More good cyclist stuff

Christian Vande Velde is riding with CSC and Ivan Basso, and keeping a sporadic diary over at VeloNews. Good stuff. And interestingly enough, the Dave he’s talking about (Zaberski) won today’s time-trial stage pretty handily, becoming one of a handful of Americans to do anything worthwhile at the Giro.

Allez Allez Allez!

Came home after lunch today. Baby was down for a nap, boy was having a little quiet time since he was a bit cranky, and my lovely wife said “Hey, why don’t you take out the bike?” So I say … Well, I didn’t say anything, since I was OUT THE DOOR!

Headed up Pumpkin Hill Road towards Ledyard. Great temps, grey skies with sun breaks and occasional sprinkles. Rain that probably shouldn’t even be called rain – it barely even spotted the pavement.

In any case, it felt like I was hammering. Uphill for a couple miles; hung a right when Pumpkin Hill ran into Shewsville Road, and a left at Town something road, just before I got to the elementary school.

WOW! So I’d been going up-hill, right? Pretty consistently for a couple miles. The road was downhill, like steep enough to ski down; twisty, and probably 3/4 of a mile long. Man. Honestly, there were a couple of places where I was laying on the breaks out of fear of dashing my head upon a stone wall. Very nice; can’t wait to run it again.

That wasn’t quite all. Turned north again on some road I can’t recall, and continued on. Hit a relatively well traveled road, turned east and hit another HUGE climb. Dadgum. Almost clipped out to walk for a while, but ended up dragging myself up, without even bailing out to the 25 cog. I didn’t get to enjoy the downhill like I should have, since I wasn’t sure where the turn back south towards the house was going to be. Made it almost all the way to the casino – not a bad ride.

The road back south (Long Pond / Lantern Hill road) was all that and a bag of chips. The whole thing is along a couple of lakes sitting down in a valley that the glaciers gouged out 20,000 years ago, and features about a half mile or so on a cliff overlooking the lake. Very, very nice.

The ride back to the house was good but tough. There wasn’t a lot of wind, but enough to be apparent. Nonetheless, I was pushing, flying, and generally amazed at the sustained effort I was able to generate. When I was almost back, I hung a right, and kind of jogged northwest to add another couple miles. Great decision – the road kind of opened up into pasture land – verdant green, horses, good stuff.

Spring’s a hoot. I’d never really noticed before, but spring’s kind of like fall in reverse. As the leaves start coming out, there’s pale reds, yellows, greens – very nice. And it’s getting to the point where there’s an entire spectrum, separate from the regular spectrum that consists only of shades of green.

Great ride.

Next week should be fun. Work is going to be tough, but I need to put a couple of tough days in tomorrow and Tuesday, run easy on Wednesday, and either rest or ride easy so I can keep up with TRCWTOH and April-Anne on Friday. I’m psyched.

BeaverTail

Fun run Thursday. Not necessarily a “good” run – I missed both mileage goals and time goals, but I did a little exploring, which is always fun. Guess Jeff got me jonesing to explore strange new worlds and seek out new civilizations.

Anyhow, I parked down at the south end of Jamestown, and figured I’d run to BeaverTail and back to the car (for about 3 or 3.5 miles), then past the car back towards town about a half mile or so, and end up with about 4.5 or 5 depending on how I felt. Well, I didn’t quite make that (did about 4 miles in about 35 minutes), but I had a great run. Pics to follow. Here’s a map – the red spots are Rhode Island parkland in the Bay.

When I got to the park, instead of running along the park road, I ducked down a trail I’d been meaning to follow for a while. Ran about 200 yards, and saw this:

Cool. I thought.

Little ways further on, I saw this old WWII bunker. I’d seen it a couple of times from the road behind it, but had never gone around. All concrete and nifty. Good laser target; set the fuse for a long delay (on the order of tens of miliseconds), and you could pop this easy now-a-days.

AAA emplacement, too. Kind of nuts to think that only 65 years ago, folks were waking up here every morning worried that they’d be shelled by the Germans.

Looking south, towards Bermuda, past the lighthouse.

I’m sure the guy’s a fine tree, but PBS has spoiled me – the only thing I can think when I see a painter is “Happy trees”…

After this, I end up on the serious trails on the western side of the park. Serious, winding, rutty, muddy, singletrack. Good stuff, makes me want knobbies on my MTB again. Sections are right up against the rocks dropping into the bay. Nothing serious like they’ve got out in California (I’m thinking the stretch over on the western side of Point Loma, not quite up to Sea World), but still pretty sketchy. Sorry, but I didn’t take pictures.

Back at the car, I’d parked near a Nature Conservancy bit of land. Here’s the sign:

Here’s the trail:

Here’s the reward:

How cool is that? Unmarked, deserted stretch of beach? I need to start waking up earlier.

Allez Basso!

I haven’t checked the standings in the Giro other than catching the headlines at Google News (I am so digging on a customized Google News Page) and a scan of the cycling blogs I follow, so I’m not quite sure how Ivan Basso is doing. You may remember Basso from his stellar showing at last year’s Tour de France, where he accompanied Armstrong to most of the mountain finishes, and beat him soundly at the end of one stage. Basso seems to be an agreeable fellow, more so after I caught this VeloNews interview:

VN: Many believe you’re poised to win the Tour, so why race the Giro now?

IB: It’s not easy to win the Tour next year. I did a very nice Tour, a very strong Tour, but not near the win. I still lost five, six minutes to Lance; that’s a lot of time. I think it’s better to talk about winning the Tour when you arrive near the winner, not six minutes away. That’s a big difference. …

VN: What is your impression of Armstrong?

IB: He’s the strongest rider in the group. He’s incredible and he’s the best professional. I see him at least one more year as strong. Every year is not the same, but Lance is amazing. I have much respect for him because he is a very big professional.

VN: How is your relationship with him?

IB: With me, he’s a big man, because he helped me in the Tour and after the Tour with my mother. His foundation helped my mother. I never had a problem with Lance. The problem is the riders that don’t respect Lance – he won six Tours – the other guys, shut up.

There’s more good stuff, like his bit on CSC Director Sportif (think Manager/Coach) Bijarne Riis’ view of life: “The most important thing is the confidence in yourself. That’s what Bjarne teaches us, then it’s no problem. You have to believe in yourself always. I focus on what I have to do, train, race, rest, it’s all okay. This is where has Bjarne has helped me a lot. He’s helped me so much with his philosophy. You believe in yourself always. You have to be a killer, but it’s not possible to change like this to that so fast.” Stuff like that is why I love cycling – most of the riders get “it”, the necessity for the long slog and hard work.

(And this would be a perfect place to rehash the classic Lance Armstrong quote – “People keep asking me what I’m on. You want to know what I’m on? I’m on my bike six hours a day, busting my ass. What are you on?”)

Skipped the run today, but had an absolutely beautiful ride yesterday. Temps in the low 60’s, bluebird skies, and strangely, no wind. Did about 12 miles in about 40 minutes, which is cooking pretty well. I was at a meeting near the Aquarium; headed over to Stonington via various back roads, then headed back to Mystic proper on US 1, crossed the drawbridge, absolutely FLEW down River Road on the Groton side with visions of LeMond on the Champs Elysses and either the 2003 or 2004 TdF Team Time Trial where they headed down the Normandy Coast running through my head, then turn around at Old Mystic and back to the Aquarium.

Great ride, but I ended up wishing I’d started by heading up to Old Mystic and taking the rt. 214? hill south-east out of town. The climb’s a bear (It’s the one I posted pics of last year), but the more often I do it, the more often I want to do it, just to see if I can do it faster or in a bigger cog. What a great feeling.

What are you on?

Paolo Bettini

Wow – First stage of the Giro d’Italia yesterday. Incredible course down along the “toe” of Italy. I’ve been through the Strait of Mesinna (n.b. – it’s always a “Strait”, as in the “Strait of Gibraltar”, “Strait of Hormuz”, “Strait of Malacca”, “Strait of Juan de Fuca”, ’cause there’s only one way through. Easy to spot the folks who don’t actually read charts, ’cause you’ll hear them talking about going through the “Straits”. Sorry for the rant) between Sicily and Italy, and it was incredible. There were tiny (about 4′ long) Med dolphins playing in the bow wave on the sonar dome, and more ferries than I could count heading between insanely beautiful villas built into the side of the limestone cliffs rising out of azure waters. The first stage was all that and a decent (1500′) climb, all about twice as fast as I could possibly go.

Bettini took a flier with about 1 KM to go – the course made a couple of really tight turns, and there was a decent uphill of a couple meters that threw off the sprinters’ teams, and he was able to take the stage and the Maliga Rosa. How cool is that – Olympic Gold last year, and his first Giro stage win this year? With the Pro Tour bringing all the big teams (if not all the big names) to Italy this year, the Giro has a whole new level of cool cycling cred – everyone watches le Tour; only the cool kids watch the Giro.

4 miles along Burma Trail today, 32 ish minutes. I’d be happy, ‘cept the two miles back were tough. Yeah, yeah – almost 8 minute mile average. Frankly, I’m ecstatic at the progress I’ve made.

And Dianna – I did register for the Bluff Point run. Signed up for the 7.4 mile “Long Loop”. I’ve done the section on Bluff Point proper pretty frequently, but haven’t extended out to Haley farm. May have to go preview later this week.

As promised –

Here’s the sunset…

Made it in for a swim on Friday; Saturday and today were busy and gnasty, so I blew it off. Not a huge week, but again, I’m in maintinence stage for the near future. Swim was great – only had time for 1000 yards, but it was much like Thursday’s night run – I was able to keep accelerating without heading into the anaerobic zone.

Little Desparate Housewives tonite, little reading H2G2, and an early night to get a jump on the week.

Dueling Sunsets

I have taken the most extraordinary pictures of sunset this evening but alas the margin of this blog is too small to contain them…

Sorry, it made me chuckle. But then, I’m a math kind of guy.

I really did intend to post east coast sunset pictures tonight to do kind of a dueling banjos kind of thing with Jeff, but I cannot find the cable to connect my camera to my computer. I’m not quite sure the pics from tonight are going to come out, but it doesn’t matter. Not one tiny bit.

I’m still a little strapped at work, but my head’s above water, not just my nose. I’d only done one extra night at the office, mainly because I needed to decompress a bit, but also because I got a revised schedule that does not include my getting a peptic ulcer. I was going to head straight to the office late this afternoon after I finished up with my client today. But, it’s drill this weekend, and supposed to rain Saturday and Sunday again to boot, and the grass has been growing like crazy. So, I swung by the house to chew on some pasta salad and cut the lawn. The lawn ended up being festive – the five year old was chasing me, then running away when I’d swing around for the next stripe, and baby and mommy were playing in the swing. Finished up (ahem, you ran out of gas with about a quarter of the back yard to go, says the wife) at bathtime, and while Missy went to tuck the kids in, I headed off to the office.

Via Bluff Point. I got to the parking lot just as the sun’d gone below the horizon. Hit the trail toting just the camera. And almost instantly felt just plain good.

Everything Tuesday’s run was, today’s was the exact opposite. The muscles felt loose, the ground was rising up to meet my feet, my breathing was good. Cosmic alignment, I’m guessing.

I’d left the iPod in the car, so had nothing but my thoughts to keep me company on the trails. Oddly enough, my mind turned to music, specifically meter. I’ll preface this by saying I couldn’t carry rhythm in a bucket, and my knowledge of music theory stops after trebel clef, bass cleff, and “This one goes to eleven”. But, while planning this entry in my head, I thought back to one of the runs last year at Pequot Woods where I’d mentioned that jazz went best with trail running, since both involved improvising around a regular meter. In Jazz, it’s called swing; in running it’s called trying not to trip.

Anyway, the thought tonight was in musical development. I started wondering why most “popular” music throughout the ages – rock, R&B, blues, even many hymns – had 2/2 or 4/4 time. The question popped up just as I’d come to a flat, wide section of the trail, and a song had popped into my head, and my feet were providing the bass drum line. Hmmm, go figure – most people used to walk a lot; it’s the rhythm in their heads.

So I started thinking about waltzes. Not sure if it’s accurate, but I associate them kind of with something-teenth century European aristocracy. And I started wondering – maybe they spent lots of time on a horse galloping from place to place. And started hearing and picturing a gallop in my head – front feet, back feet, glide, and hearing how that could work out to be 3/4 time.

I’m sure I’m smoking crack, but it was an interesting thought experiment.

As I came around the point and started heading back to the car, something lifted. I was leaning forward, and somehow, I was running FAST. I did it for a while, and started expecting the usual lung ache, gasping, pounding heart, etc, that I get at this speed, but there was just a nice, measured effort. clearly I had more in the tank. Good stuff.

I’m logging 5 miles for the day since i mowed.

Oh, and it is springtime in Connecticut – ran through some tall grass, and found two deer ticks in the shower.

OH, and to put the icing on the cake: I got a cool, cool, Einstein Brother’s Bagels jersey off of EBay today. Dig the pics:

Bluebird of Happiness

Wasn’t with me on the run today, that’s for sure. 5.2 miles on a windy, windy, sunny day in the 50’s. Out was into the wind and chilly, back was tired, with the wind, and about perfect (aside from the tired). Think I was a little dehydrated – funny how a week off makes you forget about little things like pounding water in the mornings before a lunchtime run. But I made it. I didn’t have to walk any of the hills, but I did take about a minute’s walk break after I crested the long, shallow hill heading up behind the NAPS (Naval Academy Prep School) building. The toughest part after the week off was in not being stretched out enough.

But tomorrow will be better.

I see light at the top of the work hole I’ve dug, which is all good. Took last night off for some canoodling on the couch, and made t-ball practice today. So much fun – it was just the coach and his two kids, and one other girl who’s mom was playing on the playground with her younger kid. So Nate and I played backstop on the basepath, two kids stood on either side of the pitcher’s mound, one kid played first base (t-ball defensive strategy consists of “Catch the ball and throw it to first … Hey, stop looking at the ants!”) while the fourth kid would hit (t-ball offensive strategy – “Hit the ball, drop the bat, and run as fast as you can to first base … No, keep running, don’t stop to look at the ants!”).

Nate (1 year old) thought it was the coolest thing to shuffle along in the base path and occasionally stop to pick up dirt clods. A couple of times he’d imitate the big kids by looking towards home and squatting down, the laughing hysterically. Either that, or he was pooping – when I picked him up to go home, he was stinky.

Good times, good times. My only prayer is that it stays fun for Jake until he decides if he wants to play or not on his own.

OK, back to writing electronic courseware.

Week Off / subtitle: rainbows, cupcakes, and warm kitties

First, huge thanks to Chris, whose “Look inside a little, I think. You’re really on yourself lately. Why?” comment last week kind of cracked open something I’ve been sitting on at work for a while. Completely unrelated to running, but it’s far closer to being done. What remains to be seen is if I’ll take the time to breathe after that stone’s lifted from my chest, or if I’ll grunt out another “More Weight” like Giles Corey.

Second – Hmm, key to weight loss may completely be calories. I’ve been working my tail off last week, eating only three squares a day, and I’m down about 4 lbs. I’m blowing that this weekend – stopped by Target on the way in to pick up snacks yesterday, but think I’ll end up net loss from last week.

Third – This does not, by any means, mean that training is derailed. Matter of fact, I’m chomping at the freakin’ bit. But I had a choice to make this week between family and fitness, and decided to pick family. It was the right choice – Jake started t-ball (baseball without pitching) last week, and I was able to make his practice and game; I made it to the church’s spring clean-up, and I’ve tucked the boys in every night this week except one. Plus, I’ve been averaging 7 hours of sleep, which is a net gain (and could have something to do with the weight loss, too…)

Fourth – The major effort at work ends tonite. I’ll still be REALLY busy for another couple of weeks, but should be able to fit in family and fitness in addition to working for the Man.

Goals for the next week –
1. Catch up on y’all’s posting. Tomorrow night, most likely, after the wife and I catch up on “Desparate Housewives”.
2. Move to WordPress, probably Wednesday. No later than Saturday.
3. Rough Schedule:
Monday – Bike – maybe 20 miler on Jamestown before work?
Tuesday – Run 5, LSD
Wed – Run 5, Intervals
Thu – Run 5, try to hit sub-8’s on each mile
Fri – Swim
Sat – Run 5 (Drill)
Sunday – Ride an hour or 20 miles, whichever is longer (my bet is 20 miles in about 75 minutes)