Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Flying, Bikes, Fatties, and Aero-Injustice

Thoughts from a recent flight:

  1. I always get stuck next to the fat person.

  2. Planes should have weigh-ins, then allow a total amount of weight per person. This way, twiggy girls can pack all sorts of extra clothes to keep warm, triathletes can bring their bikes, and obese people can fly—all for the same price.

  3. In #2’s proposal, bodybuilders would be screwed.

  4. Plane seats are quite small, and in the off-season, as per #2’s proposal, all I might be able to bring with me is a bag of dark chocolate M&Ms (yes, they have them now! Delicious!)

  5. Planes are freezing inside, even if you fly between, say, Phoenix and Las Vegas in the summer.

Happy Plane Traveling!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tricks and Tips to Pimp your Tri-Bike on a Budget

You dropped what could’ve been a down payment on a Ferrari a few years ago on your bike. You have no intention of doing that again for a long while (even though you’ve sworn to your spouse many times that the new Felt Carbon DA is calling to you personally whenever you see one).

But lately, even though you’ve bonded with your bike, and its saddle and handlebars have molded to your bum and hands respectively, it’s been looking a little bit…old fashioned.

Cooler looking graphics were introduced this year. New designs touting themselves as more aerodynamic have popped up. Sexier top tube lines have been formed. Instead of focusing on all of these promising-looking new designs, it’s time to concentrate on what you have. It’s time to pimp your bike out and get excited about getting back in the saddle.

Here’s how to recreate that fluttery feeling you had in your stomach every time you saw your bike in the beginning of your relationship:

  1. Give it a name. That is, if you haven’t already. And no, naming it the name with which it popped out of the factory is not acceptable. (Cutie Kuota, Felty…) Something more intimidating, fast, and menacing—like Dominator, or The Silver Bullet—will immediately restore a sense of adventure and mystique to your bike. Can you handle a Silver Bullet? While you’re at it, give it a gender, too. This way, when you’re talking about it with your friends, it will not be an “it”, but rather a “he” or “she”, instantly making him/her more like a member of your family than some outdated object.

  2. Choose a new color scheme. Maybe your bike is already bright yellow, but there are still ways you can detail your baby to give it a whole new look. First, decide what colors you want to race in this year. Then, you can pimp your bike accordingly. Not only will it look great, you will also look most intimidating (and like a pro) when your whole kit matches—right down to your socks. Pick a color and ride with it. (Hot tip: cruiser bike decals are cheap, and come in all kinds of neat designs and colors—like orange flames. Pick some up at your local bike shop and get ready to be envied.)

  3. Change your saddle. Choose a new one in an outrageous color. Yes, your bum might’ve grown accustomed to your old one, but your heart will go pitter-pat whenever you see that crazy orange or pink or blue saddle on your bike, setting it apart from the masses of more conservative black and silver saddles. Terry makes some great pink saddles for women. Fizik has also dabbled in color. Another perk to having an unusual saddle? It’ll be super easy to spot in transition.

  4. Change your handlebar tape. This is the easiest and cheapest way to give your bike a facelift. It can instantly change the look of your bike, and may be the only thing you need to recreate your initial love affair. Fortunately, people have figured this out already, and handlebar tape is readily available in every color under the sun to help you pimp your ride.

  5. Spray paint your bottle cages according to your color scheme. Got a pink saddle, pink flames, and pink handlebar tape? Bust out some hot pink spray paint and paint away! (Assuming you didn’t drop an additional $60 per cage to have carbon fiber cradling your bottles.)

So whenever you feel yourself looking at your bike, and believing that if you dropped mucho dinero on a new tri-machine, consider this: maybe you’re just looking at it the wrong way. It’s not the bike that’s fast, it’s the person peddling it. If Lance got on your bike, he’d surely beat all of your shiny-new-carbon-toting competition. Jump-start your engine by falling back in love with your bike. Give one or all of the tips above a try, and you’ll surely be on your way to a successful season.

Happy Bike Pimping!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vineman Redux


Excitement arose

as we drove and drove

North up and away

for a race last Sunday

Neither of us had ever been

very close to wine country

So when we arrived

we were overcome with its beauty

Twisty country roads took us along

toward the beach for the river swim

would the swim be wetsuit-legal?

wouldn't know until the race officials got in.

Then back off along the skinny roads

in a big arc we went

me noting grapes in rows and rows

coachance figuring where the road bent

Race day could not have been more fantabulous

Parents and a dear friend came out to cheer for us

With "It's my birthday!" on my right calf

the birthday wishes rolled in all through the half

People I passed and who passed me

all yelling cheerfully

Happy Birthday to me, indeed!

PRs all around

for my coachance and me

Fabity fab considering

the course was so hilly!

Then off to the vineyards

to taste some wine

and have a beautiful dinner

I'd go home more refined

(now I know the difference

between red and white!)

A more perfect birthday

there never was

with family, friends, and a race

and, not to forget, some chocolate cake!

Happy Racing!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Tour de France on Your Computer

A friendly heads up (if you haven't already found it).

YouTube user "velo23" has been putting up good videos of all of the stages thus far in this year's Tour de France. So take a break from your work, fire up the YouTube and pretend that you're capable of averaging close to 40mph in a time trial. (Plus, there have been some pretty gnarly crashes. Those are always fun to watch!)

Happy Friday the 13th!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How to Have an Un-Tri-Related Conversation

Admit it, it's hard--especially at the height of your training--to strike up a conversation that doesn't start out or end up about triathlon. Training. Running. Biking. Swimming. Nutrition. Injuries. Given you spend almost every waking hour training, or doing something so you can support your triathlon habit (i.e. the "day job"), it's hard to get your mind away from it.

At some point, your friends will stop talking to you.

Even your tri buddies may grow weary of your conversation. Before you end up discussing how great that last interval was with your bike (whom you've named), consider these simple rules:

  1. Read at least one thing totally un-triathlon related every day. Reading will expand your mind and give you something else to ponder. ("It's Not About the Bike" doesn't count. Try "The Wall Street Journal" or something. NOT the sports section!)

  2. See a movie totally un-sports related. Like the Simpsons movie, when it comes out. Everyone will love to talk about it, I'm sure.

  3. Travel. For reasons totally unrelated to triathlon. This will put triathlon in perspective, and maybe even make you feel a bit guilty about spending all that money on a carbon fiber bike when you see kids who won't even wear their new running shoes because they are the fanciest possession they own.Lake Como

  4. When you're doing your workout, focus solely on your workout. But when it's over, focus on the rest of your day. Yep, you had a great run this morning. Now enjoy the endorphin rush and think/talk about something else. It's over! Talk about this!

  5. Remember: Just because you're not reading sports related magazines, dissecting your last workout, wearing a heart rate monitor, or talking about triathlon, this does NOT mean that you are somehow going to "loose" what you've got, or that you are not a triathlete. The bracelet you've kept on your arm since your last Ironman half a year ago is proof enough. In fact, with a well-balanced life and a healthy perspective on how your hobbies fit into it, you'll become a better athlete. Guaranteed. You'll be happier, less stressed, and your mental game will be right on cue.

Happy Conversing!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How NOT To Swim in Your Gym's Pool

Sometimes, that 4:30am wake up call for masters swimming just makes you want to smash your alarm clock and sleep until 4:30am the next morning. If you have a membership to a gym with a pool, maybe you'll tell yourself you can swim there later. Back to sleep!

But once you arrive at the gym, you remember exactly why you would rather miss sleep to swim masters than do a gym swim. Share this list of NOT TO's with your fellow gym swimmers to ensure a better experience for all (or, heck, post it in your gym and see how long it stays up!):

  1. Do not pee in the pool. It is already uncomfortably hot. You do not need to warm yourself up.

  2. Do not swim breast stroke like you must try to push off of both side walls to make yourself go forward. You will kick someone, and they might kick back.

  3. Do not act disgusted when a swimmer on a kick set splashes your carefully pinned up bouffant. You got in the pool. It has water in it. You are going to get wet.

  4. Do not swim back stroke unless you have the magical power to swim in a straight line, or unless your pool is indoors and you can guide yourself along a crack in the roof. You will run into someone. They might kick you.

  5. Do not try to time your push off with that of the hot triathlete next to you. It is hardly laudable to beat them across the pool when they're swimming an easy 50 and you are sprinting.

  6. Do not steal any pull buoy located on deck in your vicinity. Someone brought it there to use. Just because they don't have it shoved between their thighs at this instant doesn't mean they're not going to use it.

  7. Do not comment on the massive amount of leg hair or "Sasquatch" legs that one female swimmer has. It has a purpose. It is called "drag". She shaves only for races. Capisce?

  8. Do not start up a conversation with someone who is obviously watching the clock. They are on "intervals". They will only have 5 seconds to catch their breath before they go out again. "Hi" is the only appropriate thing to say at this time.

  9. Do not bring your kid and tell him he can play "lie on the bottom of the pool and look up at the swimmers." Yes, it can be amusing. But he also looks like he's drowned, and said swimmers will feel obligated to skip an interval to grab your kid.

  10. Do not try to circle swim. Each lane is good for 2 people only. Split it up and swim back and forth. It's highly unlikely you're going to swim at the same pace as that other random gym swimmer.

Happy Sleeping-In and Gym Swimming!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Underwater Bicycle Racing

Something to consider if you need to beat the heat! Or if you have injured yourself and still want to get the miles in...like pool running...only weirder...

And as an added bonus, you can work on your bikini/speedo tan without looking strange.

Happy Almost-4th-Of-July!