Getting older but better

Observations on age and improvement…like wine but less red…

It wasn’t that long ago that I could ride 300 miles a week, drink hard on Friday and Saturday nights and still knock back a century on Sunday. Those days are over. Definitively, and for many reasons. I’ve had a few real and long lasting injuries in the last few years, thankfully not related to cycling. I say thankfully because injuries incurred from the bike usually bring to an end your riding. In my case as they were occupational injuries, once I had the requisite surgery to do the repair, riding the bike was recommended to me as my recovery method.

When i got back on the bike post surgery this May, I had to accept that I was essentially a beginnng cyclist. While I might have the wits and bikesmarts of an experienced rider, I definitely didn’t have the body. The legs were weak, the lungs were tight, and even my back and neck were barely up to the task. It’s been four months now, and something like 70 rides, and I’m feeling a lot more like my old self. I’m still slow, relatively speaking, and my endurance sucks, also relatively speaking, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Progress is obvious to those around me, and it cant be hidden from the scale, the power meter or the training log. My weight is down over 29 pounds, my FTP is already up 30 watts from my January threshold power test, and all my clothes are loose. In my fact my uniform, that I wear every day, barely stays on me right now.

As I’ve previously pointed out, I’m a recently self admitted data geek. I kinda feel that at 45 years old, I don’t really have the time to chase rabbits down unknown trails during training, I kinda need something of a sure thing. By measuring my performance on a regular basis, I can redirect as needed to keep progressing. I’ve always tracked my rides, and logged my miles, but I never really worked it into any kind of holistic training regimen. I just did what my legs felt like and pushed as hard as I could all the time. Using the old F.I.T. Acronym, I pushed frequency to every day, Intensity to 11, and Time to all day.

In the last four months, I’ve followed a much more carefully planned strategy, more time conservative, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve seen better improvement than I would have using my old methodology. I used the TrainerRoad guys plans as a base, and built my weeks around total Training Stress, working in aerobic stuff for weight loss on my commutes, and harder more structured stuff (anaerobic, and HIT) during my at least two trainer rides a week. One of the best decisions I’ve made in years was investing in the Wahoo KICKR last December. I bought it in anticipation of being broken for a while post surgery, and that was definitely the case. What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy structured workouts on it. Lately I’ve been que’ing up a TrainerRoad workout, putting some first person cycling video on the big TV in front of my trainer, and jamming some appropriate music while I ride. I’ve got a pretty good sound system in the garage, so I can really blast it.

I’m about to start working in two short, easy runs a week to channel some of my cardio fitness into the things I have to do for the army, but personally, its all about the bike. The oldest boy is loving his mountain bike, and he’s been riding a lot himself, so I’m looking forward to being able to do some real rides with him in the spring time. Maybe Pablo Duro canyon, and something kind of epic. A year ago I didn’t really think that would be possible.

Things are looking up.

284 TSS this week…

I think that’s ok for now. That’s a few rides, one on the trainer, the rest in the heat, and I feel every bit of it right now (but in a good way). Training Peaks this morning says “based on your form, your body may need extra rest today”, no argument from me lady.

I reconfigured my training setup so the old Cervelo is now the trainer mule, and I’m riding the Kona daily. Who would have thought that when I paid several grand for that Cervelo a few years ago…

A new road bike is on the horizon, but probably not this calendar year, that’s for several reasons, but first and foremost I am using it as the carrot to my stick to keep training. My hip seems to be cooperating for now, so it’s all about little victories. I’m planning to do a metric century as a self check in September, so stay tuned.

In the eyes of others

Ive been thinking lately about the need to get my riding back on track, if for no other reason than I’m turning into a large mammal. As significant as that is, it’s really secondary to my bigger concern, it’s mostly for my mental health. I’ve definitely felt the impact of not riding in my state of mind. I haven’t had the lows I get in a big training cycle when I miss a ride, but I have been kind of “meh” about everything else. So no highs either, you know.

I did 20 minutes on the trainer the other night and it felt like a stage of Le tour when I was done, but it broke the ice, now is the time to get out there on the roads, and go like a real boy. I think I’ll do an hour or so today, nothing crazy and nothing off road other than the trails to get through places.

I read an essay yesterday where the author was discussing how he felt that real life begins after fifty. He made many cases for his stance, but a few things stuck with me over the others.

  1. You care less what other people think. This is one of the most concrete facts for me that I wish I could get my kids to understand and believe.
  2. There isn’t a point a where the tap turns off. Society would have us believe that we’re just done with life at 40 or whatever, and that after that you’re just waiting to die.

I’m 45 and from the neck up at least I feel better than I ever did. I understand things so much better now than I did when I was younger. The trick is to bring the body into line with the head, and then keep it there as long as possible. Certainly there is an inevitable decline, but as I’m not competing with anyone else (see 1. above), I only have to answer to myself. If I feel I’m working hard enough, and seeing the results I want, then I’m happy. It’s that simple.

My new boss is over 50, he made sure we all knew that on his first day. While he’s certainly kind of a knucklehead, he’s also a smart, vibrant guy. He seems very different from those were accustomed to, and I know that some of the younger leaner guys see him as out of touch and less “aggressive” than they think he should be, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s very much aware of what’s going on around him, he is simply unconcerned with their opinions. I’ve seen this several times before with leaders I’ve worked with, and I’ve come to realize that most of the time, they just don’t care what you think of their style. They’ve found what works for them, and as you don’t write their performance reviews, your opinion of their style is pretty low on the list of things they care about that day.

More than Zero

I finally got back on the bike after the hip freak out a few weeks ago. I absolutely felt the weight of not riding for so long, but as the title says, it was more than zero.

I took advantage of the chill training to sort my power meter and sync my new HRM.

I picked up a new TICKR run and passed my old TICKR to my son.

I’m hoping to slowly get him enthused about riding for more than transportation, and keep him riding even after he starts driving next year. (Fingers crossed)

More than Zero

Power and Weight

That title might lead you to believe that this will be some post about how much difference my newly lost weight has made in my riding, but that would be untrue, as to the best of my knowledge, I’ve not lost an ounce off my fat ass post surgery. I’ve been doing physical therapy and strengthening work, and I’m way better, but that’s another story. This one is more of a bike tech geeky tale about how things change over time. So the weeks I’ve spent riding my KICKR have convinced me that I want to ride with a power meter which is something I’ve resisited for years, using various rationales to justify. They are expensive, they are finicky, they are heavy, I just like to ride, I don’t want to be a slave to the computer, and the most common, I’m just not that much of a data geek. So while some of those were true at some point, they were expensive (I paid 200.00 with free shipping for this stages though), these blue tooth and ant meters just work, no finickiness at all, this one weighs 38 grams, though there might be some validity to the freedom argument. Despite all those arguments back and forth the last he was reason was the most decidedly untrue, I’m definitely a data geek through and through. So I had to weigh some stuff out, I ride Campy on my road bike, and an Ultegra/105 mix on the cross bike. I have every intention of switching to Ultegra for my road bike, but probably not until I buy a new bike next year, so I was looking for something “cross platform compatible”. I ended up going with an FSA 386evo crank in 50/34 on the road bike which just happens to be the exact same crank albeit in 46/36 on my cross bike. So if you’ve been keeping up til now, you may have put together that with about 45 seconds and a hex head wrench, I can use my power meter on both bikes. See, yeah, method.

“But Dave” you say, “why would you take that beautiful and light Record crank off to put that boat anchor of an FSA on?” Well, I was somewhat worried about that too, but allow me assuage your concerns the same way I did my own. First, no one makes a crank based power meter for older alloy Campy. Simple fact. Sure there are other options, pedal based, hub based, etc, but then we’re right back into the above problems. So the Campy was out no mater what, so I was stuck with the “heavy” FSA alloy, that also conveniently worked with my cross bike. Out of curiosity and at the prompting of my youngest son, we weighed both cranks complete, including their respective bottom brackets before I installed the new one, and quite surprisingly, the FSA was exactly 2 grams heavier than the Campy, and that is with the power meter strain gauge installed. So if I am to believe the literature from stages, the FSA is actually 38 grams lighter than the Record. Now I will say that there is an elegance to the polished alloy of my old cranks lacking in the new one, but never fear, the Campy will find a new home, on my old Pinarello, where they will be most appropriate. The FSAs are a simple polished black that kind of disappears into the bike, which is just fine aesthetically. They are undoubtedly significantly stiffer, and this should also do away with an annoying square taper creak I’ve had for about 4 years as well.

Lost one of my KOMs

I’ve never cared before, but post surgery, I’m recovering very slowly, and I know it will be a long while before I’m that fast again. ☹️.

But, I find it strangely motivating. I guess that’s why people get so worked up about it huh?

Surgery day

I’ve been putting this off for months, actually for over a year, but I’ve finally gotten it scheduled and today is the day. It’s not a big procedure, but the injury itself and subsequent secondary injuries have had a huge impact on my core strength, to the point of having basically zero core specific training for over a year.

I’m treating this as a reset time, with basically zero expectations beyond a hopefully steady improvement for the next few months. I’ve got a few lose goals if all goes well, recovery wise, something simple like finishing a 5k this spring (late spring), and maybe doing a 50 mile gravel ride late this summer.

More soon.

Everyone is sick

Tonight is a hot toddy night

Two winter spice tea bags,

2 Tablespoons of local honey (local is important for relief) but not essential for flavor

2 oz of whiskey (you can omit if you abstain- thoughts on alternatives?)

2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Brew in a teapot for five minutes then separate into two tea cups and enjoy.

The liquor is traditional and has some effect for sure, but let’s be real, the local honey is the long game if you’re dealing with allergies, and if you’re in Texas, you’re dealing with allergies.

Third day of the year (or day 3 of my slow death)

My baby girl (actually my oldest daughter) got home from Germany last night, which put us all back here under the same roof for the first time in a while. It’s a great feeling, though everyone is still on different clocks, and since some of us are sick, it’s even more exacerbated. Myself and the wife both napped all afternoon today, and my oldest son, who was the only one as sick as I am, has yet to even rise and it’s pushing 3pm.

I had plans to spend this week rehabbing my cross bike for the coming weeks, and those aren’t out the window yet, but my time available has diminished. I renewed my bar tape with some black Supacaz, which I picked up at the Peddler Brushy Creek. I had wanted the blue stars, but sometimes you get what they’ve got. I’m a full on convert to this supcaz stuff, it’s fantastic. It’s replacing some lizard skins Dsp which cost the same but compacted quickly, and the surface finish tore within about two months. If you read the product descriptions for each, you’d think they were similar, but. The supacaz is much denser, and didn’t pack down on my road bike despite being almost a year old. That tape was still in such good condition that I wouldn’t even have replaced it if I hadn’t done some handlebar swapping. Say what you will about the product name, (super kush 😉🤙🏼) and some of the styles, it’s really good stuff that I have on all my wrapped bikes now.

I also picked up some 43c Panaracer Gravel King’s to replace the 32s I’d been running all year. I really waffled on this because I knew I wanted a wider tire on it since I’m not racing this season, but a few times I had wished for more bite when I was single-tracking it in loose stuff. I had considered the WTB Nanoraptors also in 43, but ultimately I decided to get the G’kings for the set of wheels I have and I’m going to grab a set of aksium 1’s to set up for more spirited off-roading.