Are You Willing to Become a Master?

Interesting quote yesterday “Stick with something until you master it” I forget who said it but it is good advice.  It seems like s foreign concept now a days. Everyone wants things to be done now. They want the easy quick route of trying something and instantly being good at it. I know I have that problem at times. but not much. I get it. you have to work at it.  My kids definitely have this problem, but I suppose all kids do. The problem is that adults seem to have it as well.  There is just too much stimulus today.  A great example are apps on iPhones and iPads. Most of us buy apps like we eat mints: just one after the other. How many of us take the time to master any of the apps. Say you buy a great To Do app that offers lots of productivey gains if you use it correctly.  Do you take the time to learn, master and use the features? Chance are no. if you are like most of us, you probably have 3 or 4 To Do apps on your device and the one that you DO USE , you use intermittently.

 

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a few treasured apps that we know REALLY well and exploit their full potential????   Think of how much more focused and productive we would be. Not to mention the $$ savings we would have by not buying so many apps. Just find a few good ones, MASTER them and work. Don’t flit around like a butterfly never really accomplishing anything. In fact THIS is one of my resolutions for the New Years. To focus on MASTERING things. I definitely have way to many apps that I have thrown money at and never really used, what a waste.    I look at my daughter and when she is geeked about something she stays with it. She is totally into drawing. She is obsessive about it. (she gets that from me). On the flip side, if she does not have interest in something she will TOTALLY blow it off. We see this in her school work. she does horrible in classes that don’t jazz her. (also from me). BUT she really tries to master the things that she is excited about. It is very cool to watch. 

 

RESOLVED: I, Roger Whitney, will work on mastering things in 2013.

It is Hard to Ride Easy, But Worth it….Sometimes

Mentally, it is hard to ride easy. According to my profile I have a sometime type-A personality. When I ride, the type-A part tends to dominate.

When I begin a ride that is unstructured (which most are) the conversation in my head typically goes like this. “Self” I say. “It is such a beautiful day and I am blessed to be able to and to have the motivation to be out here on my bike, I am just going to take it easy this time and just ride”. And I do. Well, I do until I get about 2 miles in and start to pay attention to my bike computer. See, my Garmin is programmed out of the box to give me my 5 mile splits. I have become a slave to my 5 mile splits. 15 minutes divided by 5 miles equals 20 mph average (about what I ride). About 2 miles into my ride I start to calculate my 5 mile split. This is were I begin to change from “just ride” to “I am a cyclist that averages 20 mph”. The rest of the ride becomes a series of 5 minute time trials that must average out to around 20 mph.

For sometime I have been trying to derail this M.O. and simply ride. Today I succeeded. I ignored my Garmin and just rode. Well, I didn’t ignore my Garmin, for some reason its announcements of subpar data just didn’t phase me. When I came to a hill, I pedaled but didn’t work to maintain any speed. On the flats, I stayed out of the drops and took in the scenery. On the downhills I soft pedaled. The ride lasted 25 miles, averaging 18.2 mph, with an average heart rate of 135 and cadence of 83. Here are a few observations:

1. It is not any easier riding slow. Going slow takes more time, more effort and benefits less from the momentum of the wheels. On hills my HR climbed nearly as high and stayed there longer. It actually felt harder at times. I think the difficult part of going faster is the mental and physical readjustment to the new faster speed.

2. You really do smell the roses. Well, maybe not this time of year, but I did enjoy the unfocused pleasure of riding. Without my constant internal coaching or calculations of my splits I was able to relax and enjoy be “present”. Here is a shot I took along the way.

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3. People in vehicles are nice. Although I am mostly a very curtious cyclist, today I was downright friendly. I waved to passing drivers and guess what? They waved back. Even the guys in pick up trucks. Most people are really very friendly if approached the right way.

4. Wind sucks even more when you are riding slow. I HATE WIND. In Texas it always seems to be windy and I always seem to be riding into the wind. Today, the wind averaged around 15 mph and when you go slow you feel it a lot more.

5. Cycling is a joy. Okay, I already knew this. Today’s relaxed ride reaffirmed my love of the adventure that cycling brings. I road my usual route. One that I have ridden probably more than 50 times this year. Today though, I rediscovered the much of the beauty that I normally dismiss.

Do you have a sport of a hobby you love? If so, I recommend that from time to time you put away your “A game” and do it for the pure joy of doing it.

Sparty On

Time to Get Off the xBox and Get on My Bike

Halo 4 and Call of Duty Black Ops II almost did it. They almost turned me into a complete couch potato. For the past 3-4 weeks I have barely ridden and haven’t stepped foot in a gym.

Oh, I’ve thought a lot about cycling. I signed up with TrainerRoad a great online training tool that makes indoor training more productive. After almost splurging on a Computrainer, I did some research and am waiting for Wahoo’s KICKR to be released (come on guys!). And I’ve found what will probably be the best new tool for 2013, the Garmin Vector power meter. See, I’ve THOUGHT about riding a lot. The problem is that each afternoon I think to myself, “gee, its cold out, the sun will be down in 40 minutes and what’s with the 20 mph wind. Then, I tell myself I’ll start tomorrow as I walk upstairs to the xbox room and literally waste 60-90 minutes of my life.

NO MORE. Yesterday, I rode 15 miles. It wasn’t pretty. The cold air induced my asthma and I had to cut it short. But I rode!! Today, I road 26 miles and felt much better. December, January and February is my chance to build for a great riding season (and perhaps more importantly hang with Bobby on climbs). It is exciting to be back on the bike.

SPARTY ON

Reuniting with Friends

Reuniting with important friends from my life reminds me that I need to do better about not losing touch with those that I respect and admire. In September I was able to reunite with three college buddies that I had not seen in over a decade (two of them in over TWO decades). We reunited to do something we never did while in college: ride bicycles. We met in Traverse City Michigan to ride the Leelanau Harvest Tour Century Ride.
Al, Greg, Bob and myself sporting MSU cycling jerseys.

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We arrived in Traverse City on a Friday night and wasted no time falling into our usual roles. Bob and I charging ahead with staying all night drinking wine and discussing anything and everything, Greg being the always friendly level headed chap and Al being, well being Al. Here is Al and Greg that first night (or you might say early morning)

20121109-161024.jpg The “big ride” was on Sunday so Saturday we did a “leisurely” ride up the Mission Bay Peninsula. Amazingly our riding styles matched our personality. Bob and I occasionally battled for the Alpha position, Greg enjoyed himself as he always does and Al, well, Al rode. Please note the “world’s largest saddlebag” that Al sported…nuf said.

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20121109-162312.jpg The Mission Bay ride was rated as one of Bicycling magazine’s most beautiful rides in America and it lived up to its billing. Rolling hills with apple orchards, old churches, wineries and an old general store (see Greg above). Here we are Saturday evening celebrating a perfect ride on a perfect day.

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The next morning we awoke tired, slightly hungover and ready for the Harvest Tour. We agreed that we would ride together until the first rest stop (about 20 miles). It was a chilly morning and Bob, who lives in AZ, was obsessed about being cold. For such a hard charging rider he can be quite wimpy. .

20121109-163009.jpg Luckily it turned out to be a perfect day.

Here are some images from a wonderful day riding.

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Each of us finished the ride and the weekend thankful that no matter how long it has been good friends remain good friends. Always.

I Ride Without a Net

I don’t like to ride with my cell phone. Just don’t like. My dislike is not due to a desire to break free of the world thing, there is a silence feature for that. See, I consider myself a suburban cycling hipster. As such, it is obvious that I prefer NOT to have a saddle bag (unlike this guy)

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This means I would have to carry my iPhone 5 in my jersey pocket and that just won’t do. My iPhone 5 is too precious to be smashed against my sweaty back for 30 miles (I sweat A LOT), so I just go without it.

WELL, the downside of this concession to my hipster lifestyle is that I run the risk of being stranded on the road if something goes wrong. Which has happened….more than once. Broken chain, broken broken spoke, flat tire, all I have endured. Most of the time, I am able to jerry-rig the issue and limp home. On occasion though, I’ve had to hike-a-bike for as much as 3 miles. It is during these episodes that a cell phone would have been nice.

BUT, I know a secret that all cyclists know but few reveal. As much as there is a shared animosity between cyclists and drivers, in general random people are very helpful. More often than not, when I find myself dealing with a mechanical mishap a passing cyclist or even a motorist will stop or slow down to offer an assist. On one long hike-a-bike adventure 3 different cars stopped to offer me a ride (all women driving alone!!!). I declined all three and hold no illusions that it was my spandex covered thighs of steal that caused them to stop. On Tuesday however, rather than finish my walk of shame I did accept a ride. My neighbor happened to be passing and gave me a lift. I made him promise not to tell my wife. She is constantly nagging me to carry my phone (she just doesn’t GET the suburban hipster thing).

There may come a day (like today) that I decide to carry my phone. Most likely it will be to document for the world the life of a suburban cycling hipster. Most definitely NOT to call for help when I am stranded.

SPARTY ON

You Can’t Buy Speed…Can You?

Roger Whitney

Now that I am committed to increasing the average speed in which I can pedal my bicycle, the extreme urge to buy “something” to allow me to achieve the goal is almost overpowering. What is the one (or two….three?) things that I NEED to buy. Lord knows there aren’t enough bicycle paraphernalia in my garage. there must be something that will instantly make me faster…just by buying it.

Last night as the family watched T.V. I was serving the internet on my iPad and started to get obsessed with the Computrainer.

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It is a trainer/virtual coach/analysis machine that connects to a computer and television to allow you to have a “true” riding experience and analyze tons of data. On it’s website it states very clearly that its’ use “increases your cycling power by 20 to 30% and your speed by 2 to 4 MPH. Whatever your starting point, you’ll improve significantly”. That sounds exactly like what I need!!!!

My problem is that once “hooked” on an idea like this I am generally done. I end of buying whatever it is. Although the online reviews from users praise the Computrainer as significantly contributing to their cycling skills, I am determined to take a prudent approach and wait…..well, unless you really think it is the key to my success!!!

Just Two Type-A Middle Age Guys Training to Ride FAST

Hello, I’m Roger (the guy on the left). Bob (the other guy) and I met at Michigan State University way back in the day. Bob lives in AZ with a wife and four kids and I live in TX with a wife and two kids.

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Recently we reunited along with two other MSU buddies, Greg and Al (who I am sure you’ll meet as well) for a 100 mile ride in Traverse City. It was such a great trip we’ve decided to make it an annual event. Being the hard driving guys that we are, we’ve decided to start this blog to chronicle our efforts to increase our mph average (currently 19mph) to 22 mph. Yes, I know, this is a monumental quest for a couple of middle age guys (mid-40s) and probably something you are very excited to follow. So tune in as Bob and I post our individual progress towards completing our quest for speed.