Back on the bike

Today was a good day.  45 miles riding followed by over an hour splitting, hauling and stacking fire wood.  Also got a post-workout stretch in.

Last year we ran out of fire wood in February, right as the cold was setting in.  This year I hope to avoid that problem.  Splitting it is good strength work too.

Perfect conditions for today’s ride.  Temps in the 40s with grey skies but no rain.  I love grey skies.  I like sun too, but for whatever reason the autumn grey skies hit me in the right place.  I rode better than expected.  Finished in just under 2 hrs, 45 minutes.  Not bad for the first ride in weeks.

Hoping to continue riding frequently throughout the winter.  My current plan is to ride 2x per week, with one about 50 miles and the other starting at 50 but increasing to up to 6 hours.  I think those will really help with the aerobic capacity.

My biggest problems are keeping my feet warm and my bike clean/maintained.  Merino wool socks will be my next apparel purchase.  I’ve heard awesome things about them.

The rocking chairs are now in front of the wood stove.  I remember sitting in one of those chairs for about a week straight last December reading When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss’ biography on Vince Lombardi.  Great book that I would recommend if you are interested in football.  Lombardi was an interesting dude.  My dad played football at Fordham and was one year away from being coached by Lombardi.  My dad was a freshman in 1948, the year after Lombardi switched from coaching the freshman team to the varsity team.

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Why I love the Spring Classics

March Madness is one of America’s most beloved traditions.  How did your picks go this year?  Mine were a disaster – only one of my Final Four picks was correct.

While March Madness is captivating from both a sports and a cultural perspective, I’m even more fascinated by professional cycling’s Spring Classics.

The Spring Classics are a series of one-day bicycle races in northeastern France, northern Belgium, and the Netherlands.  Today’s race is the Ronde van Vlaanderen, or the Tour of Flanders.  Next week is Paris-Roubaix, also known as the Hell of the North.  The Spring Classics are noted for their distance (usually over 200 km), steep hills, unpredictable weather, and famed pave (cobblestones) that cyclists must overcome to win.  Cycling fans in Europe are like March Madness fans in the US – over 800,000 people are expected to line the roads for today’s Tour of Flanders.

The Spring Classics inspire me during my runs.  Watching cyclists gut it out over another hill or through the muddy, treacherous cobblestones helps me withstand the fatigue, hills, wet and slop, or other conditions that I experience while running.

You have to test your limits to break through and perform well.

Besides inspiration, understanding bicycle race tactics has influenced my running and race strategy.  A key question in a Spring Classic is when to attack?  Given the duration and difficulty of the course, attacking prematurely can be trouble for a cyclist.  But waiting too long may also prove costly, as it gives others more opportunity to attack and win.  In a Spring Classic, the “real race” doesn’t often start until two thirds of the race is finished.

Considering when the “real race” begins is a valuable tactic for me in running.  It helps me conserve my energy until the right time.  When I get the starting point of the “real race” right, I almost always run well.

Unfortunately for professional cycling fans in the US, coverage of the Spring Classics is sparse.  Versus will air a two-hour Tour of Flanders special today at 4 pm eastern.  To get live updates, I read the live reports from Cyclingnews.

Tune in to a Spring Classic cycling race if you get the chance – you might find breakthrough inspiration or information.

Please post a comment to let me know what you think.  Do you watch cycling?  Where do you find inspiration for your running?