Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Mitigating Potential Problems

Just Enjoying Riding my Bike!
My foot is fully recovered and this was a very good week. The highlight, I guess, was getting finger surgery. In an effort to mitigate any potential problems during the Tour Divide, I elected to get some bone spurs cut out of my finger. The bone spurs were at the last joint of my right index finger, apparently caused by arthritis. They were cutting into the cavity containing synovial fluid, which is the fluid that lubricates the finger joints. This in turn was causing the fluid to leak out into the skin, creating a cyst. The cyst was becoming huge, and I was told, very susceptible to infection if ruptured.

Makes it tough to get a glove on
I guess I was pretty naive about surgical procedures and didn’t realize how big of a deal even minor surgery is. I rode my bike to the surgical center thinking I would go in, lay my hand down, get some local anesthesia, they cut everything out, and I would get my bike and ride home. Boy was I wrong. It  felt like I was going through major surgery. IVs, monitors, hospital gown, anesthesiologists, nurses, doctors, pushed around in a hospital bed, a full-fledged operating room, and general anesthesia. I was not allowed to ride my bike home, even though I felt like I could. They would not release me until Roswitha, my wife came and got me. So, when I got home, I did a little work, then went for a two-hour ride. It was just too nice of a day not to.

Problem Solved 
The finger issue didn’t disrupt training. I just used old gloves and cut a hole so the finger could fit through. The finger got a little cold, especially in the morning, but I dealt with it. All in all, a good week.

My next potential problem to mitigate is a wisdom tooth. Last dentist visit revealed that one of my wisdom teeth is starting to slant sideways causing a small pocket. This could cause infection and become abscessed, which I certainly don’t want to risk during the Tour Divide. Soooo it comes out in April.

Slowly but surely getting all my gear. Hopefully I’ll be doing some overnight rides soon.

Just another day in Colorado Springs
Before getting to this week's log I want to give a huge thanks to all the people that are supporting this effort and Children's National. The whole staff at ProCycling is bending over backwards to help sort through equipment options and making sure I have everything I need to be successful. SRM Power Meters, is providing a prototype power meter to get power stats during the ride, which is awesome. This will all so be an great durability test for the power meter as well. And of course my employer, Plus3 IT Systems for their support not only for the race but providing matching donations to our Children's National fund raiser. There are so many others that are helping with advice, training, time, and companionship. And then there is my wife Roswitha, who has to deal with all my time away training, and my obsession with this adventure. We did, however, get to do a 5k run together this week

St. Patrick's 5k Run with Roswitha
Training Log March 12 - 18

PM - Evening Commute: 40 min, 7.4 miles

        Core Strength Training: 1 hour
AM - 20 Minute Hike with Max the Dog
          Morning Commute: 40 min, 7.4 miles
PM - Evening Commute: 2 hrs 8 min, 23.6 miles
PM - Hill Repeats/Over/under LT/Max VO2 Intervals: 1 hr 33 min, 23 miles
AM - Ride to Surgery Center: 52 min, 10.5 miles
PM - Post surgery ride: 1 hr 56 min, 22.4 miles
AM - High Cadence drills on trainer: 1 hr, 21.7 miles
AM - Hike with Max the Dog: 1 hr 14 min, 4 miles
          St.Patricks Day 5K Run with Roswitha: 40 min, 3.1 miles
          Mountain Bike Ride with 3 x High Drive: 5 hrs 30 min, 41.8 miles, 5778 feet climbing
AM - Mountain Bike Ride: 6 hrs 44 min, 49 miles, 5531 feet climbing

Week Total: 23 hrs 7 min, 206.6 miles, 16,716 feet climbing

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Set-backs can be a Good Thing

As I mentioned in the last post I had some serious pain in my foot that steadily grew worse. I took a day off, bought new shoes, and thought that was the end of it. The pain was minor during the weekend rides. However, Monday, after the wind battered monster ride Sunday, the bottom of my foot was swollen and painful to any downward pressure. A lump had formed on the ball of my foot just behind the big toe. I was devastated. If anything can put an end to this project, it’s an injury that won’t go away.

So, I made a decision. No riding, running, strength training, or exercise for at least five days. Each night I iced and soaked my foot, stayed off it as much as possible at work, and generally babied it all week. This was very tough for me. By Wednesday, I felt like the biggest slug on the planet. The interesting thing was even though I wasn’t exercising I felt tired all week. I was getting 1 – 2 hours more sleep than normal, but just didn’t have any get up and go. By Thursday, I was becoming slightly depressed, even though I could see the swelling recede a little more each day and feel the pain significantly lessen. By Friday, it was all I could do to stop myself from at least riding to and from work. I said 5 days, it took all the discipline I have to stick with it.

Finally, Saturday! Went out for test ride, nice and easy, flat, minimum pressure on the pedals. Felt good, although I intended on only riding an hour, I was so happy to be back on the bike, one hour turned into four. I felt so energetic and alive!

Back on the Bike an Loving It!

Sunday, longish ride, 6 ½ hours with my riding buds Kevin and Tom. The weather was fine, the company was spectacular, and as always in Colorado, the scenery breathtaking. Toward the end of the ride I was feeling some pain, so when I got home, iced my foot and took some Advil. Monday, foot was feeling fine without a trace of pain. Yes!
Larry & Tom Gold Camp Road

There is nothing better than a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich during a long scenic ride!

When I think back how tired I felt last week, and how much I slept, 8 – 9 hours vs my usual 6 - 7, I think this set-back was a good thing. I’ve been pushing pretty hard since November and I believe the foot was telling me I need to take a rest. When I didn’t listen, it forced me to. And judging how I feel this week, that rest was sorely needed and did wonders. I’m every bit as enthusiastic and energetic as the first week when I got the green light from my employer to do the Tour Divide Race. Set-backs can truly be a good thing!
Kevin just enjoying the day

Larry & Tom High above Colorado Springs

Thanks for reading and supporting the Children’s National, I am sincerely humbled and grateful for all the support we’ve received thus far. Thanks.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

And Now It Gets Hard: Tour Divide Race

Today was BRUTAL. I have to write this while the pain is still seeping through my body and my memory is fresh. In a couple days I’ll call today’s ride a character builder. But today, it was brutal. I kinda new what I was getting into when the weather reports were filled with high wind advisories and warnings. “Good Training”, I thought. In addition to that I now have a lot of my gear so wanted to go for a long ride with packs and gear. Result; 10 ½ hours in the saddle, 20+ lbs. extra weight, 7,500 feet of climbing, and ridiculous wind = long hard day.
Early Morning Garden of the Gods

Morning is coming, the moon is still bright

The ride started just after 5:00 am and the wind was already going pretty strong. It was still beautiful, and riding through Garden of the Gods with a bright almost full moon was awe-inspiring. From there I started the climb up Rampart Range Road to ride the “Monster Loop”. A loop that climbs to 9,500 feet around Rampart Reservoir, then drops into Monument. The rest was just make it up as I go along.

Two things: Wind and extra weight. I already knew this, but to know and experience are two different things. Climbing with extra weight takes a whole different mindset. It is slow going. A climb that normally takes me 1 ½ hours took over three. Granted I was being buffeted from the wind on all sides, but I could definitely feel the weight difference. It’s a game changer. The discouraging thing is I was probably only carrying about ½ the weight I’ll be carrying on the TDR.

Slowly Getting Bike Set-up 
The wind was ridiculous and relentless. I started listening to a book to take my mind off the climb but the wind was howling so loud I couldn’t hear it. Even with earbuds stuff as far down my ear canal as I could get them. At one point I had a mechanical and had to stop and work on the bike. I couldn’t put anything down; tools, gloves, parts, without them blowing away. It was above 9,000 feet so the wind was bitter cold. Patience, I told myself, good training.

View of Pikes Peak from 9,550 feet on Rampart

Amazing - at 9,000 feet - no snow

Descending into Monument 

After descending into Monument and seven hours into the ride, got a call from my good buddy Tom Turney to see if we could hook up. It happened that we were within ½ mile from each other, hooked up and headed for Greenland Open Space. Now “Open Space” sounds cool, but in this wind, I think “Closed Space” would have been much better. Greenland Open Space is an open almost prairie like environment with no, none, zero, zip shelter from the wind. We got battered. Tom did the bulk of the work by going to the front and shielding me the best he could. Tom is a saint. Finally, as we came back into Monument, Tom headed home and I was on my own once again. 20 more miles to get home all against a ludicrous headwind. In the end, 10 hours 46 minutes and only 84 miles. Here is a 3D review of today's ride.

At home, Roswitha already had a fresh smoothie and pizza waiting for me. Yes, she is a true angel. I was wasted. I couldn’t help but think that in the TDR I would still have another five plus hours to ride and no smoothie, pizza, loving wife, and warm house waiting for me at the end. Instead I’ll have to eat whatever I have, do some bike maintenance, pull out a sleeping bag, bevy sack and sleep in whatever conditions I happen to be in. I wondered out loud if I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Roswitha just laughed and gave me the look she always gives me when I take on these new adventures. I know in a couple of days, I’ll call this a “character builder”, but right now I’m calling brutal.

The rest of the week went great. Rode with Tom and Kevin Saturday. I always love riding with these guys. We ride hard and fast, well fast for old guys, and we feel just like high school boys out doing what we love. Tuesday and Thursday, early morning longish rides before work, hill repeats on Wednesday, and core strength training on Monday. Had a little bit of a scare though. For a couple of weeks now, my left foot has been getting sorer and sorer. I kept pushing and after Thursday’s ride I thought I may have done long lasting damage. I took Friday off from riding and bought new shoes with a wider toe box. Everything is fine now. Such a relief. I was really worried that after pledging to help raise money for Children’s National, my foot injury could put everything at risk. Luckily it was just a matter of changing shoes.

Kevin and Tom

As I write this, the wind howling outside. It’s just after 7:00 PM, which means I’d still be riding in the TDR, then looking for a place out of the wind to sleep. Given how beat I was at the end of today’s ride, this thought both excites me and at the same time gives me a ting of dread. But that’s what adventures are all about – Right? Today was good training, and yes, a character builder!

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