Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Born to Ride

Let's be honest, bike racing is a sport that requires a lot of stuff. The only sport that could warrant more gear is triathlon, where you are required to having running stuff and swimming stuff, in addition to biking stuff. But, I bet most cyclists have more bikes than triathletes, so we probably still got the most stuff. It can be a pain in the ass, and a little overwhelming. Sometimes I get damn tired of all the stuff, especially when it starts to have problems. When I get a flat tire, I want to just leave the damn thing there and go for a run. But that wouldn't work, and not just because cycling cleats make really shitty running shoes. I've ran before, I ran cross country for a season, and it just isn't as fulfilling. There is something magical about riding a bike. About being able to traverse 100km or more in a day, and then  being able to get up and do it all again. It feels a little like cheating. And a little like flying.

There is another reason running and I don't get along. Every time I try to take up running seriously, it seems like I get injured. That season of cross country I ran was cut short by a bad case of shin splints. I have pretty flat feet or whatever, and maybe I'm just not born to run. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, because I actually love running when it doesn't hurt. But all too often it does. Riding a bike can certainly hurt, but it's the good pain of getting stronger. Not the bad pain of fracturing your tibia. And that's what all that stuff is so good for. It's like the ultimate in motion control footwear. Every impact is cushioned through tires and a frame, and the human body works magically more efficiently astride this steed. It's a perfect cyborg symbiosis of man and machine. Face it: we were born to ride.

The trusty steed atop an Alsacian Vineyard.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Images of Spring

Today's blog post is all about pictures I've taken over the last couple weeks when things have started to get a little springy. Today it was gray and raining again. Hopefully by putting these out here God will see my preference for the sun, and change the weather accordingly.

Isn't this nice?

Just some chopped wood, because, you know, nature?

More nature.

Pretty water

I think a wizard lives here

I'm not that into fishing, but who doesn't like just standing around in the sun?

This is a line of jager bombs. I didn't see this on a bike ride.

In Alsace, these are mountains.

Damn, canal-tastic.

A little something for the pavĂ© enthusiast 

I think I just want to take pictures whenever the sky is blue. Just to remind myself that it happens sometimes.

Cockpit shot.
Onward and upward!
Until next time.
Kyle McCall

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Wait, what was I gonna talk about? Oh yeah...
Before I do that though, I should check my facebook, and my email, and listen to that new JT song, and water my cats, and eat more carbs. You've probably been told this a million times before, but we are just to distracted nowadays. I myself struggle with being in the moment. In class, talking to friends, or even on the bike I am there but it can be challenging to keep the mind focused on the task at hand. There are broader levels of focus too. Beyond just being attentive to the moment, there is long term focus. This is an area where cycling has really benefited me. Maintaining the discipline and the focus to train every day and live the healthy lifestyle that supports recovery is a constant challenge. There are days when its easy and other days – when it is near freezing, raining, and I didn't get enough sleep – that it can truly be a challenge. When we lose focus, in the moment or in the long term, things can become overwhelming. What was once a passion that stirred excitement to think about becomes a dirge. It's easy to get lost and forget why we ever set out towards a distant goal in the first place. This is when a strong sense of self discipline and focus becomes most important.

Young rising star Joe Dombronski exhibits some complete concentration at the end of this time trail. Photo source:

Whatever I've done in my life, there have been times when I've wanted to quit. Whether it's school, or a relationship, or a job, or cycling. Sometimes it just becomes so hard that to continue doesn't seem worth it, no matter how motivated I once was. I can't go on. I must go on.

There are times when I loose my focus with cycling. Times when I get up and the last thing I want to do is pull on my kit and do the scheduled workout. When those times happen, I take a deep breath and meditate on the things I love about my sport. I think about the joy of motion that brought me here in the first place. And while there are times that it is hard, my journey with the bike has been one of the most rewarding challenges I've ever undertaken. This is directly related to how hard it is. Nothing easily gotten is worth having, as they say. It is the inherent challenge in many tasks that gives them value. This what we need to remember when we start to lose focus. It may damn well be hard, but sometimes that's just how life is. Accept that, buckle down, and do the work. After it's done, you can look back at what you've accomplished and feel the pride of knowing that your could have quit at any time, and a lot of times you probably wanted to, but you didn't. And you may well find that this is addictive. Before you know it, your innate response to challenges will be to overcome them. Focus leads to focus.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Many of my regular readers may be lamenting the lapse in posts over the past couple weeks, but I can assure you I am back now and feeling refreshed. I had a great break and was delighted to travel about some of Europe. I manged to visit London, Berlin, and Amsterdam, three beautiful cities and it was truly an awesome break. Now that I'm back in Strasbourg I've been pleasantly surprised to find that Spring has sprung!

Springtime on the Canals

Spring means many things. It means the leaves are coming back to the trees and flowers are blooming. Love will be surely sprouting up as well. It also means spring cleaning and spring classics.
That's right, bike racing is starting to rev up with Paris-Nice practically in my bike yard not to mention Roubaix and Amstel Gold. It's good to live in Europe. I've been cleaning my act up as well as I enter the period titled "build" on my six month training plan. That means harder intervals, threshold work, and real sprints. Yum! To commemorate the coming of the news season and beautiful weather it was time to really clean the bike and reshave the legs. I've been wearing tights since the end of 'cross season, but I can feel the guns craving some vitamin D in the beau temps.

Cleaning my bike in the bathroom