Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rain.

video

Not that I really have much to complain about but this is what I woke up to this morning. Lots and lots of rain. Riding in weather like this can either make for great rides or miserable times. Had a pretty hard interval session planned for today and hammering it out in the rain was incredible, especially with the right tunes. Flatting on the way home and barely being able to fix it because my hands were frozen...not so much. I was filthy when I came home but it was just a great time.




Spent some time downtown yesterday, drank some coffee read books. Reading 'Let the right one in' right now. Excellent.


While downtown yesterday made another shopping trip to Food conspiracy co-op. GRANOLA!


Left to right Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Local Honey, Fresh organic almond butter (cheaper than I have ever seen), Fresh organic cashew butter, Fresh organic peanut butter
Underneath is a bunch of oils and soy sauces.


Not a bad view from a ride earlier this week.



One of the only pictures I have of me that wasn't a self shot. Felt I had to put it up.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why are you doing...whatever it is you're doing?


These days, focus in the cycling industry all seems to point towards the future. What is the next evolutionary step in the technology we use? What are we going to do to prepare for next year?

From my point of view right now though, it feels like looking forward is the last thing I need to be concerned with. Sitting down at a coffee shop on a rainy rest day in downtown Tucson, Arizona, a city that hasn’t changed substantially since the late 1800’s and where pigeons haven’t reached that stage of urban de-evolution where they no longer use their wings and simply waddle away from predatory child-kicking, has me thinking about what aspects of cycling really have changed over the years?

I mean of course interpretation has a lot to do with it when you closely analyze the mechanics of what has evolved in the construction of a bike, but objectively? A bike is the same as its always been: two wheels and a frame that operate on a chain drive and propel the rider forward under their own power. The same can be said for the lifestyle that modern pros experience. Sure a training camp nowadays is compiled with a lot of nonessentials like media exposure, high tech bike fits and nutrition counseling, but really isn’t it still really just a bunch of group rides in a row with some people who enjoy doing the same thing you do?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the other dimension of the sport too, the one I spend hours and hours a week reading about on the internet, in magazines and in books. The kind that has me fascinated by wheels with a 50mm dish that weigh under 1000 grams a set and about outrageously intensive and structured training blocks and nutrition restrictions that make your head spin...I’m totally hooked, but I respect that It’s a luxury, nothing more. All this I can do without, and sometimes, it’s the best. When you have access to power meters, heart rate and cadence monitors, altimeters, gradient meters and more, sometimes the only thing that I give a shit about is riding my bike as fast as I can until I’m tired. It may seem silly to some, but the core values of training that I respect more than anything, are the ones that embody the cyclist that wins because he/she went out riding on the days when you were too tired because they love riding their bicycle and not because a coach made them. When they were bundling up in winter clothing and braving sideways hail for four hours, you were watching a movie and having your third “rest day” in a row. That’s the type of stuff that winning cyclists nowadays have in common with those from 50 years ago and something that I hope never changes. Even with all this amazing technology that helps us no doubt go faster, it still comes down to the individual’s “drive” and the motivation created from the love of riding your bicycle. You don’t even have to race to share the enthusiasm. Working at the Trek Store in Toronto, I’m happy to say that I know many many people who can get just as jazzed up to ride bicycles to and from work as they can from a 6 hour mountain bike ride. It’s nice when the people you work for love what they do.

I’ve plotted out a huge ride for tomorrow. I’ll map it out and post it tomorrow when I return. Should be in the range of 6/7 hours. Giddy up. Also to report is how awesome the shootout was. Tons of intensity and tons and tons of wind. Shoulder was feeling pretty good too but I called it slightly early and headed home as I had an extra hour to ride back home than everyone else. Still 5 hours before noon on a weekend, fun stuff.



Forgot to mention, we found a skull on the hike.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yes Yes Super Excellent Fun Happy Time

For any type of athlete, there is for the most part an off season. It includes anything and everything you can do to properly prepare yourself for the upcoming races or contests of whatever type that will ultimately dominate the other part of the year. One thing lies in common with all types of sport that experience this phenomena, that first race of the new season.

I don’t think it is possible to be fully prepared up top for that first race. You can train like a monk for those few months between last race and first race and still think on that start line… “I totally could have done more.” Then you have to worry about the other people you race against. “I bet that they didn’t have that extra glass of wine.” When all this boils down, if you are like me, you just have to put your head down, do your work and show up to the first start line of the season only knowing that you are going to have a great time pushing yourself to the limit going around that course, no matter how fast that may be. Most of the time, I’m pleasantly surprised with the result...most of the time. This year I’m coming into race season fitter than I’ve ever been but still those questions are still looming, am I doing enough? There are times when I think there’s no way I could possibly train more in a week then I have, and others where I can’t help but think if I would be that much stronger if I hadn’t taken that effing corner wide and broken myself. The point is, I’m still learning and the only thing that I can know for sure is that I’m having a totally awesome time riding myself into fitness this year. One thing I’ve learned for sure is that you have to indefinitely change things up to keep yourself motivated. For instance on Tuesday instead of a four hour ride we decided to go on a four hour hike to explore some mountain bike trails on Lemmon.


Turns out, hiking smoked my legs, in a good way. Had lunch overlooking some of the best scenery and in one of the best settings I have experienced this whole trip.

Next day had a four and a half hour ride with a solid 50 minutes of intervals on Catalina highway to finish it off. Today was a tempo day up to top of Lemmon 3 x 20 minute tempo efforts had me feeling awesome. Its amazing how much my comfort level has improved during those efforts since I have been here. Good sign.


After seeing this article on Velonews I had to give it a try. Anything to help with recovery. I happen to have a freezing pool outside my apartment so I stood submerged up to my midsection reading my book for about 15 minutes. Combined with some stretching tonight, I will let you know what my ‘results’ are. The overall experience was terrible at first but once you are in, everything kind of numbs and it starts to feel pretty good so we will see.

Easy 2-3 hours tomm and then ‘the shootout’ for some intensity on Saturday. Pretty sure the national team will be there too so it will be a good sight to see a bunch of Canadians throwing down.


Went to the Desert Museum on my off day. Big huge mountain lions surveying the gathering crowd and noticeably singling out the young and weak.



FACT: All things dog related like to munch butt, even big huge wolves.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Its the dream we all share, it's the hope for tomorrow...$%!# YA




I feel that being by being in the states, now for longer than a month, that I have certain obligations that require me to tolerate the odd Amurikuh-nism. I'm fine with this, in fact I have been finding that down here people have been fantastically helpful, friendly and polite. That being said, there are just a few things that push my buttons and make facepalm like no other. Let me elaborate.

Last night the plan was set in stone to go to IHOP this morning so we could truly be a part of the American collective. We all agreed that this couldn’t be done more effectively than through all you can eat pancakes. I was loving this idea, everything from the ridiculous slogans that try to convince you with rhymes that fried steak, 5 eggs and hollandaise sauce are your friend to our supremely awesome waiter Kalvin. Also I would like to point out that despite how it may look by reading my blog, that I actually very, very rarely eat pancakes and that the aerosol/all you can eat novelty is the only reason I have indulged the two times recently. Continuing on. Here I am enjoying my breakfast coffee and one of my four flavors of syrup to top my pancakes with and these two ladies and a gentleman sit down at the table next to us, order, and start reading the paper. The entire remaining time that we were there, they spent it loudly discussing their distaste for our waiter (who like I said, was awesome), and making him uncomfortable. I’ve been in the presence of obnoxious people and in the service industry long enough to just put my head down and cruise through rocky transactions with a smile but I have to give Kalvin a big kudos for that one. Not only that...and here’s the kicker, they were laughing hysterically at a Marmaduke comic, saying “Oh that is so us.” Let me set the record straight here. No Marmaduke comic strip has, is or will ever be funny. It is the worst, most inane frustrating part of the entire paper. I won’t continue to dwell on this but it totally put a damper on my “patriotism.”

4.5 hours completed after my super breakfast that included heading up to Summerhaven at the top end of Mt. Lemmon. Did some Muscle Tension intervals about halfway up and actually felt really good once we arrived at the illustrious cookie cabin. Man was it ever cold up there though. Saw some awesome sights while we were up there. The views up there blow me away every time. Came home to some tasty spinach salad and some butternut squash risotto. A good stretch and shower has me primed for tomorrow’s ride too. Really want to get some foam rollers...yet another thing to purchase when I come home.

National team is in town for a while too so the city is littered with Canadians. Good stuff. Getting more and more stoked for race season but still have much to do between now and then. Terrible shame about Uxbridge Icebreaker though, I had only done last year for the first time but had a great time and was looking forward to it again. Maybe I will give Paris to Ancaster a shot instead.

Last but not least, I'm very interested in this new venue for provincial champs. It will no doubt prove to be a fantastic course.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

All is well.

Trip to the doctor on possibly the most dismal day Tucson has seen since my arrival proved to be well worth getting a bit wet. New X-rays revealed that my bone is sitting pretty and well on its way to complete "fusion" with its better half. No mountain biking quite yet though. At this point I can't really think of a more efficient way to jeopardize the whole healing process than bumping around for hours at a time. Although I really, really want to. March 3rd I have another appointment to get the OK to go off road.

SO, back to riding my road bike outside! My bike did in fact hold up well, no major wobbles or anything and My fitness seemed to be just dandy this afternoon in the wind. 4 hours and 2997 calories was a good day of tempo.

Came home to some tasty sweet tea, a bowl of organic banana/vanilla yogurt (banilla/vanana?) and some organic low fat apple cinnamon granola purchased in bulk from Food Conspiracy. SO crunchy. Delicious. After that, some stretching then r&r in the hot tub and we are game for tomorrow.

On a side note, rode about 20k with UnitedHealthcare/Maxxis team today until our paths took us different ways. They are currently down here for team camp fun zone happy time. Tim Johnson's Mavic shoe sponsorship make him a dead giveaway even though he shaved. Had good conversation with Andrew Pinfold about being the lone Canadian on the team as well.

Great dinner tonight with grilled veggies, tofu sausage, some steamed broccoli and small helping of pasta. Early to bed tonight, too excited to get back out there tomorrow. Lemmon Saturday anyone?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Success!

Cross your fingers.

Today is the day. I'm off in an hour to find out about the status of my break. Wish me luck! If I don't hear good news at this point I'm likely to assault my doctor so he had better tell me I can ride outside again. Will let you know.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Carrot au Beurre

So it turns out that when you ride many many hours in a week and don’t let yourself recover, you end up super tired. I pseudo dedicated this week to resting myself back to health so when outdoor riding comes along this week, I can be nice and fresh. All in all though this recovery week has been a blur of reading, eating organic pancakes out of an aerosol can, swimming, bits of riding and welcoming new guests to the residence!

My Monday last week was a rest day as scheduled, did some cleaning and puttering around in the morning but ultimately ended up downtown on 4th to go grocery shopping at my new fav place. Speaking of shopping in general, who would have thought that Tucson would have some of the most amazing vintage shopping around. Im never buying anything from kensington again. Especially not when leopard print onesie ski suits are essentially available in bulk here. Tuesday was two and a half hours on the bike with 40 second on 80 seconds off intervals thrown in there for some good measure. Wednesday was a crazy day that included 5 hours on the bike. 3:30 endurance with some micro-bursts in the morning finishing up before noon followed by another trip downtown and then 1:30 in the evening just easy easy endurance and one legged exercises. Wednesday was just super easy 45 minutes on the bike with a trip to the pool for some reading. Started an awesome new book about history of bicycle advocacy and such that Im enjoying quite a bit. Learned that the US almost had camels. The secretary of war in 1853 , faced with the increasing cost and general difficulty of hauling freight from the Kansas Territory to New Mexico introduced the idea of using camels for this purpose. An initial test run led to the request to import over a thousand to the region. Then the civil war came along and everything got put on the backburner which led to railways taking over but think of it...for a second there in United States history. CAMELS.

Continuing, thursday was a great tempo day. I say great only because my comfort level at tempo is starting to greatly improve from what it was when I first arrived. Usually, its not something I would look forward to. 3 hours later followed by some day trip planning and then off to bed. Friday I took off to entirely to spend lounging around by the pool with my feet up. Saturday only 90 mins easy before Laura and I had to clean up all my stuffed animals and go get some last minute grocery shopping done at Trader Joe’s before our guest arrived in the PM. Laura 2 is here with us now and seems to be enjoying herself a bunch and is comatose after her ride this afternoon. Friday’s antics included a bit more intensity on the trainer. 2.5 hours this time with reps of 20 seconds full gas and 10 seconds off. Man, those suck big time but the numbers and sensations that Im getting are looking better and better so it’s not all bad. Finished off the night with Chimichangas courtesy of yours truly. Those things can knock me out faster than any intense exercise. Managed to stay awake for a screening of Hamlet 2 which takes place in this lovely city. Great film. 


As I mentioned briefly, this week I was fortunate enough to give something called “Organic Batter Blaster” a shot. Pancake batter in an aerosol can. Im pretty sure that anything with peanut butter and syrup on it will taste delicious but these definitely had a distinct je ne sait quoi. I shall not be purchasing it again. Today was the last rest day of the week so we went to buy Laura 1 some hiking shoes and went for a long walk along broadway. Tomorrow it is back to the grind with wednesdays doctor appointment holding much promise. I will update the second I know what the status of my recovery is. Until then, here are some photos of the week. Also, my good friend Tim Carleton has added a dot com to his name and revamped his website so check it out in the link section.





TEA






Delicious Mexican food downtown

Aero - Pancakes and my un-official Italian flag

























Grandma Tony....probably married to Grandpa Janice

Monday, February 1, 2010

I'm never microwaving brie again.


Had a jam packed week in comparison to the last few. Laura arrived on the 28th and I have been playing suburban tour guide for the past few days. Having someone else here to help cook has led to some pretty crazy meals too, which is a huge bonus. One armed cooking is just as hard as it sounds.

Tallied everything up and rode just over 18 hours this week on the trainer. It sounds crazy to me too, and let me tell you it's something I wouldn't prescribe to anyone if there was a way around it but in my case, there isn't really. To ease the pain I have decided not to shave until I can ride outside again.

Should be back on my bike soon and am looking forward to this "shootout" ride that everyone seems to be so keen on. Feb 20th? I'll be there if anyone is interested. I have heard legends of this ride even being done on a mountain bike, which I may be riding for my first few rides back as it is much more upright than my road bike and therefore easier on the shoulder. Whether I do the shootout on it is a different story, so we shall see what condition I am in.

February brings about a bit of a change in the training structure which is nice (less long days on the trainer). That being said, more intensity can be painful sometimes too. Any monotonous trainer riding I do now just makes the second half of my trip that much more satisfying and will make me want to kill it even more once I get outside again. Speaking of which, my shoulder, although still kind of pokey is feeling pretty awesome. I really hope that my surgeon shares my optimism when we have our appointment on the 10th.

Today was an off day so Laura and I decided to escape the east end and head downtown to explore some areas around the University and more of downtown. We ended up having such a great time and found some amazing places that are going to require return visits. The first being a little espresso bar called 'Cafe Passe' where we had a super tasty panini lunch. Then we went to a place called 'The Food Conspiracy Co-op.' When I was looking for places to go shopping when I first arrived, my mom sent me a message pointing me to this place but because I'm doing all my grocery shopping by bus I thought that it would be too much of a trek so until now, I have stuck with Whole Foods. This is totally fine but once you see the produce and prices at this place the walk down there and the extra 20 minutes on the bus are totally worth it. I am excited to use the bulk, fresh raw honey that I poured myself tomorrow for breakfast. It blew my mind, I've been doing that with nut butter for a long time but never with honey, it was hot when I poured it into my squeeze container! mmmm (that's what she said...i think). Laura and I also bought something called prickly pear cactus jelly. We haven't tried it yet but it smells...terrible. We will let you know.

As I mentioned earlier, we have been eating really well this week so here is a small sample recipe that we experimented with but ended up loving.

BBQ STUFFED RED PEPPERS

We had these with a vegan kielbasa sausage, roasted zucchini slices and roasted asparagus:

- Cut the top off of a red pepper and hollow it out. Put aside
- Make some boring brown rice, no salt, no oil, nothing. That will come later.
- While the rice is cooking, sauté some chopped onions and mushrooms until the onions start to turn clear and the mushrooms start to brown.
- Add desired amount of canned and rinsed, or fully cooked dried red kidney and black beans. (we used probably just over a cup of cooked beans in total for one cup of uncooked rice)
- Add cooked rice to pan with onions, mushrooms and beans.
- Add 2 tbsp olive oil
- Add 2 tsp paprika (we also used a tiny bit of stuff called 'jalapeño shake' but the real thing would have been even better)
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Here is the great part and is a total necessity for this recipe to come out well. Add beer. We used about half a cup of a bitter ale but I can't imagine there being much restriction to this.
- Stir till all ingredients are mixed, then cover on low heat until most of the beer has been soaked up.
- Lightly wipe outside of hollowed out pepper with oil and then stuff away. Cook on the bbq for as long as you want and voila! It was delicious.

Had an impromptu barbecue with some Ontario folk tonight. Much 'Sweet Tea' was consumed and good times were had. Tomorrow I have a rousing game of pedal my brains out for 40 seconds then stop for 1:20 then do it all over again for a long time. Should be great fun.