Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why I don't Race Anymore.....

Two weekends ago two friends and myself participated in the TOSRV (Tour Of The Sciota River Valley). 2 days of riding between Columbus and Portsmouth Ohio, which covers 105 miles each day. We had a really good time and road hard the whole time averaging 20mph for both days.

The ride is very well supported with food stops every 25-30 miles, loaded with the perfect mix of food. Of course when planning or participating in such an event as this, you must be prepared for any type of situation or weather. Also, being that there is no SAG support provided, except for emergency situations, you must also be physically and mentally prepared for said weather or situations.

Day one was near perfect weather ranging form the mid 60's to 70's with a slight breeze. We headed out of Columbus setting a moderate pace, gradually ramping it up as we went along. The three of us pretty much kept to our little group with the occasional person catching our wheels along the way.We rolled into Portsmouth @ around 1:30.

Day two brought the challenge of rain. It started sometime during the late night as I remember being awakened by the rain tapping on our tent. We awoke Saturday morning to 62 degrees and a steady rain. Fortunately there was a dry place to get dressed and we had covered our bicycle seats the night before so we were able to at least start out the first few minutes of the ride dry. I know, what good was covering the seats, when we were going to be in the rain all day. I dont know, but there is just something pleasing to the psyche to start out in dry clothes and a dry seat.

We finished up the day at just about the same time on Saturday,except for the fact that we spent far lest time socializing @ the food stops. With temperatures hovering at around 62 with rain, it does not take long for the cold to creep in and weekend your spirit.

So you might ask....

What does any of this have to do with me not racing anymore?

When participation in events such as this, especially one that has been going on for over 50 years, you encounter a very diverse group of cyclists. Young, old, fit, not so fit, racers and people training for longer trips. I actually road the entire ride with a RAAM finisher and road a portion of the second day with another. So after leaving the 50 mile stop, we just started out easy. This was also lunch so we set a digestive pace and slowly ramped things back up. @ about 5 or so we had come up onto a fairly large group of riders and were just starting to work our way through them as another group of racer types approached from behind.

This was surely a testerone laden group, as they were hell ben on getting by and through this other group at any cost. Weather cars were approaching or not. during this particular waylay, a couple of them had to dart out of the way of oncoming traffic and cut me off. So at this point it occurred to me it might be fun to chase and see what kind of fun we may have. This is also a point in the course where there are many rolling hills, which played to our advantage, as being form SWPA hills are a major part of any outing.

So we took of quickly catching and passing many of these riders by the top of the first climb. We soon caught the rest and passed them before the top of the second climb. It became readily apparent that we could easily allow them to stay with or slightly ahead of us then quickly overtake them on the hills.This little reindeer game went on for quite a while until things leveled off and we all just started riding together until we came to a place where we had to yeald for traffic before we could carry on.

This is the point where my heart decided that it did not want to play anymore. Ever since my ablation I have been able to ride as hard as I want so long as I keep the pace steady and my heart-rate consistent. However when racing or riding such as we just has been your heart-rate can be all over the place. In my case, during this 30 or so minute interval, it had been from 160 to 188 and everywhere in between. Which may have been ok if we had not had to come to a complete stop immediately following.

The recovery period after hard efforts was always a trigger for my AFFib in the past, and even since my ablation can occasionally still set my heart atwitter so to speak. So I soft pedaled the next couple of miles to the next food stop and allowed my heart to settle down., Which it did after a fairly short period of time. I did however take my PIP just to make sure things stayed that way.

(The arrowed portion shows my HR OOC) 
Notice the jump from below 160 to near and over 200 then back to below 120 when I converted.

That all being said I still love to push myself on the bike. And maybe someday I will start doing time trials, as they require more of a steady effort. At this point I am very pleased with the results of my ablation, though I believe that I will one day have to go back for a touch up procedure.To either eliminate what ever it is that has either reconnected, or that they missed during the first procedure.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Best Grapefruit I Ever Ate......

Over the years I have covered many miles on the bike. And every so often a ride, or part of a ride will remind me of yet another ride form the past. Thursday eveing was not exception..

Andy Matt and I headed out to the power plant, which in itself covers real estate that is very  familiar, but this particular evening I turned onto a road we rarely ride. Even more rarely in this particular direction. It instantly propelled me back several years to a ride I did with  slacker extraordinaire "Nicoll" and "Brat Brainiac" (Bret Barronak.

We had headed out in the heat of the day for a long hard ride. We were long from home when food and water became a premium and once we got within 20 miles form home everything was pretty much depleted. As we were riding along I noticed this big round bulge in  "Brats" center jersey pocket. As we rode along I inquired of "Brat" about the growth in the center of his back. He truned and smiled and said, wait a little bit, we are all going to really be happy I brought this along."

So we trudged along till we were about 8 miles from home. As we turned on to this not so familiar road to me at the time, he reached around and pulled a very large Pink Grapefruit form his pocket. I must say that Nicoll and I were both elated at the view. "Brat" then proceeded to peal and divide up the grapefruit between us.

To this day I have never eaten a grapefruit that was as satisfying or delicious as the one that day.

Friday, March 30, 2012


When I purchased this framed poster some 20 years ago I did so because it spoke to me. Not so much as it had cyclists on it but the message below the cyclists. "There Is No Substitute For Hard Work".

There has never been a statement so true, in sports or in life.  And work does not specifically apply to 9-5 it applies to plain old living as well. 

Now don't misunderstand  me. Perseverance does not guarantee success in everything you do in life, but it will propel you through it. It can allow you to achieve that which you thought was unattainable or lead you in the direction you need to go. 

It can even help you to overcome obsticals others see and turn from, or carry you through the toughest times and allow you to become an inspiration to those that see it. It will make you a better Husband , wife, friend, employee or student. It is aplicable in every aspect of life.

Throughout my life I have known many people that are great examples of the benefits Perseverance. So here are a couple examples. 

The first and one of the most recent being my wife. Who despite working full time and helping maintain a household, was able to complete her BSN in the same amount of time most students do with nothing else to do in their lives but study.

Another would be my good friend Scott. Having been injured in a train accident and losing an arm, he decided not to feel sorry for himself but to continue to live his life as if he had both arms. He is currently racing for the Paralyzed Veterans Racing Team.

Of course if you have been keeping up with this site you know I have had my own obsticals to overcome.

I could list many more but I believe I have made my point. So get out there and do something. Live your life to the fullest and when time get tough, or you dont think you can go the distance, put your heart into it and go for it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thanks Mark

For those of you that know me, this heading may send your mind reminiscing to the days of old. When a group of rag tag cyclists, some racers some not from Indiana County, regularly put a team together to participate in the Tour De Strongland. bike race. Yes that was actually the name of our team one year, "Team Thanks Mark". One of many off the wall names. It actually got to the point where the race promoter would just call us those guys from Indiana. 

Now there may be other reasons for that. Not the least of which was the year of infamy. The year we actually took the traveling trophy home for the year. The year I know the Strongland Chamber of Commerce, reluctantly put our team name on the trophy. You see this particular year was a year that everyone will remember to this day. A year of slow speed police chases. The year an American icon, A professional football player and hack actor, would be accused of murder. The year an infamous lawyer would make a name for himself with a tag line, "If the glove's don't fit, you must acquit". the year a complete police precinct would be turned upside down. I digress.

So as usual this particular year we show up for the race and have yet to pick a name for ourselves. So after having gone through the usual litany of  names that would never make the cut, one team mates wife says, "Why don't you guys call yourselves The Flying Fuhrman Four". So there it was, we looked at each other , laughed and filled out the paperwork. Needless to say at the awards ceremony, that is always painfully late and long, they refused to call us by our team name, and just referred to us as those guys form Indiana. And that is how it would be for years to come.


Back to the reason for the original heading.

It is not often you get 70 degree sunny days in early March. Lets face it, here in PA we only get about 50 blue sky days a year, so one must take advantage when they can. So of course a ride was in order. So I made plans with a couple of friends to get out after work. One could go early and one a little later. So I devised a plan to do a short 15 miler with the one friend then meet up with the other to go for a longer ride, reaching for the 50 mile mark for the day.

I've been seriously lacking in saddle time this year and figured this the perfect plan to get some good long tempo riding in. So Matt and I headed out at a good even pace. The winds were not too bad, compared to what they have been lately and of course the weather was perfect. We cruised around the first 15 miles without a hitch. As we rounded the bend to where we were to meet our 3rd rider I see a 4th. A familiar face to me, and immediately knew that my steady tempo ride was about to turn into a hammer fest, wrought with reign-deer games.

There sits Mark, a guy that I have spent countless hours with on the bike. Riding places on our road bikes that most would cringe at. No winter maintenance was our battle cry. A gravel road, a good excuse to find out where it went. Bad weather, no problem. So I knew I was in for some major pain.

So after some niceties we were off again, like a shot out of a cannon. It was not bad at first as I had a 15 mile warm up. Attacking the first climb, then ramping up the speed on the decent, only to catch the draft of a pickup and accelerate even more. But as the ride progressed, my lack of mileage for the year started to show, and Mark loves to take advantage of such situations, so he never let up for the entire ride. Needless to say my legs were thrashed at the end but in a good way.