Sunday, September 25, 2011

TIme to move on ...

It's been a while ... took some time to lick wounds after SM100 ... and weather has more or less sucked throughout the month of September anyway. But now I'm back to training again. I've got one more race I'm registered for this season, but it's not for another two months. It's the Something Wicked "Six Hours of Cathedral Pines", a race I accidentally stumbled upon last year and had an absolute ball doing, even though I had a nasty sinus infection the day of. It isn't a hard course -- basically ten mile loops without a stitch of climbing. Super fast and fun, and the organizers and crowd were really cool. It was a great way to end the season, and this year I'm going back with a goal of getting eight laps. I did seven last year while I was sick, and that was even with a mechanical issue that took me 15 minutes to fix. I ended up doing the 7 laps in about 6:24, so my goal this year is to knock that ten minutes off (excluding the mechanical downtime) and have the option to head out for an eighth.

Anyway, I have been riding since SM100. Just haven't really been doing any "training". Yesterday, I went back to the gym. Well, actually, I went to my "new" gym. But that's a whole other story.

Okay, here's the brief story.

For the past 11 years, I was first a member and ultimately a Spinning Instructor for a gym in Chalfont, PA called "Better Bodies". Since I started working out when I first went to college, I have been a member at nine different gyms and Better Bodies was so far and away the best of them that there really is no comparison. A lot of this is due tot he owner, Ken. What made his gym special was that he always paid attention to the condition of everything, and he wouldn't compromise. Ever. The best equipment, the cleanest workout areas, and he knew pretty much every single member by name. He paid attention to how you worked out and made suggestions when there may be a better way, even if you weren't a training client. Over time, I came to consider him a really good friend and much of my own life centered around his gym. I met the guys who got me into racing there. Almost every one int his area I consider a friend is from that gym. And most importantly, I met my wife there! So, without any exaggeration, I can say that Ken and his gym are in a big way responsible for much of what my life has become, and I mean that in the best way.

About a year ago, Ken was forced to shut his gym down temporarily while he built a sought a new location (and moved all his gear there.) He re-opened after 4 months, but the new location was much smaller and it never really hit the stride of the old place. In the beginning of August, after about a year of ups and downs, Ken was forced to shut the doors for good. There was a lot of very pissed off people after that -- people were accusing Ken of ripping them off by taking membership fees when he knew tht he was under lien. As someone who knew him for a very long time, I know that;s not true. Yes, he did accept new members even as the gym was in trouble. But he did it not to take the money and run from his creditors. He did it to try to save his business by pumping up the memberships. Was the short-sighted? Perhaps. But anyone who knew him knew that he was an all-or-nothing, emotional kind of guy. And his efforts, while ultimately fruitless, had a motive to keep his business going and continue to offer the best gym in the region to his members, and he wanted to do it on his own. That might have been his fatal mistake, but it wasn't done in an effort to screw anyone over. It was done to save his business in a tough time.

So anyway, I was forced to join a new gym. In all honesty, I don't yet have a reasonable sample to compare it to the old one. But it is a larger facility, with a pool and basketball court, so it may give me a chance to mix things up a bit this off-season. That'll be a nice change. I've already seen that I'll have to compromise on the quality of the equipment, but I expected that. As for Spinning, I'm done with instructing. I have no qualms about that - it gives me some time back for other things. I guess, like everything else, things change and you have to roll with it. But I will always have a special place in my heart for Better Bodies and all the great people I had the privilege to know there.

Back to training -- got out today for a long ride in Philly on the Misfit. It's so nice to be back on the singlespeed. The last few weeks before SM100, I was usually on the OCLV, which is a great bike, but at this point, I am pretty much a full-on singlespeed/29er guy. In keeping with the "things change" theme, I've made a few (more) adjustments to it since we last saw it. Primarily, I added bar ends this weekend and today was my first ride with them. I know bar ends have been out of vogue since the 90's, but I think they are a great component to have on any singlespeed. If nothing else, they give you new hand positions, and for anyone who races SS enduros, that alone is reason enough to add them. But I definitely felt an advantage on the climbs, too. I'll post some pictures of the whole bike soon, but so far, after 28 miles in Valley Green, I'm totally happy with the new setup.

Hopefully the weather will let me get out more this week. I've got some work to do to get ready if I really want to go for 80 miles on Long Island in November.

Coming soon: I'll be on vacation! And then it'll be time to think about what this blog is going to be all about from now on. I don't plan on doing as much racing next year, so I'll have to figure out what I want to do with this. I don't want to stop, and I'll certainly be riding and doing a few races, so I guess I'l have to give it some thought. Until then, here's today's ride:

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