Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pimp my Ride

About a month ago, I spent $100 and got a very cheap and obnoxious-looking fixie bike from the local Walmart.  I've been looking at fixies for a while now as I've wanted something that I could ride for short errands, and between home and work.  An added bonus is that a cheaper bicycle would give me the opportunity to experiment with bike maintenance, without having to worry about destroying a quality bicycle.    With this bike, my plan has been  to strip the bike down and build it back up with bullhorn handlebars, better tires, and perhaps most importantly, a better paint job.  To date, I've taken the handlebars, stem, and fork off of the bike (along with the brakes), and I will be removing the pedals and cranks very shortly.  If you've never seen Walmart's Fixie bicycle, it looks a little like a 1970's McDonald's threw up.
Here's hoping there aren't any extra parts when I'm done!

I've considered a number of paint schemes for my bike to replace the current set up, but I've had trouble deciding.  Originally, I was opting for black wheels, cranks and pedals, along with a dark gold frame, but the more I look at it, this doesn't seem quite right.  So, I've decided to open it up and let any readers decide what color they think it should be.  I will accept submissions for the next two weeks, at which time I will announce the winning scheme.  Tonight I asked my family to give me their top four choices.  Please leave me a comment with the choice that you prefer.    Here are the choices below:
WTF . . . What the Fork?

#1 (Maya) The Wiz Khalifa-  Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow . . .
#2 (Lily) The Blue bug- Blue with Green
#3 (Melisa) Der Grasshopper- Green with Pink
#4 (Ted) Berry White- Reddish/ Purple with White
I expect to finish stripping the bike in the next week or two, at which time I will be ready to paint.  I still need to order some new tires to replace the red and yellow ones that came with the bike.  So, let me know which you think would look best.
If you come to a "fork" in the road.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Off Season "Suffering"

 This fall is the busiest I've been in years.  It seems like every week that passes, there is more and more to do.  It's a good thing it's the off season and I haven't really solidified any races or set any solid goals at this point. Likely, it won't be until the first of the year before I start finalizing my 2013 schedule and setting specific goals.   And that's a long ways away yet.
Early in the workout.
However, one thing I will be working on throughout this off-season is getting better on the bike. To that end,  I made an investment last month in three videos from the Sufferfest.  If you are unfamiliar with the Sufferfest, it is a series of videos that are designed to be used with your trainer (kind of a poor man's computrainer, I suppose). I plan on using these throughout the winter to work on improving my bicycling fitness.  Last year, some knee issues, coupled with more time spent Marathon training,  resulted in low amounts of time on the bike,  so this year, I plan on getting more time on the trainer.   
The Sufferfest seems to be a good way to do just that.
The Warm-up footage is from a San Diego Velodrome
 I bought three of the videos: The Downward Spiral, Angels, and The Long Scream.  The videos are downloads, and after a fair amount of struggle, I was able to successfully burn each of them onto a DVD.  And although I've only tried them a couple of times (and only completed The Downward Spiral in its entirety), I have to say that they do offer an impressive workout.  Last week, I had Maya snap a few pictures as I rode.
The name "Sufferfest" seems appropriate (I'm not laughing)
The Downward Spiral is an interval workout and gets its name from the two sets of descending intervals that you complete (2:00 minutes to start, descending by 15 seconds each time with an equal recovery in between).  Prior to the start of the intervals, you warm up to videos of a Mountain Bike Descent, and what looks to be a small criterium race.  For the intervals, the video switches to footage from  the Paris-Roubaix race.  It then toggles back and forth between between the two with the Crit race being used for the recovery portion after each  interval.  The interval set is repeated with some alternate race footage (I can't remember from what) for the second set.  As a cool-down, there is a short movie of some stunt biking in Europe (kind of hipster urban bike stuff, but still pretty impressive.
I think what sets these videos apart however is the Music.  Although none of it has really been familiar to me, it definitely goes well with the video footage.  And even though, I've ridden portions of the Downward Spiral a few times,  I continue to enjoy the music.  I think there are something like 10 videos to date,with more promised to be on the way.  So after I tire of the three that I have, I may look at adding a few more. 
The Sufferfest Motto- "I will beat my ass today to kick yours tomorrow"

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton & Danny Coyle

I am not a Lance-hater.  In my humble opinion, the majority of people are neither good nor bad, but are combinations of both attributes.  Good people make bad choices, and vice-verse.  To me, Lance Armstrong seems to embody that.  A Seven Time Tour Winner and A Doper.  Founder of the Livestrong Foundation and a Cheat.  Inspiration to millions and cruel and ruthless to former friends and colleagues.  And, if you take Tyler Hamilton's word for it, Lance is not alone by any stretch. 
The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs  by Tyler Hamilton and Danny Coyle, chronicles his life as a cyclist and an admitted user of performance enhancing drugs and blood transfusions.  His story intertwines with that of his colleague and eventual nemesis, Lance Armstrong.  Unfortunately at times, the book does read more like an expose about Armstrong and the fact that he got away with Doping for so long when everyone else was "getting popped."  Clearly, and not without reason perhaps, this is a big issue for Hamilton, and he makes no bones about this, or the feelings of betrayal generated by his former teammate at Postal.  He lays out an extensive record of doping both on his own part, as well as amongst many of the top names in cycling during the last decade.  
Tyler Hamilton writes extensively about Doping & Cycling

But this isn't what makes the book interesting.  Rather than the "who did what" aspect and the scandal, it's his description of the espionage and the science behind performance enhancing drugs that is fascinating.  The story goes into great detail to explain how entire teams, and eventually individual riders were able to obtain these drugs and continue to use them despite the feeble attempts to test athletes and present the image that the sport was attempting to clean itself up.  Hamilton, with independent verification of events by coauthor Danny Coyle, talks about the complicity that the UCI shared in the doping issue, how the best riders in the world consulted the same "doctors," who provided support in the form of EPO's and eventually blood transfusions to be used throughout the  race: Le Tour.  
It's obvious that doping has had a huge impact on cycling performance amongst former and current professionals, and that yes, Lance Armstrong was one among many users.  Hamilton points out that doping was so extensive amongst the top cyclists, that at times, it didn't really feel like cheating.  It was part of the "culture" of cycling and many riders approached it like any other tactic or strategy to be successful.  Hamilton does not trot out the argument that it was "fair" because "everyone was doing it,"  he simply points out that any clean riders would not have been able to keep up with the leaders because of the impact that doping had on the racers.  Better riders tended to be able to afford better doctors, drugs, and strategies, and so doping tended to create an unstoppable cycle that propelled itself.  
The US Postal Team dominated the Tour and other races for several years.
Coming on the heels of Lance's decision not to arbitrate with the anti-doping agency USADA, this book isn't really shocking in what it reveals about the riders (Personally, the book did nothing to convince me that some of USADA's methods are wrong and undermine the principles of due process).  Most of the cyclists mentioned in the book have also confessed and/ or have served suspensions for testing positive.  For me, the book doesn't really change the way I feel about Lance.  He's still an incredible athlete.  He still beat cancer.  He still inspires others.  And, he's got his own demons, challenges, and flaws.  Like any of us, he is neither good nor bad, just some combination of both.