Category Archives: Life

Tired legs near Lumberton

Paratenonitis

I’m pretty cranky this morning. I get that way with pain… especially pain that affects my mobility. Welcome to Achilles Paratenonitis.

Webmd.com tells me it is “inflammation of the covering of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It can cause scarring that restricts the motion of the Achilles’ tendon.” Tell me about it!

Image for reference from MendMeShop.com

Image for reference from MendMeShop.com

I started feeling it when I awakened the morning of the second day of the 2016 Ride For Mike. Once I got on the bicycle and got warmed up, I felt okay. The following morning things were a little worse but manageable. I went to work Monday morning stiff more than in pain. The pain came later in the “Grade 1” area seen in the graphic up to the lower calf muscle.

Tuesday I was noticeably limping. By the end of the day, the limp was a jerk as the pain shot up the back of my lower leg each time I bent my ankle. I wanted some relief.

Remembering that warming my leg up on the bicycle helped, I decided to do a lap of the London 8 on Zwift. Sure enough, after a painful start, my muscles stretched out and warmed up. I wasn’t without pain, but it certainly felt better.

Until I was off the bicycle for several minutes. Oh. My. Word. It felt like my leg seized up. I was not feeling more pain than before. That is when I went to the web to find out what might be up.

“Achilles paratenonitis is caused by overuse or repeated movements and poorly fitted shoes,” was the reason Webmd.com gave for the cause. Well, I don’t know about the poorly fitted shoes, but I certainly had some repeated movements!

One question that came to mind was that the article went on to say, “Symptoms are usually worse during activity.” This isn’t really the case for me — when I am on the bicycle. Walking and especially going upstairs is awful. However, riding the bicycle isn’t nearly as bad.

Whatever the case, I’m going to be good from now on! I’m taking the advice of the article, “Treatment consists of rest, pain relief, stretching exercises, and changes in sports techniques and footwear to reduce stress on the tendon.” I’ll be off the bicycle for a few days. I’m taking some acetaminophen, putting my leg up on ice when I’m home, and trying to gently stretch.

One thing I have learned from this is that as you get older, you can’t just jump out there and do the things you could do when you were younger. Next time I’ve got to do a better job of training. I’ll pay with the work early, or pay with the pain later.

The roads: We’re in this together

Yesterday, I returned from a 240-mile ride that took me across northern South Carolina and into southeastern North Carolina (read about it here and here). It was a physically demanding solo ride. I was glad to get home but even happier to be alive.

Returning to Greenville Sunday evening, I was sitting down to catch up on things I may have missed while cycling. I happened upon a news report of a Michael Roberts who died while riding his bicycle in northern Greenville county. Having just spent so many hours covering all those miles across two states, this really hit home.

I can assume that Michael was riding recreationally judging by his bike brand and the fact he was riding north of Travelers Rest when his home was in Greer. I do not know much about him, but I do wonder if he has children. At 55 he’s not that much older than I. Maybe he has a highschooler or maybe a college student like I do.

It brought one specific instance to mind from the ride. It was one that shook me. It was the first thought as I read the report about Michael.

Now, don’t get me wrong. During that 240-mile trip, I was passed by many, many drivers. The vast majority of them gave me plenty of room and treated me well. I received some thumbs up and some friendly “toot-toots”.

One instance comes to mind was as I approached a narrow bridge on a two lane road. I could hear the exhaust modulation from a semi as I heard him let off the accelerator as he approached me down a hill. I pulled off to the shoulder so he would not have to come to a complete stop. He passed blinking his lights in thanks. Then a jeep driver was next. I looked at him and waved him on. He blinked his lights back at me and I could see him motioning for me to go first.

There are good people in the world. In all my years of cycling, I’ve found that for the most part when cyclists and other vehicle drivers take notice of each other and work together, we get along fine. Really, on this weekend’s ride, I could count on one hand the number of drivers who expressed displeasure with me.

Those don’t really scare me. They annoy me, yes. Sometimes they make me angry, but they are aware of me. Their expressions of annoyance toward me are evidence of it. The guy who gives me plenty of room, but holds his horn down as he passes me is not a threat. The redneck in his pickup truck who accelerates to blow diesel smoke in my direction is merely an annoyance to me.

The one moment that struck fear in my heart was one instance on Highway 9 in South Carolina. It was four lanes at that time. I was nearing a town and had only a mile before I would make a turn onto a parallel road that was less traveled cialis livraison rapide canada. For the most part, drivers were giving me the entire right lane as they used the left.

Then I felt a car go by me. The wind ruffled my tight-fitting cycling jersey. I held my line and watched the car move away from me. When it did, I saw it wobble a bit. I could see the driver’s head jerk.

I am guessing, but I would be willing to put good money on the fact that this is how it went down. This driver was following along with traffic. Pretty much it was the flow of traffic guiding this individual as the driver was looking down at a cell phone while keeping track of the road with peripheral vision.

The fact that I was on the road did not register until the car was pretty much beside and then beyond me. Most likely, the driver had the same feeling of panic I had as the realization sank in that we were both nearly involved in a tragedy. The wobble was caused by a too late reaction to what could have happened.

This person was not out looking for cyclists to annoy. The problem was that this driver wasn’t looking for cyclists — or anyone else for that matter. This is the great danger of our roads today… for cyclists, for pedestrians… for everyone.

I love to ride my bicycle. I ride for the opportunity to get outdoors and feel the freedom of the road. I also ride for the exercise. I’m not getting any younger and I know that staying in shape becomes more important if I want to live a quality life in my older years. On the other hand, I want to live long enough to enjoy my fitness!

That is one of the reasons why I find myself riding indoors using the computer cycling simulation called Zwift. It minimizes my time spent on the road while helping to maintain my fitness. The vast majority of my riding in preparation for this weekend’s long ride was done in my basement.

Still, I will be back on the road. I choose my routes carefully. I have a follow car when I can. I operate aware of the vehicles around me and contrary to many opinions, I give way to the cars. I do not seek to “own my space.”

This approach, along with Zwift, has served me well. I know that when it is my time to go, I’ll go. At the same time, I’m not into taking unnecessary risks. But that goes for everyone else on the road…

Ride aware. Drive aware. Ride to be noticed. Drive with expectation. Give room.

We can get along.

Mid-life crisis

I think I’m entering a mid-life crisis. No, I did not buy a sports car or start styling a comb over. However, I do think I’m understanding more what it means to be at that stage in life. My relationship with the bicycle explains it.

I don’t think a mid-life crisis is so much a particular age as much as a stage in life where people find themselves “caught in between.” As I started out on my ride yesterday ruminating over the jumbled thoughts and emotions in my mind, that was the conclusion I reached. It best describes how I feel.

It isn’t just the bicycle… that is the least of it. Here I am as a middle manager. I still believe in the mission of the university where I serve, but I don’t really see a path of advancement from my current role. It has been exciting starting Worthwhile and watching it grow over the years. However, now it seems that I’m more of an observer than an active participant as I trust its growth to more knowledgeable and experienced team members. The I Do It For Foundation is a tool waiting to take off, but I lack the time and resources I really need to devote to it to help it grow.

A mid-life crisis is like being stuck in one of those Pacific doldrums. That place where the wind stops blowing and the waves disappear. You might be moving with a current, but it is imperceptible.

There was a time when the bicycle became my outboard motor. Getting out on the bicycle and pushing the watts would awaken energy and give me something for which to aim. That energy would carry over to my personal and work life.

However, as I mounted the bicycle yesterday, I sensed that “caught in the middle” feeling. I only had a small amount of time to ride. Even if I had more time to ride, what difference would it make? For what was I doing this? All I needed to do is have 30 minutes or so of exercise to keep myself healthy. The old days of training for an event are long gone.

So, I found myself rolling down the old familiar roads that I have ridden hundreds of times before. I almost felt myself tear up. Not tears of sadness, but of frustration.

With that attitude I found myself at the base of Altamont Road. I put it in the big ring and started the climb. My thought was just to let the frustrations out. I envisioned myself riding to failure and collapsing in a sobbing mess just over halfway.

By the top of the tower segment I felt surprisingly good. I slid under 5 minutes at the halfway point. Reason had returned and the old calculating nature kicked in. I knew I would blow on The Wall if I kept this up. I shifted to the inside ring and focused on my cadence. If I paced this right, I could beat my time of 12:39 from a week ago.

From that point until the end, I wasn’t thinking of my psyche. I was just focused on following the terrain and trying to keep my wattage as high as my physique would allow. Then about halfway up The Wall, I stood and let my pent up feelings flow to my pedals.

I stopped the Garmin at 12:04. I had crushed my earlier 2016 time by over half a minute. I rolled from the “You Made It!” line realizing that my body was actually as strong as it has been for the last several years. I was less than 15 seconds away from my fastest Strava time and just a half minute slower than my fastest time ever set about a decade ago.

You would think that effort would have reawakened something in me. I admit there was an evaluation of where I could have possibly picked up the seconds I would need to get a Strava PR. However, that was quickly followed by, “Why?” What was the purpose in that?

I still feel caught in the middle. It seems that the currents of the different parts of my life keep fighting each other refraining me from being able to gain momentum in any of them. I start to feel like a jack of all trades and master of none.

Anybody else out there understand how I’m feeling? Anyone out there ever faced your mid-life crisis and came out swinging? Anyone have a Corvette they want to sell?

I Ride For Manish

Today I’ll be attempting a 112 mile journey on my trainer. Zwift is donating $112 to MoreThanSport.org for every Zwift user who completes the challenge. Today is the last day to pull it off.

So, I went to learn a bit more about More Than Sport before I put myself through this suffering. I learned that the organization is raising money for five particular categories… Water, Food, Medicine, Shelter, and Education. All of those things are good things and worth supporting. I learned from the website how just a $1 could make a difference… what difference could $112 make?

However, I was reminded why I started the I Do It For Foundation. As I looked at the site, I could see how the organization would be supporting broad initiatives that would create and maintain an infrastructure for meeting a need. What I had a hard time finding where the individual instances where all this work was making a difference.

What are their stories? Exactly how much of my $112 was going to end up actually touching an individual? It is awesome to feel that you are being a part of something big, but what is more important is the people that big thing is touching.

I’m thankful for More Than Sport and other organizations that are doing these “big things.” We need them! However, I think there is a place for an organization like the I Do It For Foundation that allows people to focus in on the individual and bring 100% of a resource — no matter how small — to the individual. Often, the personal nature of the attempt means more that the amount of money you might raise.

CFH-On-The-Ground

As I searched through the More Than Sport blog, I came upon Manish. He is a 13-year old boy whose mother was injured during the devastating natural disasters in Nepal. Through Convoy of Hope (a More Than Sport supported group), Manish was able to find some relief.

He took on the role as provider and protector for his family. He cut grass for cattle to make money, while worrying what his family would eat. That’s until he heard about Convoy of Hope’s food distribution near the remote village of Lamosangu. Manish hiked down the mountain to get the food-kit consisting of rice, lentils, salt and oil.

I don’t know if any of my pedal strokes will actually bring relief to Manish. However, as I pedal today, I will be Riding For Manish. Needs have faces. Manish represents those faces to me.

For you next triathlon, ironman, marathon, fondo… or whatever event you are already training for… why not turn it into something more by finding a person near you who has a need and turn that event into your I Do It For ___ campaign? You’re already training for it… why not make it something more?

IDoItFor.org

Today, I’ll be riding for Manish.

The fun of the county line

I will admit that I am not much of a social rider. Most of my time on the bicycle is alone time. When I really enjoy riding in a group it is when there is a bit of a competitive vibe going on. It was this kind of ride that got me hooked on cycling over a decade ago.

That lead me into organized racing. However, to race — and race well — is all about commitment. There comes a moment when you realize the time it will take to make yourself competitive exceeds the time you can devote to it. It is a sad day.

There were those moments early in the season when I ventured out with a number on my back and found myself at the mercy of the riders around me. It was possible to hang for a portion of the race, but at those moments during the end of the race when training shows itself… I had nothing.

It was disheartening. I just couldn’t find pleasure in being field fodder. I’ve known what it is like to be at the front. I’ve known what it is like to win. Finishing 20th or so week after week just doesn’t cut it.

So I found myself lost. If I wasn’t training for something and what training I was doing would never be enough, what was I riding for? Yes, there is the sheer pleasure of being outdoors, but when you have a competitive urge… it is frustrating.

Last night I experienced the fun of those early days. It happened on Watopia. Once again… Zwift to the rescue!

I logged on feeling pretty tired. However, I wanted to get in an hour so I could meet my exercise goals for the day. By the top of the first hill I was pushing along at about 4.0 wkg. For me that would be in the upper 300 and low 400 watts. Once I got the motor running I could keep it up.

As I noticed the time for the upcoming sprint, I realized that it was within reach. So, I went for it and barely missed it by a fraction of a second. However, before I finished the lap, I inherited it as the faster rider logged off.

Turning around, I headed the other direction. I went for both the KOM and the sprint on this one and barely missed both. This was where my tired legs got me. I could hold wattage, but I had no snap to put down the 1000+ watts to assure a good finish.

orange

However, as I neared the finish, I realized that I was going to grab the orange jersey easily! It was a nice surprise after the earlier pain and failure. I was right proud of that orange jersey.

And then it was gone.

Hmmmm, who was this person who stole my jersey? Ah, it was the current holder of the green jersey. That would be my next marker along my circuit.

If he was going to take my orange jersey, then I’d just take his green one! I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because he had a pretty decent time. Still, tired legs or not, I wanted this one.

As I descended toward the wooden bridge that was the length of the sprint, I put my gearing in the 53×11. I knew I had to have the Kickr all wound up before I hit the start line or I’d have no chance. I stood and pushed forward not looking at the TV screen. I didn’t want to be tempted to let up as I neared the line.

Out of the periphery of my vision I saw the wooden slats of the road pass. Then I glimpsed the line. It was only then that I looked up at the time to find that just moments after loosing my orange jersey I had claimed the green.

green

That is the “fun of the county line.” Zwift gives you multiple opportunities for this impromptu competition. It is possible for me because it does not require long endurance. At my fastest these efforts last me anywhere from 11 seconds to just under 4 minutes. On a good day, I can keep the wheels turning to grab a 14 minute plus lap on Watopia.

Zwift helps scratch my competitive itch. When I feel up to it, I can do full length races. When I’m pressed for time and not on top of my game, I can still manage a little bicycle sparring on the shorter challenges.

Sprinting for that county line still brings the same feelings that it did years ago… even if now days the line is a virtual one.

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.

11756962_10155852748760650_576901071_o

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.

 

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.

11720884_10155839553035650_755094892_o

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.

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.

tdf

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!

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.

bimmer

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.

suninclouds

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.

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…