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How slow can you go?

Wednesday’s ride wasn’t for reaching some goal. It wasn’t me trying to increase my fitness. It was a ride just to get away.

I struggle sometimes when life seems to be piling up on me. I know this happens to most everyone, but we all deal with it differently. I get almost paralyzed.

It is hard for me to concentrate. I find myself just staring at the task I need to accomplish. Of course, it doesn’t help anything to just stare! Reason knows that the best thing I could do is to just start. Emotion just keeps staring.

I have found at times like these that the bicycle is great therapy. There have been many times I’ve left for a ride under these clouds and returned with a sunny disposition. More times than not I also return with a solution to some roadblock I’m facing.

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I set out in search of that relief. While on Tuesday night I focused on riding with a high cadence, for this ride I just focused on going slow. Low cadence doesn’t always mean you are pushing a big gear and going fast. It can also mean you are just putting along taking in what is around you.

Wondering how long it would take me to climb Paris Mountain at that pace, I started climbing the Furman side of Altamont. I’m so used to going hard up that climb I had to work to hold back.

It gave me a chance to look around at things and notice some characteristics of the road I hadn’t really paid attention to in the past. It also freed my mind to think of blessings I have in my life. It was a pleasant 20 plus minutes.

11733970_10155852982580650_838457357_oI woke up this morning in a better frame of mind — until I looked at Stava and noticed that John James had taken the KOM on Walker Wimps.

 

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On the fence

It started with a car wreck in my driveway. It continued with the sun crashing into my temperature gauge. I’m hoping it ended on the trainer in my basement last night.

I wrote about the car crash back on June 30th. That was the day after my daughter backed our 2009 Honda Pilot into the front grill of our 1990 BMW 325i. After seeing the estimate from body shop, I decided to do as much as I could myself.

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So began a quest over the next two weeks to fix the car myself. On any night I could, I was searching for parts and deconstructing the damaged area. The result was that over the period I rode my bike two times.

Finally, Monday of this week, I delivered the car to the body shop. I was pretty amazed that I was able to do all the body work myself only needing the shop to do the paint work. For at least the week, I had no car on which to work. My attention turned back to the bicycle.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought of riding. I was actually feeling guilty about not riding. Had I been disciplined enough to get up early or stay up later, I could have ridden. The desire and motivation just wasn’t there.

As with most things in life, when you get into these doldrums you just have to start. It doesn’t really matter how much you do. You just need to start.

So, with the temperatures in the 90s outside, I logged into Zwift and climbed on the trainer. I put a movie up on the TV for good measure. I started to spin.

Nothing miraculous happened. To be honest, I was happy when the hour was done. I didn’t spin a moment longer than the time I set as my goal.

Tuesday night I climbed aboard once again. This time I was feeling a bit more interested and set as my goal to spin for an hour averaging more than my typical cadence. It gave me something on which to concentrate.

Then the “Zwift Effect” kicked in. This happens to many people who ride Zwift. Because you are riding with other people and there are challenges to complete it is easy to get sucked into riding above the effort you initially intended.

And so it was that while I didn’t set any PR’s by any means, I did get sucked into trying for a Polka-Dot jersey. Then I inherited a Orange jersey. Well, I might as well make it a triple jersey, so I put out an effort to gain the Green jersey.

Then things got interesting. First my Polka Dot jersey got taken and then the Green. It was time to defend. This required an even harder effort than my previous one.

The most recent update from Zwift helped. As usual as I hit the beginning of the climb the read out showed me my time as I progressed as well as the fastest time I was trying to beat. However, now the readout also gives me an Estimated Time of Arrival.

This operates much as your GPS in your car. It takes the speed/power you are putting out and projects how long it would take you to complete the segment averaging that speed. This allowed me to measure my effort and not put out anymore energy than I needed.

Before I knew it my hour was up. However, with two minutes to go, the guy who took my Green jersey rode past me. I also knew that the sprint zone would be coming up soon. Hmmmm, it would be fun to get in his draft and have a mano-e-mano sprint.

Unfortunately, I had let him get too large of a gap and was unable to close it down before we reached the bridge marking the start of the sprint. He was already in the zone as I approached it. He hadn’t even attempted it at speed and I passed him in the middle of the effort.

What a difference a day made. I went from obligation to engagement. I’m not ready to say that I am over the hump, but last night’s ride was a good step in the right direction.

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Independence Day

For readers from the United States I wish you all a great Independence Day! For all you readers in other countries I thank you for putting up with us for these 239 years. Whether this is just a normal day for you or a day of celebration, make the most of it.

Of course, it is also the start of the Tour De France. I’m using the iPad app to watch it this morning. With Apple TV and Airplay, I can see it on the larger screen.

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Don’t know if I will be getting on the bicycle today. The weather is calling for rain all morning. This afternoon is looking better.

Vive la France! God bless America!

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Planning the Tour La France

It is Thursday again, so I have to put up a Throw Back Thursday blog post. I don’t want to end it there because it is almost that time for the Tour De France. This year I have my designs on my own ride… Tour La France.

First the TBT post…

cf-lgI’m Back was published in early July 2007. It tells the story of my first ever century ride. Like many of my rides, it was solo. That week was also a time for me to post a review on my first ever Garmin in Riding with the Edge. It was the Garmin Edge 305.

That’s where I’ve been. Now for where I’m going…

Each month Strava presents challenges for users to aim for. There are typically challenges for climbing, distance, and sometimes time. Then there are those “Adventures” they throw in now and again… like the one below.

The next time you set out for a long ride, check out the country road you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t made time for, have a friend show you a whole new area, or just ride until you get yourself lost.

Whatever you do, go on an adventure and try something new. Record your ride – which must be at least three hours long – and snap a few photos along the way. If you love to write, send us the story of your adventure . We’ll feature our favorite adventure tales on the Strava Blog and send the lucky author a pack full of Strava gear.

With July underway, I figured I’d better get busy on my challenges! It would be nice to knock a couple of them out at the same time. I’d need to ride 80 miles to get the Gran Fondo 130 badge. The Adventure Challenge needs to be over three hours. Those two I could combine, but the Alpe d’hues Climbing Challenge doesn’t start until later in the month.

Adventure-cycling-2-v1Actually, the biggest challenge would be finding “the country road you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t made time for.” Knocking off an 80 mile route wouldn’t be that hard. I could ride up to East Flat Rock and back and be done with it. The problem is I’ve done that plenty of times.

So I turned to another Strava feature. I’d try out their Route Builder. It is a beta feature that I had tried before and did not like. The route tracing tool was clunky and it kept trying to take me ways I didn’t want.

However, that was sometime ago. I figured I would give it another try and aim down toward Anderson. While I have ridden that direction before, I could probably count them on one hand. This is more uncharted territory for me.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 8.33.47 AMAs I looked at the map, I noticed a tiny “town” called La France. I chuckled. That would be a good route to ride during July. I’d call it my Tour La France.

The initial problem was that a direct shot there and back would not equal 80 miles. I started playing with the mapping tool by grabbing waypoints and moving them to other sections of road I found interesting. This time the tool was working.

By playing around and expanding the “loop” from Greenville to La France, I was able to equal 80 miles. While I doubt it will take me the 5.5 hours that the software says I’ll need, I’m certain I’ll get in the 3 hours required for the Adventure Challenge.

Yes, I’ll be taking some photos and video. I’ll obviously write about it as well. I’m not expecting to  win “a pack full of Strava gear.”

Anyone interested in coming along? It would be a self-supported ride and I’d probably average 16 – 18 mph. I can be flexible on the actual day — except for Sunday.

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Strava Strangeness

Monday night I arrived home after creating a new Strava segment. It had been awhile since I created one. I also wanted to see the data from the KOM attempt. What I didn’t expect was to go back in time!

I received a text from a friend asking if I had uploaded a ride from 2013. What? I wondered if it had something to do with me creating that segment and then Strava going back and looking through my history to build the new leaderboard. That would be kind of weird though.

The conversation ended and I put it out of my mind. Perhaps it was just an anomaly that just affected that one ride. It was time to write Tuesday’s blog post.

As usual, I sent the link out on social media. The link on Facebook generated some comments. The first comment from Matt Jaeggli confused me.

fbthreadI couldn’t understand why Matt would say that. I didn’t think I had given the indication that I had done the segment for the first time Monday evening. Just two days earlier I had written about my attempts on the segment as I tried to learn the best technique to get a good time.

When Edward commented, I suddenly realized what happened. It appears that quite a few of people who were one place behind me got notifications. My guess is that Matt also got a notification, and, like Edward, assumed that was the segment I referenced.

Then David Curran chimed in and mentioned that he got a notice as well. However, it wasn’t from me. So, I gather this was something that affected a number of accounts.

Did any of you also receive a notice that you “lost a KOM” on Monday evening June 29, 2015? Anyone have any information on what causes these Strava burps? I can’t recall this happening before.

I’d rather be sending those messages to Strava users with future KOMs, not ones from years past.

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Bicycle Therapy

Monday morning was a busy one. In addition to the typical desk work, I was out looking for new office space for Worthwhile. Lunch was spent with our Worthwhile accountant and then it was back to the desk to continue the morning flow. I had lots of numbers and decisions floating around in my head.

Around 3:30 PM I got a call from Sunshine Cycle Shop. Neal was letting me know that the Felt AR was ready. I dropped it off earlier to have my TT bars mounted on it. Since I got the Felt F1, I had not touched the AR. I thought maybe if I switched it up, I might be drawn to ride it a bit more.

I decided to take a break and headed home in the bimmer to get the Honda Pilot. I’d need it to haul the bike. Bikes have found their ways into the back seat of the BMW when I have the top down, but not today.

I pulled into the driveway to find the Pilot in front of me. The brake lights were on. “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself, “The Beautiful Redhead must have just gotten back from somewhere… or maybe she is getting ready to go somewhere” I waited to get an idea of her intentions.

The reverse lights came on and I got my answer. I leaned out the window to get her attention. We often do switches between the cars as we only have a single narrow drive. As the Pilot began to reverse, that is what I thought she was wanting to do. I stuck my head out the window to get her attention to let her know I didn’t want to switch, I wanted to trade.

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Well, about that time, the truck accelerated and before I could get my hand down to the shifter, the truck plowed into the front grill of the little red car. My first response was disbelief. “What is she doing!?!” I exclaimed. “What was she thinking!?!”

Turns out it wasn’t the Beautiful Redhead, but Thing One. She hopped out of the truck saying, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” Later I learned that she wasn’t using the back up camera and that the bimmer was not showing in the rearview mirror. She also was looking right and left to see if there were cars coming down the road. Of course, she obviously wasn’t checking her side mirrors nor did she pay attention the proximity alert.

I won’t belabor that experience. The point is, I did manage to take the (miraculously) undamaged Pilot to pick up the bike and then head to finish my day at work. Sometime after 5 PM, I headed home and had dinner with the family. I finished up and headed to change. I needed some bicycle therapy.

It was one of those rides where I was pushing out of the gate. Leaving home and heading down East North Street to Pete Hollis, I was averaging 20 mph by the time I reached Old Buncombe Road. As I neared Furman, I started to ease up a little bit. I was going to try a segment there and didn’t want to be too winded.

I let myself loose on the attempt. The frustrations and questions of the day channeled from my mind into the legs. I let the pent up energy fuel my effort. It was good to let it go until I hit the point of exhaustion.

That done, I headed out to Little Texas. I was going to do a preliminary run on a different segment to get an idea of what I would need to do to make a run at the KOM. It was there on Little Texas I saw the sun breaking around some clouds on the horizon. I stopped the bicycle and just watched it unfold.

By this time and in this moment, thoughts of what had happened during the day disappeared. There was actually joy in my heart. I am truly blessed with a wonderful family, health, and the ability to enjoy what God has created.

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The effort on the new segment didn’t go that well. My legs were definitely used up on that earlier attempt. I rode easily back toward home still noticing the changing sky.

Wow, what a difference a ride makes! Even this morning I have the scene of that sun creating silver and gold linings behind a dark cloud. I know that this is much like life. I have my dark clouds with which to deal, but I know that the Son is always shining for me.

By the way, I got that KOM on the first effort.

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Strava Segment: Pait Is Almost Home!

I freely admit that I enjoy Strava. I do try not to let it go to my head. However, not only does Strava give me a way to scratch my competitive itch, it also gives me fodder for LowCadence.com. If you tried to write something in a blog nearly everyday, you would be looking for subject matter as well!

Having said that, my favorite Strava segment KOMs are not necessarily the ones I’m aiming to get. Today’s installment in the Strava Segment series is a perfect example of that. It is a KOM I am glad I’ve managed to grab because it has my name on it!

I created the segment some time ago. It is a nice little climb up East North Street from Stone Avenue. I didn’t pay much attention to the stretch because it was just a way to get to and from Cleveland Park which is where I spent many an hour when I first began riding on the road.

I don’t even recall what prompted me to create it. However, I do remember the day I got the first KOM. It was a day I took my fixed gear to the park. Perhaps I rode it around to some other spots as well. The thing I do remember was coming home with a huge storm brewing.

The clouds were rolling and the wind was starting to pick up. I’m assuming I had a tailwind. Rain was imminent and I didn’t want to get caught in it. Thunder was sounding very close!

I turned off of Stone Avenue onto East North Street and started to sprint up the road with the fixie. About time I was halfway through the segment, there was one of those lightning/thunder claps where there was little time between the two. If I needed any motivation to keep going, that was it!

I had that track gear humming along and the momentum of the crank being pulled around by the turning of the rear wheel allowed me to keep pace going. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about trying to get a KOM. I was just trying to get home!

Yet, there it was. When I uploaded the data, I found that I had the KOM by 1:39. However, that wasn’t the end of the story.

Because I landed the KOM on a fixed gear, I figured that surely I would be able to get a faster time on my lighter road bike. Nope. It didn’t happen. It wasn’t because I wasn’t trying!

My Strava history has a long list of attempts and a few of them came close. None of them were able to break the barrier. That is until this one.

I wasn’t trying for the KOM. This ride was for capturing video I needed for the Pilot Road Golf Course Climb segment. I then thought I would spin down Main Street Greenville and capture some video of that route. This led me down Park Avenue which crosses Stove Avenue and then becomes East North Street.

As I approached the intersection, I saw that the light was going to be green. “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself, “I might as well use this opportunity to capture some video for a Pait Is Almost Home Strava segment.” Even then, I did not expect to land a KOM. I just wanted to have a good representative effort.

It would appear that the big difference was the speed I was able to carry through the intersection. Rather than turning right off of Stone Ave and scrubbing speed, I was able to come barreling over Stone Avenue and carry that momentum up the lower portion of the segment.

Still, that wasn’t all. I remember having a moment of realization that I was maintaining my power. Yeah, it was hurting a little, but it was one of those instances when you could feel the power overwhelming any pain you might feel. I knew it was going to be a good time.

Arriving home, I was most interested in seeing what would happen with the Pilot Road Golf Course Climb. When I first saw the crown, I thought I had landed it. Then I was surprised to see that the KOM was actually for Pait Is Almost Home… not just that, but I had finished the segment in 1:33. That was 6 seconds faster that my previous one that I thought I would never beat!

Hopefully, that one will hold for a little bit. Other than those instances where people forget to turn off their Strava apps when they are driving home along East North, I think the combination of effort and perfect timing with the light at the start will allow it to last for some time. The closest currently is Chris Uberti at 1:41.

It might fall at some point, but I will have plenty more opportunities in the future and more importantly, many memories of nearing home along that stretch after completing some incredible rides. Whether fast or slow, it is a segment I always enjoy because I am almost home.

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Friday Training Race on Zwift’s Watopia Island

Not much to the written blog today. All last night I was uploading a 10 GB file to YouTube. It is a video of the Friday Training Race on Zwift’s Watopia Island. This one is different from others because I did not do a voice over after the face. I did live in-race, real-time commentary. Not sure how well it worked, but you can be the judge.

The Friday races are going to be moving to Thursday which means I will not be able to participate in as many of them. However, I do hope to join the guys on occasion. Also, there are a growing number of other races springing up on Zwift’s virtual world. You can find a time to race — or create your own race. A good place to start is on the Zwift Riders Facebook group.

Ride On!

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Beat by the heat

I’ve not once in my life been drunk, but this morning I woke up with a hangover. My morning motivated wife’s alarm went off and sounded like it’s volume was turned up to 11. It felt like strands of muscles starting at my shoulders and stretching over to my forehead were in a state of cramping. The light coming on was the final straw. I put the pillow over my head.

So, for this teetotaler, how did I end up feeling this way? It had to be last evenings ride. It was a painful experience and I’m still feeling it this morning.

I went out after work to check out a Strava segment that had been pointed out to me. It was one along a route I infrequently ride, and I not once have attempted it at speed. I figured I would try it a couple of times before to get a feel for how to approach it when capturing my video for the YouTube Strava Segment series.

On the way out it was nearly 95 degrees even though the sun was getting lower on the horizon. By the time I reached the location of the segment thirty minutes into the ride, I had emptied one of my water bottles. A slight wind helped as long as I kept moving, but stopping at a traffic light would leave me feeling like I was melting from the inside out.

Looking back, I can see I went pretty hard on my effort — though I didn’t think it was any harder than many others (max wattage 1400 with 899 watts average for 29 seconds). Still, my heart rate went from 150 to 183 bpm in less than 30 seconds. As I turned off the segment to recover, I was feeling okay.

I decided to give it another try with a different tactic. Turns out the tactic did not help me bring the time down any and as I neared the end of the segment, I was feeling pretty weird. My head felt very hot inside my helmet and my legs — especially the top of my calves running up the back of my knees — were… I wouldn’t say cramping… it almost felt like they were paralyzed. They were stiff like rigor mortis was setting in.

There wasn’t a moment of blacking out, but I did feel disoriented. It was a burden to lift my head. I wasn’t nauseous, but I was just uncomfortable all over.

I headed for the shade. Thankfully, because I was on the edge of the Furman campus I was able to duck onto the Swamp Rabbit Trail where there would be shade for a good number of miles. For a good majority of the time along the slight downward grade I didn’t pedal at all. There just wasn’t much strength to do it.

It really wasn’t until about 20 minutes after my last effort that I began to stop questioning whether I should just stop and ask someone to come get me. The last time I could remember feeling like this was back during my Memphis to Raleigh ride. However, that was seven days of centuries… this was just two measly 30 seconds efforts!

Turns out the heat index here last evening was 108 degrees. I can only assume it was the heat. This morning my legs feel fine. However, my shoulders and neck up into the base of my head are still stiff and sore.

Word is that next week is supposed to bring a break in the heat. We should be back in the 80s for a bit. I think I’ll save any segment hunting until then!

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Past video and last video

Let’s start with the last video uploaded to YouTube. It is commentary on the June 23, 2015 Tuesday Night Worlds on Zwift’s Watopia Island. It gives you an opportunity to see yesterday’s blog post.

Continuing our “Throwback Thursday” theme, I decided to go back and resurrect a video from the past. This is one of the earliest videos I ever made riding a bicycle. The first was a video of the Sunshine Cycle Shop crew climbing Paris Mountain on April 27, 2008.

It is amazing to see how the action camera market has changed since that time! I was using on of the early Contour cameras. GoPro didn’t exist. The Internet has changed as well! The reason these videos are lower bandwidth is because back in that day the idea of HD quality video seemed out of reach.

Of course, this was less than 10 years ago. Much has changed in my life, on the bicycle, and with technology. Even the blog has changed. You’ll notice at the end of the older video that I point you’ll notice I point folks to StackOfStuff.net (that is a time capsule for you). I’m still at it though. On the bicycle, I’ve done more than I thought I could do.

I kind of like Throwback Thursday…