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Time To Get Serious About Grandma's--Cyclops 2.9

After the energy of the Birkie, there seems to be a bit of a let down in the months of March and April. Actually I think this is because all the snow melts and the pollens come out and all your grand plans of training 25 hours a week and preparing yourself utterly for next years Birkie are quickly dashed into a thousand pieces as you lay in bed pounding orange juice and watching episodes of "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" over and over and over.

Before you know it...it's the end of APRIL and you realize with a start that you've only run like 200 meters in preparation for the next great event on the horizon (at least for me): Grandma's Marathon!

Well, these days, I have to admit that the specter of going out there and suffering terribly all day long doesn't really scare me all that much anymore. Seriously, the first time that I signed up for Grandma's back when I was a young and impressionable 18...a sweet and innocent flower of a lad without as much as the hint of a dark shadow upon my soul (where'd that guy go?)...I honestly thought I was going to die during the course of that day. To deal with this stress, I just accepted it, and went through my preparation for Grandma's as if I'd recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer or a brain cloud or something. It's amazing how when you assume the worst, whatever then happens isn't all that bad (it can even be a letdown).

However, Grandma's still is a little ways off so there's time to get yourself in some kind of shape other than round. One way to do this would be to come and do the Eau Claire 1/2 or Full Marathon  this Sunday (May 2nd). You can't sign up for it anymore, registrations closed on Wednesday, but you can still come out and run on the roads because...hey...they're PUBLIC roads so what the heck can the race organizers do? Just pin on some sort of number and keep me company (or at least be ready with a couple beer runs...I start needing a beer after about 10 miles).  [Note, after I published this in our email and facebook newsletter it was rightly pointed out that slapping on a number would make us kind of look like jerks to a lot of race organizers...so it's best that we don't do it.]

In other news, our bike kits are still incubating at Mt. Borah, but as soon as they're ready we'll have them for you. I'm really hoping they'll be available for the Chippewa Valley Century ride, and I'm hoping you can all come for that (like all things in Wisconsin, it's sponsored by TWO breweries, and it finishes within a mile of my house so those of you who overdo it can crash on the floor and sleep it off).

For the more serious psychlists (psycho + cyclist) among you, here are our useful and informative articles from the last two weeks (there are a lot of Frank articles this time around, he must notice it when I get a little "twitchy" and "punchy" in my articles and he steps in to stop me before I start saying things I, or somebody, might regret...others among you wait for those moments alone...don't think I don't know):

How To Upload Photos in Blogger's New Interface

This is a technical article for those wonderful souls out there who have permissions to jump onto CyclovaXC and write brilliant run/bike/ski articles.  For those of you who want a permission like this (and to thus come under my tutelage as a internet psycho writing guru) please inform me at cyclovaxc at gmail.com (you have to use that little "at" there instead of the "@" because apparently there are things out there called "bots" that "harvest" your email otherwise and send you links to porn which get you fired from your teaching job...er...so I've heard).

The great/annoying thing about using free blogger interfaces like blogger is that you can wake up in the morning one day and have the entire program you're used to using suddenly be COMPLETELY different!  Being a creature of habit who resists learning anything with the stubbornness of a comatose gorilla (I only picked up Spanish after I became convinced I couldn't get all of Peru to switch to English), it annoys me whenever I have to learn something new.

So you can imagine my disgust when I logged into blogger today and got all set up to write yesterday's awesome post about blisters exploding in your feet while you are running (god that was such a good post...and so relevant to marathon runners), only to discover that I couldn't seem to upload a photo to my blogger interface page.

You see, blogger had changed the damn thing overnight...which vexes.

Let me back up by saying that the way you add a picture is by clicking a little square right in the middle of the nav bar (it looks like a polaroid of a landscape...you can't see it in the above image because it's covered up by the "add image" pop up window).  Normally when you click this, an "add image" pop up window appears with a blank space that allows you to search for images on your computer.  HOWEVER, today, I got an "add image" pop up window that gave me three different choices...NONE of them "upload image from your computer."  The choices were to add image: from this blog, from Picassa Web Album, or from a URL.

Well, the picture that I wanted wasn't on THIS BLOG, and it wasn't on a PICASSA WEB ALBUM, and it wasn't at a URL!!!!  It was on my frickin' computer and there wasn't an option for that!!!!

Jessie Frichin Crest!  

Of course there was nothing to do but go on a Mickey Rourke like rampage where I ripped cupboards down from the ceiling and threw plates at the windows and tossed my TV out into the street.  Then I drank all the vodka in my house and drove to Luxembourg (I didn't realize you could either) where I joined a death cult and was just about to take my opening/closing rituals when I decided I could maybe do an internet search to see if some other smart blogger had figured out a way to "upload photos from your computer" using this new blasted format.

After about six hours of constant internet searching that left my fingers ground down to stubs and my eyes raw and bleeding...I'd found NOTHING!  So I threw another temper tantrum, beat a pony in a footrace, discovered the answer to the square root of negative one, and wrote up a two thousand page treatise on what's going on in the center of a singularity.
At the end of all these labors, I sat there panting and exhausted.  I happened to find myself underneath my desk, and my computer was there as well.  Glancing over at it, I saw that the "Add photo" pop up window was still lit, and although "add image from your computer" wasn't one of the three choices on the left (my left...not the computer's left), there WAS apparently an option for "upload photo from your computer" within the "Add images from this blog" window.

"Well, what kind of IDIOT would ever expect ANYONE to look for it THERE!" I belched with disgust, dislodging the flavor of shellfish and peach schnapps. 

I tried it and it worked (look at the diagram above).  And if you have any further questions...I'm probably not the best guy to ask.

P.S. I've noticed since I wrote this that they apparently changed it back or simply changed it again...sigh...that's what I get for using a free service I guess!

For those in the market needing to update their technology, try out these current promos.

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When a Blister Bursts Like a Balloon

The other day I was out running and I felt this blister forming.  Blisters aren't the end of the world...sure, some people get all whiney about blisters and start to cry about how much they hurt, but the way I look at it, if you really were all that bothered by pain you wouldn't be out running in the first place.

Well, the same thing happens every time you get a blister.  You feel it sitting there and it becomes like an annoying guy sitting next to you on a long car drive that keeps talking and won't shut up.  Worst of all, everything he says is all about HIM!

"Blister this...Blister that...Blister, Blister...blah, blah, blah."

It's an annoyance, but it's not enough to stop anything, so you just keep running, running, running, and that blister keeps swelling and swelling.  Like I said, it stings a little bit, and you wish it wasn't there, but it's never bad enough to make you stop running (well, it is for SOME pansies).

After a while, you start thinking how nice it would be if that blister were just GONE!  You kind of think about stopping and bursting it with a piece of glass from alongside the highway, or maybe a piece of rusty metal, or a rock, or something...maybe a discarded pen...THOSE are good for jamming into the hard outer shell of a blister and getting that nice fountain effect of high pressure liquid being sprayed into the atmosphere.  Of course you're not going to stop because you have utter contempt for anyone who stops running for something as trifling as a blister, but you THINK about it (and that's almost as bad).

Well, the blister continues to sit there and annoy and then, right when you've kind of gotten used to it and are able to forget about it and enjoy your run again for a change, the blister EXPLODES!

And right away you start wishing for the old relationship you used to have.

Because when a blister explodes (and I'm talking about a minimum quarter sized blister like the ones I very rarely...but sometimes get when I'm running...only when I'm using sandpaper for socks because I want to toughen up my feet) it's like you've just blown a tire.  First of all I think the massive blister was accountable for your foot staying stable in the shoe, and without that sizing shim, all of a sudden everything goes all off-kilter.
Then there's the AGONY of it, because now, all of a sudden, that ridiculous tender area under the blister is getting rubbed by your shoe and it's probably going to be all bloody and deformed by the time you get home. It's especially bad when you've got like another 1.5 hours of running to do once your blister has popped.

But really, my advice is to just keep repeating to yourself how much you love it.  Essentially having big blisters explode and then having your feet turn into infected ragged messes is all just part of running.  Even having your feet amputated is no excuse for not running however...you can have a day off while they fit the prosthetics but then you better GET BACK OUT THERE MR.!

(did you like the picture I picked for this blog?)

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Chippewa Valley Century Ride

Above is the copy of the entry form for the Chippewa Valley Century Ride scheduled for May 30th 2010.  This is a fun event, and it used to herald the beginning of the bike season for me (you can see how much of a serious cyclist I was...I didn't start riding until MAY).  Actually, not much has changed, what with my focus on Grandma's marathon, I'm not getting on the bike much (and whenever I DO get on the bike, I feel guilty about the fact that I'm not running).

The thing that's fun about this event is that it's a RIDE and not a RACE which means you can just tool along happily at 15 mph and talk, crack bad jokes, and await the rest areas where there are likely to be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  It's only a $25 event, and the fact that the start line is literally a mile from my house makes this a must do for me (so I hope a few more CyclovaXC dudes and chicks can make it).

If you want to sign up for this, just click on the above image and it should become magically bigger, now you can print it off and check out the details.  More importantly is the following image which contains the waiver.   Print off both of them, send them in, and we'll see you there!

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Nice Photo of a Bicycle Crash

I guess it's not all that nice of me to make fun of a fellow cyclist...but heck, I don't know that guy!

Actually this is one of those famous photos that has been floating around the internet forever.  I originally got this in a forward back in 1982 (back when I first built the internet...yeah, that was me).

There are several things to note in this image.  I like the guy's scrunched shoulders reaction in the background.  You can tell he's wincing at the fall and he's not even looking at how the crashing cyclist is doing a faceplant right into the rear wheel of the competitor in front of him.  Speaking of that, how well do you think the guy in front handled the disruption?  Usually that rear wheel is pretty stable...but man, it looks like this guy is hitting with some FORCE!  I wonder if it was hard enough to puncture the tire with his teeth.  Good thing this wasn't a road race, imaging a 120 psi tire blowing up in your mouth in addition to the road rash on your knees (try explaining those injuries to a doctor, he'd probably look at you sideways and say, "don't ever tell ANYONE about this, do you hear me, take this to your GRAVE!!!!"). 

Anyway, try to avoid this scenario in all your upcoming bike events!

A Racer's Secret Weapon: Flat Coke

Have you ever been around an the feed zone of a race to watch the elite racers go through? Ever notice those little bottles of dark mysterious liquid that the team service guys are passing out to their athletes? Ever perplexed by why those elite athletes are using clear or colored liquids early in the race, but the dark stuff at the end?

Here's your answer: They're drinking "Flat Coke" late in the race! I'm no scientist, but I've been around racing for about 20 years as an athlete, serviceman, and in the industry, so I'll do my best to explain.

You see, early on in an event, your blood sugar levels are fluctuating, muscles aren't overly fatigued yet, mentally you're fresh. The primary focus early on in the race is to maintain hydration and maintain glucose levels. That's why we drink water/energy drink and eat bars/gels during events.

However, you know that feeling toward the end of a long event like the Birkie, a Marathon, or a long bike race where you are simply fatigued and ready to be done? That's when it's time to pull out the secret weapon if you're so lucky - Flat Coke!

You see, Coke seems to be magical for that time when you have nothing left to give but you still have the 10 most painful minutes of a race to complete as well as a sprint in to the finish. Think about it; Coke has a lot of sugar (some would say junky sugar, but sugar no less), lots of caffeine, and it really cuts through the nasty cotton mouth you often have at this late point in the race.

Often times, an athlete will be ready to give up. After having a mouthful of Flat Coke and the adrenaline that comes from the finish of the race approaching, new life is instilled into the near bonked athlete and they're again ready to fight it out to the finish.

To flatten coke, simply pour out the Coke into a big bowl and let it sit out for several hours, (overnight before a race) so that the carbonation all goes away. This will help you avoid it fizzing up in your mouth while trying to choke it down!

Athletes racing through the feed zone at a NCAA race I watched at Soldier Hollow this January. What's in the bottle?

Never try something for the first time in a race, so first try some flat coke toward the end of a long and tough training session and see what happens. If you have the luxury of having someone feed you during your next long race, maybe they'll be handing you that little mysterious bottle of black liquid!

BIKE TECH VIDEO: When to replace your bicycle chain

When to replace your bike chain? A common question for sure and a mystery to many!

Recently on CyclovaXC.com, we've featured both an article and tech video on exactly how to clean and lubricate your chain, which will dramatically extend the life of your bicycle drive train. However, no matter how well you care for your chain, eventually it will need to be replaced.

Thanks to a couple of great tools on the market, it is easy to know when your chain needs replacement. In the following video, I review exactly how to use your Park Tool CC-2 Chain Checker to determine when your bike chain needs to be replaced. Check it out!

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Our Big Plans for the CyclovaXC Store

Hello Everybody!

Man, it has been a busy couple weeks for Frank and I and I think our blog is suffering from it.  The only parallel I can draw is how the episodes of "South Park" got a little stale while Trey Parker and Matt Stone were making the first "South Park" movie.  As much as those guys are just cups running over with creativity, there came a point when the well ran dry, and to some extent I feel the same thing is happening to me.

Still, rest assured that this blog is not going to go away, and when one or two other minor details get taken care of over the next six weeks...we're going to come back strong and hit you with blog post after blog post about skiing, biking, running, and where the best beer can be had afterwards.

The truth is, the idea of opening a shop has been a dream for us going back to the days of Riverbrook really.  For a long time I kind of thought of this fitness fascination as a bit of a luxury pursuit.  But, bit by bit, my thoughts are changing on that.

You see, lately I just haven't had time to do any exercise.  I've literally done 4 hours of running SINCE THE BIRKIE!  I'm feeling like a disinflated balloon.  I keep telling myself that "I don't have time to run" or exercise, or whatever...but you know what?  It's not true!

You might think you're being more efficient by studying through the night or working through the day instead of taking that 60 minutes for yourself to go running, but after a couple of weeks of that, your work performance drops noticeably.

The fact is you NEED that training time.  You NEED to get out there and pump some fresh blood through the stagnant whirlpools of your mind.  It's not a luxury, it's a necessity!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm REALLY looking forward to the day when I can spend 100% of my time dedicating myself to this pursuit!  That's what opening a shop means to me!

Cyclova XC Group Training Run: Thursday Nights at Hyland Park Reserve

Getting out to train as a group is a good time, and having fun is what Cyclova XC is all about!

Come join us along with others on Thursday nights at 4:30 for trail runs through beautiful Hyland Park Reserve, in Bloomington, MN!

The group generally leaves at 4:30PM sharp from the QBP Parking lot directly into the park, click HERE for a map. There is public parking in the QBP lot, near the park entrance (look for the signs). There is generally a wide array of runners enjoying each other's company, ranging in pace from 13 minutes per mile to sub 7's. Usually, the entire group runs together for one 3 mile lap around the Hyland Lake and then some people go out again for a faster and perhaps longer loop.

Samantha, Tom, and Frank out enjoying a recent Thursday night run

We avoid running on any pavement in the park, so you'll fit right in if you wear your Vibram 5 Finger shoes (no joke, sometimes a majority of the runners have these on, but that's a whole other story).

An sample of the great running/xc ski trails at Hyland

The group ranges in size from week to week, but we're out there every week! Just show up or post on our Facebook wall to find out how many others will be there. See you on the trail!

Hyland Lake, a lap around this is a great way to start your run!

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Dave Gabrys Launches Cycleture: A great new cycling page!

There's a new cyclist relevant blog on the horizon at www.cycleture.com.  This is Dave Gabrys' baby and it's a really slick looking page, nice work!  For those of you who know Dave, he's prone to posting sweet cyclist photos on Facebook.  I've been trying to get him to start contributing to CyclovaXC for quite some time now, but I guess I understand why he's been reluctant :)!

Anyway, I think Cycleture will be relevant to all CyclovaXC readers, so take the time to drop by it if you get a chance (or you just need a "cycling" break while you're dealing with your latest round of nonsense performance reports...it's like I say, if nobody died that week, then you were an effective employee [and if managers would spend the same time working as they did writing performance reports, the whole company would be 10 times more effective]).

Also, maybe we can get Dave to send us an occasional photo in exchange for a link here and there?  What do you say Dave?

Event Profile: Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon, coming up on June 19, is one of those "measuring stick" events here in the Midwest. Similar to the Birkie, Fat Tire, or Firehouse 50, when you tell someone you're a runner/marathoner, they'll likely ask if you do Grandma's and what your time was in it.

As annoying as that can be (annoying because there are so many other great races, and us athletes don't like our abilities to be defined entirely by one event), it speaks to the scale and caliber of the event.

Grandma's Marathon is one of those events that brings the top athletes of the world to the Midwest. While the occasional Midwesterner like Dick Beardsley will win the event, this seems to come only once per generation. For us enthusiasts that are out there to have fun, stay fit, and hang out with like minded people (what Cyclova XC is all about), Grandma's is also the perfect event. What could be better than running 26.2 miles on the most beautiful and biggest lake in the world?

The leaders of the 2006 Grandma's Marathon at approximaly mile 5

As you might imagine, Grandma's Marathon is a true world class event. The organization is evident and the participant's experience is almost always fantastic! All of the details from the registration, to the busing to the start (from Duluth to just south of Two Harbors), to the finish chute, to the feed zones is truly pro.

The pre-race fog on the course of the 2006 edition. See the below story for more on this humid day.

My own favorite experience at Grandma's wasn't in actually running it, rather spectating. My own wife Abby who is a Grandma's veteran several times over ran the race back in 2006 with her close friend Cara Jo (designer of our lovely newsletter logo). This was no ordinary June day. Humidity was off of the charts and the temps were very high. It was so sticky, the fog didn't burn off until mid day along the lake and in simply moving through the thick air, you became soaked in moisture.

My goal was to spectate and give them as many feeds as possible. I wanted to do this on my bike, so I loaded up my bike with a couple gallons of fluids (Water, Gatorade, Flat Coke) as well as a variety of energy foods. I also looked carefully at all of the little back roads that cut back and forth between the Scenic Lakeshore Drive (the race course) and Hwy 61. I discovered that there are many cut across roads. I first saw the racers come by at about mile 5. My ladies (Abby and Cara) were feeling great at that point and I believe declined any feeds. I then jumped back on my bike, time trialed my way back to Hwy 61, took the next cut across road back toward the course and caught them again a few miles further down the course. In total, I saw them a total of 9 times on the course and was able to give them many feeds at just the right time. Both Abby and Cara had fantastic races both finishing in about 4 hours, a huge feat considering the challenging conditions.

So make the drive to Duluth and go be a part of Grandma's Marathon this year. You won't regret it!

What do you think of Grandma's Marathon? Let us know by leaving a comment below...

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Aaron, Kathie, and Greg at the Durand Bike Race

I was out puttering about with my camera during the Durand bike race that Aaron mentioned a few days ago.  Honestly, these days I'm not so pumped to actually DO bike races (too much road rash...from crashes that I caused, heh heh), but I still enjoy watching them...especially when people are going round and round in circles.

It was kind of hard to pick out CyclovaXC members because we don't have our awesome CyclovaXC bike kit in yet (it's coming...it's coming), but I did my best.  Another problem was that they put the finish line on the wrong side of the sun, so the lighting was bad (and I wasn't about to walk 3.5 miles to get on the good side of the light...although I might have to resort to that in the future...sigh).  Still, I managed to grab a couple nice shots.  Here's one of Kathie:
That jersey is going to get a little hot when the temperature starts going up (black isn't the color you want for a bike jersey, it absorbs too much heat from the sun...but no fear, the CyclovaXC jersey is coming soon).

And I think it might be Greg at the back of this pack...biding his time and sharpening his teeth until it becomes time to POUNCE (which is sort of like how Greg's last name is prounounced...or should be in a perfect world...in fact, that's what I'm calling him now)...but then again, it might not be greg (I'll be able to tell better when OUR jerseys get here):

Seriously folks, this is all about communication. Let me know what races you're going to be at, and if it's within a 2 hour drive, chances are I'll be there to snap some action shots (so you don't have to pay marathon foto fifty gazillion dollars for a 4 X 6 inch print.