Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lessons from an inanimate object

When we are young we are taught by our parents we should be nice to every person, place or thing. They may be different from us but they are the way they are. It isn't worth trying to change those that don't want or don't need to be changed. We are taught that one's true beauty lies beneath the surface despite the immediate attractiveness or lack thereof. One which requires a true meaning of the word acceptance to fully see. A true friend will not only open your eyes to their beauty but in return their friendship will teach you the lessons of acceptance. The lessons of appreciating the beauty of people and things you previously may have thought didn't deserve your acceptance and understanding.

In the past four months, I have developed a new friendship. One that over the past twelve years I would have previously crossed the metaphoric street just so I wouldn't have to speak to or about the idea of spending any amount of time with this person. Only on the worst of rainy days, when no one else wanted to come out to play would I give this person an opportunity.

His name, Kurt.

Four months ago, I would hem and haw about the thought of working out with Kurt. It didn't take long however, for me to gain the trust in Kurt for what he was doing for me. He has tirelessly spun to help prepare me for my goals of this upcoming season. He hasn't asked for anything in return and doesn't complain when I drip hours of corrosive (to both metal and your nose) sweat on him. Like a dog who wants to run, he thrives on a little bit of my time and attention. As I prepare for the longest ride of my training block before heading to Texas in a few weeks, I find myself looking forward to spending another long night watching documentary after documentary once again with him.

Alice Walker once said, "No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow." Through my acceptance of him, he has never asked me to be quiet despite his intent to make the choose to continue throughout the night harder rather than easier. I no longer see the "evil" that others swear he possesses. I see the inner beauty of which he is comprised and that he spreads onto others. I take away from his friendship, a mind which is even more open than before. A mind that tries to understand rather than judge. For this, I am indebted and incredibly thankful for.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Calculations

Eggnog, carols, advent calendars, too much good cooking and family are all reasons why I love Christmas time. I like to think of myself as being a traditionalist when it comes to the Christmas which is why this is my favorite time of the year. My favorite thing about Christmas however, is that it holds the power to bring everyone home to be together even if it's for the shortest of days. Christmas to me means family and that will never change.

With friends, family and acquaintances all coming back home at some point during the last couple of weeks, I have been asked frequently why I like to do ultra endurance races. For the longest time, I didn't have an answer that even I believed. Sure I love to ride my bike, but that couldn't be the sole reason as to why I would want to put in as much work on the bike as I do.

Last Sunday, my family all got together and celebrated "Welch Family Christmas". This is the weekend when both of my siblings and their families come home to avoid the chaos of running around on Christmas Day. After watching my niece and nephews open their gifts with such honest excitement, I had an answer as to why I enjoy racing.

As I mentioned earlier, I define Christmas as simply "family". That is also how I will now define the reasoning behind my racing. You see, I couldn't race without the support of my loving wife and family. They are there to ensure I stay safe in the chasing of my dreams all the while cracking the whip to get the most out of me. They haven't missed a single race since the beginning. For that, I am grateful.

For the longest time, I hadn't realized that I was blessed more so than others. Instead of having just one Christmas a year, I can now use the following formula to calculate the number of Christmas' a year I get to celebrate. (1+X) where X=the number of races I enter in a given year. And that is all the motivation I need to put in the time on the bike this coming year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Night for Suede?

The day has come and tonight is the night.  As I sit here going over my presentation ten or eleven last times, my mind took a turn.  It is now questioning whether or not I can make it through an hour at the front of a room speaking to friends, family and strangers.  Will my legs buckle underneath me or will my normally cast iron stomach turn south robbing me of my dignity and ruining a pair of new suede shoes which belong to the unlucky soul in the front row who decided to wear them out on the town tonight?

After a few minutes of wearing a confused look on my face as the voices in my head debated all the possibilities, calmness returned.  After all, ultracycling is not only about having the power to turn the pedals over a hundred thousand times or the ability to sit on what some perceive to be such an uncomfortable seat for so long.  No, the hardest part for the rider is having the mental strength to know that everything they have done in the times leading up to the race was the work and now they can race the race while enjoying all that comes their way.  Having faith in the preparation will keep you calm when the time comes to do what you do.

I am honored to have been asked to do so and look forward to introducing the sport of Ultracycling to those who are able to come out to Endorphin Fitness (8908 Patterson Ave) tonight at 7pm.  The weather forecast isn't calling for rain so your shoes might even be safe.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

400 for 3000

Monday December 3rd at 7pm, I will be giving a presentation on my experiences while preparing to qualify for the Race Across America. We will touch on training, nutrition, the Ohio Challenge and the ultimate goal of RAAM. This presentation is open and free to everyone so invite your friends to come out to Endorphin Fitness (8908 Patterson Ave) with you. You can RSVP by emailing register@endorphinfitness.com

Thank you to Endorphin Fitness and Powerbar for hosting the event. I look forward to seeing everyone on Monday night.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Timing has Me Thinking

It's funny how things tend to fall into their places when they do.  When a string of things fall together at a seemingly unrelated time, it certainly makes believing there is a higher power involved with our lives very easy to do. 

A month ago, I returned home from Ohio where I qualified for the Race Across America.  Since then, I have spent a week relaxing, a week riding and two weeks of being sick.   I once worked for a gentleman who would preach "Failure to plan is planning for failure."  I am not sure who originally said this but it has stuck with me over the years.  As I began to feel better this week and my body was beginning to feel incredibly antsy, I started to look towards next year's training and racing.

Now, it's unrealistic that I get all my ducks in a row to take part in the RAAM in 2013 but I do plan on racing more and putting the training in so that 2014 isn't so unrealistic.  2014 would also be the last year of my current two year qualified status.  One night earlier this week while I was trying to put together a preliminary list of races I might have the slightest bit of interest in doing next year, I got the craving for a cold glass of juice.  

That is when the first of two signs arrived that would make me believe 2014 would be the year.  I reached into the fridge for the pitcher of juice and saw there was not enough left to fill my glass.  No worries, we always have an extra can of Dole's delicious 100% not from concentrate pineapple juice on hand.  As I was opening the new can, I couldn't help but notice the stamp on the top.  (Reminder that RAAM takes place in June every year.)


After letting that little nugget sink in, I went back to meticulously, putting together my extremely tentative race calendar.  Then on Thursday, after a long day of power testing and halloween hayrides I received a letter from the Executive Director of RAAM.  The second sign in as many days that 2014 should be the year.  It was something I had been dreaming of for a long time, my official invite to participate in the Solo Division of the Race Across America.

How all of these things could happen within days of each other is beyond me.  With the exception of one of us, the timing of these events was certainly out of our control.  Whether 2014 becomes a reality or not, only time will tell.  One thing we can be sure of, is they have given me an incredible amount of motivation to continue working hard down this path.  And I intend to do so.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sinking In

A week ago yesterday, I was able to finish a chapter of a long time dream of mine when I crossed the finish line of the Ohio Challenge.  By crossing the line in less than the allotted 34 hours, I became qualified to race in the solo division of what is renowned as the hardest race in cycling, the Race Across America.

As I sit here now, I am still taken back by the outpouring of support I have received from not just friends and family but also from complete strangers.  People who I have never met and seemingly had nothing in common with were sending motivating messages throughout the day and night.  The phone ringing throughout the night despite my inability to press the correct  button which would allow me to actually talk to the caller. Instead I denied 90% of the calls and just kept riding through dark cornfields repeating to myself over and over again, "Hello? Hello? Helllloooo?"

Combine all of those messages with the handful of conversations and emails I have received who have made reference to how my racing had inspired them to do more with their lives not only in a fitness sense but to lead a more fruitful life in a general everyday sense, all have me reevaluating the reasoning I was reintroduced to a bicycle years after I stopped riding one as a kid.

When I started this journey, I had nothing but selfish reasons to attempt and complete the qualification process.  I am humbled in knowing that I am not alone when I am on the bike.  I am excited to see what is to come in the future as I prepare for racing lots of shorter and even a few longer distances next year.

The question I am asked the most "When will you be doing RAAM?" is a tough question to answer as I am not completely sure when the right time will be.  The one thing I do know is that being surrounded by all of the best coaches in endurance sports, the best of friends who continually inspire me on a daily, the most loving wife who accepts and tolerates every crazy idea that passes from my brain to my mouth and a family who are all willing to go to the end of the earth to make my dreams come true there isn't an easier answer to give.  Soon, very soon.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mixing Concrete

Over the last few months, I have been sharing a lot of my other hobbies and passions with all the interwebs to see both here and over on the book of faces.  Most of the sharing comes in the form of pictures of food I am either about to throw on a grill, something already on the grill or something just off the grill.  I very rarely share the recipes, only drool inducing photos.  Today, I thought I would share with you a recipe I have been perfecting for years.  A recipe so good, it could win a blue ribbon at any local 4H competition, how to properly mix concrete in your legs.

Anyone who has swung there leg over a bicycle either recreationally or competitively has at one time or another either experienced heavy or cramping legs.  Legs that just don't want to move.  Legs that have been set into concrete.  Follow these easy steps for your very own DIY concrete legs or do the exact opposite if you aren't the following type.


  1. Prep work is key.  If the area in which you are mixing the concrete isn't cleaned out properly the concrete will not settle and harden as it should.  The day before you are scheduled to pour the concrete, go out for a long hard ride.  This will ensure your leg cavities no longer have any toxins in them.  It also helps tear the muscle fiber in the tiniest of bits which allows the concrete to properly adhere to your quadriceps.  Proper rehydration is not suggested.  Have you ever tried pouring concrete straight into a lake?
  2. The morning of the pour, you may start to take in some fluids.  I recommend one glass of fluid in the early morning and that is it.  Be careful though, too much fluid and you will ruin the consistency of the mix which prevents the concrete from setting up perfectly.
  3. Follow that up with a long day in the hot sun.  You do not have to be doing anything active, just be out there.  This is when the pouring actually takes place.
  4. After a long day in the sun and the temperatures start to fall outside, you may have your first and only bite to eat for the day.  This bite needs to be in the form of pure junk.  Something with a good bit of sugar in it but with nothing of good nutritional value.  Gummy Bears, Mike & Ikes and vegan cupcakes all work well with two of the three tasting much better than the third. Certainly, nothing with protein.  Protein will start to speed up the body's attempt to repairing your torn muscles fibers which you worked so hard to rip in step one.  You might as well be breaking out a jackhammer!  
  5. The sugar you just took in will give your body just enough energy to keep the concrete from freezing overnight.  Frozen uncured concrete will crack a lot easier than if it cures fully.  Now go to bed.
  6. After waking up, go for another ride and reap the fruit of your labor.  If you followed the recipe exactly, you will be blessed with legs too heavy to move and your friends will think they are getting faster because they can actually keep up with you.