Saturday, December 27, 2008

On Rainbows and Group Rides

Cartman: Eh. I hate those things.
Kyle: Nobody hates rainbows.
Stan: Yeah. What's there to hate about rainbows?
Cartman: Well, you know. You'll just be sitting there, minding your own business, and they'll come marching in, and crawl up your leg, and start biting the inside of your ass, and you'll be all like, "Hey! Get out of my ass you stupid rainbows!"
Stan: Cartman, what the hell are you talking about?
Cartman: I'm talking about rainbows. I hate those friggin' things!
Kyle: Rainbows are those little arches of color that show up after a rainstorm.
Cartman: Oh. RainBOWS. Yeah, I like those. Those are cool.
Stan: What were you talking about?
Cartman: Huh? Oh nothing. Forget it.
Kyle: No. What marches in, crawls up your leg---
Cartman: Nothing.
Kyle: ---and starts biting the inside of your ass?
Cartman: Nothing!

I had to share makes me laugh every time. I remembered it earlier today when at a light with a group of friends going out for a group ride. I pointed to the patch of rainbow covered pavement to illustrate the dangerous phenomena that occurs when the perfect storm of a pool of motor oil which has leaked out of a car onto the road combines with rain...the oil comes to the surface and acts as a frictionless launchpad for the unsuspecting. Been doing 25 mph into a 90 degree left turn, seen the rainbow of death and had the bike disappear out from beneath me and then felt the all too familiar warmth of friction as my ass acts as a brake on asphalt...thank God for second skin. Hmmm...I managed to work rainbows and my ass into the same paragraph...

I've really been enjoying the group training I've been doing lately. It has been so diverse and truly beneficial to everyone involved. This Wednesday I made up for the 'Threshold Thursday' ride I knew I wouldn't get in due to the Christmas day...I did 40' at threshold in the basement before heading to the store. It's amazing how much more difficult this is to do solo...not to mention indoors. I have certainly benefited as much from doing my threshold workout in a group as anyone else. For me, I simply cannot pussie out, as there are 5-8 others looking for me to lead the ride..the coach can't bail. We all settle into our places quickly after the first 5'. Some ride beside me for a while, pulling ahead at times, while others draft for the workout's entirety...a third group drops off and continues to push themselves in pursuit of our faster group...everyone gets what they need out of the ride...fantastic.

Christmas day was another group ride for me...Don, George, Dee and Donna headed out with me for 2.5 hrs. easily before family time...again, a great ride for all. George and I discussed our strategy for 2009 looks like I'll ride with George in the Pro-123 field in the Spring series, as doing the 3-4 race after dominating it wholly last year offers little challenge for him...this isn't to say I won't be racing for myself as well, just that I will do so in the interest of helping George acquire wins. We encouraged Don to get his upgrade to Cat 3 to join us as his considerable strength will be a huge asset in our races. So, we'll have a squad fighting out for upgrade points in the 3-4 race so that they can join George and me. For Dee and Donna, it was solid base miles for these two super strong women on the comeback trail.

The day after Christmas was a 56 mile steady ride with bro Matt & the Kreb boys from Bellport. Chris J. and I caught up on the bike biz (even though Chris crashed on black ice!) while we noodled around the middle of the island. Almost 3 hrs. at 240W NP was to chat with Jeff C. about his training a bit and how to structure his tapering and peaking a bit better with use of his PMC in Cyclingpeaks. He is a smart dude, having figured so much out on his own...I shudder to think how strong he will be once he starts finding his best legs on race day instead of 4 days after his goal race!

Today was the aforementioned group ride from Sayville. A cool 2 hrs. up the Head of the Harbor and back home...again 240W NP and perfect prior to my Trevor Ride tomorrow. Funny that...the best thing about these group rides is what we discuss post ride over a drink. Today's topic was how, while we always must enjoy what we are doing first, we also shouldn't waste a moment of our training time, as we have chosen to dedicate a portion of our finite time on this Earth to sport, so we may as well go as fast as possible!

Well, that's enough babble for this Cartman might say 'I'm going home'.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Walk

I get up every morning between 6:00 and 6:20, head to the can, weigh my sorry ass (my weight never fluctuates more than 3 lbs., despite my unhealthy obsession with it), hobble awkwardly with tin-man limberness down to the kitchen where my lovely wife, who has already heard the toilet flush, has poured my first cup of dark brown life blood. I take my first two or three gulps and slowly regain the ability to speak, not only in English, but with other human beings (one of which, unfortunately for her and for her family, possesses her father's AM disposition yet, has not become acquainted with my Columbian elixir) with genuine concern and curiosity regarding how they are handling life's/middle school's challenges. Their moods and body language are 'tells', as poker players would say...I know whether it's a quiz day, as opposed to a test day, whether things are going well with their friends, and if I really pay attention to the small details, if there is expected to be an opportunity to be seen by someone in particular...though, I would never dare mention it! I use these signs to gauge whether it's time do some character building or time to just hug 'em.

At some point, I head back up the stairs for one of about two different reasons and it is then that I know, with near certainty, whether my legs are 'ready' for the planned workout for the day. There are 'the days of grace' where I bound up them, knowing that there will be 'no chain' today. There are the days where I know that necessary will be a longer warm up, but that the legs will 'be good'...and I know the days that I'm glad it's a rest day or when an unscheduled one is necessary. I have often wished that I could literally walk up those stairs every day for every one of the athletes that I look after, so that I could make the very best decision for that individual each and every day. With most though, through listening to their voices, through reading their words very carefully, and ideally seeing their body language, I find that I do get to do the next best thing to taking 'the walk' with them.

There is a 'night and day' difference between an athlete burying himself to get through a session that he dragged himself out the door to do and one in which he was eager and he had to hold himself back from going too hard during. Templates don't take this into account...they cannot. It's funny to me that other 'coaches' take shots at my anal collecting of data, but then when we're alone, ask me questions about how I'm helping so-and-so get so much faster. I do try to explain, as I feel for them and their athletes and genuinely believe that the way coaches are perceived, as a whole, affects me too. What they fail to realize though, or refuse to commit themselves to, is that the numbers provide the 'GPS' of where we've been and that together with the record of how the body felt at different points along the way, during the daily 'walk' if you will, is the very blueprint of how to get an athlete to 'perform' at their very best when you want them to...when they want to.