A few weeks ago I went to a party hosted by one of my cycling buddies, Ed Shaw and his wife Janie. There were around a dozen cyclists there and most of them were accompanied by an enabler (as Eric Houck would say).
Hovering around the snack table, there was some talk of normal-people issues; but in all cases the conversation slipped into some old every-crack-in-the-road story about cycling.
Someone mentioned watching the amount of tortilla chips they were consuming because they didn't want to put on too much weight this winter. That goal race for 2008 is not that far away.
That lead into discussions about goals for 2008. Sledge Hanner (his military call name as a pilot) announced that for 2008, "I have no goals and I refuse to set any goals."
For every year that I've known him, Sledge has had at least one goal and probably more than one goal. The goal that I knew about each year was related to an Ironman race.
While the cyclists are busy talking about bikes, riding, goals, triathlons and food, the enablers are sharing stories about their respective cyclists. Actually, it was more like commiserating with each other.
When it was time for dinner, everyone loaded plates with great food and found a place to settle in. During dinner, Scott Ellis casually glances across the table where Sledge is seated and says, "Sledge, you know that having no goals is really a goal. You have made it a goal to have no goals for 2008. The way I see it, you have a goal."
My email on Friday said if the temperature is at least 25 degrees on Sunday morning, dry roads and minimal wind the group ride is a "go".
I was out of bed at 6:00 am doing chores and pacing back and forth in the house. There was snow on the ground and heavy fog. I'd look out the east windows to see what was happening outside, then to the west windows. They way our house is situated, we can't see outside the neighborhood from any window in our house.
This continuous pacing always brings the comment, "So...you think the weather is different in the backyard than it is in the front?"
No, I don't think it is, but I hope it is. I hope there is some glimmer of chance that the group ride can "go" today.
At 8:15 am I called my riding buddy Scott to see what the weather was like in Johnstown, about 13 miles east.
"It's sunny and 25 degrees here."
"I'm not kidding. I can see the mountains and everything."
On occasion a storm pushes up against the mountains and gets stuck, taking longer to move away from the foothills than the plains. This was one of those storms.
We decided to call our other mountain biking buddy Todd and go for a mountain bike ride. With chilly temperatures (20 degrees at my house at 8:15 am) we decided the trails would be warmer than the roads and less dangerous.
Shortly before 9:00 am Peter and Lee show up from Ft. Collins (about 12 miles north) with road bikes and say that the roads north are dry. Apparently the snow began about half a mile north of my house.
Bruce rolls up on his road bike and says it was 25 degrees when he left home and it's not too bad. I suppose that is a matter of opinion, but to all of us it seemed not too bad.
In my driveway, left to right, are Peter, Bruce, Lee, Scott and Todd. Notice the snow on the rooftop next door and some remaining in my driveway.
Since Todd came sans road bike, Scott, Todd and I headed for the trails. Bruce, Peter and Lee headed out on the road.
In the photo below Scott and I are getting ready for the trails. I'm glad I have hot water in my hydration pack.
This shot is Todd and Scott walking up one of the snowy/icy sections of the trail. There were only a couple of trail sections that we needed to hike due to ice and snow.
Each Sunday morning for the past 15ish years, riders have congregated at my house to meet up with riders of similar abilities and head out for a bike ride.
If you know that someone is showing up at your doorstep to go for a bike ride, it is much easier to get motivated to ride-particularly when the weather isn't sunny and 70+ degrees.
This is a tough group. The general guidelines for whether or not a group ride will "go" from Gale's house or not is:
A minimum temperature of 25 degrees. (Although we have ridden when it was colder.)
If the temperature is under 30 degrees, we need minimal wind. (With wind chill and much humidity, the temperature can become dangerously uncomfortable.)
The roads need to be dry. (This means the bike lane needs to be free of snow and ice.)
We did have snow earlier this week and some snow remains on the ground event today, but we met the above conditions so the ride was "a go". The thermometer in my backyard said 30 degrees Fahrenheit at the start of the ride. The rolling temperature was less than 30 due to wind chill, but it helps to be able to get out of the wind now and again through the shelter the group provides. There were 15 people that decided to ride between two and three hours.
If they hadn't been on my doorstep, I might have gone for a ride by myself; but I definitely would not have gone as long as I did having the group moral support.
I ran across this swimming research and thought you might be interested:
The purpose of this article was to investigate whether swimming world records are beginning to plateau and whether the inequality between men and women's swimming performances is narrowing, similar to that observed in running world records. A flattened "S-shaped curve" logistic curve is fitted to 100-m, 200-m, and 400-m front-crawl world-record swimming speeds for men and women from 1 May 1957 to the present time, using the non-linear least-squares regression. The inequality between men and women's world records is also assessed using the ratio, Women's/Men's world record speeds. The results confirm that men and women's front-crawl swimming world-record speeds are plateauing and the ratio between women's and men's world records has remained stable at approximately 0.9. In conclusion, the logistic curves provide evidence that swimming world-record speeds experienced a period of "accelerated" growth/improvements during the 1960 - 1970s, but are now beginning to plateau. The period of acceleration corresponded with numerous advances in science and technology but also coincided with the anecdotal evidence for institutionalised doping. Also noteworthy, however, is the remarkably consistency in the women's/men's world record ratio, circa 0.9, similar to those observed in middle and long distance running performances. These finding supports the notion that a 10 % gender inequality exists for both swimming and running.
Nevill, A. M., et al., Are There Limits to Swimming World Records?, Int J Sports Med 2007; 28: 1012-1017
I wonder if every sport on the planet has seen the same basic "accelerated growth" due to the use of institutionalized doping? Is any sport exempt?
Yesterday's high temperature was 76 degrees and tomorrow's predicted high is 26. Today was the transition day, with temperatures dropping throughout the day.
I got out for a morning run with my office assistant at about 9:30 am, it was a good break between jobs for both of us.
When a storm like this one moves in, the air is heavy with humidity and it enhances all of nature's aromas. Everything smells really fresh.
We ran in an open space area nearby and saw a bald eagle. Unfortunately I didn't carry my camera, so no shots for you to see. There will be more opportunities though, I'll be sure to get a shot for you.
I never get tired of admiring eagles, and all wildlife for that matter. My office assistant feels the same way. It's nice to run with a buddy that enjoys the same routes you do.
One advantage to the cooler air is it is easier to run faster. I'm not particularly fast, but my office assistant is a phenomenal runner. She's a fantastic athlete, strong and lean.
When we got back to the office, I started writing again. From her chair, my assistant monitored the phones...
As far as I know, triathlon race distances for men versus women were never different. While the race distances were the same, prize money was not always the same. I do recall some early discussions to make prize money distribution equal between the genders, so this point was an issue and there was not early equality. Currently most, if not all, of the major races have equal prize purses for men and women.
Recall in my magazine survey, that I found that Triathlete magazine was closer to equal exposure for men and women than the other non-gender-specific sports magazines. I decided to do a count in Inside Triathlon as well. What I found was 47 female images and 45 male images. In fairness to the other magazines, this particular issue of Inside Triathlon was the 2007 Women's Special (which I didn't realize before I started counting); but still, darn good numbers.
It seems that triathlon is a sport where equality between genders is more the norm, than the exception. What do you think?
Has the sport of triathlon influenced cycling in this area? How about other sports?
I must admit that I planned to see aliens and spaceships on the group ride today. My first encounter with the spaceship was in 2000 or 2001 and I'm a believer. Yes, a spaceship landing pad is just outside my hometown of Loveland, Colorado. Hard to believe, I know.
Steve Douglas, one of my riding buddies from the Ft. Collins Breakfast Club group ride, was not a believer-until today. And we have photos.
Before I get to today's ride, I must go back to August and the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. Steve had mechanical difficulties that day and it wasn't such a good race for him. Similar to others that have had no-so-good races, he proclaimed the day after the race, "I will NEVER do Leadville again."
Several days after the race was over, he posted the gory details of the event on an August 21, 2007 posting titled, "Leadville, Aliens and Suffering". You can find that posting here and you will have to page back to find the August 21 post.
The most critical piece of that post is:
"Would I ever do this again? ... Mark these words: I will only do this one again under 2 conditions: 1) When Aliens announce their presence to this planet or 2) If my brother says he wants to do it.Keep in mind there is little chance of either of these things happening!"
I present to you photographic proof that Steve has met with the aliens - well, at least one alien. Below is Steve posing with the handcrafted spaceship and one small green alien, who's name I did not catch.
This alien spaceship was handcrafted by Russ (Russ's Machine Shop). In all of the alien excitement, I did not get a photo of Russ and Rick, who I assume is Russ's son. We'll have to go back another time.
In addition to handcrafting the spaceship, Russ has a garage filled with ever-so-beautiful Indian motocycles, a gas pump, a handmade three-seat motocycle (Ed, help me with that engine again in the comment section) and even a John Deere bicycle. Check out the photos below.
Now I think the aliens may have been a bit peeved at non-believers because our 45-mile ride had five flat tires, one mechanical chain drop/jam and time in the ride when the group was separated by a series of errors. Apparently the aliens were testing us.
When the group got split, I received a call from Ryan in the other group asking if our group had been abducted by the aliens. This was proof to the aliens that people are indeed believers.
The ride finished safely, with several people talking about aliens. I think we will have great rides from this point forward because we have full alien support.
And Steve, I'm sure you'll be cutting a check and sending in your entry form for Leadville in January of 2008. With alien support, I'm certain you'll be selected in the lottery.
At 4:30 am this morning, I was lying in bed thinking about writing projects that were calling my name. Rather than toss and turn any more, I decided to get up and crank up the computer.
By 5:00 am I was typing away and the words, for this day, were flowing from my fingertips. In the cool morning silence I was able to get some work accomplished.
At 7:00 am, I needed a caffeine boost, so I stopped to make a hot homemade latte.
By 10:00 am, major amounts of work were accomplished and I rewarded myself with a mountain bike ride. I met one of my cycling buddies at a local trail, Devil's Backbone (I'll post a photo of this soon) and we rode for just over an hour.
The sun was out, the winds were calm and it was a perfect Colorado day at near 70 degrees.
This weather, however, is to be enjoyed to the absolute fullest because snow is near. The weatherwomen and men on the news have constantly been reminding us that November is the second snowiest month in Colorado, behind March.
Occasionally, memories of the December of 2006 slip into my mind.
Although we have a snowblower, it is usually at my mother-in-law's house and I am actually happy to shovel snow. That is, I used to be happy to shovel snow.
When the first snowstorm arrived last year, I cheerfully shoveled the driveway and sidewalks.
In December when it snowed again, I was still happy to shovel the snow; but I will admit this one was tougher to shovel. While I was shoveling, the snow continued to fall and the wind was picking up. This was going to be a problem.
The next day, shoveling was not so fun....
But the city tried to help by opening a path down our street. The first time they tried to help, there was one swath down the street. (Translated: Dig yourself out of your driveway.)
By now, the snowblower was transported to our house so we could dig ourselves out, then dig out other family members. Good thing we had the snowblower because we got another storm...
After this storm, the city was more helpful, in that they cleared a path down our street and did try to open the driveways as well. By this time, we had two glaciers formed in front of our house, the remains of all past storms piled high and frozen into blocks. We took bets on what date the last piece of glacier would melt away.
While these 2006 winter memories are not far from my consciousness, I will ignore them for now and enjoy the great weekend weather.
In January this year, I wrote a column about goal setting and the characteristics of good, challenging goals. Twelve of us set out to ride to Estes Park once per month throughout 2007. The last I knew, eight people are still on track to make it and receive the coveted award.
Last Sunday, several of us rode to Estes to check off the month of November. We reminisced about our February trip - that was the coldest and windiest ride of the year. The ride included a dermabrasion from the sand on the road. Ah, a grand adventure for sure.
For our Estes goal, there were a few rules:
Ride to Estes Park starting from anywhere in Loveland and no further west than the Big Thompson school.
Either route, Hwy 34 or Glen Haven, is acceptable.
A return trip sans car and via bike back to Loveland is not mandatory, but encouraged when conditions are safe and fitness allows.
The honor system is strictly enforced - ride with or without the group, with a buddy or solo.
Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Tourists flock to the park to see wildlife, including herds of elk. The elk do notice bike riders, especially us. For 2006, the elk gave awards to six cyclists for managing to ride to Estes Park once per month for the entire year. (Yes, the elk were so impressed to see the cyclists each month, they decided to make a personalized award for each cyclist.)
This is last year's award:
And yes, that thing hanging on the bottom of the lower loop is exactly what you think it is - forever fossilized and now waterproofed by craft lacquer.
When I work on something related specifically to the women's market, I have heightened awareness of advertising and marketing issues.
Last weekend I had just finished writing a piece on women's products in the sports industry and was feeling really smug about how well women are represented in the endurance and outdoor sports industry.
I, and all of my smugness, settled down on the sofa to enjoy a homemade latte and a magazine. While thumbing through the magazine, I began to wonder, "Hey! Where are the women?"
It seemed to me that men were photographed and featured significantly more often than women. Instead of making accusations and assumptions, I decided to count. I wanted data.
I simply thumbed through the magazine and counted the number of female and male images. This included ads, stories, editorial and anything that was not in the small ad section in the back of the magazine. If there was a male and a female featured in a single photo, I didn't count them at all-they cancelled each other out.
I was surprised with what I found. My smugness changed to disappointment.
I checked more magazines, five in total. The magazines are non-gender specific related to outdoor or endurance sports. Here is what I found:
6 female, 80 male
12 female, 101 male
13 female, 55 male
38 female, 68 male
81 female, 99 male
Go on a magazine hunt and let me know what you find...
I mentioned in my last blog that looking for data that verified that women have shorter torsos than men lead to dead ends. The data I found did indicate that in all cultures, on average, men are taller than women.
Since bike fit typically begins with stand-over height, I looked at body dimension differences for men and women of equal leg lengths. For a male and a female having equal leg lengths, their torsos lengths are within 0.1 inches (0.3 cm) of each other-pretty close.
Although torso lengths are very close on my sample subjects, the reach distance to the brake levers differed by nearly 2 inches (5.1 cm). This dimension difference comes from women having shorter arms and smaller hands, on average. If women tend to have shorter arms and smaller hands, steering the bike and squeezing brake levers designed for an average male becomes more challenging for a female.
The data I used in the investigation came from a mixed population of men and women in the U.S. military in the late 1970s. This data has some issues and to name a few:
Certain selection criteria has to be met in order to be accepted into the military. The physical standard eliminated small and obese people.
I do not have the data to back this statement up, yet, but I doubt the average U.S. military person in the late 1970s is the same as the average person in the U.S. military in 2007.
People of certain ethnic populations are not well represented in this data. For example, Southeast Asian males are on average smaller than U.S males. They also have smaller hands.
When looking at bike design and marketing in 2007, heading into 2008, it is getting better for the gals all the time. Manufacturers are producing a larger range of bicycles, with several offering high performance models in the smaller frame sizes. It used to be a "women's specific" bike was a smaller version of the men's bikes with lower grade materials and pink paint. While this can still be the case for some, others are putting serious thought into quality, performance-oriented bicycles for women.
Something to ponder...women are at an advantage in that they can purchase women's specific gear or men's gear with no social backlash. The guys, however, are generally not as lucky. Have you ever seen a male intentionally purchasing and riding a women's specific bike?
And, what if a "women's specific" design is a better fit for a sizeable piece of the male population under 5-feet, 8-inches tall?
While you are busying pondering the pros and cons of marketing smaller bikes with some changes in design to women, I have a homework assignment for you.
Pick up any magazine you subscribe to, or purchase from the news stand, that is not a gender-specific magazine. Something endurance- or outdoor-sport related is what I'd like you to select. Thumb through the magazine and count the number of male images and the number of female images you see in the main magazine body (not the small add section at the back of the magazine). Count the head shots of authors and publishers. Include ad photographs. Include story photos and race results.
While you're counting, make a mental note of the photos. Is there a difference between how the males are portrayed versus the females? Look for these general categories:
I am in the process of working on Bicycling for Women, which is a complete overhaul of all the information in my first book, The Female Cyclist: Gearing up a Level. We decided not to call the new work a second edition due to the large scale of updates and complete revisions in the book. While working on Bicycling for Women, it conjures up fine memories of the most difficult chapter in the first book. The chapter that took me the most time and was the most stressful, was the chapter on equipment and bike fit.
The early research included a few different methodologies for determining seat height. Including a handful of methods to estimate seat height seemed like a reasonable thing to do, no problem. While doing the work on the seat height section, every piece of information I found on bike fit for women said that "women have shorter torsos than men" and therefore bike fit needs to be different for a man than for a woman.
Having some experience in ergonomics (the science of obtaining a correct match between the metrics of the human body, work-related tasks, and work tools) I decided it would be really fun to include outline drawings of a male and female body and display the actual differences in average body measurements between the two.
This is where the trouble began.
Every piece of literature, and I mean everything, in the bike industry touted the women-and-short-torso thing. The trouble was, I could find nothing - no data - to prove that statement to be true.
My ergonomics data came from NASA studies. The data there did not support that women have short torsos.
I checked with the anthropology department at Colorado State University. They identify skeletal remains from years and years ago. Nope, no short torso support there.
I checked with a forensic pathologist. These people ID bodies all the time. How about it doc, any short-torso female evidence, some data? Humph, none here either.
I checked with bike fit guru Andy Pruitt. Did he see that women are typically short in the torso compared to men? No.
I went to legendary frame builder Lennard Zinn to see if he had data in all of his body measuring files. No. He did say that he sees more body dimension similarities of people with similar ethnic backgrounds; but as a rule, he could not support that women have short torsos compared to men.
Now I'm really nervous. I went ahead and wrote the chapter and disagreed with all published information about bike fit for women. I laid out all the data I could find, disproving the short torso claims. The book went to press and was published in 1999 (not that long ago). Then I waited.
Each time I saw another ad for a "women's specific bike" manufactured especially for women because of their short torsos, I dropped the manufacturer a note. I asked to please send me the data that proves women have short torsos, when compared to men.
Most of the time I did not get a response. On a few occasions, people did respond and said that's the information their engineers had given them. When they went to dig out the data...nothing.
I still see the short-torso claims printed from time to time. Each time, I send a note to ask for the data to support the short-torso statement. If you have any data proving women have short torsos, when compared to men, please send it my way.
This whole investigation brought up a string of issues. The domino affect. I'll get to those issues in future blogs.
I'll leave you with something to ponder. What other "common knowledge" is not factual, but some sort of misinformation passed on from person to person? I don't think the information on short torsos was intentionally bad, rather I suspect someone measured a very small sample size of women and men, then concluded all women have short torsos. Perhaps the sample size was one.
I have to tell you it is hard to focus on writing about things that are fun and frivolous when I know people getting evacuated from their homes due to the fires in California. I spoke to a friend, Dallas, in Malibu late last night and he spent his day helping one of his friends evacuate his home.
How to keep the family safe? Where to stay? What to take? What is important?
Dallas described driving to the home to try to get important items and watching the smoke and fire lap the landscape. Places once beautiful are charred black and smoldering. He said experiencing a disaster is like no other experience in his life. It makes people evaluate what is important.
South of Malibu, I know some of my San Diego area friends have been evacuated from their homes. To all of you there, I hope all goes well. Stay safe.
Del gave me his look. The one that says, "My God, I'm married to a nutcase."
I encouraged him to sing along. He told me he had never heard that song before.
Impossible! I can remember doing push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, marching in place, running in place and more. Seriously. I don't know how often we exercised, but it was enough that I can remember the words to the song. I have a memory burn of my Kindergarten teacher doing arm circles. I remember the entire class was laughing, singing and doing exercise.
He's rolling his eyes and shaking his head at this point.
Now, I must prove this song existed.
It turns out this song, the "Chicken Fat Song" has historical significance.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the President's Council on Youth Fitness, with Executive Order 10673 issued on July 16, 1956, after learning the results of a report indicating that American children were less fit than European youth. The first council was chaired by Vice President Richard Nixon.
It was President John F. Kennedy that took charge of the initiative during his presidency and changed the name to the President's Council on Physical Fitness in 1963. He also expanded the fitness mandate to all Americans, not just youth. He frequently addressed the issue of physical fitness in his public speeches. In fact, there was a fifty-mile hike "fad" during his administration. As you can imagine, this fad was short-lived and had limited participation.
Some (definitely not me) consider the oddest contribution to the mandate on physical fitness to be the creation of the song "[Go, You Chicken Fat, Go|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFofqe26t-4&feature=related]" . An excerpt from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum tells about the history of the song:
"Written by Meredith Willson, creator of The Music Man, and sung with enthusiasm by Robert Preston, the actor most responsible for that musical's success, the "Chicken Fat Song" was produced in a three-minute, radio-friendly version and a six-minute version to accompany schoolchildren during Council-approved workout routines."
The historical information about President Kennedy's influence on the nation's health and fitness is worth a read. It's pretty short and begins here.
If you think the Chicken Fat routine is easy, I challenge you to give it a try. It is definitely best if done in a group situation. How about you and your office pals?
To help you out, I think it helps if you print out the lyrics (school version), get your routine in mind, then turn up the music and get going!
I shouldn't complain, or be mad, about getting a cold. The average adult gets two to three colds each year. I haven't had a cold with all the common trimmings since 2004. No kidding.
Between 2004 and last Tuesday, when people would talk about colds, anything about colds, I'd join in. I didn't want any kind of cold germ looking at me like an opportunity to break a winning streak, to gain a crown to be the King of Germie Germs.
But alas, a germ, or a group of germs, attacked me.
Day 1, morning: Denial.
I don't have a sore throat and this is not going to be a cold. I just have a scratchy throat and dry mouth from snoozing on an airplane, mouth agape. I wonder if anyone on the plane noted how many crowns I have in my mouth?
Day 1, afternoon: All out attack
Just in case this "thing" is thinking about becoming a cold, I will stop it dead in it's tracks. I will attack it with my arsenal of homeopathic remedies and my voodoo combinations. There is no way a cold is invading my body.NO WAY!
Day 2, morning: Relief (More Denial?)
Whew, dodged a bullet. That was close. I'm feeling better today. The sore throat seems better. I do have a few sniffles, but that's probably seasonal allergies.
Day 2, afternoon: Anger
Hmmm, not feeling so great. I better not get sick, I don't have time for that kind of nonsense. I always take care of myself. (Well, almost always. There was that sleeping only four hours on my travel day three days ago, sitting on an airplane infront of a sneezing/coughing/throat-clearing hack for 12 hours, eating fewer fresh foods than normal, drinking less fluids and being confined to a very small space for hours on end. But the rest of the time I'm really, really good.) I don't deserve to get a cold!
Day 3, morning: Yet More Denial
I'm not quite well yet, but it seems I'm on the mend. Woah, that was close. I'll probably be fine by the weekend. That will be great, I have lots to do. Now where are the tissues? Seems my nose is causing me fits. Yep, probably allergies.
Day 3, afternoon: More Anger and Bargaining
This is ridiculous. It's not fair. I slept 11 hours last night and I should feel better. My nose is worse, my eyes are watering and my throat is sore again. This not right! I took care of myself. I ate fresh foods, drank plenty of fluids, reduced and eliminated exercise, went to bed early.
Really, I'll do a better job of getting to bed early and eating right from now on. I was getting a little sloppy in the last few weeks. I'll do better now, I promise. Cold, cold, go away let me have a better day.
Day 4: Sadness
I don't want be sick. I don't want a box of tissues next to me at all times. I don't want piles of tissues everywhere I spend more than 30 seconds. I don't want a cold. I don't feel like doing anything. I can't think about anything in a logical process. I'm totally unproductive. This bums me out...
Day 5: Acceptance.
Okay, okay, it's not the end of the world. I have a simple, common cold. I'll be better in a couple of days, when this virus has run its course. Until then I'll have to put up with a chapped nose, eyes that water unpredictably and a nose that won't shut off. I can't believe people get these symptoms two or three times a year. Intolerable.
Day 6 and 7: Tolerance.
More nose issues and now coughing has invaded my body. Nice. I just as well have the entire buffet of symptoms. I'll take some stuff to relieve the symptoms and just get through this. Once I get through it, I'm set for a long time to come. I've paid my cold dues.
My voice has been reduced to squeaks and tones that are not normal. I can barely get through two sentences without coughing. It's easier not to talk. I think some people are happy about that.