Big Fish, Big Game

Face it we all have an ego. Heck, I have a webpage – how egotistical is that?

Athletes are often portrayed has being extremely egocentric.  Being athletic or being a recognized athlete doesn’t mean that such an individual necessarily has a big head.  But, you’ve meet them, those big headed folks (athletic or not) that never hesitate to let everyone know just how awesome they are at whatever endeavor they feel they are the best. I’ve even met people willing to inculcate their proficiency on an activity they only just encountered.

Too often an excessive ego doesn’t match the skills.  My first memorable encounter with a person that thought he was a gift to all of us (in the case it was a he) was in cycling.  The fellow was a decent recreational rider and loved the sport. He’d show up at our training rides – in the days when I raced bicycles.  The rides were open to anyone that could hang on.

The guys on our team were fast.  There was a core group of six riders. All six of those riders picked up multiple State Championships, raced multiple National Championships (one winner), raced in Europe (two riders), represented the USA at World Championships (two riders, 3 Championships), and one made the Olympic Team.  I’m not exaggerating when I point out this was a fast group.

ITU World Championship, Duathlon (Yep, a vanity photo)

During a training ride, two to six of this core group would ride together.  A training ride might start with 15 to 20 riders.  Most would be dropped before 20 miles.  The rides ranged in distance from 20 miles to 100 miles. There was this one guy, Mr. Bike Ego, who considered he was our gift to be adored.

Mr. Bike Ego would get dropped nearly 100% of the time before we’d ridden ten miles.  He’d circle back or cut he course and hook back up with the group.  This was a common practice since we trained on a loop and he was not alone in being dropped. He’d cut the course then get dropped again and repeat his shortened relaxed pace ride. As I wrote many people did this until they could ride stronger and faster and could hang in for the entire ride.  Most worked hard at staying with the faster group.  Mr. Bike Ego stood apart from those who worked.  Yet, he remained steadfast in his pronounced ability.

Occasionally, after our group of six had beaten each other half to death Mr. Bike Ego would hook back up with the remains of the day a kilometer or so before the sprint to the finish.  No one in the group paid him attention beyond keeping clear of his bike.  The groups’ goal was to outsprint the others in the group.

Mr. Bike Ego would be left alone and hopefully he’d stay out of our way.  In a full sprint no one wanted his squirrely bike handling skills anywhere around.  He’d jump, as if he was going for the win, and typically we’d let him go for safety’s sake. If we started sprinting too soon we’d have to pass him while he bounced side to side down the road.

As a result, Mr. Bike Ego, who’d casually pedaled his bike for less than 10 miles might cross the finish line ahead of us, those that had ridden 60 or more miles.  When that first happened, Mr. Bike Ego laughed and cried and bragged at how he’d beaten us.  We let if go, for a while.

Eventually we pointed out the discrepancy of his self-proclaimed victory.  Aside from that one comment we offered it was ride and let ride. Our mention of his pseudo-win never took hold with him.  To this day he believes he should have been on some Tour de France Team as a cyclist despite the fact he never won a bike race.

In archery there are some folks with pronounced egos.  For the most part these people are few and far between.  Archery has no room for fools.  You either hit the mark or not – everyone knows.  This is particularly true in 3D where an archer can’t hide on the line.

Shooting on a line with a hundred or more archers you are essentially invisible like a zebra in a herd. You are hard to pick out unless a coach or family member is closely watching.  Even diehard observers of archery events where thousands of arrows fly become glassy eyed and numb following a few ends.

In 3D you are always alone at the stake.  Someone is watching and no one cares how you perform. That is unless they are secretly praying for you to screw-up in order that the watcher gains points off of your error.  In such a way, the individual that prayed for your mistake, if their prayer is answered, might take home a $3.00 medal to display over the fireplace where it hangs from the antlers of that trophy four point buck bagged a few years ago with a rifle or Ford F-150.

You may have won more National or World Championship titles than folks can easily remember and out of the blue you can blow a shot.  It happens.  Archery can be cruel.  So, it is kind of hard to be Mr. Archery Ego with that flopped shot waiting in your quiver. The second you puff up that screwed up shot is begging to be released. Believe me though; Mr. Archery Ego is out there.

Mr. Archery Ego is likely not shooting at National Championships or World Championships. He’s probably a local fellow that’s a big fish in a small pond.  Or at least a fish that in his or her mind is just waiting to show Reo Wilde, Jeff Hopkins and Levi Morgan how they’ve been doing it wrong all these years.

You may have noticed I’d gone from a generic ‘individual’ to ‘he’ in this writing.  I’m not trying to be sexist or disregard women.  I just haven’t met “Ms. Ego” although she too may be out there. Regardless of the scientifically proven fact that women talk more than men when it comes to braggadocio women play it cool.  Oh, they’ll beat a guy to a pulp on the range but they’ve mastered the ability to have you not feel so bad about it.  Women are just more advanced with their egos than men. I expect they quietly laugh behind our backs, which could explain the occasional smile men get and misinterpret as a friendly acknowledgement.

Last week, I watched the ultimate example of an over blown ego in a self-produced video by a Mr. Archery Ego.  He, apparently, had one of those sticks that held his camera away from his body while he aimed the camera at himself.  As I watched, I became hooked in the way someone does who can’t stop staring at a County Fair Sideshow Oddity.

During the video Mr. Archery Ego is walking through a wooded area.  He’s creeping along as if he’s hunting.  He’s speaks to viewers in in hushed tones to prevent a possible animal from hearing then running away.

As he creeps along he continues to quietly yammer away about himself, his bow, his arrows and his release. I would not have been surprised to have seen a sign pop up while he mentioned his equipment that displayed a little “#” tag.

I nearly did stop watching. It was just too much of a weird thing. Just as I lifted a finger to end the video he spotted his prey.  The video continued to run.

Somewhere tracked in front of him, in this wooded area, he’d discovered his target.  He continued to whisper, his voice now barely audible.  I knew he was preparing to shoot a hash tag hungry arrow.

Before even an arrow could be nocked, he went into a yardage-judging trance.  With the camera now aimed at his face he posed looking serious, concerned, he frowned, rubbed his chin, and wagged the fingers on his free hand in the air.  He whispered advice toward the camera’s microphone to viewers perhaps locked on his every breathed word.  After minutes he’d completed mental gyrations and declared the required shot distance to all of us.

As be put down the camera in order to execute the shot, leaving it recording his boots, I had to wonder, is he going to shoot a cow?  What other animal is dumb enough to just stand there?  A dog would have run away or toward him.  Who shoots a dog, anyway? There is certainly not a deer wating for an arrow unless it is tied down.  It can’t be a rabbit, pig, or fox; they’d all have been long gone.  Like everyone who views this hunt I’d have to wait while watching shoes.

The bow pop of an arrow being released is heard as I continued to examine Mr. Archery Ego’s boots. There’s a hushed exclamation, of “Yes!” and I knew something had an arrow in it.  I’ve got to see what this fellow has shot.

The camera pans away from the foot apparel as he gathers the attached stick. Together we walk.  His seriousness is portrayed as he instructs us, facing the camera his feet free from scrutiny, while walking toward a prize all the while an excited yet controlled voice tells the viewers about the shot.  As we get closer to his kill, Mr. Archery Ego is in full bloom.  I gawk at my screen in astonished marvel.  We’ve finally seen the prey.

There is no comparison of the steely non-running nerve of the ever still foam animal.  This man has stalked a foam target.  Well no wonder it didn’t run off, it was staked to the ground. It was here I pressed ‘Stop.’

I admit I too have posted poorly self-produced videos.  I’ve even got an un-posted video of a really cool shot that I can’t figure out how to download.  One day I may be able to post that video.  But, webpage and all, I remain a mere second rate marketer of my ego’s desires by comparison.

There’s a sucker born every minute

Cheers to the fellow that captured my attention. P.T. Barnum’s point has once again been verified.

Saving Turtles

Part of my overall training for archery includes cardio fitness exercise. In that essential area are running and cycling.  I’ve done a lot of running and cycling. Often, while cycling or running along side of a rural road I see a turtle trying to make it to the other side of the road.

Turtles aren’t known for speed but they do have endurance.  In that matter I can relate.  Whenever I see one on the road I pause to help it across.

Today I crossed paths while riding my bike with a large turtle and gave it a tow handed lift to the other side of the road.  This turtle never completely ducked back into its shell.  Perhaps it knew I was hoping to help.

On the round trip I checked to be sure I’d headed it in the correct direction.  I was pleased to find it making progress.

I searched for the turtle on the ride back. It took some looking but there’s it is heading away from the road.

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.



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.