Diary of a self-coached athlete

The past couple weeks of training have been relatively successful. Successful in the sense that I am once again able to be completing workouts. Success has not been marked by extraordinary speed or fitness. That is most-certainly not there, Taking 5 weeks off of everything due to my trouble with the Achilles has been a bit of a rough go of things. Finding routine again though has been good and I’ve had a lot of joy in just getting back into the roll of things.

As I’m not pursuing Ironman in the imminent future, discussion with my coach has resulted in a situation where I’m the one planning all of my own workouts. Steven Lord will still be on-board for occasional discussions and feedback when I solicit it but for 2011 the thinking and planning is once again all mine. I’ll be posting a blog entry similar to this one (without this preamble in future) as an update of my progress in the previous 4 weeks and charting the plan for the next four weeks.

I’ll start with two weekly summaries of the previous two weeks. The focus has been on recovery and getting back into training safely and gradually. It meant that during the first week I only logged 10kms of running over 3 different runs. The second week I logged almost 33kms over the course of 6 running sessions. This was meant to be slightly higher as I had opted to allow myself to try and run up to 70 minutes duration on Saturday on my first run outside. I opted to be prudent and trimmed this run short as I could feel that my legs were getting quite fatigued and I logged only 9.5kms in 52 minutes.


2010-11-15 to 2010-11-21

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Hike 3 km 0:30:00 6 6 6 kph
Run 10.14 km 0:54:00 5:20 5:20 5:20 min per km
Swim 1500 m 0:40:00 2:40 2:40 2:40 min per 100 meters
Weights 0 mi 0:30:00 na na na no pace units
Yoga 0 mi 0:40:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 6 hrs 14min

2010-11-22 to 2010-11-28

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 32.75 km 2:55:00 6:15 5:21 4:45 min per km
Swim 3500 m 1:26:33 3:00 2:28 1:39 min per 100 meters
Weights 0 mi 1:05:00 na na na no pace units
Yoga 0 mi 0:40:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 9 hrs 6min

During this period of time I’ve also done a few things worth noting here on the blog. I signed up to ski the 55km Birkebeiner with a 5.5kg pack like I did back in 2009. This was a very difficult challenge that last time I did it but overall it was a good time. You can read all about that adventure in the world of suffering [here]. To be completely honest, right now I’m in pretty poor shape skiing-wise, certainly no better than the last time I did it. So I’ll be putting in a bit more of a concerted effort in that regard as the race approaches to ensure that I’m not going to be knocking myself out by doing this, I still don’t think it will be easy (nor should it be easy, that’s the point. Borrowing from the theme of a recent post I’ll refer you to Rule #10). I’ve got some company along for the ride on this endeavor as at least Jan and Dave have also signed up for the ultra-long version and I’m sure Stefan, Emily and many others will be joining us for the faster versions of the race in mid-February.

I’m hoping to use XC skiing as a way to improve my aerobic fitness with relatively low impact demands, because doing that on the bike requires too much wall-staring while sitting on a turbo. The fitness has been dropped significantly during my time away with zero physical activity. This was no surprise, but because I want to be careful how I rebuild I’m going to use this form of low impact cross training to beef it up before I expect to be running 50 miles per week. This isn’t an abnormal strategy for me. The following picture is an interesting plot of how the three sports of swim/bike/run (green/blue/red) respectively have helped to total up to 100% of my fitness (y-axis) over the past few years (x-axis). It’s obvious from this chart that each winter there’s a significant amount of cross training that occurs to keep me from going crazy, and then as the cross-training fitness fades away the specificity of the other fitnesses for triathlon rises. The black vertical bar indicates the present time. Remember here that this has erased the information of my overall fitness by normalizing to 100%. You can see that I’ll be developing about 1/3 of my fitness outside of the sports of triathlon before really pouring focus into the run in a way that I never have before (red band gets THICK!). For interest sake I slapped in a bunch of big but totally achievable bike weeks following the marathon to show what would happen if I really focus on the bike during May, by early June I’m likely able to be a pretty focused cyclist again, but it will take almost a month to do it. Patience, patience, patience.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

I’ve also elected to use a Pfitzinger style training plan for my running in the lead-up to the marathon on May 1 (I’ve elected to race the BMO Vancouver Marathon) and so have back-calculated all the dates and plugged in the running sessions along the way with relatively reasonable hypotheses for the training duration and intensity of each. For my first marathon I followed a plan more closely based on the FURMAN FIRST strategy, but based on watching my response to training in the past year I am quite sure that I will respond better to a program with a different style. The Pfitzinger plan is composed of four mesocycles (parts) with different focus along the way and I’ve elected (at least right now – I may change my mind) to try and do the final three stages as close to the plan’s guide as is possible. I have however opted to use a slightly prolonged version of the endurance building phase that is based more closely to what has proven successful during the past year of my running than is set out by the running plan. I’m also very interested in continuing to track my MAF Heart Rate during training to monitor it’s progress as I believe this metric is an extremely important indicator of potential success at long course triathlon. I’ll be tracking this very specifically during the endurance building phases of preparation and then tracking it perhaps a bit less directly when I have to get into the later phases of the Pfitzinger plan. There is a lot of marathon pace running that will occur and if I select run courses intelligently I’ll be able to find myself some periods of good testing along the way during that training. It means training for the sake of testing in the endurance mesocycle and testing for the sake of training in the final three mesocycles. It means I won’t be doing the MAF tests in as controlled an environment and for a full 5 miles as I did this past year. My observation in retrospect is that, even if you try and be controlled, your data is going to be perturbed by all sorts of factors. I’m better off to be more frequently recording data regarding my MAF pace than to be relying on occasional testing metrics. I hope I have recorded my season-worst MAF result of 5:18/km or 8:32/mile during my first (rather short but I believe accurate) test last week since the running has been underway. It’s a far cry from the 4:04 or so I got to at my season’s best pace, but it leaves a lot of room for improvement which in some sense is satisfying. It proves that I am a human being, in discussion with swim coach Matt, this is actually a really healthy thing to learn when your fitness doesn’t immediately matter.

All in all the running program if completed as planned will result in me hitting a running fitness metric approximately 40% greater than I have ever achieved in my life before. I can do that without getting anywhere near the levels of training stress that I endured this past season (because I’m doing it with single-sport focus) so while I sounds like I’m really planning to stretch myself, I am pretty confident that I can do this while maintaining a lot better life-balance than some periods of 2010. My run-training stresses should not exceed what I have done in the past and my overall training stress balance will be significantly easier than this past year. The chart seen here indicates the plan if I am successful in hitting every workout along the way, and because the chronic load (red) is somewhat cumulative in nature, I know that due to the times I come up short in training and have to skip things that this is a best case scenario.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts
click image for larger

Planned training for the next four weeks has been laid out: [in this .pdf file] if you’re interested in looking at it. Rather simply, I’m slowly building a long run on Saturdays, and the first of the runs came up short this past week so it might be the case that this plan is a bit ambitious, I reserve the right to lay off a bit with that progression and not make it up to 20kms before Christmas. Although, if I keep hitting frequency in a similar way to that which I have in the past two weeks (10 runs in 15 days) I think comfortably getting that long run out to 20kms is not going to be an issue. All my running is subject to a strict MAF cap with the exception of the Tuesday night club run where I am free to run as I feel. Cycling is twice weekly along with swimming, and I am hitting the gym twice weekly to work with light weights at 20 repetitions, two or three sets depending on the movement and emphasizing a full range of motion with preference for multi-joint and free weights. This is going well, and is designed to allow me to hit a few weeks of high strength focus in early January prior to the running volume starting to take off. Whether or not these strength gains can be maintained through much of the running focus is questionable but doing this feels like an appropriate response to establish confident and balanced muscles following a period of limping and being lazy.

The performance management chart metrics calculated for this period of time are as follows:

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

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End of SeatoSea Blog

I will no longer be updating my Sea to Sea blog as of the end of September 2008. If you’ve been a regular reader over the course of the past year I suppose I invite you to continue reading what I consider to be my “regular blog” on my “regular website” as I have returned to what we referred to all summer as “regular life”. You can get to there by clicking on www.krabbe.ca

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Back on the Bike

I got the OK from the physiotherapist to get back on the bike after taking a solid 2 weeks off. I’ve done two sweet rides since getting the OK (and raced my first XC race of the season, which resulted in a sore body and did a bit of aching muscle recovery in there too).

The first bike ride was a late afternoon cruise through the river valley on the fixed gear. I filmed three segments of video on the trip and basically now have videographic proof that Edmonton is the best place in the whole world to live between the 10 of September and the 20th of October each year. Other dates are up for debate, lots of Colorado, Wisconsin, Upper New York State and Washington State are in pretty close contention after riding my bike there this summer.

This weekend I also had the opportunity to pay a visit to Rocky Mtn House. Intervarsity Groups from around Alberta have a tradition of meeting up out at Pioneer Ranch camp on Crimson lake on the third weekend of the school year and having a sweet weekend away from school before the homework crunch begins in earnest. I wasn’t exactly up for a day paddling a canoe and didn’t want to risk the possibility of slipping and bracing myself against a fall while climbing a ridge so I opted to take my bike out and go for a ride. I offered to drive a group out to 2 O’clock ridge at the west end of Abraham lake and then proceeded to bike all the way from there back to Rocky Mountain House. The scenery along the whole drive out was spectacular and figured I would be able to see the most of it if I rode point to point instead of doing a loop. I hopped on the bike with my camelback (first time ever riding with a camelback) a couple roast beef sandwiches, 3 bananas and a few sweet and salt bars. The sun was shining and for the first 90 minutes or so I had a light tailwind to push me along. I averaged 35 kms per hour for the first hour, loving the opportunity to ride in the aero-position and looking at the green and gold countryside roll past.

fall ride
fall ride
fall ride
fall ride

All told the trip was 160 kms, yet another century to tack on to the stats for this summer. That makes 18 century rides for 2008, a tough record to break! My ride time was sub 5 hours (4:50 ride time, 5:19 under the gun), I didn’t quite match my performance in east colorado with the total time under 5 hours (4:48 ride time, 4:56 under the gun). The lack of support vehicles meant I needed to stop in at the grocery store in Nordegg to stock up on water (and a pepperoni stick) before heading out on the stretch of road with no services for 92 kms!

josh

This was my first ride this season with aerobars on and I didn’t really consider the ramifications of that until I had proceeded to get an achy lower back and neck. It typically takes a few rides to get those muscles used to the aero position and they typically happen early in April so I’m not in good enough shape to bite off a century anyways. This wasn’t exactly the case, I probably rode aero a bit too much for the first half of the ride as I needed to hop off the bike and stretch out my back with about 40 kms to go.

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Update on the shoulder

The traffic to this website hasn’t really slowed down much since the tour wrapped up more than a week ago. My guess is that lots of the cyclists on the trip got home and are suffering a bit of SeatoSea withdrawal and as a result are poking around online and reminiscing on the memories by reading one another’s blogs. Well I’m in the same boat and have found myself poking around on Flicker and looking at some of the 5000 photos posted there once or twice already. At any rate I just wanted to give a quick update on my shoulder since returning to Canada.

I had my first Physio-Therapy appointment at the University of Alberta’s sports medicine center this morning (it was along the time schedule of Pete VanNoord, Barb Mellema or John Vandersteen… ie. earlier than I would have liked). I have been taking it uncomfortably easy since returning to Edmonton. My arm’s been in the sling for most of the day each day. I have avoided the temptation to do all my unpacking at once. I have been riding my bike a bit, my commuting bike (Fixed Gear) and have been doing so with one hand only. My cervelo has remained in the box (which is partly due to the fact that I’m missing a few parts). My room still has a bunch of boxes in it because I just didn’t want to overdo it right away.

So the message from the physiotherapist is basically that I’ve had enough rest with the shoulder and need to start using it more. I do have a “classic” separation of the AC joint and the step deformity in my shoulder is going to be there for life. I likely do not have a torn rotator cuff (which was questioned by a family friend surgeon) as I still have a significant amount of strength in there. If I can build strength in that shoulder over the next few weeks she’ll write off that possibility but if not she says she has excellent connections through the Glen Sather Center to get that fast-tracked. The separation was so “classic” that she went and got the student interns there to come have a look at it and then showed how pushing my shoulderblade in at the bottom made the step go away. So all the while I’ve been saying that my clavicle is “up”, that’s not as true as this one bit of my shoulderblade that pokes through the middle of my shoulder is hanging too far “down” and makes the collarbone look like it’s too high. Luckily that little demonstration didn’t hurt so bad… some of the other stuff did and wouldn’t have been so happy to have the whole thing replayed for this other guy.

Basically my prognosis is: No running allowed. No swimming. No riding my racing bike but I am allowed to commute as I have been doing. I’ve got to make an effort to sit up straight in my chair with my shoulderblades pulled together and down my back as much as possible plus some similar motions I’m supposed to do every hour of the day. I’m still to wear the sling when transporting myself from place to place but am not supposed to keep the arm supported when I’m at home or doing something. I also have a bunch of strength building exercises to do once a day. The prognosis was good and she’s happy that I will be swimming once again eventually as it should build more muscle in the area. My shoulder bulk is WAY DOWN! from the beginning of the summer (especially in the last 2 weeks I’m sure) and even though building those muscles back won’t erase the deformity it should make for a better shoulder in the long run. I guess I’m not allowed to go the Duathlon route… Triathlon was pretty much a prescribed activity for the long term.

If you’d keep the healing process in your prayers I’d be appreciative. I jarred the shoulder quite bad yesterday and it is still capable of causing a boatload of pain when it’s not happy but on a day to day basis I’m completely off painkillers and it’s not more than a mild ache.

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A first retrospective

The discussion about wrapping up the tour began in earnest on Monday of the final week. At that time it seemed so early to be thinking about finishing things off. I just was recovering ability to shift gears with the correct hand as I recovered somewhat from the bike crash earlier on. While it seemed early to start thinking like that it wasn’t too early at all and now that I’m “off the tour” and won’t wake up tomorrow to a full day of bike riding I’m so grateful that we began that discussion as early as we did. The end was a highlight rather than a downer. When we were camped at Samson State Park (Wednesday Evening) our small group discussed what we’d be taking from the tour. While we did a bit of discussion around the theme the question we were really answering wasn’t “what have you learned” but rather “what did you learn that you’re going to actually remember”. The difference is huge. After spending 9 weeks on the road out of normal routines, normal activities, normal circles of friends, normal sleeping schedules and normal diets… I’ve learned an outrageous amount of stuff.

To start listing all of the little things that I’ve gleaned from this experience is a waste of my time typing and a waste of your time reading. The wealth of experience that the past nine weeks gave to me is very valuable but not all of it really counts. Some of the things I learned while on the trip aren’t particularly valuable back at home even though they were valuable while out on the road.

Back to last Wednesday… our basic conclusion was that it’s going to take a couple weeks and likely a couple months before we can look back on the tour as a whole and identify exactly what it meant for my life.

  • What I learned about living in Christian community
  • What I learned about dealing with physical challenges (huge passes in the mountains)
  • What I learned about perseverance towards a personal goal (riding in excess of 1000 kms in 6 days)
  • What I learned about being a voice for poverty while existing far from it
  • What I learned about perseverance in the face of tough times (shoulder trouble)
  • What I learned about deferring the glory of my accomplishment to one who is greater than me
  • What I learned about “doing” fundraising
  • What I learned about inspiring others and encouragement (cyclists on the tour as well as meeting people and having them suggest they’re encouraged to respond)
  • What I learned about personal relationships as friendships grew quickly within 9 weeks
  • What I learned about integrating new people into a community (60 new riders in Grand Rapids)
  • What I learned about saying goodbye
  • What I learned about taking one day at a time (dérailleur trouble)
  • What I learned about God’s faithfulness to me through a tough week in Nebraska (death of a Grandmother)
  • What I learned about bringing a great chapter in my life to a close (this one is just beginning now)

I’ve written now and again about things that I feel like I’ve really had the chance to grab hold of this summer and I feel like really only a few of these thoughts are fully forming at this point. At this point in time I feel like I can really only give those brief glimpses as to how I’ve personally benefited from the trip. I realize that I basically just said what I feel like I’ve learned about and not even what I exactly learned about it. I just haven’t had enough time yet to process many of those thoughts but do hope to do so and will likely write here in the future some reflections as they become more fleshed out. Or in the world of Len Reimersma, when I’ve got three points about each one.

One other video that’s worth showing though displays the state of my front rim after the bike crash. While it’s mostly funny (the movie that is), that crash really did affect the way this summer wrapped up for me. As I believe I’ve alluded to; even though the crash was lousy it wasn’t all bad.

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Jersey City at last!

The tour wrapped up with a bang on Saturday. I’m going to just give an overview of the riding day itself and will write a bit more as far as reflections on the tour as a whole are concerned at a later date… probably within the week. I’ve switched time zones so it’s past midnight according to my internal clock and have to move my stacks of junk from Calgary to Edmonton tomorrow (Monday) so do hope to get to bed sometime soon.

Saturday we awoke to misty conditions and I headed out of camp with Eritia Smit expecting to be quickly caught by Nathan Beach and Josh Nyenhuis once again who were waiting up with Jim Amels who was joining us again for a final day of riding (he rode Denver to Grand Rapids on the Tour). Setting off in the mist wasn’t bad at all as it kept things cool once again and probably knocked down a bit of pollution from the air as well. True to the pattern of the tour Eritia suffered another flat tyre within the first bit of the ride. This one broke the nice even number of 25 for the summer as she padded her record (most flats by one rider) with yet another notch. While we sat at the side of the road and pumped it up again I fully expected the others to catch us… maybe we’re just too fast.

We had our first of four noteworthy climbs for the day and cruised along a beautifully paved road on the downhill before meeting our first locals out with snacks and drinks for us. It was here that Josh, Nathan and Jim caught up and we climbed “climb #2″ and began the long descent towards the Stumblers Inn. It was curvy, lined with trees and went awfully quick. If you know me or have gotten to know me via my writing this summer you’ll know those are synonyms for fun, fun and fun. From there on out we were basically in one city or another one for the rest of the day. Another church had refreshments halfway down a really steep hill and after stopping for watermelon and cookies we opted to climb back up and do the whole hill in one shot. The cheers were great when we went by as they all knew what we were doing. I once again didn’t have my speedometer but Eritia clocked mid seventies on hers as she followed me down the hill. Now that’s not all that impressive considering the pitch of the hill but consider first that this is in town on a small street so the speed limit was 30 miles per hour. We were speeding by nearly 25 kph or 50% over the speed limit!

The houses proceeded to grow in size as we climbed the last hill of the day and up top there were some fantastic mansions that must have overlooked something, but I didn’t see it. More city riding and another stop for refreshments were crammed in there before we were to approach the “staging ground” for the day where our police escort would start. Having 2 hours of time to cover the next 3 miles we stopped for pizza as was pretty much commanded by one of the locals when he said “New Jersey’s Pizza is way better than Chicago’s Pizza”. I have to admit it was pretty fantastic pizza for 11 o’clock in the morning and did actually compare quite closely with the deep dish pizza we had in Palos Heights Illinois.

After gathering all the cyclists together in a parking lot in an industrial park on the outskirts of Jersey City we were to be police escorted for the final 10 miles to the beach at Liberty State Park. I filmed this video of the mass while waiting to get going; there are a lot of us there in case you forgot how many 200 is.

The ride into the State Park and the beach was great fun and while we weren’t rolling at a very quick pace it wasn’t painfully slow either and the 10 miles seemed to be over in a flash. I filmed 4 videos over the course of the ride. One part as we made our way out of the industrial area. One part as we entered town and all ran a red light with the Policeman’s permission. Another video as we entered the park and I pulled off the path and filmed almost all of the cyclists roll past. The final video is of us at the beach gathered together before hitting the water. Len made a few remarks and we said the Lord’s Prayer together just as we did on the shore of the Pacific 9 weeks prior.

That’s it for tonight. I also stocked up the final photo gallery with shots from the final ride as well as added a couple more photos here and there throughout other albums from the summer. Here are a couple highlights from the beach:

beach
beach
beach
beach
beach

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The final morning…

I stopped by the computer this morning to check if those 2 videos I began uploading to Youtube last night actually ended up online. I guess “eventually yes” is the answer so here they are: #1 is coming down a big hill out of Canaan PA. #2 is a time lapse of us unloading the gear truck upon arrival in Sussex NJ.



This morning is quite exciting… everyone semed a bit nervous as I made my way through the gear truck to grab my bike shorts etc etc. Packing up my stuff was rather easy this morning as my tattered ground sheet from my tent went to the garbage and not to the bag. Also the broken chair I’ve been sitting on since Boise Idaho ended up with a same final fate. That makes for a bag that’s much easier to do up the zipper! Last night was wet and pretty much everything is soaked but there is no rain falling at the moment and the prognosis is for a final day with little rain.

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The Big Day

Friday of Week 9 is a day that people have been talking about now and again ever since leaving the Rockies at the end of Week 4. Today’s ride included the greatest elevation gain of the whole tour in a single day (our detour up Mt Evans was significantly more but was optional). After my 3 hour nap the day before and quite a bit of sleep again at night when things at camp started to get moving around 5:30 am I just gave up trying to sleep, got up, packed up and was in line for breakfast at 6:05 am. I had quite a few comments to deal with from all of the early risers who I like to give a hard time to… and good for them, they were right, it was too early for me to be up.

Josh Nyenhuis, Eritia Smit and Nathan Beach were to be my riding partners for the day and we rolled out of camp around 7:40 am. The very first thing we did was climb a 200 foot hill that was probably an 8% grade and I said to Nathan that this ride was going to be going down in the history books. 30 years out from now when I look back on this tour I won’t be able to remember every day but this one is one I’d remember forever. Indeed that continued to be the case for the rest of the day as there were so many amazing bits and pieces slapped back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

The hills were steep on the uphill and on the downhill and even though we left rather far back with respect to the group we had passed the vast majority of riders within the first 50 kms because we were taking very few stops (well – no stops I guess). After climbing a 1000 foot hill out of Carbondale PA we blasted down through a little town called Canaan which had a huge jail. From there for the next 22 kms the downhills were ever so slightly longer than the uphills and it seemed like I could ride at a blistering pace forever. I still have no computer so I don’t exactly know how fast we were going but it felt faster than whatever we were actually doing. The trees were overhanging the road, the sky was overcast and it was easy to keep the body temperature down. The road was full of curves and I had a fantastic group of riders to push the pace with. I filmed a video of the descent which hopefully will end up on YouTube sometime in the not-so-distant-future.

The road changed from the little two lane with no shoulders and no traffic to a larger highway for the next big portion of the ride. The hills stretched out a bit longer than earlier in the day and it was finally possible to get into climbing mode on each one rather than the pseudo-sprint method of doing the short rollers that we’d been using all morning. Nathan and Josh are on the “leaner” or “more slender” or “lighter” end of the spectrum. (I’m trying to avoid the term skinny because it’s not appreciated even though it might be somewhat accurate.) That means they dropped both Eritia and myself on each of the climbs and we’d catch them on the downhills. Eritia because she is the most aerodynamic person when all tucked in, and myself just because I’ve got body size to my advantage and don’t flutter like a leaf in the wind.

Those longer rollers came to an end with a blazing fast downhill into the town of Milford that went on for a whole 5 miles and I’m sure we did most of it between 50 and 60 kph. We then had a nice flat-ish section along the bottom of the valley and our team of 4 locked into a big line behind myself as we cruised along in the upper 40s (according to the only working computer in our group of 4!). We then checked off our last state-line of the summer entering New Jersey just on the edge of town.

NJ

The last stretch into the town of Sussex included a big climb up to High Point which is the highest place in the State. It was about 3 miles of sustained climbing somewhere between 6 and 7 percent. Almost made me feel like we were in the early weeks of the tour, I forgot what it was like to have a hill go on and on for more than a few minutes. All good things come to an end though and we did summit the pass and were greeted by a little girl (5 yrs perhaps) Anika who was giving out cookies and watermelon and lemonade as she waited for her Mom, one of the other cyclists, to arrive. We probably could have coasted all the way into Sussex from the top of that pass but that wouldn’t be quite as fun as hammering along the road and expending every lastr bit of strength that the day of climbing had sapped from us. Again we tore along down the road with Pieter Pereboom who also does well with the downhills as he’s got body-size to his advantage just like me. I was behind him for a stretch of the downhill that really was crazy steep and could smell his brakes smoking.

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The end of New York

New York wrapped up this morning after about an hour of riding. The weather was cool and the sky was overcast but no rain was actually falling out of the sky although I was prepared with my windbreaker for it to start.

Stephanie and myself were riding along at a good clip and joining other groups for bits and pieces of the road for about the first 50 kms. At that point the road split and the planned route continued flat along the river and the other road went up a hill accopanied with a sign that said “No Trailers Longer Than 102 ft”. Well that seemed like quite an invitation so we pulled out the map and made a detour up and over the mountain instead of continuing straight and flat. The detour paid off and even though we probably added more than 1000 feet of climbing and about 4 miles to the day the view from the top and the great descent made it totally worth it.

The campground had 2 showers and enough hot water for about 20 people… But I was one of the early ones and did get my 30 second splash in the warm water. I then took a 3 hour nap which wasn’t supposed to be 3 hours long but that’s just how it turned out.

The meeting this evening included a bit of sharing from a few riders as well as celebrating communion together. Pastor Len shared a revised version of the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Here’s a link to Wikipedia’s description of the parable. I’m sure you can imagine that the modification was one where some riders began out at the Pacific Ocean, others joined in the Mountains and still others caught hold of the tour near the Grand River. Well the point of the story is that the celebration is the same for us all, that we’ve each in our own way ahd the opportunity to work in God’s field and gratefulness is the response not bitterness. There has been a significant amount of effort being poured into making the end of this bike ride end on a high note rather than a low one. It’s tough to see things winding up but at the same time we have so much to be grateful for and happy about that the sadness that will come with the end of cycling is going to pale in comparison with the joy of seeing this journey through to completion.

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Hills

We’re back into real hills for the first time in many weeks. Upper New York state is living up to it’s reputation as hilly and spectacular.

I woke up with a bit of a sore knee from the previous day’s ride. I think I mashed gears a bit too much trying to get up some of the shorter hills. It’s easier than shifting with my shoulder as it is. I had myself a bit worried I was going to do a number on my knee just to save my shoulder. I was happy though that after an hour of riding things felt miles and miles better instead of worse. Today’s hills were longer and steeper than the previous day’s so I put out the effort to shift properly and took it easy on the knee.

I left camp alone but quickly caught up with Jenna Zee and Heidi Bentum who were rolling along at a good clip. I wasn’t going much quicker than them and when I went by they latched on and followed in my draft. We pulled off the highway and checked out a huge waterfall and then soon were in Ithaca. The town was pretty cool and we stopped along a walking street downtown at a little coffee shop and bakery. We loaded up on caffeine and I bought a whole loaf of Olive bread which I proceeded to chow down on with a lot less help from the girls than I expected. Kinda reminiscent of the pancake breakfast the day before I remounted my bike stuffed full and started out of town. We climbed up the hill past Cornell University which I think would be a really sweet place to study (great bike racing community in the area too according to some locals). When I say hill I mean hill! This part of the country seems to have roads built before people had huge machinery (or at least the road-route, the surfaces are fantastic) and as a result they just run straight up the hills. We all managed up it with smiles on our faces and continued through the hills towards camp.

I have that camera of mine that was smashed in my crash replaced and it is working well except for the part where I want to upload photos from my SD card to the internet. I have to resize them with MS paint before uploading so only a few from today…

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