Athens and Cycling

Some of the places I’ve lived and trained on a bike:

The flag tells it all for a cyclist.
Seriously, there’s some $$$ around here

Savannah, Georgia, Easton, Maryland, and New Hope, North Carolina, are all coastal cities. The cycling there is primarily flat. There’s wind, but there are no hills. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania there’s not much wind, there isn’t a level road in the city. In Pittsburgh you are screaming in pain on a climb or screaming in terror at 48 – 52 miles per hour going downhill. Cleveland, Ohio, where I lived near Lake Erie is flat. Kennesaw, Georgia has rolling hills and not much wind.  Augusta, Georgia and Statesboro, Georgia had some hills and were easy on the wind for cycling.

Athens is unique.  Athens has nice rolling hills with some decent climbs – nothing of the Pittsburgh caliber. What is unique is the wind.  There’s always wind. The wind here is practically coastal in nature.

On some rides, you just have to stop and smell the cow sh.t. We’re surrounded by cattle. (Better cows than cars)

Wind is an environmental element that anyone who plays outside must deal.  The only times, it seems, when the wind is calm are at times like these when I’m typing, glancing out the window, and see no limbs or leaves moving.  Of course!

Grandkids – Common Denominators

Doing anything over and over becomes mind clearing if not mind numbing.  When I ride a bike my mind clears and I think of all sorts of things.  I’ve thought up inventions and written papers while riding a bicycle.  I also formed ideas or plans that were left on some road not making the trip home. The same is true with archery.  Those between ends times walking back and forth to pull arrows are intervals where ideas pop into my head.

Recently, while walking on my 3D range my grandkids popped into my thoughts.  All are under the age of 10. I began thinking about the common denominators among them.  This is what I came up with:

  • They are at full speed or eating,
  • Conflict is a reflex,
  • They’re not having fun until someone is bleeding.

If you have young grandkids, perhaps those three common denominators are applicable.

Range Time

In any sport training needs variety to keep the athlete fresh.  Archery is probably the least exciting when it comes to practice of any sport I’ve done.  Football was always exciting.  Practice typically meant some form of hitting.  Same with karate. Cycling, running and swimming can become routine. There are plenty of new trails and roads to keep cycling and running fresh, as does changing intensity and training solo or with a group.  Swimming can be mind numbing especially when your goal is some long swim, only.

But, archery is in a class of its own.  Archers frequently practice alone often in their backyards.  Shoot over 100 arrows a day for years at 20 yards and you’ll understand routine. You’ll also be really good at 20 yards.

Fortunately, I’ve had and still have a range.  In fact, I have two, one for 3D and one for dots.  Everyday I practice on those ranges.  To mix it up I lay out specific practice goals. Believe me that helps.

Archers that live in cities and rely on indoor ranges, public outdoor ranges at parks, and backyard ranges have grit.  They have discipline and often a little extra cash for range fees. For those archers that live in the country and have enough property to create our own ranges count your lucky stars.

5K: Starts at 8:30AM

On Sunday, Brenda and I generally head to Clark Hill Lake and visit her dad. This Sunday was a little  different.  There was also a race on this morning. Most of the races I run are on Saturday. This race was on Sunday. Brenda questioned the timing.

“It’s only a 5K. It starts at 08:30. The drive is 28 minutes, I’ll be home by 09:30, ” I promised.  “Okay, but we need to leave by 10:00,”  I was warned. No problem.

I promised, I’d run, cross the finish line, keep running to my truck, hop in and drive directly home. It didn’t matter where I’d finish, top 3 or not, I’d skip a possible award. I just wanted to run a closed course, on trails, against other runners and hard.

The next few sentences in quotations are directly from the race information page:

“5K: Starts at 8:30AM

Shirts and Goodies: Shirts are guaranteed to those who register by 4/6/19.  Those who register after that date and on race day are not guaranteed a shirt or size.  There will be plenty of refreshments.  Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers. “

I made plans to arrive at the race by 08:00AM, be parked, have my race packet in hand, warmed-up, and on the race start line by 08:25AM.  At 08:25AM I was exactly where I’d planned to be and standing near dozens of other runners.

The race, advertised to start at 08:30AM was initially a little late. At 08:30AM the race’s master of ceremony began her speech.  There’s always a speech.  When she’d finished talking the crowd gathered for the run would get to hear another speech. The time was now 08:38AM.  The clock was ticking – still no problem getting home by 09:30AM.

Runners were starting to squeeze toward the start tape. Some were beginning to bounce in place.  I was eyeing a lane along the right of the crowd and beginning my inching forward. Minutes to go and we’d be off.

The next speaker was a local hero and executive with some organization.  I know he was an important local hero because the informed the crowd of his unparalleled greatness.  When he finished speaking he returned the microphone to the MC. She puffed up a bit more, not to be outdone by the guy who’d orated to his captive audience the magnitude of his position and sacrifice.  When she paused for a breath it was 08:50AM. I was thinking, if the race started right now I could still be on the road to the lake by 10:00AM.

The standing herd of human would be runners had been held in place behind the 5K start line now for 20 minutes.  For many of the standers it had been longer.  Quite a few standers began standing behind the 5K start line before 08:30AM, in fact, I believe 100% of them where behind the start line before 08:30AM. The standers mostly had supposed they’d turn into runners at 08:30AM.  So, far no one was running. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

The MC then shared sad news. There was a major set-back, the Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers were AWOL.  Certainly, everyone was assured, the ‘Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers’ would arrive soon. Once they reached the start line the Zumba  Crunch Fitness Trainers  would lead the runners in a 10-minute warm-up. Afterwards the race would be off.  (She, the MC, gave the crowd a “WooWhoo!” of encouragement. No one was smiling. There were no echoed “WooWhos”) I began an internal debate associated with timing.

In England, near Hertfordshire, I ran a 10K.  The race was scheduled to begin at 09:00AM.  There was a warm-up.  The formal group warm-up started at 08:30AM in order to have the race start time of 09:00AM  strictly obeyed.  Before that warm-up time, at 08:28AM, the woman in charge called over the loudspeaker to the milling about crowd, “Okay, Sarah (I don’t actually recall her name) is going to begin our warm up, everyone form UP.” The word UP being issued as a command.

The crowd of around 200 Brits created a military formation, squared, and stood  at parade rest in less than 2 minutes. It appeared the locals had trained for the maneuver.  It would have made any “Tommy” proud.

The British are the World’s masters of the queue. I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing an English crowd queue more than once.  It is truly impressive.  The warm up formation was even more complicated than a simple queue yet handled with ease and confidence. Such order will never be duplicated by us American cousins.  This is the home of the free and unruly – at least by standards of the Crown.

At 08:30AM, in England,  the warm-up began.  By 09:00AM the 10K was underway. Note: I was the one with the funny accent. Back in America, Southern accents and sweet tea are more common.

On this deadline crunched Sunday in Georgia there remained a notable absence of the ‘Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers.’ I hate  standing around waiting, especially when I have other plans and the wait is unwarranted. I, for one, could care less about the marketing of some Zumba and Crunch Fitness Trainers’ organization.  I promise I’ll not be joining.

At 08:55AM my plan was to have completed the 5K and be sitting in my truck preparing to put the key in the ignition. Instead, I was at the race registration desk. My internal debate finished I knew the 10:00AM departure from home to the Lake would be missed should I wait for the Zumba and Crunch Fitness Trainers.

I returned my race number and let the race’s official girls at the desk I was leaving because I could wait any longer.  Perhaps, it is more correct to call the desk officials young ladies.  For certain, they were young and female.

To them, those desk barricaded officials wearing matching t-shirts,  having iPhone focus, with their air of authority and youth, I explained I understood the race, the 5K,  “Starts at 8:30AM”. That the race had yet to begin and I needed to leave. I was returning my race number in the event post-race officials tallied numbers and might find one missing.  I didn’t want anyone to fear a runner was lost or worse on the course.

One official young lady at the desk looked at me, alarmed from her iPhone by the interruption.  Once again, I explained my need to withdraw from the 08:30AM race while pointing toward potential runners corralled at the start line. Gaining her connection with a live speaking person, gathering her thoughts, she  told me, “No, it is going to start at 09:00AM, after the warm-up.” It was minutes before 09:00AM and the ” Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers” remained a broken promise.  It was time for me to depart before my thoughts began their exit from my mouth.

As I was driving my pick-up truck away from the race I looked over my shoulder toward the start line.  There an eager race crowd waited for Zumba.

Before writing this I triple checked the race time.  The official publication for the event reads, “5K: Starts at 8:30AM.”  I lifted the “5K: Starts at 8:30AM” directly from the official race registration form.

The race two weeks ago, another 5K, was cancelled.  I learned of that cancelation the morning of the race.  The race before that one, two weeks in advance of the cancelled event, did start nearly on time.

The entry fee for these events isn’t too costly, around $25.00 each.  The money often goes to some charity.  I know because there’s always someone bragging about his or her involvement in the charity and how important it is for everyone running be aware of race’s cause.

I suppose I’ve heard enough.  See, I no longer care about your cause, mission, crusade, or passion as associated with a race.  I just want to fork over my $25.00 and enjoy a run.  I’m glad the entry fee helps you and your soul’s work. I’ll gladly pay the fee to run.  I don’t want to hear your mission statement or your testimonial.  But, most of all I want to the race to start on time. Oh, and if you cancel your event, I want my money back. There’s another charity and self-important MC all too happy to accept it.

 If you’re doping to get a $2.00 medal – you are an idiot.

While cycling over the past few days I was daydreaming about racing.  Recently, I’ve been looking at times (results) of cyclists and duathletes in my age group. Even though I’ve not raced a bike in a few years I think about racing. Man, the times for some of the results I’ve found are incredible.

If I did a bicycle race it would be a time-trial, an individual event, to reduce chances of crashing.  Crashing hurts and could impact archery as well as my body.

The last purely cycling race I did was in North Carolina.  It was a time-trial.  I knew my expected time before going into the race and knew those practice times would be practically unbeatable.  In the race, I held my time and still got beaten.  It wasn’t even close.  The fellow that won was a complete animal.

At a recent 5K, I did win that race; the second fastest time of the day came from a fellow nearly 10 years older than me (I’m 64 in a few weeks.) That was simply amazing.  This old fellow smoked many high school track runners.

Thinking about racing I measured results of people in my age group at major events against my times.  I did fine against those posted results until around the 4thplace.  Then, the top finishers had faster times.  Not at all events but at some I found results online of men in their 60s who were as fast as pros racing the Tour de France. Dang!

Well, not dang but dope.

Over the past couple of years the USADA has busted 56 cyclists for doping.(1)  Fifty of them are in the Masters division with an average age of 50 years old. (1) By the way, 2 archers were also busted over that time frame. – they weren’t Masters. (1) Fifty Masters cyclists busted for doping! Why? It’s not as if Nike is looking for Masters athletes to give out huge sums of money.

The fellow that beat me cycling in North Carolina was doping. It was a regional race and no one was getting drug tested.  I’ve done a lot of racing and seen a lot of cheaters; this guy was just about out of his skin he was so amped. I didn’t say anything – it wasn’t worth it.

It was discouraging to take a second place at that bike race.  I’d worked hard to win, losing sucked.  At that 5K with the old fellow running like a cheetah I was lucky in that he wasn’t in my age group.  He, also, wasn’t around after the race.  I think he was doping, training, and plans to stop doping before any major event, make sure he tests clean then compete. He wasn’t around for the podium glory post-race because he probably wasn’t interested in answering any questions. Heck, if that worked for the Russian and Germans it will work for him.

Knowing how often Masters athletes are doping is sort of a bummer when it comes to motivation. (2,3) I have decided to look for time-trials and other individual cycling events for fun.  At nearly 64 years old fitness is a more important reason to train.  Racing is simply a fun activity.

Archery, unlike cycling, is a more serious endeavor when it comes to competition for me.  Archery is a test for me of talent transfer and finding a sport where an older person can be competitive longer.  Like I said above when I looked over the list of athletes suspended for doping 2 archers were on the list.(1)

Many of the older archers I shoot against are taking beta-blockers.(4,5) Y’all keep taking your beta-blocker. Archery isn’t worth a stroke or worse. And like cycling Nike isn’t looking for older archers to hand out big checks.

I can recognize the individual likely to have high blood pressure and be taking a beta-blocker. For the most part these individuals are easy to spot and they’ll sooner or later fatigue during a competition, have a momentary loss of concentration, and despite the added advantage of the beta-blocker will give up a few points. (6-8) Not often, but often enough.

Doping in amateur sports, like cycling and archery, is a fact of life.  Doping among athletes over 50 is common. (9)  If you compete clean great.  If you are over 50 and are competing clean great.  If you’re doping because you have a medical need get a therapeutic use exemption.  If you’re doping to get a $2.00 medal – you are an idiot.

Reference:

  1. https://www.usada.org/testing/results/sanctions/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/01/dope-and-glory-the-rise-of-cheating-in-amateur-sport
  3. http://jumping-the-gun.com/?p=2641
  4. https://www.rxlist.com/high_blood_pressure_hypertension_medications/drugs-condition.htm
  5. https://healthfully.com/athletes-would-use-beta-blockers-5622585.html
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181843/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/173068.php
  8. https://healthunlocked.com/bhf/posts/136191614/beta-blockers-confusion-loss-on-concentration-side-effects…slightly-anxious-has-anyone-felt-this
  9. https://www.narcononuk.org.uk/blog/the-problem-of-amateur-sports-doping.html

It Started Off Great

Fresh paper for a new day

It started off great; it didn’t last.

That felt pretty good
That felt even better. (Note that is a backstop in place)

Once again, hoping for a personal best, judging from the first 6 arrows, things  – like accuracy – began to diminish.

Alas, it didn’t last long

To be fair, the wind, which at the onset of practice had been non-existent, picked up. It picked up enough to blow my back stop over.  I finished the practice 13 points below my personal best.

Wind is no friend to archers or cyclists. You can see the back stop is on the ground.

Time-Trial Flop

If you read posting on this sight you know that I am keen on health and fitness. Everyday I do some form, often multiple forms, of exercise.  For example, aside from archery practice today, I stretched, ran, and did a time-trial on a bicycle. It’s that time-trial that flopped.

Now, I did get through the course I’d planned.  The idea was to break a prior personal best on the 11.7-mile course. No, 11.7 miles isn’t a long ride. It is the course that makes it tough.

For the first 3.6 miles the ride is all uphill.  Then, it levels, dips a little, and climbs some more.  The backside has a steep short downhill, then a gradual climb for the next several miles.  The final 2 miles intersects with the start of the course.  It is hard and I’ve been trying to break 30-minutes on the ride.

The plan was to use a triathlon bike.  On an easier try the day before I’d done the course in 32 minutes using a tri-bike. There was, along with the climbing, a heavy wind.  Usually, I’m on a road bike, the tri-bike using a tucked position helped in the wind. Without much effort I’d come close to the 30-minute time.

The bike I’d planned to use

When I picked up that Cannondale Slice tri-bike today the rear tire was flat.  Perfect.  I grabbed a road bike and planned to go for it anyway.

Let me say, I’m no meteorologist, but it seems unlikely that there can be a headwind at every turn and in every direction.  Yet, today it happened.  As hard as I pushed the wind pushed harder.

At 8 miles I thought there’d be a chance.  I thought I’d get out of the headwind and have a tailwind.  I was wrong. I didn’t get that sub-thirty minutes.

That has kind of hard

After a while shooting dots can become routine.  To keep it fresh changing targets helps.

Shooting at the larger outdoor target face for 50-meters is about the same as shooting at the target face used for 18-meters. The colors are the same, the size changes. It does become a tab repetitive firing arrows into the same color.

Trying something new I used pistol targets.  They’re black with a small orange center.  Sounds good – it wasn’t.

55 yards

The sun, for this practice session, was over my back. The sight I’m using is a small monofilament on a narrow stem.  You guessed it, the pin didn’t illuminate.  Aiming a black stem onto a black target is rough.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

I used the set-up, anyway.  Might as well practice something a bit harder than it has to be in the event that one day I find myself in a similar situation during competition.