Mental Tip From an Ironman World Champion

Our children and grandchildren are back at their homes in Athens and Pittsburgh after their Christmas visit. The house is a whole lot quieter. It’s going to take a while to get the place back in order. All day couldn’t be spent doing post ‘grandkids’ cleanup chores. There’s still time to train despite foul weather.

It has been cold, windy, and lightly raining all day. The shed I converted for indoor training on my bike was perfect for today. For the first time in many years, I have heat in the room where I train.

When we lived in Maryland, for 11 years prior to becoming full time residents of North Carolina, I trained in the garage on the coldest days. It wasn’t heated. It would be as cold inside as it was outside. Having been born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Maryland often felt like the tundra. It was better than Pittsburgh or Cleveland (I’ve lived in both cities), but still too cold for me.

When we lived in Pittsburgh I had heat. In Cleveland, I simply froze since my only option for cycling in the winter meant going outside. But, here in NC I have heat and it felt great.

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Fossil fuel is so warm.

Riding on my Computrainer, I watched the 2012 Ironman World Championship. During the show, on DVD, Leanda Cave, women’s winner in 2012, was being interviewed. She talked about how the sport of triathlon, in specific the Ironman distance is such a mental game.

I’ve raced the Ironman World Championship and a number of other Ironman triathlons. There’s a point in such long distance racing where your body is done and your brain must make it continue. When I’ve reached that point, I’ve always been able to continue. Mental fortitude is very different in archery.

In archery, I don’t have to push past physical pain. In archery, I must be able to clear my head. Leanda Cave mentioned this in her interview that is her ability to block out everything except what she was doing at that moment in the race.

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Leanda Cave winning the 2012 Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii (photo from Google search images)

When the best archers in the world shoot, their brain activity has been measured. It turns out that the primary wave form just before an arrow is released is an ‘alpha’ wave. The ‘alpha’ wave is the dominant brain wave during meditation or stage 1 sleep. Something I wouldn’t expect during a triathlon, but paramount for peak performance in archery.

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Standing inside it wasn’t so bad.

So after I trained on my bike, I practiced archery. Today, shooting from inside my converted shed out toward the target. The wind was howling, it was misty (the rain had eased a bit) and it was cold. The heat still lingered inside the shed and it was comfortable.   I thought about the mental effort needed to complete an Ironman and tried to get a mentally quiet brain for archery. It’s a work in progress as is the post grandchild Christmas clean up.

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View of my target (Not River, my dog, the blocks in the distance)

Old Cycling Shorts

If you’ve been riding bikes for over 40 years there’s a good chance you’ve got a pile of cycling clothes. I’ve got drawers full of jerseys, shorts, leg warmers, arm warmers, shoe covers, jackets, and gloves. I’ve even got kits from when I raced for Trek in unopened packaging. If I dig, I’d probably find stuff from the original Savannah Wheelmen cycling team.

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Some of the apparel has worn out or been crashed out and is long gone. Today, I grabbed a pair of bib shorts that are probably 15 years old. They’re old CTS cycling bibs (Giordana brand). I’d gotten them when I signed up for one of CTS’ discount coaching packages when we lived in Pittsburgh. The shorts weren’t free, but they had a significant discount and I bought two pair. One pair didn’t survive a crash, which happened during a training ride, and the other continues to serve me well.

Cyclists Will Understand

Around mid-day on Tuesday I took a short bike ride. The bike was a steel frame retro style rig with down tube shifters. It is one of my favorite rides. To be fair, all my bikes are my ‘favorite.’ And for perspective, I have one bow, and I have 12 bikes.

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Here, on the eastern shore of North Carolina, the roads are so beaten up by hurricanes, heat, and farm equipment that riding steel or titanium is going to be the most comfortable. So, I’m frequently riding a neat steel retro Peugeot or a LiteSpeed with its titanium frame.

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These roads take a pounding

If you’re a cyclist and cover seriously rough roads you know they can loosen teeth. Some folks might be partial to carbon fiber frames, but I’ve never been overly fond of mine. It’s a great bike and wonderful for climbing, but I’ve never really like the feel of the bike. Aluminum is what most of my bike frames are made from and I do like them.  But, they can be harsh on really rough roads.

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Great Reynolds 853 Steel

Steel makes for such a good riding bike. Riding a steel frame is like cruising in a Cadillac. Yet, good steel ‘springs’ with a cyclist when they ‘jump’. Great steel frames feel ‘alive.’

As I was enjoying the ride today, and the feel of steel, I decided to turn onto a road I’d not ridden in several months. I was shocked at what I found. Smooth as glass, like a flat velodrome, a newly re-paved road.

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Miles of smooth riding

Even riding steel, the roads here will rattle bones. When I turned and hit fresh pavement it was so pleasant I had to stop for a minute and take a look. Man, it was so nice! Smooth and fast, really very cool.

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Nice views as a bonus

Riding the Computrainer

images-1A close friend of mine is Savannah, who isn’t a competitive cyclist, asked me, ‘What is a Computrainer?” I’d mentioned my Computrainer in a post and she wanted to know more about it. While she isn’t a bicycle ‘racer’ she does ride for fun. So, Cathy – here is a bit about a Computrainer:

Computrainer is a product by Racermate, Inc. located in Seattle, Washington. It is a ‘trainer’ whereon you can attach your bicycle. This allows you to train indoors when going outside isn’t an option.

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Looking down while training, control display on my handle bars, Ironman Texas on the Computer

Riding a trainer for hours is a mental bore. However, Racermate has designed a system that creates a entertaining interface for your bicycle and a variety of computer enhancements.

Their software displays many sports physiological bits of data, such as power, revolution per minute, average torque angle, caloric output, heart rate and other useful information. There are methods to evaluate each legs performance, set training course, set an avatar, race others and my favorite ride an actual course while viewing it.

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View of the some of the data provided during a training session

Of all the training tools I’ve ever owned the Computrainer is the best. In fact, some triathletes train exclusively on the Computrainer and leave outside riding for race day.

Recently, I converted a shed to house my training set-up along with some of my other bikes, archery equipment, swimming gear, and ham radio. Personally, I appreciate riding the Computrainer while watching other races. Sometimes, I’ll watch the DVD of Ironman Kona, another Ironman event, or Tour de France stage  while racing the course. Or I can watch a movie while data is displaced on the   controller attached to my bike’s handle bars.

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Some of my bikes and my Computrainer set-up

If you’re a cyclist or triathlete you probably already know about this product. If you’re an archer – believe me there is nothing in our sport that matches what a Computrainer can do to improve your performance.

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This is a tough workout

Having a Blast On My Bike

Over the months I’ve mentioned that aside from archery other exercise is important. For decades I’ve enjoyed competing in cycling, running, duathlons and triathlons. Of those sports what I like most is cycling.

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Cycling gives me a since of freedom. I’ve always felt it is the closest humans can come to flying under our own power. Then, there is the benefit of being able to see so much of the land and scenery while cursing on a bicycle.

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Worth the stop for this picture

Today’s ride was no exception. I carry my cell phone with me in case of an emergency. That phone is also my camera. Using it I recorded a fun encounter from today’s ride.

Dogs are frequently running after me when I ride. Most of the time this  isn’t a problem since I can see or hear them well in advance of their approach. Dogs typically can’t run at a 30-mile per hour pace for long. When I see them, I crank it up and hope I can outlast their sprint. As a rule – I win.

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Hey – Wait up!

Most of the dogs I met along my rides are friendly. Having be chased by them for decades I’ve learned to recognize the happy ‘I’m glad to see you’ bark versus the ‘here comes a bite’ bark.

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I found a stick

Ten miles into this ride at a dead end road I heard the happy bark. Sure enough, this golden retriever was out for a sniff and offered to play. Naturally, I stopped to join the fun.

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Of course, I stayed and played (and for those that know bikes that is an 11 – 19 cluster)

It is tough to beat a good bike ride topped off with meeting a nice dog along the route. The bonus is that cycling is a great form of exercise.

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Back home on Little River

Another Toasty Day in NC

The thermometer on the porch read 99° F (37°C) when I shot this afternoon. It wasn’t much cooler in the morning because I’d gotten a late start – it warmed up fast today. It felt great. After so many years living in places like Cleveland, Baltimore and Pittsburgh this heat is finally starting to thaw my Georgian bones.

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There is a turkey in that dark hole 30 yards away

In fact, it was so hot my black Elite 35 bow was beginning to feel warm. I admit I broke a sweat. But, I got in two nice practice rounds.

In the morning practice was strictly shooting paper. The afternoon was reserved for dark 3D targets in odd lighting. The past few tournaments have been real challenges where light is concerned.

This time of year the foliage and angle of the sun can wreak havoc on pins and scopes. Last week, even though I frequently practice in difficult illumination, a few of the targets were practically all guess since I couldn’t make out rings with my binoculars. By the time I got in the woods today the sunlight was filtering though the leaves backlighting several of my targets.

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This is how I like to hit ’em.

Following the afternoon practice there was plenty of time to get in a bike ride. It had cooled by a degree so the temperature was just about perfect.

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Cycling country roads in New Hope, NC

A Blown Out Shoe

Today the weather was perfect. Clear skies, a little breeze, and the temperature reached 78°F. It made for a nice day to practice some long shots and ride my mountain bike.

Shooting was a bit tricky since the early sunlight through the trees illuminated the target and left me in the shadows. It, of course, washed out my pins. Still, I shot for about an hour and a half until the call to ride my bike become overwhelming.

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My block type target about 30 yards out. I have this marked out to 65 yards at 5-yard increments.

Competitive riding has been part of my life for 45 years. Those were spent racing in cycling, duathlon, and triathlon competition. Because I’d started racing bicycles before adding duathlon and triathlon, during the multi-sport events cycling was my strongest component.

Cycling, when it was my primary sport, meant road racing and track racing. I also raced mountain bikes for about 5 years and it was always a blast. Where we live in Maryland and on the North Carolina coast there isn’t any mountain biking. Here in Georgia I can hit trails and ride all day never touching pavement.

I’d planned a long off road ride and had a challenging course planned. I’d leave the house; cut along wooded trails, then hit a power line break riding that out and back for an hour each way.

It took 30 minutes to get through the woods and onto the power line break. These are nice to ride. There are often trails perpendicular to the power lines made by ATVs and logging for exploration. It’s hilly and rough. It’s fun.

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Fifteen minutes into the power line portion of the ride I reached a steep downhill that merged into a sharp turn before working into a steep climb. It was broken up with rain washouts and ruts. I stopped to look it over before taking the plunge.

This is what it would take: Stay to the left on the down hill, let momentum carry me over a small hump on the uphill then slam it hard to the right to pull off the climb without stopping or falling.

I rode back about twenty yards to get the speed it would take to make the assault after the downhill. I cranked up speed and lifted off my saddle to handle the ruts, hit the outcropped hump on the rise, then jerked right when my right foot pulled free.

It was a surprise to have my right leg off the pedal. The torque on the pedal was in the wrong direction to have pulled my cleat free. This made me lose momentum, I put my foot down saving a crash and was honestly amazed that I’d pulled off the pedal.

When I looked down I was even more astonished to find the cause of the liberated foot. The jam to the right was going to require a bit of force to move the entire bike making it hop toward the new direction I’d wanted. What had happened, and this has never happened to me before, I pulled the shoe apart! The shoe literally separated into two parts, the upper and the lower. The lower half holding the cleat remained firm with the pedal. The upper half followed my foot. And, these were not inexpensive shoes. They’d only been used about a dozen times. All I could do was offer a disappointed glare.

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The ride was over except for the getting home leg. For that portion of the ride I found a road and gently pedaled back. Once home I tried using super glue to make the shoe whole. True to my experience with super glue, the only things that it seals together are fingers.

Regretfully, I only have one pair of mountain bike shoes with me in Georgia. I also only have one bow. In consideration of Sunday’s tournament, I hope it doesn’t fail me, too.

A Challenging Day Shooting 3D

On Saturday I shot in the Roanoke Archers’ 3D tournament. They’re a member of the Down East Archery Coalition’s clubs that hold  3D competitions here in eastern North Carolina. Early in the day the weather promised to make things interesting and fulfilled that promise. The range is tough and the club does not shy away from using all the real estate on the course.IMG_3443

Aside from a challenging course, what I like is that the club is only an hour from my house. I try keeping driving  time for local competition less than 2 hours one way. Spending four hours on the road then adding three to four hours at a range makes for a long day. A one hour drive is very reasonable. Heck, from my house it’s 30 minutes to reach a major intersection.  By major intersection, a country road that interests a state highway.

Driving to the shoot it rained non-stop. The rain continued for a bit once we (River, my dog made the trip)  reached our destination, but stopped pretty much as the forecast had predicted. The rest of the day was beautiful.

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The folks that had come early to shoot had rushed off the range to take cover from the rain and were headed back on course as I approached registration. Patrick and Leon, two guys I’d shot with in the past, were in the clubhouse as I signed in. Leon invited me to shoot with them. We had a trio.

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Leon at the stake while Patrick watches

On the range, the sounds of arrows zipping through the trees attested to the complex nature of the targets. The archers shooting in the Pro Class weren’t missing targets. But, all the pros I talked with had at least one 8.

This course hurt me the last time I shot it. Tis try was better by 14 points, but still 1.48 points per target below my average. Back at the clubhouse I heard that one fellow was 6 up and another 2 up and they were still shooting.

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It’s nice to show -up solo for a shoot and find people to shoot with that aren’t strangers. Shooting with Leon and Patrick made for a fun afternoon even if I got more than a fair share of 8’s.

When I got  home there was still time to get in a bike ride. River, also glad to be home went for a swim while I rode. It’s hard to beat days like this that closed on a high note dinner of fresh baked biscuits and venison chili.

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All Day Playing Outside

Yesterday, Tuesday March 24, the weather was slightly warmer and the wind slightly less. It was a pleasant day for being outside and I took full advantage.

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Up before sunrise I took my coffee and walked out onto the dock. As the sun broke through geese that have become permanent residents honked past, a few ducks swam by and eagles pasted overhead. Sunrise on the water is a great part of any day.

After breakfast, River and I headed out for a run. Friends naturally, greeted her and one followed us home in search of a cookie.

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“Cookie, cookie, cookie” – River’s rather crazy friend

Cookies provided and dogs gone, I took my bow out for practice. The wind was blowing with a bit more force with occasional gusts to 15 mph ( 24 kph) and a rather constant 10 mph (16 kph) push coming off the water. Aside from 3D events, which are often protected from the wind being held in forested areas, I’ve never shot an outdoor competition. With all the practice I’ve had shooting outside and dealing with wind I should find a field archery tournament and give it a try.

After morning practice I was able to get in a decent ride on one of my bikes. This one was a retro steel frame Peugeot that covered the bumpy country rides like a luxury car.

Back with plenty of time for afternoon shooting I took a foam deer and moved it around in the woods to get various shots at unknown distances and have some protection for the afternoon wind.

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This deer is out there a ways
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There he is…

It was another nice day for playing outside. I got to shoot, run and ride – my kind of day. It was followed by a good night’s sleep.

No archery today, but there was cycling

Friday was a rainy day until around 2 PM. Then there was break in the weather. It happened to be a rest day from archery. But, cycling was still on the menu.

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At least it has stopped raining

I wanted to ride a steel bike. I have two steel frame bikes, a Peugeot and a 3Rensho. Yes, that is correct a 3Rensho. The 3Rensho it is a track bike, meaning single speed and brakeless, intended for racing on a Velodrome. The Peugeot is an old retro frame rebuild in the 1970’s fashion including down tube shifters. Most of today’s racing bikes are aluminum or carbon fiber although it is still possible to get a really nice steel frame.

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Not riding this today, but man it is one nice bike

The last time I rode my Peugeot I got a flat. I wasn’t able to recall whether I’d replaced the tube. After I filled the tires with air the answer presented itself – I’d not changed the tube. I spent 30 minutes trying to get the tire off the Rolf rim and only succeeded in breaking my tire tool. That wheel will be going to Cycle Gallery and Fitness in Elizabeth City where the experts may have better luck. I changed bikes and took the LiteSpeed for a spin.

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There is a bit of history behind this Nalini jersey. Vincenzo Mantovani who’d won a silver medal in the 1964 Olympics for the team Pursuit started the company. I got the jersey while racing in Florence at the Cicli Sergio Bianchi shop around 1999. The jersey is as good as new.

There are few forms of exercise I enjoy as much as cycling. It is a great way to enjoy a lot of scenery while blowing cobwebs out of muscles and brains. Even though I didn’t get to ride a steel frame, titanium is a close second for providing a smooth ride.

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Local swamps are over flowing thanks to the rain