Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Worldly thoughts

It appears that those of us in Colorado suddenly pulled up roots and moved to Michigan.  At least that is what the last few weeks have FELT like.  Gray.  Gray.  Cold.  Gray.  REALLY Cold.  Gray.  Then,  Gray.     Amazing how few days of midwest/east coast weather it takes to piss off those who are used to living here.  Generally spoiled,  we are.    No matter,  It has NOT been pleasant to ride bikes outdoors for the most part.    Course sometimes if you just work at it a bit,  it can be pretty damn nice out there.

Have a lot of motivation to get back in good enough shape to REALLY test out some heart arrhythmia drugs I am trying out,  and/or just get the nasty rhythms firing regularly for a second ablation attempt,  so I've been pushing myself pretty hard to get out.  Even rode for a FULL HOUR indoors one of those REALLY cold days.  Such seriousness is not usual around here at this time of year.    All that cold and snow is making me want another bike.

After borrowing one ( well,  not THAT one…) to do the Mile High Urban CX Fat Bike race,  and a few rides on "skinny" little 2.4 inch tires in the snow,  the bug is getting pretty itchy.

We shall see.  Kinda a fashionable thing to do these days,  that Fat Bike thing.  Seems like every clown around is riding some Fatty


While some super-bowl game was on,  there was also a rather large sporting event over in the land of Dutch.  The Cyclocross World Championships were in Hooger-Booger-Hidey-something in the Netherlands.  Mixed bag for the US riders,   with the eternal KFC Rainbow curse in full effect,  and Ryan Trebon tangling with a chainring.  Best way to see the race is the STELLAR work of In the Crosshairs.  His great #Svenness video series has the best recap of a really good Worlds race in his #Svenness #17.



Go watch it.  

And buy a shirt or book.  Keep him motivated to do these videos.  SUCH good work.

Seems that in spite of Euros having a reputation as not having a sense of humor,  and for being WAY too quiet at Cross races,  it seems that they actually can have some fun,  and are not always so serious.  (NO,  my Flemish is not that good,  but Google translate will get you there…)

Get out,  Ride,  Ski,  whatever.  Make sure the weather gods know we are NOT in Michigan.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Almost there

Well,  I guess I took a break from writing much here.  Unlike Bike Snob NYC,  I don't seem to know when I won't be putting anything up here,  and thus make an appointment to not write stuff.  Plus of course,  I am far from capable of spewing out my gibberish at anywhere near his level of quantity,  or really,  let us be brutally honest,  his quality.  With or without scheduling a break,  I seem to have taken one.

Since back about Christmas,  it has been a bit quiet around here,  all except for some little cyclocrossing race down in the Republic.    Not a bad week for cross,  if you are into that sort of thing. Some kinda fast dudes and dude-etts came to this neck of the woods and rode around a bumpy circle really fast.
Some Fast guy

Being as you need to be a Cat3,  even older than I am,  and have a functional heart/circulatory system to actually participate in said bumpy fast circle riding,  I attended in a mere support and fan like capacity.  Took Thursday off to pit,  help,  support and apparently jinx some of my teammates who were participating in the fast,  bumpy circle fast riding.  Two of the three I went to help were unable to complete all the required circles,  due to mechanical malfunctions and 4 stitches in the upper lip crashing events.

2014 CX Nats boo-boo from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

 The other managed to avoid too much of my "help" and was able to put herself up on the podium that day.  Nicely done,  Deirdre Garvey,  nicely done.  We are glad you came over to ride with the team.

Went back Sunday to watch the fast boys & girls do it for real.  Rang a bell,  Drank some beer,  yelled at some fast people,  hung out with the peeps.
More Fast guys

Not quite as fast folks
Pretty cool to have the big show here in our neck of the woods.  Wish I could have ridden the course there.  Looked SO sweet.  Too bad I doubt that any local races will get to use and abuse the "non-trail" lines used for Nationals,  so we will be back on the more usual Valmont courses next year.  Sigh.

With that show over,  and Worlds this weekend,  the whole cross thing will go dormant for a bit.  Time for skiing and maybe a dose of cross stoke now & then.


I also had the pleasure of chatting with my Cardiologist/Electrophisiologist about my failed heat probe/Zap thing.  He still insists on his number one "fix" being the famous Doctor approach of  "stop doing that".  He was telling me he thinks I should act my age,  and stop pushing my heart so hard.  Something about "seeing too many people with arrythmias"  and "exercising so hard at our altitude" not being "good" for you.   He also mentioned his opinion not being very popular in Boulder.  Wow,  Really?  It was not very popular with me,  either.  We then moved on to treatment options NOT involving me sitting on a couch from now on.

Now currently test driving and experimenting with some meds to see if blocking my calcium channels will help the heart rate "excursions" without too many side effects.  I am also trying to get my fitness ramped back up to where I can get hard enough efforts in on a regular basis to see how the drugs really affect me and the heart events.   Probably will also try a second EP study/Ablation if I get the events repeating more regularly again.  This time without the general anestisia.  Whee.

Enjoy the random bursts of cold,  snow,  wind and nice warm days.  It's winter in Colorado.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Catharsis

Merry Christmas to you all.  ( all 3 or 4 of you who read this…)

This year has had me trying to decide if I am the grinch,  or just "was Grinched".   Not been a great year,   and certainly not my favorite Cross season.  Did spot a new hybrid out there,  the Santa Grinch.  Maybe my year was just his idea of a joke.
Bo Bickerstaff   -  http://bobickerstaff.com
So a whopping 2 weeks after getting my heart probed,  thinking I was PROBABLY safe from "Pulling a Cedric Gracia" I went ahead and jumped back in a race.  Figured if being a good little cardiac patient and not stirring up my heart arrhythmia led to it not happening while I was probed,  I just as soon change the operating point,  and start getting it to go nuts more often.  So,  racing at states seemed like as good a plan as any.

Turns out that HURT.   A LOT.

After NOT getting my heart issues fixed,  I kinda went through a low point,  got a little whiny,  felt sorry for myself and the like.  Strange,  just 45 minutes of searing agony seems to have cleared a lot of that up.

John Hailey has put in a back-breaker of a course down there,  killer hard,  but also really fun.  My "race" was a bit of a blur,  made very cloudy by a searing haze of pain.  I do seem to remember having some fun sliding around in some greasy mud over ice,  you know,  kinda like cross should be.  After weeks of sitting around,  avoiding heart tachycardia in the vain hope that all that would soon be fixed,  and 2 weeks after getting my heart probed,  racing there induced levels of pain & suffering I am struggling to ever remember matching in any other bike race.  And all that for 30th place out of 36.  At least I did not get lapped.

It went about as well as one would expect from someone who was not really even ON a bike for weeks prior to the race,  after even longer of not ever riding hard.   You can get the idea by the HERDS of people who pass me (probably thinking "what the hell is wrong with THIS guy…" as they went by.) in the first couple of minutes in the video.


2013 Colorado State CX Championships - 45+ 4 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

I'll give my team credit,  they are a fun bunch and managed some creative heckling for may way back in the pack suffering.  We had the plan in place that if I was looking "Really Bad",   either side could call for a "Code Brown" and start the beer hand ups.    Not all that good of a sign when they started offering that "Code Brown" on lap 2.


High Peaks Masters Heckle-cam from John Deibert on Vimeo.

So,  with the Cross season "over" for me,  outside of maybe torturing my malfunctioning heart again at the Pre-nationals race,  and crewing and spectating at Nationals,  it is time to look ahead,  reflect back,  and see what I can do to completely avoid another year like this one.  Really,  I am kinda sick of this shit.  Tired of being broken.  Old I'm used to,  but not old AND broken.

We are off to the normal Christmas insanity,  going to go do a bit of Family holiday stuff, then some skiing and tourist-ing with some out-of-town folks coming in.  Then time to re-group,  re-arm and get a new plan in place with the Cardiologist,  which is the day after Christmas. (Merry Christmas to me…)

I did manage a bit of a milestone this year,  internet-blogger-video-trending-kinda wise.  My video from  Mile High Urban Cross went to over a THOUSAND views.  Almost 1100 now.  A first for me.  Since I started this yammering here in October of 2009,  I've only had about 37,000 hits TOTAL,  so it takes a bit more than my few readers to get 1000 hits on a Video in a couple of weeks.  Thanks 303 Cycling and MUCCY for the help there,  by putting my vids up.  What is the definition of "internet famous",  anyway?


Mile High Urban CX Chaos from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

I wish all of you out there a great holiday.  If you are done racing,  have a good beer for me.  If you are peaking up for Nationals,  keep pounding.  Thanks for reading.  I'll try and find some more entertaining stuff to write up.  I hope Santa has some nice stuff under the tree for you.

Merry Christmas,  and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nice Try

Sometimes,  things just don't go the way you want.  

Not.   Even.   Close.

Fear.  Fear of loss can make you go a bit mad.  Just spent a good part of a long and sleepless night staring straight into the eyes of that fear,  that loss.  The sleeplessness came from being thrust into thinking about loss,  and thus the fear.  While the loss contemplated could be seen as minor to many,  silly by some,  and certainly ranks low on the scale of actual human suffering in the world,  the fear remains real.

Forced to look at something unimaginable,  something never really considered or contemplated will keep you awake in the dark of night.   Denial and optimism can be blown away like morning mist,  replaced quickly by stormy clouds of realization and doubt.

This night of dark contemplation,  realization and yes,  fear was brought on courtesy of my arrhythmic heart and the joy that is modern medicine.  Went in to get my long awaited and even anticipated Electrophysiology study and (hopefully) an RF ablation to bring my mis-behaving heart rates back under control.  The Doctor's cheerful "70-80% confident we would get the issue and fix it on the first try" (foreshadowing…) ringing clearly in my head.  

After a long day of no eating,  no water,  prepping & waiting,  I woke up from the General anesthesia,  became cognizant enough to remember where I was and what I was doing.  First thing I asked my wife after becoming aware enough to ask was….. "did they fix it?".    And of course the answer was…..

No.

NO?    Shit.

Of course,  while not out of the realm of possibility,  was NOT what I had In mind.  They were not able to reproduce the failure in over an hour of trying.  Apparently he was able to provoke a whole three (3) lousy Tachycardic beats out of my heart,  not nearly enough to map the defective paths and do an ablation.

Shit.

Thus,  while getting to lay still for the desired 6 hours,  and on to my overnight stay in the place where no sleep is had,  being "observed",  I managed to descend into a rather deep,  dark funk.   What the HELL am I going to do if I can't get this fixed?  That kept running thru my head.  Racing?  Yea,  I guess I can even see giving that up,  since I pretty well suck at it anyway.  But not being able to ride hard at all?  Especially on the Mountain bike?  Unimaginable.  I like to ride places you just can't "ride easy" up.  I ride with a bunch of folks who don't really race  but still go FAST.  Riding our tandem is HARD.  I don't really want to be that putz-y,  ride the easy stuff rider.  I literally can not imagine NOT riding.  It's too big of a piece of me.

After the requisite time of depression & self-loathing,  I have pulled out a bit.  We are FAR from done here,  at the least there is the option of an additional try at the EP Study/Ablation,  probably without the general anesthesia drugs depressing my system responses,  and for that matter a slew of drugs to look into.  Not done,  but was not really planning on more months of waiting & trying here,  I was ready to "be Fixed".  

With my next Doc talk the day after Christmas (Merry Christmas to me!),  we'll have a new plan in place in a couple of weeks.  Whee.  Till then,  I am going to go ahead & "participate" in states again.   Figure it can't hurt to get the arrhythmia "warmed up" and popping before the next attempt.  Seems resting and being good didn't help with getting it to repeat,  so we'll try and completely change the failure environment for the next round.  What the hell.

See ya at states.  The season end approaches.

Sorry for the self-centered ranting/whining.  It just needed to come out.  We return you to your regularly scheduled gibberish soon.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thankful

Well,  no matter what,  I'm thankful.

With all the Crap that's come my way this year,  I'm sure I could get away with NOT being all that thankful,  but all in all I still am.  After the calorie-fest that is thanksgiving,


it is finally time for me to go get my heart re-wired.  Sitting here the night before getting a probe threaded up into your heart can make a person look back in a very "Thanksgiving like" frame of mind.  Even with getting slapped with yet another heath issue,  and getting the cross season I put off all LAST season pretty much ripped out from under my legs AGAIN,  I still have little to be that mad about.  All in all things are OK,  and while I miss racing,  it is "just a hobby" and I got "participate" a bit and keep from loosing my mind.

Tomorrow I'm off to see if the Docs can fix my "broken" heart,  and get me back on track to ride,  both on the mountain bike and for next cross season.  I am looking at a great reward for myself,  If I can get back to racing.  Everyone needs a carrot to pull them past the hard parts of life,  and I have mine.


Some might question how much being able to ride and race as poorly as I do could mean so much to someone.  The truly competitive "cat 2" types out there probably can't understand why middle of the pack Cat 4-45+ finishes could really mean so much to anyone,  why it occupies so much of one's thoughts.   Some out there will understand how much riding and racing bikes,  even with such mediocrity can mean to someone.  

I am backed up by an amazing group of friends & teammates,  and a strong & loving wife.  This makes it all easier,  and makes me strive,  not only to ride & race to my ability,  but to strive to get back "into the saddle" and be there for them,  to be worthy of that support.

I'll be back soon,  and by January I plan on starting to ride,  and ride HARD again.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

MUCCY

There was participation again.   May well have been my season Championship event.  It's pretty weird to "race" your bike,  without going too hard or getting your heart rate up too high,  but I think I scratched my once-again denied CX itch for the year,  and did it without a stroke or heart attack,  so I feel pretty content.

I went to MUCCY,  the Mile High Urban Cyclocross Chaos race in near-downtown Denver.  If you follow 303 Cycling you might have seen a bit of the buzz about this race.  It was by far one of the most fun,  creative,  inspiring and generally upbeat bike races I have ever been to.   While Colorado has a likely well deserved reputation for taking it's Cyclocross maybe a bit too "serious",  and focusing on the racing & results more than the "fun",  this race shows that there are plenty of people here who can go out and ride hard,  race hard,  yet still keep it a little more low key.  Frankly,  was pretty refreshing.

Fun & Creative?  Totally.  The course was insanely technical,  while at the same time having a great rhythm,  challenging but enjoyable.  What other race have you seen with a custom built cobblestone hill,

Filing cabinets for course markers,

and containers as course elements?
John Deibert Photo

Yann Ropars photo


Not many.
Here,  take a lap…..

Mile High Urban CX Chaos from Dale Riley on Vimeo.


Tandems,  Fat bike categories,  and a race for adaptive athletes filled out the menu for a unique day.    The adaptive athletes were INCREDIBLE,  riding the same course as the able-bodied racers,  with minor modifications and a few people stationed to help on request.



Bo Bickerstaff Photo

Bo Bickerstaff Photo

They pushed themselves and their machines hard enough to even break one of the hand cycles in half.  Check out this 303 Cycling article for more on one of the most inspiring things I have been lucky enough to witness in my life.  These dudes are incredible athletes.

While all that was a good start to a great event,  the general attitude & vibe took it over the top.  The HPM team decided that with an 8:30 or 9:30 AM start, the Men "C" and Men "B" races need an appropriate morning beverage hand up service,  and we provided beermosas (yes,  the REAL ones,  PBR-based…) in champagne flutes during those races.
John Debert Photo

John Deibert Bar-cam frame grab

 I was even forced to cut off the leader of the "B" race,  as he was just plain taking too many of them.  Had to spread the refreshment out to more riders.
Bo Bickerstaff Photo -  http://bobickerstaff.com

Later in the afternoon,  more "traditional" hand ups prevailed,  with the Frites & Mayo and Natural Way Racing teams taking over the hand up duties admirably.  I made sure to go out of my way to partake,  as can be seen here:






John Deibert Photos

From Miller High Life to Modello,  the top of "Mount Taxi" was well stocked with a couple of cases and plastic shot glasses,  even though some preferred more than a shot.
Pedal Dancer Photo - of me - used without permission please forgive me

Others stopped for a chat with the hand ups.
John Deibert Photo

Outside of the drinking and Heckling there was food,  hula-hooping,  donut hand ups,  and the usual large HERD of kids racing & hanging out.
John Deibert photo

I really just can't say enough good things about this race.  I suggest putting this on the top of your race list for next year,  whether a serious points chaser or hand up taker.  THIS was one fun day at the races.  Many thanks to the Whole bunch of folks who made this happen.  Well Done!
Really.
Just go DO this race next year.  You will not regret it.

With all the frivolity,  there was still bike racing,  and I even managed to NOT be last,  in either the "C" race or the Fat bike race.   That borrowed fat bike might have been a problem…

These things are a lot of fun,  and I think I may need one.  Some winter snow rides would seem to be appropriate use of my winter ride time.   Hmmmm.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Participation

I did something quite unusual this last weekend.    I "raced" my Cyclocossing-bike in a Cyclocross-like event.  Maybe more like "Participated" with a number pinned on my back.  After coming to grips with the reality that racing was NOT a good idea,  I pulled the plug on racing this year.  Course,  I was pretty much going out of my mind,  being at the Cyclo-X Xilinx race and around the team,  watching people race and not riding.

Since the Blue Sky Cup race at Xilinx was a few blocks from my house,  I decided I had to at least get on my bike and ride.  While RACING with my Heart Arrhythmia would be pretty stupid,  PARTICIPATING while keeping the heart rate knob off that "11" setting would probably be OK.

Turns out that Cross hurts a lot,  even when you keep your heart rate at 80% or so of your threshold.  Turns out you have to let most of the field ride off into the sunset without a fight when you keep that tachometer WAY under the redline for the whole race.  Funny enough,  if you keep it at that "lower limit" and keep it steady,  you can still wear down some people,  and not get DFL while you have a pretty good time.


Blue Sky Cup 13 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

It is pretty different doing (err…  Participating in…) a Cross race while NOT in my normal state of tunnel-vision-anaerobic-red-haze-pain-cave-suffering.   You see and hear a lot of things I usually just don't see from my sensory deprived state while racing.  You can heckle people back,  actually hear their "witty" commentary,  and even interact with said spectators.


I also tended to think better during the race (err…  participation-like thing…).  I even realized quickly that since I was not jumping the infamous "mini-barriers" with a whole lot of margin or much style,  I decided mid-race to quit hopping,  avoid this:


And stay off Johnny D's highlight reel:


Barrier Bloopers - Blue Sky Velo Cup highlights from John Deibert on Vimeo.

All in all a lot of fun,  even for a cripple.   Enough fun that I am now going to "Participate" in the Mile High Urban CX Chaos race this Sunday.  While still a race,  it also looks a bit less intense than a normal Colorado race,  looked like fun from last year,  and seemed like a good excuse for a party/race,  err.…  participation.    The Natural Way guys are involved,  it has a rooftop Lagunitas beer garden overlooking a sand pit,   and it seems bobcats and cobblestones are involved in course building.  What is not to like?

Since this race is using BikeReg.com.  it allows the use of one of my favorite Internet tools.  The cross results.com race predictor.  It is showing a solid mid-pack pre-result in the "C" race,  against a stacked field of Natural Way guys.



And as a bonus,  they are running a Fat Bike race.  I am borrowing one of those pigs just for the occasion.   I even look to have a shot at a podium in that race….


Look for a few of the High Peaks Masters down there.  We're planning on Beer-mosa hand ups.  Keep your eyes out for 'em.