Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mammoth revisited...


Skiles and I drove to Mammoth and back today...
Skiles hadn't been there for a long time and I guess I'm just masochistic by nature. We drove by Biosphere 2, http://www.b2science.org/, on our way out and that is a really cool biological and sociological experiment, having people living in a greenhouse for years!
Mammoth hasn't changed much in the last 14 days, still a little, lazy mining town in the middle/bottom of nowhere. Check it out yourself, if you think I'm exaggerating: 
www.city-data.com/city/Mammoth-Arizona.html or  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammoth,_Arizona.
Well, the lady at Circle K was nice as always and she sold the nicest jumbo sized Snickers!
I swallowed my Clif bar as dessert and regretted that a thousand times on the 20 km uphill back to civilization. Skiles decided to push a little harder than my digestive system was capable of, so I enjoyed my Snickers a second time. We had a real hard tailwind going back to Tucson and went 35+ mph for a long time, sweet. When I got back, I met Heidis younger brother, Chris and his wife Patricia, who's staying here for the next week. Also Erics brother Selwyn is staying, so it's a full house!
Chris asked me if I'm a chess player and by the way he asked I could tell that I'm not. I mean, I know the rules and could probably survive for a while, but it would be more like a massacre, than a real game.
By the way, the picture is what's to be expected back in Denmark in a few days: nice open water swimming in the clear waters of Hald Sø - can't wait.

The things you can't buy

As a follow up to yesterdays post, on ways of bringing up kids/spending your time/life, here's a more eloquent statement from mr. Chuckie V (from the comments on his blog):

Time is our best resource (and, to me, our only valuable resource, besides that which is needed: water, air, food, and other basics) and the real aim is to spend it how you desire; after all, you can't buy it back. Whether we spend our time shopping (which I detest) or watching TV (which I abominate) or gardening (tolerable!) or surfing the Internet (addictive) is really none of anybody's business but our own. 

But spending time with your 4 year-old, no matter how it's done, is definitely NOT a waste of time, or considered nothingness. It's anything but nothingness; it's everythingness.

Monday, February 25, 2008

If I had kids... (or a real job!)


I just read an article about how the Danish economy will risk going into recession if we can't meet the increasing demand for employment. One solution is to make sure that people keep working through their 60'es instead of retiring. A lot of surveys show that a lot of people would rather retire earlier and live of the increased value in their homes. 
Then maybe if everybody just worked 2-3 hours extra a week, including the families with kids...
It's a personal choice to have kids or not, to have a job or choose not to have one. But does anyone ever question if you can achieve excellence in both at the same time?
In Denmark, a lot of people seems to have chosen a life style, with so many expenses that they don't really have a choice if or not both parents want to work full time. I think a lot of people confuse the meaning of value. For the most part it's related to material stuff and not about how you choose to live your life. Many of the seemingly rich people are living a poor life, in my opinion. I just can't believe that anyone is having kids, just to send them off to daycare from 7 am to 4 pm everyday and then justifying that with quality time from 5-7 pm and on weekends. If having kids means raising them to become good consumers in a material focused world, I'm a little worried. It actually makes me want to have kids to prove that it could be done differently!!! 
So if I had kids (with a woman who shared the same visions) I would seriously consider the following

10 things I would (try) do if I had kids

Ask myself every morning, why I chose to have kids? To deliver them at day care at 7 am and pick them up again at 4 pm?

Make sure they were “exposed” to nature every day. Even though it meant moving out of the city.

Show and tell them about the animals and plants. Hereby showing them the interaction between life and death and why there’s no such thing as good or bad in nature, only instincts and necessity. Valuation comes from our interpretation, based on personal and cultural beliefs.

Tell them that we humans are just another kind of animals and that we got to share the Earth with all the rest of them.

Tell them that the Bible,  Superman, the Koran, Emil from Lønneberg, Harry Potter, the Greek and the Nordic Mythology are all just a bunch of good stories and that we might be able to learn a little bit from each one of them and miss out a lot if we just stick to one of them.

Introduce them to water as soon as possible and learn them how to swim.

Introduce them to music and learn them how to play at least one instrument.

Move to another country, for at least a year, to experience a different culture and learn a second language.

Being a good example through action rather than words.

Make sure they understand the meaning and value of a free will, the obligation of choice and the concept of consequence.

Make sure that they would feel loved every day by their parents and make sure they know their parents loves each other too.


Well I guess it all boils down to the choices we make for ourselves. Hopefully they're real personal choices and not influenced by society, traditions, others expectations and so on, because at the time you'll find out, it might just be too late...

 


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Four days left...

Another week has gone and I've got three full days and a traveling day left of my Tucsonian vacation. After realizing that I was on the edge of overtraining, I decided to drop down on volume and even take a few days completely off. That was probably a wise decision. I didn't rest till the point where I got ants in my pants, as I had only a week left in this warm cyclists paradise. I've ridden on SRM for a week now and I find it very hard to resist the temptation of going moderate to hard, when you have that wattage display right in front of your eyes. I still have to figure out my goal wattage/HR for Roth Ironman on July 13th. The way I'm gonna find out is by field testing and Gradual Exercise Tests (GXT). I do the GXT regularly as part of warming up for indoor training sessions. I've just tried Peter Riis Andersens test protocol: Start out at 100 watts and increase the workload 20 watts every 3 minutes until you're unable to finish a three minute step.
(I don't know when Peter Riis is maxing out, but I think his one hour watts are 360 W and I know for sure that he did 415 watts for 18 minutes in the TT of Tour of Denmark in 2006!)
My brother Peter finishes the 360 watt step, but there's still a long way to 400+ watts.
Of course this type of testing doesn't take your body weight into account and will obviously benefit a bigger rider compared to a smaller rider. Testing and real life performance are not comparable, as some riders are test-world -champions and falters in competition, but works well as intra-individual benchmarking to monitor progress in training and to help set up new training zones.
I listen carefully to my breathing pattern. When my breathing starts to get deeper and heavier, I know I'm close to my first ventilatory threshold (VT1). I can still speak in sentences at this intensity, but I'll have to concentrate on the task as it's not easy at all. This will be somewhere around my IM target zone, as I'm able to work here for a prolonged time. Here's a good mix of fat/CHO utilization and a lot of my training should be contributed to developing the bike position and enzyme systems involved, over the next couple of months. 
If I move forward with the test, my heavy breathing suddenly increases and my ability to speak is reduced to very short sentences or just single words. There's a distinct point where you kind of loose control over your breathing pattern and this could be your second ventilatory threshold (VT2). Well trained athletes can spend close to an hour at this intensity and a lot of experienced athletes pays close attention to their breathing patterns during racing. The longer the race, the more important to stay within your limits. Of course race tactics can force you to go past your limits for a while, but be prepared to pay the price later on. 
When I was running marathons, I never had the speed to win, so I just went into TT-mode from the start, being left behind by a lot of runners. But as the race started to settle at mile 10, I was overtaking a lot of them for the rest of the race. The beauty is that you can even- or negative split the marathon distance this way. I think I split 1.16.05 and 1.16.25 for the Danish Championships, in Copenhagen, once. And even though the other runners were supposed to be experienced runners, a lot of them sounded like they were doing a 10 km race and faded badly towards the end. 
So a GXT gives you a fairly good idea of your lower and higher aerobic/anaerobic threshold and the nice thing is that you can do it as part of your warm up, if you don't go all out, and use the current numbers for the rest of your workout.  I then take my estimates out on the road and try and stay on the light side of the limits for a start, especially if I'm doing +30 minutes efforts. I'm not very disciplined and too often I get carried away by going too hard too soon and the training is either too hard or I'll have to reduce the specific set. OK for single rides, when you have diamonds in your legs, but bad for long term training, as you're recovery increases.
My SRM unit is a little unreliable for the moment, I think, so I'm relying more on heart rate and perceive effort, but I have a rough idea that I can ride 250 watts/145 bpm for an extended time (though I have yet to prove it...) and 280-300 watts for up to an hour.
The last few days I've had some 20 minutes efforts at 250-280 watts and some very time limited efforts in the 300 watts+ area. All on flat roads, which is a lot harder than going uphill. It all felt okay, but there's a huge difference (almost exponential) in metabolism when you increase your watts slightly, so don't judge yourself on the occasional 1-3 minute all out effort. (When Christian Poulsen was training here in Tucson, as preparation for the Athens Olympics(?), he wanted to go to the slopes of Mt. Lemmon to do his AT training as it was so much easier for him to reach his target HR).
So today I went to Mt. Lemmon to see how long I'd last on 300+ watts...
My legs were surprisingly responsive, considering a hard day of cycling and running yeasterday and the switch to a low(er) carb diet. I started to raise the watts on Catalina Highway andcriss crossed 300 watts, =/-20 watts for about 10 minutes. After a short pee break I said a brief hello to Reg Dowdall (they were going up for the second time this morning, I think!)
I had "Apollo 440"s version of "I feel You", which is A LOT better than than the original song performed by Depeche Mode, I think, and it was very motivating.
If it was the audio motivation by "I feel You" that was to blame for over cooking it in the first few miles I don't know, but 330-350 watts just felt so easy... In my infinite wisdom, I decided to ignore the watt numbers and go by feel. I don't think the SRM unit cared at all, as it just kept slowing down the numbers proportionally with the burning in my legs and my heavy panting. At mile 4 I struggled to keep it 300 watts+, and at mile 5 I had to surrender...
I think I was blessed with a slight tailwind and the numbers was:
Mile 1: 4.46 (HR 148)
Mile 2: 4.38 (HR 159)
Mile 3: 4.23 (HR 163)
Mile 4: 4.41 (HR 163)
Mile 5: 4.48 (HR 164)
The information to take home was that I'm able to go close to 25-30 minutes at 300 watts average on a moderate climb. My heart rate was lower than expected, which leads me to think that I hadn't recovered enough from the last few days of training. I was hurting good, that's
for sure! After an easy mile I tried to pick up the pace a little again, but had to settle in at 240-260 watts (5.30 avr. miles/150 avr. HR) for the remaining 9 miles up to Windy Point. In fact I was going so slow that I was being overtaken by this small girl that was hauling ass. Had I been a steak I would have at least well done at Windy Point, so I ate all my bananas and Clif bars and went burping back down. My fuc..ng SRM software decided to screw up again, loosing a lot of data, so all of the data recording was taken from my Polar watch. It pisses me off more than the flat tyre I had 5 miles from home... 
Anyways it was a good day of self inflicted pain in the 24 degrees sun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wake up call!



Being a foreigner in the US, I can observe society, human behavior and cultural differences and tell that there's a lot of differences, not judging between good and bad. I accept the fact we have different heritage. USA is a relatively young society, made up by a mix of many different cultures constantly immigrating to this country and that has ideally brought the best of their original cultural - the famous "melting pot". (Arizona, by the way, is still "a frontier state" and you can tell that there's still some ongoing integration with the immigrating Mexicans.)
A country and society that I do feel 'm allowed to criticize is my own country Denmark. We're only 5 million Danes and though we're very homogenous, culturally, economically and politically, there still needs to be a critical eye on our life style, the politicians we elect and the way they're running this country. Right now there's kind of riot going on in the bigger cities. Second or third generation immigrants are protesting by burning of cars and schools. Since the cause of these problems are complicated, so are the solutions. We've been ignoring the inevitable integration of these young angry men for too long and society's worst nightmare is: young, angry, unemployed men. But hey, there's your answer too! 
Get them integrated when their even younger, kids (The Danish parents should accept their responsibility for a stable society and not withdraw their kids fro public schools and put them in private schools (easy for me to say, as I don't have any kids!))
Ask yourself why they're angry! Being treated as a minority and being judged by your name and the colour of your skin, doesn't make you feel welcome.
Leading us to probably the single most important factor in successful integration: employment. With employment comes language, which is equally important as getting a job.
Now, a lot of people in Denmark has known this for a long time and action has been taken, but apparently not enough. So what do we do? Do we look at the cause or do we solve the current crisis by looking at the symptoms? Well, our government in charge are enforcing law and order, so the inevitable answer is force, jail and a lot of even more radicalized young men.
I just read this article in the Danish newspaper "Information" and the author is blaming the vast majority of the Danish population that spends their friday nights i front of the TV - the great pacifier. Instead of taking responsible action as citizens they expect the law enforcement to solve the problems. 
Anyway here's an excerpt from the article by Puk M. Aksilson:
Fredag aften sidder nationen bedøvet foran fjernsynet, hvor en skaldet mand pisser på unge dydsmønstre, der vil være lige så pæne og polerede som de smukke onde mennesker på reklamerne, der vil have folk til at stoppe alt muligt lort ned i halsen, som de ikke har lyst til. De kan lide at blive pisset på af den skaldede bøddel. Danmark sidder i koma og nyder at se dem blive tværet ud af dommeren i X-Factor. Michael Strunge tog ordet KOMA og kastede det op i luften og vendte det omvendt: AMOK stod der så. Og befolkningen sidder i koma, mens de unge går amok og brænder biler og skoler af. Men befolkningen vågner ikke. De kræver, at politiet får større våben og flere penge. 
Link: http://www.information.dk/155159
I'm just glad I'm not home to feel responsible to my own ideals... Democracy is a long and winding road. 
If you don't believe in violent revolutions there's other ways of making your voice heard.
Check out this website: www.krammedyr.dk and some of their paroles:
Frisærhed! 
Nej til normalisering! 
Frihed for krammedyr som for kræmmerdyr! 
Foruden: Et, to! Et, to! Højre, venstre, sutsko!
It might not make a big difference, but it's gotta be better and funnier than growing older in front of the TV

Bulls penis, anyone?



Don't get too surprised to see the Chinese athletes dominate in a lot of disciplines at this years Olympic Games. Their conception of developing elite athletes are well known from anecdotes of former Eastern Bloc countries. Combine this highly organized, focused and goal oriented system with a population exceeding a billion and the probability of producing outstanding human performance is pretty good. 
This article http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/article3330003.ece ,gives you a an idea of the extent to which this regime will go in producing results to promote their country, no matter the costs. Human development, respect for the individual and soft values like happiness is secondary, if considered at all. It's easy to become ethnocentric and judging other peoples and cultures according to the standards of your own culture, but this just seems a bit inhumane. Regarding the choice of food, I'm more unsure. In Denmark, and in most of the Western culture, we have a pretty limited group of animals on the menu card. Snakes, insects, dogs and different organs are not that common. In Denmark we used to consider horse meat a fine meat, but now it's mostly considered a pet, as is most dogs.
The pictures above is a mere example of the possible polarization of the human body. 
Gotta get yourself a g-string, Mom...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why blog?



There's probably not a simple answer to this seemingly simple question.
I guess every goddam blogger has her or his reasons for blogging, but I'm restricted to contemplating a bit about my own motives.
Who's reading these mediocre thoughts anyway? There's no distinct address and no clear intention of reaching/annoying/enjoying/insulting/informing anybody in particular. Pink Floyd would have asked: "Is there anybody out there?"
I could be defensive and claim that it's a cyber diary or a convenient way of informing my family and friends about my stay in the US. But I don't think it's that simple.
Being a simple man, I don't have a lot of interests, but I like to immerse in the the few subjects that actually have my interest. As my good friend,  Kasper Mortensen aka The Captain and Ernst, used to say: "Livet er for kort til ikke at fordybe sig". 
Poorly translated it's something like: "Life's too short, not to concentrate/put all your energy into one thing".
So far, so good.
Both of my main interests, physical activity and biology, were spawned by extremely motivating teachers, whose way of presenting their subjects had a huge impact on my future choices throughout life. Thank You, Bue and Jens, never underestimate the power of inspirational teachers or role models. 
Being annoyingly curious by nature, I soon discovered that Jens were able to answer or explain most of the weird questions we would throw at him. We actually named him God, cause he seemed to have all the answer. But even God had limitations and still he had a good suggestion: "Whenever in doubt, think reprodution". 
So, it's all about sex! Think about it, it makes sense.
What is blogging, other than a public show room for the exhibitionists. But who cares if it works... The independent Danish author on integrative science, Tor Nørretranders, wrote the book, The Generous Man (2005) ISBN 1560257288, explaining how most animals/humans will go along way to express themselves, in order to impress the other sex. The male peacock is illustrating this nicely. It's beautiful, pompous tail is evolutionally designed to attract the female peahens, no matter how dangerous it is, considering how difficult it is to hide or run away from predators. Well, the theory is that the peahen is not just impressed by the enormous, colourful tail, but is subconsciously lead to think that there's gotta be a strong pool of genes behind it all, in order to survive. 
If we transfer this theory to the human endeavors all of our strivings are based on the hard wired wish of reproducing and make sure our precious genes are passed on through eternity. It includes striving for excellence in sports, economics, intellectuality, arts and not just appearance.
The muddy waters where biology, anthropology, sociology, psychology (to name but a fewof the involved disciplines) meets are hard to navigate without raising eyebrows in some of the specialists, but Mr. Nørretranders does appreciative effort.
So, maybe I'm blogging with the aim of reproducing myself or plainly: get laid.
In my current situation, I would strongly doubt it, but then again, who's to argue with the wisdom God, biology or deep down desires. 
Feeling adventurous, right now, I'm gonna cut all the crap and directly address my striving through the unmistakeable media of SEX. I'll try to publicize some flesh on a regularly basis. So if you're into nudity and verbal spanking, you might want to browse through this URL once in a while. If you've read this far, you've gotta be an endurance athlete of some kind, you're either pretty boring, unemployed or not sexy at all...
Todays numbers: 
Breakfast: blueberries, apple, orange, papaya, walnuts, almonds, egg whites.
Mammoth out and back, 135km/4.30/1650m asc/2 bananas, 1 Clif and a gallon of water. 
Dinner: onion/broccoli/chicken/curry/chili soup.
Note: Mammoth is hopefully the lousiest, dirtiest town/group of sheds/caravans in the state of Arizona. After plunging down 600 meters from Oracle, I filled my water bottles at the Circle K, said thanks and hurried back up to civilization again. The masochist in me want to go back to check out how much further down the road Hell is - could be close.
I had promising power output on the whole ride, but the SRM software fucked up a beautiful workout, chopping of the second half of the workout and claiming I had an average power of 1691 watts for five minutes!!! Mr. Riis Andersen, kick some German engineers butt.
I might have got Olympic potential after all.  

Monday, February 18, 2008

The tranquility of solitude



Peter and Dan has left and its all quiet on the Western front again. For the last three weeks there's been people around all day long and as much as I enjoyed their company, I now indulge in the tranquility of solitude. The last few nights I've resisted the urge to get drunk, listening to music. Music and alcohol are two of the most potent mood enhancers I know of and mixed they can put you in an awesome state of mood - happy or sad, depending on your baseline mood. I've had some great nights with Tom Waits' "Mule Variations" and some good Chilean red wine. 
Johnny Cash' "American Recordings" are awesome and blend it with the video "Hurt" and your heart will bleed. The The works great too, but the lyrics are pretty depressing, so expect a guaranteed night of melancholy and don't even go there if you have a family history of suicidal behavior! 
With the above mentioned recommendations for wrecking your physical and mental health, it's time for a non commercial recommendation to lighten things up a little. Stop reading here, go to your local Itunes Store and buy "Den andre er meg" from the just released album "Maskineriet" by Kaizers Orchestra. It's a beautiful ballad with great narrative lyrics and sung in the KO-trademark Norwegian Bryne dialect. When the female singer joins all of my bodily hair, shaven or not, erects and it surely feels like a lightning has struck. I had that one piece of ear candy joining me for the full 3 hour ride today. I must have looked silly, with my big peaceful smile, just humming along. 
Besides being a love song, it's has a clear existentialist message, a topic to be elaborated in the very near future:

"Der finns to typer folk,
den eine er alle de andre,
den andre er meg"

To give some non-scandinavians a clue, here's a translation:

"There's two kind of people,
the one is all the others,
the other is me"

Enjoy all you brokenhearted individuals out there, you're not alone after all...
And at last, thank you David Zabriskie, for reminding me why men in lycra (or women) should never grow a moustache. In the first commercial break of www.amgentourofcalifornia.com, I went to the bathroom and litteraly tore of the stiff, walruslike upperlip fur and my self esteem got a serious boost. If your not Iraqi, a police officer or Mr. Øhrstrøm, don't even think of it. That's the one part of the paleolithic era that I'll never miss.

And remember: "Der finns ingen svar på bunden af et rødvinsglas", Kaizers Orchestra.
But who needs answers, when there's still so many questions to be asked?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A few more running videos

Though the video sequences are a little heavy to upload, I'll just put on a few more of Peter running. And to "Anonymous", thanks for commenting and yeah we live in "Sin Vacas", a great place by all means, but every ride East, South and West is just a little longer than if you were living downtown. But hey, no complaints, we like the serenity and the beautiful vistas. video video

The rise and fall

Yesterday was a forced restday for me as I was completely drained during and after the trip to Summerhaven. My deliberate overreaching has been taking a little too far and the last few days I've paid the price, with symptoms of overtraining on both my parasympathetic and sympathetic systems: I would have increased HR during rest and ridiculously low HR on the bike. The running hasn't been affected the same way, as I could easily surge and go up in the 170's.
Summa summarum, yesterday I felt like I was run run over by a medium sized truck and just hung around with Peter. Dan was trashing himself out on Sandario, while we had pre lunch muffins at AJ's and lunch outside Trader Joe's: delicious sushi for me and equally nice burrito for mr. Peter. 
Today we all sat out for a 5 hour ride, but Dan was feeling the last few weeks riding in his knees and decided to turn around at Vail. Peter and I continued out to Sahuarito rd. and was welcomed by a gale force wind that almost halted us to a stop. At Old Nogales we were blessed with a nice cross wind in the back and we did 27-30 mph for a good 25 minutes - nice spinning at +100 rpm, 140-150 bpm HR and 14 Borg RPE. This I the stuff I'm gonna focus on when I get back to Denmark as it'll, hopefully, be my targetzone for Roth IM on the 13th of July.
Peter ran straight off the bike after the 150km/5hr ride, for 9 km, with the middle 5 km on 3.40 min/km pace. Maybe not world class level, but a good solid performance in the heat of 24 C.
Tonight we'll take Curtis and Stella out for dinner. Mac Jeff is coming in a little while to help setting up our computers.
video

Monday, February 11, 2008

Summerhaven



Monday... A new, untouched week in front of you, just waiting to loose its virginity. Started out with a 10 km morning run at 8 am. Had some breakfast, a quick shower and the mandatory icebath and elevated legs, before we got dressed for some high quality bike riding up Mt. Lemmon. We picked up Skiles and started the ascent at 12.20. We went real easy, but I was feeling like shit; no heart rate, no power, feeling lightheaded and lead legged -a bad combination. We stopped at Windy Point for a little regrouping after Skiles had a flat. I was a little worried about the melting water running across the road, as some guys crashed badly on the descent, when they hit some black ice. But the last few days of 65-70 F have really made a difference, so nice dry roads and tolerable temperatures all the way up. At Summerhaven we sat for 20 minutes, soaking up the sun and Dan had an impressive size "Rocky Road", probably fudge worth of 3000 calories! The downhill went smooth as there were very little traffic. You can pressure pedal the whole way and get the feeling that you're actually working out and not just being transported down by gravity (though it's almost as fast). I went straight home, pretty wasted, with 150 km/5.40 hrs. Dan and peter went to pick up some ground beef at Trader Joe's ( we're serious about the "hunter-gather" life style).  Tomorrow will be easy for me... video video

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rest day


After feeling the wear and tear of the last weeks training we decided to follow the biblical words of resting on the seventh day and Sunday that is. Went to Frank's and had a solid breakfast, that send our blood sugar skyrocketing, before it went well below 3 mmol. We managed to stay awake by going shopping at Bookmans, Borders and Tader Joe's. It was 23 C today and sitting by/in the pool was quite nice. Peter and I went for a 40 min. afternoon run, while Dan made a true paleo dinner, consisting of lots of meat and vegetable salad - no grains! We're now watching "The Da Vinci Code", Tom Hanks hasn't ruined the movie yet and Audrey Tatou is nice as always. Regarding the story, then it might be just another conspiracy theory, but it's one that fits well with my general discontent with religions, objective truths and the blind following of authorities. It's the courage of civil disobedience through history that has created the world we know of today.  "Only dead fish follows the stream"

This weeks numbers:
Cycling: 24.31 hrs - 690 km
Running: 3.15 hrs - 45 km
Total: 27.46 hrs - 735 km

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday Shootout Anticlimax




We were all very excited about going to the Saturday Shootout and got up at 5.45 am, had breakfast and coffee and left at 7.00. We showed up at University at 7.29 am, just to find out that we were the only cyclists for miles... Apparently they had moved the starting time forward to 7.00 or 7.15 - total bummer. None of us felt like chasing the bunch, with the hopeless dream of making up a 15-30 min. deficit, so we just went easy through the whole goddam Shootout. Normally it's a fast paced and quite funny ride and you don't get bored as you have to be alert the whole time. But being only three guys swapping turns, things are a lot slower and a little more tedious. Madera Canyon was nasty, as always, and going back down Mission sucked like never before, swearing and cursing all the potholes and bumps. When we finally got home after 7 hrs./195 km/1600m vertical elevation, we were pretty tired and sore after all the rough riding, the sun and just plain ol' fatigue. Tonight we're going to Curtis and Stella's to celebrate Stellas birthday (a few days ago). It's a potluck and since we're too tired to make any decent dish, we'll probably end up buying something. Can't wait to get to bed tonight...
Peter got a pretty bad sunburn through his new Specialized helmet today, looks like a Smiley on his neck!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Beef jerky rules!



After yesterdays relatively easy day (90 min run am and 2.10 cycling pm), today was designated The Big Square out West (4 hrs/120km). We didn't wanna ride too long as tomorrows Shootout could/will be a pretty taxing 5-6 hrs ride. I've found my new favorite food for riding, beef jerky, a real pleasure. The drugstore in Avra Valley had some chili flavored A4 sheets and it tasted wonderful, gulped down with a banana. I'm not sure if eating this stuff will make me more beefy or jerky... Probably more beefy, as my three weeks old wanna-be-moustache tops out the jerky-meter already. 
As a special tribute to the Danish Cyclo Cross Champion, Christian Poulsen, we'll treat you with some smooth video going over Gates Pass in 22 degrees C. 
Poulsen and all you other slaves of work, mortgage and marriage: enjoy a glimpse of life in the fast/easy lane.
video

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sonoita



Yesterday, Wednesday, we went for a long ride up to Sonoita and back.
We started out at 8.15 am, in 32 F/0 C, and  met with SWHCT at Le Buzz at nine am. Our group consisted of Jon and Jo on a tandem, Howard the Pommy, Reg Dowdall and us. Reg is a retired stockbroker, 61 years old and has awesome fitness. The ride up to the beautiful rolling hills of the Sonoita plains at 5000 ft, took 3.45 hrs for the 105 km. We had some "lunch"; I had 1 liter Coca Cola, a blueberry muffin and a 12 cm x 12 cm beef jerky - dried meat, seasoned with salt and pepper. At first the beef jerky seemed a little hard to chew, but after a while it kind of melts/softens in your mouth and it actually tastes real good. The downhill was fast and you were in big trouble if you lost the back wheel of the tandem. No way you could get back on by yourself.
Finally we got back home, with spirits high and a great appetite. Nice to be logging the first 7 hr ride of the year! Dan and Peter made some tasty diner and even though we were all pretty tired, we spent the rest of the night at Curtis and Stellas house.
Unfortunately we didn't bring a camera on the ride, so we'll have to do with some trivial pre exercise activity.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The blessing of air conditioning, swimming pools and tumble dryers


A few thoughts on sustainable living. (Warning: as the following observations might be a bit somber for some people, please so stop here and smile/laugh at the two jerks above)
In my humble opinion, we're all visitors here on Mother Earth, on a brief passing through between birth and death. We're also caretakers of this planet during our short visit and we should feel obliged to leave this extra extraordinary place the way we found it. The human race has made impressive improvements in technology, general welfare and sociologic complexity during history. But we've also developed life styles that seem unsustainable in the long run. I'm not blaming any one nation or person, because we're all just the result of cultural development, personal, regional or worldwide, so far. But coming from a small European country, like Denmark, where there's a lot of concerns regarding man made global warming and a possible greenhouse effect and rising oceans, there are some things that seems a little extravagant over here in the US.
Of course the abundance of vehicles! You've gotta have a car over here as the urban planning and general infrastructure is based on the individuals ability to move by cars. And BIG cars, that is!!! The prices on gas are less than half of that in Europe, so there's really no incentive to buy smaller or more fuel efficient cars. I don't even wanna mention the geopolitical dangers of relying on foreign oil exporting regimes like the ones in the Middle East.

Flying in over cities like Phoenix and Tucson, one thing that catches your eye is the ubiquitous swimming pools in almost every garden- nice, considering that the temperatures in summer soars around 100 degree F (40 C)! The fact that we're in the middle of the desert makes it a little more complicated though, as it takes a lot of water to fill these thirsty tubs. Not to mention the evergreen greens of the many golf courses around here. Hopefully technology will help securing the important water supply for the next generations.
As mentioned before, it gets melting hot here in the summer, so you've gotta have air conditioning to feel comfortable. It's run by electricity and major cities like L.A., have big break downs in the power plants, when there's a heat wave passing by. I haven't been here in the summer, but from the stories I've heard you don't wanna come here in the summertime, but even here in the winter time it's complicated to deal with the air conditioning. We want to sleep with open windows at night, to breathe the nice fresh air. But the AC system is apparently set to 70 F, so the heater starts firing up to adjust the temperature, making 90 F air flowing through the vents... With a little technical skill you could probably adjust the settings on the AC, but we've just resigned and shut the windows.
And finally, my favorite hate utility is the tumble dryer. We're in the middle of the Sonoran desert and there's an extremely low humidity - comparable to the drying out, recirculating air on air planes. The sun shines 350 days of the year, so this place is an fresh-air-dryers dream. But you hardly see any clothing lines as everybody dries their clothes in their tumble dryers. I mean, by the time I've carried my clothes from the washing machine to the terrasse, it's already dry! 
So, bottom line is that we, as a human race, apparently strives to make life easier, by inventing new gadgets. With absolutely no considerations on the effects on our health (i.e. obesity) or our on our climate or future of our planet. The American way of living is widely considered the pinnacle of Western society and it influence is noticeable everywhere. Hopefully there'll be some kind of realization of the possible outcome of this life style and some personal and political actions. Until then I'll go turn on the hot tub, relax and happily forget about these so called problems. 

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rain, hail and sleet




The pre Superbowl excitement has kept me from updating this blog for a couple of days or the fact that I'm getting too old to go to bed at two o'clock - I'm dead tired the next day. 
So Dan arrived, with his bike and everything. On Sunday we went up Mt. Lemmon, but turned around at mile 6, because of the cold wind. I felt cold and uncomfortable for the whole ride and looked very much forward to the hot shower back home. We went to Jon and Jo to watch the Superbowl and have dinner. Lisa and J came by to witness the final dramatic moments. The game was really exciting in the final quarter and NY Giants came out as unexpected winers with a phenomenal drive with two minutes left - well earned victory. We drove home right after the the game ended as Dan and Peter were really tired. 
Monday started out rainy and cold. We immediately realized that outside cycling was not an option today ad went for an hours run in the freezing rain instead. After thawing up we went to Costco - a HUGE hypermarket with bulk items. To shop in Costco you have to be a member and Jon wanted to get his monthly stock of supply, so we went through the gigantic aisles and came out with 20 kg of food. Most of it nuts, dried fruit, vegetables and fruit, so we're ready for the next 12 days of cycling and running.
Then we went to Trisports.com to have a look at all the goodies, but behaved and bought nothing. In Trader Joe's we shopped for dinner: the 40 items sushi plate for 12 USD.
Peter hadn't tried the wasabi before and it almost killed him, coughing, sweating and watery eyes - he likes sushi. Dan and Peter are still wasted each night because of the jetlag and constantly fall asleep in front of the TV. 
Todays weather was rain, hail and sleet, because of a thunderstorm passing by. The bonus was a spectacular snow cover at 1500 m and we're living at 900m, so it seems right our doorstep. The next couple of days the temperature will rise dramatically to 14, 16, 19 and 22 degrees C, with no clouds as far as the eyes can see.
Oh, by the way the last weeks numbers was:
Cycling: 16.00 hrs - 450 km
Running: 5.00 hrs - 69 km
Total: 21.00 hrs - 519 km


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Christmas time!



Christmas came early to Tucson this morning! After our 10 km morning jog along Skyline Road, we found Peters long missed bike box at the door. The bike was relatively unharmed, the top tube had a big dent, but Peter were all smiles anyway. So off we go, cycling up to Oracle, buy a Powerbar at the drugstore and breeze back down in the beautiful sunset...
And Mom if you, against all odds, see this (I know you don't read/write or understand English) I hope you miss the happy oedipal spanking as much as I do, kiss kiss, son no. 1.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Missing bicycle...


Picked Peter up in the airport at midnight last night. He was fine, but he's bicycle box was missing...  Very frustrating, considering that's a main part of his reason for being here. Add to that the additional fee of 150 USD to get the box on the airplane at all. Flypriser.dk, Lufthansa, United Airlines/Canada Air you can do better than that, or go and run a used car shop instead!
We got to bed at 2 am and woke up as the sun rose at 6.45 am. Had some oatmeal and coffee and searched the "bagtracker" for the missing bike box. Went for a 10 km run in the nice warm morning. Called around for the box, with no luck, for a couple of hours, before we finally called Jon & Jo Roberts to ask if Peter could borrow one of their bikes. The answer was yes of course, so we threw our cycling gear in a bag and drove East. Jon helped Peter adjust his saddle and a little later we were on our way to Mt. Lemmon Jon & Jo turned back at Babad Doag, while Peter and I went on to mile 5. The CAAD 8 Cannondale is a size 56 and a little to long for Peter and to make things worse the stem was a huge 140 mm! So Peter got a little tired in his lower back and we agreed there's no way he can do the Shootout tomorrow with that set up. So if the bike doesn't show up tonight we'll, very unfortunately, miss the Shootout and go for a shorter and easier ride by ourselves. Damn all you incompetent airline companies!!!
Ate dinner at La Salsa and went for a few errands at bookshops and Trader Joe's.
Time to watch "The Departed" and hopefully Peter will be riding his own bike tomorrow.
video