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Transplant Athlete
Sunday, April 29, 2007
  300K Blitzkrieg

I meditated before I went to bed on Friday night, which is why I was able to bounce out of bed at 2:40 AM. I had to be in Middletown, VA before 5 AM for the start of a 300 Km Brevet (191.4 miles).

In 2005, It took me 18 hours 26 minutes to finish (186.4 miles). I had DNF'ed two other 300 k's before, so just finishing was a feat. A couple of weeks later I did a 400 KM (253 miles) brevet in 19 hours 48 minutes. The reason the times were almost identical for the two distances? The climbing per mile was lower on the longer distance.

I was determined to take a serious chunk out of my time from 2005. I tried staying with the lead group leaving the Super 8 Motel, but got dropped within 3 miles. The last I saw of the lead was Chuck & Crista leading a group up a hill and out of sight. Chris Mento caught up to me and I drafted him to Wolf Gap. On the climb, I kept him in sight. Near the summit, Lothar caught and passed me. Chris went over the top first, with Lothar a little ways behind and I accelerated near the top so I would be able to catch Lothar on the descent.

Lothar took it easy on the descent and I easily caught up to him. I think most people descend in their comfort zone and Lothar was no exception. I'm not afraid to push it to the limit and hope it sticks, which has lead to a close call with at least one car and several white knuckled descents around gravel strewn corners. No matter how fast I descend, I still can't catch the tandems...I've seen Chuck and Crista bomb downhill so fast, it makes me feel like I'm standing still even at my top speed. The same with Ed & Mary and Steve & Lynn. If you don't keep an eye on Steve and Lynn, they'll blow by you at Mach 1 on the descents.

I got to the first control as Chuck and Crista were finishing their SIT-DOWN breakfast at the Lost River Grill, the first control point. Chris Mento passed me about a mile later and I didn't see him until the end. Chuck and Crista with Bill Beck in tow passed me a couple of miles farther down the line. Bill took some great pictures of the event. I know I look like a chipmunk in the solo shot, I was eating a powerbar at the time. I caught back up to Chuck & Crista at the Slanesville General Store 110 miles into the ride. I'm sure they were finishing up their SIT-DOWN lunch. I also ran across a group of riders, I didn't catch their names and was too wasted to remember anyway, but they were wearing green jerseys with the motto "All Professional and shit" on the back pockets. They are identified in Bill Beck's pictures as the State College boys. I caught up to them just about ten or twenty miles short of the second control point (at the store at the intersection of Rte 50 and CR5), then I caught them again as they were leaving Slanesville.

The dogs in West Virginia are getting stealthier. One was lying in the grass waiting for me to pass. Another decided to intercept me at the gravel strewn apex to a corner. Another was really quiet until I got within striking distance and then he charged out into the street barking.

At 3pm, I was 130 miles into the ride and I was out of flat roads. That's important because I failed to reset my computer at the beginning of the ride, so I was calculating my average speed by my location and the time of day. It was long gentle climbs from Wardensville up to the steeper climbs in the George Washington National forest over Wolf Gap. I stopped at the top to use the bathrooms at the campground, described by the Forest Service as "Vault Style" which must mean low budget crap hole. Seriously, I've seen better outhouses in cemeteries. On the descent, I caught a tandem with Mary Crawley on the back. We had about 5 miles of downhill to the next control point, so I just stayed behind, but I got out of the control point before them. I was cooking along on Back Road and didn't think I'd see them until the end, but they caught me about 15 miles past the control point. With 5 or 6 miles to go, I'm guessing I was drinking too much water (I was definitely carrying too much water) and not enough food because I started slowing down. In the end, I rocked out 191.4 miles in 15 hours and 15 minutes, knocking three and a half hours off of my 2005 time.

Problems:
1) I think one or both of my blood pressure medicines is/are messing with my heart rate, I couldn't get it over 168, even climbing Wolf Gap at max effort. That can't be good for me. My normal max heart rate is around 203.
2) The saddle is still low and I think I'll find that I'm able to put out more power when it is where it's supposed to be.

P.S. CM - You lost 8 pounds in one ride. What did you just hop on your bike without food or fluid? Drink 4 gulps every 7 to 15 minutes, you should be finishing off a 24 ounce water bottle every hour. Try for a powerbar or a clif bar every hour also.

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Friday, April 27, 2007
  Saddle Creep

I took the Softride down to Florida, and I've been using it to tow the kids around during the week. I got on the Litespeed to join the RBC Thursday ride and I realized that the saddle was really low. I raised it up about a 1/4 inch and noticed more power and easier pedaling. Was that responsible for my loss of power at Sebring and in the VO2 Max test? I don't know, but I still got dropped by the "3" group last night.

I'll be riding a 300 km brevet (roughly 190 miles) this weekend. After that, I'm going to swap out the compact crank on the Litespeed for the regular 53/39, find the optimal saddle height (it may still need to come up a 1/4 inch), and start working on developing climbing power. If Florida is any indication, I seem to be doing fine on the flats.

 
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Sunday, April 22, 2007
  KATIE RIDE 2007

On Thursday, David Caples (David and his wife own the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge) informed me that I would be staying at Katie's Light, which is a reproduction of a Chesapeake Bay Lighthouse. The Caples built the house in the early 80's and lived there for a decade. The house was absolutely amazing and I think it must have been a wonderful experience for Katie and Beth Ann growing up there. Like the TARDIS, it's bigger on the inside than the outside. There are actually three bedrooms upstairs and two full baths. The downstairs is an open floor plan with a spiral staircase dead center. On Friday, Jakson and I spent the day painting arrows on the course and posting signs everywhere. Between the maps with the turns written down, all of the painted directions, and literally hundreds of signs, there were still people who complained about getting lost. U*N*B*E*L*I*E*V*A*B*L*E.

When I woke up Saturday morning, the wind was howling and the temperature was 48 degrees. I started out with arm/leg warmers and a jacket, by the first stop, everything had come off and I was baking in the sun. I had left my sunscreen in my car. The Aid stations were fully stocked with water, sports drinks, and snacks. I thought I traveled the farthest to get to the ride, but there was a couple who flew down from Connecticut. I rode the 100 mile event and got dropped from the 1st group, but I was able to stick with the second group. They did have to wait briefly for me at around 76 miles... We covered the distance in 5.5 hours and we spent 30 minutes at the rest stops, so our on bike average was 20 mph.

Some vandals moved some signs and tipped over a porta-potty, but the ride organizers were able to get everything straightened out before the riders got there.

In my next post, I will examine the fashion mistake I have dubbed the mankini but the technical term is a Male Triathlon Sprint Tank top. One word: ewwww.

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  Bullrun

In an early episode of Bullrun, the Lambo driver was about to do a high speed slalom and they were interviewing him. He said, "I'm gonna turn off the traction control because I don't want the car to shut down if it gets a little loose." Predictably, the guy steps on the gas and 648 horses spin the lambo like a top...In another episode, Mike Alsop fixes a busted transmission on his 2002 Pontiac T/A out on the highway, so the guy knows cars. He is in a challenge that requires him to bust the back end loose to slide into a pane of glass and he didn't think to turn off the traction control. I'm left wondering if these people actually know what traction control does.

I think I've mentioned that I prefer driving at nght, it's generally cooler and there is way less traffic. I left for the Katie Ride at 2AM on Thursday morning. There's something ethereal about the way the road looks when it's lit by headlights. I think George Miller tried to capture the feeling in MAD MAX when Mel is roaming the wastelands half asleep. I left the Florida this morning at 2AM and didn't really hit traffic until VA, but it was bad. I've been trying to send out peace and love as I drive (mostly to avoid road rage, but also to keep my blood pressure down), but it's tough when some little old lady is hogging the left lane at 55 in a 70...I can drive all night long, but I can't stand driving in traffic during the day.

 
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007
  New Computer

Ok, both of my computers are hosed. The power cable for the laptop has been spotty for a couple of weeks and it's getting to the point where it's tough to get juice into the batteries. The batteries haven't really been holding a charge, but I don't know if that's another side effect of the bad cable. The batteries are 4 years old and I think they're about ready to give up.

I've been using the desktop, the only thing that really works on it is Firefox. Firefox pushed an upgrade and then I wasn't able to access secure sites, which means I couldn't do any work, email, etc. Format c: and an OS install later and I haven't been able to get the network card working. It would make a good computer for the kids, but ABL insists that we'd have to upgrade the OS to play their games.

ABL's been harassing me to buy a new computer so later today (I'm up past midnight) I may have a new computer to blog with...

 
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  Echo

I went in to the doctor's office today to have the Holter Monitor removed and to get an echocardiogram (A sonogram of the heart).

Echo Lady: Come in, Have a seat young man.
Me: Watch the name calling.
Echo Lady: Why are you here today?
Me: I have a family history of Afib (I explain further)...And I use my heart pretty often.
Echo Lady: That brings me to my next question, Did you bring it with you?

***Later***

Echo Lady: I'm sure you've had lots of Sonograms of your kidneys before, but we don't coddle you here. I bet those other places warmed the gel for you huh.
Me: Yeah, Yoooowwww that's cold.
Echo Lady: Mister big shot rides his bike across the country can't stand a little cold gel?
Me: Low body fat.
Echo Lady: Baby.
 
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Monday, April 16, 2007
  200K Recovery

I was a bit sore on Sunday, so I went to Yoga to see how that would affect me. The warrior poses were killer, putting stress on my burned out Quads, but afterwards, I felt pretty good. The Yoga instructor recommended Yoga before, but a foam roller (for self massage) after a ride. I think I'll give that a try and see how that works.
 
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Sunday, April 15, 2007
  200K PR

This saturday I set a personal record for the DC Randonneur's Warrenton 200km Brevet. My old PR (9hrs 45min) was set on my first 200k (back in 2003), I think it was on the same course. Last year, I posted a 10:50 and an 11:50 on the two 200k events I entered. To be fair, I rode to the start of the 11:50 event and that was a good 30 miles extra. During the 200k in January of this year, I covered the distance in 10 hours and 40 minutes. So I was quite pleased to finish in 9 hours and 16 minutes yesterday.

The pace started out very high, like the RBC tues/thur rides and I was able to hang with the first group on the road for 20 something miles, and then the second group to the first control point. I was going at roughly the same pace as Carol Bell and Chris Mento, I took a short stop at Yoder's Market and got in front of them (they also got a flat near the last control point). Unfortunately, a 30% chance of rain turned into 100% sprinkles. By Syria it was 100% rain. It stopped after Old Rag Mountain, but spritzed on and off the rest of the ride.

I am now a fan of Clif Shot Bloks Lemon-Lime, but not Black Cherry. The Black Cherry tasted like cough syrup and wasn't going down as easy as the Lemon-Lime, but they both provided good bursts of energy (similar to a gel). I think I'll try the Strawberry and the Margarita flavors next. Yum. I like Clif Bars as well, but I can't eat them during exercise for some reason.

I did have some issues.
First, it seemed like my lactate threshold was a lot lower, like in my aerobic zone. I'd be pedaling along with my heart rate in my aerobic zone and my legs would be burning like they were full of Lactic Acid. So I spent a lot of time noodling up climbs in my granny gear.
Second, when I would go slightly above my aerobic zone for a short climb, I would be panting for breath like I was climbing Alp D' Huez. I mean seriously panting like I couldn't get enough air in.

Setting a PR with these two issues, I feel that if I can figure out how to fix them, I'll be golden. If I could have climbed like I know I can climb, I would have definitely been faster. My first thought is to discontinue use of the Higher Peak Altitude Simulator to see if that's the culprit. Next weekend is the Katie Ride For Life(which is flat and fast), but the weekend after that is a DC Rand 300K and I'm guessing it'll have a ton of climbing. Then a much needed recovery week where I'll be volunteering for the DC Rand 300K.

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Friday, April 13, 2007
  Thursday Ride

ABL was late getting home, so I booked down my street and BAM a group of cyclists flew by on Crestview. I was about a block behind, but I gave chase and was able to keep them in sight until Church Road. I got them in sight again as they were stopped at a light by Cascades Parkway. They accelerated hard away from the light and I lost sight of them again just after they turned up Magnolia Road.

By the time I got to Nokes Blvd, I noticed another group coming up from behind, so I soft pedaled a bit until they caught up. There was a hellacious wind there near the mall. I asked what level it was and was told "3 or 4", but it felt like 2. They put in some hard accelerations and I was really on the rivet trying to keep up. We crossed under Rte 7 onto Algonkian Parkway and a short time later I was off the back. I tagged on the back of another rider and drafted him back to the group, we caught them at a light. I was fully at my limits when the group turned up Potomac View Road and I had to back off. Randy and John caught up to me on Palisades Parkway and we rode together. Once we got back onto Algonkian Parkway I pulled for awhile, but I guess I wasn't keeping the pace high enough, because the other guys pulled through and they pushed the pace up. It seemed to me like they were accelerating really hard away from the lights and every once in awhile, I'd be at top speed and then one of them would attack. All I could do was dig in and focus on holding that rear wheel. With just a couple miles left, they picked up the pace on Park Road and then they were in a full on Sprint when they hit Monroe. I looked down at my speedo and we were above the posted 25 mph speed limit, but a car behind me beeped anyway.

Yeah, I feel faster, but I can't keep up with the hard accelerations yet. DC RAND is holding a 200k Brevet this weekend, my goal will be to beat 9 hours and 40 minutes. That was my fastest 200k ever and I believe it was on this same route. That time was set several years ago and since then, all of my times for 200k's have been at least an hour slower, sometimes 2 hours slower.

 
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007
  Spinning Class

I went to my first actual Spinning Class on Monday. When I did the NKF Spin-A-Thon at the WSC, Cynthia had invited me to the Spin class, so I thought I would give it a try (And yes she was there - unlike some people who invite you to really hard events and then fly to Africa). It wasn't especially brutal, but it could have been, it was almost as hard as the RBC Tuesday/Thursday rides. First of all, the instructor was using perceived exertion (PE) as a guide, since there weren't many people there with heart rate monitors. That's where you rate your level of exercise on a scale of 1 to 10. I don't have a lot of experience with PE, but to me, 10 is "Sprinting to the line against Super Mario" (the Lion King, not the Plumber). Tracy, the instructor kept yelling to crank up the resistance and then we were doing these dips, out of the saddle for two strokes back into the saddle for two strokes. At least the music was good.

Tracy then invited us upstairs for the Pilates class she was teaching. The only thing I knew about Pilates was that they used those funky machines that look like the Chuck Norris Total Gym. BUT, this was a mat based class. It was a good core class and I keep telling myself I should get more core work in.

Not satisfied with two hours in the gym, I hopped on a treadmill and ran/jogged/walked a 5k. I know, I should be focusing on bike specific exercises, but I wanted to stress my heart and lungs and the best way to do that is to throw something at them that they are not ready for.

As you can imagine, my legs were feeling stellar at the start of the Tuesday RBC ride. I got dropped about 4 miles into the ride, which is probably about the time everyone was all warmed up. I caught up to Jeffrey on a Specialized Roubaix, his carbon seatpost slipped all the way down, so he stopped to raise it and tighten it. He pulled me around the course for the next 12 miles before breaking off to ride home. I rode the last 8 miles or so alone. I think my average was around 17 mph, but the group was probably averaging 19+.

 
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007
  Synchronicity

A couple of weeks ago I was channel surfing and happened on a PBS special with Dr. Wayne Dyer. Something clicked, and I watched a bit. Then I went to the Herndon Library and picked up the only book they had by Dyer, "You'll See It When You Believe It". Interesting stuff.

I've covered some of my philosophical beliefs before, like "Just be in the right place at the right time and things will work out." That's the one that really pisses off ABL. Dyer has a chapter on Abundance and another on Synchronicity that seem to explain or expand upon these beliefs. Apparently Synchronicity was first described by Jung.

It's entirely possible I picked this up watching "Northern Exposure" or some other TV show. Don't laugh for the longest time, I used to believe that "sometimes you just have to say WTF" until I finally remembered it was a line from "Risky Business" (yeah, that came out 24 years ago).

 
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Monday, April 09, 2007
  Recovery Week Blues

Yeah, I spent another recovery week on the couch, but I'm not going to beat myself up.
 
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Thursday, April 05, 2007
  Bury My Heart

My training plan calls for a weekly time trial on Skyline Dive so I'm using Crista's "Bury My Heart On The Blue Ridge", but it's anything but weekly at this point. The last time I did it with the group, it took me 9 hours and 30 minutes to finish, that included a lunch stop. Two weeks ago, I did the ride in 8 hours and 50 minutes. The water fountains on Skyline Drive were shut down (I'm guessing for winter), so I spent some time hunting for water and then re-hydrating. I think that when the water fountains are operational, I can knock about 40 minutes off my time (that was the time spent off the bike) getting me awful close to 8 hours for 100 miles. My goal is to drop another hour off of that time before RAAM.

I'm not sure how much climbing this route has, but it's a lot. I'll let you know when I get the battery replaced on my Altimeter watch.

 
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007
  UMCA "Fraud Is A Felony"

As most of you know, I've had some issues lately with the UMCA. I think it has been mismanaged and now, I think there has also been some financial hanky-panky going on. The latest issue of ULTACYCLING just came out and it had the UMCA's financial statements for the past three years. Also, check out Seana Hogan's site. She posted the Managing Director's contract along with her notes and the notes of an attorney.

Put 2 and 2 together and you can see discrepancies, so I posted this to the Ultracycling listserv:

I just got Ultracycling in the mail and I also had a chance to peruse
Seana Hogan's website (http://www.ultracycling.us/newsletter03.html).
Thanks Seana! If her information is correct, then the UMCA financial
statements are wrong. I'm an MBA, not an accountant, so a CPA could
probably spell this out better, but I'll take a stab at it.

John Hughes receives two full page ads in every issue of Ultracycling as
part of his compensation. In this post-Enron, post-Worldcom era,
everybody should recognize that 2 full pages of advertisement has value
and that value should be reported as income to John Hughes and as an
expense to the UMCA. Since the UMCA is on a cash basis, I think they
only have to report the amount that JH actually uses (while an accrual
basis would require writing off the whole amount whether he used it or
not). The total annual value of this perk is a maximum of $1350. Not
much unless you consider that to be almost 10% of his old cash salary.
Does he sell his space to advertisers when he's not using it?

Next. John Hughes has a license to use the UMCA brand for Jerseys,
windbreakers, etc. while the contract doesn't specify what this is
worth, it does have value and the IRS would probably want to know what
the value is and therefore it should be listed in the financial
statements or at least addressed in the written explanation that
accompanies the statements. Any accountants want to take a stab at
valuing the brand? I'm guessing that the IRS would assign some
percentage to the actual jersey and commemoratives sales. I, like
Seana, am shocked that money spent on UMCA jerseys does not go to the
UMCA.

Finally. Back issues of ULTRACYCLING...This has value and should be
reported, John makes money off of the back issues and this should be
reported as compensation to him, after all the printing costs are listed
as an expense to the UMCA. Again, I'm shocked that money spent on back
issues of Ultracycling does not benefit the UMCA. Are there any checks
in place to make sure JH isn't purchasing more than is necessary? Is the
UMCA paying the shipping on these magazines(if so, talk about pure, no
risk profit)?

Individually, it might not seem like a lot. he might not make a lot on
the advertising, or the jerseys, or the back issues, but add it up and
there is a big gaping hole in the UMCA financial statements, maybe not
WORLDCOM big, but big enough to make me wonder...if the financial
statements don't show a measly $1300 bump to his salary, what else don't
we know? What other things are hidden? What other ethical lapses are
there?

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  Reston Bike Club Tues/Thurs Rides

I've been going to the Reston Bike Club Tues/Thurs rides lately. They recently switched to a number system versus the old A, B, C, D levels, I used to be between an "A" and a "B" which was a published average around 18 - 19 mph. Under the new number system, I've been joining the "3" group which has roughly the same average. On the Tuesday rides, I've been getting dropped around 2/3's of the way into the ride, but I've been able to keep up with the group on the Thursday ride. I've averaged as high as 19.2 and as low as 18.5 mph for the hour that we are out there.

This early daylight savings change allowed the RBC rides to start early; so, I'll have much more speed training than I did before last year's RAAM. I just completed a cycle of VO2 Max workouts and boy where they tough. They were doubly tough without a Heart rate monitor, I just found mine, it's been missing since Sebring in Feb.

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Monday, April 02, 2007
  Where My Ninja's At?

I like Spike. This channel serves up MAN TV in its highest form.
Bullrun
Pro's vs. Joes
Wide World of Spike (Taser Tag, Strip Volleyball)
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  Atrial Fibrillation

Every once in awhile, my heart would feel like it was dancing in my chest. I wasn't quite sure what was going on, but I ignored it. After all, it was so intermittent, how could I get a doctor to diagnose it? This past week, I was talking to my mother and she mentioned that my dad's father, all of my father's siblings, and at least two of my cousins have Atrial Fibrillation. One of my cousins was even hospitalized because they had to shock his heart back into rhythm.

I have an appointment on Wednesday with my doctor to get tested.

 
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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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