Thursday, May 31, 2007

Century Ride Update #8: I Just Need to Pack

So after months of laborious training and finger numbing, I am just a few days away from my first century ride. I have forbidden any Powerbars from entering my sight for the next three to four days.

***

I had a few potluck lunches at school this week, and made it very clear that I am allergic to nuts. My students, without fail, tell me they understand. I was offered two dishes with nuts this morning. I feel some "F's" coming on.

***

I had a dream last night that my girlfriend lost my bike on the way to the century ride, and then we got on a bus that almost killed me a number of times. When we finally got to the race, some red, white, and blue pills she had given me for lunch were being projectile vomited out of my mouth onto the ground. I heaved, and I heaved, and I heaved, but I just couldn't stop puking this red, white, and blue mass out of my mouth. Any ideas on what this means (no...it doesn't mean I'm gay....stop suggesting that every time I ask for a dream interpretation)?

***

One of my favorite questions the past four months has been "How long is a century ride?" I think I have been asked it a century times.

***

I still have two people (Tauni and Leddy) tied for the lead for the "Whoever-Donates-The-Most-Gets-To-Challenge-Me-To-Do-Something-Crazy-in-Tahoe" Contest. If either person donates one more penny, he/she will be the winner of this prestigious contest. I thought there was going to be a dark horse third person (Trish) who would win, but I guess she decided not to donate. I'm pissed. Not because of the money, but because she is insane...and I was actually intrigued by what she was going to challenge me to do. At this point, I'm challenging myself to not fall off the mountain.

***

I don't know if this happens to other bike riders, but if there is glass or some other object on the ground in front of me...I find myself magnetically drawn to riding over it...no matter how hard I try to steer away.

***

The next time I blog, I will have a marathon, a triathlon (sprint), and a century ride under my belt. Ironman anyone?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Burrito Nazi

So almost two years ago I created my first blog. You don't remember it, do you? Well, luckily for you, here it is:

First Blog

Today, almost two years later, the following, almost shockingly similar transaction happened. Same guy. Same burrito shop. Same stupid result.

At about 8:15 this morning, I headed over to the Reyberto's Burrito Shop to get a breakfast burrito. The sign clearly stated they open at 8:00 AM. AND (more importantly) the door was unlocked. Two signs that scream to me:

COME AND GET IT BOY. IT'S BREAKFAST BURRITO TIME.

I go the counter and I can hear the "customer service" guy milling about in the back. I patiently wait. I gots nowheres to bes.

A few minutes later, he walks around the side of the counter straight past me to put something in the salsa bar. No "Good morning." No "Hi." Nothing.

When he reaches the salsa bar, he says, without turning around to speak to me:

"Does the sign say open?"

Sign? Sign? What sign? I think. What the hell is he talking about sign? It's 8:20. The door is open. WHAT SIGN? So I insightfully query:

"What sign?"

No response. He keeps fiddling with the salsa bar with no time to look at me.

I dutifully take matters into my own hands. I look towards the door and notice that there is a sign. Much to my chagrin, he's right. The sign reads "closed." I decide to be aggressive. We have a history, after all.

"Well, it's after 8:00 AM, isn't it?"

He freezes. I got to him. His timeless pause floats in the air between us, until he returns to ignoring me and messing with the salsa bar.

"But I'm not ready yet. And the sign says 'closed.'"

Touche. Well played. But I wasn't about to give up. Today was going to be my day! I thought I could make this work, and I wanted a breakfast burrito, damn it!

"Yeah...well...the door is unlocked!"

HA HA! He didn't see that one coming. I felt proud and waited for him to freeze again.

He didn't. He turned around, walked right past me and back behind the counter. "Yeah, but I'm just not ready."

Sigh. His will is clearly stronger than mine. I played out waiting for him, briefly, in my head. I figured he would take his time and draw it out. I thought of responding further, but this seemed the coward's way out.

At 8:23, without a breakfast burrito, call me a fucking coward.

I marched toward the door, and quipped:

"Guess I'll come back later, then."

I showed him. I didn't go back.

Century Update #7: Everything is Relative

Last weekend I did a 93-mile bike ride. 93 fricken miles. I wanted to just do 7 more and get this shit over with. That would count as a century sans the pomp and circumstance of driving to Lake Tahoe and riding over a mountain. Needless to say: 93 miles is far.

For those of you who know the lay of the land, as it were, in San Diego, we rode from La Jolla to San Clemente and back again.

"But Mark, San Clemente is in Orange County."

Yes, yes, I know. That's how fricken far the bike ride was. We crossed county lines. Did I mention it was far?

***

In another strange Karma twist, I have mentioned a woman a few times in my blog. She is the one that almost pushed me into a car, crosses wheels and tries to get in front of other teammates, and that other riders have grown to hate. I have glossed her as "The Bitch."

Anyway, last week, she dropped down to a lower/slower group after much explaining of how she hadn't been riding and how we don't wait for her in our group anyway (she is really growing tiresome).

As fate would have it, she tried pulling the same crap in the lower group, and she got into an accident last week. When we came upon her group, she was on the ground, whimpering, knee scraped up pretty badly. We, of course, asked what happened:

"Well, we were coming up the hill, and the rest of us were slowing down for a light...and she just kept riding and crossed tired with the guy in front of her. She went down pretty quickly."

The people on my riding team all gave each other a knowing look...and someone else said what I was thinking "I'm surprised this didn't happen earlier when she was riding with us."

I'm still not sure what her deal is as a person, but she is physically OK. She just had some minor scrapes and scratches. Maybe this will calm her down a bit?

***

I'm excited because tomorrow we are only riding 65 miles. Do you know how great that will be? After weeks of riding 80 to 90 miles, 65 seems like a walk in the park. It's usually at the 65 mile mark that I start getting tired anyway, so I'm excited to finish and be active enough to enjoy my Saturday night. Maybe I'll even stay up past 10:00 PM or something crazy like that.

It hit me today that in a few weeks, I won't have anything to do on Saturday mornings. I remember the same feeling last year after training for the marathon month after month...it comes, and then BAM. It's over. Then I go back to being a normal person with something called "free time" to deal with.

Luckily, I have already decided on what my next endeavor will be. But to figure out what that is, you'll just have to keep reading because I'm not saying today. It's a good one, though. It's good.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Century Ride Update #6: Back on Track

So yesterday, after much calorie intake, I was able to ride 78 miles and climb over 4400 feet. This took about six hours of riding time.

More importantly, I made some stunning (yes, stunning) observations:

(1) When a street is labeled "Mountain" or "Pass," like Black Mountain Road, for example, you stay on the shit long enough, you'll find out why. Jeeeeeeez, we did some climbing yesterday.

(2) One of my coaches told me while going up a very large hill, "Mark, drop your bike down into a lower gear, and just sit and spin." I had no idea that I should have been sitting on my middle finger this entire time to make myself a better biker. I'm assuming that my friend Darron is a fantastic and natural bike rider since he enjoys that kind of thing in his daily life.

(3) I mentioned in a previous blog that one of my "teammates" is kind of a bitch. Well, she made the mistake of pissing off another bitch yesterday. Bitch #2 ended up telling about 20 other women that bitch #1 is a bitch. Now, bitch #1 has no friends and was trying to use me as a shoulder to cry on. Karma IS a bitch, as it were.

(4) The highlight of my ride yesterday was that during one of our bathroom breaks, I created a perfect poo. "What's that," you ask? A "perfect poo" is when you go to the bathroom, wipe, and there was no need to wipe. Perfection! That happened on about the 65th mile or so...and really motivated me to finish.

Just a few weeks to go. I can't wait to feel my fingers again!!!!!

Handlebar Palsy

Sounds painful...but it is really just lame. I have been bothered by this for over a month now. I can't move my pinky and ring fingers as per the picture below





This article explains what is going on, and why I, like you, am a living example of how one can live with any kind of Palsy...hahahaha:

Handlebar palsy

Ulnar neuropathy, known to cyclists as handlebar palsy, is caused by compression of the ulnar nerve at the hand and wrist (Fig. 1). The ulnar nerve controls sensation in your ring and little finger and controls most of the muscular function of your hand. Compression of the ulnar nerve is a common problem for competitive and recreational cycle enthusiasts, alike. Compression is the result of direct pressure on the ulnar nerve from the grip on the handlebars. Often, the nerve may be stretched or hyperextended (extension beyond its normal limit) when a drop-down handlebar is held in the lower position. The pressure placed on the ulnar nerve results in numbness and tingling in the ring and little fingers or hand weakness, or a combination of both. Symptoms can take from several days to months to resolve, but surgical treatment is rarely necessary. Rest, stretching exercises, and anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, usually help relieve the symptoms. Applying less pressure or weight to the handlebars and avoiding hyperextension can help to prevent a recurrence.


Prevention
You can overcome or prevent overuse injuries altogether by making some adjustment to your equipment and behavior. Adjusting the handlebars, the seat, and the pedals to your fit is the key to preventing most overuse injuries. Adjust the bike so you sit in a more upright position, taking the weight and pressure off your hands and wrists. Take a rest during long rides and change your hand position on the handlebars often. Shift your weight from the center of your palms to the outside edge of your palms as often as possible. Wear padded gloves and add handlebar padding to your bike to help protect your hands from injury. The padding absorbs the shocks and jolts from the road, limiting the stress transmitted to your hands. Your hands will also be able to handle the stress from the roads much better if you complete a short session of hand and wrist stretches before hitting the road.

Most often, overuse injuries experienced by cyclists stem from a lack of specific preparation. With the proper training and equipment, you can minimize the risk of these hand injuries.

David C. Rehak, MD
Columbus, Georgia

Further Reading

Hems TE, Simpson H. Prevention of hand injuries in cycle accidents. J Trauma. 992;32:683-685.
Ellis TH, Streight D, Mellion MB. Bicycle safety equipment. Clin Sports Med. 1994;13:75-98.
Richmond DR. Handlebar problems in bicy-cling. Clin Sports Med. 1994;13:165-173.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Century Ride Update #5: This isn't "Fun" Anymore

I played basketball and soccer for many years...and in all that time, there was only one instance where my coaches pushed me to the point of vomiting.

A few years ago, I did a triathlon (swim, then bike, then run). During the bike ride, I was dry heaving over my handle bars for about fifteen minutes.

Last year, I did a marathon, and I was so tired, and so dehydrated, I felt like my kidneys were wilting into kidney beans.

Child's play.


Last week, riding up hill after hill after hill in over 100 degree weather, I finally thought to myself:

"Self, this is fucking nuts. If you don't stop pedaling...and soon...you are going to die." And that was a weird thought to have, mind you, because I usually think things like "Self, don't fart in public no matter how funny it would be" or "Self, don't eat the entire bag of soft batch (and nut free) chocolate chip cookies...you need to save room for dessert."

So yeah....feeling my body temperature race from hot to freezing cold to hot to freezing cold, while simultaneously having the biggest headache I have ever had in my life while feeling like I was going to puke while feeling like I couldn't feel my legs while feeling like my lungs were incinerated while feeling like the sun was laying an egg on my head...made me think that I was going to die.

And no...my hand still isn't working (stupid cycler's palsy).

Point being, I found it. I found a spot where I mentally and physically could just not take anymore....and you know why? Because I DIDN'T FUCKING EAT AND DRINK ENOUGH...and 100 degree weather and fifty miles of hills smacked me on the back with a welcoming smile "Remember us...we have been sizzling your flesh off for the past four hours...and try as you might to ignore us...HERE WE ARE!!!!"

So my plan this week is to eat like a big, fat, hungry, just awakened from three-months of hibernation bear...and get as many calories and fluids in me tonight and tomorrow morning as humanly possible because I never, ever, never, ever, never, ever, never, ever want to feel how I did last Saturday ever again.

We'll see how it goes...all scheduled 80 miles of it.