November 12, 2015 § 10 Comments
Two items from two friends:
ITEM 1: The Road Ahead
My friend Dave Worthington is working with the cycling community in Orange County to put together a ride this Sunday that will benefit legendary SoCal racer Mark Scott. Mark is undergoing chemo for advanced leukemia. The ride leaves Bike Religion, 34150 PCH in Dana Point at 8:30 AM. Click on this link to register and learn more about Mark.
Here is what it’s all about, in Dave’s words:
August, 8th Floor, Hoag Memorial Hospital. Surgical masks at the door, tubes and monitors everywhere. I held his arm for a moment. Sick, but still solid gold, and asked my friend Mark Scott, “What music are you playing to help you through the night?”
“David, lately, ‘Shine Like it Does.’
‘This is the story
Since time began.
There will come a day
When we will know
And if you’re looking you will find it.’
“Shit, Mark, that’s a good one. Helped me through my freshman year at Texas. And bro, the chemo diet seems an extreme measure just so a sprinter like you can climb with the goats.” Our tears pooled like rain.
But you know something? We got this.
News We Can Use
Last June a cycling champion, advocate, and all-around great guy named Mark Scott was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). After several rounds of chemo, Mark is still in need of a life altering bone marrow transplant.
With the help of his healthcare team and with your support, Mark is poised to return to life as he once knew it, filled with love, surrounded by family and friends, driven by hard work and by his love for pedaling about this amazing planet.
Until the exact genetic markers are matched for the transplant, the immediate concern is to minimize the effects of the cancer via chemotherapy and blood transfusions. The entire oncology department at Hoag has fallen in love with Mark, and as far as we’re concerned, there’s no surprise there. Mark is so strong, always cool with his Colgate smile and sapphire eyes.
Inside, of course, it hurts like hell, but from the smile on his face you’d never, ever know.
Mark’s eyes were coal. Who dimmed the lights? “Mark … WTF?”
Mark was unresponsive. He was digging deeper than ever before, at war on the inside. For the first time in a long friendship he had nothing to spare for my tiny Me-Problems. “Mark, I’m your little brother, WTF?”
At his bedside, Mark told the enemy, “I’m gonna keep fighting.” Every cell in his body under attack and every cell fighting back.
“Now back off! I’m gonna keep fighting, man.”
More News We Can Use
To date Mark has endured four grueling chemotherapy sessions. From head to toe, his body has been riddled with a battery of probes, needles, bone core drills, aorta catheters, lumbar punctures, spinal taps, x-rays, and MRI’s. Through it all, Mark has yet to utter a single word of complaint, not one. All he’s done is smile, then grit his teeth and battle back. Mark Scott has spent a LIFETIME being the first guy to step up for his friends and for his community, and since he’s too humble to ask for your help, we are asking for him: We need your help.
This Sunday, Nov. 15, we are raising funds to directly benefit Mark during this fight with cancer. Additionally, Team Mark Scott wants to increase awareness of leukemia and those it afflicts. Simply by registering for ride, whether you attend or not, you’ll be helping MARK SCOTT.
Cancer can hit any of us at any time. Why Mark? We don’t know, but we know he’s not the only one. Another champion, Rahsaan Bahati, has an 8-year old nephew suffering from leukemia. Rahsaan will be joining us on Sunday, too.
Words from a Friend
Mark loves and appreciates you all. He has the stomach and backbone to beat this. Though not out of the woods, he’s made huge strides. Still, the hard part is yet to come. Remember, more than the rubber on the road, it’s the inner tube that’s 100 times stronger because it carries the pressure and the load; it’s what’s inside that counts.Whether you can make it or not, a donation of any amount will make a huge difference since Mark will be unable to return to work during this fight. www.gofundme.com/markscott
You can also support simply by registering for the ride. And like the song said:
“Shine Like it Does
Into Every Heart.
Shine Like it Does.
And if you’re Looking
You will Find It.
You will Find It.”
ITEM 2: Celebration of the Life of Udo Heinz
The Belgian Waffle Ride was conceived to challenge limits and to connect us as a community. Udo Heinz, a husband and father of two who was struck and killed near Camp Pendleton in 2013—is the closest to our heart.
Join us as we celebrate Udo’s life with a 55-mile memorial ride featuring friends, road and dirt on Saturday, November 14, starting from Stone Brewing Co. at 8:00 AM.
But that’s just the beginning. Udo’s wife Antje shared this beautiful letter.
My Dear Udo,
It has been more than two years that I could ride behind your wheel and hear you yelling at me to “hang on to the wheel.” How I miss your wheel, my love.
I still feel closest to you when I am in the saddle of my bike. Sometimes a simple bike ride makes all the difference in my day. Blue sky above me, road under me, my heart pounding and my legs screaming, climbing up the hill.
I love riding my bike. You loved riding your bike. And we both loved riding our bikes together.
In the first year after you left us, my grief was raw and obvious. And the first anniversary was not a benchmark, really. It was merely the day after day 364, followed by 366, 367 and so on. Year one was a struggle to get up, get the kids to school and to figure out all those things like car title transfers, new health insurance, the mechanics of life.
By year two, most of those things were resolved. But now there is another big job waiting to be resolved: Learning to live life alone, a new identity because you are still GONE and you will always be gone. Year two means struggling to live life again. And it is hard.
Some days I don’t care about anything, some days I am just tired. Tired of fixing the printer without your help, tired of making big decisions alone, and tired of caring for our children by myself.
It is hard because I have to live without the one I can’t live without.
But I always go on. I take breaks when I am really dark but I always come out the other end. I have so many wonderful people in my life that carry me. They didn’t disappear after the first year of initial grief. They are still by my side and encourage me, listen to me, hug me and ride with me. Like all those friends that come to the memorial ride again this year to celebrate your life, your birthday, your smile, your love for riding. We will all ride for you and with you, Udo. We will remember you and talk about you. Because we cannot forget you. You were the kindest and most loyal and smartest guy I have ever met. You touched all of us.
I am still working on trying to live without you. C.S. Lewis said that getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.
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November 7, 2015 § 28 Comments
Beans are cooking on the stove and have been since 5:00 AM. They will be ready tonight. Soak them in water the night before, then sautee the celery, onion, and garlic in bacon fat. Spice the beans, dump in the vegetables along with the bacon, the fat, and the vegetable juice, and sit tight.
The apartment smells REALLY good at 5:00 AM, by the way.
Which got me to thinking about cycling, which in some circles is simply referred to as an eating disorder. After I tossed aside the bottle last November I dropped between 15 and 20 pounds. By March I weighed 150; I’m 5′-11″. Actually, I’m 6′-0″, but when I say I’m 5′-11″ it really agonizes all the guys who tell everyone else they’re “six feet.”
“Hey, no way!” they holler. “I’m six feet and you’re taller than me!”
“I guess you’re not six feet, then.” Boom.
But anyway, back to cycling, I mean the eating disorder. Losing weight is easier than keeping it off, and losing it is hard enough. A few years ago I went on the kimchi diet, but all it got me was emaciated, slow, low test, 15 hours sleep each day, and farts.
This time I’ve kept my weight at between 148-150 every month since March. Please don’t try this, as it won’t work for you. Still.
- I eat three times a day. 5:00 AM when I get up, 12:00 noon, and then at 6 or 7 PM.
- I don’t eat between meals. No snacking, no fruit, no milk, no nuts, except on the Donut Ride, when I put energy drink in my bottle instead of water. If I get nailed by a low energy lull I nap for five or ten minutes.
- When I eat, I eat until I’m full. Seconds if I feel like it, occasionally thirds, but not often.
- Fruit for dessert.
- I rarely eat out.
- No alcohol.
- No weird dietary restrictions; plenty of fat and meat and dairy.
- I grocery shop for each day only. No bulk supplies or meal planning.
- With the exception of booze, no absolutes.
I try to take a 15-20 minute walk at least once a day; an hour in the morning when I can squeeze it in.
There you have it.
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August 20, 2015 § 30 Comments
All my adult life I’ve been a provider. Not a very good one, perhaps, but there’s always been a roof, clothing, food on the table, and on most days, enough love to go around. Most days. Not all.
I didn’t become a provider because I wanted to, I became one because I was married at twenty-four and a father at an extremely unripe twenty-five, and I knew from watching my father that when you have a family you provide. You fail at a lot of things when you’re twenty-five, but you move heaven and earth not to fail at that because they are children and they are frail and you are all they have. In retrospect, they are all you have, but you’re generally too dumb to understand it at that age.
I never questioned my role because I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in Texas, and it was assumed that men provided and that ones who didn’t weren’t very good men.
What I never did was nourish because that was my wife’s job. I worked and brought home whatever I could, and she kept the home fire burning. She nourished us all with wholesome home cooked food, and for almost thirty years she averaged six hours a day or more in the kitchen.
The last time I cooked a meal for her was September 10, 1989. Our daughter had been born two days earlier and my wife had had a brutal labor followed by a difficult birth. On September 8, her first night home, I cooked her dinner. I put two wieners in a pot, boiled them, and put them on buns. She had not yet been in America a year and hated hot dogs, but she ate them, grimly, and she thanked me.
On September 9, I cooked her dinner again, two boiled wieners.
On September 10, I put the wieners in the pot but they never got to boil because she dragged herself into the kitchen and slowly, painfully, without anger or reproach, made herself a meal she could eat. It seems strange looking back on it that for such a supposedly liberal person I had such a reactionary and misogynistic view of marriage. “It was her job.” I thought. What does that even mean?
When she left last June 6 for a three-month trip to her parents’ home in Japan, for the first time in my life I was going to be alone with my sons at home for more than a few days. Naturally everyone wondered, especially them, how they would avoid starvation. “Subway,” they said.
Since she left I’ve cooked a meal almost every night I’ve been at home. I’m not a great cook, I’m not a good cook, I’m not even a mediocre cook. But I haven’t cut off any fingers yet, and each day I’ve managed to prepare something cheap, wholesome, always edible, and occasionally even something that was eaten with gusto.
There is a profound happiness that comes from watching a child eat with relish what you have made from scratch, even when the children are young men, and even when the fare is modest. It is different from the pride of providing, it is the joy of nourishing. Is this what she has felt these thirty years?
Unlike the money you bring home, which is converted into things like bicycle tires and clothes and tuition and rent, the food you make with your hands that is eaten in front of you by your children is a different thing altogether. There are so many ah-hahs, like watching the last morsel disappear and immediately wondering, “What am I going to make tomorrow?”
Like the mysteries of grocery shopping, how much will they eat, so how much should I buy and are these avocados ripe?
Like the mysteries of cooking itself. When a thing is good, how can I improve it? When a thing is bad, what did I do wrong?
Like the mysteries of kitchen tools. Which knife for which task, and why are they all so fucking dull? And where does she keep the peeler? And how do I stack the pots so they all fit in the tiny cabinet? And why are my hands all scaly and dry and cracked? And when should I add the potatoes?
But there’s more. My sons watch me struggle and sweat and serve up mystery dishes, and they eat them, and we laugh and joke over dinner, and they always say thanks, Dad, and they take turns doing the dishes without being asked, and when tonight’s stew was ready and we, all famished, sat down to eat what promised to be a darned good meal because hunger is the best sauce and we realized there was no bread and one of them jumped up and ran, with his feet, down to the store to buy a loaf, and we all laid into that stew and fresh bread and piping hot corn on the cob roasted in the shuck with as much relish as if the whole dinner had been prepared especially for us by the chef for the Queen of England and we cleared our plates thrice over and cleaned the dogdamned stew pot down to the charred stuff on the bottom that’s when I loved and missed my wife more deeply than any words can ever say.
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August 8, 2015 § 22 Comments
“Hey, Wanky!” said the email, “Let’s check your chub!”
I said to myself, after checking the sender’s address and noting that it was from a respectable, upstanding person, “That can’t mean what I think it means.”
So I started over:
“Hey, Wanky! Let’s check your chub! I bought two tickets to the Body Spectrum fat scanner, one for you and one for me. It’s in Santa Monica–we could pedal over after the Friday coffee ride. What do you say?”
I said, “What in the world are you talking about?”
She said, “It’s this thing where they tell you your fat content, bone density, menstrual proportionality, and cranio-fibular viscosity.”
I said, “I already know my fat content: too much.”
She said, “But it will be FUN!”
I said, “Do they dunk you in a vat of kryptonite? Or is it the deal where they strip you naked and pluck your fat off the underlying tissue with those torture pincers?”
She said, “Neither. They just lay you on a table and scan you.”
I said, “With what? A bar code reader?”
She said, “No, silly, with x-rays.”
I said, “I don’t want to get irradiated like a piece of food being prepared for a bomb shelter just to be told I’m chubby.”
She said, “It’s free.”
I said, “Okay.”
As we pedaled over to Bulletproof Coffee, where I had a large cup of coffee made with a stick of butter, I said to her, “Look, I know my fat content. It’s between 13 and 15 percent, give or take a point. Guaranteed.”
She said, “How do you know?”
I said, “There are about 10,000 online fat calculators. Do ten of them, take the average, and that’s your fat. And no cancer-causing x-rays.”
She said, “But what about your bone density?”
I said, “My bones can’t be dense. I ride a bicycle and my resistance training consists of trying to resist having seconds. My bones are like peanut brittle, guaranteed.”
She said, “You’ll feel better knowing.”
I said, “I never feel better knowing. I always feel better imagining.”
We got to Body Spectrum and they very nicely made me take all the metal out of my pockets. I asked if I could leave in my fillings and the plate in my head. They said yes.
The nice lady scanned my body. Then a different nice lady sat down with me to review the results.
She said, “You are not fat.”
I said, “Did someone say I was?”
She said, “But you have some fat around your viscera.”
I said, “You mean I’m chubby inside?”
She said, “Yes, but not unhealthily so.”
I thought about Wednesday when we went to the coffee shop and the nice counter girl asked if were a cyclist. I was wearing floppy shorts and a t-shirt and all my friends were wearing stretch underwear. “No,” I said. “I’m just a person.”
“I didn’t think you were a cyclist. You look ill … ”
“I do?” I asked.
” … suited. I meant to say ill-suited to be a cyclist.”
I gave her no tip for service, but a $5 tip for being so unintentionally cruel.
Back with the chubby checker, things were better. “Your numbers look good,” she said. “16.3% body fat is fine. You might want to do some resistance training, something to build bone density.”
I started to tell her about all the second helpings I was resisting, and all the booze I’d resisted in Germany, but didn’t. I quit while I was ahead.
100% butter made with pure butter.
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July 8, 2015 § 12 Comments
I don’t know if he ever really said it.
Rich Meeker is supposed to have said something like this: “Masters racers train too hard and ride too much.”
Please check in all nasty comments about Rich at the door to the Internet, or refer to one of my earlier posts and pile on there. Just because someone cheated doesn’t mean they aren’t smart about their sport.
For over 30 years people have been telling me variations of “You train too hard and ride too much,” to which I always politely smiled while thinking, “WTF do you know? Where were you on the Donut Ride?” Right, Elron?
Of course on race day those know-it-alls are on the podium and I’m DNF because “no legs today.”
Turns out, they knew a lot. Masters racers, apparently, train too hard and ride too much. “Oh, yeah?” I can hear you Wankophizing. “Too much for what?”
Too much to do well at races, that’s what.
“Well, who cares about racing?” I can hear you shout back.
“Only the people who pay entry fees and show up to race.” In other words, ME. And YOU.
Of course it doesn’t matter what people say to me. My mind is ten million impermeable layers of granite, especially when it comes to cycling. I know everything, and what I don’t know isn’t worth knowing.
“Yeah,” Fields once said, “but the problem is that what you know isn’t worth knowing either.”
Then one day a very helpful pro (“What does he know?”) suggested that masters racers train too hard and ride too much. I ignored him while nodding wisely in assent.
But something made me listen, even though it was a few weeks after the fact. My 51-year-old body, whose recovery slows each year like a tiny pebble rolling uphill through a massive pit of wet cement, refused one morning to do what I demanded of it.
“I wonder if I’m tired? I mean, like, permanently.” I thought about an old blues musician from New Orleans who, in his 80’s, was asked how he felt as he sat on the corner strumming his guitar. He considered the question briefly, and looked at the eager tourist who was desperate for the aged musician to utter some reaffirming words about a life fulfilled from singing the blues.
“I reckon,” the man said, “that I feel like an old worn out shoe.” Was I, too, becoming a Converse All-Star that had been to one hipster convention too many?
I tried to ride my bike that morning and did so, without vigor. And from that point on I started exercising my sitting muscle. Throughout the race season, which in California runs from January 1 to about December 31, I have only ridden hard once, maximum twice, during the week, to wit:
- Monday: Nothing or easy pedal
- Tuesday: One 5-minute effort on the NPR or full gas 1-hour effort
- Wednesday: Coffee cruise
- Thursday: 60-minute full-gas Flog Ride, or 60-minute easy pedal depending on what I did on Tuesday
- Friday: Coffee cruise
- Saturday: Race or Donut with full sprinkles and choco pain glaze
- Sunday: Easy Wheatgrass cruise
My results are as follows:
- Still feel like racing in June, as opposed to weakening in Feb., cratering in Mar., and giving up after the BWR in April.
- Legs feel fresh
- Reduced reliance on Chinese doping products
- A baby’s handful of good race results, i.e. a single top-50 and no crashes
They say less is more, which is definitely not true for money or penis length. But for masters racing, ol’ Meeker the Beaker may have known what he was talking about.
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July 3, 2015 § 12 Comments
The biggest muscle in the old fellow cyclist’s body is not the buttock or the jaw despite the close proximity of the two. No, the biggest muscle is the will muscle, or rather, it is potentially the biggest muscle. Typically the will muscle in cyclists is poorly developed and dwarfed by the beer muscle, the descending muscle (located in the abdomen), and the Strava muscle.
However, in order to reach your fullest potential and perhaps break the top-40 in an October upgrade crit, you will first need to enter a race with thirty or fewer riders. Failing that, you will need to work on your will muscle.
The will muscle’s most basic failure-to-flex typically occurs on rainy, cold, overcast, humid, hot, snowy, or windy mornings. By failing to flex the will muscle when there are four raindrops on your window you will remain in bed. This initial flex is more important than all other flexes of the day.
Like any muscle, the will muscle requires constant use to build and to avoid atrophy. It also requires fuel. Unlike the beer muscle, which is fed on beer, and the descending muscle, which grows on giant tins of Danish butter cookies, the will muscle only grows when nourished by positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement such as showing up on the Flog Ride and getting shelled in the first hundred yards will cause the will muscle to shrivel.
The will muscle can also be wrecked from overuse, like a normal muscle in Crossfit. The will muscle can only do one major exercise at a time, and some exercises require all of the muscle, such as giving up drinking, waking up before noon, or learning the names (middle ones too!) of your children.
In other words, there is never enough will muscle go around, so if you’re going to quit boozing, or quit wenching, or start learning Sanscrit, you can pretty much write off any other goal or activity that requires significant use of the will muscle. Remember the old American Express ad, “You can have it all!”? Well, they lied. You can’t.
The will muscle, even when highly developed, eventually fatigues and gives out when overused or when asked to do the impossible. It will also fail when you give it too big a task before properly conditioning it, like when I used to lift weights.
When I used to lift weights I went straight to the huge, massive stuff. After loading up the bar with 95 pounds of solid steel and lowering it from the little holder thingies onto my chest, I had that funny thing happen when the weight is sitting on your chest crushing your heart and you can’t lift it off, and you make that funny choking screaming noise and hope someone is watching, which they were, and if it hadn’t been for that junior high school girl who ran over and lifted it up with one hand (she was a beast) I wouldn’t be here today.
Your will muscle is the same way. Don’t ask it to do the massive 95-lb. bench press (quitting booze, etc.) before you have conditioned it with easier tasks (switching to decaf, actually listening to your spouse, not calling your boss “asshole”). In other words, work up to the big stuff.
Finally, don’t fall for the performance-enhancing stuff to make your will hypertrophic. Everyone hates an iron-willed teetotaling machine with a six-pack and a seven-figure salary.
So, start small and build up your will muscle with baby steps, such as, for example, by finding a really useful blog on the Internet that has a very affordable subscription price, say on the order of $2.99 per month, and subscribe to it.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog. You know you’re planning to do it some day, so do it now. Will muscle! Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
PS: Don’t forget to take the 2015 Bike Racing Survey here.