Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hard Man, Soft Dog

My recent approach to blogging is one that should be widely emulated, but unfortunately is not.

Here's how it goes: I think of something quite witty, insightful or crudely funny when I'm away from the computer. Then I forget it before I sit down to write. If I remember anything of it, I remember whatever bit of it was never clever to begin with, and then I say, "Really, now -- is that worth wasting a bunch of effort to write?"

Judging by some of the dreck I read in the blogosphere, some of my putative peers believe that's a question they'd rather not answer. They post every day, whether it's worth it or not. For me, I'm going annual these days -- happy to just quit typing and go on to something more productive, like posting comments on my friend Steiner's blog. Below, by the way, is a photo of Steiner's dog, which shares his taste in beverages. It is a clever little pooch that has taught Steiner not only to pick up its turds and carry them around, but also to make little clothes for it, and to run around in circles and shout.

The poor dog is cold because Steiner forgot to put on its sweater. Shrinkage.

Speaking of cold: I obviously am disregarding every one of my inner voices, because I am not only blogging about blogging (metablogging), but also posting about my training. That's because I find some small measure of self-esteem when it is cold outside and none of my wuss friends will leave the house and I go out riding.

I just finished a workout on my special customized purpose-specific winter training bike:

Yeah, we all know how certain Euro-Pros shun their sponsors and ride some favorite bike that gets cleverly repainted and disguised to appease, say, Giant or Cannondale. (Greg LeMond's Calfee and Jan Ullrich's hand-made time-trial bike come to mind.) You may be thinking that what appears to be a Schwinn Sierra 700 hybrid must actually be a rebranded Parlee. But no -- that's my hybrid. Well, not exactly mine, but it's exactly what mine looked like when I bought it eight years ago for $260.

I've since put a real bike saddle (no springs underneath, unfortunately) and a flat bar on it. I broke, then replaced, all the SRAM 3.0 junk it came with, and busted that little plastic cover on the flimsy crankset. And I've abused it -- which instills very little guilt, given that the bike cost about as much as a crankset or a wheel for one of my road bikes.

A bike like that -- with 40mm tires and semi-disposable parts mix -- comes in handy when the streets are slushy and potholed, or when I'm pulling a trailer, or running to the store or riding on the towpath with my kids or ... anything else that adds up to the 700 hard miles I've put on it this year.

Even intervals are adding to the odometer now, believe it or not. Today, when it was about 20 degrees and windy, I did steady-state reps through the snow flurries at 97% of my threshold heart rate -- 3x10 min. w/ 5 min. recovery. No, I wasn't cold. I worked up quite a healthy sweat.

I like writing things like that -- and recording the data from my HRM and other such bikey-racey stuff -- because it makes me feel like I'm actually doing something about keeping myself in some semblance of racing shape. The reality is that I'm inching back toward my all-time high in weight. I'm about 30 pounds too heavy and $30,000 too light for anything serious in that arena, so racing this year would most likely mean getting dropped -- not just by the pack, but by my wife.

But I've been working pretty hard in 60- to 90-minute bursts. As usual, I feel fairly strong for this time of year. Why? Because I'm riding alone. Put me out there with Steiner, or even a bunch of Cat 4s, and I'll quickly look like his dog in Michael Vick's garage.

- JN