change from suburban MD and DC. The roads are empty and the scenery is quiet. There is a solemn pride I feel in myself when all I hear is the sound of the chain and the rolling pavement under my wheels.

Ironically, my team was once sponsored Reynolds Wheels. They made a solid product and I enjoyed riding them until one day I blew one of the wheels out. Suddenly, the company was nowhere to be found and wouldn't return my phone calls to try to warranty the wheel. Needless to say, I'm not buying their product again until someone from that company actually gets back to me. The wheel set I used was the Solitude and I found myself alone many times while using them.

When you ride alone you find yourself thinking a lot and then you find yourself a lot of the time not thinking at all. The winter weather amplifies this effect because the beauty and warmth of the Summer is gone and the grey landscape makes you feel more isolated and insular. My second training cycle ended this weekend and I'm on rest phase number two. This cycle didn't go as well as the last. I know that I'm fitter now than I was last year-- rides that lasted 3:30 hours last winter now last 3:10 and my wattage is high. However this last cycle was filled with bad weather days, scheduling upsets and annoying distractions from all angles.

So a rest phase is in place right now and in a week's time I'll be back out on the road in full force. My first race is now only a month and a couple days away. It's time to shake the cobwebs and get ready to light the fires. Time is ticking and not even the shortest days of the year can stop me now.