Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Electric "Racing" Bikes!

Like most-every cyclist, I've been following this Mechanical Doping issue with interest. These things have been showing up quite a bit recently. I was thinking this might be a great business opportunity for non-race applications such as when Mr. Weekend Racer wants to go out for a ride with his wife and still get some training effect (unless you're married to Lauren Hall, in which case you would ride the electric bike). Or for the Ragbraii dude who only wants to train for 10 days and then sit on a bike and drink beer across Iowa.

Then I came across a website for the manufacturer of the Vivax - one such device. Here's their marketing video:

The thing that I find astonishing is that Vivax calls this bike a "Race Bike". I would have thought they would make some very strong disclaimer that their bike is "ONLY FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES" and illegal, immoral and banned for competition. Maybe by "racing" they are thinking of starting a league of overweight old guys like the one demonstrating the Vivax?

It doesn't matter what the sport - there are cheaters. In martial arts, competitive categories are defined by belt color. The darker the color, the more experience. So, for example a yellow belt has less experience than a black belt. But in martial arts, this is purely self-regulated. Back in the day some guys would remain at brown belt for years so that they could go to tournaments and slaughter other guys with less experience and collect trophy's and medals.

I've seen this a ton. I remember fighting a guy when I was a brown belt and then 10 years later having one of my students facing the same guy still a brown belt. I just suggested  "that will make beating him that much sweeter". My guy won. Then I spoke to his instructor, of course it went of deaf ears.

In martial arts, it's almost impossible to get to the elite level and also have low morals. This doesn't seem to be the case in cycling where we are finding this on a fairly routine basis at the highest levels.

The entire cycling community needs to boycott this company and ridicule anyone who buys one of these POS's.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

I'm a British Sprinter and I Can Bloody Well Prove It!

I'm adopted. I've known this all my life. My adoptive parents made it a point of telling me the story of "our family", and how they were on an adoption waiting list when my father received the call that a baby boy was born at Miami Beach hospital. My mother was visiting family in Iowa and she rushed back to Florida. They took me home at the ripe old age of 4 days old.

We used to have a box of 8mm movies that they filmed of bringing me home from the hospital, my first bath, and my first birthday. When my parents were divorced when I turned 4 and my mother moved us back to Iowa to be closer to family. Every once in a while we would set up the movie projector and watch the old movies of "me".

So being adopted has never been a big deal in my mind. I've never felt different or special because of it - other than when I have to answer health history questions and don't know any family history. This has caused me to get more frequent routine testing like colonoscopies and prostate exams.

The other BIG thing about not knowing my genetic history is that none of my children know anything about their paternal history. Again, nobody seemed too bothered about it. It's just part of "The story of Us".

But lately I've been hearing about a couple of companies that do DNA testing. It's pretty simple and affordable. So I decided "why not" and laid down the $199 for a test kit from 23 & Me.

The kit arrived a week or so later. You give a saliva sample by spitting into a tube, seal it and send it back in a self-addressed box. The results come back in 6-8 weeks.

So, while I have been waiting for the results these past few weeks, the anticipation has been steadily growing. I've even watched a few YouTube videos of other people reviewing their results. Most of them have genetic history the is spread across multiple regions. 20% this, 10% that, 1.2% another thing, 0.6& something else.

I didn't really care what my race or ethnicity origins were, I was just hoping that I had a majority of one thing, so that I could say "I'm French, or English, of African, or Chinese".

Most mornings when I wake up the first thing I do, even before I get out of bed, is open my smartphone and scan through my email - which is what I did yesterday morning and noticed a note from 23 & Me with the subject line that read "Your results are ready!". So, after a quick shower, I sat down with my cup of coffee, opened my computer and prepared to, at age 56, find out who I am. Pretty crazy if you stop and think about it.

There are 67 different reports. The categories are: 1) Carrier Status 2) Ancestry 3) Wellness 4) Traits.

Of course the big one for me is Ancestry. As it turns out I am 97.7% British! When I saw that, my though process went as follows:

1. 97.7%? That's basically 100%. I'm a Brit!
2. That means my mother and father were 100% British too.
3. That probably means that I was not a random conception.
4. Maybe my parents were married?

I mentioned earlier that I didn't know anything about my birth parents but that isn't entirely true. I remember my adopted mother telling me that my birth mothers' name was Andrea Pennington.

Pennington! That's English/British! So, I went to the Internet and Googled "Pennington Origin"

The result was more than I ever wanted to know about my family.

As it turns out, the Pennington's were from England. Eventually they migrated. Some of them went to America.  Others went to...take a guess? Yep - Brittan.

So my ancestors moved from England to Brittan and I have DNA genetic proof.

In one day I went from knowing absolutely nothing about my ancestry to knowing more than probably 90% of the rest of Americans.

Might be time to trade in my German BMW for a British Aston Martin.

I mentioned earlier that I received 67 reports. Here is an example of just one. As it turns out, I'm a Sprinter. Imagine that?

Pennington Family Crest
Family Crest

Friday, April 8, 2016

I'm Not Your Father

Father Louie Sarducci

Last night while I was grilling, one of my neighbors walked by and stopped to ask what denomination pastor I am? You see, it's chilly here in San Diego and my favorite go-to jacket was a gift from my wife and I were it all the time. It is a black jacket with a silver/white cloth pull strip on the tip of the zipper. I usually wear it fully zipped, so at first glance it kind of looks like a clerical collar.

I often get double takes from people when I am wearing this jacket. People smile extra and sometimes they even defer to me when walking into a room. Then I can see them realize that it's just a regular jacket and I'm just a regular Joe.

What was extra interesting about last nights' inquiry is when he continued by saying that he assumed I was a Catholic Priest because he noticed that I was smoking a cigar and drinking a glass of red wine last Sunday afternoon.

Gluten Talk

In an attempt to humor my wife I recently had some DNA testing for gluten sensitivity. This whole gluten and lactose thing get's the eye roll from me. I think it's just the latest problem for a bunch of whiny people who don't have any real problems. My symptoms are that I feel very full and sometimes bloated after eating anything that contains wheat. Actually, I don't eat a lot of wheat. Very little bread, almost zero pasta. I do enjoy an occasional pizza. So I expected the test to come back negative.

There are three general areas of DNA in this test. According to my doctor (John Tait by the way. Super sharp doc if you're looking for a sports doc), if you are positive in one of the three areas then you probably get some discomfort from gluten. Positive in 2 of 3 and you definitely are sensitive. And finally, if your are positive in all three you are very sensitive and bordering on Celiac's disease.

Here are my results:

So, since last November I have stopped eating wheat. I know that gluten can be found in lots of other foods such as corn. In fact, anything containing a seed has some gluten. But for me, I have found that my symptoms are diminished almost completely by simply removing wheat from my diet.

I think that one big mistake that gluten sensitive people make is to go to a specialty shop and by a bunch of "gluten-free" foods that have the wheat removed and replaced with something else - usually manufactured.

The one exception that I've made is gluten free pizza crust. Believe it or not, Sauce Pizza makes a pretty good gluten free pie.

And since I now take a pass on the 1000 calorie basket of bread appetizer offered at many restaurants, I've lost a few pounds.

But mostly my quality of life has improved and that is great!

Yes, my wife is wise.

I'm thinking of buying a hat to match my jacket
(just to wear on Sundays, of course)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Time Away

Last week was supposed to be a rest week. Instead, I raced at San Dimas, if you could call it that. Actually, I stunk the place up. It's an excuse really. If I had wanted to do well there, I would have simply adjusted my training schedule. Sometimes my joy of riding gets in the way of my joy of winning. More miles don't always equal better fitness.

After seeing the results of stage 1 and finding my name in 13th place and over 2 minutes down, I decided to pack up my marbles and go home.

It seems early in the season to be hitting the reset button but I've been going hard since December and am feeling like a mental break is in order. So, I'm off the bike for a full week. Actually, just because of travel, I will be off the bike for 10 days.

So, I'm hanging out in San Diego on the boat. Even though I'm not riding, there is still plenty here to keep me busy. I was planning to take a quick trip up to Catalina Island this weekend but the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Rain and fog mainly. I'm not opposed to cruising in either, but since it was going to be a quick trip, I decided to stay closer to the bay. I reserved a mooring at La Playa and am going to spend the weekend at anchor.

Yesterday morning it was bright and sunny. I set out for a 5 mile walk. As I was walking the fog came in. You could just see it creeping over Point Loma, and within 15 minutes the fog had taken over the bay. It happens just that fast. This morning I woke up to rain. Nothing better than being on a boat in the rain.

This weekend is The Master's Golf Tournament. Actually it started today. I can watch The Master's for 4 days straight.

I live on a small man-made island (peninsula) called Shelter Island. The whole island is only 1/2 mile long and 250' wide. I keep my boat (Joyride) at The Bay Club Hotel & Marina.

Here's another picture of the Island. The first long dock coming into the yacht basin (lower left in the picture) is the US Customs station. So, every vessel that comes into the US from anywhere south has to stop here to obtain permits to enter the country.    

Directly across the street from Bay Club there is a public dock with a ramp and public benches.

Every afternoon there is a homeless guy named "Rick" who shows up on his bike to feed the birds and drink malt liquor from 32oz bottles in a plain brown bag.

Rick has been feeding these birds for so long that they are almost like pets. Notice on the pillar of the shelter, Rick has installed 1/10 perches so that the swallows have somewhere to stand while they eat the bird seed that he places there.

Rick said that one of the local restaurants on Shelter Island saves their stale bread and donates it to him to feed the pigeons.

Below are pictures of the wall of fog that descended over Point Loma Wednesday around noontime  

Within a couple of minutes you could not see the condo's in the picture below.

San Diego is home to the World's Largest sport fishing fleets. This is just one dock full. There are approximately 50-75 of these boats. Each day they are loaded with 50+ people that they take on half-day and up to week long excursions.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Stinking The Place Up

San Dimas is one of the higher level races that this little Midwestern boy has attended. In some ways I'm slightly star struck. This is mainly a pro race but they've allowed a very few amateur categories to also participate - including Masters 35, 45 & 55+. The 45 & 55+ masters are racing together, but scored separately. Usually that spells "cluster-you-know-what". You hope they separate the numbering convention so that you can tell who you are actually racing with. But it's almost impossible, especially for someone like me who is not familiar with the national-level competition.

But at this race, not only did they use a different numbering convention for each category, but the actual paper that the numbers are printed on is in contrasting colors So, the 45+ have neon orange numbers and the 55+ are bright yellow.

Stage 1 is a challenging 4.2 mile uphill TT. It goes up a twisty section of the San Gabriel Mountains. We were sent off in :30 second intervals; and yours truly drew the very 1st starting position. I'd rather have a couple 2-3 guys in front of me to chase, rather than be chased, but in the end it's a race against time.

Going into the weekend I was not at all sure about my fitness. I really was due for a rest this week, but tried to squeeze out extra week because I really wanted to do this race. So I rode hard last Saturday and then have been taking it pretty easy this week. It's tricky trying to stretch a fitness period, at least for me. I'm either under trained or over trained.

Stage 1 Race Report
My start time was 11:32am. I was up really early due to some jagmo's in the motel room next to me that decided to have a little pow wow at 4:30 am. I laid and listened to it for about 20 minutes until I was fully awake and then called the front desk. They never did quiet down, but stuck my ear buds in and managed to fall asleep for another hour until 7:00am. Then I hit a Starbucks for coffee, oatmeal and the morning news.

I felt good warming up. I have a pretty tried and true pre-race warmup. After putting my trainer away, I rolled up to the starting area. One of my biggest dilemma's today was what gearing to use. The climb undulates between 5-9%. I opted for a 25X11. I had a 28 in the truck but decided that if I was going slow enough to need it, that would mean I was not in the hunt anyhow. This follows my philosophy that there are only 2 places in bike racing - 1st and everything else.

As of now 1:00pm all I can say is that today, I placed in the "everything else" position. In fact, I felt great. And my power/heart rate numbers were better than I expected. But, I was passed by my :30 man and then to add insult to injury, about 500 meters from the finish, I was also passed by my 1:00 man. Looking around, I notice there are lots and lots of stars, bars, and rainbows on jersey sleeves. Compared to a real climber, I pretty much stunk up the place.  

On the bright side, tomorrow is a new sunny day - and  new adventure. I am no longer racing for the General Classification. But there are stage wins, climbers jersey, and sprinters jersey still up for grabs.

I've been racing a lot of years. I've enjoyed more than my fair share of success. I've raced with guys who get so mad at their results that they swear, throw their bikes, cuss out the officials, and make tons of excuses. For me, bike racing is still fun. I win some and I am humbled by some. In some ways, cycling is like golf. You can completely shank 4 strokes in a row, and then just a soon as you start to get discouraged, you hit the perfect shot, and suddenly the clouds disappear, and the cherubs start plucking their harps.