Richard Nelson

Archive for October, 2006|Monthly archive page

Torture?

In indoor cycling, training on 2006 October 28 Saturday at 17:37:00

Friday I was finally back on the Road of Iron. Not sure what exactly is wrong. Coach Steve posited that I’d use a lot of energy recovering from my wounds (to recap: a lot of skin rubbed off, still under Compeed bandages; bruises up and down my left side, metastasized to my right!). Considering that I’m not working out, it seems odd that I’m so tired all the time.

Anyway.

Friday evening, watching SportsCentre and That’s Hockey on the Sports Network, I mounted my bike on the trainer, and did what Coach Steve actually prescribed for Thursday. (Friday was to be a swim day, but still missing a few square inches of skin, I don’t want to expose myself to highly chlorinated water!) That is, I did an hour—yes, a full, honest hour—on the trainer, and did the six 30-s one-leg drills (that is, twelve drills altogether).

One of my favourite magazines, Cycling Plus asked if what they call turbo trainers were “instruments of turture”. They decided no, of course; but there’s something weirdly enervating about riding on a trainer.

Do I have a good trainer? I have the cheapest trainer I could buy from Performance Bicycle. It seems to work fine, though the controller is pretty basic.

Do I have the right technique? I had the trainer at its lowest level, which I still find harder than riding on a windless flat road, and I was in the big ring. I think I may not have been spinning enough; after the hour, my legs were sore, but I rarely got my heart rate above 100.

Of course, I’m delaying now. We have wind warnings (gusts up to 100 km/h!), the roads are wet and covered with leaves, and it’s chilly (about 6°C). A good day to use the trainer. And if I°m not on the trainer really, really soon, I won°t get the two hours of base pace done before I can get to the gym before it closes at 18:00. Sigh.

Update: Well, I didn’t make it. I managed 40 min on the trainer, and that was all. No energy, no mental toughness—I admit it. Did some errands, and I’m irritable, my throat is tight—oh, oh, that damned virus again.

And the weather is nowhere near as awful as Environment Canada forecast. The wind’s not bad at all. The Weather Channel is forecasting a strong breeze from the west tomorrow morning—but nowhere near the storm EC was warning us of.

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Crash!

In cycling on 2006 October 22 Sunday at 16:49:00

Yes, the inevitable happened yesterday (Saturday). I was tooling along, at 15 or so miles an hour, when the handlebar just left my hands. I was on the ground in a split second. My bike and I were spread across two travel lanes; I was lucky the heavy traffic hadn’t been right around me at that moment.

What happened was that there’d been some utility work, and the asphalt patch had sunk, leaving a nice vertical 1-inch bump in the road; I hadn’t seen it, and it had knocked the front wheel out of my command.

I rode another 15 minutes or so, but I decided it was not my day. There was something wrong with the bike, and the pain was getting pretty bad.

My biggest concern is my head. I had hit my head (though my helmet doesn’t show it); and 11 years ago I had a Level III concussion I’d treated very poorly, resulting in persistent, though not serious, post-concussion syndrome. I decided, among the pain, the concern about concussion, and the heavy, heavy traffic on my routes, that I’d go home.

At home I found I’d ripped my favourite cool-weather jersey and my Assos bib shorts, and I had skin ripped off my left knee, left elbow, and, oddly, my right elbow. (I don’t remember hitting it.) I scrubbed the wounds with paper towels until no dirt showed up. You think that hurt? Try putting tincture of iodine on the nicely scrubbed-up wounds. Youch! I ended up spilling iodine on the kitchen floor! 🙂

I called Monado and asked her to come home from visiting her dad; it was a good thing – this morning, at 2:30, my dressings had slipped off, and it was just too darned hard trying to dress my elbow with one hand!

Today, I don’t know. I think I’ll check out my bike, and try to do some spinning on the trainer. Pool work-outs, scheduled for the next two days, don’t seem a good idea, with my open sores – so it’s off to Coach Steve for some advice.

Good news and bad news!

In Uncategorized on 2006 October 15 Sunday at 23:17:00


Yes, I’m sick. The weekend off. Sigh. Only 47 weeks to go!

The good news I got Friday: I’ll be working on an exciting new project, which for the first time in years will be local, although it’ll involve visiting a lot of offices in nearby cities and towns, which means a lot of driving.

The bad news is that it’s likely to threaten my training. Indeed, it begins with the kick-off meeting tomorrow—I’m not sure how I’ll get my two pool work-outs done!

(I guess this assumes I’ll feel like doing them.)

Road trip!

In Uncategorized on 2006 October 11 Wednesday at 00:27:00

Coach Bogie & I travelled to Dane County, Wisconsin, over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend to ride the Ironman Wisconsin bike course.

I’d instigated this journey, and I’d had a couple of objectives. First, I wanted to see how tough the course actually was. Everyone (and you know who “everyone” is, right?) said it was tough, perhaps the toughest of any Ironman North America event—which says quite a lot.

It didn’t matter if it was so tough I couldn’t finish; or if, as I’d predicted, it was “just ”112 miles of the Oak Ridges Moraine, which I happily & even eagerly bike most weekends I can get out of town.

Second, I wanted to get a feel for the course. I sure didn’t want Sept. 9/07 to be my first look at it!

In the event, Coach Bogie & I started a little ways from the course’s start at the Monona Terrace. We parked his Blazer at Olin-Turville park, and we rode our bikes on the sidepath along John Nolen Drive, and turned south on Rimrock Road. Where we met Rusk Road we were now on the official IM route.

Bogie & I took different approaches to the weather. He was in his long-sleeved CSC jersey under a windvest, and wore tights over his bib shorts. I had arm warmers and light long-fingered gloves under my cycling mitts, and no tights. I was pretty comfortable when we began.

We turned briefly onto Oregon Road, then west on McCoy Road, and made the wrong turn, north, on Syene Road. Around Watson Avenue we realized our mistake, and headed south, taking Syene southward. We passed our last subdivision for a while; we were now in country. We turned west on Irish Lane, south on Caine Road, and west, for several miles, on Whalen Road. Here the hills began. Bogie’s observation was that it was like Guelph, by which I suspect he meant that it was like Ontario’s Wellington County. That is, the hills were rolling and steady.

I haven’t mentioned the wind. Most of this time we were subjected to a steady wind of about 20 km/h, with occasional gusts much harder. It made for hard going along Whalen, making the rolling hills seem worse.

At Old Highway PB (really, that’s its name!) the loop began. In the race itself, you do this loop twice; we managed to mess up the beginning a bit. Through a new subdivision, we were diverted from Whalen Road, taking a rocky hill up and around Harvest Lane. Around here I saw a house with a giant Packers banner; in the driveway was a van whose licence plate read QB4GB4, a reference to the Packers’ longtime starting quarterback, Brett Favre.

At County Road M we were supposed to turn right, but for some reason we turned left, crossed U.S. 18/151, and realized at Range Trail we were lost. We turned around, and just guessed to turn at Prairie Heights Road. At Locust Drive we turned the wrong way again, crossed 18/151 again, found ourselves on a very pretty road that was much too gravelly to be an Ironman course. We guessed that north was the right direction, rocketed down Locust Lane’s sharp hill, and turned west on Bruce Street. We were now back on course. We turned southwest on Paoli Street (Wisc. Route 69), crossed 18/151 yet again—but this time we were supposed to! At this point Paoli Street was a divided near-expressway, so I was happy turn west on Valley Road, which despite its name was a sharp ascent, before we fell into the ravine of the Sugar River.

Valley Road ended at Sugar River Road, where we turned north. Somewhere around here, I stopped to take a picture on my camera phone of some grazing horses. They were such odd colours, I rather thought Monado would like to see them. In the sunlight, even with my reading glasses on, I had to shoot blind; the picture isn’t bad.

While I was standing there, I saw a used 700C tubular in the swale, so I stuffed it in a jersey pocket, and headed off to find Bogie, who was waiting patiently for me at the top of a hill. (He later said he was riding about 2½ miles per hour slower than his usual easy pace; but then his target Ironman time is 4½ hours shorter than mine!)

We turned west on Marsh View Road, then southwest on the wonderfully named County Track G. More rolling hills, but sharing a road without a shoulder with a lot of fast-moving motor vehicles.

Track G ends at Washington Street (State Route 92), where we turned northwest. This was even worse—hilly, narrow, with a crumbling road edge, and a lot of motorized traffic. But the drivers were astoundingly courteous. I had several drivers wait behind me until the opposite lane was clear so they didn’t have to pass me too close.

Just as we’d turned north on Washington Street, we’d been passed by a faster cyclist, and Bogie, as is his wont, took off to “take” him. I was on my own for a long ride!

We entered Mount Horeb, and Washington Street turned north, became 8th Street, still State Route 92 but now also County Road JG (they all had these funny lettered names; typical of Wisconsin I’ve since found out—but we never figured out the system).

Bogie was waiting for me at a gas station at the traffic circle. I was out of fluids, so took the rest of his Gatorade, and we headed off. (By this time I’d taken off my arm warmers and gloves. Bogie was still in his fall outfit.) Up to this point, we agreed, the route was tought but doable; but Bogie told me that the other cyclist had told him that it got much worse. Hm.

We headed through the traffic circle, still on 8th Street (now State Route 78), and turned east on County Road S. We were in the country, and headed back to Madison—but, as promised, we had a lot of punishment yet to take.

It was wonderful on a high highway, with a beautiful view, with that stiff wind to our back, and we rocketed past our turn, north on Witte Road. I noticed the steeeeep downhill followed by an equally steep up, and remarked to Bogie that I was glad it wasn’t on our route! But we checked our cue sheets, and realized it was! This was the best downhill of the course—I hit 40 m.p.h., but I was still in my bottom gear when I ascended the other side. We also got a stark reminder of why people don’t like living near pig farms!

East on County Road J—still heading home!—and then north on Garfood Road. We almost got turned around where Garfoot jogs at Mineral Point Road; the written directions make no mention of this jog, but fortunately the map suggested it. From here, came my favourite part of the course. A long, sinuous descent, at high speeds, until the road ended and we had to turn east—still homeward!—on County Road KP, and then east on Bourbon Road (sic) into Cross Plains. It was here that we had what I would characterize as an un-Wisconsin moment. A young guy with thumping hip-hop coming out of the windows of his Ford Escort pulled in front of a wind-aided Bogie so that Bogie had to jam on his brakes to avoid hitting the car. Bogie gave him a killing look, but I doubt it had any effect.

Where Bourbon Road ends, we turned south on County Road P, another busy highway, but we passed over something I’d never seen before: a tunnel under the road for cattle! Not tall enough for a man, I don’t think, but squarish for cattle. Kind of neat.

The triathletes that post on bulletin boards refere to Ironman Wisconsin as “IM Moo”, but I saw very few cattle. I would think “IM Corn” would be a better nickname!

In due course we turned east onto Stagecoach Road, which was uncharacteristically flat! We passed more farms and estate homes, and a lake marked with private-property signs. I noted that we were passing between two glacial-dome-type hills and thanked the route-designers for omitting them.

I thanked them too soon!

We turned south on Birch Trail, and the road started to climb. Then we turned east onto Old Sauk Pass Road. Note that word: Pass. This was the prettiest road, and definitely the worst hill, on the route. I was soon out of the saddle, pushing each pedal down, wondering if I was going to topple—or if I should save that indignity by walking up the hill!

Bogie must have read my mind, because he came back, and yelled, “No quitting, Nelson!” I made it, and then we had the joy of the twisting descent. We turned south on Timber Lane, more largeish exurban homes, but we were now straight into the wind, and even some modest hills left me hating life. But I was also out of fluids again.

At the crest of one of these hills we passed Serene Court, and I announced to no one in particular that I, for one, was not feeling serene.

We turned east on Midtown Road—which was not in the middle of any town—then south on Shady Oak Lane, east on County Road PD, south on Nine Mound Road—which, despite its name, was not particularly hilly; after Old Sauk Pass Road, I was suspicious of any road that actually mentioned hills!

We were now on the outskirts of Verona, and Cross Country Road took us right into town, descending another steep hill before we stayed relatively level in the city itself. South on Main Street, decorated with welcome banners for cyclists! We stopped at a gas station at Verona Avenue, and bought some fluids, which I badly needed. We continued east on Verona Avenue, south on Old County Road PB, and back to Whalen Road. We’d done the loop!

The last hills on Whalen Road didn’t seem so bad after the horrors we’d been through, and having the wind at our back meant that even though I was leading we were keeping a steady 20 m.p.h. or better.

All told, 68.8 miles in 5 h 7 min. That sounds horrid, but it’s the pace for an 8:20 bike split, which is “only” an hour off my best possible time—and I have 11 months left to train!

Some observations: I’m really, really glad I made the trip. I think I’d’ve been thoroughly demoralized by the hills past Mount Horeb if I didn’t know what to expect. Also it gives me the glimmering of a strategy for the course: steady all the way to Mount Horeb; make up lots and lots of time into Cross Plains; then grind it out to Verona. Bogie did suggest that I get a couple more teeth on my sprocket; that would allow we to spin 80 r.p.m. up even the terrible hills, and thus save my legs. Bogie also feels that it’s a great course for a tri bike, despite all the hills. I’m still not sure about that.

I do plan to come back, probably late in the spring. As of Tuesday morning, that trip may include Bogie and Our Hero Rob as well.

The trip itself

Bogie picked me up at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, and we drove pretty much without stopping the 13 hours and 1100 km to Madison. The route was an unaccustomed one for Bogie, who does have relations in Chicago: Ontario Highways 401 and 402 to Point Edward; across the Blue Water Bridge to Port Huron; and Interstate Highways 96, 69, 94, and 90 all the way to Madison.

The westward crossing seemed laborious, with a 20-minute wait. The CBP agent was bored and obviously tired. He asked us the purpose of our visit, and Bogie said we were driving to Wisconsin to go cycling. At this point the agent asked an acute question: “You’re driving all the way to Wisconsin to go cycling?” Bogie answered with the truth, that we were doing an Ironman.

Then, perhaps as punishment for our pretensions, we missed the exit to I-69, and got lost in Port Huron. We stopped at a Krogers for fuel, and, according to Bogie, I lost my manliness by asking for directions. It turned out the directions were accurate, though, and we were on I-69 again in no time.

On I-90/94 across Chicago we lost a ton of time with the “Open Tollway” construction.

Anyway, after 13 hours of driving, all done by Bogie, we arrived at the Quinta Inn & Suites in the American Center business park north of Madison. It amuses me how a Quinta tries to be up market. The clerk offered me an upgrade to a 2-room suite for $20. Of course, two straight guys travelling together would prefer separate rooms, so I went for it, but I asked the obvious (to me) question: wasn’t I already in a suite? Oh, yes, I was told; but it was a one-room suite. I didn’t get an answer to my question about how one room could be a suite. So because the hotel wasn’t busy I ended up with a “Jacuzzi suite”, probably not something we want to share with Bogie’s manly friends!

One curious fact: on the entire 1100-km trip I saw only three working police cars: two OPP cruisers forming a speed trap near the Blue Water Bridge, and a Wisconsin State Patrol car not long before Madison. I never saw a police car in Madison.

Another interesting thing (to me): except for Port Huron, it was hard to believe we were passing through large cities in Michigan (Flint, Lansing, and Battle Creek). All we ever saw was trees. Well, not exactly true: one very large GM plant as we entered Flint.

Sunday night, after our big ride, we headed to downtown Madison for something to eat. We walked the entire length of State Street, from Capitol to University, and around some of the local streets, before we settled on Frida Mexican Grill, which had large murals (of course) of a beetle-browed Frida Kahlo facing me. As Bogie noted, it would be tough to spend more than $20 on State Street; our extravagant, high-calorie, post-epic-ride meal cost me $48 for both of us.

Monday—our Thanksgiving—we headed home. Once again, Coach Bogie never wanted to stop, but refuelled the car at the Belvidere Oasis (great name), where I got us some Starbucks and Krispy Kremes.

The only interesting thing about this 13-hour drive was our 1½-hour(!) crossing of the Blue Water Bridge. I have a word of advice for anyone Canada-bound on this bridge: stay to the left!

Anyway, as we edged our way across, we joked about peeing off the bridge. “What a great story that would be!” Bogie remarked more than once—but we kept ourselves in the car.

The guy in front of us—a later-middle-aged fellow in a Mazda Millenia—couldn’t wait. Only six cars from the Customs booth, he opened his car door, and stood up facing to the booth. It was Bogie who identified what he was doing, and when we saw the puddle he left, Bogie’s hypothesis was confirmed. “But his wife was in the car!” I noted. “Ah, she’s seen it before,” Bogie said.

The Importance of Being Earnest

In Uncategorized on 2006 October 6 Friday at 19:59:00

Monado’s present for my birthday arrived the other night: a DVD of the 1952 British film The Importance of Being Earnest, what is surely the funniest play every made. Sadly, I don’t think Monado quite found it as funny as I did.

Why is this on the Road of Iron? I’d come home from my late swimming lesson Wednesday night, and there it was, so I stayed up watching it. Only six hours sleep that night; then only six last night. The result? A day of doziness and laziness today.

But as I type this, I’m watching it again, and enjoying it as thoroughly as always.

Catching up!

In Uncategorized on 2006 October 5 Thursday at 15:10:00

Yeah, it’s been a while, and the funny thing is that my training is going great.

Let’s hit the key points, though:

At 11:16 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, September 11, I successfully registered for Ironman Wisconsin 2007. This is very scary, but very exciting, too. The following Sunday I went to an end-of-triathlon-season party, which included a couple who themselves had just done IM Wisconsin 2006. It came out, of course, that I’d signed up for IM Wisconsin, even though I’ve never done a triathlon. There were a lot of arched eyebrows, I can tell you—until our host said I’d engaged Steve Bentley as my coach.

I’m now “panicing early”: every missed work-out seems to take me away from goal of finishing IM Wisconsin—so I’ve gotten better at finding the time. On Sunday, Coach Steve said, “Congratulations on a good week.”

I’ve learned that business travel is not good for Ironman training. A short trip to Ottawa in aid of some work for that city’s transit property left me with no time to train.

Two weeks ago, walking out of my house to do a bike work-out, my plastic Look cleats slipped on the wet painted wood of the steps. As I fell, I prayed, “Please, let me fall on my ass”; but my prayers weren’t answered, and I fell to my right, digging a nice deep gash in my right arm, a gash that got mildly infected; and straining my right wrist.

The wrist I took care of: didn’t use it for a few days, iced it several times a day; and it repaid me by healing nicely. But pain below the wrist, in my upper hand, persisted; and indeed, has gotten worse. Yesterday, my doc poked around, raising even more pain, and gave me the preliminary diagnosis of a non-displaced fractured metacarpal. Not serious; but it means weight work-outs, which I have a problem doing in the first place, will be tough.

One thing that’s kind of exciting—heck, very exciting is that “Coach Bogie” and I are driving to Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend (October 7-10) to do the bike course. We keep hearing such fearsome descriptions of it that we decided to see for ourselves. If it really is hell, we’ll know, and will train accordingly; if it’s just like the Oak Ridges Moraine, then I’ll know just where to train! Indeed, I found that Dane County (of which Madison is the seat) is “glaciated and has a landscape of low rolling hills with intermittent moraines”—so my hope is not bootless!