Sunday, October 28, 2012

Use it or Lose it

I like simplicity and am drawn to things that present their essence quickly, without a lot of difficulty or pageantry. Nature is generally like this. There isn't a lot of mystery in the circle of life, things are what they are, or they aren't.

George Harrison said 'We get born and we die and that which is left is the essence of that of which we are, our souls.' I can wrap my mind around this. Aging is part of that circle. Handled with perspective, grace and a measure of courage, it can be a the best chapter of our lives. 

Having said this, there are unique challenges for athletes in this process and I've been thinking about these things. Yesterday I was talking with my friend (JG) who is 62 years old. We were discussing training and aging, and general riding stuff like that. JG is has been an athlete his whole life. He was football standout and alpine ski racer for Dartmouth College and has remained highly active today.

On TV JG could play the role of a high powered executive lawyer, cut right out of 'Boston Legal', because he is one; or play the parts of a national level masters alpine racer and bike rider because he does these very well also. He trains Super G w/ my daughter Anna, a ranked FIS skier, and the real deal in alpine racing, so that is really saying something.

The thing that everyone will tell you about JG, if they know him, or ride with him, is that he is the strongest guy out there relative to his peer group. And it's not even close. At an age where most guys have packed themselves away to activities 'suited to the elderly', JG rides with the hard guys around here that are 25 years younger.  In fact he even crashed twice last week, both very heavily.  He told me they were his first crashes in over 12 years but that didn't dissuade him at all. JG is about 6ft 2" -200+ lbs and must have put holes in the assault but he looks no worse for wear...tough dude.

So anyway as we were talking about training and such, he said to me that he never stopped competitive sports and being active with intensity.  He went on to mention that today he worries that if he stops he won't be able to pick it up again, or do it at the same level, so he never stops, and he won't stop until he can no longer do it.  I wholeheartedly agree with this approach!

I didn't coin the phase Use it or Lose it but it's something I talk about all the time and the first thing I share to people when they ask me how I have maintained much of the same capacities I've always had.   Like JG, I tell them that I never stopped doing all the same stuff I always liked doing as a kid.  If I liked doing them when I was young, why shouldn't I like doing them now?  I don't have a degree is physiology behind this , but I understand much of it, and trust me  use-it-or-lose-it  worksIts natural law and germane to all aspects of  life not just athletics.

Condensed into even simpler terms use it or lose it says that if you do the same activities at the *same intensities  you did when you were young(er) you'll maintain your youth and strength better than anything else you could possibly do.  *Note 'same intensity'

Here's an interesting read around this stuff. Vo2 capacity in veteran athlete.  It mentions several trial studies and there's a bunch of science and such, but it pretty much just says Use it or Lose it.

I don't worry about aging in the same way I used to, or dying for that matter.  But that isn't to say I'm in a hurry for either.  I'd like to have as much exuberance and juice for life as possible.  Life is much more fun that way.   Hopefully I'll be rolling out miles of good road 50 years from now. 

Peace and roll strong.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Extreme ways

I was watching Bourne Supremacy the other day.  This song ('Extreme' by Moby) is the theme song and hearing it got me thinking about what the word extreme means today in the context of lifestyle and sports?  I hear it so often nowadays that it's lost some meaning for me and I was thinking about why?  Here's what I came around to.

'Extreme' use to be cool and it use to be rare but it's not really that way anymore.  It use to have an edge to it that just isn't there.   I think the reason for these things is that 'extreme' went mainstream on us a long time ago and once anything goes mainstream it loses it's mystique and becomes just normal.

Not that this is a bad thing though, so don't get me wrong.  Personally I think people being super active and stretching themselves is awesome, regardless.  I've always been healthier, happier and have learned a lot more in the process of doing something truly challenging, taking the journey so to speak, than just observing from the outside and I think this is true for most I think this is a good thing for the well being of people and society.

That having been said, I do appreciate the authentic 'extremes' when I see them.  Today I find them mostly in subtly of someone trying something new for the first time.  This is the essence of the extreme. The envelop of new horizen.

I remember the first time I chose to do something extreme.  Growing up in Virginia we had a rope swing that hung about 25 feet from a thick limb of a giant oak tree in our backyard.  Carlin Brundage was this neighborhood kid that used to beat the crap out of me.  He was a couple years older and a lot bigger that I was.  He liked my sister so he was over all the time.  One day he was on the swing and I noticed his fear when it got too high.

I didn't like Carlin so much and I wanted to make a point to him so I climbed the vines growing on the outside of our house onto our roof.  Our roof had a southern style hand rail on it and I climbed up onto that as well.  All total it was about 15 feet straight off the ground.  Once up there I asked Carlin to use the ladder and a garden rake to hand me the rope.  His eye's popped out of his head when I asked him.  When I jumped and dove by him like a Mustang into Tokyo Harbor he nearly wet his pants...and never bothered me again.  I was six years old. 

Peace and roll strong

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Riding

I went into Davis Sq. on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.  It's in the town of Somerville, MA right next to Cambridge.  Initially I was heading into Cambridge to watch The Head of the Charles Regatta but on the way down there I got sorta frustrated with all the traffic and decided to detour over to the Diesel Cafe for their Vietnamese coffee.

Davis square is to Boston what Haight Ashbury is to San Fransisco (less the Summer of love), it's an Avant-Garde section, fringie, diverse, inclusive and in some ways ahead of it's time.  Political opinion and commentary aside, I'm guessing that the things you see in Davis Sq will move toward mainstream expression on the face of America at some point.  So it's cool & interesting to hang out there especially when the weather is perfect.

And the weather this weekend was amazing.   Fall has entirely canvassed this place.  The sultry elements of Summer have waned into Autumn and riding the roads this time of year is pure pleasure.  The chilled air, the colors, the amber sun.   I noticed my moving silhouette on the road yesterday.  It was long and thin, framed by golden red leaves encroaching many sections road.   In a week to two the weather will bend toward harsher riding conditions but right now it's super sweet.

After Diesel I went Harvard Square to meet friends at Grendels Den to check out the Head of the Charles Regatta, which is a pretty big event.  As Regatta's go it's the worlds biggest.  I read somewhere that there were 9,000 rowers competing there this weekend.  I never rowed but I like this sport.  Talk about pain cave? The athletes at the top of this sport wrote the book on it and I respect that.  It's motivating.

I'm looking forward to bike racing next year.  Things in 2012 have panned out to build all the makings for a great season next year.

After some discussion it's official now that I'll be riding for the TIME Factory Team next year.  Their Masters squad won both the Crit and Road Race in Bend this year.  They're based in Santa Barbara, CA and they're a team of uber strong guys.  I guess I'll be racing out there a couple of times and some of them will roll out here a time or two.  Can't wait to ride with them  Should be awesome and I'm totally stoked!

Peace and roll strong. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Best & Worst Races 2012

It's almost mid October and my Race Season has been over for a week now.  It's Saturday morning and this is the first weekend in while without any plan to train or race in the near future.  I was thinking about this as I left work yesterday and as I did the thought occurred to me around what was the best experience racing in 2012 and what was the worst.

Leaving work, yesterday
Formulating these didn't take any time at all because both are crystal clear to me. The 'Best' experience was by far and away the best.  And the 'Worst', well, it too stood out, an ocean apart, from everything else.

I'll start with the 'Best':  This has to go to the North East Continental  Gentlemens Race hosted by the Rapha boys. The Gentlemans is a six man time trial for 124 miles.  It's on road bikes but 65% of the course is off road over horrific terrain. It started in Hanover, NH by Dartmouth College and did a big loop through Vermont with 14,000 feet of climbing.  The route is unmarked and unsupported. The only thing they give you is a Garmin and a Que sheet.  

The Gentlemen's was the Best for a couple of reasons.  First was for its toughness.  Here's the video,  I don't think Rapha shows how really hard the race was, but it's well produced esthetically and shows the experiential side really well.  Great marketing.

The top teams were really hard men, though; and ready to roc, from places like Quebec, NYC, DC, Boston & Philly but the video doesn't really show too much of this.  It has a lot of footage of teams that a mass market can identify with, but doesn't really show that they finished nearly four hours behind the top guys.  Over three hours?...that's a pretty is long time!  The results show 15 teams with finishing times but there were a bunch of teams (a few good ones) that simply couldn't finish for various reasons, bikes breaking and people bonking.  So to win the Gentlemen's took a lot.  

I was talking with Kel about this last Monday in Providence.  We both agree that to win it again will be much tougher.  These style of events are exploding and more good guys want to win them...and we just had a fucking unbelievable ride...all six guys on our team were good & strong for the whole 8:15 hours.  All six stayed on the rivet the whole way, which is rare in a race and terrain like that.  We also only got lost once (good navigating) and had just two punctures.  So we had a bit of good luck and the right six guys... all on form at the right time.  That won't be easy to repeat.  So winning the The Gentleman's is on the wall now (which is awesome) whether we repeat and win it ever again is a completely different story.

Now for the 'Worst'.  I don't want to focus on this too much but I can say that there were many times this year where I was racing only halfheartedly.  And that's a bad thing.   There were reasons...mostly around personal 'heavy lifting' going on off the bike but the fact remains that in these moments, I raced/rode like a donkey and had my worst experiences.


The award for 'Worst' has to go to the Pro/1,2 crit in Naugatauk, CT.  This is a tough 50 mile race with a bump in it that you have to go up 75 times (or something like that).   It's in July, so it's always super hot and the course is New England jankie too...goes around this tired old factory and you have to dodge ugly raised manholes and crater sized pot holes.  It's authentically hard and people drop out or crash out like flies.  I've always liked it though The NYC guys come for it and I like their racing style for a change, and usually I do okay there but this year I had no fire or juice for it at all.  The whole drive down there I thought about bailing and I should have.  Early in the race I missed a huge break with everyone fast in it...and I missed it only because of my***y... attitude.  At one point I got a little motivated and tried to bridge across but ended up just pulling people around...lap after lap like a cat 5.  It was stupid and was the worst. 

Naugatauck CT.  P12, (missed the break/marked trying to bridge)
Here's a picture of it.  I really should have just stayed home.  In racing, like in all things, if it's worth doing then its worth your best effort.  If you're not prepared to give it your best stuff, then don't even bother.  

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Collect, Post season

Collect, deep breath,...Okay, so the season ended for me on Monday morning at the Jamestown Classic RR in Rhode Island.  Bitter sweet.  Sometime ago I wrote about 'Post race let down.'  I'm a little prone to that kind of thing.  I've been an athlete for my entire life and I like the idea of waking up on any given morning with the option to do something challenging; challenging in personal extension sort of way that is, not in life trial challenges, which come on their own. 

So anyway when I get to this point, with no races around or dragons to shoot arrows into I have learned to be mindful and to re-focus.  I guess that's why I become a active 'fan' of other sports this time of year.  After a while the singular focus of elite athletics is counter productive.  It's too insular and becomes a limiting component towards getting to that next level, or in my case to 'maintaining' a certain level.  So that's why I like to get out there and watch other stuff.  It gets me out of a singular sphere to appreciate and draw strength from the amazing accomplishments of driven and talented people outside of bike road racing.  And I like to see it live.  The texture of being there is different.  It's more visceral and real and I tap into that...or it taps into me. 

Bjarne Riis touches on this for cyclists in the Team CSC video Overcoming when he takes his team cliff jumping and sailing.  He took them away from the element of familiarity to expand their perceptions and to build confidence.  People have opinions about Bjarne, his doping admissions and the like, but to me what Bjarne did for his riders is pretty cool and shouldn't be ignored because of the other stuff.  And with all things like this, I think we need to be discerning not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So whats on the near horizon this fall.   Well, there's the Head of the Charles Regatta in ten days.  I go every year and look forward to it.  And then off to Grendal's Den in Harvard Sq. after... if anyone wants to join me?  Then, there are a few good Cyclo Cross races left around here to watch and I'll probably catch up on some UMaine stuff.  There will be a few football games within distance and probably a hockey game or two as well.

This weekend I'm hoping to re-connect with some high school alums from  Kents Hill School.  Kents Hill football is playing Dexter Academy in Brookline, MA on Saturday.  Here's a photo of young Beowulf at KH.

I don't remember which game this was, but from my expression I'm pretty sure it's one of the vast majority we lost my senior year.  I think loosing all the time back then taught me a lot.

Peace and roll strong.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Least resistance

I was tired and stiff from sitting almost the entire day yesterday.  Gilles and I did a short coffee ride to Bike Studio in Lexington around 11:00 but other than that I was planted at my desk tapping out occupational until way past what is a sensible time for Friday night.  By the time I wrapped it up, got home and actually started preparing dinner it was a almost 10:00pm.  This is my schedule these days and I'm oddly comfortable with it.  I've been really productive and things are tracking so I'm sticking with it until it stops working.
best line...'Trust your instincts, let go of regret'

It's funny too, to move about in all the same space(s) you've always been but at different time intervals.  In some ways its like you're in an entirely different place, which isn't a bad thing.  You walk around in a state of déjà vu recognizing the landscape you've been a thousand times before but it's different now.  The rhythm and the people are all different and life is about these things largely; people and rhythms, so strangely enough it's sort of like a new life in some ways.  Make sense?

By the time I finished dinner last night it was 11pm but I wasn't the least bit sleepy so I checked out fb and then remembered I have a race on Monday in Jamestown, RI.  It's a low key race but the master guys take it pretty seriously.  I won the 35+ race last year soloing off the front without team-mates for the last 15 miles.  It was a good effort for me.  The odds of winning like that again are extremely low but I don't want to just show up and ride like a tool either.

So anyway my hip was really tight and sore from sitting all day so I figured I'd try and release it with some stretching and my self prescribed hillbilly-yoga but neither of these worked.  All the movements just hurt so I gave up and decided to take a hot shower instead thinking maybe the heat would help.  At this point it was probably midnight but the hot water really helped.  Within five minutes my hip was feeling much better.  In fact, as often is the case with hot showers, everything felt better.

After my hip loosened up I stood silently in the billowing steam for another 20 minutes just thinking about stuff.  The piping hot water pelted the back of my head and neck beckoning stress to leave, then flowed over my cheeks to the corners of my eyes and mouth and to my nose and chin and then to soothingly stream off each of these and splash onto the ceramic between my feet.

A surreal vignette to paths of least resistance.  Lessons found in a midnight shower.

Peace and roll strong.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Business blog

Thanks everyone for your support and readership of jughead51.  It has been cool and meaningful to be able express my life over the last 9 months (122 entry posts) in such an honest, expressive and tactile way.

On Sept 12, 2012 I wrote about a shift of focus (Season's of mind) for me actualized in the time and energy of my career.  There are only so many hours in the day and while I will continue to train and race bikes as hard as ever, the peripheral written expression of it will taper off in order to focus energy on goals at Andrew Mitchell & Company.

I will still continue to write & post Riding/Racing lifestyle stuff here but less frequently so I hope you check back.  In the meantime catch up /me on my *new blog  Skip Foley, Insights on Real Estate & POV.

Another nice tune........

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gloucester/ UCI Cross

As I begin writing this it's pretty late on Tuesday night.  I've been jamming at work but I'm not all that tired.  This weekend was super low key and I've have been resting well for a change.  I also decided against going up to Orono for the Villanova game this weekend.  That trip would have busted me down for sure.  It's 8 hours of driving (all in) and two nights out with the guys..?...would have shelled me.

..another tune from days at UMO

Turns out it wasn't Home Coming as I thought, just more of a round-up for alum players and such so I was like, eh...take a pass this time. It would have been awesome to connect with my Black Bear brothers but I don't want to get run down and there were things going on around here...and Villi isn't a big rival... so.

On Saturday, Gilles Lalonde (NE RegionRep for TIME, Corima & Craft) called me to watch the UCI Cyclo Cross races going on in Gloucester, MA.  I had stuff to do at Andrew Mitchell on Saturday but we coordinated to go up together on Sunday and watch just the Women and Men's elite races in the afternoon.

Gilles (red) & me in the beer garden/ Gilles comments on cross star Nicole Druse Duke's rad calf tattoo.

We had an awesome time.  It was perfect Cross weather, drizzling but not too cold and I really like the race course's coastal scenery in Gloucester.  I also really enjoy walking around and bumping into all the cool people I see during the road season but don't really have time to stop and chat with.  Since I don't race Cross and go just as a pure fan, I get to catch up with everyone and that is pretty cool.  The racing at the Elite & top Mstr levels are always pretty great too.

.......unlike the lower categories which can get sorta insane.  I guess it's cool (?) to watch people vault gainers over their handle bars into a sand pit at 25 mph (?) ...but as I've said in the past, that scene is more like a carnival to me.  Fun to watch once or twice but...?

I don't like celebrating crashes.  I've had too many of my own and prefer to watch true professionals rip it up with strength and incredible skill and they didn't disappoint.

Peace and roll strong.