Thursday, February 17, 2011

87 Cents

I picked up my wheel from Mad Cat Bikes on Monday. The bill for fixing, and truing my crashed rear wheel? A whopping 87 cents! :-O  Are these guys the greatest, or what?!

I have been talking to Eddy about Mad Cat starting an in-house wheel building service. The only thing better than having custom built wheels, is having them built by a local builder. You can see, and feel the materials before choosing them, make sure the builder knows your requirements, weight, size, riding style.

When things go wrong, there's no slow and expensive shipping getting in the way of your riding schedule either. Mad Cat offered to fix my wheel while I waited!

With a good build, and builder, wheels are forever. New spokes as needed, new rims when worn, but hubs last forever, so the wheel goes on. Besides, you can get cool builds like my 14/15 drive side, 14/17 non-drive side, or this cross-wind shrugging 2-forward, 2-back lacing! Factory wheels suck. You can do so much better having your wheels custom made.

See the 4 open voids cross-winds slip through?
Raining cats and dogs, a few small sheep, and a goat or two right now. Kind of goes with the 45 mph wind gusts that woke me up as they made my apt building moan. Man, that brought some old memories to life, living in Minn where the NW winds howled night and day, sliced right through our farm grove, and the side of our first farm house. To this day I love thick socks, because the floor was always so cold when I was a toddler.

Of course, it'll be great skiing weather for President's Day, if the wind dies down enough for them to reopen the lifts - as is forecast. There should be some epic Blue Powder days on tap this weekend. Dry powder too!

I'm half-way healed up from my collar bone break, and starting to get itchy. The shoulder sure is a complex matrix of bones, cartilage and tendons. When the thickness and shape of the collar bone changes, lots, and lots of things have to make adjustments. I'm hopeful I will make a full recovery, but suspect I will have rotator cuff problems on strenuous days. As long as the pain is tolerable, which I expect it will be, I'll take it in stride.

To cope with sitting on my butt for 3 months, I shut off all the feeds from my bike clubs. It's just too frustrating for me otherwise. I decided to check in the other night though, and saw that a friend did Solvang, and another is doing the El Camino Double this weekend. That might turn into a swim meet if the weather forecast doesn't change, but that's part of the challenge, isn't it?

One of our members was hit from behind by a car and is in bad shape. Coma, may be paralyzed below the waist - most of the Gabby Giffords issues. Matt was one of those guys that rides everywhere, all the time, and leads or rides the very toughest club rides. Lit up like a Christmas tree and in the bike lane, but clocked by a driver who drifted over a little paint on the road. Paint ain't enough. Cyclists need physical barriers to be safe.

What cycling needs, more than any other thing though, is a legal defense fund to try high-profile cases, and change the legal environment until we have the legal protections we deserve when we ride. MALDEF is a good example of one that works. The current environment is just intolerable, and that negatively impacts every aspect of cycling. Anyone know if Lady Gaga rides? This issue needs an advocate.

Although largely sedentary to date, I am hitting the books pretty hard these days as my fatigue has finally started to dissipate. As much as I hated having to lose a molar that was too far gone to save, not having the chronic infection is a huge boost to my energy level. I guess that's why they make implants these days. Looking forward to hitting the Elliptical Machine, and maybe the treadmill. Back to the books for now....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sheltered from Success

I've learned a lot about the mindset of competition, and of winning the last few years while training to meet my goals and learning a tremendous amount about physiology, nutrition, hydration and personal limits. In the process I've gotten a good glimpse into the attitude athletes develop to succeed.

Athletes don't give up or quit because something looks or appears impossible. You actually have to prove to them that they can't win, or beat you, by beating them. They won't accept a prospective outcome. As they say, "that's why they play the game". Epic upsets happen all the time in sports when underdogs win. The point of competition is to put to rest speculation about what could be by execution to create a certainty.

Looking back over 25 years in corporate life, it was quite an epiphany that this isn't what happens in corporate life at all. Corporations very rarely bet their whole existence by fighting against long odds. A good example was the way GM saw the handwriting on the wall for years, yet did nothing to improve its long-term competitive position. IBM nearly succumbed to the same.

In general, corporate management is about managing risks so you NEVER bet the company, but take the sure bet, pick the low-hanging fruit, and hope some new disruptive technology or force doesn't render that strategy a slow death or outright disaster. In short, corporations do local optimization, not global optimization. They don't look for an optimal solution starting from a radical new departure point. They look for an optimal solution starting near where they are right now, and figure that will be good enough. Pickett's Charge was a local optimization. MacArthur's landing at Inchon was a global optimization.

When you look at companies that have succeeded wildly, they are headed up by individuals, or a small teams that believe in themselves and will fight for their vision - usually a radical vision. These are risk-takers, not risk managers. They will only accept globally optimal solutions - or failure. They may fail, but not until they have given it their all. Failure is something that must be proven to them. They aren't going to take anyone's word, or forecast, or prognostication for it. They're going for it.

I find I'm starting to approach decision making from a whole new perspective now, making the most of the opportunity sports affords one to take the great risks required to break through perceived limits. We may not be afforded the chance to globally optimize at our corporate jobs, but through sports, we can learn how this is successfully accomplished.

The art of winning isn't a spectator sport, and it doesn't come from looking at a predicted chain of events, and managing risks against that. It comes from putting your toe on the line and executing a dynamic, morphing plan to find a way to a win. The USMC expresses this as Boyd's OODA Loop. After 25 years working in risk management, that's Quite an epiphany!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Black Days

Woke up a few days ago with Sound Garden's "Black Days" running through my head. My mood was even blacker. Four weeks on I shouldn't be so tired and hurt so much. Turns out I was right. My dentist appointment turned up a molar in bad need of some TLC. Root canal and 2 weeks of antibiotics, but a week into the meds my energy level is much better. Didn't think a broken bone should be kicking my butt that bad.

About that. I happened to be looking at the X-Rays again and noticed there is a scale ruler on the bottom of the straight-on film. Based on that, the longitudinal break was almost 4" long. That's a lot more bone surface to heal up than a clean snap break (with two very sharp edges that caused all the bleeding seen in the bruising), so pretty happy it's been healing up well the last week, and I've gotten a lot of my mobility back. I can even interlace my fingers above my head - and it feels good too.

Will have to pull the back wheel off the bike this week and take it to Mad Cat to get the kicked spoke replaced. Find myself looking at the Performance Bike Shop spam I get emailed, so probably be riding again by the time the Pro teams show up to practice for the Amgen Tour of California again this year.

It's going to be the best one yet, with some super tough stages. The one I'm thrilled about will be stage #2 from Lake Tahoe to Sacramento. That's about 7,000 ft downhill. Don't know what the course is yet, but AFAICT, I-80 is the only way down in parts, so look for a scorching fast stage.

I enjoyed myself a 2-day grunge-fest, after which my spirits were much better, and like the song says, "I sure don't mind the change".