Friday, March 8, 2013

The Silly Season

In Game of Thrones they often mutter "WINTER IS COMING" And the old warriors laugh at all the young Crows on the wall who think they know what a winter is like. We have been spoiled the last couple of years in New England. This winter has sunk its teeth into us and is not letting go. A little 3-6 wintery mix turned into 8-12 inches as we all slept. Its gorgeous and magical. Or at least that is what I tell myself. I have been "home" for 8 years. I like the winter. But this is getting silly. People are cracking. Hell, I am cracking. My neighbor was chopping snow off his lawn last week when it was in the 40s. Maybe he knew something. Or is crazy. Last week it looked like we were finally going to get some legit riding in. We had a couple of solid team rides. Strava cocksizing was back in vogue...I bagged a KOM. That in itself should have been a sign that all was not right in the universe.

For the record I am not a strava guy. KOMs are silly in my mind. And as a responsible rider who actually cares about the sport I see the real danger of KOMs. The segment I bagged was one I would call dangerous. Its on a dirt road. Is mostly downhill. There are ruts, potholes and goes by a gun club. A gun club that is pretty busy. Lots of SUVs and pickups. Sensei showed me this beautiful stretch of road about a month ago. I had ridden it a bunch of times leading up to this. I didn't want the KOM for bragging rights. I more wanted to see what my time could be as a gauge of fitness. I don't have a coach. I don't train. I am sure you all find this shocking. What masters racer doesn't have coach? I mean seriously. Its not that the coaches aren't great. Its me. I am uncoachable. My program for 2013 is to do as much fake training as possible. Strava, Sufferfest videos, Epic unsanctioned rides, and singlespeeding. The #CBL is no joke. Living up to low standards takes work.....Dale's Pale Ale only takes you so far as a PED...

My friend DJ Robert is the polar opposite of myself. He is highly competitive. Pretty much the tip of the HUP NE spear during cross season. He utilizes many methods to fuel his performance. We mock him a bit about it. Ok we may heckle him a lot about it. But he seems immune to our comments. But its been a long winter. And I am at the breaking point. Rides and races are stacking up on the horizon like a big day at Mavericks. Singlespeedapalooza is going to be awesome. The Ronde is coming. You can't fake these types of races/rides. Sure you can ride yourself into shape. That works great if you live in a temperate climate. Or the rides/races you hold higher than any other time of year aren't in April. So I took a baby step. I downloaded a Sufferfest video. And I liked it. Don't get me wrong it is horrible. For someone who doesn't train being told to go to 10/10 on the pain scale isn't something that is going to feel good. And these videos take the pain scale and keep ratcheting it up. I hate the trainer but these workout videos actually make the time go by pretty quickly. You get some good euro beats, someone yells at you every 5 minutes or less depending what video you are watching and the video clips of the racing are very inspiring. I have done Fight Club and Hell Hath No Fury. Both are excellent.

The silly season requires some essential tools for survival. The most important is beer. Obviously. The second is lots and lots of layers. It takes me so long to get ready for a ride its ridiculous. But I have a system down. First and most important piece are thermal bib shorts. Amazing. So warm. Then embro. I use a Mad Alchemy warm. It has the right balance of heat for me. I put it on my legs and my back. Nothing feels better than embro on the small of your back. Then I go with vicks for my chest and neck. Some like to put vicks below their nose but that is too much for me. Then pull on wool socks and thermal leg warmers. I am not a fan of tights. I rode all winter with thermal bibs and thermal leg warmers. I find tights too restrictive.

Wool socks are the key in my mind. Then regular shoes and shoe covers. This year I have used gore and they have been great. With that combo my feet have never been cold. Next is a Craft base layer. Long sleeve with a high collar. Then I usually just put a short sleeve jersey on. My HUP winter jacket goes next and is by far the warmest jacket I have ever owned. I bought a pair of Giro gloves at Broadway this year and they have been great. For 60 bucks you get a waterproof outer and a liner. The liner has been good for all but the coldest of days. Most of the time when I have worn both gloves it has been too warm. I have a bunch of winter caps. The Vermarc one is great, the pearl lycra one is great also. Wool caps are sweet. I have become a big fan of neck warmers. You can fashion your own from an old hat. Just cut the top off and voila. Or you can buy one. I have a great one that Matt and Mo brought me from Europe. If you can rock the look a nice scarf is also a good option. Finish it off with eye protection. Even if its not snowing or rainy you need eyewear in the winter. I really have trouble with my eyes if I ride without protection in the winter

The next part of "surviving" the Silly Season is all the plotting and scheming. So many rides and races get cooked up. Our schedule is getting packed. Frankly I get more excited about the Spring races and rides than any other time of year. And with these races comes the prep for them. The Wilcox built me some great "classics" wheels. HED rims, White hubs, Conti tires. I will say I love them. They aren't light. Obviously. But man they smooth out the road. They are wider rims so they make the contact patch of the tire wider. I noticed the difference immediately. I have also been plotting and scheming for sspalooza. I may have put some bizarre bio-pace Rotor Ring on my Zank. Rumor has it I will be able to smash my opponents with the power and efficiency of this Ninja star of death...we shall see. It may be a total disaster. But that is why its the silly season. You are so warped by cabin fever that you start grasping for anything to keep you from going totally nuts. Its still snowing. Any hope of riding in the woods is likely over for the near future. More fender rides. More taking an hour to get ready. More silliness than my addled brain can likely handle...

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