Thanksgiving weekend mini training camp

Five and a half weeks off the bike was all I could handle with the weather continuing to hit the bottom 70’s and the hills beckoning so suggestively. I’d still been riding an easy 10 hours a week, just for something to do during lunch and to keep the weight down, but I managed to hold real training off until my birthday on the 16th. I gave myself a present by kicking off the 2013 season with a hard effort up Sunshine climb.  Going to the top of the steep part where I usually stop is a little under 40 minutes when I go hard, which I now know thanks to my newfound obsession with Strava. I never knew how long it took to climb Sunshine until Strava told me to climb it faster. It’s a good thing Strava was invented, because otherwise I certainly wouldn’t have stumbled upon this optimized method of training by doing every climb (every day) all out in an attempt to humble online strangers.

I’m attempting to carry on normal person behavior and activities throughout the winter and hopefully during the race season as well, because I’ve decided that it might stave off the obsession and resulting depression that comes with a life filled only with bicycle racing and training. This past week, with Michael The SenselessBoss coming into town to visit and train, I could think of nothing more normal person behavioral than having Thanksgiving with friends, hiking, going out for some dinners, drinking a couple beers out on Pearl Street, and going to a strip club.

Michael, my training buddy from Santa Yenez back in the winter of 2010, burned a few thousand pounds of dinosaur bones on his journey over from Iowa. Or Ohio. Or maybe Nebraska. One of those worthless states. Anyways, he got here mid day Thursday (Thanksgiving), right after I’d descended from climbing Sunshine to the top to see if the Strava gods would be kind that day. The Strava gods were not forgiving, so I decided to take out my anger on Michael, who, like I mentioned, had just been cooped up in a car for the past 92 hours or so. I met him at my apartment and I told him we’d do a flat route, impatiently hounding him to hurry up and get ready so we could get in three more quick hours before Thanksgiving dinner at Tim’s apartment. Side story: Tim and I planned on meeting in North Boulder for a ride about three weeks ago. On my way out there I saw someone up ahead of me so I started going faster so I could pass with a lot of speed. I always pass people going at least 15 mph faster than them to make them feel shamefully slow. As I was about to start my 300 meter sprint I noticed that the person I was coming up on was Tim. I was a bit confused since I thought he still lived down in South Boulder, so I wondered what he was doing here in my neck of the woods way up in Gunbarel. I pulled up beside him and said hello. He told me that the reason he’d moved north like me was because, as everyone knows, Gunbarel is THE happening place between Boulder and Longmont. There’s even rumor of Gunbarel hosting a stage of the USA Pro Challenge next year. I made that rumor. But back on track to the off-track story, Tim and I finished our ride that day and headed home to our respective refrigerators. It turned out that he lived on the same street as me. Then it turned out that he lived in the same apartment complex. And then, as he pulled up to his apartment, I realized he lived in the same building as me. This sort of thing happens in Gunbarel all the time. It has that small town feel where you bump into people you know, despite being a large, bustling epicenter of excitement, night life, new world-wide-setting trends, and cultural evolution.

And back to the other story: the howling wind on Thanksgiving didn’t agree with Michael’s sea-level, car-lagged, one ride a week legs. It didn’t agree with mine either, but I knew I’d have to ride pretty hard to make things difficult for Michael on my wheel. I punished us both, quickly jumping to my favorite, almost unsustainable pace.  I was pumping out enough watts to power a couple Easy Bake ovens, and I know this because I was able to monitor all my data with the five viewable fields on just one screen, and also navigate without getting lost, thanks to my new Garmin 800. The ultimate sign of a douche bag is when said bag does a product plug for a non-sponsor in order to look pro.

I began feeling the effort and my lack of fitness roughly four hours into the ride, so we slowed down a bit and rode two up. Michael kept talking and asking me questions, though, so I eventually sped up again so I didn’t have to talk. We arrived home pretty cracked and laid on the couch while Kim and Adelaide finished preparing their meals for the Thanksgiving feast. I threw together a salad in four minutes and rounded up one full pie and one mostly full pie I’d bought the night before; we walked the 50 feet around to the front side of the building to Tim and his girlfriend, Tina’s, apartment. Introductions were made, and forgotten within half a second, as my stomach grumbled and my legs bowed, bringing me to the soft carpeted floor in a puddle of limbs. The “Missfit Thanksgiving” has been going on for years, started by a group of friends that don’t even live in Boulder anymore. It always has a bunch of new people each year, accumulating new members and new dishes with every edition. I was invited last year by Tim, and the rules are that if you attend once you have a lifetime invitation. This was a relief because last year I ate about 1/4th of the food that 16 people brought, and wasn’t sure if I’d be allowed back.

The quantity of food I was able to consume this year was surprisingly wimpy compared to last year, and as I sit here typing this, hungrily sipping hot tea in an attempt to forget my sad stomach, I’m thoroughly upset with past Kennett for not forcing more down. Aside from the food, I’d say the highlight of the night was during Charades when Michael acted out Garfield by rubbing up on someone’s leg like a cat. The pedophile jokes from the law student and his girlfriend were pretty good too.

The next day was another big ride, though less intense thankfully, because my legs were pretty cooked from the day before. Michael, Tim, and I rode over to meet Matt in the slums of Boulder for a journey into the mountains of Coal Creek and then Golden Gate park, elevation 9,400 ft. Michael’s sea level legs held surprisingly strong in the high, crisp air. The sun’s brilliant rays treated us to an amazing late November day as we ground our way up 15% dirt grades in the thinning alpine forest.  Running strong on gas station cappuccino and sausage stuffing from the night before (uhhh…), I decided to burn off some extra energy on Sunshine by myself after we descended Boulder Canyon. I returned home ready to devour a goat or four. We unleashed our appetites upon the pantry of a house for which Kim was dog sitting.

Day three of the mini training camp involved calling in a fresher pair of legs: Liam, my fastest work colleague who was most likely ready for some revenge after I’d taken him up Sunshine for a “sort of” hard effort the week before. He was also ready to take revenge on Michael, for Michael had stormed past him for the win, stamping out Liam’s chance at glory in the Tour of Galena last spring. We went up Sunshine, down Poorman, and ventured up a NASTY dirt climb, called Logan Mill, which snaked its way up the side of a steep ridge, shadowing Sugarloaf Mt. Road. Michael attacked early on the steep slopes and I followed, knowing his legs were already cracked and the only reason he was attacking was because he’d soon be paper-boying up the steep brute. He went again when I got on his wheel. Then again. And then one more vicious time before I countered, finally dropping him. Earlier I’d been suffering pretty badly doing 250 watts. Now I was surging at 500 up this damn gravel climb with nowhere to go except pain and suffering. I eased up to let the other guys catch back up, hoping I’d won the penis contest and we’d ride civilized to the top. Not so. Liam came around with venom in his eyes and crushed the next 15 minutes to the false summit, with me never being able to close the 30 second gap. Why the hell were we riding so hard when we were so tired? One might as well ask what I’d do for a Klondike Bar.

We got somewhat lost after regrouping at the top, despite all having GPS devices. We ended up having to rely on directions from a chance van passing by, which pointed us the right way to the closest paved road–just 500 meters around the bend. The problem with reading a GPS machine is that you have to be able to see straight, which I’m not sure any of us were capable of doing at that point.

For dinner, Michael and I treated ourselves to some pho Vietnamese soup, which is one of the best recovery foods you could ask for: rice noodles, liquid, salt, hot sauce, and MSG.  For dessert: Boom frozen yogurt. Somehow we mustered the energy to head out to Pearl Street instead of retreating home to the couches.

The next day was similar, though Michael took an easy coffee shop day and I rode with a new training partner, Jon Moro, for the first couple hours of my day.  As the hours ticked by, I realized I was feeling better and better, somehow not even feeling fatigue or pain in my legs at all. It was eerily bizarre. I stopped to re-calibrate my Powertap in case it was off, which it was not. I felt amazingly good considering it was the fourth day on in a row. In fact, I now felt better after 18 hours of training since Thursday than I did when I started this block. It was really strange, something that I’ve never experienced before. At the top of the final climb I let out a few screams and roars as I tore the last shreds of muscle from my legs in a sprint. For dinner: delicious, delicious Indian food from Curry & Kebob, which was quite possibly the tastiest thing I’d eaten all year. Hunger makes the best sauce. Tragically, we got there four minutes before they opened.  Our stomaches couldn’t wait that long so we bought breadsticks from Little Cesar’s Pizza next door and greedily devoured them with marinara sauce in Michael’s car, temporarily forgetting about the locked doors of the Indian place. More frozen yogurt for dessert.

Monday morning hit me hard. I’d promised Michael a hike sometime that weekend, so we got up early and scrambled our way to the top of the Flatirons before I had to go to work and Michael began his voyage back to Iowa. Michael is afraid of heights, so I found a small cliff for us to clamber over, with me having to haul him up by the arm for the last pitch. It began snowing lightly on the way down.  The air was filled with thick clouds and chills that hadn’t been present the past week. We’d ended our training camp just in time, making it down on shaky legs into town and to the warmth of breakfast burritos at the Walnut Cafe.  Michael ordered a hot chocolate that was absolutely loaded with whipped cream, which was soon covering his face when our stunningly large-breasted waitress came back with our food.  Some of his absent mindedness must have wore off on me because I lost my debit card, a pair of gloves, and a hat that weekend. Pretty minor mishaps compared to what Michael managed to do on his drive home–mix up his piss jar with his drinking bottle.

Later that day I was so tired sitting at my desk that I was having difficulty holding my eyes open, despite being four cups of coffee deep. I’d written something on the back of my hand in pen earlier and while I was washing my hands in the bathroom I was careful to not let the water soak through my palm to the back of my hand and erase what I’d written.  Then I realized water usually isn’t able to pass through a hand like it can with a piece of paper. Body and mind are in shambles. Must have done something right.

Order Confirmation: sadness

I just bought a hoard of goodies. All of them are completely unnecessary for my survival, though entirely necessary to make me happy for at least the three minutes of excitement they give me before the novelty wears off and I go back online searching for more. Shipped from all across the country, built all across China, my self-given gifts arrived one by one at my doorstep in large brown cardboard boxes, waiting for me when I got home from working hard to make money to buy these things.  I’d take pictures of all my stuff and parade them proudly for all of you to see, but I don’t have a camera…yet.  In the mean time I’ll do a quick recap of what I got:

One front Mavic Open Pro wheel with an Ultegra hub. Super heavy duty 32 spoke for training.
One rear Mavic Open Pro wheel with a Garmin Pro Powertap.
One Garmin 800 GPS/bike computer
One Craft winter cycling jacket–bright neon yellow. Pro
One set of Craft long winter bibs with a chamois. Black
One set of Louie Garneau leg warmers because I’ve been using the same leg warmers since 2006
10 tubes
Two sets of cleats
One Whipperman Chain–Why? Only because Whipperman makes the best chains. They never brake extremely quickly or cause poor shifting. Ever.
Two rolls of rim tape
Two sets of brake cartridges
One pair of Louie Garneau shoe covers
One bottle of Simple Green bike degreaser/cleaner (this is a first)
One pair of Sennheiser headphones
One phone charger because I lost my other one

I assume some of you may think to yourself, “Yeah! Kennett needs all this stuff because most of his non team-issued gear looks like it was used to clean shark diarrhea.” (For some reason I imagine sharks having jagged diarrhea just like their teeth). Well, if you said that then thank you for agreeing with me. I DO deserve this! And more. Much, much more. I’m actually just getting my spending spree started. In order for the Garmin to work with my laptop, which is a 2007 MacBook, I had to upgrade to the new (for 2009) Leopard Mac OS X 10.6 operating system for $20. And to make the Leopard operating system work with my computer’s low memory I had to buy 2GB of RAM for an additional $50, plus tax. It’s a never-ending process of consuming for consumption’s sake. The more you have the more upkeep and accessories you need to buy in order to make your things work.  In the sporting world, the simplistic life of a runner must be very minimalisticly-satisfying…until you add in the thousands of dollars incurred by knee surgeries and other medical costs.

Driven by the all-powerful Profit, consumption is pushed on us through advertising, which draws on our instincts to compete with our peers and hoard when times are good, which is always. How does one go about combating this? How do we deny literally hundreds of years-worth of hunting and gathering as much food and resources as possible in order to survive the lean months of winter?  One very simple solution is to not have enough money to buy anything because no matter how frugal you are, if you have money you will spend it on useless junk. Even if you don’t have money you still end up consuming, albeit less, endless piles of plastic and 72-ounce insulated mugs of corn syrup from AMPM. In America, even the poor consume like frenzied porcupines at a quill shop. (If I could draw I’d make a comic of a bunch of porcupines at K-Mart during Black Friday fighting for small boxes with a big banner hanging from the ceiling saying, “75% OFF ALL 1800’s STYLE PENS.”)

Suicide might curb spending, but everyone I know who’s tried it hasn’t gotten back to me yet so I can’t be sure. Even when we’re dead we find ways to amass new stuff. Gotta have that Team Carbon SL casket with asymmetrical handles, which increases power-transfer for your pallbearers so you don’t get dropped–pun intended.

My grandfather died a few weeks ago and one of my longest-time friends and mentors is struggling with his fight against cancer. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about death lately and how sickening it is when you realize that you’ll never see or talk to that person again. Decades of existence vanish in a lost heartbeat. Legacies had been foreign to me.  Why would anyone care about what’s left behind when they’re dead? A dead person cares not. I’ve realized that a legacy is a crutch for the still-living, soon-to-be-dead. The emptiness of death is scary enough without the past being empty too.  Leaving something behind gives life a purpose. A legacy lets you enter death with a night light, even if it’s us that really need one when you’re gone.

During times of tragedy it’s strange how your brain switches from normal thought, like daydreaming about winning a stage of Redlands or wondering how you got this strange rash, to suddenly remembering the somberness of the deceased, a sick friend, the silenced screams of Darfur. As your mind drifts back to food you feel guilty for not thinking about your grandfather. At least I do. I’m upset by my own lack of compassion. The last time I shed a tear was 2007. How callous and uncaring have I become? Even in everyday life I often feel like an alien observing the abnormalities of humans for a book I’m planning on publishing back on my home planet. I drift through the grocery store without speaking.  I make eye contact once in a while and smile at the pretty girls, but otherwise I’m in my complete own world. We all do this. Why? Why don’t we talk to strangers? We’re all human after all.  And when we do talk to them why do we leap to meaningless small talk and fake, toothy smiles?  We treat each other like half beings,  mirrors, and we impatiently wait for our turn to talk. Instead, what if we all thought of each other as our closest family members and friends? I wouldn’t flip that driver off who buzzed me, instead I’d just smile and shake my head, knowing that they did it on purpose as a friendly joke. They’d slow down and open the window and we’d exchange a few smiling curse words and laugh. They’d speed up and I’d jump behind the car’s draft with them slowly ramping it up to 50 until I’d get dropped and wave goodbye. And still probably flip them off, but in a friendly way.  Just a complete stranger, somehow knowing exactly who I am and what I’m about.

Until then I’ll continue caring only about myself, and drift through a full world solo, buying momentary happiness to stave off the deaths of the few people I know. Wow I really need to start training again.

Well shiiiiit

In a few generations our way of life will have become a struggle known now to only those who inhabit the third world.  Our exploits over the past two centuries will be our demise as we suffocate on our own filth–the aftermath of easy living and no foresight.  As we enter the beginning of the 21st century, terrorism, the question of whether or not gay marriage is okay with God,  a bad economy, and taxes seem to be our primary areas of focus and worry.  The widening gap between rich and poor nations is a non issue–the rich and poor gap is only an issue for us when it’s between Americans being able to own one car or four cars.  The problems of the third world (civil wars, massive refugee camps, lack of drinking water and food, and rampant disease–many of it curable with cheap but unattainable drugs) are not discussed, because the guilt of knowing we’re responsible for it would be too much for the average person to cope with or even understand.  The principles of cause and effect are lost on the average idiot.  The dirt-poor billions that inhabit the slums of the third world and the day-time TV charity commercials of the first, are the victims of a greedy, unchecked and insatiable appetite of capitalism–a system in which the word excess does not apply, and progress means psychotic rates of consumption at whatever cost to the rest of the world, including the environment, which, in a way, will be able to fight back unlike the poor.

We can no longer use the term natural disaster.  There’s very little nature left on the earth; the impacts of climate change have already begun and the fallout won’t be going away any time soon, no matter what we do.  We’ll be alive to see most of it happen, an our kids will be alive by the end of the century when things will be even worse.  Over their lives they’ll see the sea level rise between 1 and 2+ meters, which begs the question: how many times will we rebuild doomed cities?  Probably not many times once $100 billion storms roll through every year.  With warming ocean temperatures and stronger hurricanes reaching farther north, storms like Sandy will become normal, not “storms of the century,” like Sandy has already been dubbed.  Combine these hurricanes with a sea-level-rise of just one meter and huge areas on the East Coast will be drowned in Nature’s uninhabitable payback.  Much of New York City is only a few feet above sea level as it is now.

Sea level rise will displace hundreds of millions of people, causing refuge numbers the likes of which have never been seen.  With world population spiking out of control-especially in the poorest places–the least fortunate humans will be left to die of disease, famine, war, and lack of drinking water in numbers much larger than today.  We’ll be busy with our own problems, as we are now too.  The first world has already begun its decline into the third, and the third will reach a new level of misery.

Acidification of the oceans due to increased CO2 will destroy what’s left of the coral reefs within 50 years.  Mass extinctions will ensue. The oceans will become a graveyard once and for all.

Drought, flooding, and a surge of pests and invasive species will throttle not only nature, but agriculture, causing more starvation. A lack of oil to produce the fertilizer needed to grow crops will further this starvation.  Disputes over the lack of natural resources, food,  and the decreasing availability of habitable land will cause world and civil war without any discernible sides.  This is, of course, already going on in the third world. It will soon be our turn.

One American uses the electric energy resources of 390 Ethiopians.  With our lavish lifestyles, each of us single-handily produces as much CO2 as 170 Nigerians or 170 Nepalese.  We may be the worst, but no developed nation can shy away from this guilt.  Not only have we enslaved the third world into cheaply producing our goods and stealing their resources with force, but we’ve also destroyed our way of life as well by plundering the world in which we live.

I feel guilty.  But not that guilty.  Not guilty enough to do anything that will really matter.   I do little things, like refusing to use plastic produce bags at the grocery store.  I pile all my loose apples, tomatoes, and kale on the conveyor belt as the people behind me furl their brows with impatience.  Not using plastic bags is a tiny, insignificant thing especially when compared to the thousands of miles I travel every year by jet, releasing thousands of pounds of CO2 high up in the atmosphere.  My moral compass points to the most convenient north.

Even if you don’t own a car, don’t eat meat, live in a tiny apartment, leave the heat and air conditioning off, compost, recycle, vote Green Party, and donate money to charities, your way of life is still completely unsustainable, destructive, greedy, and overly-contributive to greenhouse gases when compared to the world average. There aren’t enough resources for seven billion people to live like even the poorest Americans, and yet we’re a nation that prides itself on equality, which would be quite laughable except for the fact that this is all extremely depressing.