The Race is Upon Us

Tomorrow is the last day standing between Taylor and I and the race. We are excited. Getting everything squared away beforehand has proven to be a challenge, and as such, hearing the gun go off will be a relief in itself.

One interesting puzzle we’ve been facing as of late is the inability to use bicycle transportation in the days leading up to the race, as we may need those muscles later. Finding transportation is a mystery yet to be solved. Of course, if it comes down to that, I will ride where I need to!

Here is my hand posing with the official Ironman wristband.

Other than the few remaining technical logistics, I need to take care of the food I will be eating for the race. Ironman has 5 bags that you fill (bike gear, run gear, morning clothes, etc) and they will supply them at different points throughout the race. It seems simple, but it’s not. Little known fact; brain function decreases roughly 80 Percent in the days leading up to an Ironman.

So I’ll be scrambling around for the next 48 hours!

cheers,
Steve

S.W.I.I.M.A

For those of you sounding out that wonderful acronym above, it is pronounced the same as swimmer, but  with a strong new england accent (SWIM-AH). 

For those of you who have a natural disposition for perfect pronunciation and moved on only to be foiled by the meaning of the acronym, I will gladly reveal it. S.W.I.I.M.A is none other than:

Steve’s Wicked Important IronMan Advice

This will be an ongoing series of tips and hints that I accrue leading up to (and following) Ironman St. George. Of course, these tips will be made to apply not just to this race, but any endurance event you may lay your registration upon. 

Without further a due: 

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1. Oreo cookies are NOT a feasible substitute for proper race/training nutrition.

This tip is especially important, and I can speak from recent experience. I, one known often as the ‘Steel Stomach’ or the holder of ‘Incorruptible Intestines,’ was easily foiled by this horrendous ploy. Of course, it is commonly known that those training for triathlons commonly ingest an oozy post-nuclear substance known affectionately as Goo. 

That (surprisingly as it seems) is a much better idea than the oreos. 

2. Avoid this: 

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 I tried my best, but got hit with a great dowsing of it.. Alas! One of the great downfalls of bicycle travel lies not in the bicycle itself but its relationship with the premier transportation machine. 

3. Embrace those around you who you share an interest with!! 

Come on.. Unless you live in Amsterdam, or a few other select bicycle havens, it is not too much work to acknowledge fellow pedal pushers around you! Of course, it is completely acceptable to be in so deep a zone that you acquire what is known as ‘tunnel vision,’ thereby missing your counterparts.  

The other side can be quite uplifting, however! Try this guy out, for example.

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 Well, That is about all I have for you for now. Yes, today’s 3 tips are quite heavy on the bicycle section. But they still apply to all three disciplines (maybe not so much swimming, unless you are creative) and even to life itself! 

I hope you enjoyed the advice. I hope you can apply it when you get off the computer today to go outside and ride! I am sure that will be happening soon, right? Oh, it’s too cold out? You are tired? You have plans? I understand. That’s why you are reading this blog. Well at least go on a walk or something. 

See you soon with some real life updates about my life and training! 

-Steve

 

 

The Ironman is fast approaching

Here I am with a long awaited update and insight into the lives of your two favorite bicycle toting travelers. 

Our travels have been speckled with hitchhiking rides across long expanses, bicycle rides through the most varied scenic passes, and the occasional sojourn with newly forged acquaintances along the way. 

I suppose the story continued as we left the door of Eric Allred’s garage. Route 10 southbound became our gravitational stopper as we headed down slopes towards our eventual destination camping spot for the night. The day’s ride held a twist. Taylor regarded the tailwind and elevation drop as promising, and he accordingly went out with quite the gusto and speed. A different viewpoint was planned for me, however. Most of the morning was spent struggling to keep my significantly weighty bicycle at level with Taylor’s brisk pace. This did not prove very successful, and I had to watch from afar as he signaled the companion he thought was directly behind him. My hard work to keep up left me with an empty stomach and a need for some A/C. Eventually, lunchtime came into play and I opted to splurge on a 14″ Large pepperoni pizza, with an accompanying 12″ breadstick round. By the end of it all, there remained only 2 pieces of pizza and 2 end breadsticks. Taylor made the conservative (and smart) decision of eating his own food. 

The two of us hopped back on the bikes, and I was in for more demoralizing miles as I struggled beside the coal trucks. Luckily, the difficulty was broken up with the inevitable views of the Utah landscape. I will let taylor’s pictures speak to that, as a median between the imagery I would attempt and the ability to actually be there and see them! Anyway, we continued on to the last small town before we would reach Interstate 70. We went into Randy’s general store and found from the friendly clerk, Mary Lynne, that it would be fine to use the rest area across the road to camp for the night. She didn’t let us get away with just that, and she insisted on buying us a snack and drink a-piece as her good deed for the day. 

Taylor and I settled in and I informed him that I would like to take the next day as rest, so as to send back some weight that was holding me down. As the night fell, we found that Mary Lynne’s kindness was not soon to end. She had brought us hot chocolate! 

Upon waking, we found breakfast waiting as well. The kindness we were shown is heartwarming indeed. The two of us went through our bags to send things home, and we got quite a bit out on the way to MA. The post man, Randy, expects a post card from MA when we return home, and this will hopefully serve as a reminder for me! Our activity for the day was a climb of a nearby rock formation that resulted in stunning views as well as some interesting finds. Taylor gained a unique cone shaped rock to add to his necklace, while I found a small geode and a piece of amber (petrified sap). We returned down and back to home camp before dark. At that point, Mary Lynne’s family extended even MORE kindness and we were invited to a wonderful dinner at their home. We found the company and the food to be first rate. 

The following morning, we packed up and headed out, feeling well rested, well filled, and light on the bikes. We made it to the Interstate, and off we went, west across another mountain range. Confidence was in us both that day, and we climbed from under 5000 feet to nearly 8000 feet without a single problem, and averaging quite a speed the whole way. Our efforts gleaned quite a reward, and we then coasted down the mountain ridge for almost 20 miles, at which point we stopped for lunch. The day was going well, and despite our successes, we decided to try a new method of travel: Hitch-biking. 

The idea was to hitchhike, but with our bicycles and gear with us. Not complicated at all. But who would pick up two guys so heavily laden with gear? Apparently, a lot of people would. We gained a ride within a few minutes, and met a truly kind guy who was on his way home from Moab. He brought us to Interstate 15. We were making serious headway for the day. Our goal became St. George by nightfall! We secured a ride again with a father and son on their way to Las Vegas for a car show; George and George. Coincidence? I think not. Their willingness to help others led them to stop again for a stranded hot rod, and we gained 2 more to our troupe. Their car was having some trouble, but we made it into St. George as the sun fell behind the red rocks, and the moon rose behind the same on the opposite side. 

A cheap motel for the night was in line, and we chose the Sands. This motel will come into play in the future as well. 

It was roughly at this time that Taylor informed me I once told him on the trip that I owed him a favor, and he chose to realign us toward Los Angeles. His yearning to see the pacific coast remained strong, and I had no choice but to oblige. Of course, when put that way, it seems as if I did not like the prospect, when contrarily, I quite looked forward to it, and besides, we had plenty of time before we needed to settle down in St. George for training. 

The road was reserved for a bit more hitch-biking, and we had an easy time of it, until Las Vegas. We again made it our goal to arrive at our destination by nightfall, and we were now hard pressed to get a ride on the outskirts of Sin CIty. I was led to believe it was because of the outgoing traffic’s poor prospects at the casinos that they did not want to pick us up. That did not affect one driver, however, and we saw a small car stop behind us on the entrance ramp to  the interstate. A well dressed girl roughly our age stepped out into the wind and greeted us merrily. We chatted for a bit, and all came to the decision that despite the size of the car, it would be worth and effort to attempt securing them in the trunk, as Nicky was also headed to L.A. 

All was successful, and we jumped in the car. soon enough, we were 3 pals on a road trip, and we enjoyed the time well with good music and a stop at In + Out Burger. The time eventually came when we departed and she dropped us off in West Hollywood, where we were graciously offered room to stay with Joey Fiore and Bart Walsh. Good times were had, and we also got to see quite a bit of the surrounding area. Taylor and I rode down to Santa Monica beach, taking a detour through the Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The houses were grand, the cars were flashy, and the whole world around us was a beautiful, varied garden. The smelling was wonderful! We eventually got to the beach and trudged our way through the sand to place our bicycles in the great Pacific! 

Later, we reunited with Nicky, and met her friend, Dana. The four of us instantly went off for some adventure, and on queue was a night hike to the Hollywood sign itself, and the Griffith Observatory. We saw a few coyotes passing through the quite neighborhood on the way to the observatory. After all, the four of us became peas in a pod, and we had many a good time. We were soon graciously invited to Nicky’s family’s easter dinner, and they let us crash on the couch at Nicky’s house the night before. We had a fun ride with stops at a hotel bonfire and a flock of flamingos, the site for the upcoming Coachella Fest, and a particularly flashy casino/hotel. Eventually, the night ended and I alone stayed up to cry my eyes out while watching the movie 50/50. I highly recommend it, but don’t forget to bring tissues.

Easter the next day was quite and affair, and we enjoyed company of the whole exciting extended family of Nicky, particularly some of her younger relatives during a rousing game of pickup basketball. We made our way back to Joey’s place, and we all said our final farewells. Taylor and I left the following morning en route back to St. George.

As we discussed places to stay for the night, Taylor talked briefly on the phone with Nicky. She informed us that her grandmother, Jeanne, may have some extra beds for us. Jeanne fondly refers to us and many others as her ‘idiots.’ We were gladly part of the group, and Nicky and Dana even paid a visit to the house later on, albeit only briefly. We said our goodbyes again, enjoyed warm beds, and took up Grandma Parks’s offer to drive us a bit of the way back toward St. george! When we were dropped off, we braved the hot Mojave Desert (yes, even in april), passed through Las Vegas again, and camped at a large truck stop/gas station area for the night. I slept only with my sleeping bag and mat, and the starry sky as my tent. We continued down the road, and eventually picked up a last ride to St. George. (It should be noted that our travels now include over 4000 miles of cycling, 1700 miles of bus transportation, and now almost 1000 miles of hitchhiking! We have gained some travel experience, you could say.)

We then met a refrain of the previous visit to our penultimate destination, and stayed at the same Sands motel as last time in St. George. Again, the room was a nice rest. We stopped in at a cool cafe, the Bean Scene, and struck up a conversation with Christina, a musician in town. She said she might know a place for us to pitch our tents, and soon we showed up at the door of Avalon and Jordan! The two have been gracious hosts as well as good new friends. Taylor and I have been relaxing a bit in the area and preparing all the last things for our race! It is in 19 days now, and we are looking forward to it with overflowing excitement! 

Our travels are nearly done, with just the way back to Las Vegas for our flight remaining. All we have now is the race.

Thanks for reading, We will both be on more frequently now with training updates and posts pertaining to Ironman St George!!! 

-Steve

Dinoland, USA

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Today, Taylor and I entered Utah. There are big skies, big plains, big buttes (I cannot lie), and big mountains. We stopped at Dinosaur National Monument, which would have been cool if it was open. Luckily it had a sign that said there was ANOTHER Dinosaur National Monument about 24 miles down the road. So we went. We got a tour (which involved a wall of half excavated real dinosaur bones, and a round of applause from the people who drove up the hill to get there and watched us slave up it).

Our stay with my aunt and uncle and cousin was wonderful, and we got some solid training in. At the same time, it’s a good feeling to be back on our own. we are camping tonight on the open range, neighboring the majestic landscape on our way to the race. Posts will once again become frequent!

Cheers,

Steve

The Road to Pensacola

Yesterday, I entered the Florida panhandle. With the panhandle came the foothills of the Appalachian range, rows upon rows of reforested longleaf pine trees, a fair share of big trucks with hunting gear, and lots of rain.

The hills started around mile 100 yesterday, and stayed consistent all the way until I called it a day at 138 miles. I pulled up at the side of the road and nestled my tent next to a property fence. This morning, I met Dennis, another touring cyclist who has been riding around the country since August 2010. He has seen quite a bit, and was great to talk to. Unfortunately, some bad luck befell him as he had lost his wallet only the day before.

We went our separate ways in anticipation of a tornado warning and lightning storms. *In fact, I am online right now and am interested to find that the aftermath of the tornado leaves me with a flash flood warning for the rest of the day.* So, I rode west through Tallahassee and through the biggest forest in Florida, the Apalachicola National Forest. Pine trees get repetitive, especially when you are in a full-on shower. I have never seen such heavy rain back in Mass. Anyway, I survived, as you can see.

Now, I am in Blountstown, a small main street town on the road to Pensacola. I have 150 or so miles to go, and I will probably do another 50 of those today. On another particularly remarkable note, I passed a small swamp about 2 hours ago that was virtually stacked with alligators. I saw at least twelve! I suppose they wanted to get near the road for some sunlight, as the rain cooled it down to about 60 degrees.

So, I will leave you for another day.

-Steve

Two roads to the same place

For the next few days, Taylor will be staying in a great little town called Cedar Key, where he will enjoy boating and clamming on the Gulf, as well as a host of other island activities. Conversely, one day out on the clam boat was great for me and I am ready to get back to cycling. I will be riding around the Gulf up to Pensacola area. I am currently in the town of Chiefland, and will be moving on shortly! Taylor will be meeting me when we get to Pensacola.

Also, for anybody who is interested, March marks the beginning of my threshold training for the Ironman. Each day’s ride will now consist of some sprints and longer, faster pushes to get my heart rate down and my VO2 Max up. I will also be on high mileage for running, and throwing in plenty of long tempo runs. I will swim when I can….

Thanks for reading!

-Steve

Disney done, Alabama here we come!

Taylor and I did not have any internet access while at Disney World. Thus, we have quite a bit to update on. For now, I can only give brief summaries, as we still have plenty of riding ahead for today.

We are enjoying 90 degree weather and lots of nice bike trails. Some brief maintenance has helped our bikes run a bit smoother, and we got complimentary golf balls for our kick stands from a great little shop along the way. Last night held quite a surprise as well.

As I got ready for bed (we were camping beside the bike trail), Taylor hopped up and told me he was going on a run. I told him I’d probably be asleep when he got back. an hour and a half later, I got up to check where he was, and was greeted by his bouncing headlamp blinding me and telling me he did ten miles. And he wants to do 10 more. So I decided I should jump in.

By then end of it all, I had done 11 miles and Taylor ran 21. Pretty good run for 2 guys who just finished 80 miles on the bikes! Of course it will come in handy come May 5th.

So now we are in Hernando, FL and on our way to Alabama. It will be nice to get to a new state and a new month.

-Steve