Thursday, April 26, 2012

AZ Route 66

Progress across the western portion of Rt 66
Our trip to Kingman, AZ to hook up with PAC Tour was our first overnight venture out of Tucson since our arrival six and a half months ago. Our 99 Day Trek To Tucson from the end of June to October 1, 2011 sort of sated our travel bug for a bit.

The plan: PAC was riding the western half of Route 66 (Santa Monica to Amarillo) and I wanted to ride the AZ miles with them: Kingman to Seligman to Williams to Flagstaff to Winslow to Holbrook. It would be a great way for Kirk to get to know part of his new state he had not yet met, a great way for me to share with him some of the treasures I had discovered riding with PAC on other tours, and a great way for us to share the retirement joy of freely venturing together, something unknown to us when he was in active ministry having to work all weekends and holidays for 39 years.

I knew about half of the 18 riders ; it’s always great to reconnect and make anew.

The biggest take-aways for me from the 250 +/-miles was the devastating impact of I-40 on the cultural fabric of the lives of individuals and towns who before the decommissioning of Rt 66 in 1985 saw 9,000 cars  A DAY roll through their lives. After the decommissioning of The Mother Road that car traffic plummeted to no more than 50 a day. What does that do to economy? to identity? to sense of purpose? to hope? to creativity?
Our motel in Seligman

Dinner in Willimas

Lunch in Holbrook

In awe, too, of the Rt 66 aficionados and historians all along the eight states and 1,410 miles who are passionate about preserving the lore, the memories, the characters, and memorabilia of a time and place best known to the young today through Pixar’s/Lasseter’s movie, CARS.

Our hotel in Holbrook

Lon (left) and Mark, the Rt 66 historian in Winslow

La Posada--our hotel in Winslow

Our riders rode through chunkified sections of destroyed road, rode where the road should have been, but now sand, hopped barbed wire fences, dined at cafes where the owners remembered the way it was and talked with the barber, Angel, responsible for helping to preserve AZ’s Rt 66.

And then there's the Grand Canyon

Monday, April 09, 2012

Arivaca Permanent

Sometimes it's hard to know if I'm getting more finely tuned or just growing older. Of course, I guess both could be happening concurrently. Which ever it is, my list of bike-related personal "projects" seems to be ever increasing like stars in the heavens on a see-for-ever night.

I currently have three buckets of stars: one labeled nutrition, one labeled exercise induced asthma, and one labeled bike/biomechanics. It seems the three have coalesced adding to my adventures. An exponent to my equation is having moved to Tucson just 6 months ago and needing to re-build a team of holistic practitioners to keep me rolling; an increase of 2,100' of base elevation (Chicago is pretty tortilla-like); I have my choice of mountains to climb on a daily basis; AZ is both dry and hot, the antithesis of Chicago; and I can ride 365.

While a number of the AZ Randonneurs were riding the Easter Fleche somewhere between Flagstaff and Phoenix, I rode the Arivaca 200k Permanent Counter-clockwise. I was really excited to ride the route solo for a number of reasons. It helped a lot that I had basically ridden it Clockwise with Mark Doumas November, 2011 so I had a familiarity with the route. And, this time I would be able to ride Mission Road from Helmet Peak to Valencia DOWNHILL on a freshly paved surface that was absolutely grand. Frankly I appreciated the steepness of the climb much more seeing it rush by me at 30 mph on the descent!

My excitement, too, was charged with the realistic hope that the following tweaks, tips, and trials would make for a triumphant ride. Indeed it was triumphant.

Bucket Number Uno: Nutrition
Thanks to Joanna Chodorowska  my fluid and electrolyte and fueling-on-the-bike is coming together  well: about 10 oz of plain water every 10 miles, 2-3 Endurolytes every hour (probably more as the AZ temps climb), a bottle on the bike with 1 scoop Sustained Energy and 1 scoop Clif Shot Electrolyte replacement powder which I use to wash down the e-caps; a brown rice tortilla with home made guacamole for lunch, Perpetuem Solids (1 or 2 on a 200k), Hammer Gel as needed, 1 bag of Lays Classic Chips, and of course a Red Bull somewhere along the way.

The surprise to me, big surprise, actually, is that the nausea I experience on the bike is how I manifest dehydration. It's, of course, easy to recognize so when it starts to creep up my belly like a pet snake under my shirt, I can quell it with fluids and/or e-caps.

My success after the ride of righting my GI track to be willing to accept solid food again and restore a full tank of fluids and electrolytes minus nausea is still a work in progress. But, certainly I'm gaining on it. Thank You Joanna!!

Bucket Number Dos: Asthma
Joanna "wrinkled my jersey" when she suggested that maybe my asthma was a soy allergy. I abstained for a week before the Arivaca Perm and had NO respiratory distress on the 42 miler the day before the Perm, during the Perm, after the Perm, or on my 37 mil ride the day after the Perm.

Not yet sure if I can credit Soy with that resolution as there were several other "interventions" that I think may get all or at least a bunch of the credit. Need to do a few more tests and trials with the soy thing before ruling it out or back into my diet.
  • I received my new dental appliances from MedicineWheelDental which are truly having a positive impact on stabilizing my jaw, cervical spine, and therefore everything south of that
  • I have found an excellent Tucson-based cranial sacral therapist, a modality that served me so well back in the earlier days of my rehab from back disease
  • Just started working with Maria who has a private practice of Functional Yoga but also works out of Medicine Wheel Dental
  • And Nose Breathing!! Who woulda-thunk??? Maria swears by it, and I must admit I was incredibly doubtful. But after 200 miles of riding as a nose breather, even when climbing, I'm a believer.

Bucket Number Tres: Bike and Biomechanics
I've been riding my Bacchetta Ti Aero for about 1-1/2 years now and I have been continually trying to find the sweet spot with how much recline, how much leg extension, head rest or no, if head rest, which one, on and on. Of course I keep hoping for a "find" that's full of aero-ness and doesn't evoke a bio-mechanical injury, like hyperextension of my leg that took 8 months to heal, or neck pain, or chest compression. I truly believe the seat has had a huge part to do with my seemingly never-ending-saga of one owie after another.

Two days before the Arivaca Perm Maria videoed me riding my B while riding beside me in a pace car driven by Dr. Swidler of Medicine Wheel Dental. There it was in living video. The seat was not my friend, nor were my handlebars which were too narrow for my arms/shoulders.

I rigged up a lumbar thermarest cushion placing it vertically between the carbon fiber seat and the foam seat pad. Velcroed it all together and voila! Had to tweak the recline and the leg extension one notch each in order to accommodate the more forward position. But, my chest is now open, I can breathe freely. OMG, what a grand feeling.

I have ordered a new set of handle bars from Bacchetta (my current ones are 18.75" wide, the new ones will be 22" wide). I'm thinking that will complete my make-over.

As for the Arivaca ride itself, it truly was grand. Ride time for the 131 miles was 8:31, elapsed time was 9:34. Temp at its height was 87.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Gates Pass Triumphant

So you know I've been dealing with some exercise induced asthma (eia) of late. The inhaler helps, but it seems like there should be a more holistic "fix" rather than just going straight for the drugs.

I had a pretty dramatic episode last Saturday on a group ride climbing Pistol Hill which is a hill but not worthy of all my huffing and puffing that wouldn't have come close to blowing any house down. So, when I got home I posted on the Ultracycling FB page and asked for tips, tricks, do's and don't's. Got lots of good suggestion from ultra riders from all over the world (at least the English speaking world) who are way more ultra than I'll ever be. The suggestion I liked least was the one that said I should look at eliminating soy to see if that helped. Soy tea mistos, soy ice cream, and tofutti (vegan cream cheese made from tofu", are all comfort foods and staples of mine. But, I decided to give abstinence a try for a week to see if it made a difference on my 200k Permanent this Saturday the 7th.

I had ridden Gates Pass on February 1st when I did the 200k Perm from Tucson to Phoenix and it was a miserable showing. I remember it well and so decided I'd ride it again today to see if the ultra's  suggestions had an impact.

They did!!!! The suggestions I concentrated on the most during the 2.25 mi climb were:
ride within your lungs
concentrate on the exhale
soy free
use the drugs sparingly
breathing exercises

The two pitches at Ironwood and Oeste set up a wheeze so I decided to take a couple of puffs before I started the Gates Pass climb. There were two lycra warriors coaching their two female pigeons about how to ride the climb. One of lycras sprinted on up ahead, the other lycra in white shorts and white compression socks started up the grade. The females were still getting up their courage which gave me time to take a couple of puffs and start up. Soon I passed white socks who was shocked to get passed. The females were now not visible in my rearview mirror. I passed another male and female; I think she had done the fall over thing going so slow and not able to get her foot out of the cleat. He was brushing her back off and they were now both walking that second to last steep pitch (12.6%). At the top of the pitch that they were walking I did need to stop and catch my breath and take a couple more puffs. The final pitch (10.6%) was then easy.

There were about a dozen riders at the top of the Pass maybe waiting for those I had encountered along the way, I don't know. Most of the assembled and I descended together, they heading north on Kinney for the McCain Loop, I heading South on Kinney to scope out the start of my 200k this Saturday.

I feel absolutely exhilarated by my Gates Pass success/improvement. It's very empowering to see again that I/one/we can make a difference in how our body responds.

I celebrated by not pushing my bod/lungs the rest of the way home, east on Ajo, north on Mission/Grande/east on St. Mary's/through the university and on to home by way of Chipotle.

A very Boo-Yah kind of ride.