Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Middleton Century Ride 2011 - Third Time Lucky

Well it was the annual Middleton Century ride time again this past weekend. The Spinachers headed up with goals in mind. For many, the 100 km metric century was going to be a first. For a few others, tackling the entire 162 kms was going to be a first. For me, I was glad to have others that were to start with me, finish with me.

From the outset, I stuck with Ian McGrath as a huge number of riders (250 or so) took off from central Middleton, NS. The group very quickly sorts itself out into smaller and smaller packs and by the time of the first rest stop in Bridgetown, things have settled nicely.

This year, like last, the temperature was nice to begin. And while it probably did soar above the 28.5C of last year, I doubt it was much higher than 31 or 32 (the exact number I have no idea about).

Again, well appointed rest stops made the journey very enjoyable. Watermelon, bananas, granola bars, pretzels Gatorade, water and even cookies and ice cream occasionally.

This was Ian McGrath's first century and I wanted to make sure not to go too crazy on the pace. So we accepted being passed early on by groups of riders, especially as many of them would turn out to be riding the metric century. We needed to save the legs for the extra 60km or so.

That extra 60 km of riding in behind Annapolis Royal is rather nice. Yeah, there are some major chunky sections of pavement, but for the most part very little traffic. We rode and chatted and rode some more.

On our way back to Annapolis Royal we were passed by Mark Campbell and friend, who helped us along with taunts and jeers. I didn't want to bite, I really didn't. And I didn't rush after them. After all this was the 90 km mark of the ride. But I knew that this section of the ride was going to be big rollers, nice little climbs that all seemed to lack any real descent. And I knew that the biggest of these hills was coming up. So I picked up the pace a little, just enough. And when I saw the corner that was to be the start of the biggest climb (probably my favourite part of last years ride)   I picked up my speed a bit. And there halfway up the hill was Mark and Mike (?). I began my climb. I had prewarned Ian M. that I may pull a Schleck and go for it near the end of this stage, so I didn't feel too sorry when I took off on him. I blew by Mark by the 2/3rds point of the climb with a little gloat of my own.

At this point I was going to wait at the top for the guys to arrive. But instead I went for it. I rode hard with at least 18 km to go in the stage. And I arrived back at the Annapolis Royal rest stop with minutes to spare.

Ian and I would regroup for the next stage, where Mark would blow by us again, only to have Mike have a mechanical. Now it was almost a challenge to make sure we finished ahead of him. Of course all in fun (ha ha).

A usual the final 25 km of this ride is the toughest. Sure it isn't that hilly, but it is rollers and you have just completed 130 some odd other kms throughout the day.  On the way we met up with the Spinacher ladies who were finishing up their metric century and seemingly still smiling (though Lynn had a tough start to the day). We ha da brief chat with them as we rode by. This allowed the crazy Mark to recatch us again. Ugh.

This time McGrath said, stay with them. So I hurried up and caught their wheels. This was just as the base of a small climb. Figuring to take advantage of the hill, I tore up it. And thinking they would be right after me, I kept that pace until after I rode by a group of other cyclists standing by the side of the rode.

By this time I had gone over a series of 3 or 4 little climbs. I looked back and saw no one. I thought, "should I hold up and wait?" Well the answer was no. I had 10 kms or so to go and figured that Ian would tag along with those guys. So I put my head down and kept riding. I also knew that if I let up my legs, by this time, might not be happy to restart. I watched as my speed rarely dipped below 35 km/hr. I pushed harder. This seemed more time trial like and therefore maybe more Evans than Schleck. Definitely not Schleck like.

I finally rode into Middleton again and finally allowed myself the chance to sit up as I navigated the last kilometer or so of the ride.

I came in at 5:55 of riding time. Sure that was less than the 5:36 or so I did last year, but I had a great time riding with Ian and a few others along the way. Also I was quite able to stand around a chat following the event with no aches or pain. It was great.

I waited a few minutes for Ian M to come in and then another few minutes for Mark. The it was time for BBQ chicken, which was perfect.  After eating we were happy to see Fred and Ross ride in after their gruelling journey. I was impressed especially with Fred, who had taken a tumble earlier this summer during a ride and obviously has made a great recovery. Also, Fred hates hills. And while these were no Alps, they were hilly enough.

Sorry for the lack of photos. I was lax this year in that respect. But my rear jersey pockets were already full of sundry items anyway because I was prepared for about 30 flat tires I think, but instead received no. Perhaps thanks to my new Michelin Lithions. Nice.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Building a Better Ian - The Next Phase, Shoulders

Since I was a teen my left shoulder has hurt. Not all the time, but usually it hurts. Mild most days, darn right sore other days and sometimes I can't turn my head. It runs the gambit of achy, numb, tingly, and even itchy. But I just deal with it and move on.

Well after all the success I have and seeing my Chiropractor and having ART done to fix my ITBS issues  I thought, why the heck am I not asking about this. Perhaps it is time to get rid of this pain. Truth be told I finally came to this realization this past weekend while doing a solo ride around the Peggys Cove loop. 85kms or so and by 50kms in my shoulder was numb. Sure I changed positions, shuffled a bit, did a little stretch and things went back to being okay,  but I knew that I just had to stop "dealing" with the issue and get it looked at.

When I was a teen I saw my doctor. He said, pinched nerve and gave me some exercises to do. They didn't do much, I was a teen, and I gave up. Easy. But I am older now and darn it, I don't want to be even older and in more pain.

Well into the Chiropractor I went. We chatted about the history of the injury. This was obviously a chronic thing, so it wasn't going to be solved over night. But after a little assessment we came up with the beginnings of a plan of attack.

It turns out I have very little range of motion in my shoulders themselves. Instead my pecs have been controlling things for a long time. I basically brute force my shoulders to do what I want them to. Great, I have strong pecs, hooray! I also have very low shoulders, which is odd for many people, but maybe not so much for cyclists.

See as cyclists, we lean forward a lot. And we stretch out our arms to do so. So our trapezius can elongate. This, in my case, also lead to my scalpular muscles rotating. It all seems to just add together into one big problem.

Where did this all begin? I don't know, but of course things like cycling and swimming can make things worse. So it has been slowly getting worse over time.

Right now we are working on a huge bundle of scar tissue and muscle adhesion that has formed over time in my teres muscles (I think it is those muscles). They are kind of under and beside the scalpula, in and around the armpit area. And I am working on stretching out my pecs to get my arms and shoulders to go backwards a bit. One session and I regained quite a few degrees of motion. Hopefully a few more sessions and some exercises at home will lead to me becoming pain free and will help in my active lifestyle.

In swimming, for instance, I have the choice of swimming with stubby arms and swimming slow, or using my major muscles to force my arms into a nice elongated form. The second option means I tend to throw the rest of my body out of position which leads to dropped hips and tons of drag. This can be easily seen when I wear a wetsuit for open water. Doing so can gain me almost 4 minutes over a 750m swim, as my hips are forced to float high. We will see if freeing my shoulders will lead to an decrease in my sprint distance swim time.

Any way, that seems like enough info for now. Any of you medical-ish type people reading this should be aware that my knowledge of the human muscular structure and use of proper names for different muscles groups is completely due to the internet. I am sure I got a lot of that stuff wrong. Sorry about that.

I'll update my "condition" as my treatment continues and we will journey together to see how this may affect my life as a Triathlete / Duathlete.