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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Preparing for Yom Kippur: Some Handy Hints

In preparation for Yom Kippur, here are some handy hints that might make the day more meaningful to you:

1) If you're fasting, start minimising your food now. Many people think that the best way to fast is to fill themselves with a ridiculously large meal just before it starts. That is, in fact, probably the worst way to fast. When you stuff yourself silly, you expand your stomach lining and then you'll feel really hungry the next day. So, I always try to minimise my food intake in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Also, try to avoid salty food because that will make you thirsty. This year, Yom Kippur is quite late in the year so the fast comes in and goes out earlier. That's a good thing. Once you wake up in the morning, you really don't have long left in the fast. That said, it's always better mentally to count the number of hours you have already fasted and not to think about the number of hours left. Mentally, we are lifted by our success and counting down feels much longer.

2) If you're not fasting, there is a special prayer that can be recited. People who are ill, pregnant or elderly should not force themselves to fast (Yoma 82b-83a). Pikuach nefesh, the preservation of life, is essential. Yes, Torah says (Lev. 16:29-31, Num. 29:7) that on Yom Kippur we should "afflict our souls" and yes, the Rabbis very clearly define how to afflict our souls, but that affliction should not lead to harm. The idea of fasting is to elevate us beyond our physical selves so that we can be more like angels (who don't eat). It's not angelic if you're writhing in pain, or dizzy, or faint. Religion should be lived.

3) The traditional interpretation of "afflict" covers five things. The Mishnah (Yoma 8:1) says that it means (i) no eating or drinking (ii) no bathing (iii) no anointing, (iv) no leather shoes (v) no sexual intercourse (especially not in the synagogue, please!!!). The Talmud (Yoma 74b) suggests that this means abstention and not torture, and suggests this means through hunger. In fact, there's something very important about not anointing as well - people who are fasting may not have taken anti-allergy medication and if they are allergic to your perfume or deodorant, they could become very ill. 

4) There is a lot of liturgy on Yom Kippur. The idea of a minyan is that at least one person is saying the prayers at the right time. You're meant to dip in and out mentally. Our machzor has three kinds of pages - white, grey and blue. White pages are mainly where the prayer leader will be, the traditional prayers. Gray pages are creative translations. Blue pages are related study passages. If a prayer on a white page isn't moving you, look at a grey or blue page and see if that's powerful.

5) Many people become despondent over Yom Kippur because they feel that they're apologising for things that they know they're just going to repeat next year. Instead of trying to change your entire personality, just focus on one thing. Don't promise to never do it again but spend the day thinking of ways you might minimise seeing that negative character trait. If you get angry often, for example, work out what triggers that and think up mechanisms that will minimise those triggers.

I hope that these help make your Yom Kippur moving.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

THE BIG DAY!!!

We arrived at the hotel fairly late on Saturday evening. The woman in front of me at the desk was turned away because they didn't have any rooms. I got to the desk and they looked for my reservation but couldn't find it. In horror, I realised that I had booked myself for the tour but never got round to booking my hotel room. Ben and Bev, always wonderful people, offered for me to sleep in their room, but that wasn't fair. Thankfully, somehow, they found me a double room but just charged me a single rate. I was very lucky.

All day I had been wearing the left knee brace. Those who have been following this blog will know that my left knee has been causing serious problems. A couple of weeks ago, I realised that there must be a connecting reason why I've had left-knee pain for a number of years. There I was standing in services leading the Amidah when I realised that my left leg was longer than my right. It was like an epiphany! But I didn't have time to deal with it before the ride, so I just had to support it as best I could. I peeled the brace off after having worn it for 10 hours. The knee started throbbing again. I got my things ready for the morning, took a plastic bag, filled it with ice and then lay on the bed watching Anchorman for an hour. An hour later, I accidentally poured half the melted ice onto the bed but my knee pain had gone. I was ready.


I attached my number to my jersey. I was the fourth person to book my place on the tour - I just wasn't smart enough to book the hotel room, too! I filled the back pockets. The left-hand pocket had a pack of Trader Joe's Mango Slices. The middle pocket held my keys and a number of bars, as well as more pain medication than I could possibly take in a day. The right-hand pocket held my phone.

Recently, I had bought a container for the bike. Members of the community had lent me some saddlebags but they were too unwieldy so I needed something smaller. This held sandwiches and bars all under the main frame of the bicycle. It was the perfect purchase.

I had prepared three PB&J sandwiches, and had one along with a number of other snacks. I didn't want to have a heavy breakfast and I have found that, despite it not being very healthy, if I'm going on a long ride it's good to eat late the night before. But I was up later than I had planned and ended up only getting 5 hours of sleep.

Ben and I got on our bikes while the Moon was still the main light source. We went to the tent to get our ankle timing bracelets, although that was useless because we planned to leave early. Ben gave a special prayer asking for protection for our bicycles and for us. I went to the toilet a number of times while Ben patiently waited. I was clearly nervous.

At 06:45, we set off. We had travelled perhaps a third of a mile before we realised we had no idea where we were going. Thankfully, the organisers had marked the road, so we followed their markings. The first ten miles went by very quickly, and we stopped for a chat and refreshments at the first stop. Then there was an extraordinary whooshing noise as the peleton, which had left 15 minutes after us, caught up....


These were really serious riders. They were FAST. I told the people at the water station that they were show-offs and that we were deciding to let them go past us! I honestly couldn't imagine cycling that fast, but it was nice to know that we led for the first ten miles, even if we did leave much earlier than everyone else!

Twenty miles went by nicely with a good number of the nearly 400 cyclists passing us. This wasn't a race for us, this was a long-distance clergy and friend conversation while fundraising.


People had said that the Tour was a beautiful ride, and they weren't kidding. The scenery was stunning, especially bathed in the morning light. At some point in the first twenty miles (possibly just before the 10-mile stop), I remember chanting the first paragraph of Sh'ma as the sun came up. It was really moving for me that both of us had infused this ride with spirituality. Ben then talked about his morning spiritual routine and the perfect clergy conversation ensued.

But we both knew what was coming after twenty miles.... the hill...


You can see on this picture the road head up the grade 4 climb, go right and then all the way up left. That's a 1-mile grade 4 climb. And I loved it! I kept stopping to try to take photos of the view (none of which came out very well), which turned out to be really stupid because starting a bike with clips up a hill is extremely difficult. But getting to the top of that climb felt amazing, and we knew that the worst was now over. Now it was all about distance. And we started racking up the miles...



I won't go into the conversations themselves, but by the 50-mile marker, it's fair to say that it was clear that we were sharing a very special day. We would stop not just for refreshments - Ben insisted that the best way to do a century is to never refuse a refill and a chance to stretch the legs - but we would stop to marvel at the beautiful surroundings. One very special moment had us just standing together next to an enormous rocky outcrop, listening to the silence. Another moment had us cycling past a half-eaten coyote corpse and discussing what that meant to us. We even discussed deeper philosophical questions such as whether the world is getting better or worse, whether we need it to get better, and so on. Not your usual bicycle century conversation. But that was the plan all along - when I invited Ben to join me, I had invited him to a day of meaningful conversation with three caveats - that it was on September 18th, in Acoma and on bicycles.



The beautiful scenery continued throughout...

I had been warned about the quality of the road surface - you may remember that from one of the earliest posts. The warning was absolutely right - some of the road was horrible to cycle on. Had the view not been so stunning, it would have made for a very unhappy ride. The disturbing number of cattle grates made it even harder, especially the ones at the end once everything had started to ache.



As much as Ben wanted to stop for refreshments, I wanted to stop for photographs and then posting immediately on social media. Sometimes I gave distance updates, sometimes it was just photos of wonderful things we had seen. I don't even know what's going on in this rock, but it was so extraordinary that I needed to take a photo...



Six and a half hours in, we reached the 70-mile marker. Now we were starting to flag. Despite applying copious amounts of sun screen, my arms were beginning to peel. It was actually rather disturbing watching that unfold. My right-foot was starting to hurt and Ben's foot was starting to cramp. My butt was sore, but nowhere near as much as in previous rides. My left knee, extraordinarily, was pain free. We were doing okay.
After just over 8 hours, we passed an important point for me - 90 miles was the furthest that I had ever cycled. I couldn't believe how much energy I still had left in me. I could cycle another 50 miles (although that would probably have upset my sponsors somewhat!).

We had to brave some more cattle grates and bumpy roads before reaching the end, but reach it we did. The Tour had said that they would withdraw road support after many hours so we couldn't stop at the final water station because it had gone! I'm glad we left early. I had really been hoping that Ben and I would cross the finish line together but when we were funneled through some cones and there was a beep from my ankle bracelet, I turned back and said to him, "Wait! Was that the line?" It was. That was a shame. Nonetheless, it wasn't about the ending so much as the journey. For 8 hours and 53 minutes, Ben and I had gone on a wonderful journey together and we had raised over $20,000 for the important work of Temple Beth Shalom.


The end of this post is an important list of people I want to thank. Firstly, I want to thank Ben for accompanying me on this huge journey. Not only is Ben a clergy colleague, but I feel confident in saying he is a friend for life. I learned about myself on the ride and about him, about my own Judaism and about Lutheranism. I would never have done it without him.

I also want to thank Neil Lyon from Temple Beth Shalom. When I arrived in Santa Fe two years ago and Neil learned that I like to ride, he's been itching to get me to ride with him. At first, I was going to do the Santa Fe Century but couldn't. Then I was going to do last year's Tour de Acoma, but a triple hernia problem prevented me. Then another Santa Fe Century went by without me training. All the while, Neil patiently waited and encouraged me. He helped me plan this ride, he supported me throughout all my training, he lent me some amazing cycling shorts, he stroked my bottom when it was sore (!). Every time I went for a ride, I posted him my time and he encouraged me further. He gave me food advice, training advice, everything advice. This fundraiser would never have been possible without the patience and generosity of Neil.

I want to thank Rich Cook for the crucial 65-mile ride last week and also David and Brenda Jaffe for the essential encouragement and ride they accompanied me on a number of weeks ago. I know that there were some members who had hoped to train with me but couldn't because of my weird training times, but I thank them, too, for showing me support in other ways.

Thank you to Penny Zuchlag for lending me the bike. The difference between the cross bike and the road bike was simple enormous and Penny has opened my eyes to a new way of cycling. Thank you to the people at New Mexico Bike and Sport, particularly Ray, who have been so helpful in getting me the right gear, measuring me and ensuring that I did this without injury.

Thank you to Rebecca Baran-Rees in particular for helping organise the sponsorship, and to Amy and Dorothea for their admin support. And thank you, of course, to every single one of my sponsors. Without you, I would not have done this. Truly. There was one day during the training when I was going to give up but couldn't because of your belief in me. The money that you have helped raise will fund many world-changing activities at Temple Beth Shalom.

So.... what now? Well, I'm thinking that next year I should see what is the fastest time I can complete the century in, and I'm thinking we should run a sweepstake for a bit of fun.


Thank you again, everyone.








Saturday, 17 September 2016

THE FINAL PUSH

Here we are, then! Tomorrow is the big day. And I'm terrified, actually. Let me explain why...

Last Sunday was an amazing day of cycling. I was joined by Rich Cook and told him that I hoped to do at least 70 miles, possibly 80 if I could. We set off early and the riding was good. It truly does make a difference when there's someone else to cycle with. Rich had to finish riding after 65 miles, which we completed in an excellent time. The first 20 miles we cycled in 1h23, which is only 4 minutes behind my PB. I wasn't trying to rush, we were just going at a good pace. We finished the next 20 miles in 2h52 but it wasn't without incident. In New Mexico, we have things called Sharrows. A Sharrow is a sharing arrow (see pic above). It's used in narrow roads where there isn't enough room to overtake cyclists. But New Mexico drivers don't care about that and as I was going down a fast and narrow hill someone decided to overtake me. He didn't care that there was oncoming traffic so he overtook me very, very close. It was the closest I've had to being hit by a car in a very long time.


We completed 60 miles after 4h40 and Rich had to stop after 65. We had stopped only occasionally for the butt pain which was far better than in previous weeks. Maybe it just helps having company and not focussing on the butt. I pressed on - 70 miles in 5h34 and then I went as far as 80 miles in 6h31.

I had forgotten my sun cream/screen but thought that I was getting a nice tan. It turns out that was a serious mistake and I can still feel the burn (not 'feel the bern'!) a week later. At least I've remembered to bring it with me for tomorrow's ride. 

What was enormously helpful was the breaks. I was able to stock up on snacks and sandwiches and leave them by our mailbox. Then we could cycle twenty miles and I could stop and eat a PB&J sandwich, which is apparently the best thing for you. But there will be no sandwiches on the ride - they'll be dishing out water, orange juice and bananas and that's it. That might be a problem. I've made sandwiches and I'll stuff them in pockets along the bike but a day old they may be rather horrible. Still, water will be more important than food, because it's going to be 88 degrees!!!! My hottest training was in 75 degrees but this is going to be more than 10 degrees hotter. I always said that heat could be the biggest problem. 

And because of family illness, I've not been able to train since last Sunday. I know that a couple of days of rest is important before a ride but this is different - I've not cycled in a week. And perhaps because of that, my muscles have started straining and, most importantly, my left knee is back to hurting again. It hurts so badly that I've got it in a knee brace right now. I can't cycle in the brace because it's too tight for cycling, but I am in real amounts of pain.

This ride is going to take everything I've got. People at the Temple joke about the amount I've raised in pledges "....if you finish...!" It's a real question, actually. I really want to in order to raise around $20,000 for the Temple and the really important work that we do. But I'll just take it one mile at a time and see what happens.

Someone realised that what we should have done is raise pledges and then run a sweepstake on which mile I end up stopping on. Yes, I've now done 80 miles so the received wisdom is that I should be able to complete 100, but there are differences - less food, much higher temperature and no practice for a week. We will see how this goes...

There is still time to sponsor me. To do that, please please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/655G575.

Thank you.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Big Push

Revd Ben Larzelere, the person riding with me in Acoma, said that if you pass the magic 500 miles training then you'll be able to ride 100 miles in a day. I'm not convinced. Until last Sunday, the furthest I had gone was 40 miles. I needed to get beyond 50 miles, possibly 60. 

I set off early. The first twenty miles went well but after 2 hours and 20 minutes of cycling, at around 30 miles, I had to get off the bike. The butt pain was back. I decided to keep going but 15 minutes later I had to stop again. These twenty mile loops were very helpful. I head out from my house near Old Santa Fe Trail, head to Harry's Roadhouse, turn left and head towards Eldorado. Once I get to Spin Docs I turn around and head along the long road back towards Santa Fe, turn right and head up and then down the hill to Kaune's, turn around and head back up the very steep hill, before heading up the slow hill of Old Santa Fe Trail and back to my home. It's exactly 20 miles in a loop that covers 900 feet of altitude. So, three loops of 60 miles also means climbing (and descending) three sets of 900 feet, which is 2700 feet. That's the kind of preparation I need.

I decided not to rush. The first lap was finished in 1 hour 28, the second another 1 hour 36 later. But I was getting slower and was in pain. I didn't just stop at 2 hours 19 and 2 hours 44, but also 3 hours and 49, 4 hours, 4 hours 12 and 4 hours 34. That's a lot of stopping and a lot of pain. But after each 20 mile lap I would stop and take a snack that I had left in my mailbox. That worked well until Asher saw me snacking from them and, when I was on my second lap, he decided to raid the snacks. Thankfully, Jenny was home and was able to quickly rush down a PB&J sandwich (that's peanut butter and jelly/jam, for the non-Americans) to me.

I finished the 60 miles, including stops, in 4 hours and 55 minutes. At that rate, I'll finish the Tour de Acoma in just about 8 hours and 20 minutes at an average of 12mph. That's really not very quick, but at least it'll finish.

There's only one way to be sure that I could finish this - I need to do 70 or 80 miles, and I need to do it tomorrow. I've decided to remove the new saddle and to use the special super-comfy cross-bike saddle. At Bike and Sport they said that that might not be a good idea because it won't be good for my knees, but if I can't sit on the seat then what can I do? So I decided to take off the saddle and change it, except I came across a problem - I can't undo it. They've tightened it so much that I simply can't undo it. So, it looks like I'm going to be trying to ride 80 miles on a seat that I know isn't comfortable. That's not good. Thankfully, Rich Cook from the community has offered to join me. I'd like to see whether having company will take my mind off my tusch.

This is the last big ride before the ride itself. If I can do 70 or 80 miles then I'll be in good standing. But if I don't - if I struggle - then I'm going to be in real trouble.

I am now only $4000 from my target of $20,000 pledged. If you are able to sponsor me, please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/655G575.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Real Pain In The Arse

I have been riding a bicycle on the road since I was ten years old. I remember my father taking me out on the road to practice, and doing my first right-hand turn in High View in Pinner. I took my cycling proficiency and scored 96%, thereby allowing me to legally cycle on the road. So, I've been riding on the road for thirty years. Four years ago I did a long bike ride, although not as long as this. And I can say that categorically yesterday was the worst day of cycling I've ever had in my life.

The first reason is because of the road burn I got last week. It kept oozing for a few days until it's finally started to scab over. Of course, because it's right next to my knee, as it does so it's now started to crack and pull on itself. So my right knee is profoundly uncomfortable. Never mind the left knee, which I seem to have somehow harmed many weeks ago by not riding with good enough shoes. So now both knees hurt, in differing ways. That's reason number 1. Reason number 2 is that I've had a dramatic weight gain. Jenny reckons it's muscle and I shouldn't be worried, but on the scales it's upsetting.


Reason number 3 is that after three weeks in this new saddle, suddenly I'm in serious pain. Butt pain. I know, the concept of butt pain is kind of funny, except for the pain part. And this isn't just it's uncomfortable riding on a pencil seat. I've actually been quite surprised at how well I adapted to riding on this road bike's seat. But for no particular reason after three weeks, it's started hurting. And I mean, really hurting. It hurts so much that yesterday I went to cycle 50 miles, and could only do 20. And the 20 that I did took as long as I normally take 30, and that's not including the times I stopped and got off the bike for a while. And when I did get off the bike, I actually howled in pain. That's how bad it is. I've never had anything like this.




The pain isn't muscular, it's on my bones. I come from a fairly boney-bummed family (interesting Rabbinic factoid you probably never wanted to know). I feel like I've actually bruised my butt bones, but nothing's happened to cause that. When I fell last week, I didn't even land on my bum. So, this has come out of nowhere.

I was tremendously depressed. I'm only three weeks away from the big ride and I really needed to be cycling 50 miles. Instead, I was howling in pain during 20 miles. In desperation, I took the bike into the shop and changed the seat for my Scott Roadster seat. That's the seat that was originally on my road bike but which I replaced with a MUCH larger mountain bike seat. I've always been used to large mountain bike seats. I like the padding.

It turns out that that large mountain bike seat (right) may have been responsible for me learning to cycle slightly bow-legged which in turn led to part of the issue with my left-knee once I got onto the road bike. It's basically so big that it pushes the knees out. But it is very comfy.

Anyway, I decided this morning to take the Scott seat out for a spin. I had to get over the really depressing ride yesterday and basically get back into the saddle immediately. In my mind, I set a target of just 10 or 15 miles to test the new saddle. But I only made it 5 miles for two reasons - the seat was better and I got a puncture. When I started this blog, I was going to slightly ham it up a little (for lack of a better Rabbinic term) in order to encourage sympathy and larger donations for the ride. But I haven't had to because I've just been plagued with one thing after another. I've never had it this bad cycling.


Near the end of my disastrous ride yesterday, congregant and friend Neil Lyon, who has been helping me through this training, was just about to set out on his 60-mile preparation for Acoma as I was coming home. I pulled alongside him and almost burst into tears. He had a look at my shorts and said that there was nowhere near enough padding. I explained that I had used these shorts for the other long-distance ride I had done 4 years ago. So he had a feel. I must say, it's the first time a congregant has ever touched my bum so deliberately. Neil wants me to point out that he didn't touch my bum, he rubbed it twice! But he said that for thin seats like these, I need more padding. So that afternoon he lent me a pair of his mega-expensive road-racing shorts, which basically have an extra seat in them. They're literally seat-of-the-pants.





Compare my padding (left) with the new padding (right)...



Still, even with the new padding this morning's 5-mile puncture ride was uncomfortable. So when I took the bike into the shop today, I told the guy there that even the Scott seat with new padding wasn't good enough. So he measured my butt. Apparently, the bones in my bum are 155mm apart (interesting Rabbinic factoid you probably never wanted to know #2), which is quite wide. So these seats aren't supporting me properly so I'm probably shifting around and hurting myself slowly. There was only one solution. Behold! My new 155mm road bike saddle!!


I got on in the shop and my bum hurt. He said I should maybe rest for a few days but I explained that with only three weeks to go, I have to train. So my plan is this. Try the new seat and hopefully the pain will go away. If it doesn't, I'm going back to the huge mountain bike seat. I have to be comfortable in the ride. I can't be howling in pain. And if I do go for that one, I'll just have to be very careful how I use my legs so as not to hurt my knee.

So, this has been a really crappy week. I really wanted to give up and I would have done had it not been for the sponsorship, I would have done. If you have not sponsored me, please, please do. I need all the support I can get. You can sponsor me by going to 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/655G575 

I need your help. Please sponsor generously. Thank you.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

CHILL OUT!

Sunday marked four weeks until the ride so I really needed to be sure I was on the road. Two members of the community called David and Brenda, who do ridiculously long cycle rides, joined me on their tandem. We set out at 6:05 so it was just light enough that we could be seen on the road, although their plethora of glowing safety equipment made sure of that, too!

 I've never actually seen a tandem in action but it was interesting - going uphill it's very slow but downhill the momentum makes it ridiculously fast. The first twenty miles flew by and David and Brenda had to stop after thirty but I was able to continue for my longest continuous ride so far...

I was in the saddle for just shy of three hours, and covered forty miles at the same time. This was really good going as far as I was concerned. The next day, David and Brenda emailed me to give me one really important piece of advice - "Take it easy!" I have a knee injury and, according to them I'm pounding the road at a terrific rate. It's not Tour de France material but then I'm not training for a race, and that's the point. Apparently, I'm cycling as though I'm racing and I'm therefore risking injuring my left knee further. So, what I need to do is chill out.

That's actually quite difficult for me. When I ride, I ride HARD. I try to beat my best last time. I try to push my limits to see what I can do. You may have noticed that by my concentration on times. It's almost certainly what led to the knee injury, if I'm honest. Brenda and David were adamant that instead of "pounding the road" as they say I've been doing that for the final few weeks I should focus on distance. Shorter rides regularly are better than longer rides rarely so that my muscles get used to constant cycling.

So I took their advice and slowed down. This morning, I cycled 5 miles in about 20 minutes, instead of 18. I actually enjoyed it a little more than usual. Then I cycled to work, then to a nearby meeting, then back, and shortly I'm going to cycle home. That will make 11 miles. Then if I add 14 more miles on this evening, that's 25 miles in a day - far further than previously. If I can keep up a few small rides a day I can really pile on the miles. So that's all great.

Well, almost all great. You see, the clips are a problem. The people at the bike shop told me that I would fall off the bike once, learn my lesson and then be really comfortable with them. It turns out that that wasn't true. Today as I was casually cycling a couple of miles back from a meeting, I stopped to check a text, because texting and cycling is really, really stupid. Don't do it, children. I sent my reply and got back on the bike. As always, I clipped in my right foot and pushed off on it. As the right foot went down and I moved forward, I went to clip in the left foot but it didn't go in. That doesn't normally happen. I started unbalancing to the right so I unclipped my right foot to put it down. It came out of the clip but not in enough time. I stretched out my leg quickly and because there's metal on the bottom of the shoes, slipped on the tarmac and did the splits perfectly over my bike which was now on the ground. For half a second I was extremely impressed with myself for being able to do that, and that was when I registered the pain on my right knee. This, people, is a road burn. I got back to the office and applied an alcoholic wipe. That was ridiculously painful - far more painful than the wound itself. It's now covered. It's not a crippling injury but it stings and is annoying because clips really are very difficult to get right. They are exactly the problem that I thought they might be.

Some Rabbis give blood, sweat and tears for their community. After training for this ride, I'm now two-thirds there. Hopefully, we'll be able to avoid the tears, though. But if you haven't yet donated, this is the level of dedication I'm giving this community! Please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/655G575 to sponsor me and show that it was worth it! Every donation helps. Thank you.



Tuesday, 16 August 2016

I'M FLYING!!!

Introducing myself to the new bike was a bit of a comical disaster. I ended up lying in the middle of the road because I had unclipped the wrong foot before stopping. But now I've learned my lesson and I'm able to ride the road bike properly. I cannot believe the difference it has made. It's so light compared to my cross bike, which now feels ridiculously sluggish by comparison. Before looking at my times, here's something else really worth looking at, my training chart.

You can see that in weeks 9 and 10 I cycled virtually nothing because of the bad knee. I've slowly come back to it, although this morning was meant to be another 15 miles but I was too exhausted from a late night. Anyway, in the first 12 weeks I've cycled a total of 335 miles. One week (week 8) I cycled more than the schedule required of me. 

Week
Total Miles on Schedule
Actual Miles Cycled
Total Miles
Weight
1
30
2
2
194
2
40
20
22
194
3
50
25
47
192
4
30
10
57
194
5
55
30
87
194
6
70
55
142
190
7
80
60
202
190
8
50
55
257
189
9
85
2
259
187
10
95
0
259
185
11
105
26
305
187
12
75
30
335
187

Check out my weight. I was losing weight slowly and steadily although the drop in activity on the regime has resulted in stagnation. Nonetheless, I've already lost 7lbs. With four weeks to go, I should be able to get that into double figures. So, that's progress. I'm not cycling enough, but I am cycling nonetheless. With four weeks left, I should probably pass 600 miles of training in order to be fully prepared. That's going to take more commitment than I felt this morning!

Now, what about the speed?

5 mile times
10 mile times
15 mile times
20 mile times
29



26



27



27



25



21:33
43:44


22:14
45:12


23:06



21:21



21:00
43:44


22:36
43:35
1:07:30

23:45
46:03


23:44
47:00


23:13
45:49
1:10:18


1:46:12
23:19
47:38


22:52
46:44


23:27
47:57



1:36:28
22:39
45:43


24:15
47:01
1:11:07


1:39:06
18:29


19:04



1:19:31
18:37
37:19


18:44
37:16


Blue is previous personal best (PB), yellow is current. The 15 mile column is about to get filled much more as my thrice-weekly ride is going to shift from 10 to 15 miles. But you can clearly see in the other columns when I shifted from the old bike to the new bike. My 5 mile PB was slashed by two and a half minutes. My 10 mile PB was slashed by 6 minutes. And my 20 mile PB was slashed by 17 minutes. I feel like this when I'm on the bike now...


I've honestly never cycled this fast. I'm going so quickly now that I even registered a reading on a local speed detector (which said I was doing 17mph). Speed isn't everything on a 100-mile race, though. The reason I pay attention to this is because during the Tour of Acoma, road support is withdrawn after about 7 hours and I'd rather have as little of my race as possible without support. An hour or two I can handle, more than that might be an issue.

I do know, though, that endurance is key, and I really need to be working more on that. There have been a couple of 30-mile rides but with 4 weeks to go, I should have at least done one or maybe two 50-mile rides by now. This weekend has to be a minimum of 40 as a result, but I'll push for 50 if I can. The key question is the left knee, which isn't very painful any more but is still aggravating me and still needs ice. 

So, I still have a lot of work to do. I'm now comfortable on the new bike with the new shoes and new way of riding. I say comfortable - the new saddle really hurts my bum. I'm used to more padding. But apart from that, I'm comfortable that I'm not very likely to fall off and hurt myself, even though every bump I hit in the road makes me think about it for a second or two. 

What I need is to build up my endurance. And what I also need is your support. I know without question that the more people sponsor me per mile, the more I'll be pushed to keep going. So please, please, please if you haven't sponsored me already, please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/655G575 to sponsor me. Thank you.