Sunday, June 3, 2012


June 3, 1944..

From the daily diary kept by S.Sgt. G.C. Watts, while stationed in Italy during WWII…
“2 planes go out of squadron. Repaired but 2 come back in. one crash landed – other blew tire. Plenty of work.”


I’ve been away. It has been 12 days since my last post. The Navigator and I have purchased her family home following the passing of her father this past New Year’s Day. Getting one home ready for market and one home ready to move in to has left me with limited time to write. Yet, much has been happening on the cycling front. Unfortunately, I’m acutely aware of more recently having been “talking the talk but not walking the walk” when it comes to riding…

In the quieter moments of the late night, I’ve become aware of a presence in our home. It has a lonely feel to it – almost a sense of having been abandoned. It emanates from our lower living area where we watch TV and enjoy the company of our own two Labrador Retrievers.

Now, I’m not saying that the house itself senses our impending move. Nor would I ascribe my own emotional sense of loss to leaving this home of some 18 years as having a presence. Still, the sense of something lurking in the corner is with me at times.

In recent days, I’m pretty sure I’ve narrowed down to a specific location and even a few specific items the source of this sadness, this longing to be needed. While searching through items already stacked and moved around for some work on a bathroom, I honed in on the spot of the Presence.

It is the lower back corner of the basement area where items tend to go to be forgotten. It is literally the “black hole” of belongings. When you can’t find something anywhere else, you gravitate to this spot in the house. How I could possibly have missed this item, I’ll never know. It is large and hulking. Once it gleamed brightly from the light reflected from it’s chrome surfaces. It’s clean black upholstery radiated strength. Now, not so much as the months of dust has settled upon it’s core fading out the power promised when it first came home with us.

As I investigated, I found additional sources of despair and loneliness. Leaning on the wall beside my original discovery was its “cousin” languishing at a tilted angle as boxes of household detritus covered its “feet.” Still more was found as I moved box after box away. Laid low and long was the promise of spring from a couple of years ago – now hidden and desolate on the concrete floor.

Universal Workout Station

(The “Presence” so full of promise when it came home with us…)

Yes, the source of the Presence was this Universal workout station, an inversion table, and, barely visible in this image, the spinner for my winter workouts. The Universal was purchased upon the promise of both myself and the Navigator, “Yes, we will certainly use it!” The inversion table was to strengthen my back and reduce my occasional back pains, and, of course, the spinner was to improve my cycling fitness during the winter months so I could start strong in the spring.

None of this came to pass and overtime, each of the items moved to the back of our priorities. The inversion table was rendered useless by me following double hernia surgery – I simply cannot hang upside down anymore. The Universal, well, as you see in the next image, it is a great place to hang things if you could only get to it.

Universal Hanging Tires

(My 29’er off road tires found a nice place to hang around…)

And the spinner, well, it was pushed to the back after one year’s lack of use because I was too lazy and unmotivated to mount and un-mount my Fuji CCR3 to it’s skeleton. It was replaced by my purchase of the ProForm Le Tour de France spinner bike – a long and sordid story covered in previous posts. It is currently home to my Carhartt overalls…

We’ve had a couple of offers to provide a more useful home for these items and my guess is that we’ll take them up on the sale if the money is right. I’ll need the space at the Navigator’s family home for my next purchase of items designed to improve my fitness when, once again, I forget these lessons learned…

The Zephyr Heart Monitor and SportsTrack Live…

Il Plummer turned me on to an app for my HTC Thunderbolt that connects via BlueTooth radio to the Zephyr heart monitor. I’ve been looking for a way to reclaim some of the real estate of my handlebars when I ride. I’ve had so many metric tools attached to stem, bar, chest, and arm that I must surely emanate some form of radio wave myself as I  pass by.

The combination has been both interesting and frustrating. I’m intrigued by the app itself as it provides some excellent metrics and mapping of rides based upon the GPS function of my phone. I have indeed reclaimed the space of my stem and handlebar on my Salsa Fargo. Frustratingly, the connection of the heart monitor to the phone has been erratic and did not work at all when the phone was in my back jersey pocket. I was surprised that my physical body lent that kind of barrier to the signal.

Once I settled on a RAM Mount for the phone, I was able to have the phone in direct line no more than 24” or so away from the chest monitor and matters improved substantially. On a recent ride, I was becoming increasingly frustrated because the heart monitor readout on the app was indicating zero heart beats per minute and yet, I was pretty sure I was still living. I was on my way to our LBS for the evening group ride and once there, I rebooted the phone hoping to clear any barriers to effective function. Nothing helped – 0 bpm was all I could note.

Finally, I broke down and put on my glasses and discovered that I had been looking at the respiration rate, which isn’t tracked by the cycling app, all along. The heart monitor function was one screen up and working just fine. I now have an appointment with my optometrist on June 11th to get my eyes checked and a new ‘script. I guess it is time to start riding with some prescription glasses.

A couple of us have been having an esoteric discussion around heart rates including target zones. This was prompted somewhat by my purchase of the Zephyr. You can use a standard formula for the target zones by simply entering your age into the app OR you can choose what is billed as a more accurate method known as the Karvonen method where you enter age, max heart rate, and rest heart rate numbers.

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I checked my resting heart rate each morning prior to getting out of bed and, after 3 days and 9 observations, determined my resting heart rate to be 49. I also recalculated my supposed max heart rate at 161. (I say supposed because I regularly ride above that with no distress whatsoever.) I used a couple of different methods for figuring max heart rates and Wikipedia indicates that the generally accepted formula of 220 – [your age] is not accurate. I ended up using a figure of 156 after some different formulas were applied. (See them here…)

On our most recent Thursday ride, I switched over to the Karvonen figures in the SportsTrack app and set out to merrily lead the group ride. After about 8 minutes of relatively flat riding, I took the group of 11 riders up Sunnyside Road, which has a moderate level climb to it. Two thirds of the way up the climb, I was passed by a sub-group of women riders from our evening ride as they pedaled their way up riding two abreast and chatting. I, meanwhile, was dying and pretty sure that my heart was getting ready to explode at which point my survivors could determine what my true max heart rate was likely to have been. (O.K. so I’m probably 30 years older than the oldest of these women riders, carry at least that much more weight than the heaviest one of them, and was on my 35 lb. Salsa Fargo with another 5 lbs. of “necessities” in my Long Flap Nelson saddlebag. Still, I’m just saying… Passing me like I’m sitting still?) Note to self: If you hadn’t ignored all that fine workout equipment over the winter, you might have kept up better…

At the end of what was truly a fine evening ride, I checked the metrics of my ride. The SportsTrack app informed me that my AVERAGE heart rate for the 14 mile ride was 20 bpm and my max heart rate achieved during the ride was 144 bpm. Now, that my friends, is being in shape! I just can’t explain that sense of moving backwards on the climb and of thinking the old ticker might quit ticking!

Until later,

- Zeke

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