Little Moments

I was hanging out with a friend a few weeks ago. He works at a school, and he was talking about something that they were working on teaching the kids about when writing.
You see kids tend to tell sporadic parts of a story, and maybe focus just a little. So, they have been teaching these kids to focus on one single part of a story and describe that part in detail.

I though this was a cool concept. The part that tripped me out though was that my friend had just now started applying that to his own life – but instead of describing things in details, it was more that he was taking the time to notice “the little Moments” that make life so great.

I was floored. You mean you haven’t been doing that already?

For me some of my favorite things were those ‘little moments’ that you couldn’t describe, nor photograph (another of my hobbies). It is the little moments that if you try to explain it to someone, you end up telling them, “I guess you just had to be there”.

Some of my favorite and most memorable are:

Climbing up the 18% grade of Winding Stair in Winter. During Winter, all the leaves are down, so you can see through the trees at the Mountains that you usually can’t see during the summer – it is like a totally different view. A cool aspect of it too me was that a picture will not come out very well b/c you have to look through the trees to actually see the view. You have to be there to appreciate it!

While out on a Winter Bike League ride, it was about 45 degrees out. We stopped at a ‘mid-ride’ store-stop. It started to rain. A guy walks up to the ride leader (we call him Pops and asks “What is the quickest way back to Athens?” Without missing a beat, Pops says “With Us”. You see we were all in it together. There was no rain-check. Pedaled out & you gotta pedal home.

Find those little moments of Life, recognize them when they happen & appreciate them!
Did you make a random stranger smile?
Did you do something just to surprise someone when they didn’t expect it?
Did you make a friends day?

Did you make a quick connection with a random stranger?

I remember once I was driving home along a 4 lane highway. I looked over and saw a little old lady sitting in the back seat looking very melancholy, so I smiled and waved at her. She sat up in her seat and gave me a Big smile as she waved back. It was just a little moment, but I’m not sure who it had a bigger impact on.

Go out and make some memorable “little” moments, you may just find out that they have Great impact on you and even Greater impact on others!

cycling essentials

I’m sure there has there been a list made of cycling essentials, but I figured I would go over some of the things that I have recently been putting together due to some of my recent 6-7 mt bike, hiking, exploring adventures.

This is a list that I think is more first-aid, emergency oriented rather than the usual ‘how to make a repair and get home’ list of repair items.

Some of these things I wouldn’t necessarily carry for a quick trip around the local trails where you may see 5-10 other riders. This is more of what I pack when I go on adventures looking for trails that most other cyclists do not know about.

On some of my rides I only see military Rangers in training. Most of the time I see no one else except for maybe a couple people near where I park. Usually I see more wild-life than anything else.

1. Water tablets/water filter – Hydration is 1 of the most important things.

currently water filters are about $70+ and weigh almost a pound. So, I am carrying some tablets instead. I have had to use them before.

2. Benedryl – For the 3rd time just this weekend I had to pull out some benedryl for someone who just got stung by a bee, on the lip. A sting from the neck up can be a serious problem for someone that has an allergic reaction. Being able to quickly take a benedryl can minimize the risk. Usually the second thing to happen is a restricted air passage. I would rather someone take 1 of my benedryl, then have something serious happen.

3. compression bandage – this is the stuff for a serious cut/gash. Many of us get scrapes and bruises, but this stuff is for a more serious cut that could occur after a fall. These are pretty easy to find at a pharmacy.

4. para-cord or similar string – I know that many people are wearing the para-chord bracelets, but if you are really in the outback wilderness, there can be many uses for such an item. Tying a splint to hold a broken bone in place or a twisted ankle, tie a sling in case someone breaks a collarbone, tie down broken shoe straps, tie down things onto your pack.

Originally designed for paratroopers, paracord is a kernmantle rope: a braided sheath over a bundle of seven inner cords. This mantle makes paracord very resistant to abrasion. 550 paracord is rated for 550 pounds: 300 pounds for the sheath and 35 pounds for each strand. The cords can be removed from the sheath and divided into two strands if finer string is needed.

Read more: Uses for 550 Paracord | eHow.com

5. chem-light – this is something I watched the rangers use. They store for a long period, but you just pop the middle and they light up. This is a great tool if you get lost and people are attempting to find you. I wouldn’t say that it doubles as a flashlight by any means, although if tied to a walking stick (as I’ve seen the Rangers do) it may aid you if you are walking.

6. multi-tool – I know most Mt bikers carry a cyclist specific multi, but I also carry a regular leather-man multi-tool. They have pliers, knife, screw drivers, file, etc.

7. compass or compass app. Although I have a good sense of direction and figuring out which way I need to be going – I usually do so based on the sun positioning. I have a back-up plan though – a Free compass App on my phone.

8. Another ‘smart’ phone app is MyTracks When exploring I currently use MyTracks – and I try to remember to keep my phone is ‘airport’ mode to save battery.

Racing too seriously

Today I was thinking back over my several years of racing and I was thinking about one of the years I raced the US100K just outside Atlanta, GA.

Here we were rolling along on a fairly hilly course, most of us running a 54 up front ‘Just in case’ we got near the frantic downhill sprint – all the while because the real Pro’s were in town we were going around this course that we didn’t need the 39 up front. Rollin’ it!

I was thinking back to a year that the whole Saturn team was there, they were laughing it up. Talking to each other across the whole pack, even though they were fairly spread out in the group.

I remember one year when I was laughing it up with a buddy of mine. Asking him “does this group do this ride very often?”, “want some of my banana?”. I mean here we were, tucked into the draft doing about 30, and I’m making jokes.

I got thinking about how years before then, how focused I would be on rides. I wouldn’t even talk to anyone because “I was training”. I wasn’t worried about getting dropped, I was worried about who was ‘up the road’, I was worried about where I should attack!

Yet, years later, I guess I started to realize that even if I got dropped, or even if I didn’t ‘make that break’, it wasn’t the end of my cycling. Maybe I even started to realize that I was near the top of my fitness level – unless someone was going to suddenly start paying me or I started to dope – neither of which was going to happen!

One of the things that always stuck out in my mind was how you could do 1 group ride a week, and chat with one person each time – and pick up the conversation, right where you left off last time. Bumping into friends (literally) from out of state that you haven’t seen all Winter.

I guess that realization started to lower the stress and the pressure that I had been putting on myself. I started to enjoy my fitness level, and enjoying my friends in the field. Those were some of the best years of racing that I had. It wasn’t the races, it wasn’t the miles and miles of training, it was the people that were around you while you are doing those things that in the end impact your memories the most.

A win is great, but mutual cycling friends is greater.

How to get odor out of cycling clothes

This has been quite a mystery for me for several years, and I have tried multiple products along the way, but still once I’m sweating then my cycling clothes stink.

Some of the things that I was trying (scented detergent, oxy-clean, fabric softeners, drier sheets) always seemed to be only temporary masks and the ammonium odor used to come back. Usually what I notice the most is my gloves when I wiped sweat from my brow.

Cause: Ammonium odor usually means that you are burning muscle, which is caused by a lack of glycogen (sugar) to use as fuel. This often happens when you are riding at intense heart rate for extended period of time – like a fast group.

What we have found is that if you wash your cycling gear with hot water – Double Rinse them and do NOT use any fragrant products & NO clothes softeners. They are merely a temporary mask & as soon as you start sweating again, the softeners attract the scent molecules and attach to them. This causes the odor to stick around longer.

Any other helpful tips, just throw in a comment below, Thanks!!

never ride at the front

I have said it, and I see that others are posting articles or info about it. The problem is maybe too many people are taking it too far.

Do not ride on the front should not be confused with NEVER ride at the front.

Too many people seem to just sit-in – on ever ride, year around. Bah!
Too many people never do any work – whether they are afraid they will get dropped, feel they aren’t strong enough.

Sometimes you need to move, do something, stir things up. Sometimes that is for the group & sometimes that is just for yourself & your training.

It’s interesting how the group dynamic of a ride can change – week to week and sometimes during a single ride.
Not long ago, at the ‘Wednesday night World’s’ the group was being shy. There were only a few people rotating & it was often that if you rotated you would have to sit on the front for awhile before someone else would come around.

What happens next is that the stronger riders and/or opportunists attacks the group. Sometimes this is enough to stir things up, sometimes the ride will continue along in the same manner watching that person increase the gap until they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As this keeps happening all the stronger riders & some opportunists are ahead on the road and there isn’t enough people strong enough or willing to work to bring them back.

I watched this happen a couple times and tried to shake things up myself by rolling past the group on a downhill and along the uphill on the other side – what this caused was the group finally sped up and started getting more aggressive.

Remember, “Don’t ride on the front” is different from “Never ride on the Front” there are good reasons to rotate and pull-through, and there are good reasons not too. Sometimes the group is hammering along and you should conserve your energy for later. Sometimes you should rotate just to get others to rotate also, sometimes it is to keep the group going.

One of the best ‘team blocks’ I had ever witnessed was by Scotty Weiss – we were racing a 1Km pan flat crit in N.C. His team mate jumped the pack with another racer and they were rolling up the road – well most team mates would go to the front and soft pedal or not even pedal at all – but not these guys, Scotty went to the front and kept the field going at a steady pace. He knew if the group slowed down too much there would be attacks and his team mate would have less chance of winning the race. So, he kept the pace slow enough that his teammate was still going faster than the group, yet just fast enough that no one would attempt to attack the group! At that time I was a fresh Pro1,2 rider and at first I was bewildered that his own team mate was on the front doing the pace-making. It took me about 5 laps before I realized the plan.

Most everyone knows the basic tactics, but when you can mix things up that is when you are racing intelligently!

2011 Christmas eve ride

This year was a bitter sweet Christmas eve ride as we enjoyed our time together on the trails.
We got the dogs out for a short ride before most folks showed up, then headed out for the group ride around 11am. There was a bunch of climbing, and we ended up exploring an unknown trail which ended up looping us back around to mid-climb, then we got to bomb back down the trail again – good times!

We had a water crossing that had no bridge – w/ a smart phone in my pocket, I figured it was safer to walk than take a $200+ dunk/phone renewal.

Post ride we hung out with our friends and the dogs, and remembered our friend Jeff.

Good times with Great friends!

Hope you have very Happy Holidays and enjoy time spent with friends and family!!

2012 Winter weather forecast

The Farmers Almanac has finally released their predictions for the U.S. 2012 Winter weather conditions. As always, this is just predictions fluctuations will occur.

As usual, it looks like the South-West U.S. has some of the best winter training weather.

The Northeast is predicted to have average temps, but be very stormy.

For here in the Southeast the forecast calls for a mild winter, Cold and dry initially, then scattered showers. This doesn’t mean that it will not be cold this winter, just that it should not be as severe as what it was last year. This will allow for an uptick in the pace of the early season packs as many cyclists will be able to train outside together, increasing their speed in the early season races.

Florida looks to have the best winter weather in the Southeast – dryer than normal and mild winter temperatures.

“If the weather is a common reason for missing workouts then achieving high goals is unlikely.” ~Joe Friel

Farmer’s Almanac 2012 Winter Weather forecast.

Here is a more detailed Southeastern forecast

Scattered showers in the Spring will still have cyclists inside on the trainer. Let’s face it being below 40 degrees and wet makes riding the trainer seem like a good idea! Here are 2x a week for 12 weeks worth of Wind-trainer workouts that will get you through those rainy days indoors. These workouts can be done on the Windtrainer or outside!

Bike WindTrainer

These workouts will make you

1) Leaner!
2) faster!
3) stronger!

What to expect:
-Heart rate based intervals of varying length and time each week.

-Steady state intervals for climbing and Time Trialing

-Individual Leg Training (ILT) for forming perfect pedaling circles

-Spin-Ups to increase leg speed

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Get all this:

$28.95 5 things for Fat Loss and weight management: – FREE!
$28.95 Stretching and flexibility for increased aero-dynamics – FREE!
$28.95 Four things for Stronger Cycling, training phases – FREE!
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Winter Bike League Maysville 2011

You know that Winter is about to cast her steely grip across the US when anybody whose is a cyclist rushes to Athens, GA to join into the Winter Bike League. They go in hopes of Fame and fortune that but a few have been able to attain, the stories of which have never been told – unless several adult beverages have been consumed.

Mineral Man and StrongerCyclist

I got a call from the Mighty Mineral Man himself, telling me that he was returning to grand form & was making preparations to rip the legs off any non battled hardened cyclists that dare forget his story. It had been a mere seven years since Mineral Man and your’s truly left their own mark in the Archives of the WBL.

As I do every year, I re-read last years WBL report . This year I was determined that my lack of mileage (from recovering from a recent Mt bike crash) wasn’t going to be the source of my suffering.
Greenville WBLer Derek.

Luckily, I talked my friend Derek into coming from Greenville to the original WBL & luckily he gave me 2 NUUN tablets at the start. I also filled up 2 flasks full of Hammer Gel, a clif bar, and a secret weapon, a pack of pop-tarts – yeah, I’m going old skool! I wasn’t going to let a lack of nutrition keep me from holding onto the front group.

WBL start Dec3, 2011

As the ride gently rolled out of town, everyone was all chatter and festive, seeing old friends, meeting new friends. Little did I realize the depth of the days field, but why would that surprise me? this is the WBL! I saw some great riders, a @Team Type1 rider, 2 Team Mountain Kakis riders, a Real Cyclist.com, Jered Gruber, Clay Parks, Hammerin’ HillBilly, FarmerG, the PACK SHOUTER, old motorcycle racers, and a score of cyclists that race! It was a stacked, packed, jacked field of 2 wheeled craziness about to embark on a slugfest. As we rolled outta town, you could tell everyone was giddy with anticipation!

Then, came the rolling hills. At the mid-field riders were being made into diamonds via the intense pressure of the leaders. All you can hear is the weazing wind of those putting in monumental efforts to keep themselves with the herd. As I looked up I realized that we were only half way up this roller and you have to pay attention as riders start to fall off the pace.

Pack is spread out on 2nd lap

I see a couple riders swerve around and then suddenly see why, 1 gal was lost in her personal hurt locker, I checked traffic, played frogger and eased over and became a pusher. I geared down, and asked if she wanted a push, when she looked over her shoulder I realized it was her weazing I heard. She was nearly hyper-ventilating. I got the two of us up to the same speed, but we still had a ways to get over this hill, and now I’m nearly weazing also. PUSH! Finally, I got her onto the flats, let her catch her breathe, and the ride continued along.

Once at the store stop, I filled the bottles, popped in the extra Nuun tablet, ate on a smore pop-tart and checked in with the Mineral Man & Gainesville fella’s. So far, so good! But as the group was knocking out the 2nd half of the ride, the rollers were back. Funny how you can’t remember much about a route, but once you are hurting you can realize this is where the hurt was put to you last time. We were on a skyward ascent, under I-85 when I had deja-vue. I dug down and my quads were talking to me, but I was able to throttle enough to keep my placing in the pack.

By now, I’m going through my second flask of gel. The quads and hamstrings are mumbling, but no mutiny yet. Onward, we march. I take every chance to throttle my pace. After each surge ahead of me, I catch up slowly – no big efforts. And no one is in any hurry to get around me either. Everyone is suffering.

Finally we round a corner and I realize we are just outside Athens, and have 2 climbs left. But the first climb I loathe. It is somewhat short, but man is it steep. Suddenly the pack starts to move all over the road nearly everyone is out of the saddle, rocking their bikes. Again, I make it with the group, and my mood improves, Athens is on a hill, and now that is the only hill left. Post ride Food and Beer awaits!

Interesting to hear the stories when your done and finally relaxing. Man, was I suffering when we were going past that white picket fence. “yeah, I remember that fence, that section SUCKED!”

You are suffering? Remember everyone is hurting, you just have to hurt just a little more to stay with them!
Most races come down to 3-5 minutes of who can suffer the most and that often determines the winner.

cycling app strava and mytracks review

Strava vs. MyTracks Droid apps for tracking your cycling.
UPDATED:

I liked MyTracks for a long time, but to me it seemed to use too much of my battery (more on this later). MyTracks was very useful as I was learning some new Mt biking trails in North Georgia. I found that I could take it off ‘satellite’ put it on ‘map’ mode it would download my location much faster.

climbing Cherohala skyway

But as the summer cycling season was starting to reach it’s peak and I was doing group road rides, I found Strava and started trying it out. I really started enjoying it’s features.

Strava can be Fun. You input some data about you and your bike (from which it will estimate your wattage). Then record your ride via GPS, once you finish and save the ride, it quickly uploads. Then it will show you how you did on various climbs on a social network – Strava.com, compared to others in your area that have done the same rides or climbs – whether or not you are following them.

This can be Fun, challenging and give you new goals to push yourself for. Get a PR or even best some of the riders in your area. I have to admit, I did a couple rides this summer with no other intention than bettering my time on a couple climbs during a group ride.

But suddenly this weekend a glaring difference was found and now, I am mixed between the two apps and will keep both on my phone – but for totally different reasons!

Strava2

I made my way to an area of Mt biking trails that I had never been before. So while I was getting prepped, I did my usual of turning on Strava, and my dog Apollo and I hit the trails…. only Apollo was tired from a fun dog day on the farm. I though we would knock out 5-6 miles, like we usually do – he barely made it 2.

Suddenly I was in the middle of unknown area of trails, and needed to get back to the car along the shortest route possible. I went back to the Strava app, but all it would show me was our ride time and our pace. I attempted to figure the best possible route and forged onward. Apollo was getting more tired, we stopped again & I re-evaluated. And then suddenly I remembered MyTracks.

my_tracks_android

The reason that I went back to MyTracks is that during the ride, it will give you a map of where you are & a red line indicating where you have been. This makes it much easier which direction you are going on the map, and figure out which way you need to go. Both apps allow you to view where you have been on a map from a computer, but only MyTracks allows you to view that map while you are riding.

Although I do like both apps, I now really feel that they both have a separate purpose that (for now) neither can fulfill.

MyTracks is Great if you are exploring or you realize you are lost & attempting to get back to where you started.

Strava is Great to compare and keep up with how you are doing along a route, against yourself or others.
With Strava you can review the map after the ride.

Bonus Tip: Strava and I think MyTracks can both be turned on for a minute to ensure satellite connection then, you can put your phone into airplane mode to save battery!

See my previous post about MyTracks

While recording using MyTracks, you can:

1. See location / progress on a map
2. Monitor real-time statistics: time, distance, speed, elevation
3. Create waypoints
4. Create statistics waypoints (splits tracks into subtracks)

UPDATE:
Thanks to the comment below, I have successfully uploaded .gpx files from MyTracks onto my computer, then uploaded them onto Strava.com.
Although this is more of a pain due to the extra steps, it is good work-around.

Why cyclists shave their legs

I have often been asked why cyclists shave their legs. There are actually several reasons – usually not what most non-cyclist figure.

7) It is not due to aero-dynamics, that actually has the least to do with it, although it may have a psychological benefit.

6) There is a rumor that if you have hair on you legs and have a crash, then it will actually pull off more skin than if there is no hair – I can’t say if it is true or not.

5) Tradition: There is a certain amount of peer-pressure – your not a serious road cyclist until you start shaving your legs.

4) The easier it is to clean road-rash the less likely it will get infected.

3) Yes, I do it because I ride a lot, and honestly I like the aesthetics of it.

2) A big reason that I shaved my legs was because I have been sponsored by several massage therapists at different times, and it is MUCH easier on them to massage legs that are shaved.

1) The main reason that cyclist shave their legs is that when you do crash, it is much easier to clean the wound and to apply bandages.

Some of my friends will remember a crash that I had. I was racing a Pro,1,2 race around a neighborhood – well, the race promoter decided to place an Orange Cone over a particular man-hole cover that was in the middle of the lane that we were racing. On the 2nd lap of this race, the field ahead of me suddenly split and the gent ahead of me suddenly swerved, leaving me to take full impact into the cone. I was suddenly ejected from the saddle, over the handle-bars in a awkward half super-man. I landed on my right arm, which was tucked into my side, so full body-weight grinding into asphalt. I ended up having to shave the area on my arm that was around the wounds in order to get them cleaned out, and to get bandages to stay on.

I have crashed a couple of other times, and it is much easier to clean the wound and stick on and take off bandages if the area has already been shaved.

Crashing sucks, but having the area shaved makes for easier clean-up – and massages are Awesome, so I’m still a shaver.