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.

 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

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.

Again at Hester’s Ferry

We’re at another campground, an old favorite, Hester’s Ferry near Lincolnton, Georgia.  Here we have all the toys: bikes, running shoes, archery equipment, kayaks and a pontoon boat. Plus, we’ve been spending time with the grandkids. Well, three out of four of them.

View from our campsite
Nice running trails

 

These trails also work for cycling
Plenty of time for archery
Those targets at 45 yards, the chair is at 35 yards

 

This old bike is steel – man steel is so nice. (Reynold 841 tubing)

 

Well, that works

 

Yep, that works, too.
Night at the campsite
Had to get a tire plugged. This sign was in the shop.

Nice thing is there are all sorts of ways to play. No time to write.

Fitness Minded

I often mention the number of archers that I compete against that appear, in my expert opinion, to be taking beta-blockers. They’re taking the drug, a PED in archery, to manage their hypertension.

I spent a solid decade studying hypertension and methods of treating it.  During that period I published research, sponsored the research of others, and helped develop methods to improve the health of people that have hypertension.

One of the best ways to combat the typical hypertension I see is through diet and exercise.  I worry about hypertension and the impact it could have on me.  Personally, a stroke would seriously limit my activity.

With that in mind, I exercise a lot.  The exercise aids in keeping my weight down – I do enjoy a good meal.  I admit I have exercised a lot all my life.

Picking up archery later (at 58 years old) than most archers being fit has not hurt me.  If I stopped shooting a bow tomorrow I’d still run and ride a bike.  In fact, I run almost everyday and ride a bike at least 4 times a week.

Wear these once then wash them. Fives days worth this week

I used to ride more when I raced bicycles.  When I picked up duathlons and triathlons cycling became another element of the sport. Of all the sports I’ve done cycling is my favorite (no offense to archers).  Actually, football is my second favorite sport and had it not been for cycling I’d have played in college.

Lots of nice open roads here in rural Georgia to enjoy cycling

In my junior year of high school I’d been scouted by a few college teams.  My high school coach had all but guaranteed my parents I’d get a chance to play in college. To them that meant college tuition they’d not have worry about.

But, I got hooked on cycling and thought I’d give it a ride to see if I’d make an Olympic Team.  It is impossible to keep weight on while racing bicycles.  So, my football opportunities dropped as fast as the weight.

Cycling didn’t pan out either.  Just out of high school I did have a chance to race in Europe but passed and gradually migrated my attention to academics then a day job.  Through out it all I stayed on a bike. And I eventually raced in Europe.

ITU Long Course Duathlon, World Championship – 2007

Decades of fitness are paying off now that I’m in my mid-60s.  I take no prescription drugs.  My blood pressure runs around 117/68 and my percentage of body fat is in the single digits.

Where fitness pays other dividends is in archery.  Over a long two-day tournament I am far more bored than fatigued.

I thought I heard someone yell, “Get him!.” So I ran like I stole something.

The hardest thing for me in archery is to remain in the game.  During a 4-hour 100-mile bicycle race or a 5-hour 70.3-mile ½ Ironman, I can stay focused.  (The young professionals are much faster than those times.) During a marathon or ½ marathon focus isn’t an issue.  During a long archery tournament my mind becomes numb.

That lack of focus might be assisted by a PED.  Certainly, those early end jitters would be reduced.  But, it is better to be fit and get through an event without the aid of a hypertension support medication. It is even better not to have high blood pressure.

Want to get fit? Check with your doc before you run around the block.

A Big Tree, Cold Archery, and a Tailwind

Before archery practice this morning, like nearly every morning, I ran. On the trails where I run there are some enormous pine trees.  I’ve been trying to remember to carry a camera to take a picture so you can see. Here is one of them:

Reminds me of “Hometree” from the movie Avatar.

For comparison, you can see the regular tall pine trees next to this larger pine tree.

30 degrees when I headed out to the range. It was 27 degree while running.

Of course, after running, I practiced archery.  For the past couple of days outdoor archery has been rough.

This little heater is great
It wasn’t all bad

I put on every article of clothing I own to stay warm, use an outdoor propane heater and get through it just fine.

Mountain bike gloves keep my bow hand warm, but aren’t good for archery

What really hurts, is heading out on a bicycle when the temperature is still in the 30s and the wind is howling.

Speed 20.6 mph. Coasting with a tail wind.

Getting a Little Rest

Ever get that really tired feeling?  You know, you feel like you need a good long rest?

Well, sir, that is exactly where I am today.  Monday is typically an easy day for training.  Sunday, if I’m not in a tournament, is my official rest day. This week I am taking off Sunday and Monday. That is except for the morning run. Aside from that run no other exercise.  I didn’t touch a bow.

If you shoot over 36,000 arrows a year, run over 1000 miles, ride a bike over 5000 miles and head to the gym 78 times in a year, occasionally it catches up with you.  While this may sound like a lot, the running and cycling are small potatoes compared to what I was doing before I picked up a bow.

Coaching Tip

Here’s what I know, as I’ve aged it take me longer to recover and rest is good. There’s a time to listen to your body and amend a training plan.  Don’t abandon the plan, but a small adjustment may be dividends later.

Louis Garneau Apparel

From the drawer where I keep riding shorts these surfaced for today.  I wore them while riding this afternoon. They’re about 27 years old.

27 years old and still holding up.

Granted, I have lots of riding shorts.  Even so, I wear them once before washing.  If I ride twice a day, that means two pair of shorts per day. I go through a lot of riding shorts.

The brand of these shorts is Louis Garneau.  I’ve worn his brand since the mid-80s (yes the 1980s)  when Nestor Gernay would order our cycling team kits from Louis Garneau.  When we put together cycling kits for the Healthdyne Technologies Cycling Team in the 90’s I ordered them from Louis Garneau.  These are those shorts.

Nestor Gernay and me (in the red jersey). Winter time training in Savannah, GA around 2000.

Now, Louis Garneau may or may not make shirts for archery.  What I do know is that his apparel lasts.

Getting Lost

This was a time-trial I had in the bag.  A time-trial on a bicycle is where each cyclist races individually against the clock over a set distance.  The distance for this race was 40 kilometers.

I’d started 3rdfrom the last, a good position.  Typically, cyclists are placed in the race line-up based on prior times. The faster cyclists start near the bottom of the order.

There was a light rain when the race started.  The rain increased and was coming down pretty good by the time I was off.  Many of the riders ahead of me were being cautious to protect against crashing on the wet roads.  Because I’d trained and raced often in rain I was more comfortable and it wasn’t long before I was passing other riders.

During a race on the roads there are often arrows spray painted on the pavement to alert riders that a turn is ahead.  This race was no different.

Continuing to work my way past the line of other cyclists that had started before me I’d spot one, overtake him, and move to the next.  Then, I ran out of other riders to catch.  It was, by now, pouring rain.

Approaching an intersection, which I felt was near the finish; I looked for the arrows on the pavement to know where to turn. The rain had either washed them away or they were covered by water.  I made the wrong turn.

I got lost for a while. I lost the race finishing so far behind that the officials were preparing to come search for me when I came to the finish line from the opposite direction.

At the IBO World Championship several years ago it poured rain.  Being in the first group out we had no idea that the tournament has been postponed until the storm passed. There was no horn that sounded. Apparently, the officials had forgotten our group was on the range.  We got turned around because the storm had blown away trail markers. You never want to find yourself walking out of the woods between a stake and a target.

I’ve been lost on training rides, runs, once in a race, and briefly during an archery tournament. Think it’s hard to get lost on a bicycle?  Go ride 100 miles and see how winding roads over unfamiliar ground seems then think again. Or do a 20 mile run in an unfamiliar city.  That can be especially nerve racking where English isn’t the local language.  Believe me, completing a 120 kilometer bicycle race in Italy and afterwards being unable to find the way to your hotel is extremely frustrating.  Heck, I had to ask for directions here in Georgia just a few weeks ago when a road construction site put me off my planned route.

Getting outside and doing things can sometimes present a directional challenge. You can find yourself having a little unplanned adventure.  But, in the end, you’ll probably find your way home.