Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How not to ride a bike...

Last weekend was windy, blustery, nasty. In other words, a great day for a bike ride.

Had a nagging wobble somewhere in the drive train, so I dropped both wheels at the local shop for a true job. As in 'truing,' which is biker talk for adjusting tension on the spokes to make the wheel a circle again. The spokes attach the hub to the rim; if you don't have an equal pull on the spokes all the way around, your wheel is more like a square.

I drove back home, then got into my running gear for a trot to the local park and a group workout. On the way there, the blood sugar began to plummet, so I stopped at the bike shop for refueling. No cash, but a credit card on hand, so I paid for the repair work and bought some gels and stuff. Then I kept running to the park, figuring I'd retrieve the bike on the way home.

Arrive at the park. group run. Of course, now it's raining. Canex the run (cancel) and get back to the bike shop.

And now the rain has turned to snow. Sideways snow. Meanwhile, the gel hasn't kicked in, and it's uphill to get home. But I'll take the shortcut through the woods.

Except the dirt trails are kinda muddy, and really soft, and some serious uphills. All of which means I dumped the bike in the slop. Being a committed rider, I have pedals with clips, and I can't get my foot out fast enough.

The dreaded slow-motion descent sideways into mud. Nice.

Next morning, time to resume my gym workouts with a 0545 spinning class. Of course, I have to leave the car at home and ride the bike to the gym.

Now I have a long and gradual downhill. With no cars on the road, I'm flying along.

Did I mention the rain had frozen on the roads overnight?

Black Ice added to high speed added to a traffic circle added to a loss of memory about where my brakes are equals lil' Nicky splattered across the road.

In this battle with asphalt, I lost...

Some nice road rash on left elbow and hip and ankle. I limp to the sidewalk and assess the rest of the equipment. My expensive lighting system doesn't work any more. Turns out the plugs yanked out of the battery pack. No harm, no foul.

So I take my spinning class looking like Rocky Balboa in Round 14. Blood dripping through my sock and all.

Two wipe-outs in two days. It doesn't get much better.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A little side trip Part III

I got in a few workouts in Maui, too...

Lots of beach runs in North Kihei. Our place was across the street from the sand, about 40 yards.

Aside from the aborted Haleakala Volcano Sunrise Run, I had a blast. Incidentally, I found out before the trip that there was a race up the volcano, 38 miles, so I was hoping to be a last-minute substitute on a relay team. Then I was told, 'no, it's not a relay, it's a solo run, and it's entirely self-supported.'

As in, no one handing out water or food or anything. And 38 miles from sea level to the 10,000 foot summit.

Maybe next time.

But I did get some nice pix on the drive down.

Taken from 9,500 feet; that's Kihei and the Pacific Ocean in the distance

One of the more memorable beach runs was a series of sprints followed by a plunge into the waves. Unfortunately, I forgot that it's better to dive under the water than try and stand your ground. Once I scraped myself off the bottom, it felt like I had been punched in the pancreas.

Also took a spin class at a local gym (training for an August Half Ironman). The instructor was a short, squat, native-looking woman with a very thick accent. I had a hard time understanding her over the pounding music. But I did learn the nastiest word in the English Language:


As in, 'crank up the resistance a level.' Or two or three. She'd yell "Level" whenever she wanted us to work harder, which was often. Physics dictates that what goes up must come down, but I swear this instructor didn't follow Newton's Laws. It was all up.

I hate her.

And left my favorite running hat at the gym, a stupid little $10 Nike cap that I've had for years. Salt-encrusted, sweat stained, and I was crushed to lose it. Put me into a deep depression for a couple of hours. Then I ran back to the gym at 0600 the next morning and they still had it. :)

As for pleasant island sounds; do you remember a M*A*S*H episode where BJ mentioned a book called "The Rooster Crowed at Midnight?" Kihei is a fairly residential area, and lots of people have roosters to wake them. Except these suckers can't tell time.

Or maybe they can. I heard them every hour it was dark. So much for sunrise.

Almost forgot: there's a new superhero in town. It's a bird...

It's a plane...

It's Lobster Man with the Cycling Tan!!!

Nick's crispy thigh
Only it wasn't from cycling. You can clearly see the Maginot Line at quad midpoint: everything north is courtesy of Big Beach in Maui, everything south (or above?) is Central Oregon.

Four days later, I'm starting to molt.

It's all good.

A little side trip Part I
A little side trip Part II

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A little side trip Part II...

We hit a bunch of beaches so Zoe could swim in warm water and maybe do some snorkeling. All that quickly took a back seat to her new pastime.

Question: What do you call one scoop of dry sand followed by two scoops of wet sand?
See below for The Obvious Answer:

Zoe's idea of a Pedicure for Daddy

I received at least one on every beach.

Went to Lahaina for the Banyan Tree, or the Old Abandoned Tree as our 8-year-old called it. I had to correct her and say that it was actually named after Paul Banyan. This thing seems to be growing in about 4 dimensions, and is literally as big as a city block.

Lunch at Mama's Fish House; didn't have the heart to tell Zoe that her college fund was raided to pay for this ridiculously exquisite (and insanely expensive) meal. She helped our cause by ordering the grilled cheese sandwich for a mere $19.

Hiramasa, Salmon, Ahi

Until now, I didn't know that a $14 cup of coffee existed. But a restaurant featuring autographed photos of the Doobie Brothers and Aerosmith can't be all bad.

Met some wonderful folks in the house next door; Greg, Serena, Grace, and Miller were visiting from Tampa. Since Grace and Zoe were the same age, they had a great time together.

As our parting event, we all attended a superb luau on the beach.

But somehow I don't think all our servers were native Hawaiians. Some looked more like New Yorkers.

"You wanna Mai Tai? Fuggehdaboudit."
Time to start saving for the next trip.

A Little Side Trip Part I
A Little Side Trip Part III

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A little side trip...

I had forgotten how windy it is here. Final approach felt like a ping pong ball in one of those lottery machines.

Or as Zoe said on final approach, we're 'riding a giant bunny rabbit.' 

Been 20 years since I set foot on Hawaiian soil, and I've never been to Maui until now. The weather is perfect, low 80s  and maybe 60% humidity. Makes me realize how dry it is back home in Oregon.

Kristen had gotten some great advice; if you want to do the drive to Hana, do it early in your trip. The time zone change makes it much easier to wake up sooner when your body hasn't adjusted yet. So off we go.

The trip out is 50 miles or so from Kihei, and the road isn't exactly straight. Something like 600 turns, tons of bridges that can handle only one car at a time, and lots of scenery. If you decide to go, get past the airport by 8:30.  Or else you'll be stuck in a 2,000 car procession with no way to get past.

Hana isn't exactly Los Angeles from a commercialization standpoint. But it's awfully pretty...

 We made a quick stop for a papaya smoothie, then kept going. The Seven Pools are definitely worth seeing.

Ultimate goal for me was finding Charles Lindbergh's grave. He built a house in Kipahulu to get away from the glare of publicity and died there in 1974. Kipahulu is a thousand miles off the beaten path. You don't just drop in.

Amazing thing about his flight to Paris was that he was awake for about 30 hours BEFORE he took off. Then another 33 hours enroute, nearly falling asleep several times, but without the comfort of an in-flight movie.

Later on, the house where his son was kidnapped in Hopewell NJ was about 3 miles from the house I first lived in.

Right now, a gecko is toying with my water bottle. But I digress...

The road coming back from Hana along the southern coast is an interesting one. Didn't know that the rental car agreement forbides passage due to the pavement conditions (and occasional lack of pavement). If you take it slow, like 10mph in spots, it isn't bad. Just long. And desolate in a lunar landscape sort of way.

Next day was the big test: see the sunrise at the 10,000 foot Haleakala summit after running the last 5 miles uphill. Lots of hairpin turns; a native told me that the climb is the steepest prolonged drive anywhere in the world. Maybe so. After waking at 0245, I drove for 80 minutes uphill, parked at the 8,000 foot level and prepared to run; all decked out in foul weather gear, gloves, hat. It's 37 degrees, raining sideways, and the wind is howling at probably 50 mph.

And it's dark. Really dark.

Time for a risk assessment:
1) It's nasty cold and wet and windy. No big deal, I'm prepared for that
2) It's dark, but I have reflective clothing.
3) It's at high altitude. Challenging but not a deterrent
4) Steep drop-offs on the downhill side of the road.  Forgot my parachute.
5) I didn't have any coffee this morning. And now it's 0430 AM. Hmmmm....

Any 3 or 4 of these issues and I'm off to enjoy/endure the run. Throw in #5 and it's a game changer. If something happens up here, my margin of error is paper-thin. So I recalibrated my goal and drove to the summit; now I just want to get down in one piece after sunrise.

Even colder up top. Some idiot is up there in shorts! (note: it wasn't me).

Exceptional sunrise. Do it on a cloudy day: the light gets dispersed in amazing ways. Then the sun just appears.Very cool.

Just don't do the bike tour down the mountain. That's nuts.

A Little Side Trip Part II
A Little Side Trip Part III

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wrap-Up to the Winter Season

I actually started to get sick of cross country skiing.

Twice a week since December sure paid off. But too much of anything is sometimes not a good thing.

Until I got Spanky into it.


This was right before she let fly with that little thing in her hand.

And I even talked her into trying a race, the third time on skinny skis.

The good news is, she wasn't last. Not bad for a rookie. The better news is that she likes the sport. So we did a little 4 mile round trip from Mt Bachelor to Todd Lake.

On the way back, though, her blood sugar plummeted. Made for a long slog home.

If you're still debating the merits of Nordic skiing for fitness, consider this: I've run exactly 4 times since the Portland Marathon in October, yet two days ago I set a personal best for a 5k race at 22:09. That's 30 seconds faster than I did at the end of last summer, a full season of training. All I've done over the winter is two fitness classes and the cross country skiing each week. And a bit of cycling on the rollers.

True, the fitness classes are brutal; lots of lunges and plyometrics and core work. The skiing is harder. But it all helped get me ready for the running season.

Incidentally, that personal best goes back to pre-1990. I don't recommend taking 20 years off.