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.

A 12-Mile Mountain Bike Loop Failure

It started as a short 12-mile mountain bike ride. Most of it on trails or narrow dirt roads. There was one section of paved road that I suspected would put me on a loop back home. If it worked I’d have a nice 12-mile loop.

When I started racing bicycles in 1972 our team, The Savannah Wheelmen, had permission to train on Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. There was a road, Perimeter Road, which as named, encircled the perimeter creating a 10-mile loop of the base. Our team would ride around Hunter two to twelve times per day. Since it was a 10-mile loop it wasn’t tedious. The major factor was that it was nearly void of traffic. It remains one of the safest training routes in memory.

Finding a 12-mile loop, mostly off road, here near Athens, Georgia seemed like a great idea. I’d been searching and felt I was close. Heading out to find the last few miles needed to create the course I was optimistic.

Miles of this on a mountain bike is fun. This is a long uphill grade, steep in sections.

For seven miles I was primarily on trails, dirt roads and a very isolated paved road. Then, things got dicey.

I knew a section of the yet discovered loop would be on a more traveled road. It wasn’t a bad road and there were signs to encourage motorists to “Share the Road” with cyclists. This would last only a mile or so before I turned left and took my Cannondale back into the woods to close the loop.

This old shack is next to a single track

The surprise came from a road closure with only four miles of my estimated ride remaining. Riding right wouldn’t work since that would send me in the wrong direction. Left was out because that landed me on a road with heavy traffic. I took road number three a total guess; Monty Hall would have been proud. He’d also have been saddened by my choice –it was the wrong road.

Not exactly certain where this is, but there were cattle everywhere.

After too long and being a bit lost, I needed help. I had my phone in my pocket and decided to consult Google Maps. Naturally, there was no cellular service. I did spot a few folks skinning a deer so I rode over on my bike to ask for help.

This is a familar crossing.

One nice thing about living near Athens, cyclists are a common sight. So are people skinning deer. In fact, many cyclists here skin deer. When I asked how to get back to Good Hope, Georgia, I learned I was way the hell off course. So far so that the fastest way home was to do a 100% back track.

When I passed this, I knew I was at a minimum in the correct county

I’ll try this again with the road is open. I know there is a way to come up with a 12 to 15 mile loop that is almost as safe as those days circling Hunter.

Plantation Ruin

Mountain biking around my home is really pretty nice. I can be on trails, hard pack, or dirt roads within minutes of leaving home.

I try to ride everyday. I doubt I’ll race again – but I might. I think of racing every time I train. The fact is, I ride (and run) as part of an archery fitness plan. At 63 years old I want to compete against seniors although the masters archers are pretty tough to beat. Part of that desire requires I stay fit. I don’t want to end up with high blood pressure and need to take beta-blockers to manage as aliment when fitness and weight management can help reduce the risk of getting high blood pressure. Beta-blockers are banned in archery. Still, there are a lot of archers competing while using beta-blockers. Aside from that cycling off-road is a lot of fun.

While riding in a wooded area I discovered what appeared ruins of an old mansion. It seemed to be more than just a run down old house. I circled the ruins and rode around trails that were on what seemed to be old property to a large estate.

When I got home I searcher the Internet a learned the ruins are the remains of the Casulon Plantation that burned in 2002.

What a shame. The estate was incredible. The Internet report indicated that the couple that owned the Plantation was going through a nasty divorce. The couple was out of town when the Planation burned.  Arson was suspected. It is awful for Georgia to have lost such a nice old home.

Before the fire

Mountain biking is one of my cardio programs used for fitness, which is part of my archery training. It is fun to get out on a bike ride through the woods. You never know what you might discover.

Hump Day

It’s Wednesday. Sunday was a recovery day. Since then I have an hour and a half of running, an hour of stretching, three hours of cycling, a trip to the gym, and nine and a half hours of archery practice under my belt.

Big Sky over a bicycle ride near Athens, GA

This morning we, River my lab, and I were practicing. Well, I was practicing and entertaining my canine companion between ends, which is mostly tossing sticks as I walk the 18-meters back and forth to pull arrows. River seemed to have more spring in her step than me.

River runs with me in the morning. She’s almost 9 and still has plenty of spring in her step.

Working toward an athletic goal is demanding. At times it can be grueling. The long-term effort needs to have breaks. Those breaks are periods for recovery. On Thursday we go on vacation. On this break I am not bringing a bow. I will, however, bring a mountain bike and running shoes.

The sun is coming up later as winter approaches and the air is cooler at 8:00 am in the morning.

The cycling will be easy active recovery rides. Running may turn out to be walking. For sure, after archery practice this afternoon I won’t pick up a bow for a week. If I carried one on the trip I would no doubt be tempted. But, I also know that rest is too important to take for granted. So, the bow will be left behind.

There’s a coaching tip in this post.

 

What Sport Should You Do?

There are all sorts of “tests” you can take to help you understand which sport it is that is ideal for you. I stumbled across some of these “tests”several weeks ago while researching another topic. For fun, I gave a number of them a go to see how the results stacked.

It turned out that they were all pretty good and mostly fun. The simple “tests” did a good job of putting me into sports disciplines.

Cycling was always near the top. One “test” indicated I’d be good at triathlons. A few of them suggested boxing or tae kwon do. Archery came out a winner on one “test” and among the top 3 or 4 sport in others.

There was a theme for most of these questionnaire exams. Some were specific to Olympic sports and others more general. In the more general exams football came up as a top choice for me a time or two.

This is what I found surprising, the “tests” did a pretty good job of identifying sports where I have played.

I did play football in high school and was a starter. I’d had some serious scouting meetings with coaching advice to follow during summer between my junior and senior year in order to get a college ride. I failed to follow that advice and instead began racing bicycles.

The cycling turned out to be a good choice and even though I didn’t get a sports scholarship to college; over time I earned other awards that paid for nearly 100% of my schooling (which was a bundle considering I earned two doctorates and a masters degree – kind of like Dr. Sheldon Cooper).

Circa 1986

Cycling eventually gave way to duathlon. A duathlon is like a triathlon without the swimming and having more running. Duathlon worked out pretty good and earned me a spot on the USA Team to the World Championship Long Course Duathlon.

ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon – 2007

Duathlon migrated to triathlon and I even made it to the Ironman World Championship on Kona.

Ironman World Championship – 2008

Those online sport “tests” were pretty cool. I’d even done tae kwon do for several years earning a brown belt before cycling sucked all the time away I had for training. (One day I’d like to go back and complete that path.)

Of the sports selected for me archery is the most frustrating. Some folks say archery is 90% mental and 10% physical. I once heard a top coach, in jest, say archery is 10% mental and 90% trying not to quit.

Certainly, archery remains the single sport where I have yet to achieve the degree of expertise I thought I’d have by now. Archery is vastly different from the other sports where I had success. The gap in talent transfer is huge compared moving from cycling to duathlon.

Transferring from cycling to duathlon was easy. Moving to triathlon was harder because swimming required learning a new skill with a wider talent transfer gap than that of riding to riding.

Always come out of the water under your own power (My triathlon rule #1*)

Archery on the other hand just doesn’t fit the mold. The athletic skills needed to perform well in archery aren’t associated with sports that move fast. (Although, the conditioning needed to move fast can be beneficial in archery)

Archery is, however, one of the sports that online “testing” suggested my body type, conditioning, training, and brain should excel.

Did anybody see where my arrow went?

If you’ve got some time to kill go online and search for “Which Sport is Best for Me” or some variation of that query. It might be fun to see where you fit. Don’t be disappointed to learn you’re better suited for gymnastics or track and field other than archery.

Footnotes:

  • Coach Lain’s 3 Cardinal Rules for Triathlon
    • 1 – Get out of the water under your own power
    • 2 – Don’t crash on your bike
    • 3 – Don’t be last on the run
  • I’ll also note my wife, Brenda a professional Yoga instructor, took a few of the online “tests” to find her ideal sport.  It was unanimously archery.
    • “Is this as far back as it goes?” (50 pound draw weight)

Old Geezer Speed Demons

Here in Georgia I’ve been getting in more cycling miles than I did in North Carolina. Partly, this is because all the roads are new. Partly because the roads are mainly rolling hills which is my favorite terrain to ride.

During my rides I’ve seen loads more riders than I did in North Carolina. There is rarely a day when I’m riding that I don’t see other riders. The riders here, the ones I’ve seen, are fast.

All of the riding and seeing other cyclists has sparked an old competitive cycling flame. That flame does not extend to criteriums or road races. Should I race a pure bicycle race it would be a time trial. The likelihood of a crash in lowest during a time trial compared to road races or crits. As a past triathlete I’m a pretty good time trial rider. As an archer I can’t afford a crash that could break a collarbone, arm, hand, or even having to deal with road rash. Heck, that simply applies to being alive. So, if I race it would be a time trial.

Having the cycling bug awakened I began looking for an individual time trial where I could race. I’m not ready to race. I could race but I am not in cycling race shape. If I entered a time trial right now I would not win even in my age group. I knew that before I started checking current race results. I check what the current race times are for riders in my age group for individual time trials.

The race results I read pretty much squashed any consideration I’d had of enrolling into a cycling time trial. The finish times were just too incredible. While it hasn’t been that long since I raced those races where triathlons and duathlons. In both I’d competed in world championships and had twice been selected to represent the USA as a Team athlete. As fast as I thought I was there is no way I could compete with the times I discovered.

The times I read for older riders were absolutely amazing. The top riders are faster than some Professional Triathletes! Some of them, over similar distances would have ranked with Professional men cyclists at races like the Tour of France and the Tour of Italy. It was truly incredible. It seems old guys have gotten really fast.

What’s more impressive is that as we age we lose lung volume. The means that older riders won’t have the same vital capacity, lung volume, or ability to flush CO2 from there bodies and bring in oxygen as well as younger riders. One older rider that caught my eye was able to complete a time trial (30K) nearly as fast as the winner of a Professional time trial (30K). In fact, this older rider would have beaten many of the professionals in the comparable event.

I then checked the times of some of my old racing buddies to see if they had found this fountain of youth that kept them fast as they were during their true glory days. A number of them had been on an Olympic Team and they never stopped racing. So, those fellows should be smashing the times of the older amateurs that picked up competitive cycling after they retired.

Nope! The newly minted old geezer cyclists would kick the ex-Olympians butts. I know the current old geezers would bet me – I was never as fast as these monster old guy cyclists.

I suppose this new breed of old guy time trialists are remarkable athletes. It would have been hard to imagine a guy in his mid-60’s cranking out speeds faster than professional triathletes and in some cases profession men cyclists had I not read the results.

The question comes to mind, “How is this possible?”

Under normal physiological processes I don’t believe the times represent the entire picture. For example, I know that human growth hormone can lead to improvement in lung volume among older mean. I know that testosterone can improve training and EPO can improve races results. Certainly, the old fellows racing for fun wouldn’t be using PEDs to win races against other old guys out for a fun day of bicycle races. Seriously, do all that (cheating) for a First Place the award is a $2.00 medal.

At some point I may still look for a bicycle time trial to race. But, it will be for fun.

Here me now, believe me later references:

https://www.ijdp.org/article/S0955-3959(17)30140-8/pdf

http://www.velonews.com/2016/06/feature/totally-amateur_408457

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4659343/

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/01/dope-and-glory-the-rise-of-cheating-in-amateur-sport

Cycling – Dumb Stuff I Do

It was hot, 94°F, and no complaint from me. I’d been outside all day. I’d run, shot for 2 hours, dug up 15 Lenton Rose bushes at one of my daughter’s homes, loaded them into my truck, then replanted them at our home. I’d planted Ivy, had a nice lunch, took a 30-minute break and was heading out for a bike ride before afternoon archery practice.

Because it was hot (and I was wiped) I had planted a nice easy ride. When I grabbed a kit for the ride I’d pulled out an old Vapotherm jersey. The jersey is about 12 years old. Vapotherm is a medical device company that makes a product to help people breathe. It was a total random thing grabbing the jersey. It could have been any number of other jerseys. At any rate I wore it.

On the ride I thought it might be cool to send a picture of the old jersey to friends that had also ridden wearing a similar jersey a decade or so ago. I slowed down, coasted, and tried to take a selfie of the jersey. The result of that is shown here.

While doing so a “hot shot” on his bike zoomed past me. I was maybe coasting at 7 mph. He was cruising at around 20 mph. He said a cocky, “Hello” and didn’t slow down. No problem except for the cocky tone in his voice.

I could have let is pass. I knew what was going through my head was going to hurt – me. I decided it was going to be worth the pain.

Putting my phone back into my jersey pocket I put some power on and chased the hotshot down. Now, I didn’t exactly catch him. I didn’t want to be any closer than about 5 to 10 yards. Just close enough that he would know I was back there.

He appeared to be a competitive cyclist as evidence by his shaved legs and cocky attitude. Going through his ears was now the sound of another cyclist behind him but not on his wheel. He can do a few things: 1) keep the same pace, 2) speed up and see if the can get rid of the bothersome unknown rider, or 3) slow down and see if the rider in the back could be a new friend with whom to train. The latter is the choice of a gentleman. He chose the option number two. I’d suspected that would be his decision. This is the part I knew would hurt.

As he increased his pace I hung just behind him at a 5 – 10 yard gap. If I got closer than 5 yards I’d coast. Coasting on a nice bike makes a distinct sound and can be heard from a short distance. The sound is so distinct that unless the cyclist was deaf he knew that someone was behind him, not drafting, but coasting. This happened when we came off a downhill and began the uphill or when I inadvertently got too close.

What I wanted to do was present the image of an old fellow out for a leisurely ride that just happened to be riding the same direction as the puffed-up fellow. I also knew if the guy really was in shape I’d only be able to keep this up for a few miles.

Actually, he was really, really good. His leg spin was flawless; he was smooth and not even a tad squirrely on his bike. After five miles I thought that maybe I’d ride beside him and introduce myself. I didn’t. I was a little embarrassed. I kept my distance.

I wasn’t too sure where we were and I knew now I had a pretty long ride home. He’s made a turn off my normal route. I’m still learning the back roads here.

Eventually, I pulled off onto a road that I hoped would put me on a path home. I’d been playing this game for six miles. I wasn’t hurting as much as I thought I’d be by this point. However, I was hurting. The guy did turn out to be a good rider, held a steady pace, and would have been easy to ride with. I regret not introducing myself. I lost a potential person to train with. But, the game was fun. (At least in my head)

Overall Fitness – Bicycling

Being fit and healthy is a good way to extend your career as an archer. To be sure, archery is not a sport that is heavy on fitness requirements. However, if you find yourself carrying excess weight then long tournaments can become a physical strain.

There are a number of ways to improve your general health such as walking, running, and bicycling. The list of supplemental programs to improve your general health and fitness is tremendous.

Bicycling is one way to improve leg strength, shoulder and arm strength, and add cardio conditioning. It is also a fun way to enjoy the outdoors.

Riding a bike will burn around 800 calories per hour. An hour riding a bike passes quickly. When you were a kid you probably had a bicycle that was your ticket to freedom. Hop on a bike, take a spin, you may find that youthful feeling of freedom returns.

(Photographs were taken during yesterday’s bike ride near Good Hope, Georgia)