Tomorrow is my last day of work…forever

SmartEtailing has been good to me. Very good. They gave me the flexibility to train extra long during lunch hours, the ability to race a full schedule of the best events I could find last year, and the pay to get me there. Financing a full year of travel races and high end bike equipment was not cheap, and having a full time job was the only way to make it happen. Plus, I was offered amazing deals with QBP (the parent of SmartEtailing), the job allowed me to sit with my legs up, and I got to write about bikes, wheels, and power meters–not too shabby of a deal if you ask me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. The job forced me to rest, to train inteliggently (still up for debate), and it re-invigorated my desire to make it onto a pro team. Part of the job included writing about pro races, which was fun but made me super jealous of all the lucky guys who were out there racing California and US Pro Challenge instead of sitting in an office watching it unfold on a screen. I wanted that, what they had, now more than ever. For once, I focused my strength at crushing every race I attended instead of shitting it all away on training rides. Last year, thanks to working in the office, my passion was for the races, not intervals. (Okay so maybe it was 50/50).

Lastly, my coworkers were awesome and a pleasure to work with. They became some of my best friends. All in all, I have nothing but gratitude and good memories from working at SmartEtailing and I thank Liam, Stephen D, Steven H, Brittany, Will, Russell, Shaine, Alex, Jim, Tim, Jeff, Sam, Matt (did I work with him?), and even Dan. Yes, even that bastard Dan.

Last year wouldn’t have been possible without such a sweet setup like SmartEtailing, that’s for sure. It was perfect for me. But ditching the “9-5” desk job for Europe to go ride my bike and crush fools for a living? It sort of feels like:

Fuck yeah I’m so ready for this! I’ll once again be a full-time bike racer…AKA bored out of my mind, killing time in between rides with Facebook and Hulu for 13 hours a day. No but seriously, it’s time to focus on training and racing again. I know the down time, the extra sleep, the diminished stress, and the unlimited training hours will turn me into a monster. Either that or I’ll overdo it like I always used to and be tired and flat come race day. I guess we’ll find out if I learned my lesson in a couple months.

In response to 303’s little rehashed rant about unsafe group riding

I wrote this in a fast, angry tirade so as to get it off my mind and be able to sleep in peace tonight. It’s one big block of jumbled thoughts and I get off subject many times throughout. Sorry for that. Here’s what it’s in response to:

http://303cycling.com/practicing-Conscious-Cycling

Basically the author blames cyclists for unsafe riding on the Gateway ride (a big group ride that has between 20 and 120 people on it from January through March). The author is calling for us to change our ways in order to appease the impatient drivers we’re holding up. Who knew there’d be so many deathly important, pressing issues for these drivers to take care of on a Saturday morning way out in the country? I say deathly important because not once, not twice, but three times last Saturday I and other cyclists were cut off or passed closely enough for me to feel that my life was threatened. I didn’t complain though. Fuck it. I know what I’m up against when I head out the door. But I have chosen to complain now, when another cyclist mind you is deciding to blame US for causing the problem. So long solidarity. But I guess he’s right. I do exist, therefor I am the problem–at least in they minds of a very select few drivers.

Read 303’s article for yourself and get their whole take on the matter if you so desire. Here’s my poorly written but still somewhat rational response. Time for me to got to bed. I’m sure I’ll regret this in the morning. Whatever…

Remember all those times cyclists were killed or permanently injured on the Front Range this past year due to unsafe group rides and slowly rolling through stop signs? Yeah me neither! In every incident it has been inattentive or purposefully homicidal drivers who end up avoiding even a slap on the wrist for taking someone’s life. Taking someone’s life. As for the unsafe riding on the Gateway group ride, I’ve been on two of the three editions this year, riding both at the front and the back, and haven’t witnessed anything out of control at all other than a few newbies not holding their line perfectly. On highway 36 we’re double file to the right of the white line the entire way, tight and orderly like good little orderlies. We still get buzzed and honked at of course, despite ample room for cars to pass safely. On the smaller country roads up north we’re single or double file for most of the ride, only taking the full lane a handful of times when things temporarily slow and bunch up. That’s the nature of large group rides. Would the local residents or whomever it is complaining about us rather there be 100 extra cars on the road to deal with? How about 100 slow-moving tractors? Passing a big group of cyclists can take up to a minute of their time. Yes a whole minute! But they need to deal with it in a SANE manor. I wrote SANE in cap locks to bring attention to the word and the lack of it being applied, because the actions of some of these impatient drivers is literally insane to me. They’d risk killing multiple human beings because they’re angry at us for making them slow down for 30 seconds? Maybe I’ll start doing the same thing at grocery stores when there’s a slow, elderly lady blocking the aisle when I’m in a hurry to get to the bulk section. I would love for there to be a cop car following the Gateway ride in order to ticket and arrest unsafe, INSANE drivers for once, instead of a cop car following along for the sole purpose of harassment. Police harassment has happened to me on group rides around the country, including the Gateway, Shootout, the Santa Barbra Worlds, and even smaller rides back in Oregon. The worst incidence occurred on the Shootout down in Tucson when a cop came around our group at 80+ mph and slammed his brakes on in front of us, attempting to make us crash. It was incredibly close and to this day I’m not sure how we all managed to swerve out of the way. Not long after this happened, another cop ran headfirst into the Shootout and mowed down 20+ human beings. Tucson’s finest. Sorry I’m getting side tracked. Back on the subject of hand: the very few drivers who complain about the Gateway ride are impatient, most likely miserable, bike-hating people who are going to complain about us no matter what we do. They don’t hate us because we’re rolling through a stop sign. They hate us because of who we are and what we’re doing, which is just a reminder to them of who they AREN’T and what they AREN’T doing, which is enjoying life and being happy. Don’t forget that and go blaming yourself when you get run over by one of these psychos. It’s like an abused woman saying, “I deserved it. I burnt dinner.” There’s a small minority of unsafe cyclists, just like there’s a small minority of unsafe drivers. While the unsafe drivers stick out in my mind, the unsafe cyclists may stick out in the minds of most drivers. Here’s the difference: I don’t purposefully threaten the lives of other cars (if a car had a life) when I pass them (if I passed them) on my bike in order to get even with that one driver I saw two Sundays ago who rolled through a stop sign. Like every cyclist, my number one priority while riding is to not get killed. Is that too much to ask?

Bone shaker cough

I lowered myself into bed Sunday night with a deep, deep wheeze, followed by a bone-rattling cough that shot spikes of pain straight to the upper left half of my brain. Only the left half for some reason. I’m not sure why but every time the pain came it was only in the upper left half, never the right. But mainly I was focused on the lack of oxygen.

My lungs were ruined. They were completely demolished from two days of hard riding with a cough that just has not let up over the past week. I thought I’d ride the sickness out this weekend. Yeah, like that has ever happened in the history of ever. Last night I woke a dozen times throughout to cough and wheeze and desperately suck in what little oxygen I could. A few times I woke up solely from lack of breath. My lungs were so full of mucus and so closed off I was actually having difficulty breathing. Laying on my side seemed to give me more air than my back, but I’d inevitably roll onto my back once I fell asleep, which would slowly close-off my air intake, causing me to wake up and repeat the process.

The bronchial constriction finally let up this morning in the shower. Despite doubling up on store-brand Mucinex the evening before (and for the past 10 days for that matter), nothing would come out last night. But after the night of sleep things finally loosened up. In the shower I heaved up thick, brown, chunky mouthfuls of mucus and spat them out between my feet. With each chest vomit I could feel my airways clearing, bringing in more precious oxygen. I took a few deep inhales after I’d puked out as much as I could and it felt like an elephant had finally decided to step off my chest. I could breath once again.

Two days before, Saturday morning:

The Gateway ride was the first group ride I’d done in months, and the first race-type effort of the season. There’s a difference between doing structured V02 intervals and having to respond to accelerations from other riders. I think you can cause yourself more pain with V02 just because you know that you can stop and fall off your bike when they’re over. But there’s another type of pain that group riding or racing can bring out.

It felt good to hurt, despite my legs and lungs feeling like shit. I managed to inflict a bit of damage on everyone on the ride, then went off to ride a few more hours by myself, which ended up just being one more hour when I realized I was ready for a long session of staring at the wall back at home. The fatigue really set in once I stepped through the front door and sat on the couch to take my shoes off. It hit me like a wave. I felt terrible. Legs were a mess, my lungs went into hibernation, my head filled with pressure, and I became super sleepy. And hungry too but that’s a given.

There was little time for being tired though, because I had a date with Adelaide, Liam, Whitney, Steven, and Haley at the Gateway Fun Park, which was the second time half of us had been there that day. This time for actual regular people fun things like go karts, mini golf, and arcade games.

Sunday morning came around fairly quickly and I set off for a big ride, intent on making the most of the unusually warm January weather with a climb up to Peak to Peak and repeats on some of the higher elevation climbs. You know, to help my lungs clear out with some extra-thin, cool mountain air.

I started out with a nice warm up riding with Adelaide to show her the secret Linden neighborhood passageway that brings you out to Sunshine, which involves plenty of 15% ramps. She’s getting strong enough for me to ride at a medium pace, which is pretty amazing given her very recent introduction to bike riding.

After that I continued up Sunshine to Peak to Peak by myself, next down Boulder Canyon, up Magnolia, down Magnolia, at which point I realized I was working with half my normal lung capacity, climbed Sugarloaf, descended Sugarloaf, got water and soda down in Boulder, then did Superflag twice, descended two minutes to to the steep wall section to climb again just so I’d ensure my elevation gain was over 14,000 feet for the day. This all resulted in a liter of phlegm clogging our shower drain the following morning. Totally worth it. With a couple days of rest I know this cough will finally go away. If not, well…it’s not like I’m going to sit inside when it’s sunny out.

Consistency

Pooping, blogging, training…they all require it. You need consistent stress on your bike cycling-system in order to see large-scale gains. But you also need consistent rest periods too. Duh. This is why I took a big ‘ol, fat ‘ol rest week last week so that I could rebuild my war-torn body, only to tear it down once again this week. I’m no dumby; if you miss a rest week, I know  you’re bound to pay for it later, most likely with getting the sickness. I hate getting sick. I mean I really hate it, way more than ANY of you could possibly imagine. You think you hate getting sick? Ha. I laugh at that. I scoff, even. Compared to me, you LOVE getting sick. That’s how much I hate it. I live my life in fear of it. I literally have nightmares about getting a sore throat, wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with a pounding heart, only to breath a very relieved sigh of relief when I realize it was just a dream. Then I drift back to my normal peaceful sleep and dream about cutting people.

This is why I decided to rest, because I’m a true-to-virus, cold-fearing red-blooded American.

It makes sense then that I got sick anyways, right after my rest week was over. Anyways, I won’t let it get me down. Actually I will. I’m in a serious state of depression already and it’s only been two days. But I won’t admit it to myself and I’ll keep a good face about it, for I vow to be healthy enough to crush my first race of the year this Saturday: the Gateway Group Ride! And listen up Boulder Cyclists–it better have more than 15 people because it’s going to be sunny, it’s going to be nice, and we’re all going to have a nice time cold-damnit!

In the mean time, here’s something cool that I did recently that doesn’t involve bikes: I went XC skiing. Now I don’t pretend to know what the X and the C stand for, though I do have my theories (Xylophone Custard), but I can tell you this much: XC skiing is indeed fun and it’s much easier than skate skiing. Adelaide, Adrian, and I rented skis on Sunday and spent the day exploring the trails across the street. We live at the very tip of North Boulder (NoBo, as us locals call it), which means that we have miles and miles of Open Space trails right across from us not 50 meters away. It’s a good place to live.

photo 2

I called Steven that evening and told him I was planning on skiing in to work in the morning, which is something we’d been planning/dreaming of doing all winter long for like two weeks at that point. He arrived the next morning at 6:50AM. It was still dark, 2 degrees outside, and my mind was still in bed. I fixed up some home-brewed mochas for instant motivation and we were out the door as the sun rose.

2014-01-06 07.34.38

This is such an awesome picture I think I’ll use it as my new blog banner.

The commute involved a few snow-covered dirt roads, like the one above, and a bit of walking for the last mile when we got into civilization and the bustling city of Gunbarrell where the office is, but for the most part we were tucked into the rolling hills, enjoying silent singletrack all to ourselves.

2014-01-06 07.32.49

It was 7 miles out and 7 back, which took a little over an hour and a half (moving time) each way. We both brought our Garmins because Strava or it didn’t happen.

We got back home to my apartment in the dark at 6 and ended the day as it started, with hot chocolates. It was a top endeavor with a fine fit and feel, something I look forward to doing the next time it snows one or more feets, which will probably be perfectly synched with when I get over this cold and want to start training hard again. Stupid weather. Stupid cold viruses. Stupid everything.