Saturday, May 22, 2010


I did 2 races today. I finished both of them, but the results were less than I expected. I just could not put myself in the hurt locker and thrive. Instead, I exercised my one true strength which is survival. I'm very good at it. Look for the guy in any race hanging on for dear life lap after lap - that is me. Tongue hanging out, look of desperation on the face, verging on panic, that is me.

Sometimes, it is necessary to put things in perspective. I've been beating myself up all evening about missing the breaks in the masters race, tailgunning all day in the Pro 1,2 race. I'm irritated, frustrated and generally in a bad mood.

However, it took exactly 30 second of perusing the DCM forum on to remind me there are a lot of worse things than hanging on for dear life in a race. It is truly a blessing to be able to race again, and sometimes one (me) tends to forget that it is a blessing. I'm feeling alot better now, and next time I'm in the hurt locker, in survival mode, I am going to remember that I'm lucky to be there at all.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why Do I Race?

One of my teammates posed this question today. I had to think about it for a while, and here is the answer I gave him:

My reasons for racing vary. When I was young, it was because I was phasing out of speedskating and into cycling. Breaking Away had piqued my interest, and considering I was 5'7" and 115 lbs soaking wet, cycling seemed to be a natural fit. I also knew a few guys that raced, and that further fueled the desire.

As time progressed, it was the cool factor. There weren't that many cyclists. The sensations and competition kept it interesting. It was a moving chess game. I had periods where I was winning races, and periods where I could not finish a race to save my life. The wins kept me going, because I knew I could do it again.

Cycling was also one of the few sports where you could compete against the pros. Imagine playing tennis with Andre Agassi. The chances of that were very rare. But I have raced with a lot of famous pros. I've had my ass kicked by some of the best cyclists in the world. Just being in a race with a couple of these guys, watching them turn the pedals just like you do, suffer just like you do is priceless.

Later in life it was the search for the perfect race, one in which I did everything I could regardless of outcome. It's a great analog to the perfect hole in golf where you were par or below par. It's hard to achieve. Sometimes it takes more than one year to get there. When you finally do, it is a wonderful feeling.

Sometimes it's because nothing else in life is going right. Work sucks, you're boss is kicking your ass, your girlfriend broke up with you, your dog died. Sometimes the small act of finishing a race is all you need to feel worthy.

Sometimes it's because your doctor has told you "You're to asthmatic to ever run with the pack." Well, doc, I have to say I did. Other times it's because the doctor says your racing days are over. Doc, I'm not so sure about that.

Other times it's simply because you can. Others can't or won't. You're racing for them, to show them that if you can race, they can get off the couch and walk to the kitchen, despite being so weak every step is an effort.

Sometimes you race because you don't know what else to do. Sometimes it's because you enjoy it, other times it's because you need to prove it to yourself you can do it.

Sometimes, you rationalize this stuff before every race, every lap, every minute. It's a minute by minute thing. Sometimes the angel on your shoulder gets you through, and sometimes the devil on the other shoulder convinces you to drop out, to be a loser.

Sometimes it just sucks, but once you get that little glimpse, that par hole, that good race, or even that good lap, it's a wonderful moment!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Return to Ceraland

Ceraland has always been one of my favorite spring races. I’ve done this race several times before and I always look forward to it. Today marked my return to Ceraland after a 4 year absence. This return also marked a 4 year anniversary of one of the defining moments of my life.

I can remember it like it happened one minute ago. The cardiologist walked into the recovery room and said “No more racing. You have non ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy. I’m prescribing beta blockers and an ace inhibitor”.

Oh my God! Wtf?!?!? What the hell does that mean? First I mourned the loss of racing. Internet research quickly proved this should be the least of my concerns. The Framingham study said I would be dead in 5 years! Why, why, why, why me? Don’t I have enough health issues with the never ending allergies and sinus infections? How can it be possible that my heart is failing? Much angst ensued.

I researched and researched. Despair ensued. Then I stumbled on a link to an athlete that had DCM but had been cured. The method of healing was controversial, unconventional. It required faith and forgiveness. I felt I had the former. I was not sure about the latter. I pursued it. I forgave the 6th grade bully that picked on me. I went through my life, discovered I had a lot to forgive. In forgiving and in faith in God and Jesus, I found healing. Some may say it was time that gave me this healing, some may say it was the meds, but I know, this was not the case. I have no doubt as to the method of healing.

By God’s grace and healing, I returned to racing in 2009 and raced at Ceraland today. I struggled to finish, suffered like a dog, but managed to finish. It’s been a long, strange, fantastic and life changing journey to get to back to Ceraland.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cycling Therapy

It has been a rough week at work. I'm struggling to get one of my projects in order before I go on vacation. At the same time, I've got other projects, special requests, and normal "run the business" type of work. Every one of these seems to be somebodies number one priority.

I left work today stressed. It was the first 75+ degree day we have had this year. This added to the stress level; needed to get everything finished up to get out of the office with enough daylight to ride. I managed to do so, and after a few miles on the road, the stress and worries faded into the rhythm of the pedals turning over and over.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


After dealing with two offshore projects, I’m frustrated to no end. The expectation is the developer, whether onshore, offshore, or employees should know the basics of how to develop software that:
  • Disposes all database connections, even when there is an error

  • Minimizes network hops as it is a known performance hit to make a remote call more than once

  • Isn’t optimized until optimization is needed (yes, I know you can throw all of business logic in a stored procedure, but is that the right thing to do?)

  • Demonstrates basic OO design and coding skills – objects are nouns, methods are verbs

  • Has objects, methods named meaningfully – wtf does ExternalVariable do? What are its responsibilities?

  • Demonstrates knowledge of simple things like transactions – Yes, that update needs a transaction, no, the select statement doesn’t (ever, and don’t argue with me about it, you’re proving your ignorance).

I know that every one of these developers is hardworking, conscientious and willing to learn. My frustration is being forced to teach each contractor that walks though the door. It’s a waste of time and money.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Catching Up

I’m aggravated, irritated and just a little bit pissed off because I have another sinus infection. Don’t you get an exemption from illnesses after near death experiences? It doesn’t seem to be the case, and on reflection, it occurs to me that I have a sinus infection every March. On the bright side, it gives me a chance to catch up on a few things, this blog being one of them.

I did the Lexington Circuit race week before last. It is a very easy course, good for the big guys that can push into the wind. The first race of the day was the Masters 40+ race. My team was a little bit undermanned, and we picked the wrong strategy for the race. As a result, we, meaning my teammate Marty and I, ended up chasing a 5 man break all day. The break was well defended by a strong Schellers team. I managed to get 2nd in the field sprint and 7th overall, so I felt somewhat redeemed.

The 2nd race of the day was the Pro 1,2,3 race. I was a bit worried about this race, considering I have not done 2 races in a day for a while, and the fact the legs were pretty wasted from the Masters race. The race started off hard and fast, with attacks lap after lap. I kept managing to make the splits, except for the last one, which left a group of 10 going up the road and bodies flying off the back.

I regrouped with 3 other guys. We settled into a good pace and soon we were picking up people shelled from the front group. Next thing you know we are 10 seconds off the lead and closing fast. We managed to close within 5 seconds of the lead group 500 meters from the finish, but just could not close it. I was cramped up, locked up, so I drifted in for 13th. I was very happy with this! This race was the hardest race I have ever done on this course, and one of the hardest in 8 months or so. Considering how my training has been way behind due to early season illness, the race was a resounding success.

The plan was to follow this up with 2 hard weeks of training followed by a nice vacation over spring break. Unfortunately, the annual spring sinus infection is disrupting the plan. C’est la vie.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Race and Old Urges

Last weekend was my first race of the season. I was quite surprised to be there, and even more surprised to be competitive! While I did not finish as well as I would have liked in the past, the race was a success. I have to thank God for even being on the starting line.

After watching copious amounts of short track speed skating during the 2010 Olympics, I find myself wanting to speedskate again. I haven't done any serious skating since a few practices in 1992, and have not competed since 1983. Yet for some reason it compels, and a few short dry runs sans skates feel natural, even practiced.

Regardless of speedskating urges, there are a lot of bike racing urges to be met in the next 5 months. Lexington is on tap for this coming weekend. Lexington was the first race I did after a 3 year absence from racing. It was also one of the last races I did before my 3 year absence began. I remember watching a break go up the road during that race in 2006. I thought at ther time, "It's just training, no big deal." Well. you never know if a race is going to be your last race, so it's best just to treat it as your last race.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Looking Forward to First Race

This weekend is the first race of the season. I registered tonight. If you had told me I'd be racing this race back in January I would have told you that you were insane. Fortunately, I have enough fitness now (thank God) to actually consider racing.

It's still going to be a painful experience! Racing always is, particularly the early season races. The body is just not quite ready, and it takes a while to adjust to the pain and demand on the body. Then there is the mental part, getting over the initial nerves, getting back into race mode, and relearning how to suffer and push through the pain.

It's going to be fun!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

5 Years, 50% Mortality

Upon diagnosis of DCM, the first thing most individuals are going to do is hit the Internet to do research. One of the first things they are going to discover is the Framingham study. This study states that 50% of people with DCM are going to die within 5 years of diagnosis.

This study is very dated. It does not take into account medical advances of treatment of DCM and heart failure. There are thousands of people that have beat this oft repeated statistic. When you read it, don't panic. Talk to your cardiologist. He should be able to tell you the latest information.

In addition, when you are home and alone and freaking over your 5 year death sentence, visit to read the accounts of all of the people that have made it past that 5 years. It will make you feel a lot better!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


The last few weeks have been a struggle.  I've been training hard despite a heavy workload at my day job.  Rides are done late in the evening, and dinners are done even later.  Sometimes it is a huge mental effort to swing a leg over the bike.  Sometimes I just want to kick back, drink a glass of wine and live a normal life.

When I start struggling like this, I make it a point to visit  I take a quick glance at the dilated cardiomyopathy forum.  This quick glance inspires me. There are so many people there that would love to be able to exercise, to live normal lives, to not worry about making it to the next day.

 There are many heroes at  Last year it was JimmyBoy.  Jimmy was a regular poster that encouraged and gave many hope.  He passed away last year from complications from a heart transplant.  He still lives on, however, on the site, every word of advice, every word of encouragement, is still there in the site.   JimmyBoy still lives!  This is awe inspiring!

Steve H is this year's inspiration. Every post has been positive, even in the face of dire circumstances. Steve H is struggling after a Left Ventrical Assist Device Implant(LVAD). The LVAD is supposed to help his heart rest, allowing it to recover and heal.

The operation to install a LVAD must be really tough. Steve H, with his wonderful sense of humor, with his toughness is struggling despite a lot of prayers, encouragement, and love from his family and friends. He is still having a rough go of it. It is heartbreaking, but awe inspiring at the same time.

I'm thinking of Steve H when I swing a leg over the bike. He's fighting for his life. Why should I be questioning a simple matter of throwing a leg over the bike and riding for 2 hours?

The rational part of my brain fights it. It's 7:30 pm, WTF are you thinking? Go drink a glass of wine and eat some dinner. Then it occurs to me that Steve H and JimmyBoy and many others would love to be able to ride a bike for two hours, or walk up a flight of steps, to live life normally. The ride is much easier upon this realization.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Walking, Talking, and Living a Normal Life...

... sometimes is taken for granted.  How often have you gotten out of bed, walked into the kitchen, said "Good Morning" to your wife and then went on about your business attacking the day?  I've done it thousands of times. It's just so, well, natural that is easy to forget what a miracle it is.

There are so many people out there that can't do this.  People that have been paralyzed, people that have cancer, people that have MS, people that have heart failure.  So many people that would love to be able to get out of bed and walk into the kichen and not give it a second thought.

I've actually been there. Walking after pneumonia was an exercise in planning.  How do I get from point A to point B without passing out or coughing?  How am I going to get to sleep tonight without laying flat?  How in the hell am I going to get up 6 flights of stairs to my car?  All of these questions and exercises in planning just to do normal things.

It gives one a lot to think about.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

An Outside Ride!

It finally warmed up enough to get outside and ride in KY. It was a flat out awesome day! It is amazing how warm 45 degrees(F) feels after the HORRIBLE stretch of 20 degrees days.

I met up with some teammates on the road. I was worried about how I was going to ride given how poor my fitness level is, but happily the I managed to ride pretty well. I still struggled on the hills a bit, and when the duration went over 2.5 hours I had to slip into survival mode.

All, in all, it was good. There is a possibility of getting out on the road tomorrow too! 2 days in a row, that is unheard of this year!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Dog is My Hero

Most cyclists identify heavily with a pro cyclist. We all wish we could be Lance. Personally, I wish I could be my dog. Why? Because she just gets it done. She doesn't complain. She just does it.

My female dog is getting well into old age. She is 91 in dog years. Back when she was in her 70s, she managed to dislocate a hip. She screamed bloody murder, then crawled into my lap. She had absolute faith that I would make it better. That absolute, uncompromising faith is so rare and so beautiful.

We absolutely had to fix her. The vet, Lee Hankins, told us that she would do well with an FHO, which is a fancy acronym for a procedure in which the femoral head is removed. The leg is bound for a few weeks, and the scar tissue forms to create a false joint. This seemed preferable for my little girl, and much less harsh than a total hip replacement. So that is what we did,

She came out of surgery just fine. It's tough enough for a 45 year old to do this. She handled it gracefully in her 70s. After a few days she was getting around on 3 legs just fine, and after 5 days, she was downright rowdy! I am certain I would have been in a nursing home if our positions were reversed.

When we got to the point where she needed to start using the leg, she suffered through physical therapy without complaint. Physical therapy for her consisted of me holding up her good leg and making her stand on the bad one. She did this with grace and ease, no complaints. It was so much better than the whiney, wimpy, complaining humans that I endure while going through physical therapy for a broken wrist.

The little girl made a full recovery. She is getting deaf now, but she is still expecting to play every night, and she still is active at 91 years old. I hope I can be as graceful in my old age as she is.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter of my Discontent and Glimmer of Hope

It has been a very rough start to the season. My early base went very well, was well ahead of where I had been in 2008/2009. Then I got KO'd with a whopping, almost fatal case of pneumonia. This destroyed my fitness. I'm not complaining, because I survived and emerged weak but undamaged. A major illness definitely puts things in perspective.

It took about 4 weeks to feel somewhat back to normal in terms of power. Low normal might be a better way to put it. At the same time all of this was going on, Louisville was getting whacked with the worst winter in years. Snow, extreme cold, wet when not snowing, all of that stuff we cyclists just hate. It has been miserable. So it's been a lot of trainer time, which in some ways has been very good considering the recovery from illness.

Then I managed to injure my shin. The accident was so stupid I'm not even going to explain it. I ended up with 30 stitches and another week off the bike. Fortunately, when I finally got back on my bike, I hadn't lost much fitness and the rest may have actually been beneficial.

I did a field test today. For those of you who don't know what a field test is, it is a way of setting a baseline and measuring progress of your training. It's usually an all out effort for a given distance or time. Field tests are very painful!

My field test was a 30 min test. I usually have a good idea of what the results are going to be, based on certain workouts. Given my weakened state, I had no idea of what I could do on this one. I knew what I'd like to do, but also knew that was unrealistic.

I did the test this afternoon. It was BRUTAL!!! The results, while not stellar, were not quite as bad as I expected. It gave me a glimmer of hope that my fitness is returning to normal. It's going to take a lot of work, and I'm going to get destroyed in early season races, but all is good. That glimmer is enough.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why Green?

Why green? Well, it matches my handlebar tape, that's why! I'm rather well known for my green handlebar tape. I wish I were better known for my palmares, but hey, such is life. Back in 1990 or so, I was racing my beloved Vitus 979 frame. This was a frame that my mother and father bought for me for my 20th birthday. I had replaced the Vitus with a beautiful red and white Guerciotti in 1988.

For some reason, the Guerciotti and I didn't get along. Part of it was mental. My mother had been an instrumental factor in getting my father to purchase the Vitus. It was my first real race bike. It was a great one too. That bike was spectacular. Not too long after getting my Vitus in 1985, my mother passed away on February 11, 1986. I cherished that bike.

But, like all bike racers, we're always looking for that edge and always for a new bike. My Guerciotti was a treat to myself for my first engineering co-op. It was a beautiful bike, but as I stated before, we just never clicked. Somewhere in 1990, I picked up my Vitus, now covered with dust, and noticed it was 3 lbs lighter. So I started riding it again. I rode better, further, faster. Suddenly, I was competitive in races again. It was like magic. It was almost as if, the Vitus embodied my mother's competitive spirit.

In 1991, I got knocked into a ditch during a training ride. I survived, but the Vitus didn't. It took a few weeks to realize this sad fact. I kept having trouble cornering, and it turned out the reason was the rear triangle was bent. It was devastating!!!! I had to switch back to the Guerciotti. It was a whole 3 lbs heavier, and it didn't have Mom's mojo. I spent a few days psyching myself up to ride the Guerciotti. Part of this involved building up the bike. Somewhere along the way, I noticed that in the Guerciotti decals, there was a bit of green. Considering the bike was red and white, it seemed natural to add the green handlebar tape to round out the Italiano look.

Well, for some reason the green handlebar tape sealed the deal. The Guerciotti and I got along great! The rest of the 1991 season went well, and I even upgraded to a cat 2! Being a bike racer, the Guerciotti got replaced with a Trek the next year, but the green handlebar taped stayed. I also noticed that it helped me get picked in race finishes. You see, I'm rather small, and I tend to get eclipsed by larger riders in finish line photos, but usually my handlebars can be seen. The green stands out!

So from there on, as long as I could find it, I had green handlebar tape. For some reason, other color tapes don't work quite as well. In 2006, I switched to orange to match my new team's colors. Well, that switch (both the tape and team) turned out to be disastrous. It took a full 3 years to recover!

Every now and then I think about switching colors. The green tape doesn't match my team's new kits. It's tempting, up until the point I remember the last time I changed colors...

Hello World!

Hello World is the first program a coder reads/writes when learning a new programming language. It's entirely appropriate my first entry in my new blog. I'm still thinking about all of the things I want to blog about. As the name of the blog implies, there is definitely going to be a lot about riding my bicycle or others riding/racing their bicycles. There will be the occassional race report as well as the occassional race rant.

Other topics will be software development, life, random musings and shoutouts (blogouts?) to others that are doing great things in the blogosphere.

So my plan tonight was to grab a quick dinner on the way home, let the food settle, let the dogs out, then jump on the trainer for 1.5 hours. Then I checked the work crackberry, which led to a code review, which led to a few very long emails (with more to come). The ride did not happen, which is irritating. It's my own fault. I violated my basic rule of "get on the bike before you do anything else."

The code review was a bit frustrating. The developers are offshore in India. The offshore team is a bunch of bright, eager individuals. But they are bright, young individuals without a lot of experience. They have been indoctrinated in the cult of "get it done, and get it done quickly." I want that too, but I also want it done well. This leads to the inevitable clash of desires. The developers are looking for "templates", where they can code within a well defined framework without giving it a lot of thought. Unfortunately, coding does require some thought.

I review the code, point out that such and such class has too many reponsibilities, or that the concepts that have been derived from the requirements are not quite the ones that immediately pop out as rational ones. This leads to a couple of hour meetings, and few more hours of crafting emails to further elaborate my points.

Fortunately, the offshore team is willing to learn. It's going to make them better developers, and it's going to teach me a few more things about working with offshore teams. It would be even better if this knowlege transfer was going to an associate in my company. That would be an investment, where now I've just trained someone who may not work on my company's projects again.

That aspect of the offshore model is incredibly frustrating. The constant rotation of developers means I have to teach the same concepts many times to the new inexperienced developers that rotate onto the project, while the newly experienced developers go on to bigger and better things.

At least it adds fuel to the fire to turn the pedals faster.