Archive for March, 2010

It’ll Make Me Faster… Right?

So there comes a point in every cyclist’s life at which they’re faced with the question, to shave or not to shave? For me it came the past few weeks. I hadn’t really paid any attention to it for quite a while as my legs aren’t very hairy to begin with. But then a cycling buddy posted on his blog that he made the shave. It got me thinking, do I need to go ahead and shave my legs now? Is this the final barrier for me becoming a real cyclist? So I turn to my friend the internets; the answer is always there. I really was curious the reasoning that other people used to shave their legs. Boy oh boy are there some fun answers out there! Topping the list as a tall tale is that it will make you faster; thus my pun for the post title. Although it won’t necessarily make you faster on the bike, the feeling of the air moving around your legs is pretty sweet. And just like anything else, if you think it makes you faster, do it! I have a little advantage on this theory however, since I’m a beginning triathlete I get the benefit of shaven legs in the water. There were also comments about how people like the way it looks, etc. However one disturbing trend I saw was people saying it made road rash easier to clean on shaved legs. WHAT?!? Who plans on getting road rash so much that they need to keep their legs shaven in order to clean it? Here’s a bit of advice, if you ever hear a cyclist use this as a reason for shaving their legs make sure you slowly move yourself out of a 50 yard radius around them. And then don’t ride near them anymore…

My thought process is usually pretty scattered for those that don’t know me well. So here’s how it played out in my head… “I see a lot of other cyclists who are fast with their legs shaved. I’ve never shaved my legs before, I’m not sure about this. It can’t be as bad as shaving my face, which I hate. I’m really tired of how my cycling shorts look with little hairs sticking out. I need to clean the bathroom anyway. I already have a razor and shave cream. Ahh, what the heck, it’s certainly not any crazier than suiting up in lycra and riding my bicycle for 5-6 hours.” You see, I’m fairly simple. So I pull some instructions (not that I really needed instructions on how to shave, but found a good tidbit on using clippers the first time, then shave with a razor). Holy moly! I just thought my legs weren’t hairy. After using the clippers I was proved wrong. The whole process itself was pretty simple, and didn’t hurt. I gingerly shaved around the knee as a lot of people said it’s tricky, I guess they’ve never shaved their face before. I’ll save any gory details, because I like the fact that you read my blog and want to keep it that way!

End result? Pretty sweet, and silky smooth. Fabrics feel really funny on my legs now. I assume it will go away in a couple of days. I learned that it’s not as difficult as I thought it might be, you just have to take your time. We will see what I think when the stubble appears in a few days. I really do like how my legs look with my cycling shorts now especially since there’s no annoying hair sticking out. I realized it is also extremely difficult to get a picture of the back of your legs by yourself and an iPhone. I also learned that my calves are no where near as impressive as I thought they might be. Guess it’s back to the bike and working out for me. Quads though? Not so shabby 🙂 Good thing I hang out with Austin Cycle Camp and continue to hit the hills in Austin even when it hurts. I’m making this post so that if you guys don’t hear from me tomorrow, you’ll know what happened… my wife came home and freaked out! Any takers on an over/under of her reaction? 😯

Product Review: DZnuts Chamois Cream

This should be fun… in an awkward trying to keep it a family PG rating blog post kind of way. I had the pleasure, uh privilege of receiving some samples of DZnuts High Viscosity Chamois Cream from my buddy over at Classy Cycling. I had seen the product before and even read some good reviews so I was anxious yet nervous to try it. If you’re unfamiliar with chamois cream it’s a touchy subject… well let’s put it this way, it involves sensitive parts and you wouldn’t want to  just rush out and grab any random cream to put down there! I digress, I don’t use a lot of chamois cream in the winter so I had been waiting to try it out. The weather cleared up for the last couple of weekend rides I did and figured it was time to give it the old college try. It’s kinda hard to keep a straight face with this particular product. The product is designed by longtime cyclist Dave Zabriskie (DZ). Add to it the fact that the man has a dirty mustache. And the tag line is “Protect Your Junk.” And the packaging, well speaks for itself. I’ll leave you to the final snickering after a line from DZ himself, “Proper mainTAINTanance of the perineal area is essential during high level training and racing. Nothing can ruin stage race success faster than an infected saddle sore.”

All jokes aside now… I think. The product itself applies like any other chamois cream. You can figure that out for yourselves, much to the dismay of Mike I’m not going to post an instructional video or anything. But if you’re still not sure, the packaging contains a pretty humorous 3 step instructions on how to apply. Once the cream is on, it has a bit of a kick to it, but not in a bad way. I’m guessing that sensation is due to the use of Tea Tree Oil in the product. I do appreciate the use of plant-derived natural ingredients being used rather than a bunch of synthetic processed crap. I don’t use cream on every ride, usually just when it’s hot out and a long ride. So for what it’s worth the cream was good. I think it’s probably a bit pricey per ounce compared to some creams. So you might keep an eye out for specials from Classy Cycling rather than paying full retail fair. Especially if you use cream a lot. Oh yeah, for the female cyclist there’s now a DZnuts bliss cream, and for our lady friends a special tshirt. Enjoy and happy chafe-free cycling 🙂

the Cronometro TT Recap

At some point during making my spring 2010 event calendar, I came across an event called the Cronometro Time Trial. Not really sure why, but it intrigued me and last week I decided to sign up after some prodding from my friends Mike & Todd. I will say that part of it came down to a free ‘Ghost Burger’ and t-shirt for being one of the first 100 to sign up. Anyone that knows me knows I’m a sucker for free stuff… especially food! The route itself seemed simple enough, a 12 mile rectangle loop with one ‘biting’ hill as the description put it. It looked like a great event for my first race and Time Trial. The start and finish were outside of Manor TX, in the J. Lorraine Ghost Town. Seems like a cool place, so I got the wife and kids to join me out in the gorgeous Austin spring sun. I also coaxed another couple of Team Austin Cycle Camp riders to enter as well. If you’re going to have pain & embarrassment, it may as well be with friends! Training leading up to the race wasn’t what I would have preferred, but most of the week saw me in Louisville Kentucky for a trade show. So I had to settle with one solid ride early in the week. I was probably most excited about the TT race because there was a division for road bikes only, meaning I wouldn’t have to contend with the serious racers. It also meant that I got a little later start which I wouldn’t argue with since I got in from the airport at 9:30 the night before. We got to the start with plenty of time to go out and warm up. Alexis, Zach and I rode about 5 miles or so getting the blood flowing. I headed back to the start house since they were going alphabetically and I was the second rider out of the gate. The release was 30 seconds between riders. So as soon as the first guy was out I was up on the platform, clipped in, guy holding my bike, and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 go! Wow, before I was down the ramp my heart rate was already close to 150! Not exactly what I was looking to target at the start! Regardless it was go time, I set out at a pretty smooth pace with a nice backwind and my HRM reading 170’s. Okay, I can do this. Most of the advice given to me was to ease into the first 4-5 minutes and not burn out. I was several minutes in when the first rider behind me comes up and passes (turns out the guy came in 5th). I make the first turn and begin to prepare myself for the hill that was coming up. I hadn’t had a chance to pre-ride but was pretty sure it was just enough hill to keep you honest, but nothing compared to the standard Austin hill. As I approach the hill, another rider begins to pass. We make it up about 2/3’s of the hill, and I having no shame drop to my granny gear and pass him. As is typical when I go uphill, my HR had shot pretty high. I ease back into the pace and continue rolling. I make it to the next turn and then the fun began… straight into a headwind on the 3rd side. Fun right? No not really… especially for TT efforts! I continue to pace but push myself so that I’ll have something left for the homestretch. My buddy Zach passes me and I cheer him on as I know he’s en route for a good time. He didn’t respond, but I knew it was because he was breathing! I notice my time and realize it should be close to the final turn. I didn’t really know what to expect for effort/time, but wanted to get sub 40 minutes and maybe 20+ mph average. I make it down the final hill and just as I’m begging the climb I notice a blue & green jersey next to me. It’s my teammate Alexis. The only thing this means is that I may pass out when we cross the finish line. She simply says ‘let’s do it’ and we put the hammer down. I remember glancing at my HRM once and noticing it was over 190. Would I make it? Not sure, but I would die trying. I cross the finish and notice my time showed around 37 minutes. Cool I did it. My wife and kids were right at the finish cheering me on. I circle around a few times letting my heart and breathing settle back down. I applaud the efforts of Alexis and Zach because I knew they both would have posted good times. We head back over to the ghost town and wait for the results to post. My final time came in at 37:09. That put my average speed at 19.49 mph, my average HR at 175, and max HR at 196. Not too shabby for my first racing efforts. I debated on whether or not to post my final standings because it’s pretty unimpressive. Until I thought about it… I was out there, I finished, and I left it all on the pavement. So yes I finished 29 out of 30 racers in the road bike division. But I did it. And it was a rush, and lots of fun. We finish up the morning with prize giveaways, a band, and some pretty good ‘ghost burgers.’ Not a bad way to start your Saturday. Till Next time…

Pedal Thru The Pines 2010 Recap

Last Saturday was the annual Pedal Thru The Pines ride out in Bastrop, TX. One of the things that I really like about most of these rides, is they have some sort of beneficiary. PTTP was benefiting the Family Crisis Center. As I mentioned in an earlier post I had signed up for the metric century leg and was looking forward through the beautiful ride through the Loblolly Pines of Bastrop and Buescher State Parks. My miles have been a bit low lately, so I ramped up my training the previous week and was feeling good for holding a solid pace. Friday night my wife was having a ‘girls night in’ so it was fairly easy for me to sneak back to the bedroom and get some decent shut-eye for the ride. I met up with several other of my Team Austin Cycle Camp members at the start. There had been a little bantering going on regarding pace, sticking with an easy average and someone whose name shall not be mentioned who wanted a metric century PR for the day. Anyway, we were able to work ourselves up pretty close to the start line. The course started almost directly in the parks with some decent hills, which according to one of the race coordinators “makes people fall off their bikes in front of you.” We get rolling shortly after 9am (BTW is a LATE start for a ride) and head full force into the hills. For anyone that has done training with Austin Cycle Camp, these were nice little babies to keep you honest, but not full force Austin hills. It was a pretty good rolling stream of them through the parks, but the boys up at front kept a killer pace for the first hour. By then the heart rate was definitely staying at the top. Alexis and I had dropped back just slightly but were able to keep it going. We took a team stop for a couple of flat tires, and it gave me a good excuse to get the HR back down. We had just entered into the country highway stretch of the ride. Unfortunately for us, we got a nice headwind with it. I ended up dropping back from my AC2 group slightly, and just couldn’t muster up the force to bridge the gap. So I was content with being back a little, but still could keep them in view. That was until we turned heading east, when the REAL headwind appeared. I kept plugging along like the little engine that could. After a few miles a large group began to pass me. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I grab a wheel and join their peloton. It was such a relief from the wind, and I was getting to rest. I was towards the back of the pack when some voices in my head echoed things I had heard from my friend Mike, “bad things happen in the back of groups like that.” So I begin to work my way toward the front on the outside. Anyone that knows me, knows I’m a cautious (read chicken) rider to begin with. There were still about 10 rides in front of me when I see a wheel go sideways in front. I quickly slide over in the shoulder, then into the grass. I drop my bike and run back to the pile of carbon fiber, wheels and riders. We get everyone disassembled, and one guy is holding his arm saying that it’s probably his collarbone. Hopefully for his sake it’s not broken. Most everyone else that went down just had some scrapes and bruises. There was some catastrophic damage to the bikes however. To me it was very interesting because most of those riders were in the same group, and one guy just made a back mistake trying to come up on his teammate and crossed wheels. SAG and the police arrive, and I continue on my way. I reach the halfway and team AC2 was there waiting. I refill my bottles and we head out for the return trip. We were really looking forward to it because we knew we were going to get a tailwind. Wrong. Shame on us for trying to predict Texas weather. The wind shifted on us, again. One of our front end mashers Vince, got a flat so we all stopped at the corner to wait. I really hate to see anyone get a flat, but when it’s one of the front guys and it gives me a chance to catch up… well I won’t complain much 🙂 We press on, and contrary to what the guys were saying, they didn’t drop the pace from the first half. So I settle back into my rear position and continue pedaling away against the wind. We finally turn onto a state highway, and enjoy it’s smoother asphalt. There were a handful of rollers left for the final stretch as well. We regrouped at the final rest stop for a few minutes, then press on. We round in to the finish to the cheers of friends and family members awaiting everyone. All in all it was a great ride. We all had some discrepancies on our computers, but my runkeeper route was pretty close. I think the final mileage should have been right around 60. Final time with stops was 3:52. That’s over 45 minutes better than my last metric. The actual ride time averaged right above 17 mph. I’m pretty sure that I will keep Pedal Thru the Pines on my ride calendar, especially since it’s early in the year with no conflicts. The best news was the the next day I wasn’t anywhere near as sore as the last metric. Guess that means I’m improving… now just to do more of that so I can hold onto my teams wheel better 🙂

the BIG 4-0

No, not that 4-0. The 4-0 as in that’s how much weight I’ve lost! The journey started last year when Jillian and I became frustrated with our sedentary lifestyles. We both decided to eat better, become more active, and do this thing right. I ended at the year mark losing 35 pounds. The latest 5 pounds have been more of a challenge and has taken a little longer. I think part of the issue for me is to continue to strength train and build muscle yet continue to shed fatty weight. Although I still have some pounds to go before I reach my ideal weight I’m feeling great. I’m now watching my body fat percentage a little more closely, and due to humiliation I’m not going to post it… yet. Let’s just say it’s not where I want it to be! The total weight loss now puts me at 168. I’m still trying to think of the last time I saw the 160’s. My guess is it has been since right around the time we got married 7 years ago. I stole the idea for the picture from a friend of a friend. It’s me holding 40 pounds of brisket at HEB. Gives a great visual representation of the weight that’s gone. I can’t even imagine cycling or running carrying that with me! Anyway, here’s to choosing a healthy lifestyle, eating more fruits and veggies, less red meat and being more physically active.

I’m gunna TRI

So last Sunday afternoon I hooked up for a ride with my buddies Matt & Luke. We were in the mood for a leisurely stroll as neither of them are big cyclists (yet) and I wanted to get some miles. I decided I would ride to Matt’s to add some extra distance. 7 miles in the headwind later, I arrive and the three of us head off. Luke is a very physically active person and last year did the Rookie Tri. We were enjoying the ride and talking about how Matt & Luke both rock at running, and how I had just taken up swimming again. At some point during our ride, we all came to the conclusion that we would go home and all register for the Rookie Tri. Which after I got home, I did. Crap, did I just do that? There’s no backing out now. Fortunately for me the stats for the Rookie aren’t too bad. It’s a 300m open water swim, 11 mile bike ride, and 2 mile run. The bike and run I can do in my sleep. The date is May 9th, so that gives me plenty of time to remember how to swim adequately and to continue to work on my form. On that note, the swimming is actually going ok… I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not trying to sprint, just endure. I’ve gotten some great pointers from some of my Tri friends including Iron-Man Gustavo who owns VO2TC. I feel more comfortable now since I’ve done several brick’d workouts, and think I’ll be able to juggle adding runs and swims to my weekly regimen while maintaining cycling as my predominant form of calorie burn.