In the (Feed)Zone - Training and Racing in the Days of All Seriousness

By: Mark Swartzendruber
Posted: Apr 22, 2014



Recovery gate repair.

Being an astute observer of the human condition, I’ve taken note as of late that people have been taking themselves and their activities quite seriously.  A breakfast of scrambled eggs and ham with a side of butter slathered pancakes isn’t a high fat trip to the “pipeline” (direct to the Chicago sewer system) aka The Golden Nugget it’s a “recovery breakfast”.  A beer after a ride is no longer a beer.  It’s a “recovery beer”.  A slow ride when one is tired is no longer noodling around on your bike.  It’s a “recovery ride”.  And a day off…well everything one does fits into the category of “recovery”.  Thus, you will find my effort at a “recovery gate latch repair” done on a day where I wasn’t riding a bike.  This repair followed “recovery grass over seeding” which followed a “recovery walk to the Craft Beaver”.  Later on I’m going to make “recovery bean burritos with salsa verde” and “recovery Dino Martinez cocktails”.  A Dino Martinez is the invention of my good friend Jett Sterling with corroboration from the former Emperor of Boltini Lounge in Champaign.  I’ve doctored it somewhat but when I taught the bar tenders at the Hilton Los Cabos on our vacation in March, they certainly suggested it may be on the menu soon.



In a martini shaker, combine:
2 oz tequila reposado
2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
½ oz Cointreau
½ oz tequila liqueur
6 mint leaves

Shake vigorously and serve in a martini glass with a small lime wedge or better yet, a twist of lime peel.  You’re welcome.  If I hear of anyone referring to it as a recovery Dino Martinez, I will whip that person with a bike chain.



I blame the coaching industry.  When one is extracting $250-$500 a month from a Cat 4 master bike racer you need to make the mark believe the grift is to their benefit.  A coach cannot justify being paid to tell an athlete to “take a day off”.  No.  Anyone can do that.  A coach needs to get into the details of mitochondrial repair and muscular strengthening and natural HgH production.  Insulin, hydration, metabolizing and such.  The grafter tells the mark that when he’s doing stuff around the house and laying on the sofa with his feet above his heart while his significant other paints the fence that he is “recovering” and such sloth is essential in order to move up from 2/3 back in the pack at the end of a race to halfway up the pack and keeping the auto debits from the mark’s checking account flowing.

Thus, I witnessed while at the Hilton Los Cabos Tri-Geeks in various states of “recovery” before and after the Iron Man Cabo San Lucas while I was on vacation.  Now – please understand that I have the utmost respect for what those people put themselves through.  Iron Man is an impressive display of stamina, concentration and determination.  But do the participants in such events need to be so God Blessed Strange?  What’s wrong with drinking water from a glass or a cup?  Why must they carry around race water bottles and drink from them at the dinner or breakfast table?  Why must the sushi be made with brown rice or nothing?  Just order the shashimi ferchrissakes if white rice isn’t what your nutritionist recommended. 

I wouldn’t care, but I’m beginning to see this sort of flummery appear in cycling circles and it frightens me.



I have yet to participate in a bicycle race in 2014.  I will be reporting for duty at the 13th annual Hillsboro Roubaix.  I enjoy that race.  I’ve seen many of my Facebook friends from California to New Jersey who’ve done probably 20 races already this year.  I used to show up for races in full thermal gear too, but I guess I’ve sort of gotten over that.  I hate riding in 15 lb of thermal wear, let alone racing in it.  Plus, though I’m mostly back to full strength, my back doesn’t like race level efforts in cold weather any more. 

I’m anxious to find out how my fitness is. I suspect it’s low.  My normal late winter trip to Calfifornia to escape the miserable Chicago winter turned out to be a great benefit to the Northern California ecology.  I broke the drought.  No sooner did I show up than it began to rain and didn’t stop for 4 days.  Even when the weather forecast called for sun, it rained.  I don’t mind riding in the rain so much.  In California, the rain coming of the ocean feels like softened water.  When it’s warm, it’s almost pleasant.  On this trip though, the temps were in the low 40’s so the rain, though soft, was bone chilling. In addition, there was a heavy layer of fog and in the mountains with no shoulder on the roads, I wasn’t comfortable riding in those conditions with added low visibility.  So – that trip was a bust.  600 planned miles turned into 300 if you count 4 hours on a trainer being worth 80 miles.

This is not the physique of a well-conditioned athlete.

When I returned, the weather was abusive and I wasn’t in the mood to ride indoors. So, I continued the strength regimen that has given my back its strength and stability back and allowed my formerly withered leg to return to equal strength with its mate. After that, we went on vacation and after that my mother in law passed away suddenly and unexpectedly and I hadn’t been on a bike in 3 weeks. Not a good training plan for a bike racer averse to embarrassment. After a decent week of riding and the weather improving I am looking forward to turning the pedals in anger and earning a recovery beer or a recovery glass of wine or six.



I’ve decided to reduce the two day weekend of the Tour de C-U into a one day event. A number of factors played into this, stressing my volunteers, finding venues that don’t piss off business owners and such. So, I’ve condensed the weekend into a one day slate of racing. The new venue is going to be awesome. Crystal Lake Park is a beautiful location and the new course is a winding circuit of 1.6 miles around a small fishing and paddle boating lake with a 4% 200 meter long hill before the finish. Click on the Banner ad at Truesport for a race flyer and registration info. Good money, a great course and we here at Scarlet Fire Racing do event production the right way.