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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thou shalt not bring thine bicycle into the hospital

I took Monday off from riding.  I stopped on my way home from work at Ride Away Bikes to pick up my new helmet mirror from Ed.  I always enjoy hanging out at a bike shop.  Jason and Ed at Ride Away are pretty entertaining guys.  I'm the kind of guy who bike shops hate because I'll hang out for a while and chat without buying anything.  On the other hand, I'm the kind of guy who will go into a bike shop but not actually be shopping.  Bike shops should be social centers as well as commercial enterprises.  My opinion, take it or leave it.

On this occasion I picked up the mirror and a new jersey from the shop to support the LBS.  I also found a great gift for my dad.


There were three single malt scotch jerseys to choose from and I emailed pictures to see which he preferred.  This was the winner.  He also sent a selfie taken at that moment of him post ride with a bottle of Lagavulin 16.  68 years old and taking selfies, riding his bike, enjoying life!


Selfie: Dad making the most of retirement.  The prescription Rudy Project frames had to get sent in for repairs so he's stuck with the Bolles for a bit.

 Some advice from the old man- Bowmore 10 is better than Bowmore 12.  Some advice I got while living in the UK: when you are in Scotland it's called whiskey not scotch.

From the bike shop it was home for a little Lego time with the kids.  We might have jammed on Rock Band 3 for a little bit too.  Maybe.

On Tuesday I received a shocking e-mail at work.  It was a group e-mail and didn't single anybody out.  Apparently, the powers that be do not approve of bicycles being brought into the hospital.  I have not ridden my bike to work at this hospital but I know of some who do.  Locking several thousand dollars worth of carbon mobile artwork to a bike rack outside the hospital isn't a reasonable alternative for a lot of cyclists.  This policy won't make it any more likely that I'll ride in to work.  I would never question policies established by commanding officers.  It is not as though the military has an interest in promoting fitness of its personnel, as suggested by this headline from the Washington Post on December 10, 2012:


It is also lucky that there is no storied history of bicycles in the military.

25th Infantry Bicycle Corps

Bicycles were big in the British military, with or without adequate dentition

Even the Germans has bicycles.  This is the outfit I'll need if I spend any more time with Ed.
Whatever.  I have only seen one person bring a bike into the hospital and it was always stored in his office.  It is not as though there are hordes of rogue cyclist clogging the hallways and riding their bikes down the stairwells.  So, the few people looking out for their fitness and getting some exercise in are given yet another disincentive from doing so.  Rather than criticize leadership let's consider this a public service announcement from the V3 blog to any readers considering bringing a two wheeled self powered means of personal conveyance into Brooke Army Medical Center.

I was intent on getting to the Tuesday nighter.  I managed to get home in time to ride from the house feeling quite dapper in my new Ride Away Bikes jersey.  Despite my resounding victories in back to back cat 5 races the local shop teams are not knocking down my door recruiting me so I figured I would ride flying the colors of the shop without a team.  There are two big teams in town: Bicycle Heaven and Bike World.  Bobby has also extended an invite from FG Law/210 Cycling.  If I race next year I may end up joining one of these teams.  We'll see.

I spun down to Helotes easily.  We had 15-20 people show up for the ride which is a pretty small turn out.  Robert took us down to Galm and then we started turning the screws.  I took a pull early on Galm followed by Greg and then Rob again.  Pretty soon I was riding 3rd or 4th wheel and the guys at the front didn't seem to want to put the effort in so I came around for another go.  Here are the details:


I started with a 1.2 mile effort at 26.6mph and 330W on the east to west portion of Galm before Government Canyon State Park.  Then there is a half mile from 14.1 to 14.6 miles where the power drops off as I am back in the paceline.  After that I got restless and, as above, there was seeming reluctance to push at the front, so I pulled around for another 1.3 mile pull at 23.4mph and 347W (clearly more of a headwind given the divergence of power and speed).  Overall it was 2.9 miles at 25.1mph and 328W over 6:58.  Not a bad effort, but not a maximal effort either.  I was checking in my shiny new Clearview Micro mirror repeatedly to make sure the bulk of the group was still there.  I like to wait until 211 before the group completely disintegrates.

Once we turned onto 471 a couple of the tri guys went off the front as I was sitting in, recovering from Galm.  Poor Robert was left out there all on his own pulling.  I don't know why nobody would come forward to help out.  The others were comfortably sitting on his wheel as he was tiring out and the tri guys were riding off the front.  That kind of thing irks me.   It even looked as though rob was edging over practically begging somebody to come around to lend a hand.  I came forward to help Rob and bridge the gap. Unfortunately, Rob was spent at that point and couldn't hang on.  And those guys who wouldn't come around to help him?  Well they saw me come around and tried to latch on to my wheel.  I didn't like that much.  Classic wheelsucker move.  I don't mind helping a guy out but I prefer it be somebody working for the good of the group.  Just one paragraph ago I was jabbering on about checking the mirror and not riding off the front of the group.  Well those kinds of niceties don't apply for the wheel suckers.  I put in a little dig to make sure the catch wasn't made and then bridged up to Carlos on his tri bike.  It took 0.7 miles at 407 average W and 28.9 average speed (34.3 mph max) to make the catch but it got done.


After making the turn onto 211 it mostly came back together.  On the first climb we broke up again with 5 of us going off the front.  By the second climb that was whittled down to 3, I think.  After that it was me and Chris trading pulls.  Chris is a wirey guy on a Cervelo.  I may have ridden with him before but I can't remember.  At first I could have sworn with that build, that bike, and jersey that it was Skokan.  But it wasn't.    Chris is a strong rider with a good poker face.  I was suffering, we weren't making up much ground on the tri guys, and he seemed cool as a cucumber.  I was waiting for him to drop me but on the last climb on 211 it was Chris who cracked first and dropped off the back.  I rode over the top on my own and didn't push too hard over San Geronimo before easing up on the downhill stretch that followed. This allowed Chris to catch back on.  I figured it would be more fun if both of us traded pulls and pushed each other rather than each riding in solo.  We basically two man time trialed our way back into Helotes into the headwind.  It was a lot of work.  I was trying to put in one mile pulls at about two and a half minutes.  Chris and I worked well together and split the workload pretty evenly.  We were the first two finishers on traditional road bikes.  It's hard to compete with the TT bikes especially when they are ridden by strong riders.

I rode home with a woman named Lori who lives just 3 miles or so from me.  She is a nurse practitioner and works with the wife of one of the gastroenterology attendings at Brooke Army Medical Center.  Small world!  Riding home with Lori took me over Kyle Seale Parkway rather than 1604 to Babcock, and in order to get home after that I had to add on a couple miles because the usual route is closed for road work.  I took advantage of the detour to explore a new subdivision that cuts through to my neighborhood.

Here's the ride with photos beneath.  If you are reading this on your phone or iDevice and can't see the pictures do yourself a favor and read the blog on a proper laptop or desktop.  It seems like too much work for me to get images to show up on non-Flash enabled devices.  If anybody has an easy way to embed these slideshows with photos stored in Picasa Web Albums let me know.






Wednesday was the usual ride from Lifetime Fitness.  There were seven of us, including two first time riders.  John F, who I've ridden with several times, and Orlando, who I don't think I've ridden with before.  Both are strong riders and it was good to have them out with us.  I had wanted to keep this ride together as a organized single paceline.  We were largely able to do that although it did get a little frisky out there at times. Bill was off the back on Cascade Caverns.  Eddie had made the mistake of running the day before and he was still feeling it.  We regrouped at Scenic Loop (it's a friendly ride even when it's frisky) but Eddie chose to ride in at his own speed and Bill did the same shortly after.  We had a good paceline going down Scenic Loop.  We probably could have benefitted from rotating more frequently but sometimes you stay on the front a little longer so as to ensure you are doing at least your fair share of the work.  Andy veered to the left at one point when I was second wheel and he was pulling.  I pulled through on his right.  Apparently, he wasn't really pulling off, he just didn't hold his line.  Luckily, Andy isn't the type to get offended.  It was a great Wednesday night ride.  It was a pity to leave Eddie and Bill behind but I appreciate them encouraging us to ride on.





Today was a nice day off from riding. I finally had time at work to write up a case report I've been meaning to do and the afternoon was mostly conference at the University Hospital. That means I got home at a reasonable time and was able to mow the grass, have dinner with the family, wash the dishes, take out the recycling, and eradicate a hornet nest. Now that I've put the monotony of my life down in digital ink for any who are interested, I only have the folding of laundry left to look forward to.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lost my looking glass: reflections on a lost mirror.

One trouble with cycling is that it takes quite a bit of time.  If I go running I only need 30 minutes to get a great workout.  It's not as much fun but it's effective.  Generally, a 20 miles bike ride feels like just a warm up.  I need 90 minutes to feel like I'm getting a workout and can be out there for 2, 3, 5, 10 hours.  Good times.  When trying to balance cycling with life this kind of time commitment can be difficult.  Recently, I have noted that a lot of folks who ride in San Antonio, and ride quickly, have plenty of training rides under 20 miles in length.  Now, some of them never seem to get a long tempo ride in and will fade towards the end of a 50 mile ride.  Most of them get their longer rides in and probably stress themselves enough on their shorter rides to build the kind of punchy power that is needed for crits or spirited group rides.  I had decided to give this a try.  I already posted my ride from Tuesday.  Thursday I decided to try again.  I headed out for a spin around the neighborhood.  Living in my neighborhood there is not a flat spot around.  The hardest part of the ride is finding roads I can ride for 10 minutes to warm up without hitting 300W instantly.  Ideally, I keep the warm up under 200W.  If I head down the hill to flatter terrain it's all one way interstate frontage road and I will be committed to at least 20 minutes of warm up.  For a 35-45 minute ride that's a lot of time warming up.  So, I spun casually around the neighborhood and did my best to just crawl up the hills at low power.  After the warm up I decided to tackle "Came up from the bottom":



That worked out pretty well.  Very few people take that turn off Camp Bullis Rd to explore the hills of Crownridge.  You can see how quickly the top times fall off on the leaderboard from all 9 riders who have done this climb.  I put out just over 300W over 6 minutes so I should be able to improve on this time.


I put in 3 more hard efforts with easy spinning in between.




Friday was a day off after riding Saturday though Thursday.  I headed out for the Lifetime Fitness ride on Saturday.  It was a good ride that required an honest effort throughout.  I payed attention to doing my fair share of work without unnecessarily wasting energy.   I was tired late in the ride but I had enough left to contest a few uphill sprints on the 1604 access road at the end.  We had a pretty good crew even though some were out of town racing and some were doing a gravel ride west of town.



I brought the camera and got just a few pictures.  A lot of them didn't come out very well.





Today, the roads were damp and the road felt dead.  I met a decent sized crew for the Sunday Pastry Ride.  This is Aaron's ride so it was no surprise that he didn't show up.  I guess he had a sort of rough morning and wasn't moving too quickly.  He met us about 15 miles into the ride.  We rode up to Boerne, over Spanish Pass and Tower Rd, then back to Boerne for an espresso and pastry at the Bear Moon Cafe.  I was so distracted by the beckoning pastries that I almost took Jenny out.  No harm no foul, right Jenny?  The ride home from Boerne was up Scenic Loop and down Babcock Rd.  Just a half mile down Babcock Rd we came across Jared on the side of the road with a broken spoke.  As I stopped to make sure he was going to get home OK the rest of the group kept going.  Jeesh, with friends like this...It was no big deal, I was almost home and I wasn't riding back to the parking lot with them anyway.  I spun home the 5 miles on my own, taking advantage of the opportunity to get a genuine cool down.  Good ride, a little more intense than I had planned but I was partly responsible for that.



The one casualty, other than my girlish figure lost to the the apple fritter that went straight to my hips, was my mirror.  I accidentally knocked it off of its magnetic mount while flying down from Tower Rd at 35mph.

There are a lot of bad mirrors out there.  The geek factor can be high but the safety factor shouldn't be overlooked.  This mirror was designed by Ed Solis, a local rider, and it is the best one out there.  This might even be Ed modelling it.  I can't quite tell.

It's so small it doesn't get in the way.  You can see cars behind you or watch the pain on the faces behind you when you're hammering at the front of the group.   See, the only thing nerdy in this picture is me.  You can hardly see the mirror.


I'll be picking up another one of those.  Maybe a spare as well.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

So my wife married an axe murderer

Sometimes I make some questionable choices.  Like the time I had a squirrel living in my apartment wall about 15 years ago.  It would claw and scratch and keep me up at night.  For a while my solution was mixing up a concoction of cayenne pepper and other noxious nuisances and inject it through the wall into the squirrel's nest with a syringe.  That worked for a while but became a bit of a hassle and had to be repeated frequently.  Then I figured that I would simply close off the squirrel's access by putting up a bunch of metal flashing around the eves where the squirrel was entering.  Well, eventually the squirrel got wise to that and found a way to bend back the corner of the flashing and scamper into the wall.  At that point it had a very loud metallic tunnel to access its den and I could hear the scratching and clawing echo down its malleable corridor.  It was slowly driving me crazy.  One day I heard the little bastard  trying to weasel its way in (do squirrels weasel or do squirrels squirrel?  Weasels definitely do not squirrel.) and I rushed up to the roof top.  I peered over the edge of the roof and there it was.

This is not my picture.  I was on the roof looking down and my walls weren't brick.  This picture was usurped from here.

I stared right into its beady little eyes.  It froze for a moment and then went scampering down the outside of the house.  It must not have had great gription on the wall because it wasn't scampering all that quickly.  I blindly reached back and grabbed the first thing in reach which was a small tree branch.  Without putting too much thought into it I dropped the branch parallel to, and just an inch or so away from, the wall.  My simple ballistic weapon took the fat gray squirrel off the wall and it went plummeting to its death.  Or mostly.  It actually struck the ground and was very badly injured but not dead.  It was a lot like that scene from Austin Powers where Mustafa won't die.


Like Dr. Evil's organization I will also not tolerate failure.  I had to rush down the stairs from the third floor and put the vermin out of his misery.  The squirrel problem was solved but it wasn't pretty.  Let's just say that when you live in a city there are probably only two uses for a hatchet and only one of them doesn't involve a squirrel.

Tuesday I left a pile of work on my desk so I could get home and take care of the kids while my wife was at meetings at the school with their teachers.  Around 8PM she got home and I decided that I should go for a ride.  The sun was almost down but I had missed my Tuesday ride, it had been a long day at work, and it was something I needed to do.  Riding around in the dark- that was questionable decision number one. With the lack of light I wasn't planning on straying too far from the house.  I put my lights on my bike and rode around my neighborhood.  There are some decent short hills to climb and I was sure I could get a satisfactory workout in a short period of time.  I rode for about 35 minutes, a combination of hitting some climbs with gusto and just lightly spinning. There are some climbs in my own backyard I have never done and some Strava segments to accompany them.  While I was out I briefly saw another rider in a Bicycle Heaven kit.  Turns out it was Jacob out riding in the same neighborhood .  I only saw him briefly and we were on opposite sides of  a 4 lane rode with a median down the middle.  When I got home I was able to run Strava activity playback and see that it was Jacob.  The video playback looks like it should be an Atari game from the 1980s.  Click on the image below to playback the ride.





Wednesday I was finally going to get out of work early enough to ride with my Wednesday night group. I was OK with leaving some work undone to get to this ride.  When I glanced out the window at work at 1630hrs it was pouring.   Finally a day I can ride midweek and I get thwarted by the weather, rain, which is quite uncommon in south central Texas this time of year.  There was a small amount of e-mail and facebook traffic back and forth but I committed to riding because it looked like it was clearing up as I was driving home.  I spun down to Lifetime Fitness on damp pavement and found Bill waiting.  One minute before 6PM Eddie rolled in.  It would be just the three of us.  The other's didn't know what they were missing.  The temperatures were cool, the roads dried after the first 5 minutes, and we had some of the most comfortable riding we've had in months.  We didn't push the pace.  We shared pulls and stayed together.  There was some warm up and cool down but the main portion of the ride was at 19.6mph and 253 normalized Watts.  Nice tempo riding.  This was the ride the others have been waiting for and they let a couple rain drops scare them away.  Riding in the rain was the second questionable decision. Two potentially poor decisions and both worth it.  I don't know about the squirrel though, maybe a bit overboard.  Live and learn.  Unless you're a squirrel of course.