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In the (Feed)Zone - Training Again

By: Mark Swartzendruber
Posted: Apr 4, 2016

TRAINING AGAIN
 or
IF YOU NEED A DROUGHT FIXED, GIVE ME A CALL

I’ve grown weary with people asking me if I’m ever going to update my “blog” (it’s not a damn blog!) The (Feed)Zone. So,I’ve decided to fire up the engine again.  Given that Truesport is a web site dedicated to the somewhat athletic ventures of cycling, running and muddy buddy Spartan hustles – endeavors I’ve decidedly not been involved with much if at all for the better part of 3 years – and not a web site dedicated to doing gut rehabs of shit hole dumps on frozen lakes in Wisconsin I’ve honestly had nothing to blog write about, hence the absence of content.

It’s not like I’ve been idle.  I’ve just been doing other things not related to squeezing into lycra and making a bike go fast.  Things that wouldn’t interest most of you so I’ve refrained from blogging reporting on boats, dumps and pheasant hunts.
 
Yeah, we own a boat now.
I can lay tile like a mofo.
Painting was always my thing.
Well, that’s about to change.  The project at the shit hole dump aka #morningwood is going to be considerably less time consuming this year as work is progressing nicely so I figure I’ll have some time to actually ride a bike and maybe even race.  In order to kick start the effort, I arranged to visit my brother in Santa Cruz to get some riding in the sunshine and mountains.  Turns out I got half that equation correct. 
 
I chose to cash in my award miles for a trip itinerary that coincides with a solid week of rain and wind.  Nice. 
 
Looks like I may have a 3 hour window of cloudy but not rainy conditions later today (March 11).  If so maybe I’ll have something to write about that will be of interest to you all.  
It’s slightly less shit hole like now.
It’s slightly less shit hole like now.
Well, that’s about to change. The project at the shit hole dump aka #morningwood is going to be considerably less time consuming this year as work is progressing nicely so I figure I’ll have some time to actually ride a bike and maybe even race. In order to kick start the effort, I arranged to visit my brother in Santa Cruz to get some riding in the sunshine and mountains. Turns out I got half that equation correct. I chose to cash in my award miles for a trip itinerary that coincides with a solid week of rain and wind. Nice. Looks like I may have a 3 hour window of cloudy but not rainy conditions later today (March 11). If so maybe I’ll have something to write about that will be of interest to you all.
5 HOURS LATER
I did it. I went out and rode. I started out in my brother’s garage, riding his trainer which had collected cob webs since it was last used – likely by me two years ago. I rode for a half hour intending to go longer but I saw shadows outside. Can’t have shadows without sunshine…I didn’t expect the shadows so soon. I dressed and headed north on the Coast Hwy but the wind was brutally swirly and there were cars and trucks going 55 mph not more than 6 feet to my left and I decided that Bonny Doon Road could wait for more favorable conditions. Riding in Chicago has hardened me to traffic, but the ideas of being blown off my bike into highway speed traffic spooked me. I have a boat I’d like to enjoy this summer. Can’t do that dead.
Yeah, that’s some angry seas and misty rain just off the Coast Hwy.
I turned around and futzed about on my bike for almost 3 hours until it began to rain again with some gusto. Adding the 30 minutes on the trainer it wasn’t a wasted day.  Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be better.  I got in 57 miles of fun with some IL like wind and gusts that nearly knocked my fat self down.  Riding in real life is quite different that riding on an indoor cycling simulator.  I need to remember that.
 
My knee is still sore from the bursitis I got last summer which never fully went away and re flared last week when I was laying and grouting tile at #morningwood.  At least it isn’t infected this time.
 
Saturday my brother and I rode 100k.  We started in steady rain that subsided about an hour into the ride.  My knee hurt any time I made more than 300 watts for over a minute so it sucked.  Steve dropped me going up every hill and eventually I rode back to Santa Cruz by myself because I felt bad making him ride slowly.  Steve is a strong rider but he’s still a retired Cat 3 master, so getting dropped by him on false flats was at once embarrassing and a reality check.  Shit – what am I expecting?  I’ve barely ridden since I got the bursitis in July.  8 months of less than 400 miles per month – a grand total of 150 in August isn’t exactly what the email coaches call “base miles”.  This return to racing is going to take longer than I thought if it happens at all.
 
Sunday the 13th it rained all day.  I did some core strength and an hour on the trainer in the garage and then we went out and drank beer at a few of the new local breweries and tap rooms.

Astute observers will note a family trait here…
Monday the 14th I went out for another 100k.  I avoided putting too much pressure on the pedals as it caused knee pain again.  This really sucks.  Can’t race a bike if more than 300 watts hurts but other than that I enjoyed the scenery of Central California.
Last time I was here, this creek was dry.
And these hills were burnt brown from drought.
The human body is a strange and wonderful thing.  Since my last day of riding was the 15th I aimed to get a good ride in regardless of how my knee felt.  I started climbing about a half mile from my brothers driveway up Graham Hill Rd, to Empire Felton Road to Ice Cream Grade – all in all almost 25k of climbing.  I took it as easily as one can when climbing double digit grades but my knee was still sore.  Once I crested Ice Cream Grade I had a beautiful 10 mile descent down Pine Flats Rd and Bonny Doon Road back to the Coast Highway.  I rode south through Santa Cruz out toward Watsonville and Corralitos.  Suddenly – on the way home after 50 miles by knee stopped hurting and I felt good – able to mash the pedals and sprint up the hills without pain. 76 miles and 5500 feet of climbing. La Di Da.
 
As strange and wonderful as the body is, so too is the mind.  Now, my battle is getting the brain engaged.  Here’s the thing.  Though I’m writing this on April 1st, I swear this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.
 
When I got home, the weather was okay.  I took the travel day off and then went for a ride on Friday and turned around after 3 miles.  It was cold.  And windy.  And Chicago.  I truly despise riding in Chicago.  So, I waited until I felt like it to ride again since the weather was foul outside.  I could have utilized the indoor cycling simulator but why? TLK and I spent a couple of days at #morningwood pretending we know all about laying flooring tile and drinking and when we got back I went out to ride for a couple of hours and then two days later we went on vacation to Cabo.
 
I rode the spinny bikes at the fitness center 5 of the mornings we were there.  That was better than nothing but then again, detox was my motive, not ambitions of winning races.
 
Here’s the deal.  My good friend Trudy Van der Straaten who now lives in Australia is a world champion on the track and was a hell of a bike racer at her peak.  A genuinely mean and nasty competitor who took great pleasure in ripping the legs and faces off of anyone who dared attempt a show of strength in a race.  Trudy also has experienced a series of physical setbacks that knocked her off her peak about the same time I did.  She’s recovering from back surgery and riding again.  We were Facebook talking the other day - she at night, me during the day given we’re half way round the globe from each other – Now that we’re physically doing better we’re both asking ourselves whether we want to work as hard as we used to just to be good again. 
 
There are a lot of bike racers who’ve never won a race – let alone state, national or world championships and they’re perfectly happy to show up and race never once leaving the confines of the middle of a pack, then go home and talk about how fun the race that they made no impact upon was.  Quite likely, the guys/gals on the podium didn’t even know they were there.  I’m not like that.  I, like Trudy VDS enjoyed racing most when I was able to humiliate and discourage anyone who dared try to ride off the front, when I could bridge a gap and pass the break in the process.  When I could lap a field riding solo off the front and accelerate as I picked off lapped riders so they wouldn’t be able to catch a draft.  I didn’t race because I liked racing.  I raced because I was fucking good at it. I didn’t always win and I had bad days but even on those days I could still impact a race.  THAT is why I enjoyed racing.
 
Over the past couple of years – it will be 4 years this Memorial Day since my back blew up and my leg withered.  Can you believe that?  Maybe I’ve finally moved on.  I’ve had two granddaughters, acquired a shit hole dump on a frozen lake, doubled my business, and I’m 53 years old.  I don’t need the ego boost.  I don’t need the adrenaline rush.  I don’t need the jitters, the expectations nor do I think any longer I want it.  I like to ride my bike but I’ve found myself increasingly ambivalent toward bike racing.  I like to ride my bike in nice weather, in nice places, on nice empty roads, on nice terrain.  None of which happen to be where I live. 
 
Will I race again?  Probably.  Will I make an impact when I race?  Probably.  But I’m damn sure not going to be giving myself grief for finding other things to do than ride my bike when it’s 45 degrees on April 1st and it may or may not rain a little.  I’m over that part of it.
 
See you when I don’t need leg warmers and the wind dies down.

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