Friday, February 24, 2012

Hold On

I need to explain myself. I wasn't clear in my post yesterday about Suffering. A few emails came in asking me if I was suggesting Running was easier than the bike! Absolutely not! Any opinion I share on here is taken from my own experience. I could never race marathons as much as I desperately wanted to. And when I say desperately I really mean it. I was depressed when my body wouldn't let me run, and I will NEVER get over it. Marathon running and the training associated with it is similar to bike racing. A good marathon runner can train close to their threshold for long periods of time. We do tempo runs of 8 - 12 miles or longer depending on the philosophy and these are run at marathon pace or a little quicker. The length of time means that only small drinks from the bottle are needed and the work should be very tolerable. Once you cross the line, the pace slows and the race or training is over. You can't sit in and coast in a draft for a while eating a clif bar and drinking 22oz of thick carbo fuel. Once your done its over (save the few bizarre comebacks). This is the fundamental difference I am talking about. After 3  hours of riding, especially if its hilly and hard, the body is starving for food and cyclists can eat, replenish, and recover all the while maintaining a hard pace and elevated HR. In a 5 hour race a rider can be dropped only to be paced back up in a draft and have enough in the tank to attack.  Throughout the whole experiencee its never comfortable, hence the suffer part. My experience of hard running was like getting hit with a baseball bat really hard for a short period of time while cycling is like being hit really hard and then tapped incessantly for a while with an occasional hard whack again. A different system and one that requires a lot of concentration for a much longer period of time. There is no doubt that when you cross the line in a running race you suffer. My initial point is that this pain is awful and there is no coming back, no drafting, no food, no push of the back up a hill. Its just get to the finish line without injury.

I've heard some people say that the Tour De France is like running a marathon everyday. Complete nonsense, but a good example of what I am trying to say. You suffer for hours in the hills but next day the fatigue is tolerable and the rider can go out and do it again, maybe even faster. Have you ever seen an elite marathon runner the day after Boston or New York? Their bodies are shattered. Its such a deplorable effort for a little over two hours that it can take 2 -3 weeks or longer to recover and start again. Elites run 2 marathons a year, a pro cyclist can ride 3 grand tours and 50 other races. Thats the difference. If runners didn't have the limiting factor of pounding and intense muscle and joint breakdown they would race every week. I know I would have, for sure. Even the Ironman triathlete can do more long course races because its that slower burn. The breakdown is nutritional, physiological, muscular, mental etc. But they can come back and do another one 2 months later. This frequency of hard marathons happens in running but is rare and careers are very short lived. 

At the other end of the spectrum is track work. This is similar to track bike racing. Extremely hard and intense. When I think suffering I think long periods. Suffering in a jail cell for years or suffering from an illness. The mental  and physical toll of track racing is completely different. My good friend and amazing runner Mark Carroll used to have sleepless nights before hard track workouts because they were so hard. It may be a session such as 5 x 1km, meaning the intervals would last 2.5 minutes each and be repeated 5 times for a total hard running workout of 12.5 minutes. But those reps require everything from the body. Very difficult and a completely different system then what we use on the bike.

So in a nutshell, I love the term suffering on the bike. You can just deplete yourself to bonking and do it again the next day with the same vigor. Its a new realm for me and I can approach my free weekends knowing I'll bury myself but feel no real pain in my body afterwards. Unlike after those wonderful track sessions and hard cross country reps I'll wake up and bounce around my apartment. Sure I'll be tired but not sore. And I'll be ready to do it all again.

Great tune by The Chain Gang Of 1974 - Hold On. Listened to it on my trainer tonight and it made me happy.

Peace and love

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Waiting for the weekend so I can suffer. Maybe my favorite thing about cycling is this word - Suffer. Its not used in the running game so much. Most likely because for me running was relatively short and intense. The pain feels worse than suffering, its comfort then a feeling like either something is going to break or I'm going to pass out. Cycling is a slow burn. You can keep up, but be on the rivet for a LONG time. The pounding is such a limiting factor, or at least over the last few years it was for me. Invariably my legs would hurt before my heart and lungs. On the old bike, much like in XC Skiing, the pain is drawn out over a long period of time. Simply eating some food can take you from the depths of despair to the front hammering and all the time a feeling of suffering. And bike racers embrace this. They love to talk about suffering on a ride. Now I find myself using the term all the time. Since I've done no exercise all week I can't wait to suffer. We'll be hitting the hills and putting in time on the saddle. Perfect.

I heard a new remix by HEALTH of the wonderful Suffocation by Crystal Castles The tune is short which is a shame because its great. Loving the electronic music this week.

Peace and Love


Monday, February 20, 2012


The void in my updates is not laziness but rather the result of a week on the road with work, and an unfortunate gut punch courtesy of the flu (or something close to that). It might just be a bad cold but last time I had a cold there were no aches involved. Myself and assorted members of team new balance hit the road this week to see some of our favorite customers and to get out of the office. Frontline tells us everything we need to know and as marketers and sales people its important to carry the bag rather than read the report. It hit me on Tuesday night, the usual onset symptoms. Scratch in the throat, coffee not tasting good, pain in the neck. From there it only deteriorated, ache down the back, lethargic, very sore throat. Heres the thing, I was on the road for work and in order to do my job I need to put the gameface on which I did and it worked out well. I got to Friday feeling much better! I was out every night for beers, on 4 different planes, and little kip but alas I was coming through it. Saturday arrives and all thats left is a stuffy nose. With sunny skies there was never any doubt that I'd meet up with Tread, Skip, and the Concord crew for a ride out to Wachusett Mountain. Despite feeling like complete crap the entire way I was still comfortable with the jaunt. The hills felt fine and I was riding within myself. Once I was done however it all went pear shaped. I got home and the symptoms returned only this time in a shitty mood. I went to bed at 8 and slept until 10 on Sunday morning. Completely wiped. The thing that really irked me was that the weather was so good. Sunday and today would have been epic riding days. I sat in my Brookline apartment and saw so many cyclists pass the window. All I could do was drink fluids and some coffee (the headaches are not worth fighting) and listen to tunes. The good thing was finding some new gems linked below.

Training has been only ok up to this point. 2 weeks ago I got out for some miles with Skip and the dudes from Embrocation. It was a good ride although I felt really good and needed to squeeze out some hard efforts at the end. Fortunately Skip was in a similar mood and he hammered along with me, destroying me in a few of our Sprints. Cycling really is a funny game, here Skip tells me he is hanging on going up hill and then ten minutes later I can't hold his wheel in a sprint. I'll be long done before I figure it all out. Meeting at Cafe Fixe is a good buzz. Not since my days in Boulder, CO have I seen a collection of Bike Porn outside a coffee shop. In Boulder I didn't really care but now I am part of it. David Andersen is giving the peace sign. Lots of good vibes before some suffering
It was a lot of trainer riding in the week that followed and then it was up north to Jay Peak for a weekend with Frankie and some of the PC crew. All sorts of skiing activities, some waterpark action (Jay Peak has a massive indoor water park which is so random), and a few IPA's. The laughs were non stop but the training was minimal. I tried my hand at X-C skiing and didn't really achieve the outcome I was hoping for. I blame the conditions. There was ice everywhere and I literally wasn't skilled enough to manage the corners. Frankie fell a few times and while she is no pro she has gotten out quite a bit up in Ottawa and said that the conditions were deplorable. We decided to pack it in after maybe 6km and resort to beer drinking by the fire.
We might look the part but only one of us could actually ski. I wore a rapha cycling jacket to make myself feel better about everything. I wonder if rolling around in ice, drinking beer, playing in a waterpark and then sitting in an outdoor hot tub with -10 airtemps freezing my hair contributed to my getting sick? Anyway, its onward and upward. I needed to catch up on music. So I did.

Back in the saddle tomorrow and until then here's two new tunes I've been listening to non-stop. I don't know much about the artists but one is a French electro pop gem and the other a post-new wave slice of happy.

Peace and Love,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Working And Cycling

Working at NB has been fantastic. The team creates an atmosphere that (for better or worse) encourages an early start and a late check out. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to maximize my ability to get in the training around work and travel. Writing this email I find myself on a flight back from Colorado. A few jogs hit the spot but I haven’t been on the bike since Monday. Based on most of the conversations I’ve had, the guys I’ll be racing this year are putting in 15 – 20 hours a week on the bike. I’m doing well if I get in 12 on a normal week and maybe 8 on a travel week. In this regard, running is much more convenient so I try to do as much as I can while keeping my knees somewhat healthy. But its not enough and its not really going to build fitness. Once the Spring kicks in the early morning rides outside will be much more tolerable. To this end I should point out that I am not a morning person – given the fact that I have issues falling asleep – and struggle to get up at 5:30 to do 2+ hours before work. Some people can, and I may come across as soft, but its not that important to me and I’d rather get the sleep and do less. The trainer as much as I hate it has been my friend around the long hours and I’ve decided the best way to train is to go hard for an hour to 1.5 hours with no real structure and on the weekends get out for 2 days of volume. It should work but I imagine I’ll struggle early season in the longer races. Either that or I’ll surprise myself and feel fresh. I spoke with Jason Donald, former Garmin-Chipotle rider, while on my market trip around Denver. Great bloke. He gave me a ton of advice and I’m going to keep in touch. He reckons getting in some running and keeping fresh is fine. Sometimes we absorb what we want to hear. Often I search for the advice I want to hear! Many riders have told me to get up and do long sessions on the trainer, or do double days on the trainer. But Jason told me exactly what I want to hear, emphasize recovery and sleep, do some running and get out on the bike when ever I can. He also told me to use power to get the most out of short training sessions so this is what I’ll do.

Last weekend was the annual Arc-En-Ciel LBL ride and about 30 blokes and 1 female showed up. The weather was fantastic and I felt great. After a bad start, 2 punctures in the first 5 miles, I got rolling and never felt tired, not at least until the end when myself, Amos Brumble, and Mark McCormack broke away and hammered along in a rotating paceline for the last 8-10 miles. The cross winds made it tough but I was never really in trouble and it seems Amos and Mark were on equal levels of fatigue as I was. We maintained a hard pace for 20 minutes and then cruised in the last 2 miles. Good training and a nice confidence booster. 

This weekend is the NB Indoor Games in Boston so I have some work on but I’ll try to get out early on Saturday and Sunday with Skip Foley and his crew. Sacrificing my weekend nights out on the sauce is actually quite easy these days. It might mean I am getting old and mature, but I doubt that to be the case. I think I’m just getting more caught up in the biking game.

Peace and Love