Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where To Take My New Ride?

I had expected that Santa would bring me something triathlon related for Christmas. I knew he was on a budget because one of his little helpers, my wife, told me. She said in fact that Santa wasn't getting me much. I chocked it up to the old naughty or nice requirement for gift giving/receiving.

Well, Santa is a liar! That’s right, I’m callin’ out Santa because he (she) gave me an awesome gift. I got a Trek Fuel EX 8 full suspension mountain bike. You may have seen the picture in my What’s for Christmas blog.
2013 Trek Fuel EX 8
In the few days since Christmas I've been investigating where I might ride my new steed and contacted some of my cycling buddies that I know are mountain bikers. Here on Atlanta’s south side we have Dauset Trails in Jackson, Georgia which seems to be the most popular. The Georgia International Horse Park (GIHP) in Conyers is also an option coming in a close second. Dauset is a 37 mile drive and Conyers is a 30 mile drive from my home.

Another option is the Clayton County International Park (CCIP), also known as Atlanta Beach or simply The Beach, located east on Jonesboro, Georgia and only 3 miles from my front door. Being an avid cyclist, I think I would have noticed riders in the park but in eight years I don’t recall seeing a single one. The first time I heard about any trails at the park was about two months ago when someone posted a ride there on the Southern Crescent Cycling Facebook page. Me not being the owner of a mountain bike at the time, did not join in on the fun or even take much notice.
Clayton County International Park trails
Now that I do own a mountain bike I’ve got to plan my first ride. I’m thinking that, for convenience, I’ll stay close to home and ride at The Beach. I have some concerns that the trails are not maintained well however, who am I to judge. I’m sure it will be fun.  My concern is less regarding actual trail maintenance than is the relationship between the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) - Atlanta chapter, and the now absorbed SORBA - Southern Crescent chapter. I'm a big proponent of bicycle advocacy and an apparent rift (or maybe it's the lack of interest in anything exercise related by most of my south Atlanta neighbors) has left the southsiders with little leadership than I would like as a person new to the sport. A good solution to this is probably less forum reading time and more time on the saddle.

Unfortunately, for my mental state, even before I hit the trails I've already heard the stories about trips to the emergency room. Needless to say, I’m hoping for a safe and uneventful first ride. If something bad does occur then I only have Santa to blame because, if it wasn't for him (her) I wouldn't have a mountain bike, I wouldn't be riding in the woods, and I wouldn't have gotten hurt. That’ll be my argument should the situation arise. It’s not my fault!

One thing is for sure, I’ll be taking a lot of pictures over the next few months. I’m sure that along the way I’ll also improve my biking skills. Hopefully this new discipline will result in improved bike splits in my 2013 races.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What's for Christmas

Susan and I opened our gifts early this year.  I have to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  As you can just barely see to the left of the Christmas tree and behind the chair there is a box.  Wrapped in red paper there's a box the exact size that might contain a set of wheels or disc.  In this case the box contained old newspapers. Surprise!
The night before...
 After I helped pass out the presents to Susan, our daughter Lana, and our grandsons, Cody and Josh, Susan made a quick trip to the basement.  Apparently, in addition to being the repository of all things dusty (my weight set), broken (my treadmill), and in a general state of dis-repair (the basement itself), it is also the primary storage facility for new bikes for the Farmers.  Susan hauled the bike up the stairs and into the family room, my new Trek Fuel EX8 mountain bike.
My new MTB
I had not expected such a great present.  That's two bikes in less than a year.  I have the best wife in the world.  Thank you Honey!  I got Susan an ASUS TF700T tablet and a few other things.  No socks or underwear for either of us.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thanks for Reading.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Wish List

As I start my second week of training for the Try Charleston 70.3 in April I find myself wondering what Santa might bring me to improve my results during the race.  My time on the trainer has improved.  I've ridden it three times in the past 6 days.  In those three sessions I've improved my speed by 1.4-mph.  If I keep this up for 19 more weeks I should be able to finish the 56 miles in Charleston in about an hour.  I'm no rocket scientist but I think that's probably not going to happen.  That said, I'm happy that I'm getting accustomed to using the trainer.

Back to the topic at hand, what items should be on my Christmas Wish List?  I don't need any underwear, tee shirts, or socks.  I know this because if I did then my wife would get me some.  I have the rare distinction among men of having underwear which is in excellent condition.  So much so that I often find myself looking through the trash only to find a perfectly good tee shirt which will never see the light of day again.  The thought of a covert rescue mission often goes through my head but what's the use. My closet and dresser drawers are already full of new and nearly new articles of apparel.

With those few items off the list, what about something triathlon related.  Now we're talkin'.  For reference, I already have a trainer, road bike and tri-bike.  What I need is something that will enhance one of these three items.  I suppose a training DVD might be cool but we just bought a 60" LCD TV for the bedroom where my trainer will reside through the holidays.  Something for my road bike would be nice.  Maybe a Garmin 500 or some some new lighter wheels.  How about a Cycleops Powertap G3 hub laced into my carbon race wheel.  I think that's what I might like.  I could use it on both bikes.  It would connect to my Garmin 910XT.  It's a win-win situation.  (Note to self:  Emphasis to Susan the fact that I'll actually be saving money.  Elaborate when pressed and make up something if necessary.)  The cost of a Powertap G3 at $1,300 MSRP is considerably less than the crank based Quarq or SRM alternatives.  All I have to do is convince Susan that a powermeter is what I need to get to Kona.  Let the negotiations begin!

I'm hopeful that I can find a holiday special where I can get the hub, or something else, at a discount from the MSRP.  I expect the labor cost and new Sapim spokes to get the hub installed won't be cheap.

In addition to the hub, I want Santa to bring me a Garmin Out-Front Bike Mount, and a neoprene swim cap.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Try Charleston Training (Week 1)

Week # 1 of my 20 week 70.3 training plan for the Try Charleston 70.3 on April 20th, 2013 is in the books. The first 4 weeks of the plan is base building which goes from 7 hours to 9 hours and 35 minutes of training. My plan called for a week with 3:40 (h:mm) of cycling, 2:10 of running, and 1:10 of swimming. This totals 7 hours of training. I completed 100% of my cycling training during 3 sessions. The first cycling session was on the road and the other 2 sessions were on the trainer. I’m surprised to find that the trainer workouts have been pretty tough. Not tough because they’re boring, which they are not, but because my effort has to be continuous – no coasting. My running for the week was 16 minutes below the mark and my swimming stands at 0% done. Not a good start there! I think a neoprene swim cap might give me the courage I need to hit the open water.

I didn’t include the 75 miles of cycling I did in 4 hours and 30 minutes on Saturday, December 1st at the SBL Holiday in the Hampton ride. My plan started on Sunday, the day after the ride.

Week #2 starts on Sunday, December 9th. Hopefully I’ll be able to maintain my ability to stick with the plan. I’m gonna have to if I want to finish well. In 2011 the 3rd plan finisher in my age-group had a time of 4:47:01. A very impressive finish for someone over 50 years of age. I'm sure the 2013 participants will bring it as well.

Thanks for reading.

Christmas Tree Hunt

Susan and I found some time on Friday afternoon to get our Christmas tree.  In the past we've bought trees at Home Depot or, when we lived in Decatur, at a tree lot on N Druid Hills Road at the Methodist Church.  The trees from Home Depot were cheap but always a disappointment.  The church trees were better, but expensive.  When we moved from OTP (Outside The Perimeter) and to Atlanta's southside we decided to try someplace different.  We'd heard that the State Farmers Market in Forest Park had Christmas trees so we drove the short distance up I-75 to check them out.

This year Susan, Max and I hopped into the old jalopy and headed to the State Farmers Market.
Oddly, the interstate was not slammed with traffic at 5:00PM, normally the evening rush hour.  We were headed into town, opposite almost everyone else.
The entrance and exit at the State Farmers Market are kind of funky.  Every time I leave I have to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get into my lane.  
The market is setup with stalls running east to west.  Many of them have fruits and vegetables, as well as Christmas trees.  
At the north of the market are 3 rows of tree vendors.  There are probably over 1000 trees to choose from. It's overwhelming.  I let Susan decide!
Susan and Max survey the offerings.
More Trees.
Max was a good boy, as always.  He did not "take care of business" on the trees.
Some of the trees have bowls without water.
Some have bowls with water.  These two trees were right beside each other.  I have know idea how they decide who lives and who dies.  I guess they all die.
The vendor wraps up the tree for transport.
Ready to go home.
Susan checks out some fruit before we head home.
That's our trip to the State Farmers Market.  We got a good 7' Frasier Fir tree for only $45.  We put it in the stand tonight and let the branches fall over night.  

Susan will decorate it tomorrow while I'm at work.

Thanks for reading.

Update:  It's Thursday, December 20th and the Christmas tree is still drinking up the water at a rate of about 1/2 gallon per day.  
Yes!  I've got treats in my hand so Max will at least look toward me for the picture
Very few needles on the floor.  Presents coming soon!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday in the Hampton Ride

Before you start reading this blog you have to know that people don't call me Mr. Sunshine for my rosy outlook on life.  Frankly, I'm a bit of a curmudgeon.  Just ask my wife.  With that disclaimer out of the way lets find out how my SBL HITH ride went.

This blog is about the Southern Bicycle League Holiday in the Hampton ride on Saturday, December 1st.  It should be titled "I did something stupid today" or "Hey Idiot! You're not 25 anymore".  Both of these titles would describe my mood better than the illusion of spending a pleasant day in the ritzy Hamptons as provoked by the chosen ride name.

My day started the evening before with me working all night until 6am.  After work I drove home and got about 1 hour of sleep.  I'm sure that this was addressed somewhere in the fatigue course I took at work earlier in the year.  If it was I'm sure it said, "don't do it".  I threw my bike and gear in the car and darted down to Hampton.  The ride started at 9am only 11 miles from my home in Jonesboro and 1/2 mile from my work.  I was supposed to meet several friends there.  When I arrived the ride was starting so I rode on with the group missing most of my friends.  I figured they'd pass me somewhere on the course.  Many of them did.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures before the start.  I had spent too much time getting bundled up in tights, shorts, a long-sleeve shirt, jersey, toe cover, helmet cover, glove liners and gloves. The temperature at the start was in the mid-40's.  A high in the upper 60's was expected later in the day.

As we rode out of Hampton toward the Atlanta Motor Speedway I passed Santa Claus on a touring bike with panniers of presents.  I learned later that after the ride Santa eats and drinks for free.  All three courses started together heading west passed the speedway and in Henry County through, Spalding County, Fayette County, and Fayette County through the towns of Brooks, Hollonville, Concord, back through Brooks, and Woolsey.

The course was well marked although, similarly to the Jackson Brevet course, the road was well marked with the remnants of past rides as well.  Fortunately, the Holiday in the Hampton ride had the only makings with a Christmas tree.
Course Marker
I rode with Chris Schroder and Daniel McKinley until the rest stop in Concord.  Daniel, a resident of Thomaston with a pronounced southern twang in his voice, is a bike commuter.  The miles he gained from commuting were evident as Chris and I kindly let Daniel lead the way.  We stopped at the rest stop near Brooks on the way out.  Many of us dropped off some of our cold weather gear with the volunteers.  I left my jacket securely stored in a BRAG bag.

Brooks Rest Stop
Chris and Daniel
We also stopped in Concord, home of the Tour de Pike. 
Concord Rest Stop
Daniel had been the lead rider to the rest stop in Concord.  As he and Chris snacked and drank sweet tea I decided to continue on and get it over with.  The ride from Concord was smooth and uneventful.  I rode mostly by myself from that point.

I arrived back in Hampton at around 1:30pm.  As I rode toward Hampton I wondered where I'd put my car keys.  I was sure they were in my jacket pocket so upon arriving in Hampton I set about looking for the blue BRAG bag with my jacket in it.  There were only 5 bags left when I arrived and none of them was mine.  I was sure that someone with my jacket and keys was halfway to Roswell by then and I was stranded.  The lack of sleep was making me not think clearly.  I foregoed the complimentary beer and hotdogs and rode my bike to my car just in case someone had put my bag in my car.  It wasn't there and my doors were locked.  I decided to check the bento box on my bike one more time.  There they were.  Great, now I can go home and sleep.  I checked my cellphone which I had moved from my jacket pocket and saw that I had a text message from one of my friends who also rode.  He found my jacket amongst the pile, picked it up for me, and took it with him when he left before I had even arrived.  Oh the fog of my sleep deprived brain.

So, what did I think of the ride?  It was great.  The course was good.  There were plenty of rest stops.  The after ride festivities looked good.  I just wasn't in the mood.  It would  have been even better if I was prepared.  Will I do it again?  Yes, of course, but next time I'll get some sleep beforehand.  I'm not 25 anymore you know!

You might ask why I rode if I was so miserable.  That's a good question.  To that I'd have to that the ride was the best part of my day.  It's kind of like those bumper stickers you see that say "I'd rather be fishing" or "I'd rather be sailing" or golfing or whatever.  For me, I'd rather be on my bike than sleep.

December 2nd is the first day of my 20 week 70.3 training plan.  It's time to quit messin' around!

Thanks for reading.
Holiday in the Hampton