Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Monday morning, a new week has started and it just so happens to be the last day of 2007. Having time of from work feels like it´s friday afternoon all the time: no hurries, no worries - life´s a bless.

Example: wake up at 6 am to the nice smell of freshly brewed coffee, a small breakfast and getting ready for a morning run . Jo took me to the Broadway Trailhead and we did a marvellous trail run in between the fascinating giant saguaros, chollas, prickly pears, sleeping lizards, Jack rabbits and the dreaded snakes coming out from hibernation. I was running behind Jo the whole way, untill she said that rattlesnakes usually don´t bite the first person in a group but the second or third...

After some stretching, Jo went home in the car and I ran home, ending up with empty legs and 94 minutes of running. After some recovery food and a shower, I put on the the kinky compression socks (Powertubes made by Fusion) and headed to the workshop to put on my new PowerCranks. As much as I like the effects of riding the PowerCranks, I must admit there´s supposed to be a law against mutilating a nice looking, light weight bike with these massive chunks of metal! After replacing the SRM cranks with the Lock Out PowerCranks, the bike gained more than two pounds!!!

Well, I guess you should look at the overall picture and why not loose a few pounds of adipose tissue instead?

Anyway, after a well executed powernap, I got dressed for the PM ride and headed out in the bright sunshine of a 68 F/19 C day, made for riding. My first ride without warm knees/arms/legs and such a nice feeling that is.

What wasn´t so nice was getting used to PC´s again...

First problem was clicking in to LOOK pedals instead of Time MTB pedals - I´ll have to stay away from Full Stops signs and red lights for a while. At first I couldn´t even hit the 180 degree rhythm, but once I got going things got smoother. It wasn´t the easy recovery spin it was supposed to be, but more like a tired, stubborn man struggling at 15 mph...

Made it up till Babad Doag Vista Point at three miles up Mt. Lemmon and enjoyed a banana while overlooking most of Tucson from and east side perspective.

Limped back after 2.30 and 66 km, had a shower and off to sushi dinner with Cole, Jo, Jon and Howard and Suzy. The food was very delicious, but don´t bother ordering the omelet - I craved a plate full of a 12 eggs omelet, but got to square pieces of stiff egg nicely arranged on a ball of rice. It was past midnight GMT, so the Brits and I congratulated each other with a happy New Year. Then The High Forties took off to see a movie and Cole and me cruised around the neighborhood (west on Broadway) to check out some cool ice cream palace, but with no luck. I got a set of Skull Candy earphones instead and they have an impressive bass - watch out eardrums!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nice day for riding a convertible

Woke up at 5 am, decided to read and write a little bit, before Jon got up at 6 am. We had a hearty breakfast of cooked oatmeal and about a gallon of coffee. We met with the South West Hand Cycling Team (Jo and Jons team) at La Buzz, at Catalina Highway and Tanque Verde. It was bitterly cold and I wore nearly all my clothes. Jon assured me it would soon be warm, but doubts were had... It turned out he was right, as todays riding were on the beautiful slopes of Mt Lemmon. This mountain is just unbeatable in terms of climate, vistas, smells, length, sensible grades and road surface conditions. No wonder you could count hundreds of cyclists heading up Catalina Highway, to enjoy this natural wonder. The climb is 25 miles long to the small group of houses called Summerhaven. You´ve got mile markers the whole way and for every 1000 feet there´s signs - good for reality checks. The bottom half mile is probably the steepest, but quickly turns into a very gradual incline, that´ll allow you to spin your legs once in a while, so you don´t have to grind away for a full two hours. You´ll pass through 6-7 climate zones, starting with desert scrub (Majestic Saguaro Cactus) and ending in alpine vegetation (Pine and Aspen) - you can actually tell the different smell of the vegetation on your way up. At mile 20 the road goes downhill and youll loose some altitude before the final ascent to Summerhaven - but relax, you´ll get to ascent the little piece on your way back down the mountain. Summerhaven is at 9500 feet (2650 m) and it can get pretty cold on the way down. This time of year, watch out for ice on the road, as melting snow running across the road will freeze at night and make for an exciting descent...
Wrap up: everybody who´s fond of cycling should give themselves the opportunity to experience this magnificent scenery and physical challenge.
So, after peeling and peeing at mile zero we went up to mile 9. I wanted to go steady to mile 5 and decide to stay around 200 watts. Maybe I´m in bad shape or the SRM is badly calibrated, cause me and Dean didn´t go slower than 20 km/h and my heart rate rose til 170 in the final two minutes. I gotta have a Peter Riis (great SRM troubleshooter) give me some advice on how to get the readings back to normal, or I should get a wheelchair instead... I got dropped seriously on the descent, which was surprisingly warm. I think Jon led the group screaming through the turns, while I was getting used to the somehow light front end of my Specialized bike. Next time I´ll try and do a better job following the group.
We all ended up at the very nice coffee shop La Buzz, got some seriously huge cups of coffee and sat outside in the warm sunshine - isn´t that what life´s about?
I broke up a little earlier to get in another 90 minutes and decided to ride to mile 7,5 in the warm sun. I wish everybody I know could be here to share this experience, it´s amazing. Back home again Jon, Cole and me drove to Howard and Susy´s place in Jons black convertible Porche Targa - that was an interesting ride, especially with Jon at the steering wheel...
Perfect weather and surroundings for a cruise in an outstanding car.
Back home I skipped the planned pm run and ate the most delicious turkey soup you would find south of the Catalina mountains - really nourishing. If I don´t fall asleep, I´ll watch the NFL game, Colts vs Titans, in the final round in the regular season. Next week is wildcard weekend, then it´s divisional play offs, a rest week and then finally Superbowl XLIII in Phoenix, AZ on the 3rd of February.
This weeks numbers:

Run 42 km 3.02 hrs

Cycling 286 km 10.44 hrs

Flying 10.000 km 18.00 hrs

Weight 160 lbs

Smiles a lot!

New Years Eve Party last night!

Curtis and Skiles had a big fire going, that was visible from most of Tucson. It´s pretty illegal within city boundaries, but gave a really good heat in the cold evening. All of a sudden, there was a lot of sirenes sounding and I think Curtis was sure it was the police and fire dept. coming to our rescue. The early New Years Eve celebration was caused by peoples usually busy schedules on that particaular night, so it was a good idea as a lot of people showed up. The theme was superheroes and there was some good creativity put in to most of the customes - not mine though, I just wore my Flash Gordon T-shirt... Skiles hates custome parties and he ended up throwing his new bought black cape on the fire before the party really got started! He looked kind of silly anyway, but nowhere compared to Curtis who wore a giant Winnie The Pooh dress! I´m not sure I know all of the Marvel carachters, but ´she´s definitely not one of them and by the way Trish, Santa Claus isn´t either.

There were lots of beers, wine, licquor and soft drinks, not to mention the awesome food! I hadn´t had dinner so I snacked my way through it all - the tamales were kind of tricky to handle.
Went home around 11, still a bit affected by the jet lag, but I´m getting adapted. Went by K-Mart on the way home to get some bananas and Cliff Bars...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Missing the Saturday Shootout...

Above is a picture of the house cat, Nick - very pretty and acting like a dog!

So today is Saturday and when you´re in Tucson riding your bike, you don´t wanna miss the Shootout. It´s the local weekly World Championships and a very sure way to get a hard ride and most certainly get your butt kicked as there´s always a lot of strong riders.

The Saturday Shootout is an open groupride, starting from the University at 7.00 am and steadily grows in numbers as riders will join the ride all along Mission Road untill the lights at Valencia. That´s the end of the "neutral zone"/warm up and you´d better finish peeing or redressing as you wanna find your place in the 100+ riders peloton. The speed will quickly increase, the peloton will get strung out and people will start peeling off from the back. The smartest thing is to stay close to the front and watch for potholes and people who are swaying or falling back. Don´t look at your speedometer or heart rate monitor; the latter will be alarmingly high, while the first will be surprisingly low, due to false flat nature of the road. There´s an unofficial finish line at a crest somewhere after the bridge at 13 miles, but don´t relax too much as the pace will be kept high all the way to Duvall Mining Road, where there´s usually a small break. If you´ve been dropped by the fierce pace, you´re best bet is to cut it through Helmet Peak and join the group at the store at Old Nogales, where you´ll be zooming back towards town with a high quality 50 miles in your legs. A highly recommendable ride.

But today I decided to miss out on the suffer fest for, at least, three reasons:

1. The time of day(night?), it´s still dark at 06.15 when I have to leave the house in order to be at the University at 7 am.

2. The temperature: this morning it was 20 degrees F/-5 degrees C and there was no way I would expose myself to that kind of temperature. I might as well have stayed in Denmark.

3. Lack of fitness: with my current fitness I would be suffering like a roasted javelina the whole way, including the warm up to Valencia... I would probably have to let go very early and if I have to ride by myself, I would rather wait a few hours till the temperature gets up to a decent high forties.

So at 9 o´clock I donned my running shoes and ran out east, till the end of Speedway, in 31.31 minutes and got back after 61 minutes. My mouth was very dry as the humitidy is very low here in the desert. I ran on the gravel shoulder most of the way and only met about ten cars. At the end of Speedway I stopped to pee and do some push ups and recognized an unfamiliar silence. It´s so quiet out here in the desert, on the very outskirts of town - unimaginable. A weird kind of serenity fills you, even though your heart is pounding and your gasping for air. One of my nicer runs ever!!!

Well, time for a quick shower and on the bike to meet the Roberts downtown, where they´re taking care of a yard sale...

Tonight I will be going to a New Years Party at Curtis and Stella - looking forward to seeing them and their to sons, Oscar and Sebastian.

So basically my afternoon spin on the bike, was an easy trip through most of Tucson, visiting people...

I was away for 5 hours, but only got 2.45 of actual riding - good ride anyway.

Went home and had a shower, watched Patriots vs NY Giants and borrowed Jons car to go to the party.

Back in Tucson

So after a pretty uneventful flight I´m back in Tucson.

Peter and his girlfriend Stine drove me to Hamburg Airport and after more than 24 hours of travelling, I was picked up in Tucson Intl. Airport by Jon Roberts.

I first met Jon Roberts back in 1998, when me and my brother went to Tucson for the first time and we stayed at the (in)famous Aquila Manor - a nice apartment complex crowded by cyclists and owned by Jon.

Jon and his wife Jo has always treated us as part of their family and it´s a great feeling, knowing that you can travel across the globe and they´ll help you in any way they can. In Denmark, Americans are known for their great hospitality and I wish more people would have the opportunity to experience this by themselves. Besides giving a unique insight to American culture and mentality, it makes you believe in the importance and value of first hand international relationships.

Jon and Jo has a great kid called Cole. I´ve seen him grow up over the last 10 years and noticed that he´s now riding bikes, playing baseball, feeding horses, staying home alone, baking cookies, expert in LEGO and has a great sense of humour. By the next I get here he´ll probably have outgrown me...

The Roberts have built a new house on the very east side of town on a huge property, which allows them to have horses in their backyard. The house is absolutely beautiful. It´s Spanish adobe style with very high ceilings and beautiful decorations. The craftmanship is second to none and it´s a pleasure walking around, discovering new details in this, by all standards, exceptional hous.

The riding has never been easier than from here: no traffic lights to deal with and you´re on to Old Spanish Trail in two minutes and Mt. Lemmon in 20 minutes - what else do you need?

Well, I´m still trying to deal with jetlag and trying to fit in to Tucsons time zone, 8 hours+.

Yesterday we rode three hours, 80 km, and I snug up to mile 1 at Mt. Lemmon - it´s an outstanding mountain, can´t wait to go all the way to Windy Point and Summerhaven...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Welcome to my new home

Just a few pictures of my new apartment, so that I´ll be able to remember what it looks like.

There´s three rooms: a combined bed- and bikestorage room, an office and a small living room. Besides that there´s a small kitchen and a nice bath room, with a heated floor.
The guy on the couch is my little brother, monitoring my packing and helping me fit my bike into the bike box. He´s just had a new job and unfortunately won´t be coming along to Tucson this time. I couldn´t think of a nicer kid brother than him and for better company in the whole world - he´s a great guy. Hopefully he´ll be tempted to come over for a week or two, when I start reporting back on all the nice riding and warm weather.

Which bike to choose?

So after being stressed out for about a week of moving all my stuff to my new apartment, some long postponed illness finally caught up with me and I´m feeling kind of weak. Funny how you can absorb a certain amount of stress for a certain amount of time, you then relax and so does your immune system. Well, I have 10 week holiday in front of me so I´ll get over it in time to enjoy my time off.

Right now I have to make sure I pack whatever I´m going to need for the next 8 weeks in Tucson, Arizona. From what I´ve heard The States should be pretty developed from a consuming point of view, so I might be able to buy the inevitable forgotten stuff. Actually I´ve already made a list of "need to have" stuff that I just gotta have, or my life will instantly turn miserable...

On the list of absolute necessities is: Powerbars, Cliffbars, a Kurt Kinetic Hometrainer, SkullCandy earphones, earplugsnoprene toe covers, the atheist book by Sam Harris, a couple of triathlon magazines and a lot organic fruit and vegetables - just bare essentials!

This is my fourth visit to Tucson for bike training and I know what to expect. Even though I consider myself a triathlete, I´m not bringing my TT bike as I intend to go for high volume and wanna be as comfortale as possible, so I´m opting for my road bike.

It´s gonna be my first time riding a carbon bike on the, sometimes rough roads of Tucsonand I hopefully I´ll have a softer ride than usual.

Well, back to packing and blowing my nose...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Everybody loves saturday night

Yeah, and this saturday night is particularly sweet, as I enjoy a well deserved rest from a good day of training. My good friend, Dan, came by for a short training weekend. Today we went for a 4 hour ride, relaxed with some European Swimming Champs on the TV and ended the day with a slow 1 hour run in the dark, collecting orienteering posts in the area around the local golf course.

My hip flexors carried me through nicely untill the three hour mark, then they slowly disintegrated and the last hour was a lot less elegant, but more painful...

Tomorrows program is the less known multisport event of 1500m swim, breakfast, moving stuff, putting my US-bound bike together and fixing my car + eats in between.

Phoned my former mother-in-law tonight (her brother has died) and she sounded just like she did 10 years ago and I bet she´s just as beautiful. Strangely enough we don´t see each other much, despite living relatively close together in this rather small town - wisiting her in 2008 gotta be a New Years Resolution Top Candidate.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Moving and the noble art of basic living

I´ve decided to create this blog in order to keep my family and friends up to date with my daily life and thoughts, while I´m in Tucson, AZ, USA, in January and February 2008.
Right now I´m moving out of the house I´ve considered home for the last few years. Sorting and packing all your belongings is a great chance to get rid of a lot of the junk that you´ve collected during the years.
Or a time to dwell on all the memories that each of the objects bring back to mind.
I´m really bad at throwing stuff out - you´ll never know when some of the things just might come in handy. On a therapeutic level, throwing stuff out is like cleaning up your mind.
In a world, extremely focused on material belongings, somehow the things we own end up owning us - we´re so afraid to loose or miss anything and we build our lifes around gathering and consuming material stuff.
With the fear of loosing the stuff we over-insure ourselfs and build fortresses with locks and alarms - all based on fear and disbelief in other humans.
And I´m very much infected with this bug...
I guess Freud would have explained this behavior with some kind of crisis in the anal phase - afraid of letting go/loose...
I´m a little ashamed of myself when I realize how much stuff I own, that I rarely/never use. Being a simple man, living a simple life, I go through certain simple routines everyday, that doesn´t require very much fancy or varied equipment.
Example: I eat a lot of raw fruit and vegetables and I peel and shred a lot everyday. But I can´t explain why I have +12 knifes and two electrical devices, when I only use the same two utensils?!?
Why have 7 bicycles, when you can only ride one at the time? I got a better and more qualified answer to that question, which I´ll cover later.