Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Joining the Discussion

No, I'm not jumping on board the 'power numbers' band (or chuck) wagon. Instead, I'll join the weight loss fray. I think I found the easy answer to weight loss...stop training. That's right, take a lazy winter with infrequent workouts and watch the pounds drop faster than Christophe Moreau off the back of the peleton during stage 14 of last year's Tour.

Ignoring the confusion about whether fat or muscle weighs more (a pound of balsa wood weighs the same as a pound of Brazilian mahogany, right?), the equation for me is pretty simple. In the warm months, I race and train more. My leg muscles get larger. There's no doubting that. I've got 'summer' and 'winter' jeans to handle bigger or smaller seasonal quads. I'm a bit freakish that way. In any case, I easily weigh more during the height of the season because I've packed on plenty of extra leg muscle. In the winter, my legs shrink and I lose that mass. The result? The scale spits lower numbers in the cold months.

Case in point...this morning I weighed in at my lowest since the Smithsburg RR in July 2007. That day, I lost 8 pounds out on course. Started the day at 135 and finished at 127. Yipes! Needless to say, this morning found me hovering just above that low mark.

Just goes to show you...the body works in strange ways. For me, being lazy and skipping the riding results in lower weight. Don't worry, though. One thing remains constant year-round. I always eat like I'm 6'-2" and 240 lbs. And on that note, my next few posts MUST be about food, not cycling. (Might be tough, as I just took delivery of my new Cannondale with Rival parts. I anticipate offering some blog-thoughts about the SRAM stuff. More to come.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Testing Tribulations

Records indicate I've had the PT since October 19, 2007. Of course, the thing is only so good to me if I know how to use it to train better. Part of getting there is establishing the baselines, right? And that means testing. Well, up until yesterday, I hadn't done any formal testing. JB and I have been using some best guesses for my zones. Somehow, he/we decided this week was as good as any to run some tests.

Yesterday was the 5 minute test. I was supposed to follow up today with the 20 minute test. I didn't.

Yesterday was a mess and put me in my place. I could hash through every minute of those 5 minutes and describe the euphoria and despair I felt in that brief period. I'm gonna skip that in favor of a much meatier story. This one's about how my very strange mind works.

Rather than tell the tale again, I'll re-print the e-mail I just sent JB. Be warned...these are the musings of a man with some very odd fixations and tendencies.

I know, I know. It sounds odd (and like a put-on
excuse). Read on.

I brought my gear down to the gym this eve and there
were a bunch of guys touching up paint in the gym.

A little background. I have an insanely sensitive
sense of smell. Very keen, too. I should consider
sommelier school.

Another bit of history...when I was twelve years old,
we moved into a new house. I had a pet gerbil named
Aloisius. (Mind out of the gutter!!) We had the house
re-painted and the woodwork (door trim and some
parquet floor) re-sealed just as we moved in. While we
got settled in and unpacked, I put Aloisius' cage in
my step-father's office and closed the door. Well,
that room was swirling with fumes. I came home from
school the day after we moved in and went into the
office. Aloisius was awfully still in his cage. I
tapped on the glass. No movement. I tapped a bit
harder. No movement. I shook the cage slightly.
Nuthin'. I violently tossed the cage back and forth.
That's when I realized he was a goner. I thought it
through. Why did he die so suddenly? After all, he was
in the prime of his gerbil life. I concluded it was
due to the fumes. His little lungs and vascular system
just couldn't take it.

I'm sure, at this point, you can make the connection.
I know my system is a little tougher than a small
rodent's, but maybe not by much!! Needless to say, I
don't think I could bring myself to vigorously breathe
in a room filled with paint fumes. Talk about feeling
a little lightheaded stepping off the bike.

And so here I am. It's all too bad, as I made a coffee
run in the second half of the day and was buzzin'
pretty hard from that. That energy, paired with some
oatmeal I downed at around 3:30PM, seemed like it was
gonna carry me to some good results. Good results,
though, depend on a clear mind and body. The
conditions downstairs aren't ripe for either of those

I'll assess tomorrow and try to tackle it then. I know
this sucks, but sh*t happens.

And the apartment offers its own psychological
barriers. I'm a clean freak. Plus, our living room is
covered by some uber special rug SVR brought back
from Afghanistan. It's worth many thousands of
dollars. I think I'd be in a boatload of trouble if I
sweated 20' worth of testing on that thing.
desire to not sweat all over the damn place in an
effort to sate my clean freak tendencies, paired with
the wrath of SVR, is enough to also inhibit a
successful test in the apartment.

I'm at an impasse.

I think this rambling note has to migrate to the blog.
I'm a nutter!!

There you have it. The reason I'm blogging instead of testing. I'll hope for fresher air tomorrow. I'll also hope I'm feeling as amped and energized as I was when I stepped foot in the gym earlier this eve.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Brand Loyalty

Hit the trainer for a bit yesterday evening. I set up in the small gym in the basement of our building. Nice arrangement down there. If I did any sort of weight training during the winter, it has about all I'd need. Hey Josef, it's right at my finger tips!! Can't we put it to good use???

For indoor riding purposes, it's nice to have a rubberized floor, a mirror (cyclists are a vain lot, right?), the option to not schmutz up our condo, and the company of others. Of course, sometimes the company of others is a bit of a curse. I see some absurd things happen in that gym. In the past, I vowed to write down the oddities so I could periodically report them here. Never happened. Since the start of the year, I have noticed one fellow who deserves some attention.

He's definitely a newcomer to the gym, as are so many folks this time of year. As I packed up my belongings last night, I counted 18 other people in the facility. Two weeks ago on any given weekday at 7PM, there would be, at most, five other people working out. Anyhow...this newcomer is pretty non-descript. Nothing too wild and crazy, or hilarious, about his sessions. The only thing out of place...a large, black tattoo on his left cankle. Now, I got nuthin' against tattoos. Heck, the more I watch Project Runway (did I just admit that out loud???), the more I'm pondering inking up. Here's the thing about his large tattoo... This dude in the gym has the Puma corporate logo inked on his cankle! What? And so I direct you to the title of this post.

Who has that degree of brand loyalty? I should note that no visible apparel on said gym go-er sports the Puma logo. Maybe he's got some Puma compression shorts kickin' under his Nike basketball shorts, but I can't confirm that. does that happen? What compels a person to permanently scar themselves with a company's graphic symbol?

Truth is, the Puma logo isn't the worst example I've seen of this dramatic and risky behavior. Evan and I saw a particularly egregious example on Beach Drive. Last summer, killin' it with some 1 minute, Zone 6 efforts, we rolled up on a cyclist with the Specialized 'S' on the back of his leg (calf region). It was big. It was red. It was all Specialized! If I remember correctly, much like Puma dude, Specialized man wasn't even repreezentin' with his equipment and apparel choices. I think he was sportin' a Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team branded Trek and a full Discovery kit. I didn't inspect closely, but I suspect Specialized man was rockin' a Specialized water bottle. I'll give him a bit of credit there, but that choice was probably accidental (and practically unavoidable). Check the underside of most of your water bottles and you'll note Specialized has a corner on that market. Anyhow...I can only guess he like Specialized stuff enough to get the tattoo but NOT use their gear. Go figure.

This got me thinking about brand loyalty...particularly as it relates to cycling. Where do I come down? I'm a creature of habit. Heck, E&K got me the Obsessive Compulsive Action Figure for the holidays. I don't mess with the things that work well for me.

And so I noticed all my accessory bicycle parts (bars, stems, and seat posts) are Ritchey. I think it's fair to say I've got some serious loyalty there. My first proper road bike was a Ritchey. I've got a pair of their wheels. I've got three of their saddles and I have a stockpile of other random Ritchey stuff for any future bikes. The stuff makes sense. Good design. Light weight. Unassuming aesthetics. Phenomenal price point (save their carbon stuff). Cool as it is, would I ever get a tattoo of the Ritchey logo (see below) on my cankle or chest or arm or ass? Mmmmm, no.

Sorry Tom.

Additionally, I have a pretty comfortable relationship with my Mavic wheels. All the reasons I love the Ritchey parts apply to my Mavic stuff. Mostly, the Mavic goods stand up to abuse (not that I give them much), last a long time, and are pretty easy to service. They are quality products that have served me right to date and will, I'm sure, into the future. Is there a Mavic tat' in my future. Naht bloody lahkly!My point? I've got some favorite products and manufacturers...yes. Am I soooooooo devoted that manning up to be their roving billboard from now until the grave sounds like a good plan? Nah. It'd take a heck of sweet sponsorship deal to get me to that point. Who knows, maybe you'll see me with a big ol' GamJams image running the length of my leg this season! Stay tuned.