Sunday, April 24, 2016

Big Dumb Ride Prep

Looking at the calendar, there are 5 training weekends remaining until my long (100mi) charity bike ride (hereafter dubbed the 'Big Dumb Ride').  Normally this ride is later in June, allowing a later start to training, but they've moved it forward to avoid other conflicts.  I signed up knowing this, of course, and hoped that the March and April weather would let me get out and get some miles in.

Some background:

  • I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never done an Imperial Century (i.e. 100mi - a 'Metric Century is 100km).  
    • This is a rite of passage for many bikers, and a lot of guys do multiple Imperials per year. Now in my 8th biking season, I've never done a single one.
    • I've been close a few times; my longest ride is 75mi and I've done several metric centuries, plus a Half-Iron distance Swim/Bike event where I swam 2000m and then biked just short of 100km with one short rest break.
    • I've had several attempts thwarted by weather, injury (I almost scrubbed my entire 2014 season due to lower back pain) or making a snap decision early in the day to ride with family instead of scooting off on my own.
    • The past 2-3 years, I've focused on triathlons. Biking is my favorite, but with swim+run events to consider, training time gets sacrificed.  More, the TYPE of training that I do tends to be different, since my Tri events are far shorter (14-26mi), the training I do is more to prepare myself for a sprint and then manage the transition to jogging after.
  • This season, we have no, zero Triathlons on the calendar.  This is intentional.  If I miss my goal in June, there are 2-3 other events I could jump on to knock the Imperial Century off my bucket list.
  • The BDR is not a timed event (i.e. not a race) but there is a time limit to how long the venue will be open, and the longer I'm on the course the more weather plays a variable (in particular, wind is typically worse as the day goes on). So I want to turn in a decent average speed (and besides, going slow sucks).
  • We've done portions of the BDR in 2009, 10, 11, and 12, but due to cost and other commitments we haven't been back since then.  
  • I want to finish in good form, not just limp across the finish line and need help to get to the car.  On a perfect day, I could probably do 100mi right now.  Having some reserve strength will help me get past whatever the weather happens to be that day; and after 2014, I don't want to risk any sort of injury by being stupid.
Early march weather was fine; above average even.  But late March and most of April have been pretty poopy.  I don't deal well with biking in the cold, and although I got some time on the spin bike at the gym, my mileage overall was far below what I'd planned

That being said, I started the season stronger than any other season to date.  Dropping swimming in late winter let me focus.  Time on the indoor bike on the gym reduced the amount of 'acclimation time' to my bike seat (aka sore ass).  In 2014 and into 2015 I made several minor changes and adjustments to my bike's equipment and setup, and although my bike isn't the quickest/lightest/sexiest carbon-fibre beast out there (it is, in fact, a steel framed Italian bike designed for fast touring on questionable roads), I have never felt more confident on it.  Things just 'clicked' when I grabbed it off the wall this spring.  So, despite not hitting all my goals, I am better and stronger and in better condition of any biking season to date.

Looking at the calendar, it's make or break time.  Either I'm going to get the training miles or I'm not.  If I'm not, then I should admit it now and enjoy sleeping in on the weekends while I can.

However, last weekend the weather finally cooperated and I set out to extend my mileage and make up for lost time.  It was a COLD morning (46 deg F), but the temp raised 20 degrees while I was out and I was hot by the time I came in.  I turned in a 41ish mile ride with a decent average moving speed. I wasn't out to set speed records but was happy with the pace.

This week I set out for a 50 mile ride as the next stepping stone.  I left my driveway this morning (Sunday) a little before 8am and followed a slightly modified course to get the additional miles.  Temperatures were about the same - a chilly 46 deg at the start - but I was better prepared and broke my thermal gear back out of the closet.  Wind was far different - last weekend there was almost none, just a whisper from the NE; this weekend was a steady 10mph SE at the start that shifted to a 15mph straight out of the south by the time I was coming back home.

The grind home today was a rude surprise. Weatherbug had predicted steady 6-8 mph SE winds shifting South throughout the day.  I set out knowing I'd be returning into the wind, but 6-8 is very manageable.  However, the wind was actually double that (confirmed when I got home). The crops of course aren't in the fields yet and the area I was in was flat and bare - the wind simply howled at me and all I could do was pedal on.  At a few points, the wind funneled between trees and I'd drop into granny gear just to keep moving. Although it wasn't the worst wind I've ever ridden in, the amount of time I had to keep at it really wore on me.

Today I finished 50.3 miles with an avg moving speed only slightly below last week. I'm happy with this, considering the ~15 miles of grinding I did in the wind.  Garmin says my avg HR was 150 (146 in my 'all day' target) and I burned 1637 calories.  This represents the longest unsupported (no chase car, non-event) ride that I've ever done.  It's the 4th longest ride I've done since I got my Garmin in 2013, displacing last weeks' ride for that spot.  Training wise, I finished strong and could have done another 10-15 if I'd had to, though I would not have tolerated more time into the wind very well.

Next weekend my folks are in town; with an appointment on Tuesday and weather turning to shit on Weds/Thurs, I may not get a ride in at all.  But if I get lucky, I hope to add another 5-10 to the course and maybe even push for a metric century (100km, 62mi).

Friday, April 15, 2016

Chainsaw Therapy

Chainsaw Therapy is a category of yard work that I put under the category of "tedious, exhausting, and often good for the soul."  It started with any sort of literal chainsaw duty - with hearing protection on and the noise of the saw, you're alone with yourself inside your head for the duration.  While one part of my brain works on the puzzle of the task at hand (like how to safely knock over a very heavy tree without catching power lines, the house, etc.) the other part of my brain is chewing on EVE issues or work issues or whatever has been keeping me up at night.

Chainsaw Therapy is an expression I use with friends and often get blank stares in return.  Many folks don't get it.  I enjoy being outside, doing something manual, and losing myself within it.  For many, the only reference to a chainsaw is the one in DOOM or a random zombie movie.  These are the ones that might respond with a bad pun or a comment so idiotic that only demonstrates their lack of knowledge.  (These are the same people that seem to believe the scenes in the movies that show a 12ga shotgun knocking people backwards several feet with the kick, sigh).

But a few understand.  Usually people with property or farmers.

I took today off to work around our 10 acres.  I started the morning with a pot of coffee made from my special, expensive, and utterly delicious Hammer 53x11 coffee instead of the usual Folgers.  I drank coffee and made a list on an 8.5x11 inch piece of printer paper, folded in half.  The to-do list ended up taking up 2/3 of the half-page and resulted in 2 columns of tasks.  By 8, I was headed to the garage and began working down the task list.  I picked up sticks by the armload (thank you, wind storm), fertilized the lawn, seeded a bare patch, plugged a hole in the pole barn foundation where critters had been getting in, pruned several trees, mowed 2 1/2 acres, and a half dozen other tasks. I stopped only for a couple of breaks and took a 45 minute lunch (egg and cheese burritos, yum).  I'm now sitting on the couch, exhausted, happy, empty beer bottle next to me, and maybe a little sore.

But my mind is free, and my mental burdens seem lighter.  Chainsaw Therapy works, more people should try it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

EVE Revenues Down

Saw this on MassivelyOP.  Link HERE.

Hat tip to marketsforISK blogger croda for digging into CCP’s 2015 financials, which were released to the public at the end of March. The good news is that CCP posted record post-tax profits of $20.7 million in 2015. Even if we exclude the one-off sale of the World of Darkness franchise, this a record year for the company, particularly since 2014 saw heavy losses.

The bad news is that studio revenue is down 16% since 2014, thanks largely to a decline in EVE Online, whose revenues are down to their 2009 levels. In fact, croda extrapolates a 16% subscription dip for EVE.
Edit:  Sorry for the horrible formatting.

Friday, April 1, 2016

And Then it was April

Things continue to shuffle along here.  The pace at work has slackened just a bit, and a few things that were hard for me a couple months ago are now getting easier with additional experience.  With the spring thaw has brought the return of yard work, and although I enjoy being outside a great deal, it's also a distraction.

I should have started an 8 week bike training regimen this week and I did pretty poorly.  I actually haven't biked (indoor or out) for over a week and a half.  Random weather and a sudden work commitment kept me grounded this week.  Wednesday was absolutely fantastic weather, but I opted to re-mount the mower deck and spend an hour mowing an acre out front that gets ahead of everything else.

I'm actually off work today; it's a premeditated vacation day with the intent of accomplishing more random things in 3 days than I could realistically hope to get in 2.  With the forecast, today was chainsawing and brush hawging until the rain came around lunch and drowned me out.  This afternoon we'll off for errands and a late lunch at a local diner we found a few weeks ago.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a 35-40 mile bike ride to jump start my training regimen, I need to pick a route that takes into account the amount of wind I suspect we'll get.  I hope to collapse in a heap afterwards.

Sunday's task will be to light the pair of brush piles I've built and toss on all the stuff I cut this morning.  Sounds simple, but will be 4-6 hours outside eating smoke.  Oh, and somewhere in there, I need to clean the gutters and pile some gravel in the hole the raccoons are using to access my pole barn.

This has left precious little time for EVE.  This year has warped past me at a blistering pace; I can't believe it's April already.  I've been in game a few times to try to keep some plates spinning, and I'm trying to follow the onslaught of the Imperium war, but most things I need to do within the game involve a lot of time investment.

Oh wow, now it's hailing outside.  We came inside just in time. :)

Alpha State

"Everything that has a beginning has an end."  That's one of my favorite quotes from the Matrix 2.  It has to do with the ...