Category Archives: Life

Them there be fightin’ words

The video Zwift Friday Training Race May 8, 2015 on my YouTube channel seems to have been picked up somewhere because just over the weekend it was viewed over 1000 times. I still haven’t tracked down what has driven the interest, but I have noticed that it has also generated a couple of comments. I was surprised at how one of the comments got under my skin.

The first somewhat negative comment didn’t bother me so much. It made me chuckle. Even as I edited the video, I wondered how long it would be before someone made a jab at me.

Factory051 commented: “Britisher? Greece doesn’t have a flag? What on earth is wrong with you?”

Yes, I did say “Britisher” when I should have said “Brit.” However, in my defense I would ask you to do a voice over of a video without a script and see how many times you misspeak! When you are in the midst of a list of “ers” and suddenly have a pattern interrupt, it is hard to break the cycle. Anyway, I just claimed the ignorant American excuse on that one.

Now, as for Greece not having a flag. Of course, the country of Greece has a national flag. What it did not have at the time of the race was a flag for Zwift. As I was doing the voice over, it did cross my mind that someone might be confused. You will actually hear a pause after I said it as my mind was trying to decide whether to try to explain. Bottomline is that Zwifters understand that not every countries flag has always been represented on the software.

It wasn’t that comment that got to me. It was one by Thomas Nigl. He was calling me out and “questioning my manhood.” He commented: “The watts displayed are a joke! Way too high!”

I bristled and came back with an uncharacteristic (for me) challenge, “Come visit me in Greenville and let your legs decide if the wattage is wrong.” Of course, I added a ” ;-)” that I didn’t really mean. For some reason this comment ticked me off.

Why?

I think one reason is that in someways those of us on Zwift — and more so those of us who share these kinds of videos — are placing ourselves in a vulnerable situation. At any moment on Zwift, I can click over to another rider and see RPM, wattage, and heart rate. I can get an instant understanding of the rider’s ability by following his or her watts per kilogram.

Riding on the road allows you to hold your cards closer to your chest. You can telegraph weakness when you are strong and hide tired legs when you feel like you are about to get dropped. Your cycling computer is there for only you to see.

In Zwift, we lay ourselves bare. The numbers are there for everyone to see. Perhaps that is why when those numbers are questioned, it causes us to react more defensively. It is one thing for someone to take a swing at you when you have your gloves up. It is another thing for someone to give a punch when you have your arms open.

Of course, another reason is because of the prevalence of “flyers” who have in ignorance set their trainers up incorrectly or are intentionally gaming the system by false weight entries or manipulation of the trainer. The reaction against these riders by many Zwift is enough to cause anyone to bristle at someone intimating that you might be one of them.

It also annoyed me because I know what my abilities are. I have YEARS of data showing that these numbers are not abnormal for me. They are consistent with what I do on the road and here on Zwift. They can be attested to by my riding buddies and my one-time coach.

Finally, it annoyed me because even though this guy thought the wattage was too high. It still wasn’t high enough! I’ve never come close to winning one of these Zwift races. Just because you can put out average to above average wattage for a given period of time does not mean that you can do it long enough.

Weighing in on a skinny day at 170 and a normal day around 174, I HAVE to put out the wattages seen in the video in order to stay up with guys 20 and even 30 pounds lighter than I am. The good news is I can actually do it for about 20 minutes. The bad news is that I can’t pull it off for an entire race.

Here I was suffering to try for a good finish. I even manage to make the podium. Someone comes along and questions my result.

Okay. I know. The ultimate answer to my problem is pride. Does it really matter what Thomas thinks?

On the other hand, this shows another unique aspect of the Zwift community. We really are exposing ourselves when we honestly roll up to the line. We can have more insight into the abilities of the riders around us. There is something about that vulnerability that forms a bond.

And so, in Zwift, as in other aspects of life, honesty becomes a foundational component of good relationships. I’m proud to be a part of the community and the relationships I have formed there. It is important to me that my participation be honest.

So, the gloves are up to those who might question, but my arms are open to the great friends I’ve enjoyed riding with — both racing and recreationally — on Zwift.

Throw back Thursday

Didn’t ride yesterday. Don’t really have anything much to write about today. So, I went back in time to see what I’d written about in the past on this day. I learned something. I have huge gaps in my blog.

To find a post on this date I had to all the way back to June 2010. Now, I did have posts in June 2011 and June 2012, but there were only a few of them. In 2013 and 2014, the month of June had no posts at all.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. I often get caught up in something and go in bursts. There are several times in the history of this blog that I’ve gone months without a post. It is probably more of a surprise that I have kept this going since 2005!

Anyway, here is the “blast from the past.”

2010 Ride for Mike route: Day Two

In this post I continue to lay out my plans for the 2010 Ride for Mike. I also mention my plans to have my wife, Annette, follow along with me in a support vehicle. Wow, that trip seems so long ago, but what a memory!

Pulling my own weight

Back in 2009, I was writing about undesired weight gain. I guess somewhere I have recorded how much I weighed back then. It obviously was less than I weigh now! I was complaining about a 12:45 climb up Paris Mountain. I had just gained 4 pounds while vacationing at my childhood home for a week.

I notice I’m still climbing the mountain with about the same wattage as then… but I’m doing it much slower. I think I’ve gained a bit more weight over these last six years. Man… has it been six years!?!

A service of praise

June 2008 has only two entries… reports of my Assault on Mt. Mitchell. However, June 2007 brought back a memory filled with sadness, but also sweetness. This day eight years ago, I went to the funeral service of Michael T. McCaskill. He is the Mike of “I Ride For Mike.” The I Do It For Foundation was formed out of a desire to remember him and the life he lived.

Not sure when I’ll be back on the bicycle. It might be a Zwift night due to my schedule. This weekend the Beautiful Redhead and I will be celebrating our anniversary. I will not be taking the bicycle along!

Tour of Confusion

After basically spending my week on Zwift’s Watopia, I was looking forward to getting outside for my weekly Saturday morning excursion with the guys. The only thing I was not looking forward to was the 2,500 feet of climbing we typically do over the 28 mile route. I could only hope it wouldn’t be a slugfest at the numerous sprint zones along the way.

I pulled into the shop to find Luis, Matt, and Art just arriving. There were also two other guys I had not met before; Mitch and Adam. We waited for a few minutes to see if anyone else would show. While waiting, we discussed the plans for the day.

Only Art and Luis seemed to have a strong desire to ride a certain route. So, we all decided to repeat last Saturday morning’s route with a little alteration on the other side of Paris Mountain. With that all decided it was time to execute.

Matt and I took the front and we headed out talking as we moved along on a beautiful morning. It was a little humid, but there was also a breeze and the sun was still low enough that it wasn’t using the humidity to boil our already sweating skin. It was going to be a good ride!

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The first part of the ride takes you along the base of Paris Mountain. There are no large climbs, but there are numerous rollers that can have a sting if you take them fast enough. Thankfully, I didn’t think we were setting too hard of a pace.

Then we reached the smooth tarmac of Parker Road and we headed up what is called the Evangelical Climb due to a camp along the road. I don’t think I have ever attempted this segment at full gas. It is deceptive in that it appears you could fly along it, but you gain over 130 feet over the mile distance.

It was here I noticed Mitch starting to wain. Everyone else was tapping out a tempo that suited each individual and they were all moving away from the slower rider. So, I backed off and allowed myself to get overtaken.

Mitch was riding a new Giant bicycle with road disc brakes. It was the first time I had ridden with anyone who had a full on road setup with disc brakes. I asked him if his name was Mitch. He replied in affirmative with somewhat of a surprise as if to say, “How did you know?” I told him I had heard the guys in the shop talking about his new ride.

We continued along until we came to the first direct turn since we had been dropped by the others. They weren’t there waiting for us. So, I led Mitch off of Parker onto Phillips Trail.

Phillips Trail is currently packed dirt and gravel as it awaits resurfacing. It makes it a nice diversion from the normal asphalt, but it also has some biting little rises in it. I knew it would take some time for the two of us to make it. I was hoping the guys would be waiting for us as we intersected Patrol Club Road.

They weren’t there. “Man,” I said to Mitch. “I can’t believe they didn’t wait for us!” Surely they would be at the next stop sign. So, we pushed on along the long stretch of Pilot Road to Old Buncombe Road. They just had to be there.

I looked at my phone. There was a text message. “Where did you go?” Matt was asking.

“I had to drop back with Mitch.” I replied. “Pick a stop sign and wait for us. We are just now on Buncombe.” I put the phone back in my pocket and began to pull Mitch in my draft toward the next stop sign at Poinsett Highway.

Ahead I could see some riders. That might be our missing comrades. So, I put my head down a bit and picked up the pace. However, as we got closer, I could see it was a different group.

Once again I pulled out my phone. There was a new message from Matt. It had me staring at the phone in disbelief.

“We are at Philips and Patrol. We will head to Buncombe.”

I then replied to Matt as a plan began to form in my mind.

“How did that happen? We turned right onto Phillips and I never saw you. Just keep riding and we will meet you at Tandem.”

My thought was that I could take Mitch on a short cut and cut off the loop that would take the route out to the Green Valley Country Club. I could do this by turning off of Roe Ford Road onto the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The SRT and the full route would then meet up again at the crepe and coffee shop named Tandem. This way the guys could get in their full miles and Mitch could take his time and get ready for the push back to the shop.

Then something unexpected happened. I pulled out my phone to see Matt’s reply to my message. Mitch and I were now rolling peacefully along the bike path. That peace was shattered when I noticed my message to Matt was hung.

The Message app had not sent it. I closed and reopened the app and all my messages were gone! ALL of them. So, I rebooted the phone and by the time I got the new message composed and sent, Mitch and I were almost in TR proper.

Then came Matt’s reply. “Ha. We are now at Old Parker and Buncombe. We will meet you at Pilot and Old Buncombe. We never turned on Phillips.” Well, that wasn’t going to work.

I tried to salvage my idea. “Sorry. My text messaging crashed. We are on the SRT headed to Travelers Rest. Keep riding along the normal route at a good speed. We will go to Tandem and then backtrack on the route. We will meet you then.”

Mitch and I passed Tandem and then headed along the route as I mentioned. I decided to keep the guys up-to-date with where we were so we could make a proper junction. Then I got another text from Matt.

“We are at Tandem.”

What?

“So you guys did not continue on the normal route? Mitch is having trouble staying up. He would not be able to maintain the pace. We are headed back to you on Sweetgum and McElhaney.”

Finally, we were all back together and we decided to take the direct route to the base of Paris Mountain. A couple of the guys had time constraints and we had already gotten too far behind the clock. Not everyone was happy with it, but we had to do what we had to do.

We were all looking forward to the top.

We were all looking forward to the top.

At the base of Altamont Road, Luis decided to roll on in a different direction to get some more miles. He would later return to the mountain and cross over it to the shop and his waiting truck. The rest of us headed up the 2.2 miles climb.

I was rolling talking with Matt and noticed on the water tower section that I was still riding in my 53 though I was all the way up on my 32 cog. I decided to ride the rest of the way in the big ring. It would give me a challenge.

The slower pace in the first part of the climb had me feeling a little spritely for the last third or so. Another rider who was just descending the mountain when we turned up it had joined us and he was just on Matt’s wheel as I looked back to see a gap had formed. I couldn’t help it. I just had to keep him behind me.

From that point on I rode pretty much at around 350 to 400 watts with that rider slowly pulling himself towards me. Then right before the wall as he was about to make contact, I stood and pushed to the top. I could see his shadow disappear from behind me and I cross the line with a few seconds to spare.

As he crested I called out, “Good job!” And he replied with, “Thanks for the extra motivation!” as he kept rolling. I stopped to wait for my crew.

Matt came up. Then Art followed. Art said he was just going to roll on. He was supposed to meet his wife and extend his ride.

Then Adam came and went. Matt then said that he would need to roll. Mitch had not yet arrived.

I headed down to find him. I did as he was suffering through the dreaded section I call the “Box of Death” (named after a box at the top of the section where I typically begin to feel the full brunt of an effort up Altamont). He was standing along side the road.

I encouraged him to mount up again and turn the pedals just enough to keep the bike moving. There was no need to kill himself on the climb. I’d stay with him.

During conversation along the route, I had learned that this was his first real ride on the Giant and that he had only ridden the shop ride twice. Both other attempts had been the traditional Hour of Power route. Something dawned on me.

“So,” I slowly said. “This is your first climb of Paris Mountain?”

Wow, poor Mitch and his Giant were getting a baptism by fire! All the more reason I wanted to help him to keep the pedals turning. I was offering words of encouragement and finding an excuse here or there to stop.

Mitch crests the top of Paris Mountain for the first time!

Mitch crests the top of Paris Mountain for the first time!

Finally, we made it.

The way back to the shop was uneventful. Where Mitch had to struggle on the climb, he seemed very comfortable descending on his machine. Before we knew it, we were standing drinking a cup of coffee and enjoying his accomplishment.

“I’m sorry I held you guys up,” Mitch said. “No.” I replied. “I’m glad you came. Otherwise all we would have done was what we always do.” I let him know I was happy to experience his adventure with him.

And I meant it.

Down? Do.

I got home from work and stood silently in my bedroom. It was a moment of decision. Was I going to ride or not? For the first time in awhile it wasn’t that I had something else to do, it was that I actually felt an aversion to putting on my gear and slogging out into the humidity… and for what?

I suited up.

When I first started out, it seemed that my fears were realized. My legs felt heavy and the air which was threatening rain was heavier around me. Mentally, I found myself staring at my stem and I was hardly out from my driveway.

Still, I decided to ride on. I know you will think it is silly, but I had joined the Strava climbing challenge and only had a few more days to get the meters necessary to claim the little virtual badge. An over and back of Paris Mountain would bring me about one ride away from the goal.

Down Wade Hampton and onto Chick Springs I rode. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t feeling very motivated, I wasn’t pushing hard. By the time I reached Rutherford Road, I was starting to at least feel that the ride would not be a waste of my time.

Dodging through the traffic at the Piney Mountain Road intersection, I gave a medium effort up the east side. Cresting the top, I was once again feeling down. The effort made me feel slow. It made me feel old. I was feeling sorry for myself.

Then I crossed State Park Road and headed up Altamont. Ahead I could see the blinking light of another rider. He looked an awful lot like a rabbit to me.

Suddenly my mind shifted away from myself to the target ahead. I didn’t take off after him, but I did settle into a pace that had me gaining. I figured I would catch him on The Wall.

Sure enough, I was on his wheel as we both came out of the saddle to keep our bikes moving up the short but steep grade. I noticed that he was wearing a full Strava kit. The jersey was green and the shorts black. Actually, it was a nice design. I’d wear one… if I didn’t have to pay for it.

We exchanged breathless hellos and I was going to go along with him, but he seemed to be hurting from the effort. I rolled easy for a bit, but then kept going as he lagged behind. It was getting late and the rain seemed eminent. I wanted to get home.

However, I had forgotten my morose thoughts. My muscles were now loose and the humidity didn’t seem so oppressive. Rather, it felt like it was playing a part in loosening my earlier tight and sore muscles.

I found myself turning off of Altamont onto Lake Circle. Here I was adding to my ride. I told myself it would help add extra meters to my climbing goal.

By the time I was reaching the last straight toward the Paris Mountain KOM, I was smiling to myself. I was feeling much stronger and the rhythm of my spinning legs was keeping time for each breath. My body was doing its own thing and my mind was just the passenger.

mojoreturn

Even Tower Road didn’t seem to bother me now. I stopped at the top and took a picture. Taking time to reflect on what had happened to this point, I thought to myself, “You suffer when you are not motivated so that when you are motivated you can better enjoy the ride.” Avoiding the bike when you don’t feel it, only sets you back for those times when you want to let it loose!

Descending the Furman side was a joy… if anything, it was cold! The sweat from the climbing effort was now a cooling agent with the lower mountain temperatures and wind from the descent. By the time I reached the bottom, I was ready to warm up again.

On the way down, I saw two riders nearing halfway. Farther down the road, I had passed three other riders. Those last three were just low enough on the climb to make me wonder if I might be able to join them.

I quickly sped to the finish and then turned to begin my ascent. My mind wasn’t on much of anything other than seeing if I could catch those guys. As I came around each bend in the road, I would look ahead to see if I could glimpse my herd of rabbits.

Finally, just after passing halfway, I could see a lone straggler from the group. I hoped I could perhaps catch him before the top. At first I gained on him, but I think he realized I was there and started to pick up his pace. I knew if he reached the final grunt to the end before me I would just have to let him go.

Sure enough, when I reached the base, I saw him about halfway ahead. He was standing and giving some effort toward the finish. “Not tonight,” I thought. No need to bury myself just to get around him.

As it was I reached the top just as the guys were regrouping. It wasn’t a great time for me (13:27), but I felt good about the climb. I waved as I came by them as they were turning to make a run down the road they just climbed.

I then made one more climb up Tower Road. At the top, I came upon the two cyclists that I initially saw on my descent. Approaching them I said, “Wow, it is humid out, isn’t it!” They affirmed my weather announcement. I then started to coast toward the road out.

“Hey,” came the voice behind me. “Are you Jonathan Pait?” I said I was. “I was just telling my son about a video you made of the climb up Paris Mountain, and wouldn’t you know it, here you are.” He went on to say he recognized my voice from the commentary.

We chatted some about segments and various riders in the area. Then he said something that made me feel a bit awkward. “Your videos got me from the mountain bike to the road bike.” I didn’t know how to respond to that and so I mumbled something about how I started out on mountain bikes as well.

We parted after a bit more chatting and I rolled away. I admit I write this blog for me even if no one else reads it. It scratches that writing itch I’ve had since junior high. However, to have someone tell me that this exercise was an encouragement to them was a real shot in the arm!

It was hard not to have a smile on my face as I sped toward home. It was no longer about motivation or a lack thereof. It was now all about the ride.

And it was good.

Sometimes smiles are more important than miles

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. I trust all my friends here in the United States were reminded throughout of the sacrifices made to allow us to enjoy our way of life. It is a great weekend to take a break, but never forget the somber undertones.

I did get out on my bicycle Saturday. That was it for the weekend cialis generique ligne. Sunday I was with family and Monday I actually worked the morning and then spent the afternoon retrieving a quadcopter from a water oak in my neighbor’s yard. My son had accidentally flown the drone too high and wind caught it and blew it into the tree.

Today there are supposed to be thunderstorms in the area. So, I knew if I was going to get it, it would have to be Monday. I got it down by putting foam golf balls on the business end of a target arrow. On the feather side of the arrow I connected fishing line. After much trial and error, I finally got the arrow over the branch where the drone was stuck about 60 feet in the air.

11219475_10153166993981655_5857505925638109047_oThat sounds kind of simple, but it wasn’t! I totaled up the time spent and figured it was around 8 hours total over three days. I also lost a couple of arrows up in the tree when the fishing line broke.

However, finally, I got the arrow over and then connected a stronger nylon rope to the end of the fishing line. My oldest son and I pulled it through the limbs until each of us could grab each end. After much jerking and swinging, we managed to get the quadcopter to fall out of the first limb into a lower one.

This time it went much smoother as we repeated to process to now knock it to an even lower branch. My 6′ 2″ 15-year old then climbed up on a ladder with a yard rake and knocked it clear. My 11-year old (and owner of the drone) was there to catch it.

There was much celebrating and I plopped down to the ground almost with tears of relief coming to my eyes. In all of this I was never sure we would be able to get it. Still, I knew I had to keep trying until there wasn’t time left to try again. A little fellow’s confidence in his father depended on it!

I’ve felt that same feeling on the bicycle. It comes at the end of those “epic” rides when you find yourself deep into the effort and you wonder if you can make it to the end. However, you really don’t have much of a choice. You just have to keep suffering along until you reach the end.

Once advice was given to me when you find yourself in that situation… “Just keep pedaling.” Well, sometimes it is “Just keep shooting,” or “Just keep typing,” or whatever challenge you are facing at the moment. Quitting never gets the drone, and never lets you see the smile of a child with his quadcopter.

Top Tube Thoughts

Some of my best ideas have come to me while riding a bicycle. There have been times when I’ve been trying to work through a logistical issue at work and I’ve left the office, thrown my leg over the top tube, and hit the road. After an hour, I’d return with solution in hand.

The following are some thoughts that came to my mind while spinning along a less traveled route. I tried to capture what inspired my thoughts with these photographs. Go ride! Go think!
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Sometimes I ride because I know where I’m going. Other times because I don’t know which way to go. But I find that when I ride, I always get there.

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Is the bicycle a time machine to take you from reality, or a telescope to help you see it more clearly? Perhaps it is both.

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Sometimes you should take the road less traveled.

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Ahhhhh, the excitement of new paths discovered.

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Nothing ventured… Nothing gained… Wheeeeeeee!

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Life. Even bicycles get caught in it.

These photos are from my Instagram account. Follow along!

I was not dead. Just mostly dead.

Has it been seventeen days since my last post? In some ways it doesn’t seem that long ago and yet in other ways it seems like an eternity. Today I’m just dropping in to let you know I am still alive.

In those three weeks, I have been on the bicycle two times. Both of those times in the last three days. I can chalk up the hiatus to a nasty bout with bronchitis.

This is the first year in several where I have been hit this hard. There was a time back in the early 2000s when I got this gunk like clockwork every spring. It was actually the bicycle that I believe rescued me from that cycle.

The exercise on the bike brought me in my 40s the best health since college — maybe even high school. Sure I’ve had a cold here and there and even some bronchial issues, but nothing like this most recent attack. I was laid low for an entire week. The nagging and seemingly continual cough lingered through this weekend.

I do wonder if perhaps my January workouts affected me. I really went hard and my fatigue level was high. Yes, I was fit muscularly, but I was tired. It was right as I was considering a break that the mess hit me. Maybe some bug found me when I was weak and I’ve been paying for it for the last three weeks.

Anyway, I’m back! I was able to ride the trainer last night with only one attack of my cough. Seems I get it early in an effort and then once I begin to cool down. Once I am going I seem to breath the best.

I’m looking forward to spending some time on Zwift Island and then finding my way outdoors. Already I’m feeling an excitement about the coming time change. The days are growing longer and soon will be warmer. I can’t wait!

No race for me today

I am typing this in a medicated stupor. it is either that or convulse with cough and cough. I feel like I’ve been through an abs crunching routine driven by a drill sergeant. My chest hurts, my diaphragm is sore, and my head is woozy.

I was hoping to get out to the Greenville Spring Training Series race today. I knew it would mean that I would have brave the cold temperatures, but I was excited that my morning had opened up and could race. Then Wednesday morning it hit.

It started as a little tickle in my chest. As the day went on, I found that the tickle was turning into an itching sensation and the coughing was starting to grow worse. I feared for my session I was supposed to teach at my church that night, but I was thankful that I made it through with only a couple of interruptions.

By the middle of that night though, all bets were off. My wife ended up moving to another room   because of my fits of coughing. And so it has been for the last two days.

I get some relief by breathing over a humidifier. I’ve never liked taking medicine much, but this time I went after it. I want to knock this thing out as soon as possible. I still have my sights set on my original plan of February 28’s River Falls race.

A side benefit of all this is that my time off the bike has resolved the pain in my calf muscles. My fatigue has also come more into line so that while my fitness had dropped a few points, my form is moving into the positive area. That should be good for when I am able to get back on the bike.

So, good luck to your brave souls heading out into the frigid temperatures to race. To my friends on Zwift Island keep the roads hot. Once I can beat this cold, I’ll be back!

Sir Crampalot

A little help here, people. I’m having an issue for which I would like to find an answer before this weekend. Actually, not just an answer, but a mediating solution.

Last week I rushed home from work to join Nathan Guerra as he was completing a 5-hour epic trainer ride on Zwift. He was raising money for a program that uses bicycles and racing for youth. My plan was to help him along for his last hour.

Well, I did make it on the trainer in time to join him. He was coming around the island and I was spinning trying to get loose before he caught me. I knew once he did, I was going to have to ramp it up to stay with him, much less give him some pulls.

Unfortunately, he caught me a little too soon! I was not adequately warmed up. However, I did my best to not only stay with him, but give him some drafting help along the way.

I have to admit that I was very happy when he reached the end of his ride. I was feeling pretty rough. Soon after we said our goodbyes, I started to cramp in my calf muscles.

I limped around a bit the next day and then began to feel a bit better, but there was the underlying tightness that hung around. I tried to spin it out on the trainer by going easy. I felt some relief once my legs warmed up, but back in the office the next day the tightness had definitely returned.

Then in the race on Saturday, the cramp in my left calf hit me hard. It was in the exact spot — to the upper outside portion of my calf muscle — as the cramps from my ride with Nathan. On Sunday I could still feel the knot.

I have been rolling the affected spots. I have been trying to warm up more and stretch more after my rides. I have drank electrolytes and water. Still, as I sit here I can still feel that tightness.

I’d like to race again this Saturday morning. However, it is going to be a crit-like race and that means a lot of sprinting. If I can’t get this thing worked out, I’m not sure if I can make it through the 45 minutes or so of the event.

Suggestions? How can I keep this from happening? How can I get ready as much as possible for the Saturday? Help!

Things are not always what they seem

One of my most embarrassing moments on a bicycle was at the conclusion of a race where I made a jerk of myself. This was compounded because I thought I knew something had happened and I responded to it. Turns out what I thought happened didn’t.

Life lesson learned. Don’t react to what you think happened. Act when you know the truth.

I was finishing the final lap of a race on the BMW test track course. Being a relatively new racer and trying to pick up as many points as I could, I sprinted for the line hoping to get inside the top twenty. In doing so, I zipped around a couple of riders who (older and wiser) were winding it down as they approached the line.

One of them was a teammate of mine. I know I frustrated him because I was a noob. I tended to do stupid things — not dangerous, but tactically infantile.

As I went past, I heard something a long the lines of “What the —- are you doing? You’re going to ——- hurt somebody!” Now, first of all. This was a true statement. I shouldn’t have altered my line to weave through the slower riders. Basically, the race was over. However, nobody likes to be cursed at.

Well, I got angry and assumed it was my teammate who had had words with me in the past — though not cursing. I went off on him and said some things in anger. I even posted a tweet expressing my anger.

Guess what? It wasn’t my teammate. It was the other guy. Actually, the more I’ve taken the time to understand my ex-teammate, I realize that isn’t anything he would do. Now, he might silently rip your legs off in the next race, but he wouldn’t act out like that.

I had to publicly apologize for my stupidity. I’ve grown to respect his racing knowledge and abilities even more as I’ve grown to understand the “rules of the peloton.” Now I’m glad I had the opportunity to race with him and am enjoying his son seeming to follow in his footsteps.

Now, that brings us to this weekend. Yesterday, I posted the race video on YouTube. Before I watched the video, I crafted my race report. I ended up having to change my post after I watched the video because something I thought happened, didn’t.

Toward the end of the last lap, Darrin Marhanka came around me. Almost immediately, Rodney Dender also came sailing past on his way to bridging over to the break. From my vantage point on the front, it appeared that Darrin had pulled Rodney up to the front to launch him and then move over to control the pace.

On the video, I realized that wasn’t the case. Darrin came up through the field alone until he got to his teammate, Chris Knetsche. You can see Darrin say something to Chris and then move up to come around me. You then watch Rodney attack from further back in the field.

Even seeing the video, I thought Darrin was coming to Chris to let him know Rodney was going to attack and they should settle in to hold back the pace. What I saw happen seemed to be consistent with that. However, even your eyes can lie.

What happened was Rodney had told Darrin that the break looked dangerous and that the team should work to bring them back. Marhanka had come forward to tell Chris that they needed to move to the front and help pull (which would have made me happy).

Darrin had no idea that Rodney was going to attack at that point. He was not coming around me to hold the pace for Rodney’s attack. He was coming around to start working. Of course, when he saw Rodney take the flyer, he eased off to allow his teammate to get the gap.

This is what makes racing a bike so interesting. It is so much more than pedaling as hard as you can. There are strategies and politics going on constantly. It is kind of like life!

However, just like in life, your assumptions can get you in trouble. Don’t act just on what you THINK happened. It is always good to OBSERVE what happened. Even better, it is a good idea to talk to people and find out what ACTUALLY happened.

It will help you understand tactics better. More importantly, it will help you avoid messing up relationships.