Sunday, July 20, 2008

Warning, depressing reading ahead

Today started so well. It's a perfect day for a bike ride, and I had high hopes. Started with my fave breakfast, granola with 2 kinds of nuts and choco chips and banana added, with yogurt mixed in. Plus OJ. mmmmm. I'd made my energy drink the night before, and put it in the fridge. Cliffs bars were in the fridge overnight as well.

The plan was to ride down to Okotoks via the Road to Nepal and back. That's about 80 K, and I was thinking between 3.5 and 4 hours. Lots of hills, and I was looking forward to the big one on 549. Puttered around getting everything organized. Started off about 8. It was still a bit cool, but I knew the day would warm up quickly. All was going well.

Then things started going downhill while going downhill. I got a flat at about 60 Kph just before the turn off to the Leighton Centre. No bang, just a sudden thwap thwap thwap noise. I was actually kind of cheerful about it. This was my first flat out on the road. I was going to get a chance to use the CO2 thingie for the first time.

I pulled off, and I must say Estela handled very well with the flat. My thought was to go through everything in a calm, cool, collected way. (Cue quiet ominous music.) Took all the stuff out of my stuff bag, took my drinks out of the cages, made sure bento box was closed. Flipped Estela upside down, took off the back wheel, removed tube. (Cue the da-na, da-na, da-na shark music.) Checked the tire, nothing to indicate why I got a flat. Looked carefully and felt with fingers. Nothing, which is nervous-making. With the new tube lying in plain sight on the ground beside the wheel, I proceeded to install the tube I just took out. Put the wheel back on. Fix the chain guddle. And fill it with CO2. I'm just congratulating myself on a job well done and getting ready to start putting things away and get going again when I notice the tire doesn't look right. Poke it with a finger and it's softer than my belly used to be. Then I notice the new tube on the ground.

Grrr. Wheel off, tube out. More from curiousity than any real reason, I use the pump to pump it up. Can't find a leak, but it sure goes flat fast. Install new tube. Install wheel on bike. Fix chain guddle. Pump up with pump. (shark music gets louder.) I'm having a hell of a time with this. Eventually get it inflated, and I'm poking it with my thumb. It really isn't hard enough, so I go at it again with my pump. And the valve stem breaks off in my hand.

Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Fortunately, I'm carrying two tubes. I'm thanking whoever told me "Never just prepare for something going wrong, because it's never just one thing. Prepare for a bunch of things going wrong in sequence, pretty well all at once." Wheel off, tube out. Install new tube, double checking, (my second, and last) being careful of the dreaded pinch flat. I do not want to wake up Linda to ask her to come get me two rides in a row. Install wheel on bike. Fix chain guddle. What is it with me this am?? Never had chain guddle before, now 3x in a row. Pump up tire. Carefully. Really carefully. It's still not quite as hard as I'd like it to be, but I already know a new pump is on my shopping list along with a couple more tubes. Get Estela all put back together. Take a drink, nibble a piece of Cliffs bar.

At this point I've been playing around for more than 45 minutes. 3 different small groups of riders have stopped to see if I'm ok, and we chat for a few minutes about the day, the various planned rides, what a great ride the Road to Nepal is. Even one car stops to ask if I'm ok. I'm getting ready to head up the hill that I did the repeats on the other night, and wondering how my legs are going to do after having stiffened up again from not riding. I get back down into an appropriate gear and head up the hill. (The intensity of the shark music picks up.)

I'm a bit nervous, well, no, a lot nervous about the concept of riding all the way to Okotoks with no spare, on a tire that isn't as hard as I'd like it to be, not knowing what gave me the first flat, given the size of some of the hills, and the downhill speed potential. I'd been hoping to break 100 Kph on the one hill on 549. My calves are doing some funny twitchy stuff that I don't like. I was thinking about just going to the end of the road and turning around there. I'm about half way up the hill, settling in. My bike computer is showing me distance, so I go to switch it to show me cadence. And it resets itself into the initial set up mode. I nearly ripped it off the bike and threw it into the ditch.

All my enthusiasm and eagerness for the ride instantly disappeared. I just wanted to go home, and clean up. I turned around and plodded home. It's still a beautiful day, but there was a metaphorical rain cloud over my head. I saw a zillion riders out enjoying the day, singles and groups, having a great time. My only consolation is that I wasn't with someone else to ruin their ride. I took it easy up the hills, and coasted down them. Tried to reassure Estela that it wasn't her fault.

This is the worst I've felt about training since I started. I'm disappointed that I'm missing out on a great day for riding. I'm disappointed that I messed up so bad dealing with what should be a fairly simple issue. (I've lost count of the number of times I've changed the back wheel between training tire and outdoor tire.) I'm disappointed that I didn't have the mental stamina to simply carry on, knowing that the bike computer data would be worthless, and that as a training ride it wouldn't be worth much, but better than nothing. But I think about the consequences of a soft tire going down a big hill on rougher pavement, or getting another flat, and I'm pretty sure I did the right thing in bailing on the ride.

Still, I'm grumpy about it, and didn't do the run off the bike either. I want to associate running with feeling good. I'd be tempted to take out my frustrations by pushing too hard on the run, and that's the last thing I need right now. I'm disappointed that I know that even after going shopping, and installing stuff, I'm not going to go for a ride later today, and I'm not even sure why.

So once I got back to the house, I had a coffee, and a recovery cookie. Two cookies. Well, I suppose I should say three. If you must insist on saying that third cookie is really two cookies stuck together, I suppose it really is 4 cookies. I feel better now, especially having vented here. I've been making up a shopping list.
New tubes
New bike pump
new CO2 cartridges, and recycle old one. (It actually worked pretty slick.)
New wireless bike computer, not Sigma. Maybe my buddy JN from work wants the old one if he doesn't mind the periodic resets.

The training week ended up less than what I'd like to do, given the short bike ride today.
Swim 2 hr
Bike 1.5 hr
Run .5 hr
Total 4 hours.

I've got the Canmore Oly in 2 weeks. In fact, I should be just finishing it exactly 2 weeks from now. Right at the moment I'm regretting signing up for it. I'm not ready now, mentally or physically. Maybe it will all come together. I know perfectly well that attitude is important, and I'm just going through a temporary down cycle. I'll probably be fine for the event, and even if I'm not, it will be good practice if nothing else. But it's hard for me to have fun when I feel this way. At least it won't last long, and I'll be my normal self again tomorrow, or even later today.


  1. First - You can totally do the Canmore Oly. You are ready, you rocked your half Iron and this is half that distance,

    Second - Sadly sometimes biking can be like golf. It's a good day spoiled. Days like that happen to everyone (if you don't believe me see my May long weekend IM course ride and count up those flats!) Sometimes the bike gods teach us some humility.

    Third - I know your an engineer and love the data that bike computers store and teach us. I have started leaving mine at home periodically just to ride by feel. I've found it helps keep me out of the IM obsessive crazies and teaches me to enjoy the bike with or without my cadence (admittedly I do go home on those night and check out my distance on

    Recommendation: blow off work today and enjoy the day. Or try to get out tonight the one thing bike gods hate is when you get right back out there!

  2. I heartily agree with Kelsey!!!

    Sometimes, a training day can turn out to be a complete crap shoot. It's tough to make the decision to head back especially when so much of our training is about just forging ahead and doing the workout. However, we quickly forget that we are not machines, but humans -- and that sometimes, are bodies and the universe is trying to tell us something.

    I remember that old joke about the man stranded in the ocean and praying to God for rescue. A fishing boat comes by, then a helicopter, and finally a cruise ship. The man declines help from all three, explaining that he is going to get help from God. The man eventually drowns and when he is in heaven, asks God, "Why didn't you rescue me?" God replies, "I tried to. I sent you two boats and a helicopter."

    I also agree with the whole bike computer thing -- I took mine off before IMC last year, and haven't looked back. I also took off my heart rate monitor this winter and don't miss it at all. There's a point where all this gadgetry stops helping with training and starts interfering with it. I don't like how a beeping watch is telling I "can't" do something when I know perfectly well that I can.

    Training is an individual activity -- I think too much time is wasted on what we are supposed to do and how we are supposed to do it instead of actually listening to our bodies.

    And, the important thing is the lesson you take away from the crappy training day. Learn from it, then forget about it. You made a decision and moved forward. You handled the situation well -- and I guarantee you that during future rides, you will be in a much better mental place when dealing with obstacles.

    Besides, Keith...

    YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!

  3. Maybe try this angle. Those crappy rides where everything seems to go wrong really make you appreciate the good ones. The sun will rise again.

  4. Hey, Keith! I will be at the Canmore Oly as a cheering section. I will be on the look out for ya!


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