November 27, 2018 § 14 Comments

I’ve noticed that there are lots of mini-rides now, calving off from the formerly massive weekend group rides.

Some of the rides, like the Old Donut Ride, are aged riders who are still fast and fit but who can’t keep up with the youngsters and don’t like the sketchy, argy-bargy circumstances of so much naturally occurring testosterone.

Other of the rides, like the Origin Rides, are secret social gatherings, invitation only, where like-minded souls follow their own recipes without having to bother about meeting or being nice to people they don’t know or don’t like.

Yet other of the rides are simply twosies, people who would rather pedal and chat than gallop along in a group while focused intently on not falling down.

The ultimate instance comprises those riders who, formerly attendant on every gathering, formerly leaders in their cycling community, simply go off on their own and abjure the company of others. It’s preferable for them to be completely alone than to spend so much as a minute with another cycling human being.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, because it’s not a zero-sum game. Part of the reason there are so many groupings is because there are so many more riders than there once were. You’re no longer constrained to “the” group ride. Options are bountiful and wheel-chopping gets old.

No unity?

Not that cyclists were ever an especially unified bunch, tending as they are to be misfits, but I sometimes wonder if all of this fracturing is also a reflection of societal individuation, where people are able to zone out in their own Internet space and make hard-and-fast delineations about the kind of people they are going to hang out with, and similarly inflexible decisions about the kinds of opinions they are going to tolerate, much less discuss.

When everyone on the ride thinks basically the same thing about the ride, it doesn’t make for diversity of anything except perhaps a few watts here and there. As no one has to contend with anything that’s different, it lowers everyone’s tolerance for things that are different.

Although I’m skipping it today, that’s at least one good reason for the NPR, where diverse people get together and slug it out in a not-always-very-safe manner. At least they are together and coping, which our world needs a lot more of, not a lot less.



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More cycling heresy

November 26, 2018 § 8 Comments

It is difficult to get more heretical than suggesting that one needn’t wear a helmet all the time, and then actually riding without one.

However, there is for sure an area even more locked into orthodoxy than helmet use, and it’s the area of saddle height. Basically, the rule of saddle height is that it should not be too high and that it should not be too low, in effect it’s the Goldilocks Law: It better be fuggin’ just right.

Experimenting with saddle height is a no-no. You must find the Goldilocks and never vary it so much as a millimeter, especially a millimeter. Such varying will cause tendinitis, back spasms, pattern baldness, and death.

So crucial is the Goldilocks that in order to find it, you must have a scientifically based bike fit that meets all ergonomic and phrenological parameters. Otherwise you will fritter away watts, get even more pattern baldness in worse places than your head, and die.

What are friends for?

The other day I was riding with Friend and Friend was talking about how awesome Friend’s bike was. Actually, it wasn’t Friend’s bike, it was a bike Friend had borrowed from another Friend, and that Friend had sold the bike Friend was on to another Friend, such that Friend was actually keeping it prior to shipping to Friend and had decided to take it for a spin to make sure it was Up to Snuff for Friend and to adjust it and stuff.

I am not great with bike talk. “How come you like it?” I asked.

Friend said many things but my understanding of the answers was limited. “Is it light?” I asked, trying to be bike-intelligent.

“Crazy light.”

“Can I pick it up?”


I picked it up. “It is a lot heavier than my bike,” I said.

Friend was disappointed and disbelieving until Friend picked up my bike. “Wow, your bike is a lot lighter.”

“Would you like to try it?”

“Sure. But the saddle is way too high.”

So I lowered the saddle and Friend tried it out. “Don’t you want to raise the seat on that?” Friend asked as we swapped bikes.

“No,” I said. “It’s fine. It’s just a bike.”

“How can it be fine? That is a 54 with the saddle mostly down, and you ride a 56 with the saddle up in the cumulonimbus and even then your legs are bent a little. How can it be fine?”

My knees were grazing the underside of the bars on the upstroke. “It’s just a bike,” I said. “It’s fine.”

Not fake news

We pedaled up Hawthorne, which is about 4 miles uphill. I felt a lot of leg muscles I didn’t know I had. Halfway up we switched bikes again, but even though Friend had shoved my seat post down all the way, I left it there. “Aren’t you going to raise it?”

“No,” I said. “It’s just a bike. It’s fine.”

I rode the rest of the way up Hawthorne all scrunched up, like a BMX bike. It felt weird but oddly it was easier to pedal. Partly that was because I was using lots of thigh muscle, and partly it was because when I am shoved down on my bike I don’t catch very much wind, and normally I stick up like a giraffe and can never get a draft off anyone except Davy and Pischon. I was down so low and tiny there wasn’t much wind down there in the scuppers.

Today I went out for a ride and raised the saddle, but kept it awfully low. My knees didn’t break and no male pattern baldness broke out. The absence of wind and the thigh-mashing seemed to work as well as they had the day before.

The only down side was the worst possible thing in cycling; it looked bad. So bad that I’d never get to buy one of those Team Fred Mackey jerseys with the coat of arms.

I decided to take it out on the NPR next week and see how things go. I will keep you posted.



Some things you can mess with. Saddle height isn’t one of them. After all, what did Eddy know? Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

#coachnotcoach speaks

November 20, 2018 § 3 Comments

How are things after a week or so of Project Less Sleep? From your blog it seems you went down to 6.0 hours per day. Bold! Dumb, but bold. Didn’t we talk about getting pre-approval before you launch off on stupid shit? Sigh.

I see you are looking at increasing your riding load/volume. A few thoughts:

  1.  Don’t add too much, too soon. It’s a boring and buzzkill cliche, but also packed with truth. Let your mind guide you, but feeling like “Oh, man, I could have done more” is much better than feeling shellacked early in your comeback. Not that you are doing a comeback, since you’ve quit racing. More like a “goaway.”
  2. I’ve found that increasing an hour a week is about all that a fit and dedicated athlete can add, and you’re neither. Taking a rest-ish week every three or four weeks is good to absorb your training, pathetic and half-hearted though it is.
  3. Speaking of absorbing the training, that’s THE GOAL Training puts stress on your body sufficient to stimulate the training adaptation (growth) you want. Think about it like this: You suck, right? And you’ve given up, right? Hmmmm, this is going to be harder than I thought.
  4. In other words, you want to prompt your body to be doing its best growing, not limited to the ugly nose hairs and spiny tufts growing out of your ears. Ecccchh.
  5. You are seeking the best adaptations. Growing muscle. Tolerance of lactate. Capillary beds (with hemoglobin comforters and oxygen pillowcases). Mitochondria that look like mini-elephant erections. Heart stroke volume without the cranial stroke. Red blood cells. Those last four are all aerobic fitness components. The nasal hair, not so much.
  6. The goal of training isn’t to wreck yourself and be a training hero, unless being a training hero is your goal, e.g, Head Down James. Nothing wrong with that, but actually, for you it’s impossible because HDJ already is the training hero and that twin bed ain’t got room for two.
  7. You have one goal, to have your body growing to the best of its ability, as much as possible. Think of it like a bank account. Do you want it to grow smaller? Heck, no. You want it giant, engorged, veiny, and purple with cash. The purpose of riding hard is to induce stress and adaptation, not to be a destroyed and worn out old shoe.
  8. Frequently people think it is heroic to go for a monster ride. They have never had to cut off the heads of enemies with a machete or charge a machine gun nest. Bicycles aren’t heroic, they are silly. Fun, but silly. And monster rides aren’t usually great for training unless you’re Eddy Merckx, and you know how you can tell whether or not you are Eddy? See if anyone talks to you in Flemish. That’s a good place to start.
  9. Monster rides keep you from doing the training you need in the subsequent days, to keep pinging your aerobic system to develop, for example. In other words, when you are destroyed and swallowing fistfuls of peanut butter cupcakes, you’ll find that you can’t work out from the couch. So you’re likely better doing three-hour rides than a 12-hour beatdown that takes three days to become ambulatory and two weeks to get your bowel movements back.
  10. With monster rides, you’re so wrecked that you can’t go hit your system again the next day or two. And your body will keep growing and strengthening its systems only if you stress those systems, which is why I generally avoid days off. Days off are for losers. So you might want to take them. A lot.

Anyway, I only had five minutes to dash off this superficial note. I’ll send you something more detailed and substantive when the check clears, or when the credit card numbers you keep giving me actually work.



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Gummed to death

November 17, 2018 § 9 Comments

The other day we had a grandbaby crisis, lots of crying and general dissatisfaction with the way things were being run, in other words, “Where is mom?” and “I don’t wanna be babysat by grandpa and grandma,” and “Waaaaah!”

First you gotta check all the likely “Waaaaaah!” culprits, because at seven months there’s not a lot of verbalization going on, so we did the diaper sniff, and then we did the “Maybe he’s tired and will go to sleep with a bit of patting,” (Naaaaaaaa but dream on).

Then we moved to “Hungry” and mashed up some banana and that worked wonders for a few minutes until the “Waaaaaah!” started up again.

There is nothing on earth that will grate your nerves into a fine paste quicker than a squalling infant; evolution has that frequency dialed in to every human’s receiver. In desperation I went into the kitchen and reached into the bread box. All that remained was the heel of one of my sourdough loaves, which was more than a week old and hard as cement.

“Think he’ll eat this?” I wondered aloud. It was denser than a brick and the week of maturation had made the outside of the heel so hard that it would have dulled any but the sharpest chain saws.

I took it over and gave it to the baby, who jammed it into his mouth. Immediately a gusher of drool poured forth, sopping the bread and his shirt. He jammed it in harder and bit down. I kept waiting for him to throw it down or spit it out, but no. More drool, and I do mean enough drool to start a bird bath.

He had stopped crying and seemed satisfied so I went back to my book, looking up every few minutes to check. The outer edge of the heel was softened from the drool and he kept gumming it as hard as he could. “He’s probably teething,” I thought. “And I bet this feels lots better than a plastic toy, plus it tastes like food. Heck, it IS food.”

After another half hour the impermeable bread brick had begun to fall apart, turning into a gummy smeared paste that covered his face, hands, clothes, and the floor. He attacked it over and over with amazing strength and satisfaction until the former piece of asphalt was wholly dominated by his fingers and gums.

I guess sourdough is healthier than plastic, too.



When in doubt, eat! Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

How tired are you?

November 15, 2018 § 5 Comments

I was talking to a friend who said “Man, I am tired. My legs feel terrible.”

“Then you should rest,” I said

“Are you crazy? Tired legs mean you’re fit.”

I shook my head. “That’s nuts.”

Then I remembered a conversation I once had with Derek the Destroyer. “Best results come when your legs are tired,” he had said.

“That’s fucked up,” I had dismissed it.

A couple of days ago I was having coffee with my coach. Actually I don’t have a coach. He is more like a friend. Actually, I don’t have any friends. He is more like someone I bought a cup of coffee for. Actually, he hates coffee.

“So what’s all this bullshit about tired legs being good?” I asked.

“It’s true. Tired legs mean you are fit.”

“Dude, my legs are fuggin’ NEVER tired.”

He shrugged. “You’re proving my point.”

“So are you always tired then?”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“Like how tired?”

“I fall asleep mid-day. Can’t focus. Constantly disoriented.” Then he nodded off mid-sentence. I shook his shoulder.

“So I should be more tired?”

He blinked like an owl. “Where am I?”

“Okay, okay, I get it,” I said. “2019 is gonna be the year of the tired, starting now.”

Coachnotcoach nodded, smiled, and drifted back off.

Getting on the program

I went home and took out my trusty notepad to sketch out my training plan. Obviously I had been going way too easy on myself. I get up at 4:30 AM every morning, and since I go to sleep at 9:30, that’s a whole seven hours of sleep. I immediately penciled in 3:30 as my new wake-up time.

Then I reviewed my usual schedule, which looks like this:

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: Easy spin

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: Brisk pedal

Friday: Coffee cruise

Saturday: 3 hour spin

Sunday: Rest day

Factoring in my new training plan, which was to always be tired, I came up with this revised schedule:

Monday: Easy 3-hour spin

Tuesday: Ten 30-sec. intervals followed by NPR, followed by 20 miles of hard climbing

Wednesday: 1-hour all-out effort

Thursday: 4-hour climbing ride with The Big One, Anchovy, Friendship Park, Domes x 2, Via Zumaya, the Woods repeats x 3

Friday: 50-mile coffee cruise with one 20-minute threshold effort

Saturday: 40-mile warm-up, Donut Ride, 40-mile cool down

Sunday: 150-mile easy recovery ride

No slack in the schedule

It was pretty obvious that the above schedule was going to tire me out so that I would really be able to go fast, but it seemed like I’d overlooked something, and I had: Nutrition. Turns out I am overeating for a true exhaustion training plan, so I went through my normal diet, which looks like this:

  1. Breakfast: Piece of bread
  2. Lunch: Piece of bread with a teaspoon of peanut butter
  3. Snack: Half a small banana
  4. Dinner: 100g of plain pasta with salt

This type of gluttony wasn’t going to cut it, so I went immediately for the overage (and I know it’s hitting you in the face like a bucket of spit), which is clearly the banana. So the new Exhaustion Diet looks like this:

  1. Breakast: Half a piece of bread
  2. Lunch: Small cup of water
  3. Snack: Smaller cup of water
  4. Dinner: Salt

Anyway, please check back soon as I will be updating this blog with the results of my new training plan. You are free to use this plan, but please give me proper attribution.



Sciencey training factoids galore. Can you say BARGAIN? Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

Special movie news, from my friend Kurt Broadhag: There will be a screening of the RAAM movie on Nov. 28th at the AMC Galleria South Bay 16 at 6:30 pm. For the show to go through, he needs 40 more people to purchase tickets within the next five days. You can get tickets at:

High school reunion

November 14, 2018 § 5 Comments

I went out and did the NPR today, but not before posting the Wanky NPR call sign on Facebagland, “Switching to Glide.”

It was kind of like the old days, a reunion of sorts minus Sausage, Eric A., Hair, Davy, Rahsaan, G$, Surfer, Derek, and a bunch of others. Still, plenty of tough riders answered the call including the legendary Head Down James, making his reappearance for the first time in ages.

My goal was to go hard until I couldn’t anymore but I got more than I bargained for. Head Down James, Chris Rothermel, Shoutypants Faye, Sleepy David Ellis, and Ram-Ram lit it up on VdM. Cam Khoury blitzed after World Way Ramp, and by the time we were on the Parkway people were already gassed.

James, Chris, and a couple of other riders hit it again and they were gone. The group chased hard until the turnaround on the first lap. The leaders had a red light and they simply stopped. No breakaway rules, they just stopped and patiently waited. We “caught” them, otherwise they would have been gone for the day.

After seeing that kind of stone cold restraint, I’m never running an NPR red light again. Chapeau, guys.

I kept drifting to the front, taking a swing, then drifting to the back. Rudy Napolitano showed up and all hell broke loose. James kept the gas on and people were getting shelled left and right, then playing hop-in-wanker as they cut across the Parkway to hitch back on when the group rolled back around.

I made a hard effort halfway into the second lap, then eased up because my legs were shot as the group came by on the golf course bump. I waited until the last rider then dug, almost at the top, to get back on.

For the first time ever, I couldn’t. It was only about 20 yards to cover, which was about 19 yards too far. “Man,” I thought, “this is a combination of old age and being really weak.”

As I rode alone for a bit, then Tim Gillibrand, the 95-year-old guy who still comes out twice a week, passed me. “That all you got?” he said with contempt.

Yeah, Tim. It was.



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