Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
It's turned out to be a far more active and interesting winter than I'd planned on. Instead of, like years past, wallowing in the seasonal duldrums - well, okay, maybe some of that has been happening, and that's natural - I've been stepping back, having productive discussions with myself and friends, and have kept commuting at arms-length, as opposed to constantly feeling guilty about not doing it. Combined with a sharper mental outlook on things, I seem to have maintained focused and have held my head a little higher lately. This is all good news -- and since most of you read this blog for the CYCLING, I won't go into tiresome details here. I'll save that for when you .....
Come out this spring for KCUC's brevet series!
No, really.... we even have a few 100km rides this year! Two-hundred-too-much? We hear ya... come out for our metric rides!
KCBrevets.blogspot.com Do it.
(shameless plug complete)
...and share a few miles with me, perhaps. To date, however - despite it sounding a lot like history-repeating - I have managed to get to my lowest personal weight since January of 2012, I have turned the occasional cross-training into an actual habit that I now ENJOY (running), and I have also created the habit of behaving and eating like an adult, and like a true vegetarian - as opposed to the previous mode of "just happens to not eat meat, but will eat anything with complex carbs to excess." The last nine months have found me down a terrific path -- not trying to brag, or profess that I'm somehow 'fixed' now ... there is a lot of work to be done, and I have to stay on track ... but, instead of just talking things up while doing the same old thing, the changes I had been afraid to make have been made and I'm better for it as a person. I've found myself deconstructing a lot of the repeating 'opportunities' and such, with decent results.
So, enough with the "yea, me" party. That's not what I'm here for. Part of this positive change involves no longer self-deprecating - nor self-applauding - my... uhhh... self. My name is Richie Cunningham, and this is my wife, Oprah.
What the heck are we talking about.... OH! Rides. Shall we?
The Knob Noster 200km report...
uhh, huhuhuh.... he said...
(or, "Five Years Later", the story of Neil Young's rise to stardom? No, no, no... good grief.)
|A small (ok, actually pretty big) model of a Northrop/Grumman B-2 atop a display pedestal, and lots of flags surrounding the backdrop - a little photoshop trickery, and this could have been much cooler... but, hey.|
Terry and I rolled out into the dusk, prepared for night-riding and fueled-up nicely after the brief stop in Lone Jack, MO.
(be sure to check out the Civil War battlefield site, right next to the route in Lone Jack, just south of the new services and the US-50 bridge)
Ahead of us sat the small roads, and all of the hills from the morning - waiting to finish us off, as our legs now had 115 miles or so in them. Somewhere between not being quite warmed up yet in the AM, and well after "ok, I'm ready to be done now", the best part of the route waits to test its riders. My nutritional finishing strategy in place, I beamed with confidence. No butterflies, no hesitations or reservations about that hill on Hammond Road I'd had to walk five years before. Just ride, and remember to breathe. The night air felt crisp and inviting, birds finished their evening songs, and the sounds of traffic, behind us now, faded with the last of daylight. Only the warm beams of our headlights captured our world now, which passed underneath us fast... faster! The first of the long, fast downhills... almost scary-fast in the darkness, while thrilling at the same time! I couldn't help but chuckle and hollar-out with excitement as the speeds certainly approached 50 MPH... without the computer, who knows, but WOW... concentrating all of my attention at the fringes of my headlight's reach, hands hovering above the brake levers while darkness screams past me at a million miles-per-hour. I feel ALIVE at last....
The reflective stop-sign at the bottom of the valley marks our turn, and we haul down our speed for the next leg. Up, up, up...back down... we traverse the valley floor, checking off the miles and smiling. It's a perfect night. Stars appear... lonely, silent red markers glow in the distance... our finish calling, but work to be done first... I almost wish for another 100km, so the night could last.
Another long climb - I feel energized, instead of exhausted. I feel "back"... better than last month, better than the month before... better than five years ago... I grin quietly, and stand on the pedals... that old rhythm begins a familiar burn in my legs, and my smile increases.
Checked off another one, I think to myself, as we crest the hill - and we curve around a few turns of flat roads before arriving at the turn for Hammond Road. It's pitch-dark here now, and our headlights don't shine high enough to reveal any of the details I remember from the past. The "wall" itself, looming ahead - surely my memory an optical illusion; there's no way it was THAT steep. Yet, in the tiny amount of ambient light remaining, the darkness ahead of us seemed to be capped by a "roof"... I could see a parting in the tops of the trees marked by a distinct horizontal line. It's not long, it's not even especially high... but, I catch myself looking UP at it. Maybe I hadn't magnified any of it... rubbish. It's only a hill, not a dragon.
"SHUT UP, and DO IT." rang like a gunshot across my mind, and I stood up to gain speed before the grade became unmanageable. Weirdly, I suddenly felt a bizarre drag on my wheels as I pedaled, as if I'd just ridden through mud... and looking down at the edge of my front tire, which the headlight illuminates just enough to see, it WAS mud... at least, a thin coating of what must have been sand and road treatment that had collected at the foot of the climb and had stayed wet with all the snow melt and runoff. I hadn't noticed any of this from the fast descent earlier in the day, yet, I had managed to aim right for it on the return. Whatever it was, it stole my attention and slowed my attack.
Fair enough, foul beast... I shifted rapidly, no fooling about waiting to find the last gear in the cluster... I'd need it soon enough. Remembering not to try and stand, I leaned forward and began to shove against the pedals, trying to use my entire leg, pulling on the backstroke, too. I felt a sharp grade increase, as the hill seemed to pitch upward like an exponential curve with every advancing inch forward. I pushed harder. This must've been the tipping point where I'd begun to lose traction before -- but that thought only crossed my mind now, as I type this: as the climb unfolded, my thoughts repeated a demanding mantra of various versions of DO NOT QUIT, and YOU GOT THIS. I let out an audible demand for more from myself, and then pulled out the tactics: if the pros had to do it in San Francisco, I'm doing it here -- I yanked against the handlebars and quietly hoped for no oncoming traffic as I zig-zagged to the left, hoping to ease the grade enough to maintain forward motion... all while not falling over. I carefully pitched and rolled back to the right, shoving out all I could muster, diverting all resources to my legs. My heart-rate... I could nearly feel it in my eyeballs. I actively pushed air out of my lungs and sucked it back in... I need more POWER, SCOTTY!!! Another pitch and roll, and I began to see a peek of purplish-black... the sky... the horizon.... NOT the blackness of the road in front of me... the last few feet, I'm in my own little bubble... I had energy to spare, but just. I'm over. I'm OVER... I'm OVER!!! YES!
...Anyone who has taken that hill with fewer dramatics, my hat's off to you. You're stronger than I am, and I'm okay with that. THIS, was personal... you know, like "Ghandi II," which sadly never even showed up on VHS. For me, however, that little hill is my Ventoux, my Alpe, my Koppenberg. And this time out, I got it without putting foot to pavement. Personal Win.
Gads that hurt... I freaking LOVE that hill. (HA... now.)
As good as I feel about beating my hill, it hasn't escaped my attention how silly all of this is. Yeah, I like a good story, a good drama. This hill remains tough for me, but it's certainly not a reason to avoid this route -- because, seriously, while I held a personal grudge, walking a hill once in a while is NOT the badge of shame I'd once painted it to be; never had been, and never should be. Not for myself, not for anyone else.
Sure as I am writing this, there is a local racer probably residing in Blue Springs, Independence, maybe Grain Valley proper, who has tamed that hill down to a non-event. Heck, there's probably dozens of guys and gals that are trying to figure out what the heck I'm blathering about on this "Hammond Road" they know so well. This is ME, only me... and your miles may vary. Give the Knob Noster route a chance, because MAN it's a great section of road these last/first seven miles.
For me, though, in this moment: same hill, same bike, five years later... I can't lie, it feels good.
After such a crescendo and microcosm of personal triumph, what else IS there? Oh...yeah. I may as well have crossed the finishing tape, personally, but still more riding remained. I stopped at the top of the hill - just on the short portion before the long descent on the western side begins, to wait for Terry's arrival and to catch my breath... also, good timing for a nature break in the quiet darkness. After a few moments, Terry and I flew back down to what seemed like "sea level" in the valley below, and turned onto Corn Road again to wrap up the last half-dozen miles. Another moderate climb, and then a terrific, long, fast downhill rush -- SO much awesome! --- to the short jog back to the last road, the road to the finish. This final road has a few climbs of its own, and now, instead of feeling defeated and sluggish I dished out more spirited climbing and spinning along. I can't remember finishing a 200km ride with so much left in the tank and such a good outlook; I felt ready to grab another permanent card and hit the route again for a nice, even 400k. Such a great night... why not?
Instead, coming to my senses, Terry and I finished strong, grabbed a cold chocolate milk for recovery, and called it a day. Ahhhhh, success... and a terrific edition of February. Things are looking up. Maybe all I needed was a little shake-up, a little positivism, and to lay off the junk food for a while. More, in this case, is better... and you can bet the new outlook and nutrition plan will stay well in place this time around. It's the lifestyle I prefer, because I feel better all around - not just in the saddle. I'm very much in touch with that now... and when "whatever" occurs that would derail me, I'm ready to face it. Game on.
This blog is about to get boring. That's great news.
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
It has come to my attention that Feedly, a popular feed reader for Android and Apple in the wake of the old Google Reader, hasn't updated any posts for this site since the Mighty Peculiar post back in November. I'm looking onto a solution, as its likely a known issue. Of course, if you're using Feedly, you won't see this anyways. Aw, heck.
Stay tuned . . .