Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The unplanned week off

I had an MRI performed this morning to try and get a better picture of what is going on in my upper back. It has been almost impossible to use my right arm at all for anything. It takes only a few seconds of typing an email before I have to stop and shake out the pain. The pain has been shooting through my right arm and my muscles around my chest and my right arm have been twitching rather violently. I'm hooked up to a Comptens unit as I type. It sends electrical pulses to intercept my pain shooting from under my right shoulder blade through my arm. All this upper back pain started in January, around the 13th. It would flare up EXACTLY every other weekend with more intense pain, simple from a yawn or morning stretch in bed. Since the beginning of February I had been goign to see a chiropractor, and even though I always felt better after leaving each of my appointments, the source of the pain was not going away. So, late Sunday night I had decided to cancel the remaining chiro visits and go see my doctor. So, hopefully this will help. I can't drive for long distances, can't work, and I certainly can't ride my bike. So, honestly, I'm not sure what to do with myself while I'm at home other than to drink coffee, watch Tour de France tapes and South Park DVD. I'd like to work more on personal projects, but that is hard to do since my right arm really can't do much right now. I have a lot of time off that I am not used to. I went on a little hike yesterday and that was nice. Maybe I'll do that again today, but need to keep driving distances down.

I was supposed to travel to Winston-Salem, NC this week to give two presentations on Change Detection and Remote Sensing Imagery at the NC GIS Conference. But, I won't be there. I have one co-worker covering for me for one of the presentations, but I guess the other one will be cancelled. Here is a web link to the Geospatial Imaging Program that I manage at NC CGIA.

Depending on the time that it will take to recovery from my back pain, I will have to reassess my bicycle racing goals for this year. I always felt like this (my late 30s) is a fading window of time to upgrade to Cat 3, and just get the most of my physical ability. Once I get the upgrade, I can focus on racing masters 35+ and hopefully get on a masters team. If I miss the window, then one of my life goals will be missed. I really don't expect that too happen though. The life goals keep me going. They are like stepping stones, which are always great to look back on. I learn a lot about myself, the fine balance of my stubborn drive to pursue my goals and when it is time to give up some focus to achieve those goals and have a "normal" life. I do know that I can accomplish what I set out to do when I am 100% focused and my distractions are limited. Picking the right distractions to keep in your life is not always so easy for me. I have to move all the variables around in my mind until I find something that works. I can usually get to that point. It just is not a fast process.

All for now....more later.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

2nd Day of Greenville Series Feb 25th.

Well, today's race did not happen for me. I woke with a severe recurring muscle spasm in my upper back and it kept me home. I've been having these since the middle of January and have been going to a chiropractor for treatment. My doctor-girlfriend, Debi, tried to get me well through cold-hot treatments, but the pain persisted throughout the day, keeping me off the bike. I tried to ride, but could only stay on the bike for 5 to 10 minutes with a lot of pain.

Honestly, I'm extremely discouraged after so much hope and anticipation of the race season starting and pursuing my personal goals. I guess they'll have to wait a bit longer. Hopefully, I will feel better next weekend.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

1st Day of Greenville Training Series

Today was my first race of the season. Cat 4, 35 mile circuit race with five 7 mile laps at the Donaldson Center south of Greenville, SC. I slept well the night before, but noticed that my legs did not have that kick that I am used to when I did my short ride Friday night testing out my jumps on the sprints. My strength in racing is sprinting. That is basically where you sit in with the pack throughout the race and then every man for himself at the end. I can basically hold out a good 300 to 500 meter effort on a good day. Today was not that day.

We lined up and I was about 4 or 5 rows back from the front. After we got going I had maintained a position in about the front 1/4 of the group. I stayed there throughout the first lap without any problems. I noticed that the wind was blowing out of the northeast. And that made the few miles before and after the start/finish line challenging. I tend to stay on the right side of the pack along the white line. This is a comfortable spot for me to bail out if there is a crash in the group.

I hung in there up towards the front on the first lap. At the beginning of the 2nd lap the pace really picked up and the head wind seem to be getting to me. I dropped back to about the last 3/4 of the group. Once this happened I knew it was not going to be a good day. I held that position throughout the 2nd lap. After the start/finish line at the end of the 2nd lap, I fell to the very back of the group. This is not the place you want be during a race. There were no crashes up until this point. About a mile or so into the 3rd lap we hit a short pitch and I fell off the back. I tagged back on for a short time, but that did me in. I didn't have it today. I eventually fell off all together and that was the end of my racing for today. I'm not sure what exactly happened. The average speed at that point was 22 mph.

Once I realized that I wasn't going to finishe this race, I figured I might as well save something for tomorrow. Tomorrows race is a criterium at the BMW test track. I did not do the crits at last years Greenville training series, but I hear that it is a great racing experience. A crit is basically a 1/2 mile to a mile loop and you do that for a specified amount of time. At some point through the crit they take the groups average speed and convert the rest of the time to laps. Then, you're racing and counting down the laps for a sprint finish.

I've registered for all 6 races of the Greenville series. Tomorrow is race number 2. It is supposed to rain. Chance of thunderstorm. I put on my sticky tires for tomorrows crit. Hopefully I will have a better day. And hopefully it will be a safe race.

I talked to my friends Zach and Daniel after todays race. Daniel had got crashed in lap 4, so he did not finish either. He's okay, there is a small scrape on his handlebar tape. Zach got around that crash and finished with the pack. There was about a 2 man breakaway that finished about 40 seconds before the pack. Two guys crashed after crossing the finish line. Crashing on a bike is not pretty and looks extremely painful. My first priority in every race is to be safe and maintain an escape route during every moment.

So by not finishing I avoided at least 2 crashes. But, I would have rather finished. We'll see how tomorrow goes at the BMW track.

Great thing about racing close to home is that you have a good bit of the day free since races are short and do not take up as much time as the long training rides. Those can eat up a good part of your day, which makes other activities in your life difficult to manage.

All for now.....more later.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Anticipating the race season.

I became involved with bicycle racing last year, 2006. In 2005 I made huge improvements in my cycling abilities and was performing quite well in century touring events. After one of my best personal performances in the 115 mile Cherohala Challenge, the next thing was to give racing a try. The 2006 race year was great experience for me. I learned a lot. I started off in Cat 5 and upgraded to Cat 4 by my goal of June 1st 2006. Here is a link to my USCF race results from last year. The USCF does not include all the race events that I did. I did about 35 events last year, and most of them were road races.

This years race season starts on the last weekend of February in Greenville, SC. That is next weekend. I've bee working hard over the fall and winter trying to maintain my fitness and improve my performance. We'll see what happens soon. My goal this year is to upgrade to Cat 3 by June 1st 2007. I already have 7 of the 20 required points from a 1st place finish last September at the Tour of Oaks.

Bicycle racing is a full year commitment. Every single thing I eat and drink is scrutinized in how it may inhibit my ability to achieve my goals and maintain my race weight, a heavy 170 lbs. There are the other commitments like training on the bike at least 4 times a week, approximately 10 to 12 hours through the fall/winter. That increases to about 16 hours a week after the time change. Rest is the hardest part of the racing regimen. Good long naps after a long weekend ride are hard to come by with life's demands, like maintaining livable living conditions or trying to take on other projects. Much of my evening time in 2006 was spent cooking great meals. Bicycle racing allows you to eat, and eat well. Calories become friends and not foes. Weight and health become easy to maintain without thinking too much about it once it becomes your lifestyle. Eating better leads to feeling better and having a better quality of life.

My race season is full-on until the 1st couple weeks of June. Then, I will drop my focus to hang out with my daughter for the summer. I still can get in at least one race a week at the Asheville Mellowdrome/Speedway, Rumble on the River That keeps me fit throughout the summer for when the end of August rolls around. Who knows what exactly I will do then. I hope that I will come to my senses and ride a bike for pleasure, or go camping more often. I love camping. It is the best way to rest.

Everyone has a blog.

After finally realizing that blogs were made for me, I finally started one. So, here it goes. If you wish, you can tune into my blog when ever you want.....but, most likely I will notify you if I post something I believe is worth reading. Lets see what happens. Like everything else in my little life, I probably won't have a lot of time to dedicate to my blog.