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!

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.

Turing the heat down


A new target – nice

Slowly spring is coming. There was a bit of a struggle during the past few days and it was cold.  It has starting warming up, and– hopefully – the struggle is over.

Started off okay then went downhill
Maybe, just maybe, this little heater can remain off until October

Practicing at 60 yards in the cold sucks. As practice continued to grind the temperature slowly climbed.  As it warmed apparel was removed. The little outdoor heater was cranked off and the gloves came off.

It warmed up and the jackets came off

Despite the warming I still shot poorly.  Far too many 8s.  Still the outdoor season is young and the first 50-meter tournament is not until May.

River is happy regardless of the temperature

It will happen if you run trails. 

I’ve read and been told that archery is the second safest sport.   It really depends on the reference.  No doubt, archery is a safe sport. Running on the other hand, while it seems safe, can be hazardous.

If you do a lot of trail running you know where I’m headed.  Sure, you might get attacked by a mountain lion and need to fight for your life.  You might run up on a rattlesnake, copperhead, or other poisonous snake.  That’s when you sprint away while doing the hopping chicken dance.  Heck, in some places there’re bears to worry about.

Most likely all of those animal intersections with a runner are limited.  The more likely trouble comes from something that doesn’t even move – the root. In come cases a root might be a rock, stump, or other obstacle that just sits there waiting to trip you.

If you run trails it will happen. You’ll cross paths with that non-moving hazard and eventually the impact will be just right to create a face plant.

Run trails and a face plant is just a matter of time

I’ve had more face plants mountain biking than running.  I still have a fair share of running tumbles.  Yesterday, I ended up face down on a trail.  It wasn’t a bad fall.  Nothing has broken; there was a slightly scraped nose and a little frustration.

I was running with my dog, River, and I swear when she saw what had happened she laughed.

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.

Time to Go Long

After shooting at 20 meters for months it is refreshing to start 50-meter practice.  The next competition for me is not until May.  In May that event is the Georgia Cup.

50-meters

There are other tournament, like the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Arizona Cup, but I’ll skip those events.  They both represent a huge expense for little reward.

There are 3D shoots but 3D probably isn’t going to be a major discipline for me in 2019. Certainly, 3D is enjoyable and I was looking forward to at a minimum the Georgia ASA State Championship.  Being bow poor, having one for skinny arrows only, it seems like a waste of time to train then compete against fat arrows.  Additionally, I’ve e heard that in Georgia archers who compete in the State Championship must complete two qualifiers.  Georgia is a big State and getting to qualifiers can be expensive.

Still there’s a pull to shoot in some 3D competitions.  I’ve got an old Mathews Conquest Apex 3 stored in a case; maybe I could bring that out and shoot it for 3D.  I’d sold the bow once and the fellow that bought it gave it back to me.  He said, “Keep this bow and keep the money.”  It is suppose to have been a good bow.

Something may pop-up between now and May, I hope so.  I need to feed my urge to compete.  Worse case, I run a lot of 5ks.

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.

Cold and Wet

It was a miserable day of practice at least weather-wise.  Typically, on these types of days I drive to Social Circle and practice inside.  We’re down to one vehicle for transportation at the moment so I’m staying close to home.  Hence, no driving to Social Circle to practice.

Two things to deal with, a major tournament this weekend and a weather cold blast.  Skipping practice is not an option and neither is being warm.

You could feel the rain coming

To make matter worse or add insult to injury a light rain fell during the morning practice.  I considered stopping but didn’t.  The first 30 arrows were just so close and I could feel I was just off but couldn’t figure it out.  I decided to continue in the rain until I worked though whatever problem it was that had me missing.

During the next 30 arrows my shots improved. I stayed out, in the rain, because what had been missing felt like it had returned or at least was returning.  When I finished I was cold, wet, but seemed to have found a good spot.

Rain meant not heat

The afternoon, the rain had stopped and I switched to a 5-spot. There’s been enough yellow, red and blue staring at me from down range.  The blue and white was a nice break.  There’s another State Championship in two weeks and the 5-spot is the target.  So, aside from a visual break it was good to see how I’m shooting against the giant X ring.

The rain wasn’t to bad.

A day later, record cold temperatures are the rage with the weather people.  I’ve also emptied the propane tank on the outdoor heater. Yes, it is cold and windy. But, going out in the cold is better than sitting inside all day. Even if I go to an indoor range, I’ve spent time outside.  I’ll run outside nearly every morning.  I have gear for all weather.  Sure, sometimes it is cold and sometimes it is hot.  You simply deal with it.

You know, when it is freezing cold outside (or when it isn’t that warm), I’ve never needed the local weather person to explain how I should wear warm clothing when I go out.  I suppose when the weather person makes that recommendation they’re feeling as if they’re being either helpful or smart. I really don’t know if they’ve achieved either.

Staying Warm, Shooting Cold

I’d say it was freezing outside practicing at 18-meters this morning, but it wasn’t that warm.  I didn’t get all that cold, I’d worn multiple layer of clothing, had the outdoor propane space heater running, a glove on my bow hand, and pocket full of hand warmers. One bonus, the wind wasn’t blowing.

Nevertheless, my practice scores were not anything worth sharing.  It was a weak day.  It wasn’t a physical weakness, I felt pretty good coming off two days of rest.

Typically, one day is enough for a break.  The past few weeks have been intense so two days off was the prescription for recovery. I’d recovered.

It wasn’t even mental weakness.  My brain felt good. No sir, shooting while wearing enough clothes to stay warm changes things.

Ageless Guidance for Athletes

Of all the athletics I’d done in my life, the training part has always been the hardest and the most fun. Training and practicing with a team was wonderful.  From high school football to cycling being part of a group was an experience that helped mold me.  Sharing the experience and the path teaches athletes selflessness.

Coaching tips shared a long time ago (1,2)

As life begins to creep in sport can become a more solitary activity.  There isn’t always time to meet the schedule mandated for team activities. Running, cycling, duathlon, triathlons and archery can all be practiced alone.

Training or practicing solo helps clear your mind.  There is a peacefulness that comes from training discipline that has been recognized for centuries. (1) As we improve in our chosen sport we seek a peacefulness that can assist our advancement and in cases of competition help find that zone which leads to our best efforts.

As an athlete you may learn that training is a time where you too reach a certain quiet or mental silence.  During those moments you’ll get a feel of what you want to carry into competition.

In competition there will be times when you’ll be the victor. Victory is not as important as the process or how you reveal yourself as a winner.  To win someone must lose.

The true winner is that champion who is able to remain humble.  Know that when you are a champion others will look toward you as an example.  It is nice to win, but winning isn’t as much the goal as the disciplined process that brings you to the podium.

As a champion, remember to care about those that finished out of the top place.  Your ambition isn’t to win out of selfishness, but to win because you followed a path that can be shared by others. (2)

Reference:

  • Hebrews 12:11
  • Philippians 2:3
  • (Yes, these references are correct, hence this post’s title)