Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winter Training, Indoors and Out

Last winter, while training for my first triathlon, I found myself riding the stationary trainer many times on the deck.

As in outside.

As in Central Oregon.

As in 25F on a warm morning.

Before a 90 minute spin, I told myself that the feet should be ok; since I'm not moving forward, the lack of relative wind should keep the toes warm.

Bad, bad assumption.

After 45 minutes, I had to stop and put on the neoprene booties. But cold feet don't become warm that easily. I grunted through the last 45 minutes and got 'er done. No frostbite, just wooden feet for about an hour afterward.

Fast forward 8 months. Sold the condo and bought a house with a monster garage. Paradise!

First order of business was to get a set of rollers. Actually, that was the second order of business. First was my wife's request for a kegerator. Found a mint condition Subzero for a hundred bucks (from a friend for whom I had done a favor), then bought the dual tap kit and borrowed a hole saw.

Tip: when cutting thru a fridge wall, be reasonably sure you know where the refrigerant lines are. I'm just sayin'.   And, no, I didn't puncture anything that didn't need to be punctured. Now we have two of Deschutes Brewery's finest on tap.

Life is good.

Anyhow, back to the rollers...

I've been told that my cycling stroke appears very uniform, as in a perfect square. That's not a good thing when trying to pedal in circles. All my power is at 2 o'clock, and I'm wasting a lot of energy by being inefficient. Hence the rollers. Conventional wisdom says that I'll achieve balance and a smooth stroke within a month.

It actually happened sooner than that. The trick was to let go of the ladder next to the bike. And that's a hard, hard thing to do.

Rollers are the best simulation for riding a bike on a frozen pond. Insanely slippery. I probably pedaled for 15 or 20 minutes before I got up the nerve to put both hands on the bars. You achieve better balance with time and by pedaling faster. Problem is, when you start wobbling, the inclination is to stop pedaling and coast.

Resist the temptation.

Put your rollers in between two objects that you can easily grab. Some people use a doorway. I used the back of my car on one side and a ladder on the other.

Goethe: "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid." So true.

Now I'm doing intervals on the rollers, and loving it. Cautionary note: either fold up the rollers when not in use, or leave the bike on them. While spackling the garage walls, and walking backwards, and not seeing where I was stepping...Suffice to say, I'm better on the rollers with a bike than with feet. Slapped the melon off the floor really nice and hurt like hell.

Reporter (after the first fight with Apollo Creed): "Hey Rocky (Balboa), do you think you have brain damage?"
Rocky: "I don't see any."

Yo, Adrian.

As for running, here's a surefire way to fight bad weather boredom on the treadmill; don't use one. Go outside. Dress so you're a little cold for the first 10 minutes, then you'll heat up nicely. Keep the feet, hands, and ears covered, and everything else will be fine. Some people talk about cold air burning their lungs; I've never had a problem, and I've run in -20F darkness.

Git after it.

Incidentally, a former cycling racer friend told me to buy a small TV and set it up in the garage. Priceless! No better time or place to watch 20 year old Tour de France races or NASA Apollo videos. Mindless fun while getting better technique.

And it's easier than cross country skiing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moving (finally!)

At long last, we found a buyer for our condo, and immediately signed a contract for a house. It's been a long 42 months....

Anyhow, we're now in town. 3 houses to Zoe's school, 2.5 miles to work. Plenty close for commuting by bike or by running.

The relocation, all of 15 miles, was harder than the marathon.

A buddy agreed to help me load the U-haul; we had a tiny, TINY two bedroom condo to move. When we moved from the East Coast, we brutally downsized ourselves from a 4 BR house and basement into a 2/1 condo which the vacuum could cover without unplugging. Literally.

So the morning of the move, I had packed about 15% of the truck starting at the crack of dawn, when I realized I'm still alone.

Me: "Hey man, where are you?"
Him: "I'm about to take down a buck." As in hunting, as in 200 miles away.

Pause: "I thought it was NEXT weekend."


A couple of friends in town said they can help unload if need be. Yes, I need be.

Okay, our neighbor is here on vacation. He helps me move the big stuff. 7 hours later, it's packed full. We'll have another trip to finish up, but we can do that with the Subaru. Drive 15 miles, meet the guys, and an hour later the truck is empty. Sweet.

Return the truck, then drive the car and a borrowed pickup back. And back. Last trip ends at midnite in a freezing downpour, and we're still not done.

6am next morning, it's up and off for a McMuffin and what I hope is the last load. More rain, and I'm exhausted, so the last bit of stuff just gets thrown under a tarp.

Done. My feet are toast.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. All unpacked, finally able to breathe, and it's time to do what I've wanted to do for 12 years; organize a garage.

And the first project was the most important one:

Then it was time to build storage. 

That green thing is a tandem kayak, something every family should have. Unless you don't want one. The skis are slid below the cabinets and above the bikes; life in the Navy gets one accustomed to creative storage.

More shelves, and everything is finally put away.

First carpentry project in 12+ years, and all fingers are still attached. Score!