Thursday, February 25, 2016

Old Puppies

Note:  If I talked to you recently and said, "Oh yeah, I kind of know what I'm going to write about, but it's pretty boring."  Well, I just got done with (gave up on) that one.  If you want to know just how boring it was though, I can say for certain that it is way way Boringer than the one I'm about to write.  So just be happy about that.

If you have an old dog that just lays around all bored and everything, Maybe you should get him a puppy.

I don't really know much about dogs. I do know they seem to lie around a lot.  It seems to me the older ones have become so efficient at lying around that when something grabs their attention, they immediately investigate by shifting their eyebrows to and fro. No head lift.  Maybe a slight tail wag and that's it.  No wasted energy.

They've been doing this dog thing long enough that they understand precisely how much energy to expend in order to survive.


The food is just over there in the bowl.  There's no hunting necessary.  In fact, it was possibly frowned upon by the food providers like just about everything else.

Jumping up on people in happy greeting!  No! Down!

Barking at the door just for sport?  Forget it.

Chewing on tasty shiny shoes.  Newspaper attack!

The only thing the old dog has learned for certain is that there is no trouble in just laying around.  Unless you fart, but that's another matter.

But puppies?  Bring in a puppy and it will immediately try to get the old dog playing.  It will run into it.  Bark at it.  Challenge it.  Jump around.  Taunting.  Every once in a while the old dog will join in for a while, but mostly he will figure it's just not worth the effort. The old dog has a regimented plan that he must stick to.  This unscheduled play has no place in the old dog's life or ATP.

But that's where the old dog has missed it.  Unscheduled play is one of the best things life has to offer.

Over the last few years, I've been on a few hundred bike rides. About 25% of those are group rides.  All different kinds of group rides.

Some of those rides are fairly regular and predictable. There is a set goal (fitness).  Nothing (including fun) must interfere.  There are places where people are allowed to sprint or launch an attack.  Specific places.  There's probably a rulebook somewhere stating the appropriate places for surprise attacks.  These are serious important strength building rides and yada yada yada.

And I'm ok with that. These rides are also completely optional but I join because I hate myself and when I'm in pain, I think "Good! Jerk!"

But sometimes a bouncy little puppy (Peter Boyd) will join the ride.

He'll jump around and chat with people.  He'll attack out of nowhere at the wrong time and then sit up when everybody whizzes by him. The old dogs will laugh at the puppy's foolishness.  Silly Peter Boyd, they'll say.  He thought his attack on our training ride would succeed! Ha - HA! Cough, cough, cough!

But his attack did succeed. He's a puppy. A bike tossing puppy, sure.  But still a puppy. He didn't attack to "win".  He attacked to wake the old dogs up. To get them to play.

Mission accomplished.

Then he chewed on Shim's shoe.  Which I admit was a little weird, but hey.  Puppies.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Stop me if you've heard this one ...

 So a few weeks ago, I was on a weekend ride with Brady.  I don't remember if it was a long or short ride.  I just remember when we went by the crossfit building.

I think it's crossfit.  I don't really know.  I've seen videos and articles and proponents and opponents on the whole crossfit thing.  It seems strange to me, but not really any stranger than a traditional hard gym workout.

It's new and exciting and I think there might be kettle bells involved so I guess that's cool.

The place is on about 42nd and Nicholas.  I know because it's just down from where my grandma Surber used to live.  That's where (grandma's, not the crossfit place) my brother and I would go on Sunday mornings after Sunday school in favor of sitting through church.  If you recall, my brother and I would always feign stomach aches so we could get a swig of that delicious Pepto-Bismol.

Probably an actual conversation at the living room of my Parents one Sunday evening:

Mom:  Those boys are always constipated on Sundays.
Dad (peering over the top of his newspaper):  It's that church you take them to.

And speaking of churches, there's a church right next to the place that may or may not be a crossfit place.

But much like Cro$$fit (TM) is the new exercise fad, this church is super modern.

First of all, I could have never gone to it.  Every single person who goes there is real young and real pretty.  I mean as a cross section of people, it has to be about the best looking crowd around.  They look good enough to be at the high school dance in a movie.

They look way way better than the crossfit people.  Maybe they're the crossfit graduates.

Probably and actual excerpt from a crossfit graduation commencement speech:

"You've conquered your mind and body, now it's time to lay it all down and let God conquer your soul ..."

At this point, I envision several graduates sneaking out the back door and over to grandma's house for a nice refreshing tiny little plastic cup of the pink stuff.

Anyway - the whole reason I think it's a crossfit place (next to the church and down the street from grandma's) is because I always see them doing weird exercise things like the videos or articles I've seen about crossfit.

So yes.  It's completely possible that there are 2 distinct types of cultish workout.  But it really doesn't matter to me.

One time as I was riding by, I saw a guy running in the street, up the hill, towards grandma's house.  He had some sort of rigging around his shoulders and was dragging a metal plate with weights on top of it.  It was sparking and scraping up the street something terrible.

I didn't at first realize that this was something he chose to do.  I figured he was making his loud slow escape from the church.  

But once I got close and passed him, I could see he was nowhere good looking enough to go to that church.  But then again, maybe they chain up the less um, spiritual ones.

So yeah.  Crossfit.  

So when Brady and I were returning from our ride, there were around 20 or 30 people out running from the gym to grandma's house and back.  

As we went by, Brady offered some encouraging words of motivation to each person we passed.

What a guy.  These people were giving it all they had. A few words of encouragement can go a long way.

Like one time I decided I was going to run a 5K race.  I had set a goal for myself of under 25 minutes.

The race was somewhere around or on St. Patrick's Day.  There was a pot o' beer at the end.

Brady also ran that race.

After he finished the race, and knowing my goal, he sauntered back to where I was struggling like a diarrhea-plagued crossfitter running to grandma's.

He ran alongside and helped pace me to the finish in 24 and change.

Turns out, 25 minutes is not a good enough goal to get your hands on that beer at the end.  It was all gone by the time I got there.  But all was not lost.  It was Budweiser so I couldn't be too upset.

So a few weeks ago, we're going by these crossfit people and Brady wants to help.  That's just who he is.

"C'mon," he shouts, "Let's get those knees up.  Go! Go! Go!"

No comments from any of them.  No acknowledgement.  No laughter.  Just grim faces focused on the challenge ahead. Longing for the day when they can go to church unshackled.  

But Brady's words were not entirely wasted.  My spirits were raised tremendously by spectacle.  

We kept going by people and Brady kept shouting friendly encouragement.  It was hilarious.

Finally, Brady was rewarded for his effort.  It was the very last guy we passed.  Brady brought out the irony, "You're running in shorts on a cold day like this?  Put some clothes on!"

"Shut the fuck up, man," is all he said.

I don't know about Brady, but those 5 little words made my day.  

Thank you weight belt wearing runner.  Even though you're too ugly to attend most of the modern churches without being chained down, you can have a front row seat at mine anytime.  We take ex-lax chewables and Pepto-Bismol for communion.  You DO NOT want to see how we baptize.

It's too soon to tell, but I personally feel this is the first post in  a long time that merits a "What the hell is cube talking about?"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Virtual Assholes

Lately I haven't felt I've had much to say.  Last week, I mentioned that I thought it might be because of winter.  There's little going on during the big chill and [hence] little to write about.

I could tell a story of something from the past if I could think of one.  I can't.  I'm pretty sure I haven't told them all yet, but maybe I have.

During other parts of the year, I might talk about something that happened while I was out riding or otherwise doing stuff other than shivering.

In past winters, I've blogged about my [training] or made promises about what I would do when the next season starts.  I don't do that anymore.

Now I just get on the rollers throughout the week and go on the occasional weekend ride.

The rollers still suck, but the time is slightly more bearable if I use the Zwift.

Or at least it was.  For a while.

Zwift is a pretty cool idea.  Sort of like a video game where the controller is your power meter or approved trainer equipped bike.

Zwift is probably less than a year old and they have a long long long way to go if they're going to succeed.

The login process is clunky.  The limitations are many.  There are only a couple of courses available and you don't get to choose which one you go on.  Well - I've seen chatter that you can change the date on your computer if you want to ride the course that isn't offered for whatever day.  Um no.

But overall, the time on the rollers goes by quicker with Zwift since it kind of sort of resembles riding a bike if you squint.  Not really, but kind of.

When I first started using it, I had to be careful or just close my eyes when "cornering."  I rolled right off the rollers a bunch of times.  Kind of funny, I guess.

Also, I think I'd get a better workout (more structured) if I just did the music thing (no TV or Zwift). As it is, I'm mostly focusing on power output during the Zwift rides (this is what determines speed, based on whatever grade you're riding on).

So I rarely focus on just high cadence work - which I believe is an important part of any balanced breakfast.

Anyway - there's one thing that works flawlessly on Zwift.  Group chat.  Absolutely perfect. There's no end to the meaningless text messages popping up on the screen.  I think some people are logging in just to chat.  They can't actually be concentrating on a workout.

Often people are fighting about Donald Trump or calling Merckx a doper (so what) or telling everyone to just shut the fuck up and ride or telling everyone to watch their language and just ride and so on.

There are the occasional racist comments and the obligatory ensuing outrage and public flogging and such.

Then someone will say "Don't feed the trolls."

Other people need to tell you what they're doing:

"Whew just finished my FTP.  Totally got my head kicked in."

"Metric Century finished !!"

"That's all for me.  Thanks for the ride, guys."

"Who here is from Ohio?"

"Tennessee here."

Then there are those who brag about how great the weather is wherever they live.

"Yeah - 60 and sunny here!"

I wait for sometimes up to 3 seconds before somebody else says, "Why the hell are you not riding outside?"

It never stops.  But it's not all bad.  The other day soebody actually offered the best advice I've seen so far.  He wasn't talking to me.  He was talking to another rider who was complaining about all the chat (and presumably completely missing the irony).


"If you don't like the chat, just go into your settings and shut it off, dumbass!"


So I did.  That's better.

So if you're ever riding around on the Zwift and you ask me a question about Donald Trump doping, don't be offended [ or do ] if I ignore you. I may not hear you.  I've got my music on.

Ok winter. We get it.  You can go now.  I mean it's still better than Arizona at any time ever, but I'm a little tired of it.

But 'Cube. What's wrong with Arizona?

I hope you're joking reader.  I really hope you're joking.

Thursday, February 04, 2016


It's 8:26 PM.  I've had a fairly busy day and once again find myself in a place where I don't have anything to say.  I really want to get to the TV watching by 9:00PM.

I think the general slowdown of activity that happens in the winter may contribute.  I can't really sit outside at lunch and eavesdrop. So I don't really have anyone to make fun of or marvel at or anything.

So I will provide an update.

About 23 years ago, I had a complete physical checkup.

I had another one yesterday.

There were none in between.

I've been to the Dr. a few times for various questions about whether or not I was dying of some horrible disease I read about on the internet that exactly described my symptoms.

In each of those cases, the Dr. was able to discern that I was not dying at all.

Recently I had a scare with something the kids call "Heart palpitations."

In the end, the doctors and spouse have come to the conclusion this was brought on by anxiety from recent upsetting events (Death of a friend of approximately my age and the ensuing gatherings).

My general Dr told me everything was fine and there was no reason to believe anything was wrong.  Unconvinced, I worried myself to another round of palpitations and ended up at a cardiologist.

The cardiologist was cool because he was listening to my heart and saying things like "Wow.  It's like 44 beats a minute."  

He told me I was fine and that he would like to put a heart rate monitor on me for 24 hours.  Not because I needed it, but because he thought it would be cool to see how low my heart rate went while I slept.  But yeah - we didn't do that.

Because of this scare, I decided to get current on my medical maintenance stuff.  

So yeah - everything's still ok.  I'm in much better shape than I was in 23 years ago.  Back then, my triglycerides and cholesterol were high.

My only problem now is that I'm old.  

So in March, I am now scheduled for a thing they call a "Colonoscopy." I'm sure it's every bit as exciting as it sounds.

While we were on the subject, I asked about the old prostate exam thing I've heard about for so many years (Think "Fletch").

"Yeah - we don't really recommend those anymore."

"Why not?" I asked, a little happy.

"They are statistically more harmful than helpful," The Dr. said.

"How?" I asked.

"Well, for one, they can make your johnson (no relation) not work anymore,"

Good enough for me,

The update is this: you know that thing they say about when you are going to start exercising?

"Always ask your doctor before beginning any blah blah blah."

I started exercising 19 years ago.  I didn't ask my doctor until yesterday.

He said it was fine.


Also - funny story - My Dr. likes to ride his bike around.  He has a Madone and a cross bike he just bought last fall.  He shops at the Trek Store in Papillion.

He told me he's a little disappointed because he tried to ride his cross bike on the gravel roads near his house and it was such a harsh ride, he couldn't stand it. 

"What pressure did you have in your tires," I asked him.

"About 85 or 90," he told me.

I suddenly realized how he must feel when I make assumptions about medical stuff.  

"You can probably go more or less, but give 40 a try," I told him, "If nothing else, it will be much better than 85."

"Or 90," he said.

"Let's just not talk about 90," I requested.

Ok, maybe that's not a funny story. I just wanted you to read it.  Thanks.