Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Bald and the Beautiful

Call it another in my "obligatory features of every blog" series: the self-indulgent, coo-inducing baby photo.

I don't intend to put the homely genetic material you see to the right into an unfortunate spawn, so the tiny collection of cute shown here is a loaner: Wilson, the World's Coolest Nephew.

Yes, he does have more hair than I do. Thanks for mentioning it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

LimpStrong? (drum roll) SUCCESS!

Apologies for the false suspense -- had a bit of a computer meltdown.

The first-ever LimpStrong Ride for the Femorally-Assisted is on the books, and it was a screaming success. The day of the event featured a bizarrely perfect, "how lucky can I get?" forecast: Sun with a high temp predicted for the low 70s. I overslept (which would come back to haunt me) and didn't get my lazy arse on wheels until about 9 in the morning. At that point, it was still a brisk 50 degrees, but still ever-so-pleasant for late October in Iowa.

I spun through downtown Des Moines, passing the hospital where, just six months prior, I'd had the surgery and recovery that inspired the ride -- sheer, unplanned coincidence, since it just happened to be on one of my usual routes. But as long as that particular deus fell out of the machina, let's just pause to thank...

  • The guy who answered my curse-laden 911 call (hey, a broken leg HURTS!)
  • The paramedics who carted my broken carcass up from the trail
  • Dr. Stephen Taylor, surgical superstar (and his right-hand man Jim)
  • Every poor sap at Iowa Methodist Medical Center who had to deal with me
Plus an extra-super-special thanks to Jen and Lindsey, who I swear never got off a shift the whole week I was in there, answering every whiny call-button message, emptying every revolting bottle of pee, picking up every clumsily-dropped TV remote, and generally earning a notch on the sainthood belt in addition to whatever measly salary they got for the ordeal. If you absolutely must break a major bone, do it on J & L's never-ending watch, believe me.

(Astute readers will note that I didn't mention my wife. That's a whole separate post, and a debt of gratitude that pretty much guarantees I'm hers until that whole "death do us part" thing comes to pass.)

But, Digression Man, back to the ride. Headed out on the Great Western Trail, an old rail-trail that makes a just-shy-of-50-miles loop from my house. Did that 50 in an uneventful 3-plus hours and stopped at the house for a quick lunch. A little neck soreness inspired me to raise my handlebars a skosh, then it was back out, headed west to the Walnut Creek Trail which would connect me to the Greenbelt Trail which would connect me to the Raccoon River Trail (not nearly as complex as it sounds, truly.)

Walnut Creek turned out to be another unintentional stop on the Tour of Bad Femur Memories, since it was the trail where the whole thing went down (and by "thing", I guess I mean
I went down). Sure enough, there was the accursed spot where a bit of gooey mud had treated me to an expensive and painful pratfall. Note to locals, it's where the trail goes under 63rd Street... and if anyone found a battered black Zefal hpx-4 frame pump there in May, it's mine and I'd love to have it back.

Once I cleared the metro area, things got a little ugly. A pretty rugged crosswind marred miles 60-70 and 80-90 -- not the time you want to be fighting the environment. Note to self, next year's LimpStrong should be a
group ride (who's in?), so the "don't mock me for being a quitter" motivation is right there beside me rather than lurking in the blogosphere. This is also where oversleeping paid me back in pain; had I dragged myself out two hours earlier as planned, I would have been done and home snoring in front of a football game during the worst part of the day, not beating my head against a wall of wind. But, with the help of a good mix on the iPod (yes, I'm sometimes one of those guys, sue me), I muddled through, knocking down exactly 100 miles in 7 hours ride time, 8:30 total door-to-door time. Not close to a personal best, but for my first hundred in nine years (and my first-ever solo), I'll take it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

LimpStrong Draws Nigh!

Abandon all hope, ye who undertrain!

It's t-minus 36 hours to LimpStrong, and I've started my pre-event dietary preparation: fat loading. Carbo-loading is so 1990s, don't you know? Carbs are out! It's time to start pounding down heaping bowls of bacon, storing up the high-energy, slow-burn blubber that will kick in around mile 75, propelling me to a new personal best century time.

The original route plan was to start with a 45-mile loop that would bring me back home for lunch, but several key roads in that plan now look like canals in Venice thanks to the recent rains. It looks like I may have to go with a "no guts, no glory" route that takes me 50 miles away from home and then dares me to make it back.

My wife has reminded me that we bought bicycle coverage with our Better World Club roadside assistance membership, then hinted that there would be no shame in an "accidental" mechanical failure at mile 60. Hmmm...

Obligatory Fleet Rundown 4: Morrissey

First, I didn't name it. That's my wife's work again. Apparently, like the singer of the same name, this bike wears black on the outside because black is how it feels on the inside.

This big brute followed us home from a vacation in Madison, Wisconsin*, and now that we've fed it, I don't think we'll ever be able to get rid of it. Underneath all that blackness is a Cannondale MT800 mountain tandem, pimped out touring-style by yours truly with slicks, fenders, racks and panniers.

*Tangent for owners of first-generation Honda CR-Vs: Big tandems just barely fit inside. Don't believe me? Try driving from Madison, WI to Des Moines, IA with a field-stripped twofer in there. Even with both wheels off and the bike upside down, I had a rear derailleur tickling my ear for the whole drive. Yes, we wanted this bike that much. And yes, that drive inspired the subsequent purchase of a roof rack.

Obligatory Fleet Rundown 3: Li'l Frenchie

Okay, so that isn't really this bike's name, but my wife -- namer of all inanimate objects (ref. house Fred, car Clyde, etc.) -- hasn't slapped a moniker on this one yet.

In all bike-snob respects, this little Peugeot "Orient Express" ain't much: a welded Taiwanese mountain bike with decent entry-level parts, circa late 80s. The thing's about as French as a McDonald's french fry. But gosh darn it, my wife loves the bugger, from its red star-pattern grips to its obnoxious Honka Hoota horn. And I must admit, I find the budget mass-produced take on a classic mixte frame sort of charming.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Oh Crikey, Almost 2 Weeks to LimpStrong

I wish I could say that the lack of LimpStrong training updates reflects the countless hours I've spent training for that epic event.

Yeah, dream on, pal.

I started with the hypothesis (copped from an old magazine) that if you can consistently ride 100 miles in a week, you can ride 100 miles in a day -- the wheeled equivalent of, "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!"

That quickly degraded to the hypothesis that if you think you can consistently ride 100 miles in a week, then you should be able to ride 100 miles in a day. Same idea, with some "Little Engine That Could" mixed in.

On the bright side, I did tick over the 1,500 annual miles mark this week, and only 600 of those miles happened before the broken femur. Not shabby for someone who needed two nurses pulling on a strap around his chest just to get his busted-up butt out of bed five months ago. LimpStrong, baby!