We make holes in teeth!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


A quick update on a few things:

1. This morning Nat tells me it's just about cleared up so at this point we're pretty damn sure it was a clog. It remains to be seen if the doctor wants her to come in still. Thanks to all you guys who commented both on and offline offering the kind words. Much appreciated.

2. Shoulder is sore but coming along. As long as I don't let Jake, Steve, or Walter run me over this weekend I should be good to go for the 24.

3. Stole a spoke from the SS and put it in last night. Started to clean the wheel so I can put it in the truing stand and inspect the tensioning a bit. Also ordered some spokes for next time.

4. Early lean is to start the race with Heed/Accelerade mix and go from there. I may try the Infinit Nutrition stuff this weekend to see how that sits as well.

5. Training is done at work. What a difficult class that was. Pure pain for 2.5 days.

With those items out of the way I can return to my regularly scheduled program obsessing about pointless minutia.

I'm starting to think I've cooked myself. I'm not sure how that's possible because my volume over the past 4 weeks isn't anything special. But I'm finding it harder and harder to get a leg over the top tube on a daily basis. It could be that I've just lost steam. Ever since the summer dug in I dropped to 4 days and lost all sense of structure to my training. An alternate thought is that I've lost power, and with this comes a loss of desire to really get out there when I'm not able to go as fast as I've been able to previously.

I may just be in a realm I'm not used to. I'm on 10 months straight at a level I've never come close to maintaining. Or it could be that I'm eating less because I want to control my weight. Or maybe the lack of sleep because Julia is sleeping like crap. Or maybe I'm just having a lousy couple of weeks. Or I don't like riding in the dark every morning. Or all of it combined. I don't know. What I do know is that my ride Tuesday was a 15.4 average on a loop that I did at 17 about 8 weeks ago. Now I added 2 big hills to the start of this but I think my intensity is just off right now. Maybe my power is OK but I find it hard to really lay it out there these days.

Either way it is what it is. In 10 days I will either cash in on a well-laid plan or feel the effects of having lost structure and focus. Right now I'm not terribly worried because it's a long, long race. So I'm not going to miss a little lost top end all that much. Perhaps it's a good thing because it stresses the fact I need to start slow and keep it there. Either way I look forward to the race and the final stretch of the season and, quite frankly, the offseason.

I found an online speed/power calculator which will give me a metric by which I can compare rides. To start, this will be inherently flawed because the altitude numbers I'm using are from the GPS which we know is inaccurate. Inaccuracy in itself isn't a bad thing but it's not consistently inaccurate. Having said that it will give a series of numbers which will probably show a general trend. The real issue is if I have enough comparable data to make it meaningful. I suspect when I start plugging numbers in there will be a peak followed by a gradual decrease. I really do need to get a power meter. It will make this nickel and dime analysis unnecessary. It will also indicate I've gone out of my flipping gourd.

So the site is here. It takes all sorts of variables which I suppose I should do my best to fill out. For my purposes I can only compare my early morning rides because mountain bike rides don't result in a meaningful number and longer rides are going to be at a different intensity. So the only things that change are rider weight, slope, temp, and speed. I'm not going to bother with wind or cadence because that's just too difficult. Besides, cadence is meaningless in average power calculations and it's rarely windy at 5:00 am. The bike weight can be a reasonable guess.

So for Tuesday's ride I get a power of 229 watts, which is an average, and probably a wildly inaccurate average at that. But again, it's a metric to look at. My best TT number comes out at 316. After throwing some numbers together last night I'm not positive I've cooked myself. If I really want to be accurate I will go back through and compile numbers with temps and my daily weight into the equation.

I decided to try the TT loop this morning so I had a nice big bowl of spaghetti last night and snacked on some oatmeal later. I woke up and had a double serving of Carnation Instant Breakfast and instead of water I ran the Heed/Accelerade mix on the bike. As a side note, after 2 rides with that mix it seems to translate better than either product straight up. It's a bit strong tasting though so it may be too much next weekend.

So fully charged I set out on the TT run and posted the following:

Here is the previous attempt:

It's not the same course exactly. But I've dropped .5 from last time to this time. If I fine tune it and enter the appropriate temperature and rider weight I get the following:

Last run: 316 watts
This run: 302 watts

So that represents a 4.4% decrease in power. Now there are 2 things to note about that. First is that I rode for 30 minutes in the dark today which has to have some effect on the result. Second, because of the dark, I couldn't race myself on the GPS which probably takes a little edge off the intensity. Given those 2 things I'm not really sure I'm as toasted as I think. In addition, I've changed the focus of my training a bit to include more hills so I'm not used to running at or near threshold for those long periods without a break. A final point is that since I don't warm up those numbers include random warm up speeds. I probably should warm up outside the realm of "recorded" data to get more of an apples to apples comparison.

At some point I'll put more numbers together to paint a picture of...well something. What that something is remains to be seen. I suppose it's just something to chew on.

Regardless of being cooked or not I took a look at my last 7 years of biking logs and came to the conclusion that my volume increase this year is astounding. In the last 12 months I've put in at least 300 hours, roughly 240 of them this year. I forget the numbers but most years I would do 100 or 110 hours. I can only guess what this year will add up to when all is said and done. So even if I'm not toast I need to watch myself as I get deeper into it.

Whew, that feels better. All this worrying about "real" stuff eats it. I'm glad life has returned to normal and I can go on wasting my time obsessing about a half of a half a percent increase in power based on a calculation that can't be any more accurate that +/-20%.


"Speaking of bridge falls, Dr. Joe had a bridge fall about this time last year that was so bad he was helicoptered out, which earned him a photo in the newspaper. He was actually paralyzed briefly, but this turned out to be a defense mechanism (to keep him from moving and damaging himself further). He's ok now but he was in some serious pain for a month or so."

For the curious reader, Dr. Joe married both Nat/myself and then Terren/Cheryl later the same year. Too bad about the fall, but good to hear he's OK now.


"Hey Norm, sounds like you had a bit of rough tumble there. Hope you are feeling better man."

Feeling good man. Just gonna go wash the car. Need to wash the car. Errrrradicator!


"Norm, I hope all works out with Natalie's condition. I'm sure it is just a clog and that all will be ok. Laura and I will keep her in our thoughts. Are you putting heat compresses on the shoulder at night? A couple of advil never hurt either. Slow rotation and easy stretching, and heat are good pt. Stay with the Accelerade and Heed mix, don't try something 'new' this close to the 24 hour race. Also on the food issue, eat whatever you want - sounds good, as long as you know the food you will be eating all agrees with you!"

Yes Advil is my friend. For the third August in a row I have a toothache from a summer of drinking sugar drinks for hours on end on the bike. This year it popped up the same day my shoulder almost popped out. It's not awful but Advil helps me when I'm hurting all over I took some the morning in fact!

Thanks for the well wishes. All food agrees with me if taken in the right setting. If I need to take a load off while I eat a 900 calorie burrito well that's fine, the race will still be going after I eat and puke it out.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007


A day later and my wife thinks it's a clog, but still not sure. While she doesn't have the chills and a fever anymore, the clog hasn't cleared up either. But she does feel better overall and no longer has any flu-like symptoms which is a good thing. Hopefully it breaks up on its own in the next day and that's that. Not sure if the doctor will still want an ultrasound after that. It's growing fast which basically means it's a clog of some sort. Bad things usually go slow and silent.


"Norm, Sending you and Nat nothing but positive vibes."


"norm: on top of the recent health stuff, my wife went through something similar a couple of months ago. i know it's real scary, and we'll be sending our fair share of positive energy your way."

Thanks guys, it's much appreciated. While I'm sure it's nothing serious it's always nice to know that's the case. The reailty is that 99% of these feminine breast issues are harmless. But it's the 1% that scares us all stiff. We really thought nothing of it until the doctor said the word ultrasound.

After a stiff beginning my shoulder seemed to loosen up as the day went on yesterday. So I think everything is going to be fine on that front, if not a little sore. The peak of pain usually happens 24 hours after the incident and that wasn't the case which is why I started to wonder. But through the day yesterday it started to feel better. I'm still iffy on how it will feel this weekend so I'm looking to join the more casual paced ride on Sunday. I can comb my hair with my left arm again which is good.

I pulled the disc off the wheel this morning and the weight breaks down like this:

Base wheel: 2.5 pounds
Cassette: .5 pounds
Disc: .25 pounds
Tire: 1.25 pounds
Tube: .25 pounds

Ok that's not right because that comes up half a pound short. The full assembly is 5.25, not 5.5 as I said yesterday. The base wheel is 2.5 and the disc is .25. And I'm pretty sure the tire/tube comes in at 1.5. That leaves the cassette which I know isn't 1.25 pounds. This math stuff sucks.

The big ticket item there is the base wheel which I can get down to about 800 grams which is 1.75 pounds. Figure in reality that's 10 ounces because math sucks. Still that's a lot. The tire is about as low as it can go now. As it is I get flats overnight after every ride.

So in theory the lowest reasonable weight I can get that rear wheel is 4 pounds and change. Not sure what the tubeless alternative comes out to in weight.

So the spoke is out and I need to pick up a 256 mm and maybe a few other spoke sizes. I need to visit the bike shop near work. I'm not expecting much since I'm in Brooklyn. I won't hold my breath.

I also have the Trek 8000 frame totally apart except for the old headset. I need to get that out then start documenting the build in words, pictures, and weights.

I'm going to rapid fire summarize the rest of "stuff" going on. Nothing new on the tent. I got my InfinIT Nutrition shipment. Now the question is, do I try it this weekend or go with the Accelerade and Heed mix to verify that it did work last weekend? This will probably be a topic of discussion Thursday. No bike parts arrived yesterday. No riding today because I'm staggering my days this and next week. And thankfully training is only a half day today so work should return to some semblance of normality this afternoon.

So that's that except for one late comment on yesterday's post.


"norm, I feel your pain. we had a bomb dropped on our house this afternoon that isn't going to fix itself anytime soon and I have no idea what (or whom) the next week of my life will bring. i'll toss a coin in the good karma bank for you if you'll do the same for me"

Will do my friend. As I said yesterday things usually work out in the end so keep your head up. Consider that coin tossed and let's all hope for the best.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Obsession Plate

Sometimes life seems to be a series of problems, obstacles, and broken shoe laces. I don't think this is unique to anyone and I don't think anyone is immune to problems. We all have them from time to time, more often than not they're few and far between enough that we don't feel overwhelmed by them. But sometimes they pile up and I think that's where people get the idea that they have a lot of problems or someone else doesn't. More accurate is the idea of how people deal with adversity or even normal life. If you let things build up and eat you, it feels like you always get buried. Otherwise things are just there. Life goes on and they usually work out or fade away.

I feel right now on the edge of being overwhelmed with "stuff". Not problems per se because some of it is my own, not something life threw at me. I'm going to list them all for the sake of thinking out loud. When I'm done it will either be obvious it really isn't that bad or conversely that I should be hooking up the Valium IV drip.

The biggest issue is that my wife has a "thing" in her breast which may or may not be a simple clog or mastitis. The fathers of breast fed children will be familiar with this. So she went to the doctor Monday and he wants her to get an ultrasound, but not until Friday. She felt like crap Monday, and we're thinking if he's that concerned we want to have it taken care of ASAP. So this is the main thing bugging me right now. It's like when you add a great starting pitcher to the rotation your previous ace becomes the #2 guy and so on down the line. It magnifies the rotation. When you add a big problem it makes the other ones that much bigger.

My shoulder is item #2, so this week we really have 2 things that would normally not be on my plate. There's really not much to do here but let it get better so in a sense it's not a tangible problem at all, any more than getting old is. But then at the end of work Monday it started to really rip in pain again, which isn't thrilling. So now a small part of me is thinking, should I go get it checked out? Nah, let's sleep on it and go from there. Well this morning it doesn't hurt too much but it's pretty sore/stiff. I'd say this plane is in a holding pattern.

The broken spoke on the Dump Truck, also an added annoyance. The solution is to get a new spoke and put it in. When do I have time for this? I don't know. Thus the annoyance. Mental note: buy more than 1 when you get it this time. In fact I should just buy 10 of every spoke size that exists. I now have 10 wheels in the basement. That's just silly. I brought the wheel into the basement this morning after the ride, took the tire/tube off, and pulled off the cassette. Even though it's on the drive side it looks like I need to take the disc off to get it in properly. Two more things of note. My rear wheel weighs an astounding 5.5 pounds fully assembled. The second is that I had 2 flats this morning. Make that 6 now with the Blue Grooves. But since these are slow leaks I'm just going to ride them this weekend. I'm not made of money. Regarding the weight of the wheels I may need to pick up that custom set for Christmas. That will end up saving me quite a bit of weight and they don't cost a ton. I digress.

I have my tent setup on the back patio and it needs to be seam sealed. But the local outdoor place was out of it, and they seem to have forgotten that they said they would order it for me. You wonder why people go to the big retailers. So I need to get seam sealer, then seal it, then water test it the next day and see if it worked. I have 2 weeks for this but the days leading up to the race will be hectic enough so I want to get it out of the way.

The bike food question, which is, what to eat on the bike in 2 weeks? Well right now the answer is whatever I damn well feel like. I'm leaning towards brining everything I can find in terms of liquid energy. Heed, Perp, Accelerade, Gatorade, InfinIT Nutrition, and maybe some Hydro-Boom and Powerbar Endurance drink. On top of that all sorts of salty ass foods like burritos, pizza, sandwiches, and egg sandwiches as well as pie and cake. So this isn't so much a problem as it is a consideration of what to do. If I didn't have the other issues I would be all over this one. But as it is I'm just going to bring everything I can think of.

There's my usual obsession with where to ride this weekend. I was supposed to go out for a Ringwood epic but it seems I've already changed that plan. The group Sunday is probably a bit slower collectively which is a good thing for me. I don't need a 4-5 hour crushing ride 6 days before the 24 hour race. Instead I'm looking at. 3-4 hour ride with a much easier pace. I need to start thinking: slower, slower, slower. It's the only chance I have to keep it rolling. My main concern with regards to riding right now is, don't go OTB. I just can't physically afford to take it on the shoulder again any time soon.

The bike build is all but on the back burner for now, even though several packages should be coming this week. So that's not even on the Obsession Board currently. Having said that I would like to get that thing together for the 24 hour race. Why? I really don't know.

There's also actual riding I need to do. At this point sleeping in sounds like a much better idea than waking up at 5:00 to ride a bike. This morning I hit snooze twice and got out of bed at 5:00. It was probably 5:20 by the time I got rolling for a quick hour plus in temperatures in the 50s. Not feeling invincible at all out there right now and the chilly air doesn't help. I just have to hope the rest week will work out like it did last time.

Of course there's work, which starts with 3 days of training this week. It's impossible to actually get anything done these days yet they want it all. I find that work is just better off ignored in the grand scheme of things. I simply don't have any effort left to care at the moment. I go in, do my thing, then leave. Any more than that is asking for trouble.

Ironically I still need to schedule my vacation days. I have like 15 days to take and it's almost September. So we've been trying to figure out how to use them and have no idea. Added stress about taking a break from the stress. My productivity at work is suffering right now. I really need a break.

Well now that I lay it out there it makes sense. There are 4 more things on the plate than normal. Items 1 and 2 are the things that amplify the rest of it. And right now the house is a bit of a mess. So I'm thinking I need to look for that Valium IV. But I won't. We did manage to get things cleaned up a bit last night and my wife was feeling a little better this morning, so that's progress. The child is sleeping really poorly these days which means we all do. My FGI is going to suffer this week because I really turned the screws Sunday and did a John Goodman on my kitchen. When I'm not rested enough I find it damn near impossible to eat reasonably. Sprinkle in the shoulder and when I do sleep it's not all that well.

As Natalie Merchant said, these are the days to remember. Without adversity life is a series of mundane events in rapid and indistinguishable succession. As long as my wife is OK everything else will take care of itself. She's the ace in our rotation so we can't have her going down.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Gravity Always Wins

The weather mucked up my weekend plans so I hit the road Saturday instead. I picked out a loop that normally takes me about 1:20 and change and planned to do it 3 times. What a joke. What a cold hard dark dreadfully boring joke. After 2 laps I threw in the towel because it was so beyond dreadfully boring I had to get off the bike. I think I've also verified that my stomach has jumped the shark on both Heed and Perpetuem. Not a good realization 2 weeks before the race. Oh well there's always ham and cheese or turkey sandwiches.

That afternoon I took Julia and we went out to see Terren and family and I dropped off his bike which I fixed up. I had an old chain lying around which worked well for the bike. Seems like his cassette and rings are worn just enough for that chain to work. So I threw the bike on the back, the kid in the seat, and off we went.

This is sort of a new thing we're doing, where I take Julia somewhere for the afternoon (or stay at home) and mom gets some down time. This is good for everyone, since it allows daddy and daughter to bond a little more and gives mom some child-free crack smoking time, or whatever it is she does. I'd like to think we already have a good relationship, and this is borne out by the fact when she spilled hard Friday night she clung to me and didn't scream for mommy. The one-on-one time can only help.

Another good thing this does is that it makes me feel less guilty for going on my long bike rides. So our generic weekend approach is going to be that I do one huge ride and maybe a short ride the other day. And one afternoon we take off and do our thing, dad/daughter in one car and mom in another. Then that leaves one morning and one afternoon for family time. I'm sure this will change in a month but for now this is the plan.

Sunday we went to brunch with my parents, dim sum which is basically Chinese buffet on carts they roll around. You pick what to eat and they charge you for it. So we ate like slobs then I met Woody over at Chimney Rock for a quick afternoon spin. In the warmup area which I refer to as the Playground I bit it hard on a fallen tree that was at one of the fast descents. The trail turns a hair at that point so I was absolutely flying and on an angle. The front tire cleaned but the rear caught and flung me way up and over, and I took it all on the left shoulder. Woody said the whole bike went flying in the air.

After that I was a little sore, but fine. The rest of the ride was basically pain free though pulling the water bottle out hurt. But riding the bike was not hindered at all so I figured it was all good. Well Woody took off at one point and I did another lap on the red trails. When I got back to the car it all started to come together, or fall apart. Getting the bike on the car was difficult. When I sat down and started driving away, searing pain shot through my left shoulder. Moving it at all hurt. All I could think of was that my season was done. I mean after the 24 hour race fine, whatever. But this would blow if it were to happen now.

When I got home my wife said one shoulder looked rounded and lower. Not good. Well after a shower I though it was fine, if maybe a hair swollen. I put a tank top on (painfully) and asked my parents and they said it looked fine. I could lift my arm, with some pain, but no grinding, no deformities or bulges so I ruled out a break. Woody and his nurse wife Beth came over for dinner and didn't comment that I looked broken so that was good for me. 5 hours and 4 beers later, it all felt fine if not a bit sore. This morning more of the same, a little sore but probably not as bad as it should be. Like I said last week, become an expert at falling. And apparently you need to have some crash mojo to spare because this is 2 weeks in a row I went down really damn hard and walked away with little to no pain to show for it. I gues the Pain and Suffering gods are content with the bridge fall from earlier in the year and are letting me slide thus far.

I popped a spoke on the rear wheel of the DumpTrucker so I need to either rape a wheel again or go to the shop and get one. The last time the shop gave me the wrong size so I may just pull one out of another bike. What I really need is some spare spokes, especially since I'm bound to pop one at the 24 hour race. The squeaking is gone so it must have been the swingarm-bb shell bearings I changed last week. Shifting is fine. Rear suspension probably a little soft.

I mixed Accelerade and Heed yesterday and that seemed to work OK. I felt better at the end of the ride than at the beginning. I also locked out the suspension on the climbs and holy shit what a difference. The "pro pedal" doesn't work like it's suppose to. After that I locked it out on pretty much any climb, at least the rear shock. The 2 major differences I notice are that the bike is much more repsonsive to my pedal stroke and my traction is a ton better. I don't spin out the rear tire nearly as much as I used to, actually not at all. I really need to make that part of my normal routine, locking and unlocking the rear. The front doesn't seem quite as big a deal since I don't stand on most of my climbs anyway.

By the end of the week I should have everything I need for the bike build. On Friday night I found a new set of Deore shifters/brakes for $50 including shipping on eBay. So all I really need to do is work out the stem length and I'll be good to go. I think having that together for the 24 is a bit of a stretch but you never know.

Apologies for the hastily written entry. I have training today which is sucking up my free time. Seems like all they want to do is send you to training anymore. Nobody actually works these days. I have training Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Exactly what they're training me for is a good question. I'm not even sure anymore.

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