Thursday, January 29, 2009

Your first century, a buyer's guide

A friend always told me, "if you can't be good, look good". Winter has us in it's cold grasp, but dreams of completing your first century fill your mind and spring is just around the corner. The lemming wants to help you not only be good, but look good too. Here are some items you may consider purchasing for your first century.
1) The bike - Someone once said, "it's not the bike, it's the engine". Whoever said that probably rode a recumbent. Sure, you could do a century on a mountain bike with slicks, but secretly all real cyclists laugh at those people. Everyone knows that you should do it on a road bike, and unless you have the top model of components you will never impress the hot bike chicks. So go for the best, the lemming recommends Trek's 6.9 Pro Madone at $9,129,99. To not complete your first century on this bike would be like not being able to complete a trip to the grocery store in a Top Fuel dragster.

2) The Louis Garneu dimpled Supperleggera aero helmet - You need a helmet anyway right, and after the century you'll more than likely move on to age-grouper triathlons. So save yourself some money and go with some bling right out of the gate! Dimples work for golf balls, so it only makes sense they'll work on biker's heads! Besides, the goal is to look good and be good, and nothing says you mean business like a dimpled aero helmet! At $179.99, this gem is a steal for the aero-ness it will give you in your century.

3) Aero bars - Aero bars just imply that you are fast, and you'll look good rocking them. For your first century, location of the aero bars is not important. Put them way out on the bar ends like this bike above, or even better, take a lesson from the motorcycle guys and get a second set and locate them on the downtube as a set of highway bars for your feet. Wherever you put them you'll reap the benefits of having them.

4) Zipp dimpled wheels - You've got the Louis Garneu dimpled Supperleggera aero helmet, now go for the dimpled wheels. Dimples work for golf balls so it's only a matter of time until we see dimples in Formula One, on airplanes, and anything else that goes fast. For the rear I must recommend a disc. On a century you are going to be riding a lot of miles and possible fighting a lot of wind, you want to slice through as well as only a disc wheel can do.

5) A coach - Anyone can ride a century if they eat enough food and ride their bike beforehand consistently, but a coach can get you there faster. Without a coach you can't do fun stuff like one-legged pedaling, sprinting past someone on the bike trail and then going ridiculously slow so that you look like a jackass, nearly running over a family out biking because you're on an interval and can't let your heart rate fall, and never ever stopping to help someone with a flat tire again. A coach is a crucial part to completing your first century!

6) Full Discovery kit - It's your first century and you want to win it. You need the inspiration of the Grand Poobah of cycling, Lance Armstrong. Go for the full Discovery kit though, not just a jersey and black shorts or someone may call you "Fred". Bonus points if you can find a yellow Discovery jersey.

7) Helmet mirror - You need to see, and that Louis Garneu dimpled Supperleggera aero helmet needs to be accessorized.

8) Handlebar mirror - You've got the helmet mirror sporting on your Louis Garneu dimpled Supperleggera aero helmet, but what are you going to do while you are down on your aero bars? You can't adjust the mirror just when you need to drop in to the aero bars and join a big paceline. The Lemming recommends a handlebar mirror, adjusted just for use while in the aero bars.

9) A dimpled paint job for your bike - You've got the Louis Garneu dimpled Supperleggera aero helmet, you've got the Zipp dimpled wheels, but what about your Trek 6.9 Pro Madone? It has no dimples, and that is most assuredly slowing you down. Get that bike upgraded with a sleek and aerodynamic dimpled paint job.

10) PowerCranks - PowerCranks are the arch nemesis of fun on your bike and for a century you MUST rock them! The fixie craze took America's urban venues by storm, the next rage is PowerCranks. PowerCranks will force each leg to work independently and push you through the century much faster. I recommend not riding your PowerCranks at all until the day of the century, that way you will get the utmost benefit from them!

11) Bento box - You're going to need fuel on your century. Sure, there will be lots of crappy tasting Accelerade free at the rest stops, but the Lemming recommends a little trick from the triathletes, a bento box. Make sure to test fitment ahead of time so that it doesn't interfere with your most aero position while in the aero bars.

So there you have it. These 11 items are all you really need to complete your first century. What about a PowerTap you might ask? A PowerTap is not required to complete your first century and may even be considered wasteful by some, stick to the 11 items I have above and you'll have no problems! When you roll across that finish line in first place, drop the Lemming a line and let him know how it went!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Y-Foil files

After a slack day in the salt mines, I signed up for Google Alerts. Cool technology, it searches the web for anything you specify and then sends you an email each day with what it finds new. It was all cool and I was having fun with it until I nearly choked on the Tab soda I was drinking. My post on Trek Y-Foils being born from jets has caused a stir, not only in the Saab community, but amongst triathletes as well, suggesting that the use of satire implies a lack of understanding of product positioning. I'm touched that I could annoy a person so much with simple sarcasm.

The 3900lb, 110hp Saab 900, born from jets. 0-60: unknown

I can't blame the people making a stir, the companies used ingenious marketing and the people bought it like a big old catfish and stinkbait. When you have the delusion that your car was designed and engineered by a company that also made really fast and sleek aircraft, then realize the same heritage applies to a 3900lb, 110hp lead-filled tank such as the Saab 900, it takes a hit on the old ego, you feel duped. Suddenly your jet-born car is not so cool and elite as you were led to believe (via product marketing) when you see your sister car getting honked at and flipped off by a little old lady, out-accelerating them on an on-ramp in a 1982 Chrysler Lebaron with a Respect Life bumper sticker.

The same thing applies to the Trek Y-Foil, it's cool as a concept and great if you can rock it, but when you show up for the MS150 with it and your brand spanking new Spinergy wheels, 100 lbs. overweight, and get passed in your aero bars pushing in to a headwind by a kid on a creaky old Schwinn, you feel like you've been robbed. You feel as if this bike isn't all it was made out to be and you would have been better off just riding your bike instead of buying in to all of the hype that bicycling publications spew out. It's an epiphany when you learn that the bike doesn't make the ride or the rider, and no coach, cycling camp, training gadget, or fancy new bike is going to better your riding as much as just getting out and riding. Until you have that epiphany, well the StyleMan eloquently says, "For context, this makes you stupider than people who rock mullets and believe taking a shower fills your legs with water. Yet, stupid people are happy people, and I would change places with you in an instant if I could."

Photo of JTT courtesy of Blogger

Because of the stir I've caused with JTT above, for a few days I may nervously answer the door when the doorbell rings and hope I don't find a grown man on a Y-Foil in green shirts and a midriff shirt, challenging me to a triathlon in which I have zero interest in doing, my heart couldn't handle that sort of product placement.

But anyway, the Lemming would take it as a compliment that JTT suggests he's ripping off BikeSnobNYC, if BikeSnobNYC weren't on a whole other level, with an entirely different objective. If the Lemming were to be ripping off BikeSnobNYC, he wouldn't be talking in third person, and he would try to post on a regular basis. He would also be pouring through Craigslist articles to find funny content to entertain readers, getting annoyed with Twitter and putting a funny spin on it, poking fun of fixed gear freestylers, finding enticing bike love pictures, and creating a very amusing end-of-the-world indicator such as the pistadex and Chris King index, none of which the Lemming has done. What the Lemming and BikeSnobNYC definitely seem to share is a dislike of people thinking that they can't ride their bike for fun.

Reading Bicycling magazine would annoy me so much that, years later, I still have a nervous twitch from stories I'd read. I can't sleep in the same room as others because I still wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat yelling, "city limit sprint" as I shake and heave and recount my dream about wearing a garbage bag in a rain storm while drinking a flat Coke to avoid bonking. Then a friend forwarded an issue of RoadBikeRider, and I knew the disease had spread. People could never ride their bike for fun again. The new regime was about dominating the unwitting and you had to have goals or you were riding junk miles, a sure sign of wasting your time on the bike.

The ironic symbolism (because I know triathlete types enjoy that scene in Ghost where Demi Moore has lost hope and lets the glass jar with the coin in it fall down the steps and break) is that the name lemming infers follower. What exactly that means, who knows. It could be the Lemming is just another bike blog out there, or it could be that the Lemming is annoyed by the lemmings who follow the training advice so closely that they can't even ask if you have everything you need when you have a flat because their heart rate might drop, or it could be that it's hard to find a good blogger name that is not used and my therapist is tired of hearing about Bicycling magazine articles?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lemming block, the art of no inspiration

It's been a hard week for the Lemming... The blogosphere and fitness spam newsletters have been quiet from the usual irritations that inspire me. No inspiration means lemming block, and in fact there seems to be a shift in the cosmos. Usually I can't read an issue of RoadBikeRider without coming up with 6 different blog ideas, but this week I actually enjoyed it and laughed! The letter that caught my attention should have gone to the Style Man as only he could have answered it correctly, but it's still funny and Uncle Al had a fairly good response. Not up to Style Man standards, but good in a New Kids on the Block "Hangin' Tough" sort of way.

So without anything to inspire or irritate me, I turned to How to Avoid the Bummer Life for some good laughs. Stevil posted some inspirational photos the other day, maybe I'll enlarge a few, print them on glossy paper, and hang them up in my cycling shrine for inspiration.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Never ride outdoors again!

Sucked in to the latest story by a picture of a bike babe getting ready to ride indoors with her helmet on, I thought I'd find out what Josh Horowitz suggested if I was short on training time. In these harsh winters I would really like to "avoid the 20 minutes pre-ride it takes to pile on the layers and the half hour after [my] ride to clean the bike and all [my] gear." That is definitely a hassle, I'd rather spray down my bike with wax so I can sweat all over it. Right now I'm even looking for other things around the house that I can coat with wax to protect them, doing the dishes is going to be so much easier with this protectant!

Perhaps more importantly, in the summer when the air is crisp and the weather is beautiful, I'd much rather be sitting at home on the trainer. I might guess that's what Ted Kaczynski did and why he was possibly a great rider in between making and mailing bombs. It's such a pain to "slather on the sun block and stop every hour to re-fill [my] bottles." I hate sunblock just as much as the next guy and I can only make it a couple hours on two bottles. Inside I can just stick a gallon jug of water next to my pasty white legs and spend the whole day doing Spinervals if I want.

Hell, sitting on trainer in the summer allows me to avoid "wasted time at traffic lights and stop signs", now I'll no longer have to debate the battle of good and evil when I consider blowing through them to save time. Thank the Lord "there is no coasting on descents or through corners", I despise coasting, and flying down hills is the thing that terrorizes my dreams. If I fly downhill while coasting, that means my heart rate is going to drop, I'll no longer be in my zone, and my coach will call me a sissy.

If those points weren't enough to convince me to never ride my bike outside again, I can "precisely nail every single aspect" of my workouts! That will really help when I sign up for the Pottawatomie Pounders Century next year. Once I'm in the century I can just settle in to a pack of riders, while resting on my aero bars pointed up at 75deg, and enjoy the fitness and stability I've gained from sitting on the rollers at home! Awesome!

Wait a minute, what's this at the end of the article, "Riding indoors can be brain numbing and even torturous". Brain numbing and torturous? Then why did you say, "it doesn't hurt to take some (or all) of your training indoors." I'm not signing up for brain numbing and torturous, if I wanted to do that I'd hit a spin class or sign up for a triathlon, I knew there had to be a hitch.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Overcoming your inner triathlete demon

Overcoming your inner triathlete demon 101
Professor Lemming

Good morning class, I'm Professor Lemming. Long before I wrote my e-book "How to ride better by actually getting out on your bike" I used to teach classes to triathletes on overcoming their inner demons and feeling comfortable about themselves. Triathletes have a tough skin because they have to put up with a lot, people make fun of them for their bike handling skills, they don't get to ride their bikes for fun, they have to wear silly clothes, and worst of all, they have to hang out with other triathletes. But none of this should get you down.

Today while reading a Friends of the Lemming blog, the Everyday Athlete, I ran across a post which may just belong to a former student. The name isn't one I recognize, and it's not on my old rosters, but the textbook precision that Joe Tysoe aka JTT uses to pick apart Ms. Swift's self-deprecation of her own bike-handling skills in her "About Me" section brought tears to my eyes. Class, I want you to learn, and I want you to have the power of JTT, so we're going to analyze his conquering of the demons for the benefit of you all. Please have a tissue handy in case you are as moved as I was.

JTT wrote:
"In her recent column to The Oregonian she mentions not being able to keep up with other women ascending Thurman on her mountain bike clad with spiked tires..

Hey Heidi, it's not your "triathlete-grade bike handling skills" that held you back, it's your lack of fitness."

Photo of JTT courtesy of Blogger

Good good, class did you get this? There are several lessons to be learned here, first is that it's not about the bike. Type of bike should make no difference whatsoever, whether it's a nice shiny Quintana Roo, a jet-inspired Trek Y-Foil, or an old rusty Stumpjumper, it shouldn't slow you down in a triathlon. The bigger lesson is the nice insult though. The lack of fitness comment is the gold standard of insults, it's like saying that my dad can beat up your dad, and it infers that the fitness of triathletes is on a whole different level. Awesome! The only thing I may critique JTT on is the lack of using her last name "Swift" in a play on words. Calling her "non-Swift" would have been the coup de grâce.

JTT wrote:
"I wonder if Heidi happened to watched the Beijing Games and catch the Triathlon, the course was technical; meaning it had plenty of turns, climbing and descending.

But I'll cut her a little slack, perhaps she only watches IMH on NBC each October and assumes the bike portion of a Tri is a straight line drag race (albeit a long one) from point A to point B..

Maybe she could watch Escape from Alcatraz on television.. very, very technical course that puts 2000+ athletes on narrow, twisting, turning, and varied surface course with a ton of descending and climbing..?"
No no no JTT! The first rule in class is that you NEVER talk about triathlon club. Triathlon club is like Fight club only way less cooler. Actually, it's not like fight club at all. I'm beginning to think this may not be one of my old students after all. Remember what we taught in class, no one outside of triathlon cares about triathlon. The only people besides triathletes who may have any idea what JTT is talking about, or may have watched the program, are the prisoners down at Guantanamo Bay.

Class, we have to give JTT a few points here though. He did violate the first rule of Triathlon club, but he also did try to use association by proximation. Basically indicating that since pros can do something, any triathlete can do something. We can relate this to anyone that has watched the Bourne Identity, you know that Matt Damon can't possibly kick that much ass, but you know he has to be able to kick a moderate amount of ass just from having made the movie.

JTT wrote:
"Or maybe she could try that?

Nah.. Too tough for her.."
Boo-yah! Take that Ms. non-Swift! You don't have the ovaries to suffer through a race that you have absolutely no interest in! Beautiful JTT! Textbook precision once again! Sorry class, got a little caught up in the moment there. JTT challenging Ms. Swift to a big triathlon is like a junior college football team challenging a team of triathletes to a 4-quarter scrimmage. If they don't take the challenge, they look inferior and must bow down to the skills of the junior college football team. If they do take the challenge, well, it will be a brutal slaying that will only prove that junior college football players play football better than a team of triathletes. But that is to the letter a perfect way to overcome your inner triathlete demon, play to her insecurities and get her out there doing something she isn't comfortable doing. She'll look stupid and not have any fun, and that will show her just what great bike handling skills triathletes have! Ms. Swift, you've been pwned and the JTT-Train has just left the building!

Monday, January 12, 2009

My tool is much happier too

Opening the letters to the editor of Bicycling magazine is like opening a cereal box as a child. Excitedly digging through the stuff you don't want, to try and find the promised goodness inside. Sometimes you find yourself a gem, most of the time you are horribly disappointed.

I've started a little game with myself when it comes to the reader letters, read the title, then read the last sentence and try to figure out what the letter is about. The latest was "Lost and Found" with the closing line of "My tool is much happier now."

Thoughts rushed through my brain as to what this provocative closing line and title could mean. Had he broken up with and reconciled with his psycho ex-girlfriend after she made the Best of Craigslist? His tool may be much happier, but what would that have to do with biking?

Maybe he found his back issue of Bicycling Magazine with Niki Gudex. You remember the one, the issue where she was the cover model and many readers got up in arms about having a model on the cover after they assumed she didn't ride? Apparently good cyclists can't look good. That was a classic and I could see why he would be happier after finding it.

Or maybe he'd found the perfect anatomically ergonomic seat after many numb rides, even more frustrating nights, and much cash spent on trying to find the perfect one. Sure, any of those concepts would have been appealing eye candy for us dear readers. But just like the toy in the cereal box, reality was much less exciting and way more disappointing. Read on...

Lost and Found
About a year ago I was working on my mountain bike with my trusty Leatherman tool. My work area was the floor of my cluttered garage. When I was gathering my tools to put them away I could not find the case for the Leatherman. I thought it must have gotten pushed under a pile. On a ride yesterday, I heard the hiss of a tire going flat, As I checked the tire for thorns, out popped the case. My tool is much happier now.

Charles Rozner, Northridge, CA
I can't fault his bike maintenance, I still remember the days of working on the bike with a pair of pliers and a bottle of 10W-30. Those days I had a love of my bike that was much different than the very odd BILF days of today. However, I have to revel in the story of how Charles rode around for a year with a Leatherman case in his tire. It's quite possible that when you work on a bike with a Leatherman, you maybe aren't as in tune to how off-balance your bike would be with a gigantic counterweight in the tire. Maybe it all just seemed normal with how the maintenance usually turns out. At any rate, my tool is much happier after reading the story.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Train Indoors Without Going Insane?

Riding your trainer indoors while watching Tour de France videos is like masturbation. We all know that, but we're afraid to admit it, honestly because we have nothing else. It's shameful, you can't talk about it at parties, and it doesn't compare to the real thing.

Winter training sucks and spinning classes aren't any better. They sound great in theory, but then you get there and a sorority chick who's never ridden outside and just got done with a step class is teaching your class. The classroom stinks, the bikes are uncomfortable, and you feel like a total tool wearing bike shorts while a soccer mom is in basketball shorts and a spaghetti string tanktop beside you.

So what is a rider to do? It was with great exuberation that I opened my inbox this morning to find an article from Triathlon with the picture above and a catchy "Train Indoors Without Going Insane" mantra. At first glance I thought, sweet! I can dress up in Ben Stiller-ish clothes and ride an old-assed exercise bike while hot cheerleader types prance around me with their hair flying everywhere. I would ride a Huffy on an old rusty indoor trainer if that you were the case.

Sadly, as I started to read the article it wasn't the case. Not only that, but I started to search for the meat of the advice, there had to be some, but I couldn't really find any. The article seemed to say that goals and planning will help you get through the boring winter, with some Spinerval plugs thrown in. Spinervals aren't the answer for me, I'll start doing them when Coach Troy puts some music on them that doesn't sound like carnival porn.

So looking at goals and planning, my goal is to ride really fast in the Pottawatomie Pounders Century next year. Now that I've defined the goal, all I have to do is ride the trainer all the time now that it won't be boring, what incredible advice! My objective will probably be that I have to punch myself really hard for every minute that I ride under an hour on the trainer.

We can all see that is not going to work, so I took the time this morning to lay out some alternative training solutions for making indoor training less boring. I invite Coach Troy to use them as he sees fit.

1) Strip-ervals - After a 20 minute warm-up, your significant other removes one item of clothinig for every interval of specified duration you complete. Careful planning must be done here so that the workout is completed by the time nakedness ensues.

2) Beer climbs - Who doesn't like beer? No one says you can't drink while riding, if anyone does then they haven't ridden RAGBRAI or seen Team Good Beer. Simulate a long climb using a higher gear and really pushing it. At the end, reward yourself with a few drinks of your favorite beer. Repeat until the workout is complete. The beer replenishes carbohydrates and is way more rewarding than nasty Endurox or sissy chocolate milk.

3) Chocolate workouts - Everyone wants chocolate, but bike magazines make you feel all guilty about blowing your diet. Instead they want you to drink Endurox or chocolate milk as if that is some sort of reward. Screw that, it's a punishment! Complete this workout, get your favorite chocolate, it's that easy. Just don't eat it if you don't complete the workout, I'm watching.

4) Fat Cyclist Livestrong intervals - Every time you don't complete an hour long trainer workout, you donate a specified amount of your bike upgrade fund to Fat Cyclist's Livestrong cause. So even if you aren't doing what is good physically, you'll be making up for it by supporting a great cause.

5) Bicycling magazine Lance intervals - while you ride the trainer, have someone read Bicycling magazine to you, any page, any article. Every time "Lance" is mentioned you sprint until his name is said again.

6) Night out completions - If you complete all of your planned trainer workouts for the week, you get a guys/girls night out. Obviously this one is only going to work if your significant other supports you riding on the trainer, if not, good luck.

These were just a couple of ways to make indoor training less boring this winter. There are many, many more, you just have to be creative. Now back to punching myself really hard for not completing the workout this morning.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My new e-book, how to ride better by actually getting out on your bike

The lemming was gone for awhile, but I wasn't just slacking. Seems like everyone is jumping on the coaching bandwagon these days, scrubbing cash from the poor souls who feel the need to be punished simply for riding their bike. Because it's no longer Christmas and I'm no longer in the giving spirit, I've decided to write my own new e-book to get in on this boom market. "How to ride better by actually getting out on your bike" is destined to be the next New York Times bestseller, and it would be best to get one early before they disappear.

In the first chapter I'll shatter some misconceptions and explain how simply thinking about upgrades, reading bike magazines, and posting on forums won't make you faster. In chapter two I'll reveal my secret ideas for actually getting out and riding your bike, making a coach virtually obsolete. Chapter three gets down to the nitty gritty and shows you how to pedal correctly without using silly and expensive things such as PowerCranks. In chapter four I'll give you other ideas about what to do on your bike if you don't have a power meter display to stare at and specific "zones" to hit.

In chapter five I'll give you hints about how to mingle at parties and not bore non-bikers with stories about your Trek Madone and the Pottawatomie Pounders Century you are training for. Chapter six reveals secret MySpace and Facebook profile creation tips that will allow you to blend in with, and maybe even attract members of the opposite sex. In chapter seven we crash a roadie and a mountain biker in a tightly controlled lab and answer once and for all if shaving your legs helps in case of a crash. In chapter eight I reveal the truth behind men wearing pantyhose in the winter to stay warm and how a pair of tights really doesn't cost that much when spandex looks silly enough already.

All in all, it's a whopper! And if you like this e-book, please check out my first, and wildly popular e-book, "How to lose weight by eating less".

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thanks Stevil!

A shout-out to Stevil! Ever since the BikeLemming was mentioned in your blog How to Avoid the Bummer Life and subsequently linked, my readership has increased dramatically, I appreciate it! Keep making me laugh and I promise to try and not make my blog suck. By the way, the Will Arnett video still brightens the darkest of days, I've been looking for a Hummer with a Prius shell on it that gets even worse mileage than a Hummer.

Also, thanks to the other friends of the Lemming who've linked to this relatively new blog, I've got you linked back on the right sidebar below as I find ya. Now back to partying and bringing in the New Year!