Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tragedy on the Bike

"I'm T-N-T, I'm dynamite!"


"Have a conversation with your bike. Before you ride, bounce it, get to know what you hear. Check it before you mount up." So teaches Scott Paisley, Uber biker, great guy, at bike repair class. Owns the local bike shop where most of us go. But despite assumptions to the contrary, Kryptonite has no effect on him. Like the rest of us, in a potential bike vs car match up, he loses. As do three others who follow.

It's been a bad day at Black Rock. This site preaches safety above almost all else and we've had a bad streak. Not long after Scott was hit by a car on a quiet country road incurring a spine fracture which required hospitalization but not surgery, another of our group had his handlebars loosen after hitting a particularly deep pothole....hip fracture with surgery and screws. Near the sight of his accident, at almost the same time, another biker crashed fracturing his neck leading to surgery and plating.

Less fortunate was a gent riding his bike from our area to visit his daughter at a nearby college when he was struck and killed by a motor vehicle. Cell phone records of the driver have been subpoenaed as authorities think this may have contributed to driver inattention. But he's still dead.

So, although the racing season has finished for many of us, significant biking challenges and work outs lay ahead. Please don't let your guard down, ride like they're out to get you - maybe they are -and take that extra minute to make sure everything...everything is 100% on the bike without taking a short cut. You could end up on this blog, and that'd be a bad thing. Have a conversation with your bike. Today and every day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Summer's Fading

"There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place,
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face,
And when, responding to cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt t'was Casey at the bat."

While the racing season is over for some, many others are just hitting their stride, and like Casey, optimistically and confidently are looking forward to their final "A" race of the season.

We get spoiled being able to bike at 5:30 am in the summer with simply a singlet in the early dawn. But as August becomes September, the sun stays in bed another hour and retires and hour earlier. We have a tendency to get caught out after dark and the first time we hit our headlight switch...with last Spring's batteries, all too often we're headed home in the dark and not only can we not see, we cannot be seen. I think I use the strobe function on my headlight more than the simple light. So why not take some Sunday afternoon time and check all those batteries, look for your orange reflective vest and flashlight for those pre-dawn runs, and don't get caught in the dark. Take a minute to look through your bike saddle bag/fanny pack at your ability to provide first aid. I know as a physician you'd expect me to carry more (I'm always equipped with band aids, Tylenol, Benadryl, Bacitracin, Ibuprofen, cell phone, etc.) you don't want to be surprised if the ride presents a challenge. Don't the Boy Scouts promote the motto BE PREPARED?

In our county here in Virginia, school starts on Tuesday, so the buses will be back on the roads frustrating drivers. Watch that they don't take their frustration out on you as it may take some common sense route changes to ensure you stay out of harms way.

Best of luck to everyone in that final summer/fall race.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Guy's a Stud

"You got to do what you can, and let Mother Nature do the rest...." Meat Loaf

Jim Dicker is a stud, no two ways about it. But you'd never know it from talking to him as modesty is among his many virtues. But, he's the age group course record holder at IM Wisconsin although possibly not as speedy as his younger days he makes up for it with attention to detail, careful pre-race planning and a rigid yet flexible training plan that lets him overcome those occasional urges to over train.

Although there are a few notable age group aces like Joe Bonness, Bob Scott, Laura Sophia, etc. who year in and year out turn in startlingly fast performances, for the remainder of us the deterioration of our athletic abilities parallels that nasty little habit we've developed of having birthdays every year. It's simply a fact of life. So, we need to resist that little voice telling us to "just push a little harder" to perform like we did 10 or more years ago as we risk courting injury and the destruction of our seasonal plan.

For those of us who use the periodization model, maybe it's time to build in more frequent rest changing from the 3 hard/1 easy week template to a 2 hard/1 easy. I did this a couple years ago. Paying closer attention to that initially minor achilles ache or considering a bike re-fit if that old sore back is beginning to talk to you may be items at the front of your consciousness rather than on the back burner some where. This blog is all about exercise safety - If you don't break it you don't have to fix it - and at no time is this more important than when we look in the mirror and see some one older looking back. And besides,
Jim's qualified for Kona. Yep, he's a stud.

Know Your Stuff

YIKES, it's on the inside too!

"Don't mistake activity for achievement." John Wooden

It's been stated before that preventing an injury is usually preferable to treating one. My oldest son Chris is a superb runner...won the local 5K last week going away in 16 and change...and it didn't look all that hard for him. I'm not certain if I fell off a cliff I'd go that fast. He works at Ragged Mountain Running Shoes, a one owner shop for over 25 years. This store is a fantastic resource for the area athletes as owner Mark Lorenzoni has seen EVERYTHING that can go wrong with an athlete, and frequently diagnose and fix the problem on the spot. Every community should be so lucky to have someone like Mark.

One important lesson I've learned from Mark is to date everything. Do you know exactly when you purchased your most recent pair of running shoes? The last chain for your bike? Your tires? By dating/recording the purchase, you have a better idea of the products longevity and are less likely to have an on the road failure or injury. I practice this religiously and have had six 112 mile rides on the Queen K, all without bike related failure. (But don't ask me how my butt feels when I dismount.)

So, why not take a Sharpie and put the date of purchase on the sides of your new tires and the tongue of your running shoes? Add the date of a new saddle or chain purchase to your training log and if you ride more than one bike specify which ride got the new chain...and whether or not a new cog was part of the deal. You'll be ever so glad you did.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Don't Believe Everything You Read

"I left a good job in the city, working for the man every night and day, and I never lost one minute of sleeping worryin' about the way things might have been." Creedence Clearwater Revival

When you're cruising through the latest literature, don't unwittingly believe all that you see. Just because it's in a magazine doesn't make it necessarily right for you. Don't change your whole training plan based on a single article in a monthly magazine or on line journal, even if it's from a source you ordinarily trust. Think, evaluate, question. You know yourself, and your limitations, best. Ask around, mentors, friends, valued sources. Then, if this new approach makes sense, incorporate it into your training or racing and watch carefully for success or failure. Change only one thing at a time. Also, you're watching for the least sign of injury.

After all, asbestos used to be the insulator of choice. And what would you say if someone asked you to make a bicycle frame from cloth...."It's got carbon fibers," they exclaim.

So, each time you read a "Get in Tour de France Shape in 3 weeks," maybe there's a role for this in your life....or maybe not.