Tag Archives: Altamont

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?

Sometimes you just need a Giant carrot

First things first.  You’ll notice the sponsor section over to the right – on the main page.  I’m trying to line up some sponsors for the blog and I’m glad to say that Quarq is the first on board.  Obviously, I’m looking for sponsors who have products I use and believe in.  Quarq falls in the category.  Thanks Jim and Mieke!

Now for the ride. I sent a text message to John James early in the day.  We had been getting together to do some riding and Thursday evening was supposed to be the next opportunity.  He responded with “I’m riding easy.”  I was hoping he would say that.  A hard ride on Tuesday and Wednesday had me tired.

When I showed up I found that Bob Rentz was there.  Now things were getting to be like old times.  Mike and Art had ridden the night before so a reunion wouldn’t be complete.  Matt – Turner, that is – was there as was Anthony and Rob.  The only guy along for the ride that I hadn’t ridden with before was James Barker, the regional sales representative for Giant.

We rolled out and indeed it was a nice leisurely ride for the most part.  For the first hour we averaged 161 watts.  The only excitement during that hour was nearly having the whole group taken out by a family with a bassett hound in the middle of the road.

We came around a curve and there they were.  The poor dog didn’t even move.  I did my best to keep from taking down both Matt and myself when my wheel got caught between his wheel and deraileur.

The only other dog issue came when a little wiener dog came flying out in the road to eat me up.  I had been lulled to a false sense of safety because most of the homes in that area had hidden fencing.  So, as I saw the little runt heading across the grass toward us, I figured he would stop.  No.  He kept coming.  My fear wasn’t that he would bite me.  I was afraid he would get that pointed nose stuck in my spokes!

Then it was time to climb Altamont.  I started up behind Matt and James.  This would be James’ first attempt up the climb.  I was curious to see how he would do.

Matt eased up some and then Anthony came to join us.  Before long it was just James, Anthony, and myself.  At the halfway point, Anthony backed off and I was left to hang onto James’ wheel.

He didn’t look in trouble at all.  He was just holding a steady cadence.  I started getting into difficulty.  This was not supposed to be a night for an effort.  With about a third to go, I eased up just slightly and just focused on my own pace.

I figured the one thing I had going for me was that James had not climbed this road before.  He had never encountered “The Wall.”  I decided to recover a bit and see where he was in front of me when we were both on that stretch.

When I entered the straight, I could see him about halfway up.  I dropped my gear about three rings and stood on it to see if I could at least come up close behind him.  As I reached the halfway point, I looked up to see him in trouble.  Ah! There was a chance!

I started huffing and puffing to get around him and passed him in the last 30 to 50 meters.  I rolled across the KOM line in 12 minutes and 12 seconds – just 7 seconds off of my personal best.  My Quarq CinQo was telling me I had put out an average of 304 watts for the 12 minute climb.  Mr. Barker was a very good carrot!

I figure he came across no more that 15 seconds later.  So, his first ever attempt of Altamont was around 12 minutes and 30 seconds.  I guarantee that his second time would be better.  Matt put in a 13:12 effort – a personal best for the big man.

Of course, we still had to go down.  Anthony took off to claim that prize.  Matt and I took off after him.  Sure enough, James was right on our tail.

Matt had his best climb ever up the mountain, but when he is along on a ride I figure the downhill portion belongs to him.  He and Anthony were tearing it up and I was just along for the ride.  I’m still a little fearful after my broken finger incident so I was not taking some of the turns as hot as they.  I slowed James down a bit.

As we came off the mountain it was Matt in front with Anthony, myself, and James finishing up the train.  I tried to get some momentum to come out of the draft, but the two guys in front were just too strong to get around.

The best part?  I feel great!  This weekend is the State Criterium Championships and I’ll be joining my teammates to see how we can do.  I’ll admit that this is not my favorite style of racing, but maybe if I just do it some more I’ll get used to it.

All I know is that we have some awesome bikes to ride on out there.  Thanks, James!

Yes, that was pretty cool

Today was a beautiful day.  It started for me out spreading mulch at my in-laws.  Don’t feel to badly for me.  My mother-in-law made us all steak and potatoes and then followed it up with homemade apple pie and ice cream.

We finished earlier than I figured we would.  So, I was able to be out on my bike by 1:30.  The rest of the family had taken a picnic to the park with their bikes.  They took my air pump with them.

The plan was to go out there without a plan – that is other than to take a nice slow, easy pace for a nice,  long ride.  First, I needed to get some air in my tires.  I swung by Sunshine Cycle Shop and they fixed me up.

While I was there I ran into Barry Burden.  He was getting ready to head out himself.  So, we started out together into the beautiful 74 degree and sunny day.

We pedaled slowly talking as we went.  An hour and a half later, we were near Marrietta.  The day was living up to being everything we hoped it would be.  We turned around and headed for home.

Of course, the way home led us by Paris Mountain.  I told Barry I would see him later because I planned to go over the mountain.  I figured Barry would head back toward Greenville on Old Buncombe.  He was on a training plan that probably wouldn’t like the effort it would take on the climb.

He dicided to come along and we started the climb.  I was playing around with my iPod because I couldn’t get it working.  I wasn’t even thinking that much about my pace.  By the time I did, I realized I was feeling pretty good and holding a decent pace.

I didn’t set my mind to break a record up the climb.  I knew I was too heavy for that.  However, this was my first climb on the new Giant and it would be nice to see how things ended up.

The timer stopped at 12:25 and I was satisfied with that.  I stopped and waited for a bit to see if Barry would be coming.  He told me that it would take him about 20 minutes.  Hmmmm, I didn’t want to wait there that long.  So, I started off down the State Park side.  Good thing because I learned later that Barry had turned around about a mile up the climb.

I really loving my Giant.  I’m starting to get more comfortable with the handling of the bike.  I’m finally not thinking about it as much.  It was fun letting it run down Altamont.

As I reached the bottom the light at State Park Road was green.  I made the right turn and then moved over to the white line.  As I did so, a guy pulled up beside me on a cafe style motorcycle.  I looked over and he said with an incredulous sound in his voice, “You were going 48 miles an hour back there!”  I just grinned and smiled.  I didn’t want to tell him I had gone over 50 before.  “That’s cool!” he said and then accelerated away.

It was pretty cool.  The whole day was cool.  Hope to have a lot more of them this year.