Le Tour

I genuinely don’t think it would be possible for me to have less interest in the Tour than I do this year. I don’t really know why. I tried to force it the other day by reading some tech articles on Cycling News, which usually gets me going, but nope. Just meh.

I’m not hugely familiar with Jonas Vengegaard, but woohoo for Jumbo-Visma I guess. I think they won the Points, GC (Wout Van Aert) and Mountain Jerseys (Vingegaard won both GC and Mountain), so that’s impressive, but really, I just can’t find any passion in it this year.

Like a lot of folks, I’m totally, 100% tired of hearing about doping in racing. I’m generally convinced that whoever wins will be stripped at some point once they test positive for whatever new cocktail is running through the peloton. I have no answers, but its a constant thing, and it just adds to the bike racing fatigue. Headlines like this… “We’re clean, you’ll just have to trust us” make me wish there was a more vigorous eye-roll emoji. That’s not the only thing for sure though, it’s just a malaise with bike racing in general right now. I guess I hope it passes?

Sitting in 102-degree weather in Texas

But very much mentally in the mountains, in Colorado. Almost exactly one year ago today, I was exploring mountain passes with two of my very, super cool kids. We took the road less traveled, which thankfully they are almost always down for, and ended up at the top of a pass when a little but intense storm blew through. In a flash, the weather went from 50 ish degrees and sunny to 29 (per the thermometer on the car) and raining, rapidly becoming sleet, then snow. In July.

We weren’t dressed for such weather, but as I said, the heavy part was brief and blew through quickly, leaving us free to wander in the almost freezing tundra at 12,000 feet a few kilometers from a public park. We took full advantage, found a lovely alpine lake, and just took it all in for a few hours.

Our little escape to the alpine at 12,000 feet.
Amei and Grace were very much blown away that such places existed just off the regular roads.

We explored and wandered for a while. The kids were totally in love with the place and blown away that they could find something like it just a few hundred meters from a regular road frequented by folks going to work or grocery shopping. I think I managed to set the hook for a move once Grace graduates.

Once the cold set in fully, we took to the road, enjoying the switchbacks and one “oh my lord” view after another as we came down the backside of the pass and into Keystone, where we picked up coffee, and warmed ourselves at the lower altitude. It was their first exposure to how the mountains can present two entirely different personalities just a few miles and a few thousand feet in elevation apart.

Had some Landcruiser problems

I also had some problems sorting out the navigation here. I think I’ve got this handled now.

When you click on the link tree on my IG it should bring you directly here, which is the Landcruiser category of my blog. Most of y’all who get here that way probably aren’t interested in my bicycles, how far I ride them, and other such.

Now that I’ve got the navigation sorted, I will get cracking on the write ups of what’s happened with the cruiser, how I resolved it or what I modded, and then cross post them to my build threads on ‘MUD and expeditionportal.com for posterity, as I don’t expect this site to do too much traffic.

The cruiser has been a handful over the last 18 months, and I’m eyeball deep in resolving some other problems, (primarily of my own making at this point) with it now. I’d love to say we’ll be back up and running soon but I’ll be honest, I’m getting tired of having my expectations dashed. It’s life with a 27 year old daily driver, but man it’s wearing thin. I’m a hairs breath from relegating her to special use and buying a simple, fuel efficient DD. Which, if I’m being honest is really what I should do.

The pandemic hasn’t done me any favors, supply side wise especially, though if it weren’t so hard to get things, (new cars included) I would have probably already bought a new DD and parked the cruiser, so six one way, half dozen the other I guess.

Anyway, more to follow soon, if you’ve read this far thanks! And I hope you enjoy.

The Beast of Provence -Ventoux

I love when the Tour hits Mont Ventoux. As long as I can remember it’s just such an iconic stage. I can remember seeing photos of Eddie powering up it when I was a kid, as well as Lance, and Froome and Contador.

Van Aert on Ventoux. (Image: Reuters)

chapeau to Wout van Aert for his victory today.

It’s just a surreal place to ride a bike, and it’s been decisive so many times. It’s a bucket list ride for me, even if I only survive it.

Mount Ventoux. Like a moonscape.

Thoughts on training…

I am in need of a reset as to my training methodology. A reset taking into count my kind of new reality. The ‘ol leg is telling me we may never be the same again. I do believe that while it may not be the same, it will be as good or better in a different way. The problem statement here, which is pretty obvious I suppose is simply put, “how do we get there?”.

The answer isnt so obvious, at least not to me. I spend a good bit of time researching and staying abreast of training information online, and with friends in the same or similar boats. Getting professional information has been more challenging in the new COVID-19 world reality.

I went to the PCM last week with complaints about my hip, a new type of pain, more of a burning than a sharper pain as I’d become accustomed to it. The response was to send me for an X-ray (which in their defense is the approved first step per my insurance), though this seems to be in direct contraindication to the description I’ve given. Meh, in the end, its a road right. The PA who did my write up asked if she could touch my hip before I left, and she immediately stated “it’s hot”. I said that while I appreciated it, I thought we should keep things professional (😂) which thankfully she found amusing. That being said, she was right, it was hot to the touch, a good 4 or 5 degrees warmer than the tissue around it. So she did some quick tests and decided that I have a sub dermal infection of sorts, in the soft tissue. Not uncommon in post surgical areas, however it has been quite a while since the last cut. The gist was that removal of tissue creates voids internally that invite infection. Thus, I got the broad spectrum anti biotics that destroy your stomach, and I’m feeling in general like someone is laying on me all the time.

I hope to shed the wet blanket feeling in the next few days and get back on the horse with both feet in the stirrups to follow my analogy further down the road. Today is a ride day, with no real goal other than at least 45 minutes of time spent spinning the pedals. I am likely producing a normalized power of like 150 over these rides which hurts me to say, but it’s the reality. So the loose plan I’m following right now is M-W-F Run/Walk, T-Th-Sa Ride. The weekday rides are 45m and 60m respectively with 90m on Saturday. Monday is a run day, roughly 40 minutes overland, Wednesday is a ruck day, and Friday is an hour of running/walking mix. I’ve been riding the cross bike single-track style during the week to build strength and re-true my bike handling skills, with a nice longer pure road ride on Saturday.

This plan hasn’t changed in a bit, but there have been a bunch of setbacks that I’d like to think I might be passed at this point. I’ve kind of accepted the new slow me, and while I dont like it, I can deal with it. I’m treating it in a sense like I’m a rank beginner. A rank beginner with some pretty nice bikes 😂. By going this way I keep my expectations in check, and in a reasonable zone, but I can also flex to accept improvements.

Time will tell I guess.

Looking for a reason to write this morning…

Lately, I think we’ve all been a little anxious, to use a heavily overused word, in my life anyway. Everyone is worried about the world situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis in our country with regards to race relations, politics, and our collective future. How will things ever get better?

Well, that comes down to why you think we’re here, I believe. Some believe we have a “greater purpose” and that we are put on earth for a reason. While this is a belief I don’t share, I respect those who do, and those very same people have accomplished some great things. Of course, Hitler believed that too…

There are people who think life has no purpose whatsoever. We are just collections of biological goo, going around on this earth waiting for whatever other collection of goo or some cosmic cataclysm to do us in and end our turn. I also don’t share this opinion, but I say that with a few caveats.

I personally agree that we are mostly just a collection of biological goo. Still, I think that the consciousness that we see as ourselves sets us up to create a meaning for our lives that, even if no one else around us sees it, or cares about it, does indeed define our existence. If you listen to the voices available today, the mainstream of them would have you believe that only external approval counts and that true happiness comes from acceptance and praise from our peers. Indeed, we have evolved to enjoy that experience, probably something to do with being a successful contributor to the continued existence of the tribe or whatever. I would counter that this is shallow satisfaction and that the very seeking of it leads to unhappiness. Very Buddhist of me, I know. There are, of course, environments where external approval matters to some extent, the workplace and education environments come to mind. Again though, it is that same need to feel that we are contributing to the tribe’s success. The company we work for is simply an extension of the tribe. When we were all hunter-gatherers, work, and life tribes were one and the same. Today, of course, they are typically separated, at least to some extent. As athletes, we are members of another tribe, desperately seeking approval through race results, or hanging on to the tail end of the blazing group ride Sunday morning. Usually, that release of endorphins makes us feel good enough to come back and suffer through that experience again the next race weekend, or the next blazing group ride on Sunday morning.

In that sentence, I used the word that defines the whole thing, “endorphins.” Most of what we do is driven by hormones. Endorphins are a generic name for peptide and neuropeptide hormones released by the pituitary gland. They are generally thought to be linked to our natural reward circuits, in a nutshell, to make us feel good when we do something good for the body. Eating, drinking, sex, exercise, are all triggers for the release of endorphins. I’m not a doctor or a researcher, I just like to read, and I want to understand the world and myself as much as I can. I know that a lot of our behavior is driven by the desire to feel the release of endorphins and that many of the things that cause that release are physical in nature. Once we understand that our behavior is driven by this release and that our “conscious thinking” is really just a search for things that will make us feel good, it’s a lot easier to understand why we do what we do.

Yuval Harari makes a pretty solid argument in his book “Homo Deus” that this is the ONLY thing that drives us, that this explains what we see as our “consciousness” and that there is nothing more to it. I’ve read that book twice now, and I have decided (or my collections of hormones has if he is correct) that I don’t accept this as all we are.

I’m not going to go into a long rant about my beliefs on consciousness, or what I think it even is, but I’ve read and studied numerous sources on it, and I think we have a say in our actions that is driven by something more than just hormones. So that being said, I still understand how strong that desire for satisfaction is. I am also driven by the desire to trigger my brain’s reward center, and I like the way it feels. We spend so much of our lives searching for that feeling without understanding what causes it. We are constantly bombarded by messages that if we buy this thing, or look at the things others have bought, we will find true happiness, even if it’s only till the next version of the thing is released and brings even more pleasure. Sounds pretty shallow, I think.

I’ve made a few changes in my life in the last ten years, and while I haven’t been 100% successful, I’ve gone a very long way toward finding satisfaction internally, without the praise or approval of others. I am happy or less happy with my own performance based on my own critique, rather than others’ opinion or determination. I’m not saying I don’t still share, I absolutely do, I have Instagram, I have an active Strava account and the like, but I don’t dwell on any of the feedback I receive unless it is decidedly constructive in nature. In a way, one could argue that it is an extension of the philosophy of cutting the negative out of my life, and maybe that’s somewhat true. I haven’t even begun to talk about the impact of stress hormones on happiness or performance. I’ll save that for another day. I still have a long way to find this blissful nirvana I describe, but its a goal to work toward, and I have found myself to be so much happier than ever before once I accepted it as the way I travel.

Weather and maladies

I’m fighting a headache AGAIN today.

Allergies I’m sure, and it’s something I’m really getting tired of. When I travel and I find relief simply by stepping off an airplane in a place that doesn’t have our types of pollen and mold I’m reminded of a question I’ve asked myself many times recently, “why the hell do I still live in Texas?”. The answers are there of course, family ties, school longevity for the kids, personal relationships, not to mention my employer, but the environment here doesn’t make it easy.

The weather forecast has us at 102 to 105, depending which forecast you believe today, though it’s only 93 as I write this around 1:45, so maybe it won’t soar quite so high. Knock on wood. That’s legit hot, by anyone’s standards, the kind of heat that kills people. I’ve recently begun to think of Texas summers the way my friends in the Dakotas think of winter. We just do things inside during this part of the year. At a minimum I am treating my days off south of the border style where I’m up early, productive til around 2 or 3, then siesta til 5 or 6 when the temp comes back down a bit. It’s a good time to get reading or writing done, maybe a few projects inside that need tied up.

They say this wave will last around 4 days and drop back down to the upper 90s next week, and if that’s true it will feel like fall here. Yesterday while Jackson and I were working on bikes we both got a little behind the hydration and core temp,curves, despite having a shade awning up, and a strong fan blowing misted air at us. We kept our ice water at our sides and refilled often, and we didn’t do more than 40 minutes outside at a time without 15 or 20 inside to cool off, but he still ended up dehydrated last night, crashing early, and I was clearly feeling the impact as well.